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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Hatrack Groups » WOTF Critique Group--Q2 2015

   
Author Topic: WOTF Critique Group--Q2 2015
axeminister
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Since we don't have a topic for this one (We miss you Dan!) I'm starting one. [Cool]

Please post all things related to Q2 here.

If you need a critique, full or partial, swaps, if you're *in* and of course how you fared!


As for me, I'm writing my first draft. I'm around 2k in. Considering today is the 15th of January, I'm ahead of the game!

Axe

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Will Blathe
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Yay!

(I'm not so sure of myself) I have 0 words in, but this thread may fix that.

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wetwilly
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I'm in. Haven't written word 1 of a story, yet, but I'll come up with one. Happy to crit any of you when you need it.
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Bent Tree
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I'm in. I have been gone a while but I am back to writing full time. Last and only time I entered this thing I got an HM.... Man! that was a long time ago.

Let's fill up the podium this quarter!

So Dan is gone, huh? I will step up and help as much as I can, Axe.

My writing is on fire right now. I am in the zone. Goal is a story a week which has been happening. I will chose one or write one by a first deadline. As I remember these groups usually had two draft deadlines and everyone swapped crits. Quarters where we had huge groups we plot up into pods of about eight so we wouldn't get overloaded.

I am willing to take on up to eight. I can also help with discussing plots and premise. Me and a few of the old Hatrackers found this to be helpful. It solves a lot of problems before too much time is spent writing a draft that has huge holes in the plot or some other malady.

Anyone interested in this, let me know.

I am in it to win it!

[ January 19, 2015, 10:26 PM: Message edited by: Bent Tree ]

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Bent Tree
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If everyone is starting some scratch, I propose we do an outline summary exchange. Perhaps even have character interviews as our first exchange and then a solid first draft swap. After that final edit swaps can be arranged on a request basis with other members of the group? Just a thought.

I remember how daunting it was at times trying to offer critique on 8 stories twice per quarter, only to see that some had barely edited a few sentences.

I am up for anything though. I say lets make this group the ten per centers! HM's or up!

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Smiley
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Can you please explain how this works. I seem to have mislaid my brain someplace.
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LDWriter2
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I should have posted this last night or even the night before:

First I'm surprise there are a few here who are doing this quarter. Last quarter we only had couple, maybe three, I think.

Anyway. My story is already finished and over half way revised. I cheated though [Wink] I started this story months ago and for various reasons never finished it, it was almost done so I finished it a month ago.

It may just have some of the twists that Dave usually likes. We shall see of course.

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wetwilly
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Anybody else already started your story? I've started mine three or four times. Each time I get a little closer to an approach I like. This is a pretty ambitious story--possibly more than I have the skills to handle--but no risk, no reward, right?
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Bent Tree
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I have a draft. Anyone else still have a dog in this fight?
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wetwilly
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I'm still trying to pull my dog out of the birth canal, but I'll take a read.

Wait, before I commit, how long is it?

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Bent Tree
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5k ish. i posted it in frags but no one bit
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wetwilly
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Send it on over. I'll read it.
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Bent Tree
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Anyone doing this thing? or am I gonna win it?
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Will Blathe
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I'm treading water. I'm not sure about what I want to write.

I remember, digging around the cramped bits of my brainpan, that there were some references to what was the best way to go about a submission -- something about styles of conflict and all that. I figured I'd ask about that here, seeing as here is the WOTF thread.

Thank you much,

Will

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Kent_A_Jones
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Hi Will,
I've been trying to crack WOTF for a couple of years and have 4 of 7 entries that have made HM.

That said, based on his blogs, beyond any other metric, Dave prizes originality. Good stories need conflict twists and surprises (ones that are logical outgrowths of situation and character, but are nonetheless, unexpected by the reader: Think, laughing when a bully threatens rather than cowering - imagine a character that would do it.)

I have recently decided to define originality, not as an off-the-wall new situation or trouble for the MC, but as a new or surprising way of resolving a familiar situation or trouble. Think of traditional problems/conflicts and discard the traditional solutions.

More technically, based on forwards for stories in WOTF volumes, Dave looks for genre and type when filling up the book. If he has a good High Fantasy already, he may be looking for an Urban Fantasy. It appears that he is always looking for good Hard SF. I don't do it myself, but quarterly winners might be tracked based on title and a writer might rule out a certain genre based on this kind of speculation. While I believe that genre has slight weight in deciding between two equally good stories, I think quality always wins.

The contest can be approached even more technically if you wish. Read the books and read the judges' blogs. Read any of the popular posts that Dave has made regarding the creation of speculative fiction. Sign up at WOTF and start a thread in their forums asking for advice; you will get links to everything. I only read the books and Dave's advice, believing that too much thought to winning leaves too little thought to entertaining readers.

Write with originality about a subject that you love speculating about. Good luck,
Kent

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axeminister
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Will,

If you want to send me your e-mail, I have a template that I've created that may help. It's not a rule, but more of a guideline.

I've also created a thread on the WotF forums that shows where you can find additional finalists above and beyond those that win. Let's face it, 13 stories a year is just not enough, right? [Smile]

Besides, while those are stories that Dave chose, there are five more per quarter that had an equal chance of winning, but didn't. They were just as noteworthy to Dave - the guy who will be reading *your* story.

http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2081

You should be able to view that without having to join the forum, but I do recommend signing up.

If you're obsessed, like me, you'll read any semi-finalists you can get your hands on, but those are more difficult to come by, and may require some PMs. But if you ask people maybe 6mo to a year later, and inquire as to where it's published so you may read it, I bet you'll have good luck.

As much as I read the kicks, and Dave's writing books, it's reading the stories he picks that has done more for me than anything. WotF stories have a certain feel for them. Although they are all over the map genre wise, they are identifiable after a while just as one might identify an Analog story, or an IGMS story.

And, IMO, if you read them long enough, you'll start to write them. Of course, this hinges on being obsessed, like me. I write almost nothing else, so I don't mind writing like them. Some people are just talented and can win by submitting whatever. Not me. I'm all hard work.

So if you want info on how to nose/grindstone, let me know. But if you just want to write and have fun and submit and see what happens, go for it. I think there are more winners on talent, than by my method. [Embarrassed]

@Kent
From what I understand, Dave chooses the top story in each genre. i.e. 1 space story, 1 urban fantasy story, 1 high fantasy story, etc. This is how he gathers the top 8. So, your job is to write the top story in the genre. It might feel like more pressure, but it's actually less, because you're competing against less folks.

My Q2 is "space". So, I'm busting my hump to write the best space story he'll see this quarter. The *best*.

Axe

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Kent_A_Jones
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Thank you for the info, Axe,
See Will?
There is enough research out there to fill any gaps you might be unclear on for contest entries. I encourage anyone to do as much as they can. I have an article by David Farland entitled, How to Win Writing Contests and Big Publishing Contracts, that Joni Labaqui sent out a few months back. If you want it, drop me an email.

I enter the contest to measure my writing skills. MS Communication classes take up my research time, but I applaud writers like axminister who trouble themselves with this kind of research. Other than learning how to write well, identifying the audience for your writing is the most important thing you can do.

I write for a generalized SF & F audience at the moment. However, WotF is judged by the most discerning audience that an unpublished speculative fiction writer will likely ever see. Authors, Editors and teachers, they all have track records that can be studied. I have no doubt that if one writes a story that answers every question that can be researched on these pillars of our community, one will also be writing a story that wins, and launches a career.

Good Luck,
Kent

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Will Blathe
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Kent_A_Jones, axeminister: thank you both. I appreciate the information.

I find it interesting that there is a "feel" for WotF stories. I'm now itching to get the chance to read a few.

Axe, after I posted my question, I did find the WotF forums, but I haven't had the chance to participate yet (I hope to change that). I'm now going to read those stories in that wonderful link!

Kent, regarding your mention of genre, that's a toughy for me. I drift a lot when I try to write. I think that's an area I will need to work on.

You both may have noticed that it took me awhile to respond. It's not that I ignored you, it's that I forgot about the existence of Hatrack for a time. I have a nasty case of adult ADD, and it does its best to screw with my ability to use social media, being that it's often so time sensitive.

BTW- I think I'll have to take you both up on your offers.

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Will Blathe
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Holy Canoli! Axe, I just read (and listened to one) some of the stories you referenced:

http://forum.writersofthefuture.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2081


Kary English is my favorite so far when it comes to emotional impact.

I either want to write more or give up in disgust.


I think I'll write (:

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Kent_A_Jones
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Will,
Windows didn't find the web page listed in your profile. Left click on my name to go to my Hatrack profile page where my email is listed and I'll get that article to you.

Genre is only a way for editors and publicists to categorize work (They love data). Milieu defines genre. The basic forms we deal with are Hard Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction and Fantasy. If unusual actions within a story can be explained by real world science, then it's Science Fiction. If unusual actions can only be explained by magic or the occult, then it's Fantasy. Hard SF is hard science based. Soft SF is fantasy with space ships. (BTW, I welcome other definitions.)

Invent your own milieu (setting, physical rules, government, religion, social structure, technological level, etc. down to the little stuff) and adhere strictly to it so you can immerse your reader in it. (Note: this last is my biggest pet peeve with the stories I've read over on Critters. Never, never violate the rules of your own milieu. You will lose your reader and the contest.) (Speaking to the ADD: write all elements of milieu in outline form so you can refer to them. It's fun and habit forming.) Then write your story and let somebody else tell you what genre it's in.

About the contest: If you complete two equally good stories in three month's time, and one is SF while the other is F, take a look at stories that have already won for the WotF fiscal year. If more Fantasies are in, simple, send the SF. It doesn't happen to me on my schedule because I scramble to get one good story done in three months.

Thanks to Kathleen and the rest of the WotF Q2 folks for letting me have the floor. As always, if I write here, I'll be happy to crit your stories, whether I have one in time or not.
Kent

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axeminister
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Kent A Jones wrote "About the contest: If you complete two equally good stories in three month's time, and one is SF while the other is F, take a look at stories that have already won for the WotF fiscal year. If more Fantasies are in, simple, send the SF. It doesn't happen to me on my schedule because I scramble to get one good story done in three months."

Kent, I must respectfully disagree with this for two reasons. 1. It's difficult to know what's won, unless you know each of the winners and have read their stories. 2. Dave chooses genre anew each quarter. 8 stories. 1 Hard sci-fi, 1 high fantasy, etc, etc. So it's unlikely there will be a plethora of fantasy in the winners per quarter, because there's only likely to be one fantasy finalist per quarter. Even if Fantasy wins Q1, and Q2, and you enter a fantasy for Q3, you have the same chance of being the fantasy that gets selected that quarter, and the max that will be in the antho is 4.

Now, fantasy is a broad term, but if I explained myself properly, you'll see how it's difficult for the antho to be crowded with a particular genre. It all starts at the finalist level, and Dave filters those.

Enter your *best* story per quarter. Don't go nuts trying to figure out what's won. The only competition is the other people in your quarter, in your genre. Go get em!

Axe

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axeminister
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Will,
I wish I connected with Kary's emotional impact. She speaks of it often, and is very popular for it, but I like her writing for other reasons.

If Vegas had odds for the gold award, I'd put my money on her for V.31.

Axe

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Will Blathe
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Axe & Kent, hello again! I've tunneled back into the interwebs to get back here. It's sometimes a task for me to remember my online bits.

Kent: I don't have a webpage per se. I keep getting distracted before I can do anything with one :P I'll do the clicky thing for that article -- thanks!

I would like to do some critique stuff. I'm working on outlining my story. Usually I'm a half-pantser, but this time I'm going super outliny.

Axe: interesting regarding emotional impact... I'm curious about what about Kary's work really gets you.


Will

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LDWriter2
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I forget if I mentioned that I was working on one or not but mine is in.

As usual lately it could very well be my best writing so far even though so far that hasn't meant much.

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dkr
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Hey folks! JUST got back in the Treehouse. Am I too late to get in on this round? I have read 3 volumes of WotF cover to cover and will be scouting the above posted sites. Would love to join in but may be too late for this quarter.
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wetwilly
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Got mine in. I'm usually early, but this one was a last-minute sub.
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Will Blathe
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Well, I didn't come close to making it this round, but I'm steaming ahead at a snails pace to try to get something together for the next round. Here's to trying!
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axeminister
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Will,

I like Kary's technical aspects. No one can cover as much ground in a single paragraph as her. You read in the help books to "make every sentence count" or "each paragraph should build toward the climax". I think that's a bunch of stress-inducing hooey. Each paragraph should be a puzzle piece of the story. That's what Kary does.

I didn't get an entry in this quarter either. I had one, but it just wasn't working. I'm rewriting it (again) now. [Frown]

Axe

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axeminister
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How are folks faring?

Anyone get the "first pass" e-mail?

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wetwilly
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Just the "not yet judged" email for me.
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LDWriter2
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I haven't updated this for a while.

But to my surprise I received the not judged yet E-mail too. Some got Rs evidently but only a small number and this time I wasn't one of them.

And as of about an hour ago still no word. Which means the couple of weeks prediction was optimistic.

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