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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Writing Challenges » MidSommer Madness (Page 1)

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Author Topic: MidSommer Madness
mikemunsil
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With thanks to Kathleen for allowing me to post this here:

In June I will be starting a new challenge series, Midsommer Madness. It is designed for writers who will be participating in NaNoWriMo in the Fall. Since this challenge appears on Liberty Hall's public pages, I thought that Hatrack writers might also wish to take advantage of it.

The way to do that would just be to set up your own Midsommer Madness group at Hatrack to exchange critiques. Hatrackers would not have to be members of LH or anything. They would just be taking advantage of the fact that the challenge will appear on LH's public pages. We already have others who use our triggers for their own challenges, so we have no problem at all with Hatrack taking advantage of this one. I think of it as a way to pay back to Hatrack a bit for all the good advice I received here.

Totally up to you, of course. Here's a link to learn more about the challenge:

http://www.libertyhallwriters.org/challenges/midsommer-madness/

Mike Munsil


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Unwritten
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That sounds so cool. I'll do it! The problem is outlining an awesome idea in June and then waiting til November to write it. But still! I'm in.
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mikemunsil
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Hope you enjoy it. I think you'll find that there's lots you can do once you have your outline complete, that will fill the time.

You could, for example, get together with some others and do some world-building. Although there's a tiny little whiff of world-building in this challenge, it isn't really enough.

You can find some writing tools and info on world-building at Liberty Hall's wiki, located here:

http://wiki.libertyhallwriters.org/doku.php?id=resources:resources_for_writers


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annepin
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I agree. This does sound very cool. I try to remember to check back in June.
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Natej11
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Count me in.
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mikemunsil
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someone here should set things up with Kathleen ahead of time, to prepare a password-enabled forum etc

or not, as you guys choose


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Unwritten
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How does one go about doing that?
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mikemunsil
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1. see how many people you can get to try the challenge
2. email Kathleen to tell her that # people would like to try this, but that in order to do so, you need a password-protected forum, then ask her politely if she is willing to create one for you
3. IF Kathleen agrees, she will tell you when it is ready, how to log in etc. There is no guarantee that Kathleen will agree.
4. IF Kathleen does not agree, just get back to me and I'll set you up at LH if you like
5. once you have a password-protected forum, everyone who is joining in should make a topic under their username.
6. once the challenge starts, the user should do the daily activity and post it (daily) as a reply to their topic.
7. when asked to as an activity, the user should go to other members' topics and critique.

[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited April 14, 2009).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Urk!

Kathleen is not sure she wants to try to do that.

All a password I set up will do is limit who can post in a topic. It won't keep anyone from reading. (I don't set up the Literary Boot Camp forums, which can keep non-members from reading the posts.)


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mikemunsil
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I understand completely.

Here's another way to do it.

1) follow the daily instructions, except for when it says to post to your forum (in LH), or when it says to read and critique other people's work, then:

Just share everything via email.


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oliverhouse
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WouldBe brought this to my attention.

We could host a forum on Flash Fiction Online for the purpose. People would just have to register over there and tell me that they want to be a part of MidSommer [sic?] Madness. Let me know if y'all want me to set it up.


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mikemunsil
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That's a hell of a nice offer. I hope people here take advantage of it.

In any case, since the challenge info is public, anyone can do the challenge on their own. However, I think you'll get far more out of it in a forum environment in which you can take advantage of the critiquing aspects of the challenge.

BTW, I would greatly appreciate ways to improve Midsommer Madness, so if you take advantage of it, please also comment on the blogs as to how I can improve it.


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Unwritten
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oliverhouse,
Is it too late to get something like this started? I meant to ask you with plenty of time. I'm not sure what happened to May, but it's almost all used up!
Melanie

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mikemunsil
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This challenge begins June 1, and lasts throughout the entire month. We suggest that you set aside at least one hour a day, each day, and clearly tell the people around you to leave you the hell alone during that period. Of course, you might find a better way to state it.

Every day of June I will post a new set of instructions on the blog. About every seven days there is some time for you to reflect on what you have created in the previous six days. I encourage you to blog or make journal entries each day, on the exercise, including ideas for what could be changed, but do NOT go back and change the previous week’s work; leave that for later.

Before we begin:

A. Go to your library, local bookstore or wherever and find three titles, published within the last year, in your chosen genre. Read the back cover blurbs and the first few pages of each. Take notes on what makes these work for you.

B. Go to our Wiki and take a look at the Resources pages for tools that might help you. I especially encourage you to take a look at yWriter 3. Resist the temptation to do your writing in a full-fledged word processor. Any time you spend on formatting and making things look pretty is a waste of time; time that could be better spent on thinking and writin


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Owasm
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I contacted Mike Munsil and he has let me post what is happening on Midsommer Madness (to be referred to hereafter as MM).

Preliminary activities are to start with doing some cogitation. The pre-MM assignment consisted of going to the bookstore or the library (or amazon works well too if the book has some facsimile pages)

In Mike's own words:

quote:
This challenge begins June 1, and lasts throughout the entire month. We suggest that you set aside at least one hour a day, each day, and clearly tell the people around you to leave you the hell alone during that period. Of course, you might find a better way to state it.

Every day of June I will post a new set of instructions on the blog. About every seven days there is some time for you to reflect on what you have created in the previous six days. I encourage you to blog or make journal entries each day, on the exercise, including ideas for what could be changed, but do NOT go back and change the previous week’s work; leave that for later.

Before we begin:

A. Go to your library, local bookstore or wherever and find three titles, published within the last year, in your chosen genre. Read the back cover blurbs and the first few pages of each. Take notes on what makes these work for you.

B. Go to our Wiki and take a look at the Resources pages for tools that might help you. I especially encourage you to take a look at yWriter 3 or 4 or 5. Resist the temptation to do your writing in a full-fledged word processor. Any time you spend on formatting and making things look pretty is a waste of time; time that could be better spent on thinking and writing.

---

Genre(s) -

Title # -

Back Cover Blurb Comments:

First 5 Pages Comments:


[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited June 02, 2009).]


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Owasm
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MM Day One (June 1) : Blurb

Identify the genre

Write a blurb (or very short summary of similar length) of your novel.


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Owasm
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MM Day Two (June 2) Genre Description & Restrictions

Describe your genre in detail and discuss the restrictions that genre will place on your writing of the story.

for example: The need to establish rules for magic in a sword and sorcery story will lead to restrictions in the story about what kind of magic is allowed and who may be able to use it.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited June 03, 2009).]


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Owasm
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MM Day Three (June 3) The Short Verson of the Story Arc

From Mike's instructions:

quote:
Day 3 - Write a paragraph or create a chart that describes the story arc.

What is your main conflict? (This is a good place to start as it relates directly to your theme and climax.) What is your introduction, your rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution? Is there a denouement or will you leave this up to the reader’s imagination? (Post-modern writers often leave denouements up to the readers.) Remember that this story arc can and will likely change over the course of writing your novel. That’s okay. At this stage, you’re just drafting.


[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited June 03, 2009).]


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mikemunsil
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GUYS, DON’T AGONIZE OVER THIS. ODDS ARE MANY OF US WILL BE CHANGING THINGS UP AS WE GO ALONG ANYWAY. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE STRUCTURE ABOVE IS JUST GUIDANCE. FEEL FREE TO CHANGE THE ARC STRUCTURE; IT’S YOUR NOVEL, AFTER ALL.
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Unwritten
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Good call, Mike. That was REALLY tough.
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Owasm
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MM Day 4 (June 4)

quote:
Go to each of the participating members’ topics and critique the above (Days 1-3).

Don’t kill yourself doing too much; this is supposed to be fun. Pick out and note what works well. Identify what doesn’t work for you and tell the author why it didn’t. Try to suggest an alternative.

Post the results to your forum.


Background:

At Liberty Hall everyone has their own forum for their novel project. You post your daily assignments as a topic on that forum. Participants are encouraged to post comments on the other's forums. The Day 4 exercise is to look at everyone's work and comment.

Here at Hatrack, we all know that critiquing others is part of the improvement process. So it is a Liberty Hall and this exercise helps everybody participating.


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Owasm
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MM Day 5 (June 5th)

quote:

Day 5 Write the hook page(s) for the novel (maximum 3 pages).

Remember that you want to anchor your reader into the setting and at least one character while presenting enough tension and/or curiosity to propel the reader to keep reading. One trick to test whether you’ve done this well, is to have another person read your hook or have another person read this hook aloud to you. In this scenario, both you and your reader will quickly pick up on whether the hook is grabbing or not.


Post the results to your forum.




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Unwritten
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Would the "hook pages" be considered just the first pages of the actual book?
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Owasm
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I do believe so. That's what I will be doing.

Bear in mind, you are involved in a process, so everything is done to bring the novel plan in focus.

I am not confident that these first few pages will survive the Midsommer Madness process, but I view getting the hook down as an important step.

[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited June 05, 2009).]


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Unwritten
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Thanks!
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Owasm
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MM Day 6

quote:
Go to each of the participating members topics and critique the above (Day 5).

Try to relate the hook to the genre. Is this what you expect for this genre? What do you expect to happen next? Do you feel that the level of detail spent on the setting is too much, too little? How about the level of detail spent on the character?


Post the results.



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Owasm
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MM Day 7 - A Day of Rest

Catch up. If you need to think of other things, do.


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Owasm
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MM Day 8

quote:
Expand the paragraph in Day 3 above into 3 short paragraphs.

You will now be working your blurb into a short outline form of your premise. Three short paragraphs should hit all the major plot points—setting,rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement or intended denouement.



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mikemunsil
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It is really important at this phase (even if you have already written a blurb), that you redo it from the point of view of creating Beginning, Middle and End paragraphs that cover the entire story arc.
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Owasm
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MM Day 9

quote:
Day 9 Expand each of the 3 short paragraphs of Day 8 into 3 more short paragraphs (for a total of 9 paragraphs).

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Owasm
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MM Day 10

quote:
Day 10 Expand the 9
paragraphs of Day 9 into approximately 20 short paragraphs.

Use the phrase (scene summary) instead of "paragraph" in future challenges, as 'paragraph' seems to get people thinking they have to spontaneously create finished paragraphs for later insertion into their novels, instead of just summaries and outlines.

This is a novel outlining challenge, not a Lego approach!


[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited June 11, 2009).]


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Owasm
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MM Day 11

quote:
Day 11 Identify and describe your main heroic (good) characters.

Remember that “good” can also mean sympathetic. In fact, your protagonist or main character may not be what many would consider “good.” The “good behavior” could be out of the ordinary for your protagonist, but regardless of how good or bad your protagonist’s choices are; he or she must be sympathetic at some foundational level.

How to sculpt a real character: Remember that effective characterization usually means sculpting a “real” character, a character who is neither a saint nor a devil, but somewhere in between. Generally, you want a protagonist who your reader can relate to, fairly quickly. You might begin this process of creating your protagonist by brainstorming about how your protagonist would handle a moral dilemma—i.e. finding a bag of drug money on the highway. Ask yourself how your protagonist would handle this? Would he or she keep it justifying what good the money could do, etc., or is your protagonist a devoutly moral person who wouldn’t even consider such a thing. Perhaps your protagonist’s moral compass points somewhere in between.

Visualizing the character: You may also want to do some online research for your protagonist’s face. Sketch of copy an image of your character. Pin this picture up somewhere in your writing space, or paste it into your draft document. Keep it handy to remind you that this protagonist is a real person within the context of your story and therefore requires a full life.



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Owasm
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MM Day 12


quote:
Day 12 Go to each of the
participating members topics and critique the above (Day 11).

Again, don’t kill
yourself. Note the good, and critique the ‘less-than good’.



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Owasm
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MM Day 13

quote:
Day 13 Identify and
describe the main characters’ main opponents.

Antagonists are often the
“bad guys, gals, or entities,” but can be quite the opposite. The
main consideration with antagonists is that they provide a
juxtaposition to your protagonist. It is also important that
antagonists have fully developed characterizations. Sympathetic
antagonists can add excellent complications to the central conflict
of a story.



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Owasm
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MM Day 14

quote:
Day 14 Take a break and
just think about what you’ve done so far.

If you’re keeping a
journal about this process, or a blog, we would appreciate it if you
identify how we can do better next time. Is it too much? Too little?
Should it be ordered differently? What works well, and what doesn’t?
What could be added?



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Owasm
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MM Day 15

quote:
Day 15 - Go to each of the participating members topics and critique the efforts from Day 13.


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Owasm
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MM Day 16

quote:
Day 16 – Identify and describe supporting characters for each main character and opponent.

Give your supporting characters valid reasons for being in the story, and resist the urge to develop trope characters, for instance, best friends who provide limited comic relief. If you write a best friend for comic relief, give this character something really interesting, perhaps even an alarming attribute. Make this character’s quirks relevant to the central conflict or theme of the story, and remember, if one character can do three different jobs, then one character should do the three different jobs. Don’t add characters just to add them. Remember, each and every word that you write should be written deliberately, to advance the story line.


Midway through MidSommer Madness... It's been quite an intense experience. Some of the Liberty Hall participants have found it difficult to keep up with the daily exercises and their daily jobs and trials of life. Mike has done a superb job thus far putting it together.

So far, the process has produced some interesting book concepts with all of the feedback from the other participants. It has been fun to critique and be critiqued at such an early stage in developing a novel.


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Owasm
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MM Day 17

quote:
Day 17 – Go to each of the participating members topics and critique the Day 16 effort.

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Owasm
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MM Day 18

quote:
Day 18 - Identify and describe the weather for each of the 20 short paragraphs.

When writing weather, make sure that your narration comments on the weather for an organic reason. Try to work the weather into the plot. Note that the weather afects your characters and that they respond to it, just as you and I do. Note also that this exercise does not mean that you must talk about the weather in each paragraph; this day’s work is meant to help you embed the characters in their world, and nothing more



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Owasm
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MM Day 19

quote:
Day 19 Go to each of the participating members topics and critique at least three paragraphs of (Day 18).

In this case, please restrict the critiques to simple comments on whether or not the Day 18 paragraphs are consistent with the genre and other elements of the story.



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Owasm
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MM Day 20

Two thirds of the way through!

quote:
Day 20 - Identify and describe the locations for each of the 20 short paragraphs.

Start by making a list of locations with which you are already familiar. Then make a list of locations that interest you. Next, make a list of locations that interest your characters. Study these lists and see where they overlap. Using what you already know is an efficient and organic means toward writing an effective setting.


[This message has been edited by Owasm (edited June 20, 2009).]


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Owasm
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MM Day 21

quote:
Day 21 - Take a break and just think about what you've done so far.

(This would also be a great day to tell us how we can do things better next time.)



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Owasm
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MM Day 22

quote:
Day 22 Go to each of the participating members topics and critique at last three paragraphs of (Day 20).
Please restrict the critiques to simple comments on whether or not the Day 20 paragraphs are consistent with the genre and other elements of the story.


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Owasm
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MM Day 23

quote:
Day 23 – Identify and describe where each character comes and goes within the 20 short paragraphs.

Outline the character scene locations. Use a method that works best for you. If you are a primarily mathematical/logical person, make a chart for each character. Charts are great for this as they make it easy to cross-reference characters, attributes, and character movements within a story. A chart will also let you know more quickly if you can simplify your characters and scenes. Pay special attention to making sure that the movements are realistic, within the constraints of the genre you chose.


Notes:

* Hatrack had some great conversations a few years ago on what was realistic on traveling with a horse. There are many sources of information out there for you to use in this effort.
* At this point, if you are not already using it, you might wish to take a look at yWriter. However, this is not the time to go off on a tangent and try to push everything you’ve accomplished so far into yWriter. Get this challenge completed, first.



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Owasm
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MM Day 24

quote:
Day 24 - Go to each of the participating members topics and critique at least three paragraphs of (Day 23).

Please restrict the critiques to simple comments on whether or not the Day 23 paragraphs are consistent with the genre and other elements of the story, and other similar comments as you see fit.



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MM Day 25

quote:
Day 25 Identify and describe how each of your paragraphs supports or detracts from the story line.
Make note of areas in which the story appears to stall or wander.

Six days left!


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MM Day 26

quote:
Day 26 - Go to each of the participating members topics and critique at least three parts of (Day 25).

Again, don’t kill yourself. Look for ‘deal-breakers’, points of confusion, etc. As always, note the good, but comment more on the not-so-good. Where you can, identify potential fixes



Five Days Left


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MM Day 27

quote:
Day 27 – Write a one to two page novel summary.

This should outline the same information that you first drafted: setting, inciting event, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement. In this summary, the central conflict and theme should be clearly stated. If you have difficulty writing a summary that really hooks, you may want to go back and rethink your premise.


Four Days left


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MM Day 28

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Day 28
Take a break and just think about what you've done so far.

Only three days left...


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MM Day 29

quote:
Day 29 – Identify at least three potential publishers.

Here’s one resource. I’m sure there are others:

* Publishers Marketplace


Two More Days Left to the Madness.


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