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mhelgens View Drop Down
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    Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 9:47am
Okay— this is my 5th NYC midnight contest, and every time I get my prompts, I think... Why did I pay to put myself through this sh*t again? LOL And then posting time comes and I learn valuable things from other writer’s critiques of my stories as well as from reading and dissecting other writers’ work. With flash especially, it’s so easy to read dozens of stories back to back and study their craft, learning what works and what doesn’t and then sharing that learning with others. What a cool community! Now, I look back at the first story I wrote for NYCM and cringe. Recently, I sent my dad something I wrote, and he responded “You’ve come a long way since the kettlebell on the bus days” LOL AND I HAVE! I’ve learned structural things, plot things, character development things, even punctuation and grammar things... 

So I want to know... what’s the most valuable nugget of NYCM wisdom you’ve ever received from interacting on these forums?


Edited by mhelgens - 20 Jul 2019 at 9:48am
Read my Round 1 story A CHANGE OF HEART
--I will return all feedback :)
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shanan187 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote shanan187 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 11:06am
This is my 6th year participating in NYCM Flash. Over the years, I've participated in most of the short story competitions and a couple screenwriting comps as well. NYCM has given me three gifts that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't thrown my name into the hat all those years ago:

1. I learned that I am not a one-trick pony. For the first 40 years of life, I called myself a "fantasy writer." Now I know I'm a "writer writer" and that I can turn basically anything into words. It's a level of confidence I might not have found on my own.

2. I discovered that I truly am happiest when I have writing in my life. The entire act and process of writing had been relegated to "hobby" status for far too long. As I came into this realization - I *am* a writer - I gained the courage to change my life. I shifted careers... after nearly 20 years of software development, I decided to find a job that let me flex my writing muscle daily. Now I run my own business as an independent marketing writer for tech companies. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that NYCM was a game changer for me.

3. I found my tribe. Seriously, there are people I met right here on this forum who I talk to every single day, and they have been there with me through the entirety of points 1 and 2 above. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lookit There Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 11:10am
At some point every year, someone will remind me to edit, edit, edit! 
I tend to be long-winded, using seven words where one will do nicely. Preferably, these things happen during beta, so I have time to pull back and reign in my tendency for verbosity. But I've had it mentioned in the forums more than a few times.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chrissie0707 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 11:25am
Trying to think of specific nuggets of wisdom from the forum, but mostly I've jut drawn from all of the great feedback I've received to grow as a writer with every round and every competition. I came into my first SSC nearly two years ago just wanting to see if I really had anything to offer as a writer, and have surprised myself with what I've been able to produce throughout this comps. I started submitting a few stories for publication just to start developing my thick skin for rejection, and was shocked to have one nearly immediately accepted. Because of this forum, even more than the comps themselves, I am in an entirely different place and mindset as a writer than I was two years ago. Y'all have helped me SO MUCH. Seersly.

Nuggets of wisdom? Don't be afraid to share your work. Be open to learning from others. It's okay for someone not to like what you wrote. It's okay for YOU to really like what you wrote.
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mhelgens View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mhelgens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 11:33am
This is a very specific thing but it stands out to me as having been particularly influential. One year, someone posted a thread very similar to this one (Name something valuable you’ve learned here)— I responded that I’d quickly learned if you don’t have a solid beginning, middle, and end before you start writing you don’t have a solid story. Then, some very passionate forumite (I don’t remember who—but thank you mystery poster) described the plotters vs pantsers situation. Plotters plan every detail before they write while pantsers “fly by the seat of their pants” and let the story tell itself to some extent. Great writers fall into both categories and everybody’s unique process should be valued and encouraged. Since then I have tried to do some more of both (plotting and pantsing). I always have an idea in mind before I begin writing but I also try letting the language and the flow of the story take me to unexpected places. This is a much freer form of writing for me and I find it more relaxing and powerful— adding a little more pantsing to my life has really helped me find my voice and my style :) Thanks NYCM.
Read my Round 1 story A CHANGE OF HEART
--I will return all feedback :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote chrissie0707 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 11:39am
Not sure this is something I learned from a specific poster, but it's something I've learned through experience - to edit during the writing process. This particular round, instead of writing out the full 1400-1600 words my brain wanted the story to have and then making frustrating editing decisions to pare it down to 1000, I would write a few paragraphs, then sit back and reread and make cuts based on what information was needed, and what wasn't. I never had a draft over 1033 words, and found myself having an easier time those last few reads when I was just looking to cut a handful of words to make the limit, because I'd done the major rewriting earlier in the process.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote stephenmatlock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 12:23pm
"Write as if your mother is dead." (h/t Betsy Lerner)

What I mean is, write the story you want, not the story that you think will be acceptable or safe or even liked.

If you're censoring your writing because of what people might say--well, I don't think you're free yet.

You always can go back and edit before you submit to the contest, and if you decide to shop your story around, you can edit it further.

Be absolutely bold and bonkers in your drafts.
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mhelgens View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mhelgens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 12:24pm
Originally posted by shanan187 shanan187 wrote:


1. I learned that I am not a one-trick pony. For the first 40 years of life, I called myself a "fantasy writer." Now I know I'm a "writer writer" and that I can turn basically anything into words. It's a level of confidence I might not have found on my own.


I kind of love that you said this because I’ve always dabbled in a little bit of everything. I lean towards creepy and psychological, most of my stuff is somehow supernatural, usually in a subtle “could that really happen?” way, but a lot of my stuff doesn’t fit that description either. I’ve always felt the need to pin down who I am as a writer and identify my niche— mostly because I’d like to apply to an MFA program someday and I feel like they like to know what they’re getting and I want to be able to easily convey who I am as a writer. So I’ve struggled with an identity crisis as a writer for a long time, but I’m starting to believe it’s a strength to be able to do multiple things. Even Stephen King writes more than horror! Thanks for this post. I think I needed to hear it! :) 
Read my Round 1 story A CHANGE OF HEART
--I will return all feedback :)
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mhelgens View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mhelgens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 12:26pm
Originally posted by stephenmatlock stephenmatlock wrote:

"Write as if your mother is dead." (h/t Betsy Lerner)

What I mean is, write the story you want, not the story that you think will be acceptable or safe or even liked.

If you're censoring your writing because of what people might say--well, I don't think you're free yet.

You always can go back and edit before you submit to the contest, and if you decide to shop your story around, you can edit it further.

Be absolutely bold and bonkers in your drafts.

I will never forget this advice. LOL I’m laughing, but that logic is  seriously so inspiring. 
Read my Round 1 story A CHANGE OF HEART
--I will return all feedback :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote GallifreyGirl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 12:49pm
Originally posted by mhelgens mhelgens wrote:

some very passionate forumite (I don’t remember who—but thank you mystery poster) described the plotters vs pantsers situation.

I'd like to thank the academy for the nomination for Most Passionate Forumite, and of course my parents and Neil Gaiman and ...
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