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Most Valuable NYCM Nugget

Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Category: GENERAL DISCUSSION
Forum Name: Creative Writing Corner
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Creative Writing Competitions or Creative Writing in general.
URL: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=22791
Printed Date: 21 Nov 2019 at 11:52am
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Topic: Most Valuable NYCM Nugget
Posted By: mhelgens
Subject: Most Valuable NYCM Nugget
Date 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?


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Read my Round 1 story https://forums.nycmidnight.com/group-30-working-my-way-back-to-you_topic23256.html" rel="nofollow - WORKING MY WAY BACK TO YOU
--I will return all feedback :)



Replies:
Posted By: shanan187
Date 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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G68 CH2: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/g68-r1-ch2-waterwings-histfic_topic23230.html" rel="nofollow - Waterwings


Posted By: Lookit There
Date 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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Posted By: chrissie0707
Date 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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FFC#2 - You Make Your Own Luck
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Posted By: mhelgens
Date 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.

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Read my Round 1 story https://forums.nycmidnight.com/group-30-working-my-way-back-to-you_topic23256.html" rel="nofollow - WORKING MY WAY BACK TO YOU
--I will return all feedback :)


Posted By: chrissie0707
Date 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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FFC#2 - You Make Your Own Luck
Micro#1 - https://forums.nycmidnight.com/topic23749_post302312.html#302312" rel="nofollow - One More Day


Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date 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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FFC2019 C3 G01 | http://bit.ly/2XcEkUs" rel="nofollow - Moonstone Madness
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Posted By: mhelgens
Date 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! :) 


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Read my Round 1 story https://forums.nycmidnight.com/group-30-working-my-way-back-to-you_topic23256.html" rel="nofollow - WORKING MY WAY BACK TO YOU
--I will return all feedback :)


Posted By: mhelgens
Date 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. 


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Read my Round 1 story https://forums.nycmidnight.com/group-30-working-my-way-back-to-you_topic23256.html" rel="nofollow - WORKING MY WAY BACK TO YOU
--I will return all feedback :)


Posted By: GallifreyGirl
Date 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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Micro19: placeholder" rel="nofollow - The Jig is Up


Posted By: shanan187
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 12:56pm
Originally posted by mhelgens mhelgens wrote:

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! :) 

Awwww awesome! Glad to be of service <3 I remember writing stories in college that didn't "fit my mold" and thinking to myself, "Oh god! What if I'm NOT a fantasy writer?!" Here we are, masters of entire worlds, and yet we try to limit our own. LOL


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G68 CH2: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/g68-r1-ch2-waterwings-histfic_topic23230.html" rel="nofollow - Waterwings


Posted By: shanan187
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 12:58pm
Also, a bit of wisdom that the deadlines taught me:

Done is better than perfect.

Eventually, you have to stop editing and trust that you've done all you can with it. I've applied this principle heavily in my professional life. 


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G68 CH2: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/g68-r1-ch2-waterwings-histfic_topic23230.html" rel="nofollow - Waterwings


Posted By: Jaamz
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 1:03pm
There are a few stand out things I’ve learned here.

1. Is how to edit. I am better at figuring out what is important or what is just filler. It may be beautiful writing but if it isn’t serving a purpose, it has to go. Sometimes I keep it until the last edit but in the end I know I can let it go and the story will actually be better for it. This I learned simply from participating in flash but also by noticing what other writers here keep. Make every word count!

2. Utilize the forum for beta reads! You mother or husband are great for reads but will probably not be as honest or critical as they should when proofing your story. Get a writer’s eyes on your work! Usually you’re too time crunched to feel a sting of critique. You’re just so damn grateful they could help you kick it out the door in time.


Posted By: Mystic Platypus
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 2:07pm
Not something I learned here, but it’s always been helpful: treat your story like a fish. Once you’ve caught it, chop off the head and chop off the tail. As writers, we tend to find our footing after a few sentences or even paragraphs, and then we sometimes let the end go on longer than it needed to. By trimming at both ends, both the start and finish of your story can be made stronger. 

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Posted By: BarbaraFL
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 2:46pm
Originally posted by Mystic Platypus Mystic Platypus wrote:

Not something I learned here, but it’s always been helpful: treat your story like a fish. Once you’ve caught it, chop off the head and chop off the tail. As writers, we tend to find our footing after a few sentences or even paragraphs, and then we sometimes let the end go on longer than it needed to. By trimming at both ends, both the start and finish of your story can be made stronger. 

Love this! Truly great advice. 


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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 2:47pm
Just because I think something I wrote sucks doesn't mean I'm right.

The contests in general are good for learning to trim the fat. Pare down, pare down, pare down!



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FFC R1 GR40: Iconoclast
https://forums.nycmidnight.com/topic23455_post296776.html#296776" rel="nofollow - FFC R2 G40: Void Deck


Posted By: LadyReeseKightkens
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 3:00pm
Originally posted by Mystic Platypus Mystic Platypus wrote:

Not something I learned here, but it’s always been helpful: treat your story like a fish. Once you’ve caught it, chop off the head and chop off the tail. As writers, we tend to find our footing after a few sentences or even paragraphs, and then we sometimes let the end go on longer than it needed to. By trimming at both ends, both the start and finish of your story can be made stronger. 
OMG, I never realized how true that was until you said it outloud. Every story I write usually starts off wonky and sometimes they take too long to finish up because I want make sure I've got everything in. I love this!


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FF Challenge
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Posted By: lisafox10800
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 3:12pm
1. Don't be afraid to write in a genre that terrifies you, or doesn't interest you, or that you wouldn't normally read. You may surprise yourself.

2. Find your writing tribe. It may be a writing group, or a few trusted fellow writing friends, or some combination thereof. They'll get to know you more than you know yourself as a writer (and sometimes even as a person - I've made some amazing "real life" friends here).  They'll know your strengths and weaknesses, where you tend to fall down and can give you just that lift you need to make your work the best it can be. They're also the ones who pick you up when you get rejected and cheer loudest when you succeed. They're beta readers, yes, but far more than that. They're the ones who walk side by side with you on this crazy journey.

3. Be efficient. Don't be a commitment phobe. Land on your idea and stick with it. Write the story, even if it looks godawful on paper. Most of your time should be spent editing. Putting the blob on the page is the quick part. Chiseling and cutting and getting it just right is what takes a lot of time.

4. Remember to have fun. This is what my husband tells me in every single contest. Every time. When I'm crying about how much my work sucks. And why do I bother. And I may as well just pack it in. He asks me, "But are you having fun?" And I want to kill him at that moment. Because I know he's right. 

5. In NYCM, sometimes you'll succeed. Sometimes you won't. And that's okay. Don't give up. Just keep playing the game.


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Posted By: sootfoot5
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 3:51pm
I've been on this forum since late 2008 when I wrote THE WORSE short screenplay ever.  

What I've learned on this forum is two-fold:

1)  Don't be afraid to post and to speak out when you don't understand something.  I had been hiding my fiction writing from everyone for years.  I had done well at some screenwriting comps (despite my short screenplay fiasco) and even had a Hollywood chance (not worth it), but mostly I hid my work under a bushel from my friends and family.  I had no writer friends.  But I saw the ad for NYCM on Movie Bytes and decided to give it a go.  It was really scary at first.  There were so many things people talked about that I was clueless about.  What were pubs- what were subs?  I mean SIMPLE things!  I had never taken a creative writing course, and it was really scary to post my work with all these MFA folks.  But you can't learn if you don't put yourself out there, and how do you expect the world to read your stuff if you can't present it to a small community like NYCM?  And we were small then - very small.  

2)  Even greater to my learning process was the giving of feedback.  Sure everyone loves to GET feedback, but it wasn't long before I realized that the GIVING of feedback was doing much more for me.  When I took the time to read stories with a critical eye instead of for pure enjoyment, and then took the time to put my findings/opinion down, I was learning what, in my mind anyway, what worked and what didn't work.  No longer was I making the same mistakes over and over.  By identifying problems in someone else's work, I no longer made those same mistakes in mine.  

To me, these are the two biggie's that I've gotten out of this comp.  Sure, I've gotten many of the same things that the others have said, but those haven't been as important to me as these two.  #1 became really important because I developed severe health issues and had to quite a job I loved.  I had sat, rather stagnant, for several years, before I started with NYCM and by then I had lost a lot of the confidence I'd had when I was working.  It was rather frightening to me to join a group of young people who all seemed to know so much.  But I got passed that and LEARNED.  

#2, well, after I figured it out, it was seemed like common sense.  

I don't know if anyone will take the time to read this or if it will help anyone.  All I can say is that my writing has improved 1000% since I started here ten years ago.  


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https://forums.nycmidnight.com/rd2-gp6-unusual_topic30645_post320476.html#320476." rel="nofollow - Unusual


Posted By: mhelgens
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 4:13pm
Originally posted by GallifreyGirl GallifreyGirl wrote:

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 ...

Hahaha! After I posted this I saw another of your posts elsewhere on the forum and I was like hmm... that username. That might be the one. 


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Read my Round 1 story https://forums.nycmidnight.com/group-30-working-my-way-back-to-you_topic23256.html" rel="nofollow - WORKING MY WAY BACK TO YOU
--I will return all feedback :)


Posted By: shanan187
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 4:32pm
Originally posted by GallifreyGirl GallifreyGirl wrote:

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 ...

I just choked on my lunch. Bwahahahahah

StarStarStarStarStar


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G68 CH2: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/g68-r1-ch2-waterwings-histfic_topic23230.html" rel="nofollow - Waterwings


Posted By: Lookit There
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 4:42pm
Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:

4. Remember to have fun. This is what my husband tells me in every single contest. Every time. When I'm crying about how much my work sucks. And why do I bother. And I may as well just pack it in. He asks me, "But are you having fun?" And I want to kill him at that moment. Because I know he's right. 
Partner and I have this conversation EVERY SINGLE ROUND! This one was no exception.


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FF 2: https://tinyurl.com/y5wjptmh" rel="nofollow - Sales Tip #27
MF 1: https://tinyurl.com/y3v8czhs" rel="nofollow - Holding Hands


Posted By: shanan187
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 5:00pm
Originally posted by Lookit There Lookit There wrote:

Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:

4. Remember to have fun. This is what my husband tells me in every single contest. Every time. When I'm crying about how much my work sucks. And why do I bother. And I may as well just pack it in. He asks me, "But are you having fun?" And I want to kill him at that moment. Because I know he's right. 
Partner and I have this conversation EVERY SINGLE ROUND! This one was no exception.

My husband and I have definitely had this conversation as well. Usually if I get to that point, he'll go, "Okay... time to step back, do something else for a while, and come back to it."

Strangely enough, the last 4 or 5 rounds, I've been eerily calm. Chalk it up to working in an agency setting for a couple years, I think. Everything is always past-due before it's assigned. You just kind of get used to writing with the clock ticking.


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G68 CH2: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/g68-r1-ch2-waterwings-histfic_topic23230.html" rel="nofollow - Waterwings


Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 7:16pm
Originally posted by sootfoot5 sootfoot5 wrote:

I've been on this forum since late 2008 when I wrote THE WORSE short screenplay ever.  

What I've learned on this forum is two-fold:

1)  Don't be afraid to post and to speak out when you don't understand something.  I had been hiding my fiction writing from everyone for years.  I had done well at some screenwriting comps (despite my short screenplay fiasco) and even had a Hollywood chance (not worth it), but mostly I hid my work under a bushel from my friends and family.  I had no writer friends.  But I saw the ad for NYCM on Movie Bytes and decided to give it a go.  It was really scary at first.  There were so many things people talked about that I was clueless about.  What were pubs- what were subs?  I mean SIMPLE things!  I had never taken a creative writing course, and it was really scary to post my work with all these MFA folks.  But you can't learn if you don't put yourself out there, and how do you expect the world to read your stuff if you can't present it to a small community like NYCM?  And we were small then - very small.  

2)  Even greater to my learning process was the giving of feedback.  Sure everyone loves to GET feedback, but it wasn't long before I realized that the GIVING of feedback was doing much more for me.  When I took the time to read stories with a critical eye instead of for pure enjoyment, and then took the time to put my findings/opinion down, I was learning what, in my mind anyway, what worked and what didn't work.  No longer was I making the same mistakes over and over.  By identifying problems in someone else's work, I no longer made those same mistakes in mine.  

To me, these are the two biggie's that I've gotten out of this comp.  Sure, I've gotten many of the same things that the others have said, but those haven't been as important to me as these two.  #1 became really important because I developed severe health issues and had to quite a job I loved.  I had sat, rather stagnant, for several years, before I started with NYCM and by then I had lost a lot of the confidence I'd had when I was working.  It was rather frightening to me to join a group of young people who all seemed to know so much.  But I got passed that and LEARNED.  

#2, well, after I figured it out, it was seemed like common sense.  

I don't know if anyone will take the time to read this or if it will help anyone.  All I can say is that my writing has improved 1000% since I started here ten years ago.  


#3 - ALWAYS be kind. You might find the need to whirl the words out in frustration or anger over a misunderstanding or an offense--but save that for your blog post or your FB friends. Be careful here, and kind. Treat writers as humans who are doing exactly what you're doing--trying to put true words with true feelings onto the screen so they can tell the story only they know. People are going to screw up, misunderstand you, not get the point you're making. Assume good faith, assume good meaning, and assume that humans are going to just get it wrong about as much as they get it right.

#4 - PAY IT FORWARD. Unless you're the Lord God Himself who created the universe by a word, you are not entirely original. You learned how to speak and write, you learned to see the story, and you're learning to tell the story. When you get a good insight or you gain a new skill, share it with others who are not as far along the way.

I can't speak to sootfoot5's growth as much as I can say I have been incredibly blessed and encouraged and even -- ahem -- corrected by someone whose passion for writing and compassion for people is exemplary. Be that person to someone that you wished you had when you first typed out the words "It was a dark and stormy night...."


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FFC2019 C3 G01 | http://bit.ly/2XcEkUs" rel="nofollow - Moonstone Madness
SSP2019 C1 G20 | http://bit.ly/2MjG0rE" rel="nofollow - Doesn't Have the Range


Posted By: Mumser
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 8:23pm
This is a great thread! I’ve only done NYCM since last year, 2 short story comps and this is my second flash. Still I feel my learning curve has been huge.
1. I’ve learned to think about my story idea for at least a day before writing. I’m an intuitive writer and if I’m not feeling my characters my story will be so much more difficult to write.
2. Write the end first. I learned this after over writing one story and vowed never again. For me it works marvellously. For flash the story is usually completely written by the time I’ve written the ending!
3. Yes be the kind person you want to receive reviews from. We’re all in this together! I’ve learned that instead of pointing out typos and line edits it’s much more helpful to communicate my experience as a reader, for example which parts of the story drew me in or out of the story and why, or at which point I figured out who dunnit etc. It’s a skill that takes a lot of practice and I’m still learning.
 



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FF2019-R1 Writing on Tenement Halls



Posted By: nixie
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 8:36pm
I've learned many "big" and "inspirational" things here - but in answer to the question I am going to offer a "small" and "essential" one that was given to me by the lovely @jenspenden in my first-ever crit. In my house we call this a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious), and it is a truism every writer can use:

"Short sentences build tension." 




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FFC Ch1: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/topic22540_post284621.html" rel="nofollow - Weep No Longer, Angel


Posted By: manifestlynot
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 8:53pm
I love all the advice listed so far. All I can add is that my first NYCM contest (SSC 2018) taught me that submitting work that I thought was poor was not the end of the world. My perfectionism has killed many a story before they were written. But being forced to write a thriller with a tour guide and planted evidence, and submitting it even though I wasn’t satisfied, was a huge lesson for me. The HM I got let me know that even if I don’t think my work is up to my standard, it can still be worth mentioning.

On the fish advice - I went to a writing conference this year (thanks to the bravery granted by this contest) and one of the workshop leaders told us that aspiring novelists always bring in their third chapter for critique, because it’s their favorite. They spent two chapters getting into the story and are finally engaged by chapter three. She was usually successful in convincing them to cut the first two chapters Smile


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Posted By: justmel
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 8:58pm
Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:


4. Remember to have fun. This is what my husband tells me in every single contest. Every time. When I'm crying about how much my work sucks. And why do I bother. And I may as well just pack it in. He asks me, "But are you having fun?" And I want to kill him at that moment. Because I know he's right. 
 
 
Everything you said in your post is dead on, but I read this one out loud to my husband and he's still nodding and laughing because the same conversation goes on here--every single time. It's so nice to know we're not alone! Thanks!


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Posted By: justmel
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2019 at 9:10pm
I agree with almost everything I've read in this thread, but in addition, I have to say the most valuable thing I've learned in these comps (and am still working on) is to have the courage to let others read my work.  This was probably my 15th+ NYCM round and it's still soooooo scary.

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Posted By: Lookit There
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 12:49am
Originally posted by justmel justmel wrote:

I agree with almost everything I've read in this thread, but in addition, I have to say the most valuable thing I've learned in these comps (and am still working on) is to have the courage to let others read my work.  This was probably my 15th+ NYCM round and it's still soooooo scary.
It's only in the last couple years that my post doesn't start with me apologizing for my story and/or saying that I don't like it. 


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Posted By: Vernacula
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 1:20am
Embrace your writing style! And don't compare yourself to others.

The first couple of contests I guess I was new and excited, and wrote early and often. I once wrote four or five stories when I couldn't choose between ideas (I write really fast, but not always well). I was not able to sustain that level of enthusiasm over the years, and I began waiting longer and longer to get started. And it was frustrating.

There were many competitions where I was really unhappy with myself for putting the writing off for so long. I saw other people posting for beta reads and wondered why I couldn't force myself to write to a schedule. Then I took a bit of a break and came back, and told myself I wasn't going to stress. I'd already proven I could pull something together, so there was no reason to get upset over it. I had to believe it would come, and I'd write when I was ready (first day or last!). That's just my style. Maybe I need extra pressure to unlock the ideas or the word juju. I don't know.

Since I've embraced that truth I'm much happier in competition. Now, it's become a little harder to figure out how to make it work in my everyday writing, but I'll figure it out! (I hope.) Any advice welcome!


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Posted By: OnyxLily
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 1:43am
Originally posted by Mystic Platypus Mystic Platypus wrote:

Not something I learned here, but it’s always been helpful: treat your story like a fish. Once you’ve caught it, chop off the head and chop off the tail. As writers, we tend to find our footing after a few sentences or even paragraphs, and then we sometimes let the end go on longer than it needed to. By trimming at both ends, both the start and finish of your story can be made stronger. 

Hmm... I’d treat a fish by leaving it in the water. Hopefully that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be writing! ;)


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Posted By: OnyxLily
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 1:50am
1. I found an amazing writing group during the last SSC. They are generous with their feedback and willingness to support other writers. 

2. Almost all my feedback for previous efforts has included “it felt like it took a while to get going” or “you spent too long on the intro so the ending felt rushed.” I’m making the effort to try to jump into the story quicker now, and it’s better 

3. There is a market for genre fiction! In New Zealand, most well known writers (for adults) write lit fic, in one way or another. Genre isn’t really taught, and there isn’t much of a call for it in NZ literary journals or competitions. But NYCM has opened my eyes to the world of international possibilities for publication.


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Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 2:25am
One thing that I learned here became apparent while I was watching my dad's game shows with him a few nights ago. He was reading an article in a magazine about David Mamet, and I said, "Oh, I know who he is! He teaches a master class that no one wants to take, and he has antennae." I never would've heard of David Mamet otherwise. LOL

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Posted By: Lookit There
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 2:34am
Originally posted by Zelda Zelda wrote:

One thing that I learned here became apparent while I was watching my dad's game shows with him a few nights ago. He was reading an article in a magazine about David Mamet, and I said, "Oh, I know who he is! He teaches a master class that no one wants to take, and he has antennae." I never would've heard of David Mamet otherwise. LOL
That whole David Mamet thread was a beautiful thing to behold. We have some wicked clever people here.


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Posted By: Jaamz
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 6:15am
Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:

1. Don't be afraid to write in a genre that terrifies you, or doesn't interest you, or that you wouldn't normally read. You may surprise yourself.

2. Find your writing tribe. It may be a writing group, or a few trusted fellow writing friends, or some combination thereof. They'll get to know you more than you know yourself as a writer (and sometimes even as a person - I've made some amazing "real life" friends here).  They'll know your strengths and weaknesses, where you tend to fall down and can give you just that lift you need to make your work the best it can be. They're also the ones who pick you up when you get rejected and cheer loudest when you succeed. They're beta readers, yes, but far more than that. They're the ones who walk side by side with you on this crazy journey.

3. Be efficient. Don't be a commitment phobe. Land on your idea and stick with it. Write the story, even if it looks godawful on paper. Most of your time should be spent editing. Putting the blob on the page is the quick part. Chiseling and cutting and getting it just right is what takes a lot of time.

4. Remember to have fun. This is what my husband tells me in every single contest. Every time. When I'm crying about how much my work sucks. And why do I bother. And I may as well just pack it in. He asks me, "But are you having fun?" And I want to kill him at that moment. Because I know he's right. 

5. In NYCM, sometimes you'll succeed. Sometimes you won't. And that's okay. Don't give up. Just keep playing the game.
I really really need to work on number 3 lol. I write almost two stories every round. 


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Posted By: NKurt
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 8:17am
Three anecdotes that have served me well:

If you're not having fun with it, no-one will have fun reading it. 

Be concise. Be vivid. 

There's no such thing as a perfect sentence. 


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Posted By: lnLala
Date Posted: 21 Jul 2019 at 2:32pm
1. Your mileage may vary (ymmv). What seems perfectly clear and concise to one person may be muddled and murky to another. At the end of the day it is up to me (it is my story, after all) to decide which feedback to take - and how I take it. Critical comments help me pinpoint trouble spots, or to decide it's not trouble after all. It's hard in the beginning to get past the idea that someone didn't like something and look carefully at the spot they're pointing out. (It's still hard sometimes, even after years of feedback and critiques.)

2. Giving feedback and articulating what worked well (and what didn't work so well) for me as a reader helps me as a writer because I look for those things in my own writing (to fix or emulate).


Posted By: Charlie72
Date Posted: 25 Jul 2019 at 3:55pm
I’ve done two NYCM challenges nearly a decade apart.
The first time (which was SSC10) I was active in the forum, but I only wrote critiques for things I already really liked, like sending messages to good writers would somehow make me better by association.  And then, of course, I returned the feedback that I received but that felt more like a social obligation.

This year I’m finding that writing critiques has become less about some weird social climbing or putting on appearances, and more of a passionate endeavor.  Critiquing other people’s work — dissecting what works and why, what doesn’t and why, and thinking about “what would I do to make this better?” is not just thoughtful, but a valuable tool for improving your own writing.  Just like I learned in high school that “teaching” material to other students who were a little behind would help me grasp it way more than if I just studied on my own, editing works much the same way.  But also, it’s good karma.


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Posted By: GaleGirl
Date Posted: 28 Jul 2019 at 3:45pm
Originally posted by shanan187 shanan187 wrote:

T
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.


Your first nugget resonated with me. You said it first, so I can only concur. I've been assigned all genres I don't write or have published in thus far. While fantasy is still beyond my reach, this time I had Sci Fi and people commented that I seemed comfortable in that genre. First SciFi story ever. Now I polished it up and submitted it to a competitive, speculative journal that can result in a SFWA membership if selected.

That is hysterical.

But good luck. I haven't found a tribe here yet. But I've been part of a tribe on writing forums, and it is a great feeling.

Best of luck.

Gale


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Posted By: GaleGirl
Date Posted: 28 Jul 2019 at 4:00pm
So this may sound primitive, but here it is.

Writers beat up on themselves a lot. We demand perfection from ourselves when that isn't always possible. Writing is like yoga--some days you can hold a tree for a minute and other days the left foot slides down the leg within ten seconds. 

So here is what I learned about myself. I finished a story by the required deadline, completing several rounds of editing before submitting. And I followed the submission guidelines to the letter. 

And the NYC Midnight gods received an offering in full compliance and said it was good.

So I learned I am not the worst writer nor the worst person in the entire world since some writers who also paid the contest entry fee can't manage either or both.

I at least fulfilled those tasks.

Gale


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Novelista, Chickenista, Operanista


Posted By: lizarose
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2019 at 5:14pm
I have learned that I have a short memory ... What was the question... Seriously- I should go back and review all feedback every time I write especially under pressure.  I learn, I improve but then forget the basics in the crunch of competition. Spelling and grammar get me every time! Unhappy But if I can remember to remember then my writing improves!! 
I love the generosity of this group (and must apologise for being inactive in the forum this challenge... but I aim to provide nore feedback in Challenge 2) and dfeel at home here.



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