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Worldsmyths October Update – Book Launch and New Writing Challenge!

Book Launch Day!

What on earth are we talking about?
Myths, Legends, and Dreams! The speculative fiction short story anthology we’ve been working on since FEBRUARY.  Featuring 16 short stories from 14 authors, inside the pages you will find fierce dragons, cunning succubi, and dangerous thieves. There’s a story for everyone, from retired superheroes to desperate soldiers.

We had a lot of fun putting this anthology together over the last 9 months. Well, and a lot of tears, and days where we wanted to quit, but mostly fun. 

And this is only the first in the series! We will do this whole show and dance again next year, with the theme ‘Moonlight and Darkness’. Daring heists, secret trysts and deadly secrets. This anthology will feature stories that take place under the cover of darkness. What to participate? You can either join our writing Discord server (https://discord.gg/fvPPa6hQDG) or you can wait for the call to submissions to come out in early 2022!

See What the Reviews are Saying!

Celebration Livestream!

We did a looooong livestream to celebrate the launch of Myths, Legends, and Dreams! We talk about what got us into writing, what the process of making the anthology was like, and a lot of chatting about writing. We are still live at the time of posting, but if you missed it and want to see more, click the link below!

Monthly Writing Challenge

October Writing Challenge

These prompts are optional. You can choose from any, all, or none of these prompts for this challenge

Prompts Theme: Sleep
1) ‘People are committing surprising acts in their sleep’ or
2) ‘Write about dream assassins who are tasked with fighting nightmares that disturb people’s sleep.’
3) ‘Darkness and Moonlight’, stories that take place at night, deadly secrets, daring heists, and secret trysts
4) Picture prompt: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/793407659348391970/

Deadline: October 31st by 11:59 PM EST
Word count: 7,000 words or fewer
How to Submit: Join the Discord server! (link above)

If you would like to see the prompts for future projects, go here ( https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Z9l8Or2WUd3mujKicrWeYtV7fEC9VP3heo38AiIfWSg/edit?usp=sharing)

Book Sale Links!

Free Sci Fi and Fantasy

Worlds of Wonder: A SciFi & Fantasy MegaSale!

99c & Free Paranormal & Fantasy Book Fair

Bonus Picture of Rosie!

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On Writing Short Stories

How to write a short story. Great topic for a place putting out a short story anthology. Several of our members have expressed being intimidated by short stories, so we wanted to give some advice on how to approach them.

They aren’t lions, they won’t snap your hand off if you get too close. A short story is just like a novel, but shorter. There are differences of course, a short story is less complex, with fewer characters, locations, and plot threads. But it is still a story, and if you can write a novel, you can write a short story.

  1. Where Do You Get Your Ideas? – The same place you get your novel ideas. Only instead of fleshing them out, you distill them down until you’ve found a single thing to pursue – an image, an emotion, a particular character. An idea about a fallen star becomes intimate and personal, instead of that fallen star igniting an epic war.
  2. ‘In Late, Out Early’ – You may have heard that one before. It is as true as ever for short stories. You want to start your story as close to the action as you can. It may help to make a list of everything you know about the story, the events, the characters, what the ending might be. See how late you can start the story and still have it make sense. Likewise, once you’ve said your piece, you want to get out of there. There’s not a lot of room to ramble in a short story.
  3. MICE Quotient – I’m a huge fan of the Writing Excuses podcast, and one thing they teach is the MICE Quotient. Created by Orson Scott Card, the MICE Quotient stands for Milieu, Idea, Character, and Event, and is the idea that each story is made up of these elements in different proportions. A story on the short end (less than 7000 words) will have one, maybe two elements. A story on the higher end (less than 15,000) will have up to three, maybe four. A novel will have all four elements. Let’s look at them closer.
    • Milieu – The location or world of your story (The Hobbit)
    • Idea – An unanswered question (Murder mysteries)
    • Character – Focuses on the character(s) and how they change (Romances)
    • Event – Some big, external happening or problem, like an explosion or alien invasion. (Independence Day)

What should you care about the MICE quotient?

The MICE quotient, when used in a short story, is great for combating story bloat. When you feel like your story is getting too long, take a look, are you introducing too many elements, trying to follow too many plot threads? Is the story you want to tell focused on the character, but you are over there trying to solve a murder mystery? It might be time to pull back or eliminate those extra threads to tighten the story up

The MICE quotient is also fantastic for making sure your short story feels like a short story. A common mistake new writers make is coming up with a short story that feels more like a novel excerpt. Why does that happen? Most likely, plot elements have been introduced, but not fully resolved, or resolved in an unexpected order. The MICE Elements should cycle back around full circle in one way or another.

  • Milieu – The story returns to the location the story started in
  • Idea – The central question is answers
  • Character – The character has changed, or is satisfied with the way they are (or is dead)
  • Event – The problem has been resolved (or everyone is dead)

Another way to make an ending feel complete is to close the MICE elements in reverse order of you opening them.

  • If you start a story with a character leaving home, and learning something along the way, you want to close the character arc plot thread first, before having them come home (these can happen very close together in the text, however) – <M><C></C></M>
  1. MICE Quotient and Length – Another thing I hear from writers that are new to short stories is that they’ve tried them, but they keep making them too long. Mary Robinette Kowal has a formula for that! You can estimate the length of a story by looking at the number of characters, locations, and MICE quotient elements, and doing some math with them.
    • Ls=((C+L) *750)*M/1.5
    • Add the number of characters (C) and the number of locations (L). Multiply that sum by 750. Then multiply that number by the number of MICE elements (M) the story incorporates and divide by 1.5. (Taken from Writing Excuses liner notes)
    • This assumes that you require 750 words per character and location to flesh out each character and location in a fulfilling way.
    • A story with 5 characters, 3 locations, and 4 MICE quotient elements will end up being around 16,000 words (too long for our anthology)
    • A story with 1 character, 2 locations, and 2 MICE quotient elements will end up being around 3000 words
    • A story with 3 characters, 2 locations, and 2 MICE quotient elements will be around 6250 words, perfect for our monthly challenges.

You can use this formula as a diagnostic tool as well – Are you way over or below your estimate? You may be under-describing, or overly verbose, or you may have miscounted the number of elements you are including. Look at your formula again to see where you need to add substance or cut down.

  1.  Try/Fail Cycles – A try/fail cycle is a way to introduce and keep tension up in a story – instead of letting your character have what they want on the first try, they need to work for it. The rule of 3 is often given in novels; a character should try and fail 3 times before they succeed with their task. But in short stories, we just don’t have the space. Try cutting back your try/fail cycles to just one or two attempts before your character succeeds.
  2. Let it Breath – Short stories are the place to experiment, to try writing interesting characters and locations and plot ideas that don’t necessarily fit into a novel. Take your time with them, there’s no need to rush through. I’m not saying to be overly wordy, no. I’m saying you don’t need to be overly complex, you can take a simple idea and explore it to its fullest instead of rushing through and tackling a handful of interesting ideas at the same time. Not to say that a short story can’t be complex, they can, but short stories aren’t a sprint, you can take your time to set up the scene, explore the emotions of your character, and make sure the story is rich and interesting. Less is more, in the short story world.


Further Reading

https://writingexcuses.com/tag/mice-quotient/
https://thewritersaurus.com/2015/05/08/orson-scott-cards-mice-quotient/ 

http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/Workshop-stuff/MICE-Quotient.htm
https://blog.karenwoodward.org/2012/10/orson-scott-card-mice-quotient-how-to.html
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Worldsmyths: A History

Ally Kelly (JediKnightMuse) started Worldsmyths because she had looked for a community focused on the fantasy genre, and had been unable to find one. Determined to fill the need, Worldsmyths was founded in 2016 as a Facebook page, but swiftly moved to a website forum in June of 2016. 

From the start writing challenges have always been a part of the landscape. We have also always focused on driving conversation about writing and to engage with others in a helpful, friendly way. It is that attitude of support and a focus on the fantasy genre that has allowed Worldsmyths to carve out a small space for itself. 

So many groups are cliquey, with an already established tight knit group of folks who don’t easily include newcomers. That is not what Worldsmyths is. We aim to be as friendly and welcoming to newcomers as possible, which is why the anthology we are putting out is especially focused on giving newbies a stress free taste of the publishing industry. 

Other regular activities are Worldsmyths include a monthly community writing challenge, which has spanned from 3 to 6 months, where we gathered together to see just how many words we can write as a group (over two million, as it turns out!). We are also active during NaNoWriMo each year, with brainstorming and prep sessions, and lots of support and sympathy during the event itself.

When Elizabeth Hodgson (Penguinball) joined in 2018 she helped expand the range of activities and clubs at Worldsmyths, and helped with the transition to Discord in 2019. We added a book club, weekly discussion questions, and a goals club, all with the aim of helping to educate and reach our writing goals.

In 2019 Worldsmyths decided to move away from the website forum and onto Discord, and in early 2020 we shut down the forum entirely. We found Discord easier to use, and it allows us to reach writers that find old school forums outdated. At this point in early 2021 we have over 530 members, and continue to grow.

Worldsmyths is stronger than ever, and this anthology is the culmination of everything we have worked towards over the years. It is our fifth anniversary, and we are celebrating our members by sharing their stories with the world. But this isn’t the end. This anthology will be an annual event, and we look forward to seeing what our members write in the years to come.

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