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  #1  
Old 01-12-2010, 10:35 AM
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Icon9 Help! My plot sucks!


I hope this is the right place and is ok:

I come begging your help guys.

I have been working on this plot to my novel for almost 3yrs now. Though I have not gotten far at it at all... currently only 17 pages, I am hating the plot.

I am stuck. I don't know what to do with this plot. Thankfully I haven't really gotten into it yet so I can still change it if I can think of something better.... Here is the plot....


Sharla is a Necro-witch who also just happens to be a were-wolf and a Hunter, who lost her family at the age of 3. She is the only survivor, along with an infant sister who was taken by those who had brutally killed her family and nearly killed her. They think her sister is the Prophecy child, and intend to sacrifice her at the age of 21. Sharla was taken in by the Lady of the Woods and raised to be a Necro-Witch. The Lady of the Woods and her mother did the best they could in helping her with her transition into a werewolf.

The killers had thought her dead but they didn't realize that she would live and turn into a wolf at so young a age. They also didn't realize that she was the Prophecy child and that their time had passed for the prophecy fulfillment.

Sharla has been searching for her sister for as long as she can remember and she has finally tracked her down at a convention. While at this convention Sharla runs into Raven Crowsfoot, one of the best Hunters in North America. A romance builds between them as they hunt for Lacey, Sharla's sister.



My biggest problem is I don't know what the prophecy is. I can't work the kinks out and I have been trying for way to long. I just find myself not overly happy with this plot line. If anyone could give ideas on what the prophecy could be about, or another idea entirely I would love you forever.

This is just a raw summary, the actual story itself will explain more about what a necro-witch is and how she found out about the prophecy and such.

I run this plot through my head nearly constantly. I want to do this novel, but it just seems lame, plot wise. I already love my two main characters, even though I Haven't gone into depth with them yet, I know how I will do so and hopefully make them loved by everyone who reads them as well.

This also started out as a dream I had, that I have expounded on. It was to interesting to me to give up

Thank you guys in advance.

p.s.
I have been thinking of ditching the prophecy plot, it just seems simpler, but if I can figure otu the prophecy I may keep it. Also regarding the male lead being Native American, I have thought of having him, being raised outside of his culture, which would explain my not knowing that much of the Native American community and maybe not offending people (hopefully). I am also thinking of just making Sharla a werewolf and hunter instead of also being a Necro-witch.

Any ideas and questions are greatly thanked

Again so sorry for being a babble mouth >.>

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Old 01-12-2010, 01:03 PM
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Try some history reference material maybe, to form an idea for a prophecy and see if it works for you. I wouldn't scrap it until after this final push, you might have something hot going.
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:18 PM
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Judging by just what you've written here, I see two main problems:

Sharla seems like a Mary Sue. If you're not sure, try this litmus test. The main problem with a Mary Sue is that there are too many romantic elements in one character. She's beautiful, and exotic, and had a tragic past, and is The One in a prophecy, and has magic powers, and and and...! The danger is that usually the only person in love with such a character is the author. Try to give her some more human faults and failings. Not just sympathetic faults ("she's just too nice and people take advantage") but honest ones ("she's insensitive and pushy"). Give her some weaknesses that readers can identify with and that make the perils of the plot more real. I think your thoughts are already tending this way, as you mentioned maybe not having her be a necro-witch.

As for the plot, I think giving Sharla a more human character with faults, weaknesses, needs, etc. will open up the plot for you. Real characters tend to get themselves into trouble with their dumb decisions or misunderstandings or screwy friendships. Plot often develops from the fixes people put themselves in. Same for the bad guys: give them needs and goals and faults, and their actions will become clearer than just "they're evil".

Please don't think I'm dissing your idea in any way. I know what it is to get a cool idea and obsess about it. I just hope my perspective can help you mold this idea into something more fun and writable for you. Good luck!
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:22 PM
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I scored a 30 on that test.

21-35 points: Borderline-Sue. Your character is cutting it close, and you may want to work on the details a bit, but you're well on your way to having a lovely original character. Good work.

I actually don't have her perfect, she is good at what she does of course, but she is full figured, average in looks, stubborn, and outspoken. I try to make her seem like an everyday person, as well as can be giving the universe I have this in.

The need I see her with, is finding her baby sister, to make sure she is alright and what not, and she is willing to do just about anything to find her.

Thank you for the help
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:22 PM
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I went into overload in the first paragraph. Not to be mean, but too much, too soon.
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:07 PM
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Sounds like fantasy merged with... conventions?
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:13 PM
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I'm a big dissenter from the Mary Sue faith. *It's something thought up by critics of writing. *Actually readers have no trouble at all with characters like that.

Very often perfect characters act as a sort of superfoil for the others. *An example would be "Harlequin" by Desmond Morris. *The title character is so wonderful and luck and perfect that it warps people around him with admiration and envy. * Damian, in "Steppenwolf", same thing. **
Often characters are made to surpassing wonderfulness in order that something hurting or threatening them affects us.

Thing is, you examine this craze and, like so many writing dogmas that sweep the internet writing ghettos, it's hard to really come up with a "why?"
Why is this such an awful thing. * Why must out characters undergo quizes to find out if they're not okay if it's not noticeable without cat scans?

But none of that helps you with your plot thing much, does it?

Stretch out a little. *That whole "prophesy" thing is a little overdone, isn't it? * Is Neo The One? etc. * Come up with something awfuller, would be my instinct.

She is seen as fated to be a seer of some sort. *This is done by driving her crazy. *She will be pampered and treated lovingly until her the onset of her first menses. *At which point she will suddenly be treated cruelly. *Gang-raped the men, brutalized by the women, left hungry and cold, slapped around, *made to go naked with her hands tied so she can't clean herself, a sex toy for all concerned, mated with animals.
The psychotic state of shock and longing this creates fosters the visions the tribe needs to survive, amd they jealously guard the haggard, hallucinating wrecks the process produces.
There is a supersitision that anyone called to be a seer will, if NOT subjected to this treatment, become an eye of the heavens and bring disaster to the tribe, an evil-eye that lays waste to all it surveys.

And maybe your lead's boyfriend beleive that supersition and while he wants to save the sister for her, is also terrified of what might happen. *Especially it starts to look like it's coming true, which will put your were-witch in a great poisition for all sorts of conflict/terror/bravery/emotional trials.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:08 PM
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Thank you Lin, you have actually given me something to think about. Though I have been thinking of ditching the prophecy thing.

Which is why I came here asking for advice because I don't know if I should keep it or ditch it. It was just the first plot that came to my head a long time ago.

I was also thinking of going with the fact that maybe she just discovered she had a surviving sister from the attack, and is out looking for her, when the trail she follows leads her to a convention and to the male romantic lead.

These character's mean a lot to me already, even though I don't have them completely fleshed out, and I want to do this story, despite the problems I am having with the plot.

I am wanting to write about a romance and a thriller. Just trying to get it all worked out. I have never written to this magnitude before. It has always been one or two pages, the longest piece I have ever written being 6 or 7 pages long, way back when I was 14. I would love for this to be the start of a series, not necessarily of the same characters, but at least of the same universe.

As for it being at a convention, I have always been told to write what you know, and I know conventions, >.> maybe not the best, but I have been to several, and I can describe what goes on there better then I could if the story should take place say in the corporate world or some such thing.

It's just so frustrating because I feel stuck on something that shouldn't be so hard to figure out.... at least I think it shouldn't be so hard.
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Old 01-14-2010, 05:32 AM
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I'm inclined to agree with Lin, the Mary Sue thing is misused today, in fact a Mary Sue used to be a reference to an author insertion into fan fiction and that was pretty much the first meaning I came to know it by. It was clear what a Sue was back then, she was the character that the cannons all fell in love with and liked because an author was trying to live out fantasies.

Today a Mary Sue is basically any character someone doesn't like. If you go back into literature so many characters will not pass these so called Mary Sue tests. It's because its pretty damn hard to pass the test when you could just write better and still make a character enjoyable by placing other set pieces around them.
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
I'm a big dissenter from the Mary Sue faith. *It's something thought up by critics of writing. *Actually readers have no trouble at all with characters like that.
Actually, as a reader, I do. If I can tell that a character is just the author's idealized self, with no flaws at all and a magical ability to never truly be threatened by anything, I get bored. It reminds me of the wish-fulfillment daydreams I had as a child. I'm not that child anymore, and I want to see real people dealing with problems I can relate to. For me, it's not a matter of learning the term and then getting worried about it. Rather, when I learned the term Mary Sue, I was like Oh! There's a name for that annoying thing!

I think most people find characters who get everything easily to be annoying. Consider how Katherine Paterson painted the "perfect" sister in Jacob Have I Loved... she was pretty, talented, musical, delicate, loved, praised, with a history of illness which made everyone want to cherish her... is it any wonder her sister hated her? Readers hate her too, which is the whole point for that part of the book. We're supposed to empathize with the main character. But Paterson is a great author, and shows the MC growing and changing with womanhood. Eventually, she sees that her malice toward her "perfect" sister is really a manifestation of her own insecurities. She comes to see that she and her sister are not opposites with one loved and one hated; they're just different. So the Mary Sue sister is an aid to the development of a truly nuanced character.

That's just my take, as a reader, not a writer. But I can accept that other people may be different. After all, there are some famous Mary Sue characters whom people seem to like, though I find them dull. Captain Kirk, for instance. He's handsome, lucky, and always manages to fix things without actually struggling, learning, or understanding. Laughable to me, but people still like him. If well done, I guess Mary Sues appeal to the reader/viewer's wish-fulfillment, rather than making a joke of the author's.
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Battyvamp, one thing I'm having trouble visualizing in your plot is where/when all this is going on. The magic powers and Lady of the Woods and prophecy point me to a fantasy world. Then the convention suggests corporate America. Then you have Raven Crowsfoot, making me think of modern Indians in the US. If it's the modern US, how does the family's murder and the adoption of Sharla by witches in the woods go unnnoticed? How do the killers not realize they left a survivor? That stuff usually makes the news. Could you give more details about the setting? That might suggest some more ideas for the killers' motivation and possible prophecies.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Battyvamp View Post
I hope this is the right place and is ok:
Originally Posted by Battyvamp View Post

I come begging your help guys.

I have been working on this plot to my novel for almost 3yrs now. Though I have not gotten far at it at all... currently only 17 pages, I am hating the plot.
So throw it away. Seriously, trash it and start over. If you have worked for three years and only have 17 pages, you are not going to finish it. Sorry, but that's just my thought. I would scrap it, think about it for a while and start over from scratch.

Sharla is a Necro-witch who also just happens to be a were-wolf and a Hunter, who lost her family at the age of 3. She is the only survivor, along with an infant sister who was taken by those who had brutally killed her family and nearly killed her. They think her sister is the Prophecy child, and intend to sacrifice her at the age of 21. Sharla was taken in by the Lady of the Woods and raised to be a Necro-Witch. The Lady of the Woods and her mother did the best they could in helping her with her transition into a werewolf.
ugh... no. Just... no. Just happens to be? Prophecy child? sigh... sorry, but you've lost me already.

While at this convention Sharla runs into Raven Crowsfoot, one of the best Hunters in North America. A romance builds between them as they hunt for Lacey, Sharla's sister.
Three years in the making, and the best name you could come up with is Raven Crowsfoot? Seriously? sigh... there you lost me again.

My biggest problem is I don't know what the prophecy is. I can't work the kinks out and I have been trying for way to long. I just find myself not overly happy with this plot line. If anyone could give ideas on what the prophecy could be about, or another idea entirely I would love you forever.
Forget the prophecy. It's overused already, and if even you hate it, why should I like it?

This is just a raw summary, the actual story itself will explain more about what a necro-witch is and how she found out about the prophecy and such.

I run this plot through my head nearly constantly. I want to do this novel, but it just seems lame, plot wise. I already love my two main characters, even though I Haven't gone into depth with them yet, I know how I will do so and hopefully make them loved by everyone who reads them as well.
It's been three years, and you still haven't gone into depth with them? That might be because there isn't one.

p.s.
I have been thinking of ditching the prophecy plot, it just seems simpler, but if I can figure otu the prophecy I may keep it. Also regarding the male lead being Native American, I have thought of having him, being raised outside of his culture, which would explain my not knowing that much of the Native American community and maybe not offending people (hopefully). I am also thinking of just making Sharla a werewolf and hunter instead of also being a Necro-witch.
Best idea you have had so far. And why not make him Crowsfoot instead of Raven Crowsfoot? It's simpler, yet more effective.

Originally Posted by HoiLei View Post
Sharla seems like a Mary Sue. If you're not sure, try this litmus test.
Ah, yes. The Mary Sue test. No offense, but I think that test is BS. I scored pretty high on it based entirely on my relationship with the character.I like the idea of a test like that, but it needs to be done better.
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ChickenViking View Post
Ah, yes. The Mary Sue test. No offense, but I think that test is BS. I scored pretty high on it based entirely on my relationship with the character.I like the idea of a test like that, but it needs to be done better.
No offense taken.

I don't think it's BS because I don't think it's presented in any way as an actual scientific thing, the word "litmus" notwithstanding. The tone of the test questions makes it clear that it's semi-joking, intended to make people aware of cliches. In fact, it starts and ends with disclaimers that it's not definitive and there are always exceptions. Writing is a craft, not a science. For what it is, a tool to highlight common pitfalls and crutches, I think the "test" is helpful.
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Old 01-14-2010, 02:32 PM
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Why the disagreement here???

Do all these men even read romance ridden books?

I do! Hoilei I know you have> so lets start with what we know hmmm. The test is a sure thing for anything and everything romance in my opinion. Though this poses as fantasy, it sounds as romance as it gets... sorry

I would try to write an entire book WITHOUT a love interest, if it stands on its own two feet, THEN add a love interest after the fact... Just sugar on the top:tongue:

In fact write it without anything but one major turn of events and see if you can! Challenge the writer, and you challenge the reader *nods head* Your gonna be a star!
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Old 01-14-2010, 03:04 PM
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Three years and seventeen pages later and you hate the plot. Throw it away and move on to something you have a real desire to write. The story line is an old hollywood B movie.

I'm not being mean. But honestly, necro witches-werewolves-prophecies-quests-seers and the like have been done to death. Sure, tweeners and loved starved misanthropes will fantsize over this stuff, but unless you are going for the S. Meyer book clone of the month award you might want to tackle something that inspires you as a writer.

You made the statement; write what you know and you know convention. It's a good place to start. Original thought is like original sin. You have to commit it to get it.

************************

As for the poster that asked; do all these men read romance ridden novels?

I don't know and I can' speak for the entire species but here's my short list of romance works that I have read and enjoyed.

Romeo and Juliet
Wuthering Heights
Remains of the Day
Dr. Zhivago
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Old 01-14-2010, 03:44 PM
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I enjoy writing in the genre I am writing in.

No other genre inspires me to write.

I've always wanted to write in this genre, even though I have done other things besides this.



*shrugs*

Maybe it isn't meant to be, but I think I may have mislead you all.. I say I have been working on this for 3 yrs, but not constantly. I think if I tallied up all the time I have put into this it would only be a few short weeks, if not a few months.

I can't always do what I want, write, because I am to easily distracted by games, books, tv, or taking care of my then fiancee when he was severely ill, and I am still taking care of him, even though he isn't as ill as he once was. I have ADD so it makes it hard for me to stay focused. The only thing that grabs my attention for super long periods is WoW, and reading.

As much as I love and adore writing, I can't do it continuously, because of my attention span, and my lack of ability to put into words what I see in my mind.

Which is the main reason I joined this forum. To help me fine tune my skills and become an overall better writer, to find the words I need to express the motive of what is going on in my stories.
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Old 01-15-2010, 02:07 AM
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Well that changes everything now that we know you were originally talking in dog years.
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Old 01-15-2010, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
Why the disagreement here???

Do all these men even read romance ridden books?

I do! Hoilei I know you have> so lets start with what we know hmmm. The test is a sure thing for anything and everything romance in my opinion. Though this poses as fantasy, it sounds as romance as it gets... sorry

I would try to write an entire book WITHOUT a love interest, if it stands on its own two feet, THEN add a love interest after the fact... Just sugar on the top:tongue:

In fact write it without anything but one major turn of events and see if you can! Challenge the writer, and you challenge the reader *nods head* Your gonna be a star!

Add the romance in? If the book stands on its own you don't add romance in as sugar on the top, not everything needs romance.
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Old 01-15-2010, 06:36 AM
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Hardly the point.
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by HoiLei View Post
No offense taken.

I don't think it's BS because I don't think it's presented in any way as an actual scientific thing, the word "litmus" notwithstanding. The tone of the test questions makes it clear that it's semi-joking, intended to make people aware of cliches. In fact, it starts and ends with disclaimers that it's not definitive and there are always exceptions. Writing is a craft, not a science. For what it is, a tool to highlight common pitfalls and crutches, I think the "test" is helpful.
I see what you mean. It's very useful as a guide, but as test, it's a bit dumb. But then again maybe that was the point.

Wouldn't it be fun if there was an actual test like that? Of course writing is an art, not a science. But that said, you can take classes to learn how to play the piano or paint a picture. Why can't you take a test to learn to develop a unique character?
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:19 AM
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The tone of the test questions makes it clear that it's semi-joking, intended to make people aware of cliches.
I went and took a look at the much debated Litmus test, and I for one thought it was hilarious. I scored a 16 with my male MC, and my fiance and I had a good laugh reading all of the questions and assigning them to the famous characters currently littering pop culture. Fun times. I recommend it to anyone who just wants a good chuckle and isn't overly defensive of their characters.
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:46 AM
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I actually tried it with the MC of my novel. Scored a three. *looks smug*
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:49 AM
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I think I scored a 13. Some of the questions were pretty funny and so were the answers. Sometimes you need to be able to laugh at yourself and your characters.

This test was also useful to me though because I recently started something new so it helped get to know my character a little better so that was kinda cool.
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:50 AM
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*I got the max score.
The messed-up thing is--I wasn't scoring my character: I was scoring ME!
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:09 AM
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You're so vain, Lin.

For the record, Q, I would like to draw everyones' attention to the distinct fact that my primary genre is fantasy. I'm already crippled and demand that I be given a handicap. ah ha.
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:15 AM
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Hell with Mary Sue, anyway. * I greatly prefer Peggy Sue. *And even Mary Lou.
(At least she's got new shoes)
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by calligraphy View Post
I do! Hoilei I know you have> so lets start with what we know hmmm. The test is a sure thing for anything and everything romance in my opinion.
Maybe... because many cliches circle around what people think is romantic. But if you write a romantic story without violet-eyed teleporting nymphs riding on dragons, where the male love interest is not a sculpted Adonis whom everyone adores, it probably wouldn't score too high on the Mary Sue test.

I love the Outlander novels, but they would probably score very high, if for nothing else than for the copious descriptions of Jamie's hair. (How many metals can she compare his coloring to?!) But I don't think Jamie is a Mary Sue (or Gary Stu!), because he's a well-rounded character with many faults and weaknesses, who acts in a believable way.

Originally Posted by Lin View Post
*I got the max score.
The messed-up thing is--I wasn't scoring my character: I was scoring ME!
*Lin feeds pet tiger some of the magic beans he harvests from the alternate universe only he has the power to get to.*
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:55 AM
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Consider trying nymphs who ride Adonis types, but whose love interest is dragons.
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Gaines View Post
Well that changes everything now that we know you were originally talking in dog years.

No need to be snarkey

I think I will just move on to starting a different story and see how that goes, maybe try some exercises somewhere or somehow and see if I can't get inspired by something.

I really really want to write, I just feel like I am in limbo.
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Old 01-15-2010, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Battyvamp View Post
I think I will just move on to starting a different story and see how that goes, maybe try some exercises somewhere or somehow and see if I can't get inspired by something.

I really really want to write, I just feel like I am in limbo.
Why not check out the Prompts & Challenges Forum? Plenty of inspiration there to help you exercise the old writing muscles.
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Old 01-15-2010, 06:44 PM
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Don't throw this one out, though. *Never listen to anybody who tells you that.*
I've come back to things many years later and finished them with a whole new vision and energy.

(Aren't vampire plots SUPPOSED to suck?)
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