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See if the above poster hooked you:

Every time someone doesn't read the first part of this post, Rick Santorum eats a kitten and your post may be frowned upon.

Idea stolen from Critique Circle.

The writer will post no more than the first 500-1000 words of their work (unless you desperately need to finish a sentence, I guess). If it's a script, the first four pages should suffice, since 1000 words is about four pages in most books.

The reader is pretending to be an editor going through the slush pile, and will stop reading the excerpt if they lose interest. The reader will post to say if they stopped reading, why/ why not, and offer suggestions. The critique doesn't have to be detailed, but please at least offer some advice.

Every time someone doesn't follow the second part, Rick Santorum eats five kittens and your post has a 90% chance of being ignored.

FRIENDLY REMINDER: As the title of the thread implies, if someone posted an excerpt before you, please critique it before posting your own. If you skip someone, you lose the right to whine if someone skips over you. People that have been skipped, feel free to post a polite reminder if you're getting concerned. Reading 1000 words and leaving a few comments shouldn't take too long. And look at it this way: if you critique it yourself, you don't risk waiting forever for someone else to do it for you (this thread takes occasional naps) and you don't have to hope the critiquer doesn't have an excerpt of their own to post right after.

A SHORT NOTE: By hook we mean the first thing the reader sees of the story, not necessarily some sort of inciting incident. Your beginning can be slow and steady, but it still counts as the hook because readers can still be interested by something that moves slowly as long as something is there that gives the reader a reason to keep going. So if you have a prologue that meets or surpasses the word limit, don't stick your first chapter underneath it.

DISCLAIMER: This isn't a hardcore critique thread, so don't try to milk a detailed critique for your first chapter. That's why we have the word limits. Just think of this as a preliminary screening process for serious problems so you can get started on making your first impressions sparkly and awesome.

edited 20th Aug '12 7:46:48 PM by SnowyFoxes

 76 Noir Grimoir, Thu, 1st Dec '11 6:33:35 PM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
I don't mind being asked for input (wow, I have a reputation? Sweet), especially since these are small sections. Now if they were longer...

And it's always good to consult multiple opinions. My opinion is just one perspective and it's a biased one at that, all perspectives have some bias, so the best way to get the most complete picture is to have gather many opinions. I think it would be helpful for everyone if people went back and did some in-depth critique on at least one or two other people's works, both for those writers and those critics.

@ Aniventerie. Okay, yours now. Well, I got to say, I love this. I love the sort of...proper, sort of british (I'm not sure how to describe it) kind of humorous or satirical style. It's actually kind of similar to the style I'm writing with in the thing I'm trying to get off the ground right now (we both even use parenthesis and emdashes~! ♥) I thought it was really interesting and funny and it definitely hooked me, so I don't have much to say about your style other than keep it up. It wasn't exactly perfect, however. I have quite a bit in terms of general editing to say. After seeing this you may be able to go in and do some self-editing for this kind of thing the rest of your stuff.

Azrael Jones, pealed* himself from what appeared to be the ground, with all the capability of a drunk at sea.* The world sloshed and spun around him, his head swimming. *

His first thought was something along the lines of Where in bloody hell am I? This question was eventually answered when he looked about and realized that he was at the corner of Fifth and Heimer, on the outskirts of Skymoor. This fact did not reassure him in the slightest, considering his last memory had involved his bedroom, the one troublingly not located in Skymoor.

His second thought, naturally, was How the bloody hell did I get here? This question was not answered so quickly as the first, so he slumped into a park bench he had discovered nearby* and mulled it over.

Attempting to decipher how he'd wound up here, Azrael retraced his most recent activities.* Starting in his bedroom, he remembered he was studying his maps and yet again plotting his escape, whereupon he'd become depressed and headed to a coffee shop downtown. At this point he'd met an odd gentlemen, desperately trying to warn him about something called "the Woodnote Letter" and how he had "only a month, and he's getting a damn coffee!"* He'd had some sort of disagreement with the man, but the rest was a blur until he'd awakened in the street to the taste of sidewalk. *

Azrael felt something in his pocket and pulled it out. It was a brand-new pocket calender, exactly the sort of thing his father was always begging him to get. He had no memory of ever acquiring such an item, yet “Azrael Jones” was written in black and white on the blank surface of the inside cover (not in his hand-writing, mind you). Azrael flipped to the current date – June the tenth –* to see a message written. “This is today, in case you've forgotten the date. Teleportation's a bitch, ain't it?” it said, in the same neat, machine-like hand used to write on the inside cover.

He kept flipping through the calender, paying no mind to the mention of teleportation (most likely a joke, or reference he didn't catch). On July the tenth, exactly one month from the current date, another note had been written.

“Arrival of the Woodnote Letter, ” it said plainly. “(Good fucking luck), ” was written beneath it. *

He replaced the calender in his pocket and Azrael's third and final thought before heading off down the street was This is cause for concern. [*

Okay, so read the hot tips, they'll explain some things. You had a few type-os but that's something that happens, not going to ding you on it. Your main issue here, and this is something I see all the time, is word choice and sentence coherency. At lot of the time one might write a sentence that seems to make sense on first glance but upon thinking about it for more than five seconds, you realize it totally doesn't. This is usually because the person picked a word that was just off from the meaning they intended, so it sort of seems like it fits unless you actually know the specifics of what the word means, or how it's usually used in language. The 'retrace' thing was one of those, explanation is in the hottip. Basically you retrace actions, you don't retrace memories or events. You have to think of how the word relates to the other words around it, not just the general meaning. Even different words with more or less the exact same definition have slightly different connotations and uses which make some of them work better in certain contexts than other. The other big one was with 'carry'. A persons carry, their posture, you got right, but you don't actually have a posture when you're laying on the ground. Posture has to do with sitting up. Another one, you don't know sensations, most of the time, you feel them. To know either implies knowledge or familiarity, it's not an experience.

Basically this is the main thing you have to watch out for. Just really think about what is supposed to be happening in the sentence, what the audience is supposed to get out of it and then say as much in the most efficient and precise way possible. Oh, and your punctuation around your quotations was incorrect, you may want to brush up on those rules.

edited 1st Dec '11 9:51:31 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 77 Snowy Foxes, Thu, 1st Dec '11 6:39:23 PM from ´ ಠ/// Д ///ಠ` Relationship Status: Heisenberg unreliable
OBJECTION! Here's Wonderwall
Hm, I notice that Noir Grimoir's critique of my piece was considerably shorter than the others.

I'm not sure what that means.

By the way, I'm not pushing you to look at it again, I'm just wondering why it's short.
 78 Noir Grimoir, Thu, 1st Dec '11 6:59:00 PM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
I think it was because I was in hurry or something but wanted to give you some feedback. I might give you a more in depth editing later if I feel like it.

edited 1st Dec '11 6:59:15 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 79 Aniventerie, Thu, 1st Dec '11 7:46:50 PM from Imagination World
Detective Extroadinaire
@Noir Grimoire:

I am very glad you liked it. I admit that precise language is one of my flaws as a writer (which is odd, considering I'm a bit of a semantics nazi in general conversation). A few of the word-choice and formatting oddities were intentional (the odd word-choices used when Azrael is trying to remember what just happened is because the recounting is meant to be reminiscent of tracing one's finger across a map; Azrael is something of a cartography buff) but overall I should be more careful about the words I put down.

I'm really eager to see what you've got, by the way. Hooray for Adams-esque satirical poshness!
Need a tall, brawny fella to come by and inspect your pickle? Perhaps I may be this fella.
Obsidian Proboscidean
Okay, I fixed the infodump and cleared up the confusion about the telescope (from the last post I made in this thread).

(for reference, it's a Sims 2 story, so that's what "controllers" refers to—the Sims players. I don't reference the game mechanics, though, I just write it like it's a regular story.)

Edit: There's one additional note at the bottom. I just thought I should add it.

New, edited text:
Kaleb Aarons stood in front of his telescope late that afternoon, a long-distance listening device clamped onto each ear. The unseen sun hung low in the sky as the house behind him cast deep dark shadows on the sandy backyard. The telescope, being of a very high quality, allowed the young man to observe exactly what went on at the house on the hill up Cover Up Road, specifically, the show a young blond man was putting on. There was something to be said for watching a grown man singing "Pour Some Sugar on Me" while seated on a toilet.

To an outsider, the scene appeared to be merely that of an avid birdwatcher. To his friend, Ronya, however, it was something entirely different.

“You know, one day you’re going to end up in Vidcund’s trash can in multiple pieces, ” she remarked, passing him and entering the house. Kaleb left the telescope and followed suit.

“You seem to forget; we’re only representations of the two actual people controlling and watching this world, ” Kaleb responded, following her into the bathroom. He looked out the window. "No holes in the air; the forcefield's still up. We're safe, " he added as he and Ronya walked back out to the living room and sat on the couch.

Ronya gave him a dubious expression. “Seriously?”

Kaleb cast his eyes toward the floor molding. “Well, no, that’s just something I thought up to explain why we look so much like the controllers. And possibly the elephant wall hanging in the other room.”

“Then what’s to stop Vidcund from running over here right now and impaling us both on his nose, or at least, from turning us in for invasion of privacy?” Ronya continued as Kaleb retrieved his eyeballs from the side of the room.

Kaleb sat back down, only to jump up once more in realization. “We know it’s Vidcund that’ll bring the death threats!” he exclaimed, giving about two and a half more excited jumps (his initial excitement faded somewhat mid-flight).

Ronya sat still for a few seconds. “And...If we know that, before we’ve even met this Vidcund, we must have some sort of power over the other Sims!”

“We ARE gods among Sims!” Kaleb’s two and a half jumps became three after the completion that slight leap of logic.

“Hold on a minute.” Ronya’s tone sobered slightly. “If we really are gods, we should have some other powers, like omniscience or omnipotence.”

“Or the power to not suck at cooking.” Kaleb poked at his lunchmeat sandwich before getting up to store it in the fridge. “How I managed to burn the drink is beyond me.”

Ronya rose from the couch, poking around the combination living room and kitchen. “There should be something….Aha! Here it is.” She reached under the couch and brought up a big black remote control that bore the label “STRANGETOWN.” Instead of buttons for numbers, there were color-coded buttons labeled with a last name-one for every household in the town.

Kaleb box-vaulted back onto the couch. “The Universal remote!”

“Well, not completely universal; there were others under the couch. I saw one for some places called Belladonna Cove, Pleasantview-sounds a bit like a sitcom, that one- and Veronaville. But, ” she flicked on the television set, “with this, dare I say it, we could….Avoid washing the dishes for at least four hours!”

“Sweet!” Kaleb pressed a fire engine red button labeled “CURIOUS.”


The sun was just considering peeking over the horizon of the Simvanian desert. A white house sat on a sandy hill, fostering the shrillest screams known to man.

“Just sit down, and we’ll get you to a hospital!” Vidcund Curious advised his convulsing older brother, Pascal, in a not-quite-so-calm voice.

“Forget the hospital, this baby’s coming now!” Pascal screamed back, assuming the birthing position on the blanket spread over the floor. “To think, ” he thought, “just a few seconds ago, life was so normal.”

Nine months earlier, Pascal had been stargazing through the telescope, as he had done for the past fifteen years. He was just about ready to call it a night, when he saw a blue light streak through the sky. By the time he was able to zoom in closer, it was too late. He was sucked into the UFO, Vidcund and Lazlo powerless to do anything other than watch and maybe play a game of Punch You Punch Me. Upon being thrust unceremoniously from the aircraft and running to the toilet, he came to the conclusion that he, just like his father, Glarn, had been impregnated by the aliens.

And now here he was.

“I’ll get the scissors!” The third, youngest brother, Lazlo, ran for the bathroom medicine cabinet.

Vidcund knelt in front of Pascal, who spread his legs for his younger brother, and worked his hands into a pair of rubber gloves. He’d hardly been looking forward to this part; in Vidcund’s view, no amount of training would ever prepare him to yank a little green person out of his older brother. He was almost tempted to yell at Lazlo to get his butt back out here and help-it didn’t take that long to fetch a pair of scissors, what could he be doing?-but that would only upset Pascal (rather unwise, considering he now had a strong hold on Vidcund’s wrist).

“Whatever you do, don’t pull him out. Alien babies hate that, ” Pascal warned, his voice dropping to a shaky whisper.

(note: I just realized how squicky the alien birth scene looks. The way Sims' bodies work in this world is this: Sims look like humans, but aren't exactly like humans because both sexes have the required organs and everything to carry and give birth to children. I hope this is an adequate explanation for the male pregnancy.)

I don't know if I should critique the previous person, since so many others have done it.

edited 2nd Dec '11 1:28:41 PM by BlackElephant

I'm an elephant. Rurr.
 81 JHM, Fri, 2nd Dec '11 11:04:59 AM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
@Noir: I was going to say something about your post two days ago, but the means by which I was accessing the internet at the time did something rather unusual before I could post a response. Anyway...

While I am perfectly fine with constructive criticism, I could do without condescension. Your points, while for the most part salient, seemed to be (perhaps unintentionally) couched in a kind of contemptuous tone that I honestly deeply resent, in particular the rather strange and insulting implication that I use "archaic" language to disguise my writing's flaws. I... don't. If you find the choice of words curious, then you will probably find how I write curious.

Also, while I doubt it will at all change your opinion, that was an unedited first draft, written at about 4:00 AM with no sleep; I posted it here on the grounds that, in contrast to some of my other insomniac work, the imagery was fairly intriguing in spite of its rickety construction. Granted, some of those contradictory statements and odd repetitions are completely intentional: The narrator is supposed to be cagey and evasive in his descriptions. This is infinitely more clear when properly framed in the third person, as it is in the second draft. But, seeing as I prefer to let my work speak for itself—for good or ill—I refrained from mentioning this. Perhaps I shouldn't have.

In any case, I am not sure that you would much enjoy that version either. To that, I can only, well...

*shrug*

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, be it harmonious with each other's or not.

In other words, I am perfectly aware of the problems with this particular piece, and I do not hold anything against you, but I do feel that you could have shown a bit more tact in the execution of your criticisms. You are certainly an astute individual, but it may behove you to, ironically enough, choose your words more wisely.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled ritual slaughter. Gods be with you.

P.S. I really hope that this post doesn't read as passive-aggressive. I try my best to avoid that sort of thing.

edited 2nd Dec '11 11:51:28 AM by JHM

 82 Noir Grimoir, Fri, 2nd Dec '11 10:50:43 PM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
[up]

1. You're absolutely right and I apologize that I came on so strong. It was very rude of me. I'm going to try and work on that.

2. If I came off as demeaning by calling your style 'archaic' that wasn't my intention. I didn't mean it as an insult at all, I was just trying to find a one-word way to describe it. What I meant was it had that 'long ago...', old and mysterious feel. Very Cosmic Horror or Gothic Horror. I didn't think you were trying to hide mistakes with style, though admittedly I think you might partially write this way because you think it sounds better, and I believe part of the reason it might sound better to you (if this is indeed the case), is because flaws are slightly less noticeable in that style, since it's a more formal style that people aren't as familiar with as they don't use it everyday.

3. As for posting your work, having just written it at 4:00 in the morning...I took it as a more-or-less final draft. If that's not the case, well okay. Personally I don't see much point posting anything in here you either don't feel confident about or haven't asked specific advice on, but it's up to you. I just think it's pointless to ask someone to edit something you haven't given a second look yourself, since in all likelihood you'll scrap it or change it and then, as has happened here, none of the editing applies any longer and is completely useless to you and a waste of time for all involved.

4. One more word of advice, if I may be so bold. I see a lot of people defending themselves by saying the confusion the audience (meaning me) feels in certain places are intentional, or saying it's the style...well, I can appreciate that the author wants to have their own style or try to do something interesting with the text, but you have to understand, especially since what we are reading here is the first thing they are going to see, that the audience has no idea what you are doing or what your intentions are, especially at this early juncture. If upon picking it up they are either too confused or given the impression that the writing is off (no matter how intentional this is by the author) they are more than likely going to put it down. It's best to ease into that sort of thing. Don't hit them with it in the very first few paragraphs, they, like me, aren't going to know what you are doing and are more often than not going to hold it against you.

5. Yes you are coming off as passive aggressive, but I was a bitch first so no harm no foul.

6. I actually would like to read your edited version, if you think its ready. I promise to be on my best behavior.

edited 2nd Dec '11 11:17:58 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 83 Noir Grimoir, Sat, 3rd Dec '11 6:13:38 AM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
@ USAF713

Okay, so before you asked for an in-depth critique and I figured I'd oblige but...wow, it took me a while to figure out what to do with this.

I pretty much agree with what the others have said about it in that it isn't particularly grabbing, or even really reaching. In fact, it's just plain confusing. There's a lot going on with this opening, and your writing in general, that's really dragging it down. In all honesty this was extremely difficult and sort of painful to read. I would suggest rewriting it. Like, the whole thing. I'll do what I can in critiquing what you've got here, though, at least so you can see where you're going wrong and more of what it should read like (IMO, that is). Though the editing is going to be less 'editing' and more cut-and-paste, outright rewriting. If someone came to me asking to beta read this I would probably turn them down because it would be so much work. I would be practically rewriting everything they gave to me.

As for what was wrong with it. Well, generally speaking what's making it almost literally unreadable is the fact that it's all over the place. You've got your info-dumping getting in the way of your descriptions which is getting in the way of your dialogue, and you end up with an incoherent mess. The actual content itself isn't so bad, but the way it's arranged seems almost arbitrary. In the future, if you can't just outright imply what's going on with dialogue or small little hints weaved in, try to give us info in an efficient, to-the-point manner, condensed into a single section between important things happening, for instance in transitions while the person is just walking somewhere, and time is implied where the person could reasonably be thinking about these things. Try to keep your description of action all together, your dialogue all together, as well. You can weave additional information in sentences here and there but more than that and you distract from what the characters are actually doing to the point where we forgot what's going on by the time we come back to it.

Other things, you need to brush up a bit on punctuation around dialogue. You're using periods where you should be using commas. You've also got some issues with tense. For the most part it seems grounded in past tense but you switch over to present tense for a phrase or two here and there inappropriately. Also, why is all of your dialogue in italics? I assume for visual aid, but it's incorrect formatting and unneeded besides. Another thing is you didn't spell out seventy-three. I'd have to look it up but I'm pretty sure you're supposed to spell it out when the number is under one hundred unless it's part of a date or address or something. Either way it just looks more professional.

Also Sir, you abuse em-dashes like it's nobodies business. I usually love em-dashes, but you cut up the sentences so much between using them and nonessential phrases encased in commas, that by the time we get back to the original line of thought we've forgotten the previous one already (hmm, I see a pattern). In some places I actually recommend using parenthesis instead, helps with repetition and visual aid in figuring out whats important. In others, you should rearrange the information in the paragraph to fix this problem. Try reading it out loud and if its difficult to do so and sounds awkward by the time you come back to the main sentence you probably have a problem.

Also you are cluttering up your prose with imprecise words like 'got', and a few other phrases. Instead of 'got up' use 'rose', instead of 'came forward' use 'approached'. Replacing these increases flow and decreases your word count, giving you room for better stuff. I would say try to replace 'got' or 'get' wherever you can, it's just not a very interesting word and in most cases it causes you to have to write around the word to accommodate it, and inserting superfluous cruft to make the sentence work.

Okay, so as for what I did to your opening, I rewrote it, mostly be rearranging what you had and taking a hack saw to a few of the bits that were hurting you more than helping. It's not perfect, but I think it's readable now. maybe it will help you see where I mean by all this 'sectioning off' stuff.

Kaiser Wilhelm III of Germany made his way down the halls of the Reichstag building intent on attending the ball being held by his country in honor of Napoleon VI’s birthday.

In attendance would be none other than the Grand Duchess Tatiana of Russia and her husband Emperor Napoleon VI of the French Empire himself, the man who Wilhelm’s foreign ministers reckoned to be the most important person in Europe and, therefore, the civilized world. Whoever made friends with Napoleon, either through trade and military alliance or backroom diplomacy, could quite conceivably control mainland Europe, the cradle of human culture and advancement, and through it gain power over the entire globe.

At the current time Britain was in that position of ally, trade partner, and diplomatic friend of France. However, Wilhelm, his staff and the larger population of Germany, France, and Russia shared the sentiment that the mighty British Empire’s grip on Europe was far from secure. Britain was simply too sure of itself, too headstrong to be the regent extraordinaire of the civilized world. Though her might was immense and her Royal Navy’s reach long, the British Empire overestimated her ability to bully and demean the other great powers of Europe while still retaining her place on the forefront of the world stage.

The ball was planned to take advantage of this fact. Though he actually did respect Napoleon to an extent, (if nothing else the man was astonishingly charismatic, and well-loved by his people, though his colonial policy left something to be desired), rather than celebrating the man, Wilhelm's motivation tonight was to further maneuver his country into a position where it could undermine British Imperial power, and eventually take her place as the leader of Europe and the world. If all went well this evening, he would be successful.

Continuing his way to the reception, Wilhelm ran a hand through his short, combed-back black hair and adjusted his appearance so as to appear perfect. The fuzzy collar over the slate blue fabric of his military uniform was somewhat irritating, but could not be removed (much to Wilhelm’s annoyance and dismay), however the large gold bands crisscrossing his clothes and the Imperial cross in the center of his chest, suspended on a gold rope, were perfectly in placed so he supposed that was what mattered.

As he reached the foyer before the front door, a figure rose from a bench and approached him. Wilhelm recognized the man as Chancellor Maximilian, his primary minister, representative in the Reichstag, and close friend. Maximilian wore his own uniform, which was far plainer than Wilhelm's (to Wilhelm's own unvoiced envy), consisting of a plain, gray-colored officer’s coat, a red arm band on his left arm, two rows of twelve silver buttons, a plain cap, and a dress sword attached to his belt.

Though they did not agree on every issue, he and Wilhelm had become reasonably good partners in government, Maximilian even taking on a vaguely mentor-like position after the death of Wilhelm’s father, which the man greatly appreciated him doing in spite of their political differences.

“Your Highness, ” Maximilian said, tipping his head and hat in both greeting and acknowledgment as Wilhelm reached comfortable speaking distance. His demeanor, cordial and non-threatening, Wilhelm noted to himself the man was growing increasingly passive as he aged. It saddened him that Maximilian had slowed down so much.

Wilhelm extended a hand in return, which Maximilian grasped and shook once, firmly. “Are you ready to impress a few French nobles tonight, my friend?” Wilhelm asked, smiling at his own understatement. Napoleon and his entourage were hardly just a few French nobles.

“Your Highness, you know that I am always ready to entertain French nobles, ” Maximilian deadpanned.

Wilhelm chuckled, knowing Maximilian’s dislike for the French nobility. While Napoleon and Tatiana were themselves quite personable, French nobility as a whole tended to be far too entitled and superior, thinking themselves better simply for being French. It was often quite irritating, though Wilhelm had grown somewhat accustomed to it, and they used to his lack of tolerance for the behavior.

Moving towards the doors, Wilhelm grasped the left handle with one hand, Maximilian mirroring him with the right door. They shared a single, wordless nod before throwing open the entrance to be greeted by a thunderous roar of applause.

Blinking to allow his eyesight time to adjust to the bright lamps in the Reichstag front garden, Wilhelm was eventually able to take in the large crowd. He picked out several of his generals—Hans von Seeckt, Erich von Falkenhayn, Wilhelm Heye, Erich Ludendorff, and his Chief of the German General Staff, Paul von Hindenburg—among the crowd, intermingling with their French counterparts in what was likely a number of serious discussions of military strategy. Hindenburg in particular stood out, both for his relative girth and his age. The man was seventy-three and had already retired once nearly a decade previously, but Wilhelm had asked him to return to serve as his Chief of General Staff during the current, critical period in reorganization the Germany Army. It had actually surprised Wilhelm when Hindenburg accepted, but he wasn’t going to argue when one of the most experienced generals agreed to return to active service to his country.

As Wilhelm scanned the crowd, his eye was caught by his wife, Cecilie, motioning for him to attend her. At the same time, he saw Napoleon out of the corner of his gaze, waving at him as well. He smiled at Cecilie—though it was not a truly happy expression—and put up a hand to return Napoleon’s wave and signaled that he would just be a moment.

edited 3rd Dec '11 4:43:00 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 84 USAF713, Sat, 3rd Dec '11 6:44:26 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Yay viciousness! evil grin

In all honesty, for something I haven't edited at all and wrote for NaNoWriMo, that was not as bad as I thought it'd be.

I'll say this, I wish I'd started with something more engaging... if not necessarily action then at least something that establishes reasonably quickly that this most assuredly isn't just historical fiction.

I figured my big break between dialogue points in that scene would bite me. Most of the chapter is more conventional, I guess, but the first... three-four pages is vaguely like that one.

The arbitrary thing may also be because of NaNoWriMo. [lol]

My English teachers always tell me I use too many commas. That may be why...

I have problems with tense. :/

Oh, the italics is because nobody is speaking English in that scene. I tried to im... wait, yeah, you didn't get that part, but later on the French guy, Napoleon, starts talking in German, so I explicitly state finally that they're speaking a language other than English.

As I understand it, you spell out 1-10 inclusively but give numbers for bigger things. I might be wrong though.

I love dashes. I always thought parenthesis looked rather sloppy when I wrote with them, though...

I'll have to edit it... finally... for word choice, I suppose.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 85 Oh So Into Cats, Sat, 3rd Dec '11 7:52:16 AM from The Sand Wastes Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
CANON!!
@USAF: Considering historical fiction is my cup of tea, I had to look at yours, and a lot of what Noir said (though not as viciously) is true. I think mostly things just have to be rearranged and punctuation cleaned up, because the punctuation and arrangement are really messy. If it's an unedited NaNoWriMo, that shouldn't be too difficult.

@Thelotscup: you've hooked me. This is like my favorite hook in the entire thread, though that may partially be because it's short.

I'll go over more later, but if I may:


“Can you stop eating for a second?”

“Why?” I dug my fingers into yet another orange as we stood in line for the exhibition. It was not as if I was leaving behind orange peels as I ate, as we waited, as more and more people slowly made their way through security. The sun beat down on us and the pavement underfoot made the air even hotter.

“Well, ” said Andrei, who was standing in front of me, “if you run out of oranges, we’re not going out of our way to get a new bag.”

“Okay, ” I said. Though I didn’t stop, this was enough reason to slow down on eating the oranges from the bag slung on my back. Oranges were nearly the only thing I could be absolutely sure that I was not allergic to. There were other things, sure, and I kept the list of things that I could not eat In my pocket, but oranges I knew were not on that list. Oranges, strangely, were the one thing that had not changed since when I came. I stuffed the whole peel into my mouth before beginning on tearing apart the fruit.

The security line line inched along.

“They won’t throw stuff at us here like they did in Ankara, will they?” I asked. I skimmed the crowd for glass bottles, and couldn’t see any among them, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there.

“You’re not a part of an exhibit this time, ” said Andrei, “So I don’t think so. And even if they did, the authorities here would not stand for it.”

“Oh.” I was not so sure what he meant by ‘the authorities would not stand for it, ’ but I could guess it would not be pretty. Either way, I was marveling at his voice, how it had changed since we had landed in San Francisco yesterday. He did that every time we were in a different city, the accent and language changing seamlessly. Somehow, his voice blended in perfectly, and no one had said to him yet that his accent sounded ‘fake, ’ as I had been told nearly everywhere I’d gone.

“It’s too hot to have this all outside, ” Andrei commented, like a local, fanning his exhibition pamphlet at his face.

“I think it’s nice, ” I said. Andrei gave me a sideways glance. “The Kyoto one was almost all indoors, and some of the ceilings were low, so…”

Andrei looked up at me, and the way he did it made me think that even after all this time together, he still wasn’t used to having to crane his head up to look at anyone.

“What?” I asked.

“Nothing, ” he said, and turned his head to look back towards the front of the line. I was about to ask something when a scream tore through the air, through my thoughts, leaving the crowd silent from their chattering and making me forget my question.

My whole body stiffened. I turned with everyone else, looking towards what I now realized was the employee security line. It was a lot shorter, a lot less dense, and someone was screaming, hands locked onto the sides of the metal detector, refusing to go through.

Everybody stared, countless people, probably more than the entirety of my home colony were watching. I would have felt bad for him if the man — boy — I could never tell the ages of Terrestrials by looking at them — actually managed to show some shame. Instead, he shamelessly continued to scream as the person behind him was trying to beat him to get him through the detector.

“You little bitch!” the man behind him screamed, pushing on him harder. They were dressed similarly, so they were probably a part of the same party. Security probably should have done something, but when the next cry was “It doesn’t hurt that much!” I could understand why they did nothing. I had gone through lots and lots of metal detectors, they didn’t hurt to go through, even when you did have metal parts. The man refusing disagreed, as when he was finally pushed through the metal detector, he flopped on his knees and started shaking, but the man behind him went through with no problem.

The crowd lost interest in watching as soon as it ended, and quickly it became the subject of conversation.

I tapped Andrei’s shoulder.

“What was that?”

“I have no idea, ” said Andrei, opening up his pamphlet to the page on cybernetics.

“If he didn’t want to go through so badly, couldn’t he just have been searched manually?”

“Perhaps, if he’d stopped screaming for long enough to ask, ” said Andrei, and the line shuffled forward. We were almost in.

I thought, though, that this must have been a bad omen, and Andrei must have seen this on my face when he looked up from his pamphlet.

“Relax, won’t you? He might be a good thing. At least this time you’re not the strangest thing in the expedition, ” he said.

edited 3rd Dec '11 7:53:09 AM by ohsointocats

"Beware of the wolves. They were raised by wolves."

Eidolonomics: ~60.4k/100,000 words
 86 Noir Grimoir, Sat, 3rd Dec '11 4:52:34 PM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
@USAF 713

Ah! And here I thought I was being nice(r)! I need to try harder I suppose.

Anyway, looked up the numbers thing and turns out after ten it comes down more to preference. I prefer them to be written out, but your preference may be different. Also on the accent, I would suggest just saying up front in the first bit of dialogue that they're speaking German, maybe by mentioning their accents (I would imagine Wilhelm might have a more refined dialect than other characters might, being a prince and all). Also most of the parenthesis bits you could replace with em-dashes, I just believe thought-like tangents especially work better in parenthesis. I also don't find them unprofessional at all. I know quite a few published novels that use them. Don't want to abuse them, though, of course.

edited 3rd Dec '11 5:02:28 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 87 USAF713, Sat, 3rd Dec '11 7:01:14 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Considering historical fiction is my cup of tea, I had to look at yours, and a lot of what Noir said (though not as viciously) is true. I think mostly things just have to be rearranged and punctuation cleaned up, because the punctuation and arrangement are really messy. If it's an unedited NaNoWriMo, that shouldn't be too difficult.

Yeah, I wrote it for NaNoWriMo. I'm really not very proud of the opening, but after about... maybe page 5 or 6, I'm willing to claim that I wrote it to people I know in real life. [lol]

Ah! And here I thought I was being nice(r)! I need to try harder I suppose.

I don't mind viciousness, as long as it's useful. This was quite useful.

Anyway, looked up the numbers thing and turns out after ten it comes down more to preference. I prefer them to be written out, but your preference may be different. Also on the accent, I would suggest just saying up front in the first bit of dialogue that they're speaking German, maybe by mentioning their accents (I would imagine Wilhelm might have a more refined dialect than other characters might, being a prince and all). Also most of the parenthesis bits you could replace with em-dashes, I just believe thought-like tangents especially work better in parenthesis. I also don't find them unprofessional at all. I know quite a few published novels that use them. Don't want to abuse them, though, of course.

Well, I usually prefer to write them out, too, but I'll leave it in if it's part of, say, the name of a military unit, or some such. I'm not sure where I put that number, though... I'll have to look for it.

I honestly thought the whole "I said they're speaking in German see here just ignore that it's English please kthanxbai!" thing was odd and vaguely irritating. I prefer to simply use formatting itself to indicate that these people are not, in fact, speaking in English.

Plus I got one profoundly awesome moment out of it, where a character switches to English for the express purpose of telling a guy that he's an asshole before he shoots him. cool

And yes, I was going to mention that the nobles had better accents. I guess I should do that when I get around to editing that. Which will be whenever I finish the first act...

I'll try to use more parenthesis when possible. Dashes are one of my favorite and most abused things, though. That and semi-colons. [lol]
I am now known as Flyboy.
 88 cityofmist, Sun, 4th Dec '11 1:59:42 AM from Meanwhile City
turning and turning
[up]The whole 'I said they're speaking in German see here just ignore that it's English please kthanxbai' thing is kind of the accepted convention, and it's what you almost always see in published works. I've never seen them italicised - if you were including the actual German, it would be correct to italicise that, but not the English. And I suspect seeing large amounts of text italicised when it's not for a conventional reason would get irritating much faster than just being informed that it's German.
Scepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
- Clarence Darrow
 89 USAF713, Sun, 4th Dec '11 2:09:12 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Maybe. Probably. I'll probably keep it for the purposes of drafting, so I at least know what is and is not English. There's so many characters of so many different nationalities speaking so many different languages that I couldn't keep track of them otherwise.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 90 Snowy Foxes, Sun, 4th Dec '11 8:38:52 AM from ´ ಠ/// Д ///ಠ` Relationship Status: Heisenberg unreliable
OBJECTION! Here's Wonderwall
Y'all forgot Oh So Into Cats.

I can't critique hers because I've read it before and know about this work, so I'm biased :|
Shall not be known
Also forgot Black Elephant. I've already given her/him critique over e-mail, so it would be pointless for me to do it here.
Nothing to see here.
 92 Noir Grimoir, Sun, 4th Dec '11 9:00:57 PM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
@ Oh So Into Cats.

Okay, well, I'm pretty interested, so I'd say it's a good hook. I think the rapid dialogue really helped in that regard, but I'd honestly like to see a tad more action/description, as in a sentence or two here and there, describing more the characters observations and feelings, because what you have feels scriptish. Your dialogue is helpful to filling somethings in but others it isn't helpful at all. Reading this is sort of like hearing disembodied voices while you look at a fuzzy screen that doesn't want to focus into anything recognizable. I get that you're doing the thing were the reader has to figure things out with the clues given, but we basically get the clues and nothing else in terms of staging, thoughts or appearances. I also noticed we didn't get a good reason why Andrei asked him to stop eating the oranges. Rather than telling him why he wanted him to stop he more said, well, here's a reason why you might want to. I thought it was a bit weird. There were some writing things as well, but I don't know if you care about those at this point (for instance in one sentence near the beginning you used 'as' four times, and there's another where you repeat a word 'security line line'.) Overall I was interested but I think it still needs some work to make it actually coherent. I can only barely tell what's going on from this much less what the story is about.

edited 4th Dec '11 9:09:19 PM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 93 Noir Grimoir, Mon, 5th Dec '11 2:28:22 AM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
Alright, I'm going to post something here. I give permission to be as vicious as you may feel the need to, it's only fair. I rewrote this particular version of the intro about three times, (before this countless other times, but at this exact moment I'm rather liking the version I have now, at least in comparison to the other ones, though I've been known to have "What was I thinking?" reactions days later.) I'd like some feedback. I honestly have no idea how anyone reading this is going to feel about it.

Ah, and the story is from The Grimmcroft Series, a Gaslamp Fantasy in a Victorianesque-Constructed World.

The door to the study I'd taken to brooding in opened and the very man who was responsible for my misery stepped through the doorway. From my armchair I shot Jack a stinging glare to impress upon him that my primary emotion in regards to the grimmagister was still hatred, but I otherwise ignored him entirely.

Or I tried to. Lord Jackdaw Grimmcroft, heir to the grimgravate, was irritatingly difficult to ignore properly, not least of all because the man was naturally creepy, frustratingly taciturn and of obdurate disposition (like all grimmagisters). Often I suspected him of exaggerating these qualities solely to annoy me, but neither would I have been surprised to discover he was not.

The man noticed me not-really-reading a week old issue of The Briarc Gazette, and stepped further into the room to lurk behind me and read over my shoulder. Possibly the most irritating thing about this discourtesy was that it reminded me Jack was tall even for a Ghyrishman and could inflict this rudeness on my current corpse even while it was standing. When last I'd taken a victim I'd nearly passed over this one in favor of a man with a more imposing stature, but rich, good-looking young noblemen in the perfect position to be replaced without anyone noticing weren't exactly common, so I'd taken advantage of what was available to me. I was rather regretting it now.

“Do you mind?” I growled, peevishly narrowing my eyes up at Jack's pale, dour face with it's thin-framed, rectangular silver spectacles and circles so dark surrounding his grey eyes that he looked as if he'd been punched in both.

“You're reading the article about my father, ” he noted, disregarding my words completely.

I scowled and turned away from him in a huff. So damned rude. I found it astounding that a noble of his standing was so without basic manners. I was a being that until recently periodically indulged in ritual murder to keep myself tied to this existence and yet my social skills were the superior. Or perhaps I simply didn't warrant the effort?

“You mean the article that considers his imminent death a tragedy, and takes the opportunity to claim you're not only unqualified to succeed him, but half-invalid yourself and quite possibly dimwitted, hunchbacked and clubfooted? Yes, just finished it. It's an excellent piece of journalism.”

Jack cocked his head, looking down at me in a manner quite reminiscent of a crow eyeing a worm squirming on the ground. “You agree with it?” he asked, but not as if he particularly cared.

Such an ass, I thought, snapping the newspaper shut in a flurry of crinkling pages. Perhaps if I removed the source of this conversation he'd leave me be. “This man has a fertile imagination, ” I answered, my tone laden with contempt. “You're nowhere near as interesting as he describes. Obviously the writer hasn't had to suffer your company or he'd leave off with this manufactured deformity nonsense and discuss your rudeness, atrocious personality, complete lack of facial expression and uncanny resemblance to statuary.” I quipped. “His suggestions that you're an invalid generally lacking in the intelligence arena were spot on, however.”

Jack finally moved from behind my chair, wandering over to the window, staring out at what might be something along the road or nothing in particular. “Enm, ” he hummed in a manner that emphasized the Ghyrish accent that colored his otherwise perfect upper-crust Rozarian pronunciation. “You think me lacking intelligence, Roan?”

Yes.” It was a lie of course, but I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of hearing me say anything about him that might be construed as positive. Jack was damned smart, even devious, and the grimmagister already knew it, (how else would he have gotten the better of me?) He could only be asking out of vanity.

Jack nodded to himself for no reason that I could discern. Because I was still irritated, I crossed my arms and snapped, “And why do you insist on calling me 'Roan'? That person no longer exists.”

“The name belonged to the man whose life you took to inhabit his corpse and continue your unnaturally extended existence, ” he supplied readily enough, unconcerned by the horrifying crime he described.

I narrowed my eyes at the man. This sort of conduct was something that always struck me as a bit odd about him. Grimmagisters were simply people, even if they were charged by Her Majesty with the duty to root out practitioners of the forbidden arts and bring them to justice. I'd met other grimmagisters in the past (who, might I boast, had never caught on to my abominable nature, making it all the more shocking when Jack identified me as an illegal entity more or less on sight just over a month ago) but none so outright strange and enigmatic as Lord Jackdaw Grimmcroft, and I felt entirely sorry for myself regarding my misfortune in being forced to serve the man. Obviously this was some form of cosmic justice at work, though I had to wonder if even my multifarious sins were worthy of such a punishment.

“I don't see what that has to do with anything, ” I said. “Rather, such a fact provides even more reason to differentiate that man from myself.”

Jack shrugged. “If you truly dislike the name, choose something else.”

I raised a brow, rather surprised by this response. “You would use it?”

Enm...not likely, ” he admitted, completely unrepentant.

edited 5th Dec '11 2:38:07 AM by NoirGrimoir

SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 94 fanty, Mon, 5th Dec '11 3:01:58 AM from ANGRYTOWN
Woefully Ineloquent
^Those first two sentences were so complicated (don't know a better word for it), they made my head spin. (English IS my fourth language though, so a native speaker might find them simple and straightforward for all I know.)

Reading the next paragraph, I was just confused more than anything, and so, simply lost interest.
Individual liberation is an illusion.
 95 Noir Grimoir, Mon, 5th Dec '11 4:30:03 AM from San Diego, CA
Rabid Fujoshi
Hmm, there is some pretty difficult vocabulary in there (definitely not for young kids, if for that reason alone), and it's purposefully written to invoke the Jane Austen era of writing which some native speakers might consider difficult if they aren't used to it. I'll think about what I can do to make it more understandable without abandoning the style entirely.
SPATULA, Supporters of Page Altering To Urgently Lead to Amelioration (supports not going through TRS for tweaks and minor improvements.)
 96 Riotous Rascal, Mon, 5th Dec '11 5:19:41 AM from AUSTRALIAAAAAAAAAAA
Well played, old chap!
I like it. Is Roan supposed to be an Ishmael-type character or is this just a brief interlude in his perspective?
Did I ever tell you...the definition of insanity?
 97 JHM, Mon, 5th Dec '11 10:09:16 AM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
@Noir Grimoire: I appreciate your candour immensely.

Briefly, to points 2, 4, 5 & 6 respectively:

  • It's a couple of things, actually, but a fondness for the style does come into it. Mostly, though, it's a kind of weird fusion of orneriness * and osmosis * . But yes, I might have read more into that than I should have.
  • I really didn't want to end up doing that... but I did. Mi dispiace.
  • Another thing I hate doing, but did anyway. Rudeness is no excuse for further rudeness, and I am sorry.
  • One day, in the near future, I will tell the world, "It is done." You'll be the first to know. But in the meantime, I'll stick to editing this one in private. I could post something from my main work, however...

 98 cityofmist, Mon, 5th Dec '11 11:34:08 AM from Meanwhile City
turning and turning
It's certainly quite interesting, although there are some flaws which are obvious enough to be off-putting, so I'll say yes, hooked. I've taken the liberty of copy-and-pasting it to show the changes I would make, since I find that easier than making general statements; I hope that's okay. Mainly it's that your writing style can sometimes sound clunky and stilted, you have some issues with punctuation, and for something you say is aiming at the tone and style of Jane Austen and contemporaries there are some very informal- or modern-sounding moments.

The door to the study I'd taken to brooding in opened, * and the very man who was responsible for my troubles* stepped through the doorway. From my armchair I shot Jack a * glare to convey* that my primary emotion in regards to the grimmagister was still hatred, but otherwise I* ignored him entirely.

Or I tried to. Lord Jackdaw Grimmcroft, heir to the grimgravate, was irritatingly difficult to ignore properly, not least of all because, like all grimmagisters, the man was naturally creepy, frustratingly taciturn and of obdurate disposition* . Often I suspected him of exaggerating these qualities solely to annoy me, but neither would I have been surprised to discover he was not.

The man noticed me not-really-reading a week old issue of The Briarc Gazette* , and stepped further into the room to stand* behind me and read over my shoulder. Possibly the most irritating thing about this discourtesy was that it reminded me Jack was tall even for a Ghyrishman and could inflict this rudeness on my current corpse even while it was standing. When last I'd taken a victim I'd nearly passed over this one in favor of a man with a more imposing stature, but rich, good-looking young noblemen in the perfect position to be replaced without anyone noticing weren't exactly common; I had* taken advantage of what was available to me. I was rather regretting it now.

“Do you mind?” I growled, peevishly narrowing my eyes up at his dour face and thin-framed silver spectacles* .

“You're reading the article about my father, ” he noted, disregarding my words completely.

I scowled and turned away from him in a huff. I* found it astounding that a noble of his standing was so without basic manners. Even I, with my history of periodic ritual murder, could boast better social skills.* Perhaps he simply did not consider me worthy of the effort.*

“You mean the article that considers his imminent death a tragedy, and takes the opportunity to claim that you are* not only unqualified to succeed him, but half-invalid yourself and quite possibly dimwitted, hunchbacked, * and clubfooted? In fact I* just finished it. It's an excellent piece of journalism.”

Jack cocked his head, looking down at me in a manner quite reminiscent of a crow eyeing a worm. “You* agree with it?” he asked, but not as if he particularly cared.

Such an ass, I thought, snapping the newspaper shut in a flurry of crinkling pages. Perhaps if I removed the source of this conversation he'd leave me be. “This man has a fertile imagination, ” I answered, my tone laden with contempt. “He has greatly inflated any interesting characteristics you may possess* . Obviously the writer hasn't had to suffer your company, or he'd leave off with this deformity* nonsense and discuss your rudeness, atrocious personality, complete lack of facial expression, and uncanny resemblance to statuary. His* suggestions that you're an invalid generally lacking in the intelligence arena were more accurate* , however.”

Jack finally moved from behind my chair, wandering over to the window, staring out at what might be something along the road or nothing in particular. “Enm* , ” he hummed, for once giving away a hint of the Ghyrish accent behind his upper-class Rozarian pronunciation.* “You think me lacking intelligence, Roan?”

“Yes.” It was a lie, of course, but I would not* give him the satisfaction of hearing me say anything about him that might be construed as positive. Jack was damned smart, even devious, and he* already knew what I thought* . How else would he have gotten the better of me?* He could only be asking out of vanity.

Jack nodded to himself, for no reason I* could discern. Still* irritated, I crossed my arms and snapped, “And why do you insist on calling me 'Roan'? That person no longer exists.”

“The name belonged to the man whose life you took to inhabit his corpse and continue your unnaturally extended existence, ” he supplied readily enough, unconcerned by the horrifying crime he described.

I narrowed my eyes at the man. This sort of conduct was something that always struck me as a bit odd about him. Grimmagisters were only* people, despite the charge Her Majesty had given them* . I'd met other grimmagisters in the past (who, might I boast, had never caught on to my abominable nature, making it all the more shocking when Jack identified me as an illegal entity more or less on sight just over a month ago) but none so strange* and enigmatic as Lord Jackdaw Grimmcroft, and I felt entirely sorry for myself regarding my misfortune in being forced to serve the man. Obviously this was some form of cosmic justice at work, though I had to wonder if even my multifarious sins were worthy of such a punishment.

“I don't see what that has to do with anything, ” I said. “Rather, such a fact provides even more reason to differentiate that man from myself.”

Jack shrugged. “If you truly dislike the name, choose something else.”

I raised a brow, rather surprised by this response. “You would use it?”

It seems unlikely, ”* he admitted, completely unrepentant.

Further points:
  • I don't know how appropriate it is without the context of the rest of the story and its setting, but on the face of it it seems a little odd that Roan refers to someone with a title, whom he plainly neither likes nor knows well, as 'Jack'.
  • Someone else said that it wasn't understandable, I think? Apart from the odd ambiguous or weirdly punctuated sentence, it all seemed perfectly clear. I wouldn't worry about it.

edited 5th Dec '11 12:59:53 PM by cityofmist

Scepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
- Clarence Darrow
 99 fanty, Mon, 5th Dec '11 12:56:57 PM from ANGRYTOWN
Woefully Ineloquent
[got what I needed, excerpt removed]

edited 6th Dec '11 3:32:46 AM by fanty

Individual liberation is an illusion.
 100 cityofmist, Mon, 5th Dec '11 1:05:16 PM from Meanwhile City
turning and turning
While it's difficult to form a judgment from anything that short, I think it's not bad. It's mostly accurately written, and I would say that's about the right level of descriptiveness. I think my first complaint is that you line break too often - placing a sentence on its own makes it seem more important and dramatic, so if you do it with not-particularly-important lines it looks like you're being melodramatic. The second paragraph, for example, would look much better if it just continued in the first. Also, in the last paragraph you slip into present tense a few times, while the rest is written in past.
Scepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
- Clarence Darrow
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