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A blog about story, character and plot structure. A writer by night, by day I help other writers achieve their dreams of completing a worthy project.
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1. How to Schedule Your NaNoWriMo Writing Time for Success

The idea of thousands and thousands of writers writing together as one beginning in just a couple of days is sublime.

Many of you will use the support of other writers to keep you writing. Others will take daily walks. Some will plot as you write. Others have detailed Plot Planners at the ready as you write, every word a joy. I give thanks for journey we travel together.

NaNoWriMo Schedule:

11/1 - 11/7 -- Write the Beginning 1/4 of your story
11/7 -- Write the End of the Beginning scene
11/8 -- 11/14 Write the 1st 1/2 of the Middle
11/14 -- Write the Recommitment scene
11/15 -- 11/21 Write the 2nd 1/2 of the Middle
11/21 -- Write the Crisis
11/22 -- 11/28 Write the End 1/4
11/27 -- Write the Climax
11/28 -- Write the Resolution
11/29 -- 11/30 Catch-up

(NOTE: For now, don't worry about your plot or if you're starting in the right place or any of the details. We'll get to that in December. For now, give yourself permission to completely give yourself to writing your story.)

For plot help before, during and after writing a novel in a month, take my Plot Whisperer books along: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

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2. The Goal of NaNoWriMo and Writing a Novel in a Month

The goal next month is not to write a polished novel. Next month's goal and every fast-writing goal is simply to write the barebones, foundation, design, essence, promise of a story -- words, lots and lots of words -- with the idea of going back and revising after the month is up.

Begin now:
1) Visualize yourself letting go, writing with abandon, sleeping, eating, breathing your story for an entire month, becoming obsessive of your writing time and compulsive about writing, letting the real world drop away as you fully enter the exotic world of your story. Without judgement, criticism or shame, see yourself writing for the pure joy of putting one word after another in the spirit of creating something out of nothing but a fragment, a wisp, a dream…

2) Clear your calendar of everything next month.

3) Schedule in your writing, sleeping, writing, eating, writing, plotting, dreaming, writing time.

4) See yourself writing everyday joyfully.

(NOTE: don't worry about your plot or if you're starting in the right place or any of the details. We'll get to that in December. For now, give yourself permission to completely give yourself to writing your story.

For plot help before, during and after writing a novel in a month, take my Plot Whisperer books along: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises




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3. Expectation, Event, Reaction

This month, as you pre-plot for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that every story and plot idea you brainstorm encompasses 3+ potential scenes:


1) Anticipation
          Anticipation of an upcoming event, creates curiosity and sets up tension in the reader not knowing, will the protagonist be successful or not?

2) Event
          The actual event the protagonist has been anticipating with expectation creates external dramatic action

3) Reaction
          How the protagonist reacts to the event gives clues to the reader about how she internalizes what just happened

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises


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4. How to Write Even When You Feel Uninspired and Down

Every writer I know, it seems, is either preparing now to write a fast draft during NaNoWriMo, has a jump-start on November by speed-writing now to finish by the end of the year or has given up.

With novels anywhere from 50,000 (slight) to over 100,000 words, writing a fast draft gets you to the end faster. Problem at that point is knowing you're not finished -- not by a long-shot.

One of the biggest shocks for novelists just starting out is the realization they may have to write more than one draft -- several even. You get the end of draft 1 euphoric, only to understand how much work is still left to be done. You want it to be over. You want your story perfect in the next rewrite. You even work through all 30 exercises and 5.5 hours of video instruction during PlotWriMo, revision your entire story, only to rewrite again. And perhaps again and again.

Begin now by accepting that the fast draft you write now, you may have to rewrite all those thousands of words again later. Then put your head down and get to writing. Finish by the end of the year.

Writing a fast draft demands consistent and powerful writing.

Consistent writing is a tough one to achieve for writers who insist they can only write when they’re inspired to write. Consistent writing means showing up  to write whether you're inspired or dull, frightened or brave, energetic or lazy. You show up and write anyway.

A consistent writing regime is helpful, especially so writing a fast draft. A tight deadline of a month facilitates fast writing -- no time for procrastination, no time to wait for inspiration. Every spare moment must be devoted to writing or pre-plotting to succeed at completing a fast draft in a month.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!

For pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:


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5. 3 Steps to Pre-Plot for NaNoWriMo -- Part One

Begin pre-plotting your story for NaNoWriMo with the 1st exercise in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

1) Brainstorm how all three major plot lines in your story will evolve from the beginning into the middle and all the way to the end of the story

2) Imagine how your protagonist's traits change / transform over the course of your novel as a result of the dramatic action. Use that to create a transformation summary for the protagonist of your story

3) Jot your notes on a Plot Plannerfor a bird's eye view of your story

Strive for story ideas that keep the suspense and curiosity high with clearly defined goals and ticking clocks. Scenes linked by cause and effect. Provocative themes explored. Historical details / exotic locales and unusual lifestyles and breath-taking occupations.

Terrific! Right?

Though the dramatic action plot stays true to the structure of the Universal story, the character emotional development plot is devoid of its most important element = no character transformation in the end. None. Not one character. All the characters are exactly the same at the end of the story as they started out in the beginning.

Don't let this problem befall your story.

Begin pre-plotting for NaNoWriMo, with the ultimate character transformation in mind. Start there. 

For more pre-plotting tips and tricks and how to write a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:


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6. How to Create a Plot Planner -- Part 1

Lots of writers are finding a Plot Planner the perfect place to stand back and plan and organize the plots, characters, themes, romance of their stories in preparation for NaNoWriMo2014.

To demonstrate how to make a Plot Planner, I took inspiration from the young character in Chef, a wonderful feel-good movie, who made a "vine." I found the idea of taking little videos and making them into a bit bigger video a fun way to get a point across in one of those only-on-Youtube delightful ways (keep in mind, I have no idea what I was doing…).

My interpretation of a vine here, showing how to make a plot planner.

In How to Create a Plot Planner -- Part 2, a longer version with an actual logical sequence is coming.

Lots of examples of Plot Planners on Pinterest.

For more tips and tricks to pre-plotting and writing a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 
1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:



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7. Pre-NaNoWriMo Pre-Plotting Tip for the Middle and End of the Novel

When thinking / pre-plotting your story for NaNoWriMo, keep in mind that the middle is more than an exotic world of the antagonists and to create conflicts and challenges for the protagonist. Yes, the dilemmas and setbacks she endures in the middle provide drama and page-turnability.

The struggles to survive and go forward also hold the gifts of new skills and abilities that will serve her well at the climax as she begins to adapt her thinking to the demands of her new reality.

In resisting the changes required of her in the middle to succeed, she struggles. After the crisis / dark night around the 3/4 mark of the story, she becomes conscious of all that has come before. In that new light, she understands the strength and courage she's gained in her suffering and the freedom afforded her.

That way, in the middle of next month, when you're floundering for depth in your writing, you'll find these notes for scene expansion opportunities. And, by the end of the month, when you're exhausted and spent, you'll have scene ideas how best to show the integration of these new skills and beliefs.

For more tips and tricks to pre-plotting and writing a novel in a month, check out my Plot Whisperer books: 
1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I pre-plot for NaNo!
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising:

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8. Dancing between Plotting the Overall Story Level and Writing at the Word Level

Writing at the word level is an act of grace for writers, especially so writers who prefer turning inward rather than outward in their writing lives (inward-writing / outward-selling) and love to withdraw to the refuge of listening only to the muse. Diving deep into ideas that excite you makes you feel vital and alive. Welcoming in just the right words and images and emotions and creating beauty through your words becomes a meditation, a devotion.


(I include the image to the right because the very talented Victoria at Whit andWare Design just shared this banner option for my ezine and I wanted to share it!)

Plotting at the overall story level, however, is more of a challenge. To step back and consider the story in its entirety requires the integration of themes and transformation, excitement and suspense, love and connection. Rather than through discovery at the word level, pre-plotting and plotting and testing your plot often demands stepping outside your place of comfort and taking risks with your story, big risks.

For those of you following along in the The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing in our final surge to the climax, with the novel I resisted for so long, as in all things, the actual doing (writing the scenes up to and including the Crisis / Dark Night) turns out to be a breeze compared to the storm caused by all my resistance. I hope you've had the same feelings of relief to have those scenes written no matter who sketchy or trite or skimming the surface… for now. Of course, now we face the daunting challenge of lifting our stories to a satisfying climax. Ah, well, conflict is inherent in all stories and in all writers' lives and often our personal lives, too.

Today, rather than write, I'm filming a vine as I design the Plot Planner for the story. If all goes smoothly (though, as in most things I seem to undertake, I have no idea what I'm doing!) I'll share the short video on my Youtube channel later today.

Oh, and if you're planning to write 50,000 words next month with NaNoWriMo, following are plot and writing resources to help you prepare:

1) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
named BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS by Poets and Writers. The author provides insight on how to create works of fiction with powerful stories and focuses on how to devise a Universal Plot, plot lines and subplots, compelling scenes, and character transformation.

*****Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot reinforces daily writing practice and allows for more productivity in your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today I write! Rather, today I plot!

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9. It's Not Too Late to Achieve Your Writing Goal for 2014

Life spins a bit faster in anticipation of year's end. You intend to finish your novel, memoir, screenplay this year - simply finish. Fall is the time to write fast.

Take October to pre-plot or re-plot your novel, November to finish and December to revise. Sounds simple enough.

Forget the outcome for now. What you write doesn't have to be perfect or brilliant or even very good. In fact, the sloppier the better. For the next month and a half, simply focus on writing fast everyday and moving between writing and standing back to consider your story as a whole all the way to the end.

The more enjoyable the process of writing for you, the more likely you are to write. See a path to writing everyday you can. Write fast.

Take the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month Pre-Challenge:

You have 1 Month and 2 weeks to get a draft written in time for PlotWriMo. Beginning December 1st, follow the exercises in the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series and re"vision" and redefine the plot arc of your story.
is custom designed to ensure your success even during the busiest time of the year. (**NOTE: this is the final weekend to buy PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month video series for $75. Price goes up on Monday!)

Begin 2015 ready for a powerful rewrite, to submit your work to contests and agents and/or to self-publish your novel.

~~~~~
More resources to support you in your pre-challenge:
1) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
named BEST BOOKS FOR WRITERS by Poets&Writers. The author provides insight on how to create works of fiction with powerful stories and focuses on how to devise a Universal Plot, plot lines and subplots, compelling scenes, and character transformation.

*****Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot reinforces daily writing practice and allows for more productivity in your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

Today, I write.

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10. New Ideas on How to Plot and Write the Middle of a Novel

I talk about the Middle of a novel, memoir, screenplay as an exotic world ruled by the antagonists. Both an exotic world and antagonists provide lots of scene opportunities while also creating and building rising tension, suspense, excitement and curiosity to replicate the energy of the Universal Story and keep the reader engaged.

A couple of years ago, based on novels, memoirs and screenplays I've deconstructed, I posted the following 8 tips how to keep the story moving forward and create page-turnability throughout the middle of your story.

1) call in the antagonists
2) create an exotic world
3) begin middle with overarching conflict or suspense plot point
4) ask yourself: because that happens, what happens next?
5) add a great subplot(s)
6) know the crisis
7) know the climax
8) begin filling in and deepening character flaw

Many of these tips rely on tension to create an energetic forward momentum.

Then, I delighted in watching Chef, a comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by Jon Favreau, create the same rising energy of the Universal Story without any or rather with only one antagonist.

The music, the pacing, the crowds, the dialogue, the love kept amping up the energy of the middle as effectively albeit more light-heartedly than all the usual negativity created by antagonists interfering with the protagonist's forward movement to her goal.

The overarching dramatic question developed at the beginning of the middle of the film pulls us forward though the external dramatic action in each scene keeps us connected, engaged and enchanted.

For an in-depth resource to all the questions to ask about how to write the middle of your story, refer to The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories.

Today I write!

~~~~
For pre-plotting ideas and how to write a fast first draft:

1) Re-read the The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book and follow the instructions how to pre-plot your story

3) Complete all the exercises and fill in all the templates (plot planners included) in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories 

4) Forget next month for now and enjoy this month writing or revising what you're currently working on and take with you into next month The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing for daily prompts to guide you how to write a story with a plot from beginning to end.

  ~~~~~~~~
If you simply wish to continue writing and revising and are looking for plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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11. How to Pre-Plot & Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month

It's early October and already writers look to the future in anticipation of writing 50,000 words of their novel during the month of November.


Lots of writers will jump into the writing frenzy last minute and by-the-seat-of-their-pants with or without a plot idea. Other writers will spend this month dreaming. Writers who love to to organize their lives for the greatest efficiency and less stress will spend October pre-plotting. Then there are writers who take things slowly and methodically, needing to consider all their options and their willingness to subject themselves to the overstimulation, disliking conflict and even a bit shy about committing to the challenge.

I, for one, love pre-plotting. No writing required. Stand back and imagine the big picture thematically, dramatically and emotionally. Plot ideas on a Plot Planner. Add pictures of characters and settings and details that stimulate your senses and energy to write about them.

Pre-plotting feels like an artistic pursuit compared to the grueling challenge if you do decide to write 50,000 words next month. A warm-up and lovely way to ease into the creative process. Showing up without any pressure of word count or deadlines. Simply time spent with the muse and plotting out what comes to you.

Today I write, and I pre-plot.

If you'd like pre-plotting ideas and how to write a fast first draft:

1) Join me October 9th for How to Pre-Plot and Complete a Novel or Memoir in a Month: The Benefits of Writing a Fast Draft from Beginning to End 

2) Re-read the The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master book and follow the instructions how to pre-plot your story

3) Complete all the exercises and fill in all the templates (plot planners included) in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories 

4) Forget next month for now and enjoy this month writing or revising what you're currently working on and take with you into next month The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing for daily prompts to guide you how to write a story with a plot from beginning to end.
  ~~~~~~~~
If you simply want to continue writing and revising and are looking for plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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12. The Power of Transforming Beliefs to Reach the End

She sees herself and all of life differently after the Crisis. The vision that inspires her to change / transform lives at the dream level. People who no longer fit in the new vision and illusions she's lugged with her everywhere drop away.

Freed energy fires her to act. Changing / transforming the beliefs that keep her small and wounded and scared and angry is much more difficult. Rather than instantaneous because of power of the epiphany, old beliefs are stubborn beliefs. Thus, the steep line to the climax on the Plot Planner.

The way forward is unknown and treacherous while she is at least familiar with the past / a way of life. When she / you turn sluggish, reinvigorate her / your concrete, tangible goals. Goal setting from here on out is important for her to reach her goal and for you to reach your dream.

Write your goal in red lipstick on your bathroom mirror. Remember what's truly important to you now that you know.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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13. Plot Prompts How to Write a Story with a Plot from Beginning to End

Getting back to the story I abandoned last year when the build-up to Dark Night Energetic Marker and crisis turned too emotional for me to write feels empowering now, a worthy tribute to my own personal climax.


To prepare, I flip through my worn and post-it noted copy of The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End), searching for the prompt where I left off writing.

Thanks to the handy little Record section of the book, I spot my last entry and am greeted by Affirmation Prompt #52.

Each of the 120 prompts includes 1) an Affirmation Prompt, 2) a Plot Prompt appropriate for that particular place in a story with a plot and 3) a Writing Prompt.

The Affirmation invites me into a place of safety and I feel a rush of excitement to finish...

Join me and write that story you never finished. Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:

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14. Above the Plot Planner Line Tension in Stories

When I'm not required to take notes in a Plot Consultation, I often create a mini-Plot Planner for myself to better "see" a writer's story and visually plot and follow along as she recounts scenes.


I cringe when I find the 2nd scene takes place around the dinner table with no conflict, tension, suspense or curiosity and the protagonist in control. Hating to write a scene under the Plot Planner line so early in the story, I celebrate when instead, I'm able to pop that same scene above the line because of what happens toward the end of the action.

The slow dinner scene ends with an object foreshadowed in a prior scene falling and threatening to expose the protagonist's secret, lie, irresponsibility, thus showing the protagonist no longer in control. His fear takes over thus moving this scene from quiet and safe to fraught with tension which earns the scene a place above the Plot Planner line. The short sense of normalcy (how the family interacts provides a glimpse into his backstory) offers us plenty of opportunities to compare who he projects himself when feeling safe and supported versus who he shows himself to be when stressed and uncertain.

Drawing a line by cause and effect, connecting one scene neatly to the next, I find nearly every scene is above the line in the first quarter of her story, proving to me that her promise to her reader is true -- this story is filled with external dramatic action and lots of ensuing chaos and mayhem, a page-turner, on the edge-of-your-seat-with-excitement sort of story, one any middle grade boy would be left clamoring for more.

Test your scenes by placing them one-by-one on a Plot Planner either above or below the line. Stand back and objectively assess the number and placement of slower, quieter scenes in relationship to more tension-filled, exciting scenes.

Today I write.
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
Facebook group ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

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15. Plot is a Lot Like Sex: Beginnings Hook Readers/Audiences. Endings Create Fans

Recently, I tweeted one of my favorite bits of plot advice:
Beginnings hook readers. Endings create fans.



A writer tweeted back: Sounds a lot like sex. hehe.

This isn't the first time a writer has likened plot advice I give to sex.

The 4th Energetic Marker and crowning glory of the entire book, the Climax often elicits a comment or two about the parallels in the act of sex and ultimate release of energy to the climax of a story.

When such parallels are drawn, I simply smile in appreciation of how the Universal Story shows itself everywhere…

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
Facebook group ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

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16. Crisis and the Universal Story

Beware: Do not succumb to a personal crisis as protagonist reaches darkest moment. Evoke the emotion in your writing

The recent tweet elicited a question by Laura: What do you mean by this? This is intriguing.

Way back in January 2013, in honor of the release of my most recent PW book: The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End), I began writing a new novel using one or more prompts everyday. I invited you to join me in writing a story with a plot from beginning to end. Weekly, I shared insights into the creation and significance of the prompts.

On a personal level, writing gave me an escape from what was more and more becoming a disastrous living arrangement. Without going into detail, my life was falling apart.

As I approached the 3/4 mark writing my novel, the prompts daily drew me page-by-page nearer to the moment of disaster, crisis, dark night of what was developing into quite a dark story. My emotional state, refusing to accept any more drama, pain, hurt, betrayal, shame, disappointment, resisted. I stopped writing the story.

I couldn't, however, stop the personal crisis that had been growing incident by incident into a full-blown mess, stripping me of all the truths I'd lived my entire life and leaving me alone to sort through tattered illusions, every one of them.

After more than a year and lots of work and thanks in large part to my belief and understanding of the Universal Story, I've found peace. Finally, I'm ready to finish following the prompts to the end of The Plot Whisperer Book of Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing (a Story with Plot from Beginning to End) and not only write the crisis of my novel, write her triumph while fully embracing my own.

I invite you to join me. Dig out that story you never moved beyond the middle. That story you gave up when the middle muddled, the crisis loomed, the end mocked you, find it and dust it off. I'm taking this weekend to drag out my notes, organize the Plot Planner and my writing cave. I'm not going to read what I've already written. I know what's waiting and am finally ready to face and write the inevitable. Join me.

***Laura, this is just one example of what I mean by not letting a personal crisis strike. I write in depth about how your writing life often parallels your story development in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help:
Read my Plot Whisperer books for writers

Watch Plot Video Workshops Series:
Facebook group ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

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17. 27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

The first day of filming the 27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? Youtube series was September 2010.


I remember putting that 1st video up on Youtube, mortified by the yapping dog in the background and well-aware of how distracting for viewers who struggle to mask out background interference. Still, I knew if I didn't put up the video, flaws and all, I'd be waiting for perfection forever.

Fire ahead four light-years filled with growth for the series, me as the Plot Whisperer and personally. On the anniversary of that first video, the number of views on Plot Whisperer Youtube channel crossed over 200,000.

My birthday present to the series and to you and writers everywhere is a spruced up version of the series. The 27 steps remain the same. This time, no distractions + one plotting exercise per a video.

For more about the what's happening with the series:
27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay?

Thank you for your patience as I re-film the series. In the meantime, for help plotting your novel, memoir, screenplay, read the Plot Whisperer books: 


I recommend writers writing for all ages watch How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot. Picture books are without subplots, thus allowing the primary plot lines to shine through. Try the exercises.

Or try another in the Plot Video Workshops Series ~~ PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month ~~ 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

Join the Facebook group and ask questions that come up in either series and share your progress.

Today I write!

0 Comments on 27-Step Plot Tutorial: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? as of 9/17/2014 12:08:00 PM
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18. 5 Tips How to Write and Sell a Picture Book with a Plot

I'm jumping for joy, having finished filming How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot with Jill Corcoran, literary agent for some of today's finest picture books authors.

After months of creating the program, exercises and 7 scripts for each of us based on the Picture Book Workshops and Advanced Picture Book Workshops in the Plot Whisperer Workbook series we taught earlier in the year, rehearsing and filming, I'm excited and proud to announce the official launch of our latest A Path to Publishing video series.

In the 7-video How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot, Jill offers up gems to writers who wants to sell their work to a publisher: a winning concept, memorable characters, exciting action and a meaningful take-away. I share examples of popular picture books with plots and tips how to plot and write one for yourself. We offer 28 exercises designed to fire your story ideas and current writing sky-rocketing!

I analyze flap copies for plot. Jill sees a compelling concept.

I deconstruct picture book plots. Jill looks for unique take-aways.

We're a match made for this series.

Five tips I gleaned during the filming of the series:

1) Writers for all ages and genres benefit from the plot clarity presented in a picture book. Minus subplots, the primary plots of Dramatic Action, Character Emotional Development and Thematic Significance and a Heart Connection shine.

2) A picture book dummy is like a Plot Planner in book form. With the 3 major turning points plotted on the appropriate page, knowing what to fill in on the other 7-8 pages for each of the beginning, middle (double) and end becomes clear

3) Logicals are paramount in picture books. Minus descriptions of authentic details, internal monologue and dense narration that can muddle story flaws often found in novels, any break in the logical plot progression in a picture is glaring.

4) When intent on improving your craft, practice writing a story a plot and analyzing prize-winning plots in pictures books involves much fewer pages than writing and analyzing novels.

5) A fresh concept, great craft and unique voice are the anthems of great writing of every kind

Today I write!

No matter your genre or preferred audience, I invite you to watch How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot. Do the exercises. Join our Facebook group and ask questions that come up in the series and your share progress.

Along with How to Write a Sell a Picture Book with a Plot, we also offer in our Video Workshops Series ~~ PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For plot help: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Ready to rewrite your story? First revise. 

  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
PlotWriMo help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on 5 Tips How to Write and Sell a Picture Book with a Plot as of 9/11/2014 1:12:00 PM
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19. Dramatic Action Inciting Incident and Character Emotional Development Dark Night

At last weekend's Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference, an exhilarating success, I presented Deep Scenes: Choosing Just the Right Scene to Plot Your Novel with my co-author of Deep Scenes (Fall 2015) and co-founder of WriterPath Retreats, the fabulous Jordan Rosenfeld.

A writer asks: isn't the inciting incident of the example I used -- the Pulitizer Prize winning The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt -- when he steals the painting?

Yes, the dramatic action inciting incident is when he steals The Goldfinch in the museum. His action energizes the external action, changing the ordinary to the dramatic -- thus inciting the dramatic action plot.

I was describing just prior to her question the scene that occupies the all important 1st Energetic Marker: the End of the Beginning. Rather than the scene where he steals the painting earning the marker moment, the scene that steals the coveted spot is when his father arrives. His father's arrival is a pivotal no-turning-back moment that earns this honor because at its heart, this story is primarily character-driven. Long before his mother dies in the explosion, his father inflicted the protagonist's backstory wound when he walked out on them.

Yes, the dramatic action makes this a page-turning novel -- will he or won't he succeed? The answer we come to care about more deeply is will he or won't he find peace?

After that presentation and especially so after presenting solo Plot and Character Transformation in Novels: Character Goals versus Character Traits, I find I don't even try to resist throwing in what negative reviewers seem to hate in The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master -- the Universal Story, especially how it applies beyond stories to us in the human realm. I come home energized about my up-coming: Transform Your Creative Life through the Universal Story: Seize the Life of Your Dreams online personal transformation workshop. Join me and move from where you currently are in the Universal Story to your heart's desire.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - TrailerPlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on Dramatic Action Inciting Incident and Character Emotional Development Dark Night as of 8/18/2014 1:21:00 PM
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20. How to Write a Story Concept for More than One Point-of-View Character

To give you an idea of the sort of help and support every writer needs, a writer watching the PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month videos asks on A Path to Publishing FB group: How do you write a concept for more than one pov?


Concept
Who Wants What?
Antagonist Stopping her?
Motivation?

Concept extraordinaire Jill Corcoran answers with this example:

SHOE STUD is a romantic comedy told from alternating pov of the descendants of rivaling shoe dynasties in which Steve, a kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes, and Marnie, a shy college senior with only one foot, must be the first to find a pair of diamond-studded Blanka wedges or lose their chance at inheriting a sparkling new shoe manufacturing plant.

That one line says enough to intrigue and includes all three plot lines (with a hint of possibility for the fourth).

Dramatic Action:
Will the wedges be found?
Who will find them first?
Ticking clock: who finds the shoes first and wins?

Character Emotional Development:
Steve: kleptomaniac with a fetish for shoes (gives a clear sense of his strength, flaw, love)
Marnie: shy college senior with only one foot (gives a clear sense of her flaw, backstory wound, strength)

Thematic Significance:
At this point the story hinges more on the quirky characterizations of the point-of-view characters and less on a higher calling. If one of them have a goal of winning the plant that includes a higher purpose the thematic significance heightens.

Romance: Any story about a girl and a boy | a woman and a man always offers the possibility of a heart connection between them.

As the concept is written here, the whimsy of the tale is enough for your family, friends, agents, editors, readers to ask for more and thus satisfy the basic demand of a story concept.

(If you haven't already, join us at the A Path to Publishing FB group. Jill and I created the Facebook group as safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing and the book biz. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a forum for us all to advance our skills, our creativity and our dreams plus learn about what we are up to at A PATH TO PUBLISHING. All genres for all ages Welcome!)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - Trailer PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on How to Write a Story Concept for More than One Point-of-View Character as of 8/21/2014 12:49:00 PM
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21. Task Analysis to Creating Exciting Scenes in the Middle of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay

When I worked in special education, we preformed a task analysis of school activities children struggled with to determine the hierarchical concepts and cognition, steps and skills needed to master the given tasks in the classroom. Starting with a specific goal assigned by the teacher, we'd break the necessary behavioral sequence into steps allowing for adaption, modification and compensation.

Like scenes on a Plot Planner, each step sequentially leads to the successful completion of said goal.

Plot Tip:
Do a task analysis of the protagonist's overall story goal in your novel, memoir, screenplay.

Start with the actions the protagonist takes that show mastery at the 4th Energetic Marker and crowning glory of the entire story. Now, work backwards, breaking down each step needed to gain the necessary skills and abilities, knowledge and beliefs for the protagonist to prevail. Form these steps into scenes and place them in the middle of your Plot Planner in an hierarchical order beginning at the start of the middle with scenes of lesser tension, conflict suspense and curiosity to those scenes with greatest conflict, tension and suspense at the end of the story.

Identify and anticipate the antagonists facing the protagonist in the middle of your story. Create more excitement in the middle by creating challenges, obstacles, interferences that challenge the protagonist's weaknesses (flaw, fear, hatred) and force her to adapt to, modify and compensate for those same weaknesses while also discovering her hidden strengthens.

Use the Energetic Markers as your guide for which scene goes where.

(You can do this sort of task analysis for every aspect and plot line in your story)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH - Trailer PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises total

0 Comments on Task Analysis to Creating Exciting Scenes in the Middle of Your Novel, Memoir, Screenplay as of 8/26/2014 7:41:00 PM
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22. Witness Transformation

Her self-talk is brutal about how she never follows through on her writing goals, shakes her head at how many vacation days she's taken for the express purpose of writing the entire time only to veg in front of the television telling herself all sorts of loser stories about herself to herself, sinking deeper into despair and the impossibility of her situation.


That's all backstory. Her inciting incident in this scenario in her life is when she signs up with me. In the next few months, she shows me all of who she currently is -- her baseline data as it relates to this story at this time in her life.

The sacrifices she makes to afford to work with me does nothing to spur her to be accountable to herself. During many of the two-week periods between checking in with me, she does no writing at all. When she does write, she shows up session after session, ashamed of not writing more, not being good enough, not knowing how to write well enough. Drowning in excuses, her pattern emerges.

Rather than give her what she seems to be waiting for -- confirmation that yes indeed, she is a mess, a failure, unworthy -- instead I offer strategies to bridge the way from where she quakes on one side of the rapids to the calm meadow of acceptance on the other side. She keeps paying my fee and wanting to talk at the conceptual level. I keep dragging her out of her fears and into the concrete here-and-now, brainstorming one scene after another and reminding her again and again about the treasures waiting in her story -- she has a couple of fantastic elements that make for a rocking concept.

The moment she crosses over into the exotic world of being a true writer -- writing -- and leaves behind the pretender and talker about being a writer is the day she shuts off the cable to her house and removes the television. We both know the darkness this exotic new world she's entering represents to her and what awaits her. The resistance doesn't magically disappear, though it can by taking full responsibility for our choices. After a smooth month or two, her schedule changes, forcing her to write at home rather than in the safety of a crowded coffee shop. One of her beloved cats dies. The other beloved clings to her.

She's a sponge for any and all advice and support I offer her. She wants this. She wants to write this story from beginning to end. And somewhere even deeper, I hear her desperate cry to heal the festering wound she's been picking at all her writing life, perhaps her entire life.

I ask her to write in every room of the house (lots of resistance to her writing room) and keep a record of how long she writes in each space and how she feels writing there. Unexpectedly, she stumbles upon an exact right spot. When she compares her progress writing at that spot to all others, she understands that she actually likes to write there.

As fiercely as she longs to dabble in the safety of the beginning of her story, now, in her exact right writing space with concrete scene ideas, she writes into the exotic world of her story. The story and major characters begin to enliven her. As she grows stronger, her negative self-talk fades. Excitement and energy for her story build. Her own personal transformation begins.

Yes, a crisis likely awaits her. Still she's gaining the strength and beliefs and self-knowledge needed not to be felled by whatever comes as she writes deeper and deeper into her story.

A climax also await -- I have every faith in her (and in each of us) that if she wants it, she will triumph and in the end hold in her hands a completed novel from beginning to end with a plot.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

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23. Where To Start: How To Write the Exact Right Beginning of Your Story

Pain shoots up from the bottom of her foot, enough so she limps and is forced to wear heavy boots with firm arch supports. Hearing the pain started about a month into writing a memoir and that she hasn't moved very far into her story even after more than seven months of writing scenes long-hand, I suspect that her foot pain and writing pain were linked.

Often problems with the feet indicate difficulty moving forward. I ask her what the problem is with moving forward with her story.

"I don't know where to begin," she mutters.


The struggle in determining the exact right beginning point to start your story is not isolated to memoir writers. Yes, when faced with scenes from your entire life, deciding what to put in and what to leave out can confuse a writer about where best to begin her memoir. The same can be said for novelists and screenwriters as well as memoir writers

With some intense theme explorations, both listing themes that fire up the most energy in her to write about and developing a thematic significance statement for what meaning overall she wishes to convey lead her to the perfect place to begin.

Is that the place the memoir will ultimately begin in the final, final draft? Not necessarily. At this point the most important action this writer can take is to start there and write an entire draft all the way to the end one time. Then she can go back and determine if, in fact, that is the place to begin or take the test I share in my upcoming Writers Store webinar: Where To Start: How To Write the Exact Right Beginning of Your Story and finally pinpoint the exact right place. (Oh, and I can almost guarantee that by the time she writes into the exotic world of the middle, her foot pain miraculously vanishes…)

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more about how to develop THEMES and a THEMATIC SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT for your novel, memoir, screenplay: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Need more help with your story? 
  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
We can help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.


PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on Where To Start: How To Write the Exact Right Beginning of Your Story as of 9/2/2014 10:30:00 PM
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24. How to Show Character Emotion beyond the Cliched

Often in real life and news reports, we witness spontaneous and raw emotion. Not something we're privy to much in our everyday lives, having been taught to control our emotions as demonstrated by our show of emotional development and maturity.

Many shy away from bearing witness to some of the most raw and painful shows of emotion -- rage, sorrow, jealousy, aggression, grief. Some judge shows of spontaneous and raw emotion childish / dangerous / uncomfortable. Buck up, we're taught. Everyone feels pain. Grow up. Get over it.


Yet, in those shared moments of emotional truth rather than skimming along on the surface of life, the spontaneous and raw emotion pulls us deeper and connects us primally and universally to all of life.

Convey that universality through the truth of your  character's emotional reaction in such a way as to elicit the shared emotion in your reader and move your audience and you've create fans for life.

Plot Tip:
Feel what you need to feel.

Let your characters feel what they need to feel.

Remove the mask. Feel. Identify what and why and how that feeling shows itself in you and in others. When you're in the throes of true emotion, jot down the physical and emotional and spiritual reactions the emotion draws up in you. With your findings, create your own emotional notebook. Search beyond the cliched emotional reactions to the truth of what you see and feel and hear and touch and taste and know to be true when experiencing real emotion.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For more: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~

Need more help with your story? 

  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
PlotWriMo help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on How to Show Character Emotion beyond the Cliched as of 9/4/2014 4:40:00 PM
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25. Every Writer's Mantra

Show don't tell is every writer's mantra and one of the first stumbling blocks a beginning writer encounters. Come time to revise before writing the next draft, writers with little background in the craft of writing a story with a plot find they've told the story rather than shown the story through scenes. Both writing in summary and in all dialogue, writing from a distance seems easier to manage. Even in first person POV, writers often unwittingly separate from the intimacy of sensuous story moments by narrating or telling the story.


This is fine, in the first draft. More than fine actually. I advise writing your story anyway you can from beginning all the way to end before going back and rewriting. This way you know what happens at the end which directly influences what comes in the beginning.

As you begin to understand how to write a scene, you find yourself overcompensating by following up your scenes with explanatory summaries.

Plot tip: Trust your writing
Plot tip: Trust your reader
Plot tip: Never repeat. Deepen.

You also struggle with issues that come up about the overall presentation of the story.

What POV is best for your story?
Where to put memories?
How to incorporate flashbacks
What is the optimum length your readers will enjoy?
What to put in?
What to leave out?
What are you trying to say; what do all the words add up to?
What will your reader be left with?

These are questions every novelist, writer grapples with when learning the craft of writing a story with a plot.

Today I write!
~~~~~~~~
For help: Read my Plot Whisperer and Blockbuster Plots books for writers.
~~~~
Ready to rewrite your story? First revise. 

  • Looking for tips to prop up your middle with excitement? 
  • Wish you understood how to show don't tell what your character is feeling? 
  • Are even you sometimes bored with your own story?
  • Long to form your concept into words? 
PlotWriMo help you with all of that and so much more! View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing.

PlotWwiMo: REVISE YOUR NOVEL IN A MONTH
PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month includes 8 videos  (5.5 hours)  + 30 exercises

0 Comments on Every Writer's Mantra as of 9/10/2014 10:54:00 AM
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