Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

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disgruntledpeony
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Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby disgruntledpeony » Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:56 am

I was interested in doing Wulf's dialogue exercise from the Super Secrets thread, but didn't want to take up extra space in the thread because I'm not currently an active participant in the workshop. As such, I figured, why not start a thread where forumites who aren't part of the workshop can still participate in the exercises if they're so inclined? I'd like for this thread to be an open space where people are free to post their KYDs/any other exercises they've been wanting to experiment with. If people are interested in doing peer review on said exercises, feel free; I can't guarantee I'll have time to spearhead that initiative, but I'll try to poke my head in every once in awhile.

My initial experiment with the dialogue exercise is below. I don't have time to work on the second part of the exercise now, but I fully plan to play with that later. (I wasn't sure exactly what was meant by twelve lines, so I just... wrote twelve sections of back and forth dialogue. *flails*)

#

Brand grabbed his phone off the bedside table, fumbled to answer Malcolm’s call before it went to voicemail, and snarled, “What?”
“Oh, good, I was worried you wouldn’t answer--"
“It’s three a.m. Why the hell are you calling me at three a.m.?”
“I’m, uhh, I’m kind of in a bind here.”
“What’d you do?”
“Nothing! I just, you know, I was curious about the sinkholes that’ve been opening up on the West Side. They talked about it on the news last night. So I went to check them out, and--”
“You went alone?”
“I didn’t figure it would be a problem.”
“Rule number two, man. We’ve been over this!”
“You don’t even know why I’m calling yet.”
“Sure I do. Either you’ve got your ass stuck in a sinkhole and you need me to pull you out, or you found out what’s making the sinkholes and it’s a problem.”
“Umm.”
“Is it both? It’s both, isn’t it? Goddamnit. You got an address?”
“Somewhere near Hubbell? Pilgrim and Lauder, I think.”
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Reuben » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:39 am

Great idea! I was thinking along the same lines. I wrote a couple since I couldn't get it right. Since there are no rules yet I'll post two. wotf011

Regarding yours, this is a great piece that establishes a character in a setting with a problem. The only thing is that it might not be what Wulf calls ping-pong dialogue, since there are a couple of lines that get to be a bit long. That's my only problem though, so far as I see.


“My God, is that…” I look over at Cherry.
“Sparks of fire.”
“Why?”
“To make them pay.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I can and will. They’ll regret killing Father. Boy will they.”
“They’re going to know it was you. Lynch you.”
“Not everyone’s on their side.”
“Enough to finish you off.”
“Can’t lynch me if I take my own life, can they?”
“I suppose not. But why?”
“Justice, my friend. Justice.”

I watch Dad’s receding back together with Hochie. “What a jerk.”
“Yeah.”
“Can’t even get a decent suit to fit him.”
“Yeah.”
“Can’t even take care of his own kids.”
“Yeah.”
“Probably the biggest jerk ever to roam the Earth.”
“Yeah.”
“Why you just keep on saying ‘yeah’?”
“Why’re you so against him?”
“The jerk remarried, that’s why. And now we have to move in with dumb Stepmother Annie.”
“I like Stepmother Annie.”
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill
V. 37: R, R, R, ?

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jun 11, 2020 12:01 pm

disgruntledpeony wrote:I was interested in doing Wulf's dialogue exercise from the Super Secrets thread, but didn't want to take up extra space in the thread because I'm not currently an active participant in the workshop. As such, I figured, why not start a thread where forumites who aren't part of the workshop can still participate in the exercises if they're so inclined? I'd like for this thread to be an open space where people are free to post their KYDs/any other exercises they've been wanting to experiment with. If people are interested in doing peer review on said exercises, feel free; I can't guarantee I'll have time to spearhead that initiative, but I'll try to poke my head in every once in awhile.

My initial experiment with the dialogue exercise is below. I don't have time to work on the second part of the exercise now, but I fully plan to play with that later. (I wasn't sure exactly what was meant by twelve lines, so I just... wrote twelve sections of back and forth dialogue. *flails*)

#

Brand grabbed his phone off the bedside table, fumbled to answer Malcolm’s call before it went to voicemail, and snarled, “What?”
“Oh, good, I was worried you wouldn’t answer--"
“It’s three a.m. Why the hell are you calling me at three a.m.?”
“I’m, uhh, I’m kind of in a bind here.”
“What’d you do?”
“Nothing! I just, you know, I was curious about the sinkholes that’ve been opening up on the West Side. They talked about it on the news last night. So I went to check them out, and--”
“You went alone?”
“I didn’t figure it would be a problem.”
“Rule number two, man. We’ve been over this!”
“You don’t even know why I’m calling yet.”
“Sure I do. Either you’ve got your ass stuck in a sinkhole and you need me to pull you out, or you found out what’s making the sinkholes and it’s a problem.”
“Umm.”
“Is it both? It’s both, isn’t it? Goddamnit. You got an address?”
“Somewhere near Hubbell? Pilgrim and Lauder, I think.”


I love this idea, Liz. I've got seventeen challenge members this year, and it does make for a lot of scrolling on the thread to keep up with assignments. I'm glad you understand, and opened this up for others that wish to play with the exercises and get some commentary on their work!

As for this sample, it works quite well, unveiling the problem in parcels through what I call ping-pong dialogue--fast repartee where it's so obvious who is speaking, you don't need tags or beats once you've set up the speakers in the opening. This piece has a lot of dynamic energy and is easy to follow because one character is angry, one is penitent. Just by the mood in each line, we know who is who. Well done!

The lead sentence is long, and has to be parceled out through three commas. If writing is likened to driving a car, commas are like taking your foot off the gas, periods are like pushing down on the brake. You probably did this long line to avoid creating another line, since I only gave you the space of twelve lines to work with (this piece was over, but this is your party here :). The objective is to create lightning fast dialogue without tags and beats, which slow the pacing. So your first line is cool, but just a tad over the top. And you describe emotion, which is weaker than letting your readers discern the emotion of the words. I believe the first line should be written like this:

Brand grabbed his phone off the bedside table, fumbled to answer Malcolm’s call before it went to voicemail. “What?”

You don't have to italicize it, but I think it gives it that irritated shade without using "snarled." The single word, without any greeting, also conveys annoyance. Context will also reveal Brand does not appreciate being woken up. Telling us he snarled just states the obvious.

The piece has lots of tension. You've got someone woken out of sleep by a 3 a.m. phone call. You've got a friend in a bind. You've got strange sinkholes, and a partner breaking an established code of investigation, "Rule number two, man. We've been over this!" And, as the details unfurl, the partner is trapped. All of this is laid out by the author like breadcrumbs, leading us toward the destination of the piece: Malcolm has fallen, and he can't get up. :)

That rule number two fact is great. By stating they have rules and have them numbered, we know these two have history and systems. They've done things like this before. And you told us all that just by saying "rule number two." Nice!

Good work here, Liz. I also like the use of the em dash to interrupt the dialogue. We do this in natural conversation. Finding the places to do that when we write dialogue makes it real. I'll give you something else to try in addition. Not simply breaking a spoken sentence, but breaking a word by an em dash. Find a spot in the dialogue where you can butt in on top of the word someone is spea--

You get the point

As I've been watching these, I think many would make great story openings--yours included--with just a bit of scene setting and character description in the openings. In medias res is very important in selling to today's markets, and these ping-pong dialogue exercises have it in spades. With just a bit more setup, this would be a great opening to a short story. It has a Tim Powers' feel to it, and that's the highest praise I can give.

Thanks for sharing! Nice work!

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
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Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:18 am

Reuben wrote:Great idea! I was thinking along the same lines. I wrote a couple since I couldn't get it right. Since there are no rules yet I'll post two. wotf011

Regarding yours, this is a great piece that establishes a character in a setting with a problem. The only thing is that it might not be what Wulf calls ping-pong dialogue, since there are a couple of lines that get to be a bit long. That's my only problem though, so far as I see.


“My God, is that…” I look over at Cherry.
“Sparks of fire.”
“Why?”
“To make them pay.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I can and will. They’ll regret killing Father. Boy will they.”
“They’re going to know it was you. Lynch you.”
“Not everyone’s on their side.”
“Enough to finish you off.”
“Can’t lynch me if I take my own life, can they?”
“I suppose not. But why?”
“Justice, my friend. Justice.”

I watch Dad’s receding back together with Hochie. “What a jerk.”
“Yeah.”
“Can’t even get a decent suit to fit him.”
“Yeah.”
“Can’t even take care of his own kids.”
“Yeah.”
“Probably the biggest jerk ever to roam the Earth.”
“Yeah.”
“Why you just keep on saying ‘yeah’?”
“Why’re you so against him?”
“The jerk remarried, that’s why. And now we have to move in with dumb Stepmother Annie.”
“I like Stepmother Annie.”


Reuben: The first is the best of the two. It moves fast as lightning, filling in the details as it moves swiftly along. Which is the point of dialogue like this. Most beginning writers can't write ping-pong dialogue. They think they need tags everywhere, and emotional modifiers, too. Yours is squeaky clean. The only issues I see is that while you identify Cherry, she doesn't ID who she is speaking to. We figure the protagonist is a sibling about halfway down, and that only if "Father" is the name they call their father by. Could be an organization, could be an AI, so you do want to clarify right away who the speakers are in any dialogue set--especially if you're using tag-less and beat-less ping-pong dialogue.

Also, here's how I'd write your opening line: “My God, is that…?” I look over at Cherry.

Beware first person present tense POV. The judges have made some strong statements against it, and prefer third person, past tense. Just saying. :)

All the beast!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
Learn the Secrets of a Howling Good Plot! https://bit.ly/37CYwpZ

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby LDWriter2 » Sat Jun 13, 2020 7:38 pm

This started While I was gone for awhile a few months back I do not know how it works
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Reuben » Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:44 pm

Thanks so much for the critique Wulf!

LDWriter2 wrote:This started While I was gone for awhile a few months back I do not know how it works


This started with Wulf's latest super secret, which is avoid saidisms, and use beats when needed. The challenge was to write twelve lines of original dialogue, with just one tag or beat in the beginning. The point was to write dialogue in a way that it would be clear who's speaking just from the tone and subject. The next step is to morph that into a vignette with setting and whatever else you want. (Random question: Why LDWriter2? Is there a LDWriter1? I didn't know it was so common a name...)

To anyone else out there: Well, what are you waiting for? Or you going to let the Wulfs take all the wins? NO!

Just jot down a few lines of dialogue and put it in. Don't worry, the characters just write themselves. If you don't know how to start, just do what I did: Start with a variation of "Oh no!"
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill
V. 37: R, R, R, ?

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Reuben » Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:47 pm

Vignette 250 words

I, Fromner Starkan, vaticinator and loyal member of The Magical Servants of the Crown, am shocked. And standing with my brother in this dank cellar that is filled with an unearthly light, I am filled with a dark sense of foreboding; a feeling I know only too well. I know with the certainty that comes from my gift that, if my brother Cherry has what I think, everyone is in danger. Such cruel and blasphemous tools should not be of use in this world, a world already infested with wickedness. Yet feelings alone won’t stop the shadows dancing gleefully across the walls.
“My God, is that…?” I look over Cherry.
He nods. “Sparks of fire.”
“Why?”
Under the dim light I see the determined face of a soul twisted in agony. “To make them pay.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I can and will. They’ll regret killing Father. Boy will they.”
“They’re going to know it was you. Lynch you.”
“Not everyone’s on their side.”
“Enough to finish you off.”
“Can’t lynch me if I take my own life, eh?”
“Well, no. But…why? Isn’t there enough death in the world?”
“Justice, my friend. Justice.”
Then he is gone, and his sparks with him.
I am torn, as those of my capabilities always are. I do not wish for anyone to die, yet nor can I bring myself to betray my brother. He has always been bullheaded, impetuous; yet with a moral compass straight as an arrow.
I will not stop him.
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill
V. 37: R, R, R, ?

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby LDWriter2 » Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:00 pm

Reuben wrote:Thanks so much for the critique Wulf!

LDWriter2 wrote:This started While I was gone for awhile a few months back I do not know how it works


This started with Wulf's latest super secret, which is avoid saidisms, and use beats when needed. (Random question: Why LDWriter2? Is there a LDWriter1? I didn't know it was so common a name...)

To anyone else out there: Well, what are you waiting for? Or you going to let the Wulfs take all the wins? NO!

Just jot down a few lines of dialogue and put it in. Don't worry, the characters just write themselves. If you don't know how to start, just do what I did: Start with a variation of "Oh no!"



Thank you

As to my screen name. A double meaning, one was more of a joke. In the first writing forum I was on led by a writer I came up with this. It joke meaning to say that I was the second best writer in the forum. I wasn't by far of course, still not even though this is a different forum, but thought a little positive thinking would not hurt. The second meaning is that I am a writer too.
Working on turning Lead into Gold.

Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:27 am

Reuben wrote:Vignette 250 words

I, Fromner Starkan, vaticinator and loyal member of The Magical Servants of the Crown, am shocked. And standing with my brother in this dank cellar that is filled with an unearthly light, I am filled with a dark sense of foreboding; a feeling I know only too well. I know with the certainty that comes from my gift that, if my brother Cherry has what I think, everyone is in danger. Such cruel and blasphemous tools should not be of use in this world, a world already infested with wickedness. Yet feelings alone won’t stop the shadows dancing gleefully across the walls.
“My God, is that…?” I look over Cherry.
He nods. “Sparks of fire.”
“Why?”
Under the dim light I see the determined face of a soul twisted in agony. “To make them pay.”
“You can’t do that!”
“I can and will. They’ll regret killing Father. Boy will they.”
“They’re going to know it was you. Lynch you.”
“Not everyone’s on their side.”
“Enough to finish you off.”
“Can’t lynch me if I take my own life, eh?”
“Well, no. But…why? Isn’t there enough death in the world?”
“Justice, my friend. Justice.”
Then he is gone, and his sparks with him.
I am torn, as those of my capabilities always are. I do not wish for anyone to die, yet nor can I bring myself to betray my brother. He has always been bullheaded, impetuous; yet with a moral compass straight as an arrow.
I will not stop him.


Reuben,

The actual ping-pong dialogue in this worked well for the exercise. However, the 250 word expansion was to create a vignette out of the exercise, working the material into a subtle micro story or scene. Unfortunately, you merely added a prelude to the front, and an epilogue at the end. While this worked for Shakespeare in the 16th century, it does not work for modern readers. We consider ourselves savvy, and will draw our own conclusions on morality and character, thank you very much. Just tell us a story and let us draw our own conclusions as to whether someone is bullheaded, impetuous, or straight as an arrow.

Right now, this reads like a crier coming onto the stage, telling the audience how to feel at the start of a play.

"A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

In this case, I will say the hated phrase: Show, don't tell.

Best to your writing!

Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Reuben » Sun Jul 05, 2020 2:24 pm

Thanks Wulf. Seems like I totally missed the whole point of the exercise. Strike out : (

No need to critique this also, but just to stay in the game I'm putting this revised edition here. Thanks so much again.

A cruel light causes shadows to dance across the walls.
“My God, is that…?” I look over at my brother Cherry.
He nods. “Sparks of fire.”
“Why?”
Under the dim light I see the determined face of a soul twisted in agony. “To make them pay.” “You can’t do that!”
“I can and will. They’ll regret killing Father. Boy will they.”
My heart thumps in terror, the damp smell of underground strong in my nostrils. “They’re going to know it was you. Lynch you.”
“Not everyone’s on their side.”
“Enough to finish you off.”
“Can’t lynch me if I take my own life, eh?”
“Well, no. But…why?” I struggle to conceal my emotions. “Isn’t there enough death in the world?”
“Justice, my friend. Justice.”
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. ~ Winston Churchill
V. 37: R, R, R, ?

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby empressed » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:10 am

Ok, this was an idea I noodled with a while back. This doesn't work as well as what I have in the full length story, but I still enjoyed playing. LOL


"I didn't mean to do that," Evie said, watching the last unicorn bleed out while Lucky circled overhead on leathery wings.
"Niiiccce. Juioooceeee."
"No! You can't eat it!"
Whyyy?
"Because it was beautiful."
"Beauty isss nott why nott."
"It wasn't supposed to die."
"But itt did. Sshould I ssstarve?"
"And. . . it was my fault."
"Yess." The dragon bit off a foreleg and gulped. "If you're hungreee, there isss a grove. Fruit treessss." Lucifer flicked his tongue.
"I can't eat those!"
"Whyy?"
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:36 pm

Reuben wrote:Thanks Wulf. Seems like I totally missed the whole point of the exercise. Strike out : (

No need to critique this also, but just to stay in the game I'm putting this revised edition here. Thanks so much again.

A cruel light causes shadows to dance across the walls.
“My God, is that…?” I look over at my brother Cherry.
He nods. “Sparks of fire.”
“Why?”
Under the dim light I see the determined face of a soul twisted in agony. “To make them pay.” “You can’t do that!”
“I can and will. They’ll regret killing Father. Boy will they.”
My heart thumps in terror, the damp smell of underground strong in my nostrils. “They’re going to know it was you. Lynch you.”
“Not everyone’s on their side.”
“Enough to finish you off.”
“Can’t lynch me if I take my own life, eh?”
“Well, no. But…why?” I struggle to conceal my emotions. “Isn’t there enough death in the world?”
“Justice, my friend. Justice.”


You didn't miss the point of the exercise, Reuben. :) This was for the Ping Pong Dialogue set of exercises were were working on. Nice response to my critique. This is much stronger. My only suggestion on this one is look at what we're working on presently, Phase 5 of the Set. Your. Stage. Super Secret. Make that first line work for you. You could get more setup out of that first line, grounding your readers with setting, characters, and even what's going on that's so dangerous to give us some context. It's a mystery right now, and while some mysteries are good, withholding critical information from your readers is not.

Well done! Just enhance that opening line and you've got this!

Cheers!
Wulf Moon http://driftweave.com
Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Eagerink » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:41 pm

Hello everyone, I would like to help revive this thread if that's okay. The super secrets thread is in the middle of a phase exercise right now so I'm not going to jump into that, but since there is one about dialogue posted here I decided to go ahead and do it.

“The light’s red, the light’s red--” Hailey gripped the lockbox tighter.
“I know but they’re right behind us--”
“James!... agh, now they have us on two things.”
“Only two?”
“Robbery and traffic violation.”
Robbery and… if we get caught we’ll spend the rest of our time in prison.”
“But it’s my gold.”
“They don’t know that. And… it was your dagger, and it’s still stuck in him--”
“I didn’t know he was going to stab himself!”
“Tough luck. You knew it was risky when you hired me.”
“Not like this. You’d better get me back safely.”
“The three hundred bucks didn’t cover ‘safely’… but fifty bucks more and I’ll hide the body.”
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:46 pm

empressed wrote:Ok, this was an idea I noodled with a while back. This doesn't work as well as what I have in the full length story, but I still enjoyed playing. LOL


"I didn't mean to do that," Evie said, watching the last unicorn bleed out while Lucky circled overhead on leathery wings.
"Niiiccce. Juioooceeee."
"No! You can't eat it!"
Whyyy?
"Because it was beautiful."
"Beauty isss nott why nott."
"It wasn't supposed to die."
"But itt did. Sshould I ssstarve?"
"And. . . it was my fault."
"Yess." The dragon bit off a foreleg and gulped. "If you're hungreee, there isss a grove. Fruit treessss." Lucifer flicked his tongue.
"I can't eat those!"
"Whyy?"


Okay, this your work on the first Ping Pong Dialogue Exercise. Twelve lines max, and you nailed that. Always happy to see instructions followed. :)

It's clear what is going on here, and who the characters are. Well done! In this case, you use dialect to isolate speakers to keep the dialogue tags out. A word of warning: dialect tricks like this get annoying to readers quickly. I know Gollum spoke like this, but even Tolkien didn't roll so many esses in Gollum's speech. My recommendation is to get rid of all these extensions and go with your natural hair. Or scales in this case. :)

If your character voices are unique enough, and they are, we don't needsss thesssse tricksyyyy thingsssss. :)

Much warmth,

Moon
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Author page: http://amazon.com/author/wulfmoon
Critter Awards: Wulf Moon BEST AUTHOR 2019; "Super-Duper Moongirl" BEST SF&F STORY 2019.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Wulf Moon » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:58 pm

Eagerink wrote:Hello everyone, I would like to help revive this thread if that's okay. The super secrets thread is in the middle of a phase exercise right now so I'm not going to jump into that, but since there is one about dialogue posted here I decided to go ahead and do it.

“The light’s red, the light’s red--” Hailey gripped the lockbox tighter.
“I know but they’re right behind us--”
“James!... agh, now they have us on two things.”
“Only two?”
“Robbery and traffic violation.”
Robbery and… if we get caught we’ll spend the rest of our time in prison.”
“But it’s my gold.”
“They don’t know that. And… it was your dagger, and it’s still stuck in him--”
“I didn’t know he was going to stab himself!”
“Tough luck. You knew it was risky when you hired me.”
“Not like this. You’d better get me back safely.”
“The three hundred bucks didn’t cover ‘safely’… but fifty bucks more and I’ll hide the body.”


Eagerink, good action in this. And you followed my rules for the Ping Pong Dialogue exercise, only twelve lines, and after initial setup line, pure dialogue, no tags. Well done!

Some suggestions. The em dash is used to interrupt speech, like when people talk over one another. Ellipses are used to trail off thought, as if the speaker is not sure what to say next. In this vignette, both are overused. Like seasoning, use sparingly. A little goes a long way.

To help, let me do some quick fixes. Here goes.

"The light’s red, the light’s red!” Hailey gripped the lockbox tighter.
“I know but they’re right behind us!”
“James! James! Agh, now they have two things on us.”
“Only two?”
“Robbery and traffic violation.”
Robbery and … Hailey, if we get caught we’ll spend the rest of our lives in prison.
“But it’s my gold!"
“They don’t know that. And it was your dagger, and it’s still stuck in him.”
“I didn’t know he was going to stab himself!”
“Tough luck. You knew the risks when you hired me.”
“Not like this. Not like this. You’d better get me back safely.”
“Three hundred bucks didn’t cover ‘safely,' but for fifty bucks more I’ll hide the body.”

I hope that helps! I have her repeat "Not like this" because it sounds more panicky that way. Remember what I said about seasoning. Use em dash breaks and ellipses sparingly.

Good writing!

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby empressed » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:05 pm

Thanks, Moon and nice job, Eager!

Good menace and humor combination.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Eagerink » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:12 pm

Thanks for the tips Moon!

And thanks Empressed, I like yours too, I like the character of the dragon :)
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby disgruntledpeony » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:01 pm

I'll be trying to go through and provide crits on everything that's been posted soon. However, I had a few minutes, and wanted to take a crack at Wulf's latest assignment about opening lines:

First, the opening line from "A Different Kind of Place," by Tobias S. Buckell:

After the zombie outbreak in San Fontaine was put down, Zadie treated herself to a new hair color as a way to get away from constantly watching the news.

And second, my opening line:

Helena Baird stalked the perimeter of Silas Ellsworth's ivy-smothered Queen Anne style Victorian house and searched for fairy-sign, Papa's antique tire iron in hand.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Ania » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:36 am

empressed wrote:Ok, this was an idea I noodled with a while back. This doesn't work as well as what I have in the full length story, but I still enjoyed playing. LOL


"I didn't mean to do that," Evie said, watching the last unicorn bleed out while Lucky circled overhead on leathery wings.
"Niiiccce. Juioooceeee."
"No! You can't eat it!"
Whyyy?
"Because it was beautiful."
"Beauty isss nott why nott."
"It wasn't supposed to die."
"But itt did. Sshould I ssstarve?"
"And. . . it was my fault."
"Yess." The dragon bit off a foreleg and gulped. "If you're hungreee, there isss a grove. Fruit treessss." Lucifer flicked his tongue.
"I can't eat those!"
"Whyy?"


I really liked how the voices were distinct with the use of all the hissing, without it being tiresome to read. It actually helped me picture the dragon even better (although I must admit, I pictured him like the demon from Disenchantment... but it was a very vivid picturing!). What I missed was maybe a better sense of what was happening before? Was Evie new to the place? Maybe something that would help us understand her role a bit better like "I just got here, I don;t know the rules", something in that sense.
I Loved the "Beauty is not why not"! Very unique and sets the second character and even a bit of the world in an interesting light.
I also liked the tempo of the dialog and the tone--upbeat, despite the gruesome event, and on the verge of funny/comic.
Well done!!

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Ania » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:54 am

Here's my attempt at the previous exercise, writing your own first three paragraphs:

"Electric desert"

Eugenia was sailing alone through the sea of ghosts. No one could have predicted such a turn of events--not her husband or kids, certainly not the island's Mothers.
Reaching above her head, Eugenia touched the thin, curved glass of the ship's sail. Condensation glistened in the rare sun rays, a thousand tiny rainbows so beautiful, her heart caught somewhere inside her, like a plow over a stone. She licked some of the drops –water would be scarce soon—and they rested on her tongue like little beads of mint and jasmine.
It wasn’t so horrible on the sea. No ghosts yet, no spurts, no underwater tornadoes—though those you never saw coming, according to her husband. Should have done it years ago, Eugenia thought. Not that anyone would have let her, not even herself. The decision had grown inside her like a third baby, made up of moments of disappointment, fatigue, moments when she couldn’t breathe and, if she could, she would have screamed. Everyday moments on the island, every single day of her life. It had come to feel like if she hadn’t stolen the ship last night, she would have died on the shore.
When she saw the first water column, right before she sent the ship underwater, Eugenia thought she might die now that she had stolen it. No matter. Bracing for the dive, her eyes swept the horizon for her island. It was no longer there.

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Ania » Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:56 am

Ania wrote:
empressed wrote:Ok, this was an idea I noodled with a while back. This doesn't work as well as what I have in the full length story, but I still enjoyed playing. LOL


"I didn't mean to do that," Evie said, watching the last unicorn bleed out while Lucky circled overhead on leathery wings.
"Niiiccce. Juioooceeee."
"No! You can't eat it!"
Whyyy?
"Because it was beautiful."
"Beauty isss nott why nott."
"It wasn't supposed to die."
"But itt did. Sshould I ssstarve?"
"And. . . it was my fault."
"Yess." The dragon bit off a foreleg and gulped. "If you're hungreee, there isss a grove. Fruit treessss." Lucifer flicked his tongue.
"I can't eat those!"
"Whyy?"


I really liked how the voices were distinct with the use of all the hissing, without it being tiresome to read. It actually helped me picture the dragon even better (although I must admit, I pictured him like the demon from Disenchantment... but it was a very vivid picturing!). What I missed was maybe a better sense of what was happening before? Was Evie new to the place? Maybe something that would help us understand her role a bit better like "I just got here, I don;t know the rules", something in that sense.
I Loved the "Beauty is not why not"! Very unique and sets the second character and even a bit of the world in an interesting light.
I also liked the tempo of the dialog and the tone--upbeat, despite the gruesome event, and on the verge of funny/comic.
Well done!!


And now I saw the advice from Moon and all the rest of the posts! Haha, I stand by my opinion, but with a caveat: it was not tiresome for twelve lines!!

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Ania » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:00 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:I'll be trying to go through and provide crits on everything that's been posted soon. However, I had a few minutes, and wanted to take a crack at Wulf's latest assignment about opening lines:

First, the opening line from "A Different Kind of Place," by Tobias S. Buckell:

After the zombie outbreak in San Fontaine was put down, Zadie treated herself to a new hair color as a way to get away from constantly watching the news.

And second, my opening line:

Helena Baird stalked the perimeter of Silas Ellsworth's ivy-smothered Queen Anne style Victorian house and searched for fairy-sign, Papa's antique tire iron in hand.


Really like both openings! Loved the "antique papa's tire iron" in yours, so much information in one object! My tongue caught a bit at the definitions of the house, maybe one less epithet? But the sentence clearly sets characters (three!), setting, genre, and the tire iron certainly hooked me!

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby empressed » Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:59 am

Ania wrote:Here's my attempt at the previous exercise, writing your own first three paragraphs:

"Electric desert"

Eugenia was sailing alone through the sea of ghosts. No one could have predicted such a turn of events--not her husband or kids, certainly not the island's Mothers.
Reaching above her head, Eugenia touched the thin, curved glass of the ship's sail. Condensation glistened in the rare sun rays, a thousand tiny rainbows so beautiful, her heart caught somewhere inside her, like a plow over a stone. She licked some of the drops –water would be scarce soon—and they rested on her tongue like little beads of mint and jasmine.
It wasn’t so horrible on the sea. No ghosts yet, no spurts, no underwater tornadoes—though those you never saw coming, according to her husband. Should have done it years ago, Eugenia thought. Not that anyone would have let her, not even herself. The decision had grown inside her like a third baby, made up of moments of disappointment, fatigue, moments when she couldn’t breathe and, if she could, she would have screamed. Everyday moments on the island, every single day of her life. It had come to feel like if she hadn’t stolen the ship last night, she would have died on the shore.
When she saw the first water column, right before she sent the ship underwater, Eugenia thought she might die now that she had stolen it. No matter. Bracing for the dive, her eyes swept the horizon for her island. It was no longer there.


There are so many things to love here: A sea of ghosts. Curved glass sail with the image of condensation in a thousand tiny rainbows. Beads of mint and jasmine. A decision growing like a third baby made my jaw drop. But I'm also confused. It's a sea of ghosts - but there aren't any. Would they be in the water? The air? Can she look for them (so we know what to expect) before telling us there are none? Water will be scarce, but she's sailing on . . . water. If it's a desert, I don't see it. What should she have done years ago? Stolen the ship and left her family? If that's the case, maybe use the second line to say No one could have predicted she'd leave the island, her husband. Her kids. Certainly not the island's Mothers. Then I'd like to understand why she did it in the following paragraph. What was/is the problem? We're also missing a want in these opening lines, but dang, I LOVE the imagery here. I hope to someday see more!
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby empressed » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:07 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:I'll be trying to go through and provide crits on everything that's been posted soon. However, I had a few minutes, and wanted to take a crack at Wulf's latest assignment about opening lines:

First, the opening line from "A Different Kind of Place," by Tobias S. Buckell:

After the zombie outbreak in San Fontaine was put down, Zadie treated herself to a new hair color as a way to get away from constantly watching the news.

And second, my opening line:

Helena Baird stalked the perimeter of Silas Ellsworth's ivy-smothered Queen Anne style Victorian house and searched for fairy-sign, Papa's antique tire iron in hand.


Good morning, Disgruntled! I'm torn. I like the opening line as it is, but I had to read it twice because it's so full of info. It's got four names in it, action and a threat (which was awesome, btw). I'm thinking if you divided it after "house," it might be easier to read. You COULD remove "Queen Anne style" and we'd understand, but I'm not sure how much that helps.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Ania » Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:30 am

Thank you, Empressed! I was trying very hard to be clear, but when I saw it through your eyes, I realised you're right! So then I tried very hard to understand why is that, and I think (I hope) that part of the problem is that the story is not yet written, so I was writing about things I myself hadn't cleared in my head. What is interesting is how quickly it became apparent that I hadn't thought it through! So, the lesson I learned is always know what you are writing about... Now that I said it, it sounds so obvious!

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Ania » Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:01 am

I choose Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice through the looking glass”: One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it:—it was the black kitten’s fault entirely.

It sets the tone: a bit absurd, but striving to be logical. The character sounds like a child. We are most likely in a house, as kittens usually find themselves in doors (maybe I’m jumping to conclusions?). And we get that something strange happened and our character is trying to understand what is it that is happening and so the first question is “whose fault is it?”. Together with the title, I think it’s a great opening and a strong hook!

My opening: “Show me your testicles now, please,” the doctor said, his hands fiddling with Pete’s documents—the last obsticle… ehm, obstacle, between him and the Once in your Lifetime Boat.

Analysis of Wulf’s opening: We get the immediate hook that will make us finish the sentence—impeding death! We get the full name, which gives the story a certain air and tone (which is supported by the whole structure of the sentence)—a bit archaic, Victorian. We get the atmosphere with the mention of Halloween and almost nothing else is needed, as most know what Halloween means, but we also get all these beautiful words that build on this—virgin wool, helix-weave, cast iron, custom silvered goggles—oop, things are getting weird—designed by MIT engineers (steampunk!) and the concluding strike in the end! Faerie dust! Now I’m curious and know for certain the genre and what I will get from the story—deathly adventure, steampunk story, faeries and a curious character that sounds ready to risk his life (for what I wonder?), seems a bit pedantic (unique, interesting person!) and kind of reminds me of Sherlock Holmes.
Why it works even if it's long? Because it doesn't fail to communicate clearly what Wulf wants it to communicate to the readers--the structure is simple, the technique serves the message. Plus, it is long only because of the listing of things he is wearing, and not from multiple threads of events and introductions of characters etc.

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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Eagerink » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:51 pm

empressed wrote:
Ania wrote:Here's my attempt at the previous exercise, writing your own first three paragraphs:

"Electric desert"

Eugenia was sailing alone through the sea of ghosts. No one could have predicted such a turn of events--not her husband or kids, certainly not the island's Mothers.
Reaching above her head, Eugenia touched the thin, curved glass of the ship's sail. Condensation glistened in the rare sun rays, a thousand tiny rainbows so beautiful, her heart caught somewhere inside her, like a plow over a stone. She licked some of the drops –water would be scarce soon—and they rested on her tongue like little beads of mint and jasmine.
It wasn’t so horrible on the sea. No ghosts yet, no spurts, no underwater tornadoes—though those you never saw coming, according to her husband. Should have done it years ago, Eugenia thought. Not that anyone would have let her, not even herself. The decision had grown inside her like a third baby, made up of moments of disappointment, fatigue, moments when she couldn’t breathe and, if she could, she would have screamed. Everyday moments on the island, every single day of her life. It had come to feel like if she hadn’t stolen the ship last night, she would have died on the shore.
When she saw the first water column, right before she sent the ship underwater, Eugenia thought she might die now that she had stolen it. No matter. Bracing for the dive, her eyes swept the horizon for her island. It was no longer there.


There are so many things to love here: A sea of ghosts. Curved glass sail with the image of condensation in a thousand tiny rainbows. Beads of mint and jasmine. A decision growing like a third baby made my jaw drop. But I'm also confused. It's a sea of ghosts - but there aren't any. Would they be in the water? The air? Can she look for them (so we know what to expect) before telling us there are none? Water will be scarce, but she's sailing on . . . water. If it's a desert, I don't see it. What should she have done years ago? Stolen the ship and left her family? If that's the case, maybe use the second line to say No one could have predicted she'd leave the island, her husband. Her kids. Certainly not the island's Mothers. Then I'd like to understand why she did it in the following paragraph. What was/is the problem? We're also missing a want in these opening lines, but dang, I LOVE the imagery here. I hope to someday see more!


I like the imagery of this as well, but it's not quite clear where she is. What is a sea of ghosts?

Here's a quick 'what I got from reading this' that hopefully will help you. This is like my thought process while reading it:
Ohh a sea of ghosts? I want to know more about that. This trip is unexpected, she lives on an island, and has a family. The ship, or at least the sail, is made of glass; it's not usually sunny, and the rainbows are really beautiful. I LOVE the metaphor of her heart stopping like a plow over a stone. I want to use something like that now lol. Maybe her island has farming on it. She seems emotionally free and in a good mood since a rainbow's beauty had such a reaction in her. Then I learn that water will be scarce soon, which makes sense if she's on a sea voyage. I like 'the little beads of mint and jasmine,' It makes me think she likes tea or something. It isn't 'so horrible yet', makes me think that she was expecting it to be, and also that it will be pretty soon :) She took a long time to make a decision, what was it? It seems like she wanted to leave, but also since her husband told her about the tornadoes, he knew she was leaving. Now I want to know why she left and left her family behind, and where she's going. The line about 'it had come to feel like if she hadn't stolen the ship last night, she'd have died on the shore.' I really like that line, it delivers a kick. She stole the ship. Then it goes back in time it seems and says 'when she saw the first water column' but didn't it say she hadn't seen any? How does a ship go underwater? I want to know more about that. Why is she diving? And then she looks for her island, and the fact that it's gone seems like it's supposed to be surprising, but she left last night, it's sunny now, it seems like the island would be long gone.

I hope this is helpful, I'm not experienced at doing this kind of thing though so keep that in mind. (but I have to start somewhere.) One other thing I would say is, this is a lot of information to begin with, but it also seems like some is being held back. Maybe save some of this for later and answer some of the questions that this brings up first.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Eagerink » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:02 pm

disgruntledpeony wrote:
Helena Baird stalked the perimeter of Silas Ellsworth's ivy-smothered Queen Anne style Victorian house and searched for fairy-sign, Papa's antique tire iron in hand.


Here's my 'this is what I got from reading this': I like 'stalking the perimeter'. Who is Silas Ellsworth? Ooh Ivy. (I like 'Ivy-smothered, it's simple and clear.) I don't know what a Queen Anne style is, but I do know what a Victorian house is. Ooh searching for a fairy sign! I wonder what that would be. Papa's antique tire iron -- I love this, it tells me she's a kid, that she's adventurous, and makes it seem not quite modern, and the 'in hand' makes me think she has done this before for some reason.

I love this. The only thing I would suggest is taking out the Queen Anne style.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Eagerink » Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:05 pm

This is for phase five of Set Your Stage, using one sentence to draw in the reader. I haven't done the other phases so may have left something out but I thought this looked fun.

After searching high and low I found an example in good ol’ Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”

We have a character (technically not the main protagonist though, but he is in the beginning.) We have gender and age, and an interesting age at that. The setting is in Hobbiton, more specifically near Bag End. We wonder where that is, it sounds a little fantastical. We learn that there is a party that’s going to happen, with emphasis on it being a magnificent party, so much so that everyone is excited about it. However there is no heart’s desire, other than the minor thing that he wants to have a party.

Here’s my example:

At two fifteen on Friday afternoon Hal Johnson picked up the office phone, paused a moment to reclaim his thoughts, and dialed the number of Demons-be-Gone scribbled on the palm of his hand.
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Re: Experimenting with Exercises from Wulf's Super Secrets

Postby Reuben » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:14 pm

Wulf Moon wrote: My only suggestion on this one is look at what we're working on presently, Phase 5 of the Set. Your. Stage. Super Secret. Make that first line work for you. You could get more setup out of that first line, grounding your readers with setting, characters, and even what's going on that's so dangerous to give us some context. It's a mystery right now, and while some mysteries are good, withholding critical information from your readers is not.

Well done! Just enhance that opening line and you've got this!

Cheers!

Thanks Wulf! Here's my assignment.

This is from The Fisherman and the Pig, by Kameron Hurley, reprinted in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Nev sat on the end of the charred pier, casting his line again and again into the murky water in the hopes of catching a corpse.


Why this sentence hooked me We have a character, presumably the protagonist, Nev, who is fishing for a ... corpse? The title is "The Fisherman and the Pig", so we intuitively know right away that Nev is a fisherman, but certainly not an average one, since he's looking for a corpse. (One trick I've learned is that if you want to make the title more effective and memorable past the first paragraph, let the reader know why it's called that in the beginning.) We also know a pig is involved, which is unusual and interesting.

So here we have a setting: the edge of a charred pier--a small description that implies a lot--a character: Nev, with a problem: he needs/wants to catch a corpse. We don't yet know his heart's desire, but it's probably something to do with corpse-catching. What I think is the best aspect of this sentence, however, is how easy it reads. It's amazing how much Hurley manages to include with 26 words and one comma, and uses the title as well.

My attempt: Sophie yearned to save the boy, yet she knew she could not; her white-tipped fingers clutched at her skirts and her toes dug into the wet sand as he toddled on toward the endless blue.

Here are my reads on the other exercises done:

disgruntledpeony wrote:
Helena Baird stalked the perimeter of Silas Ellsworth's ivy-smothered Queen Anne style Victorian house and searched for fairy-sign, Papa's antique tire iron in hand.


I like how you got a character, in a setting--someone's else's house, Victorian style, in a problem, and with a weapon in her hand. The tire iron in hand is also intriguing in that it implies that this supernatural threat can be fought with such a simple weapon.

Personally, I like better to just use a person's first name in these types of stories, since we're seeing it from their point of view, and it sounds more "immediate" to me; I think Wulf's example is different because the tone is right. Aside from that, I think that the string of adjectives for house--Silas Ellsworth's ivy-smothered Queen Anne style Victorian--is a bit much and makes it hard to read. I think it would help to take out the Queen Anne style, because it keeps it descriptive, not many people (me included) knows who or what Queen Anne was, and because it's a three word adjective, as opposed to the others that are just two.

Eagerink wrote:At two fifteen on Friday afternoon Hal Johnson picked up the office phone, paused a moment to reclaim his thoughts, and dialed the number of Demons-be-Gone scribbled on the palm of his hand.


This gets a lot of info in a short sentence. It sounds like a one paragraph sentence in a flash story, so condensed is the sentence. This is good, of course, but like I said by Liz, I feel like using a character's surname, while it gets more info into the sentence, causes the tone to sound estranged and hard to build on.

Aside from that, I don't have much to say--this is a great sentence. I liked how you used "office phone" to indicate he's in his office, although for WotF-rich-description purposes, you may want to add a little more. Also intriguing how it's scribbled in the palm of his hand. Wow, why is that?
One last thing is why he pauses for a moment before calling. The tone is made a lot less urgent by it, which makes it sound as if these types of things are regular occurrences. So if you didn't add it in purposely I would suggest leaving it out, making it much more succinct.
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