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Giants of Thessaloniki
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MetroPolly
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Joined: 29 Nov 2015
Posts: 192
Location: Oakland,CA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 11:31 pm    Post subject: Giants of Thessaloniki Reply with quote

well, you asked for it. Now, it's rough, and it's not even close to finished, and it's not scifi, but I try to honor requests. I'll do this in stages, easier and all that.



Hey,dude.
Bet you didn't expect to hear from your best friend in the known universe. How're things overseas? Meet anybody over there? JK, I know you're dedicated to your work.,whatever it is.

Anyway, I got kind of a favor. Not sure if you heard, but Trudy just got her doctorate. That's right, my kid sister has a degree already. She's working on her post doc stuff and wants some experience in the field. Since she majored in history (don't ask me how she decided on that) I thought maybe you might have an opening at your place. Last time I heard, you said the Institute is always looking for extra hands.

So, What'ya say? Wanna help your frat brother? Don't make me beg.

Ross




He paced around the station, wondering if he missed her or the train was delayed (it wouldn't be the first time around here)...


“Wade?”
He turned around and looked into the face of a lovely young lady. He stared like a dope for a minute.
“Trudy?” He hugged her tight.
“It's great to see you!”
She smiled. “For a sec, I thought you didn't recognize me.”
“Well, it's just you look so, um...”
“Grown up?”
“Kinda.” He blushed.
“Were you expecting the little twerp with braces?”
“Now I never called you-” She laughed. “I know. I just wanted to shake you up.”


He laughed too. “Well, I'm glad you made it. Congrats on the degree too.”
“That reminds me, Rosie said he owes you big time for this.”
“Aw, I don't mind helping a friend. Does he still hate being called Rosie?”
“Definitely.”
“Good.” They both laughed.


He grabbed her bags and led her to an old Jeep that had seen better decades. “Your chariot , miss.”
They took off through the city and out into the surrounding area.
“The old pile is a bit removed from civilization, to be honest”
“Any good reason?”
“Well the building was here already, and besides we have some pretty sensitive equipment in there, so it's a good idea to keep it away from the rumble of a city.”


Trudy settled into the seat and watched the scenery. “ So, what exactly do you do here, anyway?”
Wade acted surprised. “You wanted a job here, and you don't know what we do?” She poked him.
“Kidding. Yeah, it's not obvious. Mainly, I like to tell people we're support staff for real archaeologists.”
“Support? Like help digging?”
“Sometimes. Mostly, we fill in the gaps for expeditions that come out here. Saves time and money to have experts and extra hands already nearby.”
“Oh. I'm not sure what I'll be able to do here then.”
“Don't worry, they'll be something here, even if it's just working in the cleaning room.”


“Do I want to know what that is?” He smiled.
“Well, in addition to helping dig stuff up, we also do conservation and cleaning work for museums and collectors. They like to have a pro handle their stuff without shipping it halfway around the world.”
“ So, you're like a general historical society.”
“More or less. For you, it's for brownie points, for others around here, it's more of a waiting room.”


She just had to ask. “ Waiting for what?”
“For a new job mainly.” He skidded to turn into a new road. “Take Doug Hatcher.”
“He's the boss, right?”
“Well, he prefers director, but yeah. He's just here waiting for things to cool off at home.”
That got her curious. “He got in trouble or something?”
“Not directly. See, the college he was teaching at got mixed up in a cheating scandal. The board decided to clean house, and even though Doug wasn't part of it...”
“He got caught in the sweep?”
“Yup. And even being loosely connected with that kind of thing tends to follow a guy around. So, when this opening came up, he jumped for it, until the dust settles. He figures this might even get him an administative job.”
“Is he bitter about it?”
“Nah. He took it pretty well. He still has friends back in the states, and they know he's clean.”


They pulled up to a fairly plain looking cube of a building. Wade jumped out first. “Welcome to the Mediterranean Archaeological Institiute.”

He helped her out. “ I know you got a hotel room for a couple nights, but most of us find bungalows or rooms in town. I'll take you over there later.”
They approached the door and Wade buzzed them in.”You'll also need an ID card. We'll hit the security office before we leave.” She just nodded. Everything was going a bit fast.


While he was signing them in, he looked twice at the date. “Oh, no. It's the fifth.” He sighed.
“Yeah it is. So?”
“That's when we get the trade journals and find out whether our papers got accepted or not, and get comments.”
“Oh. Are you worried?”
“I didn't send one in. But I just remembered who did. If it didn't get well received, well...”
They got into the elevator. “ The real work is done on the first floor. The offices are upstairs.”


As soon as the doors opened, Wade sighed again.” Sounds like we didn't miss the fireworks.” They could hear the yelling even through a closed door and down the hall.
“ARE THEY SERIOUS?”??
“Looks like. Come on, Scott, even I thought you were kidding when I read it.”
“ ' a load of new age nonsense' Did they even LOOK at my sources?”?
“Your “sources” are a bunch of Gothic Victorian trash and ancient fiction. Nobody believes that stuff.”
“And I suppose you didn't lift a finger to support me!”
“I'm not gonna support the ridiculous,Scott. Get real.”
“Everything in there is true! I worked for nearly a YEAR on this!”
“So, you wasted your time.”


Wade knew he had to time it right.
“Why is it so hard to accept the a new idea?”
“Scott, get some actual proof, and I'd support you, but seriously...”
“They're all blind fools, including you.”
“Watch it. I'm technically your boss.”
“Only in title, and you know it. I guess it's not your fault you're just as dense as the rest of them. I'm amazed you can think at all with your head so far up your-” There was a knock on the door.


“Yeah?” The door opened and Wade put on his best innocent routine. “Morning,boss. Hope I'm not interrupting?”
Trudy had always prided herself on being a quick judge of character. From what she could tell right off, Doug Hatcher looked more like a corporate lawyer than an archaeologist. He was around 50, a bit overweight, and able to control his temper, although he looked a bit red at the moment.
Scott, however, she could tell was different. He was a bit younger, maybe pushing 40, well-built and a hair under 6 feet. With his lean face, strong jaw and deep brown, almost black eyes, Trudy thought he was more suited to teaching Shakespeare or philosophy at a private school. All in all, she thought he would be pretty good looking, if he didn't seem to be about to throw Doug out the window.

Doug relaxed almost immediately and sat down. “No, you're not interrupting anything, we were just done here, weren't we, Dr. Gilmore?” Scott glared for another second and turned to leave. “Scott?” Doug held out a manila envelope. Scott grabbed it and said. “This is FAR from over. You'll see, and so will everybody else.” He shoved Wade over and stormed out. They heard a door slam shut down the hall.

“You know, I would say that the guy's gone off the rails, but he's always been like that.”
“Aw,come on, Doug, that probably gave him a migraine, lay off.”
“Well, he gives me heartburn, so we're even.” He pulled out a bottle of antacids.” Now what can I do for you?”
“I wanted you meet the new post doc.”
“That was today? Geez.” Trudy stepped forward and smiled. “Trudy Ryan , nice to meet you, Dr. Hatcher.”
Doug smiled. “Drop the Dr. stuff unless it's a formal meeting. Nice to meet you too. Glad to have younger people around here. Let me tell you, it can get dull sometimes, but when we have a big project, we get jumping, hope you can manage.”
“I'll do my best. I'm just looking for, well, brownie points.” Wade smiled.

“Well, you'll get experience here, don't worry. Okay, Wade filled you in on security and all?”
“Yes, sir,”
“Then I'll let him handle settling you in. Welcome aboard.” They started to leave. “Wade? When you get a chance, I want to talk about this expense report for scuba gear.”
“Doug, the dive is tomorrow! What's the problem?
“Do you really need the extra gear?”
“Oh, no! I can just hold my breath for 6 hours.” Trudy tried not to laugh. Doug shook his head.
“Ok,ok. Exit laughing.”


“Well, that was interesting.” said Trudy as they left. Wade patted her on the back.
“You did fine,but don't let him fool you. Doug can be tough. He's never met an issue he wouldn't argue.”
“A real skeptic,huh?”
“The man was born to question everything.”

They passed one door and heard dull thuds. Trudy glanced at Wade. “Scott keeps a punching bag in his office.”
“Oh.”
“Could be worse. I hear he used to be into archery.” The elevator opened down the hall and a thin,weedy character hustled out carrying a computer bag and a backpack.
“Morning, Albie.” The young man stopped and smiled. “Hi, Wade. Think Doug knows I'm late?”
“Doubt it matters. By the way, this is our new hire. Trudy, Albie Fenton; our geek of all trades.” Albie grinned.
“Funny. I do have a degree in astronomy, bub.”
“ I wondered what you did here.” Trudy smiled and shook hands. “ If you need anything technical fixed, Albie's your man.” Trudy nodded. “I'll keep that in mind. Nice to meet you.”
Albie started to go down the hall when Wade called out. “Oh, Albie? Word of warning; there's been an eruption of Mt. Gilmore.” Albie turned.

“How come?”
“It's the fifth.”
“Ooh. Any serious threats?”
“ I managed to stick my head in before it got too ugly. But he's still boiling.”
“Ok, thanks for the heads up. I'll tread lightly.” He took a deep breath and opened the door.
Trudy looked confused.
“Scott and Albie share an office.”
She got concerned.” Maybe he should steer clear for a while.” Wade shrugged.
“Don't worry. For some reason, Scott has a soft spot fot Albie.”


They could hear the conversation as the door closed...

“Why do I have to deal with a pack of bozos who barely graduated high school?”??
Albie sighed. “Well, we can't all be brilliant,Scott.”
“Brilliant? Hell, I'd settle for literate!” the door shut quietly.



“Well, I sure can't say it's boring.” Trudy smiled as Wade led her to an office.
“No, we got quite a staff here all right.” He turned red. “Um. You may have to share my office, if that's okay.” She laughed.
“Works for me. I'll be close to a friend.”

They settled out her things and started making room. “Wade, about that Scott guy?”
“Yeah?”
“Is he, you know, okay?”
“You mean, is he bonkers? Hard to tell. When a smart guy is nuts, they call it eccentric.”
“So, he's smart?”
“Understatement. I hate to admit it, but Scott Gilmore is one of, I'd say, the top 5 experts on ancient writing in the world.”
“Really?”
“Yep. You give a cuneiform tablet or something, and he'll have it translated inside of 3 minutes.”

“Wow.”
Wade shook his head. “Yeah, he's a certified genius. But he's also a certified grouch. The only reason Doug puts up with him is that he gives this place a sense of prestige.”
“If he's so amazing, what's he doing here?”

Wade sat down. “His personality, that's why. I don't know all the details, but he got in trouble because he treated his grad students like a personal wait staff.” Trudy flopped down on the couch next to him.
“ What, like running errands? That's not so bad; I had to get lunch sometimes for my teacher.”
“Yeah, he went way past getting lunch. The last straw, I hear, was telling his students to paint his house.”
“Oh.”
“When they refused, he said he'd throw their thesis papers in a shredder.”
“Ouch.”

“Yeah. That kind of did it. He got hauled up for that. It's not illegal, but it's kind of unethical. I understand that in defense, he said that shredder threat was a joke.”
“Some joke.”
“ The board at the hearing didn't think it was funny either. He got kicked out pretty quick.”
“He couldn't find a job anywhere else?”
“Nope. You'd think with his skills, any university would beat a path to him, but his attitude keeps them off. Worst of it is, he doesn't seem to care. He blames everybody else for not understanding him.”
“So, he's stuck here.”
“Pretty much.”
“Is he always that... sore?”
“Actually, no. On a good day, he's just glacial, keeps to himself. On a bad day, well, you saw what that looks like.”
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very good!
Conversations were easy to follow, well constructed and gave a lot of information to the reader about who these characters were and their motivations.

Also, your formatting was excellent. It made it very readable. Now I'm really interested in seeing how this unfolds.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

I'm afraid I can't agree with Gord about the formatting. You're still not doing it correctly.

You've got large blocks of text bunched up together, separated by spaces that are three and four line breaks wide (with one space that's 14 spaces wide! Shocked)

Let me say it again. Hit Enter twice to start a new paragraph, so that there's ONE blank line between each paragraph. In other words, two line breaks between each paragraph “ no more, no less “ with each change-in-speaker treated as a NEW paragraph.

Like this.
____________________________________

He paced around the station, wondering if he missed her or the train was delayed (it wouldn't be the first time around here).

“Wade?”

He turned around and looked into the face of a lovely young lady. He stared like a dope for a minute.

“Trudy?” He hugged her tight.

“It's great to see you!”

She smiled. “For a sec, I thought you didn't recognize me.”

“Well, it's just that you look so, um...”

“Grown up?”

“Kinda.” He blushed.

“Were you expecting the little twerp with braces?”

“Now I never called you-” She laughed.

“I know. I just wanted to shake you up.”

He laughed too. “Well, I'm glad you made it. Congrats on the degree too.”

“That reminds me, Rosie said he owes you big time for this.”

“Aw, I don't mind helping a friend. Does he still hate being called Rosie?”

“Definitely.”

“Good.” They both laughed.
__________________________________________

The scene would benefit greatly from the addition of some descriptions about what's happening other than just what the characters say. Good writers paint word pictures for the reader, so they can clearly imagine what's happening.

Here's what I mean.
__________________________________________

He paced around the station, wondering if he missed her or the train was delayed. It wouldn't be the first time around here.

“Wade?”

He turned around and looked into the face of a lovely young lady. He stared like a dope for several seconds, then he rushed forward and wrapped his arms around her. The fragrance of her along auburn hair brought forth a rush of memories and emotions. When he pulled back and looked down at her face, he put one hand on her soft cheek and cupped it gently.

Finally he managed to speak, his voice barely a whisper. “Trudy . . . It's great to see you.”

She smiled. “For a sec, I thought you didn't recognize me.”

“Well, it's just that you look so, ummm . . . “ He fumbled for the words, but she saved him from saying the wrong thing.

“Grown up?”

“Kinda.”

“Were you expecting the little twerp with braces?” The smile she gave him was certainly not that of a little girl. He felt his face grow warm, and he knew he was blushing like a schoolboy.

“Now, hold on. I never called you “ “

She laughed. “I know. I just wanted to shake you up.”

He laughed too. “Well, I'm glad you made it. Congrats on the degree, too.” He saw her pride light up her lovely green eyes, and she looked down for moment in a shy way.

When she looked back up him, she said, “That reminds me, Rosie said he owes you big time for this.”

“Aw, I don't mind helping a friend. Does he still hate being called Rosie?”

“Definitely.”

“Good.” They both laughed.
_______________________________________

I used to tell my students to "write in HD". In other words, bring the scenes into sharp focus for the reader by adding the sensory details they would be experiencing themselves if they were in the story “ all the sights, sounds, fragrances, and tactile sensations.

I hope this helps.

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Last edited by Bud Brewster on Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, the formatting needs work, but that's in the polishing and re-editing phase. She said it was rough and it is, but it's still in an early draft stage.

I was looking at her clarity of context and flow of conversation-----and that is good for this draft.

Your beefing up the background was a good point, and Polly should look at that as she shines up and embellishes her story.

All and all I found the story compelling, interesting and worthy of continuing.

I think that large line break may have been meant to be a chapter break, although it was not designated so.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

I'm going to be blunt, for Polly's sake. If she really wants to improve her writing, she needs to learn how to take constructive criticism the way I did while getting my own novels ready for publication.

As always, you are kind and supportive, Gord, but if Polly wants her work to be viewed and commented on, she needs to master the simple task of making it LOOK right on All Sci-Fi so that we know who's speaking during a conversation.

Her attempts at formatting the text are far from correct, and they don't even make it clear which character is speaking each line! Add to this the fact that we should not have to struggle through large blocks of text which are clustered tightly together and aren't pleasant to read, when the author is supposed to know how to format the manuscript in the proper manner.

This is not a hard thing for a writer to do, and I'm puzzled as to why she continues to post versions of her work that ignore the basic rules of writing.

Forgiven me, Polly, but this isn't rocket science. Please use line breaks (instead of tabs indents on ASF) to show when new paragraphs begin, and to make it clear when different characters are speaking.

You can go back to your earlier posts and fix them. I would if I were you. This is writing 101, and I'm sorry to say this, but you haven't really mastered it yet.

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orzel-w
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Polly might be composing her story in a word processor rather than a text editor. If so, the word processor would format the text with additional space before and/or after each hard return, indented first lines, etc. On the computer screen this would appear as you (Bud) have prescribed. But when the text is copied/pasted to the board, it would revert to simple text and that formatting would disappear.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

I hope I'm not discouraging Polly. I'm honored that she's posting her work on All Sci-Fi and inviting us to offer helpful suggestions to improve her work.

Job #1 is, of course, to fix the flawed formatting so that her story is easy to read, not difficult and confusing. I too copy the Word documents of my novels to All Sci-Fi posts, and in the composition window the text still shows all the tab indentations!

But when I hit the Preview or Submit buttons, the tabs don't display. It's just the way the software is written. So, I simply place an extra line break between each paragraph, to prevent the dreaded "unbroken wall of text" that any basic writing class teaches the students NOT to do.

I'm puzzled by the fact that Polly doesn't fix her submitted posts when she sees what they actually look like when she previews them. She's mentioned that she uses a laptop (as opposed to a smartphone), so they must look the same to her as they do to us.

I sincerely hope that our suggestions will help her improve her writing. We all respect and admire her, and I know she wants us to be frank and honest.

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MetroPolly
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2016 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

okay, a few things. First, thank you gord, for your kind comments, at least you understand that this is just me messing around.

Second, that huge break isn't a chapter break, it's a page break. I use Open Office, maybe that program doesn't transfer so well on this site, but it does fine elsewhere.

Lastly, bud, I appreciate that you're a professional writer and I welcome any comments about my story, but NOT ABOUT MY FORMATTING!!!

I don't care in the slightest about the damn formatting! I care about the story. Furthermore, I'm not looking to get published any time soon, and even if I did, that's what an editor is for. Sakes.... Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MetroPolly wrote:
I don't care in the slightest about the damn formatting! I care about the story. Furthermore, I'm not looking to get published any time soon, and even if I did, that's what an editor is for. Sakes.... Rolling Eyes

I'm afraid you've got the wrong idea about what a copy editor does. He suggests small corrections and alternate versions in a well formatted manuscript. But if the work isn't 90% correct when he first looks at it, he'll just reject it altogether.

Or if you're paying somebody to do it, they'll charge an amount which is determined by how much work they have to do to fix it. My two novels cost me about $1,800 each to have them professional edited — and they took three weeks apiece.

But more to the point, correct formatting aids the reader in understanding the story, and incorrect formatting causes the reader to be unclear about things like who is actually speaking each line.

I had trouble several times just figuring who was talking in your story. With the line breaks I added, it's clear. Isn't THAT important to the story?

Every time you make an error, the reader sees it and his attention is pulled away from the narrative for an instant while he figures what you meant to say.

A story that doesn't read smoothly is less effective than one which flows along well. And it's just plain hard to read a story with all the text jammed up together. If you "care about the story", you should care about all aspects of it, such as capitalization, punctuation, and yes . . . paragraph separation. They all work together to make the narrative intelligent and interesting.

Isn't THAT important to the story?

If you'd take a little time to format your work correctly so that it's easier (and more enjoyable) to read, I'm sure more members would read it and offer their encouragement. Very Happy

Just out of curiosity, do you hit "preview" to see how the text looks after pasting it into the post, or do you just hit "submit" and never give it a glance?

I hate to say it, but that's what it seems like you're doing. Sad

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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keep in mind, Polly, that what Bud is saying is that you have to master your "tools" to support your story.

You wouldn't try to use power tools to build a house without reading and understanding the instruction books!

The same is true about writing. I've loaded stories that are finely formatted in WORD and look totally different in RICH TEXT and WORDPAD. I've had to go back and redo all the paragraph breaks and more.

Using the proper format makes the writing more readable and gives you an opportunity to edit yourself. I don't think I've ever written something that to this day I wouldn't want to rewrite to some extent.

I stand by my opinion that your story is good and shows promise. The dialogue is realistic but the enhancements Bud pointed out will only make it better.

Take it to heart and show us all what you can do. I see great potential here!

Gord
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

________________________________

Damn, I couldn't have put that better myself, Gord!

And it was well formatted, too! Very Happy

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MetroPolly
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you know what? I give up. I write for FUN, not for any other reason. Now, if I was interested in being published, or even if I was handing in a school assignment, I would probably take all your advice to heart.

But I'm not.


So, if it's okay with you guys, I'm just gonna quit the whole thing. I just wanted to know what other people thought of my story idea, plain and simple.
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear that.

There's a lot of talent and enthusiasm there that will be missed.

If we sounded like "Good Cop--Bad Cop" it was only because we want to see the potential you have come to the fore.
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MetroPolly
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

look, it's not that I can't take criticism, it's just I don't get why you guys are focusing on stuff that doesn't really matter since I'm not publishing this.

Thanks for thinking I have potential, but I never know how to finish.

Maybe I can just give you a synopsis, and avoid the wrath of the English teacher. Confused
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know you're focusing on the essence of the story....and that appeals to me greatly, and I can see where you're coming from. But I can see beyond that ....that there is a rare story-telling talent that COULD be developed.

Whether it's for yourself or for sharing, it's worth developing. Look at my story below and compare it to yours and tell me what you think. It was a story that just told itself to me as I wrote it.

There are some stories that just HAVE to be told because they just want to tell themselves. In any form, synopsis or full blown ----They just are compelling.
I'll be gentle, so do your thing.
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