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How the heck do you do that? Advice wanted on plotting epics

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by furrylittlebantha, Jan 25, 2007.

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  1. furrylittlebantha

    furrylittlebantha Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 2, 2005
    It's called vignettitis: you get so comfortable with a four-pager that any scenario you think of automatically works out to 2,000 words, kind of like an internal alarm clock. What if you want to start waking up at five instead of seven? Here's what happens: your plot implodes on page five. Everyone who's ever written an epic and finished it, or is going to finish it...

    HOW?

    I've read some general stuff about writing. Orson Scott Card wrote a good book about it. What I need, however, are some nuts and bolts of getting from grandiose idea to actual islands of plot points: this, this and this need to happen, and they need to happen beforethis happens.

    Also, character development: so I can tell you how he likes his bruallki cooked.
    But how do I know how his subconscious will force him to respond in tramautic situations where blind instinct takes over? What does he dream, and why? How do I know if he cries, and when? If I don't know my OCs deeper than survey-level, how can there be any real story at all?

    The main thing is middles. I'm okay at starting stories, and I love putting together the smashbang endings, but I never know what to put in that inconvenient part--commmonly known as most of the dang book. How do you write the "building up" parts without slowing the momentum down?

    Scenes and pacings: my scenes are always too short, they end up being dialogue punctuated by random "he sighed heavily" or "a long silence fell" or "he smiled wryly." How do you add sensory detail without it sounding forced? Another problem with my scenes is that they seem choppy; the motion of my stories would make a sailor sick.

    *sigh* [face_praying] Mucho gracias for any advice!
     
  2. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999
    The biggest difference is that you aren't going to be able to talk simple plots like vigs use and expand that into an epic. It just won't work.

    Is there something you want to write about? If you don't have a more complex story idea to begin with, the rest doesn't matter.
     
  3. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Having never posted an epic, but having an as-yet not-quite finished one on my disk drive, I think that you approach an epic differently.

    Often a viggie starts with a central scene for me. The epic is something that I have outlined. The scenes fill in as the outline is completed. I haven't posted any chapters for this monster story yet because I may need to go back to an earlier chapter and insert something that will foreshadow a later event.

    It's a trick keeping the reader interested in what you are going to post next. I have the ending in mind, and I try to work each character toward that anticipated ending.

    Helpful??
     
  4. DARTH_MU

    DARTH_MU Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2005
    I find it useful to have an outline.
    for example:
    character XYZ wants to kill ABC.
    how does he do it? maybe hire a bounty hunter.
    but bounty hunter costs money.
    and where to find the bounty hunter?
    how much does he need to do the job?

    now I write a sentence in one file of word. and proceed to write one chapter.

    so basically write it within a frame of a situation. (a la Stephen King). (A simple phrase like "The House is haunted") gets you the shining. etc.

    Basically a sentence like character XYZ wants to kill ABC gets you four chapters.

    then...
    first attempt fails. Why did it fail?
    Did XYZ survive? did ABC survive? will someone else want to kill ABC?
    the possibility are endless...
    heehe

    keep writing.
    do not stop until you are at half of an epic in length.
    now there's your first draft. (do not post or publish)
    take a break for six months or so.
    then read first draft.

    then add details and delete unnecessary or conflicting parts.
    or maybe even...
    sob pitifully in face of the futility of it all. [face_beatup]

    Nota Bene.
    Do NOT under any circumstances stop during the process of writing an epic.'s first draft.
    or you might never pick it up again.
     
  5. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    One word - outline.

    I think you need to think about the beginning and where you want to go in the end. What themes do you want to cover- love, revenge, comedy, drama? What characters will be central to the plot and what ones can you throw away (aka, kill off)?

    I've only written one epic and it's approaching 270 pages. I have an extensive outline of the plot points I want for each chapter plus snippets of dialogue. I also have a second file for the characters - traits such as skin, hair, eyes, lightsaber color, species, etc. Plus a timeline. Believe me, you can get really tripped up with timelines if you don't know who is doing what when. Readers pick up on that kind of stuff.

    The outline is also where you put in all those little things that will add up to the rousing climax. You might put in markers for those places where you want more drama or action.

    But the outline will also show you your weak points in the plot. If you need X to kill Y, you need a reason and one that works for that character.


    That being said, I know people who have written epics and know the beginning and the ending and nothing in between when they start.


    One more thing. I started publishing my epic when I'd finished about 50 pages. If I had waited to start posting until I had more done, it would never get finished because I would have given up. I much prefer vignettes or very short stories and an epic seems overwhelming at times. Take it in small doses and you will be fine.

    Good luck!
     
  6. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999

    That's how my stories have usually worked. If you know where you want to start and where you want to end up, the middle should take care of itself.

    I'm not saying that it's easy, however. Unlike a vig, in an epic you'll have time to really develop a character, which is a good thing but there are plenty of hurdles to overcome. It's these developments that'll help you get the hero from beginning to end - provided there's a rational plot, which is where a good outline helps.

    A cute contrivance can work in a vig where it's a single issue and a reader might overlook it, but if you start stringing together one contrived plot twist after another, you'll probably lose readers. They'll figure that if the plot doesn't follow a logical progression, then the write has no idea what he/she is doing and is just winging it (this rule doesn't necessarily hold for comedy pieces).

     
  7. rebel_cheese

    rebel_cheese Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2006
    The middle is always the hardest part for me too, discounting the 'finding the actual time to write epics'.

    My advice: make sure you know exactly how to start, how it ends, and then concentrate on EXACTLY how you want it to go and how to get there. And make sure you have time for an extended story, for you have to reply, send PMs out, etc. You can get swamped if you're not careful.

    It's a lesson I should've known . . .
     
  8. Luna_Nightshade

    Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Epic writing shows off my weird personality best.

    I make a valiant effort at outlining everything prior to writing. I try to be technical, well-organized, and methodical about it.

    However--it never works out as I plan. My spontaneity jumps into overdrive once I get into that "writing trance" and my outline is doomed to a sad life in the back of one of my file drawers.

    So... here is my advice, which may be a little offbeat so take it at face value.

    My advice is to start out with an outline, but to know that the best themes, character development, and so forth are felt rather than known. The emotion of a scene is always paramount--what do you want a reader to feel? How do you want them to see things? What statement about life are you trying to make? (And let's face it--we're all trying to make a statement, even if it is nothing more than good triumphing over evil...which isn't a bad statement at all.)

    I agree, very much, with the "knowing the beginning and the end scenes" only. I took that to the extreme with one of my stories--I literally only knew the last scene. That is all. I imagined the depth of emotion that scene could evoke... so I had to take gradual steps to get there. The emotion had to be built. The reactions had to be logical. Things had to take a sequential order to make the emotion I imagined in that single scene. I constructed those scenes based solely on emotion, thinking of the steps that had to be taken to reach a particular point. It was not unlike a math equation, I suppose, but I never knew what the next variable was going to be.

    For me, not limiting myself is the only way I can write anything. Maybe there is a rebel in me after all...

    So my advice for you is to not try to plan your characters out so much, but to know them. I know that sounds like you should be planning them out to the tiniest detail, but what fun is that? Go in there with the basics--a quirk, a personality, a purpose--and then let them react to situations based on that and the emotion you think they'd be evoking in that situation.

    Maybe I'm weird, but I like to roll with things when I write. Perhaps if you just relax, you'll find your epic writing muse in short order. :D
     
  9. jmsbndgrl

    jmsbndgrl Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 31, 2004
    I just finished a 487 page epic and started its sequel which is going to be another long one.

    Mine sort of took on a life of its own. It was supposed to be a long story to begin with, but I never envisioned it would take 487 pages to finish. I had to realize early on that I could not set a page limit on it, I just had to make sure I was telling the story.

    My epic started with a concept. I got an idea for a fic and then spent several weeks figuring out how to make it work and then writing a rough outline for the story. I usually write my outlines so that I have a beginning and end point, and a listing of the major events that happen in the middle. For me that outline never stays intact because as I move along in a story I'll find a better way to portray something or decide to change my initial plan. Actually for the last fic I wrote I had 3 possible ending I could have chosen. I wrote them all down in my outline so I knew where my story could go.

    I know some people like to freewrite without being tied down to an ending, but I like having a list of endings. It gives me a direction to take the story. I find that most helpful when I am between major plot points and need motivation to continue. I don't outline the character development or detail portions of the story, I let my plot drive my characters so that is more of a spur of the moment thing for me, but I don't like to set character development in the outline because I feel I would have a tendency to rush that change too fast when a slower progression is needed. However, that does depend on your character and what is happening to him/her. Slow and long is not necessarily good in an epic. If your story is moving too slowly, it could bore both you (the writer) and the reader. So when possble, you want to integrate character development into the plot so that the story does not hang because you are trying to setup a character, but continues to move forward. This can be difficult.

    To give you a sense of what I've outlined for the sequel to my epic (without giving anything away), I have done the following:

    More on outlining: I have had things that I initially planned to write in 1 chapter, but when I get started I find that breaking it down to 2 or 3 chapters is better for emphasizing main concepts and points, but that becomes a style thing based on how you write.

    You are going to be in for the long haul with an epic, there will be good days and bad days. There will be days when you just want to end it because you are frustrated with it. You just need to be patient. I can write vignettes to anywhere from an hour to a few days depending on the content, but that most definitly won't be the case with an epic. My last epic took me 1 year and 2 months to write and the sequel will take me longer because real life is keeping me busy. That is daunting, but that is why outlining is essential to give you something to reference as you go.

    I started posting my epics when I was a chapter into it. My chapters are fairly short because I break them on main concepts, so they average 5-6 pages (a style thing for me). Some people like to be further ahead in their epic before posting. Personally, I'm impatient and like to post, but there is a downside to that. I do go back, reread, and tweak chapters all the time. So I might have posted a chapter long ago, but if you read it now it is altered to some degree.

    So in summary, I agree with the people above me who say outlining is essential. However, do not constrain yourself by sticking to that outline, if you feel your story is moving elsewhere then let it flow in that direction. You also need to be patient. Do not rush an epic, but don't let your story stall by over-describing things. You need to find a median between those two.
     
  10. 1Yodimus_Prime

    1Yodimus_Prime Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 13, 2004
    What everyone's saying here should be extremely helpful and sufficient in getting you started, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents anyway, for the sake of pure diabolical confusion.

    Coming from a filmic and animationey background, I have two approaches to epic writing which are probably a lot different from the ones talked about above me, but also very similar.

    The first one parallels the outline: the Formula. I derived this from Hero With a Thousand Faces. Basically, look at any major work you're about to do the way you might look at a film (films tend to be 2 hours long, 2 hours is 120 minutes @ 1 page a minute, makes 120 page script = close enough). Films are set up in three acts: Act one starts somewhere familiar, Act 2 brings us somewhere unfamiliar, Act 3 brings us back full circle. ('somewhere' can be taken as metaphorically as you wish) Then break it down even further. There are always important dramatic moments that occur throughout the Acts: moment of revelation, moment of letting go, moment of dispair, moment of understanding, moment of triumph, etc. Cut those into the outline. Now for the archetypes. You've got your full, well-rounded, broke-the-mold characters that you hold dear, sure. But they need support from minor characters or nothing will happen. The shape shifter, the mentor, the trickster, the herald, the rogue, and so on...these are the people that keep the story alive. Look at them as engines - they keep the plot moving once it gets going. Now break each Act into scenes. Treat each scene like a vignette - it should have a beginning, middle, end, and result in something having changed. The only difference is that the change should bring you into the next scene, rather than ending the story.
    Now add content. It's like paint-by-numbers for literature.

    The other way is very much inspired by the way I animate: learn a character. Just...learn him, her, it. Learn who they are, what they do, why, Understand them as completely as possible. Know why his cheek does that twitchy thing when he frowns, how many pairs of shoes he's owned in his lifetime. Become their best friggin friend. Until you couldn't imagine a day when you didn't know that character. Until the only thing separating the character from reality is a physical body.

    Now write.

    That's it. Don't plan. Don't think about plot or storyline or themes or beginning or ending or climax or anything. Just make the character move.
    They'll do all the rest, swear to God.
     
  11. leia_naberrie

    leia_naberrie Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2002
    There's a thread on long stories on these boards, perhaps not epics per se, but still quite useful.




    [link=http://boards.theforce.net/Fan_Fiction_Resource/b10304/16669485/?846]It's a loooong story thread V1[/link]

    [link=http://boards.theforce.net/a/b1/20340541/]It's a loooong story thread V2.[/link]
     
  12. ROTSFan

    ROTSFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 25, 2006
    I admire a lot of people on these boards; they're really dedicated to writing stories and it shows!

    I agree, very much, with the "knowing the beginning and the end scenes" only. I took that to the extreme with one of my stories--I literally only knew the last scene. That is all. I imagined the depth of emotion that scene could evoke... so I had to take gradual steps to get there. The emotion had to be built. The reactions had to be logical. Things had to take a sequential order to make the emotion I imagined in that single scene. I constructed those scenes based solely on emotion, thinking of the steps that had to be taken to reach a particular point. It was not unlike a math equation, I suppose, but I never knew what the next variable was going to be.

    You're very wise, Luna. I always felt that way but never put it that eloquently. Teachers in college always talk about detailed outlines and everything and I used to feel guilty that I didn't use them. I would just sit down and write my final paper, then 3 hours later or so I'd be done. I would go back over 3x for revisions, but making specific outlines just seemed to confuse me more than just flowing with it. I guess everyone has a method that works best for them. While I never really agree with making outlines, sometimes it's really helpful to jot down major plot points or emotions for each section before they're forgotten. But really, writing with the flow has evoked valuable things that would otherwise have not arisen in an outline. Sometimes the course a paper I write takes surprises even me :D
     
  13. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    I use my thesaurus a lot. There are many words for said and they all have slightly different meanings. Now, I love description so I tend to go overboard with it but there are many on the boards who have the right balance. I think you need to go beyond the everyday "smiling wryly" and give it a little bit more thought. Is it wry or ironic or unhappy or painful? Is his smile hiding something beneath - think Palpatine with his enigmatic smile? Think about what you are saying. If nothing else, read it aloud and listen to the sounds. Try and make them flow - use similar sounding words to give it more emphasis. There's nothing like a lot of hard d's and s's to sound harsh and kind of scary or words with l's so make it sound more soothing.


    As for choppy, perhaps you are trying to get to the end too fast? I have read stories where the scenes change abruptly when there should have been a flow to them. Even a transitional sentence change here or there can make a world of difference.


    Oh, and on the epic part. You should pay attention to how fast you are writing. If you are fast, it may be less of a problem with outlines and thinking about the meat of the story since as you write, you will remember what you wrote in the chapters already. I am a very, very slow writer so I need prompts to remember what I wrote a year ago or two. Just a thought.
     
  14. TKeira_Lea

    TKeira_Lea Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Oct 10, 2002
    HOW?

    Vignettes and epics are similar in that they both have a beginning, middle and end. The difference comes in how and where they take place. Ultimately the epic requires much more time to develop those elements and they won't occur within the same scene, but rather a whole set of scenes for each part - beginning, middle, and end.

    I've read some general stuff about writing. Orson Scott Card wrote a good book about it. What I need, however, are some nuts and bolts of getting from grandiose idea to actual islands of plot points: this, this and this need to happen, and they need to happen beforethis happens.

    Diane said it best - outline. To supplement that I like to run plots in my head. I can see where things work and where they don't.

    Also, character development: so I can tell you how he likes his bruallki cooked.
    But how do I know how his subconscious will force him to respond in tramautic situations where blind instinct takes over? What does he dream, and why? How do I know if he cries, and when? If I don't know my OCs deeper than survey-level, how can there be any real story at all?


    You've got to have a pretty sharp sense of the characters in an epic. Some you discover along the way, but the trick is to keep the characterization consistent. For that reason I establish character profiles - and then backcheck to them often to make sure I haven't thrown a new and opposing trait in out of nowhere. Also epics show more of a character's life and can reveal life altering events. Be mindful of those as well.

    Scenes and pacings: my scenes are always too short, they end up being dialogue punctuated by random "he sighed heavily" or "a long silence fell" or "he smiled wryly." How do you add sensory detail without it sounding forced? Another problem with my scenes is that they seem choppy; the motion of my stories would make a sailor sick.

    Pacing is the key. Some of the reasons you need to outline is to define POV and pacing. POV determines how the readers and even other characters perceive a scene. Take for instance in profic, we haven't seen Jag Fel's POV in several books. We honestly don't know what he's really thinking. Using this "hide the real truth" technique can be a powerful tool in the epic form, especially when your ending needs an element of surprise. At the same time, pacing scenes helps the flow. Generally near the middle, the conflict scenes will need quick pace to build the suspense.

     
  15. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    This is very basic advice from Matt Stover.

    Love your idea enough to write about it. You'll spend hours developing plots, characters, more hours proofreading and tweaking little bits of dialogue. If the story idea doesn't excite you enough to obsess over it for months, you won't have the drive to finish it - especially if you're easily distracted by other story ideas or shiny objects.

    Think of the readers, too. If this boils down to a soul-sucking process, and not in the good "My Muse controls me, I gave sweat/blood/tears to this magnificent work" way, it'll show in your writing, in your responses to readers, and may contribute even more to Darth Writers Block.

    In short, the epic shouldn't make you feel like you're writing a 30-page term paper for a class you hate and a professor you loathe. :D
     
  16. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2004
    I usually know WHERE I'm going when I put up the first post. But other than that, I'm sort of a "figure it out as I go!" type of writer. Sometimes the characters take me to places I hadn't planned. Really, there are times I've hated to do something in a story, but it simply becomes clear as the story goes on that it HAS to happen. No arguing with the muse. It tends to make her very cranky.

    But each writer has their own method. The few times I've tried to do an outline it failed miserably. So now I write in the way that I'm comfortable. Which is full speed ahead and damn the torpedos! :D
     
  17. DARTH_MU

    DARTH_MU Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2005
    another way is to give in to your anger.
    Only your hatred can complete an epic.
    strike DRL down and your path toward the epic writing process will be complete!

    either that or hire someone to ask you daily:
    Have you written 500 words for your epic today?
     
  18. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Another thing that helps me a lot is determining the characterization at the beginning and end of the story for each of your principal players. This allows you to know a few things about how far you have to push that character or what has to rein them in.
     
  19. VaderLVR64

    VaderLVR64 Manager Emeritus star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2004
    I make it a point to write every day. Some it will never get posted, but I've written. I make writing as much a priority as I do other important things in my life, like taking time to be with my husband, working out, and then WRITING! :D
     
  20. 92SE-R

    92SE-R Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 15, 2005
    That's pretty much the way that I write! [face_laugh]
     
  21. Jade_Pilot

    Jade_Pilot Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 10, 2005
    An outline! *smacks forehead with lightsaber handle*

    You guys are the best!
     
  22. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999
    While an outline is a great tool for mapping out a long fic, you should not be constrained by it.

    I'm sure there are many who have written epic fics who will agree that during the process of writing, the story and characters went in a complete opposite direction from where they were supposed to go.

    Don't be afraid to change your plans when the story takes on a life of its own.
     
  23. divapilot

    divapilot Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 30, 2005

    The writing book that I'm reading now actually recommends writing a diary from the characters' points of view, esp. the protagonist and the antagonist. I've also heard of people who write pivotal scenes with various characters' POVs.

    This makes a lot of sense. You should know these characters intimately. Their behavior and responses to situations should be consistent for their character.

    (Remember that you have permission to write a crappy first draft. You can (and should) always revise, but you can't do anything without some kind of first draft!)
     
  24. jmsbndgrl

    jmsbndgrl Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 31, 2004
    So true, my intial plan and what actually ends up getting written never equal each other. The story evolves as I write it.

    However, no matter what I do like starting with an outline because it does give you a focal point and some direction even if I stray from it.
     
  25. furrylittlebantha

    furrylittlebantha Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 2, 2005
    First off, a BIG thank you to everyone for their thoughtful advice! I've been busy since I logged on tonight copying info from here and pasting it into Microsoft Word. *rubs hands gleefully* This was exactly what I was looking for. Bottom line: an epic will occupy my spare time and I'll know it better than myself and planning is good, even essential, but be prepared to be flexible. And committed.

    Sounds like I'm marrying the thing!!

    Herman Snerd: I do have a complex idea, at least compared to a vig plot, but I'm not sure if it's complex enough. We'll see.
    Where's the line between contrived plots and merely complicated ones? Sometimes I have a hard time telling. You don't want it to be overly simple, but when does that last twist become too twisty?

    Divapilot: Yes, very helpful! I see what you mean about foreshadowing. I guess that means don't post until it's all done? I'll keep in mind the part about developing characters toward an ending. Geez, did that person who wrote the book have a life? *sighs wistfully* For that matter, do I? Don't answer that. :) Writing a diary from the POV of each major character would be perfect, but I don't even have the time to write the story. Maybe just the main three...

    DARTH_MU: That's interesting. So the way you do it is take it as it goes, and let scenes build on each other? I've heard that sticking with that first draft till it's done is muy importante. Six months seems like a long time, but then again, it might take that long to recover! Hopefully no sobbing will be involved. Hmm, the 500 word idea is good. I'll enlist sister dear, maybe.

    dianethx: Do you have an extensive outline for these disposable characters as well? I like the markers in the outline idea for drama or action. Kind of like writing a vig: you know you want x to happen, and the filler stuff just fills in the outline. I'll be thrilled beyond belief if I ever actually write a continuous story that gets to 50 pages! I need to get a thesaurus, I guess. I rely on Microsoft Word too much, and its selection is bland at best. Neat trick, using letter sounds to evoke emotion. I'll have to try that. Am I trying to get to the end too fast? Probably. I like endings! They're cool! So: pace scenes slow enough, and write the whole story fast enough. Got it. Thanks!

    rebel_cheese: Cool username, BTW. Good to know that someone else struggles with those middles! Point taken about time. I really don't have any. My plan is to work on this thing, slowly, until I graduate, then write and post like a dervish in the summer.

    Luna_Nightshade:Poor outlines! I wish them better luck in a future life. You're right about making statements; I hadn't thought about it that way before. *ponders* Now, how overt is too overt? I guess it's a balance between no idea and an actual sermon. Math equation--more like a math proof! For some reason, your philosophy on building characters strikes me as really, really sound. You don't get to know people in real life by getting their entire life story and psyches, you get to know them. To me, it seems they'd be more real this way.

    jmsbndgrl: 487 pages?? I guess you'd be the one to ask. :) So having a roughish outline's okay? That's a relief. I've spent a couple weeks on hammering out general points, and I'd really like to start without feeling like I plunging into a scary morass of carnivorous unplottedness that would eat me very shortly. The vast difference between viggie and epics was very enlightening of you to point out. My question is this: in a year, are you even the same writer? What if you've changed too much to be able to continue? Thanks so much; all the specific stuff was great!

    1Yodimus_Prime: Again, the plethora of specifics is heaven sent! I've rolled the Hero's Journey around for the past week, and it actually helped me set up the conflict and character roles. I have a hard time finding the balance between formulaic and structureless, however. Maybe it just comes with practice. I'll do my best to learn my character
     
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