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skadder
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Post your 13 lines here...
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shimiqua
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Carol stood on the hillside next to the Reaper. She watched the beast hunt her husband.
“Is there no other way?” She asked to her ghastly companion. The reaper’s black hooded cloak turned towards her. He answered her question with the agonizing pain of the car crash that caused her death.
“So, that’s a no then.” Carol said wincing. The reaper turned back to watch the carnage.
She heard a dog barking in the distance. Branches broke in a line headed towards the house she and her husband had honeymooned in. The house her husband would be tortured in. The house she would briefly be reunited with her beloved husband before separated to do the work of the damned.


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skadder
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The bear’s head was missing. Peter glanced about the lake shore, but it was gone. He leaned over the bear's remians to look at the wound. It looked like a single clean cut had severed the head.
What could do that to a grizzly? People don't hunt with swords. He shook his head--it didn't make sense.
He leaned back against a boulder and pulled out a quarter bottle of scotch from his pocket. Bingo, his Labrador was tentatively sniffing the dead bear. As Peter lifted the scotch to his lips he stopped; there was a single large depression in the soft mud by the lake’s edge. It looked like a track, but nothing he knew could have made a track so lar—
There was a sharp crack, like a stick snapping, from the forest and Peter spun round, his heart hammering in his chest.

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Bent Tree
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The gentle lake breeze did little to ease Peter's nausea. Carol had loved it here; what would she say if she could see me like this? No amount of squinting was preventing the glaring reflection off the water from searing straight into his throbbing head. He reconsidered this walk his four-legged companion had convinced him to go on as the beagle darted off down the beach--nose to the ground and tail wagging.
"Come on Bingo. No time for chasing seagulls, Let's go home," he yelled.
Bingo came to a stop at a dark figure sticking out of the cattails and began barking. Peter staggered ahead to catch up.
"What is it Bingo? Let's go--" he began. What he saw sobered him. The severed arm of a bear and part of its frame. What could

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InarticulateBabbler
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I originally had the wife named Eileen, but since there's two Carols already, I've jumped on the bandwagon.

quote:

"Bingo," Pete called, as he trudged through a blanket of mottled leaves. Where was that damned dog? If he wasn't all Pete had left of Carol, Bingo would be at a shelter. Carol. Why did you die and leave me all alone? Sponge-tongue--the kind that could only be moistened by a full shot glass--swelled against the roof of his mouth. "Bingo," he hollered again, as he trudged up the lakeside slope and into the woods. "Where the hell are you?" Trees bowed away from him as if ashamed of him and his misery. Some were splintered from the effort.

Bingo's bark quickened his pace. Atop the hill, Pete found Bingo growling at a large furry mess. He heard the buzz of flies before the stench hit. His stomach roiled. Horrified, he realized the eviscerated thing on the ground was once a bear.



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skadder
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Interesting. We (the last three) all chose the discovery of the bear as the place to start the story.
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InarticulateBabbler
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quote:

Interesting. We (the last three) all chose the discovery of the bear as the place to start the story.

Because that's where the story begins. Starting with the death of his wife is way too early. It would screw up the pace and tension if there was a flashback to the bear while the thing is bumbling around his kitchen, injuring Bingo. That only left the discovery of the bear--shortly before the tension escalates with Peter being locked in the basement while an alien terrorizes him.

What I find interesting is the amount of exposition in the first thirteen, and how the authors chose to reveal the information.


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Bent Tree
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Is it that we have been conditioned to do so?
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Conditioned by what? By the 13-line rule, or by what we've come to understand about reader's expectations?

If the story doesn't start when the character is hooked into the situation, how can the writer expect the reader to be hooked into the story?


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skadder
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Yup, I put in a number of places it was possible to start to give people a choice. I think a lot of people start their 13 lines too early.

I notice I was the only one that didn't mention the wife...


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Bent Tree
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Yeah Kathleen, I guess my question is; Do we, as writers, try to put too much information in the first thirteen? Or could that mistake be made by a rookie, such as myself?
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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There may be a tendency to put too much in the first 13, especially if you think that's your only shot.

I don't think the first 13 lines in the posts here had too much information in them, though. Maybe I read them too quickly to notice. <shrug>

Edited to add: this discussion should go in the other topic, though.

The first 13 lines are supposed to go here.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 16, 2008).]


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rickfisher
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Peter found himself wiping tears from his eyes even before the day's first drink. Without Joanie by his side, people terrified him, but the solitude of this cabin was murderous.

On impulse, he rose and and opened the door. "C'mon, Bingo." The dog padded out. Peter followed, and they headed to the lake path.

Halfway around, Bingo bounded into the undergrowth; then he stopped short, growling, and backed up, hackles raised. Odd. Peter pulled his thoughts away from Joanie and cocked his head.

The wind shifted, and he smelled it. Something dead. He pushed his way into the undergrowth until he saw the bear...or its remains. It hadn't been dead long, but some pretty large scavengers had torn the carcass apart. The skull, even, had

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 16, 2008).]


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Jeff M
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The silence had a peculiar quality. Living alone in his isolated house, Peter was well acquainted with silence. But this silence wasn’t like the peaceful morning quiet, walking by the lake with his dog Bingo. No, as he listened, Peter became convinced there was something upstairs in his kitchen that didn’t want to be heard. From practiced experience, he moved easily through the dark basement of the decrepit house. He had stumbled around down there in a drunken stupor enough times, searching for blown fuses. At the bottom of the stairs to the kitchen, he stopped and peered up. He heard Bingo whine and the dog’s paws scratching on the kitchen tiles. He was just about to whisper Bingo’s name, when he heard a yelp. Peter shivered and held his breath.
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Jeff M
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Hmmm... after reading the other responses, I see I chose to start the story much later. The way I saw my story progressing was to have Pete escape this first encounter without actually seeing the creature. Then you'd have a brief flashback to the bear, and he'd put 2 and 2 together and realize there was Something Out There.


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snapper
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Okay here's mine. I haven't read a post yet so here it goes.

quote:
Bingo stuck his nose into his empty food dish, sniffed, and did the same to his dry water bowl. He turned to look at his Master.
Peter had tears running down his cheeks. In one hand he held a picture of Amy. In the other he gripped a bottle of that awful smelling liquid he called ‘Rot Gut’. Bingo’s ears drooped. He missed placing his head on Amy’s lap and loved the way she scratched behind his ears. She always kept his dish full. Peter had a hard time remembering his dog needed fed. Then again, he had trouble remembering to feed himself as well. Bingo walked over and pawed at Peter.
Peter looked in the direction of Bingo’s dishes. He cracked open a can of cheap beer, leaned back and filled Bingo’s water bowl. Peter then drank what was left, crumbled it, and threw it

Now to see what others have done

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 18, 2008).]


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snapper
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Curious,

Almost everyone started off with the monster on the first page. Perhaps its the way I like to write, but I choose to introduce my characters in their usual enviroment first. Starting with the head of a severed bear or a monster upstairs is like walking into a theater thirty minutes after the movie started. I'm not saying that it's wrong. Just unconventionally different compared to what I see gets printed.


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skadder
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Since we have quite a few up now why don't we try to get a consensus over which we feel is the hookiest and why. So by hookiest I mean the one that makes you want to carry on reading for what ever reason (obviously try to identify the why).

I am certain many will think their own creation is the hookiest, perhaps because they will overlook their own flaws and also know where their version of the story is going (...it will get really exciting in a minute...). So, no voting for yourself! If you have to, at least identify who was your second choice.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 18, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 18, 2008).]


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skadder
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I have ummed and erred and I can't honestly decide between Bent Tree's and IB's.

Bent Tree's:

I like the scene setting--the reflection on the water; the cattails. I like the references to his drink problem, although you could lose one (I count three).

I don't like '...What he saw sobered him..." --telling. How did it sober him? I think your reference to the wife could be shortened. It is not relevant at this stage that she is dead--that fact can be built on as the story develops. I would leave it as '..Carol used to love it here...' No more. It suggests she's gone.

IB's.

I like:

Mottled (on my favorite list of words or should be) leaves. I like the trees having been broken and shattered by the beast charging through them--although the way you phrase it makes it seem as though it is happening now--which it isn't. He also doesn't seem curious about this--the drink? I like the flies and the stench. I like '...Bingo's bark quickened his pace...'

I didn't like:

Sponge tongue. Seemed to abrupt a change from the Carol thought previously. I personally would put a cough or something in there to break it up.I didn't like the idea he would put the dog in the shelter if it wasn't the only thing he had left of Carol. Makes him a little callous--it may be the case but that sort of detail I would leave until later when we care about Peter. I would use the dog to make Peter more likable rather than less likable. You also use 'trudged' twice.

Snapper.

I liked yours because it looked like you were going to approach it from the dog's POV, which would have change the whole texture of the story. But then you flipped to Peter's POV mid-thirteen lines which made it confusing and a POV violation.

As to why IB's and Bent Tree's are hookiest? I think the choice of the starting point helps. It is possible to start elsewhere and hook people using a non-speculative element, but for a short-story the bear is, I think, the logical place to start. Good writing helps to!

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 18, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 18, 2008).]


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snapper
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That is frustrating that you think my POV switched. I did write it from Bingo's POV and I would change it to clarify it if I could. Another frustrating thing is that my 13 lines have been cut to 12. I think my 13th line would have improved it. Maybe KDW's margins are set tighter than mine.

[This message has been edited by snapper (edited March 18, 2008).]


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shimiqua
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I vote for rickfishers.
I liked the smell of death part. that was the strongest hook to me. It made me wonder what it was that was dead. I care about the character.

My second favorite is IB's. You delve into the character, flaws and all. Which makes the character human, and therefore vulnerable. Because of that you care what happens to him, because he's mortal.

I like this exercise. Lots of good writing on everyones part,these are just my favorites.


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snapper
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I liked everyones but all of them needed some tweaking. I'm torn between BentTrees and rickfishers. I'm choosing Ricks because his approach is a little different than the rest.
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Bent Tree
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Difficult choices. This is a very interesting excercise. It has proven to be very educating.

I agree with Snapper that all of these needed some tweaking. I agree also with Skadders comments on mine. My top three picks are:

Rick Fisher- I think this was the most flawless. It was the most common starting point which leads me to believe that it is the most logical. The prose was nice. It seemed appropriate for the genre.

It was a toss up between Skadder, IB, and Snapper
I pick IB as second. The main turn off for me on this piece was the prose was too poetic for my taste. It didn't seem to fit the genre.

Skadder was next- I would have chose this as my favorite pick but the first sentence threw me. If this were arranged differently it would have been much better. Opening right with a severed bear head was overwhelming. I liked the prose and the questions racing through his mind.

Snapper was great- It was refreshing to have the scene start where I felt it should--with the dog persuading the inebriated MC to get up and go for a walk, but the POV threw me. If I weren't trying to cram so much info into the thirteen lines this is where I would have chosen to start. Honestly I think it was the right choice.

Jeff M's was great. I just felt the point where he started the story gave the it a different feel. Which is to say, it seemed like a different story. Had I not recieved the prompt, I might have chosen this one.

It was the same for Shimiqua. It was an interesting choice of starting points, but again painted a different story that what I imagined.


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kathyton
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"Attacked me?" Peter said. His mother called him every evening since the funeral. "No, no -- it was attacked -- blood everywhere. I can still smell it." He'd come across a bear, slaughtered and bleeding in the woods. Safe in the rented cabin, he couldn't shake the smell of blood; the root cellar's odor crept into the kitchen -- a sickroom smell: Blood, bile, and Helen's sour breath. "I've gotta go --" He grabbed a flashlight and edged toward the door to the root cellar. "Yes, she's in a better place." The cellar revealed only concrete block walls, a dirt floor, and a bag of shriveled apples. No chest tubes or bedpans. In the kitchen he heard his dog Bingo pacing and whining. "I'm coming, boy," Peter called. Then a rasp, a growl, and a crash. The dog was silent. "Bingo?"
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kathyton
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I didn't peek, so it was fun to see the other opening after doing mine. I was more interested in the dead wife part of the prompt than the alien monster part (was that in the original post?)-- As far as the hookiest hook -- I thought Skadder's combined character with an important plot element -- the dismembered bear. I.Babbler had a great description of the dead bear and I think starting with a lost dog is, almost by definition, engaging. I felt rushed with mine, cramming in a lot of information, and enjoyed how the other writers just let it unfold.
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Jeff M
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This reminds me of those writer's group exercises where you take a picture and everyone writes a 500 word story based on the picture. For the same picture, you end up with widely different stories. And that's the way it should be.

For a given situation, where you start depends on what story you want to tell. This could've started after the monster killed Peter. It could've started with Peter's wedding and had the discovery of the bear as the climax. Of course, they would be totally different stories. But again, that's the way it should be.

If I was reading a speculative fiction anthology and came across a story about a guy and his dog discovering a dead bear, I wonder if I might be tempted to flip ahead, just to see what other stories there were, before coming back to the bear? For me, shimiqua's opening with the conversation between Death and the wife would capture my attention much faster. As is, it reads a bit more like a plot summary than an opening paragraph, but those two opening sentences are wonderful.

As far as the "bear in the woods" angle, I liked IB's effort, on the condition that you remove the word "sponge-tongue" It's fun to say (sponge-tongue, sponge-tongue. Sponge-tongue), but it made me giggle. Otherwise, you did a good job of capturing the tension of the situation.

This was fun. Excellent efforts all round!


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snapper
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I enjoyed this. We should do this more often. Perhaps we can make rules that we all can agree on. We could make this a weekly challenge and rotate the moderator responciblities.
One suggestion is all submissions get sent to the moderator and they do all the postings. Submission 1, Submission 2, etc...
That way there would be no bias when choosing a winner. What do you think? Anyone interested?

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skadder
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I am in (possibly not every week!). I reckon I can commit to 13-lines...It would be a good thing to recommend to those who submit 13 lines in the fragment section who could do with the practice (newbies). We could call it a WORKSHOP. How about the The 13-Lines Weekly Workshop? Snappy!

It would also serve as an aid to get your writing juices flowing if you haven't written for a while.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 19, 2008).]


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Bent Tree
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I am in. Let's do it.
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shimiqua
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I'm in. I know I could use the practice. It would be awesome if we could do different types of stories. I perfer to write fantasy, but it would be great for me and other newbies to strech into Sci fi, spec, or horror. Heck, even romance would be good for some people, as long as it's just 13 lines. What do you think?
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InarticulateBabbler
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Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

The first thing I'll agree on is that all of these need work. All have good things about them, too. One big problem for me is getting enough into the character without getting sappy before I can relate. I knew--on some level--that everyone would start with how he was grieving (that's why I tried to focus on the mixture of feelings a mourning-alcoholic would feel instead of trying to make the reader sympathetic), but at the beginning nobody knows Peter. It's a difficult competition with that much to work around.

shimiqua's had a hook, but it led me away from the story we had all been supposed to write.

Skadder's made me feel like it was more an action-/horror oriented tale. However, it didn't feel true to have a modern day drunk/widower look at a bear's head and think "sword". For pacing, I liked it.

Bent Tree had too much description of setting for me, and "seagulls" wouldn't be the word I'd envision on a lake. I did like his internal dialogue.

For mine: I agree the use of trudge in such a close vacinity should've been avoided. "Sponge-tongue" was to avoid the cliche "cottonmouth", a condition that is frequent among whiskey-drinkers (and potheads), however I can see it amounted to trying too hard.

rickfisher (who has an uncanny ability to economize prose), started off with Peter crying, and it made Peter weak before I knew why. (For me, automatic turn-off.) I loved how his last paragraph introduced the bear by senses (which is what I tried to do, too).

My major problem with Jeff M's was that he did a lot of telling, when the showing would build suspence and hook me. I couldn't imagine an elephant-sized alien being quiet, either. When I read "No, as he listened, Peter became convinced there was something upstairs in his kitchen that didn’t want to be heard." I noticed what it lacked: the yawning creaks in the kitchen's floorboard, while they slowly bulged and rained dust down on Peter's head...

Snapper's felt--to me also--like it hopped between PoVs. Then, I thought maybe he was shooting for omniscient. Bingo in the food dish is an ambiguous PoV. No feelings. Capitalizing 'Master" made me think Bingo's PoV. But, Bingo wouldn't be able to see what the picture was in Peter's hand, so that hopped for me, and I didn't believe Bingo called a drink "Rot Gut". In the end, there was no sign of a speculative element (which the story is about). From what appears, the conflict is going to be a dog trying to save his master from addiction...

kathyton's I had mixed feelings on. It opened feeling as you know Bob-ish, then seemed to develop a narrator, and then he was heading toward the basement. I had extremely mixed feeling on the telephone conversation. In the end, his rush (frustration) to get off the phone and investigate made me empathize with Peter, but I couldn't get on board with the "'Yes, she's in a better place.'" comment. I read it said flatly, but I couldn't see it not stirring something.

If there was a weekly 13 challenge, I'd probably keep up appearances.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 19, 2008).]


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kathyton
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I'd like to play, when time permits. (I'm already in several mutual support/suicide pacts aims at enforcing writing deadlines)
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snapper
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It seems that we have a little writing group going here.

Here is what I propose. A new moderator each week. The moderator thinks of a synopsis and we all write a 13 line opening based on that synopsis (as Skadder did). All submissions are sent to the moderator and the moderator shall post them individually. We then vote on which is the hookiest (don't know if that's a word). Other rules I'd liked us to consider.
A day, I propose saturday or sunday, the moderator will submit the synopsis. We send our 13 line submission to him/her and the moderator will place them, in let's say wednesday for judgment. This exersize is open to everyone.

What do you think? Any additional ideas?


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annepin
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Ahem... well, I didn't participate because I don't have a lot of time right now but I thought this was a very cool idea and would like to participate in the future. Maybe each week or so one of the participants could come up with a story line for the following week?
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skadder
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Lets just keep this open and relaxed. We will accept that some weeks no-one will play and other weeks many might play.

A moderator is chosen by the old moderator from amongst those that participated. If no-one participates in a given week the old moderator stays on and makes up another story outline. You're allowed to say, "Pick me, pick me."

New moderator to post story outline Saturday.

All 13 lines to be sent to the moderator by Wednesday evening, for posting Wednesday/Thursday.

Outlines must have some character backgrounds, a clear idea of where the plot is going, various place you could start and enough holes so each author can flesh it out in their own way. Keep it fairly simple.

Also when you send your 13 lines to the moderator ensure it is 13 lines in the usual way. Also put in all the italics ([.i.]...etc.) in the the same way you would when you post it, so the moderator can cut and paste it with the minimum of hassle.


[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 20, 2008).]

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 20, 2008).]


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skadder
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Who wants the moderator job this week? First yes gets it...although be prepared to get your outline critiqued if it ain't good...

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 20, 2008).]


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skadder
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Snapper? Fancy the job?
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rickfisher
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Hi, everyone. I haven't managed to get back to this thread since I posted, and it was really interesting reading everyone's responses.

Hey! I just noticed that mine was cut to 12 lines, also! This difference between Firefox and IE is driving me nuts. Oh, well.

Overall, I think I liked IB's best, but I don't have anything new to say about it (one of the advantages of arriving late). Second, I'd choose Snapper's. The dog viewpoint was interesting (and I didn't see any change of POV, though I could see where that idea might have arisen--"Peter had a hard time remembering. . . ." In context, I thought it was clear that it really meant "Bingo knew that Peter had a hard time remembering. . . ." This kind of situation can be tricky, especially at the start of a story when the reader doesn't KNOW that you know what you're doing with POV yet.)

I DON'T want to be a moderator. I DON'T. Well, I might consider it sometime (over the summer?), but I'm not about to volunteer at the moment. I would like to participate, however, on those occasions when I can find the time.


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skadder
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If there are no volunteers I will moderate again. Last chance to say yes, or I will begin creating ready to post the outline tomorrow.

SO LAST CHANCE FOR THE MODERATOR JOB?


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Bent Tree
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I'll give it a go if you want a break
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skadder
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Up to you. As no one was responding I have done a story outline, which is ready to go. I was going to post it now but then saw your post.

What shall I do? Up to you.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 21, 2008).]


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Jeff M
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I'd love to participate in future challenges, but not this week 'cause I've got waaay too much on the go. But put my name on the list for future moderating duties.

Jeff.


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snapper
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I'll take the next moderator spot when available.
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