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Author Topic: NSG 7/10 - 7/16
WBSchmidt
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Welcome to this week's Novel Support Group (NSG). Anyone can join. If you're new, tell us a bit about who you are and what project you are working on. Although we can report on any number of things, here is a list of suggestions (suggestions welcomed).

  • What were your goals last week and did you accomplish them?
  • Describe what you worked on.
  • Set goals for next week.
  • Did you learn something during this week?

Here is a list of things that you can do each week as we work on our novels (suggestions welcomed).

  • Writing on a novel
  • Characterization
  • World Building
  • Relevant research

=-=-=-=-=

Last Week's Goals
I did not do well at all this week. I may have written a few hundred words is all (not including the one blog entry this week). What I determined is that the most recent scene that I wrote may work better as the first scene of the next chapter. I wrote a bit more on that scene but I still have some thoughts that I need to put into it.

My goals for next week:

  • Outline next section

I think I need to slow down a bit. Most of my problems currently exist due to a lack of planning. I will plan the next small section of this novel before moving on to writing. I get so eager to write that I don't put enough effort into the development of the story. Some writers can do that, write organically with a blank sheet of paper. That is not me.

What did I learn this week?
I don't know that I learned anything this week. However, I did have some thoughts on how to better organize my planning. I wrote a blog entry--finally--about how I can break my novel into more manageable pieces. I don't know if this will work for me or not, I'm still experimenting, but it's worth a shot. If it works then perhaps I can say that I learned this week.

--William


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Meredith
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Last week was slow for me, too.

Last Week's Goals:

Keep working on Dreamer's Rose. Finish chapter five and get at least half-way through chapter six.
Not even close. I realized I was avoiding working on this, so I had to rethink the beginning to a certain degree. Now I'm back to chapter two, but hopefully this time will work better for me. Sometimes you have to go back to move forward.

Work on the query letter and synopsis for The Shaman's Curse.
Nope. Bad. I didn't touch these.

I'm not going to look at the other three novellas I set aside.
Well, I did look. I was avoiding Dreamer's Rose, after all. And I did a little work on one. But, fortunately, I'm not obsessed with it, this time.

This Week's Goals:
Okay, since I did so badly last week, I'm going to try to make it easy.

Dreamer's Rose
I like the new beginning. If I can keep it up, I want to write two more chapters. That will take me to the end of chapter 3.

Synopsis and Query for The Shaman's Curse
I really hate working on these. You can tell, because even when I was avoiding Dreamer's Rose, I didn't do this. But I need to and then I need to start sending out queries again. Maybe if I target just a little time every day, I can do this. Yeah, let's try that.

The Fairy's Kiss A new short story I started while avoiding Dreamer's Rose. It's at just over a thousand words and maybe a quarter to a third complete (in first draft, of course). So, try to get another thousand words into it. (BTW, a fairy's kiss is the name for a type of marking on corgis, a spot of color surrounded by white on the dog's forehead. I have two corgis who happen to appear in this story. What can I say, the idea came to me while I was walking them. ) Worst case, I'm willing to bet I can get it published in Cardi Tales, the newsletter of the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of Southern California. Not a paying market, but . . .

I'm still open to another chapter exchange on Book Two, if anybody is interested.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited July 10, 2009).]


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satate
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Ha, I did worse than you all. I didn't even write one bit. I read over chapter two and thought "This stinks!" Then stared at the words while occasionally looking over at Brandon Sanderson's book three of the Mistborn trilogy. The book sat next to my computer and stared at me, tempting me. So I gave up trying to make chapter two better and took myself to my bed to read. This week I'm being more realistic. I'm not even going to try to write.

My goals - Read the rest of Book three and pack up my house. I'm moving in two weeks and I think I'm just going to have to put writing on hold until our move is finished.


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Natej11
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* What were your goals last week and did you accomplish them?
My goals last week were to finish off a first draft of my novel and get the synopsis done. I wasn't expecting to get it done in a week's time, of course. Which is probably a good thing >.<.

* Describe what you worked on.
I worked on my nearly completed novel "Worlds Collide", fleshing out bits that needed it piecemeal and beginning a synopsis and alphabetical list of descriptions for relevant terms so I didn't get confused on the world building I'd already done. Or worlds building.

* Set goals for next week.
I'd like to continue piecing my stranded bits of plot together, starting with going through and putting a big bolded DISCONTINUITY IN THE STORY HERE! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! wherever I find breaks. Then I'll whip out my synopsis and flesh out the plot for those continuity breaks so I know what I need to write.

* Did you learn something during this week?
Sadly enough, I learned that it's very, very hard to write inspiring "sure the world may look bleak and hopeless and we'll probably all die, but we'll fight for this and this reason because we're all just terribly plucky and I know we can win!" dialogue when you're depressed. I'm probably going to have to watch that Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers scene where Sam gives an inspiring speech to Frodo and then rewrite the entire section.

By the by, sorry for butting into this NSG thing without introducing myself. I'm Nate Jones. I've been writing for about 11 years now. It's one of my favorite hobbies, bordering on an obsession when I get really into a story I'm writing. I was pretty active on the Hatrack forums in...March, I think it was, and then I lost access to the internet and shelved writing for a bit. (By the by, Meridith, I think I promised to critique something of yours and then fell through. Can't remember for sure, but if I did sorry.)

Going on from that parenthetical and Meredith's chapter swapping offer...sure! I'd love to swap chapters, although I'll have to talk to you about content (Worlds Collide gets a bit gory in places, although it's pretty clean on everything else.)


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Meredith
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@Natej11--Yeah, I think that was an earlier version of my synopsis. You may get another chance if I keep to my goals.

I don't read much hard sf (if that's what your story is), but at some level, a story is a story. We can give a chapter exchange a try.

I'm not ridiculously squeamish, but I'm not a fan of gore for it's own sake. It has to have a purpose in the story or I'll put it down pretty quickly. And I really don't much want to read about eyeballs popping out or things like that.


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shimiqua
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I had a dream when I was a little kid that everyones eyeballs kept popping out of their heads, and the eyeballs were actually little white worms with pupils for mouths. Weird weird dream. Made me afraid to close my eyes, I though my pupils would eat through my eyelids.

Yep, I was eight.

So... I actually did pretty good this week. I finished the edit for Dragon Fate chapter one and prolouge, and I gotta say it's looking good. I'm liking it. Hope chapter two doesn't take me this long to edit.

Goals for this week.
Edit chapter two, plot out a story for WoTF, and clean my house (not that you needed to know that one.)
Happy writing!
~Sheena

[This message has been edited by shimiqua (edited July 10, 2009).]


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Natej11
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My writing is purely fantasy at the moment ^^. I've tried SF, but it seems to have fallen out of fashion and to be honest I like fantasy more anyway. As for the gore, I don't go out of my way to include it. I just put in enough to show what a terrible situation they're in starting out, and most of my story doesn't have any.
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annepin
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Last week:
  • I made a list of all the scenes in my werewolf book. Now I have to go back and determine character emotional development for each scene. Did not do. I realized I really need to do more research on this one, since it's historical fiction.
  • Start scene tracker for witch book. I have to combine 2 drafts and determine the threshold, crisis point, and climax. This is where I had the most progress this week. I started combining my two drafts and made an executive decision (yay executive decision! I'm usually so terrible at deciding things--I ride the fence for as long as possible) about the opening of my book. I've started writing scene 6, and have some sense of the overall plot, though some of the "hows" are still hazy.
  • Let WotW percolate (this should be easy!) Done!
  • Write confrontation scene for TWOH.No, I got too caught up in my witch book.

    This week's goals:

  • Continue plotting/ sketching out scenes for the witch book.
  • Complete a scene tracker.
  • Dust off a story for WotF.
  • Write every day!!! It's been too long since I've approached this as a discipline.

    Challenges:

  • My Executive Decision has the action start in the first scene. I'm afraid this will make the whole novel short. I mean, really short. 100 pages. I guess I'll just have to see what happens. Maybe the main plot will become more complicated.
  • I am determined to outline this story, no matter what. Mostly because I want to try it out, see if it's any easier, but also because of all my stories, this one book most closely follows the 3 act structure, so I'm going to try to maximize that to teach myself about plotting with that in mind.



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Crank
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LAST WEEK

Current: Revise the "Metzgerhund Empire" synopsis, as needed.
Goal: Resume submissions.

Currently, the synopsis is being critted by a few trusted people, so during that time I substituting the actual submitting portion of my goal with researching more potential agents. I done goodly.


Current: Continue my SF studying and researching.
Goal: no set word-count-based goal, just keep at it.

I find it amusing how I interpret physics text when I'm exhausted.

Also of note: based on the feedback I received from a few of my fellow Hatrackers, I've come to the conclusion that this novel's opening scene sucks. Actually, I already knew that. However, the comments showed me that I neglected to present one important piece of info to the reader. Duh on me.


Current: Continue workload on my "main project"
Goal: Complete the next 'section,' and start at least one more.

I didn't reach my quantity-based goal, but the quality of the work I performed on this task makes me very happy.

Oh...add to my list of last week's accomplishments: I made an important decision concerning my mainstream novel's order of events. Hmmmm...I told myself I was going to keep that novel shelved for a while, but, hey...my kids don't listen to me, so why should I?

UPCOMING WEEK

I should go light on my expectations because the upcoming workload at my "real" job is expected to be brutal.

Nah!

Current: Revise the "Metzgerhund Empire" synopsis, as needed.
Goal: Resume submissions. Echo.

Current: Continue my SF studying and researching.
Goal: no set word-count-based goal, just keep at it.

Current: Continue workload on my "main project"
Goal: no set word-count-based goal, just keep at it. No, this isn't a copy-and-paste error.

S!
S!


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Kitti
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I didn't officially set goals last week, b/c by Friday I was so dead tired I couldn't be bothered to even start up my computer. But if I had, my goals would have been sleep, sleep, and then more sleep. Success!

This week's goals:
1. Work on my WOTF draft
2. Write another chpt of TSB
3. Print out first chpts of TSB and search for world-building and/or plot gaps


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MAP
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Wow, I am impressed that so most of you are working on so many different projects at a time. I just got my one no name novel.

I did pretty good this week. I finally got to a point where my first draft of my novel actually meshed with my new draft, so I cut and pasted some scenes that fit with just a little tweaking. It was nice to have a large increase in page numbers with little effort, very satisfying.

Goals for next week, finish another chapter.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited July 11, 2009).]


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Heidi
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Well, I've had worse weeks . . .

1. Write everyday:
I can't remember! I did get distracted by a smug of white out on my office chair that I swore I'd never seen before and wrote (in my journal) four pages in the second person. Not an easy POV and not one I'd ever used before but, to my surprise, it seemed to work. Can't imagine doing a whole story, let alone a novel, that way, however. Maybe a prolog. Oh, yeah--did a little work on the vampire book. The darn thing won't die!

2. Read research I've collected:
Didn't touch it. Don't care. Maybe I need a new goal.

3. Finish first draft of novel by the end of August:
Didn't touch it. This is unusual. My goal for next week is to get back at it.


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BenM
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Meredith, if you want another brain to pick regarding Shaman's Curse, email me.
  • What were your goals last week and did you accomplish them?
    My goal was to continue plotting my novel. I did this, and went one step further: I worked out how many chapters per day I need to plot, and set up a progress tracker on my blog.
  • Describe what you worked on.
    I'm working on a sort of SF/contemporary thriller. This is a ploy to get myself to pay closer attention to plot in my writing. As such it's plot-heavy and the plotting stage has taken far, far longer than previous projects.

    I wrote a query-type synopsis for the purpose of clarifying my goals and also as a reference with which to compare the finished story eventually (such comparisons often being comical once my stories have been finished - and evolved into something completely different).

    I also researched Google spreadsheet integration so I could graph my wordcount progress on my blog once I start writing. There's nothing like a public confession of one's inability to meet one's goals.

  • Set goals for next week.
    Plot 14 chapters. Keep job. Keep wife happy. Bend over backwards for children. Sleep.
  • Did you learn something during this week?
    Quantify my goals into something measurable. And wear earplugs when sleeping.

    [This message has been edited by BenM (edited July 12, 2009).]


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  • JohnMac
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    Last week - I think I hit it pretty solidly.

    I got all of Chapter three done and only have one scene left in Chapter four of Bitrazer.

    This week...simple. Finish Chapter four. Write Chapter five.

    What I learned last week that I'll apply this week - Write more talk less, and ignore idle office chatter.

    -John


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    Jaz
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    Well since I'm new to these parts - I've mostly lurked in the Open Discussions forum, as well as a couple of brief forays into Fragments and Feedback - I figured I should do a quick into first.

    Me: Not much to say.

    There - that's better. Good to get that out of the way, wouldn't want things to get awkward.

    My WIP - its an adaptation of a short story I wrote for a class back in College. It has morphed from a 8 page single-spaced short story to a 40 page single-spaced novellette, to its present incarnation which is over 60 pages and not even 1/6 of the way through. Its been my baby, in once form or another, for nearly 10 years now, although this is the first time in years I've actually given it focus and finally feel able to write it as a novel. Although I still can't, for the life of me, come up with a suitable title for it.

    This past week I finished Chapter 4 and did some research for Chapter 5. The research has opened up new avenues for the story to take and have gotten me really excited.

    My goal for this week is to get a rough draft of Chapter 5 done and start to put it to type. This will be interesting because its focusing on a character that is only briefly mentioned in the original story but who has gained importance with each re-write. "Come get some - Little Man."


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    Meredith
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    I put a different take on the short, short query synopsis up in Fragments and Feedback. This one focuses more on the premise of the story and less on the specific events. I'd like to know if this approach works better.

    Thanks.


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    aspirit
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    I think everyone here knows who I am, to some extent. If you want an answer to anything about me, please ask.

    Below is information on my novel-in-progress.

    Current Working Title: RITN

    Genre: Uh? Speculative/Supernatural/Paranormal/Romantic/Science Fiction. Thatís my best guess.

    (Very) Rough Synopsis: When a lonely orphan boy meets Corrina, the kind granddaughter of a neighbor, he becomes determined to integrate her into his life. Unfortunately, his life is full of generations-old secrets that could turn the world against him. Can she accept his strange heritage and destiny? Or will she betray his familyís secrets?

    Status: Rewriting/Redrafting. (Whatís the difference between these two terms, anyway?) Iíd written about two-thirds of the novel before I couldnít stomach any more. Parts of the plot were awful. Unfortunately, removing the worst parts left me with few useable scenes. Iím on the third chapter of the rewrite; additionally, Iím creating a new outline and researching historical and scientific details.

    Other Comments:Is it annoying that Iím secretive about character names? The main characterís name is a bit embarrassing. I tried to change it, but he and his name came from a dream and my subconscious refused to accept anything other than what it gave me.

    Another possible novel (that I started writing a year or two ago) occupies my thoughts every day, but itís rarely allowed out of my head. Iím certain it will take control of my life if I focus on it before Iím ready, because itís huge and extremely complicated. RITN is kind of a practice novel for this other novel, Conscience.


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    aspirit
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    Last Weekís Goals
    I didnít set clear goals. They were either (1) write at least 9 pages of story draft, (2) complete a new draft of chapter 2, or (3) draw a plan of the main setting.

    Did I accomplish any of these? Yes, almost, and no.

    Next Weekís Goals
    This is for the current week, right? My goals are to complete a new draft of chapter 3 and a plan of the setting.

    Lessons Learned
    Drafting and editing are activities that cannot happen at the same time. Or at least, they interfere with one another. This is a lesson I continue to relearn; for whatever reason, I continue to allow my inner editor to attack my creative side.

    Another lesson: Always give the cat a spare sheet of paper to gnaw on so he doesnít eat working notes.


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    Meredith
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    quote:
    Another lesson: Always give the cat a spare sheet of paper to gnaw on so he doesnít eat working notes.

    Oh, you have a paper thief, too! Widget used to steal them right out of the printer tray. Everything had little tooth marks in it.


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    annepin
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    quote:
    The main characterís name is a bit embarrassing. I tried to change it, but he and his name came from a dream and my subconscious refused to accept anything other than what it gave me.

    Hah! Now, of course, you have me wondering....


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    Crank
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    quote:
    Is it annoying that I'm secretive about character names?

    Not at all. As we used to say on a music board I occasionally visit, "I believe you and support you now." I'm the same way towards some of my own characters, and especially towards some of my story titles. Especially...

    quote:
    ...but he and his name came from a dream...

    One afternoon over a decade ago, I took half the day off for a dentist appointment, then came home to pick up my daughter to take her somewhere. While I was waiting, I fell asleep on the couch. In an instant, I saw an unfamiliar planetscape in the background, and an alien in the foreground. The alien said a phrase, most of it mercifully in English, that I've been attempting to recover and decypher ever since. The only word I heard clearly is a word that doesn't exist in any language (so far as I've been able to tell), and it will now be the title of my next SF novel.

    The subconscious is a great thing!

    S!
    S!

    [This message has been edited by Crank (edited July 13, 2009).]


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    Jaz
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    Ok, second try. That last one was so uninformative - not about me, but about my WIP.

    Genre: Slightly futuristic science-fiction (although there are no aliens, space travel, or flying cars)

    Synopsis: The world has moved-on and the Government and Church have taken control. Pushed by an incident in which an Artificial Intelligence was created and then forcibly destroyed, they hunt down those responsible for breaking the Creation Laws, while also trying to forget about the A-I Scare. One man vows to not let them, or his students, forget and fights to give a lecture on the subject.


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    BoredCrow
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    Oh look, it's already Tuesday.

    Chapter 14 of my novel has been edited; this one, as predicted didn't take me long at all. Yay action chapters!
    And I got Mbs submitted at last. That makes five stories out and about.

    Goals this week:
    -finish outlining of new short story StM
    -edit chapter 15 of Graveyard
    -continue getting to know the markets out there, so that I have many options for submission for all my short stories if they get rejected by the first few places

    I've been especially entertained by submitting to what Duotrope lists as the 25 toughest fiction markets. It's a win-win situation: if a piece gets accepted, I feel especially good about myself. If I get rejected... well, it was a super-tough market!
    I'm so addcited to watching the submission tracker. Now I just need to write or polish more stories so I can put them up there too. ("Why do you write?" "Oh, just to have things to watch on duotrope") Not really, of course, but it makes me giggle to think so!


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    annepin
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    Story is luffing at this point. I'm just past the quarter point. My MC has passed through the threshold into the unknown.... but suddenly I find myself at a loss for tension and conflict. Instead, I find myself writing out scenes that need to be in there for plot's sake, yet don't do a whole lot else.

    Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe I should introduce the villain sooner, or have some subplots? This might solve the too-short problem as well.


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    WBSchmidt
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    @annepin

    I have similar issues with my current work. One thing I'm doing is to accentuate the conflict between two of my characters. For example, I have Male Character who wants to blame Female Character for the death one of his sons. This is a conflict between the characters but also within Male Character because Female Character is not directly the cause of his son's death (and deep down he knows this). He wants someone to answer for his son's death but the real person at fault is untouchable. As such, their relationship gets strained at times.

    So, I add to my "plot scenes" the ongoing conflict over this issue. This conflict may feel like a subplot in a way but it also ties into the main plot.

    Hope that helps.

    --William


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    aspirit
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    I'm a fan of subplots, annepin. If you think you don't have more than your main plot, then maybe taking another look at your side characters will help. Do they hint at a hidden relationship with a main character? Can something happen to them that mirrors or foreshadows a major scene?
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    Natej11
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    Doing chapter exchange on an incomplete novel has really helped me nail down the plot line. Where I hit gaps in the story I have to make executive decisions about what to put in or whether to shuffle things around a bit. So far it's been working out pretty good, as long as I don't write myself into a corner at some point in the future.
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    annepin
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    In case it got lot on the other thread, I want to say again here, thanks guys, for the suggestions and support. I'm toying with subplots.
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