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Whether you are writing a novel or a short story it is best to have your MAIN PLOT before you get too much written down.  The Main Plot is the singular thread that runs through the novel/story.  You may have character ideas or scene ideas but eventually you need to think about a plot.  Do this sooner rather than later.

The best way to do this is to list your main characters and then decide what are their individual main plots. Are they all on the same quest with the same ideas / goals or do some of them have their own goals?

To help show this, here's an example:

Main Characters
Eric – To become knighted and serve his king
Vivian – To destroy her former master before he can poison the kingdom
Luke – To find his brother

Other Detail
Taldor – The largest city

Maybe from this list you decide Vivian is the MAIN character and her story line is the driving force however each of the other three have story lines that need to be told.  The main story is where all the threads come together.

Vivian's former master Rayn has travelled to Taldor where he will poison the Royal family and the nobles, with these higher powers gone, the peasants will be easier to control and he can rule.  Vivian is following him, but the master knows this and has her arrested in one of the towns.

Eric is travelling to Taldor where the five year tournament is being held for new bloods to show themselves and possibly become knights.  (here we are tying him in to the main story by having his destination the same as Vivian's)

Luke's twin brother Torris is missing, Torris joined a clan of thieves and has not been heard from again.  Luke is visiting local towns where he has heard sightings of his brother.  During one of his visits he gets arrested by mistake as the local guards think he is his brother.  (here he meets Vivian in the gaol).

From this example we have three main characters each with their own plot but we have decided that Vivian's is the main.


THE SKELETON
The above is your story skeleton, the bare bones of an idea that gives it form and structure.  To get it solidified your need to write the plot in bullet points.  Keep it basic and remember this is just the simple threads.

It can help to do each character plot at a time (especially if there are parts were the characters are not together)

For example:
Vivian Plot
* Learns of her master's plan
* Escapes from the manor where she was imprisoned by the master
* Follows the master through several towns
* Master Rayn finds out she is following and plots her arrest
* Vivian is arrested
* Vivian meets Luke
* Luke and Vivian escape and are chased by guards
* Vivian and Luke are rescued by Eric
* The three continue travelling to Taldor, during this time Luke learns more about his brother's whereabouts
* Master Rayn learns of the trio and makes more attempts to stop them
* They arrive at Taldor and Eric goes to the tournament, if knighted he will have an ear to the king and be able warn him successfully about Rayn etc.


As you can see from the above, you will eventually have a basic list of plot points listed.  If you did this for each of the main characters you can then begin to intermix them all.  So you end up with a full list of bullet points.


THE MEAT
Now you have your bullet points of the basic story, you can start to write it but be aware that this still needs "fleshing out".  The meat of your story is as you build on it.  The best way to do this is to ask yourself questions.  These questions will allow you to add new dimensions to your story.

Example:
* How did Vivian become a slave to Rayn?
* Who is Rayn and why does he want to rule the kingdom?
* Why did Luke's brother leave?
* Is there a bigger motivation for Eric wanting to be a knight?

These are possible questions you can pull from the above examples.  If I answered these (see below), you will see I could develop the story on a deeper level.

* Vivian is sold to slavery by her mother who needed the money to raise her other 6 children.  Vivian took the burden from her mother and volunteered so her sisters would not have to suffer the same fate.

* Rayn was born to the late king out of wedlock, his mother is a lower noblewoman.  He sees himself as a true heir because the king's son to the queen (who is now king) is younger than him.  

* Luke's brother left home due to the debts he had accrued to a shady man.  He feared they would attack his family to force his hand so he fled so that they could not use his family against him.  (Did they anyway?)

* Eric wants to be a knight because his abusive father always told him how worthless he was.  The highest role a commoner can achieve in society is as a knight.  Knighthoods are only usually offered to men of noble birth, however in the first year of a new king everyone of skill is given the chance to show themselves worthy.  This is Eric's only chance to prove himself.   

It is by planning the basis of a plot and then asking yourself questions that can help you build on a novel/story.  

As you do this, more questions may become apparent.  It is from these that you can turn a basic plot into a multilayered, multiplotted book.
Sorry it has taken so long to write another tutorial, I don't have the same access to the internet and my muse has been a little absent of late.

Anyway, I hope the writers amongst my watchers enjoy this.
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014  Student
Any advice on writing a language that you want to create or that's based on a language already made. Sorry asking for so many question. How's you novel going?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2014
Sorry hun,I know you asked me about this last week. I had started to write this before my partner fell ill. I should be able to get this finished and up on my blog tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience.
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2014  Student
I hope your  partner is okay. I was wondering how would you write a first pov?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014
Thank you for your kind concern, he is still ill. This is the second week with a doctors note but he is gradually getting better.

Do you mean how to write First Person? (where the story is all "I" rather than "he/she"?)

If so, I will add it to my tutorial list.
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Student
Yes, How to write first person. I hope u don't mind
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2013  Student
I was wondering how is the largest city a character?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013
This has been rectified, it was added to make sure people know what Taldor was. Thanks for letting me know.
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013  Student
I was wondering do u have any notes on building romance?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2013
Thanks for the comment, I have a list of tutorials I have to write and romance building is one of them. Not written it yet. However please note all my new tutorials will be listed on my Writers Blog from now on rather than on dA (www.theeternalscribbler.wordpr… so if you haven't already please do feel free to pop over and take a look. You can also follow me via email so you get a message every time I update (which will be more frequently once the holiday season is over!)

I also have a Submit a Tutorial Suggestion on my blog for anyone who wants to see something specific. :)
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2013  Student
Thank You. I hope am not a bother but some of the tutorials on your blog aren't post on the blog but are post here. Again sorry.
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013
Never a bother hun. My blog was only started recently and I am still in the process of transferring my tutorials from here over to the blog as I wanted to do them sporadically rather than all at once (and when I do transfer them, I often add to them so they may be longer and more detailed when they end up on my blog). Just been a bit hectic with the Holiday season and my online shop got a little busier.

I am hoping to get more organised *crazy laugh* in the next few weeks and so spend more time blogging which I really enjoy :)

Take care and have a lovely holiday x
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:iconyokonakajima:
YokoNakajima Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2013  Student
Thanks for your time. Again I hope you don't mind me asking but what do u write a character with an accent and u do have advice on making a pretend language? Sorry but I'm trying to make a pretend language
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2013
Those are interesting questions, I tell you what rather than put everything here, I will make that my next tutorial and will get it written by Sunday and posted on my blog. The novel I am working on has a false language in it so I can put down what I did for it.
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(2 Replies)
:iconflawless-dreams:
Flawless-Dreams Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
next thing to go into my notebook.
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2013
:D Aww thanks

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~
My writing blog is now up and running, it will feature all my tutorials on dA and a load more new ones, competitions, features, reviews and as many writing tips as I can think of. Visit : theeternalscribbler.wordpress.…
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:iconlexiiie:
Lexiiie Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Student General Artist
That's a pretty handy way to make multiplots... Less confusing than just listing everything out. I'll definitely be trying this method out.
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:icono-leah-shaina-o:
O-Leah-Shaina-O Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah,, thankyou for this, it is very useful @u@
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2012
^-^ Thanks, I am glad you found it helpful. Once I finally get my writing blog up and running, I will be expanding on a lot of my writing tutorials.
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:iconkissesfromwater:
KissesFromWater Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2011  Student General Artist
Hm, the plot template would really help to get my story where it needs to be. I'm always "stuck" at a point and abandon the story for a while and then return to it and feeling that it must be redone! After reading your tutorials I feel like I can maybe finally get my story done. :)
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011
Hi hun, I think all writers get to a point where they need to step away from their work (I am experiencing that at the moment and have left my writing for over a month) when we come back with free eyes we can often see parts that don't flow. This is not a problem as re-hashing can develop the story - however if you are feeling you need to re-do ALL the story that could be a problem.

Remember never throw away or delete scenes/stories or plots that you feel don't work - put them away. They can always be ressurected in another story with new characters or years later may spark a new idea! :)
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:iconjessiejordan:
JessieJordan Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2011  Student General Artist
I have a story I'm developing slowly. Actually, The story came from a game I used to play with my little sisters where each of us were the leaders of a country and we had diplomatic meetings and such. Somehow I wound up creating a parody of the story of christ and then the parody became a true legend of my world. I've been slowly developing the cultures as I write because i want my story to be deep in culture nd tradition and then have the heroine braking free from the chains of tradition. It has threads of these themes running throughout the story. It's going to be a trilogy, but in the future I hope to tell more stories about this world. :D
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2011
That sounds like a very striking game you played. I hope you get to develop the story more, it sounds interesting. Good luck, I can appreciate how it feels to try and create a trilogy. I hope you get it finished and published, if that is your hope. It sounds like you have a passion for the story :)
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:iconjessiejordan:
JessieJordan Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2011  Student General Artist
I do! :D I'm excited about it! and your guides have been helping me quite a bit!
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:iconquavera-tava:
Quavera-Tava Featured By Owner May 24, 2011
An excellent way of making a plot. I remembered one time where I made most of the plot to a story. It was a blast! However because I've done this I have not touched that story sense. Perhaps I lost interest because I've already played the whole story out in my mind, or my constant loss of writer's motivation, muse. Either way, The way I developed my plot line went like this...
First I did the basic skeleton in my mind, than I would write a one or two paragraph summary of a chapter. After I finished most of the chapter summaries, this is where I stopped, I planned on writing a more complex summary of that chapter. The final step was to write out the whole chapter, draft/final.
I think I'll make another plot to a story! :D
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:iconmegaheroes16:
MegaHeroes16 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Useful tips, thank you :)

What I'm currently doing for my story is writing all the philosophical (and psychology) themes because I've decided, recently, to give my stories philosophical themes to get the message across. I'm also going to give my stories a lot of philosophical themes because I want to give it more depth in the plot and to make the main goal of the heroes not superficial/generic.

I know, it's tacky, but as an idealist I am willing to give my stories more depth by the use of philosophical themes (characters as well of course). What's your opinion?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010
Stories with a philosophical theme or a "message" can be well received however always tread with caution. Make sure your message is not too heavy handed, remember people rarely like to be preached at. There are some good books out where they have interwoven idealisms, thoughts, messages etc into them.

Have you ever read Beauty by Sherri Tepper? A great story with a message about the environment.

I think it all depends on your message, your philosophy, after all everyone has their own thoughts about things. Remember less is more and slide the ideas in gently so they can be read and pondered over. The best way to go it to make people think, to give them just enough so they can question and develop their own opinions on the matter you have laid before them.

I think there is nothing wrong with that, or with being an idealist. :)
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:iconmegaheroes16:
MegaHeroes16 Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Yes, it does depend on the situation. But a lot of stories (including video games such as Tales of Symphonia) contain philosophical themes. Even if they are simple just like the Harry Potter series'.

The stories that I am writing about have this basic plot:

[Group of teenagers, young adults or/and adults] must stop the actions of [the antagonist(s)].

In one story they fight for freedom, in the other one they fight against homophobism, sexual violence (though sexual violence is sort-of-impossible in that world because every being has this natural defense system made of thin barrier layers which makes it very hard to mutilate/disfigure or sexually assault someone), racism, vigilantism, etc.

It's not like I'm going to write 5 times in every chapter, 'stop racism now!'
But IMO these philosophical themes are useful as they are mostly subjects that also exist in our own world (racism, etc). Yeah, you can write a story about a farmer who wants to become a knight. But I guess both the character as the plot would get more depth if you would change the plot into something like this:

'Farmer wants to become a knight in order to protect the poor from their oppressors' - The philosophical themes would be 'rankism' and 'equalism' as everyone is divided in ranks based on wealth and power while a wannabe knight strives for equality between the poor and the rich.

Mmmm... I guess the true theme of my story is 'fighting for those you want to protect and the ideals you stand for'.

Anyway, that's my opinion about philosophical themes.

'... less is more and slide...'

Just like in Inception, right? Well, I agree on that, but in my stories the main characters make it clear what they stand for, and they talk a lot about the ideals and dreams they strive for.

Even in LOTR people were fighting for their ideals ->
'There's some good out there, and it's worth fighting for' - Sam
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:iconsarafan206:
Sarafan206 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2011  Student General Artist
the storys i write usually have a message hidden in a strange way; for instance, a demon enslaved to a rich boy saves his life and the boy learns that although they look different the demon is just like him. there is a book i wrote even with a war rather similar to the civil war, but about magical creatures such as night elves and gremlins. its that kind of plot line im interested and i can get a point across that affects this world as much as that one.
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010
Very true, however you could even add depth to a philosophical themed story by showing something more. Why did a character have these ideals? What if they are forced to see the other side? Would that change them, colour them or make them fight even harder?

There is a movie called Crash ([link])

It has several plot lines and stories that cover everything from race to sexual harrassment and police corruption. It is an interesting one to watch for even some of the bad characters you find out why they do what they do. This does not condone their behaviour but can give the viewer something to think about. In the end people are the product of their society, their environment and their upbringing.

If a child is raised by racist parents and knows nothing but what they and their parents friends say about others, why would they not grow up to be racist? In the end that comes from ignorance not hatred.

It is the same with abuse, a child abused (physically or sexually) can turn out to be an abuser because it is all they really know. Does that deter from their own crimes, no but it gives you an insight into realising they were the first victim before creating their own.

Even those with high ideals can be blinded by them. Perception is everything. Knowing all sides and understanding can be something very powerful.

I think philosophical themed stories can be very inspiring and you can develop characters very deeply by using these.
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:iconmegaheroes16:
MegaHeroes16 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
mmmm... I see. I guess I could put scenes in the story where the heroes are discussing about the current moral and social issues. But I guess It would be more clever to give each character different opinions than giving them (mostly) the same opinion, wouldn't it?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010
Yes, if you gave characters different opinions or you could have some of them learn some facts that colours their own beliefs and makes them change their opinions throughout the story.

This shows character growth, shows conflict between characters and gives your reader an "all sides" view. They do not even need to "discuss" the issues with each other. Even just a single character thinking things over in their mind showing their own person conflict.
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:iconmegaheroes16:
MegaHeroes16 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Well, you're right. Discussions aren't needed. A novel isn't a forum, right (haha)? But I'm still going to do it because I love character interaction ^^. If I had to tell someone which parts of a novel I like the most, it were:

+ Plot development
+ Character Interaction
+ Describing the appearances of characters (while I still doubt if I'm good at)
+ Fighting Scenes (I'm gonna check that tutorial of yours, soon - I've already read a bit, and my first response is: 'I guess my knowledge in Medieval Swordfighting is not very useful in the fight scenes')

Ofcourse, I dislike some parts:

- Making maps for Fantasy Novels (The reason I dislike it is because I suck at making maps)
- describing landscapes, places, buildings,
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:iconobsessedwithcolour:
obsessedwithcolour Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010
great, this will help me loads. I usually find myself starting at the beginning and working onwards with a general plot that's not too detailed, but I can see how it's better to start with the characters and their goals, and then flesh it out into a plot one way and a background the other. I often find myself writing a general plot which gradually becomes detailed until I'm practically writing whole scenes in the story. I think I do this to explore the characters, but maybe I should write scenes that aren't part of the story to do this, what do you think?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010
There is no right and wrong way to it. A general plot is good, as you build on your notes you can see the questions it develops. You could write scenes that are not connected to the story for them or you may find the story dictates what scenes to write that include a building of the character.

The tutorial is best for helping you think about your plot. People can often over develop their characters then charge in with a weak plot and the end result is a mess.

What you have to remember is you the writer will always know more about your characters than anyone ever. You need to remember your reader does not know them, you need to introduce them, bring them out slowly. However if you make your writing too character heavy (eg: too much about the characters and their lives, personalities etc) you can end up with not much plot.

It's all about striking a balance. The plot is the backbone of the story, a beginning a middle and an end. From this, you can pull deeper into your characters. When something happens in your plot use these to delve into your characters.

EG: Your characters are on a journey, as a small group they pass by a city that has been almost abandoned. The doors are marked with paint signifying a plague. There are people dying, screaming and begging. They want water, food or even just freedom.

What would your characters do? Is this important to the plot? Does anything come from this city? Or is it just a description in your story? It could be both!

You could have characters aching to help them, maybe they fight amongst themselves as one of their number wants to rush in an offer aid to those who might not yet have been struck down. Do they see it as a bad omen, or fear for their own cities? Do they stop because someone they have to meet is here, they had no knowledge it would be a plague town. without this person, they can not continue... from one simple scene you can ask yourself many questions, pull out character definitions and plot developments.

I hope this helps.
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:iconobsessedwithcolour:
obsessedwithcolour Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
awesome, thanks
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:icongoblinprincess:
GoblinPrincess Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010
Wonderful - and it's really handy, 'cause I was about to sketch the plots in the story I'm working on right now. This is such a big and funny coincidence.
Actually, I was going to do just that of the "personal plots", but with a little difference: I plan to write every "personal plot" in a different colour (thanks, Word ^^) so it will be easier to see how the whole story works once I mix all of them in a single, definitive list. It may sound silly if compared to your deep advices, but it's not a bad idea either, isn't it?
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010
Actually breaking them into colours is a good idea, it can help you to map the plot. It's like if you draw out a timeline, each character marker can be a different colour so at a glance you know what each character is doing and when.
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:iconjeharravixen:
JeharraVixen Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010  Student Digital Artist
A very well-written tutorial. Thank you!
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010
Thank you, I am glad you like it. Do you write alot?
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:iconjeharravixen:
JeharraVixen Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Not as much as I used to, but I'm slowly getting back to writing. While I've not been writing, I've still been reading stuff on writing. Your tutorial was one of the most down to earth, easy to follow I've read in a very long time.
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2010
Thank you :) I have been pleased with how well my writing tutorials have been taken. I try to write them in a way I would want to read them if I was using a tutorial.

Is there a reason you have not be writing for a while?

what do you read mostly?
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:iconjeharravixen:
JeharraVixen Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2010  Student Digital Artist
I stopped writing due to massive depression. I'd been battling it since Thanksgiving '09 and finally managed to return to my former self when I received some horrendous news in April '10. My depression came back; I managed to beat it again when my great-grandmother suffered a massive stroke in early July which left her unresponsive. My depression returned and was further compounded by grief when my great-grandmother passed in August. <shrugs> Sometimes life just hits you with everything at once. Anyway...I'm closer to my normal self than I've been in very long and I'm writing again so...

I prefer fantasy and science fiction, though I read a lot of everything. My job as review coordinater/reviewer sort of demands it. :) I love to read, so I'll read anything I can get my hands on.
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:icondarkdelusion:
DarkDelusion Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010
I am sorry to hear you have been struggling so. I wish you all the best in your recovery, depression can be very crippling.

I too lost family this year, my Grandmother passed away in May following several complications. In the end she become a different person to the strong woman I remember who all but raised me. The illness took her away from me before death claimed her.

Remember we become stronger with every memory, with every experience and with that strength we can help others to get through them also.

I wish you all the best at returning to your normal self. Brightest blessings to you.
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