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  #26  
Unread 28th of June, 2012, 22:57
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There is a fancinating review from a ... 'WiredNun' on there.
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  #27  
Unread 29th of June, 2012, 06:09
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Yeah, I read that, too.
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  #28  
Unread 15th of July, 2012, 07:14
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Yes, that Wirednun is actually my wife. Shhh. But we share an Amazon account for the family so unless we made up a fakish account for her alone it would have been even sillier. At least this way she disclosed right up front she was my reader.

I'd love to have some reviews from people unrelated to the project - good, bad, or ugly. These first three items I have up there on Amazon are more or less my learning phase. I know there will be some speedbumps, I accept that. I've seen far, far worse on there, though - some truly horrible stuff that looks like it's been written by a 5th grader rejected for the TV show - and so I know mine is not too bad and I'll improve.

Self-publishing on KDP was easy. It's harder on CreateSpace, which is Kindle's publish-on-demand hardcopy model - though if you do CreateSpace KDP is a snap. Unfortunately Amazon has separate apps/sections for KDP and CreateSpace and Author central (where you manage your books) - it's all a bit clunky. I've only gone through KDP so far - I'm concentrating on just doing the actual writing. I'm almost done drafting the sequel to Eden Plague, called The Demon Plagues. I'm shooting for 5-6 books a year; I figure at a certain point two things will happen as their curves intersect. One, I'll reach a "high enough" standard of writing, whatever that is. and more importantly two, I'll have enough work out there to develop a self-sustaining following as I add books and series.

After the Plagues series I have two series in outline form (dramatis personae, setting, initial story). I'd like to hear what anyone here thinks - as in, what sounds more intersting to you the fanboy or fangirl:

One is a sail-and-planet alternate history series. There have been many mostly land/army based books and series like this - Lost Legion, Belisarius, Legion of Videssos, things like that - but none I know of based on the classic age of fighting sail a la Hornblower, Ramage, Aubrey/Maturin. The premise is that a convoy of ships in pirate-ridden waters of the Carribbean around 1820 gets sent to another planet by the obligatory strange electrical storm (see: Islands in the Sea of Time). So you have the classic sea adventure juxtaposed with a sort of Burroughs-like fantasy/low-steampunk, different races and new pulp technologies, etc. Eventually it will actually move into pulp-space (the Aether) flying ships among the moons and planets of the system.

The other is a more traditional space opera/space war series, with elements of things like Ender's Game, Honor Harrington, BSG, Berserker, etc. It starts off with the classic "infant human empire runs into the conquering race" trope, finding allies, desperate fights for survival, etc. with a set of 17-year-old twins (boy and girl) as the main characters to start, so we can follow them as young officers as they grow into command of starships, etc. I'm hoping to at least skim some of the young adult market with this, not sure yet.
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Unread 16th of July, 2012, 22:40
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“ Originally Posted by Wired*Nun # The premise is that a convoy of ships in pirate-ridden waters of the Carribbean around 1820 gets sent to another planet by the obligatory strange electrical storm (see: Islands in the Sea of Time). So you have the classic sea adventure juxtaposed with a sort of Burroughs-like fantasy/low-steampunk, different races and new pulp technologies, etc. Eventually it will actually move into pulp-space (the Aether) flying ships among the moons and planets of the system. ”
It's not exactly that story but Chris Roberson's "Set the Seas On Fire" has a similar idea of taking "real" sailors and transporting them. It's sort of a prequel to "Paragaea" but with better pacing and writing, I think.

That said, it's not quite what you're planning, and what you are planning interests me a great deal.
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Unread 17th of July, 2012, 12:22
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Okay, one vote for the Sail and Planet. It's actually the one that interests me the most at the moment. I also have a grand dream to write both series then do a crossover of a sort, all kind of fuzzy right now but I can imagine the conversations between the 23rd-century naval officer and his 18th-century counterpart as they visit each others' ships.

"What they hell are they doing?"

"An officer and gentleman doesn't use such language on the quarterdeck, Commander. The bosun is preparing to carry out punishment."

"Punishment? That man's being tied up there to the structure."

"It's called being 'seized to the grate.' He is about to receive twelve lashes for failing to show proper respect."

"Lashes? You mean he's going to be flogged? How barbaric! What kind of a navy are you running here, Captain?"

"Mind your tone, Commander. How do you punish people in your navy?"

"It can range from extra duty, to taking away their pay, to imprisonment."

"Taking their pay away? Imprisonment? Depriving him of his hard-earned silver, and the sea and the air and his mates, like a common criminal? How barbaric! What kind of navy do you run back home, Commander? With our way, twelve stripes and he's done, the slate is clean and he learns his lesson. And he's still a useful seaman. Your way and he's useless for the duration. Do you think languishing in irons is likely to make a good sailor of him again? No, sir, your way would not do at all. Imprisonment for a common sailor's offense...dear God, what has the human race become?" The Captain turns to the taffrail, shuddering.

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 17th of July, 2012 at 12:37.
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  #31  
Unread 22nd of August, 2012, 07:24
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For anyone who reads e-books via Kindle or Kindle reader (free for your PC) my first novel The Eden Plague is free this upcoming weekend, 25 and 26 August. Just go to Amazon at this link
http://www.amazon.com/Eden-Plague-Wa...dp/B008EMKJ6Q/
on one of those days and download it for free.

This coincides with the release of my second novel, The Demon Plagues.
http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Plagues-...dp/B008ZUQDPS/

Thanks again for the plot help for those that gave it, and thanks to the admins for running the site that hosted my games for years.

- Dave VanDyke
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  #32  
Unread 25th of October, 2012, 01:49
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So hey, can we co-opt this thread for other writing too? itches did, but that doesn't count.

I've been working on a master's project for the past few months (one reason I've only poked my nose in here a few times). It's gone from the beginnings of a novel to a self-contained short story. It's almost there--especially since the deadline to schedule my defense is coming up in a week or so, and I have to have that done quickly, giving my profs 10 working days to read the last draft and listen to me expound on it.

I've posted it up to a page on a disused Wordpress blog I have laying around. I'd appreciate any feedback (here, or I think comments can be made on the page itself). Things I'm particularly looking for:

-Plot and pacing issues.
-Characterization; how does everyone come through? Are there still too many people in this story?
-Protagonist's POV: Working? Where is it strong, where is it weak?
-Poke at basic grammar, word choice, sentence construction, any confusing bits. I've been working on that, but with constant editing and revising, I'm bound to have missed things.
-Is it an actually enjoyable story, flaws aside?

It's currently around 8,800 words (or, in MS Word, 30 pgs double spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman font, 1 in margins). I want to keep it around that length, if not a tad shorter. One of the criteria is that it should be of sellable length, and right now it's on the long side of short story.

I'm not looking for in depth literary criticism (though that could be cool) or professional copy editing (again, handy if someone does know it), but feedback from someone outside myself and my committee would be useful, I think, to see how it works (or doesn't) and what can be altered to actually appeal to casual readers.

Last edited by LynMars; 25th of October, 2012 at 02:12.
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  #33  
Unread 27th of October, 2012, 00:47
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I went to that link, I printed it out and read it on the train yesterday and today while I thought some thoughts.

Then I went and left it on my desk at work, so no feedback from me.
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  #34  
Unread 29th of October, 2012, 21:39
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I always feel bad when I provide creative feedback for someone. It's like I'm telling someone that that they suck, and then going on to provide reasons why. So anyway, this may be too late to be of any help to you, and it's not too involved (I didn't feel like moving it to a word doc and adding notes) but it's going here anyway.

Overall it isn't bad, you have a decent setting and go about revealing the world in way that doesn't frustrate or confuse the reader. What's more, until the very end of it, you have an engaging plot. The plot is the most important thing, so long as the reader wants to find out what happens next a lot can be forgiven.

For the most part your characters seem consistent and are easy to tell apart. Decker does seem like a bit of a dick at the end, compare to Dr Sims seeming to be saintly. Decker barking threats while Sims heals everyone is what pushes it that way. And the issue of Jon deciding to shoot some random girl isn't really addressed, it doesn't need to be addressed but it would be nice if the fact that it wasn't was lampshaded.

Also you need to scrap Dr White. She comes into the story at the 11th hour, doesn't contribute anything and then is gone again, which only makes for one more character that the reader has to keep track of. Sims also comes in late, but he has an entrance via Korett and actually does something.

And it does become a bit fragmented and obscure towards the end, as seen in the confusing mess of notes. The only other thing is the way you make a lot of short, blunt, statement sentences. There are examples in the mess behind the button in the next post (broke the spoiler button).
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Unread 29th of October, 2012, 21:43
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[pretend there is a spoiler button here]
“ A man’s body lay in the middle of the little forest campsite. ”
Is this meant to be present tense? Past tense? It threw me off.

“ Nora’s greeting shout faded into the air. She stared. ”
You use a lot of short, broken statement sentence instead of letting them run on. It really broke up the flow of the reading, and is very dry and detached, which is a big problem right at the start of a story when you're trying to grab the reader. More on this later.

“ “Back away, back away!” Decker’s deep voice ordered above the clamor of hoof beats. ”
Where did Decker come from? Was he there from the start, following along behind with Helan and Tarver, or behind even them. Also, who is Decker?

“ Helan poked Nora’s arm. [...] The girls followed. Nora kept her eyes on Tarver’s tall, thin shadow. ”
This is a prime example of the short cut down sentences. You keep repeating X does 1. Y does 2. Z does 3. It's all, insert Tab A into Slot B and turn to the left. Let us in the characters head, or let the descriptions flow from the narrative.

“ She wished sometimes that she had Sara’s glossy black hair. ”
She sometimes wished that? She wished, sometimes, that?

“ Tarver led them to a lone boulder along the riverbank, within sight of the sleeping herds. He scrambled to the top, finally noticing the girls. After a moment’s hesitation, he offered a hand to both. Nora smiled up at him. “Thanks.” ”
It might just be a thing I do instead of a rule, but I've always made it a point to swap to a new paragraph/line when a new character speaks. "Thanks," Nora smiles up at him.

“ He smiled back. “Anytime, Nora.” ”
Like this, but the other way around.

“ “Genson couldn’t have frozen. That doesn’t make sense,” Tarver said [...] “But we saw him,” Nora countered. ”
This one is the worst of it, you have two different characters talking without a break between them. Keep the voices seperate.

“ “Dogs dream,” Helan said. [...] They look like they’re dancing; maybe you could dance with them from the mountain.” ”
Semi colons in dialogue is the work of the devil. The Devil!

“ Tarver made a “hrm” noise. ”
I'm questioning the use of ... speech marks (I forget what they're called) here when it isn't actually speech.

“ It was true; fires dotted the sheer cliff faces, glimmering in the night. ”
You later establish that they are cold white lights, which fire does not look like. You may want to consider brining that information up from there to this point so you're giving the reader the right picture from the start.

“ They walked back to the sputtering lights of home, waiting at the Welland cabin until [...] ”
Who's cabin? You don't mention Nora's last name by this point. Just say it's Nora's cabin.

“ It was colder this morning than it had been in the previous week ”
Now I'm really nit picking. Does that 'in' need to be there? It was colder this morning than it had been the previous week.

“ Jon grinned, but it was a fake, as he swatted her hand away. ”
A fake or faked?

“ She missed Jon’s old, goofy smiles. Her brother and his childhood buddies had found inventive ways to ditch and ignore Nora when she’d tried to tag along on their adventures, or they’d use her in some schemes that required her small size, like slipping through a fence to retrieve lost balls. To be fair, though, he never let her get in too much trouble.

Then came the fevers that swept over Havens’ crowded farm communities. Out of all their relatives, Aunt Sara survived and took the siblings in. A distant cousin took over all of the family lands. Sara, Jon, and Nora joined Decker’s group heading east the next season. That was five years ago. Since then, Jon had gotten serious and watchful. It got worse when he came of age and started riding the herds with the other men. Nora wished he remembered being young.
”
If you're looking to cut it down, look at this part of the story. The back story of how they ended with Sara can be trimmed down a lot, if not all together, without changing the story.

“ She came to an open bank by the river. It ran narrower here, with a natural dam of stones breaking the flow and creating a slick bridge. The sun was higher in the sky, and the mists slowly dissipated. It would soon be too warm for the coat. The water rushed too fast around and over the rocks, the warm days melting the early snow higher in the mountains. In the winter, the frozen river would be easier to cross, making for a quick trip to the ruins.

Nora found another trail leading back to the south. A blue jay fought with a squirrel on a branch overhead. A family of grey-brown rabbits nibbled on clovers only a few feet away, unafraid. It must have been one of the scholar’s paths, given how well walked it was. Nora noted a few plants they hadn’t grown this summer. Many were already past use; a few late blooms did go into her workbag. These few wild herbs would keep Sara from stressing, and nothing was worse than her aunt stressing.
”
Again, how much of this actually contributes to the story? Or is it just padding? It's nice padding, but if it isn't directly helping ...

“ Past time to go home. She had plenty of berries, and a few other herbs. ”
Let your sentences flow. Floooooow. "It was past time to go home, she had plenty of berries and a few other herbs."

“ Nora pushed aside the strands of the willow. She stopped, one foot raised.

There was a ghost on the path.

Her heartbeat thrummed in her ears. Her fingers cramped as she gripped the willow.
”
I'd also give serious consideration to merging some of the single line paragraphs in this section together. Having one stand on it's own makes for good emphasis, but you lose that when there are so many of them.

“ It was a good five inches taller than Nora. It was thicker than she was, too. ”
"It was a good fine inches taller than Nora, thicker than she was too."

“ Ghosts in stories were wispy, transparent bits of fog. This was a person ”
This part is jarring and seems like a big jump. When did Nora realise the difference, why isn't this realisation shown?

“ Where would the scholar have been hiding all this time? ”
Would or could?

“ She inched closer to the main path. While staring at the ghost, her feet caught on a root. Nora’s ankle twisted under her. She cried out as she fell. ”
Neither of us want me to just rewrite your prose, but this is a prime example of the short cut up sentences. Try for something closer to: "She inched closer to the main path, so focused on staring at the ghost that her foot caught on a root. Nora's ankle twisted under her and she cried out as she fell."

“ The figure spoke, its voice muffled. The person held its silver box toward Nora. ”
Figure or person? Don't change them around unless it's something major, like understanding the ghost is a person.

“ Nora stared. The girl stared back. ”
This one is a good use of your sentence structure and stand alone paragraphs.

“ “The best place is by Genson’s camp,” she said as she tended the Stanners’ colicky baby. ”
Who are the Stanners? Can't it just be a colicky baby?

“ Nora could see Tarver laugh at something Helan said, her arms swaying to emphasize her story. ”
Why is this here? It feels like she should have some sort of reaction or opinion to it, but nothing.

“ Nora didn’t slow down until she was safely in the woods, away any prying eyes. ”
Away from any prying eyes.

“ “Frozen?” Korett’s voice was sharp, and she looked between the spot on the ground and Nora. “Oh no…” she said to herself. ”
Why can Nora understand "Oh no"?

“ “He was my friend,” Korett said. “Taught me your new language. I keep it secret. But…” she shook her head. ”
This is another part where your short cut off sentences work. It does carry across the sense of someone using a second language.

“ Korett turned back to Nora. “We thought we were the last people. He called the war ‘the Upheaval.’” ”
Capital T The Upheaval?

“ When she moved, Jon fired.

The cycle fired back.

Both girl and man fell to the ground.
”
Again, the short cut off statement style works here. It makes it seem immediate. You just don't want that everywhere.

“ Korett tried to reach for the EMD, but the bullet was still inside her. ”
Is this past or present tense? Korett had tried to reach for the EMB, but...

“ Nora spoke rapidly, looking to the path out of the camp leading north, through the willows. ”
Are the willows important?

“ “Nora, go,” Sara said, calm. “Get their tech if you can. Decker, shut up and drive, I must operate as soon as possible. Or we’ll have a dead girl from the mountain people.” ”
This just seems like a weird way of saying it. I must, I have to, I need to. And merge the next sentence into it, it should be part of the same breath.

“ Balancing each other, moving far too slowly, they made it across. Nora slipped once on a mossy stone; Tarver’s arm caught her and pulled her back up, with no more than a thoroughly wet leg. ”
I don't know about this. It started flowing well, but then became awkward. And not in the fun 'A cute boy is holding my hand' way.

“ I could give you ways to prevent others from getting sick,” he told Sara. “With you here, though, it could be even worse for my people. So many germs out here we don’t know how to deal with, or have immunity to anymore.” ”
Why is Sara being there worse for his people? What he's saying needs to be clearer.

“ “Decker,” Genson said. “I want to go back, there’s more to learn, and we can—“ ”
Why is Genson asking permission? He seemed like he wasn't actually a part of the settlement, he was there before them after all.

“ Then he sighed. “Then again, a lotta folks likely woulda done something stupid sooner. Your brother was just a scared kid. But them…” He gestured at the window. ”
Again, what is he trying to say?

“ “What will happen?” Nora asked. “They lived here first. Sleeping, sure, but they didn’t expect to find us here when they woke up.” ”
Right on the heels of the other one. What is she asking? What is going to happen in the future now that the two groups are aware of each other?

“ One of the guards secured a mask over Korett’s face as she coughed and sneezed again. ”
Into the mask? Eeeww

“ Helan was walking across the street; she saw Nora and turned away. ”
Why? That was random, and not in the weird Helan way we've come to expect.

“ “It’s a mistake,” Nora said. ”
What's a mistake? She doesn't have to say it, but she should think it, otherwise it seems like she's talking about people turning away from her and whispering stories.
[/pretend there is a spoiler button here]
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  #36  
Unread 30th of October, 2012, 12:52
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You caught some things my other proofreader didn't, and made some other suggestions. Thanks. it's still relevant enough, as I'm panicking about this and it's making it hard to finish. Which it needs to, this week, the sooner the better.

It feels like the more I revise and the more I write, the worse it gets, when it should be smoothing out. At least this is almost over and I can stop pretending I'm a writer soon >.>
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Unread 30th of October, 2012, 13:41
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My comments should be taken with the understanding that my highest level of education was a decade ago when I failed highschool. Twice.

“ It feels like the more I revise and the more I write, the worse it gets, when it should be smoothing out. ”
There is such a thing as over editing. What's the saying, you never actually finish writing a story, you just eventually stop.

But no time for that, you have a week? PANIC HARDER!
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Unread 30th of October, 2012, 21:45
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I think it's time to stop on this one. I'm calling it good and sending it in and scheduling my defense. Thanks for the input itches, you caught some things my other proofreaders caught and agreed on, and saw other things they missed.

I've updated the version on my page, so you can take a look to see what it looks like with 3 fewer characters and about 1,000 fewer words (at least 5 pgs slimmer). My other proofreader was big on trying to kill my passive voice and excessive pronouns. I didn't take every single suggestion thrown at me, but quite a lot were implemented.
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Unread 30th of October, 2012, 22:03
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“ My other proofreader was big on trying to kill my passive voice and excessive pronouns. ”
I'm going to be honest with you here. I don't actually know what a pronoun is.
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Unread 31st of October, 2012, 16:25
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Pronoun: He/him/her/she/it/this/who/these/them and so on. "Used as replacements or substitutes for nouns and noun phrases, and that have a very general reference."

For some reason, I was using a lot of passive voice + pronouns in that previous draft. probably all the editing.
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Unread 30th of November, 2012, 14:52
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Wow, nice hijack Lyn! It's what I get for leaving for so long, .

Just thought I'd drop in and say hello.

Hello.

And let everyone know I have published the third novel in my sci-fi series.

Here's the link to my Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/David-VanDyke/e/B008EZHPC4/

You can see all the books from there, and there are links to my blog etc. if anyone's interested.

If you e-mail me at my website address, dave(at)davidvandyke.org I will send anyone here free review copies, so don't feel you have to buy any of them.

Cheers!

Last edited by Wired*Nun; 30th of November, 2012 at 14:55.
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Unread 30th of November, 2012, 18:31
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Any plans to actually get it on paper at some point?
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Unread 2nd of December, 2012, 03:10
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“ Originally Posted by itches # Any plans to actually get it on paper at some point? ”
My wife (my agent, marketer and all-around helper) is trying to get my books loaded on CreateSpace, Amazon's print-on-demand service. Unfortuantely it's clunky and quirky; most people just pay a service to do it but she is determined to conquer it.

But you can get the Kindle Reader for your PC from Amazon for free, to read ebooks.
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Unread 10th of December, 2012, 21:56
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Okay I need help. I'm trying to describe this dress and failing. My first attempt to do so was such a jumbled mess that even someone who know what I was describing got confused.
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Unread 11th of December, 2012, 01:53
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1950's style women's kitchen wear. The kind of thing that Mrs. Cleaver would wear while baking pies for Wally and the Beaver.
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Unread 11th of December, 2012, 07:55
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That's a list of names I don't recognise.
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Unread 11th of December, 2012, 09:17
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Can you just go with '50s house dress?
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  #48  
Unread 11th of December, 2012, 09:36
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1950's tv show called "Leave it to Beaver." Google is your friend.

Edit - How about Stepford Wives?

Last edited by Mercutio; 11th of December, 2012 at 09:42.
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  #49  
Unread 11th of December, 2012, 11:18
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itches your ignorance of western culture is appalling.
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Unread 11th of December, 2012, 14:54
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“ Originally Posted by zachol itches your ignorance of western culture is appalling. ”
A foreign TV show from when my grandparents were children? Shocking I didn't recognise it. Relying on pop-culture osmosis for descriptors can easily fall short, as we just demonstrated. 50’s-ish is helpful, but not on it’s own. I need to actually describe it. This is what I used for a different outfit in the same scene.

“ They had it on display with a black taffeta over skirt, and full length black petticoat, paired with (silverish) sixteen-button black silk gloves. The corset was a steel boned, black, over-bust, front and back lacing, with black (of course) satin panels that had celtic knot detailing. Put together the entire thing was an over the top gothic stereotype, impractical, stupid and totally gorgeous. ”
I’m also aware that a male dominated culture like we have here may not be the best place to ask this.
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