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1. Have an original plot.

If every book was the same, we'd get bored with them pretty quick. Variety is what gives that special spice. Try to come up with a story that's entirely your own. If your work is based off another work, however loosely, make sure you use your own style. Don't just repeat what someone else has already written. Nobody likes a copycat, and you could face an unpleasant lawsuit that way.

2. Have a good title.

If you want people to read your book, you'll need a title that will catch their eye. Make it exciting, but keep it brief, too. Don't make your title so long that it wears the reader down. Try to stay within the limit of ten words. If you have trouble inventing a title, go through your story and decide what the main theme is, what it is in that story that really stands out.  

3. Make your characters as believable as possible.

The characters are what make the story a story. You learn about them, sympathize with them, and hate them. They make you laugh and cry. They fill you with joy, sadness, fear, and disgust. A good character is one that you can relate to. They have strengths and weaknesses, like you do. They grow and develop; they actually learn something as the story progresses. Avoid Mary Sues and Gary Stus—characters who are perfect, in essentially every aspect. They have everything going on for them; everything turns out in their favor. They have no need to change or grow throughout the story. That's unconvincing, and boring.

4. Have a catchy introduction.

"Once upon a time, there lived a pretty little girl, in a pretty white house…"

Oh, come on, you can do better than that, can't you? "Once upon a time" is the oldest intro in the book. Go for something a little more creative, something that really attracts the reader's attention. Give your audience a good reason for continuing with the story. You could start by expressing regret, anger, surprise, or joy for something that had happened, or someone can say something very interesting, like this: "You're not serious about this, are you, Jill?"

Now that's an excellent way to start off a book; it makes the audience wonder what's going on, and what will happen next.

5. Give your characters something to do.

A good plot is one of the most essential ingredients in story-telling. Your characters must do something; they must have a problem that's big enough to last throughout the story, and it must be something important and exciting. For example, two girls struggling to decide which dress they ought to wear for the upcoming school dance isn't much of a problem, and isn't very entertaining. However, two girls struggling to survive on a desert island after they've been shipwrecked is a very big problem, and therefore a great deal more thrilling. Whatever the dilemma is, whether life-threatening or not, make sure it's something that can be worked out; make sure the characters can actually do something about the situation.

6. Be careful of sentence length.

This is where an author is apt to make the biggest boo-boos. A sentence may be too long, too short, too wordy, or entirely unrelated to the story. Take especial care in this area; say what you must, but don't ramble. Don't drown your readers in an ocean of words. Stick to the point. Use "and" and "then" sparingly. Use nouns and pronouns wisely. Avoid using too many adjectives, such as: "He was the most vulgar, insolent, impudent, boorish, crude, disrespectful, distasteful, insufferable man I'd ever had the misfortune to meet." Only one or two adjectives should be enough, three at the most.

Don't say the same thing twice, such as: "She moved quietly and silently through the haunted house." "Quietly" and "silently" stand for the same word, and that's a mark against you.

Avoid one and two-word sentences as well, if you can help it. Try to maintain an equal balance of long and short phrases.

7. Use paragraphs properly.

You'd have a much more difficult time reading something if it was all bunched together. That's why we use paragraphs. Paragraphs, in short, mean organization. Many writers have no idea when and how to use paragraphs. With some exceptions, one paragraph should be at least three sentences long, and should not exceed seven lines.

You always make a new paragraph when something changes in your story. You make a new paragraph when the time, place, and action changes, or when the speaker changes. Two quotes by two different people must always be on separate lines, like this:

    "Mom, can I go to the movies with Kelly? Please?" I offered my best puppy-dog look.
    "Oh, all right—" The words had barely left my mother's mouth, and I immediately scooted out the door before she could change her mind.


8. Use good spelling.

There is no question about it: if you wish to be a writer, you must know how to spell properly. It is much more difficult to understand misspelled words; in some cases, it's like trying to make sense of a foreign language. Avoid text talk (THAT'S GR8, C U L8R) at all costs. Maintain a healthy vocabulary, but don't sound like you've butchered a thesaurus. Don't use excessively long, complex words, just to sound smart. If you have difficulty with big words, use a dictionary, or a spell-checker on a computer.

9. Use good grammar.

You will save yourself and your readers the headache if you maintain proper grammar skills. Good grammar helps a story flow much more smoothly. Always capitalize the first letter in a name, and at the beginning of every sentence. Know where to put commas and semicolons. Always use quotation marks whenever someone is talking, and always end a sentence with a period, or some other appropriate mark. One common mistake of authors is:

"I can't believe this." He said with a jaded sigh.

In this case, you use a comma at the end, not a period. And you don't capitalize "he". This is the right way to do it:

"I can't believe this," he said with a jaded sigh.

Another common error is the misuse of words that sound the same: there, their, here, hear, affect, effect. These errors are extremely easy to miss, especially since a spell-checker can't pick them up. Remember the differences between these words, such as how "there" means a certain location, while "their" refers to a group.

When you're talking of more than one thing, be careful of how you use "s" and "es". Also, watch your apostrophes. Apostrophes are used to show possession; you place the apostrophe before the "s" to show singular possession, or, in other words, if it's the possession of one person. If it's plural possession, or more than one person, you place the apostrophe after the "s". For example:

I want to check out Mr. Archibald's new apricot trees.

Whoa, look at that boy's cool hat!

Do you want to try out for the girls' basketball team?


When dealing with the possessive form of names that end with an "s", it's not always required to add a second "s", though it is preferred. Like this:

I promised to tend to Mrs. Jones's flowers while she was away on vacation.

10. Have a satisfying ending.

Not every story ends with "happily ever after". In fact, try to avoid using that kind of ending, if you can help it. The ending is where the loose ends of the story should be tied up. It must provide answers to questions that were asked at the beginning. Your ending doesn't always have to be a particularly happy one, but it should end on a satisfactory note. For instance, the character can be at peace with the world, or two opposing characters can reach a compromise. Your ending may contain a note of hope, or some little piece of truth. You may even end on a surprising note; the "element of surprise" often wraps up a story very nicely.
I'm not the world's most perfect writer, but these are the tips I'd learned throughout my life that proved to be essential. If you want to write, make sure that you get it right!

NOTE: You can also view this as a news article: [link]
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:iconraven-of-rome:
Raven-of-Rome Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Writer
These are definitely good tips to keep in mind when you write. Thank you very much for uploading them.
It it's not too much of a bother- Would you mind explaining the whole 's' and apostrophes rule? I'm not a native English speaker, so that has me rather confused.
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:iconsonicranger-1:
SonicRanger-1 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
My gosh! Where were you all my life!?!? I wish I could have read this when I first started out writing. I know and apply all of those points now after about ten years of writing, but 12 yr old me could really have used it. Sweating a little... She did every one of these wrong. Giggle 
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2015
Oh well, you learn from your mistakes.
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:iconsonicranger-1:
SonicRanger-1 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed! =D
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:iconkiramaru7:
kiramaru7 Featured By Owner May 25, 2015
I like this. I wish more aspiring writers would take a few minutes to read it. They should also take the time to read published authors form the classics to contemporary authors. The more you read, the more you get a sense of how to write. :D

As for original plot, it's what you do with a plot that makes it your own and original. Since romance as a genre can be boiled down to Character A meets Character B and they fall in love, it's the backgrounds of the characters, the setting,  and what happens on the way to falling in love that makes my story different from yours. For example, I wrote a short story (that happens to be a fanfic) about a teen pregnancy where everything ended up "happily ever after" mainly cuz I set it in the late fifties & I wanted it to end that way, cuz I wanted a loss of innocence, yet a hope for the future. My friend, who I write the story for, loved it as she woudl have taken the same premise, teen pregnancy, & even the same characters, since it was a fanfic, & it woudl have ended badly. You could have taken the same thing and made it end more in the middle of the two.


Titles & summaries are hard, but a title should come at the end when you're finished with your story. Maybe make that more clear, since someone skimming your article might think you need that first. :XD:


I couldn't agree more with #3. Also I woudl add, try making the characters' names more normal. As awesome as a character named "Rayne" might be, I woudl relate to her a lot more if her name was "Anna" cuz chances are I know someone named "Anna." ;p let's take "Star wars" for example, even though Mr. Lucas named the characters in his world with some pretty exotic names like "Han Solo," "Bobba Fett," "Jabba the Hutt" to name a few, he gave the hero of the story a very normal sounding first name, which makes it relatable despite the exotic surname: "Luke Skywalker."


While you do want to draw readers in with your opening line, "Once upon a time" does work if you're writing a fairy tale. ;p


I agree with giving your characters something to do, but some stories are more character driven than plot driven. So the plot can be simplistic, if the characters are interesting enough. Also "curtain fic"/"slice of life" has no real plot as it's just a glimpse into a character's/characters' life/lives. So making a cup of coffee doesn't have to be an adventure, unless you want it to be. ;p


The only thing I can say about sentence length id to avoid run-ons as well as fragments. Personally, I find fragmented sentences more annoying to read than run-ons, unless the run-on is a paragraph unto itself. ^^; Avoiding repeating one's self is good advice as well as letting the readers use their imagination while reading, instead of hitting them over the head with a ton of description in the form of adjectives. :XD: Avoiding purple prose is good too. ;p


Thank you for the examples about paragraphs using dialogue! So many times, I've come across fics where the author shoved everything into the same paragraph, with only the quotes pointing out that someone else is speaking. :XD: I usually get blank stared when I point that out, or "DA ate my formatting" and if I believed that, that author ahs a bridge they want to sell me too. ;p


Good spelling and grammar are a must! The only time you can fudge grammar is in speech, cuz let's face it, native speakers don't always speak with perfect grammar. Taht said, you still need proper grammar around it: quotes and punctuation.


Knowing when to stop is important. *looks at fanfics that are 100+ chapters long* The average book has 10, 20 chapters, although there are exceptions. If the author has more to say about those character, they will write a sequel. The ended should fit the story. If you're planning on writing a sequel, then open ended is fine, cuz in the next sotory, you can some of the unanswered questions, or take it in a direction that someone never expected. Leaving it as a cliff-hanger without resolving it, or leaving gaping plotholes can leave a reader feeling cheated. They invested time in reading it, the least one can do as an author is end things properly, eh? :D


Anyway, I really enjoyed your article! If I didn't, I wouldn't feel the need to comment. :D
Reply
:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 25, 2015
Thank you! Your comment means a lot. :aww: I know I'm not a perfect writer, but these are some valuable tips I learned that I personally believe would serve any aspiring writer well.
Reply
:iconkiramaru7:
kiramaru7 Featured By Owner May 26, 2015
You're welcoem! :D

Neither am I, but these are really good tips. I wish I had this when I first started writing. :D I had to figure out a lot of this on my own. :XD:
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 27, 2015
It also helps to take advice. Obviously, you can't take everyone's advice, but it would be worth your while to consider at least some of it.

One of my professors once told me that he'd have been a better writer much sooner if he took better advantage of the advice he got.
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:iconkiramaru7:
kiramaru7 Featured By Owner May 28, 2015
It would have been nice if I got advice when I first started writing form more experienced authors.

And he's right, but like I said, if you don't get it, you cant take it. ^^; Even now, I get very little feedback on my writing. :XD:
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 30, 2015
Would you like some feedback now?
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:iconkiramaru7:
kiramaru7 Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2015
Thank you, but only if you feel like reading me stuff. Honestly it was not a cry for reviews/feedback. ^^; I was just stating a fact. :XD:
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:iconmodji-33:
modji-33 Featured By Owner May 2, 2015
looks great; esp the 'write a good intro-line point', ill read this after work thx :)
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 2, 2015
Always glad to be of service. :thanks:
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:iconawesomely-happy-hero:
Awesomely-Happy-Hero Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hmm... one thought. I think a good way to show when it is required to add an extra "s" for the possessive form of names that end with "s", is to check if it adds an actual "s" sound. For instance, "Jones's" would naturally be said "Jonesizz". However, if you tried to say "Mary Poppinsizz" is would probably sound weird, which is why you write "Mary Poppins'" instead.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2014
I guess you could be flexible. Just don't get carried away.
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:iconawesomely-happy-hero:
Awesomely-Happy-Hero Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hmm... I dunno about flexible, I just always thought it was an actual grammar rule? And, of course, you have to remember to add an apostrophe after the S on words like Mary Poppins' to indicate a possessive.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014
This is one of the trickier aspects of grammar.
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:iconawesomely-happy-hero:
Awesomely-Happy-Hero Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ah, I must agree on that. XD
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2014
Sometimes even I have to look up a rule or two to make sure I've got it right.
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:iconscriptium:
scriptium Featured By Owner May 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the tips! These will definitely come in handy as I write more stories! c:
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
Mel Mather's Writing Tutorial, at your service! :salute:
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:iconthethirdreviewer:
TheThirdReviewer Featured By Owner May 8, 2012   General Artist
I presume this is going to come in handy for me! Thanks for writing it.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 9, 2012
Welcome, my friend. Glad to be of service. :salute:
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:iconthethirdreviewer:
TheThirdReviewer Featured By Owner May 10, 2012   General Artist
Yes, you are helpful. I am still very grateful.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 29, 2012
And you are most welcome.
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:icononyxsturm:
OnyxSturm Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011  Student Writer
Very nice tips, especially #10. Bout time someone agreed not every ending has to be a happy one.

--
You have encountered a Wespe Blitz.
A.) Die screaming
B.) Die crying
C.) All of the above
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011
I prefer a happy ending as much as the next person, but I've seen sad endings that are done very well.
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:iconstumpythestump:
StumpyTheStump Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011  Student Writer
This is great, but I have a question about this part: "I can't believe this." He said with a jaded sigh.
In this case, you use a comma at the end, not a period. And you don't capitalize "he". This is the right way to do it: "I can't believe this," he said with a jaded sigh.

Why is that?
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011
Because that's improper grammar. In all the good books I've read, none of them were written like that.
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:iconstumpythestump:
StumpyTheStump Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011  Student Writer
Well, yes, but I wanted to know why it's improper and when to utilize it.
Reply
:icondoloriferousfrost:
DoloriferousFrost Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
The 'he said with a jaded sigh' (quotation marks for quotations; 'quote' is the verb, not the name) is explaining how the speech was delivered: it's an adverbial phrase. Just like an adverb describes a verb, so does an adverbial phrase describe the speech. An adverb is always in the same sentence as its verb, which means that the adverbial phrase is also required to be in the same sentence as the speech it's describing.

Full-stops are always the end of a sentence, so if the closing speech mark ("x") is preceded by a full-stop, this is the end of the sentence. Therefore the adverbial phrase cannot be applied to it. 

Examples:
#1 Comma and adverbial phrase:
                       ' "Rub this in," the nurse chimed. "It'll soothe the pain." '
#2 Full-stop and separate sentence:
                       ' "Rub this in." The nurse handed Betty the cream. "It'll soothe the pain." '


However, if question/exclamation marks or interrobangs precede the closing speech mark, this does not always end the sentence. They are, after all, punctuation that describes how the speech was delivered; as this is what the adverbial phrases do, an adverbial phrase can follow one of these punctuation marks. These punctuation marks can act to end a sentence, too.

Examples:
#1 Question mark and adverbial phrase:  
                        ' "Could you shut the window?" asked Betty with a sigh.'

#2 Question mark and separate sentence:
                        ' "Could you shut the window?" She rubbed her sore ankle, sighing. '
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 8, 2012
Maybe this will help explain it better: [link]
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:icondarknie222:
darknie222 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2011
Thanks, the only problame i still have i am bad in name's and i am a dutch guy with only many 7 (verry easy) and 6's so my spell is not so good to. at last of all this i got a begin plot but its a litle hazy so however thank you for this and has anybady a small story idea (sci-fi)
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2011
Just keep working at it.
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:icondarknie222:
darknie222 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2011
i understand what you mean but i need inspiration, i have watchd many movies but all amarican movies are almost the same (no origanel plot). so need to make it smaller whats verry small besouse there not much sci-fi movies with there own great ideas, only one i can get in my head now is star wars, Charakters are easy. then i use mivies with there unic characters like pirates of the carribean.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011
Becoming a good writer does not take place overnight. It took me many years to get to where I'm at, and even now there's plenty of room for improvement. No doubt I'll never write a perfectly flawless story that everybody will love, but I hope to write a story that I can read without flinching too much.
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:icondarknie222:
darknie222 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2011
sure not evrybody will love the same story becouse evryone is unic, thanks for this usefull infomation, goodluck with your own writing
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2011
Thank you. If you're ever interested in reading my book, I'll be sure to let everybody know when it's out.
Reply
:icondarknie222:
darknie222 Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2011
only thing have to know before i read a story is:
were is it about
is the begning slow

just tell me when its out
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner May 8, 2012
You'll know.
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:iconjaison-krishna:
jaison-krishna Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011
I'm definitely gonna keep these in mind.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2011
Thank you. I won't claim to be the world's best writer, but these tips have come in handy for me.
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:iconkenliano:
Kenliano Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Interesting read and good points.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2011
Thank you!
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:iconcrownclown13:
CrownClown13 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2011
Thank you for the advice.
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2011
Glad to be of help.
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:icongoddessoftheforest:
goddessoftheforest Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!!! Sadly I have several friends who break one or two of these rules constantly when we're roleplaying, and as I like saving the posts from our IM conversations I often have to spend hours at a time correcting their mistakes and sometimes even re-writing some of their material so it makes sense. :stupidme:

For the actual article you posted here though, I offer you my sincerest applause. :clap:
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011
Thank you very much. Many aspirant writers would do so well if they'd just follow the rules.
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:icongoddessoftheforest:
goddessoftheforest Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Agreed!
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:iconunicorn-skydancer08:
unicorn-skydancer08 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2011
Even Stephenie Meyer made a boo-boo in some of these areas.
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