1. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Is this a good plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by FrozenLady, May 7, 2015.

    I am thinking to start a historical novel and I have got a plot but I needed some opinions about it.

    Gineke is 19 years old Belgian girl living few miles away from the German border in an old mansion. Her family is able to escape but somehow she is trapped and Nazis come in. She is horrified, she hates Colonel Georg but his chivalrous gestures soon won her over. However, as he is a Nazi, there's a dark side of him. He has been ordered to eliminate the jews of Belgium and sent the list of their names back to Germany. Gineke had a childhood friend who is jewish named Joshua. One day, she is putting clothes on wire and he comes to her to tell how his family has been brutally murdered by the nazis and that he would kill every German in his way but Georg comes from behind and there is cross firing. Joshua dies. Gineke is furious. Georg is hit on the shoulder. Gineke asks hims if its true or not, that he killed his family or not. Georg lies and assures her that they were just partisans. There are no any such policies against jews. Gineke hesitantly believes him. (I think I am getting into too much detail so I'll summarise it further). After all he sends her back to Berlin and there they get married while Georg is sent back to war Gineke, awaits for him. Georg' ex-girlfriend is not happy about this all. She wants to get rid of her so she complains to SS Force that Gineke is an agent of Britain. Gineke is arrested and is sent to concentration camp. However, she manages to escape. When Georg's girlfriend tell's him about Gineke being sent to the concentration camp, Georg rushes towards Auschwitz.The war is about to end and when he reaches there, he is arrested by the allied troops. Gineke is rescued by her British cousin....I am not writing the other half of the story let it be a mystery yet. (; But what do you think is it a good plot?
     
  2. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    I think it can work, but the beginning has me confused. Why did her family have to escape if they weren't Jewish and why did Gineke get left behind ? How do she and Georg meet ? Is he a Nazi because he's expected to be or because he's a racist ? What does he agree with and where does he draw the line ?

    Historical fiction is tough since I think it's hard to draw the line between realistic and unrealistic. Overall, it needs more development or elaboration for me to give you a full opinion, but it sounds long and interesting, best of luck !
     
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  3. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Actually the plot is quite in the flow, I have just summarised it too much that I missed mentioning some points.

    Gineke lives with her mother and three servants, an elderly woman and one boy and girl. The news of war has affected everyone in the neighbourhood as it did in her household, that some people were even preferring to leave their homes. Gineke's been promised by her English cousin in a letter that he would send a messenger who would safely bring them on british shores. Gineke's mother accepts the invitation. Meanwhile they pack up their things while the boy servant listens to the radio for updates. Its Gineke's 19 birthday, though an inappropriate time for celebration but her mother gives her the music box which her father had brought from Istanbul when she was just a little girl. She takes the music box to her room. Now the door of her room has a problem. Its knob is broken from inside. Once closed, it can only be opened from the outside. Gineke mistakenly closed it and then she calls her maid who rushes to her assistance.

    Night has fallen by then, there are sounds of bombardments at the border and the sky had reddened with smoke. Someone knocks at the door. The family thinks its the Nazis. The elderly maid goes with kitchen knife in her hand towards the door and there she opens it. But its Joshua. Gineke hurriedly comes to him. He tells her if the borders are fallen by night what the German will do to the Jewish population. Gineke assures him that no human being could be that much cruel the village boys must be saying this to annoy him or offend him. Joshua insists its true. And that he has come to bid her farewell. She hugs him and he goes away.

    There's no sign of messenger and night passes on. There had been fight on the border all night long. Just an hour before daybreak the messenger arrives. They put the luggage in the van. The messenger says there's sound of vehicle engines coming from a distance so hurry. All sit in the van but Gineke remembers something, "oh my papa's music box?' She goes upstairs to fetch it and alas by mistake closes the door. And there from the window she cries 'Mama!'

    At the same time the vehicles of the Nazis are now visible in sight and the servants shout to messenger to drive the van. The mother tries to (1/2)
     
  4. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    stop but there is nothing she can do. And this how she is trapped. And you know when a place was occupied by Nazis, the good comfortable homes of that local place were given to Nazi officers for living for a particular period. Gineke was now alone trapped in her room. Two Nazi officers enter the house. (to be continued....)

    If I write how she met Georg it will be too long . His personality is rather very complex one. I will try to explore a Nazi officer's mind back in 1940's. He will not be racist but he is forced by the regime to do so, however, for that Gineke will not forgive him.
     
  5. ZYX
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    ZYX Member

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    Oh, alright, I didn't realize that the Nazis were in her house ! ( Summaries are so hard ... ) I agree, the mind of a Nazi officer is going to be really tough, but definitely interesting to write. I love writing stuff were you get to explore the guilty party ...

    I think you sound like you've got a good foundation ! Good luck !!
     
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  6. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Thank you so much for the nice comments. Yes, I will have to read many biographies of Nazi officers before writing about him and I'll blend some of the traits of my favourite fictional heroes in him. But the most important aspect would be whether he is guilty or not?
     
  7. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Frozen Lady,

    I'm sorry, this doesn't sound very plausible to me.

    1/ I don't buy the "English cousin who sends a messenger", not unless they're EXTREMELY well-connected - as in close to the Royal family.
    2/ I don't believe a 19-year old girl who, with the Germans coming, suddenly remembers her music-box and puts that above survival - and is so stupid that she shuts a self-locking door behind her.
    3/ Why is Georg a Nazi? Most Germans weren't. It was the Wehrmacht (the army) who were responsible for the military conquest of Belgium (and the rest!) and they were career soldiers, who were generally contemptuous of the Nazis. To have reached the rank of Colonel (Oberst in German) he would have served for MANY years, since long before the Nazis came to power - and would be old enough to be Gineke's father, typically 40-50. To have been responsible for the Jewish problem, he would probably have been in the SS, and they had their own rank structure.
    4/ A British spy wouldn't have been sent to a concentration camp. They would have been questioned (extremely unpleasantly!) and then executed.
    5/ And an officer who just ran off and did his own thing in wartime? He'd get shot for desertion! Especially as, by late in the war, the vast majority of the German forces were in Russia.

    I think that it would have been the Gestapo to whom Gineke's espionage activities would have been alleged.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
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  8. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Hi Shadowfax,

    Thank you so much for this critic. I have been really looking forward to such post since morning but unfortunately so many forum members viewed it 133 times but no one left comments accept for two.

    It is my first experience in writing. This was just a loosely written sketch and certainly there can be changes made to it:

    1) Gineke is trapped because her dog is up in the room, not the music box. That sounds more reasonable. Somehow, she's got to get trapped, otherwise, how will she meet Georg?

    2) I've had confusion between the duties of Wehrmacht and SS Force. I thought the crimes were committed by the army as well as the SS but as you know this is just an outline, I will do research before I write. I am glad that Georg does not have to be a Nazi anymore, otherwise in the end I would have to make Gineke leave him.

    3)Yes, I'll reduce his rank as that of a young officer so his age is more suited with Gineke.

    4)I will recreate the end part i.e skip the spy scene and desertion scene.

    Plus, what do you think of my writing? English is my second language. Is it a good idea to continue my story in English?

    Cheers

    F.L.
     
  9. J.C Adkins
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    J.C Adkins Member

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    Does he do something to gain her trust?
    "She hesitantly believes him." Doesn't seem like someone who was being pursued/trapped by Nazis would just believe him, nor easily change her mind by chivalrous gestures.
    Does he do anything that would conflict with what he was supposed to be doing? Maybe a point where his affections for Gineke cause him to endanger his position or be reprimanded by the Nazis?
     
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  10. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Of course, there will be number of events in which he will be able to gain Gineke's trust. I think he might do anything in the end that may put him in danger.

    What do you think about the plot overall?
     
  11. J.C Adkins
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    J.C Adkins Member

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    The plot could work, but as people above have posted might need work.
    Personally my hangup was the "she hesitantly believed him" after Joshua told his story then got killed. She would be mortified.
    Unless Joshua died ---> Lot's of evidence in favor of him, and actions to gain her trust ---> then she drops her guard around him.
    The word you used in the main body, "chivalry", can translate to submissiveness. Submissiveness is not a realistic way to gain someones trust or affection, at least not on its own.
     
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  12. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    I definitely agree with you. I guess I will have to redraw the plot line again. It was just a rough sketch. Nothing has been finalised yet. But thank you so much!
     
  13. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi F.L.,

    Should you continue your story in English? First, for a second language, it's very good - a lot better than I'd be in another language! Second, do you want to? i.e. Why have you written this in English and not in your first language? Is it an exercise to improve your English, or a serious attempt to write an English-language novel? If serious, then why do you want it in English and not your first langage?
    These are questions for you to ask yourself, not necessarily questions I'm expecting an answer to.
     
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  14. FrozenLady
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    I'll make it something like her mother has gone away in town to look for the english cousin and left her with elderly maid. While she's away, Germans invade. The cousin is unable to reach them.

    Georg will be fine as Major. (; He has come to fight for his country but not knowing how Fuhrer is misusing his Wehrmacht. He tries to hide the war crimes his country is committing from the woman he loves and is torn between what's moral and immoral. At the end of war all his decorations are snatched from him and his own country disowns him.

    Basically, the moral theme of the book will be humanity and love. I have a dream to write a perfect literary novel, exploring each character's mind and making a plot that may be liked by everyone.

    Why I didn't write in my first language is that people nowadays prefer English more. I wish to publish my book in Europe so my book is read by more audience so the language has to be the one that is internationally recognised.

    Secondly, my first language's literature is too difficult for me to understand, if I began to put German terms with it, I'll be lost. I want to remain an anonymous writer, because I am afraid of public opinion.
     
  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Major Georg would probably have joined (as an officer cadet - at age 22-24) the Wehrmacht in 1934, soon after German re-armament became public and the army expanded rapidly. During peace-time, his promotion would have been more or less automatic, reaching Captain (Hauptmann) by 1939. Service with distinction in Poland in 1939 would have earned him his promotion to Major.

    He'd probably get further promotions (officers, even senior officers, die during wartime - and the army would be expanded too), probably to Lieutenant-Colonel (Oberstleutnant) or even full Colonel (Oberst). Beyond that you're making him a General, which is stretching credibility.

    What branch of the army is he in? Tank corps? Infantry? Artillery? Logistics? - I'd suggest Tanks, in order for him to gain his promotion, and to be a "dashing" hero type. Does he stay in Belgium throughout the war? Somewhat unlikely. He'd probably have been sent to either Greece and/or Russia in 1941, or Russia at any time until the end of the war. Perhaps have him injured in Greece, and get him invalided back to a safe garrison posting in Belgium (or almost anywhere but Russia!). Troops injured in Russia didn't tend to get invalided back anywhere, they just stayed and died (or died and stayed).

    He probably didn't know about the war crimes until relatively late in the war - the full horror wasn't common knowledge, and unless he was directly involved, he'd probably have gone along with the propaganda that the Jews were being resettled somewhere they'd be more at home. There might even be an element of incredulity when he first began to suspect it. Most Germans believed that Hitler was a great leader who brought stability and a sense of pride back to their country. While the career soldiers of the Wehrmacht (the Generals) didn't like Hitler (he was, in their eyes, a jumped up Lance-Corporal and NOT A GENTLEMAN) they didn't object when he started to throw money at the army; This increased their own importance. So, to begin with, Georg is thinking "Hitler would never do a thing like that. It must be his evil advisers."

    I don't believe a scenario where his decorations are snatched from him and his country disowning him. He might be accused of anti-Nazi crimes and tortured and killed (if he was implicated in a plot to kill Hitler, perhaps). Or he might be tried for war crimes at Nuremberg - even if he himself wasn't directly involved, he could have been implicated in things that were carried out in his area of jurisdiction without his knowledge.
     
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  16. Michael Pless
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    Michael Pless Active Member

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    Hi Frozen Lady,

    reading through your plot outline, there is much that I like. I don't have a problem with the letter from Britain, because as I read it, it is before the war really came to Belgium.

    I like that the stakes seem to be raised as the story progresses, and Gineke's circumstances become more complex. One issue that I feel is perhaps in need of review is the relative lack of knowledge of what was happening to the Jews in Germany (and elsewhere) at the time - I really feel that nearly everyone in Europe would have known about this.

    The story sounds interesting, and I would encourage you to pursue it, but you will need to research it a great deal, and given that it seems to be your first novel, you will need to learn a lot about writing a novel and there are many websites that can help. My favourite is Author's Salon, but I feel that might not be a good fit for a historical novel like yours - that site seems more crime/adventure/sci-fi/etc., but still, there is some useful stuff in there. Also, be prepared to change your plot a little as the story develops, because you may find that as you create more depth to your characters, you may find yourself thinking, "no, they wouldn't do that, they'd do this!" in response to an event in a scene. Try to make each person an individual, with their own speech and mannerisms.

    I think it will be difficult for you to improve your English initially, to write fluently, but if you are passionate about your work, you will learn. Books like The Elements of Style by Strunk and White will help. I wish you every success.
     
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  17. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Hi ShadowFax

    Thank you so much for these suggestions. During the war, so he could be promoted to Oberst like Jochen Peiper who was young and handsome and a Colonel. Yes, he could be a member of Panzer division.

    He would not stay for long in Belgium. And he'll send Gineke to Berlin while he'll set off further for Greece but due to injury he may return to Germany for sometime and there they will get married.

    Yes, I will have to search for how was Hitler able to brainwash people and what was their reaction when the warcrimes came into their sight.

    So I will start writing my first draft of my first chapter soon. :)
     
  18. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Hi Michael,

    Thank you so much for the nice comment. It means a lot to me.

    I have been looking for an alternative to the music box scene in which Gineke gets trapped. Do you think it was fine or I should change it?
     
  19. Michael Pless
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    Michael Pless Active Member

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    You're welcome! You novel will be a big undertaking, especially when it comes to giving the reader a sense of place - getting them to imagine a scene or location, because of the age in which you're setting it. I know little about Belgium's history and environment, and culture. Small mentions of some of these will help give the reader a "feel" for the story.

    This is a turning point for the story - it's an event that starts the story moving into a different direction, so it is very important. It seems a little familiar to me, as if I had read or seen it previously. That does not mean you can't make it work. Gineke lives in a mansion (my impression of the Nazis is that they chose the grandest buildings for themselves, so it needs to be the most impressive in the area): is it possible that despite the family home, they're falling on hard times, and the music box (which is already present in the household, so Gineke should know about it) is the sole item gifted to her on her birthday. Why would she go back to get it? Because it is an important tie to her father? Or is it very valuable, crusted with jewels? Or both?

    The door shutting, and not opening again strains my suspension of disbelief a bit, although the driver taking-off does not. some alternatives spring to mind: the maid, jealous of Gineke's privilege/beauty has a major part in setting this up, manipulating Gineke into the room and (if she had a relationship with the driver) then urging the driver to leave. The maid could sabotage the door easily. If the house was in the Ardennes, although the Germans invaded in May, being high in the mountains, winter shutters might still be in place on the windows, preventing Gineke's escape, or this could be part of the maid's treachery. Or Gineke's family home might just be a first location, and a tank could put a shell into the house trapping her, and then she gets taken to the Nazi's "home". The tank could well make the truck driver panic. With the maid, there is scope for retribution later in the story.

    My feeling is that if Gineke's being trapped is accidental, it is not nearly so strong as if it is part of a deliberate act - the reader will empathize more if she is a victim.

    Those are just my thoughts as they occur to me, and you may well devise some other mechanism. That's perfectly okay - it is your story, and you will tell it, and you must tell it your way.

    All the best.
     
  20. FrozenLady
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    FrozenLady Member

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    Hi,

    Does it look familiar to you? Then I'll change the plot a bit because I want to give my readers something which they haven't read before - something unique!

    @Shadowfax has been right that I am moving too fast with my events.

    Cheers,

    F.L
     
  21. Michael Pless
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    Michael Pless Active Member

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    Yes, part of it does seem familiar - like the being trapped and left behind, though it may not be in the setting you're using.

    My view though, is that it doesn't matter - there are limited mechanisms you can employ, and many will have been used before. The uniqueness is not so much in the plot, but in your voice - the words you use and the order you put them in. For my writing, a classmate once observed that I use a lot of words from long ago. I also use words as much for their feel on the tongue and the emotions or imagery they bring to mind. It makes my writing rather "dense" as many readers say.

    As you write, you will find your voice, and this will be an important part of the story.

    I think that you've given a very quick outline or synopsis of your story, so I don't think you're moving through it too quickly - it's just that you're trying out ideas for us to digest. You will also find that as you add detail and formulate sub-plots the number of words between each major plot point will lengthen. I'm currently at around 70 kilowords of the first draft, of my second story, and wishing I had planned it more, even though I had a more detailed plan than my first (Cast Into New Eden). My feeling is that I ought to have gone into more depth, and plotted the entire thing from beginning to end, down to scene level. As my knowledge of where the story is going firms, I am better able to find the the words to tell it. I expect that you will research setting, culture, attitudes, languages, history, technology, and more from that era.
     
  22. Michael Pless
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    Michael Pless Active Member

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    A thought just occurred to me: by all means seek opinions and listen to them, but as I just wrote, this is your story, and your decisions are very important, because somewhere you have an idea or impression of how it will be and where it will go, so you're the best person to guide it to completion. I think it's important that you work to that goal and not necessarily with all the suggestions you receive.

    You will be happier, and the story better if it's yours. Just because I have an idea or an opinion, that doesn't mean it's right, or necessarily suitable for inclusion in your story.
     
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  23. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Echo that.
     
  24. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    yes
     
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  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Umm... so is this the moral dilemma you had? Can you as German write about a country/culture you fought against in WW2? I can see why you'd be concerned, but in this day and age, I think it's still a non-issue.

    As for the story/plot, I think it sounds really interesting, and as others have already pointed out, is mainly lacking in the research department, but you'll get there. :) You might also find new plot twists that way as you learn more about the life and circumstances in Belgium back then. At least there'll be a wealth of knowledge available for you, even more so than to us non-German speakers, I believe.

    I also agree with others about the going back -part. It's a cliché, I think, but I could buy her going back for a dog, cat, baby... something we humans get super attached to. Or if it's something she needs in order to escape or survive, then an artifact may work.

    But, this is your story, your plot, and, ultimately, it is best to try to work out the kinks yourself. It's fun to spitball ideas, of course, and it might be easier for us to help you if you get back once you know more about your plot and narrow down your questions (scene specific, research specific etc)

    Good luck!
     
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