Scary Paranormal Stories & Short Horror Microfiction

Creepypasta

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It’s been made clear to me that for many of you guys, writing a Creepypasta is your first foray into non-school-mandated creative writing. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and distinctly not-creepy inside, because I like having a hand – however small – in encouraging people to do more reading and writing. I know that many of the people who leave comments here and over at Crappypasta seem to really enjoy helping aspiring writers grow as well, so I thought that it might be nice for us to have a place where we can leave our favorite tips and tricks in regards to writing Creepypastas.

So please, go ahead and leave a comment with anything that you think might be useful for someone considering writing and submitting their very own Creepypasta. Whether it’s as simple as “Remember paragraphs because walls of text suck and nobody enjoys them” or linking us to specific mood music that you listen to while writing, if you’ve got advice, this is the right place for it.

October Discussion Post: Tips & Tricks for Aspiring Creepypasta Writers, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
  • Randy

    I haven’t really written a creepypasta yet, but after reading some of them on here I might try in the future. I have, however, written a lot of poetry, some of which is rather eerie and dark.

    I like listening to lots of dark ambient music when I write, such as Lustmord, Lull, or Kerovnian. Definitely very effective for getting into the mood.

    As a poet, I think the most important thing is to really feel the mood you’re trying to set, and I mean really feel it. The tone of a work is often much more complicated than just “scary,” for example, it could be something like “ominous with desolate/bleak overtones” (which I’m totally pulling out of my ass). The ability to really put your finger exactly on the mood you’re trying to convey, and to find the right words to express it, will take your writing a LONG way.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. I know poetry is a lot different from short story writing, but hopefully someone finds this useful.

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    • That One Guy

      On the contrary, a poem is a form of telling a story. In fact, poetry is essentially the art of painting a scene with words. Although it isn’t a good idea to write a Creepypasta in the form of a Shakespearean Sonnet, there are many subtle poetic tools that can be used to create a powerful feeling of what the story is telling. However, as you incorporate some of the more complex aspects, a writing-poet must be increasingly subtle to make it not immediately seem like poetry, so it might be a good idea to start out small with imagery, which would still be a big step towards good writing. I cannot even begin to express how many writers of Creepy/Crappypastas do not even begin to do their ideas justice by being nondescriptive. The rest is up to the writer to experiment with, so that they can find the way they best write. Ultimately, I feel you make a good point, but you shouldn’t say that poetry is different from story writing. After all, anybody can tell a story, but not everyone can breathe life into their words.

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  • lily

    Grammar, grammar, grammar.

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    • ShapeShafter

      I would agree with lily. I would also like to address the cliche issue. We must realize that things become cliche for a reason. Because they work, and we love them. To a point. Getting inspiration from something popular is fine, and is pretty much unstoppable. But that doesn’t mean your story has to be just like it. Imitation is a form of flattery, but that’s all it is. You have to find your own vein, your own way, your own story. As long as you do that the cliche issue should work itself out.

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  • Raaxis

    To dovetail off of what Lily so succinctly said, I’ll add mechanics on top of grammatical syntax. Whether you’re writing a novel or a creepypasta, nothing yanks a reader out of the universe you’re trying to create quite as badly as mechanical errors.

    Even if you have a haunting narrative, creepy critters, and a truly horrifying setting, your readers will ALWAYS be distracted by mechanical flubs. Things like proper spelling, punctuation, and grammatical syntax are absolutely critical to any piece of literature. And despite the effectiveness of tools like spell check and other technological means of editing, absolutely nothing beats a human peer reviewer. Find one of your favorite anal-retentive grammarians (the Internet, it just so happens, is full of them) and have them go through your work with a fine-toothed comb to weed out any awkward sentences or jilted syntax. Then, once they’re done red-inking your work, make your corrections and send it to another grammar Nazi. The more critical eyes your work passes under, the better it will be.

    One caveat, however: don’t use your friends to review your work. As wonderful as it is to have my buddies stroke my ego until I reach wordgasm, their opinions are inherently subjective. They’re going to avoid honesty in order to preserve your friendship. The best editor is essentially a stranger who isn’t afraid to tell you that your work is a hot mess. Their corrections are going to refine your work, not inflate your ego.

    Ultimately, any piece of literature should go through several levels of editing before being considered “finished”. And that’s not counting the stylistic and narrative editing.

    TL;DR Peer review your work to fix mechanical errors

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    • Peterdivine

      Entirely true, and not just about mechanical errors. Some of the veterans who browse the forums can tell you on the spot my first few submissions were absolute dreck. It was a hard blow to my pride and took all my humility to suck it up, but their criticism is what allowed me to write the only quality creepypasta I’ve submitted to the site’s front page so far.

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  • lee

    Stop saying things like ‘don’t look behind you’re. It is a super-cliche and an obvious hint that you’re reaching. And stay away from mirrors. No, not the physical bathroom looking glasses; I mean the concept is done, chewed to sh*t.
    My only tips are in concepts. Honestly, everyone has a different method on ‘getting ready to write’. Some rare people can force it, others take hours or even days to get in the mood. He’ll, i’ce been trying to write chapter one for months, decided to scrap it and take it all back to the planning board as my wife suggested

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    • That One Guy

      That’s not to sat you should avoid a cliche’d subject like the plague. Just don’t center a story around one. For example, you can have a mirror in your story, but it should strictly be a mirror, and not a portal to the land of Crappypastas. Although one should in general just stay away from haunted cartridges, lost episodes, etc. as those are central ideas that have been used more than… well I’ll leave out the blatant innuendo. To sum it up, don’t avoid the object, but stay the heck away from the cliched use.

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  • Anonymous

    Stop using second person, especially if you’re going to tell me a long list of things that I’m supposedly feeling. You tell me I’m alone and scared in the middle of the night when in fact I’m in a crowded restaurant or in a bright classroom and couldn’t be less scared. It’s easier to be creeped out if I put myself in someone else’s shoes on my own, in a first- or third-person story. I just feel like second-person is forcing it.

    Stop ripping off movies and other stories. More so, do not do a spin on Slenderman or do a Jeff sequel.

    Stop using mirrors, especially creatures in them. This is annoyingly popular as of late.

    I could think of a million but I’ll quit there.

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    • That One Guy

      As far as the mirrors go, those are just old news. No Bloody Mary, no Candyman, no Dopplegangers (unless you can really, REALLY, do it well, which means no mirror anyway), no hand pooping out to scratch your eyes out, or seeing the ghost of the last person to die in the house you just moved into. Just no. A mirror is an object. People have turned mirrors into homes for all kinds of ghouls, mostly crappy ones. If you are going to use a mirror, use it to see something, preferably alive and not in front of you.

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      • Dev

        A hand POOPING out….Eek. I would find that the scariest thing a hand to do. Sorry for making fun of your spelling, bro.
        Anyways, I’d have to say avoiding “hyper-realistic” anything or avoiding the whole “I went to the woods at night and boom! Ghosties!” scenario. Or the “Oh god this game isn’t scary enough! I know! Everyone is homicidal!” scenario. Also I personally find rituals to be the creepiest, however don’t overdo anything. Ever. A cool idea would be to hide a secret code in all stories that would spell out something or lead someone somewhere online. No spam though.

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  • http://www.creepypasta.com/hope/ Dirjel

    Get your mechanics down. Seriously, it makes a HUGE difference in how your writing is received. The semi-colon is especially important – virtually nobody ever uses it correctly, and if you DO use it correctly it will make you look awesome.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

    While you’re at it, I guarantee that reading their other grammar comics WILL NOT HURT YOUR WRITING.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

    Grammar and spelling are the bricks and mortar of your stories. It doesn’t matter if you build the greatest structure ever seen – if the mechanics are sloppy it will be blown over next time there’s a breeze.

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  • Len Lye

    Be original. I will repeat… be ORIGINAL.

    The sad part about reading an abundance of pastas (and not-so-pastas) over an extended period of time, is a familiarity with the patterns of how the “creepy formulas” EVERY writer goes by is entirely the same. Basically, after awhile things turn cliche, predictable, and more times than not you can guess how it’s gonna end (if I read one more fucking cut-out ending I will-). Derpbutt of all I sympathize with for having to endure this for so many years, and yes I do admit it is also partial desensitizing on our part.

    You will notice the greatest of pastas are apart from these cliches. Psychosis, Candle Cove, (the original) Slenderman, et cetera, all had a flair to them and a style that was set apart from the other formulatic spooky stories (a fucking skeleton popped out of nowhere!). This depends largely on the author. Mr. Creepypasta, Josef K., and others we all know have become site legends not because they “thought of it first”, but because they truly immersed the reader in their fucked up universe and stylistically created a setting we could understand (and possibly even relate to).

    Point is, think of something new or at least immersing. I know that’s basically asking to try to make a unique Western film, but it’s what is necessary to create a truly magnificent pasta. And yes, much more easily said than done. I’m not going to pretend I have much writing competence at all to be able to do that, but some of you do, and the next Candle Cove might not be far.

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  • ChrisPetrone

    I haven’t written any yet… although I want to.

    One thing I would advise writers to do though is mind how often they use common creepy pasta language. For example, I got tired of hearing the word “dismissed,” used over and over.

    “I could swear I saw a shadow move in the corner of my eye, but I dismissed the thought, as I was tired.”

    That’s literally in like every pasta…. so choose your words carefully.

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  • Garrett

    Just imagine your deepest, darkest fear, write it down, then add some “spunk” to it!

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  • Aleron XIV

    I have not yet written a creepypasta either. However, I’d recommend avoiding second person unless you are a gifted writer, along with avoiding the “I’m the monster and I’m coming to get you” trope. There are some exceptions to terrible pastas written using these; I, for one, liked “You’re not Scared, Right?” which was written in second person, and “Lita a Bak,” that one written by the Icelandic-American monster of looking back.

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  • arby

    tv tropes is an amazing resources

    just remember

    tropes are tools

    tropes are not bad

    and most of all

    tv tropes will ruin your life :P

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    • Dan Macabre

      Tropes are not good, either. TVTropes is probably most useful for learning about the plots that have already been done to death. An important part of creepypasta is surprise, so familiarising yourself with stock horror tropes can keep you from writing cliche stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Ok I’ve never written one but I’ll be as helpful as possible. First be creative(obvious tip is obvious) second don’t steal, I know it’s tempting but you would not believe how many times I’ve heard the phrase ‘don’t look behind you’ think of an original phrase or read the same story with a different title. Three grammar, grammar, grammar! One of the most important thing in writing in general not just a creepypasta! Last is try to relate the story to yourself, ‘if ther is no feeling there is no squealing’ I always say when it comes to horror.
    So there’s my input no go out there and make something scary. :D

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  • Anonymous

    The Mirror thing isn’t overdone, it is done wrong. It’s not about the topic, but about the story. If we pushed away every pasta that was “overdone” we would never eat for all genres and cliches exist on this site. Just make sure that your grammar is correct and that you tell a story, don’t just “man door hand hook car door.”

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  • Shogunfish

    A few things, one: if you are serious about your pasta check the crappypasta checkbox. It is. Good way to get feedback however, remember though that once your pasta is there people can say whatever they want. A good idea would be to comment on your story asking for help, otherwise you will get more wisecracking comments and cague negative reactions than actual advise. Also, if you can’t take (in some cases extreme) negative feedback, it’s as simple as not checking the box.

    Also haunted games (especially Pokemon), lost episodes, and slenderman are all way overdone, if you are serious about writing an awesome pasta try to avoid them. As well as more minor cliches like haunted mirrors, haunted dolls, generic insane ramblings, etc.
    The only exception (except for Pokemon) is if you have a clever spin on the concept you are SURE has never been done before. Make sure it hasn’t but even then it has an inherently lower chance of making the main site than something completely original.

    Also, arguably the worst thing you can do in writing is blatantly rip something off. Whether it be an entire story, or a single concept taken from a tv show. I have read two pastas where the author took elements blatantly from Naruto, I was the first comment on both where I was sure to point it out. That kind of thing doesn’t go unnoticed, someone will always know the source well enough to catch it.

    I could go on but I won’t, these are really the ones that I feel I need to say.

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  • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

    Can anyone give me help about lost episodes? :(

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  • Kevin

    You can be an amazing pasta author by:

    1) Not listening to Raaxis. Because, honestly, you don’t even know what he said.

    2) Not listening to Lee. He just misspelled the words hell and I’ve. Also he’s a married man and afraid to spell out the word shit.

    3) Not using the word dismissed. Because other people have used it before.

    4) Trope, trope, trope. Isn’t that a funny word?

    5) Writing whatever the fuck you want, but if you going to write something write it well.

    6) Remember paragraphs because walls of text suck and nobody enjoys them.

    7) Not putting yourself in the situation of using a semi-colon.

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

    here’s a link to help you stray away from those situations, but if you do use a semi-colon its OK; Virtually no one knows what they mean.

    8) Fuck Lee.

    9) Remembering that writing in second person is almost specifically for short stories. Don’t be afraid to use it.

    10) Fuck Lee.

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    • Anonymous

      Can I add one more? Though I’m no pro, I’d suggest you don’t go all immature with the cursing. A littles okay, like what this is added to, but a lot of readers don’t want every other word being shit or fuck. Just tryin to help so ignore if you want to

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    • Lord Corvell

      Haha, this could have been shortened down to

      “I hate that guy, and write how you want to because writing doesn’t need a formula”.

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  • Anonymous

    No more writing about a crazy ass situation and then all of a sudden you wake up and everything is fine!

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  • ThatFool

    If you feel like its cliche, then it probably is. Either way, if youre writing on youre own time, you should feel badass.

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  • Anonymous

    Seriously… Do what Kevin says!

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  • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

    So any help for lost episodes. :(

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  • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

    IS ANYONE GOING TO FUCKING HELP ME????

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    • http://www.creepypasta.com derpbutt

      Try being more specific about what you want from us. ‘help for lost episodes’ isn’t exactly detailed.

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      • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

        Um, well, sorry there depbutt. Everyone, i’m looking for a good show to do it on (animated), not to make it cliche, to add a bit of vague-ness like candle cove to it, fresh, new scary ideas to make a perfectly innocent show seem horrifying. So, any help now?

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        • shogunfish

          the most important thing is to pick a show with some spookiness to begin with.

          So many lost episode pastas end with characters just murdering each other all over the place because that is the only way to get all the way from how the show normally is to creepypasta.

          If you pick something like scooby-doo that already has a little bit of creepiness you have much less distance to cover and can do it in a much more subtle way.

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        • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

          Aha, thanks shotgunfish. Immediatley after I commented that I realised Scooby Doo. I have a few ideas in mind, but can you gimme a few hints how NOT to make it cliche? (besides the characters not just killing everyone in hyper realistic drawings. -_-?

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        • shogunfish

          Well the two other huge mistakes I see in lost episodes are:

          1) Just writing long strings of events. Just because it’s a lost episode doesn’t mean you can just throw normal plot progression and story structure out the window. It still has to build up to something. So often the episode is just a bunch of people acting crazy, and then it ends. It has to build up to something.

          2) The episode has no real-life consequences. This is the other thing that people always do. A lost episode is not scary if it stays confined to your TV. Dead bart had premonitions of the future. Squidward’s suicide had photos of a dead child. You need something that has implications about the real world. If your pasta is nothing but a weird episode of a TV show you have wasted the reader’s time. Maybe the animator had a dark past or some demonic force posessed him to create the episode, maybe the episode contained a hidden message, maybe the episode caused bad things to happen to the person who watched it. It isn’t enough to write a fake TV show episode, you have to make it mean something.

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        • shogunfish

          oops, said “it has to build up to something” twice

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        • Deadnaught

          Maybe try an anime or untouched beloved show that everyone knows and, well, loves, and add something that will make them never look at it the same way, like an older show (sorry I don’t have examples)

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        • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

          Thank you both gents! I’m also going to try and avoid ‘They showed the episode by mistake’ and the ‘i used to work at..’ blah blah. But thanks guys, I have a rough idea. (Rough mind.) Who knows? We could finally get a 3rd lost episode on here! XD

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        • Jiggy

          Sorry, I don’t have anything of worth to actually contribue, I just want to see how much I can get this text squished up on the right.

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        • Lord Corvell

          Is it too late to add “what if this light-hearted show were a lot more serious”?

          By that I mean… Sit around awhile and think about ways the show could be creepier or more morbid.

          For example, ever hear about that idea that Pokemon was set after a devastating war?

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        • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

          Sorry, I know little to nothing about all anime.

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  • Proudly Insane

    When I write, I just kind of mind dump. Sorry for the image, but I literally write until I run out of ideas, not going over it to fix ANYTHING up until then. Also, avoid cliches. Even if ‘it was all a dream’ sounds good and fits the story, things like that are so overused that it kind of kills the whole post. Be original, don’t just rely on those stupid overused cliches and themes to make your story sound good.

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    • YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE USERNAME!

      All I can Imagine now is a brain shitting out words. >:(

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  • shogunfish

    Ok, if you are dead-set on writing a slenderman pasta. I have identified the three worst mistakes you can make.

    1)Do not put any reference to slenderman in the title of your pasta.

    2) do not begin your pasta with “I have always been obsessed with slenderman” or “I was playing slender.”

    3) Do not refer to him as slenderman at all in the pasta if you can help it.

    The reason these rules are important is simple. The biggest mistake people make when writing a slenderman pasta is that they immediately tell you that it is a slenderman pasta. Most pastas don’t tell you exactly what the main character will be dealing for the entire story right at the beginning, why would you?

    the second mistake is having the main character be obsessed with slenderman. Not only is it clear that you wrote this because you are obsessed with slenderman. But the main character of a creepypasta is not supposed to break the fourth wall like that and basically acknowledge that they are in a pasta.

    Think for ten seconds. Slenderman is in creepypasta => I am being hunted by slenderman => I am in a creepypasta

    The third mistake is referring to slenderman by name, or as the main character of slender or creepypastas. The moment you do that, you aren’t writing about the mysterious murderous creature that stalks people, you are writing about the cliche pop-culture monster that everyone is sick of. What makes him scary isn’t his reputation, it’s what he does, so make all effort not to reveal that you are writing about slenderman until the main character comes face-to-face (no pun intended) with him. The best slenderman pastas I’ve read don’t need to use his name, they use descriptions and immediately the image forms in my mind.

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  • Z.S. Davies

    Write for yourself first. Don’t write for validation from the internet. That doesn’t mean do a crappy job. Just understand getting a creepypasta out there is a months-long process if it happens at all. Even then, people may just think it sucks.

    So it’s important that writing the pasta gives you satisfaction on its own, because the other stuff might not come.

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  • ILikePeas

    Here’s a more general writing tip. Make your prose sound ‘nice’. Here’s what I mean.

    1) Never start a sentence with the same word twice in one paragraph. Hearing ‘I’ a million times at the beginning of every sentence wears on you after a while.

    2) Use synonyms, but not to an extreme. If you have a ‘big monster chasing’ you, maybe mix it up a little. Perhaps you could say ‘A gargantuan beast was pursing me’. Don’t overdo this, though. You could refer to a ‘monster’ as a monster at first, then a creature, then maybe a beast. This isn’t about showing your thesaurus skills off, but breaking word monotony. My rule of thumb: three synonyms max for every word you will be using over and over again.

    3) Related to the above, don’t use words that only had common use in the Roman Empire.

    4) Please, spell out numbers. Twenty five or twenty-five, not 25.

    5) There are more conjunctions then and/but/or. Yet is an uncommon one, as is nor. Plus, there are many words you might not think of as conjunctions, such as ‘if’, ‘because’, ‘so’, and ‘then’.

    6)Very your sentence structure. Break up big, complex-compound sentences with a short simple sentence in-between. This usually creates a smoother flow.

    7) Grammar and spelling is always mandatory, unless you are writing slang filled dialogue, which shouldn’t be often.

    I could probably think of more, but it’s early in the morning here, so I’m pretty tired.

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