i know he had more but these are the main ones

Main points from Afterbuzz interview

Spoiler warning for season 4!

So Afterbuzz TV sat down with Lauren Montgomery, Joaquim Dos Santos and Jeremy Shada to review episodes 1 and 2 as well as discuss the season as a whole. Here’s a summary :)

*Note: a lot of this is paraphrased since I was taking notes as I was listening, but it’s as true to what was said as physically possible

  • About Keith (and Shiro):
    • Last season was a lot about building Keith’s confidence as a leader and then immediately he steps out of the role. Joaquim says Keith has always been reluctant to be in the leader position
    • Lauren says we have a situation where we have one paladin too many, something’s gotta give. Had Shiro stayed gone Keith would’ve absolutely stayed put, but with Shiro back Keith feels like he can’t fill those shoes, so he’s kinda pulling back to sort of force Shiro to step back in
    • Lauren is responsible for the Shiro & Keith cameo in the background of the Holt final photos before the Kerberos launch
    • Lauren calls Shiro Keith’s “guiding light”
    • Lauren says Shiro is going to have a “lot of development” 
    • Jeremy teases more backstory 
  • About Matt:
    • The fakeout at Matt’s grave was Joaquim’s idea
    • Steve Ahn’s birthday made it into the graveyard scene as Matt’s wrong birthday (or perhaps the coordinates? wasn’t clear)
    • Jeremy says he watched the graveyard scene not knowing anything since he wasn’t in that episode, and even he believed it for a second, despite Matt’s VA being around a lot to record lines
    • Lauren says she still gets affected and she’s known since day one that Matt will be back (”and he’s gonna be a rebel and he’s gonna be an action star!”)
    • Matt is a huge dork. He had to grow and evolve to survive but at the heart of it he’s still Pidge’s dork of a brother 
    • Matt was the only person Pidge could relate to growing up because she was way too smart for everyone else in her class, smarter even than her own teacher, so she had no one except her brother. And then he kinda left her behind, not intentionally or in a mean sense but still
    • Matt got into the Garrison on brainpower and he isn’t as powerful as some other characters. He very much fights like someone who isn’t a big guy (speed not strength)
  • About Lance:
    • Lance is all about being in the spotlight. The Voltron shows are everything he’s been waiting for
    • Jeremy says it was fun playing those more lighthearted episodes after the more serious growing and maturing from last season
    • Lance has a lightheartedness to him; Jeremy says that’s his favourite part of playing him
    • Lauren jokes that it’s all Jeremy’s fault cause he’s so good at playing Lance and if you’re mad that Lance is funny all hatemail goes to Jeremy
    • Joaquim says it’s tough with so many characters, but reiterates that every person will have their time in the spotlight
    • Regarding Lance’s pep talk to Allura at the end of the season, Lance knows when someone needs to step up, he’s a really good team player. He loves being the center of attention but he’s also able to pull back. Jeremy says the team is like a family now, and it’s that respect and care and love for everyone on the team that lets Lance be confident in saying stuff like “I know you can do this, it’s all you” as opposed to something like “I think I can do something!”
    • Lauren points out that Lance started in the blue lion which is a support lion, holds Voltron up, and he’s since graduated to the right hand which is like the ultimate support to the head. It’s a good indication of what’s beneath the surface, he’s really good at knowing everyone’s strengths, good team player
    • Joaquim adds that if you look deeper, Lance comes from a big family, and within the family dynamic he was probably very much that guy. But to people outside the family he wants to be seen as front and center
    • Jeremy says Lance is going to continue to grow, building on the more serious moments from this season and the one before. Lance becomes “a voice of reason” soon
  • About Lotor:
    • Lauren is to blame for Lotor dislocating his shoulder. They wrote themselves into a bit of a corner with that; they knew he had to get away but how? It’s not like he could drive with his mouth or pick the lock, the space cuffs don’t have locks. Joaquim says everyone cringed just looking at Lauren’s storyboards for that scene without even sound or anything
    • Lauren says Lotor is genuinely intelligent and we’ll eventually learn things about him “like maybe he’s not SUPER backstabby?”
    • [both Joaquim and Lauren are very tight lipped on Lotor backstory and relationship with Honerva etc]
  • Voice cast trivia: 
    • Josh Keaton voices Regris
    • Whenever there’s an extra lady voice it’s usually Kimberly Brooks or Cree Summer
    • Lauren recalls one amazing blooper when Rhys Darby (Coran) just got so frustrated with a line he cussed them out. Joaquim and Jeremy add that Rhys has this amazing way that he abandons a line, where he’ll just go dadadadada–awwh (“he deflates”). To be fair Rhys gets a lot of the hardest and most technical lines
    • Andrea Romano (the show’s retired voice director) did the robot voice at Matt’s grave–she has a tradition of doing computer voices (she was the batmobile for a long time)–and she also has done the Castleship’s voice as well as some helmet translations
    • Te-Osh was voiced by Lacey Chabert who does Nyma. She has a naturally high voice so they pitched her down for Te-Osh and found it turned out amazing
    • John DiMaggio voiced lieutenant Ozar as well as the bounty hunter and the illegal arms dealer from Reunion (There’s a cute story with Christine Bian–backgrounds and props supervisor–who is a huge Futurama fan so she came in the day John was recording and he was super nice and signed her things and as he left she yelled “Bender we love you!” and you hear down the hall “shut up baby I know it”)
  • The Blade of Marmora feel the most responsibility out of anyone to do whatever they can against the Galra given it’s their culture and they want to prove to everyone that they’re willing to go as far as it takes to right the wrongs, which unfortunately often leads to BoM operatives being not very long-lived
  • Joaquim says the grey alien from the mall goes to Earth every now and then for a round of abductions and then he resells everything, which is how he got all the game systems and Kaltenecker, etc
  • Pidge was determined to play her game and within a few months she had gathered everything to jury rig it so it’d work, and then of course Lance in typical Lance fashion jacked her game system the same way he jacked her headphones
    • The pixel artist they got to do the game is Michael Azzi, based in Brussels, and he came up with most of it on his own (that boss move at the end where the shot rotates was all his idea)
  • Any time the show goes Full Anime (the Kaltenecker scene, Matt and Allura’s meeting) it’s usually Steve Ahn’s doing
    • Joaquim says go watch Matt and Allura’s meeting in Japanese
  • The Voltron Show episode was very much their Ember Island Players episode. Joaquim says there’s a bit of a disconnect, that it was first and foremost an episode for them internally to come to terms with a lot of stuff, whereas a lot of people are saying “oh they’re speaking directly to us [the fans]” but that’s not the case. They’ve been thinking about this since a long time ago. Lauren says it was written and in production long before the fandom
  • Lauren would’ve loved to get to know the rebels a bit better and give Olia a proper introductions but just no time
Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully - in Ten Minutes

by Stephen King
(reprinted in Sylvia K. Burack, ed. The Writer’s Handbook. Boston, MA: Writer, Inc., 1988: 3-9)

I. The First Introduction

THAT’S RIGHT. I know it sounds like an ad for some sleazy writers’ school, but I really am going to tell you everything you need to pursue a successful and financially rewarding career writing fiction, and I really am going to do it in ten minutes, which is exactly how long it took me to learn.  It will actually take you twenty minutes or so to read this essay, however, because I have to tell you a story, and then I have to write a second introduction.  But these, I argue, should not count in the ten minutes.



II. The Story, or, How Stephen King Learned to Write

When I was a sophomore in high school, I did a sophomoric thing which got me in a pot of fairly hot water, as sophomoric didoes often do.  I wrote and published a small satiric newspaper called The Village Vomit.  In this little paper I lampooned a number of teachers at Lisbon (Maine) High School, where I was under instruction.  These were not very gentle lampoons; they ranged from the scatological to the downright cruel

Eventually, a copy of this little newspaper found its way into the hands of a faculty member, and since I had been unwise enough to put my name on it (a fault, some critics argue, of which I have still not been entirely cured), I was brought into the office. The sophisticated satirist had by that time reverted to what he really was: a fourteen-year-old kid who was shaking in his boots and wondering if he was going to get a suspension … what we called “a three-day vacation” in those dim days of 1964.

I wasn’t suspended. I was forced to make a number of apologies - they were warranted, but they still tasted like dog-dirt in my mouth - and spent a week in detention hall. And the guidance counselor arranged what he no doubt thought of as a more constructive channel for my talents. This was a job - contingent upon the editor’s approval - writing sports for the Lisbon Enterprise, a twelve-page weekly of the sort with which any small-town resident will be familiar. This editor was the man who taught me everything I know about writing in ten minutes. His name was John Gould - not the famed New England humorist or the novelist who wrote The Greenleaf Fires, but a relative of both, I believe.

He told me he needed a sports writer and we could “try each other out” if I wanted.

I told him I knew more about advanced algebra than I did sports.

Gould nodded and said, “You’ll learn.”

I said I would at least try to learn. Gould gave me a huge roll of yellow paper and promised me a wage of 1/2¢ per word. The first two pieces I wrote had to do with a high school basketball game in which a member of my school team broke the Lisbon High scoring record. One of these pieces was straight reportage. The second was a feature article.

I brought them to Gould the day after the game, so he’d have them for the paper, which came out Fridays. He read the straight piece, made two minor corrections, and spiked it. Then he started in on the feature piece with a large black pen and taught me all I ever needed to know about my craft. I wish I still had the piece - it deserves to be framed, editorial corrections and all - but I can remember pretty well how it looked when he had finished with it. Here’s an example:

(note: this is before the edit marks indicated on King’s original copy)

Last night, in the well-loved gymnasium of Lisbon High School, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom, known as “Bullet” Bob for both his size and accuracy, scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his knight-like quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon thinclads since 1953….

(after edit marks)

Last night, in the Lisbon High School gymnasium, partisans and Jay Hills fans alike were stunned by an athletic performance unequaled in school history: Bob Ransom scored thirty-seven points. He did it with grace and speed … and he did it with an odd courtesy as well, committing only two personal fouls in his quest for a record which has eluded Lisbon’s basketball team since 1953….

When Gould finished marking up my copy in the manner I have indicated above, he looked up and must have seen something on my face. I think he must have thought it was horror, but it was not: it was revelation.

“I only took out the bad parts, you know,” he said. “Most of it’s pretty good.”

“I know,” I said, meaning both things: yes, most of it was good, and yes, he had only taken out the bad parts. “I won’t do it again.”

“If that’s true,” he said, “you’ll never have to work again. You can do this for a living.” Then he threw back his head and laughed.

And he was right; I am doing this for a living, and as long as I can keep on, I don’t expect ever to have to work again.



III. The Second Introduction

All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.

I am going to tell you these things again because often people will only listen - really listen - to someone who makes a lot of money doing the thing he’s talking about. This is sad but true. And I told you the story above not to make myself sound like a character out of a Horatio Alger novel but to make a point: I saw, I listened, and I learned. Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writing first drafts of stories which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Following that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

So here it is, with all the bark stripped off. It’ll take ten minutes to read, and you can apply it right away…if you listen.



IV. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

1.  BE TALENTED
This, of course, is the killer.  What is talent?  I can hear someone shouting, and here we are, ready to get into a discussion right up there with “what is the meaning of life?” for weighty pronouncements and total uselessness.  For the purposes of the beginning writer, talent may as well be defined as eventual success - publication and money.  If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.

Now some of you are really hollering.  Some of you are calling me one crass money-fixated creep.  And some of you are calling me bad names.  Are you calling Harold Robbins talented?  someone in one of the Great English Departments of America is screeching.  V.C. Andrews?  Theodore Dreiser?  Or what about you, you dyslexic moron?

Nonsense.  Worse than nonsense, off the subject.  We’re not talking about good or bad here.  I’m interested in telling you how to get your stuff published, not in critical judgments of who’s good or bad.  As a rule the critical judgments come after the check’s been spent, anyway.  I have my own opinions, but most times I keep them to myself.  People who are published steadily and are paid for what they are writing may be either saints or trollops, but they are clearly reaching a great many someones who want what they have.  Ergo, they are communicating.  Ergo, they are talented.  The biggest part of writing successfully is being talented, and in the context of marketing, the only bad writer is one who doesn’t get paid.  If you’re not talented, you won’t succeed.  And if you’re not succeeding, you should know when to quit.

When is that?  I don’t know.  It’s different for each writer.  Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty.  But after six hundred?  Maybe.  After six thousand?  My friend, after six thousand pinks, it’s time you tried painting or computer programming.

Further, almost every aspiring writer knows when he is getting warmer - you start getting little jotted notes on your rejection slips, or personal letters…maybe a commiserating phone call.  It’s lonely out there in the cold, but there are encouraging voices…unless there is nothing in your words which warrants encouragement.  I think you owe it to yourself to skip as much of the self-illusion as possible.  If your eyes are open, you’ll know which way to go…or when to turn back.

2.  BE NEAT
Type.  Double-space.  Use a nice heavy white paper, never that erasable onion-skin stuff.  If you’ve marked up your manuscript a lot, do another draft.

3.  BE SELF-CRITICAL
If you haven’t marked up your manuscript a lot, you did a lazy job.  Only God gets things right the first time.  Don’t be a slob.

4.  REMOVE EVERY EXTRANEOUS WORD
You want to get up on a soapbox and preach?  Fine.  Get one and try your local park.  You want to write for money?  Get to the point.  And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can’t find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again…or try something new.

5.  NEVER LOOK AT A REFERENCE BOOK WHILE DOING A FIRST DRAFT You want to write a story?  Fine.  Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus.  Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket.  The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time.  Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  You think you might have misspelled a word?  O.K., so here is your choice: either look it up in the dictionary, thereby making sure you have it right - and breaking your train of thought and the writer’s trance in the bargain - or just spell it phonetically and correct it later.  Why not?  Did you think it was going to go somewhere?  And if you need to know the largest city in Brazil and you find you don’t have it in your head, why not write in Miami, or Cleveland?  You can check it…but laterWhen you sit down to write, write.  Don’t do anything else except go to the bathroom, and only do that if it absolutely cannot be put off.

6.  KNOW THE MARKETS
Only a dimwit would send a story about giant vampire bats surrounding a high school to McCall’s.  Only a dimwit would send a tender story about a mother and daughter making up their differences on Christmas Eve to Playboy…but people do it all the time.  I’m not exaggerating; I have seen such stories in the slush piles of the actual magazines.  If you write a good story, why send it out in an ignorant fashion?  Would you send your kid out in a snowstorm dressed in Bermuda shorts and a tank top?  If you like science fiction, read the magazines.  If you want to write confession stories, read the magazines.  And so on.  It isn’t just a matter of knowing what’s right for the present story; you can begin to catch on, after awhile, to overall rhythms, editorial likes and dislikes, a magazine’s entire slant.  Sometimes your reading can influence the next story, and create a sale.

7.  WRITE TO ENTERTAIN
Does this mean you can’t write “serious fiction”?  It does not.  Somewhere along the line pernicious critics have invested the American reading and writing public with the idea that entertaining fiction and serious ideas do not overlap.  This would have surprised Charles Dickens, not to mention Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Bernard Malamud, and hundreds of others.  But your serious ideas must always serve your story, not the other way around.  I repeat: if you want to preach, get a soapbox.

8.  ASK YOURSELF FREQUENTLY, AM I HAVING FUN?”
The answer needn’t always be yes.  But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new project or a new career.

9.  HOW TO EVALUATE CRITICISM
Show your piece to a number of people - ten, let us say.  Listen carefully to what they tell you.  Smile and nod a lot.  Then review what was said very carefully.  If your critics are all telling you the same thing about some facet of your story - a plot twist that doesn’t work, a character who rings false, stilted narrative, or half a dozen other possibles - change that facet.  It doesn’t matter if you really liked that twist of that character; if a lot of people are telling you something is wrong with you piece, it is.  If seven or eight of them are hitting on that same thing, I’d still suggest changing it.  But if everyone - or even most everyone - is criticizing something different, you can safely disregard what all of them say.

10.  OBSERVE ALL RULES FOR PROPER SUBMISSION
Return postage, self-addressed envelope, all of that.

11.  AN AGENT?  FORGET IT.  FOR NOW
Agents get 10% of monies earned by their clients.  10% of nothing is nothing.  Agents also have to pay the rent.  Beginning writers do not contribute to that or any other necessity of life.  Flog your stories around yourself.  If you’ve done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete.  And remember Stephen King’s First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal…and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.

12.  IF IT’S BAD, KILL IT
When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law.  When it comes to fiction, it is the law.



That’s everything you need to know.  And if you listened, you can write everything and anything you want.  Now I believe I will wish you a pleasant day and sign off.

My ten minutes are up.

The Dos and Don’ts of Beginning a Novel:  An Illustrated Guide

I’ve had a lot of asks lately for how to begin a book (or how not to), so here’s a post on my general rules of thumb for story openers and first chapters!  

Please note, these are incredibly broad generalizations;  if you think an opener is right for you, and your beta readers like it, there’s a good chance it’s A-OK.  When it comes to writing, one size does not fit all.  (Also note that this is for serious writers who are interested in improving their craft and/or professional publication, so kindly refrain from the obligatory handful of comments saying “umm, screw this, write however you want!!”)

So without further ado, let’s jump into it!

Don’t: 

1.  Open with a dream. 

“Just when Mary Sue was sure she’d disappear down the gullet of the monstrous, winged pig, she woke up bathed in sweat in her own bedroom.”

What?  So that entire winged pig confrontation took place in a dream and amounts to nothing?  I feel so cheated! 

Okay, not too many people open their novels with monstrous swine, but you get the idea:  false openings of any kind tend to make the reader feel as though you’ve wasted their time, and don’t usually jump into more meaty action of the story quickly enough.  It makes your opening feel lethargic and can leave your audience yawning.

Speaking of… 

2.  Open with a character waking up.  

This feels familiar to most of us, but unless your character is waking up to a zombie attack or an alien invasion, it’s generally a pretty easy recipe to get your story to drag.

No one picks a book to hear how your character brushes their teeth in the morning or what they’d like to have for dinner.  As a general rule of thumb, we read to explore things we wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.  And cussing out the alarm clock is not one of them.  

Granted, there are exceptions if your writing is exceptionally engaging, but in most cases it just sets a slow pace that will bore you and your reader to death and probably cause you to lose interest in your book within the first ten pages.  

3.  Bombard with exposition.  

Literary characters aren’t DeviantArt OCs.  And the best way to convey a character is not, in my experience, to devote the first ten pages to describing their physical appearance, personality, and backstory.  Develop your characters, and make sure their fully fleshed out – my tips on how to do so here – but you don’t need to dump all that on the reader before they have any reason to care about them.  Let the reader get to know the character gradually, learn about them, and fall in love with them as they would a person:  a little bit at a time.   

This is iffy when world building is involved, but even then it works best when the delivery feels organic and in tune with the book’s overall tone.  Think the opening of the Hobbit or Good Omens.

4.  Take yourself too seriously.

Your opener (and your novel in general) doesn’t need to be intellectually pretentious, nor is intellectual pretense the hallmark of good literature.  Good literature is, generally speaking, engaging, well-written, and enjoyable.  That’s it.  

So don’t concern yourself with creating a poetic masterpiece of an opening line/first chapter.  Just make one that’s – you guessed it – engaging, well-written, and enjoyable. 

5.  Be unintentionally hilarious.

Utilizing humor in your opening line is awesome, but check yourself to make sure your readers aren’t laughing for all the wrong reasons (this is another reason why betas are important.)  

These examples of the worst opening lines in published literature will show you what I mean – and possibly serve as a pleasant confidence booster as well: 

“As the dark and mysterious stranger approached, Angela bit her lip anxiously, hoping with every nerve, cell, and fiber of her being that this would be the one man who would understand – who would take her away from all this – and who would not just squeeze her boob and make a loud honking noise, as all the others had.”

– Ali Kawashima

“She sipped her latte gracefully, unaware of the milk foam droplets building on her mustache, which was not the peachy-fine baby fuzz that Nordic girls might have, but a really dense, dark, hirsute lip-lining row of fur common to southern Mediterranean ladies nearing menopause, and winked at the obviously charmed Spaniard at the next table.”

– Jeanne Villa

“As I gardened, gazing towards the autumnal sky, I longed to run my finger through the trail of mucus left by a single speckled slug – innocuously thrusting past my rhododendrons – and in feeling that warm slime, be swept back to planet Alderon, back into the tentacles of the alien who loved me.”

– Mary E. Patrick

“Before they met, his heart was a frozen block of ice, scarred by the skate blades of broken relationships, then she came along and like a beautiful Zamboni flooded his heart with warmth, scraped away the ugly slushy bits, and dumped them in the empty parking lot of his soul.”

– Howie McClennon

If these can get published, so can you.

Do:

1.  You know that one really interesting scene you’re itching to write?  Start with that.

Momentum is an important thing in storytelling.  If you set a fast, infectious beat, you and your reader will be itching to dance along with it.  

Similarly, slow, drowsy openers tend to lead to slow, drowsy stories that will put you both to sleep.

I see a lot of posts joking about “that awkward moment when you sit down to write but don’t know how to get to that one scene you actually wanted to write about.”  Write that scene!  If it’s at all possible, start off with it.  If not, there are still ways you can build your story around the scenes you actually want to write.

Keep in mind:  if you’re bored, your reader will almost certainly be bored as well.  So write what you want to write.  Write what makes you excited.  Don’t hold off until later, when it “really gets good.”  Odds are, the reader will not wait around that long, and you’re way more likely to become disillusioned with your story and quit.  If a scene is dragging, cut it out.  Burn bridges, find a way around.  Live, dammit. 

2.  Engage the reader.

There are several ways to go about this.  You can use wit and levity, you can present a question, and you can immerse the reader into the world you’ve created.  Just remember to do so with subtlety, and don’t try too hard;  believe me, it shows.  

Here are some of my personal favorite examples of engaging opening lines: 

“In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." 

– Douglas Adams, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

"It was the day my grandmother exploded.”

– Iain Banks, Crow Road.

“A white Pomeranian named Fluffy flew out of the a fifth-floor window in Panna, which was a grand-new building with the painter’s scaffolding still around it. Fluffy screamed.”

– Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games.

See what I’m saying?  They pull you in and do not let go.

3.  Introduce us to a main character (but do it right.)

“Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough and looked don’t-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot about how much he loved his wife.”

– Neil Gaiman, American Gods.

This is one of my favorite literary openings of all time, because right off the bat we know almost everything we need to know about Shadow’s character (i.e. that he’s rugged, pragmatic, and loving.)   

Also note that it doesn’t tell us everything about Shadow:  it presents questions that make us want to read more.  How did Shadow get into prison?  When will he get out?  Will he reunite with his wife?  There’s also more details about Shadow slowly sprinkled in throughout the book, about his past, personality, and physical appearance.  This makes him feel more real and rounded as a character, and doesn’t pull the reader out of the story.

Obviously, I’m not saying you should rip off American Gods.  You don’t even need to include a hooker eating a guy with her cooch if you don’t want to.  

But this, and other successful openers, will give you just enough information about the main character to get the story started;  rarely any good comes from infodumping, and allowing your reader to get to know your character gradually will make them feel more real.   

4.  Learn from the greats.

My list of my favorite opening lines (and why I love them) is right here.

5.  Keep moving.  

The toughest part of being a writer is that it’s a rare and glorious occasion when you’re actually satisfied with something you write.  And to add another layer of complication, what you like best probably won’t be what your readers will like best. 

If you refuse to keep moving until you have the perfect first chapter, you will never write anything beyond your first chapter.  

Set a plan, and stick to it:  having a daily/weekly word or page goal can be extremely helpful, especially when you’re starting out.  Plotting is a lifesaver (some of my favorite posts on how to do so here, here, and here.)

Keep writing, keep moving, and rewrite later.  If you stay in one place for too long, you’ll never keep going. 

Best of luck, and happy writing.  <3

I called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. But that’s what he was

Now that he’s dead, the old sleaze in the Playboy mansion is being spoken of as some kind of liberator of women. Quite the opposite

Long ago, in another time, I got a call from a lawyer. Hugh Hefner was threatening a libel action against me and the paper I worked for at the time, for something I had written. Journalists live in dread of such calls. I had called Hefner a pimp. To me this was not even controversial; it was self-evident. And he was just one of the many “libertines” who had threatened me with court action over the years.

It is strange that these outlaws have recourse in this way, but they do. But at the time, part of me wanted my allegation to be tested in a court of law. What a case it could have made. What a hoot it would have been to argue whether a man who procured, solicited and made profits from women selling sex could be called a pimp. Of course, central to Playboy’s ideology is the idea that women do this kind of thing willingly; that at 23 they want nothing more than to jump octogenarians.

Now that he’s dead, the disgusting old sleaze in the smoking jacket is being spoken of as some kind of liberator of women. Kim Kardashian is honoured to have been involved. Righty ho.

I don’t really know which which women were liberated by Hefner’s fantasies. I guess if you aspired to be a living Barbie it was as fabulous as it is to be in Donald Trump’s entourage. Had we gone to court, I would like to have heard some of the former playmates and bunnies speak up in court – because over the years they have.

The accounts of the “privileged few” who made it into the inner sanctum of the 29-room Playboy mansion as wives/girlfriends/bunny rabbits are quite something. In Hefner’s petting zoo/harem/brothel, these interchangeable blondes were put on a curfew. They were not allowed to have friends to visit. And certainly not boyfriends. They were given an “allowance”. The big metal gates on the mansion that everyone claimed were to keep people out of this “nirvana” were described by one-time Hefner “girlfriend no 1” Holly Madison in her autobiography thus: “I grew to feel it was meant to lock me in.”

The fantasy that Hefner sold was not a fantasy of freedom for women, but for men. Women had to be strangely chaste but constantly available for the right price. Dressing grown women as rabbits – once seen as the height of sophistication – is now seen as camp and ironic. There are those today who want to celebrate Hefner’s contribution to magazine journalism, and I don’t dispute that Playboy did use some fantastic writers. of Hefner’s business acumen was to make the selling of female flesh respectable and hip, to make soft porn acceptable. Every man’s dream was to have Hefner’s lifestyle. Apparently. Every picture of him, right to the end, shows him with his lizard smirk surrounded by blonde clones. Every half-wit on Twitter is asking if Hefner will go to heaven when he already lived in it.

But listen to what the women say about this heaven. Every week, Izabella St James recalls, they had to go to his room and “wait while he picked the dog poo off the carpet – and then ask for our allowance. A thousand dollars counted out in crisp hundred dollar bills from a safe in one of his bookcases.”

If any of them left the mansion and were not available for club nights where they were paraded, they didn’t get their allowance. The sheets in the mansion were stained. There was to be no bickering between girlfriends. No condoms could be used. A nurse sometimes had to be called to Hefner’s “grotto” if he’d had a fall. Nonetheless, these young women would have to perform.

Hefner – repeatedly described as an icon for sexual liberation – would lie there with, I guess, an iconic erection, Viagra-ed to the eyeballs. The main girlfriend would then be called to give him oral sex. There was no protection and no testing. He didn’t care, wrote Jill Ann Spaulding. Then the other women would take turns to get on top of him for two minutes while the girls in the background enacted lesbian scenarios to keep “Daddy” excited. Is there no end to this glamour?

Well now there is, of course. But this man is still being celebrated by people who should know better. You can dress it up with talk of glamour and bunny ears and fishnets, you can talk about his contribution to gonzo journalism, you can contextualise his drive to free up sex as part of the sexual revolution. But strip it all back and he was a man who bought and sold women to other men. Isn’t that the definition of a pimp? I couldn’t possibly say.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/28/hugh-hefner-pimp-sue-playboy-mansion

Harry Styles Bridges Past and Present at Stirring Tour Kickoff Show

Outside San Francisco’s Masonic, a modest but modern venue nestled in the city’s upscale Nob Hill neighborhood, thousands of Harry Styles fans had spent hours – some, even days – waiting on the steep sidewalks. The mob would feel smaller inside the venue, during a show that was the most intimate many of them had ever seen the boy-band heartthrob play.

It was more than the screams that made Styles’ first official tour date as a solo artist feel like he was playing to a football stadium rather than a theater. At 23 years old and with only 10 songs to his name, Styles has the charm, presence and feistiness of a veteran rocker twice his age, strutting and strumming across the stage with a delicate power that makes him seem as accessible as he is otherworldly.

Styles and his carefully curated band took the stage Tuesday night after Muna, a California electro-pop trio that brought the house down with a one-two punch of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” and their own “I Know a Place.” Lead singer Katie Gavin set the tone for the night, building upon the joyous mood of the crowd. “Harry has built his career, his essence, on kindness,” she earnestly said to deafening screams.

After a brief delay due to a fire alarm that dared to shut the whole night down, Styles finally made his grand entrance to a loop of the “Ever Since New York” harmonies, already intoxicating on his self-titled debut album but nearly hypnotic as the lights dimmed to reveal his guitar-holding silhouette on the pink and floral curtain that was hung after Muna left the stage. Here, we were introduced to Harry’s first persona of the night: folk troubadour. From “New York” on, he displayed his most tender, rootsy side, performing more album ballad cuts like “Two Ghosts” and “Sweet Creature” – the latter met with a sea of fan-made pink hearts that were held up throughout the song. Much earlier than anticipated, Styles reminded everyone exactly where he came from, offering a tender take on the anthemic One Direction fan favorite “Stockholm Syndrome.”

Following “Sweet Creature,” Styles disposed of his floral jacket – part of a matching, two-piece floral suit – and launched into Act II: raucous rocker. A Jagger-ian strut propelled his body across the stage during “Only Angel,” and he gyrated to the sexy “Woman.” During that same track, a fan threw a rainbow flag on stage, and in direct opposition to the song’s heteronormative storyline, he subversively twirled around with it before attaching it to his microphone where it remained for the rest of the main set.

By this point, Styles had completely loosened up, shedding the semi-serious (possibly even nervous) mode of his set’s first half. He began to perform a few covers, a twist that was as crowd-pleasing as it was brilliant. He first tackled “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” a piano ballad he co-wrote that Ariana Grande sung on her 2014 album My Everything. He turned Grande’s melodrama on its head, remaking the tearjerker as a down-and-dirty country-rock romp. He did the same with One Direction’s massive, unmistakable breakout hit “What Makes You Beautiful,” a bold choice for an artist setting out to forge his own path.

But Styles has proven time and time again that to be a successful solo artist, you don’t necessarily have to let go or even erase your past. As soon as “WMYB” ended, the band launched into the gritty, glammy “Kiwi” which got an even bigger rise from the crowd than the 1D classic did.

Once the song wrapped, Styles marched off the stage with the rainbow flag as the set was re-arranged and his jacket was revived for the “encore.” It was here that he unveiled his third act and his final persona: the subtle superstar. The show’s final 15 minutes featured a tight trio of tracks, beginning with “From the Dining Table,” a gorgeous, simple guitar tune featured only Styles and primary collaborator Mitch Rowland on guitar. Next, he launched into an incredible take on Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” as he celebrated and highlighted the talented quartet of musicians he culled together for his touring band. He could’ve ended the show with the classic cover and it would’ve felt completely natural, charming and on-brand, but of course he had an appropriately epic goodbye up his sleeve with “Sign of the Times,” the single that officially launched his solo career. Styles’ live version of the anthemic, Queen-inspired, nearly six-minute opus was stirring and triumphant as bright lights bathed him and his fans. The singer looked positively radiant as he shared in this moment, one that rightfully belonged to him, with every person in the room, whether physically present or being FaceTimed, Periscoped or live-texted in.

“You are the best friends any person could ever ask for,” he offered sincerely, much earlier in the night. Blurring the lines of fans and friends is not typical rock star behavior, but then again, Harry Styles isn’t shaping up to be your typical rock star.

seven signs

Summary: Bucky feels like he’s falling in love.

Pairing: Bucky Barnes x Reader

Warnings: none - pure fluff!

Word Count: 2.1k [yikes, sorry]

A/N: Here’s my submission for the ever lovely Gen’s @bucky-plums-barnes 8k celebration - congrats again, sweetheart! My prompt was: “You know I only have eyes for you.” - hope you all enjoy :) || masterlist


Originally posted by minmiin1d


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Season 4 complaints

I’ve seen some people posting about how season 4 just ignored all the development in season 3 and yada yada so I decided to make a post about my view on the most popular complaints.

  • “Shiro’s headache and the whole it must be a clone theory was totally put aside because now he pilots Black again!”


Shiro going back to being the black paladin wasn’t him just saying “well let’s try this again just because” and the black lion going “one time is not enough but TWO times hell yeah u my paladin”

No.

The team was in danger, Keith was away and was constantly showing signs that he would end up leaving the team. Another thing, Shiro had to convince Black to let him pilot it.

My point is: Black would not let the paladins fucking die if it could do something to save them. After letting Shiro (or clone Shiro) pilot it Keith decided he was going to leave and BUM there’s no return now and Shiro (or clone Shiro) had to be the black paladin.

Besides, if the clone builds connections with the team and loves them as much real Shiro it will be 1000000 times more heartbreaking to show real Shiro coming back.

  • “Lance’s and Keith’s relationship development was completely thrown away!”


Those kids are at a war. That’s what they’re doing in space, they’re fighting a war. You guys really think Keith (the guys who’s been fighting with all his strength the whole time, who has put his friends in danger just for the possibility of attacking Lotor, who trains more than anyone) is going to focus more on a crush we are not even sure he really has than on the fight against the Galra?

Voltron is not a show about two boys finding more about themselves and slowly falling in love with each other. Their relationship is a SUBPLOT, let the main plot run its course for God’s sake.

  • “Lance’s character development was ignored and now he’s back to the way he was in season 1!!”


Lance didn’t really open up for the team about his insecurities. He had one good talk with Keith, who left, and that’s it. Lance may be self-centered but he’s not self-centered enough to put his problems above the war they’re fighting. The whole thing about Lance’s character is that he hides his insecurities behind a mask of confidence and jokes.

Moreover, being insecure doesn’t mean being sad all the fucking time. He genuinely enjoyed being an actor and doing performances and flying around so let the boy be happy.

He never stopped being a flirt either.

  • “Lotor’s generals would not turn on him like that!”


We don’t know that. In fact, we know close to nothing about Lotor’s relationship with his generals.

As much as I love the idea of all the characters getting good development I know that’s not really possible. The show is not about Lotor and his generals, is about team voltron.

Besides, we might get some more information in the future, just like how it was done with Zarkon’s backstory.

  • “Keith leaving the team ruined the dynamic season 3 built!”


Firstly, Keith never wanted to be the leader and after the talk he had with Lance it was obvious he would not claim Red back when Shiro came back. Secondly, the Blade kind of represents a family to him in a sense, they’re a connection to his past. With Shiro being back and Red having a good pilot, Keith saw the possibility of helping team Voltron and the Blade at the same time. He took the opportunity.

In season 3, Keith wasn’t the leader because he wanted to, he was the leader because he had to. Now he can do something he really wants to do instead of being stuck in a position he doesn’t consider his own. Be happy for the guy.

  • “Lotor has barely been introduced as a main antagonist and is already having a redemption arc!”


Lotor’s intentions were very different from Zarkon’s intentions. He wasn’t after Voltron like crazy, trying to destroy the Lions or get them for himself. Lotor had a very specific plan and just used his position as the new leader of the Galra empire to to help him with it.

The talk he wants to have is not a “Wow I’m suddenly a good guy”. Lotor’s is an enemy for the Galra now and if wants his plan to succeed he needs allies. My enemy’s enemy is my best friend. Team voltron kind of has a debt to Lotor now that he literally saved everyone so he has an advantage.

Lotor doesn’t want to become a hero, he just wants his plan to work.


That’s it. Might do a part 2 later.

Missing Link

Missing Link (m)

Word count: 6.3k

Genre/Warnings: smut, angst, fluff, talk of masterbation and language

Pairing: Yoongi x Reader

Summary: You catch Yoongi playing with himself before a night out and some part of you wants to join him. That’s crazy though, he’s your best friend… Right?


“Yoongi~”

“Yes, Y/N?” Yoongi said as he watched tv, happy to be home after a long day with you. 


“Will you please go with me tonight? I don’t want to go by myself.”

Yoongi sighed on the couch next to you. “Y/N, i’m too old to be going to these college parties.”

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Prodigy - Teacher AU

“Could you just close the door and come over here? You have no reason to rush out, I didn’t post your grade. I want to discuss it in person.”

You swallowed hard at his words but did as you were told, closing the classroom door and going over to his desk. He was looking through the stack of students’ sketchbooks on his desk, presumably for your own. He pulled one of of the stack and laid it in the middle of his desk, and you froze. 

You could feel all color draining from your face once you noticed which sketchbook he had pulled out of the pile. There was a Hello Kitty sticker stuck to the top right corner of it, indicating it was your sketchbook.

Your personal sketchbook.

word count: 10.1k

genre: fluff & smut (a lot of soft/domestic stuff, concludes w smut)

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♛ Exposing BTS Series ♛ Namjoon: A Born Leader (Part I)

Originally posted by ksjknj

Just from looking at his signs and aspects, one can tell that we are dealing with a man of great talent and purpose. Looking further into his natal chart confirms this. Let’s see what truly makes Namjoon our golden leader.

(extremely long, detailed text/gif heavy post ahead!)

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youtube

Okay yeah okay yeah okay 

WARNING: RANT AHEAD

I can’t even pretend it’s anything else XD

so normally I’m like very chill and open-minded about this kind of thing; like okay people give the *probably* hard-working movie-studio a chance, you haven’t even seen the movie yet, let’s not go bashing something before it’s arrived okay.

and I never want to make a big deal out of “not approving of” something, that’s just not my style, nor do I enjoy planting seeds of negativity in a world that’s got enough of that already holy crap XD

but

I’m sorry

you done hit a nerve, Sony. And that’s just me taking it personally, which I don’t have a right to do… but damn it, Sony, you’ve made it kind of difficult with this one. 

As you can probably imagine, I’m a fan of Beatrix Potter’s work; which, fyi, appeared in the early 1900′s as illustrated children’s stories featuring Peter Rabbit and many of the animals seen in this trailer. Needless to say, these stories mean a lot to me… I would go so far as to say they’ve shaped me as a human being, and as an artist; Ms. Potter remains one of my personal patron saints. 

This trailer (at the risk of sounding like a prude) offends me, not because it strays from the classic material (God knows, the written word is no more sacred these days than a hand-me-down sweater), but because it shits on it. It takes the world Ms. Potter created, gives you a glimpse of what it looked like, then slaps you in the face for smiling fondly at the sight of a familiar, jacket-wearing bunny, and proceeds to (very loudly and crudely) inform you of how outdated, useless, babyish, and uncool the old stories are. “But don’t worry, Sony’s here to make them cool again, with CGI party animals, pop culture references, a creepy sexual undertone, and tried-and-true sight gags like ‘naked’ animals and two guys screaming at each other for five minutes!”

In honesty, I wouldn’t have been thrilled, but I could have stomached a “modern times” version of Peter Rabbit. If it had treated the original stories with a semblance of respect, I could have dealt with it. I can deal with the stupid Nick Jr. cartoon that’s been airing (though make no mistake, I’m still bitter about the American accents and significantly, badly altered character designs). At least you can tell it has some respect for Ms. Potter’s Lake District world. 

Unless this trailer is lying to me, it doesn’t appear that this movie has anything resembling respect for its source material, and that is what offends me. Not the dumb gags, the adult angle, or the cultural appropriation (though, c’mon, that’s all bad). It’s the lack of respect for a classic that has been a part of so many people’s growing up, that has changed the face of children’s publishing over the more than 100 years since its genesis. In the trailer, mischievous adventurer Peter is a stereotypical charismatic party animal… he sorta strikes me as a much less well-meaning Ferris Beuller. And Mr. Tod, one of (in my humble opinion) literature’s darkest, most calculatingly evil, and frightening villains is reduced to a bad-tempered tagalong. I could go on, but I’m exhausted already. 

I just

Ugh. 

While we’re crapping on modernizing children’s classics, why don’t we just remake Ted and replace the main characters with Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin? 

Bts | Reaction | Checkmate✔️

[ i live for these mafia/gangsta aus! thanks so much for requesting this, i love you so much, enjoy :)) ]

Seokjin

➸ You hadn’t caught his eye just yet, him merely seeing you as another waitress threatened with your life to serve him anything he desired. This business meeting was nothing but intense, the atmosphere suffocating as the topic was on murder. Now, for a normal servant they wouldn’t even bat an eye on the conversation - but that’s just it. 

You were new. 

And it probably was just your luck to be working on the day they decided to be…descriptive as to what they planned to do to the rat among them. A little squeamish, you couldn’t help but shake uncontrollably when you poured Jin another glass of wine, biting your lip with so much strength that you were sure it was bleeding.

“Yoongi, for the last time, we are not using acid. I almost lost my fucking arm trying to clean it up the last time we used it.” Namjoon groans, rubbing his temples in aggravation. “What is it with you and melting skin?” 

“He’s a sadist, that’s why.” Jimin snickers. “I say we cut off the fingers, one by one. Then, leave him to bleed out - slowly.” 

You couldn’t help but gulp at the mere thought of someone’s fingers being cut off, or their skin melting off; what was wrong with these people? Do they find it entertaining doing these things-

“Yah!” 

The abrupt shout coming from Jin shocks you back into reality, as your heart drops at the sight of the overflowed wine glass, now all over the white table cloth and his dress pants. Losing the ability to breathe, you stand there with your mouth agape in terror, eyes wide like a deer in front of headlights. Sputtering out apologies left and right, you set the bottle down to hurriedly clean him up as much as you could with the hem of your dress - it being the only thing available. 

“I-I’m sorry, please, forgive me - I didn’t mean to, I was only just-” 

Before you could finish your plea, your breath is once again caught in your throat as rough fingers grip your jaw, lifting your head back up so he could get a good look at you. The room is now silent, which you concluded to be much worse than their conversation. You didn’t even notice you had tears until he used his other hand to wipe them away, gently. Never had you ever been so confused until this very moment - Jin was never gentle. You know from witnessing what he was really capable of.  

“Calm down, it’s alright. It was only an accident, right?” You take a minute to nod slowly, but once you did, he smiles. That only seems to scare you rather than put you at ease. “No need to be scared. Why don’t we get you cleaned up, hm?” 

Before you had a chance to answer, Jin had already latched onto your forearm, while standing from his seat. It was as if wine had never been spilled as he gave the conference table one last look. “Continue without me, I’ll be back shortly. And get someone to clean up this mess.” 

Taking a look at them as well, you didn’t understand as to why they all had knowing grins as they waved the two of you off. What was going to happened to you? Was he just playing tricks, was this the end for you? Your breathing only came in chops as he escorted you out of the room, the tears cascading down your face as you whimpered. 

“Please, don’t kill me! I have a family, please, I didn’t mean to spill-” You were cut off once again, only this time in an incredibly different way. Blinking rapidly, you moaned in surprised as his lips crashed onto yours, his hands rested on your lower back, pulling you in close. 

What was this you were feeling? 

This wasn’t the Kim Seokjin you’ve come to know for the past week, he never even gave you a passing glance - he didn’t know you existed until today. How come this kiss felt like he’s known you forever? 

After a few minutes, the two of you pulled away desperately in need for air, his hands now finding a new area to caress as he stared into your eyes. 

“I..I don’t understand…” 

“Have you any idea how long I’ve been searching for you? How long I’ve waited, and yet here you were this whole time - serving me wine.” Seeing that you were still confused, Jin chuckles softly. “What’s your name?” 

“Y-Y/n…”

“Y/n.” He repeated, allowing the name to slip off his tongue, like butter. “Such a pretty name, it suits you.” 

“So..you’re not gonna kill me, or cut my fingers off, or bathe me in acid-”

“Now, how could I do that to my soulmate?” Feeling your heart nearly stop, you practically choke on air at the word. “Sorry you had to hear all of that, from now on, you no longer have to serve me. And you have a family, you say? I’d like to meet them, they shall be protected for as long as I’m breathing, as well as you.”

“Whoa, wait, slow down. I-I’m your…b-but how could you possibly know?! Just five minutes ago, you didn’t know who I was, and now all of the sudden we’re soulmates? I just…I don’t understand.” Yes, everything was crashing onto you all at once, but you didn’t pull away from him. You let him continue to hold you; his presence oddly feeling right.

Jin couldn’t help but to laugh, the feeling of relief that he finally found you was enough to put him a constant good mood. Not even you’re obliviousness could annoy him; whether you believed him or not, he would get you see someday that he was made for you.

“There’s plenty of time to explain all of this - but wouldn’t you rather get cleaned up? This wine is starting to feel a little sticky.” 

The events of earlier almost made you forget the small slip up you made - realizing that it all came down to just overfilling a wine glass. If you hadn’t have been so careless, would you be in this situation? Would everything had been different if you hadn’t have screwed up? 

Was this fate? If he wasn’t going to kill you, why not at least see where all of this was going to lead. What was the worst that could happen? 

Nodding slowly, this time he went for your hand, leading the way to what you assumed to be his bedroom. 

“We are meant to be, my love. I’ll show you.” 

Yoongi 

➸ If there was anything else Yoongi could do, he would pick it in a heartbeat. He’d rather watch paint dry than wander around this party, surrounded by a whole bunch of idiots who were drunk off their asses while carrying lethal weapons. If anything, he feared for his life rather than enjoyed the event. To be honest he couldn’t even remember why he was there in the first place. 

“Attention, could I have everyone’s attention. I would like to thank you all for attending this special occasion. The day my only child takes over the family business.”

Ah, that’s right. He was sent to put in a good word for вts to the new mafia boss of BigHit; just to make sure there continued to be no bad blood between them. He didn’t know what the big deal was, just some guy getting a new position in something that was merely child’s play - in his opinion. Why was there a need for such a big fuss over one dude? 

Man, was he in for a kick in the balls when you walked out. You were far from being ‘some guy’ or a ‘dude’. You were a woman. And the ‘big fuss’ was because BigHit had never been run by a woman before. Especially not a woman that looked like pure sex. Yoongi nearly choked on his drink when you strutted out for the whole party to see, cheers erupting all around him, yet he couldn’t hear a thing. It was like all his senses were circled in on you, even senses he didn’t know he had were all focused. 

“My daughter, Y/n, the first female to ever run the empire. Babygirl - make daddy proud.” Yoongi couldn’t help but to fantasize about saying those final words to you someday, biting his lip as his eyes scanned you up and down. Definitely a sight for sore eyes, that’s for sure. He could only pray to the man in the sky, thanking that Jin-hyung made him come to this event.

Clearing his throat, he joined in the claps that congratulated their new boss, all sending their best wishes and positive vibes. Honestly, he couldn’t wait to be alone with her to discuss ‘business’. He watched you intensely as you made your way down the stairs, dress flowing behind you so elegantly it should be considered illegal to look as good as you did. You greeted anyone that was in your path - from hugs, to handshakes, to the friendly kisses on the cheek. 

But, as soon as you got to him - everything stopped. As if your brain had completely shut off, and you were merely a hallow shell. You didn’t even blink, your mouth hanging open like a fool as you stood in front of him with your arms open. 

If he hadn’t cleared his throat, you probably would have been stuck like that for a little while. Shaking your head, you chuckle nervously, reaching over to shake his hand. 

“So sorry, I don’t know what came over me for a second. You must be Yoongi, Seokjin told me that you would be attending tonight. Pleasure to finally put a face to a name.” When his hand had finally connect with yours, you could have sworn a bolt of electricity sprung up your right arm, almost making you jump back in alarm. Almost

“Pleasure is all mine,” Yoongi pulls you in closer by the hand, leaning down to place a light kiss upon your knuckles. “Miss Y/n.” 

The way your name fell from his lips nearly made you weak in the knees. Blinking a couple of times to compose yourself, you gesture with your other hand in the direction where your new, private office was located. 

“Shall we get down to business, then?” 

Tightening his grip on her hand, he nods slowly as a grin forms upon his lips. “Lead the way.” 

Namjoon 

➸ You two had made eye contact the minute you hit the stage. It was your first night being the main dancer, feeling so confident in yourself that you decided to wear a little something more than inappropriate - snagging Namjoon’s attention in under a second. Not only had he never seen you before, but you did something to him the same way a drug would do. His heart started to race, his palms sweating, everything around him going silent and his vision tunneling in on you and only you. 

For a moment, you forgot your whole routine, or that there were other men in the room you needed to interest; not just him. But, your mind felt as if he was all the attention you wanted - needed, even. You didn’t know what is was, but when the music started, you had no choice but to get into character and finally break eye contact. Namjoon leaned back into his chair, eyes still trained on your swaying figure as you started to dance, licking his lips slowly at your movements being so smooth and precise. 

“Behave yourself, Namjoon, we’ve only just arrived and you’re already eye-fucking one of the dancers.” Jin playfully punches his shoulder, him not flinching. “Yah, what’s the matter with you?” 

Tugging at the sudden tightness at his collar, Namjoon finds the strength to pull his eyes away from you, them now clouded with lust as he tried to allow his heart to slow down. Jin had seen this look before, many times actually, him having had the same look not too long ago. Nodding to his friend, slowly, Jin only chuckles as Namjoon spilled everything without having to say one word. 

“Ah, I see. You think she’s the one?” 

“I don’t think. I know she is.” He notices that your dance was coming close to an end, him not wasting a moment before standing up and adjusting himself. “Don’t wait up, I’m coming home late.” 

“Be gentle with her, Joonie~” Jimin giggles, chugging down yet another shot with Taehyung. “We don’t call you ‘God of Destruction’ for nothing.” 

It was as if you were expecting him when you descended from the stage, already signaling him to follow you to the private section of the club, a teasing little smirk creeping upon you face as you made sure to swing your hips with exaggeration as you walked. Raising an eyebrow in interest, Namjoon couldn’t help but chuckle darkly as he happily started to follow you. 

“I think she can handle me.”  

Hoseok 

➸ Hoseok knew this was coming, eventually. He drank his poison and merely waited for it take effect, it was only a matter of time. He knew his wife was going to rat him out the minute she discovered the secrecy he’s kept from her for so long. 

“I hope that bitch was worth it, and that you rot in hell, Jung Hoseok!” 

He would only roll his eyes, as the police finished handcuffing them all, escorting them outside. There were millions of flashing lights as soon as they stepped foot through the doors; from reporters to people with camera phones, all taking pictures of the notorious mafia gang finally being brought to justice. 

Hoseok couldn’t help but to smile. These poor, naive fools.

People continuously shouted at them, from insults to curses, all saying this was a new beginning - now that the terrorists were finally going to be put behind bars, once and for all. Once the doors to the van were slammed shut, the seven of them looked at each other before all busting into a fit of laughter. The sound of the engine starting was loud enough to drown it out from anyone of the outside, driving away at lightening speed until the flashing lights of the cameras were submerged to nothing but tiny specks in the distance. 

For a straight ten minutes into the drive, they couldn’t keep from laughing - the whole situation seeming unreal and just hilarious to them. It wasn’t until the van had come to a complete stop did they all finally compose themselves enough to catch their breaths. Opening the double doors, they were greeted by a silhouette covered from head to toe in black, wearing a police helmet to hide their face; the laughter then returned once again. 

“Stop looking so fucking intimidating, your Oscar for world’s best actress is in the mail, Y/n.” Taehyung sarcastically remarked, you chuckling in response as your remove the helmet. Climbing into the van, you go over to Hoseok first, leaning downward to kiss him passionately - the guys not missing a beat to let out groans of disgust, mixed in with their laughter. 

“I always knew that tramp would sing like a canary. Not my fault her husband happened to my soulmate - and I sure as hell wasn’t going to share you for much longer, Hobi~” You unchained him from his handcuffs, so he could hold you properly as the two of you shared another kiss. 

“Yah, you two can ravish each other later! Right now, we gotta move, before the police realize this van never showed up to it’s original destination.” Namjoon warned. 

Pecking his lips one more time, you rush over to uncuff the rest of вts, them not wasting time to strip out of their suits. Putting on the casual clothing you had packed for them ahead of time, Yoongi then spread the inside of the van with gasoline as well as their previous clothing. Helping to push the vehicle into a nearby ditch, Hoseok held up a box of matches, his eyes piercing into your own. 

“Y/n. It is your choice if you want to continue on with us, or not. I’m going to be honest, once the feds catch on they will hunt us down like dogs, and it’s not going to be easy. I won’t make you do something you don’t want to-” 

You kiss him hard on the mouth before he could finish his speech, wrapping your arms around his neck to hold him close, signifying that you weren’t going anywhere. After pulling away from the passionate kiss, you happily take the matches from his hand, striking one of them - watching the flame come to life in the dark night. Taking a deep breath, you throw it toward the van, it perfectly landing on the roof of it. Not even seconds later did a blanket of fire start to spread around the vehicle, it being completely engulfed into the flames. The maknaes hoop and holler at the moon, dancing around with each other as the rest of you merely watched it burn. 

Hoseok wraps his arms around your waist, pulling you in close to place a kiss on your forehead. “This isn’t going to be fun, you know.”

You chuckle, resting your head in the crook of his neck. “If you’re trying to scare me into leaving, it’s not gonna work. I’m with you till the end, Hobi, until the day I die.” 

He could only smile, your response making his heart race uncontrollably - something his wife could never do. You were the breath of fresh air he’s been looking for. Sure everything he’s worked for is practically gone thanks to you, but he didn’t mind starting over. It was a small price to pay, for you. 

“I love you, Y/n. Until the day I die.”

Jimin 

➸ Unfortunately, you were on his hit list. Someone had called him in to finish the job, getting rid of the witness who had gotten away with too much information. But, there was no record that you even existed, besides a name and the location where you worked. You kept a low profile, due to your reputation of being a well known snitch, only the last thing you spied on - you were sloppy. They saw you sneaking out of the window when you felt like you’ve gotten all that you needed. They didn’t see your face, but they knew enough to track you down - for him to track you down. 

Jimin entered the bar, dressed in nothing but black as he scanned the area. Checking over the exits, giving an educated guess of how many people were in the place, playing out all the possibly scenarios that could unfold tonight. The worst that could happen is that the police could get involved, allowing you to get away, and fail the mission. But, Jimin was a lot of things; a failure wasn’t one of them. 

The only information he was given was that you were either a server here, or a performer in one of the cages that hung from the ceiling. He knew that no one had seen your face before, but he felt that he could put a name of a face. Jimin wouldn’t be good at what he did if he couldn’t. Scanning the cages, none of the girls that shamelessly flashed their naked bodies seemed to fit the small profile. Huffing, he crosses the cages out; only one thing left to investigate. 

Sitting at one of tables, he pressed the button in front of him to gain service from one of the waitresses that would migrate all over the place. It took no more than five minutes for one of them to finally make their way over to him, notepad in hand, with sweat glistening off their face and nearly exposed torso; he nearly giggles at the faint appearance of glitter. It wasn’t until his eyes had landed on your face did the look of amusement completely melt from his features, quickly replaced with the blank one he had came in with. Trying to catch your breath in the stuffy bar, you didn’t even notice his face yet in the dimly lit area where the table was located. 

Jimin gulps, trying to keep himself calm before his heart nearly busted out of his chest. It couldn’t be you, it just couldn’t. He prayed to god that it wasn’t, that you were someone random who worked here, that his instincts were wrong this one time. When you had finally caught your breath, chuckling softly, you politely bowed in apology - still haven’t lifted your head up to look at him. 

“I am terribly sorry to have kept you waiting, sir. My name is Y/n, I’ll be your server for tonight, what can I get for yo-…” You had then looked up, your professional smile dropping to a look of pure terror, as you took a small step back. Jimin’s blank expression switched to something that seemed as if he were in physical pain, tears forming in his eyes as he couldn’t bear to look into your terrified ones. 

You knew who he was, and what he was there to do. That only seemed to pain Jimin even further as the rapid beating of his heart only confirmed his worst nightmare: he’d have to kill his soulmate. 

“Y/n, I’m begging you…please run.” 

Taehyung 

➸ Taehyung had a reputation of being incapable of feeling anything. Emotions he once had in the past completely erased from his genetic code thanks to the rough teachings from his father. He grew up with no warmth of a mother’s touch, no grandmother, nor sister, just merely male presence for as long as he can remember. 

He hated smiling. Anytime his father caught him even so much as grinning, he earned himself a beating. He hated laughing. Anytime he would laugh for having fun, another beating, then no dinner. He hated crying. Anytime Tae would cry after a beating, or from hunger, he would only get beat even more - and possibly the loss of food privileges for a whole week. After a while, Kim Taehyung learned to not feel a thing. It’s the only thing that kept him alive. 

When he arrived at the party, he was greeted with friendly smiles, warm welcomes, you name it - they wanted to make him feel special. After his father’s death recently, he had been promoted to head boss - taking the news with a blank expression and curt nod. Never shed a tear about his father, or for this grand opportunity he’s been trained for since birth. He felt nothing. 

Jin accompanied Taehyung, being his ride to the event. Jin’s job was to be his smile, his laugh, anything that had to do with emotion - Jin was the man to be called. But, if the eldest didn’t know any better, he could’ve sworn he had seen Taehyung grinning at something when they entered; for a split second. 

“I’m gonna go scout for the others, and find our reserved table. Don’t do anything rash, remember your temper.” 

“Aish, Jin-hyung, you’re like the mother I never had.” Taehyung spoke with monotone, his hooded eyes never faltering. “I’ll be a good boy.” 

Jin raises his eyebrow in confusion. “Did…Did you just make a joke?” 

Blinking a couple of times, Taehyung turns away from him while looking anywhere else to distract this tingly feeling at his finger tips. Shrugging slightly, he starts walking away without another word to Jin, leaving him to stand there for moment. Scoffing softly, he just shakes his head. He would forever be a mystery to him. 

Taehyung walked forward with no particular destination, but he couldn’t stop. He was looking for something, someone perhaps, he just didn’t know who. It wasn’t until he had ran into a server with a tray in their hands did he snap out of his zombie-like state. A small gasp made him look down at the mess he had created, the girl in front of him looking as if she had just seen as ghost. Bowing multiple times, you apologize multiple times in one breath, lowering to floor to quickly gather everything you dropped so you could escape his sight before he could catch a good look at your face. The last thing you needed was to turn up dead the next day all because of a clumsy mistake. 

But, it wasn’t your fault, and he knew that. 

Everything around the two of had stopped, everyone staring in equal shock and sympathy as they all concluded that you probably just made the biggest mistake of your life. Taehyung stared down at you once more, eye twitching slightly as tears cascaded down your face as you practically begged for forgiveness for getting his blazer all messy. He didn’t like the sight, not in the slightest - usual he would find joy in someone pleading for mercy, but coming from you - it didn’t leave the right taste in his mouth. 

Without hesitation, Taehyung drops to his knees, helping you pick up the shattered glass piece by piece. You lowered your head even further to keep from making eye contact, afraid to see the look of rage in his eyes. He looked you over for a moment, seeing multiple cuts all over your hands from picking up shards of glass with your bare hands in such a hurry to get away from him. You looked so fragile, so scared, so…cute. It had been a while since he’s seen something like that. Gently as he could, he gripped your chin, lifting your head up to finally make eye contact with him. 

Gasping softly once again, your breathing stops altogether when you see all the emotion held in such soft brown eyes. They were so wide, so curious, nothing like in the stories people would gossip about on the streets. Tears still leaked from your eyes as you sat still, in fear that one wrong move could set him off. Taehyung on the other hand couldn’t understand this rapid beating in his chest, the same way it did when he first saw you when he came in - you were the one Jin almost caught him grinning at. 

“What’s your name?” He finally spoke, voice low so not to frighten you. “Please, tell me your name. I’m not going to hurt you, just please…” 

Gulping, you blink away a few more tears, sniffling before answering. “Y/n. My name is L/n Y/n. I’m 19 years old, I have no family except my little sister at home who needs me, she’s only 6, I bed you, please don’t…”

You start to choke on your own words at the tears once again started to flow, clenching Taehyung’s heart to the point he was extremely confused as to what this feeling was. Never has he experienced anything like this before, it being so long to where he’s forgotten the name for it. Pain? Anger? Sadness? 

Whatever it was, he didn’t want you expressing it any longer. Not wasting another moment, he picks you up into his arms, practically cradling you in way he could only wish someone did for him growing up. He not only surprised those all around him, and you, but himself as well. Blinking a couple of times, he glares.

“Don’t you all have work to do?” 

Just that alone was enough to make everyone practically sprint in different directions. Taehyung only scoffs before heading the direction went in, making you tense up in his arms more than before. 

“W-Where are you taking me?” 

He doesn’t answer, just keeps walking forward. When he had finally come across the rest of his group, they all stared up at him with either confusion or surprised; perhaps a combination of both. Tae takes his seat, not even considering their feelings about how this must look to them, now resting you on his lap. You practically vibrated in his hold, very confused as why you were there or what he wanted from you. What really shocked you the most would be how he wrapped his arms around your middle, hugging you to his chest while nuzzling his head into the crook of your neck. 

Looking over his table for any explanation, you weren’t expecting them to all sudden have some kind of mental understanding as to why he was acting this way. Taehyung leans upward until he felt close enough to your ear, whispering softly into your ear that made your blood run cold. 

“I’m keeping you. You make me feel again.”

Jungkook 

➸ Jungkook was to be on his best behavior at this dinner, having been told that it was a meeting between long term rivals to finally end any bad blood that was between them. He understood completely; don’t be disrespectful, no dirty looks, don’t even so much as open his mouth. If they wanted this to be a sure thing, then he needed to be the golden maknae he’s been trained to be. 

Sure, that seemed like an easy to do, it’s nothing new to be told those rules whenever there was a meeting of importance. The only difference in this particular meeting that almost made shit hit the fan - their rival’s daughter was not only smoking hot…but also his soulmate. Now, Jungkook being the youngest, it was a whole lot harder to hide intense emotions that finding your soulmate could do to you. Just the sight of you made his heart race, his only focus being you as all his thoughts were only interested on what your name was, where had you been all his life, and how did you like your eggs in the morning after spending a night with him? The longer he looked at you, the more sinful his mind turned - to the point Jimin had to pinch him in the arm to bring his focus back on the meeting before anyone noticed. 

“What the hell could you possibly be staring at that hard?” He hissed under his breath, before blushing hard and looking elsewhere. “Are you aroused? Right now, are you fucking kidding me, Jungkook?” 

“It’s not my fault!” He bit back, blush covering his face as well. Wincing slightly at the sudden pain in his ankle, he jets his eyes to his left to see that Yoongi was give the two of them a warning glare. Jungkook couldn’t help the increasing tightness in his pants, having to bite his tongue to keep from whimpering at the slight throb. “Oh, fuck, it hurts…” 

He tried with all his might to hold in any noises he wanted so bad to let out, having to rest his head in his hands to take deep breaths to calm his racing heart. It wouldn’t have been overlook if his elbows hadn’t have slammed into the table - the sound echoing around the once tranquil meeting that was now more of an awkward silence. Jungkook could practically feel all eyes on him, and hear the faint sound of Namjoon face palming. Lifting his head up slowly, he sheepishly smiles. 

“S-Sorry…migraine.” He quickly covered, the boss not seeming to look fooled. But, with a small nod, he gestures for someone to come forward. Jungkook nearly choked on his spit when you walked past him, swearing that you had just ran your finger tips over his back. When you made it over to your father, he whispered something in your ear - you soon nodding that you understood. 

Walking over to him yet again, you placed your hands on his shoulders, leaning down to flash him a warm smile that nearly made him faint right then and there. Without speaking, Jungkook stood, crossing his hands in front of his crotch area to hide the evident bulge that was forming. Following your lead, the two of you exit the room to let them continue the meeting in peace. Once he was positive you were no longer within earshot of the room, he didn’t hesitate to pin you to the wall. 

“What did your father say?” He all but groans in your ear, making sure to grind his lower half into yours to let you know all that you’ve done to him without even touching him. “Does he know you’re my soulmate?” 

“N-No. He just said ‘take care of him’. But, he never specified on how.” You breathlessly spoke, holding onto his broad shoulders as you slowly started to lose your train of thought. The minute he walked in, you were intoxicated. Your vision became blurry, your palm sweaty; your mother had told you all the symptoms, you just never knew they would be this intense. “They way you looked at me, I knew you felt it, too.” 

“Why send you to escort me out, then? Not that I’m complaining.”

You moaned softly as his lips found that one sweet spot near your ear, it becoming harder and harder to think straight. 

“He wants me to learn the family business. He wants me to teach you a lesson, I-I guess - punish you f-for interrupting.” 

Jungkook grins slyly as he finally pulls away from the now purple mark blossoming on your neck. Your flustered state was definitely something he could get used to seeing - even if it had to be behind his hyungs’ backs, or your ruthless father. You were so worth it. 

“Well then…punish me, baby.” 

spellbound (m)

Pairing:  Jimin x Reader
Genre: witch!au (sort of based on the secret circle), smut, comedy, slight angst
Warnings: dom-ish!jimin, magical sex rituals (so slight blood play, breath play, temperature play), rough sex, cumplay
Word Count:  10k+
Summary:  The only reason you agreed to do this magical ritual with Park Jimin’s Circle was for the sake of your own Circle - to strengthen your individual magic. Yes, that means you’ll have to fuck him, but no, you weren’t happy about it because you hate Park Jimin. Once again, you were only doing this for your Circle. 

Keep reading

⇁ tessellate | 01

Originally posted by bangtannoonas

sequel to nudes, not flowers with more angst and more filth

pairing⇁Hoseok x Reader x Jungkook

genre⇁smut, slight angst || fuckboi!au

warnings⇁public indecency, cumplay, exhibitionism, rough sex, dom/sub undertones, dom!junghope, jealousy, mentions of infidelity, sex in front of a mirror, oh n light daddy kink 

word count⇁15k

“ Triangles are my favorite shape
Three points where two lines meet.” (tessellate)

Triangles are supposed to be the strongest and most stable of all geometric shapes. You wonder how true this statement is if applied to real life situations. The way you see it: triangles aren’t a reliable structure for relationships, especially if the parties you’re involved with find commitment to be a foreign concept. 

or : a fuckboy’s guide to polyamory 

start | 01

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anonymous asked:

Hi! You seem to have become a sort of dinner consultant/therapist/cheerleader, which is delightful. I hope you don't mind if I ask a downer question--how do I will myself to make good food when I'm depressed, and feel deep down that I may not deserve proper nourishment? Than you, you're well.

I suffer from Depression, Bipolar, C-PTSD, ADHD and Memory Issues and yeah, I really get that feeling of not having the energy/focus/self-worth to make dinner.  I’m not a therapist or nutritionist, so all I can offer is things that have worked for me, and hope that some of them work for you:

It’s Better To Eat SOMETHING Than Nothing

No really.  There are a LOT of days when I’m too tired, too distractable or just too Blugh to cook.  And for days like that, I have microwave meals, or “put in pot and add water” things, like Mac N Cheese.  They’re not Organic, or Nutritionally Balanced but everything I’ve been told by every doctor and therapist I’ve had: EATING SOMETHING, EVEN MICROWAVE MAC OR CHIPS IS SO, SO MUCH BETTER FOR YOU THAN EATING NOTHING.

Food is not an all-or-nothing deal.  Humans have an amazing ability to take in nutrition from darn near anything that doesn’t kill us, which is part of the reason we’re all over the dang planet.  Any food is good food, esp when you haven’t eaten all day because your brain has been playing a shitty surrealist version of reality for you all day.

So when you CAN cook, cook, but if you can’t, don’t worry too much.  Just get something down your throat, and live to see the next, better, day.

Related: If you can’t do a full meal, but you CAN add *extras* to things to help you.  Tortilla Chips Depression meal? Add Salsa!  BAM! VEGETABLE SERVING!!  Can of beans? CHEESE.  OH LOOK, MORE PROTEIN.  whatever you can add is like, extra credit.  Good job you!

Actually Learning To Cook

So actually learning about food safety, spice theory, what happens chemically to food when you cook it and how to make different styles of cuisine confers a whole bunch of cool benefits for my sometimes-garbage brain:

  • I really like reading and learning new stuff, so making it a “learning a new thing” makes it less like a chore and more of an Interesting Distraction.
  • This doesn’t have to be any form of academically rigorous.  Like, watching cooking shows, looking up stuff online, or hell, googling stuff in the middle of the supermarket if something is on sale and you’re curious but don’t actually know what to do with it.   Good Eats and America’s Test Kitchen are both very educational and soothing to watch.
  • Also cooking shows are GREAT for both my anxiety and stimulating my appetite
  • Reduces the number of Thinking Spoons to actually make dinner.  If I have a general working knowledge of what things taste good and how to make them, it’s a lot less effort than trying to look up and follow a recipe.
  •   GO AHEAD AND USE SHORTCUTS.  No, really.  Those frozen cutlets of fish you stick in a toaster oven? GREAT.  pre-mixed seasoning? AWESOME. Frozen veggies are already cut up and are just as good as fresh.  Like if you don’t have the energy to do something, pre-made stuff is FANTASTIC for getting something healthy into your system for honestly not that much money or less in some cases.

Being Responsible For More Than Myself

The thing that has helped me take care of myself was getting engaged and a dog.  My mental illness has a neat shortcut where when I can’t do things for myself, I can magically do them for other people.  When I cook, I’m cooking for both myself and for my fiance.  Being responsible for making sure he eats a few nights a week is the biggest driving force in getting me to stay on enough of a schedule that I’ll be capable of cooking.  (He cooks other nights and whoever cooks, the other does the dishes.)

I realize that getting hitched is not in the cards for everyone and that’s hardly a reflection of one’s worth, but there are ways to add responsibility to your life if that helps with executive function.  Prior to meeting my fiance, My family had an elderly German shepherd with a sensitive stomach and I cooked him chicken and rice every night for three years on the vet’s recommendation.  Or maybe you cook for a neighbor once a week.  Or tie feeding your cat to you having dinner as well, becuase you can’t take care of fluffy if you’ve got low blood sugar, right?

Eating Is Self-Care, Like Taking Meds or Wearing Comfy Jammies

Another thing that helped me: Realizing that eating made me feel better.  Literally, if I keep my blood sugar stable (Prone to hypoglycemia), my mood’s better, I get fewer headaches, and so on.  What’s Healthy is different for everyone and I recommend talking to a nutritionist at least once to get an idea on what might be unique to you.  Most gyms, community centers or clinics will have someone on staff to help, but you should start by asking your GP for a recommendation.

So when I start too feel poorly, my checklist is “When was the last time I ate? Am I craving something?”  (Along with “Am I dehydrated?”  staying hydrated also helps with appetite issues) and I fin that I usually am.  Sometimes it’s salt, sometimes it’s a whole head of broccoli.  Food is our body’s main means of getting what it needs to survive and giving your body what it needs (even if it’s fat and sugar and carbs, which yes, you need sometimes) will make you feel better, I promise.

Eating Stuff You Actually Like 

Bananas are, allegedly, really good for me.  Potassium, vitamins, good fats etc.   They also taste like satan’s own diabetic mucus and I’m never gonna eat one if I can’t help it.  Just, No.  Don’t force yourself to eat things just becuase they’re healthy.  That’ll only make you hate eating.

Like I mentioned before, you, presumed human, can draw nutrition and calories from darn near anything.  So go boldly, and try new foods and spices and cooking methods and find things you actually enjoy eating.

  • Remember all those veggies you hated as a kid?  Try them again as an adult, because your taste buds literally change over time and things taste way less bitter than when you were a kid.  Try different cooking methods too- anything brassica is like 500% better tossed with olive oil, salt &pepper and roasted on a sheet pan. 
  • HOW you cook things makes a huge difference in both how they taste and how stressful cooking is.  Wanna leave something in a crock pot and forget about it until the timer goes off? AWESOME. Grilling becuase  you prefer something more engaging becuase you’re bored? ALSO GREAT.  Try out different cooking methids to find out what tastes good and is fun to do,
  • Are you one of those people that likes, 3 things, and can have them every night for eternity?  GO YOU, with your pre-planned menu!  Maybe call up a nutritionist to see if you need to be taking some extra vitamins, but really, this is fine too,

Ok this has gotten a mile long and kind of rambling but I hope it helps you!

Inside Harry Styles’ Intimate First Solo Tour

Music director Tom Hull reveals how the One Direction star is launching a new phase of his career with help from a versatile live band

Just a half hour before doors open for Harry Styles’ first show of his debut solo tour, San Francisco’s Masonic is completely empty. Band and crew members are buzzing backstage, including Styles himself, not yet wearing the snazzy Gucci suit he would be seen sporting onstage just hours later.

Outside, more than 3,000 fans wait to see the 23-year-old perform in one of the smallest venues they may ever catch him in. They’re decked out in a variety of homemade merchandise as well as florals and pinks, a tribute to the singer’s fashion and album aesthetic.

“It’s funny because as this tour’s approached, I’ve been so nervous,” Styles’ music director and producer Tom Hull, known professionally as Kid Harpoon, tells Rolling Stonebackstage while clutching a chalice of wine and wearing a pin that reads “Muna Has Possibly Talked to Harry Styles,” given out for free by opening band Muna at their merch table.

Until this tour, Hull’s work with other artists had been primarily in the studio, producing and co-writing for artists like Haim, Florence and the Machine and Shakira. He had been introduced to Styles through a mutual friend and ended up working on the songs “Sweet Creature” and “Carolina.” Thanks to their musical chemistry, Styles ended up asking Hull to help him put together a live show to perfectly embody the rootsy, rock-tinged sound of his self-titled album.

“I’ve gone into it not knowing what I’m doing [and] learning on the job,” he admits. “We’re all sort of approaching it with a fresh perspective because we haven’t done it before, but it [has us] keeping with what the record’s about.”

To help translate Styles’ solo sound, the first goal was to get a traditional band together. Guitarist Mitch Rowland had been plucked from a pizza shop where he formerly worked to become a session musician for the album and has joined Styles’ touring band as well.

“Mitch has never really toured like this before,” Hull says. “He’s learning on the road as he goes.”

Joining Rowland are keyboardist Clare Uchima, bassist Alex Predergast and drummer Sarah Jones, all of whom had made their debut with Styles during the televised and small club performances around the release of his album. The band began to feel settled long before the tour launched, but Hull sees their relationship becoming further cemented with this trek.

“Bands become true bands on tour,” he explains. “Fans bought tickets [for this tour] before the album had come out, and the band wants to play to them. The idea is to cut our chops on this tour and get really good. Then next year, he’s got an arena tour.”

Still, on the first two nights, the band already felt like a cohesive unit. The first show perfectly bridged Styles’ past and present, demonstrating that he’s a star capable of holding his own outside of his boy band. Amidst the folk-y ballads and rousing rockers, he covered One Direction classics like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Stockholm Syndrome” as well as one of his lesser-known writing credits: an Ariana Grande piano ballad titled “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” off the vocal diva’s 2014 album My Everything. “Honestly, I didn’t know he had written it,” Hull notes.

Styles has released just 10 songs under his own name, but the vast amount of material he had from his pre-solo career helped to fill out the set. “When the Strokes first came out, their album was 35 minutes long and they had to do Talking Heads songs to fill out the set,” he adds. “It’s quite good to be able to do [Harry’s] record and have other songs in the set because he’s written so much music with [and outside of] One Direction. We’re presenting it in a way that sort of reflects the record and where he’s at now, which feels unique to Harry.”

In the months leading up to the tour launch in San Francisco, Hull, Styles and good friends of the latter sat around and began to formulate a vision. “It was like ‘Why don’t we do this? That would be fun,’” Hull describes of the process. “The thing that’s incredible about Harry that I don’t think people realize as much yet is that he drives it all. It’s very much his taste. He’s very musical; he plays guitar, plays piano and writes songs. He loves music.”

For Hull, working with Styles has disproven a common misconception of the pop megastar, one who is governed by his producers and label. Instead, the director paints a picture of a huge music nerd, one who is particularly passionate about classic rock and country, getting to explore his taste on his own terms.

“That was the hard thing, I think, in [One Direction] before,” he adds. “You’ve got a bunch of lads who all have different tastes in music and have their own personalities. Obviously it’s clear they’ve all done something different [as solo artists].”

Styles has been eager to share his tastes with Hull and the rest of the group. “He’s turning me on to music I’ve never even heard of from like 1978, and he’s texting people in the band 'Have you heard this? Have you heard that?” Hull says says, noting that on days off they go to guitar shops, looking at gear and “really geeky stuff.”

“For someone where he’s at, he just absolutely adores it, and it’s inspiring for everyone underneath.”

The next night in Los Angeles, the crowd is even more energetic as they filter into the Greek through the trees and hills of Griffith Park. A few glitches cropped up at the San Francisco gig — run-of-the-mill sound problems and a less expected fire alarm triggered by the theatrical smoke used during Muna’s set. For the Los Angeles show, the band feels even stronger and more focused.

“There was a bit of uncertainty, but I think everyone’s really happy and buzzing,” Hull updates from the Greek’s VIP section. That night, they were up against the added pressure that comes with a celebrity- and legend-filled audience, featuring everyone from Emma Roberts to Mick Fleetwood and Styles’ former groupmate Niall Horan. “You want to keep improving and getting it better. It feels like the first gig still.”

Even though he would perform a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in front of Fleetwood himself, Styles was even looser at the Greek, dropping in cheekier ad libs and at one point halting “Kiwi,” the closer of the main set before his encore, to tease the troves of primarily female-identifying fans by highlighting the “I’m having your baby” line from the chorus. According to Hull, Styles was already prepared to start changing up the set list by night two, something the entire team collectively decided against as they were just starting out. (In Nashville the following weekend, however, they replaced the cover of “Stockholm Syndrome” with a rendition of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” the first of many possibly new covers to be introduced on the road.)

The cover of One Direction’s most memorable hit “What Makes You Beautiful” remains the most surprising element of the show, especially since young solo artists typically tend to distance themselves from their pop pasts on the road to a more “mature” sound.

“At first, he was definitely cautiously up for it,” Hull says of the decision-making process. “I feel like those [One Direction] songs are brilliantly written songs, and obviously it was a moment where we had a conversation. Beyoncé does Destiny’s Child songs, so we were like 'Let’s do some of the songs that people will all know and everyone will love.’”

Styles’ band made sure to adapt the tune to fit the flow of the show. Uchima suggested a “Ray Charles–y vibe” for the keys, while drummer Jones added a “Motown-y beat” during rehearsals, and the group continued tinkering until they found the perfect balance of old and new.

“We all have so much respect for what put him here,” Hull adds, emphasizing Styles’ own desire to not fully let go of his past. “It’s an important part of it. You can’t underestimate his fans.”

On Allura and Keith.

Because not everyone notices his low self-worth.

I think we all noticed that the only person that even tried to talk to Keith in s4 and remind him of his importance to team Voltron was Allura. It then occurred to me that she was the only one on the team that suspects Keith greatly underestimates his own importance.

This is not to say that the others don’t care about Keith, but nobody else had any reason to believe that he felt this way. Shiro has paramount trust in Keith’s abilities, Lance thinks he’s got it made because he’s so talented, and Hunk and Pidge don’t even seem to know him all that well. 

But Allura was the one there with him in that pod in s2e6 when he talked about how the team needed Allura to pilot the castle ship while brushing off his own importance, and you can bet your life she noticed the stunned looked in his face when she implied the team needed him just as much. I believe it was then when she first realized that Keith’s opinion of himself is so low that he fails to see just how much she matters, even as a paladin.

From the look on Keith’s face, it was obvious that he’d never even stopped to consider it, and that’s something that the perceptive Allura didn’t miss.

She was also there later, s2ep12, when Keith volunteered himself to infiltrate the main galra ship to finish what Thace had started. You can see the shock and concern plainly on her face, especially considering how Kolivan had basically just called it a suicide mission. It affected her enough that she made the decision to approach him by the pods before he left. She took this moment not only to apologize to him for her unwarranted actions earlier but also to remind him that he was indeed cared for.

By this point, I think Allura realizes that Keith’s detachment does not stem from stoicism or lack of caring (she’s seen him care… she was the sole witness of Shiro and Keith’s hug in s2e9) but from his own lack of self-worth. This moment isn’t just about her getting over her personal issues and prejudice against the galra. It’s also about her trying to drive the point home that Keith is important to them, not just as a paladin or resource in this war, but as a person. 

And then we see this again in s4e1:

SHE IS THE ONLY ONE TO APPROACH HIM without the intention of scolding him. She probably didn’t know that Keith had almost died, but she did know that Keith lost a comrade. Just from the soft “thanks” that he manages after, you can tell that he hadn’t been expecting that kind of concern and I’m pretty sure she knew that and provided her support as best she could. 

She’s worried about the growing distance between him and the rest of the team and she tries to remind him that he’s important. The way she adds “WE cannot” at the end of her statement is deliberate. She wants him to understand that he matters to the team AS A PERSON, rather than just a resource. Sure, he’s important to the mission… but he’s more than that to them.

Keith seems to ponder over this, but the idea probably just seems too farfetched to him. The only person in his life that he thought for sure cared about him was Shiro and their relationship at this point in the series is so degraded that he just can’t fathom it. In his eyes, if Shiro doesn’t seem to care, why would anyone else? (This is not me saying Shiro doesn’t care, by the way. This is just how Keith probably sees it, especially after their last few encounters.) And of course, the distance keeps growing and Allura is the only one that seems visibly concerned and it breaks my heart.

After Keith confirms her worst suspicions.

And that’s when it fully hit her just how unworthy Keith considered himself of being the black paladin, the leader, and that HE WAS PLANNING ON LEAVING. She just looked like her heart dropped when it happened. But Keith’s made up his mind and Shiro gives him his blessing, so all she can do is support him and remind him again that they do care.

TLDR;

Allura was probably the only one aware of Keith’s low self-esteem since s2e6 and she tried her very best to make him see how far from the truth he really was, though Keith never realized this.

A side note, I think if Lotor hadn’t shown up at the end and stopped Keith from sacrificing himself for everyone else, she would have taken it the hardest because she knew exactly what would have been going on inside his head when he made his decision, and she couldn’t stop him.

HOW SKAM’S ISAK AND EVEN REVOLUTIONIZED TEEN TV

The third season of Norwegian teen series Skam dismantled stereotypes, coerced schoolkids into skiving off classes and turned homophobes into rainbow flag-waving defenders—and it first began airing one year ago today. It was the “gay” season, charting the blossoming relationship of Isak Valtersen and Even Bech Næsheim, both coming to terms with their sexuality amidst a cutting background of teenage angst. Taking every fan poll I’ve ever come across into account, season three was by far Skam’s most popular. It broke streaming records in Norway, and television viewership records in neighboring Denmark and Sweden. Throughout its 10-episode run, it hardly left the list of worldwide trending topics on any given social platform.

With a short promo clip that could have been a stand in for a gay snuff film—jockish throbs in a locker room being showered with milk in slow motion—the series wasn’t afraid to shy away from explicitly homosexual subject matter. Or any hot button subject. Homophobia, bullying, mental health—nothing was off the cards for series creator Julie Andem.

Keep reading

Why Fans Resonate With Lance So Much and Why We’re Mad He’s a False Protagonist (spoilers I guess)

So Lance has pretty much been my favorite character since about ten seconds after he came on screen, and I’ll try to get right to the point about why I feel that way and why a giant portion of the vld fandom feels that way as well.

Obviously, Lance has been openly shown to have insecurities about his self-worth. I can’t really think of another character from a cartoon show (except maybe, like, Sokka from A;TLA) to have this plotline to this degree, but it’s a very unique and sensitive characterization that should be handled a little more carefully than it has been.

As a recap, Lance doesn’t really contribute much in the way of “hyper-specialized skills” to Voltron (aside from occasional shots of underused Sniper!Lance.) But next to him, we see 1). An ace pilot with special alien heritage and advanced hand-to-hand fighting skills who has been picked as the successor to the team’s leader 2). An Earth hero/veteran with a special prosthetic that gives him valuable fighting abilities, who pilots the oh-so-special Black Lion 3). An engineering genius 4). A tech/ex machina genius 5). A space princess with magical powers, fighting skills, and shapeshifting abilities who can ‘sense’ and ‘channel’ whatever whenever the plot needs her to.

And then, oh yeah, we’ve got…Lance. Who cracks goofy jokes. 

He’s NORMAL! And it SUCKS to feel ‘normal’ when everyone around you seems so effortlessly special!

I’ve struggled with that feeling my whole life—that habit of constantly measuring myself against others and obsessing over what I can “contribute”. For the longest time, I thought I was only as valuable as what I could bring to the table. So I was shocked and awed to see a character with that same affliction. It’s odd. I’ve never had a character I resonated so strongly with. I see myself in Lance so much.

Our own insecurities are validated and reflected through Lance’s character. It’s a real emotional issue that many of us struggle with, so to see it on the screen given representation means something.

ANYWAY—Onto why Lance is a false protagonist, and why I’m pissed about it. In fiction, a false protagonist is “a literary technique, often used to make the plot more jarring or more memorable by fooling the audience’s preconceptions, that constructs a character who the audience assumes is the protagonist but is later revealed not to be.”

LANCE WAS SET UP DURING THE BEGINNING OF EPISODE ONE AS THOUGH HE WAS THE MAIN CHARACTER. 

Seriously, think about how books typically use their prologue+main story setup. We got our prologue (Shiro and the Holts being taken) and then it opens up to what the viewers assume is the start of the “Main Story” which typically follows the main character-to-be. This is a natural pattern to follow in storytelling because it helps the viewer understand and process what role each character plays overall. Lance is the first character we got a little bit of a read on with that whole “Blah blah remember you’re just a replacement for the dropout so don’t end up like him” Garrison test flight, so that’s another reason for the viewer to latch onto him. 

Watching Voltron for the first time knowing literally nothing about it going in, I knew there would be a team dynamic as episode one unfolded but thought that there would be special emphasis on Lance as the main character (think Aang from A;TLA. Yeah, there was a team of main characters, but Aang was THE main character if you get what I’m saying).

Seriously, go back and watch the first episode again if you didn’t notice it the first time. By a writing standpoint, Lance is written in the most “This will be the main character!” way possible. 

Which is why it’s so bizarre that he’s been pushed to the back-burner for so many seasons now. God, at this point, his back-burner isn’t even turned on anymore. He and Hunk are just the 3-day old pots of mac n’ cheese congealing by the sink while Shiro, Keith, and Pidge are lit up and ready to go at a moment’s notice, but at least Hunk’s Balmeran arc in season 1 spanned, like, 2 or 3 whole episodes when Lance is lucky to get anything beyond two minutes.

I’ve accepted that he’s not THE main character (I WAS starting to think it was Keith, but then he f’ed off for season 4 and I was like, no, Voltron, when we said we wanted less Keith we just meant we needed a better balance of characters not the entire removal of one) (and anyway how bad is it that even when Keith’s character is finally drawn back a little bit, WE STILL. GET. NO. LANCE (or Hunk). ARC.) 

Still, the dynamic from a writer’s standpoint is a little clunky. In my experience, stories are best told when they revolve around a singular main character, or two, like Gravity Falls for example. But things fall apart and get messy, especially in a television format, if you try to sell 5 main characters (six if you count Allura) as equally important (story-wise) right from the start. It just doesn’t work. It’s only natural to latch onto one or two characters and that’s why we keep getting these “Just wait, Lance will get his (3 second, never mentioned again or brought forward into a new season) moment!” promises. Good storytelling just doesn’t evolve well when you try to juggle five characters as all equally THE main character. And it ESPECIALLY feels super-clunky since Lance was introduced in episode one of the whole show as the potential main character and then used mostly for comic-relief ever since.

And when I say I want a Lance arc, I don’t mean “I want a Lance arc where Lance helps Keith learn to lead” or whatever—NO, GODDAMMIT. I WANT. AN ARC. FOCUSED SPECIFICALLY ON LANCE. NOT ON LANCE GROWING AS A SUPPORT FOR OTHER CHARACTERS’ GROWTH.

I was actually hoping that whole “Lance Dies in season 4!” worry going around would be true because 1). Lance obviously wouldn’t die for-real, so I wasn’t even worried about that 2). It would mean we would actually be getting what could have been a very emotional and quality Lance-focused story arc longer than three minutes.

I’m actually starting to think Lance isn’t going to get a story arc that spans across a few episodes that also remains the driving theme of those episodes. I think it will be another tossed-out line regarding his insecurity and that will be it.

I wanted Lance to be the Black Paladin so freaking bad, you guys! It would have been such a twist, such a moment for him to show off the leadership skills he’s been quietly accumulating. AND HOW ANGRY WAS I IN SEASON 4 WHEN LANCE LOGICALLY SAID “HM, MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T STAND UNDER THESE GENERATOR THINGS THAT LOOK LIKE THEY COULD FORM A FORCE FIELD AT ANY TIME” AND SHIRO BASICALLY SAID “WAIT HOLD ON, WE HAVE TO INVESTIGATE WHAT IT IS BY STANDING EXACTLY WHERE WE ARE.” WTF. LANCE, WHY ARE YOU SO IGNORED.

Anyway, it’s late and I’m cranky and kind of forgot where I was going with this but I’m signing off, passively hoping that maybe Lance will one day get his huge “I’m Keith and I get whole seasons dedicated to me” arc. 

But it probably won’t happen.

Ugh.

I’m going back to bed.