writer geeking out about CP writing

From a writer’s point of view, analysing a quality story like Check Please is a pleasure, because Ngozi is so GOOD at using efficient storytelling tools- may they be in words or in images. 

I mean, this is a story that spans four years, with so many levels of humor, romance, angst, shenanigans, main plot and back plots, so many different characters- and it’s only 67 episodes long, if one doesn’t count the twitter or the extras. 67 episodes is NOTHING, and 9 panels per episode is even LESS space to tell such a layered story! Imagine your favorite novel- what do they have time to tell in 67 pages? Can they describe an entire scene in 9 sentences?

Like, let me geek out about about some tricks she used, tricks that I learned by myself through the years, writing a story with a lot of characters.


With a lot of characters, it’s tempting to spend time with them all, since they’re all interesting. But if you focus too much on the backstage dancers, you lose track of Beyoncé. So even though it’s so much fun to focus on shenanigans and backstories, you are limited in time, space and effort and all this has to be focused on the protagonist, in this case, Bitty. All the CP characters are interesting, but I admire how she keeps them in check, telling their story through Bitty’s story, and not getting lost in details.


So, you’ve got an important event, or important information to transfer, in this case, Bitty and Jack coming out. When something like that happens in a text, it’s super tempting to write every single character’s reaction, the calls, the back and forth, etc etc. But it makes for a long and tedious form of storytelling, and makes a repetitive rhythm that just kills the mood. Something helpful I’ve learned through trial and error was that it’s more efficient to treat background characters as groups, and to just move those groups in time and space according to where you need them to be. Hm, okay it applied to action scenes in my case, but in CP’s last year, there was the coming out story that loomed upon them. How would Bitty’s parents react. How would the public. How would Parse. Making an episode about each one of these would be monotonous in the long term (added to Georgia, the Falcs, the SMH…) So instead of making three more coming out episodes, she was like: let’s make them all happen at the same time and be done with it. Et voilà, in a handful of panels and a couple of expressions, she resumed what could have taken months for a less experienced storyteller.


When you’re limited in time, energy, space and even more: reader’s attention, you have to know exactly what story you’re telling, and eliminate everything that doesn’t fit it. I admire Ngozi’s discipline in that aspect, because her universe is so charming, and some characters could steal the show easily- I mean, give me a 10K fic about Jack’s mental illness or the entire story about how Ransom met Holster- but those are traps that can muddy your main storyline. The tweets added wonders to the universe, but in the end, the amount of time a creator can spend on their creation is limited.And sadly, to be an efficient storyteller, you have to kill your darlings.


Yeah, things could go smoothly. OR we could have an amazing story to tell. One of the main things I learned writing my own original story is that you have a scene… but is there a way you can make it bigger? Is there a way you can make a situation WORSE for your character? Okay they’re fleeing the bad guy… But what if they broke a leg. More often than not, those options are the most interesting ones to tell. That’s why I adore the ending of year 3. Is it wise? Is it reasonable? No, but it sure as hell will give you things to worry about for year 4, and that’s what a story needs- it needs to keep you hanging till the end. We’re nearing the last act of the story- we should NOT feel at ease. Things HAVE to get worse before they are resolved, the main character HAS to be put in seemingly impossible situations so they can prove their worth. If Ngozi is the amazing storyteller that I know she is, she’s gonna make us, the readers, suffer even more in that last year. 

So, I know there’s been talk and unrest lately, because of course, a story can’t please everyone, but I’d like to add something to consider:

There are beats to a story, and one of the beats before the chaos of the final confrontation, is the weird calm that comes right before. Year 4 is the chaos, year 3 was Bitty -unknowingly- assembling his army to face the final beast that is all the shitstorm that will follow. Yeah, he will have to face every single thing he’s been avoiding so far- his parents, the public, Parse- but now he’s backed by a solid relationship, his friends, the Falcs. The episodes or year 3 may have been calmer and nicer than the two previous ones, but I see them as a hero picking his weapons in an armory. If Bitty only has those people to back him up against the world, those relationships NEEDED to be shown. (otherwise, would we really believe when a soldier sacrificed themselves for the king?)

Also, the main thing to remember in all this:

The story is not over.

It’s something that I see in series, in fanfics, and in webcomics- things that are consumed by the public before their ending. When you write a story, you have all the cards in your hands, and you get to pick when you play them, or if you play them at all. Will N talk about what seems to be Bitty’s mental illness issues? Maybe, maybe not. (I mean, as a writer I’d bring it to the most stressful moment, when he tries to captain a hockey team and write his thesis and have a relationship and face the world and make jam jam jam jam jam-  I know most of us have mental problems and we want best for our lovelies, but they ARE characters in a FICTIONAL story, they are there to serve a purpose and that purpose is to make us feel emotions. Stress is an emotion.)

So let’s remember- we don’t know everything yet, so we can’t judge an unfinished story like we do a finished one. You see a movie and they dropped the ball- yeah, okay, here are the points they missed. But there’s still a quarter of the CP storyline to come, and it’ll probably be the fullest, so let’s wait and see, and enjoy.

So yeah, she’s has a great grasp on the things she tells -and doesn’t tell. Let’s remember to respect the author even if we don’t like the creation, and most important of all, if you don’t enjoy the creation anymore, it’s okay, there are many others you can enjoy instead. Or better yet, make yours!

I’ll leave you with my general opinion about the internet as a whole:

They’re fictional. Chill. 

full translation of 2nd song in ED album  ( eng + kanji + romaji )
☆Star☆The☆VEPPer☆ - VEPPer

((english translation))

VEPPer This galaxy
Two stars soaring into the sky
Let’s shine on the universe’s secrets
In the name of the star

We are the stars (we are VEPPer)
Stars of the galaxy
Let’s sing a song (as the two of us)
Now dancing in the universe

We, who were born in the Milky Way
Look into these eyes now, the supernova
The truth of the star fortune tellers
It’s the scenario in which we sketch our dreams

Lucky you, open
Now, happy you, those eyes
Become enslaved
I’ll kiss you with this illuminance

VEPPer two stars that bloomed
In this galaxy
The moon and the sun
Miracles and mysteries
Granting all your wishes, we are stars

VEPPer This galaxy
Two stars soaring into the sky
Let’s shine on the universe’s secrets
In the name of the star

Ah…We are the stars (we are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
Ah…Let’s sing a song (the two of us)
Now, Dancing in the universe

We are the lucky stars out of the billion
That capture your two eyes
It’s so cute watching you wish
We’ll send down a shooting star today

Happy you! Look this way
Now, Lucky you! Come here
In the moment of a blink
Loving you with an embrace

VEPPer A myth of love
That narrates this universe
The shimmering
of two stars

We are the lead, starring stars 
VEPPer Let’s illuminate everything in this world

On this blue planet VEPPer
Within a heartbeat
In the name of the star

I will make you lucky, (pant)…
I will make you happy, haa…

Lucky you, open
Now, happy you, those eyes
You mustn’t look away 
Love, Dreams, Light and Big bang

VEPPer two stars that bloomed
In this galaxy
The moon and the sun
Miracles and mysteries
Granting all your wishes, we are stars

VEPPer This galaxy
Two stars soaring into the sky
Let’s shine on the universe’s secrets
In the name of the star
With you, reaching for the eternal legend

Ah…We are the stars (we are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
Ah…Let’s sing a song (the two of us)
Now, Dancing in the universe 

((kanji reading))


We are the star (we are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
Let’s sing a song (二人で)
さあDancing in the universe


Lucky You その目を
さあ Happy You 開いて
この眩しさでKissing You

VEPPer この銀河に
叶えまくりWe Are Stars


ah…We are the stars (We are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
ah…Let’s sing a song (二人で)
さあDancing in the universe

両目を二人占め Lucky Stars

Happy You! こっちへ
さあ Lucky You! おいでよ
抱きしめたげるLoving you

VEPPer この宇宙を
主役は僕ら Starring Stars
VEPPer 青い地球(ほし)も

I will make you lucky, ふ…
I will make you happy, は…

Lucky You!その目を
さあ Happy You! 開いて
愛・夢・光 Big Bang

VEPPer この銀河に
叶えまくりの We are Stars☆
VEPPer このGalaxy

ah…We are the stars (We are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
ah…Let’s sing a song (二人で)
さあDancing in the universe

((romaji reading))

Kakeru futatsu boshi
Uchuu no himitsu terashi dasou
Hoshi no mei no moto ni

Ama no gawa de umareta bokura
Kono hitomi ni wa hora choushinsei
Hoshi uranai no shinjitsu wa ne
Bokura ga yume egaku SCENARIO sa

Lucky You sono me wo
Saa Happy You hiraite
Toriko ni natchaina
Kono mabushi sa de Kissing You

VEPPer kono ginga ni
Saita futatsu boshi
Tsuki to taiyou
Kiseki to shinpi
Kanae makuri We Are Stars

Kakeru futatsu boshi
Uchuu no himitsu terashi dasou
Hoshi no mei no moto ni

ah…We are the stars (we are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
ah…Let’s sing a song (futari de)
Saa Dancing in the universe

Nayuta no hoshi no naka de kimi no
Ryoume wo futari shime LUCKY STARS

Negaigoto suru kimi wa totemo
CUTE dakara kyou wa nagareboshi

Happy You! Kocchi e
Saa Lucky You! Oideyo
Mabataki no shunkan
Dakishimetageru Loving You

VEPPer Kono uchuu wo
Kataru ai no shinwa
Futatsu no hoshi no
Kagayaki ai sa
Shuyaku wa bokura Starring Stars

VEPPer aoi hoshi mo
Tokimeki no naka e
Sekai no subete terashi dasou
Hoshi no mei no moto ni

I will make you lucky, fu…
I will make you happy, ha…

Lucky You! Sono me wo
Saa Happy You! Hiraite
Minogashicha dame dayo
Ai, Yume, Hikaru Bing Bang

VEPPer kono ginga ni
Saita futatsu boshi
Tsuki to taiyou
Kiseki no shinpi
Kanae makuri no We are Stars☆

Kakeru futatsu boshi
Uchuu no himitsu terashi dasou
Hoshi no mei no moto ni
Kimi to eien no densetsu ni

ah…We are the stars (we are VEPPer)
Shine on the galaxy
ah…Let’s sing a song (futari de)
Saa Dancing in the universe     

MBTI as Songs on my Spotify

I own and listen to all the songs here. I did this cause my playlist is weird. Along with the verse I feel justifies this.

INFJ: Hotel California, by The Eagles

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax,” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”

INTJ: Be Prepared, The Lion King

I know that your powers of retention
Are as wet as a warthog’s backside
But thick as you are, pay attention
My words are a matter of pride

It’s clear from your vacant expressions
The lights are not all on upstairs
But we’re talking kings and successions
Even you can’t be caught unawares

ENTJ: War is a Science, from Pippin

Listen to me, men as I endevour to explain
What separates a charlatan from a Charlemegne.
A ruling of the generals illustrious and various
Though pompous as a Pompey or daring as a Darius
A little rule that every leader knows by heart
It’s smarter to be lucky than it’s lucky to be smart

ENFJ: Come and Get Your Love, by Redbone

Hail (hail)
What’s the matter with you? Feel right
Don’t you feel right baby?
Hail, oh yeah
Get it from the main vine, all right
I said a-find it, find it
Go on and love it if you like it, yeah
Hail (hail)
It’s your business, if you want some, take some
Get it together, baby

Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love
Come and get your love

ISFP: American Pie, by Don McLean

And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

ISTP: Wanted Dead or Alive, by Bon Jovi

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it’s not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the bottle that you drink
And times when you’re alone all you do is think

I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive

ESTP: Everybody Shut Up (I Have an Erection), by Ninja Sex Party

Do you ever take a moment
And look up at the stars?
And think about your life
And just how stupid you are
If it makes you feel better
I’m a fucking rock star
With an amazing penis 
But enough about you
Let’s focus more on my crotch
It’s as tangy as whiskey
And hits you harder than scotch
You might not get what I’m sayin’
So just sit back and watch
Look, (gasp!) it’s still my penis

ESFP: Jailhouse Rock, by Elvis Presley

Shifty Henry said to Bugs, “For Heaven’s sake,
no one’s lookin’, now’s our chance to make a break.”
Bugsy turned to Shifty and he said, “Nix nix,
I wanna stick around a while and get my kicks.”
Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.

INFP: The Phantom of the Opera, from the titular musical

Sing once again with me
Our strange duet
My power over you grows stronger yet
And though you turn from me to glance behind
The Phantom of the Opera is there
Inside your mind.

INTP: Still Alive, by Jonathon Coulton

Go ahead and leave me.
I think I prefer to stay inside.
Maybe you’ll find someone else to help you.
Maybe Black Mesa…
Anyway, this cake is great.
It’s so delicious and moist.

Look at me still talking when there’s science to do.
When I look out there it makes me GLaD I’m not you.
I’ve experiments to run there is research to be done
On the people who are still alive

ENTP: Luigi’s Ballad, by Starbomb (it takes massive Ne for an innuendo every 2.5 seconds)

What up, bitch?! I got a 1UP, bitch!
What’s inside that Question Block? It’s my dick!
It’s-a-me a-Mario I’m more Italian than pastrami
I’ll take you by the peaches and give you the hot salami
I saved you from dragons and evil Boos that are spooky
Must I be a raccoon to get inside your Tanuki?
I will mount you like Yoshi and show you things you’ve never seen
My mushroom’s now mega if you know what I mean
So suck it!

ENFP: Shut Up and Dance With Me, by WALK THE MOON

She took my arm
I don’t know how it happened
We took the floor and she said

Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me
I said you’re holding back
She said shut up and dance with me
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

ISFJ: I Will Follow You Into the Dark, by Death Cab for Cutie

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
The soles of your shoes are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It’s nothing to cry about
Cause we’ll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

ISTJ: Re: Your Brains, by Jonathon Coulton

Got another meeting Tom, maybe we could wrap it up?
I know we’ll get to common ground somehow.
Meanwhile I’ll report back to my colleagues who are chewing on the doors
I guess we’ll table this for now
I’m glad to see you take constructive criticism well
Thank you for your time I know we’re all busy as hell
And we’ll put this thing to bed
When I bash your head open

ESTJ: You’ll Be Back, Hamilton

You say our love is draining and you can’t go on
You’ll be the one complaining when I am gone…
And no, don’t change the subject
Cuz you’re my favorite subject
My sweet, submissive subject
My loyal, royal subject
Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…

You’ll be back like before
I will fight the fight and win the war
For your love, for your praise
And I’ll love you till my dying days
When you’re gone, I’ll go mad
So don’t throw away this thing we had
Cuz when push comes to shove
I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love

ESFJ: I Want You Back, by The Jackson 5

When I had you to myself, I didn’t want you around
Those pretty faces always make you stand out in a crowd
But someone picked you from the bunch, one glance is all it took
Now it’s much too late for me to take a second look