unavoidable movies

Ok so that post mocking EL James made me think about a few things. 

The first thing is something that I worry about whenever I reblog posts that make fun of bad writing or bad writing advice. I worry that someone will see my utter malicious glee at a phrase like “his eyebrows widened”, and then think “I could see myself making a mistake like that. I must be a shitty writer. :( “

This is absolutely not the case, and in fact, it probably means the exact opposite!

Being a good creative writer is always a balance between two things: Writing clearly, and writing inventively. At some points, your writing might use quick cliches and simple, invisible language (example: defaulting to “said” for a dialogue tag) for clarity’s sake. In another moment, you might experiment with a new way of describing something familiar (in a fic a while ago I described someone’s laugh as “a butterfly trying to escape a closed window”, and people seemed to think that was cool)

The thing is, when you’re fiddling around with words to make New Things, it involves a lot of trial and error. You may very well end up with something ridiculous like “his eyebrows widened” when you’re just trying to come up with a creative way to say “his eyes widened”. This experimentation phase is almost always when you end up with magical expanding eyebrows.

And if you catch yourself doing that, even in something you’ve already published - laugh at it! Laugh at yourself, because you have made something funny, and funny is the hardest thing to make. Maybe you’ve even stumbled upon a good comedic idea. Douglas Adams and Sir Terry Pratchett both crafted some hilarious extended metaphors, and that definitely required some experimentation.

EL James’ writing was dumped onto the poor, unsuspecting masses in a state that can only be described as embarrassing, and her book succeeded purely because of scandalous marketing and morbid curiosity. We laugh at her mistakes because a whole chain of supposedly professional editors and publishers failed to catch them. The problem was not that EL James wrote garbage; the problem was that she wrote garbage and then no one corrected her and instead they sold the garbage in its garbage state.

But you must make garbage too! You gotta practice, and all practice is a process of experimentation and failure. Hopefully, your editors will be 100% better than EL James’s in that they will help you grow. So please keep writing ridiculous phrases! Remember that they are a sign of you trying to be creative. Laugh at them, too! And then learn, and try again.

He Loves Me Not

MariChat May Day 2: In Denial


“You’ve spent a lot of time with Chat Noir lately,” Tikki said around a mouthful of chocolate chip cookie.

The autumn afternoon sun sank towards the horizon as Marinette walked home from the movie theater. Cinema-inspired dresses swam before her eyes and if she’d had the money, a pit stop at the fabric store for supplies would have been unavoidable. “Wasn’t that movie romantic, Tikki?” she swooned.

“Yes, it was very romantic, but you’re ignoring the subject.” Tikki licked crumbs off her paws, then darted from Marinette’s purse to her jacket collar. “You sigh a lot these days. You stare into space for minutes at a time, either blushing or looking worried. You watch nothing but soap operas and old black-and-white movies and cry through all of them.”

Marinette stuck out her bottom lip. “What’s your point?”

Marinette,” Tikki whined.

She lifted her hand, pretending to adjust her collar so she could pat Tikki’s head. “It’s nothing,” she said. “Maybe I’m just having one of those really sensitive periods.”

“And Chat Noir?”

“He’s my friend.” Marinette’s fingers curled around her purse strap. She lifted her head to drink in the purples of sunset and wondered if Chat would swing by that evening. He could keep her company while she sketched all her new dress ideas. Knowing him, he’d hover over her shoulder watching her work, or lay around asking her questions until she kicked him out. He’d taken to asking her questions recently. When she asked him why, he shrugged and said he liked hearing her responses. “He’s fun to be around,” she said to Tikki, who wore a skeptical pout. “That’s all.”

“You don’t sound very sure.”

She had no response to that. In any case, Chat Noir was in love with Ladybug. The evenings he spent with Marinette after his patrols, the endless parade of random questions, his casual invasion of her personal space, the few times she caught him staring and he didn’t look away… none of it meant anything.

And the little ache in her heart that accompanied that knowledge, well, that didn’t mean anything either.