“But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, “I should sit here and I should be entertained.” And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.”

— Zadie Smith (via trashybooksforladies)


the best writing advice i’ve gotten so far




When I began working on my undergrad honors thesis last year, some of the best writing advice my adviser gave me actually ended up not being about my writing at all.

She told me, as part of the 10-12 hours I was supposed to work on the project per week, to include the times I found myself just thinking about it. Whether I was going for a walk. Eating lunch. Taking a shower. Falling asleep. Whatever.

Because the times you spend thinking about your writing, even if you don’t put a word on the page or computer, still count. They are an important part of the writing process. So if you question your status as a writer somedays because you haven’t gotten any words down for however long, just remember that thinking about and planning your projects mentally is all part of the process.

Oh, thank God.









The real writer experience is standing in the shower and coming up with the most authentic dialogue with perfect phrasing and raw emotion in your head, then stepping out and drying your hair, putting on some clean pajamas and opening a word document to write down all your perfect ideas only to realize everything has evaporated. 


Never lose a perfect shower line again.*

*Remember to erase promptly if you share a bathroom with anyone.

I’ve used these to outline term papers. nothing like a bath to get your brain to finally kick into gear and figure out your damn thesis



Reminder that building a fanbase for your wip is really hard and that a lack of notes does not translate to a lack of talent. The internet is a large place and it’s extremely hard to capture an audience. Look at J.K. Rowling and the stack of her rejection letters. Even Stephen King almost gave up. His wife dug his manuscript for Carrie out of the trash. Allow yourself to be terrible. Write those bad ideas. Finish that oneshot you think sucks. Give yourself the opportunity to create cool stuff because if you don’t you’ll never improve.





My 5yo likes to tell herself stories before she falls asleep and she just came out to me in tears because she accidentally killed off a character.

  “The story got sad all by itself Mum!”  I know baby.  I know.

She’s 6 now and having to share a room with her little sister. I said it’s okay if she shares the stories and she said “I can’t mum! They’re too violent for a 2 year old! People die in them all the time! It’s completely inappropriate!”

So I guess we’ve turned a corner there.

I’m really looking forward to reading her books

She sounds like she’ll make an amazing author!

Dear Men Writers




















Lesser known facts when writing women:

  • High heeled shoes don’t become flats if you break the heels off.
  • The posts of earrings aren’t sharp.
  • Nail polish takes a long time to dry and smudges when wet.
  • You can’t hold in a period like pee.
  • Inserting a tampon is not arousing or sexual in any way, ever.

Feel free to add your own.

– Bras leave red marks on the skin under and around boobs and it is a magical experience when taken off.

– Make up can take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes depending on how skilled you are.

– Taking hair out of a ponytail after wearing it for hours does not make it perfectly straight when it comes down.

– Hair when wet sticks to the skin it no longer flows, idiot.

-When women with long hair kiss, turn around, do anything, their hair falls in the way.

– Stockings are itchy and tear like wet paper bags.

– Pantyhose, tights, leggings, and stockings are each different.

– Waxing hurts and leaves red skin for a while afterwards while shaving leaves stubble

– Most can’t run in heels unless they have been VERY worn

– Insecurity in appearance doesn’t mean “buy me a drink”


-Having large breasts sucks. It sucks beyond belief.  If a garment happens to fit your large chest, odds are it won’t fit the rest of you. Underboob sweat is real and terrible. Bending over for extended periods of time will tweak your back out. Running can be painful due to boob turbulence. Bras are hella expensive. Big breasts are not fun.

Putting a tampon in isnt a quick bend-poke-done kinda deal. It involves cubicle yoga, messy hands, numerous curse words as you realise it isnt in correctly and have to take it out and start again with a new one.

Yes to all of this.  But also:

If her hair is in an updo, one does not simply remove a hairpin to send her hair cascading down her back.  No.  If her hair is an updo, it will take at least an hour and an extra set of hands to remove the 137 bobby pins that are holding her hair in place.  Furthermore, there’s probably a can’s worth of hairspray in there, intended to withstand category 2 hurricane winds.  There’s no cascading happening here – the best you can hope for is a misshapen nest of hair to clump and poof unattractively in the back while it still remains flat against her scalp.

This is one of the funniest posts I’ve seen in a while (especially if you read all the comments), but also really depressing because at 42 I still judge myself as having failed for not matching up to all these mythical stereotypes despite knowing they’re impossible

^^^This though

The odds of a woman having smoothly shaved legs and armpits are directly proportional to the amount of skin her clothing bares and/or the amount of fucks she gives at that particular moment.

GLASSES ARE NOT COSMETIC.  If we whip them off, we do not become gorgeous fashion models.  We become squinty.

-most women wear bras. Yes, even when they are trying to dress sexy. Because bras make boobs look perkier and rounder, which is something men apparently find sexy, so being a seductress or femme fatale is not an automatic reason for a female character to not be wearing a bra.

-a good bra will hide headlights, or at the very least drastically reduce their noticeability. A women with enough pointy nipple issues will opt for a padded or molded bra to hide them.

-women’s nipples do not automatically become hard pyramids visible through any and all layers of clothing the second they become even slightly aroused. They are not the female equivalent of boners. And even if their nipples do get hard, the bras they are almost certainly wearing (because even a goddamn succubus with big, honkin’ knockers for seducing men is gonna have those painful puppies in some kind of boob sling) should keep those pointy nipples from being visible to every other character in the scene, JIM BUTCHER. YES, EVEN LARA RAITH WOULD WEAR A BRA ONCE IN A GODDAMN WHILE.

  • if you’re being tied up and tortured in a freezing underground dungeon, then you probably have more important things to pay attention to than how hard somebody’s nipples are, jim butcher

– Wearing a bra that doesn’t fit HURTS.  It’s not sexy to wear a bra that’s “two sizes too small”, it’d make your clothes hang oddly and you’d have a weird, uncomfortable “quad-boob” effect and your back would hurt, BEN AARONOVITCH.

Also, after removing a too small bra, there’s gonne be angry red lines on the boobs and ribs and the lady is not going to want them to be touched by anyone for a good long while

-Not all women wear heels. Those things hurt and are hard to balance in. They can also mess up your feet and back pretty bad.

-Lips aren’t just naturally red “as if she’d been drinking wine but they were just like that without makeup cause she’s so perfect,” my dear little Kvothe from ‘Name of the Wind’. Also, girls do not naturally smell like fruit or flowers, it’s either perfume or something she’d been eating recently.

I’ve been appreciating this post but now it’s back very specifically calling out my problematic faves and I don’t think those male authors realize how much it totally takes me out of the story for a moment when they commit these errors. It does nothing useful for the plot and is annoying for half of the audience

Is it weird that I’m female and wasn’t aware of a solid third of these?

I mean, all writes take note. I basically live in man land when it comes to protagonists so I don’t know half these things despite being a woman

(Most) Women do not look at themselves in the mirror and compare their breasts to fruit. Any sort of fruit. Especially melons. Please save us from the melons.

Also we are not aware of our breasts at all times. I do not walk down a flight of stairs and think “oh golly my breasts are bouncing so much right now”. They are as much as natural part of our bodies as arms. Do you constantly think about how your arms are moving? Sure you may be aware of them, but paying full attention? Doubtful.

on fanfic & emotional continuity













Writing and reading fanfic is a masterclass in characterisation. 

Consider: in order to successfully write two different “versions” of the same character – let alone ten, or fifty, or a hundred – you have to make an informed judgement about their core personality traits, distinguishing between the results of nature and nurture, and decide how best to replicate those conditions in a new narrative context. The character you produce has to be recognisably congruent with the canonical version, yet distinct enough to fit within a different – perhaps wildly so – story. And you physically can’t accomplish this if the character in question is poorly understood, or viewed as a stereotype, or one-dimensional. Yes, you can still produce the fic, but chances are, if your interest in or knowledge of the character(s) is that shallow, you’re not going to bother in the first place. 

Because ficwriters care about nuance, and they especially care about continuity – not just literal continuity, in the sense of corroborating established facts, but the far more important (and yet more frequently neglected) emotional continuity. Too often in film and TV canons in particular, emotional continuity is mistakenly viewed as a synonym for static characterisation, and therefore held anathema: if the character(s) don’t change, then where’s the story? But emotional continuity isn’t anti-change; it’s pro-context. It means showing how the character gets from Point A to Point B as an actual journey, not just dumping them in a new location and yelling Because Reasons! while moving on to the next development. Emotional continuity requires a close reading, not just of the letter of the canon, but its spirit – the beats between the dialogue; the implications never overtly stated, but which must logically occur off-screen. As such, emotional continuity is often the first casualty of canonical forward momentum: when each new TV season demands the creation of a new challenge for the protagonists, regardless of where and how we left them last, then dealing with the consequences of what’s already happened is automatically put on the backburner.

Fanfic does not do this. 

Fanfic embraces the gaps in the narrative, the gracenotes in characterisation that the original story glosses, forgets or simply doesn’t find time for. That’s not all it does, of course, but in the context of learning how to write characters, it’s vital, because it teaches ficwriters – and fic readers – the difference between rich and cardboard characters. A rich character is one whose original incarnation is detailed enough that, in order to put them in fanfic, the writer has to consider which elements of their personality are integral to their existence, which clash irreparably with the new setting, and which can be modified to fit, to say nothing of how this adapted version works with other similarly adapted characters. A cardboard character, by contrast, boasts so few original or distinct attributes that the ficwriter has to invent them almost out of whole cloth. Note, please, that attributes are not necessarily synonymous with details in this context: we might know a character’s favourite song and their number of siblings, but if this information gives us no actual insight into them as a person, then it’s only window-dressing. By the same token, we might know very few concrete facts about a character, but still have an incredibly well-developed sense of their personhood on the basis of their actions

The fact that ficwriters en masse – or even the same ficwriter in different AUs – can produce multiple contradictory yet still fundamentally believable incarnations of the same person is a testament to their understanding of characterisation, emotional continuity and narrative. 

So I was reading this rumination on fanfic and I was thinking about something @involuntaryorange once talked to me about, about fanfic being its own genre, and something about this way of thinking really rocked my world? Because for a long time I have thought like a lawyer, and I have defined fanfiction as “fiction using characters that originated elsewhere,” or something like that. And now I feel like…fanfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters because then we can really get the impact of the storyteller’s message but I feel like it could also be not using other people’s characters, just a more character-driven story. Like, I feel like my original stuff–the novellas I have up on AO3, the draft I just finished–are probably really fanfiction, even though they’re original, because they’re hitting fanfic beats. And my frustration with getting original stuff published has been, all along, that I’m calling it a genre it really isn’t. 

And this is why many people who discover fic stop reading other stuff. Once you find the genre you prefer, you tend to read a lot in that genre. Some people love mysteries, some people love high-fantasy. Saying you love “fic” really means you love this character-driven genre. 

So when I hear people be dismissive of fic I used to think, Are they just not reading the good fic? Maybe I need to put the good fic in front of them? But I think it turns out that fanfiction is a genre that is so entirely character-focused that it actually feels weird and different, because most of our fiction is not that character-focused. 

It turns out, when I think about it, I am simply a character-based consumer of pop culture. I will read and watch almost anything but the stuff that’s going to stick with me is because I fall for a particular character. This is why once a show falters and disagrees with my view of the character, I can’t just, like, push past it, because the show *was* the character for me. 

Right now my big thing is the Juno Steel stories, and I know that they’re doing all this genre stuff and they have mysteries and there’s sci-fi and meanwhile I’m just like, “Okay, whatever, I don’t care about that, JUNO STEEL IS THE BEST AND I WANT TO JUST ROLL AROUND IN HIS SARCASTIC, HILARIOUS, EMOTIONALLY PINING HEAD.” That is the fanfiction-genre fan in me coming out. Someone looking for sci-fi might not care about that, but I’m the type of consumer (and I think most fic-people are) who will spend a week focusing on what one throwaway line might reveal about a character’s state of mind. That’s why so many fics *focus* on those one throwaway lines. That’s what we’re thinking about. 

And this is what makes coffee shop AUs so amazing. Like, you take some characters and you stick them in a coffee shop. That’s it. And yet I love every single one of them. Because the focus is entirely on the characters. There is no plot. The plot is they get coffee every day and fall in love. That’s the entire plot. And that’s the perfect fanfic plot. Fanfic plots are almost always like that. Almost always references to other things that clue you in to where the story is going. Think of “friends to lovers” or “enemies to lovers” or “fake relationship,” and you’re like, “Yes. I love those. Give me those,” and you know it’s going to be the same plot, but that’s okay, you’re not reading for the plot. It’s like that Tumblr post that goes around that’s like, “Me starting a fake relationship fic: Ooooh, do you think they’ll fall in love for real????” But you’re not reading for the suspense. Fic frees you up from having to spend effort thinking about the plot. Fic gives your brain space to focus entirely on the characters. And, especially in an age of plot-twist-heavy pop culture, that almost feels like a luxury. “Come in. Spend a little time in this character’s head. SPEND HOURS OF YOUR LIFE READING SO MANY STORIES ABOUT THIS CHARACTER’S HEAD. Until you know them like a friend. Until you know them so well that you miss them when you’re not hanging out with them.” 

When that is your story, when the characters become like your friends, it makes sense that you’re freed from plot. It’s like how many people don’t really have a “plot” to hanging out with their friends. There’s this huge obsession with plot, but lives don’t have plots. Lives just happen. We try to shape them into plots later, but that’s just this organizational fiction we’re imposing. Plot doesn’t have to be the raison d’etre of all story-telling, and fic reminds us of that. 

Idk, this was a lot of random rambling but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. 

“fanfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters”

yes!!!! I feel like I knew this on some level but I’ve never explicitly thought about it that way. this feels right, yep. Mainstream fiction often seems very dry to me and I think this is why – it tends to skip right over stuff that would be a huge plot arc in a fanfic, if not an entire fanfic in itself. And I’m like, “hey, wait, go back to that. Why are you skipping that? Where’s the story?” But now I think maybe people who don’t like fanfiction are going like, “why is there an entire fanfic about something that could have happened offscreen? Is anything interesting ever going to happen here? Where’s the story?”

Yes! Exactly! This!!!

This crystallized for me when I taught my first class of fanfiction to non-fic-readers and they just kept being like, “But nothing happens. What’s the plot?” and I was so confused, like, “What are you talking about? They fall in love. That’s the plot.” But we were, I think, talking past each other. They kept waiting for some big moment to happen, but for me the point was that the little moments were the big moments. 

This is such an awesome conversation, but I think there’s
even another layer here that makes ‘fic’ its own genre. And it is the plot.

Everyone who’s experienced in reading fic has their little ‘trope
plots’ we are willing to read or even prefer in order to spend time with our
favorite characters. We know how it’s gonna end and we genuinely don’t care,
because the character is the whole point of why we’re reading. And that is
unique. That’s just not how mainstream media publication does things.

But there are also hundreds of thousands of fics people
might call ‘plot driven’ and they have wonderful, intricate plots that thrill
their readers.

But they’re not at all ‘plot driven’ in the same way as
other mainstream genres.

The thing about ‘plot’ in fic is that it tends to ebb and
flow naturally. There’s not the same high speed, race to the finish you’d get
from a good action movie. There’s no stop and start of side plots you get in TV
genre shows. The best fic plot slides from big event to restful evening to
frantic activity to shared meals and squabbles and back, and it gives equal time and attention and detail to each of these

Like @earlgreytea68 said, “There’s this huge obsession with
plot, but lives don’t have plots. Lives just happen. We try to shape them into
plots later, but that’s just this organizational fiction we’re imposing. Plot
doesn’t have to be the raison d’etre of all story-telling, and fic reminds us
of that.”

Fic plot moves at a pace similar to the life of whatever
character it’s about. Not the other way around. There’s a fundamental difference in prioritization in fic.

I think this only adds to the case of ‘fic’ as its own,
distinctive genre. Stylistic choices of writing that would never work in
traditional, mainstream fiction novels work for novel-length fic. Fic
adventures spend as much time fleshing out the little moments between romances
and friendships as they do on that plot twist. The sleepy campground
conversations are as important to the plot as the kidnapped princess, because that’s
how the characters are going to grow together by the end of the story. It’s not
a grace note, it’s not a side episode or an addition or a mention – it’s
integral and equal.

That’s just accepted as fact by fic writers and readers. It’s
expected without any particular mention. And it gives a very unique flavor and
pace to fic that makes a lot of mainstream stories feel like stale, off-brand
wonderbread. They are missing something regular fic readers take for granted
(and it isn’t just the representational differences, because we all know that’s
a whole different conversation). There’s a fundamental difference in how ‘fic’
is written, detailed, and paced that is built on its foundations as a ‘character
driven’ genre.  

And it isn’t only action/adventure/mystery plots that have
this difference in fic. Those ‘everybody’s human in today’s world’ AUs, those ‘friends
to lovers’ slow burn stories have it too. They have a plot, but it’s the life
the grocery shopping, the dumb fights and sudden inescapable emotional blows, those
moments of joy with that person you click with, managing work and family and
seasons – that’s the whole plot on its own.

And that’s almost impossible to explain to someone who hasn’t
really experienced fic as a genre, who’s used to traditional person A and person
B work together/overcome differences/bond to accomplish X. In fic accomplishing
X might be the beginning or the middle, not the end result of the story, and A
& B continue to exist separate from X entirely. X is only relevant because
of how it relates to A & B, not the other way around.

Fic is absolutely its own genre and it has a lot to do with plot. I’ve been calling this ‘organic
plot’ in my head for months, because I knew something felt different about
writing this way, how long fic plot ebbs and grows seemingly on its own
sometimes. ‘Dual plot’ could be another option, maybe, though the character plot and
life experience plots aren’t really separate. Inverted plot? Hm. I’m sure a good term will develop
over time.


I was always fond of saying, about my own fics, that my plots show up about two-thirds of the way through, because it takes me that long to figure out where I’m going, and then I would lol about it, because, ha, wouldn’t it be great if I organized it better. 

And now I read this and I’m like, WAIT. YES. THAT’S WHAT’S HAPPENING. IT’S BEEN HAPPENING ALL ALONG. I NEVER REALIZED IT. The idea that the primary importance is the throughline of the characters, and that’s what we’re following, and the plot is what’s dangling off the side of their story, that is SO IMPORTANT. You’re right, that usually we’re told as writers to construct stories from the plot outward. “Here are the beats your plot needs to hit, here’s the rising action to the climax to the falling action, now make sure your Character A makes this realization by Point X in order to get your plot into shape for Point Y to click in.” It’s *such* a plot-centric way to write and I am *terrible* at it. And I’ve always said, whenever I sit down to “outline” a story, like, How do you this? How do you know where the characters are going until they tell you where they’re going???

But it’s not that I’m “bad” at this, which is what I’ve always thought, it’s just that I’m coming at it from the opposite angle. I can’t plan the plot before the characters because I’m sticking close to the characters, and the traditional “plot” is secondary to whatever’s going to happen to them. And that’s not a wrong way of writing, it’s just a different way of writing. And it’s wrong of me to be thinking that my stories don’t get a “point” until they’re almost over. THEY’VE HAD THE POINT ALL ALONG. What happens when they’re almost over is that the characters come to where they’ve been going, and then the traditional “plot” is what helps shape the ending. The traditional “plot” becomes, to me, like that epilogue scene after the biggest explosion in an action movie, where you’re told the characters are going to be okay. I spend the entire movie telling you the characters are going to be okay, and then my epilogue scene is tacked on “oh, p.s., also they saved the day.” 

There is so much here that I want to say I don’t even know where to begin. @earlgreytea68 you’re not alone. Hit me up. I’ve studied plot and structure forever. Fics are pure, uncut, internal-motivation-drives-everything storytelling and they are so very different from the monomyth that drives most commercial fiction these days that they almost have to exist in a liminal space like fan fiction. I could go on…


Hahaha, this is my week to just want to be Tumblr friends with everyone, all the FOB people, all the fluff people, all the fandom anthropology people, LET’S ALL BE FRIENDS. 

<3 <3 <3

@earlgreytea68 and @glitterandrocketfuel and OP and everyone else who contributed – this is beautiful, and I’m saving it to read and consider again later. probably with a glass of wine or something. <3

Smart idea. 😉

This! Is what I have been unable to articulate to my family.