Jun 20, 2019 4:10 AM
A Margaret in Fabulous
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The operating hours are supplied - they are open Saturday, but not Sunday - and it will probably take about an hour, not more than two.

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If all goes well, she should be able to come in this afternoon. Anything else they should get to while she's on this call?

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"If you have any limitations on what you're willing to work on besides things that would be inappropriate for your age, you may as well let us know in advance so I can get you the right version of the contract - some people don't want to advertise meat, or go against boycotts endorsed by certain organizations, or particpate in religious campaigns -"

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She'd prefer not to advertise for tobacco or against same-sex marriage, but the former is probably irrelevant for under-eighteens anyway. Anything else should be fine.

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"I can write that in, no problem," says Rosa.

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Oh good. If there's nothing else then she'll see them in person in an hour or two.

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In person they have a contract printed out for her! It is complicated. It acknowledges that she can quit at-will (and they can dismiss her at-will) but that while she works for them she has only limited discretion on assignments assuming reasonable attempts are made to make best-fit matches between work and model; her working hours are limited to evade child labor laws; part of her pay will be withheld for mandatory cryptid insurance to be paid to her next of kin; she relinquishes rights to the photos; she may be invited to wear things for shoots she is not welcome to copy with magic for everyday wear and will be notified at the time if this occurs; etc. etc. etc.

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The cryptid insurance is a bit unnerving, but if they ask her to do anything that sounds significantly beyond what she's confident is okay then she can always quit, and looking at it another way it's proof that they're not going to ignore her full shapeshifting potential.

They're definitely not going to copy her current outfit and then say she's not allowed to use it, right? If they say they won't, then she's fine with this contract as-is.

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"Oh, things you invent are fine. The problem would be knockoffs of name brands. It's a losing battle, if you want to know what I think, but people who want to keep their trademarks have to fight it anyway, so we have to put it in the contract - you model authentic Louboutins, you wear something else home."

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This is reasonable, and it's easier to invent things custom than to fit copied pieces together anyway. She'll steer clear of IP shenanigans and sign their contract.

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"Wonderful! I'll keep an eye out and call you if I find something I think you'll like," beams Rosa.

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What a conveniently simple process. It's probably more complicated for non-magical girls.

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And since Rosa doesn't have anything on deck for her right away, once all the papers are signed, she is free to go.

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Then she'll have the rest of the day to get ahead on her English reading, practice getting pen marks on her clothes and clearing them up by magic while pacing back and forth without tripping, read the news on Swarmwatch and the FAQ on Elements of Style, sketch some thoughts on the control circuitry for robotics club's latest project, and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

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Swarmwatch asks to know her location, and says a swarm in the nearest national park had time to coalesce into three dog-sized monsters before it was found and defeated by professional swarmhunting team Seraph Squad. Swarms were defeated before coalescing by first responders in the following pinned locations on the map of her area in the last week. People are invited to participate in a randomized controlled trial series on what causes swarms to spawn in homes and yards; compensation is available. Remember to buy your swarm manifestation insurance before the new year for tax incentive reasons.

The Elements of Style FAQ is like so:

Do I really have to wear a skirt? Some girls get good results with pants... but it's much, much harder. If you're going to try to be a heavy magic-user and you can't stand skirts, not even over a pair of snazzy leggings, you're probably going to need professional consultation.

Does my motif have to relate to my magic? Not necessarily. If your magic is strongly visual, a theme that cooperates with it will let you look cooler while you're casting... it won't affect how much magic you have available from a standing start. And if your spells can't be seen, then there's no there there for your motif to cooperate with!

How about drag? Avoid. Pants are hard enough already. We're not aware of any professional-grade magical girl costumes that don't look emphatically feminine. Note, of course, that there are all kinds of ways to be feminine - if eight year old girls can be little powerhouses without C-cups, so can teenagers who just don't want the extra ballast!

Do my clothes have to harmonize with my physical changes? Yes. A pair of plain feathered wings goes with almost anything, but if you're doing cool stuff with colors and textures, your clothes need to match for good results. Contrast can work, but do it advisedly and thoughtfully, don't just slap snakeskin on over seal fur and expect a second spell.

Does it matter if I'm pretty, as long as my clothes are? What does being pretty mean? We'd like to be able to tell you that everyone is pretty in her own way. But whatever we might think of your looks, you probably want to smooth them out before you expect the big spells. You will be fighting an uphill battle if you're sentimentally attached to pudge, acne, a unibrow, snaggle-teeth, or any but the very coolest-looking scars. That's not our judgment call - this is the same magic that has something against pants, for crying out loud. And if you're really determined, maybe you can pull it off - Maria Cordova weighs a hundred and eighty pounds, and she doesn't even have wings.

What counts as plagiarism? This one's still a subject of major research. You can draw on references and influences - it can even help you stay in-theme to do so. What you shouldn't do is look at something in a movie or a shop window, say 'that's part of my base costume now', and copy it. The rule of thumb is that you need to change at least two things: if you copy boots but change the color and length, that's fine, though it'd be better if you also adjusted the heel and added your emblem to it. If you copy a dress but swap the sleeves with some you saw on a different dress and add ruching to the bodice, that's fine, though it'd be better if you hemmed it and altered the neckline too.

Is Elements of Style affiliated with the Church of Thaumatology? Some of our writers are members of the Church but we're not a Church organization or affiliated with the Church.

Does Elements of Style provide style consults? We have a section where we post profiles of style consultants, but EoS itself does not provide this service and someone featuring on the site is not an endorsement.

How much is too much, when it comes to getting close to turning into a cryptid? If you're venturing into uncharted territory, all we can tell you is to be very, very careful. There's no warning when you're half an inch from the edge of the cliff, so even going slowly won't necessarily help. However, for common additions, we've got a "point system" that we think is conservative enough to trust. Stay under 325 points picking exclusively off that list, and you're golden. (Or whatever color you want to be!)

What else should I be reading if I'm just getting started? We particularly recommend these articles for newbies: Motifs 101, Visual Dictionary Compilation, Strongest Magical Girls Of The World - Photo Album And Detail Discussion, A Guide to Honing Aesthetic Intuition, and Playing Hotter And Colder.

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The point system thing is pretty neat. Just for fun, are enough of the things Margaret's done to herself on the list that she can get a sense of how many points she's at?

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Yup. Scales - full body is 145 points and Wings (with skeletal additions - e.g. bird or bat/dragon type wings) is 120 points.

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Hmm, only 265. And the eye changes probably don't add much . . . how does the magic feel about extending her nails into claws? 

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A mild positive!

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 . . .yeah, she's probably not going to be able to fire a stardarter like this, is she. She certainly can't hold a pencil. The claws go. What else is there in the 40 points-or-so range? Fangs could be a good addition to a battle outfit if she can talk around them, even if she wouldn't want them at mealtimes.

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Fangs are actually just 12 points. She could do various configurations of horns and head ridges for fifty points per individual or paired spiky bit (complicated ones go according to this formula, and it has a WARNING: SPECULATIVE plastered on the chart).

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Ooh, horns! She'll go with a pair of slender opalescent ones, shaped like integral signs with the tips pointing outward. They add six inches to her height, but she didn't start out tall enough to put her at risk of hitting doorways. 

The fangs are kind of fun, but definitely not an all-the-time thing--they make her lisp. The horns she likes enough to keep unless they actively make her magic worse.

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The horns are great! The magic likes the horns.

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The magic has such good taste, if she does think so herself. She really should go to bed though, she wants to wake up bright and early tomorrow and get some more exercise in.

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The magic has no opinion on this. Well, it has an opinion on pajamas (they're not great). Otherwise no comment.

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