Archive for February, 2008

Feb 28 2008

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Published by under Superhero Nation

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

“What does the ‘B’ stand for in B. Mac?”


Our staffers have some theories.



–Cadet Davis






–O.J. [I wonder who’s going for a raise– B. Mac]


Interesting theories, but the correct answer is that the ‘B’ stands for ‘BMacalicious.’

No responses yet

Feb 27 2008


Published by under News

Bill Buckley died today. (He authored God and Man at Yale, which inspired the Superhero Nation chapter title “Gods and Supermen at Yale”). We weren’t very close; in fact, he was something like my archenemy. However, he was as good an adversary as anyone could hope for, unless you’re able to get Bernard Lewis.

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Feb 25 2008

Got leeches?

I don’t mean to demean the risks of a terrorist attack or chain-saw murder spree, but Americans have generally discounted the threat of a death by face-leech. There are worse deaths than a face-leeching, but most involve IRS audits.  And blenders.

–Agent Orange

No responses yet

Feb 25 2008

Agent Orange’s Guide to Animals

3 responses so far

Feb 24 2008

Index: Writing Guides

How to Improve Your Characters

  1. How to Introduce Major Characters
  2. How to Name Characters (Superheroes and Otherwise)
  3. How to Save Mary Sues (Insufficiently-Challenged Characters)
  4. How to Develop Interesting Characters
  5. 15 Interesting Motivations for Villains and Heroes
  6. A List of Character Attributes
  7. Writing Male Characters
  8. Please Don’t Model Your Characters on Your Friends
  9. Don’t Make Your Villains Unnecessarily Evil
  10. Why Secret Origins Usually Fail (“Leia’s my sister!?!”)
  11. How to Make Your Character’s Job Interesting
  12. How to Use Characters with Mental Disorders
  13. Don’t Let Minor Characters Steal the Show
  14. How to Make a Character Likable
  15. Please Don’t Use Generically Nice Characters
  16. Writing Villains Vs. Writing Heroes
  17. How to Make Your Love Interest a Real Character (Banana Slug)
  18. Be Careful With Crying Characters (Marissa)
  19. Female Characters: Awful Vs. Awesome


How to Improve Your Titles

  1. Is Your Title Stylish Enough?
  2. 10 Common Mistakes of Novel Titles
  3. Even More Ways to Blow a Title
  4. How to Write Titles That Sell (Novels and Chapters)
  5. Your Title is Bad, But You Can Fix It (Part 1)
  6. Your Title is Bad, But You Can Fix It (Part 2)
  7. Your Title is Bad, But You Can Fix It (Part 3)
  8. Your Title is Bad… (Part 4)
  9. Your Title is Bad… (Part 5)
  10. Your Title is Bad… (Part 6)
  11. Your Title is Bad… (Part 7)
  12. Your Title is Bad… (Part 8 )
  13. Your Title is Bad… (Part 9)
  14. Your Title is Bad… (Part 10)


Introductions and Prologues
  1. Prologue Tips
  2. How to Write Excellent First Lines
  3. How to Survive to Page 2
  4. The Five Worst Novel Introductions
  5. How to Write Strong Introductions (Novels)
  6. Don’t Wait to Introduce Your Main Character


Structuring Your Story

  1. Writing a Novel’s Synopsis
  2. End Your Chapters With a Bang
  3. Chapter Checklist
  4. Organizing Your Story With Cause and Effect
  5. How to Handle Backstory
  6. How to Do Multiple Narrators and POVs With Style
  7. How to Convey Information the POV Doesn’t Have
  8. Be Careful with Sequels
  9. Common Problems with First-Person Narration
  10. Common Problems with Third-Person Narration
  11. Organizing Your Plot: Five Kinds of Central Plots
  12. Story Structure
  13. Cover Your Plot Holes– It Might Be Hilarious


Becoming a Professional Writer

  1. Eight Facts About Writing That Surprise Inexperienced Novelists
  2. Another Eight Facts About Writing That Surprise Inexperienced Novelists
  3. Why Is It So Important for Authors to Read Widely?
  4. Rules of Professional Behavior
  5. Mental Issues in the Workplace
  6. Think Like an Editor (Marissa)
  7. How to Communicate with Agents and Editors


Plotting and Pacing

  1. How to Build Coherent Transitions Between Scenes
  2. Start Your Story As Everything Goes Wrong
  3. When the Villain Beats the Heroes, Don’t Just Let Them Go
  4. Make Your Story Interesting with Urgent Goals
  5. Automatically Generate a (Goofy) Plot
  6. Your Introduction Should Not Read Like an Atlas
  7. Don’t Let Your Characters Walk Away from the Story
  8. How to Make Traveling Interesting
  9. How to Beat Disbelief and Immerse Readers
  10. Plot Elements That Should Not Be Added Lightly
  11. How to Avoid Info-Dumping
  12. Training Scenes


How to Avoid Common Writing Mistakes

  1. 5 Common Mistakes of First-Time Authors (Part 1)
  2. 5 Common Mistakes of First-Time Authors (Part 2)
  3. 5 Common Mistakes of First-Time Authors (Part 3)
  4. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 4)
  5. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 5)
  6. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 6)
  7. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 7)
  8. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 8 )
  9. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 9)
  10. 5 Common Mistakes… (Part 10)
  11. If You’re A First-Time Author, Do Not Self-Publish!



  1. Dialogue Checklist
  2. How to Use Dialogue Tags Effectively
  3. Common Dialogue Mistakes
  4. Keep Your Dialogue Tight
  5. How to Punctuate Dialogue
  6. Please Don’t Use Bad Accents


Other Writing Mechanics and Miscellaneous

  1. How to Write Memorably
  2. How to Beat Writer’s Block
  3. Don’t Quit Your Day Job!
  4. Show, Don’t Tell
  5. How to Write Gripping Scenes
  6. Write Concisely!
  7. Eliminate Gimmicks in Your Writing
  8. Don’t Abuse “There’s”
  9. 9 Words That Usually Shouldn’t Start a Sentence
  10. A Few Notes on Punctuation
  11. Make Your Story Intriguing, Not Cryptic
  12. How to Do Settings and Scenery Well
  13. Don’t Tell Readers What the Character Isn’t Doing


Learning Writing Skills from Published/Aired Works


Genre Writing and Resources

  1. ANYTHING SUPERHERO: How to Make Interesting Headquarters for Superheroes and Villains
  2. FANTASY OR SUPERHERO ACTION: How to Keep Your Superpowers and/or Magic Extraordinary
  3. ACTION: How to Pace an Action Scene
  4. ROMANCE: Common Pitfalls of Romance (ReTARDised Whovian)
  5. ROMANCE: How to Make Your Love Interest a Real Character (Banana Slug)
  6. COMEDY: How to Write Comedy
  7. COMEDY: How to Write Parodies (Tom)
  8. DETECTIVE/MYSTERY: Probing for Inconsistencies


Research and Resources
  1. A Writer’s Guide to Guns and Firearms
  2. 7 Things Guns Cannot Actually Do
  3. An Introduction to Bounty Hunting


Editing and Refining Your Work

  1. It’s Okay If Your First Draft Sucks
  2. How to Take Criticism Well
  3. Applying “Rules” of Writing to Your Work
  4. Twenty Questions to Ask Before Submitting Your Story
  5. 100 Questions to Test Your Story
  6. Style Checklist
  7. How to Make the Most of Beta Reviews


Getting Published and Self-Publishing

  1. Length Guidelines: How Long Should Your Novel Manuscript Be Before You Submit It?
  2. How to Format a Novel Manuscript
  3. How Novel Manuscripts are Evaluated
  4. Why Do Good Manuscripts Get Rejected?
  5. How Long Does It Take to Get a Novel Professionally Published?
  6. 10 Reasons Novel Manuscripts Get Rejected
  7. List of Instant Rejections
  8. Teresa Hayden’s List of Novel Rejections
  9. 16 Reasons Your Novel Manuscript Got Rejected Before Page 1
  10. Will Your Manuscript Survive to Page 2?
  11. Will Your Manuscript Survive to Page 20?
  12. What is a Query? How Do I Write One?
  13. Sharpen Your Story With a Two Sentence Synopsis
  14. More Two-Sentence Synopsis Tips
  15. Marcus Hart Explains: How to Self-Publish
  16. How Much Will It Cost You to Self-Publish?
  17. Why First-Time Authors Should Not Even Think About Self-Publishing
  18. Why Self-Publishing Might Work for You


Target Audience

  1. How to Write for Kids (Tom)
  2. How to Write for Kids (B. Mac)
  3. Your Readers Are Not the Same as You!
  4. Market Trends: Teen Literature is Selling Quite Well


Social Commentary in Fiction

  1. So You Want to be an Opinionated Author
  2. Writing About Racism

29 responses so far

Feb 24 2008

Index: How to Write Superhero Stories

Creating Superhero Characters

  1. Superpowers Will Not Make a Boring Character Interesting
  2. Superhero Creation Questionnaire
  3. How to Write a Good Sidekick
  4. How to Name Superheroes
  5. More Ideas About How to Name a Superhero
  6. How to Give Your Superhero A Day Job
  7. How Can Superheroes Maintain a Day Job?
  8. Common Superhero Day Jobs, Part 1
  9. Common Superhero Day Jobs, Part 2
  10. Modern Superhero Naming Conventions
  11. Questionnaire for Nonhuman Characters
  12. Random Name Generator for Alternate Identities
  13. Three Qualities of Solid Villains
  14. Pros and Cons of Using Secret Identities
  15. Reasons Your Protagonists Might Not Use Secret Identities


Superpowers and Capabilities

  1. List of Superpowers
  2. How to Distinguish the Superpowers in Your Superhero Stories
  3. Selecting Effective Superpowers For Your Story
  4. Superpowers Checklist
  5. How Creative Do Your Superpowers Need to Be?
  6. How to Keep Your Superpowers Extraordinary
  7. Limiting Superpowers for Dramatic Effect
  8. Can You Explain Your Protagonist’s Superpowers in 1-2 Sentences?
  9. Keeping Your Superpowers From Getting Stale
  10. How to Create Weaknesses for Your Superhero
  11. Creative Ways to Use Supersenses
  12. How Do Your Characters’ Superpowers Affect Their Perspectives?
  13. Kryptonite-Style Weaknesses Are Usually a Poor Option
  14. Common Superpower Problems
  15. 10 Uses for Forcefields
  16. Writing Psychic Characters and Psionics


Superhero Origin Stories

  1. List of Superhero Origins
  2. How to Write Origin Stories
  3. Plausible Origin Stories
  4. Why Secret Origins are Usually Awful
  5. “Just Another Comics Blog” Argues Against Origin Stories


Plotting Superhero Stories

  1. A List of Superhero Cliches and Tropes
  2. Problems and Obstacles for Superheroes to Face Besides Supervillains and Criminals
  3. Writing More Realistic Violence
  4. Elements of Superhero Stories That Might Be Surprisingly Plausible
  5. How to Do Superhero Gadgets Well
  6. How to Keep Your Story’s Superpowers Extraordinary
  7. Difficulties Superheroes Would Face in the Real World
  8. Felonies That Most Superheroes Commit (this could be helpful if your protagonists have testy relations with the police)
  9. Writing Realistic Superhero Stories


Five Common Mistakes of Comic Book Writers

  1. Part One
  2. Part Two
  3. Five Superhero Plots that Need to Die
  4. Five Things About Your Superhero Story That Might Be Wasting Your Time


Other Advice for Comic Book Writers

  1. Experiment With Your Panel Layouts
  2. Should You Write a Comic Book or a Superhero Novel?
  3. Free Comic Book Scripting Software
  4. Use the Ending of Each Issue to Sell the Next Issue
  5. Make Your Recaps Stylish
  6. Sketch Your Pages Before Sending Them to the Artist


The Mechanics of Writing a Superhero Story

  1. How to Write Superhero Fight Scenes
  2. How to Pick Superpowers that Make Your Story Work
  3. Common Problems with Superstrong Heroes
  4. Common Problems with Psychic Superheroes
  5. Common Problems with Powersuited Superheroes (like Iron Man)


Marketing and Visual Issues

  1. Easy-to-Fix Visual Design Problems for Superhero Characters
  2. How to Make Your Story Less “Weird” and More Novel
  3. Superhero Visual References: Boots
  4. Superhero Visual References: Gloves
  5. Superhero Novel Proposals:  How to Write the Comparable Works Section


Getting Published

  1. Publishers That Accept Unsolicited Submissions
  2. What Goes Into a Comic Book Submission?
  3. A Few Tips on Submitting a Comic Book Script
  4. How to Communicate With Editors

393 responses so far

Feb 22 2008

Animal abuse is no laughing matter… but this is!

Today we have a delightfully bizarre picture featuring TallyGator’s pet alligator and an awfully curious choice of nail-polish. I wonder what the gator thinks…

What’s the pencil for?

Getting sued by a reptile is painful.  Who can you get to represent you?

No responses yet

Feb 20 2008

DOD reports satellite hit

The Defense Department reports that the US Navy successfully hit a dying US satellite with a missile.  I’m, uhh, not thrilled that we’re spending (sixty million) tax dollars to shoot down our own satellites, but at least we didn’t miss.  Heh.

No responses yet

Feb 20 2008

100 Nations and Counting

Published by under Superhero Nation

Readers from Barbados, Macedonia and Latvia have put Superhero Nation’s nation-count at 100 nations.  Thanks.

Roughly 70% of our hits have come from the United States, including 20+ readers from every state except Wyoming.

By my count, we’re missing seven countries in the Western Hemisphere, three European countries, three Middle-Eastern countries, most of the states of Central Asia and all of Africa but five states.

No responses yet

Feb 20 2008

Thought of the Day: Intelligence

“Supervillains,” “supercriminals,” or whatever else you weaklings want to call us tend to exaggerate our own intelligence. That is a mistake for two reasons.

  1. No “supervillain” will be 100% successful. Losing to cretins from South Carolina and Ohio is bad enough, but it will only be more humiliating if you’ve claimed to be a supergenius.
  2. If your accomplice claims to be the smartest man in the world, he thinks that he is smarter than you.  Unless you kill him immediately to preempt his eventual betrayal, you have proven him right.  Conversely, if you were to claim that you were the smartest man in the world, it would entice others to kill you.  Who’s smart now?


No responses yet

Feb 18 2008

Yet more amusing alligator pictures

Published by under Comedy

“It’s not mine, officer, I swear!”

Shh… he’s hiding

Picture c/o TallyGator.

I won’t tell if you don’t.

Picture c/o Kawaii Moogle.

No responses yet

Feb 17 2008

More Amusing Gator Pictures

Published by under Art,Comedy,Reptile Humor

Sure, everyone wants to be a Street Shark

Ah, never mind.  You’re screwed.

Picture c/o Kwerf.

No responses yet

Feb 16 2008

Wings’ Review Forum: How to Save the World

Published by under Review Forums

‘Sup. I’m Wings, a Californian, a student, and a scatterbrained writer.

How to Save the World is a superhero novel, filled with heroism, self-discovery, friendship, and a little hilarity. It’s about a dysfunctional team of superpowered teenagers and their struggle to defeat a less-than-sane genius principal and an veritable army of their hypnotized classmates while maintaining steady B averages. As if high school wasn’t hard enough. When the fate of the world rests upon the shoulders of an impulsive pessimist with a short temper, her naive best friend who’s fallen hard for a queen bee, a quiet paraplegic searching for his older brother, and the sixth grader who’s probably smarter than all of them…well, we’d better cross our fingers for luck. They’re gonna need it.

For more, it’s probably best right now if you read old posts by me. You’ll catch up to the plot and characters best that way.

Target Audience

I’m pretty flexible. However, for violence and several dark scenes, the over-thirteen range. I have a little romance and some tearful moments for girls, and PLENTY of violence for guys (and, if you’re a girl like me, girls too).

My Approach to Criticism

We fanfiction writers are notoriously light armored, but I’m tougher than most. Just try to be nice, okay?

The Works I’m Most Familiar With

The closest thing that I’m reading to a superhero work thus far is the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. It’s rather confusing, but laugh out loud hilarious, especially in the last few books. I read almost all fantasy (anything with the word “dragon” in the title usually gets me) and I agree with Ragged Boy about the LOTR books, I didn’t like them much (though I might have enjoyed them more if my seventh grade teacher hadn’t made me read them).

Thanks for your help.

— Wings 🙂

452 responses so far

Feb 16 2008

Chi.Rho’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

See the comments below.  Thanks.

37 responses so far

Feb 15 2008

Quote of the Day (2/15/08)

Not surprisingly, mammals usually drink beer when watching football.  If I had to root for a team like the Golden Gophers, I’d also want to drink myself into a stupor.

–Agent Orange, Superhero Nation’s resident mutated alligator (and football afficionado)

No responses yet

Feb 15 2008

I just saw one of my arch-nemeses on TV

Published by under Uncategorized

No joke; the captain of the Wheaton North Scholastic Bowl team was just on Teen Jeopardy.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Feb 14 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/14/08

Ultimately, governments do two things: take taxes and kill things.  Do I look like I’m from the IRS?

–Agent Orange

No responses yet

Feb 13 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/13/08

Doctor:  Well, I’ve never seen any case remotely as exotic as this one.  But it could be worse.  Gregor Samsa turned into a cockroach.

Catastrophe:  You’re not helping.

No responses yet

Feb 11 2008

Next writing article: voicing your characters

Right now I’m working on a piece on character voice. What sort of character voices do you enjoy reading the most? What sort of character voice issues concern you the most when you are reading or writing? If you have any thoughts, please e-mail at superheronation… at…. . (I’ll credit you unless you say otherwise).

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Feb 11 2008

Catastrophe’s Guide to Poker Terminology

Catastrophe:  In Texas hold’em, a pocket pair of aces is known by many names, including “the rockets”, “a good time”, and “FINALLY”.

No responses yet

Feb 10 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/10/08

Captain Carnage: “Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are not a bureau…they’re a fine night.”

No responses yet

Feb 09 2008

Speaking of gambling…

Since I wrote yesterday, the value of an Intrade Romney bid to win the nomination has doubled to $.08, which means a 125:1 payout if it happens. (Remember, the payout for each winning share is $10).

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Feb 09 2008

Dforce’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

See comments below.

111 responses so far

Feb 09 2008

And other easy-to-answer questions…

Published by under Comedy,Superhero Nation

One of the Google searches that brought someone to Superhero Nation today was “why people don’t like their bankers.”  Hmm, this is a tough one…

No responses yet

Feb 08 2008

Halfbakery’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

7 responses so far

Feb 04 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/4/08

Love demands infinitely less than friendship…” — George Nathan

…but costs infinitely more.” — Agent Black

No responses yet

Feb 03 2008

Superbowl Highlights and Lowlights

Published by under Football,Sports

The Game: Awesome. Ridiculous. This will likely be the highest-watched Superbowl thus far.

The Show: I was elated to see that it was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but it confuses and enrages me that “Won’t Back Down” and “Free-Falling” made the cut and “Last Dance with Mary Jane” did not (because it’s possibly narcotic?). After around five seconds of Free-Falling, I was ready for Tom Brady and the (New York) Heartbreakers.

The Ads: From bad to worse. I enjoyed a spot that featured salamanders dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, but in an objective sense I realize that the ad is only funny to people that think that dancing salamanders are funny.

Best Use of Copyrighted Character: Terminators doing battle with the NFL robot guys to showcase the unbelievably bad Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Worst Use of Copyrighted Character: Hard to say, but probably the Coke (Pepsi?) commercial that used Stewie from Family Guy.

Best Use of Athlete: American Idol’s use of Ben Rothlisberger.

Second Best Use of Athlete: Chad Johnson in “Moment of Truth”.

No responses yet

Feb 03 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/3/08

Some people see things that are and ask “why?”  But, at the Office of Special Investigations, we only care about who and where. — Captain Carnage

No responses yet

Feb 02 2008

But what about the supervillain vote?

Published by under Comedy

McCain is advertising on the International Society of Supervillains website.  I guess it’s because the New York primary is this Tuesday.

No responses yet

Feb 02 2008

Quote of the Day: 2/2/08

If you don’t have enemies, you don’t have character.” — Paul Newman

If you do have enemies, you’re not shooting fast enough.” — Captain Carnage

No responses yet