Archive for February 24th, 2008

Feb 24 2008

Index: Writing Guides

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.

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