Feb 24 2008

Index: How to Write Superhero Stories

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.

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

330 responses so far

330 Responses to “Index: How to Write Superhero Stories”

  1. mysticguston 03 May 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I think this is useful. :) Have I mentioned this is helping me write a novel?

  2. B. Macon 03 May 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Good luck, Mysticgust! Let us know if you’d like beta-reviewers– just leave a comment here or e-mail us at SuperheroNation[at]gmail[dot]com .

  3. Luxmanon 29 May 2008 at 10:00 am

    What do you think about the name Luxman? Is it apt for a superhero? Is it already in use?

  4. Cadet Davison 30 May 2008 at 1:43 am

    I think that as far as a comic book audience is concerned, it’s not in use. (There’s a Japanese electronics company named Luxman, but I think that none of your readers will have heard of it and you probably won’t have any legal liability issues). For example, the novel Soon I Will Be Invincible features a character named Bluetooth whose ability is remotely controlling electronic devices and, as far as I know, they haven’t gotten sued yet.

    I think you’re legally in the clear to use the name, but I am not sure how effective the name Luxman is. It doesn’t seem to me to be very emotionally powerful and the pronunciation seems ambiguous (LUCKS-man or LUKES-man?). What are some of the characteristics you want readers to associate with your character?

    Good luck!

  5. Necroon 30 Jun 2008 at 3:54 pm

    This is helping a lot, but I’m still having trouble with defining my character’s powers and coming up with character names. Do you have any suggestions?

  6. J.M.on 30 Jun 2008 at 6:42 pm

    @Necro:

    I find that it’s usually easiest to start with the character powers, fill in personal details like background and personality, and then come up with the super-name.

    It’s hard to say what powers are best for your story. However, if you’re a first time novelist, it’ll probably be easier to start with generic powers and then add in one or two minor exotic powers. For example, Spiderman has several generic powers (enhanced agility, reflexes, and strength) and then two minor, exotic ones (webs and spidersense).

    Likewise, when we wanted to make a character to parody Nick Fury and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we gave the character a few basic powers that seemed logical for a mutant alligator: strength, claws and regeneration. Then we threw in two exotic touches, supersmell and infrared vision. Because we want this character to come off as an absurd and comical g-man, we named him Agent Orange.

    Most main heroes fall into one of six archetypes: the tank (like the Hulk), the gymnast (Spiderman or Flash), the mage (Dr. Strange), the psychic (Invisible Woman), the gadgeteer (Batman) and the elementalist (Human Torch or Captain Atom). I think it’s easiest to write a tank or gymnast, but it really depends on which story you want to write. If you want a high-fantasy story, mages will probably work better. Gadgeteer stories usually feel a bit more believable, psychics lend themselves nicely to fantastical science fiction (or perhaps high fantasy), and I think elementalists are particularly well-suited for comic-books and novels aimed at younger readers.

    As for names, again it really depends on what character and story you want to write. If you post a few details about the character, his powers and origin story, I’ll offer a few suggestions.

    Yours,

    Jacob

  7. Necroon 01 Jul 2008 at 8:06 am

    The character that I’m trying to name is basically a psychic that can only use his powers while he is fighting. He has five swords from a giant buster sword all the way down to a small blade, because I based him off an artist that draws a picture using his swords as he fights. So the swords are like paint-brushes to him. As he fights, the way he cuts things and destroys stuff will fit into his picture that most likely tells the future. But he blacks out when he fights. Either he or my main character, Necro, interprets the pictures.

    He was a child prodigy in his village but went rogue to find out why he was drawing these pictures and their meaning. He joins up with this organization called Sector 13, which took him in and promised that they would teach him more about his power.

  8. Necroon 01 Jul 2008 at 8:28 pm

    What do you think about Dwan as a character name?

  9. B. Macon 01 Jul 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Dwan’s fine, but the -dw- sound might be hard for readers to pronounce. However, I like the artistic angle of the character. So I have a few suggestions that try to combine hard-and-protagonistic sounds with soft-and-smooth ones. I got the impression that you’re writing a high-fantasy story not set on Earth, so I went for relatively exotic and unusual ones.

    –Orphid
    –Delance
    –Shayman
    –Illid
    –Crane

    These five, I think, are not conventional names but I don’t think they would trip up readers too badly. Good luck!

  10. Necroon 02 Jul 2008 at 9:32 am

    I think he is a pretty unique character. He’s one of my favorites.

  11. Necroon 02 Jul 2008 at 2:40 pm

    What about Kiru or Riku?

  12. B. Macon 02 Jul 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Of the two, I like Riku better.

  13. Justiceon 30 Jul 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you for all of this. I’ve been attempting to write a novel, and this site has been immensely helpful. I’m not really writing a ‘super-hero’ novel, because the character isn’t really a superhero until the last quarter of the book.

    The first third of the book is told from the point of view of his mother, Elizabeth, who had given him up for science after she discovered that she had become pregnant. The biological father, Tyler, tracked the child down, discovering that he had become part of a government operation known as Project Heracles whose goal is to create a ‘supersoldier’. At this point, Russel (the main character), is only four years old and able to bend rods of steel with his bare hands and withstand gunfire. Eventually, Elizabeth rescues him from the project’s grasp, and takes the reins over it in the process.

    The second part of the book describes Russel’s child and teenager hood, and how he befriends the highly intelligent but emotionally and morally unstable Mark Newman. Also, in keeping with at least some superhero cliches, Russel fights to control his secret and saves the occasional life. At the end of high school, Russel and Marks friendship comes to an abrupt end, and, due to a combination of different ‘injustices’ Mark decides that he hates Russel and threatens to kill him. Mark and Russel go their separate ways.

    The final section of the book describes Russel’s becoming a ‘law enforcer’ for the city of New York, gaining technology based powers in the process. Slowly, random terrorist attacks become more and more frequent around the globe. Soon, it is revealed that all of them are the work of Mark, now a world class inventor, who is building on an idea for a ‘society of the best’ that he had gotten in high school. It’s pretty obvious how the book turns out from this point, with Russel confronting Mark before his ‘final act of villainy’ occurs.

    I was just wondering what anybody though of it. And, in case your wondering, all of the characters do have believable motives. The story is inspired partly by Smallville, and partly (though I hate to admit it) the story of Wolverine.

  14. B. Macon 31 Jul 2008 at 8:06 am

    It’d be easier to evaluate this if you sent me a manuscript, but my initial concern is that publishers might sweat about the book if the first third is told from a different character’s perspective and is largely different from the 20-30%, which I imagine to be a fairly conventional superhero action story. There is a large group of readers interested in superhero novels, I think, but can you interest them in a book that seems at first glance to be about Elizabeth and Tyler rather than Russel and Mark? Can you make Mark’s plot logically flow from the first part of the book? It seems like the second and third parts of your book are coherent, but tying in the first part may be difficult.

    “The biological father, Tyler, tracked the child down, discovering that he had become part of a government operation known as Project Heracles whose goal is to create a ’supersoldier’.” It seems like Tyler is a more interesting character than Elizabeth here. He is curious and attached to his child, which are both endearing and plot-driving traits. In contrast, Elizabeth gave up the child (to science!) and doesn’t seem to care as much where the child went, which seems a bit cold and apathetic (neither of which I would recommend for a protagonist). Also, on a marketing level, I’d speculate that the majority of readers of superhero-themed novels are males. It may be easier to sell them on a male character rather than a female?

  15. Justiceon 31 Jul 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Do you think it would be better to split it into two books?

  16. B. Macon 01 Aug 2008 at 8:48 am

    That’s an interesting question. Again, I think it would help me to see a manuscript (which you can e-mail to superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com if you’d like us to beta review it). However, without having actually seen that… my instinct tells me that splitting it would be useful.

  17. Justiceon 01 Aug 2008 at 4:36 pm

    All right, I’ll consider sending the manuscript to you. Keep in mind though, I’ve barely started, so it may or may not take a while. I think it should go pretty quickly since I have a lot of scenes already outlined. Thank you for your input.

  18. Armondon 21 Aug 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I’m trying to design a female character, but I don’t want her to be a damsel in distress. Can anyone help me?

  19. B. Macon 22 Aug 2008 at 3:40 am

    Hmm. The single best female side-character I can think of in a superhero story is Lois Lane in the TV series “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” Although Lois repeatedly gets into situations where Superman has to save her, she is wholly superior to the average damsel-in-distress.

    1) She’s clever and witty. She frequently knows more about what’s going on than Clark/Superman.

    2) The story mostly avoids political incorrectness (women need to be saved!) by occasionally endangering Clark’s male co-workers (Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, usually).

    3) I found it extremely endearing that she came from a broken family, which was a useful foil to Superman’s storybook-perfect roots in Kansas. Although broken families can make a character feel emo, I thought that the show did an excellent job of using the detail to make her feel realistic and resilient.

    4) She’s not perfect, but she is likeable.

    5) She spars with Clark pretty frequently, and sometimes she gets the better of him.

    I have a few more thoughts here. Also, if you have the time, I’d highly recommend watching seasons 1 & 2 of the show.

  20. Thomon 26 Aug 2008 at 5:11 am

    Does anyone know how the copyright law applies when writing a novel that uses an existing world and characters, like a new Ironman or Superman story? I know that people are writing all kinds of new Star Wars stories but I am not sure how to stay on the right side of the copyright laws.

    It would be a bit ironic if a superhero out there fighting evil got sued for copyright infringement!

  21. B. Macon 26 Aug 2008 at 6:19 am

    First, I’m not a lawyer, so please take this accordingly. As long as you are not profiting from your work, you are probably in the clear as long as you acknowledge that (obviously) you do not own the rights to the Star Wars franchise.

    If you want to profit from your work, I imagine your only option would be to sell it to the publishers licensed to legally produce Star Wars books, because no one else can legally publish it. I think that’s Del Rey. That said, selling what I imagine to be fan-fiction is probably extremely difficult. The publisher for an established franchise like Star Wars can probably pay for pretty much any science-fiction author it wants. Making that sell would be like scoring a bullseye on a womp-rat with a T-16. Gah! I can’t believe I just wrote that.

  22. Thomon 27 Aug 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Hahaha, nice shot!

    Thanks for the reply. I was just using Star Wars as an example. I was actually thinking about a very old tv series and modernizing it. Take Dragnet for example. That was an old tv show that they did a movie about many years ago. Kind of like what they are doing with Charlies Angels, Starsky and Hutch etc.

  23. B. Macon 27 Aug 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Hmm, that’s an interesting question. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I think that you should probably talk to the people/company that owns the rights to the TV series, then. Then you’d have to convince them that it could be rewritten to play for 2008 readers. My initial impression is that it would be a tough sell, particularly if you’re not an established author with a track-record of strong sales.

    You would probably find it dramatically easier to write a similar story by changing the setting and characters as needed. For example, Seaquest DSV was legal (and excellent), even though it was pretty much Star Trek underwater.

  24. Thomon 28 Aug 2008 at 4:19 am

    Thanks B. Mac. I know that the original author is dead. I have to find out who owns the rights to the story and characters.

  25. B. Macon 28 Aug 2008 at 11:57 am

    Ah. You may find this link to John August useful.

  26. Thomon 28 Aug 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Good stuff, B. Mac. Thanks.

  27. XoXoPhyreon 02 Oct 2008 at 7:03 pm

    I’m writing a story about a superhero group right now. The group was put together by a government organization. I want the organization to have an acronym for its name. Any ideas?

    Also what’s a good number for a superhero team, besides 5 members because that’s so cliche? And what should be the female/male ratio?

  28. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 12:24 am

    I’d recommend 3-4 members. Five is very common, especially on anime cartoon shows, but in a novel you’d probably be hard-pressed to develop five characters, particularly if you plan to do anything with their origin stories. On television shows, viewers are more tolerant of characters that are grossly simplistic carciatures. (For example, each of the ninja turtles has only one trait). But novel-readers expect more character development.

    As for acronyms, I looked through the dictionary for some interesting sounding nouns, with an emphasis on words with a defensive connotation (like SHIELD). Some of the ones I liked were Epoch, Ward, Aegis, Guard, Slake, Acre, Rush, Sabre, Omaha, and Manhunt. What tone are you trying to develop for the group?

    Alternately, if you’re not a fan of defensive words, another conventional theme for a government-themed supergroup would probably be a patriotic-themed word (like FLAG). You could try Star or Eagle, I guess. [I assume this is a US agency, but it wouldn't be hard to adjust that for another country].

    The gender ratio kind of depends on your target audience. If your story is likely to appeal overwhelmingly to females (a la Sailor Moon), then you’d probably want (assuming you went with a 4 member group) 3-1 or 4-0 females:males. Conversely, your story might appeal overwhelmingly to males, particularly if it’s heavy on fighting and doesn’t feature very much interaction between characters. In that case, I’d recommend 3-1 or 4-0 males:females.

    Besides marketability, I think the main consideration is what you feel comfortable with. You can make a good story with all males, all females or anywhere in between. However, if you use a team that’s either entirely male or entirely female, it may be helpful to have a character try to offer some in-story explanation for that. That would probably help readers of the other sex feel like the story hadn’t forgotten that they exist.

  29. XoXoPhyreon 03 Oct 2008 at 5:09 am

    Thanks so much! You were definitely a big help. The only thing is I created a number of different heroes and its really hard for me to pick and choose. So I was thinking of creating a Justice League type of team with about 7-10 members. (Some members would join throughout the book, not all at once.)

    In the end, through a series of novels, I want to create an entire universe. I plan on starting with the core super group, then doing some single character stories, and finishing with a novel that includes all the characters together. Any ideas on big enough events that would require a large amount of superheroes to overcome?

  30. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 5:20 am

    Good luck with your group. I think that 7-10 heroes might be hard because your readers aren’t as familiar with your characters as Justice League’s viewers are with most of the big 7. I think a really large team is quite ambitious for a novelist building a world and mythos from the ground up.

    Introducing the characters gradually over the course of the novel is very shrewd. For example, over the course of the first Harry Potter novel, the author introduced us to Harry Potter, Hagrid (about 80 pages later), Hermione and Ron (about 30 pages later) and then finally minor heroes like Dumbledore and Neville. You don’t have to spend 80 pages developing your main character, obviously, but 1-2 chapters will help solidify the character in your readers’ minds before you introduce the next.

  31. XoXoPhyreon 03 Oct 2008 at 5:40 am

    I like that idea. I was planning on introducing the characters somewhat like Heroes did. Random stories that end up flowing into each other.

    And the agency is a branch of the government that is supposed to produce and back a superhero team. Train them, finance them, a provide them with transportation, science, medical help, etc.

  32. XoXoPhyreon 03 Oct 2008 at 6:38 am

    Could you help me with an acronym for the word ALPHA? I’ve made several attempts but they all sound campy.

  33. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 9:47 am

    Hmm. I think I could offer some suggestions for ALPHA (nice word, by the way), but I’d like to ask a question first. What does your agency do? For example, SHIELD handles mostly national security, but Hellboy’s bureau handles paranormal incidents.

  34. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Ah. And what sort of villains are you looking at? (For example, mostly terrorists, straight-up supervillains, paranormal monsters, aliens, etc).

  35. XoXoPhyreon 03 Oct 2008 at 8:13 pm

    The main villains are a terrorist organization with ties to some of the heroes. But I’m also going to throw in other supervillains, monsters, etc. I’ve decided to do a series of books about the team. Because I have a lot of content and it won’t fit in one novel without being confusing.

  36. B. Macon 03 Oct 2008 at 8:39 pm

    OK. In that case, I’d recommend something that sounds like generic national security. Whether it’s a supervillain or Godzilla attacking, it’s a threat to national security. (Also, would you want to bet the country on whether the National Guard can take down a supervillain? Questionable).

    But I’m really blanking. The best I can come up with are the Association of Paranormal-Hunters and Analysts and the Agency for the Prevention of High-Powered Aberration.
    The Audit of Paranormal [Homeland] Adversaries.

  37. Cadet Davison 03 Oct 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Agency for the Location and Prevention of Hazardous Anomalies.

  38. XoXoPhyreon 04 Oct 2008 at 6:30 am

    Thank you so much, guys! I really like Cadet Davis’ idea. Thank you for all the help.

    XoXo Phyre

  39. Cadet Davison 04 Oct 2008 at 8:11 am

    Haha, B. Mac. I win again!

  40. Stannumon 30 Nov 2008 at 5:59 am

    Hello,

    Just found your site and I see that it has some very useful information. Thank you.

    As a longtime fan of comic books, and supers in general, I find the most intriguing aspects of such characters to be the ethical choices regarding the use of their powers. The recent Civil War story line, and especially the Penance: Relentless mini series are fascinating for their look into the mindsets of the super-powered, and the possible responses to the results of their super-actions.

    Do you plan on writing any articles on the ethics of superpowers, and how these might be used as plot devices and tools for character development?

  41. Ragged Boyon 30 Nov 2008 at 7:21 am

    Whoa, you sound smart, Stannum. I’m Ragged Boy, the devoted demoniac of Superhero Nation. Nice to meet you.

  42. B. Macon 30 Nov 2008 at 8:45 am

    I don’t think we’ve addressed that in an article yet, but a few of our guests and I had an interesting conversation about superhero ethics here.

    I can probably write an article. Until then, I’d recommend trying to keep the following guidelines in mind.

    1: Violence, coercion and intensely threatening behavior will likely make the character seem menacing and nasty. (This should be obvious, but many authors are kind of surprised when I find their hero unlikable). I’d recommend having the character at least TRY a nonviolent solution, or that his violence is proportionate to the threat he faces, or whatever. Also, a hero that takes special effort to knock out his opponents rather than kill them will seem more likable (just don’t spend too much time on this detail. Readers will feel like you’re preaching at them that “killing is bad!” Uhh, yeah. We already knew that).

    2: Some jobs do not lend themselves well to people with superpowers. For example, sports are not fair for superpowered people. At one point Superman was a Heisman Trophy winner in college football. What the hell!?! It’s no more fair for him to compete in a sports event than it is for me to participate in a writing contest for first graders. Another career that’s questionable is journalism, particularly if the character directly cashes in on his alter ego (like Spiderman). It’s a huge conflict of interest for a superhero to take a job as a journalist when he’s secretly the biggest story in town. If you end up making him a journalist anyway, I’d recommend putting him in one moral dilemma after another (“how do I report this in a way that’s accurate but does not make Superman look bad? How can Clark Kent get himself taken off the Superman story without making anyone wonder?” )

    3: Too many superhero stories (Batman, particularly) get bogged down in moral arguments about who created whom. “Well, Batman created the Joker/the Riddler/whoever, so he’s a monster too!” Erm. Morally speaking, that’s not a very serious argument, unless the creation of supervillains is an obvious consequence of his decision to be a superhero.

    4: Is your hero see himself as a messiah? If so, he might strike objective observers as a megalomaniac. Case in point: Batman in Dark Knight: “Don’t swear to God. Swear to me!” Or Jack Bauer deciding that it’s up to him to decide when and how far to torture criminals to save teh day. And most modern superheroes have a rocky relationship with the police. One could argue that the superheroes want/need to make the police look bad because, if the police were successful, then the superheroes would not be as popular. Is your hero acting in good-faith as a supplement to regular police efforts, or is he so convinced that the police are useless that it seems like he’s trying to replace the police?

    5: Has your hero done any of the following? 1) Spent an afternoon filling out a deposition or police report. 2) Testified in court. 3) Provided useful evidence to the police, even though that might blow his own investigation. If he hasn’t done any of those, the police should be upset that the hero isn’t doing anything to help them win cases. He’s just a gloryhound with better public relations.

    The typical superhero “citizen’s arrest,” where Spiderman ties a random thug to a streetlamp with spider-web, is a slamdunk non-conviction that will surely leave the criminal back on the streets in under two days. Spiderman hasn’t given the cops enough evidence to actually convict the guy! If Batman gets a confession out of a criminal by beating the hell out of him, not only is that evidence unusable in court but if he passes it on to the police, then he’s making them into a beneficiary of the crime. (Considering how closely he works with Harvey Dent and Gordon, he is exposing the government of Gotham City to a MAJOR civil rights lawsuit). Maybe that’s OK, the lesser of two evils. But there should be consequences if everyone breaks the rules to get the job done.

  43. Bretton 30 Nov 2008 at 12:24 pm

    In answer to this, Batman Begins avoided the “superhero citizen’s arrest” issue by having Batman give the DA useful evidence to prosecute Falconey. And there were no legal strings attached.

    Also, the “who created whom?” thing I believe is most glaringly apparent in Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989?)

    Joker: “You made me remember? You dropped me into that vat of chemicals. That wasn’t easy to get over, and don’t think that I didn’t try.”

    Batman: “I know you did. I made you, but you made me first.”

    Joker: “Ha. I say you made me, now you gotta say I made you! How childish can you get?”

    Come to think of it, he had a point there…

  44. Deionon 30 Nov 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Man this site is helpful. Thanks bro!

  45. Ragged Boyon 30 Nov 2008 at 2:30 pm

    That’s a long whole name made up of first names.

  46. Stannumon 30 Nov 2008 at 6:01 pm

    These are exactly the type of questions I enjoy exploring.

    Would the testimony of a masked avenger be acceptable in court? This is the core of the registration act movement in Civil War.

    What exactly are the civic and ethical responsibilities of the police/government in regards to superheroes? It would seem to me to automatically set up an antagonistic environment. Police hate vigilantes more than they hate criminals. Successful vigilantes erode the civil power structure by encouraging others to follow suit. A super powered vigilante would be subject to extreme prejudice by authorities in my opinion.

    On the other side of that, what is the responsibility of the super if they exist in a repressed society (or worse, simply disagree vehemently with the current power structure)? Is it their moral obligation to become a criminal and/or vigilanty? This question isn’t exclusive to supers. However, it does become more potent because the super is more likely to have an impact than the average person.

    What about the example of the super hero commiting a crime, even up to murder, under the influence of a super villian or other plot device? In current society, while the sentence might be ameliorated, someone who commits a crime “under the influence” is still subject to prosecution and incarceration. We just don’t see that overall in comic books. To me, it’s a great tool for conflict development.

    What are the legal liabilities of a superhero? Let’s say he saves someone’s life, but destroys 10 cars in the process. Again, in today’s society, he is likely facing civil suits, class action lawsuits, and possible criminal prosecution. There would likely need to be a whole new set of laws created just to handle superpowers and their use and misuse.

    In regards to ethics, why shouldn’t a super-powered being profit from their abilities? We, as a society, seem to have no problem with star athletes and celebrities making millions through their extra-ordinary abilities. Should we begrudge the same to those with “other” super-powers? If I, Earth-Thing, can construct a brand new concrete dam within 30 minutes, am I obligated to perform this task for free? If so, why? What if I don’t? What if I won’t unless I get paid the equivalant value for such a construction project? Do I have legal recourse if I perform such a service under contract and don’t get paid?

    How would a masked super even open up a bank account to handle his transactions? Or found a company?

    The real question is: How much of this subject matter would actually make for interesting writing? I personally find it fascinating.

    Hi Ragged Boy :)

  47. B. Macon 30 Nov 2008 at 7:53 pm

    The Constitution is quite explicit about being able to face your accusers in open court. However, in a few cases (usually related to racketeering and the mob), civilian courts* have allowed witnesses to testify when it was plausible that the witness’s life would be endangered by testifying publically and that their testimony would not necessarily give away their identity.

    So I think the typical superhero would be able to argue that his safety requires him to testify secretly. However, the typical supervillain could probably argue the point because the typical superhero’s secret identity is usually relevant to his public identity. For example, Superman is largely unable to admit to being Clark Kent because that would reveal that his journalistic career has been based on dishonesty from day 1. (Reporting on yourself– secretly!– is about as bad as it could possibly get for a journalist). So the villain, if he had some reason to surmise that Superman was CK, could say that Superman actually wanted to testify secretly to protect himself from investigations into his professional ethics.

    *(Military tribunals are more open to anonymous testimony for a variety of reasons, but that’s probably not too relevant to the average superhero story).

  48. B. Macon 30 Nov 2008 at 8:06 pm

    As for the vigilante question. This has already been used pretty heavily, I think. Many, if not most, modern superhero stories use the police as an obstacle or a minor antagonist. A few more ideologically charged comics use the government as a villain. I’m not a fan of governmental villains because they usually feel too political, but you could mix this up by changing the government from a conservative villain (hating on minorities! registration act! national security overreaction!) into a more liberal villain (social control! nanny state! recycle or else! anyone that disagrees with me hates mutants/minorities!)

    Would any of this make for interesting writing? I agree that’s the real question. If you market your book as “ethics and political philosophy… with superheroes!” I suspect that it will fail. The people that want to read about ethics and political philosophy aren’t in the market for superhero stories. I think that a superhero story with ethical undertones will go farther. You could market that as a fresh and intelligent twist on superhero stories. I think that could work. (With the caveat that most superhero readers aren’t looking for an ethical treatise).

  49. Dallason 25 Dec 2008 at 10:37 am

    Dilemma. I just hit a big action scene and I finished it. Then I went on to the next chapter, where the main character is recovering from the fight. But now what? Do I immediately go into a buildup for another climax? I know there are supposed to be non-action points in the book but they’re tiresome to write. You know I mean, I’m down with writing them but they’re long.

  50. The Irredeemable Shagon 07 Jan 2009 at 10:31 am

    Great site and content! I’m really impressed! I’m a big superhero fan and have always toyed with the idea of writing some stories.

    Also, I pimped your site on my blog today. Hopefully it will generate a few hits for you.

    http://onceuponageek.com/2009/01/07/writing-for-superheroes/

    Keep up the great work!

    The Irredeemable Shag
    http://onceuponageek.com

  51. B. Macon 07 Jan 2009 at 11:21 am

    Hmm, Dallas. A action story that rolls from one Punisher-esque action sequence to another will probably get pretty tedious. I’d recommend spending a chapter or two describing what happens in the immediate aftermath of the fight. If the character has been wounded, he’d have to figure out a way to get himself fixed up without going to a hospital (because doctors will report gunshot wounds to the police). It might also help to develop the character by showing his progression from a rookie into someone who’s a fairly competent killer. If the story is in third-person narration, you could also focus a chapter on a few of the villains. How do they react to someone new waltzing in and blowing up their stuff? Where do they begin looking for him?

    Over the course of the book, it will probably be most dramatic if the gangs start an inept, bumbling hunt for him and only gradually begin to put it together. For example, they might think at the beginning that he’s working for a rival gang. They might think he’s a cop. Or actually a group of people. One way to ratchet up the tension is that they narrowly get closer and closer to discovering who he really is. (“He couldn’t have been older than 20.” “He’s hit three of our clubs on 110th street. He probably lives nearby.” “We know who his mentor is.”) As the gangs get closer and closer to discovering the truth, it will become more urgent and dangerous for your hero to finish his mission before the gangs can kill him.

  52. Davidon 07 Jan 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I’m writing a novel myself, as well as a comic. How long are novels usually and how do you do chapters?

    Also, I’ve sent an updated story for review.

  53. Holliequon 07 Jan 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Novels can be any sort of length – it depends on the audience you’re writing for and how much of a plot you have. Books for younger audiences can be 50,000 words and under, but I think older readers expect a longer work than that. I’m not sure what sort of page-count you’re looking at there, though.

    I’d recommend that you keep chapters fairly short, however. I think my average is about 1,500 words. I’d definitely suggest that you don’t go over two thousand.

  54. B. Macon 07 Jan 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Yeah, for an adult novel I’ve heard many different guidelines but around 60,000-80,000 sounds pretty conventional. However, the manuscript itself will probably be slightly longer to compensate for what the publisher will edit out.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by the question “how do you do chapters?”. Could you clarify that a bit? What sort of information are you looking for?

  55. Dallason 13 Jan 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Yeah, I had that kinda planned.

    Like he stumbled his way home and what do you know, the elevator is out.

    So he remembered the night in great detail as he made his way up. And like on the third floor, he passed out as his roommate helped him up the stairs.

    Then I have Hammond (the hitman) sitting in his employer’s living room. His employer is all like “WTF GTFO” but Hammond turns on the tv and the employer watches it. It’s a news report on the fire that Vir caused. They mention that there was a man with a gas mask kicking ass, but there wasn’t much detail.

    Right now, I’m writing that Vir wakes up and he discusses what happened with his roommate and what his next move is. (He will go out and take down a dealer. In return for mercy, the dealer tells Vir that the boss is going to meet his brother in Surry. Vir will follow them, hide in the darkness, follow them some more and then blow up their weapons stash).

  56. B. Macon 13 Jan 2009 at 11:33 pm

    OK, Dallas. I think that sounds good.

  57. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 14 Jan 2009 at 5:50 am

    My chapters are usually about 1,000 – 1,200 words long, but a few are about 800.

    These are usually where I have to cut to what Isaac’s girlfriend is doing, like stealing his diary or walking back into her house after a date to plot her next move.

    Out of 65 chapters, 13 are told in third person where Amy-Belle is the central character, but I may lengthen those or add more where I can. After all, Isaac getting blackmailed is one of the main plots in the book.

  58. B. Macon 26 Jan 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.

  59. dallason 31 Jan 2009 at 3:09 am

    Small dilemma, guys.

    My main character has to go on a vigilante spree fighting drug dealers for a bit before he does anything else significant. He already made his first and second appearances when he blows up the other bad guy’s home. So now he’s noticed by the really bad guys, and the other gang is noticing that he’s there, too.

    I’m kinda at an impasse. I need to expand on him more. Using the rpg scale, I guess he’s a neutral good character.

    Do I go into specific, like a play by play of maybe 2-3 chapters about each time he goes beating people up and expanding on his character each time? Or should I do a quick summary (maybe 2 pages)?

    I like the first one better, since it has more detail. Like how he experiments with a cape, tries fighting with a knife, tries a different outfit, etc.

    Eventually I want to get to the point where he has to make a choice between finding out information about the crime bosses’ operations and stuff, and saving a girl who is being violated. He has to make a choice between either letting her get raped or let a guy that he’s been hunting for months to get away.

    Of course he chooses to save the girl, but still.

    I need buildup.

  60. B. Macon 31 Jan 2009 at 4:24 am

    I guess I’d recommend drawing out each scene. I think your novel (it’s a novel, right?) will be competing mainly against comic books like The Punisher. The main advantage of your novel is that you have the ability to draw out scenes more. Also, I think that getting up to 60,000 words (about as short as a novel for older readers can go) is going to be hard for this work, so fleshing out scenes is a good place to start.

  61. newon 17 Feb 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I’m writing a story about a character transformed into a supercomputer with nanotechnology and genetic enhancement.

    Physically, he has increased speed, strength, durability, agility, healing and senses. Mentally, he has supercomputer intelligence and psychometry.

    He was created to be a superweapon. He originally grows up paralyzed in a wealthy circle. His father is a world renowned scientist / inventor. His parents split up. The mother runs out and abandons her son and husband. And an very wealthy manipulating uncle acts as a mentor surrogate father. His uncle’s worth billions due to a lucky pick of lottery numbers when my hero was 10 for 250 million dollars (after taxes) which then turn to a lucky street of stock investments, and a well known habit of being a gambling addict. All the while, he has maintained a high-stakes political and military career in defense and technological innovations. The uncle is the Secretary of Defense. He gave his brother a laboratory of unlimited financial resources to conduct research, and invent anything he wants for the world, in return dedicate a covert private testing operation for a “cliche” super soldier program using biomechanics, gene therapy, and nano technologies.

    The uncle is my starting villain. His luck turned him into a greedy, calculating, power hungry, mad man secretly plotting world domination.

    My hero the uncle’s nephew. Since 15, he’s been paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in his uncle’s limo when some asshole was driving drunk. With all the government funding, his father made many breakthroughs. The father is held by guilt… he feels he owes his brother an unpayable debt for being there when his wife left. So the uncle manipulates the father into embarking on a mission to create human “perfection.”

    I’m looking for advice on a name for my hero.

    Does the origin seem plausible?

    Should I make it a secret government recruiting project, where they take soldiers to undergo testing… eventually funding is pulled when early testing fails, due to a rare miscalculation by the father. The father is pressured by the uncle to continue on schedule, and speed up development. The uncle gets investigated by the President’s officials for funding such a farfetched idea.

    When funding is pulled the uncle spends his own money to continue anyway, and in a even secreter location set up as a fail safe. His test subjects are on prisoners and inner-city runaways, because military subjects aren’t available.

    The father then stumbles upon an epiphany, and grants superhuman abilities to those he experiments on.

    The uncle idealized his nephew being the ultimate failsafe weapon. Implanted with nano technology, and a super computer chip fused with his cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for feeling and thought… with his army of super humans the uncle wants to become president.

    When the father learns of his brother’s plans, he confronts him and threatens to stop the project and expose the uncle. The lab needed an abnormal amount of electrical power to start the process for the son. When the lab comes to life the continent of North America blacks out for a few seconds before the son can show signs of movement. Meanwhile, during the blackout, some of the other test subjects break loose and fight their way to freedom. While that’s happening, the uncle kills his brother to silence him for good and awaits the results of his nephew. The uncle doesn’t know that the son was able to bounce a signal off a satellite back to the lab’s security cameras and watch the murder. He breaks loose, the uncle escapes and the son tends to his dying father…

    What do you think so far?

  62. newon 17 Feb 2009 at 11:43 pm

    I need help with names.

  63. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 8:32 am

    Hmm. Long post. Can you give me some time to think about this? Also, what are a few superhero names you’ve liked in the past? (That’ll help me figure out what your style is like).

  64. newon 18 Feb 2009 at 9:36 am

    Well, I was inspired by the Chronicles of Riddick, Star Wars, Superman, and The Matrix. I’m also a big fan of DC, Marvel and Dragonball Z.

    This story is set in the future. It bridges with another hero that’s an alien.

  65. B. Macon 18 Feb 2009 at 10:00 am

    What would you think about something kind of hard like Gridley, Ridley, Rail, Railer, or Troy?

  66. Deanon 29 Apr 2009 at 8:42 pm

    is it possible for an article or two be written about superhero vehicles and how to design one?

  67. ikaruson 29 Apr 2009 at 9:20 pm

    ^^ I second that ^^

  68. B. Macon 29 Apr 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Hmm. That is a good question, Dean. I will think more about it. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions.

    1. Don’t give it a goofy name. For example, both Spiderman and Fantastic Four drew so much ridicule for their Spider-Car and Fantasticar that even they ended up making fun of the names. (In Ultimate FF, Reed Richards says “I was eight!” whenever Johnny brings it up). You don’t even have to give the vehicle a name. For example, the latest Batman movie never names the Batmobile. Batman just refers to it as “the car.”

    2. When it comes to appearance, I’d recommend trying to keep it as utilitarian-looking as possible. That will make it feel more serious. (Unless you’re going for a goofy look, in which case I recommend something like a bright sports car with massive jet-engines in the back and missiles on the sides). Other than that, I’d try to make sure that the appearance fits the mood. Don’t use bright colors and sporty curves unless your story can handle it.

    3. If you’re planning on doing fight scenes with the vehicle– and really, why else would you have one?– I’d recommend giving each passenger something useful to do. For example, someone manages the rear missiles, someone manages the guns in front, someone’s assigned to deflect incoming projectiles, etc. (This last job would probably be best for someone with forcefields, wind-control, telekinesis, or a power that can tear up debris to make a wall).

    4. Fight scenes in cars are usually most interesting in close spaces. That will make the fight more challenging, which will force your driver to try interesting stunts to get around obstacles. Cities are quite good for this.

    5. Lastly, I’d like to talk about two common features of superhero vehicles. One is the ability to split into separate parts for each teammate (a la Teen Titans). Unless you’re doing a TV show or movie, I don’t recommend it; I think it would be hard for a comic book writer or (especially) a novelist to choreograph a fight scene with 3-5 separate heroes whizzing around in their vehicles. Second is the ability to change terrains (from air to ground to underwater, etc). That could be really useful if you have an aquatic or aerial battle in mind. That said, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an aquatic battle. I guess I still have nightmares from that TMNT bomb level where you have to swim through the lake and get butchered by electric seaweed.

  69. Yogion 30 Apr 2009 at 6:45 am

    Hey, I’ve been working on my story, and I’ve been thinking about writing from two 1st person perspectives (the anti-hero and the hero). But I’ve realised that, if I do that, the hero might come off as stupid if he blunders into a trap. How can I show him falling into a trap that the reader knows about without making him look stupid?

  70. Deanon 01 May 2009 at 1:31 am

    Thanks, B. Mac.

    I have another article suggestion; this time it’s with superhero gadgets. Endless possibilities, the Do’s and Don’ts (if any).

    Some superheroes, like Batman, rely on tools like grappling guns, body armor and hearing devices rather than unknown origins.

    –Dean

  71. B. Macon 01 May 2009 at 1:53 am

    Hello, Yogi. “But I’ve realised that… [my] hero might come off as stupid if he blunders into a trap.” If he blunders ineptly into the trap, I think he’s going to come off stupid whether or not his perspective is the only one we have.

    I would really recommend showing that he triggers the trap not because he is incompetent, but because his villain is (in this situation) more competent. For example, his antagonist sets up an urgent crisis that forces the hero to move faster (and less carefully) than he normally does. Or the antagonist disables some tool that the hero usually relies on, so the hero isn’t playing with a full hand. Or the antagonist otherwise changes the rules of the game so that the hero isn’t operating in his element. The hero probably tries to adjust to the new conditions in an intelligent way, but the villain was just too well-prepared.

    What kind of trap are you thinking about? Where is it sprung and what brings the hero there?

    Also. You describe the two characters here as a hero and an antihero. Is the antihero the main antagonist of the piece? If so, I think it might be clearer to call him a villain even though he’s probably not purely evil.

  72. B. Macon 01 May 2009 at 1:56 am

    Hello, Dean. I like your suggestion about superhero gadgets. Unfortunately, it’s 5 AM here and I have a meeting in 3 hours. I’ll try to get on that later today. (If I haven’t posted something within a day, please remind me).

  73. Davidon 01 May 2009 at 6:55 am

    one thing i would say about gadgts choose a few gadgets and keep them as is dont have unnessery gadgts that make only one conveinet appernce i think someone said batmans bad for doing this

    another thing is dont name them after your chrater aka Batbome batarang bat shark repelents as such

    what you could do is have your chrater have a heap of cool gadgets but only able to carry a cereint amount what he thinks he will need for his missions and id say not all gadgets have to be high tec or state of the art

    thats my thoughts anyways

  74. Deanon 04 May 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Hey, B. Mac. I’m just reminding you about the superhero gadgets thing like you said to do. I also have not so much of an article suggestion but an idea that’s kind of out there. I’ll explain that in a minute.

    David, thanks for your thoughts. I will keep them in mind.

    Now, I used to be good at writing stories and creating all kinds of things. But I’ve lost it. I’m trying to write a story, but the words aren’t coming out and I think it needs visual help for the story to make sense.

    I’ve been thinking about whether a novel or a comic book was the way to go and I have also considered a serial type of story, which would not give so much pressure on my shoulders. So, anyway…

    Some special features of DVDs have a storyboard feature that goes through the storyboard of a scene with the sound effects added, etc. I actually thought of a comic book style way but with music and effects, like a TV show. (I listen to a lot of music and I think that fits my story).

    I don’t really want to (or have the ability to) make a TV show or a movie– and I’m sure it sounds like that’s where I’m headed– but I see it as a new way of reading a story.

    It is a bit out there and I’m not quite sure where I’m headed with this. But i feel like if I just leave it to writing to show my story then I think it won’t show the story so much as tell it, if you know what I mean.

    Your answer on superhero vehicles was informative and I’d like to know your opinion on this. It does overshadow it a bit, the gadget thing, but I needed to bounce the idea off someone.

    I’m sorry if it doesn’t make sense, you (and anyone else) may have to read through it a few times to make some sense out of it and I know you’re busy. I’d appreciate whatever help you could provide.

    Thanks.

  75. B. Macon 05 May 2009 at 1:02 am

    Hello, Dean. It sounds kind of like you have a motion-comic in mind. Those are similar to comic books, but they have voices and music added. They also include minor visual effects (like pans and zooms).

    I’ve never written or pitched a motion-comic, but it seems to me that preparing one for submission would be a bit more expensive than a comic book. If you’re interested in doing a regular comic book, a publisher only needs to see five sample pages of art and possibly a cover before they decide whether to publish you. That would probably cost you $400-600 from a freelance artist. I’m not sure how you would go about pitching a motion comic specifically, but I imagine it could only be more expensive. (In addition to the regular 5 pages, you’d probably include at least one character voice and possibly an opening soundtrack).

    Is that the kind of thing you’re thinking of?

  76. B. Macon 05 May 2009 at 1:13 am

    Here are a few suggestions about gadgets.

    Stick with versatile, general tools. A hero is only impressive when he uses a gadget in an interesting and unexpected way. No one will say “wow, he had shark repellent!” But they will be impressed if your hero comes up with a clever way to apply a general tool.

    Good tools often draw on the scenery. For example, a rope-like device lets the hero work with the setting in a way he couldn’t before. A cutting tool will let the hero implement new tools out of the scenery. (A shirt + a knife = bandages or an extension cord + knife = crude electrocuting weapon).

    I recommend sticking with gadgets that are easy to understand. They don’t have to be supersexy or impressively technological.

  77. Davidon 05 May 2009 at 7:11 am

    thats what i said…more or less lol :)

  78. Benon 06 Jun 2009 at 5:16 am

    Not sure where to ask this question, so here it goes.

    I was wondering what you people think about a protagonist who kills someone.

    Is it possible for the hero of the story to have killed someone, by accident; or do you think that murder is a line that should never be crossed by a hero.

    I’m of the belief that killing someone is a definite no-no, but thought I’d ask.

    The reason is that I had a character accidentally kill a security guard when his powers first manifested.

    I am thinking that perhaps it would be better for the hero to only seriously wound the security guard rather than kill him. This thought led me to this question (obviously).

    So what do you think? Can a hero in a superhero novel ever kill someone and still be sympathetic? Things are different for sci-fi and fantasy novels, I’m sure, but superhero novels are supposed to be a little closer to our society.

  79. Mr. Briton 06 Jun 2009 at 5:41 am

    If it’s presented as an accident and your character is suitably remorseful and regretful it should be very easy to maintain sympathy for him. It could even earn him more as it highlights how dangerous his new powers could be to those he loves. You could also use it to fuel his actions later in the story. For example, he doesn’t want more innocent people to die because of people with powers or he is much less likely to take risks in case he kills again.

    What you definately don’t want to do is have him kill recklessly or show pleasure or complancy when he does kill him. Psycopathic killers are rarey sympathetic although I don’t get the feeling this is the route you’re going down so there shouldn’t be any problems.

  80. B. Macon 06 Jun 2009 at 9:29 am

    You can sell readers on a murder. For example, if the police cannot prove that the supervillain is about to blow up a city, and the hero’s evidence is inadmissible in court, then I think that murdering the supervillain might seem reasonable. The hero would probably retain his likability if it was clear that he was reluctant to do so and that he had exhausted all other options. In contrast, characters like the Punisher usually come off as psychopaths.



    Accidentally killing someone is fine, but it raises wangst issues. The problem isn’t so much the act of killing (which he had no control over), but what this means for the character down the line. If he’s going to feel guilty/remorseful/sad/worried about the accident, that will probably put off readers. Your readers will probably feel that he is not responsible; he will probably feel that he is. This disconnect usually annoys readers. “Goddamn it, stop crying about something that was totally beyond your control!”

    If you’d like to give him something to feel guilty/reflective/sad about, I’d recommend making it something that says more about his choices. Killing someone intentionally says much more about a character than an accidental killing.



    I think it would help to have him seriously wound the guard instead of killing him.

  81. Benon 06 Jun 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Wangst is a definite danger, I agree.

    The story is about a group of teens who are the grandchildren of supervillains from the 1960s. The idea is to see what happens when young impressionable ‘supers’ are guided towards a career in villainy instead of heroics (like the X-Men etc).

    The main character becomes a hero while some of the others do embrace the villain side of things. I think that if I did have him kill someone, even accidentally it would end up being wangsty (and wanky). I think I will stick with an injury. Thanks BMac and Mr Brit. And I am planning on him being reluctant to use his powers and rely more on outwitting the bad guys with his brains.

    I’ll keep you informed. Thanks for the feedback – very quick.

  82. Sandmanon 07 Jun 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Hmm… For an excellent example of how to make a character sympathetic I’d recommend “I’m not a serial killer” by Dan Wells. The main character is a socipath, but is really likable as he makes an active effort not to hurt people, and even goes out of his way to make several rules to reduce the likelyhood of him becoming a serial killer.

  83. Benon 09 Jun 2009 at 1:42 am

    Okay, I’ve taken your recommendation and bought a copy of Wells’ book today. Should make for some interesting reading – I like the angle that he has to embrace his ‘serial killer side’ to fight a horde of demon invaders.

    Thanks Sandman!

  84. RPG-92on 19 Jul 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I actually want to write a tv show, not a comic book, but this still helps. It’s been my dream since I was in the 6th grade (I’m now 17) and I haven’t just been making ideas– I’ve also been changing the hero and his powers, not to mention his family and friends. Hopefully you will all see my hero on tv in two years. Good luck to anyone else who is creating their own.

  85. Tomon 20 Jul 2009 at 3:03 am

    Hello RPG, you’re not the first to come here with a TV show in mind. There’s only been one other person though… me! :)

    Would you like a review forum? B. Mac will be happy to set one up for you.

  86. B. Macon 20 Jul 2009 at 4:26 am

    Yeah, I can set up a review forum if you’d like to discuss your plot and characters, etc. However, I’m not all that well-versed in the art of pitching a TV show, as Tom can probably attest. ;-) Good luck getting it on the air in 2 years. That sounds quite ambitious.

  87. XoXoPhyreon 26 Jul 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Hey guys. So, just an update: I’m still working on my hero team novel and I came up with an idea on how to introduce my characters without it becoming overwhelming. I have ten heroes who are recruited to be apart of the ALPHA program (I’m still using the acronym Cadet Davis made up for me). I’m going to have the novel deal with how the characters deal with working with people they don’t know. I want them to be people first, heroes second. As for origins, I have one for each hero but I won’t explain them all. I want to have a series of novels and in time each characters origin will be revealed. As for the characters id like to know what you think about them and if they fit.

    Grivitic (Team Leader)-Can manipulate gravity. Some interesting ways he can use his powers are being able to fly; he can create force fields; force bolts; and he can increase the gravity of his punches, making them stronger. He’s kind of uptight and bossy, taking his title to his head.

    Pyra-Creation and manipulation of fire/telepathy. The teams resident telepath, I also wanted her to have offensive abilities. Her telepathic abilities only allow her to read minds, project her thoughts, and sense people she already knows. Her fire abilities allow her to fly, throw fireballs, streams of fire, etc. She’s what I like to call “the not-so-girly-girl”. Definitely strong and independent, but girly.

    Thunderbot-Basically, Ironman with electricity upgrades. He’s a genius and actually starts out as an ALPHA scientist, until he proves he can be a hero as well.

    Onyx-Shadow manipulation. He can teleport from shadow to shadow, absorb like, create shadow whip-like weapons, and become intangible. Onyx was once a villain but converted to a hero. He has to deal with some of the teammates not completely trusting him.

    Ultra Atom-His body creates a form of unknown energy, which he can project from his body. He can also absorb and immediate redirect other forms of energy that hit him, as long as he’s conscious of the attack. Ultra Atom is a single father, and the only black member on the team. He’s unsure how he feels about being on a government team and also has feelings for Pyra, who’s white.

    Videll-Alien sorceress. She has a wide array of magical abilities but her biggest weakness is her inexperience. She thinks she’s better then the “human” members of her team and becomes somewhat distant from them.

    Quickstrike-Super speedster. His body generates kinetic energy as he runs which he can fire as concussive blast. The youngest member of the team, Quickstrike has a small inferiority complex and is constantly trying to prove himself.

    Feline-The only member without superpowers, besides Thunderbot, Feline uses her honed skills and an assortment of gadgets to fight crime. Staying away from the femme fatal personality, Feline is more like a female Batman. She’s a loner, rugged and dangerous.

    Roxy-Can turn her skin and hair into an organic rock-like substance. She gains super strength and enhanced durability. Roxy loves to fight and is definitely a powerhouse. She’s a tomboy and practical jokester.

    Lastly, Hornette-Has natural insect wings and can fire bio-electrical blast. She also wears googles modeled after insect eyes that widen her vision to a 240° arc. She’s more shy and reserved, and the newest to the superhero gig.

    Id like to know what you all think about my characters and please, feedback is always welcome.

  88. Nic_Ton 27 Jul 2009 at 5:34 pm

    @XoXoPhyre.. your characters sound awesome, i can’t wait to read your story

  89. XoXoPhyreon 27 Jul 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks so much. I didn’t know that the name Quickstrike was taken. I’ll look into it to make sure I’m ok. As for Videll, I was thinking of having a Jean Grey/Phoenix story. Videll is the princess of her alien race and uses they’re magic. What do you think of the idea that if she loses control she could become an evil entity? Not a phoenix, something specific to her race’s history.

  90. Nic_Ton 28 Jul 2009 at 3:12 pm

    not necessarily… xoxophyre, do you mind elaborating on what exactly you plan to do with Videll

  91. XoXoPhyreon 28 Jul 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Sure. She originally comes to earth after her father, King Varkill, lets loose a powerful monster on Earth in an attempt to conquer it. Videll goes to earth to stop the beast and, with the help of ALPHA, succeeds. She also warns the team about Varkill’s impending invasion, which is the big climax of my first story. When Varkill is defeated, he reveals to Videll that she will cause the destruction of earth since she is destined to become her species’ Goddess of Chaos. He says she will be driven mad with power, mad with the human race, and ultimately mad with herself. So her story is about trying to stay in control of her powers and relate more to humans. She constantly scared of overexerting herself because she now knows what she’s to become.

  92. XoXoPhyreon 29 Jul 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Really? Hmmm. Any advice then? The story is still in the works so I’m open to any suggestions.

  93. Nic_Ton 31 Jul 2009 at 10:07 pm

    how about some back story first like having a reason for the alien/human interaction. Why does King Varkill know of earth? What would make him want to destroy it/

  94. XoXoPhyreon 04 Aug 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Ok, after brainstorming a bit, I came up with another backstory for Videll. Still an alien princess, she comes to earth as a warrior looking to conquer earth. She befriends my other heroes and decides to disobey her orders and become a hero. Her father, the king, becomes angry with her (obviously) and come to earth to do what she didn’t and bring Videll back to their planet.

  95. Nic_Ton 05 Aug 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I like that

  96. XoXoPhyreon 05 Aug 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Thanks =)

  97. RPG-92on 11 Aug 2009 at 9:54 am

    I’d tell you guys, but I feel like someone is going to steal it. So when I get it copyrighted (cause I’m in Mexico and I can’t copyright it over here. Mostly because I lived in a small town) I’d like to discuss it here.

  98. B. Macon 11 Aug 2009 at 3:34 pm

    RPG, if you’d feel more comfortable speaking through e-mail, I can be reached at superheronation[at]gmail[dot]com.

  99. Lukeon 26 Aug 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Do comics follow a three act structure like films and T.V shows?

  100. B. Macon 26 Aug 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I’ve never seen a comic book script divided into acts. I think it’d be a sort of awkward structure for a comic book script (which is usually ~24-32 pages).

  101. Ragged Boyon 26 Aug 2009 at 2:55 pm

    What’s up, B. Mac? I missed ya, man. How have you been? What going on in The B. Mac-iverse?

  102. B. Macon 26 Aug 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I’m doing well, thank you. I’m getting my 5 pages ready so that I can send off to my artist (hopefully next month– cross your fingers). In particular, what do you think about these two pages here?

    I think I’ll have your article posted later today.

  103. michael9246on 04 Sep 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I am in the process of writing a screenplay/novel with my bet friend loosely based and overly exaggerated from facets of our own life. (and yes there are super-powers of sorts)

    as we write, we constantly fall into the trap of keeping our story “unique”. and not a rehash of explored stories with modified names. we dont want “genetic manipulation”, “government agencies” or “super soldier programs”

    many of the concepts I read about here, though interesting, are complete knock-offs. To a degree, everything has been done…I get that. but more than half the ideas on here sound like things I have read/seen before.

    my question is: do you think it is easier to gain reader acceptance by following an already layed out formula? Are new ideas not only harder to invent, but also harder to accept?
    does the public just want MORE of what they already know and like?

  104. Lighting Manon 04 Sep 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Wow, very dismissive and confident there. Mary Sues are also a fairly well examined facet of fiction, see Twilight, for instance, and turning yourself and a friend into superheroes is never going to be as interesting to other people as it is to you, just something to keep in mind. A rounded character cannot exist without having corners to be rounded off.

    I can guarantee you that if your work is in a language known to man, contains sentient creatures and is capable of being communicated in a written work, intended to be adapted into a film or not, it will not be nearly as revolutionary or original as you think. With the exception of a few bad habits, all those elements you hate about popular culture are popular because they’re what works. B. Mac’s offered instructions on creating Comparable Works sections because every work is going to have something comparable to it, yes, even what you’re working on, and something that doesn’t isn’t going to be worth reading/watching because it will be a random assortment of small phrases relating to Zebras, except, y’know, books like that have been published.

    Writers and artists, as a species, are billions of monkeys trapped in rooms with typewriters, learning from the previous generation monkeys and their own, how to better write Shakespeare, and when you reject that history, you insult every single written word or crafted image in existence. Your ideas are new to you because you haven’t encountered them from whomever came across them before you.

  105. Lighting Manon 04 Sep 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Erm, I meant “previous generations of” My bad.

  106. Wingson 04 Sep 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Let the boy speak, Lighting Man. He amuses me.

    So tell me, michael9246, which of us wrote these “complete knockoffs” of which you speak? After all, I am a writer who tries to keep things original.

    And what is your “unique story”? Perhaps we can show you the context some of your ideas may have come from. Although I am not accusing you of taking all your ideas from published works as you are us, please, enlighten me.

    And lastly, if you find your story so “unique” and therefore good already, why, pray tell, did you come here? For this is a writing help site, not a site where we shoot veiled insults at the other users.

    - Wings

    Wings Note: Tom, Marissa, B. Mac, perhaps it was not my place to say the above, so I apologize in case. I simply felt that it needed to be said and that someone had to say it. My apologies.

    Marissa here: This is fine. It did need to be said, most definitely.

  107. Foxon 04 Sep 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Michael, here’s a tip: when you’re first coming onto a site, try really hard not to seem arrogant, and don’t insult the works of the site. You’re going to get burned hard.

    Anyway.

    Even if they’re loosely based on your life, it’s still considered a self-insertion, which is a really bad idea. If this is just for fun, go absolutely nuts in the self-insertions, Mary Sues, and randomness. If it’s not, um, you’re doing it wrong.

    It’s really hard to keep something unique. I remember reading in a “tips for writers” sort of book that everything has been done before. No matter how novel your novel is, (ba-dum phish) its core concept has probably been explored before. The things you read on here sound similar because all superhero stories, at its core, are very similar. Extraordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations. There’s only so many origin stories, origins for powers, gadgets, abilities, and character concepts out there, and when you really get into a specific genre, everything seems really specific.

    Take the medieval fantasy genre, for example. It focuses mostly on elves, humans, dwarves, dragons, and adventurers. Everything seems the same.

    I could go on for a long time, but I’m done.

    Good luck,

    Fox

  108. Marissaon 04 Sep 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Michael, (Or would you prefer I forsake punctuation and lower-case your proper-noun name like you do?)

    A novel is made up of a compilation of parts. Character, plot, setting… Each of those parts has parts. There are only a certain number of ways that you can combine those parts, even less if you’ve got specifics in mind (I.E. a superhero story). Our job as a writer is to combine those parts in a way that engages the reader, in a way that feels fresh, or close enough to fresh that it’s an entertaining read. A ‘knockoff’ or copy is what happens when two many of the parts are the same as the parts of another similar work.

    In summary, it is absolutely impossible to be completely unique.

    For example, I could link you to five to ten thousand stories where the author ‘is in the process of writing a novel with my best friend loosely based and ovly exaggerated from facets of our own life.’ At least two thousand of those include superpowers. Bad news, bud: Your concept is probably one of the least original on the market. However, I’m unable to link you to a book actually on the market that fits those criteria. Why? Because those sorts of stories are never publishable. They are called ‘self-inserts’. Have you ever walked into a conversation where everyone around you is just rattling off inside joke after inside joke? That’s what your story will be like to everyone but yourself and your friend (albeit with much worse grammar and punctuation). The only people that will care about a self-insert story are those who are actually in it.

    That being said, while my concept is not posted on Superhero Nation, I genuinely take offense to the ‘knock-offs’ comment. ‘Though interesting, are complete knock-offs’, you call our work. For one thing, yours is both a knock-off and undoubtedly distinctly un-interesting. For another, the people who come to SN with their work are coming to improve it. They are coming for genuine feedback on their work. Even if some are so-called ‘knock-offs’ right now, they’re improving by the day, no thanks to people like you, who say, ‘I’m writing a Mary-Sue self-insert that will only interest two people plus my mother, and that gives me the authority to tell you your stories all SUCK’. B. Mac is most definitely the authority here, and even he doesn’t say that. And last of all, I can say that 75% of Superhero Nation’s stories are engaging and original, and will end up on bookshelves before you learn to capitalize your name.

    Good day, sir.

  109. Tomon 05 Sep 2009 at 3:28 am

    “I can guarantee you that if your work is in a language known to man, contains sentient creatures and is capable of being communicated in a written work, intended to be adapted into a film or not, it will not be nearly as revolutionary or original as you think.”

    @Michael:

    See: TVTropes.org for this statement in action.

  110. Holliequon 05 Sep 2009 at 8:21 am

    @Michael;
    Like has been said, everything has been done before. You’ll really struggle to come up with a ‘unique’ concept. That said, there are ways to make something seem more original than it actually is. By mixing and matching from various stories, you can make an old concept seem fresher. “Super-soldiers” have been done to death, right? So how do you make it more original?
    Circumstances – most of the time, people are forced/tricked into a super-soldier program. Let’s make these characters volunteers.
    Characters – speaking of the characters, if they volunteer they must have really bad lives, right? Let’s flip that, and make them incredibly patriotic, but with fairly comfortable lives. This changes the characters from acting for their own good, to acting for the “greater good”.
    Plot – the super-soldiers are nearly always on the “good” side somehow, even if the practise itself is considered ethnically unacceptable. Let’s flip that again. Your super-soldiers are fighting for the “bad guys”, but really believe they’re doing the right thing.

    Those are fairly simple changes, but they make the “super-soldier” concept a little different. (For the record, I’m not incredibly well-versed in the superhero genre, so I don’t know if this has been done before – it’s just an example.)

    To answer your question, I think familiar concepts will attract readers – but there has to be something that differentiates it from other works, or they probably won’t bother.

    @Lightning Man, Marissa, Wings;
    Calm down! You aren’t making yourselves look any better by immediately jumping to the defence of your stories. I realise that Micheal’s statement might be considered offensive, but that is no reason to just blatantly insult him. To quote an old phrase, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. I can virtually guarantee that if you end up getting published, somebody somewhere will say something much worse. Yes, Michael should have been more polite. I don’t think this excuses your actions though.

    I probably seem really pompous/stupid/other right now, but I think it had to be said. Sorry.

  111. Lighting Manon 05 Sep 2009 at 8:54 am

    To the best of my knowledge, Marissa and myself have shared nothing of any substance regarding our works on here thus far, effectively reducing any need to defend particular said works to Less Than Zero, a 1987 movie starring Iron Man as a dead drug addict, so that motive can’t really said to be applicable.

    There’s an old Irish saying, appropriately stated as “If you come in my house and urinate all over my toilet seat, I’m going to feed you to a freaking cat and then a devil will non-violently and non-fatally temporarily eat the cat, just to prove a point.”Personally, I don’t really see how that’s relevant, but y’know.

    It isn’t like there was a language barrier, or his post contained some sort of writing faux pas that he can’t be blamed for not understanding, he came on here, insulted almost everyone and then claimed to be writing a story about Mary Sue and superpowers teaming up to make Faulkner cry. That isn’t really something that should be ignored or dismissed with “At least he made the run-on sentences run on time.”

  112. BlueBamferGirlon 05 Sep 2009 at 9:50 am

    From my own experience, I know you should never base a character on anyone you know.
    Once for a school project I wrote a fantasy story were ever character was based on one of my friends. When they were graded, let’s just say that it wasn’t what I expected. I met with the teacher later, who told me that though the writing was good, and I quote, “The characters lacked substance and originality.” I read the story over a few times and realized she was right.
    Moral is, never base a character off real people to much, never works out.

  113. Holliequon 05 Sep 2009 at 9:55 am

    For the record, I don’t think he should be excused for saying that. I just thought that responding so aggressively was not a good thing.

    Also: whoops. I assumed you had something substiantial posted here. Sorry about that. (This is sincere, I swear. It just doesn’t come across very well via text.)

  114. B. Macon 05 Sep 2009 at 10:43 am

    Hello, Michael. I don’t see too many knockoffs here. First, a terminology issue. I think that something is a “knockoff” if it’s way too close to a particular and identifiable work. For example, I think the first Eragon book is pretty clearly a knockoff of Lord of the Rings because it tries many of the same concepts without either 1) solid execution or 2) an innovative take on those concepts.

    I don’t feel like there’s much (if any) of that going on here. For example, MAYBE you could find some superficial similarities between Ragged Boy’s Showtime work and Static Shock or Spiderman, like giving superpowers to a poor urban protagonist. But it feels like the plot and characters will unfold in a really distinct way. The similarities between, say, Whovian’s work and Spiderman or between the Superhero Nation comic and, umm, maybe Men in Black are similarly superficial. For example, the SN comic has a regular guy that gets hired by a supersecret agency, but the similarities pretty much stop there.



    On a side-note, I don’t think that origins or powers are particularly important to whether the story feels fresh or not. If you took Wolverine and gave him ice-powers instead of claws and a new origin but kept the personality and voice the same, he would still feel like a knockoff. Marvel’s Moon Knight is often thought of as a knockoff of Batman even though his origins and powers are not very similar.

    Note to everyone that’s posted, starting with Michael… I haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s comments, but it looks like a few of these comments are probably a bit too heated. Don’t get snarky! Expressing disagreements in a friendly way is a really crucial job skill for writers.

  115. michael9246on 05 Sep 2009 at 11:13 am

    well, first let me say, I had not intended to specifically offend anyone. I was really just making a general observation on “concepts” discussed here. not works your work as a whole. (Please re-read what I wrote).

    If anyone felt they or their work was attacked, well, that’s for you and your therapist to explore.

    It was my intention when I wrote my post, that it was obvious that I was including myself in my statements and observations. Aren’t we all in the same boat?

    Jeez-I have no idea what I am doing…but I do know that there is a world of influence out there. And I do know from working in a creative industry that it is beyond pervasive.

    I am just caught up wondering about how to deal with this. Does full on originality alienate people? How do I embrace or ignore this?

    I thought I would explore the question. Many people on this site seem to embrace the familiar. To me this seemed obvious, as sometimes the conversations about concepts even include references to characters, events and plots from well established storylines. (Sorry but I don’t have the time to comb through and give examples).

    I did take note that, though I barely even articulated what my own story was about, (really the most basic of concepts at this point) it really didn’t stop some of you from telling me how unoriginal I am, and how much I suck.

    Ok, yell at me and tell me I am unoriginal and boring. Guess what? I know! Everytime I have an idea it reminds me of something else! Doesn’t that happen to you too? I’d rather hear it here and now, than after I try to get my work published.

    I was trying to provoke a dialogue. Would someone out there with the same thoughts and self-doubts about the origin of their ideas share how they felt about the issue? Does anyone have enough self doubt to just say “yeah..I know, tell me about it. I feel this way too…now lets talk about the reality how I personally go about dealing with this..”

    So again, I do apologize. I had assumed that most creative people had thicker skin.

    For all of you that will be published, I commend you. And for much of the insight I gained from a few of you, thanks as well. There were alot of interesting tidbits shared here that I will definitely think about.

    If anyone would still like to talk about this, I am open if you are. Some raw and gritty truths about keeping things original would be really helpful.

  116. Marissaon 05 Sep 2009 at 11:42 am

    Holliequ: As I said to him, my story isn’t even up here, so I’m not defensive about anything. I just found his attitude ridiculous, and if he walks in here with that attitude on Day 1, he needs a few facts of life pointed out. (Oh hey, Lightning Man pointed that out for me. Shame on me, for replying as I go along.

    B. Mac: Fff, wasn’t heated, I just laid out facts.

    Michael: None of us were aware that you included yourself. We felt that you were just walking in and saying, ‘Your stories are all ripoffs but my self-insert is GOLD’, which didn’t offend people just in reference to their original work, but in reference to all writing anywhere. We wouldn’t have criticised your work so harshly if we didn’t feel that you’d put yourself above the rest of us. However, it appears that this isn’t what you meant. (And you said to re-read your last post, but but I read it carefully the first time.) I withdraw maybe a paragraph of my last post, in exchange for you trying to come off less insulting now on, deal? =]

  117. Ghoston 05 Sep 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Michael,
    Okay, So up to this point I have chosen to stay out of this “discussion”, but if you would like to some advice about your story I would be glad to help. As far as self doubt, I think that alot of people have it and it can be a good thing to doubt whether an idea you have for a story is a good, because mostly you will have to invest a massive amount of time in actually getting it published. Also, everyone copies someone else in some small way. West side story, for instance, is a modern copy of Romeo and Juliet, which is a copy of The Tragic History Of Romeo and Juliet, which also was copied from an italian poet known as Bandello. Of course, all of these stories are similar to Tristan And Isolde, which is thought to be the basis for the the Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere love triangle. So all stories can seem like copies of other stories. The key is to add layers of plot on top of the basic premise, forbidden love, to make it new and interesting.
    Like I said, if you want help just ask, and try to make your questions specific as this lead to less misinterpertation.

  118. BlueBamferGirlon 05 Sep 2009 at 2:03 pm

    michael
    Personally, I think people like concepts they’re familiar with; they are easier to understand and/or more relatable. However it is not good to use the same concept word for word from another artist. Not only is it legally wrong, but it will also make your audience think you are lazy or incapable of your own ideas.
    What I think is best is to find a place in-between; take West Side Story (hope you don’t mind my using your example Ghost), almost everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet. But by adding new elements to the story they made it relatable but interesting to the audience.

  119. Lighting Manon 05 Sep 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I understand the importance of being friendly, but quite frankly, your apology was almost as insulting as your original post, and I think you knew that, you haven’t really apologized or acknowledged what you did wrong, you told us how we were wrong. We took offense to your post because we can’t read, we aren’t as thick skinned as you think we should be.

    “I had not intended to specifically offend anyone. I was really just making a general observation on “concepts” discussed here.”

    Perhaps this falls in line with other basic flaws in your English usage, but this reads as if you meant to offend in general, which is always an admirable goal.

    Doh! I meant the other thing, y’know, reprehensible.

    “If anyone felt they or their work was attacked, well, that’s for you and your therapist to explore.”

    “I am just caught up wondering about how to deal with this. Does full on originality alientate people? how do I embrace or ignore this?” “I thought I would explore the question. Many people on this site seem to embrace the familiar. “

    There is no such thing as full-on originality in the modern world if your narrative makes any sort of sense, and if it doesn’t, then it is still going to be similar to another work. There’s an entire genre of surrealist works, and existentialist works. All authors in this modern age are just playing with bricks, reassembling them into new stories using the same old pieces, the quality comes from the talent and skill of the author, because it is that skill and talent that allows them to construct things that we’ve never seen that way before. But whatever the case is, originality will never emerge in the concepts, it will be in the story as it is told. You are never going to strike upon a concept that doesn’t have something comparable to it.

    However, I will say that people do take comfort in the jubilation of repetition, the stories they know the formula of and the works that surprise them without leaving those reliable and incomparable confines of that formula. It is my opinion they enjoy this, and I know it is true in my case, because it is an assurance of quality. I know when I pick up an issue of Spider-Man that even if the story is dumb, the art is terrible, there will be a fight scene and there will be a cliffhanger, no matter how mundane it is.

    “So again, I do apologize. I had assumed that most creative people had thicker skin.”

    I could have bulletproof skin, but I was worried I’d be too derivative and you’d have to apologize again, then you might accidentally turn into Wolverine, by weaseling out of apologizing too often.

  120. Marissaon 05 Sep 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Lighting Man,
    B. Mac has spoken. We’re done, alright? :)
    I didn’t notice the therapist line the first time around, and that in itself is a direct attack on those whose work he insulted, but we’ll just have to sit back and be patient. Either he learns to talk to people like a normal human being, or B. Mac is going to get tired of his underhanded insults and is going to ask him to leave.

  121. Tomon 05 Sep 2009 at 3:48 pm

    I think… you’re all kinda taking this a bit too far. He didn’t say anything horribly insulting. He never explicitly stated ‘everything I write is better than what you write’. I think we should just drop everything now and hear what the guy has to say.

  122. Ghoston 05 Sep 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Where is B. Mac, the Supreme Arbiter, when he is needed

  123. Marissaon 05 Sep 2009 at 4:05 pm

    My point exactly, Tom. =]

    And B. Mac has a job. He doesn’t exist just to silence the squabbling. Hahah

  124. Lighting Manon 05 Sep 2009 at 5:36 pm

    My bad, again, I went too far with the negativity in my response and I apologize, I tried to equal it out by focusing more on his question but I ran out of things to say a lot quicker then expected and didn’t adjust for it, it was a mistake and the post was uneven. I am sorry. The whole your-sorry apologies are a pet peeve of mine and it set me off and I’ll just avoid responding to posts that anger me in the future.

  125. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Sep 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Wow, I missed out on one heck of a fight, huh? Haha. Well, glad to see it’s resolved, and that it didn’t get as bad as that one time with the person who kept asking about the Hulk. Man, she had a mouth on her!

    So, anyway, I’m glad to see that it’s over and we’re all happy again with no flame wars.

    Michael: “If anyone felt they or their work was attacked, well, that’s for you and your therapist to explore.”

    Therapist? I can’t afford that! Nah, I’ll just set up a blog and rant about it there! Haha. Nah, I read the posts and I’m pretty much neutral to the entire thing.

    I didn’t feel attacked; I’ve been flamed really badly before (and even led a battle against a jerk who was flaming half the stories on a site with stuff like “u suk u’ll neva get publixed”, getting her kicked off by organising a mass complaint against her to the admin. Really, we didn’t need the bull and she offered no help at all) My skin’s pretty thick. But why am I still afraid of needles? Hmm, ’tis a paradox. Haha.

    Marissa:

    “And B. Mac has a job. He doesn’t exist just to silence the squabbling.”

    Yeah, but he still gets the title of B. Mac, Almighty Squabble Silencer! That has a nice ring to it, actually. But I doubt anyone could say it quickly and get it right. Try it! I can’t do it right.

    Hmm, Squabble would be a good name for a parrot. Sorry, must not go off on a tangent! Haha.

    And finally, welcome to SN, Michael.

  126. B. Macon 06 Sep 2009 at 8:53 am

    Marissa said… “or B. Mac is going to get tired of [him] and is going to ask him to leave.” Haha. I don’t ask anyone to leave. I drop the ban-hammer.

    That said, I don’t feel like I was especially close to banning anyone here… the main issue feels more like inarticulateness rather than nastiness. However, in the future, Michael, I think people will be a lot more receptive if you draw on specific examples rather than criticizing broadly without citing examples.

  127. Marissaon 06 Sep 2009 at 4:15 pm

    To B. Mac:

    That is very true, you and your ban-hammer. However, it seems a few ban-hammered folks are slipping through the cracks lately?

  128. B. Macon 07 Sep 2009 at 8:24 am

    There was a weird case. I had banned Dallas last year and he came back very recently. (My theory is that he looked for similar sites and came back here after they banned him, too). Other than that, I think all the bans are sticking.

    My response time may be down a bit, though. For example, it took me 12 hours to ban Polaris. Three months ago, I probably would have handled that in under an hour.

  129. B. Macon 07 Sep 2009 at 8:48 am

    Around a year ago, he got really obnoxious with people that were trying to help him. I banned him because he was hard to work with and didn’t have the attitude to succeed as a writer. (Rule one: don’t get defensive!). Having seen his writing a year later, I am confident that there is nothing we could have done to help him.

  130. Marissaon 28 Sep 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Oh, and since we’re on the topic of mind-numbing idiocy, have you guys heard about Ryan Reynolds? How he’s both Wade Wilson and the Green Lantern? I just found that out today.

  131. Lighting Manon 28 Sep 2009 at 7:45 pm

    I’m really excited about it, he’s an awesome actor, best thing in Wolverine, Blade: Trinity, and fifty billion terrible but hilarious because of him romantic comedies. I don’t even like Hal Jordan as a character and I’m really looking forward to Green Lantern. If all goes right, he won’t even show his real face in Deadpool, so it won’t be too distracting.

    Plus, Two Guys And a Girl was one of the best sitcoms ever.

  132. Marissaon 28 Sep 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I agree that he’s amazing, but one or the other. The Deadpool movie I heard was gonna be from pre-Wolverine and then after Wolverine, so he’d have his face showing for sure. Not sure if that’s 100% true, I heard it from a friend, but… yeah.

  133. Wingson 28 Sep 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Somehow I think I missed something…Ah well.

    - Wings, the proud new owner of a handmade L plushie ((It took two weeks, and I am extremely pleased))

  134. Tomon 29 Sep 2009 at 9:01 am

    I heard Reynolds might have to drop one of the films because filming might be too hectic. I hope that doesn’t happen, I love Deadpool and DC needs to give more movie attention to heroes that aren’t Batman and Superman.

  135. Moondragon007on 01 Oct 2009 at 1:20 pm

    “Most main heroes fall into one of six archetypes: the tank (like the Hulk), the gymnast (Spiderman or Flash), the mage (Dr. Strange), the psychic (Invisible Woman), the gadgeteer (Batman) and the elementalist (Human Torch or Captain Atom). I think it’s easiest to write a tank or gymnast, but it really depends on which story you want to write. If you want a high-fantasy story, mages will probably work better. Gadgeteer stories usually feel a bit more believable, psychics lend themselves nicely to fantastical science fiction (or perhaps high fantasy), and I think elementalists are particularly well-suited for comic-books and novels aimed at younger readers. ”

    In Mutant-X, the powers fall into four catagories: Elemental, Feral, Mental (or Psy, I forget which name they use), and Molecular. Elemental and mental are pretty much self-explanatory. Feral is animal-like powers – enhanced senses, enhanced strength, enhanced dexterity, and the like. Molecular is explained as having to do with the molecular structure of things, but it’s really a kind of catch-all catagory for anything that doesn’t fit any of the other three.

  136. Moondragon007on 01 Oct 2009 at 1:29 pm

    “# Armondon 21 Aug 2008 at 8:41 pm
    I’m trying to design a female character, but I don’t want her to be a damsel in distress. Can anyone help me?”

    My suggestion is to get a female friend to beta-read your draft and critique it. She would be able to tell you where the character doesn’t ring true.

  137. Moondragon007on 01 Oct 2009 at 1:43 pm

    “Could you help me with an acronym for the word ALPHA? I’ve made several attempts but they all sound campy.”

    lol, there’s a no-kill haven for homeless dogs here outside Bakersfield called ALPHA Canine Sanctuary. ALPHA is an acronym, but I don’t know what it stands for.

    http://www.alphacanine.org/

  138. BlaqueSaberon 11 Oct 2009 at 7:55 am

    Do you have any advice geared toward writing an audio drama or podcast? Like the old radio serials of yesteryear?

  139. B. Macon 11 Oct 2009 at 9:48 am

    Probably nothing that would help you very much, BlaqueSaber. Here’s what I’m thinking of.

    –I’d recommend a balance between voice, sound effects and maybe mood music. Obviously, you’ll probably use voice most often, but I would recommend looking at each scene for opportunities to use sounds (and occasionally music) to draw the audience in. For example, a fight with a wolf really needs a variety of wolf sounds (growling, snarling, gnashing teeth, whimpers for when he’s defeated, etc).

    –I would recommend focusing less on combat and more on character development and drama. Alternately, if you would really like to do action, I think that Hitchcockian suspense would work more effectively than a beat-em-up. I don’t think that your medium can handle brawls as well as a movie or comic book can.
    –You may have to write characters narrating what they’re doing. Readers will expect and accept that to some extent, but just don’t overdo it. Also, try to make it as unobvious as possible that you’re having a character speak just to point out to the listener what is going on. I’d recommend just trying to keep the dialogue somewhat natural– if you couldn’t imagine a person actually saying the lines in real-life, then it’s probably too forced. BAD: “Haha! Now that I’ve grabbed your purse, I’m rich!” BETTER: “Stop, thief!”

    –What do you think about narrators? If you don’t use a narrator, I would recommend leaving the protagonist alone as little as possible. If the character is alone, it would be very difficult to have a scene (unless he’s just going to talk to himself the entire time). In contrast, if you have a narrator, you could probably do a suspenseful action scene (like the protagonist trying to break into a vault without setting off the alarms).

  140. BlaqueSaberon 11 Oct 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you so much for replying!

    Can you give me a link that points out what you mean by “Hitchcockian suspense”? I of course know who Hitchcock is, I’m just not sure of the flavor of suspense that you’re talking about…

    Also

    I don’t plan on leaving the protag alone too often (I want to minimize the use of narration) but he will be alone. What do you think of him creating an audio recording journal? Much like Jon Creighton in the beginning of Farscape? My protag is far from home as well so this fits as far as story goes.

    If I chose this do you think I could use this storytelling tool for a half dozen epps until I can come up with a supporting cast for him to talk with?

    Thank you so much for replying and your helpful thoughts…

  141. B. Macon 11 Oct 2009 at 2:27 pm

    “If I chose this do you think I could use this storytelling tool for a half dozen epps until I can come up with a supporting cast for him to talk with?” Personally, I think my interest would wane a lot more quickly than six episodes without any other castmates to talk with. I understand that there might be logistical concerns to bringing in new characters (like the difficulty of finding voice actors), but I think it would really help to bring in at least one by episode 2. (How long are your episodes, by the way?) Otherwise, I fear that it will feel like just an extended monologue.

    If you’re really attached to the audio-recording journal setup, maybe you could have him play back a tape of a recorded conversation.

    Hitchcock was sometimes called the Master of Suspense. He was expert at setting up quiet tension, scenes that were scary even though we couldn’t see the threat. Likewise, the first half of Signs did that very well. We don’t see the aliens, but we see some pieces and we have to surmise what else is going on. (For example, the family leaves its dog outside and we hear it barking, then whimpering in fear, and then nothing). The movie went totally downhill after the characters confronted the aliens face-to-face.

  142. BlaqueSaberon 11 Oct 2009 at 9:27 pm

    No, I have other characters, several and plenty of voice actors, i just don’t have a character that will ALWAYS be with the protag such as Robin is nearly always with Batman.

    I don’t really want to have a side kick or assistant, I guess I just really need to tie this down a bit more before I move forward on it.

    Thank you for all your advice…

  143. Vanon 09 Jan 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I find that many who write superhero novels make the same mistake that television studios make when trying to produce superhero TV shows: They dumb the material down, revert to cliches, camp it up, and make it all generally unlikeable.

    I don’t know why superhero novels can’t be more like actual superhero comics. In other words, not dumbed down and more serious. For example:

    http://www.whiterocketbooks.com/sentinels/index.htm

  144. B. Macon 09 Jan 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Hmm. I’m not familiar with the Sentinels series yet, but here are a few opening impressions.

    –I’d like to take it seriously, but the picture of the girl with the see-through clothes and preposterously large breasts makes it a bit harder for me to do so.

    –The costumes strike me as a bit dated and gawdy. Like the shirts split into multiple colors at arbitrary points, etc. It makes the lineup look weird. Still, it probably doesn’t matter too much, because the comics themselves are black-and-white, I think.

    –The execution on the graphics work (like the shading and anatomy) generally look professional. Some of the backgrounds are very uneven, though.

    –I like a lot of the poses and layouts. For example, this panel of a guy directing his troops to fire at the heroes makes no sense whatsoever, but is still pretty stylish. I love the expression.

    –I haven’t gotten into the writing yet, but some of what I’ve seen looks encouraging. Also… Ron Fortier, one of the authors that endorsed the series, strikes me as a writer that generally knows what’s going on. Also, anyone that has written for Rambo and Terminator commands my respect. ;-)

  145. michaelon 20 Jan 2010 at 7:15 am

    Hi,

    I’ve got my own web comic here:

    http://komodo-comic.blogspot.com/

    and in that blog, you can see my artwork
    samples, such as pin ups and one page
    comic panel.

    and this is my artworks in realism style:

    http://angelmichael.deviantart.com/gallery/

    contact me if you overload & need more
    freelancer comic artist (^_^)

    thanks

  146. B. Macon 20 Jan 2010 at 8:53 am

    Hmm, thanks for your interest, Michael. I’ll check out your portfolio, but I doubt I’ll be adding on new teammates soon. Definitely not before getting published, which will take at least a few months.

  147. Shellon 25 Feb 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Hi, guys. I could really use your help with some brainstorming because I’m having a bit of “writers’ overload.” My characters are not superheroes per se, but they’re involved in a scientific mutation that seems to be very prevalent in superhero/villain back stories, so I thought you might have some insight as to how those type of things are generally handled.
    I have some stem cell scientists that become giants via a lab accident, but I’m having trouble coming up with ways for their professional backgrounds to manifest in their giant lives…because I don’t have the life of a scientist. Besides being a miraculous specimen of regenerative research unto himself, what venues could there be for a giant medical scientist to continue practice (preferably among the people)? Depending on what it is, it may have a great impact on their reasons for wanting to remain giants instead of taking the cure they’ve been longing for since the accident. So, in short, my question is: How can I incorporate their science careers into their activities as giants, directly or indirectly– even on the run?

    Any other relevant insight unto the subject matter is also very welcome.

    Thanks so much!

  148. B. Macon 26 Feb 2010 at 1:23 am

    Perhaps being a giant affects their physiology in some much-appreciated way. For example, if they’re really go-getters, maybe they really like that suddenly they don’t have to sleep or something. Or maybe one of them was disabled or otherwise felt inadequate about his body. Maybe one felt like a total wallflower and sort of hated being a nobody. Maybe one of them was freakishly short (dwarfish).



    “It may have a great impact on their reasons for wanting to remain giants instead of taking the cure they’ve been longing for since the accident.” Ouch, good luck with that. I’m having trouble coming up reasons why someone would want to remain a giant rather than return to a normal height. What would they gain by being 20+ feet tall? There would be considerable costs, like being unable to go into most buildings. Any sort of social outings with their old friends would be at best extremely awkward. The only thing I can think of (besides them being REALLY dissatisfied with the way things were before) is that perhaps the cure is extremely dangerous.

    I’m not sure how giants would practice medicine with regular people. The only thing I can think of is that giants MAY be better-suited for working in a disaster area, like Haiti or a war-zone or somewhere torn up by some natural catastrophe. (They could deal with rubble more easily, cover more ground by foot, and wouldn’t need to be worried about getting robbed by looters). Closer to home, I can’t think of any reason that patients would rather see them rather than their regular doctors. Perhaps they are RIDICULOUSLY good at medical practice. Or perhaps they’re willing to move to an area where people don’t have much access to good doctors? (Like an inner city, a dying town in the Rust Belt, deep in the boondocks, etc).



    Also, perhaps the giant accident somehow improves their ability to conduct research or serve as doctors in some way. For example, perhaps they only need to sleep 2-3 hours a night instead of 7-8 and now they can work that much harder at whatever it is they’re doing. I think I mentioned that before, though. I’m really drawing a blank on why a giant might be a better doctor than a regular-sized person.

  149. Shellon 26 Feb 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Thank you for your speedy reply, B. Mac. By the way, I find that I keep gravitating toward the advice on this web site, both from articles and members, so I had to join last night.

    “I’m having trouble coming up reasons why someone would want to remain a giant rather than return to a normal height.”
    That’s good feedback, to know someone could and would point that out. For brevity sake in my last question, I did leave out the fact that in place of a cure what the scientists find (with the help of smaller allies who can actually be in the lab) is that they can manipulate their state, enabling them to be size-changers…like Apache Chief. A compromise. So, the more specific question should be what they can do as size-changers (sequel), not permanent giants. To be fair, I didn’t ask that before, but I’d like to change my question based on your response, if you feel differently.

    “The only thing I can think of is that giants MAY be better-suited for working in a disaster area…”
    I have thought of that. That’s the best running idea I have, but I was just curious to see if I could do anything interesting with the scientist aspect. Which brings me to the next point…

    “I’m not sure how giants would practice medicine with regular people.”
    Well, I concur. Then perhaps that should not be my focus? It is a character-oriented story, the original intent of which was meant to be an entertaining “mad scientist” parody (making fun of the cliches rather than try to pass it off as serious or otherwise bend over backwards to reinvent the subject), via sarcasm and even optimism through the eyes of said characters. (Though, it’s not constant parody; it’s peppered by realistic struggles they’re facing [hence your Transformation article]). So I don’t feel really any loyalty to making a realistic case. Having said that, what would you say to making the situation humorous, rather than realistically applicable?
    Or, can you point me to any writing experiments other people have done with the “eccentric scientist” subject?

    “Or maybe one of them was disabled or otherwise felt inadequate about his body.”
    Hmm. Not a bad idea. A healing effect…it is regeneration, after all; that could work. I might play with that. It might give some incentive back to the “why would they want to stay/have access to being giant” issue.

    Again, thanks, B. Mac

  150. Lighting Manon 26 Feb 2010 at 1:14 pm

    If you want to get really far into it, you could expound on B. Mac’s idea of one of the giants being short, you could research genuine dwarfism, it is actually an extraordinarily painful condition, they have too big of organs and muscles, their insides don’t fit right inside their bodies.

    Perhaps your protagonist is the son of two such afflicted people, but he or she happens to be regularly sized (a common enough thing) they could have siblings afflicted as well. This could have placed a heavy weight on their shoulders, driving them to medical school, driving them to get into medical research, and then once the accident occurs, driving them to keep the form and convince the others to as well, since he could believe that a modified version might be able to cure his family’s affliction. This would also work for an antagonistic force, if you require one, since they could easily force the others to maintain their full-grown size through violence, or manipulation.

  151. B. Macon 26 Feb 2010 at 1:43 pm

    “For brevity’s sake in my last question, I did leave out the fact that in place of a cure what the scientists find (with the help of smaller allies who can actually be in the lab) is that they can manipulate their state, enabling them to be size-changers…like Apache Chief. ” Hmm, okay. If their two options are “giant all the time” and “the ability to shift between giant size and regular size,” why would anybody choose the first option? I think the choice would be more dramatic if they were giving up something to make the choice. (Then again, it’s a parody, so I think the plot is less important than whether you execute it in a funny way).

    “I was just curious to see if I could do anything interesting with the scientist aspect.” This stretches the definition of scientist quite a bit, but you could have them investigate scientifically interesting phenomena that would be better-suited to giant scientists than regular ones. For example, attacks by Godzilla-esque creatures. Of course, that would probably entail a fair bit of action. It didn’t sound like you had much action in mind.



    How tall are the giants? I assumed they were 20+ feet, which would probably be unmitigatedly awful for them. However, if they were merely 10 feet tall, I could sort of see the appeal of staying a giant even though they’d still be far too tall to fit into society comfortably. (Stairs would be a major hassle, they probably couldn’t fit into a driver’s seat, all clothes would have to be custom-made, any romantic relationships would get hilariously awkward, etc).

  152. Shellon 26 Feb 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Lightening Man:

    Thank you for the input. While I recognize the emotional value in the medical dilemma, I don’t think that’s quite my intent.

    ***

    B.Mac:

    “It didn’t sound like you had much action in mind.”
    There is, actually. Well, there is an intention for it, but I struggle with making “pursuit stories” interesting and not falling into chase-and-escape routines. That’s why I felt that parody might spice that up a bit from the mundane; I feel stuck in redundancy. Any advice on “pursuit stories” would be of great help (in any plot). Unless you think there’s some way I can work around that formula and avoid it; but I should think that if the giants are pursued by some kind of force, then it’s unrealistic.

    (Any one else feel free to comment, as well.)

    “I think the choice would be more dramatic if they were giving up something to make the choice.”
    Total agreement with you, there.

    You asked about the size of the giants. I’ve experimented with many size ranges, but when I got bored with 60-70 ft. giants being the max, I got daring for the creative exercise: my scientists become 108 ft. (18x the size of a 6-ft. human, or approx. 13 stories). So far, my conversions, not just on size change but in proximity to buildings and other objects and people, have been reasonably accurate, but no one’s going to take the time and check my math.

    ***

    As a general statement: I’m not trying to write a dissertation supporting the science and necessity of giants. But, as a writer, I do want to establish continuity within the universe of the story. If not through the science venue, then something else (of course, like you implied, B.Mac, I may need a different science). It’s more of a Gulliver’s Travels, only more entertaining and fast-paced than the satire by Jonathan Swift, and peppered by political, social, and relationship issues to give it the human experience. These are humans experiencing gianthood for the first time. As characters, I think giants have a neat perspective, especially if it’s the mind of a human in the body of a giant. The conflict between great power and great restraint.
    As to the concern “why would anyone want to be that way,” perhaps that is a better question for the villains. There was an episode of Super Friends where the League of Doom intentionally turned themselves into giants in order to overcome the League of Justice. To that end, maybe giantdom is more appealing in the hands of villains than good guys; maybe the scientists should have bad intentions, but be given opportunities to do good, which they can choose to reject until something personally affects them.

    ***

    Again, I do appreciate your time in reading my thoughts and responding to my questions. Thank you both.

  153. Shellon 26 Feb 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Sorry, correction: “I should think that if the giants are NOT pursued by some kind of force, then it’s unrealistic.”

  154. Lighting Manon 26 Feb 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I apologize, Shell, I got confused because I read the posts then got to work on reformatting my computer, so when I came back to my post, my brain thought you had asked for a reason for them to want to maintain their giant forms. My brain goes a-splodey far more then it should, and I wasn’t the slightest bit helpful.

  155. pharis of naxson 29 Mar 2010 at 11:26 pm

    I wish you would include the tips guiding one to write about the topic “my roots”

  156. B. Macon 30 Mar 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Pharis, is your prompt a school assignment? If so, your teacher is probably looking for a story or essay about your family, where they’re from, maybe why they’re in the city/country, important values or skills your family has taught you, etc.

    For example, I might do a paragraph layout like this…

    Introduction paragraph

    Body paragraph 1: why my forebears left their native countries (no jobs, persecution, no jobs, sick of potatoes).

    Body paragraph 2: what they found here (how they adjusted to life in the US).

    Body paragraph 3: what that means for me now (for example, it points out how little drama there is in my life. I’m worried about whether I’ll have a job that pays enough to cover my student debt, but their problems were so much more serious that they put a twelve year old on a boat so that she wouldn’t starve).

    Conclusion

  157. T. Murphyon 04 Apr 2010 at 5:22 pm

    B. Mac I’ve been reading through all your write ups and i have to say they are great! you seem really good at this type of stuff! i love comic books and have been trying to start up something of my own and this has really helped! your amazing keep up the good work! and id love to discuses some of my ideas so u could help me if u have the time! best wishes!

  158. B. Macon 04 Apr 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com, or you can just leave your notes in a comment. Would you like a review forum?

  159. T. Murphyon 04 Apr 2010 at 9:28 pm

    well i can write here as of now i suppose if thats easiest lol but anyways im in very early development of my comic just throwing around ideas kinda. not sure why but solarman as clique as it sounds keeps coming up in my head. i was thinking maybe he was born on a sun? not sure how to do an alien origin without making it sound to much like superman. im trying to flesh out some of his powers now also

  160. Koveon 04 Apr 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve always found it useful to try to develop the character as a person first, then delve into his traits, skills, and abilities. This really helps when I’m trying to create a hero/superhuman whose powers/abilities are uniquely suited to him. The alias or superhero name is usually the last thing I try to come up with, and after everything else you’ve created for him, it’s a piece of cake to create a unique and cool-sounding name for your new hero.

  161. B. Macon 04 Apr 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I like Solar as a prefix, but I think that it might be possible to do an ending that’s more stylish than -man. Maybe something like Solarion or Solaric or Solaru.

    As for doing an alien origin without seeming too much like Superman, I think there are a lot of alternatives to making him an alien refugee. For example, in Invincible, the aliens are (supposed to be) undercover spies trying to soften Earth’s defenses for an impending invasion. Or maybe he’s been exiled to Earth for some reason. (Why?) If he IS an alien refugee, maybe he voluntarily left as an adult, which I think would say more about him than being sent away as a child. (Why’d he choose to leave?) Maybe he’s supposed to be a representative of some alien group, clan, business or government. (Whether or not he actually acts in their interests is another matter–for example, maybe there isn’t much oversight).

    If you’re doing a comic, could I recommend making his birthplace a planet very close to a sun rather than a sun itself? I think it’d be easier for your artist to depict the surface of a planet for a setting than the surface of a sun.

  162. T. Murphyon 06 Apr 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Very true cove, and i like the idea of a planet close to the sun B. Mac now that i think about it, it makes a lot more sense. And i was thinking of maybe using solar as a prefix. Man does seem very uninspired. Maybe looking through a dictionary or something and see if i can find a good ending to use would help? not sure any ideas?

    And as for the alien refugee idea i enjoy the one about him leaving as a adult although
    i was hoping to eliminate the rest of his race to help him seem more unique but im not sure would that seem to superman?

  163. T. Murphyon 07 Apr 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I believe being the last of your race brings something new to the table. not sure why but it just seems to make your character special. For example i can not stand the storyline “new kryton” going on in superman anymore, it seem to take something important out of the last son of Kryton aspect. Anyhow any ideas to help built on my rough ideas about would be welcome!

  164. Herojockon 23 Jun 2010 at 7:21 am

    I was tempted to put this in the gadget section, but I thought it be best to ask this here. My novel is set in the future where a futuristic race is the new craze. Think formula one but combining land, air and sea (I was thinking space too, but that might be pushing the suspension of belief)

    Anyway I wanted the racing vehicle to have technology that was as realistic as possible. No anti-gravity stuff. My research led to me coming up with a mental image of a very slim speed boat that had wings and could configure it self when on the land, air and sea. Today I stumbled across Honda’s 2025 concept car and it was similar to the idea I had.

    Now my question is, are concept designs copyrighted? would I have to strictly stick to my own ideas for my novel or could I describe a vehicle similar to the one they designed?

  165. B. Macon 23 Jun 2010 at 9:38 am

    “My novel is set in the future where a futuristic race is the new craze. Think formula one but combining land, air and sea (I was thinking space too, but that might be pushing the suspension of belief)” I don’t think space would push the suspension of disbelief. However, I think that one thing you could do to make a race in space or air more interesting is to make it a test of piloting skills as much as engine power. So, for example, instead of just letting the flyers go wherever they want, set a given altitude and put them through an environment where that altitude would be really difficult. (For example, maybe a mockup of a city). In space, maybe have them do something like an asteroid belt where there will be a lot of debris to dodge.

    “Now my question is, are concept designs copyrighted?” I’m not a lawyer, but I think you’re fine here. I think it’d be a trickier situation if it were a comic book and you had to visually depict the car. Even then, identifiability may not be fatal. For example, Jennifer Government was about a dystopian future where real-world companies like Coca Cola and Starbucks assassinated rival employees and ruled the world with an iron fist, but I don’t think anybody sued the author.

  166. Jackon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:21 am

    Hello, B.Mac. I am writing a story about a superhero where his powers are that he can heal people when the sun’s up and kill people when the sun is down all by touching them!

    I want to know if his powers are too much like Rogue’s from the X-Men. It took me a while to get too a good collection of powers. And I also limited his powers a bit because if he touched someone for to long by healing them, they’ll explode!

    Also, how could I make him fight evil with his powers when he doesn’t want to kill them and he can’t use guns because he’s only 13.

  167. B. Macon 25 Jun 2010 at 9:28 am

    Quick question, Jack. Are we talking about a solo hero or somebody that works mainly on a team? If the hero mainly works alone, I think that you might have trouble letting him do much during the day. Alternately, it’d be fun to see how he handles crime in the day with just a power that doesn’t seem too useful offensively, but I’m not sure how that would work because he doesn’t seem credible as an unarmed combatant*.

    Maybe, umm, instead of just healing people, he can enhance people physically in the day. (Improved healing might be one side-effect of that). General physical enhancement would make him a bit less useless during the day. Maybe better reflexes, more mobility, maybe more strength and endurance, etc.

    “how could I make him fight evil with his powers when he doesn’t want to kill them and he can’t use guns because he’s only 13.”

    This seems like it would be a major obstacle for him to overcome, if I’m right in thinking that he kills somebody whenever he uses his power at sundown. One alternative would be that he can use his power to just knock them out, but it COULD be lethal if he’s not careful. Another obstacle would be that he only has a melee power but it doesn’t seem like he has anything super going on in the way of endurance, speed, etc. So if he’s facing guys with guns, he pretty much has to either sneak up on them from behind or surprise them from around a corner. If he gets shot, he can probably heal himself in the morning if he lasts that long, but getting shot can really ruin your night.

    I didn’t get a lot of Rogue vibes from this character, so I think you’re fine on that front. One thing that wasn’t clear to me was whether his power automatically activates whenever he touches somebody at night. I think that Rogue’s inability to turn off her power (and her resulting need to be super-careful about not casually touching people) is really distinct. If your character suffers from a similar problem, I think it would be maybe a bit too much like Rogue in that regard.

    *With sufficient training, a young teen might be somewhat believable as a melee combatant. See Hit Girl, younger versions of Robin, maybe Kim Possible, etc. If you were headed down that way, I’d recommend giving him a notable athletic background and/or a tough training regimen.

  168. Jackon 25 Jun 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks, B.Mac! I have the answers to the first question you asked – if he worked with any other superheroes. He does. One person with teleportation and one with infared vision and a begginer in witchcraft.

    I also have another question. What names could I give my superheroes? The one you know most about is also a bit dark and mysterious, a bit shy. The teleporting one is bright and friendly, mainly laughs when he kicks someone in the face. The infared one is blind, poor, and doesn’t talk much.

    (And with the second one, his powers can only work sun is pointing right at him.)

    Also, what kind of name could i give to my supervillian. His powers are to absorb a substance’s hardness, softness and weight.

    (Oh, and these guy’s powers were made from radiation.)

    Thankyou!

  169. NicKennyon 30 Jun 2010 at 8:09 am

    I’m writing about a team of superheroes who all have personal reasons for taking down the villian and I’m wondering how many should be in the team. I’ve got names and powers for all of them but I’m starting to wonder whether there’s too many characters. And then there’s the villian and his lackays, and a few others who play an important part in the story.

  170. B. Macon 30 Jun 2010 at 10:36 am

    I think it depends on a lot of factors (such as the author’s ability to establish characters quickly), but generally I’d be really worried about a first-time* author that tried to do 5+ main protagonists.

    If you’re looking at a big cast, it may help to have a core of a few main characters and then relegate the remaining characters to a more limited role, so that you don’t need to spend as much time/space developing them.

    It may also help to give the characters a mass origin rather than individual ones. (For example, maybe all the characters are mutants or were in the same chemical explosion). Mass origins help save space. If the characters have individual origins, I think it would probably be best to gloss over the origins, because novels and (particularly) comic books probably aren’t long enough to spare hundreds of words on each of several origins–see Teen Titans and this scene from The Taxman Must Die, for example.

    *Cast overload is particularly dangerous in an independent series because all of the characters are unknown to the readers and have to be developed/introduced from scratch. In contrast, major Marvel and DC characters require little introduction, so it’s usually easier for them to pull off large casts well.

  171. NicKennyon 02 Jul 2010 at 8:57 am

    Thanks. Taking info in mind. I don’t suppose you can think of any good names for a superhero team. The characters are all named but whatever team name I think of seems to be taken.

  172. B. Macon 02 Jul 2010 at 9:33 am

    –What’s the team’s personality/style like?
    –Any notable background notes?
    –Any unusual demographic traits among the members?
    –What sort of problems do they focus on?
    –How do they solve them?

    I’d definitely want a different name for a ragtag bunch of experts protecting the world from supernatural danger than, say, for a CIA hunter-killer team (or a special operations unit) or a group of tweens or an Avengers ripoff.

    For a cold and/or highly-structured team, like the CIA or special operations above, a name like Rainbow Six or Sector Nine or “The Company” might fit, but probably not for the motley band of tweens and Avengers or ragtag paranormal experts. The name needs to fit the mood of the team.


    Alternately, you could use the name to indicate your genre. The series I’m writing now is focused on a special operations unit, but I see it as a detective story with superpowers more than military action. So I stole “the Office of Special Investigations” from Homeland Security and the Air Force.



    “…Whatever team name I think of seems to be taken.”

    Which names have you come up with? (That’ll help me figure out what kind of style you’re looking for).

  173. NicKennyon 02 Jul 2010 at 11:53 am

    They’re a group of superheroes, not that dissimilar than the Avengers I guess. That type anyway. Names that have I’ve thought of that were taken were the Legion (Smallville), Team Omega (Marvel, I think, had Omega Men) and there were a couple of others that I can’t think of now. Am currently leaning towards the Guardians, although I feel that lacks… something.

  174. NicKennyon 08 Jul 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve also been wondering about their costumes, should each costume be personal or generic? Or maybe have the teams logo incorporated into it while being differant for each member. And I’ve been trying to decide what each costume is made of. Can think of several reasons against most fabrics.

  175. B. Macon 08 Jul 2010 at 2:22 pm

    A lot of series do individual costumes and a lot do team costumes (or costumes that are pretty close). I don’t think it’s a problem either way. In a comic book, one advantage of a team costume is that it leads to less color-clashing. But you might be able to get around that if the characters individually pick colors that tend to go well together and avoid loud, garish costumes. I think black, brown/tan and unsaturated blues tend to go well with pretty much everything. I think saturated greens and purples are notoriously tricky. They’re not too common among heroes that aren’t freaks and/or nonhumans.

  176. Herojockon 29 Sep 2010 at 5:18 am

    Ok I wasn’t too sure where to ask this question. Are architectural building designs copyrighted? I saw a futuristic concept building and I wanted to have my superhero HQ to have a similar exterior.

  177. B. Macon 29 Sep 2010 at 7:52 am

    “Are architectural building designs copyrighted? I saw a futuristic concept building and I wanted to have my superhero HQ to have a similar exterior.”

    My guess is yes, along the lines that you can use the Sears Tower as part of a Chicago cityscape but the image of the building by itself is copyrighted.

    I think you’d be okay if your building were similar to the concept but not recognizably so.

  178. ekimmakon 14 Nov 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Something I’d like to get some advice on are contacts.

    The way I see it, there are three types of contacts:

    1) Hero Contacts – People who help the hero, but aren’t aware of their secret identity, like Commissioner Gordon for Batman, or Curt Conners for Spiderman (In the 90s series, at least). They often inform the hero about potential villains, or aid him where they excel (For instance, contact in the medical industry could tend his wounds after a particularly vicious fight).

    2) Civilian Contacts – People who know the civilian identity, but aren’t aware of their hero identity. An example that comes to mind is Chloe, from the early seasons of Smallville. The hero has to be diplomatic about how he gets information with them, in order to protect his identity.

    3) Dual contacts – Someone who knows both sides of the heroes life, and helps him out wherever they can. They provide intel, and cover for his mysterious absences. Sometimes, this contact is aware of the dual identity thing, but the hero doesn’t know they know. This can lead to some face palm moments if they’re both terrible actors-
    “Well, girl I’ve never seen before, I hope you’re all right.”
    “Yes I am, strange… bird guy, it’s a lucky you were here. And a coincidence.”

  179. Sarion56on 30 Dec 2010 at 12:38 am

    I need some advice on my superhero story thingy. I have a bunch of superheroes, but i don’t know where to start the story. My plan is to have a bunch of individual stories, then bring the heroes together after a while. The stories are more of an episode basis, closer to comics than novels (although I’m not a good drawer and i don’t know anyone who is :( ). My unofficial boss hero guy is who the first story is about, and it details how and why he initial chooses to use his powers to become a hero, but I can’t think of a good crisis or other bad situation to influence his decision.
    Any ideas?

  180. B. Macon 30 Dec 2010 at 6:50 am

    Some ideas…

    –How do the characters come to meet? Maybe they meet while working a similar case or responding to the same threat? Or maybe the boss guy brings them together? Maybe they’ve been brought together by the same villain, like in The Usual Suspects? Maybe they’re brought together by a villain trying to kill them, like in (sort of) Nightmare on Elm Street?

    –What are some of the boss’ distinguishing traits? For example, what’s his personality like? Does he have any notable flaws?

    –Is the boss the main hero in the series? If not, it might make more sense to start with the main hero, even if he’s not the one that brings the team together. (Assuming, of course, that you have a main hero; some series are ensembles of characters that are roughly equal in importance).

  181. B. Macon 30 Dec 2010 at 7:52 am

    Hmm, okay, Tom Clancy with a supernatural angle. I think that distinguishing the police officer would be important. If he’s an interesting character, I could totally see it working.

    Have you read Silence of the Lambs? I think it’s one great example of a police character that sticks out.

  182. Dominatoron 11 Mar 2011 at 12:43 am

    Hey B. Mac I was wondering if The Protector would be a good name for a character with super strength? Please get back soon thanks :)

  183. Contra Gloveon 11 Mar 2011 at 4:44 am

    “The Protector” seems a little generic. Try something more distinctive.

  184. B. Macon 11 Mar 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I agree with Contra Glove. Instead of a name that could be used on any superhero, I’d recommend trying a name more unique to your character. (For example, something based on an unusual personality trait or anything else about the character that really sticks out).

  185. Dominatoron 12 Mar 2011 at 5:21 pm

    K thanks. He also has a robotic arm and both legs are robotic, do you have any ideas for names?

  186. Rosegirlon 23 Mar 2011 at 10:43 am

    Could you set up a review forum for me? I’m working on a live-action superhero TV show, and I’d like to see if it’s any good.

  187. B. Macon 23 Mar 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Rosegirl, I’ve set it up for you here. Right now, the summary I’ve used is “Rosegirl is working on a live-action superhero TV show,” but please feel to let me know if you’d like to try something else. (Like a few paragraphs laying out some of the major plot points, etc).

    Please bookmark the page for easy access.

  188. Skullrocker21on 12 Apr 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Okay I’ve Been thinking about writing out a book from all the ideas that aRe filling up in my head and I’ve gone over them wig some friends and they say I should but I can’t figure out what the superheroes names should be I have a few but the whole idea on my book is that not only is there the main group of six but also that one of their siblings/relatives of the other gender not only just as powerful but have the same powers too and I need some comments but the character are
    Jenni(good): holds the power of energy; erics sister
    Eric(evil): holds the power of energy; jennis brother
    Max(good): holds the power of electricity; mels brother
    Mel(evil): holds the power of electricity; maxs sister
    Sarah(good): holds the power of fire; lucas’ cousin
    Lucas(evil): holds power of fire; sarahs cousin
    Jason(good): holds the power of water; lexi’s cousin
    Lexi(evil): holds he power of water; jasons cousin
    Katie(good): holds the power of earth; alexs sister
    Alex(evil): holds the power of earth; katies brother
    Dustin(good): hold the power of air; abbys brother
    Abby(evil): holds he power of air; dustins sister
    (I call all the evil villains the douplegangers cuz they are them only opposites)
    And those are pretty much the only main characters in the book but a few others pop in here and there but one of the things I debating is that in the beginning they are at the hospital formreasons nobody can really explain but I was considering that later on after seven years of pain and suffering that they awake in the hospital because they reacted poorly to the sleepy stuff I forgot what’s called but when they wake only seven days have gone by. Should I add that or what my story can go on without it but I wasent really sure also in the book one by one starting at Dustin they start to vanish without a trace but at the end it’s jenni and max fighting off the douplegangers. I thought maybe at the end jenni would get hit by electricity and she would be died the open her eyes at the end of the book or should I make it so that max disappears and jenni gets surrounded by the douplegangers and unleashes her full power right before they all attack her and her and those six others would be set in stone and then max and he over would arrive to the scene too late of what? I really would like some comments please

  189. B. Macon 13 Apr 2011 at 3:06 am

    Some thoughts and suggestions.

    –I counted 12 main characters (plus however many minor characters pop up later). I would recommend deleting and/or merging several of these characters because it’ll give you more space to develop the remaining characters. If I was evaluating your proposal for a publisher, one of my concerns would be that your cast is so large that 425 words only managed to cover the characters’ elements and siblings. What are their personalities like? Distinguishing traits? Relationships? I would recommend cutting the cast down to 3-5 protagonists and 1-3 villains. (What would be the advantage of having significantly more?)

    –If your plan is to get this professionally published, I would highly recommend working on your proofreading (capitalization, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc). It’s the only way to get publishing professionals to spend more than 60 seconds reading a proposal. If a proposal has more than 2 typos per page, I think it’s absolutely dead on arrival. (Realistically, it shouldn’t have any).

    –I’m a bit confused by the plot. So the characters have spent seven years of pain and suffering because of a bad reaction to anesthesia (right?), but when they wake up, only seven days have gone by. Umm, was it seven years or seven days? Why is there a discrepancy?

    –Umm, why do these characters all have evil siblings? Christ, not even I got that unlucky. (My sister, on the other hand…)

  190. Wingson 14 Apr 2011 at 2:46 pm

    @ Skullrocker

    If you had to merge some, I’d suggest merging lightning and energy, or eliminating both. The usual fire-water-earth-air triangle, while a bit overdone, is still workable. I’d like to see the differences in which the “good” characters and the “evil” characters use their powers. Maybe the evil earth sibling causes earthquakes without worrying about his allies or civilians getting hurt, or the evil water sibling uses water to suffocate people. Meanwhile, the “good” electricity sibling can talk to and befriend machines or something like that.

    …Please check your grammar. A lot of errors can make otherwise simple posts a lot harder to understand.

    Vaguely off topic: Why does nobody seem to use the Chinese system of elements? I can’t be the only one who wants a Five Man Band using metal, wood, fire, water, and earth instead of the usual fire-water-earth-air group, plus heart for the one girl (Seriously, if anyone ever lost the superpower lottery…).

    - Wings

  191. B. Macon 14 Apr 2011 at 4:49 pm

    “Why does nobody seem to use the Chinese system of elements?” I imagine that it’s different for writers working in Chinese, but for writers working in English, I think that Aristotle’s four elements are more familiar.

    Also, I feel controlling wood would be much less impressive and versatile than the other four (perhaps even as lame as heart). Finally, I think that there’d be a lot of overlap between earth and metal.



    I’d be a bit leery of a group whose members were primarily distinguished by their elements (either Western or Chinese). I think personalities and/or roles are much more important and dramatically fertile. Some authors with elemental bands give the characters elements in lieu of actual character development (a personality, distinguishing traits, voice, etc).

  192. Wingson 14 Apr 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Though I would dearly love to make a Captain Planet reference, I shall resist. ;)

    Elemental bands are tricky. Most of the time, people just go with the tempermental fire user, the calm and cool water user, the silent and unintelligent earth user, and the ditzy air user. Plus, if a girl isn’t heart or dream or love, she’s air or water. And hotheaded pyros bother me extensively. Was there ever an instance where the earth user wasn’t a big burly guy, besides Avatar: The Last Airbender?

    - Wings

  193. B. Macon 14 Apr 2011 at 7:28 pm

    In defense of Captain Planet (!), I think audience expectations for character development in kid’s shows are very low. There are a lot of groups where characters have only one trait, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (surly/science!/joker/ass*), Power Rangers, etc.

    This sort of one-dimensional character development would probably be a major liability for a novel, though, particularly one aimed at readers 18+.

    *Alternately, perhaps “responsible” or “leader,” but that’s not the first thing that comes to my mind.

    PS: I agree with you about the potential for cliches with elemental-themed personalities. The fire guy or girl is almost always the hot-headed/destructive one, even though water and wind and earth can all be as destructive or more. (I would guess that hurricanes or earthquakes kill more people on average than fires do, and there are other ways to die in water).

    Also, another exception to the strong-and-silent guy as the earth controller is Teen Titans’ Terra. But I think someone like Ben Grimm is definitely the prototypical character there (even though he doesn’t actually control earth).

  194. Wingson 14 Apr 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Eh, according to Marvel 1602, the Fantastic Four are technically the four elements (Reed’s water, by the way).

    At the very least, the two pyros I have are slipping out of the stereotype (Playful hacker Pyric is a literal representation of the hotness* of fire, while Candle is more…zealous than initially tempermental). However, both are still redheads, which means I’m still not too great at this. :)

    - Wings

    * I can hear you groaning over that pun over here, you know.

  195. gurlon 26 Apr 2011 at 4:15 pm

    this website is awesome it helps me alot!

  196. Basketball4ever55on 29 Apr 2011 at 9:11 pm

    What would be a good name for a planet that is several eons mOre advanced than earth and it trains new people with powers

  197. B. Macon 29 Apr 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I’m not very good at names. Umm, I like Progenitor, but you’ll have a much easier time coming up with something that suits your tastes and your story than I will.

  198. Comicbookguy117on 30 Apr 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Hey guys looking for more input on a potential new character’s story. I’m having trouble making it original. Ok so I’m building this comicbook universe where science and magic have existed side-by-side since the beginning. And while we know that technology emerged because of the pursuit of scientific understanding. The technology in my universe also advanced because of the study and understanding of magic. There are only a handful of people in the world who can actually perform magical feats, the rest of us have to rely on magical tech. One example are magical crystals which hold spells that can power suits of armor, cars or even act as clips for weapons. Science and magic co-exist, one is not better then the other. They each offer their own advantages.

    But I’ve begun to ramble, so I apologize. I could go for hours on what I’ve come up with. So anyway the character I am developing is the head of a corporation that manufactures these magical crystals. And somehow he gets booted from his own company. He then sees what the company has become and vows to destory it. I feel this idea is predictable and cliched. But I can’t seem to come up with an original idea for the story. Can anyone offer any advice or suggestions?

  199. B. Macon 30 Apr 2011 at 8:47 pm

    “And somehow he gets booted from his own company. He then sees what the company has become and vows to destroy it. I feel this idea is predictable and cliche.” I agree that this setup is not by itself the most original in the world, but I think it could work if you executed the conflict in an interesting way. One possibility is that he got set up as the fall guy, perhaps by someone using the company for criminal purposes or otherwise trying to cover up criminal activity.

    I think the most cliche way to handle this would be to have the guy that replaced him be the lead villain. I’m not sure that a fight between two businessmen over something mainly economic (ownership of a company) would be sufficiently urgent to really interest readers. One alternate motive that might be higher-stakes would be that something related to the magical angle. So, right now, magic and science sort of coexist and are sort of balanced. Setting up the main character may be part of somebody’s bid to push for one side or the other. If the antagonist thinks that magic is an aberration and must be destroyed, sabotaging a major magic company would make sense. (The end goal might be convincing the public that magical tech is so preposterously dangerous that it must be outlawed entirely). If the antagonist thinks that magic is so vital that the public must be exposed to it at all costs, having this company figure out how to unlock magical talent in more people (so that it’s not just a handful of practitioners) would probably make sense. Unlocking magical talent might require highly dangerous, unethical research. That’s one reason you might need a coverup. (For example, framing the CEO).

  200. Comicbookguy117on 30 Apr 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Wow! That’s totally awesome B. Mac. I’d like to work with that idea if that’s alright. I’m a very resectful person. So I am asking to use the idea you suggested, ok? It seems like a really good idea that I can push a lot of different ways.

  201. B. Macon 30 Apr 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Yeah, you never have to ask. What good would my suggestions be if you couldn’t use them? :)

    Also, feel free to adapt it as you see fit.

  202. arvinon 19 Jun 2011 at 7:44 am

    hi i have to do a school report on superhero novels/short stories and i was just wondering what are the main steriotypical characters

  203. B. Macon 19 Jun 2011 at 10:20 am

    Hmm. I’d go with…

    –Protagonists driven by revenge. This revenge is almost always a response to the death of the protagonist’s family (and sometimes the protagonist’s homeworld as well). I thought that Spiderman and occasionally Batman handle this pretty well, but I don’t think I’ve ever found Punisher or Huntress interesting.

    –Female characters that do pretty much nothing besides getting captured and/or serving as the love interest. Also, female characters that are either unusually smart or (more rarely) unusually dumb (frequently a cheerleader). I think male writers lean towards these types of female characters because it’s harder to write the personality of a girl with a more ordinary, relatable level of intelligence.

    –A brash/reckless character, almost always a guy. He’s usually the hothead and frequently has fire-based superpowers. (For example, Hal Jordan in the new Green Lantern movie, the Human Torch in Fantastic Four, Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the American with the power of fire in Captain Planet, etc).

    –Students without much personality. Especially if their main antagonist at school is a jock bully without much personality.

    –Especially in cartoons, 100% heroic protagonists. Superman and Wonder-Woman usually strike me as too purely heroic to feel believable.

  204. arvinon 19 Jun 2011 at 9:51 pm

    thanks alot

  205. Sylaron 02 Jul 2011 at 9:36 pm

    What would be some good limitations for a hero with empathic mimicry (like Peter Petrelli)? –Other than absorbing one power at a time–

  206. B. Macon 02 Jul 2011 at 10:31 pm

    “What would be some good limitations for a hero with empathic mimicry (like Peter Petrelli)? –Other than absorbing one power at a time–” Perhaps he gets increasingly unstable or takes on some other cost (please see #2 here) as he adds more powers. I think it would really help to do something to limit the amount of powers he has access to. (Otherwise, he’s liable to render pretty much every other protagonist obsolete, a la Peter Petrelli).

  207. Sylaron 03 Jul 2011 at 6:17 pm

    B. Mac, when are you going up with some more comic book articles? I have a lot of questions that need answers.

  208. B. Macon 03 Jul 2011 at 6:30 pm

    “I have a lot of questions that need answers.” Sure, what can I help you with?

  209. Sylaron 04 Jul 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I have a character I created by the name of Joaquin Ink. The original powers I had in mind were the ability to manipulate liquid (his favorite liquid to manipulate being… ink). But as I tweeked with it, I changed his power to empathic mimicry. And I changed the story so that his real name was Eugene O’Donnel, and he changed his name to Joaquin Ink (the reason being that his deceased father owned a tattoo parlor). And I was wonder if, given his powers, I should stick with that name. Should I?

  210. B. Macon 04 Jul 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I like the last name of Ink better as something he adopts after getting superpowers rather than something he’s born with. (It’d be contrived, like if someone with the last name of Winters just happened to get ice-related powers later).



    Instead of O’Donnel, I’d recommend the more conventional spelling O’Donnell.

  211. Sylaron 04 Jul 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Could I do a story where the people with powers get a disease only they can get (like the Shanti virus or the Legacy virus) or is that one of those plots that needs to die?

  212. B. Macon 05 Jul 2011 at 1:23 am

    Sylar, I don’t think that’s overdone. Although I have a pretty good idea of how the plot arc will play out, I think you have a lot more creative flexibility than someone doing a shrinking episode/issue.

  213. Sylaron 06 Jul 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I’ve read a lot of your articles, B. Mac. Are you saying it’s a bad idea for your hero’s enemy to be a huge company?

  214. B. Macon 07 Jul 2011 at 12:51 am

    It’s not the most creative enemy in the world. If you go down that path, at least make the company unique somehow. (For example, a distinct motive, an unusual style, etc).



    Personally, I thought it would be more interesting to make my villain the head of a small company that got bought out by a bigger, non-evil company. I think it’s a dramatic obstacle that he has to rely more on trickery and cunning than just giving commands to willing henchmen.

  215. Sylaron 11 Jul 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Well… I’m glad you didn’t totally toss it aside. I got this character, Samuel West. Anyway, Sam is recruited by a corporation known as the Thompson Group (a group dedicated to helping meta-humans control their powers). And he has to take this other corporation called the Acme Corporation, a group run by a madman known simply as “the Coyote” (I personally that sounds too much like Nick Fury and S.HI.E.L.D, but that’s just me).

  216. B. Macon 11 Jul 2011 at 5:37 pm

    “I got this character, Samuel West. Anyway, Sam is recruited by a corporation known as the Thompson Group (a group dedicated to helping meta-humans control their powers).” I’d recommend coming up with some things that distinguish the Thompson Group from the Xavier Institute. For example, what are some things that the Thompson group does that Xavier wouldn’t?

    What’s the Coyote’s motive and why would a corporation’s head have an obviously criminal name like the Coyote? Also, could you come up with a name more distinct to the company than something generic like Acme Corporation? (For example, I used Eugenex for an evil pharmaceutical firm committed to pushing the envelope on human development because it sounds cold and scientific and I think some readers will appreciate the wordplay).

  217. Robon 11 Jul 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Hello all,

    I just stumbled on this site a few minutes ago and think this will be regular visit for me. Anyway I have a story question for anyone who could answer it. I have a “batman” like superhero who finds out he was adopted and the rightful heir to his fotune is a criminal mastermind who destroys his empire. After 15 years and gaining several hundred lbs, he is recruited by his ex “robin”. Its a comedy about him getting back into shape and saving his families lagacy. I am having problems coming up with plot points though. Any help would be appreciated.

    Rob

  218. B. Macon 11 Jul 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Hello, Rob. I’m not sure I understand the timeline. Please feel free to correct me about any of the following that I have wrong.

    Age ~30: He’s a Batman-style vigilante working from a Bruce Wayne-style fortune. He has a Robin-esque sidekick. However, a criminal mastermind successfully seizes his fortune by revealing that HE is the biological child of the “Waynes” and that the Bruce Wayne analogue is just adopted.
    Age ~31-44: Without his fortune, the main character gives up on fighting crime.
    Age ~45: Now middle-aged and badly out of shape, his Robin comes back for some reason. (Maybe he needs help on a critical case that he knows the main character will find interesting).

    Some questions:
    –Why does Robin come back to him now rather than just a few years after the main character lost his fortune and gave up on crime-fighting? One possible plot point is that Robin is dealing with a case too big for him to handle alone.
    –What has your main character been doing in the 15 years since? Drinking and reminiscing on his lost fortune? Trying to rebuild his company?
    –Why does the main character choose to return to superheroics now? What does Robin confront him with?
    –Why did losing his fortune cause the main character to give up on solving crimes?
    –”It’s a comedy about… saving his family’s legacy.” What’s his family’s legacy like?
    –Are you writing a novel (usually 80,000-100,000 words) or something else?

  219. Robon 12 Jul 2011 at 1:15 pm

    B.Mac,

    You pretty much have the timeline down.

    Robin was able to hold his own for quite awhile but this new criminal has organized the supervillians in the town to work beside him which is too much for robin to handle.

    the main character has been hiding in the bottom of a fast food container making him morbidly obese.

    The main character is finally confronted by robin and his butler to rejoin the fight and is finally reminded that he was the child of the waynes not this imposter and that he needs to save the family name and the city.

    He leaves crime fighting because he was a proud member of society and then he finds out his whole life was a lie and that he was nothing more than a mistake, not so much about the money.

    I don’t want to place it in just about saving the faminlies legacy, which is similar to the real wayne’s but also about realizeing self worth and believing in yourself no matter where you come from.

    I hope this answers your questions above, I am actually writing this to hopefully become a TV show but I am definately not a writer. I just had this idea and thought I would give the ol college try. I also thank you for asking these questions because I have not thought of most of these little aspects that i should really have nailed down.

  220. Robon 12 Jul 2011 at 2:27 pm

    And please note to all those reading the above. I am going to drastically change the names of the characters.

  221. B. Macon 12 Jul 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Alright. What are some of the things you’re going to be using for comedy? For example, in Austin Powers, most of the comedy is making fun of the conventions of James Bond and other spy movies. In The Taxman Must Die, most of the comedy comes from the wacky adventures of an accountant and mutant alligator that hate each other. A lot of the comedy in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World comes from characters being clueless.

    ROOMMATE: If you want something bad, you have to fight for it. Step up your game. Break out the L-word.
    MAIN CHARACTER: Lesbian?
    ROOMMATE: The other L-word.
    MAIN CHARACTER: …Lesbians?

    EX-LOVE INTEREST: You’re incorrigible.
    DITZY VILLAIN: Hah! I don’t know the meaning of the word.
    NARRATOR CAPTION: He really doesn’t.

    One idea that might help make it funnier is giving the characters louder personalities. In addition to the aforementioned Scott Pilgrim and Austin Powers, I’d recommend checking out the characterization in both Ironman movies and the rated-PG graphic novel Sam & Max: Surfin’ the Highway**.

    ** I have a Sam & Max haiku:
    Psychopathic cops
    Save the day with revolvers
    Sometimes on purpose

    (PG psychopaths!)

  222. Robon 12 Jul 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thats pretty good and I enjoy those movies greatly. My main premise is before the Night Avenger (Batman) becomes obese he was a very cocky superhero with a child like sense of humor. When he finally gets back into crime fighting he thinks he can just jump back in and pick up where he left off. Most of the comedy is based on his ignorance of his limitations and how much crime has changed over the years. I really enjoy the comedy styling of family guy with references and ideas coming out of left field and going on tangents. I do at least try and make some of them relevent though.

    I have pretty much a full episode written if you would like to read it to get a better idea where I am coming from, just let me know where to post it.

    thanks again

  223. B. Macon 12 Jul 2011 at 4:58 pm

    “When he finally gets back into crime fighting he thinks he can just jump back in and pick up where he left off. Most of the comedy is based on his ignorance of his limitations and how much crime has changed over the years.” That sounds promising. (The obesity, less so).

    Would you like to email it to me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com? (Alternately, you can use the contact form here).

  224. Robon 18 Jul 2011 at 3:34 pm

    B.Mac,

    It has been a week since I sent you the first episode I wrote. I was wondering if you received it and/or had time to read it. Please re-post or email me back with confirmation. thanks

  225. Anonymouson 21 Jul 2011 at 3:39 pm

    i having trouble designed costumes that look cool but a person thats not rich could buy any ideas

  226. Anonymouson 21 Jul 2011 at 3:41 pm

    sorry i meant to say i’m having trouble designing costumes i have a word predicting program that doesn’t work

  227. Crystalon 21 Jul 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Well, your hero could sew his own costume (I’m pretty sure Peter Parker did this), so theoretically, there are really no limits. (Well, I guess it kinda depends on how well he can sew, but…)
    Also, you could just go with the ‘hoodie-and-jeans’ ensemble, like I am.

  228. Anonymouson 21 Jul 2011 at 4:15 pm

    thanks but some of my charters are considered freaks so they live on the streets plus that were they can fight the most crime the big problem i’m having is they end up with the same costume domino mask gloves boots and a utility because that the only thing thats a superhero like costume they could pay for.

  229. B. Macon 21 Jul 2011 at 6:36 pm

    If the characters are poor freaks, that’d suggest to me that they’d be more likely to create their own costume. Maybe one of them is okay at sewing, which you’d probably have to be if you didn’t have the money to buy new clothes when your old ones got worn. The costumes probably don’t look awesome, but I think that is thematically fitting here. If you wanted to go REALLY ghetto, you could make a mask out of tape and a plastic bag. Check out the singers in this video (rated PG-13/R for strong language).

  230. Anonymouson 21 Jul 2011 at 7:15 pm

    can some one give me a list of goodnames that aren’t being used for a female superhero with superspeed

  231. B. Macon 21 Jul 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I have not had very much success coming up with names for other people. Usually, I think most authors can come up with something that fits their style and story more than a stranger that knows only a bit about the story. If you can’t come up with anything now, you can use a placeholder name like The Speedy Heroine and something better will come to you eventually.

    By the way, you can do superhero names that don’t have anything to do with the character’s powers. For example…
    –Captain America’s name derives from his theme and origin/background. If people had to pick out one thing about Captain America that stuck out most to them, it probably wouldn’t be that he throws a shield around.
    –Green Lantern is named after the source of his powers and his organization.
    –Batman is named after something symbolically/thematically relevant, but his powers aren’t actually bat-related.
    –The Taxman Must Die has a character named Agent Orange that is useful and (probably) safe for humans, but his powers don’t have anything to do with chemical defoliation. (In terms of keeping my readers awake, that’s probably a good thing).
    –Some characters have names that evoke the right emotions, but aren’t related to the characters’ powers. Some heroic examples include Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter and the Punisher. Some villainous examples include Venom and Carnage.

  232. Anonymouson 22 Jul 2011 at 9:26 am

    i may try to think of something not related to the power because what i have now is terrible and it sounds so corny it just doesn’t fit with some of the cooler names for my other characters

  233. Don 22 Jul 2011 at 9:56 am

    i’m having some trouble with good villains my main problem is i’m writing a anthology style book like the detective comics or action comics so i have to come up villains for each superhero and villains that can fight many of my different superheroes because its all set in the same city

  234. Don 22 Jul 2011 at 10:06 am

    all my villains are too gimmicky or when i try to turn down the cornness too gruesome
    what should i do

  235. Sylaron 29 Aug 2011 at 7:04 pm

    What would you suggest for a hero with the power of empathy?

  236. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 29 Aug 2011 at 8:29 pm

    “What would you suggest for a hero with the power of empathy?” Please see above, Sylar. I’m generally not a huge fan of superhero names based on powers.

  237. Sylaron 06 Nov 2011 at 6:38 pm

    K, I’m climbing out on a limb. I got this story… it’s about this guy who has no memory of his past, and he discovers that he’s has a handful of superpowers (i.e. telekinesis, psychometry, empathy, etc.) and he’s trying to cope with life while trying to unravel the mysteries that surround himself. He’s like a combination of Superman and Wolverine (but with a higher stress level)… where could I take it from there?

  238. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Here are some questions that come to mind, Sylar.

    –Where did his powers come from?

    –How did he lose his memories? Are there any sorts of events that cause him to regain fragments of memories? (E.g. if a contract killer had amnesia, maybe handling a kitchen knife would remind him of other things he’s done with knives).

    –Is there a group hunting down this amnesiac? (The most cliche way to lose one’s memories is to get beat up while trying to leave or escape a group). If so, why? (Also, how’d he get away?)

    –Are there any friends/family and/or neutrals (maybe police or journalists) looking for him?

    –How many people know about his past and would be willing to talk to him about it? How could he find such people? (For example, does he have any clues that could lead back to aspects of his past? Maybe he can trace back a piece of jewelry or something back to the place he bought it or maybe he hid something on his person).

    –Besides talking to people, are there any other sources of information about his past life? (If he’s a public figure like Superman, he might be able to do newspaper searches based on what little he knows).

    –What’s his personality like?

    –While he’s trying to find out what happened to him, what’s he doing in the meantime? (He’s coming up with money to eat somehow, right? Does he have a job?)

    –Does he meet anyone new along the way? What compels this person to stick around even though he/she is probably in danger? (For the purpose of distinguishing the story from the Bourne series, I would recommend a motive besides love. For example, in Point of Impact, a disgraced FBI agent decides to help an alleged assassin clear his name because of a sense of justice and duty).

  239. Sylaron 06 Nov 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I have in mind this idea of a secret project known as “Project SYNC”, where these scientists discovered genetic markers in people that gives them amazing powers, they isolated these markers, and transferred the powers into one person, to try to aid the human race in preparation of various natural occurances such as terrorism, overpopulation, famine, etc. But the project was de-funced. Then they wiped his memories to cover their tracks, but one scientist in particular stays with him and makes sure he gets by and doesn’t die. Now he (the hero) has to find answers about himself as well as live day to day.

  240. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Does the scientist know everything? (If he were a low-level employee with limited knowledge of what was going on, it might be more interesting).

  241. Sylaron 07 Nov 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Can I create the 1st issue and then sned you a copy? Just for your opinion…

  242. BMon 07 Nov 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Sure. I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com. (Alternately, I suppose you could reach me by sending out ninja couriers or UPS hit squads, but email would be easier).

  243. Anonymouson 12 Dec 2011 at 7:09 pm

    What sort of event do you think would force a governmemt sanctioned superhero, a vigilante, an ex convict, and a renegade clone to work together?

    I think that it would have to be something more serious than just a mugging or a normal robbery.

  244. B. McKenzieon 12 Dec 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I agree that it’d have to be something pretty serious, probably something beyond the usual scope of a supervillain if it’s forcing a superhero to act unusually. I think the government type would be the easiest to explain–police work with criminals pretty often (as informants or witnesses), so I don’t think it’d raise many eyebrows if they swapped information or did small favors for one another. (Publicly helping him commit a crime would probably raise a lot of heat, though). The renegade clone might have some personal vendetta against the villain based on his background or motivations (whatever those are). The vigilante would probably be opposed to any villain, although he might also have a personal vendetta against this villain based on the danger level and/or any history between the antagonist and him. (I’d recommend having the cooperation build only gradually between the vigilante and the government-sanctioned superhero). What was the convict in prison for and what are his motivations like?

    I think it’d help to know more about the characters’ personalities.

  245. Anonymouson 12 Dec 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Well the plot does extend beyond the scope of a normal supervillain. The heroes don’t exactly know what’s going on, but they do know that it’s huge, and that it extends into the supernatural realm.
    As for the characters, I don’t have much on them, but this is what I have so far.

    Jacob Romero- codename: Blackbird
    He is a superhero that works for the government. Personality wise, he is extremely confident, and he views the others as inferior to himself. He absolutely hates anybody who breaks the law. To him, the world is black and white, there is no gray. He is very opinionated and hard headed.
    He wears a black powersuit, which serves to keep him alive. Over the years, he has upgraded it with several things, including rocket boots, armor, and a wrist mounted pulse rifle.

    Parker Reese- codename. Vigil
    He is an outlaw. Personality wise, he is very suspicious and distrusting. Naturally, this is because he has severe trust issues. He is dedicated to protecting innocent people, and he will not hesitate to kill.
    He can teleport, and he has the ability to manipulate darkness.

    Clone 9827- codename: Wraith
    Wraith is one of 10,000 imperfect clones of Zane, an immensely powerful psychic (but this isn’t important to the story) Wraith is very quiet and reserved. Seeing as how she is relatively new to Earth, she doesn’t understand some things about life, and she is trying to find her purpose in life.
    She has Telekinesis, a limited ability to fly, and she can turn invisible for a short time.

    Rylee Mesanos- codename: Mesa
    She is an ex convict, but she has since reformed her criminal ways, and she has come to respect law enforcers. She is still bitter about being in prison (for murder). She is very loud and angry, and she is prone to random acts of violence and rage outbreaks.
    She has super strength, and her skin is very thick

  246. Anonymouson 14 Dec 2011 at 9:32 am

    And as for Mesa’s motivation, she would want to atone for her past sins

  247. Infyon 26 Dec 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Oh, man, this site has helped so much you don’t even know. Even so, though, I have a few questions. I’ve worked for about 2 days (which is pretty much not a lot at all) on this character, and since she’s the main character, I figure that maybe once I nail her down, the rest of the story will sort of follow?

    Currently I only have The Falcon fleshed out, and her name is very VERY not good at all and expendable and open for suggestions on improvement *cough cough*.

    Her alter ego, Lana Bowen, is a detective in a sort of Gotham-like setting called Pandora City, where the crime rate is fantastically high. One night, she was walking by an alleyway when she was off-duty, and she sees a big lump of half-dead guy in the alley. It’s human-looking, but he’s wearing a bird mask and dressed oddly. He’s holding onto a necklace-looking thing with a gem in the middle. By the looks of him, he’s been mugged. She thinks nothing much of his outfit and calls an ambulance, they rush him to the hospital, and she stays in his hospital room until he comes to and can tell her what his assailant looked like. When he comes to, he explains to her that he’s the prince of another planet, and the necklace he was holding onto is a royal heirloom that holds incredible power inside it. Their neighboring planet attacked them in order to steal the necklace, so he took a ship and ran away with the necklace. He crash-landed on earth, and he says it’s only a matter of time before they find him and take the necklace, and he doesn’t have the ability to protect it. She doesn’t believe a word of it and just fingers him as another wacko, etc., but she goes along with it anyway just to appease him and get him to tell her about who mugged him. Long story short, the alien bird-man thing tells her about his mugger, but he more importantly gives her the necklace, and begs her to take care of it and never let it out of her sight. She takes it, but the second she touches it, she feels a shooting pain travel up her arm and into her head. When she opens her eyes, though, she finds that her vision has totally changed. She’s too spooked to continue her conversation with the alien, so she takes the necklace and leaves. After a little experimentation, she finds that the necklace has granted her these fantastic powers she has. She decides to become The Falcon (or a superhero with a less crappy name that has yet to be decided) after the aforementioned warlike aliens land and start raping and pillaging to find this necklace.

    As to her powers, she basically has all the abilities of a bird. she has super speed in the air, a heightened sense of sight and hearing, night vision, and she doesn’t get winded (birds have spectacular respiratory systems). I picture her powers a little bit like Vixen’s as well, except it only applies to birds (so she could, theoretically, secrete poison like a Pitohui or be able to imitate anything she hears like a Parrot, but I feel like that’s stretching into mary-suedom) and not like… EVERY ANIMAL EVER. As to weaknesses, birds don’t have sweat glands, so she’s very sensitive to and fatigues much quicker in hot temperatures, and birds’ high metabolic rate causes her to tire out quickly, so she has to sleep and eat a LOT more than the average human, plus she acquires a rather fatal allergy to avocados and chocolate (but of course, the latter two weaknesses are mostly played for laughs). The two biggest weaknesses, though, are that since the necklace taps into her animal-like behavior, she slowly loses her touch with humanity (and birds are pretty much assholes by nature, excuse the French, so she pretty much gets all Hulk and out of control) the more she uses her powers. The only way for her to revert back to human-like behavior is to remove the necklace from her possession, but if you take away the necklace, you take away her powers as well.

    So for two days of work, i think i’ve made a bit of progress, but her origin story still needs some fine-tuning. I’d also like to know how i can iron out her powers as well, to make her seem less mary-sue and more likeable. Lastly, can someone give me a better name for her than The Falcon? I’m sure it’s been used to death. Thanks :)

  248. B. McKenzieon 27 Dec 2011 at 1:10 am

    –I think the origin could have the two characters meet in a more memorable/distinct way. For example, can you use something unique about her? Does she make an unusual decision that most other protagonists wouldn’t? Is there some reason that she’s the cop that finds the prince and not any other cop in town? (For example, if it was really important that she’s hyper-observant, maybe she notices a body tucked away somewhere that almost everybody else would miss). Does the prince do anything notable besides giving her superpowers and an explanation of the villains?

    –I like the limitations on her powers. I think the personality influence will be interesting. By the way, I agree that birds are generally assholes. American eagles are ornery and not nearly as patriotic as, say, American red squirrels or American alligators but at least we didn’t get screwed with a turkey as our national animal.

    –I’m not terribly worried about the potential for Mary-Suedom in terms of her powers. She seems relatively easy to challenge.

    –What’s her personality like? Does she have any flaws? What sort of mistakes is she prone to making?

    –You sound like you have a pretty good grasp of birds, so one alternative that might be more memorable than the Falcon would be a specific type of more exotic bird. Maybe something like Turaco (or Turaca), Bronzewing (a type of dove), Kestrel (a type of falcon that hovers while hunting), Corvid, Harrier, maybe Berigora (“falco berigora” is the scientific name of the brown falcon), etc. The original author of James Bond (Ian Fleming) was really into ornithology, so he worked in various bird-related terms (like “goldeneye” and naming the protagonist after a major ornithologist)

    –The alien enemies… what’s their angle? It sounds right now like their main traits are warlike-and-stupid. If warlike is the first, could I recommend going with something more unusual as the second?

  249. Infyon 27 Dec 2011 at 2:18 am

    I still have yet to think about everything else you said and sort it out, but I would like to waste this pointless post thanking you and informing you that I love love LOVE Kestrel. If you don’t mind, I’d like to use that one.

  250. alex103on 23 Feb 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Hi, this is all very helpful but I just still need some help on my idea for a novel/screenplay.

    Firstly, the story is based on 3 main characters, the Robson siblings, Bailey, being the eldest of the 3, who has a high level of intellect and expertise in weaponry, Brent, whom is the middle child, the cocky, arrogant child, but has high physical conditiong and a martial arts expert. And the youngest child, Billi, she is the most caring, a former gymnastics competitor and is the only one who actually has a power, which is the use of telepathy.

    The beginning of the story starts off with the death of the Father of the Robsons, Conrad, who dies an unknown death, leaving his wife and their mother, Alana, a widow left to grieve. Conrad is an entrepreneur, which automatically allows access to money for his children. However at the funeral of Conrad, Billi is greeted by a mysterious old man who hands her an envelope. She doesnt open it straight away, when she does, it has a note inside of it saying that Conrad was killed. Billi then reveals it to her two older brothers. They then decide that they need to discover who killed their father, without letting Alana know.

    The siblings discover that Conrad actually had a partner in his million-pound buisness, (name unknown) who eventually killed Conrad to gain money for his experiment. As the buisness partner believes that there is a high level of disease to arise all over the globe, esp in the city they live in, esp those who have unnatural genes and not enough genes. They find this vital information from Conrads buisness partners son, Parker (werewolf), who later discovers feelings for Billi.

    Conrads partner, who has a close connection to the towns mayor, sets up a concentration camp several miles outside of the city. The concentration camp will be used to experiment on those who are chosen, involuntarily, two of the prisoners being Alana’s twin sister, Maxine and Brents wife. They need to find a way into the camp as it is blocked off with armed forces etc, before one of the two dies. Maxine dies.

    I just need help to develop the plot of this and to cut up all lose ends :)

  251. Thu Hoskinsonon 23 Mar 2012 at 4:09 am

    Hmm, I hope you don’t get annoyed with this question, but how much does a site like yours earn?

  252. B. McKenzieon 23 Mar 2012 at 10:54 am

    If your website is anything like mine, the main benefit is the development of your skills rather than a direct payout. I’m a better writer and much better editor than I was when I started blogging. That helps a lot in job searches and publishing processes in which significantly more money is at stake than what I could get from advertising.

    Indirectly, SN’s helped me earn maybe $20-30,000 (mostly job opportunities and freelance work I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise). Directly, it got me an educational grant and enough donations to cover a month of rent. Potentially, the book could land me a nonfiction publishing contract. An average nonfiction advance is worth about $40,000 and I have an above-average writing platform. Theoretically, I could probably sell the website at some point for perhaps another five figures, but I am not interested in doing so. If your main motives are financial, you’d probably look into ads and perhaps merchandise as well. I don’t think that ads would work all that well for SN, so I don’t run them.

  253. YoungAuthoron 23 Mar 2012 at 5:09 pm

    “If your main motives are financial, you’d probably look into ads and perhaps merchandise as well. I don’t think that ads would work all that well for SN, so I don’t run them.”

    I love that SN doesn’t have ads. It makes it more refeshing and more focused on what its trying to deliver. :D

  254. B. McKenzieon 23 Mar 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Ads (particularly intrusive ones) stifle audience growth and make the website look less professional/authoritative/credible than it would otherwise. All of my current paths to making money require that the website look professional enough to impress hiring managers and readers.



    If you are considering ads for your website, I recommend looking into how Mat Nastos advertises his own products.

  255. BBALL44on 23 Mar 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Okay so in my book the planet where the main characters live is called Zion so when they are elsewhere what would they be called? Like people who live in America are Americans and so on… So I just was wondering what they would be called. As well as people who live on a planet call Sabi.

  256. YoungAuthoron 23 Mar 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Zions and Sabians?

  257. B. McKenzieon 23 Mar 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Sabi -> maybe Sabians, Sabiens, Sabines, perhaps Sabers (a la New Yorkers?), etc.

    Zion –> maybe Zionians (a la Bostonians), Zioners (New Yorkers) or Ziones. I’d recommend going by a distinct species name, if possible, because ending a place in -ion leaves you pretty few options here. For example, Starcraft does Aiur -> Protoss. Alternately, maybe there’s an alternate name for Zion you could use? For example, some sci-fi stories refer to the people of Earth as Terrans.

  258. YoungAuthoron 23 Mar 2012 at 8:06 pm

    While we’re on the topic of naming people from sci-fi planets, I have a planet (for a different story i’m working on) that is kinda of like the planet earth flocked to after polluting earth to much. there’s humans along with all different types of aliens. I thought about Earth II, but that sounded kinda lame. I also thought about Terra Firma or Terrain. any suggestions???

  259. B. McKenzieon 23 Mar 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I’d probably go with a new name altogether, rather than a variation on Earth. Alternately, there was a TV series named “Terra Nova” (New Earth), so maybe working in another Latin term would work. Maybe “Denuo” or “Iterum” or “Secundus” or “Terra Denuo” (literally, “Second” or “Anew” or “Second Earth,” I think). Maybe Terra Viva (“Living Earth”), although the abbreviation TV might cause some confusion.

    If you’re keeping it in English, New Earth is okay (if a bit banal).

  260. YoungAuthoron 23 Mar 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Terra Denuo is perfect. Thank you B. Mckenzie! :D

  261. noloon 25 Mar 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I want to know how to make his costume or suit or armor!

  262. Aks flowon 21 Apr 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Is it good to have a superhero name with ‘man’ at the end?

  263. Jeremy Melloulon 21 Apr 2012 at 11:50 pm

    See this – http://www.superheronation.com/2011/11/06/ideas-for-authors-stuck-on-superhero-names/

    It’s not necessarily bad but just make sure it’s justified and doesn’t sound horrible (also that it’s not already been used)

  264. Morpheus & Prometheuson 20 May 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Hello all. B.Mac, I’ve read your articles for a long time, and several of them have fascinated me (the psychic and psionic articles especially). But my superhero is kinda… complicated. His stories are usually set in surreal locations as well as being surrounded by surreal beings (The story is based off of “Inception” and “The Sandman”). It’s called “The Shadow Self”, it’s very surrealistic and very psychological. Any advice for a work as complicated as this?

  265. B. McKenzieon 22 May 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hello, Morpheus and Prometheus. As long as the parameters of what the character can do are vaguely clear, your superpower/setting situation doesn’t strike me as particularly problematic. My main potential concern would be whether readers can easily figure out what’s going on, but it’d be hard for me to give advice on that front without having read the story.

  266. Morpheus & Prometheuson 22 May 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I’ll come up with a rough draft and send it to you.

    What’s your e-mail?

  267. B. McKenzieon 22 May 2012 at 9:30 pm

    SuperheroNation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  268. The Writeron 23 May 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I have another for an idea. It is not exactly a “superhero” character, but it is about someone different from normal people. I was posting this for any responses and/or improvements. What worked and what didn’t? This is a plot synopsis:

    Clyde Carnegie finds out that his greatest fear is death and decides that in order to overcome his fear he must become death itself. He starts off with a series of murders involving company heads to alter the stock market in his favor and becomes a hired gun to help employees reap the benefits of life insurance. Over time his job of killing becomes not only a job but an obsession.  He becomes addicted to killing as it is what he does best and it gives him pleasure. He takes on the nickname Mister Sinister because of the harm and fear he strikes into the city if Chicago. Then he starts wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and a fedora over a blood-red wig to hide his identity. As a trademark, he carved the initials C.C. Into his victims’ faces if they are still there. He also puts a notch in his glass eye for every single person he kills. He falls in love with a woman who works for the F.B.I and he makes her promise to keeps him safe. She does and relays him information so he stays safe. Little did he know that while she did have strong feelings for him, her intention the whole time was to lead him to his doom. She does this by setting up a fake meeting with a possible employer for Carnegie and then leading him into a trap of armed agents. Clyde has always been somewhat suspicious of her and won’t be made a fool of so before the meeting he asks for time alone to think and rigs the building with explosives. When his premonition is right he sets off the planted C-4 and blows up the half of the building he is not in. This creates chaos and he escapes. His lover comes to him and apologizes and says that she was forced to do it but Carnegie knows that it is a lie and kills her. Then he meets the beautiful Jennifer Taylor and the two of them start dating. She is taken by his charm and he is taken by her beauty and compassion. They quickly fall in love and she helps him with the technical bits of the murders. A cop finds out and although he cares strongly for Jennifer as well, his hate of Carnegie as well of instinct of doing what is right overpowers his feelings for her. Carnegie escapes but Jennifer is caught and sentenced to death with the charge of many assisted murders. Clyde tries to rescue her, but all of his attempts are foiled. As he becomes more desperate the F.B.I. speeds up the process of Jennifer’s death. They tape her last words which is a message to Carnegie and when he sees it he realizes how truly awful death is. It is the first time he experiences the other end of it. Instead of anger, he feels tremendously depressed and guilty for Jennifer’s death and contemplates suicide. He then scratches that idea as that would involve death and now he is trying to avoid it.  Carnegie stops the murders and makes a new identity for himself. He tries to start a new life and ignore his haunting past. In fact he goes so far as trying to apply for a job as a police officer. Although he has new and fake paperwork, it isn’t perfect and he is soon discovered for his original identity. When a cop finds out he is furious at him and labels him responsible for the death of his best friend and Jennifer. He then kills
    him with his own hands.

    Lt. William Carver is a renown police with a highly respected team of cops. They are relentless and solve the most difficult cases. His best friend and fellow squad member is murdered by Carnegie in an attempt to escape. Carver makes a vow to find and kill Carnegie no matter what the cost. However, there is also the lovely Jennifer Taylor who works at his favorite cafe. He visits the cafe quite often and develops feelings for her. The two of them become close friends. Carver’s feelings for her become stronger and more passionate. Unfortunately, the man she chooses is Clyde Carnegie and Carver does not know at first. He finds out while doing a break-in assignment and discovers that Jennifer Taylor has been assisting him in staying unknown as the two of them are now in love. Once Carver finds this out he has a choice to make. He could take out Carnegie but will also sentence Jennifer to the death penalty as well or he could let them both walk free and must resign from the force. After his difficult choice, Jennifer is dead and Carnegie is still out there somewhere. He decides to send Carnegie the last message from Jennifer in hopes of flushing him out. His plan works and all of a sudden the man nicknamed Mister Sinister disappears. A new applicant at the police department is found to have the same personal information as Carnegie and Lt. Carver realizes that it is him with a new identity. Carnegie explains that he is trying to turn his life around, but Carver still hates him for the death of his friend and hates him even more for the death of Jennifer. He kills him himself and decides to leave the police force. He finishes unhappy as now his best friend and the girl of his dreams are both dead. Also, the project he had invested so much time in got way too personal for him He has no motivation to do anything now that it is over. And although there is a murder to his name, the commissioner understands his reasoning and will exonerate him by saying he was under orders to kill the menace named Mister Sinister by any means necessary. However, the commissioner recommended that he leave as to squall any possible controversy or uproar. The commissioner thanks him for his services and Lt. Carver receives the Chicago Police Recognition Medal for his years of work. William Carver now feels lost and without a purpose. He declines the medal and walks away empty.

  269. aharrison 23 May 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Hi! I’ll de-lurkify to take a stab at some name suggestions for Sabi and Zion.

    Sabi -> Sabii (think Latin, say-BEE-eye), Sabees, Sabish

    Zion -> Zeds, Zides (Zie-dees)

    Also wanted to say that I love the site. It’s helping me crystallize some story ideas I’ve mulling over for a long time. I should get over my fears and post one or two.

  270. B. McKenzieon 23 May 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Hello, The Writer. Here are some thoughts and suggestions.

    –Clyde is your main character/point-of-view character, right? My main concern with the premise is probably that he’s desperately unlikable and one-dimensionally evil (e.g. he’s a serial killer that calls himself Mr. Sinister). Additionally, so far, it doesn’t sound like he has the charm, style or depth to make a villain-as-main character story work.

    –Clyde’s motivations could be stronger and more intuitive, I think. He’s afraid of death, so he becomes a serial killer/assassin? How does this help him overcome his fear of death? It might help to go with the enjoyment angle rather than fear—he enjoys killing small things and works his way up to humans, maybe because he’s a thrillseeker and/or psychotic.

    –“He takes on the nickname Mr. Sinister…” I think I would have passed on the manuscript at this point, because I feel that a character that is aware that he is evil is probably too one-dimensionally evil to have much depth. (As a point of reference, even the Nazis, KKK and Al Qaeda think/thought of themselves as noble). I’d recommend checking out Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs for an example of how to do a deranged, incredibly violent character without making him feel like a caricature.

    –One recurring trend here is that characters have a remarkable and implausible tendency to develop and maintain romantic feelings for characters they know to be serial killers. I’m not seeing this at all—if an FBI employee and renowned police officer discovered that their lovers were serial killers, wouldn’t that probably kill off any romance which might have existed?

    –I would recommend ironing out some of the details to make the character more distinct. For example, the Guy Fawkes mask would probably bring V for Vendetta to mind. The fedora-wearing psycho might bring Rorschach to mind.

    –“He falls in love with a woman who works for the FBI and makes her promise to keep him safe… while she did have strong feelings for him, her intention the whole time was to lead him to his doom.” Uhh… he’s a serial killer and she’s FBI. I’m not quite sure it would be believable that she develops strong (positive) feelings for him. Setting him up does sound very believable, though.

    –Not a huge problem now, but as you develop the ideas here, I’d recommend trying to make the fake meeting scene as logically tight as possible. The FBI knows where he is but isn’t paying close enough attention to notice him rigging a building with explosives? Where’d he get that much C4? How does he know how to use it? (I’m not familiar with explosives by any means, but doing substantial damage to a building would likely require hundreds of pounds of explosives, even if he was a professional demolitionist).

    –This character doesn’t strike me as a promising candidate for villain-as-main-character. Sounds short on style and likability.

    “His lover comes to him and apologizes… he kills her.” It seems unbelievable to me that she’d come back to him. Also, I’m not sure why he’d agree to meet with her in the first place. (She already set him up once–giving his location to her would probably be very unsafe).

    “He meets the beautiful Jennifer Taylor and the two of them start dating. She is taken by his charm… They quickly fall in love and she helps him with the technical bits of the murders.” Believability. First, the FBI is presumably out there looking for him and probably has posters for him everywhere (particularly if the bombing killed any FBI agents), and he’s putting himself out there enough to start dating? Second, this is now two women that fall for him even though he’s a serial killer, including an FBI employee and a woman who helps him commit murders even though she’s compassionate and doesn’t apparently have any history of violence or psychological issues.

    “Carnegie escapes but Jennifer is caught and sentenced to death with the charge of many assisted murders. Clyde tries to rescue her, but all of his attempts are foiled. As he becomes more desperate the F.B.I. speeds up the process of Jennifer’s death.” I wonder if this break from realism–a suspect being tried and executed in weeks or months rather than 5+ years–might strain the suspension of disbelief for some readers. The preparation for the trial alone would take months (although I think you’re okay skipping over the appeals process—a lot of superhero stories just pretend there isn’t one). I’d recommend running this past more casual readers to see what they think.

    It feels contrived to me that, of all the people in the world Carver could fall in love with, he happens to fall in love with Carnegie’s accomplice. (Maybe she intentionally flirts with him because she learns he’s somehow involved in the case against Carnegie?) Relatedly, it would be somewhat contrived if Carnegie just randomly happened to fall for somebody who happened to be an FBI employee.

    It might feel contrived that Carnegie just happens to apply at the police station where Carver (the guy formerly dating JT) works. Is this a coincidence? Or did he choose that particular station for some reason?

  271. Edgukatoron 24 May 2012 at 6:20 am

    @The Writer

    If I can just add to what McKenzie said: There is actually a documented history of otherwise intelligent women falling in love with serial killers, but it is normally predicated on the delusion that they can change him or total denial about what he did. I would suggest researching people like Doreen Lioy, Carol Ann Boone, Anna Eriksson and Rosalie Martinez. It may provide a more believable foundation to your story.

  272. The Writeron 24 May 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I wrote that overview a couple months ago and have since found out that Mr. Sinister is an X-Men character. On top of that I think B. McKenzie is right about how he would view his work as justified and not wrong. The idea about the mask and hat are true, also and I have since removed them. I am still trying to figure out how he would disguise himself. The part where the FBI agent loves him and then sets him up is going to be an elaborate plan to capture him because he is pretty slippery. I have also since decided that Clyde searches for the woman who set him up and kills her. Another idea is that Jennifer Taylor is partly psychotic and the idea of Clyde’s occupation thrills her. Then maybe she becomes flirtatious with Lt. Carver.

  273. B. McKenzieon 24 May 2012 at 3:48 pm

    “I have also since decided that Clyde searches for the woman who set him up and kills her.” Okay, that makes a lot of sense.

    “Another idea is that Jennifer Taylor is partly psychotic and the idea of Clyde’s occupation thrills her. Then maybe she becomes flirtatious with Lt. Carver.” Okay, that also makes sense.

    Then I think my main remaining issue would be whether Clyde is interesting and likable enough that readers would want to follow his point of view. What do you think about making Carver the main character? He strikes me as deeper and more likable–in particular, the most interesting decision in the story that I’ve seen so far is Carver declining the medal for killing the criminal. He comes across as unusually believable and totally un-Hollywood.

  274. The Writeron 24 May 2012 at 3:59 pm

    What I was intending to do (I have not started writing any of it yet) was have them split between leads. Like every chapter switches perspectives. I also wanted to add more humanity to Clyde and show him struggling with what to do with his life to make him more relatable to real people. An idea that just struck me was how would he get into the killing business anyway? I was thinking that he kills the boss of the company he works at to get part of the life insurance and maybe a promotion. However, this plan backfires and although he does get some of the payout, the company’s stock collapses and it is shut down by the new CEO. This means Clyde loses his job and seeks a new one. He then murders the man that shut down the company thus putting his future of murder even more possible.

  275. B. Macon 24 May 2012 at 5:53 pm

    One possible development arc:
    “Murder” #1: He stages his own murder (or an egregious injury) to collect insurance money.

    Murder #2: An insurance agent starts asking uncomfortable questions and is so close to the truth that Clyde kills him in the heat of the moment, probably doing his best to make it look like an accident. He might feel very guilty/sick (maybe even suicidal) about this.

    Murder #3: A criminal (possibly someone who has had a run-in with the deceased insurance agent and guessed that his death was not an accident) offers Clyde money to kill another person. Let’s say Clyde accepts but is very queasy about the whole thing–maybe he accepts because it’d be difficult for him to get a legitimate job (because he’s supposedly dead?) and/or because the insurance settlement has been compromised.

    Murder #4: The criminal from before comes to Clyde with another job to kill a second person. Clyde might say no. Maybe the criminal threatens to expose Clyde if he doesn’t finish what he started. Clyde kills again, but doesn’t feel nearly as uneasy about it as last time. Maybe he rationalizes this because he thinks it’s okay to kill bad people for money. After all, that criminal would have killed somebody else if he had survived. So killing the criminal saved a life.

    Murder #5+: He kills criminals for pay. For emotional depth, you might put him in a situation where his uneasiness about killing non-criminals threatens his job (e.g. see Scarface). You could use that as a dramatic obstacle–if he hesitates on pulling the trigger on a police officer, it might put his life in danger.

  276. The Writeron 24 May 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I was thinking about having Clyde kill innocent people without much justification to the rest of the population and that is why Carver is out after him. But the idea about the insurance agent sounds really good.

  277. B. McKenzieon 24 May 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks–feel free to use it.

  278. ekimmakon 03 Jun 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Yep. We’re getting spammed again.

  279. Aniketon 04 Jun 2012 at 2:47 am

    My superhero story is about an Indian demigod — Kalki (inspired from Indian mythology – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalki), who is the 10th incarnation of Lord Vishnu… The story is dark toned… I am confused about his origins. I have 2 origins but don’t know which 1 is better –
    1) He is born on Earth & later realises who he is & what is his mission
    2) One night at midnight, He crash lands on earth like a meteorite & starts with his mission…
    He is on earth to destroy evil & if he fails within a specific time, he’d have to destroy earth itself (he is brutal, weilds a fiery sword, an antihero, kills bad guys without remorse)… While he’s on earth, he becomes fond of some people (possibly the female lead & others) & they try to convince him that earth still can be a better place… The main villain Kali cannot be, apparantly, destroyed/killed as he resides in every living being on earth (including our hero), so the only way to end Kaali’s reign on earth is to destroy earth. On the judgement day, Kali appears in his demonic form & there is an intense battle between the 2 superpowers… The villain is much powerful due to the amount of evil inside him… So the hero has to decide whether to give in & destroy earth to end Kaali’s reign or to keep fighting even when he is near death & find a way to destroy him & save earth…
    I need a review & feedback, please! And btw, I have another parallel superhero story happening in the same universe as that of Kalki, which I will share later.

  280. YellowJujuon 04 Jun 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Would making parts of my book comic and some parts novel work? Or would that be weird? I draw better than I write but I don’t want to do a whole comic, but want to do some.

  281. B. McKenzieon 05 Jun 2012 at 2:11 am

    “Would making parts of my book comic and some parts novel work?” For a professional publisher, probably not. You might be able to publish a novel and comic book with the same characters, but they’d be separate works with probably separate publishers.

  282. Morpheus&Prometheuson 31 Jul 2012 at 7:33 pm

    B.Mac, you had a chance to look at the e-mail I sent you?

  283. stephanon 31 Jul 2012 at 8:34 pm

    heyo! been reading on this site for a while, and was wondering if i could get a review forum for a juicy superhero story that i want to turn into a free web series.

  284. B. McKenzieon 01 Aug 2012 at 1:13 am

    Morpheus & Prometheus, I have responded to your email. I have a question about one of the paragraphs, but I anticipate that the article will go up today (August 1).

  285. B. McKenzieon 01 Aug 2012 at 1:26 am

    I’ve set it up for you here, Stephan.

  286. stephanon 02 Aug 2012 at 8:40 pm

    thank you

  287. Ruth Masseon 14 Aug 2012 at 7:19 am

    Hi, I was wondering if you could recommend a comic book / graphic novel for me. I have never read anything in this genre unless Norman Thelwell’s work counts. I’m interested in expanding my horizons but don’t know where to start.

    I’m a fantasy and science fiction reader in general. I have watched most of the big blockbuster movies but I’m not sure how representative they really are of the genre. I’m a very visual person so I would prefer not for the pictures to be too explicit or gory since I’d have a hard time forgetting them. I’m still having the occasional nightmare from The Village.

    I’m 28 (female) so I don’t want anything too childish but also don’t want anything that leaves me feeling suicidal at the end. I’m a tough crowd!

    So do you have any suggestions? Preferably something my county library would have in stock somewhere.

    Thanks :-)

  288. C_C_Son 15 Aug 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I have a few questions about how to add redeemable qualities to a character and her personality. Would I need a forum for that or should I do something else?

  289. C_C_Son 15 Aug 2012 at 6:49 pm

    I also don’t know how to edit comments… Sigh, such a n00b

    It’d basically be about different personalities for different characters and questions I have about them….

  290. B. McKenzieon 15 Aug 2012 at 9:12 pm

    “I also don’t know how to edit comments…” Yeah, sorry about that. As far as I know, this WordPress theme only lets you edit your comments if you’re a moderator or administrator. My apologies.

  291. Anonymouson 26 Jan 2013 at 9:16 am

    thank you this is useful but can i know the tecnics and some sentence structures to write a short story, if my hero has a master mind to solve his problems and my super villain is a profosser that an create and chemical to nearly kill anyone how can i make it interesting
    to tell why are they fighting.so can i please have ideas about these, it really helps me in my work!!! :D

  292. Watcher in the Wingson 28 Jan 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Hey, I’ve been reading on this site for several weeks and it has helped me immensely (particularly with realism and characters). I have the basis of a story and would appreciate some feedback.

    It’s set in a country of my imagination called Icaria. The country is at war with their neighboring country Bacara (this comes into play later). The protagonist Alec Kyles is the son of the brilliant scientist John Kyles. His father worked for the military for several years, working almost solely on the prospect of mechanical limbs for the use of soldiers or handicapped civilians. At some point the main antagonist Adarian Radaker approaches him, demanding that he hand over his research or face dire consequences. The father refuses, thinking nothing of his threats. But soon There is an accident which results in Alec losing his right arm and his brother Jaime’s death.

    The father buries himself in his work, unintentionally growing distant from his remaining son Alec. One day the father disappears. Alec has nowhere to go and meets a surgeon named Dr. George Roberts whom takes him under his wing. When Alec turns fifteen he receives a package from two guards who tell him his father instructed them to deliver it to him on that day.

    In the package is a mechanical right arm and instructions on how to install it. The arm can connect to Alec’s central nervous system after he under goes a surgery that attaches a kind of connector to his shoulder (this is conducted by Dr. Roberts). After the arm is integrated Alec learns to remove, reattach, and repair the arm (this becomes very necessary). Alec also learns martial arts, including one form for one armed use. He adds weapons to the arm such as a smoke bomb launcher, a caltrop deployer (spikes that impale your feet upon being stepped on, and a mini explosive launcher

    After becoming used to this arm he sets out to find out what happened to his father. The father had been kidnapped by Adarian. Adarian tortured him until he gave up the plans for the arm (I figured this was more realistic than the whole “I’ll never tell you” cliche). Alec later meets Leo Valdez, a man who was once Adarian’s head body guard. Leo had tried to quit after Adarian began undergoing genetic experiments on people including his other guards/mercenaries. Adarian then forcibly injected him with lion DNA, finding it fitting due to his name and persona. This allows Leo to transform into a half lion half human hybrid at will.

    Leo and Alec agree to hunt down Adarian in pursuit of answers, revenge, and Alec’s father whom he believes to be alive.

    Adarian also replaced Leo as head body guard with a girl named Selena whom he has raised since infancy to believe he had rescued her when her parents attempted to abandon and kill her (he actually kidnapped her because she lacked a left arm, making her a perfect candidate for his armored and weaponized version of the mechanical arm). Selena was train ed in several martial arts and assassination. Her weapons include a wrist and elbow blade integrated into the arm, a tripwire launcher, hidden knives in her shoes, and a katana. Alec and Leo later rescue her when Adarian leaves her to die at their hands in a burning building.

    Alec isn’t a super hero per say, he is more of a vigilante. He wan’t even interested in helping others until an incident where he failed to save a little girl when he was going after one of Adarian’s conspirators (who he fails to capture making the girl’s death all the more traumatic for him). He then resolves to help as many people as he possibly can.

    Any tips, observations, or feed back would be very helpful!

  293. Watcher in the Wingson 28 Jan 2013 at 4:45 pm

    I forgot to mention that Selena decides to help them in request for revenge on Adarian after Leo and Alec rescue her and she learns the truth about her kidnapping. I also may or may not decide to make Selena a possible love interest for Alec, though the possible relationship might be more of one of them liking the other but the other not feeling the same way.

  294. Ringson 29 Jan 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I’m doing a story with a team of four heroes that work for a government agency. The characters in the team are as follows

    Zephyr- speed flyer. He’s bit of a hot head and over estimates himself. He’s been known to refer to himself as “the Zephyr” or call himself the fastest guy around. He’s not so into teams and I plan on him quitting at some point.

    Guardian (name pending)- no powers (possible enhanced strength), honed reflexes and combat skills. Guardian is very cautious in battle with supers, often standing back to analyze his opponent before striking.

    Aquaria- water manipulation. Aquaria is pretty much the opposite of what her powers would suggest; extrovert, spontaneous, wild, tomboy. Aquaria is guilty of screwing up a stealth mission every now and again or causing tension for the hell of it. She’s a bit of a femme fatale

    Volta- electric powers. She tries to keep the team together through tough times, which is very difficult at times. She is Zephyr’s sister, though she often tries not to make that fact public. She is also quiet and more of an introvert. I may or may not give her a crush on Guardian

    Their main enemy is known as “King”. King has several powers he gave himself through experimentation. Some powers include laser vision, highly heightened senses, super strength and incredible speed, not to mention flight. King also has a team of six minor villains called the “knights”

    Points in the story I might include:
    After Zephyr quits he either gets attacked by King or the Knights (probably the knights since King isn’t really a do-it-yourself kind of guy)

    Guardian and Zephyr spar after a big argument, preferably after a point of high tension, and Guardian kick’s his butt causing him to quit in anger and injured pride.

    Guardian gets hospitalized in a knights ambush after Zephyr quits (their strategy is screwed up after he leaves)

    Their first fight with King ends up with them all highly injured/beaten down.

    Volta and Aquaria capture a knight

    Things I need help with: Guardian’s name is okay but I wouldn’t mid suggestions. King’s name will be changed and I need help with that. A name for the organization. help with major plot points. Should I add a couple more heroes to the team?

    King will definitely not be human and his origin will be edited. I want him to be almost like a mythical figure or an alien.

    I would be grateful for anything anyone could help with.

  295. Anonymouson 31 Jan 2013 at 2:53 am

    to watcher of the rings, this is an amazing idea,and it is very imaginative.:D :D :D

  296. Watcher in the Wingson 31 Jan 2013 at 1:58 pm

    @anonymous

    Thanks for the the support! I’d been playing around with the idea of a mecha arm for a while and originally had the idea of giving him a secret identity, which would be inexplicably difficult.

  297. B. McKenzieon 31 Jan 2013 at 7:12 pm

    “I’d been playing around with the idea of a mecha arm for a while and originally had the idea of giving him a secret identity, which would be inexplicably difficult.” Maybe he has a hologram generator built into the arm so that it looks normal at a glance?

  298. Watcher in the Wingson 04 Feb 2013 at 9:48 am

    The hologram idea is interesting, it would certaintly go along with the cyberpunk style of the story. What do you guys think about having Selena have a mecha arm similar to Alec’s? Like I said it would be more aaadjusted to assassinationa nad combat and more weaponized, or should Alec’s be the only one?

  299. B. McKenzieon 04 Feb 2013 at 4:18 pm

    My personal preference would be to have the characters have capabilities as distinct as possible–I think Alec’s mecha arm would probably be more special if Selena didn’t have something pretty similar (and vice versa).

  300. Watcher in the Wingson 05 Feb 2013 at 9:46 am

    I understand that but the reason would make sense. Adarian wants the plans for the arm and tortures Dr. Kyles until he gives them up then creates the first of what he hopes to be many mechanized soldiers.

  301. Watcher in the Wingson 05 Feb 2013 at 9:46 am

    For more info about Alec see my comment in the super hero questionaire article

  302. Atomic Geniuson 26 Feb 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I’m developing a novel where my anti-hero has the ability of Cryokinesis, but I am having trouble coming up with unique and creative ways that he can use this power. I don’t want readers to say “Oh, he’s just like Iceman” I want them to say “Wow, Iceman couldn’t even do that. Any suggestions?

  303. B. McKenzieon 26 Feb 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Atomic Genius, if the character’s personality/distinguishing traits and goals/motivations are fleshed out, I think his use of superpowers (and more generally his actions and dialogue) will fall into place. For example, Darth Vader was hardly the first character out there with telekinesis, but he was the first willing to use it to publicly choke a high-ranking captain… in front of his own boss! Closer to my own writing, there are hundreds of characters out there that are athletic enough to flip down from a ceiling and intimidate an accountant, I don’t think there are many characters out there that could pull off this scene in The Taxman Must Die. Even if they have the physical capability to do so, they don’t have the personality. If the character is getting opportunities to do things that most other characters would not do, it’s pretty much irrelevant how many other characters COULD do them.

  304. Atomic Geniuson 27 Feb 2013 at 2:10 am

    Ok, that certainly worked. Ever since i read your article on “Keeping your powers from getting stale” I started to question my character’s ability.

  305. Sketchon 27 Mar 2013 at 9:28 am

    I’m writing a super hero story in which a boy named Alex Marcoh is abducted by aliens and in his attempt to escape the ship he is accidentally infused with experimental alien technology, and shot off in an escape pod to a planet called Pallidae, which is basically a collection of many alien species living on the same planet, it has it’s own language to make cross species communication easier. Alex is unable to return to Earth because of the laws set up by the Multi Galactic Council to allow humanity to progress further in their evolution before showing them the existence of aliens. Is this an acceptable origin story? The technology allows him to create a large suit that can fire lasers, jump incredible distances, and perform other feats of physical power. The tech was designed for conquest and allows Alex to breathe in most atmospheres, and speak/understand most alien languages known by the abducting aliens. Along with your opinions on the origin what would be a good alias for him? One of the possibilities I thought up was BioMech since his powers stem from alien tech fused with his body, It looks like a ovular object on his back from which he can create the armor. Any help is appreciated!

  306. B. McKenzieon 27 Mar 2013 at 1:46 pm

    “I’m writing a super hero story in which a boy named Alex Marcoh is abducted by aliens and in his attempt to escape the ship he is accidentally infused with experimental alien technology, and shot off in an escape pod to a planet called Pallidae, which is basically a collection of many alien species living on the same planet, it has it’s own language to make cross species communication easier. Alex is unable to return to Earth because of the laws set up by the Multi Galactic Council to allow humanity to progress further in their evolution before showing them the existence of aliens.” I’d recommend incorporating at least one unusual choice/decision for the main character. Right now, he doesn’t have an active role in his origin story… he’s abducted, he’s not allowed to return to Earth, he’s accidentally infused with alien technology, and he gets sent to Pallidae… I’d recommend giving him more opportunities to be active because it’ll make him more memorable and distinctive.

    As for the alias…

    1) Does he need one? It doesn’t sound like he’s keeping his identity a secret.

    2) If he does need an alias, one possibility is that aliens give him a name which reflects that he’s generally the only/first human they’ve met and/or something else they find noteworthy about him. E.g. in The Taxman Must Die, the main character’s (derisive) callsign on a superpowered SWAT team is Taxman because being an IRS accountant is really unusual on a team where everybody else is a commando or mutant. If your callsigns are generally in the Modifier-Number form (e.g. Luke Skywalker’s Red 5, Cybersix, etc), something like Terran One or Terran [interesting noun] would make sense.

    3) Alternately, you could focus on something related to his personality and/or reputation rather than his demographics.

  307. Sketchon 28 Mar 2013 at 7:38 am

    @ B. McKenzie,

    I think you’re right about not needing an alias. As for his origin maybe while he’s escaping he’s cornered in a lab and and maybe grabs the ball (the form the suit takes before it bonds to his body) and uses it in an attempt to save himself? In response the ball fuses to his skin and integrates into his body. In this origin he could use it’s power to escape and it might cause the pod to malfunction. He could also be abducted because he does something that gets the aliens attention? He was an athlete before the abduction so maybe their interested in his physical capabilities?

  308. B. McKenzieon 28 Mar 2013 at 6:08 pm

    “As for his origin maybe while he’s escaping he’s cornered in a lab and and maybe grabs the ball (the form the suit takes before it bonds to his body) and uses it in an attempt to save himself?” Okay, I think this is a good start towards making him more active. It would be great if you could also give him something to do which most other characters wouldn’t do in the same situation (e.g. Peter Parker didn’t stop the robber, whereas most superheroes would have).

    “He could also be abducted because he does something that gets the aliens’ attention?” This is definitely a possibility, if you wanted to go down this path. However, since he appears to have been taken as some sort of test subject rather than as a hero-in-training, I don’t think readers would give you a hard time if the aliens just grabbed the first able-bodied human they could find alone. In contrast, if they had been choosing a human to induct into some sort of space-cop position (i.e. an important role), it’d be very… unusual* if they just grabbed the first guy they found.

    *Not that this is wrong… readers definitely would notice, though. It’d probably make the aliens look less than competent.

  309. Sketchon 02 Apr 2013 at 6:11 am

    I had the idea that the suit, being built for conquest, was supposed to make him like a weaponized drone for them to use. They are testing on humans for the same reasons we test medicines on animals. I’m not sure what he could do to make him more active and set him apart from other heroes.

  310. B. McKenzieon 02 Apr 2013 at 7:11 am

    “They are testing on humans for the same reasons we test medicines on animals.” I think this is a really interesting analogy. I’m liking it…

    “I’m not sure what he could do to make him more active and set him apart from other heroes.” I’d recommend checking out this article.

  311. Kavalieron 03 Apr 2013 at 8:37 pm

    B.Mac, I have some questions for you. I have recently read Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”, and am considering writing my own historical fiction novel about comic artists and writers.

    I’ll be referencing several historical figures in the industry (Jerry Siegel, Bob Kane, Stan Lee, etc.). And I’ll also be referencing characters like Superman, Batman, and the Flash.

    Two questions for you: I know that you can’t put copyrights on historical people, but would I get in trouble for referencing superheroes?

    Second question: Michael Chabon did a historical fiction novel on superheroes and comic writers and artists. Could I get in trouble with him for doing the same topic, or is there enough leeway in terms of plot to let me get away with that?

  312. B. McKenzieon 03 Apr 2013 at 9:18 pm

    “I know that you can’t put copyrights on historical people, but would I get in trouble for referencing superheroes?” I’d like to preface all of my answers here with the caveat that I’m not a lawyer. That said, my impression is that referencing them incidentally would be fine (e.g. the first Spider-Man movie used the phrase “You’re not Superman, you know”–you wouldn’t need DC’s permission to mention a character once). Using them as characters would be an instant-rejection.

    “Michael Chabon did a historical fiction novel on superheroes and comic writers and artists. Could I get in trouble with him for doing the same topic…” Caveat: I’m not a lawyer. No, he doesn’t have any sort of copyright on that, any more than Dan Brown could (unfrivolously) sue someone for writing books about dashing academics unwinding ridiculous conspiracies or Tom Clancy could sue you over a thriller set on submarines. If your characters and/or stories were so similar and/or derivative that an observer could reasonably mix the two up, then you’d have a problem.

    PS: One other (very rare) potential legal obstacle: getting sued for libel by someone like Stan Lee if your fictional portrayal of him is inaccurately demeaning. More details here. According to a leading legal scholar, “there are two relatively “safe” courses of action from a legal perspective: First, the author may make little or no attempt to disguise the character, but refrain from any defamatory and false embellishments on the character’s conduct or personality; second, the author may engage in creative embellishments that reflect negatively on the character’s reputation, but make substantial efforts to disguise the character . . . to avoid identification. [Otherwise] there is a threat of defamation liability… With a little rewriting, libel in fiction issues are almost always resolvable without significant detriment to a story line.”

  313. Dagger_Dropon 04 Jun 2013 at 9:29 pm

    The book i’m writing is set in a version of the world where the government is run by supers, of which there are very many. The story follows a sidekick named Alec Nichols. He has been applying for hero status for a couple of years and the government has been turning him down, mostly because he lacks powers. His mentor, Nightshade, suddenly goes missing and Alec sets out on a mission to find him when the government tells him they’ll dispatch a hero within two weeks. On his mission he joins with the former villain and current thorn-in-his-side Silver Specter (also known as Alicia Roberts), and an aspiring hero who can’t make up his mind on an alias named Jonah Davids.

    I wanted to know what everyone thought of the idea and if anyone has any suggestions for Alec’s code-name.

    Alec has no powers but is a master of a couple of martial arts. His weaponry includes a pair of batons with taser like ends that connect into a staff, retractable blades along his forearms, and fisticuffs. He and Nightshade operate primarily at night. Any suggestions would be very helpful.

  314. TheSuperon 17 Jun 2013 at 2:20 am

    My book is about a preteen with superpowers that gets sent to a superschool called Zeroan. At first he thinks he only has 2 powers, the ability to munipulate not only his friction but anything around him causeing him or the other item/person/animal to have great speeds at the time. His other beginner power is turning into and animal. The principle has the ability to see what powers others have. He finds a discovery that has never happened before (in this story). The main charecter doesn’t only have 2 powers but 5 all together. Here is the list of pwers I have so far.
    1.Friction minipulation
    2. Animal shape shifting
    3. Disolving anything like an acid by concentrating
    4. Animation (Makes things like statues, action figures, fossils ext. move around like they were alive.)
    Sadly I can’t think of the last power. Any suggestions?

  315. Dagger_Dropon 16 Jul 2013 at 11:54 am

    @B. Mac

    could you set up a review forum for me? I’d really appreciate it.

  316. Isabellaon 16 Jul 2013 at 7:14 pm

    @TheSuper

    I have some powers for you. :-)

    1.) Any element (air, earth, wid, fire, water, electricity, light, gravity, metal, etc., like Storm or Magneto)

    2.) Invisibility (Invisible Woman)

    3.) Teleportation (Nightcrawler)

    4.) Telekinesis (Jean Grey)

    5.) Telepathy (Charles Xavier, Jean Grey)

    6.) Voice manipulation

    7.) Fight (Pretty much everyone)

    8.) Intangibility (Kitty Pryde)

    9.) Hightened senses (Daredevil) You can have some fun with this one and give him a ‘Spidey-Sense’, where he can detect danger, murder, lying, etc.

    10.) Super speed (Quicksilver, Flash)

    However, just as a warning, you should keep it at just those powers. You don’t want fifteen different powers that have nothing in common (unless it’s something like weather manipulation, because then you control lighting, water, fire, air, etc.), because people will look at him as overpowered. The only exception to this is Superman, and that’s only because he’s been around for so long and is so popular that we’ve grown accustomed to that.

  317. GinTaskeon 28 Sep 2013 at 11:46 am

    hey i am new in this site and i must say nice tips..im also planning on making my own story but dont know how to put all character together. My characters powers are mainly
    1.super speed
    2. a normal dude with gadgets and tactical expertise
    3. a kid with ancient nanobots
    4. enhancement aura
    5. dark summoner
    6. dragon ability

  318. B. McKenzieon 28 Sep 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Hello, GinTaske. Some thoughts and suggestions:

    –I’m not sure how well the normal dude with gadgets and the person with the enhancement aura will actually be able to contribute to the team. It sounds like they will probably be seriously outclassed by most of their teammates.

    –It might be easier to work with 4 or perhaps 5 protagonists than 6 (because each character takes time and space that could be used to develop the others and because having many protagonists makes it harder to write interesting fight scenes). If this is your first book, I’d recommend getting down to 4 by removing or merging some of the characters into others. For example, if you really want a gadgeteer on the team, perhaps the guy with the nanobots could also have gadgets (or vice versa). If you really want an enhancement aura, perhaps that’s something the dark summoner or dragon could do.

  319. Firetypoon 03 Oct 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I need help.
    My super villian team is Toxite.
    The five current members are:
    Crow: Leader. Can fly, shoots black lasers from hands, and has reflexes like Daredevil/Spiderman.
    Reptilian: Immune to heat, can turn invisible, has claws, spits acid. Weakness is ice.
    Brute: Has super strength, torpedo/bullet/melee weapon proof skin. Weakness is his own brain. (He’s realy dumb.)
    Pha-roh: Covered in bandages like a mummy. Can extend the bandages like a tentacle up to 250 yards. Also can raise the dead. Weakness is fire.
    ???: Currently the only female member. Has power of memory wipe and giving massive headaches. Weakness is titanium. (Can use her powers people that are wearing it.)
    I need the girl’s name suggestions. Also, I’m trying to have a Teen Titans, Justice Leage effect, so any other villuan ideas would be nice.

  320. Glamtronon 04 Oct 2013 at 1:19 am

    @Firetypo this is one o’ my heroes but i don’t have any plot..so i just left it 4 now(or maybe for good).u can have someone who manipulates sound.. Like can shape a sound into another sound(e.g could convert the sound in a noisy place to sound of gun shots)or might change the key at which someone is singing to make it horrible.. This should be energy draining dpendin on d sound he manipulates/creates .ofcourse if he’s going to be a good guy he’ll be one cocky, annoying and cool brat! Hope this helps..

  321. Firetypoon 05 Oct 2013 at 6:56 pm

    @Glamtron Maybe he could be a villian. Maybe not. Hmmmm, I do need some heros to face the villians though. But to me this seems like a villian with terrible singing thing. Got it.
    Soundwave: Purple uniform with black stripes and a ripply SW on his chest. Villian.
    His rival is Mute-on.

  322. Isabellaon 05 Oct 2013 at 8:09 pm

    @Firetypo I just want to say right now that I might stray away from the idea of Brute being the incredibly-strong but insanely-dumb character of the group. That’s something that’s been going on for waaaay too long and too the point where it gets tedious. So just be careful with how you handle it.

    And some suggestions I have for names are:

    - Migraine

    - Vertigo (but I think vertigo is more nausea. And this is the name of a Marvel villain, so even though she’s not insanely popular, I think she was kind of high up there when the X-Men has the Morlock Massacre thing, so Marvel might have an issue with someone using that name)

    - Amnesia

  323. Glamtronon 05 Oct 2013 at 10:11 pm

    @firetypo i thought of him as a villain too. “Purple uniform with black stripes” u came up with that so fast.. Best of luck to the hero that counters him.

  324. Firetypoon 09 Oct 2013 at 7:15 pm

    @Isabella Er, I don’t want copyrite issues with Marvel, so I’ll stay away from Vertigo. As for the others, maybe. Not sure if I want to name her Migraine or Amnesia. There both great. (BTW Brutes the dumbest cause he’s hill-billyish)
    @Glamtron Thanks. I have a very…active imagination. I can think of costumes easy once I know the power.
    @Everyone who reads this
    Now I need a rival for Migraine/Amnesia, Crow, Brute, Reptilian, and Phar-Oh. Please forgive my spelling mistakes in the last posts I made.
    Here are some names I find villianish so if you can think of powers for these it be helpful.
    Bone, Brat, Fender, Gadget, Shard, Negativity, and Gumskull.
    (I’ve wrote books already 4 total, first book like this. My others were horror, but people suggested a book like this.)

  325. [...] don’t know where to look for fresh advice about designing your Superhero, here is a site at Superhero Nation that will give you some new perspective.  With ideas on how to avoid common cliches, advice on [...]

  326. BeatrixKiddoon 20 Sep 2014 at 7:36 am

    Hi everyone,

    Big ask I know and probably not what this site is for but I’ve been reading comments on this site and everyone seems to have so many ideas!

    Basically, I’m not an artist or a writer or even mad into comic books, but my partner loves marvel and comic books. I want to make him a comic for Xmas with him as the superhero. I have an artist who has agreed to do all the artwork but I’m struggling to come up with an interesting storyline. It will just be a one off comic book, obviously for personal use and I want to keep it fairly short.

    Some info about my partner: he’s 34, works in IT, likes computer games, visits the gym regularly, and loves his dog, Jack, more than life itself. He’s a little bit geeky but is very kind and very selfless. I’m thinking his super power wud be superstrength (as he would actually pick this as his chosen superpower) and possibly the ability to regenerate if injured. I want his dog to be involved, maybe as a sidekick but cannot think of a storyline at all tht will be short enuf for just a one off comic but interesting too.

    Is it important I start the comic with the origin of the superhero or shall I just jump straight into a story? And ideas for a plot/storyline from comic book experts would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance! :)

  327. B. McKenzieon 20 Sep 2014 at 10:42 am

    “I… cannot think of a storyline at all tht will be short enuf for just a one off comic but interesting too.”

    If you were thinking something along the lines of 22-24 pages or even a half-length comic of 10-12 pages, you could do a story introducing the character, his dog, and likely a criminal or some other major obstacle. If I were plotting out a 12 page half-comic, maybe something like 2-4 pages introducing the character’s non-super life (e.g. he’s talking with you or dealing with a challenge/problem at work), 4-6 pages of the character’s super life (e.g. his dog gets abducted by an archenemy and he rescues the dog), and 2-4 pages of resolution.

    (If you’d like to go significantly shorter than 12 pages, you could do a single scene between your partner and 1-2 other characters in, say, 1-6 pages. For example, I did a one-page comic as part of a thank you for Japanese family members which was just a humorous conversation between me and Godzilla, and I think that it came out looking nice enough that they could tell it was a major arts-and-crafts project even though it was just a page long*).

    *It came out to about 3 hours of art and 3 hours of writing for the single page.

    “Is it important I start the comic with the origin of the superhero or shall I just jump straight into a story? And ideas for a plot/storyline from comic book experts would be greatly appreciated!” If you were doing a full-length comic, you could start with the character’s origin (or at least mention it in passing), but if the story is significantly shorter (which I would recommend), then spending a lot of space on the origin would probably be an unnecessary complication taking away from the meat of the story.

  328. Mister_Magicon 03 Oct 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I know this is a superhero site but since you mentioned guns, violence, and crimes superheroes commit… I was wondering if you did different types of heroes like anti-heroes things like that.

    Which do you think is better a graphic novel or a regular comic book for a possible inter-connected series about a group of people coming together

  329. GApeach95on 17 Dec 2014 at 11:42 pm

    I am thinking about writing a superhero novel, but I want it to be more like Batman where there are not any actual superpowers. Any advice for that kind of novel and if I were to eventually have my characters form a league or group what would be an appropriate number of characters and what would the male:female ratio be?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  330. Alpha Flighton 18 Dec 2014 at 6:37 am

    Hi! For a “league”, well, there are two things you could have… A big justice league type thing, with lots of characters, or a group like avengers, fantastic four, etc. The justice league works because most, if not all, have their own comics to develop in, and the league brings seperately characters together (I’m more marvel than dc, so correct me if I’m wrong). They all have their own series where they develop, so no need to worry about developing 20+ characters. If you’re doing this all in one novel, I’d say joss whedon’s Avengers is the absolute maximum for characters. However, most of them have entire back story movies, so aim to have fewer characters, 4 is a good number. The hobbit is an excellent example of what NOT to do… 13 dwarves, bilbo and gandalf, and that’s just the main group. I had no idea who was who, and the dwarves had 0 differentiating characteristics… I probably would have dropped it at page 2 if I hadn’t forced myself to read it. With 4 characters, you have time to develop characters and it won’t be as confusing to the readers. As for male:female ratio, I’d say it’s up to you… But I’d try to have it about 1:4 up to 1:1 (if you’re doing a group of four, I’d put in at least one girl who is NOT a love interest, unless there is a reason no girls are allowed. You could also have an all girl group or 3 girls, 1 boy [who is NOT just a love interest]… It’s really up to you)
    As for a big league, I’d say it’s up to you, but the greek gods could be a good example if you’re really not sure. There were 12 seats and 6 girls, 6 boys, until Dionysus came and hestia left, making it 7:5. That’s a good ratio for a superhero book considering how the genre skews towards male.

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