Archive for September 5th, 2008

Sep 05 2008

Destroying the Earth: A How-To Guide

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.

This is a useful resource for anyone that might want to destroy the world.

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Sep 05 2008

Marvel Comics: Environmentalists are the Vanguard of an Alien Invasion?

Inquiring minds will want to check out Marvel’s Secret Invasion.

I’ve never been a fan of the Skrulls, Marvel’s standard shape-shifting alien villains.  Sort of like an Atlantean invasion, aliens feel so far removed from the standard Marvel setting that the effect is campy rather than sinister.  It’s also extremely hard to write an interesting alien invasion plot.  Marvel seems to be treating this plotline like it’s novel, but the concept of a secret alien invasion is pretty tired (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the second Wild Cards novel, Animorphs).  “Benevolent” alien invasions aren’t much better (The Day The Earth Stood Still and maybe The Happening).

I found the ads for Secret Invasion above-average, but more because the slogan “Embrace Change” is vaguely threatening and sounds like it came from a US political campaign.

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Sep 05 2008

John August on Coincidences in Fiction

John August did a post on writing a plot that isn’t contrived.  He focused on the role of coincidence. I found it highly useful…

Given a choice, try to find cause and effect. One event happens because of something else we’ve seen — ideally, something the hero himself has done.

Instead of having the hero accidentally overhear a key conversation, get him actively trying to listen. Or have an interested third party steer him in that direction — perhaps for his own reasons. At every juncture where a reader could ask “Why did that happen?”, try to have an answer that isn’t, “just because.”

CADET DAVIS ADDS: The most contrived plot I can think of is Heroes season 2.  Please consider the following…

  1. In the last two minutes of the first season, Sylar is nearly killed by a crowd of ten heroes but somehow slinks away into a sewer.  No one, including a psychopathic MPD victim or the police officer who was seriously wounded by Sylar, thinks to make sure that he’s dead or otherwise accounted for.
  2. The Company captures Sylar and keeps the formerly-superpowered serial killer in a zero-security facility with a single attendant that is tasked with restoring Sylar’s powers. There’s no reason to suspect that Sylar would have made a good employee under any circumstances, but how were they hoping that this would turn out?
  3. Sylar kills the attendant and walks out of the facility.  He tries to return to the US to find Suresh, but he drops of famine along the side of the road.  The first person to come across him is Maya, another superpowered person that’s looking for Dr. Suresh’s father.  What a lucky break!  Sure, why not come along?
  4. In spite of being wanted for murder and presumably not wanting to attract suspicion, Maya and her brother take Sylar along.  Do not pay attention to the gringo in the back seat!
  5. Peter’s failure to consider the possibility that Adam is evil starts out as implausible and gets so unbelievable that it strains the suspension of disbelief.  Peter knows the following facts:  The Company has held the virus for 30+ years without using it.  Shortly after Adam escapes, the virus is unleashed.  If you’re wondering whether Adam’s escape is related to the release of the virus, you’re already 5 episodes smarter than Peter.

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