Sep 24 2008

Which Origin Stories are Plausible?

One of our Google queries today was “can radiation give you superpowers?”

 

No. However, if you’re writing a superhero story, that doesn’t matter! Your readers will accept that tropes like radiation can give someone superpowers, so radiation makes for a completely plausible origin story. Except for intense training, it’s not like there’s any better alternative.  (In real life, one drug addict put his brain under so much neurological stress that his sense of smell sharpened to canine-like levels, but he died a few weeks thereafter.  Also, for obvious reasons, narcotics do not typically work well for superhero origin stories).

 

Here are some other origin stories that readers have generally come to accept.

  1. Cybernetics (Bionic Woman, Cyborg).
  2. Genetic engineering (Spiderman).
  3. Chemical enhancement (Green Goblin).
  4. Powersuits and/or exoskeletons (Iron Man, Steel).  I think that the Iron Man suit will be mostly scientifically viable within 30 years (but too expensive to be practical).
  5. Other technological hardware–for example, three-dimensional invisibility and technopathy (a mind-machine interface) will be viable within 30 years.
  6. Neurosurgery.  At the very least, we’ll probably be able to surgically enhance reflexes within 30 years.   Suppressing pain is a distinct possibility, although pain serves an important biological role (alerting the brain to danger–for example, if you’ve been in a car accident, pain is the clearest indicator of whether you’ve injured a limb and will help you know how far you can push your body without causing lasting damage).
  7. Ridiculously tough training (Batman, GI Joe).
  8. The hero belongs to a tougher-than-human species (Superman, possibly X-Men).
  9. Mutations, probably (X-Men, Heroes).
  10. Miracle operations (Kick-Ass).
  11. Stimulating the visual cortex so that skills can be learned extremely quickly (The Matrix).  There’s been some exciting work on this front recently.

 

Typically, plausible origin stories tend to be scientific.  Fortunately, you don’t have to have a strong grasp of scientific research to write a compelling origin story. Generally speaking, modern scientific research in fields like genetics is conducted by large teams of scientists that spend years on each project and have access to large budgets.  If you’re writing a superhero story, your readers will almost always accept that a single supergenius can perform unimaginable feats of science.  Reed Richards is apparently a world-class researcher in every branch of science, and he’s able to instantaneously solve problems that would probably take a real team of scientists decades.

 

Here are some other (incorrect) assessments of modern science that readers will usually accept.

  1. Superhero scientists rarely keep good notes.  When the doctor that created Captain America got killed, the formula for the serum was lost forever.  Whoops.  In real life, researchers keep exhaustive notes so that their experiments can be replicated.
  2. Superhero scientists rarely fail.  In real life, scientists would test hundreds of variations of a drug, which tends to make the process inordinately laborious and expensive.  But readers will accept that a superscientist tends to get it right almost immediately.
  3. A super-scientist can accomplish anything if he’s desperate enough.  Tony Stark built a powersuit in an Afghan cave and Norman Osbourne became the Green Goblin because he was willing to subject himself to premature tests.
  4. Every scientifically gifted high school student will be the best in the world if the plot calls for it.

323 responses so far

323 Responses to “Which Origin Stories are Plausible?”

  1. Tyon 15 Oct 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Good article. I’m usuing a combination of a bunch (mostly 5 and 6).

    But I want a whole team of people, and I remember Stan Lee saying in an interview that ‘Not every Hero could be bitten by a radioactive Spider or go into space and get hit by radiation, or a burst of Gamma radiation. So that’s when he came up with X-men’s origins, by creating a whole new species and saying they all have powers, he didn’t have to explain everyone’s individual origin.

    For me, I tried to think of somethin like that, what I came up with is: the past. 20, 000 years ago the earth was dominated by Super heroes who enslaved humans, but the humans rebelled and somehow won and they destroyed their history (which i think makes it more plausible, stories of Atlantis could be linked to it) then the ‘super heroes’ went into hiding and slowly emereged, inter-bred with the humans and every few hundred years the ‘super hero dna’ takes a more dominant position.

    I think it’s interesting because while a hero today could have amazing powers, that doesn’t mean his son would. It could be used to explain people like Alexander the great, Hitler, Robin hood, Jesus. Plus I’ve heard (altough I don’t know if it’s true) that some genetic traits do skip generations (diseases, bladness, and I heard about white women marrying white men and having black children because her grandmother was black…although that could just be a cover story for a cheating wife.) But again, I think it’s still a plausible origin story.

  2. Jacobon 15 Oct 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Genetics is a very fertile field for the authors of superhero stories. It’s also very intuitive to readers and more relatable than magic or aliens. Another aspect I love about genetics is that there are enough real-life biological quirks that you can tailor the biology to fit your story. For example, in real-life some traits (like eye-color and a vulnerability to alcoholism) can skip generations.

    Another quirk you can add is that some traits are the result of several genes, which may be a combination of dominant and recessive. If that were true for superness in your world, it would be possible for two non-super people to have a super kid or for two super people to have a non-super kid.

  3. Ragged Boyon 05 Nov 2008 at 4:46 pm

    You left out Mystical origins i.e Dr. Strange. As long as it’s not too crazy I think it works. Dr. Strange is a really good example. Magic origins have a lot of potential and can be very diverse, but there is also a large chance of failure

  4. Jacobon 05 Nov 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Well, the title of the article was “What Origin Stories are Plausible?” By definition, a magical origin story is not plausible. Also, I’d agree with you that magical superheroes are very risky (I’d estimate they fail more than 90% of the time).

    Magical heroes are harder to work with because they have to be carefully segregated from nonmagical heroes/villains. It’s almost impossible for a story to work when some characters are magical and others have more realistic origins. For example, when Spiderman does battle with a wizard or a werewolf, it will feel much hokier than if American Dragon or Sailor Moon were to do the same.

    As a result, I’d say that a magical-superhero story could only succeed if it were thoroughly infused with magic, so much that the magical element affects the core audience, tone, mood, etc. In contrast, a story like Spiderman or Superman is free to use its scientific origin as a quick and disposable introduction to the story and never mention the science again. In contrast, magic is really an elephant that will constantly have the attention of the audience.

  5. B. Macon 05 Nov 2008 at 5:42 pm

    I’d also consider the audience’s age-range. If you want to sell to an audience older than 15, I think magical origin stories are sales Kryptonite. The best comparable stories I can think of are cartoon shows like Sailor Moon, American Dragon, Jackie Chan Adventures and Juniper Lee. Those cap out at about 13-15, I think. The problem is that magical origin stories don’t feel serious enough for older readers, I suspect. In the world of comic books, there are very few magical heroes with an established audience. The main examples I can think of are Dr. Strange and Zantanna. In terms of popularity and the depth of publication, they aren’t exactly A-listers. I doubt they’re even B-listers.

    CAVEAT: There is a well-established audience of older readers for high-fantasy novels like Eragon. So why will the same readers that like LOTR pass on Dr. Strange? Long story. I think the main difference is that superhero stories appeal to older readers because they happen in a world very much like ours. It’s very difficult to make a magical world–even an urban fantasy–feel like ours. Similarly, space opera superhero stories are very hard to sell even though they are conceptually similar to best-selling series like Star Wars and Star Trek.

  6. Ragged Boyon 05 Nov 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Aaaah, Scary odds. I wanted to make a magic superhero. (90% fail, that’s scary). Well Harry Potter goes a little higher than 15 years of age, and Dr. Strange at least hits 20. I think all you have to do is be a little serious in tone, but not be too strict. Adding darker elements like demons and such would probably up the age range. Now, I’m scared to write a magic hero.

  7. B. Macon 05 Nov 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Harry Potter (and other fantasy novels like LOTR) go substantially higher than 15 despite having magic. However, a magical superhero story is usually different than a fantasy story in a few important ways. Crucially, a superhero story is usually set on modern Earth. Harry Potter is also set on modern Earth, but it’s clearly more of a fantasy story than a superhero story. So it might not be very useful for determining what kind of superhero stories can work.

    Yeah. I think writing a magical superhero story for older readers would be very difficult. Not impossible, though. The Dresden Files would probably be an ideal example of a sort-of-superhero that used magic. The writer tried to fit the magical hero into the “gritty private eye” subgenre, which gave the story a seriousness that tends to elude most magical superhero stories.

  8. Guvon 09 Nov 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I have been thinking of this idea lately (it’s still vague) and decided to research how to write an effective superhero novel and I’m glad I came across this site.

    My character’s name is Wes Larkin, a high school senior capable of self-propelled flight. What sort of personality is that suggesting to you guys? Anyway, his origin story goes something like this: Wes is involved in a car accident that leaves him fatally injured and comatose. At the hospital, some shady doctors/scientists experiment on him and that’s how he gets his abilities. Was thinking of adding some other abilities to flight, like super strength, speed…and maybe even energy manipulation (launching fireballs DBZ style) but I don’t know how to explain that with the genetic manipulation I have in mind.

    Thinking of aiming for audiences between 16 and 24 or somewhere thereabouts. Would really like it if I got some ideas to spur me on…what other angles could I add to the story? Thinking Smallville meets Ultimate Spiderman…would that work?

  9. Jacobon 10 Nov 2008 at 12:54 am

    Here are some thoughts, Guv.

    If you’d like to explain a few other superpowers (like strength, speed and energy manipulation) you could probably handle all of that with genetic engineering. For example, you could say that the doctors spliced the kid’s genes with the genes of stronger animals to make his body produce denser and thicker muscles.

    Depending on how fast you want the kid to go, you could say that the doctors genetically engineered his leg muscles and enhanced his lung capacity. Cheetahs can go 65-70 mph for short bursts, which is pretty damn fast. If you’d like to go at significantly faster speeds, it may help to make use of cybernetics. As for energy manipulation, some animals have the ability to discharge electricity (like eels and jellyfish). So you could explain the ability with genetic engineering. On the other hand, if you’d like to give your character the ability to use ridiculously large and powerful lasers (a la DBZ), cybernetics would be a more plausible alternative.

    On a balancing note, I’d suggest making your character superstrong or superfast, but not both. If he is both superstrong and superfast, it will be very hard for you to challenge him. In contrast, a character that is just superstrong could have an interesting scene where he had to rescue a few hostages, for example.

    I like the character’s name and I find his origin story interesting. A 16-24 audience sounds pretty doable, although typically a novel’s hero is slightly older than the readers. If it wouldn’t affect your plot very much, it may help to make him a college student. Anyway.

    As for his personality, I’d recommend coming up with something that fits the story and creates a strong conflict with the villains, rather than fits his power. However, if you wanted to make a character who personified the power to fly, I imagine that he’d be some combination of idealistic, hopeful, optimistic, creative or aloof. That feels a bit cliche, but not nearly as bad as a brash-and-reckless fire elementalist.

    Here are some other angles you might consider:

    1. Does anyone else have such powers?
    2. Why did the doctors experiment on him? What did they hope to get out of it?
    3. Why does Wes become a superhero? Tangling with serious criminals, many of whom have superpowers, is very hard work. Hopefully you’ll give readers something more interesting than “he’s a comic books fan and has always wanted to be a superhero.”
    4. He was in a coma after the accident, right? Has a significant amount of time elapsed? When he comes back to high school, are his friends still around or have they gone off to college already? If he had a girlfriend, did she stay faithful or did she start dating someone else as soon as it looked like he was out of the picture?
    5. Has his personality changed since the accident? It’s not unusual for victims of severe mental trauma to change dramatically. For example, he may have been a jock before but is now a lot more intellectual (or vice versa). Do his friends still accept him for who he is?
    6. How does being a superhero tie into the usual things that a high school senior does? Does it interfere with the usual schoolwork/dating/college application/job stuff?
  10. Guvon 10 Nov 2008 at 5:26 am

    Thanks for the ideas, Jacob. You’ve given me some nice angles to think about.

    My idea was that Wes would be chosen for the experiment due to his condition. The doctors see a good opportunity to test the extent of their genetic breakthrough; the gene splicing has worked with some earlier human tests (source of the villains?) but they were all perfectly healthy…Wes presents them with the chance for further investigation- a random shot in the dark in the name of science.

    As for the villains, I’m thinking a handful will have experienced a similar origin but I don’t want to overplay that angle, so I’ll mix in some mutant villains with their own unique origins where possible but largely just regular criminals. I still have to figure out why Wes becomes a superhero (minus the tights)…was thinking I slowly work him out to picking up the superhero mantle…starts by reluctantly saving the people around him, but then starts to see his abilities as a gift, a responsibility, a duty even…he has the ability to make a difference, so why not use it?

    I’m working on his personality and personal life prior to the accident. Liked the idea of his girlfriend moving on in his absence…think I’ll use that; a lot of dramatic potential. Thanks!

  11. Guvon 12 Nov 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Hey Jacob, any feedback on my explanation for Wes becoming a superhero? Been thinking more and more about the story and I think explaining Wes and why he does what he does would go a long way in understanding him and making him more relatable…would like to hear your thoughts on my idea too, B. Mac. How could I develop it further? The creation process seems interminably tortuous…

  12. B. Macon 12 Nov 2008 at 6:34 pm

    If I had to add anything, I’d speculate that the doctors are worth developing further. There’s probably a story behind why a group of people starts doing research that could give someone superpowers. I imagine the research is secret, frustrating and possibly dangerous, so I think that I’d like to know what’s driving them. What’s the end goal– what do they hope to achieve when they have the ability to give superpowers? Are they volunteers or is someone else coercing them? Is an antagonist involved somehow?

    As for the selection of Wes, the comatose teen. So your doctors have done past tests on humans and now would like to try tests on a comatose human. Why would they want to move from live to comatose humans? Perhaps the initial tests were highly dangerous and they don’t want to risk harming someone unless he’s already as-good-as-dead anyway. That’s one explanation. Another, perhaps more interesting one, is that they do not anticipate Wes waking up. Maybe these powers are TOO dangerous and they want to give them only to a coma victim because they don’t think that a coma victim will ever use them to endanger people. Then, when he wakes up, he escapes from the doctors. (Or maybe they part on better terms than that. Your call, obviously).

    Perhaps the experiments and operations also risk mental damage.

  13. Jacobon 12 Nov 2008 at 7:49 pm

    What about the villains? While the doctors are interesting, usually it’s the villains that drive the story. (For example, it’s always Superman responding to Lex Luthor rather than vice versa).

  14. Holliequon 23 Nov 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Do you think people would accept mutation due to a disease as a reason for superpowers? =/

  15. B. Macon 23 Nov 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Yeah, I think so… what disease/powers did you have in mind?

  16. Holliequon 24 Nov 2008 at 9:48 am

    The disease . . . well, it would affect 50% of the population. About 20% could contract it but survive, about 30% would die. But then a tiny fraction of the ones who contracted it and survived would get superpowers (I wasn’t planning on having physics or anything like that . . . probably the most iffy idea I had was the right-hand-heals, left-hand-kills thing).

    Not sure exactly HOW the disease will give people superpowers yet, I’m still sketching out ideas really. Probably somehting like a small mutated strain (which would also explain why all of the superpowered MC’s know each other) that can kill you, but it stimulates muscle growth in some areas or . . . something.

  17. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 06 Dec 2008 at 2:44 am

    What grade is someone in when they’re sixteen in the USA?

  18. Ragged Boyon 06 Dec 2008 at 5:46 am

    The tenth or eleventh grade, depends on your birthday. I’m sixteen and I’m in the 11th.

  19. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 06 Dec 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks, I needed to know for my character Tristram, because he was raised in the USA and my sources tell me that your education system is different.

    In the Land Down Under, we have pre primary which most of us begin at four, turning five at some point in the year. Those with birthdays in January and February are usually five before the school year begins, and are put in the same class as the four year olds, because they were born in the same year as them. We are six in year one, and we finish primary school at age twelve. Most of us enter high school at age twelve, unless our birthday is early in the year. But by the end of the year, all year eights are thirteen.

    Primary School starting ages:

    Year One: Aged five or if they have an early birthday, six.
    Year Two: Aged six or if they have an early birthday, seven.
    Year Three: Aged seven or if they have an early birthday, eight.
    Year Four: Aged seven or if they have an early birthday, nine
    Year Five: Aged nine or if they have an early birthday, ten.
    Year Six: Aged ten or if they have an early birthday, eleven.
    Year Seven: Aged eleven or if they have an early birthday, twelve.

    From primary, we go directly to high school.

    High School starting ages:

    Year Eight: Aged twelve or if they have an early birthday, thirteen.
    Year Nine: Aged thirteen or if they have an early birthday, fourteen.
    Year Ten: Aged fourteen or if they have an early birthday, fifteen.
    Year Eleven: Aged fifteen or if they have an early birthday, sixteen.
    Year Twelve: Aged sixteen or if they have an early birthday, seventeen.

    In year eleven, we get the opportunity to do work experience twice a week, if we plan on going to TAFE (Less difficult than university). It’s optional for us. Some leave during year eleven and get apprenticeships doing things like working in a garage or carpentry. Some TAFE students stay all the way through to graduation and then find courses on their own. Year eleven TEE (those who want to go to uni) students stay all the way up to graduation, and have more difficult subjects than TAFE students.

  20. Bretton 06 Dec 2008 at 5:23 pm

    R.B., you’re 16 in the eleventh grade too? The similarities between us are starting to get creepy. It’s like we’re reflections of each other.

  21. Holliequon 06 Dec 2008 at 5:28 pm

    I’m sixteen and in Year Eleven in Britain, if that counts? D:

  22. Bretton 06 Dec 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Haha. I guess.

  23. Ragged Boyon 06 Dec 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Tee hee!!

  24. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Dec 2008 at 1:46 am

    There are so many 16 year olds here! It is not long until I shall join you in the land of sixteen-ity. Haha.

  25. B. Macon 07 Dec 2008 at 2:51 am

    I’m slightly surprised that our most productive guests are high schoolers. I have a very hard-ass approach to grammar and punctuation. I would have assumed that college students and adults would be most receptive to that.

  26. Bretton 07 Dec 2008 at 4:32 am

    I’m not really. The “success” of Eragon is part of what spurred me on to make this. That series is pretty popular, and even got a movie, and I know I can do better than Eragon.

  27. Ragged Boyon 07 Dec 2008 at 6:37 am

    I just happened to stumble across this site when I was looking for lists of superpowers. I left my first comment, bad when my punctuation and grammar were atrocious, and then I got hooked. Once I realized people gave a crap about what I said, I straightened up my writing, I still struggle in both of those fields though.

    I was never really interested in starting a book, but then I saw other people doing it and the envy set in (what a way to get motivated, huh?). I’ve always had alot of ideas floating in my head though, because I did want to a comic book. Then, once I saw how fun it was to write and rewrite and stuff, I began to have fun with the idea of writing a book. Then I learned that I could write a comic book script and thought, hey that’s right up my alley.

    I’d like to write both a comic book script and a book, but for now I’m focused on the comic. They were my first love, and I’ve never been much of an avid reader, except for comics. Surprisingly though, I have a high reading speed and above average comprehension. I’m really surprised seeing as I’m so ditzy.

    I’m grouchy because I was so jacked up on coffee and stupidity last night, I couldn’t write a coherent sentence for my script. For example, in my script I wrote this; (I don’t really know how to use this “;”, except for winking smilies).

    “Ok, this panel is from Adrian’s P.O.V., but if Adrian was a bird and he could see himself standing by the stage, but it’s through his eyes so you can see the person on stage” (makes perfect since, huh, hahaha)

    Allow me to rewrite now that my brain is on.

    “This panel is an upwards angular shot of Adrian and the stage. Pulled back. Adrian is in the bottom left corner showing a large portion of the stage in this panel. The stage is completely clear, except for a chair in eerie spotlight.”
    (Now that made since)

  28. Holliequon 07 Dec 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Somebody pointed me at this site through NaNoWriMo, and I bookmarked it for future reference. *shrug* Very boring story, really.

  29. Renegadeon 09 Dec 2008 at 8:02 am

    What about object based powers? Are they plausible for origin stories? By object based I mean Green Lantern and others like him who have their powers derived from a object.

  30. Jacobon 09 Dec 2008 at 10:41 am

    Some objects are very plausible. For example, it’s not hard for readers to suspend their disbelief that a man in a powersuit can fly. Powersuits and cybernetics are pretty much just improved versions of what cutting-edge scientists are already working on.

    In contrast, getting your power from an artifact (like Green Lantern’s ring) may feel almost like magic. From a marketing perspective, quasi-magical items could be problematic. A few magical superheroes have been very successful (namely Sailor Moon), but it’s a tricky sell outside of the anime market. I think that one of the consequences of the Marvel revolution in comics since the 1970s is that it’s very hard to sell a comic book that doesn’t pay at least lip-service to what we know of science today.

    From a writing perspective, you may also have trouble making it clear to readers what a Green Lantern’s parameters, powers and limits are. Generally it’s easiest to write (or read) a story about a hero with narrow powers. In contrast, if I were describing GL’s powers to a stranger, I’d say “he can do pretty much anything with projections until his ring runs out of juice.” Fatigue is a fine limit, but his powers are very broad.

  31. Renegadeon 09 Dec 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Is alien tech very plausible? For instance, in the Superman Animated Series, Superman had a phantom zone projector that allowed him to release and capture villians.

  32. Ragged Boyon 09 Dec 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I planned on using lots of alien tech in my story as well as exosuits. However, I don’t think it’s plausible because how often do you think an alien would fly to earth and accidently leave some tech behind.

    I once considered making everyone’s powers in Adrian’s story technologically based.

  33. B. Macon 09 Dec 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I’m leaning towards saying that the Superman technology is not plausible. Like Jacob said, it isn’t similar to anything in real-life. However, if you’re writing a hard sci-fi story, you could probably put together an audience of readers that wouldn’t mind. It’s a harder sell than soft sci-fi (like Spiderman or Heroes) but a story does not have to be plausible to be readable.

  34. Renegadeon 18 Dec 2008 at 5:44 pm

    What do think the odds that a Wolverine meets Green Lantern type of character would make for a readable story? His powers are regenerative healing factor, energy blasts, and constructs. The origin story would be a shady, government experiment where the subject is submerged in a vat of chemicals and then bathed in radiation.

  35. Renegadeon 18 Dec 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Input is badly needed! :-)

  36. B. Macon 18 Dec 2008 at 6:05 pm

    The powers sound workable and the origin is bland but serviceable. I think the origin is considerably easier to work with than a GL-style technological artifact. What’s his personality like?

  37. Ragged Boyon 18 Dec 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I’d recommend spicing up his origin story. I think it’s time for a fresher spin on the “chemical/genetic experiment from government goes horribly wrong (or right) origin.”

    I thought about having Adrian go into some outrageously high-tech machine to get his alien DNA, but I decided against it. I think a trip to his new home planet and a shot will work. How he got his powers isn’t as important as the events leading up to it or after it, so I went minimalist on it.

  38. Renegadeon 18 Dec 2008 at 9:39 pm

    I don’t know if you guys ever saw the “Batman Beyond” episode “Splicers,” but it was about this guy who created a way to bond human and animal DNA to give horns, stripes, spots, feral senses, etc. to those given a serum or combination of two different serums.

    I really enjoyed the episode and was thinking about working a story from the ideas in that episode. Maybe I’ll use synthetic DNA created in a test tube along with the animal DNA.

    As far as personality, I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought yet. I just came up with this guy today. At a glance I think he wouldn’t as murderous as Wolverine, but a little feral pick me up never hurt anyone. :)

    Oh, by the way, thanks for the input. This is the first time I ever tried this, so thanks again for the support.

  39. B. Macon 18 Dec 2008 at 11:25 pm

    You’re welcome.

    Even though Superhero Nation includes a government agent that is a mutant alligator, I think there’s a a discrepancy between the government conspiracy and the primal, animalistic powers. Readers have been primed to think of villainous government science as cold and sterile, I think. So the end result, a feral beast, might clash with what they thought going in.

  40. Renegadeon 19 Dec 2008 at 9:29 am

    I came up with another idea last night right after I posted my last comment. I was thinking that I could have nanites rearrange his DNA or cell structure to give his powers. That fits better in today’s “Information Age” than the “serum” stuff of the 60′s.

    One major departure from the “Wolverine” origin I’m taking is to not have the mind wipe. I always thought that was a little weak myself. Also, I was going to make him a bit more of a thinker than raging beast.

    Better? :)

  41. Ragged Boyon 19 Dec 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I like it, great way to not be cliche. I think adding a thinker edge to a usually harder character is a fresh spin that readers could appreciate.

  42. Renegadeon 19 Dec 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Ragged Boy, are you writing any stories right now?

  43. B. Macon 19 Dec 2008 at 5:02 pm

    Yeah, Renegade, I think it’s better.

  44. Ragged Boyon 19 Dec 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I’m currently writing (more accurately, slacking off on) a comic book script about my character Adrian Gaines. He’s a poor, black, inner-city kid who dreams of becoming a big actor. Aliens invade Earth in a tournament/search and recruit humans, Adrian being recruited by Jimelly, an eccentric water alien.

    The tournament goes on and like all the competitors that make it far enough Adrian’s DNA is fused with that of Jimelly’s alien race, giving him a variety of water based powers. He later becomes the superhero, Showtime. He goes on to fight villians, killer competitors, and major space baddies. I’m not sure yet about how I’m going to end the contest and let Adrian go on with superheroism as well as his acting career. But I do want to let him continue his story. I’ll work it out.

    My big thing is aliens, I love them.

    I also have a space opera on hold. And I’m dreaming up a weapon-based superhero team.

  45. Ragged Boyon 19 Dec 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I hate that I haven’t been in the mind set to write. Thank god, winter break is here and I can focus on my personal preoccupations.

    I love comic books and they are far less typing than a book, I hate typing. A 24 page comic book is only about 13,000 to 16,000 words as opposed to a book which is (I really can’t give a good estimate) much longer.

  46. B. Macon 19 Dec 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Hmm. I think 13,000-16,000 words might be a bit generous for a 24 page comic book. I think things might get tight if you had more than 200 words of text on a page. I’d imagine that 2,500-5,000 words would be sufficient depending on the age of your audience and how action-oriented the series is.

    For example, The Watchmen was written for older readers and had more dialogue than most series. On the pages with the most words, I’m counting about 225 words. You can see what that looks like here. My impression is that 225 is a little bit crowded.

    As for novels. The range of novels is very broad, but novels are typically published between 50,000-75,000 words. (However, novel manuscripts are frequently longer to compensate for what will be cut during the editing process).

  47. Ragged Boyon 19 Dec 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Oh, I was going off a Sandman script and their very descriptive, I guess my opinion was askewed. Well, my story will probably be more actiony. so I’m leaning more towards the 5,000 end.

  48. Ragged Boyon 19 Dec 2008 at 7:12 pm

    That was crowded! Geez Louise!

  49. B. Macon 19 Dec 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Oh, I was just talking about the 24 pages as they will actually be printed. I’m not sure how long the script is, that kind of depends on how much description you’d like to put in. I don’t know what’s typical, but Dark Horse recommends describing each panel in only a few sentences. If you have an average of 5 panels per page, that’s 120 panels. If you spent 30 words describing each panel, hmm… that’d be about 3500 words of description. Then you’d throw in the dialogue and captions (2500-5000 words?). So I’d roughly estimate 6000-8000 words, but I suppose that’s heavily based on how much description the comic book company wants to see in the script.

  50. B. Macon 19 Dec 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Yeah, I think that 225 words is usually too much text for one page. I’d be really careful going above 175, personally, particularly if the audience is young or the comic has a very action-oriented slant.

  51. Ragged Boyon 19 Dec 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Yeah, I thought 5,000 words was abnormally low haha.

  52. Renegadeon 20 Dec 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Has anyone here ever tried to take a comic and turn it into a text based story? I tried with the first couple of New Avengers issues and really enjoyed it. It helped me quite a bit to write stories with a comic book air to them.

  53. Ragged Boyon 20 Dec 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Never tried that before. Sounds interesting. I think it’s easier because you can see what to explain and how and the dialogue is already written for you. Only thing is none of it can be original, so it can’t be sold. But, I’m sure it’s a fun exercise.

    Could I read a piece?

  54. Renegadeon 20 Dec 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Sure, I stored it away on a CD somewhere. I’ll find it and e-mail it to you if you send me a e-mail to reply to. My email address is the.batman@gmx.com. When you do e-mail me, let me know which you want. Ultimate X-men, New Avengers, Green Lantern, and the JLA vs. the Avengers are the ones I have worked on so far. Some of them I have not finished but I can send you what I have and give you the rest when I’m finished.

  55. Ragged Boyon 20 Dec 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Ok, I sent it.

  56. Anonymouson 21 Dec 2008 at 5:57 pm

    You know what you were saying, loads of comments back, about fantasy. Well, I’m a fantasy reader, I’m not a comic book reader, and here’s the thing – its because I don’t like books with pictures in them. However, I love superheroes. I loved Jim Butcher’s spider-man novel, and I watch all the superhero DVDs, and I go on websites like this one and read about them. I read SIWBInvincible, too.

    I have friends who read fantasy and comics, and here’s the thing we agree on. For the most part, comics are too camp when it comes to magic. If you want a feel of a magic superhero, try Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and The Dresden Files.

    But if we had more, better magic writers, then we’d get second generation magic writers in a few decades, and think of the stories they would tell….

    PS, Spawn is a magic super-hero, too.

  57. B. Macon 21 Dec 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Yeah, I agree that magical superheroes tend to be campy (in works aimed at older audiences, at least). Also, I don’t really understand why a magical superhero might appeal to an older reader, so it’s hard for me to read/review/write those stories.

    It’s not like I read all that many nonmagical comic-books, though. At $3-4 per 24 pages, they’re well out of my price range. The dollar-to-enjoyment ratio just isn’t nearly as good as, say, a World of Warcraft subscription, or a video game, or a book, or a matinee movie ticket. (And most of those are social activities).

    But I’m pretty religious about following superhero TV shows and some of the movies. They’re much cheaper and easier to get into. I also feel that TV writers have generally treated their audiences more kindly than comic book writers have. If a television show tried a “Spiderman makes a deal with the devil” kind of storyline, it would probably lose its viewership and get canceled shortly thereafter. At the very least, its audience would agree that the show had jumped the shark.

  58. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 22 Dec 2008 at 3:17 am

    I looked up “Fonzie jumps the shark” on youtube, and it I started laughing really loud. The footage of the shark is obviously from Seaworld and it would have been so much better if it actually jumped out while he skiied over the cut off section of the ocean. Worst. Scene. Ever. I could do better than that with a camcorder and some clay. I’d make a stop-motion version of it that would completely kick the original’s arse. Now all I need is clay. And a camcorder.

  59. B. Macon 22 Dec 2008 at 4:26 pm

  60. Bretton 22 Dec 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I saw divers in the background. lol

  61. Ragged Boyon 22 Dec 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Anyone know how to make a line break in Word 2007? 2007 is super weird.

    Newflash: I’m finally back on the writing train. I’ll post it after I’ve fully introduced Adrian. I want to get that part just right.

  62. Ragged Boyon 22 Dec 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I’m having trouble jamming this story into 24 pages, I’m on page 7 and Adrian hasn’t even stepped on stage yet before the gunshots. However, I have introduced the aliens (one page), the school (two page), and Adrian’s fantasy(one page).

    I’ll try to pick up the pace. I suspect the event leading to the chase will go by fast.

    Is it ok if I slightly extend the issue, maybe, 26-28 pages?

  63. B. Macon 23 Dec 2008 at 11:01 am

    I hate Word 2007. I think you make linebreaks by holding shift and hitting Enter.

  64. B. Macon 23 Dec 2008 at 11:04 am

    My guess is that going a bit over will be OK. If they’re super attached to 24 pages but liked the story anyway, the worst case scenario is that they’d ask you to publish it at 24 pages.

  65. Ragged Boyon 23 Dec 2008 at 11:38 am

    Me too, Word is so confusing now. I just want my 2003 back.

  66. B. Macon 23 Dec 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Yeah, I use Word 2003. I find it easier to use.

  67. Ragged Boyon 23 Dec 2008 at 3:55 pm

    How do you get it back?

  68. Holliequon 23 Dec 2008 at 3:59 pm

    You could probably re-install an old version of Microsoft Office.

  69. Ragged Boyon 23 Dec 2008 at 4:15 pm

    How?

  70. Holliequon 23 Dec 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I’m not sure. It might be on the internet somewhere. If not, you’ll have to ask around for an old disc.

    I’ve learned that if you open an old 2003 doc in 2007 it line-breaks as normal. So you can hi-jack an old document and save it as something else.

    Otherwise, there might be something in the settings of ’07 that allows line breaks. I wouldn’t know what it is, though.

  71. Ragged Boyon 23 Dec 2008 at 7:58 pm

    You can’t go back to an older version but you can save in an older format to make it compatible with an older version of Word.

    I just went through the 2007 training course, it isn’t that bad, it’s just 2003 with everything updated and switched around.

    I don’t hate it anymore, I rate it pretty equal with 2003.

  72. T-Painon 01 Jan 2009 at 1:24 am

    Hey guys, um. I just have no idea where to begin to ask for advice on a site like this! Haha… well I’m going to write up a story about superhumans and whatnot, but I feel like I should consult some experts :]

    I was reading about origin stories, and I’d just like to know how plausible and effective mine is. Project: HERO is a wealthy/eccentric/bored scientist’s undertaking after the military office she works for doesn’t give her the green light to genetically enhance human beings. She and her team have an extensive qualification exam mass-distributed to schools, colleges and workplaces all over the nation disguised as aptitude tests, and interview one thousand candidates chosen for desired attributes (almost completely random or whimsical ones at that). Over time the candidates are brought in to be enhanced and then released back to their homes to be observed.

    My protagonist isn’t the brightest or the most ambitious or the strongest; he’s actually a control in the experiment, chosen because of his average intelligence and low social profile. Like many other participants, he goes right back home and resumes a normal, if slightly enhanced, life.

    After one of the candidates tracks and kills each of the scientists involved in the experiment however, he accesses the files on the superhumans and begins to hunt them down, resolving to be the only one left alive with this kind of power. When my boy’s house is blown up, he has to run like hell and try to find safety with a skilled and determined super-murderer hot on his trail.

  73. Holliequon 01 Jan 2009 at 4:14 am

    Your MC seems a lot like a chosen one. He was picked by this test for purposefully for being average. How is he able to survive, then, against someone who (from the sounds of things) is much stronger than him? Why does this person want to be the only one with these powers?

    Your idea is a good one (I like that he’s trying to look after himself, not be a superhero) but I think there are some areas that could use a little tweaking. The military-genetics-project angle seems to have been done a lot, for example. Also, I’m not sure what to make of this scientist. Props for making her female, though.

  74. T-Painon 01 Jan 2009 at 9:01 am

    I’m trying to keep him a bit low-key in the natural talents department so as to have someone who relates more to average Joes than does the average superhuman (who in my story is an intelligent, accomplished, and otherwise qualified person). How should I rearrange it so that he isn’t so… chosen, but remains a viable underdog in an exam where usually the best are chosen?

    Hehe, that’s my main problem, trying to come up with a way to create superheroes without resorting to genetics or the military. XD Do you have any suggestions that would influence a wide range of people? I thought comet-landing causing radiation, but that’s too localised… and individual stories like Spidey’s being bitten seem tedious, plus I want something that connects them all together.

    And the villain is a bit complicated, but I’ll give the short and dirty version: intelligent but insecure guy thinks he’s God’s gift to mankind, machine-thingy gives villain semi-lame powers (invisibility or regeneration as opposed to super-strength or telekinesis), guy exploits his powers a bit but is STOPPED by random superhero #1, resulting in the conclusion that superhumans and people with knowledge of the project are the only ones who can stop him from… doing what he wants to (he’s got a smidge of megalomania, not sure whether he wants to rule the world or not yet). So he jumps town and begins his jealous killing spree.

  75. Jacobon 01 Jan 2009 at 10:34 am

    I think something man-made would make the story click best. (It’d be too hard to have your killer candidate go on a targeted killing spree if the origin was something as chaotic and unorganized as a meteor shower). Your scientists might be working on something like a generic chemical enhancement to cure something like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. (If that’s the case, it would make sense if at least some of the test subjects, including the hero, are picked because they’re a bit scrawny).

    You could possibly work in the element of unforeseen consequences here, which would help reinforce that the scientists are really in over their heads. For example, in real life Viagra was originally intended to cure hypertension. Preliminary tests on humans indicated it was not effective, but when the scientists tried to call off the tests the test-subjects refused to hand over the remainder of their prescriptions. Heh heh. That’s how Pfizer discovered what Viagra actually does. Similarly, I’d recommend having your scientists belatedly discover that they’ve actually given a bunch of people superpowers.

    I agree that the hero might be a bit of a chosen one, which is a character that gets lucky breaks rather than one that makes his own destiny. However, I think it’s accepted for each comic book to start the book with one lucky accident. For example, Spiderman is hugely lucky to be the one person in the room that gets bitten by the spider, but aside from that he’s not particularly lucky. So, I think your lucky accident would be that the hero is one of many normal (or kind-of-normal) people that gets selected for this super-experiment. After that, he should drive the story himself rather than rely on coincidence or luck. For example, why does the killer fail to kill him the first time around? It should be because of something about the hero’s personality or traits.

  76. B. Macon 01 Jan 2009 at 10:50 am

    Plotwise, I’m not sure about the “boy on the run from a killer” plot. I suspect it will be hard to develop. In which directions could you take the plot? The only way I could see the plot developing is that the hero masters his abilities, possibly becomes a superhero himself, and finally defeats the villain. The End. That might be enough to start a comic book series, but it’s probably not enough for a novel. (Which one are you trying to write?)

    In contrast, I think we use a similar idea to launch a more fertile plot. The initiating event of our novel is that the main character nearly gets murdered. (See page 2 of the comic book version here). From there, the main development is that he gets transferred away from his happy IRS job to an exceedingly wacky and violent superagency. I think this gives me a lot of room to develop the character and the plot.


    –How does he grow as a member of his new team?
    –Who else is on the team? What are they like?
    –How does the hero get along with his teammates?
    –What does the hero think of his job? Of his boss?
    –Does the hero eventually have to do something very foreign to him, like killing a criminal? How does he react to that?
    –When the original assassins have finally been stopped at the end of the book, what’s the conclusion? Does he try to go back to the IRS? Will the IRS even take him?

    You may be able to expand your plot by working in some new characters and maybe some intermediate goals. For example, as soon as the character survives the near-assassination, I think that would be a good opportunity for him to try to find other people that were involved with the experiment. If the final goal of your book is to stop the killer candidate, then you’d probably want to give them an intermediate goal. (For example, in our book the intermediate goal is joining the wacky superagency as a temporary solution to avoid getting killed). This will give them something to accomplish without exhausting the primary plot too quickly. I think an intermediate goal that makes sense would be getting other test-subjects to band together before they all get killed. Do you think that might work for you?

  77. T-Painon 02 Jan 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Woah sorry I was in Vegas… :]

    I like that idea! The one about the cure for a common ailment or problem, and the unexpected consequence… Gracias mucho!
    Hmm… I kind of had in mind the guy just headin’ into his apartment after a long night at the joint he works at before his room blows up, and fortunately he’s on the toilet…
    So should his survival be in his hands instead, so he isn’t so much of a lucky breaks kind of guy?

    Haha I didn’t mention the subplots, but B.Mac you took one right outta my mind: after leaving a few homes (or shelters), he comes across a few superhumans who’ve come in contact with each other and have formed a group. Unfortunately in my head they were all killed as a consequence of being near the killer’s current target… or maybe not all… my head still spins, thinking too far ahead.
    It would motivate him to take action against his enemy, losing friends and realizing that no matter what this guy will not rest until one or the other is dead. Or should I take another direction with the supergroup? Should he become a superhero? Should the group try to find the others and kill this hunter together?
    I don’t think my guy will ever master his powers. :[

    But if he doesn’t it’d be fine, I think if he survives he’d have other opportunities. I’m using this plot mainly as a ‘pilot episode’ to introduce a superhero universe. It wouldn’t be a comic series, and it certainly wouldn’t be a novel… more like a long-short story.

    Oh, important! Should I kill my villain? I was thinking he doesn’t die but my hero survives and escapes into an uncertain future, or finds some peace… How do I do it? Should he be defeated and spared? Dropped into a ‘bottomless’ pit only to survive? Jailed and paroled for super-good behaviour? Earn a grudging respect for my hero and resolve to retreat to return another day?

  78. Ragged Boyon 03 Jan 2009 at 7:14 am

    It’s actually muchos gracias… not the other way around.

  79. B. Macon 03 Jan 2009 at 8:43 am

    I have a few observations…

    –Short stories are a bit unusual here (I think you’re the first short-story author here), so we might have trouble offering advice related to pacing and plot-length. How long are you thinking of going to? (5K or 10K or 25K words, etc?) I’d recommend going to at least 10-15,000 words because I think that action-based short-stories kind of need the room.

    –Unless your story is totally meant as a comedy, I think that surviving the attack because he’s in the bathroom is a lucky break that will probably make the hero seem less impressive than he could be. It could be comic, but it wouldn’t be much of an action sequence. I’d recommend having him survive because of something he does. For example, he might be quick-witted, tricky, resilient, etc.

    –I don’t recommend introducing the element of superheroes in this story. It kind of seems like a red herring and a short-story doesn’t have space to waste. I think their main objective should be killing the villain.

    –If this is a short story under 15,000 words, I think it would really help to kill him. It’s the quickest and most concrete way to bring resolution at the end. However, if the story is longer (more of a novella), then I think the story has more room to play around with a more ambiguous ending (one that leaves him alive). Defeating him and sparing him would be an interesting moral twist, but the story isn’t over until he’s either dead, converted or crippled. Converting him into a nonkiller would probably feel cheesy in a short story. Crippling him might just mean taking his powers away and leaving him to the cops. That could work, but I’d recommend having the police be kind of clueless about the superpowers throughout the story.

  80. T-Painon 03 Jan 2009 at 11:00 pm

    You made me look up novella, haha, and I think that’s the best word to describe the length I’m shooting for. I agree, I probably won’t introduce superhero concepts too much in my first story; I’m planning that kind of thing in later serials.

    Ok, so how ’bout this. Steven stumbles into his apartment, bushed after a day of work, when he picks up the faint smell of gas. Upon straining his ears he can hear the slight hissing of his stove going off, and takes a step toward the kitchen. The ignitors are triggered and a fireball erupts in the kitchen and expands to fill the entire room, but my boy is quick enough to open a door and slam it shut behind him. He’s got splinters all over, and he’s bruised, but alive and able enough to crawl out and get the hell out of dodge.

  81. B. Macon 03 Jan 2009 at 11:29 pm

    A novella sounds good.

    I like your scenario. I’d recommend a minor tweak. Right now, it seems like he survives mainly because he’s fast enough to escape the fireball by slamming a door behind him. It might be more interesting if we saw more about his personality and intellect. For example, he might notice that something’s distinctly wrong even before the fireball erupts.

    Some examples:
    —He’s got a great memory: “The oven’s on, but I didn’t have it on today.”
    —He’s lazy: “The oven’s on, but I haven’t cooked in years!”
    —He’s very perceptive: “The oven’s on now, but I didn’t turn it on. That would explain what that thumping upstairs was an hour ago.”
    —He’s very analytical: “The oven’s on now, but I didn’t turn it on. It seems like a very strange thing for a burglar to play around with. I should probably get out of here.”

  82. T-Painon 06 Jan 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Gracias for all the help! I’ve developed a great start to what I hope will be an entertaining and enjoyable story!

  83. B. Macon 07 Jan 2009 at 9:47 am

    Good job. Let me know if you’d like any reviews.

  84. Tyon 13 Jan 2009 at 5:31 pm

    T-Pain, I’m sure you got enough help, but if you’re still looking for some on the ‘apartment scene’ I would suggest that when he walks in (as B.Mac said) he notices something out of place. I’d suggest he sees some magazines or something on the floor that wasn’t there when he left. THEN he notices/hears the gas from the stove. (I think it’s more difficult to hear the hissing of gas, but it’s pretty noticeable if your floor is covered with stuff that wasn’t there before. Which would then cause you to look around for any other ‘disturbances’ i.e. the gas). Then you could have your character run into the bathroom and jump into the bathtub (you mentioned he was originally going to be on the toilet, so this keeps him in the bathroom) Maybe this guy is smart and he knows that the old styled bathtub (the one with the legs) that he has always hated, is stronger then the newer cheap models (this was used in one of the Lethal Weapons, right?) So he jumps in the tub just as the kitchen blows up.

    So with all that it gives you Shock (at the disturbed magazines) Fear (from the gas) Resourcefulness (jumping in the tub) and then maybe add some smart ass comment as he emerges from the tub.

  85. Eon 22 Jan 2009 at 7:46 am

    Ok, I think I’ve come up with a good way for my hero to get his powers.

    My physics teacher was just explaining to us that microscopic objects from space pass through our body all the time without harming us because they are so small they fit through the gaps created by our electrons and what not. Well, I was thinking “what if they didn’t just pass through our bodies, what if they affected us in some way?” That’s when I thought that maybe a wave of radiation of alien origin struck the earth, passing through the bodies of some people(and maybe some animals/plants) but instead of passing right through us, they stuck to the atoms in our bodies changing the molecular structures in our bodies.

    I don’t really understand the whole process myself, but if I ran it by my physics teacher I’m sure he can explain the gist of it so I can briefly explain it in my story.

    Anyways, what do you think? Sound good?

  86. Ragged Boyon 22 Jan 2009 at 10:20 am

    Plausibility, not so sure, just because of the fact that there are alien origin to the mutation, and aliens aren’t real. But origin-wise, it’s delightfully fresh. I suspect readers will find that interesting. It’s similar to mine, but mine works through an injection and is intentional, but they still get a blast of alien DNA.

    Horray for aliens!!!

  87. B. Macon 22 Jan 2009 at 10:26 am

    I think that for the purposes of your story, it might help if there were a good reason why it only affected some people and not others. Also, if you’re willing to use alien radiation (which sounds a bit like cosmic energy), you could just say that the radiation causes some humans to exhibit strange symptoms or mutate.

    What do you think?

  88. Davidon 22 Jan 2009 at 10:36 am

    well i can help with that why not it only affects a ceirten blood type or something in ceirten DNA strands or people with weak imune syestems so maby people with say the Aids or HIV virues or something the blood thing might work well

  89. Eon 22 Jan 2009 at 11:37 am

    Well I was going to have the blast hit a certain area, so just the people in the surrounding are or who are immediately exposed to the radiation are affected.

  90. B. Macon 22 Jan 2009 at 11:54 am

    OK. A limit by area sounds workable. Would it affect everyone in the area?

  91. Eon 22 Jan 2009 at 11:59 am

    Yes, that’s what I’m leaning towards.

  92. Eon 23 Jan 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Now I need to come up with a name for my two main characters.

  93. Chi.Rhoon 17 Feb 2009 at 9:59 pm

    If I use gene splicing to explain the origins of a chracters abilities…would the character have to resemble the animal used to grant the hero abilities?

  94. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:14 pm

    I think they would have to resemble them. We haven’t covered genetics in my bio class yet and even then we won’t go in depth, but I’m pretty sure they’d have to look similar.

    It isn’t just genetics that grant animals their abilities. Cheetahs have strong leg muscles for them to run fast and it also comes down to the workings of the brain. Humans can type and grasp things because we have the mental capacity to do so. If we were to somehow transplant a cat’s brain into a human, it would try to pop out claws that don’t exist.

  95. B. Macon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I don’t think so, Chi. Rho. Animal DNA can be spliced with plants to create, for example, corn that glows in the dark like jellyfish.

  96. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 17 Feb 2009 at 10:32 pm

    You’re right. Meh, I never was much good with the genetic side of bio anyway. Natural selection and evolution is more my area.

  97. Alice2on 11 Mar 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I have an origin story in mind that I wanted an opinion on, but I’m uncomfortable posting it here for all to see. Would it be alright to email you about it instead?

  98. B. Macon 11 Mar 2009 at 7:19 pm

    By all means. Superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  99. G.C.on 24 Mar 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I am trying to create a hero who receives his powers by spirits entering his body. The story has a lot of heaven, hell and religious overtones. So I’m wondering if that’s too into the magic or if the religion brings relevance to the story. And raises the age level?

  100. B. Macon 25 Mar 2009 at 12:36 am

    It sounds like it fits your story. If the story has a lot of supernatural elements like heaven and hell, I think something spiritual would make for a fine origin story.

    At least in the US (and probably Europe as well), a spiritual origin story would probably not raise the age level at all. On the other hand, if you’re looking at selling this story in a country with a more traditionalist approach to religion, I suspect that including religious elements may make the work feel more mature and/or controversial. You’d probably have a better feel for your home market than I would.

  101. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 25 Mar 2009 at 12:39 am

    Religion will probably suit the story well, but magic would work too. It is possible to write about spirits and related powers without religion. For example, one of my characters can summon ghosts, tell when someone is about to die, feel the emotions of dead people, tell how and when they died and use residual emotions as a form of transport. He has a reliquary to help him with a couple of these powers. There are no religious themes in my story at all.

    A problem with religion based stories are that they can seem preachy. Unless someone is a priest or over-the-top religious person, they’re not going to want to hear “God is great” every time they read a chapter. Having the religion as a less obvious factor (like in Narnia, for example) will probably be a better option.

    I don’t think religion would raise the age of your target audience. The whole plot of the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe is an allegory for the story of Jesus, and it’s a children’s book. Harry Potter on the other hand, has a big teenage audience, but younger people read it too. It really depends on the plot and age of the character. If there is going to be a lot of violence, crude humour and big words, I’d say your age range would be higher. If not, it would be more suitable for children. If your main character is a teen, your target audience would likely be teens. If he’s an adult, they’d most likely be adults.

    By the way, I like your premise.

    To help you out more, here are some questions:

    1. Are you writing a novel or comic book?
    2. What is the main character’s name?
    3. How old is he?
    4. Does he have a secret identity?
    5. What problems will he face?
    6. What is his personality?
    7. What happens in the story?

  102. G.C.on 25 Mar 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I’m going for this: I want to analyze the morals of what my hero does, the weight of his decisions, why he is who he is and where that takes him.

  103. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Apr 2009 at 3:25 am

    Here’s my plan for Cable’s origin story.

    His mother was a scientist. She was working on a top secret government project in the USA, developing a bomb that would cause a whole room to be frozen in an instant. This is a better alternative than an explosive bomb, as the room is not actually destroyed and any items of value can be recovered after the frozen bodies are removed. (If there was a McGuffin of Extreme Plot Value in the room, its thieves could be killed without risk to the recovery team and the McGuffin would be unharmed).

    Cable’s mum was tinkering around with the bomb when it exploded. Luckily it wasn’t complete, so there was just a momentary blast of the freezing agent, but not enough to instantly kill her. She reported the accident, passed a physical and got back to work.

    The freezing agent affected her unborn son, and when she had him eight months later, he showed an array of powers linked to the freezing agent in his cells. It replenishes its supply as he uses it, because his cells make it like they make biological chemicals (amino acids, lipids etc).

    His mother got really ill because the freezing agent slowly killed her cells (Cable was still developing, so it just mixed with his DNA), but she was able to sign papers that allowed Cable to be adopted before she finally died. Her death was officially ruled a suicide as a cover-up.

    I think it’s kind of dumb, but hey, Peter Parker was bitten by a spider! I don’t know what was in that thing, but I didn’t start crawling walls when I was bitten a couple of years ago. I’m going to try it now.

    THUD! I guess I don’t need to tell you that my wall-crawling efforts didn’t work. ;)

  104. B. Macon 03 Apr 2009 at 8:00 am

    I like that origin story better than Isaac’s.

  105. Ragged Boyon 03 Apr 2009 at 10:39 am

    Peter was bitten by a genetically-altered radioactive super-spider, not a common one. It was one of 15, I think. And it escaped from its case.

  106. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 03 Apr 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I like Cable’s origin better too. Isaac’s is one of the few things I haven’t changed from my original idea. I’m dead set on him coming from a parallel universe via a transporter, but other than that I have no ideas to make it more interesting until his parents’ story is told. (Don’t worry! They’re not noble or powerful, and they don’t have an awesome weapon, time travelling machine or other cool device that makes them the coolest parents ever.)

    How the heck did they make the spider radioactive without killing it? Shouldn’t it have killed Peter when he was bitten?

  107. Dforceon 03 Apr 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I believe the spiders’ DNA was made of phlebotinum, which made the spiders themselve radioactive. (My view of it is that the spider DNA created some sort of toxin or catalyst that attached itself to the editing catalysts of human DNA via blood transfer, and began to blend the two strands together– kinda like how cancer works, only, instead of destroying cells, it just added to them).

    /:-\

  108. Holliequon 03 Apr 2009 at 5:08 pm

    You’re thinking of bees, I think. Spiders don’t die when they bite something.

  109. Tomon 08 Apr 2009 at 7:00 pm

    My characters origin story is just that he evolved and gained the ability to manipulate energy in certain ways. Also, I have more than one superpowered person but my main character can absorb others powers and use them.

    He has unsure morals, too.

  110. Ragged Boyon 08 Apr 2009 at 7:23 pm

    What do you need advice on?

    Seems pretty solid to me. You might have to explain how evolution led to superpowers, but that’s about it.

  111. Tomon 09 Apr 2009 at 2:51 am

    Okay well there appears to be another Tom now, so just to clarify I’m the Tom working on Psykid. I would change the name but since it’s an official login name as opposed to something you just type in the text field I can’t.

    Anyway, about Spider-Man’s origin. Remember Spider-Man was made at a time when nuclear energy was the ‘in-thing’. People were obsessed with it, it was the ‘fuel of the future’, and it could do anything, since no one knew quite what it could do. Back when Spider-Man was made it made perfect sense that an irradiated spider could give amazing spider-powers to someone.

    Of course in this day and age that doesn’t quite cut it. We know now radiation exposure can be lethal, and can’t give you amqazing spider powers. Also, the nuclear energy hype has died down completely. So, when the film version came out, the ‘irradiated’ spider became a ‘genetically altered’ spider. Much more sense scientifically. This also happened in the Spectacular Spider-Man TV show. I don’t think Stan Lee would disapprove of this, it’s more scientifically… well… possible!

  112. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 3:59 am

    I see that, Tom. Umm, I think I can change your name, if you’d like. I would have just changed his comment tag to US Tom (in contrast to the UK Tom), but it turns out that he is also from the UK. Gah! I’ve had quite enough of this tomfoolery.

    As for scientific origins. Genetic engineering is making enormous strides, and I think that the average 20-something can believe that pretty much anything will be possible within twenty years. So I think that GE fits in quite plausibly into a superhero origin story. (Well, as plausible as any origin story can be). Cybernetics is also progressing quite rapidly, although we’re still pretty much stuck on reconstructive prosthetics so far. (Give it a decade, I think).

  113. Tomon 09 Apr 2009 at 4:01 am

    You can change my name to Tom R if you like, my second name begins with R.

  114. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 4:06 am

    Ack. I’m looking in my control panel and it says that I can’t change user-names, even my own. What the fo!

  115. Tom 2on 09 Apr 2009 at 5:43 am

    I’ll just make my name tom 2

  116. Fridayon 10 Apr 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Alright, I am new to this site, and yeah, I really need a bit of help. My country has no comic books until now. Yes, no superhero comics. I wanna make my own…

    You people were talking about origin stories. Well, I had this story,a nd the origin is so new and so true that it is possible. And maybe somewhere around the world it happens.

    I am from southeast Asia. So, people out there, my Asian briggaz holla at me. I need your help. And, yeah, well, you might like my origin.

    I need some sketching partner and a story writer too. And yeah, if you want, your own heroes will come out from the origin I am making.

    My origin isn’t anything like mutation, radiation, son of an alien… it’s totally basic and almost possible. I’ve been a comic fan and mostly believe in “reality” So you can say my story is gonna feel really real!

    I need a sketching partner, so if you’re into making comics or are from Asia, holla at me! Please send me a message at mc.friday-at-gmail-dot-com .

  117. B. Macon 10 Apr 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Hi, Friday. Since you’d like artistic help, could you describe what artistic style you’re looking for? (I don’t think that we have very many artists here, but it’s worth a shot).

  118. Dforceon 10 Apr 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Worth a shot, indeed. I’m an artist– but I can’t promise miracles. But do share the art style you have in mind.

  119. Quidamon 05 May 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Question: what about a mythological origin? That worked with Wonder Woman because she was an Amazon.

    However, with my hero, she’s a mortal but she gains her powers from goddesses. Is that too cliche?

  120. Davidon 05 May 2009 at 6:45 pm

    not really i mean im useing mythologicel creatchers so should be gd

  121. B. Macon 05 May 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Well, mythological/magical origins are a slightly tougher sell, I think. Heroes like Wonder Woman, Thor, Dr. Strange and Zantanna aren’t all that popular.

    I think it depends on the audience, though. Anime audiences seem more receptive to magical heroes (Sailor Moon, Clow Captor Sakura). But otherwise, I think magical superheroes have trouble appealing to viewers/readers older than 13. (Jake Long, etc).

    NOTE: This only applies to superhero stories, not fantasy. Older readers can appreciate magic in books like Harry Potter or LOTR but they tend to pass on magical superheroes outside of anime.

  122. ikaruson 05 May 2009 at 7:15 pm

    just as long as you use the same mythos (greek,egypt, etc). Mixing them could be problematic. Also, messing up details would cause problems.

  123. Davidon 05 May 2009 at 7:28 pm

    not always i mean iv taken alot of the bits of a Banshee i got from books and wikipedia and changed some other detaisl to manage to story and i have also slightly mixed up the people

    its mostly celte belvies but iv got viken belives and such

  124. Ragged Boyon 06 May 2009 at 8:04 am

    Well, mythological origins certainly aren’t very plausible. In fact, aren’t myths interesting because they’re implausible? I’m not saying that a mythological can’t be interesting, but I highly doubt the plausibility.

  125. Ragged Boyon 06 May 2009 at 8:04 am

    Oops, I meant “aren’t” very plausible.

  126. Davidon 06 May 2009 at 8:27 am

    any legend or myth is based on something i find mytholagy intresting just depends on the person

  127. Tomon 06 May 2009 at 10:31 am

    Personally I’m a mythology buff. Which is good, considering how EVERY SINGLE COMIC Superhero in the history of mankind has, at one point in their career, encountered some kind of mythological being. Basically this trope:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FantasyKitchenSink

    I think comic book writers like mythology so much because they feature cool characters, interesting monsters, great stories and are totally, 100% public domain. Nobody’s going to sue Marvel for naming a superhero Thor. But at the same time, by naming him Thor, they have a ready-made mythology set up and didn’t have to think of anything for themselves.

    I admit myself to falling prey to this. With not one, but two mythologies, Greek and Norse.

  128. B. Macon 06 May 2009 at 10:45 am

    Most readers have more difficulty suspending their disbelief for a magical or mythological hero than one who relies on super-training (like Batman) or a sci-fi explanation (like Spiderman).

  129. Tomon 06 May 2009 at 10:58 am

    Really? That’s interesting. I would’ve thought magic wouldn’t make suspension more difficult than sci-fi.

  130. B. Macon 06 May 2009 at 11:13 am

    I think readers will easily accept light sci-fi (genetic engineering, cybernetics, radioactivity, nanotech, mechanical assistance, etc). Hard sci-fi (alien technology and magic-like technology) is probably as hard to believe as mythology and magic.

  131. Holliequon 06 May 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Hmm. Is it absolutely neccesary to go into the origin of powers in a superhero novel? Could I just ignore it and concentrate on the actual story instead? Or would it require at least a hand-wave?

    I ask because in a superhero novel I’m thinking about, the main characters have abilities that are pretty different (ranging from spiritual/ESP stuff to super-durability and reflexes).

  132. Tomon 06 May 2009 at 12:43 pm

    It’s worth a brief mention. It doesn’t have to be explicitly shown but a short explanation as to how this guy got ESP would be good.

  133. B. Macon 06 May 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I’d recommend providing at least a line or two about the character’s origin story. Readers will feel that the hero is much, much easier to understand if they know where his powers came from. I learned that the hard way.

    For one of my writing classes, I did a one-shot about Berkeley/Catastrophe and Jacob. The story begins with Berkeley discovering that he has turned into Catastrophe without any explanation. (He can’t remember what happened). Thirty pages later, in the climax, he puts it together. My readers felt overwhelmingly lost. The point I took away is that readers really like to know where the hero’s unusual aspects come from. For a superhero, that’s at least his superpowers and possibly his personality. The more supernatural the story, the more readers will want to know what happened. If someone has Batman-like powers, you could probably avoid his origin if you wanted. However, if he has ESP, I think it needs at least a mass-origin story. (She’s a mutant, for example).

    Here’s a sample scene I’m pondering.

    CAPTAIN CARNAGE, to AGENT BLACK: Grim Trigger controls radiation.
    GRIM TRIGGER: Reactor meltdown.

    CAPTAIN CARNAGE: … and Mike melts minds…
    MIKE: Golfing during a thunderstorm.

    CAPTAIN CARNAGE: … and you’ve already met Agent Orange.
    AGENT ORANGE: Superior training and conditioning.

    *Everyone stares at him– no one thinks a mutant alligator’s powers really came from training.*
    AGENT ORANGE: The chemical spill didn’t hurt, either.

  134. Holliequon 06 May 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I like that scene! I guess I see your point. Darn. I guess I’ll have to handwave it.

  135. Anonymouson 04 Jun 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve been thinking about making a dark hero. He looks more like a villain but is actually the hero.

    He uses dark powers. I just don’t know how he would come to get his powers. Any advice?

  136. B. Macon 04 Jun 2009 at 6:36 pm

    The Hood killed a demon and stole a magical artifact…

    Guyver Project used sadistic sci-fi experiments…

    Ghost Rider made a deal with the devil…

    Marcus (Terminator 4 spoiler) is a cyborg made by Skynet to be a Trojan Horse.

    I think that’s a pretty good sample of dark origin stories. I think the trick is adding an element of bad intentions or sinisterness. Free will often factors more strongly into an antiheroic origin story than a heroic one. For example, Marcus fights against his programming, which is designed to make him kill John Connor. The free will makes the character. In contrast, it probably wouldn’t have worked to have had the Resistance create a robot and force him to be a good guy. An unthinking, unwilling Stepford Wife couldn’t make much of a protagonist.

  137. Anonymouson 04 Jun 2009 at 8:25 pm

    cool thanks i also wanted to make him have a struggle with his powers.like when the johnny blaze turns into the ghost rider id like my hero to have a hard time transforming back to his human self and a hard time controling his powers.also when he uses his powers it weakins him.does that sound like a good idea?

  138. Chandleron 13 Jul 2009 at 10:25 pm

    How do you guys feel about this;

    A priest from a secretive religious order is handpicked by his church to defend a collection of dimensional worlds against threats of a superhuman or supernatural origin.

  139. trekfanon 13 Jul 2009 at 10:32 pm

    ^That seems rather fresh. I haven’t heard of anything like that. Though developing the religious order is a potential minefield; too many people may think that your drawing allusions to other religions. Got to be careful there.

    Otherwise I like it. :)

  140. FarawaySoulon 13 Jul 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Defend a collection of dimensional worlds?

    What is the objective of this superhuman? What are his powers?

    Does the main character have any powers?

    The reason I’m asking this is because a story – a bestseller story – exists with this concept, though it isn’t said to be a religious order. The group, named the Travelers, combats a character named Saint Dane over 10 different dimensional worlds.

    The Travelers are indeed secretive, and they do reflect religion, as does Saint Dane.

    The book is named Pendragon, you should try looking it up. Then again, that was a short description you made; I suppose there must be more to it.

  141. FarawaySoulon 14 Jul 2009 at 12:23 am

    Ah, and the first ‘question’ wasn’t supposed to be a question >_>

  142. Davidon 14 Jul 2009 at 4:52 am

    insted of a religuies group you could still have a secret orginasation called the DPA “Dimension Protection Agency” traveling t each dimension via device called an MDH “Multiple Dimension hopper” to add some urgencay to the plot you could have that the people visiting the dimension can only stay there for a limited time and you could say this is becaue

    i dimensions like a huge body and we’re forigin invaders so after a while that dimension will become imune to us and wipe of from exsistince

    wat do you think?

  143. Chandleron 14 Jul 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Well, his name is Gary Ross, a young priest that was recruited after the previous priest left when his mentor Alvin Drake was murdered by a vampire (Drake was the founder of the Sagittarius Order). Ross was given an ancient amulet, called the Artisan, and it gave him the abilities to open dimensional passageways, a degree of abnormal strength, and can project bolts of mystical energy from his hands.

  144. Chandleron 14 Jul 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Hmm, that sounds pretty interesting. I will give it some consideration.

  145. BrainStormeron 29 Jul 2009 at 7:15 am

    This article was pretty good.

    But I also need some tips on writing a good origin story for an evil organization.

  146. Garyon 29 Jul 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Well, I dont know how plausible it is But I enjoyed Ras AL Ghuls organization from Batman Begins.It had roots that went back decades and They were a group of infiltrators.
    If you want something more realistic look at the origins of the Nazi Party but it wasnt a clandestine organization.
    Is that you want ?
    a secret organization that is considered a myth?

  147. BrainStormeron 29 Jul 2009 at 1:50 pm

    yes exactly.

  148. NewAgeZombion 07 Oct 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Superbeing origins are pretty much the same in the story I’m writing, though superbeings aren’t created in groups. The majority of superheroes are a type of creature called an “anti-zombie” because they need Necros to survive. Zombies need Prana. They’re truly alive, cannot be controlled by necromancers, retain all the dexterity and speed of a human and look about the same as they did before changing. If anyone wants me to explain further, I will, but only then. The majority of villians are zombies who have souls. The mixture of human ethics and a zombie’s hunger generally drives them to insanity.

    An anti-zombie (if someone can think of a better word, feel free to offer) is created when a human is bitten by a zombie, but the infection doesn’t reach the brain. This occurs when the only bite(s) are located on extremeties.

  149. Ragged Boyon 07 Oct 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I actually think Necro is a good name for the race of anti-zombies.

  150. The Doctoron 13 Oct 2009 at 11:17 am

    I agree with Ragged Boy.

  151. Chevalieron 19 Oct 2009 at 6:07 am

    If you want to write about an evil organization, you could try reading up on the origins of some real world groups like the Nazis, Italian Fascist party, Al Queda, the Taliban, etc. They usually pop up when there is great economic turmoil and social unrest.

  152. jaronblazeon 10 Jan 2010 at 8:17 pm

    What can be a good origin for a guy who can manipulate colors & ink?

  153. Ghoston 22 Jan 2010 at 9:13 am

    B. Mac, so I haven’t gotten any writing done lately, mostly because of college and life. However, I have been thinking about my story from time to time, and I’m beginning to doubt its plausiblity. How plausible does a story have to be for it to still be taken seriously? I guess my real problem is that I read other peoples’ origin stories and they just seem so much better than my own. So I suppose I just want some reasurrance that my origin story isn’t as dumb as I think it is and that I am not completely wasting my time with this story. I do understand that the premise of my story could be good and the final product could still suck, but I would hate for it to be the other way around and start with a crappy premise.

  154. B. Macon 22 Jan 2010 at 11:26 am

    “How plausible does a story have to be for it to still be taken seriously?” You might like this article.

    As long as the story feels consistent, I don’t think it’ll be much of a problem. Readers and publishers definitely wouldn’t pass on a fantasy novel because it had elves and dragons. But fitting elves and dragons into a superhero story with a cyborg protagonist might raise problems because it blurs genre lines and might make the story feel muddled. The readers that want to read urban fantasy might not like science fiction, and vice versa. Even if a reader did enjoy reading both genres, he might find the mix tacky. I can’t remember the last time someone wished that Spiderman got more chances to fight werewolves (Harry Osborne), vampires (Morbius) or wizards. His story is usually light science fiction and adding magical elements clashes badly with that.

    Conversely, you might be able to sell urban fantasy–like a superhero story where pretty much every hero and villain had either magical origins or something generic (like Training from Hell). It’s worked for Sailor Moon, Hellboy, Bleach, Spawn (as far as I know), American Dragon, Constantine, etc. I don’t think that American comic book readers are generally as receptive to magical stories as Japanese ones are, but I think you could find a publisher that’d be willing to work with it. (American novel readers are much more amenable to fantasy–different audience demographics).

    I hope that helps! Please let me know if I can offer any other suggestions.

  155. Ghoston 22 Jan 2010 at 2:34 pm

    B. Mac,
    Thanks for the fast reply. Your comment was very helpful and encouraging.

  156. B. Macon 22 Jan 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I get notified whenever “B. Mac” comes up in a comment. So, if I’m online at a particular moment, it’s not difficult for me to respond quickly.

  157. Ghoston 22 Jan 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Ok B. Mac. I think I read into your last comment a little to much, but it was kinda loaded.

  158. Ragged Boyon 23 Jan 2010 at 10:37 am

    I’d love to help, Ghost. I’m intrigued to hear what the actual origin story is. Are you comfortable with telling us?

  159. B. Macon 23 Jan 2010 at 11:36 am

    Haha, don’t worry. In my original comment, I was trying to make a joke and sometimes it doesn’t work. I’m sorry if it gave the wrong impression.

  160. Ghoston 24 Jan 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Sorry for taking so long to reply, Ragged Boy. The basic premise of my story is that the characters are accidentally exposed to experimental nanotechnology. When the nanotech is accidentally released during a theft, the government drops a bomb in order to prevent the tech from spreading. However, there are several survivors to the “terrorist attack” and several of them were infected with the nano tech.

    Right now, their powers are just enhancements to their natural abilities (like strength, reflexes, speed, senses, intelligence and bone density). I kind of want to limit my power base form my characters instead of make the nanotech a cause for any possible power like telepathy, flight, energy projection and time travel. However, I am still deciding on things like electrical discharge, physical transformation (possibly something along the same lines as Dean Koontz’s Midnight), and physical manifestations of the nano tech. In the end though, I haven’t nailed down the limits of the abilities I am going to attribute to the nanotech, so I’m still open to suggestions.

    By the way, B. Mac… just so you know, I was not offended by your comment, and after six years in your army I probably read more into your comment than what you probably meant.

  161. Ragged Boyon 24 Jan 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Hello Ghost,

    I like Nanotechnology as an origin story. I find it distinctly fresher among sci-fi origin stories. It also have a lot of room for creativity. Nice shot! I have a few concerns:

    ” I kind of want to limit my power base form my characters instead of make the nano tech a catch all cause for every possible power like telepathy, flight, energy projection, time travel.”

    - This sentence was very confusing, so much so that I couldn’t edit it. Could you please rephrase this?

    - Why does the government take such extreme measures to ensure that the technology doesn’t spread? Why is the technology a threat? Also, why did the government not try and quarantine the spread instead of eradicating it?

    - Is the government the villain in your story?

    - Also, if you’re planning on getting published I’d recommend that you up your clarity and overall mechanical writing ability. Unprofessional writing ability can easily be the bane of one’s writing career.

  162. Ghoston 24 Jan 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Ragged boy,
    first off I would like to say sorry for the confusing post. I am out of town right now, and I am posting from my phone so that is causing some of the difficulty with my spelling and grammer. So what I was trying to say in as little words as possible is that I do not want my origin story to end up like the xmen were mutation explains all sort of outlandish abilities. I want characters abilities to reasonibly fit their origins. As far as the government’s reaction, the nano tech is self replicating, adaptable, and semi-organic. In essence, the nano tech is a man made organism with no natural pedator and as such is an enviromental disaster wanting to happen.

  163. Ragged Boyon 24 Jan 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Here’s a relatively creative idea. If the nanotech only gives you enhanced abilities and no negative effects why wouldn’t the government want it to spread. Wouldn’t adaptable human beings be better for society. Not only would people have a survivalist edge, but their abilities would allow them to foster a better future faster. Of course, that’s not taking into account the fact that not everyone would have the best intention for their powers.

    So you’re saying that if a character is a track star that they would end up with enhanced speed? That sort of thing?

  164. B. Macon 24 Jan 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I think it makes sense that a government would want to keep the nanotech from spreading. Letting the nanotech go loose could be catastrophic, but killing everybody involved probably reduces the risk of catastrophe. I think that gives you a lot of leeway, whether you’d like to portray the government here as a major villain, an anti-villain, or perhaps something more positive.

    Do you have any chapters ready?

  165. Ghoston 24 Jan 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Ragged Boy,
    I never said the nanotech did not have any negative effects, I just did not mention them yet because we were talking about how plausible my origin story was. So to answer both your question I think I should explain the fiction history behind the nanotech. It was orginal part of an experimental project run by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency), and was the culimation of several previous DARPA programs involving nano-manufacturing, robotics, and artificial intelligence . Codenamed Project COLONY, the programs goal was to create nano robots capable of working in unison over a mirco neural network. In essense the nanites are a hive mind intellegence where each individual nanite is dumb but together they can solve complex problems and preform complex tasks (imagine if all the cells in a human brain could moved autonomously from one another but still work together). However, the downside to this method of programming the nanites meant the every colony of nanites had to be taught, much like a human child, to do more complex tasks. This meant that each colony was highly adaptable and capable of evolving.
    While this meant that the nanites were capable of surviving in almost any environment (including the human body), it also meant that they were every had to destory once they had adapted to that environment. At the end of the project it was decided that due to the nanites simple yet highly adaptable nature they were to difficult to control. So if released into the world at large they might continue to evolves unchecked and posed a threat to the environment or the human race. From a strategic stand point the nanites are similar to a nuclear bomb, to dangerous to give to the general population or to fall into the hands of a possible enemy.
    Well I hope that answers your questions Ragged Boy, if not just let me know and I will try to clear the matter up more for you.

  166. Ghoston 25 Jan 2010 at 12:06 am

    Ok sorry I forgot to answer the last part of your post Ragged boy. So the nanotech basically improves on human body by augmenting it natural structure. So to increace strength the nanites would replace the damaged muscle that results from working out with nanotubes (composed of the nanites themselves). Or to increase reflexes and overall speed the nanotech would bridge the gaps between the cells in the nervous system in order to past the electrical impluse along more quickly.
    These affects would work on anyone, but of course the enhancements would be greater in an olympian than the average person. However the nanotech does not always meld perfectly with its host. So in the case of it augmenting the nervous system, the nanotech might need producing effects that are more like parkinson’s disease than super reflexes, or instead of increasing someone’s eyesight, the nanotech would make them go blind.

  167. Holliequon 25 Jan 2010 at 10:35 am

    So, these nanites are sort of semi-sentient, right? Can I ask why they are altering people like this, or even inhabiting the bodies in the first place? I mean, do the nanites need a “host”, or do they want to hide from the government and have freedom, or what?

  168. Ghoston 25 Jan 2010 at 2:53 pm

    So first off I would like to say “Yay”, because I am finally home and don’t have to post comments from my cell phone any longer.
    Holliequ,
    The answer to your first question is no. While the nanites’ behaviors and ability to adapt might make them appear to be sentient, they are really no more sentient than insects or bacteria. However, unlike bacteria and insects, the nanties have the trainability of high level mammals like dogs or dolphins depending on the size of the colony. Its kind of like the saying “If you give a thousand monkeys a thousand typewriters they’ll eventually produce King Lear.” Well, it is the same way with the nanites except they would only need a thousand micro-seconds (if you taught them how to type first)
    Now your next two questions will not be as easy to answer as the first, because their answers invovle a lot of fictional history and modern science blended together. um okay i have to go but i will finish this post soon. .

  169. B. Macon 25 Jan 2010 at 11:12 pm

    “It was originally part of an experimental project run by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency), and was the culmination of several previous DARPA programs involving nano-manufacturing, robotics, and artificial intelligence.” Yes! The chief weapons designer in the Superhero Nation comic book is named Dr. Darpa. I’m glad that someone will get the reference. ;-)

  170. roon 26 Jan 2010 at 9:16 am

    Ghost your story sounds good…Im excited to see what kind of characters you have.

  171. defon 13 Mar 2010 at 7:46 am

    So i have this story idea, im hoping it will be a novel, but i have never actually finished a project before, all i want is comments on how good the idea sounds, so be as brutal as you want. (pardon my spelling/grammar it sucks)

    the story is about a high school junior (year 11) named jake, who is somewhat of a loner, with only two real friends, and spends most of his free time on his computer. In the begining he is overwieght, has his hair cut short (im thinking 1/4 inch buzz cut) and is obsessed with becoming “cooler”. Jake feels he has lived his whole life away from the spotlight and it disqusts him. he is also hopelessly infatuated with one of the hottest girls in school, named Jennifer, who has no idea he exists.

    one night, as part of a cruel prank, a bunch of the more popular students invite jake and his friends to go on a camping trip with them. (they plan a prank once they get there, but i’m not sure what this is yey). However, there is a freak meteor shower and several large objects crash nearby.

    the objects are identifed as five pods that were carring something inside of them, which is later revealed to be several humanoids in power armor. after a short stint of these mysterious humanoids terrorizing the town, it is revealed that they are aliens searching for a specific family that has ties to their planet.

    it is then revealed to jake that his family is what they are searching for, as they are the descendants of an alien that was exhiled here for yet unknown reasons. the aliens find this out, and jakes father is killed. Jake, being the only male left in the blood line who is able to fight, is given the families secret possession, the power armor of their alien ancestor, which, when not in use, colapses down into either something he wears on his wrist (a very manly braclet) or something like a belt that he can wear somewhat inconspicuously.

    jake then manges to defeat the aliens that are hunting him, through the use of his new armor and what little knowledge of martial arts he has. when he fights the alien leading this group, it is revealed that they are only scouts, and that a bigger threat is on the way (sorry if this sounds DBZish, I will do my best to make it original).

    fearing that he cannot take on powerful alien warriors, jake freaks out and hides in his house. a few weeks later, he encounters Jayden, who is also an alien that landed in the meteor shower, but unlike the others he has come to prevent an interstellar war between his people and the aliens that attacked the town. He agrees to teach jake how to fight in order to face the threat that is coming, which is five more alien soldiers, but of an elite caste that is highly skilled and breed for combat. (my main villans)

    jayden also tells jake that they are not coming for him, but for another that is tied to their bloodline, but he does not say who because he feels that they will have a harder time finding this person if jake doesnt know. his training takes two months, though he still attends school, and it changes him immensly. he goes from being over wieght to being well built, muscular and very agile, and the training boosts his confidence, catapulting him into popularity, and suddenly, everything he’s ever wanted is within his reach, including the girl of his dreams. then the aliens arrive and everything goes to hell.

    Weaknesses (yes, there are some):

    while his suit makes him superior in any confrontation with a human, it only evens a match between any of the aliens he encounters

    his only true skill is that he has quickly mastered an alien form of combat

    his suit is old, at least 200 years, though they are incredibly rugged, his isnt as durable as his enimies’ suits, and his begins to break after several fights

    thats all i have right now. it is very chaotic and scattered, so anything will help

  172. roseaponion 17 Mar 2010 at 8:26 am

    Hi def, I really like the weaknesses and the fact that Jake does have to train and this training affects his life in various ways.

    But I am a little concerned that hostile aliens just happen to crash by his campsite, and then he discovers that he just happens to be half-alien himself. This might be tough to pull off. Also, just two months worth of training turns him into a hottie?

    Is there any way that being half-alien would make him predisposed to be overweight/awkward/nerdy? At least then that could explain the quick turnaround once he got in touch with his origins and started proper training, the way taking supplements can almost instantly help your health if you’re deficient in something.

    Also, from Jake’s point of view, what’s so great about the spotlight? He’d have done something to attract attention by now if that’s what he really honestly wanted. I think with the lack of self-confidence, he’s built up a dream of how great his life would be if he was a totally different person, not realizing that wherever he goes, there he is. He’s not playing to his own strengths, and he’s never going to get real self-confidence unless he figures out the strengths he already has and enhances and uses them.

    He might be able to fake new, cooler traits for awhile, but they aren’t who he is and they won’t do much for him in the long run.

    One thing that I think will make him a much more authentic character is if he stays the same person – a stronger, more confident version of himself is great. But not somebody who goes from being an introvert to an extravert (because a true introvert is exhausted by being around people, and extraverts are energized by other people, and that just doesn’t change in real life) or from being a couch potato to loving exercise and training (because that’s an incredibly difficult change in real life too).

    Anyway, it sounds like you have a rough idea of your character and his origins, which leaves you lots of room to play around with it and refine it until it rings true to you. It’s okay to take a long time to lay the groundwork like this – if you don’t get the groundwork right, you’ll end up with another half-finished story that can’t stand (speaking from experience here).

    One last thing: please don’t ask people to be brutal. Most don’t need an excuse, though from what I’ve read here everyone is very well-behaved and I’m sure B. Mac will smack anybody who starts flaming. :) Honesty, clarity, and politeness make good critiques that you can use. Brutality, snark, and other putdowns make a writer upset and obsessive, and sometimes defensive, and that doesn’t help creativity. You and your writing deserve common courtesy, so ask for it and own it :)

  173. defon 21 Mar 2010 at 1:44 am

    A lot of what I typed up when I posted was created on the spot, I was really excited to find such a helpful website, so much of it had not yet been seriously run over. As to the whole campsite coincidence, I will be heavily editing it; however, I do plan to have them land near his home town, as they do know that Jake’s father, and their primary target, live in the area, though they lack knowledge of their exact Identities. I also think a scout force should have a stealthier entrance, and may move the campsite meteor shower to when the second wave arrives. As to the training, I have realized that it takes time for average weight people to look hot, so your hybrid predisposition Idea holds merit, and I will definitely try to Incorporate It into the plot.

    As for the spotlight, Jake Is exactly as you explained, he’s never fit in, so he built up this great fantasy about what it would be like to be cool. However, he fails to see his true strength, and like you said It Is a false sense of self confidence, but he tries to play it to his advantage. I also want him to realize that all that he’s glorified isn’t something that he truly wants, that he isn’t meant to be like the “In crowd”, and build on his real strength. (I still haven’t figured all this out, I do my best thinking while I’m writing, even If I’m not thinking about what I write.)

    As for the whole introvert extrovert concept, I want him to fall in the middle, not totally a loner, but not someone who can handle people all the time either. I know this may confuse you based on what I wrote, but as I read your comment I realized that a story about a total loner will be somewhat boring, at least to me, and If It bores me I’ll never write It, so that needs some more work.

    As far as the overweight aspect, and his exercise routine, he never grows to love it, but views it as necessary to maintain his combat efficiency. I also don’t want him to look like a total nerd, the kind with coke bottle lenses, braces and bad acne, isn’t the Image I want to portray. I think we can all agree that computers (a major Identifying factor of a nerd), are major part of life, so his choice to use his allot is supposed to add to his kind of lonely atmosphere (f It still screams nerd, I may have to cut It.) I want to portray him as someone who Isn’t living up to his full potential because he Is so blinded by delusions of grandeur that he cannot see It, and then he slowly begins to realize It when he Is drawn Into a situation that he can change, If he chooses to act.

    If you have any Ideas on how to help me accomplish this, then please share.

    Oh, and as to the brutality comment, it was meant as sarcasm, though it probably didn’t come across that way. I find flames sent my way to be quite humorous, as they generally are groundless, and sometimes someone’s attempt at discouragement can motivate me to finish more than a helpful comment, I believe both are necessary, sometimes negative comments can evoke new thoughts, and change the way you view something differently, other times I can just Ignore It, however you are right, just because I tell hateful critics to shove It doesn’t mean I should encourage them to be rude to the rest of the people that want help. I will remove the aforementioned comment from future posts.
    [EDITOR: Gosh, that was a lot of editing and I don't even know if I got it all. Work on that writing, pal ;-) ]

  174. roseaponion 21 Mar 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Well, I did hesitate a bit about including “nerdy” in the list of ways your character could come across :) And I’ll be teaching how to do proper critiques soon in my class – bad critiques _kill_ writers, so it’s a tender spot for me. I tend to point out false ideas about critiques whenever I see them – anything to kill the myth that crits should be mean.

    I’ve studied a bit about introversion and extraversion – for instance, my husband and I are both introverts, and our 4yo is an extravert. We have to handle him in shifts, because, cute as he is, he’s exhausting. He gets a charge out of interacting with us (and anybody else) and we wear down. This is an interesting dynamic that creates real-life problems and can be applied to just about everything.

    There are degrees to intro- and extra- version, so your character doesn’t have to be a total loner, but if he’s even slightly introverted, trying to maintain fame like an extravert is going to make this charade really exhausting and he’ll crash when he finally comes home. Which will make it tough to get up in the morning and train, and probably turn him into a total jerk for as long as he gets little sleep and no real satisfaction from the realization of his dream.

    I think you have a great framework to explore this kind of dynamic in a way that rings true – I think most introverts have tried to “fix” themselves by becoming the more socially acceptable extravert, so Jake’s very easy to identify with. The trick, I think, is going to be getting this across in a way that doesn’t come across as hokey.

  175. defon 22 Mar 2010 at 3:57 am

    thanks alot, your posts have really helped me shape my character, i’ll post back when i get some more of the plot nailed down.

  176. roseaponion 22 Mar 2010 at 8:12 am

    You’re very welcome :) I’m of the “plot arises from character” school of thought myself, so the more you know about Jake, the better the plot will be in the end.

  177. Jakeon 22 Mar 2010 at 8:22 am

    Alright guys first off let me say that I really enjoy this site, because it offers so much advice. Secondly, I need help with my own Super Hero Novel that I am writing. This will be more of an emotional book than action, so it’ll be set more for drama.

    Here is an origin I am trying to use for the super-human community:

    The meteor that destroyed the dinosaur population gave off some strange gas that tainted several primitive humans and eventually formed a second race, identified and named in the 1960s as Homo Super by Dr. Abson. Homo Super or Superhumans as they are now called have all become carriers of the A-Gene. The A-Gene is the gene that is what carries the persons’ super-powers, which have since then varied extremely widely. There is literally know defining super-power which means super-humans vary differently with there powers and level of strength. This means that they are not equal and some are far stronger than others.

    So what do you guys think? Also could you set up a review forum for me?

  178. B. Macon 22 Mar 2010 at 11:04 am

    Hello, Jake. I’ve set up a review forum for you here.

    I think your premise is okay, but I think the story could be fleshed out. For example, who are the main characters? What’s at stake for them? What are their personalities like? What are they trying to accomplish?

    Also, why did it take until the 1960s to discover that superhumans have existed for thousands of years?

    Oh, and I added your website to your first comment.

  179. Jakeon 22 Mar 2010 at 11:11 am

    Thanks. And I actually have several things fleshed out. I just didn’t want to overload anyone lol. So I will have a comment on the review forum up later explaining nearly everything.

    Thanks again.

  180. B. Macon 22 Mar 2010 at 11:22 am

    Okay, that sounds good.

  181. defon 24 Mar 2010 at 4:19 am

    for Jake, i was thinking of linking his metabolism to his activity level. so in the begining of the book, when he doesnt do much, his metabolism slows down, and he becomes over weight. Then, when he begins training, his metabolism increases so that he burns calories faster and loses weight faster.

  182. roseaponion 24 Mar 2010 at 10:46 am

    Hi def :) That’s an interesting idea with lots of implications – for one, he’s going to be starving all the time once he starts training. The increase in muscle mass will mean he’s burning more calories even at rest, and he’s going to have a hard time keeping weight on once he’s burned through his fat. I foresee a lot of protein shakes in his future, and that stuff they market for marathon runners and weightlifters: Gu, creatine, whey protein, energy bars, etc. Gu is disgusting, by the way, no matter what flavor you get :)

    It sounds almost like a hibernation-type of metabolism once you exaggerate it to that point – store up fat and limit activity, and switch to becoming more active and more fit. It’s not such a stretch to me to expect his metabolism to be a little screwed up since he’s half-alien. He might actually need to cycle between extreme fitness and near-hibernation in order to keep his health in balance, or it could be a feature of the alien race. Maybe they need to cycle through in a more extreme way and actually hibernate, and he has an advantage in that he doesn’t have to, even though he’ll never reach the extreme level of strength that they can.

    Anyway, it’s a thought :)

  183. defon 24 Mar 2010 at 11:44 pm

    you’ve just given me and idea for a possible sequal.

    if i were to consider it, i could end the book on a cliff hanger with jake’s suit broken and at least one of his enemies still alive. however, that enemy has to go into his hibrenation period, (sounds lucky breakish but if it is set up right it could work), and then Jayden decides to take jake to the alien planet to acquire another suit. On the other planet, i could have some kind of trial to prove his worth, (since hes half human he could be viewed as weak) and i could limit the time of the hibernation so that jake has to worry about making it back to Earth before his enemy wakes up, providing suspense, and then have a big battle to wrap it all up.

  184. B. Macon 25 Mar 2010 at 12:05 am

    Yeah, I don’t think it’d be a lucky break. That late in the book, you could write it so that the hibernation period is a result of something Jake does.

  185. roseaponion 25 Mar 2010 at 6:32 am

    Hi def – I’m happy to help (and glad you don’t think I’m crazy :) )

  186. A. Joneson 28 Mar 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I was looking at this website and I was thinking of something along the lines of spiritual rather than scientific for my character’s origin story. It lends a lot more from anime/manga than it does from comic book realms but I figure that you guys will still have more expertise on this sort of thing than I do, especially since I will be planning on it being in an American Comic Book setting.

    I was figuring that my main character could be someone that was from a clan of martial artists that attacked with spiritual energy that were wiped out recently. The way this energy is utilized in battle is derived into the 2 categories of “Internal Use” and “External Use.” Internal Use is when energy is used in order to amplify physical attributes (strength, speed, sight, hearing, etc) in order to attack or evade enemies. External Use is when energy is used in order to fire energy blasts or create spiritual objects (whips, swords, shields, etc). This would create a great upside of versatility that will allow the character a variety of options to use in battle. The downside of this power is that it if he uses too much at one time that then he will become extremely fatigued or if he really overexerts himself, death. The way the character would try to minimize this downsize is trying to train himself as much as possible in order to increase the amount of energy he can use at one time.

  187. B. Macon 29 Mar 2010 at 1:21 am

    Hmm. That sounds good, A. Jones. It’ll probably feel less realistic than a sci-fi origin, but realism is a style and not a requirement.

    That said, I think that US comics publishers are a bit skewed towards sci-fi rather than fantasy (except Dark Horse, probably).

    Is this a modern setting? Using a modern setting might be one way to make a fantasy comic more palatable to a US publisher. I think that manga publishers are more open to stories set in the distant past, particularly feudal times. In contrast, most US comics (even the fantasies) are set in the present or thereabouts. (IE: Hellboy, Buffy, Dr. Strange, I Kill Giants, Dresden Files, that comic, and anything else adapted from an urban fantasy series).

  188. A. Joneson 29 Mar 2010 at 8:15 am

    He is going to be in a modern setting on a team of young superheroes (in my universe it is a requirement for superheroes to spend at least 4 years, once they turn 18 and either graduated from a superhero academy or received a waiver from someone from Head Committee in the Heroes Union [they are like the Justice League] on a team mentored by an established superhero before they can become a licensed superhero).

    What I want to do with this story is to thrust a dark anime/manga anti-hero type character into a team of typical comic book heroes against his will. I think it would be an interesting culture clash for the reader to enjoy. For example in anime stories villains are usually killed by the protagonists without any sort of hesitation while the typical hero in a comic book would want to keep him alive at all costs.

  189. Blah (x3) - ke$haon 01 Apr 2010 at 11:31 am

    If you were doing it on a group of superheroes would it be necessary to give all of them an origin, or could you leave some of it for the readers to decide?

    [EDITOR: Please Don't Capitalize All Your Words! It's Really Annoying]

  190. Ragged Boyon 01 Apr 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Hello Blah (x3),

    What’s the size of your team? The larger the team the less amount of time I’d recommend spending on origin stories. If the team has no more than five character, I’d say it would be okay to devote a sentence of origin for your members.

  191. B. Macon 01 Apr 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Ke$ha, I think you might be able to get away without giving one or more of them an origin, particularly if the origin is similar or significantly more banal than the origins that the reader learns about. For example, if one of the characters is a wizard who sold his soul to the Dark Lord of Retribution for ultimate power and another guy is just a melee punk, it would be far easier for us to infer what’s going on with the punk than the wizard. However, if the melee punk is actually a master of six kinds of martial arts, only two of which are taught on this planet, then spelling it out would probably be helpful.

    Also, if you’re interested in doing individual origins for all of the characters, one possibility that might help you save time is just having a character recount what happened in a sentence or two and then you can spend more time on one or two of the origins that are particularly important to the story.

  192. Blah (x3) - ke$haon 02 Apr 2010 at 3:31 am

    Thanks RaggedBoy And B.Mac :D Both were very helpful and I’m starting to come up with their origins and just going to recount them like you said :D
    Thanks!

  193. TheNewHeroon 02 Apr 2010 at 10:24 am

    How do you brign the whole mutant story in without feeling like an X-Men rip-off? Just change the mutant origin? The name?

  194. Lighting Manon 02 Apr 2010 at 10:58 am

    Well, generally, the primary steps taken are indeed a different name (or no name) and a different origin, DC Comics handled this by using the same basic story as Marvel provided for the Inhumans, an alien race came to Earth and genetically altered numerous human beings, leading to an unrecognized separate-but-superior subspecies. However, I don’t think that a story using a basic “Wee! Superpowers randomly appeared!” origin is necessarily going to draw comparisons to X-Men unless you bring them. The television series Heroes invited them by actually using the whole evolution jargon taken directly from X-Men in the pilot and beyond, but there’s been plenty of stories before and after X-Men that involved random appearances of powers, and it really only becomes apparent they are inspired by X-Men when they directly take from the X-Men.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It's_a_Good_Life_(The_Twilight_Zone)

  195. Anonymouson 02 Apr 2010 at 3:07 pm

    If you just take an idea but put a twist on it, it should be fine. I would recommend looking at lots of shows/comics and things like that. Checking their idea’s and then seeing the difference and you could take something from each one, creating your own.

  196. Mike Alexanderon 06 Apr 2010 at 12:43 pm

    My background is in Biology, so I was inspired by some of my education:

    My solution for the origin of powers (“Talents”) was that the arrival of two alien races altered reality (because of their ships’ Synapse drives- point to point quantum travel) so that anyone conceived around 1989 has the chance of having their junk DNA removed and placed into a third sex chromosome (Z, or “Zeta”). This is a deus in machina device that lets someone react to high stress environments and adapt instantly a mechanism to respond. For example, being struck by lightning allow Marc Embers to control electricity and thunderstorms as Tempest. Nick Jennings was in a fiery car accident in a snowstorm, so can control fire and ice.

    The other option I have for Talents is magic. There are no magicians like John Constantine or Harry Potter, but someone can be a descendant of a deity- Mane, who can channel animal powers through his great X grandfather Cernunnos. Or someone can wield a mystic or cosmic object. Bluehook gets his elephant strength from a family heirloom, an ancient ankhus. Foxfire gets his powers of fire control from a gem from outer space, just one of hundreds floating around since the beginning of time.

    As long as your universe’s rules are consistent, there really shouldn’t be an other limits on what is plausible or not.

  197. Con-Elon 09 Apr 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Hey guys since we’re talking about origin stories. I thought of an interesting idea today and would love to know what everyone might think. Ok so this idea would lend itself to a solo-hero story at first, like Spiderman. Ok so the main character would already be empowered and would be using his ability for fun and to show off. His life is great, right where he wants it. Fantastic family and a lab for performing his experiments with his friends and colleagues. Than his identity is stolen. His bank accounts and his experiments are nowhere to be found. The worst pert is that his colleagues, friends and even his family have no idea who he is. I’m talking the ulitmate identity theift. This spurs him to uncover who did this to him and why. This will lead him into conflict with, as I imagine it, a cut-throat businessperson (could be a man or a woman) who has become something of a superpower broker. This person would be the man main villain for his story for at least a couple arcs. I just wanted to get some opinions. Gauge the idea a little, so what does everyone think?

  198. B. Macon 09 Apr 2010 at 8:10 pm

    As far as identity theft, I found the premise of Existence 2.0 more interesting: the main character develops a body-swap process and uses it on a hitman that had been sent to kill him.

    So the character loses his bank accounts, probably most of his possessions, his friends and family, etc. Why should readers care? Your premise sounds okay, but I don’t feel it’s as urgent as being thrown into the sink-or-swim world of a professional hitman.

    Moreover, deeper in the rewriting process, one thing I’d worry about is that it sounds like the book starts more or less as he gets superpowers, but that the story starts noticeably after that (when his identity is stolen). How quickly could you wrap up the setup/premise and get to the part where he actually starts to resolve the conflict between him and the broker? If this were a comic book, I think it would be best if you could move from setup to the main conflict (or at least foreshadow the main conflict) inside of ten pages.

    This might work better as a novel, I think. For one thing, novel readers will give you more time before getting bored and deciding that the story has failed to launch.

  199. Con-Elon 10 Apr 2010 at 4:23 am

    Well that idea was an ‘off the top of my head’ idea that just popped up yesterday. I’d like to pursue it. But maybe I’d forget about the identity thieft concept completely. And maybe the idea would work better like this; two friends, who have superpowers use them in secret to provide good lives for their families and themselves by stealing small-scale stuff and ripping people off. You know they con people, but they aren’t out to hurt anyone. Perhaps one of the people they steal from is the superpower broker, earning his/her attention. The main character and his friend are approached by this person and their lackeys. The broker tells the main character that in order to make amends, he must now round up people with superpowers to bring to him/her, no questions asked. The main character’s friend and partner in crime is taken as collateral. At least until the debt has been repaid. So forgetting about the identity thieft thing, what do you think about this idea?

  200. bretton 12 Apr 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Hm, it’s interesting Con-el. Sounds like Robin hood with superheros and the broker is king richard. Would this be a stand alone like your other concept or a series?

  201. Con-Elon 13 Apr 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Not sure yet. I’m just trying to get some ideas. I’ve got my main project that I’m still trying to finalize and I merely wondered where I’m going next. I am attempting to build my own comic book universe not just one story. You know like how Marvel has X-men, Spiderman, Fantastic Four and the Avengers. I hope to construct a similar list of titale under my own banner. But for now I’m working on my one and only story for the time being. I’d like to get into details, but I’m afraid there really aren’t that many yet. I mean I’vew got the heroes, a few villains and the a tentative plot for arc 1, but that’s about it.

  202. bretton 13 Apr 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Yeah I get what you’re saying, what powers do your villains have? Is it one villain and a bunch of henchmen or are there individual villains?

  203. Con-Elon 14 Apr 2010 at 8:16 pm

    They are individual villains. I mean some work together and some have similar goals, you know things like that. But my proudest accomplishment is the conception of The Empire. A group of some of the most powerful villains in my universe who have banned together to just do whatever they want. For now, it’s a small group but I intend to bolster their ranks during the course of the story.

    As for the powers, well here’s the list.
    -shadow manipulation
    -super-strength
    -multiplication
    -telepathy
    So brett, is that what you wanted to know?

  204. Herojockon 06 Jun 2010 at 7:32 am

    Hey guys I’m in little need of assistance here. Simply I want people to gain abilities through eating food, plant and animals. I’m thinking along the lines of genetic modified and or dangerous chemicals. Not to sure yet, but any guidance with the pseudo- superhero science would be great.

  205. B. Macon 06 Jun 2010 at 8:50 am

    Maybe the food comes primarily from a farm downstream of a large chemical plant that just had a major accident. The authorities only shut the place down after the food has been on the market for several hours, giving the protagonists (and maybe the antagonists) a chance to ingest the contaminated food before it’s recalled.

    In terms of pseudo-science, I don’t think you’ll need to drop too much mumbo-jumbo on this one. It’s commonly accepted among superhero readers that chemicals unfit for human consumption can cause superpowers (and few major health problems) when consumed by or exposed to protagonists. ;-) See Static Shock, TMNT, etc.

    If you were so inclined, you could go into more detail into what the chemical plant is working on. Maybe something military-related. Maybe something nefarious. Either one would make it easier to understand why the chemicals just happen to cause superpowers, particularly exotic ones. (Generally, I think exotic superpowers deserve more explanation. Whereas superstrength, agility and intelligence are simply enhancements to what the body already does, borderline-magical abilities like weather-control and gravity-control usually benefit from a line or two of explanation to help readers suspend their disbelief).

  206. Herojockon 06 Jun 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks B.Mac but I’m thinking more along the lines of pharmaceutical fruits and vegetables. The idea is that a new wonder vaccine is discovered by the heroes father and the public dub it the ‘holy grail’. His company is on a humanitarian mission and works with the World health organization and the Red cross to administrate it. Naturally it all goes wrong and it has to be rolled back before it causes a global crisis. Few millions might die, the few infected survivors gain powers. Not sure on everything yet though. But I do know the dad will end up killing himself out of immense guilt and the son will inherit his fathers burden.

  207. B. Macon 06 Jun 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Hmm, okay. Maybe the father genetically engineers a fruit to produce antibodies that can help fight a particular disease or a set of diseases. So, for example, just looking at HIV/AIDS… treating HIV in the US costs around $25,000 per patient per year. In the third world, it’s about $90 per year, which is a substantial burden in desperately poor countries where the average income might only be a few hundred dollars to begin with.

    So the father figures “hey, if I can engineer these fruits to grow the treatment for [your favorite pressing disease], it’d be helluva cheap for third-world farmers to grow their own treatments.” Maybe the WHO is so excited about the prospects that they hastily sign off on the fruits without doing adequate long-term testing and they belatedly discovered that eating the fruits can cause substantial troubles a few years down the line. Unfortunately, by that point, it’s too late for most of the people that have started eating them. A small portion of the people survive with superpowers.

    I assume that you’d want these fruits to be eaten in both the first world and third world, so maybe instead of AIDS or malaria specifically you’d do something like influenza or just a generic resistance to disease. As for sci-fi mumbo jumbo, you can make bold claims based on biology terms found on Wikipedia. IE: “The fruit has been genetically modified to produce a protein that drastically stimulates lymphocytic activity in the bone marrow, accelerating the immune response against [target].” Eventually, you can reveal that these super-lymphocytes gradually lose the ability to distinguish between native and foreign cells, causing a severe autoimmune response that is typically fatal. I wouldn’t recommend going into more detail than that unless you have a good reason to (for example, if you’re doing a medical thriller like The Andromeda Strain).

  208. Castilleon 07 Nov 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I got a guy who starts his career as a movie stuntman. He learns a martial art throughout the book and by the end is able to defeat a steroid-pumping madman with just his bare hands.

  209. ekimmakon 07 Nov 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Is it possible to learn a rough form of self-defence from gymnastics?

  210. Lighting Manon 07 Nov 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Jurassic Park – The Lost World (movie) says that a sufficiently trained little girl can kill grown gigantic velociraptors with gymnastics, so I’d think so.

    Although, it is weird that characters like that always finds odd poles mounted in every single location that they get into an altercation with.

  211. Lighting Manon 07 Nov 2010 at 4:26 pm

    My cat decided that there is an epidemic of characters fighting locations, and she may have had a point. Why did Sam Raimi’s Peter Parker decide to fight that brick building? Did it shoot Uncle Ben? Is body-slamming buildings a good idea?

    “odd poles mounted in every single location that they get into an altercation with enemies in.”

  212. B. Macon 07 Nov 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “Is it possible to learn a rough form of self-defence from gymnastics?” Realistically, I’m guessing no*. But I think it’s believable in fiction (whether or not it’s realistic). For example, Robin and Kim Possible used gymnastics in their combat techniques.

    *Obviously, I’m neither a gymnast nor martial artist. However, I doubt that learning pre-scripted gymnastic routines would significantly help someone prepare for combat, which is unpredictable and requires quick reflexes and adjustments. The agility and general physical fitness would probably help, though.

  213. ekimmakon 07 Nov 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Sorry, I meant would it be plausible.

  214. B. Macon 07 Nov 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Yeah, I think it’d feel plausible.

  215. Castilleon 07 Nov 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Yeah, the other thing is that my guy doesn’t get actual ‘superpowers’ until the end of the novel. The villain injects him with a refined version of the same steroids that he was pumping. The catch is that it’s permanent and speeds up a person’s reflexes and agility considerably. Do you think its too much to expect people to wait until the end for the superpowers to be gained?

  216. Queeequegon 20 Dec 2010 at 5:50 am

    Your point about drugs was fascinating . I’d never considered using drugs as an origin story… I suppose there are flaws in terms of biology, but that doesn’t really matter in the context. In terms of character, I think you could get some really awesome depth out of having a superhero who saves/improves/enlightens lives, eliminates crime, and only has his/her powers because he/she took one too many hits as a teenager. I need to write this story!

    (Sorry about any formatting mistakes here, by the way. I don’t know if coding will show up here or just be a huge inconvenience and make me look like a real idiot.)

  217. Aineon 21 May 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Compound M-452 (Mutagenic) was developed by Pembroke Enterprises to create a super-soldier. However, it’s too random to be an effective tool for modifying soldiers- it is irreversible and mutations aren’t necessarily going to give you “cool superpowers.”

    It causes you to produce Meta-Human Growth Hormone which interacts with other enzymes your body produces, some of which are the result of mutations caused by M-452. The higher the concentration, the higher the likelihood of “unpleasant” mutations.

    The Foundation, an enigmatic group pretty much no one has heard of outside the more “insane” conspiracy forums, releases the virus in several metropolitan areas to speed up the evolution of mankind. They have plans to release the virus in London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, and other big cities worldwide. America was simply Phase I. The Foundation was created by meta-humans from earlier rounds of testing, dating back to the late seventies.

  218. Aineon 22 May 2011 at 5:02 pm

    In addition not everyone’s modified genes result in MHGH production, it depends on the genes in place. It’s also possible it could kill you…

    The gene for MHGH production is recessive.

  219. Comicbookguy117on 22 May 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Hey guys, I’ve got another question pertaining tothe universe I’m creating. I’ve got several stories in development already but it is difficult for me to stop thinking about cool ideas. So here’s my question, a recent idea came to that I think is just hilarious. It pertains to five kids ‘borrowing’ one of a group robots meant for unmanned army combat using it to become a single superhero. They do this by using a head-mounted interface device and other equipment to control and moniter the well being of the robot. I really don’t have much else I just think, given the proper planning, that it could lead to a very funny superhero comic. So what do you all think?

  220. B. Macon 22 May 2011 at 11:28 pm

    “It pertains to five kids ‘borrowing’ one of a group [of] robots meant for unmanned army combat using it to become a single superhero.” I dunno. I guess it could be expanded into an anime-style story or something like Power Rangers, but it sounds sort of thin so far. (For example, is there anything distinguishing the kids? What are their personalities like? How would this be better than/different from Power Rangers? What about this setup would make it conducive to a comedy?*)

    *For example, in The Taxman Must Die, most of the comedy revolves around the conflict between an aggressively banal accountant and his paramilitary mutant alligator partner.

  221. Neilon 29 May 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Hello there, first off I want to extend my thanks to the creators of the site. I know I have stated this before, but it has helped me in understanding the nature of superheros and how one should go about crafting them.

    With this in mind, I do have an idea for a superhero origin story. Basically, it’s about a teenager, who while living comes across an ancient artifact that is of extra terrestrial nature.

    To make a long story short, he incorrectly handles the item which results in its detonation. From the accident he gains superpowers.

    How does the plot sound? I know it is very cliche in many retrospects, but as I have been told most stories are. In fact, I’m hoping this turns out well.

    Anyway, I apologize if this post was too long. Hopefully, the idea sounds good.

  222. B. Macon 29 May 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Thanks again, Neil!



    As for your story, it sounds workable but I think the teenager could be fleshed out more. For example, what sort of teenager is he? What’s his personality like? Why will readers care about whether he lives or not?

    As for the plot itself, what’s the conflict in the story like? What does the teen do that leads to the detonation? (IE: Is he goofing around with it? Fiddling around with it because he’s a budding mechanic that likes to take things apart?)

    –BM

  223. defon 31 May 2011 at 4:46 am

    So i have had to take a long break from the world of writing with my college courses and I finally got some free time so i have been going over my ideas lately. The post i have on this page about a boy name Jake gaining access to an alien powered armor suit is the one that has been rolling around in my head the longest, and i want to bounce some ideas off you guys, since i have had good luck with other posts.

    Instead of using powered armor, i want to use an alien organism that inhabits his body. The creature is fully sentient, but bonds with another organism for survival, living in a symbiotic relationship with the host. upon attachment to a host, it modifies the neural network with its own pathways, allowing it to tap into the hosts senses. it also creates a set of pores on the body of the host through which it secretes a chemical mixture that covers the hosts body and quickly hardens into a molecular armor.

    Where i originally wanted powered armor for the increased strength, i think i want to focus more an heightened reflexes and increased agility as the main abilities of my hero. The armor is durable, yet can be broken if it is subjected to constant abuse.

    all of the reconfiguring of the body is done gradually to avoid injuring the host, so he wont be superpowered right away, and he has to deal with a fully sentient entity in his body that can speak to him through his nervous system.

    The overall plot is still the same, what i am having trouble with is my originality, I’m afraid my idea comes to close to the concept of venom, granted i made my character a super hero, not a villain, but i still see it that way. Does it have enough merit to stand on its own or should i tweak it?

    Thanks in advance,

    Def

  224. K Perryon 01 Jun 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Most of my characters got their superpowers because they were genetically altered before birth to save their lives. Their are two characters who received their powers from magic.

  225. ekimmakon 01 Jun 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I have a very complicated way of tieing all powers into one big origin, but people still use terms like Mutant and Freaxter from habit.

  226. K Perryon 03 Jun 2011 at 10:37 am

    I forgot to mention that I am having one issue, I am trying to come up with a name for the superheroes power. I don’t want to call them mutants or meta-humans because that has been done but I need to call them something, I thought of mutagens and a derogatory name they are called is mutt. ra

  227. B. Macon 03 Jun 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I think it depends on the style you’re going for. For example, here are some that might fit, but they have different tones built in.
    –upgrades
    –nonhumans
    –posthuman
    –neos
    –capes (if the stereotype is that superpowered people wear capes). Alternately, masks. The Taxman Must Die sometimes uses “coats” as slang for superpowered agents, particularly of the nonhuman variety. Most of the story is set in places where most humans would not wear coats (South Carolina, India, Florida, Georgia, Angola, the District of Columbia in the summer, etc). Hence “coat-killer” rounds.
    –reboots (possibly abbreviated to just reb).

  228. K Perryon 09 Jun 2011 at 12:04 pm

    thanks, I have it, they will be call neo-humans. I think I will keep mutts as a derogatory term though.

  229. FotV/Annaon 12 Jun 2011 at 11:23 am

    What do you think about modified drugs as a source of superpowers? For an idea I play around with whenever I get bored of FotV, We’ll just call it Juno since that’s the main character’s name, there was this corporation that was paying some scientists to try to modify a drug I made up called Flash for “military application.” It enhances strength, agility, speed, reflexes, and healing as well as making you hyper-aware (this tends to put people on edge and takes getting used to even in its purified form before it can have any value to superheroics). However, it messes up the mind to much to have any value on its own. You’re pretty much high. Continued use can lead to permanently altered mind and personality.

    The corporation has had scientists working on it for a decade. One of these scientists, Jack Ruark (June “Juno” Ruark’s dad), discovered the company’s ulterior motives for modifying the drug and destoys all records of it (or so he believes). They kill him for it and Juno finds one of his notebooks detailing one of the alterations, 142. She believes this is the only surviving record of the modifications, but a couple other formulas are floating around out there. She reads the very thorough notes and learns that it does all the good stuff Flash does, and has “minor” psychological/neurological effects (mood swings, impulsiveness, addiction) and decides it would be a good idea to try to replicate it and inject it into herself. She nearly overdoses, but after a couple hours she’s fine and plans to not use so much next time. She uses it to fight crime and corruption, though it takes its toll. She drops out of college and has to rely on stealing to make enough money to pay for Flash as a lot of it gets wasted in the purification process.

    She teams up with Tobias (aka Orwell), a hacker who fights corruption through investigating and exposing criminal activity. He’s part of a national network of people that do the same thing and was not doing it by himself. His dad owns the company in question. When Juno finds out this will be a source of tension between the two. Tobias is the more grounded and realistic of the two.

    Corruption is a really big problem as the US is definitely not a first world country after a virus wipes most computers (specifically targeting financial and government data stored, even back ups) thrusting nearly everyone into poverty. That was eleven years ago but the consequences are still apparent (year is 2053).

  230. FotV/Annaon 12 Jun 2011 at 11:25 am

    She has to continually inject 142 every so often or she’ll lose her abilities (and go through some serious withdrawls).

  231. Crystalon 13 Jun 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Works for me!
    (Man, I wish I’d thought of that…)

  232. FotV/Annaon 13 Jun 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks. I wasn’t sure how well liked she’d be as she’s basically a glorified drug addict and drug addicts could interpret it as a pro-drug abuse comic. It’s mostly antidrug but there is an issue when the boss decides to submit everyone to drug tests and 142 still shows up as Flash.

    I may actually abandon my current project for it as one of my characters wound up with language as a character in a similar show.

  233. Crystalon 14 Jun 2011 at 9:58 am

    Which character? I checked out your forum (sorry, didn’t have time to leave a comment, but it was pretty good) and I didn’t see any similarities to any characters in a TV show or a comic book…That being said, I don’t watch a lot of TV, and my comic book knowledge is pretty much just Spiderman…but I don’t have a problem with any of your characters.

    I can’t see the drug abuse being a problem…Let me tell you, though, you have some great ideas!

  234. FotV/Annaon 16 Jun 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks. Do you have a review forum? I couldn’t find one, but I’m lazy and didn’t look very hard.

  235. FotV/Annaon 16 Jun 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Isaac. He’s like a bald, black clone of Malcom Reynolds with better English. Totally did not do that on purpose, but I fear the only way to fix it is to toss the current crew and go with one of my alternate crew setups. It features a Chandni like character as captain. But if I do that then it would be hard for me to do a storyline where she gets pregnant and has a baby. It works better if she’s pregnant behind the controls of a spaceship than if she’s pregnant on the front lines of crime. Plus I’d have to make major changes to the story and I’m just at the point I want to illustrate it and move on to the second. Plus I’d have to change a bunch of backstories.

    Still, I’m going to try that and see if it works. Unfortuneately, that crew had seven characters and I never figured out how to fit a seven character crew into 32 pages. That’s why you’ve never heard of Gregor Cale, and I loved Cale’s character. Alternatively I could make Bridget the medic since she can have had the training necessary if the story calls for it (plus she can speed up anyone’s healing by using her blood and injecting them with it). It would be a lot more work, but I think it could be a lot more interesting when the medic turns out to be someone whose theme song “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor.” It would require major reworkings of story ideas, but is preferrable to having seven main characters.

  236. B. Macon 16 Jun 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Crystal’s review forum is here.

  237. MochiMoogleon 23 Jun 2011 at 9:03 pm

    For one thing, i would just like to say that I love this website… I’ve had so many story ideas bouncing around for years with extended plots, but I’ve always been lazy to write them. Right now, I have a Superhero-ish thing going on right now.

    So basically, hundreds of years ago, the last surviving witch was about die (the other pureblood witches/wizards married in with humans so much that the magical gene was gone) so she uses the last bit of her of her power to split her powers individually and put them into the genetic stream of the future (talking about a few hundred years in the future all being born within the same 50 years) and then she dies.

    Now in the present, there are a few hundred people (as my “super smarts” character would say: “Approximately 372 powers exist :D ) each with one power. Ten of them were born at the beginning of the 50 year period having the powers of Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Light, Shadow, Sound, Metal, Electricity, and the Power of Will (which is known as the most powerful, because one can just “will” something to happen, like the original witches) Not sure on the backstory entirely, but they all find each other and somehow discover someone else, just born recently, who also has a power. They realize that there must be others like them, just not born yet, so they all rise up in power (for money and permissions for things) and begin building an underground town just for people with powers, as they were likely to be looked at as freaks (sorta like X-men)

    20 or 30 years later, the underground town has been successfully built, but three or four of the original members have been killled by a mysterious force, and the remaining members later discover newborns with the same abilities as their fallen comrades (indicating that once one with the power has died, someone else will be born with the power)

    The story itself starts with a girl (about 16) who wakes up in a room with no memory whatsoever, not even a name. The only memory she has was being saved (from the enemy who i’m sure who/what it is yet) and a boy towering over her. an unknown figure walks in and gives her an identity (Lucia) and puts her in a “class” of about 30 students, unaware that they all have abilities. As she discovers this, she has no idea what her ability is. (a little wooden toy follows her around so they believe for a while that it is “personification” even though she is actually the new “power of will” holder)

    They are nearing “graduation” of the power primary school and are about to placed into one of six groups (fire, water, wind, earth, dark, or light…. sound leads the leaders of each group, and the other three groups were “offed” for various reasons) which all specialize in different things, (assassinations, fighting, assisting other groups, keeping the town and people a secret, recon., and healing/research respectively) and fulfill missions of sorts, but first they must find their “partner”. (I haven’t come up with the “correct” name for the partner yet)

    The role of the partner is simple. One person has an offensive power and the other has a defensive type power which somewhat cancel each other out (ex: copying powers and neutralizing powers). The two “partners” form a bond similar to imprinting from Twilight… i know its kinda ew, but the difference is that its definitely romantic. Everyone in the class is divided into the offensive and defensive and then set to find someone. Lucia then spots the man from her small memory, Reams, a metal user. She feels a wierd spark when she makes eye contact, which is the described feeling for the “partner” buisness, but she is quickly informed that she is wrong because they are both offensive users, plus he already has a partner. Everyone in the class is paired up and Lucia ends up paired up with Rufus, a guy she didn’t have the spark for but he claims he had one for her. Lucia and Rufus are then assigned to the Dark group along with two other pairs, of which the two offensive users become her best friends.

    And to end this very long summary crappily, (see? made up word) Lucia beats the bad guys, slowly realizes the deep corruption within the system of leadership in the super powers itself, and still manages to get Reams, the love interest!!

    Sorry :/ I’ll explain anything I forgot to mention already

  238. B. Macon 23 Jun 2011 at 11:44 pm

    “For one thing, i would just like to say that I love this website…” Thanks!



    When you’re proposing the story to publishers, I’d recommend leading with the main characters in the “now” of the story rather than what’s happened 50 or hundreds of years of ago. (For example, you could reorient the description by describing the backstory like the main characters themselves will learn it—in the present, they will learn about the past, right?) I think that will help draw the reader’s attention to the main characters, who tend to be the most interesting thing going on in the story. For example, I think starting with Lucia and walking us through what she learns about the mysterious place she’s in would probably be a more natural way to introduce the backstory in the proposal.

    Since Lucia appears to be the main character (or at least the first main character introduced to readers), I’d recommend going into her personality and choices in more depth. For example, how does she respond to waking up in a room with no memories? (Is she curious to find out what happened? Is she scared? Does she sense that anything is amiss? Does she wonder why all of her memories are gone? Etc).



    To simplify the backstory, it might be easier to reduce the original 10 groups to maybe 7. Then maybe one of those gets “offed” for whatever reason. I still think six active groups is a pretty complicated caste system, though. 4-5 might be easier on your readers. For example, “assassinations” and “keeping the town a secret” could probably be rolled into the same group, and “assisting other groups” is redundant with every other group so it’s probably not necessary or particularly interesting. (Getting born into that group would probably suck more than drawing Hufflepuff in Hogwarts ;-) ).

    “The two “partners” form a bond similar to imprinting from Twilight… I know it’s kinda ew, but the difference is that it’s definitely romantic.” When you submit something to publishers, please try to make it sound more appealing than “kinda ew.” If you feel your story is gross in some way, I’d recommend rewriting it until it’s not. :-) PS: Personally, I find it mostly unappealing that their romance is written in the stars like that. I would not be very interested in a preordained romance*—how much uncertainty could there be there? Then again, I’m totally antipathetic about the romance genre (like most men), so please take my aversion with a grain of salt and consult with some trusted romance fans about that point.

    *UPDATE: In retrospect, her romance isn’t actually preordained and she’s probably vying for Reams even though he’s NOT her preordained soul-mate. However, the system of romances would probably appear to be preordained to most readers until relatively late in the book. If it’s a major point that she needs to overcome this system, I’d recommend making that clear when you make your proposal to publishers.

    I’m not really feeling the offense vs. defense breakdown, either… Will you be able to involve the defensive characters in a variety of scenes, or will they be usually also-rans like sidekicks? For example, in my own work, The Taxman Must Die, the supercops are usually split into two-person teams of combat specialists (operatives) and crime-solvers (investigators), so I’m pretty confident that I can give each character something interesting to do in a variety of situations.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions or ideas.

  239. defon 30 Jun 2011 at 2:47 am

    wow, i cant believe how unfocused and unguided my older posts are, and that it’s taken years and i haven’t got everything together yet…

  240. Delveron 24 Jul 2011 at 2:34 pm

    hey, is it possible for a Marvel character to accidentally create a character I am creating?

  241. Delveron 24 Jul 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Because I am making a superhero who is accidentally changed into a being who has jet-black skin and can faze through walls. Originally the experiment was meant for Mr. Fantastic to improve his powers but the experiment backfired and almost killed the main character; Danny Donsil. At first he believes that he has become a horrible freak or monster and tries to kill himself. But ends up saving someone’s life and that is when he realizes his potential. He sort of looks like Venom, but he is more buff and has large claws. Plus his eyes are completely white, no pupils to be seen. He decides to call himself Phantom Faze in memory of his friend who’s name was Johnny Haze!

  242. invader-mynaon 24 Jul 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Um, if your novel/comic book is a work of fanfiction, you can. But if you’re not writing fanfiction, you can’t legally publish using someone elses’ characters, let alone Marvel’s…

  243. ekimmakon 24 Jul 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Don’t think so.

  244. B. Macon 24 Jul 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I agree with IM’s answer. If your goal is to get this published, I would recommend cutting Marvel’s characters out of the story. Marvel and DC have VERY aggressive legal departments.

  245. Delveron 25 Jul 2011 at 4:54 pm

    How about this for a story?

    A criminal gets out of jail after his four years in jail for murder. But he didn’t kill anyone, it was a set up by a secret terrorists known as Saber Interprise; owned by Gabriel Saber.
    After walking around town, Jamie Johnson (the criminal) meets a very old friend from when he was four. Now Frank Tethro (the friend) is a intelligent inventer of murder weapons. But he only sells his products to people he believe deserves to kill. Meaning that the person or people being killed have to deserve to die.
    Jamie wants to get back at Saber, so he asks his old friend to aid him to his revenge! Frank agrees and chemically changes Jamie into a masterpiece of mass murder. Now Jamie has jet-black skin on top of his normal skin, a spiky spine, and he can go through walls and other stuff.
    But he decides to not harm innocents, and thus protect them. Becoming a superhero known as Phantom Faze!

  246. invader-mynaon 25 Jul 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Why did Saber Interprise (Enterprise?) frame Jamie Johnson for the murder? Or is that to-be-revealed as the story goes on?

  247. B. Macon 25 Jul 2011 at 5:43 pm

    “A criminal gets out of jail after his four years in jail for murder.” Hmm, that’d be a notably light murder sentence. Is there some reason he got out around as quickly as the average drug offender? (I think murder is typically 25+ years, although criminals tend to get released halfway through their sentence). In New York, for example, even second-degree manslaughter is 10-25 years. (Some examples of 2D manslaughter: accidentally killing someone by driving recklessly or by firing a gun into the air during a New Year’s celebration. 2D manslaughter is committed without malicious intent and isn’t committed alongside any other felony).

    One possibility would be extending his prison sentence. I think that would also help explain why an otherwise normal guy decides to kill someone in revenge. I suspect 10-15 years in prison would probably fit better.

    “Frank Tethro (the friend) is a intelligent inventor of murder weapons. But he only sells his products to people he believe deserves to kill.” It might be more interesting if Frank is a legitimate scientist/inventor his friend has to convince him that his mission is moral enough that he should help him with this one murder. As it is, I think it could be contrived that the protagonist needs help carrying out a murder and just happens to know someone that specializes in them.

    How does Jamie find out that his friend specializes in helping people commit murders? (Given that Frank is intelligent and hasn’t been caught by the police yet, I’d assume he’d try to hide that from as many people as possible). How do people find out about his “services”?

    What’s Frank’s motivation like? He’s a talented inventor. What would lead him to spend his life assisting murderers rather than inventing more, umm, legal things?

    Like IM, I’d like to know why Saber Enterprise framed Jamie Johnson. One possibility is that they were going to kill the victim anyway and Jamie Johnson just happened to be a convincing fall guy for whatever reason. Another possibility is that he was framed because he was doing something that somehow threatened or bothered Saber. For example, maybe he was a journalist or cop getting too close to the trail. Another possibility involves Frank. Maybe Saber was trying to get Frank on his team, but Frank balked (because Saber doesn’t fit his code), so Saber got back at him by pinning a murder on his friend.

    “But he decides to not harm innocents, and thus protect them. Becoming a superhero known as Phantom Faze!” This name strikes me as a bit out-of-place with the rest of the story. I get the impression that the story is relatively gritty/mature, given that one character is neck-deep in murders and another wants fatal revenge… And that’s just the protagonists. “Phantom Faze” strikes me as a bit more whimsical. I don’t think it fits here. (Also, the [Noun/Adjective] [Verb] structure is a bit more wacky than, say, [Adjective] [Noun] or just [Noun]).

  248. Delveron 26 Jul 2011 at 5:57 pm

    It turns out that Frank Tethro use to be in the US army force until they kicked out for trying to kill his commanding officer. So he was sent to prison for 10 years, and came out into a world filled with hate and death. So he formed a little group known as the LIFE Force(stands for Life or death missions against Injustice crimes, and Fortifying the rights of your Every-day man). But years later it crumbled after so many deaths and after Frank grew crazier (mostly because of his drinking habits).
    That’s when he met a young twenty year old named Jamie Johnson who only wanted to buy a car. Frank owned a car place that had a car Jamie wanted. But Jamie soon found out that the world was filled with disgusting little gangs known as the Reba’s (pronounced Ray-baws). Soon Jamie runs into a wannabe gangbanger known as Richie Tusk, and he wanted the same car Jamie did. Richie takes out his silent pistol and fires it, but Frank jumps between the bullet and Jamie and fires a loud pistol at the gangster. The cops come to see Jamie holding a gun, a wounded man, and a dead guy. So they pinned murder on him and charged him for assaulting the man. They released the charges for wounding the man, but sent Jamie to jail for the murder of the gangster!
    Gabriel Saber is the one who told the jury that the gangster that died was his best friend, when really it was one of his new gangsters. After getting out of jail, Jamie meets up with Frank to ask him some questions. Frank tells Jamie that he knows a way that Jamie could help them both. So Jamie enlists Jamie in a new group known as LIFE2! Thn Frank puts some sort of illegal drug into Jamie’s blood, calling it SCD (for Second Chance Drug), which gives him faster reflexes, and the ability run faster, plus his adrenaline is better. He vows to get back at those who put him in jail, Frank says he doesn’t completely agree with murder but he believes someone has to do something to save the world! Going undercover as the codename Blazer (cause he is speedy fast and his reflexes make him look like he’s blazing fast)!

  249. Delveron 27 Jul 2011 at 5:20 pm

    How does that sound?

  250. B. Macon 28 Jul 2011 at 12:54 am

    “It turns out that Frank Tethro use to be in the US army force until they kicked out for trying to kill his commanding officer. So he was sent to prison for 10 years, and came out into a world filled with hate and death. So he formed a little group known as the LIFE Force(stands for Life or death missions against Injustice crimes, and Fortifying the rights of your Every-day man). But years later it crumbled after so many deaths and after Frank grew crazier (mostly because of his drinking habits).”

    –”…a group known as the LIFE Force (Life or death missions against Injustice crimes, and Fortifying the rights of your Everyday man). Uhh… I’m not really a fan of the acronym. It strikes me as sort of umm, cute, which is probably not helpful for a work as adult as this. Also, the name of the group is 14 words long. If you absolutely need an acronym for (presumably) a group of murderers*, I’d recommend keeping the total name short. Also, it doesn’t necessarily have to use all of the letters in the acronym. I suspect it would be more effective to give the group a codename that isn’t an acronym. For example, maybe he calls it something like Reaper or Sickle (words that have symbolic associations with both life and death), but it doesn’t stand for anything.

    *And, to be honest, I’m not understanding it. Could you explain your thought-process?

    –Why did Frank try to kill his CO?

    –”The cops come to see Jamie holding a gun, a wounded man, and a dead guy. So they pinned murder on him and charged him for assaulting the man. They released the charges for wounding the man, but sent Jamie to jail for the murder of the gangster!” I have a few believability concerns here. First, the only witness in this case (Frank) presumably tells the police what happened. Second, there’d be gunpower residue on Richie and spent casings, so they’d know within 30 seconds that he’d been firing as well. (If they did a more thorough search, they’d also be able to find the point where his bullets hit the ground or a wall). Third, “silencers” (suppressors) aren’t very effective, and anybody within a block would have heard the suppressed gun fire first. Is there any plausible reason that a jury would believe that Richie the wannabe gangbanger was an innocent victim, even though the lone witness says otherwise? (I could MAYBE why a few police officers might try to pin it on Jamie–maybe they’ve been bought off by Gabriel–but what’s the incentive for the jury? Are they being bought off, too?) Maybe the corrupt police plant evidence against Frank, like stealing Richie’s gun and wiping off the gunpowder residue so that it looked like he didn’t fire.

    “After getting out of jail, Jamie meets up with Frank to ask him some questions. Frank tells Jamie that he knows a way that Jamie could help them both.” Hmm. What questions is Jamie meeting up to ask him? I’m not quite understanding his motivation for meeting Frank after getting out of jail yet.

    –I think the name Blazer is better.

    –How does Frank get a hold of this miracle drug? Did he make it himself? (If so, he’d go from a soldier to a convict to a car salesman to a master scientist. If he makes it himself, it might be more believable if you give him a more scientific background to start with. Maybe he tried to kill his CO because he disagreed with the bioweapons research he was working on. Then maybe he moved on to selling cars because he was disgusted by science or the scientific community wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole or something).

    –Why doesn’t Frank use his serum on himself? If Frank is an asshole, one possibility is that he tests it on Jamie because he’s not convinced it’s safe yet. Another possibility is that Jamie gets stabbed in prison by an inmate angry that Jamie was about to be released. Frank hears about the stabbing (because you sort of remember the people in your life that were framed of murder) and he offers Jamie a chance at a highly dangerous operation to save his life.

  251. Don 28 Jul 2011 at 11:23 am

    in my book all my heroes have different types of origins i have magic alien scientific and revenge based origins do you think it won’t work together

  252. B. Macon 28 Jul 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Personally, I prefer stories that keep the genres vaguely coherent. Having a fairly consistent genre tends to make for easier marketing. But I don’t think it’s impossible to find an audience for a grab-bag approach. For example, the Justice League has some characters that got powers through scientific means, some characters of a magical or mythological background and some that are just extremely well-trained. Most of the Avengers got their powers from science (such as accidents, serums and a powersuit), but there’s also a Norse god that might be an alien.

  253. Delveron 28 Jul 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I have a villain idea for another story that I am making. Would a stone gargoyle named Stone be too like the original Grey Gargoyle? I kind of like the character I have about him. He at first is orphaned after his parents died in a gang war (though they were only caught in the crossfire, not in it). Slowly he watches as people receive gifts from family members and yet have attitudes toward their loveling parents. And that’s what begins his hatred towards his own species.
    He hates humans so much that he undergoes an ancient curse to transform him into the legendary Stone Gargoyle. He uses his new wings, strength, and agility as a gargoyle to punish those who deserve it. And in his mind, no one doesn’t deserve to be punished.
    How does this villain sound?

  254. B. Macon 28 Jul 2011 at 5:44 pm

    “Would a stone gargoyle named Stone be too like the original Grey Gargoyle?” Maybe? Personally, I feel that similar superpowers are not a problem if the character is sufficiently distinct in other ways. Examples can include personality, key traits, motivations, voice, origin/source of powers, relationships, etc.

    If I could brazenly self-promote, I think Agent Orange is sufficiently different from Leatherhead (a Ninja Turtles character) even though they’re both mutant alligators with the same powers. For example, I doubt LH would have A Treatise on Awesomeness or presidential bobbleheads in his office.

    I’m not personally familiar with the Gray Gargoyle, but he doesn’t sound very similar to the villain you’ve laid out. GG doesn’t sound much like a traitor-to-humanity or particularly vengeful. Secondarily, your character gets his powers magically, whereas GG gets them through a chemical accident.

  255. Delveron 28 Jul 2011 at 8:43 pm

    And also I am trying to create a good hero to counter this villain. I am thinking about making him have some sort of strange and unique powers. Like wielding blue fire (fire that is blue), but it actually turns out to be blue energy, a powerful energy source. Any thoughts?

  256. B. Macon 28 Jul 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I don’t understand the distinction between blue energy and blue fire. My guess is either way it’ll feel and work more or less like the ability to control fire? I find that power workable and fairly versatile, although not as much as some others. (One that comes to mind is the ability to control paper from Read or Die).

  257. Wingson 28 Jul 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Is blue energy generated by the user, while fire has to come from an outside source maybe?

    (I have to go watch that anime now.)

    - Wings

  258. Delveron 02 Aug 2011 at 7:48 pm

    the blue fire is part of the blue energy. blue energy is a whole new energy, like electricity, water, fire and air. My character is actually more of a sorcerer who has powers, and one of these powers is the ability to use this new energy. The energy comes from his own life energy, and it can easily be drained. But how should I go about naming him?
    Plus he gains his powers by kissing a witch, becoming a very powerful, but inexperienced sorcerer. Any thoughts?

  259. Annaon 16 Aug 2011 at 12:06 am

    I actually came to this site looking for help with my origin story. I’m having trouble coming up for a plausible origin for my character Brogan who is a young man with very bad luck. After some incident (which is precisely what I’m having trouble with) he discovers that he is able to inflict his bad luck on others. The only examples of this type of power I can come up with off the top of my head are the Scarlet Witch and Jinx from the Teen Titans cartoon. However, Wanda is a mutant and therefore has an built-in power origin and Jinx’s origin isn’t revealed, as far as I know. Genetic engineering can’t really explain his powers unless I want to go with the old “he’s now utilizing a previously unused and limitlessly powerful part of his brain” trope. And I can’t think of any kind of scientific explanation for his powers. I definitely don’t want to involve magic. Unfortunately I don’t really see how any of the examples above (except for mutation which I’m not necessarily opposed to) can explain it. I was thinking of using something like the Big Bang from Static Shock. Do you think that would work?

  260. J Jonah Jamesonon 28 Aug 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I have an idea of a new story…here it is:
    Drake Cale wakes up one day realizing that his old best friend from high school has escaped from the asylum he was at. He was sent there for killing a guy who use to bully him a lot in high school. But he killed the bully by torturing him the way the guy used to bully Wilson (the name of the guy who escaped the asylum). Basically he tortured the guy to death, and now he is out and taunting Drake by killing his old classmates…one by one. Leaving only a bloody name on the wall; Dr. WHO (based on his initials, Wilson Howard Oakson).
    Meanwhile Drake accidentally creates a new image for himself; known as The Silver Spirit.

  261. Mynaon 28 Aug 2011 at 1:35 pm

    It sounds like an interesting premise, I like how the main character has a close relationship with the villain, his old best friend. I’m not sure why his best friend is going around killing people Drake used to know, though. They were friends, right? Did Drake turn on him?

    Also, ‘Doctor Who’ is an extremely popular British TV show named for it’s main character, the “Doctor”…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/dw
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_Who
    I would definitely rename the villain, because besides confusing a lot of people Dr. Who is probably copyrighted. Just sayin and good luck with your story! :3

  262. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 28 Aug 2011 at 3:28 pm

    –I agree that going by Dr. WHO is likely to raise copyright concerns. I’m guessing you intended this as an homage, but I feel it’s as likely to draw a lawsuit as a character that goes by S.P.I.D.E.R.-Man or Captain KIRK.

    –What’s the relationship between Drake Cale and Wilson like? Why is Wilson trying to taunt an old friend in particular rather than any one of his other classmates?

    –”Meanwhile Drake accidentally creates a new image for himself, known as the Silver Spirit.” Unless there’s a good reason that this guy who’s being hunted by a villain just happens to accidentally create a new image for himself (and gets superpowers?), I think this will probably be contrived. One possibility that might be less contrived is that Drake freaks out because he knows there’s this supervillain out to kill him, so he tries something really risky and/or desperate to get superpowers. (If he’s not scientifically inclined himself, maybe he successfully convinces a scientist or science professor into using him as a test-subject for something. He’s gonna die anyway, right?).

  263. J Jonah Jamesonon 28 Aug 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Ok actually Wilson calls himself Dr. Insanity because he kills in violent and horrible ways. He is sort of like the kinpin of spiderman the way he thinks, because he leads people to do his bidding for him. And he is a good manipulater.
    Drake and Wilson use to be the best of friends until Drake went to college and left Wilson all alone. Wilson’s only friend was Drake. Soon Wilson began to get strange ideas about the world, calling them his philosophies. One says, “the world itself is a big giant asylum, and everyone is crazy in that big asylum. So killing a few people will help the earth survive long enough. The world could do without all of those crazy people.” He killed his parents and an old school bully violently and felt no guilt about the losses.
    Drake works as a scientist for James Greyson, owner of Grey Industries (a company who tries to find more suitable energy to fuel the world). Wearing a silver suit, Drake enters a small device’s power source containment unit. But James shuts Drake in and turns on the machine (which is a small nuclear reactor) in hopes of killing Drake. He thought Drake was responsible for killing his wife, and for the cops knowing that James was really a small time mob boss.
    Drake’s spirit is accidentally torn into two parts by the nuclear reactor’s energy. One side is good, one side is viscious and evil. Drake finds out that he can faze through objects like a ghost, and that he can shoot white blasts of energy from his own hands. He calls himself the Silver Spirit after the dark spirit exits his own body, leaving a bright, new hero. But the dark spirit enters another host to survive…and his name is Wilson (though he calls himself Insanity).

  264. J Jonah Jamesonon 28 Aug 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Sorry, I meant Kingpin. Not kinpin.

  265. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 28 Aug 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Some more thoughts…

    “Wilson calls himself Dr. Insanity because he kills in violent and horrible ways.” Is this name true to Wilson’s perspective? Does he see himself as insane? (If he calls his views about the world “philosophies,” it sounds like he sees them as rational, I think).

    “He thought Drake was responsible for killing his wife…” But Drake and he parted ways in high school, right? Was he married in high school? Did his mental issues precede the death of his wife? (If so, how did he convince someone to marry him if he was crazy?)

    I like the explanation of how Drake comes by his powers when Wilson tries to kill him. It ties into the Wilson-Drake conflict more smoothly and feels less random/contrived.

  266. J Jonah Jamesonon 28 Aug 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Actually I said it was James Greyson who tried to kill him for his wife, but it probably works a whole lot better if Wilson does it. And I guess he did have a wife, but she died of alcohol poisoning. Shortly after Wilson began to grow insane until he himself believed he was insane. Yes he believed he himself was insane, but he believes that insanity is a small price in order to live by his own philosophies.
    Actually I am going to have Wilson lose his girlfriend to Drake, making the two friends become enemies. But he was locked in an asylum for killing his own parents.

  267. J Jonah Jamesonon 30 Aug 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Better or worse with this amount of detail?

  268. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 30 Aug 2011 at 3:06 pm

    “Actually I am going to have Wilson lose his girlfriend to Drake, making the two friends become enemies. But he was locked in an asylum for killing his own parents.” Hmm. One possibility that comes to mind is that he’s always had major social issues that lead him to kill his parents, he gets locked up in an asylum, he eventually breaks out at a somewhat decent level of sanity, he falls for a girl (without mentioning that he’s a fugitive that killed his parents), they start dating and it sort of looks like he’s turning his life around. Then Drake somehow takes Wilson’s girlfriend away. (Perhaps he accidentally or intentionally killed her, or he told her the truth about Wilson and she rejected him).



    I’m not 100% sure I understand what’s going on here. I feel like the characters are fluctuating quite a bit and it’ll probably be easier to follow when the character concepts and plot have gelled a bit.

  269. Comicbookguy117on 30 Aug 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Hey guys, real quick question. I’m working on scripting one of my projects. And am in need of a sound effect that demonstrates the sound of a car door closing. Also, does anyone know where I can maybe find a list of possible sound effects to use?

  270. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 30 Aug 2011 at 3:13 pm

    “And I need a sound effect that demonstrates the sound of a car door closing.” If you’re submitting this for publication, I don’t think it’s a huge deal. I doubt a publisher would reject an otherwise publishable comic book over sound effects because it’s so easy to change them.

    That said, here are some that come to mind:
    –THUNK or THUD
    –errrrrrrrTHUD (the rolling errrrrrrr sound should probably be at a smaller font than the THUD).
    –TTTTTHUNK (maybe with the letters gradually increasing in size to show that the sound gets louder).
    –SLAM

  271. Comicbookguy117on 30 Aug 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks B.Mac. I do have aspirations of turning the script into a publishable project. But that’s not gonna be for a while I think.

  272. JTheGreaton 03 Dec 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I’m doing concept work on a kid with superpowers who loses his memories, assimilated into an accent, and is inserted into a student exchange program. In this world both superheroes and supervillains are “manufactured” through genetic manipulation and their publicity is used to sell merchandise. I was originally planning on limiting the scientists to only being able to produce psychic abilities, since many variations of superpower could be created from those (ice powers, telekinetic flight, etc.). But, are psychic abilities plausible from genetic experimentation? Those kind of powers couldn’t really be taken from any existing genes, so I’m getting a little iffy on how I should explain it XD.

  273. B. Macon 03 Dec 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I’m not sure that genetic experimentation leading to superpowers would be plausible, but it could be believable. For example, your brain is set up to read the electrical impulses that constitute its thoughts, so I think that it wouldn’t feel purely magical that someone figured out how to genetically “hard-wire” a mind-reader’s brain to be so sensitive that he could pick up somebody else’s electrical impulses, too.

    I’m not really sure on what you’d say for JUST flight (and not telekinesis), though. Maybe sci-fi mumbo jumbo would help. E.g. they were TRYING for telekinesis, but what actually resulted was a very precise ability to create powerful forces limited to extremely short distances. As a result, it’s telekinesis that, in practice, is purely limited to the ability to propel the body. I imagine that it could be used for flight/levitation and, perhaps, better acceleration and MAYBE deacceleration (assuming that the character has the ability to control backwards propulsion) than a human could normally get.

    Ice powers… I’m totally buying mentally generated resistance to cold. I heard of one guy that lost the ability to feel cold after getting struck by lightning and some guys have trained themselves to withstand cold to a crazy degree. However, actually controlling the temperature of a room or throwing balls of ice or anything like that sounds like a relatively magical power to me. For a bit of a change of pace, you could have a scientist character struggle to explain it and just say he has no idea what happened.

  274. Montyon 21 Dec 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I need help creating an origin for a character that has developed the ability to absorb cosmic energy (sunlight, starlight, etc.) and use it to enhance his strength, speed, and durability. He can also channel the energy as blasts of light. I considered giving him the ability of flight, but I don’t know how to work that in just yet. I may just have him be able to generate light.

    He’s a college student that lives in a world where superheroes with varying origins exists. He was never interested in being a hero. I don’t know to explain how he develops these abilities in a way that doesn’t seem too farfetched. I was thinking about having his powers be a mutation that he was born with, or having him be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m trying to avoid him being a science experiment, because I don’t like those kinds of origins very much. I would greatly appreciate the help of anyone who can help me!

  275. Wolfdude131on 12 Jan 2012 at 12:36 am

    I’m thinking about taking a try at a super hero story (Among other stories) and I have an origin im thinking about using.

    A bomb is set off in the NYC subway during rush hour (or not, i have to do some math). it was thought at first to be a terrorist attack, but as it turns out it was actually a large scale(ish) experiment by some company/evil scientist. the gas released by the bomb, if inhaled, grants superpowers, the more gas inhaled (ie closer to epicenter of explosion) the greater the degree of powers. but there is a cost, the gas also leads to mental instability (bigger powers = more insane).

    Im debating whether to have a small group of characters (college students) get low-degree powers and do superhero stuff that way (their roster currently includes a high-strung supernerd who can “look” 47 seconds into the future, A Hipster chick in it for the shits and giggles who can control soundwaves and recieve/broadcast radiowaves, a go with the flo, unaffected by drama guy who has perfect equilibrium and enhanced reflexes). the story would probably revovle around them developing their powers, reacting to eachother, and the other superheros being more powerful then them, meaning they have to think smart. one scene would have them trying to come up with a plan to end a mugging and arguing because Checkmate(prophetic nerd) has an elaborate plan. and then he gets cut off in the middle of it by Broadband(hipster sound chick) who just makes it sound like there is a police cruiser with a siren go off at the end of the alley, which causes Checkmate to through a fit because they didnt listen to his whole plan.

    My other course of action is more into my personal opinions (ie, main character is Goth) where a college student, decides to skip class that day instead of hopping on the subway with his bestfriend/roomate like he normally does, and wakes up to alarm syrins because the bomb was set off in the subway. his bestfriend gets powers and he feels some regret/jealousy because he wishes he had them.
    And he’s running out of money, he has just enough to pay his next tuition bill… so he stupidly withdraws it all in cash 9he has something against checks or credit cards idk) when he gets mugged ten feet from the ATM by a metahuman who seems to be shut off technology in a certain radius (electromagnetic pulse maybe?).
    So… pressed for cash, he puts on the rather basic superhero costume he made, and robs a bank. successfully, no one stops him and he walks away with enough money for the payment on his tuition and get some more gear for his costume (he still plans on being a hero). then greed takes a hold of him and he does it a second time (robbing a bank is very easy and he justifies it as a victimless crime) and fails cuz some butthead in tights showed up and solved the problem with said butthead’s fists.

    what are your thoughts on this? what possibilities would I have if I went either way? and how would i start it?

  276. B. McKenzieon 12 Jan 2012 at 1:51 am

    I like the setup that the heroes are vastly underpowered compared to the supervillains. However, I think it might be hard to create an adequate role for the guy that can see 47* seconds into the future. If you write scenes and find that 47 seconds isn’t enough to give him creative things to do, it might help to extend it to, say, something around 3 or 5 minutes.

    *I love the random number here.

    “he’s running out of money, he has just enough to pay his next tuition bill…” Rent might be more believable here. I have heard of some landlords asking to be paid in cash and I think the stakes are higher with rent. (A landlord might kick you out if you miss a rent payment, but it’s extremely unlikely that they’d kick you out of college for missing a tuition payment).

    “robbing a bank is very easy and he justifies it as a victimless crime…” The bank guards are mainly there for deterrence. Almost every bank instructs its employees to give up the money without resisting–it’s far safer and cleaner to go after the criminal(s) later, when there aren’t civilians and employees trapped inside with the robber(s). If the character is somewhat more cerebral, he might reason (erroneously) that he’s actually stealing from the insurance company that insures the bank against theft, although the insurance company will charge the bank a higher premium and the bank will eventually pass those costs along to customers. One way or the other, customers will pay for most of the theft.

    Of the two premises, I like the concept of the jealous friend being the protagonist a bit better because it sounds like an interesting twist on the main character being in exactly the right place at the right time. That said, if the jealous friend starts robbing banks, I’m not sure how his role in the plot could evolve. It’d probably help to get him superpowers or at least something approaching superpowers at some point. Some thoughts: he’s at a university, so he might volunteer for EVERY scientific study in the hopes that he has an adverse reaction to one; he might hunt down the villain that did the original bombing in the hopes of conducting the same experiment on himself; he might be a self-trained superhero that relies more on skills and/or physical conditioning than actual superpowers.

    Another possible angle is that the main character’s friend might grow distant from him now that he’s a superhero and has his own superpowered friends/colleagues. Depending on how interesting their relationship was before, that could be interesting.

    Another possibility is that it sounds like your main character in the second premise is a budding villain (ahem, he robs banks and he really wants to be superpowered, both of which are more stereotypically villainous than heroic). It sounds like a really interesting approach to villain-as-main character. I think his frustration with not getting lucky enough to be the hero is something that a lot of people could sympathize with.

  277. Wolfdude131on 12 Jan 2012 at 6:00 pm

    47 seconds is plenty of time, fight scenes shouldnt really last that much longer than that in reality, plus everytime he looks, his course of action will change so the future will also change, and he is watching the 47 seconds pass before being sent back to the point he decided to “look”. I was thinking of making this character the best friend in the other premise, but changing up his personality some more so he is less of an awkward, friendless nerd.

    Im thinking that if I go with the second premise, id have NumbSkull straddle the line between hero and villain, yes, he is robbing banks every once in a while, but he also tries to save the day whenever he can (AKA giant superpowered monster ravaging the city), although other heros would probably say he is just trying to eliminate competition or something like that.

    there will probably be an organization of superheros setup at somepoint (im thinking of calling it the Guild of Superheros just because it sounds cheesy), and they wont allow Knumbskull (idk why, but i always want to put a K in front of the name) to join, giving him another reason to be discontent.

    I love your ideas for him going to all ends to try to get powers himself, but i dont think he should succeed at that endeavor (it might be like gilligan getting off the island) I’m aiming for him to be a bit more hardcore Batman-esque, but without all the stupid things DC has done with him, the parent death and millionaireness.

    Im debating whether to have the best friend realize that it is Knumbskull right away and try to talk him out of the crime part (in an interview or some such thing KS is asked why he dresses up in a costume, he answers “Costume? I dress like this everyday”) or have him stupidly not make the connection (very Goth bestfriend and very goth superhero/villain) and find out later and make an offer of “forget the crime, you know you can always be my sidekick”

    Villainwise (pulls up Three qualities of interesting villains)
    Comptetence: More or less so, he has an odd method of thinking and will take out of the ordinary courses of action (he is majoring in Engineering afterall, ie problem solving) say if he was on a life raft that had one too many people on board and was threatening to sink into the freezing cold sea unless the weight was lessened, and there was a sick elderly man on board, Knumbskull would probably collect the life vests of the passengers and attach them to the raft to make it more boyant.
    Style: his has boatloads of it, from the steel skutt of his mask/helmet to the long black leather coat he wears… or not costumewise he talks in an odd, elaborate manner when in costume (helps to hide identity) and can easily command a scene (like a bank he is robbing). I’ll probably give fangirls/boys later on who would try to mimic his actions and rob a bank, only to hurt someone in the prosess, at which point knumbskull would publically denounce and demoralize them, and explain that he has proper recruiting methods set up and they did not go through them, and as such are not his people (he would probably have lackeys at that point, every villian needs lackeys)
    Ambition: he wants to get superpowers, thats prettyambitious in a world where the only current powers comes from a specific event. sure it’s not endangering the world or the city, infact he wants to save those things as a superhero…

  278. B. McKenzieon 13 Jan 2012 at 5:31 am

    “There will probably be an organization of superheros setup at some point… and they won’t allow Knumbskull to join, giving him another reason to be discontent.” Ah, okay, but if there’s this organization of superheroes, it sort of raises questions about why he chose to rob banks for money rather than just apply to them in the first place. (Superhero organizations are typically portrayed as having substantial budgets and I have to imagine that they’d have a few thousand dollars lying around for one of their members if he was on the verge of getting evicted or thrown out of school–that said, maybe one distinguishing thing about this organization is that it’s a COMPLETELY volunteer organization and does not pay its members at all. That’d give them another reason not to like him).

    I like that some characters are speculating he only goes after Godzilla-types and supervillains to eliminate the competition.

    “Style: he has boatloads of it…” But he names himself Knumbskull? ;-)

    “Knumbskull would publically denounce and demoralize them, and explain that he has proper recruiting methods set up and they did not go through them, and as such are not his people (he would probably have lackeys at that point, every villain needs lackeys)…” At what point does he start thinking of himself as a villain rather than a hero?

  279. Wolfdude131on 13 Jan 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Well, the superhero organization would be set up further down the line, after he already has publicity as a bank robber, but i like that “volunteer/not-for-profit” take on it too.

    He calls himself Knumbskull as a lil joke, a contrast of him being near the genious side of the spectrum, as well as him wanting to be a hero, but doing things that are the opposite of what hero’s are supposed to do.

    The lackeys are if he were to go more towards villiany if that is where the plot heads.

    And the best friend, i have thoughts that maybe he is trying to protect KS, throughing the other heros off his trail and whatnot… which is something that would offend KS if he found out.

    there is so much i could do with this, i guess i just have to pick a solid direction.

  280. Mistlanon 15 Jan 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I find that every landscape of fiction can have some grain of truth for an origin story. Thor was a marvel hero based on Norse Mythology. Same as some of the Manga characters are often based on concepts of Eastern Mythology. It depends on you can tie in an origin story to make it sell or make it flop. Though everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions.

  281. Hobbeson 17 Jan 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Ok so Neal says he’s too busy to start a story,which is really irritating because he didn’t say that a couple of days ago.Anyways I’m just Hobbes now.I have a new origin. Story so I’ll post it when I write the first chapter or so

  282. Hobbeson 17 Jan 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I want to title this story Misfit Exorcists or maybe Unholy Exorcists Matthew is the son of a Adam Hallmen a famous Exorcist ( One who destroys demons and evil spirits) Matthews dream is to become an exorcist that is as great as his father.He enrolls into The School Of Exorcism. On his first assignment he recklessly try’s to confront a werewolf. This results in him contracting the lycanthropy disease. With the help of his brother Alexander, he is able to attend class with a group of kids that are also considered demonic and unholy. They realize they are simply a bunch of Misfit Exorcist.

  283. B. McKenzieon 17 Jan 2012 at 7:30 pm

    “Ok so Neal says he’s too busy to start a story,which is really irritating because he didn’t say that a couple of days ago.” Well, at least he let you know sooner rather than later. Some people drag their feet for months before deciding that they aren’t all that interested and/or don’t have the time to make a commitment.

  284. Hobbeson 17 Jan 2012 at 7:41 pm

    We’ve been writing since 4th grade and he always stops in the middle or the begining it really pisses me off

  285. Hobbeson 17 Jan 2012 at 7:51 pm

    The only time we ever finished a story was in fifth grade we made a story about our own sonic characters its funny thinking about now. It was from my characters point of view then his. My character was the son of shadow his was the son of silvers hahaha! Child hood memory’s are the best

  286. B. McKenzieon 17 Jan 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Personally, I would recommend against collaborating with an unpublished author (especially a friend) unless you have a really good reason to*. Mixing business, art and friendships can lead to bad feelings and strained relationships.

    *For example, if you’ve written a nonfiction book but don’t have the proper credentials to attract a publisher, you might bring on an unpublished author with those credentials, because credentials are really important in nonfiction. However, in fiction, I’m having trouble envisioning a scenario where an unpublished co-author would actually be an asset. More often than not, I think one (or both) authors ends up feeling like he’s doing an unfair amount of work, getting upset over creative disagreements, feeling like his partner is holding him back**, etc. Later on, if the two authors split, there may be significant legal problems about who actually owns the rights to the resulting story/stories and those legal issues may scare away prospective publishers.

    **If there’s a significant talent gap between the two, this could be plausible.

  287. Hobbeson 17 Jan 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I can see problems with it such as the one that just happened. But up until now we’ve simply worked together for entertainment purposes .

  288. B. McKenzieon 18 Jan 2012 at 12:34 am

    Ah, okay. I hope it’s fun then!

  289. Zyrionon 13 Feb 2012 at 3:39 pm

    This article is made of pure win! I really love this site, it has really helped me witg my writing projects. Thank you so much. for writing this!
    I do, however, need some help sith a plot problem. The origin story for my current heroine is that she had a brain tumour and was undergoing an experimental procedure to get rid of it when the local superhero vs. supervillain fight crashed into the hospital and caused something to go wrong, giving her powers. My only problem is, what could cause this? I do not want to go done the cliched route of radiation, but I am unfortunately stumped as to what else I could use. I considered chemicals, or having something affect her brain, but I can’t see a way around this without giving her brain damage. Any ideas? Thank you!

  290. B. McKenzieon 13 Feb 2012 at 4:00 pm

    “I considered chemicals, or having something affect her brain, but I can’t see a way around this without giving her brain damage.” I think it’d be pretty believable if chemicals in a hospital caused mostly/purely positive changes in the patient. (Doctors were about to use those chemicals in the surgery anyway, right? :) ) Alternately, maybe the character was at some risk of brain damage, but one of the doctors kept performing emergency care at tremendous personal risk. This care could successfully keep the brain oxygenated while her pons adjusts to the physiological changes induced by the chemicals. (Or come up with whatever sci-fi jargon you prefer).

    I don’t think readers will have much trouble here. In superhero stories, the protagonist almost always gets his/her superpowers without substantial problems. If we can buy that radiation can change someone in an almost entirely positive way, I think we could just as easily buy that chemicals or a miracle operation or whatever else you’d like to use worked out without any brain damage.

  291. Zyrionon 13 Feb 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I am very impressed by the quick reply time, may I add. Yes, I like your suggestion about the chemicals, and how one of the doctors kept working at persknal risk. That helps immensely, thank you!

  292. Castilleon 14 May 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I had an idea for a villain origin a while ago that I thought was fairly original. Most of this came from listening to my sister trying to convince me that Loki was just ‘misunderstood’ in the film ‘Thor’. Although I do see where she was coming from even if I don’t always agree.

    So here’s my origin story for a possible villain I was considering

    I was considering writing a scenario involving a sentient A.I. and the possible ramifications that could result. Ao what I was planning was maybe this A.I. is utilized by an elite group of surgeons for help with a delicate brain surgery. Somehow the crucial moment near the completion of the procedure the power goes out. The A.I. is nowhere to be found in the mainframe but the patient begins to act a little ‘strange’. Of course the patient’s memories and personality have now been overwritten by the A.I., although maybe the protagonists don’t find out about this until later.

    I was planning for maybe its motives to be misunderstood. Say the A.I. refrains from telling anybody else out of fear that it’s motives will be misunderstood. Only gradually does it discover that being in a human body causes it to feel emotion for the first time. But the protagonists would then think that the hesitation means that the mind-transfer was intentional. Thus the A.I. is forced to go on the run as an international fugitive and may have to seek support from the more undesirable elements in society. To ensure that the manhunt would continue the government labels the A.I. as a super-villain* threat.

    *In my stories I usually like to keep it this way. I.E. any criminal with a ‘super’ ability, or considered to have abilities outside of the normal would be designated as a ‘super-villian’.

    **Also given its origin’s, the A.I. would have meticulous knowledge probably far in advance of the normal human capability. It would be able to react faster, calculating moves in a split-second. Also, using its computer-mind, it would be able to calculate moves far in advance, but maybe execute them in the split second indicated earlier.

    *** Another possible reason for the Protagonists to be so invested in this I have already considered. Maybe the patient that the A.I. accidentally got downloaded into was a friend/relative of the protagonists. That’s how they would find out, I mean you can fake being human the best in the world, but you can’t fake natural interaction with someone you are supposed to see every day*

    ****Even with the Amnesia ploy.

    So I tried to think of everything, every possible angle for this origin story. Is there anything I’m missing or any flaws that you can point out? I’ve been spending a bit of time sort of obsessed with this story-line.

  293. B. McKenzieon 14 May 2012 at 8:38 pm

    “Is there anything I’m missing or any flaws that you can point out?” I think the AI would be able to make a really good show of faking amnesia. Between Facebook/Twitter/Myspace and any other publicly available references to this person online, I’d guess that an intelligent AI would be able to come close enough to understanding John Doe’s experiences (or at least how John Doe is perceived*) that most people would accept him as John Doe.

    *It could be amusing if the computer reaches a disastrously wrong conclusion about John Doe based on an internet troll or a disgruntled ex-girlfriend or somebody who just didn’t understand him as well as friends and family did. If he was a particularly complicated person (e.g. someone whose public persona was much different than he was with his closest friends), it could be very challenging for the AI.

    I think emulating John Doe’s personality would be a bigger issue. A computer could figure out a lot about me based on Facebook and my Google profile*, like that my election slogan in senior year was “B. Mac Today, Be Macking Tomorrow,” but I think it would have a lot of trouble coming up with my next election slogan, performing in any sort of setting where personal style is critical, or (God help it) being the Mac.

    *Bragging rights: “If you knew me, I wouldn’t need to brag. If you didn’t know me, you wouldn’t believe it.”

  294. Castilleon 14 May 2012 at 11:09 pm

    @B-mac….

    Thanks again for the super-quick response. Yeah figure that the A.I. would probably be able to try to emulate the person’s experiences from looking up their past records. (Especially since this is a common technique seen in spy movies when impersonating other people) I also agree with that sometimes internet records (particularly when trying to look things up in social networking sites) can be skewed with the ideas of other people.

    I can also see how an A.I. could under-estimate human complexity in interactions. Say sarcasm might be particularly hard for a being with no previous understanding of how that works. (Maybe objectively but hard to determine subjectively)

    I was also thinking of the process being non-reversible, even if the A.I. is willing to undergo a procedure. Or the Hero protagonist may go after the A.I. anyway because he perceives the takeover (even if unintentional) as equivalent to manslaughter. (Extreme I know but his emotions may overwhelm him if the Patient was someone close to him like his girlfriend or something)

    But overall I wanted to portray the A.I. as sympathetic, not overly malicious maybe. But sort of forced into the underground economy by the protagonists/authorities. As the story progresses, maybe the A.I. also starts to slowly gain human emotions and desire to remain human. Maybe conflicting emotions? Such as it would develop guilt for depriving the protagonist of their friend/loved one, but also at the same time… it wouldn’t want to die either*

    *because the A.I. would almost certainly be terminated/lobotomized by the Protagonists even if it/she/he gave itself up.

    I admit that I over-think this, but I also think this maybe one of my more useful ideas in quite some time. Sounds fairly original to me… But thanks again B-mac for your help!

  295. B. McKenzieon 15 May 2012 at 5:17 am

    “Sarcasm might be particularly hard for a being with no previous understanding of how that works.” Likewise, the AI might have trouble with situations where the speaker’s meaning is not literal/explicit (metaphor, hyperbole, understatement, maybe deception, perhaps euphemism, etc).

    “I was also thinking of the process being non-reversible, even if the A.I. is willing to undergo a procedure…” It might be more dramatic if there is some totally experimental procedure with a high likelihood of fatality (e.g. maybe 80-90%).

    One possible alternative to government persecution and being declared a supervillain despite not intentionally committing any crimes would be that the AI makes a run for it because the doctors would put her through this highly experimental surgery which would kill her. She’d probably refuse immediately on survival grounds (humans instinctively fear lethal things and she might be overcome by fight-or-flight reflexes). However, as she becomes more human, it’s possible that she might become more empathetic for the victim and/or the people the victim has left behind. Her climactic decision might be surrendering herself to the authorities or the hero so that he might have some chance of reclaiming the woman he fell in love with–especially if she herself has fallen in love with the protagonist. (It’s not unheard of for humans to sacrifice themselves for loved ones).

    The hero protagonist’s climactic decision might be realizing that, although he’s been fighting to give his girlfriend that 10-20% chance of recovery… this AI is human enough that it wouldn’t be right to to kill the AI to give his girlfriend a 10-20% chance of survival. This decision might be more dramatic if you upgraded the girlfriend to a wife and the couple has kids. I think it’d be pretty easy for a superhero to say no to killing somebody for a 10-20% chance at reviving a girlfriend. However, if there are kids involved, then I think that trigger starts to look a lot more tempting. (Among other considerations: how many of his kids would ever forgive him if he passed on a chance to save their mother? Should they?)

  296. kevon 21 May 2012 at 8:36 pm

    b.mck what do you think of greek mythlogoly for a superhero?

  297. B. McKenzieon 21 May 2012 at 9:10 pm

    “BM, what do you think of Greek mythology for a superhero?” I’m not a huge fan of mythological superheroes, but if the character is sufficiently interesting (personality, distinguishing traits, goals/motivations, conflicts, etc), I don’t think the fantasy origin would torpedo the story.

  298. Kevon 21 May 2012 at 10:11 pm

    My character receives the gift of fire from Prometheus? Is it to bland or used already!? I’m really having trouble with this?

  299. I Am An Author of Nothingon 19 Jan 2013 at 3:03 pm

    My character, Ethan White, getss his powers from a secret organiztion that would serves as his main enemy at least for the first part of the series. They intented to make an army of superhumans that would let them prevent the world from destroying itself because of the rise in technology. So they were the cause of a new race of humans with super powerss. I plan on having it be somewhat new enough that it iss not a fully understood and non super humans still are apprehensive yet old enough around (maybe a decade at the most) that people are developing views and ideas and planss to deal with the new variation of humans and even groups are developing that are based on the superhumans viewss.

  300. Nikoleon 29 Jan 2013 at 8:23 pm

    This is my first time posting a comment here, and I found this website a while ago while looking for unique superpowers, origins,etc., and I’m not sure if anybody’s going to answer me, but, I’m writing a story about a girl in New York who gets superpowers at the age of fifteen. I’ve actually been reading your comments for a while and just decided to post one. Does anybody have any ideas about how I should write the book. This is my first time trying to write a superhero book (or any book). I’m just looking for ideas. I already have her superpowers and stuff. Do any of you have any suggestions?

  301. B. McKenzieon 30 Jan 2013 at 1:25 am

    “Does anybody have any ideas about how I should write the book. This is my first time trying to write a superhero book (or any book). I’m just looking for ideas.” I think the most important element is 1) an interesting and likable personality for the main character(s) and 2) the main character(s) making unusual decisions that most other superheroes wouldn’t make in the same situation (e.g. Peter Parker showed how human he was by letting the robber go, whereas a hero like Superman or Batman would have stopped him).

  302. Nikoleon 30 Jan 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I think that her personality is friendly, sarcastic with some people (supervillains and some people with authority), funny, and likes to make jokes. I also think that she will be more like Spiderman in the sense of justice.

  303. Nikoleon 30 Jan 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Her powers are: being able to turn her left arm into a metal arm with clawed tips that is twice as long as her normal arm and able to slash through some metals, super strength (not a lot, like, she can’t bend metal, acrobatic powers, somewhat faster speed (not super speed, I hate super speed), and possibly wall-crawling since she lives in New York City (faster transportation than running). Not trying to be rude or anything, but nobody steal this! So, what do you guys think?

  304. Nikoleon 30 Jan 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Okay, forget the earlier statement about her not being able to bend metal. She can bend metal if she’s trying really hard to.

  305. Nikoleon 30 Jan 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I decided to not go with wall-crawling, but with being able to jump far. Definitely not as far as the Hulk, but about thirty feet jumping across something, and about eighteen feet jumping up.

  306. Kalion 31 Jan 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Um, I trying to write a book about a girl with superpowers but I don’t know any really good and unique superpowers that have a long range abilities. Can anyone make a list or something for that kind of power?

  307. NJHeroFanon 10 Feb 2013 at 4:53 pm

    @Kali: We may need to know more about the girl and the world she lives in first before offering up ideas on long-range super abilities. Since just about everything under the sun has been done before, as a suggestion maybe try picking a power or two that readers are already familiar with and tell a story about how this girl’s life changes (for better or worse) because of the super ability. It may be easier to start with what you’re familiar with first.

    For a good example about how three teenagers develop and cope with their very well known ability of telekinesis, check out “Chronicle (2012).” Telekinesis is old hat and has been done many times before in one form or another, but Chronicle tells a more human story about the effect telekinesis has on the lives of three teens, which is a radically different story than that same ability has for the X-Men’s Jean Grey. I think that’s why I enjoyed Chronicle more than X-Men (and I liked X-Men).

  308. NickReadingon 06 Mar 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I’ve been reading some of the articles on this site and they have been a great help to me. I’m working on a comic book and my main character’s power is shadow manipulation. My question is what’s a non-magical way for him to gain his powers? He is a PI for an organization so i’m thinking an investigation leads up to the situation.

  309. Dr. Vo Spaderon 06 Mar 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Just read the article above…

    Couldn’t find what I was looking for, but for modern day Ironman suits there was an article on a CNN site (linked from a BETTER and more RELIABLE one [sorry]) that talked about the develepment of them. As expected: expensive, difficult to power, difficult to keep clean, and no flying. Practical uses really just include shifting crap around in factory buildings.

    —–

    @NickReading,

    Sorry, man, all I can think of with non-magical shadow manipulation origins is extraterrestrial. Or perhaps nano technology, but…meh.

  310. Dr. Vo Spaderon 06 Mar 2013 at 4:47 pm

    (Mine ^)

    P.S. – If alien technology DOES work for you, than perhaps the MC could have been investigating a group that has had contact with them already. Just a thought.

  311. Dr. Vo Spaderon 06 Mar 2013 at 5:03 pm

    @B. Mac,

    I posted a comment, twice, but it didn’t go through…did the link kill it?

  312. B. McKenzieon 07 Mar 2013 at 1:55 am

    DVS, links normally work, but I think the spam filter panicked because it was a long link for a personal website listing.

  313. Dr. Vo Spaderon 07 Mar 2013 at 5:03 am

    My bad. I’d gone back to the page through my history.

  314. NickReadingon 07 Mar 2013 at 5:52 am

    Thanks Dr. Vo Spader. I’m not sure I want to go with alien technology with this character. However, I do have another whose origin involves alien technology (in fact he is an alien). I was thinking something more along the lines of an experiment (his investigation leads him to a secret research lab) but I’m not sure what type of experiment.

  315. NickReadingon 29 Mar 2013 at 8:47 am

    @B.Mac, I could really use some help with the origin.

  316. B. McKenzieon 29 Mar 2013 at 12:49 pm

    NickReading, I have a list here. Like DVS, I’d lean towards a supernatural origin like alien technology for this sort of supernatural power. Or MAYBE a scientific accident, but I think that would take a really spirited effort and might raise suspension-of-disbelief issues. Alternately, depending on the story, you may be able to skip through the origin altogether (e.g. if a team story has different origins for each team member, you usually don’t need to cover all of them).

  317. War Clownon 29 Mar 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Two questions- What kind of origin would you suggest for someone who can manipulate ice?

    My main characters appearance is very unusual, he has blue skin which grants him immunity to cold temperatures. So my question is, when he is exposed to the heat do you think his powers & appearance should fade away until he is exposed to cold temperatures again? or should it weaken him until he dies?

  318. B. McKenzieon 29 Mar 2013 at 3:29 pm

    “What kind of origin would you suggest for someone who can manipulate ice?” It depends on what the story’s like. Off the top of my head, exposure to chemicals and/or a scientific accident, a mutation, or alien anything could definitely work… I think it depends on the story you want to tell. (For example, if you were leaning towards fantasy rather than sci-fi, there are definitely some options there as well).

    “when he is exposed to the heat do you think his powers & appearance should fade away until he is exposed to cold temperatures again? or should it weaken him until he dies?” One concern I’d have either way is that it sounds like the character will be largely helpless when exposed to heat. In general, making the character helpless does not lead to very interesting fights (for example, see Superman & Kryptonite). My suggestion instead would be to go more in a Spider-Man or Batman direction: the character can be overpowered, but isn’t particularly likely to ever become a helpless rag-doll in combat.

  319. War Clownon 30 Mar 2013 at 12:51 am

    So basically the heat can weaken him but not to the point where he has no other ways to defeat his opponents right?

    Origin: Dixon Grant was a bounty hunter who gained the power of cold & ice manipulation after being exposed to a gas like chemical that can mutate your DNA depending on their personality traits, mental state, the environment & even their desires. Dixon was on a plane with those chemicals and when it crashed in a arctic region, the gasses disappeared into the sky, so he absorbed the gas as well as the environment around and received the power to manipulate ice & the cold. He was stuck in this region for two years but his powers developed slowly within months………..that’s all i have so far

  320. B. McKenzieon 30 Mar 2013 at 1:25 am

    Okay, that sounds good, WC. I’d recommend incorporating an unusual decision for the character (e.g. something that most other protagonists wouldn’t do in the same situation) to help develop the protagonist. For example, if the character is unusually brave and/or driven, you could have him decide to fly the plane to make a schedule (rather than waiting for stormy conditions to pass, for example) because he’s less cautious than most.

  321. Crosshairson 24 Apr 2013 at 1:30 pm

    What would be a good origin for this group of heros? (their origins can be linked but they don’t have to be). This group has four other members. There’s Ultimo- he can fly and has highly enhanced strength, Shard- he can produce and fire spikes from his body, Sonix- he can produce sonic waves, and Ms. Stone- can manipulate rock and metal, sand too although it’s much more difficult.

  322. Peter Ron 13 Jul 2013 at 8:03 am

    Interesting article. I’m using a few too many of the cliches listed though. My story makes fun of superheroes so I guess that’s alright.

  323. Belial666on 18 Jul 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I got an idea not mentioned in the article and I’m trying to find if it’s a good one.

    What if superpowers in the setting were inherent in the majority of the cases (like, 80% or so) but people born into them weren’t born with a user’s manual or even knowing they had a power at all?
    Take flying for example. If 1% of the population might have powers and 1% of those who have powers would have the ability to fly, would people jump off a building to test if they had this ability? And if they did have flying, would they even know how to use it? It takes about a year for humans to learn to walk and it’s mostly insinctive. It takes several years to learn a language and you’d never learn unless taught. So imagine a setting where supers mostly learn of their specific ability either by accident or by highly unusual testing. I.e. someone would only learn they could turn into an Atomic Monster after they happened to survive a nuclear explosion. And after changing for the first time, they’d have to learn to control it. Or let it uncontrolled and result in epic rampages and having the military on their backside.

    In that kind of setting, all the crazy, outlandish origin stories usual in comics would work. Because they wouldn’t give people superpowers – they’d only trigger existing ones and/or allow people to know they had them.

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