Jan 14 2009

Another Five Common Mistakes of Comic Book Writers (#6-10)


6. Don’t make your heroes too powerful.

Characters should be weak enough that the writer can easily challenge them.  For example, if your character is as powerful as Superman, you’re going to run out of potential adversaries because only a supervillain can challenge him.  In contrast, Batman can have dramatic fights with regular humans.  For example, can Batman rescue hostages before a gunman can shoot them?  That’s an interesting scene.  It wouldn’t be interesting for Superman. He’d just fly in superfast and save them.  That’s boring.  There’s no challenge.

As a rule of thumb, I highly recommend against giving any character superstrength and superspeed.  Either one could be problematic, but together they will probably cripple your story. I’d also recommend putting some limits on their powers.  If your character is so ridiculously strong that he can push the moon out of its orbit or fly so fast that he can go back in time, he will probably make readers roll their eyes.

7. Please avoid rewinding the story, particularly bringing back dead characters.

If something in your story happens, you should not make it unhappen. Revealing that something was “all a dream” or a hallucination or a computer simulation is more likely to confuse your readers than intrigue them.  Readers are also likely to feel annoyed that you jerked them around.  Instead of wasting their time with a fake story, why not tell a story you’re actually willing to stick to?

The worst kind of rewinding is when the writers undo a character’s death (usually with gimmicks like a deal with the devil or time-travel or resurrection).  If death is just an inconvenience, then readers won’t care whether the characters die or not.  If your story is action-heavy, that’s probably game over.   The fear of death is usually one of the primary reasons that combat is interesting.

8.  Go easy on the catchphrases, particularly if the audience is older.

Catchphrases are very cheesy (Hulk smash!  Flame on!  It’s clobbering time!  Dragon up!). If your target audience is mostly older than 13, I’d really recommend downplaying the catchphrase or at least making it a bit sober.

9.  Please don’t let the hero solve all of his problems in the same way.

If your hero uses the same solution every time, it’ll probably get tedious.  Force him to mix things up a bit.   For example, if your character is a hardboiled tank, try putting him in a situation where he can’t go in with both guns blazing.  If your character is like Ironman, try separating him from his powersuit for a scene.  Etc.

10.  Don’t pad your pages.

Every panel should advance the plot and/or develop a character.  Otherwise, readers are going to get bored pretty quickly.  Would you pay to see people chatting?  “I’m doing well, Mary Jane.  How are you?”  If you’re not advancing the plot or the characters, the plot has probably stalled.

Also, please be especially careful about splash pages (pages that only have one panel).  They take up a lot of room, so comic book editors expect that splashes will advance the plot in a major way.

Did you find this article useful? If so, please read part 1 here.

86 responses so far

86 Responses to “Another Five Common Mistakes of Comic Book Writers (#6-10)”

  1. Ragged Boyon 15 Jan 2009 at 7:32 pm

    I’ll be sure to watch number 8. “It’s Showtime!” hahaha. I probably won’t give Adrian a catchphrase, his name is interesting enough.

  2. B. Macon 15 Jan 2009 at 8:35 pm

    When your series gets published, you can definitely ask your editor what he thinks about a catchphrase. I notice that Static Shock (a relatively recent comic series) included a catch phrase, so it might just be an acquired taste.

  3. Davidon 15 Jan 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve tried thinking up a catchphrase for one of my guys, but I don’t know what to use or who to give it to.

  4. Ragged Boyon 26 Jan 2009 at 5:32 pm

    The only catchphrase I may have Adrian repeatedly say is “Action!”

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

    Hmm… I’m not quite feeling “action!” Then again, I’m not fond of catchphrases in general, so it’s not really surprising that I’d feel that way.

  6. Kosetsuon 28 Jan 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Dammit, I’m already getting caught by number 10. I’ve got 8 pages of my superhero story so far, and 1 1/2 pages of that doesn’t advance the plot at all. Now, normally, this wouldn’t be bad… but I’m supposed to be writing a short story. At this rate, the finished draft will be some 40 pages long…

    For the interested, here’s a “back-flap summary”:

    Meet Darryl (no superhero handle yet, although not for lack of contemplation, he’d be the first to say), the son of globally renowned superhero “Avenging Angel”. He’s kind of sick of the high standards he’s constantly being put up against. Especially since his only power is a half-assed version of his mother’s ability to fly: the ability to fall to the ground in any manner he chooses.

    In order to make a name for himself (and give him an easy way into the superhero business), Darryl decides to enter The Champion’s Tournament, a rigorous qualification tourney that would grant the winner a hero’s apprenticeship to The Champion, intergalactic defender of peace. As the tournament progresses, Darryl makes new friends, new rivals, and finds himself learning more and more about what it means to be a “hero.”

    Of course, the first step to achieving your dreams is always the hardest – but it’s even harder when you’re up against 1200 other hero candidates!

  7. B. Macon 28 Jan 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Hmm, I think you’re right. 1.5 pages of padding could be problematic in a short-story. If you’re on course for 40 pages, I’d recommend cutting out as much of those 1.5 pages as possible. (If length were less of an issue, I’d recommend introducing more links between those 1.5 pages and the rest of the plot, so that the 1.5 pages felt like part of the story).

    One way you could shorten things is by making the contest less drawn-out. For example, if there are 1200 candidates, there are probably going to be a lot of challenges or duels before he gets selected. (Probably 5, I imagine). That’s fine for a novel, but a novel could probably spend 30-40 pages on his selection. In contrast, I’d recommend limiting the scope of the selection process for a short-story because I imagine you’d be limited to 10 (maybe 15) pages there. Bringing it down so that he only has 2 (maybe 3) challenges/duels would probably make things simpler.

    What do you think?

  8. Kosetsuon 29 Jan 2009 at 12:08 am

    I’ll try integrating the padding into the story first, and then once I have a complete draft (some time in the distant future…) and a final page count, I’ll cut out the super extraneous stuff. Er, no pun intended.

    I was already planning on cutting out at least 75% of that 1200 with the first challenge, so no problems there. I’m debating on how many people should be in the final round… There should be at least four people (Darryl, two of his friends and the primary rival), but this final round needs to be a free-for-all battle scene, so I can’t have so many characters that I’m over-reaching my abilities as a writer. Got a good number for a brawl between supers?

    The big characters in this story, not necessarily listed by importance:

    – Vincent Barel, “Combat Kid” (bad name, I know): a bit of a jerk, he’s bullied Darryl since primary school, and has a “ends justify the means” attitude to the tournament. His powers include enhanced reflexes, enhanced senses, superhuman acrobatics, and above-average strength. He has been trained in a very bestial form of martial arts passed down through his family.

    – Olen Moreno: although he is a bit shy around strangers, Olen is the type of person who can’t abandon people in trouble. His caring nature and heart of gold make him very likable, but he is a bit too honest and trusting to really deal with “villains”. His power is the ability to see flashes of the future when he concentrates or panics; with time, he will also be able to see events that are happening in the present, or events that have happened in the past.

    – Casey Fuller, “Zerox/Crue-Cut”: although he has a temper, Casey buckles easily against those who are stronger than he is. Case in point, he becomes Vincent’s lackey during the first round of the Tournament. His power is the ability to create clones of himself out of anything that comes from his body, be it hair or nail clippings or his blood.

    – Troy Rivers, “Daedalus/Datalyst”: an intellectual by nature, Troy is cool and rational at all times, even under duress. He was Casey’s friend prior to the Tournament, and so follows him into lackeyhood under Vincent’s command. His power is the ability to instantly and accurately gather information about any object or person that he sees, sometimes involuntarily.

    – Lianna Pratt: Energetic and vigilant, sometimes a little foul-mouthed, sometimes a little girly, always a big time fan of the Avenging Angel. Lianna (“You can call me Li.”) is a complicated girl with a simple goal – become a superhero that can protect the weak and defeat the unjust. She becomes Darryl’s best friend and his most admant supporter during the Tournament, despite wanting to win the apprenticeship for herself. Her power is the ability to create “psychic bubbles,” which can perform a wide range of functions.

    Darryl, Lianna, Owen, and Vince are the four that HAVE to be in that final round. Guess who becomes The Champion?

  9. B. Macon 29 Jan 2009 at 5:02 am

    I think four is a good number.

  10. Ragged Boyon 29 Jan 2009 at 9:20 am

    I planned to have a three way free-for-all, with Showtime, Michelle, and another competitor in the final stages of the contest.

  11. Jaya Lakshmion 13 Mar 2009 at 8:06 am

    Right now I’m working on my comic strip, but I also want to work on a serious graphic novel, a sort of moody Sailor Moon meets Chocolat (Joanne Harris).

    Granted, this is about action comics, but can you create a graphic novel with a quiet tone? Can you balance the action with the protagonist’s melancholy?

    I want to start out the story with the protagonist hanging out with her best friend after a disastrous birthday celebration. Would that be okay, if I made it a hook, or no? Can dialogue rather than action hook a reader?

  12. B. Macon 13 Mar 2009 at 10:48 am

    Hi, Jaya.

    I’m not that familiar with Chocolat, so just to recap, this is what I understand about the plot: the protagonist and her young daughter move into a conservative town and open a chocolate shop during Lent. The mayor tries to shut her down, but her warmth and skill win over the town as she encourages them to think outside of the box. The IMDB summary suggests that there is a lot of romance.

    My impression is that Chocolat’s target audience is 30+ women. One of the main differences between Sailor Moon and Chocolat is that Sailor Moon has a more publisher-friendly target audience. Namely, 13-20 year-olds (mostly girls but with a substantial peripheral demographic of guys as well). This is important because graphic novels are typically sold in stores where customers are guys aged 13-25. The more appealing you can make your story to those demographics, the easier it will be to find a publisher.

    “Can you create a graphic novel with a quiet tone?”
    Quiet as in action-sparse, definitely. What do you think about Spiderman Loves Mary Jane as a comparable series? It’s heavy on relationships (romantic and otherwise) and has virtually no superhero action. Its target audience is around 13-18. That’s probably a bit younger than yours is, but is it close?

    Aside from SLMJ, the other action-light series that come to mind are Persepolis, Watchmen and Maus.

    “I want to start out the story with the protagonist hanging out with her best friend after a disastrous birthday celebration. Would that be okay, if I made it a hook, or no?”

    That sounds fine. Just make the stakes high. Even though nobody’s life is at stake*, it should be clear that this birthday debacle is a big deal.
    –*Or so I imagine.

    Also, it’s not clear from your description whether the person that is suffering from the birthday disaster is the protagonist or her best friend. I’d recommend writing it so that it’s the protagonist that’s suffering. If it’s just the protagonist helping the best friend getting over her bad day, readers may wonder “why am I reading about [protagonist] when it’s the best friend that’s going out and doing interesting things?”

  13. Tomon 13 Mar 2009 at 11:00 am

    So B. Mac, can you set up a review forum for me?

  14. B. Macon 13 Mar 2009 at 11:59 am

    Sure. Here it is. Also, you might find it helpful to look at this article.

  15. Jaya Lakshmion 13 Mar 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Chocolat is aimed at women in their thirties, but I think that a teenager could enjoy the story. I’m going by the book, which I’ll summarize:
    Vianne Rocher and her daughter Anouk move to Lansquenet, a sleepy French town with turmoil. However, as the Priest Father Reynaud tries to root these “pagans” out, believing that they are corrupting the town.
    This is a quiet novel because while burning boats and abusive husbands exist within the plot, Mrs. Harris focuses more on Vianne helping people deal with grief, mend family ties, and find new lives for themselves.
    I guess what I mean in terms of quiet is “not as much action,” or I don’t want the action to dominate the story. My villain isn’t evil evil, and like the Sailor Moon villains she creates monsters; but she actually doesn’t want them to get killed, which leads her creating only a few. (The reason for the lack of action.)
    I have a passive protagonist who gradually does more as she comes to realize her inner strength.
    It is the protagonist’s birthday disaster, by the way. The friend is important, but doesn’t steal the show (as far as I know; I’m just planning out the plot before actually drawing it.)

  16. Limaon 03 Apr 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I don’t think bringing back dead characters is always bad, if there is some grave consequence for doing so. For example, I was very annoyed by Heroes in season 2 when Claire’s blood could cure everything. The show lost some tension because a dead character could now be resurrected (fortunately they’ve since dropped it).

    Then there’s Supernatural. I think they’ve used the “bring back from the dead” thing 3 times now, yet there is always a dangerous aspect to what they do. The price of bringing someone back is always high. Even when Dean was brought back by an angel, it was only so he could stop the Apocalypse (long story).

  17. illustaron 16 Apr 2009 at 11:32 am

    I agree heartily with #6! I’m severely limiting the powers of my heroes. Nothing kills my interest in a character faster than overpowering them (*coughCABLEcough*). Who wants to play with the kid in the neighborhood who pulls new rules out of nowhere so that he wins every time? That’s no fun. Giving your characters powers with defined limits forces them to be more resourceful and creative in how they solve their problems, and forces YOU, the writer, to come up with cleverer ideas, too.

    I’m also trying to make my villains *smart* instead of cliche. If the heroes seem to be getting too close, the villains need to adapt and change their game plan to stay ahead of them. Have people make intelligent decisions (as intelligent as is in-character, that is) and make the reasoning plausible and solid.

  18. Ragged Boyon 16 Apr 2009 at 1:30 pm

    That sounds like a plan, Illustar. My first two heroes have pretty limitless abilities and I hate that. I’m still trying to come up with good limitations. I=

  19. Chulanceon 10 May 2009 at 9:19 am

    Hey, I have a question for you, B. Mac. I was thinking about how you said it becomes dull when the hero can never face average criminals. Well, they certainly can’t but since my story happens in the future, there is some future technology. Maybe criminals have newer weapons to challenge people with abilties? Would that work out as long as the general public could access these weapons or criminals could get them at the black market?

    I disagree with #6. I enjoy large non realistic powers and still think of challenges. For example, if a world contains many supervillains? Also, why is bringing back dead people bad for the plot?

  20. B. Macon 10 May 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Bringing back dead characters is bad plotting because it makes death meaningless. If death is meaningless, who cares what happens in the fight? If it doesn’t matter whether a character dies or not, the fighting is meaningless. Those are some nice punches and kicks, but they don’t matter.

    I think that criminals armed with supertechnology could work. The goal here is to give yourself the ability to suddenly bring in serious foes that don’t have to be introduced. Usually, a supervillain has to be introduced, which is why it’s hard to write a hero that can only be challenged by supervillains.

  21. Ragged Boyon 10 May 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I like supervillains that work with ingenuity and resources more than those that just have ridiculously powerful abilities. For example, in Watchmen I found Ozymandia’s plan to be genius. He doesn’t have any powers, but he was able to destroy a huge chunk of NYC and stop a nuclear war. I was far less impressed when Frieza blew up the saiyan planet with a blast. Yawn.

    I think you may be focusing too much on powerful villains, which are good, but people only remember and appreciate villains with style. For example, the Joker is one of the most famous villains because he oozes style.

  22. Davidon 10 May 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I’m not so convinced about the Joker in The Batman. Are you?

  23. Ragged Boyon 10 May 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I’m speaking of the Joker in general.

  24. B. Macon 10 May 2009 at 5:06 pm

    I don’t think that The Batman is done very well.

  25. Ragged Boyon 10 May 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Which Batman is The Batman? is that the one from WB, where the Joker had long hair?

  26. Davidon 10 May 2009 at 5:27 pm

    yes and a cute batgirl

  27. Ragged Boyon 10 May 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Oh, I didn’t like that one either. I don’t really like The Brave anf The Bold. Batman doesn’t feel like himself.

  28. Stefan the Exploding Manon 11 May 2009 at 3:31 am

    I enjoy The Brave and the Bold, but that’s probably because I prefer the a more light-hearted Batman. I’m not the biggest fan of the darker Batman that’s become popular in recent years. And The Brave and the Bold features many characters who are generally overlooked, which pleases me greatly.

  29. Tomon 11 May 2009 at 5:37 am

    The Batman started off really good. Especially the Clayface story. Then somewhere along the line (I think when Robin was introduced, but not because Robin was introduced) it just degraded. The final episodes with the Justice League were just… meh…

    The Brave and the Bold is good because it gives minor superheroes like Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Plastic Man etc. a chance to appear as main characters, whereas otherwise they wouldn’t be strong enough characters to merit a show. The Blue Beetle show wouldn’t work, but the fact that it’s Blue Beetle plus Batman makes it watchable.

  30. B. Macon 11 May 2009 at 10:26 am

    Ick. I found Aquaman’s cameo in The Brave and the Bold particularly annoying. It was like the writers had been assigned to write the episode as an audition for an Aquaman show. On the other hand, I think that cameos work much more smoothly on an ensemble show like Justice League. For example, Booster Gold’s performance in The Greatest Story Never Told was ridiculously entertaining in part because he was a nobody.

    Also, on a completely unrelated tangent, I think that Batman’s voice actor in Brave and the Bold is distinctly subpar.

  31. notsohottopicon 24 May 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Batman’s chin in the BatB bothers me. I know it’s the animation style, but seriously, a chin that is sharply square does not exude manliness.

    And as for…Aquaman…yeah, underwater bank robbers, hmm? Never in a million years. Still, his addition in Teen Titans (yeah, shoot me for watching the show as a kid) was not bad.

  32. Tomon 25 May 2009 at 3:06 am

    Okay, Aquaman aside, Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Red Tornado, The Atom, Deadman, heck even Speedy! They were all pretty interesting.

    But what I like about BatB is some of the internal thoughts, they crack me up!

    ‘Thespian’ Robber: Thou shalt feel the sting of my blade!
    Batman: (thinking) Somewhere, Shakespeare is spinning in his grave.

    Blue Beetle: Whoa, it’s like no time has passed at all!
    Batman: Due to the quantum anomalies of the wormhole, none has. (thinking) Which is just a fancy way of saying this job gets weird sometimes.

    But one thing I definitely didn’t like about BatB is their version of the Joker. Ugh, absolutely nothing distinctive or interesting about him. Luckily he doesn’t feature much.

    And as I have said numerous times, I love Teen Titans! Yaaaaaay!

  33. Markeithon 31 May 2009 at 11:37 am

    I need some help. My comic has 8 people. Is that too many?

  34. Trollitradeon 31 May 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Heya, Markeith! You’d probably need to describe more about the characters specifically… Are they the eight HEROES of the story, or just eight important characters in general, including the villain and his henchmen? If it’s a superhero team of eight people, you probably have too many. ^_^;; In my review forum, we’re discussing how my NINE main characters are simply overwhelming the plot. Three, four, or five heroes in the main team are a better shot than eight.

  35. B. Macon 31 May 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Hello, Markeith. When you say eight characters, do you mean eight heroes? That would probably be too many for a short series. However, a team of 4 heroes + a love interest + 2 villains + a side protagonist (like a cop) would be very feasible. If you’re doing a team of superheroes, I’d recommend keeping the team to 2-5 members. If you have more heroes than that, it will be hard to develop them all. (Also, fight scenes with 8+ main combatants will be hell).

    Would you like a review forum?

  36. Amyon 18 Jul 2010 at 5:57 pm

    “7. Please avoid rewinding the story, particularly bringing back dead characters.

    If something in your story happens, you should not make it unhappen. Revealing that something was “all a dream” or a hallucination or a computer simulation is more likely to confuse your readers than intrigue them. Readers are also likely to feel annoyed that you jerked them around. Instead of wasting their time with a fake story, why not tell a story you’re actually willing to stick to?”

    I think this is a very very wrong advice to give. I mean, it depends on the genre. One of my favorite comics features Dylan Dog, an investigator of nightmares and the paranormal, so dreams, hallucinations of all sorts, not to mention bringing back of the dead… (there are episodes where everything is a dream or a parallel reality in all 120 pages) are simply his playground, and occur often (but don`t steal the show). It`s really a thrill and a pleasure to be “jerked” around like that and I`m not the only one who feels that way.

  37. B. Macon 18 Jul 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I wish you the best of luck.

    I haven’t read any Dylan Dog, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that revealing to publishers and/or readers that the entire issue or graphic novel (or even a major portion of it) was a dream is more likely to anger than please them.

    I think it’d help if the dream sequences somehow advance the “real world” plot, as in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. But I think the most common use of dreams is to introduce some shocking event/change/information that doesn’t affect what is actually happening the story in any permanent way. I don’t think that’s usually effective storytelling. For example…

    Author: And then the love interest dies!
    Reader: OMG!
    Author: …But it was all just a dream!
    Reader: Kthxbai

  38. ShardReaperon 19 Jul 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Would it be mistake to recap what happened every issue?

  39. B. Macon 19 Jul 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I don’t think it’s necessary to do it every issue, but I don’t think that it’s a major mistake. If the book is otherwise publishable, I can pretty much guarantee that an editor wouldn’t pass you up because you had a recap. (For one thing, the earliest a recap could come up is the beginning of issue #2, and by that point you’ve had some time to give them a taste of your work).

  40. Leighon 31 Aug 2010 at 9:14 am

    10 is overdone in modern comics a lot. What happened to the days when stories could be told in one or two issues? For mine I have a few standalone plots that connect in the big over-reaching plot.

    And #6… Good times… When I was twelve all my characters were so freakishly powerful. Electra (my names sucked too) could walk through anything a curent could pass through, fly by becoming a lightning bolt, and don’t even get me started on combat. Too much power is the mark of an immature writer in my eyes.

    Splash pages are evil.

  41. B. Macon 31 Aug 2010 at 10:12 am

    “…Don’t even get me started on combat. Too much power is the mark of an immature writer in my eyes.” I agree that it would definitely be a red flag for an unpublished author.

    However, I don’t think it’d be a problem if the author sufficiently challenged the character. That said, most nigh-invincible characters are not sufficiently challenged. I don’t think a publisher would miss much if it preemptively rejected every submission with a main character that was substantially more powerful than (say) Spiderman or Batman. DC’s got that market locked up pretty tight.

    Also, it’s harder to do crossovers with nigh-invincible characters. 😉

  42. Ragged Boyon 01 Sep 2010 at 11:01 am

    Haha. I remember starting out I would often give my character one power and try to make it branch out into as many powers as possible. ” He can control water because he can use air to lift and shape it. It came out lame every time. Now I try to work with one power that opens itself up to versatility. After all, it’s not really about the powers, if you’re clever you can make nearly anything look good.

  43. NicKennyon 01 Sep 2010 at 11:21 am

    Any superpower can turn be really powerful. Someone who can control water, for example, could be unstopable. He draws all the water out of somebody’s body, they’re now dead, and little effort is needed.

  44. Ragged Boyon 02 Sep 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Exacta. It’s all about the limitations. My Showtime controls water, but I would never play him as super powerful or a killer. In fact, he’ll cut objects with water but not people. Go moral code!

  45. Guardian7on 12 Sep 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Yet another Good series of advice.

    I aim to play with some PD chara. So the (initial) power levels (strength in MANY cases) are already set (6). But I too believe there is such a thing as too powerful. It makes the smaller chara that much smaller.

    The Death one (7) I have always adhered to… and I was massively pissed when Phoenix kept coming back. It totally robs the impact of X-Men #137.

    I am not strong on Catch Phrases (8)… unless the character is actually flamboyant enough to say it… and it seems more out of irritation than anything.

    I love 9. I personally think you should do a whole article on just that one alone. Teach writers how to make their character more round. Course there will always be that big dumb brick type that ALWAYS tries to solve things with his fists.

    10. Page Padding.
    ouch… Guilty of that!
    Talking head syndrome!
    BUT… I read your piece of yours (and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it) about grabbing the reader from the get go. THAT Is sound advice. If you can get them wanting more (and maybe go through a little talking heads thing)… SCORE! HEH!

    Nice stuff. I like the way you write. Knowledge and humor. Two of life’s true pleasures.

    G7

  46. Irrevenoidon 22 Oct 2010 at 8:53 pm

    re: #6, I find that they basically never explore the really interesting aspect of Superman – the temptations that must come with being unstoppable. Yeah he was raised as a big boy scout by the Kents but he’s still human in the ways that count.

    Obviously he’s not going to be tempted to casually murder (for example) , but what about the grey areas?

    There are ways to make the hypothetical hostage situation challenging for even the Man of Steel (“I have planted bombs around Metropolis – if Superman doesn’t let me escape to deactivate them…”) but it’s purely an action scenario – let’s make it a little more morally interesting…

    What if X-Ray vision reveals the hostage-taker is Clark’s good friend Jimmy Olsen? Sure he’s been blackmailed into it by crooks but if Superman busts him now his reputation will be severely damaged. How should he handle it? Is it really fair to handle it differently to any other case? etc. etc.

  47. B. Macon 22 Oct 2010 at 9:02 pm

    In one of the episodes of Lois and Clark, Clark Kent/Superman refuses to lie outright and directly deny the (obviously true) allegation that CK and Superman are the same person. Instead, he holds a press conference as Clark Kent and gives non-answers as (a holographic clone of) Superman shows up. Also, CK/Superman previously destroyed the evidence that could have proven his secret identity, and CK and Jimmy debunked fake evidence that was forged to replace the lost stuff.

    Unlike a lot of stories where the character’s morals are a key obstacle, I feel it didn’t quite get to the point where I wanted the character to cry himself a river, build a bridge and get over it. In contrast, every time the Sentry comes up, my eyes instinctively roll.

  48. Anonymouson 02 Jan 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I think #10 isn’t accurate. Yes, if the characters are explaining something to me for three pages without any dynamic visuals or humor it’s dull. If Seinfield were a comic book, I’d still laugh. Besides, there are many mangas that stall their plots with long fight scenes, dialogue, and filler that remain popular.

    The problem is not the filler itself, but the delivery. So, if a scene adds nothing to the experience (laughs, suspense, action, etc), I agree, scrap it. If the filler has something to add, it’s not a big deal. In a small American-Canadian sized comic, I do have to say filler is dangerous. You can lose sales. In a manga or graphic novel, filler is fine if the delivery is good. Especially if it’s funny, where the hit or miss risk is much higher. Definitely, test your long scenes on proof readers.

    I’m a bit skeptical of rule #8 too. There’s the B-movie/game & indie comic crowd that eats one liners up. Which is a far bigger scale now then it used to be. Still, it’s limiting to how big your audience is, if catchphrases are used.

    I really like the other rules. Especially #6. Heroes are more epic with greater adversity. It’s easier to enjoy and root for the underdog. But, this should be defined a little more. Adding limits to what a power can do can work wonders in keeping things epic. Like controlling water. Maybe a hero has a massive conscience, so he can’t use the water inside the human body? Or, the power doesn’t work on what the eyes can’t see? A special chant is needed?

  49. Anonymouson 02 Jan 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I posted that before I was finished. I hadn’t really finished editing the last paragraph. I was making a reference to another post. Either way, the thought is incomplete. So, ignore it. #6 is detailed enough.

    Where I was going with the last paragraph, is limiting a power with great flexibility, like manipulating water. Or super speed only goes up to a certain speed (ex. not so bad, if the limit is 70 mph with risk of exhaustion or self injury). But, I would have removed that paragraph had I been able to edit it. Anyways, good article.

  50. Ragged Boyon 04 Jan 2011 at 1:30 pm

    “Besides, there are many mangas that stall their plots with long fight scenes, dialogue, and filler that remain popular.”

    Well, I think there are some distinct differences between mangas and comic books. Most obviously would be the need for compression in comic books. Given that most comic books are ~24-32 pages long I think filler would waste a lot of much needed space to advance your story. Readers may feel like they aren’t getting their money’s worth if pages were wasted with dragging fight scenes and superfluous dialogue and the story is hardly advances. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever heard of ‘filler’ in comic book. Holiday specials and ‘what if’s’ maybe, but not filler.

  51. Anonymouson 25 Jan 2011 at 4:13 pm

    “Well, I think there are some distinct differences between mangas and comic books. Most obviously would be the need for compression in comic books. Given that most comic books are ~24-32 pages long I think filler would waste a lot of much needed space to advance your story. Readers may feel like they aren’t getting their money’s worth if pages were wasted with dragging fight scenes and superfluous dialogue and the story is hardly advances. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever heard of ‘filler’ in comic book. Holiday specials and ‘what if’s’ maybe, but not filler.”

    Thanks for the reply. I like a challenge.

    Filler, is in every medium that’s popular and has a good budget. Or, webfiction in any form. What comics have filler, is not always clear. Till, you weigh in pacing, dialogue, fight scenes, advancing towards a destination (Biomega, is a good example), and whether or not it deviates from the plot arc.

    You don’t always hear about it, cause people are more prone to picking filler out from adaptations. Movies, shows, anime, cartoons, etc – where it’s obvious that that story is deviating from the main plot or extending scenes for the sake of not going past the existing timeline for the main story arc.

    In the case of Marvel & DC, a main story arc is only common to their mini arcs. Lasting, only so many issues. I don’t think these companies, are as brave to do much filler, either. I don’t really agree with your idea of What If’s or specials being filler either. As this, would imply Marvel does have massive plot arcs. In which, I’ve never really seen this before in Marvel either. Other then, the stand alone series they do, such as the Dark Tower.

    But even this, has taken the filler out from the Stephen King books. I know, cause I read both. Still, not many fans think Stephen King is horrible for doing this. It, creates an emotional connection. And is done in a way, that may not necessarily be relevant to the plot but is connected to the characters and the world itself. However, the story would not suffer either, as the comics prove if material was removed.

    Why I bring this up, is cause it’s only the stand alone series that often have a main story arc from the very first issue to the end, in Marvel and DC.

    However, Archie Comics (Sonic the Hedgehog), Image and Top Cow does not necessarily adhere to this no filler rule. At least, there are times they seem to bend or break the rule.

    And for the record, manga/manhwa, on average are released in chapters at 17-23 pages monthly on average. So, if you were right, they’d be out of business. Dragonball, would never sell much magazines back in the day, that you found them in. Correction, even today in North America.

    For that matter, neither would Spawn by Todd MacFarlane. Which, does do filler at times. I think, you misinterpreted what I said. Thinking, it’s limited to overseas. Manga, perhaps seems different to comics because of it’s style and cultural references. However, they face the same challenges as any comic found in the world.

    The competition is fierce. TV, games – seem more easily accessible, and depending on the needs of the consumer – potentially cheaper for the amount of content. This is a worry, for all comic writers/artists no matter where you are. So, using filler is a huge risk. And, not recommended.

    Its better to stick to the main plot arc and push forward. However, in rare cases it’s not wrong to want to extend a dramatic scene, a fight scene, or some dialogue. And, it does happen. Especially with comedies.

    In the case of webcomics (a small percentage do) as money makers, this also varies wildly. I know, it’s pointless to argue over the Internet. But, I guess it’s my hope that people don’t blindly follow every rule they come across. Not saying, that you will personally. There are times, you can break or bend the rules to potentially create a better story. Most of the time, it won’t. However, let proof readers and editors help make that decision.

    Just as flashbacks are often frowned upon, in some cases people really enjoy them. They like the back story, if done right. I mention this, as an editor in a writer’s magazine made a huge deal about flashbacks. And there are cases, where many stories are better without them. However, there are some in which I can’t imagine reading the story without it.

    It all depends on the story and characters. At anyrate, I’ll argue this point no more. If this were to become serious debate, on the net there would be no end to it.

    Instead, I thank you for you comment.

  52. Anonymouson 25 Jan 2011 at 4:16 pm

    *Oh, for that Marvel and DC comment, I’d like to correct myself. I didn’t mean to imply Dark Tower is relevant to both. In DC’s case, it’d be material like V for Vendetta. Pardon the mistake. I’d have edited it, if this site allowed me.

  53. helenaon 20 Apr 2011 at 9:45 pm

    okay so my story has some major problems and i need some advice because i cant sort them all out on my own. admittedly this story is almost surrealist so please bare with me.
    i have 5 heros which are the main characters. but the main group of my characters has gone crazy and i have decided to split them into sub stories so readers can choose which cahracters they want to follow after the first book comic but the storys will still interlink from time to time.
    1. character names.
    the story was based on my friends and i let them pick thier own names.
    the five characters are all girls.
    Blaze-can fly and shoot fire,Missy Bubbles- is basically an animorph to start with but becomes only able to transform into a wolf later on, kinkykix-can intergrate herself into technological devices and control them, misty- physchic but have yet to put limits to her powers, Lilly flirtacious-invisabity and intangability.

  54. B. Macon 21 Apr 2011 at 4:47 am

    Some thoughts and suggestions, Helena.

    –I think proofreading more would really help. In particular, I feel your capitalization has some room for improvement.

    –It probably would’ve been more effective to name your characters rather than have your friends do so. In particular, I’d recommend revisiting Missy Bubbles and Kinkykix.

    –“The story was based on my friends…” You find your friends interesting, but will strangers? One concern I’d have with this sort of setup is that I suspect you won’t be willing and/or able to round out characters based on your friends with the flaws and rough edges that make characters memorable.

    –“The main group of my characters has gone crazy…” This sounds like a pretty major plot element, but it only got mentioned in that one line. For example, you described Lilly as flirtatious, but wouldn’t it be more important that she’s crazy?

  55. Wingson 21 Apr 2011 at 9:37 am

    Helena, I’m unsure of how the majority of your character’s names connect with their powers, as at this point they’re rather misleading, with the exception of Blaze. Initially, when I see the names Missy Bubbles, Kinkykix, Misty, and Lilly Flirtatious, I think hydrokinesis, a cereal mascot turned dominatrix, intangibility, and pheromone control, and I end up getting a shapeshifter, a technopath, a psychic, and someone who’s both invisible and intangible.

    The latter set of powers for Lilly is a bit much…You can’t see her, you can’t hit her, so how do you find her and take her out? Unless the villain’s got a Deus Ex Machina on his side, he’s unlikely to.

    In general, most of these abilities are too powerful without suitable weaknesses. Do they have any?

    Basing characters on friends is generally a pretty bad idea. Sure, you care about them, but will the rest of us? Plus, it’s almost impossible to make them flawed because they’ll get mad at you – who wants to be imperfect? Self-inserts tend to be overpowered Mary Sues, and it’s difficult to avoid that.

    – Wings

  56. helenaon 25 Apr 2011 at 5:05 pm

    thank you so much for the comments, will begin making changes now, wanted to let you know that the characters being flawed isn’t an issues as my friends except being less than perfect and as long as its got an edge of humour they won’t object to whatever i write.

  57. XNSon 21 Jul 2011 at 5:40 pm

    #6- My characters are the descendants of the supernals, who in christian mythology are known as the will of the source (God), and therefore have access to a vast amount of power.
    #7- To gain access to this power they have to die for a number of reasons concerning to utilization of the power, before being resurrected.
    To me this all of this is essential to the plot because of the two above are interwoven into each other, no to mention that my characters will be participating in a war, and eventually leading on the battlefield. I was wondering, however, would my readers see it the same way as me?

  58. B. Macon 21 Jul 2011 at 8:29 pm

    “My characters… have access to a vast amount of power.” Are they too powerful relative to the challenges they’re facing? If not, then I’d recommend buffing the antagonists, raising the obstacles and/or weakening the heroes. Generally, I think the antagonists should be more rawly powerful than the protagonists, to give the heroes a greater struggle.

    “To gain access to this power they have to die for a number of reasons concerning to utilization of the power, before being resurrected.” If the characters can be resurrected again and again, the stakes will probably be low for them because they can’t be physically threatened. However, if a single resurrection is built into the origin story and they can’t be resurrected again, I don’t think that the prospect of further resurrections would hang over the story and make the action completely pointless.

  59. XNSon 23 Jul 2011 at 5:44 am

    ‘“My characters… have access to a vast amount of power.” Are they too powerful relative to the challenges they’re facing?’
    No, not at the start of the series, although right now the only challenges I actually considered giving them were in regards to them learning the mechanics of their powers; and them battling each other to see how they all have grown since the initial team broke up. Although tbh I’ve been focusing more on the planning side of things so I know exactly what’s going to hap;pen and the characterisation and the plot are coming second to the mechanics of the powers and the whole universe.

    ‘Generally, I think the antagonists should be more rawly powerful than the protagonists’, So do I, especially since the main characters are around the thirteen to fifteen age group, and have been moderately sheltered from the war they’re about to enter. A fact that puts me in a bind about how young an age these character’s are going to be dying at and the fact they will find themselves in a position where they have to kill. oR a position where the kill out of pure rage…and one through channeling the powers of his spiritual beast with teeth around a fifteen year olds neck. I’m guessing my story is going to be quite dark.

    As far as the death and resurrection of the main characters go, the resurrection process exists as long as they choose to connected to the power they have inherited. There’s only one character who I can see dying once again after the initial resurrection and that would in exactly the same circumstance as the lost their life the first time.

  60. B. Macon 23 Jul 2011 at 7:38 am

    “There’s only one character who I can see dying once again after the initial resurrection and that would in exactly the same circumstance as the lost their life the first time.” Ehh… I think that the war probably will not be so interesting if most of the protagonists can’t actually die. I’d recommend thinking about this some more. Even if you don’t end up killing many protagonists, I’d recommend at least leaving it as much of an option as possible so that readers won’t know for sure.

    In most cases, I think that action villains that cannot kill the protagonists are generally pretty unsatisfying. (Unless the death of the protagonist is besides the point for some reason. For example, in Source Code, the villain is trying to kill Chicago, but the life of the protagonist is never at stake*. In Pokemon, the characters have fairly high-stakes goals attached to combat that is rarely lethal).

    *SPOILER: Because he was dead the entire time. Yeah, don’t think too hard about it.

  61. XNSon 23 Jul 2011 at 11:12 pm

    ‘Ehh… I think that the war probably will not be so interesting if most of the protagonists can’t actually die’ Well the protagonists can die as in leaving the physical plane, however since the characters are actually a combination of three major planes and the subtle energy system, as well as the story being heavy on spirituality and the supernatural, I thought it would be a tad tedious to make a big deal out of their second, or third deaths. Furthermore I’d would find the whole characterization of a protagonist to be completely wasted if they decided to give the power entitled to them.

    ‘In most cases, I think that action villains that cannot kill the protagonists are generally pretty unsatisfying.’ The only time I’ve actually found a program to be ruined by a character who you knew couldn’t/wasn’t going to die was in Doctor Who. Especially since the third act of the episode was watching how the doctor overcame the dilemma he was in. Not to mention if that particular actor was leaving you’ know because it would be mentioned online, on a chat show or in a newspaper.

  62. B. Macon 24 Jul 2011 at 4:43 am

    Hmm, okay. I don’t think I can help you much on this one, XNS. Good luck.

  63. HatiChantheWolfHogon 04 Sep 2011 at 11:52 pm

    I don’t know, deal with the devil and resurrection stories could be interesting, especially if they focused on the survivors guilt aspects or the consequences of striking a Faustian contract with a malevolent being.

    They could even focus on the psychological aspects of said malevolent being instead of hand-waving them as a token evil enemy.

    Though I think a resurrection or deal with the devil plot would work best as an origin story.

  64. Anonymouson 29 Aug 2012 at 9:46 pm

    So am I the only person who thinks this article is basically saying that the 2 biggest companies in the comic industry are doing it all wrong.

  65. M. Happenstanceon 29 Aug 2012 at 10:44 pm

    There’s a reason why we know that this stuff barely ever works – we’ve seen it in action way too many times, with successes few and far between. Marvel and DC aren’t infallible just because they’re big.

  66. Matton 08 Nov 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Question: Do I absolutely need a publisher or editor in order to sell an online comic or can I produce one independently and still maintain ownership of the rights? I’m just curious if I can release a comic on my own through a service like ebay and not get slammed by some publisher or federal organization for illegally selling a comic without a publisher.

  67. B. McKenzieon 09 Nov 2012 at 5:28 am

    There are certain advantages to professional publishers (most pay upfront, for example), but you’re fully legally entitled to sell self-published books.

  68. The Eviler Twinon 25 Feb 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Question its about number 6 I totally agree with that one but I never been good at following rules and I came up with a character that is a bit over powered and its an important part of his character would you say this is a bad idea

  69. Lemonaryon 12 Jul 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Question: Is having a hero with no powers okay? I have no idea if it would work. Batman has no superpowers, but he has gadgets. If I take away the gadgets, will it still work? my superhero is a dog, and he is tactical more than offensive, so he doesn’t really have any powers. Would this work if he is encountering a villain that has powers?

  70. B. McKenzieon 13 Jul 2013 at 8:42 am

    In general, I think an unpowered hero (with or without gadgets) could work against a supervillain, ideally a supervillain with somewhat limited superpowers. For example, Green Arrow and Yeoman are just guys with bows and strong fighting skills. Alternately, I think a character like Batman could work if you took away the gadgets (and perhaps played up the ninja theme).

    In your case, I’m not sure. Your hero is an unpowered dog? I’m not sure how that would work against a supervillain.

  71. Glamtronon 18 Oct 2013 at 11:45 am

    I write and draw my own comics.. (Its really stressful especially d writing part.).. But how do i write a comic story?.. I’m asking because i tend to come up with many dialogues

  72. mcon 28 Jun 2014 at 6:39 pm

    It`s particularly interesting that the writer negates formulas that have worked successfully. Superman The Movie starring the late Christopher Reeves, used time travel to save the day.
    The Incredible Hulk could hold his breath for days fighting the Sub-Mariner. #118. Dying characters have worked well on the supernatural series; avoiding cliches works well also the author is delving into pure conjecture as a matter of personal opinion and not actual advice.
    This is a very pointless article advising writers what to do and not to do like this; its inappropriate, and delimiting. Write what you believe works not what others think doesn`t work.

  73. B. McKenzieon 28 Jun 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I believe that almost all writing advice is opinion. Besides how-to articles on punctuation and other basic mechanics, the only exception I can think of is analysis of sales figures — but even then there are judgment calls, choices of what/when to count, and questions of which works would be applicable to which authors. For example, would a 1970s movie be highly applicable as a reference for what would be most likely to succeed for a novel or comic book circa 2014? Personally, I feel that’s a counterintuitive premise.

    Thanks for your comment, Daniel.

  74. KCSledgeon 09 Oct 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I’ve thought over my scripts, and maybe there’s a catchphrase every 3-4 issues. I don’t believe in using the kind of trademark catchphrases mentioned, and I have to feel it come to me automatically, rather than think it up when I feel like the situation makes it a must. True, we’re not in the “Ahnold” 80’s, but if you use them like a chef should use garlic, I think they can add a good energy to a scene.

  75. KCSledgeon 10 Oct 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Ok, I reread the passage, I realize you were referring to what I was calling trademark catchphrases. What I was justifying for moderate use was “one-liners”. Catchphrases nowadays, can be good, but aren’t anything I’d want to risk trying to make work for today’s audience.

    I think about the big super-powered types; besides creating conflict, I’d go nuts keeping things consistent and avoiding causing the reader to say, “Wait, he lifted something heavier that in issue #3, why can’t he now?” That’s one reason I won’t touch writing fantasy literature.

  76. Tomason 15 Apr 2016 at 10:47 pm

    #7 is like a big “AND I AM LOOKING AT YOU, JEAN GREY!” (I still love her, though. She is awesome. And flaming hot too (ADP))

  77. Kingon 24 May 2016 at 11:29 pm

    In my story, I plan on only bringing back two characters. And even then, only one is a true resurrection, the other is… not quite a clone, but something similar. That shouldn’t annoy the audience too much, should it?

  78. B. McKenzieon 25 May 2016 at 5:52 am

    I’m not sure annoying the audience is the issue. I think it’s gutting the fear of death, which sort of takes the drama out of fighting and potentially losing. At the very least, I’d recommend going in a George R.R. Martin direction and having the resurrection come at a great and long-term cost.

    I generally wouldn’t recommend going down this road unless you’re in a Marvel/DC situation where permanently killing a character would jeopardize millions of dollars.

  79. JWon 26 Jul 2016 at 8:30 pm

    What if the ressurections was at the very end, in order to show a character finally mastering their powers. There’d be no more story to undermine with it.

  80. B. McKenzieon 27 Jul 2016 at 5:21 am

    “What if the ressurections was at the very end, in order to show a character finally mastering their powers.” I do not believe this resolves the issue (if you’re undoing a major plot development, why introduce it in the first place?). I’d generally recommend against it unless the character’s effort to undo the plot development is really interesting and/or central to the plot (e.g. time-travel, or Indiana Jones using the Holy Grail to save his father). Turning on a superpower doesn’t sound like it’d be that interesting.

  81. Vixis Shiar'Deluson 27 Jul 2016 at 8:53 am

    Resurrection usually works best (i.e. not undermining the story) if it comes at some huge cost or changes the character.

    A good example of an extreme cost would be in the Full Metal Alchemist : Brotherhood series, where one must use a philosophers stone to successfully bring a person back to life. However, the creation of these stones requires human sacrifices of varying magnitudes.

    A good example of a changed person is how resurrection generally works in A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones Spoilers Ahead). Catelyn Stark/Tully dies in the red wedding, but is brought back several days later in the same way that Berric Dondarrian was previously. Her resurrection cost the life of another, and did not heal her wounds entirely. She lived without a voice (as her throat had been slit) and was essentially a force of pure vengeance, forgetting any love she had in her prior life. A poor resurrection occurred in the show, with Jon coming back to life at virtually no cost (since he is a Marty Stu).

  82. B. McKenzieon 27 Jul 2016 at 7:01 pm

    “A poor resurrection occurred in the show, with Jon coming back to life at virtually no cost (since he is a Marty Stu).” It seems like an odd deviation for the series, which otherwise ~consistently requires a significant price for magic. I’m really hoping there’s something going on that we aren’t able to see yet (e.g. he’s been brought back by a malevolent entity and/or Melisandre is unwittingly being used by the Great Other or some other nefarious force). Also, his resurrection thus far has been maddeningly perfect (whereas other characters that have been resurrected have been severely affected physically and/or mentally).

    Like all of the other Stark leads before him, I assume he’s being set up for huge failure, and any successes he has mainly serve to make the eventual failure hurt more. E.g. think of all of Robb’s victories and Ned’s short-lived successes as King’s Hand (e.g. figuring out that Cersei’s children were illegitimate). Double points if Dany kills him (her Targaryen craziness is becoming increasingly evident).

  83. JWon 28 Jul 2016 at 6:51 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this some more and I’ve gotta do it. Doesn’t have to resurrect all whos ever died, but the people she met on the other side for sure.

    Otherwise she didn’t really do anything good throughout the whole story. She killed one villain in part 1 with alot of help after drastically underperforming in that fight, but that’s it. She’s either lacked the sentience to even talk of her own accord or been abused and traumatized into evil after her heel turn in part 2.

    She wasn’t even able to defeat the main villain, her male side because they share the same life force. Their hearts beat in unison, and they feel every physical sensation the other does.

    I’m thinking the least she could do, after tens of thousands have died, the land brought to a nuclear winter, trees incinerated and the soil a blashed ash, is to finally be shown as the omnipotent deity she is and undo at least some of this damage.

    Otherwise it’s pretty sad and miserable.

    ps this is for a graphic novel, not prose.

  84. JWon 28 Jul 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Correction, in part 1 she killed another villain by throwing a rock at her from the bushes. So two total.

  85. B. McKenzieon 28 Jul 2016 at 7:53 pm

    “I’ve been thinking about this some more and I’ve gotta do it. Otherwise she didn’t really do anything good throughout the whole story. She killed one villain in part 1 with alot of help after drastically underperforming in that fight, but that’s it. She’s either lacked the sentience to even talk of her own accord or been abused and traumatized into evil after her heel turn in part 2.” I’d recommend checking out #2 and possibly #7 in this article.

    “I’m thinking the least she could do, after tens of thousands have died, the land brought to a nuclear winter, trees incinerated and the soil a blashed ash, is to finally be shown as the omnipotent deity she is and undo at least some of this damage. Otherwise it’s pretty sad and miserable.” If tens of thousands of casualties were the worst of it, I think that saving 99.99%+ of humanity from an omnipotent deity would probably not be particularly dark, especially if you don’t dwell on the most depressing elements (e.g. there were probably hundreds of thousands of casualties in Avengers 1 and Man of Steel, but they had a much larger impact on the mood of Man of Steel because MOS spent so much more time on it, in such a more in-your-face way, and with a very grim visual style).

    If you weren’t interested in sticking with the nuclear winter angle, some options there would be limiting the scope (e.g. just one city or region) and/or the duration (e.g. if fewer than 100 cities have been devastated, the winter would likely last less than a year — on the high end volcanic eruptions amounting to 10,000+ nuclear detonations have caused slight decreases in worldwide temperature for 2-4 years, so it’s very plausible that things would noticeably improve relatively quickly). Another possibility would be just not having a nuclear winter for whatever reason if you think it’s a step too far for the plot.

  86. JWon 28 Jul 2016 at 9:59 pm

    There are no humans in my story. The people I’m talking about are about 100,000 in population.

    “I’d recommend checking out #2 and possibly #7 in this article.”

    I saw that article. I think we’re getting mixed up on definitions.

    On her being useless.

    In part 1, She:

    – Stops the fight between bandits and her escort party.
    – Saves two companions from being eaten by spider swarms. Albeit gives them both radiation poisoning in the process.
    – Kills two of the main villain’s greatest servants, although they’re both revived later by him.
    – Throws the main villain and herself into a black hole during the final fight, causing them to merge, then split into 3 finite gods. Then they still come back three days later. Meaning 5 gods now exist.

    In part 2 she is made to turn against her people and joins the side of her other self and they attack her people together.

    In part 3
    She kills one of the 3 finite gods I mentioned earlier.
    – Destroys the main villain’s armies in a picosecond.
    – Restores one of the heroes to full health.
    – Fights the two other title characters to the death.

    So she’s done alot, just not alot of good.

    On the point of her being mute. , specifically point 7, When I said she can’t talk of her own accord, I mean she can’t hold down a conversation that makes logical sense. She can repeat words, later string basic words together at random, later use single words to their correct meaning, then when she turns villain she takes a huge step backward and becomes silent.

    It has nothing to do with writing bad female dialogue. Half my cast is female. The three characters of the story’s title are female. The other two have complete speaking parts and aren’t mute at all.

    The silence is to show that the person she was has been ripped to shreds and now she just communicates through violence.

    The nuclear winter is simply from the two co-creators of the universe hitting each other once, sending untold millions of tonnes of earth and ash into the sky. Blocking out the Sun. Not only that, it sets the air alight across the entire continent and unleahes a huge blast wave. Anyone not magically protected or deep in caves got roasted alive.

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