Feb 03 2009

Would you like to suggest a writing article? (Sticky post)

Published by at 2:40 am under The Author-Audience Connection

If you’d like to suggest any, I’d appreciate that. Here are some of the questions we’ve previously answered.

171 responses so far

171 Responses to “Would you like to suggest a writing article? (Sticky post)”

  1. Ragged Boyon 04 Feb 2009 at 9:33 am

    Working with a superhero team vs a solo superhero.

    Or

    Making Interesting Superhero Teams

  2. Anonymouson 04 Feb 2009 at 10:31 am

    On the team theme, how do you make sure all the characters are equally developed. (ie in F4 The Thing always seemed flat to me)?

    Or in keeping your secret identity secret how do you avoid the cliches?

    In fact, in any situation how do you avoid the cliches?

    How do you think up costumes that aren’t done to death?

    Convincing villain scenarios… they can’t all want to take over the world.

    Secret identity, a list of jobs where the employers won’t mind you constantly running off to save the world (ie, not a long haul flight aeroplane pilot).

    [UPDATE FROM B. MAC: I now have two articles on superhero dayjobs: How to Pick an Effective Day Job and a brief list of Common Day Jobs].

  3. B. Macon 04 Feb 2009 at 11:27 am

    Ack. I once briefly addressed the issue of how to make teams interesting. I have class in a few minutes, so I’ll try to develop this more later.

    —On a team, it’s more important that characters have simple origin stories and simple, generic superpowers. There’s just not enough space to explain five separate radioactive lab accidents. (Also, in a fight scene it’d be ridiculously hard to choreograph many complex powers). Realistically, it’s probably best to focus on the origin story of just one character, or of the team as a whole. For example, Soon I Will Be Invincible focused on the origin story of just Fatale and skimmed over her teammates. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a team origin (they were all hit by mutagen at the same time).

    —I recommend 3-4 characters. 5 is doable but usually means that at least 1-2 of the characters will be some variety of unsatisfying (underdeveloped, bland, redundant, etc). I wouldn’t recommend 5+ characters for a first-time author.

    —Interesting relationships between the teammates are important. That usually means that you need a bit of tension, but it’s very tricky. There’s a fine line between a dramatic conflict and a wangsty soap opera. For example, I’d say that Justice League Unlimited handles the Green Lantern-Vixen-Hawkgirl love triangle pretty well. In contrast, I find the Robin-Cyborg and especially the Leonardo-Raphael catfights kind of annoying.

    I think it helps to have a few rules that characters can’t break. For example, even if Agent Black thinks that Agent Orange is completely loony and unfit to be a government agent, he’s still contractually obliged to be Orange’s partner. He can’t just go off sulking whenever Orange is in the room. In contrast, there’s not much forcing Leonardo and Raphael together.

  4. M. Tuleson 04 Feb 2009 at 11:48 am

    I am really glad Brett pointed this section out for me! Lol. I have been an avid reader of your articles, (and responses) and I had been wondering for a while where the ‘Request an Article’ section was.

    If it is possible, could you do an article on the rules of writing in old english (I have a character in something I am writing that speaks it) so that it does not look I am, for the lack of a better term, give the readers a pile of dog doo when the character speaks in old english.

    I also was wonder if you could write an article of villian snappy sayings (i.e. a magician like villain says something more vile than ‘welcome to the final act of your life) or at least write an article on how to write such a thing.

    Thanks in advance,

    M. Tules

  5. Bretton 04 Feb 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Haha. Oh btw M, that “final act” line is STILL bogus. So I hope B.Mac does help you, for my sake. :p jk.

    Another useful article would be on villain personalities. Usually you see a few cliche types:

    Mad Scientist/Evil Sorcerer- Doctor Doom

    Evil Emperor/Shadowy Superforce- Palpatine

    Demon of Wanton Destruction- Sauron

    Corrupt Politician/Machivellian Schemer- Starscream

    Evil Megalomaniac/Businessman- Lex Luthor

    Minion (Minion subtypes include cool, imbecile, loyal, traitorous, bada**, and smart-aleck.)- Ringwraiths

    These aren’t necessarily bad and probably wont kill a story because they are so workable, BUT sometimes it gets hard to distinguish a villain from what’s already done. (e.g. How do I separate MY scheming corporate titan from Lex Luthor.) A great way to do this is to give a villain personality so they’ll turn out more like Darth Vader and less like Galbatorix. So how do you manage it?

  6. B. Macon 04 Feb 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Hmm, Brett. I like your idea about categorizing villains. However, I wouldn’t get too hung up on the occupational class of villain (like the corrupt politician vs. businessman vs. mad scientist vs. emperor, etc.) For example, Green Goblin and the Penguin are both evil businessmen, but they don’t feel like copies of each other because their personalities and modus operandi are very different.

    So, I think the easiest way to keep your villains fresh would be to take an occupational class (mad scientist, emperor or whatever) and give him an overarching goal and flaws that aren’t typical for that class. For example, another greedy or megalomaniacal businessman would probably be forgettable. But a vengeful businessman acting in favor of what he thinks is the public interest might be more interesting. For example, Captain Incredible has the option of saving his Mary Jane or a few strangers. He saves Mary Jane but can’t save the strangers. One of them is the five-year-old child of the businessman, who takes it upon himself to avenge the death…

    Here are some negative traits that tend to come up a lot.
    –Callous (can be interesting, if combined with good intentions)
    –Greedy (almost always crappy)
    –Megalomaniac (this needs good motivation)
    –Reckless (kind of cliche, particularly for mad scientists and wizards)
    –The Cleanser… trying to eliminate or change humans (ie Magneto trying to enslave humans or the High Evolutionary trying to evolve us)
    –Eco-conscious (kind of cliche, particularly for mad biologists like Poison Ivy)
    –Irredeemably psychotic (it gets grating quickly… successes in this field are very rare)
    –Vengeance, usually against the hero or one of his friends
    –Irredeemably stupid, like Bizarro (very grating– if you’d like a really stupid character, I’d recommend having him not talk and/or limit him to a henchman or Godzilla role)
    –Force of nature, like Godzilla. Sometimes it works, but this is usually better-suited to a minor villain than the lead.

  7. Holliequon 04 Feb 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I think ‘how to write a good villain’ seems pretty popular. I don’t think you have much on villains, so it might be helpful.

  8. B. Macon 04 Feb 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Mmm… ok, I’ll put some thought into it. I should have something by tonight. Until then, are there any particular aspects of villainous character-creation that are particularly troublesome?

  9. Lunajamniaon 04 Feb 2009 at 3:05 pm

    The reason for their madness? Making it a believable reason. Also just making them convincingly evil … but I almost think you already have a writing article on that. I think.

  10. Holliequon 04 Feb 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Motive seems to trip a lot of people up. Even though that’s a very story-specific thing, you might be able to provide some general advice? Also backgrounds, though that ties into motives a lot.

    I expect creating sympathetic villains could be troublesome, too.

  11. Anonymouson 04 Feb 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Antiheroes could be a good article, just how to do them.

  12. Lunajamniaon 04 Feb 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I love anti-heroes! At least, if they are defined/they have the kind of personality I think they do. If so, I’ve written four stories/novellas/novels (if I put the stories together) about an anti-hero. ^_^

  13. Lunajamniaon 04 Feb 2009 at 4:38 pm

    *a novel

  14. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Feb 2009 at 3:15 am

    My villain is a spoiled guy out to do the dirty work for his dad. Isaac accidentally damaged a car as he was pulling a girl from its path, but the driver deserved it because he was speeding and would have killed her. He turns out to be one of the richest guys in the city, and has a foster son who was also sent from a parallel universe. He gets him to avenge the damage (shallow, shallow man) by ruining the Guardian’s reputation. He poses as him and robs banks, beats people up and causes general mayhem that Isaac has to cope with.

  15. B. Macon 05 Feb 2009 at 3:35 am

    Hmm… Whovian, it might feel a little bit contrived if Isaac just happens to anger the father of the foster son from another universe. Also, it may help if the stakes were higher.

  16. B. Macon 05 Feb 2009 at 4:04 am

    M., I don’t know if I have enough material for an article on villainous dialogue yet, but here are some tips in the meantime.

    1. I recommend having the villain talk in an understated way. That will probably make him sound less cheesy. For example, consider these two dialogues that end in the villain shooting a former associate.

    Version A:
    VILLAIN: You clumsy oaf. You have failed me for the last time!
    The villain shoots the associate.

    Version B:
    VILLAIN: Unfortunately, I’m terminating your services immediately.
    EX-ASSOCIATE: You’re firing me?
    VILLAIN: Something like that.
    The villain shoots the associate.

    I like version B better because it makes the villain sound remotely realistic and creates a moment of dark humor. In contrast, if anyone laughs at version A, it’s probably because they can’t believe how cheesy the author is.

    2. Villainous taunts are usually disappointing.

    3. I’d recommend having the villain talk as little as possible. The more a villain talks, the more he’s likely to get into Dr. Doom territory. Also, dialogue tends to be a distraction from what makes a villain memorable (competence, ambition and style). Can you think of any villains that were particularly memorable because of what they said rather than what they did? (The Dark Knight’s Joker, perhaps).

    4. I’d be really careful with occupationally-themed phrases and taunts, like “welcome to the final act of your life!” Those sorts of puns strike me as risky.

    Ok. What do you think?

  17. Davidon 05 Feb 2009 at 5:11 am

    Writing about disabled characters… mute, deaf, blind and such.

  18. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Feb 2009 at 5:27 am

    Yeah, I thought I should change it a little. How about this?

    Cable’s (the villain) father secretly runs most of Perth’s organised crime. Cable has been begging for a chance to prove himself since his nineteenth birthday and his foster father finally gives in, giving him the chance to totally humiliate the guy who has foiled so many of his plans. That way, Cable will either fail and stop nagging or frame the Guardian for his crimes. Win-win. His first act was to attack Will in the school library (Will is alone with no one to help, heaps of CCTV to catch the “Guardian” in the act and the media will get heaps out of the endangerment of students) in order to set it off, before robbing banks and starting fires.

    Better, worse, the same?

    Also, on villain dialogue, I have mine talking as though he’s impatient/anxious about late homework. (1) He also acts like he expects things to happen when he really doesn’t, as a method of confusion. (2)

    Example 1:

    ISAAC: I’m going to prove that I’m innocent and have you rotting in Australia’s highest security jail by midnight!

    CABLE: Yeah, can we hurry this up? I have to finish an essay for my physics class and my teacher DOES NOT like late submissions. It accounts for 30% of my final grade.

    ISAAC: …Right, whatever. (Thinking) Then why the hell are you rambling on about it? Weirdo.

    Example 2:

    CABLE: (holding a hostage over the edge of a building by the ankle) Is there anything you’d like me to do right now?

    ISAAC: If you think I’m stupid enough to say “let her go”, then you’re the idiot.

    CABLE: I have something to say to you. Catch! (Hurls hostage into air and leaps over edge of building)

    ISAAC: (Catches hostage and goes after Cable) (Thinking) Great, I’m sixteen years old and still playing Chasey. My cousins call it childish, and they’re eight!

  19. B. Macon 05 Feb 2009 at 5:53 am

    I think it’s a bit better, Whovian. On the one hand, it’s sort of plausible that a ranking mob boss would have the resources to acquire an alien foster son. I imagine they’d be nice to have around. However, I still have an issue with the randomness of the vendetta between Isaac and the mob boss. Isaac just randomly wrecks the car of a mob boss (who happens to be the father of an adopted Yinyusi)? I think you would need another logical connection there.

    For example, the mob boss was at the scene because he was involved in the crime that Isaac was trying to stop. For example, Isaac learns somehow that the mob is about to fake a traffic accident to kill the child of one of the mob’s enemies. The mob boss is there because he’s, umm, kind of a sick freak and wants to see the accident.

    What do you think? I know this is rough around the edges, but I think it helps show one way you might be able to undo the contrivance that the mob boss just randomly starts hating on Isaac.

    As for the villainous son, I’m not quite feeling his dialogue. He’s a supervillain and the son of a mob boss. Would he care about homework or what his teachers think? Why? I fear that, if he complains about homework or whatever, it will diminish him because it will make him seem pedestrian and incompetent. In contrast, I think it might work for a hero because the hero might seem more relatable. (Relatability is far more important for heroes).

    Also… well, this is a rough impression after seeing a few lines from this character, but I think he would benefit from more style and personality.

  20. Davidon 05 Feb 2009 at 12:11 pm

    How about an article on sub villains, you know, other villains apart from the main one.

  21. B. Macon 05 Feb 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Like henchmen?

  22. Davidon 05 Feb 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Well, yeah. Henchmen and other bad guys separate from the main villain.

  23. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 06 Feb 2009 at 12:36 am

    Hmm, you’re right. Okay, how about this?

    The mob boss is ticked off because Isaac stopped the kidnapping of the mayor’s husband, so sends Cable after him. It’s partially a way to test his abilities but also a way to turn the public against Isaac. If Cable robs a bank of milions in cash and then the Guardian “disappears”, everyone will think he’s done a runner when he’s actually been murdered. As Isaac, his parents would never know what happened to him and as the Guardian he would be considered a total (bleep).

    Better, worse, the same? Thanks!

  24. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 06 Feb 2009 at 12:51 am

    I think henchmen are a bit too cliche, but I guess the evil genius needs some people to work for him/her. I think I’d rely on robots and computers rather than actual humans because electronics don’t have consciences. I’d need people to build them, though. Hmm, this is a bit of a dilemma.

    Ah, I know. I’d equip all my sentries with wristbands that deliver electric shocks if they disobey, cameras and microphones embedded in their uniforms and a tracking device (unbeknownst to them) embedded in the spinal column, along with a small charge that I can set off to kill them if they REALLY tick me off. My base will have solid walls of laserbeams (instead of the ones that can simply be stepped over) and smokescreen/tear gas/sulfuric acid vents in the walls. My henchmen will be instructed to shoot on sight if they spy my greatest enemies and not take any prisoners.

    Excellent, I shall begin constructing my evil empire at once! Just as soon as I finish my homework. Haha.

  25. Ragged Boyon 06 Feb 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I’d, personally, like a few writing exercise here and there, something to test my ability at writing and editing.

  26. B. Macon 06 Feb 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Hmm, there are some sites out there that have a lot of writing exercises. Here are a few I found at Poewar:

    1. Write 300 words about your bedroom. (The goal here is how to draw on scenery to tell an interesting story).

    2. Rewrite one of your passages into a different style you’re not familiar with. Possible examples may include noir, gothic romance, pulp fiction, horror, cheerful fantasy, comedy, etc. (The goal here is to exercise stylistic flexibility).

    3. Take the last argument you can remember having and try to write a scene from that person’s POV. The idea here is to try to get into their perspective. Try to focus on the voice, not on who’s right or wrong.

  27. Ragged Boyon 06 Feb 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I like number two, I just wrote the title, I’ll write it tomorrow when I’m not semi-sleepy.

    I actually don’t remember the last time I got into a real argument.

  28. B. Macon 06 Feb 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I like #2 as well.

    As for the argument one. If you haven’t had an argument recently, I guess you could write a scene where a college admissions officer explains why he’s rejecting you and you are trying (unsuccessfully) to persuade him otherwise. (From the officer’s perspective). Or you could do a scene where two people are having a political argument, told from the perspective of the person you disagree with more.

    Seriously, though, you haven’t had any arguments recently? Your parents always let you stay out late when you want to? :)

  29. Ragged Boyon 06 Feb 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Nope, no arguments. I’m a perfect little angel… or just a really good actor. Teehee.

  30. Holliequon 06 Feb 2009 at 10:48 pm

    #1 sounds startlingly like an exercise we had to do to practise for our English exams.

    That was pretty funny actually. I described the side of my house as a particularly square cloud, haha.

  31. B. Macon 07 Feb 2009 at 1:45 am

    “#1 sounds startlingly like an exercise we had to do to practise for our English exams.”

    That doesn’t surprise me, Holliequ. It’s a writing exercise that doesn’t entail much outside knowledge, so it’s a purer test of writing ability. In my experience, standardized writing tests tend to use prompts that are universally familiar to students (“describe your room”) or equally unfamiliar (“here is a passage from an essay no 12-year-old has ever read. Discuss”).

  32. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Feb 2009 at 2:27 am

    I like doing writing exercises because they always give me some little bit of description that I like and use later. When I handed in my English project last year, the one that inspired my whole story, everyone kept asking me how I got 100%. I said “I think about my day and try to describe everything I did with poetic detail”. Most of them tilted their heads and said “oh yeah”, but I knew they had no clue as to what I was saying.

    I can unwind a basic story idea in a few minutes but it’s never perfect. I usually have a night to do it if it’s an assignment, but it’s more difficult in-class.

  33. B. Macon 07 Feb 2009 at 2:34 am

    I have a seriously bad attention span but a frighteningly good memory. Consequently, I tend to do much better on in-class assignments than long papers (5+ pages). Needless to say, this is a major limitation in political science, where pretty much everything is at least 10 pages long.

    But yeah, my memory is very strong. If you listed a line or two from one of my 600+ posts, I could probably tell you which article you were quoting from.

  34. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Feb 2009 at 2:55 am

    I have a strong memory too, but my mind hates maths so much that it takes me about ten seconds to solve a basic problem. My strong point is history. I’m particularly good with lists. I have often surprised my teachers by listing all the planets in order (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto), knowing the names of the Russian Imperial family (Nicolas, Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Alexei), and Henry VIII’s wives and the children they bore him (Catherine had Mary then they got divorced, Anne had Elizabeth and was then beheaded, Jane had Edward but died in childbirth, Anne and Henry got divorced, Catherine was executed, Catherine outlived him). He sure had a thing for Catherines.

    I know it’s cheesy to say this, but history is fun! Haha. The first book I remember reading was full of random facts and I’ve retained most of my knowledge.

  35. Holliequon 07 Feb 2009 at 3:19 am

    Remembering the planets in order isn’t very difficult, though. Most Vile Earthlings Much Jam Sandwhiches Under Newspaper Piles. See? I’m a big fan of history too, though, but I prefer modern history. People are often freaked out by how much knowledge I’ve managed to accumulate on WWII . . .

    My memory’s pretty solid, too, but I can normally only remember lines from books or things people have said. Or numbers. If I worked out a sum twenty minutes ago, chances are I would still know the answer. I can remember formulae for the most part, too.

    But ask me what I did yesterday . . . my response would probably be “. . . um, school?”

  36. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Feb 2009 at 3:56 am

    I learned all the planets for a science test in year eight. I just hung a map of the solar system on my wall and recited the planets three times a day. Man, was I angry when I heard that you could remember them by “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas”!

    I’m pretty good at WWII stuff, too.

  37. M. Tuleson 09 Feb 2009 at 9:40 am

    B. Mac, I read your comment about villainous dialogue, and I laughed for a moment, because your comment on ‘have the villain say little’ was exactly what Brett told me before I posted this. And I think the pun thing is a little risky and there are times where you can avoid using it completely. For my work, I took out that section, and instead of responding, he goes into the action sequence, but I describe his face to be in a perpetual state of insanity and sinister (of course I worded it a little better in my work)

    But right now, I think I am lacking the means to write scenery or be able to write character looks without having to refer to the ‘mirror surface’ tactic. It seems like, due to my novice trademark, I am able to write something that makes sense, whether or not it make sense to the reader at that particular moment (I do tie up lose ends, unlike some books *cough* that leave gaping questions that could have been answered in that book, but leave some smaller but paramount questions left unanswered so that the reader will want to read the book’s sequel).

    And I was wondering if you could take a look at my work, especially my fight scenes, because I think I put a lot of passion into them, but they are not up to par yet.

  38. Ragged Boyon 09 Feb 2009 at 10:26 am

    I think this applies to writing both scenes and showing appearances, so my advice would be to ask yourself “What’s necessary?” For example, if you wanted to describe your characters face, is there anything specific about it that’s interesting? or is it unique enough for it’s own description. Although it’s not important, most writers still like to describe their character’s face, so if you’re adamant about the description, keep it brief. Regarding scenery, this is open to alot more description than appearances because scenery is necessary to immerse a reader. Whether your main character’s eye’s are blue or green is not as important as whether he’s in a swamp of a desert.

    Description is largely up to the author’s discretion, so find your balance between necessary and ‘beyond necessary’. Just don’t give a geography lesson, that will wear on a reader’s interest. Conversely, don’t be too scarce, a reader should always have a good sense of the environment a character is in.

    Hope this helps.

  39. Holliequon 09 Feb 2009 at 10:42 am

    What RB says is sound advice. I think that you don’t need to describe very generic locations in detail. For example, if your characters are in an open field you don’t need to describe in great detail the flowers, length of the grass, etc. because we all know what an open field looks like. On the other hand, if it was a happy scene, you might pick out the “gentle drone of insects” or “brightly coloured wildflowers”. Little details like this can be really helpful in describing the atmosphere, I think.

  40. M. Tuleson 09 Feb 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you very much. It drove me somewhat sane (that’s not normal for me) because, I would say ‘bathroom’ (yes there is a bathroom fight) and I wouldn’t know what to add in to explain it without going overboard.

  41. Dforceon 11 Feb 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I may have a suggestion for an article, or at least a question I’d like answered.

    In one article I’ve read here, it discussed how when superheroes left a villain for the police, the police would have to let him go because they’d have nothing on him.

    Then I wondered what were some extremely unethical things a supervillain could do and not get arrested, on the count that it’s not on the books. The only thing I could think of was mind-control. My question is: Is mind-control illegal? Most places I’ve searched were just discussions about it being real or not and not about it’s legal implications. I’m not interested in its factual existence, just on its being addressed by the government. I suppose it could be viewed as torture; but then, what is torture? XD

    Any thoughts, please?

  42. Cadet Davison 11 Feb 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Forcing one to do something against his will would probably be kidnapping. However, I suspect that mind-reading wouldn’t be illegal unless it were used in a way that violated laws related to espionage or national security.

    Also, how could the police prove that someone had been reading minds? I doubt mind-reading would leave much evidence.

  43. B. Macon 11 Mar 2009 at 4:40 am

    In the Superhero Nation comics, Agent Black and Orange hit a snag because they don’t have enough evidence to arrest Jacob for any crime. They can’t prove he tried to murder Berkeley and, although they know he’s been testing creepy and worrisome mutagens on labrats, that isn’t actually criminal. Agent Black eventually breaks the case by [spoiler] arresting Jacob for tax evasion. Oh, that IRS agent. That would probably be issue #5 out of 6. The cliffhanger at the end of that issue would probably go something like this.

    Agent Black and Agent Orange come back to Jacob’s decidedly creepy lab and it seems obvious that time is running out. Lab assistants are busily milling about. Agent Black announces that, unfortunately for Jacob, his tax filings didn’t say anything about bioweapons research…

    Panel 1.

    JACOB: Conducting research with military applications is not illegal. We’ve already established that.

    AGENT BLACK: Actually, it appears that your accountant improperly filed a deduction for medical research. Title 26503, chapter 3 of the federal tax code establishes that this exemption does not apply to research that is primarily military in nature.

    Panel 2.

    JACOB: If you had any scientific expertise whatsoever, you would know that this isn’t primarily military in nature. The military applications are purely unanticipated consequences of an effort to reduce cancer rates.

    AGENT BLACK: The IRS feels that’s open to interpretation and would like to speak with you immediately. Until we’ve settled this matter, we’ve received a court order to cease the disputed processes. Which, is, ahem… everything you’re working on.

    Panel 3. Jacob refuses to come along.

    JACOB: That’s not going to happen.
    AGENT ORANGE: Your intransigence pleases me! Jacob Mallow, wily foe of mammals, I am honored to arrest you for tax evasion and tax fraud.

    Panel 4. Agent Orange approaches with handcuffs. He’s still 5-8 feet away.
    JACOB: Tax evasion? Tax fraud? That’s it? Aren’t you forgetting something?
    AGENT ORANGE: Despite my many letters to Congress, sheer wiliness is not technically illegal yet. My apologies.

    Panel 5. Jacob unleashes some sort of nightmare-fuel Cthulhu-esque transformation on himself. The “boss battle” is about to commence.

    JACOB, in horrific font: I was thinking more like… resisting arrest.

    [end issue]

  44. Anonymouson 11 Mar 2009 at 8:27 am

    What about a list of sound effects for comic books?

  45. Ragged Boyon 11 Mar 2009 at 9:37 am

    I like the build-up to the transformation alot, and the cliffhanger was perfect.

  46. B. Macon 11 Mar 2009 at 10:04 am

    I suppose I could replace “resisting arrest” with something like “copkilling,” but it didn’t seem to fit his voice well enough.

  47. Ragged Boyon 11 Mar 2009 at 10:08 am

    No, I like resisting arrest better because it’s sort of an understatement.

  48. B. Macon 11 Mar 2009 at 10:16 am

    Ah, ok. I like understated villains.

  49. Bretton 11 Mar 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I would like to request an article on pacing, if there isn’t one already. Like how to tell whether a scene is too fast or slow, and if it is, how to slow it down or speed it up.

  50. Bretton 18 Mar 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Reiteration (lol):
    “I would like to request an article on pacing, if there isn’t one already. Like how to tell whether a scene is too fast or slow, and if it is, how to slow it down or speed it up.”

  51. Ragged Boyon 18 Mar 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I like that, I second that request.

  52. B. Macon 18 Mar 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Ok, I’ll look into this. I’m not sure how I would go about writing an article on pacing, but I’m sure it’s possible. For example, I criticized Twilight for improperly pacing its opening scene. The character says she feels terrified, but everything about the syntax and word-choice suggests a calm and languid pace. Ick.

    Thanks for your question! (And your persistence… ;-) ).

  53. scribblaron 22 Mar 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Quote… “but everything about the syntax and word-choice suggests that a calm and languid pace. ”

    No wonder this place needs proof readers. Are you sure you scored a 100%?

    Actually, before the yelling starts, there is a point to this post… today I had an idea for a comic. I cannot draw at all. I live in Britain (which makes approaching Marvel, DC etc extremely difficult) and I can’t afford to pay an artist.

    I’m open to suggestions.

  54. Holliequon 22 Mar 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I think they give writing grants to people like that, which might let you afford an artist. I believe Dark Horse also take submissions without an artist now, but your script would have to be VERY good I think.

    Alternatively, you could save up the money or write the script and then hire and artist to produce it when you have the money to spare.

  55. B. Macon 22 Mar 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Good call on “that a calm and languid pace,” Scribblar.

    I’d estimate that my writing has around .2 typos per 1000 words. That’s about 20 mistakes per 100,000 words, and about .1 mistakes in a 300-word passage. Since .1 rounds to zero, it doesn’t surprise me that I received 100% on the passage.

    As for the website as a whole, I’ve written several hundred thousand words. I’d bet that there are at least 40-50 mistakes out there. I regret all of them, but perfection is more of an ideal than a realistic goal. That’s why we set 80% as the baseline for success on our proofreading exam.

    Also… I don’t mean to be a bitch, but “proof readers” is one word, not two.

  56. Ragged Boyon 22 Mar 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Likewise, I can’t afford to pay an artist, either. So for now I just focus on writing the comic and getting that just right. After I’m done with all of those things, then I can focus on finding a part-time job to pay for art.

    I suggest you do the same.

  57. B. Macon 22 Mar 2009 at 4:18 pm

    As for your art question.

    First, approaching Marvel or DC is out of the question for the typical prospective writer (regardless of nationality). They deal almost exclusively with veteran writers. Second, it will be difficult for you to find a publisher willing to pick up a script unaccompanied by art. There are a few publishers that will consider naked scripts (such as Dark Horse, for example). But even they are considerably more likely to seriously consider a proposal if they can see what the author has in mind.

    For around $400, I would estimate that you could find a respectable free-lance artist to do a sample of five pages. That’s enough to satisfy the average comic book publisher.

    If you have some academic credentials, such as a college degree, you can probably find an association that will give you a grant to cover such costs. If you are currently a college student, see if your university has organizations on-campus that award such liberal arts grants to students.

    Finally, I suspect that it will not be a major obstacle that you are not available for in-person meetings. Publishers might worry that a Briton might not be able to relate to an audience that is mostly American, but you can probably write around that. (If your characters are American, make sure they don’t use British expressions. That should be sufficient).

  58. scribblaron 22 Mar 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Typical – I pull you up and leave a mistake myself. Hahaha.

    It’s good to know they won’t bother about the in-person meetings. I guess I’ll just have to write it and save up then. At least I only need the first 5 or so pages. I figured I’d have to pay for 22.

  59. B. Macon 22 Mar 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Yeah, $400 isn’t too bad. If you worked for minimum wage ($6 per hour) over the summer, you could probably make that much in two or three weeks. If you’re a recent college graduate, you probably make at least twice minimum wage.

  60. scribblaron 22 Mar 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Your minimum wage is only $6? That’s terrible, by the way. I work part-time, but I get £7.60 an hour, so over $15. But then I’m not at college and I have three kids and so on, so my money disappears fast.

  61. B. Macon 22 Mar 2009 at 7:52 pm

    $6 is pretty bad, but in South Bend it’s pretty respectable for someone without a high school degree. For example, if you make $6 per hour in South Bend, that’s the equivalent of making $14 per hour in New York City. (NYC’s minimum wage is higher than $6, of course).

    Also, I think that a reliable worker will probably do better than minimum wage. For example, I made $7.50 in high school. Adjusted for the cost of living in NYC, that would be like $17.50 per hour. (Assuming that I had had to cover rent, which I did not).

    And let’s not forget that New York City is the only North American city among the 50 most expensive cities in the world. I’m having trouble finding generalized statistics about this, but my impression is that the cost of living in the US is generally much lower than in most other first-world countries.

  62. Yogion 23 Mar 2009 at 5:16 am

    I want to suggest an article about ninjas, and how not to screw them up. ^_^ Thanks!

  63. B. Macon 23 Mar 2009 at 5:28 am

    Ack! That’s an interesting suggestion, Yogi, but I’m not familiar enough with ninjas to make it happen. I’ve only seen them in TMNT, Naruto, and peripherally in Jackie Chan Adventures and Jake Long. What are some stories that have screwed up ninjas?

  64. Asayaon 23 Mar 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Maybe you could try an article about decompression vs. compression in comic books.
    It would be interesting to see your views on the topic.

  65. Asayaon 23 Mar 2009 at 5:42 pm

    And maybe, how to write consistent personalities.

  66. Ragged Boyon 23 Mar 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I think I can help with consistent character voice.

    1) Giving your character a very distinct personality will help with a consistent character voice. With a distinct personality a character can say things that the other characters won’t. Only an acting obsessed teenager would equate being in a major science experiment with acting in a Broadway production. Only an alien (or a weird kid) would say “Salutations, Earth youth.”

    2) Allow your character to show their personality in whatever conversation they’re in. This helps to implant that character into a readers head. I would remember a character that said “I’m always finding new and exciting ways to blow things up” over one that said “I mess up a lot.”

    3) Give your characters conflicting personalities. Not only does this help differentiate the characters, but it also helps to show the perspective of the character. An opportunistic actor would see the world in terms of publicity, while a shy shut-in would see the world in terms of groups of people around them.

    Hope this helps.

  67. B. Macon 23 Mar 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Decompression is a style where the comic book (or manga) slows down to emphasize character interaction or visuals.

    It’s a style more associated with manga than Western comic books because manga tend to be far longer than comic books. For example, the first volume of Naruto is 192 pages long and sells for around $7. In manga, the art quality tends to be very simple because they can’t afford to sell 192 pages of detailed comic book art at $7. (Designing a Western comic book page takes about $100 in artistic labor costs, and that’s even before you factor in printing costs for each copy).

    I occasionally use elements of decompression in my writing, but far less frequently than a manga writer would. For example, in this scene, panel 7 is an example of decompression.

    I would recommend that Western comic books keep decompression to a minimum.
    1. It’s hard to distinguish from padding.

    2. A US comic book is only around twenty-something pages long and sells for $3 or $4. If your readers feel like very little is happening, they will get surly.

    3. A comic book has two main advantages on a novel: pictures and superior action sequences. As a result, comic books tend to focus more on action than novels do. If you decompress yourself too much, the result will probably feel like a poor man’s novel.

  68. Asayaon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:15 am

    @ Ragged Boy- Thanks! I kinda enjoy designing distinct personalities, for example,
    (Girl Protagonist) is an outspoken teenager that can sometimes jump to incorrect assumptions. This can lead to her pissin’ off a lot of people, though her personality is based around the fact that she feels like no one would listen, and everyone would probably ignore a short 16 yr-old girl.

    @ B.Mac- Thanks, I wouldn’t want to get carried away with that(despite an inclination to use decompression). I’m guessin’ it should be used for dramatic moments.

  69. Gurion Omegaon 25 Mar 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I live on creatin’ distinct persona’s!
    I hate the stereotypical:

    Jonathan- Has a strong sense of justice and is the chosen one destined to save humanity. He has the strongest abilities ever, super-strength, super-vision, super-everything!

    Sally Normalstein- Is a very compassionate, 19-year old kuniochi. She has a crush on Jonathan, but is only liked by Billy.

    Billy- Is rivals with Jonathan. He is a reckless lad who NEVER thinks before he does ANYTHING.

    Jonathan defeats every villain, WITHOUT GETTING BRUISED ONCE!

  70. B. Macon 25 Mar 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Haha, Gurion. I like your take on stereotypical personas. I agree with you that when the character is described as just or moral, the author is probably setting him up as a Mary Sue. Give him some sort of room to fail morally.

  71. Ragged Boyon 25 Mar 2009 at 6:09 pm

    That’s one of the things I hate most about superhero groups. It’s always a pack of stereotypes, all of which vary slightly. The Jock (can be smart), the Hot Chick, The Rebel (usually confronts jock and quits), and The Basket-Case.

    Fanastic Four for example.

    Reed- Jock, but a smart one.

    Sue- Hot Chick

    Johnny- The Rebel

    Ben-The Basket Case, deep down he is.

  72. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Was there anything ever written about the pacing? I am very interested in that suggestion.

    Alas, your Twilight review was very hard for me to read. I am a Twi-hard. :( I’m slightly embarrassed to note that I didn’t even notice how contorted Stephenie’s writing really is. And after reading her next novel, The Host, I have come to see the light. Every character is exactly the same in all five books.

    Don’t get me wrong. I still absolutely adore Twilight. No other book has ever pulled me in so quickly and left me gasping for air when I put it down. If you’re not trying to get something literary out of it, the Twilight saga is an amazing read. But if you are searching for any kind of grandeur where literature is concerned… Twilight is not for you. Steph’s characters are lovable, no matter how flat and cliche they are.

    I warn you. Do not pick up Host.

    Just don’t.

    I’d also like to see something about developing side-characters if you don’t have that already. (If you do, please direct me there.) I know that side-characters generally are pretty flat, but I don’t want any character of mine to seem lifeless. They should all have their own motivations and lives as far as I’m concerned, whether the author focuses on it or not.

  73. Ragged Boyon 25 Mar 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I don’t think side-characters have to be flat. In fact, side characters are the ones that can have traits that your main character can’t, things that make them interesting, if not likeable.

    I want all my side-characters to be interesting. This is easier for me because my main character has such a big personality.

  74. Ragged Boyon 25 Mar 2009 at 6:52 pm

    An undetached Twi-hard, I didn’t think you existed. Ususally Twi-hards will fight to the death to defend every nook and crannie of the book. One Twi-hard got so mad at me she started to bash my work, that she didn’t know anything about. Most Twi-hards I know said they liked the book because it wasn’t descriptive. I don’t know about you but I like description, it gives the book a feel. But like Edwards, I feel nothing, at least when I read Twilight.

  75. Ragged Boyon 25 Mar 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Undetached?! That’s a double-negative. I must be getting sleepy.

  76. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I can’t stand flat side characters. Or ones that feel like they’ve been pulled out of the random character bin. If a character doesn’t fit perfectly in the story, I’d rather they not be there at all…

    I know. I’m a rare breed. I’ll admit, when I first read the review I was crazy angry. I turned off the computer and finished Host. It was at that point that I realized the truth.

    I’m still a fan of the Twilight Saga, just because of the way it made me feel. But I won’t defend its literary value. As an addiction it does perfectly fine, but as a piece of literature it doesn’t really add to the pile.

    I’m a reformed Twi-hard… wow. I never thought I’d say that!

    I’d rather be a fan of something worthwhile.

  77. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:03 pm

    You also spelled usually wrong. ;-)

  78. Marissaon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Actually, The Host was far superior to Twilight in every way, in my personal opinion. The first couple of chapters are a little slow, but the rest… Well, I used to be a Twi-hard, back when it was just book one, and even as a former Twi-hard, The Host was much better.

  79. B. Macon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:38 pm

    For other cliche character types, I’d go with the nerd, the super-serious leader, the goofball/nutjob and the hothead. And that’s just the TMNT! Teen Titans has a fairly similar setup. Robin is the super-serious leader, Beast Boy is definitely a goofball, and Cyborg is kind of a hot-head. Raven is the resident emo, which is a bit rare. Starfire is the stranger/alien (which usually overlaps a lot with goofball). Futurama adds the misanthrope (Bender) and the lovable failure (Fry).

    Sometimes these roles get merged into a single character. For example, I’d say that Reed Richards is definitely the nerd but he’s also the serious leader. Agent Orange is the alien/stranger, but he’s also the leader. (Definitely not the super-serious leader, though). Etc.

  80. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, the Host was excellent! I absolutely loved reading it. But not after Twilight. As a stand alone novel it was great. But it does make me wonder if Stephanie will ever be able to really get out of Twilight mode.

    I enjoyed the story itself and the adventure I got to go on with Wanderer and Melanie.

    It begs the question though, did you read the other three books after Twilight?

    Because Ian seems to be the kind and gentle part of Edward and Jared was Jacob. You can’t deny the similarities of Carlisle the gentle doctor and Doc in Host. Even Wanderer was driving me crazy by the end of the novel. She was soooooo remniscient of Bella! Self-sacrificing, always choosing the comfort of others over what she wanted, confusion over a love triangle. It was like Stephenie recast all of her old characters in the new book. Even some of the issues were the same. You could tell who they were by their eyes. Love Triangle again that works its way into a four-way deal. (Bella’s Renesmee resolves it in the same way Wanderer leaving Melanie’s body does.) And the whole “you’re human, I’m not” debacle…

    And thank you for the edit. Whoever you were, you kind being!

  81. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I don’t feel that I have any cliche characters in my book. I think Tsin, the tiny Chinese man, might be the closest I get.

    If any of you ever notice one, notify me immediately. A ritual sacrifice shall shortly follow.

  82. Marissaon 25 Mar 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I did read all four books, and I disagree entirely with your character comparisons. =/ The characters might be slightly similar, but The Host’s characters are far more developed. It’s been a while since I read it, but… Ian is far too immature for Edward, plus Ian was just as suspicious at first. It wasn’t any sort of love-at-first-sight. Ian’s got a fun streak that Edward never had… And Jared is very much not Jacob. Maybe the memory-Jared from Mel’s memories, but for the most of the story, he’s very judgmental and can’t make up his mind. The fun streak that might be Jacob-esque is totally not there anymore. Carlisle and Doc are pretty similar, that’s true. Wanderer had a reason, though, for being those ‘Bella’ traits. Bella was just a failure at characterization, Wanderer’s entire race had programmed her to be that way.

    Perhaps there are slight similarities, but the characterization is a lot more well-rounded. The love triangle thing is similar, sure, but every author has something they tend toward. This love triangle was better done than Twilight’s, in my opinion.

  83. B. Macon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Yeah, I know that reading a review of a book that you love or hate can be a very visceral experience. Even our book trailer review was too much for Christine Feehan fans. Hah. Even the company that made her trailer weighed in.

    When I reviewed Twilight, my goal was to show how editors think and why they might reject a book that has a lot of promise.

  84. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I’m not knocking Host. Not at all!

    In fact, as much as it hurts to say this, I think that Host should have been her first novel. The Twilight Saga seems like practice.

    I still think my character comparisons were pretty dead on. Bella and Edward didn’t fall in love at first sight. In fact, Edward also wanted to kill Bella first off. The Jared/Jacob thing… Jacob was all happy go lucky at the beginning sure just like the Jared of Melanie’s memories. But the Jacob gets very angsty and angry later in the series. Especially in the last book. That’s what reminds me of Jared the most, not the happy side of Jacob. I kind of forgot about the happy side of Jacob until you mentioned it. Wanderer/Bella, I don’t know. They just seem very Mary Jane-ish (is that the correct term?) to me.

    I feel that it is against my very nature to say this, but Host is definitely the better novel. It was better developed. Each of the characters was well rounded and fit together nicely. I just can’t help but feel it is because Stephenie had already written them before. They worked better in The Host, to be sure.
    However, I didn’t feel quite the same pull with The Host as I did with Twilight. The Twilight Saga sucked me in, made it impossible for me to function until I’d finished the entire series. I read all four books in exactly four days. That’s including going to work and having a life as well. Host took me a week or two, just because it didn’t ensnare me completely. I wish that SM could have pulled that feeling into The Host. It would have then made the perfect novel. Maybe her next will the best.

    I hope you don’t feel that I’m being argumentative. I just finished The Host yesterday and haven’t got the chance to speak with anyone about it. And I definitely haven’t been able to criticize Twilight publicly… my friends might actually slaughter me. lol

  85. Kynnastonon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:48 pm

    B.Mac: I really didn’t think of it like that at all. All rational thought left me when I saw all the things you found “wrong” with Twilight.

    It didn’t even occur me to me that you would be showing how editors could reject something promising based on the few first pages. It’s a good thing one stuck with it.

    Can you say: Rakin’ in the Cash? :P

  86. B. Macon 25 Mar 2009 at 10:53 pm

    The vast majority of manuscripts are rejected before the end of page 1. I’d say that around 50% are rejected before the end of the first paragraph.

    At a top publisher, the publisher’s assistant will send about five manuscripts out of every thousand up to his boss. Of those five, maybe one will be purchased. That’s a 99.9% rejection rate.

    UPDATE: Kris Waldherr says that he passed along 2% of the thousand manuscripts he read. Of those, none were actually acquired.

    That sounds rough, but this is a very cutthroat industry where most of the submissions are not even close to professional-grade. When you submit a manuscript, you’re asking a publisher to bet tens of thousands of dollars on you. The publishing industry is slumping right now, so it has less money to pour into marginal projects that might be good enough to sell.

  87. Marissaon 26 Mar 2009 at 12:24 am

    My finishing words on The Host: Never before and never since has a book made me cry. And along those lines, never before reading the ending and never since have I cried happy tears. Something about everything just… I can’t even think of words to defend it.

    If you’d like to discuss it more, Ky, I’ve got contact info if you click on my name.

    B. Mac, I’ve got a question. I’d like to practice proofreading and editing, and I thought that what you guys did to page 1 of Twilight was pretty useful. Do you have any suggestions for things I could practice on? I’d be doing like you did, picking it apart and whatnot.

  88. B. Macon 26 Mar 2009 at 12:41 am

    Hmm. If you’d like to practice proofreading, there are a few review forums here that need a lot of grammatical/spelling help. I proofread pretty much everything that appears on this website except what an author posts on his review forum, so there are some review forum stories that are still unedited.

    If you’d like to practice editing like what we did with Twilight, I’d recommend looking at a published book. For example, what edits would you have suggested for the first two pages of Eragon? If you don’t have any books you’d like to review close at hand, you could try reviewing the first ~500 words of the Superhero Nation novel. It’s pretty bad, so it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with objections. (Also, I have really thick skin. You don’t have to worry about offending me).

  89. Marissaon 26 Mar 2009 at 12:48 am

    Eragon was what I thought at first, too. One question along those lines: Paolini’s usage of big words. I can’t recall if he did that in the first book, but I tripped over a whole bunch on the first few pages of Brisingr, the third book. My vocabulary isn’t exactly small, either… Would I edit out some of the unnecessarily large words?

    And I’ll be all over Superhero Nation, too, don’t worry. ;D

  90. Davidon 26 Mar 2009 at 1:38 am

    hey i dont mind review away could you use my second review form

  91. B. Macon 26 Mar 2009 at 1:44 am

    Whatever you think is necessary to make it better. An editor for a publisher would have to think about whether the vocabulary was too advanced for the target audience. The worst-case scenario is that the reader concludes that the author doesn’t get the target audience. Rejected!

    However, proofreaders for this website generally do not have to edit down unnecessarily large words.

  92. Yogion 26 Mar 2009 at 3:01 am

    On the topic of Twilight: Anyone get the feeling that Bella is masochistic? She rebuffs anyone who’s nice to her, calling Eric an over helpful geeky chess club person, Mike a dog (golden retriever), and actually gets annoyed at Tyler’s apologies, when he obviously suffered more than her in the accident, and she should be the one apologising. The only guy who looks like he wants to kill her, she falls in love with. And when does she realise she’s in love with Jacob? After he sexually harasses her. -_-

    (and by the way, in case you don’t notice (you will soon enough. :P ) I’m considered the resident over the top anti-twilighter in most places, other than twilight hate sites, where I’m just an ordinary member. :P )

  93. B. Macon 26 Mar 2009 at 3:42 am

    I find it amusing and slightly disturbing that there are Twilight hate sites. ;-)

  94. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Mar 2009 at 4:22 am

    I find it weird that there are hate sites, too, but they make a heap of valid points. I saw the movie, and Bella’s life begins to revolve around Edward the moment they become a couple. Friends of mine who have read the whole series say that a great amount of the books are filler, and the parts that actually advance the plot have Bella as the damsel in distress.

    Edward is a stalker. He watches Bella sleep. If she had any common sense, she’d know to have a stake under her pillow. Then again, sparklypires are a whole different type, so Edward would probably use some weird power to turn it into water.

    Did anyone else notice that Bella runs after the evil vampire on her own, even though she has a squad of superpowered bloodsuckers at her disposal? What. A. Moron. Even fish know that traveling together is safer than struggling to escape a shark on your own. It’s just common sense.

    Edward: “I love the smell of your blood.”

    Bella: “BE MY BOYFRIEND!” (glomps)

  95. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 7:38 am

    I have an actual suggestion for a writing article…

    How to write a query letter?

    OR

    How to find an agent?

  96. Stefan the Exploding Manon 26 Mar 2009 at 7:45 am

    I’m not sure if this has already been mentioned, but I’d enjoy reading a writing article called “How to create plausible motivations for your villains”.

  97. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 9:12 am

    Oh I second that!

  98. B. Macon 26 Mar 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hi, Kymnaston. We’ve written a few articles about both how to write a query letter and how to find an agent. Please check out our Literary Agents category and this article about how to write a novel synopsis.

  99. B. Macon 26 Mar 2009 at 11:06 am

    This is not quite “how to create plausible motivations for your villain,” Stefan, but you might want to check out 3 Traits of Satisfying Villains.

  100. Tomon 26 Mar 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Is there anything about writing successful romance? I don’t think I need help with it that much but it’d be a useful addition. Something like ‘how long should I wait before making Boy and Girl get together?’ or ‘how can I write about couples without sounding cheesy?’ or ‘how can I describe two people falling in love’ or even ‘how necessary is a love story as a sub-plot’.

  101. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Spectacular! I wonder why I couldn’t find them?

    You can call me Kynna by the way.

    Kynnaston is kind of letter-y…

  102. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 1:10 pm

    also… I definitely don’t have any ‘m’ in my name. :)

    Not to be a whiner… but a name is a delicate thing

  103. Kynnastonon 26 Mar 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I also like Tom’s ideas.

  104. Yogion 27 Mar 2009 at 5:41 am

    Read this seven part essay to truly hate that horrible series. :P http://twilightsucks.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=twilight&action=display&thread=638

  105. Yogion 30 Mar 2009 at 5:15 am

    Oh yeah, how about an article about how to do romance? Rowling did a wonderful job with Ron and Hermione, but Harry and Ginny felt incredibly forced…

  106. Yogion 30 Mar 2009 at 5:17 am

    Gah. >..>

  107. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 30 Mar 2009 at 5:46 am

    I agree with the romance thing. I just can’t write it, and it’s going to be a major theme. First there’s Amy-Belle and Isaac (even though he ends the relationship with a slight grudge, I’ve decided that she will actually start to genuinely fall for him) and then later there is Isaac and Kamari, along with Tristram and Atalya.

    I plotted out one little scene to describe how Tristram and Atalya met:

    TRISTRAM: I remember it really clearly. I went into Atalya’s store to buy a bottle of water while I walked home from work.

    ATALYA: He asked me out, and I totally blew him off.

    TRISTRAM: I was going to go back the next day, but I decided I’d better not. It was raining so I started to walk straight home under my umbrella instead of risking a cold.

    ATALYA: But he saw me finishing my shift and walking out of the store.

    TRISTRAM: Seeing how she didn’t have an umbrella, I walked over and offered to share mine.

    ATALYA: He asked me out again…

    TRISTRAM: …and she said yes. I could tell she thought I was an idiot, though.

    ATALYA: I still think you’re an idiot. But you’re my idiot.

    I hope it’s kind of cute. It’s one of those “aww” moments I want to include for the girl readers.

  108. B. Macon 30 Mar 2009 at 5:53 am

    Ack, I’m sorry. Like many men, I’ve always struggled with romantic writing. I’d like to refer you to Blair Hurley, who offers good advice for authors that are interested in working romantic angles into a book that isn’t mainly a romance. I also like some of the books of Meg Cabot and Enchanted and Spiderman Loves Mary Jane, which do romance in a way that is not totally deplorable to anyone with a Y chromosome. Also, I’ve heard of the comic book series Wingman, which is somewhat unusual because it’s a romance with a male protagonist.

    For authors that are interested in writing romance, I’d recommend On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells and The Romance Writer’s Handbook: How to Write Romantic Fiction and Get It Published.

    On an amusing side-note, I sometimes work with non-human characters because I know that an editor will never pressure me to write a romantic sideplot for them. Haha!

  109. Stefan the Exploding Manon 30 Mar 2009 at 5:58 am

    Ack, romance. I don’t know how to write it, and I’m not particularly interested in working it into any of my work. Will my characters come across as emotionless or two-dimensional if they happen to not develop feelings for each other throughout an entire book?

  110. B. Macon 30 Mar 2009 at 6:05 am

    I don’t think it’ll be a problem, particularly if you’re writing for males and/or young readers. Just to name one extremely visible example, Harry Potter went something like 3 novels without even a hint of romance and even then it was a very minor aspect of the later books. I can’t think of any Tom Clancy-esque books that have dealt with romance. Most action stories either ignore romance entirely or deal with it in a James Bond kind of way. Few readers will complain if a comedy ignores romance entirely.

    Superhero stories tend to gloss over romance. One of my running jokes is that superheroes have such awful relationships with women. See Batman, Wolverine, Daredevil, Ironman, etc. Spiderman and Superman are the main exceptions, and even then there’s sometimes a tendency to treat MJ and Lois Lane as damsels in distress rather than genuine characters in their own right. That’s one of the reasons that Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is my single favorite entry in the Superman saga.

  111. B. Macon 30 Mar 2009 at 6:31 am

    I’m pretty deep into an article on pacing right now. Thanks to everyone that’s brought it up.

  112. Ragged Boyon 30 Mar 2009 at 7:17 am

    Ah, romance. I’ve never written any in particular, but I did write a poem in class that seems to redefine me to the girls in my class, in a good way. I plan to have some romance in all of my story (Showtime and Lace, love triangle in Sketch). I guess I should try and practice my romantic writing. My concept of romance now is a bit…embarassing. It usually features passive guys being swept off their feet by women. I know, horribly lame, most girls I know wouldn’t even think of coming onto a guy, they think it’s trashy.

    I’ve personally never had any romantic success, which is probably why I don’t know how men attract women. I’ve had rejection, so I know how that works, though. Haha.

  113. Yogion 01 Apr 2009 at 6:14 am

    Oh god, Enchanted, I love that movie. I never fail to crack up at it. :P

  114. B. Macon 01 Apr 2009 at 11:16 am

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I enjoyed the novel greatly.

  115. Tomon 01 Apr 2009 at 11:45 am

    Enchanted was funny because it was Disney making fun of themselves. It’s like how DC produced Watchmen, which criticised the superhero genre as much as it added to it. It’s also kinda like if JRR Tolkein wrote a book that was a spoof of the fantasy genre, or if George Lucas was the writer of Spaceballs.

    As for romance, I don’t need help writing it, I just thought it would be a good article to have. I love how everyone just assumed that in my story Sam and Helen end up together eventually, I never actually said that, you just assumed it. I’ll say no more on it than that…

  116. B. Macon 01 Apr 2009 at 11:59 am

    Hmm. I think the script suggests that Sam and Helen are already a couple. In particular…

    1) The bully explicitly says that they are. If this is misinformation, it’s likely to confuse a reader.

    2) Sam blushes when he says that they are not. This gives him a plausible motive for lying (that he’s embarrassed).

    3) Helen waits for him in the morning and is with him pretty much all the time. When the bully says that they are dating, I’d expect that most of the viewers will assume that the bully is being more honest than Sam is.

    4) Although their relationship does not include anything romantic, that’s pretty par for the course for a cartoon romance.

  117. Tomon 01 Apr 2009 at 12:03 pm

    ?! It does? Oh, that needs changing then. What about it says it? I thought the ‘we’re just friends’ thing was good enough to state that they’re just friends.

    *goes to completely rethink Sam-Helen interactions*

  118. B. Macon 01 Apr 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve expanded my original comment above.

  119. Tomon 01 Apr 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Hmm… I think I’ll just remove the misinformation bit. I have other ways to imply that Sam wants to be more than just friends…

    Wow, thanks for spotting that!

  120. B. Macon 03 Apr 2009 at 10:16 am

    I know there have been a few people asking about pacing. I just posted an article about how to pace action scenes. What do you think?

  121. ikarus619xon 17 Apr 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Maybe some advice on merchandising? Or some forms of money making besides your comic/book.

  122. Davidon 17 Apr 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Going back to B. Mac’s article on pacing action scenes… what would you think about writing an article on effective drama scenes or emotional scenes or such?

  123. B. Macon 17 Apr 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Hello, Ikarus.

    We covered a few ideas on how to monetize a blog here. For example, you can sell ads. You can sell services, like freelance editing, proofreading and/or copywriting. You can add a link for donations. Based on my experience, that won’t generate much revenue, but it costs you little to try.

    You can try selling products. A writer’s main product is his books and/or comic books. However, if a lot of people love your stories, you might be able to do decent business selling t-shirts and hats and the like. There are two main problems with merchandising, though. 1) It actually needs to look good, which probably means that you will have to invest money in artistic design. 2) Merchandise will not generate new fans; it only makes money from fans you already have. So you have to get fans before merchandise will do anything. In contrast, a book generates money and fans.

    You can try using your writing to get you a salaried job. For example, let’s say you’re interested in a job as a publisher’s assistant for a novel publisher or an assistant editor for a comic book publisher. You can use your writing experience as a sign that you’re serious about publishing and that you know a lot about good writing. The job will only generate a bit of money (probably less than $30,000 a year), but more importantly it will give you experience, credibility, and opportunities to network with the people that decide what gets published. (Note: paying jobs with publishers pretty much require a college degree).

  124. ikarus619xon 17 Apr 2009 at 7:01 pm

    I see.

  125. Alice2on 09 May 2009 at 10:22 am

    Do you think you could do a post on how to handle two plots at once? I think I’m doing it right, but I also thought I was doing it right when my stories were basically “then brok an nerse joy get marryd lol!”

  126. Ragged Boyon 09 May 2009 at 2:23 pm

    You know what I think would go well in your book and help a lot of us here. An article on understanding grammar. I hate to sound dumb, but I never fully understood the applications of grammar. I’m sure you’re familiar with me and the comma situation.

  127. B. Macon 09 May 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I kind of have to punt on grammar… I think that other sources, such as Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, provide grammar advice and exercises that are much better than what I could do.

    This is one of the advantages in specializing in an empty niche like how to write superhero stories. It’s much less likely that your site will compete with a website that does the same thing but better. In contrast, if you write in a niche like superhero comedy, you’ll face stiff competition from several websites that are really good.

  128. Marissaon 19 May 2009 at 5:42 pm

    It’s… unique? xD

  129. B. Macon 19 May 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Hmm… banana slugs. I’ve heard about them because they’re the mascot for UC Santa Cruz. I was thinking about using them for one of Agent Orange’s enemy of the week skits, but I kind of prefer to use some animal that’s been in the news.

    From what I understand, though, banana slugs aren’t too adorable. On the Cuteness Scale, I think they are easily beaten by baby alligators or puppies.

  130. Marissaon 19 May 2009 at 8:47 pm

    Oh my gosh. B. Mac, that baby alligator picture nearly killed me with its cuteness. =|

  131. B. Macon 19 May 2009 at 8:57 pm

    They get a lot less cute when they’re a year old, though. That’s when the bites get painful.

  132. Banana Slugon 20 May 2009 at 6:36 am

    From what I understand, though, banana slugs aren’t too adorable.
    Yeah, that was my point. :P They’re kind of cool, but they’re only cute on cartoons.

  133. Banana Slugon 20 May 2009 at 6:38 am

    Not as much as the baby alligator, of course.

  134. Danielon 20 May 2009 at 7:33 am

    Sniper kitty shoots your baby alligator with a bullet made of pure awesome.

  135. B. Macon 20 May 2009 at 7:39 am

    I don’t think alligators are ever adorable in the cartoons. Everyone knows that reptiles are abhorrent, with the possible exception of turtles. Agent Orange speculates that this is because “mammals do not feel threatened by turtles, those slow and useless creatures.”

  136. B. Macon 20 May 2009 at 11:46 am

    Hmm, I like that. Here are some initial thoughts.

    1. Magical heroes typically don’t mix well with sci-fi. If you’d like to include magic, I recommend making it a top-to-down magical story (like Jake Long or Sailor Moon) or perhaps a story where there are a few magical elements that interact with the real world, but generally not with advanced technology (like Kim Possible or the Indiana Jones movies before the most recent one).

    2. Don’t give the hero a dayjob as a magician. It’s totally overdone.

    3. I’d recommend giving the hero a few general spells rather than a slew of hyper-specialized ones. As with gadgets, a hero impresses readers with how he applies the spells/gadgets he has, NOT whether he has a spell/gadget that is specifically designed for the situation at hand.

    4. As with any other power, I’d recommend against using magic to allow for resurrection, time-travel, immortality, mind-reading and lie-detection, etc.

    5. Generally, I’d recommend making sure that magic has to stay hidden. It’ll help the world feel more realistic and presents a dramatic obstacle that will limit the hero’s powers.

    6. I’d recommend keeping the action of the story on Earth, rather than in extradimensional planes or hell or heaven or the Otherworld or whatever else you can think of. It’s generally more relatable and people will care more about what’s at stake. (This is more of a problem for magical fantasy than for space opera sci-fi, but space operas also suffer from this to some extent).

    7. If you’d like to market it as a superhero story, I’d highly recommend setting it on Earth rather than a fictional world (like LOTR).

  137. Mia.xoxoon 20 May 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I probably sound like a broken record, but do you mind writing an article about settings or worlds one places their characters in. What works, what doesn’t, etc.

  138. B. Macon 20 May 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Daniel said: “I have a feeling that you’ve never, *ever* read a properly decent urban fantasy or high fantasy novel.”

    I think this is another one of those instances where someone without Asperger’s would probably have phrased this differently. If you disagree with someone’s advice, there’s usually a way to express your disagreement without accusing them of ignorance and/or gross incompetence.

    I hope you get published, but I don’t think there’s anything I can say that can help you.

    Good luck and best wishes. Goodbye, Daniel.

  139. B. Macon 20 May 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Hi, Mia. Did you have a particular kind of story in mind? (Futuristic sci-fi, medieval fantasy, modern superhero, etc)?

  140. Mia.xoxoon 23 May 2009 at 12:39 am

    Well how about dystopian futures? It seems to be such a popular sort of setting. There’s either reverting back to a non-technology based society or moving to a completely based technology society. I suppose for most superhero novels technology would play a giant role, so what are some tips to effectively write about a technologically advanced society?

    Specifically I’m having trouble writing about governments and how they influence the setting of the advanced society. It seems really difficult to come up with something fresh, yet feasible.

  141. Tomon 23 May 2009 at 1:53 am

    Obviously I’d recommend works like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to look at how authors have done dystopias in the past. But a few things to consider with dystopia and the works I just mentioned.

    1. People usually write dystopian novels to make a commentary on society today. Orwell originally intended for the novel to be called 1948, since that was the year he published, to make the point that this could happen to his society. Dystopias are a way of commenting on society.

    2. Dystopias are usually are at the forefront of the plot (e.g. 1984 is about the character’s struggle to resist the Party). It’ll be difficult for a dystopia to take a back seat in terms of plot and allow other plots to happen.

    Unless, of course, it is your main plot and you do want to make some social commentary.

  142. Tomon 23 May 2009 at 1:57 am

    Oh, a third thing, 1984 and Brave New World were written quite some time ago. But ironically, their messages are more applicable than they were before. With CCTV, DNA evidence and fingerprint technology it’s even easier for a government to watch us every waking moment, in 1984 he had to invent the fictitious ‘telescreen’, which was a two-way television. Of course today that’s firmly in the realm of science fact.

    In Brave New World, the government alters people in the foetal stage to be fit for a certain job, BNW was made before the discovery of DNA in 1953. Imagine how much easier it would be today to do that by altering the genetic make-up of the embryo.

    What I’m trying to say is, you can basically do a 1984 style future, but more hi-tech, with incredibly zany ways the Party observes everyone. You can have CCTV that checks itself for unusual activities, meaning nothing escapes the Party’s gaze, or mind-reading technology, so no dissident is safe. Or brainwashing technology to replace Room 101.

    Basically, you can have a lot of fun with this!

  143. Holliequon 23 May 2009 at 7:20 am

    My mum mentioned one of the reverting dystopias once, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called.

    Anyway, the gist was that after a huge nuclear blast, the world had reverted to sort-of medieval technology and religious fanaticism, with a little bit of a twist. “Beware thou the mutant.” The radiation mutates people in different ways, some visible (the leader of the outcast mutants in the forest has 6 working arms) and some not (the main characters all have a telepathic link to one another).

    That was the basic setting. You could definitely toss in some superheroes into that mix.

  144. Mia.xoxoon 23 May 2009 at 11:05 pm

    What Holliequ is talking about sounds like the Chysilids… but I’m not exactly sure. So if there’s a possibility that a dystopia may take over the plot is it best avoided?
    I know V for Vendetta (the comic) did a good job of incorporating a mask and a dictator. When can you tell that your setting is taking over your plot?

  145. Ragged Boyon 29 May 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Here’s a subject I don’t think you’ve made an article about, but should definitely be in the book. I’ll say it in titular form:

    Avoiding Cliche Settings and Creating Better Alternative Ones

    For example, when many writers hear “NYC is a terribly cliche setting” they panic and think “where will I set my story now?” I think you should definitely address this if your going to write about superheroes.

  146. Ragged Boyon 30 May 2009 at 6:40 am

    See above.

  147. B. Macon 30 May 2009 at 7:20 am

    Hmm. I’m trying to think about how I could package that in a way that it could appeal to readers that didn’t use NYC.

    1. Give your city some defining traits. For example, Gotham is scary and corrupt. Its creepy Gothic architecture and filthiness and sinister lighting help reinforce that. Its most recognizable building is a Lovecraftian asylum. Metropolis usually looks more cheerful and epic. Its most iconic building is the Daily Planet, which is clean and stylish. One of the problems with using a real city is that the author may skimp on giving the city a style because he’s counting on the city’s reputation to do that for him. That’s lazy and not particularly effective.

    2. There are many ways to create a mood visually. Please consider lighting, architecture, greenery, cars, cleanness, dress and bystanders.

    3. If you use a media organization prominently, please give it some defining traits, too. For example, the Daily Planet is competent and professional, the Daily Bugle is comically unfair, the New York Times is pretentious and has a very inflated sense of self, etc. (For legal reasons, I recommend staying away from real ones, though).

  148. Ragged Boyon 30 May 2009 at 8:12 am

    I think most writers would like to use real cities, but don’t know enough about them and don’t want to have to study them. I think learning the geography is the most daunting element of using a real city. For example, I would have loved to set Showtime is Los Angeles, but I’m being far to lazy to research. Also I don’t know what would be important about the city that I should include.

  149. Mia.xoxoon 30 May 2009 at 10:31 am

    I’m not sure if any of you have ever been to this site, but what are your opinions on this approach of creating setting?

    http://www.elfwood.com/farp/thewriting/liljenbergworlds/liljenbergworlds.html

    I would also like to hear your opinions on these article regarding government.

    http://www.elfwood.com/farp/thewriting/crissygottgov/crissygottgov.html
    http://www.elfwood.com/farp/thewriting/crissygottgov/crissygottgov2.html

    These two parts of writing are probably the most confusing to me.

  150. notsohottopicon 30 May 2009 at 10:50 am

    B. Mac, do you have any articles on how to write a love interest character?

  151. B. Macon 30 May 2009 at 11:52 am

    I’m pretty bad at romance. I do have a brief one here, though.

  152. Contra Gloveon 30 May 2009 at 12:14 pm

    You have a section for writing male characters.

    What about writing female characters?

    Oh, and I’m also one of those people who would like to avoid using New York City as much as humanly possible. :)

  153. notsohottopicon 30 May 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Hm, thanks anyway. Lois and Clark, really? Their relationship didn’t appeal to me after reading a few old issues of the Lois spinoff series. One week she gets turned into a centaur, and in another she cyrogenically forze herself since Superman won’t propose to her. It’s one of those ‘why are they still together?’ kind of relationships.

  154. B. Macon 30 May 2009 at 2:51 pm

    I’d recommend looking at the TV show (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) rather than any of the comics. Comics are generally an action-centric medium… I don’t think that is very conducive to strong relationships, particularly romantic ones.

  155. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Jun 2009 at 5:13 am

    I’d like to read an article about how to take stale character concepts (Jerk Jock, the Libby etc) and make them fresh. I had another idea recently (not developed enough for a proper mention, as my characters aren’t set in stone yet) where I swapped around some stereotypes to get something newer but still recognisable.

  156. Contra Gloveon 11 Jun 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Once again, I suggest a guide to writing female characters.

  157. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Jun 2009 at 7:04 pm

    I don’t usually find it hard to write female characters – likely because I am one – but there is something I follow to write male characters that may help. TAR:

    Thoughts – how would a (fe)male character think about this?

    For example, let’s use a kitten.

    Female: “Aw! That’s so cute!”

    Male: “That’s cute.”

    Girls are more likely to emphasise with additional words, in this case “aw” and “so”.

    Actions – how would a (fe)male character go about doing something?

    For example, getting a date.

    Female: Will probably try to get attention first by dressing up around the guy and hope that he asks her out first. If that fails, she will probably ask him out.

    Male: Is more likely to use a direct approach, but the shy guys will probably wait until she shows a sure sign that she likes him.

    Reactions – how will a (fe)male character react to this situation?

    For example, a person has been stalking them and now comes at them with a knife.

    Female: When threatened, will probably use insults and threats. “You’re crazy! I’ll tell everyone and you’ll lose your job forever!” If it gets physical, expect pinching, slapping and shoving or the occasional punch.

    Male: May sometimes threaten or insult, but is more likely to physically fight while looking for a way out of the situation.

    Note that these are not typical behaviours of either gender, but they are based on what I’ve seen at school and out in society, so they have some merit. Plus, I’m a girl, so the female viewpoints are largely based on what I would do or think. (Except the dating one, I wouldn’t do anything at all) :P

  158. B. Macon 12 Jun 2009 at 9:38 am

    Sorry, I haven’t gotten any more female in the interim. :) I’m not confident that I could do an article on female characters well, but I’d be willing to post an article by one of our guests on it.

  159. Davidon 23 Jun 2009 at 7:16 am

    i have a suggestion “how to do traveling in a novel” i mean do we just say our chraters get from A to B or could we detail the journey

    my chapters are each in a diffrent locastion

    Chapter 1 was in the Castle
    Chapter 2 was int the forest
    Chapter 3 was outside th forest in the countryside
    chapter 4 will be in Port town
    Chapter 5 will be on the Ship
    Chapter 6 will be at the Land of the dead
    now after that do i detail another boat trip or just say they arrived back at Port?

  160. B. Macon 23 Jun 2009 at 7:27 am

    That sounds like an interesting idea, David. I will get working on that as soon as possible.

  161. Davidon 23 Jun 2009 at 9:02 am

    smashing :)

  162. Marissaon 25 Jun 2009 at 3:00 am

    A few suggestions off the top of my head, David.

    – Your story is fantasy, but if it’s based on the real world in present day, don’t send them anywhere you haven’t been. That’s as a general rule, there are some exceptions. I’m sure enough research would let you scrape by, but only if it’s a place that’s rather famous, like Paris. I’m sure a half billion people would be willing to tell you about Paris, show you pictures, etc.

    Better safe than sorry, though. I hate using Twilight as an example, but: Even Stephenie Meyer got chewed on for not visiting Forks first. No matter how small Forks is, there are people who live there, live near there, have been there, or visit there after the book’s out. Speaking as someone who lives in Port Angeles (the neighboring town), Stephenie Meyer may as well have made up her own town, with how different it was from the real thing. It’s really jarring for a reader to visualize a place thanks to the author’s representation, then be there and have it be so different.

    – Even if your locations are made up, do your research.

    For example, if they’re traveling through the desert, keep in mind that sand gets everywhere and in everything. Black clothing attracts heat, white clothing reflects it. Panting, crying, sweating, spitting, vomiting, and urinating are all losses of moisture (so the Generic Whiny Child or Teen should get slapped around for a hissy fit in the desert). They will not want to be out in the sun at noonish. And that whole ‘stumbling onto an oasis’ thing? Not going to happen. Head covering is necessary to keep sweat out of the eyes. Meanwhile, at night, it’s insanely cold, so they’d need blankets, firewood, etc. Therefore, someone has to carry it.

    At least that much thought should go into every setting your character travels through.

    – Like with eating or getting dressed, never write traveling just for the sake of traveling. It’s guaranteed to be boring. If the only goal is to get the character from Point A to Point B, skip it.

    Or better yet, give it a goal. Write a conversation that develops the characters’ relationships (not idle chitchat), or have something go wrong along the way. Perhaps they’re traveling to Camelot but that road is blocked, so they have to detour through the Hyrule Market Town to get there, and an enemy is in Hyrule Market Town. Or if they’re on a deadline to get to Camelot, any detour at all would be ‘something going wrong’ in itself.

    – Make sure all time frames are realistic. They shouldn’t cross the desert in a day but take a week to travel between two neighbor cities. Along those lines, even if your time frames are fine, make sure your reader doesn’t feel like they’re unrealistic. They’ll feel this way if you mention crossing the desert in about a paragraph’s worth, but detail every little piece of the journey between the two neighboring cities.

    ————

    That’s all I can think of at current.

  163. Yogion 04 Jul 2009 at 11:13 am

    I would like to suggest an article on how to allow characters to deal with death, without them coming off as too unemotional or stoic, or coming off as too whiny and boring the readers. In my story, right after Belinda’s dad dies, she’s plunged into a chase scene, but how do I make her reaction realistic?

  164. Luna Jamniaon 07 Sep 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Romance …

    I have no idea how to write romance. I’ve some of it in my books, but it’s not like the point of the whole book and I’m writing something that really seems it wouldn’t work as an adventure/action book. Maybe I could put some in there, but it’d work better as a romance and I have no idea how to write that. And even though I did look at some online advice things for that … well, it’d be nice if there was an article on here ’bout that. ^-^

    Because you all put it in terms I get and shtuff.
    And also … how the heck would the government really react to aliens? I’ve no idea. I remember looking it up a while ago, but I didn’t find out anything. It’d be cool if there was an actual federal website dedicated to that or something.

  165. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 07 Sep 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Most of what I know about romance is from reading rom com manga like Love*Com or High School Debut. Haha. But that can be difficult to do with the written word. In High School Debut, you can see how Haruna’s eyes go all sparkly etc in the pictures. The mangaka doesn’t have to describe it because we can see it.

    I did do an article on how to avoid a few pitfalls of romance writing, but I think another is in need.

    http://www.superheronation.com/2009/07/18/how-to-avoid-common-pitfalls-of-romance/

  166. Luna Jamniaon 07 Sep 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Thanks, Whovian.

  167. B. Macon 09 Sep 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Bearing in mind that I’m speaking in a private capacity and not on behalf of any agency… I suspect that governments (particularly powerful ones) would be somewhat suspicious of aliens. When cultures of grossly different military might met each other on Earth, the result tended to be the subjugation or elimination of the group with weaker forces. Not that aliens would necessarily try to go Spanish on us, but it’d pay to be cautious before we were absolutely sure that they were peaceful.

    Alternately, we might not even want peaceful contact with them. Passing on technologies too quickly can cause enormous upheaval and simply make your problems worse. Instead of just fighting with spears or assault rifles, now you’ve got laser beams. Eww. And that’s just the military technology– arguably the peaceful stuff would cause even greater instability. (Like a sentient factory that would render the entire manufacturing sector obsolete– I hope you weren’t counting on your union pension!).

  168. Asayaon 27 Oct 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Oh, I have a suggestion for an article. How can you make elemental superpowers fresh and interesting? That’s one I’ve been trying figure out since I’ve had an idea for some characters with elemental abilities, but I’m trying hard not to make them generic.

  169. B. Macon 27 Oct 2009 at 2:15 pm

    You could give the character an unusual side-power or talent. Maybe instead of just a straight pyro character, she’s mainly a melee character with fire on the side. Alternately, maybe the character has an unusual parameter (like a really limited duration, or a secrecy/Masquerade issue that discourages her from using a power that would probably attract the attention of the regular authorities and/or Muggles. (For example, if the character is a magical hero in a world where people can’t be allowed to know that magic exists, relying on the elemental ability only in extreme situations would help keep the secret safe). Or (s)he’s reluctant to use the power in a common situation (such as endangering civilians).

    However, I should probably stress that the character will feel fresh or stale based on personality, voice and style much more so than powers.

  170. Wingson 28 Oct 2009 at 10:03 am

    What about something on how to basically select powers for characters and use them in creative ways? Like, a cliche thing is to give them a power that fits their personality (Hello, hotheaded pyros and save-the-rainforest plant manipulators…). It could also cover making the characters about equal power-strength wise (I actually kinda fell into this one in HTSTW since Darren’s relatively weak telekinesis is pretty lousy compared to everyone else’s powers, but then again he gets a major upgrade in TAWNBT…).

    An article about how to use tried-and-true powers creatively would also be nice, like something about how to avoid Eigen Plots.

    Wow, I have more suggestions than I thought…

    - Wings

  171. Asayaon 20 Nov 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Ah, thanks for the advice. I haven’t had internet access for a long time, I ment to follow up on my comment.

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