Mar 19 2009

Wings’ Second Review Forum

Published by at 10:36 pm under Review Forums

A mysterious mercenary working for heroes and villains with a grudge against both, an uptight heroine with a clean-cut worldview, a useless engagement ring, and photokinesis, her leaderless superhero team, and a supervillain mastermind systematically slaughtering heroes. This is a destruction of superheroes and the world in which they live, from child sidekicks to flamboyant costumes, blended with a dash of darkness and a good helping of sarcasm. Other works discussed in this forum include Hunter’s Abomination, about a so-called utopia and the men and monsters who call it home; Twisted Fantasy, a blend of video game homage, RPG cliche deconstruction, and a fantastic quest; and Strawberries and the Meaning of Life, a postapocalyptic love story about a hot-tempered boy searching for something he doesn’t understand, a hermit with a taste for riddles and impossible fruit, and a lonely girl from a city which has never touched the ground.

214 responses so far

214 Responses to “Wings’ Second Review Forum”

  1. Wingson 30 Mar 2009 at 8:45 am

    Okay. This new story is completely different from what I’ve worked on before. I had a great idea the other day and want to use it.

    The Title: Ai (chosen for many reasons: Reason 1 – Ai can be read as the letters AI, standing for Artificial Intelligence, Reason 2 – Ai itself is the name of the main character, Reason 3 – Ai is also a Japanese word meaning Love, or something close to it *coughROMANCEcough*)

    Plot, Setting, and All That Other Fun Stuff: It’s set in a futuristic world where computers, robots, and other electronics take care of nearly everything (an ideal world to most people). The main character is an artificial intelligence created by a hacker in order to be the ultimate computer virus. After all, a self-aware, intelligent virus could eventually break through most firewalls.

    Main Character: Ai

    Ai is the artificial intelligence. (as for Ai being female, haven’t you noticed that whenever one of those annoying popup ads appears, a female voice will announce its presence most of the time?) She’s had most of the contents of the Word Wide Web downloaded into her mind giving her superintelligence, but she’s completely ignorant of anything in the non-cyber world. She’s also designed to have super resourcefulness, to enable her to find a way through most firewalls and security measures.

    What do you think? Like it? Hate it? ROFLing because it’s so stupid?

    - (Kentucky Fried) Chicken Wings

  2. Stefan the Exploding Manon 30 Mar 2009 at 9:50 am

    Ai can be read as the Chinese word for love as well, just so you know. ;D

  3. Wingson 30 Mar 2009 at 9:58 am

    Good to know.

    - Wings

  4. Ragged Boyon 30 Mar 2009 at 10:51 am

    I like that Ai is ignorant to the non-cyber world. That gives you alot of space for developing her and your setting.

  5. Holliequon 30 Mar 2009 at 10:56 am

    Yeah, I think that will be very interesting. You can’t learn how people work from online self-help guides.

  6. B. Macon 30 Mar 2009 at 11:12 am

    But you can learn how to write superhero stories from online self-help guides. Fact!

  7. B. Macon 30 Mar 2009 at 11:16 am

    I have a few questions about Ai’s origins. Who made her and why?

    What’s the plot like?

  8. Wingson 30 Mar 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Ai was created by a master hacker to become the ultimate virus. That is, she was created to break through anti virus software and firewalls, therefore, she is self-aware. Although she’s constantly told that she was created as a codebreaker, she still feels that she can do more than that.

    Since this is an ideal future, everything is controlled by computers. Therefore, computer viruses have become a lot more powerful since they can reprogram numerous things.

    Ai has emotions, or at least a semblance of emotions. She can’t die in the way we think of as dying, but she can be deleted, copied, and reprogrammed, because although she is hyper advanced, she’s still just a computer file. Seriously, people are thinking about making robots that can recognize emotions and grafting wings onto humans (a la Maximum Ride) in the future. Who knows, someday artificial intelligences similar to Ai may be created.

    As the story is in Ai’s POV, a good-sized amount is devoted to Ai’s perspective of the world via the Net. She’s mainly unknown to the world until another hacker discovers her (his name undecided). Then, the story changes to Ai learning more about humans themselves and reality. She ends up falling in love (which is going to be difficult but fun to write) with the hacker who discovered her, and vice versa on his behalf.

    In short this story is a view on humanity as a whole, with a dash of philosophy if you squint.

    Well? How is it?

    - (Buffalo) Chicken Wings

  9. Wingson 01 Apr 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Hey! Making sure this isn’t forgotten!

    - Wings

  10. Fitzon 01 Apr 2009 at 6:24 pm

    I think it looks good, but I’m just curious about something. How are you going to put it in Ai’s POV when she’s traveling through the internet and getting past firewalls and that sort of stuff, since there’s nothing really physical happening? Or are you going to to make it some kind of physical thing, like a firewall literally being a wall of fire that she has to get around or something like that?

  11. Holliequon 02 Apr 2009 at 9:04 am

    I read something very similar to that! The premise and story were very different, but basically there was a character fused with his computer. When he hacked and stored his memories on the net and things like that, he made it sound like he was travelling in his head. Also, he was once nearly killed by a computer virus.

  12. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 9:49 am

    @ Fitz – Yes. I’m trying to bring new dimension to the cyber world. For instance, a firewall to her (because of all the differet types of virus-proof software) could look like a heavy steel door, a door charged with electricity, or, like you said, a wall of fire.

    @ Holliequ – Really? The works I’ve been inspired by were the manga series Chobits (about humanoid computers) and the little-known kid’s book Virtually Perfect. Check it out!

  13. Holliequon 02 Apr 2009 at 11:46 am

    Oh yeah. This book was called Hybrids, although I don’t recall the author’s name. The premise was much different, though – a disease that caused people to fuse with technology. (No AI in sight, I’m afraid.)

  14. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Yeah, I’m still working on images for Ai and the hacker.

    Ai: I’m thinking white or silver hair. Not seeing much else… Ai’s outward image is an 17-18 year old.

    (name needed for the hacker Ai falls in love with): For some weird reason, I’m getting an image of scruffy, slightly overlong brown hair. The character’s about 18-19, so ya know.

    - Wings The Image Creator

  15. Ragged Boyon 02 Apr 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I thought dark red hair when I thought of Ai, something that would stand out in a white background. But maybe that was because red is my favorite hair color on girls. I think white or silver hair is a little obvious.

  16. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Thing is, this is another novel, not a comic book. Sorry….

    The color needs to be something unreal, something not found in nature.

    - Wings

  17. Ragged Boyon 02 Apr 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I figured it wasn’t a comic.

    I think blood red is pretty unnatural, but it’s up to you.

  18. Wingson 02 Apr 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t know. To me, blood red suggests a darker, more violent personality. (I blame you, Scarlet) :-)

    New plot point: In the end, when the master hacker (name please) finds out that Ai betrayed him, he seeks to destroy her and he love interest to erase all proof that a self-aware virus exists. He then creates a second, more powerful AI, named Ven.

    Ven’s a guy, but even so he should look like the polar opposite of Ai. He exists only to obey, though it’s unsure if he, like Ai, develops a soul.

    - Wings

  19. Holliequon 04 Apr 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Hmm. Is this master hacker the antagonist?

    For some reason I’m thinking of something a little old-fashioned. What do you think of Jonathon, Kieran or Russell?

  20. Wingson 04 Apr 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Yes, the master hacker’s the antagonist.

    I rater like Russ as a name, but this is a duturistic world, so it might be a little like naming a kid something like “Augustine” today. (True story, I know a guy named Augustine.)

    I’ve been designing Ai’s “default” costume, using a silver basis. Actually, I might go with Ragged Boy’s hair color choice (red) or something in the violet family. Maybe I’ll join Deviantart, though I must warn you I’m not very good and my art is only to be used as a concept.

    - Wings

  21. Ragged Boyon 05 Apr 2009 at 6:59 am

    Dark and violent!? You hurt my feelings, Wings. ;-)

    As for the style, I was thinking something edgy, short, and asymmetrical, as opposed to long bland hair.

  22. Wingson 05 Apr 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Yeah same here for the hair style, RB. I have all too many longhaired heroines….

    - Wings

  23. Wingson 06 Apr 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Sorry. I’ve been offline for a while.

    Anyway, here are the characters so far.

    Ai (AI 1)

    Ai is the main character. An artificial intelligence created to be the ultimate virus, her job is to bypass firewalls and other security measures to infiltrate computers and steal information for her creator, a master hacker. As a self-aware and highly powerful virus, she needs to remain a secret.

    Her default costume is silver armor in a crisscross pattern over a bodysuit, however, she can change the way she looks. She’s very resourceful and intelligent, but at the same time has no idea how reality and the real world work.

    For the computer-savvy, Ai is considered as a mixture of a Worm virus and a Trojan Horse virus. A Worm virus can bypass security, then (Ai cannot do this) duplicate itself and transfer itself to other computers connected with the infiltrated one. A Trojan Horse is a virus disguised as something good (CONGRAGULATIONS! YOU ARE THE 9,999th VISITOR! CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR FREE (insert pricey item here)!). They can also be mistakenly set in the form of email attachments.

    (The Temporarily Named) Russ

    Russ is the hacker who finds out about Ai’s existence. As one of the few humans who doesn’t depend on technology for everything, it is completely by chance that he finds an AI wandering around the Net.

    Russ teaches Ai about humanity and other aspects of the real world and is sometimes surprised by what she doesn’t know (At one point, she asks him what the purpose of food is). Eventually, (to both of their surprises) they end up falling in love with each other.

    The only planned thing for Russ’s look is shaggy brown-black hair. Give suggestions please.

    (The Unnamed as of yet) Master Hacker

    The Master Hacker was the creator of Ai (AI 1) and later Ven (AI 2). His motives for creating the AIs are unknown, although they are very valuable to him (at least until a better copy can be created, like when he threatens to delete Ai if she does not obey him after Ven’s existence is revealed).

    He is a violent and ruthless person, as shown when he plans to kill Russ, destroy his hard drive, and threatens to delete Ai because he does not want the secret of the self aware viruses known.

    Ven (AI 2)

    Ven was created to theoretically replace Ai. A stronger, better virus (at least in the Master Hacker’s opinion), he has little to no will of his own. His only purpose is to obey. (However, this becomes a major disadvantage because, unlike him, Ai can process information and make decisions noticeably faster.)

    Not much else is known about Ven. His default costume is planned to be bronze or dark gray armor.

    ———–

    Well?

    - Wings

  24. Holliequon 06 Apr 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Hmm. I’m not feeling Russ. What do you this about Ross?

    Not sure for the hacker . . . depending on when this story is set, you might want to check a popular baby names list from 2008 or something.

    Anything on personality for Russ and the hacker? What about the hacker’s motives?

  25. Wingson 06 Apr 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Russ is just a temporary name. He’s scatterbrained but good-hearted. He’s a quiet guy who doesn’t appear to have too many close friends. Russ is a little naive (but not as naive as Ian is).

    This story’s time is tricky, simply because of the direction the world’s taking now. However, I guess that it is at least 150 years into the future, due to the fact that AIs have been created.

    The hacker is a relatively old character (late 40s). He desires complete obedience from everything he owns, and relishes control. I require assistance for his motives.

    - Wings

  26. Holliequon 06 Apr 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Hmm . . .

    He’s getting revenge against an old company (slightly cliche, I know) for firing him by stealing money from the system/generally screwing around with them. Russ works for the company.

    I think this will add something to the Russ/Ai thing. When Russ realises what Ai is, if he doesn’t say something he could lose his job, but if he does then he’ll lose Ai.

    Okay, that all sounded better in my head. Sorry.

  27. Wingson 06 Apr 2009 at 8:30 pm

    It’s okay, I do stuff like that a lot.

    I do like the idea you had for Russ/Ai. I’m not too fond of the company. I’d try to make the incident a bit bigger, you know?

    I’m tossing around some titles at this point. I love Ai, but you guys do warn against acronyms.

    What about:

    The Code of a Virus

    I kinda like this because “code” can be understood as what makes up a virus (pixels and all that jazz) but can also be seen as laws or morals: essentially, what the beliefs of an artificial intelligence are.

    - Wings

  28. Wingson 07 Apr 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Hello!

    -Wings

  29. Holliequon 07 Apr 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Hmm. The easiest way to make the incident bigger is to call it “cyber terrorism” and the hacker is working against a government. But if this is primarily a romance, I think the story could get bogged down in that. What do you think?

    Hmm. I’m not too keen on that title. I don’t think it says much about the story. I can’t think of anything better, though.

  30. B. Macon 07 Apr 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Generally, I recommend against using acronyms. However, one of the advantages of AI is that most of the readers of a sci-fi story will know what it means beforehand.

  31. Wingson 09 Apr 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. I’m trying to keep romance the biggest theme in the story, and as I don’t know as much as most people about technology, I’d better stay away from too-complicated topics.

    -Wings

  32. B. Macon 09 Apr 2009 at 12:45 pm

    If romance is the main theme, then I’d highly recommend playing that up in the title.

  33. Wingson 15 Apr 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Yeah, but everything I’ve come up with is cheesy or used.

    People, I have an important announcement:

    I’m moving to Australia! Nah, just joking. I’m staying in California.

    The real important announcement?

    Most of my stories don’t have/aren’t designed to have/only have it because I have very sarcastic humor.

    I don’t try to write humor, I write more serious/ironic stories. (I like to read humor, but I don’t think I’m very good at writing it.)

    Anyway, we have a new addition to the Idea Pile:

    The Light Of Destruction
    *SPOILERS*

    An alien child is sent to Earth with only one purpose: to destroy it. To give her a hatred of humanity, she is placed in the worst possible environment. As she grows up loathing humans simply because of how she has been treated, the plan seems to have worked perfectly – until one Earthling boy decides to reach out – and ends up unknowingly saving his world.

    It’s very, very rough. However, I’m trying to present it as having a deeper meaning: basically, that one small act of kindness can truly change the world, that humanity isn’t all bad, and that one person reaching out can change a life forever.

    Yeah, kind of sappy. But I like it.

    - Wings

  34. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 Apr 2009 at 1:52 am

    I like it too! It sounds like a nice little story.

    I have an idea pile as well, but I only mention significant ideas here. I have about ten different ideas for stories/manga.

  35. Holliequon 16 Apr 2009 at 2:02 am

    Only ten?! Wow, I have loads. No wonder I can’t finish a single project . . .

    I only have three/four major ideas bugging me right now. That’s including V&Z, but discluding my two unfinished NaNo projects.

  36. Holliequon 16 Apr 2009 at 2:04 am

    Oh, Wings: I also like the concept. Eerily similar to something that happened to me recently. Yeah, I indirectly saved the world. ;)

    That was what I cam here to say originally. Damn me for getting sidetracked!

  37. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 Apr 2009 at 2:23 am

    I have a few more than that, but only ten of them have basic character ideas and settings attached to them. The others are vague concepts floating around in my head, like this one:

    The Prime Minister’s son goes missing because he is sick of all the attention. He ends up living on the streets, so he robs a bank.

    That’s all I have.

  38. Tomon 16 Apr 2009 at 3:30 am

    I have 5 other possible ideas for TV shows, two other superhero shows, two fantasies and a sci-fi. If I ever make it in the animation industry I have enough show ideas to last me for an entire career.

  39. Ragged Boyon 16 Apr 2009 at 3:33 am

    I like it. It seems like a sci-fi blend of Naruto and Hellboy, which I don’t see as a particularly bad thing.

    I force myself not to come up with new story concepts, it’s dangerous for the existing one’s. If I did I’d probably drop Showtime and jump on another story. Right now I’m focusing on:

    Showtime
    Sketch
    Masquerade (after lots of brainstorming I may do this one as a novel)

  40. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 16 Apr 2009 at 3:47 am

    My main focuses for the moment are Isaac and Neon. Once I’m done with Isaac I will either begin work on the sequel or on Terry (the teacher/assassin).

  41. Wingson 16 Apr 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I have a lot of stuff in the Idea Pile *waves at Zane Talon*.

    I just sent three stories to the pile after I thought they seemed too cliche. I might yank one out.

    I’d like to publish How to Save the World first, so that my more minor stories like Ai and perhaps The Light of Destruction can get a boost from it.

    I might write my fantasy/romances (Between Light and Darkness, The Cursed and the Fallen, Bright Scales and Dark Souls, etc.) under my full name, and my sci-fi/action stories (HTSTW, Minutes to Midnight, Ai, The Light of Destruction) under my initials.

    Say, has anyone heard of the 13 year old girl who published the book Swordbird? I’m almost entirely sure that it’s a ripoff of Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, but I can’t find a copy to prove it.

    I meant to be the youngest published writer *sniffles*

    - Wings

  42. Wingson 18 Apr 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Hey.

    I’m getting back to work on Chapter Two: Sugar Makes the World Go Round.

    Hopefully I’ll have it up in a couple weeks. However, my vacation’s ending, so I’ll have homework to do again…

    Anyway, I’ll be back!

    –Wings

  43. ikarus619xon 18 Apr 2009 at 10:29 pm

    As far as your AI’s name goes, maybe you can try something overly corny? Most hackers tend to come up with lame names. Also, hackers don’t break into systems; crackers do. Hackers break down systems and improve them. Wikipedia has an in-depth article on hackers. Calling AI’s writer the PC thing might make readers feel smarter. Reader: “He’s a CRACKER, not a hacker. Gosh, Mom, you’re so old.”

  44. B. Macon 19 Apr 2009 at 5:18 am

    I’m not sure if editors recognize that difference between “hacker” and “cracker.” For example, Wired– which is a very tech-savvy website– refers to an extortionist as a hacker here.

    If Wired doesn’t have a problem with it, I don’t think that the average editor at Scholastic or Penguin would.

  45. Wingson 19 Apr 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Actually, I was just planning to call her Ai (simply because the hacker never bothered to give her a name other than AI One).

    However, that leaves me wondering about Ven’s name…Maybe Ven is an acronym for something (Virtual Electronic…My brain now hurts).

    - Wings

  46. Wingson 21 Apr 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Huh. Does it seem a little weird to you that a virus recently attacked my computer in the same way that Ai would? That is, a little like a Trojan Horse? I was going to check out the link to that Women in Refrigerators website, and a warning popped up.

    On the bright side, this will help me figure out just how Ai attacks computers.

    - Wings

  47. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I just rediscovered two old concepts, only I have no clue what they originally were supposed to be.

    Facing The Music (All I remember is that there was a songwriter involved)

    Down to Earth (I think the main character could communicate with plant spirits or something like that…)

    Anyway, either of these might be reshaped into superhero novels. Who knows?

    - Wings

  48. Gurion Omegaon 19 May 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Nancy Yi Fan is the 13 year old behind the not-so-brilliant-or-terribly-original Swordbird.

    Technically, Redwall has all kinds of animals (Not to sound annoyed, but I’ve said this before). Swordbird focuses about 96% of its intelligent creatures as…well…birds.

    I personally didn’t enjoy it. All the Antagonists wanted anarchy, destruction, and worldwide misery, all the good guys wanted peace, justice, equality.

    Rating: 3 outta 10 stars.

  49. Holliequon 19 May 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I read Swordbird too, although it was a while ago. The black and white morality really bugged me. I thought it was Redwall without the nostalgic value that makes me still read those books.

    It was okay, but I think even a 13-year-old could have a slightly deeper story than that. Then again, who knows who the target audience was.

  50. Mr. Briton 19 May 2009 at 12:48 pm

    To be honest, the Redwall books got like that once you hit about twelve. I remember really liking them because they killed lots of characters off and this made them feel mature to my untrained eye. On reflection, they are predictable, obsessed with food scenes, annoying riddles and have far too many similar characters. Also, Mole speak annoyed the f*** out of me.

  51. B. Macon 19 May 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I think that authors very rarely have an audience that are much older than they are. I’m not familiar with the Swordbird books specifically, but I find it hard to imagine that the target audience was older than 13. I’d say that the appeal of a book about talking animals declines sharply after age 10 or so.

  52. Wingson 20 Jul 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Came up with another idea for a superhero fic (Not connected to HTSTW). It’s set in a more typical superhero universe (Where heroes are known to exist).

    The main character is Darkstar, a rogue hero. That is, he could be either a very evil Anti Hero or a very good Anti Villain – feared by both sides, heroes and villains. One day he could be saving a child from a fire, the next, he could be being paid to be a villain’s henchman. He was inspired by the heroes like Batman or the Punisher (leaning toward the latter, who dispenses justice – though not exactly in the usual hero way). Since these two were Badass Normals, I’m debating what powers to give him. He’s harsh and rather ruthless, though he has his “Pet The Dog” moments.

    “Looking for death? Here I am.”

    There are a few secondary characters as well:

    Name: Hikari
    Class: Minor Hero
    Power: Light flashes (She can generate a bright flash of light to temporarily blind/stun her opponents), possibly levitation or agility
    Relationships: Darkstar’s love interest.
    Personality: She’s quiet and soft-spoken, and loyal to those who she trusts. Hikari’s quick-thinking, more prepared to help herself than wait to be saved. However, she’s easily surprised, a liability in combat.

    Name: _no name yet, need one_
    Class: Hero
    Power: Blood manipulator
    Relationships: None known
    Personality: Although his power is perfectly suited for a power-hungry villain, it isn’t so well fit for a hero who opposes killing or injuring. However, he still needs blood to fight, and without hurting his opponent, there’s only one option. He deliberately injures himself, and then uses his own blood to fight – he’s unwilling, but he’s still a bordeline masochist.

    Anyway, I need a non-villainous name for my blood manipulator, and help for Hikari’s personality – I’m used to writing outspoken females like Meg.

    - Wings, who is listening to the song “Iris” obsessively for no apparent reason

    P.S. Working on ch2 of HTSTW

  53. Marissaon 20 Jul 2009 at 10:30 pm

    And I don’t want the world to see me, ’cause I don’t think that they’d understand…

    If Hikari is Darkstar’s love interest, she needs to be almost more developed than he is. Think: Sure, she’s quiet, but there has to be something that riles her up. It might not come out often, but it gives her more than just a puddle’s depth, which quieter characters usually seem to suffer from.

    Also, is Hikari Japanese? If she isn’t, there’d better be a pretty good reason she has a Japanese name. ;D

  54. B. Macon 20 Jul 2009 at 11:55 pm

    “That is, he could be either a very evil Anti Hero or a very good Anti Villain – feared by both sides, heroes and villains.” I might be a bit paranoid about such things, but I’m getting major Mary Sue vibes off of that. In the context of a superhero story, fear is usually a sign of respect. I’d recommend working in some disrespect as well. For example, heroes can laugh him off because he works for money. Villains probably think he’s unreliable because there’s no way to beat the feds in a bidding war if push comes to shove. ;-)

    I’d just recommend trying to stay away from “informed coolness“– using the other characters in the story to remind us that this is a scary badass dude. We need to see it with our own eyes.

    Also, fleshing out what other people think about him in both a negative and positive way will probably feel more realistic and it’ll also give the hero some obstacles to surmount. Beating obstacles is impressive.

    Finally, there’s the idea of merit. It sounds like the hero is recognized as pretty awesome early on. Readers generally like to see characters earn such recognition over time. If people are going to be singing his praises (or scared of his skills), it would probably be best if he has had plenty of time to establish how scary he is. Otherwise, readers might feel like you’re trying to cram his Mary Sue-ness down their throats.

  55. Tomon 21 Jul 2009 at 1:30 am

    I don’t know if this matters or not but there’s a minor villain in the TV show Ben 10: Alien Force called Darkstar. It probably doesn’t matter but you should probably know that.

  56. Wingson 21 Jul 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Put it this way – its less like fear are more like – how do I say this – distrust. Neither side can completely trust him, because he works for both. However, he gets the job done, and done well, which is why they still use him.

    The story will switch POVs, so we’ll be able to see what the other characters think of him – if they despise him for working for good, if they don’t trust him because he works for evil, of if they simply hate him – it’s something I’m working on. He gets a very mixed reaction – what do you say when the bank robber of the night before saves your daughter from a fire?

    One of Hikari’s pet peeves is the fact that Darkstar works for both sides – she likes things clean-cut. Black and white. No gray. She doesn’t understand the fact that he seems to belong on both sides – good and evil. He’s one of the only people to make her lose her cool – she does her best to maintain a cold persona. Oh,to whoever asked that question, she’s Japanese-American.

    C’mon, did anyone notice my blood manipulator? I was proud of him! ;-)

    - Wings

  57. Wingson 23 Jul 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I may have just created a minor villain.

    Name: Alcatraz
    Powers: None
    Personality: An escape artist who can open any lock, any door, any safe…and a talented thief. Despite having no special abilities, Alcatraz is still a formidable ally – she relys on steath and the occasional smoke bomb instead of brute strength.

    - Wings

  58. Wingson 24 Jul 2009 at 10:53 am

    One more thing – Alcatraz has been caught and convicted twice, but is always bailed out by her other villain allys – put it this way, if every store/bank is a treasure chest, Alcatraz is their skeleton key.

    Another hero:

    Name: Instinct
    Powers: None yet -may be able to see 30 seconds into the future
    Personality: Alcatraz’s alternate number, Instinct is a street fighter and quite possibly a Badass Normal. When fighting, she ignores any strategy and tactics and goes for power instead – the reason for her codename.

    - Wings

  59. Wingson 16 Aug 2009 at 9:00 pm

    *randomly singing “Music Of The Night” from The Phantom Of The Opera (which is EPIC, along with Les Miserables, which I saw a few weeks ago)*

    *walks into wall as usual*

    It burns! Anyway, like I said in my other forum, Darkstar has taken on a life of his own. Here’s his story, temporarily entitled Darkstar Rising.

    A group of heroes called The Seven protect the streets of (a city that isn’t New York) from not only ordinary crime, but from a villain known as Pathos who’s powers come from feeding off of human emotion (anger=fire, etc) and who’s goal is to destroy all heroes. Minor villains also roam such as Alcatraz, who has no powers but can open any lock and escape from any prison. And then there’s Darkstar, who takes no sides and works for both. Meanwhile, The Seven are seven in name only, because their leader, Shift (a human shapeshifter) disappeared over two years ago and is presumed dead. The remaining six members do their best to carry on against the threat of Pathos, and the team’s members include Masochist (temporary names), a blood manipulator who is against harming others, Instinct, a Badass Normal with a strong feral side, and Hikari, a minor light manipulator who was in love with Shift and has an almost too-defined sense of right and wrong. She’s curious about Darkstar, who sells his services to both sides and is distrusted by both, and who hovers in the gray area of her universe – which she doesn’t understand. Ever since Shift vanished, she’s retreated into herself and become a cold person who’s world is neatly sorted into black and white. Darkstar himself doesn’t really place himself on either side – he’s disinterested in the fighting and only is trying to make a life for himself. He’s paranoid, distrustful, introverted, sarcastic, and ruthless, but at the same time manages to be chivalrious, loyal (to those he trusts), courageous, and even heroic at points.

    More in a minute – this DSi has a limit to how much you can type at once.

    - Wings

  60. Wingson 16 Aug 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Part Deux:

    Hikari and Darkstar eventually begin a sort of friendship, which grows until Hikari begins to trust Darkstar.

    However, when she is attacked by some of Pathos’s minions and captured, her world is destroyed as she discovers who her abductor – and the real mastermind of the plan to destroy the heroes – is: Darkstar himself.

    He was the mastermind behind the entire plan, he worked among heroes to learn their weaknesses, and he killed Shift. Pathos was only an underling who served as the decoy matermind – and now, Darkstar plans to use Hikari as bait for the rest of The Seven, leading them all to their deaths. Yes, all seems lost – until an unlikely rescuer appears. His name? Darkstar. (Aw, you know I wouldn’t really turn Darkstar into the chessmaster, right?) But now, the question is: who is the real Darkstar, the mastermind or the rescuer? When the second Darkstar is proven to be the real one, the true identity of the mastermind is revealed to be…Shift, the hero thought dead. His plan was to eventually let Hikari escape so that she could warn The Seven that Darkstar was the mastermind, thereby leading to his inevitable death at the hands of the Seven and the disappearence of the only possible variable in his plan. Then, Shift would use his ability to cause dissent among the heroes and turn them against each other so that they would destroy themselves. Shift was a true Chessmaster – he posed as the Seven’s leader to learn their weak points, then conviniently vanished around the same time Darkstar first debuted. When the remaining members of the Seven arrive, they manage to finish off Shift’s empire, but Hikari is crushed after the events of the day. It’s Darkstar who manages to help her – and he ends up finding the one thing he’s been missing all his life – a little love.
    —–
    And it’s a happy ending after all. The story switches between the POVs of Hikari and Darkstar, and, although darker than HTSTW, it still retains my style.

    - Wings

  61. Wingson 16 Aug 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Ran out of space again…curse this DSi.

    Anyway, what I need for the story is a few more characters. I need three more heroes (two male and one female) and at least one minor villain (Preferably male). The heroes need to mesh with the others personality-and-power-wise, and the villains need good motivations (Alcatraz only robs banks and the like because she loves the rush – it’s a natural drug for her that she can’t live without).

    A feature of the story is that it only focuses on the characters’s hero identities, not their aliases. Just thought you should know.

    - Wings

  62. Pon 18 Aug 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Hmm, I always realized that your stories seem to have more heroes then villains, not that I believe anything is wrong with that. I am here to come out with a good minor villain for you, and since the realm that your story is set in has the heroes appear more casual, this may be a bit easier for me. Since you asked for good motivation, I was thinking about a spiritual approach, such as an over-zealous creep, or a former cultist leader trying to further ideas through powers (however, the cult thing is starting to appear overdone). This character could believe that he/she was given these powers for a divine purpose, such as annihilating humanity so it could be redone, or something similarly creepy. (It could be somewhat like Scar from FMA).

    The only power that seems to fit is nature-manipulation. (I could come up with more. I just need to know how far you will go and how violent it can be.) He/she could also be the leader of a group of evil doers with weaker powers or no powers at all.

  63. Pon 18 Aug 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I would also like to know what Darkstar’s powers are. It could help me try to think up heroes.

    ~ P

  64. Wingson 18 Aug 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Still, villains always have armies of faceless henchmen with weapons. Heroes don’t.

    One question I’m facing: does Darkstar have powers? after all, the heroes he was based on (Batman and the Punisher) didn’t have powers, and neither do other characters in the book (Alcatraz and Instinct, although Instinct trained to sharpen her senses to animalistic levels, and Alcatraz is just good at opening locks).

    There was one of Nightcrawler’s (X-Men) powers that I liked – his ability to disappear in shadows. Invisibility with a few limits might work for Darkstar.

    Here are the already created heroes/villains:

    Heroes:

    Shift, a human shapeshifter (unlike Jazz, an animal shapeshifter)
    Instinct, a Badass Normal (Her senses are heightened, but she trained to receive them)

    Masochist, a blood manipulator (Powerful enough to kill any being easily, but has a policy against harming lives – any lives. There’s a reason he’s called Masochist)

    Hikari, a minor light manipulator (She’s a rather decent fighter for someone who can only create flashes of light)

    Villains:

    Pathos, who gains different powers with different emotions (I’ll need help with this, but feeding on his opponent’s rage gave him pyrokinetic abilities, and he actually dies from an overdose of emotions in the end)

    Alcatraz, a Badass Normal (An excellent marksman, but has no other offensive ability)

  65. Lighting Manon 18 Aug 2009 at 5:19 pm

    One of the abandoned ideas for my universe was that almost all of the abilities were simply specialized versions of telekinesis, even things like teleportation, but the majority of individuals were only able to use it in a single form, so I took some time creating names for abilities using the pairing of the word “kinetic” prefix and whatever Greek word I felt best described the power, in the same vein as Stephen King’s Firestarter’s pyrokinesis, or photokinesis as your Hikari’s power would be described.

    They were mostly junk, but one of the few that I liked was Hemokinesis to describe the power to manipulate blood, it flowed a bit better I thought then most of the other ways to sum up the power. You’re welcome to incorporate it if you like it, not that you need my permission, it’s an obvious coinage but I thought I’d mention it since I haven’t seen it used elsewhere.

  66. Wingson 18 Aug 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Very interesting! I’ll do some research to see if there is an official name for blood manipulation.

    As for a minor villain, I might bring back Scapegoat. His power – in my opinion – was pretty different from the norm – when someone injures him, the inflicter feels double the amount of pain in the same area.

    I’ll brainstorm with P.

    - Wings

  67. Wingson 22 Aug 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Two heroes have been made!

    Name: Synth
    Powers: Plant manipulation
    Personality: Masochist’s cousin, a short-tempered personality and an older brother figure to Hummingbird. His combat specialty is a giant Venus Flytrap which attacks many opponents at once. Unlike the stereotype of a pacifist plant manipulator, he revels in violence and loves horror movies.

    Name: Hummingbird
    Power: Sonic flight (I don’t know the proper name)
    Personality: The youngest and newest member of The Seven by far, Hummingbird is a hyper thirteen year old who still sees the hero buisness as a game. Like his namesake, he can fly incredibly fast but needs to consume a lot of sugar to make up for the amount of energy he burns.

    What do you guys think? I’ve noticed that I’m turning a lot of hero stereotypes upside down (see Personality Power on tvtropes) – what with a pacifist blood manipulator and a violent plant manipulator.

    I’ve also descided that I’m using Scapegoat as the minor villain, so all I need now is a female hero.

    - Wings

  68. Wingson 23 Aug 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I’m considering an artist heroine for the final member of the Seven – whatever she draws comes to life, but it literally will be exactly as drawn (Say she draws a knife…if it’s just a small doodle it will come into being…at the size it was drawn), and she can’t draw anything alive.

    I also created this gem of a line in a characterization email to P. If Darkstar is asked why he chose his costume (black, mainly relys on a cloak) and why he didn’t pick something more classic, he makes a reference to All-American costumes: “{I’d prefer not to run around looking like a glorified barbershop pole.”

    Oh, and Synth’s name came from synthesis/photosynthesis.

    - Wings

  69. ShardReaperon 23 Aug 2009 at 1:35 pm

    That sounds good. A few questions, though:

    1. How will she draw these objects so that they come to life? Handsigns? A magical pencil or pen?
    2. What will she use to draw them with? Is she gonna have paper on her, or will she draw it on her skin, or just make its shape in the air?
    3. It sounds like this power is her sole line of defense and offense. Will she have some additional fighting skills?
    4. The barbershop joke might fly over some people’s heads, but I think that depends on who this is marketed towards.

  70. Wingson 23 Aug 2009 at 1:55 pm

    1. A pen with specially engineered ink.
    2. She would carry a lot of paper, but she can draw on almost any surface (although most can’t be used, mainly concrete. brick, stone…Put it this way. If you can draw on it with a regular pen, it’s usable)
    3. She can use most of the weapons she draws (her specialty is bladed weapons since guns are fairly complicated to draw in a short period of time). Heck, as long as it’s lifesized (be it a shield or another weapon/object) it’s usable.
    4. It was originally flagpole or something similar, but I felt that barbershop pole felt a little more unreal/out there/fantastic.

    One more thing – since they were born from paper, everything she creates is extremely vulnerable to fire.

    - Wings

  71. Holliequon 23 Aug 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Hmm… do you really need seven main characters? That seems an awful lot.

  72. ShardReaperon 23 Aug 2009 at 3:43 pm

    It does at first, but there’s a way around it. In the Legion of Superheroes cartoon and Justice League, they had the team broken down to 2-5 members while the others were out doing their own thing relevant to the story.

  73. Holliequon 23 Aug 2009 at 4:34 pm

    That’s a lot harder to do in a novel. How do you plan to develop seven characters (plus villains) when they aren’t even on-screen all the time? Also, this would be hard to do well in a novel (which is what I assume Wings is writing). As I understand it, Justice League was a long running comic series, and if Legion of Superheroes was a cartoon, it probably had a far run as well. A novel only has, say, 500 pages to do the same thing. And 500 pages is a fairly sizable novel.

    It’s also worth mentioning that Justice League used previously established characters (according to my quick Wiki search… I’m not really a comic book kind of person), so the audience was already familiar with them. Wings will have to build hers from scratch, so to speak.

  74. ShardReaperon 23 Aug 2009 at 4:39 pm

    LoSH only had two seasons. Regardless, the other thing I can think of is if they have them seperated and then come together at the end for the climactic battle.

  75. B. Macon 23 Aug 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Yeah, trying to establish seven teammates in a novel would be kind of a killer. My layman’s intuition is that it doesn’t fit the medium of a novel very well– TV viewers can tolerate one-trait character development (see TMNT or Power Rangers), but novel-readers generally won’t. I suspect that most publishers would be more receptive to a cast of 3-4 well-developed teammates than 6-8 characters that are not so well-developed. The only published exception I can think of is the Wild Card novels, and I have some more thoughts about why they worked here and here.

  76. Wingson 23 Aug 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Still, The Seven sounded cool…

    However, they aren’t all major characters (Hikari and Darkstar being most important, Instinct and Masochist on the outer edges, and Synth, Hummingbird, and artist girl as only minor characters. Shift isn’t *technically* introduced until the end, and out of the minor villains Alcatraz gets the most spotlight).

    I could cut out artist girl and call them The Six (remember, Shift isn’t there, but then again we have Darkstar, although he isn’t a member).

    - Wings

  77. Pon 04 Sep 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I think making them “The Six” would be a wise descision because in my mind, the number seven is the most over used of any number ever. (Besides 42.)

    ~ P

  78. Wingson 04 Sep 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Ah, your computer was fixed, then?

    Still wondering about Darkstar’s power – I think invisibility in shadow would be cool without screaming out “I will be paired with the light manipulator!”

    All right, from now on they are The Six! Here is the new character list:

    Darkstar, a (maybe) partial umbrakinetic/umbratechnic (Manipulating shadow and generating shadow respectably)

    The Six (in order of importance):

    Hikari, a partial photokinetic (light manipulator)

    Masochist, a blood manipulator

    Instinct, a Badass Normal

    Hummingbird, a sonic flyer

    Synth, a plant manipulator

    Villains:

    Shift, a human shapeshifter

    Pathos, an emotion manipulator (an empath with a serious power upgrade, since he gains different abilities depending on the emotions present)

    Alcatraz, a Badass Normal

    Scapegoat, a (no term known) physical shield (Whatever injury inflicted on him is rebounded doubly so on the attacker)

    Funny, I’ve just realized that of the three female characters – Hikari, Alcatraz, and Instinct – two are Badass Normals and the remaining one still relys on basic fighting. Interesting….

    Now, *sighs* back to my homework. We were supposed to have less because of the holiday, but the universe simply MUST torture us.

    - Wings, who figured out how to sneak SN out from under the parental controls

  79. Wingson 06 Sep 2009 at 6:24 pm

    All right, people, I have a serious question.

    Darkstar: So you say…

    Wings: Go away, Figment of My Imagination. Anyway, the question is: Should the Masochist/Synth pairing become canon, or should they remain relatives? (For the record, it, like most of my other romances, would never be explicitly stated – going by fanfiction terms, it would be portrayed as shonen-ai) Do you think people could be offended by me putting such a relationship in the book?

    For one, I have no problem with homosexual relationships in writing and in the real world (Hey, love is love is love! Girl, boy, or tree, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things). Heck,I even ship Darkstar/Titan, despite their being from different universes.

    Darkstar: *anger mark* You. Said. You’d. Never Mention. That. Incident. Again.

    Wings: I lied.

    Secondly, it wouldn’t be hard to implement it into the original story (As of now they’re close cousins).

    Thirdly, if I decide against it but continue writing it like I am now, it could devolve into the male equivalent of Hide Your Lesbians. I’d have to rewrite several scenes to kill even the faintest glimmer of it.

    On the other hand, I could offend my readers enough to make them put the book down, burn it, rip it apart, exorcise it, or all of the above at the same time. ‘Nuff said.

    So I’m asking for your opinion. What should I do?

    - Wings

  80. Holliequon 07 Sep 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Keep it in, I’d say. But then again, I’m a person who would rather not have those kinds of people reading my books than remove hints of a homosexual relationship just so I wouldn’t “offend” people. (I will stop here before I start ranting. Prejudice makes me rage.)

    If you just want to hint that they have feelings for each other, I would take out the cousins part. Personally, I could cope with that, but I think a good portion of readers would find it a bit too close to incest for comfort (as I understand it, in the US there is some sort of stigma against first cousins marrying, which although considered odd in the UK isn’t really judged too harshly, or in some parts of the world is even encouraged). Old friends would work just as well, I think.

    If you are worried about offending readers, you could simply keep it as a subtext and leave it open to interpretation. Those who don’t want to see “boy love” will assume they are close friends.

  81. Ghoston 07 Sep 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Wings,
    I argee with Holliequ. You are the writer, write what you want and if it offends them they don’t have to read it.

  82. Wingson 08 Sep 2009 at 10:22 am

    I’ll just imply it then. This way, I can hopefully make all my reviewers happy.

    Yes! Now I can ship Synth/Masochist! *throws confetti*

    I also like to go on prejudice rants, Holliequ. Perhaps sometime we should rant together.

    - Wings

  83. Holliequon 08 Sep 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Haha. I don’t particularly like to go on prejudice rants, it just happens. For example, there were some protests over here early which essentially boiled down to “Muslims should go back to where they came from!” (of course, they completely ignored the fact that a lot of Muslims living in Britain were born here.) Oh, the temptation to hit those people with large sticks… good job they weren’t near me, or else I might well have gone out and yelled at them.

  84. Wingson 08 Sep 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I completely understand that temptation. *grabs large stick*

    I actually found a quote that seems to fit Darkstar: “Those who fear the darkness have no idea what the light can do.” – Katasai Rakshasa. Don’t know who the heck said this, but it seems fitting for Darkstar’s views on life.

    If anything, I’ll change it a little to have a better overall sound. The quote will still be cited as theirs, however, since I’ve seen loads of variations of this quote when searching for the author.

    - Wings

  85. B. Macon 08 Sep 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Hello. Could I prod y’all to avoid politics? Nothing personal.

  86. Wingson 08 Sep 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Okay! The conversation kinda ended already.

    - Wings, who would like people to check out the new beginning of Chapter 2 of HTSTW, now posted

  87. Wingson 09 Sep 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Here is the prologue of Darkstar Rising – surprisingly, I actually got around to writing it.

    ———-

    Prologue

    It seemed a bit off to call them the Six, now that only five heroes remained on the active roster.

    Then again, none of them had asked for Darkstar’s opinion.

    Darkstar had never fit the stereotypical image of a superhero, but then again, he wasn’t a superhero at all. His singed and battered cloak whipped about his ankles, occasionally snagging on smoldering furniture. Darkstar cursed under his breath as a new hole was singed though the dark fabric. He held the child in his arms closer to him, shielding the boy’s face from the smoke.

    Darkstar remained impassive as he narrowly sidestepped a burning support, his cape just missing it as the house began to crumble slowly. No emotion was betrayed as the set the child down outside at the feet of one of the fireman, no words were said as he turned away from the building in flames and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    Perhaps Pathos would call in the morning with news of a job for him. He smiled into the darkness.

    No matter what it was, he always got the job done.

    ————

    I’m not quite as happy with it as I was with the HTSTW prologue, but that is why I came here – to make it better.

    - Wings

  88. Ghoston 09 Sep 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Wings,
    Love the prologue. It is short sweet and to the point. Also it is very intriguing. However, there seems to be something off about it. I dont know what it is though, so it may be just me. But once again great prologue.

  89. Wingson 09 Sep 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Love?!? R-really?

    *grabs Darkstar and begins the rare and wonderful Wings Happy Dance*

    I did sense something off about it (wording perhaps) but woooooww….

    *continues Wings Happy Dance*

    *leaves a plate of cookies shaped like Darkstar’s head out for other reviewers*

    - Wings

  90. Ghoston 09 Sep 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Wings,
    I have given your prologue more thought and I think I have pinned down the “thing that is off about it”. I am having trouble deciding what I shoud label darkstar as, Good guy or bad guy. Now my first impression is that he is a bad guy who has just taken out one of the good guys, but if he is a bad guy why save the baby. So then I think to myself, self maybe he isn’t a bad guy maybe he is an anti-hero. Then self says, but ghost, Darkstar may not be either, he may just be another superhero who came to help the superhero in the burned out house and showed up to late and since Darkstar doesn’t know said dead superhero, he simply saves the baby ad leave.
    So I guess the whole point of my rambling, Wings, is that you might what to give the reader a better feel for Darkstars hero/villain orientation. Also, gove more of an idea as to what his realtionship to “the six” is. If “the six” are Darkstar’s antagonists, or are only his antagonist because of some superfiscial reason like he is paid to kill them, then let the reader know that too.

  91. Ghoston 09 Sep 2009 at 2:46 pm

    P.S. Sorry about the misspelled words. I am typing on a netbook with a tiny off centered keyboard.

  92. StarEon 09 Sep 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Hello! I got confused ’cause this isn’t the same review forum I was at earlier, but then I realized it said “second” on it. lol

    Since, I’m here, I decided to read the prologue you wrote. :) It sounds nice so far, Wings! I agree with Ghost that it’s a little hard to tell whose side Darkstar is on. Also, since you only mention “the Six” once without saying what happened to the sixth hero, it’s a little confusing… Maybe you could actually say what happened to the other guy?

    Right now, it sounds like Darkstar popped up and killed the guy after burning the house down, then decided to save the baby because it certainly wasn’t the IT’S fault the superheroes fought in its house. (I think Ghost said this, and it was my first impression, too)

    I think all we need for the prologue to be more clear is to know what happened to the sixth superhero. Is his body crippled on the ground with a imprint of Darkstar’s fist against his face? Is he dead, or just unconscious? Where are the other five heroes? Are they in the room, too? Why is Darkstar here? Was he contracted to kill that other hero? That could be referenced by some kind of “job well done” line, but if he’s saving the baby from a burning building, I’m not sure Darkstar killed anyone… Why doesn’t Darkstar want to save the Sixth guy, too, if he’s saving the baby? …Or is there NO DEAD GUY at all, and the “sixth hero” is actually Darkstar, who left the other heroes because he’s not your “typical hero”, or he got kicked out or something?

    Umm… I hope this helps a little, Wings. Ghost’s comment got me thinking…

  93. Wingson 09 Sep 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Yay, reviewers!

    When it comes down to it, Darkstar is considered a rogue hero – he works for villains and heroes alike. He’s similar to a hired mercenary. Of course, this means that neither side trusts him – the villains only hire him as a henchman or something similar because “he always completes the mission”.

    The missing hero *spoiler alert!* is Shift, who disappeared over a year ago and is presumed dead. However, he’s Not Really Dead and is actually the lead villain, which is only revealed at the story’s end.

    The Six…well, to Darkstar, they’re…

    Darkstar: Annoyances which think that the only way to be a hero is to be perfectly good all the time. What’s the fun in that?

    Wings: And what about Hikari?

    Darkstar: A ridiculously unemotional person who sees the world in black and white. She thinks that in order to be a hero one has to be the epitome of goodness and nothing less.

    Wings: In short, he loves her.

    Darkstar: I do not!

    Wings: Back on topic-

    The rest of the plot is hidden in the forum somewhere…and ignore the blurbs about Ai, that’s a discontinued idea.

    - Wings

  94. Ghoston 09 Sep 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Wings,
    Alright well that clears up alot for me. So now my suggestion would be to make the fact that Darkstar is a merc more obvious. You dont have to actually say that of course, but as a reader I expect to be able to infer that info. So one way to do that is to maybe make that baby a kidnap victim he was sent to rescue. For instance,

    Darkstar’s singed and battered cloak whipped about his ankles, occasionally snagging on smoldering furniture. Darkstar cursed under his breath as a new hole was singed though the dark fabric. He glanced down at the child he held in his arms and shifted his cloak to shield the small boy’s face from the smoke. The child looked so small and innocent, and entirely to un-important enough to rate a rescue by the six…
    Darkstar grinned.
    It seemed a bit off to call them the Six, now that only five heroes remained. Then again, none of them had asked for Darkstar’s opinion, nor were they every likely to, as Darkstar had never fit their stereotypical image of a superhero. Unlike the might Six, he preferred to get paid for his services.
    Darkstar remained impassive as he narrowly sidestepped a burning support, his cape just missing it as the house began to crumble slowly. No emotion was betrayed as the set the child down outside at the feet of one of the fireman, no words were said as he turned away from the building in flames and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    Perhaps Pathos would call in the morning with news of a job for him. He smiled into the darkness.

    No matter what it was, he always got the job done.

    So I know I reordered a few things and added a few more but its just example to show you how to give the reader some info about darkstar and his feelings toward the six.

  95. StarEon 09 Sep 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Yay! Rogue hero! :)

    I like Ghost’s suggestions for the prologue, because it helps the reader know what’s going on. I have absolutely no bearing on your Darkstar story, Wings, since I stumbled onto your second review forum by accident. So I’m reading the story without any prior information (like a regular walk-around-in-the-bookstore reader), and I’m wondering why “the Six” were mentioned in the prologue in the first line, then not spoken of again for the rest of it. If “the Six” technically have nothing to do with the first scene, maybe it would be better to be more generic and have Darkstar talk about “most superheroes” instead of specifically “the Six”?

    Then later, when Darkstar has some time to muse about the six heroes (and their missing member), you could mention that the group is amongst the heroes who view Darkstar as a blacksheep? I almost imagine there being some sort of news report about the missing hero, or a street conversation about it or something, but… now I’m just rambling uselessly.

    Due to starting the prologue with a somewhat cryptic remark about “the Six”, it made me think that Darkstar had just finished murdering someone, heh-heh.

  96. Holliequon 10 Sep 2009 at 8:36 am

    Your prologue’s very… short. As it is now, we have no clue about who “the Six” are, no clue about Darkstar’s motivations, his powers, or anything. He just rescues baby, gets out, and disappears.

    Why is he rescuing the baby? How did the building catch fire (if relevant)? Why is he at the scene? Does he choose to rescue the baby, or is he paid to? Because depending on your answer, you have a great opporunity to either classify Darkstar as “villain protagonist” or “anti-hero” right from the get go. (This is good, since your readers will all be on the same page.) I can’t imagine that somebody would pay him to save a baby from a burning building, so this makes it a choice and makes him some kind of hero, at least.

    I think this scene could be fleshed out a lot more. Darkstar rescued a baby from a burning building when (presumably), nobody else could, and what’s more he does it without serious injury! This is a chance to show readers how impressive he is. I would go into more detail on the rescue (for example, he has to fight his way through the flames, around parts of the floor that have fallen in, avoid falling debris etc.) and the subsequent disappearence. The disappearence is what sets him apart from typical heroes, I think. Does he not want and/or expect thanks from the bystanders for this? Or do the bystanders do something which makes him leave? (Alternatively, if Darkstar has a history of being Hired Neutral, maybe he remembers a similar reaction previously and would rather avoid it.)

    I’m not sure if the Six deserve a mention here. I don’t think they’re entirely relevant. The most important thing is introducing Darkstar, I feel. The Six and their role can be introduced later.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good start. It just needs expanding.

  97. Wingson 10 Sep 2009 at 8:57 am

    Okay then, I’ll work the line for The Six into chapter one, where the story is in Hikari’s (a member of the Six) perspective.

    He doesn’t want thanks or the usual looks from the civilains, so her makes a hasty retreat into the shadows. Put it this way – what on earth do you say to the bank robber of the previous day after he saves your child?

    I do like your reordering, Ghost. Can I use parts of it?

    more later-

    - Wings

  98. Ghoston 10 Sep 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Of course you can Wings. You did all the hard work, I just did a little editing.

  99. Wingson 10 Sep 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks!

    *reheats the cookies shaped like Darkstar’s head*

    - Wings

  100. Wingson 24 Sep 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I came up with a possible new story in geometry (And that is probably why I’m failing geometry, but writing is far greater in importance in my book). It’s a science fiction which I think would appeal to the fans of Maximum Ride. It employs a Villain Protagonist (later an Anti Villain Protagonist), one thing I’ve never done before but quite enjoy. (This page at TVTropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VillainProtagonist – If you understand Death Note then you will laugh at the picture).

    Let’s see…I was thinking about Death Note in geometry (Oh, like any of you guys actually pay attention ALL the time!) and wondering about the Villain Protagonist concept. Then, as my mind normally does afte eating ice cream at lunch, I changed gears abruptly and started thinking about the Maximum Ride series. Then, I asked myself a question (The question method is actually how the entire premise of how Darkstar came to be): What if there was a sympathetic Eraser *spoiler* other than Ari? The idea took off, soon distancing itself from the original material. Then the plot of this new idea started forming:

    In the future, a seemingly peaceful utopia reigns. Below the surface, however, a secret government-sponsored group called the Hunters are sent to exterminate or “erase” any human born with animalistic traits.

    These humans, called Abominations by the Hunters, are said to be throwbacks to the beginning of evolution, and all posess the traits of specific animals (e.g lizards, wolves, lions…any animal basically).

    Our protagonist is one of the Hunters with no qualms about what she does in destroying the Abominations.

    More later, the computer lab is closing and I’m banned from the Net at home.

    - Wings

  101. StarEon 25 Sep 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Aw, I’m sorry you’re banned from the computer at home, Wings! Ah, well. And I can sympathize with sitting there in math class inventing story ideas, heehee. My lecture notes from math class sometimes end up with doodles of my story characters looking confused, lol.

    Nice idea so far. :) You’ll have to tell more about it once you get the extra time. Writing a story like that might give you a fun in-story excuse to invent crazy human-animal combinations, like a completely normal looking guy in a suit except that his entire head is an ostrich (complete with long neck, big eyes, dangerous beak, bow-tie and top hat). Haha, I’m just kidding. But you could be pretty inventive with the Abominations if you just whip out the zoo books!

    StarE: *stumbles onto the subway and bumps into some ordinary guy wearing a suit* Whoops! O_O *picks up his tophat and gives it back to him* Here you go, s…s…SIR!?

    Ostrich Head Man: *opens beak and hisses in StarE’s face* Hahhhhhh… o____o

  102. Wingson 25 Sep 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve become quite a fan of the dark utopia concept. For instance, in this new story humans are the elite race and all of them are considered equal – sure, it sounds like world peace, but what happens to those deemed “less than human”?

    Bye for now!

    - Wings

  103. B. Macon 25 Sep 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Speaking of dark utopias, I am absolutely in love with Surrogates. In many ways (ie everything but action), it was noticeably better than The Matrix.

  104. Marissaon 25 Sep 2009 at 8:39 pm

    SURROGATES IS OUT?

  105. Wingson 25 Sep 2009 at 9:15 pm

    I’ve heard the title…what is it?

    - Wings

  106. B. Macon 25 Sep 2009 at 9:49 pm

    New Bruce Willis movie.

  107. Holliequon 26 Sep 2009 at 11:57 am

    Breaking Benjamin did the theme song, I believe. “I Will Not Bow.” The music video made the film look incredibly awesome and I’m a fan of Bruce Willis, so I really want to see Surrogates! I wonder if I could get any of my friends to go with me… I don’t think they’re really action fans. =/

  108. Lighting Manon 26 Sep 2009 at 1:14 pm

    In the future, everyone uses robotic avatars that look like perfected versions of themselves to live, while staying in-doors, Bruce Willis plays a detective that has to investigate a series of murders in which someone is killing people by killing their avatars.

    That’s the plot of the movie, basically.

    Never liked Bruce Willis, I’ve always thought that John McClane should have been played by a more comedic actor, a Bill Murray or Robin Williams, someone with whom the violent aspects would’ve been more surprising then the comedic.

  109. B. Macon 26 Sep 2009 at 1:25 pm

    “I don’t think they’re really action fans.” Surrogates has action sequences but my action-loathing ladyfriend had a good time. She thought the relationship angle was well-done. We have a deal where I have to see a particular number of chick flicks with her based on how much she dislikes the movies I pick out. ;-) So, it’d be three chick flicks for 28 Weeks Later or Saw, two chick flicks for most superhero movies and just one for Surrogates. When I pointed out that Catwoman was really woman-friendly because it had a strong female protagonist, she bumped it up to three. Haha.

  110. Wingson 26 Sep 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Hmmm…I must investigate further! To Wikipedia!

    - Wings

  111. Wingson 30 Oct 2009 at 10:53 am

    I’m back to work on the Darkstar prologue and hope to finish it before NaNo…

    And I came up with a few Abomination characters.

    Snake-Hybrid

    A female character with patches of emerald scales. Scales are slightly invulnerable. Maybe serpentine eyes or large fangs.

    Hawk-Hybrid

    A male character with feathered, taloned feet and lower legs. No wings or any other birdlike signs.

    Fish-Hybrid

    A female character with finned arms and gills. May or may not have a fish tail.

    Personally, my favorite is the hawk hybrid simply because unlike the typical bird hybrids (looking at you Maximum Ride), he can’t fly and has no seemingly useful ability.

    - Wings

  112. Wingson 30 Oct 2009 at 11:00 am

    Darkstar’s singed and battered cloak whipped about his ankles, occasionally snagging on smoldering furniture. He carefully picked his way through minute infernos and charred walls, taking care to make sure his enshrouding cloak did not snag of protruding rubble. Darkstar cursed under his breath as a new hole was singed though the dark fabric. He glanced down at the child he held in his arms and shifted his cloak to shield the small boy’s face from the smoke. The child looked so small and innocent, and entirely to unimportant enough to rate a rescue by the Six

    It seemed a bit off to call them the Six, now that only five heroes remained. Then again, none of them had asked for Darkstar’s opinion, nor were they every likely to, as Darkstar had never fit their stereotypical image of a superhero. Unlike the mighty Six, he preferred to get paid for his services.
    Darkstar remained impassive as he narrowly sidestepped a burning support, his cape just missing it as the house began to crumble slowly. No emotion was betrayed as the set the child down outside at the feet of one of the fireman, no words were said as he turned away from the building in flames and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    Perhaps Pathos would call in the morning with news of a job for him. He smiled into the darkness.

    Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done.

    ———-

    Enjoy! Thanks to Ghost for being extremely helpful! Don’t get me wring, everyone else too!

    *puts out another plate of cookies shaped like Darkstar heads*

    Darkstar: *eats one* There’s something unnerving about taking a bite out of one’s face…

    - Wings

  113. B. Macon 30 Oct 2009 at 1:49 pm

    “Darkstar’s singed and battered cloak whipped about his ankles, occasionally snagging on smoldering furniture. He carefully picked his way through minute infernos and charred walls, taking care to make sure his enshrouding cloak did not snag of protruding rubble.”

    I feel like the first sentence here is drastically better than the second. The first has a smooth cadence and uses vocabulary that feels natural. In contrast, the second one uses vocabulary that feels sort of weird to me. “minute infernos” and “enshrouding cloak” distracted me a lot from the rest of the sentence. Also, “snag of” should probably be “snag on,” but I’d recommend rephrasing it entirely to avoid awkward repetition with the first sentence. I’d also recommend thinking about an alternate phrase for “picked his way through…” Maybe something that more directly suggests motion? Also, how do you pick your way through a wall?

    “entirely to unimportant enough to rate a rescue by the Six”—I’d recommend rephrasing this. Maybe “not even remotely important enough to rate [or merit or deserve] by the Six.”

    If he’s a mercenary, I’d recommend making that more front and center when he’s complaining about whether the child merits rescue. Is the importance of the victim what he cares about? Or is it the ability of the victim to pay for rescue? Why would he care more about importance than money?

    “Then again, none of them had asked for Darkstar’s opinion, nor were they every likely to, as Darkstar had never fit their stereotypical image of a superhero. Unlike the mighty Six, he preferred to get paid for his services.” I feel like this could probably show off his thinking a little bit better if it were more stylish. It portrays him in a studiously neutral way, sort of like a journalist wrote it. “he preferred to get paid for his services.” If this is from his perspective, I imagine he’d have a slant towards getting paid. “he wasn’t dumb enough to work for free” or something.

    “Then again, none of them had asked for Darkstar’s opinion, nor were they every likely to, as Darkstar had never fit their stereotypical image of a superhero.” I’d recommend clearing out at least one of these clauses. Also, I think stereotypical is probably unnecessary and “every” should be “ever.” You could probably take out the word “likely”—it’ll make him seem a bit more sure of himself and it heightens the conflict. “none of them had asked…” could be “they never asked.” Last comment—I’d recommend thinking about splitting this into two sentences (probably ending the first sentence after the word “opinion”).

    “It seemed a bit off to call them the Six.” There might be a more descriptive adjective available than “off” here.
    “No emotion was betrayed…” I’d recommend rephrasing this in a “positive” sense, in terms of what he IS doing rather than what he is NOT doing (not showing emotion). Does that make sense? In this case, you could probably work in the word “curtly” or “professionally” to show that this is just part of the job and he’s not really into it.

    “Perhaps Pathos would call in the morning with news of a job for him.” I’d recommend revising around the phrase “with news of a job for him.” The easiest way would probably be to change it to “with a new job for him.” However, I’d recommend a more radical revision like “Perhaps Pathos would have work for him tomorrow.”
    I like the last sentence.

  114. Wingson 30 Oct 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Oddly enough, I’ve just discovered that all the female characters in Darkstar Rising are minorities – Instinct being African American, Alcatraz being Hispanic, and Hikari being Japanese.

    Okay, here’s the remastered version.

    ———-

    Darkstar’s singed and battered cloak whipped about his ankles, occasionally snagging on smoldering furniture. The walls around him blazed as he wove his way through the burning rubble. Darkstar cursed under his breath as a new hole was singed though the dark fabric. He glanced down at the child he held in his arms and shifted his cloak to shield the small boy’s face from the smoke. The child looked so small and innocent, not seemingly enough to merit a rescue from the esteemed Six. Although they probably deigned to rescue every cat from every tree in ____, Darkstar’s priorities were slightly higher on the scale.

    In retrospect, it seemed a bit off to call them the Six, now that only five heroes remained. Then again, none of them had asked for Darkstar’s opinion, nor were they ever likely to, as Darkstar had never fit their image of a superhero. Unlike the mighty Six, he wasn’t dumb enough to work for free.

    Darkstar remained impassive as he narrowly sidestepped a burning support, his cape just missing it as the house began to crumble slowly. Curtly he set the child down outside at the feet of one of the fireman. He said nothing as he turned away from the building in flames and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    Perhaps Pathos would call in the morning with news of a job for him. He smiled into the darkness.

    Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done.

    ——-

    I was also happy with the last sentence, the one I’m using finally has the tone I want.

    I am requiring assistance in naming Darkstar’s city – unlike the Specials, Darkstar Rising is not set in the real world (For instance, New York is quite prominent in TAWNBT). I don’t want something uber-edgy (No “Bludhaven”s please), but I also don’t want something ridiculously lighthearted. Anyone up for helping?

    - Wings

  115. Holliequon 31 Oct 2009 at 3:56 am

    Bluecastle? Brittingham? New Verde? *random suggestions*

    Good luck with NaNo, Wings! I can’t wait for midnight.

  116. Wingson 31 Oct 2009 at 11:14 am

    I kinda like New Verde…

    - Wings

  117. Wingson 31 Oct 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I am officially terrified about NaNo. Considering I’m pretty much not allowed to use the computer, there’s about a 0.001 chance I’ll actually finish…

    *emits a wave of fear which goes on to hit someone in the face*

    - Wings

  118. Holliequon 31 Oct 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Don’t worry about it, Wings! 1700 words a day is not nearly as bad as it seems.

    Anyway, even if you don’t finish you will have a huge boost to your story as far as words go. And you can try again next year. :)

    I get for start writing in about 20 minutes (yes, I am staying up until midnight to write). I’m so excited. :D I hope this story works out…

  119. Wingson 18 Nov 2009 at 10:50 am

    A few little details about Shift…

    Shift fooled Hikari and the rest of the world into thinking he’s dead by cutting off part of his arm and leaving something precious which he would never part with (A ring given to him by Hikari) with either a mook or merely leaving it somewhere. He’s described as charismatic, an excellent actor, and (by Hikari) attractive.

    Hmmm….If I were to liken my universe (Henceforth dubbed the Wingverse) to the Marvel Universe/DC Universe, Darkstar is probably Batman or the Punisher (He even has Alcatraz as a non-romantic Catwoman) and the Specials are the X-Men, the Six being something like…the Avengers! Yeah…

    - Wings

  120. Wingson 28 Nov 2009 at 9:26 pm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkstar_%28comics%29

    I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Should I be worried?

    - Wings

  121. B. Macon 28 Nov 2009 at 9:46 pm

    I’m not a lawyer, so take this for what it’s worth.

    Marvel and DC are notoriously aggressive about protecting their names. Furthermore, Darkstar is a pretty distinct name. If the name were more generic, I think you’d be less legally exposed. I’d suspect that a distinct name (like Darkstar or Agent Orange) is more likely to arouse legal concern because it can be more readily tied to a particular creative work or works.

    I would recommend looking into alternatives. I don’t think that it would affect a publisher’s decision to work with you or not, but it’d be useful to have other options if the editor would like a change. How much does the name matter to you? For example, if I changed my series name from Superhero Nation, I would have to redo my cover’s logo (~$50) and I’d lose the benefit of being associated with the phrase “Superhero Nation” through this website. Would it cost you anything to try an alternative?

  122. Wingson 29 Nov 2009 at 11:25 am

    Gweh…I really liked Darkstar…

    Hmmm…*drags in Darkstar* How about Shade?

    Darkstar: Taken by DC.

    Wings: Er…Midnight?

    Darkstar: Taken, cliche, and girly.

    Wings: *evil smile* Twilight?

    Darkstar: Hell no.

    Wings: What about Darken?

    Darkstar: It appears suitable, and it’s not taken…Hm. I shall consider that one.

    Wings: *turns to captive studio audience* What do you guys think?

    - Wings

  123. ShardReaperon 29 Nov 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Sounds fine. What about Eclipse or Nightshade?

  124. B. Macon 29 Nov 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Nightshade’s DC and Marvel. Eclipse Comics was the name of a now defunct publisher, but as far as I can tell it hasn’t been used as a character’s name.

  125. Wingson 29 Nov 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Dangit..I have a Nightshade in my other review forum…

    Anyone got a rename for a female animal shapeshifter? Hmmm…

    - Wings

  126. B. Macon 29 Nov 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I wouldn’t recommend worrying too much about character names. Keep your eye on the prize– as long as you don’t try something brazen like naming a character Spiderman, a publisher can iron out the legal problems after offering you a contract. Just focus on writing something good enough to publish. The publisher may ask for a name change later, but I wouldn’t recommend spending much time worrying about it now.

  127. Wingson 01 Dec 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Okay!

    Now, a little useless blurblike thingy…

    I’ve noticed that overall Darkstar Rising is definitely Darker And Edgier than How To Save The World (Although The Apocalypse Will Not Be Televised and the Third Book are pushing the series as a whole into a darker style), mainly due to some of the issues explored (The Synth/Masochist relationship and Alcatraz’s mental problems being most prominent). However, I’m balancing this with a number of Take Thats directed at superhero cliches (Red, white and blue costumes, the fact that no social workers go after superheroes for having underage sidekicks, capes, etc.). Yay for balance, anyway.

    - Wings

  128. Wingson 15 Jan 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I have returned. Did you miss me?

    Darken’s (Formerly Darkstar) book planning is coming along well, I have a chunk of the first chapter almost finished. It’s the first time I’ve written in Hikari’s POV, so I’m hoping it worked. Here goes:

    ————

    It was with distaste that Hikari handed the money to the mercenary, and with disgust that she watched him turn away without another word. Tucking the folded bills into some hidden pocket within his cloak, he paused, turning around. “I’ll expect a larger payment for my services next time.”

    Opening her mouth to retort, the slender Japanese woman caught herself before she said something she would regret later. As much as she hated to admit it, the Six needed Darken. Instead, she bit her lip and turned on her heel, walking back towards the building. Hikari did her best to ignore the faint laughter emanating from the cloaked figure as the automatic doors slid shut behind her. “Computer, lock the entrances.” The subtle sound of electronic locks clicking shut reassured her as she entered the elevator, ignoring the endless loop of the tinny music within.

    One the top floor, Hikari gratefully sat down on the overlarge white sofa within. She straightened her mask, the crescent moon shape settling back over her face, and sighed.

    “Rough day, huh?”

    Hikari nodded as the taller woman settled down next to her. Instinct was tall and powerfully built, the intimidating ex-fighter a force to be reckoned with. “Dealing with that mercenary again? Darken?”

    Hikari buried her face in her hands with a groan. “Yes. First we start hiring someone to take care of the crimes we can’t get to; soon we’re going to be paying the government to clean up _____ instead of the other way around.” Hikari looked up, taking off her mask as she did so. “God, we can’t keep this up. Where are all those eager wannabe heroes now?”

    Instinct leaned over. “Look, I know it’s getting tougher to keep doing what we do. It’s what we all signed up for.” She laid a comforting hand on Hikari’s shoulder. “You don’t have to do this by yourself, Noriko.”

    Hikari stiffened, although whether the movement was caused by the touch or the usage of her civilian name was unclear. She stood up sharply, donning her mask. “No civilian names in the HQ, Instinct.” Her cape whisked around her as she stalked off toward the conference room. “Meeting in ten. Go find the others, will you?”

    ————-

    The blank space is reserved for the still-unnamed city. Really have to fix that sometime…

    Later on inbook, several deceased/fallen heroes are mentioned in passing, the first known one being Arach (As in Arachne), a recently deceased superhero who utilized a multi-limbed exoskeleton suit. Kinda like the bizarre heroic hybrid of Doctor Octopus and Spiral.

    Does anyone know the name for Alcatraz’s sort-of mental fixation with locks?

    - Wings

  129. Wingson 16 Jan 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Anyone home?

    - Wings

  130. Holliequon 16 Jan 2010 at 2:16 pm

    “It was with distaste that Hikari handed the money to the mercenary, and with disgust that she watched him turn away without another word.”
    I think “distaste” and “disgust” have very similar meanings, so the use here is a bit… I can’t think of the word, dammit, but I recommend finding a replacement for one of them. Also “without another word” is contradicted only a sentence or two later when he speaks. :P

    *double-take* Noriko was in Battle Royale! Haha. I found the coincidence amusing.

    A few things. Instinct’s role/Hikari’s relationship with him isn’t incredibly clear. I think you could expand on your description of him a bit. Also, I think it would be worth expanding on the opening scene somewhat – the circumstances behind the payment, etc.

    This bit too: “Hikari stiffened, although whether the movement was caused by the touch or the usage of her civilian name was unclear.”
    This is seperating us from Hikari’s POV. If it starts from her perspective, it should stay that way. So, if the touch is what really causes her to feel uncomfortable, the reader should be shown this.

    Otherwise, I think you’re off to a great start here! I like Hikari’s character.

  131. Wingson 16 Jan 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I chose the name “Noriko” for Hikari because is was a Meaningful Name without being too meaningful – according to the Internet, it means “law child” or “rule child”. Slightly subverted since she only became her current uptight and mildly paranoid self after Shift’s death, before, she was a lighthearted idealist.

    Note to self: figure out how to work in the line “Does it hurt being that uptight all the time?”. Only problem is, this could have been directed at/come from two different sets of people: from Darken to Hikari, or from Synth to Masochist.

    In the next segment, we get the rest of the team – scholarly Masochist, mischievous Synth, and hyperactive Hummingbird. I shall go start writing it!

    - Wings

  132. Ghoston 20 Jan 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Hey wings,
    Long time no comment. So I have brought myself up to speed on the progress of your story and it looks like it is coming along nicely. I see that you changed your character’s name. I liked darkstar, and darken is ok, but I thought I would mention that you could always go with an ordinary name like logan, cable, or bishop from marvel. The only reason I metion it is because your character seems alot like those characters; deadly, mysterious, and works outside the system. Also, your character is more of a supermerc than a superhero, so a superhero type name may not be needed. For that reason, I suggest that you go with a single name such as Chase, Gage, Cyrus, Cole, Cain(I like this one very bad!@#), or Malec (another one that I like pronounced Mal-ek).

  133. Roon 21 Jan 2010 at 6:19 pm

    If I can put my humble 2 cents in, I like the idea that ghost has concerning the name for Darken. But i really like how your story is shaping up.

  134. Wingson 21 Jan 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Reviews! I feel so special…

    Anyway, I’m getting back to work on another segment of the to-be-retitled Darkstar Rising. Wish me luck, cause I’m probably gonna need it…

    - Wings

  135. Wingson 07 Feb 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Been a while since I posted last, but hopefully this will make up for my idleness.

    I’ve been putting the finishing touches on a new novel idea, the tentatively titled Twisted Fantasy. The direct descendant of failed idea Ai, this one combines aspects of a lot of my old stories.

    The base of the premise is the old Trapped In TV Land idea, turned Up To Eleven. An extremely dark and frightening eleven.

    In the near future, the most popular video game in the world is the fantasy RPG Verse, played by thousands of people worldwide. Among its players are Elaine, a relentless perfectionist who sees the game as another way of achieving perfection, ____ (Who really needs a name), an intimidating introvert who sees the game as a way to reinvent himself, and Damien, a popular basketball player who sees the game as a way to escape from his virtually perfect world.

    When the players of Verse begin falling into inexplainable comas worldwide, the world is catapulted into a state of turmoil – and the players themselves find out that Verse is not what it appears to be. Trapped in a world filled with mindless drones in lieu of humans and feral monsters at every turn, their very survival is a longshot, let alone their return to reality. Here is a small (Really, really small; I just typed it up on a whim) snippet of the first chapter:

    ——–

    It took all of Elaine’s self control not to slam her head onto the console after the goblinlike creature slashed at her with its claws, wearing a grin that was two parts triumphant and one part insane. She settled for grabbing the nearest pillow, burying her face in it, and screaming.

    “Player ICE has died.”

    “You don’t have to sound so smug about it.” Elaine muttered.

    ——–

    Much more to come,

    - Wings

    ((If someone requires the meanings of the capitalized terms, just search them on TV Tropes. That website is my GOD.))

  136. B. Macon 07 Feb 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Hmm. The concept sounds a bit similar to .hack, but it sounds like it could be interesting. Please let me know when chapter one is ready.

  137. Wingson 08 Feb 2010 at 10:43 am

    *goes off to read the TVTropes entry*

    …I didn’t realize they were that similar. I’d like to think that my overall concept for TF is different enough to get past the copyrighting people, but still…

    If my concept is close to anything, though, the (Awesome, but apparently dead as of September last year) fanfiction Fatal Error is probably the victim. The authors are getting into the acknowledgements, even if I never discover who they are. Especially if I never discover who they are.

    I shall go off and write.

    - Wings

  138. Pon 08 Feb 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Due to me being an addicted gamer in the online world, I know that 90% of all MMORPG’s are fantasy based. (Though, this is the genre most gamers will understand.) Due to the game itself being the setting of a portion of the story, I would say that a change in the games genre could differentiate it from most other novels with the same idea: virtual world gone wrong.

    However, this is asking for both a large plot change and even a title change, so consider this to be me simply jabbering if the idea is not a good one.

    Carry on.

    P.S. I would like to offer to give you advice on how a gamer acts while playing, and how they interact with other players.

  139. Wingson 09 Feb 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Here is another (Possibly the final) section of chapter one of Darken’s story:

    —————-

    “Where’s Masochist?” Hikari asked, absentmindedly playing with a paperclip.

    “He’s making another food run.” Synth tilted his chair backwards on two legs as he answered. He repositioned the sunglasses that sat precariously in his shaggy blond hair. “Someone drank all the regular soda again.” Returning his chair to its intended position, he poked the forehead of the boy next to him. “His fault.”

    “It was just two bottles!” Hummingbird retorted in a typical eleven-year-old manner. For once, he momentarily put down the fast-food soda he was drinking. “It’s not like you’re gonna die without it!”

    With one quick movement, the soda had been removed from Hummingbird’s possession. Synth held it over his head in one hand, his usual mischievous smirk pasted on his face. “Hypocritical humor, kid. What now, huh? What now?” He teased the younger boy.

    Hummingbird took several steps backward, preparing to tackle Synth, just as someone knocked on the door.

    Setting down the piece of wire which had once been a paperclip, Hikari called out. “Come in.”

    Pushing the door open with one hand and holding a plastic grocery bag in the other, the missing member of the team walked in. Masochist set the newly acquired soda on the table in front of Hummingbird, and sat down next to Synth. “Arach’s dead.”

    The effect of his words was as if the temperature in the room had just dropped twenty degrees. Hikari stood up abruptly, her cold eyes piercing the tardy hero. “What?”

    “He was the guy with six arms, right?” Hummingbird asked Synth, who had wordlessly put Hummingbird’s drink back on the table and merely nodded in answer. A dark look crossed Instinct’s face, and she leaned forward to listen more closely.

    “The police found him first. They still haven’t determined the cause of death, but just from the damage to his exoskeletal suit, they’re pretty sure it’s a powered villain who killed him. There ‘s only a few weapons that could destroy it, and none of them are easy to get ahold of unless you know someone like Dr. Destructor.” Masochist said, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes as if to try and erase the day’s events.

    Pathos.” Hikari half-growled, slamming one silver gloved hand onto the table.

    “He’s the only possible suspect.” Masochist replied quietly.

    Hikari slumped back into her chair, her hand over her eyes. Arach had been one of the original solo heroes, and one of the few remaining solo after Pathos had first appeared. Arach had been a good man, a true hero.

    He hadn’t deserved to die like a dog.

    ———-

    In case you don’t know, Arach’s name is derived from Arachne of Greek myths.

    - Wings

  140. B. Macon 10 Feb 2010 at 2:45 am

    I’m having trouble keeping the stories apart, so please bear with me.

    “The effect of his words was as if the temperature in the room had just dropped twenty degrees.” What would you think like “It felt like the temperature dropped twenty degrees”?

    If we’re supposed to take Dr. Destructor seriously as a potential murderer, I’d recommend giving him a more serious name. Right now, his name in a scene that’s supposed to be sober feels a bit narmish. Umm, at this preposterously late hour, Dr. Nitrite and Decay sound okay as somewhat serious alternatives.

    There are some punctuation issues with the dialogue. “There ’s only a few weapons that could destroy it, and none of them are easy to get ahold of unless you know someone like Dr. Destructor.” Masochist said… The period after Destructor should be a comma. “Get a hold of” could be shortened to “find” or “obtain.”

    There’s really only one possible suspect? How do they know it wasn’t Dr. Destructor?

    I’d recommend developing Arach in a more personal, fresh way. I think that the scene will be more emotionally effective if we feel attached to him as a person rather than as a plot device. For example, do any of the characters have a touching personal anecdote about him?

    “He’s the only possible suspect.” Masochist replied quietly. The period after suspect should be a comma. “DIALOGUE,” he said.

    This concept–showing superheroes reacting to a death– has been tried quite a few times before. I’d recommend playing it in a way that feels more distinct to your story and characters.

  141. Wingson 10 Feb 2010 at 10:10 am

    Dr. Destructor was a last-minute addition at ten at night, I don’t know what I was thinking either. XD

    Hmm…Hummingbird might have something to say about Arach…

    What other ways ways could I make this scene more distinct?

    - Wings

  142. B. Macon 11 Feb 2010 at 11:28 am

    Maybe describe the death more?

    Maybe discuss some of the evidence? It seems like they’re jumping to conclusions based on nothing. “He’s the only possible suspect” is a pretty gutsy claim. Right now, that sounds like he’s trying to suggest that Pathos is the only person in the world that could have possibly killed Arach. (I don’t think that’s what you intended). Maybe he’s the only person in the world that would have killed Arach in this particular fashion. But we’d need to know more about how he died. Why does Pathos jump to mind? Why does it look like something he’d do? What’s his modus operandi like?

    Maybe discuss what their next move is? If they’re really invested in this case, it’d probably mean heading over to the crime scene right now to begin investigating. (Or, if the police won’t let them check out the crime scene, they might try infiltrating the scene or stealing the police report or whatever). Or looking for witnesses. Or checking media reports on the crime. Or gathering a list of likely suspects. (I would imagine that the suspect pool for a crime of this magnitude would be pretty small, and many of them are probably in prison). Or speaking with contacts in the underworld.

    Alternately, if you’d like to demonstrate that they’re really impulsive (or caught in the moment), maybe they’d begin investigating by looking for Pathos or one of his associates. However, based on what the scene has shown so far, they don’t know much (if anything) about the way he died. Running after Pathos based on a guess does not strike me as a particularly competent course of action.



    If we really ARE supposed to know for sure it’s Pathos, I’d recommend having him leave a message at the scene to raise the stakes. “You’re next, Hikari!”

  143. Wingson 09 Apr 2010 at 6:17 pm

    I have returned at last.

    As you may have read in my first forum, I’ve been revamping both HTSTW and Darkstar Rising. The largest changes I’ve made to the latter have been the additions of new characters and the creation of others who may or may not make the cut.

    Shock and Awe: A duo of bombers who escaped from prison at the start of the book. They probably won’t play a major role.

    Heroic: Thought of as the first superhero team of all time – and called the greatest. Due jointly to the fact that the team’s heroes are no longer in their prime and the Eclipse/Retra controversy in recent years, the team is disbanding.

    Eclipse: An Emotionless Girl of few words whose powers are enhanced strength, speed, and senses when the moon is visible. Came out of the closet along with Retra a few years before the events of Darkstar Rising. Nurses a deep grudge against the superhero community for turning on her and finds it ironic that Hikari needs her help.

    Retra (Name may change): A Genki Girl whose powers relate to psychometry and retrocognition – essentially, she can see the past of objects. Although as of now it’s left ambiguous what exactly happened to her after she and Eclipse were forced into retirement, the possible outcomes are her death, either by the hands of Pathos or other causes, being in a coma, or that her powers drove her insane.

    There are also a few heroes and villain concepts that may be used in the possible sequel:

    Mistral and Sirocco: A brother and sister pair of air manipulators. Their powers are relatively limited, as neither can fly unaided or change the weather, making it more like aform of tactile telekinesis used to enhance their physical abilities.

    Marionette (Name may change if it is taken, most likely to Strings): A maybe-villain who uses voodoo doll-inspired puppets to manipulate her foes. Probably the sidekick of a more formidable enemy.

    - Wings

  144. Wingson 03 May 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Okay, here’s a small question. How should I tell the story of Darkstar Rising?

    - Third person limited, alternating between Hikari and Darken.

    - Third person limited, alternating between Hikari, Darken, and Masochist.

    - First person, Darken’s POV.

    - First person, Hikari’s POV.

    - Third person omniscient.

    - Third person limited, Darken’s POV.

    - Third person limited, Hikari’s POV.

    The POV style I’m using is kind of important, mainly since different stories have different vibes and voices. For instance, Hunter’s Abomination is in first person using Hunter 87′s point of view, HTSTW is thus far in third person limited from Meg’s point of view, Twisted Fantasy…unsure, but currently it’s third person limited and alternating between Sky and Elaine.

    I’d also really, really like some ideas for a better title, since I am not happy with Darkstar Rising. Please?

    Oh, and there have been a few updates to Hunter’s Abomination:

    As you may or may not know, the premise of Hunter’s Abomination is that of a seemingly utopian future after an energy pulse purified the air worldwide, however, the pulse went on to cause a series of mutations in the humans which caused children to occasionally be born with animalistic appearances and skills. As I’ve said before, I am deconstructing most aspects of Petting Zoo People, one of my main ones being the fact that they are never disfigured/honestly horrific in appearance, as a animal/human hybrid of sorts would obviously be so, as well as the fact that they only receive favorable physical or useful traits (Your average catgirl, for instance, at most has misplaced ears, a tail, and a -nya verbal tic).

    For instance, take my bird mutant (to be specific, he’s tentatively classed as a Brown Falcon hybrid), Bryant Wright aka Gold. Most bird-humans (See Maximum Ride for the most prominent ones) have wings and are capable of flight. Bryant does not have wings, and ended up with avian legs and claws, a few feathers growing out of his hair here and there, and bird of prey-level sight. His mutation is more of a hindrance than a help.

    Another example is the unnamed bat mutant (Again, to be specific, he is most likely a Silver-haired or Silverwing Bat), only featured in the sidestory Blind. Unlike Bryant, he does have wings, although they’re too small to fly with, has enhanced senses of smell and hearing, small fangs and silver-tipped hair, and is effectively blind, using a crude echolocation to “see”.

    Other notable ones are Irene Grey aka Silver, a fish mutant, and the unnamed snake mutant seen in the main story.

    Heck, pretty much the only named mutant without any seeming drawbacks is the only one you knew previously: Gareth Talone, alias Bronze. He possesses superhuman agility and senses, feline ears and tail, small claws and fangs, and is effectively mute, although it is unclear whether this is linked to his mutation or to something else (It’s thought that he could speak if he really wanted to).

    I would like your assistance in helping create additional Abominations. Although the main characters (Evra/Hunter 87, Bryant/Gold, Irene/Silver, and Gareth/Bronze in the main story, Hunter 93 and the bat mutant in Blind) have already been created, I am in dire need of things for Evra to kill- er, supporting characters. Help, please?

    - Wings, who needs your help.

  145. B. Macon 04 May 2010 at 10:19 am

    I’m having trouble keeping track of the stories, so please take this all with appropriate skepticism…

    I get the impression that the reader is meant to be uncertain about Darken’s motives and actions. If so, having Darken as one of the narrators would probably be counterproductive. The only sort of character that I think could pull off such a role would be someone that is SO spontaneous that he hasn’t decided yet whether he’s going to betray his team five minutes from now or someone like Two-Face that leaves his choices to an unpredictable system. But if the character actually DOES plan (or even seriously countenance) the betrayal in advance, I think readers would feel cheated if he is the POV and he doesn’t reveal that. (Unless you have a good reason built into the frame. For example, if the story is written as a diary, the character might hide potentially dangerous information at a time he suspects they might read it behind his back).



    In Hunter’s Abomination, what are the characters trying to accomplish? (You laid out the premise, but not the plot).

    I’d recommend sticking with a single work, finishing that, and then moving on to any potential sequels or what have you. You only get paid for completing manuscripts. ;-)

  146. Wingson 05 May 2010 at 12:39 pm

    My main focus right now is Darkstar Rising. For instance, here is yet another draft of the prologue:

    ———-

    The silence of the night was broken by the wailing of sirens and the crackling of flames. Darken makes his way to the building’s exit, taking care to keep his cloak from being caught on the still-burning debris. He cursed under his breath as a new hole was ripped in the dark fabric. The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black costume. She seemed too insignificant, almost unworthy of being rescued by the esteemed Six. Although they probably deigned to rescue every cat from every tree in ____, Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.

    As he shifted the material of his cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke, his thoughts wandered back to the Six. Sidestepping a burning support, he left the now completely engulfed building and curtly set the girl down in front of the nearest fireman. Without another word he turned away from the blazing building and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    —————–

    I’ve noticed that one of my weakest points in writing is description, so I was trying to improve that in this draft. My older works tend to be almost too…to the point, I suppose. I’d just state facts, and they read more like an embellished summary than an actual story.

    I might stick with first-person limited with Hikari, but (as with HTSTW) I think it will be harder to pitch a book to a target audience of mostly teenage boys if I only use a female protagonist. This has worked, as in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield, but I suppose that it will be difficult to pull off.

    Third person limited so far has worked well for HTSTW, although I’ve had to cut out a few scenes I liked (The Connor-centric one right after Meg disappears and three or four Ian-centric chapters), but I think that so far it’s worked well, as did the setting change. I think it could work well fro Darkstar Rising, but with the amount of ways I could expand on the other characters and their motivations, I’m debating making it more of an ensemble piece (A book that did this well and with much hilarity was Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett, but I digress).

    Hunter’s Abomination is actually less action-oriented than I thought it would be…It’s mainly centered on Hunter 87′s capture of three of the most devious Abominations (Codenamed Gold, Silver, and Bronze for their prestige amongst both the Abomination and Hunter communities and for the honor their captor would receive) and her steady realization that she’s been fighting for the wrong side all along. Overall, I think it’s more about the characters than the world around them, which is surprising.

    Like I said earlier, my main focus is on Darkstar Rising, although I am revamping the ten or so chapters of HTSTW that I have saved. I’m also debating removing Heather’s character merely since she’s sort of one-dimensional right now and not exactly an interesting character to write either (On the same note, I’m much happier with the villains of Darkstar Rising than with those of HTSTW, although if you count Pyric as a villain the odds get slightly better).

    - Wings

  147. Wingson 20 May 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I have a new scene of sorts for Darkstar Rising…it’s somewhat of a re-interpretation of the first chapter’s beginning.

    ———-

    “Take your money and get out.” Hikari handed the money to the cloaked mercenary with an air of distaste. After holding the wad of bills up to the light as if to detect some forgery, he tucked it into some hidden pocket within his cloak. Darken turned away from the silver costumed hero, then paused to unleash one final indignity. “I’ll expect a larger payment for my services next time.”

    Hikari was certain that he was smirking underneath his mask. Opening her mouth to retort, she settled for biting her lip, making a violent gesture with one gloved hand, and curtly beginning her retreat back to her headquarters.

    Only to hear something emanating from the mercenary as he vanished into the shadows. Something that sounded suspiciously like muffled laughter.

    It took all of Hikari’s self restraint merely to storm back into the building, the automatic doors sliding shut behind her.

    ————

    Things I like about this segment:
    - Darken and Hikari’s rivalry-relationship-thingy is established from the beginning.
    - It’s more interesting than the original draft and shows off more characterization.

    Things I dislike about this segment:
    - The Darken in this sequence behaves more like a straightforward Jerk With A Heart Of Gold than his original characterization of a Deadpan Snarker. So far, I’m not sure if I like this divergence or not.
    - The tone of this scene feels more like that of How To Save The World’s. It’s more lighthearted than I intended. Again, not sure if I like this change.

    Opinions?

    - Wings

  148. Wingson 29 May 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Another segment, I have. This comes right after the one previous.

    ———————

    As much as she hated to admit it, the Six needed Darken to stay afloat. She strode into the waiting elevator, ignoring the tinny music playing within.

    The mechanical doors slid open silently as the elevator reached the top floor. As her sense of professionalism headed for the hills, Hikari collapsed onto the white sofa in the room’s center. She straightened her mask, the crescent moon shape settling neatly back onto her face, and sighed.

    “Rough day, huh?” Instinct settled down next to Hikari, the tall, powerfully built woman in stark contrast to the slender, silver-costumed figure beside her.

    “You know me too well.” Hikari replied.

    “Dealing with that mercenary again? Darken?”

    “Yes, Darken.” Hikari spat out the name as if it pained her to say it. “Hiring mercenaries like him off to take care of the crimes we can’t get to is only the beginning. Soon, we’ll be paying the government to clean up ____ instead of the other way around.” She buried her face in her hands. “God, we can’t keep this up. Where are all those eager wannabe heroes now?”

    Instinct leaned over slightly. “I know it’s getting tougher to keep doing what we do. But someone’s got to watch this city’s streets, and we signed up for the job.” She laid a comforting hand on Hikari’s shoulder. “You don’t have to handle this yourself, Noriko-”

    Hikari stiffened and got up quickly, her businesslike attitude returning. “No civilian names in the HQ, Instinct.” Her cape whisked behind her as she stalked off toward the conference room. “Meeting in ten. Go find the others, will you?” The door shut behind her, leaving the ex-brawler behind.

    “You’re not alone, Hikari.” The words left Instinct’s mouth to fall upon nonexistent ears.

    —————–

    Oh, and the last scene in the final battle has changed:

    The original ending: Darken and Shift fight as Hikari breaks out of her prison. Darken gains the upper hand and is about to kill Shift. Hikari stops him, distracting Darken long enough for Shift to injure him severely. After a conversation between Hikari and Shift in which Shift’s true motives are revealed (“I always said I was working to eliminate evil. By eliminating everything good, evil is all that remains, and therefore, evil ceases to exist.”). The next bits are a bit fuzzy as I never got around to honestly thinking about them, but Shift did something to Darken that angered Hikari…Cue the trope Holy Hand Grenade in the form of Hikari’s photokinesis…

    The revised ending: Darken and Shift fight as Hikari breaks out of her prison. Darken gains the upper hand and is about to kill Shift. During all of this, Hikari has found one of Alcatraz’s discarded guns (This detail existed in the original version, but was never expanded on. Alcatraz was defeated by Instinct prior to this scene), and when Darken is about to deliver the final blow, Shift calls her name. Acting half on instant and half on past emotions, Hikari shoots Darken. The following events remain the same, but I felt that this sequence was more memorable.

    - Wings

  149. bretton 08 Jun 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Wings, I gotta say man, I freakin love this story! Do you have a lotof stories in mind for Darken

  150. Steton 08 Jun 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I’m coming late to this, and don’t have a Big Picture idea, but a little niggling thing I’d watch for you, if I were you, is explaining the unnecessary:

    * Hikari stiffened and got up quickly, her businesslike attitude returning. “No civilian names in the HQ, Instinct.” Her cape whisked behind her as she stalked off toward the conference room. “Meeting in ten. Go find the others, will you?” The door shut behind her, leaving the ex-brawler behind.

    That’s all good, but ‘her businesslike attitude returning’ is just telling what you’ve already done a great job -showing-. I’d change to:

    * Hikari stiffened and stood. “No civilian names in the HQ, Instinct.” Her cape whisked behind her as she stalked toward the conference room. “Meeting in ten. Go find the others, will you?”

    You cut a few words, and everything that remains stronger. Of course, that hardly matters in an early draft–but still, something to watch for.

    Also, I think your question re. POV is pretty important. I’m not sure what genre you’re writing, but omniscient is an incredibly tough sell–usually multiple third is best, though first sells too, especially, I think, with YA. When you stick within a single POV, you’re at your strongest, but watch for little slips like this: “Darken turned away from the silver costumed hero, then paused to unleash one final indignity,” and “Hikari stiffened and got up quickly, her businesslike attitude returning” and “The words left Instinct’s mouth to fall upon nonexistent ears.”

    (Ignoring, for the moment, that the ears still exist.)

  151. Wingson 08 Jun 2010 at 6:41 pm

    I was making an attempt at using third-person omniscient, which I’ve never written before. WINGSFAIL.

    As long as everyone’s here…I’m having a lot of trouble with a new title, as Darkstar Rising is not only odd, but Darken’s name has been changed since. I’ve tried countless new ones and variations (Literally countless, I spent an hour behind a title generator). Anyone have any suggestions?

    - Wings

  152. B. Macon 08 Jun 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Maybe something like Dusk, because the dusk separates night and day like he sort of separates the good characters from the evil ones. Or something that starts with the prefix Equ- (balance).

  153. Wingson 08 Jun 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Here are some of the ones I wasn’t completely pleased with.

    The Space Between Heroes and Villains

    The City of Fallen Heroes

    Hero By Night

    I’d like to throw “dusk” in there somewhere, I’m just not sure how.

    - Wings

  154. Steton 08 Jun 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Omniscient is tough. Always good to try new things, but … well, -my- attempts always fall completely flat, that’s all I know!

    The Fine Line
    The Shattered Mask
    Fallen Heroes
    Rising Dusk
    Dawn Falls

    What’s it about? I don’t mean the plot; I mean the … theme, I guess. That’s such a terrible question.

  155. Wingson 08 Jun 2010 at 8:39 pm

    New one:

    Unmasking The Darkness

    I kinda like The Shattered Mask.

    Maybe Heroic Illusion as a title? Who knows.

    The theme? …Thus far, it’s kinda vague. I probably mentioned it a while ago, but I’ve completely forgotten.

    …The overall goal is a slightly more humorous (and idealistic, to help balance the cynical versions of this idea) deconstruction of superheroes in general, from why no one in authority (Social services?) seems to care about child sidekicks and the difference between clean-cut Superman types and the rougher Punisher types in a typical superhero universe.

    - Wings

  156. B. Macon 08 Jun 2010 at 10:01 pm

    “why no one in authority (Social services?) seems to care about child sidekicks…” Indeed! The only case that comes to mind is one police officer in the Kickass movie pointing out that Big Daddy has essentially brainwashed his daughter/sidekick into a killing machine. (Interestingly, the scene was not in the comic book–I think the movie-makers added it because they didn’t want to look like they were endorsing the intense violence and brainwashing).



    While few people care about the plight of child sidekicks, I think the difference between a Superman-style hero and a Punisher-style hero comes up quite a lot. For example, when the Punisher makes an appearance, particularly in a children-friendly medium like a Spiderman cartoon, the protagonists usually get at least uneasy about his methods and sometimes try to stop him. For example, JJ Jameson endorses the Punisher and his sane underling, editor Robbie “The Only Black Guy in 1994 New York City” Robertson, reminds him how nutso the Punisher is. In the Archie/Punisher crossover*, the sheer ridiculousness of having somebody as violent as the Punisher in an Archie comic was used for comedic effect.

    *I swear I’m not making this up.

  157. Wingson 09 Jun 2010 at 9:40 am

    I’ve head of the Archie/Punisher crossover. I can only wonder what the writers were on at the time.

    As to how I’ll interpret the child sidekick thing, I can already imagine each of the heroes on the team having a different cover story for Hummingbird, from “He’s my son from the future!” to “It all started one day when a meteor fell from the sky…”.

    - Wings

  158. Wingson 18 Jun 2010 at 10:05 am

    Hunter’s Abomination has been shelved due to the following:
    - I was more found of the setting itself than the characters
    - Going off that, I didn’t particularly like the existing cast’s personalities, although I loved their designs
    - The plot was, at best, nonexistent

    The majority of Between Light and Darkness has been scrapped due to the following:
    - The characters aren’t all that great
    - There are bits I really like, but there are also bits I despise
    - The world’s had too many Romeo and Juliet stories. Moving on.

    Twisted Fantasy is being pondered upon. Since the most significant change thus far is that Zel cut his hair, we will move on.

    Darken’s book is now a series due to the adding of its sequel. Existing details:
    - The main character is the son of Darken and Hikari. Goes by the title Will, although if this is his codename or his actual name is unknown at present. Did not inherit any abilities from his parents, and never will; however, as the son of two of the greatest barehanded fighters in the superhero world, he’s picked up a few things. Classed as a Badass Normal, and the first of his kind to take a role as the main character.
    - Air manipulators, at long last, have made their debut. Mistral and Sirocco, a brother and sister pair of French ancestry possessing limited aerokinesis.
    - The other member of Will’s two-man team is confirmed to be Candle, a hotheaded (no pun intended) mutant superhero superiority activist (Effectively, he believes that the superhero field should only be pursued by those with actual powers, and doesn’t believe that non-powered individuals can make it; which is a problem when he’s assigned to work with Will) with limited pyrotechnic abilities. Hates his superhero name. Really, really hates it.
    - The character acting as Will’s love interest has been confirmed to be Strings, the sidekick to a mostly incompetent villain. Has possession powers based around voodoo dolls and puppets. Inspired by the likes of Catwoman and the fifth Ravager; taking her hair color from the latter. Never speaks.
    - Hummingbird, of all people, is now the leader of the superhero team known as the Six. Apparently married to a civilian. Changed his name when he went from an effective child sidekick to the rest of his team to a full-fledged superhero in his own right. Assigns Will and Candle to work together, much to the latter’s displeasure.
    - Hikari, Darken, Synth, Masochist, and Instinct have mostly retired from active duty.
    - This story takes place about 15-20 years after the events of Darken’s book.

    Miscellaneous details:
    - Darken’s book has been confirmed as existing in the same universe of HTSTW, although the stories aren’t directly connected (yet). HTSTW can be said to exist in a different city and a few decades earlier than the events of Darken’s book. I might throw a few allusions to HTSTW into Darken’s book, just to see if anyone catches them.
    - Going off the above, it’s highly probable that superheroes descended from or related to the HTSTW heroes could make cameos in Darken’s book.

    - Wings

  159. Wingson 03 Jul 2010 at 2:17 pm

    …Despite the fact that I have been on vacation and should not be doing excess pondering until I fly back home, I have had a new idea.

    Back to Normal is currently a short story, though if the idea goes over well here it might join Hunter’s Abomination as a future book. It focuses on the day-to-day life of a teenage girl who travels to a mystical world in order to save it, becoming a heroine of fantastic proportions..after returning back to her original world. It’s one of my more introspective pieces, focusing more on how she struggles to cope with everyday life and tries to fall back into the personality of the person she was before her adventures. Effectively, it’s what happens after the otherworldly hero goes back home.

    I could see a lot of things I could build off of for this. Maybe she’s gained unwanted fame because her old world knows that she saved the other world, and now that her world knows that the other exists, they’re attempting to break through, whether out of mere curiosity or for an ulterior motive. Alternatively, no one knows about the other world and believe the heroine to be insane due to her behavior as she tries to readjust to everyday life. There’s a world of possibilities (pun not intended) here to explore.

    If anything, I’ll write a short story based on the concept and put it up on Fictionpress. I’ve had a few hecklers who have pulled out the old “if you’re so knowledgeable on writing, then let’s see you try” comment, so I can kill two birds with one stone. So, what do you guys think?

    - Wings

  160. B. Macon 03 Jul 2010 at 5:21 pm

    “If anything, I’ll write a short story based on the concept and put it up on Fictionpress. I’ve had a few hecklers who have pulled out the old ‘if you’re so knowledgeable on writing, then let’s see you try’ comment, so I can kill two birds with one stone. So, what do you guys think?”

    If you want to do the story, do it because it’s right for you. I wouldn’t recommend taking the time to write one because of what hecklers think. If someone’s emotionally invested in disliking your work (and it sounds like they’ve gotten that far), it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever convince them that they were wrong.

    WHEREIN A PROSPECTIVE COMIC BOOK WRITER TRIES FAR TOO HARD TO BE PHILOSOPHICAL

    I’m reminded of a hopefully apocryphal quote about Albert Einstein from one of his professors. Einstein was a lowly government clerk in 1905 and wrote three Nobel-worthy papers, including one eventual winner. The professor wondered “how could such an idiot write such papers?” Not “How the hell did I miss genius of that caliber?” or even “How did he get so brilliant so fast?” People will often cling to their initial assessments even in spite of OVERWHELMING evidence to the contrary*.

    And, unlike a physicist, a writer’s brilliance will always be disputable. (Even a Nobel Prize in Literature or a Booker means only that you’ve impressed a small number of academics and intellectuals, which means even less than becoming a bestseller).

    *Best case scenario: people change their minds without admitting they were wrong by using words like “unexpectedly.” “Well, I was opposed to Plan A at the beginning, but then a completely unforeseeable event suddenly made it into a much better option than it was before!” rather than “I was wrong about Plan A.” I was really wrong about how much potential Ironman had to be made into an enjoyable movie.

  161. Wingson 05 Jul 2010 at 11:41 am

    To be fair, one of the hecklers has less IQ points than your average spork. It’s the slightly more intelligent one who annoys me. To arrogantly quote myself, “I’m not going to sink to her level. I’m going to plant mines on her level and laugh to myself when she stumbles into them.”

    …On the other hand, another birthday has come and gone, bringing with it delicious cake and multiple new hats. Whee.

    - Wings

  162. B. Macon 05 Jul 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Happy birthday!



    If you feel like the hecklers are not worth your time, ignore them and move on. The only three sets of people you need to please to become a successful author are 1) yourself, 2) enough readers to sustain you, and 3) your publisher/editor/agent, as applicable.

    Every copy you sell to a receptive stranger counts just as much as a copy sold to a heckler, and it’s much easier to convince receptive strangers. (Plus, if the heckler is REALLY committed, he may well buy the book anyway just to see if it’s as bad as he hopes). :-D

  163. Wingson 06 Jul 2010 at 8:55 am

    Off topic: It is okay to direct some of my readers here, right? You see, I’ve just received a message from someone in need of, and I quote, “passionate beta-readers willing to help a struggling artiste with her craft”. I’ve pointed her over here, so I hope that’s okay.

    - Wings

  164. B. Macon 06 Jul 2010 at 10:43 am

    More readers = more fun.

  165. Wingson 06 Jul 2010 at 11:40 am

    Excellent. Perhaps I will be able to get a few new faces for the site…All hail the might of the Internet!

    - Wings

  166. Wingson 08 Jul 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Okay people, I’m in need of some help.

    In part of the revised first chapter of Darken’s book, a superteam called Heroic is mentioned. However, I’m unsure what superhero names and therefore powers I should give its eight members. They’re meant to be reminiscent of the Justice League, but I’d rather they not be thinly-veiled copies.

    Effectively, I need to build an eight-member team. I already have two (Eclipse, whose senses and physical abilities are enhanced by moonlight; and Retra, who has a mixture of psychometry and retrocognition). They don’t need to have complicated powers or even personalities, only that they (a) have been around for a long time (putting them all in about their late 30s/early 40s) and (b) they’re thought of as the first superhero team in existence. I’d ideally like to create a classical group: maybe a Flying Brick type, etc.

    Can anyone help?

    - Wings

  167. Wingson 09 Jul 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Here’s the current chapter breakdown for Darken’s book. I’ve mentioned all events within the prologue and first four chapters that are important both now and in future chapters, including first introductions of characters, mentionings of events which will become more important later on, and other details.

    Prologue
    Darken introduced.
    Darken rescues child from fire.
    Darken’s powers hinted at.
    Pathos mentioned.

    Chapter 1
    Hikari introduced.
    Pays Darken, first stages of relationship w/ Darken established.
    Hikari enters Six headquarters, business facade drops.
    Instinct introduced.
    Setting established – superhero age, crime apparently rising.
    Hikari’s name revealed.
    Meeting called.

    Chapter 2
    Synth introduced.
    Hummingbird introduced.
    First stages of relationship established.
    Masochist introduced, revealing Heroic, first superhero team, to be disbanding.
    Eclipse/Retra controversy mentioned.
    Heroic heroes mentioned.
    Meeting adjourned.

    Chapter 3
    Hikari on solo mission.
    Bank robbery scene established, perpetrators small-time crooks.
    Hikari’s powers revealed.
    Hikari dispatches foes easily, revealing fighting prowess and possibly skill with throwing weapons.
    Evening.
    Reports given, day considered good.
    News of Arach’s death.
    Confirmation of murder by Pathos.

    Chapter 4
    Night.
    Pathos series of crimes detailed by Hikari.
    Systematic murder of superheroes, bodies usually disappearing and never found.
    Notes in red substance (blood?) left on areas where slain hero was last seen. Messages read (# of deaths / # of remaining heroes, followed by “(X) to go.”)
    Mentioned that Pathos/his killer(?)’s murders were less organized during the first few.
    Mentioned that some of the victims remain unknown during the earlier days.
    First known victims listed.
    Shift mentioned as the leader of the Six and Hikari’s fiancée.

    As you can see, several details in the first chapter have changed (Arach’s death being most prominent). Any comments?

    - Wings

  168. B. Macon 10 Jul 2010 at 3:11 pm

    “In part of the revised first chapter of Darken’s book, a superteam called Heroic is mentioned. However, I’m unsure what superhero names and therefore powers I should give its eight members.” Oof. Eight? I wouldn’t recommend using that many unless there’s a very good reason.

    “They’re meant to be reminiscent of the Justice League, but I’d rather they not be thinly-veiled copies.” I might be able to come up with something, but if the only thing I know about them is that they’re supposed to resemble the Justice League, the copying probably won’t be thinly-veiled. ;-)

    What are their personalities like? Does the team have a personality/style of its own? Any other distinguishing characteristics? What are some differences between Heroic and the Justice League?

  169. Wingson 10 Jul 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Heroic only plays a minor role in the overall story, with the exception of Eclipse and Retra, (Which is why they have already gained defined personalities and powers) who play a larger role later on. The other members of Heroic? Considering that they’ll probably only be mentioned once, they don’t require personalities, just names and powers in case I need to mention them again.

    I think I’ll add a few of my old concepts to the bunch, just to get rid of them. Therefore, Chainmail (with invulnerability) will take one spot.

    I’d throw in Spellbound, but she’s closer to a Magical Girl than a superhero at present…

    However, since the continued existence of the HTSTW sequel is in doubt; (For mainly two reasons: (1) Andra is starting to bother me. I think she’s mutating into a Mary Sue; and (2) The only part of the book I honesty like is the Pyric subplot) I might add some of the new characters from there to Heroic.

    - Wings

  170. B. Macon 10 Jul 2010 at 7:34 pm

    “Heroic only plays a minor role in the overall story, with the exception of Eclipse and Retra, (Which is why they have already gained defined personalities and powers) who play a larger role later on. The other members of Heroic? Considering that they’ll probably only be mentioned once, they don’t require personalities, just names and powers in case I need to mention them again.”

    If they don’t matter, I wouldn’t bother introducing them. Will they be anything but a distraction from the characters that do matter?

    One alternative would be that Eclipse and Retra are representatives of a larger group, but we hear practically nothing about their teammates. (Maybe their group is secretive?) That way, if there’s a scene where it’d be really useful to bring in a third member of Heroic, you can have him/her step in and introduce him as soon as he matters and no earlier. ;-)

  171. Wingson 10 Jul 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Effectively, Heroic is used to expand the reader’s view of the world. From the chapter where Heroic was mentioned, the reader learns

    (1) There are other superhero teams other than the Six.
    (2) Heroic is one of the first and one of the most famous superhero teams (It’s explicitly stated as being more famous than the Six, also telling that the Six are not extremely well known)
    (3) The members are apparently aging and not as good as they were in the past
    (4) Something referred to as the Eclipse/Retra controversy (In short: Two lesbian superheroines revealed to be members of a extremely conservative, old-fashioned superhero team. This becomes an important point later) apparently cost Heroic a lot of respect among both the civilian populace and other superheroes.

    In short, introducing Heroic even for a brief time does the same for the Darkenverse as giving Arach (The superhero thought to have been killed by Pathos) some characterization: it helps further develop the world and the characters.

    …Is that a good enough reason?

    Because I’m here, I might as well give some more information on Eclipse and Retra.

    Eclipse: She’s described in her appearance later in the book as the sort of woman who was beautiful a long time ago, but has since faded. Eclipse is mentioned to be “the superheroine whose poster was on every fanboy’s wall.” Prior to her leaving the superhero business, she was described as quiet, rather emotionless, and unassuming – the polar opposite of Retra. She’s a heavy smoker and implied to be depressed. She holds a deep grudge against the superhero world for more reasons than one. She is thus far the only prominent character inbook to fit into the “magical hero” genre: her enhanced senses and strength at moonlight is from an ancient amulet.

    Retra: Before I decided on her name, I referred to her as Genki!Rogue, which sums up her personality rather well. Her powers allow her to see the past of objects she touches barehanded (Which is why she often described as wearing gloves and modest clothing), but her abilities don’t affect living things. Despite her relatively Blessed With Suck power, she’s extremely optimistic and served almost as the Hummingbird of Heroic. The unknown third of Pathos’ victims, and the only one (Other than Shift himself, of course) to survive. Currently in a coma from the attack, although it’s left ambiguous whether she does awake by the novel’s end.

    - Wings

    Genki – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GenkiGirl

  172. Wingson 16 Jul 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Wow. I’ve been gone far too long.

    Either way, I have…yet another concept. On the bright side, this one’s a novella instead of a full novel!

    The Title: Strawberries and the Meaning of Life
    The Genre: Postapocalypse story with humor and romantic elements.
    The Setting: The year 2309, after nature retook the Earth. Postapocalypse.
    The Cast: A hot tempered boy searching for the meaning of life in a world reclaimed by the wild; a so-called-telepathic hermit with an attitude and a taste for strawberries; and a lonely girl from a city which has never touched the ground.
    The Plot:

    The man in the wilderness said to me
    How many strawberries grow in the sea?
    I answered him as I thought good
    As many red herrings live in the wood.
    - Old Rhyme

    All it took was one smart-aleck answer to catapult a rebellious boy into a quest for a strawberry grown in the ocean to exchange for the meaning of life; sending him to a world none have returned from, where nothing remains but a girl and a floating garden…The true question is, is the meaning of life truly so hard to find?

    Strawberries and the Meaning of Life (SATMOL) was inspired by the nursery rhyme quoted above. It was originally designed as a short story written in the style of old fairytales, but as the universe evolved further it became clear that the story was much more. Although it’s now the fifth existing novel concept I possess (not counting sequels), it’s going to be ridiculously short anyway. Nowhere near as long as Hunter’s Abomination (The shortest concept other than SATMOL), let alone Darken’s book.

    What do you guys think? If anything, I’ll store the concept and use it for NaNoWriMo. SATMOL and Hunter’s Abomination are the two concepts I think I’ll save for future NaNos, merely because they are short and not quite completely created. HTSTW and Darken’s book are both serieses (sereisi?)and already have fully developed universe, while Twisted Fantasy’s characters and setting are almost completely developed.

    - Wings

  173. Wingson 18 Jul 2010 at 3:20 pm

    …I can almost see the tumbleweeds blowing around this forum. No one’s here…

    I hereby resolve to post more often!

    - Wings

  174. B. Macon 18 Jul 2010 at 5:49 pm

    “…Is that a good enough reason? [to include Heroic]”

    Okay, I think you’ve laid out some sensible reasons to have Heroic. However, I can’t speak to any details at this point. (For example, if I were to read the entire manuscript, I might feel that Heroic is a distraction because it received too many pages and/or didn’t interact with the main group and/or its goals enough).



    To be honest, I’d feel more comfortable (and helpful) reviewing chapters rather than plot concepts that are harder to pin down.

  175. B. Macon 18 Jul 2010 at 5:58 pm

    “Either way, I have…yet another concept. On the bright side, this one’s a novella instead of a full novel!” I get the impression that you might get more finished if you stuck with a single work, preferably a standalone. (A work that might have sequels later, but isn’t written with any of them in mind).



    I’m not familiar with the market for novellas, so I have very little advice on this front. Most novel publishers don’t work with them much.



    The title was okay. I thought that “The Meaning of Life” could be made more stylish later in the writing process. Strawberries was a head-scratcher, but one I found endearing. In any case, it’s a fine working title, so I’ll let that be for now.

    Why does a smart-aleck, rebellious boy in a postapocalyptic world care about the meaning of life? Doesn’t he have more mundane concerns (food/shelter/etc)? Aside from that, the plot sounds interesting. I like the variety between the three main characters.

  176. Wingson 18 Jul 2010 at 7:03 pm

    In SATMOL, the apocalypse (Instead of having humans destroy themselves, I decided to have Nature revolt against humans and have a series of violent natural disasters take out two-thirds of humanity) took place about 200 years before the book’s events (The apocalypse itself takes place…I’d say during the 2110s?). The remains of humanity have actually managed a peaceful coexistence with nature and are well into rebuilding their world.

    …Although it’s never outright stated, it’s hinted that Fiontan’s (the hot tempered boy) homeland is what remains of Ireland and the United Kingdom, while Nerina (Female protagonist) is thought to be a descendant of Italian refugees. Just some background.

    Now that the world has had time to recover (it’s mentioned that the world is actually closer to maintaining world peace than ever before) time to ponder why the apocalypse occurred in the first place is now readily available. Fiontan’s curiosity about the meaning of life stems from a single question: If nature is fully capable of destroying humanity at the drop of a hat, then what makes living worthwhile?

    Heroic is partially a tribute to the Gold and Silver ages. I’m trying to make them a stereotypical team from that time, from cheesy names to being a Five Token Band*.

    - Wings

    *Five Token Band – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FiveTokenBand

    - Wings

  177. Wingson 19 Jul 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I actually found a Darkenish quote today…

    “His style is chaos, illumined by flashes of lightning.” – Oscar Wilde

    If i ever decide to jump on the bandwagon and start putting quotes in between novel parts, I’m working that in somehow.

    - Wings

  178. Wingson 19 Jul 2010 at 8:40 pm

    I finally created the roster of Heroic.

    Captain Forever: The obligatory Superman/Captain America expy. Superstrength and superhealing.

    Emeralda: A sorceress with mystic powers from a glowing gemstone. Kinda like a fusion of Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern. Wielded magic.

    Soothsayer: A female superhero who spoke rarely, except to deliver prophecies. Precognition.

    Flamethrower: An African-American superhero and Heroic’s token minority. No powers, using high-tech versions of flamethrowers.

    Chainmail: An otherwise unremarkable male superhero. Invulnerable.

    Winged Wonder: Male superhero. Like Chainmail, otherwise unremarkable except for being a member of Heroic. Flight with cybernetic wings.

    Any cheesiness here is completely intentional, as Heroic was designed to be half-homage and half-parody in regards to the Golden and Silver Ages of comics.

    - Wings

  179. Wingson 23 Jul 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Here is the latest chapter of TSBLAD, I’m also including the prologue and first chapter so that you guys don’t have to go digging for them.

    ———

    Prologue

    The silence of the night was broken by the wailing of sirens and the crackling of flames. Darken makes his way to the building’s exit, taking care to keep his cloak from being caught on the still-burning debris. He cursed under his breath as a new hole was ripped in the dark fabric. The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black costume. She seemed too insignificant, almost unworthy of being rescued by the esteemed Six. Although they probably deigned to rescue every cat from every tree in ____, Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.

    As he shifted the material of his cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke, his thoughts wandered back to the Six. Sidestepping a burning support, he left the now completely engulfed building and curtly set the girl down in front of the nearest fireman. Without another word he turned away from the blazing building and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    Perhaps Pathos would have a job for him by dawn, hopefully something more interesting than a mere rescue mission.

    Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done.

    Chapter One: Five Out Of Six

    “Take your money and get out.” Hikari handed the money to the cloaked mercenary with an air of distaste. After holding the wad of bills up to the light as if to detect some forgery, he tucked it into some hidden pocket within his cloak. Darken turned away from the silver costumed hero, then paused to unleash one final indignity. “I’ll expect a larger payment for my services next time.”

    Hikari was certain that he was smirking underneath his mask. Opening her mouth to retort, she settled for biting her lip, making a violent gesture with one gloved hand, and curtly beginning her retreat back to her headquarters…

    …Only to hear something emanating from the mercenary as he vanished into the shadows. Something that sounded suspiciously like muffled laughter.

    It took all of Hikari’s self restraint merely to storm back into the building, the automatic doors sliding shut behind her. As much as she hated to admit it, the Six needed Darken to stay afloat. She strode into the waiting elevator, ignoring the tinny music playing within.

    The mechanical doors slid open silently as the elevator reached the top floor. As her sense of professionalism headed for the hills, Hikari collapsed onto the white sofa in the room’s center. She straightened her mask, the crescent moon shape settling neatly back onto her face, and sighed.

    “Rough day, huh?” Instinct settled down next to Hikari, the tall, powerfully built woman in stark contrast to the slender, silver-costumed figure beside her.

    “You know me too well.” Hikari replied.

    “Dealing with that mercenary again? Darken?”

    “Yes, Darken.” Hikari spat out the name as if it pained her to say it. “Hiring mercenaries like him off to take care of the crimes we can’t get to is only the beginning. Soon, we’ll be paying the government to clean up ____ instead of the other way around.” She buried her face in her hands. “God, we can’t keep this up. Where are all those eager wannabe heroes now?”

    Instinct leaned over slightly. “I know it’s getting tougher to keep doing what we do. But someone’s got to watch this city’s streets, and we signed up for the job.” She laid a comforting hand on Hikari’s shoulder. “You don’t have to do this alone, Noriko-”

    Hikari stiffened and got up quickly, her businesslike attitude returning. “No civilian names in the HQ, Instinct.” Her cape whisked behind her as she stalked off toward the conference room. “Meeting in ten. Go find the others, will you?” The door shut behind her, leaving the ex-brawler behind.

    “You’re not alone, Hikari.” The words left Instinct’s mouth to fall upon silence.

    Chapter Two: To Be Heroic

    “Where’s Masochist?” Hikari said, absentmindedly toying with a stray paperclip.

    “He’s out on another food run.” Synth tilted his chair backwards on two legs as he answered. After repositioning the sunglasses which sat precariously in his shaggy blond hair, he returned his chair to its intended position. “The addict here” he said, gesturing at the boy next to him, “drank all the soda again.”

    “It was just two bottles!” Hummingbird retorted in the petulant manner typical of nine year olds. For once, he put down the fast-food soda he was drinking. “It’s not like you’re gonna die without it!”

    “Oh, and you will?”

    “Yeah!”

    A knock on the door ended the blossoming argument. Setting down the piece of wire which had formerly been a paperclip, Hikari called out. “Come in.”

    Pushing the door open with one hand and holding a plastic grocery bag in the other, the missing member of the team walked in. Setting the newly acquired soda in front of Hummingbird, Masochist took his usual place at the table. “Heroic is disbanding.”

    It took a few minutes for the full meaning of Masochist’s words to sink in. Hikari stood up, a look of shock on her face. “What?”

    “Heroic is disbanding? The Heroic? One of the finest superhero teams in the business is just…giving up?” Synth said, returning the soda he’d “liberated” from Hummingbird.

    “Heroic lost a good third of its members in the Millennium Building massacre four years ago, and they lost a lot of face – both to civilians and other heroes- when they effectively fired Retra and Eclipse. They’ve been struggling for a while.” Instinct bluntly stated.

    “Still, they pretty much kick-started the superhero age. It’s just going to get harder without them, y’know?” Synth replied.

    Hummingbird had remained silent through the conversation, sipping his soda and looking almost pensive – as pensive as a nine-year-old could look, that is. “Heroic…I remember those guys. They were pretty cool.”

    Masochist smiled, tousling the boy’s auburn hair.“They were trailblazers. Heroic marked the beginning of an age.”

    “How did their roster go again? General Freedom, Emeralda…” Hikari trailed off, reminiscing.

    Synth continued the mantra which, at a time, had been memorized worldwide. “…Soothsayer, Flamethrower…”

    “Chainmail and the Winged Wonder.” Instinct cut in, a rare smile crossing her face.

    Hummingbird laughed. “Saving the world…”

    “…One crime at a time.” Masochist finished.

    It was ridiculous to be laughing at a time like this, Hikari thought. Still, the thought wasn’t enough to keep her from dissolving into laughter along with the rest of her team.

    ——-

    Some details:

    - I changed the scene in To Be Heroic from Arach’s death to Heroic’s disbanding by moving the former to chapter 4.
    - I’m displeased with To be Heroic’s ending. I was attempting to work in a line about how Heroic may have been the greatest in the world, but had the cheesiest motto ever, but I couldn’t get it to flow smoothly. Ideas?
    - I NEED A NAME FOR THE CITY. BLAAAAARRRGGGHHH. …All I know is that (since HTSTW’s story was set near New York and served sort of as TSBLAD’s spiritual prequel) it’s located on the west coast, most likely in northern California. Please help.
    - I’m having POV issues. I’m trying to keep a third-person limited view flitting from character to character (Darken, Hikari, Masochist, etc.) but I don’t know if it’s working.

    Questions? Comments? Rage-filled statements telling me to go die somewhere? I’ll accept them all.

    - Wings

  180. Mikeon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:05 pm

    for a city name, what about Strangerville? or Legend City? (both of these were ones I was thinking about, but i’m not sure if I’ll use them.)

    Personally, I liked the team’s reaction to the news of Heroic’s disbanding. And I do like the third-person POV.

    I will admit, I’m a bit confused about Masochist’s name. It doesn’t really seem to reflect his personality, or powers, etc. (This is just my opinion, though. others might disagree with me.)

    Otherwise, looks cool!

  181. Wingson 23 Jul 2010 at 3:42 pm

    It’s mentioned that Masochist, Synth, Instinct, and Hummingbird, upon joining the team, were assigned their names.

    A masochist is someone who harms themselves, and as a pacifistic blood manipulator who used his own blood to disable foes, the name was fitting at the time*.

    - Wings

    * However, if you lose a lot of blood, you pass out. After far too many battles ended with an unconscious Masochist, the team made a deal with a blood bank. Still, the name stuck.

  182. Mikeon 23 Jul 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Ooohhhh…. okay! My curiosity has been sated now.

  183. Wingson 27 Jul 2010 at 6:02 pm

    …Anyone out there? I recently posted new chapters…

    - Wings

  184. B. Macon 27 Jul 2010 at 9:50 pm

    –Thanks for the reminder.

    –What is the advantage of having this prologue be a prologue rather than the first chapter? (Some strong reasons to have a prologue that come to mind include the POV being a different character than the rest of the book, the time period being substantially different, or otherwise being separated from the subsequent chapters in some major way).

    –”Darken makes his way” should be “Darken made his way” because the rest of this is in past tense. “Darken makes his way to the building’s exit…” I think this could be shown with more interesting language. Is there anything interesting about the way he’s moving? (For example, instead of “makes his way,” you might try something about how he navigated through the burning debris. I think that would give the scene more energy, which is sort of a liability for prologues, I think.

    –”She seemed too insignificant, almost unworthy of being rescued by the esteemed Six. Although they probably deigned to rescue every cat from every tree in ____, Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.” This is a bit confusing. If they rescue every cat, why isn’t she worthy of being rescued? I think the confusing part is that “almost unworthy of being rescued by the esteemed Six” suggests that this rescue doesn’t live up to THEIR standards. In contrast, the second sentence suggests that it does live up to their standards, but not HIS. This conflict could be clearer, I think.

    –”she seemed too insignificant…” Show this. I think it’s an interesting observation, but it’s not clear why he thinks she’s insignificant. Is it because saving this one person is jeopardizing a family that he could be saving upstairs? Is it because he thinks these rescue operations are not interesting enough and/or not worth his time? (Note: unless you work some wizardry with that, I suspect “saving children is not worth my time” will prove a MAJOR obstacle to likability). Something else? For example, if Jacob Mallow were making this observation, he’d probably come at it through a coldly rational standpoint (he could save more people working on pharmaceuticals than running into burning buildings) and, besides, until he perfects clinical immortality, deaths are inevitable.

    –”she seemed too insignificant” could be shown with an interesting guess/observation/opinion, I think. What’s something significant that she won’t ever do?

    Agent Orange: Even though you have thus far miserably failed to strangle a terrorist with his own intestines, the American people nevertheless hold out some hope that you will amount to something. Gary: Well, I’m an IRS agent– AO: –Something honorable!

    I think that gives us some sense of what sorts of accomplishments AO finds most significant. What about Darken?

    –It might help to work in dialogue. Maybe he is complaining on a mouthpiece to somebody else?

    –What’s the Six? (I have a pretty good idea, but would prospective readers?)

    –”Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done.” Maybe something like “He always got the job done. Even rescues.”

    –He’s working for money, right? Maybe make some mention of that? (For example, maybe he thinks the kid is insignificant because there’s no WAY her family would be able to cover his retainer. But as long as the Six is footing the bill, he’s willing to look past that ;-) ).

    –“I’ll expect a larger payment for my services next time.” Why? (I’m interested–which aspect of his job bothers him the most?)

    –”Hikari handed the money to the cloaked mercenary with an air of distaste.” I think a different verb could show this more stylishly. Maybe she wings the wad of bills at him or pushes the money towards him because she doesn’t even want to make that much physical contact with him.


    The ellipses between headquarters and only strike me as a bit awkward. It disoriented me a bit that the narrator used ellipses. (Well, I think that would be okay in a situation where the POV character was passing out, dying or otherwise losing his stream of consciousness in a major way).

    The story has mentioned a few times that he does a lot of stealth. Even when there doesn’t seem to be a reason. For example, why mention that he disappears into the shadows after leaving the scene of the fire? Is there some element of danger I’m missing? If not, is he stealthy because he’s paranoid? He doesn’t seem paranoid, though. (He doesn’t seem to regard Hikari as a potential threat, although he does count the money—nice touch of distrust there). I think the stealth would be a bit more awesome/badass if there were some point to it.


    Why does he laugh when he gets the money? It sort of feels like this is a bit contradictory with him being a pretty professional mercenary. (Alternately, if he wants to flaunt how much she needs his services, he might bring that up when he’s telling her that his rate just went up).


    For a bit of worldbuilding flavor, one option (definitely not required!) would be discussing where she got the money from. Maybe there’s a contrast between how she got the money (a donation from somebody impressed by some heroic feat she pulled) and how he’s trying to shake her down for it.


    “As much as she hated to admit it, the Six needed Darken to stay afloat.” Why? (This is something that might be easier for Darken to explain. “Because you all are wusses,” perhaps?)

    “As her sense of professionalism headed for the hills”—could you show this with body language?

    “Instinct settled down next to the tall, powerfully built woman in stark contrast to the slender, silver-costumed figure beside her.” This feels awkward to me. Also, I’m sort of confused. It sounds like there are THREE people here (Instinct, the powerfully built woman and the slender one), but I don’t know who the powerful woman is.

    “You know me too well.” Hikari replied. This could be more stylish. (Also, when a line of dialogue ends with a tag, the period should be a comma: “You know me too well,” Hikari replied. ).

    The paragraph beginning “Yes, Darken” seems too expositional to me. Part of the issue, I think, is that they’re just talking about stuff we already know. I’d recommend developing this conversation with stuff we don’t. (For example, why does she need Darken’s help? Is she trying anything so that she won’t need his help in the future? If not, why not?)

    I like the paragraph beginning “Hikari stiffened…” This conflict between the stiff Hikari and the more casual Instinct sounds interesting. I feel like the Hikari-Darken relationship/conflict was a bit flat. He doesn’t feel three-dimensional yet.

    “You’re not alone, Hikari.” The words left Instinct’s mouth to fall upon silence. I think this last sentence could be rephrased as “The words fell upon silence.” We can infer that it’s Instinct speaking because she addresses it to Hikari.

    I think “To Be Heroic” could be more interesting.
    “He’s out on another food run.” This could be shortened to “Another food run,” unless this is a really formal conversation. (But I don’t get a formal vibe from the shaggy-haired Synth).

    “The addict here” he said, gesturing at the boy next to him, “drank all the soda again.” I think this could be rephrased to something like “Our soda addict cleaned us out again.” Then, when Hummingbird defends himself in the next sentence, we can infer that he is the soda addict.

    “Heroic is disbanding? The Heroic? One of the finest superhero teams in the business is just…giving up?” I think this is too expositiony. It doesn’t feel like natural, real dialogue. For one thing, “one of the finest superhero teams in the business” either needs to be shown or mentioned more artfully, because it sounds like a “as you know, Bob” line. (It’s generally awkward when characters talk about something all the characters know to inform the readers). I think you did a good job showing how much this news mattered to the team before this line. One possibility here would be, instead of just saying they’re a great team, would be reminiscing about something particular they did.

    (“Heroic lost a good third of its members in the Millennium Building massacre four years ago, and they lost a lot of face – both to civilians and other heroes- when they effectively fired Retra and Eclipse. They’ve been struggling for a while.” Instinct bluntly stated.) I would recommend reworking this paragraph. For example:
    INSTINCT: They’ve been struggling for a while.
    ANOTHER CHARACTER: The Millennium Building massacre.
    YET ANOTHER CHARACTER: They fired Retra and Eclipse over [introduce the reason why and suggest why this is unseemly—I’d be careful with this, though. Depending on the ideology of the reader, he/she might not regard a don’t ask-don’t tell firing as a significant loss of face. Also, just to clarify, they got fired because of the gay angle and not because the team had a strict rule against dating teammates, right?

    I’m not feeling these general statements like ““Still, they pretty much kick-started the superhero age. It’s just going to get harder without them, y’know?” Synth replied.” Give us examples! “You remember that time they saved [time-sensitive historical figure to give us a better sense of when they kickstarted the superhero age] from [villain]?” “That kick was epic!”

    Does the roster of Heroic matter? If not, I would scrap that, because it introduces a LOT of names that don’t actually advance the plot right now. I’d recommend saving those names until they do matter. Also, I’d recommend cutting “How did their roster go again?” because 1) it’s a sort of cheesy way to introduce the list of names and 2) it’s inconsistent with this team being a really big deal. (How would you forget someone that means that much to you?)

    Minor guy thing. I don’t think Masochist would be tousling the boy’s hair unless they’re extremely close (like father-son). Generally, I would recommend sticking with body language like high-fives, fist-pumps and shoulder punches between an adult or teen and a kid that’s not his. (Also, I think the kid might resent the tousling, if he’s sensitive about being the youngest there and/or being treated like a baby).

    I think it would help if they started laughing over something that was a bit funnier and/or cheesier than “saving the world… one crime at a time.” You can do cheesier than that! :-D

  185. B. Macon 27 Jul 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Keep up the good work! I’m looking forward to next chapter.

  186. Cassandraon 28 Jul 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed it. I’m not an editor by any means, but I hope my comments are helpful!

    I solved my problem of naming my city by titling it The City. Which is cheesy, to say the least, but I don’t really mind. One thing I’ve always hated to do was figuring out names. I over-think them way too much.

    I think you have a great concept and look forward to reading more of this. I really liked the interaction between Hilakri and Darken — it was easy to not only see the disdain there, but also how much it frustrated her to have to resort to such measures. The interaction between the supers was good as well; I especially liked the addition of the hummingbird; kids can be a good addition so long as they don’t become too annoying. The sober background of a superteam disbanding was also nicely entered into this story.

    I felt as if the first and second chapter could be combined into one chapter, seeing as it’s set in the same place with only the addition of new characters. The prologue works for one, so long as there aren’t more chapters in Darken’s POV, but if he’s going to be a major or recurring character with chapters in his POV, then I’d suggest making it the first chapter.

    As far as POVs go, I wouldn’t do a third-person POV if it flits from person-to-person in a chapter. It tends to be quite jarring.

    Below is what you had written with a few of my initial thoughts while reading:

    Prologue

    The silence of the night was broken by the wailing of sirens and the crackling of flames. Darken makes (This should be made; past tense) his way to the building’s exit, taking care to keep his cloak from being caught on the still-burning debris. He cursed under his breath as a new hole was ripped in the dark fabric. The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black costume. She seemed too insignificant, almost unworthy of being rescued by the esteemed Six (I’m interested to know who the Six are. Good or bad. Is Darken good or bad? His name makes me think of an anti-hero). Although they probably deigned to rescue every cat from every tree in ____, Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.
    As he shifted the material of his cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke, his thoughts wandered back to the Six. Sidestepping a burning support, he left the now completely engulfed building and curtly set the girl down in front of the nearest fireman. Without another word he turned away from the blazing building and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.
    Perhaps Pathos would have a job for him by dawn, hopefully something more interesting than a mere rescue mission.
    Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done. (Def. morally ambiguous.)
    Chapter One: Five Out Of Six
    “Take your money and get out.” Hikari (odd name—also thought was a male at first) handed the money to the cloaked mercenary with an air of distaste. After holding the wad of bills up to the light as if to detect some forgery, he tucked it into some hidden pocket within his cloak. Darken turned away from the silver costumed hero, then paused to unleash one final indignity. “I’ll expect a larger payment for my services next time.”
    Hikari was certain that he was smirking underneath his mask. Opening her mouth to retort, she settled for biting her lip, making a violent gesture with one gloved hand, and curtly beginning her retreat back to her headquarters…
    …Only to hear something emanating from the mercenary as he vanished into the shadows. Something that sounded suspiciously like muffled laughter.
    It took all of Hikari’s self-restraint merely to storm back into the building, the automatic doors sliding shut behind her. As much as she hated to admit it, the Six needed Darken to stay afloat. She strode into the waiting elevator, ignoring the tinny (odd word choice) music playing within.
    The mechanical doors slid open silently as the elevator reached the top floor. As her sense of professionalism headed for the hills, Hikari collapsed onto the white sofa in the room’s center. She straightened her mask, the crescent moon shape settling neatly back onto her face, and sighed.
    “Rough day, huh?” Instinct settled down next to Hikari, the tall, powerfully built woman in stark contrast to the slender, silver-costumed figure beside her.
    “You know me too well.” Hikari replied.
    “Dealing with that mercenary again? Darken?”
    “Yes, Darken.” Hikari spat out the name as if it pained her to say it. “Hiring mercenaries like him off to take care of the crimes we can’t get to is only the beginning. Soon, we’ll be paying the government to clean up ____ instead of the other way around.” She buried her face in her hands. “God, we can’t keep this up. Where are all those eager wannabe heroes now?” (I love the idea of heroes being so overworked that they have to hire others in order to save the city.)
    Instinct leaned over slightly. “I know it’s getting tougher to keep doing what we do. But someone’s got to watch this city’s streets, and we signed up for the job.” She laid a comforting hand on Hikari’s shoulder. “You don’t have to do this alone, Noriko-”
    Hikari stiffened and got up (stood up) quickly, her businesslike attitude returning. “No civilian names in the HQ, Instinct.” Her cape whisked behind her as she stalked off toward the conference room. “Meeting in ten. Go find the others, will you?” The door shut behind her, leaving the ex-brawler behind.
    “You’re not alone, Hikari.” The words left Instinct’s mouth to fall upon silence.
    Chapter Two: To Be Heroic
    “Where’s Masochist?” Hikari said, absentmindedly toying with a stray paperclip.
    “He’s out on another food run.” Synth tilted his chair backwards on two legs as he answered. After repositioning the sunglasses which sat precariously in his shaggy blond hair, he returned his chair to its intended position. “The addict here(comma)” he said, gesturing at the boy next to him, “drank all the soda again.”
    “It was just two bottles!” Hummingbird retorted in the petulant manner typical of nine-year-olds. For once, he put down the fast-food (fast-food is redundant) soda he was drinking. “It’s not like you’re gonna die without it!”
    “Oh, and you will?”
    “Yeah!”
    A knock on the door ended the blossoming argument. Setting down the piece of wire which had formerly been a paperclip, Hikari called out. “Come in.”
    Pushing the door open with one hand and holding a plastic grocery bag in the other, the missing member of the team walked in. Setting the newly acquired soda in front of Hummingbird, Masochist took his usual place at the table. “Heroic is disbanding.”
    It took a few minutes for the full meaning of Masochist’s words to sink in. Hikari stood up, a look of shock on her face. “What?”
    “Heroic is disbanding? The Heroic? One of the finest superhero teams in the business is just…giving up?” Synth said, returning the soda he’d “liberated” from Hummingbird.
    “Heroic lost a good third of its members in the Millennium Building massacre four years ago, and they lost a lot of face – both to civilians and other heroes- when they effectively fired Retra and Eclipse. They’ve been struggling for a while.” Instinct bluntly stated. (I’m liking this even more with the prospect of their being multiple super-teams, all which are struggling, and many which may be disbanding.)
    “Still, they pretty much kick-started the superhero age. It’s just going to get harder without them, y’know?” Synth replied.
    Hummingbird had remained silent through the conversation, sipping his soda and looking almost pensive – as pensive as a nine-year-old could look, that is. “Heroic…I remember those guys. They were pretty cool.”
    Masochist smiled, tousling the boy’s auburn hair. “They were trailblazers. Heroic marked the beginning of an age.”
    “How did their roster go again? General Freedom, Emeralda…” Hikari trailed off, reminiscing.
    Synth continued the mantra which, at a time, had been memorized worldwide. “…Soothsayer, Flamethrower…”
    “Chainmail and the Winged Wonder.” Instinct cut in, a rare smile crossing her face.
    Hummingbird laughed. “Saving the world…”
    “…One crime at a time.” Masochist finished.
    It was ridiculous to be laughing at a time like this, Hikari thought. Still, the thought wasn’t enough to keep her from dissolving into laughter along with the rest of her team.

  187. Wingson 29 Jul 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Although I’m off to Canada tomorrow (Cue scandalized comment from Agent Orange), and I’ll be back in school 2 weeks after that, I will assimilate all information!

    One last thing to B. Mac: Hikari originally threw the money at Darken’s head following a jab at her team. However, I am trying to maintain some seriousness, so I scrapped the idea.

    One other last thing to Cassandra: Hummingbird, in short, is my little brother. Although my brother’s older now, he still maintains that mixture of idiocy, intelligence, and hyperactivity that Hummingbird exemplifies. I learn a lot watching him.

    Wings’ brother: *ghost story voice* It’s nights like these when the Zambonis* come out…

    - Wings

    * A Zamboni is one of those machines in skating rinks that smooths the ice. I decided that I’d better define it as P didn’t know what a Zamboni was when I related this anecdote to him.

  188. Wingson 09 Aug 2010 at 4:10 pm

    CURRENT STATE OF THE UNIVERSE:

    How to Save the World (novel): Paused progress as I am displeased with the existing work. Considering a total rewrite at present. Second priority.

    The Space Between Light and Darkness (novel): Current project. Chapter-by-chapter layout underway. Prospects good. First priority.

    Twisted Fantasy (novel): Currently shelved as I do not believe myself capable of handling it at present. Plot and characters remain mostly undeveloped. Fourth priority.

    Strawberries and the Meaning of Life (short novel): Plot almost completely developed. Possible NaNoWriMo project. Third priority.

    - Wings

  189. Wingson 16 Aug 2010 at 10:29 am

    Should I make The Space Between Light and Darkness an ensemble piece a la Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, go read it now), using multiple POVs (using POVs of Darken, Hikari, Masochist, etc.).

    - Wings

  190. NicKennyon 16 Aug 2010 at 12:39 pm

    If you can pull it off go ahead. You had me at Good Omens. One of the greatest books ever written.

  191. Wingson 16 Aug 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Good Omens is one of the few books residing on my Favorite Books Shelf. It is extremely difficult to earn a place on this shelf.*

    Other books upon this shelf: Unwind by Neal Shusterman; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Uglies by Scott Westerfield; and most of the Percy Jackson series.

    - Wings

    * http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Understatement

  192. NicKennyon 16 Aug 2010 at 3:59 pm

    My FBS: The best of Terry Pratchett (including Good Omens), the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy, War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, The Supernaturalists by Eoin Colfer, Epic by Conor Kostick and the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott. It’s a long shelf.

  193. Wingson 16 Aug 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Okay, I’ve read Epic (Thought the author could have done more with it – very interesting idea, but I still got bored) and The Supernaturalists (Haven’t read that much of Eoin Colfer, but I thought that it was delightfully weird).

    …I’d love to tackle Discworld, but the sheer size of the series is daunting. ;-)

    - Wings

  194. Wingson 16 Aug 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Hmmm. If I am to make this an ensemble piece, I think I’ll stick to 3 main POVs: Hikari, Darken, and Masochist.

    Why Masochist? To put it in Freudian terms:

    Hikari: Superego – uptight, law-abiding, calculated, practical, logical.

    Darken: Id – violent, instinctual, passionate, double-dealing, reckless.

    Although their mindsets do occasionally overlap (Hikari has her impulsive moments, and Darken’s strategies usually are based more on stealth and careful planning than all out attack.)

    Therefore, Masochist, the Ego – practical, intelligent, understanding, down-to-earth, mature – acts a balance between the two. Masochist serves almost as an audience surrogate, as his viewpoint of the world is less skewed than Darken and Hikari’s (Darken’s worldview effectively being a Black and Gray Morality* and Hikari’s being a severe Black and White Morality**), although not to the extent that Darken and Hikari become Unreliable Narrators***…That would be cool, though.

    - Wings

    *http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlackAndGrayMorality

    **http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlackAndWhiteMorality

    ***http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnreliableNarrator

  195. B. Macon 17 Aug 2010 at 12:59 am

    “(Darken’s worldview effectively being a Black and Gray Morality* and Hikari’s being a severe Black and White Morality**), although not to the extent that Darken and Hikari become Unreliable Narrators***…”

    Even if a character’s morals were REALLY off, I don’t think he’d necessarily be unreliable. A deeply twisted character might use freaky euphemisms (like a Nazi doctor talking about “clearing the beds”*), but I suspect readers could sort it out pretty easily. Particularly if the author gives context clues. For example, if the nurse rounding up the patients is escorted by burly guards and is looking for patients with “undesirable” traits or is otherwise noticeably nefarious, then we can probably guess she’s not taking the patients to an outcare facility.

    A truly unreliable narrator, like a character that lies to the readers or claims events that don’t actually happen, is like a mind-rape for the readers.

    *Killing infirm patients.

  196. NicKennyon 17 Aug 2010 at 3:17 am

    Wings

    Epic made it to America!!! It’s being given away free in Cornflakes boxes over here. Where the authors actually from. I agree he didn’t make the most of the idea, but I thought it’d make a kick-ass movie. I’ve just realised that most of my favourites shelf is written by Irish authors. Subconcious favouritsm. Tsk tsk. As for the Discworld, it’s the whole reason why I wan’t to write, it’s taken me 4 years to read but it worth it.

    By the way, while I’m thinking about Epic, does anyone know what a kobold is???

  197. Wingson 17 Aug 2010 at 9:23 am

    Kobold: “a sprite stemming from Germanic mythology and surviving into modern times in German folklore. Although usually invisible, a kobold can materialise in the form of an animal, fire, a human being, and a mundane object. The most common depictions of kobolds show them as humanlike figures the size of small children. Kobolds who live in human homes wear the clothing of peasants; those who live in mines are hunched and ugly; and kobolds who live on ships smoke pipes and wear sailor clothing.”*

    I’ve seen Epic shelved in bookstores next to the likes of The Hunger Games (a great honor, as that book deserves all the hype it’s been getting) and Twilight knockoffs (not a very great honor, because it’s Twilight knockoffs we’re talking about).

    - Wings

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobold

  198. NicKennyon 17 Aug 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Then why kill them for money? Like goblins, yeah. But “a sprite stemming from Germanic mythology and surviving into modern times in German folklore. Although usually invisible, a kobold can materialise in the form of an animal, fire, a human being, and a mundane object. The most common depictions of kobolds show them as humanlike figures the size of small children. Kobolds who live in human homes wear the clothing of peasants; those who live in mines are hunched and ugly; and kobolds who live on ships smoke pipes and wear sailor clothing.” hardly sounds as if it’s much of a threat or will have much money on them. I always imagined them as sort of massive rabid badgers.

  199. Wingson 17 Aug 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I’ve decided to use the 3 POVs mentioned above for TSBLAD. I am now currently rewriting chapter 2 in Masochist’s POV, which might actually prove more interesting that the Hikari POV it currently has. I’m also considering expanding the prologue, and maybe even making it the first chapter.

    - Wings

  200. Wingson 17 Aug 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Prologue

    The evening silence was broken by the wailing of sirens and the crackling of flames. Darken wove his way through smoldering debris to the building’s exit, taking care to keep his cloak from being caught on the still-burning rubble. He cursed under his breath as a new hole was ripped in the dark fabric. The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black costume.

    Darken shifted the material of his cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke, his expression softening slightly. He snapped back into his aloof persona in a matter of seconds. Sentiment was a liability in Darken’s line of work, a liability which he couldn’t afford to keep. The Six had hired him for this job, nothing more. Although the superhero team probably deigned to rescue every cat from every tree in ____, Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.

    Still, hero work paid well.

    As Darken neared the exit, his thoughts wandered back to the Six. Sidestepping a burning support, he left the now completely engulfed building and curtly set the girl down in front of the nearest fireman. Without another word he turned away from the blazing building and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.

    Perhaps Pathos would have a job for him by dawn, hopefully something more interesting than a mere rescue mission.

    Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done.

    ——-

    Here’s the rewritten prologue. I’m trying to flesh out Darken’s character more. Would have liked to put a line in detailing that Darken is irrationally fond of his cape, but I couldn’t figure out how to work it in well.

    Comments?

    - Wings

  201. Wingson 18 Aug 2010 at 10:08 pm

    …Anyone awake? Look, new prologue!

    - Wings

  202. B. Macon 18 Aug 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Thanks for the reminder.

    “The evening silence was broken by the wailing of sirens and the crackling of flames.” This is passive and raises some chronological issues. For one thing, it suggests that there is silence and then the fire just suddenly breaks out, when the rest of the page makes it sound like Darken has been here for some time already. (Which would imply that the fire has been going on for some time). I would recommend taking out the phrase “evening silence” (or at least moving it towards the end of the sentence because I think it conveys the opposite of what is happening–a major fire, a dramatic rescue, sirens wailing, etc.

    I think it might help to suggest that this sort of thing is routine for Darken.

    I would recommend adding an interesting detail about Darken to the first paragraph or two. Something unique, preferably.

    The first paragraph is better. I think the choreography of what he’s doing is clearer. However, I think what he’s doing might be more interesting if we had the interesting detail above. Right now, it’s a generic rescue mission, which is okay but maybe not as compelling as it could be. (IE: Kickass opens with truly dark comedy, making it look like we’re seeing the protagonist as he’s about to fly off a building for the first time, but it’s actually just a mentally ill guy that can’t fly… Eww).

    “The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black costume.” I think the contrast between the pink and the black is reasonably effective characterization. However, I think it might be more memorable if we had a line from him here, maybe something along the lines of pink, singed flecks flaking off her clothes and him musing that he’s going to need to see his drycleaner to get the pink out of his [type of uniform] or he’s going to get confused with one of those Six clowns. For plotting purposes, I think it’d help if he differentiated himself from them sooner rather than later. (They might get off on that bright-colored hero thing, but he knew better).

    It may help to shorten the sentences early on. I think that would intensify the action.

    When he’s in the burning building, I’d like stronger atmospherics. I read a story the other day about a firefighter that compared breathing smoke-filled air to drowning in cotton balls.

    It may help to add a few paragraphs before cutting into the action. Something to introduce Darken’s voice/personality/mindset, hopefully. I think those would make Darken more interesting, which would make us care more about the action.

    “He snapped back into his aloof persona in a matter of seconds. Sentiment was a liability in Darken’s line of work, a liability which he couldn’t afford to keep.” I think this is telling, rather than showing. One way you might be able to show a lack of sentimentality is if he brushes off the kid’s parents and/or firefighters. They try to congratulate him and he bitches about his schedule or that he’s not on the clock for mushy crap.

    “Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.” First, I’d recommend cutting “slightly.” Go all the way: strong personalities are more compelling (and will help you differentiate him from the other POVs later). Second, I’d recommend interjecting a detail after this suggesting what his priorities are. Maybe something like “Darken had more important things on his mind. BMWs didn’t pay for themselves.”

    “As Darken neared the exit, his thoughts wandered back to the Six.” This feels like an awkward and unnecessary transition. I would recommend just saying what he’s thinking about the Six rather than preface it in this fashion. (For one thing, just saying it will give readers less time to think about plot coherence).

    “Sidestepping a burning support, he left the now completely engulfed building and curtly set the girl down in front of the nearest fireman.” Yeah, I think this would be an ideal moment to make him stand out. How does Darken interact with the fireman differently than, say, Hikari or Masochist would?

    Alternately, if you’d like more direct conflict, maybe the firefighter confronts him because Darken is doing pretty much the same thing the firefighter does (running into a burning building and saving people) but gets paid a bajillion times more and doesn’t care about the people he’s helping. Depending on how cynical Darken is, he might say something like “See, that’s your problem. You care. If you didn’t care, your boss would have to pay you more.” Alternately, if Darken is super-cocky, maybe he says something like “It’s not my fault I’m a thousand times better at it than you are.” (For that to work, it’d help if we see him do something extraordinary, like kicking out a window on the tenth floor and making a sensational leap to the ground via a flag pole and a traffic light. Right now, it doesn’t seem like he does anything a fireman couldn’t.

    I think the fireman scene has a lot of opportunity for foreshadowing/heightening conflict between Darken and the more service-oriented Six.

    “Perhaps Pathos would have a job for him by dawn, hopefully something more interesting than a mere rescue mission.
    Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he always got the job done.” I think these two sentences could flow together better. For one thing, they are a bit contradictory. The second suggests that he’s always professional and doesn’t care about the nature of the job. The first one suggests that he’s in it for exciting work, which is a bit less consistent with what we know about him than that he’s in it for the money. It may help to change this to something like…

    “Perhaps Pathos would have a job for him by dawn, hopefully something more lucrative than a kid in a burning building. But he’d get it done, whatever it was. As long as the check cleared.”

    If this book rotates between 3 POVs, I think it would help a lot if Darken’s voice and perspective were more distinct, even if it means making him more distinctly obnoxious. I think the fireman sentence is a good opportunity to give him a strong personality that clearly stands out from subsequent characters. Also, since he’s the POV, the narrator could relate some of his observations about what’s going on.

    This chapter was definitely an improvement over the original.



    I can continue reviewing rewritten chapters, but I think it would be more productive for you to write new chapters. I’d recommend saving the rewrites until you’re either done with the first draft of the manuscript or are REALLY stuck. (You’ll have to rewrite all of the chapters after completing the first draft of the manuscript, anyway, just to make sure it’s all coherent).

  203. Ghoston 19 Aug 2010 at 9:28 am

    Hey Wings,
    I have read over all of your prologues, and I have to say that I liked your first one the best. While it may not have been the most technical piece of writing, I like the first one because it left the reader asking alot of questions. I think that all of those question draw the reader into the story and keep the reading, which I think is the whole point of using a prologue.
    All that being said, I have to agree with B. mac’s advise as far as the newest prologue is concerned. I really love the idea of Darken getting into a verbal smackdown with a firefighter. I think it would be a great chance to show, rather than tell, Darken’s personality and attitude, and help establish his character.

  204. Wingson 19 Aug 2010 at 9:50 am

    Okay! Thanks!

    Since I’m switching POVs in chapter 2, I’ll post the rewritten 2 up with chapter 3.

    - Wings

  205. Cassandraon 19 Aug 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Catching up a bit, I agree that Good Omens was an amazing book . . . as is just about everything written by Neil Gaiman. So, I’d say go for it! I also love the idea the reasoning you have between the three characters. I also think it’d be good to expand this to the first chapter (first to take away from the whole “prologue” which can go both ways; and second, because from what I’ve read so far, Darken seems to be the most interesting character. At least initially. But I’ve always liked the darker characters.)

    Onto your prologue:

    “The evening silence was broken by the wailing of sirens and the crackling of flames.
    Darken wove his way through smoldering debris to the building’s exit, taking care to keep his cloak from being caught on the still-burning rubble. He cursed under his breath as a new hole was ripped in the dark fabric. The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black costume.” I think this is well-written out. I especially like the comparison to their clothing. However, it wouldn’t hurt to give a bit more details as to the setting. This makes it seem as if the silence had *just* been broken by the sirens and fire; however, the fire has probably been ongoing. It may be nice to show some of the hustle of the firemen or what other people are doing in the scene.

    “Darken shifted the material of his cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke, his expression softening slightly. He snapped back into his aloof persona in a matter of seconds. Sentiment was a liability in Darken’s line of work, a liability which he couldn’t afford to keep.” I really like this paragraph, especially with the moment of softness that’s shown.

    “Darken’s priorities were slightly higher.” I’m curious to know what his priorities all. Good hook without being confusing or needlessly cryptic.

    “As Darken neared the exit, his thoughts wandered back to the Six. (You say his thoughts went back to the Six, but then say nothing about them.) Sidestepping a burning support, he left the now completely engulfed building and (curtly — I don’t know about this word choice.) set the girl down in front of the nearest fireman. Without another word he turned away from the blazing building and blended into the shadows, leaving no trace of his presence behind.”

    Maybe it’s the girl in me, but I love the picture of him just setting her down without being noticed and then walking away into the dark.

    “Whatever it was – be it a rescue or a robbery – he (It may be good to put his name here, so we’re not confused as to whether it’s talking about Pathos or Darken.) always got the job done.”

  206. NicKennyon 20 Aug 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Cassandra, Good Omens was written by Neil Gaiman AND Terry Pratchett. Just making sure. I’m not going to listen to any slight on TP.

    Wings, this is really good. Keep writing. Darken sounds bad-ass.

  207. Wingson 11 Sep 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Le gasp. I, being the perfectionist that I am, have made another change to TSBLAD.

    I’m testing out the chapter rewrites with both the original third-person limited and the new first person style. I want to see which one is more effective.

    New First Chapter (Third Person Limited, Darken’s POV)

    The sound of sirens had become a familiar part of Darken’s daily routine. He wove his way through smoldering debris to the building’s exit, the smoky air pervasive and blinding. The little girl was unconscious in his arms, her singed pink pajamas a stark contrast to his black cloak.

    Darken shifted the material of his cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke, his expression softening slightly. He snapped back into his aloof persona in a matter of seconds. In Darken’s line of work, sentiment was just another liability. The Six had hired him for this job, nothing more. Although the superhero team probably deigned to rescue every tree-trapped cat in ____, Darken had higher priorities.

    Still, hero work paid well.

    Sidestepping a burning support, Darken neared the exit. He leapt off the balcony with one swift movement, clutching the little girl tightly to his chest. Rolling into a landing, he straightened, the child in his arms unharmed. Darken strode to the nearest fireman and deposited the unconscious girl in the stunned man’s arms. He turned abruptly, about to make his way back the anonymity of the shadows, when the firefighter called out to him.

    “What the hell was that?!”

    Darken paused in his retreat. “I believe it’s called a ‘rescue’.” He continued on his way, and had just started to disappear into the shadows when the firefighter shouted after him for a second time.

    “Do you even care?! You could have killed her!”

    This time, Darken turned around.

    “There’s your problem. You care. If you didn’t care, your job would be a lot easier.”

    With that, Darken vanished into the shadows without a trace, walking away from the smoldering building. The sound of sirens began to fade.

    At dawn, perhaps Pathos would have a new job for him. Hopefully, it would be something more lucrative than a kid in a burning building.

    No matter what it was, Darken got the job done.

    As long as the check cleared.

    New First Chapter (First Person, Darken’s POV)

    The sound of sirens had become a familiar part of my daily routine. I wove my way through smoldering debris to the building’s exit, the smoky air pervasive and blinding. The little girl was unconscious in my arms, her singed pink pajamas in stark contrast against my black cloak.

    I shifted the material of my cloak to better shield the child’s face from the smoke. I could feel my expression softening, and snapped back into my business persona in a matter of seconds. In my line of work, sentiment was just another liability. The Six had hired me for this job, nothing more. Although the superhero team probably deigned to rescue every tree-trapped cat in ____, I had higher priorities.

    Still, hero work paid well.

    Sidestepping a burning support, I neared the exit. I leapt off the balcony with one swift movement, clutching the little girl tightly to my chest. I rolled into a landing and straightened, the child unharmed. I strode to the nearest fireman and deposited the unconscious child in the stunned man’s arms. Just as I began to make my way back to the anonymity of the shadows, the firefighter called out.

    “What the hell was that?!”

    I paused to reply. “I believe it’s called a ‘rescue’.” I continued on my way back to the shadows, when the firefighter shouted at me again.

    “Do you even care?! You could have killed her!”

    This time, I turned back to face him.

    “There’s your problem. You care. If you didn’t care, your job would be a lot easier.”

    And I disappeared into the shadows.

    Perhaps Pathos would have a job for me by dawn, hopefully something more lucrative than a kid in a burning building.

    No matter what it is, I’ll get the job done.

    So long as the check clears.

    ————

    Looking at the first-person attempt, I’m not sure if I like it. First person usually allows for a reader to greater understand a character, but I think that giving Darken the internal monologues I often see in first-person works would seem uncharacteristic. If we can understand all of Darken’s motivations head on, then his whole “mysterious” aspect is canceled out.

    Sigh…What do you guys think?

  208. B. Macon 12 Sep 2010 at 11:06 am

    “Although the superhero team probably deigned to rescue every tree-trapped cat in ____, Darken had higher priorities. Still, hero work paid well.” The way I read this, it suggests that he has higher priorities than money. One possible fix would be replacing “Still, hero work paid well” with a line about what he plans to do with the money.

    I agree that third person would probably work better if we don’t know everything about the character’s motivations. I thought the third person scene came out smoothly. I enjoyed it.

  209. Wingson 02 Mar 2011 at 11:28 am

    It’s good to be back…

    Anyway, there have been a few changes to the ‘verse as a whole, mainly in the form of small shout outs, cameos of things from HTSTW, and the like:

    - There is a poster for the movie “Attack Of the Fifty Foot Prom Queen” in Retra’s room at the hospital – it’s the same B-movie Meg mentions watching in HTSTW.

    - Due to his advanced avian powers, several other characters suspect Hummingbird to be possibly related to the Gabriel line. For those who haven’t read my other forum, Gabriel is the codename for my other main winged hero, Ian. Given that this is a few decades after the events of the HTSTW ‘verse, it’s quite probable that Hummingbird is somehow related to Ian.

    - The introductory scenes for each of the protagonists have been tweaked, most notably Masochist’s:
    – Darken saves a kid from a burning building, and is kind of a jerk about it.
    – Hikari reluctantly pays Darken (Who’s still being a jerk) and calls a meeting of the Six.
    – While out shopping for Hummingbird’s soda, Masochist ends up being slapped by a cashier savvy enough to put two and two together and recognize him as the blood-manipulating hero. While not only serving to establish the public’s view on hemokinetics (As well as Masochist’s view of himself), it’s also a small tribute to the book Hero by Perry Moore, one of the only other pieces of superhero literature I’ve read (as a similar incident occurs with the protagonist’s father).

    Also, I love the Darkenverse villains.

    - Wings

  210. Ghoston 02 Mar 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Welcome back Wings.

  211. Wingson 29 Nov 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Alright, I keep disappearing, and I haven’t written anything new in ages, but I have a good reason this time.

    …The deadline for my secret project is before Christmas, and I need to pour all my energy into it right now. Can’t say anything more about it – I promise I’ll explain everything once it’s done.

    - Wings

  212. B. McKenzieon 29 Nov 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I, too, have a project I’m not ready to discuss yet! (I’ll have more details to share if/when it gets published).

  213. ShyVioletson 30 Nov 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Ooooo secrets ^-^ me like. Good luck on them you two.

  214. Anonymouson 28 Jul 2012 at 2:38 pm

    What happened to Strawberries and the Meaning of Life? It sounded really interesting and the title was very creative. I would like to see more of it.

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