Apr 04 2009
- +: Like journalists, lawyers can be drawn into a wide range of plots pretty easily. Even if there isn’t a legal angle to pursue, a lawyer can also be called in as a consultant, advisor or investigator.
- +: It takes less research to capture a lawyer’s voice than it does to write a scientist or soldier. In most situations, such as speaking with witnesses or clients or juries, lawyers use less jargon and speak in a way that’s pretty clear for readers without legal training.
- -: You really need to have some basic familiarity with the law and what lawyers do. It’s much easier to just make up stuff with a scientist or journalist.
- -: Cliche. Between Daredevil, the Huntress, She-Hulk, and Manhunter, there’s plenty of competition. Still, lawyers aren’t as cliche as journalists or scientists.
- -: I think lawyers have a bit less international appeal. Journalists and soldiers and teachers do pretty much the same thing anywhere in the world. In contrast, lawyers are more limited to their countries because national laws are different everywhere.
- -: Usually unaccountable. Give him a boss, ideally one he doesn’t get along with.
- Tip: focus on unusual jobs. Editors have already read many comic books where a wrongfully accused suspect begs someone like Matt Murdock to clear his name. If you try something that cliche, you REALLY need to execute it well.
- +: Built-in audience. Military action is a fairly well-established subgenre, so that will make it easier to pitch your story and find an audience.
- +: Some editors and publishers (particularly Devil’s Due) are very comfortable working with military characters.
- -: Military characters tend to be two-dimensional. Spend some time developing the personality.
- -: Military stories are prone to ideological ranting. Do you think that servicemen tend to enlist because they’re honorable patriots or because they had no other opportunities? How would you describe the typical relationship between a soldier and his commanding officers? It’s hard to hide your preconceptions from the audience.
- -: When it comes to military characters, it’s hard to strike the right balance between research/authenticity and readability. Because the military sphere is alien to most civilians, you have to make more adjustments for readability than you would if you were writing a story about a cop or a teacher. It would surprise you how many readers don’t know the difference between a commissioned officer and a noncom.
- +: Sort of unexpected, particularly if the hero is undercover.
- +: Very wide plot range. You can pursue a lot of angles that are mostly off-limits to other types of heroes.
- -: Too much overlap with lawyers and politicians.
- -: Will readers want him to succeed?
- Tip: I’d recommend either having the hero go undercover, gradually turn away from his life of crime or have some compelling reason to become a criminal. If he’s a bona fide criminal, he will be hard to root for. (See The Hood, etc).
- +: Extremely relatable, particularly to young readers. Aside from police officers and firefighters, teachers have pretty much the only job you don’t need to explain to kids.
- +: You already know what a teacher does and sounds like. It won’t take you much (if any) research to write a teacher.
- -: Really hard to work into the average story. Unless your character is a science professor, how could his work as a teacher tie into his work as a superhero? Maybe he’s teaching someone really important (like the child of a VIP or someone with superpowers). Maybe he’s an undercover cop investigating a crime ring at a local high school. Maybe he teaches at a very unusual school, like the Xavier Institute, etc.
- -: Not particularly plausible. Teachers can’t just run off whenever they want to fight crime or investigate something. Unless your hero is willing to let supervillains run amok during school hours, he’ll have a lot of absences to explain.
- -: Vulnerable to life-lessons and preaching.
- -: It sort of forces you to use the teacher’s students.
- Tip: It’s difficult, but I really recommend tying the hero’s day-job to his work as a hero. If there’s no connection, the story probably won’t feel coherent.
- +: A bit fresher than soldiers.
- +: Sort of like criminals, mercenaries may have more story flexibility than soldiers.
- +/-: Typically less regulated than soldiers. On the plus side, this gives you more room to experiment with unusual teams doing atypical things. But they’d probably be less accountable to a chain of command than a soldier would be. Still, you can get around that by challenging him in other ways (like, ahem, in the battlefield).
- -: I think mercenary antiheroes are pretty cliche. You’d have to execute it really well.
- -: The profit motive usually makes mercenaries less heroic than soldiers. It may raise likability issues.
- +: I think there’s a considerable market for assassination plots.
- +: I think assassination plots tend to be both interesting and easy to distinguish. Adjusting the skill-set of the assassin will lead to a dramatically different story.
- -: It’d be hard to explain how a bodyguard has enough off-time to be a superhero on the side. Usually, when a superhero serves as somebody’s bodyguard, they’re doing it in costume (as in the Batman episode Laughing Fish) and not as a day job.
- -: Bodyguards are really limited by plot-type and where they can go when they’re on assignment. If they have to be next to their charge at all times, the story’s probably going to stall because the character can’t do much but react. On the other hand, if they’re roving investigators like a Secret Service agent trying to avert an assassination plot, that could work quite nicely. Day of the Jackal is probably the premiere story in that mold, so I’d recommend checking it out.
- Tip: I recommend focusing on the investigation angle more than the protection angle.
- +: It complements a superhero’s work very nicely. If a major criminal breaks out of prison (which happens rather often in superhero stories), maybe the police turn to a bounty hunter to capture the fugitive more quickly.
- -: The profit motive may raise likability issues, but I think less than it would for a mercenary. A bounty hunter’s job may entail violence, but a mercenary’s job is violence.
Did you like this article? Please see part 1 here.