Archive for May 5th, 2009

May 05 2009

How to Do Superhero Gadgets Well

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

1. A hero’s gadgets are only interesting when he uses them in an exciting and/or unexpected way. No one will say “Wow, he had shark repellent!” But they will be impressed if your hero comes up with a clever way to apply a general tool. Versatile, general tools tend to be more interesting than gadgets that are only useful in a particular situation.

2. Narrow tools may force you to write an Eigen plot. Eigen plots are contrived set-ups where the superhero gets opportunities to use gadgets and/or superpowers that are typically useless. Eigen plots typically come off as cheesy. When the hero catches a golden opportunity to use his shark repellent, it won’t make him look good… it will probably just make you look bad.

3. Tools tend to be more creative and versatile when they draw on the scenery. For example, a grappling device lets the hero use the setting and scenery in ways he couldn’t before. He can set ambushes, try alternate entrances and exits, etc. A cutting tool can do many things depending on the situation. The hero may be able to cut through doors and other hard obstacles, or fashion bandages out of a shirt, or maybe even knock a streetlamp onto an enemy.

4. I recommend sticking with gadgets that are easy to understand. Gadgets that are really high-tech may require more explanation.

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May 05 2009

How to lay out a proposal: sell the strengths, address the weaknesses

Your proposal needs to accomplish two main goals:  1) show that there are readers out there and 2) show that you are well-poised to grab them.  First, sell your strengths, the factors that make your concept more likely to succeed.  Second, cover your weaknesses.  There probably will be some, particularly if you’re a first-time author.

To get you started, I’ll run you through how I would go about planning a proposal for a nonfiction book about how to write fan-fiction. (If you’d like to write such a book, go for it).

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