My name is Justin and I’m working on a story about a group of superpowered teenagers, I’m just in the early stages of writing (haven’t actually started the novel yet) as I’ve hit a few bumps that I wanna fix first. So here we go!
1) My main character, Benny, is a Superman-Mary Sue. Sorry! He’s a somewhat idealized version of me and completely flawless but I don’t want to wreck him or my story by giving him flaws.
2) The main characters in my story are Benny, who is gay, Wes, who is gay but doesn’t come out till near the end, TJ, a girl, and Max, a guy (you’ll hear more about them later). I’m worried though about making my story too male- or attracted-to-male-centered which may turn off some readers. Should I remove/add MAIN characters to this mix, I have LOTS of straight and female characters but do I have too little in the main characters?
Those are my two biggest problems that I’d like to fix before I start writing. Also, I’m just running out the door now so I’m leaving you on a cliffhanger but I will add more info about the story here so keep your eyes open!
BTW, I don’t really have a title for it yet so I’m just calling it Lost Souls or LS for now.
Regarding 2). I’m not really sure what things are like in Canadian publishing, so please take this with a grain of salt. This feels very strongly like it’s going to be marketed as gay fiction. My guess is that the people reading gay fiction are not going to be pressing you very hard to put in token straight characters among the main cast. (To put it a bit crudely: if a reader wanted to read about straight characters, he’d pick up something else).
As for women characters in the main cast. I think having one fairly prominent woman may be sufficient. For example, the only prominent girl in the first Harry Potter book was Hermione. (Six books later, Hermione and MAYBE Ginny). Hero had two prominent female characters. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay had one (if that). So, if you’d like to use only one woman in a prominent role, I think you’re in good company, saleswise.
“He’s a somewhat idealized version of me and completely flawless but I don’t want to wreck him or my story by giving him flaws.” Character flaws add a lot to the story. For example, if Spiderman had been flawless, he would have saved Uncle Ben. It makes him much more interesting and believable that he didn’t.
I think publishers are generally leery about working with flawless protagonists. They’re rarely interesting and they sell pretty badly. (Superman, which is probably the top-performing flawless character, is performing so badly that DC doesn’t even have another Superman movie in development). It sounds like you’re marketing a Superman-like character with three main differences: 1) he will be unknown to prospective readers, 2) he doesn’t have legacy popularity based on decades of performance, and 3) he’s gay. All three of these suggest that he will have a harder time making sales than a character like Superman would. I’d really recommend giving him some flaws.
“He’s a somewhat idealized version of me.” Also, I’d really recommend building more authorial distance. Most author self-inserts suck because most authors aren’t honest enough to put in their flaws. But everyone has flaws in real-life. So the resulting character tends to feel unbelievable and two-dimensional. Also, most self-inserts aren’t challenged enough.
Thanks for the advice B.Mac and I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear enough. What I meant by Superman-Mary Sue is a Mary Sue character in the sense that they have no character flaws eg. Superman. I am actually planning on giving Benny character flaws however, I’m afraid/unsure how to go about doing so without wrecking the character. Any advice?
Also I have no intent of marketing this as gay fiction. In fact one of my main goals in writing this is to integrate popular gay characters into mainstream fiction without it having to be marketed as gay fiction.
“I have no intent of marketing this as gay fiction. In fact one of my main goals in writing this is to integrate popular gay characters into mainstream fiction without it having to be marketed as gay fiction.” That could be a tough sell to publishers. In the US, I feel pretty comfortable saying it would be all but impossible for a first-timer. I’ve never worked in the Canadian publishing industry, so I don’t know. Are there a lot of mainstream Canadian works with gay characters?
When you submit to publishers, I’d highly recommend coming up with some examples of stories with gay main characters that sold well among a mainstream audience. Without several past success stories, this is probably going to feel like a gamble. And it’s really, really hard for first-time authors to get gambles published. Publishers would feel much more comfortable rolling the dice with an experienced author that has an established audience, a track record of success, etc.
I’d recommend giving him flaws that readers can relate to and sympathize with. For example, Peter Parker stands aside when the wrestling organizer that swindled him gets robbed. That’s petty but I think a lot of readers could relate to that. (I certainly could). In contrast, some flaws tend to reduce the character’s likability. In particular, I’d recommend being careful with anger (a la Raphael), stupidity (a la most of the cast on Heroes) and excessive angstiness (Robin, in Batman and Robin).
Thanks for the advice B Mac. Anyways as promised here are some short character bios. What would you suggest for a character like Benny? Can you think of any famous character similar to him that have worked well.
BENJAMIN MICHAEL AMANSE was born February 23, 1992 in Toronto, with the ability of weather control. He is Caucasian with white-blonde hair and deep, dark blue eyes. Benny is the extrovert; he is spontaneous, charismatic, optimistic, enthusiastic and *in desperate need of flaws*. His personality often makes him the life of a party and a friend to all, however he is often taken advantage of and afraid of being alone. His interests include soccer. He has an older brother, Eric.
WESLEY JAMES DI’CEPPA was born July 18, 1992 in Italy, with the ability of enhanced speed. He is Caucasian with jet-black hair, soft brown eyes and a lean swimmer’s body. Wesley is the creator; he is intuitive, observant, unconventional, introverted, determined, shy, self-conscious and insecure. Because of this, he has several excellent, close friendships. His interests include swimming. He was born in Italy and emigrated with his parents, younger brother, Joey, and baby sister, Eva, in 2000.
TALA JESSLYN MENOZA was born April 24, 1992 in the Philippines, with the ability of cyberpathy. She is Asian with chestnut brown hair and eyes. TJ is compassionate. Her interests include. She was born in the Philippines and emigrated with her parents in 1994; she is an only child.
TJ’s parents divorce and her dad starts dating Rebecca. He eventually marries her and moves to Alberta with her, where ‘Paul’ murders them. TJ feels that her dad abandoned her and her brother until the police inform them of his death. She then becomes depressed and begins to feel guilty about her relationship with him.
MAX SCOTT STROM was born April 12, 1992 in Poland, with the ability of intangibility. He is Caucasian with wavy brown hair, hazel eyes. Max is the adventurer; he is energetic, courageous, bold, persuasive, competitive, impulsive and insensitive. His persona is entertaining, but often gets him and others in trouble or danger, even though he may have the best of intentions, his over confidence leads to poor judgement and he conflicts with Benny over leadership (more about this later). His interests include skateboarding, hockey and soccer. His younger sister, Lily, has terminal cancer.
KAYA MICHELLE ELMSFORD was born May 5, 1987 in France, with the ability of ability draining. She is Caucasian with short black hair and brown eyes.
Paul Lehark regularly abuses his wife, Heather, Kaya’s younger sister. After the storm, the abuse becomes torture and Heather tells Kaya about it. Encouraged by Kaya, Heather confronts Paul and an enraged Paul murders Heather. He drives to Kaya’s house and taunts her by shapeshifting into Heather and pleading for her help. In self-defence, she kills him, draining his ability and hides the body in horror of her crime. She then moves from St. John’s to escape the guilt she has for the deaths of Heather and Paul.
Seven years later Shane and Rebecca Menoza move in next door to Kaya and invite her over for dinner. Provoked by Rebecca, Kaya murders them both, draining their abilities. Driven by fear and paranoia she torches the house and drives away in their car, unknowingly having shapeshifted into Paul. She ditches the car and she shapeshifts back into herself.
hey, sorry I haven’t been on in a while alot going on here. so I’ve started working on chapter 1 and may even be able to post it before the end of the week. in the meantime any advice on characters/plotting is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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