Jul 09 2009

Want to be a Guest Writer?

Published by at 9:22 pm under The Author-Audience Connection

Next week, I’m off to a wedding.  I’m very excited, but I’ll be away from my computer for 4-5 days.  Over that time, I’d like to run some articles written by our guests here.  If you have any writing advice you’d like to share, please write up a sample post up to 500 words and send it to me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.   Thanks for your help.

36 responses so far

36 Responses to “Want to be a Guest Writer?”

  1. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 10 Jul 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I just finished writing up a sample post. It’s 497 words. Haha. I’ll email it now.

  2. B. Macon 10 Jul 2009 at 9:28 pm

    It depends on the length. I might add/cut material to make it fit into the 250-500 word range. However, aside from that, the editing should be pretty minor. For example, I’m going to print Whovian’s submission verbatim.

    PS: It’s dynamite. Thanks, Whovian!

  3. B. Macon 10 Jul 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Sounds great. I leave Wednesday morning, so I can work with anything that comes as late as Tuesday night.

  4. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 11 Jul 2009 at 6:23 am

    “It’s dynamite. Thanks, Whovian!”

    Yay! I guess I didn’t do too bad for a girl who’s never written a writing article before. But I think I could have squeezed a few more ninjas in, even if that would defeat the purpose of a romance article. Haha.

  5. Marissaon 11 Jul 2009 at 9:09 am

    I’m sure B. Mac will know what to do. While Whovian’s is very good, yours is probably wonderful as well, and it would be a shame to let a good article go to waste.

  6. Tomon 11 Jul 2009 at 10:37 am

    Gaah! I want to do this, but I can’t think of anything to write about!

  7. B. Macon 11 Jul 2009 at 10:57 am

    Yeah. Romance is such a broad area, and we have so very little about it. We have at least 3 articles on superhero costumes, for Christ’s sake. We can easily handle several articles on romance.

  8. Marissaon 11 Jul 2009 at 11:08 am

    What are you good at, Tom? I’m sure we could think of something for you.

  9. Tomon 11 Jul 2009 at 11:17 am

    @B.Mac: Yes, I think a few articles on romance would be greatly appreciated.

    @Marissa: I don’t know! Gaah!

    I could try to write an article on romance I guess… just don’t expect the advice to be any good.

  10. Marissaon 11 Jul 2009 at 11:20 am

    Tom, I’m guessing that the two articles on romance might be enough for right now. Maybe you could contribute that at a later date? We would kind of like to spread them out so it isn’t suddenly ‘romance week’ on Superhero Nation.

    What’s something you feel you excel in that others seem to have trouble with?

  11. B. Macon 11 Jul 2009 at 11:56 am

    Hey, Tom. Here are some suggestions.

    –Writing parody, satire and other forms of reference-based humor. For example, you remember that time I did the scene where Catastrophe makes a pitch to a boardroom in an attempt to make fun of Reed Richards is Useless Syndrome? You pointed out, correctly I think, that it probably wouldn’t be funny to people that weren’t familiar with the trope. So how would you have set up something like that? Also, how would you recommend handling referential humor based on series that are not familiar to the target reader? For example, Austin Powers 1 and 2 are remarkably effective for the target audience (13-30 males) even if you’re not really familiar with James Bond.

    –Since you’re working on a TV cartoon, you probably have the youngest target audience here (8-13, I’d guess). How is writing for kids different?

    –Like comic books (but usually not novels), TV shows are set up as a series of episodes/issues. Especially in the early episodes/issues, the writing has to appeal to audience members that might be first-time watchers. How would you recommend setting that up?

  12. Holliequon 11 Jul 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Ack. I would write you something, except I can’t think of anything that’d be useful. Sorry. >.<

  13. B. Macon 11 Jul 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Holliequ, could I suggest an article about some facet of characterization or dialogue? You do both of those particularly well.

  14. Tomon 12 Jul 2009 at 2:25 am

    B.Mac, I think I might just do two articles, based on your first two suggestions. Thanks!

  15. Yogion 12 Jul 2009 at 4:47 am

    I would love to write an article, but I can’t think of anything. ><

  16. Tomon 12 Jul 2009 at 12:24 pm

    They’re done (well it was done a few hours ago but I’ve only just got round to mentioning it). Emailed them. Enjoy reading.

  17. Holliequon 12 Jul 2009 at 3:41 pm

    “Holliequ, could I suggest an article about some facet of characterization or dialogue? You do both of those particularly well.”

    Hmm. Okay, I’ll have a go.

  18. Ragged Boyon 19 Jul 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Would anyone read an article about fashion tips for superhero costumes? I know most of you guys could care less about fashion, but I’ve typed it up and would like to know if anyone’s interested?

  19. Ragged Boyon 19 Jul 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Or does anyone have a suggestion for an article they think I could write?

  20. Davidon 19 Jul 2009 at 4:16 pm

    You could try an article on developing friendships.

    For example, my character Cara hates all angels because one of them killed her mother. So when shes saved by an angel I’m trying to show a growing friendship. How could I go about that?

  21. B. Macon 19 Jul 2009 at 6:40 pm

    “Would anyone read an article about fashion tips for superhero costumes? I know most of you guys could care less about fashion, but I’ve typed it up and would like to know if anyone’s interested?”

    I’m interested! Could you send it to me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com?



    Tweaking David’s idea a bit, I think that writers would also benefit from an article about how to develop cooperative relationships. How do you make a relationship interesting if there isn’t much conflict?

  22. Ragged Boyon 21 Jul 2009 at 8:29 am

    Ok! I’ll send it as soon as I can. I just need to fine tune it. I was also thinking of writing an article about making self-inserts interesting and avoiding Mary Sue-isms. Haha.

  23. B. Macon 21 Jul 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Hmm. Your concept sounds interesting. However, I’d be careful with self-inserts. Generally, self-inserts are seen as poor characterization. If I could recommend a slight tweak, what would you think about something like “how to draw on yourself without making a self-insert character”?

  24. Tomon 21 Jul 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Fun fact: The titular character in Citizen Kane (considered by many the greatest movie of all time) was played by Orson Wells, the director.

    So yeah…

  25. B. Macon 21 Jul 2009 at 8:54 pm

    I liked Citizen Kane, but here’s a possible counterexample. Director M. Night Shyamalan cast himself as a deus ex machina in Signs. (Spoiler)– he pops in to tell the main characters that the aliens can be killed with water. (Umm, I’m hardly the first person to bring this up, but what was their plan to deal with rain?)

  26. Tomon 22 Jul 2009 at 2:43 am

    The point I was trying to make is that self-inserts aren’t necessarily bad. Of course, I’d be lying if I said that in an overwhelmingly high number of cases it IS bad.

    Speaking of Shyamalan, his latest project? A film based on my favourite animation of all time, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Hopefully he won’t appear at the end and kill the Fire Lord by himself in a huge Deus Ex Machina. 😛

  27. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 2:49 am

    Self-inserts are bad enough that an article on doing them correctly might cause more problems than it would solve.

    I think that self-inserts should be avoided, just like Mary Sues or mirror-appearance scenes.

    It’s possible to draw on one’s own experiences to write a character, but once it becomes a self-insert, that suggests it’s crossed a line. The 1% of successful self-inserts that might come out of any such article are not even close to a match for the 99% that will say “SEE, I FOLLOWED THIS ADVICE SO MY SELF INSERT IS FINE AND YOU CAN’T SAY OTHERWISE” even though they actually suck. Nothing against the article’s writer, of course. It could be the best advice in the world, but it’d still probably promote the bad sort.

  28. Ragged Boyon 22 Jul 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Yeah, you’re probably right about the self-inserts, Marissa. I was being facetious, anyway. Although, I’d say so far Adrian’s doing pretty well, despite being what he is. I avoid Mary Sue-isms as much as possible. In fact, Adrian’s going to get a pretty bad punishment for skipping school to search for aliens. No free passes for you, little mister insert.

  29. Davidon 22 Jul 2009 at 6:33 pm

    hey RB hows ur peice on writeing about cloths dezines and such going?

  30. B. Macon 22 Jul 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I’ll let Tom take first crack at this, but if I were doing an article on something like “using yourself without creating self-insert characters,” I’d recommend tips like the following.

    1. Give the character a defining flaw that bothers you. That’ll help create authorial distance.

    2. If a character HAS to have a job similar to the one you have or want, please have him perform the job in a way you do not approve of. For example, a purely awesome/commendable journalist would be pretty boring in one of my books, because that character would obviously be a stand-in for me. In contrast, if he were incompetent or shady or otherwise flawed (like the protagonist of Transmetropolitan), he’ll feel like a real character and not like the author.

    3. If there’s any romance involved, please give the character a lot of romantic obstacles. Part of the awfulness of Twilight was that it feels like the author wrote a book about herself being the heartthrob of pretty much every major guy in the story. That’s pathetic. If the character gets too close to home, I’d recommend giving him more substantial romantic obstacles. Make him work to win the love-interest. Give him flaws that he has to overcome. Etc.

    4. DO NOT USE ANY MENTAL ILLNESSES YOU HAVE. Unless you’re doing nonfiction, I think this is more or less inexcusable. It’s very, very hard for someone that has a mental illness to empathize with how the audience will react to a character with that illness. One recurring problem is that audience members tend to be less sympathetic to the rationale/excuse that the mental illness justifies unheroic behavior. Also, using any mental illnesses you have will probably make any criticism of the character feel more personal than it should.

    5. If a character has a defining trait that you identify very strongly with, give it a different spin or origin. For example, I’m pretty clever at solving literary problems, and any clever editor I wrote would probably sound a lot like me. But a clever engineer or doctor would probably feel very different. I’m pretty competitive, which derives from an almost manic self-confidence. But I could make a competitive character feel distinct by giving it a different origin. Perhaps he comes from a place where competition is the only way to survive. Or perhaps he has major issues with his parents and wants to make them proud, etc.

    6. Let him make mistakes. Every major character should. If you are too bothered by concerns like “but I wouldn’t make a mistake like that!”, you are probably too close to the character.

    7. Bottom line, you’re probably not as interesting to us as you are to yourself. If you really are so interesting that people would want to read about a character that is essentially you, why not just write an autobiography?

  31. Wingson 22 Jul 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Sigh…I’d love to do this, but I’m still locked in my Wings-sized birdcage with no actual computer. Curses.

    – Wings

  32. Davidon 22 Jul 2009 at 8:52 pm

    B. Mac offered to buy you a new computer? If it wasn’t him it was his evil twin, Big Mac.

    Mmmmm, Big Macs.

  33. B. Macon 22 Jul 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Pardon? I can’t even afford to buy a new computer for myself, let alone anybody else at this point.

  34. Ragged Boyon 23 Jul 2009 at 7:00 am

    No. The program I’m working in offers a chance to win a new computer. I think I’m pretty good in the running to win, too. Wish me luck.

    “Hey RB, how’s your peice on writing about clothes designs and such going?”

    As for the article, I’m still tweaking it. I think it’s good, though. I’m thinking of doing a general article and then a more specific one to easier organize the information. Because I’m never usually on the the same computer it may be a while before I can send it. But I think I can have it up by next week.

  35. B. Macon 23 Jul 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I can’t guarantee I will run it, but I’m not sure without seeing it.

  36. Ragged Boyon 27 Jul 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Sorry on the article stall. I should have it up this week.

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