First let me say, “Hello, everyone!” Below find some background on me and my ideas for this forum.
A Writing Bio:
I started writing “officially” as a sophomore in undergraduate but when I was younger–elementary school–I filled notebook after notebook with little stories.
I have just graduated with my MFA (Spring 09). As my thesis, I completed about 60 pages of a very literary work. I’d say it’s in the modernist tradition: very cerebral, fluid POVs, experimental syntaxes (think Virginia Woolf).
I am now 150 pages into my novel. However, I’ve had an itch for some time to do something with superheroes. I’ve decided to start working on it in a larger capacity as I keep plugging away on the book. It’s quite nerve racking. Being such a fan of comic books, I know how unoriginal all of my ideas are, but it’s something I am really driven to do and the more I work the more “me” it is all becoming.
Some background on my idea:
I’m going to say now my unnamed superhero project is a novel. Sometimes, I think of keeping it close to genre; sometimes, I think of blowing it up into something more epic; sometimes, I think I want to script it and find a great artist to work with for a comic book. However, it seems more novel as I’m already thinking of how to use sentence structures and punctuation to convey psychic abilities and how to adapt a lot of action to prose. On one hand, I want to stick to my strength. On the other, I want to do something new. Time will tell. Always has.
This forum is to help me me make my vision feel more concrete. I feel by posting it online it really comes closer to being a full project. As my novel nears closer and closer to completion, I look forward to increasingly immersing into this work I’ve already started on this forum. Also, this project is something great to do when I need downtime. It’s great to have fun writing to balance my “serious” writing.
If I had to describe my idea in 1 or 2 sentences:
A business man of suspicious and widely unknown origins seeks to create an army to face the threat of a parallel reality.
This idea will have multi-focus: the business man, the institute of superheroes, and a reporter who has been trying to bring him down for some time.
The thematic background will be the decline of investigative reporting and the on-going tension between the government and corporations. I plan for the president to become a figure in the story.
Anyway, each post, I’ll try to develop a character or some plot line. If anyone wishes to review, that’s wonderful. I like for critiques to be straight-forward and polite. In my workshop, I was definitely the sensitive artists, but I am a very craft oriented. Even when I write page-long sentences, I work to keep them tight and structured.
I’ll probably list my inspirations as I go along (ie. Character X is my version of X-Men’s So-and-So). For some reason this makes me feel better just having it all out on the table. Going from fan to writer is yet another anxious but exciting challenge of my artistic career.
Ultimately, I write for myself. Will I seek publication? Of course. But I never got into this for money–I just want it to flow forth naturally.
Do you mind if I ask where you got your MFA? I’d like to teach at an MFA program someday (or a community college)– just not Iowa! (Erm, Iowa is an excellent MFA program but probably far too literary for my writing style).
Dymion Sutherford (my Lex Luther) heads a bio-tech firm with branches in America, Germany, and India. At the suggestion of Dymion, the corporation pioneered brain/consciousness research. That research has culminated in DYNAMO, a chip planted in the brain’s frontal lobe that enhances brain functioning. The chip allows a human to fulfill the “maximum potential of their greatest gift.”
When the chip is implanted, tiny metal tendrils spawn out around the cerebrum and end by connecting to the cerebellum.
The result is what is called Sympathy, another term for psychic ability. The stimulation of the prefrontal cortex results in the increased psychic functioning. However, the psychic abilities are specialized. The human’s consciousness “sympathizes” with something else. A fire sympathy results in pyrokinesis. A mental sympathy results in some form of telepathy. The specialization depends on the consciousness of the individual. People who work in technical fields have a larger disposition for Tech Sympathy which will manifest in some kind of tech-ability. Professional swimmers have a Water Sympathy which will most likely manifest in the ability to control water mentally or the manifesting of some physical ability to help them better manifest water. (WARNING: MAY RESULT IN PHYSICAL TRANSFORMATION SUCH AS SCALES, FINS, OR WINGS).
By manipulating “evolution” through the brain, as opposed to intravenously or through radiation, the human’s body automatically adapts as necessary to the change, decreasing the appearance of side effects. The brain is the body’s central computer, in touch with every facet of a human’s physiology and psyche, controlling hormone levels, bio processes, and correlating those processes with emotions, a gateway between the material and immaterial. This regulation keeps someone from power overload. Someone with a muscle strength sympathy will only gain as much muscle mass and strength as he/she can handle, and the proper proportion of bone growth will occur. The brain is the ultimate coverer of bases. However, muscle man may still experience a severe decrease in speed and/or flexibility.
Mentality plays an important role in the powers manifested as well. One’s beliefs plays a large role to the extent that power can be manifested. And by beliefs, I mean unconscious beliefs. All the positive thinking in the world can’t help you become the best psychic. There may be a universal truth to the existence of an astral plane, but if someone with mental sympathy does not believe in the notion on a very deep level of consciousness (or be open to it), then it will severely limit their capabilities. Self-fulfilling prophecy plays a big part in power manifesting. Hence, those with some spiritual understanding seem to manifest the greatest degree of power. Power lies in imaginations.
Teens and pre-teens also manifest a large degree of their potential and constitute among the most varied types of sympathies. Their sympathies often seem illogical but actually are quite poetic. The loner may manifest invisibility. The loudmouth generates a sonic boom. This kind of sympathy is not likely in adults. Adults usually create sympathies most related to their jobs.
Small children with the chip experience “fixation.” While young, they become geniuses; however, as they get older, whatever genius they acquire becomes fixed, and they lack the ability to grow in learning or sympathy. Their enhanced learning creates a quick rigidity in their thinking that soon creates their own ceiling to “sympathizing.”
The chip is quite controversial due to the fact that it does more than just enhance cognitive functioning. It’s not the “smart chip” everyone thought it was going to be. There is a large debate as to whether or not the government should step in and regulate the chip’s production and distribution. However, due to a rather sensitive political climate, free business reigns. There is large spec
B Mac: I’m not sure which CH. 1 you mean. If you meant the literary work, I can send you something by email to keep from mixing works on the forum. If you meant the superhero work, then I say, “Thanks, me too!.”
I did my MFA at Mills College. WARNING: PLUG: If you go on Amazon and look up The Invisible Mountain by Carolina de Robertis you’ll see one of my peers who has just published a very well reviewed book with Knopf (Amazon even did a Q&A with her).
I’d like to teach at an MFA too, I just need to get this book published. Some of the faculty at Mills have already told me to keep in touch and contact them once the book (which was my thesis) is published and even some of my old profs at my undergrad institution have offered to help me find an in. So, I’m staying on target best as I can on the literary work. The sooner it’s done, the sooner I can get my life moving. But the superhero work is such a fun distraction. I’m trying to keep it from taking over. Right now, it’s a B-priority. I remind myself that the reward for finishing the book will be making it an A-priority.
Thanks for the interest!
And by this site, I think you’d be a great workshop professor. So many people in my class were mainly genre writers and wished they had professors who could help them with character development, structure, and the whatnot. This site is one of the few places where I find writing craft and convention to be very well balanced. You have a great grasp of the writing landscape and challenges facing a mainstream writer.
@ShardReaper: The chips are implanted on site. There is a screening process that takes awhile (6 months to several years depending on calculated strength of potential sympathy) and contractually obligated training (also longer for those with high sympathy levels or active sympathies like fire-starters).
It would take some skill and plot holes to sneak one out past all the clearance points and security. The chips are one time use, so it’s pointless to cut it out of someone’s head. But that may not stop some serial killer from collecting them for some paranoid/ideological reason. The only way to get fresh chips would be to break into the company or be some kind of inside man with the right level of clearance. The best bet would be for a doctor who has training in implanting and activating the chip to go rogue.
However there are a lot of high-tech safeguards to overcome. A machine manufactures and administers the chips at the exact time of a planned surgery. The are made to order. Hence, they cannot be taken in bulk. There are special chip detectors all throughout the building and each chip is easily tracked.
Those with active sympathies and mental sympathies will be the most debated of topics in the media and government.
I’m probably a lot more useful at reviewing superhero novels than more literary fare. (Among other factors, I’m more aware of what’s going on in the field and I think I can better empathize with an editor looking for a superhero story than one that wants literary works).
However, if you’d like me to review the literary novel, I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com . I’ll try my best not to be the guy at the workshop that reviews a romance and says something like “there’s too much kissing.”
If you happen to find yourself in Hong Kong from November 2-4, Marvel is hosting a preposterously swanky 8-course meal at Bo Innovation, a 3-star Michelin restaurant. “From the Avengers to Spiderman to Guardians of the Galaxy, each chef will have one night to create an exclusive Marvel-themed menu…” At a price of $300/person, this […]
In the Deadpool trailer, Ryan Reynolds’ character takes a shot at his last superhero movie, Green Lantern. I predict that it’ll actually do even worse critically than GL did (26% on Rotten Tomatoes). His movies (e.g. Green Lantern and RIPD) tend to be fanatically committed to comedy but have an awful record at actually being […]
John Lucas just published a superhero novelette about a superhero whose marriage counselor told him to grow a set. “Less than 24 hours later, he finds himself mired in an underworld of crime, violence, and ill-advised self-improvement.” The novelette, A Hero Is Always Alone Sometimes, can be downloaded for free on Amazon from 8/26 to […]
The new Fantastic Four movie runs like an ill-conceived first draft. Personally, I think it deserved a 30-40% on Rotten Tomatoes rather than a suspiciously low 9%. I can’t think of a single way in which it’s worse than Green Lantern (26%). Fill in the blank: “One thing most of the main characters share is ________.” […]
My expectations for the Ant-Man movie were exceedingly low — mainly based on concerns about the source material (no memorable villains, not much interesting personality, not conventionally useful superpowers, etc). In actuality, it’s a consistently funny movie with reasonably good fight scenes. Right now it’s averaging 79% on RT and I think that’s about righ
The most important thing in writing comic books is finding and honing your own unique voice. A unique voice makes your writing exclusive and authentic. Authenticity connects with readers. Many comic book writers have trouble developing their own unique voices when they are starting out. Fortunately, there are a few exercises you can do […]
Comics are a visual medium, and that can be an advantage over prose when it comes to storytelling. The motion and force in Wonder Woman’s punch, the adorkable grin on Ms. Marvel’s face, that gorgeous two-page spread of Gotham City: these are images that can be harder to get across in writing. But don’t get […]