Jan 20 2010

Joel’s Review Forum

Published by at 10:03 am under Review Forums

What I’m writing: Flyover City! is a novel told in blog-form. The main character is a 28 year old slacker-type from Denver that would be a bit of a comic book geek in real life.  In the world of the story, however, superheroes are real– so Newsweek and Time Magazine feed his fix just fine.

Best references: Pop novels like “Microserfs” and “High Fidelity” are as much of an influence as “Hitchhiker’s Guide” and “Soon I Will Be Invincible”. I SWEAR I had the idea before comics like Astro City, Love Fights, and Marvels came out — but those are good comparisons.

Note: please keep in mind, as far as the writing style is concerned, that it IS written as a blog (and I’d love to have you check out my blog). The entry I’m attaching will hopefully give the readers here a good idea of how the “superhero stuff” plays out against the “regular guy” POV…

15 responses so far

15 Responses to “Joel’s Review Forum”

  1. joel wyatton 27 Jan 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks, B. Mac! – I’d like everything below to be in the first post…

    What I’m writing: Flyover City! is a novel told in blog-form. The main character is a 28 year old slacker-type from Denver, Colorado; the kind of guy who, in the “real world” would be be a bit of a comic book geek. In the world of the story, however, superheroes are REAL – so Newsweek and Time Magazine feed his fix just fine.

    Best references: Pop novels like “Microserfs” and “High Fidelity” are as much of an influence as “Hitchhiker’s Guide” and “Soon I Will Be Invincible”. I SWEAR I had the idea before comics like Astro City, Love Fights, and Marvels came out — but those are good comparisions.

    [NOTE:] keep in mind, as far as the writing style is concerned, that it IS writen as a blog (and I’d love to have you – hit my name, above) The entry I’m attaching will hopefully give the readers here a good idea of how the “superhero stuff” plays out against the “regular guy” POV…

    So – let’s begin…

    6. THE POWERAZZI!

    So it’s happened again.

    4 hours ago, only a handful of people had ever even heard of “secretID.net”: the webmaster, his girlfriend, a couple of hapless “citizen journalists” who wrote for the site, and me. They were an also-ran, a net-casualty, forever stalled alongside the information superhighway, posting links to better known and better written and better connected websites about who Diamond Girl is dating, and who’s rumored to be getting their walking papers from The Agency. (Ultraphenomenon and Mad Monkey, respectively; and it’s a well accepted fact that the latter has been on probation since the day he signed on. The guy is a few genes short of a homosapien, after all). They won me over last year when they scored an interview with Lilywatt (who I sort of pay some lo-fi heroine-worship to) so I check them out a couple times a week.

    But then, at 2 p.m. eastern time today, they won the coveted search-engine sweepstakes, solidifying their status as an official member of the so-called “Powerazzi”. With the help of an “anonymous source”, they outed Seattle’s own Emerald City Avenger – Vanguardian.

    Apparently, their source managed to hack into ‘Guardian’s email account. Autograph requests from kids, naked pictures of lonely housewives from the Midwest, jilted renters looking for some of that “vigilante justice” for their landlords; pretty much exactly what you would expect.

    But there were these other emails, forwarded from the work address of one Scott Tanner, a programmer for a Seattle area dot.com. Expense reports, 401k information, electronic pay stubs. From there, all it took was a resourceful photographer tailing him for a couple days for the truth to come out.

    SecretID’s server has been decimated from all the traffic, but the information is already posted all over the ‘Net… and now the world is short one more hero.

    Jeez, he started his crime-fighting career at 20. It always bugs me to think of heroes being younger than me. And he had a better job, too.

    I remember in middle school, when “grunge” was all the rage, everybody speculated that Denver would be the next Seattle. It was only a matter of time before we’d be “made”, with our very own super-powered protector, and our music scene would be the biggest thing in the world. Aside from those few, die-hard Big Head Todd and the Monsters fanatics, neither prediction panned out for us.

    I know that I’m exactly the kind of groupie that these sites are targeted to. And no, Vanguardian wasn’t exactly top-tier, but this sort of thing does set a pretty dangerous precedent. There’s been rumors that The Agency may set up outed metahumans in other cities, under assumed civilian identities, where they’ll take on new code-names and costumes. But what happens when the Powerazzi manages to crack one of the top-10? The Alphamale, Ultraphenomenon, Greyraven, Ms. Mage… these guys are icons, bigger than the flesh and blood beneath the body-armors. They’re symbols, living embodiments of the zeitgeist. The mere mention of their names makes third world dictators reconsider their line of work. The best marketing campaign in the world can’t re-create that kind of buzz.

    I read a magazine article last week that blamed the whole Powerazzi phenomenon on the book “Greyraven: The Unauthorized Biography”. Bullshit. That book is a work of unprecedented, journalistic brilliance, written with all the integrity that suggests. I keep my copy of it on my bedside table; signed, from when the author was at the Tattered Cover last year.

    Olympic fencer and silent movie star Oliver Girard created the persona of Greyraven nearly 80 years ago. It hurt exactly no one, when it was revealed that he trained his body to peak physical condition under the tutalage of Harry Houdini, that he took up his crusade against injustice when his wife was murdered by ruthless gangsters. It’s ancient history. So what if the book revealed that the mantle has been passed down, from generation to generation, to Darkstreak, the “Teen Terror”? There’s been no less than 7 Darkstreaks since 1940, when Greyraven first switched from his fedora and domino mask combo to his trademark hood and cape. What about Scarab, Miss Masque, or Green Lama; any of the old first generation heroes who’ve un-masked over the years? For all the “retribution” hysteria, they’ve all managed to live long, healthy lives.

    Greyraven: TUB is a work of genius. I can only hope that I one day I’ll have the chops to write something that amazing, after cutting my teeth on enless puff-pieces about cupcakes and hot dogs.

    (Note to self: due Monday)

    Trust me, if anyone ever attempts to tarnish the legacy of the ‘Raven, I’ll don a utility belt and kick their ass myself.

  2. B. Macon 27 Jan 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Okay, I’ve added your description of your project to the top of the post. I’ll do the review later today. Please remind me tomorrow with a comment if I haven’t reviewed it by then.

  3. joel wyatton 28 Jan 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Hey, B. Mac – you mean, like, remind you to post a review of my SAMPLE? I feel like a cad doin’ so – but…

  4. B. Macon 28 Jan 2010 at 5:10 pm

    So this begins with “6. THE POWERAZZI!” Does this mean that this is the sixth posting? Would you like to start with #1?

    I think that “better known” and “better written” and “better connected” should have dashes (“better-known,” etc).

    Cool premise. Sort of like Gossip Girls for superheroes. This blog/media outlet has a much more interesting vibe than, say, the Daily Planet.

    “homo sapien” should have a space. I think that technically it should have the plural S (homo sapiens), even though you’re talking about just one of them, but I can understand why it’d be smoother not to have it.

    “They were an also-ran, a net-casualty, forever stalled alongside the information superhighway, posting links to better known and better written and better connected websites about who Diamond Girl is dating, and who’s rumored to be getting their walking papers from The Agency.” This is a very long sentence. I think it should be broken up.

    The author here has very little focus and goes on tangents, but I like them.

    “die-hard Big Head Todd and the Monsters fanatics”– I’d either recommend switching this to “die-hard fanatics of Big Head Todd and the Monsters.”

    “They’re symbols, living embodiments of the zeitgeist.” I think it works out well for the character’s voice that he means this as a strong line of praise. If someone actually spoke like this in real life, I’d probably smack him with a football book.

    “The best marketing campaign in the world can’t re-create that kind of buzz.” Haha. 🙂

    “Greyraven: The Unauthorized Biography” is a sort of bland name, I think. What would you think about giving it a more distinct title?

    “tutalage” should be “tutelage,” I think.

    I find the self-justification of this character very effective. “For all the ‘retribution’ hysteria, they’ve all managed to live long, healthy lives.” I’m getting a good sense of his opinions as well as what’s wrong with them or how other characters in the story might react to them.

    “cutting my teeth on enless puff-pieces”– I think that should be “endless.”

    (Note to self: due Monday)– Haha!

    I think you could benefit from a more dramatic closing here. What’s at stake? Why should we keep going? (For example, something’s at stake, we’re about to learn something interesting, something interesting is about to happen, etc).

  5. joel wyatton 29 Jan 2010 at 9:03 am

    Y’know, I’ve been searching forever for a web-fic (or just plain “fic”) site that would really get what i’m going for w/ FC (not that it has to be all ‘mutual admiration society’, but you know what i mean) – wish i knew about these forums a long time ago…

    I debated posting “1. In the Beginning”, but felt that this entry encapsulates the mundane, everyday elements happening against the super-hero backdrop. (which is really what’s at the heart of the whole shebang)

    Already integrated some of your suggestions on this post / “chapter”. I’d like to take you up on the beta-reviewing mentioned on the site explaination (if and when you’ve got the time / inclination) – it’s nice to have someone who can be critical, but still “gets” what i’m going for. The entire “story so far” is posted on my blog (in fact, -IS- my blog). I’m about 4 – 5 entries from completion…

    Of course, nothing generates more reviews like returning the favor, so I’m gonna get crack-a-lackin’ on visiting some of the other forums!

  6. Ghoston 29 Jan 2010 at 10:21 am

    Joel,
    I like what I have read so far ( even though I thought that I wouldn’t based on your description). It kind of feels like bram stoker’s Dracula meets superheroes. I am not much for technical details, but I can tell you that you have a good narrative voice and you first chapter has a good flow to it. I can’t wait for the next chapter.

  7. joel wyatton 29 Jan 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks, Ghost! – That raises a good question: I’ve got a variation on that very discription on all the web-fiction sites; does it “capture” the essence of FC! (and you like the story in spite of what it suggests, OR) do you think there’s a better way I could tell potential readers what to expect (i.e., draw them in)?

    I feel like my concept is pretty simple, but coming up with an ideal description to put on the back of a (dream of dreams) print edition has been trickier than i expected…

  8. B. Macon 29 Jan 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Based on entry #6, my best guess is that this is a story about a self-interested blogger looking to make the big time on the superhero paparazzi circuit. It’s definitely possible to make an interesting backcover blurb out of that.

    Based on #1, I have no idea. I’m having trouble picking up connections between the stories in #1 and #6–I don’t think they’re told by the same character, hardly any of the subject material overlaps, as far as I can tell none of the characters overlap, etc. I have very little idea where the story is going based on #1.

  9. joel wyatton 29 Jan 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Rest assured – all the entries are written by one individual blogger (which is to say, a single point of view).

    On the goal thing; I try to avoid the term, but the Joel is most definitely a “slacker” a la Lister in “Red Dwarf”, or Rob from “High Fidelity”. His goals are all admittedly vague, like the city dwelling hipster who says they’re going to perform comedy at an open-mic night, or start DJing. RIGHT after this bong hit…

    Which isn’t to say that it’s a story “about nothing”. While it centers around a “regular guy” who lives in this world, he IS ultimately pulled into the action.

  10. Ghoston 29 Jan 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Joel,
    I am not sure what your last post was asking, but I will try to elaborate on my earlier post. From what I read, your story’s structure seems to resemble “Dracula”, which is not a bad thing. It worked for Bram Storker, and it could work for you. However, it is an unusual form of story telling and as such may turn off readers. So, keep in mind that if you want to write your story this way, it will have to be better than the average novel. On the flip side, its novelty may be its biggest selling point(what do you think B. MAC).
    So far I like what I have read, and in my opinion, a good voice and an interesting writing style will make up for a little novelty in the writing format. I think you should go with what you have now.

  11. joel wyatton 30 Jan 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Yeah, the whole thing started as an experiment, to see if I could do a complete novel written as a personal blog. It’s tricky sometimes -while I definitely want it to “work” as a peice of fiction, it still needs to read as a bunch of journal entries.

    TOTALLY agree that FC! lives or dies based on that novelty factor. I had the idea for the STORY itself 15 years ago, but filed it away when some similar works entered the public consciousness. I probably never would have dusted it off, if I wasn’t writing it as a blog (which is what I think sets it apart from Marvels, Astro City, et al)

  12. B. Macon 30 Jan 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Okay– do you think you could have the blogger reveal some high-stakes goal earlier on? For example, I think #6 did that really well. One hero has already been outed and we’ve been introduced to a cutthroat paparazzi that is always looking for the next big story. I didn’t feel that sort of urgency to #1. Also, I thought it was sort of a red flag that you opted to start with #6 rather than #1. The introduction HAS to be the best place to start the story– if not, why bother having it?

  13. Joel Wyatton 30 Jan 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hmmm… actually, I DID like what you mentioned in the comments section for my first entry, to maybe give it a LITTLE more drama.

    The thing is, though, “Joel” is not a high-stakes-goal kind of guy, and the story isn’t STRICTLY an adventure / action / sci-fi tale. — It’s as much about the slice-of-life elements (work, sex, love-life, friends, growing up) – and finding HUMOR in those elements (if I’m doing my job) as it is the “superhero stuff”.

    A good example of what i’m trying to accomplish (timely, too) would be Catcher in the Rye – Episodic; with a lead character / narrator with no goals, and a story with no immediately discernable sense of urgency. The reason I chose “issue 6” is the same reason an author chooses a particular chapter at a book reading (and rarely starts reading from page one) – because it provides an example of the overall theme or tone.

    Hope this response doesn’t sound defensive – I’m getting some of the most constructive feedback here that I’ve gotten in a long time. And of course, I’m no J.D. Salinger – if the WRITING is boring, there’s no excuse for that! Just pointing out that it’s not strictly a “traditional” superhero story.

    (maybe I’m just figuring out that “Catcher in the Rye meets Watchmen” is a tough sell. Whoda thought?)

  14. Ghoston 30 Jan 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Joel,
    I think what B. Mac (please correct me if I am wrong B. Mac) was trying to say was that “Joel” the character should write about things that are high stake like you did in #6. It doesn’t have to be about the supers in your fictional world, but for an opening chapter it might help to establish the setting. Maybe the main characters girl friend went missing after some super brawl or something. Anyways, I recommend reading Dracula (if you haven’t already) to get an idea of how you could start your story.

  15. B. Macon 31 Jan 2010 at 8:07 am

    Yeah, I agree that it can be high-stakes without having anything to do with superheroes. For example… maybe Joel’s on the verge of losing his job or his girlfriend’s getting surly about something or his parents are trying to push him to grow up, etc.

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