Archive for March, 2010

Mar 29 2010

Some brief responses to Google queries from yesterday

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.

  • How to request a review forum at Superhero Nation. Leave a comment anywhere.
  • Is Batman overpowered? Overawesome, certainly.
  • How long does a manuscript have to be? 80,000-100,000 words is pretty typical for an adult novel manuscript.  For more details, please see this.
  • Great presents for writers. Step 1: Cut a hole in a box…
  • Is Book Antiqua a good font for books? Personally, I feel it’s harder to read than comparable fonts.  BA letters are taller, so you will be hard-pressed to fit as much space between each line.  See this sample for more details.
  • Comic book villain who controls water that is a guy.  Hydro-Man?
  • kill a couple cops.”  Umm, what?
  • Killer squirrels. This?
  • Why are so many superhero stories set in cities? Because superheroes need lots of people to save, and cities have more violent crimes that threaten lots of people.  Most superhero stories have the heroes encounter crime whenever they go out on patrol, and that’s more believable in New York than New Hampshire.  Also, cityscapes tend to look cooler than small towns.
  • I am on fire and need writing advice. I’d recommend dealing with the on fire thing first.

9 responses so far

Mar 29 2010

“I wrote the worst movie ever– sorry!”

Published by under Movie Review

The screenwriter for Battlefield Earth has written an amusing article describing his experience. And, also, an unsuccessful search for love on a Scientologist cruise.  No matter how bad your writing is, please rest assured that it’ll never be that bad.  And, if it IS that bad, please find some other line of work.

2 responses so far

Mar 28 2010

Please Be Confident, Writers

Published by under Writing Articles

1.  Be quietly confident. Ideally, confident enough to encourage prospective publishers and agents but not so arrogant that working with you sounds difficult.

2.  You need self-confidence to drive yourself through an emotionally grueling publishing process. Getting published will probably take thousands of hours of writing, submitting, rewriting and resubmitting.  If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else can help you much.

3.  Your query doesn’t need to say anything about you, and shouldn’t say much. Only talk about yourself if it makes you sound like you will sell thousands of copies.  For example, if you’re professionally published (any medium), have professional experience relevant to what you’re writing (like a doctor writing a medical drama), already have a large audience (through a day job, perhaps), have worked in the publishing industry or have something similarly impressive, say so.  If you don’t have any impressive publishing credentials, that’s fine–just focus entirely on what will actually impress the editor: namely, your book.

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Mar 26 2010

Neil Cameron’s A to Z of Awesomeness

Published by under Comedy

Kindergarten would have been a lot more kickass if I had had these when I was learning the alphabet. Most of these are pretty amusing, but I highly recommend  D and X.  Here’s Z.

5 responses so far

Mar 25 2010

What I’m reading today…

These three articles are by the editorial assistant that runs Editorial Ass.

No responses yet

Mar 23 2010

A. Jones’ Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

37 responses so far

Mar 22 2010

The Writing Advice I’m Reading Today

No responses yet

Mar 22 2010

Check out these teasers for Guardians of the Globe

Published by under Book Promotions,Comedy

Image is trying to promote its upcoming Invincible spinoff, Guardians of the Globe, and it hasn’t announced the team membership yet.  However, it has released some teasers, which are pretty funny… especially if you’re familiar with Wolverine Publicity.

Continue Reading »

10 responses so far

Mar 20 2010

Parody of New Moon

Published by under Comedy,Twilight

4 responses so far

Mar 20 2010

Brontes’ Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

41 responses so far

Mar 19 2010

How Your Novel Manuscript is Evaluated

Like many other literary agencies (and publishers, for that matter), Bookends uses reader’s reports to help agents/editors evaluate each credible proposal.  Assistants and/or interns will sift through the slush pile of unsolicited novel submissions and will pass along maybe 1% to their bosses for consideration, along with reader’s reports.

Bookends posted the guidelines for its reader’s reports, which is useful to you because it lets you know many of the criteria by which a novel proposal will be graded.

  • What was the book about?
  • Did the overall idea seem different and unique?
  • Was it a common theme, but executed in a unique way?
  • What did you think of the author’s voice?
  • Did the characters seem real and likable?
  • Was the plot seamless and did it make sense or were there a lot of holes?
  • Did the multiple plotlines blend together to create a whole book or did they seem choppy and disconnected?
  • Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Mar 18 2010

Avi’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

‘Siva Love Siva Hate’ is about a man’s shades of gray and about how circumstances can change a man’s life completely.

Comparable works: Tom Ripley books by Patricia Highsmith; Some incidents are inspired from ‘The Bourne Identity’ by Robert Ludlum.

Target Audience: Young adults, and probably older readers too.

I can take a lot of constructive criticism, so don’t hold back.

9 responses so far

Mar 18 2010

The Walrus’ Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

9 responses so far

Mar 17 2010

Specificity Sells Proposals, Says Nathan Bransford

Literary agent Nathan Bransford has some great ideas about how to make book proposals more enticing by adding specificity.  If you’re trying to find a professional publisher for your novel or comic book, I would recommend checking it out.

Here’s an excerpt.

Be as specific as possible about the plot.

I get so many queries that read (literally, though this is made up for the purposes of this post) like this:

Character Name is living peacefully in Hometown. But then a life-changing event occurs that changes everything. Secrets are revealed that turn her life upside down. Character Name faces grave danger as she embarks on a quest to save her people. This novel is filled with humor and passion and suspense and romance, and there’s a shocking twist that leaves the reader breathless.

Being vague leaves an agent with so many questions: What are the secrets? What is the life-changing event? What is the danger she’s facing? What happens that is funny and suspenseful and romantic?

When all of these key details are kept hidden the query ends up sounding like… well, pretty much every novel ever written. And chances are an agent is going to move on to the next query.

No responses yet

Mar 17 2010

This t-shirt will make supermodels want to date you

Published by under Comedy

2 responses so far

Mar 17 2010

Chapter Checklist

Here are twenty sets of questions to help you check your writing.

1.  Is the story easy to read through? Will readers understand what is happening as they read through it for the first time?

2.  At the end of each chapter, does the audience want to keep reading? For example, perhaps you make an exciting revelation, leave a character in danger, leave a character on the verge of doing or learning something interesting, etc.

3.  Do the characters have high-stakes, urgent goals? If not, check the pacing.  When little is at stake, the plot tends to drag.

4. Does each paragraph develop a character or advance the plot? If not, rewrite or shorten or remove as necessary.  One common offender here is unnecessary dialogue, such as niceties.

5.  Does the plot challenge the protagonists? Is there doubt they will succeed?  If the plot is too easy, you could make the antagonists tougher, make side-characters less supportive of the protagonists, make the protagonists less powerful, etc.

Continue Reading »

11 responses so far

Mar 15 2010

Jake’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

I’m writing a superhero novel that will be more emotional than action, so it’ll be more of a drama.

Here is an origin I am trying to use for the super-human community.  The meteor that destroyed the dinosaur population gave off some strange gas that tainted several primitive humans and eventually formed a second race, identified and named in the 1960s as Homo Super by Dr. Abson. Homo Super or Superhumans as they are now called have all become carriers of the A-Gene. The A-Gene is the gene that is what carries the persons’ super-powers, which have since then varied extremely widely.  Super-humans vary differently with their powers and level of strength. This means that some are far stronger than others.

9 responses so far

Mar 15 2010

Interview Tips for the Publishing Industry

Agent Kristin has some suggestions for applicants to her literary agency, but I think they’re mostly applicable to prospective publishing professionals across the board.  Even for applicants looking at the comic books/graphic novels side of the publishing industry.

No responses yet

Mar 15 2010

How to Win an Academy Award

Published by under Comedy

I have a checkered relationship with the Academy Awards…

3 responses so far

Mar 12 2010

A ‘zine for superhero fiction!

If you’re looking for a low-stakes way to get a short story (up to 6000 words) published, This Mutant Life might be worth looking into.  You can see its submission guidelines here.  “Stories which deal with the everyday lives of people with unusual abilities or physical characteristics are ideal, and there will be a definite preference given to stories which present interesting and well defined characters and situations.”  The pay is extremely low, though.

UPDATE: A Thousand Faces is a quarterly journal that also specializes in superhero stories. You can see its submissions page here.

14 responses so far

Mar 11 2010

Please Don’t Use Uncontrollable Superpowers to Angst Readers

One of the more frustrating things I see is when an author tries to give a character a guilty backstory but one he is utterly not responsible for.  For example, the character’s powers might manifest by killing the town and/or pretty much everybody she knows.  (Please see the TV Tropes Power Incontinence page for more examples).

If you want this character to feel guilty about her backstory, why not make her actually responsible for the accident?  For example, instead of having uncontrollable poison-massacre powers*, which is merely awful luck, maybe the character has powers that he uses in a reckless or ill-conceived way.  For example, maybe a flame-controller accidentally blows up a neighborhood by lighting up a gas line.  It’s still unintentional, but at least this gives him a choice to regret and atone for. Overcoming that will be more dramatic than “Gee, I’m sorry I was born to be a town-killer.” If the goal of the story is to have the character atone for his sins, it probably won’t be too dramatic if he’s not actually responsible for the sins in question. Or, if the character’s powers are completely uncontrollable, perhaps the character played some role in acquiring them, like participating in some poorly thought-out scientific experiment.

*Which are a losing Superpower Lottery ticket if ever there were one.   Pretty much everybody else in Heroes has something cool like superstrength or flight or time-travel.  Poor Maya.  Even the psychopathic serial killer has more control over his face-ripping telekinesis than she does.  (Also, he spent  a lot less time moping about his body count than she did).

8 responses so far

Mar 09 2010

Contest Reminder

Hello. If you haven’t seen my comic book’s five sample pages already, please check them out here and sign up for a chance to win a free signed copy when it comes out. Thanks! Having more interested readers will help me get published and I really appreciate your time.

No responses yet

Mar 09 2010

Fraggmented Takes On Silver Age Wackiness

Published by under Comic Books

Check out Fraggmented’s “Comic Book Insanity” category.   Here are some choice excerpts.

Then, while passing a volcano, Carol comments that Wonder Woman’s invisible plane obeys her every command “like magic!” To which WW responds, “The magic of science, Carol!” This is bitterly ironic, given that less than ten issues earlier Kanigher had explained that Wonder Woman’s plane was made when a magical cloud turned a flying horse into an invisible airplane. But she goes on to explain that little computers in the plane make it obey Wonder Woman and only Wonder Woman, just like even smaller computers in the lasso do the same thing! (Those of you going, “Huh?!?!?!?” should probably take a little break from reading this. It doesn’t get any better.)

In the original ‘X-Men’ #1, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, we open with a sequence of Professor X running the team through their training regimen. Beast has to do a difficult acrobatic routine, Angel must fly an obstacle course…then the young sixteen-year old Iceman gets a turn, but Professor X is “going easy” on him by merely requiring him to display his powers. Iceman frosts himself over with snow…and Professor X telepathically tells the Beast to chuck a bowling ball at his head while he’s distracted, to “test his reflexes”.

At some point, logic dictates that he’s secretly trying to kill Iceman, and the whole “training exercise” thing is just an alibi.

No responses yet

Mar 09 2010

Roseaponi’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

One response so far

Mar 04 2010

Tom’s Second Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

14 responses so far

Mar 04 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has a book trailer!

Published by under Book Trailers

I was sort of expecting Abe to win the fight by staking the vampire with a flagpole, but maybe that would have been too over-the-top.

7 responses so far

Mar 03 2010

Mnkyking’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Quill’s Story  is a traditional coming of age story, set in a recognizable fantasy world-but with an Asian flair.

The story begins with a young boy meeting his first love, who happens to be an elf. Drawn to her by the outsider character that defines their lives, he has his first meaningful positive emotional experience when he stumbles upon the girl in the deep forest. Later in the story (as you might expect) things get quite a bit rougher for the boy, and he must learn martial and magical secrets to not only fight evil, but merely to survive.

1. What are you trying to write?

*A short story, with an eye to sequels/spinoffs. Fantasy/action genre with martial arts mostly replacing the “sword” in “Sword and Sorcery” as the centerpiece.

2. Do you have a target audience in mind?

*Fans of traditional (Tolkien-style) fantasy, D&D’ers, Martial Arts fans. Generally late teens and older, as I expect to get a little too graphic with the violence for the little ones.

3. How thick is your skin?
* Like a rhino filled with custard. Seriously, though-be as critical as you like, so long as it’s useful in some way.

4 responses so far

Mar 02 2010

The Last Man on Mars’ Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

13 responses so far

Mar 01 2010

Peter Parker got fired…

Published by under Comic Books

…and faces eviction.  I bet he feels like an idiot now for not selling those inauguration tickets.

16 responses so far

Mar 01 2010

Illustrating the Economics of E-Books

Two things jump out at me here.  First, the author’s royalty is proportionally much larger with e-books than hardcovers (20-25% compared to 15%, and even lower for paperbacks).  Second, since distributing an e-book is cheaper, the cost to consumers should drop considerably.

Picture taken from the New York Times.  Full article here.  This statistic caught my eye: “The industry is based on the understanding that as much as 70 percent of the books published will make little or no money at all for the publisher once costs are paid.”

No responses yet

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