Archive for September 24th, 2010

Sep 24 2010

Plot discrepancies in comic books

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.

FilmFodder wrote a comic book review, How Not to Write a Comic Book. Most of it is helpful–I agree that having too many team meetings or random fights can drive the plot to a screeching halt, as if the writer is trying to burn up time while he figures out where the plot is headed.

However, I’d like to offer a qualification for the following statement: “Here’s a hint to the writer and artist: if the writer has a person saying one thing, don’t show her doing the exact opposite.” Okay, it could be a problem if readers don’t understand why there would be a discrepancy. (I haven’t read the issue, but based on the review it sounds like there isn’t a good reason for the character to explain why she’s refusing to train as she is training). However, under some circumstances, having a character say one thing while doing another might be dramatically effective.

  • The character is being hypocritical. For example, a character talking about the need for sacrifice at the same time he’s eating a lavish dinner.  In most cases, a hypocritical character won’t be aware of the hypocrisy, but perhaps he does know and just doesn’t care what the other characters in the scene think of him.
  • The character’s perspective of the situation is off. For example, if a really angry guy gets asked to calm down, he might scream something like “I’m being perfectly calm.  Don’t ****ing tell me to calm down!”
  • The character is lying from off-panel. For example, John might give Mark’s widow a sob story about the horrible “accident” that killed Mark, but as he says that the camera flashes back to John shooting Mark in the back.
  • The character is using misleading language or a double-entendre. For example, if Mark’s widow thanked him for being there with him until the very end, he could say something like “I always had his back.”

If readers don’t understand why there is a discrepancy between what a character says and what you’re showing the readers, readers will probably get confused.

No responses yet

Sep 24 2010

Take THAT, M. Night Shyamalan

Published by under Comedy

10 responses so far

Sep 24 2010

An unexpected similarity between Toy Story 3 and Nightmare on Elm Street

Published by under Uncategorized

I watched Toy Story 3 and the original Nightmare on Elm Street today.  The Toy Story films and the original Nightmare on Elm Street are the only suburban-set movies I’ve encountered that avoid overused themes about conformity and/or hypocrisy (unlike American Beauty, Stepford Wives, Little Children, etc).   I found it refreshing that neither Toy Story nor Nightmare had a desperate love affair by a repressed housewife or a completely dysfunctional family trying to keep up appearances or other such suburban cliches.

Suburban (and rural) settings don’t come up all that often in superhero stories. I think urban settings make for easier action because there are more high-profile targets, more criminals, more people to save, etc. However, unless your story is all action all the time, that might not be a huge problem. For example, much of The Incredibles used a suburban setting, which was pretty effective in a story where one of the central decisions was whether to accept a safe, mundane existence or to be extraordinary. (It’s hardly the first story to take a somewhat condescending attitude to suburbia, but I thought the “we urbanites are more enlightened than you” implication was much softer than in, say, American Beauty).

7 responses so far