Oct 31 2010
Here are some questions and Google queries I got this week.
“Why are there no good superhero novels?” I disagree with this premise–I’d recommend checking out Wild Cards, Dark Cloud Rising and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. However, let’s say for the sake of argument that there aren’t many good ones. I think that’s because superhero novels are very rare. Probably fewer than 50 unlicensed adult superhero novels have been published over the past ten years. With so few books on the market, there couldn’t be tons of good ones. PS: Besides presidential memoirs, I doubt that any subgenres have a higher proportion of Pulitzer winners than superhero novels.
Action novels–not enough story. Even an action story needs a central plot and character development. And not “development” in the Dragonball Z sense, charting how much more powerful a character becomes from one chapter to the next. How does the protagonist’s quest change him? What sort of difficult choices does he face?
Is “superhero” a genre? Not any more than “vampire,” I think. To be considered a genre, I think that a concept has to say a lot about the main goal of the author and/or main character. For example, detective stories are always about solving mysteries and romances are always about finding and/or protecting love. I’ve seen too many superhero stories that have nothing to do with beating up criminals to think that “superhero” meets that description. I would consider “superhero” to be a subgenre, usually of the action genre. Another indicator that “superhero” is not a genre is that bookstores rarely, if ever, designate a shelf (or online search category) for superhero stories. Genres usually get their own shelves.
How to tell if your superhero story sucks. Well, we’re too polite to put it like that, but having your story critiqued on a review forum on Superhero Nation or Critters can identify potential problems and solutions.
Unused superhero names. Heh, good luck with that. If you want original names, you probably need to come up with your own or brainstorm privately with a friend. If you use a name posted on the Web, you’re running the risk that someone else might have used it.
How to write a superhero story like [a particular series]. You are capable of better writing than glorified fan-fiction. If not, I would recommend looking into other career paths.