Archive for October 31st, 2010

Oct 31 2010

This week’s reader questions (finding an agent, editorial jobs, copyright, etc)

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.

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?

How to copyright a comic book. Your comic book is automatically copyrighted as soon as you write it. You’re fine.
How to copyright a superhero. Likewise.

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.

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