Archive for April, 2011

Apr 28 2011

Write a Guest Post for SN!

Published by under Superhero Nation

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.

I’m looking for informative and entertaining articles aimed at novelists and/or comic book writers.


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5 responses so far

Apr 25 2011

How to Use Dialogue Tags Effectively

Published by under Dialogue

Dialogue tags are phrases like “he said” or “she joked” that let readers know which speaker is delivering a line.

1.  If the dialogue tag isn’t necessary, remove it. Does the dialogue tag provide enough information to readers to justify spending 2+ words?  I’ve read manuscripts with hundreds of unnecessary dialogue tags.  Cutting back can free up pages for actual content.

  • WASTE OF SPACE: “I’ll never leave you,” he promised. “I’ll never leave you” is obviously a promise, so “he promised” is unnecessary.
  • HELPFUL:  “You study three hours a day,” she accused.  Without “she accused,” readers might misinterpret this as a compliment.

2.  Make sure your tags fit the context of the sentence.

  • WRONG: “I want a pizza,” he stated.   “Stated” is far too formal to fit here.  (It also connotes deliberation and authority/confidence, like someone delivering an official finding or report).
  • RIGHT: “This man was murdered,” the coroner stated.
  • SO VERY WRONG: “I want a pizza,” he ejaculated.

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7 responses so far

Apr 24 2011

Hockey haikus

Published by under Comedy

Good luck, Vancouver:

Your goalie’s our MVP

Only doom awaits.


Blackhawks ascendant

Canada: “What can we say?

Even dead cats bounce.”



5 responses so far

Apr 20 2011

How to Punctuate Dialogue in Novels and Short Stories

Published by under Punctuation

1. A line of dialogue with a tag like “he said” or “Joan replied” should end with a comma rather than a period. If a line of dialogue ends without a tag, then it should not end with a comma.

WITH TAG: “If I wanted your opinion, I would give it to you,” said the drill instructor.

WITHOUT TAG: “If I wanted your opinion, I would give it to you.”


2.  Begin a new paragraph when you switch from one speaker to the next. It helps readers figure out who’s speaking.

Take my spare pistol,” Lex Luthor said.

“Not my style,” Batman said.

“Suit yourself.  I plan to live through this.”


3. Like the dialogue tags for sentences, dialogue tags for questions and exclamations should not be capitalized.

“Was this before or after you threatened to eat a district attorney?” the Senator asked.

“I plead not guilty by reason of my own badassery!” said Agent Orange.

“It is my professional duty to remind you to shut your damn trap,” Agent Orange’s long-suffering lawyer said.


4.  When a line of dialogue is addressed to a person or people, separate the addressed person/group from the rest of the sentence with commas.

“I can help you, Jim, but I’ll need a grenade launcher.”

“Right on, man,” said Jim.

“Ready, boys?” asked Monica.


5.  Quotation marks ending a sentence should come after any other punctuation.

Example: “Check out any of the above lines,” said B. Mac.

WRONG: “This shouldn’t look right”, said B. Mac.

WRONG: “Do you see what’s wrong with this question mark”? asked B. Mac.


6.  When a line of dialogue is interrupted by the dialogue tag, don’t capitalize the second clause like it’s a new sentence.

“You have upset Mr. Bigglesworth,” said Dr. Evil, “and when Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset, people die!”

6.1  The first word of a line of dialogue should be capitalized even if it isn’t the first word of the sentence.

The politician sang, “My name is Willie O’Dea.  They’re hanging me for perjury.”  Incidentally, those are perhaps the only two lines of the song that are safe for work.

7.  When a line of dialogue is interrupted by another line of dialogue, end the first line with an em-dash (–).

James Bond said, “I always thought M was a randomly assigned initial, I had no idea it stood for–”

“Utter one more syllable and I’ll have you killed,” said M.


For more tips, I’d recommend checking out How to Punctuate Dialogue at the Editor’s Blog and Dialog Tags.



37 responses so far

Apr 18 2011

Medical delays…

Published by under B. Mac,Navel-Gazing

I have surgery on Thursday and I anticipate that I’ll be more or less out for 3-5 days. (Then again, they told me 3-5 days last time, and it ended up being half a day). Sorry for any delays. If you need a quick response on something, your best chance is to contact me before Wednesday night.

7 responses so far

Apr 17 2011

1,000,000 page-views!

Yeah, I’m still getting eviscerated by auto-tuned cats, Newsweek and Lady Gaga.

6 responses so far

Apr 15 2011

Still waiting on a response from me? Let me know

Published by under Superhero Nation

Besides story reviews for Robert and Joel, I believe that I’ve responded to all comments and e-mails.  If you’re still waiting on a response and aren’t Robert or Joel, please feel free to repost your comment or resend your e-mail.  Thanks!

8 responses so far

Apr 13 2011

A Girl and Her Fed is absolutely hilarious

Published by under Comedy

The writing in A Girl and Her Fed is so strong.  The main character isn’t even in the conversation in this page and she still shows an incredible personality.

The art is pretty good so far, similar to The Taxman Must Die but maybe a bit less detailed. (You can see my sample pages here).

One response so far

Apr 13 2011

Superpowers Checklist

1.  Can you explain the character’s powers in 1-2 sentences?

2.  Will you be able to easily challenge this character in a variety of scenes?  (If the character is invulnerable, the answer is probably no, unless you’ve set up challenges besides trying to kill the character.  Source Code was an effective example of that).

3.  Will readers understand what this character can do, or is it just like the author’s making it up as he goes along?  (If the character’s powers have “reality” in the name, it’s probably the latter).

4.  Are the character’s powers versatile?  (If your main character is a superstrong tank or a flying brick, it may help to give him a more exotic side-power to help keep his fights from getting repetitive).

5.  If you’re writing a comic, will this character’s powers give you interesting visuals? (If you’re writing a novel, this isn’t nearly as important).

37 responses so far

Apr 08 2011

Another publisher is looking for superhero short stories: Boxfire Press

Boxfire Press is looking for contemporary speculative fiction and is very receptive to gay characters. Its preferred genres include contemporary sci-fi, contemporary and urban fantasy, slipstream, supernatural, paranormal, alternate history and (of course) superheroes. Their preferred length for short stories is around 5000 words but can go up to 20,000.  They also do flash-fiction up to 500 words.  (Hat-tip: Aponi).


How to catch their eye: “Being clear and concise, using unadorned language, concrete modifiers (only when necessary) and strong, active verbs will send your submission skyrocketing to the top. On Writing Well by William Zinsser, while specifically about non-fiction, has great advice for anyone learning to write.”  Also, they are not fond of abusing substitutes for “said.”


They are separately looking for short stories to fill an anthology.  “The idea is pretty simple, all the stories revolve around a red scarf lying on the road and answer the question, in some way or another, how did it get there?”  (Note: This theme is just for the anthology).   Story length for anthology entries: 2000-20,000 words. The preferred genres are the same as above.


If you know of any other publishers looking for superhero short story submissions, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.  Thanks!

4 responses so far

Apr 08 2011

“Uhh, sure, Spidey, but wouldn’t it be easier for you to come to me?”

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

Spiderman street art

Kurt Wenner, a former NASA employee, now uses his mathematical skills on things that people actually care about. Like Spiderman optical illusions! Speaking of Spiderman…
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7 responses so far

Apr 07 2011

Crystal’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Crystal is writing a novel about the daily life of a superhero.

56 responses so far

Apr 04 2011

Best Insults

Published by under Comedy

For some reason, a lot of the barbs that I find most memorable are British. Probably because Americans spend too much time learning how to cook and rock out on heavy weapons platforms.

  • Journalist: “Is Ringo Starr the best drummer in the world?” John Lennon:  “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles!”
  • Oscar Wilde: “Here are two tickets to my new play. Please bring a friend, if you have one.”  Winston Churchill: “Sorry, I can’t make it to the opening night performance.  Please send me tickets to the second performance, if there is one.”
  • Lady Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife, I would poison your coffee.”  “Nancy, if I were your husband, I would drink it.”
  • “He loves nature, in spite of what it did to him.”  — Forrest Tucker
  • “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”  — Mae West
  • “I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying ‘flee at once – all is discovered.’  They all left town immediately.” — Mark Twain
  • “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”  — Oscar Wilde
  • “Comparing Stephenie Meyer to JK Rowling is an insult to Chris Paolini.”  — Internet commenter
  • “He is the best argument for contraception.”
  • “The cruelest thing that has happened to Lincoln was to fall into the hands of Carl Sandburg.”  — Edmund Wilson
  • “In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love and 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”  — Harry Lime, in The Third Man


15 responses so far