Archive for May 31st, 2011

May 31 2011

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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 many words should a superhero novel have? For an adult superhero novel, I’d generally recommend 80,000-100,000 words.  If you’re writing for kids or young adults, please see these length guidelines instead
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  • Hilarious Secret Service stories. I swear I’m not making this up.
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  • the most commonly used comic book font–I’m not sure, but I doubt it’d be commercially available.  Marvel and DC have their own fonts in-house (e.g. the fonts of Chris Eliopoulos and Ken Lopez). If you’re submitting sample pages to a publisher, I’d recommend using a font publicly available on Blambots as a placeholder.  If the publisher wants to work with you, it will provide a letterer.
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  • What makes a good superhero novel? Two things stand out to me.  The first is characters that are interesting outside of action scenes. (Seriously, most superhero novels spend more than 75% of their length on nonaction scenes!  If the only aspect you have developed about your main character is what he can do in a fight, I can pretty much guarantee that the manuscript is dead on arrival).  The second is a premise more appealing than “A banal character gets superpowers through an unlikely accident and decides to become a superhero.”  Please stand out from the pack.  For example, how is your main character(s) different from the last 20 main characters the editor passed over?

 

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May 31 2011

7 Things Guns Cannot Actually Do

How many times has a Hollywood protagonist screwed a silencer onto his pistol, cocked the hammer a few times, and delivered a perfectly silent shot or ten into the bad guy, causing him to fall backward and knock over a storage unit full of lead weights? There is so much wrong with that premise, and yet we see it all the time. It’s given many people a poor perspective on firearms, how they really work, and their capabilities. I’m here to help dispel these myths and improve the realism in your writing!

1. Guns are loud!

Crazy loud.  Without any ear protection, a gun battle is louder than a rock concert.  The cartoonish image of somebody’s ears bleeding after a loud sound is almost accurate if a gun battle were to erupt inside a building. Decibel levels of a gunshot can be 140dB, which is more than four times as loud as a common rock concert (115dB). (See this breakdown for more info.) It is worth adding, though, that when adrenaline (and even morphine) levels are running high during a fight-for-your-life scenario, strange things have happened where (in addition to expected things like tunnel vision) gunshots feel much, much softer, so it’s conceivable for a conversation to take place right after a gun shot.  However, this is incredibly unlikely.

 

2. “Silencers” aren’t.

They’re also more formally (and accurately) referred to as suppressors. Technically speaking, they suppress the concussive shock waves that are released from the barrel in front of the exiting bullet. Suppressors tend to greatly reduce the “boom” associated with gunfire, but the sounds of the actual explosion of gunpowder and all the metal moving parts on the gun are not really decreased at all.  Either way, it’ll be very loud.  For example, most suppressors on the market will bring a .22lr round from 160 dB (loud enough to rupture an eardrum) to about 120 db (a rock concert or jet engine).

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