Aug 05 2011

Some Possible Ideas for SN Articles

Published by at 10:38 am under Superhero Nation

If you’d like to write a guest article for Superhero Nation but aren’t quite sure what to write, here are a few ideas.

General Possibilities

  • Any writing issue that bothered you recently (either something you’ve done or something you’ve read).  What was the problem? How could it have been fixed?
  • In my index of writing articles, I have categories such as Characterization, Dialogue, Introductions and Prologues, Story Structure, Getting Published, etc.  If you have any ideas that would fit into one of those categories, that’d be great.
  • Something related to a particular genre would also work.  In particular, I’m interested in romance and fantasy articles because my background is very light there.  However, SN also has articles on thrillers, comedy, detective/crime, action, sci-fi, etc.
  • You could try a different approach to something else I’ve already written.  (I’ve written several hundred articles.  It’s unlikely that you agree with all of them).  For example, Writing Psychic Superheroes and Psionics is a really helpful alternative and/or supplement to Problems with Psychic Heroes.
  • Something about setting–I have frightfully little there.
  • Something related to marketing/promotions, sales or some other business aspect of writing.
  • Anything else that would somehow help many novelists and/or comic book writers.


Specific Articles I’d Like to Fill

  • My Show, Don’t Tell article is a pretty generic take on something that’s been said thousands of times before.  Would you like to write something more memorable?
  • What are some strategies for authors looking to appeal simultaneously to male and female readers?  If you can come up with something more helpful than “add a side-romance!” or “add side-action!”, you’re probably ahead of 95% of the industry here.
  • If you know a lot about the history of the comic book industry, I’m looking for a brief introduction to the way the industry has changed over the past ~75 years.  For example, in 1946, female comic book readers outnumbered males, but teen/romance comics have mostly died out since.
  • I’m looking for somebody with military or tactical police experience to discuss what goes into mission planning.  The main beneficiaries of this article would probably be military action/superhero/thriller authors.
  • I’m looking for somebody with some experience as a comic book artist to offer advice on writing scripts for an artist. (What are some ways you’ve been screwed by scripts?)
  • I’m looking for an author that has successfully pitched an unusual (i.e. seemingly unmarketable) concept to a publisher. What could authors with marketability issues do to convince publishers to take risks on their works?
  • I’m looking for somebody with police and/or forensics experience to discuss crime scene investigation.
  • I’m looking for somebody with non-US publishing experience (either as a professionally-published author or as an employee at a publisher) to discuss some of the differences between your home market (or international markets generally?) and other markets.
  • I’m looking for somebody with non-US publishing experience to do a response to Plot Elements That Should Not Be Added Lightly.  Do you feel some/all of these are not a big deal in your home market?  Are there any plot elements that you think are more controversial in your home market than elsewhere?

36 responses so far

36 Responses to “Some Possible Ideas for SN Articles”

  1. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 05 Aug 2011 at 8:13 pm

    “I’m looking for somebody with some experience as a comic book artist to offer advice on writing scripts for your artist. (What are some ways you’ve been screwed by your writers?)”

    I could really use an article like that… Myself and two friends are toying with the idea of learning to create webcomics, so I need to learn how to write a script for my artist friend to draw from. I’ve taken a lot of advice from Bakuman, a manga about two guys who make, well, manga, so I’ve borrowed some of their techniques – adding storyboards along with the script, or just writing a summary and letting the artist decide the angle and panels, but I’m not sure which method is better. Perhaps it depends on the artist. I wouldn’t know, so I can’t write the article, but if someone did, that would be a huge hit with me. XD

  2. B. Macon 05 Aug 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks, I’m glad to know that it will be helpful. If you can think of any other articles that would be helpful, please let me know.

  3. O.R.on 07 Aug 2011 at 9:58 am

    @Whovian: A novelist myself, I know little to none about comic book writing. However, I do know that if you go to April’s Script Frenzy’s website, the “Writer’s Resources” tab has some useful information on how to script comic books. I guess that you, as a writer, should script out your ideas–similarly to how movies and TV shows are done, as they’re all visual media–and then send it out to your artist. But don’t trust my word for it–as far as I know, you’re free to just make a summary and let all the work to your artist, whatever works for you.

    I hope my little bit of half-baked advice helps you.

  4. Wingson 08 Aug 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I’d like to write a main one on mooks and then a sub-article on hero morality (when it comes to dealing with mooks). I’ve also read more superhero novels recently and would like to review those the same way I reviewed Alphas.

    – Wings

  5. B. Macon 08 Aug 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I think the one on mooks sounds interesting but I’m not sure how much material there’ll be for the morality of dealing with mooks. Would that be like a paragraph in the main article or did you have something else in mind?

  6. Wingson 09 Aug 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Probably a subcategory within the article. I mean, just how does a morally righteous hero get away with mowing down henchmen? Even if the mooks are robots/orcs/clones, does the hero feel anything?

    – Wings

  7. Grenacon 16 Aug 2011 at 5:40 am

    Time skips pls

  8. Crystalon 09 Sep 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Oh, man, I really want to write an article now. I could probably do a history of the comic book industry (I have a giant book of all of the Marvel and DC heroes, and another of the comic book industry in general). Also, I consider myself to be better at writing fantasy, so I could be of help there. 🙂

  9. B. McKenzieon 09 Sep 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Alright, Crystal. Could you send me a draft at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com?

  10. Crystalon 16 Sep 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Um, I kind of made a mistake. The book I have is just a history of Marvel comic books. Is that still okay?

  11. B. McKenzieon 16 Sep 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Hmm. Personally, I feel that a history of the comic book industry (or superhero comic books) as a whole is preferable to articles covering individual companies because I feel there’d be a lot of overlap. Could you research DC as well (either online or in another book?)

    Here are some examples that I think might be helpful (but please add a link to any you use).
    The Newstand Period (1922-1956)–it’s a thirty-part series, but I’d recommend focusing on 4-30 because that’s when the first major superhero (Superman) gets mentioned.
    Comichron’s Timeline and Marvel Timeline and Distribution Timeline
    Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code
    DC Timeline
    Beyond the Funnies. Emergence of the Comic Book, 1929-1940
    A brief overview of the romance genre in comic books–not about superheroes, but really interesting for anybody concerned about the relatively narrow appeal of comic books today.
    –Anything else you can think of.

  12. Crystalon 25 Sep 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks, those are very helpful. It might be a while before I’m done, though.

  13. Damzoon 01 Oct 2011 at 9:57 am

    It would be interesting to see an article about reasons to have/ not have a secret identity.

  14. Mynaon 01 Oct 2011 at 10:10 am

    Second that : )

  15. Damzoon 01 Oct 2011 at 10:17 am

    Its been on my mind lately.

  16. B. McKenzieon 03 Oct 2011 at 11:33 am

    I find your idea interesting, Damzo. I’ve written an article here. Thanks.

  17. Castilleon 19 Nov 2011 at 11:32 pm

    One thing that’s been on my mind a lot is how a writer should handle sidekick characters. As an essential part of the superhero experience, i’m not sure if it has gotten a thorough treatment before.

    That’s why I would like to suggest that an article be written on how to write Sidekicks.

  18. Homu Homuon 16 Dec 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I’d like to see an article about the conventions/cliches of superhero stories. Has one been written yet?

  19. Comicbookguy117on 16 Dec 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I’d like to see an article discussing weird, not typical, places that writers can draw inspiration from. For example ALL of the inspiration I’ve gotten for my comic book universe comes from music. I can listen to a song an craft a deep character or exciting event from the lyrics, the beat and overall ‘feel’ of the music. This has always been the way I create characters. It works for me, you know?

  20. Indigoon 17 Dec 2011 at 12:48 am

    I second the suggested article about superhero cliches (saving a cat in a tree, Timmy fell in the well, helping the elderly across the street-stuff like that)

  21. B. McKenzieon 17 Dec 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Okay, Castille, I’ve done an article about How to Write a Good Sidekick here. Thanks for your suggestion.

    As for the cliche article, I’m having trouble visualizing how I would write it. The cliches that are coming to me are very scattered. Also, I don’t think that Timmy falling into a well is actually a superhero cliche. More generally, superheroes do see a lot of nonviolent rescues (especially early on in their careers, usually before the main villains have been introduced), but then it’s mainly a matter of execution whether it works or not.

    My definition of a cliche is something that’s been tried so many times that the odds are so heavily stacked against it working. I wouldn’t recommend even trying a cliche unless you are really dead-set on it. Case in point: prophecies in a fantasy story. Almost invariably, they make me want to stick my head in a blender, unless heavily subverted. (Oh, wait, the prophecy was about someone else entirely? Whoops).

  22. Danion 18 Dec 2011 at 12:20 am

    Some overdone ones are the bad guy is actually a “long lost“ relative. The beautiful person who just entered into your life is the bad guy (Seriously Batman? All that money and you never do a background check?). The hero thinks he killed the bad guy but oh no- he has an identical twin. Hero finds out he is actually the rightful heir of the kingdom – whoops, fantasy slip there. Super hidden secret base but it is revealed when someone new comes to work for them who is actually working for the bad guy.

  23. Homu Homuon 18 Dec 2011 at 11:31 am

    Actually, I’m looking for an article that can list at least some of the major conventions of superhero stories in order to aid in making a deconstuction/reconstruction. Every other site I’ve been to has been useless in this aspect. I included the word cliché because that’s how some people know conventions by.

  24. B. McKenzieon 18 Dec 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Okay, Homu Homu. I have a list of superhero cliches here.

  25. Marquison 19 Dec 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Would it be a bad idea to create an article with actual story ideas? You know short descrpitions of a story that another writer could take up and write about. Shrugs* just an idea

  26. B. Macon 19 Dec 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I sometimes incorporate potential story hooks into articles (for example, I’ve seen some stories where the inciting event is caused by a character not being brave enough, like Spider-Man. But what if the inciting problem is caused by him being TOO brave?). I’m not sure about story descriptions. For one thing, I come up with story descriptions verrrrry slowly. 🙂

  27. Marquison 19 Dec 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Tss, i don’t kno just thought i’d throw it out there.

  28. B. McKenzieon 19 Dec 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll see if I can make it happen. Caution: Resulting ideas may be highly wacky.

  29. Marquison 19 Dec 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Lolz, sounds highly interesting. Can’t wait to see ( Read ) some

  30. B. McKenzieon 20 Dec 2011 at 12:45 am

    Okay. A disgruntled ex-academic working as a bartender, the father of a star high school quarterback, a woman who is suspiciously reluctant to give her real name and a sheriff’s deputy who may or may not be on the payroll of a criminal group are watching a football game from the bar. The last thing the bartender remembers is asking the quarterback’s father why he wasn’t actually at the game. Then there was a flash of light and he wakes up some time later in the emergency room with a bunch of guys shouting questions at him.

    What happened? What’s the drama moving forward? Who was the intended target of the assassination and what is the assassin’s goal moving forward?

  31. Marquison 20 Dec 2011 at 1:23 am

    Um…..Wow……. DO i have to answer these questions or can I let someone else stumble into this mess?

  32. Marxon 20 Dec 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Someone (and I’d be willing to do this if no one else wants to) should write an article about cities besides New York for villians to target. I mean, D.C. has the president, Las Vegas has a ton of convention centers, London has the queen, etc. There are lots of less cliché, more important cities/places that would be perfect for any supervillian to destroy.

  33. B. McKenzieon 20 Dec 2011 at 5:49 pm

    The vast majority of supervillain schemes are aimed at generic types of buildings that every major city has (like science facilities, large banks, jewelry stores, etc). Once in a while you’ll have a story that wouldn’t make sense anywhere else (e.g. almost every major U.S. federal building is within 25 miles of Washington, DC, so if you’re writing a story about federal agents and/or federal officials, it’s very likely it will come up at least peripherally). But pretty much nothing forces superhero writers to use New York City as a setting. Unless you really wanted to do something with Wall Street*, the United Nations, or Broadway?

    Also, I’m a bit perplexed about how much cutting-edge science is portrayed as happening in NYC. That’s something I’d associate more readily with Silicon Valley/Palo Alto/San Francisco, MIT/Harvard, NIH/Johns Hopkins and North Carolina’s Research Triangle). Some writers bend over backwards to do stories in New York City even when it doesn’t make any sense. WTF are mutant turtles (and several other cold-bloods) doing in New York City? (Well, there are some TMNT allusions to Daredevil**, so if you caught those, then I guess it sort of makes sense).

    *But there are major businesses and even some major stock exchanges elsewhere, so don’t feel trapped there.

    **In TMNT, the truck carrying the mutagen that ends up mutating the turtles is the same one that hit Matt Murdock/Daredevil.

  34. Grenacon 13 Feb 2012 at 9:52 am

    Is there an article on world-building?

  35. B. McKenzieon 13 Feb 2012 at 2:31 pm

    There are a few articles on setting that might help you, but I think the Worldbuilding Rules blog is probably more useful there.

  36. MoguMoguon 31 Mar 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Do you have anything on blurbs? Like what makes for an interesting one? I know there are sites that talk about it, but I’m more interested in what you have to say.

    – The previously Grenac.

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