Archive for August 14th, 2011

Aug 14 2011

10 Uses for Forcefields

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.

1.  Two forcefields could be smashed together to smash something in-between.  Alternately, you could use one force-field and any hard surface for a similar effect.

 

2.  Maybe a forcefield could be used as a cushion for safe landings.  Perhaps the character can alter the hardness/springiness of his forcefields so that he can make them into something like a trampoline.  (The more it can stretch, the less the force of impact will be. Like a seat-belt, but one that can also be used to smash something to pieces).

 

3.  A spherical forcefield could be used to trap in a limited air supply.  That would help a character traveling underwater, through space or through a locker room.

3.1.  A spherical forcefield could also be used to restrict air intake.  For example, a hero might be able to knock someone unconscious by cutting off outside air.  Alternately, if an enemy is using poisonous gas or fire-based attacks (which will readily exhaust available oxygen), the forcefield could lead to the enemy knocking himself unconscious and/or poisoning his air-supply so much that even he can’t handle it.

 

4.  Forcefields could really wreck a super-fast character’s day.  They could be used to limit space (to take away mobility).  Also, if you’re moving at 500+ miles per hour and suddenly hit a wall that wasn’t there a moment ago, it would really hurt.  Even a regular-speed character that was jumping at an enemy would have a lot of momentum.  As in #1, you might also be able to use forcefields to pin a combatant so that he can’t move as effectively.
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Aug 14 2011

Hostage Situations from a Criminal’s Perspective

1. Taking hostages is so dangerous that it usually isn’t premeditated in the United States.  A criminal’s main means of survival is mobility.  If he’s taken many hostages, he doesn’t have any.  Even if he’s taken only one hostage for ransom money, the police will know where the criminal will be at the designated pick-up time and may even be able to locate the victim with evidence left at the scene of the kidnapping.  There are two main types of hostage-taker (HT) and one type of victim taker.

  • Someone caught in a botched crime.  For example, maybe the criminal is trying to rob a bank, but the police respond unexpectedly quickly.  In the heat of the moment, an utterly trapped criminal might take hostages out of desperation.  In his stress-addled mind, he might think that taking hostages is the only way to somehow effect an escape and avoid a 15+ year sentence.  (He might even have dreams of demanding a helicopter, but that’s a Hollywood fantasy).
  • Someone that cannot outrun the police.  For example, if the police come to serve an arrest warrant, an unwilling suspect might take a hostage (usually a family member) to buy time and space for an escape.  Alternately, rioting prisoners may take guards as hostages to deter police reinforcements from retaking the prison by force.
  • Somebody in an emotional crisis without a clear set of negotiable demands.  For example, a laid-off worker might seize his former boss or a disturbed lover might seize his/her significant other after being rejected.  These criminals are not looking to bargain.  Technically, in police parlance, these criminals are not considered “hostage-takers” because “hostage” implies tangible demands.  People captured without demands are “victims.”  Victims are in much graver danger because the criminal may have murder-suicide in mind.  In contrast, a “hostage-taker” does not have a personal incentive to murder the hostages.  (If you murder a hostage, you lose your bargaining leverage).

 

2. Hostages are fairly high-maintenance, particularly in long-term standoffs (which are very rare).  In the short-term, the criminals have to worry about food/water, toilets, the potential for medical emergencies and the difficult task of controlling the hostages.  In the long-term, the criminals also have to worry about hygiene, medicine and recreation/hostage morale.  (The HTs probably do not have any humanitarian concern for the hostages, but they have selfish reasons to care.  Happy/healthy hostages are easier to control, less likely to infect criminals and less likely to result in a murder conviction.  Also, killing a hostage that happens to be a prison guard could be very hazardous to an HT’s health when he is returned to police custody).

 

2.1. Keeping a handful of hostages is much easier than keeping many, especially if the HTs don’t have the manpower to control many hostages.  But the police will still give criminals a lot of latitude even if they have a relatively small number of hostages. The police will offer the criminals incentives to release some hostages and make other seemingly meaningless concessions (like giving up any extra firearms).

 

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