Archive for September 4th, 2011

Sep 04 2011

Patrick Harris’ Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

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.

Faster than a bottlenose dolphin. More powerful than a raging typhoon. Able to save the day even when the day is already long and dark — a blue blur arcing through the sky, it’s WATERMAN!

Waterman, a superhero aided by water powers and dependable allies, and dedicated to preserving the peace and prosperity of mankind. Waterman, the scourge of every criminal and supervillain alike. Waterman, protector of the northern metropolitan, Elko, Nevada.
But soon, his beloved hometown will need all the help it can get. Little does Waterman know, the city of Elko has been infiltrated by an evil that seeps seamlessly into schools, government, and homes. They are cold, calculating, and flawless in their execution; their agents are everywhere, bloodthirsty and cunning. They are THE LISTERNERS, a timeless cult that must be stopped before their ultimate dastardly plans cast a city into a darkness from which it cannot return.
Who better to save the day than Elko’s most beloved, and only, superhero! It is Waterman who must fight the Listeners craftiest agents, ARNOLD HUNTFURT and GARGOYLE. Waterman, the protector of Elko, who must discover what they are up to before they bring the city to its knees. Yet the more he works against the sinister villains, the more their paths seem to be centered on the same origin. The Listeners seek what he has already found: the source of his power, an artifact that transformed a normal young man into a high-flying hero. The object that forever changed the life of Eric Atl.
Eric Atl was exceptional before providence found him. He was the fastest swimmer in his school, surrounded by loving family and faithful friends, and madly in love with Water. Not necessarily the water he would one day control, but the girl just out of his reach: MELISSA WATER. They were best friends, even if he hoped for more.
Eric was also a young man without direction. With high school winding down to a close, he yearned to know what life had in store for him and what he was meant to do. He wanted purpose.
His wishes were granted in a seemingly superfluous event: the Red Springs field trip.
On an auspicious day in February, Eric, Melissa, and twenty other classmates go on an Archaeology field trip chaperoned by Mr. Arnold Huntfurt. The destination is Red Springs, site of the ancient Siouwatchican tribe. The Siouwatchicans were Aztecs who had fled to present-day Nevada when the Spanish Conquest threatened their empire. Before being found and killed by a reconnaissance group of conquistadors, the Siouwatchicans buried seven of their most prized artifacts in the sands. Rumors surround the site, whispers of magic relics that turn men into gods.
While digging for relics to study in class, Eric and Melissa uncover a peculiar silver disk. Within seconds of either touching the artifact, they are cut by it and their blood trickles across its surface. Two of Eric’s friends, JOSEPH HARIT and JACK NOLAN, and the Archaeology teacher, Mr. Huntfurt, arrive and are in turn cut by the disk. There is a flash of light, Eric thinks inexplicably of how great it is to be normal, and they all fall into unconsciousness. Eric Atl and his friends would never be normal again.
When Eric next awakens, he has no memory of the event. Within days, Jack and Joseph have gone missing. Random citizens in Elko begin to disappear with no trace. Siouwatchican artifacts begin to unearth themselves. Eric begins to develop the ability to control water and . . . fly? Melissa grows closer to him, encouraging him to take flight as a superhero, perhaps sporting a classy W and swooping in to save the day. All the while, the Listeners gather their strength, finalizing their preparations to finally lunge and sink their teeth into the world.
In the end, of course, Waterman and his friends will stand triumphant — but at what cost? Is success worth the casualties of war? Is Eric prepared for encounters ending in heart-wrenching tragedy? Dangerous expeditions to find mind-bending relics? What madness will be unleashed along the way? Eric soon learns the feud between Waterman and the Listeners is an event that has been destined to occur since the birth of the Aztecs.

19 responses so far

Sep 04 2011

Difficulties Superheroes Would Face in the Real World, Part 1

1. It’s not that easy to find crime from the street.  Most superheroes look for crime by aimlessly patrolling the streets or otherwise looking for readily visible crimes.  As it turns out, there aren’t that many crimes visible from the street, perhaps because criminals would prefer to avoid witnesses and police involvement.  America’s largest city (New York) has only ~450 bank robberies and ~300 outdoors murders in a typical year, so it’d probably be really hard to find one on a given day unless you were patrolling a massive area or knew where/when to look.  And God help you if other superheroes in town have the same idea.


2. Maintaining a secret identity would be practically impossible, unless you were a real loner or your significant other, friends and family were idiots.  For example, most crimes happen at exceedingly inconvenient times.  The most common hour for a New York City homicide is between 3-4 AM.  If you’re out in the middle of the night (let’s say) 50-100 times per year, it seems implausible to me that you could go more than a year or two without a few people noticing.  I doubt most people could keep that up for even a few months before their friends/families/coworkers noticed something was amiss.

  • If your hero is maintaining a secret identity from his/her loved ones, what does he or she do to keep them from the truth?


2.1. A superhero is probably going to get injured once in a while, probably by gunfire.  If you got shot, how hard do you think it’d be for your friends/family/coworkers to notice?  If you got shot more than once, don’t you think your friends and family would have a lot of awkward questions?  For example, “Why the hell aren’t you going to the police?  You got shot. Were you buying drugs?”  If being a superhero is illegal, going to a hospital would be tough.  Most U.S. states (including New York) require hospitals to report gunshot wounds to the police and getting the police involved would also raise a lot of awkward questions about what the hero was doing when you got shot.

  • How does your superhero deal with injuries? Does he have somebody he can turn to?  Or does he have to treat it himself (and risk infection) or go to a chop-shop doctor whose specialty is treating criminals?
  • Is there any other reason a hero can’t go to a regular hospital?  For example, maybe routine bloodwork would raise too many questions or she’s not a human.

Continue Reading »

41 responses so far

Sep 04 2011

Is Your Authorial Photograph Effective?

I was reading through the website of Michael Hyatt, the chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Besides his marketing director’s advice on how to promote fiction, one thing that really thing that caught my eye was a particularly effective photograph of the author.  A lot of authors have a photograph on their website and/or inside their books (sometimes even on the front cover in non-fiction), but a lot of these shots are not terribly effective.  Here are some tips that might help you do it better.

Continue Reading »

7 responses so far

Sep 04 2011

M*A*S*H’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.

4 responses so far