We live in a world where technology has taken over our lives and it has got to the point where it is saving lives but where did this notion of technology saving lives come from, the answer is superheroes. Many people think of superheroes as a comic book character but there is more to them than meets the eye. Have you ever studied the abilities and power they have? If not, then this infographic below will show you what the real value of their powers and abilities are and how it can influence life in the real world.
From DC Comics to Marvel characters, these characters have influenced the growth of technology. The U.S army for instance has looked to them as role models when developing super human soldiers. The “Iron Man” soldiers are just one form of technological advancements and as you shall see in this real superhero powered infographic it has been a wise investment. Much research goes into developing powered technology and armour suits and this has inspired the medical community to develop products that will help those with disabilities. Superheroes have even influenced the digital world we live in, no one would have thought that Tupac would return from the dead through a hologram, but he did through the inspiration of the Green Lantern from DC Comics.
The world incorporates many super humans and through some real training and parkour movements you could be the next superhero. Continue Reading »
Especially if you’re interested in historical fiction, I’d recommend checking these infographics for a better idea of how much harder it was to move hundreds or thousands of miles before railroads were widely available.
Stars and Stripes has an article about how Hollywood (mistakenly) depicts military uniforms. If you’re very into realism and didn’t know that Marines can’t wear hats indoors unless they’re armed, I’d definitely give it a look. Some of these are just common sense, such as giving soldiers eye protection in the desert. (Patrolling Iraq without sunglasses is crazy–sunglasses are the fount from which all badassery gushes. Iraq’s also pretty sunny, I hear).
Janet Reid has some thoughts on a query that tries covering too many characters. If at all possible, I would not recommend mentioning another character in your query until you’ve covered something interesting and/or plot-critical for the previous character. (My rule of thumb is that it’s probably best to mention only the characters that are individually vital to understanding the story–for example, if your main character joins a group of 4+ superheroes, you probably don’t need to introduce all of his teammates individually). Reid liked this approach to an ensemble cast better.
I’m reading Stephen Henning’s A Class Apart today. Some of it is rough around the edges. For example, the plot is a bit hard to understand and the female main character is obviously written by a guy (see #1, #2 and #4.1 here). However, if you’re writing a book with superpowered action, I’d recommend checking out the scene where the bomb explodes. I like his use of sensory detail there.
Especially if you’re an experienced job-seeker, I’d recommend checking out this legendary cover letter by an applicant to the OSS (the WWII-era CIA predecessor). Notice how fluidly he shifts from the needs of the organization to how he is qualified to fit those needs. He comes across as both modest and confident. If you’re not an experienced applicant, I’d recommend focusing instead on how you meet the posted job requirements rather than proposing a new course of action in the cover letter.
1. The first police officers on the scene will not be specialists. These police officers still play an important role (containing the situation, maintaining a perimeter, clearing out civilians, etc). Circumstances may force them to initiate some sort of negotiation, but as soon as it looks like the situation will not be promptly resolved, the line officers should immediately terminate negotiations and call in specialists. (Metropolitan police departments, some state police departments and the FBI have officers who have been carefully selected and trained to deal with these critical incidents). The specialists’ job will be harder if a line officer antagonized the subject.
1.1. Across the board, negotiators tend to have excellent self-control, calm under stress, communication skills, a calm and confident demeanor, strong listening and interviewing skills and the ability to work effectively on a team. They’ll have at least 40 hours of training on techniques, abnormal psychology, active listening skills, case studies and drills.
2. The main goal of negotiation is to convince the subject(s) to surrender. If that is not possible, the secondary goal is to give the SWAT team the best opportunity to rescue the captives with a minimal loss of life. To accomplish these goals, the negotiators want to:
Stall for time. First, time allows emotions to cool down, which reduces the likelihood of hostages getting killed. Second, it may take hours (rarely, even days) for the subjects to realize how hopeless their situation is. Lastly, if it does come down to a shootout, the operation will be more successful and less dangerous if the SWAT team has had time to prepare.
Establish communication and develop rapport. For example, the subject might be thinking about giving himself up, but he isn’t sure whether the 20+ armed cops outside will shoot him if he comes out. A negotiator could work something out fairly easily. For example, “if you’re ready to come out, the police will lower their weapons.” (By the way, if the police are willing to lower their weapons, they probably have sharpshooters ready to fire if the subject reaches for his gun).
Gather intelligence. A secondary negotiator should check the subjects’ criminal, civil, medical and psychological records and conduct interviews with friends/family/coworkers. Is the criminal actually likely to kill his captives? What might cause an escalation? What actions could the police take now and after the crisis to make sure that there’s a long-term solution here?
Six Questions Authors Hate to Be Asked strikes me as mostly spot-on, but “What are you writing?” definitely should not make authors feel uncomfortable. I would highly recommend rehearsing a 1-2 sentence answer. ”I’m writing The Taxman Must Die. It’s a national security comedy about an IRS accountant and a mutant alligator whose detective skills make Scooby Doo look like Batman.” If you have a two-sentence synopsis, this is a great time to bust it out. If it looks like the listener is interested in your story, please give him/her a business card with a link to your writing website, if you have one.
Romance author Roni Loren wrote Six Important Components to an Author Bio, a sharp set of ideas about how to introduce yourself effectively to readers. I’m not sure about relatability, though. Which would interest you more: an author with a dog named Max or an author with an alligator named Chompy?
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).
Six Vital Signs of a Healthy Plot. I see a surprising amount of manuscripts without wants/goals. Things just sort of happen around the main character. Also, please leave us in some doubt as to whether the main characters will be able to accomplish their goals.
Including the older movies, the average Rotten Tomato score was 47.3% for DC and 58% for Marvel. If we look only at movies since 2000, DC drops to 47.2% and Marvel inches up to 60%. DC’s movies have actually gotten slightly worse since 2000.
Marvel has been having more critical success with more series. Since 2000, DC’s non-Batman movies have averaged 38.7%. Since 2000, Marvel’s movies without Spider-Man have averaged 56% and its movies without X-Men have also averaged 56%.
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).
If your characters are police officers, warrants are a hassle. They’re designed to be (so that the police can’t just intrude on citizens’ privacy without cause). To obtain a search warrant, the police must show a judge that they have “probable cause” (substantial evidence demonstrating that they’re likely to find evidence of a crime at the location or on the person specified on the warrant).
Reasons why a character might not be able or willing to obtain a warrant:
Time. Under the best of circumstances, a police officer can get a warrant within an hour, but in smaller towns, there might not be any judges on duty in the middle of the night. Also, judges will be slower to respond if the case is less urgent (i.e. no lives are at stake).
The police may not have probable cause yet. Gotham’s police may find it suspicious that Bruce Wayne always seems to disappear right before Batman shows up, but that isn’t enough to get a search warrant for Wayne Manor.
Search warrants come with limits attached. For example, if the police/district attorney can convince a judge that a murder victim’s body has probably been stashed at a house, the judge would probably allow a search of the house but only places where a body would fit. If the police started searching drawers or other small containers, any resulting evidence would probably be inadmissible.
So let’s say an American police officer doesn’t have a search warrant. Under what circumstances can he legally search?
1. The suspect voluntarily lets officers inside and/or consents to a search. “Hello, I’m Detective Smith and I have some questions. May I come inside?” If an owner lets the officer come inside, anything within plain view of the officer is admissible as evidence. If an owner consents to a search, anything found is admissible. Note: Consent must be freely and knowingly given. If the officer uses deception or threats to obtain permission, any resulting evidence will probably be thrown out at trial.
2. In certain circumstances, permission may be given by a third party. Third parties are almost always more receptive to searches because they have less reason to fear the police than criminals do.
A spouse (or anybody with equal rights to the property) can let police search. Frequently, spouses don’t know about the criminal activity and will let the police look around if asked nicely. One really effective tactic is emphasizing the possibility that the search may help clear the suspect. (“We’ve received some troubling information about your husband and we’d like to clear his name as soon as possible. Do we mind if we look around? We’ll leave everything like it was and you can watch us. Or we can come back with a warrant later, but it’ll be messier”).
An employer can let police search a workspace (including lockers and computers). “We’ve received some troubling information about your employee. Could we check his computer? We’ll be real quiet.” Note that a manager may be leery about offering access if she fears that the company is somehow involved in the crime. If so, police can gently prod the manager with veiled threats like “We can come back later with a warrant, but if we do, we’ll have to cordon off the building. It’d be bad for business.”
Police can ask school officials for permission to search the lockers, purses and backpacks of minors without a warrant. School officials don’t have much reason to decline such a request (they hate crime as much as the police do).
When a child lives with his parents, a parent can allow police to search the child’s space unless the child pays rent or has otherwise established exclusive, private ownership over his space.
A host can allow police to search a guest’s quarters. A landlord cannot.
Hotel employees can let police search a vacant room. See #9 for more details.
Store-owners are usually very cooperative about sharing surveillance footage. But you’ve got to be fast! Many stores cut down on costs by retaping over old footage every few days.
3. Exigent circumstances–action is immediately necessary to prevent physical harm, preserve evidence or prevent a suspect from escaping. For example, let’s say your officer is on patrol when he hears a scream from inside a building. He would be entitled to force entry to investigate a possible assault in progress. Anything he sees in the course of investigating this possible assault would be admissible, even if it wasn’t related to the assault (e.g. drug paraphernalia).
If you’re writing a story with heavy worldbuilding, I’d recommend checking out K. Stoddard Hayes’ Worldbuilding Rules. It’s a how-to blog with a lot of interesting articles about how to build innovative worlds and broaden your writing horizons.
What Does Your World Smell Like?: This will help you incorporate smells into your story. I don’t think smells come naturally to most first-world authors because we don’t encounter many on a daily basis. That’s okay if you’re writing a story set exclusively in a sterile lab or a vacuum tube, but if you’re not, here’s some ideas about what you’re missing.
Worldbuilding Legal Systems: If you’re building alien legal systems, this will help you keep them distinct from the ones closest to home. Especially if you’re Norwegian–nobody wants to read about publicly drowning criminals in mayonnaise, you sickos.
Clothes and Setting: This provides useful ideas about picking clothing that is culturally and physically well-suited to your story. (In case you’re saddled with characters that can’t rock out in trenchcoats and sunglasses).
Language in Worldbuilding: This has some helpful ideas about how to use language to reflect cultural attitudes and other ways of thinking. You know how Eskimos supposedly have ~30 bajillion words for snow? Starcraft’s Protoss need just as many ways to say “we’re screwed.”
PS: I’m looking forward to Hayes’ upcoming superhero anthology, Gods of Justice, and not just because it won’t have many executions-by-mayonnaise. She and Kevin Hosey really know their stuff.
Please do not ever use more than one exclamation mark at time. It looks awful!!!
Even if you’re writing a heated conversation, please don’t end a string of sentences with exclamation marks! It will look really strange! I wouldn’t recommend it! In a heated conversation, readers can infer that the characters are shouting at each other even if the sentence ends with a period.
If you’re inclined to capitalize words for emphasis, 1) don’t and 2) if you do, please do so super-sparingly. (No, really, just a FEW times in the manuscript, PLEASE. It’s SO HARD to read when AUTHORS just seemingly use all-caps AT RANDOM).
Bounty hunters may be a useful point of reference for your superhero story:
Like most superheroes, bounty hunters have a non-government job that entails some violence.
They hunt criminals without all of the assets of a police force (authority, the ability to threaten prosecution for noncooperation, forensics labs, generous access to state records, virtually unlimited backup, etc).
Learning more about bounty hunters may give you some ideas about how to write superheroes cracking cases, so I’d recommend checking out this Washington Post article (hat-tip: Contra Glove). In particular, I liked the tactic of calling the fugitive’s cell phone*, posing as a FedEx dispatcher and then asking the fugitive if he will be available tomorrow for a package delivery. “Can you confirm the street address?”
(I also found the use of MySpace pretty hilarious, but I’m sort of hoping that your Lex Luthor isn’t on MySpace).
*You can get somebody’s number by asking family members, friends, disgruntled exes or sometimes the cell company.
When a patient gets stabbed or shot, they’re usually sent to a trauma ward. So I think this article in The Detroit Newsmight be useful to you if you’re writing a story where a character gets violently injured. (Ahem–such situations are not exactly uncommon in superhero stories).
“Feeling is believing,” [the head trauma surgeon] tells a glassy-eyed intern as he fishes around in a knife wound in the back of a man’s knee, trying to augur whether its damage to the vein or the artery. Watching [the doctor] operate shatters the illusions of TV medicine….
For [one thing], when he operates it is not the stuff of daintiness accompanied by the subdued pings of the EKG machine. He is often elbows deep inside the victim’s cavity, tugging and rooting around as if he’s lost a set of keys. And then there is his bedside manner, which is not so much sympathetic clucking, but rather a combination of pugilism and cold-water truth that has an odd but soothing effect on the patient….
And in the pursuit of saving lives, [the doctor] has donated his life. At 46, he has consistently worked 100 hours per week for more than two decades, which would make him 70 years old in working years. He plays no golf, reads no novels, has few friends and spends more time at the hospital than with his wife and three children.
This writing analyzer is fun. It’s totally useless for anything but amusement, though. It claimed that a passage actually written by Hemingway most resembled the work of P.G. Wodehouse, which is a bizarre choice for a passage about a man that killed a lion. Wodehouse mainly wrote comedies about foppish dandies more likely to use a club for golf than for anything interesting. (In the program’s defense, alcohol does play sort of prominently in both the Hemingway passage and Wodehouse’s work).
If you’re interested in length guidelines for graphic novels, please see this LinkedIn discussion. By the way, if you’re interested in getting published, I’d recommend getting on LinkedIn. It’s like Facebook for professionals. For example, right now I’m in discussions with other writers about how best to build up a writing platform to impress prospective publishers. I think it’s even better for comic book teams: I posted a request for feedback on a group for comic book illustrators and received feedback that was very useful and informed.
PS: Based on the graphic novels I’ve seen recently, I think anywhere between 132-200 pages would be publisher-friendly. However! Each publisher has its own preferred length, so check out what they’ve been publishing lately. If your length is significantly outside of the range of what they’ve published in the past few years, I think that bodes poorly for your chances there.
One final note: As a measure of comparison, comic books are usually 20-26 pages of content (not including ads). As always, check out what the publishers put out, but Marvel and DC usually publish at the shorter side of that, compared to Dark Horse and Image.
Like many other literary agencies (and publishers, for that matter), Bookends uses reader’s reports to help agents/editors evaluate each credible proposal. Assistants and/or interns will sift through the slush pile of unsolicited novel submissions and will pass along maybe 1% to their bosses for consideration, along with reader’s reports.
If you’re looking for a low-stakes way to get a short story (up to 6000 words) published, This Mutant Lifemight be worth looking into. You can see its submission guidelines here. ”Stories which deal with the everyday lives of people with unusual abilities or physical characteristics are ideal, and there will be a definite preference given to stories which present interesting and well defined characters and situations.” The pay is extremely low, though.
UPDATE: A Thousand Faces is a quarterly journal that also specializes in superhero stories. You can see its submissions page here.
If you’re looking for a job with a novel publisher or nonfiction publisher, I’d highly recommend checking out BookJobs. Right now, ~200 jobs and internships are available across the US, including a few telecommuting positions.
Unfortunately, it’s not that useful for jobs with comics publishers. I’ll have more thoughts about how to get comic book jobs in the weeks to come, but until then I would recommend checking the job pages for Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and DC regularly. Also, if you’re interested in unpaid internships in New York City, Marvel has more than a few of them.
If you’re a Firefox or Chrome user that likes to read deep through blogs, I think you’ll like FastestFox. Rather than making you hit “Previous Articles” again and again, it’ll automatically add the next set of articles below the last article. I’m doing some heavy editing work on all of the articles I wrote in 2007, and I enjoy not having to hit “Previous Articles” 25 times.
Should You Advertise on Facebook?–Therese Walsh talks about her experiences advertising her writing on Facebook. If you’re thinking about ads, I’d recommend checking this out. Personally, I’m a bit skeptical (you only make about $1 in royalties every time you sell a novel, so your advertisements would have to bring in near-guaranteed sales to justify the expense). I’d have trouble seeing how you could get away with paying less than $.10 per click, so you’d have to sell at least one copy per 10 prospects just to break even. (Normally, I think 1-2% is typical). I suspect that advertising would probably make more sense for experienced authors with many books to sell. It increases the potential profit per customer.
How to Find an Agent–if you have a manuscript completed and need an agent, I’d highly recommend checking this out.
Completing Your Author’s Bio–whether you’re completing an “About the Author” section of your website or preparing a manuscript submission, you’ll probably provide a bio to your readers. Here are some tips.
Advice for First-Time Authors that Want to Self-Publish
Don’t. Seriously, that’s probably the best advice you’ll get all day.
Advice for Authors that Want to Self-Publish Anyway
New writers have a tendency to focus so much on their character development that they forget that the right setting can be just as important. Setting provides a picture for a reader, without which your characters are flying through nothingness. Action and drama mean very little without interaction between the characters and their environment so, […]
When mapping out any kind of superheroic narrative, a consideration has to be made that is not often an aspect of other types of stories, and by that I mean you have to determine power level, or maybe we should say Power Level, since so many superheroic concepts work better with capitals. This is […]