14 December 2009

Writing Advice That Packs a Punch

After you’ve read two or three books about writing novels, they start to seem familiar. You read two or three more, and they’re really familiar.

Of course, there are still stand-outs, like E. M. Forster’s Aspects of a Novel and Annie Lamott’s Bird by Bird. But part of what makes those books stand out (and what makes them not for everybody) is that they concentrate on particular aspects of writing, with a personal point of view. They don’t try to be comprehensive from the ground up. Books that do usually end up sounding pretty much the same because the author’s quirks get diluted in everything else that’s not so quirky.

So I was tickled when I came across a writing-advice website that offered tips on “Common Problems with Psychic Heroes,” a “Questionnaire for Nonhuman Characters,” and guidance on “How to Give Your Superhero a Day Job.”

Folks, meet Superhero Nation, which offers advice on writing superhero comics and novels. Oh, sure, it also gives advice on manuscript formatting, communicating with agents and editors, showing not telling, and the other usual stuff. And to be frank, I’m not sure how successfully website creator B. Mac has been able to put his advice into practice.

But by golly this writing advice has a point of view. Many critics have noted how superhero comics often have trouble depicting realistic and multidimensional women in a respectful way. Only Superhero Nation tackles the complementary challenge of how female writers can write more realistic men. (Cataloguing details of another guy’s body? Wrong. Genuinely caring about sports? Hell, yes!)


B. Mac said...

Thanks for the review!


"And to be frank, I’m not sure how successfully website creator B. Mac has been able to put his advice into practice." So far, I feel that my advice has had more success (250,000 readers) than my fiction has.

Hopefully that will change when I submit my comic book script in late February/early March. It's a fiendishly competitive field (more than 99% of scripts get rejected), but I think I have what it takes to make the sell.

I'll let you know how that goes.

--B. Mac

J. L. Bell said...

Good luck! And thanks for using the website to share what you’ve learned in your creative process.