You said what? Boring? You want me to re-write? Do you have any idea how long I spent on this scene?
Yes, admit it. Some of us have reacted in a similar lackluster way toward someone who has critiqued our work in progress. Whether it is your parents, your significant other, a classmate, workmate, your editor. Let me try and simplify things: if you cannot handle critiquing, input, advice, suggestions, or constructive criticism of any sort—don’t write. In fact, your inability to be taught will follow you in life and you will complain, fuss, and &@!$ at any type of support given to you.
Rule: If you want to be a good writer, darn good writer, or an excellent writer…listen to others, especially those more seasoned than you.
If dealing in a specific genre, editors and publishers have tons of experience in your field and only want you to get better. That’s their job, to help you. I hired a freelance editor, Susanne Lakin, to help me in my early start. By printing out her editing, I created a notebook with her suggestions and corrections. Before you know it, tada!—a study guide. I thank God for her. She is awesome. After contracting with MuseItUp Publishing, I was blessed again with a fantastic staff that critiqued me from the owner, Lea Schizas to the cover artist, Delilah K. Stephens. My God, you are being worked over around every corner! And I am better for it.
Be willing to take instruction. Gather several views of input and compare all of them as you move through your story. You may find similarities in what they saw, or insight to things you were totally blind to.
Now, there is another side to this. Don’t give your story to someone who has no idea of what you are writing about. If they don’t read, if they are jealous, if they have no concept of writing anything, avoid them. I would not ask advice from a vacuum salesperson on how to fix my roof. Duh. At times, these people may have some good advice, but make sure it is not a ton of notes pertaining to their preference instead of an honest, constructive critique. If they want a story to go their way, have them write it!
The bottom line is this: be open and humble to listen to others. I’ve had one word said to me by someone unexpected who dropped by my office, and it set the tone for a positive day. Despite your humbleness, also remember it is your story. You may be adamant in having a scene go a certain way, but with another set of eyes, perhaps you can still have the same destiny taken on another route. Take care.
Nick G. Giannaras
Recently, I have submitted a sci-fi novel based on a Christian superhero, The Nuclear Fist Chronicles: Darksoul, and plan on adding future books to his ongoing story. Therefore, my particular article today will delve a bit into how to create a superhero or what makes one. Well, what makes a superhero? Malachi Drake is my main character. My son gave me the inspiration in creating the story. One day, he wanted me to go on to a website where you can create a superhero and print him out. I made my own guy, printed him out, and kept the picture. For several days, I kept looking at this pic, wondering, thinking what I could do with it. Then one evening, I ran downstairs, jumped onto my computer, and within three days had five chapters written.
I like my heroes to gain their powers from a believable situation. Gene mutation and cosmic ray blasts were kind of taken, and I definitely did not want him to come from an alien race. So, I did some dabbling into science and concocted a situation that was remotely feasible to give Malachi the environment in which to enhance his abilities. Falling into a vat of experimental nuclear fuel/coolant sounded cool, and in looking at the science, it worked.
This line of thinking (creating realistic backgrounds) was the basis for creating my other superhero/villains in the series. The neat thing about “creating” is that there is almost no limit in how they are made. The background is one of my favorite things to do since during the writing process I can see the character taking shape.
Appearance is a major part of a hero’s persona. Many times I use downloaded images I keep in a file as inspiration, and use the pics in some fashion to stir my creative juices. Having a goofy looking character takes away from the story; it causes a horrid image of this superhero in the reader’s mind, thus taking away his ability to function in the story.
In my world, I like for superheroes to be powerful, yet not too overwhelming. Despite what powers you grant your hero, there always has to be a weak link or an Achilles heel to your character. Nobody is invulnerable. Having a weakness helps to create conflict which is a key element in driving a story, and conflict can come in a variety of ways: family hardship, lack of love, poor relationships, fear, personality, ego, you name it.
Another topic to use in creating a superhero is a name. I’ve written on names before, so I will keep it simple: a cool name is a must. If you are worried about copyrights, trademarks, etc., the net has many lists of “created characters” to keep you from infringing on others’ property. Most heroes have a birth name and use a fictitious name to hide their identity. Again, this is your prerogative.
Lastly, setting has a part in deciding what your hero will look like, what he can do, and how he will fit. I can’t see Superman dwelling in medieval times, or Green Lantern battling in the 1920’s. Is it possible? Yes. Does it appear believable? Eh, not really.
I hope this little piece influences you to write the next best selling superhero sci-fi novel. Be sure to check out my website on this new novel, hopefully to be contracted soon.
Take care, Nick