The Devil’s Boy

20130516-172456.jpg

When John was little, the one thing he loved most in the world were nuggets.

He didn’t know what it was about those little breaded chunks of meat, but once his ma has fried up a batch of those crispy treats and popped one into his mouth, he was hooked. His pop-pop had bought them as a treat on his fifth birthday, but lil’ John always wanted more.
Whether dipped in barbecue sauce, or eaten plain, John loved munching on that sweet savory meat. He could have nuggets for lunch, dinner, and when ma had to milk the cows early in the morning, he would sneak out the leftovers for breakfast. Punishment would follow if he got caught, but he didn’t care. The only thing that mattered were the nuggets.
One thing about nuggets though, there was no way to make them on the farm. So every week, Pop-pop would put the boy in the pickup, and drive down to the city to get a bag of them down at the Safe-mart. It was the only time John got alone with Pop-pop, so he tagged along without fuss. He never liked the city much, and it didn’t like him either. It was loud, crowded, and the people there liked talking too much.
In the city, John would put a hand to his face when somebody got near, he didn’t like them staring, but still he could hear them, whispering and sniggering all round. “Pay no attention to them John,” Pop-pop would say, and the adults would leave him alone. But it was the children who were the cruelest one.
Rat-face, freak-show, retard, just some of the names the children in this accursed city called him. They would point, laughing at his protruding teeth, his sagging left eye, and the constant dribble that went down the side of his mouth. John hated them, and he made up his mind early to never ever live in the city.
Inside the safe-mart, things were no better. The constant stares left him feeling awkward, and there was nowhere in the bright-lit aisles to hide. Pop-pop was friends with the supervisor in the store, and he would go round back with her for a little chat, leaving John to fend for himself in the frozen section. John resented his father for that, but it usually meant a dinner of MickeyD’s nuggets later, so he never complained.
But the safe-mart was also where he discovered kindness. Barrett, the butcher, has noticed the boy alone, and unlike the rest, he would beckon for him to come over, inviting him to watch him work. Barrett would talk, and John would listen. The man would sharpen his blades and chop up the meat, stacking them high on the counter, waiting for customers to pick out the choicest bits.
Sometimes, business in the store was slow, and he would cook up a little something for the boy. He knew John loved nuggets, but he wanted John to experiment. Cutting up meats into the same size chunks as nuggets, he would bread them and fry them up, offering John a little taste of everything. John liked him, and he liked the treats, they soon became fast friends.
Then one day, just like any other, Barrett was slicing up a side of beef. His knife slipped. In the blink of an eye, John watched as the blade severed the end of Barrett little finger, chopping through the bone just below the first segment. The dismembered digit flopped on the table and rolled onto the floor. John looked at it as the butcher stood there screaming bloody murder.
John had no recollection of crying then, he only remembered watching. He watched when the finger bounced and twitched on the floor, its white skin and pink flesh coated in the still-warm blood of Barrett. It called out to the boy, like a nugget. John walked over and picked it up.
“Gimme that son, I need to get it to a… what are you doing…John NO!”
Pop-pop heard the screams, and came charging back into the store, his hands swrestling with the buckle of his belt. He found his young son staring at the stricken butcher, blood stains on his little hands, and a red gob trickling down the side of his chin. John was gnawing on something, he turned around and gave his Pop-pop a happy look.
“The devil! The devil!” Barrett screamed, flailing his arms, trying to get help.
“Oh hell John…” Pop-pop quietly took his son into his arms, and fled away from the store.
News spread like wildfire. By the time they have reached home, TV reporters were already covering the story, calling John the devil’s boy. Soon, Pop-pop knew they would come for him. He got out his shotgun and loaded it up.
The angry mob got there before the police, arriving in cars and pickups that stretched up down the road. The man leading them was their pastor, and he demanded that the boy be handed over, so that the demon can be exorcised.
“But he’s an angel, my angel,” Ma had told them, pleading with the men while pop-pop shoved his gun up their faces.
“That’s up to the good Lord to decide Betsy. I told ya you and Eric were never meant to be, and now you shall know His wrath. Sister should never marry brother, that just ain’t right. Now bring out the boy so that we can do what’s right.”
Pop-pop fired shots into the air, stopping the men’s advance. “RUN BOY RUN!” Inside the house, John heard his father’s cry. “I’m warning ya, take another step forward and I’ll…”
“And you’ll what?” The pastor challenged, walking right up to the barrel of his gun. “In the name of the Father, I command you to bring out the cursed child and…”
A single shot silenced the crowd. Was it his trembling fingers or his anger, John would never know. Pop-pop had fired the shot that would change this community forever. Time stood still as the old man flew off the ground, landing back five feet away with a crunching thud. The crowd went berserk.
John ran. Out the backdoor he went, never turning back as gunshots filled the air. He heard screams, one of them sounded like his Ma. But still he did what he had promised them, he ran. Pass the barn and into rows of corn, he chanced a look back. Ma and Pop-pop were nowhere in sight.
“Where are you devil-boy?” A man in a black coat said, as men swarmed the shack, looking for the boy,
“He ain’t here!”
“Well, what are you waiting for then. Burn him out, burn everything!”
John watched as the men lit up the shack that he had lived in his entire life. The wooded panels caught easily, and soon the fire spread. It became a towering inferno.
“Throw the bodies in,” the man said. “Ain’t no police gonna bother with what happened here tonight,”
“But Remy, the woman’s still moving. Your Pa he…”
“My Pa is dead, they killed him! And I say throw them in!”
John tried to shout, but only a gurgled grunt came from out of his throat. “Mama…” It was one of the few words he knew. He stared at the man giving the orders, burning his face into memory. Then, he heard a rustling before him.
“Hey he’s here! The devil boy is here!”
John ran. This time, he didn’t stop. He ran when the men fired their guns at him, and he ran when they set fire all around him. John never stopped running.

One day he promised, they will be the ones doing the running.

The Game Of Thrones – Characters Poster

The Major Characters In The Game Of Thrones

The Major Characters In The Game Of Thrones

Wanted to write a post about the woman of Game of Thrones, but ran out of time as I have a plane to catch. So will have to push it back to Monday if I do the write up on the plane, or most likely Tuesday since it’s a 20 hour flight. The theme of the post is simple – Why woman should read and watch Game of Thrones – It features the strongest female cast in the fantasy realm, if not the entire fictional realm in both TV and books outside of dominatrix fetishes . Remember – Cast, not just female lead.

From Left: 

  • King Joffrey Baratheon and his Lady-In-Waiting Margaery Tyrell
  • The Late King Robert Baratheon and his Queen Cersei Lannister
  • The Late Khal Drago, and his Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen,
  • Robb Stark, King Of The North, and his mother-prisoner Lady Catelyn Stark
  • The King Slayer Jamie Lannister, and his guard Brienne Of Tarth
  • The Late King’s Brother, Stannis Baratheon, and his Witch and Council Meslisandre
  • “Littlefinger” Petyr Baelish & The Dumped-As-Queen Sansa Stark
  • Jon Snow Of The Wall & His Wildling Captor Yigrette
  • The Former King’s Hand Tyrion Lannister & His Lady Shae
  • Theon Greyjoy & The Wilding Osha

All titles present to current season of Game Of Thrones Season Three Episode 2. 

Any how, the reason why I am unable to finish the post on time, is because that Poster above took me some 2 hours to assemble from Google Images. Surprisingly, there are no group shots of the Games of Thrones cast on the web. Even if you justify it by saying because most of the characters lead separate story lines, I still think some fan service is in order.

For now, I leave you with a teaser of what the post is about.

CERSEI LANNISTER – POWER IS POWER

If you want to use the pic, be my guest. Credit would be nice though naturally. If you want me to edit it to include others or remove some, let me know as well. E.g. most probably some of you would like to see Ned Stark or even Bran inside. On the female side, I’m missing Arya Stark and Greyjoy’s sister. Might replace the Wildling girl Osha with the sea-faring princess.  I intend to do some other things to it. The two new characters that appeared with Bran… I’ll wait till their role gets fleshed out in the later part of the story.

This will be my last post for a while. Till my next one, I bid you adieu. See you on the other side of the globe.

Goodbyes Rewrite

NoirSix-Thirty.

The glare from the setting sun cuts through the window, bathing the clutter in the office in a warm orangey hue. Remly, lost in his thoughts, looks up from his desk. Time. He straightens his shirt in the mirror and walks out into the hallway.

Passing by the grimy sign hanging on the wall, Remly dances his fingers across the tarnished bronze, feeling the shallow grooves of the letters beneath his touch. In faded text, the legacy of this agency lays etched. James & Manson – Private Detectives.

Walking into the room beside, Remly spies Albus brooding at his desk, the bald patch on his head turned towards the door. Whether Albus notices the younger man coming in or not, Remly cannot tell. Waiting patiently, he admires the evening sky, watching it cool into a navy blue.

As the light fades, Albus stirs from his stupor, wiping the streaks off his face with rugged hands.

“Well kid, this is it.”

“Yup.”

Remly looks down at the floor, kicking at the imaginary dirt as Albus pulls his coat on, eyes transfixed on the sky.

“Never thought this day would come you know. Been here for over forty years.”

Remly smiles, “Forty-one to be exact. Twenty-eight with dad, thirteen with me.”

Albus turns and grins, wrinkling his eyes. “Forty-one years with the best damn partners a man could have wished for.”

“You can always visit,” Remly says, walking towards the desk. Albus produces a bottle and two glasses from his drawer and pours out the drink, handing one to Remly.

“Ain’t gonna be the same kid. It’ll just be me yapping and taking up your time. You gonna spruce up the place?”

“Maybe.” Remly says, looking down into his glass.

“Well, at least the old girl’s in safe hands.” Albus sighs, running a hand across his mahogany desk. “Been with me since day one you know. A present from the boys down at the station.”

“Still keep in touch?”

Albus eyes glaze. He shrugs, stretching out to make a toast. “James & Manson is all yours now Remly. Remember, if you ever need anything…”

“You’ll be the first to know.”

“Good.” Albus says, blinking back his tears. “We’re proud of you, you know that?”

Remly grins, “Too bad pride doesn’t pay the bills.” He downs the smoky-brown fire in a single gulp and grimaces. “…where you get this stuff?”

“It’s been sitting around.”

“For what, a decade?”

Albus smirks, downing his own with a satisfied smile. “Strong stuff. Bet your old man would have appreciated it though. Now that’s a man who knows his whiskey.”

“Enough to die from it.”

The moment lapses into silence.

“Well,” Albus coughs, putting on his hat. “Guess I better get going. Me and Margery have a plane to catch, and I haven’t packed.”

“Oh, where are you taking her?” Remly asks, in a friendlier tone.

“Hawaii!” Albus beams, years falling off his face. “Just me and the Mrs on the beach.”

Remly grins, “Send me a postcard then. Haven’t had a chance to see paradise myself.”

Albus breaks into a hearty laugh and shakes his head. “You ain’t gonna find paradise out there Remly. You gotta find it in here.”

Remly gives a weak smile as Albus taps a finger over his chest. “Sure you don’t want me to call you a cab?”

“Save it kid. Buy yourself a nice dinner tonight. God knows you’re gonna need it.”

Remly gives an appreciative smile. “Thank you Albus.”

“You too junior.”

The two men share a quiet hug.

Albus shields his eyes. With a final pat on Remly’s back, he breaks away, walking out the front door of his office for the very last time.

Glancing after the retreating back of Albus, Remly sheds a tears, forcing himself back into the real world. His partner might be gone now, but life goes on. It always does. Bills still need to be paid, and clients need to be informed. Looking around the musty old office, Remly worries about making the rent this month.

For years, James & Manson has languished, surviving on scraps thrown their way by their limited client list. Debt collectors, job agencies, and anyone else who needs the low down on the dirt, they call Albus. The work might not be flashy, but it puts food on the table.

Dragging Albus’s rolodex across the table, Remly fingers through the yellowing cards. Now that both founding members of the agency are gone, Remly needs to find out which of the regulars will be sticking around. Picking a card out at random, he makes the call.

“Wachowski! Long time no hear from ya. How’s the bailor business?”

A gruff voice on the other end answers. “Ain’t got nothing for you Manson, better luck next time.” He hangs up.

Remly picks out another card. “Milo? Remly here, James & Manson. Naww, just calling to check if…” Same answer. Stung by the rejections, Remly pulls out three more cards from the pile.

Two of them shoots him down immediately. Last one. 

“Words on the street that you’re flying solo now Remly. The boss ain’t too thrilled about that, says you lack experience.”

“Krippie, come on. We’ve been working together since I was a kid! You know my dad.”

“I like you Remly. Sorry.”

Five strikes in a row. Remly’s psyche is shot. He slams the receiver down and makes a grab for the bottle, pouring himself a double. He fumes, chugging down the whiskey and feeling the fire burn down his throat. “To you dad,” he croaks, raising his glass. “And to so-called friends.”

The warmth spreading inside of Remly makes him feel good. It helps him to relax. He pours another double and gulps it with gusto. Just one more. By the time Remly stops, half the bottle is gone.

“Sorry dear, won’t happen again,” Remly slurs, chuckling as he mimics his father. Leaving the mess on the table, he stumbles out of the office, ready to call it a night. He promises himself to call again tomorrow, though the prospect of being rejected again weighs heavily on him.

But tomorrow can worry about itself. Tonight, Remly has his mind set on steak. At least the thought of one anyways, as he looks into his wallet. Sighing at his sad state of affairs, he wonders how Albus managed to save up enough for Hawaii.

Grabbing his coat and hat from the other room, Remly shuffles out the front door, making doubly sure to lock up everything behind. Without Albus to look over his shoulders now, Remly feels the need to be extra careful. Fumbling with his keys, Remly lets out a smile. Barely an hour, and already he misses the old man.

He gives the door a swift jerk, hearing the lock falling into place. Someday, when finances allow, he will replace this damned door, and the grimy sign out front. Better yet, he might just move out, eave the ghosts behind and make a fresh start. Smiling at the thought, he makes his way down the hallways, whistling to himself a nameless tune.

The elevator shaft is a distance away, across to the other side of the building.  Why this is so, Remly never asked. But it does mean his rent is cheaper. Being far removed from nosy neighbors and prying eyes only sweetens the deal.

The fact remains though, Remly will be out on the streets if business continues to slide. He thinks about letting out one of the offices as a temporary measure, but that would mean having to share the signage space out front. After forty-one years, Remly is not ready for that. Not yet.

What James & Manson really needs is a new gig. A big fat client to move the agency out of its doldrums and into a new life. And Remly wants it now. Taking his cigarettes out from his coat pocket, he lights one up as he rounds the corner, distracted by his problems.

“Excuse me!”

Remly looks up just in time. He skips a step and turns aside, narrowly avoiding a collision. The figure appearing around the corner turns and glares at him, muttering his discontent.

“Pardon me,” Remly says, breaking away from his thoughts to offer an apology. But the elderly gentlemen in the white suit ignores him, hobbling away on his walking stick. Instinctively, Remly’s investigative senses come alive. Trimmed beard, studded ivory cane, a spot of the latest Eau de Cologne. Remly smells money.

Intrigued, he moves into the shadows along the walls, taking another drag on his cigarette. He eyes the old man hobbling from unit to unit, scrutinizing the names and signboards.

“You looking for something?”

The old man turns around, searching for the voice.

“Would be easier for you to just ask.”

Spotting Remly in the dark, the man replies in a thick English accent. “This is none of your business young man.”

Remly blinks, keeping his cool. “You’re trespassing on private property here, so I suggest you remember your manners.”

The man straightens his back and stares defiantly, “And who might you be?”

“A nobody.” Remly grins. “But at least I pay the rent. So who are you looking for.”

The man eyes Remly suspiciously, “The only reason I’m having trouble is because this blasted building doesn’t seem to have a directory. Do you know when I might find the offices of James & Manson?”

Remly perks ups. He takes one last puff from his cigarette and throws it to the floor, stubbing it out with his boot. “Depends on why you want to find them?”

“That is my private business.”

Remly walks up to the man and extends a hand. “You found him. Remly Manson at your service, what can I do for ya?”

The man steps back. “May I see some identification?”

Reaching into this coat pocket, Remly pulls out a card. “If you’re hoping for a badge…”

The old man squints at the card. “This will do Mr Manson. But I’m actually looking for a Mr Albus James.”

Remly’s enthusiasm wanes. “Albus is gone for the day, if there’s anything I’ll be more than happy to…”

“Thank you, but no,” the old man says, raising a hand to decline. “I’ll like to speak to Albus in private, it’s… well its a matter of utmost confidentiality. Is there anyway I can reach him?”

Think fast Remly. “I can assure you sir, that as a partner of James & Manson, I am just as capable in handling your request, Mr…”

“White, Sullivan White.” The man says, tipping his hat with his cane.

“Mr White.” Remly nods in acknowledgement. “Now, me and Albus have been working together for a very long time, and there’s not a thing in this world we don’t trust each other with. Don’t let this youthful mug fool ya now,” Remly says, forcing a laugh.

The man glances down at the card and back at him. “You’re the Manson?”

“Presently so,” Remly answers, tipping his own hat in response. “Now why don’t we go to the office so that we may discuss this in private.”

Mr White bites his lips. “Perhaps when Mr Albus is available…”

Remly’s heart skips a beat. He weighs the costs in his head, and goes in for broke. “You win Mr White, I’m going to send for Mr Albus right now.”

Surpised, the features on the old man’s face begins to soften. “If it’s not too much trouble.”

“But while we’re waiting, why don’t you join me for dinner and some wine. There’s a nice little restaurant just across the street.”

 

Author’s Notes: 

– This is a repost from a story intro I uploaded earlier in the week.

– Trying out a more economical form of writing. Basic stuff like:

  • Cutting out dialogue cues
  • Single-word verb approach for action
  • Less “Ands” “As” and cluttered link words. Using more periods and commas.
  • Letting things go unsaid, unexplained. Particularly in the narrative. This forces the dialogue to come to the front.
  • Playing with bigger chunks of dialogue. Only breaks in the sequence should only be actions, not narrative explanations, which I tend to do.
  • Essentially, after trimming all the fat, I cut a 3000 word intro to a 2000 word one and made it sound better.
  • I think I’ll like to explore this style of writing more, but its tedious.
  • The game of subtext – Two big chunks here. Instead of just words, I tried to put some hidden meaning and agenda and leaving it unexplained. Seems to work.

Feedback Requested: 

  • Any jarring parts? Any parts that just seem to jump?
  • Some parts might need to be slowed down. but I’ll cut down first and pad it up later with content instead of word.
Initial Write Ups

Happy Two Month Old Blog!

Mmmm... Cake

Mmmm… Cake

A few days late with this, but whatever, it’s the internet. I can say it’s the Vatican Queen’s birthday and people will believe me. In breaking news, they just made me Phantom of the Opera. But before I go for rehearsals, let’s do a blog review and discuss WordPress Analytics! Note, this is a self-serving post, anybody who reads this and gets pissed off, well, it’s your fault.

Good Stuff That Happened In March

  • Content: I’ve hit the sweet spot in terms of where I want my blog to be now. Mostly original content backed by my stories. I no longer feel the need to hide behind big name writers and websites. Not sure how this happened, I didn’t plan for it. It just came out. Heck, I even wrote one semi-guide using my own content and examples.
  • Originality: I’m writing more original content in all my posts – stories, reviews, ravings, guides, then ever before, all in, I’m pouring over 20,000 words of self-written content into my blog each month. About 600-800 original words per post with lots of quotes. It seems that with each week, I use less and less of other people’s content.
  • Theme: I think I found a theme which I am comfortable sitting on, one that actually has readable fonts while still providing structure. Though I’m still sad that I cannot just increase the font size automatically. Why WordPress sticks with mainly tiny fonts, I have no idea. Just 1-2 size upgrades for me would be perfect. Other than that, I’m still eyeing the MimboPro theme enviously, though I think it’s a dumb move since I don’t have that much content for such a newsy theme.

Bad Stuff That Happened In March

  • Like-Trollers: Still an amazing ton of them. Not sure where they get their kicks from honestly. What’s sad is when I click on their blogs, they have tens of thousands of followers. Like me, you have probably followed a few trolls before who liked all your post but never actually read anything. WordPress seriously needs to clean this up, if nothing else it is extremely misleading, encourages bad behaviour, and has turned one of the major metrics into a downright joke.
  • Follower-Trollers: Not as bad, but yea, I can’t get rid of you, and that makes me sad. I can imagine WordPress doing an infograph one day showing off all these metrics, and I’ll just be like whatever. If I can block them from even showing up anywhere, that would totally make my day. No, diarrhoea medicine guy or crappy SEO guy, I am not interested in you. The bad thing is, I’m wary about following people now, or even clicking on the likers in my post. More than 50% of them are turds.
  • Readership-Count Dropped: It’s just a given that fiction story posts do not get the same number of views as say a reblog from a famous author or a writing guide post. One of my stories, got a lot of new viewers because I tagged gaming, xbox and stuff. But did they actually read the posts, no. Refer to like-trollers. Plus I didn’t get the big reblog I got in Feb and earlier in March. One reblog by a big site will totally send your site to new heights for the entire week and not just the day. But still, I try to cut down on troll posts unless it’s something I like, e.g. Mad Men or World War Z (only 2 likes but top viewed post for content posted in April).

Analytics… Or “Pics Else It Didn’t Happen”

  • Internet loves Memes – Those I posted in the past are still my top posts on a week-to-week basis – The Immortal Jellyfish (20% of all my views), The Biodegradable Urn and The Gazelle Meme all gets lots of hits from Google. Jellyfish gets consistent hits every single day. The view count of that alone is multitudes higher than everything else, even those reblogged by others. The Gazelle Meme got like 11 one day, just not sure why. These people do not bother reading the other stuff too, so whatever.
  • Readership Count is Wonky All you need is one reader trolling through your entire site and your view count skyrockets. Honestly on all the best views days, that’s what happens. Else, I attract a very small but consistent unique user figure, just the number of views differ.
  • How to get to 1000+ followers Post and tag more photo prompts of the hottest google searches, reblog more content from big names. Until my own stuff gets better, thats the only way. Else I could make internet-friendly stories, very short, to the point, with a gimmick… maybe next time. Until then, just got to brush up my own content.

What I want to do

  • Need More People To Follow – I unfollowed quite a lot of people this month, but now I actually have a awesome reading list choke full of stuff I want to read instead of “Gif of blogger of the month” award ten times in a row, when their blog has more exclamation points and “You can do it!” stuff than actual content. Hence would like to look for new people to follow. Story Tellers, Artists, and Writing Guides are nice. The who to follow tool on the Reader page sucks very bad. No poetry or haikus though.
  • Keep At It – Just keep what I’m doing. But clearly I need to change somethings to get readers. The only way I see I can do that with sticking to the theme of stories, is probably to do something like Rick Mallery and his amazing Power Shorts Daily. I have the base in my photo prompts, just need  a change of style and become as awesome a writer as he is.
  • Structure something – People like structure or know if something can be expected. Using Rick Mallery as an example again. A story on a daily basis in your email – Very neat idea. Particularly when they have been all pretty amazing thus far. Follow him.

Gems Of The Month 

Rob Akers – Another story-teller. He writes stories based on his time in Iraq / Kuwait as a C130 pilot. He doesn’t focus on the action though, you get a detailed look at life behind the scenes. The politics and the fear in the eyes of the soldiers.

Amazing Series on Dialogue By Les Edgerton – He guest-posted them on Kristen Lamb’s blog. Amazing four-parter article that will train you how to look at dialogue differently, including the tricky subtext. Too bad he doesn’t have a WordPress blog, but he does have a Blogspot one though.

End Thoughts

I’ve decided to be more active on Quora again. They actually have an amazing community discussing and posting stories, story ideas and what-nots. In bite-size friendly pieces. Plus I like answering when people ask for ideas.

End Post. I shall have my digitally enhanced cake and eat it now. Gif-flavored icing rocks.

Related articles

Masked: Superhero, Supergoodness

20130311-000704.jpg

A couple of days ago, I decided to write a short story featuring a superhero. That got me thinking about why no one seems to be writing any super hero stories. We seem to be getting a lot of them in the movies, so why not books.

A quick search on Google and Amazon, revealed this gem hidden amongst a small selection of other superhero works available. Reading the extremely short preview, I was instantly hooked by the introductory paragraph of the first story. Just to be clear here, this is fiction, or more accurately put, science-fiction where instead of aliens and guns shooting lasers, you get mutants and eyes shooting lasers. That’s about as different as the genre gets.

To give you an example of what type of action-packed writing grabs me. The first story “Cleansed & Set In Gold” started with this:

I’m on the ground trying to breathe through a chest full of broken ribs. The only reason I’m still alive is because I happen to be invisible  at the moment. Verlaine is dead. His body is twitching, trying to patch himself up, but the thing that killed him is chewing on his heart, its long tongue flicking. I can hear Verlaine’s fingernails scratching against the rocks.

We all thought Veraline was immortal. He wasn’t.

This super-amazing first story focuses primarily on the super hero, his powers and his fight against a seemingly unbeatable foe, and is worth the price of the book alone in my opinion. But for the most part, the rest of the stories chose to write about how their super-strength protagonists meandered their way through society. It’s a varied lot to be honest, you get your super-villians using their talents to to rob a bank, the gay superhero who tries to fight injustice in more ways than one, and other societal themes that seem to be a general trend throughout the book.

Here, my stand is simple. That’s NOT a good approach. To sum up how I feel, let me quote one of the buyer reviewers – Patrick O’Duffy

Too much kryptonite, not enough super-writing

There’s an interesting mix of comics writers and prose writers here, but there’s also a strong deconstructive tendency from the non-comics authors. It’s not enough for them to simply write a superhero story; it has to be one that critiques the genre and its conventions, and usually in a way that finds those conventions wanting. The comics authors, on the other hand, were more interested in following those conventions to find a story that respected them while still working within a different medium/form. Those stories tended to be better, if only because I could read the story without the chip on the author’s shoulder getting in the way.

Anyway, before I go into my rant, I highly recommend the first story in the novel. The fight scenes were EPIC. I wish I could write half as well as the author.

Thoughts on presenting the superhero genre

While everybody appreciates a good storyline that tries to go deeper beyond “Hulk smash!”, there has to be a balance between trying to humanise the hero, while still trying to present him as a world-saving hero. Most of these stories focus too much on the emotions and thoughts of victimised heroes standing alone in a depressed world, instead of shooting lasers and generally, just kicking ass.

Here are some quick thoughts on how to write a superhero book.

Stay Physical

Superheroes and what they do are meant to be very physical. Wolverine gets angry, he slices stuff up. He gets sad, he slices stuff up. He gets hungry…. you get the drill. A brief glimpse into the inner demons he’s battling inside might make for good story fodder, but it should not ever detract from the “slice stuff up” aspect. To me, if the author made this mistake, then he shouldn’t be writing science fiction.

Focus On Action

Honestly, your genre allows you to use face-melting beams and heroes who can fly without explanation. USE IT. If I want to read a story about how the good guys tried to sneak their way in or talk their way out of a confrontation, a different setting like WW2 would be better. I want to see cars flung in the air, impossible somersaults that befuddle the cops giving chase, and as much furniture breakage as possible. Like the example of the first story above, the author went into quite gory details about the fight scenes and deaths. The end result of which was actually quite stupendous.

Gadgets!

If you need your character to be less like the invincible Superman and more vulnerable, try going the Batman route with gadgetry instead. This puts him in a position where he can be very weak, but once he gets his stuff on, he can beat up the guys who were chasing him just a moment ago. Trick is to make him still play out like a superhero instead of a decked out James Bond. Often, this requires the author to give him a deeper persona or agenda that separates him from a typical spy.

To end it off, I really hope more writers will start picking up on using superheroes in their stories. It’s honestly quite good fun. I’ve about had it with vampires and the undead.

Related Articles

Ten Fiction Pitfalls

PitfallWow, these writing guides sure are making me feel bad right now. Guilty of all of them, especially number 5 and 8 which I am trying to rectify after reading the previous guide I’ve posted before this. Maybe I should put a sub-menu on the writing guides for my own reference and take out my amateurish exercises.

5. Don’t label characters Writers must describe characters, but often they simply use one-word labels, such as: “She was beautiful,” or “He was brilliant.” Labels are not descriptions. Instead, really describe a character’s physical attributes, and let readers draw their own conclusions. Example: Don’t label a woman by writing: She was drop-dead gorgeous. Truly describe her, as in this: Sara, slender, and about five-eight, seemed taller, in her high-heeled shoes. A pink sweater accentuated her curves. She shook her wavy blond hair and smiled, revealing glistening teeth. Sara murmured in a soft, sensuous voice, “I’ll have a Bloody Mary—lots of celery.” She laughed lightly. “I haven’t had lunch.” Similarly, don’t label a man by writing: He was unusually handsome. Provide descriptive details: Robert, a muscular six feet tall, rested a white-gloved hand on Sara’s bare arm. A red cummerbund contrasted with his white tuxedo and white patent-leather shoes. In a clipped English accent he told the bartender, “Bristol Cream Sherry.” Read the rest here – Ten Fiction Pitfalls