Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Peter Parker Effect - Superhuman Spider-Man Still Feels Our Pain

Everyone wants to write a Superman.  I admit, I was long enthralled with the thought of writing characters who were always stronger and smarter than their enemies, the type of individuals who simply couldn't be killed.

Unfortunately, not as many people want to read about such characters.  When a characters is too strong or too perfect to be killed, then it's nearly impossible to craft a viable conflict.  After all, how do you threaten someone who cannot die?

The Dorothy Effect - Ordinary Protagonists Facing Extraordinary Worlds

I have a confession: I'm not really interested in aliens who eat sulfur while solving differential equations for the sole purpose of "becoming one with math."  I like math, but not enough for that.  Now, if you give me a snot-nosed little twerp who tells his older brother to turn off those Saturday morning cartoons because he's studying calculus to become an astronaut, on the other hand, I'd be willing to follow that story.  I'm not convinced that he'll become an astronaut, but I don't need to be - what I really want to know is whether or not I have a chance of becoming an astronaut - and that little twerp will help me understand my own chances with NASA.  And if it just so happens that NASA is currently short on manpower because of the ongoing war with the aliens from Centauri Prime...well, I still want to know what cartoons are on.  It is, after all, Saturday morning.

The Han Solo Effect - Questioning the Fantasy Universe

Do your characters question reality? They should. Especially when that reality offers the kind of weirdness that travels back in time from alien planets...

Here we discuss why it's important for our protagonists to not only use the fantastic elements of your stories, but to question them.  As readers, we need reassurance that the universe of a given story could exist, and the best way to do that is bring up potential weaknesses in that universe.