Six Things I Learned About Writing from Comic Books

 

The first things I started reading on my own were comic books. Much of how I write now stems directly from the lessons I learned reading Thor, Superman, The Avengers, Fantastic Four, Black Panther and others. I pass these along because someone else might benefit from these lessons.

  1. Don’t be afraid to use big words – By this I mean don’t dumb down your vocabulary for the readers. If you make them stretch and come up to you, they’ll reward you with loyalty. “Omnipotent Odin”, “Imperious Rex”, the “Ultimate Nullifier!” When I was ten and reading these words I didn’t know, I got my dictionary and figured it out, and appreciated the words more.

a omnipotence2. It’s the Character stupid – If you don’t have strong, well-developed characters. Your audience will soon grow disinterested and stop reading. They have to have a motivation. Whether it be avenging the death of Uncle Ben or the death of their parents, everybody needs a motivation. Any character deserving of a name deserves a reason for being.

a bruce wayne

3.There must be conflict – As Samuel L. Jackson reminded us in Unbreakable, “In a comic, you know how you can tell who the archvillain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero. And most time’s they’re friends.” Dr. Doom and Reed Richards began as friends, before taking their intelligence in different directions. The challenge for Superman and Thor and the mightiest of heroes is that we have to be able to believe they can be defeated. Put your characters in a position where they could lose.

a reed richards

4.Provide a hint of what’s to come – In a fiction book, think about a possible sequel. Lay the foundation for possible plot lines that may or may not be developed in the next book. You don’t have to wrap-up every subplot, leave a couple to fester. This will bring your readers back.

a thanos infinity gauntlet5. Give yourself a timeframe – Schedule your writing and stick to it. Comics came out every 30 days without an excuse. If you outline your novel, also establish projected timeframes for completion. Give yourself goals… and meet them.

a writer at work

6.Use your imagination – You have it in you to create whole universes. You are the writer and you can do anything. You can have fictional or real characters meet that never could/did in reality. Travel thru time or change history. Establish fictional countries in an otherwise real world. You are only limited by what you can conceive.

a thor vs odin

Comics were once limited to 32 pages with a few panels each to present a chapter or perhaps tell an entire story. You have the ability to use as few or as many words as you need. Remember these lessons and you will go far as a writer.

How Much Do I Owe My Readers?

 

I will ultimately get to the point of answering the question, “How much do I owe my readers when I blog about topics like relationships and dating?” Let me first say that I’ve written a romance novel that I’m trying to get published that is quite different than what I normally write which is politics, history, family and more politics. I have a writing coach that has seen me through the arduous task of editing the book so she has come to know what I think and feel about a variety of subjects related to love and she has encouraged me to write more in that vein. When I say encourage I would like to say assign but that would be a little harsh, she invites me to consider that which she wants me to do. If I hesitate she temporarily lets the subject drop, knowing she’ll come back to it in a different way. She’s relentless.

She means it all for my good. She wants me to “build a fan base” and “have a platform” which will translate to people wanting to read everything I write and buy my book when it comes out so I see the logic. She “suggested,” I write a piece for the “Good Men Project” that she thought might serve me well. Having run out of excuses I agreed to look at the site and have something ready the next day so I came back with this:

 

“When You Don’t Know What You Want

Sometimes you know far more about what you don’t want in a relationship than what you do. I have a theory (you’ll find I have many theories) that people are somewhat defined by their greatest pain and that they will do much not to repeat that hurt. While not always perceived to be true, men can come out of failed relationships just as hurt and damaged as women, although pride may well keep them from saying so. These are some of the things men do after it’s over:

  1. Time Out – Some men will simply avoid relationships for a period of time while they prepare themselves to get back into something serious. This could entail total avoidance and abstaining or could allow for meaningless sex, requiring flight at the first sign that things are getting crucial. It may be impossible to correlate their actions and words with their ultimate deeds because these men may be extremely romantic. They are quite capable of being tender, holding and caressing which they do not because they are in love; but because they love the feeling associated with being able to make their partner feel good. They might be affectionate lovers, but not want to spend the night or be there for breakfast conversation.
  2. Trying to Get Her Back – This man isn’t content with the resolution of the relationship and won’t be satisfied until he’s done all he can to get her back. Phone calls, flowers, apologies… promise of change. I have another theory that you never truly know someone until you live with them, or until you break up. For the person on the receiving end of this possibly unwanted attention. Being nice can easily be construed as giving hope, so firm and clear is the way to go if you don’t want him back. He may dwell in a dystopian reality imagining how wonderful your relationship was and how perfect it will be again, if she would only take him back. This is a period not unlike madness and while it often eventually fades as reality sets in. Be wary!
  3. Serial Monogamy – This man want’s to be in love whether to prove he can move on or to duplicate feelings that translate somewhere to self-esteem. He moves quickly, fast to express his “love”, assuming without discussing, wanting the shell of a relationship without establishing a core. While it’s possible he will accidentally find his soul mate and come to have true love, the likelihood is small.
  4. Man-Whore – I heard this expression just yesterday and am taking some unexplainable pride in now using man-whore in a sentence. He’ll literally do anybody because he is at least temporarily equating conquest with success. I suppose one good thing you can say about this fellow is that he is not limited by shape, size, race or any surface considerations. Getting you in his bed or yours is sufficient. He walks the thin line between not wanting a relationship and having the ability to go back for seconds and thirds.
  5. Looking for Love – This man wants to get married and considers marriage his natural state. He has a list of criteria and begins checking off items on your first date as to whether you will be a good spouse or perhaps a good mother to existing or future children. He has high standards, perhaps impossible, but because he’s at least willing to be serious about love and marriage, women might contort themselves in an attempt to live up to his expectations. Others may perceive him as a “good catch”, placing shade on the woman who he didn’t appreciate. When you meet this man he is from day one drawing up a marriage contract that he will expect you never to deviate from without it being considered bait and switch.

All of these men are capable of change although recognition of the need to do so may come slowly. If you are relying on your ability to change them or see them much differently than they actually are. There may be some self-examination required on your part. I submit that there is hope from a seemingly unlikely source; the man who doesn’t know what he wants.

The man who doesn’t know what he wants has achieved some level of enlightenment and is willing to consider the fact that none of us (including himself) is perfect and is willing not only to accept but perhaps find endearing some of the flaws you both possess. He is more likely to be honest than the man following a more proscribed agenda. He is more likely to value communication than he that is more goal oriented whether it be sleeping with a woman, marrying her, or putting another notch in his belt. To the man who has realized he doesn’t know what he wants I have a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t Settle – This man often knows very much what he doesn’t want and often having is not so great a thing as wanting. Time spent with someone you know you don’t want, is time you’ll never get back. You can also be blocking future blessings by not having space for that potential soulmate because you elected to chose a cellmate simply for companionship.
  2. Be Honest – You don’t need to have it all together in terms of knowing what you want. Men work so hard at trying to be what they think women want that they create a character much different than the real you. Honesty is sexy! Your fear that women will reject you by saying you don’t know what you want is misplaced. Those that do are perhaps so rigid in their specific needs that you can consider it part of your screening process. They simply self-deported (thanks Mitt Romney for that contribution to the lexicon).
  3. Self-Assess – Lingering in a perpetual state of unawareness is not acceptable. Women will work with you if you are working with them. If you aren’t challenging yourself to narrow the parameters of your choice, then not knowing what you want becomes an excuse. It’s simply not caring enough to work it out. Assess your experiences, what have you learned? I’ve been married twice for extended periods of time. It is not possible that I have learned nothing thru that experience whether it be about my partner’s behavior of my own. What are you unwilling to endure? Will each new possible romance accept you for who you are or do they require you maintain a facade? You can never know how they will react to the real you without sharing the real you.
  4. What is Your Greatest Pain? – I began by saying that people will go to great lengths to avoid repeating their greatest pain. I extend the challenge to not only discover your greatest pain but to relate it to someone with whom you believe might just be what you want. It will require an openness and honesty most uncommon, but the potential reward is far greater than the possible loss. If you and your prospective love can share with each other what you have learned about relationships, how you’ve been hurt and how that has informed your decisions. You’ll be on a road that could take you not just where you desire but to a greater love than ever imagined.

So much about finding a partner is based on chance. We meet people and accept and reject sometimes in moments, based on the skimpiest of evidence. Should you meet someone that doesn’t know what they want, I submit they present a world of possibilities.” So don’t reject out of hand the man who doesn’t know what he wants. Instead, if interested, consider it the starting point of a conversation.”

 

Having given her the piece, I thought I was pretty much through and when she initially read it she liked it which theoretically meant I was off the hook. The first sign I wasn’t through was when she sent me a message requesting we “read thru the article”. Reading thru the work which is basically me reading aloud what I’ve written is a valuable editing tool because it’s easy to spot some of the grammatical errors and tricky sentences once you say them out loud. I am the “King of the run-on sentence” and I know the end result will be a better product. I also knew she wanted to suggest some changes which she will help me discover while I read.

 

Let me say that my writing coach is sometimes the worst writing coach in the world. If she calls and asks me what I’m doing and I reply, “I’m writing”. Most people would look at that as a sign that I’m busy and request a better time or make the conversation brief. I think the words, “I’m writing” is taken as a personal challenge to extend the conversation as long as possible and keep me from engaging in the activity she’s supposed to be supporting.  Other times however, her ability to deconstruct a piece and see what’s missing is amazing and I know that my novel is ten times the work it was when I initially sent her what I initially wrote. The bottom line was that she said for me to write a piece like that in this particular forum, I needed to basically pour out my soul. She wanted to speak of my personal experiences and relationships and what I’ve learned, what mistakes I’ve made and what I would do differently. I tried to explain that, “this is why I write fiction”. I choose to draw on all my experiences to make complex characters that are realistic. If one wants to surmise that those are my specific experiences they are welcome to infer but I still have maintained some semblance of privacy.

She told me that I was welcome to make any choice I wanted but if I wrote for that forum I owed the readers more of myself. As you can see I chose to publish this piece in my own Blog and save the Good Men Project or other similar publications for another time. Perhaps someday I’ll write about me instead of stuff, but for now, I dole it out a bit at a time. I am after all named Enigma!

babs one

 

 

For anyone who wants to contact the worst writing coach in the world (except when she’s the best). She’s Babz Rawls Ivy at mediababz@gmail.com