Wednesday Workshop: Leap of Faith
Guido (Nuis), Josh (K-sky) and I are, as far as I know, the remaining regular contributors at this space. A couple weeks ago, as part of one of my “Friday Afternoon Confessions”, I mentioned how I had largely dismantled what had been a pretty solid writing habit. Josh and Guido lamented their parallel issues with a lack of writing output (outside this space) and Guido came up with the suggestion of helping each other through whatever issues may be lodged in our respective brains. I agreed to contribute to such an exercise, and the consensus was whatever this exercise would become, it would happen on Wednesdays.
If I remember my “The Weblog” history correctly, this means we’ve had “Sunday Stories”, “Monday Movies”, “Tuesday Hatred”, “Wednesday Food”, now this, “Thursday Spoiler Alerts” (the most well-read series, I believe) and “Friday Afternoon Confessions”. I’m not certain whether I’m just forgetting a Saturday series or if we’ve decided to leave that day to its rightful owners: the Bay City Rollers.
Anyway, here we are. A new series of posts in which Guido and I (at least) have agreed to help each other “work out” our writing issues. The trick, of course, is I don’t believe anybody is quite sure how exactly we’re going to do that. I’ve struggled with my answer to that question. Do I keep my ideas and dilemmas vague to guard against thievery, or do I just lay it out there, thievery be damned?
In the end, I decided this exercise requires trust in the participants. To make it work as well as possible, I’m going to extend a tremendous amount of trust and go with the lay it out there approach.
So here it is. An idea I’ve had kicking around in my head is one I’ve discussed a number of times in this space. It’s a comic-book themed story. I’ll let the groans subside before I continue. The reason I’ve wanted to do a comic book, or superhero if you prefer, story is to try to address so many of what I consider shortfalls of superhero stories. The big one, the thing I expect to drive the overall story, is the impossibility of being a superhero.
Sure, Superman could be a superhero because he didn’t really need anything. Batman could be a superhero because Bruce Wayne was filthy rich. But in reality, people have to make money. To make money, you have to have a job. If you’re out at night fighting bad guys, a job is going to be difficult. I know comic books have covered this ground before, but something I haven’t seen addressed is the amount of time that would be required for a superhero to follow through on putting bad guys away.
If he were successful, wouldn’t he spend a lot of time in court as a witness? Wouldn’t that time in court make gainful employment terribly difficult? How in the hell could you have a secret identity if you had to testify in court?
“State your name.”
“Um, your real name.”
I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think anonymous testimony would get too far. I think this is rich ground for the story, but every time I start to write I have trouble getting much further than these (I hope) clever hooks.
I can start the story and work toward showing a superhero’s life is impossible, but aren’t stories that work backward from a conclusion typically awful? Isn’t that kind of an accepted fact of storytelling? That leaves me looking for some extra meat for the story. One place to turn there is the origin, but people seem pretty tired of origin stories. Avoiding the origin is easy. “He was born that way.” But skipping the origin just leaves you needing to find other interesting bits of the story to tell.
I’ve considered exploring some classical, archetypal comic book scenarios and applying the kind of real-world logic discussed above, but I don’t know if that would provide enough of the “meat” I’m looking for.
So here we come to the purpose of the exercise I understand it. Thoughts from others. I think the popularity of blogs is owned to people writing about things they wanted to read but couldn’t find. So maybe we can apply that idea to this story idea. Are there places you’ve always wanted comic books or comic book movies to go where they so far haven’t? Does this line of storytelling seem like fertile ground you’d like to add to?
Now allow me to step outside the exercise for the moment. Before you criticize, allow me to state that I’m perfectly aware I’m probably the sole beneficiary of your input. Guilt over this fact is what made me so hesitant to start this exercise. But this idea has been kicking around in my head for three years or more and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I’m hoping some dialogue on its potential, and thoughts for where it might go, might give it the necessary kick in the butt. I’m hoping that helping toward that end might allow people to overcome any reticence in joining in on my creative process.
That and knowing that accepting this assistance is a sort of pact to throw in my two cents when it’s your turn to try to work through your own mental blocks. If you’re still reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts as we kick off this new feature within “The Weblog”.
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