Sunday, September 23, 2012

Main Character Sheet

Hey everyone, here is the character sheet I promised.  It's only  for the members of the team.  I tried to avoid spoilers, and give a quick commentary on their function within the team, and why I'm writing them.

Leader – Ezinma Dynamo

Stella Ezinma Dike is an African Icon.  She has revolutionized numerous aspects of technology, from health to warfare.  She is a super-genius who made Nigeria the first African superpower.  However, she has a dark secret, one that could ruin everything she has built. 

Stella is the most feared superhero in this world I’ve created.  She made Nigeria an influential part of the world stage, but also a potential threat to the western world’s national security due to their disdain for the superhuman defense corporations.  She is the scenario where an African Nation gets a Superman.  Don’t worry, she will not be absolutely perfect, and always right like what people criticize Superman as.  With her backstory, that will be impossible.  But she will be a strong, daring, and controversial character.  When it comes to her chapters, the gloves come off.  

Co-Leader – Sky Maiden

Carrie Crockett is a part of a legacy of African American super-soldiers.  She was a part of the defunct superhuman defense division in the US government and a former defense contractor, but then she betrayed her legacy in order to be what her family hates: a superhero.  Unfortunately, she will learn that the grass isn't greener on the other side.  And speaking of other side, she is a lesbian.  She just hasn't revealed that to the world yet.

Carrie is supposed to represent the superhuman defense (aka anti-superhuman military) side of the world.  She used to work as a defense contractor, and just because she is vigilante now, doesn't mean she has changed her method of combat.  She will be leading her own strike teams, manning vehicles, and utilizing artillery.  Yes, she’s the "Black Widow" of the team.  As for her character, if there is anyone who can be considered the “only sane man in the room” within the team, it will be her.  However, that will be the opposite of how the world at large sees her.  

Heavy Artillery - Quantum Jones

Derrick Jones is the son of the first superhero, Roland “Light Bringer” Jones, and the grandson of the first super-villain, Ken Ashbury.  Both legacies have brought him a life of luxury and stress.  However, those factors fail in comparison to his biggest problem: his ego.  The leader of his own superhero team, we will see how he leaves the team.  And it isn't pretty.

His backstory makes it seem like he will be THE protagonist of this story.  That remains to be seen, but as of right now, "nobody is" (in other words, readers will decide).  He’s the blaster of the team; raining enemies with energy blasts from a distance.  That suits him greatly because he would never want his looks to be ruined.  I think he’s the character I have the most fun writing due to his many, many quirks.  

Extra Dimensional (Magic) Specialist – Mister Oni

Marcel Ashbury is Derrick’s cousin.  Unfortunately, his father was a super-villain much like his grandfather, but went to Japan to stay away from his superhero brother.  Marcel is a dual citizen and is of Japanese and African American descent.  His monster hunting business in Japan runs dry, so he must find a way to keep himself busy and earn a living.  A quick trip to the US wouldn’t hurt, would it?

I had to do a bit of a personality shift for Marcel.  At first, he was extremely movie Blade like.  I felt that didn’t work because that’ll put him as another “only sane man in the room” character when compared to the warring personalities of Renata, Sam, Stella, and Derrick.  So, I decided to make him more accepting of the “supernatural” parts of his job.  In other words, he’ll be reflecting both of his backgrounds.  He’ll be street smart and tough, but he’ll also be pretty weird.  Expect some extremely strange things to happen in his chapters.

Scout - Neon Beetle

When Renata Dixon was a little girl, her small town in Brazil was annihilated by extra-dimensional forces.  After eating a corrupted fruit to survive, she gained super-speed and a strange form of energy manipulation to stabilize it.  After living as a model for a while, she was inspired by Ezinma Dynamo to become a superhero. Now, she’s considered one of the most successful superheroes in the world, and the only hero to defeat The Demon.  However, the man who gave her the strategy to get that big win wants a favor from her, one that will change her life forever. 

Renata is the Wolverine to Stella’s Cyclops:  big personalities, but dueling ideals.  Renata wants to save the world, while Stella wants to change it.  She is the bombshell of the team, and much like Derrick and his good looks, she can and will exploit that fact.  She’s flirty, cheery, hot-headed, and strong-willed.  She’s an idealist, but her ideals are really simplistic.  I made her specifically to be the opposite of Stella, just like Derrick is for Carrie.  She’s also the Tribe’s speedster, possibly the fastest human in the world.  And that makes her near unstoppable, the key term being “near”.
She is also one of the team members that rejects sexual binaries.  In other words, she's pan-sexual.  

You are probably thinking, with all these numerous sexual identities, there will be some graphic moments and such that will make this an adults only book?  Nope, I want to portray these numerous sexual identities as part of their lives and characters.  Just like their race and sociological environment.  I wanted to aim this story towards adults.  In my earlier drafts, I had some rather graphic dialogue (mostly from Derrick).  That is no longer the case.  I'm making sure it's young adult (teen) friendly now.

Ok back to the Character Sheet!

Strategist – King Cicada

Jean Massoud is another super-genius, and pen-pal of Stella Dike.  After watching the anti-superhero firms gain more and more control of her hometown of Las Vegas Nuevas, Jean finally decides to take action and become a superhero.  However, the threat is too great for her alone to handle, so she enlists the help of a mysterious man to help her form a superhero team.

Jean is the “kid” of the team; the na├»ve, innocent member that idolizes the veteran members of the team.  However, she’s also an emerging super-genius, so she’s not dumb.  I wanted to create a character that could introduce the world and the big conflict, so she was the last member I created.  I made sure her name was a gender ambiguous one because gender identity will play a big part for this character's development.  Oh, and I based her on the Spider-Man villain, The Beetle.    

Spokesman – The Syndicate

The only member of the Sovereign Tribe that will not have a chapter focused on him. His influence will be very clear throughout.  His background is as mysterious as his goals, but three things are made clear.  One, he is a multiple man.  Two, his one-man army is scattered across the globe.  And three, he cannot be trusted.

I had to make two major changes with Samuel Watts.  One, at first he was gay.  That didn’t make sense because I specifically had each of his clones carry different personalities and sexualities.  So instead, I made him the other hero in this group that has rejected the notion of sexuality and gender binaries.  Two, he was going to have at least one chapter, just to show how he got the group together.  I want to be a bit more subtle with the approach instead.  Sam’s clones will be used for a variety of things, but for the Tribe, they are spare units (and they will act as Carrie’s strike team).  He’s sort of the Coordinator of the Tribe as well as the Spokesman.  

So, there's the team!  Now, I was going to talk about some of the changes I made to the novel so far, but that might be a tad bit useless.  I mean, I will be doing PLENTY more changes before anything gets published.  So instead, I'll talk about the first chapter next.

Thanks for Reading!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

So, what's the project?

                My senior project is a novel I have been working on for about two years, using characters I’ve been modifying for even longer.  It is Sovereign Tribe: Rebels without a Pause. That's the current subtitle, because it sounds more catchy than "Fear of a Black Superhero Team", and way less confrontational.  If you know which group made the song the subtitle is based on (hint hint, Chuck D was in it), then you have an idea of what this novel is about.  It’s about confronting the euro-centric tendencies of the superhero genre while doing something that is near impossible in mainstream comic books: forming a superhero team completely comprised of black heroes.

                Now, that of course does not mean that every hero on the team is African-American, straight, or male.  In fact, out of the seven members of this team, only two are of African-American descent; the rest are either from other parts of the world, or they are mixed race.  The lineup is mostly female, and only two of the three male heroes on the team will have chapters based around them.  They come from places like Japan, West Africa, and Brazil.  There are two straight members of the team; there are two pan-sexual heroes, one lesbian, one questioning, and an androgynous member.  In short, this team is nothing you have ever seen before.

                I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of questions.  Namely, why?  Why have teams this diverse?  Well, to that, I say why not?  I’ve spent the vast majority of my life consuming speculative fiction, literary fiction, and numerous storytelling mediums.  The situations may change, the settings may change, and the sub-genres may change.  The perspectives and voices however don’t change as much as we would like to believe, especially not in the superhero genre.  I want people to see a genre many of us know and love through lenses we are not used to.  Through these new lenses, I want to see if the conventions within the genre remain the same, or if they morph, or better yet, are deconstructed.

                So far, it has not been the easiest task in the world.  I’ve been doing a lot of research across the board, from the LGBT community, to Islam, hyper-sexuality, military technology, the Caribbean and South America, and so much more.  However, no research in the world will matter if my craft isn’t up to snuff.  That is, if I don’t become an essayist instead. 

                This novel will confront many social issues because to me avoiding them is pretty much avoiding to create a three-dimensional character.  The first dimension is the regular character traits, the second is confronting the flaws that Marvel is famous for innovating within the superhero genre, and the third is confronting the influence the world has on them as a person.  The philosophies, sociological knowledge, and ideologies that the character upholds or fails to uphold.  How their environment informs them, both positively and negatively.  This is all in my opinion of course.  Just one of my few literary theories that will spill out every now and then on this blog.  

                Now to avoid the tl;dr moment, I’ll talk about where this blog is going.  Next one will be about the line-up again, but in member-to-member detail, with commentary, but no spoilers.  The one after will go over the restructuring I have done so far to the book and why, and the last one for this weekend will be about the (new) first chapter.    

Thanks for Reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What I Know about Craft

What do I know about Craft?

            Firstly, it is relative to the society you are in, the language used, the tone, the setting, and more.  It is malleable, context is fundamental.  And at times, it is based on how much acclaim and trust you have gained as a writer.  However, it is not completely subjective.  In fact, it isn’t at all.  You must have experience and knowledge to hone your own craft.  And you must understand the rules of the language you are working with and the society you are producing to (and the specific audience).  And you must see where others have failed and succeeded in order for your ideal style to shine.  And when it’s truly shining, even external forces like corporate mandates and editorial meddling won’t be able to shake it away (unless they want to create something entirely different). 

Now, I can talk all that talk, but where am I when it comes to my own craft?  I’m still forming it.  I have a lot of consumer experience with numerous storytelling mediums, from older ones like “spoken word”, to newer ones like video games.  I even have my own literary theories and writing theories.  However, my writing experiences have been few and mixed.  I do know my two biggest weaknesses currently.  I am a very, very sloppy writer, mostly because I work within a “planned stream of consciousness.”  I plot out my work, and then in one big swing, I write it all.  When I say all, I mean either a chapter or a short story.  This has had numerous results, but the most often one is just sloppy punctuation and grammar.  The bad habits of the way I talk show up in my writing at times.  My other weakness is one born from my work in other mediums.  I write in the comic book format as well, which is way sparser on details.  Details are fundamental to prose.  I get caught “screenwriting” pretty often.

My strengths come from my background in comics and video games as well.  I write pretty good fight scenes from what I’ve been told, and when my dialogue isn’t on the nose, it can be rather entertaining.  I’m also a big idea guy.  Zany concepts, deconstructions, and alternative perspectives are a big thing for me.  I just need the details to catch up with me to make it all work.  I can write a lot as well, when motivated to (like if there’s a time limit).  However, I want to change that because it’s affected me in the past numerous times, especially on final papers.  I like writing short stories, but I want to get into short novels and novels as well.  I like to write comics, but screenwriting doesn’t sound too bad either.  Neither does video game writing.  I don’t have a genre preference; I’ve just been leaning towards more action oriented genres as of late.