“Milo’s being seen to there,” Joanna said, pointing. “He’s still worn out, but they’ve been givin’ him juice boxes. Lots of juice boxes.” Joanna frowned. “I’m not sure if he needs them, or of he just really likes juice.”
bookishbiologist replied to your post “Well, the Q&A yesterday didn’t go over quite as well as I had hoped,…”
I’m always pro-reading, but I do love signed copies…
Well, I’m happy to send one along, once the manuscript is finished! I just can’t guarantee when that would be, so I thought I would try to offer some more instant gratification options!
Well, the Q&A yesterday didn’t go over quite as well as I had hoped, but I had fun answering! Maybe we can try this again at other milestones; 75% seems pretty appropriate, but we’ll see what kind of feedback or interest there is.
In the meantime, however, I feel like rewarding the people who did participate in some way! My dream would be early, signed copies of the book, but that seems pretty far off; I’m thinking maybe some sneak peaks into my notes? Or a PDF of a few of the early chapters? Let me know what you think!
what was your inspiration for this? what gave you the idea?
This is one of my favorite stories, actually! When I was a senior in high school, I would walk home with my buddy (who actually created Milo and Trinity in their earliest forms); one day, we started talking about Superman’s outrageous disregard for causing property damage in his battles against evil, and how ridiculously high taxes in Metropolis had to be—after all, their golden savior is known for punching bad guys straight through buildings, and it’s not like he’s making a lot of money on a reporter’s salary!
So we started tossing around the idea of a group of metahumans who dressed up in costumes and went out and fought bad guys, but who would be fined for causing property damage, for instance, or whose criminal thwarting really only boiled down to saving the local butcher shop from a common robber, and being grateful to get free hams in thanks. We initially set up the team so that they were just starting out, with Trinity and Milo being established members, and Romy joining in later. Tamer wasn’t a part of the first version, and I haven’t even created Oliver yet, but there was one other character who has been so thoroughly scrapped that I can’t remember anything about him except that he was Greek. We actually created a really ugly Proboards roleplaying forum for them! We kind of rehashed the basic idea a few times, always sticking to the same basic theme, but switching up the setting, or the circumstances of the team, until I decided that it made sense to use them for my first novel.
So I went through one early stage of this manuscript, trashed it, and settled on this one, and I think it keeps pretty well in touch with the initial concept, except, you know. Better. It still kind of plays around with the idea of “realistic” super powers, and how people can’t just go around smashing cities to pieces and expect them to be fixed in time for next week’s villain (does Supes even offer to help with repairs after he’s done smashing the bad guys? Inquiring minds want to know!), while throwing in some new elements that I’ve picked up from other media, or tossing ideas around with friends, etc.
Thanks for your question! There’s still a little time left in the Q&A for any last minute submissions!
are your characters based off of people you know? do your characters have some aspect of yourself or ideal you?
None of them are really based on real people, but they do all have traits I’ve picked up from people I know! So, for instance, Romy isn’t just someone I know with furry ears slapped on, but her sense of style might be inspired by girls I saw walking around my campus, or her speech quirks might be based on typing or speaking styles I’ve encountered. Milo and Tamer’s taste in Really Bad Movies is inspired by some of my old roommates. Stuff like that!
They all have a lot of aspects of me, I think; I take little pieces that I think would fit the character, because it’s easier to write what you know—I don’t think anyone would look at any of these characters and immediately peg them as being a version of myself, but they could see Tamer’s humor and bluntness in me, or Romy’s literary mind, or Oliver’s anxiety and coping mechanisms. I try not to make them too much like an idealized version of myself, but if I were going to say any of them were like that, it would definitely be Romy. So I try extra hard with her not to give her special treatment, or anything like that! I might be a little too hard on her to compensate, but. As long as it makes the story interesting, I’m okay with that!
Thanks for your questions! The Q&A is still going on, open to everyone!
Are any locations in your story based on real places?
Most of them, actually!
Keystone City is not a real city, as far as I know, but it’s really basically Philadelphia, mixed with a little aesthetic of Chicago (the modern, glassy buildings with sharp edges) and New York (the early American architecture). I didn’t want to set the story in Philly, because I know how easy it is to mess up locations; Central U is also very closely based on Temple University, my alma mater.
There is a cottage in the Poconos that the team visits on a mission that is based on my memories of an old cottage my paternal grandparents used to have up there, but it’s been about 12 years since I’ve been in the area, so! I do have some vivid memories of the loft in the cabin, and a large rock at the end of the street, and of the lake near by, and these things all became anchors for creating the scenes.
In the final part of the manuscript, the city is going to play a bigger part than just appearing in transitional scenes, for reasons I don’t want to give away, so I’ll have a real chance to develop it more in depth—and maybe have an excuse to visit Philly for “research!”
Thank you for your question! The Q&A is open to everyone, and will be going on all day today!
Plotting, or thinking it up as you go? Character sheets? What's your editing process like, and is there anything you'd do differently if you could go back and begin again?
Very thorough plotting! All the times I’ve tried to just freewrite, it ended up dying out after maybe two chapters; I have a notebook where I jotted down all the major plot points I wanted to see happen, and then tried to fill in the gaps. That doesn’t mean that scenes don’t pop out unexpectedly, but overall, it’s all pretty planned!
I have sheets in Scrivener; they all look something like this:
I have one for each of the members of Team Seven, some less in-depth ones for secondary characters like Marc Allen, Joanna Smith, and Hanna Cohen, and some building blocks for ideas about characters in the distant sequel. Looking at them again, I can see why I made them for myself; half of this stuff I had forgotten! These characters have been through so many iterations that I lose track of what facts go with which versions!
I am holding off on big edits until the end, because like what happened in the beginning of January, if I go through and read too closely, I’ll end up hating what I’ve written, and won’t get finished ever! Usually what I do is edit what I’ve already written, before continuing on with the new sections; that’s how I work with short stories and essays, but for this, I’m just writing frantically now, and I’ll worry about editing (and even really reading what I’ve written) until I reach the end.
I can’t think of anything I’d do differently, no! I mean, I first came up with the idea to use these characters in a novel in maybe 2010, because I knew I needed to buckle down and get started, but this is now the third version of this manuscript, and the one I’m really pleased with. Maybe if I had known in 2010 that this was the winner, I’d have started four years earlier, and maybe I’d be a published superstar by now, but! Alas, time travel is not yet a thing.
Thank you for your questions! The Q&A is going all day!
I looked through Google to find some interesting or useful guides for writers for developing characters, settings, and plots, so feel free to look through these links for inspiration, if you’re lost for what to ask about for now!
I might not be able to answer every question about the plot, like if I’m not sure how to answer without giving away too much, but I’ll acknowledge everything I receive and try to answer the best I can, though!
ETA: don’t forget that in honor of Pokémon streaming on Netflix beginning today, I’m happily taking Pokémon-related questions! Ever wonder what kind of gym leaders the characters would be? What their favorite Pokémon are? Now’s the time to ask!
There are a few things, honestly; motivation to write is one. Figuring out how to adapt characters I’ve loved and written for ten years into a story that isn’t ALL just self-indulgent is another. In terms of actually WRITING, I’m struggling with the action scenes, and the impact. I’m going to have to make sure in the later drafts that I know how to make it matter to the readers, because even I’m having a little difficulty caring about these awful things I’m doing to these poor children!
Our first question of the day!
“It’s Oliver; he’s still not coming back to his normal state. We can only tell where he is if he touches one of us. And Milo is still pretty out of it; Joanna has been giving him juice boxes to make him feel better, but I can’t tell if he’s honestly that weak, or if he just likes juice.”