Tag Archives: City of Heroes

Humor to “Sell” Writing Cliches

After a couple of heavy topics that were both social commentary and topical (not tropical) to authors, I think we need a little lighter topic here.  This came to mind after a recent reply in LittleFears blog.  We got joking about cliches in writing and the TV show Dallas came up.

For those too young to remember, Dallas was a massive hit TV show in the 80s about a Texas oil family.  An evening soap opera really.  People who write villains defined by the power they hold can really benefit from studying Larry Hagman’s character JR Ewing too.  That was a man who knew how to manipulate and outmaneuver at every turn.

Getting back on track though, one of the things Dallas is most infamous for though was a “RetCon” where they erased an entire season to bring a character back to life.  “It was all a dream!”.

Those who have followed my blog know I generally try to avoid reproducing cliches like that in my writing.  HOWEVER, used with humor, they can be used sparingly.  Here’s an example from almost two decades ago.  As a quick set-up, Nancy was a character of mine in City of Heroes.  She was a trick archer turned telepath / telekinetic.  Over the course of time, the character got dragged into weirder and weirder collaborative stories with my gaming guild.  At one point I got so fed up, I had the character get killed.   Convinced to give everything another chance, I brought her back to Earth as an angel on probation.  Kind of a silly option on it’s own but I was young.  When nothing changed, I decided I needed a clean break and to salvage my character concept.  I took an unusual route and actually copied Dallas’s playbook.  Oh yes, and it’s a little confusing but the other character in question was Max or Maxine who sometimes went by Sonya (her middle name IIRC).

 

NANCY’S TRIP TO DALLAS

Nancy heard a strange male voice stirring her from her sleep. She slowly pushed herself to regain consciousness and wearily opened her eyes partially. The first thing she noticed was that she ached all over.

“What the?”, she thought to herself. “I don’t remember getting hurt.” “Hell, I’m dead anyway… How do you hurt an angel, even one on probation?”

She managed to focus on the dresser and the wall across the room.

“OK, it is our room…”, she thought. “So I am at home in bed with Max.”

“No, Nancy, you’re not.”, came the same male voice that had stirred her from her sleep. “It’s time to wake up too.”

“Huh?!?”, Nancy muttered. Her mind raced as she tried to place the voice. She couldn’t though, despite it sounding vaguely familiar. Oddly enough, she couldn’t mentally detect another presence in the room either.

Her arms shot over, reaching behind her for Sonya. There was nobody there however. She rolled off her side and sat bolt upright in bed. Now wide awake, she stared across the room at a man in his late 20s impeccably dressed in an expensive dark blue suit and light grey felt Stetson cowboy hat.

“Who the hell are you, what are you doing in my room and where’s my wife!?!”, Nancy demanded in a fierce tone. Slight recognition dawned on her face & her expression turned from one of anger to one of complete confusion. “Huh… wait..”, she said sounding completely bewildered. “B… Bobby Ewing???”

The man just flashed an amused smile.

“This doesn’t make any sense…”, Nancy said, trying to collect herself. “You… You’re just a TV show character.”

Bobby Ewing laughed a bit. “You’re just a fictional character in some realities also.”, he replied amusedly. “And no, this isn’t some Arachnos trick.”

“Then how…”, Nancy asked in a puzzled tone.

“I’m just a manifestation of your subconscious.”, Bobby replied. “As for the form I took, blame your parents and all those Dallas DVDs your momma watches.” Bobby grinned and chuckled slightly. “It’s fitting though, given what you’re about to find out.”

“What are you talking about?”, Nancy asked, frustration now added to her confusion.

“You’re still asleep, girl.”, Bobby replied in a more serious tone. “It’s past time you woke up though.”

“What?”, Nancy blurted out, surprised. “No, I…”

“Do yah always sleep in your costume then?”, Bobby replied.

Nancy looked down at herself and saw she was indeed wearing not just her costume, but her older one, from when she was still a member of the All Star Teen Sentinels.

“You’ve been out for a while.”, Bobby continued in a serious tone. “It’s time to return to the real world though.” “You have people that miss you and are worried sick about you.”

“No”, Nancy objected. “This is real, I am awake.”, she insisted.

She wanted to continue, but the aches in her body grew worse and her head began to hurt terribly. She began to hear disembodied voices calling to her as well. She heard Elaine and her parents telling her to come back to her. There was an increasingly bright white light above her too. Suddenly, Nancy gasped deeply and opened her eyes…

She looked around with her eyes, not moving her head. She recognized she was in a medical center, explaining why she ached all over.

“She’s awake!”, Elaine screamed in an elated tone. She reached down and hugged Nancy fiercely, causing a groan of pain from the girl. “Ah’m sorry sugah.”, Elaine said with tears in her eyes as she released Nancy. “Ah’m just happy yah finally came back tah us.”

 

So net result; Nancy is returned to the world of the living (or awake at least) to find out she’d been in a coma for almost half a year after being led into a villain ambush and beaten near to death.  She was still a psi, never married and never an angel of any sort.  The rest of the story went into several of the nonsense plots that I was pulled into and is so embarrassing I don’t even want to reprint the rest of the story here.

The bigger point is that even an obvious cliche this big can be done if handled with a little humor and even acknowledging you’re using the cliche.  I doubt I’d be as blatant as I was in this example.  It was completely over the top, but it was meant to be AND it was a game based story that I never had any intention of publishing, so that minimized any potential copyright issues.  Remember this is another one of those tools that should be used rarely.  You kill it’s impact otherwise.

The Grand Reveal

A few weeks back, I chickened out of revealing the plot for my first planned novel.  I’m going to partially reverse that decision now.  The story will be a revamped version of a hugely popular piece I wrote for my Champions Online gaming group years ago.

The story centers around my character Liberty Gold.  Libby (nickname) was the third incarnation of that character.  The first version was in City of Heroes, the second in DC Universe Online, and then Champions.  A more detailed description is on the story page, but suffice it to say here, that the current one discovers she’s descended from Greek myth, and that a prophecy surrounding her birth threatens the entire world.  It was a Halloween challenge story, so things got dark, and it took three Liberty Golds to set everything right.

Here’s a peek at the first three chapters of the original version that the book will be based on:

The Dark Prophecy

Beyond that, I’m going to give the rest of you a treat that only ComixFana has gotten thus far; access to all my City of Heroes characters and all my surviving stories.  Maybe some of you will read them where he wouldn’t, LOL.  My best story was as epic as the Liberty Gold story but destroyed by a jealous guild mate who had access to the guild website.

City of Heroes

That’s an OLD OLD blog that I used strictly to have an archive on the cloud.  Keep in mind also that this is 20 year old work in some cases.  The stories and biographies aren’t as polished.  Miss Thornbird in particular screams Mary Sue, but was a fun character to play.  The stories were also influenced strongly by people that trolled me.  Miss Deadshot’s stories you’ll notice go from nice, to me constantly trying to work around drama and BS from other players.  At one point I literally pulled a Dallas on one and made them nothing but a bad dream.

It’s amazing how interacting with other players and their characters can have some strange impacts on a character though.  Oh well, I was young.  Enjoy.

giphy

New Story – Lost Memories

This is a rework of an OLD piece of City of Heroes fan fiction that I wrote.  It stands alone on it’s own now, and I doubt a reader unfamiliar with the game would even recognize it as fan fiction without my confession.

17 year old Nancy Winters, AKA Miss Deadshot was a heroic archer along the lines of Hawkeye or Green Arrow when she was abducted by the sewer dwelling mutates known as The Lost.  In the aftermath of the event, Nancy finds herself developing mental powers, yet is still learning to full control them.  Two weeks after being rescued by her friend and teammate Danger Rose, Nancy finds herself having memory issues along with a strong compulsion to return to the site of her rescue.

Lost Memories

Will she find answers?  Will she regain her badly shaken self-confidence as well?

My Take on Writing a Thinking Villain

I’ve been fairly vocal in my criticism of DC and Marvel comics lately, especially on Twitter.  I dislike the way that their movies and comic book stories only introduce yet another, darker overpowered villain with more special effects.  They seemingly don’t know how to write intelligent villains who can out-maneuver heroes.

Over a decade ago, I had a villain character in the game City of Heroes that could do just that.  On top of being strong, a highly skilled combatant, and able to turn invisible, he was a liar and manipulator par excellance.  I typically brought him in to keep heroes off balance via manipulation of public opinion and politicians.  I have to admit, at the time I thought he was a little Marty Stu with what i let him pull off.  I see the media  and government nowadays though and wonder if I went far enough, LOL

Aftermath: Major Arachnos Steps Up

Most of you won’t be familiar with the game or the characters, but that won’t be a problem.  All the other characters had bit parts in this story.  I also added a modest info dump at the top of the page for those who want more info.

I originally had this on my group’s website.  Major A was hated and begrudgingly respected.  When I posted it on the City of Heroes main forums, the story was very well received as the right way to write villains.  One reply called it a Master Class.  I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do think I did a good job.