Why Superheros and Superheroines?

A Twitter post by Ava Sterling, (link to her blog “What I Write” is to the right) who follows this blog and is an amazing erotica writer, inspired me to write this.

Much of the public today doesn’t understand the attraction that superheroes hold for others.  This is my attempt at explaining that, and why a good portion of this blog has stories focusing on them.

In the bigger picture, we live in a world where everything seems upside down and out of control.  Everything is exaggerated and distorted by special interests and the media.  This is on both sides of every issue in my opinion.  Real world heroes are human and have flaws which are exposed and they’re torn down.  People love their heroes though.  They want role models and to believe there are people out there who can make a difference.  Superheroes have taken the place of knights in shining armor in the eyes of some of the public.  Others gravitate towards Jason Bourne type characters, but the general pattern holds true.

Marvel movies are so popular because they give people heroes who stand up for their beliefs and go the distance to do what’s right.  Then there’s the fact that everything superheroes do is on a grandiose scale which makes for great modern special effects movies.  Sadly the comic companies themselves are losing money like mad on their actual books.  There are multiple reasons, but the biggest one is that they’ve just forgot their audiences and try to make the characters and world as muddied as the real world.

Metahumans can be just as three dimension and suited for grown ups as any characters though.  They simply need intelligent story telling.

On a personal level, I’m doing fan fiction so I don’t burn through story ideas for my own erotica of all flavors.  I need to improve a bit before I’m on Ava’s level (And thus ready to try getting published), and this is my personal training regimen.  Taking something like the objectified and stereotyped characters of Danger Babe Central and turning them into more three dimensional characters with unique personalities and motivations is a major exercise in creativity and writing also.  All the more so if I want to keep some of the exaggerated sexual vulnerabilities these characters have while making them human beings.

I’ll be the first to admit that the vast majority of fan fiction is complete drivel.  If I write a Star Wars story, it may not be on the level of Alan Dean Foster also.  I can promise you it’ll be better than a lot of blogged writing though.  So, if you’ve only read my “normal” stories, I hope you’ll give the other stuff a look also.

Learning and Growing

I’m feeling a bit introspective today after my rant.  Doubly so since it got more likes by far than anything else I’ve written, LOL.  It almost makes me wonder if I should be blogging about common sense middle ground solutions to social issues instead of writing erotica.  Like all redheads, I’m stubborn once I’ve set my mind to something though.

In between plotting several new stories I have in mind and posting that rant, I’ve been reading books on how to be a better writer & author.  Thanks to said books, I’m seeing where I’ve come up short on my past stories.  This is especially true of the more recent ones.

First, in some cases, I haven’t got into the characters’ heads enough to properly define them “on paper” for the readers.  I’ve done a fair job, (I think), but not enough to truly capture the readers’ attention and make them feel connected to the characters.  Marc in the Power Girl story and even Krystal (Witchfire) come to mind.  I gave people enough to understand who they are on a basic level, but not enough to make them understand or empathize with the character.

The other major flaw has been the oft heard writing adage of  ‘Show, don’t tell’.  I think I do a good job there when it comes to the sex scenes.  Not perfect, but better than many folks.  Where I fell short, particularly with “Power Girl” was not being as descriptive of what was happening and how the characters were feeling elsewhere.  People that gave me feedback felt it was too long.  Looking at it after reading those books, I can see it was too dry up till the sex and there wasn’t enough to capture the readers’ imaginations and draw them in.  Granted, a writer can get away with that to a limited degree in a short story.  That one was just too long for it though.

I’m working on keeping my sentence structure cleaner and more straight forward as well.  I’ve been knocked on overly complex and run-on sentences since I was in the third grade, so I should know better.

As an added note, I’m also going to do better at remembering that people may not be familiar with characters established elsewhere, and do a better job bringing such characters to life for the reader.

So, this post was mainly just thinking out loud.  Maybe it will also have the benefit of helping other aspiring writers avoid a few common pitfalls however.  The best mistakes to learn from are other peoples’ mistakes after all. 🙂

At this point, I figure I need to get a few stories I’m TRULY happy with posted here as well as rework the existing ones before I’m ready to try publishing “for real” (ie outside of a blog).  The journey continues however.

Rant: Writing Consent

I ran across an article recommendation on my browser yesterday, and it’s had me annoyed ever since.  I intended to stay away from anything remotely political or controversial here.  I also intend to continue to do so beyond this little rant.

The article in question was in The Atlantic recently and was titled “How to Write Consent in Romance Novels”.  The article is essentially an interview of a feminist writer, and starts with an example from one of her latest books where the protagonist is taken to a Dodgers baseball game on a date.  Her boyfriend is briefly described as essentially a clueless boor but good looking and an actor.  They’ve been dating for a few months.  He pops the question on the jumbo-tron and is supposedly so clueless after dating her for months that he can’t even spell her name correctly while doing so.

Quite understandably, given the short time of their relationship and the very public way the proposal was handled, she feels shocked, embarrassed and cornered.  I think most people would if they’d only been dating a short time.  She says no, he goes on a tirade yelling at her, and the stadium crowd turns on her also.

Long story short, this excerpt from her book was supposed to show how more traditional relationship roles are backwards and oppressive, society supports oppressing women, etc…  I just want to bang my head against the wall when I see stuff like this.

Let’s be clear here: The protagonist had every right to say no.  I would have in her shoes.  What I object to is the broad brush strokes that the author and The Atlantic use to paint anyone who thinks differently about relationships and erotica as either a monster or a brainwashed clueless woman needing enlightenment from them.  The author’s books sell, so more power to her for finding an audience.  That does NOT mean hers is the only valid approach or opinion however.

First of all, there’s a huge difference between being clueless and over-eager as the boyfriend was in the story, and deliberately trying to oppress and devalue a partner and women in general.  There’s also nothing wrong with a public proposal, so long as marriage has been previously talked about and it’s pretty clear that’s what both people want.

Much of what’s written as erotica is also pure fantasy.  Just about everything I write here falls into that category.  That meaning it’s something that you might imagine or role play with a partner for kinky fun, but it may very well be something you’d never want to happen in real life.  Big difference between fantasizing about the boss calling you into his office and bending you over his desk, and actually having it pushed on you in real life.  YES, contrary to extremist opinion, people ARE smart enough to know the difference also.

There’s also nothing wrong with men and women having more traditional relationship roles in terms of pursuing and being pursued.  It can and IS done while still respecting the woman all the time, both in the real world and in fiction.  I think my Power Girl’s Power Date story is a good example there.  Marc pursues her strongly while engaging her on an intellectual level, giving her an out at the couple of times she feels uncertain, and never outright forces himself on her or coerces sex from her.

That kind of relationship is every bit as valid as the type the author who was written about in The Atlantic seems to prefer, which as best I can tell is just short of a cuckold one where the man must ask permission to do anything, and can’t even pull out a chair or hold a door for a woman lest it be seen as devaluing her as inferior somehow.  No doubt that analysis is almost as off as the way more traditional roles are portrayed in the article.  It’s sadly what happens when people get frustrated by that kind of lack of tolerance and perceived self righteousness from people who believe they know better than everyone else.

The reality of relationships in general SHOULD be that if it works for both people involved, and is mutually consensual then it’s valid.  That goes for everything from traditional relationships to the ones pushed by the Atlantic to BDSM and other alternative relationships.

Oh and if somebody comes along and tries to negate all I said because of my Witchfire heroine peril stories…  They’re an attempt to humanize stereotyped characters and the situations they’re put in, and it’s used as a way to push my growth as a writer.  Everything there is pure fantasy and sometimes done to show the character’s strength as a survivor as opposed to glorifying what happened to them.

I encourage anyone reading who agrees to reblog or retweet this also.