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Yeah, so still plugging away, very very slowly, on the superhero novel.

THe general shape is starting to become clear, though certain aspects of character, implementation and (especially) the ending are still veiling in the swirling mists of 'dunno' at this point in time. And then there's, y'know, the minor detail of actually sitting down and spitting out a quarter of a million words or so. Particularly difficult in summer, when the temperature in my study hits 37°C pretty regularly and the CPU on my computer overheats and shuts itself down if I have more than two applications open at once.

Have been reading/watching superhero stuff as inspirational material. The novels ... vary, wildly, from the worthless to the pretty good. The comics are so self-referential and incestuous as to be almost completely incomprehensible to someone coming at them without 30 years of backstory knowledge (and people wonder why the comic book business is circling the drain!) Which leaves TV and film. Heroes lost me pretty early, No Ordinary Family only lasted a handful of episodes, and while I'm very much enjoying Misfits, so far it's another one of the costume-and-codename-free modernist deconstructions of superpowered people so not so much use to me. Kim Possible is always reliable though, and I'm pretty sure I've raved about that show before and you should all go and watch it, because it's awesome.

Most recent film was Green Lantern, and wow, what a waste of a couple of valuable hours of time that I could have more usefully spent picking lint from my navel or sorting the contents of my lentil jar by size. Anyway, it made me think a bit about the Bechdel test. The movie failed the test, in case there was any doubt. It failed the test probably harder than any film I've ever seen before in my life, even the ones like Saving Private Ryan which didn't have any femae character at all. Green Lantern had exactly ONE female character, so was never going to have two female characters having a conversation about anything. It also was scripted so that the only female character didn't get to talk to anyone but the male lead, and even when she did, she only ever got to talk ABOUT the male lead. But she shouldn't feel lonely, because in this dreadful piece of rubbish that's all that ANYONE ever got to talk about. Bleh. Seriously, I defy anyone to watch that film and come back with anything even remotely resembling a motivation, conviction, personality, or character analysis for anyone other than Ryan Reynolds. Every action taken by everyone in the entire movie was driven entirely by the needs of the plot, which meant the needs of the main character. This film didn't have a cast, it had one guy, some CGI, and a bunch of backup singers.

But from a writing perspective, where does this leave me Bechdel Test-wise? I can certainly write better than the Green Lantern scriptwriters (though so can most gibbons, so this is not a rousing endorsement), but I could very easily fall into some of the same traps. I'm writing with a male 1st-person point of view character. There's room for digression, and heavy use of flashbacks using 3rd-person pov with a different perspective character, but Bechdel-wise, it's a tough thing. I've also got the superhero gender imbalance thing to deal with. Men traditionally DO outnumber women in the classic superhero groups, and I've got solid plot and theme-related reasons for wanting to stick with that tradition, early on at least. Unfortunately, tokenism really bugs me when I read it or watch it myself, but I find myself locked into using (with a certain amount of lampshading) token female characters in deliberately cliched roles. Writing female characters in their traditional superhero roles as 'the girlfriend' and the like without provoking female readers to throw the book across the room before they get to the good stuff it going to be a tough gig. Fortunately, I'm the only bloke in my writing group, so at least I've got a test audience to bounce stuff off, who will no doubt slap me down if I mess it up too badly...

And apropos of nothing in particular, I wish the butterflies would stop flocking into the house and dying all over the place. There are sad little pairs of patterned orange-black wings scattered all over the place, like kiss-marks from someone wearing some seriously gothic lipstick. I feel like I'm stuck in the 'sinister symbolism and foreshadowing' bit of the horror movie, before the monster shows up.
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humbleminion

February 2012

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