Friday, July 27, 2007

Make-A-Hero

ROBOWRITER ASSIGNMENT

Thank you, Chris Othic, for filling in for me last night.

The assignment, very simply, is to write a superhero scene. There are two ways to approach this. Create your own superhero or put a new spin on an old one. These scenes are fun to write, but can also be challenging to make interesting to anyone other than YOU!

In both angles, the characters are in grave danger of coming out two-dimensional. In creating a superhero, you might spend a lot of attention on what their main super power is and not give them any humanity. In the second, you might take that well-known superhero and go the easy dark road. What, he cusses? What, he does drugs? What, he's a slob? What, he wears tights and hangs out with young boys? The tough part is making it something we haven't seen.


One way to start is with the most defining part of a superhero, their power. Make a list of 10 super powers that you've never heard of or that you really wish you had.

Here's Chris's list:

1. Project emotions on other people
2. Read dirty thoughts of others (but only their dirty thoughts)
3. See people naked
4. Find parking spots at will
5. Turn water into Bud Light
6. Turn people into puppies
7. Impregnate women by looking at them
8. Detect when the train is coming
9. Tell weights and measure by sight
10. Sing like anyone you want to

Now pair each item on that list with someone who is most unlikely to have that power.

1. Two year old
2. Nun
3. Blind Man
4. Homeless Guy
5. AA Sponsor
6. A cat lady
7. 16 year old nerd
8. Keanu Reeves
9. Football Coach
10. Preacher

Now pick three of these and give them a cheesy (or not) super hero name.

Chris picked 1) the nun who heard people's dirty thoughts (Big Mother--as in "Big Mother is Watching You"; 2) Cat lady who turned people into puppies (The Puppler); and 3) 16 year old nerd that could impregnate women by looking at them (The Impregnanator)

Now create a villian to go along with your hero. It might be one of your three from above. The villian usually has powers that directly oppose the hero's.

Big Mother vs Pervo - he gives people really dirty thoughts

The Puppler vs Fire Hydrant Man - maybe he distracts all those puppies with his fire hydrants?

Impregnanator vs Captain Abortion - although maybe he would be a better sidekick

Another approach to this scene is to craft your hero first by figuring out who you would like to see have a super power that we you don't normally associate with the Clark Kents and Bruce Waynes of the world. Using something from your own life is a good place to start. For six months, I once temp-ed in the accounting department of a huge real estate conglomerate. I sat next to a woman probably named Mildred. She was probably in her 50's, a little squat and frumpy and I'm pretty sure that thing on her head was either a wig or a Chia pet. She had a little portable radio on her desk always barely audio and barely tuned to a soft rock station. Mildred will be my superhero.

Now, what powers will she have? I've already got her day job and alter ego. I imagine she gets summoned secretly by the Chief of Police via dedications read by dee-jays on the soft rock station. She seemed to spend most of her day typing and licking things (envelopes, mostly), so those will be her two big powers - speedy fingers and projectile moisture. I will call her The Administrator. She multi-tasks justice.

Now, that I have that, I just need to craft a scenario where her super powers will come into play. It could be via her arch enemy, which could be anything from The Merger to The De-Filer.
And, of course, your hero needs someone to save. So, perhaps Billy the temp has been trapped in the records room by The De-Filer and he's already made quite a mess. Etc, etc, etc.

Focus on heightening the scene by exploring their powers and vulnerabilities. The scene can be anything you want and doesn't necessarily have to be "heroic." Maybe The Impregnanator and Captain Abortion work at McDonald's together. You can also choose to forget the villian and just do a scene focusing on your hero and his powers and how they affect his daily life.

Have fun!



THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY

Yesterday, I asked...

"This summer, waters off of central California are being invaded by what?"


The popular answer with 57% responding was "Surfing MILFS." If it's not already a website, it should be. Please send me the royalties

14% answered "E. Coli." Nah. Sadly, that's a given at any beach.

No one fell for "Cuddle Shark." While I'm sure even a shark needs a hug once in awhile, those are two words that do not belong together.

The correct answer, which 29% got, is "Giant Squid."

According to the Associated Press, these seven feet long, 110 pound cephalopods have been quite a problem as they have been preying on the anchovy and hake, competing with tuna, sharks and commercial fishermen. They used to only be found near the equater in the Pacific, but have been expanding their operation to as far north as Alaska. Scientists think it might have to do with either the warming of the ocean or a decrease in the population of those that prey on the rather phallic fish, mainly swordfish, large tuna, shark and surfing MILFS.






4 comments:

Paul said...

There's also the heroes who get their powers from stuff they build, not necessarily inherent powers.

Joe Janes said...

You are absolutely correct.

There's all sorts of ways for super heroes to get their powers. We didn't get in to the origin aspect of it because they don't usually make very interesting scenes. They can, however, make for some interesting aspects.

In the last Writing 5 show I did, Sara Lafler had a scene about a super hero who had all the usual super hero stuff - flight, strength, etc. But could only use them to help white people. She wanted to help everyone, but her powers wouldn't let her. She flies into a burning building to help some people, only to find they are jewish, black and gay. She had a nice monologue about touring Auchwitz and being bit by a spider. However, if the scene had been about that time touring the concentration camp, eh, probably not so much fun.

Paul said...

Maybe not fun, but possibly still awesome in another manner.

Man, I wish I could have seen this sketch play out. That's wonderful.

Paul said...

Also: Captain Abortion?