A few things writers and superheroes have in common
Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, a weekly feature Publishers Digest has called, “Writing advice guaranteed to keep you out of the slush pile — or any pile, really…” and what The Master of Horror® Stephen King has heralded as, “Writing tips similar to a hobbling. And no, that has nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings…”
But enough accolades!
As I’m sure you’ve gathered from reading the headline, yes: I look really great in tights and a cape. At least on paper. In fact, all writers do. What do I mean by this? The power writers wield with words (such as four “w” words in a row) — whether (make that five) for inspiration, contemplation or revulsion — got me thinking about the things writers and superheroes have in common. And I don’t just mean how often people confuse me for Chris Hemsworth. At least on paper.
To begin with, like any superhero, every writer experiences a transformation process before going into action. Sure, it doesn’t involve hastily peeling your clothes off to reveal a fancy costume (depending on your genre and dedication to research), or a blinding flash that changes you from street clothes to colorful tights — And for this, reporters in my newsroom are extremely thankful. However, while not as dramatic, there is a transformation that takes place as a writer’s body language, facial expression and overall focus shifts from “earthbound” to “alternate universe.” Ever see a photo of yourself immersed deep in writer mode? It’s like looking at someone else. Which, in my case, is often mistaken for Chris Hemsworth. I mentioned the alternate universe part, right?
Speaking of which, like Thor’s mighty hammer, Spiderman’s web-shooters, Green Lantern’s ring or Hulk’s endless supply of purple pants, writers wield their own super-powered tool for getting the job done. I’m talking, of course, about a cranky editor. Haha! Just kidding! That will be next week’s NWOW topic: Things Editors and Super Villains Have in Common. Naturally, the super-powered tool I was referring to is the computer or tablet a writer wields as a defender of the written word. I realize some of you might be saying:
“I don’t write on a computer, so that’s not entirely accurate.”
And I suppose you’re right. The again, Moses was technically the first person to use a tablet, but let’s not split hairs.
Another characteristic that writers and superheroes share is having their powers thrust upon them. Like any superhero, a writer discovers their gift and realizes “With great power comes great responsibility to pick up a second job.” There’s no avoiding who your are, the powers you have been given, or finding the best way to use them. Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Jean Grey, Bruce Banner, Clark Kent — they all tried to deny their powers and the responsibilities they carried as a result of what fate had bestowed upon them. In each case, they came to realize they were only living within a shadow of who they were meant to be. The same goes for writers; they return to action because they can’t stop being writers.
So, does all of this mean you should should expect a call from The Justice League or S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Probably not. But as a writer, rest assured you are in the company of some really super friends.