Pop Quiz: what do superheroes and Halloween have in common?
Delightfully, brightly coloured costumes.
For one night we all forget who we are and pretend to be someone else.
So, to celebrate Halloween, we are going to ask you all writers another big question: what happens when it's not a one-night thing? What happens when someone becomes the costume?
The Halloween 2021 SWM Workshop
Theme: Becoming the Costume
Here we got the rules:
- Each entry MUST work around the theme.
- No entry can be longer than 10,000 words (give or take a few).
- All characters must be over the age of 18.
- SWM reserves the right to withhold and/or disqualify submitted entries based on their sole discretion of the content.
- Entries must be received no later than October 29th, 2021 at 11:59 pm GMT.
- Once submitted, entries will be voted on by the SWM user via an online poll.
The workshop start toda, to you all, happy writing!
For any further question you can ask the Admin staff via PM or the forum thread.
How to start this?
That's a pretty good question for a story that is essentially an ending... of sort.
And a bad one for the world.
This is a pretty short story and some people might even argue that it barely fits in our genre. It features a superwoman for sure, but her being super isn't the main focus of the story. It's relevant to the plot, in fact the plot work only because she's super, otherwise the entire deal won't work, but that's not the key. It's a very tricky balance to achieve, but Dru pulled it out brilliantly.
The opening, if anything, reminds me a lot of the general set-up of the Aurora Universe: an alien superwoman assigned as protector to our little backwater rock and bound by a crapton of redtape. That's the real key of the plot: redtape, an opponent that you can't punch, burn or toss in the sun or submit... until someone makes a mistake. If this doesn't sound exticing to you, I won't blame you. This is a slow burn story that is all about the payoff and, knowing Dru, you can reast easily knowing that the payoff will be great.
The result is a story that start familiar, develops in a prettyunexpected way and concludes with a pretty different premise. It's almost a perfect circle of our genre. Shadows of it resurfaced in some of Dru most recent work. I can totally see one or two details working their way in some of O-Girl craziest stunts.
Sometimes it's the bane of my existance and the reason why tend to forget to update this front blog in time.
This time, the occasion for this sharing is a bit more sombre than usual and it ties in with a a bit of sad news, the passing of actress Marjorie "Markie" Post, the inspiration behind the main storyline of our friend Darala Starr.
I have to give Darala credit for one thing, very few authors in our genre really manage to capture that unique feeling that was proper of some 70s and early 80s TV show, like The Bionic Woman or Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman. Perhaps it's because our sensibilities shifted so much, but I sometimes wonder if we had traded too much of the very toungue-in-cheek humor for too much of the sexy. Many of Darala's stories (hosted on Wattpad) are a masterclass in recapturing that particular sensibility, but I think this one stand head and shoulder above the others because it's completely original. Despite being visually based on Markie Post's character in The Plot to Kill a City (an episode of the Buck Rogers TV series), everything else about the character is 100% a creation of Darala.
Aside from the humor, what really made me a fan of this story is how the main character is portrayed as genuinly good and as a fish out of the water. Although by the end of "Season 1" she has become very accustomed to how her body works on Earth, all the previous installment are a journey of self-discovery. This long origin story manages to keep everything interesting and fun by letting us savour each little bite, each minute discovery, each accident that the main character experience along the way, spicing it all with a bit of humor and sexiness, but never making either the focus of the narrative.
I do belive this is really a precious gift, a true example of how to write a story in a style that seem lost to many of us.
PS: if you enjoyed this story,please go to Darala's Wattpad page to catch up with the sequel, also inspired by one of the beauties of Buck Roger's fame.
Transformations are one of the fundamentals of our genre. Some writers prefer to keep them to a minimum so that the character's powers are a surprise for the rest of the cast, but more often than not there is a changing element to the story, from a dramatic She-Hulk style change to a little amount of beautification.
In spite of this the means to achieve this transformation were as varied as humanly possible: blood transfusion, radiations, chemical mixtures, meteors, alien interference, magic, genies, err... kinky stuff (sorry this is visible to the casual audience as well). All of these and more can provide you with various results based on the amount of the resource available, the concentration and whatnot... but there is only one product that will grant you ever-improving results and beautification with 100% satisfaction guaranteed*.
I admit that my first reaction when I read Chapter 1 of this series was somewhere between the amused and the bewildered. Never in my mind, I would have even considered a shower gel as a viable means to start a superwoman story and transformation. Part of my reluctance I blame on the 2004 Catwoman movie (the one that won 7 Razzie Awards), where the main villain (played by Sharon Stone) became invulnerabl-ish after overdosing on a beauty cream. Although the equation of power = beauty is pretty common in our genre, the reverse isn't always true and the idea of a beauty product as a power source was always a bit of a sore point since I watched that flick.
Now, what did Monty do to change my mind?
In short: this story is insanely hot!
Like the top of the summer in a foundry hot!
All the superwomen in this story become incredibly beautiful and insanely powerful, even without considering how the gel keeps improving them with every use, creating a potentially infinite circle... or not. The idea of an ever-replenishing bottle of gel as the main prop proved to be a real stroke of genius. Being portable, semi-inconspicuous and easy to steal, it allowed many potential combinations and screw-ups first with Sarah's little sister Emma, their mother and later with Tiffany, who really pushed the story into high gear.
Moreover, Monty's narration truly improved over time adding more and more details and nuances to his repertoire but, unfortunately, the story kind of fizzled out at some point. It was really a shame and I still hope that Monty will pick this story up at some point.
* the SWM admin team is not legally responsible for any possible side-effect of absuing the Energize! gel. Said effect includes, but are not limited to, increased libido, invulnerability, goddess complex, destruction of clothes and/or property, disregard for common decorum and abuse of metal and/or concrete items for the purpose of strenth-testing.
For this week Admin Story Spotlight we have a pretty unique bit of superwoman fiction, one (really, really, really) short snippet straight from the mind of a superwoman and one of the oldest contributors to this community.
(Super)Ladies and gentlemen, let's talk about:
Before going any futher there are a couple of details I need to address.
First, this story is from the old "1000 words" format workshop, specifically Workshop 2.04, which is probably my favorite one ever. Not only it had a really high number of entries, it also had one of my favorite themes: a romantic evening. As such I'm highly biased toward all these stories and I already featured at least once (Larafan's Charlie's Angel) on this very column. Even so, I think that Velvet's work needs more recognition, being a pretty nice and unique take, not to mention a playful jab to a lot of us and our obsession.
Second (and this is going to be a lot more complicated), as I already mentioned Velvet has been one of the oldest contributor to our genre, being part of the many writers that tackled the Aurora Universe created by Shadar. Now (this is the awkward part), Velvet arrived to the genre by marriage. I'm not going into details, those who are in the know don't need them, but at some point her husband, one of our most estemeed authors, told her about his obsession for Supergirl. Lucky for him she still loved him and lucky for us she started contributing to the genre. I'm not sure if she had been the first woman to contribute to this community, but I think she has been the first one to openly identify her genre.
Apparently she had never even tried to write fiction before and she ended up publishing several piece both in and out the Aurora Universe, including some professionally published e-books.
What makes Velvet's work unique is that she often works from an internal perspective that it's very hard to get. Many of us write focusing on the exterior, the open display of power, she grand scenes. In short, we have a very Hollywood approach to narrative, where each individual shot must tell a story of its own. Her approach was more akin to French cinema, where things are showed us through the mind, rather than the eyes, of a single character.
The result is a very intimate (pardon the pun) point of view that provide us with the perspective of a superwoman that, in this case, is musing about the stereotypes of our genre on sexual encounters. I'm not going to spoil anything else, because it would make this piece possibly longer than the story itself, but I believe this should be a mandatory reading for any writer that want to approach this very delicate subject.
Sorry, sorry, sorry.
I know that this entry is insanely late, but this week hasn't been kind to me in any way shape or form (except that I was finally able to get an appointment for my first vaccine shot).
Anyway, this week's story is one that I had at least one finger in since I was part of the "beta-readering" team for it. So, I'm 100% biased and there is nothing I can do about it.
Let's talk about
If memory helps, this story started as a twenty or so pitch that Goose sent me in early 2016 and he published a first version in his Notebook thread. From there, the story got a lot of polishing and reworking, which is pretty much the hallmark of Goose's work, he's never satisfied, he always takes time of gave any piece he does a lot of extra work.
What makes this story really good is how it pulls a 180° about a quater of the way in, turning its own framing device in the main storyline. Speaking of the framing device, I'm kind of surprised that newscasts aren't much more prominent in our genre, not just because they are extremely useful to set up the scene by providing a measure of in-story exposition, but also because they're a very natural progression of Superman's framing device of being a newspaper reporter. Off the top of my head, the main examples I can quote are Gincognito's The Celbutante, which literally included the Chyron in the main text, and many entries by Newshound (of course).
Anyway, what AuGoose gave us a prime example of "collective wish fullfilment" that is exceptionally well written, but also extremely appealing because we can see it in real time. Often, stories based around the idea of a character getting powers from others use this element as part of the background or by delivering powers in "packets" that coincide with key moments of the story. Here we have a prime example of how to showcase the empowerment process in real time and it's gourgeous to watch. The main characte becomes a mirror of the events of the world and fuel them at the same time in a sort of neverending loop... well there's an actual ending, but I'm not going to spoil it for you.
By the way, some people might spot a passing similarity with HikerAngel's grand experiment Superstarter, but I'll leave any explanation about how or if those are linked to the author themselves.
See you at the next story.
How do I start about this one?
Beginning are often difficult.
Even more so when you're not considering what is, but rather what if...
One of the classic Marvel series from the '70 and '80 was What If an anthology that took a single pivotal moment in an ongoing series and reframed it by changing some details.
What if Spider-Man joined the Fantasic Four?
What if Jane Foster found Thor's Hammer? (a favorite in this community)
What if Phoneix Had Not Died?
...and so on.
Since, we are going to get a MCU TV series based on this premise, I thought it was a good idea to dust off our own What If stories, courtesy of a gentleman called TheWiseWatcher.
To be perfectly honest and fair this is really a throwback to the early days of the Supergirls Inc website, the predecessor to our community, and the story might not measure up to some more recent work and yet... it still has something. It has that "old comic book" charm, that ineffable quality that we associate with something that was part of our childhood. It might have not aged as well as other stories from those days, but I do think that it does have a place in the shelves of our library.
I admit I have to deduct a couple of point from TheWiseWatcher for two reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the story and more with my personal taste:
- The idea of Sue getting all the powers of the quartet is an idea that I love so much, so a was a little disappointed that you decided to go with a different route. Still, I like the wishing aspect of her new powers.
- A couple of times, I felt like this story really needed a tiny bit more explanation.
Even so, it's a great story and I would love to see a remake or a second episode spawning from it one day.
Hatts of to you, TheWiseWatcher and, like someone used to say...
What to pick for today's spotlight?
Nice, but too soon...
Already done this one...
N... wait... what the hell is this?
Well, well, well... let's see what I can get out of this one.
Today's Spotlight is a really strange one that I meant to tackle a long time ago, but never got around to it. The main issue is that this story had a certain vibe when I first read it and today it's very different. It's very hard for me to explain what I mean, so allow me to introduce one of the strangest stories from back in the day:
In and of itself this story is good, but very formulaic of our genre. It's a bad-girl revenge fantasy and that had to be expected since it was part of the SGInc Workshop 1.12, a.k.a. "Villainess Month", which spawned from a really old thread that showcased a series of real-life characters with the potential to become supervillainesses. LFan admitted in the introduction that this story was heavily inspired by the work of Marknew and the TV show Chuck, which was really huge back then... and "back then" is really what I want to talk about.
What really makes this story worth re-reading is how the main gimmick created by LFan had become a little time capsule of the end of the first decade of the current millennium. It might seem preposterous, but looking back through the lens of this story I realized how much the internet has changed over the past ten or so years, not just in terms of content, but in terms of how we interact with its resources. Rereading The Chosen One is like finding an old photo under a drawer, which suddenly jogs your memory and makes you wonder how much time has passed.
Okay. I'll stop with the reminiscing and go on with the story. As I said before, this story is very classic bad-girl revenge fantasy and LFan didn't pull any punches with the main character, from the get-go you know that she is bad news, that she has the empathic ability of landslide but, unlike said landslide, she actually does care about what other people think of her... or rather if they think good of her. I really think that, besides Marknew, a lot of other well-known writers probably inspired this piece. I can see a lot of DKC and Conceptfan in it (in fact I suspect that CF had been a beta reader for it). Our superwoman, empowered via the strangely named "Female Amplifcation via Cornealosmotic Experimentation Program", pulls all the stops of the petty revenge scheme, until...
Well, until LaraFan pulls a pretty incredible bait-and-switch which, I swear, I really never saw coming the first time and still astonishes me today for some reason.
No, I won't say anymore, go read it and come back here.
Let's stoke the fire, shall we?
About six weeks ago we were graced by a long-expected story.
I honestly do believe that neither the author nor the story needs publicity, but I really want to take a long look at its original version to see what made it click.
So let's dive into:
Where do you start to take apart a story that has been a staple of our genre and community for almost 15 years?
Well, I think that's fair to point the finger at the main character. Natasha Beland is exactly the kind of character that I really dislike in real life and in many movies: a spoiled girl from a small town that thinks everything is due to her because she is the belle of the ball. What separates Natasha from most of her peers is that, as the story progresses, we can see that she's somewhat conscious of her own situation, that she might be the sexiest girl in her school but that's amounts to nothing, and yet she still acts under the assumption that putting her breasts on display can get her everything... almost everything. And this is the second part: Natasha doesn't get her powers via a pure accident, by being hit by lighting or something, she works to get them -- even if she really wants them for petty reasons -- and this is a pretty big departure from her "mean valley girl" format. In general, I think that DKC made an excellent job at showcasing how the character flip-flopped between being cold and manipulating on one end and vapid and uncaring on the other. Natasha is mean, but she can't see herself as such, as we look at things from her perspective we can see how she really thinks she's the hero.
All of this plays perfectly when we reach chapter 4 of the original version, when DKC put forward one of my favorite tropes: trapping a character by giving her exactly what she wants. It's a brilliant solution that clicks perfectly with Natasha's established character but, in the following chapters, we see how it's just a speedbump. Natasha wants to play along, to be the idol of millions, but she's also easily bored, making any attempt to keep her under control a full-time job. It's a subtle balance, that the story maintains for quite a while, although things start falling apart pretty soon...
And this, my dear readers, is where we have been for a long while. DKC has written a lot of other stories and, I believe, these early attempts have blossomed into a rather recognizable style, that actually won him a number of past workshops. Now we have a new version of Infinity Crisis in the works and it has already dug into a few more details about the world at large and I really hope DKC will be able to keep it coming.
Cheers to you, DKC.
Let's have a chat, shall we?
I have something on my mind as of late and I really need to scratch this hitch sooner rather than later.
Throughout this series of articles, I made no secret that I choose many entries not because they appealed to my personal tastes (heck, I'm probably on the lower hand of the spectrum when it comes to superpowered feats, I take 100 displays of skill insane skill and control over a single act of random destruction), but because they surprised me. I think that the mark of a great writer is finding that extra pinch of spice, that small something that either flips the story on its head or makes everything really engaging beyond the simple feats of power and shiny costume.
So what about a story that is pure wish-fulfillment?
What about a story where wish-fulfillment is literally what moves the plot forward?
Well, to my eternal shame, allow me to introduce you to:
For a minute, when I read the first chapter of Baker's Dozen, I really felt that this story would not be a favorite of mine. The premise is kind of cool but, for someone that has been around this community for a long time, it felt like something we had done to death... until I noticed the small print: our protagonist, Bobby Baker, can wish to make up to twelve women into the superwomen, but all these wishes are non-revokable. One might think that this is a small deal, but it's the perfect monkey's paw. Bobby knows what is going to happen, but he has no idea how, nor he can really foresee the potential consequences. Genius.
As a result, every chapter of this story is a discovery, an attempt from Bobby to fix something with this newfound power... usually causing some unintended consequences in the meantime. The best definition I can think of is that it's a superpowered Sit-Com... or is it?
As funny as this premise is, it would have lost steam pretty quickly, if it wasn't for Argo's great skill at putting the characters in situations that really makes them endearing to the reader. Bobby starts as a very bland audience insert, but I dare you, I dare all of you not to grow attached as he struggles with the start of his relationship with one of these superwomen. About that, initially, I felt like this was... kind of forced, because every girl transformed seemed to be insanely into Bobby, but with each passing chapter I realized that this was just what jumpstarted everything. If I have to choose a word to define their relationship I'd use "cute". There is a sexual element to hit, but it's not central, which is the key point for me. In short, Argo managed to hit every high note on my personal scale in a story that I thought would go in a completely different direction.
Right now the story has been on hiatus since 2016, but since Argo is still around: "Man, I can count on one hand the stories that need a continuation more than this one. You left us with a big cliffhanger (that I'm not going to spoil here)."