Every writer has a style that comes naturally. Perhaps you haven’t discovered what your style is, or you are testing out various ones for fit. That’s well and good, but let me give you a big hint: Don’t fight your natural inclination. Your brain was wired a certain way and your internal voice has a dialect all your own. It’s time to embrace your style and knock your readers out with amazing and unique storytelling.
There are loosely five basic styles of boxers–out-fighters, punchers, counter-punchers, sluggers, in-fighters. Just like in boxing, writers fall into different camps based on technique, skill, and habit.
Classic boxers are called Out-Fighters. They maintain distance between themselves and their opponent, with fast, longer range punches. The idea is to methodically wear an opponent down using skill in pacing, finesse, quick reflexes, and footwork. (Examples: Muhammad Ali, Salvador Sanchez, Manny Pacquiao.)
Writers that exhibit this classical style are more formulaic in their stories. Romance, Westerns, Pulp Action, Cozy Mystery…all generally follow a tried and true formula. That does not mean these genres won’t surprise the dickens out you, because the best authors will knock your socks off. Their predictability is what makes readers come back time and time again. The reader knows authors in these genres will deliver reliable of drama and pacing right up to the climax. (Examples: Johanna Lindsey, Louis L’Amour, Lester Dent, Lillian Jackson Braun.)
Now what does all this have to do with SUPERHEROES? Plenty the best action hero and superhero stories have more going for them than *KAPOW* >>BAM<< or ~ZOINKS~. They have a story at their heart. It could be a romance like Hawkman & Hawkgirl, or a Western (can you say) Jonah Hex, or a pulp like The Shadow, how about a mystery…Batman: The Long Halloween. To get your Superhero story off the ground you need to know what kind of story is at the heart of your battle. Part of this genre becoming world class prose is about learning our storytelling craft. We all have great ideas for new supers and we have loads of imagination, but if we will take the time to develop our craft, nothing can keep us off the bestsellers list! Below are some resources to kick start your next series or chapter.
Romance writers be sure to check out Jami Gold’s post: Write Romance? Get Your Beat Sheet Here! The post is full of good things including this link for a blow up of the beat sheet. Writers of any genre would do well to take a peek at this list.
Westerns are a different animal entirely. The genre is the subject of university classes and Ph.D dissertations. The web is full of scholarly papers discussing everything from setting to formula. R.L. Coffield’s post is a great place to dive into the genre.
Pulp Action, today, is called New Pulp. And the folks over at the New Pulp website have the skinny on the genre. Pulp novels are written in a fast pace style that amaze readers with dashing over-the-top characters in settings that range from the mundane to the fantastical. But one thing is certain New Pulp books are like an Action sandwich filled with explosives!
Cozy Mysteries are near and dear to my heart. My bookcase runneth over with paperback volumes running the gamut between stories with cats to cooking shows gone awry. They all follow an unmistakable path, but the best writers amaze me with their sneaky and deft handling of the details. Elizabeth S. Craig’s post: Top Tips for Cozy Mystery Writing and a Crazy Cozy Blogfest, has a list you don’t want to miss.
Some of this content is from my post "Readers Roll with the Punches: Use Your Writing Style for the Knockout!" from 2/2015.--Lisa