Grading Phase 3

I’m at the halfway point for the Phase 3 stories, so I’m taking this time to look back and see how I think I’ve done so far. I’m giving each story (including the prelude/setup stories) a grade on this scale, with the understanding that every story could use revision or improvement:

  • A: I think the story did its job and I like what it did with the characters
  • B: The story and/or characters are good, but it needs serious revisions or new draft to function
  • C: There’s potential but the story needs a rewrite to come at things differently
  • D: I dropped the ball, and should either revise my concept or find an entirely new angle here
  • F: Story should just not have been written

I’ll include the pitch for each story, the grade, and a brief note on why I graded it that way. I’m skipping 301, as that was actually written by Mike.

302 - New Tomorrow. A series of quick cuts, like television ads, introduce us to the reality of Rex Tyran’s vision for Halcyon City. Grade: A. This was short, but I think it hit the points I wanted to hit. My only regret is that I haven’t played up the peril of the city as much so far, but as the story of the Stellar Six emerges, we’ll see more of that.

303 - SNOWSTORM. John Black is resurrected from the Antarctic and undergoes therapy, while an admirer tries to find a path to his closed-off heart. Grade: B. This is about half an episode of some comedy/drama anime where two young people are trying to figure things out, but it could have fleshed out John and Alex and their individual views on relationships a bit more.

304 - Entanglement and Collapse. Leo and Aria take their first steps together as a married couple of inventors. Grade: C. As written, we’re just laying pipe, not saying anything particularly interesting about the characters or the implication of what’s going on. It skims over a lot that might deserve more attention. I recognized this early and touched on the wedding a bit more later on.

305 - A Hard Look at the Mirror. The Mirror Alycia Chin learns that nobody can be trusted, not even herself. Grade: C. I liked the core elements of the story but I should have done more work to make the reader understand how subjective and terrifying an experience she’s having.

306 - The Dueling Duo. Charlotte meets Vermillion and Bodark, a pair of Russian fugitives with supernatural powers. Grade: A. I feel like I did good introducing the characters and setting up a dynamic. It’s a setup story, so some pipe gets laid and not much else happens, but as a setup story it does the job.

307 - Reinvention. Summer Newman struggles to find a new way to live. Grade: B. As setup this was okay, but honestly I was as much figuring out Phase 3 Summer as she was figuring herself out. “I can’t commit” came later, but I could have planted those seeds better here.

308 - Lying Down With the Lion. Superchica aka Keri goes to space and comes back with a new appreciation of strength and weakness. Grade: A. I’d call this the flagship setup story. It set up the HHL status quo, but it was also a strong glimpse into this character’s troubled inner life.

309 - Burn Notice. Nono Rodriguez comes to grips with the demands of the spy’s life as she spends time with her pyromaniac villain girlfriend. Grade: B. This is a fun little episode that doesn’t do anything amazing except follow two characters around. We saw Tyran’s robot goons in action, but even so we could have done a little more to examine life on the run.

310 - Dark Stars. Maury and Daph research Tyran’s new superteam, the Stellar Six. Grade: C. Another fun romp through backstory where we set up the Stellar Six, also guest starring the Scurrilous Hullabaloo and their Babble Rabble. Unfortunately I give Daph a really neat question to ask, but she won’t be the one to follow up on the answer, and that sabotages anything else that I do with the characters.

401 - Super-pirates on the high seas!. The Newman rescue organization fights Dr. Sidorov and his magnetic millipede robots to save a freighter at sea. Grade: A. A straightforward rescue episode in the style of Thunderbirds, with Summer coming in with a fancy superweapon to save the day. If I was selling toys, I’d just write more stories like this for a season.

402 - Every Start a Battlefield. Adam Amari and friends chase after Somber, an enigmatic alien with designs on Earth’s negative energy reserves. Grade: B. I think it’s a strong start but I could have staged the early fight in more interesting ways.

403 - All Heroes Must Die!. Alycia Chin’s MIA team fights the Grasscutters, a group of super-mercenaries. Grade: C. Too late, I realized as I was writing these stories that mercs are a bad fit for the kind of fiction we’re doing here, and I should have done more to develop the GCs as an enemy.

404 - The Seven Wonders. Harry Gale and friends fight the Seven Wonders, a band of master villains who ruled the roost in the heyday of the HHL. Grade: B. I think our villains got a good introduction and I like them as characters, but as usual with me I need better fight framing. This would be better as a visual story.

405 - Attack On the Multiverse!. Charlotte Palmer meets a team of heroes across the multiverse to fight a mysterious foe: the Eigendrakes. Grade: A. Big stakes, scary mystical combat, parallel versions of familiar heroes, a visit to a hollow ghostly Earth - everything I’d want in a comic book story. The Empire Strikes Back ending is just icing on the cake.

406 - The Beast That Blocks Out the Sun!. The Newman rescue team save people from a kaiju, and learn to work with an alliance of suspicious European superheroes in the process. Grade: A. I feel this is another successful Thunderbirds style rescue story, with some character development along the way.

407 - Frontline With the Blot. The Love Bug and its occupants save space refugees from the alien Blot, leading Adam in a new direction on his quest. Grade: B. I like the story itself, but some of the elements - the ship teasing with Platana, for example - could have been fleshed out more or excised. Aside from that, I know the tone I wanted to convey with the HHL revanchist team, but I’m not sure I succeeded there.

408 - Renegades From the Deep!. The MIA team saves Panama from a terrorist attack. Grade: D. There’s too many problems here for a new draft to really rescue this story. I’d want to come at this fresh, do more research, and have a much stronger focus on the characters.

409 - The Soul of the Hero. Harry’s team defends the HHL remnant from the Grasscutters and the Seven Wonders. Grade: C. This story tried to do too much, and I should have pared it down to the essentials: contrasting the way the heroes & villains I’ve set up do their business.

410 - The Fires of Conflict. The Newman rescue team intervenes in a politically perilous situation. Grade: C. I like what was at stake here - paying a political price for doing the right thing - but could have done it better. This is also where I started doing a weird thing, which is putting all the interesting action stuff up front, and then having the story sort of peter out in a more introspective way. The introspection itself isn’t bad, it’s just bad if my story has an Act One and Two but not a Three - something to do with all that introspection.

411 - Curse of the Draugr. Charlotte and friends investigate a supernatural mystery in Iceland. Grade: A. I’d call this a good Doctor Who mystery, which is how I tend to write Charlotte anyway. I think I struggled maintaining suspense in some places but I can live with that.

412 - Pursuit Through the Pleiades. Pirates, street racing, organized crime, and a visit to an ancient space temple. Grade: A. This is a story where I worked hard to keep half-a-dozen characters relevant, and I think it shows. Adam went solo at the end but I think those moments were rightfully his anyway.

413 - City of Clones. The MIA team investigate the Antibody program in Russia, as all of Alycia’s secrets are exposed. Grade: B. I didn’t do the Antibodies justice the way I should have, and that’s my biggest regret. A scene of them interacting with the robot “dolls” set up for practice would have been fine and could have moved plot forward. Handling the base chase also could have gone better. But aside from those points, I think it was a fun spy story in an interesting setting.

414 - “The Sentence is Death!”. Harry must defend his family from a magical assassin, without the use of his powers. Grade: C. I think I did good on the setup, but I totally messed up the actual confrontation. The battle between the Sentence and the Gales itself needs to be rewritten from scratch. I like how it started and I like how it ended, but I really don’t like everything in between.

415 - Star-Crossed. The Newmen rescue people from an imperiled space station, and Summer questions her commitment to the team’s mission. Grade: C. Once again I do the big action stuff up front and the quiet thoughtful stuff at the end, without it paying off in the present story. It’s good character development, but we also want to see that development in play.

Overall grade: 8x A, 7x B, 8x C, 1x D. This is a GPA of 2.9, which isn’t great - it’s a passing grade, sure, but not where I’d like to be.

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Lessons learned, overall and per book:

The biggest lesson of Phase 3 is that a six-person team is tough to write. There’s team dynamics, there’s keeping each member relevant to the conflict, there’s just a lot of things to keep track of. I’m debating 3- or 4-person teams for any new phase, and for other similar work.

The Marvelous Menagerie

Overall GPA: 2.6 (C+)

Harry is a fun character but I’m struggling with his ensemble and the supporting cast. And while I love the Seven Wonders as villains, I’ve also loaded this book down with too many other villains - the Grasscutters, the Stellar Six, and the Sentence. Tackling the Seven Wonders member by member might have been a better move, with the New Tomorrow being a constant background menace, rather than having them constantly showing up as a group.

Menagerie In Action (MIA)

Overall GPA: 2.4 (C+)

MIA is the weakest of the books, despite having (in my opinion) the characters with the most inner & outer conflict to play with. Clearly I’m doing something wrong here. I’ll be trying to course correct with their next story, “the Dragon Financier”.

Menagerie Megaverse

Overall GPA: 3.5 (B+)

Kirby space shenanigans, space piracy, and more. If anything, I’m not going big enough in these stories. I really need to break out the big ideas and let them soar. And my big challenge continues to be managing the ensemble.

Menagerie at Midnight

Overall GPA: 3.5 (B+)

We’ve only seen two regular stories so far and they were both good. Writing these as supernatural Doctor Who stories feels like a winning formula, and I’ll keep doing that.


Overall GPA: 2.8 (B-)

Following the Thunderbirds formula gave me some good stories. If I stick to that, I’d probably do better. The more recent stories are “the team does some exciting thing and then Summer is maudlin for a bit”. I need to refocus on the whole team.


I still need to go through another read through (for many reasons) to freshen up my memory on some of these (God, it does not feel like 2 years since I read some of these, and yet…) but I’ll see how well my current memory holds up here.

Personally, I’ve been very happy when how Phase 3’s turned out. While there’s been some fumbles, I don’t think they take too much away from enjoyment of the stories.

I remember liking this story quite a bit, so I kinda of feel like the C grade is a bit harsh, but I also know I don’t know what your vision was for this story going into it and how closely you hit the mark. We’ll see how I feel about it on a re-read though.


Another one that I liked but you’re grading lowly. While I admit that it does have a couple problems along the way, I don’t know that it’s unrescuable.

If I have any regrets with this story, it’s that when everything goes sideways we don’t get a doppelganger fight or a scene where one of the MIA momentarily mistakes one of the fake Alycia or Jason for the real thing.

Alycia on Alycia would have been fun. Or the team versus eight Alycias.

Kind of agree with the assessment here. Started good, ended well, middle was a little soupy in places.

Agreed. Ensembles are rough. Writing several ensembles simultaneously is even tougher. And I’ll get into another point with this one in a bit.

One could argue that this is a story with 19 main characters: all of Harry’s Menagerie plus all the Seven Wonders plus the Stellar Six. That’s a lot of characters to juggle, even before we get into the secondary cast. It’s very ambitious and you’ve been handling it well, but I do worry whether the two storylines (the mystery of the Stellar Six and the mystery of the Seven Wonders) might have been stronger if done separately and given more time to breathe.

Again, think you’re being a little harder on yourself with this storyline that you deserve, but knowing what I know about the upcoming Dragon Financier story, I’m excited.

I would also say of any group here, this is the one whose dynamic I’m most invested in. You can frame a scene with any two or three of these characters and I’m interested to see what part of their dynamic is going to get the spotlight, so I would agree that they do have the most inner & outer conflict to play with.

If there’s any issue I have with the Megaverse group, it’s that Will and Jaycee probably need a bit more focus or more to do. Like I can imagine some goals and friction points with the rest of the characters, but Will and Jaycee seem the most like “just along for the ride.”

Been enjoying where these have been going, so certainly does seem like a winning formula.

Agreed. While I’ve got no issue with Summer getting the spotlight, I do feel like the Brothers could use a bit more. Plus I always want to see Leo and Aria, even though they’ve been put on the bus for the moment.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed Phase 3. There’s been some rough points, but I’m always excited to see an update on the forums.

And now for something I don’t usually do, a wish list of things I hope to see either in Phase 3 and beyond.

  • More Blot. There’s a line in the Silver Seven Field Deployment Guide about that Blot that always makes my brain whirl – While the Blot exists as a single hive-mind, “Initiatives” - specific impulses to accomplish something - exist within their consciousness, and function like particularly driven individuals – and I’m interested to see what that looks like in practice.
  • Minato is precious and must be protected at all costs. :laughing:
  • Binarya, the Cybergod. Vigil’s fleshing out has been one of the fun parts of Phase 3 and I’m excited to see where the reveal of the Cybergod to Mirage takes things.
  • A named Grasscutter would be fun. You had concerns that the Grasscutters were a bit nebulous before and I think getting to put the spotlight onto one of them and learning their motivations would certainly help with that.
  • Jenny Byrne showing up once a Phase, being mistrusted, earning a modicum of trust, and then revealing she had ulterior motives all along will never get old.
  • Saito doing something with the splint group of the Atlantean Blood has been bubbling on the edge of the story for a while, so interested to see where that goes. Along with Pyrrhus, he’s a standout of new villains introduced in Phase 2 and (as far as I’m concerned) as important to the Menagerie canon as Achilles Chin, Vrytovia, and Rook.
  • And in that same vein, Strike Captain Onnanoko. She only shows up for like two scenes, but 1) they were good scenes and 2) she had a lot of personality for what was effectively a named mook. She was worried about being a failure, only to learn that she was meant to fail and had done her job as expected. It might be a thin bit of story, but it was well told and struck the right cord.
  • The Dragon Finacier. What? I can wish for things I already know are coming. :wink:
  • I’ve been enjoying that the Newmen have kind of been doing their own thing at the periphery of everything else going on. They don’t have a villain (unless you count politics and the status quo as a villain) but instead are dealing with crisis of the week stuff. Fourth Mother and Titalion were fun creations for them to work around and I’m interested to see what else is down the pipeline.
  • That said, the group I could most see them syncing up with for a story is Charlotte’s Midnight Menagerie. Could be some interesting dynamics there.
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Some comments on the wishlist, because I love wishlists

It’s exactly what you’d guess it is - a way to put a face to a group, give the heroes someone to strive against, and so on. So far only Adam & his team have really any reason to go to space, and the Blot are unlikely to come back to Earth, so I’d want to think about how to handle this. I’m open to suggestions, though.

The Mu story arc is coming, but I’m not sure where to fit it. Saito will make her second in command and lead a new militaristic underwater empire. This is also what the MIA background detail of an “underwater aircraft carrier” is leading to - an underwater WW2 storyline.

The Phase 3 bakery is serving up cinnamon rolls all day.

Moving on from grading individual stories and rolling up those grades to the books as a whole, let’s talk about the approach I took to these stories, and grade those overall decisions.

Sorting stories into books. Grade: A. The Phase 2 stories were all over the map. It was a thick braid of narrative, clumsily woven, where anyone could appear in a bit of story at any time. Partitioning stuff into strongly themed books with their own genre rules saved my sanity.

Writing for an audience. Grade: C. Thinking more about it, I think part of my mistake on books like MIA is to write stuff I hope will lure Dave in, or Megaverse to just center Adam so Mike can enjoy his character being cool. The books where I’m doing the best job are the books where I’m writing for myself, rather than trying to please an audience.

Writing episodic stories. Grade: A. I’m not doing season-long story arcs any longer, which is probably for the best. I can do buildups across stories for a thing to eventually happen, but I can also dive into distractions and side stories, even in books like Midnight where there’s a big pressing concern. Writing “chapter by chapter” within a story also lets me drop a few plot beats, then stand back and survey the effect they’ve had vs. what I hoped would happen.

Building big teams. Grade: D. As mentioned, writing ensembles is difficult, and as Mike pointed out, more difficult to do across several books. I feel like a compromise is that the books’ rosters can stay put, but I can pick and choose a few people from the roster for a given story.

Picking a single character as an anchor for each book. Grade: A. I made sure each of the teams had a main character I could fall back on, and I’m glad I did that because I repeatedly fell back on it. :joy:

Building internally consistent rosters. Grade: B. For the most part, I think I did well in handing out team members to appropriate rosters. MIA is all spy shit, Newmenagerie is all robot rescue shit, and Marvelous Menagerie is classic supers. THAT SAID, I did plug some characters in just because I thought they’d be neat to team up, e.g. sending Armiger to space. I’m not saying that was the worst move, but imagine what it would look like to have Armiger & Jaycee on the Midnight team, Equity and Maury on Marvelous, and Mirage as ship’s computer on the Love Bug.

Putting faces on all conflicts. Grade: B. Aside from the Grasscutters, as discussed, I think I’ve done a good job structuring conflicts around the people involved, and giving those people clear personalities and motivations. We might have some cosmic mysteries like the Eigendrakes, but even then we quickly got to a point where we could say “this is what they are and here’s what they want” and see them trying to achieve it.

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While I will never object to pandering to my tastes, I agree that you need to feel happy with these tales, and that will come through in being attractive and enjoyable to the audience, even me.

The TTRPG Primetime Adventures has a cool mechanic where the “spotlight” for a given character rotates through various episodes, with other characters as major or minor roles for those episodes, so that everyone gets their spotlight time. It’s designed for gameplay, but it’s not a bad mechanical approach for large groups. Keeping everyone busy and in front is nearly an impossible balancing act (and one of the biggest critiques of super-hero team movies).

Anyway, you’re seeing the issue with your efforts here and are taking appropriate steps to correct.

I don’t think I can give detailed grades here myself, esp. as there are a number of stories I’ve missed or skipped to get to others I’ve been behind on. My interest in some storylines is higher than in others (and fwiw that was true in the original, too); that’s less about how they are written than in my interest in some characters and in the tonalities and natures of the setting. Another part of the problem, aside from the normal 50% more things I want to do than I have time to do them, is that neither the computer nor the mobile are my sit-down-and-read tools of choice.

Be that as it may, what I have read I have enjoyed, and I’d like to (and expect to) read more.


Admittedly, I did like the flexibility of who teamed up with who and who showed up where, but I completely understand you wanting to partition stuff for your own sanity.

Yeah, much rather have you writing what you want. Plus I imagine that Dave and I are tough audiences when it comes to our own personal silos. That being said, I love everything with the MIA stories always getting me excited to see what happens next.

I’ve especially enjoyed your willingness to dive into things that aren’t the main plot because they’re just fun.

What I’m hearing here is that I need to get Dave a print copy of Phase 2 and 3 so he can read it at his leasure. :stuck_out_tongue:

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This is one of many reasons I adopted the “book” structure for Phase 3. People can dip into story lines that interest them, there’s minimal overlap in plots and rosters, and nobody gets locked out because they don’t watch all the post-credit scenes.

Haha, don’t give me the soul-shattering anxiety of feeling I must clean all these stories up to be worthy of print.

Oh, I know there are ways I can get around it (I could PDF the stories and email them to my Kindle, etc.)

But, by the same token, that would break the ability to instantly comment on stuff, which is also a lot of the fun. :smile:



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I want to elaborate on “writing ensembles is hard” because, yeah, self-evidently it is, but let’s look at the reasons for that and see if we can solve some of what makes it hard. After all, I’m only halfway through Phase 3. No problem, right?

Writing an ensemble cast, rather than a single protagonist and a couple supports, is hard because…

The ensemble has internal conflicts that demand expression. If you have a pack of people who all get along all the time, have no disagreements, no yearnings, lusts, frustrations, hopes, fears, no energy, no spark - then they’re boring. Big teams like the X-Men are fighting, fucking, and fracturing even before you add villains to the mix. Some incarnations of the Justice League are relatively sedate, but others put their characters into conflict with each other.

But all this internal conflict takes time to write, and it has to weave neatly with whatever external conflict is going on. Example: are we taking the pragmatic but violent route in disposing of this bad guy, or are we doing it peacefully but risking that blowing up in our faces? Different characters struggle to convince the team, then we see the outcome of whichever attempt wins out.

Large casts dilute protagonist-antagonist relationships. When MIA went after Pyrrhus, it was personal for exactly one person (not counting Jason). The others were along because this was the right thing to do, they supported Alycia, etc. And likewise, Pyrrhus couldn’t have cared less about the others. I mean, if he’d survived, he’d care now, but…

There’s solutions here, like making sure the antagonist doesn’t care about anyone at first, and letting a team get on their shit list. It’s also fun if that dynamic rotates through the cast story by story, e.g. today we’re going to be fighting someone who really has it in for Nono Rodriguez (but why?). That becomes easier when everyone on a team is notorious and/or proactive, harder when they’re a team player.

The complexity of a relationship graph increases non-linearly. If you have N characters, there are (N * (N - 1)) / 2 relationships - four people is 4x3/2 or 6 relationships, five people is 5x4/2 or 10, and six people is 6x5/2 or 15. I tended to pair off people in the rosters, e.g. Adam and Keri, William and Jaycee, and so on, but that wasn’t always possible. Still, having a team of pairs interact effectively halves the N value above, and adds another N/2 relationships, as each pair has an internal dynamic.

Shifting spotlight and POV characters demands maneuvering room. What I mean by this is that I could easily split up Harry’s team - Harry and A10 do a thing, Stingray and Ninjess do a thing, Mirage monitors remotely - but it’s much harder with, say, Megaverse. So far that team has been on a single spaceship and that really constrains where they can go and what they can do separately. Teams with members who are free to leave, e.g. Newmenagerie and Megaverse, tend to do well because I don’t have this thorny constraint wrapped around my writing.

The solution here is relatively easy - take people off the spaceship, or whatever constraint is forcing a given group to stay together. I’d originally thought about equipping Adam’s team with a more flexible way of getting around (and they have one, now) but the spaceship itself is an important plot point, and I can’t just do that so easily.

Power imbalances must be managed. This is the Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit scenario - one member of the team should not trivialize a problem that challenges the rest of the team. Like internal relationships, this grows non-linearly, as more and more relative power differences arise as more characters must be compared to each other.

This is most easily solved in Newmenagerie, where the characters are all robots and share technology, and most difficult in books like Marvelous and MIA, where you’ve got an invulnerable well-armed android and a strongly motivated chemist on the same team, or where Harry Gale’s super-speed and family connections demand a party of heroes that can keep up figuratively if not literally.

Sometimes you can create scenarios where the strong member is tackled by some aspect of the situation, e.g. only John Black can set off the EMP bombs and survive the Antarctic base coming down on his head, or Harry has to evacuate hostages from a TV station because nobody else can do it fast enough. That too demands more careful writing than “there’s a bad guy, he’s got bombs hidden around the city, go handle it.”

There’s obviously other reasons, but to me these are the big glaring ones.

Conclusions and Corrections

Grading systems are tools for improvement. With that in mind, let’s see what we propose doing to improve Phase 3 and future writing:

  • First and foremost, write for myself. I know what I like, and if I do it authentically, you’ll like it too (for some value of “you”).
  • Establish pockets within each ensemble cast.
  • Tighten the villain focus in Marvelous. The Seven Wonders like working two or three at a time, so we’ll tackle them in small batches.
  • Ramp up the conflicts in MIA. Make people care about the situation, and make antagonists take notice of more teammates than just the heir of Chin.
  • Go bigger in Megaverse. Interstellar empires, hive-mind mushrooms, space gods, whatever I can think of that’s grand and glorious and has lots of dots.
  • Keep writing Midnight as Doctor Who, and Newmenagerie as Thunderbirds. This has worked well so far and I should keep doing it.
  • Introduce named Grasscutter antagonists and give them clearer motivations.
  • Get the Megaverse crew out of the ship and let them stretch their legs.

When I say “pockets”, I mean pairing people off within a larger roster. Here’s a visual example.

Count the number of lines - that’s the relationship count. Now compare.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t interactions outside of these pockets, only that I don’t have to carefully shepherd them along the way I would the “main” relationships. They’ll emerge organically and serve a purpose.

Of all the books, I think my only doubts about ensemble management are Megaverse (since to bring Princess Peri back online, I need events to come back to Earth) and Marvelous (since I need to foreground the other heroes more to keep competitive with Harry).

I think with these changes I’ll be in better shape. We’ll see - and thank you folks who contributed your own feedback and opinions. That was incredibly helpful and validating.

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Having done some planning for the second half of Phase 3, and having reviewed my conclusions here, it’s time to list some as-yet-unsolved challenges, and where I’m at on those challenges. A lot of these come from my personal prejudices and assumptions, but since I’m doing the writing, that’s really important.

Marvelous Menagerie

In Marvelous Menagerie, we have a speedster, backed by a family of speedsters. To me, super-speed is a pretty unbeatable power. How do you counter it? How do you challenge it? It’s not hard if you write it so the hero doesn’t use it very effectively, but I don’t write like that.

My current options are:

  • Powerful opponents. I tried this with the Sentence, but at the time I was writing that story, I had a large amount of personal stress and was not doing well at all. But the Seven Wonders largely have power sets that can counteract super-speed in their own ways. But we want our heroes to win, so we have to be careful that they aren’t too unbeatable.
  • Evil counterpart. The Flash has a whole army of evil speedsters, and they can engage with the good Flashes on a level playing field. We’ve established one evil speedster (Never-miss) in the book, but having her outed is a big gamble for Rex Tyran, and she’d still outnumbered by the Gales as a whole.
  • Limit the speed. I set up the possibility for this with the nano-virus that Tyran inflicted on Harry through Never-miss. I could have him experience long-term effects from that, but I don’t want to just limit this character because I can’t come up with a more imaginative solution.
  • Tackling. This is an easy but perhaps boring option. Always include something in the scene that forces Harry to be the one dealing with it. Unless that thing is “defeating the current bad guy”, though, it means taking the book’s main character away from the spotlight. Not a good option for Act 3 moments in a given story, but acceptable for early bits.

I could watch more of “The Flash” but my strong impression from others is that it’s not really a great template to follow. I’m interested in opinions from anyone who’s seen a fair amount of it.

We have a second problem on that roster, which is Stingray. What does he actually do? How does he contribute? He’s got power armor and he’s got some gadgets, but I really need him to step up more.

Again, my options:

  • Atlantean biotech. This feels like the strongest option but I don’t know that I’ve got time to establish it? We’ll see. The idea here is that he tutors under someone like Doctor Zap to learn Atlantean bioscience, then puts that into use in a big way. This has the great big fat advantage of reinforcing his story, which is “misunderstood surly rebel fighting for what’s right” - people will not appreciate seeing Atlantean science on the streets of the city.
  • Super-Sub/Big Base. I can give him bigger and badder tech. Right now I’ve been vague - he’s got some kind of lab, but where? The biggest thing I hate about this option is that it runs into Newmenagerie’s gimmick.

Menagerie at Midnight

Bodark and Vermillion are due some screen time, because there’s a whole relationship going on that we haven’t seen much of. But Bodark doesn’t talk much, and Vermillion is bound to lie. How can we express their story?

  • Shift point of view. This is my first choice - tell a story from the POV of one or both of them. But which story? Charlotte is front and center for Buccaneers, at least at first - but maybe switching POVs around in the team after that will work.
  • More supernatural beings. Having a werewolf & vampire encounter other bearers of a Primal Shard would be fun, but I need to find a place to fit that into the current schedule.