Why are the Marvel movies so popular? What is it about a bunch of very strange people running around in circus colors and high-tech armor that has resonated so deeply with audiences in recent years? And what can these stories teach you about being a better writer? Turns out, lots!
As a big Marvel fan myself, I appreciate the scope of their storytelling vision. Even better, I’ve gleaned all kinds of interesting writing insights—which I highlight, movie by movie, in this ongoing series of blog posts.
The Marvel movies aren’t a perfect series of films, by any means, which is why you’ll be able to learn from both the things they aced (like Tony Stark’s characteristic moment) and the things they bombed on (be ye warned: the Age of Ultron post is reeeeaallly long).
The most powerful lessons for any writer are those you gain from reading, watching, and breaking down the do’s and don’ts in other people’s stories. Whether you’re fan of superhero fiction or not, you’re about to learn how to write (and not to write) an excellent story in any genre.
Part 1, Iron Man: Grab Readers With a Multi-Faceted Characteristic Moment
Learn how the characteristic moment in Iron Man made sure we’d pay attention to Tony Stark for eight years and counting—and how you can do the same in your own book.
Part 2, The Incredible Hulk: How (Not) to Write Satisfying Action Scenes
Turns out the secret to great action scenes isn’t the action. Learn why The Incredible Hulk‘s action failed—and how to make readers adore your conflict.
Part 3, Iron Man 2: Use Minor Characters to Flesh Out Your Protagonist
Did you know the most important function of minor characters has nothing to do with them and everything to do with your protagonist? Find out what it is!
Part 4, Thor: How to Transform Your Story With a Moment of Truth
The most important job of your story’s Midpoint—and arguably the most important scene in the entire story—is the Moment of Truth. Learn to put it to use!
Part 5, Captain America: How to Write Subtext in Dialogue
The secret to great dialogue? It’s all about what’s not being said. Learn from these quick tips on how to write subtext in dialogue.
Part 6, The Avengers: 4 Places to Find Your Best Story Conflict
Story conflict is about much more than the battle between protagonist and antagonist. Learn to create rich and deep conflict between all your characters.
Part 7, Iron Man 3: Don’t Make This Mistake With Your Story Structure
Readers may be willing to overlook certain missteps in your story structure. But not this one. Discover the worst story structure mistake you can possibly make.
Part 8, Thor 2: How to Get the Most Out of Your Sequel Scenes
Want to add a meaningful exploration of character to any story? The secret lies in creating deep and rich sequel scenes—the reaction half of the scene.
Part 9, Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Is This the Single Best Way to Write Powerful Themes?
If you can write powerful themes, you can turn the smallest, silliest, most escapist of stories (like, say, a superhero comic) into something great.
Part 10, Guardians of the Galaxy: The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory
The reason you love backstory is because it’s the discovery of character. Turns out, that’s why readers love it too—but only if you use these three must-haves.
Part 11, The Avengers: Age of Ultron: The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Foreshadow a Story
Sloppy or forced foreshadowing leaves readers feeling confused and manipulated. Here are four things to avoid in figuring out how to foreshadow a story.
Part 12, Ant-Man: How to Choose the Right Antagonist for Your Story
Want to learn how to choose the right antagonist for your story? All you have to do is double-check him against this four-part checklist.
Part 13, Captain America: Civil War: How to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters
Sometimes your greatest act of courage is being honest, especially in staying true to your characters. Check yourself with these four questions.
Stay tuned! I will update this series as soon as I can after watching the most recent installments to the Marvel universe (whether the theater release or VOD).