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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Hero Tryouts?

   
Author Topic: Hero Tryouts?
Monolith
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I have an established 'hero' in my WIP and he's extended an invitation to join a 'hero group' that is wanting another body to help out against those people (read: super-villans).

Now the question is: Is having a try-out too unbelievable?(I'm having him take on the five members all at once, a "Last Man Standing" match)

Any and all comments are welcome.

Thanks you guys.

(Did I mention you guys are the greatest ever?)

-Monolith-


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tchernabyelo
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Not necessarily, though it's probably a lot easier if you're writing humourous stuff (I'm reminded of Mystery Men, and the occasional tryouts they had in Legion of Superheroes... anyone else remember "Arm-Fall-Off Boy"?).

However, I don't know your genre. If it's fantasy, and we're dealing with swordsmen, then "last man standing" is a really dangerous game to play. Even with swords (say) cloth-wrapped to take the edge off, you can still break limbs, or put someone's eye out. The superhero genre has the hughe advantage that no-one ever gets seriously hurt in its fights, and thus having heroes beat each other up is all but de rigeur (Marvel Team-Up ran for almost 40 issues before it had a plot other than "Spider-Man meets xxx; they fight, then they realise it's a set-up and join to fight the villain").

Martial arts stuff tends to have the same sort of approach, because it's often treated as (in effect) a superhero genre (and can end up looking as artificial as a WWE bout).


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Christine
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Mystery Men came to mind before I even opened up this thread and I agree, the concept works better as a comedy.
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EricJamesStone
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I don't have a problem with the idea of a try-out. I mean, if you're going to add someone to your superhero group, you don't want to go just off the resume and interview.

But I do have a problem with the tryout being him taking on the other five members at once. Unless he's expected to be the most powerful member of the group, it's hardly a good test of his abilities. It's like having a 5-on-1 basketball game to detrmine whether you want the 1 on your team. It won't prove much unless the 1 is Michael Jordan.

While a series of 1-on-1 matches would be better, that's not ideal either.

Superhero groups, the good ones at least, are about teamwork and synergy -- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Have him participate in a few 3-on-3 sparring matches, to see how he does working with different members of the team.


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Robyn_Hood
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I never saw Mystery Men and so I didn't think of it.

I did think of Robin Hood, though (wonder why, huh? ). Anyways, in one version I read several years ago (not sure of the author), Robin did have to prove himslef before he could join the outlaws. In retrospect, it was almost like a gang initiation. I can't remember exactly what the trial was, but it involved archery.

Done well, it can add a little excitement to your story.

Not done well, it can fall flat, slow down the plot and annoy readers.


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Monolith
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I love the suggestion Mr. Stone.

I think I'll do it that way.

Thanks

-Bryan-


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teedee
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I think Robin was accepted after he beat Little John in a hit-each-other-with-sticks fight on the river, although not as a leader.

1-on-1 battles aren't a very good determination of skill either, because superheroes usually have different skills. For example, The Human Torch versus Tree Man!

I think a series of tests (gauntlet, shooting, flying etc.) would determine a persons all-around skill.


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mikemunsil
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often these 'tryouts' have strong rite-of-passage elements as well.

we strong men.
we suffer well.
you suffer well?
let us suffer together to see how you suffer.

we all strong men.
we all suffered well.
let us now sit down and bond.
where's the beer?


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Robyn_Hood
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Cute, Mike.

I did a little more think ing and remembered the bad guy "tryouts" from the movie "Desperado". That was a one-on-one grappling type match...made for some good excitement.

I like the idea of a last man standing fight if there are several individuals all jockeying for one position.

quote:
I think Robin was accepted after he beat Little John in a hit-each-other-with-sticks fight on the river, although not as a leader.

I know that was the set-up in "Robin Hood: Prince of Theives", but the book I'm thinking of had a different storyline. The leader selection was based on a skills competition, one of the most important being the archery. Archery, of course, being one thing in which Robin excelled.


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apeiron
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I think tryouts aren't necessarily comedic, but you have to think practically if you want the reader to take them seriously. You sound like you're going to do either the 1 on 1 or 3 on 3, but before you write it out, here's some advice (based on my own reading/movie watching experience).

Why does the group want your hero? Because the hero believes in the same cause? (He's scappy, even if he may lack in talent.) Or is he known for his proficiency in a particular style of fighting?

If it's the former, the trials should be aimed at wearing him down, trying to make him think the cause isn't worth the suffering. Then, when he endures it all, the group will decide that he is in fact dedicated.

If it's the latter, combat matchups--that are designed to judge his skill and not just his willingness to take a beating--should focus on what he is known for. Is he an expert Guadita Knife thrower? Pit him against the group's best Guadita Knife thrower. Then pit him against an expert Yardi weilder, the weapon being explicitly designed to counter throwing weapons. (I'm randomly making up names here, if you can't tell.) If he wins/shows promise against the first, and can last a while/be innovative against the second, move on to group combat like EricJamesStone suggested--that was a great idea.

Anyway, the group, if they are intelligent at all (and hey, maybe they aren't...), should design their trials with forsight into what they hope to learn about your hero.


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Elan
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well, I HAVE seen "Mystery Men" and the tryouts for superheros was one of the best parts of that very funny movie. I loved it. (What was Pee-Wee Herman's character, the one who's super power was revealed when you pulled his finger?)

I would NOT call it "try-outs" unless you DO plan to approach this from a comedy standpoint. Call it a challenge, sizing you up,... use some metaphor, perhaps... Pon Farr, the challenge to the death...

but there are many ways you can approach the concept. Think about Princess Bride: the skill challenge, the strength challenge, the intellect challenge... like the Ironman competition, best man wins all categories.

Was that the question? I forget... I'm still laughing as I think about Mystery Men...


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Monolith
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Elan: His name was "The Spleen" ( and I loved the scene where he stuck his butt in the window of the limo and expelled his power into the face of Geoffrey Rush).

I'm thinking on doing a 3 on 3, but then again, what 2 to put with my hero "Tower".

I'll give a brief description of each member:

Bullwhip: Leader, electrical manipulation, can adhere to most surfaces, carries metal lined bullwhips. Hyper agility.

Mindwarp: The name says it all.

Portris: The resident sorcerer supreme.

Osprey: Cyber soldier, can fly has weapons in his cybernetic arms.

Jackhammer: Has the ability to vibrate and use sonic powers, and can turn to a steel-like man.

Does this help any? I'm thinking about who to team up with who.

Thanks for all the comments, any more are welcome, as always. And to those that are curious as to what kind of tone I have these characters in, I have about 15 pages of this story if anyone is willing to put up with my dribble.

Thanks
-Bryan-


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Elan
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It sounds like a good crew for The Tick and company. I would be sooo disappointed if this story didn't have humor in it, given the character descriptions you've mentioned!

And, oh, yes... The Spleen. How could I have forgotten? Along with The Shoveler, The Blue Raj, Mr. Furious, and... um... the Bowler, was it? Or was that her father, the undead spirit in her bowling ball?


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RFLong
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She was Baby Bowler and her father was the bowler.

My favorite was PMT Woman, who only worked one week a month - You got a problem with that?!

I think the quarter staff fight with Little John appears in the earlier Robin Hood legends as well as the film but I would have to look it up.

R


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Survivor
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quote:
Bullwhip: Leader, electrical manipulation, can adhere to most surfaces, carries metal lined bullwhips. Hyper agility.

Mindwarp: The name says it all.

Portris: The resident sorcerer supreme.

Osprey: Cyber soldier, can fly has weapons in his cybernetic arms.

Jackhammer: Has the ability to vibrate and use sonic powers, and can turn to a steel-like man.


Um, you were saying something about plausibility being an issue?

Try going with your first impulse, see if it works. You're clearly being heavily influenced by the comic book concept of superheroes here. Wait till you have an actual reason to abandon your inspiration.


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Monolith
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Hey Survivor, a quick question.

What genre would this be? Sci-Fi? or what?


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Survivor
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Generically I'd rank it as Fantasy if you were publishing it in novel form. Since most bookstores put Fantasy and SF in the same area, it doesn't make much difference if you want to say it's Sci-Fi or whatever, though most SF readers would definitely object to finding something of this nature in the SF section.

On the other hand, if you had a really solid SF explanation for why such diverse superpowers were so common, it could be SF.

In any case, where it ends up in the bookstore isn't really your concern. Write it as it is before you start compromising it according to some notion of where it will be shelved.


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Jeraliey
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I don't think we have enough information to match them up. The match-ups would have little to do with their actual powers, but everything to do with their personalities.
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TL 601
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What is a WIP again?
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mikemunsil
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work in progress
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Isaiah13
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Work in progress

--Simulpost

[This message has been edited by Isaiah13 (edited July 27, 2005).]


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TL 601
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Thanks
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Monolith
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Jerailey,

Just a question.

What does personality have to do with who gets teamed up with who?


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Survivor
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Are you kidding?

Teamwork isn't about whether your native abilities are similar or would complement each other well. Either is a bonus in a partnership that works. Both can be negatives where there's a personality conflict.


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Elan
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quote:
Both can be negatives where there's a personality conflict.

Having complimentary skills mingled with personality conflicts is the basis for most cop movies it seems. A good cop who follows rigid procedure and rules, teamed with a skilled cop with a bad attitude and flagrant disregard of the rules. Hollywood has been eeking out money from this storyline for a very long time.


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Jeraliey
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If team members can get along well, respect each other, and are capable of taking constructive criticism and/or orders from each other, then you'll have a good team.

However, if the team members hate each other, don't respect the others' decisions, resent having to do what the others ask them to, or have any other personality incompatibility that would interfere with group synergy, then the team will spend more time fighing each other than the bad guys. Not so good for an effective team.

All of these factors are completely dependent upon personality and have nothing to do with native superpowers.

This is not to say that the superpowers themselves can't be complimentary. However, even the most brilliantly complimentary set of powers won't help you much if the teammates are constantly in a state of conflict. Conversely, a good team will figure out a way to work around non-complimentary powers, and possibly turn them to their advantage.

I reiterate: it's all about personality.


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yanos
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But as has already been pointed out, personality problems lead to good conflict story lines with more depth than just good vs evil. I'm sure we can all think of professional teams in whatever sport who have had to deal with personality conflicts. It seems in these sort of areas, the more skill they have the more personality conflicts there are.

I think X-men is a good example of this. There are a number of strong conflicts going on within the group, but when the bottom line is drawn they will fight together and not against each other. I think having no personality conflicts would be unrealistic.


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Robyn_Hood
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Did you watch the latest season of The Apprentice? Or insert favourite "reality" gameshow. They are all based on group interactions and team work. The conflict is what makes any of it worth watching (and even then...)

Yanos is right, "X-men" is a great example.

Also consider "Ender's Game". The team manipulations and conflict made it one of the more interesting books I've ever read.


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Survivor
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I think that we're getting sidetracked here. Yes, it is more dramatic to endanger the team by having interpersonal conflict between the various members. That makes the team work better as a fictional device.

But the character assembling the team in the story doesn't care about throwing in extra drama. That character is just trying to get something done for purposes that are invented by the author but cannot take the author's concerns into consideration. The poor bastard is just trying to find some cheese.


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