inferiorwit: (pony)
In anticipation of there suddenly being way more Superman fic out there, I figured I’d put together a tip sheet for people who want to write about Clark doing journalism for a living. This is nowhere near an exhaustive guide, just a quick rundown of where I keep seeing writers slip up.

Source: two generations of my family worked in newspapers and I considered journalism as a career before Postmedia made it way less appealing. If anyone has any corrections or stuff they’d like to add, please do.

general stuff:
  • I fell down a research hole on the DC wiki and still can’t figure out what Clark’s major is. It’s not necessarily journalism. There’s no one degree that qualifies you to be a journalist.
    • when my dad was hiring for his papers, he usually preferred English majors over journalism majors, because “the English majors were better writers.” This is probably not empirically true.
  • Comics and movies usually portray Perry White as the autocratic overlord of The Daily Planet, making all the editorial decisions, responsible for hundreds of employees, yet only interacting with the same three or four all the time. In reality, a lot of what Perry White does in the comics gets delegated out to a small army of section editors and assignment editors and managing editors and look there’s a lot of editors, okay? The EIC is the boss of the whole operation, but he doesn’t spend the whole day bellowing orders from his office because if he did, he wouldn’t get anything else done.
  • Print newspapers get most of their revenue from ads. There can be significant pressure not to piss off the advertisers, especially these days.
  • Some newspapers have embraced the digital age. Some haven’t. Some use paywalls on their websites. Some don’t.
  • The most unbelievable thing in Man of Steel was that a newspaper in the year of our lord 2013 had that many employees and was hiring.
writing about writing
  • Some journalists are better at reporting than writing. Some are better at writing than reporting.
  • Your average news article is structured so that all the most important details are at the beginning of the story, with the least important details at the end. If fiction stories start with “it was a dark and stormy night” and end with “the butler did it,” then news stories start with “the butler did it” and end with “it was a dark and stormy night.”
  • News articles are supposed to be objective. Personal opinions are usually confined to editorials or columns.
  • Because news articles are supposed to be objective, they will usually strive for “balance.” If a story involves a controversial issue, the writer will often seek out contrasting opinions so the reader can see both sides of the issue and make up their own mind.
    • This can sometimes lead to “balance bias,” where the most seemingly benign statement in an article is contrasted with the ramblings of some yahoo for the sake of fairness.
  • Articles are usually quite short–less than 1000 words. Longer, more in-depth features happen either because the issue in question requires it, or because the feature is on a topic considered “timeless” and isn’t subject to the same kind of deadline pressure.
hip newspaper lingo
  • Art is a photo or diagram or whatever used to accompany a story. Pretty pictures used to catch the eye and illustrate the article.
  • A reporter’s beat is the subject that they usually cover, such as crime or politics. A reporter who’s an expert on a particular subject is a correspondent.
  • The big unwieldy newspapers are broadsheets. Small commuter papers are tabloids. Broadsheets are usually considered more prestigious and reliable than tabloids.
  • Copy is any written material. Copy editors edit copy, make sure there are no legal issues, write headlines, and figure out where to place a story in the newspaper’s layout.
  • Stories will sometimes be under embargo, where they can’t be published until after a certain date or time.
  • If an editor decides not to run a story, that story’s been killed or spiked.
  • The first paragraph of a news article, with all the important details, is called the lede. Deliberately or accidentally placing important details later in the story is called burying the lede.
  • Wire services (commonly shortened to “wire” or “the wire”) are syndication services that provide stories and art to various newspapers (and TV and radio stations) for a fee. Reuters, Associated Press, etc. If you’re a copy editor and you need filler or art or whatever, you grab it off the wire.
movies to watch:
  • All the President’s Men - pretty good look at the realities of investigative reporting (hint: there are a lot of tedious phone calls involved). The filmmakers were so dedicated to accuracy that they had the Washington Post’s garbage shipped in so they could put it in the movie set’s trash cans.
  • The Paper - 24 hours in the life of a New York tabloid. Michael Keaton’s in it. Great look at the day-to-day operation of a newsroom and the relationship between reporters, editors, and the editor-in-chief. Also it’s really goddamn funny.

inferiorwit: (socks)
I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m really sick of seeing writers who should know better say things like, “Tragedy is more compelling than stories where characters have a nice day and nothing bad happens!” without understanding why.
Tragedy is an effective story element when it’s a deviation from the norm. A character’s peaceful existence is disrupted by a catastrophic event that throws everything into chaos. The character now has to either develop so they can cope with the new status quo, or find a way to put things back the way they were. There’s a good story in that.
But when a character’s life is an unrelenting cavalcade of misery, another heaping dose of shit isn’t all that interesting. At that point, a compelling deviation from the norm would be said character having a nice day where nothing bad happens. And modern fiction is chock-full of misery porn, so by this logic, it’s no wonder the coffee shop AU is such a popular fanfiction trope.
Derek Hale getting a dog and putting his life back together is way more interesting than Derek Hale’s life getting worse for the 26th consecutive episode. Creators like to hold up “everything is fine and nobody dies” as a sign that fanfic is bland and badly written, but if anything, it’s an indicator that mainstream fiction is bland and badly written. 


Feb. 20th, 2015 06:44 pm
inferiorwit: (socks)
(crossposted from Tumblr)

I’m not sure why people say that Lord of the Rings lacks worth or is childish because it “isn’t dark enough.” It’s pretty fucking dark. It’s at least partially based on the Poetic Edda and Ragnarok. LotR is a story about the end of the world.

The childish elements are the elements of moral absolutism—that there are such things as absolute “good” and “evil”; that there are entire sentient species that are inherently evil and therefore morally acceptable to murder en masse—but LotR’s problem isn’t a lack of darkness.

Ultimately, though, Lord of the Rings is a story about how friendship, loyalty, and love have the power to overcome the evils of greed, selfishness, and fear, which is why a certain subset of people—most of them middle-class, with access to HBO—claim it’s inferior to, say, Game of Thrones.

Which reminds me that the best-selling DC superhero in the suburbs is Batman, while the best-selling DC superhero in inner-city neighborhoods is Superman.

If there’s a conclusion that can be drawn from this, I suppose it’s that adversity doesn’t breed cynicism; boredom does.
inferiorwit: (Default)
(Crossposted from Tumblr)

So this one time I was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum with some friends. And by that, I mean I was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum while my friends heckled me and yelled things like “Inverted takedown! DO AN INVERTED TAKEDOWN!"

At one point, I kicked a guy off a roof. He landed on a rail and folded in half. Backwards. One of my friends said, “Oh shit, you fucking killed that guy.”

I knew for a fact that I had not killed that guy, because I was playing a Batman game, and Batman doesn’t kill.

He did at first, back in 1939. He also wielded a couple of pistols, because he was largely “inspired” by The Shadow. After about two years, though, Batman had forsworn the guns and the killing and was more or less his own character.

Over the 70s and 80s, comics returned to their more violent roots, and Batman got more and more brutal. But by that point, Batman Shall Not Kill was law. Which led to the bizarre state of affairs we have now: Batman will fucking paralyze you, but he won’t kill you. Because of reasons.

Okay, so what does this have to do with Teen Wolf?

spoilers under the cut )


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