Creative thinking for a comic book script, pt.III

I have thought about the story in the broadest sense possible. I have seen the whole of the moon under faint, faint brushworks. I have pictured a scene or two in my mind and I have sort of dreamed up the general plotline for a 3-act storyline.
It’s time, then, to bring it down to the specifics, beginning with the main character himself:

For starters:
I want to tell a story; I want to write a story and I want to do it in comic book-script format. Full script.

Right. What do you want to write about?
I want to write about, oddly enough, love.

Wait. Love?! Wasn’t it supposed to be a superhero story?!
It’s still a superhero story, in a sense; it’s actually a love story disguised as a superhero story. The superhero thing is more like a pretext… or rather, a vehicle through which the love story is to be conveyed to the reader.
And as far as superheroes stories go, this one should be mostly unusual anyway.

So why love?
Why not? Love’s the bottom-line for everyone. For anyone. Love-based stories are the best stories ever.
If you really think about it, that’s like our compass to life. Besides, there’s this big difference between teenage romance and love, anyhow.

So it’s not a boy-meets-girl, falls-in-love story?
Oh no, because life itself hardly follows that path. I mean, conceptually speaking that’s how it should go for everybody, indeed, only that’s not the way it happens in real life.
In real life it’s more like, boy-meets-girl, then-screws-up, and then life-gets-in-the-way. We’re following that road for this one as well.

Okay, but let’s focus on the subject instead: so what is this love/superhero story about anyway, I mean protagonist-wise?
It’s about this guy who’s either getting his act together, or has just gotten his act together, and is now a little unsure what do with his life.

Too broad.
It’s Montgomery Peer, previously a kid-superhero called the Centurion, now a few years into retirement from his alter-ego. He’s been leading a regular life with a regular job for a few years now. He’s in his late-20s.
He’s been through this bad bit in life, which was not wholly related to superheroics per se but prompted him to quit in the first place anyway, and now it’s gotten better.
Well, not really “better” but things have been de-worse-ning for the last year for lack of a better word.

Still too broad. Let’s nail it down, step-by-step. Baby steps. Go slow.
Point taken.
So things have gotten better for him, for the character, slightly, and now he wants to check back on his old friends.

…Because well, he’ll tell himself that it’s because he’s feeling better all of a sudden, and wants to check in on his friends from long ago, not really to return per se but to see that everyone’s alive and so that everyone will see he’s alive as well.
The “old friends” routine.

But that’s not all, is it?
See, the thing with this guy is that, now that things have gotten better for him (albeit slightly) he thinks he can make a difference.
He will not get back to being a kid-superhero, first of all because he’s not a kid anymore, and also because he has more down-to-earth priorities in life. Still, he has this secret feeling inside him that all it takes is a couple of days and he can make all the difference, he can make everything right, he can save not the world per se but the people in it.
He harbors a secret and he’ll never admit it to himself: He feels that, deep down, the world’s still a mess because nobody’s really tried hard enough, because he’s the only guy capable of trying hard enough, and succeeding.

Whoa. Some nerve there. That’s not a very noble feeling, is it?
Well, isn’t it?
Exactly the point, and he’s not really a very noble person himself.

So he’s flawed.
Yes, but not as in Peter Parker-flawed, but more like in me and you-flawed. He’s a regular guy and regular guys aren’t supposed to be change the world.

But that’s a paradox, isn’t it? You’re talking about a guy who secretly thinks he should come back for two days to save the world because nobody else has been capable of, and yet he feels that normal people, such as he is, shouldn’t try to save the world…?
Well, yeah. Ahh. You got me there.

Unless there’s some guilt involved.

How so?
He somehow blames himself for everybody else not being able to save the world, because he’s quit in the first place.

…And since he’s quit because of personal reasons…
…He feels he’s one hell of a hypocrite and an egotist, exactly!

So he’s looking for redemption?
Not in the pious sense of the word, but yeah, on a strictly personal level. He doesn’t want a guilty conscience.

That’s why he’s not wearing his superhero costume for this story, right?
Right, because he’s not the Centurion anymore, and that’s also why he’s not calling himself the Centurion.

So he’s just called “Montgomery Peer”?
Yeah, kind of.
It’s not like he’s been interviewed on TV nor anything. He’s just visiting a few friends, and they’ll call him Centurion at first, though he’ll promptly tell anyone to call him by his name, to call him Peer.

Sounds good so far, but what about love? How does that fit in the story?
That’s a bit too much into the plot, which should be discussed in a future post.
But for now, mind you, you got the main character- a man- and you also got two important supporting characters, both women… and I don’t mean it’s a love-triangle, just that you got this… interaction thing… going on between each of them and…
No, hey. The love-thing’s got to do with the plot; of course I do have a few very specific ideas right now, basically how the main theme (love) should fit into the story, but that theme should have a stronger relation to the plot itself than anything else- else it’s all too abstract- and if we start talking about the plot we’ll take this conversation through a different path.

Right, let’s avoid the digressions for now. Back to Peer, then: What about his superpowers?
It’s a bit of a gray area.
It’s not like he’s not using them; he is. But it’s mostly for going to point A to point B, basically that kind of stuff. Transportation. I mean, it’s not like he’s walking around leveling apartment buildings nor anything.

But he (still) could if he wanted, right?
Up to a point.
I don’t think we’re going too deep into that. Peer’s exact power levels aren’t really important to the story.

So we can expect a plot with zero action?
No way!
It is a superhero story after all, when all’s said and done. It’s just not a conventional superhero story.
One of the problems raised by his return is that not everybody is actually happy with it. I mean, people have had to fill up the vacuum left by his absence, and there’s some of them whom have gone into international politics, the U.N., that kind of stuff. Everybody’s grown up a bit, not just the main character. So whenever Peer’s back- and we’re talking about a guy that as a kid could indeed blast apartment buildings to dust, could travel through time, etc- Some of those guys are actually a little worried when an once-omnipotent being walks back in the world, especially because now that Peer’s (also) older he’s not confined to his own adolescent power-fantasies anymore.

Wait. Now you lost me a bit…
No, see: It’s just that, since we are talking about a guy who’s more liable now to pay attention to real-world problems instead of sticking to the old jail-the-supervillain routine…

Apropos of that, you have mentioned the Middle East situation in a previous post. Is that what’s the whole thing is about, then?
By all means… NO!.
It’s still a story about people, it’s still a story about this guy checking back on the world and sort of wandering around, wondering… trying to make sure “it” wasn’t his fault- and that “it” sure has got a vague meaning in there.
The Mid-East thing was just a specific shot I had in mind because I thought would look cool. Whether it’s really going to make into the final draft of the story’s another business, for another day.

I see. But you started out this post aiming at specifying things a bit and it’s still too vague.
It is, but now we have a better grasp at the character himself- if not of the story’s per se then about his motivation and that’s just as important if not more, because it’s the people that give shape to the stories.
I have a general idea of the main character now, and once we start throwing in the bits about the secondary characters and general plot, we’ll know exactly how the character will behave given those very settings, and thus we’ll be given a notion of the progress of the plotline itself within any given specific timeframe, say those two days (the story happens within a weekend, remember).

…You mean the character giving shape to the plot…
That’s the idea.
The plot, whatever it is, should flow naturally from & around the characters (plural), and not the other way around.

So your next step is planning the plot per se?
I’ll just give it some time, let my mind wander, I should have a bright idea or three in the meantime, start gathering up all those cool scenes and shots popping in into my mind, then I’ll just cram them up in one big cake and order them chronologically.
And that cake’s the plot. Add the character to that plot- modifying that plot through their actions and general behavior, that is- and there you have the outline for our story.

I think it’s going to work.
Hey, thanks!
Yeah me too.

NEXT: Plotting, actually.