Writing What I Am Not by David Strom
Welcome to our guest columnist, David Strom. An author who puts funny into his superhero stories, as he shares with us “Writing What I Am Not.” Enjoy!
Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
I am a 60 year old man. I write superhero stories, Super Holly Hansson being my Superman. To make her easier to write, I made her like me: Swedish American, liberal, comic book geek, writer, short-temper (I control mine), and 25 years old (I was that once). But I’ve never been a woman. So I had women critique my stories, and I rewrote.
- Why are Holly and Bunni so busty? I poke fun at how superheroines are drawn. I rewrote so some super guys have mighty muscles, barrel chests, and six-pack armor abs.
- I like Holly’s beaky nose! I added that on a whim; I wanted Holly’s face fierce, not cute. Ladies liked that.
- A lady drew a smiley face next to Holly yelling, “I hate football!” I figured a woman might feel that. I guessed right.
- A woman doesn’t forget her first love. Holly flashbacked to her being a little girl and crushing on a Batman actor, then yelling to Wonder Woman, “He’s MY boyfriend!”
- Did you need Bunni using her two main assets to boobnotize those soldiers? I did go over the top. I’ll rewrite. And I’ll avoid the B-word: “boob.” It’s crude. A mind-controlling ditz like Bunni would say, “Tee hee! Lookit my boingy bouncies! Giggle!”
- Why are women’s supersuits skimpy? I did that. Once. I cut it. I’m tempted to do it again to superpowered muscle men.
I also wrote a story about Fred “Flex” Lexington: big, handsome, ray of sunshine, barbell boy, and gay superhero. I’m straight. A gay minister critiqued my story.
- At pride parades, there’s a big contingent of friendly churches marching to show their support. My religious people were homophobes. I added ally churches and rainbow yamakas.
- It felt like the opposite of homophobia was an irresistible same-sex attraction, instead of an acceptance of who they are. I stuck with my main villain being a closet case. His extreme homophobic hate must be rooted in something he can’t accept.
- A couple of times, Holly was beset with amorous lesbians who can’t keep their hands to themselves. An important part of any relationship, gay or straight, is consent. I rewrote: Holly now says to a formerly attacking, now tearful lesbian that “You can kiss me if it makes you feel better.” Dozens of tough lesbians (influenced by Flex’s broadcast of super-love) say, “We can? Yay!” Then they kiss-kiss-kissily swarm Holly like affectionate puppies. Consent and slapstick!
- He did not like the villain saying, “lesbians want to be men.” He knew people formerly living as women, now living as men. I cut that fumbling homophobic line. I was not thinking of transgenderism. I am now. In my superhero universe, superpowers make you more of what you already are. That begs for a story.
- The biker gang wears red, white, and blue; there’s nothing patriotic about homophobia. Flag waving did not add to my story. Cut!
- All the band members and police were men; his experience was they were half men, half women. In the San Francisco parade, nearly all the bikers were I added women cops and band members. My Bi-Biker Boys and Babes (my take on Dykes on Bikes) stayed half and half.
To write women and gays, I asked them for feedback. They’d see what I did not. Later I’ll likely ask cops, kids, African Americans, artists, transgenders, and anyone else I am not. As Randall Graves said in the movie Clerks about a hermaphroditic porn video, “Hey, I like to expand my horizons.”
Dave M. Strom is a technical writer who has written about superheroine Holly Hansson since the novel The DaVinci Code. He puts funny into his superhero stories and has women clobber the bad guys. Dave reads comic books, watches cool cartoons, and occasionally performs at open mics.
Website and blog: https://davemstrom.wordpress.com