Nightin-what? On Creating a Universe

So now that the cat is out of the bag, I’m sure you’re wondering what Nightingale is about. After all, “superhero novel” is a rather nebulous moniker.

(Note to self, create villain named “Nebulous Moniker” for next story.)

And I’ll get there; but first I wanted to tell you a bit about where the whole League universe got its bones, so to speak.

A few years back, there was a great anthology of superhero short stories called Masked who’s last short story was penned by Bill Willingham of Fables fame (which is possibly one of the most thoroughly fleshed out ruminations on fairy tale characters ever…but I digress from my digression). “A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)” blew my mind with how quickly it was able to sketch a superhero’s entire history, an entire universe, with just a few paragraphs. It stuck with me so much that I started looking closer at my megabytes of Evernote character sketches and started playing “connect the dots.”

And it’s a funny thing with me, once I start asking myself “Why does that work like that?” I pretty much can’t stop until I’ve chased the trail all the way to its conclusion. Before I knew it, I had a pantheon of heroes and some basic rules with how their universe worked.

But Nightingale wasn’t my hero, not by a long shot.

She was a half-created sketch that constituted all of two lines, enough to give her a power set and a disposition. She was the support for the “main” hero of my story, a speedster who was forcing himself to run a marathon without powers.

The more I wrote of her, however, the more I realized that I wasn’t doing her justice. She had more story to tell if I just would stop paying attention to the other guy.

So I did.

And before I knew it, Johnny Dodge, my speedster, had been relegated to the background and I had page upon page about Nightingale’s family history, neuroses, and deep dark fears. And I also knew that being a player in Johnny’s story wasn’t going to be enough for her. She wanted to be the a hero. She wanted to be a star.

And that’s where we start.

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