The Amazon cover for the book features the green classic monster, not as described in the book.
Fall is spooky season and one of the main Halloween monsters is of course Frankenstein's monster, sometimes called Adam. Since it is a foundational text to scifi--the very first scifi, in fact--I decided to read the original Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Rather than review it, I decided to write about what I learned about writing irom this classic novel (or really a novella, it was about 110 pages).
1) Don't be afraid of a unique story structure
Frankenstein is actually a letter written by a sea captain to his sister about meeting Dr. Frankenstein and that man's story. So the meat of the book is "story within a story" since you know in the end things will circle back to that boat captain. At one point, the story becomes the monster's story being told to Dr. Frankenstein being told to the captain. Like Russian nesting dolls. However, this complicated structure was made very clear and even acted as foreshadowing of excitement when the start of Dr. Frankenstein's tale got a little dry.
2) Don't overdo the backstory
While it may have been the style of the time, modern readers now don't need Dr. Frankenstein's life story to begin with his parents meeting. When I saw that was how the story began, I was dreading the rest. It didn't get interesting until Dr. Frankenstein left for college. So while it's good to read classics, keep in mind how very different the market is today, and don't accidentally pick up on very out of date style choices.
3) Build sympathy by showing what your characters wants most
We were all a little afraid of Frankenstein's monster after his first kill, naturally, because he's not on the page much to defend himself. However, he makes it clear exactly what he wants: a lover. He is so intensely lonely and in need of contact that after he explains it, you can't avoid sympathy. There is even some sympathy for Dr. Frankenstein when he just wants to protect others. Get your readers to choose sides by showing a deep want and explaining why--and why they can't have it (yet).
4) Keep up with the latest innovations
Mary Shelley was inspired by Galvanism and advances with electricity. If she'd only stayed aware of what was going on in the literary world, she wouldn't have run into the concepts that allowed her to conceive of Frankenstein. When looking for inspiration, look at innovations in fields that excite you: space, medicine, engineering, environmental science, oceanography, etc. Even keeping up with new historical finds in archaeology or anthropology, if you're more of a history/fantasy writer. You never know when you'll run into something that will inspire, so get out of your typical bubble.
Those are my big takeaways from Frankenstein for writers. I will admit I was very surprised that a lot of classic Frankenstein tropes weren't in the original book--no castle, no Igor, no villagers with pitchforks and torches. He literally made his monster in his dorm room. (Try explaining that mess to your R.A.) I think he was even described as yellow, not green. So the Hollywood-ization of Frankenstein has clearly overshadowed the original for my entire experience. Kind of wild!
Have you read Frankenstein? What were your writing (or reading) takeaways? What are some of your spooky season favorites? Let's discuss in the comments!
Clue as a dragon. Photo by Kate Ota 2023
Putting the Fact in Fantasy is a collection of essays by subject matter experts about various topics that are often portrayed poorly in fantasy books, movies, and TV. The collection was edited by Dan Koboldt. I came across this book in an Indie bookstore and thought it would probably be helpful for my adult fantasy WIP.
The fifty essays cover topics such as history as inspiration (female professions in medieval Europe, feudal nobility), languages and culture (realistic translation, developing a culture), worldbuilding (magic academies, money, political systems), weapons (archery, soldiers, martial arts), horses (so many horses), and adventure (hiking, castles and ruins). Pretty large variety! Most entries are less than ten pages, and the entire book is only 332 in paperback.
There is a large skew toward European information, but some sections specifically call out non-Western information, like the feudal nobility section which included Middle Eastern titles. Very few sections are focused solely on non-Western information. Most of the historical info is also medieval or even Renaissance, with very little historical focus on more recent time periods. Some essays in the worldbuilding section are less about time period and more about making you think more deeply about your world, which was very helpful. I marked many sections I want to return to, including one about plants. I will say, the horse section went on a bit too long.
Is It Worth It?
I paid $20 at an indie bookstore for a paperback copy. The ebook is slightly cheaper ($14.99) but if you want to highlight or bookmark sections that you want to think about later, a physical copy is a good investment.
This book could be worth it if you're writing a historical fantasy or secondary world fantasy. If you're writing urban fantasy, magical realism, or contemporary fantasy, this book will not be as valuable to you. (Unless you're writing about horses and know nothing about horses.) This book may also be useful for other writers who are writing secondary worlds, since the worldbuilding section is pretty flexible. Bonus, there's also a section about Westerns!
Overall, it was worth the price to me.
Have you read Putting the Fact in Fantasy? What about the other anthology edited by Dan Koboldt, Putting the Science in Fiction? Let's discuss in the comments!
Tower of Babel, cat tower, same thing, right? Photo by Kate Ota 2023
The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language by John McWhorter was published in the very early 2000s and discusses how languages arise, evolve, split, and go extinct. Why am I writing this as an "Is It Worth It" and not a book review? Well, I realized early in the book that if I was going to create a fantasy or scifi language, this book included a lot of information about how to make a fake language feel real and not just some made up words in an English grammar scheme.
This book covers a lot of ground in 303 pages, including discussing different grammatical boxes in which languages can be categorized and how languages tend to morph words (because there are reliable patterns). A lot of space is also dedicated to discussing dialects and creole languages.
I enjoyed many of the interesting facts in the book, and learned so much about language in general that I'd never considered. In fact, one of the facts I read was tweeted by Merriam Webster while I was reading. What are the odds? However, it was a little dry and spent a long time explaining things. There were also a lot of Bill Clinton jokes.
Is It Worth It?
I got this paperback book from an indie bookstore for $17.99. If I was trying to build a language for a story, I think it would be a huge resource to get started with the basic concepts of how the language would operate. However, if you're just a linguistics nerd, or someone who got excited by the etymology in R.F. Kuang's Babel, then this is probably not the book you are hoping it is.
Have you ever tried to create a language for a project? What sources did you find helpful? Let's discuss in the comments!
I couldn't get the pencil to sit behind Wilbur's ear, but otherwise, it's a pretty close re-creation! Photo by Kate Ota 2023.
Story Genius: How to us Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron is one of those writing books that I constantly hear about. After my lackluster experience with the similarly lauded Bird by Bird, I worried this would also be a stinker. However, I had an hour to kill at a Barnes and Noble, and when I spotted Story Genius, my curiosity outweighed my hesitance.
Story Genius breaks its advice into a couple sections, but in general it gives instructions on how to plot from idea through first draft. The main focus is to create a story that has a cohesive character arc and an external plot that specifically drives that arc. It also includes how this approach appeals to the brain so well. There are templates and spots where the book instructs the reader to stop and do an exercise that builds toward having a draft.
I highlighted so much of this book. From the advice on point of view to the tips and tricks for each stage of brainstorming and outlining. This book really appealed to how I usually plot anyway, but added ideas to make that even better. I can't wait to try this method, not just with a fresh story but use it on my current WIP to make sure my external and internal plots mesh well.
Is It Worth It?
I bought a paperback for $14.99, but if e-book is your thing it can be yours for $9.99.
Honestly, this book is precisely for the type of writer that I am. I wish I'd bought it sooner, because I think I'll incorporate its method into every project from now on. I think this book is 100% worth the price!
Have you read Story Genius? Have you used the method? What did you think? Let's discuss in the comments.
The annual contest Revise and Resub (aka RevPit) is starting up and the window to enter is coming this week. I'm entering for the second time (first for this novel). One of my problems is that I'm pretty shy on twitter, so I haven't been interacting with the editors much. The other problem is that I usually only see threads many hours after they started and feel weird hopping on. So I thought I'd make a post with some ~vibes~ of my manuscript so if any RevPit editors check out my website, they may see this and get more of a sense of my novel without me having to manage the anxiety of Twitter interactions.
Title: The New Neanderthals
Genre: Adult sci-fi
Cinnamon roll love interest
Fish out of water
Songs that capture a moment/emotion:
Human by Christina Perri
Start a War by Klergy & Valerie Broussard
Confident by Demi Lovato
Look What You Made Me Do by Taylor Swift
You Don't Own Me by Grace
Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Photos from Unsplash
If you're not doing RevPit and/or aren't a RevPit editor, then come back next week when I will have more of my usual content!
If you are doing RevPit, let's discuss in the comments! Have you done it before? Have you been braver on Twitter than I have?
Recently while querying, I've noticed more agents asking for optional things like links to mood boards, playlists, or Pinterest boards. There's even a whole pitch event on Twitter around mood boards. I thought I'd take some time to help anyone struggling to figure out what mood boards are in relation to writing projects and a couple (free!) resources to make them.
What is a mood board?
A mood board is a collage of images, which can include minimal punchy text, which conveys the mood (or as the youths say the vibes) of your story. This includes setting, tone, a sense of character(s), genre, and important visual elements/motifs. If including a quote, it should be short and encapsulate the theme of the novel. A mood board can be a Pinterest page, or you can arrange images into a collage that's a single JPEG using free sites like Canva.
Why make a mood board?
A mood board is good for more than just pitching on Twitter or sending to the rare agent who asks for it in their Query Manager form. The mood board can help you as the author get back into your story between writing sessions. The process of creating one also forces you to think about the important elements, characters, and places in your story. If you've never thought about tone or theme, it may even bring one out of your subconscious.
Where do images come from?
If you're making a mood board for just you, and never plan to use it for marketing (or perhaps even pitching) then don't worry too much about copy written images you find on google. Go ham. If you plan to use it for any type of marketing (or pitching) it's safer for you to stick to royalty free images. I like using Unspalsh, but there are other options as well.
If building your board in Pinterest, obviously you're only able to use that. The board then stays on Pinterest, which can be fine if using it only for yourself, but tough if your goal is to build one for a pitching event.
You can layer text over an image in an editing site like Canva to create a background to match your chosen quote.
It may be a struggle to find exactly what you're using for, so change up search terms and feel free to get creative in finding the right matches for your project. Collect more images than you plan to use, then select your final choices later.
How do I make them a collage?
If building a collage, you can use a free site like Canva. Choose a template that puts 5-9 images of various sizes together. Choose your template wisely, since it may dictate portrait vs landscape oriented images.
If you're not a fan of online graphic design options, there's always good old fashioned Microsoft Paint.
What are some tips and tricks?
One major trick to a mood board is keeping your eye on color. You don't want a ton of competition, and you want it to look cohesive, suggesting your story is cohesive. Choose no more then 3 main colors to include. Ideally, you'll have some muted tones and one that pops. The exception is if color is a huge part of your story, for example if it takes place during Holi, or if color is associated with specific nations (like Avatar: The Last Airbender.)
Another tip is to focus one the main character(s) or setting, don't try to include every subplot, side character, or place. You want someone to walk away from your board with a general impression of your story with minimal words. Confusion is killer.
Don't focus on finding perfect matches in the photos. You'll never find just the right stock model or angle or city for your fictional characters/world. Instead, go for the emotional impact of the image.
Have fun with it! Even if using it for a pitch event or in case an agent asks for one, the mood board's main audience is you.
Example Mood Board
Let's do an example for something everyone is familiar with: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (aka the original). I searched for images as if Star Wars doesn't already exist, so no cheating by searching for droids, stormtroopers, etc. Let's pretend this is a whole new concept and none of those are options so that you SFFH writers know how to get the concept of your vivid fictional creations across without having to do visual effects yourself. (Or you can commission an artist.)
Some stock images I searched for were: space, desert, red laser, hair buns, moon, explosion, black hallway, robotics, fighter plane. Many more terms generated nothing useful including glowstick, duel, robe, telekinesis, epic, hope, and hero.
Here's what I collected:
You can see there's a lot of red, blue, black, and white. Since the blues are pretty soft, I can get away with using all four colors if red is the one that pops. I wanted to make sure it's clear Star Wars is SciFi, so I kept the robot and stars, and lost the fighter plane. I kept the explosion to show action, and the guy looking up at the moon to show Luke's desire to go on an adventure--that's a mood right there. Either the hallway or the moon would be good to put a quote over, but I felt the moon a little more. I cut Leia's hair buns, because while accurate to the story, they didn't fit the adventure vibes of the other images. The red Star sign glows like a lightsaber, but it didn't get across the idea of a lightsaber, and the word star might be too on the nose. So it didn't make my final cut either.
I went to Canva and searched for collage templates. I chose one that had 7 images, uploaded my images, and arranged them. I decided to place my two red images in opposite corners, for balance. I also searched for iconic quotes from Episode IV, and chose "That's no moon..." because it had an ominous, dangerous, and clearly SciFi feel. The other images ended up where they did purely based on orientation that the template dictated, and I'm okay with that. Last, I changed the background to black, because it looked better to me. Your mood board is all about your taste, so follow your gut.
Here's my example mood board:
Does it convey Star Wars: A New Hope perfectly? No. It's missing a ton of characters, events, and technology. Does it capture the idea of a SciFi story about a guy wanting and then having an adventure, which includes some twists? I think so.
Obviously, this isn't something I was deeply invested in making perfect, so when I make one for my own stories, they tend to have a little more nuance/insight to them. However, I hope you found this mood board tutorial helpful or inspirational and maybe you're tempted to go make one for your own project.
Have you made a mood board for your writing? Was it helpful, or was it a major challenge? Do you have more resources for other writers making their own boards? Let's discuss in the comments!
I have committed one of the common sins of a book club: I didn’t finish (DNF) the book. However, rather than forgetting to or being too busy, I purposefully set the book down and said no more of that. The reason is both complex and simple. The simple way of putting it: the book sucked. But no one comes to this blog to hear me say that and move on. I learn nothing from disliking a book. However, we can all learn from WHY I disliked a book.
I’ll start by saying that this book had an uphill climb from go. The book club is for Diversity and Inclusion at work, and the books are supposed to help us see from more perspectives than just our own. The author of the book in question is 1. a white straight man, which is not the point of diversity and inclusion book club, 2. an author this group has read before (in fact, the book immediately before this choice), and 3. a man who wrote from a Mexican-American gay man’s perspective and several Native perspectives in these two books—none of which overlap with his perspective (yes I checked thoroughly). And no, it wasn’t just that the characters happened to be from those marginalized groups, both books were about that marginalization in a major way. So yeah, this book was going to have to be amazing for me to get very far.
Lesson: if your book is about how being marginalized impacts the main POV character(s), then you should be part of that marginalized group.
Now let’s take a look at the writing. It was over 400 pages. The first 115 pages were in one time period following quite a few characters. So many in fact that I mixed them up. There was also head hopping. And no, it wasn’t supposed to be an omniscient POV. So I was already struggling, and at the ¼ mark was lost as to the main character and their want. And then there was a 100+ year time jump. Jesus, okay, all new characters. Barely had a handle on that then boom, back to 100+ years ago. I remembered so few of the characters that at this point I gave up hope.
Lesson: having too many characters is confusing.
Lesson: A random time jump that then begins a back-and-forth pattern in following those two time periods has to be earlier or it throws off readers.
Lesson: Head hopping will only add to any confusion already present; if you’re going omniscient go all the way or it will be a mess.
Let’s not ignore the racist stereotypes/word choices throughout the novel. I actually cringed when, in a Native woman’s POV, the author wrote about how she viewed her community. I don’t think anyone would have used those words to describe themselves. Yikes.
Lesson: If you’re not sure if what you just wrote is racist, imagine a stranger describing YOU that way. Also, pay an authenticity reader. And also, see Lesson 1.
By about page 150, I closed the book and didn’t open it again. So glad I rented it from my local library and didn’t give the author any of my money for the displeasure of slogging through part of the novel. And no, by page 150 it still didn’t demonstrate what any of the characters actually wanted, and so I consider it to have no plot.
Lesson: unless you're writing literary fiction, your book needs to show who your main character is (or are) and what they want (even if that changes!) as early as possible.
Have you ever failed to finish a book club book? Did you admit it at the meeting or pretend you'd finished? Let's discuss in the comments!
As the year draws to a close, I thought I’d go back through my e-reader and see how much I’ve read. I know my reading took off in July with the start of my new commute (all public transit, reading was safe). This doesn’t count the five unpublished novels I beta read and the countless sections of bigger works I read for my writing groups.
For the Podcast:
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Historical Fiction
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal Science Fiction (Alt-History)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena Garcia Horror (Gothic/Historical)
Outlawed by Anna North Western (Alt-History)
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult Contemporary (Legal Procedural)
Writing Craft Related:
Take of Your Pants by Libbie Hawker
Deep POV by Marcy Kennedy (My Review)
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby (My Review)
The Rural Setting Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (My review)
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (My review)
For Fun: (age category is adult unless otherwise stated)
Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare YA Fantasy (Historical)
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare YA Fantasy (Historical)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown Non-Fiction (Historical)
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal Science Fiction (Alt-History)
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal Science Fiction (Alt-History) (my review of the series)
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir Science Fiction (Near-Future/Space) (my review)
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood Contemporary Rom-Com (my review)
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin Secondary-World Fantasy
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin Secondary-World Fantasy
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin Secondary-World Fantasy (my review of the series)
The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron Contemporary/Historical Fiction (my review)
Speak the Ocean by Rebecca Enzor Contemporary Fantasy (my review)
The Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty Secondary-World Fantasy (my review of the series)
The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Lee Secondary-World Fantasy (IP) (my review)
The Shadow of Kyoshi by F.C. Lee Secondary World Fantasy (IP)
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno Garcia Historical Fantasy (Mythology)
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab Contemporary/Historical Fantasy
The Impossible Contract by K.A. Doore Secondary-World Fantasy
Domesticating Dragons by Dan Kobolt Science Fiction (Near-Future/Biopunk)
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett Historical Fiction
Dismal Dreams by Red Lagoe Horror Anthology
I have one more I'm hoping to read over the holidays:
Runaway by Emmett J Hall Historical Fiction
Anything I read sound interesting to you? Check them out at your local library, indie bookstore, or wherever you get your books. I have reviews up for many, but not all, so this post helped me realize I have a ton more books I can talk about!
What did you read this year that you loved? Let's discuss in the comments!
Wilbur and The Fifth Season (book 1) (left), Wilbur and The Obelisk Gate (book 2) (top right), Clue and The Stone Sky (book 3) (bottom right) photos by Kate Ota 2021
I recently finished The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin which consists of The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and the Stone Sky. They came out in 2015, ’16, and ’17 respectively. It’s an adult series that is either fantasy or science fantasy, depending on how you look at it.
The series takes place in a world called the Stillness. It’s debatable if this is a crazy far future earth or an alternative, similar planet. The main character is Essun, an orogene. Orogenes are kind of like Earth benders from Avatar: The Last Airbender, but with a few more specifics happening. Orogene work requires energy, so such a person could freeze those around them or steal that energy from, say, an earthquake. They are also highly disliked (ie murdered in public) by the rest of the world, but they come in handy when a Season comes. A Season is when there’s basically an apocalyptic level event such as powerful earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The plot begins when Essun returns home from work one day to find her orogene son murdered by her (non-orogene) husband, and both her husband and orogrene daughter have disappeared. Then, a Season begins. Her goal is to find her daughter before her husband hurts the innocent girl, but that’s a hell of a task at the end of the world.
There’s so much to love about this series, and obviously many people agree. Each book in the series won the Hugo Award (one of the biggest awards in SFF) for Best Book—she’s the first author to ever do that three-peat (in row!) with a series. The Stone Sky also won the Locus and Nebula awards, and both of the first two books in the series were nominated for those awards as well.
Going into this series, my expectations were sky high. And you know what? I struggled to get into it. Chapter one was an info dump. One POV was second person (which I really hate). I wasn’t sure I was going to like this series that everyone gushed about. Lucky for me, I have a lengthy, boring commute so I kept reading. It took about halfway through The Fifth Season (book 1) for me to really get in the groove of the story. After that, I bought the second and third book and devoured the series.
I recommend this series to adults who grew up loving Avatar: The Last Airbender, fans of magic that’s on the harder side (ie it’s explained and has some logic vs soft, which is very mysterious), and readers who want a (badass) mother as the MC. It is also great for writers looking for an example of deep world building. It’s not for anyone who doesn’t like high fantasy or cannot handle info dumps ever. If you can press through the first chapter and have faith, you’ll be fine. It may also not be for anyone who may have painful memories triggered by violent child loss, child abuse, or gaslighting.
Have you read this series too? What other books/series by N.K. Jemisin do you recommend? Have you tried her Master Class? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Masks, but not those masks, are a staple of secret identities. (Photo from Unsplash by Julio Rionaldo)
It’s been a while since my last trope discussion, so I thought it was time for another! This week I researched a super popular trope, secret identities. Get it? Super. Like super heroes.
Where Did This Start?
I started by reading about secret identities on TV Tropes. There are about thirty-two related tropes, including someone falling in love with the hero identity, or loving the hero and hating the secret identity (or vice versa), and more. So many tropes that the original idea of secret identities must be incredibly old.
Indeed, it is. You can see secret identities in fairy tales, like Cinderella (at the ball, though in most versions this identity doesn't get a name) and Beauty and the Beast (the secretly beautiful witch who turns the prince into a beast), and Mulan (in the army). TV Tropes cited a medieval Scottish story, Roswall and Lillian, as an example in which a steward steals Prince Roswall’s identity and plans to marry Princess Lillian. Roswall, of course, succeeds in getting the Princess in the end when his secret identity (which is his original one: a prince) is revealed. Even in Greek myths, gods would hide their identities and interact with humans. Technically speaking, secret or hidden identities are such an old concept in storytelling that we can’t quite pinpoint a true origin.
What about a secret identity for unsanctioned acts of heroism? That’s more specific. One could argue Robin Hood was almost there, but since it was clear to everyone involved that he was Robin of Loxley, his identity doesn’t qualify as secret. Let’s look at some others:
Superman (aka Clark Kent) made his first appearance in a short story, The Reign of Superman, in 1933, published in a science fiction magazine. Most people know him better from his second appearance, which was in 1938 in Action Comics #1 from DC Comics.
Zorro (aka Diego Vega) made his first appearance in 1919 in a series of magazine instalments later brought together as the novel The Curse of Capistrano by Johnston McCulley. Zorro got his first movie in 1920 (a silent one, but it still counts!)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (aka Sir Percy Blakeney) appeared in a play named for the hero in 1903 (and novel in 1905) by Baroness Emma Orczy. The Scarlet Pimpernel saved aristocrats from being beheaded by mobs after the French Revolution made that seem pretty fashionable. His public persona is a rich, stylish, but seemingly useless man that no one would suspect of being a swordsman. Is saving rich people terribly heroic? I suppose it would be to the rich people. At least the concept is right for my purposes here.
At 1903, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first clear example of a character consistently using a secret identity to perform acts that are heroic. I was surprised to learn this secret hero genre was pretty much solidified in the literary world by a woman author. Hats off to the Baroness!
Why Have Secret Identities?
After that deep dive, I asked myself why did these characters hide their identities? Modern heroes do it to avoid their enemies and/or protect their loved ones. Older heroes did this as well, though there was often an air of vigilantism to those stories, where the secret identity would suffer legal consequences if they were found out. Other, less vigilante-focused instances of secret identities also protected characters from social consequences (Cinderella, Mulan) or allowed more freedom (Mulan, Zeus). Still others weren’t the character’s choice (Roswall). Plenty of character motivations available to meld or co-opt for your own story.
Should Your Characters Have Secret Identities?
It’s all dependent on your plot with this one. A super hero book may obviously require a clear secret identity to be effective. However, going undercover in a crime novel, using a fake ID in a contemporary novel, or masquerading a monster as human in a horror could all also qualify as secret identities. The most important thing is to be sure your reader can follow with what’s going on. If you don’t clearly connect identity 1 to identity 2, your reader may not know who’s behind the metaphorical (or real) mask and get completely lost. While a TV or movie has the actor, or at least their voice, to help guide the audience, you have to be more deliberate. One trick is to ensure you don’t introduce an entire team at once, but build it slowly to allow the reader to remember who is who.
That’s it for this trope discussion. Who is your favorite hero with a secret identity? Have you written any secret or false identities in your work? Let’s discuss in the comments!
Here are some sources for more reading on this topic:
TV Tropes article about Secret Identities
Wikipedia article summarizing The Scarlet Pimpernel
Wikipedia article summarizing Zorro
Wikipedia article about Action Comics #1
More about Baroness Emma Orczy