Learning, Assemble! What the Avengers Can Teach Us About Our Writing
I’m pretty damn excited. The Avengers movie hits theaters this week and as a glorified comic book geek, this is the ultimate movie I’ve been waiting for since childhood.
I honestly contemplated playing hooky (and doing the same for my kids) to spend an entire day at the theater watching the Mighty Marvel Movie Marathon! But my parental instincts kicked in and sanity prevailed… okay, fine. My wife put her foot down.
The Avengers, also known as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, aren’t just a massively powered superteam. They’re also not just part of this summer’s biggest blockbuster to be. They’re actually a group of very specific individuals who bring something extra special to the table. And by taking a closer look at what makes each one tick, writers can actually learn a thing or three. So let’s meet the roster and see how the Avengers can help you improve your writing.
He may just be a guy in a suit of armor, but that guy (a.k.a. Tony Stark) happens to be an incredibly brilliant and rich guy. Everything he builds is cutting edge, super slick and mega powerful. If Stark Industries existed in our world, it’d make Apple look like Vtech. What does that have to do with your writing? Everything.
These days, readers have the attention span of maybe half a fruit fly. Everyone’s plugged in, with their nose buried in a smartphone or iPad or what have you. If you’re still writing like you’re ready to crank up the printing press, you’re probably losing your audience rather quickly.
Keep your writing hip, current and cutting edge. Like technology, your writing voice and style should eternally be evolving. Embrace that change and do your best to keep up with the rest of the world.
Tony’s also an incredibly cocky man, but he has the brains and willpower to prove his points. Be sure to bring that to your writing too. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, and loudly. Just be sure you have the words to back it all up.
A patriot to the core, Steve Rogers is the living personification of an apple pie wrapped in an American Flag. (Insert your own American Pie joke here.) He’s the guy who will right any wrong, no matter how small. He has zero tolerance for bullies and is a firm believer in the fact that “one man can make a difference.” A natural leader, Captain America’s a take-charge kind of guy who speaks with authority and holds the Avengers team together.
When you put a piece together, always speak with authority. Don’t be wishy washy in how you present your facts or opinions, stand by them. If you’ve become an expert on a specific topic, write about it and let everyone know. Just believe in yourself and what you’re saying and you’ll quickly start playing a lead role in your industry.
I think my wife loved the Thor movie more than I did, and it probably had something to do with Chris Hemsworth walking around half the time without his shirt on. I swear I could see little stars floating around my wife’s eyes as she batted her eyelashes at the screen and sighed. Anyways, besides having the power to make women weak in their knees, The Mighty Thor is the God of Thunder. He’s an incredibly tough fighter able to command the winds and rain lightning down on his enemies. In other words, don’t piss him off. But he learned a valuable lesson as a superhero: hubris.
One of the worst things a writer can do is ask for advice and then ignore it. Too often writers get too emotionally attached to their words. Ask someone what they think of your piece and while you do want honest opinions, if those opinions are pretty negative, you don’t want to hear them. A writer needs to have thick skin, especially when it comes to listening to your editors. No piece is perfect, so every time you hand something in, expect some changes to come back. And take a step back from the constructive criticism to really look at your work and see if the points are valid. Often times they are, and in the end, any changes you begrudgingly make will only strengthen the article, and continue to improve your writing skills.
He’s big, he’s loud and he’s incredibly strong. He’s also often misunderstood, just like most teenagers. A comic book version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Incredible Hulk turns brilliant scientist Bruce Banner into absolute raw power. Plus, purple pants.
If your writing is normally a bit on the quiet side, change things up every once in a while and get loud. Be brash. Write big. In other words, don’t be afraid to let the monster out. Whether you’re just writing a silly blog post or a personal diary entry, you need to feed the creativity in your head. So it’s a great exercise to just completely let your guard down and let the loud, abrasive words flow!
Sexy as she is deadly, this super spy can probably kill you in 97 different ways before you’d even blink. Granted, for most guys that may take awhile as their eyes lock in on this sultry S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
Go ahead… make your writing sexy. That doesn’t mean to start turning every article into 50 Shades of Grey or some other erotic fan-fiction. It just means use a more active voice. Beef up your choice of words and inject an arsenal of attractive adjectives (ooh, alliteration!) into your writing. You don’t need to become the next Shakespeare, but add some style to your writing. Tease your readers. Use “cliffhangers” at the end of paragraphs. Do what it takes to pull them in and always leave ’em wanting more.
Hawkeye’s your buddy. He’s your pal. The guy in the Avengers who can shoot the wings off of a fly one minute and then share a six-pack of Bud with you the next. He’s fun-loving, but when the moment’s at hand, he instantly focuses and can always hit his mark.
The most important thing you can do with your writing is get a message across. So make sure every article you write hits its mark and that you do get to the point. Your readers always need some form of takeaway, so don’t beat around the bush too long or they may leave before they learn it.
Each member of the Avengers possesses a special skill and hopefully you’ll adapt some of these lessons into your own writing. The other big lesson you can learn is from the entire Avengers team itself: teamwork. Whether it’s an editor, your readers, a client, etc. do whatever you can to work with them. Keep the lines of communication open always and welcome any and all feedback you can.
Now get your writing costume on and prepare for battle. Writers, Assemble!