What Does Deadpool have in common with writers?
Yes, there are spoilers lurking here…
I was never a huge follower of the graphic novel craze that spawned Deadpool, or the X-Men character universe. Oh, sure I saw the first movie and other than the creepy old guy in a wheelchair and Rebecca Romain-Stamos in blue body paint, I couldn’t tell you what it was really about. Good, evil and where Wolverine gets a manicure–I don’t know. It was a little out of my tiny little crime fiction comfort zone.
I have to give huge props to fantasy writers. Universe building and getting readers to buy into the premise that paranormal, or superpower wielding mutants are amongst us is a tough sell. I don’t write that kind of material, not for the huge suspension of reality that is required, but the consequences and outcome of a Deadpoolesque story don’t cut deep enough (real enough) for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I got a bang out of the Deadpool movie. The irreverent tone, the quest for payback delivered with a constant barrage of innuendo and one-liners made for a fun film experience. But, Deadpool running headlong into a den of baddies has a predictable outcome. He can’t really get hurt, he kills everyone and spells out the bad guy’s name in dead bodies.
As it turns out, Deadpool not only earns its “R” MPAA rating in the first three minutes of the movie, but the amoral masked avenger has something to offer for fiction writers.
Deadpool’s Rules for Writers:
Kill everything–without mercy: Deadpool has a point here, especially when it comes to editing. All that purple prose is actually an oxygen starved storyline. Kill it and move on. Don’t look back. That line you’re so proud of is more likely an extra black suited bad guy who does nothing to move the plot on. Tack it onto your body count and hunt for the next victim.
Don’t take yourself seriously: Deadpool makes a big deal about how he is not a hero, doesn’t want to be a hero and isn’t out to become a shiny new member of the X-Men family. He doesn’t apologize for who he is. I’m incredibly lucky to be a writer and I’m able to enjoy the hell out of it. You’re always going to have that one douchenozzle who swirls a vegan crafted virgin cosmo and asks, “Oh, you’re a writer? Anything I may have read?” You’re thinking, “No, because I don’t write how to advice on the happiness of sixth marriages, or secrets of cheap cosmetic surgery.” Instead, you shrug, “Probably not. I’m a writer, not the Shopping Network Shamwow pitch man.” That last part you probably didn’t say out loud.
Wear red: Deadpool finally settles on the color of his costume. Wear red so your enemies can’t see you bleed. Writing can be brutal, especially for the thin skinned novice. Rejections, bad reviews, and slow sales happen and that crap cuts deep. It’s not about letting them see you sweat–don’t let them see you bleed. It only attracts other sharks to the feeding frenzy. Learn from it and do better next time.
You’re about to be killed by a zamboni–in like about five minutes: The old adage of Chekov’s gun applies in Deadpool’s world. Show me that gun and I better see it being used. Hitchcock was great at that too. The third time I see a knife, bad things are gonna happen to somebody, all stabby like. The zamboni takes too long to track down its prey. Just get to it already.
I’m ugly: Deadpool’s revenge is all centered on getting the bad guy who caused his horrible disfigurement. Or, as it’s described in the movie, he looks like “An avocado had sex with an older uglier avocado.” In the end, it doesn’t matter. All the carnage, sorrow and self pity was the result of Deadpool feeling ugly. Get over it. Your writing is the same thing. Ugly is someone else’s Hugh Jackman.
Don’t apologize: Deadpool makes mistakes, bad decisions and lives with the consequences. He never apologizes for it. Don’t apologize for your writing. We’ve all done it. Oh, that first story, or book, yeah, we’d write it differently now based on what we know. But, it’s a point in time. Move on. Rewrite and release if you must, but don’t apologize for it. Own it.
I’m going to try applying Deadpool’s Rules for a while and see where it takes me. I don’t think I have the red costume figured out yet, so I have to be careful about where I cut stuff.