Dead Women – The Cast

Then it comes to a cast, I like to start with The Five Man Band: The Leader, the Lancer, the Smart Guy, the Big Guy, and the Chick. Put in Star Wars terms, that’s Luck, Han, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and Leia. Despite the wordage these tropes are gender-less, handy for me and my all-woman cast.

The Leader vs Lancer is the core dynamic. The Leader leads and the Lancer challenges that leadership, Superman and Batman or Cyclops and Wolverine. They typically share the spotlight, which becomes a cake and eat it too situation for the author. Not everyone likes the squeaky clean hero. In fact, most people seem to like the bad boy. With this trope, we get both right out there in front.

The remaining three slots are about ability and only imply personality. They represent the three human elements of mind, body, and soul.

After some thought I came up with:

Vampire – The Leader. Vampires are the most charismatic of the undead.
Skeleton – The Lancer. Who better to contrast the bloodsucker than a woman without veins.
Ghost – The Smart Guy. Ghosts of folklore have access to forgotten knowledge.
Poltergeist – The Big Guy. A given, Poltergeists don’t do much more than throw things around.
Necromancer – The Chick. Since the Necromancer is both the person looking for help and a member of the team, her agenda is the one that brings and keeps the team together.

But this is an homage to the Seven Samurai. What about the haunted axe and the zombie? That’s where Cast Calculus comes in. When expanding on the Five Man Band there’s a number of tropes that can take that sixth and seventh slots, like Team Dad or The Mentor. For this cast, I’m going with:

Zombie – The Tagalog Kid
Haunted Axe – The Sixth Ranger

Like all outlines, none of this is set in stone and I already see the Chick being the real Leader. But putting characters in this framework has already started to flesh out their personalities in my head. Even the skeleton.

Next post: Cat saving.

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Dead Women – Elevator Pitch

As the release date of Picking Up the Ghost drifts further into the past, I’m feeling like cold product. A product that wasn’t very warm to begin with. Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work reminded me that I’ve failed to produce and failed to put myself out there.

So here’s the idea: While The Faith Machine is busy finding a home, I’ll be working on shorter pieces; seven short stories featuring the agents from The Faith Machine and a few of comic books pitches. I’ll blog the process. To teach what I know, and learn quite a bit from you while I’m at it.

This week; the elevator pitch for Dead Women. That’s a sales pitch for the story that’s short enough to tell in an elevator ride.

“The Seven Samurai, but the heroes are undead women; a vampire, a ghost, a skeleton, a zombie, a poltergeist, a haunted axe, and a necromancer.”

Unpacking: “Seven Samurai.” These two words tell the plot, the mercenary nature of the cast, and the bandit vs. villager conflict.

Two more words provide the hook, what’s unique about this story. “Undead women.” Why undead women? Is there a reason they’re women? Undead heroes? It’s an invitation to ask me more about the pitch and the angle that makes this story mine.

A pitch in two parts. Establish the ground rules, and hit them with the hook. What do you think?

Next week: Seven women in the Five Man Band.

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