Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#143) -- Why Pulp Heroes

As a writer, what is it about pulp heroes that drives you to write them?

If you ask the average pulp writer, you'll get an answer like this most likely: "I love to write pulp heroes because they're the clear-cut good guys who face the clear-cut bad guys and they have all this straight-up action without all the self-doubt and meandering introspection and flowery narrative."

My answer is slightly different. I do agree about the adventures of pulp heroes not being bogged down in flowery narrative and meandering introspection, but I don't mind a little self-doubt and shades of gray in my heroes from time to time.

It's precisely those opportunities and luxuries that the original writers didn't have with them that makes me love to write them. That's why I love new pulp. Because it takes the ideas of classic pulp and allows us to see them and write them through modern eyes and modern techniques.

I think the idea of dealing head-on with the racism and sexism of the 1930s makes for a great pulp story, especially for a character who has never had to accept its existence until now (with the benefit of a modern writer). I think writing a typical "good guy" into a situation where he has to choose between two "bad" options to win the day (and then deal with the repercussions of his choice) makes another awesome story idea. I think that creating new heroes in that setting with more visible feet of clay and shades of gray (hey that's a cool title for a pulp book, isn't it, FEET OF CLAY AND SHADES OF GRAY) to inhabit the dark and dingy world of the true 1930s is a great deal of fun.

And that's what I like about writing pulp characters -- not the legacy but the opportunity to explore that legacy with fresh, modern eyes.