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My Thoughts

My Thoughts

Content Creation Tactics – Social Media for Authors and More

Social Media

If you’ve listened to older episodes of my podcast or even read an older blog post, you know I’ve struggled with getting overwhelmed. Trying to balance the “meat” of writing new stories with the “potatoes” of new online content is hard. And around summer of 2018, I was completely burned out. I had been doing so much social media content that I neglected writing. And, without new stories to talk about, I was doing a whole lot that felt as though it didn’t amount to anything. So I took a long break from content creation – period, pooh. (Don’t judge me, that phrase cracks me up.) It gave me time to get my anxiety back down from being on the go all the time and allowed me the space to write.

Well, I’ve completed writing a short story, a novella, and I’m now outlining a new story. But, if you’ve noticed, I’m back on the sauce. However, things are different now. Hopefully. Here are my content creation tactics; a little bit about what I’m doing and how I’m pacing myself so I don’t completely lose it. My hope is that it will help you if you’re trying to do all the things.

Content Creation for Authors and More

Since I’m a writer first, I make sure I take time to write either when I get up in the morning or come home from work. It’s absolutely paramount that I mind the business of being an author first and most frequently. But where does all of the new content fit in? Easy. It all starts with this blog.

Every Saturday, I sit down to write a new post that will be a focal point for my content throughout the week. So, this post, all about pacing yourself and not getting overwhelmed, will get rehashed for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and my podcast. That way, I don’t have to create anything new. If you follow me, you’ll see the following:

  • a quote from this post on Twitter with the link back to this page
  • a new video on YouTube going over similar information
  • a new podcast with the audio from the YouTube video
  • YouTube video posted on IGTV (Instagram)
  • video re-posted on Facebook and a separate Facebook post
  • promotion for that content and more all over

It all gets spread out over the week so I don’t bombard my followers with a whole bunch of information. Plus, I intersperse it with my normal social media interactions so it doesn’t seem so mechanical.

Now, it may seem like I’m repeating the same information over and over again, but you have to remember, not everyone who follows you on one network follows you on the other. Plus, the more you do this, the more you will have to pull from as you go. I can re-post a video from two weeks ago while also promoting my latest post, keeping it all fresh.

Saving Time

This method is a real time saver. No longer am I creating original content for each platform. If you have a team and the money to do that, go for it! But I don’t, and I suspect many reading this don’t either. So stick with what works to get things going.

Two more things

  1. Use a calendar to plan out your content. Either create one on your own in Excel like I did, or use a calendar app. Brainstorm topics ahead of time and stay on schedule.
  2. You don’t need to engage on every platform. I’m just hard-headed. I like the challenge of cracking the code on good engagement on all the platforms and stretching the bounds of my creativity. That doesn’t need to be you. If you feel strongest on Instagram, or YouTube, or Medium, just stick to whatever works for you. The biggest thing is to remain consistent. It’s a lesson I’ve learned over and over again, but it’s difficult. I’m still trying to put it into practice. So, we’re in the boat. Let’s keep trying this content creation thing together until we reach our goals!

If you haven’t already, sign up to my email list and get a short story in exchange. You’re gonna love it!

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My ThoughtsWriting

Why You Should Never Force The Story

Upset Writer

In a previous post, I made a statement about using your fear as fuel to propel you through a task. In my case, it was to move forward full-steam ahead with writing the sequel to Pangaea: Unsettled Land. I had mentioned plowing through a draft no matter what, but some things are best left on the back-burner.

Not Plowing Through

I went back to my old outline and was surprised at how far I’d come in terms of conceptualizing the story. This was in no small part thanks to my decision to write the prequel, The Auctorati. Also, I’d completed the outline in 2016 – just weeks after publishing the first book – so I was surprised that the story had been on my mind all this time. Almost three years. It was time to get it all on paper.

Not! Since writing my last blog post, I’ve tried to get a firm hold on this story, but got stuck yet again. What was I doing wrong? I went to other writers for help.

Help on Twitter

I posed this question on Twitter:

The responses were amazing. With comments ranging from just letting the story sit and marinate to personal accounts of going through the same thing, I could tell that this problem was nothing new. And I was grateful to know that I wasn’t alone. It all added up to one main lesson.

Never Force The Story

This experience taught me to never force a story. I wrote Pangaea as a standalone, but after requests to see more, I wanted to oblige. Despite my desire to satisfy fans with a continuation of Slade, Douglassaire, and Gisela’s journeys, I’m just not able to do that right now. And it’s okay. I haven’t completely ruled out a sequel, but I’m going to give it time to come to me the right way. I want to make sure to give readers my absolute best.

So, if you’re a creative of any kind, here’s some advice: Be disciplined, but be patient. It may sound like an oxymoron, but the real juice of creativity flows somewhere in between.


If you’d like to get a taste of just how exciting my stories can be, sign up to my email list and get a short story in exchange. You’re gonna love it!

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BooksMy Thoughts

Using the Fear: Where Is the Pangaea Sequel?

kid waiting by rainy window

If you’ve read my first book, Pangaea: Unsettled Land, you may be wondering where the sequel is and if there will ever be one. You may be excited for the upcoming release of its prequel, The Auctorati, but for some of you that may not cut it. You want to jump back into the lives of Slade, Douglassaire, and Gisela and see where the adventure takes you next. So, where is the sequel? In short, it’s in my head, but that’s not completely accurate.

A Stalled Draft

I’ve already begun writing the Pangaea sequel. So that’s good news! The bad news, is that it’s still in its beginning stages. It’s super slow going and I’d blame it on an abundance of ideas for other stories, not really having this story outlined the way I need to feel confident in it, and editing and releasing the upcoming novella as well as my latest short story, The End of Forever. However, the biggest contributor to my stalled progress is…well, me.

You can either let fear stop you or fuel you.

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It All Boils Down to Fear

You know when a TV show starts off great, but goes on too long because it just had to keep up with customer demand? It usually ends up being terrible because the writers obviously ran out of ideas. I don’t want that for Pangaea. And I think that’s the biggest thing that’s holding me back. The question I ask myself is, Am I doing this because there’s more story here, or am I doing it just to make fans of the first book happy? Both are important, but I don’t want to create fluff. I want to give you something that’s worthwhile.

The Good News

The good news is I’m not out of ideas. I have a lot of inklings of where I can go next with these characters, and some of it is already drafted. I just need to fight through the self-doubt and uncertainty.

You can either let fear stop you or fuel you. I’m going to write this sequel. And starting now, I’m using that fear. It’s a sign on the road of what not to make this next book. With that, I can turn from that path towards the best version possible.


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My StoriesMy Thoughts

Progress Report – What I’m Editing, Writing, and Planning

Jarrod’s Journal

I know it’s been a while since I’ve last blogged, and every time I come back to this I feel as though I’m in this cycle of getting all revved up to do all the things, but then fall short of it after one week or so. So, here I am again trying to do this. I tweeted earlier this week that I was going to keep my blog posts simple and just focus on writing progress and thoughts about some of the fantasy and sci-fi media that I’ve read, watched, played, etc. Additionally, I would like to let you all know about what happens with my journey with Philly Black Pride. If you haven’t seen any of my tweets about this, I am now part of this local organization that caters to the Black LGBTQ community with a weekend of events at the end of every April. The big event’s coming up and I will share more about that later. But for now, let’s get into what I’ve been editing, writing, and planning.

Editing The Auctorati

In an earlier draft of this post, I wrote about my progress on this project with a sullen tone, but after thinking about it, I can give myself more of a pat on the back. Despite a lot of life changes such as buying a house, renting part of it out to tenants, dealing with a lot of drama, and joining Philly Black Pride, I have been able to find time to make progress. The biggest issues I had to work on with The Auctorati were giving my characters more internal dialogue and fine-tuning a couple of characters’ motives.

It’s funny because with my first book, my sense from beta readers and editors was that I gave too much internal dialogue and description for the fantasy genre – where people typically expect a faster-moving plot. Well, I was definitely cognizant of that this time, but to the detriment of my characters and the overall feeling of the story. I feel I’ve corrected that now and I’m happily moving onto my last 48 pages of editing. I’m excited about getting this out to you all because I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback.

Writing Immortal Warriors

The title is tentative, but basically sums it up. It’s a short story about
two ancient African warriors granted the power of immortality and forced to fight each other to the death in the current day. “If they’re immortal, how can they fight each other to the death,” you say? Well, getting the gift of eternal life means that only the people with that gift can kill you. So, the danger is very real.

I don’t know where this story came from. Some critics say that short stories should encompass whole generations/lives and just show a blip in time and leave the reader with a sense of the story continuing after it ends. It still needs some editing, but I think I’ve achieved that with this one.

Planning a New Project

Lastly, I had briefly mentioned my killer android novel before, and this past week, I’ve definitely gotten a bit more detailed about how to flesh it out. I’m so excited about this! It’s much deeper than just another killer android story and I can’t wait to share it. The concept is current, controversial, and I know I can get you excited about it when I share the completed explanation. But, it’s too soon to share now. I need the idea fully fleshed out and down on paper before I get there. But trust me, if I can pull this off, it’s gonna be something special.

This month marks Camp NaNoWriMo – much like regular NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you plow through 50,000 words in a month. I’ve join a “cabin” where you share with other writers your progress, and in usual fashion, I’ve failed. This was for this new project, but the focus on editing this book has taken precedence and I haven’t been able to write anything new. Hopefully, once editing is done and it’s in other people’s hands for proofreading, I can really get started on this.

More to Come

Make sure you pay attention to this website, my Twitter, and Instagram. I’ll be posting updates soon about everything. I’ll also write about my reactions to a movie I just finished on Netflix titled Ex Machina, as well as Philly Black Pride in two separate posts. More soon!

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My Thoughts

Why I Write Fantasy and Science Fiction

Jarrod’s Journal

I got very meta earlier this week and tried to figure out what it was that drew me to write fantasy and science fiction as opposed to more contemporary fiction to make the same point. Come with me as I try to figure this out.

One Story Told Two Different Ways

Let’s consider this (nonsensical) premise:

Timmy hates vegetables because “that’s what rich people eat”.


Fantasy

Timmy gets sucked into a world where he’s attacked by monsters and soon finds himself in a war between elves and orcs. He gets the elves and orcs to make peace, and through it all, learns that we’re all essentially the same. So when he comes back home and a plate of vegetables gets put in front of him, he eats with no problem.

Contemporary

Timmy becomes the apprentice of a rich, old, ornery mentor and sees a different side to the world he was locked out of. Through his lessons and the people he meets in his mentor’s life, Timmy finds out we’re all essentially the same. After his mentor dies, he eats vegetables with no problem.


Orcs and Elves Over Real Life

What’s the difference between these two? One is an exciting roller-coaster of an adventure while the other is thoughtful and heartbreaking. Both could be very entertaining if done well, but I would certainly tell the tale of how Timmy saved the other realm and came home to eat his vegetables. Why do I lean towards the big adventure?

People have told me in state of wonder how creative I must be to write about the fantastical, but I often have that same reaction to those who compose stories set in real-life situations. The challenge in fantasy and sci-fi is bringing the craziness of the story back down to earth. It’s a challenge that excites me because I have the ability to do that. But to take the mundane and pull it up to something riveting? That, to me, takes some incredible skill. In fact, I have read more contemporary fiction than fantasy altogether because I love it so.

I think it just comes down to how my brain works. After being inspired by exciting movies, video games, anime, and more, I’ve found ways to replicate what I’ve ingested and add some originality to it. Maybe someday I’ll challenge myself and go for the down-to-earth story. I have plenty of ideas. But, for now, I’ll stick with high-flying adventures.

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My Thoughts

2019 – Goals for the New Year

Jarrod’s Journal – Inspirational

With every new year comes the pondering of resolutions to make it better than the last. While I complained throughout 2018 about my lack of progress, I have to keep it real with myself and reflect on all that I’ve done. It hasn’t been meaningless. And in fact, it played a big part on my strategy for 2019.

A Look Back at 2018

Like I said in my previous post, I spent a lot of time trying to master marketing and branding myself. The things I’ve experimented with are as follows:

  • King for a Day – YouTube Vlog
  • The Read / LGBTr – YouTube Interview Show
  • Snapchat / Instagram Stories
  • Prompting votes for the next story path on Twitter
  • Un-Commuted – Podcast

I would consider all of those my failures – or at least just projects that had promise, but didn’t light a fire inside of me. However, I did do some things I would consider successes:

  • Completed writing The Auctorati – currently being edited
  • Completed writing Synapse – soon to be edited
  • Wrote and published two short stories, Survival Stories
  • Sold my book at my first trip to a convention, Wicomicon in Baltimore, MD

Yeah, I did a lot of complaining (and hopefully it wasn’t that noticeable), but when I look back at what I’ve done I am proud of both the failures and successes. The failures have helped me narrow down and focus on what I do best. The successes have propelled me forward with a clear understanding of what to do next. This year, I’m only going to do what energizes me.

2019 – Resolutions for the New Year

I’m excited for 2019. Not only do I expect to publish two novellas, I have a clear plan for my blog, and some amazing new ideas that I want to get started on. Here’s what I’m looking forward to:

  • Publish The Auctorati and Synapse
  • Regular blog post updates
  • Higher email list engagement
  • A short story about dueling immortal warriors
  • A novel about killer androids
  • Completing Pangaea book two and having it ready for publishing by 2020 (maybe earlier if I can get into a groove)

Happy New Year! What are your resolutions?

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My Thoughts

Finding My Fire

Jarrod’s Journal

The following section may sound a bit strange…like a stream-of-consciousness piece (albeit edited for readability), but that’s because I took a rambling, journal-like approach to searching for an answer to my problem. That problem was my enthusiasm for writing and my goal of making a living out of this. As you’ll see, I start by writing down my frustrations, but abruptly come to a solution. As a writer, I should have known that writing would be the best way to really explore my thoughts and feelings. 

What’s the Plan, Jarrod?

I’ve been wondering for a while whether being an author is really what I’m meant to be doing. Or whether it’s really something I can achieve. I guess that’s not the best way to frame this because, technically, I am an author. I’ve written and published one book, wrote and published two short stories, and am in the process of completing two novellas now. But for some reason the fire that was there when I wrote the first book and then tried to market it is not there anymore. I don’t really know what happened. I can’t seem to find the same excitement and drive that I had a year ago. I’m trying to force myself to write and just let the ideas flow, but there’s a lot of friction with my fiction (ha!). Maybe that’s how it is for a lot of people. Maybe I should ask Twitter and see what writers do to overcome that feeling. How do they keep writing? How do they keep that same fire? And does it always feel like a damn job?

I wanted to be a self-published, independent author because of the freedom it seemed to supply. Freedom of time, the ability to be completely creative, get paid for it, and to live a life that was truly your own. And I still would prefer that over going into work every day and reporting to a boss. But, would I be able to maintain that lifestyle? If it’s so hard for me to spend time writing now, how do I expect to do it full time? What do I need to do to get to that level of “stickwithitness”? What happened that my fire was drained?

Was it the fact that my book didn’t become a multi-million dollar hit? I was always prepared for the reality that I might not sell much, so I don’t think that’s it.

Is it the fact that my book wasn’t completely perfect when I released it? Some people have noted errors and one person was not so fond of the pace – could that be it? I don’t think so.

Was it the marketing – the business side of it that I found so hard to wrap my head around that it killed my enthusiasm? I think it was, now that I think about it. I had an idea of myself that I’d be able to learn all about the business side of things as I went along. I thought I had a good enough grasp already on what it took to grab attention. But I found out that I don’t.

I’ve done a blog, social media, video, and even a podcast to try to crack the code on branding, but none of it feels right. I can’t get a system down. Despite how much I’ve researched and learned, there’s this insurmountable wall on the business side of things that tells me “regardless of how many books you write, hardly anyone will care because you can’t do this”. And I think that may be what’s blocking me.

It’s funny. I don’t think my problem is a creative one at all. It’s a business problem. It’s a marketing problem. My inability to engage people like I used to when I was doing my fashion blog is killing my big picture – and without that big picture it’s hard for me to focus on writing. Without all the steps lined up and a proven system in place to grab attention, get email sign-ups, and generate sales that feels right, I can’t write. Without an end goal in sight, what’s the point? Selling 12 books? Really? And I’m fine with only selling 12 books if I know with my next one I can sell 13, and the next I can sell 14, but the growth just doesn’t seem to be there. And it’s so frustrating.

When I talk about this businessy stuff “feeling right”  I mean that what I do outside of writing in order to get attention has to be something I could do for the rest of my life. Can I host a YouTube show interviewing other Black LGBTQ authors for the rest of my life? No. Can I post premium Instagram videos or beautiful pictures by myself for the rest of my life? No. Podcast about my mundane life for the rest of my life? No. And I can’t keep hitting my head against the wall in Twitter and Facebook trying to get enough interaction with every tweet like a lot of people are seemingly able to do.

What feels right is my website, email list, and going to conventions and events to sell my book and sign people up for emails. And really, that doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Perhaps that’s my solution. If I focus on those few things, and use social media to broadcast what I’ve blogged or my trip to a convention, then I can see that as growth.

I had to pull away from everything after trying everything to see what worked and what didn’t. And while being social media savvy sounds exciting, it’s not me. And I’m okay with that. Outside of writing, this will be my business plan until I grow it out to be bigger and better. I think I’ve found my fire. Whew! See what writing it out can do?

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My Thoughts

I’m Back – Here’s what I’ve Been Up To

Jarrod’s Journal

It’s been a while since I updated my blog. I’ve been quite busy, but to let this site just sit here without updates is bad. I think what hindered me is not having anything to say. However, I soon realized that there’s plenty for me to say if I just focus on what I’ve been up to and what’s going on in my life. That’s why I created the Jarrod’s Journal entries in the first place – so I can be more candid and just do easy updates. So here goes…

The Auctorati & Synapse

First things first – the books. Where are they? They’re on my computer, silly! I’ve been deep in the editing process for some time now with both The Auctorati, a prequel to my fantasy novel, Pangaea, and a new book currently titled Synapse. The reason it’s taken so long for me to release anything has been because I’m going through a slow cyclical cycle of creation. I’ll write, lack faith in what I’m writing, let it rest for a month (or two), get back to it, lack faith, and so on. It’s been a struggle just getting these two to the first draft stage, but I’m happy to say that I’ve finally made it.

The Auctorati is no longer on hold! I’ve completed a draft and just finished receiving commentary and critique from beta readers. Most of it is positive and I’m super excited to get that done this year. I was worried, but now I’m happy and eager to complete it.

Synapse is a different story (no pun intended). I’ve gotten past a first draft and I’m now editing a second, but now I’m blocked. I’m stuck on minor details that aren’t working and I have little clue how to rectify them. Perhaps I’ve let the story sit long enough. I think this week I’ll take another look and see what can be done and finally get this into beta readers’ hands.

Another point that’s a bit bothersome is that both stories are not full-length novels, but novellas. I couldn’t get the word count to where it needed to be and it bugged me. I think this is due to seriously taking the advice from my Pangaea editor to drive the plot forward. But, as I said on Twitter (below), I kind of want to turn the dial back a bit and add higher-level descriptions and language. I just have to make sure to not go overboard.

The good thing about the shorter length is that I didn’t extend it just for the sake of a word count. What you get is the full story, and a fast-paced one at that.

Screenplay

I had the opportunity to enter a competition to create my own TV series and I jumped at the chance. I had a story in my head for a while, and after beginning to write it all down, I really started feeling the inspiration. Unlike my novellas, this story kept me feeling great all the way through. Perhaps because it was a new medium – I’m not sure. I just know that I’m happy with the synopsis I created, and if they pick me for the next round, I’ll be even more excited to share my completed script. I can’t tell you what it’s about just yet, but oddly enough it isn’t fantasy or sci-fi.

 

Personal Life

Personally, I’m in the midst of buying my first house. It’s been a struggle and a long road, but I’m finally close to crossing the finish line. My big goal is to advance my life further and achieve my dreams. This will be one more step.

I thought I was going to get a lot deeper into this section, but decided against it. If you want to know more about what’s going on with me day-to-day, subscribe to my podcast titled Jarrod D. King wherever you listen! You can even listen on the sidebar.

I’ll be back next week with more. I promise!

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My Thoughts

Abandonment, Ghosting, and Bouncing Back

Jarrod’s Journal – Inspirational

This has been a strange week. It started off with me being angry at a guy who decided to drop all contact. After being friends for almost a year, we decided to see what it would be like to transition into a romantic relationship. Well, if you’ve listened to my podcast, watched my YouTube videos, or even read my latest Instagram posts, you know how that went.

I spent most of the week feeling friendless and abandoned. This hit me pretty hard. For a moment I even thought I wouldn’t recover. I thought that I’d become some bitter person who never wants to make friends or even try relationships again. What this whole ordeal has shown me is my resilience. As of this writing, I’m feeling happier and getting closer to being my old self. How did I get past being ghosted? Read on. I’m no psychologist or life coach, but hopefully my issue can help you if you’re experiencing the same thing.

Focus On Your Work

I never got so lost in my relationship with this person that I forgot I had my own life. However, it did slow things down. I wasn’t editing my book or releasing social media content as consistently. It’s normal with any new relationship to have things in flux, but it was such a blessing to have something to do after being dumped. I got back to editing, my social media content is stronger, and those bits of progress helped me feel like I was growing – growing past the hurt and further into my purpose.

What is your passion? Try some things and find it. Then make it your foundation – your daily practice. When things go wrong, jump back in and let progress be your way out.

Keep In Contact With People Who Care

When you’re as isolated as me, it’s easy to get down in the dumps, depressed, and feeling like there’s nobody in the world who cares. I had to stop myself from going down that path and remind myself that the extreme thought that no one stuck by me or cared was incorrect. I went out with my mom, watched TV with my dad and my brother, had funny conversations with my co-worker, and made plans for drinks with a friend. My feeling of being isolated is not unfounded, but it’s not as bad as I think.

Chances are, it’s not as bad as you think either. You didn’t get this far by being alone. Who do you talk to? Reach out and just chill, make plans, whatever. Get back to the reality that there are people who value you. And if all else fails, get in contact with me. If you’re reading this, I care about you too.

Forgive Yourself And Them

This last part is the hardest. It’s a lesson I learned a few years ago after being continuously dogged by someone. We won’t go into it here, but if I hadn’t gone through that I wouldn’t have learned the value of forgiveness.

This week, I had to take some time and get still, quiet, and just breath and think. It was then that I could say to myself, “I forgive you and I forgive myself.” That didn’t mean I had to let this person back into my life, but I made the choice to start the process of removing the feelings around this situation and just see it for what it is. He was obviously feeling something that he did not have the courage to express and decided that not speaking at all was the best way out. I had to forgive myself because I sent a nasty text in retaliation. I didn’t hit too far below the belt, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

Are you willing to forgive and move on? Take a moment, breathe, and let it go. Then forgive yourself for your part. We’re all only human. We make mistakes. It’s important to remember that when feeling burned.

I know I don’t usually go to this deep place, but I thought it was important to address. I hope if you’re going through something similar this helps. You’re stronger than you think.

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My ThoughtsTV / Film

Black Panther: Who is the Real Hero?

Black Panther Movie

It’s been days since seeing Black Panther in theaters and I am still obsessed. There were so many great lines, great humor, terrific action and special effects, and best of all it had a captivating story filled with memorable characters. Since seeing the movie, I’ve seen plenty of debates popping up online that challenge the idea of T’Challa (the main character/Black Panther) being the hero. This is rebutted with the assertion that Killmonger (the movie’s villain) is the true hero. My initial reaction to this was confusion. While I completely understood Killmonger’s motives, I believed his execution and his plan were completely flawed. So, who is the real hero? Let’s explore some of the characters in this film and get to an answer.

**SPOILER ALERT**

The Villain Everybody Loves

Let’s start with everybody’s new favorite villain, Erik Killmonger. First of all, the fact that we’re having all of this discussion about Killmonger versus T’Challa proves the point that Killmonger is one of (if not, the) best villains adapted for the big screen from a comic book so far. We usually don’t get this discussion with the villains. He was undoubtedly the bad guy in the film, but his views struck a chord with Black Americans. He understood all that we went through, our current struggles, and had a well thought out plan about how to tackle the problem. He was a truly complex character that added immeasurable depth to what many at first glance would just call another comic book movie. But is he a hero? After poisoning a woman’s drink, killing his girlfriend, being completely disrespectful to leaders and elders in Wakanda, and attempting to start a war by distributing weapons to people, I’d say not. Not to mention all of the scarring he had on his body which was a count of all of the people he had already killed. While his background of having his father killed by T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka (the previous Black Panther), and his knowledge of the oppression of Black people make him sympathetic, that does not mean he’s a hero. I feel as though many (myself included) finally feel their pain was properly articulated by Killmonger and heard by the masses, but that does not mean that you then adopt all of his ways as just.

Regardless, I’m just happy that his character sparked such a conversation. Everywhere I look, there’s some deep discussion going on exploring the nuances of Killmonger’s character and his juxtaposition to Wakanda and its citizens.  I really just see as a way of us exploring our own views of our identity.

I think any writer of fiction wants a villain to come off as well as Killmonger did; to be so extremely sympathetic that it’s hard to still see them as the bad guy. I certainly wanted to strike a chord with people when I wrote Queen Aeothesca in my novel. I think I did a good job of making her human, but I know I have some work to do in future works if I want to get anywhere close to sparking this kind of awe for a character.

Is Black Panther the True hero?

Now let’s talk about the main character, T’Challa. As the lead, he’s definitely going to have most of the heroic qualities. He’s strong, a great fighter, revered by his family and peers, and fights for justice. What we saw in the movie was that he was stuck between his father’s legacy/Wakanda’s history of protecting their own and knowing that the world could use help only they could provide. The thing that makes T’Challa so compelling is that while he was pulled in opposite directions from his country’s history and Killmonger’s ideals, he used information from all sides to forge his own righteous path. The key word for him is “learning”. He learned a lesson in Captain America: Civil War in order to grow, and he learned a lesson in Black Panther in order to progress further. His growth in each film has made him a lovable character to follow. So, is he a hero? Yes, but is he the hero? I believe this last character actually fits that role best.

The Woman Under The Radar

Let’s talk about Nakia. From the beginning we understand that Nakia already knows that there are people who would benefit from Wakanda’s help. She urges T’Challa to see things her way, but at first he is resistant. When Killmonger comes into the picture, despite their similar views on the plight of their people, she recognizes his major flaws and doesn’t fall in line. She continues to fight for her views, but in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone. She saves one last herb from the garden, uses it to save T’Challa’s life, which leads to a restoration of peace in Wakanda and a change in the way they approach the world. I hadn’t thought of this until a series of tweets I read by a very astute viewer. I haven’t received permission to share her thoughts here just yet, but she outlines all of Nakia’s heroic qualities perfectly. And it’s for all of these reasons that I see Nakia as the true hero of Black Panther.

A New Door Has Been Opened

The reason I’m writing about this and the reason I felt moved to write about Black Panther probably won’t surprise you. I am an author of fantasy and science fiction (and perhaps more in the future) with Black characters as the lead roles. So, this feels like a natural subject to talk about. When I left the theater, this film just stuck with me in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. Maybe it was the energy in the theater – so upbeat that clapping started as the movie began, not just as it ended. Maybe it was the fact that I watched it with my best friend (who is African) and just felt the immense joy and emotion from him seeing his people and culture respectfully handled on screen in a big-budget blockbuster. I have a feeling it was both of those things, plus the movie was just damn good. My feeling is that Black Panther has opened the door for more stories like this to be told at the same level of other Hollywood blockbusters. My hope is that I can be a part of this next movement even in just some small way.

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