Origin Outline

Note: this is an outdated outline of a current superhero serial, which can be read here.  BUT, there is a chance that future storylines will adapt elements of this outline, so as a teaser and a reminder of where the characters and story have gone since I posted this, I will leave it up. Enjoy!


The All-American is dead! Three friends, Evan, James and Mallory take up the fallen hero’s mantle and vow to uncover the truth behind his mysterious death but new enemies, old rivals and even allies stand in their way.


Act I

First Sequence

The Centennial of the age of superhumans approaches! Cities across the world prepare for the celebration. Seattle is abuzz with excitement as heroes from all over the globe gather for the month long Hundred Years of Heroes event sponsored by the city to attract superhuman entrepreneurs and super industry contractors. The All-American makes a public appearance to promote charity events and other noble causes celebrating a century of heroes. But shadows gather and three friends’ lives are changed forever.

The Death of the All-American- To kick off the Hundred Years of Heroes event, superhero, adventurer, and inventor, the All-American, flies in and gives a short speech at Seattle Center. Evan, James and Mallory watch from the crowd. It is by all accounts a great speech but something seems off about the hero. He is quickly and unceremoniously killed by multiple super powered assailants. The ensuing chaos engulfs the crowd and the three friends narrowly escape serious harm. The assassins are pursued by nearby heroes but make a clean getaway.

Aftermath- For days, controversy and disinformation surround AA’s death. Theories abound as to the identities of the assassins. Evan, James and Mallory recover from their close brush with death and try to return to their normal lives.

Evan investigates those responsible for a drive by shooting that killed a little girl. He comes up with a few names but the gang colors and intended target of the drive by point to the Spider Lords, an up and coming gang that have been growing and getting more violent of late.

James tries finding an in to an online community of powered self-experimenters but fails. He admires the superhero gadgets and gear he’s collected over the years before over hearing a violent argument in the apartment downstairs. “Ear buds go in, noise goes away.”

Mallory works on her journalism blog and realizes while going over the video footage she took of the attack that something doesn’t add up. The official story points to a new and unknown group of villains, but the outfits and tactics on display don’t feel like newbies like the officials are saying. They are too adept and organized. “Newbs couldn’t have killed AA. He’s a veteran of decades of powered battles.”

Shenanigans- The official investigation goes nowhere and looks to be on the verge of going cold. Outraged, the three friends start an online petition to have the case reexamined using Mallory’s footage as support but it gets little attention and #AllAmericanTruth dies before it even begins.

One week after the All-American’s murder, the hero is buried in his hometown. His close friend and teammate, Beacon, gives a eulogy that while touching and heartfelt, subtly suggests that AA wasn’t the hero that people thought. Due to the incompetent investigation, Beacon announces that he and AA’s team, the Nationals, will begin their own investigation.

Second Sequence

The consequences of the All-American’s death begin to manifest. The three friends decide to investigate the assassination themselves. Strands of a larger plot begin to emerge but the heroes run into obstacles in their investigation.

Investigation- Dubbing themselves the New All-Americans, Evan, James and Mallory take matters into their own hands and vow to uncover the truth behind the assassination. With very little concrete evidence to go on, Mallory proposes interviewing AA’s associates. After a dozen declined phone calls and unanswered e-mails, the three friends find themselves at a dead end.

Evan suggests one last option. Alan Watson, a public but relatively unknown figure who used to be the costumed hero Super Sleuth. A retired member of the American Hero Society and current owner of a one man consulting agency, Alan worked with the Nationals before as both superhero and consultant. Alan is reluctant and hesitant and tells them to buzz off as he’s retired, let the authorities handle it, etc.

The Gangs- Meanwhile, the hero’s death spurs the criminal underworld into action. Gang activity explodes across the city. The beleaguered police department scrambles to contain it but bodies are piling up and no one feels safe to walk the streets. The paradox of high crime and high superhero presence fuels a tidal wave of editorials and scathing indictments by newspapers, blogs and internet news sites on the effectiveness of costumed crime fighters. Stats and studies and polls come flying out of the woodwork. This sparks debates and shouting matches on Facebook, Reddit and YouTube video comment sections over what the point of bright flashy costumes and crime fighters are in the first place.

Mallory senses an underlying agenda to make superheroes look ineffectual and weak while the city burns. Her journalistic instinct leads her to an interesting development which she shares with the others. Two editorial pieces which were posted a day before the crime wave and then subsequently taken down. Why did two different people publish superhero criticisms before the crime spike happened? The heroes attempt to investigate but are stonewalled by the companies.

The Centennial- James looks into the Hundred Years of Heroes events that the All-American was supposed to attend. He finds a website for one of the groups responsible for organizing the event that AA was killed at but it is suspiciously sparse save for brief paragraphs about the Centennial’s importance to the region. Contact information leads to an answering service and address is generic office park suite. They hired these guys to handle the kick off? They have jobs connected with other events, mostly charities and galas for rich folks, the biggest one being a party during the Centennial itself which will host many heroes and city officials.

The Long Night- Evan realizes that only the wealthy parts of town and the city proper are getting the bulk of superhero and police protection while everyone else is stuck out in the rain. His anger drives him to begin what he later dubs, “the Long Night” as he takes down thug after thug, trying to keep people safe. His savage attacks surprise him, but his ferocity is necessary as he barely escapes every scrape in one piece. The majority of his attacks are focused on the Spider Lords, the gang behind the drive by shootings and gang violence that are indiscriminately killing people across the city. The thugs are uncharacteristically loyal, but he manages to get a few to talk. He learns that the turf wars aren’t over drugs but control of the sex trade, a market cornered by the mob and the most lucrative business in the Northwest.



Act II

Third Sequence

The stakes are getting higher and the three have landed on people’s radars. Not good! The celebrations and Hundred Years of Heroes continue even as the city implodes due to the crime spike and Heroic property damage. Events are starting to spiral out of control, events which threaten to change the superhuman paradigm and it all centers on the fateful Centennial which is now less than a month away. What did the All-American know that got him killed? The three discover more secrets about the All-American and take the stage as honest to goodness superheroes.

The costumes!- You can’t fight crime without a good costume, so taking a break from the heavy stuff before certain parties get too suspicious, Evan, James and Mallory put their heads together to come up with appropriately themed costumes to honor the All-American’s memory. Evan is chided by James when he finds out what Evan has been doing. “Hero’s work is done in the light, not in the shadows!” “A little girl died, James! She was just a baby! I had to find out who did it. Justice!” Mallory half-heartedly agrees with James but she is starting to lose hope in their methods thus far. More must be done but their limited resources aren’t enough. Hands need to get dirty. Laws need to be bent. Arguing ensues over their next course of action.

Investigation II- Alan has been busy. After the three friends’ visit and the recent crime spike, Alan finally decides to look into the murder. His connections in the Nationals and the American Hero Society tell him that AA was working on something that he wasn’t telling others about. In the months and weeks leading up to his death he became increasingly distracted, occupied and paranoid. Friends in the Nationals suggested a vacation to calm his nerves but he refused. Alan also reviews the footage Mallory took. He finds it extremely troubling and familiar. He’s seen this sort of thing before.

Escalation!- While on another midnight crusade, Evan stumbles upon something he shouldn’t have. Infiltrating a Spider Lord base under the cover of night, he believes he has finally found the hang out of the two responsible for the little girl’s death. He hides in a room filled with incriminating evidence. Plans, building blueprints, itineraries for events throughout the month, addresses to hidden weapon caches and suspected hideouts, hundreds of documents and digital media focused on several superheroes, including an overwhelming majority focusing on AA and the Centennial. Rousing the hornet’s nest, Evan narrowly escapes and is now number one on the Spider Lords’ hit list.

The Nationals- Beacon and a contingent of Nationals come to Seattle to offer “aid” but it only amounts to a photo op. He discourages the young heroes in town for the Centennial from acting and to let the professionals handle the situation. It becomes clear he intends to do nothing about the crime wave, fomenting even more anti-superhero sentiment. Zerstorer implores Beacon to ‘act like a hero’ and restore the city to peace, but Beacon rebukes him, saying he is reckless just like AA was.

Dungeon crawling? Here?- Using intel Evan collected from the Spider Lords, James catches a lucky break and manages to locate one of the All-American’s suspected hidden bases. The three friends go in hopes of uncovering more of the truth. It is located near the international district, beneath the city. They navigate a short series of defense mechanisms that they are poorly equipped for and barely scrape by. James is badly hurt and Mallory is on death’s door before they make it inside the base. Luckily this base is equipped with a small med bay and Evan is able to quickly patch them up.

Superpowers for Superheroes- The All-American’s auxiliary base is loaded with gadgets, serums, artifacts and many other things besides. The Group for Human Empowerment can finally put their money where their mouth is! Evan gets a magic cape and an enchanted sword. James gets his pick of serums and gadgets and Mallory finds a mysterious medallion with her family crest on it. There are also a lot of files on AA’s research. The friends discover that the Spider Lords are one of several fronts for a shadowy organization called the Seven. By posing as gang members and stirring the pot in gangland the Spider Lords have been setting the city up for chaos. What is the Seven’s ultimate goal?

Unbeknownst to them, the base is being watched…

Fourth Sequence

It’s time to take the offensive! The New All-Americans can now do what they couldn’t do before and news of the new heroes’ activities spread. The gangs are beaten back in the local neighborhoods and the police are able to take control of the streets once more. The Seven take notice.

Great Power, Huge Responsibility- With their new powers and resources, the three friends chase after leads like never before. They comb through the All-American’s contacts hoping get information on who would and could gun the hero down. They pay visits to several people, including the ones who wrote the retracted superhero editorials and who continue to foment anti-superhero sentiment. The heroes find out that the journalists are being backed by the same benefactor, a man who works for the Hundred Years of Heroes event organizing company.

Shells and Dummies- New names come up in connection with the event organizers responsible for setting up events for Hundred Years of Heroes. Shell and dummy corporations galore! Suspicious deaths follow wherever the heroes go as loose ends are being tied up. The heroes push too hard and one of their leads kills himself right before their eyes. The trail is leading them closer to the identities of the All-American’s assassins but the Seven is always a step ahead.

Street Level!-The three clean up their neighborhoods in the meantime and suppress gang violence with two fisted justice, as much a distraction for them as anything else. They target the Spider Lords command structure and slowly climb their way up to the top. Mallory falls in love with this new life while Evan questions his violent actions. James is in uber fan heaven. To their surprise they are confronted by none other than Beacon of the Nationals. He informs them that, while admirable, their efforts are getting in the way of the actual investigation that the Nationals are conducting. Mallory accuses Beacon of sitting on the investigation to his face, which angers the hero, but he is ultimately dismissive of her.

Investigation III- Alan figures out who the New All-Americans are and reaches out to them. He tells the three friends that the name Overwatch has come up, a name he’s seen before. They are all playing a very dangerous game now and have to watch their step or they’ll end up like the All-American. “If I can figure out who you are, then you can be sure they can too. It’s only a matter of time at this rate. Do yourselves a favor and get out while you still can.” The heroes are shaken to their core, but undeterred. They continue their investigation.


Fifth Sequence

Even higher stakes! The Seven’s plan is pushed back and with superhero popularity on the rise it is time to get serious. No more games. This is the big leagues. The heroes suffer their greatest loss yet.

Friendly Neighborhood Crime Watch- A local crime watch association decides they’ve had enough of the gang activity in their town and form a masked vigilante group to deal with it. They are almost destroyed by out of town junior superheroes in a case of mistaken identity. Social unrest boils to a fever pitch. Small riots break out but are quickly contained. Beacon urges the public to stay calm and scolds the young superheroes for their conduct.

Three’s company- The Seven throw their soft ball playbook out the window and hire the super group and professional fixers known as the Threesome to take care of the heroes. The Threesome try a divide and conquer method by trying to catch the heroes alone but this proves increasingly difficult as the heroes are now ultra-paranoid. Back tracking the heroes’ history, it isn’t long before the Threesome find #AllAmericanTruth and figure out who the New All-Americans really are. They enact the honeypot plan to catch the new heroes.

Skin for Sale- The New All-Americans raid a safe house for the Spider Lords housing a dozen sex slaves and other victims that were part of their new human trafficking operation. This turns out to be a trap, as the Threesome tail the heroes back to their homes.

Disaster strikes!- The Threesome along with gangs of Spider Lords assault the heroes’ homes in a devastating series of attacks. Mallory is bested but her father saves the day with his magical abilities. James’ family is wiped out while James is thought to be killed but he lives. Evan’s family is out of town and so he is attacked while alone at home. He manages to beat the aggressors back but they tear the home apart. Victorious but very hurt, the Threesome fall back to lick their wounds.


Sixth Sequence

It’s personal now. Everything comes to a head.

The Revenge of the Payback- The heroes assault the gang headquarters of the Spider Lords hoping to end the gang’s threat once and for all and get intel on the Threesome. The leader of the Spider Lords is revealed to be one of the Seven. He is powered and formidable but ultimately killed by Evan (in self-defense maybe? It looks questionable), which scatters the Spider Lords to the wind. A major piece of the plan falls apart for the Seven. The heroes discover that the Seven are a group of former Overwatch soldiers who banded together for aid and profit years ago and are planning something big for the city.

Punchline and the Evil Brigade!- Furious, the Seven decide to act directly. The joke villain Punchline, another member of the Seven, issues a public challenge to the New All-Americans. It is a ruse to get the heroes out in the open so they can be ruthlessly eliminated in full view of the public eye.

It’s a brawl, baby- The New All-Americans know a trick when they see one but arrive at the fight ready to prove their worth anyway. It is clear after a minute or two of fighting that something is very wrong. Just as the fight seems to be going in their favor, they are ambushed by an experienced black ops wet work team. The ambush only fails thanks to Alan’s timely intervention. Punchline is sent to jail along with his minions while the ambushers escape. Alan finds the heroes in shambles, shaken and seriously pissed off. He tells them what true heroes would do, what he failed to do all those years ago.

Flashbacks for everyone- Alan tells them what happened on the day he quit superheroics. He lost three teammates, friends, who were eliminated by Overwatch during an operation in Seattle. He only made it out alive because he kept his mouth shut all these years, a decision that haunts him still. The event that drew Alan and the American Hero Society to Seattle was the infamous Killer May Day riots which were orchestrated by Overwatch. Evan’s older brother and James’ best friend, Raj, died in the riots. Mallory lost her aunt that day as well because the aunt was secretly a superhero and one of Alan’s close friends. They realize that the Killer May Day riots were just a dress rehearsal for what’s to come. The All-American had stumbled upon one piece of the puzzle but didn’t know enough to act and became the first casualty. With so many young and inexperienced heroes in the city for the Centennial, a blood bath will surely ensue once civil disorder breaks out en masse, tarnishing super heroes in the eyes of the public and shaping super-politics for the next decade.



Seventh Sequence

Balls to the wall action, guns ablazing! Revenge is best served hot!

Menage a Troy- The Threesome want their payday so they strike again only to fall into their own trap. Using intel found on the Threesomes’ persons, the heroes trace their activity back to the black fund where all the money ends up. From there they find the whereabouts of the wetwork team that attacked them, the same ones responsible for the All-American’s murder!

Justice for a True American- The team behind the All-American’s assassination realize they are being hunted and go to ground, staying dark as long as they need. One of them is cornered and caught before they can escape. This leads the heroes right to the heart of the Seven’s headquarters. The Centennial is days away and events are already in motion, events the heroes can’t stop.

Final Showdown- Interior: Opulent Office Building. The leader of the Seven dismisses the others and takes on the heroes, asking them piercing questions about the origin of things, of superheroes and wacky costumes and “crime fighting”. She tells them that all of society is enslaved by a manufactured narrative that primarily serves the interests of the elite while the greatest human revolution in history is continually stifled. Status Quo is king. The Seven realized the truth and have worked tirelessly for almost a decade to bring this manufactured order down. The leader is defeated by Evan.


Eighth Sequence

Happy Endings? Not for everyone.

A New Dawn- Evan has to choose between life and death. He chooses to be a better man and lets the boss live, even as she taunts him, saying that the hero narrative has already taken him over by preventing him from doing the responsible thing. She says she will get a lesser sentence for sure since the FBI want what she knows about the others in the Seven and Overwatch in general. “I’ll be out before you know it”. Alan arrives with the authorities in tow and they take the leader into custody. Evan reflects on his decision. Beacon’s connection to the Seven is exposed and he is taken into custody by his teammates. The German Powerhouse, Zerstorer, becomes the new leader of the Nationals.

New Age of Heroes- Civil disorder breaks out on the Centennial as planned but without the Spider Lords as agents provocateurs and the rest of the Seven’s logistics in ruin, the police and super heroes are able to peacefully round up aggressors and keep full blown riots from breaking out. Many young men and women are inspired by the New All-Americans to become heroes themselves, if not outright superheroes.

Wrap up- Alan treats the heroes to a night out and a tour of his old base. He is tempted, but decides against putting the mask back on. He congratulates the heroes on their determination and fortitude in the face of ball-smackingly fierce odds. He decides to open up a private investigation company like he’s always dreamed.

8 responses to “Origin Outline”

  1. I can see where this would work for your personal work. However for it to be submitted to an agent or publisher it would need more definition.

    Here’s a quote about what to include in an outline:

    For fiction books, each chapter outline will serve as a synopsis of what will occur in that particular chapter. Characters are introduced, the plot progression is shown, and the areas of conflict and climax are revealed. Although fiction chapter outlines only provide a brief summary of each chapter, they need to be compelling and attention getting if you want the editor to continue reading into your sample chapters. If the outline is boring, why would an editor want to read even more of the same boring story? Use descriptive verbs and catchy lines to hook your reader with each chapter summary.

    Of course, that is for a proposal, but it benefits you to outline your book from the get-go because outlining it afterward is, to put it mildly, difficult.

    If you work in Scrivener you can put your outline in the synopsis section, and compile it in a document separate from your book.

    Happy writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feed back. Luckily I have a whole month to get this into a nicer, neater form. Gotta start thinking in terms of editors and proposals if I want get somewhere and be somebody after all!


  2. That should be detailed enough to really get you or keep you going. It sounds like an interesting and fun read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback N.E. Montgomery. Glad you found it interesting 🙂


  3. Hi StarNinja – as a cape comics nerd, this is up my alley! Here are some thoughts on your outline:
    -It’s hard to tell based just on an outline, but it seems like there’s too much time passing between Evan talking about the death of the All-American at support group, and AA actually dying in real time in the novel. Hard to have much suspense when we know for so long what’s coming; I would be wanting to see what happened AFTER AA’s death right away since I already know he’s going to die.
    -I’m a little confused by the timing of the Centennial. It says AA’s speech was to kick off “Hundred Years of Heroes”, but then also the Centennial doesn’t start for a month? How does that work?
    -Not sure how the sex trade business ties into the rest. Is it just there to be titillating? To make the bad guys Really Really Bad? How does it play into the bigger picture?
    -Might want to lay a little groundwork on the Spider Lords before Evan winds up on their hit list; otherwise them turning out to be a front for even bigger scarier bad guys doesn’t have much punch.
    -I get that Beacon is in league with the Seven and that’s why he doesn’t do anything about the crime wave, but why don’t any other big name superheroes do anything about it – the German who becomes the leader of the Nationals, for example?
    -If Alan wants the New All Americans to stay out of this investigation, why would he tell them the name “Overwatch”, a possible lead they could look into?
    -The goals of the Seven and how the assassination of AA ties into all this is super unclear to me. They sound sort of just evil for the sake of evil, and while you hint at something more in the confrontation scene, I think you need more space for this idea to play out.
    -I’m not sure of the utility of the support group frame story. Or if you do use it, I feel like more of the story-within-the-story should revolve specifically around AA and how and why he was involved (and why he was acting oddly? Is that ever resolved?)

    Hope that’s helpful! Thanks for sharing your outline!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the read, Aimee! 🙂 You bring up a lot of great points that I will have to consider, but here’s what I can address in the short term.

      1. I’m not sure how it’s going to shake out in the end, but so far the time between the support group scene and the actual death of AA is about a few pages tops. In universe, it’s maybe a year or more. Perhaps that’s too long, perhaps not, but when I think about starting in media res with the assassination, I have trouble getting enough exposition in there so people know what’s going on. Who is AA? Why should we care about him other than the author saying he’s an important guy? Does the story start with his head exploding or seconds before that? Is it instant? Slow and painful? Starting with a powerful action sequence sounds great in theory but I feel like it ends up being too confusing to the reader. Not sure what shape will work best yet and was hoping the framing device of the support group would give a soft introduction to normal people in a world of superheroes. I’m sure there’s a better way to do it, but I haven’t found it yet! 😛
      2. The “Hundred Years of Heroes” is a month long festival/celebration/blatant money grabbing event that the city of Seattle is throwing to attract heroes to the city and what better excuse than the Centennial of Superhumans to do so? It’s sort of like the World Cup, Olympics, and 50 Comic Cons coming to town, or so city officials hope. That Light Rail won’t pay for itself!
      3. The sex trade thing is supposed to be the local crime flavor/ easy moral stance but there are a few plot elements that tie into the bigger picture. At the risk of getting too spoilery, I will say that a lot of people go missing the sex trade and it’s also a great cover for human or perhaps superhuman smuggling? (wink wink, nudge nudge). If this was LA the big money stuff would have been Cocaine and Heroin or Ecstasy is this was Portland, but in Washington State it’s mostly Sex and Counterfeit Merchandise and since knock off Seahawks gear ain’t exactly compelling, I went with the sex trade.
      4. The Spider Lords show up early on, but they’re just one of many gangs in the area. I’ll have to adjust my outline to reflect that. Thanks for the catch!
      5. To understand the other Nationals’ actions, you have to understand Beacon. He is true to his name, a great leader and charismatic authority whose personality tends to bulldoze over others. Not to say there isn’t disagreement and strife as Zerstorer urges the team to take action, but that happens behinds the scenes. Also, though I mentioned it, I didn’t emphasize enough that there were other Nationals who participated in this do nothing campaign. Nationals that AA had dirt on btw. They’re not directly involved with the Seven, and in fact their goals run counter to the Seven’s in many cases, but when opportunity presents itself…
      6. Alan underestimates the main characters. He hoped bringing up the big scary name Overwatch and telling them why it’s big and scary would deter them.
      7. Once again, at the risk of getting too spoilery, the goals of the Seven are simply put, to change the world. There is a reason why people have been dressing in flashy costumes and “fighting crime” since the 30’s instead of curing cancer or colonizing Saturn. The origin of this Status Quo that the Seven want to eliminate is one of the questions I wanted to explore in the novel. Though it’s not very well reflected in the outline, the idea that this all didn’t happen naturally and actually came from somewhere will come up again and again and hints and clues as to where it all in fact came from will surface. The Seven’s plan for Seattle is to turn the city into a nightmarish hellscape under martial law. AA’s assassination is step one of this ambitious plan. The optics of it will soil Superheroes and push the public away from admiration towards neutrality and eventually vitriol. If that’s too heady, then I guess a better way to think of it is the bad guys ripping Superman’s cape off and pushing him in the mud. “I will destroy your reputation, hero!”
      8. As in point 1, the support group is just one idea among a few that I can’t make work quite yet. AA is more than just the inciting incident to be sure, but in the end he’s only one small piece of a giant puzzle. As for your other question, he was acting oddly because of what he knew about the Seven and their plan but couldn’t act on it because of push back from his teammates, specifically Beacon (who has his own plans on how to exploit the chaos that the Seven are going to unleash). I know that probably sounds confusing as hell, but it will all make sense in the end I hope. Fingers crossed!
      Thanks for the feedback. That was all very helpful, Aimee


  4. It sounds really interesting, my one comment would be that the main characters don’t seem to be in the action at the beginning. I don’t know if I’m misunderstanding the outline, but it seems like they spend a good chunk of the first act observing the plot instead of participating. Apart from that it sound like a book I’d love to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback, dcxli! Yeah, I’ve been trying to make Act I sound more like participating and less like observing, but it’s tough. On the bright side, Act I is really short compared to the rest of the novel so the non-powered main characters don’t sit around feeling and being powerless for very long. Super powers or not, the truth must come out! I appreciate you taking the time to read my outline 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: