Let them know where the story is going as soon as possible. If the reader isn’t hooked by page 2, they usually put the writing sample down and move on to the next submission.
You Can’t Play it Safe
A story has to take chances to stand out. Typical stories are less likely to get published.
Smart with Heart
Characters who use their heads and hearts reflect well on the writer.
Stories that reflect on life and the human condition will stay with the reader.
Proofread it Again
And then again. Typos take the reader out of the story and reflect poorly on the writer.
If a writer loved a story or character when they were a kid, they shouldn’t try to re-create that story. We’re looking for new voices, new styles.
Conflict — Not Perfection — Is King
Heroes aren’t perfect. You may consider them icons, but icons don’t make for very interesting stories.
Let Your Lead Lead
The main plot should be about the lead character — if Batman can be replaced by a dozen other characters, it’s not a Batman story. The best stories are character studies.
Be Aware of the Precious Real Estate
A typical DC comic is 20 story pages. Writers must make sure to:
- ESTABLISH ALL CHARACTERS AND PLACES. An establishing shot at the top of the page is typical. Always set the scene and incorporate who the characters are, how they relate to one another, and what their powers are in the least amount of room possible.
- THINK VISUALLY. Showing powers, and action, is key. Remember, you have no “budget” — don’t have people sitting around in a diner, at a table, in a bar, in a warehouse too much. We’re not TV and we don’t pay for the sets.
- SHOW CHARACTERS’ REAL-LIFE PERSONAS AND SUPERHERO PERSONAS. ‘Nuff said.
- TREAT THE CHARACTERS BADLY. Don’t have easily defeated villains. The villain can WIN. Don’t sacrifice a good villain just to make your hero look good.
In order to see how well a writer handles the characters, how they pace out a story, and see how well they handle story structure, etc., this is what we typically look for in a story.
TITLE (your story title, not the name of the character)
by XXX (your name on the story)
TARGET AUDIENCE: (EXAMPLE: Comic book fans of DC’s YOUNG JUSTICE and Edge comics and mass-market fans of the Twilight and of TV shows like True Blood and Vampire Diaries.)
MARKETING HOOK: (EXAMPLE: Ever feel like an outsider, a freak or a monster? Ever feel that someone rejected you because they didn’t take the time to really know you? That you had something special to contribute, but no one would give you the chance to prove it? That they only judged you on your appearance or some other surface detail? That you possessed a secret too terrible or shocking to share? And that appearances can be very deceiving? Then this series is for you!)
HIGH CONCEPT: (HOLLYWOODSPEAK. EXAMPLE: A cross between Dexter and Supernatural—with a little Southland added to the mix.)
THE MAIN CHARACTER/S: (Hero and real-life personas — what do they do for a living, and in their downtime? How do they interact/conflict with the other characters? Etc.)
THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS:
WHY DOES/DO THE MAIN CHARACTER/S WANT TO BE WHO THEY ARE (SUPERHERO, ANTI-HERO, VILLAIN)?
STORY ENGINES (what plot devices/events drive the stories?)
MELODRAMA (what personal subplots do the characters have, internal conflicts with each other…?)
Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee
101 Plots Used and Abused by James N. Young
Publisher: The Writer Inc.
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters by Christopher Vogler
Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith