Archive for November, 2009

Nov 30 2009

Prospective Colorer #2: C.H. Sinn

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

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7 responses so far

Nov 27 2009

Marvel and DC don’t read unsolicited scripts– who does?

Optimum Wound has a very useful list of comic book publishers that are accepting unsolicited submissionsMarvel and DC do not accept unsolicited scripts.  (If you’re dead-set on starting out with them anyway, I’d recommend getting a job with them in some other capacity, like editing or sales, and then moving laterally).

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Nov 27 2009

Janet Reid’s Query Count

Janet Reid tallied up a day’s worth of queries.  (A query is a letter asking an agent to represent your novel). 

I’m getting impatient with writers who can’t seem to tell me what their book is about. I get lists of characters, descriptions of setting and events, but nothing about choices/conflict/decisions. 

I started at 10 pm with 68 queries. 

  • Query letter missing too much plot: 21
  • Not enticing: 12
  • Nothing fresh or original: 8
  • Not right for me but someone else will snag happily: 6
  • Writer clearly uninformed about genre or category s/he intends to write in: 3.  (B. Mac adds: a common mistake here is using the phrase “fiction novel.”  Novels are ALWAYS fiction, so “fiction novel” makes the author sound uninformed). 
  • No platform (non-fiction queries only): 2.  (A platform is a tool used to market a book or author.  For example, this website.  They’re only required for nonfiction authors). 
  • Just plain old bad writing: 4
  • I don’t think I can sell books in this category: 4
  • Overwritten (probably should be included in bad writing): 1
  • Unable to suspend disbelief (also bad writing): 1
  • Writer is a crackpot: 2.  (Dammit!  I wish I had known that this was a disqualifier before I started writing). 
  • Topics I really loathe: 2
  • Queries set aside to read more closely: 2

A parting thought for you:  decisions and conflicts are the intersection of character and plot.  Don’t neglect them!

2 responses so far

Nov 26 2009

Two minor reminders: registration and a new reader survey

1.  Please take my comic book survey! Thanks.  It’ll take about five minutes and will help me get my comic book published. 

2.  Registered SN users can use HTML coding in comments and access our comment search-engine by going down to the link that says Site Admin at the bottom.  (Nonregistered users can only see the 15 most recent comments).  If you haven’t registered, why not? It’s free!

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Nov 26 2009

What every novelist should know about the publishing industry

This Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for Seth Godin’s advice for authors and Mark Hurst’s secrets of publishing.  These aren’t designed with comic book writers in mind, but a lot of the information is useful for them as well.  (If you’re interested in writing comic books, please read my comment below— I picked out a few details that I think are particularly useful for the comic book industry). 

(Also, outside of the realm of publishing, I’m also very grateful for Air Force Materiel Command in particular, because logistics is never as sexy as dropping the bombs but at least as important).

One response so far

Nov 24 2009

An easy mistake for prospective novelists and comic book writers…

Novelists, make sure that your synopsis covers the material in your sample chapters.  That might sound unnecessary– if they can read the chapters, why do they need the summary?  Because you don’t know that the editors will read the chapters first.  If the editor picks up the synopsis and it starts at chapter 4, you’ll force him out of his comfort zone.  Not a good plan. 

Comic book writers, some publishers (like Image) ask that you include sample pages illustrated when you submit your proposal.  If you include sample pages, make sure the script includes those pages even though the editor can SEE those pages. First, this keeps the editor from getting totally confused if he misplaces the sample pages. Second, it allows the editor figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with the sample pages.  For example, let’s say the backgrounds and side-characters look very boring in a particular sample.  If the editor didn’t have the script in front of him, he’d probably conclude that the colorist wasn’t very good.  But if the script says something like “Make sure that his office and coworkers look as drab as possible so that we’ll cheer for him to get a new job,” then it makes sense that the sample pages would have some drabness. If the editor knows that the drabness is intentional, then it’s a sign of the colorist’s ability to set the mood, NOT incompetence. If the editor knows what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s easier to tell whether you’ve succeeded.

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Nov 24 2009

Version 1.1 is ready!

Since it would be really annoying for me to keep e-mailing people whenever I have a new version ready, I’ll post the versions online.  HOWEVER, for security reasons I have to use a password– to open the document, the password is my first name (no capitals).  If you don’t know what my first name is, please e-mail me and I’ll tell you.  Alternately, you could just try guessing male names that begin with b– it would probably be faster.  

This is a hassle for everyone, and I apologize, but this helps me avoid the nightmare scenario of a complete script going viral before people have a chance to buy it.  

Script version 1.1, pages 1-37

A summary of changes from 1.0 to 1.1: 

  • I removed about two pages worth of material, including most of the side-scene with the cabbie and the page where he signs a legal contract.  
  • The “Jebediah Whateley” tangent is completely gone.  It was convoluted and didn’t add anything. 
  • I’ve started sharpening a few of the scenes, mainly Gary-Orange and Gary-Felix. 

4 responses so far

Nov 24 2009

My first draft is ready!

The first draft of my first issue is done at 36 pages. If you’d like me to send you a copy, please let me know.

5 responses so far

Nov 23 2009

34 pages!

So far I’m up to 34 pages on my first comic book issue. I think the first draft will be ~40 pages and then I’ll edit that down to a final draft of 32 pages. I terribly underestimated the amount of space I would need for each scene. For example, in my original outline, I estimated the two main characters would meet on page 8. As actually written, they meet on page 28.

Anyway, if you’d like to review the first draft, I will have that ready by Friday. If you’re interested, please let me know so that I can e-mail it to you.

9 responses so far

Nov 22 2009

What goes into a comic book submission?

Short answer: usually some combination of…

  1. Script of the first issue.
  2. Synopsis of the larger work (either the first issue, arc or series as a whole).
  3. Sample pages inked, colored and lettered.

For a more detailed look at these three items, I’ll focus on Dark Horse specifically because I think DH is pretty standard.  But always check the publisher’s submissions page.  For example, Dark Horse’s submissions page is here and Image’s is here.

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5 responses so far

Nov 21 2009

Twilight Drinking Game

Published by under Comedy

Dammit.  Lady-friends roped me into Twilight tonight.  At least something good will come out of this: a drinking game. 

  1. Take a sip every time someone broods.  (Small sip– save some room for #4 and #5). 
  2. Take a drink every time there’s a product placement.  (I counted 7).  
  3. Take a drink every time someone uses the word “understand.”  Take two drinks every time someone uses the phrase “you don’t understand” or “you can’t understand.” 
  4. Take a drink every time someone compliments Bella or declares his devotion for her. 
  5. Take two drinks every time the audience cheers at a shirtless male or an expression of love.
  6. Take a drink everytime the audience laughs at something so bad it’s funny.  Take two drinks when a sparkly Edward and a sparkly Bella take a romp through a Disney-like forest. 
  7. Take a drink every time the audience laughs at something that’s actually meant to be funny.  Take two drinks during the Face Punch scene.

10 responses so far

Nov 18 2009

The Chozen’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below. Thanks.

4 responses so far

Nov 18 2009

Prospective Colorist #1: Emily

Published by under Art,Making Art

Emily is the first of three prospective colorers that I’m evaluating for my comic book series. What do you think about this page?  (Note: if it’s cut off, just right click it and hit “View Image”). 

Below, I’ve included the script for the page.
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23 responses so far

Nov 15 2009

A1Writer’s Review Forum

Published by under Review Forums

Please see the comments below.  Thanks!

8 responses so far

Nov 15 2009

How to Communicate with Agents and Editors

When you’re ready to submit your novel or comic book to an agent or publisher, these tips will help you make the sell.

1.  The only goal of your submission is to convince a publishing professional that your novel or comic book is likely to sell thousands of copies. Nothing else matters.

2.  Follow the instructions on their website. Most agents and publishers will have submissions pages that lay out what they want to see.  In most cases, it’s best to provide just what’s on the list and nothing else.  (Exception: if you’re submitting a comic book script, consider submitting some inked or colored pages even if they aren’t required– these pages will help the editor decide very quickly whether your proposal is serious).

3.  Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Trying to impress a publishing professional without clean writing is like trying to run a filthy restaurant.  It really doesn’t matter how good the cooking is–customers will run out screaming anyway.  Proofread or perish.  Not many publishing professionals would bet tens of thousands of dollars on an unpolished writer.

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13 responses so far

Nov 13 2009

A suitably brief guide to conciseness

  • “Does this develop an important character or advance the plot in a meaningful way?”  If not, it’s a strong candidate for deletion.  (To make scenery meaningful, draw it into the story– let characters interact with it or use atmospherics to develop the mood, etc). 
  • “Is there a better, faster way to show this?”  For example, rather than go through a scene establishing a minor character’s incompetence, perhaps you can just mention some of his spectacular failings in passing. 
  • “Is this redundant?”  I’d only recommend hammering the same point repeatedly if it’s really important. 
  • “Am I focusing on what is most important?”  Don’t waste our time on the small stuff.  Spending 25 pages searching for a minor artifact is probably unacceptable but spending hundreds of pages getting Ulysses from Troy to Ithaca obviously works. 
  • “Is this coherent?”  If it’s just a minor tangent that goes nowhere, get rid of it.  Additionally, try to tie together plot points as much as possible.   For example, if the superhero has a day job, ideally his work contributes to the plot in some way.  Maybe he uses his skills as a journalist to investigate Lex Luthor.  Maybe his struggles to hold down a pizza-delivery job show how much he’s sacrificing to be a superhero.   

4 responses so far

Nov 09 2009

Making the Sell: A Few Tips on Submitting a Comic Book Script

1.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. The instructions take precedence over everything else. If you fail to meet the guidelines provided by the comic book publisher on its submissions page, you are dead on arrival.  For example, you can see Dark Horse’s submissions guidelines here and Image’s here.  (By the way, Marvel and DC don’t accept unsolicited submissions– either they call you because they’re impressed by what you have already published, or you start working for them in some other capacity and move laterally)

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9 responses so far

Nov 03 2009

How to Write Distinct Characters

Published by under Character Development

Your readers have probably read about heroes with any given positive trait, particularly if the trait is commonly associated with a protagonist in your type of book.  (For example, a detective is almost always more cunning than a barbarian).  However, this is not inherently problematic.  If you’re writing a detective story, your protagonist is probably (at least somewhat) cunning because it wouldn’t be much of a detective story if he just bumbled through it Magoo-style.  It’s not a problem that he’s cunning as long as you do something else to make sure that he feels fresh. 

1.  One way to make a character with a conventional trait (like a cunning detective) and take the trait so far it almost becomes a flaw.  For example, Captain Kirk is so brave he’s reckless, Charlie becomes so smart he’s alienated, many lawyers are so slick they’re oily, etc. 

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One response so far

Nov 01 2009

The Surrealist Compliment Generator

Published by under Research and Resources

Hilariously awkward?  An informative exercise in voice?  See for yourself

  • You are as effective as a linear geometry based upon the Maginot Line.
  • In your absence I will find other forms of praise. 
  • I do sense that your basement is made of skin and never lacks for nurses. 
  • You have been blessed with the egregious qualities of a duffle-bag in His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
  • As the bile slowly rises in my incandescent eluxulator, your mere presence has a calming effect upon my rabies.

2 responses so far