Archive for the 'Mail Call' Category

Nov 26 2010

Mail Call (comic synopses, writing jobs and love interests)

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.

Here are some questions I got from letters and Google queries.

How long should a comic synopsis be? For a series, 2-5 double-spaced pages.  For a single issue (a standalone/one-shot), one single-spaced page.

Does a hero need a love interest? No, but it’s a nice change of pace for the hero to do something besides superpowered brawls all the time. Romances are one option.  Other options include the protagonists’ work, school, family, protecting one’s alternate identity, relationships between teammates and/or relationships between the heroes and side characters, etc.

How to write an synopsis for comics. The hardest part is condensing your story into an interesting and easily understood form.  In addition to the advice of Warren Ellis, I’d highly recommend checking out Query Shark and Flogging the Quill for examples of how novelists condensed their stories.  Once you have that down, the synopsis should be easy.  Other notes: Focus on the main elements, rather than getting bogged down in peripheral details, and I think the main character is usually the best point-of-entry for new readers.  (If you need to lay out the premise or setting before getting to the main character, please make it quick).

Can a carrot be a protagonist? Survey says no.

How can I get published with DC Comics? Like Marvel, DC doesn’t accept unsolicited scripts. Most of their writers started for other publishers and then got an offer from DC or Marvel.  Alternately, you can start working for DC (or Marvel) in some other capacity, like editing or sales or promotions or whatever, and then move laterally within the company.

How do I write for Marvel Comics? Same as DC: Get known somewhere else, OR start working for Marvel in another capacity and move laterally.  Unlike DC, Marvel has a ton of (unpaid) internships, so that’s one way to get started there.  I’d particularly recommend looking at editorial and editorial operations internships because those involve the most work with writers.

How can I get DC’s attention? + comic writting. I think most of the people that have a chance at a career in writing (for any company) are so good at basic writing craft that it’s purely instinctive.   You’ll obviously put more thought into your professional work than a Google query, but misspelling “writing” may suggest that brushing up on your mechanics would help.   As for getting DC’s attention, I think the easiest ways are to publish elsewhere (preferably a superhero comic, since that’s their focus) and/or work at DC.

How do first-time novelists get their books published? First, finish the manuscript and rewrite as much as necessary.  (The ideal length for an adult novel’s manuscript is ~70,000-90,000 words). After you’re ready to submit, you can send out queries (page-long proposals laying out your project) to literary agents or directly to publishers.  For more advice on the querying process, I’d highly recommend Query Shark’s reviews of queries and Flogging the Quill’s reviews of first pages.

How long should a comic book be? It depends on which publishers you’re looking at, but usually something on the order of 22-24 pages of content. (Some pages of comic may need more than 1 page to script, so the script may be a bit longer).

How many chromosomes would a superhero have? 46 if he’s a human, 18 if he’s a carrot, and almost certainly irrelevant regardless.

Give me an essay on if I were a superhero. Write your own, hippie.

Why are so few homeless people found in Canada? Because the moose eat the bones.

17 responses so far