By Beau Smith
Well, the New Year is under way and already people are all over me to do more work. Of course I’ll be doin’ my IDW Publishing work? I get paid for that. The kinda work I’m talkin’ about comes in the form of letters and email.
There are all kinds of folks that figure that they know me? personal like. This comes from me havin’ such a sunny personality. Ya know? bein’ so damn affable. Then again, it could be because I owe folks money, favors and promises of never havin’ sex with their sisters or girlfriends under threat of the law.
Either way? they all wanna know what I know. In most cases they wanna be writers. They wanna take food out of my mouth. Money outta my pocket. Puttin’ a threat on my livelihood!
They wanna know how ya structure a script with dialogue. I mean a real full script. Not one of those cheap Marvel plots. Ya know the type? where the writer gets paid a bunch of money to scribble a few lines on paper and then the poor artist comes in, makes it a great lookin’ story, then the writer comes back in and throws a few tired old lines on the page and then tells ya that what comes out of his ass don’t stink.
They even wanna know how ya write a proposal. Now lemme tell ya, writin’ a proposal is really the hard part. Ya got about a page to two pages tops to grab the editor’s interest. As I’ve mentioned in columns before, editors don’t like to read uninvited stuff. I have to say, you ask most any real writer and they’ll tell ya? just like a pretty girl? proposals ain’t easy.
So, again, bein’ the “favorite uncle” to everyone in the business, I figured I’d let all of ya in on what a proposal should look and read like. Like a DVD, you’re even gonna get the extra feature of seein’ a full script and some eye candy of art.
First off what you’re gonna be exposed to is a proposal that me and my buddy Scot Eaton (The Mighty Thor, Sigil) and I created. This is one of the new projects that Scot and I will be shopping around this year. So you get the exclusive first look at it? even before any editors.
The proposal is posted here with the column. Jason Brice the head honcho here at Silver Bullet has got it up here for ya to read over with the other stuff. You’ll be able to scope it out and see what I’m yammerin’ about.
First off, as you can see, this is the proposal for Maximum Jack: Danger 911. A semi-super-hero book. That tells ya there is a need a title for your book and character right off.
Put down just who is writin and drawin’ it. I really suggest a attach your ass to an artist if ya can. It sure helps comin’ in as a package. Take care of your copyright and trademark work. If ya got a lawyer that helps as well. The web is filled with all sorts of sites that tell ya how to do it. I’m not gonna bore the crap out of ya here with that. I had to look it up a long time ago? now it’s your turn.
Remember when you are writin’ your proposal that ya gotta market this thing to the editor. Ya gotta do that with wit, smarts and bein’ good at gettin’ to the point. The hard part is tryin’ to keep it fairly short and to the point. Think of a babe wearin’ a tube top and a short skirt? ya show just enough to get em’ interested and wantin’ more? but none of it comes for free. We’re lookin’ for a serious commitment.
Break the paragraphs up into short segments. Nobody wants to read a big ass block of type. That’ll get it in the trash can fast. You should lead the editor eyes on a bread crumb trail? takin’ em’ right where ya want em’. Ya give em’ just enough details to make em’ interested, but not too much so they get bored.
Always try and cut as much fat out of it as ya can. Please try and resist from goin’ on and on about the story. You’ll lose em’. Tell em’ about the character. If ya make em’ interested in the character then that means the readers will be interested too. A good editor will also know this.
Your proposal should also be like a subtle sales sheet. Let that editor see how this character could be sold and marketed. The middle of the proposal should be the heart. This is where you let em’ know what the book is gonna be about. Think of it as describing a movie. Remember: don’t get wordy or too into the story. Ya gotta be good at summin’ things up in an entertaining, informative way. That, my friend, is KEY!
If ya gotta compare it with anything then I suggest ya compare it to films or TV shows. That way ya don’t step on any toes and they still get what you’re talkin’ about.
While tellin’ em’ what the book is, also make sure ya tell em’ what it’s not. I suggest ya do that in a very careful way. Ya wanna watch what ya compare it to. It’s a tight line. Ya gotta compare it to things they know and still keep from pissin” em’ off.
The wrap up should be short and sweet. Give em’ an idea on how you see it being. A mini-series, a monthly, a one shot, and so on.
If you can think of a tag line then use it. Make sure it’s good. If ya got doubts then pass. Better to pass than to muck it up with something corny. This is something that not everyone is good at. But if ya got it? use it!
Of course you gotta include all your contact info. That is super important.
Now look at the proposal I’ve posted here and check it out. Read it a couple of times and use it as a guideline to what you wanna do.
Next is a very short sample script. This will let the editor know that you can write one and know the format. It’ll also help establish your character to em’. Let em’ get a feel of what it’ll be. I’ve also got that posted here. Read it, you ‘ll see that I’ve given them a lot of “normal” settings, introduced all the main characters, and given them some action all in 2 pages. With this the editor will see that you can set story telling and pacing up. That you know how to do dialogue and that you can write a page-turner. Not enough writers know how to get a reader to turn a page with pacing. With this I also wrapped it up with a “punch line”. This could be at any point in a story. You give em’ a segment.
If you hook up with an artist, it’d be great to have em’ draw this sample script. It always helps. I ya don’t then read the next paragraph.
Artwork. As you can see posted here. Scot did up some sketch work for the character. Kinda like a cover or a movie poster. This is big and ya wanna get the editor’s eyes. This should tell what the character is all about with one grand eye pop. Think trailer in a movie. If ya have any extra art, add that in as well. Unlike text, the more art ya go the better!
I wanna suggest that ya make up a nice little package of all of it. Go to the office supply place? steal it from work, whatever ya gotta do. Make a nice presentation package out of it. The better it is the more guilty an editor will feel about chuckin’ it in the trash. Ya also make em’ remember ya.
Ya also wanna follow the package up by contactin’ the editor via phone, email, and letter, whatever ya can get always with. It doesn’t hurt to be relentless? to a point. Always be professional. Don’t ever say you’re sorry about anything. That shoves them into the Alpha male role. You don’t want that. It’s all a matter of whose hair stands up on the back the best? try and keep it on an equal line. Don’t be a turd or a nerd. Ya gotta watch how ya present yourself. Sometimes the less ya say the better. Nothing wrong with an awkward pause? as long as ya make then awkward.
Now I’m not sayin’ that by lookin’ my stuff over that you’re gonna get a job. Nope. All this is here for is to give ya a rough idea on what you’ll need. A basic guideline. You can check with other writers and see what they say. Then ya take anything that everyone mentions and use that for sure.
Look at other proposals and scripts. The best ones to look at are ones that worked and were made into books. I thought by lettin’ ya see this one you cold get that ground floor feelin’ that ya need to start this stuff out.
Now, also remember that I might be able to answer some short questions, but I’m not gonna be able to read and comment on your proposals and scripts. If I did that? I’d be out of work? the time just ain’t there. ‘Sides, there is always that threat that if I’m outta work then I’m livin’ with you.
Unless you’re an incredible, rich babe? livin’ with you is not high on my “Must Do List”. I’m sure you understand.
So get goin’. Start workin’ on your proposal. Get out there and help me take work from those Nancy-Boy British writers! Remember? later? when you’re pickin’ up your Eisner or Wizard award? ya better thank me or I’ll jump down your throat and tap dance on your lungs.
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