Saturday, November 3, 2007

Submissions: Can I Write For You? part 2

Picking up from yesterday, here are a few more things to consider when submitting a story to Flashback Universe...

3) Be prepared for a lot of tweaking by me (or your editor) as you work on your story.
Now, this really isn't a rule that's exclusive to the Flashback Universe. Any professional company that pays for writing has this rule. And in actuality, many companies won't go through the trouble of suggesting story tweaks, but rather just say, "No, thanks." without ever telling you why. Which really doesn't help you as a writer I'm sad to say. So, when I'm tweaking your story, realize I'm trying to help you develop the best Flashback Universe story I think you are capable of. Any help from someone who's going to pay you for your story is something you should fully respect.

For instance, the second story I ever published professionally was a horror story I submitted to a small press magazine called DeathRealm. Well, on the first submission, Mark Rainey, the editor, passed on the story, but said it showed promise. He didn't say exactly what was good and what needed work, so I did the unthinkable...

...I called up Mark (this was before e-mail) and asked him what he liked and what he didn't like. He told me my dialogue was stilted and one action scene dragged a little. I thanked him for the criticism and then I did another unthinkable thing...

...I changed my dialogue and fixed the action scene exactly as he suggested. then I sent it back to him with a note saying, I made the changes you suggested, and I think it's a much better story now.

Mark agreed. My story got published and I got paid.

So, to circle back around to my point, when I am reading your submission, I am thinking about how much money it will cost me to publish your story, and will it add to the overall mise en scene of the Flashback Universe. So, if I ask for 2 or 12 story changes, be prepared to work with me on them. Some will be things I won't compromise on. Some will be things we can discuss and meet in the middle on.

For example, and I'm going to pick on Chad Bowers here for a second...Chad's currently working on a Prometheus story. And to be honest, I've just gotta think Chad must hate me at this point, because I've made about a zillion suggestions to his story so far. (NOTE: not because Chad's story is deficit in anyway, but because Chad comes up with these GREAT ideas, and I like to push him to flesh them out more in his story.)

So far Chad's been a true professional, and rolled with every suggestion I've given him (when I was adamant about them.) A lot of these suggestions are prefaced with the phrase: Here's an idea, but I'm not married to it... meaning just that - I'm suggesting something for the writer to consider, but I'll be okay if the writer decides to not use this suggestion.

Now, a lot of this may sound like common sense to most people who want to work as writers, but I'm sorry to say, it's not. A lot of people who want to submit stories get all freaked out when you, the guy *paying* for the story dare suggest that they make a change to their story.

To those writers I say, That's cool - you have an artistic vision and don't want to compromise it. I can respect that. However, you should really just publish your own story then because you'll may never be happy working for other people.
:)

6 comments:

Caine Dorr said...

If you're half as good an editor as you your self have experienced in the past I don't think people will mind working with you...

JayDubya said...

2 questions:

1. If one were to submit something, would it have to be a story about an exhisting Flashback character or could it be something original?

2. The Flashback U. is about Bronze Agey stories, but are they restricted to any particular time period (60's, present,...)?

JimShelley said...

Caine,

What a nice thing to say! I try *very* hard to be a good editor, always supplying a healthy amount of good comments among the needful criticisms. :)

JimShelley said...

jaydubya,

Yeah, the stories need to be Flashback characters (for your first story).

2) No, it's not so much a time period thing as a mind set thing. The 70's Marvel/DC had a certain naivete about political/social problemes that made their stories quaint, yet very enjoyable. Sort of like an Aesops fable told by Ayn Rand...

Not sure that helps you much. Feel free to ping me for more help.

Caine Dorr said...

Hey Jim
Can you do a post on creating characters based on archetypes? I wonder if you've used all (or at least most) of the most popular and standard (if you can call them that)archtypes? For instance, is Saturn Knight "The Barer of The Ultimate Weapon" much like Green Lantern?

JimShelley said...

Caine,

Great suggestion! I think I have a way to tie your idea into post about my experiences with Mark Gruenwald...

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