This is the basic guidelines for writing for the site. Bear in mind that the phrase here is “Guidelines”, not hard and fast rules for the most part. The goal of this site is to provide quality writing that puts story first, and avoids the standard clichés of comic books. For that to happen, standards have to be kept high, so the following do apply.
(And yes, this is a wall of text. You are a writer. Should make you happy.)
- Please put as much time and effort into your pitches as possible. Submissions filled with spelling and grammar errors (with the exception of intentional errors in dialogue) will cause anyone here reading it to downgrade your submission unless the concept is just THAT outstanding. Hint: It’s probably not.
- We want writers who are familiar with the NO-Earth universe. Read the comics! Read the background! Read the Timeline! Watch the Videos! If you have not done this, it is going to show, and frankly, the idea that you would pitch a company without knowing what is in their catalog already, and how to make your work fit into what is already out there is going to affect the way we look at your pitch.
- You do NOT need a finished script to make a pitch. In fact, it’s better if you don’t have a finished script, as we do not accept scripts without going through the pitch process. The pitch process is going to change the idea, refine it, and hone it into something that fits within the NO-Earth world.
- There is no ‘House Style’ here as far as a writing style that you have to adhere to. What we are looking for are scripts that advance a story. It can be a mini-series, an on-going, or a one-shot, but the important thing is story. The scripts have a particular format, but the writing itself only has to tell a compelling story.
- We use a standard script format. An example follows. Do not deviate from that format with spacing, tabbing, centering, or any other such devices. The programme that we use for comic organisation and for layouts depends on that format being followed. You will be the one reformatting anything that has to be done to bring it within editorial guidelines.
Panel 1: Panel Description
First Character 1: Dialogue
Second Character 1: Dialogue
First Character 2: Dialogue
Caption 1: Text
- Leave your ego at the door. Take it home and play with it all you want, but it has no place in a CO-OP of creators working on a shared universe. I can not put it any more bluntly than that, but this is a deal breaker. If you are going to have ego trips, take them away from this environment, and then come back ready to collaborate, not dictate. You are going to be part of the creative team, and expected to act as part of a team, not a Prima Donna.
- If you are not familiar with the following terms, get familiar with them before submitting, since we will be judging submissions on the following items. The 5 elements of fiction that we go by are Character, Setting, Theme, Conflict, and Plot. In that order, in terms of the Pitch.
- Be aware of common comic tropes and clichés, and understand that we have no problem with them used well, but if you have another manga-styled high school love triangle, or another super-team full of loners and outcasts that somehow manage to work together, we’re going to look funny at you. We are looking for original takes on ideas, and interesting twists that are more than merely cosmetic. If you have not already bookmarked it, use the TV Tropes website to check your script for overused cliches.
- Read as many of the following books as you can get your hands on. Each one of them presents a VERY good look at what we are doing, and why. If you haven’t read at least one of them, please do so.
Scott McCloud Understanding comics Alan Moore Writing for Comics Brian Michael Bendis Words for pictures Peter David Writing for Comics Lurene Haines The Writer’s Guide to the Business of Comics
- Comic writing is not like any other type of writing, so don’t pull your cred card thinking it gives you a pass. Novels, screenplays, and other types of fiction writing do not translate directly over to Comics. You still have to learn how to do the things that make a comic script special.
- We are a small scale publisher, so our main goal is doing webcomics for print. For this reason, the script length for each issue is 22 pages. This allows for editorial content, in-house advertising, and outside ads. Yes, this is needed. It costs a certain sum of money to print a 28 page book, and that’s counting the covers. This means that your story is taking up 23 page (counting the cover) and that leaves 5 pages for us to try to make the money back on the printing costs and offset the upfront investment. Your script needs to be a 22 page story, even if it’s part of a larger story arc. stories that simply end on page 22 with a (Continued next issue) will be poorly received.
- We are not fans of extremely decompressed stories. The general thing that I, and others here like to see is 4+ panels (average) per page, with a rough limit (Meaning maximum) of 25 words per balloon and 40 words per panel. If your standard page contains 25 words in 3 panels, then it’s too spread out. If that causes you to recoil, I like seeing at least a 2X3 grid for the standard panel layout for a book. I personally will use a 3X3 (up to 9 panels per page) at times. Don’t look at me that way. Frank Miller used a 4X4 for The Dark Knight Returns, and used all 16 on a lot of the pages.
- Exposition is a necessary evil. Use it sparingly, and use it well. Walls of text, and prologues that keep the reader from getting into the story quickly are bad things.
- Be nice to the artist! Putting in lots of complicated panels and crowd scenes is not being nice to the artist. Wanna drive your artist crazy? Do an entire issue of two people talking at a coffee shop (I have one script with four pages of that, and my artist on that issue was graceful in accomodating it). Seriously, be ready to change panels and pages to accommodate your artist.
- Be aware that this is a shared universe, so your cosmic level super-plot is probably not going to fly. The motto here should be ‘tell small stories against a large backdrop’. The NO-Earth world is built to tell an unlimited amount of stories in a large range of styles. Find a place within the world that you want to explore, or help create it with the creative team.
- We don’t do traditional re-writes. Instead, you will be constantly updating your script throughout the editorial process. This is part of the collaborative nature of the medium, and we have what we feel is one of the toughest, and yet most helpful ways of bring your script into line with the types of stories we are trying to publish.
- Major parts of the NO-Earth world are set up as political and social allegory to allow for that type of story, but always present more than one point of view, and do them well. We will have no vilification of legitimate political or social points of view. Examples include portraying right wingers as Nazis or left wingers as Socialists. Handle things like this with nuance.
- We have an extensive Youtube library with videos on writing. Watching them will not only let you know more about what we are expecting as a company, but also give you more nuance into the comic writing process.
- For the videos, start with this playlist:1/1The 5 Elements of Fiction in Comic Writing - NO-Earth Livestream #013The Editorial Board and How to Work with them - NO-Earth Livestream #021Pitching NO-Earth: What We Want To See In Your Pitch - NO-Earth Video #034Why NO-Earth doesn't want your scripts anymore - NO-Earth Video #035Scripts and Writing - NO-Earth Video #0411/1
- Still reading? Not cussing? You are probably going to do OK then. Once again, pardon the bluntness, but comic ‘writers’ are thick as fleas on the internet. This site wants those who have a professional attitude, and are willing to work to fulfill their dreams, and understand that none of this is easy. If you’re still here, send me something. E-Mail is Eagle@no-earth.com.
(Thanks for reading, and if you have suggestions, leave comments!)