June 19, 2012

New Hero Brief: Story Requirements

With Stone Skin Press’ first books headed for pre-release roll-out, I thought you might enjoy a look inside the process, at the brief I sent out when inviting contributors to take part in The New Hero (and its later follow-up, The New Hero Volume 2). I’ll be breaking these up into blog-sized bites over the next few days. Please note that this is not a call for contributions; the books are finished and ready for the printer, the invited authors having delivered some exciting work featuring their new and newish iconic characters.

The previous installment defined the unifying structure the books revolve around. Here’s what I asked contributors to do with the theme when writing their stories.

Your story must show us everything about the hero and his environment that we need to know to understand the action. If you can imply that we’re following one of the hero’s many similar adventures, so much the better. Check out a Sherlock Holmes or Conan story to see how the classic authors of iconic serial fiction efficiently introduced their heroes and then got on with the story at hand.

Possible genres include: epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, space opera, mystery, occult investigation, hard-boiled action, super heroes, pulp, special forces, espionage, gothic intrigue, steampunk, cyberpunk, and historical derring-do. This is not an exhaustive list. Surprise me. Not fitting an immediately identifiable genre is cool, too.

Likewise, feel free to set your story in the past, present or future, in this world or on an imaginary one.

We’re looking for a mix of genres so the more distinctive your choice of genre, the easier time I’ll have deciding which of the two volumes it fits in. Pick the genre you most feel at home in or that best inspire you to create a new iconic hero.

We need female as well as male heroes.

Solo protagonists are easiest to introduce and follow, but other configurations are acceptable, so long as one of them is an iconic hero. You might have your iconic hero/sidekick combo, as per Holmes and Watson, or a duality of iconic heroes, like Mulder and Scully. A team of equally iconic heroes would be hard to pull off, given space constraints, but could work.

We seek self-contained adventures featuring already iconic heroes, not origin stories in which a character undergoes a dramatic arc to become an iconic hero at the end.

We’d be happy to see further adventures of heroes you’ve featured in previous published stories. provided that they meet the iconic criteria, or can be presented as iconic heroes for the length of your story. (You might for example write a standalone adventure of a character who remains unchanged throughout but undergoes a dramatic arc elsewhere in your work.) It goes without saying that you must own the underlying rights for any existing characters (or settings) you wish to feature.


What We’re Not Looking For

As noted above, ixnay on the origin stories.

Engage the premise head-on. We’re not looking for stories that subvert, invert, deconstruct, parody, ironically riff on, or otherwise take the mickey out of the concept of the iconic hero.

Humor is okay within the context of a heroic story but we’re not looking for pieces that are predominantly spoofy.

Please don’t propose new adventures of preexisting heroes created by other authors, even if you have secured the rights to them. We are likewise not looking for new adventures of public domain heroes. Nor are we seeking Solar Pons-styles pastiches in which the names and serial numbers have been filed off of classic iconic heroes.

We’re not looking to reprint previously published stories.