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Reply To: February is audio month~!

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Rebecca Scoble

Hi abillyhiggins–thank you for your interest in pitching an audio script!

To be totally honest, I have some serious reservations about your pitch. Slice of life is a tricky genre, and as someone who’s heard the philosophical ramblings of undergrads plenty of times before, they would have to be pretty unusual and done with a ton of self-awareness to make an entertaining story. It seems like you’ve put thought into your characters, which is a good start, but simply developing two characters isn’t enough of a story for us.

As a company, we’ve had a little trouble expressing exactly what we’re looking for since we don’t want to restrict ourselves to one genre, but a big part of it is this: emotional impact and forward momentum. Or, to put it more simply, we want stories where interesting stuff keeps happening, presented in a way that makes people care, a lot. So: really bad things happening to characters they love, really good things happening to characters they love. Plot twists and cliffhangers. Complex characters with unexpected motivations. Romance, intrigue, humor, drama. A lot of our stories feel a little pulpy, and that’s a feature, not a bug–pulpiness is fun, and if you do it right, it doesn’t stop your work from being smart, being progressive, or saying something meaningful.

Your description actually reminds me a little of one of my favorite comics, The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal (comic is rated 18+). TJ and Amal is an example of the kind of slice of life story we’d definitely want to publish–like your story, it stars two characters, one whose life has been kind of a mess for a long time, and one whose life just fell apart. But the road trip framework gives the story forward momentum and keeps it on track–the loosely connected things that keep happening to the two main characters build their individual development, and their relationship to each other, with subtlety and humor. It’s full of highs and lows–hilarious conversations take dark turns, Amal’s perception of TJ changes multiple times as new information about him is revealed, the guys’ moods swing from surly to cheerful, or from playful to serious, in a really organic way. The main characters are completely lovable and relatable from about ten pages in. It’s also a romance, with all the extra complication that implies–not that your story needs romance to be interesting, but it’s one way to add some drama. If you think your story can create that kind of momentum and emotional impact, I’d be happy to read it. If not, though, you may want to consider another story.

And this is not directed specifically at you, but you give me a good opportunity to bring it up for everyone: if you’re a cis person and want to write transgender characters, make sure you do your research. This is good advice for anyone writing outside their own experiences, but I want to stress it here because in a lot of the media I’ve seen with transgender characters, the issues they have to deal with get simplified to fairly basic identity acceptance or generic overcoming prejudice narratives. There are a bunch of very real legal, medical, societal and romantic problems specific to trans*people, a lot of which wouldn’t even occur to the average cis person. That’s been my own experience, for sure–reading blogs and articles written by actual transgender people, instead of work filtered through a cis perspective, is eye-opening.