Lots of freelancers have been asking us what makes
a story right for Snap Judgment, and I think I can boil it down to
1) Is the story not just a story, but a tale? In other words,
does it have characters with wants and needs and hopes and fears,
scenes that play out in a chronological order in which said
characters make important decisions and discover new things, and some
kind of central tension that gets resolved in an unexpected way over
the course of a narrative arc? If so, then it is a tale, and we are
2) Is the story cinematic? In other words, will it provide us
with scenes rich enough in detail that the listener can see events
playing out in their mind's eye? Because we're not interested in
narratives in which things happen on an abstract level. We want the
listener to be transported to a specific time and place.
3) Is there something new about it? Every Snap Judgment story
needs to have an unexpected wrinkle, a new element, that makes the
listener stop what they're doing and pay attention. Sometimes the
new thing is just the fact that you've discovered a great talker, but
nine times out of ten it's a unique premise or plot element. If we
feel like we've heard this one before (maybe not this precise story,
but something super similar) we'll probably pass.
Another litmus test, that perhaps sums up all three of the above
points, is: would your pitch make a good fictional story that just
happens to be true? Sometimes people think Snap Stories are made up
– we take that as a compliment.
Okay, now the themes:
***Any Really Good Story***
I always say this but no one believes me. If your story kicks ass we
will build a freakin' theme around it, people!
***Stages of Life***
In theory, we want to have one story for each "stage" in
chronological order. Birth. First kiss. Graduation. Career.
Marriage. Kids. Mid-life crisis. Retirement. Anything, really.
The only things we've got covered are a honeymoon from hell and a
dispute over how one couple will spend their afterlife. (So if you
have a good death story, we'll happily happy to produce it, but not
necessarily for this theme).
***Honor Among Thieves***
Stories of bad people nevertheless sticking to a code. Or good
people doing a bad thing for a good reason. Debts getting paid.
Snitches getting stitches. Because there's the law, and then there's
Tales of inheritances gone wrong, genetic curses, or bizarre family
legacies. Whether they grew up knowing about it or only discovered
it late, we want to meet someone who had to confront and (possibly)
clean up the family mess. The same goes for ethnicity, tribe, etc. –
pick your own unit of bloodline.
Stories in which something comes back around. What does that mean?
Well, stories in which people end up having to do something twice,
but in a different way. Stories in which an event from long ago is
revisited at an unexpected moment. Stories about karma taking it's
sweet ass time, because the book says you may be through with the
past, but the past, it ain't through with you.
Stories about prophets (and prophecies) both true and false. This
does not necessarily have to involve religion. Any story involving a
specific prediction will do.
***Themes That Are Imminent, So We're Only Interested In Pre-Existing
Please send all your pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org.