Hey folks. Snap Judgment wants your stories!! Really, don't feel shy. They genuinely want to hear ideas from folks so even if you think you MAY have a good story, send it along. But please follow the guidelines below. Good luck!
Greetings Snap Contributors,
The time has come for another Snap Judgment themes list.
But before we get to that, a quick word on pitching the show. In our last newsletter, we talked a little bit about the elements we’re looking for in a story (multiple scenes forming a narrative arc, a main character wrestling with a central tension, blah, blah, blah…), but we also want to give you a tip about how to pitch the story once you’ve found it. And it’s actually a really simple trick. Are you ready?
Good, cuz here it is: Don’t pitch us a public radio story. Pitch us a MOVIE.
A typical public radio pitch invariably describes what a story is broadly about, more often than not some kind of compelling concept; a movie pitch summarizes a sequence of events. Give us the enticing premise, introduce the compelling characters, then describe the thing that sets the story in motion, the rising stakes, the unexpected development, the third act twist, and the ending that somehow feels unexpected and inevitable at the same time. Okay, it doesn’t need all those things, but you get the idea.
Anything that sounds like a movie (or a short film) will definitely get our attention. Because that’s what we do, we make cinematic stories that just happen to be audio-based — usually from a first person perspective. And if you can’t pitch your story as a sequence of events? Well, then, it probably wasn’t a Snap story in the first place.
Okay, onto the themes:
***Any Really Good Story***
We will never stop saying this. If your story is amazing, it will make it on the air, theme or no theme. In fact, consider the following themes inspiration, but do not take them as gospel.
***The Forbidden Zone***
Do you have a story about an abandoned island? A radioactive wasteland? A room that was off-limits growing up but which surely contained untold riches and magic? It doesn’t even need to be a place per se; it could be realm of forbidden behavior, like the one thing everyone knows but which you’re not supposed to actually say out loud. Think about it.
Stories of people who are literally and figuratively washed up. A shipwreck on a deserted island. A message in a bottle. That one dog who somehow managed to escape all attempts to give her a bath, until one day. Or just stories of people having an interesting experience in which they reach rock bottom.
It's a leak in all senses of the word. The water seeping through the hole or the secret dying to get out. It's the story of the whistle blower, the captain of the sinking ship, the instigator or the investigator. Everybody is trying to contain it, but eventually it will all come out.
Face-offs. Grudge matches. Rematches. Stories in which someone goes toe-to-toe with an adversary in a weird and unexpected way and maybe discovers something about themselves in the process.
***The Tortoise & The Hare***
Stories in which someone achieves something by doing the opposite of what they’re supposed to. Also, stories in which the a character is willing to plod away for a long, long time – despite criticism from naysayers – to get what he needs.
***Viral / The Meme***
Stories about ideas spinning out of control. Gossip gone wild. Youtube videos spawning Youtube videos. A catch phrase that you’re absolutely sure you coined, but nobody believes you! Perhaps someone tries to start a trend and fails. Really, we’re just looking for an excuse to use the word “meme” as many times as possible.
After a recent story meeting, we concluded that storytellers (truth-tellers) have failed to present Global Warming in a narrative sense that touches regular people. Without a compelling story, we will continue to ignore the greatest catastrophe of our time. We're looking for stories that bring home the truth what is happening to our world, our Earth, on a personal level. We're not looking for earnest, boo-hoo pieces about an assaulted ecology, but stories that make personal what's going on without being preachy.
Do You Have A Mailing List?
Why Should I Pitch To Snap?
1) We pay well. $95/minute for your first three stories. $105/minute after that. We also give everyone a $250 kill fee. And our stories are long (see next line).
2) We give you time to tell your story. The average Snap piece is now 8-15 minutes. That means fewer editorial puppies being killed, and more time being spent on scoring and mixing each piece.
3) Your story stands a very good chance of making it to air very quickly. We have programming gaps for every single upcoming theme. That means if we like your pitch, we will not put it in a maybe pile for a year. Once it's produced (provided it's not killed), it will in all likelihood be on the air shortly.
4) You still own the story and can create your own director's cut. You can't sell something (say on PRX) that's too similar to what we did on the show, but you can always put your own version on your website or resume if you prefer. If you make a story that's substantially different, you can sell it to anyone after we air our version.
5) You can produce cool old stories with no pegs. See next section!
Where Can I Find Stories For Snap?
How Do I Know The Story Is Right For Snap
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’s a tale, and we’re interested.
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.
How Should I Structure My Pitch?
There's actually a really simple trick to this: Don’t pitch us a public radio story. Pitch us a MOVIE. A typical public radio pitch invariably describes what a story is broadly about, more often than not some kind of compelling concept; a movie pitch summarizes a sequence of events. Give us the enticing premise, introduce the compelling characters, then describe the thing that sets the story in motion, the rising stakes, the unexpected development, the third act twist, and the ending that somehow feels unexpected and inevitable at the same time. Okay, it doesn’t need all those things, but you get the idea. Anything that sounds like a movie (or a short film) will definitely get our attention. Because that’s what we do, we make cinematic stories that just happen to be audio-based — usually from a first person perspective. And if you can’t pitch your story as a sequence of events? Well, then, it probably wasn’t a Snap story in the first place.
Whom Should I Pitch To?
Send your pitches to the same address: firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be read by either Joe Rosenberg or Anna Sussman — we are both content producers for the show, and we try hard to provide constructive criticism when a pitch shows promise but misses the mark. We also try to get back to everyone, even with a pro forma rejection just to let you know, within 2 weeks of your initial email. NEVER BE AFRAID TO PITCH US AGAIN AFTER A REJECTION. You can send us nine terrible pitches in a row, but if we like the tenth one,