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B&N Week 8: Scripting

| February 15, 2011 | 13 Comments

And there shall be, A SCRIPT!

I know, I know, there’s been a lot of buildup to this, and there is a reason for it. I don’t want you to be like all the other writers out there, getting in front of a computer, banging away at it, and then coming away with a “script” and thinking that you’re a genius. For the bulk of us out there, that’s just not going to be the case. I want you to be as prepared as I can get you for the task you’ve set before yourself.

Hello, and welcome back to another installment of Bolts & Nuts! This is the installment you’ve all been waiting for. Here, we actually start talking about scripts themselves. There are a TON of moving parts, and they all work in tandem. If even one part is off, your entire script can fall apart.

A few weeks ago, I gave an extremely brief example of a scripting format. Here it is again:

Page 1

Panel 1: panel description goes here

Character 1: dialogue goes here

Character 2: dialogue goes here

SFX: sound effect goes here

Those of you who have been diligent will notice that this is a full script format, not plot-first. This is the script format [or approximation thereof] that the bulk of you will be using. I think a more in-depth overview is in order.

Page 1. A simple heading, sure, but necessary. You don’t ever want to forget to put the page number on the script. (Well, duh, Steven!  Say something meaningful, whydontcha?)  I will.

Now, there are two types of page numbers for the script. You have the number of pages of the script [we’ll use twenty-two as a default], and the number of pages the script takes up. It’s not impossible for a twenty-two page script to take up thirty-five sheets of paper. It depends on the number of panels you have per page, and how much of a panel description you give. We’ll get into that in a little while. Right now, we’re talking about the Page 1 heading.

There is only one other thing that should go on this line, as a general rule, and that’s the number of panels on the page. It’ll look something like this:

Page 1 (four panels)

There can also be page layout notes on this line, but I really don’t recommend it. The more information you put here, the more restrictive you are to your artist. If you’re going for a certain feel, that’s fine, but if you’re not, I don’t recommend doing it. Leave the page layouts to the artists. You have more than enough to worry about.

No matter how many panels you have on the page, if it’s one panel or if it’s ninety, when you start Page 2, you want to have a page break and then go to that page. Notice, I didn’t say hit “return” until you get to the next page. I said a page break. Whenever you start a new page of script, you want to start on a totally new page. Wasteful?  Maybe. But this way, there’s no confusion that there’s a new page started, and if printed, there won’t be anything funky going on with the formatting. It should stop Page 2 from appearing halfway down the page, or something like that.

One other thing before going on. Have a header for every script you do. That bears repeating. Have a header for every script you do. In your header, have the following at a minimum: your name, your contact info [phone number and/or e-mail address], the name of the title you’re working on [to include issue number], and the page number. This will save your life. Let’s say you have an editor who’s printed out your script, and happens to drop it [along with other things]. By following this advice, yours is the script that will be the easiest to put back together, or to notice that a page is missing, or whatever. Say it with me, one more time: have a header for every script you do. Got it?  Good.

Panel 1. This is where you put your panel description, and here is where we’re going to take some time to explore what actually goes in here.

The basic thing I want you to understand is that there is a difference between a static panel and a moving panel. I did a little elaboration before, but here’s where I’m really going to explore it.

First, some definitions, so we’re all on the same page. A moving panel is something that describes movement, and a static panel is something that describes something that is still. Comics are static, and should be written as such. (Duh, Steven, I know that!)  Like I said before, no, you don’t. If you did, I wouldn’t have to say this next piece.

Comic writing depends on your ability to think in frozen frames while giving the illusion of movement.   You cannot have “Johnny draws his gun, fires, and rolls out of the way” in one panel. That cannot be drawn. [Well, it can, but you’re not ready for that yet. Baby steps.]  This can be three panels, but no less than two. Drawing the gun and firing can be one action, and rolling out of the way is another action. When you get more comfortable with writing within the constraints of a comic script, you’ll be more aware of what can and cannot be drawn. The only way to get more comfortable is to write, and the learning curve for a brand new writer to get really comfy is anywhere from two to five years. Yes, that’s a lot of writing. You want to be Published, or do you want to be published?  Put in the work, and you’ll get to where you want to be.

Anyway, on static panels. For me, the method that works is to view the scene in my head as a movie, and then freeze the action at a crucial point, and describe everything in that frame as the panel description. Yes, this is sometimes harder than it seems, and it takes a knack that has to be learned and honed. This may not be how you do it, but the end result should be the same: a panel that can be drawn, evoking movement without actually having it.

Beware of trying to show things like flickering lights, breathing, stuff like that. Also beware of trying to show certain emotions. Sure, you can show fear and terror, but the more subtle emotions such as love or fear laced with determination…no. You might be able to get away with some of it depending on how strong your artist is, but others—no. For an action like a flickering light or breathing, you need at least two panels. For emotions, the “cleaner” the emotion, the easier it will be to draw. [There are emotions that can be built upon as a function of storytelling and narration/dialogue, such as love, but as a standalone panel, it’s not going to look like the emotion. It’s going to look like something else. Something to watch for.]

I also want you to write the panel descriptions from left to right. (Steven, I know this already.) Again, no, you don’t.

We read [American] comics from left to right first, and then top to bottom, in a Z pattern. Your panel descriptions have to follow the natural flow of our eyes. Left to right. Left to right. Then, as a test, write it from right to left. See how the meaning of the panel changes? Left to right, folks. It’s important. Left to right means you’re being clear to the artist, and clarity is extremely important. Left to right. Left to write. Left to right [correct].

Dialogue. There are unwritten rules to dialogue that you generally won’t find in books. The first thing to keep in mind is that dialogue covers artwork. (Steven, you keep having “duh” moments. You’re worrying me.)  Trust me, if it were that obvious, I wouldn’t have to say it. It’s really simple. The more words you have in a panel, the less artwork that shows.

Some people will tell you that you should only have so many words per balloon, per panel, per page. I’m going to tell you something a little different. Write only what’s comfortable on the page. You’re going to get more out of that then trying to remember how many words per panel. However, there are a few things to remember.

The more panels you have on a page, the less dialogue you can fit per panel. The inverse is also true: the less panels you have on a page, the more words you can fit. Simple, I know, but I couldn’t tell you how many scripts I’ve read where there was a hundred trillion words for twenty panels on one page.

Comic dialogue is an art unto itself. You have to give the illusion of having a full conversation with only a few words. Hard. You not only have to give that illusion, you also have to give each character their own voice. Hey, I never said this was easy.

The other thing you’re not going to see much of in books is the unwritten rule that there generally shouldn’t be a lot of back and forth between characters in a single panel. I’m talking about Bill talking, and Rose responds, and Bill responds to Rose, and Rose responds back, and then Bill responds again. That’s six bubbles in one panel, and if it’s a lot of talking, there’s no artwork being seen. The unwritten rule, when two characters are talking, is that there is the initial person talking, a response, and one more response to that. Bill talks to Rose, and Rose responds, and Bill responds again. That’s all you want, at most. Are there times when you can get away with more?  Sure. But I wouldn’t do it often. Most writers don’t. Don’t believe me? Go pick out five comics from your stack. Count the number of back and forths in a panel for those five comics. You’ll find that, generally speaking, you’re going to get the number three. I’m not talking about captions or thought bubbles—I’m talking about characters speaking back and forth in one panel.

There are also notes you can make in the script to the artist so they know when a character is actually not on panel, or to the letterer so that the font of the dialogue is special. For the artist, it’ll be simply by putting an (OP) after the character’s name.

Billy (OP): I can hear you!

This’ll let the artist know not to draw Billy in the panel, and to leave some space for his dialogue. OP means “off panel.” (Steven….)  Okay, that one was just to get a rise out of you. Heh.

Okay, notes to the letterer are the same, but a little different. They’re going to go in the same place, but they can sometimes be a little more than one word. Some of the more commonly used are whispers or yelling, electric and burst [which can be the same thing]. But you can also do things like this:

Billy (small): Jerk.

This will tell the letterer to use a regular sized bubble, and to make the font small. Whispering will get you a “broken” bubble, yelling will get you a more strident bubble, and so forth.

I’m not going to talk about captions. Not really. I don’t have anything against them, it’s just they’ve taken the place of thought bubbles over the last few years, and while I don’t agree with it, I also understand the convention of it. Captions fall under the heading of dialogue because they’re in a place that readers can see. It can be of a few flavors. The first is the omniscient Narrator, such as you’d find in any book. This is where you get things like “Meanwhile, in another part of the city…” or “Later.”  Things like that. The second is an internal monologue of a character, generally your main character [or the main character of that scene/issue]. The third is the voice-over, like in a movie. There is a person talking who’s in a different location. These will be delineated by quotation marks. (Duh, Steven.)  I’m telling you, if I didn’t have to say it, I wouldn’t. Honest.

Sound Effects. Writing sound effects is both easy and hard. The decision to put them in or leave them out can be tough, though. For years, sound effects have been the symbol of everything that was “wrong” with comic books. A stigma that they were children’s fare, foisted upon the medium by the 60’s Batman show with Adam West. [A show that was loved by young and old, by the way. Don’t get me started…] Even today, when a “real”magazine wants to do something concerning comic books, you’ll get a large BIFF! POW! WOK! or somesuch. Sound effects can be pretty hard to come up with—you have to turn a sound into a word that approximates the sound. Guns and such are easy, but sometimes you want something a little more complicated. I heard one writer say that they try their best to slow down a sound effect and sound it out, and then write it out over and over until they got it just right. If this works for you, go for it.

Like dialogue, you can also make notes to the letterer about the sound effects, especially if there’s a lot of things going on in a panel. If you want that creak to go to a door, then make a note, just like a whisper or if someone is off panel. It’s performed the same way, and no, it’s not always needed.

And those are the basic parts of a script. Get to know these intimately, because these are the elements you’ll be using to write your masterpieces.

Homework?  Write a three page script. Beginning, middle, and end. No more than three pages. It can be less, but I don’t want any more. [There’s a method to my madness.]  I don’t care about the subject matter. Post them here for all to see. I’ll make notes on all of them.

Next week, we’ll talk about pacing–what it is, how it’s used, what’s good pacing, what’s bad, and my pet peeves.

And that’s it. See you next week!

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Category: Bolts & Nuts

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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  1. John Lees says:

    I found this to be one of the most invaluable Bolts & Nuts columns back in its original run, and I tried my best to learn as much of the script formatting tips as I could. I still get stuff wrong of course, but I think for any writer this is an essential document for learning good habits in scripting. And as such I’ll be sure to distribute this one around where I can.

    As far as word-count for dialogue goes, I think it was Alan Moore who came up with the rule of thumb: on a 6 panel page, you should have a maximum of 35 words per panel and 25 words per balloon. This is by no means a hard-and-fast rule – I’ve often went over 35 words in a panel – but I think it’s a good guideline to try and at least generally keep in mind, that north of 35 words is when it’s going to start looking crowded, so maybe don’t have too many instances of that in one page.

    Looking forward to next week. Given the problems in my last two Proving Grounds scripts it seems pacing is something I’m due a refresher on.

    And I’ll try and come up with a 3-page script for the homework. Is it to be a complete 3-page story, or can it be a 3-page snippet from something bigger?

  2. John Lees says:

    Disregard my last question: I just looked up and saw “beginning, middle and end”.

  3. Ruiz Moreno says:

    I’ve been looking forward to this and I must say I’m excited for the rest. Not to take away from the previous B&N articles because I find them all valuable but as a new comic writer this is the meat for me. I’ve bought several books both related and non-related to comic writing and while I believe McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” comes the closest in talking about panels I have wanted to learn more about actual scipting. Bravo Steven and I will be watching/reading!

  4. Johnny Vinson says:

    Ok, here’s my homework. This is the second comic script I’ve worked on, so go easy 😉 I haven’t gotten around to the panel description post yet, so they might be way off. Hope you enjoy.

    Page 1 (Five Panels)

    Panel 1: A close up view of a tombstone reads “Rebecca Chambers: Devoted mother, wife, friend, and Belle”

    Priest (OP): Today, we say goodbye to Rebecca Chambers. A woman who was cherised by all around the world.

    Panel 2: A black woman (Margaret), with grey streaks through her hair. Wearing a modest blouse and skirt. She has her head bowed, with tears running down her cheeks. A crowd of people surround her.

    Priest (OP): The world knew her as Prima Donna, leader of the famed group of super-heroines ‘The Belles’. However, today we simply remember the woman.

    Panel 3: A light skinned woman (Samantha) with long curly, dark red hair. Looks to be in her 70’s. Wearing a one-piece skirt, showing off her shoulders. She’s looking away from the ground, with a look of anger. Surrounded by guests.

    Priest (OP): Rebecca was known as a kind, and caring friend to everyone she met. As I’ve talked to those who’ve known her the last couple of days I’ve heard nothing but remarkable things about her.

    Panel 4: A light skinned woman (Ann) with straight blonde hair, who looks in her 70’s. She’s looking straight forward with a blank stare. Surrounded by guests.

    Priest (OP): Today we unfortunately say good-bye to Rebecca. Though the lord provides us with words to ease the passing.

    Panel 5: A wide shot, showing the entire funeral. With the priest at the head of the coffin and tombstone. 20-25 people surround the plot.

    Priest (OP): Psalm 37:37 is a verse which reminded me of Rebecca. It reads, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”

    Page 2 (Five Panels)

    Panel 1: A young, 20’s something reporter is standing in front of a large black gate. She’s holding a microphone, and facing straight forward.

    Reporter: Good afternoon. This is Stephanie Brown, reporting live outside of Oakland Cemetary in Atlanta, Georgia. Where the private funeral of Prima Donna, founder and leader of ‘The Belles’ is underway.

    Panel 2: The same reporter is holding a picture of Prima Donna, and is looking at it while talking into the microphone.

    Reporter: This is an older photo of Prima Donna, when the Belles were known as the superhero group representing the southern region of the United States. She passed away last week, reportedly from natural causes. Though some speculate foul play.

    Panel 3: Show a camera man and the reporter moving towards the gate, as people are walking out of it. At the head of the group is Samantha, a few feet in front of everyone.

    Reporter: Oh, here’s a former member of the Belles – Bautista. Known for “baptising” her enemies in fire.

    Panel 4: The reporter has caught up to Samantha, with a microphone shoved upon her. Samantha has a look of shock on her face.

    Reporter: Bautista, can we have a moment of your time? How was the ceremony? Are you convinced of natural causes being the reason for Prima Donna’s death?

    Panel 5: Samantha is raging. Show her hand on fire in front of the news camera. With the lens exploding. The reporter is turned away in fright.

    Samantha: Get that DAMN thing outta’ my face!

    SFX: BOOOOM!

    Page 3 (Seven Panels)

    Panel 1: Margaret is at the passenger side of a car, her husband, a older looking black man in a black suit is at the driver side door. Samantha is walking up to the car.

    Samantha: Margaret, wait up. We’ve gotta talk.

    Panel 2: Samantha is looking down at Margaret, with a look of sadness on her face.

    Margaret: Hi, Sam. It’s been a long time. How’ve you been holding up this past week?

    Samantha: I’ve been trying to get ahold of you since Rebecca died. Where have you been?

    Margaret: I’m sorry Sam. I’ve been so busy working at the church and I just got preoccupied.

    Panel 3: Samantha looks down at Margaret with an anxious look on her face.

    Samantha: Listen, I know we didn’t leave things on the most positive note last time we talked. There’s something important I need to tell you though.

    Margaret: Sam, I wasn’t ignoring you…

    Samantha: It’s ok if you didn’t want to talk but we have bigger problems need attending to. I don’t think Rebecca died from natural causes.

    Panel 4: Margaret is looking down at the ground, with a sad expression.

    Margaret: Rebecca’s gone. She was getting old, just like the rest of us. Our sunset is coming soon too.

    Samantha: Died from old age? There’s no way. Her powers would have extended her life beyond a normal person. How can you not see that?

    Margaret: Sam…

    Panel 5: Margaret is looking up at Sam, with a hand on her shoulder.

    Margaret: Did you listen to the priest’s words? She’s at peace now. She earned it.

    Samantha: I don’t buy it. You have intuitive powers, use them. Can’t you sense something is wrong?

    Margaret: There’s nothing to sense. Rebecca passed is all. The police found no evidence of any wrong doing.

    Panel 6: Samantha is angry, and a few steps back away from Margaret.

    Samantha: That’s all you have to say?! After all the years we spent as Belles, and you accept the police’s report?!

    Margaret: Sam, calm down. Your anger will not lead you down any road you want to be on. I’m goin to pray you will find peace. That’s all I can do for you now. Just let it go.

    Panel 7: Margaret has the car door opened, and her body halfway into the car. Samantha is standing outside, walking away from the car with a look of defeat.

    Samantha: I can’t. I just can’t

    • Johnny, I’ll get to this when I have a more stable internet connection at home. Thanks for posting it. I’ll see what I can do about going easy. No promises, though… 😉

    • And so, here we go!

      (Thanks again for your patience, Johnny.)

      Panel 1: A close up view of a tombstone reads “Rebecca Chambers: Devoted mother, wife, friend, and Belle” My immediate first question, always, is this: what time of day is it? Because lots of new writers seem to forget that little but very important point. And then, there are others: can other tombstones be seen? Are there any flowers, wreaths, or ribbons on the grave? Is it a new grave, or has the person been in the ground for a while? Important things that the artist is going to need in order to create the world. You don’t have to be directly right up on it in order for the words to be seen, which means there’s space for other things to be shown.

      Priest (OP): Today, we say goodbye to Rebecca Chambers. A woman who was cherised by all around the world. A little clumsy, but not by much. I get the gist, but there’s a better way to say it. If you put it as “the world round,” it would sound a bit better. Takes some potential confusion out of it.

      Panel 2: A black woman (Margaret), with grey streaks through her hair. Wearing a modest blouse and skirt. She has her head bowed, with tears running down her cheeks. A crowd of people surround her. Even though we’re at a funeral, a modest blouse and skirt doesn’t tell me much. If you’re going to describe Margaret, you have to do better than this really quick sketch. How old is she? What is she wearing? Colors? And as for the crowd of people, that’s so vague as to be useless. How many people are we talking about? How are they dressed? You don’t have to write a novel, but you can definitely throw the artist a bone. Can the priest be seen?

      Priest (OP): The world knew her as Prima Donna, leader of the famed group of super-heroines ‘The Belles’. However, today we simply remember the woman. Comma before The Belles, and one after today.

      Panel 3: A light skinned woman (Samantha) with long curly, dark red hair. Looks to be in her 70′s. Wearing a one-piece skirt, showing off her shoulders. She’s looking away from the ground, with a look of anger. Surrounded by guests. Guests? Strange word. Anyway, we’re back to being vague again. And I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what a one-piece skirt is.

      Priest (OP): Rebecca was known as a kind, and caring friend to everyone she met. As I’ve talked to those who’ve known her the last couple of days I’ve heard nothing but remarkable things about her. I really think that comma usage is a dying art. I don’t even think it’s art. It’s just dying. Move the comma from where you have it, and put it after the word days.

      Panel 4: A light skinned woman (Ann) with straight blonde hair, who looks in her 70′s. She’s looking straight forward with a blank stare. Surrounded by guests. Generally, character descriptions are going to be done by the artist before they start working on the pages. When you say light-skinned, I take it you’re talking about black people. I could be wrong, though. Clarity.

      Priest (OP): Today we unfortunately say good-bye to Rebecca. Though the lord provides us with words to ease the passing.Capitalization for the deity. Comma after today.

      Panel 5: A wide shot, showing the entire funeral. With the priest at the head of the coffin and tombstone. 20-25 people surround the plot. And now, we get out of Vagueland and into “This-Is-What-I-See” Land. I’m hoping it will be like Disneyland, with rides and such…

      Priest (OP): Psalm 37:37 is a verse which reminded me of Rebecca. It reads, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”

      As a first page, not bad. There’s enough here to keep my interest for another couple of pages. Let’s hope you make good on this beginning.

      Page 2 (Five Panels)

      Panel 1: A young, 20′s something reporter is standing in front of a large black gate. She’s holding a microphone, and facing straight forward. What can we see behind her? Right now, I’m in a white void. I hate white voids.

      Reporter: Good afternoon. This is Stephanie Brown, reporting live outside of Oakland Cemetary in Atlanta, Georgia. Where the private funeral of Prima Donna, founder and leader of ‘The Belles’ is underway. Comma after Georgia.

      Panel 2: The same reporter is holding a picture of Prima Donna, and is looking at it while talking into the microphone. Why is she holding a picture? Depending on the year–and I’m assuming this is in the timeless Now–then she should know that a picture can be run beside her head, or underneath her in the crawl. Hopefully, you say something interesting in the dialogue.

      Reporter: This is an older photo of Prima Donna, when the Belles were known as the superhero group representing the southern region of the United States. She passed away last week, reportedly from natural causes. Though some speculate foul play. Nope. You didn’t say much of anything that was interesting, although you managed to kill the comma after “causes.” If you want to be semi-interesting, then you take the last sentence and move it to its own balloon.

      Panel 3: Show a camera man and the reporter moving towards the gate, as people are walking out of it. At the head of the group is Samantha, a few feet in front of everyone.

      Reporter: Oh, here’s a former member of the Belles – Bautista. Known for “baptising” her enemies in fire. Comma, not a period.

      Panel 4: The reporter has caught up to Samantha, with a microphone shoved upon her. Samantha has a look of shock on her face.

      Reporter: Bautista, can we have a moment of your time? How was the ceremony? Are you convinced of natural causes being the reason for Prima Donna’s death? I like this. Why? Because it got a strong reaction out of me. Because of the stupidity of the “ceremony” question, the reporter now should be baptized in fire. Lots of it.

      Panel 5: Samantha is raging. Show her hand on fire in front of the news camera. With the lens exploding. The reporter is turned away in fright. Pretty decent! But, what’s the cameraman doing?

      Samantha: Get that DAMN thing outta’ my face!

      SFX: BOOOOM!

      Page 3 (Seven Panels)

      Panel 1: Margaret is at the passenger side of a car, her husband, a older looking black man in a black suit is at the driver side door. Samantha is walking up to the car.

      Samantha: Margaret, wait up. We’ve gotta talk.

      Panel 2: Samantha is looking down at Margaret, with a look of sadness on her face.

      Margaret: Hi, Sam. It’s been a long time. How’ve you been holding up this past week?

      Samantha: I’ve been trying to get ahold of you since Rebecca died. Where have you been?

      Margaret: I’m sorry Sam. I’ve been so busy working at the church and I just got preoccupied. First script, folks, and he does the exchange right! Good work, Johnny! A two-person exchange with three balloons! I like it!

      Panel 3: Samantha looks down at Margaret with an anxious look on her face.

      Samantha: Listen, I know we didn’t leave things on the most positive note last time we talked. There’s something important I need to tell you though. Comma after “you.”

      Margaret: Sam, I wasn’t ignoring you…

      Samantha: It’s ok if you didn’t want to talk but we have bigger problems need attending to. I don’t think Rebecca died from natural causes. You seem to suffer from the same problem that John Lees suffers from: lack of drama. I’m beginning to think a quick hits of B&N is going to be in order. Whenever you want to say something dramatic, put it in a separate balloon. Like that last line. And the comma should go after “talk.” What, you didn’t think I was going to leave it, did you?

      Panel 4: Margaret is looking down at the ground, with a sad expression.

      Margaret: Rebecca’s gone. She was getting old, just like the rest of us. Our sunset is coming soon too. Comma after “too.”

      Samantha: Died from old age? There’s no way. Her powers would have extended her life beyond a normal person. How can you not see that?

      Margaret: Sam…

      Panel 5: Margaret is looking up at Sam, with a hand on her shoulder. Facial expressions? You’re missing a lot of those lately.

      Margaret: Did you listen to the priest’s words? She’s at peace now. She earned it.

      Samantha: I don’t buy it. You have intuitive powers, use them. Can’t you sense something is wrong?

      Margaret: There’s nothing to sense. Rebecca passed is all. The police found no evidence of any wrong doing. Comma after “passed.” Wrongdoing is one word.

      Panel 6: Samantha is angry, and a few steps back away from Margaret.

      Samantha: That’s all you have to say?! After all the years we spent as Belles, and you accept the police’s report?!

      Margaret: Sam, calm down. Your anger will not lead you down any road you want to be on. I’m goin to pray you will find peace. That’s all I can do for you now. Just let it go.

      Panel 7: Margaret has the car door opened, and her body halfway into the car. Samantha is standing outside, walking away from the car with a look of defeat.

      Samantha: I can’t. I just can’t Period.

      Overall, not bad at all. You got in some things, built a mystery, and did some characterization, all in three panels.

      Commas. Nuff said.

      Drama. Think harder about it.

      That’s all.

      Good work here. I liked it!

  5. Johnny Vinson says:

    Wow, thanks for taking the time to critique my work Steven. I’ll try and keep the commas in mind going forward. Definitely going to keep up with B&N, and I’m going to pick up that DC Guide for Comic Writing.

    • Always happy to help.

      AFTER you get the DC Guide, look into getting Understanding Comics. One is a How To, and the other is a This Is Why. They’re both excellent for what they do.

  6. Sarah says:

    I think my problem might be with what you call moving panels, I just got to be honest. For example:

    PAGE ONE: (3 Panels)

    Panel 1. Hideaki Hajime dives swims into the ocean to attempt to rescue one of the official bodygaurds from being dragged under by a shark.

    Panel 2. Instead he ends up almost making it worse, and his childhood friend intervenes in the rescue.

    Panel 3. The official life guard decides to award Hideaki’s childhood friend the prize, even though she did not enter.

    See what I mean? Freeze frames it harder than I might think!

  7. Paula says:

    The difficulty of thinking in static frames is part of what got me to try sketching out thumbnail versions of my pages first – now I have glorified stick figures running amok in the midst of captions and word balloons and sound effects 🙂 It’s horrifyingly ugly, but at least I know what can fit in a panel and how much can go on a page.

    Do you think in terms of two-page spreads? Page one is one page since the inside of the cover isn’t for story purposes, but pages two and three can be seen simultaneously. I’ve been worrying about putting a problem and a payoff in the same spread – I want the reader to turn the page for the payoff and be led to another problem (probably generated by the last payoff – no solution goes un-problemed 😉 ) but am I making too much of a deal out of that? When I started I thought, wow, seeing two pages at once in a more visually accessible media is going to create a new issue with pacing! But if that isn’t really a factor, then that would make it easier to edit.

    • Hello, Paula!

      You see to have the right idea! Just approaching the problem of sretching your story over actual physical pages is a good way to visualize how you’re going to structure is as a script. From what I can see, you’re off to a very good start – especially if you keep on reading Steven’s B&N column. You might also want to check out the Proving Grounds. You’ll see a lot of what is teached in B&N being put into practice there. And when it isn’t…

      Also join us on the ComixTribe forums (http://forum.comixtribe.com/forum.php) if you want to discuss some ideas outside the frame of these articles. Just make sure to register under your real name, otherwise your request will get eaten by the terrifying ComixTribe Guard Leeches!

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