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TPG Week 9: Dialogue Is Subjective

| February 25, 2011 | 7 Comments

Hello, one and all! Welcome back to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we get to talk about the most subjective part of the script, the dialogue!

David Grodsky is this week’s Brave One, facing the red font of doom! Let’s see how he does!

Note: The captions were highlighted in blue, and there were some yellow highlights as well. The yellow was for dialogue David wasn’t happy with. That highlighting messed with the formatting here. All of the dialogue is in uppercase. I’m not going to retype all of that. It’s just not going to happen.  And before you ask, no, WordPress doesn’t have a change case option. So, don’t sweat the upper and lower case. I’m not.

And with that, we’re off!

The Vanguard

PAGE 1: 6 PANELS

NOTE: All panels on this page are elongated.

P1) Mid-range shot of a sweaty Alana, her hair tied back, in workout clothes punching a punching bag. She is in the underground workout room of the facility where she and Nyx have been living for a year. It’s a fully stocked modern gym but she is the only person there. A couple of details to work in over the next two pages include: a bench nearby where her towel lays, a rack of callisthenic equipment that includes a jump rope, kettle balls, and a thin rod used for side bends, along with a large TV in a corner that also serves as a communication station. (Decent setup. My only major complaint with this is the second sentence. It doesn’t belong. There is no way that the artist is going to be able to get that information across in the art. Other than that, I have no complaints.)

ALANA 1 [CAPTION]
I know it is pointless to hope against all hope…To want what I know is unobtainable. but i will not – can not – give up. (Okay, Dave. This right here? Not good. This is an internal monologue. Know what I did? I immediately switched it to thought balloons in my head. Because in general, that’s what they are. Now, if she’s writing in a journal, that’s one thing. If she’s the narrator of the story, that’s another thing. Both of those I can understand. But this is too immediate to me. It feels like she’s thinking this right now. But the dialogue itself? No. This is going to have to be torn out, burned, and never mentioned again. And I have a feeling there’s going to be a good part of it that’s going to end up on the floor. That’s just my immediate response. [See, Jamie? I was mostly gentle.])

ALANA 2 [CAPTION]
there is a way to get back home. there must be. to admit otherwise is to admit everything I have ever known is gone. (This needs to be ripped out, too. This is totally unserviceable.)

NAME TAG 1(I have no idea what this is supposed to be. A caption? A tag on her shirt? What?)
ALANA RENOR
REFUGEE

P2) Flashback: This is a midrange side shot of Alana dressed in her Royal Guard uniform walking through her home city of K’tar in late morning. The frame places her inside a city of ancient grandeur and beauty but for now it is non-specific. A breeze is blowing into her face, her hair flowing effortlessly. She is in mid-turn as people race past her. (No. I’m in something close to a white void. I know what I WANT to see, but it may not be what YOU’RE seeing. Because you changed locations, you have to do a proper establishing shot. Who, Where, When, and What. There isn’t enough information for the artist to work from. They’re going to ask questions that should already be answered in the script. What think you, Calvin?)

alana 3 [CAPTION]
Every morning, I beat that final memory into life.(Comma.)

alana 4 [CAPTION]
my own private torture.

ALANA 5 [CAPTION]
I remember the morning air, how it made my skin tingle. (Overwriting. And it does nothing to address the people who are running past her. No idea why they’re running yet. Don’t even know what their expressions are. Don’t even know what HER expression is. But it is conspicuous in the non-addressing of it.)

P3) POV from near the punching bag as Alana kicks the bag hard. Her brow is furrowed in determination.

ALANA 6 [CAPTION]
at the time I thought It was my nerves…about what I had to do. It turned out to be an — amen?

ALANA 7 [CAPTION]
no, omen. ( But, I’m liking the “mistake.” It shows characterization. Nice.)

P4) Flashback: Similar to Panel 2 but POV is now looking directly at Alana. She is peering above our heads, her hand creating a visor for her eyes as she looks above our heads with a squinty confused look.

ALANA 8 [CAPTION]
when I first saw it i thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – as if the goddess herself was shining down on us. (This dialogue does not match the tone of her expression in this panel. They have to match, in order to give proper emotional context.)

P5) Panel size is a sliver and a similar angle as Panel 3. Alana is letting out her frustration on the punching bag with an even more powerful punch; her face is a mixture of pain and anger. (No. Pick one. The “cleaner” the emotion, the easier it is for the artist to draw. This is akin to prose writing, not comic writing.)

ALANA 9 [CAPTION]
LITTLE DID I KNOW…

P6) Flashback: This is an even smaller sliver from the same scene, focusing just on Alana’s eyes wide open in fear.
NO COPY

PAGES 2-3: SPLASH PAGE

P1) Flashback: This is a wide angle shot of the city of K’tar from about one-story up and behind Alana. Alana stands to the left slightly turning away and blocking her face with her arm, the late morning sun shines down revealing the city in its complete splendor, full of greenery, and very clean with a hodge podge of architecture with Egyptian, Persian, Indian, and Chinese influences EXCEPT classical Roman and Greek (it’s a bit overdone, don’t you think?).  Think of how any city’s skyline has various architecture designs that still seem to somehow give the city its own unique feel: think “regal”. Don’t forget that A’gea is 200 years ahead of us in technology just keep everything this side of flying cars and such. Rolling out in front of Alana is the grassy courtyard that leads up to the huge double doors of the Hall of Kings, a military museum. This building will appear later.

From out of the sky off panel (top), a large ray of bright blinding light is shooting into the ground in the background of the city, incinerating the clouds it cuts through. It hits far enough away that we do not perceive Alana to be in immediate danger but is close enough that we can see the devastating impact it has. However this light is actually a laser cannon that plows through the planet’s crust like a 5-year-old punching a birthday cake, the ground buckling under the amazing power. People are running away from it past Alana. This is the end of the world.

The first caption appears near the top left of Page 2, the rest appear near the bottom of Page 3 in a cascading format so that the final caption is near the bottom right of Page 3.

ALANA 1 [CAPTION]
it would be THE LAST i would ever see of my home.

ALANA 2 [CAPTION]
as the seat of power, K’TAR HAD MANY ENEMIES, BUT ONLY A FEW POSSESSED THE POWER to carve out THE HEART OUT OF THE A’GEAN EMPIRE.

ALANA 3 [CAPTION]
for the past year i have felt disconnected, wondering why i survived when so many died. i have searched my heart and know now why the great goddess spared me.

alana 4
i am to be the arbitor of justice for my people.

(From top to bottom, the dialogue is going to have to go.)

I’m not the biggest believer in double-splash pages. This one works, though. Just make sure you get some layouts from your artist about how this is going to look. If the city is going to be a character, too, then it also needs to be designed.

PAGE 4; 5 PANELS

P1) Cut to: Alana is side kicking the punching bag; POV is from the side of the bag looking back at her. She is very focused on what she is doing. (Not the most interesting of views, but it’s different.)

ALANA 1 [CAPTION]
i take on this task with honor. i will not fail. I WILL FIND A WAY BACK HOME. I WILL FIND OUt the truth of what happened. AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL…

ALANA 2 [CAPTION]
I WILL FIND OUT who is to blame.

NYX 1 [OFF PANEL]
HEY, ALANA. (Comma.)

P2) Alana has whipped around and now stands with her fist a few inches away from NYX’s startled face, his hands up in a defensive posture.

NYX 2
WHOA! HEY, IT’S JUST ME! (I don’t like bolded words. They’re too easy to lose when the text gets converted by the letterer. I’m a big fan of underlining. It’s harder to lose, and lets the letterer know something special should be done with the words.)

NAME TAG 1
NYXAL FURMANNON
REFUGEE

ALANA 3 [CAPTION]
THERE WAS ONE OTHER SURVIVOR.

P3) Side shot of the room. Alana is drying off her hair with the towel.

ALANA 4
I AM SORRY, NYX. (Comma.)

ALANA 5 [CONNECTED]
WHAT ARE YOU DOING DOWN HERE? YOU HATE WORKING OUT. (Here’s something it takes a while to learn, but I’m hoping you take to heart: whenever you stress a word, you’re taking the choice away from the reader, increasing the chance that you could be “wrong.” If you don’t stress the word, then they’ll put the stress in themselves. This is a perfect example: You stressed “doing.” However, when I read the second sentence, I would have stressed “you,” because that makes more sense to me as a reader. Thus, I think you’re “wrong” at your point of stress. If you had left me to my own devices, I would have stressed “you” and kept it moving, and you wouldn’t have been “wrong.” Now, twenty years ago and more, Marvel comics would stress random words in order to break up the flow that they thought was monotonous. In today, that doesn’t happen, and only the words that need to be are stressed. Yep. A lot of red for a little line. Oh, and while I’m here, you don’t need to say “connected.” The letterer will connect the balloons, 9 times out of 10, unless you tell them not to in order to heighten the drama of what is being said.)

ALANA 6 [CAPTION]
BEFORE WE CAME HERE, I WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN NOTICED NYX WAS ALIVE. OUR LIVES HAD NO REASON TO CROSS PATHS. I WAS A ROYAL GUARDIAN, PROTECTORATE OF THE KING. HE WAS WORKING CLASS. (Comma.)

ALANA7 [CAPTION]
THAT WAS BEFORE.

P4) Nyx grabs the thin bar from the callisthenic rack. Alana gives him a look of annoyance, reacting to his final comment.

NYX 3
I’M SO BORED. NO ONE COMES TO SEE US ANYMORE. I’VE WATCHEDALL THE VIDEOS THEY GAVE US, CONQUERED THE IMAGE GAMES, AND READ ALL THE BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY. (29)

ALANA 8
I ALSO FIND THEIR ENTERTAINMENT LACKING. THEIR LANGUAGES ARE SIMPLISTIC. (10/39)

NYX 4
SAYS THE WOMAN WHO CAN’T USE A CONTRACTION. (Your spoken dialogue is SO MUCH BETTER than your captions. I don’t even know how you did that. This line? I really like it! 8/47)

ALANA 9 [CAPTION]
I AM EMBARRESSED TO ADMIT THAT HE IS ADJUSTING TO LIFE HERE MUCH BETTER THAN I AM. I AM THE ONE TRAINED TO ADAPT TO ANY SITUATION. THIS PLACE IS JUST SO…PRIMATE? (32/79. Tyler, you’re up. Please, tell the story.)

P5) Nyx starts to twirl the bar quickly like a baton. From this angle, the TV monitor is not visible.

NYX 5
ONE OF THE GUARDS TOLD ME THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED THE INTERNET WHERE ALL THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS WORLD IS STORED.

ALANA 10
IT SOUNDS SIMILAR TO A MEMORY GLOBE.

NYX 6
YEAH. WHEN I ASKED IF WE COULD GET ONE I WAS TOLD NO.

RAYMOND 1 [TV] [OFF PANEL] (This should be “elec” for “electric.” This way, readers will know that it is a burst, and the letterer will also immediately know.)
THAT’S BECAUSE —

PAGE 5; 5 PANELS

P1) Sideways shot showing RAYMOND JONES on the TV monitor to one side of the room and Alana and Nyx on the other. Nyx stands with his arms crossed and glares at the screen. (What? What is a “sideways shot”? You want the camera laid on its side for this view? Is that what you’re saying? That’s what you said, but is that what you really mean? Calvin, can you picture this? That’s first. Second, what is Raymond doing? What can we see of him? What’s Alana doing? Questions that need answers.)

RAYMOND 1 [TV]
THIS IS A SECURE FACILITY, NO COMMUNICATION IN OR OUT. IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP YOU SAFE FROM PRYING EYES. (I’m trying to be a kinder, gentler Steven. But when I run across things like this… It’s like a switch is flipped, and I want to become this ravening beast. I then have to step away and take some breaths in order to come back at it in a rational manner. This may take a couple of tries, though. Okay. I’m back. Now, let me get this straight: there is a facility that doesn’t have any kind of communication coming in or going out of it. Really? Know what that means, besides the internet? No television—over the air or cable—and no radio. Again, is that really what you meant? Because that’s what you said, and logistically/realistically speaking, that’s not feasible.)

NAME TAG 1
RAYMOND JONES
BILLIONAIRE PHILANTHROPIST

NYX 1
YOU MEAN KEEP US LOCKED AWAY FROM PRYING EYES. I KNOW A PRISON WHEN I SEE ONE. (Another example of a “bad” stress. It’s only “bad” because I don’t agree with you. Or, I don’t fully agree with you.)

ALANA 1
I AGREE WITH NYX. WE BOTH FEEL —

P2) This panel is tight on the monitor. (Great. We’re tight on the monitor. What do we see? Nothing. Because the monitor is off. Why is the monitor off? Because you didn’t say what we see on the screen. So, all of Raymond’s dialogue? It’s nonexistent. See how one follows the other?)

RAYMOND 2 [TV]
LATER.– MEET ME IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM. (Period. Not an em-dash.)

RAYMOND 3 [TV]
IT’S BACK.
(See this? These two panels should be shoved up to the previous page, because this is a great place to go to a new page.)

P3) Cut to: The outside of the facility, a small abandoned airport that has been converted into a secret back-up base for the Sovereign Corp to use in emergencies. For the last year it has also been used to house Alana and Nyx(This sentence, and every word after “base” is useless. It’s useless information, because there is no way for it to come across either in pictures or to add ambiance for the artist. If it’s not helping, then it needs to go. It needs to go.). It is mid-morning, there is a large sign that reads MARIETTA REGIONAL AIRPORT with a diagonal placard across that front that says CLOSED. Standing in front of it is a smaller sign that reads PROPERTY OF R.J. ENTERPRISES — KEEP OUT. Encircling the compound is a high and very sturdy chain and concrete fence. There are guards walking the perimeter and in the air traffic control tower now used as an outlook.

It is not necessary to show in this shot but there are 5 nondescript buildings near the small airfield including one hangar. The voice balloons are coming out of a 2-story rectangular building. (You can show the buildings, depending on the camera angle. The camera angle that you didn’t mention. So, where’s the camera?)

ALANA 2 [CAPTION]
FROM STUDYING THE BOOKS AND RECORDINGS GIVEN TO US, I HAVE CONDLUDED THAT MOST TERRANS FEEL COMPELLED TO TELL EACH OTHER WHAT TO DO. (Comma.)

SHADOW MASTER 1 [OFF PANEL] (No. See the B&N on Dialogue when it comes up. You have three options here, and one of them is dependent on the art. If the buildings are shown, then the balloons are coming from there. If the buildings are not shown, then these should be in captions. If the characters are in the scene depicted in this panel, that is the ONLY way the dialogue can come from off panel. So, which is it?)
This is not a negotiation.

RAYMOND 4 [OFF PANEL]
IF ANYONE ON THIS PLANET DESERVES TO GO THERE, IT’S THOSE TWO.

ALANA 3 [CAPTION]
IT SEEMS THIS ATTITUDE IS A REQUIREMENT TO BE ONE OF THESE ODDLY NAMED SUPERIOR HEROES. THEY SEEM INTENT ON KEEPING OUR PRESENCE A SECRET, THOUGH I DO NOT KNOW WHY. (Comma.)

P4) Cut to: The back-up conference room for the Sovereign Corps. It is surprisingly sparse but has the requisite monitor screens and computers and every trapping of a super-hero hub. Leaning against the center table is RAYMOND JONES, nearby stands MILLENNIA while directly in front of Raymond stands SHADOW MASTER. Shadow Master points a finger at Raymond who is unmoved by her protest. (This is not a good establishing shot. I’m not seeing this well in my head. Beef it up. How big is the table? Is it round or rectangular? Does the area have a run down look, or does it sparkle? How big is it? Are there really only three people in there?)

SHADOW MASTER 2
WE LOST A GREAT MAN THE LAST TIME, AND that WILL NOT happen AGAIN. I’ve recalled the rest of the Sovereign Corps from the Peru avalanche.  In 30 minutes —  (Comma. 29)

NAME TAG 2
SHADOW MASTER
COMMANDS SHADOW CREATURES (Hm. I don’t know. I’m not talking about the powers, I’m talking about the description of her powers in whatever this is supposed to be. You didn’t do it for others, because I’m guessing that Alana has powers. But that’s a guess. 5/34)

NAME TAG 3
MILLENNIA
TELEPATHY, PSYCHO-KINESIS (3/37)

RAYMOND 5
we may not have 30 minutes. i can get us there IN TEN. (13/50)

ALANA 4 [CAPTION]
SHADOW MASTER IS THE LEADER OF THE SOVEREIGN CORPS, A GROUP SIMILAR TO THE ROYAL GUARD BACK HOME. SHE WAS the FIRST TO FIND US WHEN WE ARRIVED HERE. (29/79)

ALANA 5 [CAPTION]
I FIND HER OVERBEARING AND single-minded. (7/86)

aLANA 6 [CAPTION]
WE HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON. (5/91)
(I just lost my entire mind. 91 words in this single panel? Where is the art supposed to be?)

P5) This is closer on Raymond as he gently tries to make his point. (What does his body language say?)

RAYMOND 4
LOOK — ALANA AND NYX LOST EVERYTHING WHEN THEY WERE RESCUED. I AM NOT GOING TO DENY THEM THIS.

ALANA 7 [CAPTION]
putting us in the care of RAYMOND jones WAS ONE OF HER FIRST ACTS. he serves as one of the group’s benefactor, and though HE IS friendly, his openness is a false face. (Comma.)

And that’s enough of that.

Let’s run it down.

Format: The format here is a little sketchy, but not by much. Page breaks are key. Every time you start a new page, insert a page break. See the B&N about formatting if you don’t know what I mean.

The second part is you added a truly unnecessary step with the coloring of the captions. You see what happened here? That’s what’s going to happen to your dialogue when the letterer gets it. And then, they’re going to hate you. Do you want them not to hate you? Don’t put highlights in your script. It’s not doing anyone any good whatsoever. Or, if you absolutely MUST because it helps you with your thoughts, UNDO IT before it goes to the rest of the creative team. That includes the editor.

Panel descriptions: These could use some work. I was in a white void at times, and there were times when there just wasn’t any clarity at all. Also, when doing establishing shots, don’t forget the four W’s: Who, Where, When, and What.

Dialogue: Here is where you have the biggest problem.

The captions are really not good. Really. For the most part, they have to come out. It is almost in direct contrast to your spoken dialogue, which is a situation I find hilarious. Your spoken dialogue just needs some guidance here and there, while the captions just need to come out, wholesale.

Now, dialogue is the most subjective part of the script. What one reader finds finds acceptable, another will find to be execrable. You will NEVER be able to please everyone when it comes to dialogue. The most you can hope for is to please a decent amount of people. Dialogue is what’s going to drive the story. Just remember to do yourself a favor and make sure that every word uttered either reveals character or advances the plot, if not both. Tyler would call most of the captions “on the nose,” and tell you to come at it sideways. I’d say that this would be very sound advice.

As I said in Bolts & Nuts, make sure that you have as many words as will comfortably fit in a panel. In general, panels CANNOT hold 70+ words. You have to have space for the art. I once made Tyler do an object lesson in which he had to cram a certain number of words onto a page, with art. He did it, but it was a squeeze. I don’t think he’s had that problem since. Just remember to leave enough space for the art.

Content: As a first issue, this is beginning is “meh.” The overwriting doesn’t help your case any, and then there’s the fact that I just don’t find the beginning interesting. So they’re new to the planet. So they’re refugees. The big question is this: so? There isn’t anything here to pull me into the story. I don’t care about the characters, and the flashback right at the beginning isn’t helping to draw me in. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. It’s making me want to put it back on the shelf. Why? Because it’s boring, and we’ve seen it before.

You also have a logic problem in there that just about gave me an aneurysm. That is going to turn readers off very much.

My advice? Cut the captions. Show the world or whatever being destroyed in the first few pages, with either Alana or Nyx in danger, and then cut to the scene of her working out. That should help draw people in. Go on with your story from there.

And that does it for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s next!

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Category: The Proving Grounds

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.

Comments (7)

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  1. Tyler James says:

    Since Steven asked nicely…
    Page 4 is a 5 panel page. In panel 4, which, as you set up, will be be a medium sized panel at best, you’re calling for 4 separate dialogue balloons/captions for a total of 79 words. That’s not going to fit. You’ll cover all of your art.

    Need an illustrative example? Check out this little exercise Steven had me do a few years back: http://tylerjamescomics.blogspot.com/2008/11/creators-toolkit-7-too-many-damned.html

    • Thanks, Tyler.

      Here’s something else writers forget: there is negative space in a word balloon.

      In order for the balloon to “breath” well, there needs to be space all around the words of a (rounded) balloon. If there isn’t enough space, it’s going to look and feel cramped. A general rule that letterer’s use is a single character space around all the words of a balloon.

      When you have a lot of words in a balloon, you’re asking for more negative space to be used, which is doing nothing more than covering up art. Don’t do that.

      If you look at Tyler’s example, he had to draw small and fit the words all around what he drew. And those were simple pictures. Imagine if there were a lot going on in each panel! The words would cover the art, and it’d be no good.

      Take the negative space into account, folks. It’ll help. (And learn to letter!)

      • Tyler James says:

        And just to piggy back on that, shoddy lettering is one of the things that most clearly separates most indy books from the pros. There’s no excuse for it.

        If the lettering is great, readers hardly notice it. But that’s a good thing. It means they’ll judge you on the merits of the story. (What you want.) If the lettering is shoddy, no matter how good the story is, a reader is going to think, “Wow, this guy didn’t even care enough to make this thing legible. Why should I even bother with it?”

        Oh, and if you’re lettering in Photoshop, 9 times out of 10, the lettering is going to be subpar. Illustrator, kids. Illustrator.

  2. Calvin Camp says:

    “Who, Where, When, and What. There isn’t enough information for the artist to work from. They’re going to ask questions that should already be answered in the script. What think you, Calvin?”

    I think it’s only critically missing the, “what”. We’ve got who – Alana and some generic extras who are running. We’ve got the where – “a city of ancient grandeur and beauty” (I’d kind of like a little more for that – is she on a city street, in a park, etc – but unless the writer had something specific in mind, it’s the sort of thing that I could see leaving to the artist. As long as the writer is willing to accept the artist’s interpretation of a grand and beautiful ancient city, it’s all good). We’ve got the when – late morning. So I’m not too concerned with a white void.

    [Edit: Reading farther ahead, I see that the writer was actually expecting a lot more than he was describing. I get into that below. What I said above would hold true if he hadn’t changed his mind mid-script and started describing things that should have been described here. Given what comes later, it’s wrong.]

    But what we DON’T have is the what – What’s happening here? Are the running people out for a morning jog and Alana is just glancing at them as they pass? Maybe turning to say hello to one of the runners that she recognized? Or are these people running scared, and Alana is turning to look after them in surprise? And are the people running toward the camera or away from it?

    __

    “P6) Flashback: This is an even smaller sliver from the same scene, focusing just on Alana’s eyes wide open in fear.”

    This concerns me a little. Unless the artist is using some visual method to distinguish between flashbacks and current time, the reader will have no way to tell if this shot is from the flashback scene or from the gym scene. So it could, potentially, cause some confusion. Of course, if the artist IS using some visual method to distinguish the two, it’s fine.

    __

    “full of greenery, and very clean with a hodge podge of architecture with Egyptian, Persian, Indian, and Chinese influences EXCEPT classical Roman and Greek (it’s a bit overdone, don’t you think?).  Think of how any city’s skyline has various architecture designs that still seem to somehow give the city its own unique feel: think “regal”. Don’t forget that A’gea is 200 years ahead of us in technology just keep everything this side of flying cars and such. Rolling out in front of Alana is the grassy courtyard that leads up to the huge double doors of the Hall of Kings, a military museum.”

    Okay, here is where leaving the interpretation of the city up to the artist (in panel 2) falls completely apart. You know what you want the city to look like, and you aren’t leaving it up to the artist to run with based solely on “ancient grandeur and beauty” – so all of this needed to be described when the city first appeared.

    __

    “Calvin, can you picture this?”

    Not really. I could put together a shot that contained the elements he calls for, but I’d have no idea if it was really what he was looking for. I think what he needs is a shot that places the monitor to one side of Alana and Nyx, with the camera looking more-or-less directly at the monitor, which would mean showing Alana and Nyx from a side view – so perhaps that’s what he meant by “sideways shot,” but there’s no way to be sure.

    But I also want to know where the monitor came from. There was a tv mentioned earlier, but it was in a corner – now it’s on one side of the room. So it’s either something different, or things are moving around.

    __

    “Now, let me get this straight: there is a facility that doesn’t have any kind of communication coming in or going out of it. Really? Know what that means, besides the internet? No television—over the air or cable—and no radio. Again, is that really what you meant? Because that’s what you said, and logistically/realistically speaking, that’s not feasible.”

    Well… It probably COULD be feasible. I mean, sure, the facility will be totally isolated, but is that actually a problem? Nyx has been watching videos, not broadcast tv, so the internal logic is consistent. So far. As long as it stays that way, and everything about the facility remains self-contained, I could probably accept it. But it certainly is worth pointing out, if only to make sure the writer sticks to it (which I’m already suspecting he hasn’t, by the end of the excerpt – how did Shadowmaster recall the rest of the Corp, if there is no outside communication?) Overall, it’s more likely that it’s just Alana and Nyx who are being isolated).

    ___

    One last issue I have with the descriptions is that I’m not entirely certain, when we move to the outside of the airport/facility, what world we’re supposed to be in. Are we still in Alana’s world with the “ancient grandeur and beauty” (that turns out to be futuristic instead), or a post-apocalyptic version of it, or in “our” world. The vibe I get is the later, but it’s little more than a guess. And that makes the same question arise for the interior current-timeline interior scenes – are they supposed to be ancient, grand and beautiful; are they supposed to be futuristic; or are they supposed to be mundane “real-world” settings?

  3. David Grodsky says:

    Thanks guys. I sincerely appreciate the feedback. My feelings are not hurt in THE slightest (there’s a joke in there). On that subject though, I have received conflicting feedback – some people say don’t use word emphasis, others say it is an essential element to telling the story and even then there is little agreement regarding how emphasis should occur. While I was followed an example Mark Waid provided on his blog a few years ago I have not qualms about dropping it.

    I know I have significant problems with panel descriptions so I appreciate that dissection and the criticism did not fall on deaf ears (eyes?).

    One thing that I mentioned to Steven was that there is a bible for this story, which I felt was an easier way to convey details story-wise to the artist rather then trying to cram detail after detail into the actual script (for example, what a Name Tag is and how it should graphically appear in the story).

    Here’s a question – I have seen some scripts use hyperlinks to images that give visual reference for the artist to start with. What do you think? (I’d host the images on an image blog to ensure they are always accessible)

    I have been working on this thing so long that I have been unable to step back far enough; everyone telling me how this thing is not working for them is a great benefit. Thanks again.

    • Like I said, it’s not wrong to use emphasis on words. However, the way I place my emphasis isn’t always the way you place your emphasis.

      Let’s look at that last sentence.

      I wrote it straight:
      However, the way I place my emphasis isn’t always the way you place your emphasis.

      Now, let’s look at how it could go.
      However, the way I place my emphasis isn’t always the way you place your emphasis.

      Or this:
      However, the way I place my emphasis isn’t always the way you place your emphasis.

      Which way is right? Is there a wrong way? The only wrong way is if you said or implied something you didn’t mean to say or imply. Other than that, it is up to the reader interpretation.

      And that’s what I was getting at. If you leave it up to reader interpretation, you generally can’t go wrong.

      I’m just not a fan of bolding.

      Now, about references: it is ALWAYS (notice the emphasis?) a great idea to use a hyperlink if you can get one, or to put the pic itself into the script. I was just doing some edits on some layouts for Epic, and I shot both Tyler and Matt a link about how I thought something should go, because it made better sense to me a certain way than the way it was depicted in the layouts.

      The great thing with links/pics is that the artist then immediately knows what you’re going after, and can work accordingly. Sometimes, that photo reference could be the best thing for a panel description.

      And finally, you’re welcome! This is what The Proving Grounds is all about! As long as you’re finding it useful and I continue to get scripts in, I’ll keep doing it.

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