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TPG Week 39A: To Creep, Or Not To Creep

| September 24, 2011 | 7 Comments

Hey!

I’ve never claimed to be smart. Not once. So, that allows me some leeway for mistakes. My mistake was in posting a script weeks before it was scheduled. That caused Evan to miss his scheduled day, which is why this is being posted on a Saturday.

So, our Brave One this week is Evan Windsor, who made some notes, telling me that this already has an artist attached, and the script is vague in some points because he is talking directly to the artist about some things. Let’s see what the rest looks like, shall we? Let’s see what happens on 

 

 

Coriander’s Day

PAGE 1 (6 Panels)

Panel 1:

External – Florist shop. A sign denotes that it is “Theresa’s Flowers” I don’t really care what the design of the shop is, so go nuts. Also in view is a parking lot, and parked in it is Coriander’s car, an El Camino (and not a nice one, if that’s even possible). Again, I don’t really care where the parking lot is in relation to the store (adjacent probably, because I want a relatively close shot) but it’s important that the car not be visible from the inside in any future scenes, so if there are large windows in the store design, keep that in mind. (So, italics for the panel descriptions. Doesn’t bother me at all. Just noticing it. Notice, he’s giving the artist leeway, but also stating what he wants—or in this case, what he doesn’t. He DOESN’T want the car to be visible from inside the store. So, we have a Where, but we don’t have a When, which is also important. So, what time of day is it, Evan?)

Panel 2:

Inside the florist store now. There is a large counter area with a cash register on it, and a lot of room for employees to work on arrangements right there. It needs to be deep enough for someone to sit on comfortably (for later). Above the counter there are there is a storage area for ribbon and various tools such as shears (something like this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_FIMI_1T3KXs/S5MwehAdJ1I/AAAAAAAAEfo/RlG0Pe0V1OI/s1600-h/IMG_7043.JPG). I hope you like drawing flowers, because there’s an awful lot of them, all around the store. The good news is, unless specifically noted, I don’t care what type of flowers you draw. So if you’re in the mood to draw lillies, draw lillies. Or tulips. or roses. Whatever you want.Cori is behind the counter, hard at work on a floral arrangement. Since the currently prevailing logic is that I don’t want the captions telegraphing the story, you will need to draw Cori pretty melancholy all page to illustrate the point that she’s not happy working there. (Ah! See that? Not only did he provide a link, he also told his artist that the main character, Cori, isn’t happy. That’s important! Am I going to harp on the fact that the panel description is a little wordy? Nope. Because he’s talking directly to the artist. It works. And, just for the record, we now have a Who and a What. Just missing the When, Evan.)

 

Panel 3:

Simon has approached Cori but she hasn’t noticed him yet. He tries to get her attention. He is clearly looking at her name tag. Simon is relaxed, confident, and professional. Its important that throughout he is portrayed as casual, not intense and overbearing so he appears suave and not creepy. (And now, Simon is magically delicious. Why am I saying that, Kyle?)

Simon: Hi there, um… Cori? That short for something? (And now we have our first dialogue. Not bad, for three panels in. We also have a name stated, organically, even though it is a bit redundant. But it’s understandable. I won’t ding him for it. For the second thing, an ellipsis has two purposes: one is to end a sentence, making it sound as if it is trailing off; and the second is to provide a short pause within a sentence. How do you know which is which? Space, or the lack thereof. If you want the pause, DON’T put a space between the ellipsis and the next word. It should look like…this. The way you have it here is incorrect, Evan.)

 

Panel 4:

Cori looks up and makes eye contact but stays hunched over the arrangement working

Cori: Coriander. My parents were hippies, which explains why they bought a flower store and force me to work here. What can I do for you?

 

Panel 5:

Simon and Cori still talking. neither of them show much emotion, really. They are, at this point, just a clerk and a customer talking.

Simon: I’m trying to impress a girl, but I don’t know anything about flowers.

Cori: Don’t worry, most guys who come in here are just as clueless. Any ideas?

Simon: Not really. What kind of flowers does your boyfriend buy you?

 

Panel 6:

Cori has stood up and sets down the tool she was using. This dialogue is an embarrassing blurt – but don’t show the embarrassment yet. Just show her having relaxed a bit and becoming conversational. (Moving panel. And I think it would be a little better if she at least still had the tool in her hand. Makes it look more natural.)

Cori: Ha! No boyfriend, and none of my exes ever bought me flowers. One of them bought me a car once but that’s about the closest it ever got. You’ll need a new metric. (Comma-fail, middle sentence.)

PAGE 2 (7 Panels)

Panel 1:

Cori gets big eyes and flush cheeks – she is embarrassed she just let that slip out at work and attempts to regain composure.

Cori: Wow, sorry. You came for flowers, not to hear a stranger’s personal problems.

 

Panel 2:

Simon genuinely seems to not mind, still seeming casual and cool. Subtle smile on Cori’s face here. the embarrassment she felt the previous panel has already melted away and she looks relieved to be talking to a customer who isn’t being an asshole. At this point, Cori is stepping out from behind the counter and gestuing that Simon follow her.

Simon: Hey, don’t worry about it, I don’t mind. Was it at least a nice car?

Cori: It was a heavily used ‘73 El Camino and he only bought it for me so I could transport his motorcycle. (Comma-fail.)

Simon: Ouch.

 

Panel 3:

They’ve walked over to the daffodils and Cori is showing them off. Close enough shot, that you can see the flowers in some detail. it’s a nice big pot with about a dozen daffodils arranged artfully. I don’t really know a lot about flowers but make it look nice.

Cori: Well, if you’re looking to get flowers to symbolize the start of something new, I’d go with Daffodils. They just came into season and are a sign of Spring and new life.

 

Panel 4:

Cori finishes her sales pitch but you can tell that it was hard for her to be cheerful about someone else’s happy ending while she’s alone. Subtle hints of loneliness on her face. (Depending on how strong your artist is, it will be difficult to get “subtle.” In comics, “subtle” is very difficult, because there aren’t the cues of body language, tone, and inflections to let us know what someone else is feeling. This may not come across the way you see it in your head. And that tells us nothing of what Simon is doing.)

Cori: You’ll make your girl very happy.

Simon: Wow, thank you so much, that sounds perfect. I would have never figured that out! You have a gift for this sort of thing. (This sounds condescending to me. The last two sentences should be reworded.)

 

Panel 5:

Cori blushes shyly, she’s not used to receiving compliments like this. Simon cracks a bit of a smirk here. But again, make sure this looks like suave professional with confidence talking to ladies, not creepy date rapist.

Cori: Aww, I’m just doing my job.

Simon: No, you’re a life saver. Let me thank you. Let me buy you dinner! (You want to get this to come across better, then Simon should be doing more than cracking a smile. He should be doing something with his hands. Let his body do some talking.)

 

Panel 6:

Cori is a bit taken aback and is declining out of shyness – so draw her kind of awkwardly pleased and shy.

Cori: I can’t. I have to close tonight. Plus you’ve got to get your flowers home to your lady.

Simon: Let me go buy some takeout and we can have dinner here. I’ll leave in plenty of time to get the flowers delivered. (You wanted non-creepy, right? Well, this is creepy. Right here.)

 

Panel 7:

Cori cracks a full on smile. Make sure this panel, at least, has a window visible and it is daytime.(Daytime! Finally, we have a time of day. However, you should have told your artist this back on P1, panel 1.)

Cori: Okay. (And this? I understand that her agreement is essential to the plot, but it also speaks to her character.)

PAGE 3 (5 Panels)

Panel 1:

Simon is sitting on the counter by the register holding a soda cup, a crumpled paper bag on the counter next to him holds the garbage remains of their dinner. There is a shelf above the counter which holds many things, including ribbon. Cori has returned to work, she is trimming the bottom of a long-stem rose. Both are smiling and laughing, having a good time. A window (the same window?) is visible and it is much darker out, showing the passage of time.

Simon: Oh man! Josh seriously did that? Oh my god, what a dick. (Comma-fail, first sentence. The second sentence shows familiarity with someone not mentioned before. If he knows Josh, fine. If he doesn’t, that’s going to be a problem. And no, “god” more than likely won’t need to be capitalized, because the letterer will more than likely use an all-caps font.)

Cori: The worst part is, we got there and she wasn’t even home!

 

Panel 2:

Cori is working on the counter next to Simon now. She is wrapping the bottom of the rose in clear plastic to make a cone. (Vagueness is one thing, but really, what is Simon doing? If you put all the pertinent information in the script, you won’t need to worry about the artist asking you questions you should already have answered in the first place.)

Simon: Look, I never met the guy but he sounds like a real asshole. You’re doing just fine without him. (Comma-fail.)

Cori: Yeah, I guess you’re right.

 

Panel 3:

Cori reaches up to get some ribbon from above the counter, starting to lean in front of Simon to do so (And again, what is he doing? Your artist asks you a decent amount of questions, don’t they?)

Simon: You’re a pretty girl and you’re smart. You’ve got a good thing going here. Someone will come swoop you up someday. Don’t give up hope.

 

Panel 4:

Coriander reaches behind Simon for some ribbon, suddenly their faces are close, awkwardly close as though they are about to kiss. confusion on both faces as they aren’t sure what they should do (Yannick, why is this impossible?)

 

Panel 5:

same angle as previous panel, only now both Simon and Cori are jolted back by an unexpected beeping noise. for effect, I’m considering it literally being lettered between their heads (mouths?) as though it is physically keeping them apart here. (That will look a little strange. Generally, lettering shouldn’t be within the line of sight of the characters. It then makes the lettering a part of the picture, instead of simulating sound.)

SFX: BEEP BEEP BEEP

PAGE 4 (6 Panels)

Panel 1:

Simon looks at his phone. Cori is a bit taken aback. not knowing what else to do, she sets down the rose and the ribbon. (Moving panel. What can be removed in order to make this a still picture WITHOUT any rewriting, Rich?)

Simon: Christ, it got late, I’ve got to get going (Punctuation. I don’t harp on it in the panel descriptions, because people aren’t going to see those. However in dialogue, I have to hit you on it. Your letterer is not your editor. It isn’t their job to put it in for you.)

Cori: Right.

 

Panel 2:

Simon has hopped up off the counter and is now standing on the other side leaving Cori behind the counter and him in front in the standard employee-customer locations. Cori looks a bit flabbergasted, still trying to wrap her head around what just happened(This isn’t going to come off right. Have her body do the acting, not her face.)

Simon: And, umm.. I’m going to need those Daffodils. (Another thing about the ellipsis: they are three periods in length. Anything else is a typo. No, even better: anything else is wrong. If you have more than three, you don’t want an ellipsis, you want an em-dash. If you have less than three, then you either have a period or a typo. So this is wrong two ways. Only two periods, and the space.)

Cori: Oh, yeah. Of course.

 

Panel 3:

as he pays, Simon slips Cori a business card.Cori looks sad. she’s trying to put on a face and not show it, but it’s not working. (Again, you’re going for subtle, which doesn’t work well in the medium. Remember, the “cleaner” the emotion, the easier it will be to represent. Think in still pictures, not prose or moving pictures.)

Cori: That’ll be $12.99.

Simon: Here, take my busines card. Call me any time if you need to talk. I, um.. (Le mistake. And take that last sentence and put it in its own balloon. Make it a separate “breath.” A separate thought.)

 

Panel 4:

close up on Simon. a bit remorseful that he has to go, but not visibly sad like Cori

Simon: I had a really good time tonight.

 

Panel 5:

Simon walks out the door (I know you trust your artist, but this could be seen in two different ways: either from Cori’s POV, or with the camera in front of Simon. Hopefully, he’s walking out with the flowers.)

 

Panel 6:

cori staring at the closed door with a sad vacant expression, face resting on her hand, hand resting on the counter as though her whole body has gone limp (It would be better if she were bent over, palm flat on the counter, her face lying on it. If that’s what you meant to say, then you need to be a bit more clear.)

Cori (SFX): sigh.

PAGE 5 (5 Panels)

Panel 1:

Cori, sad, turns off the lights to the store

Panel 2:

Cori, outside, locking the front door to the shop.

 

Panel 3:

Cori walks toward her car, downtrodden, staring at the ground

 

Panel 4:

As Cori is unlocking the car door, she looks to the right toward the bed of her “truck”, surprised.

 

Panel 5:

In a big panel taking up most of the page. we see Cori, standing by her car, elated; in the back is the elaborate flower display.

 

.END

 

Okay! We’re at the end. Where do we stand?

 

Format: Flawless victory!

 

Panel Descriptions: Generally adequate, especially since you’re going to be working closely with your artist. However, sometimes you’re a little TOO vague. Again, you won’t have to answer many questions if you put the necessary info in the script. Don’t be afraid to tell your artist “This is what I see, but if you think it would be better a different way, then go for it.” I tell my artists that all the time, and I have yet to be disappointed.

 

Dialogue: It generally works. Except for one huge failure. You never, ever named Simon. Ever. Not where a reader could see it. If the artist did their job, then Cori’s name would be prominent in the art. Even if it weren’t, you took something of a precaution and had Simon name Cori. You never had Simon introduce himself. Not once.

 

The problem is simple: when you go to a florist or a baker or something like that, they’re wearing nametags, and you aren’t. If it is a one-time transaction, then you’re not going to give your name. You’ll do close to what was done here: you’ll say hi, you’ll show your ignorance/tell them what you want, pay your money, then leave.

That’s not what Simon does, though. He buys dinner. During the interval of time between him leaving for the food and coming back, he MUST have told her his name, or she must have asked. However, this takes place off-panel, as it should. Him leaving, getting the food, and coming back has nothing to do with the plot. But if you want readers to identify with him, then he needs to be named, and that isn’t done here. That’s huge.

 

Other than that, the dialogue is fine. You just need more of it. I’ll talk about that in a moment.

 

Pacing: I’m not going to lie: I was bored. While cute, I was bored with it nonetheless. Parts of it moved too slow, and others, WAY too fast.

 

I understand about chemistry and all, but I doubt many women will to kiss on the first day of meeting someone, which is what you have here. They were very close. I find that to be a tad unrealistic. However, I’m also an adult of the Internet Age. However, anything done was talked about in advance. I’m just not seeing the need for a rush here.

 

The dialogue needs a couple of pacing tweaks, but other than that, the only fault is that there isn’t much of it. You have the space to fit a lot more here, and you don’t use it. While cute, this is a fast read. Make it more dense.

 

Content: Besides being a fast read, this is also a little creepy to me, as a reader. Here’s the scenario you’ve set up: a guy goes into a florist shop, uses subterfuge to get to know a girl, buys her dinner, almost kisses her, and leaves the flowers he bought in her truck.

 

What was the purpose of him going into the shop? Don’t say “to meet the girl.” He’s had to have seen her before, right?

 

Yeah, that was left out. That is what makes it creepy. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was around the corner, looking crazy and everything while watching her reaction. That could be the ending panel here, and cute finishes its descent into creepy REAL fast.

 

Without the establishment of him seeing her before or going to the shop before, this takes on a sinister cast. It isn’t like you describe him as going to the shop for one thing and then coming out with another. You describe him as going there with purpose. While Cori is elated, she should also be straining her ears for the creepy I’m-about-to-be-killed music, and looking around for the axe/machete/sharp weapon of choice to crack her skull open.

 

Editorially, I’d have you change this up some. If you want to remain cute, then he has to come clean before he leaves. Possibly as she’s writing the note for the flowers. Something to mitigate the creeptasticness of what you have here. Because of that, I would let you keep the middle, but we’d talk about the beginning and the end a lot more.

 

If you want to keep the creep, then I’d add that final panel or two of him looking deranged, and end it right there. But I’d have to know which way you wanted this to go.

 

And that’s almost it.

 

Again, I’m running low on scripts. We’re starting up a new column on ComixTribe called Thumbprints, with Jonathan Rector, the artist on the award-nominated book, The Standard. He’ll do thumbnails of one or two pages of script, and he’ll be getting those scripts from The Proving Grounds. If you want to see whether or not your scripts are being translated well by an artist, this is a great opportunity for you to learn.

 

So, your script would serve two purposes. Don’t be shy. Send them in!

 

Thanks again, and 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. “Coriander reaches behind Simon for some ribbon, suddenly their faces are close, awkwardly close as though they are about to kiss. confusion on both faces as they aren’t sure what they should do (Yannick, why is this impossible?)”

    First I have to get this off my chest: creepy as hell. Reminds way too much of how I acted as a teenager. 😛 But seriously, like Steven said, choose a direction. Either you make him cleaner and then he’s just a harmless bumbling Hugh-Grantesque romantic or you go all the way into uncomfortable territory and Cori’s getting the hose at the end. Still, as I was reading how smooth and casual the guy was the whole time, the only thing I was thinking was “Cori isn’t his first victim.” And then you surprised me with the cute ending. Huh. You’ve accomplished the legendary Reverse Outer Limits twist! 🙂

    Anyway, back to panel 4, page 3. This is impossible because it’s a moving panel, you’re calling for two different camera distances and you’re asking for something that can’t be drawn.

    First, you can’t have something “suddenly” happen in a comic panel. You can only show the current state of the action. She was already reaching for ribbons in panel 2 so she’s there now.

    Second, you can’t focus on both what their bodies are doing and what their faces are telling. Once again, you had her getting closer to him in the previous panel so now focus on their faces because that’s the purpose of this particular panel.

    Finally, you’re asking your artist to show “confusion”. I don’t know how good your artist is but that’s going to be a challenge without using any manga-style conventions. Maybe they’re looking into each other’s eyes, mouths slightly opened. Maybe specify that you want the panel to be longer, signifying a longer silent moment of hesitation. But one thing is sure: drop the part that says: “as they aren’t sure what they should do” because that’s definitely not going to be seen.

    Here’s my take on it:

    Panel 4

    Tight shot of Coriander and Simon’s faces in very close proximity. They’re looking into each other’s eyes, their lips close enough to almost kiss. You might want to stretch this panel into a whole horizontal tier in order to imply they’re staying that way for a while.

    NO COPY

  2. Rich Douek says:

    Simon looks at his phone. Cori is a bit taken aback. not knowing what else to do, she sets down the rose and the ribbon. (Moving panel. What can be removed in order to make this a still picture WITHOUT any rewriting, Rich?)

    I’d say, unless its really important to the story that she drop the rose and ribbon, just lose it.

    Simon looks at his phone. Cori is a bit taken aback.

  3. Evan Windsor says:

    Still creepy, eh? Alright, back to work. I was struggling to tell an entire romantic arc in 5 pages, so to get certain plot elements to happen, the dialogue had to be rather direct, which translated to creepy. This version is already about the third or fourth draft, you should see the first – creep city. But its good to know that it still needs more work to get to where I want it, and where, specifically, it needs it the most. I already have some ideas on how to tone it down.

    Let me explain what I was trying to do with the ending:

    First, to answer your question, Steve, the reason he went into the store in the first place was to buy flowers for another girl who he is about to go on a first date with. This was stated, but I guess I wrote Simon so creepy and untrustworthy that it is assumed he’s just there for her.

    So when Simon leaves for his date, he leaves the flowers behind for Cori. Why? I wanted to leave this open ended to reader interpretation. Did he fall for Cori and leave the flowers for her, signaling the start of a new relationship? Did he just feel pity on her and give her the flowers to cheer her up, but is still going to date the other girl? Or a reader could even take the view that he went in there with the purpose of buying the flowers for her all along, but in a sweet, non-predatory way.

    It’s open-ended, like the spinning top at the end of Inception. I tried to put just enough wobble in that whatever ending the reader projects onto the story is the one that happened.

    Regardless of his ambiguous intentions, Cori chooses to be happy, since a nice guy finally bought her flowers.

    That’s what I was going for. Clearly I fell short. Now, how to fix it?

    Here’s my current action plan: Simon comes in to buy flowers for a girl he mentions is his neighbor. Simon and Cori talk for a bit, he buys the daffodils and is about to leave, when he realizes that if he heads home now, the neighbor will see him with the flowers and it will ruin the surprise so he asks if he can hang out at the store for a few hours until his date. Him forcibly asking her to dinner is cut entirely. Hopefully this will effectively de-creep him.

    With that change to establish him as NOT a Serial Killer, does the end work? Or does it still need more work, and if so, what would you guys suggest? I’m having trouble figuring out how to more specifically convey the ambiguity I was going for.

    • The best way to do this, Evan, while not getting inside his head (which takes out the ambiguity you’re looking for) is to start late.

      You started this scene early, but what you should do is push it back a little bit and start at the tail end of the previous scene. Show him making the date and going to get the flowers. You can do that in three panels, which you can cut from anywhere in here and not have to bother your page count. This will still keep everything nice and tidy.

      Hope that helps.

    • I’m reminded of a song in French called “Donnez-moi des roses” (“Give Me Roses”) by old Quebecer signer Fernad Gignac. The chorus goes like this:

      “Give me roses, miss
      For I have a date
      It’s very important
      Choose them all amongst the prettiest
      Give me roses, miss”

      The song tells how this guys walks in the same day every week, asking for roses for his date. He does that for years until the flower girl finally tells him that she’s moving away to get married. That’s when he tells her he’s been buying all these roses as an excuse to see her and that their weekly meeting has always been his important date.

      It’s bittersweet cute and breaks my heart, no matter how kitch this song is considered over here.

      I don’t know how much this song could inspire you for tweaking your story but I just thought I’d throw it out there.

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