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TPG Week 80: Stories Need To Progress

| July 6, 2012

Welcome once again to The Proving Grounds! Once more, we have Brave One Liam Hayes stepping in, and Steve and I give him a thorough going over. Let’s see what happens when we

Slumber

PAGE 1 (Five Panels)

PAGE 1, Panel 1

We open to the inside of a small room within the large wooden town hall of a medieval settlement at afternoon. A closed door is visible on one side, and a small window obscured by closed raggedy curtains on the other, darkening the room slightly. In the middle is a bed in which we see Martha, asleep. The bed is composed of linen sheets on an old table. Beside it is a bucket of urine, indicating Martha is bedridden. (I’m having a hard time right off the bat. I can’t picture in my head how this would look. Sure, you have the room, the bed, the linen, but the time period is completely throwing me. You need some serious visual reference here, Liam. To top it off, I can’t picture Martha. What does she look like? Old? Young? Blond? Brunette? What is she wearing? You’ve told us nothing that can help us establish time or visual character. You can either put that kind of detail here in the script or in a separate document establishing setting and character, but it has to be there.)

PAGE 1, Panel 2

Mid shot of Drowe as he comes though the door, pushing it open with his side and carrying a wooden tray, upon which is a bowl of soup and a wooden spoon. He looks past the camera at Martha (off-panel) with a faint smile. (Again, we can’t picture Drowe because there is no description of him. Really provide reference for attire as well, as we now know a bit more about period as they use wooden spoons, right?)

DROWE: MARTHA? / YOU AWAKE? (Separate these two statements into two word balloons for better effect. Listen to your dialogue’s pace out loud when figuring out the timing in speech.) (I disagree. I think it’s fine as it is. Putting this into two different balloons does something different to the dialogue that may not be necessary. I don’t think the disconnecting pause is necessary. However, at the same time, Steve’s suggestion places the importance on the name, rather than the question. It can go either way.)

PAGE 1, Panel 3

Drowe is now stood just next to the bed, looking down at Martha and holding the tray. Martha is has woken and stares up at him with confusion. Angle the camera so that we’re looking at down at Martha from over Drowe’s shoulder. (Nice shot, but which shoulder? Sometimes design dictates this answer, while other times the speaker does. She’s asking the question of him, so perhaps she should be seen first over his left shoulder.)

MARTHA: DROWE?

MARTHA: WH-WHERE DID YOU GO?

PAGE 1, Panel 4

Side shot of Drowe smiling as he puts the tray down on the bed just next to Martha. Martha continues to look up at him with confusion. (Again, which side is he on in the image? Try to give your artist as much detail as you can to help with the page design.)

DROWE: I MADE YOU SOME SOUP. / YOUR FAVOURITE. (Here again, listen for your pause in speech and separate the statements.) (Again, I’m not seeing the need for the separation. Not as a pause in speech. If it were special, something that needed to be separated out, then that’s one thing. But just because a (short) breath is taken isn’t enough of a reason to warrant breaking the sentence into its own balloon.)

PAGE 1, Panel 5

Medium close up of Drowe as he sits on the side of the bed down at Martha (off-panel). (Seeing as how this is the last image on this page, he’s looking to the right, right? This is to lead the reader’s eye to the next page.)

DROWE: DID YOU SLEEP WELL?

Slow and steady wins the race? So far your pacing is pretty relaxed and I’m already getting ready for more of the same. Is that a good thing? We’ll see…)

I’m with Steve. I’m bored, and it’s only P1.

So, what do we have? We have a setting that isn’t set up all that well, five panels on the page, and extremely little impetus to turn to the next one. Not good, Liam.

Everyone knows that I advocate starting out with a bang. It doesn’t have to be a huge bang, but it has to be a bang nonetheless. There is no bang here. There really isn’t even anything interesting here. Not yet.

Pick up the pace!

PAGE 2 (Five Panels)

PAGE 2, Panel 1

Tight shot of Drowe kissing Martha on the cheek. Martha’s look at him blankly.

SFX: *PECK*

MARTHA: NO. I HAD TERRIBLE DREAMS

PAGE 2, Panel 2

Zoom out so we see most of the room. Drowe is walking towards the window with his smile remaining. Martha looks blankly at the tray. (Where is the window in relation to the room and it’s décor? Is it to the right of the panel?)

DROWE: IT’S THE CONSUMPTION. (What does this mean, “consumption? Something consuming her or her consuming the soup? In other words, your term has a couple of different meanings that may catch your reader off-guard as well, slowing the reading pace down to a standstill in order to try and figure out this answer.)

DROWE: YOUR BODY’S WAY OF DEALING WITH IT.

PAGE 2, Panel 3

Drowe is now stood at the window and has flung the curtains open. Angle the camera so we’re behind him, looking past him at the afternoon sky outside the window.

DROWE: JUST MEANS YOU’RE FIGHTING.

PAGE 2, Panel 4

Face shot of Martha as she displays a faint smile. (If the window is on the right, I can see her in a front shot with her head turned to the right. That said, you haven’t provided more information than a simple “Face shot”. Lead the artist by completing your descriptions of what you visualize.)

MARTHA: IT’S GOING TO GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER.

PAGE 2, Panel 5

Face shot of Drowe as he stares blankly out of the off-panel window. (Again, you obviously have a visual in your mind, so complete the descriptions. Here, I see three components to the panel: Her speech balloon on the left, his face looking in a right profile out the window in the center, and his balloon with ellipsis marks on the right. Is that what you saw? If so, say it. If not, say it.)

MARTHA (OFF-PANEL): THAT’S WHAT YOU SAID.

DROWE: …

(So far, you’ve got two pages with ten panels and the pace is going so slow I’m getting bored. Is this meant to be a soap opera, because it’s definitely looking like it right now? Is there a market for this kind of material? Not really. Should we stop here before we get too far into the snail pace? No, we’re going to see this through to the end.)

GAH! Kill it! Kill the ellipsis-for-word-dialogue balloon! Kill it with fire!

Liam, you owe me a case of scotch. I aim to collect!

Okay. P2 is still boring. Only a little vague, but that vagueness is overshadowed by the boredom I feel. I’m not seeing the point here. It’s P2, and the only thing I’m certain of is that this reeks of elderberries.

Two pages, and I have neither any idea nor any interest in what’s going on here.

We’ve got consumption, and she’s fighting it. So? Where is this interesting?

These two pages should have been combined into one, and hopefully, it would help to cut the smell of elderberries that wafting off the screen here. I can’t say that this is meandering, but I’ll definitely say that the stately manor in which this is moving making me antsy for something interesting to happen. And by interesting, I mean, for anything of consequence to happen.

PAGE 3 (Three Panels)

PAGE 3, Panel 1

Same shot. Drowe is now looking down with sadness. (Same shot as where? The last panel on the previous page?)

MARTHA (OFF-PANEL): YOU DO STILL THINK I’M GOING TO GET BETTER, DON’T YOU?

PAGE 3, Panel 2

Angle the camera so that we’re looking at Drowe from just outside the window. He is still looking down in sadness. (What angle are you looking at him from, worm’s eye or bird’s eye view? Be specific, as you know what you’re seeing and may well be disappointed when the artist draws something completely different.)

PAGE 3, Panel 3

Big Panel. Same shot. Drowe is now looking up, out of the window, and at the camera blankly. (See? I was completely wrong. It isn’t a worm’s eye view or a bird’s eye view, which would have been soooooooo much more powerful than what you have here. Why isn’t he looking up toward the heavens, asking a silent prayer for his sick loved one?)

DROWE: YES…

(Nothing warrants these panels being bigger than anywhere else. Save large panels for action, not drama. These could have easily fit on the previous pages to achieve the same result. Now it’s official: I’m bored, and as an editor, that’s not looking good for you.)

 

I’m going to disagree again. You can do a large panel for drama, however, it has to have impact.

 

You don’t have any impact here, Liam.


Here’s what you haven’t done: you haven’t taken the time to make the reader care about the characters. You’ve had ample time to accomplish this. Instead, what you’ve done is everything in your power to make the reader close the book and pick something else. Not good.

 

How do you get the reader to care about the characters? Show them in their plight, of course, but also have them interact. Show them doing something they love, then flip the script and reveal their plight.

 

Ever see the movie The Bucket List? It starts with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson both doing what they love: Jack being an asshole with money, and Morgan working on cars, answering general trivia questions. Then, bam! You’re shown their plight, and you begin to feel for them.

 

Here, what you’ve done is started a little too late, and told us about a sickness, instead of showing us about it. You know that it is better to show than to tell. Get to the showing, and enough with the telling. If you had shown instead of told, then your large panel on this page would have had an impact on your readers. Instead, it falls flat, because you haven’t given us time to care, or any interest to.

PAGE 4 (One Panel)

PAGE 4, Panel 1

Whole page panel. We’re now looking at the entirety of the town hall from the outside. The window Drowe is blankly peering out of is visible on the upper levels of the building. Two large chained-shut doors make up the town hall’s entrance and the windows on the lower levels have been bordered up with planks of wood. An old sign, hanging half off, has “Wyelin Town Hall” carved into it. We see a massive group of Flesh Fanatics surrounding the building’s base, banging mindlessly against the walls. Beyond the town hall we see the settlement’s other buildings, all of which are wooden and mostly smashed to pieces. (First off, this type of panel is called a splash page because it has one panel on it. If you want the image to extend outside of the borders, it’s a bleed, as it “bleeds” off of the page. Second, visual reference is needed again. Now that that’s out of the way, what the hell are Flesh Fanatics?!? You didn’t describe them!! Are they zombies, cannibals, what? You need to be more on the ball when it comes to descriptions, Liam. And why in the world did we have to go through three pages of fluff before getting to some meat? Here’s the scenario: You have this really powerful cover [let’s hope] that is so intense that the average Joe Reader feels compelled to pick up this book. I represent you, but even more, I represent the publisher and Joe himself, because if Joe isn’t satisfied, then my publisher isn’t satisfied, then you definitely aren’t satisfied either. I open the book and I’m faced with five panels, then I turn the page for another five panels, then I look over to the third page for three panels, all of which put me to sleep [which I could be doing as I write this, but I love what I do.]. You need to capture the reader’s attention right off the bat, and this isn’t fulfilling that as it stands now.)

DROWE: …YOU’RE GOING TO BE FINE.

Okay, so we have a splash page.

Forget talk about borders and bleeds. They aren’t important at the moment. Here’s what’s important: you did the splash page correctly, in that it is on an even-numbered page. I’d have been extremely disappointed if it weren’t. Probably would have ended up owing me more scotch.

As for the Flesh Fanatics, they should be in a separate document, yes? All of the descriptions should be in that document. They aren’t at the beginning of the script, so they should be in a separate doc. I know Steve’s going crazy with the lack of character descriptions in the script itself, but I still maintain that major characters shouldn’t have their descriptions in the panel descriptions. There’s too much other stuff going on in there to have character descriptions show up, as well. It would be too easy to forget important stuff, and then we’d have magically deliciousness going on, and that’s never fun.

Is this splash page effective? Yes and no. Mostly no, because you’ve got a large panel on the page before, and that’s helping to lessen the power of what you have here. Also no, because we haven’t had a chance to get to know the characters yet.

Yes? Well, it’s the first interesting thing that’s happened. The good thing is that you got to it within my benefit-of-the-doubt five page rule. The bad thing is that a good portion of readers won’t get there because you didn’t blow their socks off within the first three pages; actually more like actively turning them off.

Let’s hope you’re interesting from here on out.,

PAGE 5 (Four Panels)

PAGE 5, Panel 1

Cut to the inside of the town hall’s basement. It’s dark but lit by a hanging candle lantern in the centre of the room. A pair of wooden stairs leads up from the basement on one side of the room and old wooden floorboards compose the floor. In the centre is a wooden table of which Gabriel and Gerald sit at, opposing each other. Both hold a couple of playing cards and in the middle of the table we see a stack of cards and a collection of coins. Gerald is beaming with enthusiasm, to which Gabriel returns suspicion. (I’m lost with the whole direction of how the stairs are supposed to be drawn. If you’re in the town hall’s basement, how can a pair of wooden stairs lead up from the basement? Do you mean that they are leading down into the basement? And who are these two guys? They come out of nowhere without proper introductions or descriptions. Finally, where’s the action? You spent three pages of nothing leading into Page Four of the Flesh Fanatics, which I thought would finally move the ball in a forward, more exciting direction, and yet you’ve gone back into “talking head” mode. Not good.)

GERALD: THINK ABOUT IT, GABRIEL! IT’S THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES SENSE!

GERALD: THE TREMORS.(Use ellipsis marks to trail off the thought) / THOSE CREATURES SPROUTING FROM THE GROUND AND TAKING PEOPLE.(Again, use ellipsis to trail off, and separate the two thoughts.)

PAGE 5, Panel 2

Face shot of Gerald maintaining his fervour. (What kind of face shot? Give the artist more information.)

GERALD: THE WORLD PARASITE IS WAKING!

PAGE 5, Panel 3

We’re looking over Gerald’s shoulder at Gabriel. Gabriel has laid his cards flat on the table and stares at Gerald with contempt. (Which shoulder? And we still don’t have a visual of what the setting or characters look like.)

GABRIEL: GERALD… EVEN IF THAT WERE TRUE, WHAT CAN WE DO? / SING IT A LULLABY? (Separate the speech for better pace and flow.) (No. Leave it the way it is. It’s a complete thought, and as such, it doesn’t need to be separated. However, I’d change a word or two to get rid of the rhyme.)

GERALD: SOMETHING, AT LEAST! WE HAVEN’T SUPPLIES TO LAST ANOTHER WEEK.

PAGE 5, Panel 4

Zoom out so we see most the entire basement. Drowe is visible walking towards the table from the direction of the wooden staircase. Gabriel and Gerald look over at him with intrigue.

DROWE: AFTERNOON.

GABRIEL: DROWE. / HOW’S MARTHA? (One of two things can be done here, one more effective than the other: 1) Separate the speech into two balloons so it’s all spoken by Gabriel, or 2) have the “How’s Martha?” question being spoken by Gerald. This allows all three men in the panel to have speech and keeps Gabriel’s matter-of-fact attitude and Gerald’s more emotional side intact.)

 

I thought we were getting interesting, and instead, we have more crap. It’s P5, and nothing seems to move the plot along. What’s the story about? What are the characters about? Why are they holed up in that location? I could ask a lot more questions, but it really comes down to this: there are a lot of questions to be asked, and none of them have been answered in this script.

 

Now, I’ve been reading Freakangels lately, by Warren Ellis. It’s a webcomic that was produced in six-issue chapters. Totally decompressed, because there were a a lot of three- and four-panel pages. The story seemed to move slowly. However, Ellis being Ellis, while it moved slowly to start, it was damned interesting.

 

This isn’t interesting.

PAGE 6 (Four Panels)

PAGE 6, Panel 1

Mid shot of Drowe as he in now stood just in front of the table, looking down at it blankly. (Where is he positioned? Left, right, or behind the table? Is he talking over one of the men’s shoulders? Position the characters for best effect and give your artist that visual direction. For myself, to show his relationship and closeness to these men, I’d have him talking from behind Gerald, Drowe’s hand resting softly on his shoulder. He’s comfortable talking with these two.)

DROWE: SHE’S… / SHE’S FINE. (Have this said in two balloons that overlap each other.)

DROWE: WHAT’S THAT NOISE? (This is something that should be written in another balloon unless you do this: Make it a passing question, such as “By the way, what’s that noise?” That way, Gerald’s “Eh?” response is more like a “what was that you asked?” question, which is what I think you intended. By the way, you’re referring to a noise, but have no SFX for it in this or the next panel. Why?)

PAGE 6, Panel 2

Wide shot of Drowe, Gabriel and Gerald. Drowe is bending down to look underneath the table. Gerald and Gabriel both watch him with confusion. (Here’s where a different shot altogether would work better. Instead of a wide shot showing all three men, why not simply have a medium front shot of Drowe looking through the darkness under the table, leaning over instead of being on his knees. That way he’s closer to the next action and you create an even more powerful reaction, both in your characters and in the reader.)

GERALD: EH?

DROWE: THAT SCRATCHING SOUND. / IT’S COMING FROM UNDERNEA–(Separate this into two balloons, with the second balloon placed lower in the panel to make it seem even closer to the next shocking event.)

PAGE 6, Panel 3

Big Panel. A Flesh Frantic is now bursting forth from the floorboards beneath the table, shattering both in the process and displacing earth. Gabriel, Gerald and Drowe are all thrown back from the table in shock. The Flesh Fanatic mouth is wide open as slobber pours from it. (First of all, what does a Flesh Fanatic look like? You have yet to describe them. Second, why and how would the table shatter? It moves and I imagine was pretty damn solid back then. The table may be thrown back along with the three men, but shattered? No.)

SFX: KKRSSSHH (What is this sound effect for? Is it for the “CRASH!” of the table, chairs, and men being thrown back, away from the gapping hole torn open by the Flesh Fanatic? Stick with SFX that we know and that represent onomatopoeia.)

FLESH FANATIC: GGGARGH! (Say this out loud. Do you hear all those G’s or do you hear the A’s and R’s? Multiply letters that help create the sound, not ones that “look good”.)

PAGE 6, Panel 4

Zoom out so we see the entire room. There’s now a small trampoline sized hole in the floor from where the flesh fanatic burst forth; a shattered table and chairs surrounding it. The hole is darkened so we can’t see into it. Gabriel, Gerald and Drowe are all on the floor looking up at the Flesh Fanatic with shock. The Flesh Fanatic is stood just in front of the hole, looking down at Gerald. Slobber pouring from its wide open mouth. (Again, change your shot. This is where a great worm’s eye view from over Gerald’s shoulder, as he struggles on the floor to escape in the middle of the lower portion of the panel, would make a huge difference and create much needed dramatic tension and high action.)

DROWE: OH SHIT! (Would Drowe be saying this, or would Gerald, who is the intended meal? Also, take advantage of this opportunity to highlight the “OH SHIT!” with two exclamation marks and an underline for bolding.)

FLESH FANATIC: HHRGHH…

Oh, goodness. P6, and you’re even dragging that out!

Action! We finally get some action, and you’re lackadaisical about getting around to it.

It’s P6. You should have consolidated the first few pages, and then gotten almost to the end of this on an odd page, and then finish this page on an even page. This gives you a page turn in which to gain reader interest, and it culminates with a page turn.

But what you have here is the action on an even page, and the reader just has to move their eyes over to get the rest of the story. Squandered opportunity.

So, we have some action. Hopefully, you continue with it for the next page.

PAGE 7 (Five Panels)

PAGE 7, Panel 1

Over Gerald shoulder on the Flesh Fanatic as it leaps at him. (Yet again, change the shot. Who is the victim and who is the aggressor? Who’s reaction do we want to see? Gerald’s. We want to see the terror in his eyes. It doesn’t matter what’s happening on the face of the Fanatic. We can get the just of it simply by his posture and vicious leap towards his prey. Always think of what would get your reader pulled into the story.)

FLESH FANATIC: RARGHH! (You love the sound that “RGHH” makes, don’t you? You use it way too much. Change it up with a ROAR! I loved what they did with the MUMMY movies with Brendan Fraser a few years back. Listen to the sound effects that they used for the mummy zombies to get a better idea of the range you can use in your writing.)

PAGE 7, Panel 2

Side shot. The Flesh Fanatic in now on top of Gerald and is about to bite his face with its wide open jaws. Gerald stares into its mouth, fear-stricken. (What you’re saying here is that the Fanatic has just pounced on the man, and yet he’s waiting to bite Gerald’s head off? Boring. Gerald should have some part of his body being torn apart by now, with the next mauling attempt being to his face. You have an opportunity for action to occur, but you’re pulling on the reigns of your own writing, holding yourself back.)

GERALD: AAH! (If I were being attacked by anything less than a Flesh Fanatic, I’d be screaming bloody blue murder! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!)

PAGE 7, Panel 3

A wide shot of Drowe angrily stabbing the Flesh Fanatic in the head with a shard of broken wood. It goes through the back of the Flesh Fanatic’s head and out its mouth. Blood sprays onto a horrified Gerald. (Okay, the wood may have come from the floorboards, so I’ll give you that, but when did Drowe grab the wood? In the previous panel? You didn’t mention this. Logic dictates that a series of actions need to occur to arrive at this point. You just need to figure out when and how and then give the artist that information.)

SFX: SLUKK

FLESH FANATIC: KKRGGGHH… (Shouldn’t this be more of a “GAH!” sound, without trailing ellipsis marks?)

PAGE 7, Panel 4

Zoom out. Drowe is helping a startled Gerald to his feet. The Flesh Fanatic is dead on the floor beside him with the shard of wood embedded in its head. Gabriel is on his feet, looking down into the darkened hole. (Is the Flesh Fanatic even a living being? Plan out your visuals as this sounds a bit drab and subdued as a closing for this scene.)

GERALD: UHH… / TH-THANKS. (Separate these into two balloons.) (No. Cut the “uhh…” and just leave the thanks. As everyone can see, Steve likes to separate balloons. I like to consolidate and conserve space.)

DROWE: YOU’RE WELCOME.

GABRIEL: IT’S ONE OF THE PARASITE’S VEINS.

PAGE 7, Panel 5

Face shot of Gabriel looking worried. (“Worried” is a soft word that denotes slight anxiety. Is Gabriel slightly anxious? I’d say he’s scared. Changing this word makes a ton of difference to your artist and, in the end, to your reader. Choose your descriptions well, Liam.)

GABRIEL: RIGHT BELOW US.

 

P7. More dragged out action, with something that’s almost magically delicious.

 

I think this page needs to be replotted. Accommodate the grabbing of the wood so that it can be shown being used later. This can still be four to five panels, but it needs to be replotted.

 

It’s basically doing what it needs to do as an action page, but it needs to be thought through just a little bit more. But this is why we edit, yes?

PAGE 8 (Five Panels)

PAGE 8, Panel 1

Cut to another room is the within the town hall. This is Annabell’s room and inside it we see a large wooden cabinet stuffed with parchments and ink quills, and a small bed made from a thick sheet on stacks of parchments. Annabell is sat on the bed reading a book and looking bored. A closed door opposing the bed reads, “Records”. (Who is ANNABELL and what does she look like? Descriptions, sir. Also, I can’t picture in my head what this looks like. Get with the reference sources. Do you realize how much time the artist is dedicating to your project? Do you realize how much money they could be charging you for having to do all of this research? Make the job easier on them and less painful financially for yourself.)

PAGE 8, Panel 2

Angle the camera so that we have Annabell in the foreground and the door in the background. Annabell is looking up from at the book and at the door with suspicion. (How can you tell if she’s looking at the door with suspicion when we can’t see her face? You established in your description that the door is in the background and she’s in the foreground, so how can she be looking at the door if she’s facing away from it and towards us in order to see her facial expression?)

SFX (DOOR): KNOCK KNOCK

PAGE 8, Panel 3

Over Annabell’s shoulder as she is opening the door. We see Drowe stood on the other side, smiling at her. Beyond the door is a corridor. (WHAT’S GOING ON?!? Drowe was just involved in a major attack that resulted in him killing someone or something. Shouldn’t he be shaken in the least? Is this man a warrior who dismisses such trivial actions?)

DROWE: ERR… HI.

ANNABELL: HI.

PAGE 8, Panel 4

Over Drowe’s shoulder, on Annabell. The door is now completely open and Annabell looks at Drowe with worry.

ANNABELL: I HEARD ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED. ARE YOU OKAY?

DROWE: I’M FINE. / CAN I COME IN? (Separate these into two balloons.)

PAGE 8, Panel 5

Face shot of Annabell as she stares blankly at the camera. (This last panel is completely unnecessary, and so is the dialogue that accompanies it. It slows things down even more.)

ANNABELL: SURE.

(My God! Do you realize that, out of eight pages with thirty-two panels so far, you’ve had action in six panels? That’s one more than a full page! The rest has all been slow, monotonous, and depressive. I don’t get it.)

P8. My Lord and Lady, am I tired.

Tired of the smell of elderberries. Tired of basically saying the same thing over and over again, but in so many words.

Let me spell it out: There is no story here.

This is based on the assumption that this is the beginning of the story. If it is, it’s crap, pure and simple. If it isn’t, then that’s a horse of a different set of polka dots.

Let’s say this isn’t the beginning. This still is lacking character development and gaining reader interest. That little bit of violence was not enough to gain much of anything. Maybe a bit of annoyance because there isn’t anything to back it up.

Anyway, we have the dark elf (or, if you want the Urban Dictionary, a total douchebag) teleporting from the basement to a new location, possibly a few floors up. No idea on what floor it would be on, since you don’t establish it by starting from the outside in. I’m just hoping that the location change—if this isn’t the beginning of the story—is properly established elsewhere.

As for the teleportation: there doesn’t seem to be a large passage of time between the slaying of the beastie and the knocking on door. And we have more elderberries with that last panel.

Tired. That’s me.

PAGE 9 (Three Panels)

PAGE 9, Panel 1

Big Panel. We have a wide shot of Annabell and Drowe having sex on the small, parchment-fortified bed. The sheet covers their nakedness. (Big panel, even bigger problem. How the hell did they end up in bed? Where’s the transition in time that created this jump in action? What’s worse is that they’re facing pages, so the jump can’t even be explained that turning the page resulted in that sudden transition. This is terrible.)

PAGE 9, Panel 2

Annabell and Drowe are now lying in the bed on opposite sides covered by the sheet. Angle the camera down onto them from a height. They stare up at us, blankly. (Again, another jump without transition. What makes it worse is that it’s the very next panel on the same page. Pace the story properly. Certain actions need to occur.)

DROWE: ANNABELL… I CAN’T DO THIS ANY MORE. (Take out her name and leave it simply as “I can’t do this anymore.” By the way, “anymore” is one word.)

ANNABELL: THAT’S WHAT YOU SAID LAST TIME. (Ellipsis instead of a period.) / AND THE TIME BEFORE THAT. (Ellipsis instead of a period again, and separate into two balloons to show even more fed up impatience.)

PAGE 9, Panel 3

Face shot of a Annabell as she display boredom.

ANNABELL: YOU’VE BEEN SAYING IT FOR MONTHS, IN FACT.

 

P9, and I’m on the verge of sleep or tears. Or, sleep under tears.

 

And the pacing… It feels like it’s wailing. Like a banshee. It wants to be better. It can almost be heard between the panel borders. You need to add panels, Liam. They need to come together for the sex, they need to have sex, they need to finish, they need to talk. At least five panels, if not six for this page.

 

Or, after a page turn, you can just cut to them being finished, naked, under the covers, lying on their backs, looking at the ceiling. That’s when they start talking. But you can’t do that ob facing pages. Odd-even, not even-odd. I thought you knew by now when and where to make your page turns.

 

Finally, depending on what this is supposed to be doing, its possible that this entire page can be cut. Let’s see what P10 brings.

PAGE 10 (Five Panels)

PAGE 10, Panel 1

Medium close up of Drowe as he is sat up in the bed and looking uneasy. (Is he looking towards Annabell? Needs more description.)

DROWE: I KNOW, BUT IT’S JUST…

DROWE: *SIGH*

PAGE 10, Panel 2

Mid shot of Drowe and Annabell. Annabell is now sat up too, and looking at Drowe with sympathy. Drowe is looking down with sadness. (What angle is this?)

DROWE: I’M USING YOU AND WE BOTH KNOW IT. / MY WIFE IS DYING AND I’M SLEEPING WITH ANOTHER WOMAN. (Two separate balloons.)

ANNABELL: WE ALL NEED A LITTLE RESPITE. BESIDES, MARTHA WILL GET BETTER. / I’M SURE OF IT. (Separate this last statement into its own balloon for pacing.)

PAGE 10, Panel 3

Face shot of Drowe as tears begin to flow over his worried look. He is looking to his side, at Annabell (off-panel).

DROWE: SHE’S DYING, ANNABELL.

DROWE: SHE’S DYING AND I CAN ONLY WATCH!

PAGE 10, Panel 4

Side shot of Annabell sympathetically hugging Drowe. Drowe continues to display sadness under tears.

ANNABELL: YOU’VE DONE ALL YOU COULD. / YOU GOT US BOTH TO SAFETY WHEN THOSE CREATURES CAME. (Place these two statements in connected balloons.)

ANNABELL: YOU’RE A GOOD MAN, DROWE.

PAGE 10, Panel 5

Medium close up of Annabell as she is hugging Drowe and staring blankly at the camera. (Way too much of the blank stares. Give them emotion!)

DROWE: AND YOU DON’T MIND ME USING YOU FOR SEX?

ANNABELL: OF COURSE NOT.

(This last bit of dialogue sounds so cliché. You’ve done pretty well with your dialogue up to this point.)

 

P10. Almost done!

 

Finally, we get some revelations! Some character development, even though you’re repeating yourself. Not good, there. But we’re finally starting to put some things together. Too bad the reader won’t stay around long enough to actually do it.

 

Liam, this moves way too slowly. You’re not engaging the reader. That’s not good. But at least we finally get some meat. Something to sink our mental teeth into. It just took too damned long to get there.

PAGE 11 (Five Panels)

PAGE 11, Panel 1

Drowe is now fully clothed and walking away from Annabell’s room, down the corridor. Annabell’s is also now clothed and stands at the open door watching him. Drowe is looking back at her with a smile and a wave. Angle the camera so that we’re looking at him from over Annabell’s shoulder. (Another facing page with no transition in actions.)

DROWE: I’LL UHH… SEE YOU SOON, I SUPPOSE.

ANNABELL: TAKE CARE.

(Completely unnecessary dialogue. Let the silence reflect the mood.)

PAGE 11, Panel 2

Side shot of Annabell as she shuts the door with a smile.

PAGE 11, Panel 3

Medium close up of Annabell now leaning with her back against the closed door. She stares at the camera with a look devoid of emotion.

PAGE 11, Panel 4

Same shot. Annabell is now looking at the floor with sadness as tears begin to leak from her eyes.

PAGE 11, Panel 5

Same shot. Annabell is looking at the camera as tears flood her face.

ANNABELL: I LOVE YOU. (Having this as your only text on the page speaks volumes.)

I’ll be honest with you, Liam. I truly want you to succeed as a writer, but this was the slowest, most arduous piece of writing I have ever had to endure in my 26 years of editing. Never have I had to divide the reading up into four sittings because of sheer boredom. I was tempted to stop at many points, but you deserve to get the full assessment. I can tell you right now that this won’t sell. It’s too slow for romance, doesn’t have enough interest for slice of life, and the horror aspect was a blip on the radar that quickly disappeared. I would seriously need to see a full outline with character and setting profiles to tell me what you have going on in your mind. This was, I’m sure, not your best work, and I look forward to seeing more from you.

 

The end! Oh, my word! Let’s just run it down.

 

Format: Flawless victory!

 

Panel Descriptions: Overall, not bad. You have some contradictions in there that need to be fixed, as well as some more thinking to do so that the artist knows where to place the camera, but it wasn’t bad.

 

Pacing: This is where the entire piece falls down.

 

The pacing here is terrible. It reminds me of the early Liam. Your pacing has gotten a lot better, leading me to believe this is an earlier script.

 

Think through the actions that appear on the page, and how you want them to be interpreted. Near the end, it was almost like you didn’t care, placing things that should have been page turns on opposing pages. Just not good.

 

Dialogue: I very rarely have any problems with your dialogue. Sometimes things may need to be explained a bit more, but rarely do I have a problem with it. Same here.

 

As everyone can see, Steve Colle and I have different views on dialogue. He wants to separate dialogue according to breath, and I separate it according to thought. One is not more right than the other. They’re just two different methods. However, it does affect the reading experience.

 

Remember, an editor is looking at things through their own personal filter. If they’re saying something, they’re saying it through that filter. It doesn’t mean their filter is the right one. It’s just the more experienced one. And that experience does not trump how you want your book to be experienced by your readers. If the editor you hired (or are assigned) says something that is completely the antithesis of what it is you’re trying to accomplish, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Just make sure you have your reasons, and make the editor back up what they say with something solid. A vague answer is a bullshit answer.

 

Content: Crap. That’s really all I can say.

 

If this is the beginning of the story, it’s one of the few extremely dragged out beginnings that have come through here. That makes it crap. If it’s near the middle or so, or even near the beginning, then it’s still crap, because the story moved with tectonic slowness. And nothing of interest happened until the end, where we have people having sex, and one telling the air that they love the one that just left. That was interesting! That was character development. That was something a reader could get behind. However, they’ll never see it, because of the glacial slowness with which this moved, the story is back on the shelf.

 

Editorially, I’d need to see where this belongs in the story before going to much further with notes. The more I know, the better I’d be able to help.

 

And that’s it for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s up next, and thank you everyone for stepping up and submitting scripts! We’re always up for more! Keep sending them in!

 

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Category: Columns, 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.

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