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TPG Week 137: Of White Voids and Constipation

| August 9, 2013

TPGFeatured_01

Hello, and welcome back to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Trevor McNeil, who hails from somewhere across the pond. (Yeah, I know, nothing witty this week. Sorry.) We also have Sam LeBas in purple, I’m in red, and we see how Trevor handles

Unintended Consequences

PAGE ONE (6 Panels)

Panel 1. Close-up. 6:15(AM or PM?) on a computer clock.

CAP:

I WAS IN VANCOUVER FOR AN APPOINTENT.(appointment?)(Here’s something that many people forget: when you write in all caps, very often the program will ignore misspellings. You have to turn it on so that it will catch them. How? That’s what the Help command, searching the program, and the internet are for.)

Panel 2. Back-view. The NARRATOR, named TRAVIS, sits at hotel table, an open cell-phone to his ear, a laptop in front of him. He is in his early-30’s with medium length hair. He wears a light dress shirt under a dark sweater. (I don’t know what a back-view is. I assume its a view of his back, but I’d hate to assume. We all know what happens when you assume.)

CAP:

NOT THE MOST EXCITING OF EXCURSIONS(comma) BUT I HAD A PLAN.

Panel 3. Front-view. TRAVIS, sits back, smiling gently. (I’d mention the phone again here.)

TARA (on phone):

HELLO.

TRAVIS:

HEY SWEETNESS, DID I WAKE YOU? (This is as good of a spot as any to name your character, ‘Hey, Tara,’) (And a comma-fail before “sweetness.”)

TARA:

NO, NO. WHAT’S WRONG?(what’s wrong, Travis?)

Panel 4. Front-view. TRAVIS looks confused.

TRAVIS:

NOTHING.(I would either change this period to ellipses, or separate balloons here) WHY WOULD SOMETHING BE WRONG?

7 T (?) TARA:

YOU’RE CALLING. YOU NEVER CALL. IT’S NOT ORDERED(?) ENOUGH. I may be thick, but I don’t get it? Like ordered food? Ordered like methodical? Ordered enough for whom, him or her?

PAGE ONE (CON’T)(You don’t need this.) (Some programs put this in automatically. Some writers put it in themselves. Necessary? Not one bit. But, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the program did it.)

Panel 5. Front-view. TRAVIS is bemused.

TRAVIS:

FAIR ENOUGH. NO, NOTHING IS WRONG. I AM JUST IN TOWN TONIGHT AND WAS WONDERING IF YOU MIGHT BE FREE FOR OUR ANNUAL MEET UP. (The word ‘annual’ is strange here, it implies tradition, which connotes planning, while this invitation seems very spur of the moment. I’d rethink that word choice.)

TARA: TARA:(OFF PANEL or FROM PHONE, she is not in the scene)

IT HAS BEEN A WHILE. SADLY(comma) I HAVE TO WORK TONIGHT.

Panel 6. Front-view. TRAVIS looks disappointed.

TRAVIS:

OH RIGHT, I FORGOT. SORRY.(Did he forget? If they never talk why would he know that?)

TARA:

IT’S OKAY, HON. I’LL CATCH YOU SOME OTHER TIME, OKAY?

TRAVIS:

OKAY.

TARA:

THANKS FOR THE CALL.

TRAVIS:

NO PROBLEM. BYE.

TARA:

BYE.(This is a lot of dialogue for one panel.)

(You didn’t name your characters, and this is the only dialogue for many, many pages; I would suggest you use the opportunity to do so. This is especially important because the characters recognize each other later, the impact is lost if you don’t include the names earlier.

The narration is a bit melodramatic, but not offensive. I don’t know if you have given the audience any reason to turn the page. The conversation is obviously ends, and you don’t hint at what comes next, which means that there is not a lot to draw people into the story.)

We’ve got P1 on the books!

How are we looking? Well, I’ve seen worse. Let’s take it step by step, shall we?

I have no problem with the format. That’s fine. I do have a slight problem with the back-view/front-view thing. I find it unnecessary, but it is not wrong. Don’t make any mistake about that: I am not going to gig him on it as a mistake. I just find it off-putting. As long as he’s consistent with it, I won’t make any other reference to it. I’m not trying to make clones of me, I’m just trying to make sure there’s consistency to the script. That’s really all “format” is, anyway: consistency.

And now, we get into it. What is Trevor doing with that consistency? Not enough, unfortunately.

I will never gig anyone on not describing a main character in the script. To my mind, it doesn’t belong there. So that isn’t my issue. My issue is with the hotel room.

Now, I don’t know about many of you, but I’ve stayed in many different types of hotel rooms: ultra-cheap to medium range. I’ve even taken a tour of one and got to see some of how it worked, and saw an extremely nice suite. And, of course, I watch movies, and see all the hotels, motels (Holiday Inn…) and rat-traps, so I’ve seen quite a bit. Do you know what Trevor doesn’t do? He doesn’t describe the room. I don’t know if it’s cheap, lavish, or medium. All I know is that he’s in it. I don’t even really care about the layout all that much. All I care about is that the layout makes sense, and that I can see it. Right now, I’m in a white void, and I hate being there.

Then there’s the dialogue. You need to denote the voice on the phone one of two ways: either it’s from the phone, or it’s electric. This speaks to the shape of the balloon and the tail. Electric means the entire balloon will look like zig-zags, and if you go from the phone, then generally only the tail will look like a lightning bolt. Totally your call, but be consistent. You were consistent here, though: you consistently left it out. Not terrible, but not helping you, either.

What was bad was the leaving out of the names. You had one good chance and one outstanding chance to drop some names, and you whiffed on both of them. Sam tried to help out, and that was the good chance. It would have been a little awkward, but it would have worked. The outstanding chance was when they were saying goodbye. Perfect opportunity to get in both names, and you let it slip right on by.

Here’s the second thing about the dialogue, and Sam brought it up: it doesn’t do anything at all to make the reader want to turn the page. Not a single thing. You have an entire conversation on one page, and there was no impetus to get the reader to go any further. You know what that means, don’t you ? It means you failed to interest the reader enough to get them to turn the page. If they do it, it’s an automatic gesture, instead of having them do it with intent, so that they get more of the story.

And the amount of dialogue in panel 6 was too much. Three back-and-forths, which gives us six balloons. They were short, but you’re forgetting two things: there are six panels on this page, and word balloons take up negative space. All six of these won’t fit comfortably here. You could easily cut that down to three balloons. Easily. Most of those words aren’t needed.

And that’s P1.

PAGE TWO (3 Panels)

Panel 1. Front-view. TRAVIS hits the OFF button as though he is trying to snap the phone in half using only his thumb. (Uh huh. How is that really going to be drawn? How will that come across to the reader? This is more prose in thought than comic script when it comes to being executable.)

CAP:

THE FATES WERE PUNISHING ME FOR MY HUBRIS.

Panel 2. Front-view. TRAVIS pockets the phone.(Which pocket? Where is the camera? Can we see his face? What is his expression?)

CAP:

SO THE NEXT QUESTION WAS(comma) WHAT TO DO.(question mark, if you say it is a question, you should ask a question. This line is more conversational than the rest of his narration. I don’t know if you need it at all.)

Panel 3. POV. Search engine bar. The words Movie Listings Vancouver are typed in.

CAP:

SO(comma) I HANDED IT OVER TO THE DIGITAL GODS.

(He tries to hookup with a girl he knows, she turns him down, so, he decides to go see a movie instead. This is barely fiction, it is an average Saturday night. I don’t know if there is any reason to bring cosmic forces into the picture: fates? gods? I don’t know if I see the divine in the mundane here, but maybe I am just cynical.)

 

I love Public Enemy. I have, ever since I was a kid. Actually, I’m also biased. Not only are they from my home town, but I was taught martial arts by Professor Griff. If I was just a little older, I’d probably have been part of their security force, the S1W’s (Security of the First World), and have gone on to lead a very different life. Do I have degrees of separation? Sure I do. But I’m waiting until I get to a good place in order to use that to my advantage.

 

What does my love of PE have to do with anything? Well, besides I’ve got a line from Prophets of Rage playing in my head right now, not one thing. However, I’m willing to bet my little story there was a lot more interesting than what’s happening on this page. Three panels of absolutely nothing, which makes this padding. The elderberries are in full bloom.

 

So what do we have? We could save an entire page by cutting to the chase on P1, and combining it with P2. What happens here that pushes the story forward? Nothing. What happens on this page that is interesting? Nothing. Basically, we got a guy who’s whining because he can’t get laid because his favorite call-girl has a previous engagement, so he’s going to catch a movie. And for that, he’s calling on the gods and the fates. Have a nice date with Palmetta, and get the story moving.

 

Anyway, you have to know what can and cannot be drawn. This first panel can be drawn, but you wrote something that won’t come across well, if at all. You have to be on the lookout for that.

PAGE THREE (4 Panels)

Panel 1. TRAVIS walks through the sliding doors of a hotel lobby. He also wears slacks and two-tone sneakers. It is getting dark. (Where is the camera? Are we looking in from the street, or out over his shoulder? What kind of hotel? The Ritz, or a by-the-hour kind of place?) (Not-Enough-Info-Man. That shall be Trevor’s new name. And here is where that consistency I spoke about earlier starts to break down. And it’s only P3. We’re only 9 panels in. Color me surprised.)

CAP:

THE CLERK HAD SAID(Wonky tense) THERE WAS A BUS UP THE STREET THAT

WOULD TAKE ME TO A SKYTRAIN STATION. (Why does the audience need to know this?)

Panel 2. Back-view. The TRAVIS stands at the corner, the bus stop visible across the street. It is one of the ones with the large, multi-route sign and a shelter. (So this shot is from across the street? Or are we looking at his back as he looks across the street?) (And this is why I don’t like the “back-view/front view. It leads to confusion.)

CAP:

I HAD JUST UNDER AN HOUR BEFORE I WANTED TO BE AT THE THEATRE. (Okay consider this, show the movie time, later show his watch, you don’t have to spell everything out so completely. We are getting to a point of, then ‘I inhaled, then I exhaled’ with this narration.)

Panel 3. Side-view. TRAVIS crosses the street. (All right, we are looking at his back in the previous panel as he looks across the street. Make sure you tighten that up so this panel makes sense. Is the street deserted, or full of people?)

CAP:

ONLY THING WAS —

Panel 4. Front-view. TRAVIS stands at the bus stop.

CAP:

–I DIDN’T REMEMBER A SKYTRAIN STATION BEING IN THAT DIRECTION. (I think this is supposed to be the moment when things get Twilight Zone-y, but I am not sure what you mean. The station wasn’t in the right place? The train didn’t run that direction? He’s already found the station, seems like he’ll probably make the movie, there is little to no suspense here.)

(You have to, I mean you MUST, ask yourself, why will people care? Right now, we see a guy who is on a business trip headed to a movie alone with time to spare, wherever you are going with this, that is all you have given your audience thus far. There is no tension, no mystery, little character development, and you’ve asked people to turn the page twice.Will Travis choose popcorn or Sno Caps? Will he upgrade to the large soda for the free refills? These cannot be the questions you want people to be asking themselves.)

P3.

Another thing about PE is that they have a song called Night Train, which also happens to be the subtitle of this story. PE’s song is about drug dealing and not trusting other black people on the train just because they’re riding along with you. It’s full of energy, passion, and insight. It moves like a train going at full speed. It sticks with you, getting to its message fast. The first two lines go ahead and spell it out for you (Land of the free/But the skin I’m in identifies me…).

This piece is totally opposite from that. We’ve got another four pages that barely push the story forward. What’s the point, and really, I don’t care. But let’s see why I don’t care.

First, let’s deal with Not-Enough-Info-Man. We get that he’s wearing clothes in P1, panel 2, but here we are on P3, and you want to give the rest of his clothing? Why is it broken up like this? It makes no sense. It’s almost like we’re not seeing the whole guy, just from this waist down. That’s the sense that I got.

Secondly, and Sam brought this up: what kind of hotel is it? Since I brought it up previously, that’s where we’re going to leave it somewhat, but it speaks directly to the next bit.

Third, what kind of setting is this? Metropolitan, or suburban (although the business district)? Where is this taking place? NY is different from Chicago is different from LA is different from Tucson, is different from London. (I’ve never been to Europe. I really want to make it to Wimbledon during the championships, though. Anyone care to put me up for the fortnight?)

Fourth, and Sam brought this up, too: where are all the people? Not just pedestrians, but vehicles, too. It’s deserted.

Fifth: If he’s been here before, and he knows the station is in the opposite direction, why did he ask the clerk? I’m not seeing where that makes sense, except as a nonsensical way to do some foreshadowing. It isn’t working, because we’re too busy scratching our heads to give the foreshadowing the thought you want us to.

However, the good news is that this isn’t a wasted page. It gets us moving somewhat. If you combine P1 & P2, this would actually be the new P2, and we wouldn’t feel like you’re droning on and on. However, there are only four panels on this page, and not a lot of dialogue to anchor it. If you’re going to give us a snappy pace, make sure there’s a reason. There’s no reason here. It’s P3, and I have no idea why I’m reading this, and have already put it back on the shelf as totally uninteresting.

Know what’s a shame? People are probably more interested to see if I can make another Public Enemy reference on the next page than they are in this story. That’s something to think about.

PAGE FOUR (4 Panels)

Panel 1. Side-view. TRAVIS stands at a ticket machine, looking at it confused(Why does the ticket machine confuse dear Travis?).

Panel 2. Back-view. He is looking at the map(of what?).

CAP:

APPARENTLY THERE WAS A NEW LINE I WAN’T(wasn’t?) AWARE OF.(He is visiting from out of town, does he keep track of various cities’ civic decisions or transit routes for fun?)

Panel 3. POV. The ticket and change fall into the tray of the ticket machine.

Panel 4. Wide-view. TRAVIS heads for the escalator. (What escalator? In what direction? Where is the camera? We have no setting details in these descriptions.) (That escalator? Magically delicious. Then again, so is the ticket machine. At least the map was previously mentioned.)

CAP:

BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE.

(You have GOT to pick up the pace. Page four is a mostly silent page showing a man buying a ticket for a train. This could be a panel, does this sequence deserve to be an entire page? My instinct tells me ‘no.’)

P4.

I’m bored out of my entire mind.

I remember I went to martial arts practice one day. It was just me and Griff. I always came, rain or shine. I had been going for about 2 years, and had my yellow belt under me. It was cold, because it was in January, and we were practicing in a friend’s converted garage (he had converted it into a dojo). Why do I remember this? Because it was also my birthday. When I told Griff, he smiled and handed me some pads. He was going to give me my licks, but we were going to spar in order to do it. So we’re sparring, and he hits me fast but not really hard. It was fun. And afterwards, as a gift, he shows me a technique. It was a good day, just the two of us.

That story? More interesting than this page. The elderberries are more than in full bloom, they’ve overrun the place.

It’s P4, and there is no story here. Not one that anyone would are to read. No, I’m not a fan of a slow burn. Never have been. But this? This isn’t a slow burn. Slow burn means there’s interest. There’s no interest here for the reader. Know what’s happening? You’re the old uncle whose breath smells like stale cigarettes and onions, and you love to tell the same stories over and over again, and the reader is the niece or nephew whose heard the stories and is holding their breath as their eyes water and they look for an exit. It’s P4, there is no story, and the reader wants to get off the ride.

PAGE FIVE (3 Panels)

Panel 1. Wide back-view. The stairs at WATERFRONT station. TRAVIS comes up.

CAP:

I HAD NEVER BEEN AS FAR AS WATERFORNT(waterfront) BEFORE AND I WAS ALREADY KICKING MY (delete space) SELF. (Why? Because it was so nice and he should have come earlier? Because it is going to make him late for the movie? WHY?)

Panel 2. Wide back-view. TRAVIS walks out into the station looking around in wonderment.(If we see him from behind, how do we know ‘how‘ he is looking? [i.e. in wonderment, which is a weird word…] Did you include a description of the area in another document? Because you’ve given your artist zero description to work with here.)

CAP:

IT IS BEAUTIFUL.(This is a tense change, a jarring shift to the present… was that intentional?)

Panel 3. Wide back-view. TRAVIS walks through the doors to another section. (What kind of doors? Another section of what?)

(Okay, I know these characters are yours, and that you love them. I know that you know all about them, they are your babies. I get that. However, you have to ask yourself, objectively, is this interesting? Right now, you are the parent at the party showing videos of your kid buying train tickets, saying, ‘isn’t that awesome?’ no, it’s really not that awesome; everyone else is here to have fun, and you’re not letting them. Try to distance yourself from the connection you feel with these fictional people and find a way to take hold of the plot, it’s getting away from you right now.)

P5, and I’m going to disagree with Sam, but only a little bit.

The plot isn’t getting away from you right now. The plot got clean away—along with reader interest—on P1. You failed back on P1, and the only thing you’ve done since then is compound that failure.

You need to grab the reader by their short and curlies on P1, and barring that, by P3. P3. Why? P1 is a page turn, as is P3. By the time they reach P3, they should already be interested enough to see where you’re taking them. What you have here, Trevor, is crap. And it isn’t even an interesting crap. This isn’t a crap that you talk about, that you tell your significant other about. Long and drawn out, sure, but not interesting because of that.

Another thing? It’s P5, and nowhere do we have the character’s name. We’re watching him as he shuffles about wherever he’s at (Not-Enough-Info-Man strikes again, and again, and…), and we have no idea who he is. We just know he can’t get laid. Not only that, he can’t make it to the movie theater, either. Failures abound in this script.

The biggest thing, though, is the lack of a place description. White Void City. Remember in The Matrix when they were in the training program, right before Neo and Trinity went to assault the building to get back Morpheus? That’s where we’re at. It’s flat, it’s white, and it’s infinite. This is not a good place to be.

PAGE SIX (4 Panels)

Panel 1. Front-view. TRAVIS comes down the stairs onto another train platform for the transfer.

Panel 2. Side-view. TRAVIS stands on the platform.

Panel 3. Wide-view.

RECRODNING(Recording) (on speaker):

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE, DUE TO PLANNED TRACK MAITANENCE (maintenance), EXPO LINE SERVICE WILL BE REDUCED —

Panel 4. Front-view. TRAVIS looks defeated.

RECORDING:

–STOPPING AT EIGHT-THRITY MOST(I would delete this word) MONDAY TO(through?) THURSDAY NIGHTS.

CAP:

THE BEST LAID PLANS(comma) AND ALL THAT ROT.

(Again, does this require an entire page? Pages are precious, expensive, time consuming things to create. They do not materialize from nowhere. In theory, you are asking people to collaborate on this with you to give time and effort and probably money to this project. Is this page worth that? What happens here? Why do we care? Condense or perish, my friend.)

Ooh. P6, and I almost lost it. Got it back right at the end, there, but I almost lost it. It was a close thing.

Sam brought up an extremely good point that I was going to make in the rundown. Besides the fact that this is boring crap, you’ll be wasting money in getting this produced the way it is, because NOTHING HAPPENS.

We’re six pages in, this page has four panels, and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. Hell, we don’t even see him ride the damned train. He buys a ticket, and then he comes up some stairs, teleporting to somewhere else. How do we know he’s somewhere else? The sign, and because he says it’s “beautiful,” as opposed to the place he left, which I guess, was just ordinary. Although, how you can tell one place in a white void from the next is totally beyond me.

Boring crap. Actually, since this isn’t moving, can we say that you’re constipated? I wouldn’t even call it a fair assumption. The signs are all there: this is crap, and it isn’t moving. Those are the signs of constipation. I just wish that it wasn’t on the page.

PAGE SEVEN (4 Panels)

Panel 1. Wide back-view. TRAVIS walks back toward the stairs for the CANADA LINE.

CAP:

BACK TO THE HOTEL. (The voice has changed from narration to inner monologue. This is what he IS thinking, not how he tells the story. Something like ‘I considered going back to the hotel,’ would keep it consistent.)

Panel 2. Side-view. TRAVIS walks up the platform.

Panel 3. Side-view. TRAVIS looks up.

CAP:

OR MAYBE NOT. (Again, the voice here doesn’t match.)

Panel 4. POV. A sign to the exit on GRANVILLE STREET.

(See page wasting comments above, then see them again, just for good measure.)

P7, and a word of advice:

When you’re constipated, don’t tell everyone you know. Keep it private and take a stool softener or something. Really.

PAGE EIGHT (3 Panels)

Panel 1. TRAVIS emerges from the WATERFRONT exit near GRANVILLE STREET.

CAP:

I DIDN’T KNOW WHERE I WAS ON GRANVILLE, HAVING BEEN DISORIENTED QUITE A WHILE AGO. (Why did he become disoriented? Why do we care, why can’t you just show him looking around?)

Panel 2. Wide side-view. TRAVIS walks up right (I don’t know how he has been been walking previously, but this seems like a strange thing to say), with a new energy and purpose. He is walking past PACIFIC CENTRE. (And just how is the artist supposed to get this across to the reader?)

CAP:

SO I DECIDED TO JUST WALK UNTIL I RECOGNIZED SOMETHING.(We don’t need this narration, really we don’t. He uses common sense, not deductive reasoning. This kind of self reflection is only interesting if the person doing it has a unique way of thinking, like Sherlock or Batman.) (And, you changed voices again. An argument can be made to say you changed in the previous panel.)

Panel 3. Wide back-view. The Vancouver Art Gallery comes up on his right.

CAP:

IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG.

(I am optimistically hoping that you have put setting information in a separate document. Even so, there is very little information for any collaborator to use effectively in your descriptions.)

P8.

Is this a sign of life? I’m extremely leery about giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s still crap, don’t get me wrong. But still, this could be movement to an actual story. I’m cautiously optimistic, but I’m not getting my hopes up high.

What I want, Trevor, is pretty simple: I want to be entertained. I want to be intrigued. I want the story to move. I’ve told two Public Enemy stories, as well as given a memory, and those are more interesting and moved faster than this thing here.

Pages are a terrible thing to waste.

PAGE NINE (2 Panels)

Panel 1. Back-view. TRAVIS walks through the main entrance into the massive forayer (This is the meaning of the word you used: “a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, esp. to obtain something; a raid” this is the word I think you meant: foyer. Though, the first word would have been a lot more interesting.) the GALLERY. Next to the counter is a large donation bucket. It looks like a large garbage can with a clear plastic domed lid.

Panel 2. Back-view. TRAVIS walks through the door, past the donation bin without putting anything in. (This seems to be a moving panel.)(Nope. It’s only one action, not two.)

(This is page nine. NINE. Nothing has happened. Again, just so we are clear, this is page NINE.)

So, this is what I think happened.

Trevor had a story he wanted to tell, but he had a certain page count he wanted to make. So, he’s torturing everyone as he strives to make the page count, because the fact of the matter is, he doesn’t have enough actual story to hit his target. Because he doesn’t have enough story, he’s making us pay the price.

This isn’t a story about some nameless guy walking around in a void that has a few objects scattered here and there. No, not at all. This story is really about torturing us. It’s like we kicked puppies or something. Kicked puppies, and then giggled like maniacs. That’s the only thing I can think of. Do we deserve this? I should say not. It isn’t our fault.

PAGE TEN

Full-page. TRAVIS walks through the massive forayer(foyer) of the gallery.

(Pacing is killing you, I can’t get passed it. This is so very, very slow. You had something good in the beginning: your dialogue. I think it is organic and conversational. Other than a couple of little semantic snags [that very well could have been intentional] that was well written. My advice, find a way to include more of that. If you inject more dialogue, and condense some of the unnecessary panels, this story will be more interesting, or at least move. I feel like the events are happening in real time, like I am now an hour late for the movie. This is not because I feel so much empathy for the character, but because the pacing of this story feels like a traffic jam. Inching along, but never getting anywhere.

I read everything you sent, finished the script. You never pick up speed, that needs to change. If an audience wanted to wander around an unfamiliar city for a night, they could. This is real world stuff, which is doable, attainable, and routine. This means that you have to work to sustain some sort of momentum or curiosity at all times

It’s like taking a blind date to a dive restaurant and not letting them see the menu. The place itself is not all that impressive or novel, and you’re not even giving them an idea of what they serve there. Would you expect them to stay because of a vague hope that at some point, there might be food, maybe? ‘But they are with me and I am fascinating,’ you say. I know that, and you know that, but right now all your date knows is that you picked a crummy restaurant and you won’t tell them why you’re there. Would you stay?

Would you read this story if you hadn’t written it?)

P10, and all pretense of having any kind of sanity left is gone.

Pick ten mean things that I could say, and say them right here, in the plainest, most stark terms possible.

Since Sam has called it quits, so will I.

Let’s run this beast down.

Format: Flawless victory! This is one of two of the only passable things about this script. We’ll get to the second one in due time. But the format? Impeccable. (Take nice things said about this travesty when and where you can.)

Panel Descriptions: Too vague by far. These need to be beefed up a lot. Not by outrageous proportions, but if you did a proper establishing shot, then there’d be less to say about how sparse your panel descriptions are. You’re supposed to describe a panel, and a panel consists of at least three things: where the place is, what’s happening, and who’s doing it. If you do a proper establishing shot, then you only need to do a sketch for each successive panel, until you change scenery. If your character changes scenery by leaving their location, then you have to describe where they’re at. This is simple, basic stuff. What you have here, putting it in the nicest terms available to me, is inadequate. You’ve left us all in a white void, with no point of reference at all. And you did that for nine pages. (I’m not as brave as Sam. I didn’t look ahead.)

Pacing: This is the second place where you totally failed. In nine pages, I have no idea what this story is about. That is terrible. Actually, there should e an expeletive there, but I’m trying to keep this all-ages. Trying, but it’s a challenge. Why? Because in nine pages, nothing happened. Not one bloody thing.

Not only does nothing happen, you have it not-happening at a lightning pace. We add panels to slow down the reading experience, and we remove panels to speed it up. Another trick to slow it down is to add dialogue. However, the dialogue has to be interesting. But you add dialogue on a low panel-count page in order to keep the reader there longer. This thing? It moves along rapidly, even though nothing is happening. That’s the diametric opposite of good. Make it the diametric opposite, and intensify it. Distill it.

Nothing happens, Trevor. Nothing happens, and I don’t know what the story is about. That means you failed, and on multiple levels.

Dialogue: This is the second thing that is at least decent about this script. The dialogue, while uninteresting and uninspired, sounded very natural. The problem with it is that it didn’t move the story forward any. You didn’t do it with the art, so the dialogue has to do more work. What do you do with it? Not one blessed thing. You don’t move the story along, you don’t let us into what’s going on, you just make us wish we were at the dentist.

Then, you changed the voice a couple of times. It went from a story being told to us, to a first-person narrative, and back again. That’s terrible. Stick to one voice.

Content: As a reader…I actually wouldn’t have to worry about it. No publisher would pick this story up, so I wouldn’t have to actually worry about it. Only if you decided to self-publish, and even then, there would have to be something interesting to make me give it more than a micro-second of thought.

Editorially, this is crap. I’d have read the story, given it back to you, and tell you to come back when you’ve got a story to tell. You did in ten pages what really could have been done in three. What are the last pages? I don’t know. Not only do I not know, I don’t care to know. I stopped caring at around P5. Then it was just a wonder as to how long you’d let this go on.

Ten condensed into three means nothing of worth happened for seven whole pages. Think about that. Seven whole pages of nothing happening. How does that make you feel, knowing you wasted seven pages?

You need to do one of two things: condense this, or find more story to tell. Editorially, those are the only two choices you have.

And that’s all we have for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s next.

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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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