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TPG Week 141: Run-On Sentences, Run-On Pages

| September 6, 2013

TPGFeatured_01

Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds. This week, we have Brave One Jourdan McLain back. Really, it isn’t going to be pretty. Let’s just get that out there. We have Samantha LeBas in purple, I’m in red, and let’s see what Jourdan does with.

AKIHIRO: UNDER THE SAMURAI’S MOON PART 1 OF 4

Writer: Jourdan McLain

Page: 1

All of this stuff to the right? No idea why it’s there, if you’re just going to repeat most of the info right under it. If it’s supposed to be a header, make a header. If you don’t know how to make a header, then learn. I can’t give any tips, because I don’t know what program you’re using, nor what version of what program. Most have a Help button, where you can search to do such things. Simple.

AKIHIRO:

UNDER THE SAMURAI’S MOON

PART 1 OF 4

PAGE 1 (7 Panels)

Panel 1(Inset on Panel 2): Extreme close up of the cornea of Yukiko’s eye reflecting a cloud, in the summer night sky, backlit by the top half of a bright silvery grey full moon partly showing behind the cloud. (This does not make sense. Is it reflecting, or projected? Why isn’t it on the round canvas of the moon?)

Panel 2: Zoom out to a bird’s eye view and we see Yukiko walking towards a house (http://www.houseofjapan.com/local/giant-cup-tea-ceremony-at-nara-temple) in front of her with a stable and two tied up horses to her right. (She is not walking with the stable. Separate sentences.) Yukiko is looking up and over her left shoulder at the sky frowning in her ocean pattern kimono (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/japanese-traditional-clothing.html) as she is holding a tray. We can’t see what is on the tray because her body is blocking the center of it. (If this is bird’s eye view will we see her clothes all that much? Also consider making those links hyperlinks from text. Highlight the word your are referring to right click, or go to the inspector depending on the program you are using, enable hyperlink and paste the web address in the url field. That way your text won’t be interrupted by long links.)

AKIHIRO: [WORD BALLOON COMING FROM HOUSE]: GOD! PLEASE GIVE STRENGTH TO THE FAMILY (families?) OF THE HUNDREDS WHO WERE MARTYRED.

AKIHIRO: [WORD BALLOON COMING FROM HOUSE]: LORD! I KNOW YOU CAN MAKE ME INTO A NEW MAN, AND CLEANSE ME OF MY SINS, BUT I’M LOSING FAITH AND– (This all sounds very Christian, do you mean for it to?)

CAPTION [SHAPED AS A SCROLL WITH DROP CAPS]: TOKUGAWA PERIOD. NAGASAKI, JAPAN 1624.

Panel 3: A worm’s eye view shot from the porch looking inside the house (http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/japan/pictures2/S0105.jpg ) through the doorway behind Yukiko who is inside bent over with a tray of chicken (later you say this is a whole chicken, mention that here. Is it feathered or cleaned?), various raw meats, and apricots lowered directly behind Akihiro. Akihiro is looking back at Yukiko over his left shoulder. Akihiro is kneeled down in front of a porcelain statue of Maria Kannon (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maria_Kannon.jpg) (So, he is supposed to sound Christian, got it.) that is on top of a small table with lit incense and candles on it next to a chair and his samurai armor on a stand (http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/japanese-samurai-armor-142327034). Akihiro is calm and is wearing a black hakama with a blue robe and is surrounded by iron spikes driven into the floor that are connected to thick metal chains that lead to an unlatched iron collar with a lock on one end of it that is to his right. (You are getting a bit Noah and the Ark-ish here. Bird’s eye, worm’s eye… Why not aerial shot, low angle shot? …I am not even sure that worms have eyes.)(Both shots, bird’s eye/high angle, and worm’s eye/low angle, are valid and interchangeable.)

AKIHIRO: –YUKIKO, IS IT TIME?

YUKIKO: YES (comma) MY DEAR. THE FIREFLIES HAVE STOPPED GIVING OFF THEIR LIGHT, AND THE CRICKETS HAVE STOPPED CHIRPING. (This sounds like morning, crickets and fireflies are associated with nighttime. If they stop their schtick wouldn’t it mean the night is over. Wouldn’t he transform at night? This is confusing.)

Panel 4: Mid close up shot from the side shows Akihiro’s and Yukiko’s profile as they look at one another. Yukiko has a slight smile and tears in her eyes as she has closed the lock on the front of the now latched oversize collar that is around Akihiro, who has a big smile on his face.

AKIHIRO: I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, YUKIKO.

SFX [LOWERCASE]: click

YUKIKO: I LOVE YOU(suggest comma) TOO, AKIHIRO.

Panel 5: Same shot as Panel 4 of Akihiro and Yukiko, except they are now kissing and Yukiko has her right hand on Akihiro’s cheek.

Panel 6: Full shot view of the front of Yukiko now standing in the door way blocking our view of Akihiro, who is in the house, as she is looking up to her left at the sky as a tear comes down her saddened face.

YUKIKO: I’LL SEE YOU IN THE MORNING…MY DEAR. (Why a pause here? I don’t get it.)

Panel 7: Same view as Panel 6 except Yukiko is walking off the panel to her left revealing Werewolf Akihiro is inside, now double his normal size, sitting with the chains from the floor extended that connects to his collar. With his medium golden fur bursting through his now open and slightly ripped tight robe as he has an apricot pinched between his right-hand claws above the various raw meats and is holding a whole chicken with his left-hand as half of the chicken is in his mouth while his sharp teeth are partly sunken into his meal. (I feel like you should have broken the page before this panel. It could make for a cool splash, I know that might mangle your page turns, but it’s worth considering.)

(All right. You’ve named your characters, created some element of curiosity, and given us a setting. That’s good. The page starts general and gets more specific. That’s also good. Some of the language is a little perplexing, but there is nothing damning here. I do think you should consider moving the reveal of the wolf to after the turn, if your count will allow it.)

P1 is on the books!

What do we have here? Well, immediately, we have problems with clarity of language within the panel descriptions. Your efforts are all for naught if your panel descriptions aren’t clear. And these, Jourdan, could use some help.

Okay, you could have cut down the number of panels on this page. The first panel is useless. I know you’re trying to get that full moon in there, but there was a better way to go about it. You could have just gone directly to panel 2. From left to right, it should have been the moon, your character, and the house. Don’t have her looking back over her shoulder. That’s a waste, because you only had that because you wanted the “cool” first panel. Screw cool. If it doesn’t help to push the story forward, you don’t need it. Cut panel 1.

Sam is also very right in that you should have moved panel 7 to the next page. Personally, I’d move it to page 4. I’d have stretched out the mystery of what’s going on a bit longer, making the couple’s interaction between the couple, and then made the transformation into something that could be seen, with the end result coming on P4. That would have worked better. What you have right now, though, is a sudden transformation, and that robs the reader of drama.

Know what drama is? An American Werewolf in London. The Howling. Any of the terrible, terrible sequels to those films. Hell, just about any werewolf movie that I can think of has at least one transformation scene in it. Why? Because that’s what people want to see. (Personally, I don’t believe any movie has done it better than An American Werewolf in London. That’s the high water mark.)

PAGE BREAK(If possible, you should actually insert breaks, rather than just announcing them, but I see your intent.)

Title: AKIHIRO: UNDER THE SAMURAI’S MOON PART 1 OF 4

Writer: Jourdan McLain

Page: 2

Yeah, it’s supposed to be a header. My head just ‘sploded a little.

Page 2 (9 Panels)

Panel 1: Close up of Yukiko sideways face laying on a pillow as she looks startled as she is in her bed. (wonky language, consider: ‘Yukiko’s face lying on a pillow, wearing a startled expression’? or something like that.)

SFX: CLA-CLANK

YUKIKO [IN LOWERCASE LETTERS]: not again. (I would either add add an ‘ugh,’ or ellipses to the beginning of this, since she is woken suddenly, and you have her murmuring rather than exclaiming.)

Panel 2: Tilted Worm’s eye view from inside the house we see the unlatched broken collar and chains in the foreground with a view of Yukiko in a robe (no reference, I mention it because you have been doing it thus far, and a Japanese robe from the 1600s is kind of obscure.) on in the middle ground outside running towards a small black opening in the dense bamboo forest in the background.(How far away is she?) (I hate run-on sentences. I hate having to read them. Being forced to read them means I hate you a little bit, too. Nothing personal. You fix the run-ons, you fix my hate. Simple.)

YUKIKO: AKIHIRO, COME BACK!

SFX [COMING FROM OPENING IN THE FOREST]: RUSTLE RUSTLE

Panel 3: High angle view of a confused Yukiko with arms extended pushing bamboo trees away while walking in the thick forest. (Where is the camera? How can we see her face?)

Panel 4: Over the shoulder of Werewolf Akihiro with no robe on looking at a tired Jubeiwith shoulder length hair holding a katana sword diagonally across his chest as blood drips from his closed left eye and a large scratch is seen on his sleeveless left shoulder, while the rolled-up right sleeve is intact. (I’m going to give you a trick at the bottom of this page. This should help with the clarity that is lacking in these panel descriptions.)

Panel 5: Low angle view of Yukiko looking up in the forest as monkeys(what kind of monkeys?) swing by her and birds(what kind of birds) fly in the same direction, under the stars.(Where is your light source here? The moon? Can we make out the wildlife?)

Panel 6: Wide shot view of Jubei with his left arm bent and forearm out, and his right arm and sword is extended behind him as he runs in anger towards Werewolf Akihiro in the forest with his mouth open and speed lines behind him.(I am having a hard time seeing this posture, why is his forearm out? Werewolf Akihiro is also charging at Jubei in anger, on all fours as dirt kicks up from under his claws, with his mouth open and drool flying from behind his face as his hakama is also flowing behind him with speed lines following. (Do we see them in profile, what side of the page is each character on?)

SFX [FOLLOWING FROM JUBEI]: AAAAAHHHH

SFX [FOLLOWING WEREWOLF AKIHIRO]: GWWAARRRHH

Panel 7 (INSET ONTO PANEL 8): Its(It’s) day time now and over the shoulder of Yukiko, looking through the bamboo trees she has pushed away, we see a shirtless Akihiro laying face down in the forest. (Are you intentionally concealing the collision? Why? Why is it day? That’s jarring. If the sun was rising as Yukiko woke up you should mention that, otherwise it will be rendered as night. I feel like this should come after a page turn. Is Akhiro visibly wounded?)

YUKIKO [WHISPERING BALLOON]: OH, NO! (Why isn’t this lowercase as the earlier balloon was? Why is she whispering?)

Panel 8: High angle view of Yukiko kneeling down and touching the back of Akihiro with one hand on his back as the other hand is laying on her chest as she is looking to her left and sees Jubei smirking and tying a piece of sleeve behind the back of his head as a make shift eye patch with both arms sleeveless and his hair is now in a top-knot as he sits on top of a rock in a clearing in the forest surrounded by fallen, sliced, and broken bamboo stalk in the damaged forest. Directly next to him on the ground are a calligraphy pen and an open book facing down which cover reads: THE TEXT OF LOOKING AT THE MOON By Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi. (A bound book, maybe a journal, with text on the cover in 1640s Japan?) (That first sentence has 95 words in it. 95, and there are only 2 commas, and those only come near the end of it. My hate has grown, but it isn’t in direct proportion of my headache. Thankfully, we’re near the end of the page.)

YUKIKO: I’M SO SORRY THAT HE HURT YOU, SIR. (Is ‘Sir’ the right honorific to use here? There is a very complex system of etiquette that dictates courtesy titles in that country. If I were you I’d look into that.)

JUBEI: CALL ME JUBEI, AND DON’T WORRY…IF ANYTHING(I would delete ‘if anything’) HE HELPED ME IMPROVE MY SWORDSMANSHIP.

Panel 9: Mid close up of view of Yukiko looking down on the partial back(do you mean that we can only see part of it? Or has he been maimed?) of Akihiro in the foreground.

JUBEI (OFF-PANEL): SO, THIS IS WHAT KILLED THE GOVERNOR? (Governor? Is that the right title? My research says that governors didn’t exist in Japan until the 1870s.)

(This page is heavy, consider moving panels 7-9 to the next page, since there is such a markable change in tone and content with those panels.

Again you have named the character and introduced the conflict, good job, but you need to consider providing more context. Who is Jubei? Why was he there? Why does he stick around? You may want to consider having him offer to help Yukiko get Akhiro home, or something like that to introduce the next change that will occur. Also you need to mention that Akhiro is no longer in wolf form. I think that is the case, yeah? Should be stated specifically. Devil is in the details.

I notice you losing your grip on the setting. You’re using modern ideas, like bound books with printed covers, the words ‘governor,’ and ‘sir,‘ even the idea that Yukiko puts on a robe before leaving the house in her nightclothes. If you specify the setting, by giving a real place and time, you need to make your best effort to be true to it.)

P2, and I’m no happier than I was on P1.

Here’s what we have that’s going on: you don’t have 9 real panels on this page, you have 8 panels with an inset. However, you don’t need 8 panels on this page. As Sam said, you should have cut it at panel 6. That would have been a respectable place to cut the action. Also, as Sam said, it needs to benefit from a true page-turn, so stopping the action at the end of P2 (a left-hand page) wouldn’t have really helped, because there isn’t enough of a psychological break that gets us to a new setting/timeframe for P3. Now, since we’ve already moved the last panel of P1 to P4 and made it a splash page, this page would actually be P5, and the last few panels move to P6.

Know what this means? Your pacing is off. I’m not going to call it terrible. No, I save that word for when its truly needed. Like your panel descriptions.

Here’s the hell of it, though: your panel descriptions aren’t that bad. They need to be reworked for clarity, but the overwhelming bulk of your problem is that you don’t know how to construct a sentence. It’s killing you, and it’s making me hate you a little bit, because you’re forcing me to read it. And really, I don’t want to hate you. I want to be exactly what my reputation says I am: white light and fuzzy bunnies.

Know who had a problem with sentence construction? Liam Hayes. His sentences were short and to the point. Simple sentences is the term. What I had him do is to start combining his sentences into more complex formations, and I had him do it slowly.

Here is what I want you to do, Jourdan: I want you to make short, simple sentences. If your sentence has more than fifteen words to it, then you’re wrong. I’d prefer if there were ten or less, but fifteen is your outer limit. What this does is that it forces you to think clearer, so that the rest of the creative team doesn’t hurt themselves in trying to tease out the meaning of your panel descriptions. Short, simple sentences. We can talk about complex sentences after you’ve shown improvement with the simple stuff. Again, no more than fifteen, but I prefer ten or less.

Now, the anachronisms.

I’m not a smart guy. I tell everyone who’ll listen that I’m not smart. However, because I’m not smart, you should have klaxons going off whenever I see something that is obviously wrong. And there are things that are obviously wrong here.

Your characters sound Christian. I’m not going to do the research. Europeans have been doing their best to foist Christianity on “savages/barbarians” since they found it themselves. It’s possible that they were taught by missionaries. That set off a warning bell, but I was willing to ignore it.

The next is the bound book. Typically, not something you think of in feudal Japan. Also, the concept of a governor. Those sent off warning bells for me, as well.

Know what this is? This is a martial arts flick, but without the martial arts. That just leaves the bad dubbing. (Got me wanting to watch a Master Killer flick now.)Why bad dubbing? Because it isn’t accurate: sometimes, instead of translating the words, they translate concepts. (Go out and buy The Five Deadly Venoms. Watch it twice: first dubbed, and then with subtitles. You’ll see the story differences between the dubbing and the subtitles.) If you’re going to go, go all in. Don’t half-ass it.

 

 

PAGE BREAK

Title: AKIHIRO: UNDER THE SAMURAI’S MOON PART 1 OF 4

Writer: Jourdan McLain

Page: 3

 

Page 3 (6 Panels)

{Flashbacks are in gray wash only}

Panel 1 {Flashback}: Same mid close up view of Yukiko from P2 Panel 9, except she is terrified and crying, looking down on the partial furry back of Werewolf Akihiro while blood is splashing in the air as she is surrounded by radiation lines.(Is his back partially furry, or partially out of panel? Why is this flashback? Where is the blood coming from? Repeating this panel confuses the timeline. Consider changing it up more, providing more setting detail.)

YUKIKO’S CAPTION: “YES, BUT IT WAS MY FAULT…”

Panel 2 {Flashback}: Mid shot of Yukiko as she runs towards the camera crying in a pine tree forest at during a full moon at night. Werewolf Akihiro stands in the mid ground with broken handcuffs on as he bites into the neck of the governor that he is holding off the ground. Blood pours down the governor and onto Werewolf Akihiro’s fur and his black-and-white stripped hakama, as the governor looks up blankly while his lantern is in mid-air as it falls from his open hand. (If a governor dies in a forest, does he make a sound? No one cares, really, because they’re too busy asking the more important question: what is the governor doing in the forest?)

YUKIKO’S CAPTION: “…I DIDN’T LEAVE HIM ANY FOOD.”

JUBEI’S CAPTION [EMERALD SHAPE]: “YOU CAN’T BLAME YOURSELF…” (Why are you shaping the caption as an emerald? The letterer should take it upon themselves to color the two captions differently, in order to give each a distinct, visual “voice” for the reader.)

Panel 3: Out of the flashback mid shot of Yukiko walking to the house towards the camera calmly during the day as the sun is out. Jubei smirks while he walks in the mid ground holding Akihiro off the ground over his shoulder with Akihiro’s back facing us. Jubei is also holding a bag in his other hand that hangs to the same level as the lantern fromPanel 2. The horses are still tied up outside the stable to their right as they have just walked out from the bamboo forest behind them.

JUBEI: …HE DID JUST ATTACK ME. (This is not a logical continuation of the previous line of dialogue.)

YUKIKO: YOU WERE IN HIS TERRITORY, THOUGH.

JUBEI: IF THAT’S TRUE(consider ‘why’ or ‘the reason’ instead of ‘true’), WHY HASN’T HE ATTACKED ANY OF THE OTHER FARMERS NEARBY?

Panel 4: Mid shot view inside the house of Yukiko shrugging her shoulders looking up at Jubei who is slightly arching backwards with one hand on his lower back as the other hand is wrapped around his chin he looks down at the statue of Maria Kanon while Akihiro is sitting up unconscious in a chair between them.(The back and forth pace of the dialogue makes it seem like they are covering ground too quickly.)

YUKIKO: MAYBE (consider adding ‘he thought’)YOU WERE A THREAT?(Change to period)

JUBEI: HMM, THAT’S INTERESTING…BUT THERE HAVE BEEN MURDERS OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BY SOME KIND OF ANIMAL IN THREE DIFFERENT CITIES. (This is awkward wording, have three government officials died, or have several died in each city?) (Animals kill. Animals cannot commit murder.)

JUBEI: IF THIS IS HIS ONLY ATTACK LIKE YOU SAY THAN(then) (GAAAH! Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIYAH!!!) IT’S(delete) SOMETHING MORE (is) HAPPENING, (Consider separate balloon) AND UNTIL I FIND OUT WHAT’S GOING ON(comma) I WANT YOU TWO OUT OF HERE TONIGHT. (Who the hell is he to tell these people to leave their home?)

Panel 5: Close up 3/4 profile view of Jubei, with his hand now off his face, looking down at Akihiro whose face is partially in the panel and eyes closed.

YUKIKO (OP): WHY?

JUBEI: I’VE TALKED TO THE POLICE AND A FARMER TOLD THEM HE SAW THE ANIMAL RUN BACK HERE. SO(comma) THEY’RE COMING HERE TONIGHT TO ARREST BOTH OF YOU FOR QUESTIONING.(When did he talk to the police. Again is that the right word? Western style police didn’t exist in Japan until the 1870s. They are either arresting them or questioning them. Remember your setting, do officials bring people in for questioning in 1640s Japan?)

Panel 6: Extreme close up view of Akihiro’s closed eyes.

JUBEI (OP): HOW DID HE BECOME LIKE THIS(comma) ANYWAY? (Become indicates transformation. I don’t know if ‘become like this’ is the best way to get your point across here. Consider something like ‘what made him like this?’ or ‘how did he become this?’)

(Physically, they cover a lot of ground here, more than the dialogue allows for, really. We never figure out why Jubei was there, or why he is helping. Why would Yukiko listen to him? You need to give a little more detail about where he came from and his motivation, even if it just a line or two of dialogue. I understand that you may want to hold onto the mystery for later, which is fine, but his actions don’t make sense without a little more context.)

Okay.

This is P3, and so far, we’ve seen a werewolf in chains, a fight, and now we get an explanation of sorts, along with a flashback. I’d say that you’re moving a tad too fast. You easily have eight pages of content here, crammed into three pages. Again, your pacing is off.

Now, as a writer and editor, I have certain pet peeves. I hate Hate HATE when “writers” use the word women as a singular. “That’s a pretty women.” Drives me up a wall. The second thing I want killed with fire is the incorrect use of then/than. That easily makes me want to do violence.

To bring up Liam Hayes again, he did the “woman/women” thing to me a couple of times, and told him that it drove me crazy, and the next time, he’d have to personally ride a barrel of whiskey across the ocean to bring to me, and he’d better not die. Dying wasn’t an option, because I’d find him and bring him back to life, and he’d have to start over again. He didn’t want to owe me the whiskey, let alone ride a barrel across the ocean, so he got better in a hurry.

If you want to be a writer, you should know the difference between then/than, to/two/too, and should have, along with a couple more that are escaping me right now. (There is no such term as “should of,” and I die inside a little bit whenever I see it.)

When a friend of mine went back to school to get her degree, I had to explain to her the difference between then and than. She eventually got it. She wasn’t a writer, so she had an extremely small excuse. As the writer of a story, Jourdan, you don’t have that excuse.

Everyone goes to school and learns the rules of their language. Writing is something we learn, because it is one of the basics of how we communicate. (With everyone being hyper-connected the past ten years or so, we probably write more than we speak. Between texting, forums, social media, blogs, and professional writing, we probably write a hell of a lot more than we speak.) We have little reason not to be better writers than we are. We can be terrible artists, but we should know enough of our own language to make ourselves easily understood in a written form.

Rant over.

 

PAGE BREAK

Title: AKIHIRO: UNDER THE SAMURAI’S MOON PART 1 OF 4

Writer: Jourdan McLain

Page: 4

Page 4 (7 Panels)

(Dream Panels will be penciled, inked and colored with non-dominant hand except for Yukiko’s, Akihiro’s and Okami Majo’s face. Please leave in any “mistakes” as dreams aren’t always clear)(Seriously? I don’t know many artists who would feel comfortable drawing with their opposite hand. There has to be a more effective way to communicate the ‘dream’ idea. I can barely write my name with my left hand, why would you think that art will be readable this way? It is an interesting idea, but I don’t know if it can be realized well.) (Hm. Unless you know your artist is ambidextrous, I’m with Sam. This is the time for thinking outside the box a little bit. Using different media is a viable option. So is hiring a different artist to do the sequence. Any any “mistakes” left in could look strange. When I dream, I usually have two different types: either I’m a participant, or I’m a spectator. Lots of things happen that I can attribute to dream logic, but there aren’t “mistakes” that I could attribute to it. There’s a difference between dream logic and possible outrageous anatomy. I love the original Nightmare on Elm Street, because of the goat. Just a bit of floating dream logic that was just there, not needing to be explained.)

Panel 1 (Dream Panel): Mid shot of a bruised Akihiro from the side kneeled down with tears flowing from his closed eyes as he wails. Akihiro is holding Yukiko’s cut in half body from the waist up, with one arm, as she stares directly at us in shock with blood trickling from her mouth. Akihiro’s other arm is severed from his elbow down as it lies on the ground next to him as it still holds his sword while Yukiko’s legs are lying barely in the panel near several rolling apricots. Men(How many? How are they positioned?) with leopard and other animal print robes are walking off as blood drips from their swords as they pass by fruit stands, a frantic running crowd (How many people? 5? 20? 100?), and a woman behind them bare feet in a white kimono (what is she doing?) in the background. The animal print thugs have thrown the clutch purse of Yukiko behind Akihiro that is in mid-air falling towards the ground. (wha… you’ve changed settings and failed to mention that we are in a market or provide any detail about it. The detail can be provided in a separate document, but you still need to say they are in a market in this description.)

YUKIKO’S CAPTION: “HE SAID,(delete comma) HE WOULD NEVER TELL ME.”

SFX: AAAAAAAHHHHHHH (from where?)

ANIMAL PRINT THUG: PISS! WE DID ALL THAT FIGHTIN’ AND THEY AIN’T EVEN REALLY HAVE NOTHIN’(This dialect is modern, and makes little to no sense here.)(Ending punctuation.)

Panel 2 (Dream Panel): Mid close up of Akihiro in the foreground looking back at Okami Majo standing bare-foot in the mid ground in front of the running crowd and fruit stands in the background. Okami Majo scrunches her face in anger as she talks to Akihiro. She has straight scarlet mid-chest level hair and is wearing a white kimono wrapped with an oversized bright blue bow, and a scarlet color full moon amulet hanging from her neck.(I think this is the woman in the white kimono from the previous panel. If so, you need to put this information in that description with her first appearance, or in a separate document. If you choose to do the latter, make sure you refer to her by name the first time you mention her in a panel description.)

OKAMI MAJO: AKIHIRO! I AM OKAMI MAJO, AND(delete ‘, and‘ add period) I CAN HELP HER.

AKIHIRO: WH-WHAT? HOW?

OKAMI MAJO: JUST PROMISE ME YOUR LIFE.(This seems exceedingly casual, given what she is asking.)

AKIHIRO: BUT I ALREADY GAVE MY LIFE TO CHRI–

OKAMI MAJO: –GIVE ME YOUR LIFE TO SAVE HERS.

AKIHIRO (OP): GO AHEAD! I’LL DO WHATEVER.(Again this sounds modern, [like ‘idk it’s whatever, lulz.’ kind of modern] consider ‘whatever you want’ or ‘I’ll do anything.’)

Panel 3 (Dream Panel): Close up of Okami Majo grinning as her eyes and the amulet are both gold and her now golden blonde hair is in mid-air floating upward. The background is now filled with blue ribbon swirls.(Should we be seeing her hair transition from red to blonde? That might make it read more clearly.)

OKAMI MAJO: I HOPE YOU FEEL THAT WAY LATER.(This doesn’t fit with the line of dialogue that preceded it.)

Panel 4 (Dream Panel): Long shot showing a smiling Yukiko holding her clutch purse as her arm is wrapped around one of Akihiro’s. Akihiro looks at her terrified as he grabs his heart with his other hand. In the background in the market area we see customers peacefully shopping while the animal print thugs are walking towards Akihiro and Yukiko.(When I started reading this panel I thought her torso was holding the arm that had been cut off lying on the ground. You need to make it more clear that the reset button has been hit. They are walking through the market and everything is all better now, right? Lead with that.)

YUKIKO: WE SHOULD GET SOME APRICOTS, I LOVE APRICOTS.

AKIHIRO: JESUS!

YUKIKO: SHH! NOT IN PUBLIC.(Do not mention that name in public? Is that the intent here? She wouldn’t react to him exclaiming like this about apricots?)

Panel 5 (Dream Panel): Mid Shot of a cheerful Yukiko looking and pointing off at an apricot stand as Akihiro is looking back at the animal prints thugs in anger as they walk pass him, you see motion lines following his head. One of the thugs wearing a leopard pattern print has turned back to look at Akihiro with an eyebrow raised with motion lines following his head also.

YUKIKO: THIS IS GREAT! THEY LOOK PERFECT.

Panel 6 (Dream Panel): Close up view of the face of the thug, who was looking back, which is now a tilted screaming wide mouth leopard head instead with spit dripping down its fangs . While the rest of the thugs faces we can’t see.(I don’t understand, is he a were-leopard thing? Or his mouth the only thing that is altered? How many thugs are in the background?)

SFX: GWAARRGGGHHH (Is this a sound effect, or is the thug growling? If that’s the case it’s dialogue.)

Panel 7: A non dream panel of an extreme close up of Akihiro’s surprise wide eyes as sweat drips from his brow.(Weird jump. I felt like you were building to something else, like a confrontation between Akhiro 2.0 and the fancy animal-print clad thugs…You keep setting up conflicts and not showing them. Is that intentional. It’s frustrating as a reader.)

AKIHIRO: <Koff> < Koff> WHERE ARE WE?

(I am confused by the dream panels as opposed to flashback panels. Did this actually happen, or is this imagined?

Also, while the drawing with the non-dominant hand thing sounds cool, I would be remiss if I didn’t strongly caution you about that decision. Maybe it would work if they were penciled normally and inked with the opposite hand? This is beyond risky. I feel like you would get the pages back and be disappointed. Assuming you can find someone who wants to put their name on work they did with their good hand tied behind their back. It’s going to look like an child did the work, if it makes any visual sense at all.)

Okay, this 4th page is a confusing waste.

Let’s take it from the previous page.

You have some guy who defeated the werewolf with a sword, without killing him. Without the werewolf seemingly being too worse for wear. The guy asks her what happened, and then she goes into a dream sequence instead of a regular flashback? You don’t even show her falling asleep, so we have no idea how she got there. The audience won’t have any frame of reference for when she wakes up. They’ll be left scratching their heads, wondering how they got there.

Again, it seems like you went for what was cool, instead of trying to tell the story. This is interfering with your storytelling.

What does this dream sequence do for the story that a straightforward flashback couldn’t?

 

PAGE BREAK

Title: AKIHIRO: UNDER THE SAMURAI’S MOON PART 1 OF 4

Writer: Jourdan McLain

Page: 5

Page 5 (6 Panels)

Panel 1: Wide shot at night on a sparse hill top forest that sits above Nagasaki is a scared Yukiko in the foreground riding a horse that is pulling a small cart with boxes and Akihiro inside of it. Akihiro is sitting up and is now wearing body armor as his hair is blown in different directions he looks back at the thick cloud of dust in the air into the background as we see the silhouettes of a dozen men on horses chasing them. (Is the cart open? Or is it a cage-type thing? What are their expressions like?)

YUKIKO: MOUNT INASA…THE POLICE ARE TRYING TO ARREST US. (This is answer to the question posed on the earlier page? I really think this should all be on one page. The dialogue is a little dry, ‘the police are chasing us.’ or something like that might be better here.)

Panel 2: From Akihiro’s point of view as he is looking down at his half-human arm and half-werewolf hand holding on to the side of the cart. We also can see down over the edge of the road down into a deep hill side in the distance as small rocks fall downward.

AKIHIRO: YUKIKO I’M CHANGING, AND(but) THERE’S NO MOON OUT!

YUKIKO (OP): HOW?!

Panel 3: Behind the back view of Werewolf Akihiro, with some of his armor still attached, in mid-air as he jumps down towards the dozen of horrified police in black armor (http://www.japanese-armor.com/japanese-references.shtml) and their terrified horses looking up at him in the air above them.

[PENCILER: Go crazy with Panel 4 there are plenty of wolves, horses and cops for you to arrange]

Panel 4: Point of view of Okami Majo as her hand is in the foreground of the panel pointing at the police and their horses as they are being attacked by some werewolves while other werewolves are running towards the police.(Where did Okami come from? Where did the werewolves come from? How many are there? Is she off panel or is this over the shoulder? How do we know it is her?) Werewolf Akihiro stands on his hind legs in the center of the panel in the mid ground observing the battle. The battle consist of Cop #1 is dragged off his horse by a werewolf with its mouth, a horse being attacked, a werewolf falling backward from a punch by Cop #2 who has his sword drawn in the other hand as a werewolf leaps towards his back, a werewolf being skewered by two police, and Cop #3 being held in the air with claws through his chest from a standing werewolf. (You are actually calling for 5 ‘cops‘ here, but you only number 3 of them. If you are going that route you might want to number the werewolves, too.) Yukiko’s horse and carriage are visible in the background still. (Is Yukiko still on her horse?)

OKAMI MAJO [BURSTING BALLOON]: ATTACK! (If she is not on panel, you need to note that)

COP #1: OH GOD!(God?) (Looks like the missionary got him, too.)

SFX [FROM ONE ATTACKED HORSE]: GNNAAGGHHH

COP #2: GET OFF ME!

SFX [FROM WEREWOLF BEING STABBED BY TWO COPS]: AARRHHFFF

COP #3: AAAGGGHHH!

Panel 5: Canted wide shot over the shoulder of Werewolf Akihiro on all fours walking towards a smiling Okami Majo who is wearing a tight form-fitting black, green, and purple samurai armor speckled with gold (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gusoku_Met04.4.9.jpg) from the waist up and from the waist down a floor-length puffy wedding style gown with the same color scheme as the top. Her now white and curly hair is coming out from her black and gold helmet as her amulet and eyes are a bright silvery grey. Her arm is stretched out and hand is curled towards her as she waves on Akihiro to come to her. Her other hand is surrounded by wavy lines as she rub the top of an excited werewolf’s head next to her that is on all fours while an army of werewolves stand behind her on all fours.(You’ve repeated the error of placing a character in a panel, then describing her in the next one. The relevant parts of the description [most likely just her clothing and hair color though I really don’t grasp how she is positioned, is she completely off panel?] need to be in the previous panel [if she is there… still not sure.)

OKAMI MAJO: I NEED YOU AGAIN, AKIHIRO–

YUKIKO (OP): –DON’T GO AKIHIRO!–

Panel 6: Close up profile of a smiling Okami Majo in the foreground, as her hair has blown, in front of an extreme long shot of Nagasaki in the background (http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cab/200708150001.html) with the constellation of lupus the wolf visible in the sky (http://www.faremersalmanac.com/astronomy/2012/06/04/lupus-the-night-wolf/).

OKAMI MAJO [ROUGH BALLOON WITH A FIRE FONT]: —FOR MY REVENGE!

(This page gets confusing. Is Okami in Panel 4? Your description says no, but your dialogue says yes. Where do the werewolves come from? We see the police approaching but the werewolves seem to transport. Do they transport? You have some clarifying to do here. Also, if you are changing the color of Okami’s hair and eyes, and altering her clothing in each appearance, you need to make sure there is some connective thread that makes her recognizable.)

END

I can see that you did some good initial research (Maria Kannon, secret Christianity in Japan, etc.) but you have more to do. You lose the authenticity of the setting, I think you need to capitalize on it a bit more. If you are going to ask the audience to believe in werewolves and magical women with technicolor hair, you have to ground the story in reality, in my opinion. Since this is not a complete fantasy, but has ties to a real historical setting, you must pay attention to the detail you provide.

Let’s run this down.

Format: You could have had a flawless victory. It wasn’t the header that did you in, it was the lack of page breaks. Learn how to put them in, and not just in words. Your writing program is nothing more than a tool. Learn to use it. Also, as I said before, learn to put in the header, too.

Panel Descriptions: Terrible. The main reason are the run-on sentences. They aren’t just killing me, they’re killing you, too. They’re almost unreadable. Then, on top of being nearly unreadable, you then go for confusion, and then have other characters teleporting in at the very last few panels.

Not good.

As I said, go for simple sentences. No more than 15 words. I don’t care if the panel description balloons to outrageous proportions. Hopefully, they’ll be clear. If you go to 16 words, then you’ve failed, and I want you to go back and rework it to be able to get rid of that single word. Small sentences.

Pacing: Terrible. There’s no other word for it. Just terrible. You’re treating the scenes like you treat your panel descriptions—they’re run-ons. And just like your run-ons, they need some air in order to breathe.

You have too much crammed into the page, and because of that, your dramatic tale is suffering. Like I said, your first three pages have enough content for eight. Take into account your page turns. Let them help you tell your story.

Dialogue: You know, except for the “dubbing” aspect of this script, the dialogue wasn’t too terrible to read. There are just a few things to work on.

Of course, you have to work on the dubbing. That means you have to get rid of the anachronisms.

The other thing you have to do, which also makes it seem like it was dubbed, is the fact that there are times when characters seem to say things that don’t make a whole lot of sense, either in context of the conversation, or in context of what’s going on in the panel. That has to be fixed. You don’t want to turn the reader off by having them not understand what it is you’re trying to have your characters say.

Finally, I see you tried out a couple of things here, such as the whisper. I definitely applaud the effort. I like it. Now, you have to work on your timing just a bit more. Used at slightly better times, you could have gotten more out of them. I definitely applaud the effort, though.

Content: As a reader, I wouldn’t have been intrigued enough to pick this up. Not unless it had a killer cover. For as dense as the actions are, I’m still not getting a sense of story. Here is what I know as a reader: some guy turns into a werewolf. Why? Don’t really know. An answer was attempted, but not solidly given. So, after five pages, I really don’t know what the story is about, and there isn’t enough here to keep my interest to continue reading.

Editorially, this needs a complete rewrite.

The panel descriptions need to be sensible, the drama needs to be increased tenfold, the anachronisms need to be cut, the pacing needs a complete overhaul. The only way to do this is a complete rewrite. I really suggest hiring an editor to help. That’s the best way to learn.

And that’s it 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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