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TPG Week 147: When Scripts & Logic Take Differing Paths

| October 19, 2013

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Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week’s Brave One is no stranger here: we have Justin Martin! We have Samantha LeBas turning heads in purple, I’m in the blushing red, and let’s see how Justin does with an untitled piece (A word of warning: it is not good.).

Page Outline & Script

 

Page 1

 

Panel 1

 

Full shot of their homeland. (Full shot of their homeland is a little wonky, consider: wide shot of landscape? Tech note: Make sure you activate your hyperlinks, as they are now the have to be copied and pasted, from the notes. Not a bad idea to just make the word itself a link instead of placing the link in notes.) (There are links here that are out to the side of the document. I’m not going to put them in for people to follow. Just be aware of Sam’s note. I’ll rain fire on it soon, though.)

 

Caption: Ten years ago.

 

Caption (Lucas): As children, we didn’t have a care in the world…

 

Caption (Lucas): …and neither did anyone else in our homeland.

 

Panel 2

 

Medium wide shot of their castle.

 

Caption (Lucas): Now(comma) don’t get me wrong…

 

Caption (Lucas): …we had our share of troubles(comma) from time to time.(change period to comma, lowercase on ‘but’) But thanks to our parents…

 

Panel 3

 

Wide shot of Reuben (father) directing water towards a burning house and Naomi (mother) using wind and air manipulation to prevent the debris and falling parts of the house from hitting nearby citizens. (Where are they? In a village? Can we see the castle? How many people are in this scene)

 

Caption (Lucas): …those troubles never lasted.

 

Caption (Lucas): Our parents possessed amazing powers, and only using used them for selfless reasons.

 

Caption (Lucas): The only thing more exciting than watching them in action…

 

Panel 4

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas (age 17) and Asher (age 15) challenging each other playfully. Lucas is rising(raising) up small mountains around of Asher, and Asher is blasting them with his energy beams.(What does Lucas do to create mountains? Point, gesture, etc? And as for Asher, the beams originate from..? His hands? Eyes? …Nose? And where are they? The castle grounds, or just outside? The village?)

 

Caption (Lucas): …was knowing that when we were old enough, we would join them.

 

Lucas: Give it up little bro(you could name Asher here), you’ll never beat me!

 

Asher: Oh yeah? You’ll see!

 

(Not bad, you’ve established setting, character, abilities and relationships. Not stellar either; you’re missing conflict and intrigue, key components for making people want to turn the page. I am not saying I’d put this back on the shelf, just yet, but you could put a little lipstick on it… make it more presentable. Also, no one has a name yet, but we know how they fit together in a family, so, that works for now.)

 

We have P1 down! Don’t you feel better now?

 

And what do we have for P1? I’m not going to call it crap, but I’m definitely going to call it lazy.

 

Instead of a true establishing shot, Justin, you have a link. That link isn’t going to do the artist any good, because they can only do a riff off it. If it’s an actual place (a real picture in the link), then you’re promoting copyright infringement if they redraw it wholesale. Marvel got in trouble for this over drawings of Magneto during House of M. If the link isn’t a real picture but is instead a drawing, then unless you have the artist that actually did the drawing, the artist on this story is stealing/swiping, and that’s not fun, either.

 

One way or the other, your links are promoting stealing. Don’t do that. There’s enough of that going on in the world without the writer lazily perpetuating the practice because they didn’t want to type out a few words.

 

And that was just the first panel. The laziness continues for the rest of the page. This is disappoiting, to tell the truth. I thought you were past being damned lazy.

 

An establishing shot should tell us Where things are happening, When (time of day) things are happening, Who is in the shot and What they are doing. It can be over several panels (usually two, if you’re stretching it out). What’s missing here? Possibly a camera angle (I didn’t check the links), but definitely a time of day.

 

Then, getting in closer to the house on fire, Sam is very right in stating you don’t say where this house is located. That’s because you were lazy with the writing, putting in links instead of actually doing the work. (This is me, giving you the benefit of the doubt in that you’d have put in the necessary information had you actually written out the panel descriptions.)

 

Here’s the thing, folks: you have to tell the artists what you’re seeing, but still allow them the freedom to add their own stamp to the work. If your characters are shooting beams out of their ass, say so. However, I can say that the as-yet unnamed boy is shooting beams out his ass, and cannot be gainsaid because there’s nothing in the panel description that says otherwise. Whose fault is that? If the artist were to do something such as make the beam come out of the boy’s nose (thanks, Sam!), you’d have no one to blame but yourself for not being specific.

 

As for not naming the character when you had the chance… I’m only slightly torn. Putting the name there is slightly awkward, because it would be a little forced, but not putting the name there is passing an opportunity for the audience to become more involved.

 

As a first page, this is decent. Lazy, but decent. Let’s see if the laziness continues.

 

Page 2

 

Panel 1

 

Medium wide shot of three large scavengers leaving an area where they’ve just raided the houses for food and children. Two of the scavengers are carrying food, and the other scavenger is carrying four children, two on each arm.(You should give more detail about the setting. Have they destroyed the village, or is it intact? Are there bodies lying about? Was there a scuffle?)

 

Caption (Lucas): One day, a local area(vague, maybe ‘village’ instead of ‘area’?) was attacked by scavengers.

 

Panel 2

 

Medium shot of Reuben and Naomi talking to a sad Lucas and Asher.(Where are they? You can only drop setting notes if you have established where the scene takes place.)

 

Caption (Lucas): We begged our parents to let us help, but they wouldn’t budge.

 

Naomi: You are not to leave this castle.

 

Reuben: Are we clear?

 

Lucas: Yeah.(language seems very informal, given the setting and the fact that they are an elite family.)

 

Asher: Yeah.

 

Panel 3

 

Medium wide shot of Reuben and Naomi confronting the scavengers.(OH, COME ON. This is too vague, and you know it! Where does this happen, how many scavengers, what time of day, are weapons drawn? **Panel description math: questions > answers = – good.**)

 

Reuben: So(comma) you like attacking those who can’t fight back, huh? Well, why don’t you try pushing us around? (This dialogue? The high-end of “not good.”)

 

Panel 4

 

Full shot of Reuben trapping one scavenger in a circle of fire, and blasting another with water (Why does he have water and fire powers? How is he doing both at the same time?). Naomi is spinning the third scavenger in a whirlwind. (Honestly, I’m getting an Avatar: The Last Airbender vibe here. I didn’t watch the anime, and the movie gave me nightmares.)

 

Caption (Lucas): Like the other times, we went back to playing, waiting for them to return.

 

Reuben: How are you(comma) honey?

 

Naomi: Just fine, dear. You?

 

Reuben: Another walk in the park.

 

Caption (Lucas): But this time was different.

 

Panel 5

 

Medium wide shot of Reuben and Naomi fighting side by side, looking surprised.(Another vague panel)

 

Caption (Lucas): Fighting off scavengers was nothing new…

 

Caption (Lucas): …but fighting scavengers who could dampen powers was.

 

Caption (Lucas): And by(capitalize) the time they realized what they were up against…

 

Naomi: Honey? Uh, this walk in the park just got a little more challenging.

 

Reuben: Yeah, my powers have weakened too. We just need to figure out a way to—

(How does he know her powers have weakened? This seems a little heavy-handed. The cap already told us what was happening. Also, way too many words in this panel.)

Panel 6

 

Medium shot of Naomi getting hit with a fatal blast (A blast of what? Scavengers blast?), and Reuben watching in shock and in fear for her life.

 

Reuben (shouting): NAOMI!

 

Caption (Lucas): …it was too late.

 

Panel 7

 

Medium shot of Lucas and Asher looking at Reuben crying as he returns with tears in his eyes and holding Naomi in his arms.(Where is the camera, where are the characters for that matter? The setting change should come after a page turn, or at least after a page break.)

 

Caption: Later that day.(You don’t need this cap.)

 

Asher: What’s wrong with mom(capitalize)? (Hopefully, the capital won’t matter. Hopefully, the letterer will use an all-caps font. Hopefully, the dialogue will get better on a second pass so we won’t have to worry about it.)

 

Lucas: Dad?

 

(You have now changed scene locations four times on one page, the first one might be considered a kind of flashback… so maybe… but in panel 3, you’ve just jumped. Then you drop in a caption and jump again in the final panel. Why do you need to show the parents telling the kids they can’t come? That panel seems out of place, and slows the action.

 

How do they know about the attack? How do they get to the scavengers? You’re jumping around a lot. You never clearly establish where the action is taking place, or what the action should look like. If you say something like ‘Bob is eating a sandwich,’ in a panel description, you can assume an artist will know what that looks like. However, if you say ‘Bob is capturing a scavenger in a circle of fire and blasting another with water,’ you are going to have to help your team out by giving a little more information.)

 

 

P2, and the laziness continues!

 

The panel descriptions are so vague as to be almost useless. That’s never a good thing, Justin. I mean, that’s just terrible, and it shouldn’t be.

 

Let’s talk about the dialogue, though.

 

First, there are seven panels on this page. Panel 5 has about 50 words in it. Part of the saving grace for that panel is that most of the dialogue there comes in the form of captions. The thing that doesn’t save you, though, are the word balloons.

 

Remember, folks, word balloons take up more space than captions. They’re round, where captions are rectangular. They need more negative space than a caption. And the more words you have in a single balloon, the bigger the balloon itself is.

 

Can this panel comfortably hold that many words? No. Not on a seven-panel page. Maybe a six-panel page, but not with seven.

 

However, this really is a six-panel page. That panel of telling the kids to stay in the castle? That panel is totally unnecessary. I know you’re trying to get some foreshadowing in there, but really, that panel is padding.

 

However, we were talking about the dialogue. Let’s really talk about it.

 

First, it’s anachronistic. The characters are very modern sounding, and thus, I’m being taken out of the story with it. (Again, the Avatar vibe. Remember that anime is translated, so even though Avatar takes place in a timeless past, it is still translated from the original language into modern English. It doesn’t go over as well in comics.)

 

On top of that, the dialogue is just bad. The anachronistic nature of it is only a small portion of it. The spoken dialogue (not in captions) isn’t my idea of a good time at all. It needs to be torn out and rewritten from scratch. It is not helping the cause of telling the story. It’s melodramatic and ham-fisted, which is not a good combination.

 

From a storytelling perspective, there are different, better ways to tell this. I’m not seeing the need to start back as far as you did. You could have started later, at a more interesting point, and swung back around to this if necessary. It’s P2, and I’m bored, because I’ve seen this all before. Parent(s) die, kid(s) swear vengeance, goes on quest to find his revenge, yadda yadda. Let’s see if I’m right.

 

Page 3

 

Panel 1

 

Medium overhead shot of Reuben, Asher, and Lucas standing over their mother’s gravestone. Reuben is standing in the middle, with one arm holding Asher and Lucas on each side. The gravestone reads:

 

Naomi

A mother and hero to all.”(Yeah, panel 7 from the previous page definitely goes on this page.)

 

Caption (Lucas): With our mother gone(comma) and our father getting ill shortly after, I needed Asher to get through this(comma, suggest separate balloons) just as much as he needed me.(With the next line, this one reads a little wonky. It may be the tense, maybe ‘I would need Asher as much…’ or the order, ‘Asher needed me as much…’ might read a little more smoothly.)

 

Panel 2

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas watching as Asher is asking Reuben for his blessing to leave and establish a life on his own. Asher is in Reuben’s room as Reuben’s lying in his bed ill, and Lucas is watching from the door.

 

Caption (Lucas): Or at(capitalize) least(comma) I thought he did.(Another option for smoothing the dialogue: change ‘did’ to ‘needed me’)

 

Asher: I know I’m not of age yet, but I really feel it’s the best thing for me right now.

 

Asher: Plus, Lucas was always the dependable one, so you know he’ll keep things in order. So(comma) do I have your blessing? (Dr. Mindbender! That’s what this dialogue is like. Where are the Joe’s? I need rescuing!)

 

Reuben: While I disagree with your decision, I don’t have the energy to argue.

 

Reuben: So(comma) yes, you are free to leave and establish a life on your own.

 

Panel 3

 

Close-up of Asher and Reuben standing right outside their home. Asher is hugging Reuben.

 

Asher: Love you(comma) father (capitalize when using in place of a name).

 

Reuben: Love you too, son.(This casual language is throwing me off, it seems too modern given your setting.)(And people probably thought I was crazy just a page ago…)

 

Panel 4

 

Medium shot of Lucas watching Asher leave. He looks a little angry.(Where is he in relationship to Rueben and Asher?)

 

Asher (OP): Love you(comma) bro.

 

Lucas (Whisper): Yeah, same here…(Is he remembering this or is it happening in this panel? You don’t mention that Lucas is close to Asher and Rueben, why not show Asher here? I have read it as him standing alone, remembering the conversation, and as him talking to Asher in this panel. Either makes sense, I guess, but clear up your intent.)

 

Caption (Lucas): And just like that, everything fell on me.

 

Panel 5

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas picking up weeds from the field in the backyard(This is a jarring switch, I thought they were royalty. They don’t have servants? Why is he doing all this manual labor?).

 

Caption (Lucas): But Asher was right about one thing. I am (was) dependable, so I immediately got to work…

 

Panel 6

 

Medium shot of Lucas building a shed.(Very minimal.)

 

Caption (Lucas): …and for years(comma) things were manageable.

 

(You establish a conflict between the family and the scavengers and then drop it completely. Do the scavengers just go away after the encounter? Why is he weeding and building sheds? Shouldn’t he be throwing earth mounds at bad guys? Who is protecting the village now? Also, you introduce super scavengers who make them lose their powers, and kill their mother and no one investigates that, for years? It seems that, mayhap something is rotten in Denmark.)

 

P3, and we’re still lazy and we’re still burdened with bad dialogue.

 

Okay, so there’s no swearing of vengeance yet. Really, there’s no nothing. What we have here, as Sam said, is a total drop of the storylines that were being set up.

 

Mom’s dead. Not even the father caress that much. What happened to the super-Sayans… Sorry, the super-scavengers? They’re still out and about, roaming vague areas at will, with no one to oppose them.

 

If the characters don’t care, why should the readers? The entire point of telling a story is to invest a reader in something. The first investiture has to come from the characters. As soon as they care, the reader cares. It’s like night following the day. It just happens.

 

I sold cars for about a month. I learned a new skill. Car selling is about two things: leading the customer to the correct car that fits their needs and wants, as well as overcoming their objections. It’s all psychological. All the questions a car salesman asks (aside from how are you and talk about the weather or sports scores) is about the car. It’s called pre-qualifying. They want to know what you need and want so that they can land you on the best car that fits you.

 

What you’re doing here, Justin, is not satisfying the needs and wants of anyone besides you. The artist needs and wants the necessary information to do their job. The panel descriptions on this page are mostly useless. The audience needs and wants to care about the story, and that happens through dialogue. The dialogue here is anachronistic, and tells the reader that the characters don’t care what happened.

 

It’s P3, and there’s no reason for anyone to go any further. Mom’s dead, dad doesn’t care, one brother stays in a castle with his father while the other goes to seek his fortune. There’s some resentment there, which is understandable, but the story could be ended right there. What reason is given for the reader to turn the page? There’s no intrigue.

 

Worse, there’s no story.

 

Page 4

 

Panel 1

 

Caption: One year ago (This? This just lost you a Flawless Victory on format.).

 

Close-up of Reuben in the bathroom looking in a mirror and coughing up blood.(I thought this was feudal Europe-ish. What type of bathroom is this? Also, is he looking at the mirror or facing it? Most people look down when they cough.)

 

Caption (Lucas): Then one day, father’s(capitalize when used as a name) illness took a turn for the worse.

 

Reuben (SFX): CCCUUHHHHHHH! (This isn’t a sound effect. It’s dialogue.)

 

Panel 2

 

Medium shot of a worried Lucas in the bathroom catching Reuben, preventing him from falling. (Teleportation!)

 

Lucas: Father(comma) what’s wrong?

 

Reuben: I’ll be(consider changing ‘I am’) fine.

 

Lucas: You call this fine?

 

Panel 3

 

Medium shot of Lucas standing over Reuben in his bed. Reuben’s condition has worsened. (See this panel description? See the dialogue? Notice how no one is acting? They’re just standing around. If I wanted to be really terrible, I could say that the unnamed boy (no one has said his name yet) is actually standing in the father’s bed. Clarity is difficult to achieve when laziness rules the day.)

 

Caption (Lucas): Once my father told me the truth about his condition, I believed Asher would return so he wouldn’t have to spend his last days alone.(Is he alone? Isn’t Lucas there? How would Asher know?)

 

Lucas: Dying? How long have you known?(I’ve known for about a page now… Instead of trying to make this work as a reveal, try having him say something that shows that his father was never quite the same, but hid the extent of his illness for years.)

 

Reuben: For a while…

 

Lucas: And you chose not to tell me?

 

Panel 4

 

Close-up on a framed picture of Lucas and Asher on Reuben’s nightstand. (A photograph wouldn’t make sense in this setting, if it is a portrait note that.)

 

Caption (Lucas): But he never did.

 

Reuben (Op): …you had a lot on your plate(comma) with taking care of things around here and–

 

Panel 5

 

Medium shot of Lucas throwing that picture to the ground and the picture breaking.(Is Rueben in this panel? What is his expression like?)

 

Lucas: –Things Asher should’ve been helping with!

 

Panel 6

 

Close-up of a worried Reuben.

 

Reuben: Oh(comma) son…

 

Reuben: You have to let that bitterness go(comma) or it’ll consume you. Promise me you won’t harden your heart towards your brother.

 

Panel 7

 

Close-up of Lucas looking slightly angry, but also attentive.(Angry but attentive, I am trying to picture it. Is there a clearer way to describe his expression, sulking, maybe? It’s a little hard to imagine how this should look.)

 

Caption (Lucas): And I hated him for it.(There’s a lot of dialogue between this line and the last cap, you may want to flesh out this sentence more so that the meaning comes through more readily.)

 

Reuben (OP): Promise me.

 

Lucas: I…I promise.

 

(With the exception of the reveal of his father’s illness, I think this page is fairly functional in regard to pacing.)

 

P4, and no one cares anymore.

 

We stopped caring last page. This page? Nothing happens to move the story forward (Sorry, Sam.).

 

Here’s what we already knew from the previous page: the father was dying, and that one boy (still unnamed) resents his brother for leaving. Aside from father telling son about the illness, what has really changed? How has the story progressed? What has the reader learned? Not one blessed thing.

 

Your anachronisms are piling up. It’s no longer in the dialogue, it’s crept into the panel descriptions. Pictures and bathrooms with mirrors… Like Sam, I thought this was feudal Europe in the type of setting. Sure, with earth powers, anyone can raise a castle, but to actually run it? Where are all the people? If they have powers and others don’t, where are the servants? If defending the “areas” from scavengers is their job (in fealty to some king or lord), then why hasn’t the boy taken his mother’s place? You started out with the parents putting out a fire, so why hasn’t the boy joined his father in helping out in the “areas”?

 

This is just bad storytelling all around, Justin. All of that information could have been given or shown, but instead, you chose to bore the audience with a reveal of what they already knew and a temper tantrum.

 

Besides something being rotten in Denmark, I’m also smelling elderberries. This entire page is padding. (Truth be told, I’m thinking that this entire beginning is padding, and that you should have opened with a different scene.)

 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m still waiting for the story to begin.

 

And the dialogue! I haven’t read anything this not-good in recent memory. (Luckily, I have a short memory, otherwise I’d never be able to sleep.) I’m treating all the dialogue as placeholders until we get to actual story. Then we’ll see what it has to say for itself. Right now, though, it’s turning heads, and not in a good way.

 

Page 5

 

Panel 1

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas standing and looking at Reuben’s gravestone, which is right next to Naomi’s. Reuben’s headstone reads,

 

Reuben

Father. Leader. Inspirer.” (Your notes would be fine in this description, why are you putting it outside of the main document?) (“Inspirer”? My head just ‘sploded.)

 

Caption (Lucas): That lie was the last thing I would say to(consider ‘tell’ instead, we don’t ‘say lies’ we ‘tell lies’) my father.

 

Panel 2

 

Close-up of Lucas sitting on a rock, angry and teary-eyed.

 

Caption (Lucas): But instead of focusing on how I could honor his life…

 

Panel 3

 

Extreme full shot of Lucas using his power to erupt the ground from around him, causing massive unevenness in the ground around him.

 

Caption (Lucas): …all I could think about was destroying my brother’s. (And now the vengeance comes. Misplaced, but it’s here.)

 

Lucas: THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU AND YOUR SELFISHNESS DID THIS!(If you want this to be italicized, underline don’t put in all caps. How exactly is Asher responsible?)

 

Panel 4

 

Medium wide shot of an angry Lucas walking purposefully, in an effort to find Asher(Where is he? Does he have anything with him? Is this a day trip or a long journey that he is planning?).

 

Caption (Lucas): Amidst all of the uncertainty I was facing, one thing was clear…

 

Caption (Lucas): …it was time to find Asher, and make him pay for turning his back on us.

 

(I don’t see the line of reasoning here, it’s not like his dad died because Asher left. His father seemed okay with Asher taking off, it’s not as though letting him go broke his heart. So, Lucas is angry because… he had more chores? You need to develop the reasons for his anger more. Maybe they’re starving because Asher isn’t there to help bring in the crops, maybe his father gives Asher money to set out, and now their destitute. Some cause/effect relationship should paint Asher as more directly responsible. You are making your lead seem a little crazy here. If anything he should be angry with the scavengers that magically disappeared.)

 

P5, and really, the only reason I’m continuing is because Sam put in a lot of work here. Otherwise, I’d be stopping. This is a train wreck that I can easily turn away from.

 

Sam said it very effectively here: your still-unnamed character is crazy. The brothers were close, a parent dies, one brother leaves, the other parent dies, and now the one who stayed home is going to destroy his brother because…why again?

 

Sense, like interest, has fled this story.

 

What you want to do is tell a story of brother against brother, but you have no inciting incident for the cause of it. You want the brother who stayed to be sympathetic, but you haven’t painted him that way. You made him crazy. And not Elmer Fudd crazy when he can’t get the wascally wabbit, I mean disassociated from reality crazy, where people are talking to the air, try to catch butterflies with their toes, and scream bloody murder if they see the color yellow.

 

There is so much wrong here that I really don’t know where to begin. I mean, I could write more about what’s wrong than you have script, and it would be vastly more entertaining and make more sense than the “story” here, but I won’t. What I’m going to do is circle back around to the panel descriptions.

 

That last panel is a perfect example of useless. Here’s the sense you give: the boy (young man?) has just left the grave site, and is now striding away to find his brother. Where’s he going? To find his brother. He’s going to do it right now. He’s not going to the castle, he’s not going to close up shop, he’s not going to prepare anything, he’s not taking anything with him. He’s leaving right now, even though he has no clue at all as to where he’s going. Asher is over there, and so that’s where he’s going to go, too. (I guess he’s going to find him through the psychic link. What psychic link? I don’t know, either.)

 

Okay, so he’s walking off somewhere. Where is he now? What are the surroundings for the artist to draw? What can be seen around him or in the background? He’s just pissed and walking.

 

Time to talk about me. This is personal and true life. Settle in.

 

I was in high school, coming home from a track meet. My track coach was driving a bus, and he let me off at a corner near my house. I could walk the rest of the way home (I jogged, instead).

 

It was a gray day. It was nice, though. Not cool. As I jogged the short block, I noticed that there were a lot of cars I recognized on the street: aunts and uncles were there. (I come from a large family on both sides.) I walked up the long driveway, passing cars, and walked into the house. My breathing was even, despite the jog. I saw my aunts and uncles, and they were looking sad. I wanted to see my grandmother, who was living with us. She was sick. Colon cancer.

 

I had wanted to stay home that day, because she had had a tough, painful night. My mother made me go to school, and told me to run at the meet. I said fine. I came in third, getting a bronze medal. I wanted to show my grandmother. She was proud of things like that.

 

She was gone. She had passed away while I was in school.

 

I was pissed. I was hurt. I wanted to hurt things. Instead, I ran. I ran out the house and down the block, going to a secret place where I could be alone. My cousin followed me, trying his best to keep up. (He wasn’t as in shape as I was, but he knew where I was headed.) I went to my secret place, a slightly wooded area near a water tower, and I climbed my favorite tree, and I just sat there and cried. My cousin found me, climbed the tree next to mine, and just stayed with me, not saying anything. We stayed there for a couple of hours, and took the shortcut back home.

 

Why did I tell that personal story?

 

At no point in time were you ever in a white void. You knew exactly where I was at all times: in a bus, a car-filled street, the house, back on the street, in a wooded area, up a tree. Did I give exact locations and descriptions? No. But each of you had a vision, and that was all that was necessary to place me within the scene.

 

That, and I feel that the story was more interesting than what’s happening in this script.

 

Page 6

 

Panel 1

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas asking a reverend outside of his church if he’s seen Asher, and showing him Asher’s picture.

 

Caption (Lucas): The most recent picture I had of him was 10 years ago(old), but I figured it was better than nothing.

 

Reverend: Sorry(comma) son, I haven’t, but I pray you find him.

 

Panel 2

 

Medium shot of Lucas on a farm, showing a woman Asher’s picture and asking her if he’s seen him.(An old woman, a young woman, a fat woman, a skinny woman… ? You need more description.)

 

Caption (Lucas): I looked everywhere (that) I figured he might’ve settled…

 

Woman:No(comma) I haven’t seen him, sorry.

 

Panel 3

 

Medium shot of Lucas along a road, showing a man Asher’s picture and asking him if he’s seen him. (Again, this is very vague.)

 

Caption (Lucas):…but everywhere I went, I came up short.

 

Lucas: Are you sure? Look again!

 

Man: I’m sorry(comma) sir(capitalize), but I haven’t seen him.

 

Panel 4

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas in a rural area walking with three kids who recognize the name. (When did he say the name? Consider: moving the last interaction [with the man on the road] to this setting, show the kids running by, have him say ‘Asher’ in that dialogue. You have to connect these panels, or this makes no sense)

 

Caption (Lucas): But right(capitalize) when (suggest something like ‘just as’ in place of the very colloquial ‘right when’) I was about to head back, I lucked out.

 

Boy (age 12): Hey mister(capitalize), you’re looking for Asher?

 

Lucas: Yeah, you know where he is?

 

Girl (age 11): No, but a few days ago he brought us some food(comma) and said goodbye. He said it was time he returned home and set things right.

 

Lucas: Ok(ay) (comma) thanks.

 

Caption (Lucas): Set things right huh? We’ll see about that… (Nope, I don’t like this switch one bit. We go from narrative captions to reactive thought here. You can preserve the intent, by saying something like ‘I doubted that was true.’ Use the captions for one purpose, otherwise they become confusing.)

 

Panel 5

 

Medium wide shot of a tired Lucas walking.

 

Caption (Lucas): After all these years, now he decides to come home because “it was time.” (Tense is wrong, past tense would make this fit with the other captions.)

 

Caption (Lucas): Like always, it’s all about whathim.(You’ve been using narrative captions, stick with that.)

 

Panel 6

 

Medium shot of Lucas walking towards the castle, which is visible.

 

Caption (Lucas): Sorry little bro, but it’s not that easy.(You are abusing your caption privileges.)

 

Asher (OP): Brother!

 

Panel 7

 

Close-up of a happy Asher.

 

Asher: It’s so great to see you.

 

(Have you read the book, Are You My Mother? The searching sequence feels a little like that. Even my kid knows that the Snort is not the Baby Bird’s mother, and I feel certain he would know that no one has seen Asher. It’s repetitive, and serves little purpose. Consider eliminating dialogue from those panels, you’ll accomplish the same thing using only the captions. In fact you could get rid of it all together. Asher shows up at the castle without provocation, why not just start from there?

 

Now, hold on a moment as I dust off my soapbox… okay. Now, the captions, we have to talk about those. Until this page the captions have been there not because Lucas has been reacting to what is happening on panel, but because he has been telling us [or someone within the narrative whom we are yet to meet] a story, yes? We have had no access to his thoughts. Suddenly, this changes. It’s lazy storytelling. Either make the thought captions fit with the others, using the same tense and idea of remove, or show us what is happening to him internally without telling us. You can’t just abandon your structure when it’s convenient. Consistency is one of your chief responsibilities as a writer, it’s part of your craft. Be aware of the devices you are using, and why you are using them, then stick to your guns.)

 

When you don’t know what to say, it’s hard to really begin.

 

I know what to say. It’s harsh, but I have rarely shied away from that.

 

This, Justin, is crap.

 

I’m going to go over it in full when I do the rundown, but I have to say this: unless this is an early script, you’ve moved backwards in your scriptwriting abilities. I’m hoping that this is an early script, because if this is a recent example of your scripting…damn.

 

I know you think differently, but I’m still waiting for the story to start. I want to know why: why do you think this is interesting? What is the point of this? It’s six pages, but the things that would be interesting are not followed up on (nothing is really followed up on), and the things that aren’t interesting are given a very weird life.

 

No one cares.

 

This page isn’t padding, for what it is. Sam is right in saying that there shouldn’t be much if any spoken dialogue, but since you give it, let’s look at just how damned ludicrous the actions are.

 

Boy leaves home, right? He leaves home, but doesn’t leave town? What’s the point of leaving home to make his own life if he doesn’t leave the town? Why do I say that he doesn’t leave town? Because that’s the way it seems. It seems like the still-unnamed brother goes walkabout to find his brother, trying every place he can think of, and it all seems to happen within a day. There’s no sense of temporal movement beyond that one day. He goes asking about, finds some info, and then goes home. He doesn’t even have time to get hungry.

 

What sense does that make? What son goes and lives in town, and doesn’t return home to see how things are going for ten years?

 

Living in town for so long, how is it that he’s so difficult to find? Everyone should have known where he is.

 

And then the kids… Why do the kids know him, and know that he’s going back home? How does it come about that he’s taking care of kids? They’re not his, because they’re too old.

 

The level of bad storytelling here is dizzying, Justin. I am severely hoping that this is an earlier script.

 

Page 7

 

Panel 1

 

Medium wide shot of Asher facing Lucas. (None of these people are acting. None of them. Mannequins are at least posed.)

 

Asher: It’s been so long(comma) I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just get right to it.

 

Asher: After mom(capitalize, used as name) things were real rough, and I just felt that by going out on my own for a while I could–

 

Lucas: –Don’t you dare talk about mom(capitalize) and how tough things were! You lost that privilege when you abandoned us.

 

Asher: I know I was wrong. That’s why I’ve come back…to ask you and father(capitalize) for forgiveness. Is he home? (That sound we all just heard was my head ‘sploding again. We’ll find out why soon, unless some of you or Sam have already reasoned it.)

 

Panel 2

 

Medium shot of a surprised Asher as he notices that Lucas is about to attack him.(What is Lucas doing that lets Asher know he is about to attack, how can we understand this visually?)

 

Asher: What are you doing?

 

Lucas: What I’ve wanted to do(comma) for ten years. (No comma is necessary here.)

 

Panel 3

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas directing rocks towards Asher and hitting him.

 

Asher: Uuuugggghhhhhhhhh!

 

Lucas: You want forgiveness!? For things to go back to normal!?(suggest changing to: ‘You want things to go…’)

 

Panel 4

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas standing over an injured Asher, who’s on the ground.

 

Asher (whisper): Uuggghhhh…what’s gotten into you(comma) Lucas? AndWhere’s father(capitalize)?

 

Lucas: Now you’re concerned about our father? Well you’re too late(comma) brother(capitalize)

 

Panel 5

 

Close-up of an angry Lucas.

 

Lucas: …because he’s dead.

 

(All right, things are looking up. We have a setting. We have action. We have character development. We have misplaced anger hitting a boiling point. Okay. Let’s keep this going! Other than not having the foggiest idea what it should look like when the brothers use their powers, and dropping the narrative captions for no apparent reason, this page is your strongest yet.)

 

I think Sam went a little crazy here. This is what you did to her, Justin. (Don’t worry, Sam. I’ll be over soon with a bib.)

 

There’s still no setting. I have no idea as to where we are. Here’s where my head ‘splodes.

 

On the previous page, we see the as-yet unnamed son searching for his brother, and then heading back to the castle. On his way to the castle, his brother comes out of the white void to surprise him.

 

Where are we? Damned if I know. We can see the castle in the background, but where are the combatants? No bloomin’ idea.

 

Now, if the still-unnamed son was out searching for his brother, and then runs across some kids who said he was headed back home, how is it that he beats Asher back? Let’s put it in terms of miles and time.

 

Let’s say that the town is ten miles away, and that Asher left to go back at noon. Let’s say that the unnamed brother runs across the kids at two pm. This gives the kids enough time to eat and go about the business of being kids and doing some traveling. With a two hour head start, how is it that the brother catches up to Asher? It’s only 10 miles, and he’s been walking all day. There’s no way that he should have caught him.

 

Now, with that being the case, how is it that Asher doesn’t make it to the castle to check on his father? Why is it that he’s stopped, his destination in sight? See why my head has ‘sploded?

 

None of it makes sense.

 

None of the characters are acting. They’re just standing around, flinging dialogue at each other. And then, of course, we have the change in tone of the captions on the previous page, to a total abandonment of them on this one.

 

Terrible.

 

The only saving grace is that we now have both names of the brothers in a place where the reader can see it. That’s a grain of sugar in an ocean of salt.

 

Page 8

 

Panel 1

 

Close-up of a surprised and saddened Asher.

 

Asher: What? How?(Rueben was ill before Asher left, seems like ‘when’ is a more logical question.) (Or, you could just add the “when.”)

 

Panel 2

 

Medium side-view shot of Asher still on the ground with Lucas standing over him. (He’s standing over him and pissing in his face. Someone, anyone, tell me why he isn’t. Not just why he isn’t, but tell me how you inferred that from the panel description.)

 

Lucas: After you abandoned us, he got worse.

 

Lucas: And you know what? Even as his body started to deteriorate, he never once regretted giving you his blessing to leave. He loved you that much. (None of that was ever shown.)

 

Panel 3

 

Close-up of a slightly angry Asher charging up his power, with his eyes turning into energy.

 

Lucas (OP): And how(capitalize) did you repay him? By not paying him one visit…not one(once?) check-in(checking in? Not sure this could be a regionalism that I don’t know.) to see how he’s(change to he was) doing.

 

Asher: That’s it…

 

Panel 4

 

Full shot of Asher hitting Lucas with a large energy blast, lifting Lucas off his feet.

 

Asher: How dare you put all of this on me!? If I knew(had known) his illness was serious I would’ve never left, and you know that.(seem like an exclamation mark is needed)(Seems like better dialogue is needed.)

 

Panel 5

 

Medium shot of Lucas slamming into the ground.

 

SFX: BBBBRRMMMM! (Le WHAT?! There’s a sound effect for him hitting the ground, but none for him being blasted?)

 

Asher: I admit I was wrong for not visiting or checking in on you guys, but I will not be blamed for his death. (Where’s Asher supposed to be in this panel that this dialogue isn’t OP?)

 

Panel 6

 

Medium shot of Asher standing over Lucas, who’s now on the ground.

 

Asher: It’s time to end this foolishness, brother(capitalize). Now(comma) can we talk?

 

(All right so Pops dwindled away on death’s door for 10 years with no medical intervention. That is enough to make me raise my eyebrows. Throw in the fact that the brothers both seem surprised that he died, and you have to wonder; was the illness that afflicted him ten years earlier even related to his death? Did he never get any better in the ten years Asher was away? If he was sick for ten years, why was Lucas surprised that he was dying? Could you shorten the time that Asher is gone, make the illness more acute? That might help. I am still having trouble connecting any element of the dad’s death to Asher’s absence. There is more story here, you need to find it.)

 

Sam has a strong constitution. She’s plowing on, so I will.

 

This is still just bad storytelling, with characters standing over each other (I think the only one who didn’t stand over someone in this piece is the mother—but we could fix that by zombifying her. That would make this more interesting.), but not doing anything as they do. Just a lot of standing.

 

Really, I no longer care. The only thing that’s right here is format and spelling. I’m counting my blessings, small as they are. Let’s see what else Sam has to say

 

Page 9

 

Panel 1

 

Medium shot of a smiling Lucas.

 

Lucas: Oh, we’re(I would change this to ‘we are’ so it pairs more directly with the previous line, maybe even emphasize ‘are’)talking brother…

 

Panel 2

 

Full shot of Asher being shot up in the air by a mountain Lucas caused to form from the ground beneath him. (Yep. A full mountain. What? I’m not being absurd. I’m doing what the artist would do: I’m working with what’s there.)

 

Lucas: It’s just that I’m speaking the loudest!

 

Panel 3

 

Medium wide shot of Asher landing on the ground safely, while hitting Lucas with an energy blast as Lucas runs towards him. (I won’t even ask how he’s landing safely after jumping down from a full mountain. Speaking of which, where did that mountain go? It teleported away.)

 

Asher: Poor Lucas, you still haven’t learned to tame that pride of yours(comma) have you?(Do you realize that this is the first time you have put this character’s name in a line of dialogue? We are on page 9. You have plenty of opportunities to name him earlier. He’s called ‘Son,’ ‘bro,’ ‘Mister,’ and ‘Sir,’ surely one of those can be changed to his name.) (He actually did it on P7. It’s a “blink and you miss it” kind of thing. I was actively looking for it, though.)

 

Asher: When did you succumb to it?

 

Panel 4

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas being pushed back by the blast, but he doesn’t fall. Instead he slides backwards on the ground.

 

Lucas: Forget your weak attempts to care(This is a fragment. Maybe something like, ‘Your attempts to care are weak.’ Or maybe have Lucas say something about Asher only offering words. This line needs work.). Actions speak louder than words… (Did anyone else’s stomach do a flip, or was that just me?)

 

Panel 5

 

Close-up of Lucas preparing to attack. (I have no idea what this looks like.)

 

Lucas: …and it’s because of those actions(comma) that I can’t forgive you.

 

Panel 6

 

Close-up of Asher preparing to attack. (I have no idea what this looks like, either.)

 

Asher: Alright then, have it your way. (Burger King!)

 

Panel 7

 

Full shot of both of them attacking each other, but neither of them are being hit. Asher’s energy blasts are being blocked by Lucas’ rocks & boulders and vice versa. The ground under Asher starts to separate.

 

Asher: If you won’t forgive me fine, because God already has. But you still have to stop this, because as angry as you feel(suggest changing ‘feel’ to ‘are’) right now, this isn’t you. (‘SPLODE!)

 

Lucas: Shut up and stop holding back! (Suggest separating balloons)I know you’re more powerful than this!

 

(This action reads well enough. The emotion is coming through. The pacing works, though showing only faces in three panels does slow things a little. All in all this is a fine page.)

It’s been a while since I told this story.

I was in the Marine Corps. Everyone knew that I loved comics. I’d go to the comic shop on my lunch and pick up that week’s haul, I worked part time at that same shop in return for comics and toys, and I was just getting the inkling to start writing my own comics.

One of the Marines that I worked with for a short time was a God-fearing man. He was what I call a rules lawyer: he was always trying to find a way around the rules, but was also a stickler for them. Very calm, unless he was extremely upset, and he was extremely upset whenever he didn’t get his way. One of the most annoying human beings I’ve ever met. Even the other religious people I knew didn’t like him, which is saying something.

One day, he brings me a gift. A comic! At the time, I was deeply into Marvel, had branched out to DC somewhat, and was branching into other things and looks because of my work at the comic shop. I say thank you, and I look at the comic, and say that I’ll read it that night.

The comic, on first glance, was badly drawn and colored. But it was a comic and a gift, so I took it home and read it.

Angels were battling demons, and a teenager was going to kill himself. His girlfriend didn’t want him to do it, and then God was mentioned right out of the blue.

I don’t mock anyone’s religion. I have problems with most people’s interpretations of most religions. I myself am a (bad) non-denominational pagan. Religion wasn’t big in my house. I went to a Roman Catholic middle school, and then a Roman Catholic high school before transferring back to public school for my last two years of schooling. I’ve exposed myself to different religions, because I don’t like being ignorant. I like to learn things for myself, not because someone told me to do it. I’ve even taken it upon myself to read the Bible from cover to cover (I just started, and am still in Genesis). So I don’t mock anyone’s religion. I may find fault with their logic or the logic of the interpretation, but I don’t mock it.

That being said, I don’t mock this.

I’m going to say one thing, though: God has no place here. It’s P9. God has no place here at all. The mention of god comes out of nowhere, and smacks the reader in the face, taking them completely out of the story.

If you want religion in the story, then it should have shown up on P1, or no later than P2. The parents teaching their children, or the narration making some mention of it. This way, there’s no slap to the face when god is mentioned. This, however, is terrible. It’s ham-fisted and lazy.

And it goes right over the Lucas’ head. He makes no mention of it at all. Doesn’t even think to sneer at it. It just doesn’t register, like a 1mph breeze.

The readers got it, though. If they made it this far.

Anyway, seven panels for this is too much. Four or five is better. Seven panels slows the action. You want to speed it up. More panels, slower action; fewer panels, speedier action.

 

Page 10

 

Panel 1

 

Caption (Lucas): I didn’t see it then, but I do now.

 

Full shot of he ground opening up more, and Asher falling through.

 

Asher: You have to stop this Lucas…you know how our powers work!(suggest separate balloons) If you do this, there’s no going back! (That’s a lot to be said for the action happening in the panel.)

 

Panel 2

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas closing the ground back up while Asher’s in between, smashing him in the torso/waist. (That’s control! If a body falls at 32 ft/second squared, the ground opening up and then closing fast enough to catch Asher at the waist is some deep control that we had no inkling Lucas was capable of. He was never seen practicing after his brother left.)

 

Asher: MMMUUMMPPPHHH! (This isn’t what someone who’s caught by the torso says. This is what someone says when their mouth is covered.)

 

Caption (Lucas): He wasn’t trying to save himself…

 

Panel 3

 

Close up of a surprised and contrite Lucas. (What does contrition look like?)

 

Caption (Lucas): …he was trying to save me.

 

Panel 4

 

Medium shot of Asher and Lucas talking. Asher’s face is badly damaged and bleeding. A desperate Lucas is on his knees facing Asher and trying to free him.

 

Lucas: I…I can’t move it! My powers…they’re gone! (Why?)

 

Asher (low voice/whisper): It’s alright(comma) Lucas…I forgive you.

 

Lucas: Stay with me(comma) Asher…please

 

Panel 5

 

Close-up of Lucas mourning for Asher after realizing what he’s done.

 

Lucas: No…God, what have I done…

 

Panel 6

 

Full overhead shot of Lucas yelling, sitting on his knees next to Asher. (Like Shatner at the end of Star Trek II, right?)

 

Lucas: …WHAT HAVE I DONE!!!!? (Done, said in the right way, sounds a lot like Khan, doesn’t it?)

(All right, I like the idea that he regrets what he did, and that he loses his powers and his opportunity to save his brother in the same instant. That’s strong. That’s emotionally resonant, and tragic, good. Now, the bad news: you have accidentally made this moment less powerful than it could be. Earlier, you establish that the scavengers dampen the parents’ powers. Here, Lucas loses his powers. The effects are similar, but the causes are different. This makes the rules of this world more difficult to understand. I suggest either cutting the scavengers’ ability to dampen powers, and having some kind of a freak accident take out the mom, or having their powers weaken due to reasons similar to those that cause Lucas’ to go away. You should use that similar event to foreshadow this big moment. Right now, it almost contradicts it. You’re building this world, make it’s mythos work for you.)

Bad storytelling.

Sam said it best, so I won’t go into it further.

And this is where Sam stops. Since there’s only two more pages to go, I’ll finish it and then run it down. Usually, the page limit here is ten, but I’m sure there’s more to learn.

This also means I have my fourth wind. My second and third winds were used a while ago.

 

Page 11

 

Panel 1

 

Caption: Now. (Another reason to lose the Flawless Victory.)

 

Medium shot of a family picture with Naomi, Reuben, Lucas, and Asher. They are all smiling. It’s the last picture they took together as a family 11 years ago. They all look how they did at the beginning of the story.

 

Caption (Lucas): “If you do this, there’s no going back.”

 

Caption (Lucas): Those words have haunted me…tormented me everyday since (What happened to the ending punctuation here?)

 

Caption (Lucas): …since I killed my brother.

 

Panel 2

 

Medium wide shot of Lucas carrying a bag on his back, leaving his parents’ house. (It’s not a house, it’s a castle. And you see that bag on his back? That’s more than he took with him when he went to search for his brother, giving more reason for us to think the boy was living in town. Lucas didn’t have to travel far.)

 

Caption (Lucas): So much so, the best chance I had of having some semblance of a life, was leaving and trying to start over.

 

Panel 3

 

Full frontal shot of Lucas walking along a dirt road. (This, I’m sad to say, is one of the most descriptive panels you’ve written in this entire piece. And it’s missing information for all of that.)

 

Caption (Lucas): In so many ways, my brother was right. Our powers, as great as they were, came with two major limitations. (How does this make Asher right? Right about what? And when did he say anything about the limitations?)

 

Caption (Lucas): First, if we maxed out our powers for selfish reasons, we would lose them. (This makes no sense. Know what this means? This means the powers are sentient. They aren’t.)

 

Caption (Lucas): Second, if we harbored any negative feelings towards another family member and left those feelings unchecked, they can become toxic, causing family members to become ill.(I have no idea how this line of reasoning even begins to work. One of the more nonsensical passages here. Oh, wait! It makes sense, because Lucas is crazy. I almost forgot. Okay. Got it.)

 

Caption (Lucas): So while I blamed him for our father’s death…the real culprit was me and my pride.

 

This page is both better and worse than the rest.

 

Better, in that there is actually a couple of glimmers of actually writing a panel description, worse in that Lucas is showing just how crazy-cakes he is.

 

There’s no pride here. Misplaced anger, yes, but no pride. Lucas is not prideful. I’m not seeing where there’s any display of his pride being shown.

 

I can understand how a child can blame themselves for things that happen to their parents. Kids who have parents that go through messy divorces often blame themselves, and try to make deals with their parents that if they behaved better then the parents will stay together. Not just young children, either, because it can also reach into the teenage years. So, I can understand a bit about Lucas blaming himself for his father’s death. I can see childish reasoning in that. However, adult reasoning tells us that this makes no sense at all, and there is no real evidence in the story to make it true.

 

And then the talk of the powers knowing how they are being used… That doesn’t make any sense either. The wielders of the powers may know, and could “lose” them due to a mental trauma, but that would be psychosomatic at best. The powers are still there, just not readily accessible.

 

I understand that you’re going for a big emotional thing here, Justin, but it just isn’t coming off well. You’re reaching for too much, and because you’re reaching, you’re grasping for anything that you can think of. Unfortunately, when read, it doesn’t make sense, and because it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t ring true.

 

This is also another stopping point of the story. Who knows what lies on the next page, but you could have stopped here and been done.

 

Page 12

 

Panel 1

 

Medium wide shot of a depressed Lucas at the marketplace, purchasing some food.

 

Caption (Lucas): Is it too late you forgive you brother? (Comma-fail.)

 

Little boy (OP): I hate you!

 

Panel 2

 

Full shot of two brothers, one 10 and the other one 12. The older brother is standing over the younger one, who is on the ground after just being pushed. Lucas is walking towards them. (Look! More people standing over one another! I think this is because the mother didn’t get the chance to stand over anyone. Now, there’s a note from Justin to the artist that this is supposed to be the same brothers from P6. Now, there are no brothers on P6. There’s a boy and a girl, but no two boys, unless the artist put them there without asking, as would be their perogative.)

 

Older brother: I wish I never had a brother!

 

Lucas: Hey!

 

Panel 3

 

Medium shot of Lucas kneeling in between the brothers as he’s talking to the older one.

 

Lucas: Look, I don’t care why you pushed him. But it ends now. You always look after your brother, no matter what. Got it? (Just as he looked after his younger brother? I understand the lesson, but still, the nerve of some people.)

 

Older brother: Yeah, I got it.

 

Panel 4

 

Medium frontal shot of Lucas walking with tears in his eyes. The two boys are in the background visible.

 

Older brother: Hey mister, I remember you! Did you find Asher? Was he able to set things right?

 

Panel 5

 

Medium wide back shot of Lucas walking.

 

Older brother (OP): Mister?

 

Caption (Lucas): It wasn’t easy, I’ve accepted the fact that my brother forgave me…

 

Caption (Lucas): …and so did God. (Yeah, out of the blue again.)

 

Caption (Lucas): But will I ever forgive myself?

 

Caption: The end.

 

 

Let’s just run this piece of crap down.

 

Format: You could have had a flawless victory. You know exactly when you lost it. I won’t rehash it.

 

Panel Descriptions: Crap. For the most part, they’re useless and lazy. There are precious few times when the characters actually acted. Most of the time, they’re just standing around. Or, standing over someone. There is no other word for this. It’s crap.

 

Pacing: It could have been better. There were storylines here that weren’t followed up on that would have made for a much more interesting story, but instead, you chose to do something else. Something weird. The pacing is off because elements of the story don’t make sense. If the story was actually thought through, this would have been a much better piece.

 

There are elements here that are unnecessary, and as such, throw the pacing off. The scavengers and the mother’s death. The way the mother dies. Just totally unnecessary. Sam has a good suggestion for change. There are others.

 

Watch your word to panel count ratio. Again, the higher the panel count, the fewer words can be held per panel.

 

Your characters don’t move through time effectively. That is evidenced by the one-page search for Asher that only took a few hours. He leaves the house and then gets back…all before nightfall. From a pacing perspective, it’s probable that both his father and brother died on the same day.

 

Dialogue: The captions are decent. The spoken dialogue, though, is wretched. Most of it is anachronistic, and as such, throws the reader right out of the story.

 

Besides being anachronistic, the dialogue is melodramatic, and nearly offensive because of it.

 

Dialogue has to have an emotional truth to it, in order for it to resonate with the reader. I see that you reach for it time and again here, but you continually fall short. The reason for that is because the story itself is built on faulty logic. You can’t have an emotional truth if there’s faulty logic behind it.

 

The DaVinci Code is based on a book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, whether or not Dan Brown wants to admit it. Well, the writers of that book were led on by a hoax, but their work does hold water up to a certain point. It still resonates with emotional truth because there are things that are logically sound within it.

 

I can’t find one thing that is logically sound about the dialogue. Your protagonist is a blithering idiot, and he shows that time and again through dialogue that doesn’t make any sense.

 

Then, there’s the talk of god.

 

Again, that comes out of nowhere. If you’re trying to tell a religious story, there are two basic ways to do it: either bring your deities in early, or you don’t bring them in at all, and let the story tell the tale by itself, and let the reader get whatever religious theme out of it they will. But to just bring religion into it out of left field is heavy-handed and extremely clumsy. I thought you better than that.

 

Content: There’s more wrong here than there is right.

 

As a reader, I wouldn’t read this, and if I did, I’d ask for my money and time back. Nothing makes sense, and the things that could have been interesting are never followed. It’s just a big lump of not-good.

 

Editorially, this needs a complete rewrite. You have to decide how your world works, where it’s set, how the powers work, how its populated, and how that population interacts with one another.

 

I loved Stargate: Atlantis. I liked Stargate: SG-1. There’s something that always bothered me about the Stargate series, though: the planets they visited always seemed to be extremely sparsely inhabited. Picture this: the people come to Earth through the Stargate. We know that there are continents and governments and more that we have to work with or answer to. Billions of people on the planet.

 

Stargate, though, has only a few hundred people on a planet, if they’re lucky. Sometimes, its a village of a few dozen. A few dozen people on a whole friggin planet.

 

That’s what you did here. You have a few hundred people in a town, because Asher doesn’t go very far at all. Not when some random kids know him. Where’s the rest of your world?

 

Then, there’s the fact that this world is not earth, yet they know about a forgiving god.

 

When I first started looking into making comics, I ran across a terrible, terrible story: in this story, aliens had come to earth, thinking it was hell, and that they were angels sent to make the way for the one true god, or something like that. Terrible. How could aliens know about an earthly religion? How can your characters, who are not on earth, know about a Judeo-Christian god? It doesn’t make sense.

 

The questions I’d ask as an editor are these: what is the story you’re really trying to tell? What is it that you want the reader to come away with when they’re finished? What are the important visuals? What are the important pieces of dialogue?

 

Once those questions are asked and answered, then you can start to construct a story that actually makes sense, because none of this does. There isn’t one piece of logic in this whole piece, and that’s sad.

 

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

Like what you see? Steve and Sam are available for your editing needs. You can email Steve here, and Sam here. My info is below.

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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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