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TPG Week 158: When Dialogue Doesn’t Do Its Job

| January 4, 2014

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Welcome, one and all! It’s a new year, so we’re off to a new start! First up for the year is a new Brave One in Jeremy Jackson! We still have the beautiful Steve Colle in blue, and I’m ever-crabby in red. So, let’s see what Jeremy does when he has a

 

Soulless Night

 

PAGE ONE(splash image)

 

Page description. Completely black page, with Ciilldrean (Sill-der-een) leaning out of the darkness. (Question: Is a page completely black if there’s someone leaning out of the darkness? For myself, this description brings to mind one of those cardboard children’s books where there’s a lever that, when manipulated, allows a character or prop to move across the page. Clever, but I doubt this is what you had in mind.)

 

Cap 1: There cannot be pleasure without pain, or peace without war, and, as such, there cannot be good without evil.

 

Cap 2: They were frightened, and you, as their protector, locked me away, (Take out the comma) in a prison of flesh and bone forged of your sacrifice.

 

Cap 3: I am held captive for the horrible crimes I have committed against man.

 

Cap 4: Through all the pain that I have wrought, and the civilizations I have lay laid to waste, know this, (No comma before an ellipsis)… I am not evil, nor am I good. I am, (Take out the comma) simply, (Take out the comma) whatever nature needs me to be.

 

Cap 5: I…

 

Cap 6: am…

 

Cap 7: Balance.

 

Cap 8: And every second that I am shackled, the weight is shifted, and I become stronger.

 

Cap 9: Now (Add comma) the time has come for me to take back my freedom…

 

The dialogue isn’t bad at all, but it is in the wrong order. Here’s the order I’d suggest for better flow and compartmentalizing:

 

There cannot be pleasure without pain, or peace without war, and, as such, cannot be good without evil. Through all the pain that I have wrought, and the civilizations I have laid to waste, know this… I am not evil, nor am I good. I am simply whatever nature needs me to be. I… am… Balance.

 

They were frightened, and you, as their protector, locked me away in a prison of flesh and bone forged of your sacrifice. I am held captive for the horrible crimes I have committed against man, and every second that I am shackled, the weight is shifted, and I become stronger. Now, the time has come for me to take back my freedom…

 

Keep the divisions where you have them set up, but just change the order in which you have the information.

 

Okay, we have P1 down, and already I have questions.

 

I understand the black page completely. I have no problem with that. My problem starts with the character.

 

If he’s leaning, where is he leaning from? Left, right, the obliques, upside down, the center? I have no idea, and neither does the artist. Not only does the artist not know from where this character is leaning, they also don’t know what his facial expression is. The character isn’t acting, and he should be.

 

I have no problem with the lack of a character description. Hopefully, that’s in a separate document. My next problem comes with the dialogue.

 

Here’s where I have to start making assumptions. I’m assuming that the character that’s on the page is also the character that’s speaking. If they’re the one speaking, then I have a problem with the captions.

 

Simply put, if the character on the page is the one speaking, then they should have word balloons, not captions. Why? Because this does not sound like an internal monologue. This sounds like he’s talking to someone—the audience. Breaking the fourth wall is fine, but you have to do it correctly.

 

If he’s talking to someone else (someone who may be revealed on P2), then word balloons are definitely needed.

 

If someone else is speaking to another party, and both of those parties are at a different location, then these would be voice-over captions.

 

So, one way or another, Jeremy, this is wrong.

 

Do I agree with Steve’s rearrangement? Meh. Editorial prerogative. I personally try to make sure the writer’s “voice” is as true to them as possible. Writers already have to make enough concessions with their vision by going through the artist and the letterer, so as an editor, I try to make sure they don’t have yet another person changing things up on them.

 

This is not to say that I won’t change things around on a writer if I deem it necessary. However, I try to give them as much leeway as possible. At least one rewrite, after making some pointed suggestions about the dialogue. If the writer hasn’t come up with better dialogue after one or two rewrites, then I’ll write the dialogue for them.

 

But that’s just me and my view. Others may view it differently.

PAGE TWO (four panels)

 

Panel 1. Open to a cityscape across a dark nights sky. Dim moonlight through the cloudy night sky.

(This extreme long establishing shot, especially with it being a silent panel, is detracting from the immediate flow of the story. Does an establishing shot always have to be the very first panel in a new scene? No, but it does need to be featured within the scene. Here’s an example: A woman, in a medium shot, is surrounded by trees. She screams out for help. No answer. She screams louder, the camera pulled back in a long shot to show more of the wooded area around her. No answer. Finally, she screams at the top of her lungs in panic, as the camera pulls back in a high angle extreme long establishing shot to show the dense expanse of the thick forest, no roads to be found. See what I mean? In this case, go straight to your next panel and establish the general setting in a later image.)

 

 

Panel 2. The main character is lying on his back under the light of a single streetlamp in the middle of an, otherwise, completely dark street. The character’s (Jaxon) eyes are just opening as he wonders where he is. Then, from out of the darkness he hears a voice. (What would work better here, rather than a longer shot to show the streetlight and darkened street, would have been to have an extreme close-up of your character’s eyes shooting open. It’s more immediate and less casual. Just looking at the three question marks you have in his first dialogue tells me he’s shocked awake. Make it so in the visuals.)(In order for the character’s eyes to be shooting open, you need two panels for that. Everything else is said is right on the money.)

 

Jaxon: How the…Where am I??? (I don’t think more question marks are necessary. However, being alert enough to not know where you are? That’s something different.)

 

Alex: Death… (Is this voice coming from off panel or tailless as it comes from the ether? You need to describe this better.)

 

Alex: it It is both, (Take out the comma) where you are and how you arrived.

 

 

Panel 3. Jaxon jumps to his feet and has his fists clenched in a threatening manner. (These are two actions: The jumping to his feet and the positioning of his fists ready to fight. I wouldn’t suggest breaking it down into two panels, but rather have him, in a medium shot on the ground, spinning his head around to see exactly where the voice is coming from, his eyes wide as he tries to see through the darkness the light doesn’t touch.)

 

Jaxon: And just Who the hell are you?!?

 

 

Panel 4. Close up on Alex as he steps out of the shadows. (This answers the question of where Alex’s voice is coming from, so you need to label his initial dialogue as coming from off panel, or OP. Now, onto some questions: How is Alex dressed? What does he look like? I’m picturing DC’s Morpheus/Sandman as I read the dialogue, but I don’t know if that’s accurate. Give the artist that information.)(Hopefully, that information is in a separate document. I don’t think that information is important here. Methinks Alex is important enough to warrant his own character description. He doesn’t sound like a minor character.)

 

Alex: Who I am is far less important as than what I am…

 

Alex: For now (Add comma) you may call me Alexander, and I am a Gatekeeper. (I’m not seeing the need for the bolding of “I”. I’d suggest keeping it the same as the balance of the text.)

 

This page needs work. From the silent establishing shot to the shots and actions of your protagonist, it needs to have that suspenseful build up to maintain the mystery of your Alex character. Dialogue-wise, I’m somewhat interested. Just get the visuals to match up in their effectiveness.

 

Now here’s a question: Are Alex and Ciilldrean the same person? The reason I ask is that you have Ciilldrean coming out of the darkness on Page One and then follow up with Alexander coming out of the darkness at the end of this second page. You’re repeating the technique, making me think they’re the same, the second time around being a full reveal. Is that what’s happening?

 

P2 down, and there’s still some problems.

 

The biggest problem on the page is the pacing. The panel descriptions can be fixed, but the pacing is a bit harder.

 

I’m with Steve in that the suspense can and should be ramped up, and that’s done by zooming in to the new character and then pulling out. Well, that’s one way, of course, and for this page, I think it’s the best way.

 

The pacing, and some better dialogue, would go a long way toward this. Because here’s the thing: I’m not satisfied with the dialogue. I believe that more can be done in order to make it interesting. I do feel like you’re trying hard here. It feels like a strain. That’s not good.

 

The good news? You’ve named someone in the dialogue, in an organic way, and I liked that. Let’s do more of that. (See? I’m easy to please.)

PAGE THREE (four panels)

 

Panel 1. Jaxon has relaxed a bit as he looks around the darkness. He still has a scowl (Why a scowl?) on his face as he talks to Alexander. (Is Alex in the shot? If not, then his dialogue would be coming from off panel.)

 

Jaxon: A soul guide, huh… (This should be a question mark instead of an ellipsis) Here to take me to the next life?

 

Alex: Soul guide, yes, (Period instead of comma) Next life, (I’d suggest an ellipsis here to add more of a pause than what a comma would provide) no…

 

Alex: You have been granted ascension. (Here’s the problem with the panel description and the dialogue: It doesn’t match. If this is going to be focused on Jack, then his reaction to what Alex has said should be here. Personally, I think I’d go with a panel on Alex instead of Jack.)

 

 

Panel 2. Jaxon now has a puzzled look on his face. He continues to talk.

 

Jaxon: Ascension!?! (There’s a major difference between being puzzled and being completely shocked. The addition of the two exclamation marks doesn’t match up with the more relaxed puzzled look.)

 

Jaxon: But I’ve never believed… (Double dash instead of ellipsis, as it’s more natural as interrupted speech) I have never been a religious man.

 

 

Panel 3. Profile shot of Alexander as he explains the situation to Jaxon. (Is Jaxon in the shot? If not, then his dialogue would be coming from off panel.)

 

Alex: No (Add comma) you were not, but religion is merely a guideline. At times a religion has been abused to gain power, and sometimes there are people who follow blindly just for a free pass to the Promised Land. (I’ve changed the “promised land” to “Promised Land”, as that’s the proper way of calling it, but this is entirely useful only if the text will all be lettered in lower case. Otherwise, it’s a moot point.)

 

Alex: Yet, (Take out the comma) sometimes, on the rarest of occasions, someone, (Take out the comma) free of faith, (Take out the comma) can do some good. Not because they were told to… (Take out the ellipsis) or out of some sort of fear of the divine, but rather, (Take out the comma) just because it is the right thing to do. (42 words in this one balloon. A bit wordy.)

 

Jaxon: What if I am I’m not ready for this?

 

Alex: You have proven yourself time and time again. You have more than earned your place.

 

 

Panel 4. Jaxon standing before Alexander. Jaxon is scratching his head, and his other hand is on his waist. (The waist is a pretty large surface. Do you mean his stomach or his side?)(Or his hip?)

 

Jaxon: I just feel like something is off, like I’m forgetting something…

 

Alex: Earlier you asked, where you were… (Comma not needed. This, too, is a comma-fail.)

 

Jaxon: Yeah, yeah. I get it, death. (Is he calling the Alex “Death” or is he saying “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Death.”?)

 

Okay, we’re now 3 pages in, and guess what?

 

I’m no longer interested.

 

You got a bit wordy, but it’s four panels, so that’s fine. You could actually fit more words in here, because of the lower number of panels. The problem I’m having, though, is that you’re not being interesting. You’re too busy giving your world view (or A world view—it may not be yours, but it sounds like it is—and we’ll talk about that in a moment) to be interesting.

 

Instead of sounding like a character, Alex sounds like you. And, Alex sounds a bit pretentious, at that. That could be on purpose, though.

 

Why am I not interested? Because I’m not interested in your world view. I don’t care about it, and I don’t want to read it. I don’t want to be preached to, and that’s how this is coming across.

 

Religion is something that is very personal to most people, and they don’t like the realities of it. Believe me, I’m one of the first people to blast believers when they insist on the “truth” of something, but at the same time, I keep that as a personal opinion. I try not to put that into my stories. (Personally, my religious stories are about asking questions, not telling people about how I feel about their version of religion.) It’s a fine line to walk, and it feels, to me, like you’re coming down on the “wrong” side of the argument.

 

And if I’m wrong, then you’ll have to take into account that this is how I perceived the story so far. And if that’s how I took it, how is someone else going to take it? Someone with even more religious conviction than I have. See what I’m getting at? Minds close, and they won’t give the story the attention it may deserve.

 

And it still feels like you’re trying too hard, when it comes to the dialogue.

 

None of the questions that I’d ask are being asked or answered. What’s a gatekeeper? Why is Jack not asking how he got there? How did Jack get there? How did he die? Why is Alex not asking Jack how he died, or why he died, or anything even remotely relevant to his situation?

 

It’s P3, and we have 2 pages of these two talking, and we still don’t know who Jack is. Out of three characters, only one has been named in a place where the reader can see it. That’s not good. You have the space and the time to do it on P2, or at least here on P3, but instead of the important things such as character identification, you’re giving us your world view.

 

And the over-use of commas are killing you.

PAGE FOUR (six panels)

 

Panel 1. Close up on Alexander’s face. (What’s his facial expression?)

 

Alex: Yes, but more specifically, a place where time has no authority, where past (Add comma) present and future all meet.

 

Alex: Many refer to this place as “Limbo.” (Place the period on the outside of the closing quotation marks.)(Nope. There is some “controversy” to this. Steve is in Canada, and Jeremy is in America. Canadians do it the British way, where the period outside the quotes makes more sense. Here in America, we don’t do that. We generally place it inside the quotes, regardless of it being “correct” or not. Why? It goes to convenience. Back in the mists of time, American printing presses would sometimes misalign the punctuation if it were outside of the quotes, so printers would put the period or comma inside the quotes in order to fix the problem. British printers had the same problem, but they would rather deal with the misalignment rather than have it be incorrect. So, as it stands, there isn’t a right or a wrong way for it, it depends on where you live in the world.)

 

Alex: While you are here (Add comma) you may use your this time as you please.

 

 

Panel 2. Back up to show a bit more of Alexander. (Who’s doing what? Characters have to act, remember?)

 

Alex: You can see your family, get closure (Add comma) and, (Take out the comma) perhaps, (Take out the comma) even allow yourself to move on. (Commas… Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad. Sometimes they’re correct, sometimes they aren’t. There’s a mixture of both here. I personally believe both of you are wrong. Here’s how it should read: “You can see your family, get closure, and perhaps, even allow yourself to move on.” That reads better and has the pauses in the proper space.)

 

 

Panel 3. Jaxon, who is deep in thought, faces the reader as Alexander is to one side facing him. (What are these people doing?)

 

Jaxon: My family…

 

 

Panel 4. Close up on Jaxon’s startled face as he comes to a shocking realization.

 

Jaxon: Ciilldrean!!!

 

Here’s where I would suggest the page break. You have a hook here that can be exploited, so use it to greater effect.

 

Panel 5. Jaxon snags up Alexander by the front of his jacket (You didn’t mention how Alex was dressed before, so where did this jacket come from?) and is yelling in his face. Alex is still calm and collected but has a hold of Jaxon’s forearm.

 

Jaxon: I have to go back!

 

Jaxon: That monster is with my family! (Move this sentence up to the previous balloon) They need me! All of humanity needs me! (These last two sentences are overly dramatic. Unless you can rephrase them, I’d suggest taking them out.)

 

Alex: I knew it would be you…

 

 

Panel 6. Jaxon looks confused but still angry, as he let Alexander go and has backed off a bit.

 

Jaxon: Wha…What do you mean? (The ellipsis is taking away the suddenness of the stutter. Change it to “Wh-what do you mean?”)

 

 

Alex: Well, You have a decision choice to make. (Choice, decision… It’s the same thing. Neither is more correct or sounds better than the other.)

 

Alex: But first (Add comma) you need to know something. that there is no coming back from this decision. (Outside of the comma, this isn’t a change I would have made. This entire thing needs to be rewritten, to be honest. Fewer commas.)

 

Alex: Out there, in the land of the living, souls are not meant to survive. (I don’t understand this statement. Aren’t ghosts souls? Explain this one to me.)

 

P4, and this is getting to a point where I no longer want to read it.

 

It’s the dialogue.

 

Remember, the dialogue is giving us more information than the art does. So, to that end, the characters have to act. You’re not telling the artist how the characters are acting. You’re just going forth and letting panel descriptions be devoid of character actions. That’s not good.

 

But the dialogue, as a whole, needs to be ripped out and rewritten. You have too many comma’s, leading to comma-fails, and leading Steve to want to either rewrite your dialogue or shoot himself in the face. All the dialogue needs to come out. All of it.

 

Now, there’s also the fact that a character has been named. First, I think it’s a mistake to have a character named Ciilldrean. To me, you have two too many letters: too many I’s and L’s. It “looks” wrong to me, and if it looks wrong to me, it will look wrong to many others. Remember, I’m of average intelligence, and because of that, I can represent a lot of readers. I’d either “correct” it to Cildrean, or rename the character totally.

 

Next, I don’t believe that readers are going to connect the name to the character on P1. Is this important? Not at the moment. But if he was talking about reclaiming his freedom on P1, and then we’re now on P4 and the unnamed character is talking about the misnamed character being with his family…what happened in the interim? There’s an unknown and as yet unaccounted for amount of time between P1 and P2, and I’m lost. Hopefully, I’ll be found before the end of this script, but right now, I’m lost, without a compass, and no landmarks to even begin to be found.

 

It isn’t a place I like, however, I visit it more often than I like, because new writers very often do this.

 

And this is a very weak way to end the page. P4 is not a page turn, but still, you could have put a bit more punch in it. Steve has the right idea as to where to put the page break, but I’m not happy with that, because if that were done, there would then be yet another low-panel page. I like the six panels, but I have to say that the pacing is off.

 

 

PAGE FIVE (six panels)

 

 

Panel 1. Close up on Alexander’s eyes. (Are they wide open, are they narrowed, what?)

 

Alex: Out there (Add comma) you will waste away, starting with your memories, experiences, and (Add comma) before long (Add comma) you will be nothing but a husk.

 

Alex: All that will remain is your drive to complete your final task.

 

 

Panel 2. Jaxon looks over at Alexander inquisitively.

 

Jaxon: And… (Take out the ellipsis) what might that be?

 

Alex: That (Add comma) I cannot tell you…

 

Alex: I’m thinking that you may already have something in mind. (I think you’re trying too hard, Jeremy. That, and I must say…I almost threw up in my mouth a little in reading this. And let me say, bile is nasty.)

 

 

Panel 3. Alexander is now reaching into his coat.3

 

Alex: Whatever the case (Add comma) you will be needing this.

 

 

Panel 4. Alexander holds out, in one hand, a small brilliant blue ball of fire.

 

Alex: This star will make for an excellent guide.

 

Alex: She will give you direction, even after you lose yourself.

 

Alex: She is known as the Soulstress. (I just lost my entire mind, and my entire lunch. Soulstress? I had terrible names like that when I was twelve. I like to think I got better.)

 

This dialogue could definitely be written better. Here’s what I’d suggest:

 

This star is known as the Soulstress. She will give you direction, even when you lose yourself.

 

This is simpler and doesn’t waltz around before getting to what the ball of fire is called.

 

Panel 5. Close up on Jaxon, who speaks with a serious look on his face. (Shouldn’t Jaxon be reaching out for the ball of fire?)

 

Jaxon: If I already know what it is that I want, then why do I need her?

 

 

Panel 6. Alexander rests his face in his palm.

 

Alex: Like talking to a wall…

 

This page did absolutely nothing for me. All I’m hearing is talk, talk, talk. The dialogue and actions seemed more forced than previous pages, almost like you had taken a break and come back to the story later on. This isn’t to say that what was written prior was fantastic, but it did have more of a sense of flow than this did, at least to me. What you have here is falling apart at the seams.

 

P5!

 

I’m even less happy than Steve.

 

Now, I don’t mind talking heads. Talking heads are what makes comics go round. However, what makes comics stop? Talking heads that don’t have anything to say.

 

This page is padding. You could cut it, and it wouldn’t do anything to affect the story being told. Here, you’re trying to make a page count, and you’re do so while trying to make your readers as physically ill as possible with the dialogue.

 

Really, I want to stop reading.

 

Since I can’t (but it’s coming soon!), I have to say that characters have to act. You’re forgetting that by not having them do what they need to. They’re both just standing around, doing a lot of nothing.

 

Exposition should be natural. This isn’t natural. It isn’t a full-on infodump, but it isn’t natural, either. Information should come across in a way that the reader doesn’t even know they’re being fed information. Instead, this is castor-oil: you know it’s good for you, but it’s terrible all the same.

 

There are better ways to get this information across.

 

Now, this is a page turn. What’s here that makes the reader want to turn the page? Nothing. They really want to go the other way, closing the book and putting it back on the shelf. That’s not the reaction you want.

PAGE SIX (five panels)

 

Panel 1. Jaxon is reaching out to take the star from Alexander’s hand. (This should have been done on the previous page.)

 

Alex: As I said before, you are going to lose yourself…

 

Alex: Be it years down the line…

 

Alex: or months…

 

Alex: weeks… or even…

 

Jaxon: Days?

 

Alex: Very well may be.

 

Long and drawn out. My interest faded with the last page, but this is making me not want to continue. I’m bored at this point, which isn’t a good place to be, as an editor or as a reader. (See? I’m not alone!)

 

 

Panel 2. Jaxon is holding the star in both hands staring blankly into the ball of flame. Alexander stands off to the side.

 

Jaxon: If I lose myself completely…

 

Alex: Doesn’t matter…

 

Alex: By doing this (Add comma) you are giving the ultimate sacrifice…

 

Alex: Your soul. (I’ve heard this said so many times that it has lost its strength.)

 

 

Panel 3. Same image as panel 2, but zoomed in closer to their faces.

 

Jaxon: My family… can I see them… before…

 

Alex: I wouldn’t risk losing the time, (Period instead of a comma) Besides (Add comma) they will not recognize you through what you have become. (And what exactly is that? Has his physical appearance changed since his family last saw him? How do we know that, seeing as how we’ve never been told or shown the differences?) (Trying too hard…)

 

Jaxon: Will they forget me? (Wow. When I was in the Marine Corps, I was told that the only stupid question was the one not asked. I generally believe this, not because I was fed this line as a recruit, but because sometimes, people just don’t know. So, yes, I do believe that the only stupid question is the one not asked. Now, that being said, I also believe this is a stupid question. The only people that may even ask about this are those who have never experienced death. There are few people who haven’t experienced it. Even children have, if not a family member, then a pet. This, to me, is a stupid question, put here for the sole purpose of making my blood pressure go up.)

 

Panel 4. Alexander has his arms open and his hands extended to each side, as he explains further.

 

Alex: People sometimes forget the monster, but they will still tell stories of the heroes who slay them. (Are you referring to Jaxon as the monster, the hero, or both?)

 

Alex: When a family has someone to dedicate his life to them, to give them every little bit of himself, well it seems to echo throughout the generations. (What are you trying to say here? It’s completely confusing to me.)(That’s because Jeremy has put on his cape. He is now Captain Try-Hard.)

 

Alex: You will always be remembered…

 

Alex: as a husband…

 

Alex: as a father…

 

Alex: as a hero. (Oh, captain, my captain.)

 

Waxing poetic. I remember Akiva Goldsmith wrote a similar set of lines in the BATMAN & ROBIN movie from 1997, where George Clooney’s Bruce Wayne was trying to convince Dick Grayson to partner up with him against the dastardly villains after their long on-screen spat. Terrible dialogue in that movie. Not good here, either.

 

I had a head. It stopped caring around P3…

 

What is the use of this page? What is this page doing for the story?

 

Not one blessed thing. It’s making the story longer than it needs to be, and it is making the reader ask for money they never paid to their retailer for even picking this book up and looking at it.

 

This page is a waste, which is the worst kind of padding there is.

 

Captain, my captain, you are trying extremely hard with this. Stop it. Let the story tell itself. Cut these two pages, and get on with it. The audience will thank you for it.

PAGE SEVEN (splash image and two panels)

 

Panel 1. Medium shot of Alexander, in the top left hand corner. (What’s he doing?)

 

Alex: You have saved lives, and you have taken care of you and your own. (Comma-fail.)

 

Alex: Your children have seen this and they will follow by your example.

 

 

Splash image. Jaxon, back to Alexander and the reader, walks out of the light of the streetlamp as Alexander watches him go. Jaxon’s last line trails off as he walks away.

 

Jaxon: That’s what I am I’m afraid of…

 

Alex: You know that man is going to kill you… (Man? Now he’s a man? The misnamed character is now a man? Really?)

 

 

Panel 2. Either a short panel stretched across the bottom of the page, or a small panel in the bottom right hand corner. The Sliver form Ciilldrean leans out of the shadows.

 

Ciilldrean: It will be a welcomed effort, if he proves up to the task. (I’m still lost. He saw all of this? Or is Alex the misnamed character?)

 

Cap: To Be Continued…

 

Six pages and 28 panels of talking heads, all after an opening splash that was almost completely devoid of image. Lots and lots of dialogue that, unfortunately, rambles on and goes nowhere. All of this and yet, I never truly understood where you were going with these seven pages. What is the story about? And why is your protagonist never named? I hate to say it, but this needs a complete rethinking, Jeremy. Let’s see what Steven has to say in his closing remarks.

 

All together now: this is crap.

 

Let’s run it down.

 

Format: Flawless Victory! I have visions of Bugs Bunny going “Yippee! Hooray!”

 

Panel Descriptions: You forgot to have the characters act. That’s the biggest thing about the panel descriptions that can be said. The characters have to act. Now, there’s a moving panel in there, but that’s easy to fix. Your panel descriptions have to get better. The characters have to act.

 

Pacing: Terrible. It started out kinda decently, and then, like Alaska, there was a bridge that went to nowhere. Now, if that’s where you wanted to go, then this is a success! A raving success, at that! However, I don’t think that’s the trip you wanted to make. I think the trip you wanted to make was to actually have this go somewhere. It failed.

 

If you’re going to have talking heads, the dialogue has to be interesting. This wasn’t. It could have been, but you had your cape on for your transformation to Captain Try-Hard, and it was terrible to behold.

 

Dialogue has to move the story forward. This made it stand still. Not good at all.

 

Dialogue: All of it has to be ripped out. Every single word. Why? It was drawn out, it was overblown, too many damned commas, it was uninteresting, and it didn’t do anything at all to move the story forward.

 

Sorry to say this, but the dialogue is a failure.

 

At every point, you could be seen to be carefully donning your cape, putting on your boots, putting the mask in place, putting on the gloves, and then looking at yourself in the mirror. It was a long, slow, complete transformation into Captain Try-Hard.

 

What should the dialogue have done? It should have told the story, given us some insight into the characters, moved the story forward, and named all of the characters.

 

You failed to name the character that the story was “about.” Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

 

Really, two characters haven’t been named. We have no idea who the character who woke up under the lamp is, we have no idea who the misnamed character is. And, at the very end, there’s some doubt as to whom Alex is, too. However, at least he’s named in a place where the reader can see it. No one else is.

 

And cut down on the amount of comma’s. You cut down on that, and you might not sound as pretentious as you do.

 

Content: As a reader, I wouldn’t read this. It’s crap. Talking heads have to have interesting conversations, and there was precious little that was interesting here. It was more painful than anything.

 

Editorially, this needs a complete rewrite. Go back to the drawing board and rethink this, rewrite it, and then maybe it might be readable. Right now, it isn’t. This needs to have an actual beginning, middle, and end. Right now, it has a beginning, something that is trying to be a middle, and an end that could have a lot more punch to it.

 

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

 

Also, we’re still close to running out of scripts. If you want to have your script critiqued and don’t want to wait, now is the perfect time to do so!

 

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.

 

Click here to make comments in the forum!

 

 

 

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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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