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TPG Week 161: Don’t Keep Writing When The Story Is Senseless

| January 24, 2014

TPGFeatured_05

Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in John Heidt. As always, we have Sam LeBas in Prince purple, I’m in the Hall and Oates red (I’m a Man Eater), and we see what John does with

Chronicles of Heroes

(One of the things I find myself having to do is raise the font from a 10 pitch up to the standard 12. I’m finding myself having to do it more often than usual as of late. While it isn’t wrong, it’s annoying as hell. Here’s the thing, folks: you want the editor to be able to read the script, yes? Then put it at a standard reading level, which is 12 pitch. If they want to raise it or lower it from there, then that is their prerogative. But if you start out with a 10 pitch, the only thing you’re doing is increasing the likelihood that your script will be round filed. I know that if I had gotten this at 10 pitch, I’d have chucked it, and you wouldn’t have heard back from me as to why. That being said, let’s continue.)

(Consider including header with your name, the title of this work, issue number page numbers [pages of the actual script not page numbers in the comic] on each page. If this document gets printed out no one will know who wrote it, what it’s called or where page 17 belongs.)

Page 1: I have formatted it to be in 2 rows, three panels side to side on top and the 4th panel to be the same size as the first 3 by itself. it should all fit together to make a rectangle. Basically panel 4, 5, 6, are one panel. (This is hella confusing, and the grammar is not helping. Who would you like to know this information if you have already done it? Capitalize the first letter of a a sentence, you know that.) (I’m happy that this information is here. I like it. I didn’t even have to read it more than once. However, while I don’t take off points for capitalization in the panel descriptions, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the script if it shows up in the second sentence. Editors are busy, folks, and they look for reasons to toss out scripts. A mistake in simple capitalization could be an indicator of “worse” things to come, especially in the second sentence. You have to try harder.)

Panel 1: Front shot of Kade, he has a jacket draped over his arm. He is standing on a road dirt road that goes off into the horizon. It is a much used main road though, not a nasty little trail. There is a tree in the panel with a wanted sign tacked to it, but almost all of the tree and the wanted sign are cut off by the edge of the panel, so you cant see the sign, or even tell its a wanted sign. (What kind of landscape is in the background? Why is he isolated if it is a often-used route? What time of day is it?) (What the hell?! Capitalization in one sentence, a missing apostrophe in this one. And to add to Sam’s questions, where is the camera? Is he facing us, or facing away from us? Does he look tired and road weary, or dapper and just stepping out? Is he the Walkin’ Dude? [Let’s see how many people get that one without looking it up.] This sorely lacks the information the artist needs to do their job.)

KADE: SO(comma) I GUESS THIS IS HOW THE STORY BEGINS…MY NAME IS A MYSTERY, BUT FOR NOW(suggest comma) ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IS THAT(suggest deleting ‘that’) I AM A HERO.(He is not saying this out loud is he? I think this should be a caption, right?)(I think so, too.)

Panel 2: Picture of the wanted sign. The sign says WANTED! then NAME: KADE EVERSON in slightly smaller font, then a picture of his face. The bottom of the sign is cut off still by the panel. 

NO COPY

Panel 3: Close up on Kade’s face, he has a slightly mischievous look.

KADE: SO(comma) MAYBE I AM A DANGEROUS CRIMINAL WITH A LARGE BOUNTY ON MY HEAD. 

Panel 4: Picture of the rest of the sign which reads FOR LOITERING then REWARD: NEGOTIABLE underneath.  This is in the foreground, taking up panel 4 and 5. In the space of panel 6 there is enough room to see him leaning against a different tree a ways begin. He is standing and facing right. (I am not sure you could have written this in a way that would have been any more confusing. Why is this three panels? It seems like one. I really don’t understand your intent here.)(Um…if the tree is in the foreground, where is the character? Where is the other tree? Why would he be leaning against another tree? What is he doing as he leans against that tree? Sure, the panel can be drawn, as long as the other tree is appropriately placed, but how does this panel help move the story along? Bad storytelling here.)  

KADE: (suggest connecting this line and the previous with ellipses) OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. 

(The details in the descriptions are minuscule. I have no idea what the setting of this story is. However, I am able to get a sense of this character, which is good. You’re building a little irony within the story, that is probably the strongest component of your writing thus far.

It already seems that you wrote this quickly. The choices you have made do not seem deliberate, from the formatting to the grammar. Maybe that will get better as we go along.)

So, we have P1 on the books!

I’m not a happy panda.

I’m in a white void, and I hate those. Know what’s here? A tree, with a wanted poster on it, on a trail. That’s it. That’s all that’s here. A single tree.

There’s no indication of timeframe, be it time of day or year, and there’s no indication of the state the character, whether he’s in good repair or in disrepair. He’s just standing there with some sort of jacket. I don’t need to see him (I don’t want a character description here), but knowing whether or not he’s clean or road weary would go a long way toward seeing his state of mind.

So, the panel descriptions need more meat. And in needing more meat, they also need to be more plainly stated.

I have no idea what’s going on in the last panel. I thought I did, but then it went away. And just like Hall and Oates, every time you go away, you take a piece of understanding with you.

Like Sam, I don’t understand why this needed to be a three-in-one panel. It was doing just fine as a single panel, and would do a lot better if the last panel were just the entire poster, with nothing else to take away from what the poster says. Sure, there could be a caption, but that’s it. Adding the character to the last panel is unnecessary.

And then there’s the dialogue.

Hopefully, this dialogue is in a 1st person caption. That’s the way it sounds. The only other thing that would fit would be if he’s either talking to another character, or breaking the 4th wall. I ‘m hoping its one of those two, because if it isn’t, then you need to go back and learn which element of a script does what, which is something that should have been learned before putting fingers to keyboard.

As a page, this is okay. I am getting a sense of voice from the character, as Sam said, but I’m not liking how it’s coming across. Not yet, and that is basically because I don’t understand it yet. I should have a better understanding in the next page or two. If I don’t, it’s a failure.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 2: This page and the rest of them unless specified otherwise should be 6 panels, 3 on top and 3 on bottom, side by side and top to bottom to make a rectangle.  (I hope this has a good storytelling application. Otherwise, it’s going to be boring to look at.)

Panel 1: Picture of Kade walking down the road toward the camera, the tree off to the side in the background has had the wanted sign ripped off, but there are small fragments left. Behind Kade on the road is a pretty woman. she can be wearing whatever as long as it fits into medieval fantasy. Behind her is an old shorter woman, who the reader can barely see. (These descriptions are very sparse. I have no idea what you want these women to look like.)(This is terrible. I have no shame in saying so. This is terrible and cannot be drawn. Why? Let’s take it down the list: The guy is now walking down the road, right? He’s coming toward the camera. That means the tree with the poster is behind him. If he’s walked past the tree, that means the poster was on the other side of the tree, or else he wouldn’t have seen it when he was coming upon it. This means we wouldn’t be able to see the poster torn from the tree that is now behind him. This is now an impossibility. Now, depending on the distance between Kade and the camera, you now have a problem in the “beautiful woman” that is behind him. How is the reader supposed to know she’s beautiful? We can’t get a closeup of her because Kade is closer to the camera than she is. Now, if the old, shorter woman is behind this one, and the reader can barely see her, then how are we to know she is old, short, and female? Why is it the reader can barely see her? Is it because of distance? You don’t say so, but that’s what I’m assuming—and I hate to assume. So, if we’re talking about distances, you have severely failed in that you didn’t put any indication of distance between the camera and Kade, Kade and the first woman, the first woman and the second, and anyone in relation to the tree. And capitalization. See what happens when things cannot be drawn?)

KADE: I SEE THAT I HAVE SOME EXPLAINING TO DO. (Is this a caption, or is he saying this to the other characters on panel?) (I think this is either breaking the 4th wall, or this is misnamed element and should be a caption for an internal monologue. I don’t think anyone is close enough to hear him, and if they are, then there’s some ‘splainin’ to do.)

Panel 2: Image zooms out a little to show Kade halfway in the motion of laying his jacket over a muddy stream. You should still be able to see the cute woman but not still barely visible on the old woman. (Is the older woman visible or isn’t she? If she is still barely visible, wouldn’t the audience see her?) (Ah HA! Some ‘splainin’ to do! Because she was not described as being with him, or walking anywhere near him.)

KADE: I MAY BE WANTED FOR LOITERING, BUT THAT (is) HARDLY EVEN A CRIME. I AM GOING TO THE CITY RIGHT NOW TO CLEAR UP(suggest deleting ‘up’) MY NAME. 

Panel 3: A shot from behind Kade. Its (it’s) pretty close up but you can see his hand on the jacket on the ground. The cute woman has passed and from behind you can see Kade staring at her butt. His head should be tilted to the side a little as he enjoys the view. In the foreground you should be able to see the very top of the old woman’s head (This is crap. This is another impossible shot. My head just ‘sploded. If the camera is behind Kade, looking forward, how are we supposed to see behind him? Can the camera look behind itself? Look forward. Do you see what’s behind you? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The old woman? She’s still back in the distance, and not caught up. UNLESS I’ve been thinking about this all wrong… The old woman who’s short and barely seen? Is that because the camera is up high enough to only see the top of her head? Is that why she’s barely seen? If that’s the case, then you totally fail, because that wasn’t explained at all. And if that’s the case, this panel is still impossible because you can’t show his hand on the jacket, have the reader know what he’s staring at, and still only see the top of the woman’s head. If they’re standing side by side, or even in the same field of vision, then we should be able to see her entire body, except possibly the top of her head. You’re just writing, John, and not actually trying to visualize anything, and that’s a crime unto itself.)

KADE: I LIKE TO THINK OF MYSELF AS A GOOD(comma) UPSTANDING CITIZEN…ALWAYS WILLING TO HELP THOSE LESS FORTUNATE. (Hm. Nope. This now sounds like he’s talking to us, and not the woman. This is mislabeled. Why? Because he’s talking, and she didn’t look at him like he’s crazy for speaking out loud to no one she can see.)

Panel 4: Picture of his hand swiping up the jacket and the old woman spinning in the air. He should be oblivious to the old woman, and the cute woman’s chest should be in the foreground as she is walking toward the camera. Kade has a love struck smile. (This one may be a little tough to draw. Where is the camera here? It seems like a clip from a cartoon not a still image.) (Tough? I can get with tough. It’s not impossible.)

NO COPY

Panel 5: Picture of Kade looking at his muddy jacket in his hand with a displeased facial expression(ending punctuation) The old woman should be in the mud face first with her butt sticking up. Behind her a simple landscape.(Incomplete sentence)(I don’t care about the incomplete sentence. As long as it makes sense. It doesn’t, because it doesn’t build on anything.)

NO COPY 

Panel 6: A behind shot of Kade flinging his jacket off to the side of the road. In front of his(him?) a ways you should be able to see the big stone walls of the city with large open wooden gates. There should be a few people wandering in between him and the city entrance. (Wow, this is incredibly nonspecific.)

KADE: THE GREAT CITY OF HOLDRUM. (Is this Kade speaking, or an editorial cap? Should it be in the same font as the previous text?)

(Why do you want all the pages to be laid out as six panel grids? If there is some concrete reason for this choice, that’s fine. Otherwise, this might be a little repetitive.)

P2, and it’s crap.

The panels aren’t described anywhere near what I would call “well.” Quite the opposite. I might have had a small conniption there. It wasn’t pretty.

Panel descriptions are important. The artist has to be able to see what you do, and if you’re not visualizing, then you’re failing. And it looks like you’re failing, because the panel descriptions are either impossible or just poorly explained—or both. Atrocious is a word, and it’s a word that I will use. Atrocious.

There are some simple things that every person who writes (and that’s all of us) should never forget: ending punctuation and capitalization. This is basic. I don’t even have the words or the stomach to continue. Let that be a lesson unto itself.

All the dialogue so far is mislabeled. This is not spoken dialogue, these are all internal monologues. Why? Again, because he was speaking within earshot of the people, and no one responded or looked at him askance. (When’s the last time you heard that word?) So, everything so far is a caption, and that’s fine. I have no problem with that. I just have a problem with the incorrect label.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 3: 

Panel 1: Kade walking through the vending stalls. He should be in front of one selling fur. He should have his hand on the a tail (can be fox or whatever) feeling it. The vendor should always be looking down. Kade should be looking at the reader though. (I really hate this description. Can we talk about why? Good. Kade is either walking through the stalls, or is he feeling a fox tail at a fur vendor’s stall. I don’t care if the vendor always looks down, I care that he is looking down in this panel. Why is Kade not looking at this tail? This is clumsy, there has to be a smoother way to say this.)

KADE: I HEAR THERE IS PRACTIACALLY(practically) NO CRIME IN THIS CITY. (Caption or dialogue?)  

Panel 2: Picture of a burley man with a sheriff badge in front of the fur stall . he(Begin sentences with a capital letter) is facing the trader now with a paper in his hand. the reader cant(can’t) see or read the paper though. Kade is off to the side still with his hand on the tail. In this case you can either switch the angle of the shot or you can just switch positions of Kade. Kade should be looking at the paper with a surprised look. Vendor looking down. (What? In what case? This should not be stream of consciousness writing, and yet it seems like it is. This does not make sense to me.) (Wait—I thought you said there was no crime in the city? If there’s no crime, why is there a sheriff? Your logic is breaking down. Is the sheriff showing the wanted poster to anyone, or is he just holding it in his hand. The way you describe it, he’s holding his hand down by his side, and not showing the paper to anyone.)

SHERRIFF (Sheriff): HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?  

VENDOR: NO. 

Panel 3: Picture of the sheriff with his back to Kade, but with the expression of realization that he was standing next to him.(What?) Kade in the background with hands up scrambling to figure out something to do.(Huh? Could you draw this? I don’t mean from the picture in your mind, I mean from the words you have written on this page.)  

NO COPY

Panel 4: Picture of the sheriff spinning around and facing Kade, who now has a full beard that is the exact same color as the tail he was touching which is now gone.(This seems like a moving panel.) (And it probably is, but it could be done in a comical, cartoony way.)

SHERRIFF (Sheriff): HEY!..(Suggest deleting this punctuation and separating balloons instead)(An ellipsis should not follow anything. You can have an ellipsis before the exclamation mark, but not after it. The ellipsis should only follow a word, not punctuation.)OH(comma) SORRY(needs punctuation) I THOUGHT YOU WERE SOMEONE ELSE. 

Panel 5: Picture of Kade still with beard pushing through the crowd. There should be a waned board(What is this? Should this say ‘wanted’?) in the corner of the panel, but like the tree you shouldn’t really be able to see anything on it, just maybe a corner of paper. 

KADE: THERE REALLY MUST NOT BE ANY CRIME IN THIS CITY IF THEYRE(they’re) LOOKING FOR ME. 

Panel 6: Behind shot of Kade looking at the board. There should be 3 wanted posters on board in any order or position. All are the same and have him on it. 

KADE: I THINK I NEED A DRINK. 

(You do not need to start every panel description with the phrase, ‘picture of.’ The tone you want for this story is actually pretty apparent, but your structure is continuing to disintegrate.)

What started out as slightly amusing is falling into a morass of crap. And I peeked ahead… Sam has a strong stomach.

I’m not going to go over punctuation and spelling here.

This is hard, John. I’m not even going to lie. I’m no longer amused, and there is so much wrong here that it isn’t write. (See what I did there? Hey! I gotta get my amusement where I can.)

There isn’t anything new here that I haven’t already said before, and I’m all itchy, feeling the feathers sticking out of my skin, because I’m becoming a parrot. Maybe I could be in the Alps? Become an echo? Because I’m just repeating myself. I don’t even have any amusing asides.

This is terrible.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 4:

Panel 1: This panel has Kade sitting at a table in a pub. His arm is on the table with a large mug of ale in it. There is a paintbrush on the table with black ink on its bristles laying on the table too. To his side, really close by is a large wooden pillar with a wanted poster of him on it. The poster has large mutton chops painted on. (You have to refine the way you are writing descriptions. The ale is not in his arm. You either say that the paintbrush on the table twice, or you forget to mention the other item on the table. These details are easy to overlook, but doing so continually creates confusion. This all kind of reminds me of Tangled.)(I’ve never seen Tangled, so I’ll take your word for it.)

KADE: I ACTUALLY CAME TO THE CITY FOR TWO REASONS.(Delete period, add comma) TO CLEAR MY NAME AND TO FIND A WAY TO BREAK A CURSE THAT WAS PUT ON ME. 

Panel 2: Picture of Kade standing up leaning over the table and looking at the reader with his hands planted on the table.(This is from a reverse angle, from the previous panel, correct?) 

KADE: YOU WANT SOME LIFE ADVICE?..NEVER DOUBLE CROSS A GYPSY…THEN TRY TO KILL HER. (Breaking the fourth wall is a varsity level storytelling device, I am not sure it belongs here. Is he now speaking or just thinking this while he looks at the reader?)(I think he’s been speaking the entire time, although it should be captions. Actually, this entire story is moving slowly. It’s P4, and we’re just now getting to the crux of the matter.)

Panel 3: (Sepia tone) Picture of Kade walking down the street with no backpack. Two men in the foreground holding betting slips. There is a betting booth in the background. (You never mentioned a backpack. It seems like saying ‘with no unicorn hat,‘ very random. Also, you have not provided a setting or any real detail about what this scene should look like.)  

KADE (NB)(I am not familiar with this parenthetical notation) (Just like Michael Jackson used to say: You Are Not Alone. Anyway, could it be “narration box”? Here’s the problem when you make things up on the fly—no one else knows what you’re talking about. Blathokarb! That means the art of farting in the wind. See what I mean?): TIMES WERE HARD.

MAN 1: I HEARD THE FIGHT IS RIGGED. CLAVICUS DOESNT(doesn’t) STAND A CHANCE. 

Panel 4: Same image, but has Kade running toward the booth. (Is this sepia tone?) (Why is he running? He was walking before.)

MAN 2: CLAVICUS OR KIMPO? YOU SAID CLAVICUS DOESNT(doesn’t) STAND A CHANCE.

MAN 1: OH. KIMPO, MY BAD.](Delete bracket. This section of dialogue is pretty remarkably not good. This is not how people talk to one another)

Panel 5: Picture of Kade standing at the booth. There is a super nasty hunched gypsy facing away and fiddling with something. Kade is holding one coin in his hand, but on the other side of the booth there is a bag of coins. He is staring at it. (Is this sepia? If you intend for this entire sequence to be colored differently then you should say that in the initial note. You don’t ever say if this gypsy is male or female in this paragraph. I do not understand what is supposed to be going on with the coins.)

Panel 6: The woman is facing him now and he is slamming down a handful of gold. She is looking up at him because he is short. In the background there is a sign that says CLAVICUS vs. KIMPO.(I think that you mean that she is short.) 

GYPSY: YOUR BET?

KADE: ALL ON…KIMPO.

GYPSY: IF YOU WIN THIS BET YOULL(you’ll) BE THE RICHEST MAN IN HOLDRUM.

KADE: I KNOW.

(And here begins the hackneyed attempt at a comedy of errors.)

Blah blah mother-stinking blah.

So, we’re in a sepia-toned flashback. What are we doing here? Seeing how he got into trouble. (And it is extremely hard for me to understand how there is no crime in the city if the fight is rigged (which is a crime), and if there is gambling going on. While gambling itself isn’t a crime, depending on the rules you set up, if the civilization has developed gambling, it has developed crime. If there was no crime, there wouldn’t be a need for law enforcement, as I said. It just isn’t making any sense.)

The story is about a guy trying to clear his name, but of what? Loitering. So he wants to clear his name of loitering, but admits to cheating and then attempting to murder someone? This makes sense where? I’m not seeing it.

This is just not good, by leaps and bounds.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 5: (Sepia tone)

Panel 1: Picture of Kade sitting in VIP seating on the coliseum. He has his arms around two pretty women, in white roman style robes. He is laughing.(What the heck does VIP seating in the coliseum look like? Is there a crowd behind him? I don’t think there is enough information here.)  

KADE: OH! OH! THE FIGHT IS ABOUT TO START! (Is he looking toward the arena? Why does he notice this?)

Panel 2: Zoom out side shot of the coliseum. On the left a jacked armored fighter. on the right a ragged skinny black slave. In the upper middle is a sub panel of Kade´s face. He has a surprised and inquisitive look. (The last two sentences are actually an inset panel, and as such, should be broken out into its own element (panel) so that the artist knows about it. Here, it’s extremely easy to overlook.)

ANNOUNCER: ON THE LEFT WE HAVE HOLDRUMS(Holdrum’s) VERY OWN UNDEFEATED CHAMPION.(Why is this period here?) CLAVICUS! AND ON THE RIGHT WE HAVE KIMPO…THE SLAVE! 

RANDOM VOICE IN THE STANDS: NO WONDER HE IS UNDEFEATED!

Panel 3: Picture of Clavicus pounding (somewhat like hulk smash) Kimpo into the ground. Subpanel of Lade(Kade) again, he has a look of despair. (Another inset panel that needs to be broken out.)

ANNOUNCER (IN THE TOP LEFT CORNER): FIGHT!

Panel 4: Picture of Kade screaming in mental agony(What is mental agony? How is it depicted differently from regular agony?). Behind him are two guards coming up. One is pointing at him. 

KADE: I DONT UNDERSTAND…CLAVICUS DIDNT STAND A…

GUARD: THATS(That’s) THE ONE. TAKE HIM.  (You know, punctuation is important. I feel a not-so-nice rant coming on…)

KADE: WHAT?!

Panel 5: Picture of Kade falling at the gypsy’s feet. You can see his back, but he is looking up at her. Booth in the background.(What do you have against complete sentences?)(The same thing he has against my sanity?)She looks mad. 

KADE: DOUBLE OR NOTHING?

Panel 6: Picture of him chained by her booth. (So, the booth has chained him…? That’s what you said.)

KADE: HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO PAY HER BACK? AT THIS RATE IT WILL TAKE ME LIKE…52 YEARS! (Why is he paying her back? From what I understand he bet the purse of coins on the loser, meaning it is forfeit after the loss. I do not understand what he owes her, or why she is angry.)(So, he bet on the loser, loses, and owes her? Yeah. It’s a good thing I slept, otherwise…conniption.)

(Why would the two men at the betting booth not know that the local champion always wins, why would this even merit conversation?)

Two things. I’ve taken a breath, as well as a nap, so this should be reasonable of me. It shouldn’t run into the range of outrage and hyperbole that it probably deserves. This is something of measured grace as I explain the affront you’re offering, and its effect upon those of us who respect the English language.

Punctuation. It’s important. Knowing how to use it is the province of the writer. You learned the simple things in school, like contractions, apostrophes, periods, commas, question marks and exclamation marks.

There are two things going on here. The first thing is you’re not using them seemingly at all. There is such a word as cant, which is why you don’t see the red line under the word. It’s spelled correctly, although used incorrectly. You’re looking for can’t, which is the contraction of cannot.

Because you’re not using the apostrophe at all (and using other punctuation incorrectly at time—I’m trying not to Hulk out on you over periods, which are—WHEW! That was close…), you’re also not using them in your dialogue. One of three things are going on here: you’re a storyteller, meaning that writing isn’t your thing and you’re just coming to it; you’re used to an autocorrect, and are surprised that it isn’t changing things for you, or you don’t know how to use your spellcheck, because it’s turned off when you go to all caps. Actually, it’s possibly a bit of all three.

Punctuation. It’s like this: you’re looking for a job, and every single mistake made is another barrier between you and getting that job. Which would you rather have the editor do: be distracted by your lack of understanding about punctuation, or be into the story and guiding you to where the story needs to be? The fewer things the editor has to do, the better job they’ll be able to do. The more you split their attention, the bigger chance you’re creating of them missing something.

Learn your punctuation.

The second thing: your story doesn’t work, because you obviously don’t understand anything about how betting works.

When you bet, you’re wagering on the outcome of a circumstance that can go in at least two different ways. In a fight, you’re betting on one person winning or another. If you put money on Fighter A and they lose, you have lost, too. This means you have lost your money. The only way you can owe someone something is if you made a bet with something you don’t have.

That didn’t happen here. He bet everything he had on the wrong fighter, and he lost. He doesn’t owe anyone anything, because he already put the money down. So the story doesn’t make any sense. It kinda hinges on that, and I really don’t understand how this lack of understanding happened. I’m only curious because I’ve had some rest while working on this. Otherwise, I’d really not care, and would only want to get through it and be done.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 6:

Panel 1: This should be a Double panel (I have no idea what this means.). Kade should be in the foreground on the left side. It should be a front shot of him sitting in an arm chair in front of a fire place(fireplace) that is not visible. But the colors should be black and red in the dying fire light. In the back left corner of the room should be a fat balding man in dirty rich clothes at a table, by him two prostitutes. The sub panel is an image, a close up of the noble from the chest up.(What type of building is this? A tavern? You never say, though. What is the Duke doing in this panel? Are the prostitutes old or young, male or female?) (So, Kade is in the foreground, on the left. Background, also on the left, is the duke. How are these people positioned? Is Kade facing the table, or the fire? Can he see the people in the back left from his position? You’re just writing, without really visualizing or stopping to see if this makes sense.)

KADE: CLEARLY(comma) IT HASN’T BEN(been) 52 YEARS AND I HAVE YET TO FIND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, BUT THE(that?) STORY WILL HAVE TO WAIT.(Suggest separate balloons) THAT’S “THE DUKE´´(these punctuation marks should be quotation marks, I think they are double apostrophes here.)(There’s no thinking. They are. It’s like an open invitation, and it’s a mighty struggle for me to resist.) THEY CALL HIM THAT…BECAUSE HE IS.

(Where the heck is panel 2? Did you really decide that a larger panel counts as two panels? Or are you counting the inset as panel 2? If that is what you are doing, you should number that panel separately, and write its description as a separate paragraph. There is no reason to skip around.)(See? And sometimes, I think people think it’s just me. It isn’t.)

Panel 3: Picture of Kade standing, pulling the straps tight on his backpack, which is now on his shoulders.

KADE: HE´S A FAT(comma) DEGENERATE NOBLE, DISGUSTING AND CORRUPT, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY I HAVE TO TALK TO HIM. IT´S HIM THAT’S GOING TO CLEAR MY NAME. (Wow. Mostly correct punctuation. Is this Heaven?)

Panel 4: Picture of the duke standing up and excusing himself. (This is a moving panel, especially with no dialogue. How is the reader supposed to know the duke is excusing himself?)

NO COPY

Panel 5: Picture of the duke at the door of the pub exiting. Kade is walking that way. Next to Kade is a drunk man sleeping at a table. He should have been visible in at least on previous panel.(Then tell your team that in those panel descriptions) Kade is swiping his cloak as he walks past. (This could be a moving panel. If this is from left to right, as written…then this panel is wrong. Where’s the camera? I believe this is explained backwards.)

KADE: I´LL JUST HAVE A WORD WITH HIM OUTSIDE AND GET HIM TO CLEAR MY NAME. IT´LL BE AS EASY AS…

Panel 6: Picture of Kade just outside the door of the pub. It’s a top view. He is in the middle of the panel and all you can see is empty cobblestone roads on both sides of him.

KADE: PIE…

(I feel like I have spent more time thinking about your script than you did. Don’t get me wrong, I think that you want to tell this story, but I don’t think that you have self-edited or revised this work.

There’s very little dialogue in this script, and the narration is difficult to connect to because it is all that is driving the story. I would like to see Kade have a conversation with something or someone soon.)

P6, and really, there isn’t anything new here. This page is really nothing more than a segue into something new, and while it’s okay, it doesn’t feel important. Necessary, but not important.

He’s chained to the booth, but he somehow escapes, tries to kill someone, and gets accused of loitering.

He leaves town, and instead of staying out (he did try to kill someone, after all), he comes back to clear his name of an insignificant crime. He risks being killed, imprisoned or enslaved for…what? I’m not seeing the upside for him. I’m not seeing the need to go back. He had a curse put on him. At least he has his life. This story doesn’t make any sense in the least. It’s a crime against my sanity.

Page 7: (Page break.)

Panel 1:Picture of Kade kneeling on one knee wearing the cloak. He has one hand on the ground, like a tracker.

KADE: TRACKING WAS NEVER MY STRONG POINT, BUT—

Panel 2: Picture of Kade´s face. His head is back, and hood fallen on his shoulders, he is sniffing the air.

KADE: MY SIXTH SENCE(sense) IS GIVING ME A LEAD.(Smell is one of the five senses. Intuition is the “sixth.” Sniffing the air does not equal extra sensory perception.)

Panel 3: Kade Climbing a wall. The wall is a 2 story building, with a small window on the second floor that is brightly lit and glowing in the night. There is no balcony, only a small ledge to stand on. The houses should be wall to wall.(Which wall is he climbing on the house? What is he using to climb?)(Writing without visualizing. If the houses are wall to wall, this means they’re touching. Which house wall is he climbing? Which does he need to get to? Not enough information here. Writing without visualizing.)

Panel 4: Picture of Kade standing on the ledge looking through the window.

KADE: WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE?

Panel 5: This shows the contents of the lit room. It’s a women’s bathing house. There should be multiple attractive women, but they should be covered by steam and water, it should be mildly attractive, but family friendly.(Ah, yes. The age old family friendly women’s bath house, a classic setting. Nothing says general audience like naked ladies covered in steam and water. Also, I am glad family friendly images can still be mildly attractive. Sorry I know I am going off here, but this really needs to be reworded.)

Panel 6: Zoom out of panel 4. Above Kade´s head a sign that reads “MADAM XANA´S WOMENS(women’s) BATHING HOUSE´´.(Use quotation marks.) (That sign? Magically delicious. It just appeared out of nowhere. We should have been able to see that sign before.)

KADE: I KNOW HOW BAD THIS LOOKS, BUT I HAVE TO OBSERVE FOR ANY CLUES OF THE DUKE´S WHEREABOUTS.(This line is terrible.)

I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s almost over. This stopped making sense on P2.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 8:

Panel 1: Same image from page7 panel 6.(Why?)

KADE: BY THE WAY, THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT WHY I AM CURRENTLY WANTED FOR LOITERING, CUZ I HAVE TOTALLY NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE…

Panel 2: Picture of a woman pushed up against the wall. A forearm against her throat. The girl has clean straight black hair. The other arm should have a knife.(Well this seems to come out of nowhere.)

NO COPY

Panel 3: Kade is no longer looking through the window, but is flat against the wall blending into the shadows. There should be a small sub panel in the bottom right corner of his foot with the ledge breaking under it. (Of course it does. I’m still waiting for something unexpected to happen.)

KADE: LIKE I SAID, I LIKE TO HELP THOSE IN NEED, AND I FULLY PLAN TO CONTINUE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME. THIS GUY HAS A KNIFE, IF I DIE<(delete this punctuation) I CANT(can’t) EXACTLY GO ABOUT HELPING PEOPLE. (How does he know the guy has a knife? What has been done to gain his attention to the assault below him? I’m flabbergasted.)

Panel 4: This should be a straight shot of the woman with her back to the wall. In front of her, movement lines of Kade falling, and at the bottom of the panel, should show Kade´s feet still falling. (I am not sure that the motion lines make sense with the feet at the bottom of the panel. Maybe I am not seeing it as you intended.)(You have no fricken idea as to what the hell you’re talking about. You have no understanding of physics. You have no understanding of spacial relationships. You have no understanding of storytelling. You have no understanding of getting your ideas across in an intelligible manner.

Here’s what you want: woman against the wall, motion lines in front of her, Kade’s feet at the bottom of the panel. The impression is that Kade fell on top of the unseen assailant.

Spatial relationships.

Let’s say that Kade is as tall as the woman. In order to see only his feet at the bottom of the panel, we have to see a decent portion of the woman, but still be up high enough to give the indication that the guy is beneath him. I don’t think that’s possible.

He was standing on the ledge. The ledge predictably starts to break beneath him. This means he should fall straight down, or maybe even fall backwards. You make it seem like he jumped face first to land on the guy. Where is there enough space to fit two bodies? He doesn’t have time to jump and fall face first. Not from the second story. Especially not if he’s unaware of the ledge breaking. (What happened to that by the way? Did the masonry fall, too, or was it just him?)

This is just bad storytelling.)

KADE: AAAGGH!

Panel 5: Picture of Kade brushing himself off, the attacker lying face down in the road, the woman still against the wall. Kade should have a hand on the mans shoulder.(Oh, I thought this was happening in the bath house. You have to tell your team that it is happening on the street below Kade when you first mention the scenario.) (Because for a city that has no crime, knife assaults happen on the street all the time… Not even in a convenient alley. Now, is Kade standing or is he still on the ground? Is he brushing himself off, or does he have a hand on the guy’s shoulder? How much more strength do I have to continue this?)

KADE: I´M SO SORRY. I DIDN’T MEAN TO…

Panel 6: Side shot of that should show the duke. Kade rolled him over. The shot should show just enough to show the knife in the dukes chest. The duke had a cloak through all this.(Then introduce the cloak when you introduce the character. You can tell your team that this is the Duke, they need to know so that the illustrations will be consistent, you are not writing this script to entertain your team, it’s purpose is to inform them.) (Physics. It isn’t your friend. If anyone should be stabbed, it should be Kade. I don’t even have the strength to go into it.

Maybe the gypsy curse is on me?

Maybe the curse is to have Kade be in unlikely situations in which he continues to survive?)

KADE: OF COURSE.

Steve! Steve Colle. PLEASE summarize this page. I don’t have the strength right now.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

Page 9: The lighting should be early morning now, orange light peeping over the horizon.

Panel 1: Picture of the girl still standing against the wall. Kade should be visible.(This is not enough information. What is this girl doing? What is he doing? How are they positioned in relationship to one another?)

GIRL: YOU SAVED ME.(delete period, add comma) BUT WHERE DID YOU COME FROM,(delete comma, add question mark) I DIDN’T SEE ANYONE IN THE ROAD?(delete question mark, add period.)

Panel 2: Zoom out showing her still but showing the second floor and bath house sign.

KADE: WELL…I…UHH…THE ROOFTOPS. I WAS ON THE ROOFTOPS WATCHING THE STREETS.

GIRL: WELL, THANK YOU FOR SAVING ME. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO FOR YOU?

Panel 3: Close up on her breasts.

NO COPY

Panel 4: Kade waving his hand to signal no. The girl is on his right.

KADE: TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE ONLY THING I WANT IS TO GET MY NAME CLEARED.

GIRL: YOU´RE THE WANTED MAN FROM THE POSTER. HM… }(Hmm has at least two ‘m’s.’ Delete bracket.) WHY DON’T YOU FOLLOW ME TO THE CASTLE.(delete period, add question mark.) (How about making the characters act, and have their actions reflect their dialogue?)

Panel 5: Kade laughing ridiculously loudly. He is leaning back somewhat with his hands on his belly and his head tipped back, mouth wide open.

KADE: HAHAHAHAHA, WHY? SO YOU CAN TURN ME IN? I DON’T THINK SO.

Panel 6: Picture of the two of them again, her on the left looking forward, him on the right. It should be a side shot, Kade open mouthed in surprise.

GIRL: NO SILLY, I´M THE PRINCESS.

KADES PANTS: BFFT!(Why are his pants talking?) (Was that supposed to be a fart?)

(I am stopping here because we have a big scene change coming on page 10. (RELIEF!)

I do have to tell you, something about this story and this character remind me a little of Flynn Rider in Disney’s ‘Tangled.’ It may just be helpful to be aware of that going forward.

You have to tidy up this writing. It is not at a level that allows the story you want to tell to come through easily. Misspelled words are underlined in red, it’s hard not to notice them. Your descriptions have to be fleshed out, there is simply not enough information in them.)

Let’s run this down, so I can run away and get a drank! (Because a drink just won’t do!)

Format: Missing page breaks and putting your inset panels in your panel descriptions means I can’t give you the flawless victory you’re looking for.

Panel Descriptions: These do not have enough information to give the artist a sense of what’s going on. You have to understand physics and spacial relationships. You have to do this so that your artist can know what the hell is going on. You didn’t do that. You didn’t come close to that.

There’s a lot of red up there. I’m not going to rehash it down here. You have a lot of work ahead of you.

Pacing: Not bad. I’m not going to call it good, but I will definitely say not bad. There’s a point where it seems like there’s a piece missing—why the gypsy went to get him doesn’t make sense, but there could have been another reason besides losing the bet. I’m hoping there’s another reason besides losing the bet.

Dialogue: I’m not a fan of Kade talking almost exclusively to the audience. Doesn’t mean it isn’t “good.” There are some predictable and sometimes painful exchanges that go on, but the dialogue is generally serviceable.

Punctuation within the dialogue is something you have to watch out for, though. Within the panel descriptions, while important, aren’t as important as within the dialogue. It isn’t the letterer’s job to fix the dialogue, to include the punctuation. Part of that is on the editor, but you should be the first person to fix those issues before it goes to editorial. Don’t drive your editor crazy with stupid stuff you can fix yourself.

Content: This is worse than crap. This is a full-on frontal attack on my sanity, and I don’t like it.

Just because it seems like your story is missing something, doesn’t mean that it is. Your story falls down on a number of points.

The first is that you say there’s no crime in the city, but there is a sheriff, so there’s some crime, and there is gambling, which also means there is some crime.

Your character admits to trying to kill someone after doublecrossing them, and returns to the city anyway.

Your character makes a bet with money, but is then captured by the bookie for losing the bet. This makes no sense, is the crux of the story, and without it, the entire thing falls down.

Because there’s no reason for him to be captured, your story has no reason for being. How this was missed in the writing is beyond me. If I were reading this for pleasure…there wouldn’t be any.

Editorially, this needs to be scrapped and started over from the beginning. Your story needs a reason, you need to stop writing without visualizing, and you need to get to the point quicker. The story needs to be plausible.

You have a lot of work ahead of you.

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.

 

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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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