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TPG Week 207: Oscillations

| December 12, 2014

 

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Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in James Palmer. He’s doing something we don’t see to often here at TPG—he’s using a licensed character. We’ve got Samantha LeBas in the svelte purple, I’m in the fattening red, and we see how James handles

Rom, Spaceknight in The Return

PAGE 1

 

SPLASH PANEL 1(Nope. Not ‘splash panel’. ‘Large’ panel, sure, but not ‘splash’ panel.)(I don’t have much of a problem with this. The verbiage shows a lack of study, but the artist should know what’s meant.)

 

 

In the center of a star field, a golden planet hangs, wreathed in clouds.

 

CAPTION

The planet Galador.

CAPTION

A forgotten world, it was once decimated by fearsome, shape-shifting entities known as(comma) the Dire Wraiths. (I wouldn’t add a comma there.)

CAPTION

These creatures were eventually destroyed by a group of brave Galadorians and their leader, who gave up their humanity to become a powerful protective force known as…

PANEL 2

Zoom in a little closer(just a little?) to reveal the outlines of magnificent buildings and spindly skyscrapers.(Is this meant to be a skyline or more an image from a satellite?) (That’s not the real question. The real question is the position of the panel. Is this an inset, or is it a small panel on the outside of the larger one? Depending on the size of this panel, the first one is no longer a splash.)

 

CAPTION

The Spaceknights!(F. Scott Fitzgerald said, exclamation points are like laughing at your own jokes. I have to agree here, but it’s not technically wrong.)

 

(This page is problematic for a number of reasons. Firstly, Galadorians are not human, therefore the idea that they are endowed with humanity is questionable. (This is a weak argument. Superman isn’t human, but no one will ever seriously question his humanity.) Secondly, we don’t have images to associate with either the Galadorians or the Dire Wraiths. Thirdly, you make it seem as though you are siding with the Spaceknights, but say they lack humanity. I am not sure if that is a good way to ingratiate this force to your audience. Assuming readers are unfamiliar with this mythos, you might need to do a little more work to sell this planet’s inhabitants as sympathetic. Lastly, there is no reason to turn the page. You have given us context without narrative or character and hung your hat on it, assuming that a strange planet and a skyline are enough to make us want to continue reading, I don’t think you’re right. I feel like we should see a Spaceknight when you say Spaceknight, etc., but maybe I am being too literal.)

 

P1 is done!

 

P1 is also rather weak. Like Sam says, there’s no reason to turn the page. But let’s get to some other things first.

 

The lack of study for verbiage is only a little worrisome. Hopefully, it won’t turn into a full-blown thing where I have to bring out the bash-hammer ®. Here’s hoping.

 

The panel descriptions are a tad weak. The good news is that there isn’t much to show. The bad news is that the descriptions themselves are telling me that the writer is going to wax prosaic. Then, maybe, the bash-hammer ®. We’ll see what happens.

 

The biggest thing, though, is that there’s nothing happening on this page to make the reader want to move further. You’ve got the planet, you’ve got the tale of what happened…you’ve told the whole story. What’s left to tell?

 

Nothing.

 

The captions aren’t doing you any favors. This is a story that’s being told to us via a narrator. The story being told, as simply as it is, isn’t interesting. All the flavor has been taken out of it. You have to give us more information, but I’m not seeing how you can.

 

Here’s my belief when it comes to splash pages: they have to be reserved for a dramatic moment. There’s no drama about a planet seen from space. There is nothing visually powerful about this. This should have been at least a three-panel page. Get readers invested. Sure, I know about Rom, because I grew up with him. Even had the toy. But there’s a new crop of readers who don’t know the character, and they have to be introduced to him. This isn’t the way to do it.

 

I also believe that writers have to earn the use of a splash page (and the reader has to rewarded by it). This means you have to work up to it. I don’t recommend new writers to start out with a splash page. You haven’t earned it, and you generally misuse it (like here).

 

There’s also a dearth of words to read here. Not fun. You need to add more words that are both interesting and germane to the story.

 

 

(INSERT PAGE BREAK) (And there goes the Flawless Victory.)

PAGE 2

 

PANEL 1

 

Zoom in on one city to show the buildings in more detail, gleaming metal, sky bridges, and people, men, women and children, going about their day in bright, colorful clothing. They are talking, laughing, playing.

 

CAPTION

But now it has been reborn!(And another exclamation point… What has been reborn? The planet? The knights? The humanity?) (The planet. It was decimated. Sticklers will get on you about the incorrect usage of the word “decimate,” but I’m not one of those people.)

 

PANEL 2

Exterior of a large golden building, with a wide walkway leading up to it. On the edges of the walkway, spaced at intervals, are tall, stone statues of the Spaceknights, standing as if they are still protecting the people of Galador. The last of the statues, standing taller than the rest and near the entrance to the golden building, is a statue of Rom.

 

CAPTION

The Palace of Galador, home to their leader Rom and his bride, the human(comma)Brandy Clark. (I wouldn’t add a comma there. I wouldn’t call her human, either. Instead, I’d have said she’s from Earth. That gets in the fact she’s human without using the word again, since you’ve already used a form of it in humanity.)

PANEL 3

Cut to interior of the palace, in a vast room with a large window or balcony overlooking the Galadorian capital city. Two figures stand close to each other, looking out the window.(Are we facing them, or is this OTS?)

 

BRANDY: Oh Rom, it’s so beautiful.(delete period, add comma, lowercase ‘s’) So peaceful. To think we built it up from practically nothing. (Leave the period, add a comma after “oh.” That’s where your comma-fail is. I’d also think about breaking that last sentence into its own balloon.)

PANEL 4

Rom places his hand on Brandy’s shoulder. He is smiling.(Where is the camera, is Brandy’s face in this shot? How is she reacting?) (Melodramatic claptrap. Hand on the shoulder of the woman he loves? Crap. Reminds me of Return of the Jedi, when Luke talks to Leia right before he goes to Vader.)

 

ROM: Yes, darling. It was an amazing feat.(This is all one sentence) Of course, we had a little help from Galadorian science. But everything is now as it was before the Dire Wraiths came.(This is also one sentence.) (This is also terrible, terrible dialogue.)

 

(We need to talk about sentence fragments. Because you are. Yes, you. Making a lot of errors. But maybe it’s intentional? Seriously, though, you are not writing complete sentences, and in addition to being incorrect, it makes the dialogue unnecessarily choppy.)

 

P2, and this isn’t going well.

 

Things aren’t going well. And it’s the writer’s fault.

 

Here’s what I’m happy about, though: these panels can be drawn. I can “see” something of what these places look like. That’s always a good thing. Good work on that.

 

The bad news? There’s still nothing to draw the reader. Even worse, the writing is an active turn-off, because it’s crap. (No, this is a different kind of crap than usual. I’m not calling the entire piece crap. Here, I’m saying that the dialogue has to be torn out wholesale and redone, because you’re going to give readers tummy-aches. I’m getting one now.)

 

There was a time when storytelling of this sort was acceptable. This still isn’t good—those writers knew how to tell a story—but storytelling of this kind was definitely more in style. You’re not going to be able to bring this back, though. No one wants to see it.

 

And what’s being said on P2? Nothing. Nothing at all. You’ve got four panels here, and you’ve done nothing with them.

 

Actually, one of these two pages are padding. I can’t decide which.

 

That’s a lie. I just lied to you, and I apologize. P1 is padding. These two pages could be combined to a six-panel page, and as long as there’s some reason to actually turn the page (given in the dialogue), this single page could be worthy. Right now, though, this isn’t cutting the mustard.

 

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

 

PAGE 3

 

PANEL 1

Close-up of Brandy Clark. Her curly brown hair is now long, and she wears a diaphanous(*Let’s come back to this.) golden gown. (Wait. What was her hair before? Was it short? I’m lost…)

 

BRANDY: It was worth it. All the sacrifices…

PANEL 2

 

Her face takes on a sad look, and we see a panel of her fighting alongside Rom Spaceknight as Starshine, killing Dire Wraiths that lunge for them.(So is this one panel, or two? Your wording is confusing. Is this meant to show her face and the flashback? How should it be indicated that this is panel is a flashback?) (Confusing, yes, but I get a sense of what’s being said. Luke Pierce: fix this, and add the thing that James forgot.)

 

BRANDY: All the lives lost…

PANEL 4

Rom takes his hand off her shoulder. (I could call this a moving panel. Why this panel, Felix, and not the one where he places it on her shoulder?)

 

ROM: Some brave souls lost their lives, all so we could live on Galador in peace once again. (I just puked. You now owe me breakfast.)

PANEL 5

Rom walks away from her.

 

ROM: (thinking) But this peace may have come at a price. Once shrouded in little more than legend, Galador is starting to attract undue attention.

 

PANEL 6

A robed attendant comes in, a tablet-like device in his hands.(Name him here.) (Comes in from where? This is a moving panel, and is devoid of details, too.)

 

VOREX: Rom, my liege. We have just received another communication from a race of beings calling themselves Skrulls. They want to enter trade agreements.

 

(Okay, so back to my note earlier. I like the specificity of that word, but I question it’s effectiveness here. I would suggest that when you reach for a word that is a little outside of the average vernacular, you give that word some help, a buddy word that can carry context and remind readers of the more obscure word’s meaning. In the example above, I would suggest adding ‘guazy’ to the phrase ‘diaphanous gown’. Keep that specific feeling, while making certain your point comes across.)

 

P3, and we’re still nowhere.

 

The panel count continues to rise, and I’m happy about that. The bad thing is that we have a couple of moving panels in there, and nothing of merit actually happens. Nothing of merit, and definitely nothing of interest. But that’s not the worst part.

 

The dialogue is killing me.

 

It makes sense. I don’t have much of a problem with punctuation. My real problem is what’s being said, and how it’s being said.

 

This is melodramatic, and as such, is hurtful to read. It’s not wretched, thankfully. It just makes me want to punt a kitten or three.

 

Dialogue should do one of two things: reveal character or move the story forward. There isn’t any forward movement of story until the last two panels (and even that is weak), and all the rest is wallowing in the past, and done badly.

 

I tell this to my clients from time to time: I’m only going to use the dialogue as placeholders, until we can get some real stuff in there. Right now, this is just ineffective.

 

Then, you’re trying to get a hook in there. A reason to turn the page. I get it. However, it’s ham-fisted and also ineffective. There’s no reason whatsoever for the reader to turn the page. You’re reaching for it, though, and that is something I can appreciate. You just need to work harder at it.

 

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

 

PAGE 4

 

PANEL 1

Rom waves his hand at the attendant, his face looking grim.

 

VOREX: Sire, what are Skrulls? (What’s the logic hole here, Schuyler?)

 

ROM: Just ignore them. As usual.(You know how I feel about those sentence fragments.)

 

ROM: (thinking) I am afraid we cannot remain unnoticed forever. (Is this an internal monologue? Like a caption?) (No. Not a caption. Thought balloons.)

 

PANEL 2

Rom continues walking, followed close by the attendant, who hurries to catch up.(So, Rom starts walking away from Brandy on the previous page. From the way you have described the room, it seems like he would be walking toward the door where Vorex enters, in order for him to be far enough ahead of Vorex for him to need to catch up, he’d have to exit the room, wouldn’t he? You need to provide some detail that better situates the characters in their environment.) (Moving panel.)

 

VOREX: Rom, the Watchers report no sign of Dire Wraith activity.(Would he call Rom by name?) (No, I don’t think he would, especially since he just called him “sire.” And maybe I’m out of the loop a bit, but since when do the Watchers act as a reporting agency? They don’t. This is bad storytelling.)

 

ROM: Good. Thank you, Vorex. That will be all.

PANEL 3

 

Frontal view of Rom as he pushes open a set of double doors.

ROM: (thinking) My fear is not the Dire Wraiths…

PANEL 4

 

Space. A close shot of stars with the curve of Galador in the bottom left corner.

 

NO COPY

 

PANEL 5

 

Identical view to the one before, only this time there is a flash of bright white light. (Where does this light come from? What does it look like? How large is the flash in relationship to the planet?)

 

NO COPY

PANEL 6

Close-up showing the source of the flash, a wispy being with oddly bent legs and a long frill atop its head that goes down its back.(Tell us who this is, and where he is.)

CAPTION (ROM) (This isn’t technically a cap, it’s OP dialogue.) (Ah! The problem is you’re both wrong, Sam more than James. Here’s the reason why: James set up thought balloons and not captions for an internal monologue. That’s great. I can get behind that. We need more thought balloons in modern comics. However, there’s also the fact that these thought balloons are only there when Rom is present on-panel, as they should be. Since he’s only thinking to himself, this isn’t OP dialogue. It should still be a caption, but there shouldn’t be any quotation marks. The quotation marks means he’s speaking out loud, and he isn’t. The caption, colored differently and possibly with his spaceknight Rom-head on it, would let the reader know it’s his thoughts, and not the caption of the narrator. That’s what I would suggest, anyway.)

“…My fear is that there are worse things out there than the Dire Wraiths.” (You have a problem with pacing. Thoughts come complete, and are only interrupted by another thought, dialogue, or action. There’s nothing happening to warrant an interruption, thus, pacing problem.)

 

(I am guessing that you continue to show the planet to reinforce the large scope of the story, and to highlight that this is cosmic/outer space style adventure. I think there are more important things to address, and more crucial ideas to build upon. You have to build characters and stakes, and I am skeptical about how effective cityscape and the planet itself are in doing so. How does a shot of the planet help us care?)

 

So, we’re on P4, and we finally have some forward movement. We have some character development, in Rom showing that he cares about his home (the entire planet, not just a city), and we have some plot development with the introduction of another character.

 

The problem now is pacing, and a logic hole that Schuyler should clear up for us. Some of it is bad storytelling, but at least it’s something we can follow.

 

I want all of you to understand something: dialogue is relatively easy to fix. Even though it feels like I’d lose my entire mind, I’d much rather deal with bad dialogue than with a writer who can’t tell a good story.

 

I had a client who wanted to tell a story about a forgotten god coming to possess a human and save the Earth from another god that was going to cause a meteor storm. It was all kinds of crap: they had to reformat the script in order to make it artist friendly, then they had to rewrite the story a few times in order for it to make sense. Every time I got a draft back, I died a little inside, because the story was just a total mess, with dialogue that made me want to stab myself in the brain with a bulldozer. It just wasn’t going to be a good book.

 

This story is nowhere near as bad as that. However, this piquing of curiosity should have happened on P2, P3 at the latest.

 

Pacing. It’s killing you. Me? It’s only driving me slightly mad. I’ll still be living at the end of this.

 

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

 

PAGE 5

 

PANEL 1

 

Shows the glowing being in more detail.(Where is he?) (Hopefully in space, but there’s no guarantee. That means you didn’t do your job, James. Also, let the artist know who this is. They’re going to be drawing the character, yes? They’re going to need to know what to draw.)

 

CAPTION

Stardust, current herald of the world-eater Galactus. (This info should have been given to the artist in the last panel of the previous page.)

PANEL 2

 

Stardust looks down at the planet turning beneath its feet.(This is hard for me to imagine. Is he floating in space? How can we see an entire planet and a creature that I assume is roughly the size of a human? Seems he would have to be pretty far away, how does he know that this planet is suitable for his agenda from such a distance? I thought the flash was meant to be like a comet tail, showing him entering the atmosphere of Galador. If it isn’t, what is it meant to signify?)

 

STARDUST: Another world ripe for the picking. The Master hungers. He will be pleased. (Spaceknights, Watchers, Skrulls, and now Galactus… Where’s the partridge in the pear tree?)

 

PANEL 3

 

Stardust extends his right hand toward deep space and sends out a beam of white energy.

 

CAPTION

Stardust alerts his master that another suitable world has been found. (This is a perfect example of telling when you should be showing.)(This is a perfect example of bad writing, is what Sam is too kind to say.)

PANEL 4

 

Pull back to show whole planet, and Stardust as a white streak that falls toward the golden orb of Galador like a comet.(Ah, okay, here’s the comet-flash. What was that first one about?)

 

(You are communicating a lot with flashes of light, or attempting to do so. Make sure you are clear on the intention of each visual element you call for in the script, and that you have explained it well enough that each member of your team understands that as well. )

 

P5, and we’re back to bad storytelling.

 

I think this is going to be a story of oscillations: bad storytelling to bad pacing.

 

There really isn’t all that much to this page, except Stardust. I don’t know the character’s powers, so I don’t know if teleportation is in their power set. Every one of Galactus’ heralds are a threat, but I don’t know how much of a threat this one poses. The Silver Surfer was always the best, but personally, I’ve always been partial to Terrax.

 

So, this page pushes the threat that was promised in the previous page. To go from the Dire Wraiths to Galactus in one fell swoop seems extremely ambitious, since not many characters or teams can repel the world-eater. The spaceknights, for all their heroism, really don’t stack up. From a storytelling perspective, this really only leaves one of two choices: Rom becomes a guest in his own book, or Galador gets eaten. I don’t see the third option of the spaceknights repelling Galactus as a viable option.

 

The big thing for this page, though, is to let the artist in on who’s appearing in the panels. They’re not the audience. They’re your partner. Some writers tend to forget that.

 

I read a script once, many, many moons ago, that I thought was just very masterfully done. Reading the script, I was transported. It was a Batman tale, and even though it was in a common format, it read very much like a prose story. The young and inexperienced me loved it.

 

The current and better informed me would probably rip the writer a new one, because the script (from what I remember of it) wasn’t very useful to the artist.

 

Be useful to your artists, writers.

 

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

PAGE 6

PANEL 1

Groups of people looking into the sky and pointing.(James… James, James, James. You know this is not enough information. How many people? Where are they? What types of people? Men, women, children? What are they wearing? What is the general feeling? Confusion, dread, curiosity? How far out is this shot? Can we see a skyline, or are we in tight on faces? This needs to be fleshed out, no one can read your mind.)

CAPTION

Several hours later: From all over Galador, reports of strange lights in the sky come flooding in.(Why not have someone say this? Show the reaction, relate the phenomenon to the world instead of just stating the obvious. Yes, it is obvious.)

PANEL 2

Rom is sitting at the end of a long table, at which sit his many attendants, scientists, and advisors.(How many? Are their ranks and/or professions visually distinct? What are the expressions like?)

 

CAPTION

The brightest minds on Galador convene to discuss how to best deal with this strange new threat. (The only thing we need now are earthquakes and the sun to explode, with the Last Child of Galador racing away in a tiny spaceship…)

VARIOUS ADVISORS SPEAK: …like a white flame.

It destroyed a Watcher lookout post!

perhaps the Wraiths have returned.

PANEL 3

Close-up of Rom, raising his hand for silence.(What’s his expression here?)

 

ROM: Enough. I will have order in these proceedings.(Suggest separating balloons.) Vorex, have we attempted to communicate with the…phenomena? (You’re going to communicate with something that caused a Watcher lookout post to be destroyed? Isn’t that kinda like trying to communicate with dynamite?)

PANEL 4

Close-up of Vorex.(No expression.)

 

VOREX: Yes, Rom. All attempts to contact the entity have been met with violence. (See? Dynamite… Really, this isn’t thought out well.)

PANEL 5

 

A dark-haired man sitting across from Vorex.(Name him, describe his expression.)

 

TELDAR: Liege, the people are scared. They don’t know what to think. What should we tell them?

PANEL 6

 

Shot from other end of the table, facing down the length of it to Rom. Every head is turned toward him.(And he has a blank, neutral expression, because you have not described it for us.)

 

ROM: Tell them not to panic. Remain indoors until further notice.(Join sentences.) That is all.

 

(Characters should act on every panel. I mean that they should emote. You are reluctant to describe expressions, but that’s a vital part of scripting. Especially in these talking scenes, you need to figure out what your characters’ faces are doing and tell your team about it. This gives readers insight into the personalities and intentions of your cast. This is not interesting without some sort of visible, recognizable reaction. You have to create empathy. Showing the emotional state of the characters is one effective way to do that.)

 

P6, and I think Sam summed it up nicely.

 

Without characters acting—emoting–you’re asking for a lot of stiff-looking people in the panel.

 

Remember that oscillation I talked about earlier? We’re back to the bad storytelling. There just isn’t enough here to really make this page work, and the things that are here are highly reminiscent of several different takes of the Kryptonian High Council as Jor El tried to get them to listen to reason.

 

Where are the spaceknights? You have all this “action” in space, but there’s no force able to meet it? You have a planet known for creating cyborgs that were capable of repelling a horde of invading Dire Wraiths, but where are they now?

 

This doesn’t ring true. The reason why?

 

Bad storytelling.

 

Basically, instead of telling a story that makes sense, you’re trying to force things to happen in order to pad the page count. Don’t do that. The story has to make sense before you start writing.

 

Now, if Rom calls upon a spaceknight to go check out what’s going on in space before Sam stops, I’m going to call this crap. Just to let you know. That’s fair, right?

 

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

 

 

PAGE 7

 

PANEL 1

 

Stardust lands in a central square near the palace, people running away from him. He points to the sky.(We need to know more about the people in this panel. All of the questions from page 6 panel 1 apply again.)(Moving panel.)

 

STARDUST: behold(CAPITALIZE the first word in a sentence.), people of Galador. Your doom approaches.(Join sentences.) (Remember, you owe me breakfast…)

PANEL 2

 

Every head turns to the sky, where a large shape enters the atmosphere. It is a giant sphere, the size of a small moon. The sky turns dark.(Moving panel? I think it is.) (No need to think it is. It is.)

 

CAPTION

The worldship of Galactus!(!) (You might owe me lunch, too. I’m too nauseous to think about food right now…)

Close-up of the sphere, where we see a door open in the side, and a dark shape emerge, casting a shadow covering miles of buildings.(Why is this not a numbered panel? What are you doing here?) (Just another reason to lose the Flawless Victory. But besides that—wow! Talk about something that just doesn’t make sense! Someone tell me why. I don’t care who.)

 

PANEL 3

 

Galactus emerges, standing on a platform extended from his worldship. Pieces of impossibly huge and intricate machinery hover in the air around him, enveloped in energy.

 

GALACTUS: I hunger! (Obviously, Galan, you haven’t read the story you’re in just as yet. You’ll get over that hunger soon. No worries. We’ll fix you right up.)

PANEL 4

 

Shot from overhead and just behind Galactus. We see from his point of view as the people of Galador run and scurry like ants.

 

GALACTUS: (thinking) This world is rich with life energies. Unfortunately for its inhabitants, but they are no concern of mine. I shall feast like never before.(Is this a caption?)(This…this is just bad writing.)

 

PANEL 5

We pull back. Galactus’s hands are outstretched, glowing with the power cosmic as he assembles the machine he uses to suck planets dry. Tiny dots of people are running for their lives far below.

 

GALACTUS: (thinking) They will flee their world or die. The choice is theirs.

 

CAPTION

Unbeknownst to Galactus, a third option is in the offing.

 

(You know when you can write a comic like this? When you have spent years proving how talented you are, and people scratch their eyeballs out because they are so excited that is the only logical reaction when they hear your name is attached to a B-title being ret-conned by the Big 2, that’s when. People who get away with this kind of storytelling know they have the readership to do so. They start a book with a 2 panel page without a single character or hint of a plot, because the issue is on a pull list and it will go home with fans and they will read it. They can make their point on page 12; you, oh lower echelon newcomer, have not earned that kind of faith. You have to do the leg work. You have to tell the story, and you have to do so in a way that earns you stripes, and proves you know how. Sometimes looking at big names on big titles telling big stories is counterproductive. You are studying the work of people who have earned the right to get away with a lot of things newer writers cannot afford. I strongly urge you to look at independent titles, or the earlier works of big-name writers as you continue to learn. [We should all continue to learn, that isn’t a jab at you.] Look at the way the audience is engaged when it cannot be assumed that there will be an audience.)

 

P7, and we’re back to bad pacing.

 

Just like a pendulum, it swings back and forth. However, at least this isn’t crap.

 

You’re drawing things out, and it’s a terrible sight to behold. It isn’t interesting, because you’re not having the characters do anything interesting at all. Galactus prepares to eat the planet. Okay, so? He’s going to give some thought to the sentient life on the planet? No. He’s been doing this for a very long time. There’s no need for him to think about them. And to drag it out over several panels isn’t grand. It’s boring, because you haven’t built up to it.

 

Pendulum. Not good.

 

Let’s run it down.

 

Format: No Flawless Victory for you. The biggest reason writers lose the FV is due to lack of page breaks. Help the entire team out. Put them in.

 

As for that floating panel description? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s a mistake. I’m going to say that you rewrote that part, but forgot to edit it out. I say that because that floater and the next numbered panel description are very similar. So, that’s me giving the benefit of the doubt. Don’t confirm or deny. Just take it and run.

 

Panel Descriptions: These need work. You have to watch for moving panels, and you have to give the characters emotions. Facial expressions are key. You fix those two problems, and you’re on your way to having a story being able to be drawn.

 

Pacing: This is the first of your really big problems. The pacing here is terrible. Seven pages, and not much happens. You could cut this down to maybe three or four pages of actual story. Not good.

 

How do you work on your timing? The first thing is to understand the balance between the number of panels on a page and the amount of dialogue a panel can hold. Then, you have to couple that with dialogue that actually says something, and actions that have actual meanings. Once you learn that, you’ll be well on your way to telling a story that works. Right now, you’re still working out the kinks.

 

Also, don’t waste space with large panels that aren’t doing anything, like P1. The first page was nearly a crime. If it were silent, then I would have called it criminal. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

 

Dialogue: It’s been a while since I’ve read dialogue that was close. Some of it was unusable crap and wouldn’t be fit to speak of in polite company, and other parts were semi-decent. There wasn’t a lot of dialogue here—less than there should be, really—and a good portion of what’s here was just bad because you were trying to fill space without knowing what you wanted to say.

 

You were driving Sam crazy with the choppy dialogue. It didn’t bother me overmuch. At least things were spelled correctly, and had good punctuation.

 

The real thing, though, was the fact that the dialogue didn’t have the impact it should have. You used the word “diaphanous” well in the panel descriptions, but didn’t extend that vocabulary to the dialogue. You should have. I think it would have served you well.

 

And you have the space to put a lot more words in there. As long as the dialogue either revealed character or moved the plot along, it would be welcome to read. Don’t go with a 70s or 80s style of writing, though. You’re not going to help your cause if you do.

 

Content: This isn’t a good story. As a reader, I’d be upset if I plunked down my money and got this in return. There’s an idea here, but you’re taking too long to get to the point without being interesting. And then when you try to be interesting with things like foreshadowing, it’s ham-fisted.

 

Editorially, this needs a rewrite in order to tighten it up. More thought needs to go into it, with more dialogue. Some sense needs to be made out of some of the elements. Once that’s done, I think you’d have a decent tale here.

 

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

 

Like what you see? Sam, Liam and I are available for your editing needs. You can email Sam here and Liam 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 [email protected] for rate inquiries.

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