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TPG Week 213: Stories Need True Endings

| January 23, 2015

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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 Yonatan Schultz! We also have Samantha LeBas in purple, I’m the overly-mellow guy in red, and we all get to see how Yonatan handles

She

Before we get started… Yup! This script is at an 11. It kinda just screams out at you. I bumped it to 12. You’re all welcome.

compliment (This is the first word that showed up. I have no idea why it’s here.)

Synopsis:

A coming of age adventure story set in the Northwest. A young woman, working in a greasy spoon cafe meets an exciting, Vespa riding androgynous Sidhe. It(I am gonna stop you right here… we’ll come back to this) convinces her to run off with them by showing her a preview of what her life might be like if she stays.

As they travel, the androgen tells her about its life back home and of its quest to return there. They bond and it draws her deep into the woods and into a fairy ring.

There, it transforms into a hideous Sidhe. The girl tries to run but is caught and killed. Her blood opens a gate from our world to the world of the Sidhe. At last, the Sidhe is able to return home.

(As promised: Yonaton, Yoni, can I call you, Yoni? Yoni, I want to prevent you from hearing it from someone else, excuse me as I step up on my soapbox, we need to talk about gender representation in comics. Okay, so, you are dealing with the the subject of gender directly. This means that you are going to draw an audience that is aware of and interested in gender issues. That means that you will be held accountable for your personal representation of gender. I understand that this character is kind of an otherworldly creature, but you really shouldn’t call that creature ‘it’. Your desire to differintiate between this androgen and the rest of your cast is understandable, and I think it’s fine to do so, but… BUT, some trans people consider ‘it’ a hate term. You might read about specific cases or people who choose ‘it’ as their personal pronoun, you might even know a few, but I would caution you against the use of this pronoun. Instead I suggest that you consult this nifty difty chart and select another, less potentially volitale pronoun for this character. This seems trivial, I know. However, the representation of the trans community in comics is a hot-button issue [Google ‘Batgirl #37 response’, and see for yourself] and I think it is best to avoid contreversy when it is not necessary. Make a note, Yoni [and really, all you writers out there] when you directly address a minority community, you should be aware of the issues and concerns of that community. Insensitivity or lack of awareness might be the thing holds you back, and there are enough obstacles out there already.)

Two things.

First, I usually would have cut out the summary that’s here. If you have to summarize a short story before anyone’s read it—you’ve already failed. Especially for TPG. However, this leads directly to the second point.

Sam is extremely correct when it comes to gender identification. Even moreso than politics and religion, gender identification is extremely personal. It’s part of the essence of who you are. It’s integral to how you identify yourself not just to the world, but to yourself. I, personally, cannot imagine the turmoil some people must feel to wake up every day in a body they don’t feel is “theirs.” Like their gender is wrong. However, just because I can’t imagine it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. And I’m not just talking about crossdressing. I’m talking about going so far as to change your sex. Not just male to female, but female to male, too. (It isn’t as prevalent, but it does happen. Ask Cher. She had a daughter, now she has a son.)

Tricky stuff, and it can open you up to a lot of rage. Something to be aware of.

On with the show.

PAGE ONE (three panels)

Panel 1. External shot of a diner set in a double(hyphen) wide trailer. Nothing else around except for a gas station and some mobile homes in the distance. The parking lot is gravel. The countryside is green, like the Northwest coast. (Double-wide trailer? hmm. I think you *might* be referring to the traditional ‘converted railcar/trolley’ look of diners, which is just an aesthetic. The shiny, silver appearance of these buildings makes them seem similar to Airstream trailers. A double-wide is going to look more like a residence, if that’s what you meant, my apologies.) (What time of day is it?)

NO COPY

Panel 2. The sound effect fills almost the entirely of the panel. Behind this is a figure riding an old steel body 60’s Vespa. Wearing a full face helmet. A bedroll and other camping gear strapped to the back.(Where is this character on panel?)

SFX:

VROOOOOOOOOOOOOM

Panel 3. External of the diner same or similar to Panel 1. On the left side of the panel we see our figure’s boot standing. We also see some of the scooter.

SFX:

KSSSSHHH

(Mysterious stranger rolls into town… Whether they are in a car, riding a horse, a motorcycle, or a sweet Vespa, we know they are bringing change and conflict. We’ve been taught to expect that, we are going to be a little curious. I always think about the iconic shot from The Exorcist. You know, where he gets out of the car and faces the house under the street lamp? That’s one of the best ‘oh, NOW it’s gettin’ real’ moments in film, this can be effective wherever it’s placed, if it’s done right. That’s as good an opening as any, but is there any reason we don’t see the Sidhe make it into the diner on this page? You don’t have to reveal the character, you shouldn’t that’s best done after a page turn, but why are you strecthing this out over another page?)

P1 is down!

For me, P1 fails immediately because it’s a silent page. I hate silent pages for new stories from new writers. There’s way too much story to tell and too much world to build to have a story start out on a silent page.

This is my own personal rule, and there are very few times when this can be broken. The biggest is when the image(s) itself is so emotionally powerful that words will only detract from it. Or, if the page is set up in such a way that not turning the page isn’t an option—you just have to find out what’s going on.

Neither of those things are happening here.

This page? This is full of “meh.” Establishing shot, and then the visual shortcut we’ve seen a fabillion times before. Does it have enough push to get someone to turn the page? No.

And panel 2 is weak. Having the entire panel being the sound effect, and it’s a scooter? It could be humorous, but it’s just going to be weird.

So, what do we know, after reading P1? Not a damned thing.

Hopefully, this doesn’t last for too long.

PAGE TWO (six panels)

Panel 1. Internal shot of the diner. we see some booths on the left. The door bangs open with our figure heading in quickly. The helmet is off, revealing a boyish girl or girlish boy with sharp features.

This is our Sidhe.

(Oh, you’re not stretching it out. You skipped it. We need to see this character enter the diner in order to make a concrete connection. I would even say we need to see the helmet come off, actually. There is no description of what is going on in the diner. How many people are there, what are they doing, etc? What is the Sidhe’s expression like? Where are they looking? What’s their body language like? So many unanswered questions.)

NO COPY

Panel 2. The figure throws itself down in a booth with a thud and grabs the menu.(Moving panel)

NO COPY

Panel 3. Shot of the Sidhe from across the table. The menu completely obscures its head.(If you want this shot to be wide enough for the waitress to walk into, you need to say that. We are going to need some room on the right.)

NO COPY

Panel 4. Same panel but on the right hand side we see a side profile of a waitress from the neck to the waist.

Her name is Lillyflower.

LILLYFLOWER:

Ahem.

Panel 5. A grinning face looks up from behind the menu.

SIDHE:

I’ll have the double bacon cheeseburger with ham, lettuce and japapenos.

LILLYFLOWER:

Jalapeños?(Is she OP or is this another repeat shot with a position change?)

SIDHE:

Yeah, whatever.

Panel 6. (Look, ma, no desciption! This is not gonna work.)

LILLYFLOWER: Ok, anything to dr–

(You have to write a description for every panel, even if it is just ‘repeat shot‘. There is no excuse not to do so.)

P2, and all is not well.

It’s time for me to go on a rant. Skip to the next page if you don’t want to hear it.

If you’re a new writer, a decent part of me hates you. More than half. The reason is simple: you’re damned lazy. You don’t want to do the work in order to better yourselves. Let me explain what “doing the work” means.

You want to write comics. How many books have you read about the subject? How many websites have you visited? How much work have you put in to try to understand what it is you’re wanting to do? If the answer is zero or close to it, then you’re the problem.

Effective scriptwriting is more difficult than drawing pretty pictures. As time intensive on the back end? Not at all. It doesn’t take any time at all to sit down and bang out a script. Chuck Austen, hack that he was, banged out a 22 page script in a few hours. (And Marvel published it.) So, in an actual “doing it” time ratio, it takes much longer to draw a script than to write it.

But what has to be done with that script? It’s the entire foundation for the story. You have to learn how to think in still images (this is a learned trait). You have to learn timing. You have to learn character and camera placement. You have to learn pacing. You have to learn economy of dialogue. You have to learn how to tell your story within a structure. You have to learn how to affect people with your words. You have to learn to take everything that you’ve learned and make it accessible to others on the team, so they can understand what you’re talking about. That’s a lot of learning in order to tell a story.

How much of yourself have you invested in it?

There are a LOT of new writers who see what we do here, think “free editing!”, and then want to get in on it, thinking they’re going to be different and get kudos, because everyone else has given them kudos for their efforts.

I don’t do that. I don’t give points for showing up. I’m more in the camp of Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” If you’re going to do it, then do it. Don’t just half-ass it.

Moving panels are something that a lot of writers struggle with. I can live with that, generally. What I can’t live with? Missing panel descriptions. It’s supposed to be there. We can all see it. However, it was just left. Anyone who thought that that wasn’t going to have something said about it doesn’t know me very well.

Here’s another thing that isn’t taken advantage of: the vast archive of scripts here. There are over 200 scripts in the archive that have editing notes on them. Some have more notes than others, and some pieces are better than others (depending on what it is you’re looking for). However, every week is an opportunity to learn.

Even if you don’t go through every script, at least go through a few of them. Not just to see what I’m always harping on (although that can help), but to see if you’ve made some of the same mistakes in your own work. It’s all part of studying.

P2, as it stands, isn’t good. We haven’t reached the Line of Demarcation yet, but I feel it’s coming. Probably the next page. What’s going on with this page? Not much. Person walks in, sits, and orders. This is simple, and all of it should have been on the first page. Panel 1 is the establishing shot with the scooter already there, with someone just walking inside. Panel 2 is the person walking through the door, Panel 3 has them sitting, and panel 4 has them ordering. Then, something striking needs to happen on panel 5 in order to get us to turn the page.

But P1 is basically padding, and P2 doesn’t help move the story forward that much. We’re introduced to people. Yay. Now what?

PAGE THREE (six panels)

Panel 1. Stretches across page The Sidhe’s face in profile on the left looking into the face of the waitress. The back edge of her head dissolves into the story of her future life of misery. An image of her pregnant, one of her abusive husband, one of her at home with the kids in the trailer. (If she is shown in a home interior, how do we know it’s a trailer? How do we know she is not happy to be pregnant? Why is being home with kids miserable [I’m home with kids, I can answer that, but can you?] How does this look, how do we know it’s bad? Other than the abusive husband [vague idea that he is] we have no way of knowing how to read this. How do we know that a man alone [you make no mention of her, or what he might be doing to her] is abusive? We need more details, lots of them.)

NO COPY

Panel 2. Close of up her frightened eyes.

LILLYFLOWER:

What? Wha…Whoa.

Panel 3. Close up of the Sidhe’s smiling mouth. A little too angular to be human. (Do you even know what this means? I don’t think you do. Depending on the artist, this could be the way they draw, which means this isn’t going to look the way you want it to look.)

SIDHE:

Like what you see?

Panel 4-6. 3 small panels in a row

Panel 4. Rear view of the waitress on the back of the Vespa cruising down a long stretch of highway.

CAP:

No.”

Panel 5-6. The background is the same but the vespa gets smaller and smaller as the sun sets.

NO COPY

(What if the Sidhe said something like, ‘If you come with me, I can make sure that never happens to you.’? Play up the trickster element of the character, and let your audience know what is going on. You have hinted at it, we can read between the lines, but why not really set it up? Then we he delivers on it, you’ve got the punch of irony, and the callback to this moment.)

P3, and we’ve reached the Line of Demarcation. This is crap. Here’s the reason why:

How is the reader supposed to know that the waitress is seeing the future? This is what sets her off on the road, yes? How does the reader know that this is the future? It could just as easily be her home life in the recent past.

You know your story. Your job is to covey that effectively, with both images and words. So far, you aren’t doing it with either.

There’s no reason given for her to get on the back of the scooter. I like the implied offer, but I’m not seeing any reason given for the trip. It’s just bad storytelling.

I’m not a fan.

PAGE FOUR (six panels)

Panel 1. They are at a campsite. Lillyflower is sitting on a picnic table, looking up at the Sidhe who is packing equipment onto the Vespa’s rack(period) (Time of day? Is she going to wear her waitress uniform throughout the story?) (What kind of equipment, and was it there previously? Where could this equipment have come from?)

LILLYFLOWER:

Where are we going?

SIDHE:

Home, of course!

LILLYFLOWER:

Where’s that?

Panel 2. Sidhe leaps up onto the picnic table. Very Peter Pan-like.(Moving panel.)

SIDHE:

Why, it’s where the heart is. I left mine there long ago and have been working, working working to get back. It’s where my family is, where I told poetry and danced for them all. Where I celebrated and WAS celebrated. Why, it’s where I…. where I…. (47 words in this balloon. A little wordy. I’d have put this into three separate balloons, myself.)

LILLYFLOWER:

Is it far?

Panel 3. The Sidhe is suddenly very close to the girl, perhaps too close.(There is essentially no visual information in this description.)

SIDHE:

It is so close.

Panel 4. The Sidhe grabs the girl and makes her dance with it. (Moving panel.)

SIDHE:

So close! And my family will be so glad to meet you! We will feast and dance and sing and call you ‘Lillyflower!’ Oh, what adventures we’ll have! (Is that really her name? Why is it in quotes?)

Panel 6. Lillyflower’s eyes light up. (Is this a closeup on her eyes? If not, what else is happening in this panel?)

LILLYFLOWER:

Really? I’ve never been on an adventure before.

P4, and we’ve got the feeling of some whimsey. Just a little bit. But without facial expressions, we don’t know which way to take this.

Characters have to act. That acting will inform the reader as to whether or not these characters are to be trusted. It will also let the artist know how the characters are supposed to come across.

And, even with the bit of whimsey, I’m bored.

Guess it’s time for a story.

I come from a large family. My mother is one of eleven, my father is one of eighteen. My paternal grandmother had 18 kids from two men.

If you were to look at my father and two of his brothers, you’d swear they were triplets. They weren’t, but the three of them resembled each other so much that my older cousin mistook my father for his once, and my other uncle looks so much like my father that it gives me pause. Seriously.

While growing up, I always looked up to my slightly older cousin. He’s one year older than I, so he was also one year ahead of myself in school. I always thought him to be smarter than I, just because of our age difference.

He’s a handsome guy. Outgoing. Doesn’t like being home, so he was always out. Me, the homebody, would go to his house to spend the weekend, and we’d hardly ever be in the house—even in the winter. Or, he’d come over to spend the weekend at my house, and we’d hardly ever be in the house. We were like brothers. Girls would fall over themselves to say they were going out with him. Me? Not so much. (Yes, there’s some envy there. I’m man enough to admit it.)

His father, though, my uncle who looked a lot like my father, wasn’t doing so well. Drugs. It started with marijuana, and then he progressed to other stuff. Drugs ruined his life: he lost his beautiful wife, got kicked out of his nice home, lost his job… He had gone into rehab a few times, but it never took.

I remember one day, I was walking home from my cousin’s house, and I saw my uncle coming out of one of my mother’s girlfriend’s house. I saw him come out of the house and walk out of the yard. He turned toward me and took two steps. He saw me, turned around, and then he promptly turned around and went back inside. Hurtful, yes, but I understood. I guess you keep your self-respect as you can, or you want to be remembered in a certain way.

Now, as a kid, I was effortlessly smart. Lots and lots of certificates have my name on it. (This is when you had to really earn them, folks. Not just getting a certificate for participation.) Certificates, awards, trophies… We had assemblies a couple of times a year, and each year, I came home with multiple certificates and/or trophies. This is elementary school, a public school, so take that caveat as you will.

Even through high school, I was pretty smart. The private school was a bit more challenging than the public school, but I still was able to garner some certificates for being intelligent. (Write down the date, folks. I don’t make this admission very often.)

Of course, I say all of that to say this…

My uncle was sick. Drugs drove him to do unsafe things, and he was sick and dying.

One of the last times I saw him was at my grandmother’s house. We were up in the room he was sleeping in at the time, and he was packing a bag. I don’t remember/know where he was going. It was just good to see him.

And then he said something that kinda blew me away.

Now, my parents are proud of me. They’re always talking about me to someone. “My son did this, my son did that, my son was salutatorian and should have been valedictorian,” and on and on ad nauseam. Everyone in the family would ask me how I was doing, but never really asked how I was doing in school, because they always knew.

As an adult, I joined the Marines, and continued getting awards. Meritorious Masts and nice letters in my file, aside from the Good Conduct award that you basically get for breathing and not getting into trouble.

So my uncle, whom I loved, whose house I had spent the night at a lot, whose son I regarded as a brother… This man said to me, “You know, as a kid, I never thought you were that smart.”

That blew me away.

You can’t be around my parents, ask about me, and not know how I’m doing in school. You can’t be at my house and not see some of the awards floating around the place. Some were in the basement, some were in the living room (wasted space in my house, because it was hardly ever used). Most were in my room, on the walls.

I don’t understand why he said it, what drove him to say it, what he thought to gain from it, or if he just thought he needed to get it off his chest. I was surprised, to say the least.

He then goes on to tell me that he always thought his son was smarter, and he was surprised to learn that he was wrong.

We hugged, said I love you, and that was it. I don’t recall seeing him again.

There was no malice in his statement. I just think it was something he needed to say. It stuck with me, though. It isn’t something I ever expected to hear. Not from someone who’d been in my life since my childhood.

That story? Not told as effectively as it could be, and it was still more effective than what Yonatan is subjecting us to.

PAGE FIVE (two panels)

A diagonal slash separates the two panels. It runs from the upper right to the lower left.

Panel 1. On the left side of the page we see pictures of the adventures that the Sidhe and the girl have been going on. Playing in natural pools, jumping from waterfalls, playing hide and seek in the woods. Watching foxes, petting deer, stuffing their faces of wild berries.

This panel melts into panel 2, perhaps separated by some natural barrier such as a tree arm or a blackberry vine.

Panel 2. On the lower, right hand panel we have scenes of travel, camping. Night plays heavily. Dark colors to contrast the light on the left. The Sidhe watching the girl sleep. The Sidhe working on the engine of the Vespa.

NO COPY

(MONTAGE! Cue the delightful, whistful music with hints of pan flute and piccilo. Why are you separating what happens at night from what happens during the day? What are you trying to show? This might be pretty, all drawn up by some talented guy or gal, but what is the purpose of it. I can think of two reasons it might matter. One: You want to show the Sidhe connecting emotionally with Lilyflower. If that is the case, you need to communicate that through expression and interaction, not an itenerary. They need to look at each other, to react to one another. Showing what they do together does not show how they feel about each other. The second possible reason is contrast. You don’t need to tell your audience that day and night are as different as day and night. You do have an element in your story that could be brought into focus using this device, the Sidhe’s struggle [or plan, I don’t know if you mean for them to be genuinely invested or not, really] to reconcile their feelings for Lilyflower with what they have to do to get home. Maybe one side of this page could be used to show them expericing anxiety over that? I’m not sure.

Whatever you intend this page to do, some things you have asked for are difficult. Playing hide and seek in a still image is tricky. How do you want to show that they are watching foxes, can that makes sense without a panel border? Aren’t the images of them watching something and the foxes going to look like two separate pieces of the collage? What elements from the environment can you incorporate to connect those images?)

P5, and we’re even more ineffective.

It’s another silent page, and the chosen images don’t work as well as they could, for reasons Sam has already brought up. We already know that the silent page is ineffective when you want to build a world, but this page is misplaced, as well.

The sidhe says that home is close. Says it right on the previous page. So, if it’s so close, and that’s where they’re going, what’s up with this interlude? “Close” generally means within a few minutes/hours. Especially if it’s as close as it’s made out to be. What’s up with this page, then?

I’ll tell you what this page is. We all know it, too.

It’s padding.

If this page were to be cut, would it have any real impact on the story? I’m willing to say that it won’t.

That means, out of five pages (so far), this story is really about 3 (so far).

That means there’s a problem with the pacing.

PAGE SIX (five panels)

Panel 1. The Sidhe, all grins, leads the girl by the hand, who is also grinning. They are deep in the woods. The Vespa is nowhere to be seen. Oddly, the camping gear is also missing.(So the Vespa and the camping gear have been in every panel up until now… :/ This doesn’t accomplish the storytelling that you think it does.)

LILLYFLOWER:

HAHAHAHA

SIDHE :

Run faster, Lillyflower, run faster!

Panel 2. The Sidhe stops suddenly(How does this look? Where is Lillyflower?) (This cannot be drawn. Someone besides Felix tell us why.)

LILLYFLOWER:

Where are we?

Panel 3. The left hand side of the panel is the girl and Sidhe waist up, looking at a circle mushrooms on the right hand side of the panel.

SIDHE:

Almost home, Lillyflower, almost home.

Panel 4. They step into the circle, the Sidhe smiles its angular smile from page three. (This gives the feeling of a moving panel. Where’s the camera?)

NO COPY

Panel 5. The Sidhe pushes Lillyflower away.

LILLYFLOWER:

Hey! What?–

(We need a moment of hestitation, or none of this matters at all. The Sidhe has to struggle with the idea a little. There is no story if they haven’t grown to care for her. This was the plan all along. Is there anything interesting about seeing a plan go off without a hitch? The Sidhe as you have written them now, is not at all dynamic, there is no change from beginning to end. We need at least a glimmer of hope for this character. Salvation must be offered and declined in order for this scene to have any hint of emotional resonance.)

P6.

I don’t know if there’s any real need for the as-yet unnamed sidhe to have an emotional connection with the stupidly-named Lillyhammer. Does the sidhe need to be conflicted? It’s all part of the plan, no? Doesn’t the storytelling narrative work both with it and without it? I’d say yes.

The problem is, we don’t connect with either of these characters. The sidhe turns out to be an asshole, sure, but does I’-Not-Saying-That-Name-Again deserve what she gets? So far, her only crime is stupidity. (She probably should pay for her life for her gross stupidity, but I’m also known to be hard of heart, so I may not be the best judge.) We don’t connect with her at all.

She’s found in a diner, she’s shown something (past or future), and then she’s off on an adventure. They’re at a rest stop, they’re in the woods, and now she’s about to be sacrificed to the Goblin King or whatever. Where’s her plight? Where’s the connection? Like the reason for this story, it’s missing.

I think this story is focusing on the wrong things. I think the theme of this story has to be worked out first, and then the story itself can be told. I don’t think we’re going to get to the theme until the very end of the story, if at all, but if we do, it would then need to be rewritten so that it focused on the correct things.

What are the correct things? I don’t know yet. Depends on what the theme turns out to be. All I know at the moment is that this story isn’t working.

PAGE SEVEN (six panels)

Panel 1. The Sidhe transforms. It has long, thin legs and arms. Evil, hooked fingers with long fingernails (all the better to scratch you with). Its hair is long and stringy; matted in clumps. The eyes are completely black. (Yes, but what is the Sidhe doing?)

SFX:

AHHHHHHH!!(This is dialogue, not SFX. I am not sure if this is the Sidhe, screaming because of the pain of the transformation a la American Werewolf in London or if this is Lilyflower screaming in fright from OP) (An American Werewolf in London. Made in 1981, so it’s now 34 years old. Even with today’s technology, this is still the high water mark when it comes to transformations. I challenge anyone to tell of one better. Hell, I challenge anyone to tell of one as good.)

Panel 2. Lillyflower tries to run out of the edge of the circle. The long, thin fingers grasp her around her arm. They hold her in place. The other arm reaches up with its hand ready to slash. (Moving panel.)

NO COPY

Panel 3. The same frightened eyes from page three.(Close up?)

NO COPY

Panel 4. The same angular smile from page three, now transformed. It is specked with saliva. The skin is pale and the lips are dark.(Close up?)

NO COPY

Panel 5. Lillyflower’s blood drips on the ground, soaking into the mushrooms and the grass.(Where is the camera? Drips on implies that something goes from something to something. Where is it dripping from? We can’t see Lily in this panel. Would ‘covers’ or ‘is splattered’ work better?)

SFX:

RRRRIIIPPPP.(From where?)

Panel 6. A portal opens in the middle of the circle. It seems to grow out of the blood and violence.(How, praytell, do you draw something seeming to grow from blood and violence?)

NO COPY

(You really did just completely skip over the climax you have been setting up.)

P7, and really, it’s a transformation and an off-screen death.

I like off-screen deaths, to be honest.

It was a running joke in the 80s in Marvel comics. If a character died, you didn’t believe it unless you saw them die on-screen. If it was off-screen, then that character wasn’t dead. Lots of characters “died” in the 80s, only to be not-dead later. Fun times. Fun times.

But, yes, we know that the woman is dead. She’s served a purpose. That purpose? To open the portal.

That’s really the only thing this page is about. Opening the portal.

Anyone else bored? Wondering what we’re doing here?

PAGE EIGHT (one panel)

Full page. The portal lay open. A back shot (¾?) of the Sidhe, now fully alien, holding the girl’s corpse in one hand. Blood drips from the long fingers of its other hand. The land beyond the portal is beautiful. Green, rolling hills, purple heather, lots of pastels. A castle can be seen in the distance. Bizarre creatures with long, spidery limbs look back at the returning Sidhe.

CAPTION

Fin in the lower right hand corner of the page.(Set this off in parantheses as a note to letterer.)

(There are so many details missing here. You have not explained anything about the portal. Is it on the ground, facing him like a doorway, floating midair paralell to the ground? Are the creatures also Sidhe? Are you introducing a new race here? Where are Lily’s wounds? You never show the audience the Sidhe’s reaction to killing her, or seeing their home. That’s not rewarding as a reader. We have no window into what’s going on inside their head. There is no arc for this character. They want to do something, and they do. Where is the conflict? Violence does not equal conflict.)

We come to the end of the story that isn’t!

And some of you probably thought the Line of Demarcation came early. Let’s run this down!

Format: Flawless Victory! Even with the missing panel description, the label was there, so it’s fine.

Panel Descriptions: Weakish, and a few moving panels in there.

By weakish, I mean that sometimes, there isn’t enough information in the panel description to give an adequate idea as to what’s going on. Sometimes, characters aren’t doing anything, sometimes they aren’t emoting. Standing around doing nothing isn’t my idea of a good time.

The moving panels are (hopefully) self-explanatory.

Pacing: The pacing here is terrible.

Eight pages of story that could have been told in about half the space..but there wasn’t any real purpose to what was read. Mythical being goes and gets a hapless human, takes them on a road trip, takes them on a forest trip, and then kills them for…what? Screw the summary at the beginning. It doesn’t matter. The summary won’t be there to explain to the reader what’s going on. And if it were, then Yonatan could save a lot of money by not hiring an artist, because the story wouldn’t need to be told in pictures.

So, yes, it’s poorly paced, and doesn’t have any reason for being. That’s my idea of a good time! (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

Dialogue: There isn’t much there. What is there doesn’t do much to illuminate the story. There’s the sense of whimsey with some of the dialogue, but really, it leads to nowhere.

This piece could use a very stiff infusion of dialogue. Especially at the end.

Content: This is crap. It isn’t worth reading, because it has no ending. Just because you say it’s finished doesn’t mean that it is. What was the reason for all of that? I don’t know. And as soon as you say “I don’t know,” your story fails.

Editorially, this needs a rewrite. Before that happens, though, there needs to be a reason for things to happen. If there’s no reason, then there’s no satisfaction for the reader.

Here’s the important detail: the reason things happen have to be in the story where the reader can see it. It can even be inferred, if there’s a strong enough setup. But it has to be in there. If it isn’t, then you’ve failed.

So, a rethink for the rewrite. Add dialogue, because that’s how you’re going to justify the story.

Now, we made a big deal of it at the top, because you tried to gloss over the physical orientation of a character. Then, literally nothing comes of it.

Why make the character sexless if you aren’t going to do anything with it? I mean, it literally made no impact on the piece. Actually, I think it would have made more of an impact on the reader if you had made the sidhe female. This may be an American view, but we just don’t expect women to be as violent as men. The animal kingdom often gives the lie to this thought, but we just don’t expect women to be violent. Something to think about.

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 stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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