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TPG Week 221: Writing Challenge Entry 6

| March 21, 2015

TPGFeatured_08

Hello, one and all, and welcome back to The Proving Grounds! This week, I’m the one up on the chopping block, because of a deal I made at Digital Webbing. The deal was simple: if I had enough takers participating in the Writing Challenge, I’d participate myself. Also, if I had enough people submit their entry here, I’d also undergo the knife.

So, here I am!

The plan was to have both Sam and Liam do the edits and run it down at the end, but unfortunately Liam had a prior engagement. So there’s no Liam this week, and there’s no rundown at the end. (I’m not going to run myself down. It’s self-serving at best, and totally unfair at worst. I liked my story, and it did what I wanted it to do, so no rundown from me.)

So, no notes from me this week. It’s all Samantha LeBas in purple.

Let’s see how I did with

String Cheese Theory

PAGE 1

PANEL 1

It’s dusk, and we’re looking out over a carnival. Pull back to show the carnival in a field, with a ferris wheel to draw the eye, but there should be a town around it, too. Not a large town, and this isn’t a large carnival. We can see people milling about, and more people streaming in toward the entrance.(How far out? About how many people? A big field in the middle of a small town? Seems it should either be more of a street fair, or set on the outskirts with a town in the distance. What era?)

Cap (Barker)

(elec)

“Hur-ray, hur-ray, hur-ray! Step right up to see a me-ray-cull of modern science. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Hur-ray, hur-ray.(Suggest exclamation marks throughout)

Panel 2

We’re now in the carnival itself. There’s a group of three friends approaching the Barker. The Barker is part robot, part table/booth, very reminiscent of a glass-encased fortune teller. Across the top of the booth are the words String Cheese Theory. The Barker is “male”, and is only vaguely humanoid up top. Like Crow from MST3K is vaguely crow-like in appearance: square head with a jaw that goes up and down, a rectangular top, and arms. It’s wearing a white and red pinstripe suit, and a hat. It should basically look like this up top: http://www.magicmakers.com/internet%20jpg%20C/carnival%20barker.jpg (Really cool idea.)

The three friends, have their backs to us as they approach the Barker. Craig, Melinda, and Larry, all in their 20s. She’s in the middle, holding hands with Craig. I don’t care what they look like.

Signage (banner)

STRING CHEESE THEORY

BARKER

(elec)

Are ya search-ing for enlighten-ment? Are ya search-ing for a change in your life? Then hur-ray on up, slide me a cred, and re-cieve your cheesy for-tune!

MElinda(Caps errors may be an artifact of transferring from one processing platform to another*)

Isn’t that a cute play with words, Craig? Let’s see what he has to say!

Panel 3

The friends are in front of the barker. Come around to see them, so we’re behind the barker. They’re all smiling at the robot.

Craig

This reminds me of one of those bad horror movies. The unsuspecting people get their fortunes told, things happen, and–

meLINDA

And people start dying… You just watch too many bad movies, Craig.

HaRRY(Harry or Larry?)

Ha! Melinda’s got a point, man!

BARKER

(elec)

Ah! Three fresh faces…

Panel 4

I don’t care where the camera is placed. Just break up the view a bit.(Same setting.)

BARKER

(elec)

I don’t do group specials, but I do do special groups, and you three seem bright and red-day for something new.(Dialect is not as pronounced here. Is that intentional?)

MELINDA

I’m game. How’s this supposed to work?

Panel 5

Show the table that is part of the robot’s body. The robot’s top half is, predictably, toward the back of the table. On the table, though, can be seen a closed rectangle that will slide back to reveal the string cheese, and beside it, a slot to take a credit card. The table is otherwise unadorned. The robot’s hands can be seen on either side of the rectangle and slot.

BARKER

(OP)

(elec)

Put yer cred in the slot and tell me what you’re looking for. The string cheese will rise, and you eat it.

BARKER (CONT’D)

(OP)

(elec)

Then, your life will change.

(Hitting all the marks so far. The setting is a little ambiguous, but we have a robot, dialect, string cheese, enough dialogue, even ‘enlightenment’. Now it just needs not to end in a funeral, but a lot of that is already out of the way.)

PAGE 2

PanEL 1

We’re looking at the friends again. Craig looks skeptical, and Harry is rolling his eyes. Melinda is looking in her purse for her cred card.

CrAIG

What’s the catch?

MELINDA

It’s just good fun, Craig. I’m going to do it.

HARRY

You’re always suspicious, Craig.

Panel 2

We’re looking back at the table. We see Melinda’s hand, holding a card over the slot. All she has to do is lower the card into the slot.(Is this an OTS shot, or a close up on her hand and the table?)

CrAIG

(OP)

I just like knowing the rules before I play, Harry. You know that.

BARKER

(OP)

(elec)

This isn’t about wishes. This is a-bout what you’re looking(break this up to reflect dialect) for. Most wishes are ephemeral. When you look for something, you’re try-ing to manifest it.

Panel 3

We’re looking at the Barker, who’s got both hands and arms up, pontificating.

BARKER

(elec)

People want a million dollars, but have no real idea how to get it. They’re not red-day. Wishes that aren’t doing them any good. There’s no energy to move the string.

BARKER (CONT’D)

(elec)

If you put enough en-er-gee into something, you can move the string and manifest your desires.

BARKER (CONT’D)

(elec)

You have something we artificial’s(delete apostrophe) don’t–the extra en-er-gee to move the string.

Panel 4

We’re still on the Barker, and he’s gesturing to the rectangle.

BARKER

(elec)

After you state what you’re looking for, eating the string cheese will start to move the string, and start to manifest your desire.

BARKER (CONT’D)

(elec)

The cheese represents power, not wishful thinking.

Panel 5

We’re back on the group. They’re all now looking thoughtful.

CrAIG

This string you mention… I take it you’re talking about string theory?

BARKER

(OP)

(elec)

Careful and bright, this one.

HARRY

A play with words, like Melinda said.

HARRY (CONT’D)

It’s just more interesting than I thought it would be.

Panel 6

The guys are now reaching for their wallets in their back pockets.

HARRY

I’m going to do it.

(This is a a long pause for Melinda, she’s standing there about to put her card in for a good minute [Southernism=quite awhile.] Maybe have Craig reach out and stop her from sliding her card?)

PAGE 3

This page is a nine-panel grid. Across the top will be the faces of the people, the middle tier will be their hands, and the third tier will be the string cheeses.

PANEL 1

We’re on Melinda, who’s looking like she’s got stars in her eyes. She’s smiling.

MELINDA

To be truly seen as a loving, worthy person. Everything else will come after that…

PaNEL 2

Craig, who’s smiling as well. It isn’t a full smile. It might be more embarassed(embarrassed) than anything. His hand could be at the back of his head, like he’s scratching it absently.

CrAIG

I want to understand.(combine sentences) Not just people and how they think, but concepts and ideas. I want to understand so I can make a difference, like Einstein or Hawking or Nash.

Panel 3

Harry’s got a full smile on his face. He’s not ashamed at all.

HARRY

I want help others. Have insights into them(comma) so I can help direct them to what they need, that will help them most.

Panel 4

Melinda’s hand, punching her cred card into the slot.

NO COPY

Panel 5

Craig’s hand, punching his cred card into the slot.

NO COPY

Panel 6

Harry’s hand, punching his cred card into the slot.

NO COPY

Panel 7

There is a string cheese, unwrapped, lying on its side on the rectangle. Make the rectangle it’s lying on a different color, so it doesn’t look like it magically appeared.

NO COPY

Panel 8

And other.

NO COPY

Panel 9

And the last.

NO COPY

PAGE 4

PaNEL 1

All three of them are holding their string cheese up, looking at one another, smiling. The barker can barely be seen to the right of the panel.

BARKER

(elec)

Eat. Move the string.

Panel 2

They’re eating, the string cheese in their mouths as they take a bite simultaneously. Craig has one eye closed in a squint, but the others are smiling.

NO COPY

Panel 3

Craig’s eyes are opened, surprised. He’s got a more-than-slight smile on his face.

CrAIG

That’s better than I thought!

Panel 4

They’re all looking over their shoulder at the barker, waving with one hand, the string cheese in the other. They are walking away, toward us.

MeLINDA

Thank you!

BARKER

(elec)

Take care. Move the string.

(Two pages seems a lot of real estate to dedicate to the purchase and consumption of magic cheese, especially considering the ratio of pages it occupies in this particular story. I would suggest that this is the place to create stakes instead. We can talk about how after the story is done.)

PAGE 5

PANEL 1

Melinda and Craig and a child about 10 years old are on a picnic somewhere. Open field, during the day, with a river, trees. Melinda and Craig are 20 years older. The main focus of this panel is Melinda.

CAP

Melinda started the Hug Life foundation, giving true affection for anyone who needs it. It is now clears a billion dollars, annually.

CaP (CONT’D)

Melinda also married Craig after a brief courtship. He saw her as the truly loving, wonderful person she was.

Panel 2

Craig is on a stage, dressed in a tuxedo. He is accepting a Nobel prize. He’s still about 40. He should be recognizable, but also try to give some depth to this panel, to show the scope of the amount of people there.

CAP

Applying himself and his understanding of concepts, Craig created and patented the first working teleporter.

CaP (CONT’D)

This won him his third Nobel Prize in science, the first two being perfecting faster-than-light travel, and the second for creating the first tractor beam.

CAP (CONT’D)

Together, he and Melinda are the world’s first trillionaires.

Panel 3

Harry, also about 40, is sitting behind a desk, pen and pad in hand. He is dressed in a shirt and tie, and he looks to be in deep concentration. There’s a patient lying on a couch near the desk, and their mouth is open as though they’re talking. I don’t care if they’re male or female. The wall behind him is festooned with certificates.

CAP

Harry’s understanding of and ability to help people put him the conversation with Frued(Freud) and Jung.

CaP (CONT’D)

Although nowhere near as wealthy as his friends, Harry’s fame and accomplishments gave(have given) him a different sort of wealth.

Panel 4

We’re looking at the carnival at a different location. It’s still small, near a small town.

CAP (baRKER)

(elec)

“Hur-ray, hur-ray, hur-ray! Step right up to see a me-ray-cull of modern science. You’ve got to see it to believe it. Hur-ray, hur-ray.”

Panel 5

We can see the barker, doing what he does best. A couple are holding hands as they approach him.

BARKER

(elec)

Are ya search-ing for enlighten-ment? Are ya search-ing for a change in your life? Then hur-ray on up, slide me a cred, and re-cieve your cheesy for-tune!

(Well. Here’s the thing, there’s no conflict, it doesn’t teach a lesson, or highlight a theme. It’s a nice story, but maybe it’s too nice? You might consider showing the way things go if they didn’t eat the cheese? Maybe use that grid page? Show one future panel in column one [no cheese]. Middle panel each character eating cheese. 3rd column silent, cheesy future. Then expound on that future in the last 2 pages. Create some stakes? Another option is to have it not work out for one character, highlight his or her doubt, or an ambiguous phrasing, or focus on immediate gain. Play up the happiness of the characters it does work out for last, to keep your happy ending. Draw out a theme instead. I am just not sure there is enough here as it’s written now, but it’s a fun idea and checks all the boxes for the contest.)

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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