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TPG Week 231: My Blood Pressure, Or A Period?

| May 30, 2015

TPGFeatured_08

Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in David Rines! I’m all by my lonesome this week, so it’s all red, all the time.

This is David’s entry to a writing challenge I did over at Digital Webbing. Here were the rules:

Cannot be longer than 5 pages

Must have an alien (take that as you wish)

One page must have 2 panels or less on it

There must be at least 200 words of spoken dialogue

Bacon must be an object

Chainsaw must be in the spoken dialogue

Let’s see how he did as David brings us his writing challenge!

Characters:

Petrovsky – The narrator of the story, the human ambassador who negotiated the peace between the human race and the aliens

Agnes – The hero of the story, the pig that became the bacon meal that settled peace between Earth and the alien race

Lucky – The hero’s best friend

Farmer Bob – One of two main antagonists, owner of the farm

Jeffrey – Secondary antagonist, cruel farmhand

Lexi – Bob’s daughter, innocent child who tries in vain to protect the pigs

Lupinians – The aliens, resemble wolf-like creatures

Page 1:

Panel 1: Petrovsky sitting at a circular table across from alien ambassadors. On the table between them are plates full of bacon. More humans and aliens can be seen in the background smiling and shaking hands. (I’m not happy about the bolding and italics of the panel description. It seems very unnecessary to me. However, I’m not going to ding him for it. It’s how he wants it. As long as he’s consistent, I don’t care overmuch. What I do care about is the setting. This is happening in a white void. I’m only going to assume that Petrovsky is wearing a suit, and I don’t care overmuch how the aliens look. That should be worked out in the character designs before the penciler ever starts to lay this story out.)

Caption:

From the personal journal of Ambassador Petrovsky of Earth (No ending punctuation. I’m calling that a stylistic choice and not a mistake.)

Narrator: (Narrator? That’s a person. Is this person seen? I don’t think so, because they weren’t listed in the panel description. Is this another caption, one that’s supposed to be from the personal journal of Ambassador Petrovsky? I’m willing to bet that it is. However, if that’s the case, then this is mislabeled. Not only that, but this would be a good place to “talk” to the letterer to decide how these captions should look—typed out in a special font? Maybe in cursive? Or is it just a regular font? Dunno. But it could help with the stylings of the story.)

They’re calling it the ultimate victory of diplomacy.

After hours of intense negotiation, I have finally been able to make peace between the people of Earth and the Lupinians, these visitors from another world. (BZZZT! Thanks for playing! Flawless Victory is lost. I’m starting to feel like Liam a bit. Research is not difficult, folks. Label each and every balloon and caption. It isn’t difficult. Don’t make the letterer work harder than necessary because you’re lazy. And “I didn’t know” and “I’m new to this” aren’t viable excuses. Not when there are books on the subject, more websites than you can shake a stick at, and hundreds of examples on the web as to what a script can look like. Hell, you could have just read this column and learned a lot of information. It isn’t hard. As for this line itself… It sounds like a 50s movie to me.)

They’re calling me a hero, having brought decades of conflict to an end. But someone else deserves that title far more than I do.

Panel 2: The two pigs, covered in filth, behind rusted metal bars (How about some ending punctuation in your panel descriptions there, Bub? Anyway, what are the pigs doing? Where are they?)

Narrator:

Her name was Agnes. She was raised on Farmer Bob’s farm, along with her best friend, Lucky. (Comma-fail.)

 

We’ve got P1 on the books!

So, as for the rules, we have a page with 2 or less panels, and we have the aliens.

I can’t say anything about the pacing as yet. But I do know that we’re in a white void here, and that’s not good. If an establishing shot had been done, we’d have gotten Who was there, Where they were, What they were doing, and being inside, we don’t need much of a When (day or night), but I’ll be looking for it as soon as I can.

Let’s see what P2 brings.

Page 2:

Panel 1: Same as last panel of previous page, but pigs are newborns. (We run into the same problem as the previous panel, too.)

Narrator:

She was brought into this world in a cage, where she and Lucky lived their entire lives.

Panel 2: Jeffrey is raising a hand to strike Agnes, while Farmer Bob looks on in the background (I don’t ask for a lot, folks. Sentences that end in periods are not a lot to ask for. Basic punctuation. How hard can that be for a “writer”? Basic friggin punctuation. Do you want me to have nothing but bile and hate in my blood? Then really, all you need to do is to want to be a writer, and not understand the period. Really, this is already late going up, and I’m tempted to stop now, because of friggin periods. I might as well bend over for the amount of respect this is showing me as an editor…)

You know what? I’m stopping here. Screw me? Screw you.

Format: No Flawless Victory. You know why.

Panel Descriptions: They need some work. Characters have to be in a setting, and they have to be doing something.

And periods.

Pacing: Dunno.

Dialogue: Not bad. I happen to like 50s sci-fi movies. I watch them all the time.

Content: I dunno. I didn’t finish. Didn’t get off P2 as a reader, and that’s no fault of the story that I can see.

Editorially… I’m tired of it. I’m tired of simple punctuation mistakes, and I’m not going to take it anymore. It’s a simple period, folks. I have no idea how that can be screwed up multiple times. I’ve come to understand that not everyone gets the comma. A lot of you have failed comma class, or skipped school that day, or something. None of you should have missed period class. You read sentences that end in periods wherever you go. 99% of what you read ends in a period. 99.9% of what you read has some sort of ending punctuation.

So I’m done. I’m done being taken advantage of by people who say they want to write, but haven’t mastered the friggin period.

Here’s the rest of the script for you all to read, if you’re so inclined. I’m not.

Because of a period.

Yes, I will be updating the rules, because this is ridiculous.

Narrator:

She never understood why the farmers beat her. All she ever wanted was to be treated with gentleness and affection.

Panel 3: Lexi is gently petting Agnes. Bob is approaching from behind

Narrator:

Lexi, Farmer Bob’s daughter, took pity on her, but she was powerless to prevent her father’s cruelty.

Lexi:

Its okay, Aggie, I’m here…

Bob:

Lexi, get away from it! Jeffrey, get back over here and beat that thing!

Panel 4: Bob is scolding Lexi, while in the background Jeffrey is beating Agnes.

Bob:

You listen to me, young lady. You gotta stop talking to those creatures!

Lexi:

But papa, they hurt and I feel bad…

Bob:

God, you gotta stop treatin’ these things like they actually got feelings… They’re just fucking pigs!

 

Page 3:

Panel 1: There is a fence in the background. There is a hole in the fence big enough for a pig to crawl through, and Lucky is standing in front of it. In the foreground, Agnes’ face can be seen looking at her friend.

Narrator:

One day, Lucky escaped from the farm. Agnes wanted to warn him not to go, but Lucky went before she had the chance.

Panel 2: Lucky is now on the other side of the fence, walking away from the farm. In the background, also on the outside of the fence, is Jeffrey, walking towards Lucky carrying a chainsaw.

Narrator:

Unfortunately, Lucky was followed. Jeffrey couldn’t wait to test his new birthday present from Bob.

Panel 3: Jeffrey close-up front view. With a maniacal expression on his face, he is thrusting the chainsaw towards the lower left side of the camera view (where Lucky presumably is, though he is standing outside the camera view and doesn’t actually appear in the panel). Blood is spraying from that direction.

Jeffrey:

Runin’ away, huh? Try to run from Ol’ Toothy, bitch! HA HA HA HA!

Panel 4: Camera view from the ground some distance from the fence, pointing toward Agnes. She is standing near the hole Lucky escaped from earlier, looking at the ground in the foreground, where Lucky’s blood is splattered. Lexi is visible in the background, further in the distance behind the fence, watching Agnes.

Narrator:

Agnes could only watch in horror as the chainsaw ripped through her friend, sending pieces of him flying in every direction.

Panel 5: Now at night, Agnes is walking through the hole in the fence.

Narrator:

Later that night, Agnes made a fateful decision.

 

Page 4:

Panel 1: Agnes walking away and Jeffrey chasing her with his chainsaw. The farm is now only visible in the distance. Also, faintly visible in the background, Lexi is following both of them.

Narrator:

Agnes knew that Jeffrey was following her as she escaped the farm, but that was exactly what she wanted.

Jeffrey:

Get back here! Ol’ Toothy’s hungry!

Panel 2: There is a road. Agnes is standing on one side, Jeffrey on the other. Agnes is stationary, looking across the road at Jeffrey, while he is walking across the road. In the background, further down the road, a semi truck can be seen approaching Jeffrey. Lexi is also still visible in the distance (not on the road, but beside it).

Narrator:

She would have smiled if pigs had the ability. Jeffrey was so fixated on his prey, so consumed by his bloodlust, that he was blind to the approaching danger.

Jeffrey:

Damn you, little vermin! Ol’ Toothy’s gonna eat you up…

Sound effect (from the truck):

HONK!

Panel 3: The truck is hitting Jeffrey, blood is spraying everywhere.

Sound effect:

SPLAT!

Panel 4: Bird’s eye view of the scene. Agnes is still standing in the same spot, Jeffrey’s mangled corpse is strewn across the road in front of her, and the truck is pulled over on the side of the road. Lexi is still seen in the distance.

Narrator:

Lexi was watching the whole time. Later, I spoke with her. She told me everything that had happened between Agnes, Lucky, and Jeffrey.

 

Page 5:

Panel 1: Back at the farm. In the center is Agnes, flanked by several farmhands, and to the right is Petrovsky, examining the pig. To the left is Lexi, looking in horror at Petrovsky.

Narrator:

She told me how the other farmhands came and took Agnes back to the farm. How they presented the pig to me. And how the little girl’s blood ran cold at the sight of me, because she knew what I was there for.

Panel 2: The farmhands are taking Agnes away. Petrovsky is walking with them. Lexi is crying and reaching desperately toward Agnes, while her father holds her back.

Narrator:

I remember what I thought when I first saw Agnes. Healthy, plump, the perfect dinner for the peace negotiations. I never stopped to think what was being taken away from poor little Lexi. She cried endlessly when they took the pig away to be put down.

Panel 3: Close-up of one of the plates of bacon on the table from the beginning scene

Narrator:

So here she is. Lexi’s little Aggie. Cut up into thin slices of bacon.

Panel 4: Close-up of one of the alien ambassadors at the table eating a piece of bacon

Narrator:

The Lupinians love her. She’s delicious. In death, Aggie has ended the war and potentially saved billions of human lives.

Panel 5: Close-up of Petrovsky staring mournfully at a plate of bacon in front of him

Narrator:

And yet I can only feel guilt. I was the one who picked the dinner, who condemned Aggie to death. I can try to tell myself that the negotiations might not have been so successful without this peace offering of bacon, but I can’t help but ask myself:

Was intergalactic peace worth Aggie’s life?

Caption:

The End

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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