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TPG Week 270: Burying the Lede?

| February 26, 2016

TPG Forbes-Kroboth

 

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have Sean Ian Mills returning as our Brave One! We also have a special guest: Steve Colle has returned for a special engagement this week, and is again in his customary green. Of course, we have Ryan Kroboth with the pencil assist, and I’m the angry codger in red. We’re all going to see if Sean has learned anything as we look at

Guards!

Page 1 (five panels)

Panel 1: Wide establishing shot looking up at a dark, villainous castle perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. Daytime. Gray clouds fill the dreary, gray sky. The land around the castle is barren, (Just for clarification, do you mean the land at the base of the mountain on which the castle rests is barren? I ask because of the angle of the shot looking up, making it impossible to see land around it given the perspective.) the rocky cliff face is a sheer drop. The castle is large and dangerous, but mostly open to artistic interpretation. Think classic Evil Castle, with black walls and spikes. Only requirement is that it must have an easily visible lower portion where one might normally expect to find a dungeon. A few small windows line the dungeon level. (I’m trying to visualize all that you’re describing given the low angle you introduced at the beginning. Seeing the small windows at dungeon level? I don’t know.)

Letterer: The dialogue balloon should come from dungeon-height.

Grawl (shout): Guards!

Panel 2: King Grawl stomps through the dark, dingy dungeon. The walls are black brick, lined with iron bar cells. There are torches on the walls. Behind Grawl is the big, wooden dungeon entrance door, having just slammed shut. Grawl is angry and shouting. He’s dragging Princess Madison behind him, his hand clutching the back of her outfit. (Keep details together. This actually belongs up with “King Grawl stomps through the dark, dingy dungeon, dragging Princess Madison behind him, his hand clutching the back of her outfit.” Without putting them together, you establish a completely different visual to start and then add a seemingly forgotten detail later, confusing the artist.) Her hands are bound in front of her in large, metal shackles. (Can we see this at this point? Is this a frontal view of Grawl or a side view? If from the front, this may be hidden. Clarify.) Ahead of Grawl, standing at attention, are orc guards Thag and Korr. Both are startled by the sudden arrival, with action lines to indicate their startle. Both guards have spiky maces at their hips. (I’m seeing this as a side view. Is that correct? If so, this really emphasizes my point of putting her being dragged in the opening action as, left to right, it would be the Princess first, then Grawl, and then the two orcs on the left.)

SFX Door: Choom!

Grawl: On your feet, you maggot-toothed felboars! Time to do your jobs! (There’s a contradiction between what’s being said and the given visual. They’re standing at attention with no mention of chairs anywhere around them, and yet he says “On your feet”. Where’s the disconnect? And that last bit of “Time to do your jobs” is completely unnecessary.)

Thag: Yes, sire!

Korr: Your majesty!

Panel 3: King Grawl stands before the two guards and holds the princess up with one hand. He’s grinning wickedly from ear-to-ear. (He seems to have a bit of dialogue in this panel. Can you grin and talk at the same time? Not if you’re forming some of those words.) The princess is seething in anger. (Was she not seething in the last panel as she was being dragged?) Her shackles in front are clearly visible. Korr and Thag look on. (On what, exactly? What does this mean and is it necessary to say it?) Korr is dumbfounded. Thag is grinning just like Grawl. (Here’s what I’m seeing in my head when you say dumbfounded: There’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon I clearly remember where Bugs is in a wrestling ring with The Crusher. Well, Crusher ends up smashing into a safe door and, when it’s opened, he stands there completely out of it saying “Duh, just passing by, duh…” Sound familiar? I doubt that’s what you mean, but damn if that isn’t what I’m interpreting!)

Grawl: Behold! The beautiful Princess Madison, loveliest daughter of the wretched King Fondamere. We’re going to show her true orc hospitality! (This is over-the-top dialogue. Not only that, it isn’t becoming of a king to sound like he’s trying to impress his henchmen. And is he an orc himself, as he refers to “we”?)

Madison: Anything would be more comfortable than your rotten stench! (Two things here: 1) Changing out the words “more comfortable” with the word “better” would flow better, and 2) this doesn’t sound like someone seething with anger.)(Meh. She’s a princess. It depends on how polite she’s been raised to be. Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Downton Abbey again recently. Like, last night. The women are terribly polite, even when seething with anger. I can see this.)

Korr: Uh…

Panel 4: King Grawl’s free hand points towards Thag, who looks excited at the attention. (Where is this shot coming from? Is it from Grawl’s POV where we only see his hand and Thag’s excited expression? Clarify.)

Grawl: You! Fetch me the bullwhip!

Thag: Of course, sire!

Grawl: On second thought, make it the cat o’nine tails!

Thag: Good choice, sir!

Grawl: Better yet, get the thorny hydra-cane!

Thag: Right away, my liege!

(This exchange can’t happen in one panel. If you’re going to maintain all of it, it’ll take three panels to tell it properly. The first two lines are one panel, with direction given and a hearty acceptance. Then a correction is made, which means Thag has moved and has had to stop in his tracks, more than likely with a change of facial expression. Finally, another change of mind happens and by this time, Thag is probably thinking to himself, “Will he PLEASE make up his mind?!” You decide the direction you want to choose for this exchange.) (Or, it could all be one panel, but the panel description would have to change in order to fit it. Anh! Here’s your first rewrite opportunity! Please rewrite this panel description so that the dialogue fits as is.)

Panel 5: Closeup of King Grawl face-to-face with Princess Madison. He looks wickedly delighted. She looks angry, teeth-clenched.

Grawl: It’s been too long since I tortured royalty. (Why is Grawl, the King, going to dirty his hands when he has guards/henchmen to do it?) (Some people like it. I enjoy yardwork, but why should I dirty my hands when I could pay someone to do it?)

Madison: Do your worst. (This is defiance, not teeth-clenching anger.)

Korr (off-panel): Um…

I seriously feel like I’m coming into a story that has some pages or even a full issue before it. I’m kind of lost, actually. This may be in medias res, but it’s a bad place to start it. For a first page of a first issue, I have no history to establish this scene and therefore am confused. Not intrigued, but confused. Do I want to turn the page? Not really. What I want to do is search for the story that led to this. My “Huh?” moment is over.

I’ll admit that you’re doing well with your format (even a 12-point font!) and that you’re somewhat good at describing things, but be clear… and make sure what is seen and what is said match up… AND fix that dialogue, will ya? Uh… um… duh, just passing by, duh…

So, we’ve got P1 on the books.

It’s not looking great for our hero.

Five panels, and what have we learned? There’s a king who likes to do his own torturing. Not far-fetched. Why is he doing this? No idea. And it’s written in a way that no one will ask the question because the answer is irrelevant.

This comes across as something that’s supposed to be light-hearted (even with the torture). However, I’m not having any fun. I wonder if anyone else is.

What’s the point of this? It’s P1, and like Steve, I’m really not in the mood to go to P2. There’s nothing here that makes me want to turn the page. The artist better be phenomenal. There better be lots of visual gags. Otherwise, this snooze-fest stays on the shelf.

A word about dialogue, that I’ll be making again when I run it down: make sure that the panel description matches the last thing said.

It’s a mind trick.

You can say a ton of things, and if the panel description matches the last thing said, then the mind will “play” the dialogue in our heads, and then catch up and pause when the last thing said matches up with what happened in the panel.

Yes, I understand that the dialogue is generally written after the panel description. So what? If you’ve thought of something killer for a character to say and it doesn’t match the description, then you’ve got three choices: cut the dialogue totally; move the dialogue to the next panel; or (wonder of wonders!) fix the panel description to match the dialogue. I know, I know, it’s a foreign concept to some of you, but believe me, it’s permitted.

Quick example, playing it both ways.

In the panel description, Madame Lamp is laughing at the Terrible Bulb as he talks about wanting to “ahem” join with her, if you catch my drift. Her head is thrown back in laughter.

Madame Lamp: Hahahaha! I turn you on, don’t I? You think I’m going to let you sock it to me?

Madame Lamp: I’m not here to flick your switch!

(Terrible dialogue, I know. Just roll with it.)

Now, take the same general panel description, and we’re going to tweak the dialogue just a bit.

Madame Lamp: I turn you on, don’t I? You think I’m going to let you sock it to me?

Madame Lamp: I’m not here to flick your switch! Hahahaha!

See how the second one is more natural? Did you notice your reaction, one way to another? That’s what you do to the reader whenever your panel description doesn’t match the last thing said.

Scripting has a lot of moving parts to it. If you master this way of thinking, you’ve gone a significant step in the right direction.

Page 2 (five panels)

Panel 1: Zoom out to show that King Grawl still has Madison held aloft. (You didn’t say she was “aloft” before, just held up with one hand. Consistency.) (This is something I can see both ways. If the King is an ogre/orc/whatever, then I can see where being held up by one hand means she’s being held aloft. That’s what I saw in my head when it was written, so this small change in verbiage doesn’t do anything to me. Just another way to say something. On the other hand, if you are consistently clear about what you want, then there would be smaller room for error.) The two of them are still bickering. Madison is wriggling in his grasp. In the background, Korr is using a key to unlock a cell door. Korr is stooping, shoulders slumped. (Interesting use of the word “stooping” here. I wasn’t sure if it applied in this context, but it’s actually perfect, as he’s doing both: “To bend forward and down from the waist or the middle of the back” and “to descend from one’s level of dignity”. Pretty accurate, I’d say.)

Grawl: Honestly, princess, what were you thinking (Missing comma) trying to sneak across the northern river into my territory? You know your father’s treaty only extends to the edge of his land.

Madison: As if treaties mean anything to you, Grawl! (Two names, both slipped in organically. Bravo. Now, if only it were called King & Princess instead of Guards!, neither of whom have yet to be named…)

Madison: Not everyone is going to stand by while your armies march on the free lands!

SFX Key: Clank.

I can appreciate what you’re trying to say dialogue-wise in this panel, but it’s coming across as cliché, like you’re forcing it. Something to work on.

Panel 2: Korr holds the cell door open as Grawl carries Madison inside. (How is he carrying her? Over his shoulder like a towel? Over the threshold like a newly married couple? In a fireman’s carry? Describe this a bit better.) Grawl is laughing. Korr is nervous as he looks on. (“Nervous” is the feeling, but how does it look? Does he look concerned, scared, ashamed, etc.? Try to isolate this for your artist.) There are chains and shackles on the back wall of the cell, along with any other dungeon-friendly accoutrements you’d like to add.

Grawl: Haha! That’s precisely what they’re going to do!

Grawl: The elves and the centaurs are too busy playing politics to put together a defense. (Comma instead of a period) And your father will be frozen with fear once he finds out I have you. (You can divide this speech into two balloons with an ellipsis creating a flow between them, taking the place of the comma I mentioned.)

Grawl: Don’t even get me started on the hobgoblins…(Again, the panel description doesn’t match the last thing said.)

Madison: My father will send his finest knights to storm your dung heap of a castle and rescue me! (Again, cliché and forced. Let it come naturally. Find your voice in future drafts and projects.) They’re probably already here!

Panel 3: Grawl, looking disdainful, shoves Madison into Korr’s arms. (Flow of action: Madison is carried, then shoved. Unless she was put on the ground beforehand to be shoved, this means she was thrown to Korr. Here’s where role-playing is key to identifying a real flow of actions.) She looks bewildered at the shove. (“Bewildered”? You’re saying she’s confused at being shoved? Look online at pictures showing bewilderment and tell me if this looks like a reaction to being shoved.) Korr still looks troubled (Look at a thesaurus for synonyms of “troubled”, as there are many more specific adjectives that can isolate how he looks.), and his hands have instinctively reached up to grab her arms/shoulders. His orc hands are large compared to her slender human shoulders. (Does that last really need to be said?)

Grawl: An empty threat.

Grawl: You there, guard, chain the princess her to the wall. (Specifying “to the wall” seems like a no-brainer as that’s where you’ve described the chains being. In other words, simply saying “Chain her up” is sufficient.)

Korr: I don’t think–

Madison: Oof! (This doesn’t sound bewildered. Again, make sure your visuals match what’s being expressed in speech.) (Here it’s right: the panel description matches the last thing said.)

Panel 4: Madison angrily shrugs off his grip. She is disgusted and is looking up at him. Korr is startled. (Moving panel.)

Madison: Unhand me, you brute! (Cliché. “Get your hands off of me!” sounds more like disgust. If you’re trying to maintain Madison as prim and proper like an overstuffed socialite, then “Unhand me!” without “you brute” could work. Again, avoid cliché. Editors and readers know what it looks and sounds like, as it’s always followed by a strong urge to role the eyes and sigh heavily.) (Unless cliché is what you’re going for. That’s always a possibility.)

Panel 5: A frowning (Do you talk when you’re frowning? When I frown, it’s expressing displeasure and a time when I deliberately don’t want to talk. Think about this. Look up pictures online that show this behavior.) Korr has his hand on her shoulder as he guides her towards the shackles on the wall. (“The shackles are just over here, Princess.” That’s what “guiding” is. It also implies the wall is far enough away that they have to walk a distance to get to it. Is this accurate?) He’s leaning close to her. She still looks put off that he’s even touching her. King Grawl stands in the background, his back to them. (Why is Grawl still standing there, let alone with his back to them? Is he pouting or refusing to acknowledge they exist? If he’s standing there, shouldn’t he be relishing his victory and watching the whole thing?) His hands are clasped behind his back. (This, my dear Mr. Mills, is what’s known as a “forced action.” The king’s action doesn’t make sense in the larger scheme of things, even for cliché. That’s basically what Steve is saying.)

Korr: Hey, I’m just doing my job.

Madison: And you do it well, you living stain! (Ooooo… that insult cuts to the core… NOT! You’re forcing words out and it doesn’t sound like you’re testing them by saying them aloud.)(Actually, I smiled at this one.)

The more I’m reading, the more I’m seeing cliché dialogue and poor choices of adjectives and verbs to describe feelings and actions. And again, what’s seen and what’s said aren’t meshing together. Use the reference tools available to you.

P2, and I’m not yet sure why this is titled for the guards. I think this could have started out much differently, and so the guards in question (titular or no) would be much more prominent.

To borrow a newspaper term, I feel like you’re burying your lede.

I would love to see this done differently. I would love to see the guards at the forefront of the story. Instead they’re in the background, and while that’s generally fine, it isn’t when they’re supposed to be the stars of the show.

I’m reminded of a comedic Star Wars book. I didn’t buy it, but I loved the concept: a couple of stormtroopers unwittingly helped the the Rebels do their thing. (I think. Like I said, I didn’t buy the book, but the concept had me laughing.) I believe it was published by Dark Horse. Anyway, these two bumblers were front and center of the story, even though it was something of a retelling of Star Wars. Basically, think of it as Star Wars from their point of view, instead of following the Rebels around (and occasionally Vader).

This feels like the opposite of that so far. It feels like we’re following the king instead of the guards.

Cliche.

Cliche has its place. Cliche, by definition, is overused, but it when used properly, it can also be fun, and thus, original.

I feel like you’re trying to approach fun here. I can dig it. I just don’t think you’ve gone far enough in one direction to reach it. You haven’t yet given us the purpose for it. We’re still waiting.

Page 3 (five panels)

Panel 1: Looking at King Grawl, who is facing away from Korr and Madison, who are in the background. His smile is an evil grin. (Again, Grawl has speech. Grinning doesn’t seem like a plausible descriptor. Let him act.) Over Grawl’s shoulder, Korr is chaining Madison’s shackles to the wall. He looks glum, his shoulders slumped. Madison is ignoring Korr and is glaring at Grawl.

I’m trying to capture what it is you’re trying to say about Korr. Here are some words you have used to describe him, his feelings, and his reactions: Startled, dumbfounded, nervous, troubled, frowning, and glum. Is he supposed to be presented as mentally disabled, because to be honest, every word you use to describe him reminds me of Lenny Small from “Of Mice and Men”? You’re presenting him as very dimwitted, both in expression/action and in his dialogue (which goes back to the “Duh, just passing by” comment from before). Do something more with him, as you’re limiting your character’s potential, which is something a writer such as John Steinbeck didn’t do with such a strong (literal and figurative) character.

Grawl: Let your knights come, princess. When I’m done with you, they won’t even recognize their lovely Madison.

Madison: I’m not afraid of your torture, Grawl! Your sick mind won’t get any satisfaction from this princess! (Groan…)(Oh, that was bad!)

Grawl: Oh (Missing comma) you’ll scream, princess. (The focus is on the wrong word. It should be “you’ll scream”, if you’re going that direction.)(This is why I’m generally against stresses in word balloons. If there wasn’t one, I would have read it the way I intended, and possibly the way you intended. I’m reminded of Yoda talking to Luke about starting the training.) I didn’t become king of the orcs by playing nice. (I’m seriously shaking my head at how bad this dialogue is in general. Role-play! Say it aloud! Anything that will bring this out into the open and out of the realm of assumption.)

SFX Chains: Clink. (A sound effect doesn’t get a period. That makes this dialogue being spoken by chains.)(And it makes it seem bored at that.)

Panel 2: Reverse the camera so we are now looking over Korr’s shoulder at Grawl in the background. Korr is now at the princess’ feet, shackling them to the wall. He’s wincing and uncomfortable with what Grawl is saying. (Ryan, my friend! The be your cue. Because this? This has major problemage. Loose the krak—um, pencil!)

Grawl: First you will be whipped with thorns, your soft skin will be slashed to ribbons.

Grawl: Then I will introduce you to the horrors of the claw mangler. I’m sure you’ve heard of that one from the prison camps of Drok.

SFX Shackles: Clamp. (No period)

I could keep harping on the bad dialogue each time there’s a line written, but you get the idea that you need to work on it.

Panel 3: Same shot as Panel 2. Now Korr’s eyes are half-open and he has a look of flat exasperation (ref) on his face. (When I clicked on the reference hyperlink, it didn’t give me an image, but rather a bunch of gobbledygook. And by the way, there are a lot of different ways to express exasperation visually, but it begs the questions: Is Korr reacting to his frustration of the chains causing him trouble or is he just wanting the king to shut the hell up? Are his eyes rolled back in an “I can’t believe he isn’t shutting up!” reaction or his body getting involved with arms being thrown up in the air? You aren’t giving us enough to work with.) Grawl is still behind him.

Grawl: And how about a shower of stinging hellfire beetles? It is said that their bite is the most painful experience in the world.

Panel 4: Looking at Grawl again, similar to Panel 1. His expression is still confident and cocky. There is a large, dark shape rising from over Grawl’s shoulder. It should be all black, with two blank white, angry eyes. Madison is in the background, looking at the shape, shocked. (If this is Korr, you’ve jumped in time and skipped the actions that would result in his being directly behind the king. This would have also shown a build up of anger. With that said [and again, if this is Korr], why is he a dark figure hidden from the light that has obviously been present from foreground to background in previous panels?) (If this figure is cloaked in shadow and is standing behind the king and in front of the princess, then you’ve seriously got a problem with knowing where your light sources are. Again, that is if this is a figure cloaked in shadow. If the figure is made of shadow, that’s something totally different. And Schuyler? What has Mr. Mills forgotten to do these last couple of panels?)

Grawl: Then perhaps we’ll end the day by whipping you again.

Panel 5: Grawl is smashed in the back/side of the head (Back or side. Make the decision.) by the orc guard’s spiky mace. The dark figure is not visible, only the mace is. No background details, just the action and color.

SFX: Clud!

Grawl: Gwarg! (Say this out loud. Does this honestly sound real? I can’t even pronounce it properly in my head, let alone out loud.)

This was not a fun page to read, but then again, none of this so far has been fun. Yes, you had Grawl throwing out ideas on how he could terrorize the princess and had Korr react, but it’s the way you’re describing things that is getting me annoyed, that and the way the dialogue is just dragging this even deeper into a hole. Your concept is sound, but your delivery isn’t effective. Work on your descriptions and dialogue A LOT more.

P3, and I kinda feel like a broken record. Where’s my new thing to say?

Let’s get personal! (I’d call that a Darkwing Duck reference, but there are times when I think I’m the only one who knows what I’m talking about. My girlfriend definitely doesn’t, but she’ll tell anyone that she’s pop-culture challenged. Severely. No, really. Like a lot.)

So, we’re waiting to close on the house. The current closing date is on 3/17, with our stuff slated to come on 3/18, but we’re hoping to get it done before that if at all possible. She has great credit, and the house is extremely well within her means, so it’ll be fine. It’s my first house. Well, first as being an owner. And it’ll be paid off in a few years, because she doesn’t like bills.

My girlfriend is smart. Hella smart. She’s got five degrees, one of which is a PhD, and two of which are Masters. The woman is extremely intelligent. (I have no idea why she’s with me.) However, she wants to do something that I find curious.

Remember that she’s not a pop-culture person. She’s never owned a television. She’s had them before, but they were always someone else’s. She’s never owned one for herself.

Me? I’m the movie person. I’ve cut the cord a couple of years ago because the cable expense was just too much, and while I occasionally miss football, I definitely miss tennis and TCM. But I have Netflix and Amazon Prime and a pretty good selection of films. I can make do.

The house is beautiful. Built in 1921, it has everything you think a house built in that time would have: an honest to goodness icebox for ice deliveries, and a fireplace in the living room. It’s simply a gorgeous house.

Now, this woman who has never owned a television in her life but who has owned several houses, one of which was also old and had a fireplace…wants to put a flat-screen television over said fireplace.

I said no. She asked why. I said because of the heat and soot from the smoke. She said there will be no heat because the chimney will protect it, and there will be no smoke because the chimney is clean.

I looked at my doctor. My Doc. (I call her Doc. I’m the only one to do so, and she likes it. I stopped calling her Doc and she asked why, so I made a conscious effort to do so. My Doc.) I looked at my terribly smart Doc and I said to her that no matter what you do, there will be heat and soot that will quickly (a few years) ruin the television we’re going to spend money on. She doesn’t believe me, so I told her to research it. She’ll see why it’s a terrible idea.

And that, my friends, is much more interesting than anything I’d have to say about this page of script. Nothing new, let’s see what the next page brings.

Page 4 (one panel)

Panel 1: Splash page. Korr stands above the fallen body of King Grawl. He looks grumpy, glaring down at the king’s body. Korr is no longer stooping. His body is big and imposing. Grawl is crumpled at his feet, unconscious, but not dead. In the background, Madison is still chained to the wall, looking shocked. (I really wish you could get out of using the terms “shocked” and “startled”. They are safe words when used repeatedly, but come across as a lack of imagination or research on your part of other words that could substitute. It kind of reminds me of when I ask my daughter how she’s doing, how her day at school was, and how her boyfriend is doing: “Good”.)(Yeah. This is terrible. I’ll explain why in a moment.)

Korr: That’s enough outta you!

Madison: What did you do?! (Isn’t this pretty damned obvious?)

This is ENTIRELY Lenny Small as an orc! If you don’t already have character sheets, you need to make some, because wondering throughout four pages if this is what Korr is all about based on ineffective descriptors capturing little more than the surface is annoying as hell. Make it as straightforward for your co-creators (not just the artist) as possible so they can effectively represent him.

Having read ahead a bit, I’m going to stop here as I’m still seeing the same issues, for which I was neither shocked nor startled.

Steve has stopped, which means I can, too! Thanks for lending a hand, Steve. You’ve been missed.

Let’s run this down, shall we?

Format: Flawless Victory!

Panel Descriptions: These need some work.

One of the things I’m not going to get into because Schuyler has to chime in on it. Steve touched on it, but Schuyler will be very pleased to take center stage for a bit.

Ryan will, of course, do what he does best with that panel that has problemage.

That leaves us with a discussion on lighting.

You have three levels to most panels: the fore, mid/middle, and background. The foreground is to the front (fore), the middle is in the middle, and the background is in the back. This is all illusion and a trick of depth perception, so we’ll say it another way.

The foreground is near the bottom of the panel, the middleground is, you guessed it, in the middle of the panel, and the background is near the top of the panel. Now, we all know where we’re looking when I’m talking about the shadowed figure.

The princess is in the background, because she’s looking at the king. The shadow is between her and the king, placing it in the middle, which leaves the king in the foreground. The question that needs to be asked is this:

Where’s the light source?

Yes, I get the humor of wrapping the guard in shadows. It’s something that isn’t out of place in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. But this isn’t that. The princess is in light, and the king is in light, so where do the shadows come from? They have to come from somewhere. When doing the visual gag (I’m hoping it was a gag), you didn’t take the light source, or lack thereof, into account.

Now, there is a way out.

The way out is really the way through: you have to go over the top with comedic visual gags in order for this to come off. I’m talking about a full-on Tex Avery kind of physical comedy that you didn’t approach here. Doing that would get you out of the jam you put yourself in.

Pacing: I don’t have much of a problem with the pacing except to say that I think waiting four pages for one of the guards—who still isn’t named—to do something is taking too long. Two pages at most, not four.

Dialogue: Steve didn’t like it, finding it to be very cliched.

I try to give the benefit of the doubt when I can. I’m hoping that it was part of a plan. I’m hoping the cliched, nearly over-the-top dialogue had a purpose, and that purpose was to be humorous.

If that were the case, I’d call this a partial success. It approached humor, and I actually smiled at one point, which is a good thing. There just needs to be more going in that direction.

If it wasn’t intended…there is a lot of work ahead of you. A lot of work. I would suggest watching romantic comedies from the 40s-60s. Black and whites. Or better yet, watch some Chaplin. Personally, whenever I watch a silent movie, I want to add my own dialogue to the head-nodding and mouthings they make at each other, between the placards. And Chaplin was a master of visual storytelling. Go for some Chaplin.

Content: As a reader, I wasn’t overly bored. I may not have gone the full distance into reading the entire thing, but I may not have put it down immediately. That says something.

Editorially, this needs a conversation, and then a rewrite. The conversation is to talk about the goals of the piece and how best to get those goals on paper, with the rewrite being the implementation of the plans of the conversation. More fun, and getting the guards to the forefront and named quicker. That’s what the rewrite would be about.

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

Like what you see? Steve and I are available for your editing needs. Steve can be reached here. You can email me directly from my info below.

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Category: Columns, The Proving Grounds

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him.

Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics.

If you’re looking for editing, contact him at [email protected] for rate inquiries.

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