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TPG Week 166: Padding Is Not Your Friend

| March 1, 2014


Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Michael Hasset. We have Steve Colle back in the calming blue, I’m firing off in red, and we’re going to see what Michael does with

Mind Expanding Adventures of Sparky and His Homies #2

Just as an aside to start things off, I don’t like the fact that the margins were basically obliterated in the document. The text was so close to the edges of the page that I kept losing the left side of the text. When you submit a document to an editor, make sure you have clear margins established. Otherwise, it looks like you’re trying to cheat your way into having more text on the page. This is the type of thing I’ve seen in the past, especially with submitted cover letters and story synopses that have editorial direction to be within a strict page count. Believe me, as editors, we know the tricks and they don’t impress us in the least. End of rant. Now, onto the script!

PAGE #1        5 Panels

Panel 1: A wide shot of Sparky, Shroomy, Smokey and Chuck all in a clearing in the woods. Shroomy and Smokey are on the left sitting next to each other roasting hot dogs over a campfire. Smokey has a responsible 2 on his stick. Shroomy has like seven on a stick that looks like he ripped it off of a buck’s head. (You mean the stick looks more like a branch that resembles antlers, right?) Sparky is on the other side reclined back onto his backpack pointing over the top of the fire back at Shroomy with a bottle of beer in his right hand. (The insinuation is that it’s a bottle of beer, but how do you expect the artist to specify that in the visual? Could be a bottle of pop, for example. Is it important to the story? If so, it might be a good idea to close in on the label. Props should serve the story, in this case to develop the character.)(Is the fact that it’s beer important? Could it just be a beverage? Reminds me of the small kerfluffle of Clark Kent talking to his father while holding a can of beer. It was changed from generic beer to generic root beer. It was unimportant, as this seems to be.) Chuck is in the background with his back to us holding up some kind of electrical device. It is just a small handheld box with a few lights on it and an antenna. Chuck seems to be scanning the trees that compose the background. Above the trees is a clear starry night.

Shroomy: I still can’t believe you won’t talk about it (Missing comma) Sparky… (10)

Shroomy: It’s just a kiss. (14)

Chuck: Yeah (Missing comma) one he’s been waiting for since fifth grade. (23)

Shroomy: You gonna obsess over this one like last time? (32)

Sparky: Know what? Forget you both! You (“You” should be accentuated here to read “YOU”.) try waiting a DECADE for a second kiss!(46)

Sparky: Besides, I plan on there being many more. (54)

Smokey: Have you even talked to her since the dance? (63)

So, the dialogue sounds pretty natural, but my first question is whether or not there’s going to be enough room in the panel for all of this back and forth? I can see this in a splash page, for example, but you’ll need a large enough frame to accommodate text and the visual behind it. The second question begs the question: Do you need all of this dialogue or can it be cut down? I know what you’re going for, but more isn’t necessarily better. Think about it.

63 words in this one panel. A lot of back and forth for a five panel page. Like Steve, I don’t think this is going to fit. Remember that word balloons also have negative space to take up.

Panel 2: Looking over the top of the fire at Sparky who is looking into the empty bottle of beer. (Looking into it doesn’t make it empty. Turning it upside down to show nothing coming out while looking at it does.)

Sparky: We’ve talked. Hung out once or twice. She’s busy with studying.

Sparky: Unlike us (Missing comma) Sparkette has to earn her grades.

Panel 3: 2-Shot of Smokey and Shroomy looking at each other confused. Shroomy is chewing one of his seven hot dogs. (I’m not understanding the purpose of this shot. Who are they responding to with this body language? If it’s to the comment Sparky just made, then it isn’t necessary to have a silent panel of them looking at each other, confused. If they’re curiously looking past Sparky at Chuck with his monitoring device in the previous panel, then I can see why you’d have this panel. However, the panel descriptions don’t lead me in that direction.)

Panel 4: A closer in version of Panel 1. Chuck is closer to Smokey and Shroomy still scanning the trees around them. Sparky has sat up and is gesturing toward Chuck with his thumb. They’re all looking at Chuck with the scanner.

Sparky: You know…

Sparky: Our extra-curricular activities.

Now I’m the one who’s confused. You’re talking about Sparkette and her need to study, then all of a sudden, you jump to a reference of their extracurricular activities without something to bridge or transition the dialogue, such as a “by the way” or “speaking of which”. Try to make the transition smooth and cohesive.

It’s even worse than that. What do grades have to do with extra-curricular activities? I don’t know, either.

Shroomy: Speaking of which (Missing comma) that FML reader…

Smokey: I told you (Missing comma) Shroomy, (Period instead of comma) EMF.

Sparky: Like you… (Period instead of ellipsis) Enormous Mother-effer.

Shroomy: … (Take out the ellipsis) Either way (Missing comma) it hasn’t shown us jack.

Panel 5:  Chuck is in the foreground in the middle of the panel looking up off panel where he is holding the EMF reader. Behind him in the background on the left Sparky is pulling another beer from his backpack. On the right Shroomy is taking another bite of hot dog. Smokey is poking the fire with a stick.

Smokey: I still can’t believe our ghost hunt turned up nothing.

Sparky: Smokey, out of all of us, I can’t believe you thought it would.

Shroomy: Really? After all we’ve seen? (This sounds like it should be Smokey’s dialogue.)

Shroomy: What do you think happens when we die (Missing comma) then? (As should this.)

There seems to be a lot of lead in for what could very well have been a single paneled page featuring the contents of Panel 5. It appears to me, because this is the second issue to a previous story intro, that the casual banter could have been applied to the end of the last issue to avoid the redundancies of build up here. Get to the point. Don’t pussyfoot around. The other thing is your love of ellipsis marks and the lack of commas. Don’t overuse the ellipses and definitely learn the basics of punctuation. There’s really no excuse for the absence of commas.

P1 is on the books!

A lot of back and forth, but really, these five panels are really three. Two of them can be cut (and the dialogue cut down) without harming the thrust of the page. There’s padding here, both in panel and word count.

It also feels like there’s one too many characters here. Chuck seems to be superfluous. Smokey should probably have the EMF. It stops you from having someone just standing around.

The dialogue sounds natural, but there’s too much of it that doesn’t do anything. And like Steve said, learn to use a comma.


PAGE #2        6 Panels

Panel 1: Looking directly down at their campfire. Sparky has his beer up to his lips the moment before drinking, his eyes are closed and head tilted slightly back. Next to him Chuck is crouched down and is holding a beer freshly pulled from the back pack. (When did he pull it from the backpack?) On the other side of the fire Smokey is laying down looking up at us. (If he’s looking up at us, then is the camera behind Sparky and Chuck? I’m trying to visualize exactly where your camera would be placed here.) Shroomy is next to him reloading his stick with more hot dogs. (Did he eat all of them on the previous page?)

Sparky: Worm food. Eternal dreamless sleep. But who knows? I’ve been wrong before.

Sparky: You guys?

Shroomy: There’s definitely something… Probably heaven and hell.

Smokey: I think our souls are a kind of universal electricity and our bodies the light bulbs.

Smokey: When you turn out a light, the electricity is still there (Missing comma) just pumping through something else.

Chuck: How very cosmic karma of you (Missing comma) Smokey.

Smokey: And what about you (Missing comma) Charles?

Again, you’re putting a lot of text into a small panel. You really need to consider this when writing the script. Where is the artist going to put the components of the visual of everything is covered up by words?

Panel 2: Chuck has sat down next to Sparky but we don’t necessarily need to see Sparky. Maybe just the backpack full of beer. (How do we know it’s full of beer? How do you show that?) Just to give a sense of where Chuck is. He is staring at the fire and twisting the top off his beer. (This is the first real indication that it’s beer, by having the twist off cap.)

SFX: ksst

Chuck: God, the Devil, Heaven and Hell for sure.

Shroomy: (o/p) Seriously??

Panel 3: Shroomy’s head and shoulders in the foreground Smokey’s legs and feet stretching away from us. On the other side of the fire Sparky and Chuck are giving each other a fist bump looking at each other very pleased with themselves for being so drastically different. It’s like it’s their own little twin inside joke. (I’m assuming your artist already knows that these two are twins and that they would have known to draw them as such in the previous panels of this issue, right?)

Shroomy: How the hell are you two even related?

Smokey: Worst. Twins. Ever.

Chuck: The Twin Paradox of a Catholic upbringing. (I don’t get this line.)

Sparky: I had it beat into and out of me. (Into AND out? Shouldn’t it be one or the other?)(Not really. It’s just a lot of beating.)

Chuck: And it stuck with me.

Panel 4: A straight on shot of Sparky with his hands on the ground about to stand up.

Sparky: Know what?

Panel 5: Looking up at Sparky from a kind of ¾ view, he is now standing with his beer raised in salute over the fire.

Sparky: Eff it. Whatever awaits us (Missing comma) I’m sure we’ll get there together.

Sparky: To the afterlife (Missing comma) gentlemen!

Panel 6: Pull out from the last panel to include Chuck, Shroomy and Smokey, AND this issue’s client, THADDEUS RICHMOND. Sparky is still standing with his beer raised in salute. Thad has materialized next to and behind Sparky with his beer mug raised next to Sparky’s beer. Thad glows blue and is semi-transparent. Thad is from the pilgrim times and he is dressed in time-era appropriate clothing. He’s about Sparky’s height definitely larger in the waist region, but not as big as Shroomy. More on his background to come. Sparky hasn’t noticed Thad because he sees the rest of the boys reacting to Thad’s sudden appearance. He’s just confused. Thad is smiling. Chuck is still sitting on the ground behind Sparky and he is doing a dramatic spit take. On the other side of the fire Shroomy and Smokey are holding each other eyes bugging out of their heads. (Is this a profile shot of the group? That’s the only way I can see every detail you’ve written to be somewhat represented. Not the greatest shot, though. I would suggest splitting the image into two separate panels and having the appearance of the apparition be face on and then switch to a front shot of Shroomy and Smokey with their reactions.)


Second page in and what I’m getting is a lot of blah blah blah. How is the dialogue forwarding the story? It’s needless banter. My impression is to get to the story, because right now, it feels like you’re filling space. I compare it to having a large shipping box with a small item going into it, then having to fill the rest of the box with packing materials. On the receiving end, I don’t want to have to go through tons of packaging to get to this tiny item. Here’s another analogy: My daughter recently bought a small bag of chips that, when opened, had a single solitary chip in the bag. The rest was air. This is very similar to what you’ve got here, Michael. Lots of air and not enough actual story. Get past the banter, making everything that’s said and done count.

P2, and except for the ghost appearing, nothing else is happening. Most of this is padding, too. These first two pages can be combined into one page, with the final image being a reaction to the apparition, and then the apparition being shown on P2. The pacing is off, because you have a ton of padding (mostly in the dialogue that doesn’t do anything.)


PAGE #3        6 Panels

Panel 1: In a wide shot the boys are huddled with their heads together and arms around each-other’s shoulders on the left side of the panel. On the right side Thad is still standing next to the fire just looking at them. (When did Chuck and Sparky run over to the other two guys? Also, you’re trying to go for a comedic reaction, but it’s falling flat. It’s stereotypical.)

Sparky: Now what? Tell him to haunt the woods all he wants (Missing comma) but leave the hikers us alone?

Shroomy: Dude (Missing comma) he clearly has unfinished business.

Sparky: So we solve it for him and POOF! Buh-byspook?

Chuck: Let’s just ask him why he’s here.

Panel 2: Looking at just the boys in the huddle Sparky has stuck his head up to yell over the top of the other three off panel at Thad.

Sparky: YO! Ghost man! What’s your deal?

Panel 3: The boys in the foreground. Thad is closer to them now. He is floating toward them. He’s probably half way between them and the fire he was just next to.

Thad: Fire doth glow warm (Missing ending punctuation.)(I almost lost it right here…)

Thad: Be Art thoust saviors to my soul?

Thad: My cup runneth low (Missing ending punctuation.)

Smokey: Did he just ask for a beer? In a haiku?

Sparky: Ugh. I am not drunk enough for this one.

Panel 4: A group shot of the boys seen through Thad. Not his POV, actually through his body. Chuck has separated himself from the rest who now stand behind him. He is gesturing to himself with his left hand on his chest and with his right he’s trying to count syllables. (How do you count physically in a static single image?) Smokey and Shroomy are sheepishly waving. Sparky has his arms crossed and looks really annoyed.

Chuck: OK Okay. Ummm…

Chuck: Dead (Missing comma) but alive speak (Huh? And what about the ending punctuation?)

Chuck: Truth thy name? thy death? we be (What in the world are you trying to say here? And where is your ellipsis or other punctuation?)

Chuck: Chuck Sparky Shroomy (The way this is written without punctuation sounds like it’s all one person’s name.)

Smokey: And Smokey

Sparky: Eff my life. This stupidity is contagious.

The dialogue is getting worse as we move along through the story.

Panel 5: Wide shot from the side Sparky is on the extreme left. He has his arms crossed and is facing us. Smokey is standing nearer to Sparky but is nodding towards Chuck, Shroomy and Thad. Chuck has moved a little closer to Thad and Shroomy has joined them. They are on the right side of the panel. Thad is excited to be having his first conversation in 300+ years. There are two conversations going on at once. Smokey and Sparky on the left and Thad and Shroomy and Chuck on the right.

Smokey: Aren’t you coming? This is what we were JUST talking about!

Sparky: Nope. Not enough beer left for me to start contemplating my own mortality tonight.

Sparky: I’m exhausted. I’m delegating this one to you guys.

Thad: Hark! Kindred Soul! Chuck!

Thad: Thaddeus Richmond be am I! (If you had at least shown you had done some sort of research on the dialect, it would have a better chance of sliding by. However, it’s just another thing on the pile of crap that this is.)

Thad: Dead sixteen score thus!       (He knows how long he’s been dead and can calculate it?)

Shroomy: Neat! Lemme try.

Shroomy: How about… Be thou cursed? If nay (Missing ending punctuation.)

Shroomy: What be unfinished for thou?

Shroomy: Lost Love? Tragic end?

This? This is trash. Ten balloons in a single panel? No. This has just slipped into crap. And I haven’t even read the words yet.

Panel 6:  Tight bust shot looking down at Sparky falling asleep. (Wasn’t he just standing with his arms crossed? When did he lie down?) His eyes are just about to fully close. He’s laid back against the trunk of a tree. This shot should be lit by the campfire. It will change on the next page.

Thad: (o/p) Tragedy, yes! Love!

Thad: (o/p) Lost to life’s pursuit, po’try (Are you trying to say “poetry” or “poultry”? Spell it out. No shortcuts here.)

Thad: (o/p) Lost to the afterlife (Seriously, what is with the missing punctuation?? I’m finding it all over the place!)

It seems to me like you’re trying to go for an ‘80’s Bill & Ted vibe, but it isn’t working. Here’s what you have so far: Four (stoner) friends are in the woods talking about life and their thoughts on the afterlife. Suddenly a ghost appears out of nowhere with a glass of ale in his hand as he stands next to Sparky, also with a beer in his hand. The quartet are scared, but the ghost seems friendly and they try to communicate with him. I‘m personally uninterested because the story is taking forever to move along. This is the second issue, and yet it’s not performing the duties of a second issue, which is to continue developing the story and building upon the characters set up in the first issue. This has the feel of a first issue, which makes me wonder what happened in #1. 

While Steve has summed up what has happened so far, there still is no story! It’s P3! How is there no story? How is any of this supposed to be interesting?

A ghost shows up, and then there’s the horrible attempt at Elizabethan English. It’s enough to make my eyes bleed. I half want to correct it, half want to run away screaming, and half want to let it be as it possibly being in character for a group of what looks to be stoner slackers. I don’t care that that’s three halves. Now you start to know part of my pain.

I guess it’s time for a story.

I have a cousin who’s more like my brother. A younger brother. He’s a stoner, which is a damned shame, because he’s intelligent and has a ton of potential. He just doesn’t apply himself. Sad, really.

So, one weekend, I’m home from my base in upstate New York. I go to see my cousin, among other family, and he’s already high. And he has an idea! It’s a great idea! I’m going to love it, and I’m going to write the hell out of it! He doesn’t know why no one has ever thought of it before.

Robin was going to fight Batman!

He then goes to describe this fight in onomatopoeia. Really, you can’t make this stuff up. He’s throwing slow-motion kicks and punches, falling backwards, rolling along the floor, and generally making a fool of himself. He’s saying that Robin lunges, Batman blocks, and so on and so forth. He’s just describing the fight. He’s not giving any dialogue, nor any reason for the fight. He’s just describing the fight.

(Also, Cyborg is there, but he’s just a spectator.)

So the fight ends, the pantomiming ends, and he looks at me with all sincerity and asks me what I think. I tell him two words.

You’re high.”

Then he says that that’s technically true, but has no bearing on anything. He then launches into a tangent about how most things depends on a point of view, and how most things aren’t facts because they depend on a point of view and a majority agreeing on that point of view, and further down the rabbit hole he went. Why? Because he was high.

I tell this story to illustrate a few points. First, you can tell an interesting story about people being high. Second, when you’re high, you’re not very objective. And third, when you’re high, it is extremely difficult to get your vision across, because your mind has been altered. It’s like being able to taste a color. (An orange. Is it a fruit or a color? Think about it and its permutations.)

And I did in a few paragraphs what you couldn’t in three pages.


PAGE #4        6 Panels

Panel 1: Same bust shot from last panel last page, but now we are lit by the moon, this is a dream sequence. Sparky is still asleep. (How is the reader supposed to know this is a dream sequence?)

Panel 2: CU on Sparky waking up. Eyes wide open like he was startled awake.

Panel 3: A long shot of Sparky wandering in the woods, we are on ground level with him. (When did he stand up to prepare for walking?) He’s off in the background coming towards us. He is on edge, looking off panel to the right. There is a disembodied voice talking to him. (I get Steve’s point. Even though you have six panels here, what you also have is an awkward compression of time. The reader will feel like you skipped a step. That isn’t fun. Another panel needs to be added between panels 2 and 3 to bridge the gap.)

Sparky: Sparkette? Hun?

Sparky: Where are you??

Voice: It is OK. There is no need to worry. You are doing the right thing here.

Panel 4: Looking down at Sparky from up in a tree, a little bit higher than his head level. He’s looking not so much at us but through us. He looks worried and confused. The trees are getting closer to him. Like he is in a thicker part of the woods. His surroundings are getting darker like someone is lowering the dimmer switch on the moon. (This panel cannot be drawn. It’s actually a moving panel.)

Voice: The cost may not be fair (Missing comma) but it is the right thing to do.

Panel 5: A mid-shot of Sparky in profile he is in a completely black panel. (If it’s a completely black panel, how can we see the visual of his profile?) He has his hands out in front of him trying to feel his way around like he is blind, and he is frantically yelling, panicked and freaking out.

Sparky: Sparkette!

Voice: You always do the right thing.


Sparky: SPARK-ETTE!!!

Panel 6: Back to the bust shot from panel 1. It is daylight now and Sparky is just opening his eyes and he doesn’t look like he actually slept. (Why end the page with his waking up instead of leaving with the hook of his screaming out in the darkenss, then opening with this daylight shot on the next page?)

I honestly have no idea what this page was supposed to do. The last we heard about Sparkette, Sparky was referring to her studying habits. I’m seriously hoping you had something in your first issue to tie this dream sequence to, causing it to have a reason for being. Right now, it’s completely lost on me.

Know what P4 is, folks? Padding! That’s right. Unless it has some bearing in the first issue, this page does nothing at all to push the story forward.

There’s no setup. There’s no indication as to why this is important, or how it could have any bearing on the story. Why? Because no one’s talked about it, no one’s had any anxiety about what might happen when this guy falls asleep, no one’s connected to it on an emotional level. Not beforehand. That’s why this page is padding. What happens to the narrative if you cut this page? Not one thing.

They’re supposed to be ghost hunters or something, and instead of talking about the ghost, we go into a dream. There are better uses of your time and comic book real estate. This was a waste of time and effort.


PAGE# 5        7 Panels

The top ¾ of the page is a bird’s eye view of the woods. There are four panels in this part. Each panel is a cut-in/x-ray view of them from above walking through the woods. They are moving top to bottom and zigzagging through the woods. Leave a tiny bit of space at the bottom to show the clearing where they met Smokey in #1.

Panel 1: The boys are heading home. Thad is floating along behind them.

Sparky: So, what’s the damage?

Shroomy: Your boy here was the town drunk.

Chuck: And self-proclaimed town poet.

Sparky: Right. Of course he was.

Panel 2: Further down.

Smokey: But his poetry was so God-awful (Missing comma) it got him banished from the town.

Sparky: No. Shit.

Chuck: No (Missing comma) bro, it was seriously deadly.

Chuck: He killed several small animals, even a cow! (You’re telling me that his reciting poetry killed animals? Excuse me? This makes no sense whatsoever. At least in SHREK, Fiona’s high pitched singing/screech made the bird explode, but this?)

Shroomy: Right. So his girl, the town beauty, begged him to stop.

Panel 3: Zig and a Zag.

Sparky: Thank God he listened to her.

Smokey: Well (Missing comma) her Dad was the town elder.

Smokey: She knew he was starting to quietly accuse Thad of witchcraft. (Quietly accuse?)

Sparky: Wait. I think I can fill in the rest… (cont.)

Panel 4: At the bottom of the woods about to exit.

Sparky: (cont.) …Pops dropped dead at Thadwick’s next “performance” (Missing comma) where he was gonna have him tried and arrested and alla that. (I know you’re trying to slang the words “all of”, but it’s coming across as confusing. It might be better to simply say “stuff like that” instead.)

Chuck: Exactly! So they just escorted him to the woods and banished him.

Shroomy: Doomed to create poetry ‘til it doesn’t suck anymore.

Panel 5: Looking over Sparky’s shoulder at the rest of them at the tree line. Thad is just sheepishly grinning and has his shoulders and hands up in a shrug. They are all looking toward Sparky like a class looks to a teacher for answers. (This is the first bit of acting the characters have done on this page.)

Sparky: So glad to be back alive. (Huh? What do you mean?) C’mon let’s get him back to our room.

Chuck: Can’t. He can’t cross in from the woods.

Sparky: Jesus. OK Okay (Missing comma) Habeas Corpus. Stay close and out of sight. We’ll work on your case.

Panel 6: CU of Thad nervously still smiling that smile. Like someone who doesn’t speak the same language as Sparky.

Panel 7: Mid-range shot Sparky is walking away from everyone again shaking his head and waving them off. His body language looks deflated. The rest are looking at Thad now almost apologetically for how Sparky is acting.

Sparky: Know what? ‘Nough of this crap for me.

Sparky: Someone translate what I just said.

Okay, I’m stopping here. Know what? ‘Nough of this crap for me, too.

I’m very curious as to what you had in your first issue, because this is not making any sense. They want to bring a ghost back to their room? He killed with his poetry? Whoa.

I can understand what you’re trying to do, Michael, but it isn’t shaping itself into a good story. The dialogue started out pretty natural, though needless banter, and quickly went downhill into nonsense. I feel, as I’ve been reading through it, like I’m seeing a bad stage play in my head, one that I want to get up from and leave out the closest exit. What is your direction with this story? How can your actors be more natural?

I’ll tell you, right from the get go, I had some serious issues with the names of your characters as they sound like druggies more than just simple teens/young adults who drink beer and don’t swear openly. It seems like you’ve opened the floodgates of potential with their names, and yet are holding the water back, preventing the character/personality associated with those names to come through. You’re stifling your creation. Put simpler names to them if you aren’t going to take advantage of the traits associated with the nicknames.

I’m going to let Steven divide up his comments as he does so well.

Yeah. Just going to run this down, so I can run away.

Format: Flawless Victory! That’s the best thing about this script (aside from the problem Steve had). I didn’t have that problem when it was sent, so I can’t comment on it directly. However, as I’ve been forced to say for the past several weeks, the more your prospective editor has to correct on simple things like format and pitch, the more likely your script is going to be thrown away. Do you have to set up your own margins and such for a script? Not at all. Defaults are generally fine. When you start going wider, or smaller, trying to fit in more text…editors can tell that you’re trying to get over. And if you’re trying to get over on a simple thing like format, what else are you trying to get over on?

Panel Descriptions: Not bad, but they could use clarity. Some of them are unclear, and there are some moving panels in there. Not good. You need to make sure the panel descriptions are describing still images, with a camera angle that can show what you’re describing. You are the first person to “see” the image in your head. You have to put that image in terms that the artist can draw from. If you fail in that, then the comic won’t go anywhere because it can’t be drawn.

Characters have to act, as well. Don’t forget that.

Pacing: There is no real pacing here. You have too many characters talking too much about nothing at all, and that is stalling your story. Five pages, and all we know that’s pertinent is that they’re some kind of ghost hunters, and they’ve met a ghost who killed people with his poetry. That’s the only important thing in five pages? Not good.

The pacing has to serve the story, and the images and dialogue used have to serve the pacing. That isn’t done here. Nothing is serving the pacing. Not good. There’s really only about 2 pages of actual usable material here. Maybe 3, but no more than that.

Dialogue: Like last week, I liked the dialogue. Also like last week, the dialogue is almost completely useless. Not good. Banter that, while natural, isn’t witty, nor does it go anywhere. Dialogue should either reveal character or push the story forward. Most of this isn’t doing either.

Again, the Elizabethan… I don’t know if there is a lack of research here, or if this is supposed to be the correct characterization for these characters. If this is supposed to be the correct characterization, then the ghost should have been slightly befuddled. There was none of that evident, so I’m not able to extend the benefit of the doubt. I have to run with a lack of research, which is another failure on your part.

Punctuation… You need to be fired. If you can’t handle ending punctuation, you can’t handle written language, and should be fired from writing until you learn how to at least use ending punctuation. I can (almost) live with the comma, but ending punctuation? This isn’t even a conversation that I should be having with anyone.

Content: There isn’t much, to be honest. Again, out of the five pages here, half of them are useless. As a reader, I’d be upset with this. I like getting into the story, and this doesn’t get into the story within a reasonable timeframe. And the lack of research for some of the dialogue is an active turnoff.

Editorially, this needs a rewrite, and it needs one badly. I’m also thinking, based solely on this script, that the first issue would need a lot of help, as well. Possibly a total rewrite. I know that this didn’t do what it was supposed to, so it isn’t a far stretch to believe that the first issue did, either. This needs help.


The title and the character names suggest they like to smoke the mari-ju-wanna. However, none of that is evident in these first five pages. You’re starting out at a campfire in the woods—it’s a perfect opportunity that isn’t followed up on. That needs to be fixed.


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


Like what you see? Steve and Sam are available for your editing needs. You can email Steve here, and Sam here. My info is 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 for rate inquiries.

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