Steven Forbes – ComixTribe Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics Sat, 14 May 2016 02:46:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TPG Week 281: The End Of An Era Sat, 14 May 2016 02:46:30 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to the last installment of The Proving Grounds.

Yes, the last. I’ve been saying it for a few weeks now, and the day has finally arrived. This is the last one.

All things must come to an end, and this column’s time has come around…again.

The bulk of you don’t know that this is the second time I’ve done this column. It used to be over at Project Fanboy (which turned into the now-defunct Fanboy Buzz), and ran for about a year. I stepped away from it because I picked up a client who was supposed to have a massive job for me, but that fizzled.

Then Tyler James and I started ComixTribe, and the goal was to give creators something they couldn’t get anywhere else: good, free information and help situated under one roof. I’ve written various columns over the years, but the two that creators have found most helpful have been Bolts & Nuts and The Proving Grounds.

Six years. Hell, I’ll call it six and a half. I’ve had to do some recruiting for scripts every so often, but six and a half years of doing this weekly takes its toll. To be honest, I’m shocked it lasted this long. I’m not easy, and yes, some of it is showmanship, but some of it is also an outlet for the truly crappy scripts that have come through.

Yes, a lot of it is usery. Most of the writers who come through here wanted to take advantage of the free editing. The overwhelming bulk of writers, actually. I don’t mind overmuch. I’ve been able to help those who wanted to be helped, and that’s what this entire adventure was all about.

I want to personally thank each and every one of you. I couldn’t have done it without you. I mean that literally. Without you, there would have been no column.

First, I want to thank my co-editors: Yannick Morin, Steve Colle, Sam LeBas, and Liam Hayes. They’ve all helped to make my job easier over the years. Thank you.

I also want to thank Ryan Kroboth for lending his pencil and his talent these past months. His drawings and excellent explanations of how things writers are submitting are wrong from an artistic standpoint really helped to drive lessons home.

And for those that the six of us helped? They seem to be legion. They are, by name:

John Lees (who submitted a number of times and has been nominated and won awards for his comics), Mike King, Matt Johnson, David Grodsky, Martin Brandt, Kyle Raios (who submitted a number of times), Marcus Thompson (who submitted a number of times) James Fairlie (who submitted a number of times), Tyler James (yup, the CT publisher submitted a number of times and learned), David Herbert, Liam Hayes (yes, before he was an editor, he learned like everyone else—submitting several times), Taj Gunnm, Michael Holcombe, Andre Saunders, John Eboigbe, Jon Parrish (who submitted a number of times and now has works published), Connor MacDonald (who has submitted a number of times), Georg Syphers, Carlos Parra, Lance Boone (who submitted a number of times), Adam Burbey, John Vinson (who has submitted a number of times), LJ Wright (who has submitted a number of times), Noel Burns, Evan Windsor (who submitted a number of times), Yannick Morin (that’s right, he started out as a writer before moving into editing, and he submitted several times), Talisha Harrison (who submitted a number of times), Thaddeus Howze, Kirk McCosker, Christian Hinrichsen, Josue Monserrat, Jeremy Melloul (who submitted a number of times), Eli Ivory, Don Urquhart, Justin Martin (who has submitted a number of times), Matt Johnson (who has submitted a number of times), Laura Morley, Don Pankievicz, Lisa Wilson, Lauren Sinclair, Charles Crane, Jeff Bass, Wes Locher (who submitted a number of times), Stephen Greaney, Sam Roads (whom I dubbed Felix, and who has submitted a number of times), Phillip Bluehorn & Brian Harris, Wolf Beaumont, Justin Kane, Andy Arnott, Damian Wampler, Sarah Rebecca, Rich Chedester, Leo Penha, George Myers, Tim Berry, Steve Colle (that’s right, Steve’s a writer, too, and has submitted a number of times), Eric Holt, Luke Noonan (who has submitted a number of times), Ronnie Massey (who has submitted a number of times), Will Robson (who has submitted a number of times), Esther Alperin, Colby Pryor, Joshua Gorfain, JP Redding, Michael Arlain, Matt Cartmell, Dan Walters (who has submitted a number of times), Aaron Richmond, Chris Gerwel, Greg Matiasevich, Schuyler Van Guten (who has submitted a number of times), Chad Kuffert, Danos Philopoulos, Joseph Veronese, Ryan Kroboth (that’s right, folks—he also tries his hand at writing, and has submitted a number of times), Darren Higham (who has submitted a number of times), Jayson Cardwell, Trevor McNeil, Jourdan McLain (who has submitted a number of times), Chad Handley (who has submitted a number of times), Rich Douek (who has gone on to have his series Gutter Magic published by IDW), Frank Martin (who has submitted a number of times), Sarah Kaplan, Sonja Smith, Fred Duran, Austin Feliciano, Steven Applebaum, Doug Wood, Paul LaPorte, Jeremy Jackson, Nyisha Haynes, Christopher Knox, John Heidt, Oliver Insixiengmay, Ezra Dixon, Calvin Gimpelevich, Tommy Sigalov, Michael Hasset, Cody Stewart (who has submitted a number of times), Dan Dayton, Curt Achberger, Michael Mourounas, Michael Mullane, James Sarandis (who has submitted a number of times), Micah Bryant, Alyssa Crow (who has submitted a number of times), Ben Goldsmith, Justin Schepper, Jim Mello, Luke Pierce (who has submitted a number of times), Andrew Brinkley, Morgan Wellborn, Joshua Crowther (who has submitted a number of times), Chelsea Smith (who has submitted a number of times), JP Polewczak, Jason Bonine, Jose Pereira, Andrew Burgess, Toy Spears, Nanda Lauzan, Paul Im, James Palmer, Rin Kiyoko (who has submitted a number of times), Amit Oren, Daniel O’Reilly, Fabian Andresm, Yontan Schultz, Alex Hutchins, Paul Brian DeBerry, Stewart Vernon, Steven Forbes (yes, I’m thanking myself for submitting a script!), Greg Thayer (who has submitted a number of times), Amit Sharma (who has submitted a number of times), Galen Schultz (who has submitted a number of times), Robert Sprawls, Jason Duke (who submitted one of the absolute worst scripts I’ve ever had the misfortune of having to read here), Aaron Williamson, Eric Brackett, Shawn Milazzo (who has submitted a number of times), Brian Sanford, David Rines, John Long, CJ Kral, Justin Jakimiak, Osvaldo Padilla, Solomon Steen (who has submitted a number of times), Raoul Ricca, Chris Vernon, Edward Davis, Sean Mills (who has submitted a number of times), Jave Galt-Miller (who has submitted a number of times), Jay Van Veen (who has submitted a number of times), Arjun Ramesh (who has submitted a number of times), Troy Bowen, Gene Patrick, Riccardo Martino, Anh Diep (who has submitted a number of times), Michael Gonzalez, Jason Menard, Josh Fay, Michael Roslan, and Gavin Falcon.

That’s a lot of names. Again, I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you, one and all.

Steve Colle won’t be with us this week, so it’s going to be Ryan Kroboth with his wonder-pencil, and myself in red doing the thing I do, one last time. We have Frank Martin coming to us as our last Brave One. We’re all going to get to see how he treats

The Lady from the Lake

Page 1 (5 Panels)

Panel 1

A daytime establishing shot of a homeless man’s tent positioned next to a small lake in the middle of a park. The man, standing in front of the tent and looking out at the lake, is dressed in dirty clothes with a beard. Next to the tent, which looks shabby and patched with rags, is the typical homeless person shopping cart filled with clothes and cans/bottles. A spot on the lake is bubbling as if something is emerging from under the surface. (Where’s the camera?)


Do you remember where I found you?


What your home looked like? Your clothes?

Panel 2

A close up of the bubbling surface as we see an old, ugly woman emerging from the water. She is wearing an old, tattered cloak. Her wet hair is long a clumpy, which barely covers her wart-ridden face with its long nose and asymmetrical cheeks. Like a cliché Halloween witch. (This isn’t the best visual. Not the best explanation. Ryan? It looks like you’re up early. I have two different visions of this: Excalibur’s Lady of the Lake where the woman stayed submerged but she was able to stick her hands out of the water to give/retrieve the sword, and someone rising/descending vertically. I don’t want you to draw them both. I want you to draw what you think is best, based on what’s given.)


You had nothing before you met me.

Panel 3

A close up of the homeless man’s repulsed face at the sight of the woman (who is off panel). We finally get a good look at his face, sunburned and oily. We see the dirt and grime on his skin and in his unkempt beard and hair.


And despite your disgust at the sight of me, I offered you everything.

Panel 4

A side shot as the woman approaches the man. His repulsed face isn’t as intense as the previous panel. It’s relaxing. She is dripping water, holding the cloak tight around her body. Her hideous face is emotionless as they stare each other down. (This doesn’t make much sense. I’m not visualizing it. I keep wanting to do a close-up, but it’s quite obviously at least a mid-shot.)


The deal was simple: take me as your wife and you will be rich beyond your dreams.


I only had one rule…

Panel 5

A shot from behind the man and woman as they are holding hands walking away from the tent/lake and towards a city in the distance.


Never speak a word of where I came from. (Reminds me of a movie. Rae Dawn Chong and Gans. (James Remar, but he’s always going to be Gans to me.) Tales from the Darkside: The Movie. Gans sees a demon, and the demon extracts a promise from him never to reveal he has seen it in exchange for his life. He then finds true love and has a couple of kids. He reveals to her that he saw a demon, and she changes into that demon (and the kids change, too), and she kills him.)

P1 is down, and what do we have?

An empty park.

A very empty park, on what seems to be a very nice day, with something supernatural occurring. Why do I say empty? Because the only people in the park are the homeless man (I’ve become enlightened—he is no longer a “bum”), and the newcomer from the lake.

Is it interesting? Meh. I’d turn the page. It wouldn’t be a terrible thing, but it isn’t that compelling. A good artist could make this compelling. So would making this more of an evening setting. That would at least give the excuse of having fewer people in the park.

That’s the thing that’s getting me the most. I would enjoy the setup a lot more if it were more feasible.

Small park. What’s surrounding it? How far out or how pushed in is the camera? Answering these questions would help to properly populate/de-populate the park. The rest goes from there.

Right now, this doesn’t seem all that reasonable. Not in the middle of the day. Population is important within the context of setting.

Page 2 (5 Panels)

Panel 1

In the middle of a busy Wall Street-esque trading floor, the homeless man, still looking the same as he did in the previous page, has his hand up holding a piece of paper and is yelling (trading stock), similarly to the other men around him all dressed in suits.

CAPTION/MAN (the man is drunk, so his speech font should reflect that)

You think I needed you, bitch? (If these people are talking to each other, like really talking, then these captions need quotation marks.)

Panel 2

This panel is identical to the previous one, except now the man is clean-shaven and wearing a button down shirt. His hair has been cut and cleaned but is still un-styled.


Like you’re some kind of witch?

Panel 3

Identical panel to the previous two, except now the man is wearing a pristine suit. His hair is slicked back and a gold watch can be seen on the wrist of the hand he’s holding in the air.


A raggedy, old good luck charm?

Panel 4

In an empty floor of an office building, the man, still in his slick suit, is smiling and shaking hands with a realtor. In their other hands, the two men are exchanging a piece of paper that has the word “DEED” at the top. The realtor is wearing a nice shirt, but is not dressed as nice as the man. The empty office floor behind the two men is expansive, with large windows along the wall in the back looking out at other skyscrapers.


You didn’t give me anything I didn’t earn on my own. (If he’s supposed to be drunk, he sounds very straight. No slurring words, no mumbles, no cutting off of syllables. You’ve done better, Frank.)

Panel 5

The “camera” is in a similar position from the previous panel as it looks out over the office space. Only now the floor is fully built out with cubicles and glass offices around the edges. Staff is working diligently at their desks and busy walking around.


I built this empire.



P2, and I’m bored.

When you have a short story, you have to move fast. However, in moving fast, you also have to be interesting. You have to be interesting while the story moves.

You’re not being interesting.

I understand that there’s things happening within the story, but there has to be a more dynamic way of getting to it. I shouldn’t be bored on P2. Short stories don’t have time for lulls, and this page is definitely a lull.

There are some thoughts about a homeless man trading on the floor of the NYSE. I understand that you’re showing his transformation, but I’m not seeing it happen in “reality.” I’m not able to suspend my disbelief long enough for it to happen. It’s the crux of the page, and it’s not anchoring the page well, not even with the magic of the woman coming out of the lake.

This is the last TPG, and I’m bored.

Let’s see what she has to say on P3.

Page 3 (4 Panels)

Panel 1

The man is driving a bright red convertible on a sunny, tropical street. A beautiful woman sits in the passenger seat, laughing and flirting with the man as he is loving every minute of it. (Moving panel.)


And you’re entitled to think that.


Just as you’re entitled do what you wish with your money and your time.

Panel 2

The man sits behind his desk in his large personal office with glass walls. Behind the glass we can see the rest of the office space we saw earlier, still busy with activity. In front of the man’s desk stands a lowly employee, short-sleeved buttoned down shirt and tie with a name tag. He is afraid of the man (his boss) as the man, in his suit and tie, screams at his employee. (Where is the camera? If we can see the rest of the office space behind the glass wall, and we can see the man screaming at his employee, and if we can see the employee and his expression, where is the camera? How is the office set up? This just isn’t explained well.)


Damn, straight! (Comma-fail. Usually, it’s a missing comma. This time, it’s a misplaced one.)


I own you like I own everyone who works for me! (Boring.)

Panel 3

Inside a hotel suite, the man is falling back on top of the bed with another beautiful woman in a dress falling down on top of him. They are laughing with their faces close together, obviously about to get intimate by the placement of their hands around each other’s bodies.


But that’s where you’re wrong.


I’m not some object you can control.

Panel 4

The man is sitting in a booth at an upscale gentlemen’s club alongside several other rich men in suits. They are all smiling and laughing with scantily dressed girls (either prostitutes, strippers, etc.) on their laps and drinks in their hands. The table in front of them is filled with tons of alcohol bottles and shot glasses.


We had an arrangement. An agreement.

P3, and what’s going on?

Why are we reading this? What’s going on? What’s the story about?

I’m bored, and I find my attention wandering.

I got a package in the mail today. It’s for my office. I want to go put it together, but instead, I’m being bored doing this. I also have some editing work to do, and I’m going to try to get into the DC writing workshop. I haven’t even started. And I’m doing this. And I’m bored.

And hungry.

I’ll treat myself to food when I’m done…or when the doorbell rings with the delivery. Whichever comes first.

Page 4 (5 Panels)

Panel 1

Inside the man’s glass office, the woman, still looking exactly the same as she did when we first met her except now she’s dry, stands in front of the glass door. The man stands in the front of the desk, off balance from being drunk. The two beautiful women from the previous page, looking carefree and uninterested, lean back against the desk on either side of the man. Through the office’s glass walls we can see the office floor still buzzing with activity. (Questions: is the door open or closed? Is she on the inside or the outside? I have visions of her being outside, but that could be me just being contrary. But she’s definitely not placed well.)


And you will not talk to me the same way you do everyone else. (Is this no longer in captions?)


Why? Because you think you’re so special?

Panel 2

A close up of the woman’s grotesque face, emotionless through her disarrayed, frizzy hair.


Special enough to take away everything you have.


Everything I gave you.

Panel 3

A close up of the man’s angry face as he’s yelling. Clean-shaven and slick hair. But he’s drunk. His eyes are glassy and his mouth is contorted.


How dare you! You’re lucky I don’t throw you back in that dirty lake where you came from!

Panel 4

A head on shot of the woman holding up two of her fingers as if she’s ready to snap them. Behind her we can see the office’s swarm of activity. People walking by are reading papers and talking on the phone. The backs of others on computers in their cubicles.


Panel 5

The “camera” is in the same position as the previous panel. The woman is still standing the same way, except now her fingers have finished their snap. The most drastic change in the panel is that all the activity of office workers behind her has now stopped. The people walking have stopped and are no longer reading or talking on the phone. The people at their computers have all turned around. And every one of them has on the same blank expression as they stare straight at the “camera.”


SFX (by her fingers)


I remember watching the various Tales kind of shows: Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, The Hitchhiker Presents, Freddy’s Nightmares… Of course, there’s always The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Know what those shows had? Interesting things happening. Yes, even Freddy’s Nightmares, which was a pretty bad show.

I remember watching one show where there was a grandfather who was dead, but didn’t want to recognize he was dead and be buried. He did all the things a grandpa would do: sat on the porch and spent some time with his grandson, creeping the grandson out. Grandpa was actively rotting, but he was still active. Finally, he decided to lay down and be dead after he was tricked into sneezing (pepper in his napkin) and blew his nose off.

That’s more interesting than this.

What is this for? What is the story about?

Here’s a question that doesn’t get asked often: what’s the theme?

Page 5 (6 Panels)

Panel 1

In front of a large fancy office building we see a large human train of the employees walking out onto the city sidewalk. The woman is leading the pack while the man stands (with his back to us) at the edge of the sidewalk watching with his hands on his head confused. Other pedestrians are standing around watching too at the peculiar sight.


What…where are you…


Where are you all going?!

Panel 2

A long shot of the park from the first page. The man’s homeless tent has fallen down and his cart has fallen over, spilling out its contents. The long train of employees (which we don’t see the end of) is being led by the woman towards the lake. The city can be seen in the background (similar distance away to page one; panel five). The man is standing by, once again, except now he is angrily pointing his finger at them.


Stop! All of you!


Stop right now!

Panel 4

The woman has walked into the lake so that the water is now up to her head. Behind her the employees are following her in, with different employees having the water up to different levels of their body depending on how far back in the train they are.

MAN (off panel behind them)

If you walk in there you’re fired!

Panel 5

A close up of the man’s expression. He is lost somewhere between disbelief and sadness. His slick back hair is now disheveled as is his unbuttoned shirt and loose tie.



Panel 6

From behind the man we are looking out at the lake as the end of the employee train enters the water. The last two people in line, behind the last of the employees, are the two beautiful women from the man’s office.


…come back…


The End

Well, that was a waste of time.

Let’s run it down and talk about it.

Format: Flawless Victory. Yep, boring.

Panel Descriptions: Not terrible, but they could definitely be better. There are times when I don’t know what I’m looking at because something is first described one way, and then things are added that make it seem like it should be another. Or things are described in such a way that I don’t know where to place the camera. Not terrible, but definitely not great.

Pacing: Horrible. Plodding, which is terrible for a five page story. It moved fast, but was slow at the same time. Even though things “happened”, there was little real context as to how things fit. More dialogue could have fixed that. Or more panels. This could have been a nine-panel grid story easily. But the pacing needed to be brought up a couple of notches. Things need to happen. That was the basic problem with this: nothing happened.

Dialogue: The only real problem I had with the dialogue, besides it not doing a great job of pulling me in, was the fact that the man didn’t sound drunk. Angry? Possibly. Drunk? Not at all.

The dialogue could have also done more with the plot. There are unanswered questions that the dialogue could have answered:

Who is the lady from the lake? What does she want? Why did she pick him? What makes him so special? What happened to him that he’s now homeless? Why did he turn into an asshole when he got some money? Why did she have the one rule? What were the consequences of breaking the rule?

All of that should have been in the dialogue. None of it was anywhere to be found.

Content: There are no consequences that were laid out. As a reader, I missed that. I would have come away feeling the way that I did: that it was a waste of time. Nothing happened, no one learned anything. What was the point?

Editorially, this needs a rewrite. Things need to happen. Does the man need to die? Not at all, but he needs to learn a lesson that wasn’t taught with this. She snaps her fingers and causes people to follow her into the lake. I’m going to assume they don’t die. But what happens to him? He keeps the money he’s made, the business, the prestige, and has to start over again? Because that’s the way it seems. Nothing drastic happens to him. That needs to be fixed.

Stories have to be worthwhile. This isn’t. That’s why it needs the rewrite.

And that’s all I have.

That’s all she wrote.

I want to thank everyone for reading, for submitting, for commenting. It’s been a fun ride.

If I don’t see you in the comments, I’ll say goodnight and good luck.

Click here to comment for the last time!

TPG Week 280: A Race Of The Ages (Or: One Week To The End) Fri, 06 May 2016 05:00:23 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to the next-to-last installment of The Proving Grounds! That’s right, folks! Next week is the big finale. After that, there will only be memories that can be revisited in the archives. Lots of good material in there. You should definitely check it out.

Anyway, this week brings us Gavin Falcon as our Brave One. We also have Steve Colle in blue, we have Ryan Kroboth with his mighty pencil, and I’m the guy lounging in red. As for Gavin, he said he’s been following along lately. Let’s see if this is true, or if this script has been

Jury Rigged

PAGE 1 (3 panels)

Panel 1: We’ll open the story with an extremely far and wide establishing shot of the Scraplands, a blasted out wasteland covered in huge piles of scrap, rubble and a few crumbling concrete buildings under a noxious grey sky (think post-nuclear without the nuclear). It’s very early morning, and a decent portion of the land behind the scrap heaps is shrouded in shadow. A few settlements, which are mostly just tight clusters of run down, makeshift metal buildings sparsely dot the landscape as well. At this distance the piles would probably just appear as formless grey and rust colored masses, with the area between them being uncovered dirt. The area used to be forested, so a few burnt out trees are probably still standing (they might not show from this far out though).


My mother used to tell me that the world was once a better place…

Panel 2: Still a fairly wide establishing shot, zoomed in enough that we can clearly make out a cluster of six or so individual scrapheaps in varying sizes and compositions. Pretty much anything metal can be found in them, so go wild with whatever you think would look cool. Most of it should be broken down or rusted out though, to continue with the theme.

2/NARRATION (Continued)(I’m not much of a stickler for “rules.” There are certain things that I hold true, like page breaks, but really, lots of things can be done to make up a script. I’m lazy, though, and have never thought of needing to have a note that said “continued” for the letterer. It’s one more thing that has to be typed, and that takes time. Time you could be doing something else with, like discovering a clever bit of dialogue. Yes, this is me being long-winded in saying that the “continued” note is unnecessary.)

That, when she was young, it hadn’t always been a battle just to survive in the land we call home.

Panel 3: Zoomed in even further to focus on one of the pillars at a slight worms eye, angled just enough so we can see the edge of a makeshift platform and a booted leg belonging to our protagonist dangling nonchalantly over the edge. In the horizon beyond, the sun is just starting to crawl up the sky, obscured and warped a bit by a layer of smog. I imagine the platform itself to basically just be a highway sign sticking out of the scrapheap near the top, or the equivalent of it. (I was going to ask about the style of the boot the dangling leg is wearing and then saw the character file that describes it. Thanks.)


Now, I can’t really say for certain, but if the world has gone to hell– (Ellipsis instead of double dash)

Generally, I’m not having any issues with your panel descriptions. Everything is clear to me as to how you are visualizing it and you are, in my opinion, effectively conveying it to your artist. Great job. Your dialogue is also easy to read and sounds natural. This page works for me.

We have P1 on the books!

Yes, I’m bored. Blame Mad Max. I do.

I’m bored with post-apocalyptic, barren worlds. I’m tired of protagonists who talk in voice-over in these types of stories. It all feels the same. I’m bored.

Yes, the dialogue is natural and not forced. But it’s also boring. I’m not intrigued. I’m not forced to turn the page to find out what’s going on. Doing something different would be much more interesting. Saying something powerful would be best. Something that makes the rest of the page just pop, where there is no option of turning the page.

I want to be hit square between the eyes with dialogue that makes me sit up and take notice. I want to be forced to turn the page because something interesting or clever was said. That doesn’t happen on this page. Yes, it stands above lots of opening pages we get here at TPG, but when your average is crap, being mediocre makes you stand out.

I want better. I haven’t gotten it.

No, this isn’t crap (so far). It’s just uninteresting.

PAGE 2 (splash) (No page break save for hitting the return key) (And here I was, thinking Gavin payed better attention. Flawless Victories are so easy to achieve. Alas, it was not to be…)

Panel 1: Splash of Glory from the side, sitting on the edge of the platform and looking out over the wastes with a serene smile, her other leg propped up on the edge of the platform with her arm resting against it. In the immediate background, a rusty metal sign juts out of the heap with the title of the book crudely painted in red across it (we’ll probably want the credits on there too if there’s room). Further in the background, we can see a few rays of sunlight piercing through the clouds to shine down on the desolate wastes below, hopefully to invoke a sort of barren glory feel.

1/NARRATION (Continued)

…guess I may as well make the most of it.

I want to refer back to the last dialogue from the previous page and how it connects with this bit. I’m going to have it read as one long line instead of separated: “Now, I can’t really say for certain, but if the world has gone to hell, guess I may as well make the most of it.” Do you see how “I can’t really say for certain” affects the balance of the speech? Here’s a rewrite: Now, if the world has gone to hell, I may as well make the most of it. Something else to consider (and because I don’t know anything about the story at this point): her saying this makes it sound like she is new to this situation. If this is hell, she may as well adapt. That’s how I read it. Is she new to it? I guess I’ll find out, but at this point, her serene smile is telling me otherwise. That, or she likes hell.

Now, I know I’m supposed to concentrate on what I have right in front of me, but I think it’s worthwhile including a piece of character description from your adjoining document that describes her look: She’s fairly young (right around nineteen or twenty) with a short black frazzled pixie cut, roguish features and moderately tan skin. Her attire is a sort of hybrid between biker and punk rock, with a few other styles thrown in for a sort of mishmash, post­apocalyptic look. The boots she wears are the knee­high kind with buckles up the side, kind of similar to the Goth style but a little more practical, especially in the heel (they should probably resemble something closer to a combat or biker boot from the ankle down). She also has a pair of blast goggles situated above her brow, mostly for effect but they will see some use in a couple of scenes. On her left bicep she wears a cloth wrap, which hides scars from drug abuse (which will be expounded upon later in the story). Her gloves are a sort of blocky, cyberpunk gauntlet, which helps to amplify her innate ability to shape and control metal. Tubes of blue energy extend like lines of circuitry from power sources about halfway up her forearms, connecting to pads on the palms and knuckles where the power is released.

I added the above to point out that her look and her environment need to match if she is natural to her setting. Right now, I don’t know if her look should be represented with tears in her clothing, her hair unkempt, etc., or if she should look the way you have her described above. This is due to my not knowing enough about your story beyond these pages so far. I felt it necessary to share this with the others reading this entry.

I don’t feel Page Two warrants a splash page because it isn’t providing anything of note or focus. Are we learning something important or pertinent to a key aspect of the story? No. In this case, I think adding this image to the first page would have been fine, though if you wanted to place more focus on her directly, you could have her in a larger panel on that page.

As for your suggestion of the crude painting of the title on a sign, you would definitely want to make it stand out from other such signage text. Heightening your chances for clarity of this would mean lowering your amount of competing text in this manner. Here’s where you want to also consider what information a sign can provide to help the reader understand your setting, time period, and situation. What’s more important: that you’re giving information the reader needs to understand the context of the story or to incorporate creative design into the artwork for a title and credits? That, and can you do both without compromising the first?


Padding. It can be cut, and no one would be the wiser. Not a good use of space.

There is nothing that is the least bit dramatic about this page. It doesn’t warrant a splash. Half a page, and that’s pushing it.

Real estate is precious, folks. You have to use it to the best of your ability. This is the first issue of a story. The first couple of pages of a first issue. Do you want the book to sell? Do you want to be able to continue telling the story? Then you have to get the reader interested. You do this with drama, with both words and pictures. Neither of these are filled with drama. Not yet.

Interesting visuals will always be the name of the game. I’m bored, and so far, this is filled with empty calories. I’m hungry for story. Feed me, Seymore!

PAGE 3 (5 panels) (No page break)

Panel 1: Medium of Glory from the front, in the same posture and looking down with a little bit of disdain towards the bottom of her perch. I picture her keeping her head level while she does this, but it might make her look too aloof, so go with what you feel looks best if that doesn’t work. Clinks’ dialogue comes in from below.

1/UNSEEN SPEAKER (Clinks yelling) (This is off panel dialogue. A better way of writing this is 1/CLINKS (Off panel), because we know it’s Clinks, as you describe. When introducing the dialogue of an unseen speaker, whether off panel or in voice over, it’s better to identify them by name in your script. Remember, the reader isn’t reading your script: just your fellow creators and editor.)

HEY!!! (I think one exclamation mark would have sufficed here. Unless there have been multiple attempts to capture Glory’s attention prior to this or, more importantly, something akin to a scream for help is shouted, you should stick with a single exclamation mark. And besides, your use of capitals vs. lower case makes that point known.)(I beg to differ. I don’t care about the case of the letters because the letterer will more than likely use an all-caps font. Things can get lost. I’ve seen it happen. What’s harder to “lose” is underlining. I will always advocate underlining when it comes to putting stress on a word in dialogue.)

Panel 2: From Glory’s perspective, looking down at an angry looking figure (Clinks) shouting from the base of the spire, a small group (around half-dozen) of assorted individuals packing supplies a short distance away from him. (In your character sheet, you describe Glory and Cole and no one else. Make sure you add him to your list and also, make sure you describe what people in your story generally look like in the way they dress, etc. This helps us picture your populace when reading through your script. Right now, I have no idea if they are all in business attire or animal skins.) The reader should really get a feel of just how tall these pillars are here, with Clinks and the group having almost no easily discernible features. We’ll want some of Glory’s calf and boot in the foreground here, and some bits of broken metal jutting out of the sloping scrap heap with a large and flat surface (like the roof of a shed) sticking out near the bottom, which she’ll be interacting with next page.


Get down from there (Missing comma) girl, we’re leavin’! (Two things: 1) I have no idea why “girl” is italicized and 2) it would read better as “Get down from there, girl! We’re leavin’!”)

Panel 3: Close up on Glory’s upper body (front or side shot, up to you) as she gives a disappointed huff, her eyes closed.



Panel 4: Glory stands up, stretching her arms over her head and clasping them with her eyes still closed.


Panel 5: Large medium (not quite a half-splash) of Glory wrenching a large, flat metal sheet out from the mass of scrap behind her, the palms and backs of the gloves as well as the metal itself emitting a faint blue aura. She’s got one foot against the pile as she pulls, strain evident on her face.

4/SFX (Metal sheet)


This page really didn’t do much to advance the story. It didn’t name your main character (Glory), didn’t tell us who the people below were (even though one of them spoke), and there was no interaction between the as-yet-unnamed Glory and the man speaking to her below. What we did learn was she was enjoying herself before being called down, is disappointed by the interruption, and you’ve introduced the blue aura. Missed opportunities. Something that was reinforced for me was the lack of need for the splash page on Page Two.

P3, and nothing worth turning the page has happened. If this thing raced a glacier, I’d be hard pressed to say who would win. It would be a race of the ages! (Get it?)

No, the blue glow isn’t enough of a mystery to ask why it’s happening.

It’s P3, and I’m not intrigued. What would I gain by buying this if it were in a shop?

Imagine this: you’re trying to get into Diamond. You want to be able to get this book into as many shops as possible. The Diamond rep gets the book…and promptly falls asleep. No, it’s not narcolepsy. The pace is a soporific where sleep is inescapable. I want to take a nap right now. My office chair is cozy.

Hm. I’ve got two screens now. Maybe I’ll turn on Spider-Woman and give that some of my attention. I’ve got it to spare. Nothing’s happening here.

PAGE 4 (5 panels) (No page break)

Panel 1: Medium of a smirking Glory standing with her foot against the bottom of the metal sheet at the edge of her perch, gripping it like she’s a skateboarder about to enter a half pipe and bending the metal towards her (to give the sheet a lip so it won’t catch on the way down). Her free hand is pulling her blast goggles down, the blue aura still streaming from the glove and connecting to the sheet. (How big is this sheet?)

1/GLORY (Muttering to herself)

Sure, I’ll be right down…

Panel 2: Medium of Glory having just “dropped in” confidently, arms straight out to her sides and knees bent as she begins descending the mountain of scrap. The gloves and board are still glowing with that aura, hopefully really driving home that she’s controlling the metal to the reader.

2/SFX (Sheet hitting the other scrap)


Panel 3: Glory slaloms around a large metal pole sticking up from the pile, one hand reaching out to brush it as she’s passing while the other is angled closer to the side of the sheet.


Panel 4: Side shot of Glory bracing herself as she hits that large and flat surface shown a few panels back, beginning to go airborne with the back of the sheet a few inches in the air. Her palms are face down but her arms should look like she’s physically pulling the front edges of the metal upwards here.

3/SFX (Metal sheet impact)


Panel 5: Glory lands heavily in a cloud of sand and dust, knees bent low and grimacing if we can see her face through the plume, with her hands pressed flat on the sheet as she tries to keep her balance. (Ryan? I think most of these are going to be drawable without much of a problem. However, I’m interested to see your take on this panel. Thanks!)

4/SFX (Glory landing)


Another wasted page. Though I was able to visualize her actions through your effective panel descriptions, you’ve essentially spent an entire page concentrating on her showmanship rather than taking the time to introduce key aspects of your story that will pull your reader in. We still don’t know her name, we still don’t know if this is present day or the future, we don’t know what has happened to the world or at least this particular piece of it, we don’t know what the other characters look like or what motivations they have for their actions, and on and on and on. The pace isn’t allowing us to get to the point of what’s happening and the lack of open information (closed info being what you describe to your artist alone) is leaving us, after four pages, with nothing to grab onto. You need to get the story moving early and make sure you pull your reader in through both what is seen and what is said. That isn’t happening here.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Four pages, and at least a page and a half of that is padding.

This is back on the shelf.

PAGE 5 (7 panels) (No page break)

Panel 1: Side shot as Glory walks forwards while casually dusting herself off, gloves and now discarded metal sheet no longer aglow. (Because this is a new page, it would be better to have the blue aura fading, not gone, in this panel. This creates a better transition to her having a power.)

NO COPY (This is really bothering me. So many chances to tell the story and you’re wasting it. The only thing keeping me reading is my interest in how you write your panel descriptions and the hope that you’ll do something that will finally move the story forward. Right now, this is a lost cause.)

Panel 2: Same shot as Clinks approaches from the right side towards a now cautious Glory, red in the face with rage. (Why? What sparked her rage? I didn’t read anything that would have caused this reaction.)(I think it’s Clinks who’s in a fit of rage, not Glory.) Clinks is a few inches taller than Glory and quite a bit older, with intense eyes and gaunt leathery skin that suggest years of toil and hardship. He sports short black hair cut military style, stubble surrounding his mouth and chin from a couple of weeks without shaving. He wears a black leather vest over top of a dirty brown t-shirt, with a pair of thick chains slung over each shoulder and connecting in a loop around his waist. His gloves and boots are black leather as well, and his pants are dirty grey cargos. (Didn’t you introduce a visual of Clinks, though further away, in Panel 2 of Page Three? Why is this information here instead or, better yet, why wasn’t this included in your character sheet?)


And What did I fuckin’ tell you about usin’ those things fer fun!? (Always use the question mark first and then the exclamation mark. First and foremost, this is a question.) You know how much of a bitch it is to get the juice for ’em? (What is Clinks referring to? My assumption is that he’s talking about the gloves, but that’s based on my reading your descriptions and not what I’d be seeing as a reader. Them [or ‘em] needs to be identified, such as “You know how much of a bitch it is to get the juice for those gloves?” Identifying breeds information, something that is seriously lacking in your script.)(See? Clinks with the rage.)

Panel 3: Close up of Clinks yelling in Glory’s face, jabbing a finger at her head menacingly. Glory looks taken aback, physically leaning away from the extended digit with a bit of a wince. (Her reaction here goes against the rage you described her having in the last panel. Why is she not expressing defiance in some way? This isn’t making any sense.)


More than you’re worth, that’s how fuckin’ much!

Panel 4: Clinks stomping back to the group of scavengers (there should be six or seven), with his back to the reader, some of them closing up the crates they were packing and loading them onto a rickshaw-like cart while the rest awkwardly avoid looking his way. The scavengers aren’t wearing anything special, mostly just dirty rag like clothing, and come in various sexes and ethnicities. The only real constant is that they are all fairly dirty and look more than a little malnourished. (Again, where was this information on Page Three? And in the previously mentioned Page Three, Panel 2, you mentioned they were packing supplies, but never said what they were packing them into. Where were the crates and rickshaw in that panel?)


Next time (Missing comma) the money comes out of your ungrateful goddamn(ed) hide!

Panel 5: One of the scavengers (Man or woman?) glances hesitantly at Clinks as he storms by and tries to defend Glory, receiving a stern glare in return.


C’mon, Clinks, I’m sure Miss Glory didn’t mean nothin’ by climbing up there. (Page Five, Panel 5 and we’re FINALLY learning their names. Not good.)

The visual you describe and the dialogue don’t match. When I picture “glances hesitantly”, I see someone unsure if they should engage or not, but his/her dialogue sounds more like he/she has not only engaged, but in my mind may have reached out and grabbed Clinks’ arm. What strengthens this interpretation is the “C’mon, Clinks” that starts off the speech.


I don’t give a shit, (Exclamation instead of comma) I’m not gonna be late to a job opportunity just because she wants to fucking sightsee! (The slang disappeared in mid-sentence and doesn’t follow Clinks’ previous speech pattern. “Because” should have been ‘cause and “fucking” shouldn’t have the ‘g’ to maintain a pre-established manner of speech.)

Panel 6: Glory puts a hand on the scavenger’s (Male or female?) shoulder with a small smile as Clinks storms off, having almost entirely exited the panel.


Might just want to let him yell himself out in the future, friend… (Separate balloon) Don’t worry, I can take it. (Again, you had a chance to identify the gender of the scavenger with a simple “sir” or “ma’am” and didn’t take it.)

Panel 7: Out for a birds-eye of Clinks marching in front of the now moving procession of scavengers, two of which are pulling the cart along while Glory lags behind.


Now Let’s go! Town’s only a couple of hours away!

And I’m leaving, too. I’m done.

I’m frustrated that what started out so well in my eyes went absolutely nowhere after five pages. Structurally, I liked your panel descriptions and initially, I liked your dialogue for the most part, but the dialogue changed and the panel descriptions lacked the necessary information to be clear to your collaborators.

Pacing-wise, it isn’t that your pace was off, but rather that you spent too much time saying nothing to move the story forward. Why was Glory up there to begin with? Have her share that with us. Why is Clinks such a dick? Share that with us. Why are they where they are, by way of their location, situation, and circumstances? Share that with us. Instead, we got nothing in five pages that told us anything of importance, leaving us with more questions than answers.

Let’s see what Steven has to say.

It isn’t crap, but it isn’t good. It’s just boring. Let’s run this down. I’ve got other stuff to do. A ceiling to paint. Spider-Woman to watch.

Format: No Flawless Victory due to the lack of page breaks. Shame.

Panel Descriptions: Drawable! They’re just missing some information that the artist could use, but could also probably decide for themselves. Understand this, though: if you leave things up to the artist, you may be unpleasantly surprised by what you get when the art come back. I’m not saying to give the artist no room for interpretation, but let the artist know when they can make their own decisions as to what happens in the script. There are opportunities here for that, but they aren’t capitalized on.

Pacing: I’ve seen a river of frozen molasses move faster than this script.

Things have to happen in a story. When they don’t, people get bored, and they don’t pay to be bored. They pay to be entertained. What’s entertaining here? Nothing. It’s five pages, and what does the reader really know? There are some gloves that make the user want to skateboard on metal, and they’re expensive to power. Do they know anything else? No. That’s terrible.

You’re just starting the story. This means each panel has to either have dialogue in it that reveals character and/or moves the plot, or the pictures have to do it. Sliding down the heap: does that do either of those things after the first panel? Your main character doesn’t say much: why? You start off with an internal monologue (where she talks to no-one), but then it is completely dropped. What’s it dropped in favor of? Silence. Not good. Dialogue helps the pace.

Dialogue: It’s definitely readable. It’s actually the best part of this piece. The problem is simple: there isn’t enough of it, and none of it moves the plot forward. You can’t have that in five pages.

More dialogue that actually has a purpose is needed.

Content: As a reader, I’m bored. I don’t know why I’m reading what I’m reading, and no answers seem to be on the horizon after five pages. None of it pulls me in.

Editorially, this needs a rewrite, but only to add interest in the proceedings. The setup could be made immediately intriguing if something were actually happening, instead of someone just kicking back on a scrap heap. Seeing what the gloves can actually do would be a great way to start out, and then maybe some understanding as to why she has them and not someone else could be transmitted through Clinks. There are ways to make this interesting. You have to work harder on finding them.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG Week 279: Choose Your Own LoD! Fri, 29 Apr 2016 23:21:59 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds. Once again, this is one of the last ones. (I know most of you don’t come back regularly.) I’m closing up shop on 5/13/2016, so there are only two more after this. Enjoy it while it lasts.

This week, we have someone who is no stranger to these parts—our Brave One is Luke Pierce. (No Star Wars jokes. I’ve already made them…) We also have Steve Colle in blue, Ryan Kroboth with the pencil assist, and I’m the curmudgeon with the new office in red. (Yes, I have a new office. I’ll talk about it throughout the script.) Now, let’s all sit back and see what Luke does with the For—I mean

Love Reaper

Page 1 of 22

5 Panels

Panel 1

Tall panel. NIGHT.

Setting: Southlake Town Square:

This is supposed to be small town America, however I realise that Southlake isn’t exactly a small town and is a shopping district. But this style of buildings, surrounding a small park, is exactly what I’m envisaging here.

The park itself has a few trees, but is generally quite an open space to allow families to have some fun together. (You’ve given us location, but what about timeframe [past, present, etc.], time of day, or even weather conditions [sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc.]. These details are also necessary to paint the picture of the setting.)

1 HENRY (blue): What did you think of tonight, Jasmine? (You know what? I want to kiss Luke right now. Lay a Leia on him. Why? Because he used a comma correctly. I’m very comma-deprived. Sorry. Continue, Steve.)

2 JASMINE (honey): It was, er, nice to just go out. (Here’s a suggested rewrite: “It was… er… nice to just go out.” The use of ellipses creates a better pause or sense of hesitation than simple commas.)

3 HENRY (blue): Good.

I’m a little confused with the colour reference bracketed after the speaker names above. I noticed that you made a comment in the attached lettering note about Amy’s caption boxes having white print on black, but there wasn’t anything about Henry and Jasmine’s. Is the above speech in caption? If so, then you need to identify them as such. I noticed the characters aren’t in the panel description, so does this make their speech coming from inside? If it is in captions, both of their dialogues here should be in quotation marks as voice over.

Panel 2

We have now shifted camera angle to see JASMINE HUNNYBUN and HENRY PARKER sitting next to one of the trees in the park. Their body language is polar opposites. JASMINE has her arms crossed across her chest and she isn’t being overtly engaging, showing no interest in what HENRY is saying to her. (You’re talking about her arm positioning, but her facial expression would probably give a better idea of her state of mind. What expression is on her face and is she looking at Henry or are her eyes deliberately avoiding contact?) HENRY has an arm outstretched, indicating the parkland. (Same thing here for Henry.)

4 HENRY: Doesn’t seeing this make it all worth it, Jasmine?

5 HENRY: Like how a perfect date should end?

Panel 3

Close up of JASMINE. Her head is turned away from the reader (as if the reader were HENRY), but her eyes are looking towards us. (I want to clarify my understanding that she is looking at Henry/us out of the corner of her eye, showing avoidance but still making eye contact.) She has an uncomfortable look about her, as she’s going to be breaking some bad news.

5 JASMINE: Look, Henry, this – (Ellipsis here instead of a dash) this is hard…

6 JASMINE: You need to ease off.

Panel 4

JASMINE is leaning slightly (Is she leaning or isn’t she? How do you lean “slightly”?) against the tree, her back to the reader. Ahead of her, HENRY now has both arms outstretched (like trying to encourage JASMINE to just cuddle him).

In other words, the reader should be aware that there is now a sense of danger and HENRY should be making us all feel uncomfortable. (Mr. Kroboth? Put down the donut (or at least share!) and grasp thine drawing instrument comfortably, and please help us to see what Luke isn’t. Because there are things at work here that just don’t help things.)

7 HENRY: Ease off?

I’m honestly getting no sense of danger out of Henry’s actions or words and definitely no sense of discomfort. You haven’t gone into their exchange enough to build that desired feeling from Jasmine or from your reader. If he’s possessive, jealous, clingy, or whatever other direction you may have for his personality as it applies to this relationship, you haven’t shared it with us. Also, his verbal response doesn’t match his physical one. If he’s wondering why she wants him to ease off, then why isn’t he taken aback by her comment? If he’s reaching out to hug her, then why isn’t he saying something like “Come here and let’s talk about this”?

Panel 5

Close up of JASMINE, the sole focus of the panel. She is shouting in anger. (At us [as Henry] in a front shot or in profile?)

8 JASMINE: Don’t you get it?

9 JASMINE: I only agreed to come tonight to tell you to leave me alone. (So she wants him to leave her alone, and yet she goes on another date and THEN tells him to leave her alone? Shouldn’t this have been done a few different ways: by phone, text, email, through a friend or acquaintance, or even when she first sees him before the date starts?)(Yeah. This doesn’t ring true. It’s not that I don’t know of any women who wouldn’t go out with someone they’re not into in order to tell them to leave them alone, it’s that it’s very, VERY rare. Especially if she felt the other person was dangerous.)

10 JASMINE: You’re a creep, Henry Parker, and I wish I didn’t have to see your face!(Oh, that’s terrible. And not the good kind of terrible, either.)

I’m not a fan of this first page. You jumped into the story and have put the reader into a situation where they have no reference – past or present – to base Jasmine’s comments on, thus not providing information to pull the reader in. There’s no trigger present to indicate the reason for her sudden and aggressive verbal attack on Henry. The dialogue itself doesn’t sound entirely natural either. I wish we had more build up to the situation, a sense of motivation to her actions, and a clear and natural flow to what is transpiring.

So, we have P1 on the books.

Beginnings are the hardest. There are extremely few times when I took an excerpt from the middle of a script, simply because beginnings are damned difficult. There is a lot of work to be done on the first page: you have to establish story, you have to pique the reader’s interest enough to want to turn the page, you have to establish a time and place, you have to establish some sort of relationship, you have to give a hint at character motivation and stakes.
All of this has to be done on the first page in order to get the reader to go to the next page. If any one of those things are missing, then there are a lot of other things that can go wrong.

There are a lot of things missing here.

There are no stakes. We have an emotional outburst, but we have no real stakes. There’s supposed to be menace, but I feel as menaced as a child being offered strawberry ice cream by a stranger. There’s supposed to be a relationship, but a shortcut was taken and we’re really at the tail end of what could have been a relationship if one didn’t want to see the other’s face. We have no character motivation: we have no idea as to how Henry is a creep—only Jas’ say-so. He hasn’t done anything except maybe offer her some ice cream. We have a place, but no real time—and I’m shocked about it, to be honest. Luke knows better because I harp on it constantly. Despite the emotional outburst, there’s no piquing of my interest. Nothing has happened that makes me want to turn the page. If anything, all this talk of ice cream is making me want some.

There’s no interest here. We have the breaking of a storm, but there was no building of that storm.

Long-time readers know how much I love bad movies. There’s one, Ancient Evil: Scream of the Mummy (the mummy never screams or really utters a sound) where there’s a storm that never breaks. You get thunder and lightning for about half the movie, but never once any rain. A t first it’s there for atmosphere, but then it goes on for too long and is just terrible. (If you ever want to see any truly terrible films, just watch any David DeCoteau masterpieces. He’s more terrible than Uwe Boll…and that’s saying something.)

Anyway, there’s a storm there that builds and never breaks, and here we have a storm that has broken but was never built.

Basically, it’s bad storytelling.

So, my office: I think I mentioned the arduous task of stripping the floor. If I haven’t, the recap: I had to sand the floor twice. The first time was because there was carpet on the floor, and the carpet hid a small piece of damage. We didn’t sand down far enough the first time, and the sander didn’t have a working vacuum, so there was sawdust in the air and floating throughout the house. It settled onto everything and was a real pain in my ass.

We sanded on a Sunday, and I returned the sanders(!) on Monday morning. (The second sander was gotten for a totally different reason, for a totally different floor.) After cleaning the floor in my office, we discovered that it looked like there was some water spots in the wood that didn’t come out—so we had to sand again. Pissed me off, because those damned things are HEAVY.

We try to sand the next weekend, but the sander was already checked out, so we worked on the bathroom instead. We also got me a desk.

We sanded on Friday into Saturday, and then sealed and put ‘thane on it. Three coats of ‘thane. We also went and got a cabinet to hold my action figures. It’s a huge china cabinet, but it holds them all, along with a few statues.

Let’s get to P2…

Page 2 of 22

4 Panels

Panel 1

HENRY has closed the gap between JASMINE and himself. He is using his height to intimidate her further. (How does his height come into play unless he is now standing, as you said both were sitting in Panel 2 of Page One and never said otherwise?)

1 HENRY: You don’t want to see me? Fine.

2 HENRY: I can arrange that.

Panel 2

This is our impact moment. (Is she a witch? Will she turn him into a newt?)

HENRY has pushed JASMINE against the tree and using it to help him push his forearm into her throat. JASMINE is reaching towards his arm, but her hands are nowhere near close enough. (I thought she was already against the tree? And this doesn’t make any sense. How are her hands NOT close enough to do anything? Is he Mr. Fantastic? Does she have T-Rex arms that are stubby and useless? Ryan? Forget the last one. Please see if you can make visual sense of this with your magic pencil.)

3 HENRY: Why you agreed to meet me alone is beyond me. (Me, too. But why he’s saying this to her is also beyond me…)

4 JASMINE: Hhhhk!

This is all happening too fast. There was no build up to her reaction and equally none to Henry’s.

Panel 3

The silhouette of AMY STONE is sprinting across the parkland, her cloak pretty much following her body form. Every indication here is that she’s going to be rescuing JASMINE. (What time of day is it to create only a silhouette? Who is this person coming out of nowhere? Why is this person running? What exactly is happening with the cloak, as “following her body form” is confusing to me? What indications are you referring to that show she is going to rescue anyone? Are Jasmine and Henry in this panel? How can the reader put 2 + 2 together to arrive at the fact this silhouette is planning to save Jasmine? If I’m asking this many questions, then you know the artist and even the reader are going to do likewise.)

5 CAP (AMY): I just have to keep calm. Everyone has a first time. (I have no idea where this is coming from and how it applies to the situation started with Jasmine and Henry. This tells me Amy has more importance than the two characters who started this story. Are they incidental characters and is that why you spent so little time telling their story before getting to this point?)(Minority Report, and I’m—uh, I mean they’re the minority…)

Panel 4

AMY is approaching HENRY and JASMINE, (So Jasmine and Henry weren’t in the previous panel? Is Amy still in silhouette? Is she still running?) AMY has her right arm outstretched and the outline of a Scythe can be seen (although still mostly see-through) and this is to indicate that AMY is literally summoning the Scythe from thin air. (Which direction is her outstretched arm facing? In front of her? Behind her? And why is a scythe appearing out of the blue?)

6 CAP (AMY): Just need to remember what Mom told me… (You have a scythe like Death uses popping up out of nowhere and follow that up with Amy trying to follow her mom’s guidance. Does anyone else think the prop matches the character here, because I sure as hell don’t.)(Dead Like Me springs to mind, even though I’ve only seen a single episode, lo these many moons ago. Basically, I watched the episode because I wanted to see if Jasmine Guy was still hot. She wasn’t, and Mandy Patinkin didn’t hold my attention, although he’s a great actor. I loved him in Chicago Hope.)

It feels like this story started out going one direction and quickly veered to the left (not the right, because I’m not feeling anything “right” about how this story is going so far).

You have a bunch of different ingredients being added to your story soup that, when put together, are leaving a bad taste in my mouth: Jasmine’s outburst and Henry’s sudden violent reaction; the unknown Amy Stone appearing out of nowhere and sprinting along to an assumed destination; Amy’s mystical scythe; and Amy’s “first time” self-talk of reassurance and motivation. I’ll keep going, but this isn’t boding well.

P2, and the pacing is the opposite of good. I don’t know what else can be said that Steve hasn’t already.

My office.

So there’s this china cabinet with my action figures, there’s a huge desk, there are bookshelves that need to be filled. I need to put pictures/posters/art on the walls, and Kat is going to make a something with the comic book boxes I have, but it’s going to turn out very well. It’s just been a long process, and I’m tired. My weekdays have been about 18 hours long, and my weekends have been filled with doing all manner of house-stuff, and I go to work to rest from the house-stuff.

At least the weekend’s almost here, and that makes better sense to me than this script does.

Let’s see what P3 brings.

Page 3 of 22

6 Panels

Panel 1

The panel should be surrounded by black in order to suggest a flashback.

We now see ALICE BRIDGES (MOM) for the first time. As is usual for her, (We have no previous history to know this, so why does the artist need this information?) her expression is blank and difficult to read (see character notes). (No background location/information at all?)

1 ALICE: Just do it.

I feel like I just jumped into a bad manga story. First of all, if her expression is blank, then why show it? She could have easily said this with her back to the camera to the same effect. Second, why in the world would this panel be necessary? What purpose does it serve other than to distance the reader even more from the initial situation that started this story?

Panel 2

AMY has the scythe drawn back, ready to strike.

The town background is still here, however it needs to be drawn slightly fuzzy in order to suggest the otherworldly situation that is about to happen.

2 CAP (AMY): Thanks, Mom.

Otherworldly situation?? “Thanks, Mom”??? The pieces aren’t fitting, like a bunch of different puzzles being crammed together to make a picture that resembles Frankenstein’s monster more than a beauty like Charlize Theron.

Panel 3

AMY has passed her scythe through JASMINE. (Huh?) AMY is looking away from JASMINE (or rather her hooded face should be looking away from the action). (Why is Amy/her hooded face looking away from her apparent victim?)

JASMINE still has her neck being pushed by HENRY’s forearm; her eyes are wide open, suggesting that HENRY has finally killed her. (How can we tell Henry has killed her? With no sound, we can’t hear if she’s gasping for breath, has let out a death rattle, if her neck has snapped, nothing to ‘suggest’ anything of the sort. Wouldn’t your eyes be wide open if you were gasping for breath?)

You’re placing a lot of reliance on the reader automatically being able to read your mind and decipher the intention of your characters and the course of your story, just like Amy’s “indication” of rescuing Jasmine based on her sprinting. (Rin? Why doesn’t this panel make sense when thought of in conjunction with the others?)


Letterer note: This and the next panel should literally have no onomatopoeia as this is literally trying to replicate the movie “beat” that has no silence (??) when something dramatic happens. (No silence? You mean “sound”?)

Panel 4

Panoramic panel. (Do you mean a wide panel?)

JASMINE has landed on the floor, her eyes still wide open. Her body looks quite stiff (Can this be drawn? No. And besides that, how do you draw or, in film, show rigor mortis? You rely on the characters referring to rigor in their speech, that’s how.) and, underneath, small dust clouds have formed from her landing. (I thought she was under a tree??? Where did the dust clouds come from? How high up was she that, even if she were in the driest of climates, it would produce small dust clouds?) (And where do we find floors, folks?)


Panel 5

Full body shot.

JASMINE remains in her frozen state and lying on the floor. Near her head and looming over everyone is AMY (Reminder: She’s 6’4” and the tallest character in this scene). Her right hand (left as we see it) is outstretched and the scythe is now back to being an outline again (So much like before in Page 2, Panel 4). To Amy’s left (our right), HENRY is bent over slightly, horror in his expression and body language (He meant to scare her, not kill her). (Okay, confusion has set in amidst the details in this panel. My biggest question has to be: Are we to assume she is a ghost or spectre or something and that Henry can’t see her? This was never established to the reader. Why would she be sprinting if she’s a spectre? Why not just appear?)

5 HENRY: Jasmine – ? (Why would there be a dash, especially a single dash? If he’s calling her name knowing she won’t answer, it would be written as “Jasmine…?” to create a trailing off vs. interruption in speech.)

Letterer note: Henry should have a smaller font size than usual in this scene and with a “wobbly” word balloon. (This wobbly word balloon also tells me this is probably manga, but the elements of the story are too all over the place to fit into a more comedic story in that style.) This should suggest his horror and upset.

Panel 6

HENRY is crouched over the unseen body of JASMINE. His face has a panicked expression and his hands have grasped at his face.

6 HENRY: Oh god, what have I done? (And for my fourth script back in The Proving Grounds, I can take a line of dialogue and apply it to myself. Oh God… WHAT HAVE I DONE?!)

In all honesty, my face is raw from repeatedly running my hands down both sides in disbelief and slapping myself in the forehead with sheer frustration, which actually begs the question: Did I have the headache before I started slapping myself in the forehead or was it there as a result of reading the script? Come to the think of it, it’s an inside and outside headache that can only be cured with a dose of common sense. I’d better go get myself some.

Luke, I haven’t read any of your previous scripts and will take the time to look for them in the near future, but let me tell you, my good man: This was ARDUOUS to read and edit. Let’s see what Steven thought of it…

It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure thing, but really, the choice you have to make is where you set the Line of Demarcation. Because this is crap. Steve just saved us from having to read more of it.

Let’s run this down. I have an office to finish.

Format: Flawless Victory!

Panel Descriptions: When you leave out the things that are necessary for an artist to draw, it is very difficult to say that the panel descriptions are good. These aren’t good. Sometimes there is sense to be made of what has been written, but often there isn’t. Slow down and think: can this be drawn? Have I succinctly described what I need to convey to the artist? Has what I’ve put down made sense?

If you ask yourself these questions and make yourself a cheat sheet, then you’d be ahead of the game. (Actually, don’t worry much about the cheat sheet. I’m going to make one for new writers relatively soon.)

Pacing: Horrible. Things happen extremely fast with no build-up at all. Imagine having the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan converted to a comic that was only three pages long. Not each book converted into a three-page comic. The entire series condensed into three pages of comic. While it could be done, it would be extremely ineffective at anything that has to deal with getting the reader invested in the characters or the story or anything. It would have to move extremely fast by necessity.

This piece hurtles in that way. It isn’t good. Slow down and think about what’s coming. Yes, you have to move fast, but don’t sacrifice moving fast for reader interest. There’s no interest here because of the speed. That speed is causing you to seemingly lurch from here to there, and you’re asking a lot of the reader. Most will not be able to keep up, and those that do will want some actual story to go along with it.

Remember the words of Brand Nubian: Slow Down.

Dialogue: There isn’t much context, and some of it is just downright execrable. How do you fix it? More listening, more writing, and definitely more getting out of the bad words. Give thought to what conversation is and what it accomplishes. How does conversation make you feel? Why? How do you get tone across with the use of vocabulary, syntax, and punctuation in conjunction with stress, balloon placement, balloon shape and size, and font shape and size? (Color can also be used, but generally, words are black on a white background. We don’t generally use color for the actual letters to help convey meaning, although it would be a pretty good experiment.) Dialogue is easily the most difficult part of scripting.

Content: I don’t know what the story’s about. While I love a supernatural tale, I also like them decently told. They don’t even have to be well-told. Just be decent. This isn’t decent. Remember that we make comics in order to sell them. It’s the only thing that justifies the cost. This won’t sell. This will barely be given away, and if read, people will wonder why they wasted their time.

Editorially, this needs a rewrite in the worst way. I would read it, and then go over the pace with you, and we would discuss where I think things need to slow down and be explained and where things could be sped up. Where the actual starting point would be and how to get and keep reader interest. This doesn’t do it.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG Week 278: Things Changed, But Nothing Learned Sat, 23 Apr 2016 01:04:33 +0000

TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to the final few installments of The Proving Grounds. If you haven’t read the announcement or heard about it elsewhere, I’m packing it in. It’s almost six and a half years. Time to do something else. I’m not taking any more submissions. May 13 will be the last TPG. Prepare yourselves.

Anyway, back to business. We have something we don’t get too often here at TPG: a resubmission! Jay VanVeen has sent us another crack at his story, first submitted here. Let’s see what’s been learned. We also have Steve Colle in blue, and Ryan Kroboth with the pencil assist. I am the crotchety fellow in red. Now, let us all turn to see what Jay does with a resubmission of

Fin & Bones

Page One

Seven Panels

    1. Interior shot of Meanwhile bar. It’s crowded with the down-and-out denizens of The Town. Smoke fills the air. There’s a row of barstools running along the counter top, which runs the length of the side of the bar’s interior wall. Behind that, in the center of the room, is a spread of high-top tables with stools around them. (By saying “behind that”, are you establishing the counter top as being in the foreground?) People are laughing, drinking, looking miserable, flirting, smoking. It’s not skid row, but it’s a long way from The Ritz. Through the crowd of people at the high-tops, we see the backs of Fin and Bones as they are propped up on bar stools, hunched over the countertop. (This, as a follow up to the placement of the counter top I mentioned above, shows it’s in the background. So which is it?) Fin’s hat (his coat is off and draped over the stool he is sitting on) and Bones’ slicked back blonde hair are the only identifying traits we can see of them through the crowd.

If it’s an interior shot of the bar, then why isn’t there any sound or speech? By having it as a silent panel, you’re wasting an opportunity to introduce the reader to the realities of a bar scene, especially one that is supposedly crowded with people laughing, etc. Another two options would have been to either start your character conversation here or have an introductory caption at least stating the name of the bar with or without time of day.

    1. Profile shot on the bar where Fin and Bones sit. We look down the bar as Fin and Bones sit on the right side of the panel. We can see both of them in the panel, but Fin is in the foreground closer to us. (Why are they on the right of the panel instead of the left? You say Fin is in the foreground, which means he would be the last person seen if on the right as we read left to right. Right?) We can also see across the bar counter as Horace stands across from Fin in conversation. Fin smokes and holds a tumbler of whiskey with his LEFT hand. He looks at Horace as he talks. Horace cleans a pint glass with a rag, looking at that instead of Fin as they talk. Bones is sitting to Fin’s right. (I thought you said the characters were on the right and that Fin was in the foreground, but now you have Bones sitting on Fin’s right and placing him in the foreground. Do you see how this can be confusing?) He’s in conversation with a pretty blonde girl. (Girl is in typical 20’s American attire. Nothing fancy. It ain’t that kind of joint.) (Two things here: 1) What constitutes “typical 20’s American attire” and 2) if Fin is in the foreground, but Bones is to his right (placing him in the foreground), then where is the girl in the scene?)(And she’s magically delicious. She should have been visible in panel 1.)

Bones has a partially drank pint of beer on the counter in front of him and a cigarette in his mouth.

So far your panel descriptions are high on detail and low on clarity. There are a lot of little details that I question the importance of, making me wonder if your artist could be given a bit more leeway in how things look. What’s important? The fact Fin is talking with Horace and/or that Bones is talking with a young woman? The placement of Fin’s glass and/or the amount of liquid in Bones’s glass? Here’s a hint: If it acts as a prop that will hold significance in telling the story, put focus on it. If it doesn’t, allow artistic interpretation.

HORACE: You catch the fights last night? (Could this have been put in the first panel? Yes.)

FIN: Nah.

HORACE: Not one of them worth a damn. Boys these days… not like back when you was fightin’.

    1. Pan over to focus on Bones now (This is a static medium. Cameras cannot pan. I thought this would have been learned already from the many times I’ve said it over the years. :Insert small, exasperated sigh here, along with mouthing the words “Three more to go…”:). He’s a little glassy eyed. He smiles as he blows smoke out of the corner of his mouth and looks at the girl siting next to him with a slight turn of his head. (Where is she sitting and which way does he turn his head?)(I’m not even going to try to parse it. I’m just going to call it a moving panel and be done with it.) The girl is moved in closer to him, but she is leaned back from Bones, narrowing one eye. She has a look of skepticism on her face as she listens to what Bones is saying. (This doesn’t seem like a pan, but rather a complete change in the positioning of the camera. The focus is now on facial expressions, something the camera in the last panel didn’t seem to identify.)

GIRL: You’re weird. (This should be said after he speaks, not before. Otherwise all we have as context for her remark are his glassy eyes and his blowing smoke.)(This also means your pacing is off. Hard thing to accomplish within three panels on P1, but there it is. I need Scotch…)

BONES: All I’m sayin’ is nothing makes you keep thinkin’ the way ya think except for that’s the way you continue to think. Ya gotta think about thinkin’. (There are a lot of inconsistencies in how you’ve presented his speech here, with an –ing here and an –in’ there, as well as ‘you’ vs. ‘ya’ and so on. Here’s an example of a rewrite of this same nonsensical dialogue: All I’m sayin’ is nothin’ makes y’keep thinkin’ the way y’think ‘cept fer that’s th’ way y’continya t’ think. Y’gotta think ‘bout thinkin’! Now try to say what you wrote and what I wrote out loud. It’s a stumble of a mouthful regardless of how it’s presented. In spite of his drunken stupor, could Bones say this effectively? Also, this dialogue by itself could have been used in your first panel as the only text to replace my previous suggestion. It establishes how drunk your character is right from the start, it sets up a potential situation that could occur in any bar, and it gets your reader into what kind of story they may be getting themselves into, for good or ill.)

This is where “You’re weird” needs to go.

GIRL: (Take out the ellipsis) You gonna buy me another drink or what?


Go back to your description for this panel and then look at what dialogue you have here. This exchange would be better served with two distinct visuals expressing two different things: the first is Bones trying to impress the girl and her stated reaction; the second would be her hopeful, perhaps flirty expression as she asks him to buy her another drink with his sudden change in demeanor to a flat out “No.” By doing this, you’re taking advantage of the distinct differences in facial expression and body language the exchange would produce.

    1. Shot from behind Fin and Bones. A drunken man in a crumpled suit (Is he a homeless man? Why is it crumpled?) and loosened tie has stumbled and bumps hard into the shoulders of Fin and Bones. Bones is pushed forward by the momentum, his stomach pushed uncomfortably into the edge of the bar, a look of surprise on what we can see of his face. The girl next to him brings her fingers up to her mouth in alarm. Fin’s arm is pushed forward as well and he spills his whiskey as he’s pushed. We see the moment of impact. Off panel, from be behind the bar, a phone rings. (There’s a lot of specificity here that seems to involve everyone in the panel. Where did the guy stumble from? (Not magically delicious, but I suspect some teleportation was involved.) Show him approaching in your last panel (Because if you do that, then it won’t seem like he teleported in. No, folks, I don’t read Steve’s comments before I make mine, either.). Why stumble into both Fin and Bones? Just having the guy hit Bones, the drunker of the two friends, would create a reaction – a much bigger one than just surprise – and would create an expected reaction and more interest in the happenings of the story.)

SFX: Briiiinnggggg briiiingggg

Why is the phone ringing the only sound here? Wouldn’t Fin, Bones, the girl, or Horace say something as a result of the guy stumbling and hitting them? This is a wasted opportunity to liven up your story.

    1. Same perspective as previous shot. Bones has quickly stood up and now stands tall over the drunken man. (This could have been slowed down to Bones turning in his seat and then standing, making eye contact in the first and towering in the second.) The drunken man is hunched over, just having regained his balance. He looks up past Bones and at Fin. He’s obviously frightened. Fin is turned around, but remains seated. Bones has a look of anger on his face as he stares down at the man who just bumped them. Fin just stares at the man. We don’t see anger on his face, but severity. (Severity? How do you show severity? I’ve looked online for a visual example and found nothing. Do you need to choose a different, more effective word? I’d say so.) (How many times have I said “simple, clean emotions for facial expressions,” and “the cleaner the emotion, the easier it is to draw”? How often have I been listened to? Not often enough, it seems.)The people around them all stop talking and look on the situation with fear and curiosity. (What people around them? Fin, Horace, and the girl? Or were you referring to other bar patrons? Were these the same people seen in the previous panel?) Wondering if they will witness the violence they all know these two men are capable of. (This sentence doesn’t serve a purpose to your description. Keep prose out of panel descriptions.) In the background, past Fin and Bones and behind the bar, we get a partial view of Horace as he holds the phone to his ear. He looks over in the direction of the guys as he does. (So I take it Horace isn’t the least bit concerned the bar is going to get wrecked? There isn’t any facial expression to indicate it either way.)(Remember those old EF Hutton commercials? “My broker at EF Hutton says…”, and then people stop whatever it is they’re doing to listen. It’s unnatural, but that’s what commercials are for. This? This is also unnatural, but it isn’t a commercial.)

HORACE: ‘Lo? Yeah, they here. (“They here”? What country is he from? English as a second language?)(Poor English isn’t the only province of ESL people. I hear terrible English all the time in that ‘hood.)

HORACE: Hey Fin, s’fer you. (Comma-fail.)

    1. Smaller panel. Fin leans over the bar and has the receiver of the phone to his face. The cord stretches across the gap of the space behind the bar. Horace looks uninterested as he waits for Fin.

FIN: Yeah?

FIN: Yeah. Ok.

This needs two panels to allow for both lines of dialogue and their corresponding actions to be presented, as well as to pace out a pause between both. (Why draw out the uninteresting? The two balloons should be enough of a pause. How can a longer pause be achieved within this same panel, Greg?)

    1. The people crowding the bar move to either side as Fin makes his way through them. (Why does the ocean of people open up when he passes? If it were Bones, I could understand as he was about to do something [what, I don’t know] to the guy who bumped him, but Fin shouldn’t garner that kind of respect or fear… should he?) He is walking away from his seat, (This is redundant as he has already left his seat, right?) and the scene that we just saw, towards the exit (and towards us). (Be clearer with “he is walking towards the exit [us]”.) He has his coat on now (When did he put it on? When did he grab it from his seat?) and smokes a cigarette with his LEFT hand. (The same cigarette as before? And does it matter which hand is holding it?) Everyone eyes him nervously as he walks past. (Why?) Bones stands now (He was already standing in Panel 1.5) as is also facing us. He is behind Fin. Following him out. (Is Bones still at his seat or has he already started walking out behind Fin? I’m confused.) The man who just bumped them stands back and looks relieved. Bones gives him a disdainful look as he moves past him. (Just how far away was the ‘bumper’ from Bones when Bones was standing up from his seat? If Bones is “also facing us” as you described above, then how is he giving a disdainful look to this other guy who is now behind him?) If (?) we see Horace (Do we or don’t we see Horace?), he’s just gone back to cleaning glasses. The girl watches Bones as he leaves. (What is the girl’s expression as she “watches”?)

FIN: C’mon, kid.

FIN: We got work.

There is a lot of stuff happening on this page when you consider you had seven panels and I suggested three more be added for clarity and pacing. Does it require two pages to create better pacing and perhaps a hook to a page turn after the man bumps into Fin and Bones? I’d say so.

A big question, in my opinion, is this: Does this first page effectively set up your story? Well, you’ve established character by putting them into a setting that allows some of their details to be shared naturally, even though “natural” doesn’t describe how the dialogue sounds to my ear. You did set up their personalities a bit, but I would have liked more clear-cut character definition beyond the lackluster opening of “Did you watch the fights?” and “Nah” to find out Fin’s fighting background. More conversation would have been nice.

The other thing that really bothered me was not knowing Fin and Bones were friends until the last panel. Why couldn’t there have been conversation between them, such as Fin telling the guy who bumped into them just how much trouble he’s in for banging into him and his friend? A stronger indication of their relationship would have helped lead into the last panel.

We have P1 on the books, and I’ll tell you the truth, I’m not feeling it. And that was even before I found out that Prince died. (For any who don’t know, I’m a very big Prince fan. I don’t get star struck. I don’t do the whole “loss for words” thing over celebrities. There are only three people whom I have wanted to see in person: Jim Shooter, Stan Lee, and Prince. I have met, thanked, and shook the hand of Jim Shooter. I have not met Stan Lee, nor laid eyes on him in person. I have not met Prince in person, although I have been to one of his concerts. I guess that will have to count.)

This page is boring. In the previous iteration, I called it weak. The minor mystery is there, the quotations have been removed, and there was a start with a different panel that I called for, but panels were added that slowed this down. I asked for more punch, and I got a beverage instead of the leather-gloved fist I was looking for. Some character was established, but the real question is: do we care enough to turn the page? Is the minor mystery enough to carry interest through to the next page? I’m going to say no, despite the crowd’s reaction. Or probably because of it. Here’s why.

It’s unnatural. I’ve been in my share of bars, and when they’ve got patrons, they’re too busy being in their own business to be in someone else’s. Not preternaturally so. Maybe if Fin & Bones were the focus of the bar in the first place, but since they weren’t, this is really out of place.

There isn’t much established here. More than the previous entry, but given the fact that there are more panels to help tell the story, the fact that no real story was told is disheartening. Disinterest grips me, made moreso by the reaction of the people in the bar. (I do like the name of the bar, though. I hope it shows up somewhere in P2.)

As writers, we have to be as interesting as possible as fast as possible. It doesn’t have to be action, but it has to be something that conspicuously draws attention to itself in such a manner that not turning the page would constitute a crime. Does that happen here? Not in the least.

Adding panels did the reverse of what you wanted. You wanted to build interest, but instead you gave disinterest. By adding, you subtracted.

Basically, it looks like you’re bad at math. I hope you don’t continue this trend.

Let’s see what P2 brings.

Page Two

Five panels

    1. Pulled back panel looking down onto the scene. It’s nighttime in a deciduous forest. Off to the side, Fin’s car is parked facing the men with its headlights on them. Giving them light in the dark woods. Fin and Bones are both busy at work digging a hole in the ground. One that looks like a good fit for a human body. It’s just a little past waist-level deep. They both have their jackets off and shirtsleeves rolled up to their elbows. They both smoke as they work.

(Car looks like this only a bit more beat up:

This scene switch could use some dialogue and/or a caption to help the reader understand the transition. You’re relying on a lot of lack-of-information, such as the short call Fin took in the previous scene, to lead the reader through your story. Share that with your audience. I feel this is something akin to a private joke as it stands now, with your knowing what is happening and expecting us to automatically know as well.

    1. Tighter on Fin and Bones. Bones leans up against the side (Of what? The hole that is only waist deep?) as he drinks from his flask. His shovel is leaned next to him. Fin stands up and slightly bends back (Forward or backward?) as he holds his left hand to his lower back. (Is the hand he uses necessary to identify?) He is sweating slightly and his right hand holds his hat as he uses the back of that hand to wipe sweat from his brow.

BONES: Break time? (I concur: Break time? We just got into this scene and we’re already taking a break?)

FIN: Take a slug, then get back to work.

FIN: I gotta piss. (Bones initiated, and yet here it sounds like Fin did so he could relieve himself. Why not just have Fin say to Bones, “ I gotta piss. Take a slug and get back to work”?)

    1. Fin walks towards us in the foreground of the panel. His hat in back on now. We see Bones in the hole behind him. Bones is back to work digging already, but he looks at Fin with a grin. Behind them both, the headlights of the car light up the panel. (If he’s walking toward us and we can see his hat is on, then we can also see his face. Why doesn’t he have an expression?)

BONES: Prostate actin’ up, old timer?

FIN: Kiss the entirety of my ass.

    1. Shot tighter on Bones. He’s a little dirty (Just a little?) and sweaty from digging. He whistles as he works. (So where’s the whistling sound for your letterer?)

    1. We see Bones in the hole again, (Did he ever leave the hole? Not according to what I’ve been reading.) but here, he’s just noticed something. He looks up slightly from his bent over digging position, from what we can see on his face, he looks slightly confused. (Forehead skin scrunched up, eyes tightening.) (This already requires at least two panels, the first to hit something with his shovel, the second to react to what he’s found.) Between him and the car (opposite side from which Fin just walked away in) we see a pair of slender woman’s legs, and the bottom of a white dress that runs just to the knees. A bit of blood stains the bottom of the dress as it spills down from above. Maybe even a little goes down her leg. Keep it focused on Bones. Only show the girl from the waist down. It’s GHOST ZOE. (When I initially read this section of description, from my last blue edit to here, I understood that the legs and white dress, etc. was inside the hole, like a body Bones had dug up, but upon reading a third and fourth time, I now think you mean there is a woman walking up to the hole. Is this correct? This tells me you didn’t describe it effectively.)

I’m really disappointed in the lack of information you are giving the reader. The dialogue you have from the last scene to now has done nothing to tell us what is happening or to indicate why it’s happening. Think of your five W’s: who, what, where, when, why. As a matter of fact, throw ‘how’ in there, too. What have you given us, honestly? Not a hell of a lot. Because I have no idea what the story is about, what the character motivations are, why they are doing what they’re doing, and so much more given so little, I just want to shut the book right now. You also haven’t taken advantage of the simplest of opportunities to pull the reader in: using text to tell the story in the form of dialogue, captions, or even sound effects. Instead, you have an over-abundance of silent panels like a television that keeps getting muted. Give us information! Give us information! (I say as I walk around my office with a picket sign reading this same thing…)(Don Kroboth? This be thine own.)

P2, and while things have changed, nothing was learned. I find that to be the most disappointing thing of all.

The previous submission had a splash page for P2 that was nothing but padding. It was terrible. It was cut, and we’re now in the woods with the digging. There was more dialogue in the previous submission, and while it didn’t do much, it at least gave something to read.

This? This is more being bored. With cutting of dialogue, we’re being bored even faster than before. We still have no real information about anything that’s going on. It’s like boring the reader is the goal. Who wants information when you could be bored? We don’t want interest. We turn our nose up at interest! Give me boring and give me rest! (Prince is gone. That’s quite enough Death for today, thank you very much.)

At least you’ve provided a light source, like what was suggested last time. Again, things have changed, but nothing was learned. That ghost girl showing up? It’s moved up some in an attempt to be more interesting and doing it faster, but I still want some context. Dialogue would have been nice. Something to run a bit counterpoint to what we have.

I don’t want people to think that I’m advocating all action all the time. I’m not. I’m advocating being interesting, which is something completely different. If you can’t be interesting, then you can’t truly hold a reader’s attention. They’re going to wonder when you’re going to get to the good part.

How can you be more interesting? Through dialogue. This is not easy. Dialogue and telling a story with it and through it are difficult. It takes practice. That practice isn’t evident here. Dialogue has been removed when more than likely shouldn’t have been. Remember, dialogue has to reveal character and move the plot. Some character was removed with the chopping of the dialogue.

On to P3.

Page Three

Six Panels

    1. Tight on Ghost Zoe. She stands still with a blank expression on her face (Of course she’s standing still…). Her head is tilted slightly down to look at Bones. (Is Bones in this panel or is he off panel?)(If we’re tight on her, and she’s looking down, where is the camera?) A light wind blows a few strands of her hair out of place. Her skin is white and pale. Her mouth is closed. She has a bullet hole in her chest, right over her heart. Blood has poured out of the wound and runs down her front, staining her clothes over her chest and stomach, and as we saw from the last panel, spills down to her waist and legs. The light from Fin’s car seems to die down and the black forest fills in the space around her.

You call her Ghost Zoe, but make it sound like she’s a zombie, a corporeal being, instead of a ghost. Did the ‘light wind’ exist in other panels and how is it blowing the hair of a non-corporeal being? And how would we, as your reader, know that there’s a light wind moving her hair and not simple physical movement on her part? And by the way, why do you keep having silent panels? It’s nerve-wracking to have the mute button on through most of your story.

    1. Tight on Bones. (Where is the camera in relation to the last panel?) He has fallen backwards. He is on his ass with his back up to the side of the hole. His hands planted on either side of him. His eyes are wide with fear and shock. (When you put descriptors like fear and shock together, realize that they can represent two different emotions or degrees of the same emotion. Which is stronger, fear or shock? Go with the stronger of the two.)(I swear that people don’t learn. There are archives that can be gone through for TPG, there are other things at the ComixTribe site… I think they’re all lying fallow. How many of you can fathom the depths of my frustration?) His mouth is open and his cigarette is mid-fall out of it. (No, that last part doesn’t ring true. Why do I say this, Rin? What about that last sentence makes the panel false?)

BONES: Jesus (Add exclamation mark) What the fuck! (Though sounding like a question, this seems more an exclamation, so no foul here.)

    1. Ghost Zoe holds out her right hand loosely in front of her. (In a static medium like comics, “loosely” holding out a hand can’t be expressed visually. Take a picture of your hand being held out this way. Can you tell it’s loose?) Almost like she wants Bones to take it. It looks like a gesture for help. Her hand is tilted slightly and open, but her fingers are still curling in towards her palms. The wind is picking up a bit and her hair is pushed farther to the side by the breeze. Her mouth is open slightly as if she is beginning to talk. (There is so much wrong with this panel description: The wind affecting a ghost’s hair, the ‘loose’ reference, the curled up fingers on a loose hand, etc.)

    1. Close on Ghost Zoe’s face. Her blank expression as turned to one of extreme melancholy. Her(?) seem to plead as she squints them slightly. Her face has a slight wince to it. She opens her mouth wider now and blood spills from it as well. Her chin is wet with blood as it has spilt down. It’s as if she is trying to talk but can’t.

You’re spending so much time and effort trying to be horrific that you aren’t doing the same in creating your story. (Being horrifically boring, maybe… Pleading, squinting, but blood running from an open mouth? Mr. Kroboth, if you could see your way to trying this one as well, we’d all be much obliged.)

    1. Close on Bones again. He holds his head in his hands and squeezes his eyes shut. He is sitting flat on his ass in the shallow grave now. His knees stick up. His head is tilted down. His thick blonde hair pushes its way through his fingers. A bit of a shadow falls over him as the light from the car’s headlights flows over the hole and doesn’t fully illuminate him in the hole. (This is honestly the worst panel description I’ve read in this script. You aren’t answering the simplest of questions, but you sure are concerning yourself with the little details.) (Basically, Steve is saying “This isn’t prose. Know your medium.”)

BONES: Fuck fuck what the fuck… (This is the third script I’ve edited here on TPG recently where a line of dialogue just suits my feeling at the time. This is no exception. I’m at the point where I can only say I’ve reached my limit of terrible storytelling.)

    1. Perspective from the other side of the whole (Really? Words mean something when they’re used correctly. This means using the correct spelling of the word you want. I’m tired, but we’re near the end, so I can stop soon.). Coming in from the direction that Fin previously walked away in. We see the scene. The car lights shine directly at us. The hole is illuminated, but we can barely see Bones down in it. His shovel sticks out of the whole. The one Fin was previously using lays next to the hole on the ground. Ghost Zoe is nowhere to be seen. She has vanished. Fin approaches the whole (Again?) from the foreground, but we don’t know it’s him. We can only make out a silhouette of his back as it takes up part of the left side of the panel. Like a stranger walking onto the scene.

I’m at a loss for words… almost. When I have trouble spending the time editing the last couple of panels, I know that in my mind, I’ve thrown my arms up in the air and called it a day. You not only didn’t grab my attention with this script, you almost literally kicked me out of it. Silent panels, terrible character interaction, no sense of real story development, and an overabundance of panel descriptions that do nothing to build the story and everything to control what your artist is drawing. I’m done.

Let’s run it down so we can move on to more important things.

Format: Flawless Victory. At least there’s that.

Panel Descriptions: They don’t do much to help the artist. Most of them approach prose. They help set the mood in your mind, but unless the artist is damned good and doing all the work themselves, then they won’t help much. Much more hindrance than help. Dave McKean wanted to know the feel of the story when he was doing Arkham Asylum. You can’t afford a Dave McKean. I’m not trying to suck the life out of your script, but I would like for you to get across what can be drawn. That isn’t happening here.

Pacing: Still needs work. You’ve listened and cut some things, but again, I don’t think there was much understanding as to why things were done. Doing without understanding is a downfall—especially considering there is an archive with over six years worth of scripts and notes and what have you. Think there are learning opportunities about pacing in there?

(And the hell of it is that I know of very few people who have read every single TPG in the archive in an attempt to get better. Most of those who submit are only concerned about their own script and how it does, not how they can learn from those who have gone before and make their work better.)

Dialogue: Almost totally ineffective. Characterization has been cut. The plot doesn’t move. People are just doing things. Yes, it’s only three pages, but what thing of interest happens in those pages? A ghost shows up. Does that make Bones Mr. Muir, then? (Kudos to anyone who gets the reference without having to look it up.) Where’s the snappy patter? Where’s the interesting talk? Where’s the things that move the script and keeps us turning pages? Where are the words the reader can see?

Desolate. That’s what this script is. Desolate, with hardly a word to be seen.

Content: Meh. As a reader, I’m even less interested than I was before. Not a good thing.

Editorially, this needs a rewrite. Still. Which is shameful, but necessary. Last time, I suggested a rewrite under supervision. That still holds true. Things were done, but learning didn’t happen. A rewrite under supervision may have learning happening because then questions could be asked.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG: The End Tue, 19 Apr 2016 01:16:00 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth


Hello, everyone.

You read it right. The Proving Grounds is coming to an end. It’s been just about 6.5 years of doing this thing weekly, and it’s time has come.

I want to thank everyone who’s submitted over the years. Literally, it could not have been done without you.

I’m off. Off to different things. Could this make a comeback sometime? Maybe. Anything is possible. But right now, as of 5/13/16 when Frank Martin’s script is posted, that will be the last of it.

Thank you, again. Everyone will get a more formal thank you by name when Frank’s script is posted.

Take care, and keep creating.


TPG Week 277: Second Issues NEED To Start Well Fri, 15 Apr 2016 22:57:00 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have our very own Ryan Kroboth putting on his writing hat to see how far he’s come. We have Steve Colle in blue, and while Ryan usually comes in with a pencil assist, I think it would be extremely unfair to call on him for this week’s entry, so we won’t do that. (Maybe I could interest another person with an artistic bent to sub in?) And as always, I’m the curmudgeon in red. Now, let’s see where we’re at with Ryan as he tries his hand at


Page 1 (Six Panels)

Page 1, Panel 1

DERIKZL sits in a profile full body shot on a flat cliff in the Wastelands of Leh, with Derikzl and the cliff taking up the left side of the panel, sadly watching the sunset on the right of the panel, which has already set behind the Demon Palace in the extreme background, casting the panel in twilight. (I imagine “sadly” will be mostly expressed through body language, right? A profile and the camera distance aren’t conducive to just a facial expression.) The Ro-Jinn Dwelling is in the background on the right, underneath the Demon Palace, but closer to the camera. For all background shots in this issue the amount of Negative Energy coming from the ground should be increased. (This is good to mention here, but ensure you have reminders of this point when the occasion warrants it.)

(NOTE TO COLORIST: Each panel after this one gets progressively darker as night sets in. The last panel should still be light enough to make out the character.)

(NOTE TO LETTERER: Please place this speech bubble between the background elements of the Demon Palace and the Ro-Jinn Dwelling.)(I like these notes.)

Derikzl: Damn. (Here’s what I don’t like: the bolding. It’s used for both the element name and the element itself, so it’s difficult to distinguish if this is for the letterer to add stress (italics) to, or if it’s just the way the script is being written. Bolding can get lost in the shuffle of lettering. It’s harder to lose underlining.)

I’m not pulled into the story with the visual and/or corresponding dialogue. I don’t see how one helps convey the other. They actually seem to work against each other, in my opinion, with “Damn” and “sadly watching the sunset” expressing two different emotions, which is my immediate reaction. (Hm. I can get behind a sad “damn.” Damn is pretty versatile. Not as versatile as fuck, but pretty versatile nonetheless. Inflection can have a lot to do with it, but since this is comics, inflection and tone have to come across in body language and punctuation (and balloon shape/size) and what has been said previously. Anyway, I can get behind a sad “damn.”)

Page 1, Panel 2

Bust shot of DERIKZL, over the shoulder from behind, who looks towards the clouds where the Demon Palace vanishes. (When you say “vanishes”, do you mean it has disappeared from sight due to the camera location or that it was there and is now gone? If the latter, why do you have it in the first panel to begin with, as it didn’t appear often enough to leave an impression on your reader for them to notice its disappearance? Or do you intend to have white lines outlining the now transparent structure as it fades away?)

Derikzl: Even when you disappear, Father, you still make my life hell.

I see where you are trying to have both your visual and dialogue somehow mesh or match up for your reader, but it isn’t working for me. And again, I’m not pulled in… yet.

Page 1, Panel 3

Medium shot from three quarters view of the front of DERIKZL, who looks slightly away and down from the camera. His eyes are closed and he is still upset. (I have no idea why he is upset. Nothing has been established to indicate the reason for his mood and the slow moving pace of his self-reflection is dragging things along for me. It’s Panel 3 and I’m already disinterested.)

Derikzl: Why did you tell them I was some kind of chosen one?

Derikzl: Chosen for what?

Having the above dialogue in the same panel doesn’t give enough of a pause to his second question. You also haven’t given us enough expression to his face or body language to help express his feelings when asking these questions. Another point (which applies to every piece of dialogue I’ve read so far): I’m wondering if this is meant to be in caption as a first person narrative? If he’s saying it out loud, then his actions (or lack of such) are definitely lacking in helping to combine verbal and physical communication.

Page 1, Panel 4

Elevated shot, looking down on DERIKZL from the front, with his eyes now open, appearing to be choking back tears. (Can we see his open eyes with the higher camera angle?) His head alone is on the panel, with the flat, empty wastelands surrounding him in the background. (Don’t forget to remind the artist/colourist of the need for more negative energy.)

Derikzl: To be exiled?

Derikzl: To be slain by my Brothers? (Will we find out why “Brothers” has a capital ‘B’? Is it a familial reference or the name of a group?)

Page 1, Panel 5

Full body shot of DERIKZL in the process of standing up, his expression (Facial or body language?) is now blank. (Where is your camera? Can we see his facial expression from this assumed angle? Part of the problem is that you’ve already developed a pattern of telling the artist the camera location, so when you provide vague details, it opens up questions or assumptions, neither of which are favourable.)

Derikzl: What would my life have been like with a different family?

Page 1, Panel 6

Direct overhead shot looking down on DERIKZL. He stands at the ledge of the cliff looking over the edge.

Derikzl: One thing’s for certain…

Derikzl: …I wouldn’t be burdened with this choice.

I’m seeing this as two separate panels, the first being either a worm’s eye view or up shot from his feet looking at his face, then followed up by the down shot above his head and placing more focus on what lies beneath him. This would also divide up your two lines of dialogue and provide both with a better pacing and image-to-dialogue match.

I’ll tell you honestly, it’s mid-afternoon as I’m starting this and I’m yawning. Am I tired? I didn’t think so, but I’m more apt to guess it’s my body’s way of saying “I’m bored”.

This is slow, Ryan! Nothing here is attracting my attention, let alone pulling me in. The visuals are dragging out the non-actions and the dialogue isn’t doing the job of telling us the story or hooking us in. Even that last panel, as I explained above, is poorly presented as I don’t care if he’s looking over the edge and possibly going to jump, fall, dance, or whatever else you have planned for your character on the next page.

This is a terrible first page, my friend.

So, we have P1 on the books!

I’m neither agreeing or disagreeing with Steve. I don’t think this is slow, but it definitely isn’t fast. It doesn’t capture my interest, but I can tell it’s building toward something. (My ears perked up at “chosen one.” Yes, I’m a sucker.) I kinda get the Hamlet “to be or not to be” soliloquy vibe here: forlorn guy talking to himself about death—possibly his own. Is this speech in itself that interesting? No, but I feel it reaching for it.

Would I have started out like this? Possibly not. Talking about death, I probably would have started out with a large panel with the main character at the edge of the cliff in the Jesus pose: arms open wide, head down, maybe a tear running down his face. Turn the spoken dialogue into caption boxes, and you may have something with such a striking image.

I’m all about the striking image. The goal is to draw the reader in as soon as possible. You immediately get a “will he or won’t he?” vibe with the pose and the death talk. It’s an image that people respond to viscerally, good or bad. It will definitely get them to turn the page.

Now, my real question is simple: who’s going to draw this? I always have to ask this question of artists, because if they’re going to draw the book themselves, then my job isn’t to pore over the panel descriptions to make sure they can be drawn—my job is to make sure the story is being told well and that the pacing is right. (This is why I’m talking about imagery instead of the panel descriptions themselves. If Ryan is going to draw it, then the panel descriptions are more as a reminder for him, as well as letting the rest of the team know where his head is. If he’s not going to draw it…there will be some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.)

As a first page, this isn’t a page-turner. More has to be done in order to get the reader engaged. That can be done with imagery, while more than likely keeping the dialogue generally intact.

Page 2 (Six Panels)

Page 2, Panel 1

There is just enough light left to make out the environment and character, but it is now night. The camera is at the bottom of the cliff, which is visible at the top of the panel, nearby where DERIKZL has landed from jumping off. (I had to read this description a few times and I still can’t get an accurate picture in my mind of what you’re explaining. Here’s my understanding: The camera’s at the bottom of the cliff, but the bottom of the cliff is visible at the top of the panel. Wait, that doesn’t sound right… or is it? Then there’s the inclusion of “nearby where DERIKZL has landed from jumping off”. So the camera is at the bottom of the cliff? [scratches head]) He has landed in a squatted position on all fours, mirroring how he walked in issue one, with his expression being hidden by darkness. The rock formation of the Ro-Jinn dwelling is behind him on the right of the panel. (Just where exactly is this camera? I think I need a map to see everything you are describing and for it to make sense. And how do we add 2+2 to understand that he had jumped and has now landed? Yes, there’s the page turn that covers pace and expanse of time, but you didn’t show or tell us that he was going to/did jump to get to this visual. “I wouldn’t be burdened with this choice” wasn’t an effective hook to indicate the choice that was to be made.)(And here, folks, is where I would ask a kind-hearted, not-Ryan artist to tackle this particular panel with a sketch. Because there’s confusion in them thar hills!)

Derikzl: I don’t want to go back to my old life. I know where that ends.

Derikzl: But can I trust those Ro-Jinn that killing my Brothers is necessary? (This reads badly. Should it be “Can I trust those Ro-Jinn to kill my Brothers?” or “Can I convince those Ro-Jinn that killing my Brothers is necessary?”)(The main question is “Why is he talking out loud?” Hamlet did it because there was no other way to reveal his thoughts. In plays, people have to talk. In comics? This is why we have captions. I go to work and I see something that makes me talk to myself every day. Well, not “to myself,” really. I’m talking to the people that have contacted me for whatever reason, but I know I’m safe because they can’t hear me through the screen. He’s safe in talking out loud to himself here, but really, this is a one-sided conversation that should have someone to bounce off of. I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Children of Dune, and Leto II is talking to Stilgar about what the imperium needs. He could have talked to himself, but he wouldn’t have gotten the reactions he needed if he did. And the audience (the reader) would wonder why he was talking out loud to himself about such things for so long. Think of the modern reader as you tell your story. They don’t want things that will take them out of the story. This would.)

I’m going to reiterate my question from before: Is this dialogue being expressed as his inner thoughts (thought balloons or captioned first person narrative) or is it being spoken aloud? You never indicate it, but damned if it doesn’t sound stupid for someone to be saying this stuff out loud! (Remember, folks, I don’t read ahead. I make my notes as I read along. Steve and I are of the same mind here, and we don’t converse over the script before we make our notes.)

Page 2, Panel 2

Far shot of DERIKZL climbing the side of the rock formation towards the doorway of the Ro-Jinn dwelling. (Hold on a second: Wasn’t the Ro-Jinn dwelling in the background of Panel 1 of the first page and didn’t he just land after jumping from the edge of the cliff he was standing on, which would be a bit of a distance from said dwelling? Shouldn’t there be a panel between Panels 1 and 2 from this page that acts as a transition point for the reader to see where Derikzl is planning to go, seeing as how that was never established through picture or word?)

Derikzl: I’m not even convinced it’s possible.

Derikzl: Perhaps… I can find a way to spare them. (The ellipsis doesn’t really do anything to strengthen mood or feeling. I don’t read hesitation and I definitely don’t see it in your character’s actions.)

Page 2, Panel 3

Extreme far shot of DERIKZL standing in the doorway to the Ro-Jinn dwelling. The light from the inside casts him in silhouette, and his left hand rests on the doorway. (Is the door closed or open? If closed, then how is his body in silhouette? If open, when did it get opened? Did he open it? Did the person inside?)

Derikzl: Hello?

Derikzl: Sun Zen?

Okay, so this brings up my previous question that I asked twice already: Is this spoken aloud? Hmmm… it sounds like it would be, but it doesn’t have any indication of being different than your previous text. Am I being facetious or just plain sarcastic? You won’t know just as I don’t know your intention with your dialogue.

Page 2, Panel 4

Camera is close behind DERIKZL in the doorway, with the focus on a strange glyph etched into the rock on the left. He looks at it with intrigue. (This makes no sense: The camera is close behind your character, but somehow we can see that he’s looking at it with intrigue?)(If you’re drawing this, Ryan, it’s just a note. If you’re writing this for another artist…this is crap and you should know better. Not Line of Demarcation bad, but yeah, you should know better.)

Derikzl: That’s strange. (And doesn’t this just sum up my thoughts on what I wrote above? Well, maybe not. Mine was more of a “WTF???”)(Dialogue is not easy, folks. This is a perfect example of that.)

Page 2, Panel 5

We are inside the same room from the end of issue one. (This brings up another question: Was he inside in the last panel or outside looking at the glyph before entering?) The camera is in the center of the room looking toward the doorway. DERIKZL peers in looking toward the camera, his expression indifferent and lit by the fire from the torches in the corners of the room. (Why is he looking toward the camera and not around the room? If the camera isn’t representing what he is looking for, then his focus shouldn’t be on it – or us – as it creates a seeming break of the fourth wall. Also, why is he indifferent and how do you want the artist to draw this?) In the background, the doorway leading downstairs is emitting a faint orange glow, which is highlighting the left side of Derikzl. (Another degree of confusion: is there a second door? You have the door through which he entered and now there’s a second door that leads downstairs. With this being a second issue and not having the reference you refer to in the beginning of this panel’s description, it’s creating more problems than it’s worth.)

Derikzl: Zen? It’s me, Derikzl.

Derikzl (small): Because I’m sure you’ve revived so many others from the dead recently…

Page 2, Panel 6

Medium shot of DERIKZL, who has turned towards the doorway (To his left, then?) with his mouth open in shock. The orange glow is now more prominent, but not overwhelming.

Derikzl: I’m not completely sure I want to– (I suggest taking this out and just leaving the following line, which should be on its own anyway to reflect his physical reaction.)

Derikzl: Huh?

There’s movement in this page, but it isn’t a smooth flow by any means. Jump-jump-assume-assume: that’s what I’m getting. From your pacing with jumps in action that require something to fill in the A-to-B to a lot of assumption that your collaborators are going to be able to fill in the blanks and decipher what you’ve written. Does one action lead to another effectively? I have to say “No”. Is the dialogue doing its job of moving the story forward? Ditto to the negative.

P2, and I’m bored.

Have I read the first issue? No. So I don’t know what’s going on. We’re long past the days of “write every comic as though it is the reader’s first.” Those days are long buried, and in some ways, I’m very grateful for that. Have you read any Marvel comics from those days recently? I’m talking the 70s and 80s. No? Some of those were hard to get through, because someone always had to recap what had gone before in order to bring a reader up to speed. Sometimes it was shoehorned in and made reading tiresome for those who had been faithfully following the story all along.

Anyway, the only real point that interested me is the fact that the character has been brought back from the dead.

Now, to the real issue:

This is the second issue of a story. Do you know what happens to second issues when it comes to sales? You can expect to see a drop by about half. That’s historical. About half. Could be bigger, could be smaller. Readers and collectors (there’s a difference) love to jump in on the first issue. Readers will stay around for the next issues, maybe even a story arc. Collectors will only stick around if they’re drawn in by the first issue; otherwise, they bail. Why?

This script right here is a prime example of “why.”

It’s boring. It’s P2, and nothing has happened. We’re not even given an overly exciting visual to kick things off with. The only “strange” thing is the Glowing Glyph of Glistening Glowville—and even it isn’t that interesting. Second issue, so there’s no context for it.

Things don’t have to be exciting all the time. Excitement all the time has to hit the same note repeatedly, and then the stakes get raised, and then raised some more, ad infinitum (or until things are just absurd—see Chris Claremont’s X-Men run with the neverending subplots). Things don’t have to be exciting, but they have to be interesting. There’s a difference. (Again, see Chris Claremont’s X-Men run.)

None of this is interesting, and that’s a shame. It means you’re going to shed readers left, right and center.

And then there are just some terribly written panel descriptions, making me hope against hope that you’re writing this for yourself. Otherwise you’re going to torture the artist who has to try to parse this.


Page 3 (Five Panels)

Page 3, Panel 1

DERIKZL is almost to the bottom of the stairwell, his hand running across the wall. (Here’s where you have another jump in action without a previous indication of this action being led into, similar to your Page One to Page Two issue. However, this time it’s on facing pages, which has taken away your opportunity to blame an extended passage of time due to a page turn. What you’ve done here is have him react to the light with a “Huh?” and then assume the reader will know he is going to go down the stairs [which, by the way, we don’t know are there] in this first panel. There are times when the reader can fill in the blanks, but they need basic information to make that obvious transition, which is something that is lacking on both of these previous pages.) Another set of stairs leading down (To where?) is adjacent to the set he is on. (Does this mean there are two sets of stairs that are next to or parallel to each other? Clarify, as this sounds like there are two sets bringing him down to the same location.)(Labyrinth! David Bowie, you are missed…) The room is rectangular, with two pot torches at the far end of the room (off panel). (If the pot torches are off-panel, how do we know they are pot torches?) He looks inquisitively at ZEN, who is floating a few inches off the ground in a lotus position with his eyes closed. His tail is coiled in a circle on the floor, and his markings are the source of the glowing orange light. In front of him is a folded pile of clothing.

Two things I want to mention: 1) you’re jumping around between character and setting descriptions and 2) this feels like a moving panel the way you’ve written it. Is Derikzl looking inquisitively at Zen while his hand is running across the wall as he nears the bottom of the stairs? I can’t tell. As for panel description, set up the setting first and then populate with characters and their actions. (Things you know, Ryan, but aren’t putting into use.)

Derikzl: Zen! What’s going on?! (You said above that he was looking inquisitively at Zen, but this dialogue sounds panicked, especially with the question and exclamation marks closing off his dialogue. Does it match how you’ve described him looking? Not at all.)

Derikzl: Are you okay?

Page 3, Panel 2

DERIKZL is nervously scratching the back of his head while standing behind ZEN. (Do you mean something like this? Zen’s eyes have a small slit in them with orange light emitting from them. (What do you mean by a “small slit”? Because he’s a Chinese dragon-like being [as you provided in the character sheet], does this mean the area around the black pupil isn’t orange, but that the pupil itself is? I’m asking for clarification based on samples I saw online of dragon eyes.)

Derikzl: Uhh, listen…I wanted to talk to you.

Derikzl: I was thinking maybe we can do this (What is “this”?) without killing my Broth– (This goes against what you said in Page Two, Panel 2: “But can I trust those Ro-Jinn that killing my Brothers is necessary?”)

This dialogue is bad, and I don’t mean the pop cultural “bad” (That went out in the 80s. You can’t be that far behind up in the Great White North, Steve! But I get it. I’m old, too…). And as an aside, why would you put the intonation on “killing”? First of all, it doesn’t need it and second, it sounds like it’s taking precedence over the broken line of speech.

Page 3, Panel 3 (inset)

Extreme close up of ZEN’s eyes, which are wide open. The panel is covered in orange light.

NO COPY (Why is there no copy? Couldn’t you have had Derikzl mutter something from off panel?)

Page 3, Panel 4

Shot of the Ro-Jinn dwelling from a distance away. The orange light is emitting from the doorway and windows. (How far away is this distance? Is it close enough to see that the door is a door and not a window? And if Zen is in the lower level of the dwelling, how is the orange light getting out from anywhere but the level he is on? Sure, you mentioned earlier that the light was coming from the doorway leading downstairs, but it now sounds like the entire place is lit up on the inside regardless of where the orange light is coming from.) In the foreground are two cat demons. (These aren’t in your character sheet and therefore need more description.) One is perked up looking toward the light with interest. The second lays facing the camera looking at the other demon cat in annoyance. (Why is it looking at the other cat in annoyance?)(They’re magically delicious!)

NO COPY (And again, why is there no copy? Not even a sound effect? Not even a sound coming from the demon cats?) (How can the reader tell it’s annoyance on a cat’s face? Some cats just look annoyed, Grumpy Cat notwithstanding.)

Page 3, Panel 5

Close up of ZEN’s head as he stares solemnly straight ahead (At us?), the edges of his iris’s still have a faint orange tint. (Was it his irides [plural of iris of the eye, not the flower] that were orange and not his pupils? From some of the online examples, it looked like many different dragons had the orange irides, so how is this outside of the norm?) DERIKZL, in midshot, rubs his eyes with his forearm and looks disoriented. In the back ground MINA is silhouetted in an orange glow. (I’m seeing you have three layers to this image: Foreground = Zen, middle ground = Derikzl, and background = Mina. By having three layers with three different characters, which is going to be the visual focus?)

Zen: It was too risky to attempt this any sooner. (What is “this” and why is he mentioning it?)

Derikzl: Ahh! What’s going on?! I can’t see! (Why is this second and not the first thing said in the panel?)

Zen: There is someone you should meet, Child. (Who is he talking to? Derikzl? The unnamed Mina? Someone off panel? Because he is seemingly staring at us, does this mean Zen is speaking to the reader?)

I’m going to stop here. No seven pages for you today, Mr. Kroboth.

I’ve already said my peace and explained what I felt was necessary, so I’ll leave it to Steven. However, I will say this: Ryan, you need to write for other artists. I felt this was written with the idea of you drawing this yourself, which would explain some of the lacking details. This script was collaborator-friendly at times and not at others. Be consistent.

Steve has stopped, so it’s now up to me to run this down and then get some dinner. Rest my back. Make some decisions…

Format: Flawless Victory! (I wasn’t expecting any less.)

Panel Descriptions: I’m of two minds. If you’re drawing this yourself, then what’s here is generally fine since you know how things make sense to you. You know what you meant to say. If you’re writing this for another artist to draw, then there’s lots of ‘splainin’ to do. I couldn’t get a good sense of what was happening and where things were. That’s never good. You can do better.

Pacing: I’m not a fan of the pacing at all. Not only is it too slow to start with (and slow meaning uninteresting, not slow as in there is no action happening), but it also jumps around too much to follow well. An extra panel here and there to smooth things out would have been extremely helpful to the pacing and your reader. They need to follow along, not be jerked along. Not fun.

Dialogue: I’m not a fan. There isn’t much said that is actually interesting, which is a crime. Readers have to want to read the book. It shouldn’t be a chore. Reading this would be a chore. It doesn’t have to be pithy, but it has to capture a reader’s interest.

Content: This is definitely an issue 2, meaning I wouldn’t be picking this up. That’s always a shame. We want comics to succeed. This won’t.

Editorially, I’d have to ask who’d be drawing this. The answer to that question would guide the rest of the conversation. Sure, things like the pacing and dialogue have to be fixed, but do I need to focus on the panel descriptions as items instead of the thing I have to read that provides the pace and tells the story? Again, as an editor, I have to look at things differently when an artist wants to write and draw their own story. Some things are forgiven and not others. I have to know what I can and can’t forgive.

No matter what the outcome of that conversation, there has to be a point of interest that can start the issue that will get the reader turning pages. I want to be able to enjoy the book I’m reading. I wouldn’t enjoy this because there’s nothing of interest or at least intriguing. I sound like a broken record, I know, but these things are important.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG Week 276: Interesting Bits Stripped Out Sat, 09 Apr 2016 17:39:32 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, our Brave One is Michael Roslan. We also have Steve Colle in blue, we have Ryan Kroboth with his wonderful pencil, and I’m the old man with a hurt back sitting in the corner, yelling at the kids from my rocking chair, stick in hand. We’re all going to see what Michael has in store for us when he goes

Down Deep


Panel 1: Interior of the NEV (or as you described in the email, Naval Exploratory Vessel, which you also stated will be fleshed out between you and the artist you work with.) control room, viewed from the front looking toward the back. Two Navy soldiers sit at the controls. Williams is on the left, Vasquez on the right. Williams has a puzzled look on his face. Vasquez studies the control panel. (What is Williams doing? You don’t describe his actions as he has the puzzled look on his face. Is he looking towards someone? Also, you describe the shot as “viewed from the front looking toward the back”, but where are your soldiers in this image?)

1. Williams: SIR, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS. (Who is he talking to? Vasquez?)(I want everyone to notice what Michael did here. I’ll talk about it in a few.)

Panel  2: Same panel as before, but now Paulsen strolls in behind the soldiers. The soldiers look toward us. (So the soldiers are in/near the foreground and Paulsen is now in the middle ground. Is that correct? And when you say the soldiers are looking toward us, are they looking at us or at the imagined control panel between them and the readers? If they are looking at the control panel, their eyes would probably be aimed down a bit and not directly at the reader, right?)(There’s enough space to “stroll”? I know you want to work this out with your artist, but I’m in a white void. I don’t like white voids.)


I have no problem with the dialogue, which sounds quite natural. However, I do feel that Paulsen should be saying something before Vasquez says his line, something like “WHAT HAVE YOU GOT, WILLIAMS?“

Panel  3: We zoom out a little to reveal that we’re looking through a section of glass at our intrepid crew. (What is the ‘section of glass’? A window looking out to the ocean?) Paulsen squints at us, as if trying to make sense of what he is seeing. Williams looks down checking the data readouts on his control panel. (This answers my question about the location of the control panel, but should I find that out here and not in the previous panel? Also, my understanding is their gaze is meeting ours, but they’re actually looking through us at whatever is in the distance before them. Is that right?)


Panel 4: Zoom out even further. We can make out the front of the NEV. (Now an exterior view? If so, say it.) Paulsen has his head turned slightly, speaking over his shoulder to someone off-panel. Vasquez pushes buttons on his control panel. (Is the reader under the assumption that that is what he’s doing, seeing as how the control panel in below the level of the window?)


5. Paulsen: DR. LANG. DR. CALDWELL. (Split this up into two balloons and add question marks to each as if to say ”Dr. Lang? Can you come here, please?”)

Panel 5: Zoom out even further. We should be able to see most of the NEV and that we’re under water. Lang stands to the left of Paulsen. Caldwell is to his right. They are all looking towards us. Everyone is stunned by the vista before them. (How many characters are visible through your window? You have Williams, Vasquez, Paulsen, and now Lang and Caldwell. All they all in the shot? If not, where did Vasquez and Williams move to?)

6. Paulsen: THE HELL IS THIS? (This sounds strange the way it’s written, especially given you have Paulsen saying it when his speech has been calm thus far. I suggest rephrasing it.)

7. Lang: I HAVE NO IDEA. (Comma instead of a period) BUT IT’S… (The ellipsis doesn’t feel right here. I’m thinking a double dash would be more appropriate.)

You’ve got a good hook leading into the page turn. Just work on your clarity issues with regards to panel descriptions.

We’ve got P1 on the books.

Steve may think this is a good hook, but I’m bored. It’s even worse because I’m in a white void. I hate being in a white void. I can’t “see” anything. All I can do is hope that things become clearer.

They don’t. Instead, they become more confused.

First, going back to the NEV. In the email, you describe it as a mini-submarine. I don’t know about you, but to me, “mini” means “a smaller version of.” Is there enough room for someone to “stroll” in a mini-sub? I don’t know. My personal vocabulary and vision tells me no.

Next, things aren’t described well. Steve went over this, so I won’t kick a dying horse.

Finally, I have some issues with the pacing of this page. There isn’t enough happening here to warrant my interest. I don’t care what “the signal” is or where it’s coming from because I don’t have enough story yet.

The dialogue. As everyone can see, Michael is using all caps for his characters. I can live with this. I don’t have any problem with it at all. Some writers feel they can get a better idea as to how much space their dialogue is going to take up in a balloon. Whatever gets you through the day. Just know that most word processing programs aren’t going to do a spell check on words that are in all caps. The reason for this is because all caps are usually acronyms or initials. In order to get the program to do a spell check on it, you have to turn the feature on.

Let’s see what P2 does. Hopefully, it brings something worthwhile.


Panel 6: (Panel 6?) TWO PAGE SPLASH. This is our chance to make the reader’s jaw drop! Let’s set the tone and atmosphere of our story right here. (Misnumbering. I don’t mind that overmuch. It does show a lack of concentration, though.)

We pull way, way back. The lone NEV explores the depths of the ocean (This is vague and cannot adequately be drawn. Thus, it is useless information as you try to draw out the “suspense” of the huge narwhal. Get to it already.). Its headlights push back against the overwhelming darkness of the deep sea (This isn’t prose. This is comics.). The NEV is tiny in the vast emptiness of the ocean (The first useful piece of drawable information.). The ocean floor below is a strange and barren moonscape seascape. (Moonscape, seascape… It’s all the same, right? It’s P2, and really, I just want to EScape…) Except a weird and alien underwater jungle has grown up around a derelict submarine partially buried in the sea floor. The vegetation is laced with an eerie bioluminescence.  (See submarine ref. photos.) (Here’s something I want you to consider: You describe an “overwhelming darkness of the deep sea”, but then describe a bioluminescence to the plants. Wouldn’t this create a light source that cancels out your description of overwhelming darkness?)(Shhh! It’s a moonscape on the earth, under the water. Fie on you and your logic!)

8 (1). Lang Caption: … AMAZING. (Even with the proposed double dash in the connecting text from Page One, I’d still keep the ellipsis here. It’s a matter of sound to the ear, where I hear a cut off speech in the previous text and a trailing in of dialogue here. This is also captioned character dialogue and as such, should have quotation marks around it.)

9 (2). Caption: THE PACIFIC OCEAN.

10 (3). Caption: 1,200 MILES OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN.

I’m concerned that you have seemingly continued the numbering sequence of your panels and lettered text into the double-page spread. We’ll see if that’s actually what you’ve done as I continue with my edits.

Does this warrant a double-page splash (which I suggest go one step further into a full bleed)? That’s debatable, as I think you could have done a successful representation with just one page, especially by playing around with camera angle. For example, placing the camera behind the NEV would allow the setting to be showcased in the expanse of the background with the NEV being tiny in the center of the image. This also seems like very little text for a two-page spread. In my mind, and unless your lettering is substantially larger than normal, this is going to get lost unless placed in keys spots over your image, and even then, the image will be overwhelming and potentially lose your text.

We have a double-page spread, which I’m going to call padding right here, right now.

The reason why I say that? Nothing said or intimated on P1 warrants it, and unless the artist is extremely strong—say, Barry Windsor-Smith at the height of his powers—then this is totally useless as a DPS. I don’t think it warrants even a page by itself. Maybe a splash, sure, but I’d also have an inset in there. And more dialogue. It needs more dialogue to have greater impact, especially since the first page doesn’t have a lot of dialogue to begin with.

Readers may come for the art, but they stay for the story. How much story have they gotten so far? Just read the dialogue by itself, divested of the context of pictures that aren’t telling a story (because they aren’t—not one that has great impact on the dialogue, at least) and you’ll see just how much story has been imparted.

Very little.

What’s happened in this DPS doesn’t move me. It doesn’t do anything for me. It doesn’t have anything dramatic going on, it doesn’t move the story forward, it isn’t a big reveal. It’s a waste of space.

Page and panel numbering…

Unless something happens where you totally screw up, Michael, you’ll be getting a Flawless Victory for format on a technicality. Technically, your format is correct. What you’re doing with your format isn’t.

There are extremely few times when you’re going to need to know the exact number of panels in a project. My mentor, Lee Nordling, wrote a book (that I believe won an award) where he had to continuously number the panels in the book for the artist. This was a children’s book, not a comic, and the number of panels was necessary to keep certain things straight.

What are you keeping straight here that you need to continue the panel numbering from the previous page?

How did I get from misnumbering to continued numbering? Because you also continued to number the dialogue.

Convention has us writing the page number and then numbering the panels on the page, and maybe numbering the balloons in a panel. Another convention has us writing a continuous numbering of the balloons on a page, but then we start over when we go to the next page. Both of those conventions are for the benefit of the letterer. What benefit does anything you’re doing with your format have for anyone you’re working with? I’m honestly curious. And if it’s something your artist asked for, I’d be curious as to why. (It’s telling that I’m more curious as to the whys and wherefores of your formatting than I am of your story, isn’t it?)


Panel 7 (1): (PANEL 7?!? Houston, we have a problem.) Back inside the NEV. Feel free to try out some different angles to keep this talking head bit visually fresh. Williams is reading the scan data at his station.

11. (1.) Williams: IT’S A GATO CLASS. ACTUALLY LOOKS TO BE IN DECENT SHAPE. (Here’s where I have one big problem: Your previous dialogue of “BUT IT’S AMAZING” gives me the idea that the bioluminescence is what was amazing and the focal point of the reaction. However, here you are isolating the submarine, meaning that this should have been what was talked about in previous panels for clarity purposes. Saying something like “WHAT THE HELL? IS THAT A SUBMARINE??” would have helped focus the readers attention on what you really wanted them to notice.)

It’s official. This is a no-no in a big way. Each new page needs to start at Panel 1 with text to be lettered likewise presented. I won’t be correcting the following numbering as I started doing because it ultimately distracted from the editing notes with another hint of blue per line. (I disagree with the “needs” part. There could be reasons. They just more than likely wouldn’t be good ones. A good reason would call for a different kind of formatting. Say this was a digital comic and each panel was a screen. There then wouldn’t be a reason to have page numbers, so your format would be different. You’d just have a continuous count of the panels. So there could be reasons, but like I said, they more than likely wouldn’t be good ones.)

Panel 8: Paulsen looks down at Vasquez with a curious expression. Vasquez nods in the affirmative. (A nod is hard to express in a static medium. If it isn’t fast enough to use speed lines to help indicate the movement, then it can’t be done effectively.)(Which makes this a moving panel and thus, undrawable.)


13. Paulsen: LET’S SEE WHAT HITS.

14. Vasquez: YES (Missing comma) SIR.

Panel 9: Paulsen has turned to speak with Lang and Caldwell. Caldwell views data streaming on a monitor.


16. Caldwell: HONESTLY? NO CLUE. (Then it’s time to close the book and move on to something more interesting.)

Panel 10: Two shot of Paulsen and Lang. She looks reluctant, almost at a loss for words. (Ryan? This is yours, mein freund. If the “almost” doesn’t come through, I won’t consider it a failure on your part. It would definitely be a failure on the writer’s part for not knowing the medium they’re writing in.)

17. Paulsen: AND YOU (Missing comma) DR. LANG? (Why, Lord and Lady, WHY don’t writers know how to use commas anymore? GO BACK TO GRAMMAR SCHOOL!) (Yes, yes I do feel better now… Why do you ask?)

18. Lang: I… I’VE NEVER SEEN PLANT LIFE LIKE THIS BEFORE. (The use of the ellipsis after the first ‘I’ doesn’t make sense to me. Is she stuttering? If so, it should be a single dash between it and “I’ve”. Another comment pertains to the submarine vs. plant life focus I mentioned before. It’s now obvious that Lang, being the one to make the “BUT IT’S AMAZING” comment, was referring to the plants, but that’s where the mention of the sub in Panel 7 (1) becomes even more confusing.)

Panel 11: A medium shot of the sub entangled in the glowing alien vegetation.

19. Lang Caption: “I MEAN… I DON’T THINK ANYBODY HAS EVER SEEN PLANTS LIKE THIS BEFORE.” (See this caption? Greg, what question should be asked about the format of this dialogue and the panel it’s in?)

Panel 12: Paulsen looks at Lang. He doesn’t share her sense of wonder. (Does this last sentence describe Paulsen’s reaction or expression? Answer: No, it doesn’t, and as such doesn’t serve the needs of the artist. Be more direct in your direction.) Caldwell continues to study the data streaming in. His eyebrows are raised in shock.


21. Caldwell: HOLY SHIT. IT’S STILL… PRESSURIZED. (You say that Caldwell’s eyebrows are raised in shock, and yet you have his dialogue without an exclamation mark after „HOLY SHIT“ and use ellipsis [again, without an exclamation mark] when saying „IT’S STILL PRESSURIZED“. Make what he says match what he does.)

I think this could have done as a Page Three. It would have helped explain Page Two better as a facing page, in my opinion. (No one cares about your opinion!) (Yes they do! They come here for him as much as for you, you big stupid jerk!) (I’m not a stupid jerk! I’m a tremendous jerk, not a stupid one!) (What’s sad is that I’ve not only taken to talking to myself, I’ve taken to poking a little fun at my cohort because this script isn’t keeping my attention.)

So here you have clarified for the reader the two different foci the two characters are each concentrating their attention on. What would help the reader to concentrate on the sub would be to have it large enough in the image and not have it completely covered by plant life. In this way you are creating primary and secondary (but not incidental) props/set pieces. Put the attention on where you want the reader to go.

The bonus is I’m not disinterested. You seem to have a good story going. Let’s see what the next pages have to tell us.

P4, and I’m going to disagree with Steve when it comes to the story being “good.”

We have some information, but none of it is impactful as yet. Nothing has happened, and because nothing has happened, it’s hard for me to care about anything.

Know what horror movie I love and hate because it takes so long for anything to happen?

The Exorcist.

Here’s what happens: A old man is in the desert, digging at shit. He finds a relic, but we have no context as to what it is. Some dogs are fighting in the distance. The man goes to the village, and he almost seems to be having a heart attack. The heat is oppressive, so it could also be heat stroke. We finally figure out he’s a priest. Scene switch: Actress single-parent of a young-teen/pre-teen girl leads an idyllic life as she works at her craft and does the parenting thing with her daughter. Scene switch (I think—it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film): A priest is holding Mass, but he doesn’t look happy about it at all. He visits his old Italian mother (who understands English but doesn’t speak much of it), who’s living by herself in an apartment.

That’s the start of the film. It’s about 30 min or so before anything even remotely interesting happens. It’s laying the groundwork for what comes later. Some would call it a slow burn. But you know what? It’s a seminal work. Why? Because even though it has a slow burn and buildup, it’s truly scary with a very nice payoff. And except for the fashion sense for the costumes and hair, it has aged very well. It’s still scary today. Keep the same script, have talented actors (this movie made Linda Blair’s career, which is good for her because she can’t act), and recreate it shot for shot today and it would still be scary.

This isn’t holding my interest. What am I supposed to be interested in? The vegetation or the sub?

Bioluminescent plantlife isn’t anything new. New species of everything are being found and cataloged with regularity, and we expect to find “strange” things in the deep ocean. So that’s not really anything new or strange.

Submarines? A little different. We don’t expect to find them abandoned at the bottom of the ocean, so there’s that. We don’t expect to find them pressurized while abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. But you know what? We also don’t know how long it’s been down there, either. Without any context, it’s hard to be surprised or have a sense of wonder about what’s going on.

This is what I’m talking about when I’m discussing being interesting. We don’t need the reason why it’s there—that will come out later. An interesting tidbit would be how long it’s been there. Another would be why the NEV is there in the first place (what’s its mission?), and if they found what they were looking for. Another tidbit would be what signal was being talked about before, and if it’s actually originating from the sub. All of that could have sparked interest in this piece. You don’t even try to be cryptic. The information just isn’t there.

Let’s see what the next page brings. Where’s my pillow? I should at least get comfortable.


Panel 13: Paulsen leans down over Caldwell’s shoulder to see his monitor. He has a look of doubt on his face. (Know what I want to see? The monitor. It’s been talked about, but it hasn’t been shown. You know why I say it hasn’t been shown? Because we can see faces, and I doubt we can see both faces and the monitor at the same time.)


23. Vasquez (OFF): LT. PAULSEN…

Panel 14: Vasquez has data on the sub pulled up on a monitor. Paulsen is quickly scanning for what he thinks might be relevant. (Is this a front shot, where we can see Paulsen’s eyes focused on what he sees?) (See what I mean? Two things described, one thing can actually be drawn. Where’s the camera?)

24. Vasquez: THE REPORT IS BACK FROM SURFACE COMMAND. (Though I can appreciate the pause created in the last panel with „LT. PAULSEN…“, I think this would have been better served in the previous panel to allow Paulsen’s upcoming reading of the data to be focused on.) (Honestly, I think all the imagination in the world was used up, which is why the command on the surface is called Surface Command. Really, I just want the boring to stop. I’m quite sure my girlfriend would like my help in finishing up the floor. At least I won’t be bored in doing that.)

25. Paulsen: THE USS SHORTFIN IS OUR MOST LIKELY MATCH. CREW OF EIGHTY-FOUR. SANK THREE JAPANESE SHIPS. (Comma instead of a period) TWO CARRIERS AND A DESTROYER. (It might be a good idea to include the fact that this was during WWII in this speech.)(Because, you know, context of time…)

There’s no apparent reason for the italicization of ‘Shortfin’. Can you give me a reason? (Yes. It’s a convention of titling.)


Panel 15: A shot of Paulsen standing behind Williams and Vasquez, but from behind. So we see their backs, the control panels, and out the glass to the sub on the ocean floor.

27. Williams: THE PRESSURE READINGS ARE RIGHT. (I suggest using the term ‘correct’ instead of ‘right’.) NO BREACH DETECTED. AND THE SHORTFIN’S (Same thing with the italics here.) TEMPERATURE IS WELL ABOVE AMBIENT LEVELS.


Panel 16: Close shot of Lang and Paulsen standing side by side. Paulsen continues to look on in disbelief. Lang is bemused.


30. Lang: WHAT THE… (Double dash instead of ellipsis)

Where was Lang in previous panels on this page? She disappeared and is back just in time for the page turn…

P5, and we finally are starting to get some information. Some, not all. What’s left out? The interesting bits.

It’s like you’re purposely cutting out anything that could be of any use to the reader so that they turn away and look for something else to spend their money and time on.

Congratulations! You’ve succeeded. There’s no reason to set the Line of Demarcation. This isn’t crap. It’s just boring. (And boring is death, just so you know.) Readers will put the book back on the shelf and pick up something more worthwhile. Something like Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose. Why? Because Jim Balent.

Readers are apt to put the book down by P3. What’s your P3? A useless thing of padding.

And I’ll say this: for a mini-sub, there are a lot of people on it, with lots of space to move around. I count five people, and space to “stroll.” I want to know what’s “mini” about the submarine they’re on.

Actually, I just want to get to the end of this. Aside from doing the floor, we also want to look at cars, and there is some other shopping I want to do.


for which she is the main character.

This is a flashback section. It should be drawn / colored in a way that distinguishes it from the rest of our story. (I like this note.)

Panel 17: Lang is in a science lab. She is wearing a traditional white lab coat. She is alone. All the lights are out except at her workstation. She was looking into a microscope when her phone vibrated and startled her. The phone is beside her on the workstation. (This tells me absolutely nothing about a real setting or her current actions.)

31. Lang: (Double dash instead of ellipsis) HELL? (Because people always cut out “what the” when they’re startled.)

32. SFX bzzz bzzz

Panel 18: Close up on the phone. The screen shows that ❤JAMES❤ is calling. #555-383-6319. The profile pic for the contact is a selfie of James and Lang close together, smiling.

NO COPY (Why ‘No copy’? Should she be making some sort of annoyed sound or say something that shows she is annoyed? Make use of this opportunity to express her frame of mind.)

Panel 19: She sits with her elbows on the desk. One hand holds the phone to her ear. (When did she pick it up?) (Gutter Time. I can live with that.) She rests her forehead in the other hand. The classic “ugh” pose. (I think the ‘classic ugh pose’ would have a bit of facial expression to help establish mode. Rolling of the eyes might also help.)

33. Lang: Hey. Yeah, yeah (Missing comma) I know. (There are a few different ways of writing this, such as “Hey” in one balloon, then “Yeah yeah, I know” or more pauses and impatience with “Hey”, then “Yeah” in another balloon, and then “Yeah… I know” in a third. Each one shows a different reaction based on pacing of the speech. What are you trying to go for? Another point is, due to the use of ‘But’ as the beginning of your next line of dialogue, you could end ‘I know’ with an ellipsis which continues at the start of the next line.)

34. Lang: (Ellipsis to continue the line of dialogue?) But I’m right in the middle of something.

35. Lang: I’ll be home in an hour. (Separate balloon to show breaks in pacing of her reactions as she speaks.) Yeah.

Panel 20: Another angle on Lang. We can see a clock on the wall behind her. It shows the time is 10:45.

36. Lang: Yeah (Missing comma) me too. (Separate balloon) Bye.

Why did none of this dialogue appear in CAPS like the rest of your spoken text throughout your script? (Good question, but still not enough to warrant losing the Flawless Victory.)

Panel 21: She puts the phone back down on the table. (Can we see any expression? Is it just her hand? Elaborate.)

NO COPY (Why ‘No copy’? This is a waste if there’s no facial expression or body language to tell the story.)

Panel 22: She leans in to look into the microscope.

NO COPY (Again, this doesn’t tell us anything or advance the story.)

This page did absolutely nothing for the story, in my opinion.


I got nothing.

It’s a race to the finish!


This is a flashback section. It should be drawn / colored in a way that distinguishes it from the rest of our story.

Panel 23: Same exact shot as the previous page / 4TH panel, but the clock on the wall now reads 12:30. (Now that’s just damned terrible. And I say “damned” because I’m trying to be generally child-friendly. What I’m thinking in my head, though, is “fucking.” Just replace it as you would. Anyway, why is it damned terrible? Because it isn’t the 4th panel on the previous page. It’s panel 20. It would have been the 4th panel if you had numbered it more conventionally. Or, if you had bothered to do your job and go back and actually look to see what panel number it was, you could have just put in the panel number like I did. Instead, you opted to make more work for the artist. Congratulations. I hope you pay well, because they probably won’t be back for the second issue. They’ll have to wash their hair or go to the dentist or something.)


Panel 24: Her phone vibrates again. She looks pissed. (Action and reaction in the same panel. Not good. The buzzing should have at least been in the previous panel.)

37. Lang: GODDAMNIT.

38. SFX: bzzz bzzz

Panel 25: She has the phone in her hand. We can see it’s James again. She taps the button to silence the call. (Here is where your pacing is off. I can let the Gutter Time of her picking up the phone slide. It doesn’t really need to be seen. But she (and we) already know it’s James. Why couldn’t we have had two panels: one showing James calling again, and the second with her silencing the call? No need to pick anything up, no need to move the camera, two small panels. Pacing.)


Panel 26: She’s back looking into the microscope.


I’m going to stop here. Seven pages is further than I’ve gone in any script since I’ve been back editing for TPG, and this honestly seems like the perfect place to stop, with two pages of nothing.

To your credit, Michael, your dialogue sounds natural.

With regards to your pacing, it feels like you’re trying to fill your page quota (22 page story) by filling it with needless material, such as these last two pages of Lang and her refusal to answer her phone. I’m sure, in the long run, it serves a purpose, but two pages of it was way too much. This and the double-page spread for Pages Two and Three made this a matter of dragging out a potentially interesting story to fill a page count which would end on a hopeful hook (which I did read ahead to see).

I’ve already mentioned the continuous numbering of panels and lettering text, but want to focus on your need to read up more on formatting your script. There are samples online which you can reference and close to a dozen different reference books on the topic of writing comic scripts that will guide you and lead you away from this type of mistake.

What say you, Mr. Forbes?


(Bolts & Nuts is what I say…)

Oh! Steve has stopped, I have things to do, let’s run away by running this down!

Format: Flawless Victory. Again, it’s a technicality. You didn’t put the dialogue before the panel descriptions or anything egregious, so I’m willing to let it slide. But the numbering has got to change, depending on the reason why you did it this way. And yes, I want to know that reason.

Panel Descriptions: These need work. They’re light. Half the time I’m in a white void, and the other half we’re looking at things and I’m wondering where the camera is. It isn’t good.

A couple of instances where moving panels can be argued, but I’m not in the mood. I have stuff to do. Like eat. Eating is good.

Pacing: The pacing is terrible. It’s the most terrible thing with this piece.

From large to small, pacing is how many scenes are in a book, how many pages are in a scene, how many panels are on a page, and how many words are in a panel/page/scene.

Pacing also has to do with what happens in each panel/page/scene.

Most of the time, I don’t have to explicitly state that pacing has to do with what happens. That is (I hope) generally understood. I have to state it here, though, because you took out the interest whenever you could.

The characters don’t have any actions. They don’t do anything because there’s nothing to do. They also don’t learn much, because the interesting things have been redacted (presumably by Surface Command—sorry. I couldn’t help myself.).

If you had given us things of interest to read, then the pacing would have been better. Instead, you killed it by not being interesting. No one reads to be bored. (Well, some people read boring things in order to sleep, but that shouldn’t be why comics are read.)

You could easily pick up the pace just by being interesting. It isn’t that hard to do.

Dialogue: I don’t dislike it. It needs some work. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I like it, and I’m not saying I don’t. I’ve read much, much better, and I’ve also read extremely worse. It needs work. This is generally where an editor would be of help to you. If someone could get you to stop stripping out the interesting parts, that would be a win.

Content: Boring. You could call this The Somnambulist, and it would be truth in advertising. I don’t want to be bored as a reader. I want to be entertained. This doesn’t do the job.

Editorially, there needs to be a conversation as to what you want to do before more work gets done on this. Renumbering and beefing up the panel descriptions and dialogue may be easier than a total rewrite—but that would heavily depend on the plot and the pacing. The conversation between you and the editor should give direction as to what happens next, and then you both work together towards that goal.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG Week 275: More Notes Than Script Sat, 02 Apr 2016 00:41:29 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds. This week, we have a new Brave One in the form of Josh Fay. We also have Steve Colle (who’s decided to stick around for a while) in blue, we have Ryan Kroboth with the heavy duty pencils, and I’m the one in red, wondering why the world hasn’t ended yet… We’re all going to see what happens when Josh gets

Lost in the Library of Wyndharp

Page 1:

Panel 1: Shot of Wynharp glistening in the sun. Beautiful gardens and fruiting trees dotting the horizon surrounded by a forest near a mountain. Crystal towers and Earthy/Organic style architecture. (Pretty lazy way to start out. I’m hoping that you have a document somewhere that gives a description of the city. This document should also have the character descriptions. That’s what I’m hoping. Otherwise, this is especially lazy, and laziness in a writer is truly something that I cannot abide.)

Title Text Across the sky: Lost In the Library of Wyndharp (A couple of questions: 1) Which spelling is correct for the name of your city, Wynharp or Wyndharp, as you wrote the former in your panel description, and 2) When you write “title text across the sky”, does this mean you want it as clouds spelling this out or just that the title is placed in that area of the image?)(Both of these are extremely good questions. If you can’t settle on the spelling of your own creation, how are others supposed to? Is it Mxyztplk or Mxyzptlk? It’s P1, panel 1. Someone is supposed to care. I just don’t know if that someone is supposed to be me…)

Panel 2: SEFERIN (You’re assuming your artist will know who Seferin is, but seeing as how I didn’t see a character sheet attached to the script file, I’ll have to assume you don’t have one. With this said, is Seferin male or female? What age? How is he/she dressed? You’ve provided no information to help us visualize your character.) outside in a garden or park making a portal alone. It’s spring time, with flowers/colors. The portal is a small purple sphere with purple lightning energy surrounding it. SEFERIN’s hands are close to the sphere. (This needs to be rewritten in a way that is immediately clear. You said that he/she is making a portal alone, but don’t tell us until later what a portal is. Then you describe springtime “with flowers/colors”. I’m sorry, but what exactly does this mean? Yes, there are flowers in spring, but what kinds? What colors and what do they apply to? Your being vague is going to cause your artist to either ask too many questions they shouldn’t need to or you’ll end up getting something as a final product that doesn’t fulfill your vision. Whose fault will that be?)(Greg, what is it that these two panels make up (if they were written better)? After you answer that, please rewrite this panel description so it makes better sense, and explain why you made the decisions you made.)

Panel 3: SEFERIN in similar but different clothes (??) is in a council chamber with ELORIN, RADMAAR and NOVASLY behind a table. (More characters without description and no clear guidance on what your setting looks like. Not good.) He is still making a portal but his hands are farther apart and the portal is larger and more elliptical. (So now I know that Seferin is male. You had better be providing a character sheet to your artist – and to your editor even before it goes to the artist – because names alone with no reference will result in this getting sent back real quick.) (Ryan? Time to put on the Assumption Hat and try to make heads or tails of this with thine pencil, please. Thank yew, sirrah.)

Panel 4: SEFERIN is on a stage silhouetted in a mostly, if not completely, full purple portal. Hands are main focus and are fully apart. (I’m having trouble visualizing this. What stage? What does it look like? Are there people around? How are they dressed, in general? When you say he’s silhouetted, does this mean the only thing we see is his outline? Is the portal in front of him or behind him? Is it backlighting that is creating the silhouette? If his hands are the focus, then how can we concentrate on them visually if it isn’t a medium shot or close up? We’ll be seeing the whole and not the part, so how do we figure out what it is that is actually the focus? See what I’m getting at?)(Steve took all the fun out of this for you, Rin. He asked all the questions I was going to have you ask. We’ll see how much meat is left on the bones.)

Panel 5: Wide shot of stage with ELORIN and SEFERIN holding hands raised in the air. (Are they lovers? Family? I ask because you haven’t described the situation or context or even who the characters are in the story for me to know what is happening.) SEFERIN is wearing a medal. (Okay… why…?) Next to them is a board with a big picture of a stickman/sketch vitruvian posture man standing on a large mostly off frame circle. The man is in his own circle that intersects the big bottom circle. And above the man the circle intersects with another not-as-large-as-the-bottom circle that has 5 smaller circles inside of it with one right at the point of the man’s head. I hope this emoji helps. }[>–|o(o]8 The } is the big bottom circle. The [ ] are the circle around the man. The ( is the upper large circle. o is both the head and the circle of possible spatial location and 8 is those same shapes but not as close to the threshold. (I put a drawing at the end.) (You have officially lost me.)(There was a drawing at the end of this crap. However, here is my challenge to all artistic types: see if you can draw this just from the description. Please post whatever it is you come up with.)

ELORIN: For his work in portal theory and innovative teaching techniques, I am honored to award Seferin Silentveil with our highest honor. (Huh? This dialogue comes out of nowhere and has no build up to introduce or support it.)(And with this, we’re spared a silent opening page. It isn’t good dialogue, but it’s something that gives a glimpse into the world and what’s going on.)

I want you to really look at what you’ve written in this script. I’ll tell you that it is NOT pretty from this side of the computer screen/editor’s desk.

For a first page, you have given us nothing but confusion, Josh. I have no idea what is happening, why it’s happening, who the characters are, what this place looks like – nothing that will help me see in my head what it is you’re seeing in yours.

Then there’s a major problem with pacing. You have five panels and all you’ve done is jump from one situation to another. What makes it worse is my next point: there’s no dialogue to explain any of it until the last panel, and even that is confusing without context. So what you’ve done is create a page that has a title at the top and a blurb of dialogue at the bottom, with nothing in between.

It’s not often I want to stop so quickly, but this is one of those cases.

So we have P1 down, and I’m pretty tempted to set the Line of Demarcation and just call it crap and be done with it.

However, I’m trying to cultivate patience. (I’ll soon be cultivating crops… The house that we bought? She wants to tear up all the grass and plant herbs and vegetables. I’m going to reserve a little plot of land just for myself. That’s where I’ll cultivate patience.)

What do we have here?

Not a whole hell of a lot.

I’m willing to give a pass on some of the lack of a setting. Some. Not all. There’s some leeway given at the beginning where there could be information given to the artist in the form of another document where things are described. There could be. I doubt that there is, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say there could be. (The benefit of the doubt is a great thing, no?) However, that only goes so far. When we get into specific places and rooms, there’s no excuse not to have a description of the room.

The lack of dialogue doesn’t help at all.

I’ve already described how art illustrates and dialogue illuminates. Pictures are pretty, but words give context. There’s no context given here. Who’s the guy, and why is he fondling orbs? The answer is “dunno” to both of those questions. The next question is “Do I care enough to turn the page?” The answer to that is an emphatic “No.”

Why don’t I care? Because nothing has been established. I don’t know who this person is, what they’re doing, or why they’re doing it. If I don’t care about any of that, why should I care as to whether or not they get an award for orb-fondling? What does an orb-fondling award have to do with anything within the context of the story? Dunno. Why don’t I know?

Because the story hasn’t started yet.

This, my friends, is a terrible, terrible, terrible opening page. It would be better served if there were just two words that said “OPENING PAGE” and then we go on to P2. Because that’s as much information we have/how much was actually accomplished on this page.

As an opening page, this is terrible because nothing happens. Nothing that a reader would care about. This entire page could be cut, and no one would be any the wiser. We’re going to have a discussion about pacing when we run this down, but just suffice it to say that this isn’t well paced.

And that extremely over-complicated description of the symbol? Don’t do that again. Ever. Draw it first, and then give that drawing to the artist, letting them know what it is you’re trying to achieve. Let them embellish from there. Trying to describe that in words will get you nothing but a “draw this for me” response. Why go through the hassle of writing it out when you could just draw it?

Roger Zelazny never drew the Pattern of Amber. He described it at various times, but he never drew it, and he never got overly specific about it, either. He described it as angular in places, with tight switchbacks; other times/places it has a series of arcs and curves. It’s rarely described the same way twice. Why? Because it was written for a novel, and it was meant to look however the reader wanted it to look in their imagination.

Scripting is vastly different. For comic scripts, things are supposed to be drawn. Sometimes, when things are overly complicated, it’s better to find photo-reference or just draw the thing yourself and tell the artist to reference the picture. Don’t try to make someone’s head explode with an overly complicated description. You won’t be thanked for it.

Let’s see what happens on P2.

Page 2

Panel 1: A post award ceremony party scene. (You need to explain this a lot better. What exactly does a party scene look like for these people and/or their culture? Is it a few people or is it many? Where is it taking place?) SEFERIN is wearing his medal surrounded by several important wizards including ELORIN and RADMAAR. (Are they dressed in such a way that they are easily identifiable as ‘wizards’?) The high wizards are praising with hand on SEFERIN’s shoulder and one compares him to one of the founding wizards of wyndharp. (This sentence, save for the mention of “hand” [single or plural as you said “wizards”?] on Seferin’s shoulder, has no place in a panel description.) SEFERIN is on the right side of frame and looking curious and possibly offended that there could be someone better with portals than him. (I can understand and visualize a curious look, but “possibly offended”? And the balance of that description has no place here either.)

RADMAAR: I imagine your mastery of portals rivals even the great Draygoth.

PARTYGOER: You’re a prodigy! Hoorah! (I really dislike the use of the general term ‘partygoer’. It shows many things: 1) You didn’t want to go the extra mile with a name because he/she is an incidental character, which I find lazy; 2) you haven’t put a number such as Partygoer #1 or Partygoer #2 next to the designation because they will be the only anonymous person in the scene, which is lazy; and 3) you didn’t want to put the work in, which is lazy. Do I appear annoyed? You could assume that… and you’d be right.)(Not to mention the fact that this is bad dialogue. Hoorah! Speaking of this dialogue… Where is this person placed? I’ve re-read the panel description, and this person is nowhere to be found. Why is this important, Anh?)

Panel 2: ELORIN and SEFERIN are in the Library (What does the library look like in your setting of “crystal towers and Earthy/Organic style architecture”?) near a wall with bookcases and the corner of a painting of a man in dark robes. (You describe “a man in dark robes”, but aren’t taking the time to describe further. Do you want to know what you’re going to get in your artist’s rendering? A dark robe shaped in a man’s build. No face. No ornate designs. Nothing more than the dark robe shaped like a man. Will you be satisfied with the end result?) SEFERIN is leaning in inquisitively and ELORIN is jovially and animatedly storytelling. SEFERIN asks about Draygoth (This isn’t visual direction. Get rid of it.)(He’s talking about the last sentence.)

SEFERIN: Elorin, who was that wizard that Radmaar compared me to after my award ceremony?(Why doesn’t he know this? Don’t people study anymore? Don’t people know their history? Sadly, no. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have taken so long for people to make the comparison of Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler. Those who don’t study the past are doomed to repeat it. America could be doomed… But I digress. And yes, my digression is more entertaining than this piece of crap. There, I’ve said it. Line of Demarcation. I feel better now.)

ELORIN: He was a genius with portals and used his great power to explore the horizons of the world. A very high esteem was given with that compliment, my young Seferin. (So, now I discover that Seferin is young… or is he? This is, after all, one person talking to another and not a physical description. Could he be young in experience? Young at heart? Younger than the speaker by only a few months or days? And why do I feel my rant is more thought provoking than your story? Hmmm…)

Panel 3: Different shot of the two with ELORIN more serious, maybe hands on beard. (You’d better have character sheets, because otherwise, we are just finding out now that Elorin has a beard.) The two are framing the bottom of the picture now. Draygoth is wearing dark purple/black pants and robes and holding a leather bound book with a purple septagem, (a 7 sided jewel,) hinted at and barely in frame. (Here we go again: This description would have been more appropriate to be in the last panel description where the picture is first seen. But I notice that you have described more clearly what he is wearing in the picture, what he’s holding, and even given a rough idea of what is visible in the picture, but what you haven’t described is what Draygoth looks like. Young or old? Is he Caucasian, Asian, etc.? Does he have hair and, if so, what colour and in what style is it kept? You’ve established this isn’t going to be in a character sheet by starting to describe him here, so finish the job!)(Yes, those items described are magically delicious, seeing as how they just appeared. Since we’re dealing with wizards, this may not be a bad thing, but that isn’t the point. Are we near the end of this thing? I’d have a better time painting my office than going over this script.)

ELORIN: The old wizard built the library as a place to store all the knowledge he found in his worldly travels. The legends say he built more than what we have now, but certain sections were lost somehow. God only knows. (I like this expression. “God only knows”. I think I’ll take it as my own, because God only knows why I’m putting the effort in to edit a script from a writer who has obviously not put the effort in himself. My annoyance is coming through and for that I apologize, but seriously, I can feel my blood pressure rise as I’m writing my comments. Should any editor have to go through this, especially as a free service?)(It’s penance. For all of us. This isn’t terrible exposition per se, but it’s telling the listener something they should already know. If they don’t know it, why don’t they know it? What are the rules for your world? None of that has come through yet. Just a bit of an uninteresting history lesson. How does history become interesting? Through context. Where’s the context?)

Panel 4: SEFERIN is in the library near that same wall in front of a desk with books and scrolls laid out and stacked he looks very intent and focused. (Where was the desk before? Was the shot so close before that we couldn’t see it? If so, then why wasn’t the picture description in the first panel it appeared in as, obviously, it would have been close enough?) The full portrait of Draygoth is behind SEFERIN. It shows a gray bearded elf man. (Now we learn Draygoth was a gray bearded elf man! Why do we have to explore your entire script to get to details that appear in earlier panels??) He has a leather book in his hands that is embedded with a purple septagem. Maybe a sketch of a similar/younger looking elf wizard on one of the pages/scrolls. 2nd possible sketch could be a library looking building or maybe a hobbit style library. (I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be apologizing for my building anger at this script, but most likely due to my being Canadian and it being what we seem to do best, I’m trying to bite my proverbial tongue on the written page, but it’s getting harder and harder the further I get. What’s worse is I haven’t even reached the end of Page Two yet. ARRRRRRGH!!!)(What Steve means to say is that this is impossible to draw. Felix? It’s been a dog’s age. You’re up: why am I saying this?)

Panel 5: This panel is a septagon merged with the surrounding panels: (Huh?!) Similar library shot as before, but more focus on SEFERIN and the desk. SEFERIN is haggard looking and his hair is messier. He has been there for days enthralled in his reading. There are now more books, in addition to that there are crystals, amulets, a beholder flower, (if you put a stem onto the back of a beholder and the eyes swirled together like a flower,) and a purple squiggle dagger. (I’d ask why this scene switch occurred on this page, but given that’s what you’ve been doing throughout, I won’t bother.) (I wouldn’t call this a scene switch, seeing as how we’re still in the library (I believe), but the focus has changed without any real reason as to why.)

SEFERIN: If the plane of existence is perpendicular…

SEFERIN: The portal needs to rotate! (P2. There is no story. This has no basis in anything. Go up to someone, anyone, and ask them about the nature of rose petals in snow, and how that affects riding horses bareback. Same thing here.)

Panel 6: Wide shot of a clearing in a forest. SEFERIN is at the bottom of the frame with his back to us. Standing in front of a decently large sized septagram inscribed in a circle. SEFERIN is laughing maniacally with a bloody knife in his left hand and a bloody hand on his right. The circle is made of blood and is being blocked from vision by a portal opening up on the floor in its place. The portal is blood red with bubbles, and purple lightning is sparking across it and/or around the edges. (Describe the setting first, then populate it. It’s much easier on the brain than going back and forth like this.)

SEPTIMUS: With this sacrifice (Missing comma) I realign my reality! With this shift (Missing comma) I will become the most powerful wizard in all of Exillion! (More bad dialogue.)

I’m done. I’ve had it. My blood, sweat, and tears went into editing two freaking pages and I’m done.

I can’t remember the last time a story made me this angry. I take that back: it wasn’t the story. It was the writer. Josh, I can’t express how much energy went into my edits of only two pages of your script. All I can say is you had better get better at writing because I don’t want to do this again.

The pacing of your story reminds me of hopscotch, jumping from one square to another, one panel to another, one scene to another with hopeless abandon, never staying in a scene long enough but to pick up the rock that was thrown. Your lack of spending time on your scenes was a major detriment because it didn’t provide enough time to understand what was going on. Hampering this even further was your almost complete lack of dialogue, with the dialogue that was present not providing enough to carry what the visuals were lacking.

And speaking of visuals, this is what got me the angriest. Lack of information, misplaced direction, and using the panel descriptions in a manner that didn’t serve the artist to fulfill their role as your collaborator made this a massive fail. I think flying blind in heavy fog would have been easier than trying to decipher what you wanted.

In my opinion, this needs a complete rewrite and a re-approach to pacing out your story. Spend the time. Lord knows I did.

And since Steve has stopped, so I can. I can run this down, then we can all run away. I have dishes that beckon, as well as an office to paint.

Format: Flawless Victory!

Now, to be fair, Josh had some help from yours truly. The format of this was much, much worse. The panels weren’t numbered well. They were numbered according to their placement in either the Top, Middle, or Bottom row/tier, and then labeled Left, Middle, Right. There were specific notes as to where to place the copy. There were also shortcuts for the names: the names were said once, and then the first initial of the name was put into parenthesis from then on. A lot of word processing programs would turn an R that was put into parenthesis into the registered trademark symbol of an R in a circle. Yeah, no fun. This is much easier to read. You’re all welcome. (And really, I only did it so I wouldn’t have an aneurysm while going through this.)

No, I said nothing about page breaks. Those were put in all by his lonesome.

Panel Descriptions: These are crap.

Setting, then population. For the setting, you have to answer Where and When (both time of day and what season it is if it’s special to the story). For population, Who’s there and What they’re doing. You very rarely have to answer Why anyone is doing anything. That will come across either in actions or dialogue.

Describe things from left to right. This is how we read things. Left to right. Don’t zig zag.

Don’t be overly-complicated in your descriptions, and don’t give acting directions. Characters perform actions. Those actions have to be drawn. Writing intentions generally means you either haven’t described something well, or that you are writing more than you need to. In this case, I’d pick one from both columns.

Pacing: Crap. There’s no reason given as to why anything is happening.

From the largest piece of pacing to the smallest, pacing has to do with the number of scenes in a comic, the number of pages in a scene, the number of panels on a page, and the amount of dialogue per panel/page/scene.

Understand this. Study it. This is something you need to know intimately.

(Actually, read the first twelve or so Bolts & Nuts articles. Those will teach you the bulk of what you need to know for the rudiments of scriptwriting.)

Another part of Pacing is dialogue, in the aspect of what is being said and when. What I mean by “what” isn’t the specifics of what’s being said, but the overall sense. Does the dialogue move the reader through the book? If so, is it fast or slow? Also, is it interesting? If it is, when does that interest hit: at the top, middle, or end of a page? Does that also include a page turn?

There are a lot of moving parts to scripting, and you have a lot to learn.

Dialogue: This is bad, but I’ve read much worse. What’s here is either exposition or it’s nonsense. There doesn’t seem to be any inbetween. That needs to be fixed, post-haste.

Dialogue has to do two things: it has to reveal character and it has to move the plot. Does the bulk of your dialogue do either of those? If you said “no,” you’d be correct.

Content: This is crap.

Here’s a secret: Great art can bring up a bad script into being something passable. Great writing can bring bad art up to something passable. People may come for the art, but they’ll stay for the story. There’s no story here. There isn’t even an inkling of one. That’s terrible.

Editorially, Steve is extremely correct: this needs a rewrite. First, as always, a conversation to understand what’s going on and what needs to be done in order to achieve the desired effect.

However, before that rewrite, a lot of studying needs to happen first. You have to learn how to write for the medium. You haven’t learned that yet. Format is exceedingly simple (even though there are those who screw that up, too). Learning how to tell a simple story with a picture and some words is a challenge, but it can be done. Learn the limitations of the medium. Learn its strengths.

You can do that by trying smaller stories first. Five pages or so. Do a LOT of writing. Get out all of the bad words. Bear down and put in the time. That’s the only way to get better. Talent has to be honed. That’s what writing and having that writing edited is all 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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG Week 274: Learning In A Resubmission Sat, 26 Mar 2016 00:05:52 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The ProvingGrounds! This week, we have something of a treat: a resubmission! It doesn’t happen around here that often, so I’m always happy when a writer resubmits something. It lets us all see what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown. This week, our resubmission comes from Anh Diep, and you can find his first submission here. We also have Steve Colle back in blue, Ryan Kroboth with the pencil assistance, and I’m the crotchety guy in red. Let’s all take a gander and see what Anh has learned with his resubmission of

Captain Nightform

Page 1 (3 Panels)

Panel 1:

Establishing shot. It is dusk. The planetary rings are visible in the purple cloud-streaked sky. Captain Sylen Benevolen is standing on a cliff edge with Ion, his winged black panther. Helmet in hand, he is gazing across a mist filled abyss at the Dark Temple of Mymosule. There is a green moth on his shoulder and the ground around him is blanketed by green moths. (It’s pretty clear, based on the components in this panel, that the camera isn’t in front of him, but it definitely helps to establish in your description where you see the camera being, whether beside him in profile or behind him. It also wouldn’t hurt to guide the artist on your character’s position/posture/stance to help show his state of mind. Is he standing in a power pose or “I am great and will save the day” pose? Does his posture reflect concern? Tell the artist.)

Green moth (telepathically): We have counted 107 invidividual individual acolytes so far inside the whole temple, Sylen. (I suggest you separate the following dialogue into another balloon.) They have guns and daggers. We cannot defeat them all.

Sylen (telepathically): I cannot let them harm a single hair on her head. Those acolytes are evil people. They were founded before the Breaking Of The World and their rituals are horrific. (I’m experiencing an information dump. Evil people? Horrific rituals? Founded before the Breaking of the World? It just seems like you’re forcing this instead of letting it come naturally.)(That searing pain you all felt in your brain? That was the shoehorn as Anh tried to cram information into the panel for your benefit. That slightly nauseas feeling you have is because it didn’t go down quite right. However, he’s on the right track! Previously, the first page had no information at all. This is a good change. It just needs refinement.)

Panel 2:

Establishing shot (He’s learned! A change of location means that an establishing shot is necessary. I like it when writers learn.). Inside the temple, Lady Umia wearing a thin white gown is being carried down a corridor in a cage by the black garbed acolytes of Mymosule. (“Black-garbed” can mean any number of different types of clothes or outfits. Are they armoured? Are they in ceremonial robes? Elaborate.) (Hopefully, this information is in a separate document that the artist will have. I can see that happening. And looking back at the previous script, at the information that I cut out, a basic description of these characters was there. I’m good with this and with that.) Her eyes are wide and she is grasping a locket that hangs around her neck. Lighting is provided by wooden torches. The acolytes are armed with daggers and rifles. (I assume that you’re leaving the design of the rifles to your artist, correct? Have you provided enough details to him/her that will allow them to see what you are seeing? I don’t think so.) On a wall, a green moth is watching.

Acolytes (chanting): Mym-mo-sule Mym-mo-sule Mym-mo-sule (I’m not going to rage-quit over the lack of ending punctuation. Why? Benefit of the doubt. I can see this possibly as a sound effect, or an open word balloon with tails pointing to several mouths. As a sound effect, it doesn’t need punctuation. As a word balloon, I’d add an ellipsis. It could go either way, and this is one I’d leave to the letterer to decide. Why? Because I want to see how it looks on the page before making a final decision. This is a rare time when it’s good to leave your options open. That’s why there’s no rage-quit. There’s nothing to rage over.)

Green moth (telepathically): Lady Umia is in a metal cage. They are carrying her to the sacrificial chamber! We need to help her quickly (Missing comma) Sylen! (I also suggest getting rid of his name at the end here. Go straight for “We need to get to her quickly!” It’s more urgent.)

Panel 3:

Full shot. Back outside on the cliff, Sylen has donned his helmet (When did he don it? It would be better to have him putting it on here instead.) and is climbing onto his winged panther.

Sylen (telepathically): Ion, let us infiltrate the temple and hide until they open the cage. Then we will rescue her from that hellish place. (Enter stereotypical heroic dialogue. I have no problem with him getting ready for action, but his speech is over the top. He’s also stating the obvious: Let’s do this and then this. Work on his dialogue to make it more natural.) (There’s bad dialogue, and then there’s terrible. This is terrible. I hope there are enough barf bags. We may all be in for a bumpy ride.)

Ion (telepathically): Aye (Missing comma) Sylen (Missing comma) and in the process, I will rend the acolytes to shreds. (So it isn’t just the hero, but his trusty flying panther sidekick who also speaks like that. This tells me it isn’t just a focus on how your main character speaks in stereotype, but generally bad dialogue. Too bad… pun intended.)

Okay, so I’ve got a general idea of what the story is about and you’ve started it in the middle of things. I guess my problem with your current info is that there’s no backstory so far to tell us why we should care about what’s happening. Hero wants to save damsel in distress. Check. But why? Is she his queen, his wife, his daughter, his general’s wife, his neighbour, etc.? What is his motivation for saving her other than being heroic for the sake of being the hero? You haven’t told us anything of note in the dialogue save the dumping of situational information. If he cares for this woman, tell us more than “I cannot let them harm a single hair on her head.”

I question the use and need for telepathy between your characters. What’s the purpose? Why can’t they speak out loud? If it’s for private communication so no one hears their plans, perhaps that works, but you’d need to show other beings standing around them. Or maybe the air is so thick on this planet that sound doesn’t carry, so all beings communicate telepathically (kind of like how sound is muffled under water) (Water is actually a great conductor of sound because it’s so dense. A sound can travel for miles in water. Whale song. Dolphin song. Air, being thinner, isn’t as great a conductor of sound. And there’s your science lesson for the day, folks!). In other words, if there isn’t a good reason for the telepathy, then have them speak out loud.

The top and bottom panels are of the Captain on the cliff, which means the middle panel isn’t so much a scene change as it is panel that exists to show a vision of the situation they will face. I would suggest treating this in a similar way visually as a flashback: create a different panel shape, change the colour scheme, use a faded effect, anything that will create in your reader’s mind that clear distinction of this image existing as part of the flow of the action instead of interrupting it. Tell the artist. Another thing I suggest is having the green moth’s dialogue in a special caption box with quotation marks around the text. This shows speech coming from a source that isn’t present in the represented scene (as I’m assuming there is a collective mind amongst the green moths, right?).

To be honest, three panels on this page is a waste of space. Your panels don’t need to be large to show what you’re describing. That, and your minimalist dialogue. Fill it up!

P1 is on the books!

This is a better page than the first submission. I’ll say that right off the bat. Why is it better? Things are described better and we’re given something of what’s going on. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

Part of the problem is the fact that it’s still basically the same thing as the first submission: Brave Man standing heroically, Damsel being distressed, and Brave Man deciding to Be Brave. It’s the exact same panels as the previous entry. So, while something was learned, not enough was learned or else there would have been more of a change. A change from the three panel pages of this story? Possibly not. But definitely something better could have been done with these three panels.

Steve is definitely right about the dialogue. I’ve had horse-pills that were easier to swallow than the dialogue here. Which puts me into a strange quandary: the dialogue is better than the previous entry because it’s telling us something (not enough, but something), but at the same time, it is oh-so-terrible. I mean, so bad that fines should be levied because of it. I mean, round hole, square peg, and a wrecking ball is being used to force it in. Another pass on the dialogue is definitely needed.

So far, that’s the worst part about this. The panel descriptions are better, but the dialogue isn’t even Saturday-morning-cartoon or weekday-afternoon-cartoon bad. It’s like fourth-circle-of-Hell bad. (I’ve seen 8th circle of Hell dialogue. You’ve all been spared that. You can thank me by sending appropriately aged Scotch. At least 18 years. It should be old enough to vote.)

Yes, some things should be plainly said. When we’re talking action, this is often the case. However, “plain” does not have to equate to “terrible.” This falls squarely into “terrible” territory. It needs lots and lots of massaging to coax it out of there.

Does P1 do enough to warrant turning the page? Not yet. We’ve got some stakes set, but we still don’t yet care for the characters. We still don’t yet know what’s going on. What we need is more information, the right information, told carefully. We get that, and then we’d want to turn the page.

Page 2 (3 Panels) (And what do we have here? A page break? Know what this means? More learning! Anh wants that Flawless Victory!)

Panel 1:

Long shot. Sylen is flying on Ion out towards the tower with the swarm of moths flanking him like huge bat wings. The mist is swirling in their wake. (If he were putting on the helmet in the previous panel, here he would definitely have it on. Or conversely, he could have been climbing onto Ion in the previous panel, still holding the helmet, and donning in in this panel as they fly. Different ways to get to the same place.)

Sylen (telepathically): Moths, you will need to smother the torches with your moth-dust and cover our escape. (More groan-able dialogue.)(Does everyone else’s jaw hurt? That felt like a right cross…)

Green moths (telepathically): Aye (Missing comma) Sylen.

Panel 2:

Inside the Dark Temple, Umia has been carried into a cavernous, circular sacrificial chamber. A central raised dais extends half way to the edge of the chamber. A mass of dark acolytes surround the dais. (Define “dark”. Skin colour, evilly motivated, what? You’ve already established the acolytes are evil and have determined they are dressed in black, so is this needed or is it just confusing?) This is a mid-shot of Umia facing to the right of the panel. (Still from inside the cage, right?) The silver locket still tightly grasped, she is staring wide-eyed at Kopath. Beyond and to the right of her we see a stone table at the centre of the dais. On the table are bolted black metal manacles. At the far end of the table is a stand holding a curved black dagger. Beyond the table is Kopath the High Priest facing us with a thin smile on his lips. There are no windows and the only light comes from wooden torches on the walls and on 2 torch stands at the altar. (I had trouble keeping track of all of the specificity in this description. Let it be known that if it isn’t clear the first couple of passes, then it isn’t written effectively.)

Acolytes (chanting): Mym-mo-sule Mym-mo-sule Mym-mo-sule

Umia: No! Please!

Panel 3:

Lady Umia’s cage has been set down before the stone table. There are two large acolytes on either side of the cage. Kopath is still stood at the far end of the table holding the dagger up above his head. (Showing it off, but not ready to plunge into Lady Umia, I assume. Describing how he’s holding it may clarify this.)

A green moth is flying into Umia’s cage. Umia is pressing herself back away from the altar, her eyes are wide with fear and transfixed on the dagger. (This panel is confusing to me. The cage was set down with her in it. She is pressing herself back away from the altar, which means she’s pressing herself against the wall farthest from the altar. Am I right? If I need to ask, is it clear?)

Kopath: Behold the dagger of Mymosule!

Umia: Please no!

I concur:

No! Please! Please no! Please, no more bad dialogue! Please, no more minimalist text telling us nothing! Please, no more three-panel pages of nothing!

This is a serious waste of space. Not only is it an extremely fast read for your audience, it isn’t moving the story forward either. In six panels, what have we really learned?

Another problem with this page is the fact you start it with the hero flying heroically to the rescue and then you leave him to concentrate on Umia’s predicament. Why have him in the first panel to begin with? This entire page (short as it is) should focus on her and tell us about her. Jumping around from scene to scene without real purpose (like providing a split page involving intercutting between the hero flying to save her on one side and her being prepared for sacrifice on the other to create a suspenseful “Will he get to her in time?” sense of anticipation) just gets confusing for the reader. And by the way, did you see what I did there? By putting the bracketed sample in the middle of the sentence, it cut the flow of the sentence itself, just like you’re doing with your scene jumps. Funny how that works.

And yes, I did notice that Kopath and Umia are actually speaking aloud. It must be the air quality in the castle making it easier to hear speech. No need for telepathy here…

P2, and we have a slight departure from the previous submission.

The previous sub had the Brave Man in the first panel, the Damsel in the second, and then the Unwitting Guards in the third. As we can see, we get more of the Damsel here. The question is this: does it help?

The answer is no. Why? Because there isn’t enough dialogue to carry the action.

Okay, lesson time. (I know, it’s all a lesson, but this means you should break out your notebooks and jot down a thing or two.)

Pictures are worth a thousand words. That’s because pictures are there to describe what’s happening. Pictures are shortcuts for words. You don’t need words to describe what’s happening, because the picture is there to tell you. (This is for comics, as we all know. This is not for prose, as we also all know. There are some wiseheimers out there who’ll try to make the objection. Just understand the medium we’re working in, folks.)

Now, you can have a totally silent comic, with the pictures doing the heavy lifting. However, we have to understand that when there are no words, we have to have more pictures (panels) to help us along. Telling a story without words is more difficult because we not only have to have more pictures, we also have to have the right pictures.

Got that? Good. Because here’s where it becomes interesting, and some of you already know what I’m going to say.

When you write words, the words shouldn’t say what’s happening in the picture. The words should give depth to what’s happening in the picture. They should give the picture meaning. The pictures illustrate, the words illuminate.

When’s the last time you put something together? Like a piece of furniture or something. Program a dvr. Installed a thing? Now, were there instructions? Did the instructions have pictures to go along with the words? If so, do you know what you just read? A comic. Words and pictures. Pictures and words. Pictures to illustrate, words to illuminate. Because I can guarantee that while the pictures helped tremendously, the instructions would have been incomplete without the words, and without the pictures, there would have been a lot more words.

Everyone still with me?

Now, when we’re playing with format (such as Anh is doing here, sticking to a rigid three-panel format), we have to decide what we’re going to do about the dialogue. Part of that will be determined by the dictates of the story, part of that will be determined by the dictates of the pace, and part of that will be determined by the number of panels we want to have per page.

Three panels per page leaves a ton of space for dialogue. That space isn’t being used to its best advantage. Besides being terrible, it’s also terribly straightforward (see what I did there?). That space can be used to actually tell the story, because that hasn’t happened yet. We know what characters are doing, but we don’t know why they’re doing it. We get that information, we may be intrigued enough to turn the page.

Right now, we’re just intrigued enough to see how much of a wreck the dialogue is, and that’s the wrong kind of interest. Give us actual story in the dialogue. Let us know why we’re here. It’s P2, and things are happening. Why? That information is missing.

Page 3 (3 Panels)

Panel 1:

Lady Umia in the cage is in the foreground, holding out the back of her hand and the green moth has landed upon it. A slight smile plays on her lips.

In the background, Kopath at the far end of the table with the dagger above his head in one hand is pointing towards Umia with the other.

The two burly acolytes are opening her cage. (Mr. Kroboth? This, sirrah, is thine own. Thankee.)

Umia (whisper): Sylen?

Kopath: Prepare the sacrifice!

There’s a lot going on in this panel that should have been split up. There’s too much to focus on. You have a sudden and drastic change in emotion on the part of Umia as (most likely) an unintentional focus due to how different it is from the last panel; the sudden landing of the green moth; her whispering the Captain’s name as if there’s a microphone on the moth and she’s talking into it; the acolytes opening the cage; and Kopath in the background screaming out. First of all, there’s no lead in to her change in emotion, especially given this is a facing page. It’s too quick and jars the reader instead of pulling them in. Second, there’s no indication of why she would be calling the moth by the Captain’s name. Again, there’s no 2 + 2. You need to fill in enough blanks so the reader is actually encouraged to do some of the work. Right now, they need to do more work than they should.

Panel 2:

The cage is open and the two large acolytes have pulled Umia out of the cage by the wrists towards the stone table.

Kopath is still at the head of the table holding the dagger above his head. (Why is it still above his head when she isn’t even on the altar? Isn’t his arm sore yet? All I can say is this: Relax, man! Take a breather! She’ll be on the altar soon enough.) (For something different, you could have his arms spread wide. It would provide a different look while not interfering with his dialogue, such as it is.)

Umia is trying to pull away from the table. She is looking wide-eyed in fear at the dagger. (Another major emotional shift. “Oh, I forgot I was supposed to be scared. I’d better get back on that.”)

The green moth is fluttering above Umia. (What I love is that, not only does no one else see the moth, but no one else seems to know or care what it signifies. Methinks the Brave Man is unknown in these parts. Is it Flash Gordon reaching Mongo for the very first time?)

Kopath: You should feel honoured (Missing comma) young woman. There is no greater reward than to be offered to Lord Mymosule! (Because you never provided any lead in to the story, we don’t even know who or what Lord Mymosule is, so having Kopath say this is like me saying “I had eggs for breakfast”. Do you care? Exactly. It’s random information with no backstory.)(What? You’ve never heard of Lord Mymosule? He’s a Great Medium One. He’s not a Great Old One, and he’s been around the block a few times, so he’s no longer a New One… Forgive the bad humor. I’m getting tired…)

Lady Umia (scream): Nooooooo!! (I agree: Nooooooo!!)

Green moth (telepathically): Sylen! The cage is open! (I know what you’re trying to accomplish with the telepathic statement, but DAMN, is it ever driving me nuts!)

Panel 3:

Outside the chamber, Sylen and Ion are perched on a ledge above the ornate chamber entrance. (When did they get there? Are they inside the building? If so, how did they get there? There are too many jumps in time.) They are mostly covered by the moths who have taken on the same dark grey colour as the stone walls of the temple. Some of the moths are peeling away leaving dark green, smokey, dust trails. Sylen’s head and shoulders and Ion’s head, shoulders and wings are visible. (Confusing description.)

Sylen (telepathically): Moths, storm the chamber and smother the torches!

Moths (telepathically): Aye (Missing comma) Sylen, we will make it like the blackest night in there! (OMG! I’m dying here!) (Can he see in the dark? I’m tired, and I don’t want to ask the rest of the questions. Rin, what are some other questions in this vein?)

Okay, I’m stopping. I just looked ahead and saw that the rest of the script all has pages of three panels each. This tells me this is either designed as a web comic with each entry being like an episode or that you don’t know how to structure an effective story, let alone create dialogue that is real, provides information, and carries the story forward.

I noticed this is supposed to be a resubmission. I’ll have to go back to see if you’ve learned anything from your first TPG outing with this script. If you did, it wasn’t on the points I’ve mentioned throughout my short edits that, unfortunately, take up more space in your script than your actual story.

Take it away, Steven. Please.

Let’s run ‘er down!

Format: Flawless Victory! (And I’d have been extremely surprised if there wasn’t a FV after missing it last time.)

Panel Descriptions: Better. Not great, but better.

These can be more easily drawn. Not totally easily, but more easily. There’s still work to do, though. One of those things is to make sure there’s ample room for the artist to do their job when you’re asking for multiple things to happen in one panel. The other thing to realize is that some things could be lost when you’re asking for multiple things to happen in a single panel. They don’t have to be simple, but they should definitely be worthy of reader focus when they happen.

Pacing: Like last time around, I’m not thrilled with the three-panel pages. More is being done, however, because there’s more dialogue to carry the weight. I still feel that there’s more to be done, though.

The pace isn’t slow. The pace isn’t fast. The pace isn’t just right yet, either. More words are needed.

Dialogue: I’ve read claptrap. I’ve read claptrap here at TPG. There are entries that could rend the brain and make you scream not only for mercy, but for mommy, daddy, grandma, your favorite uncle, and papercuts.

This dialogue isn’t as bad as all of that. It will just make you cry “uncle.”

Don’t shoehorn story and ideas in. Let them come out more naturally. Real dialogue between people doesn’t have to be so straightforward. You don’t need a sledgehammer to drive home a half penny nail. Being more subtle will always be a good thing.

Honestly, I’d consider all the dialogue here to be placeholders until better dialogue can be had. It would give a sense of what was wanted until something (MUCH) better is worked out.

Content: This is more firmly in the not-crap camp than the previous entry, which is always good. Reading that dialogue, though, I’d still wonder who was forced to publish this. I mean, Anh would have to have incriminating photos of someone or something. That’s the only way this gets on the shelf.

Editorially, this still needs a rewrite, although not as badly as the first. We still need why’s and wherefore’s, but that information can be gotten through captions. If we were to come to this cold, we’d need to know who everyone was and what was going on. Not necessarily an information dump, but exposition is definitely needed to get readers caught up.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

TPG Week 273: Missed Opportunities On Georwell Fri, 18 Mar 2016 04:27:46 +0000 TPG Forbes-Kroboth

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have our own Brave One Liam Hayes stepping in! Liam hasn’t submitted anything in a while, so it’ll be interesting to see what he has for us. We also have Steve Colle going back to his notes in blue, we have Ryan Kroboth with the fantastic pencil assist, and I’m the guy in red. Now, let’s all see if Liam can intrigue us with

The Weave

PAGE 1 (Five Panels)

PAGE 1, Panel 1

A daytime establishing shot of a heavily fortified complex surrounded by a large wall. (Note: You established in the preface/character description sheet that this takes place in the near future, so that’s been taken care of and thus, the reason it doesn’t describe it here for those who may wonder.) The rebels have assaulted it, blowing a large hole in the wall and shooting their way to the largest of the buildings, The Loom, and blowing a hole in that. Dead Rebels and Threaders line this path of destruction.

THREADER (FROM THE LOOM): You will never be free, Threadless! (This dialogue doesn’t fit with this panel. I suggest moving it into the second panel, which I have already read the description for, as it requires a more face-to-face confrontation to be effective, so we see who is speaking. Also, is “Threadless” a proper designation for the rebels in this story or is it meant as an insult? The reason I ask is it sounds like something a bully would say to goad his prey, which I’m not associating with a government agent. If it’s official, then I hope to see that term referenced again later to reinforce that fact.)

PAGE 1, Panel 2

We’re inside the Loom. Moira is on the left side of the room, taking cover behind one of the desks, her gun at the ready, backpack on her back. Her body is covered wounds indicative of armed and hand-to-hand combat; cuts and bruises, a bullet wound in her left arm, a gash across her face. Beside her is Jace, who is also in cover behind the desk, but slumped against it, hands over a bloody gunshot wound in his stomach. He is also covered in other minor combat wounds. Further to the right is a Threader firing an automatic rifle at Moira and Jace from behind a desk. The bodies of Threaders and Rebels are strewn about the place to indicate a gun fight, with the Threaders on the right, defending, and the rebels attacking from the left, via the explosion in the wall.

SFX (Machine Gun): Dakka dakka

THREADER: There is no fr–

PAGE 1, Panel 3

Face shot of the Threader as he has been shot in the head from off-panel. A nice spurt of blood is erupting from his forehead and his head is thrown back.

SFX: Blam

I’m going to talk a bit about the Threader’s dialogue of “There is no fr–“ in Panel 2 and the action of Panel 3. I feel like there should be two shots of the Threader’s face, identical save for facial expression, side by side after the second panel, making this a 6-panel page. The dialogue would be placed as overlapping both panels with the balloon’s tail on the screaming face image and have the sound effect of BLAM cutting off his speech in the next panel, similar to how a balloon involving interrupted speech will have a balloon covering up that which was interrupted. Why? Because the way you have it right now doesn’t put enough focus on his/her face for the pre-and post actions of the shot. By having these two shots side by side, that focus is established to clearer effect.

PAGE 1, Panel 4

Zoom out. Mid shot of Moira stood up over the desk, her face a grimace of contempt, holding out a smoking gun in her right hand from just having fired and killed the Threader. As we can now see Moira’s thread glove up close, we see that she has fruitlessly attempted to the remove it by the knife marks on its surface. (Just a note: readers won’t have any idea that she’s tried to remove anything. This is P1. Unless you have some sort of explanation as to what a “thread glove” is and what the hell is going on, they’re going to miss it. It’s going to look like battle scars, and thus, will be overlooked.)

MOIRA: Fuck you, Threader.

*Note to Letterer. The text for Thread Gloves should appear on the digital display*


You could have this page stop here and move the next panel to the 2nd page, but let’s go a little further to see what you’ve got.

PAGE 1, Panel 5

Side shot of Moira crouching over Jace, looking down at his stomach wound with concern. Jace continues to hold the wound and grimaces with pain. His thread glove should be visible and we should be able to see what it says.

MOIRA: Jace… Hold on, Jace. I’ll–

JACE: Leave it. L-Leave me. I’ll gladly die for this. At least it’s on my terms. (This isn’t sounding natural to me, whether he’s dying or not.)

JACE: G-Go on, Moira… (This should be said before the above dialogue.)

Here’s another way of approaching the above dialogue: “G-Go on, Moira… leave me… (1st balloon) and “At least I’m dying on my terms…” (2nd balloon). This gets the same points across and provides a different flow of speech that, to me, sounds more realistic.

*JACE’S THREAD GLOVE: KILL YOURSELF (Does he kill himself? Is it deliberate that only the reader seems to see this? Why isn’t there more focus, such as a close up, on what is read on the glove’s readout? If it’s important to the story, then introduce it with a focus. Otherwise, it’s just a happenstance prop.

We have P1 down.

I’m going to talk about overlooking things for just a moment.

I absolutely love the art of Gary Frank, especially when he was working on the Hulk with Peter David. The Hulk was HUGE and powerful and Banner was in full control. This was the Pantheon days. (Anyone know/remember what I’m talking about?)

I remember the Hulk and the Pantheon were fighting against men in tanks. There was this huge splash page, the Hulk with a large gun, firing, and it was epic. I loved it.

A few pages later, one of the people the Hulk was fighting against (or fighting with, I don’t remember), made a remark about the footwear the Hulk decided to don to go to war.

They were pink, fuzzy bunny slippers.

And I had totally missed it.

I went back to the splash page to see if they were there, and sure enough, there they were. They weren’t innocuous. They were right there, plain as day, and I missed them.

And that was obvious. A glove with cuts on it during a a battle? That’s going to be overlooked. A lot. Especially if the people already have wounds themselves. It’s going to be just one more thing on top of everything else. The meaning of it will be lost, if it comes across at all.

The dialogue here needs work. Steve’s suggestion definitely has a better flow to it.

As for the page itself, even though we’re basically in media res, nothing here is compelling. I don’t feel like I want to be caught up.

Do you know why we start in media res, when we do? It’s so there’s the bang of action to get people intrigued as to what’s going on and how we got there. How is in media res supported? With dialogue. Dialogue is even more important when using this technique than it usually is otherwise. And it doesn’t have to be a character’s dialogue. It could be a set of captions. Just as long as we get a sense of what’s going on so we want to turn the page.

This doesn’t make me want to turn the page. This is boring me. And boring is death.

PAGE 2 (Two Panels)

PAGE 2, Panel 1

We’re looking over Jace and Moira, over the desk, and at the machine in the centre of the Loom. It’s front should be facing us. (I didn’t read the character sheet. Hopefully, the machine that’s being referenced here is described there. Otherwise, this is terrible and you know better. However, you have the benefit of the doubt.)

JACE: Free us.

JACE: Free all of us. (If he’s dying, he’s sounding pretty hale and hearty. Why am I saying this, Greg?)

Again, this doesn’t sound natural. Now, being Canadian may have distanced me from hearing your particular accent, dialect, and so forth as you may have intended it for this story. This could very well be the case here, but I don’t think that’s the problem. After the next panel, I’ll propose another way of approaching the dialogue for your consideration.

PAGE 2, Panel 2

Inset. A close up of Moira looking down with eyes closed and sadness.

JACE: And forgive yourself. (If this is an inset and a close-up, his dialogue should be OP.)

Okay, so here’s another way of writing Jace’s speech: Panel 1 reads “Just set us free.” (1st balloon) and “And please, Moira…” (2nd balloon), while Panel 2 reads “… forgive yourself.”

I noticed how, in the first panel, you’re showing the face of the machine and how the dialogue of “Free us” can be directed at either (or both) Moira and/or the machine, so the first line of dialogue I proposed tries to maintain that dual purpose.

To be honest, I’m not seeing a reason to have this page with only two panels. It doesn’t warrant it with the information provided. These could easily be incorporated with the sequence on Page One and provide a strong hook for the page turn.

P2 is down, and really, what we have here is padding.

I think Steve said the rest of it.

However, I do want people to notice something. This is P2, and it’s on the left side. This means there’s no page turn to get us to P3, on the right. We just slide our eyes over. Does anything of supreme interest need to happen at the end of this page? No. It just has to get us to slide our eyes over to the next. Does it do that successfully?

I don’t think so.

I’m not interested, which in itself is terrible since this is only P2. I’ve got no one to root for or against, either individually or as a group, even though one of the people may be dying (or is killing me, whichever comes first). I don’t know anything, and there aren’t any seeds planted at all to get me interested.

I’m more interested in making a tool to remove naval lint than I am in this. And that’s saying something.

PAGE 3 (Five Panels)

For this scene (pages 3-4) Moira is holding a gun in her right hand behind her back. Choose angles which best facilitate obscuration of the gun from both Christopher and the reader. Also, since this flashback set at night, and the present is day, light could be a good factor for contrasting the two time-frames, visually and well as thematically—since the flashback is a bad memory and the present is a moment of redemption.

I think there needs to be more than just a day/night difference to define this as a flashback: Different border shape, black and white coloration, a faded effect to the images, or anything that will help stress that this isn’t just a new scene taking place a span of time since scene one. (I concur. It’s extremely easy for the reader to get lost. They have to be led. You lead them by giving them every opportunity to follow the story. Especially for flashbacks.)

PAGE 3, Panel 1

Flashback. Establishing shot of an tall skyscraper apartment building surrounded by city, at midnight with heavy rain. I’m thinking something like this, but feel free to diverge. (The hyperlink didn’t work for me.) (There’s a hyperlink in there?)


PAGE 3, Panel 2

We’re inside the apartment building and in Christopher’s bedroom. A socket night-light fills the area with a dim glow. We’re looking at the door to this room, at which we see Moira, wearing a t-shirt and pyjama bottoms, peering round it and into the room with concern. Her right arm is off-panel, behind the door. Christopher is lying awake in a bed at the opposite end of the room, dressed in pyjamas. He looks tired as he itches his Thread Glove. (I’m having trouble with this. Ryan, if you would be so kind?)

MOIRA: Why are you still awake, honey?

PAGE 3, Panel 3

Medium close up of Christopher holding out his Thread Glove so the message on it can be read. He looks despondent and tired.


CHRISTOPHER: It’s still itchy. How long do I have to have it?

PAGE 3, Panel 4

Side shot of Moira, who is sat on the bed, smiling at Christopher. Her right hand is concealed behind her back. Christopher continues to looks at his glove with irritation. (This could be a strange angle. Why is that, Rin?)

MOIRA: Your whole life, silly.

CHRISTOPHER: I hate it. Yesterday it told me to become friends with Sandra. (Change to a comma) but she is mean to everyone at school. (I added the “to”, but did you mean to write this as the following: Yesterday it told me, “Become friends with Sandra”?)

PAGE 3, Panel 5

Face shot of Christopher, looking up at Moira with worry. We’re looking at him from over Moira’s shoulder.

MOIRA: I know, but you must do what it says.

CHRISTOPHER: And what if I had to do something bad? What if it said to hurt people? I don’t think I could do that.

MOIRA: You’d have to, my sweet. (Change to comma) or the Threaders would come and make you do it. (Just to be clear: If you take on the role of an editor, you’re saying you know better than most. This means your scripts should be better than most. Cleaner. Less prone to mistakes. This means, to me, that someone else shouldn’t have to come in and correct your punctuation. When it comes to storytelling and dialogue, I’m much more lenient because everyone needs an editor. But simple punctuation? Two corrections on the same page? That I can’t let pass. We’re editors, and we can do better. There is no way I can find this acceptable. There’s no circumstance I can think of where I can give this a pass.)

P3, and I’m bored. I don’t care about the change of scene. I’m bored. There’s extremely little here that makes me want to turn the page.

We get some information about the glove. No idea what it does or why it does it, but we get some info. We’re supposed to follow its dictates. It sounds like it has some sort of sentience.

Reminds me somewhat of the show Farscape. There were these warriors (raiders, really) who were hopped up on a drug that this glove they wore provided. Increased speed, strength, and durability. It also increased their irritability, causing the characters who weren’t used to it to fight amongst themselves. It also sounds Orwellian, with the glove being Big Brother. (As an aside, there was a comic titled Justice Machine, where the titular team was from a planet called Georwell. Yep, we were really clever in the late 80s…)

Anyway, by the time you’re all reading this, I’ll finally be in my house. I’m working on this on Wednesday, and we close on Thursday. Our household items are scheduled to be delivered today (Friday), so I won’t be around much. I do wish I was at C2E2 this weekend, but putting my home together is first priority. Since I won’t have internet at the house until sometime Friday, and I would hate for this to be late, I’m posting it today (Wednesday). I’m idly wondering who’s going to post and ask why they can’t read the script, even though the link they’re going to click is going to have the date. It never fails.

All of that? More interesting than this script.

PAGE 4 (Four Panels)

PAGE 4, Panel 1

Face shot of Moira. Her smile has dissipated into a more serious look.

MOIRA: Christopher, the Loom knows how everything is going to turn out. It only makes us do things so that the most amount of people end up happy in the long run. (Is the Loom a building, a program, or something else? You mentioned the Loom in your panel descriptions as “the largest of the buildings” and as having the action take place inside the Loom, but here it sounds like something else, like an omnipotent god who makes choices based on the joy of the many vs. the misery of the few. It’s two different messages.)(It’s also kind of the same ground for you, Liam. I know I have problems with organized religion, but I like to think that when I explore it, I come at it from different angles, asking different questions. This seems like it’s hitting a very similar note to other things you’ve written.)

MOIRA: Whatever it says, you have to do it. It’s for the best– the good of everyone. (This second sentence should be divided as follows: “It’s for the best…” and “… for the good of everyone.”)(Are they on Georwell?)

PAGE 4, Panel 2

Side shot of Moira and Christopher. Moira is smiling at him again, and stroking the side of his face with her left hand.

CHRISTOPHER: Even really really bad things?


MOIRA: Now get some sleep. (This could be another panel, with Moira tucking Christopher in.)(Or it could be the same panel, with her leaning in to kiss his forehead instead of stroking his cheek.)

PAGE 4, Panel 3

Angle the camera so that we have Christopher turned away from Moira in the foreground of the camera, with his eyes closed. Moira is still sat on the bed, looking down at him with a smile.

CHRISTOPHER: Okay. I love you, mummy.

MOIRA: I love you (Add comma) too. (I’m not raging. Instead, I’m dying a little inside.)

MOIRA: Don’t fret. No matter matter (“matter” was written twice) what you have to do…

PAGE 4, Panel 4

Big Panel. Close up of Moira’s right hand as she holds it behind her back. We see a pistol in her hand, and the display of her Thread Glove. We’re looking past this and at a sleeping Christopher.

MOIRA: …Everything will turn out okay.


Why isn’t this panel on a page turn? You created a strong hook with “No matter what you have to do…” and then went straight for the reveal on the same page. The tension, the suspense, the anticipation that your Panel 3 could have so conveniently and naturally built up…

gone with the decision to keep it on the same page.

Too bad.

Also, I don’t find the concept of the thread glove is being brought to its full potential. In a nutshell, if you don’t follow what the readout states you need to do, someone called a Threader will make you do it. How exactly? Why not have the glove presented as an “inaction collar”, a punishment device that instead of shocking someone for trying to take it off, shocks if you don’t do what it says? It seems useless to involve a third party, especially with no clear idea of how the Threaders would force the decision to act.

Know what else this reminds me of? Wanted (the film, not the comic—and how many of you were waiting for me to make a film reference?).

In the film, Angelina Jolie recruits Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) to be a gun-toting assassin for Metatron (Morgan Freeman), who is the voice of God (a loom). Weavers became assassins, based on interpretations of patterns they saw in a huge loom. The only real reason to watch the film is, of course, Angelina. (She’s the only reason to watch most films she’s starred in.) This reminds me of that.

That film, however, even without the talents (read: sexybeautifullust-generator) of Angelina, was more interesting than this.

Again, I hold editors to a higher standard. Again, we’re supposed to know better.

The pacing on this is crap. Total and utter.

We finally get some information about the glove (listen to it, no matter what), and then we blow whatever suspense had been built by the unnatural hiding of one arm over a few panels at the very end by showing what that glove wanted her to do. That definitely should have been a page-turn. That should have been pushed to P5 instead of being on the same page. Wasted opportunity to combat the boring. It’s terrible.

But there’s something else missing from this. A full explanation. Simply put, what are the stakes?

What happens when someone disobeys the glove? Why are they even wearing these things? How did that come about? Who manufactures it? How is it powered? How is it connected? If everyone, even children, wears one, does it grow with the child, or do they get new ones as the child grows? How do the others, the Threaders, factor into this?

This page was a perfect opportunity to explain some of that. Instead, we get nothing that we really want to read. The chance to be interesting has been wasted, and no stakes whatsoever have been set. There are no consequences for the (in)actions of the wearer. They get to go about their day. Why even wear the glove?

Right now, I’m just waiting for Steve to stop. We already know this is going back on the shelf.

Just think: by the time you’re reading this, I’ll be in my new house.

PAGE 5 (Five Panels)

PAGE 5, Panel 1

Present. Moira is stood in front of the loom, gun to her side. (Here you have the Loom presented as something she is standing in front of, not inside of as presented at the beginning. This is confusing.) To reflect the previous panel, angle the camera so we’re low, behind her, looking past her at the loom.

I’m feeling a need for dialogue here, something as simple as “You know what?” This provides a lead in to the coming dialogue while also filling the silent panel.

PAGE 5, Panel 2

Moira has taken off her backpack and is pulling some sort of I.E.D out. (This appears to be a moving panel, as at some point, she has either just taken off her backpack or mysteriously did so during the flashback and is pulling something out. Two actions or one with an unexplained result, where your Page Two, Panel 2 could have shown her slipping the backpack off to better effect.)(Maybe not a moving panel, but definitely a bigger chunk of Gutter Time than necessary was used.) She looks forwards at the off-panel machine with anger. (So the Loom is a machine, not a building or room or omnipotent god?) The gun is still in her hand.

MOIRA: Predict this, you piece of sh–

PAGE 5, Panel 3

Close up of the central column of the machine as it opens. Darkness prevents us from seeing the inside, but it would be cool with we could slightly make out the silhouetted figure of the Weaver within.

SFX (DOORS): Fssshh

PAGE 5, Panel 4

Face shot of Moira, visibly shocked and confused by what (Or is it a “who”? Is the Weaver a person?) she’s seen in the machine’s core.

MOIRA: W-What?


Here’s where I’m actually going to suggest a silent panel. Let her expression tell us what she’s feeling and thinking. (Also, the dialogue here is terrible.)

PAGE 5, Panel 5

Big Panel. We’re looking over Moira’s shoulder and at the machine. The central column has opened completely open (Opened completely open? Really?), revealing the Weaver. He stares out at Moira, expressionlessly. (So the Loom is a machine that has a person, the Weaver, inside of it? I’m a little confused.)

THE WEAVER: Hello, Moira.

And again, you’ve given us a panel worthy of a splash page, even more than Moira’s thread glove reading KILL YOUR SON, so I’m going to suggest an alternative to the previous suggestion: Put the first four panels from this page with the last flashback panel so Panel 5 here can stand on its own. This is definitely the bigger reveal of the two. As for how to create a transition from the last panel of the flashback and intro back to this scene, I had written a Breaking the Page piece on match-cuts a while back at the following link (of which I don’t know how to hyperlink): In this article, I provided a variety of options for scene-to-scene transitions, many of which could work for a same-page scene change. Use your imagination.

P5, and I don’t know who’s still with us.

Here’s the deal: right now, it’s Wednesday at 8:40 am. I’ve only slept about 2.5 hours since roughly 10 am on Tuesday. Why? Well, I didn’t go to sleep until about 3 am today (Wednesday) because I was downloading something on this hotel’s slow connection. Granted, I didn’t start until 2ish, but still, I wanted to download something and then upload it. It’s a birthday gift for my girlfriend. Then I was woken up by the cats at 5:30. So I’m kinda tired, and sleep would be a very good thing.

I want this to end. Wasted opportunities aren’t interesting to me. Not from someone who should know better.

I want this to end. Why hasn’t Steve stopped yet? I want my pillow. I want my house.

PAGE 6 (Five Panels)

PAGE 6, Panel 1

Medium close up of the Weaver, still expressionless. (This reminds me of The Matrix Reloaded. This isn’t the Weaver, this is the Architect. Hopefully, he’ll say something more meaningful than that character did.)

THE WEAVER: This is not what you expect(ed?), Moira. You think a machine capable of processing the innumerable threads of causality. (Are these supposed to be questions or are they observations regarding her reaction?)(Why is Steve correcting your tenses? Why is Steve asking about your ending punctuation? Know what? Line of Demarcation. Which is just sad and inexcusable.)

PAGE 6, Panel 2

Zoom to show the two. Moira has dropped her backpack and the explosive. (When did she pick up her backpack again?) She still has the gun in her hand, however.

MOIRA: Y-You… You are the one who —? (You don’t need the question mark, especially given it sounds more like an observation and not a question per se.)

THE WEAVER: Yes. I give you that action, (Take out the comma) and you kill me. (Shouldn’t this read “I give you that direction” instead of “action”, as the action is the result of the direction?)(Matrix Reloaded.)

THE WEAVER: That is what happens.

PAGE 6, Panel 4

We’re looking down at Moira from over the Weaver’s shoulder. She stares at him, bewildered.

Weaver: Again you are bewildered. You do not think it odd you are given an action (direction) which begins (starts) your rebellion. (This doesn’t read properly. Is it meant as a statement of question? Are you asking “Did you not think it odd to receive a direction that would lead to your rebellion?” Please clarify.)(Matrix Reloaded.)

Weaver: It does not occur to you that the The Loom (Why is this in quotes? Is the Loom not the proper term?) would know this to happen. (You have everything in a seemingly matter-of-fact statement form, but it doesn’t entirely work.)(Matrix Reloaded.)

MOIRA: You–You knew I would end up here?

MOIRA: And what (Take out the ellipsis and put a question mark.) You want me to…? (You’re using the ellipsis when it should be a double dash to indicate interrupted speech vs. trailing off dialogue. That’s wrong. And is this a complete segment of speech, as it can be read as such?)(Matrix Reloaded.)

PAGE 6, Panel 5

Face shot of The Weaver, still expressionless.

THE WEAVER: You do not want to live like this. They take a boy with a special brain, (Take out the comma) and reduce him to a machine. (Who are “they”? Why did you go from talking about her and making observations [or assumptions] about her state of mind and intention of thought to a sudden drop about how this boy with a “special brain” is reduced to a machine? Where is the transition? Where is the flow?)(Matrix Reloaded.)

THE WEAVER: They call him “The Weaver” and they hurt him until he does what they say.

I’m not liking how you did a 180° turn here, taking the focus away from his talk about Moira and changing it to a very bad explanation of his own creation.

P6, it’s crap, and Steve hasn’t stopped yet.

Does anyone find it interesting, humorous, or ludicrous that I can basically say that this section of dialogue is very reminiscent of Matrix Reloaded? All three?

It feels like we’re nearing the end. Then sleep can claim me. Or I can claim it.

PAGE 7 (Five Panels)

PAGE 7, Panel 1

Side-by-side split profile of Moira and the Weaver. The Weaver continues his story with absent emotion. Moira is solemn and saddened.

THE WEAVER: He thinks he does good and makes people happy. (Comma instead of period) but he sees his own thread–He sees that he will not live. He is born into the coffin in which he dies, a shrivelled pale thing. (I’m pulled out of the story. This dialogue isn’t getting your point across effectively.) (Matrix Reloaded.)

THE WEAVER: He makes tears. He makes smiles. He makes pleasure and pain and life and death– (Ellipsis instead of double dash, with the following text in a connected balloon preceded by ellipsis marks.) None of these his.(Matrix Reloaded.)

PAGE 7, Panel 2

Medium close-up of Moira pointing her gun and intense anger at The Weaver.

MOIRA: You did this just so I would–

MOIRA: You put me through fucking hell just so I would kill you?!

Just to clarify for lack of complete understanding, this is her son Christopher, right? Or is it? If it is, why are you doing everything in your power not to name him and explain that emotional connection for Moira? Give the reader something to make the connection, too. (I don’t think this is Christopher. I think this is some random person. Why? Because unless his crypto-statements are lies, he was born in the machine. Also, unless there is a succession of Weavers, Christopher wouldn’t have been able to get the message on his glove. And unless a message can be sent back in time like the film Prince of Darkness, why would she get a message to kill her son? No, I don’t think this is Christopher. If it is, then there’s a shit-ton of ‘splainin’ to do…)

PAGE 7, Panel 3

Face shot of The Weaver. (Still expressionless, I take it?)

THE WEAVER: It is the easiest and only way. Others fail; (Ellipsis in place of the semi-colon, connecting the text to continue the thought in one sentence.) cause too much pain. Some falter only at the last moment. You do it. Only you.

THE WEAVER: So I slip an action past those who monitor me. (Question: Is the term “action” for you the British way of saying “direction” in my mind? If so, that can be confusing if your story sells outside of the United Kingdom. Then you have a joker like me saying “it’s wrong” over and over. Tell me honestly.)

PAGE 7, Panel 4

Close up of the gun in Moira’s hand; her grip loose on the handle.

THE WEAVER (OFF-PANEL): It is decided, Moira. There is no augment against fate. (Is this supposed to read as “argument” instead of “augment”?) This happens.

PAGE 7, Panel 5

Same shot. Moira’s grip on the handle now tight.


I’m sorry. I can’t do it. Stop flashing DO IT on my Thread Glove. I’m not afraid that the Threaders will come and make me continue. I’m rebelling (or maybe I’ve just had enough).

It took me a few days to go through these pages and though I had the intention of going to Page Ten, I just couldn’t keep myself in the story.

I’m curious as to how old this script is. It feels like a backwards slide from the material I used to edit of yours from a few years back here on TPG. I didn’t enjoy how this was laid out in the least (and I’m not referring to the format). Let’s see what Steven has to say.

No one cares what Steven has to say! He’s a hack! He’s an ostrich sandwich on the vegetarian of life! He has no…

Wait. Steve has stopped? I’m free?! Let’s run this puppy down so we can run away!

Format: Flawless Victory. I’ll say nothing more about this.

Panel Descriptions: A little odd at times, sometimes I had a little trouble in seeing what was written, so I had to go back and rearrange the camera in my head once or twice. Once I did that, I could generally see what was supposed to be happening. Generally.

Flashbacks. These have to stand out more. I don’t know if simply going b/w will cut it. Maybe, maybe not. However, I think if it stood out more, it would be very difficult for the reader not to understand that they were going into a flashback.

Pacing: Horrible. This stays on the shelf because nothing interesting happens soon enough. Terrible to say, but true. There are opportunities to be interesting, but they’re wasted instead of being capitalized upon.

Dialogue: This is where this piece really falls down, on several levels.

First, there are the wasted opportunities to actually tell the story. And then when you try to tell something of the story through the Archi—I mean, the Weaver, it comes off sounding nearly intelligible. Nearly. Meaning it isn’t intelligible, but nearly so.

Next is the punctuation. I generally don’t harp on this overmuch except for commas, but I’ve noticed something lately:

Writers are putting in commas when they’re really looking for periods. I don’t understand that. I’ve seen it a lot. Drives me bonkers.

Finally, there’s the punctuation and tenses from an editorial view. Like I’ve already said, I hold editors to a higher standard. As leaders of the way, we have to be better. We have to be. How can we correct someone else if we’re doing the same things they are? How can we call that being competent? I’ll have more to say on this in just a moment.

Content: As a reader, this stays on the shelf. There isn’t enough to keep me interested.

As an editor, this would get a slow, wondrous head shake. And not in a good way.

As a story, this needs help. That’s fine, because that’s what editors are here for. We’re here to help you find the story. This needs a rewrite in order for the reader to get out of it the thought you put into it. Right now this isn’t happening.

As one editor to another, though…this isn’t good. Not in the least. There are problems here that just shouldn’t be happening, and it makes me sad. Steve is giving you the benefit of the doubt by hoping this is an older piece. I can’t. And not because I’m a jerk (because I am), but because your email basically said that this is a newer piece.

I’ve written bad scripts. I’ve written bad scripts and posted them, learning as I went. I’ve submitted old scripts that I knew were bad (before I learned) to see if there were things that I missed in my own self-editing. Even then, there wasn’t a problem with punctuation and tenses.

Inexcusable. And it breaks my heart.

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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