TPG Week 173: Ending Up Worse Than Where You Started

| April 18, 2014


Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a Brave One who is no stranger here: Talisha Harrison. We’ve got in indomitable Samantha LeBas in the punishing purple, I’m in the raging red, and together, we’ll all see how Talisha handles


Zuhura #1


A couple of notes before we begin. First, this was in 11 pitch. We know how I feel about that. Second and more importantly, this is not good. It gets extremely rough from here on. You have been warned.



PAGE ONE (Three Panels)


Panel One. Three days ago. Zuhura has been promoted to general as her regiment is given an assignment by the king.(This is not a panel description so much as it is, well, a statement about the context of the image you would like to accompany this dialogue. We’ve got no setting, no information on how the characters are interacting, no idea who else may be in the room, and all that is missing before we ever get to the question of camera placement. What you have written here contains about one atom of important information. You’ve managed to give information that is superflous [three days ago] while not really telling us what anything looks like, but this will be the fluke, right? The rest of your descriptions are actually going to… describe things, right?) We just started, and already, I don’t have the words. Here’s the thing, Talisha: your very first submission was a terrible, terrible mess. You took what was said, and I saw marked improvement from submission to submission. Then, your previous submission saw some backward movement. This? This first panel is a piece of crap. This cannot be drawn because you haven’t given the artist anything to draw. This is reminiscent of your very first submitted script in some ways. In other ways, this is much worse.


I am proud of you(comma) daughter.


Thank you(comma) father.

Panel Two. The warriors express their displeasure at Zuhura’s promotion on their faces in the background. An Amazon whispers to another. (This is more of a haiku, and less of a panel description. What the hell do you want an artist to draw?)


Captain Dwoda should be general(capitalize)!


I agree.

Panel Three. As she watches Zuhura be promoted to general Captain Dwoda mutters to herself as she clenches her fist.(I love that you have decided that ‘get promoted’ is a verb that connotes specific gestures and actions. It is not. What does being promoted look like? Where are the characters, in general, in relationship to their environment and each other? What can we see behind them? What does all this look like?)


Very soon(suggest comma) my time will come.

(Oh, Honey. Bless your heart, I know you know better. These are not panel descriptions, they are at best stage directions and at worst bad prose. You have to give your creative team something to work with.

No one can see the images that motivate you to tell this story, if you insist on being so vague. Imagine each panel as a still photograph and describe it in detail, like you might in a letter to someone who can’t see it. Account for the characters’ expressions, positions and gestures. Incorporate the environment; give some idea of the camera’s position. Make an effort to have anyone who reads your script see what you are seeing in your mind’s eye. This has got to improve, or your writing will not be functional.)

So, we have P1 on the books! That was fast, right?

Let’s just go ahead and say it: this page is useless crap. There is not a single panel here that can be drawn. There isn’t enough information given here for any artist to work from.

What’s the setting? I have no idea, because that information is given. And by setting, I don’t just mean the place. I also mean the time. A complete setting will always tell three things: location, both macro and micro; the timeframe, whether it is the past, present, or future; and the time of day. All of that encompasses the setting, and not one iota of that information is given.

This page cannot be drawn, and as such, is useless.

The dialogue here is nearly as useless, because it has no subtext at all. Readers don’t care about what’s being said. They care about the subtext about what’s being said. Take Casablanca, which is an awesome movie and should never be remade. (Imagine Tom Cruise as Rick. Harrison Ford would be better, but he’s too old. And who would play Ilsa? And would Sam’s character really play well to today’s audiences? Anyway, my digression is more entertaining than this first page.) When the Germans come to Rick’s Cafe Americain and Rick sits down with them and answers some questions, he doesn’t do so in a straight line.

German: What nationality are you?

Rick: I’m a drunkard.

A cop says something about Rick being a citizen of the world, and then Rick doesn’t answer the German, but he offers that he was born in New York City.

What does this say? Let’s step into Rick’s head for a moment and see what could be going on there. You’re on my turf, and yes, you may have some power, but you don’t have any power over me. I’m not afraid of you, but I’ll at least be cordial and give your questions some lip service. And what are you going to do about it? Not much. So lump it or leave.

That’s subtext. And in watching the movie, you can see the subtext in the words as the dialogue is spoken. The dialogue here has no subtext at all. First, there isn’t enough dialogue here to draw the reader in, and second, the emotion is all on the surface. Everything means exactly what it says.

From a storytelling point of view, here’s what the reader knows: a father is telling his daughter that he’s proud of her, and some other chick isn’t happy about it. There’s some rumbling about someone being made a general, but that’s about it.

Three panels, and there isn’t a lot of dialogue here. The dialogue is where you could have done a lot to get across to the reader exactly what is going on. Instead, it’s all about as deep as a sheet of tracing paper.


PAGE TWO (Five Panels)

Panel One. An hour later. A hooded Dwoda has left the kingdom on foot. She’s heading deep into the forest.(Nope, this is a clip from a movie, not a panel.)


Panel Two. Now deep in the forest, Dwoda makes her way to a huge awkward looking, elongated tree.(This actually has some drawable content.)


Panel Three. She walks right up to the tree and looks around checking to make sure that she was not followed.(Moving panel.)


Panel Four. With coast clear she walks into the tree as it has a magical entrance.(What does this look like? You are being so very, very vague.)


Panel Five. She comes out on the other side into a dreary cave.(How do we know she passed through the tree? Where is the light source?)


(I am having hard time even finding enough content in these descriptions to edit them. I don’t know if there is anything that an artist could actually illustrate here.)

P2, and we have another page that cannot be drawn.

The good news is that we have something of a setting: a forest. We still don’t have a complete setting, but at least we have a location.

Being Captain Obvious for a moment, there is no dialogue. Why? Why not even a thought balloon to tell us what’s going on with this woman? Here’s what the reader knows: she’s unhappy about something, and now she’s doing the obvious thing in secretly going into the woods to Do Something About It.

It’s P2. Where’s the buildup? Where’s the inciting incident? Where’s the reason for the reader to turn the page and continue reading? It isn’t present.

This page at least moves something forward. What? Dunno. But we have someone doing some action. Protagonist or antagonist? Dunno. Well, fine, that’s just me being obtuse. We have someone whom we can almost safely assume is Dwoda skulking away. Skulking generally isn’t something a protagonist would do, so we can almost safely assume that she is the antagonist. I don’t like to assume, but we all do things we don’t like.

What does the action amount to? I don’t know. We have five panels that are somewhat necessary. I can see why every panel here is needed (if they could have been drawn). Could it have been cut? Definitely. It could have just been a cut to a different location, because it’s P2, and as such, you had to turn the page in order to get there. We didn’t need the silent scene in the forest, but since it’s there, there should have been some dialogue to read.

The five panels are nicely paced, but the page itself cannot be drawn, and may be totally unnecessary, anyway.


PAGE THREE (Six Panels)

Panel One. She heads to a throne where a hooded figure sits.(Oy. Okay. Hmm, well… obviously there is a hooded figure on a throne in the magical cave, of course. Thanks to this vivid visual description I understand everything.)(What she means to say is that there is a distinct lack of setting here, just like everything previous, and you should be totally ashamed of yourself for it.)


Panel Two. Now in front of the figure she bows down.(Better, but still lacking clarity.)


I was not made general(capitalize).


Do not despair, all will be taken care of.




Leave that to me. Now go.


Thank you(comma) Sorceress. (This interaction was pointless. She schlept all the way out to the magic tree to cave portal, risking being followed, to tell the seemingly supernatural being something it appears that she already knew. What was this supposed to accomplish?)

Panel Three. Dowda departs.(NO! This is not a description… no, no, no. This is what happens, not how it looks.) (True! This is not a description. However, I can get behind it a bit. We know what departing means. The lack of a camera angle gives the artist latitude in where to place the camera so we can see and understand what’s going on. I can get behind it. This is the only panel I can get behind so far, though. I do get Sam’s point, however. This is not a panel description, and it’s just mounting frustration because it is quite obvious to anyone with eyes, ears, or some modicum of communication and understanding that you need a lot of practice in writing panel descriptions. Here’s the hell of it, and yes, it is a double-standard: if the other panels were good and able to be drawn, this panel would need extremely little else in the way of description. It would have said everything it needed to. However, since everything preceding this panel is crap, it’s really little more than a pebble in a mountain. It’s crap because it is, but if the panels before it could be drawn, then this panel more than likely wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. Again, it’s a double-standard, and it isn’t fair. I’m pointing it out because I understand.)


Panel Four. The Sorceress(Call her the sorceress from the get go, instead of ‘figure’ that is confusing. It is the same character, right?) grins as she speaks to an unseen voice (it is the Ancient One).(All voices are unseen. I think you mean disembodied.)


All is falling into place(comma) my lord.


Yessss. Now is the time to strike. (There is a problem with time dilation here. Has the person we assume to be Dowda left earshot? There’s not pause, no beat, to make sure she’s gone, and it gives me the impression that this conversation could have been overheard.)

Panel Five. The Sorceress rises from her throne and heads towards a pool of water.(I mean if there is a throne, why not a pool of water, too? Moving panel.) (And, of course, that pool of water is magically delicious.)


Panel Six. The Sorceress looks into the pool as an image of King Ghezo has appeared.(How do we see this? Is The Soceress in the shot? Is King Ghezo the same king from the first page? You never named him.)


Soon(comma) we will have your kingdom(comma) oh Ancient One.



(This does not seem to move your story along all that much. Is this where it goes? I have read through page eight at this point and it still has not connected to the rest of the story for me. I am not sure this is where this scene belongs.)

P3, and while we have a mystery, I don’t think anyone really cares.

I’m all for staring a story in media res. I’m all for forcing the reader to catch up. And I always advocate starting a story as late as possible. But here’s what we’ve got, Talisha: P1 doesn’t tell the reader a blessed thing. It can’t be drawn, no one is named, and the reader doesn’t know what’s happening, so it’s a failure. P2, while nicely paced, also cannot be drawn, and it is padding. You could have easily cut to the location of P3 and added a caption saying that it was later at Castle Greyskull. (Why Castle Greyskull? Because as soon as you named the throne-sitter Sorceress, He-Man was the first thing that popped into my head.)

So what have you done in three pages? You’ve said a father was proud of his daughter, which made another woman jealous (are they related?), and so she reports to someone that she wasn’t given a promotion that the reader has no context for, and then the someone then reports to someone else.

Cryptic, to be sure. Everyone reports to someone, right? But what’s the use? No one cares. No one. Why? Because we don’t have any context for anything.

It’s like being given a gun and a box of bullets and being told to hunt or you don’t eat—and it better be tasty. Hunt what? No idea. Hunt where? No idea. Hunt how? No idea. How does the gun work? No idea. Do the bullets fit the gun? No idea. How to prepare the food, assuming the hunt is successful? No idea.

The reader has no idea as to what’s going on or why. There’s no conflict. Conflict means that there are at least two opposing sides. We don’t know what either side wants, or why. (Someone wants to be a general. Why? Dunno. Someone wants to get a kingdom. Why? Dunno.) Three pages of nothing. Not good.

None of that, of course, even mentions that this is another page that generally cannot be drawn due to lack of information.


PAGE FOUR (Six Panels)

Panel One. Now. In the midst of a brutal battle, there is a small group of Dahomean Amazons (twenty Amazons but we can only see part of the group) fighting for their lives. They’re surrounded by a mixture of dead Amazons and enemy male soldiers on the battlefield.(Enemy male soldiers could be pretty much anything. Why are you being so broad? What does the battlefield look like?)


Panel Two. In the midst of the group is their leader Zuhura. She’s giving orders but no one’s following her orders they’re doing what they want to do instead.(I want you to ask yourself, can one draw ‘no one following orders, but doing what they want instead’ in this context? If the answer is no, then it does not belong in the panel description.)


Stop! We must advance together!

Panel Three. As they continue to fight, more are injured and another Amazon is killed.(These are not still images that you are describing.)


Panel Four. Zuhura argues with Captain Dwoda as they fight off their attackers.(This is the first time you have mentioned that Dwoda is there. You should probably mention that in this first panel.)


We must fall back!


By attacking together we can win this.


No! You’re too young and inexperienced to understand. (This line of dialogue could benefit from some of the subtlety you’ve been so liberal with in your descriptions. This is a little on the nose, don’t you think?) (Remember that subtext I was talking about earlier?)

Panel Five. The fighting is getting worst (Worst? Ouch!) for the warriors. In the foreground, a fewof Zuhura’s soldiers-The Aton are among them-are pinned down and need assistance.(What, or who are the Aton? How is this a still image?)


Who will come with me to rescue our sisters?


No! We must cut our losses and retreat!

Panel Six. Zuhura looks around in disgust at her other soldiers as they refuse to make eye contact with her while they continue try to hold off the remaining attackers.(Moving panel.)(Not only a moving panel…a panel that doesn’t make any sense at all. They’re going to stop what they’re doing—defending themselves—in order to make eye contact with their leader ? Incroyible!)


I will not leave any behind!


(You are not describing still images. You are just not, and it’s killing me.)


P4, and we have another page that cannot be drawn.


We’ve got fighting! Who’s fighting? No idea. Where are they fighting? No idea. What are they fighting for? No idea.


So far, we are four pages in, and we have a story that cannot be drawn. Four pages. Four.


Wait. Let me make sure that I’m understood.


You have written four pages. Not a single one of them can be drawn. You haven’t given the artist anything near enough information for them to even begin to work.


You have people fighting, but have not given any indication at all as to why. They’re just fighting because that’s what they do on a Saturday night. (Sir Elton John said that Saturday night’s alright for fighting.)


So far, this piece is a failure in every sense of the word. I’d have given you a flawless victory for format, but you even screwed the pooch on that.


It’s frustrating, and I’m extremely disappointed. Because I know you know better. I’ve seen you put in the work. This piece looks like you said Screw it! I’m gonna write it my way, sense be damned, and then I’m going to send it in just to torture him into submission! Could I be wrong? Of course. Probably am. But that’s the sense I get.


Talisha, this is not good work.




Panel One. Zuhara runs towards the pinned warriors, leaving the remaining unit stunned in the background.


Panel Two. With a battle cry she attacks the enemy soldiers (there are four) with her machete.(Mention her machete earlier if you are set on her having one here.)



Panel Three. In one swift motion, she cuts down one of the men warriors with her machete.


Panel Four. She chops off the next attacker in half as he another runs towards her.


Panel Five. She has beheaded that soldier and is now in the midst of beheading another.


Panel Six. Zuhura stands defiantly as she holds one of the soldier’s heads in her hand (see reference picture) as the rescued Amazons stand behind her with gratitude on their faces.


(Why are there so many silent panels? This entire page has no dialogue and it is going to be an incredibly quick read. This is kind of your character’s moment, do you want to speed through it this way?)


If there was a setting for this battle, I wouldn’t mind this page one bit.

I don’t mind the lack of dialogue. There’s enough action here to carry it. There are just a couple of impossibilities to work through.

The first one is the magically delicious machete. But that’s easy to fix. We’ll say no more of it.

The second is the chopping someone in half with the machete. Now, I’m all for a good chopping in half. I like me some gore. However, chopping someone in half takes superhuman strength. Strength I have no idea if your character has.

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. This is crappy enough that I can do at least that. Despite the fact that the general public will tell you that a chop is a downward motion, I’m going to say that your as-yet unnamed character is swinging the machete like a lumberjack using an ax to fell a tree. A machete is a relatively thin, flat blade, used as a weapon to best effect by one Jason Vorhees of Crystal Lake. (Forget for now that he’s superhuman and can cut people in half with little problem.) If she were to cut the attacker in half at the abdomen (I pick it because you never said which way she did the deed), she has tough skin, abdominal muscles, intestines, and a boney thing called the spine to work through. I’m seeing that better than I’m seeing the actual downward motion of a chop, where the guy is split in two down the center. It’s just impossible.


If there was a setting, then this page could have been drawn. Since there’s no setting, this is another page that can’t be drawn, so it’s another failure.


PAGE SIX (Five Panels)(There are only 4 panels here)

Panel One. Respect has replaced the contempt in their eyes. The unit is now ready to follow Zuhura. Dwoda has stepped forward to speak for the unit. (How do you illustrate a unit being ready to follow her?) (Can you keep the names of your characters straight? Is it Dowda or Dwoda? Is it Zuhura or Zuhara?)


Princess, I–


Regroup and attack!


(I don’t think you need this double dash here.)–Yes(comma) general. (She’s not much of a general. We’ll get into the why later.)

Panel Two. The warriors now stand steadfast, their weapons ready to charge as Zuhura leads them in a battle cry, her machete raised in the air.


We are the flower of King Gezo’s(you spelled this Ghezo earlier, be consistent) force, the finest of his army. Men shake in our presence!


None shall escape our blade!



Panel Three. Screaming their war cries, Zuhura and her warriors race towards the enemy who are caught off guard by the charge.



Panel Four. The Amazons move swiftly as they kill their enemies with brutal precision.(I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this is a moving panel? If you took the time to tell us more about what this looks like it might be perfectly functional.)


P6, and still no setting, so still undrawable.

There is consistency here, though. Too bad it’s consistently crappy.


PAGE SEVEN (Six Panels)

Panel One. With the battle now over, the dead lie all around the surviving Amazons..


Panel Two. As the woman(women) recover their dead, Zuhura speaks to Dwoda.(You really need to let your team know how many people are in the panel, and really you need to actually tell them what the people in the panel are doing. What does it look like? How are they positioned. You have Zuhura and Dwoda speaking, but you don’t specifically ask for them to be in the panel. That needs to change. The characters have to act, they have to be mentioned in the description, and the description has to describe things.






Did our enemy survive?(Maybe ‘any of the enemy?’ this is confusing as written)




Bring them to me.

Panel Three. The Aton(who?) bring the (two?) prisoners to Zuhura. The first one is gravely wounded while the other only has minor cuts on his face.(How do we draw this? Pick one aspect of the occurrence to indicate what is happening. Allow that to be a symbol for the larger event that has taken place. It is your job to try and find the most effective still to communicate the larger idea.)


Panel Four. Zuhura interrogates them.(This is simply not enough information.)


Where are the rest of your men?


Look around you.


Where are they?


You’re smart…young one. You have…figured out..our rouse. Then you figured out… that you (have?) been betrayed as well?(What does this mean? Nothing about this statement makes sense. How did she figure out the rouse? What was it? Why should she realize that she has been betrayed? I don’t think this makes any sense.) (Rouse? What’s a rouse? Here are two definitions for it: bring out of sleep; awaken, and cause to feel angry or excited. Neither of those definitions fit your use of the word here. Did you mean ruse? I think you meant ruse. Usually, I don’t correct misspellings in the panel descriptions unless they’re just terrible or they will cause confusion to the rest of the team. However, misspellings in the dialogue are another matter. The word isn’t misspelled, but it is definitely the wrong word for what you want. If you aren’t sure, use a dictionary. It took me less than ten seconds to look up the definition of the word rouse, and I have a crappy home connection. (It might as well be dial up sometimes.) If I can get it with a crappy connection, you can, too. Don’t know the word you want, use a thesaurus. That’s what they’re there for.)

Panel Five. Zuhura surprised at this revelation, raises her weapon.


May Okanu give you good dreams.

Panel Six. She beheads the prisoner.


(How are we supposed to find a connection to this character? The dialogue is flat, and seems stock. We are able to predict the conflict. There is nothing unique about her struggle or personality. Nothing is drawing me in. You are not making me care.)

So, we have another setting-less page, so it’s another page that can’t be drawn.

Fine. We have that out of the way.

This page is the doom of your character, Talisha. If you thought the other pages were the doom of your main character, with her not really being much of a general, then you’re sorely mistaken. This page, the final panel, is the doom of her.

You made your character stupid. And really, that’s tragic.

How is she stupid? Simple: instead of asking the simple question of how she was betrayed, and by whom, she kills the prisoner. She’s not even faintly curious about it. She just kills him. Why?

The simple reason is because she’s stupid.

The real reason is a much harder pill to swallow, because it is a condemnation on your writing ability.

Even the most incurious person would want to know who betrayed them, and being a military leader, talking about being betrayed is something that you’d want to ferret out. If someone says I have a surprise for you, then you want to know what it is. Something as provocative as betrayal has an automatic who betrayed me, why did they do it, and how did they do it reaction that is almost one on top of the other. You want to know. Your character doesn’t, and kills the person who could have told her.

So, the question is this, then: is your character stupid, or are you a bad writer?


PAGE EIGHT (Six Panels)

Panel 1.Lead by Dowda, the warriors begin to cheer and praise Zuhura for successfully leading them into battle and victory.


Praise Gu for giving us victory! Praise Fa for giving our general(capitalize) wisdom! (General wisdom, meaning that everyone has it, or general’s wisdom, meaning the wisdom of their general? See the difference?)

Panel 2. The Amazons cheer.(Can we see Dwoda or Zuhura in this panel?) (This panel is padding.)



Panel 3. Zuhura begins to calm them down and speaks in a serious tone.(What does this look like?)


We defeated our enemy today(comma) but at a great cost. (This is a good opening line for a speech. However, the speech never comes. I don’t even think I have a head to shake anymore.)

Panel 4. We see the gathered bodies of the dead Amazons burning on a bonfire.


Panel 5. The Amazons have solemn looks on their faces.(You have to give us more detail.)


Whoever did this will pay.


Something is amiss… (Amiss? You could say that. However, she knew that when she killed the guy who mentioned betrayal. Her blade is a laser beam when compared to her intellect.)

Panel 6. The Amazons pay close attention to Zuhura and her words. Dowda has come up to Zuhura (they face each other).(While you have more information here than you have on any panel thus far, you are still missing some vital details. How are the named characters positioned in relationship to the chorus? What are their expressions like? How can we see that the Amazons are listening to Zuhura?)


I fear our home is in great danger.


What are your orders?


Return home. Protect our kingdom.(Where did she get orders?)

(Wow. This has stopped making sense.) (Did it ever make any?)

What? The end? Let’s run this down, then!

Format: You coulda had a Flawless Victory. The format coulda been a contendah! A simple, single page break.

Panel Descriptions: I’ve seen some bad panel descriptions in my time. I’ve seen panel descriptions that made no sense, and I’ve seen panel descriptions that were actually missing! But I’ve never seen this: panel descriptions that just missed the mark nearly every single time.

You gave only two locations, and both of those were bare bones. The first setting was the woods, and the second was a dreary cave. You didn’t describe them any further than that. That was only for two pages. So, two pages out of eight had a location. How is that acceptable in any way, shape, or form?

In the beginning, most of the panels either told what was happening, or were moving panels. They cannot be drawn. Later, if a setting had been given, then there wouldn’t have been that much wrong with the panel descriptions. One thing builds upon the other.

Eight pages, and none of them can be drawn. As a writer, you failed the creative team.

Pacing: Going from macro to micro, pacing is the number of scenes in a book, the number of pages in a scene, the number of panels on a page, and the number of words in a panel. You have a page of padding, which is a shame, because that is the only page that was well paced. Everything else had something majorly wrong with it.

In 8 pages, you had actions that added up to…nothing. We’ll talk about that more in Content, but just understand that nothing worthwhile, and definitely worth reading, happened in 8 pages.

Dialogue: This has never been your strong suit. The dialogue here was never good, and then only got worse. And the hell of it is that there isn’t enough of it.

We get to know characters by two things: their words and actions. Your main character is a dunce, to put it mildly. Extremely stupid and not worthy of her promotion to put it another. Her actions show how she’s not worthy of being made a general, and her words are fluff.

Now, the only character who is actually named is the Sorceress (By the power of Greyskull!), and that seems more like a title than an actual name. In 8 pages, despite her screen time, your main character is never named. We can almost assume the name of the captain, but we shouldn’t have to.

Just when we had something that could have moved the story forward, you literally cut that option off. Very little of the dialogue revealed character or pushed the story forward. Most of it was fluff. And the revelatory dialogue didn’t do what you needed it to do: make empathetic characters. It revealed one to be grossly incompetent, another to be jealous, and the other warriors to be deserving of death for not following orders in a time of war.

Content: Now, we get to the meat of it.

I don’t have to worry about this as a reader, because it’ll never make it to market. Not in its current form. Not without a massive rewrite. It’s just that bad.

Editorially, none of these pages can be saved. It’s just that bad. The idea, maybe, but not these pages. Here’s what happened.

Your main character seems to have gotten her promotion through nepotism. She sure as hell wasn’t qualified to be promoted, as evidenced by her actions.

The army knows she isn’t qualified, but instead of just grumbling about it, they go one step further and actively disobey direct orders. (Not listening is disobeying.) This, during a time of war, can be considered treasonous. However, no one is punished.

Your unnamed main character isn’t a leader. She doesn’t inspire confidence within her troops, or loyalty, or anything other than outright contempt. Contempt, it seems, was duly earned because she’s stupid. She should be killed before she gets too many others killed.

Your antagonist really doesn’t do all that much. She goes to report she wasn’t promoted, but then she goes back and, like the others, disobeys her general during a time of war. Not very antagonistic, is it?

Your sorceress is trying hard to be cryptic, but it just doesn’t come off well.

There’s a fight. We have no idea where the fighting takes place, nor do we have any idea what the fighting is about. They’re just fighting. None of these semi-antagonists are named. And that wouldn’t have been so bad if a reason for the fighting were given.

After the victory, you show just why your character isn’t worthy of the promotion by having her kill someone without any kind of real effort put into getting information out of them, not even when betrayal is mentioned. Actually, it seems like she’s the bad guy, because she kills him before he can say too much. She has to kill him to cover it up! (It may be wrong, but it’s better than her being stupid.)

There’s no story here. 8 pages, and nothing that can be considered story happens. Story needs reason. Conflict needs reason. The only conflict I can see is that she’s not worthy of being a general because she’s either incompetent or a bad guy. That’s not the conflict you wanted to show, but that’s what you gave.

You lost a lot. You moved forward from where you were at one point, but now, you’re in a much worse place than you were before. I have no idea how that happened.

It’s like this: there are 170+ examples of how to write a script on this very site. There are more scripting books to shake a stick at, and I have written a couple of books’ worth of articles on the subject, also on this very site. There are examples—free examples, mind you—all over the internet on comic scripts. There’s an entire archived database of pro scripts that can be perused for free, and there is at least one book out there that is nothing but scripts from one writer. There are examples all over the place, and it seems like you didn’t avail yourself to any of them. That’s disappointing.

I don’t think there’s a word in human language to explain just how bad this particular effort is. It’s a good thing I have a short memory. The bad thing is that you seem to, also.

Put more effort into your craft. You’re better than this.

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


Also, we’re getting close to the end of our scripts! Submit now, because the wait isn’t long!


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


Click here to make comments in the forum!

Related Posts:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Columns, The Proving Grounds

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at for rate inquiries.

Comments are closed.