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Thread: Week 2- Dan Potter

  1. Pounce Guest

    Well I hope you all learned something. I know I did.

    Before I respond directly to Steven I want to explain what I was attempting to accomplish with this script.

    The scene was written to establish Richard’s character before something bad happens. The intention was to invoke curiosity to what Richard is up to and show the reader that he’s grieving his wife.

    In this rewrite I’ve stripped the heavy handed narration, shortened the journey to the interesting bit (yes that was shortened, its on page 10) and punched up the interaction between Richard and Donahue. I couldn’t quite get all the information though the pictures so I felt it was necessary so Richard developed a habit of talking to Catherine. I’m really glad that bit seemed to work.

    On to the specific bits:
    I was bored. In five pages, you’ve done nothing to engage the reader, to make them want to turn the page. The only thing that was semi-interesting was the “numerology” comment on P1, but that’s not enough to carry interest.
    The intention was to pique your curiosity with the circle and his rambling. Looks like I got you a little bit on page one and lost you on page two. I think this entire scene is heading to the trash.

    Are you pagan? Ever studied magick? Do you have any sense of how a spell is constructed or works? Personally, I don’t think so. Those who have studied have too hard of a time trying to put too much stuff in, rather than leaving so much out. They’re too eager to show what they know. So, I’m going to say you’re faking the funk. Trust me, magick is hard.
    Guilty as charged. I draw most of my magick knowledge from world of Darkness games. Still I don’t really view that as a fault as it is internally consistent within the the world. That won’t be apparent within the first five pages no matter what I do. This is supposed to be the hook, not a world encyclopedia.
    Throughout these entire five pages, you’ve generally failed to engage the reader with anything interesting. You have a flashback panel on P2 that doesn’t go anywhere. It’s too short of a flashback by far, and honestly, I believe it’s too soon to use one. We’ve just opened the book, starting in the present, and you want to change the setting already? I don’t care that it was only for a panel. To tell the truth, that’s part of the problem!

    The flashback would be put to better use if it were near the end of a full scene. Let’s call it near the end of P5, we have the flashback, and let it run for a page to a page and a half. As long as it makes sense, it’s good. This means, by the way, that your pacing is off.
    Flash back was originally the entire page 2. I moved it to page ten and left the on panel there as foreshadowing and in an attempt to illustrate that he’s haunted by flashbacks. How would you communicate that effectively?

    That P5 is horrible. I’d love to see an artist tackle that. Three panels, with four insets in panel 2. Seven panels in total. Panel 2 isn’t going to work, because the insets are going to take up too much space. The only saving grace to this page is the fact there’s no dialogue. We’ll come to that in a moment.
    Aww, I was really proud of page 5. I envisioned the inset panels as tiny, less than an inch by an inch. Thats probably a page I’d want to try laying out myself. Maybe if I cut the first panel out?

    Of these five pages, you have an average of six panels. Not bad. You also have a minimum of speaking, which is also not bad. However, that minimum of speaking is working against you here because your panel descriptions aren’t visually appealing.
    The art of the interesting panel description is not something I have the hang of yet. I’m basically listing elements I want in the frame. I need to read more comic scripts. As for number of panels, my major comic influences are Gaiman (Yes I can hear your groaning) and the Foglios. Both of them tend toward a denser panel count than most, Sandman’s average panel count is seven while its not uncommon for Girl Genius pages to have eight or more panels. I realize thats a bit ambitious for a beginner so I tend to start with a 2x3 layout, but I try not to be afraid of upping the panel count for pages that have a lot of dialog.
    When writing comics, you want to come in late and leave early. Start as late as possible in the scene, and get out as fast as possible. This creates drama. Despite your intentions, there is no drama here.
    Could you expand on this a little bit?

    Your panel descriptions have too much in the way of superfluous information. You have things in there that won’t matter, not even to the artist. They’re not helping the mood, and they’re certainly not helping the setting. There’s no point to them. I could rewrite your panel descriptions, cutting them in half, and still get the same thrust of the panel you’re going for. That’s not good.
    This goes back to me not being comfortable with simply describing the action, so I attempt to communicate the motive behind the action so the artist and understand the mental state of the character and craft a facial expression that is a bit more subtle that me saying, he’s shocked, she’s tired and ticked off, ect.


    If you had a choice to either start a story off strong or weak, which would you rather take? If you said strong, why are you doing the diametric opposite of that? If you said weak, why? You’ve posted versions of this plumber story on DW before. My ultimate question is, why are you continuing to hammer away at an opening that obviously doesn’t work?
    This story is about change, its about upheaval. Because of that, I feel a need to establish the baseline for Richard, his life, and his world before I turn everything upside down. Thats really why everything is so mundane in these first pages, that is the point. (sorry, having an epiphany here) What I’ve been trying to do is pepper that normalcy with hint of something is going to happen but its clearly not enough. So I was hoping that I could draw the reader in by giving them a fuse to follow into the explosion. But the fuse was too long or unnoticeable. I think I’m going to start after the explosion, now, this entire issue is going to be skipped.




    On the good side, the dialogue is actually pretty serviceable. Boring, sure, but serviceable. I could believe these characters saying these things. You need help with comma’s, but I think that goes back to a lack of writing skill. You’ve shown that you somewhat know where to place them, which leaves me a little confused. But from a listening standpoint, I could read this aloud and want to change very little. Good job.
    Woohoo! (I’ll take what I can get )

    Clean this up, open with something interesting, and feel free to send it back for another go-round.
    Count on it.

    -Dan Potter
    Last edited by Pounce; Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 02:19 AM. Reason: Yay Grammar!



  2. SAM Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    I need to read more comic scripts.
    This is a great source of those: comicbookscriptarchive.com

    Spence Mitchell
    Last edited by SAM; Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 03:14 AM.



  3. BarriLang Guest

    UMMM can I take my script back?!?

    Just kidding... Having EVERY tiny and massive mistake pointed out is gonna be a God send! No better way to fix a problem than to know EXACTLY what your problem is.

    Looking over this weeks edit I can see some things that will be cropping up in my script too... get your brightness turned down guys and prepare for the RED



    P.S I'm a Welshman and English isn't my 1st Language... "Cymraeg yw fy iaith gyntaf." (that said, "Welsh is my 1st language.").... Oh how desperate is that!! Getting a defence in before I've seen the edit!
    Last edited by BarriLang; Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 01:30 PM.



  4. BarriLang Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    I don't think Barri or Paul have anything to worry about...
    Hang on?!? That, to me, seems like quite a positive comment!

    The cold sweats are passing; a little.

    PHEW!

    Barri

    WOW! Check out the commas in that mother!



  5. StevenForbes Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    The intention was to pique your curiosity with the circle and his rambling. Looks like I got you a little bit on page one and lost you on page two. I think this entire scene is heading to the trash.
    Like I said before, it's not strong enough to carry the reader through the dead space you have there. Think of another way to do this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    Guilty as charged. I draw most of my magick knowledge from world of Darkness games. Still I donít really view that as a fault as it is internally consistent within the the world. That wonít be apparent within the first five pages no matter what I do. This is supposed to be the hook, not a world encyclopedia.
    Faking the funk is easy to spot, especially for those in the know. I've been studying magick off and on for ten years or so. I'm by no means an expert, but faking is easy to see. It's like a stage magician that doesn't know any tricks--they just got a cape and hat and went on stage.

    If you're going to do a story basically about magic, do some research first. Know what you're talking about. You didn't do any research, so I'd call the attempt piss poor. There are literally dozens of books out there on the subject, so there's no excuse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    Flash back was originally the entire page 2. I moved it to page ten and left the on panel there as foreshadowing and in an attempt to illustrate that heís haunted by flashbacks. How would you communicate that effectively?
    This depends on the type of story you're writing, and even more on the strength of your artist. First, remember that comics are not film, and this flashback thing is something that would work well in that medium. Second, the best way to show he's haunted by flashbacks is to pepper the pages with them, but you don't have that kind of time. Not in a first issue, not with your current writing prowess. Every panel has to be interesting and push the story forward. These pages I edited were neither. Be interesting first, and then technique will come after.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    Aww, I was really proud of page 5. I envisioned the inset panels as tiny, less than an inch by an inch. Thats probably a page Iíd want to try laying out myself. Maybe if I cut the first panel out?
    For all of the description you gave for the insets, in order to get everything in there, the view would have to be pulled out a LOT, or really close in. There's no in-between. That's why it's too much. Yes, lay it out and see what you come up with. You'll see what I mean.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    The art of the interesting panel description is not something I have the hang of yet. Iím basically listing elements I want in the frame. I need to read more comic scripts. As for number of panels, my major comic influences are Gaiman (Yes I can hear your groaning) and the Foglios. Both of them tend toward a denser panel count than most, Sandmanís average panel count is seven while its not uncommon for Girl Genius pages to have eight or more panels. I realize thats a bit ambitious for a beginner so I tend to start with a 2x3 layout, but I try not to be afraid of upping the panel count for pages that have a lot of dialog.
    Being influenced by them is fine, but they know how to tell a story. You're still learning. If you're influenced by them, study and dissect what they're doing. Read interviews where they talk about craft. Understand why they do what they do. Then when you're done, take what you've learned and apply it to your own writing. Influence doesn't mean anything at all without understanding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    Could you expand on this a little bit?
    Let's talk about Spider-Man. We don't see Peter getting up, getting showered, brushing his teeth, putting on his costume and then his civvies, catching a bus as he goes to work, and then stumbling into a robbery, changing into Spider-Man, and beating up the bad guys. Not when the main story is about Shocker and the Rhino trying to pull a heist, which is nothing more than a setup by the Sinister Six to get Spidey out into the open in order to kill him, but he gets out of the trap and defeats them all. And, it's done in three issues.

    Instead, you create drama by getting in late: Spidey's taking care of some petty thieves before heading out again, and he talks about his morning as he beats the snot out of the guys. We switch to Rhino and Shocker doing their thing, and maybe flashing back to the genesis of the plan. We then switch back to Spidey, and the reader knows it's a trap, and we want to tell him, but we can only sit back and watch the story unfold. And then, Spidey's on the ropes, with the rest of the Six coming out of the woodwork to kill him. Issue 1 ends! How's he going to get out of it?!

    See how that drama is created? Everything that wasn't important was cut out, and we only got to the interesting bits. Then, we get out before it's over.

    Watch soap operas. No, don't groan. Watch a daily soap for about a week. You'll see that every time they switch a scene, they've started really late in it. They give you enough to get you interested, get you invested in that part of the story, and then they switch. They come in late and get out early.

    Yes, I want all of you to watch soap operas for a week. Tell me what you find.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    This goes back to me not being comfortable with simply describing the action, so I attempt to communicate the motive behind the action so the artist and understand the mental state of the character and craft a facial expression that is a bit more subtle that me saying, heís shocked, sheís tired and ticked off, ect.
    Know what I have to say to this? Get comfortable. There's no other way around it. It's going to have to be done sooner or later. Why prolong the agony? Why short yourself on a needed skill set if you want to make it as a comic book writer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pounce View Post
    This story is about change, its about upheaval. Because of that, I feel a need to establish the baseline for Richard, his life, and his world before I turn everything upside down. Thats really why everything is so mundane in these first pages, that is the point. (sorry, having an epiphany here) What Iíve been trying to do is pepper that normalcy with hint of something is going to happen but its clearly not enough. So I was hoping that I could draw the reader in by giving them a fuse to follow into the explosion. But the fuse was too long or unnoticeable. I think Iím going to start after the explosion, now, this entire issue is going to be skipped.
    This is what pisses me off about new creators. I can talk until I'm blue in the face about needing to start off as strongly as possible, and no one listens because you all know better. So then, you go off and you write, send off your work, and wonder why you don't hear back. You haven't learned your craft, you refuse to put in the work, and then you send it off thinking you're ready. Pisses me off every time.

    You want to get your writing noticed? When you're just starting out, especially for your first issue, START OUT WITH YOUR BANG! Screw the slow burn. You're not going to get reader interest that way. You're going to bore them to death, and for a writer, BORING IS DEATH. Boring means you get no work, which means you're stuck flipping burgers or in the accounting office or whatever job you do that you hate.

    START OUT WITH YOUR BANG! Structure the story so that you have your bang, and then explain how everything got to that point. Or start with the bang, continue with the story, and then go back and explain. GRAB THE READER. You're brand spankin' new, and you don't have time for a slow burn. Get some published writing credits first, get readers to recognize and trust your name, and then try for the slow burn. You have to prove you can tell a story first and foremost. After that, after you have a level of trust with publishers (writing credits), you can then start trying different things. Not before.

    Grab your reader. Start out with your bang.



  6. Cary Guest

    heh. Steve and his damn red ink. been there and done that. but i do firmly believe what he says. everyone needs an editor. i don't care who you are at some point what you write gets turned around in your head and you aren't conveying what you want or need to be conveying. Editors catch that and make writers look far better than they deserve to sometimes.

    one thing he mentioned about panels and real estate...if you're gonna write for comics, you desperately need to know the form deeper than just being a reader of comics. would you film a movie because Star Wars was the greatest movie ever and you've seen it a hundred times? no. you'd study, you would learn, and then you'd go out and make something far less interesting than Clerks most likely, but at least you'd have the knowledge base from which to build. two resources i highly recommend for every single comic book writer on the planet.

    1. Will Eisner's Comics and Sequential art. But you aren't an artist you say? i say you're nuts. writing is just as much art as the guy with the pencil. you simply convey in a different way. Eisner gives a TON of tips and tricks for use in making great comics, and writers can glean as much or more from it as pencil artists. get this book, even if you have to borrow it.

    2. Wally Wood's 22 Panels that always work. this is easy. go here: http://badelements.net/22panels.jpg and save it to your hard drive. then print it big and hang it next to your writing nest. i have sent this to every artist i work with to EXCELLENT effect. i can ref a panel view if i want to, but normally i don't. they know. but this gives a writer a huge leg up in designing a page through the script. you can use the reference to frame a page for effect rather than dance around the subject till your feet hurt. this has helped me out of a bind more than once.

    and just so ya know, i sent Steve a script for this as well. can't wait to see how that turns out.



  7. Pounce Guest

    If anyone is curious as to what happened to this script, I launched Walking the Lethe in January. Most of the script I submitted to Steven was discarded but this is the same story. Still not perfect, but I like to think of it as a strong start to my second webcomic.

    Cheers,

    Daniel Potter



  8. harryd Guest

    Congrats on getting it going.



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