I don't how far your going out with your queue, if it's a "next up at bat, and here's who's on deck" thing. I did send you a script on Wednesday.
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Proving Grounds. This week brings us Patrick Brusnahan. Let's see how he does.
SHOOT FIRST, ASK LATER #1
TITLE: The Big Break
OK, first of all, if you want to know how Iíd like the panels to be, just give me an e-mail and I can send you my thumbnail sketches if youíd like. Donít feel pressured into this, if you think thereís a better way, you do it, I can look at it and re-script or whatever.
The next few issues will be set in Austin, Texas if that helps with environments. There might be a few additions that sound unimportant to the story. These are just a few references I like to put in my stories. A few in-jokes and such. I personally think it helps readers re-read to catch all of them. On that note, feel free to add a few now and then. (Nice! See this? Instructions to the artist right off the bat. I like it.)
1. Hot sunny day. Two men sitting on wooden chairs and drinking beers. Theyíre sitting outside a bar called ďThe Man With No NameĒ. The one on the left is older than the one on the right, with a moustache and no beard. The guy on the right is clean shaven and slouching. Nobody talking. (This isnít enough of a description of much of anything. Iím sitting in a white void. Itís a sunny day. Fine. So what? We have to guys sitting outside a bar. I know you said this is in Austin at the top, but from this panel description, it could be on the moon for all the information youíve given. If this is supposed to be an establishing shot, then establish the shot. Donít be half-assed about it. Now, the guys. One is older than the other. So, in my head, one guy is one hundred (AND itís his birthday), and the other guy is 22. If that doesnít work, then thatís too bad. Give a proper description next time and you wonít have this problem.)
2. Same, but the right guy is turning towards the old one. (Iím waiting for this to get interesting.)
Just beer. (The way you have this set up, this could be two word balloons. It works better as one, on one line.)
3- Same again. Sorry about the repetition, but itís the calm before the storm, donít worry. (Too late.)
You ever seen Lost?
I donít go to the pictures.
No. Itís a TV show. Been watching it for five years now.
These guys are trapped on an island after a plane crash and they need to escape from all these monsters and stuff.
They ever get off the island? (Again, watch the word balloons. Watch the back and forth dialogue. This is four, when most are three.)
4-Same, except now the one on the left has turned as well.
No, not yet, but-
Not even after five years!
No plot progression, thatís what that is. (And four panels in, Iím thinking the same thing.)
5- This time we see a huge shadow over the men, both looking up with a ďwhat the hellĒ expression on their face. Lettering is larger than usual. (This shadow kinda comes out of nowhere. I know you meant it that way, but thatís not the way Iím meaning it. Because you failed to properly establish the scene, this bar could have a porch/roof overhang that theyíre sitting under (which would be a VERY smart thing in Texas, seeing as it gets hot as hell there.) If theyíre sitting under something, thereís no way for the shadow to loom over them. And for a reaction that theyíve just given, youíd wonder if the sun just went out. This is poorly done.)
1- Blue pick-up truck flying though the air. Side-view, so we can see the driver and fight. JASON is driving the truck while his brother, ZACK, is fighting a large, muscular, bald man (lets call him BALDY for now) in the back. The sun is high in the sky. (Again, this is a white void. I cannot picture this in my head, because you havenít given anything for the imagination to grasp onto. Where is this taking place? Set the scene, Patrick. Thatís first. Second, this side view will probably come out extremely pedestrian. Think of a more action oriented view, and go for it there. Third, just how high up is this car that it casts a shadow on two men on the ground? Fourth, this will more than likely be a waste of space if it doesnít push the story forward.)
Stay still, Wallach!
No chance, Eightball! (I think some of my brain cells just died, reading these two lines.)
Drive faster, Jason! (THIS is a stupid line. Yes, I said stupid. How fast can you drive when youíre flying through the air, or didnít ďWallachĒ get that memo?)
2- Inset. Zoomed in on JASONíS face.
You try it when youíre in THE AIR, Zack! (At least SOMEONEíS paying attention.)
1- BALDY swings his fist and it hits ZACK square on the jaw. BALDY facing us while ZACK is facing the other way. (Okay, are they still in the air?)
Thisíll teach you to mess with the Stackers!
2- BALDY does the same with his left hand, but this time ZACK ducks. (This needs some cleanup. You say he does the same thing with his left here, meaning he did it with his right in the previous panel. The bad part is that you didnít say he struck with his right in the previous panel. This is what I mean by cleanup. If you write something in one panel, make sure it flows properly from previous panels. If a guy walks into a room and surveys it, thatís fine. But if in the next panel he walks over and picks up a gun from the table, thereís a problem because you didnít mention the gun before. See what I mean?)
Shame nobody never taught you anything, eh?
Did you ever master that tricky addition, by the way? (witty repartee while fighting, while flying through the air in the back of a pickup. Unless this is a SHIELD flying car or somesuch, theyíve been in the air for a good 8 seconds worth of panel time. More, when you add in that the dialogue is happening during this time. Yup, Iím buying thatÖ.)
JASON, OFF PANEL:
Stop bitchiní and hit him!
3- Wide panel. The truck lands on a dusty road with a loud THUD!, and a tire falls out from the back. (Just a tire? What about the combatants? Iíll tell you what, you broke my suspension of disbelief two panels back. And what happened to the spectators? The truck probably should have landed on Elderly Lad and Barely Legal. Whereís the bar in all of this? Itís called a panel description, Patrick. Panel descriptions, and keeping track of the whereabouts of your characters/objects. Youíve lost track already, and its only three pages in. Lastly, how is this an interesting place to turn the page? Itís a great place for me to close the book and put it back on the shelf, but how it is a good place to turn the page?)
Mother of Christ! (I can understand that sentiment.)
1- ZACK punches BALDY right on the nose. This view is from behind and slightly above the truck. (Why is this fight still going on? Itís P4 now. You wasted a splash page, landed a flying truck, and theyíre still fighting. They should have fallen out with the tire.)
He hasnít fallen out of the truck. (Iím dying over here. Truly.)
Canít please some people. (This is probably true. Like all of this talking back and forth during a fight. Youíd almost think this was a superhero comic. Are they wearing costumes under their clothes? Sure are a lot of impossibilities/improbabilities going on.)
2- View of JASON at the wheel losing control, frantically turning the wheel. (No. This is a moving panel. This doesnít work in any way, shape, or form. Howís that for short and direct?)
3- The pick-up truck skids and crashes into a tree. ZACK falls over quickly and BALDY flies out of the truck onto the pavement. (No. More movement. Pick a single, still image, and describe that. How can you show someone falling over quickly? You canít. I want you to show someone breathing in one panel, or a flickering light bulb. You canít. Know what can and cannot be drawn.)
4- ZACK getting up off the floor with blood on the floor and a cut on his head. (Floor? What floor? Floors are in houses/structures. Heís not in one, unless they crashed into the bar, like I mentioned earlier. So, where is ďWallachĒ getting up from? Why is this an important panel?)
Heís out of the truck. (This would be witty dialogue if it wasnít facetious. You are getting a reaction out of me with this character. However, itís not the reaction you want. Iím really wishing Eightball wakes up, jumps out of the tree they crashed into, and delivers The Peopleís Elbow right to Wallachís trachea. Nope, Iím not violent.)
JASON (Off Panel):
I can see that, but our truck wonít be driving us anywhere.
You still got the papers? (After crashing into something, Iím not seeing this conversation happening at all.)
5- JASON in the driverís seat looking at a brown briefcase in the seat next to him. Lots of beer bottles on the floor.
Least we have some good news to report to the client.
Howís our backseat driver?
6- Shot of BALDY lying motionless on the pavement, eyes closed and blood flowing out of his head.
ZACK: (You said this was a shot of Eightball. Why isnít this set of dialogue off panel?)
Believe it or not-
-I think we just killed our new best friend.
1- Shot of a hallway and a door with ďSarah LeoneĒ on the door. It is a very posh and civilised place. (See this? This is a change of location, right? So, whereís the establishing shot? Where is there anything to give to the artist to tell them where they are, in order to make this scene ring true? Again with the white void. This is just lazy writing. Is this in a hotel? Is it in the back of a restaurant? Is it a business office? You donít say, so we donít know, which makes me say ďcraptacular.Ē)
SARAH (Speech bubble coming through the door):
Good work, boys.
2- Inside the room. ZACK and JASON are wearing suits and looking smart, standing in front of Sarahís desk. ZACK has bandages around his head and a black eye. SARAH is wearing a businesswoman suit with skirt standing behind her desk, which has her nameplate, a lamp and a computer on it. There is a bookshelf and a potted plant on the left side of the room. The briefcase is also on the desk. (What do we care about a bookshelf and potted plant? You called attention to them, so they must have some significance. If not, then Iíll call shenanigans. And if this is her office, why is Sarah standing? To show off her skirt? And depending on the view you want, youíre not going to get all of this. Someoneís back is going to be to the camera, or theyíll all be in profile. You wonít be able to see the nameplate. But hereís the thing I donít understand: why have your name on the door, and then your nameplate on your desk? That insecure about who you are? Do you need to be reminded twice?)
Thank you, Miss Leone.
It was nothing.
3- Close up SARAHíS face, smiling seductively.
How many times have I told you?
Call me Sarah, Zack. Please. (It wasnít Wallach. It was Jason. THIS isnít a mistake. THIS is laziness on your part.)
4- ZACKíS face, smirking a little. (Why is this panel important? Itís not. Itís padding, and padding is a crime.)
These the documents you wanted? (See this line of dialogue? This line of dialogue is semi-important, because it moves the story along. Too bad it is incongruous with the panel description given.)
5- SARAH now holding the briefcase.
Yes, boys. These divorce papers will come in handy. (See this? This is a better place to end this page, and the only reason it resonates is because of what the boys went through on the previous pages. On its own, this is not a strong turning point. Even with it, itís not a strong turning point. But this is a better place than from where you actually DO turn the page.)
6- JASON, now angry, pointing at SARAH.
We risked our lives for divorce papers!
(And thatís where Iím going to stop.
There are some problems with this script. The first thing, of course, is the panel descriptions. Theyíre barely there. Not what I would term adequate in any way, shape, or form. Youíre leaving me in a white void more often than not, which isnít good. Remember, the script is for the entire creative team, starting with the artist. If they donít know whatís going on, that is a failure on your part, not theirs. I canít even call it clear as mud, because youíre missing an ingredient. Water or dirt, take your pick. Well, Iíd say water, because it doesnít seem like you sweated much over this script at all.
You have to remember that each panel is a unit of time. That time expands when you add dialogue to the mix. That flying car thing was AT LEAST fifteen seconds. Ever watch any sport racing? Ever watch Evel Knievel do a jump? (Am I dating myself here?) Those jumps are FAST. Heís in the air no longer than three seconds, if that, depending on the length of the jump. Your scene there was five times as long on the outside.
And whoís really going to continue fighting while a car is ďflyingĒ? Whatís worse, you give no indication of how they got in the air in the first place. This isnít the Dukes of Hazard.
Basically, what youíve done is broken peopleís suspension of disbelief. First, the flying car, second, how long it flew, and third, the fight with ďwittyĒ repartee while the car is in the air. Too many things going on for too long.
Then thereís the padding. Thatís what a lot of those panels were. Padding to push up the panel count, because not many of them revealed story or character. The panels are just laying out there, flapping in the wind. The biggest crime committed was that splash page. Besides setting up the flying car, what does it really do? Itís not even a cool visual, because I canít visualize it. That page could have been three panels: one large one of the car flying, one of the car landing, and one of it going into the tree. None of the dialogue is necessary, and could have been gotten to on the new P3, because youíll now have the time to say what needs to be said. You donít have the time to do everything youíre trying to do while the car is in the air.
The dialogueÖIím not a fan of it. Especially Zack. I didnít want to rip out my eyes, but he did make me think violent thoughts because of his stupidity. Congratulations, you got some character down. Too bad heís a jerk. Oh, and he makes Jason look bland in comparison. But the reason Iím not a fan of it is because it is VERY straightforward and clunky. Go to the mall, and find the most attractive woman you can. Now, go up to her and say you want to take her to dinner and then make hot monkeylove to her. Youíre not going to get anywhere, just like youíre not really getting far with this script.
The good part is that you were able to get something to grab a reader by the second page. The bad news is that you werenít able to keep them. The action has to be smart, even though its action. Without it, youíve got nothing.
Overall, this needs work. The biggest things are the panel descriptions and the action. You get those down, and the dialogue will come.)
And thatís about it. Next week brings us Calvin Camp, then Tommy Brownell.
Letís discuss this.
I don't how far your going out with your queue, if it's a "next up at bat, and here's who's on deck" thing. I did send you a script on Wednesday.
One again you seem to be claiming things are moving panels just because more than one thing is ocurring in the panel. The truck going out of control is something that's happening more or less on its own while Jason is frantically turning the wheel. Showing a character turning a steering wheel isn't a moving panel any more than showing a character walking, and "frantic" is all in the body language and expression.
An artist could draw that panel. So how does it not work?
Trucks also have floors. So while I'd say it's a poor description of someone trying to pry themselves out from under a dashboard, it's probably possible.4- ZACK getting up off the floor with blood on the floor and a cut on his head. (Floor? What floor? Floors are in houses/structures. He’s not in one, unless they crashed into the bar, like I mentioned earlier. So, where is “Wallach” getting up from? Why is this an important panel?)
And this panel may not be important, but if you want my opinion, it's worth it just for, "He’s out of the truck."
I know Stephen isn't particularly liking what you're doing here, with the dialogue, but personally I'm a sucker for deadpan banter in the midst of chaos. The dialogue does need some polishing, but I'm liking what you're trying to do with the banter - it's just that you're not quite pulling it off.
Also, along with including more detail in your descriptions, I think you could be including a lot more chaos too - why just have the truck fly through the air, land, and hit a tree, when you could have it flying, landing, crashing through the porch of the bar sending the two beer drinkers diving for cover, side-swiping buildings and parked cars, taking corners on two wheels... all with Baldy stuck on like he's glued and Zack & Jason mouthing off at each other like they're on a beer run. Potential action/comedy gold (and more room to fit the dialogue so it's believable). I honestly love what (I think) you're going for here, but you need to crank it up to really sell it.
Steve says this isn't the Dukes of Hazzard, but I think maybe it should be. Not literally, of course, but I'm definitely getting some "YEEE-HA!" vibes from it. I say run with that.
Last edited by CalvinCamp; Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 12:00 AM.
There are too many "writers" who say things they don't mean. If you're outside in the woods and are lying down, are you on the floor or on the ground? Semantics? Quite possibly. But it's also a barrier to clarity.
If the view (from inside or outside the truck - it could be done either way) shows the truck half-sideways in relation to the road, shows the driver's hands twisted over hard to one side on the wheel (or maybe one hand hard to the side with the other crossing over and reaching in the midst of a hand-over-hand turn), and shows the body language and expression of the driver to be frantic... then that should sell all the action. In one panel.
Ah... I missed that he was in the back. For some reason I pictured him in the cab and fighting with Baldy through the window.Truck DO have floors, when you're inside of it. This character was in the back of the truck, fighting. Since he did a pisspoor job of describing the truck, I'm assuming it's a pickup, not a supercab. This puts the combatants in the bed of the truck. That's what he's picking himself up from.
Which brings up a different point... I'm really not sure having them in the back works very well. They'll need something to hang onto to make the action work. And it makes the banter with Jason inside the truck not work very well either. I'd say stick Zack in the cab and have Baldy punching him through the window - Baldy could be in the back hanging onto a roll bar, or on the side standing on a running board and hanging onto the mirror. I think the whole thing would play better that way.
Sure. He's getting up off the bed, not the floor. You're right to correct that. Except that you didn't.There are too many "writers" who say things they don't mean. If you're outside in the woods and are lying down, are you on the floor or on the ground? Semantics? Quite possibly. But it's also a barrier to clarity.
Did the writer know that it's not called a floor? Heck, maybe some people do call it the floor of the box, for all I know. Why not just tell the guy that it's "bed" not "floor" when talking about the back of a truck? Simply saying something is wrong without saying what would be right is also a barrier to clarity. Now obviously you can't correct and rewrite extensively to show the right way to do everything. But simply correcting a botch in terminology? How hard would that have been?
Oh, absolutely not as good as it could be. And I'd do the panel differently (probably combining with the view of Baldy lying on the ground bleeding) if I were writing it. But I do like what he's reaching for with the dialog. If he can manage to actually grasp it, it could be really good. But I agree it's not there yet. There are a few good lines though, and that was one of them IMO.That's because you admittedly enjoyed this dialogue. I'm not a fan of it. Not coupled with the action/panel descriptions given. Not enough to make me want to claw my eyes out or anything, and better than some, but on a whole, not as good as it could be.
The reason you pictured them in the back of the cab is a question of clarity. There is precious little of it in this script. Why do you think I said that they should have fallen out with the tire?
Now, if Patrick comes in and says that they're fighting in the back of the cab, I'm going to call 'shenanigans' all over the place, throw the bullshit flag, and give him a five script penalty.
My job is to edit, not do the work for the writer. If they don't know something, that's what the internet, the library, and your local mechanic is for. Hell, you could probably ask your Uncle Jake "what's the back of a truck called?" and get the proper answer. Getting the information yourself gives you a much better chance of retaining it, rather than someone just handing you the answers.
Clarity, folks, is your biggest ally when writing a script. Not all of your artists are going to speak English as a first language. They may barely speak it. They may speak it well enough to get by, but reading it could be a bitch.
Then there's the other way: they speak English just fine, but are from a different country, where the same word means something a little different. If I'm not mistaken, a stroller/baby carriage is called a lolly in Australia. (Yes, I could be pretty wrong about this.) But that same lolly in America means a lollipop. Even in the USA, someone can ask you for a pop, and if you hit them, they'll be pissed off because they asked for a soda.
This is just another reason for you to strive for clarity with all of your scripts. You don't know who you're getting, or where they are coming from. The more clear you are in your writing, the less of a chance you have for misinterpretation, which leads to mistakes that can only be fixed by redrawing. Too many of those, and you could lose your artist.
Clarity. It's what's for dinner.
I'm only arguing with your statement that it's a moving panel. There may be an echoing lack of description explaining how the panel is to be composed in order to show the actions, but that's not the same as the actions being impossible to show. What was said wasn't different from my interpretation because nothing was said. All I did was describe how the actions could be shown - a description which was, absolutely, lacking from the original.
I really wasn't sure why you said that, though it seemed odd at the time. I could see Baldy likely falling off, and assumed that's what you meant. Or that you were picturing Zack hanging farther out the side than I was.The reason you pictured them in the back of the cab is a question of clarity. There is precious little of it in this script. Why do you think I said that they should have fallen out with the tire?
It's hardly the only thing you've said that's confused me.
That doesn't correct it, that just says it's wrong.Except I did correct it when I said that floors are inside structures.
Actually the back of a truck is called a box, unless it's a flatbed. The bed is only the "floor" of the box. The middle is called a cab, both inside and out. The front is the front, or front-end (consisting of fenders, grill, and hood) - assuming we're not talking about a cab-over pickup, which would be unlikely.I know next to nothing about cars, but I know that the back of a truck is called a bed, and the inside front is called a cab. This should be common knowledge, and if it isn't, then research is in order.
It's not always so easy to know what you don't know. I spot blunders even in the work of best-selling novelists all the time. People often think they know something, but really don't. I guess that's why it seemed like something I'd assume was a misunderstanding of the terminology rather than not bothering to do research he knew he needed, or lazy writing. Hard to say from here though.
And not really relevant anyway, since, when I originally commented, I thought he was getting up from the floor of the cab.
Okay. I can see that. It seems reasonable, probably even appropriate for the scope of the column.Getting the information yourself gives you a much better chance of retaining it, rather than someone just handing you the answers.
But it raises a question... Would it be the same if someone were to hire you as an editor? If some technical aspect like that was incorrect, and you knew how to correct it, would you tell them how to correct it, or would you simply tell them they were wrong and let them figure it out for themselves?
And that would hold true when editing one also, right? Because the only reason I beat you up on some of this stuff (like the moving panels) is because you've said something that doesn't make any sense.Clarity, folks, is your biggest ally when writing a script.
Yumm.Clarity. It's what's for dinner.
This is a moving panel. To show that the character's lost control of the vehicle your going to need at least 2 panels to do this.I'm only arguing with your statement that it's a moving panel. There may be an echoing lack of description explaining how the panel is to be composed in order to show the actions, but that's not the same as the actions being impossible to show. What was said wasn't different from my interpretation because nothing was said. All I did was describe how the actions could be shown - a description which was, absolutely, lacking from the original.
Think about it, think about scenes in movies where a character lost control of a car, or maybe you've lost control of your own car at some point.
Personally, I would slam the wheel to the left, probably cursing loudly, then slam the wheel all the way to the right, cursing loudly again. You could supplement this with slamming on the breaks, shifting gears, etc. The point is, you're going to need at least 2 panels to show this.
Taking your solution just at its art, you're going to cram all of this into one panel of six on a page? Action going on in the foreground, him being freaked out because he thinks/realizes he's lost control of the car, and detail going on in the background, showing the truck in relation to the road? No.If the view (from inside or outside the truck - it could be done either way) shows the truck half-sideways in relation to the road, shows the driver's hands twisted over hard to one side on the wheel (or maybe one hand hard to the side with the other crossing over and reaching in the midst of a hand-over-hand turn), and shows the body language and expression of the driver to be frantic... then that should sell all the action. In one panel.
In summation, this one frame as cramped as it is does not show that someone's fully lost control of the car.
Although I think it could be done (albeit not well) it most definitely should be done in two panels. It just makes sense, especially for a six panel page as Adam says, a 7th panel shouldn't be a problem at all.