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Thread: TPG: Week 34- Jon Parrish

  1. StevenForbes Guest

    TPG: Week 34- Jon Parrish

    Hello, and welcome back to The Proving Grounds! Our Brave One this week is new to us. Here's hoping he sticks around, puts in the work, and gets better. Okay, let's see what Jon Parrish has to offer!

    Further From The Sun

    Chapter 1

    By: Jon H. Parrish

    [Page 1][3 Panels]

    Panel 1: An establishing shot of Haven City’s skyline against a blue sky with a few dark clouds. There are several skyscrapers, but two of them stand out. One is blockshaped. The other has a small point at the top similar to the Empire State building. The city is a coastal city, reminiscent of San Diego or San Francisco and the ocean should be in the foreground if possible.(What time of day is it?)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Welcome to Haven City, a.k.a the Emerald City. (Comma.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Take it all in now, because this is the last time you'll see it like this. (Comma.)

    Panel 2: An upward from behind shot of Joseph Shaw Jr. staring up at a large statue. The statue should be a black stone or metal and depict a young, afro-sporting BLACK SUN standing with his arms crossed. The statue should be a little larger than life sized. In the background, we can see one large skyscraper. (No. You have to re-establish where this is at. Is it in front of a museum? A busy city street? And what's Joe wearing? What time of day is it? What's the weather like? If you answer these questions beforehand, you won't have to worry about answering them later.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): This is a statue of the city’s greatest hero, also know as Black Sun. Joseph Shaw Sr. to his friends. (Comma, and take out the aka. It's not needed. Then add the period.)

    Panel 3: A medium shot of Joseph in a black, hooded jacket with the hood up standing on the sidewalk. He’s standing and looking up at the statue with his hands in his pockets. No one else seems to be paying attention. He should also have a bruise on his cheek. (This should be a reversed view, more from the statue's point of view. This would be easier to say than the way you have it here.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): I called him Dad.

    CAP (JOSEPH) 2:Though his cape and costume days are far behind him.(This entire line lessens the impact of the one previous. However, I'd add more panels to this first page, to let the concept breathe some more before getting to this particular line. Right now, it comes too fast with only three panels.)


    [Page 2][5 Panels]

    Panel 1: An from behind shot of a much older Black Sun working in a garden. There should be flowers and roses. He should be a large muscular man, but now his hair is a dark gray. The background, we can see a white picket fence.(What's he wearing? Is he in uniform? Civvies?)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Like most of the older set, Dad stepped out of the way for the “young bucks”.(Period needs to be moved inside the quotation marks.)

    Panel 2: A shot of a TIMELESS magazine with DARK STAR reaching out to save a kitten from a tree. The title should read “Great Power, Great Heart”.(Does this take up the full panel, or is it laying on a table somewhere? Be more specific.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Like my younger brother, JEREMIAH. (Comma.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Pictured here with the only pussy he’ll ever get his hands on. (Okay, this takes the reader out of the story somewhat. You're already putting a barrier between the reader and the characters with the captions. Why take them completely out of the story by mentioning a magazine that the narrator obviously cannot see because we last saw them on the street, looking at a statue? Clean this up and place the objects correctly within a panel description, and I won't have to beat you up about it.)

    Panel 3: A from behind shot of Joseph looking at the magazine at a newsstand. It should be in front of an office building. The owner of the newsstand should be leaning out and looking at Joseph with an annoyed look. (See this? If you had placed it better beforehand, or at least given an inkling of where the magazine was at, then this wouldn't be so striking.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Sorry, that was totally uncalled for.

    OWNER: Does this look like a library to you? Buy it or beat it! (For looking at a magazine? Is he holding it? Is he doing anything besides just standing there?
    The panel description above doesn't give rise to this reaction.)


    CAP (JOSEPH): But it’s true.

    Panel 4: A downward shot of Joseph, tossing the magazine as he walks away from the news stand into the building behind it. (No. There are several problems with this. First, you've already placed the newsstand to be in front of the building. In order for the so far unnamed guy to walk away, he has to go either left or right. In order for him to walk into the building behind the newsstand, he has to first leave it, basically going around the stand. That's not what you said. And lastly, in order for him to toss the magazine to the side, he has to first be holding it, and to toss it aside, he has to pay for it. He doesn't do any of that. This is bad storytelling.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): Of course, I can’t talk.

    OWNER: Hey!(This doesn't make sense if he's already past the stand.)

    Panel 5: A shot of Joseph walking in through the door. It should read Dr.
    ANDREW WARREN- PSYCHIATRIST.(How large is this building? Are we now inside a corridor, or are we outside the building and about to go in? Placement, Jon. Describe what you see.)

    CAP (JOSEPH): I’m just as screwed up as he is…(This is just a little too on the nose. Just a tad. And who's he talking to? He has to be talking to someone. This is the problem I have with internal monologues. He's telling himself things he already knows?)


    [Page 3][5 Panels]

    Panel 1: A side shot of Joseph and Doctor Warren in his office. Joseph is lying on a psychiatrist's couch. His hood is now down to reveal dreadlocks and more bruises on his face. Doctor Warren is sitting in a large chair facing the couch and holding a small pad. It is a modest office with a dark blue rug. We can see plaques and a couple bookcases in the background against the wall behind the couch. (If Dr. Warren is a recurring character, you'll hopefully have a character design for him. Otherwise, what does he look like?)

    CAP (JOSEPH): If not more so.

    JOSEPH: …and the next thing I know, he's on the ground and I have teeth embedded in my fist.

    DR. WARREN: Joseph, I’ll admit I am disappointed.(Finally. Three pages to get his name in here. Not bad, but it could be a tad better. And this is just a tad stilted. If the doc talks like this, that's fine. Just make sure you keep him speaking that way.)

    JOSEPH 2: Why?

    Panel 2: A medium shot of Dr. Warren with his hands folded on his lap. (Why is he the focus of this panel? This makes no sense to me.)

    DR. WARREN: You goaded that gang member into attacking you.

    JOSEPH (op): It isn't like I go looking for trouble.

    DR. WARREN 2: Actually...

    Panel 3: A side shot of Joseph sitting upright.

    DR. WARREN (op): It is my belief that you put yourself in that situation to prove something.

    JOSEPH: And that is?

    Panel 4: A downward shot of Dr. Warren reaching for a glass of water on his desk. (Placement. Suddenly, this glass of water is there. It's magically delicious. Mention it earlier, and say how close things are if you're going to have people do things like this. Everything has to make sense, Jon.)

    DR. WARREN: Tell me, what was it like growing up as the son of the city’s greatest hero…

    Panel 5: A shot of Joseph looking over at Dr. Warren.

    DR. WARREN (op): With no powers of your own?

    JOSEPH: How do you think? (If your denouement for this page was the previous line, then this line takes away from that power. Pacing. It's a difficult thing to learn. The previous line also makes it a good page turn.)


    [Page 4][6 Panels]

    Panel 1: A shot of Joseph shrugging.(A shrug cannot be shown as a complete movement. This is a moving panel.)

    JOSEPH: My father pretty much ignored me because of it, and I spent a majority of my childhood thinking there was something wrong with me.(Comma.)

    Panel 2: A side shot of Dr. Warren he looks a little saddened. (This is a run-on sentence. And again, why are we on the doctor?)

    JOSEPH (op): Though he did give me his name.

    JOSEPH 2 (op): In this city, the name Joseph Shaw means something.

    Panel 3: A shot of Joseph sitting back down. (When did he ever get up? You have him sitting up, but not standing up. Watch your placement.)

    JOSEPH: But all I ever wanted was a father who gave a shit.

    Panel 4: A shot of Joseph looking over at Dr. Warren.

    JOSEPH: Is that what you wanted to hear? That I have “daddy issues”?

    DR. WARREN: Well, yes. (Shouldn't he already know that, as his doctor?)

    DR. WARREN 2: And no.

    Panel 5: A shot of Dr. Warren from Joseph’s perspective.

    DR. WARREN: While this behavior does stem from you relationship with your father, I believe a large deal of this is a self-inflicted punishment...

    Panel 6: A shot of Joseph with his head down in defeat.

    DR. WARREN: For failing to save your mother. (Another good last line.)


    [Page 5][4 Panels]



    Panel 1: A downward shot of a younger Joseph, skinnier and with the beginnings of dreadlocks, cradling his mother, who is in her costume but covered in blood and beaten. They are in the middle of a street and surrounded by a crowd of people. Joseph should look shocked with tears running down his cheeks. (What time of day is it?)

    CAP (DR. WARREN): Joseph? (Quotation marks.)

    Panel 2: A shot of his mother looking up at him and smiling weakly. She is missing a few teeth.

    Panel 3: A shot of Joseph holding her body which has now gone limp. Joseph is looking up at something off panel.

    Panel 4: A shot of a shadowy figure standing at a broken window looking down at Joseph. All we can see are the figure's pink eyes and a the outline of her shape.(Again, time of day. This will determine whether or not you can have this outline. Unless it's a power, I'm seeing it as a black shape because of shadows. During the daytime, there isn't enough shadow to really cause this. Too much ambient light.)

    CAP (DR. WARREN): Joseph? (Quotation marks.)


    Okay, that's where I'm going to stop.

    This script has some problems, the first of which are the panel descriptions.
    The panel descriptions need work. They're either misplaced, or not explaining enough in the proper panel. This leads to a “skipping” effect that's not good. It also leads to things being what I call “magically delicious,” such as the glass of water on the desk, and Joe suddenly standing. These get in the way of the artist telling the story, because they no longer know who's supposed to be doing what.

    The other thing is your pacing. So far, the story you're telling is quite personal and intimate, however, the pace you've set is a bit too fast. For action, that's fine, but if you're doing intimate stuff, you need to be aware of the beats of your storytelling. Right now, you're not aware of it. Twice, you've tried to kill your pacing with an extra line of dialogue that didn't necessarily belong. That's not helping you.

    The dialogue is okay. Other than a few things here and there, I have no real problem with it. A quick polish, so far, is all it needs. You don't overcrowd the panels with words, and they get to the heart of the matter pretty quickly. You're revealing character as well as pushing the story forward. Keep that up.
    Now, the only bad thing about the dialogue are the extra lines and the telling and showing you do. Get those under control, and you'd be on a nice path.


    Okay, that's it for this week. Check the list to see who's next, and let's discuss this.



  2. JonHParrish Guest

    As I said in my e-mail, this was a humbling experience, but I really can't argue with your points. There were times when I read them and almost immediately went, "how the hell did I miss that?". But, I appreciate this because now I know what I need work on in this as well as my other scripts. Thanks again and I hope that as I turn in scripts, my work only improves.



  3. Dungbeetle Guest

    Bonjour Jon. Just a thought, but maybe the whole thing would run a bit smoother if, at the start, instead of the narration being directed at us, the reader (i.e. beyond the 4th wall) it might be an idea to have the sequence with the statue and the magazine voiced over by Joseph as he's talking to his shrink, the captions are spoken ones rather than straight up narration. Then, cut out of it, and straight back to the shrink asking his first question, BANG we understand the context of Joseph's rant.

    If instead of Joseph saying "this is a statue of..." you use an extra panel to show a close-up of the statue's plaque, with an accompanying caption from Joseph's therapy mentioning something about his dad, maybe even jimmy in the "all I ever wanted was a dad that gave a shit" as a caption - . Then cut to the office with the next line. These are all suggestions and I'm by no means an expert, but placing suggestive captions alongside the appropriate pictures seems a better way of creating intrigue than talking directly to the reader and exposing the father-son connection straight off the bat.

    Also, it might be worth having the shrink say everything as a leading question, rather than making statements. Remember, they're private businessmen who exist to make money, not benevolent mentors. Unless we're talking the loveable Hollywood Billy Crystal type shrink, or Ben Kingsly in the Wackness, i.e. the new age "only into psychology because of how ****ed up he is" type shrink. Steve, maybe that should be the next horror topic in B&N - Shrink tropes?
    Last edited by Dungbeetle; Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 12:44 PM.



  4. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Panel 3: A medium shot of Joseph in a black, hooded jacket with the hood up standing on the sidewalk. He’s standing and looking up at the statue with his hands in his pockets. No one else seems to be paying attention. He should also have a bruise on his cheek. (This should be a reversed view, more from the statue's point of view. This would be easier to say than the way you have it here.)
    I'm not sure I'd do a full reverse view here. Maybe a 3/4, looking back at Joseph, with part of the statue still in frame. I think it would be more compelling than just a straight shot on Joseph, from the statue's POV.

    CAP (JOSEPH) 2:Though his cape and costume days are far behind him.(This entire line lessens the impact of the one previous. However, I'd add more panels to this first page, to let the concept breathe some more before getting to this particular line. Right now, it comes too fast with only three panels.)
    I agree that the last line should be bumped ahead. But I think any panels that get added (though I'm not entirely sure I agree any really need to be), should be added before this one, not after. "I called him Dad," is a pretty good line to end the page on.

    Panel 1: An from behind shot of a much older Black Sun working in a garden. There should be flowers and roses. He should be a large muscular man, but now his hair is a dark gray. The background, we can see a white picket fence.(What's he wearing? Is he in uniform? Civvies?)
    Meh. I think it's pretty obvious from the context and from the earlier statement that "his cape and costume days are far behind him," that he'd be in civilian clothes. Doesn't hurt to state the obvious though.

    Panel 2: A shot of a TIMELESS magazine with DARK STAR reaching out to save a kitten from a tree. The title should read “Great Power, Great Heart”.(Does this take up the full panel, or is it laying on a table somewhere? Be more specific.)
    This would be a good opportunity to show the magazine in Joseph's hand, to set up the later panels.

    CAP (JOSEPH): Pictured here with the only pussy he’ll ever get his hands on. (Okay, this takes the reader out of the story somewhat. You're already putting a barrier between the reader and the characters with the captions. Why take them completely out of the story by mentioning a magazine that the narrator obviously cannot see because we last saw them on the street, looking at a statue? Clean this up and place the objects correctly within a panel description, and I won't have to beat you up about it.)
    Another panel is needed, prior to this (and prior to the shot of the magazine), showing Joseph stopping at the newstand. Ideally you should have the newstand shown in the background when Joseph is looking at the statue.

    And I don't agree that the captions are a barrier to the reader, but I'll get into that below.

    OWNER: Does this look like a library to you? Buy it or beat it! (For looking at a magazine? Is he holding it? Is he doing anything besides just standing there?
    The panel description above doesn't give rise to this reaction.)
    This is why the set-up of the newstand, and Joseph having the magazine in his hand is critical. If Joseph is handling the merchandise, then the owner's reaction will make more sense.

    Panel 4: A downward shot of Joseph, tossing the magazine as he walks away from the news stand into the building behind it. (No. There are several problems with this. First, you've already placed the newsstand to be in front of the building. In order for the so far unnamed guy to walk away, he has to go either left or right. In order for him to walk into the building behind the newsstand, he has to first leave it, basically going around the stand. That's not what you said. And lastly, in order for him to toss the magazine to the side, he has to first be holding it, and to toss it aside, he has to pay for it. He doesn't do any of that. This is bad storytelling.)
    The only thing that's really wrong with this specific panel is that it's a moving panel. All the other problems that this panel highlights, are shortcomings of the previous panels. There's no set-up for it. Set it up properly and split the panel into two (one showing him tossing the magazine as he starts to walk away, and a second showing him walking into the building beyond it) and it'll work. He certainly doesn't have to have paid for it before tossing it back on the counter - the owner's reaction earlier makes it pretty clear that he hasn't paid for it.

    OWNER: Hey!(This doesn't make sense if he's already past the stand.)
    I'm not sure I agree. If the owner's already ticked off because Joseph is standing around handling the magazine without buying it, it makes sense that he's further ticked off when Joseph just tosses it on the counter and walks away.

    CAP (JOSEPH): I’m just as screwed up as he is…(This is just a little too on the nose. Just a tad. And who's he talking to? He has to be talking to someone. This is the problem I have with internal monologues. He's telling himself things he already knows?)
    Here's where I'm going to gripe about the "reader disconnect" thing. It's crap. The "who is he talking to" and "he's telling himself things he already knows" comments are, in my opinion, completely silly. It's not an internal monologue. He's not thinking. He's not talking to himself. He's talking to the reader. That's how first person narration works. First person narration is a common, accepted, and popular method of storytelling. It's done all the time (it's particularly common in mystery novels, but you can find it anywhere). It's not a barrier to the reader unless the reader has a personal dislike of first person narration - which Steven apparently does (and that's fine - as long as it's understood that he's making a highly subjective judgement in saying it's wrong).

    The only valid argument I can see against it (other than when it's done in a poor or inconsistent manner) is that it can kill the suspense if the reader is supposed to believe the character is in danger of dying. Even then it's only a valid argument if the story is not part of an ongoing series with a recurring character, where it's generally a given that the character will survive (and also only if the character is actually going to be depicted as in danger of death, which isn't always going to be the case). Even then, real-time narration (where the character is speaking to the reader as the events unfold - and reacting to those events within the narration, as they happen) can avoid the problem.

    So, basically, it's only wrong if it's done wrong. And I don't see where this was particularly done wrong (though it will be important to keep it up as you go through the story).

    Panel 1: A shot of Joseph shrugging.(A shrug cannot be shown as a complete movement. This is a moving panel.)
    I completely disagree. Walking can't be shown as a complete movement either, but you can show it at a frozen point during the movement. Same thing with a shrug. If in doubt, do a Google image search for "shrugging" - you'll get a few thousand examples of shrugs caught in still images.

    How are you going to make it clear to the reader that this is a flashback? You could probably leave the method up to the artist, but he'll still need to know if you want something to visually indicate a flashback.

    ---
    Overall, the biggest problem I have with this script is the premise. I'm not sure it works very well within the superhero genre. The son of a superhero who goes out and looks for trouble, even though he has no powers... I can totally see it. Going out and looking for trouble is what comic book heroes do. Not having powers just makes him seem like more of a hero. So I'm not sure I can see him being in therapy, all torn up over doing it. Sure it's crazy and self-destructive, but it's his motivation for being a hero. Getting all angsty over it has the danger of seeming like a gimmick. You may be able to get past that, but I think it'll be a tough sell. You're going to have to show this obsession as really, seriously, endangering and screwing up this guy's life (proving to the reader that Joseph really wants and needs to stop playing the hero - and doing so right up front) to make it work. If you can pull that off, it could be really cool though, so I do wish you the best of luck with it.

    As for the pacing... I think Steven is dead on when he talks about where you've sabotaged your page turns with dialogue that should be bumped to the next page. But I'm not sure I agree that you need to slow the overall pacing down much, if at all. Intimate and personal is not something you want to rush, by any means. But it's awfully easy to make it drag, if you're not careful. I guess what I'm saying is... don't add panels just to add panels, or make it take longer to read. Only add panels if they really mean something.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 11:33 PM.



  5. JonHParrish Guest

    Dungbeetle- Wow, that was something I was thinking about. I wasn't too sure it would work, but the way you said it might just make the story flow a little better. Plus it would help in taking out all of the fluff. Thanks for the look as well as the input. It is greatly appreciated.

    Madelf- I like the fact that you had a lot to say. Thank you for taking the time to give an in-depth opinion. I'm actually really glad you pointed out that part about Joseph going out and looking for trouble. That part needs to be removed and I'm planning on doing it. In the story, that is the only time it is mentioned or even hinted at. He never does anything to endanger himself, in fact he does the opposite, I'm re-evaluating Joseph's character and doing the interview so that he will make more sense. He is overly angsty and I doubt readers would care about him at this point.

    I also have a lot of work to do when it comes to pacing, but I'm going to keep at it. Thanks for your input. It's nice to see a familiar face from DW.



  6. BarriLang Guest

    See I like the fact that he went looking for trouble.

    It's a young guy desperately seeking his father’s approval... but an extreme case of that. I don't think he'd do it for the good of mankind or the girls, he'd do it so his father would "give a shit" I think this could much deeper than a hero story. And I say stick to the "looking for trouble"

    I'm not saying he should pick fights and try and take on super villains but defo a vigilante (and therefore a criminal) a nice twist would be that he becomes the villain and is tracked by his brother (who he obviously resents)

    Don't make it a hero story. "Turn it on it's ear" and make it a villain story.



  7. Dungbeetle Guest

    Word to Mr. Lang. Heroes are so passe.
    Perhaps he doesn't realize he's the bad guy, and big bro following in daddy's footsteps isn't that much better, but he's the sanctioned superhero so he gets the public support, celebrity status etc. while Joseph is regarded as a tearaway and no good. If you explored that sibling rivalry thing you could end up with quite a nutty little media freakshow going on and everyone egging them on to fight eachother, in a Natural Born Killers way. Look at the showboating that used to go on between Ali and Foreman - they were buddies but they really played up in front of the camera.

    Nothing wrong with angsty, but unfocussed anger is a more interesting trait for an action comic than introspective angst, right? One thing I've always thought about caption narration is that it suits reflective introverted characters well but doesn't make much sense for men of action. Unless your dealing with the short sharp cold logic of Rorschach or the likes. It's just a case of being consistent, or if you do decide to change the viewpoint, be clear about it otherwise it's confusing as hell.



  8. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by JonHParrish View Post
    Madelf- I like the fact that you had a lot to say.
    Oh, I've always got a lot to say (ask anybody). Just be careful how much stock you put in it.

    And you're welcome. I hope some of it helped.

    I'm actually really glad you pointed out that part about Joseph going out and looking for trouble. That part needs to be removed and I'm planning on doing it. In the story, that is the only time it is mentioned or even hinted at. He never does anything to endanger himself, in fact he does the opposite, I'm re-evaluating Joseph's character and doing the interview so that he will make more sense. He is overly angsty and I doubt readers would care about him at this point.
    I actually thought the going out and looking for trouble angle was pretty good. It was just the idea of him doing it and then beating himself up over it that seemed iffy to me (and not so much as an inherently bad idea, just an idea that needed careful handling and presentation). If he's not messing up his life by playing hero, though, it makes me curious what the story actually is going to be about.



  9. JonHParrish Guest

    I see what everyone is saying with the whole Joseph going bad thing and it has made me sit back and re-evaluate what I want to happen with the story, I've decided to try to stick with the outline I've worked out. Like I told Steven in my e-mail, I never wrote out outlines for stories, I just kept the timeline in my head and because of that I would deviate constantly. So I think with this, I'm going to stick with the outline that I have written.

    I did, however, like the vigilante angle and I am going to use it, but just not in the way that you think and in a way that won't completely change my outline. I also realize after looking at the script for the second chapter that Joseph is not represented well in this story. In the subsequent stories, he's sarcastic, but his mood is a lot lighter than in this. I re-read it and realized that he does not have any of his humor in these first pages (except for the pussy line talking about the magazine cover, i thought that was funny). I've gotten a better feel of what his character is like and hopefully my re-write will reflect that. Thanks again, I really enjoy hearing you input and ideas. I hope you don't think I blew them off. Trust me, I have all sorts of gears going double time from all of the things people wrote. Thanks again.



  10. Dungbeetle Guest

    Coming back to the whole "why does he see a therapist if he's a troubleseeker" thing Calvin brought up, maybe he's been seeing the shrink way before he ever decided to try to man up and make dad proud. Maybe talking about it and analysing it has made him even more determined to go looking for trouble. Maybe he only goes there to talk because he's a bit of a loner and it's a neutral ear to talk to. The relationship between Josh Peck and Ben Kingsley's characters in the movie The Wackness is worth a look at. It's a completely different story but a good example of someone seeing a shrink not necessarily because they accept they need therapy but because they just want someone to talk to. Tony Soprano was in a similar situation too, and that relationship has now been ripped off in countless "gangster/hardman reluctantly goes to see therapist" movies.



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