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Thread: TPG: Week 43 - James Fairlie

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    TPG: Week 43 - James Fairlie

    This week we have something from James Fairlie. Let's see how he does.

    Page 1 (6 panels)

    PANEL 1

    Wide shot of a block of tenement flats in an affluent inner city area (it was probably rough 20 years ago, but has since filled up with yuppies who want to live in the “real” city). It is still mid-afternoon and overcast. A van is parked at the corner. Two muscular men in black suits are standing outside the door of one of the ground floor flats. All the lamp posts have “Canivan for Mayor” and “Vote Strang” placards on them.

    SFX: KNOCK KNOCK

    I think you should mention that one of the men is knocking, so that SFX makes sense.

    PANEL 2

    Wide low shot of a messy living room. There are papers everywhere and one of the walls is covered in photos of a dead girl taken from various angles. There are 3 doors along one wall. The front door is behind the camera. Harry “Old Man” Tanner is walking across the room carrying a mug of coffee.

    What do you mean by “papers”? Old newspapers? Police files? Be specific.

    You’re not describing your characters at all, so that means you have a separate set of character descriptions you’re going to provide your artist. You do have that, right?

    Yep, sort of… I found the cast of characters you tacked on at the end, but I think you still ought to give a little more input on what some of them look like (unless you’ve worked it out with your artist that the look of the characters is up to him/her).


    SFX: KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK

    HARRY: HOLD YOUR HORSES, I'M ON MY WAY. (That comma should be a period)


    PANEL 3

    Medium shot of Harry unlocking one of the many locks on his from (front) door.

    SFX: KNOCK KNOCK

    SFX: (lock) CHUCK


    PANEL 4

    Harry had opened the door. The men in black suits from panel 1 are on the other side. One of the men in black has just punched Harry in the face. He is falling backwards towards the camera, still holding his coffee mug so that it is in the foreground of the panel, with the coffee about to spill out. From this angle we can see that it has “40 years of service” written on it.

    SFX: THUCK!


    PANEL 5

    Wide shot of Harry being bundled into the back of the van from panel one by the men in black suits. He has dropped his mug by the curb. In the background we can see Simon standing, looking on, but the guys in the suits seem not to notice him.

    Since it reappears later in the comic, you should specify that the mug remains intact.


    Panel 6

    Medium shot of Harry sitting in the back of the van, which is empty except for him, and only lit by a small flame in the palm of his hand.

    HARRY: (mutter) HURRUMPH! WHERE ARE THE POLICE WHEN YOU NEED THEM?

    What kind of van is this? I was picturing a typical passenger van where the rear cargo/passenger area is open to the front. This description seems to indicate something different. (unless “van” has a different meaning in the UK, but it still needs clarifying if you use a US artist)



    Page 2 (6 Panels)


    PANEL 1

    High wide establishing shoe (shot) of a convenience store sitting isolated in its own car park. It is autumn, mid-afternoon and slightly overcast. The doors of the store are closed, and the windows are blocked by displays, so there is no way to see what is happening inside. There are various, “Canivan for Mayor” and “Vote Strang” posters plastered on the front of the building. Two police cars are screeching to a halt in the car park leaving tire marks on the asphalt, along with a faint smoke.

    CAP: THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS THAT'LL PROBABLY CROSS YOUR MIND WHEN YOU HAVE A GUN POINTED AT YOU (YOUR) HEAD.

    SFX: SCKREEE!!

    PANEL 2

    Similar angle, but slightly closer. (period) Two police officers have come out of each car and are standing behind the doors for cover, pointing their guns at the store doors with their backs to us. Sgt. Diana Swanson and Sgt. Daniel Black are by the car to the right, Sgt. Blake Carter and Sgt. Clare Baker are by the one to the left. Daniel is holding a megaphone to his mouth, and still has his gun holstered.

    Do you actually want them standing behind the doors, or crouching behind them for maximum cover?

    CAP: WHERE YOUR LIFE'S BEEN.

    DANIEL(elec): THIS IS THE POLICE. COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS RAISED.


    PANEL 3

    Medium shot of Diana still standing where she was in the last panel. From this angle we can see that she has a disgruntled expression.

    DIANA: SCREW THIS. ITS (apostrophe) PROBABLY ANOTHER BLOODY FALSE ALARM.


    PANEL 4

    Wider shot of Diana running towards the store looking determined. We can see the other officers in the background, standing where they were, though Clare is now leaning out form behind the door. Blake looks confused, Clare looks angry and a little surprised. Daniel doesn't seem to care.

    CAP: WHERE YOU'D HAVE LIKED IT TO GO.

    CLARE: WHAT THE...

    If we can see where she’s headed, it means we’re at least somewhat behind her, so you won’t get much of an expression for “determined”. Since we would also have to be behind the other cops, we won’t be able to see their expressions either.

    What you want to do here, so you can get the expression in, is not show the store in the shot. Just call Diana out as running toward the camera, with the other cops, and their cars, in the background. The reader should be able to recall where the cars (and cops) were facing, and will know she’s running toward the store.


    PANEL 5

    Medium shot from just inside the store of Diana kicking open the door. (period) She is still holding her gun, but has it pointed at the ceiling.


    Page 2 (continued)

    PANEL 6

    Close up of the end of a barrel of a revolver, which is pointing straight at the viewer.

    CAP: BUT THIS TIME I ONLY HAVE ONE THING ON MY MIND...

    No. If we’re pulled back far enough to tell this is a revolver, we’re seeing more than the end of the barrel. We’re probably seeing the hand holding it and part of a sleeve. Even if you could hide enough to conceal the person, this only works if Diana’s gun was also a revolver (making this a good time to note that you never specified what type of guns the cops had – I would have probably assumed semi-automatics). This is a cute trick you’re trying to pull, but it’s not going to work. And you don’t need it. You can just drop this panel, move the dialogue up, and end this page on Panel 5.

    Page 3 (1 Panel)

    PANEL 1

    Splash page. Wide shot of the interior of the store, from just behind and to the side of Diana who is standing inside the door. The store is laid out in a pretty standard way, with the cash desk to our left. There are two robbers, both male. The first one, who is standing in close to the door, is wearing ripped jeans and a white t-shirt, has bright red skin and is pointing the aforementioned revolver at Diana's head. The other is standing behind the counter has normal skin and is holding the store terrified clerk (“terrified store clerk”) by the neck with his left hand. He has no right hand as such, rather his arm has elongated into a sharp point. He is dressed similarly to the other perp. Both look like they mean business. The cash register is open, though you may not be able to see that from this angle. Diana is still pointing her gun upwards, and although we can't see her face, her body language suggests a sudden and rather expected loss of confidence.

    CAP: “DON'T SOIL YOUSELF...”

    CAP: “NOT IN FRONT OF YOUR COLLEAGUES...”

    SFX(from revolver): CLICK

    Is that click supposed be the hammer being pulled back? If so, you should note, in the description, that it’s happening. That’ll make sure the robber’s thumb gets placed correctly.

    TITLE: Augmented...................... Chapter 1: We Are All Human Beans


    Page 4 (panels)

    PANEL 1

    Similar angle to before, but we are slightly further back. Clare is jumping into, (no comma) Diana, (comma) throwing them both to the floor under a hail of gun fire. Neither perp has moved, but both now wear expressions of shock.

    CAP: “YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING ELSE TO LIVE DOWN.”

    SFX(from revolver): BANG! BAGN! (BANG, not BAGN) BANG! BANG!

    If neither perp has moved, where is the hail of gunfire coming from? It doesn’t make a lot of sense for the cops outside to be shooting, with two fellow officers in the line of fire.

    Now I’m going to step out of character for a minute. I’m usually the one defending first-person character narration after Steven bawls someone out for using it (because I like first person narration, if it’s done well). But, this time, I’m going to bawl someone out for using it. But not because it’s inherently bad, or throws up a wall in front of the reader, or I can’t tell who she’s talking to. I’m going to bawl you out for the way you’ve done it.

    I’ve said before that there’s nothing wrong with first-person narration, when it’s done right. But this isn’t done right. You start it up on page two, carry it as far as the first panel here on page four, and then never use it again. I’d let you get away with not starting it until the second page, if it appeared in every scene with Diana and didn’t appear without her. But you didn’t do that. You didn’t use it in any consistent way. You used it for one scene, where you thought it would be cool, and then forgot about it. Forgetting about it is easy - I’ve been guilty of doing it too, but it’s not good. Use the first-person narration consistently, or don’t use it at all.


    PANEL 2

    A close shot of Clare upper-cutting the bright red perp on the chin. He is dropping his gun.

    SXF: THWACK

    You’ve got Clare, the perp, and the dropping gun in one panel. I don’t think that’s a close shot, more like a medium shot.

    PANEL 3

    A medium shot of Clare vaulting over the counter towards to other perp. He has let go of the clerk, and has his sharp arm pointed more towards Clare now, but not all the way.

    This is not a medium shot. It’s a full body shot, if you want us to be able to see her vaulting over a counter.


    PANEL 4

    Medium shot of Clare kneeing the perp with the pointy arm in the gonads. His cheeks and eyes are bulging out with pain. Both his hand and his sharp pointy arm are pointing downwards now. The pointy arm looks a bit more like a normal hand in this panel, as it is morphing into one.


    PERP: OYATCH!

    SFX: GLUTCH

    That SFX sounds a little more like a stabbing than a knee shot, to me.

    I’m also starting to wonder what Diane is doing while Clare is jumping around like a ninja.




    Page 5 (5 Panels)

    PANEL 1

    Quite high wide shot of the interior of the store. The red perp is unconscious on the floor. The other perp writhes in pain behind the counter, the point arm now morphed totally back into a normal hand. Blake is standing in the door, having just arrived too late. Clare is facing Diana, who is just begging (beginning) to pick herself up off the floor. Clare's expression and body language let us know that she is furious.

    CLARE: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT, DIANA?

    CLARE: D'YOU EVER THINK THAT ANSWERING A DISTRESS CALL MIGHT BE A BIT DANGEROUS?

    CLARE: AND WHY WERE YOU JUST LYING THERE, WHILE I DID ALL THE WORK? (no, I don’t want you to add that, but someone had to ask)

    Now you’re probably going to tell me that Clare is super-fast. Then I’m going to tell you that you didn’t sell it (you didn’t even ask your artist to sell it for you). All you did was make Diana seem slow. If you want to convince the reader that Clare is superhumanly fast, you can do it, but there are some tricks you’ll need to use – go pick up a couple Flash comics, and take notes.

    Hmm… looking back at your cast of characters, I see you don’t mention super-speed as being among Clare’s powers. Perhaps I was mistaken there (which really only makes Diana seem even slower). But I find it strange that this scene didn’t spotlight the power that you did list her as having. What’s up with that?



    PANEL 2

    Medium shot of Diana who is now standing and brushing herself off, (comma) looking ashamed, but also somewhat defensive.

    DIANA: THAT WAS THE 5TH CALL WE'VE HAD FROM THIS STORE IN THE LAST MONTH. AND THE ONLY ONE THAT WAS GENUINE.

    DIANA(mumble) UNLESS YOU COUNT THE TIME THE CLERK COULDN'T OPEN A PICKLE JAR.

    What’s she doing with her gun? Does she still have it? Is it on the floor?

    You’re also flirting with a moving panel here, in the way you’re describing it. Do you want her just beginning to get up? Do you want her already standing? It’s not entirely clear what you’re looking for here. The “brushing herself off” you can probably get away with, using some motion lines, but the rest could use some more clarity.



    Panel 3

    Wide shot. Blake still stands at the door looking bewildered. The clerk is now looking more dazed than scared. Clare is still staring daggers at Diana. Daniel has now entered and is now calmly surveying the scene. Diana is in the foreground holstering her gun.

    Why is Blake bewildered? Everything else suggests this is business as usual around Diana.

    CLARE: I SWEAR, YOU'D HAVE NEVER MADE SERGEANT IF THE OLD MAN HADN'T TAKEN A LIKING TO YOU.

    DANIEL: SO DIANA DIDN'T GET ANYONE KILLED THEN?


    PANEL 4

    MEDIUM SHOT OF DANIEL AND THE UNCONSCIOUS RED PERP. HE HAS HIS HANDS IN HIS POCKET(S) AND IS POKING THE PERP WITH HIS FOOT.

    Why did your descriptions suddenly switch to small caps?

    DANIEL: WHY IS IT THAT EVERY AUGMENT IN THE FRICKIN' WORLD THINKS THEY'RE ALL POWERFUL, WHEN ALL THEY CAN DO IS “BE RED”, OR SOME CRAP LIKE THAT?


    PANEL 5

    MEDIUM SHOT OF DANIEL AND DIANA. DANIEL IS LOOKING TOWARDS DIANA, AND SEEMS TO FIND SOMETHING FUNNY. DIANA IS LOOKING AWAY FROM HIM LOOKS MORE GRUMPY THAN SHE DID BEFORE.

    DANIEL: KIND OF REMINDS ME OF SOMEONE, (comma) ACTUALLY.

    I’m going to stop there, because it’s a decent stopping point and the next page begins a new scene.

    Overall, it needs a little work, but holds together pretty well.

    You need to make sure that things you end up needing later (like a large blank wall area near someone’s door) are included the first time you describe a scene - you don’t have to think of them ahead of time, just go back and add them when you do think of them. You need to make sure things you don’t want revealed until later (like the subject of a painting) are specified as being hidden to begin with. You need to work on how you specify your camera shots (close vs medium shot, etc), need to think about what you’re visualizing and describing a little more in some places, decide what you’re doing (or not doing) with the narration. You need to make sure that your logic makes sense to the reader (why does a cop assume the person spray painting a picture on a building, owns the building?). You’ve also got some proof-reading issues that crop up, more so as you get further in - misspellings that spellchecker won’t catch and dropped words in your sentences, commas where there should be periods, etc.

    So, some clean-up and polishing is in definitely in order, but it doesn’t seem to need a whole lot in the way of major structural work. Your overall pacing, I think, is just about perfect - even your quiet moments were well executed. I could generally tell what was going on, and what you wanted from your artist. You had a nice balance of the serious and the absurd, some interesting characters, and the beginnings of a compelling story. And you held my interest all the way through the 15 pages you submitted. I really enjoyed it. Good job.

    Anyone else have any thoughts?



  2. jamesfairlie Guest

    Wow, that was a lot less painful than I expected. That was my first ever attempt at a comic script, so I thought it would be way worse.

    I agree with pretty much everything you said there, so thank you for taking the time to go through it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    I found the cast of characters you tacked on at the end, but I think you still ought to give a little more input on what some of them look like (unless you’ve worked it out with your artist that the look of the characters is up to him/her).
    Good point - I should at least say at the begining of the begining of the script that I put that in at the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    What kind of van is this? I was picturing a typical passenger van where the rear cargo/passenger area is open to the front. This description seems to indicate something different. (unless “van” has a different meaning in the UK, but it still needs clarifying if you use a US artist)
    Woops. I think this is a UK/US thing. I'm pretty shocked stuff like that didn't crop up in every single panel.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    What you want to do here, so you can get the expression in, is not show the store in the shot. Just call Diana out as running toward the camera, with the other cops, and their cars, in the background. The reader should be able to recall where the cars (and cops) were facing, and will know she’s running toward the store.
    Thats exactly what I had in mind. I should have described it better.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    I’ve said before that there’s nothing wrong with first-person narration, when it’s done right. But this isn’t done right
    Yeah, I think you're probably right about that. I came up with the naration before I really knew how the tone of the rest of the script was going to turn out. I may well just get rid of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    Now you’re probably going to tell me that Clare is super-fast. Then I’m going to tell you that you didn’t sell it (you didn’t even ask your artist to sell it for you). All you did was make Diana seem slow. If you want to convince the reader that Clare is superhumanly fast, you can do it, but there are some tricks you’ll need to use – go pick up a couple Flash comics, and take notes.

    Hmm… looking back at your cast of characters, I see you don’t mention super-speed as being among Clare’s powers. Perhaps I was mistaken there (which really only makes Diana seem even slower). But I find it strange that this scene didn’t spotlight the power that you did list her as having. What’s up with that?
    She wan't super fast, but she is now Origonaly in that scene Diana was just being really rubbish, but I think super speed is a better power overall for Clare, and it would make the scene play better.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    You’ve also got some proof-reading issues that crop up, more so as you get further in - misspellings that spellchecker won’t catch and dropped words in your sentences, commas where there should be periods, etc.
    Aaaaaaag! That kind of thing is the bane of my life. At uni I get a special sticker telling the marker I'm super dyslecsic, and to disregard that kind of thing, but I guess that dosn't work when I'm trying to be a writer The reason there are less of them in the first few pages is that John Lees very kindly proof read it for me.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, especialy later in the story where it all gets a bit bogged down in exposition.

    Thank you again for taking the time to do this, it has been very useful indeed.



  3. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfairlie View Post
    At uni I get a special sticker telling the marker I'm super dyslecsic, and to disregard that kind of thing, but I guess that dosn't work when I'm trying to be a writer
    Well, I think it would have to work to some extent. It's not like you can just get over it, so I would think the people you work with will need to work with you, understanding the situation. I mean, things will want to be cleaned up somewhere along the way (at least in the dialogue), but pointing out or correcting errors is an observation, an edit - it shouldn't be a judgment.

    Dyslexia definitely won't make things easier for you as writer, but you shouldn't let it stop you either. Look at Stephen J. Cannell - he's dyslexic. He's also an Emmy Award-winning screenwriter & producer, and a best selling author. He maintains that spelling is not writing, and that he's a writer.



  4. jamesfairlie Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    Well, I think it would have to work to some extent. It's not like you can just get over it, so I would think the people you work with will need to work with you, understanding the situation.
    Maybe partly, but it looks a bit unprofessional. I tend to get somebody else to look over my essays before I hand them in, even if they have the handy sticker on them.

    Talking of spelling errors, my name is spelt "James"
    Last edited by jamesfairlie; Friday, November 13, 2009 at 05:16 PM.



  5. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfairlie View Post
    Talking of spelling errors, my name is spelt "James"
    :eek: Sorry.

    I have no idea where the heck I came up with the idea that you had an "i" in your first name. It's fixed now.



  6. Dungbeetle Guest

    Calvin, you can use a "van" in the UK for transporting passengers, but only if they don't mind a lack of seating. On such occasions, I like to make sure there are enough cable ties and black bags to go around. Sorry I haven't been about to comment much, been at uni trying to pull 3000 word essays on cultural control out of my ass.

    Fairlie - it needs more dead bitches.



  7. jamesfairlie Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Dungbeetle View Post
    Fairlie - it needs more dead bitches.
    Oh, I'm sure I'll get to that.



  8. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Dungbeetle View Post
    Calvin, you can use a "van" in the UK for transporting passengers, but only if they don't mind a lack of seating.
    Yeah, I got that impression.

    We really have entirely too many "vans" over here. We have minivans (for soccer moms to haul their rugrats around), passenger vans, cargo vans (which are just passenger vans without side windows or rear seats, used less for actual cargo and more often by service companies - plumbers, electricians, etc.), conversion vans (passenger vans set up with fancy windows and furniture, sometimes used for camping - those are getting rarer these days, though), and then we have box vans (more of a commercial hauling truck, with a separate cab and a cargo container on the back). The box van sounds more like what you guys are talking about. Of course standard cargo vans can also have partitions built in, that close off the rear area, just to confuse things even more.

    So, yeah... "van" could mean almost anything here.



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