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Thread: Your Own Private Wormhole, Part 2: The Case of the Befuddled Passenger

  1. LeeNordling Guest

    Roberts's grade:

    1. PASS.

    2. FAIL. It does matter which high school and which bingo parlor...but this is you pushing the boundaries again, Roberts, so I must be strict. If a planet with rings wasn't good enough for me with Danial, a high school and bingo parlor do matter...because the assignment specified this. I might've given slack on "Bobby's high school," but you pushed your luck and went generic on bingo parlor.

    NOTE: You continue to ignore the assignment, and even note what you don't think is important AS YOU DO WHAT YOU'VE READ ME REJECT BEFORE.

    Don't.

    You know what the assignment is, and I want you to now imagine that this is a paid gig, and you have purposely ignored one of the few creative restrictions. As your imaginary employer, how do you think I'm feeling right now?

    Do you imagine I'll want to hire you again?

    This is how you should approach all assignments from editors, outside this classroom, and if you can't do that, you won't be working long in this business.

    So I recommend you practice working inside the sandbox here; it'll honestly be for your own good.

    3. PASS. "Give in"???? Narration was part of the assignment, Roberts. If you hadn't done that, it would've been a FAIL. As it was, your idea here was clever.

    One last note on this topic: Roberts, you should consider the idea that you're resisting learning this stuff, that you don't seem to want walk before you run.

    After this week, you'll never have me again to help you with these problems, and if you concentrate more on being experimental than being clear, you'll have less of a level of craft to be clear in the future.

    For heaven's sake, start simple, try different tools, make this stuff natural.

    We are learning to develop a professional level of craft here, and while we all like to experiment, working on the craft is like an artist sketching to learn how to draw.

    And yep, I do appreciate that you're here every week working on this.

    I'm just trying to help stop you getting in your own way.

    --Lee



  2. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by arseneau77 View Post
    I think the problem was/is with our interpretation of the reader knowing 'exactly' where they are. In my example, the reader knew they were exactly in a baseball stadium, but I didn't see any indication prior to my post that specified that they needed to know WHICH stadium they were in (i.e. Yankee stadium in your response).

    I've been following the posts this week and I think others made the same mistake. I'm not saying you weren't clear enough in your instructions, only that I didn't see that qualifier that made reference to a SPECIFIC location, rather than an EXACT location.
    Thanks, Glenn.

    I saw that early on, and agree with you.

    But after requiring specificity of location from you and others, look at how many people just keep resisting this aspect of the assignment.

    It's like they are, at all costs, avoiding the need to write expository dialogue and captions...when (truth is coming folks) to be professional writers you need to be masters of expository dialogue. You need to be so good at it that readers don't even understand that it's expository.

    Still, I agree, that some folks just don't want to be crystal, specifically clear.

    It looks like our first exercise may be our week's exercise.

    --Lee



  3. arseneau77 Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    Thanks, Glenn.

    I saw that early on, and agree with you.

    But after requiring specificity of location from you and others, look at how many people just keep resisting this aspect of the assignment.

    It's like they are, at all costs, avoiding the need to write expository dialogue and captions...when (truth is coming folks) to be professional writers you need to be masters of expository dialogue. You need to be so good at it that readers don't even understand that it's expository.

    Still, I agree, that some folks just don't want to be crystal, specifically clear.

    It looks like our first exercise may be our week's exercise.

    --Lee
    100% agree that after Ronald and I posted, you started specifying that you wanted a specific location and I fully see where I went wrong with mine and realize how to fix it. I can only speak for myself, but for me it was in no way meant as resisting instructions, only that I thought I WAS following instructions (and I see now where I went wrong).

    I wonder if folks are perhaps only reading you initial post for the assignment and getting confused for the same reason we were, rather than reading through all of the posts and seeing where you clarified what you expected?



  4. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by arseneau77 View Post
    100% agree that after Ronald and I posted, you started specifying that you wanted a specific location and I fully see where I went wrong with mine and realize how to fix it. I can only speak for myself, but for me it was in no way meant as resisting instructions, only that I thought I WAS following instructions (and I see now where I went wrong).

    I wonder if folks are perhaps only reading you initial post for the assignment and getting confused for the same reason we were, rather than reading through all of the posts and seeing where you clarified what you expected?
    That might be, Glenn, and that would a shame, because I have seen the discussion often helps folks figure out where they need to improve.

    I look forward to other thoughts.

    Again, thanks.

    --Lee

    PS. And I didn't think you were avoiding the specifics of the assignment, but some seem to either not get it or are spending too much energy trying to find out where the line is drawn in the sand, which is hardly the point of this exercise.

    At some point, each of you will suddenly come to some important part of a story, where the reader needs to understand that a location has changed, and to some specific place.

    There is a tendency among too many writers to not make that clear enough, and suddenly the story goes south for readers.

    The terrible thing is that most of you will never be aware of this, but the impact of your story will have been damaged.

    I read five finished comic pages by a pretty good writer I'm working with. A story he's doing on his own is really his baby; he loves it.

    I was totally lost when reading it.

    TOTALLY.

    I didn't ever know where I was, and then I was somewhere else, and then back to the first place I didn't understand.

    He had some pretty interesting and complicated ideas, ideas I got him to explain to me. I like the ideas.

    He made some fixes to his comic, to help nail down the different locations, and it worked better.

    The problem is that I'd lost objectivity, so it became hard for me to tell whether a fresh eye could follow the story; I suspect they won't be able to.

    All because the writer thought the locations were perfectly clear, as drawn by the artist, and he ruined his story.

    Ruined it.

    And that's why we're spending time here working on each of you making personal evaluations about whether or not you've accomplished your the goal of your assignment. If you can't do it here, you won't be able to do it when it counts...when I won't be there to grade it and give you another chance.

    Lecture's over.

    Let's get back to work.



  5. RonaldMontgomery Guest

    Lee, thanks for your patience. Let me try again.


    One

    Panel 1: Day. A man stands near a small airplane runway at the Mid-America airport in Belleville, Illinois, grinning and waving at a small prop plane taxing on the tarmac.

    1 Caption: Mid-America Airport. Belleville, Illinois.

    Panel 2: Inside the plane a woman smiles and waves back.

    2 Caption: Dan met me on my arrival.


    Two

    Panel 1: A gloomy living room. From the back: a boy sits in a chair, shoulders slumped, in front of a big screen TV. On the TV, the starship Enterprise hurtles through space.

    1 Caption: At the tender age of twelve in my living room...

    Panel 2: We're on the bridge of the Enterprise, like we've stepped through the TV screen. Kirk is fighting off a phaser-armed green-skinned slave girl.

    2 Caption: ...I enlisted in starfleet.


    Three

    Panel 1: The great hall of a bright, gay fairy book castle. A princess fretfully inspects a Pinocchio-ish wooden doll.

    1 Princess: KING BOZO, the castle is empty without your laugh. Until we can break the toymaker's spell --

    Panel 2: That evening in the royal bedchambers; the princess bathes her doll in a small wooden tub on the floor.

    2 Princess: -- I'll never leave your side!



  6. LeeNordling Guest

    Ronald's grade.

    1. FAIL. Apparently you didn't read me rejecting inside the plane in a panel two from an earlier example. However, if the shot is outside the plane showing the same terminal, or in the sky, then it works better. Showing the same airport below might be okay, too...for nailing the point of this assignment.

    Again, I ask EVERYBODY to look at every panel you write and ask, "Is it perfectly clearly stated where this is?" "In a plane" or "in a bathroom" hasn't been accepted anytime it was proposed.

    2. PASS, only because you addressed one of my criticisms. Now, a question: what if the artist can't draw Kirk well? This is okay, but I want you to realize that you are just at the edge of the sandbox, and I'd be a lot happier if you could simply nail this, even with simple captions to hammer home the point.

    Remember, this is about simply nailing the assignment, not necessarily being clever about it, at least not until you can effortlessly get three PASSES without breaking a sweat.

    3. FAIL. How does the reader-passenger know these are the king's bedchambers? From the description only the artist and editor will read? I ask you and others to read my opening statement again; the point here is for you to communicate your intentions to the reader. This third example is a pretty typical example of what too many writers mistakenly do: the description says where it is, but there's nothing in the dialogue, captions, or art that clarifies this.

    Ronald, I ask that you start over, don't change any of these again, and do three of the simplest ones you possibly can.

    And not just you; everybody.

    Over and over.

    Don't be clever; just do it simply and well, even if you have to make it so simple it's hardly creative.

    The point is to learn how to put onto the page what you intend.

    There's a gap between these two aspects, so let's keep going.

    And when you can do this, maybe, when you start adding SLIGHT complications, you won't forget what this exercise is supposed to be about.

    Thanks, and back to work.

    --Lee



  7. danialworks Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    1. PASS.

    Folks, moving forward, where there are revisions, please put the entire revised example together. The point is that somebody can read the whole thing and get it, not have to look for a previous post. (In my case, I remembered and didn't have to.)

    Thanks for the revision, Danial.

    Would you care to share thoughts on where the occasional disconnect has been for this.

    As I was writing to somebody, this SHOULD be snap-your-fingers simple, so I was surprised to see the problems.

    After my initial thinking that I hadn't been clear, I thought I'd been very clear, so the inability of folks to just look at what they wrote and ask, "Will the reader know exactly where this is?" remains puzzling.

    Do you think folks are rushing, or is it that this is too much like having to put on a saddle and do exactly what's being required with no (pun intended) leeway?

    --Lee
    I was on my way out to the day job, and only had time to suggest the changes. My bad.

    First assignment. Two panels. Establish each location somewhere inside the panel. A sign. A horta writing in the rock. Whatever... something that specifically tells the reader where they are with words built into your setting.


    Assignment two. Two panels. Use captions to tell the reader specifically where they are. Bridge the content of the captions.

    Assignment three. Two panels. Use word balloons... dialogue... to tell the reader exactly where they are. Bridge the dialogue.

    That's my take on things, now. Anyway, since my locomotive, I don't think Lee can get any clearer, myself.

    It seems to me that the nature of this week's homework has changed from establishing our locations in each panel to proving that each of us can or cannot do what the "paying" editor is asking for.

    I think there's some confussion here between creativity and work. Sometimes, the work is more important than how creative we're capable of being. Or maybe just want to be.

    We're all acting like this assignment is a creator-owned project, when it's a work-for hire.

    Everybody please note that I didn't argue that my planet was BACKGROUND and unimportant. Or that the location in the second Effeil Tower panel was the TOP, not the observation deck.

    This isn't my project. It's Lees.

    If it was my project, the planet would stay and just be set dressing.

    But the added details-- two signs, one by the locomotive chugging along, one at the railway station... those would have found their way into a second draft of a creator-owned project or an assignment from an editor or publisher alike.

    Making both Lee's lessons-- about establishing locations-- and doing the work you are hired to do even more valid.

    And it adds a third lesson... editors don't talk just to hear themselves.
    Last edited by danialworks; Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 05:23 AM.



  8. danialworks Guest

    Anyway, why did assignment #1 elude me for a day and a half?

    My sense of style... writing style... kept getting in the way. The ship IS the exterior location. Right for me, wrong for the assignment. The locomotive IS the location. Badly executed the first time, either way. And obviously, again, wrong for the assignment.



  9. danialworks Guest

    Learning to write what someone else needs/expects is one of the best ways to get GOOD at writing what you need.

    'K.

    I'll be quiet now.



  10. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by danialworks View Post
    Learning to write what someone else needs/expects is one of the best ways to get GOOD at writing what you need.

    'K.

    I'll be quiet now.
    Thanks, Danial.

    That was part of the point of this exercise, too.

    It's what I refer to as the "saddle" that creators need to learn to wear if they're ever going to be able to effectively produce assignment work from others.

    --Lee



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