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Old 09-28-2015, 08:27 AM   #1
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TPG Week 250: Complete Rewrite Needed


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have Brave One Jave Galt-Miller. We also have Liam Hayes in blue, we've got Ryan Kroboth on pencils, and I'm the guy in raving in the red.

Let's see what Jave has with

POLIS

CHARACTER NOTES

ALCIBIADES: (35) Athenian aristocrat. Born with everything: money, looks, intelligence, an impeccable bloodline. On his motherís side, he is descended from the founder of the Athenian democracy; on his fatherís side, he is descended from the gods. His heroic father died in battle when he was four, the great Pericles raising him thereafter as his own son. Sometimes student of Socrates. Alcibiades has everything: including an insatiable ambition, and a young manís lack of tact. He is always looking to be better than his father, and his ward Pericles.

NIKIAS: (50s) Grizzled soldier, a scar from ear to chin. Born into money, heís never known poverty, but his blood is from common stock and so he remains a man of the people. Heís seen the ravages of war, and he therefore will do what he can to remain at peace. Pious to a fault, his dependence on signs from the gods may get him in trouble in the future. But as of now, he has never lost a battle, and Athenians refer to him as ďThe LuckyĒ. Lately an ulcer in his stomach has been causing him pain.

THERAMENES: (30) Friend of Alcibiades. Short and stocky, he is very strong. He prefers order to chaos, and he is always loyal to his friends. He comes from an undistinguished family, and he has never been wealthy. Quick-witted, he is not afraid to buck tradition and authority. (Prefers order to chaos, but not afraid to buck tradition and authority...which causes chaos. Oooookay.)

These character descriptions have me scared. More than the fact that everything is in bold for

some reason.

ART NOTES

Despite the artifacts that have survived to our day, the Greeks lived in a world of color. Much of the white marble was painted in bright, rich colors. So too with the dress, the men trying to distinguish themselves more in this regard than the women. The older men are predominantly bearded, while the younger less so. It was Alcibiades, in fact, who popularized the clean-shaven look.

I want to be as meticulous as we can be in making this world reflect what we know from the archaeological record. While at the same time, I hope to fill in the gaps of our knowledge (So you want to be an archaeologist... That's the only way to make this statement true.), and make this world our own.

LEGEND

OP = Off panel

FG = Foreground

BG = Background (This, folks, is known as covering your bases. I'm not a fan of putting in things that are pretty obvious, but what do I know? It doesn't hurt anything. I just find it unnecessary.)

Click here on 10/9/15 to read more.
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Old 09-28-2015, 08:31 AM   #2
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Just like Week 249, this one is up because Liam is kind enough to help me as I'm at NYCC!

Thanks, Liam!
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Old 09-28-2015, 03:30 PM   #3
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The link isn't working for me.
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Old 09-28-2015, 05:55 PM   #4
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It's not available until 10-9.
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Old 09-29-2015, 12:50 PM   #5
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Ooo. The teases.
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Old 10-05-2015, 03:08 AM   #6
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Huh, I thought this was out next weekend. And I guess it is.

The subject line gives it all away though...

But as far as "filling the gaps", I meant supplying what's missing through fiction, rather than through archaeology.
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Old 10-05-2015, 05:54 PM   #7
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'Complete rewrite needed' is actually quite a bit better than it could have been.

I got your line about filling the gaps (with fiction).

Can't we hack TPG and get the article posted early?
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Old 10-05-2015, 05:59 PM   #8
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It's easily done, but let's just try to cultivate a little patience. After all, Liam helped me out a lot in doing this for me early so I wouldn't have much to worry about while I'm on vacation...
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:21 AM   #9
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Interesting TPG. Thanks to Liam and Steven for putting in the hours on the editing!

Overall, Jave, it feels like you're working hard to get it right, but there are plenty of areas for improvement. I mention the first bit just to differentiate you from the sometimes awkward submissions in TPG where it's clear the writer hasn't put much effort in. Whereas it's clear this is a story you care about.

I think Steven is totally right to ding you on the language, but I slightly disagree about the explanation. Whilst 'fuck' is a word you wouldn't find in Peloponnesian Greece, neither are any of the words used in dialogue, as they're not ancient Greek.

However, good dialogue is dialogue that seems right, rather than dialogue that is right. Given that almost none of us know ancient Greek, you write some kind of simulacrum of language which feels appropriate. There's no hard and fast rules, it takes aesthetic judgement, and a sense of your own style.

You certainly won't hear "Don't fuck up" in a Ridley Scott Gladiator type dialogue. However, you might in an HBO The Romans. (I realise I've drifted into a different culture with both references, but what's a few hundreds of years, eh?)

I don't get the sense that this is a down and dirty dialogue kind of affair, which makes the phrase leap out compared to everything else that is said.

However, in my view, two far worse transgressions in this dialogue:

1. NIKIAS (OP):

IT IS GOOD THAT ATHENS AND SPARTA ARE MATCHED HERE AND NOT ON THE FIELD.

(Holy exposition, batman!)

2. NIKIAS:

I SEE YOUR MAN HAS A GOOD POSITION. IS HE AS SKILLED AS THEY SAY HE IS?

3. AGIS:

I SEE THAT YOUR MAN ALSO HAS FOUND GOOD POSITION.

(How are you today?
I'm fine.
How are you.
I am also fine.
Good.
It is good that we are both fine today.
Yes.)

What is this dull as ditchwater dialogue doing? You've got an omniscient narrator dumping a big exposition on us already (and in a somewhat dull way). You don't need these two droning on.

An extra problem is that the reader is, by this point, yearning to meet a protagonist and may assume that the first person to chat is going to be someone to root for. Turns out they're probably not.

I bet you can do a considerably better version of this story. I hope these comments end up being helpful. Keep writing!
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:53 PM   #10
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Thanks for the critique!

Disclaimer: I submitted this script pretty soon after stumbling upon The Proving Grounds, and seeing how long the submission list already was, I submitted very quickly. Probably too quickly. But it was already agony to wait so long for feedback. That's my excuse for the page break thing. (But my next script submitted will be a Flawless Victory. I guarantee it.)

So, as far as pacing goes, I did realize that these first five or six pages are a bit boring, with not enough happening. I have since cut those four panels in the spread of Alcibiades greeting his horse -- -- and replaced them instead with what would be the next page: Agis and Nikias, looking down on the spread from the right side of the page. This might help. But it's looking like more is needed.

Sam: getting nailed for the exposition on that page. I had to laugh. You're right. But yes, it was purely exposition. Trying to ground people into what's going on, and that Agis and Nikias are from different places.

I do stand by my use of "fuck" though. As Sam already mentioned, it's all Greek anyway, so the fact that "fuck" wasn't around until the 15th century is moot. The Greeks had plenty of words for sex and genitalia, and I'd say their language was probably a lot more colorful in that arena then our own. That being said, Sam is also correct in pointing out that truth is less important than believability. And if it knocks people out of the story, that can be a problem. (And I understand that it will also limit the audience. But I definitely want this to be more of a mature audience.)

I did not realize that placement of character was so hard to understand. I will definitely have to go back and figure all of that out.

And with references - I think it's great when I see these scripts with links to references online. My plan, however, was to send reference pics to the artist as we went. Is that too much of a pain? While most references will be online, some won't.

Well, you've given me a lot to think about. Thanks again.
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Old 10-10-2015, 10:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
A MAP of Greece and Asia Minor. (Reference.) ATHENS (blue) and SPARTA (red) marked on the map, with PERSIA (yellow) crashing like a wave from the East. (Persian Wave: the crest is made up of cavalry and chariots, which dissolve back into a wave which starts in Asia Minor; near Plataea (north of Athens) stand two stylized Hoplites, red and blue, spears forward, and ready to stop the oncoming wave.) (Iím having a hard time visualizing this. A literal wave? How can that be shown in a static image?)(ĎSPLODE! Itís P1, panel 1. Ryan, if youíd do us the honor?)
Of course!

Just reading this in the script, I couldn't put the image together in my head, either. But once I pulled up a map of Greece the visual made the panel description click. Here is what I came up with.



It's kinda funny, when I first looked up a map from Google I was struggling to find Persia. I guess it's been that long. Anyway, for the Hoplites I found some interesting ancient artwork that I pulled them from. There were some similar style art for the horses, and I added the chariot in. When I think of tidal waves (in art), my first thoughts always go to Japanese woodblock prints. This panel description was mostly research.

When doing the tidal wave, you wanted an infantry and chariot army. On my sketchbook page, the entire panel is roughly 6 inches wide by 5 high. The area for the tidal wave only ends up being maybe 2 inches. This is still much larger than an area that I would have if I was fitting more panels on a page. If you really wanted all that detail the Persian army would have to be shrunk considerably. I opted for an easier readability. Working traditionally, these panels get reduced another 33% for print. Just something to consider when writing your panel descriptions.

That's all I really have for right now!
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Old 10-11-2015, 03:01 AM   #12
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Hey Ryan,

Thanks for this. Another minor disclaimer: I recently auditioned artists to work with me on this series, and I used page 1 as the audition. Panel 1 was by far the most problematic. (I only later added the idea of a "wave" to try to make an easier image: I at first had written that it was like an arrow. But really no one got it quite the way I imagined; and that's partly because I did not imagine it fully.)

This leads me back to another reason I didn't use links within the script to reference pics: for instance, for HOPLITE, I prefer to send the artist several different reference pics, so they can pick and choose what might work best. But yes, in working with these artists, I sent them a bunch of stuff, from relevant maps, to modern artistic renderings, to photos of pottery of the time with ancient art.

Can I use this spot to get some story advice?

I feel like I have to lay some kind of groundwork on the place and time that this story is taking place, which is what this page is supposed to do. Plus, the series is about a WAR, but I am starting it during a time of peace. So I wanted to try draw a kind of comparison between war and sporting contests here.

That being said, if pacing sucks, then maybe I have to cut this and get right into the introduction of Alcibiades.

Here's the page from the artist I've chosen to work with (along with lettering, but no colors). Seeing it as an actual page, does it make it any better/more interesting? (And I did do a slight rewrite on the captions.)

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Old 10-11-2015, 05:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpgaltmiller View Post
Hey Ryan,

Thanks for this. Another minor disclaimer: I recently auditioned artists to work with me on this series, and I used page 1 as the audition. Panel 1 was by far the most problematic. (I only later added the idea of a "wave" to try to make an easier image: I at first had written that it was like an arrow. But really no one got it quite the way I imagined; and that's partly because I did not imagine it fully.)
You're welcome, Jave. It's always cool seeing the page/panels as envisioned by another artist. One can always learn from someone else's approach to problem solving. The hardest thing about this panel was the amount of space, specifically from the Persian side. You can see they took a different approach than I to that. I rather like the extra little flourishes of the ships and the symbol for the Persian Empire (I'm guessing that is what that is). Congrats on finding a talented artist to help bring this story to life.

Quote:
Can I use this spot to get some story advice?

I feel like I have to lay some kind of groundwork on the place and time that this story is taking place, which is what this page is supposed to do. Plus, the series is about a WAR, but I am starting it during a time of peace. So I wanted to try draw a kind of comparison between war and sporting contests here.
This is your floor right now, after all! This is one of those things I believe there is no answer to. Only you can make that decision. It's your story, and you can tell it however you think it will best communicate. On the flip side, if you end up getting the same feedback from multiple sources, maybe that is an indicator of something. You have to take everything into consideration and go with what is best for the story in the end.

So, then I must ask, can all this information on page one be given organically throughout the story somehow?

I find myself more with the crowd of getting into the shoes of the character we are following as soon as possible, and finding out why we should care.
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Old 10-11-2015, 12:28 PM   #14
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In the page as seen, I feel a disconnect between the words and the pictures. And not in an ironic way, just that the words and the pictures are about two different things.
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Old 10-11-2015, 07:45 PM   #15
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Thanks, Sam. A friend said the same thing recently.

They are supposed to be two different things, on purpose. Though the reader shouldn't necessarily make that connection (or disconnection) until the final panel.

I wonder if this technique would work better in film/tv. But so far, it looks like here it is not working.

Thanks again.
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