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Old 12-05-2014, 09:03 AM   #1
Steven Forbes
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TPG Week 206: A Decent, Short Entry



Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a Brave One who's no stranger here: Frank Martin. I'm going to be going it alone this week--Liam had some personal things to take care of. So I'm here, all by my lonesome. It'll be fine. Frank and I, mano a mano, or, if I were The Tick, braino a braino. Let's see how Frank deals with a

Deadlock (3 pages)



Note: This story is of a typical, cliché Mexican standoff in a classic old Western town. There are five characters involved. The layout of the standoff is as follows.



BUILDINGSBUILDINGSBUILDINGS



SHERIFF

/ \



OUTLAW -- -- PARTNER

|



\ | |

BH -- LOVER



BUILDINGSBUILDINGSBUILDINGS





> = aiming at



Outlaw > Partner

Sherriff > Outlaw and Partner

Partner > Outlaw and Lover

Bounty Hunter > Sheriff and Outlaw

Lover > Partner and Bounty Hunter





Page 1 (6 Panels)



Panel 1

A medium angled shot of an Old Western OUTLAW stoically and calmly holding a scuffed up and old revolver straight out with his right hand. His dirty poncho and cowboy hat look rugged and torn. The desolate desert of nothingness is behind him, but at the right edge of the panel we can see the end of the small, typical Western town he’s in. (Time of day? I can see this, but I don't know the time of day.)



OUTLAW (caption)

People often forget the forces that control this world.

Click here to read more.
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Old 12-05-2014, 04:26 PM   #2
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"This is boring, and not the best use of space, especially since you have two shots of the bounty hunter, back to back. There’s an easier way to do this without being boring."

I'll give this a shot, but I doubt I'll get what it is you're looking for. This one is a toughie.

Frank has five characters aiming at each other. I'm getting a little bit lost spatially trying to follow where they are. I think this might be one of those rare occasions it would be easier to delagate a layout. Tier one, one panel. Teir two, three panels. Finally, tier three, two panels.

Panel one- Outlaw. Aiming at panel six (partner).

Panel two- Bounty Hunter. Aiming at panels one and four.

Panel three- borderless establishing shot showing the setting and situation. Each character is near their respective panel.

Panel four- Sheriff. Aiming at panels one and six.

Panel five- Lover. Aiming at panels two and six.

Panel six- Partner. Aiming at panels one and five.

Although I have heard it's not usually good to break panel borders, to give a clear indication of who is aiming at who, it may help.

That's my best guess.

-Ryan
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:54 AM   #3
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I agree with Ryan

My first thought was to do the standoff on a double page spread – we’d see the geography and geometry of the 5 characters in one panel, and we’d get the huge landscape cinematography typical of Westerns. Trouble is, you’d have to shift the flashback off page 2 to an earlier / later page (and Mr Forbes asked for an improved layout, not a re-write), and you’d have to find a 3-D angle on a 2-D medium so you’d Know who’s aiming at whom…

So, no double page spread.

Then I thought: how about an introductory splash page? You’d see all the characters at once and get a feel for the dilemma they’re in. As the Sheriff’s the only one standing on his own, I’d put him in the immediate foreground with the camera looking over his head and shoulders and we’re effectively looking down his arms as he aims at Outlaw and Partner (and we’d be able to see that the Bounty Hunter’s aiming at us = the Sheriff). Problem with that is, Outlaw has a lot of captions that wouldn’t fit or flow well in a single panel, plus, there’s no way to Know that Outlaw – one of two characters In the mid-ground – is the source of these captions.

So, no splash page either.

Luckily, DarkHalf05 posted a better solution than anything I had. I’ll second Ryan’s layout, but I’d just add that as tier 1 has one panel and tier 3 has two, in order to have Outlaw and Partner align, then both Lover and Partner need to stand at the left borders of panels 5 / 6 respectively.

That’s two TPGs in a row where spatial mechanics were highlighted.
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:24 AM   #4
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Two guesses. Neither of them are bad, but I think we can do better.

Don't think about the rest of the story. This is the first page. What's the best way to do all of this? The best way to open the story?

This is now open to everyone.
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Old 12-08-2014, 03:25 PM   #5
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Leave the first panel. Except add a bullet whizzing past the outlaw.

Skip the second panel and go right to the third. The bounty hunter's guns are smoking.

Then skip the fourth panel and go right to the fifth but add a bullet whizzing past the sheriff as well.

Keep the sixth panel as is.

Since two panels got cut, we can give the lover her own panel.

Steven, do you think it would be useful to put captions with the character's names?
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Old 12-08-2014, 03:30 PM   #6
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I may have made a mistake on which panels to skip, because we still need to see who aims at who.

But the smoking guns would allow us to eliminate a couple panels.
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Old 12-09-2014, 06:48 AM   #7
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I sat down and had a think about what makes the Mexican stand-off work so well in movies and then I remembered that the action tends to jump between characters. So I swapped panels 3 and 4 around (after having re-written Panel 1 for the setting description), which should emulate the bouncing around that the camera does.

I also moved the dialogue around a little bit to try and help build up more tension (taking out the "Dull" caption). So I think what was intended here was quick moving panels, but intending to build up tension and suspense.

I personally wouldn't have the LOVER involved either, unless she was the other Outlaw (and thus the double crosser). If she is to be involved, she might be better off on the sidelines and possibly with the Sheriff. Anyway, to kind of preserve the story, panels and captions were switched about.


Page 1 (6 Panels)

Panel 1

Exterior shot. Midday. (I might put a reference year?)
Full body shot.

An Old Western OUTLAW is standing at the end of the street of a Western town (ref: Gunsmoke/Rawhide). At the end of the street, there is a vast expanse of desert.
The OUTLAW wears a dirty old poncho and his hat is battered and torn. He’s holding up an old revolver (Smith & Wesson?) with his right hand.

OUTLAW (caption): People often forget the forces that control this world.

OUTLAW (caption): They get comfortable.

OUTLAW (caption): Lazy, even.

Panel 2

The “camera” has pulled back and we’re now behind the BOUNTY HUNTER. He’s aiming a much cleaner and shinier revolver in his left hand. (type? Or would this be in the character notes) This weapon is being pointed at the OUTLAW, whose figure can be seen in the distance.
The BOUNTY HUNTER is also holding another revolver in his right hand, but is aiming it in a different direction to the OUTLAW (see reference sketch).

OUTLAW (caption): I’m just as guilty of it as anyone.

OUTLAW (caption): You get so caught up in the drama…

Panel 3

Similar to what panel 2 did to 1, the previous panel is now pulled back from the same angle to see where the bounty hunter is aiming the gun. We are behind the SHERIFF and looking at his point of view over his iconic sheriff’s hat. Only the right half of his body is in the panel, where his head is looking over his right arm holding out a pistol appropriate for the era at the outlaw. In the distance we can see the bounty hunter holding his weapons out at both the sheriff and the outlaw.

OUTLAW (caption): … you forget what really matters.

Panel 4

Medium head on shot of the bounty hunter. His other gun (the one not pointed at the outlaw) is pointed straight at us. The bounty hunter’s outfit is clean, pristine and expensive, like that of a gentlemen from the era. He has a cocky smirk on his face and more of the Old West town is revealed behind him.

OUTLAW (caption): But every once in a while we get reminded of what it means to be alive.

Panel 5

Similar to panel 3 except now we see the Sheriff’s left side. His head is looking left out over his left arm which also holds a similar pistol at the PARTNER, another dirty outlaw, grizzly, unkempt and ragged with a bandana around his neck and a bushy mustache under his nose. While sneering his teeth like an animal, the partner is holding two revolvers of his own. One is pointed dead ahead of him, which is at the outlaw off panel. The other is pointed at the LOVER positioned further back in the panel. She is a high class woman in an elaborate, fancy dress and hat completely out of place for the scene. She is also holding two small pistols of her own: one pointed at the partner and one at the bounty hunter off panel to her left.

OUTLAW (caption): It’s not money.

OUTLAW (caption): Women or even honor.

OUTLAW (caption): It’s this:

Panel 6

Mirroring the position of panel 1, the angle of the previous is now zoomed in to give a medium close up of the partner, where we can see him in all his dirty, no-good, rotten scoundrel glory. Through the grime covering his face we can see that one of his sneering teeth is gold. He is in the same position as the previous panel, both arms out holding old revolvers. Behind him the opposite edge of the small town is revealed on the right side of the panel. The only difference in the characters’ stance between this panel and panel 1 is that the partner’s other hand (his left) also holds out a revolver towards the lover. We can see her at the edge of the panel in the same stance she was in before.

OUTLAW (caption): It’s life and death.
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Old 12-10-2014, 01:50 PM   #8
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I'd have been tempted to go even in media ressier than this. Have everyone already shot and dying, and have the story explain why the Mexican stand off turned into a stand on.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:20 AM   #9
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I'm wondering what Mr Forbes will say now...
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:48 AM   #10
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Nope. Still not my idea of having true impact. Not to start out with for an extremely short story.

Anyone else?
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:40 PM   #11
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Aww... I think I realised...

It's the Lover and Partner getting shot.
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Old 12-14-2014, 09:56 AM   #12
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I wonder if the answer is something so simple, like start panel one with the shooting.
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:54 AM   #13
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Hey, Steven,

I'm curious as to what your solution was...
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:58 PM   #14
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Thanks for bringing this back up, Schuyler.

My resolution was simple, and something that Frank did near the end: have an overview panel to set everything up. If we see everyone holding guns on everyone else, I feel that it's immediate dramatic tension. Then we can zero in on who everyone is and get an idea of what happened to bring them all there.

For me, P3, panel 1 should have been the opening of the story.
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Old 01-09-2015, 09:24 AM   #15
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That certainly seems logical, Steven. Especially in something this short. What I was going for was to reveal a little bit of the standoff at a time rather just show all my cards right off the bat. I also set up the panels like that to resemble one long continuous shot from a movie where the camera moves from one character to another. Just to give you a hint of what was going through my head.
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