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Old 12-07-2015, 08:28 AM   #1
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TPG Week 258: When The Rewrite Is Still Bad


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds. This week, we have Brave One Galen Schulz returning with a rewrite! It doesn't happen often, so here's the link to the original, and we're going to go through this and see what's what. Liam isn't with us this week, so it's going to be all me in red, with a pencil assist from Ryan Kroboth.

Let's see what changes have been wrought with

High Water

Page One (six panels)

Panel 1, thinner at one end, full wide panel looking down from extreme distance (I have no idea what this means. Ryan? I know it's early...). A high cliff at the end of a jungle-y land mass with ocean surrounding it can be seen below and trailing into the far distance. This entire west coastline is seventy foot cliffs with very narrow sandy strips at their feet. Abandoned Longshore, thickly walled with stone, is perched about 100 yards from the edge of the cliff. The jungle is close around the abandoned town, and Fortune and Silver Gull are nearly abreast of it, with only a couple sails up (at least mainsails). The sun is a couple hours above the water, so shadows are longish. (Yeah. A show of hands: how many people read this and had it devolve into wah-wah-wah, wah-wah, wah-wah wah waaaaah wah? Just raise your hands. Hold 'em high. I want to make sure I get an accurate count.)

Click here to read more.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:35 AM   #2
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Panel 6, from in front of the scaffold, Ashley is hunched as much as the rope allows, teeth clenched in pain. Greco’s greasy hair has become disheveled and is hanging across his forehead. He looks very maniacally satisfied. Greco’s right hand is clinched near Ashley, and he’s bent a little towards him. His left hand is pointing at the sunset. In the extreme deep distance, through a crumbling section of wall, we can see the horizon. (Nope. Rin, why am I saying no, and what assumptions am I making in order to say this? What has to happen in order for Galen to have what he wants, and what didn’t he do in order to have it?)
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The biggest problem on this page is not knowing where characters are placed. (This is the only real hint Rin is getting, because for me to say more would be to give the entire thing away.)
This. Hurt. My. Head.

So much so that I’m not sure I’m capable of cohesive thought anymore, nevermind second guessing Mr Forbes’ thought process.

Here are my random thoughts on this script: Galen either doesn’t know that you describe from left to right, or he knows but chose to break the 180 rule. Twice. (Pg 1 panel 2 has Ashley on the left and the crowd on the right, pg 1 panel 5 reverses this. The same thing happens on pg 2 panel 5 and 6, which is wrong because all the energy of the punch forces Ashley to panel right… only, in the next panel, Ashley’s at panel left. Maybe there was so much energy in the punch that Ashley was punched clear across the world and comes around from the other side of the planet.)

Page 2 panel 6 starts with, “From in front of the scaffold” – but I’m not sure if Galen means, “View from in front of the scaffold”, (or) “In the foreground, on top of the scaffold”, (or) whether he actually means that Ashley has descended off the scaffold and now stands in front of it. (In which case, how much slack does that rope have?!)

The only thing I’m sure about is that we shouldn’t be able to see the sunset in this panel. Not just because I can’t work out the cardinal directions, but because the very 1st panel says the jungle is close around the town. So unless the jungle is full of bonsai trees, or has been felled by a team of lumberjacks somewhere between panel 1 and panel 12, then we shouldn’t be able to see over it or through it.
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Old 12-07-2015, 01:23 PM   #3
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Thanks Steven and Ryan.

I think it's well worth giving Galen a big thumbs up. There's obvious progress from the last one, which may mean that the criticisms from Steven in this one will also bear fruit.

My advice to you is to not rewrite this, but park it somewhere and do something new, (using all the advice from Steven). A very common mistake in creation is to go for a single instance of quality instead of pumping out quantity. Doing the quantity allows you to make more mistakes and learn more. Just reworking a single story doesn't have that effect.
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:56 PM   #4
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Steven, thank you again for your time. The wordier panels I knew would get me in trouble, but I was trying to be more descriptive. Apparently too much. The dialogue, yes, not enough plot movement. I'm trying to introduce too many characters. I have to replan this series, clearly. I was just reading Saga, and though the first page is only a splash of the main character worrying aloud if she's shitting herself, the next few pages start exploding stuff and the fun kicks right off. If I do smaller installments of backstory or something first (with explosions! And fun!) then with this issue I can just get right into the rescue. I also apparently need to more carefully use my language. I came from a fantasy novel-writing background, so I have a habit of drawing things out and using different words for the same thing. I thought I did a better job of removing all of that from the previous attempt.

Rin, the view is from out in front of the platform they're on. I do see how I broke the 180 degree rule, and especially in such a useless way, since the stairs are on the left side of the gallows and I could just as easily have had them standing on that side of the stairs. I'm afraid some of this happens later as well. The jungle wouldn't be between the sunset and them because the town is really close to the cliff and the storms would keep the bigger trees from growing that close anyway (this is more stuff I should probably establish before this part of the story).

Sam, I think that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'll be able to come back around to this event if I start earlier with small one-offs that introduce the world and characters less... chaotically. But this situation does need to happen for the rest of the story to make sense.

Everyone gave me a ton to think about. Thank you so much again.
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Old 12-07-2015, 06:05 PM   #5
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By the way, Steven hated the muttering from Tad. This is a tic of Tad's, as he is very, very crazy. Is this a bad way of doing this? I wanted it to look like the bubble was too small to fit all of his whispering, and for all the words to run together like he doesn't know he's doing it and like it's almost a constant internal monologue that's spilling into a (barely) audible spectrum. This is again something I can come around to in a different way, but is it totally unworkable this way?
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:06 PM   #6
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It worked for me.

Regarding your next writing, I would not write about this story. Practise on other things and park this for now. New writers often want to do their magnum opus first, but better to do shorts.
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Old 12-07-2015, 09:11 PM   #7
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Well I did submit a side project of mine which is up in January. It's probably also going to be torn apart, but hopefully for different reasons

I was going to try and do a series of like 5-7 page shorts in the High Water world too, since it's the most fleshed out world that I have currently. At the least for the sake of learning how to write shorter pieces of story, even if I don't end up submitting them. Being able to identify where the story can be interesting in smaller sections.

I'm just a little reluctant to shelve this for any more time. This thing has been kicking around and snowballing for like 5 years.
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:53 PM   #8
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Panel 1, thinner at one end, full wide panel looking down from extreme distance (I have no idea what this means. Ryan? I know it’s early…). A high cliff at the end of a jungle-y land mass with ocean surrounding it can be seen below and trailing into the far distance. This entire west coastline is seventy foot cliffs with very narrow sandy strips at their feet. Abandoned Longshore, thickly walled with stone, is perched about 100 yards from the edge of the cliff. The jungle is close around the abandoned town, and Fortune and Silver Gull are nearly abreast of it, with only a couple sails up (at least mainsails). The sun is a couple hours above the water, so shadows are longish.
A quick disclaimer before I post up the picture. I was really confused with this description, and the whole panel is pretty much a guess. I may have spent more time trying to figure out what should be drawn than actual sketching.



When you say thinner at one end and wider at the other (along with panel two complimenting panel one's geometry), I'm guessing it's round-a-bout way of saying a diagonal. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that is what I interpreted it as. I'll come back to diagonal panels later.

As for the island, I'm not sure at all what you were going for. This is one of the instances that reference would be extremely helpful, because I know you are going for something quite specific. This town is a character of it's own. I'm not sure where you wanted the camera in relation to the island (if it is an island. could be a peninsula I suppose). Not sure how the cliffs should look in relation to the ocean beach. I think the jungle is above the cliffs. Knowing the shape of the island would have been very helpful in figuring how to lay this out.

So, for the panel, I tried to take what you gave me and focus more on a composition that incorporated the parts you gave me. I'm willing to bet this looks nothing like the setting for this story. Actually, I would love if you would post a reference photo for this after my response.

Another thing for you to help with writing your script is the consideration that this town/island is a character. Since it is so, the location should probably be in your character description document, or part of the stuff you are working out along with your artist before hand. Therefore cutting out these extraneous descriptions would substantially cut down your panel descriptions. Panel one becomes "Extreme farshot/panoramic of Abandoned Longshore, with Fortune and Silver Gull nearly abreast of it, only a couple sails up (at least mainsails). The sun is a couple hours above the water."

But that is between you and your artist, I suppose.

Now, about those diagonals. Clearly this is my own opinion, but this is what I think about their use in this situation. Looking at this from a psychological standpoint, verticals and horizontals present a feeling of stability and structure. Diagonals challenge this nature with unease. This is often why the layouts of a comic will begin to slant once the action picks up. As things get more hectic, so do the panels. Once things return to normalcy, the panels once again become boxes.

But even if you disagree with any of that, the big thing is impact. When you throw a diagonal panel in there, you want it to mean something (like when you write up to a splash page). If you are opening your story on a diagonal establishing shot, and diagonals become a norm in situations that don't need them, they lose their impact. Keep your tools sharp so they can do their job when they need to. You don't want to be cutting your steak with a butter knife, right?

I'm glad you resubmitted your script, Galen. It's always really cool to see how a story grows, as well as it's creator. There are some other posts in this forum I still want to respond to. So, onward I go!
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Old 12-07-2015, 11:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kiyoko, Rin View Post
Maybe there was so much energy in the punch that Ashley was punched clear across the world and comes around from the other side of the planet.
I laughed so hard at this I almost started crying.


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The only thing I’m sure about is that we shouldn’t be able to see the sunset in this panel. Not just because I can’t work out the cardinal directions, but because the very 1st panel says the jungle is close around the town. So unless the jungle is full of bonsai trees, or has been felled by a team of lumberjacks somewhere between panel 1 and panel 12, then we shouldn’t be able to see over it or through it.
Blitzkrieg Lumberjacks. Coming 2016.
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SamRoads View Post
It worked for me.

Regarding your next writing, I would not write about this story. Practise on other things and park this for now. New writers often want to do their magnum opus first, but better to do shorts.
That is some really good advice. But I kinda feel Galen on this one. I look at it from the viewpoint of: I don't know when I'm going to die, and if I die before telling the one story that I've planned to then I'm going to have to come back and haunt someone (any volunteers?).

But that's why I hired an editor. To help me identify those mistakes that I am making as a newer writer and hopefully make that work the best that I can for now.
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Old 12-08-2015, 12:56 AM   #11
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Ryan, you're fantastic. You gave me a few pieces of the puzzle I was missing and reminded me of one I DO know and wasn't thinking of (the town is a character, too). Learning about those little tricks of your end of it, like diagonal panels being good for ramping action, are freaking candy for me. I promise I actually am trying to learn as much as I can about this, but there are zero people in the industry within arm's reach of my offline life. Books are nice, but you can't ask them questions. I clearly need to be bugging some people on these boards.

By the way, how you ended up drawing that town up on the cliff was very close. I'd pictured it more as an overhead but I kinda like that view of it better. Gives you more a feeling of the encroaching wilds. The Island itself is about the size of Cuba, so it's not like we'd need to see the other end of it or anything. Really the only thing I'd change about it is that the trees would probably not be that close to the edge, or at least the tall ones wouldn't be. You can't really tell what kind of trees these are, but something rain forest-esque is appropriate for the climate.

I'll also do some homework on reference photos. Thank you so much, sir. I crave seeing this story like a drug sometimes, so any images are actual dream material.
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Old 12-08-2015, 02:34 AM   #12
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Has been the thought of you standin’ right. (You need to learn better punctuation. Greg, what would you have done instead?)
Ellipses. At the beginning and at the end, as well as before the next line.

A single sentence spread out across three balloons across two panels across two pages. I can't think of a better example of drawing something out.

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Panel 2, from out above the water on level with action from previous panel, watching Leyta swing a leg over the railing while she talks to Tom. You can angle it so that if we see anyone else behind Tom, it’s just the tops of their heads. Mainmast should be on the right, we’re closer to the stern. Any sails that could be visible should be furled since they’re at anchor, currently. The longboat’s visible, too. (I don’t know where you want the camera placed. Greg, why am I saying this?)
Because you don't know where he wants the camera placed?

I'm trying to figure out what you mean, but every time I try to picture this panel the ship gets in the way. Also, 180 rule.
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Old 12-08-2015, 02:56 AM   #13
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Look at my douchey use of nautical terms.

Starboard is the right side of the ship. So this shot is over the water from the same side of the ship. The artist I wanted to work with was as familiar with these terms as I was, but things fell through. This is a relic of that. Cardinal directions will be out of panel descriptions as well, from now on. I promise.
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Old 12-08-2015, 10:09 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Beardywriterface View Post
Ryan, you're fantastic. You gave me a few pieces of the puzzle I was missing and reminded me of one I DO know and wasn't thinking of (the town is a character, too). Learning about those little tricks of your end of it, like diagonal panels being good for ramping action, are freaking candy for me. I promise I actually am trying to learn as much as I can about this, but there are zero people in the industry within arm's reach of my offline life. Books are nice, but you can't ask them questions. I clearly need to be bugging some people on these boards.

By the way, how you ended up drawing that town up on the cliff was very close. I'd pictured it more as an overhead but I kinda like that view of it better. Gives you more a feeling of the encroaching wilds. The Island itself is about the size of Cuba, so it's not like we'd need to see the other end of it or anything. Really the only thing I'd change about it is that the trees would probably not be that close to the edge, or at least the tall ones wouldn't be. You can't really tell what kind of trees these are, but something rain forest-esque is appropriate for the climate.

I'll also do some homework on reference photos. Thank you so much, sir. I crave seeing this story like a drug sometimes, so any images are actual dream material.
Glad to be of some help, Galen. It's always nice to hear that the images help fuel the fire of the desire to make comics. Makes my time feel worthwhile!

It's cool to hear that my panel was fairly close to the way the island should look. The trees are probably my Pennsylvania influence...there's nothing, then BAM! Forest.

It's interesting that you were initially thinking of an overhead view. The reason why I chose that angle was each panel gives the impression that it is a bit closer than the last one. If it were a movie it would continually pan in until we were close on the scene at hand. That's how I saw it, anyway.

Here's a thought for you, to conserve space and get that overhead shot that you were thinking of putting in: utilize the cover interior page. Put a map there along with your credits. People go nuts over maps. It could set up your location while not stealing any space away from the story. Then you could put the names of locations of importance on it, and help people get into the story quicker. Just an idea.

If you ever have any questions that you would wish to ask or want an artist opinion, feel free to reach out to me. I'm always happy to help.
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Old 12-08-2015, 11:02 AM   #15
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Panel 4, full wide, the group, now numbering 22, is marching up the beach to the right. Leyta is leading, walking backwards. At the right side of the panel is the beginning of the switchback that leads up fifty feet of the seventy foot cliff. This strip of beach they’re on is narrow and rises steeply to that switchback. It doesn’t matter what order you have them in, but about 2/3rds the way back in the group have somebody turning their head to the last third. (Ryan? Here’s what I would like you to do: either draw this panel, or explain why you’d be reluctant to draw this panel.)
Heh. I'm going to choose why I'm reluctant to draw this panel.

First, this is a seven panel page. This means each panel is going to be relatively small. Going back over it again, nearly each panel has as much detail going on as this one. I draw traditionally. My comic boards have a 10 1/4 x 15 1/2 drawing area with full bleed, and the live area is 9 x 13 1/2. Everything deemed important needs to be kept in the live area to be sure it isn't shifted and cut off during print. So, the important details of seven panels need to share this space.

Second, you have 22 people on panel. That is going to be...chaotic to fit in the space given. I'm not saying there aren't artists who could pull this off (I don't think I could), but likely, as being a newer writer, you will also be working with a fairly newer artist (to comics). It will be tough.

Third, and this will tie back into number two, is the description implies you want to include a large quantity of the background. Not saying this is a bad thing. You are working to establish your characters in location, and show where they are heading in relation to their goal. That's good. But you also want to have 22 people in there. This is going to be an extreme far shot, most likely, and possibly just a far shot depending on cropping.

So this becomes difficult, or possibly impossible, to draw because all the characters are going to be very small stick figures if its a far shot, or you will obscure some of the establishing location of the setting if you are putting the camera directly behind the back of the group walking looking toward their goal. With 22 people, that will be very distracting (in my opinion).

With Leyta leading, regardless of how you place the camera, she will need to be the farthermost away. I don't see how we will see she is walking backward. Even worse, we probably won't even be able to tell who is talking.

Okay, so that's all that. I have two things story wise that I'd like to throw in your direction for you to ponder over.

Once we hit this page we are given 22 characters to follow. I know you have a story plan, and everyone has a role to fill in that plan, but think of it from a new reader's perspective. Or your own. Imagine watching a movie where right off the bat we have 22 people all going around doing their own thing. Who are we primarily following? Why should we care? How do we know who is who when there is so much going on?

Have you read the book The Alchemist? Not only being a fantastic story, but it made me think about my goals of making comics while reading it. Very inspirational, I think. Anyway, one scene has two characters discussing how one of them wishes to write a book. To paraphrase he says, "If I were to write a book, I would introduce my characters one at a time as to not confuse the reader". That stuck with me more than anything else in that story because it makes sense.

I think that cutting down your initial cast would be beneficial. Perhaps a small strike mission consisting of only 3-4 people would be easier to watch (also have a larger chance of going wrong! think tension) than a 22 character Game of Thrones massacre scene.

The other thing is I partially feel like we are marching up the beach along with these characters just to get in the exposition of the town. Don't get me wrong, I think it's interesting. I like learning new things. But the visual it is coupled with makes it a tough pill to swallow. Have you ever talked to anyone who wasn't that into the Lord of the Rings trilogy? When they tell you why, they say "it's a lot of walking".

People have a short attention span these days. You have to get them hooked and reel them right in. Don't show the car ride unless the car ride is important.

Anyway, just my thoughts. Hopefully it gives you something to think over. This seems like it could be an interesting story. But I don't know because we haven't gotten quite that far yet.

Good luck on your next submission. Keep working at it and keep growing.
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