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Old 02-26-2016, 09:02 AM   #1
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TPG Week 270: Burying the Lede?



Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have Sean Ian Mills returning as our Brave One! We also have a special guest: Steve Colle has returned for a special engagement this week, and is again in his customary green. Of course, we have Ryan Kroboth with the pencil assist, and I'm the angry codger in red. We're all going to see if Sean has learned anything as we look at

Guards!

Page 1 (five panels)



Panel 1: Wide establishing shot looking up at a dark, villainous castle perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. Daytime. Gray clouds fill the dreary, gray sky. The land around the castle is barren, (Just for clarification, do you mean the land at the base of the mountain on which the castle rests is barren? I ask because of the angle of the shot looking up, making it impossible to see land around it given the perspective.) the rocky cliff face is a sheer drop. The castle is large and dangerous, but mostly open to artistic interpretation. Think classic Evil Castle, with black walls and spikes. Only requirement is that it must have an easily visible lower portion where one might normally expect to find a dungeon. A few small windows line the dungeon level. (I’m trying to visualize all that you’re describing given the low angle you introduced at the beginning. Seeing the small windows at dungeon level? I don’t know.)

Letterer: The dialogue balloon should come from dungeon-height.

Grawl (shout): Guards!

Panel 2: King Grawl stomps through the dark, dingy dungeon. The walls are black brick, lined with iron bar cells. There are torches on the walls. Behind Grawl is the big, wooden dungeon entrance door, having just slammed shut. Grawl is angry and shouting. He’s dragging Princess Madison behind him, his hand clutching the back of her outfit. (Keep details together. This actually belongs up with “King Grawl stomps through the dark, dingy dungeon, dragging Princess Madison behind him, his hand clutching the back of her outfit.” Without putting them together, you establish a completely different visual to start and then add a seemingly forgotten detail later, confusing the artist.) Her hands are bound in front of her in large, metal shackles. (Can we see this at this point? Is this a frontal view of Grawl or a side view? If from the front, this may be hidden. Clarify.) Ahead of Grawl, standing at attention, are orc guards Thag and Korr. Both are startled by the sudden arrival, with action lines to indicate their startle. Both guards have spiky maces at their hips. (I’m seeing this as a side view. Is that correct? If so, this really emphasizes my point of putting her being dragged in the opening action as, left to right, it would be the Princess first, then Grawl, and then the two orcs on the left.)

SFX Door: Choom!

Grawl: On your feet, you maggot-toothed felboars! Time to do your jobs! (There’s a contradiction between what’s being said and the given visual. They’re standing at attention with no mention of chairs anywhere around them, and yet he says “On your feet”. Where’s the disconnect? And that last bit of “Time to do your jobs” is completely unnecessary.)

Thag: Yes, sire!

Korr: Your majesty!

Panel 3: King Grawl stands before the two guards and holds the princess up with one hand. He’s grinning wickedly from ear-to-ear. (He seems to have a bit of dialogue in this panel. Can you grin and talk at the same time? Not if you’re forming some of those words.) The princess is seething in anger. (Was she not seething in the last panel as she was being dragged?) Her shackles in front are clearly visible. Korr and Thag look on. (On what, exactly? What does this mean and is it necessary to say it?) Korr is dumbfounded. Thag is grinning just like Grawl. (Here’s what I’m seeing in my head when you say dumbfounded: There’s a Bugs Bunny cartoon I clearly remember where Bugs is in a wrestling ring with The Crusher. Well, Crusher ends up smashing into a safe door and, when it’s opened, he stands there completely out of it saying “Duh, just passing by, duh…” Sound familiar? I doubt that’s what you mean, but damn if that isn’t what I’m interpreting!)

Grawl: Behold! The beautiful Princess Madison, loveliest daughter of the wretched King Fondamere.

Click here to read more.
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:40 AM   #2
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Oh man, I got a drubbing today. And I was really confident about this one. Thank you to both Steves for the input and the insight.

Heh, I'm not even sure where to begin. The cliche lines are indeed meant to be somewhat humorous, though I will definitely admit they need some work. The intention was to set up the typical/cliche good guy/bad guy dynamic between the princess and the evil king...and then twist by having the lowly spear carrier guard rise up to be the unexpected hero. This script isn't Looney Tunes funny, but I am picturing it as a bit of a comedy.

And my panel descriptions were a bit sparse this time around because I kept getting dinged for micro-managing in my first submissions. I tried to be a little looser here.

I had a feeling I was going to have trouble with lighting in this script, that's why I added windows in that first panel description to let some light in. Bathing the guard in shadows in that one panel was definitely supposed to come off as more cartoony, as just a big, dark figure without realistic lighting effects.

The main character, Korr, isn't actually supposed to be Lenny-levels of dimwitted. His actions and faces were supposed to come off as reluctance. He hates his job and hates having to do all of this, and the blustering, torture-loving king is the straw that breaks the camel's back. I can definitely understand coming up with better words to describe the facial expressions, but my thought was to keep it simple and let the artist come up with the specifics.

Red Steve is right in that this is a king, who is indeed another orc, who likes to get his hands dirty and do the torturing himself.

So serious question that I think I'm failing to understand: is there no room for an introductory scene in comics? I got docked for that in my first submission, Forever Blue, and here as well. I thought for sure that Page 3 would be early enough for the action to kick in. My intention isn't just to tell a story about a couple of guards, it's to emphasize the twist that the lowly guard is going to be the hero.

And I'm not trying to sound obstinate, I'm asking with the utmost respect, because I'd really like some advice on this. I feel like there should be some room to do a proper introduction.

Also, I believe the Star Wars story you're thinking of is Tag & Bink Are Dead. But my intention isn't to tell that kind of story about the guards.
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:40 AM   #3
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Steven mentioned the effectiveness of your title based on what we know from these four opening pages. I'll be honest, I didn't read past the pages I edited and don't know how it applied past Page Four, but I did see how you took the King's line of "GUARDS!" and applied it as the title. I did see, by Page Four, that Korr turned against Grawl, making Grawl's call for a guard end up biting him in the ass. With that said, however, I don't feel that this makes an effective title for a book, but it does make a good episode or chapter title. It has double meaning, which is something I like to apply to my own writing.

I suggest resubmitting this script once you've written a new draft so we can see how you applied what you've learned from our edits and comments, as well as those others will make. You've got a good base to start from, though, but take into consideration my opening comment to your script about your starting point for this first issue.

Good luck.
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Old 02-26-2016, 11:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for doing the edits Steve and Steven!

I thought the dialogue was fine. It seems very much in the vein of The Princess Bride.

I wonder if you can fix a lot of what you want to achieve through the mechanism of giving Korr a voice, maybe through narrative captions. Let us know that Korr is of interest as soon as possible? Otherwise, my assumption is that Madison is the protagonist who will effect her own escape, that Grawl is the protagonist and this will be a comedy about Orcs, in the tradition of the book 'Orcs' or several Pratchetts.
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:05 PM   #5
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Narrative captions might be a good idea.
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:19 PM   #6
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"Thorny hydra-cane" made me lol.
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Old 02-26-2016, 07:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Panel 4: King Grawl’s free hand points towards Thag, who looks excited at the attention. (Where is this shot coming from? Is it from Grawl’s POV where we only see his hand and Thag’s excited expression? Clarify.)

Grawl: You! Fetch me the bullwhip!

Thag: Of course, sire!

Grawl: On second thought, make it the cat o’nine tails!

Thag: Good choice, sir!

Grawl: Better yet, get the thorny hydra-cane!

Thag: Right away, my liege!

(This exchange can’t happen in one panel. If you’re going to maintain all of it, it’ll take three panels to tell it properly. The first two lines are one panel, with direction given and a hearty acceptance. Then a correction is made, which means Thag has moved and has had to stop in his tracks, more than likely with a change of facial expression. Finally, another change of mind happens and by this time, Thag is probably thinking to himself, “Will he PLEASE make up his mind?!” You decide the direction you want to choose for this exchange.) (Or, it could all be one panel, but the panel description would have to change in order to fit it. Anh! Here’s your first rewrite opportunity! Please rewrite this panel description so that the dialogue fits as is.)

Hey that's me! Let's see if I can't turn this into a dog's dinner.


Hmmm OK so I reckon maybe the principle of making the panel description match the last thing said might work here ...


Panel 4: The shot is from King Grawl’s POV, his free hand points towards Thag. Thag is looking bored.

Grawl: You! Fetch me the bullwhip!

Thag: Of course, sire!

Grawl: On second thought, make it the cat o’nine tails!

Thag: Good choice, sir!

Grawl: Better yet, get the thorny hydra-cane!

Thag: Right away, my liege!

Sean man, you have a way with insults - "you living stain" has got to be one of the best I've heard for a while .

And well done for the submission mate, I liked the way that there is a twist in the story with Korr turning on his King. A bit of a change from the handsome hero riding in to save the day.

Keep going dude!
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artloader View Post
Hey that's me! Let's see if I can't turn this into a dog's dinner.


Hmmm OK so I reckon maybe the principle of making the panel description match the last thing said might work here ...


Panel 4: The shot is from King Grawl’s POV, his free hand points towards Thag. Thag is looking bored.

Grawl: You! Fetch me the bullwhip!

Thag: Of course, sire!

Grawl: On second thought, make it the cat o’nine tails!

Thag: Good choice, sir!

Grawl: Better yet, get the thorny hydra-cane!

Thag: Right away, my liege!
Nope.

This just turns it into the same thing.

Schuyler? You're next, if you'd like to give it a whack.
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Old 02-27-2016, 01:24 AM   #9
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Sean, I've provided links to two film scripts below, as Sam had mentioned The Princess Bride and to which I've added Space Balls. Take a look at how the characters spoke coming from two different writers with two different approaches to comedy.

https://sfy.ru/?script=spaceballs

http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/princess.html

Your script, I found, didn't quite fit a particular genre, sub-genre, or combination (ie. romantic comedy) when it came to your approach to the story or its intention to lean towards a mix of comedic fantasy. Some of it could be considered funny, but there wasn't enough of it to aim in that direction for me. Korr clocking the king while in menacing shadow, for example, didn't lean towards comedy. Figure out what intention you have for your story and work to make that happen.

The character of Korr didn't come across, at least for me, as someone who was simply reluctant to do the bidding of his king due to having a moral compass. This message can definitely be strengthened when you consider another draft of this script.

For the lighting issue, you say that you have windows to let the light in to help create those shadows, but consider the clouds filling the dreary gray sky that you describe in your very first panel, which would eliminate the strength of the exterior light source you're relying on. Here's where consistency and keeping track of your story elements will help avoid the confusion, even for yourself.

I'm a little unsure of what you meant in asking the question regarding introductory scenes in comics. Can you explain this a bit more to me? My comment had more to do with build up to the happenings in this scene, where I felt like there wasn't enough of it. This didn't feel like an introductory scene to me, but rather one that needed something before it. Should you have had a conversation between the two guards before the king arrived with the princess? Probably. This would have put more focus on Korr as a central, not secondary, character right from the start. Reluctance? This would have been a good spot to introduce it. Not only that, you could also have offered some form of backstory through brief exposition.

I hope this helps.
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Old 02-27-2016, 07:38 AM   #10
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Thanks for the scripts!

Two of the TPG lessons I tried to incorporate into this script were to make an interesting first page, and to start the story as late as possible. I definitely see what everyone's getting at with incorporating the guards into the action sooner, but I felt pages 3 and 4 were soon enough. The thrust of the story is the guard turning against the king, but that turn doesn't have as much of an impact if we don't first understand the relationship between the guard and the king.

My first thoughts, when I made that earlier comment, were that everyone was suggesting I move up the clobbering to the first two pages in order to get the guards into the action right away, and I was worried that that was too soon, that surely there could be room for more introduction before we get to the action.

I can definitely see the point of adding a few pages at the start to introduce the guards and build up to the king's arrival. That was an addition I was thinking about for a possible rewrite.

But adding two pages of introduction pushes the clobbering back to pages 5 & 6 (to maintain the page turn), which now I'm worried would be far too late to have the instigating incident.

So how do I maintain the rapid speed of the build-up/twist while making room for a longer introduction?
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:30 PM   #11
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I'm not sure you do!

"My name is Korr. As I'm one of the Orc King's guards you may be asking why the guy in the corner with the black eye and the sore jaw is His Regal Majesty. It's like this..."

For us to enjoy the twist you're describing, we have to either care about Korr, or care about the princess. Neither seems possible within a few pages, so you can't have a twist on page four which is a twist.

If you want to have it be the incident which kicks everything off, you might need to show Korr's life beforehand, and the events that lead to him making the choice. This would happen several pages after page 4.
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Old 02-28-2016, 06:39 PM   #12
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Here's a link I want to share about inciting incident and the first act turn, something I have saved as a bookmark on my computer:

http://narrativefirst.com/articles/p...iting-incident

I want to explain to you how I see the inciting incident and first act turn in your story from what I've read of it:

Korr's attack on the king, to me, isn't the inciting incident, but rather the first act turn. What IS the inciting incident is Korr's change of heart, his turn from blindly following his king's direction and making the choice that it is wrong. It is this that sets the story in motion, that gives it its direction and theme. With this said, you have plenty of opportunity to create backstory and plot before your first major conflict, the attack on the king, as your first act turn and last page of your first issue.

Tell me if this makes sense to you.
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Old 02-29-2016, 02:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanIanMills View Post

So serious question that I think I'm failing to understand: is there no room for an introductory scene in comics?
The most important thing is to be interesting as soon as possible, preferably page one. Unfortunately, backstory isn't interesting (not right away, at least), so if that's what you mean by an introductory scene, then it's probably not a good idea.

Personally, here's how I would lay out this story (I'm still learning myself, so please let me know if any of this doesn't work):

Page 1 - Show the princess getting captured. A nice chase scene should work.

Pages 2 and 3 - Show Korr getting ready for his shift. Use this time to show what he's like and how he interacts with the other guards. Maybe they make fun of him for his artistic side. Maybe he complains that the king's torture methods are inefficient.

Page 4 - Start your story here. Grawl comes in with the princess, and so on.

(I used pretty much the same setup for my recent TPG submission, which, if you'll recall, didn't exactly go over too well, so keep that in mind.)
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Old 02-29-2016, 02:18 AM   #14
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Narrative captions might be a good idea.
Please, don't use narrative captions. Dialogue is (almost) always more engaging.
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Old 02-29-2016, 02:39 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Colle View Post
Here's a link I want to share about inciting incident and the first act turn, something I have saved as a bookmark on my computer:

http://narrativefirst.com/articles/p...iting-incident

I want to explain to you how I see the inciting incident and first act turn in your story from what I've read of it:

Korr's attack on the king, to me, isn't the inciting incident, but rather the first act turn. What IS the inciting incident is Korr's change of heart, his turn from blindly following his king's direction and making the choice that it is wrong. It is this that sets the story in motion, that gives it its direction and theme. With this said, you have plenty of opportunity to create backstory and plot before your first major conflict, the attack on the king, as your first act turn and last page of your first issue.

Tell me if this makes sense to you.
Based on the article you linked to (or at least what I understood of it), I'd say the inciting incident is either the princess getting captured or Korr knocking out the king. The former is the first part of the chain of cause and effect (without it, nothing else would have happened), while the latter is the moment that makes the story what it is. Which is the inciting incident supposed to be? (The link wasn't entirely clear. Or I just didn't get it.)
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