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Old 02-07-2015, 09:28 AM   #1
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TPG Week 215: Muddled Storytelling


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have another submission from Fabian Andres. We also have Samantha LeBas in the calming purple, and I'm the jerk being mellow in red. Let's see what Fabian has with

INK

Notes: This story is written to be developed in black and white.

(Also, this was written in a 10 pt size. I raised it to 12. Why am I not pitching a fit? Because Fabian warned me that this second entry was at 10, and assured me it would never happen again. I'm holding him to his word. Who says I don't give people a chance?)


ONE

Panel 1: Medium shot. Upper tier. It’s Nighttime and DARIO is in a poorly lit alley. We can’t really see much of what’s happening around him. He has a worrisome expression. DARIO is wearing an unbuttoned trench coat, revealing his white button-up shirt. (Where is the light coming from? What is he doing with his hands? Is he standing still or walking? Where is he looking?)

1. NARRATION (DARIO): How in the world did I end up in this mess?

Panel 2: Medium close up on DARIO. Upper tier. He’s facing us and is at panel left. He’s looking over his shoulder, laying his eyes on AURORA. The girl is standing in the alley as well, frozen in place and featuring a shocked expression, eyes wide open. She’s wearing a bulky black scarf that covers her mouth and a long, dark fabric jacket that reaches a point barely above the knee. The sleeves extend barely past the elbow. She also fashions(this means ‘make or styles’ as you’ve used it here. I don’t think you want her making jeans and boots in the alley. Words mean things.) gray jeans and short, black combat boots. (See visual ref 1.2)(If this is a recurring character, her description should be in a separate place. If she's a one-off, then this is fine.)

2. AURORA: No… what happened? (I'm going to have a rant at the end of this page. Look for it.)

3. NARRATION (DARIO): Poor little Aurora… she’s terrified, and just as confused as I am.(How old is is Aurora? Her description sounds like an adult, but this makes her sound like a child.)

Panel 3: Long Shot. Borderless panel. We see a group of cops(how many?) at panel left, they’re pointing their guns at DARIO. They fashion(...) classic police uniforms and peaked caps. (See visual ref 1.3) DARIO is near the center of the panel. His body language indicates that he’s ready to start running towards(one runs ‘in’ a direction, not ‘toward’ it.) the other direction. His eyes are set on the armed men and his eyebrows are raised in alarm. AURORA is still behind him. The corpse of IAN lies in the floor (There's a difference between the floor and the ground. Semantics? Probably, but we're writers, and as writers, as Sam said—words mean things.), in front of DARIO. IAN is wearing a long, white lab coat, button-up shirt, dark pants, black shoes and round glasses. His head is covered in his own blood(Logically, there’s going to be obvious damage to his head and body, that would tell us what kind of injury he sustained, unless that’s unrelated to the blood on his face, in which case, lose it. Guy lying on the ground in a rainy alley at night already says, ‘dead’. Tell us where the wound is, and what made it.), as is his lab coat and part of the floor. The rain (We need to know it’s raining in panel 1.) carried(always in present tense, ‘carries’.) the blood away from the corpse.(Where is the camera?

4. COP: Stop right there!! Hands where we can see ‘em, fat-head!(underline the words you want to emphasize.)

Click here to read more.
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Old 02-07-2015, 11:16 AM   #2
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Quote:
Panel 1: Long shot. Upper tier. DARIO and AURORA stand in front of a street, they’re at the center of the panel, facing us. It’s nighttime. DARIO extends his hand, asking for(‘hailing’?) a taxi to stop while AURORA stands next to him. In the back we see a building. Several labels/signs indicate the building is part of an airport. Both characters now wear their outfits from Page 1.(What city are we in? There’s usually a cue where cabs wait for passengers at an airport. That looks a lot different than standing outside

1. NARRATION (DARIO): We took a flight to America, but as usual…(delete ellipses add comma) my father was nowhere to be found. (I don’t even have the words… Schuyler! Please tell us why this is extremely nonsensical. Calm down, Rin. I’m going to get to you eventually.)
The characters are getting in a cab with the airport behind them. This tells me that they have just arrived. It is possible that they are flying planes around the country looking for him, but if that is the case, it needs to be explained.

As it is, the caption that goes with the panel, makes no sense, because they just got to America. The father was nowhere to be found, at the airport.

I think that's what you were looking for, Steven.

I am not sure, Fabian. But, I am wondering if you keep saying 'fashion', when you mean 'fancy'.

Quote:
She also fashions gray jeans and short, black combat boots.
She also fancies grey jeans, and short, black combat boots.

'Fancy' is not really used this way anymore, but I am wondering if that's what you meant?

-Sky
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Old 02-07-2015, 11:56 AM   #3
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And that's exactly what I was looking for.

Thanks, Schuyler.
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Old 02-07-2015, 12:38 PM   #4
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Thanks, Schuyler! For some odd reason i "fashion" as synonym for "wears". This, of course, has gone horribly wrong, lol. Easy fix (it should be). In fact, i had stopped using that for a while now. I sort of saw that coming. Thanks for reviewing the panel/caption.

Steven, you caught me. I'm sure you always do, but deep inside i hoped i would be able to fly under your radar for a couple of entries (i'm talking about y native language, which in fact is spanish). By the way, i suck at spanish so i guess i'm mediocre at both, lol.

Until next time!
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Old 02-07-2015, 12:56 PM   #5
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Hey, Fabian.

Like I said, if it weren't for the odd word usage here and there, you wouldn't be able to tell just by reading you.

Again, that's an achievement, and something to be proud of.
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Old 02-07-2015, 03:11 PM   #6
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I know! Felix and Rin… How about you two run down this page for us? Only the page.
Fabian Andres, let’s run this (page) down!

Format
The font size has already been mentioned. Judging by what appeared on the TPG website, there also seems to be a font-consistency problem – some words are in (Times New Roman?) font and the rest is in (Calibri?). But this might be due to re-formatting conversion, IDK.

Generally, if you want to emphasise words then you should underline them rather than… whatever it was that you did.

Don’t double your punctuation (#15).

Panel Descriptions
Mr. Forbes recommends keeping your panel descriptions below 50 words. Your word count, by panel, was: 73 – 45 – 37 – 17 – 22 – 26 so they’re mostly fine, though they could definitely be more precise.

You ask for your characters to display two emotions at once (fear and awe, then fear and confusion, with an expression of anger in between); I don’t know if an artist could draw this, but I suspect not.

Pacing
Last we saw of the cops was on page 1 where they had a gun on Dario. When we come back, they’re already dead. That’s a pacing problem, because we’ve skipped over the conflict and resolution. That’s a lot of drama that’s been lost.

What you DO show us on this page is pretty well paced. We stay in one time frame, one location, and use six panels to go from dead doctor (page 5) to an abandoned warehouse (page 7) via sequential panels that don’t have huge chunks of time glossed over in the gutters.

Dialogue
You rely on dialogue too much; you summarise after the fact. The pictures should be telling the story, and we should see plot points unfold as they’re happening. You TELL us Aurora killed Ian and the cops, we never SAW any of it. All we saw was Aurora go into Ink mode (page 1) then the cops are dead on page 5; Ian’s eyes are surrounded by tendrils (page 5), then we’re TOLD he was stabbed through the chest (although on page 1 you say he has a head wound). Comics readers want to see super powers in action, not be told via dialogue after the fact.

#2 and #3 is a tautology (“It was her. It was Aurora. She slaughtered…” – three ways to say the same thing.)

Nothing Dario says or thinks on this page makes me think he’s taking the situation seriously or focusing on the right details.

Content
To summarise the page: panel 1 – puts us back in the present. Dario processes what’s just happened and realises he’s not terrified (despite being an accomplice to a multiple homicide of cops, a capital offence punishable by death in some states.)
Panel 2 – Thomas appears (!). Says his son enjoys displays of power.
Panel 3 – despite going to Costa Rica, infiltrating Dario’s apartment, and persuading him to hunt down the father, when faced with the man responsible for her condition and bloody legs (page 3), Aurora displays… absolutely no emotion. Which brings up the problem of her motivation. What is it? I have no idea. We haven’t seen enough of her to know.
Panel 4 – Thomas snaps his fingers / says a trigger word…
Panel 5 – … that has caused Aurora to collapse in the gutter between panels 4 and 5. May have been better from a pacing perspective to see her start to swoon in panel 4. As it stands, we have to infer after the fact.
Panel 6 – Thomas sets his guards on his son. Why? What’s his motivation? He tells his goons to, “Take care of (Dario),” but they don’t. They rough Dario up, maybe even torture him, but leave him bound, having to be dealt with later.

Content wise, this is one of the better, more coherent pages in the script. Stuff happens, it takes us from A to B... but it’s far from perfect.

(IMO)

PS - The critique above is in addition to the comments made by Mr. Forbes and Ms. (Miss? Mrs?) LeBas.
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Old 02-07-2015, 03:41 PM   #7
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Thank you very much for running this page down Rin! Everything you guys are providing is certainly helping become a writer, which i certainly appreciate. Next entry will be stronger thanks to you guys!
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:31 AM   #8
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Hey, Fabian! Kudos on your handling of a second language. You write English better than most native-English folk.
Regarding the "fashion" thing, you could say that someone "fashioned" a bandana out of an old t-shirt (that is, they created/crafted a bandana out of a t-shirt), and they're now wearing it on their head.

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Is there any interest here? No. Why? Ah, that’s the question, isn’t it?

(Psst! Plotz-gal! That’s your cue for conflict analysis.)
I see a trend starting, Steven! You DO remember why you call me "plotz-gal", right?

Fabian, Steven's referring to the fact I wrote a conflict analysis of the first Lazarus comic (it'll probably help you, take a look if you like), and because of that, he got me to do a conflict analysis of the previous TPG entry (my third post in that thread).

He asked again, so here I am.

PAGE ONE
I actually liked page one. Needed some editing, but it was interesting. Problem being, this first page is pretty much the only place I see real conflict, and most of the conflict is Aurora's. Not Dario's.

Quote:
AURORA (WEAK): No… Not again, please…
This is a little bit of conflict here. We know something bad is about to happen, and Aurora is begging for it not to happen. The fact we find out later that she's the one causing the deaths to happen adds conflict, because it's established that she doesn't want to do anything bad.

Dario has a little bit of conflict, because it appears that the cops are treating him like a killer when he's actually innocent. Eric Edson would call that "unfair injury", methinks, and it's a good way to get the reader to sympathize with your hero.

Unfortunately, things go kinda backwards from here. This story has a lot of potential to be good, but it's not there, yet. Part of it is lack of conflict.

PAGE TWO
Dario is walking down the street, smoking. A bum steals his wallet. Dario shrugs it off and enters his apartment.

I'm left wondering, why does the robbery matter? It has precisely no bearing on the rest of the story. Dario shrugs it off in two seconds flat.

It seems to me that the only reason this page exists is to give room for a little info-dump, but because that would've been boring, the wallet thievery was shoehorned in.
There are a number of ways you could have played off this so the stolen wallet is an important factor in the story, but nothing was done (you didn't even play the irony angle, considering he moved to CR to IMPROVE his life). It doesn't even add to the "unfair injury" because it doesn't happen in line with the events of the previous page, or with the exposition about losing his job and girlfriend.
Worst of all, because he shrugs it off so quickly, the reader is assured that what we just read was a waste of space.

No conflict on this page.

PAGE THREE
Aurora is sitting on his couch in his apartment. Perhaps there's a hint of conflict, but it's all Aurora's again (if Dario is your main character, he should be the one with the conflicts). She's bloodied, and she says that Dario's father did this to her. This COULD have been made into a real conflict (she's forced to seek help from the son of a man she hates, and she assumes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree), but the opportunity was missed.

So far, we've seen a very passive hero in Dario. He's at a murder scene he apparently had no part in, he's being falsely accused of that murder. He's contacted by a girl who wants to use him to reach his father. Everything is happening TO him. The only actions he takes is because someone asked him to take that action. Passive hero. Passive heroes don't sell very well.

PAGE FOUR
Still no conflict, here. They find the scientist with ease. Dario apparently has no idea of Aurora's true nature, so he can't even be conflicted about introducing this stranger to his assassin.

PAGE FIVE
Dario apparently still has no idea that Aurora's dangerous. He just wants to ask the scientist where his father is (because Aurora wants to know). There's no conflict here, as above.

PAGE SIX
The scientist and the cops are all dead, by Aurora's shadow-controlling power. Dario acknowledges this, yet has precisely zero reaction. No conflict. On top of it all, his father appears, which was who they were looking for, anyway. So Dario achieves his goal. There was potential to create conflict with this scenario (given that Dario apparently moved country to get away from the guy), but because Dario was so easy-going about helping Aurora reach his father, the conflict is non-existent.

Quote:
NARRATION (DARIO): Seriously, how in the world did I end up in this mess??
Um, he willingly went along with the whims of a complete stranger? People aren't allowed to say stuff like this when they waltzed directly into poor decisions.

PAGE SEVEN
Dario's been beaten up, but all he cares about is how Aurora can do what she does, accompanied by a stock-standard desire for revenge.
Suddenly we flash back to a conversation that happened a week ago. Apparently Aurora revealed her power to him, and even taught Dario how to use the power himself.

Quote:
AURORA: Yes. We can use it to take revenge(comma) and free ourselves from him.
This removes any last hint of conflict from this story. If the whole plan was to "take revenge" on the father by using their power, then surely killing was going to be a factor? I don't understand why Dario thought everything was going to be peachy in the alleyway.

PAGE EIGHT

The father is killed. So, not only did they find him (which is achievement of the goal revealed at the start of the story), but they kill him too (which is the achievement of the "revenge" goal revealed a little earlier).
When you set up goals for the main character and they achieve those goals with virtually no obstacle, there's no conflict.

Quote:
NARRATION (DARIO): That’s it. My life is over, I’ve lost everything.
This wasn't the story you told.

I think there's a lot of potential for a pretty kickass story here, but it's been lost behind the passive hero, lack of conflict, on-the-nose dialogue, and the massive gaps in logic.

I'd very much like to see you return to this story, Fabian, once you've polished your writing skills some more. At the moment, this isn't the story you were trying to tell, and I think the story you were trying to tell could be pretty cool.

I hope that helps!

(p.s. sorry if there are a whole bunch of things I've said above that don't make a lick of sense. My brain went to sleep some hours ago. Time for me to hit the sack.)
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:53 PM   #9
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Panel 6: Long shot. IAN runs towards us with a deranged expression. His glasses are in mid-air, they fell. The wall he was pressing his body against is at panel left. DARIO and the exit, including the opened metallic door, are at panel right. DARIO is doing nothing but staring, in awe, at IAN. A pitch-black, ink-like strand protrudes from bar’s darkness, through the exit and into the alley. (See visual ref 5.6) The pointy-ended strand curves in the air, following IAN. It’s likely that we’ll hve to give it a white border to avoid the strand from getting lost within other elements, given the fact that this is in B/W. (If I’m not mistaken, this panel breaks the 180 rule. Ryan Kroboth—do you think you could thumb this out? Or Morganza, if you’re around. Not the entire page, although I’d love that, but just this panel and the panel before it. So, Panel 4, panel 5, and panel 6. If I’m correct, you’re trying to lead your artist to a very bad place, Fabian.)
Sure thing, Steven!

I decided to do the whole page, since panel one demonstrates where the "180 line" has been set up.



As you can see, Fabian, this shows you the point Steven was making in your edit. When we get to panel six the action becomes reversed. As you know, panel descriptions are read from left to right. Placing Ian first in the panel description means he must be on the left of the panel. You have been very careful in making sure characters are placed correctly in the panel description up to this point, so this may have just been an oversight.

If you are unfamiliar with the "180 rule" it basically states that there is an imaginary line drawn through the scene. Each character stays on the respective side of that line. Established on the previous page, Dario is always on the left and Ian is on the right. This trend continues to the top of page five. Suddenly, panel six reverses this, which can throw a reader out of the story. Perhaps worse than this is the fact that he is running back "into" the book. Page five is your page turn. Having the action move in this direction disrupts the eye flow.

In panel four you called for Aurora to be in shadow. I'm fairly certain the term you were looking for is silhouette, so that is what I did for the thumbnail.

I decided to go through and adjust the panels to show you what the page would look like if we flip the bottom panel to keep the "180 rule" in tact.



Changing the direction of the last panel effects several panels on this page. The direction the door opens has to be changed based on the final panel. Another thing that I like about the adjusted layout is panel 5 now looks back toward the story (and the eye would look downward more) and keeps the eye properly moving through the page.

It was mentioned in the edit that dictating the layout takes away from the artist. Personally, I would have liked to make this a four tier page. Panel one stretching across the top of the page, giving it enough room to show more of your scene. Really playing with this concept, I could have done this panel in profile shots and made the right of the panel the door which was established at the bottom of the previous page. Then, I would have had some more room for panels two and three on the next tier, allowing me to have more room for the backgrounds and establish where the characters are spatially. If it has a story purpose, that’s fine. But otherwise, trust your artist and give them the freedom to play. Doing so will get you the best results possible.

I highly suggest reading the book Alyssa recommended. I’m currently making my way through it, and it has helped shed some light on making better stories. Another book I would recommend is Framed Ink. Even if you are not an artist, you are working in a visual medium, and this is one of the best books that demonstrate how to think visually.

You have a great attitude, Fabian. I hope that you go back and visit this script with the feedback given and resubmit in the future. Best of luck to you.

Ryan
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Old 02-08-2015, 09:24 PM   #10
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Thank you, Ryan.

Beautifully executed, beautifully explained. And then even corrected, to boot!

Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen! This is what leading your artist astray looks like.

Very, very well done, Ryan. Thank you, again.
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Old 02-08-2015, 11:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Steven Forbes View Post
Thank you, Ryan.

Beautifully executed, beautifully explained. And then even corrected, to boot!

Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen! This is what leading your artist astray looks like.

Very, very well done, Ryan. Thank you, again.
You're quite welcome, Steven. It's always a pleasure to help out.
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:20 PM   #12
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Jumping in here late, since I'm reading this at work.

I had some ideas about tightening up the script's dialogue, especially on page 3. I didn't want to come off like a jerk, making my own "revision" to it, so that's why I didn't post it here. The story has potential, but there needs to be some tightening up done, so that characters don't just bowl over and say, "Hey, I guess we'll do this now..."

For example, I saw no reason for Dario take a bloody woman to his father. I mean, what reason did he have, sheer boredom? "Hey, chica, you're bloody and I'll offer to take you to the hospital in one breath, but in the next breath, for no other reason than you asked, I'll take you to my father." It seemed to make sense that she would tease him with a little of her backstory, as much as she might want to say, and let Dario's own curiosity drive HIS desire to see his through. I don't know Dario's relationship to his dad, but if he doesn't like his dad, he might take Aurora to give her peace (as revenge against any of his dad's motives). If Dario cares for his dad, he might take Aurora to clear the family name of the accusation "sadist". The fact that Dario doesn't object to "sadist" tells me Dario probably isn't that concerned with his father's image.
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