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Thread: TPG: Week 44 - Brian Augostino

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    TPG: Week 44 - Brian Augostino

    Brian Augostino is up today. Let’s see how he does.

    PAGE 1 (7 PANELS)

    PANEL 1. It’s mid-November in Vermont. We’re looking at a clearing in the woods. There is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. It’s daytime and there are snowflakes falling. We see a large Whitetail deer with a 10-point rack. The deer is facing the left side of the panel.

    1 Andy (OP): I see it. Looks like an 8-pointer.

    2 Ethan (OP): It’s 10.

    PANEL 2. We’re looking directly at Andy and Ethan. They are lying down with their elbows propped up on a flat rock. Andy is on the left of the panel wearing traditional hunter orange. He has a pair of binoculars in his left hand but they are not up to his eyes. Ethan is on the right wearing a white skullcap and windbreaker style jacket. He has an intimidating rifle with NO scope. He is aiming at the camera.

    3 Andy: Here, Ethan, take a look.

    4 Ethan: Don’t need ‘em. I’ve been watchin’ him for a while.

    This may be the reaction you’re looking for, or it may not, but I’ve already decided that Ethan is the sort of idiot who thinks he’s too cool for protective coloring. Wearing white in the woods, during hunting season, is just begging to get killed. There are far too many over-eager yahoos who will shoot at any flash of white, thinking it’s the tail of a running deer. He’s not only endangering himself, but also his friend. I don't know about Vermont, but, in a lot of places, wearing protective coloring during rifle & shotgun season is required by law. It's that important.

    But, keep in mind, this is just a personal reaction. There are those who feel differently. And I'd probably let it slide, if this was the only thing that made me dislike the guy (I'll get to the other reasons later).


    PANEL 3. We’re back in the clearing. This is a reverse angle of panel 1. We see a full profile shot of the deer facing right. In the background are endless trees. Andy and Ethan are in these woods at a slightly higher elevation than the clearing. Their balloon pointers should be coming out of the trees near the top of the panel.

    5 Andy: Gotta be about 800 feet. Wanna get closer?

    6 Ethan: Why? I’ve got the shot.

    Okay...I guess, technically, you haven’t broken the 180 degree rule, because this is exactly 180 degrees reversed, but with the way you’ve got this set up (swapping profile shots), you might as well have. I think it’s still going to be disconcerting, and there’s really no reason for it. I would suggest using the panel 3 shot for both panel 3 and panel 1. That way you’re maintaining your angle and just zooming in to see the hunters and then back out again. (And consider the fact that, if we’re seeing the deer from both sides, we should be seeing his buddies too - which also makes swapping angles a bad idea)
    You could also just do it all in two panels – a shot of the deer with the off panel dialogue, then a shot of the hunters with the rest of the dialogue, then on to Panel 4.


    PANEL 4. Same angle as panel 3. A bullet can be seen exiting the neck of the deer along with some blood. 2 other bullets with trail lines can be seen in the air heading towards the right and left borders.

    7 SFX: BLAM BLAM BLAM

    I suggest at least zooming in for a closer shot on the deer, so you don’t have yet another view of a deer, in profile, standing against a backdrop of trees. A new angle at some point wouldn’t hurt either. Things are pretty static so far.


    PANEL 5. Back to a shot of the 2 hunters. Andy is still looking through the binoculars. Ethan has gotten up from his firing position.

    8 Andy: That first shot dropped him.

    9 Ethan: I know. The other 2 were for his buddies.

    10 Andy: Other 2? (I suggest substituting “Buddies?” here. Andy already knows about the other shots, but not about the buddies. And I'd spell out the "two" - it'll look better)

    11 Ethan: Stay here, Andy. I’m not done yet.

    PANEL 6. Shot of Ethan running through the woods towards the camera. He doesn’t have his rifle with him.

    No dialogue

    PANEL 7. Ethan has reached his destination in the clearing. The deer lies dead in the snow. There is a good size pool of blood around the animal’s head. Ethan is standing to the right of the deer looking down at it. In the very bottom left corner of the panel, we can see a hint of a 2nd pool of blood.

    No dialogue

    Nope. Unless you’re writing Japanese manga, your positioning is backwards. You want Ethan on the left side of the deer, looking at the deer on the right, with the second blood pool in the bottom right corner. That’ll lead the reader’s eyes onward to the next page. The positioning, the direction that the dominant character is looking, implied movement… should all lead the reader to the right.

    PAGE 2 (6 PANELS)

    PANEL 1. Same angle as panel 7 on page 1. We pull back a bit and see 3 big bucks lying dead in the snow fairly close to each other. There are 2 10-pointers and a 12-pointer.

    No dialogue

    Two 10-pointers and a 12-pointer, eh? This must be a fantasy story.

    PANEL 2. Tight shot of Ethan lifting up his right pant leg to reveal a big knife strapped to his leg.

    No dialogue

    PANEL 3. Ethan is crouched by the first 10-pointer. The knife, in his right hand, is buried in the buck’s lower belly down by the anus.

    1 SFX: Shlittttt

    Viewpoint? Are we looking more toward Ethan? More toward the deer? At both from the side? Do you want the gory details hidden, or celebrated?

    PANEL 4. The knife is now buried in the deer’s chest up by the animal’s front legs. The incision is slightly spread open revealing a hint of the innards. Ethan has a hold of the knife in his right hand. His left hand is unzipping his white windbreaker style jacket. He’s wearing a white tee under the jacket.

    2 SFX: zipppppp

    So the knife is now buried in the chest. Did he just stab it twice? Or did he slice from where he started to where he ended? Don’t talk your way around it. Just say he’s finished cutting the deer open all the way to the chest. Much clearer.

    Are you writing like this to avoid moving panels? (that’s the impression I’m getting) If so, stop worrying about it and just tell the artist what’s happening. There are worse things than a moving panel, and an unclear description is one of them. And, as long as the artist can find the frozen moment you’re going for, you can tell the artist the things that built up to the frozen moment – that doesn’t make it a moving panel. Only asking the artist to show things that can’t be shown in a still image makes it a moving panel.

    But what I really want to know is… why are we even dealing with this? What’s the point? Show him get the knife, show him crouched down by the deer with a “Shlitttt” SFX - and we know he’s gutted the deer. Move on. You could have done this entire page in three panels. You could have done the last page in four. That means we could still be on page 1, and I wouldn’t be quite as bored as I am now.


    PANEL 5. Ethan has both arms in the deer’s slit belly. We get a good look at the nastiness that Ethan is about to remove from the carcass. We also get a look at Ethan’s muscular arms. We don’t get a good look at Ethan for another few panels but he is absolutely ripped! Not an ounce of body fat on him. Ethan’s knife and jacket are on the ground by his feet.

    No dialogue

    Yawn

    PANEL 6. We’re back to a shot from Andy’s binocular POV. The camera has pulled out indicating the distance between the 2 men. We can see a red pile of guts next to the 10-pointer. Ethan can be seen carrying the massive 12-pointer over his shoulder. He’s walking towards the third dead deer.

    3 Andy (OP): Jesus!

    >Sigh<
    Can you see my eyes rolling from there? Is there a point to any of this? Unless Ethan gets jumped by a sasquatch on the next page, I’ll assume not. Just poke me if I start snoring, okay?


    PAGE 3 (6 PANELS)

    PANEL 1. We’re back in the clearing. Ethan has stacked 2 dead deer on top of each other as a makeshift hiding spot. It’s close to the gutted deer. The camera is behind the stacked deer. We can see Ethan crouched with knife in hand. Blood is up to his elbows and all over his shirt and face.

    No dialogue

    His face? What did he do, stick his head in the deer? Or is he that bad at gutting one?

    PANEL 2. A tiny close-up panel that can be inset in the lower right corner of panel 1. Ethan’s ear with some kind of squiggly lines by it. Not exactly sure how to do this. The point is Ethan has heard a sound.

    No dialogue

    That’s not going to work. If the point is that he heard a sound, then let the reader "hear" the sound too, and pull the camera out far enough to show Ethan’s reaction to it (head cocked toward the SFX, narrowed eyes, glancing to the side where the sound came from).

    PANEL 3. A catamount has cautiously strolled out of the wood’s edge towards the clearing. He’s in the middle of the panel. The gutted deer to the right. Ethan, behind his deer wall, to the left.

    No dialogue

    Okay, show of hands… how many of you had to look up “catamount”?

    I did, just to check and make sure I was remembering right, because it’s not a word I’ve ever heard used much. “Medium to large cat that lives in mountainous areas” would have been so much easier. Or “big cat”. And, now that we have that out of the way, what kind of catamount is it? Puma? Bobcat? Saber-toothed tiger? Give your artist something to work with.


    PANEL 4. A tight shot of the big cat sniffing the pile of entrails.

    No dialogue

    PANEL 5. This should be the largest panel of the page. Ethan has leapt from behind the stacked deer. He’s spread eagle in mid-air with a scary war face. The startled cat is looking up at him.

    1 Ethan: AHHHHHHHHHHHH

    Scary war face? Does that mean he painted the blood on his face like Indian war paint? Or is he just bloody and making a scary face, like the average lunatic who jumps big cats with a hunting knife?

    PANEL 6. Tiny close-up panel that can be inset in the lower right corner of panel 5. Ethan’s knife is plunged into the cat’s shoulder.

    2 SFX: shlittt

    3SFX: ROOOOOAR

    In a tiny, close-up panel, inset in panel 5, the reader will probably not be able to tell where he plunged the knife. There’ll just be a knife, stuck in something. Now why would that be better than an opportunity to show the lunatic plunging the knife in as he lands on the very surprised, and angry, cat? Are you trying to make a man fighting a mountain lion boring? Because I think you’re actually succeeding.


    PAGE 4 (6 PANELS)

    PANEL 1. The camera is looking at the big cat. His fangs are showing mid-growl. In the foreground, we see a shot of Ethan’s right arm from the elbow down. He’s holding the knife and we see blood dripping off it.

    1 SFX: grrrrrrrrr

    PANEL 2. Close-up shot of the cat swiping Ethan’s left arm. The claws have ripped open Ethan’s flesh.

    2 Ethan: Ahhhhhhhh

    PANEL 3. Close-up shot of a deer’s head. We’re looking at the deer’s face. His tongue is dangling out of his mouth. This should be a tight shot of the face. In the background, slightly out of focus, we see the big cat reared up on its hind legs.

    No dialogue

    Out of focus? Are you kidding? You thought that was a good idea? This isn't a movie, or a photograph. The artist can't really draw something out of focus very well, so it'll end up being a photoshop effect, and it will stick out like a sore thumb. And why have the important part of the shot out of focus in the first place?

    On the good side… this could actually be a pretty cool shot if it wasn’t too tight, the important part was in focus, and Ethan was visible in the shot. On the bad side… all we actually have is a shot of a dead deer and a blurry cat dancing.


    PANEL 4. The cat is up on its hind legs as Ethan is tackling it. Ethan’s left arm is in the defensive position above his head while his right arm is stabbing the cat again in his belly.

    3 SFX: shlitttt

    PANEL 5. We’re back up in the woods where Andy is still watching. We’re looking directly at Andy who still has the binoculars up to his eyes. His mouth is wide open as he watches the carnage.

    4 SFX: shlittt, shlittt, shlittt

    5 SFX: shlittt, shlittt, shlittt

    6 Andy: ****in’ A

    7 Ethan (OP): Andy…

    Eight stabs. I guess he’s a lot better at hitting what he aims for when he has a rifle.

    PANEL 6. Back down in the clearing. Total carnage can be seen. The snow has turned red. The ground is littered with guts and Ethan’s kills. Standing in the center of all this is Ethan. This is the first good shot of Ethan’s upper body. He’s about 6’, 200 lbs. He’s covered in blood but we can see that he’s totally ripped. He’s not a hulking mass with a thick neck. He’s just fit, agile, and strong. He’s looking at the camera. The bloody knife is still in his right hand and he has a sinister grin on his face.

    No. The first good shot we had of Ethan’s upper body (even assuming we couldn’t see it during the instructional guide to gutting a deer) would at least have been when he was spread-eagled in mid-air on the last page. If you want to hide what Ethan looks like from the reader of the comic, fine (I think it’s pointless, but whatever). But hiding what Ethan looks like from your artist is just plain bad. Tell the artist what he looks like up front, then tell him what you do and don’t want shown, and when.

    8 Ethan (shouting): I’m all done now.

    Kind of wish I was. This scene was awful. You’re working way too hard to convince me how cool and tough (and cool) Ethan is (and tough, but don’t forget cool). I haven’t seen so much unbearable coolness outside a Clive Cussler novel (and, before you get excited, that’s not meant as a compliment). I don’t think Ethan is tough and cool. I think he’s an idiot, and a show-off. Now I realize lots of people like unbearably "cool" characters like that (Cussler is a best selling author, so he must be doing something right, even though I can’t stand his work), and those people may like what you’re doing here too. I don’t know. I know it pushes all the wrong buttons for me, but I’m just me. So write what you like – I’m just letting you know how I feel about it.

    And how I feel is… If you give me a story about a couple guys out hunting, one of them shoots a deer, goes to gut it, gets jumped by a mountain lion, and fights it off armed with only a hunting knife… I’ll probably think he’s tough and (if he hasn’t acted like an idiot) possibly even cool. But if you give me a story about some idiot showing off by illegally shooting three deer, then setting up an ambush for a mountain lion, and jumping the thing with a nothing but knife… I think, tough or not, he’s just an a**hole. I was rooting for the cat.

    But the real crime is that you could have told either of those stories in two pages, and even the story I didn’t like would have been much better served.



    PAGE 5 (6 PANELS)

    PANEL 1. Establishing shot of Tampa Airport Marriott hotel. Bright sun and blue skies. We can see parts of the runway and terminal in the background. Kay and Roger are in one of the hotel rooms.

    1 Kay (OP): I’m just gettin’ started.

    PANEL 2. Tight shot of a man’s face being rammed into a hotel room wall. The man is Roger and we can’t tell yet but he’s stripped down to his white briefs. He’s fit and trim. No beer gut or back hair on this guy. His smushed face is turned towards the camera. The arm doing the pushing can be seen from the elbow down. It’s a woman’s arm. Her nails painted black.

    I’m thinking, if we can see the woman’s arm all the way to the elbow… it’s not that tight of a shot. Personally I’d stick with a tight shot on Roger’s face, pulled out just enough to show the feminine hand with the painted nails, & skip the arm.

    And see what you did here? Describing Roger fully, even though we won’t see everything till later, so your artist knows what he has to work with? Do that at the beginning of the last scene.


    2 SFX: SLAM

    3 Roger: Easy!

    PANEL 3. Shot of Roger crashing into a chair and the bar behind it. Glasses and liquor bottles are flying from the impact.

    4 Kay (OP): You said you could take a little pain.

    5 Roger: …didn’t realize you’re a cage fighter.

    6 SFX: KERRASH

    I’d swap Roger’s line and the SFX. That way it’ll seem like he’s saying it after he lands, rather than while he’s in mid-air (which really doesn’t give enough time for that much talking).

    PANEL 4. Close-up shot of Kay’s mouth. She has black lipstick and perfect teeth. We can see just a hint of her black hair.

    7 Kay: I promise I’ll make you feel so good later.

    8 Kay: …but right now, baby?

    This would be an extreme close-up, not merely a close-up. But, is there a reason for it? Is Kay’s mouth somehow more interesting or meaningful than her face? You’re not even describing anything special about her mouth, like a sneer or an evil grin. Just a mouth. This is a wasted panel. Even with the extreme close-up, you could have used this panel to show the reader something. Why didn’t you?

    PANEL 5. Roger is being slapped HARD by Kay. We’re behind Kay facing Roger. Kay is slapping him with her right hand so Roger’s face is angled at the upper left corner of the panel. We’re pulled out just enough to see Kay has a black bra and panties on. Her hair is black and doesn’t go below the shoulder.

    9 SFX: SLAAAAAP

    10 Kay: Shut your mouth and take it.

    Is Roger still sitting on the floor in front of the bar, surrounded by pieces of a broken chair and bottles? Is he standing up? Trying to stand up? Are we getting a gratuitous butt-shot while Kay is bending over to slap him? Your priorities are messed up - you’re worrying about which way Roger’s face is angled and where it falls in the panel, but you’re not telling the artist what he actually needs to know to draw the panel. The artist can figure out the composition if he has to; you need to follow through on your descriptions so he knows what to draw.

    PANEL 6. Close-up of Roger. His hair’s a mess and he has a small trickle of blood running down from his left nostril. He’s dazed but still has a stupid grin on his face. He’s looking up at Kay.

    11 Roger: Goddamnit!

    12 Roger: You are so friggin’ hot!

    PAGE 6 (6 PANELS)

    PANEL 1. Shot of Kay Kicking Roger right in the nuts with her right foot. She’s wearing knee-high black boots.

    1 Kay: …And you don’t listen.

    2 SFX: WHUUUUMP

    3 Roger (OP): OOOOOOOOOOH

    Tell the artist about the boots earlier, just in case he draws an angle that should have shown them. There’s no reason to hide this stuff from the artist, so don’t do it. Describe your characters up front.

    If we see her kicking Roger, how can Roger be off panel? And is he still sitting on the floor by the bar, struggling to get up? Falling back down because he just got kicked? Doubling over in pain? What's he doing?


    PANEL 2. We pull back for a shot of Roger leaning forward with his hands in his crotch. He’s sitting against the bar on the ground with his legs out straight in front of him. He’s grimacing in obvious pain. Kay is walking towards the foreground so we just see her from the thighs down.

    4 Kay (OP): Maybe, you want the gag?

    5 Roger (whisper): nooooo

    PANEL 3. Full body shot of Kay Rich standing at the bathroom sink. On the wall in front of her is a large mirror. Above the mirror are 4 globe lights. She’s facing away from the camera so we can see her trim, tight backside. We see her front side from the waist up in the mirror’s reflection. On the bathroom counter is Kay’s handbag. I want Roger’s op remark to be in reverse because we’re seeing it in a mirror. Childish gimmick? Perhaps…but why not?

    Sure. Why not? I’d say your gimmick could be cute. But only if we can also see Roger reflected in the mirror, somewhere in the background (just make the door to the other room opposite the mirror). Otherwise it doesn’t make much sense.

    6 Kay: Yep…I got a whole bagga tricks for you. Chol Jung-Mo paid me to treat you like a king.

    7 Roger (OP whisper): …sllab yM

    PANEL 4. Tight shot of Kay’s open handbag. We can see handcuffs, a wedding band, and a handgun with a silencer attached.

    Was the handbag supposed to be open in the last panel? Is it still sitting on the sink in this panel? Or has Kay picked it up and is opening it?

    And how do you expect to see a wedding ring rattling around in the bottom of a handbag? Have you ever seen how much crap women stuff into those things? (Any women who might be reading… you know it’s true) Even without anything else but the gun and cuffs, I have trouble picturing it. If the bag was lying on its side and the ring was about to fall out, maybe it would work, but I don’t really see it.

    I know you’re trying to give us some insight into Kay, and I like that aspect. But I don’t think this particular execution (no pun intended) is going to work very well. Try and see if you can come up with some other way to slip the information to us, even if it means we don’t find out until later.


    8 Kay (OP): He said to reward you. To **** you as good as you’re ****in’ the U.S.

    PANEL 5. The camera is now on the sink facing out through the bathroom door. We can see the bathroom doorway and the left side of Kay. Kay is facing the other room. Her left arm is down at her side. We see Roger’s head in the distance leaning back so it’s peeking around the left side of the door frame. He looks confused.

    9 Roger: Huh?

    This panel description is unclear – you’re calling for a very specific shot, but I’m not sure what the shot is. Are we beside Kay, or behind her? I’m guessing behind her. So is Kay now outside the bathroom, so her right side is cut off by the door? Or is she in the doorway and her right side is cut off by the panel border? Why not just describe her as “standing in the doorway pointing a gun at Roger, but we shouldn’t be able to see the gun” – it seems so much easier to me.

    And Roger is leaning his head back to see her? I thought he was sitting up against a bar. Wouldn’t he have to lean forward? Or has he moved to somewhere else?


    PANEL 6. Pull back for a full body shot of Kay pointing her gun at Roger. She’s cool and collected and she has the weapon in her right hand. In the foreground, Roger is sitting facing the right side of the panel. His hands still down tending to his aching crotch.

    If Roger is now in the foreground, then you’ve done more than pull back. I got the impression that, in panel 5, we were looking at Kay from the rear. Now we’re seeing her more or less from the front, so you’ve reversed the angle. Even if we were supposed to be seeing her from the side before, it’s still a change of angle.

    And you’re screwing up your composition again, telling the artist which way to face the characters and doing it badly. If Roger leaned into view (in the doorway, last panel) from the left, that means he’s on the right when you reverse the viewpoint, and therefore is looking toward the left. That puts Kay facing somewhat to the right, aiming somewhat to the right, and the word balloon on the right, which keeps the implied motion going toward the right - where it belongs. You’re trying to send it toward the left, and that’s not where it belongs.


    10 Roger: Think I’m gonna barf.

    Unlike Roger, I think I’m feeling a little better. I see hope for this story.

    What happened here, Brian? You gave me four pages of dragged out, boring... whatever that was… that seemed to be going nowhere, for no apparent reason. Then you gave me two pages of tight story that moved along at a good pace, hinted at the possibility of something interesting around the corner, and showed me a character that might have a hope of being something other than obnoxious. It’s almost like this was written by two different people. The last two pages (compositional issues aside) are pretty good – do the rest like those two pages and you may have something.

    As far as your opening sequence... If Ethan was supposed to be obnoxious, then that’s all well and good, but that scene still needs to be cut down to half its length and I think you want to consider your choice of opening on an obnoxious character (unless he’s clearly a bad guy).

    Another problem is the way you insist on calling out the direction the characters are facing. It’s not your strong point, and you don’t need to do it (especially when you’re doing it wrong). I advise leaving it up to the artist. Just concentrate on giving the artist what you want to see, and the viewpoint, and let him take it from there - I think you’ll both be happier with the results.

    You’ve got some work cut out for you, but I do see potential here. Keep your pacing tight (like you did near the end), think through your descriptions without over-thinking them, quit hiding details from the artist in early panels… and I think you’ll be in pretty good shape.

    Anyone else have any thoughts?



  2. jamesfairlie Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    Andy is on the left of the panel
    You do that quite a lot, so I'll just point out the first one. I would leave that level of compositional detail to the artist, unless it's an important story point.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    You could also just do it all in two panels – a shot of the deer with the off panel dialogue, then a shot of the hunters with the rest of the dialogue, then on to Panel 4.
    I think that's quite a good idea, but you might have to do something about the amount of back and forth dialogue you would end up with.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    PANEL 5. Ethan has both arms in the deer’s slit belly. We get a good look at the nastiness that Ethan is about to remove from the carcass.
    Why? From here on in the scene almost every panel description has the word "guts" or "blood " or "entrails" or "carnage" in it. I'm just going to come out and call it gore porn.

    And why did it take 5 panels to get to this point?

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    PANEL 5. We’re back up in the woods where Andy is still watching. We’re looking directly at Andy who still has the binoculars up to his eyes. His mouth is wide open as he watches the carnage.

    4 SFX: shlittt, shlittt, shlittt

    5 SFX: shlittt, shlittt, shlittt
    If you're trying to make Ethan look cool he should have killed the cat with a lot less stabs than that. He's already demonstrated he's good at killing stuff by shooting the dear. That makes me think that the reason he stabs the cat this many times is because he enjoys it - and that just makes him look psychotic.


    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    I don’t think Ethan is tough and cool. I think he’s an idiot, and a show-off.
    I agree completely with this. It actually makes me a little bit angry how much I dislike Ethan. I appreciate that vegetarian Green Party activists from Europe may not be your target audience, but I got the impression from Calvin's comments that he knew a bit about hunting, so if he doesn't like Ethan either you're in trouble.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    If you give me a story about a couple guys out hunting, one of them shoots a deer, goes to gut it, gets jumped by a mountain lion, and fights it off armed with only a hunting knife… I’ll probably think he’s tough and (if he hasn’t acted like an idiot) possibly even cool.
    I think this would go a long to helping Ethan not look look like a complete tool, but I also think it would help if he weren't so patronizing to Andy, and if he were a little less smug. I still wouldn't like him, but don't worry about that. I'll never like a character who's introduced to me killing stuff for fun, but I would at least have a grudging respect for him.

    If, on the other hand, you're trying to make him out as a bad guy then you've not gone far enough. I think it could help him look worse if he was downright mean and condescending to Andy.

    Sorry if that was a bit harsh. I liked the second scene and thought it could defiantly go somewhere interesting. My only issue with it was that there were too many pretty people in their underwear and not enough ugly people to balance it out, but that's just because I'm perverse, so don't worry about it
    Last edited by jamesfairlie; Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 07:51 PM.



  3. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfairlie View Post
    I think that's quite a good idea, but you might have to do something about the amount of back and forth dialogue you would end up with.
    Good point.
    I think the back and forth would probably be doable. It's only four lines and two characters. But three panels would be fine too, as long as the deer isn't getting flipped back and forth (and it would make the lettering a bit easier).

    If, on the other hand, you're trying to make him out as a bad guy then you've not gone far enough. I think it could help him look worse if he was downright mean and condescending to Andy.
    It would make him look worse, but I don't think it would make him work as a villain. It would probably just make him look like more of a jerk. He's not doing anything truly villainous, so he's not playing as the villain.

    To get him to work as a jerk (which can be a valid character if handled well), we need a victim to sympathize with. If we had gotten to know and like Andy, and then Ethan was mean to him, we might be able to get angry on Andy's behalf, and be engaged by the story that way. But, as written, Andy is just there to be impressed by Ethan's antics, so being mean to Andy won't work unless Andy is developed some more.

    But, even if Andy did have more depth, I still don't think it's the ideal scene to start the book with.



  4. BarriLang Guest

    I’ve had scripts on the forums but hardly comment. In light of Steve’s departure and Calvin’s (can’t get used to that…. Madelf to me ) arrival I thought I’d chip in a bit more.

    Now all of the comments I make are based solidly around how I construct a story and not from any actual training or knowledge in the field so take it with a fistful of salt.

    Ok as with the general consensus so far I did not like the 1st scene. It was slow, pointlessly violent (Killing 3 deer might well be a skill but come on… killing 3 unarmed animals with a high powered rifle? Surely that’s not the benchmark of a hero? Is he the hero? This first scene is so detached from the second scene that my brain can think of no conceivable reason that a redneck animal mutilator and a government assassin would ever come into contact. Unless he was discharged from the Navy Seals for being a nutter and is called back for “one last mission” I can’t see link.

    Mystery is good but the best mysteries are the ones that tell you everything but still have you guessing.

    To fix it? It’s hard to say because there’s no story defined (more is revealed and hinted at in the 2 pages of the second scene that the all of the 1st) I’m thinking CUT the 1st scene. It does nothing for Ethan or the story.



  5. brianaugostino Guest

    Thanks, Calvin. You're good at this and I hope you have a long run here at TPG.
    Nope. Unless you’re writing Japanese manga, your positioning is backwards. You want Ethan on the left side of the deer, looking at the deer on the right, with the second blood pool in the bottom right corner. That’ll lead the reader’s eyes onward to the next page. The positioning, the direction that the dominant character is looking, implied movement… should all lead the reader to the right.
    Now see, this is something that NEVER crossed my mind when writing it. Thanks for pointing this out. Somewhere in the cobwebs of my brain, I knew the golden rule about leading the eye to the right. I totally spaced on it. Fresh eyes are a good thing.
    Are you writing like this to avoid moving panels? (that’s the impression I’m getting) If so, stop worrying about it and just tell the artist what’s happening. There are worse things than a moving panel, and an unclear description is one of them. And, as long as the artist can find the frozen moment you’re going for, you can tell the artist the things that built up to the frozen moment – that doesn’t make it a moving panel. Only asking the artist to show things that can’t be shown in a still image makes it a moving panel.
    Totally worrying too much about it. I need to work on describing what I want to accomplish with the panel and let the artist do their thing.
    And how I feel is… If you give me a story about a couple guys out hunting, one of them shoots a deer, goes to gut it, gets jumped by a mountain lion, and fights it off armed with only a hunting knife… I’ll probably think he’s tough and (if he hasn’t acted like an idiot) possibly even cool. But if you give me a story about some idiot showing off by illegally shooting three deer, then setting up an ambush for a mountain lion, and jumping the thing with a nothing but knife… I think, tough or not, he’s just an a**hole. I was rooting for the cat.
    This is what concerns me the most. Ethan is the protagonist of the story. If he comes off as a psycho redneck asshole in the first TWO pages, I'm ****ed!
    SO not what I was going for. I think I know how to fix the scene, though. Andy runs with Ethan down to the clearing. They start dressing the deer. Out strolls the "big cat" Andy is scared....Ethan saves his friend...and we still get the man vs. animal fight scene. No baiting, less carnage, less blood, less asshole-ish-ness (hopefully.)
    What I was going for in this scene was showcasing Ethan's abilities. Superior eyesight, so, no scope on the rifle even from 800 feet out. Superior hearing (I didn't pull that one off so well.) Superior strength ( slinging a 200 lb animal over his shoulder with no problem.) What isn't explained in this scene is that Ethan has a lot of anger in him. He's a really good guy but just snapped out there in the woods. I have to reel that in a bit. I will write the scene again and make Ethan more likable...more heroic...less mutilator. And, he will have hunter orange on as well.
    I'm trying to remember why I had him in white and I really don't have a good reason. Thanks again Calvin, James, and Barri.



  6. CalvinCamp Guest

    Thanks Brian. I'm glad I could help.

    Quote Originally Posted by brianaugostino View Post
    This is what concerns me the most. Ethan is the protagonist of the story. If he comes off as a psycho redneck asshole in the first TWO pages, I'm ****ed!
    SO not what I was going for. I think I know how to fix the scene, though. Andy runs with Ethan down to the clearing. They start dressing the deer. Out strolls the "big cat" Andy is scared....Ethan saves his friend...and we still get the man vs. animal fight scene. No baiting, less carnage, less blood, less asshole-ish-ness (hopefully.)
    What I was going for in this scene was showcasing Ethan's abilities. Superior eyesight, so, no scope on the rifle even from 800 feet out. Superior hearing (I didn't pull that one off so well.) Superior strength ( slinging a 200 lb animal over his shoulder with no problem.) What isn't explained in this scene is that Ethan has a lot of anger in him. He's a really good guy but just snapped out there in the woods. I have to reel that in a bit. I will write the scene again and make Ethan more likable...more heroic...less mutilator. And, he will have hunter orange on as well.
    This helps me out. Now that I know what you're going for, I've got some ideas for how I think you could better pull off what you're looking for.

    For the superior eyesight... Some quick research reveals that the army apparently trains people to hit targets as far away as 300 meters, over nine hundred feet, without a scope. So 800 feet sounds like an excellent shot, but not necessarily something over-the-top amazing, and everyone will likely have a different idea of what amazing is, when it comes to marksmanship, anyway. So I'd suggest leaving out the exact distance, and just have Andy make some sort of comment to the effect that, "You've got the shot?! How? I can't tell it's a deer without binoculars". That way people can use their imagination to decide how far is an amazing shot. That'll also make Ethan counting points without the binoculars sound as impressive as it should be.

    For the superior hearing... once you have both Ethan and Andy at the deer, simply have Ethan (and the reader) hear the cat while Andy doesn't. Again, you can do this with dialogue. Ethan: "Don't move." Andy: What? Ethan: Shh! Something's coming." Something like that.

    For the superior strength... Yes, throwing a full-grown buck over your shoulders and carrying it around is impressive. But will all your readers know that? I suggest making his show of strength even more impressive (and getting to the action quicker).

    Here's how I would do the scene with the cat (note that I'm not saying these should all be on one page, or even start at the beginning of the page, I'm just numbering the panels for clarity):

    Panel 1
    Ethan is crouched down by the deer, with the hunting knife in hand, starting to gut the deer, while Andy looks on. Andy is holding both rifles while Ethan works. Ethan is looking up, off into the woods, with his head cocked.

    SFX:
    Grrrrrrr

    Ethan (whispering): Andy... don't move.

    Andy: What?

    Panel 2:
    Ethan is starting to rise, as he stares into the woods. His expression is grim. Andy is looking in the same direction, seeming confused.

    Ethan (whispered): Something's coming.

    Andy (whispered): I don't hear anything

    Panel 3:
    A large mountain lion is leaping out of the woods at them. Andy is falling back in terror, dropping the rifles, but Ethan is bracing to meet the attack.

    Andy: Aaaahhh!

    Panel 4:
    Andy is sprawling on the ground in a tangle of rifles, while Ethan is grabbing the cat (and getting a nasty bite in the process) as it pounces on him.

    Andy: Oh my God!

    Panel 5:
    Zoom in on Ethan, with Andy off panel. Ignoring the bite and claw injuries he's sustaining, Ethan uses a martial arts move (taking advantage of the cat's momentum) to slam the cat into the ground. Show the cat hitting the ground, with motion lines to indicate the throw.

    SFX (cat): Grrrrwl

    SFX (wrapping under the cat, where it hits the ground):Whudd

    Panel 6
    Ethan is on top of the cat, stabbing the knife into the cat. Ethan's face is a mask of fury.

    SFX (cat): Raaowlr

    SFX (at the knife): Schllt

    Panel 7:
    A close-up of Andy, eyes wide in horror, mouth hanging open. He looks like he's about to get sick.

    SFX: Shlliitt Splrrt
    SFX (growing weak): Rwrrwrrgll...

    Panel 8:
    Ethan is rising from the cat, which lies slashed to shreds, an almost unrecognizable lump on the blood-stained ground. Ethan's clothing is torn (revealing his ripped physique), he has blood all over him, bites, claw wounds, etc... The hunting knife is still gripped in his hand, dripping blood. Ethan's face is a mask of animalistic rage. Andy is sprawled on his butt, to the side, rifles lying forgotten on the ground, staring at Ethan with an expression of horror.

    Andy (small): F**k me.

    With something that, what you'd have is a couple of friends out hunting (which may turn some people off all by itself, but if you don't play it too gratuitously, it shouldn't be a huge problem - I wouldn't think) and no one is doing stupid things or being a jerk. Ethan should come off as heroic, because he just saved his friend's (and his own) life, and did an impressive job of it. But he should also come off as a scary bastard who just snapped and went berserk, so you get the anger issues in there. Just some suggestions, for whatever they're worth.

    You'd still have the issue (which Barri pointed out), that the two scenes don't connect at all. That's probably not a deal breaker, if the scenes are short and compelling - I don't think I'd have a problem, as a reader, with a series of two page scenes that introduced the primary characters, as long as they don't go on for too long and something ties the characters together fairly early in the book.



  7. brianaugostino Guest

    Man, Calvin, thanks a lot! This definitely goes above and beyond what you had to do. These are all great points and tips and I really appreciate the time you took to write all this out.
    I was thinking about several short scenes (2-3 pages each) to introduce my main characters. I will get that 1st scene down to 2 or 3....then Kay's scene is 2...then my next intro will be short and sweet as well....I want to keep the pace quick.
    Again, thanks for all the help. I'm sure I will steal, uhhh, borrow some of that dialogue you wrote



  8. CalvinCamp Guest

    You're welcome, Brian. Steal/borrow away.



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