Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Don't listen to me...

Hello Everyone.
I haven’t been posting any actual posts in awhile. Just stuff focusing on Necessary Evil. My new comic book that will be in stores in October. This post is going to harken back to my older longer epic posts. Sit down with a bowl of cereal and prepare to kick back a bit.

For today's post I decided to do something completely different. Today's post is about my scripts. The art of writing. I don't normally like to share my thoughts on the process I go through in writing, but lately I have been getting asked questions about the subject. So for today's post that’s what I'm going to talk about. Now don't get too excited. I'm not going to give away all the secrets. I won't be talking about the secret magic writing potion I drink, or the creative cult I'm a member of that meets twice a month. Just some simple little things I think of as I write.

But before we get started I think it is important that I go over something crucial to this blog: I’m not someone to ask for advice about writing. I'm still new to the game. I have a lot of room to grow. I have years and years of practice to come before I feel I will be anywhere near the level I want to be as a writer. I’m a rookie. Minor leagues. I know writing isn’t easy. It’s really hard. Anyone tells you any different isn’t really a writer. Chances are they haven’t really written anything in their lives. Probably “note takers”.

Please don’t look at anything I say here as a rule. This is just my opinion, my own personal process. I wouldn’t want everyone to write like me. That would be boring. Also this is a “writing scripts” post, not an idea, or story post. Reading this won't help you with your ideas or overall story. Just, I would hope, in the process of writing scripts.

Also, for any of you jack-asses that are thinking “Those who can’t do… teach.”… fuck you. This isn’t a class, just a discussion of how I write. And then fuck you, for putting someone down for trying to help other people. Rot in hell.

That being said let's begin.

First up is what I like to call the
“Stuff or Something Rule”:
I have seen this in quite a few scripts. Mine included. Instead of writing what the character is doing they write “stuff or something.”
Page 6
Mason is in the spaceship’s cockpit, sitting in the pilots chair doing pilot stuff.

After “stuff” put in “or something”. Following me? Why not put:

Page 6
Mason is in the spaceship’s cockpit, sitting in the pilots chair flying the fucking space ship.

We’ll minus “the fucking” but you get the idea. Why put “stuff”, when you can put what they’re doing? This is a simple one that will spice up your scripts and keep them from being stagnant. I find I do this one a lot myself. It’s gonna happen as you fly though scripts.

Talk to your artist. Some love to draw giant robots but hate to draw cars. Some can’t draw a sidewalk, but can draw a spaceship. Some can draw big guys with muscles but can’t draw the inside of a gym for their big muscled guys to work out in. Sometimes you have a good idea of your artist’s talents. Your might have an artist that will want a more detailed script, or a script with less clarification for them to play around with. Depending on your story you might need to go into a more intense description. With this section I am going to get a bit more personal and use examples of my past scripts showing examples of all of these.
On "Lost Rites" I wrote a much more loose script. Low on detail and high on freedom.

Here is an example
Page 7
Kelly is running down a hallway.

I think we all have seen someone run down a hallway. Whether it was in a comic or in a movie. We’ve seen it. In this scene we know from earlier panels and the tone of the book that she is running scared it doesn’t need to be repeated. Also, I know the artist pretty well, he really doesn’t need much else. He knows what to do.

Now in a book like Necessary Evil on the other hand… This is from Necessary Evil issue 5; get yourselves a little sneak peak.

These next four pages star Ideal-Man and the White Knight.
Statue of Liberty looking as majestic as ever from of a high bird’s eye view. The statue should be cropped a tad, but easily visible and distinguishable to the reader. We can see the raised torch, the head and the feet from this downward angle. Its day time, and the water beneath is clean and reflective.

In the front foreground, a dynamic shot of a flying Ideal-Man punching another man, also flying, dressed like an Egyptian Pharaoh with a high tech edge. The Pharaoh's head has just taken the hit; one of his teeth is popping out of his mouth. This needs to be right in the reader’s face, like it jumps out at them. They need to see this first before their eyes adjust to what is going on in the rest of the page.

In the background, jetting around in the sky beneath them are the Pharaohs henchman, 5 of them dressed in armor, wearing jet packs, shooting large ray guns. They are shooting at the Statue of Liberty. On the top of the Statue of Liberty’s head you can see the legendary hero, the White Knight, in a sword fight with two of the Pharaoh’s Henchman. Flying around the head of the statue is a white horse with wings, this horse belongs to the White Knight and is flying away from one of the jet packed henchman. Also to help set the scene, not in this page, but will be in the next few pages, there will be a huge floating Pyramid. Don’t forget to add a few small touches, like a news crew and civilians at the base of the statue. It’ll be really small, but needed to complete the environment.

IDEAL-MAN: We can’t let them get away with this!

Much more detail isn’t it? It is a two page spread while the Lost Rites was just a panel. But still, why so much? Because describing two super heroes protecting the statue of Liberty from Super Villains is a lot more involved than a girl running down a hall. You are going to have a hard time finding models to pose for the NE scene. I know that the artist of this book will want to kill me when he reads that two page spread, but will have a fun time doing it. Notice I put what angle I thought it should come from. He might change it, but not before we talk about it. The artist for this book doesn’t mind a bit of “camera” angle direction. Not all artists can hang with that. They want that to be their jobs.
Also it’s a different kind of book. Lost Rites is a much more human, down to earth book, whereas Necessary Evil is on a larger scale.

Another example is this from a recent short I wrote for a pitch.

Page 2
Panel 1
Howard and Meghan very much in love, holding hands, are walking down the street together. It’s late at night. The only light source is from a street lamp above.

Again, I think we all have been on a walk with someone while we were holding hands. Not much more needed to be said. And honestly, much more might take the fun out of this scene for your artist. This shot is about emotion. Let your artist channel from their own memories here.

Here is a panel from another new book I’m working on called Dr.Voltage.
Page 1
Three of Doctor Voltage's sidekicks, Roy, Sean, and Lacey, looking dirty and kind of beat up, are walking through some thick tropical woods on the island. Lacey is trying to call for help on her com-phone in the background. Roy is leading the way in the foreground with a big machete, slicing a path for them to walk through.

I think this panel is a happy medium; a little detail, a little direction and a little freedom for the artist.

The next and last personal tip is a weird one.
Dialogue: The Day-to-Day versus the surreal?

Remember the Necessary Evil Statue of liberty panel? This was the dialogue.
IDEAL-MAN: We can’t let them get away with this!
I hate that line, its lame. But… what else would a super hero say as a mad evil Pharaoh from another planet is trying to destroy the Statue of Liberty? Let’s try a few. Say these out loud with me:
IDEAL-MAN: We mustn’t allow them to do this!
IDEAL-MAN: We have to stop them! The fate of the world depends on it!
IDEAL-MAN: Hey dude, whys you gots to be messing with lady liberty yo?!
Lame and Lame.
IDEAL-MAN: Take that you evil fiend!
IDEAL-MAN: Go back where you belong… the history books!
IDEAL-MAN: You were done before you even started evil Pharaoh!
IDEAL-MAN: You won’t get away with this as long as Ideal-man is on the job.
Or just go with what feels nature:
IDEAL_MAN: We can’t let them complete their mission, White Knight!
Which in of itself feels stiff. I know no matter what I am going to change that line, but to what? I’m not happy with it, but it gets the point across and rolls off the tongue.
Also another challenge is this: Ideal-man is talking about protecting the statue of liberty from super villains, not saying “Hi” to a friend. It’s not:
IDEAL-MAN: What’s up dude, how was your weekend?
I wish I could write a whole book with simple, easy dialogue that we find in every day life like that. But no, I want a challenge. I want to write dialogue like this:
LACEY: The evil Professor Irregular is threatening to destroy the White House with a rocket from her hidden base on Lava Island if the U.S. doesn’t give her 100 billion by 6pm.
ANTI: Ladies and Gentleman… please cover your children’s eyes, as this is a robbery! Remain calm and I promise you this will go off without a hitch!
MILLER: I could tell this silly looking Bank guy to let us in or I’ll blow his head off…
ANTI: Miller, Miller, Miller… That COULD work; however… I’d like something a little less Reservoir dogs and a lot more….
ANTI: Bond… James Bond.

See what I mean? Writing dialogue can be an interesting feat, you sometimes have to write a line that you have never found yourself or a friend speak aloud. It’s not always going to be as easy as a simple “Hello”.
My advice here? Have fun. Just have a blast with it. Place yourself in their shoes and read it out loud. Act it out. Get in character. And don’t think what YOU would say. Say what the character would say.
And you know what I think?
Ideal-man would say “We can’t let them get away with this!” He wouldn’t find it lame at all. That’s just something he would say as he is fighting off the bad guys.

Well that’s it for now. I hope someone finds this helpful or at least entertaining. I let you into a very private part of my life and I hope it was worth it. To some this might be all stuff they already knew. To some this will be new. But again, this is just what I think. You don’t have to listen to me, what do I know? You might have read this, and been saying “yeah I know all this, nothing new here” the entire time you read this, if so I hope you can bust out your last finished completed script and see if you really do. And if you do... well than stop stealing my shit! This is mine dammit. HaHa, Just kidding. But if you have no completed scripts, I hope you can learn some tips and tricks of your own from this post.

I love to write. It’s my passion and being able to share it with other people can be painful, but fun as well.

My next blog will be a standard one about DVD’s, TV, Comics and “stuff or something”…

p.s. I chose to not write or add the arists names for their own privacy. I havent gotten any of their permssions yet.


JAMILYN said...

Good points. Anyone who who thinks this was a waste of time because they already know all of this is a fool. Even if you "know" something it often helps to have it pointed out or reiterated for you. After reading this I don't remeber finding out anything new that was like discovering the holy grail but I know that I will pay closer attention to some of the things that you covered next time I write.

Keep the blogs coming.

Max Hazard said...

I can certainly dig. You may be still a rookie and new to the game. But as far as folks I know go, you are leaps and bounds ahead. Keep up the good work. And stop being a fair-weather wrestling fan!

PS Thanks for the "Slingshot" reference.