View Full Version : When to use no tails

03-01-2015, 05:05 PM
So, I'm wanting to get this right and consistent.

The protagonist is an organic computer. Her speech normally comes over the ship's speaker system for those that cannot perceive her.

For the main character, he can see her because she can project an image of herself on his perceptions. She is able to manipulate his perceptions to give direction to sound, but for all others, her speech is kind of omnipresent in that it comes over a very impressive, advanced alien sound system on her ship.

So, should I use No Tail bubbles for anyone not the main and tail bubbles when in the presence of the main character?

Also, I need advice on how I would present speech that is directed solely at the main character's perceptions, like secret dialog that only the two can hear and engage in.

03-01-2015, 05:17 PM
Maybe move this into the lettering area?

What you're trying to do is going to be hard. Just as in a film, you'll need to show the same scene from his point of view as well as from others'. So only when we're in his head do we see the hologram.

I look forwards to seeing a response from one of the lettering experts! :)

Steven Forbes
03-01-2015, 08:33 PM
What you're asking for isn't much of a challenge. It's just a little more work on your part.

You're going to have to put in a (tailless) note whenever you want it to be tailless. That's the easiest way.

03-02-2015, 02:44 PM
What you're asking for isn't much of a challenge. It's just a little more work on your part.

You're going to have to put in a (tailless) note whenever you want it to be tailless. That's the easiest way.

I guess I worded it poorly.

I guess I was asking am I using it right?

Most times I've seen it used was in a crowd where the scripter didn't want to attribute the speech to one person, but make the whole a mob behavior.

But in my story, she is an individual, just not in the room where she it speaking. She can talk over a phone, so I know I can use a jagged speech bubble, but on her ship, should I have tails going to the ceiling or tailless bubbles?

Steven Forbes
03-02-2015, 02:49 PM
Tailless balloons.

03-02-2015, 04:33 PM
How will the reader know the computer is speaking, and how will they make the connection between the disembodied voice and the version that is a projection?

The closest analogy I can think of is Andromeda, but I don't think there are any comics for that. Next closest might be Pilot from Farscape. But even then I think they probably show actual Pilot or a projection. Even in TV a voice from nowhere would raise the question of where the voice is coming from. You could also look for representations like Harvey (Farscape) or Head-Six (Battlestar Galactica), but I don't think either of those is every even heard by anyone other than the person that can see them.

I would set up a distinct style for this character's balloon that can't be mistaken for anything else and then have tailed/tailless versions. Possibly a unique color, font, border, or all of the above.

For which to use when it could be either, that becomes a question of narrative POV. Which character's head are you inside of at that moment? If we can see the projection, then we would also see the voice come from that projection. And if not, then it would be disembodied. If you want to show the projection, but have the speech still be disembodied, then you might need a sort of "invisible woman" rendering of the projection for those situations.

Other solutions to "secret" conversations:

Look at telepathic dialogue conventions
Focus only on the two characters

So with all that in mind, my question would be, "Is the distinction between projection/disembodied essential to your story?" You'll have to spend exposition setting it up and might have to revisit repeatedly to accommodate new readers. Example, Quantum Leap had Al, and every episode explains, not just in the credits, but also often in dialogue that only Sam can see Al. But that's essential to the concept. If you're going to create something that needs explained every time, make sure it's indispensable to your story.