PDA

View Full Version : The Ride - Script Sample/Excercise


CLBedell
08-25-2015, 01:58 PM
Hello all! Looking for feedback on this sample script. This is not part of any particular story, although I might use portions of it at some point for whatever. This is pretty much just a disposable exercise for me. I am trying to work out the 'rough edges' of my technique.
At this point, I am well aware that the 8-panel page does not work in most situations. I realize it does not leave the artist much room to operate and include detail. My bad... I will keep that in mind on future efforts. Beyond that, I welcome any and all feedback. My goal is to improve and eventually 'get noticed.' Thanks everyone!



Page One

Panel One:
It is mid-day. An orange and white Haul-It-All truck driving down the freeway. A green highway sign just ahead indicates it is on a driving North along 286 towards San Antonio. The actual sign that exists in the real world indicates a split: the right heads towards 181/Shoreline Blvd… the left heads towards 37/San Antonio (with an Airport indicator sign attached to the top left corner.) For our purposes, it is not terribly important that all those details be perfectly accurate. It would be a cool touch, but the key is for the reader to see that the truck is in fact headed towards San Antonio.
Obviously the truck would not be alone on a major highway. A bit of light traffic can be seen. An overhead view would probably be the best way to portray all of these details, but a long view from the left-rear could work as well. Artist choice in this situation.

Panel Two:
Close-up shot of the truck’s dashboard and view of sign on side of road. The speedometer needle is halfway between 65 and 70 mph. The white sign on the side of the road reads “Speed Limit 65.” Both of these details must be in the picture… the only alternative would be to cram the speed-limit sign into the previous panel, but that might make it feel too ‘busy.’ I prefer to have it shown in this panel.

Panel Three:
Close-up of driver’s eyes in the truck’s large side-mirror. He looks nervous as he searches for any police that might be behind him. This is our first view of the driver. He is not a major figure in the story and is never seen again after this portion of the story, so any utilitarian male character will work.

Panel Four:
The driver now checks the watch on his left hand. Close-up of the time. It is 10:05 according to the cheap watch. Make it a digital watch, just to drive home the point that it’s a cheap piece of junk.

Panel Five:
Reaching back with his right hand, the driver pounds twice on the wall behind him.

SFX: THUMP THUMP

Panel Six:
With this portion of his job complete, the driver grips the wheel with both hands and settles back into his seat for the rest of the journey.


Page Two

Panel One:
Inside the back of the Haul-It-All truck. A dim amber light located on the rear wall casts eerie shadows throughout the inside of the compartment. What little see appears to have a slightly orange tint due to the light. Huddled in the compartment are eight people, packed in pretty tightly. The six men and two women are seated on the floor, shoulder-to-shoulder. They sit facing the middle, four on each side. Just enough space exists to allow them to bend their legs and hug their knees. Large, tightly packed knapsacks and backpacks rest between the legs of each. Even if they did have more light, there simply is no room to move around or do anything.
It is a ragged looking group. Clean clothes have become a distant memory. Several days have passed since the last shower. Knees poked through ripped jeans. Sweaty, mud-stained t-shirts hang like tattered rags. Their weariness can be read on their wind-chapped, sun-charred faces. Scarred, calloused hands tell the stories of harsh lives filled with endless toil. The men are unshaven to various degrees. They all are well overdue for haircuts. It is hard to tell from the light, but they all appear to be either light brown-skinned or very deeply tanned.
Only two of the characters need to be seated in any specific position. Jara must be located on the driver side, closest to the exit. Raffa must be sitting on the passenger side, furthest from the exit.
Jara is a middle-aged woman with an athletic build (think Linda Hamilton from the Terminator 2 movie.) She has a nasty scar along the right side of her chin, just under her lip. Dark hair in need of a trim. Eyes are brown, but impossible to tell in this light.
Raffa is young. Looks about 14 or 15... not old enough to shave yet. Thin build. Long curly black hair piled up on his head like a giant black mop. Desperately needs to cut the hair, as it tends to get in his eyes now. His face lacks the type of scarring we see on most of the others… smoother skin with less sun and wind damage.

At the sound of the driver’s signal, all eight heads have reflexively turned to face the source of the sound.

SFX: THUMP THUMP

Panel Two:
Jara checks the watch on her left hand. The time is synchronized with the driver’s, so the watch must read 10:05. This watch is a high quality item, in stark contrast to the cheap piece of junk worn by the driver. Not shiny or sparkly, but certainly an expensive watch. Dial, not digital, with a metal band. Her hand is rough and calloused… no long fingernails or colored polish.

Panel Three:
Jara looks at the cellphone held in her bandaged right hand. The screen says “No New Messages”

Panel Four:
Jara slides the cellphone into the backpack between her feet. Its stuffed full, bulging at the sides.

Panel Five:
Jara locks her gaze on Raffa, the young man furthest from her. Raffa stares straight attend with wide, nervous eyes. He wrings the straps of his backpack tightly with both hands. He is by far the youngest of the group.

Caption: Her initial instinct was to leave the boy behind. The boy is far too young to be subjected to this type of ordeal, too inexperienced to handle the pressure. He puts them all in jeopardy.

Panel Six:
As if sensing he is being watched, Raffa turns his head to face Jara. His eyes are still wide and nervous.

Caption: She also knows that in many ways, Raffa was more prepared than any of them. He had suffered the most, and had already paid a far higher price than the rest. He deserved the opportunity to be a part of this.

Panel Seven:
All traces of nervousness instantly vanish, and his eyes reflect hardened determination and intense focus. It’s the icy stare of a hardened battlefield veteran. His expression makes it clear that even if Jara had decided to leave him behind, Raffa would simply strike out on his own.

Caption: He shows fortitude and determination that serves as an inspiration to them all. And his natural survival instinct had already saved the entire group on two occasions.

Panel Eight: Jara sighs deeply and closes her eyes to think.

Jara: Sighhh…


Page Three

Panel One:
We see the truck taking right turn to an off-ramp and headed towards the city streets.

Panel Two:
In the back of the truck, the occupants all crash together a bit as the truck takes the turn. Its almost impossible to sit sideways in the back of a truck without shifting around drastically whenever a the vehicle takes a sharp turn. These people are already sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with no restraints. The sudden turn would naturally send them all careening to one side. Heads bump shoulders, elbows bump ribs, feet go everywhere.

Panel Three:
The eight occupants of the truck return to their previous, upright positions. One of the men rubs his head slightly. The second woman in the truck rubs a shoulder. No real harm done, just major annoyance.

Panel Four:
The truck sits in traffic at a red light in a busy intersection. It is clearly in a downtown city area. Tall buildings, lots of traffic. Pedestrians on the sidewalks.

Panel Five:
Jara climbs to her feet. With her bandaged right hand, she hoists her backpack over her right shoulder.

Panel Six:
The other seven follow Jara’s cue, gathering their bags and rise to their feet.

Panel Seven:
The sound of the driver’s signal echoes through the back of the truck. Three rapid pounds against the wall. All eyes are locked on Jara, not looking in the direction of the sound this time.

SFX: THUMP THUMP THUMP
Panel Eight:
Jara reaches down with her right hand and grabs the handle to the door. This is the type of door that swings outward, not the type that rolls up towards the ceiling. This allows her to grab the door without stooping over. With her hand on the door handle, she stands looking back at her companions. Her face shows that awkward expression one has during an uncomfortable silence… she knows everyone is looking at her expecting her to say something, but she has no clue what to say at the moment. The others are all staring at her expectantly, seeking those final inspirational words from their chosen leader.

Page Four:

Panel One:
Total silence in the room. Nobody has moved, nobody has blinked. Everyone is waiting for Jara to speak. She has composed herself, and her face is now full of confidence and resolve. It’s the face of a leader in control of the situation.

Panel Two:
Jara speaks to the group. Most of the faces in the room remain somber, serious. One man in the left has an eager, almost wild smile on his face… not happy, but almost maniacal. Raffa maintains the icy stare.

Jara: “It’s time. You all know what to do. You’ve trained for this. Stick to the plan. Once this door opens, each of you will be on your own.”

Jara: “Do whatever you have to do. We only get one shot at this.”

Panel Three:
Jara continues her speech. The eyes of the group have changed a bit… more resolve and intensity. Raffa’s stare is unchanged. The man with the wild grin has toned it down a bit to a mere smirk.

Jara: “There are only three possible outcomes here. You succeed in your task, you spend the rest of your days in prison, or you don’t survive at all.”

Jara: “Use your heads. With any luck, we’ll all meet up in Denver five weeks from today.”

Panel Four:
Final signal from the driver. Four loud, rapid bangs on the wall. All eyes are locked on the door, waiting for Jara to pull the handle.

SFX: THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Panel Five:
The door handle makes a clicking sound as Jara turns it.

SFX: Click!

Panel Six:
The truck is sitting in what looks like a large parking lot of some sort. No other cars are in the area. Tall buildings dot the skyline in the background. We are looking at the rear of the truck. The doors have been thrown open, and Jara is leaping to the ground. The others are all rushing towards the exit, some already leaping off the truck in various directions. Its eight people trying to go through a single opening at the same time, so it’s a bit chaotic. The all have backpacks either in their hands or over their shoulders.

Jara: “GO!”

B-McKinley
08-25-2015, 09:03 PM
Rental trucks usually have governors that prevent the driver from going faster than 55.

The phrasing "actual sign that exists in the real world" had me waiting for a description of what it looks like in the unreal world. It took me a second read to realize you were probably just referring to a reference image.

The emphasis on the speed and the signs made me expect something to come form it, but there wasn't any payoff. Not that there should be even if the rental truck can get three miles over the speed limit, it wouldn't get pulled over.

The truck stops at an intersection, everyone gets up, and when the door opens the truck is in a parking lot. Which is a bit confusing.

In a lot of the later panels you end up mostly describing the sounds, but not focusing on what the focus is of the visual. The knocks give you a built in rhythm. You could use that by cutting to the driver's POV every time he knocks.

You refer to the back of the truck as a room at one point which could be misinterpreted.

There are a few typos/grammatical errors (its/it's, the/they).

Interesting exercise. What were you looking to focus on when writing it? Pacing, dialog, expressions, etc.?

CLBedell
08-25-2015, 10:29 PM
Thanks for the input. As far as the overall exercise, there was no specific target goal other then the practice of putting together a story in script form. I wrote it in long-form prose, then this 4 page script, and finally reduced it to a 2 page script (just to see if how much the scene would deteriorate if I made it shorter.)

I tried to write this as if I were speaking directly to an artist who would be drawing this theoretical piece. Thus the description of the road sign. Looking at it now, I can understand how that might be confusing to someone randomly reading this. In the future I will specifically indicate comments directed towards the art team in order to avoid confusion. Thanks for that observation! That is the kind of input that will help me clean things up for future efforts.

The truck stops at an intersection, then its in a parking lot... I struggled with that portion a bit. The intent was to somehow imply that the truck continued moving during the intervening panels without actually adding more panels. That is something I need to keep working on... panel management. As it stands, I already have an unmanageable 8 panel layout... rookie mistake. Something for me to work on.

The whole speed thing... I was trying to convey the point that the driver was nervous as hell. Maybe I missed the mark with that. I'll kick that around in my head a bit.

Again, thank you for taking the time to read the entire piece and offering feedback. As I said in my original post, I am working to polish up the rough edges in my technique. Next effort should be better.

Artloader
08-27-2015, 10:24 AM
OK, well I'm a novice at comicbook scripting myself CLBedell so please bear that in mind when you read my response.

Firstly the story itself keeps me gripped because it raises a question - what are these guys up to? And you build the tension very well in my opinion.

Just a technical point on comicbook scripting from what I have learned through people on this forum and through reading the articles on ComixTribe (there's a link to it here (http://www.digitalwebbing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=168149) on this forum):

You need to think of each panel as a static screenshot in time so avoid having a panel where someone is doing a series of actions e.g. on Page 3 - Panel 8 - you have Jara reaching down and then standing up and looking back. That looks like it would need 2 panels.

Other than that good luck with your stuff :thumbs:.

hellospaceboy
08-28-2015, 02:14 AM
Hi,

Interesting script/exercise.
You have a LOT of panels on each page. I know you said in your initial post that you are aware that you have too many panels, but I hope you don't mind me spending a minute talking about that... This is not a problem because it doesn't leave enough room for the artist to add detail.

I got the feeling that you had a hard time selecting which moments to express an action with. Comics are, at the end of the day, all about mastering just that.

For example, on Page 2, panels 3 and 4 could have been easily merged, to show the backpack in the same frame as she checks her cell phone. Panels 5-6-7 (still on page 2) are stretching a single moment for three very long beats. There's no action happening here (and by action, I mean "people doing something"). Only facial expressions change, but nothing dramatic enough to justify the attention.

(Speaking of facial expressions: Make sure you're not asking the artist to do something impossible. Page 3 Panel 8 is a good example. " Her face shows that awkward expression one has during an uncomfortable silence…" If I was an artist I wouldn't know how to show this.)

Another example is Page 3 Panels 5-6. You show Jara pick up her backpack, and then everyone else follow her lead. In a movie, sure, but here you just can't afford to slow things down to such details. Remember that the panels also express time, so the more details you show, the slower the moment gets. You can show a bullet travel through a room for pages if you want to go by the milliseconds, and you can jump thousands of years between panels if you choose to. Here, I feel that you just need to shift one gear up in your storytelling.

That said, it's a good scene to start a story with. If you're up for the challenge, I recommend that you redo this exact script, but with 4-5 panels maximum on each page, while keeping the pace the same. So make sure that at the end of Page 4 you arrive to the exact same moment, with Jara saying "Go!". Also, I wouldn't mind reading your 2 page version too (you mentioned in a comment that you tried reducing it even more).

But it's just an idea. Keep up the good work! Again, I hope you don't mind that I talked about the panel count, but it's really about breaking action down to still images, and I think you could gain the most by addressing that. To be fair, it's something I struggled with for years too.

CLBedell
08-28-2015, 01:23 PM
Great input from both of you! Thanks. This is exactly the type of feedback I need. Thanks for the ComixTribe link, Artloader... that will be useful.
Hellospaceboy... your comments regarding Pacing are right on target. That is one of the areas I struggle the most with. I am working to get a better handle on it. As far as that specific panel you mentioned... the awkward expression on Jara's face... I'm sure it would have annoyed the hell out of any artist I presented that to, but I just had no other way to describe what I saw in my mind... Lesson learned: If I can't put it into words properly, then I can't expect an artist to draw it properly. Thanks!

Since you asked, Here is the 2 page version. It has not been reworked much (only a panel count change and an alteration of the panel where Jara grabs her backpack,) so many of the same issues still exist. This is just a demonstration of my cutting skills, I guess. I dropped every panel I felt I could eliminate while still trying to maintain the essence of the scene. It just feels flat to me...

The Ride - Short Version
Page One

Panel One:
It is mid-day. An orange and white Haul-It-All truck driving down the freeway. A green highway sign just ahead indicates it is on a driving North along 286 towards San Antonio. The actual sign that exists in the real world indicates a split: the right heads towards 181/Shoreline Blvd… the left heads towards 37/San Antonio (with an Airport indicator sign attached to the top left corner.) For our purposes, it is not terribly important that all those details be perfectly accurate. It would be a cool touch, but the key is for the reader to see that the truck is in fact headed towards San Antonio.
Obviously the truck would not be alone on a major highway. A bit of light traffic can be seen. An overhead view would probably be the best way to portray all of these details, but a long view from the left-rear could work as well. Artist choice in this situation.

Panel Two:
The driver checks the watch on his left hand. Close-up of the time. It is 10:05 according to the cheap watch. Make it a digital watch, just to drive home the point that it’s a cheap piece of junk.

Panel Three:
Reaching back with his right hand, the driver pounds twice on the wall behind him.

Panel Four:
Inside the back of the Haul-It-All truck. A dim amber light located on the rear wall casts eerie shadows throughout the inside of the compartment. What little see appears to have a slightly orange tint due to the light. Huddled in the compartment are eight people, packed in pretty tightly. The six men and two women are seated on the floor, shoulder-to-shoulder. They sit facing the middle, four on each side. Just enough space exists to allow them to bend their legs and hug their knees. Large, tightly packed knapsacks and backpacks rest between the legs of each. Even if they did have more light, there simply is no room to move around or do anything.
It is a ragged looking group. Clean clothes have become a distant memory. Several days have passed since the last shower. Knees poked through ripped jeans. Sweaty, mud-stained t-shirts hang like tattered rags. Their weariness can be read on their wind-chapped, sun-charred faces. Scarred, calloused hands tell the stories of harsh lives filled with endless toil. The men are unshaven to various degrees. They all are well overdue for haircuts. It is hard to tell from the light, but they all appear to be either light brown-skinned or very deeply tanned.
Only one of the characters need to be seated in any specific position. Jara must be located on the driver side, closest to the exit. Raffa must be sitting on the passenger side, furthest from the exit.
Jara is a middle-aged woman with an athletic build (think Linda Hamilton from the Terminator 2 movie.) She has a nasty scar along the right side of her chin, just under her lip. Dark hair in need of a trim. Eyes are brown, but impossible to tell in this light.
Raffa is young. Looks about 14 or 15... not old enough to shave yet. Thin build. Long curly black hair piled up on his head like a giant black mop. Desperately needs to cut the hair, as it tends to get in his eyes now. His face lacks the type of scarring we see on most of the others… smoother skin with less sun and wind damage.

At the sound of the driver’s signal, all eight heads have reflexively turned to face the source of the sound.

SFX: THUMP THUMP

Panel Five:
Jara checks the watch on her left hand. The time is synchronized with the driver’s, so the watch must read 10:05. This watch is a high quality item, in stark contrast to the cheap piece of junk worn by the driver. Not shiny or sparkly, but certainly an expensive watch. Dial, not digital, with a metal band. Her hand is rough and calloused… no long fingernails or colored polish.

Panel Six:
Jara climbs to her feet. With her bandaged right hand, she hoists her backpack over her right shoulder. We see the others following her cue and rising to their feet as well.

Seven:
Jara locks her gaze on Raffa, the young man furthest from her. Raffa stares straight attend with icy, penetrating eyes. He wrings the straps of his backpack tightly with both hands. He is by far the youngest of the group.

Caption: Her initial instinct was to leave the boy behind. The boy is far too young to be subjected to this type of ordeal, too inexperienced to handle the pressure. He puts them all in jeopardy.

Caption: She also knows that in many ways, Raffa was more prepared than any of them. He had suffered the most, and had already paid a far higher price than the rest. He deserved the opportunity to be a part of this.

Page Two

Panel One:
Jara reaches down with her right hand and grabs the handle to the door. This is the type of door that swings outward, not the type that rolls up towards the ceiling. This allows her to grab the door without stooping over. With her hand on the door handle, she stands looking back at her companions…she knows everyone is looking at her expecting her to say something, but she has no clue what to say at the moment. The others are all staring at her expectantly, seeking those final inspirational words from their chosen leader.

Panel Two:
Jara speaks to the group. Most of the faces in the room remain somber, serious. One man in the left has an eager, almost wild smile on his face… not happy, but almost maniacal. Raffa maintains the icy stare.

Jara: “It’s time. You all know what to do. You’ve trained for this. Stick to the plan. Once this door opens, each of you will be on your own.”

Jara: “Do whatever you have to do. We only get one shot at this.”

Panel Three:
Jara continues her speech. The eyes of the group have changed a bit… more resolve and intensity. Raffa’s stare is unchanged. The man with the wild grin has toned it down a bit to a mere smirk.

Jara: “There are only three possible outcomes here. You succeed in your task, you spend the rest of your days in prison, or you don’t survive at all.”

Jara: “Use your heads. With any luck, we’ll all meet up in Denver five weeks from today.”

Panel Four:
Final signal from the driver. Four loud, rapid bangs on the wall. All eyes are locked on the door, waiting for Jara to pull the handle.

SFX: THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP

Panel Five:
The door handle makes a clicking sound as Jara turns it.

SFX: Click!

Panel Six:
The truck is sitting in what looks like a large parking lot of some sort. No other cars are in the area. Tall buildings dot the skyline in the background. We are looking at the rear of the truck. The doors have been thrown open, and Jara is leaping to the ground. The others are all rushing towards the exit, some already leaping off the truck in various directions. Its eight people trying to go through a single opening at the same time, so it’s a bit chaotic. The all have backpacks either in their hands or over their shoulders.

Jara: GO!