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Category: Technique

the Art of the Slow Burn

Article length: xxxx words (preview xxx/wds)

I’ve been on hiatus for a while. (When I’m not writing about helping other folks write better, I always feel this knot of guilt in the pit of my stomach. Like when I don’t pay enough attention to one of my dogs for a few days.)

Anywho, for the first time in all the years this site has been online, I’m posting a little head’s up to the next upcoming article.

I’m going to break down Slow Burn fiction.

And give y’all the tools to write something that actually works, instead of just boring people to death.

Interestingly, even for folks who don’t splash around much in the ‘slow burn‘ pool, it’ll be worth checking in… because the mechanics that make a slow burn successful, can help in any narrative whenever the focus drifts off the main focal point.

Ahhh, but I’m getting ahead of myself here–hey, at least my stomach already feels better 😉

Won’t be up right away, but sometime in the near future, this page will pop up with the full article.

Stay tuned.


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Anti-Fiction and Negative Theme Counterbalance

Article length: 2707 words (preview 580/wds)

All genuine story relies on a Master Theme… that is, a message from the author. A statement, theory, idea, or argument the author puts forth as truth.

As a general rule of thumb, adults don’t like being talked down to. They don’t like to be spoken to as if a child.

Speaking to someone as if they were a five year old means expression reduced to its simplest form;

  1. Directly on the nose, lacking all subtext.
  2. Reduced to a dichotomy of right and wrong, with nothing in-between.
  3. Most significantly, not allowing them to come to their own conclusion, but instead, forcing them to accept your own.

This is the essence of delivering a Master Theme with a heavy hand and guarantees alienating and disengaginung your readers.

Quick example:
In my cyberpunk novel “Crashing Eden,” I used a theme “Is the use of technology a right or a privilege?”

If I had come out and simply had one of the characters say, “Everybody knows, technology is a right, not a privilege,” or vice-versa, this would have been a clear showcase of #1.

If my Master Theme has actually been, “The use of technology is a privilege, not a right,” and I proceeded to showcase instance after instance where I enforce this view and only this view, I would have created a clear and distinct dichotomy. My view is correct and anything contrary I do not show, so it’s either wrong, or simply doesn’t exist. A clear and distinct showcase of #2.

Notice, I used a question as my Master Theme. A question immediately sets you up for success by giving you two sides of an argument to explore, bypassing from the very start, the fundamental mistake of a heavy handed theme; the single viewpoint.

Remember the back cover of Storycraft for Comics;

  • Honesty.
  • Objectivity.
  • Passion.

The professional writer must cultivate these three in abundance.

In this case we hone in on, Objectivity…

The most effective method of delivering a message in fiction is by offering more than one side of an argument; by presenting your argument through subtext and allowing the reader to come to their own conclusion.

The better the job you do at making the argument believable from all sides, the more impact your own conclusion carries. In turn, without objectivity to see a contrary side to your message, as a writer, you and your message are lost.

Keep in mind, all Master Themes of fiction are not fact.

  • Your Master Theme isn’t; H2O is the molecular make up of water.
  • Your Master Theme isn’t; there are 200-216 bones in the human body.
  • Your Master Theme isn’t; there are four seasons in a year.

While your message of fiction, may indeed ring true to most, or even be true for all intents and purposes… ultimately, a Master Theme is a writer’s opinion.

Simply telling your readers your opinion is correct, demands validation without earning it from your readers.

  • You have to SHOW readers why your opinion is correct (through the achievements of a character over the course of a narrative).
  • You have to PROVE to readers why your opinion is correct, by comparing and contrasting it to alternate views.

Simply asserting your opinion as fact is a sure-fire way to come across oppressive and dismissive to the reader.

Now that we understand what a heavy-handed approach to delivering Master Theme looks like, let us go further into a commonly related pitfall, the negative message… and the solution of counterbalance through objective writing to reach the most people possible with ANY message we wish to convey.

Positive Messages Form Stronger Narratives

When delivering message through your work, it's all about respecting your readers. We've still got a ways to go, I'm gonna break down why positive messages are required, objective counterbalance; making room for people to decide on their own, and where repetition fits in. Hit the full access page and come join the party pal!
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Rated M for Mature

Article length: 4849 words (preview 1200/wds)

If you’re reading this article you grew up in culture of movie and games and likely have an intimate familiarity with their associated rating systems. For quick reference;

G: General audiences – All ages admitted. // E: Everybody.

PG: Parental guidance suggested – Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. // T: Teen. 13 and up.

R: Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. // M: Mature. 17 and up.

NC-17: Adults Only – No one 17 and under admitted. // AO: Adults only. 18 and up. (

(Interesting tidbit, NC-17 replaced the “X” rating, which was basically commandeered by the porn industry back in the day. Because certain movies were not pornographic, but clearly adult in nature, NC-17 was born.)

Anyways, these ratings of course are based on the nature of the content, affected by these particulars;

G/E – No profanity. Minimal non-consequential violence. No drug use content-no smoking characters. No nudity. No sex.

PG – Light profanity. No sexually-derived words. Mild violence. No drug use content. Brief nudity. Sexual content permitted as long as it passes other restrictions for rating; primarily appears as innuendo. Crude humor.

PG-13 – Slightly greater profanity than PG. Extremely limited use of expletives like “fuck.” Intense violence permitted, but not extreme or realistic; limited amounts of blood. Mild drug use content. Greater than brief nudity. Sexual content permitted as long as it passes other restrictions for rating. Crude humor.

R – Full profanity. Intense, extreme or realistic violence including ample blood, gore, mutilation, and depictions of death. Graphic drug use content. Strong sexually oriented or graphic nudity.

NC-17 – Represents the extreme end of content in all aspects without being pornographic in nature.

But from a writing perspective, it pays to ask, do these content elements alone define the maturity of a work?

Of course, since you’re here reading this article, the answer is a resounding, NO!

Before we take a look at what really defines the maturity of a story… and why it matters, let’s first define maturity;

MATURE – adjective

* fully developed
* having reached an advanced stage of mental or emotional development characteristic of an adult:.
* (of thought or planning) careful and thorough.

Fully (or carefully and thoroughly) developed.
An advanced stage (characteristic of adulthood).

The essence of maturity points to complexity and depth.

Always write for yourself first.

However, as a professional writer, you need to recognize your audience/demographic.

In turn, you must have the honesty and objectivity, to realize if you’re actually writing for that audience/demographic. And of course, you can’t make that assessment if you don’t know what the parameters are in the first place!

Quick clarification…

Maturity Demographics

When we speak of maturity of fiction, we’ve got immature on the one end of the scale and mature at the opposite end. That maturity can be assessed in the nature of the writing itself, AND in the person(s) processing that information (the readers or audience).

Primarily when we speak of an immature audience, we’re talking about kids.

But we could also be discussing an audience and type of entertainment fiction that is pure escapism… where people just want to turn off their brains and enjoy the entertainment strictly at face value without having to expend any effort in comprehending or “figuring it out.”

Well written immature fiction is no less difficult to write than well written mature fiction… in fact, if you have any experience writing comedy, you probably already know, well written immature fiction can be exceedingly difficult.



Obviously, the elements of content defined by all the descriptors in the rating systems are the low-hanging fruit of fiction maturity.

Clearly if your content has extreme violence, rape, drug use etc, those are all things immature people don’t really understand. These elements also have potential to traumatize or corrupt a developing mind.

Most would argue these elements are simply not appropriate for immature readers.

But “content” is a broad sweeping term. So let’s breakdown some of the specific narrative devices that live in the content and see if we can’t pinpoint some ways to recognize and control the maturity  of our writing;

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Character Arc Roadmap

Article length: 1245 words (preview 150/wds)

The Character Arc breakdown in Storycraft For Comics lays the foundation for solid character development (further supported by the Character Arc article here).

Recently working with a client with no writing background I found myself reworking the presentation of the Character Arc material, trying to make it as simple and straight forward as possible.

I felt the clarity of what I put together had a significantly value and present it below.

Assuming you’re not running a spectacle script; one of the things you hear me stress a lot is the importance of hitting your character flaws hard in the beginning of the story. Most writers shy away from painting their characters in a bad light, they only want to write their characters from the ideal position of their completed arc. Hold tight to the following;

Your character is not the impression he makes when the reader first starts to read the story. Your character is the COMPLETE IMPRESSION he makes over the entire story.

Empathy is not broken when we see a flawed character.

Further, understand that the impact of a character (arc) is not felt in a single moment, it is a cumulative experience, felt across a spectrum of time. This means;

The more you can incorporate and stress the beginning flawed part of the arc earlier on, the more room there is for development across the breadth of the story, and in turn the more engaging and effective the arc will be.

I’m not going to explain all the elements here, as Storycraft already touches on a bunch of them, but I’ll drop explanation where needed.

Practically speaking; grab all the underlined, headline elements from the breakdown below, and paste them into an empty doc and you’ve got the perfect advanced starting point to build your characters from. Heck, if somebody asks maybe I’ll add a word doc download to the article.

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Mastering Dialogue part 2

Article length: 1600 words (no preview)

The rest of the dialogue article. Because it’s a continuation and jumps right into the remaining tips, there’s no public preview on this one;

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To Be or Not To Be In your Dialogue

Article length: 3600 words (preview 800/wds)

If you’re a member of this site, you already know the significance and necessity of subtext.

You also know that symbolism is perhaps the most potent form of visual subtext. Today I’m going to throw you in the deep end and discuss the “symbolism of dialogue,” also known as;


Poetry is a beastly subject.

You’ve most assuredly studied some of the famous, great works and may even have a few poetry books on your library shelf… but few, of even us writers, actually delve into the workings of poetry;

a vast ocean of art and science.

I dare not attempt to explain the full magnitude of this ocean in an online article. I’m not going to define the different forms of poetry: Lyrical poetry, Narrative poetry, Odes, Sonnets, Triplets, Tercets, Ballads, Haiku, Tanka, Cinquains, Limericks and others.

Instead I strive to explain the relevance of including poetic influences in your work, possibly enlighten you to some of the fundamentals, to set you on a new course of bringing greater depth and meaning to your work, and perhaps most important, a stronger sense of memorability to your writing.

I encourage you to explore poetry in all its forms to expose yourself to new written frontiers and expand your personal horizons as a writer…

However, in comics, games and screenplays, you are unlikely to incorporate larger works of poetry, but rather, create moments of “poetic dialogue.”

So grab your latte and let’s get into it!


Metric Verse

Rhythm and Meter are broken down and assessed in spoken language by syllables and pronunciation of words. (It may sound obvious, but make sure you acknowledge this.)

More specifically, where poetry is metered (having a recurring pattern); each line can be broken down into feet, and each foot in turn, broken down into stresses.

I’m about to throw a bunch of stuff at you…

Don’t get overwhelmed.

You don’t need to memorize all this. You just need to understand the concepts.

Learning scansion (the technical term for breaking down a line into its feet and stresses), literally signals how to read a line. Ultimately, this process is very much like story structure itself. While you can’t force your reader to read dialogue the way you intend, by adding this level of thought and design, you deliver “invisible direction and influence,” just like the reader doesn’t see the structural mechanics of your narrative, yet takes the very journey you lead them on.

Metrical Lines

  • Monometer = 1 foot.
  • Dimeter = 2 feet.
  • Trimeter = 3 feet.
  • Tetrameter = 4 feet.
  • Pentameter = 5 feet.
  • Hexameter = 6 feet.
  • Heptameter = 7 feet.
  • Octameter = 8 feet.


The most common stresses contain 2 parts;

  • Iamb = light stress then heavy stress.  (pronounced “I am”)
  • Trochee = heavy stress then light stress. (pronounced “Trow Key”)

Normally to indicate stresses you use a little floating “u” or undertie for the light stresses and a slash for the heavy. I can’t reproduce the u’y thing here, so I’ll settle for a tilde “~.”

Other stresses include;

  • Pyrrhus = two light stresses
  • Tribrach = three light stresses
  • Dactyl = heavy stress then two light stresses
  • Amphibrach = light stress then heavy stress then light stress
  • Anapest = two light stresses then heavy stress
  • Bacchius = light stress followed by two heavy stresses
  • Antibacchius = two heavy stresses then light
  • Spondee = two equal stresses
  • Cretic = heavy then light then heavy
  • Molossus = three heavy stresses
  • Catalectic = a line missing one syllable from the first or last foot

“Bat MAN. Bat MAN. nah nah nahnahnah…”

You know the song.

Light stress Bat, Heavy stress Man.

Trying singing it in reverse and see how awkward it feels…

or how bout this one;

“SPI der MAN. SPI der MAN.

Does whatever a spider can.”

That first bit of the SpiderMan song is cretic. Again try singing it with different stresses and see how alien it feels!

It sounds complicated, but it’s that simple!

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The Art and Science of Killing Characters

Article length: 1900 words (preview 400/wds)

I was recently watching the Korean Series SWEET HOME on Netflix… toward the later issues, I mean episodes, the series changed its narrative approach and started killing off many of the characters.

Oh, sorry, spoiler alert (not really you don’t know who they killed.)

Anyway, this is a trend in a lot of modern fiction, Walking Dead and Game of Thrones come to mind.

So how does some fiction get away with it, where other fiction falls to pieces because of it?

Glad you asked.

Bad fiction introduces a character, begins developing the character, creates interest between reader and character, then kills said character unexpectedly for shock value.

Don’t do this.

This is low art and bad science character murder.

You might be able to get away with it, if the other elements of your story cover up the crime, but why force extra work and responsibility on the rest of your story? They’ve already got enough to do.

Instead, hire a professional assassin from the start, and let the other elements of your story focus on their own jobs!

Ok, so to explain why you don’t want to do it dirty like this, let’s talk about the three types of characters in your story. The Hero/Protagonist, Core Cast Characters and Red Shirts/Extras

Let’s start at the top;


I want you to think for a second;

If you’re going to kill the hero of your story, when in the story would you do it?

Forget about a fractured narrative…

or flashback narratives…

or a story that switches protagonists half-way through…

or one guy’s telling of another guy’s story…

or whatever…

In a standard, single-hero, sequential story, when would you most likely kill the hero?

At the end, of course.

Either in the climatic battle of act 3, or possibly shortly after as part of the denouement to the climax. While we could argue a number of narrative reasons why you would do this, the core reason is simple;

The hero is the most important character of the story. The reader experiences the story through the hero.

If the hero dies early on, the hero never has time to develop.

Meaning either, the hero wasn’t actually the most important character of the story to begin with, or the reader never gets a chance to fully engage and empathize with them…

In either case, killing the hero of the story early, pretty much guarantees the story is going to fall apart.

Luckily, because this cause and effect is so fundamental to story structure, most writers never really run into a problem here. Even newbie writers get this one instinctively.

The real problems arise with Core Cast Characters.


Core Cast Characters

Core cast characters are the main and secondary characters supporting the hero. (Technically, potentially the protagonists themselves in an ensemble cast story, but let’s not add Vodka to the well water.)

  • Han Solo
  • Ned Stark (GOT),
  • Alfred Pennyworth (Batman)

are all examples of Core Cast characters.

Core cast characters are the ones bad fiction falls upon to kill as a means to jolt the reader. The shock value of their death is used as a gimmick to establish narrative tension; to scare the reader into thinking, “well, if they just killed that dude, who are they going to kill next? Holy crap, I better read some more.”

When applied strictly from a shock value perspective, there’s an old writing adage that warns us why it doesn’t work!

Every character is the hero in their own story.

When bad fiction kills a character for shock value, by its nature, in order to be “shocking,” it has to come before the character’s arc is completed.

It’s not the means of death itself that shocks the reader, but the timing of the death relevant to the character’s personal journey (arc) and the readers engagement to the character.

In other words, if the murder comes after the character’s natural progression to the end of their development, if the character actually reaches their climatic hero moment (see above) of facing–whatever ‘they’re suppose to be facing’–their death would not necessarily be expected, but would fundamentally be accepted. A natural end to the character’s journey (for better or worse).

Only by cutting the character’s journey short, does a character’s death really come across, at the deepest level, as shocking. (We’re not talking jump scares here, we’re talking psychological.)

And there in lies the rub.

By not allowing the character to reach their personal climax, the writer completely undermines the worth of the character and the bond between character and reader.

Murdering for shock value, literally tells the reader “Nope, this character is NOT the hero of THEIR own story. They’re a loser… irrelevant.”

Killing irrelevant characters for shock value, disengages readers.

It instantly reduces the character to a mere story mechanic and undoes all the empathy established between the reader and character. It tells the reader, their time building empathetic bonds to the characters… and even the story itself as a whole, is not respected.

A reader who empathizes with a character, who begins to build a connection with a character and then see them exterminated outside of their proper climatic conclusion, can not possibly feel satisfaction–in fact, in almost every scenario, they will feel robbed, cheated and disengaged from the rest of the story.

Readers don’t dictate the pace or direction of a story, but their effort and time is always respected by good fiction.


Murder Artistically. Murder Scientifically.

So when you want to murder your Core Cast characters, here’s how you do it.

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the Writer’s Logline

Article length: 3646 words (preview 800/wds)

In the Writer’s Guide to Comics I explain what a log line is.

In Storycraft to Comics, I explain the fundamental structure to a good logline and give some examples.

On “Loglines: Is my story any good,” I explain the significance of the logline, today, I’m going to further the discussion of their importance, and break down the process of making a successful one.

If you’re not running a logline on your typical story build, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

For those coming to the concept for the first time, a logline is merely a single sentence summary of your story

Too often, even in the shi-shi’est of writing circles, folks abandon the idea of structure to the logline. Instead, they focus on trying to be clever, distilling the story down, not to a technical reflection of the story, but to a flashy or ambiguous hook… a marketing gimmick. Or a one-line pitch (not an actual Logline); “Rambo in space.”

Because most script writers don’t release loglines with their published work, the internet is awash with clever gimmick loglines to the most famous stories and pitches masking as genuine loglines.

Of course these are all writer interpretations.

“A Jersey kid learns karate from an L.A. janitor.” – Karate Kid

I mean it’s not wrong.

It’s just doesn’t really tell us much of anything.

A real logline, one that actually conveys the story, is what I refer to as the Writer’s Logline, and it’s the one you’re here to master.

The Writer’s Logline includes a few specific points.

From Storycraft;

“In strict writing terms, loglines are stated in a single sentence. We capture the story goal and summary with a bit more detail, anchoring it with the main character, their goal, the force working against them, and the stakes if they fail. Stand out loglines usually incorporate a sense of irony. They come across with a clever, fresh angle, which like the high-concept, immediately drums forth visuals and potential.”

Only a writer intimately familiar with his story can write a proper Writer’s Logline, and there in lies its supreme power.

The single sentence summary, forces the writer to distill the story down to its key essence… and when written with purpose, reveals the the full breadth of the story’s CORE STRUCTURE.

If you look closely at this breakdown, you’ll notice the elements of logline are the same elements involved in the conflict of the story. As I explained in Character Dynamics, you can’t have fiction without conflict… as such, getting a glimpse of a story’s conflict, gives a true glimpse into the story itself. 

For some reason newer writers often gloss over, downplay, or outright ignore their MAF and stakes, in effect, killing the conflict of their loglines. Hiding the conflict puts you on the fast track to a totally ineffective logline.

I snatched this one off the internet;


Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Let’s put it to the test;

  • Story goal/summary
  • Main character,
  • MC goal,
  • The force working against them
  • Stakes
  • Irony.
  • Genre. Updated addition! Don’t call out your genre on the nose, but frame it in flavor or subtext. I’ll explain in more detail in a second.

“Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II.”

This has nothing to do with anything. It doesn’t meet any points of our logline structure and really, doesn’t tell us anything about the story itself.

“An American expatriate”

Ok, we’ve got the main character

meets a former lover,”

Again, doesn’t hit any of our structural points… and the verb is incredibly weak.

“with unforeseen complications.”

And again, doesn’t have any real writing/story relevance. Not only that, this last bit is completely ambiguous.

  • Does the former lover have a newborn baby, that’s a complication.
  • Is she a spy?
  • Is she smuggling drugs?
  • Does she have 48 hours to live?
  • Maybe she contracted leprosy?
  • Maybe this is actually a sci-fi story, and she’s an alien. You get the point.

Vague descriptors like this, are wastes of space in a Writer’s Logline.

Hopefully you’re familiar with Casablanca, you know, one of the most famous movies of all time. Ok, let’s rework this logline, using actual structure, trying to capture the actual story.

Before we start, keep in mind, Casablanca is not MY story, so I’m going to take some creative license to make my points. The original writer may very well have had different intent… you may feel different intent… but hopefully you can follow my train of thought, and understand what I’m explaining.

We’re gonna fully unpack the Casablanca logline. Then I’m going to throw 10 tips for creating an effective Writer’s Logline, followed by a rework of another famous movie logline. Lastly, I’m tell you how to avoid the logline stumbling block when working on more dramatic works. Hit the full access page and come learn how to make a logline that works!

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Developing Effective Mystery

Article length: 2200 words (preview 500/wds)

The primary goal of any good story is to engage the reader.

You’ve probably heard me say countless times before, “Predictability is the death knell of good fiction.” If your reader knows what happens next, there’s a good chance they won’t continue reading, or if they do manage to press on, they’ll be distanced or otherwise disengaged.

A fundamental method to engage readers in any story, is to lure them with mystery and suspense.

[We’ll tackle suspense in another article]

The clinical definition of mystery is; something difficult or impossible to understand or explain… But this is only half the accurate definition when it comes to writing.

Because in fiction, mundane, irrelevant, superfluous or minor elements all lack mystery, no matter how difficult or impossible to understand you make them.

So while “how the bag of coffee beans got from the bottom shelf to the top shelf, with all the roommates denying moving them,” might be mysterious in real-life, in a story, it’s a distracting waste of time.

To establish mystery in fiction make sure the element is interesting by itself, important & relevant, and contains significant narrative drive.

Also, “impossible…” impossible is a bad word in most instances of establishing mystery. I’ll explain why later, but for now, take my word for it, which leaves us with the following more accurate definition for establishing mystery in comics;

An interesting, highly relevant, difficult to understand or explain element with high narrative drive.

Let’s break it down.

Someone has been found murdered, stabbed in the heart, outside the local comic shop. The only clue is a footprint in the mud outside the back door of the shop. It’s a size 10 sneaker.

There are actually two areas of potential mystery here. The first is the murder itself. The second is the murderer.

I was originally going to unpack them both, but for the sake of room in the article, let’s focus on just the murder itself.

Since the murder was committed by a stabbing through the heart, there is really nothing difficult to understand here (if the murder remains what it is at face value-meaning no new additional reveals pop up that suddenly alter the understanding of the killing).

Next, we look to interesting. A stabbing through the heart is not totally boring or commonplace, but as far as crimes go, there’s really not much to it, so I’d say; it’s not very interesting.

The last two are hard to judge without context, so let’s give it a shot making it up as we go along.

Highly relevant. It turns out in our story, four teens have disappeared from the comic shop in recent days. All from wealthy families tied to politics. Our murder victim in the alley, is a middle-aged homeless guy with a bad drug habit who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, which makes him irrelevant.

Lastly, narrative drive. This is closely associated and often confused with relevancy. Truth is, if the element is not relevant at all, it can’t have narrative drive. BUT, here’s the twist, if the element IS relevant, it could still be fumbled and NOT have narrative drive.

Remember Narrative Drive means progressing the story.

Let’s rewind a bit and instead say;

The murder victim is the sister to one of the missing teens. That’s no mere unconnected coincidence, that’s a potential bombshell. But narrative drive isn’t about potential, it’s about action and momentum. If the sister’s murder doesn’t springboard the story in new direction, if doors leading to new discovery don’t fly open, it’s a highly relevant element void of narrative drive.

Ok, let’s take a crack at rewriting our story, hitting proper mystery points;

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Effective Loose Scripting

Article length: 2400 words (preview 600/wds)

When folks hire me to write a script, I don’t like to take shortcuts.

Genuine story is freakin’ complex. I get a solid page rate, and you can bet I’m going to leverage my experience and expertise at every single opportunity, and bring my client maximum value for the money they spend with me.

For this reason, I’m not partial to loose scripting.

Ok fine, simple can be hard. In fact, at the highest level, I’ll admit, you could have some genius level loose script that expresses story brilliantly. Leonardo da Vinci probably could have pulled it off, if he was into comics.

But let’s call a spade a spade, fact of the matter is, most writers go loose when the material covers content of lower narrative drive… another way of saying; material that’s less important (or less interesting to them), so it doesn’t matter how their artist conveys it.

This alone should be a red flag to the conscious writer.

Material that isn’t too important, should almost ALWAYS be cut, leaving more room for the material that is important.

No matter how you justify it, loose scripting passes a lot of the narrative work to the artist. Writing for the last 20+ years I reckon I’ve developed a pretty good eye for story. I personally, tend to run a tight ship and like to keep closer tabs on my narratives.

Don’t get me wrong, comics are absolutely a collaborative medium

but the writer’s initial take on a script, is the stage 1 rocket fuel. The more you put in, the greater the chance to break orbit when you launch.

All that said, you may find yourself wanting or needing to write loose on a particular script.

Ultimately, writing loose means you outline instead of script. Listing core beats, instead of unpacking them with detail.

The easy and quintessential example, is the fight scene.

Pages 14-20

Thing One and Thing Two fight. Thing Two wins.

That’s about as “Marvel Method” as it gets.

Since I’ve already discussed fight scenes extensively here on Story to Script, let’s breakdown a different example.

Let’s write a 10,000 BC caveman/dinosaur comic. We’ll focus in on the bit where Rocko and his small tribe have to cross a vast expanse to get to the mysterious obelisk that can heal the members of his group ailing from an unknown, deadly disease.

At some point you might want to condense a description to cover an entire page or specific scene, which in this case, spans 3 panels. (This panel(s) description is actually modeled after a bit I recently edited on a client’s work.)

Panel 1, Panel 2, Panel 3

Rocko and his family travel miles in search of food and water. Beneath prehistoric birds soaring against azure skies, passing through desert savannas speckled with trees, boulders and scrawny shrubbery. The cavemen grow more tired in each panel. In the last of the sequence one of the tribe spot a tiny river in the distance.

As I pointed out the wrong way of writing loose at the beginning of the article, we can look at the inverse of that, to find the right way to script loose, or in other words;

We've got a thorough discussion on how to keep your beats in place even when writing loose, how to inject maximum narrative drive, and the importance of nailing visual details even when writing loose. Head over to the full access page to snag the rest of the article!
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