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Category: Technique

To Be or Not To Be In your Dialogue

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.

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.

Stresses

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

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;

Hero/Protagonist

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

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 NickMacari.com “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 story’s CORE STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS.

I snatched this one off the internet;

CASABLANCA

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.
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Developing Effective Mystery

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

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;

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Narrative through Panel Descriptions

[ Main site recommended reading: Visualizing Panels, Panel Descriptions, Visual Writing… there’s another one, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one it is, I’ll come back and update here when I remember.]

Panel 3:

Frank Castle shoots the Kingpin.

I see this kind of panel description all the time in comic scripts. I see folks, even established writer folks, defending it as legitimate loose scripting. I generally call it insufficient, lazy writing, but above all, I call it missed opportunity.

Remembering back to the Working Writer’s Guide to Comics; the four essential elements of every comic panel are:

  • Emotion
  • Comictography
  • Mise-en-Scene
  • Movement

All four of these are absent in the above panel description.

But even forgetting the four cornerstones of comic panels, we can simply ask “what is this panel telling us in the story, other than the action at hand (which we could only hope, has significant implications)?

Answer: literally, nothing.

Every panel in a comic is a chance to control and express the narrative of the story. While it is possible to do this with broad, loose strokes, the devil truly is in the details.

Hey, whaddya know, dialogue/narration can make a huge difference in expressing narrative throughout a comic… but for this article, let’s ditch dialogue and focus just on the panel descriptions.

Also keep in mind, much of the time you will express deep narrative movements through a sequences of panels. Sort of reverse engineering things backwards from the kind of panel descriptions above is a bit tricky… eh, screw it, let’s revisit this panel description anyway and see if we can’t improve it, actually expressing the narrative through added details;

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Getting Drama on Point

Strong dramatic moments are key building blocks in story.

Even in an action oriented spectacle, moments of high drama engage the reader and develop the empathetic bond to the characters. In a drama genre story, the drama itself drives the narrative. No matter how you crack it, it’s dang important to understand how to effectively convey drama in the scene.

While establishing and expressing drama relies on bringing together many (if not all) of the writing fundamentals, here are two not-so-obvious considerations that will inject your dramatic moments with “high-octane, crazy blood.” <For you non-Mad Max fans, that’s a good thing!>

First and primarily, time.

Second, consequences of actions/decisions.

Technically, drama is a loaded word in the creative writing world.

It can mean different things, at different moments, to different people. After all, “dramatic” is an adjective, meaning sudden, striking, exciting, impressive, etc. And such descriptors apply to so much of writing an engaging script.

Before we go on to define drama, let’s take a look at a close, important cousin, that sometimes masquerades as drama, I speak of course, of tension.

In the writer’s guide I define tension as “heightened emotional state derived from an immediate danger or threat.” The reason why tension often gets labeled drama is revealed in the first part of the sentence–heightened emotional state.

Heightened emotional state is the core of good drama.

Think about it when was the last time you read or saw a really good dramatic scene where the characters involved were indifferent? I’m gonna guess, no time recently. 

So for this article and for your future writing, consider the following definition of drama;

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Scripting Unforgettable Panels

Take a moment and think back to your first love. Try to recall what you loved about her or him. No really, close your eyes and try to pull up the memories.

Whether your first love was a brief encounter or a long, enduring relationship, you won’t be able to recall every single moment and every single thing about that person you so adored… especially, if your experience was many years ago.

Story is no different.

After a person reads a story (even immediately after), people don’t remember the entire story.

They remember the feeling of the emotional journey and key moments.

When you write.

Write so people fall in love with your work.

If you develop your story proper, it will be deep and complex, engaging the reader’s emotions on multiple levels and fronts. However, like cleaning up, putting on your best duds, and best cologne, you can make the emotional impact of your story nigh irresistible by focusing on two areas; the emotional center, literally, the heart of the story and the heartbeat of the entire narrative.

The Heart of the Story

While you may remember many “special moments” with someone you love, there will almost always be one that stands out above the others. Something that defines your mental image of who that person was, what they meant to you, and the feelings you had for them.

This moment is the heart of your story.

The first critical step in developing the Heart of your Story is, identifying it.

Because we experience stories primarily through characters, 99.98% of the time, the heart of your story will be anchored to your protagonist. It’s not about the rebels defeating the empire by blowing up the Death Star… it’s about Luke finally tapping his power and making the impossible torpedo shot.

The heart of the story is often found in the climax of the story.

(Though this is not necessarily the case.)

In Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan, the heart of the story isn’t in the climatic battle with the MAF (Khan), but in engineering, when Spock makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the ship.

In E.T., the heart of the story comes before the climatic g-men chase scene, when E.T. and Elliot separate and E.T. dies, only to come back to life reinvigorated OR, ~maybe~ in the denouement when E.T. Leaves, “I’ll always be right here.” (We’ll talk more about being unsure of the heart of the story in a second.)

In reality, the one scene that holds the Heart of the Story can be found anywhere… and that’s why it’s important to identify it.

In a novel or screenplay, the heart of the story can often manifest longer—as an extended beat or even full scene.

In comics, it’s important to identify the ONE PANEL that carries that beat or scene.

So once you have it, what do you do with it?

Simple.

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Stories without Character Arcs

Genuine story delivers a thesis about how we writers see the world. Our underlying message is our Master Theme. At its most fundamental level, genuine story is new understanding revealed through change.

The most effective vehicle of this new understanding is the character arc.

A flawed character’s struggle to reach his true potential, framed in the context of a Master Theme—our thesis of the world—reveals that thesis to be true or false.

Change being the key basis by which we judge the results of the struggle.

In most cases, if the character changes for the better–reaches his true potential–the Master Theme rings true. If not, if the character is set in his ways, unable to change, the character has failed. <Though the validity of the argument of the Master Theme can be expressed either way, depending on the author’s approach.>

The character arc is the most effective means to engage a reader because people relate to people more than we relate to anything else.

The empathetic bond to a well written character, allows us to tap into the entire human experience, comprehending and relating to fiction on multiple levels. Every piece of the experience supports and emphasizes the underlying Master Theme–the sum of the parts equal more than the whole.

Whenever you start discussing genuine story and the necessity of complete, well-executed character arcs, there is always a voice to the contrary side; “character arcs are not required” they claim, quickly reciting famous/successful character that don’t appear to arc: James Bond, Captain Kirk, Indiana Jones, John McClane, well pretty much most action heroes… and as it turns out, most serial superheroes (more on this in a second).

When folks are working on a stand alone graphic novel, or even a mini-series, 99% of the time my advice is make the characters arc—this is how you really engage and make a meaningful story.

From a business perspective, I’m of the mindset that it’s better to deliver a hit story, prove the market, then have to work backwards to figure out how to proceed.

This is a much better situation to be in, rather than delivering a story without character arcs; something that misses the mark, doesn’t engage, leaving you with something more easily continued, but less likely to do so.

As I mention in Storycraft for Comics, serial comics are really a special medium. Not many other places in fiction where a story runs for 20-30 years or more. TV sometimes and it’s no wonder TV writing and serial comic writing share some things in common.

There’s a good argument to be made, the best way to approach a serial comic is to leave the hero stuck in the middle of his arc. Always making progress… always struggling… but never finding resolution.

There’s also something to be said for the characters that have already completed their arcs.

When you look at characters like Bond, Kirk, Jones and McClane, these characters are rarely “rookie” characters—they usually come to the table with extensive histories and experience, even if it’s not directly revealed in the narrative at hand.

What youre seeing is a character whos completed his arc and already existing from their full potential.  

Actually, come to think of it, remember when Picard was shot and the weapon screwed with his artificial heart, giving way for Q to send him back in time to his cadet days. Turns out Picard used to be a womanizing, hot-head—flawed, SOB. Through his backstory, mostly not revealed in typical Next-gen episodes, he overcame his flaws and became the iconic Starfleet captain he would forever be known as.

So most of the characters who appear to have no arc, really, already completed their arc earlier in their story.

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Scripting an Outside Outline

At the end of the Working Writer’s Guide to Comics and Graphic Novels I go through the main method I use to write a script directly from a comprehensive outline…

It’s fairly straight forward and the most efficient method I know–at least when it comes to working on your own projects. That is to say when you’ve developed the outline yourself, have a good grasp of where the story is at any given moment and have some degree of flexibility with the page count (or at least, ample time for editorial passes to make the content fit).

As a freelance comic writer, there may come a time when you are required to work directly from a client’s outline.

In these instances you’re likely to find yourself under more stringent restrictions with specific direction such as; “Take exactly what I’ve written in my outline and turn it into a XX page graphic novel…”

Tackling a project like this with the process I outline in the guide will certainly still work, but it may not be the most efficient method. I present the following method as a strong alternative method.

I’m going to showcase material from a Manga outline I wrote for a client a while back, working title “Wolf.” Like the process explained in the Writer’s guide, I’m only going to focus in on a small section of the outline… It’s not important that you don’t have context for the story–just pay attention to the process.

Let’s begin:

1: Separate Scenes

Like the process in the Writer’s Guide, the first step is to go through the outline and separate out the individual scenes. Scene separation is a completely underutilized underappreciated tool for the comic script writer.

We’ll focus on scene 12 from the outline;

—– Start Scene 12 —–

The FBI arrives at Jiro’s house, while Hayate, the wolf and Jiro’s daughter, Kiko play in the backyard. Kiko tells Hayate, “You’re the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.”

The agents flash their credentials and order Jiro to hand over the dog. Because the FBI is an official organization, the detective Jiro, agrees without hesitation… then remembering his friend, Matsui, is now dead, screams for his daughter and Hayate to run.

The agents open fire. Finally realizing the implant is working again, Hayate screams out a warning in Japanese “They’ll kill you to get to me… you’ve got to run.” Jiro and Kiko are shocked that the wolf can speak! Hayate protects Kiko while Jiro goes for an old academy katana on a sword stand. The FBI agents shoot the stand away, leaving only a smaller Wakizashi blade within Jiro’s reach. Jiro uses the sword to fight the gunmen. Jiro’s good with a blade, but not exceptionally good, he hasn’t studied since his academy days.

After a bloody fight with leaves Jiro superficially shot in three places, all the FBI agents are dispatched. Jiro, Kiko and Hayate stumble from the house and rush toward public transit to leave the city.

—– End Scene 12 —–

Now we move on to the primary difference in this approach. Instead of simply separating out each beat, we create a two column list, specifically separating out Actions and Dialogues.

2: Separate Actions and Dialogues

—– Scene 12: Actions —–

  • The FBI arrives at Jiro’s house,
  • while Hayate the wolf and Jiro’s daughter, Kiko play in the backyard.
  • The agents flash their credentials.
  • The detective Jiro, agrees without hesitation…
  • The agents open fire.
  • Jiro and Kiko are shocked that the wolf can speak!
  • Hayate protects Kiko
  • while Jiro goes for an old academy katana on a sword stand.
  • The FBI agents shoot the stand away,
  • leaving only a smaller Wakizashi blade within Jiro’s reach.
  • Jiro uses the sword to fight the gunmen.
  • After a bloody fight, all the FBI agents are dispatched.
  • Jiro, Kiko and Hayate stumble from the house and rush toward public transit to leave the city.

—– Scene 12: Dialogues —–

  • Kiko tells Hayate, “You’re the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.”
  • The agents order Jiro to hand over the dog.
  • The detective Jiro, agrees without hesitation…
  • then screams for his daughter and Hayate to run.
  • Hayate screams out a warning in Japanese “They’ll kill you to get to me… you’ve got to run.”

Notice, I deleted extra writing that was neither action, nor dialogue.

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