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Effective Loose Scripting

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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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