Yesterday day we talked a lot about what it takes to get to the script. For me, as you saw, it means a lot of notes and thinking and maybe a little… OK a lot of pre-writing.
Once all of that is done, I sit down and bang out a draft of the script. In writing the script I try to think of each panel as a story beat, a snapshot into the action. How many story beats to we want on a given page, how will this flow from one page to the next? After having written a very rough draft I’ll give it a few passes, each time asking those types of questions.
When I’ve gotten the draft to point that it’s readable and I have everything more or less laid out the way I want, I turn it over to editorial. On this issue, I worked with an amazing editor named Jenny Fengler. I have always found that good editing is really asking good questions and Jenny asked some great questions. She helped me tightened up the script by asking why I did thing a certain way or why a character did something. This led me to reexamine the choices I made and if there were right for the story, if they were true to the characters. I can say without a doubt every time she asked a question it was because I was wrong and she was right.
Next comes the art. I’m extremely luck to work with such a talented artist as Kelsea. She has a great sense of how a comic should be laid out. She will take my ideas and run with them, sometimes adding more panels than I called for some time collapsing where I thought there should be two panels into one. Besides that, she also asked a lot of questions. It was almost like having a second editor, in the best possible way. Once again, she was right and I was wrong (I sense a theme). Every time I made a change it made for a better story.
Now that we talked a little bit about work flow, here is an example of the script I hand off to Kelsea. On the Kickstarter page, you’ll find the finished pages leading up to this one.
PAGE 5 (6 panels)
Inside of the constable’s HQ. I’m thinking that this is where we’ll see the strongest western influences. The inside of the constable’s office resembles that of a marshal or sheriff’s station in a western. There are a couple of desks, a pair of holding cells and hallway that leads to a couple of interview rooms along with a break room for the officers.
With the Mrayaks waiting outside, Sophie and Kat stand with the mayor in front of one of the jail cells. In the cell, sitting on the bed. is Emma. She has a wide-brim Cowboy hat on, which is lowered to cover most of her face. It appears as if Emma might be sleeping.
This is our constable -- and the Murderer -- Emma Magarey.
Wow. This is looking like our easiest case ever, isn’t it, Kat?
I think so, Soph. I mean, normally we have to investigate…but Mayor Loa has obviously done all that work for us.
Sophie and Kat continue to talk with the mayor. They both have had their fill of these kind of small town mayors who think they know how to do everyone else’s job better than they do. They’re not doing anything to try to hide their feelings of disdain. Please position them so that it will be easy to show that Kat is cutting him off via lettering.
Obviously. With such conviction in your voice, Mayor Loa, why you must have witnessed the murder yourself!
(Interrupting and cutting off the mayor)
Did anyone witness it?
Kat gets in the mayor’s face. She is giving him the kind of neutral stare that only truly dangerous people are capable of. The kind of stare that looks through a person like they’re insignificant, and that the person staring could end them without any real trouble at all. The mayor is doing his best to drop his eyes to avoid Kat’s. Inside, Bernard Loa would like to do nothing better than run from the room screaming, but he is too afraid of what reaction that might provoke.
(in a near whisper)
Then let us do our job.
(From off Panel)
Oh, I like her.
Emma Stands up next to her bed, is and is walking towards the door of the jail cell. She has tipped her hat back on her head so that the reader can see her face fully.
Hi. I’m Emma Magarey, town constable.
We can see Sophie, Kat and Emma (who has reached the door to the jail cell and is resting her hands on the bars). Everyone is standing very casually. The mayor has backed away from this exchange nervously. He may or may not be in the panel.
Pleased to meet you, Constable Magarey.
I’m Rytier Sophie LeCoise.
This is my partner, Rytier Kat Zang.
Why does the mayor think you’re the murderer?
Close up of Emma. Her nonchalance has broken down a bit and her true and deep sorrow is starting to show through. She has been holding it together well, but she is near her breaking point.
If I had to take a guess, it’s probably because Cylise Magery is my ex-husband.
<end page 5>
One thing I tend to do is not give a lot of art direction. I ‘ll first set down the facts of a panel then I like to talk about the feel of a place. After that I like to focus on the actual story of what is happening. I’ll write what each character is feeling and what they’re thinking on a particular page. The way I look at it is that I’m paying the artist for their expertise in illustrating. I don’t need to tell them how to elicit an emotion or capture a mood, I just need to tell them what the character feeling and they’ll know how to show it on the page.
After I’ve handed the script off, and answered all of Kelsea questions (each time we work together she has less, which I take as a sign I’m improving as a writer), she goes about laying each page out in rough pencils. Here is what page five looked like.