I have two big sheps myself so this resonated well with me ( although both of mine are considerably dumber than Molly ). I have to echo some of Shauns comments but can see you have already responded to them. I suppose the only thing I’d say about that though is we’re writing something that we should be comfortable putting in front of an editor ( and in idle moments I imagine some editors perusing this site on occasion ) and you didn’t do yourself justice with the script. That’s so much of a crit as an observation and the story is worthy of you refining it for being left in the shop window of the board.
Making Molly the protagonist was a smart way of working with the theme.
Overall I really enjoyed the story and could see it working very well aimed at a young market.
I have to say this ranks alongside some of the best work I have seen from you. Real shades of Koontz with the darker side of the Twilight Zone mixed in. It would work really well as a prelude to a creepy town story ( my current theory being that the majority of the residents are aliens with a more progressive approach to experimenting on humans ). The real winner for me is that I’m still coming up with theories as to what is going on. Keeping me thinking after I’ve finished reading is a winner for me.
Why am I thinking the Shining? I liked this, but do think the oxygen level thing may have been handled better. We needed more of a sense of beguilement I think to justify her not turning back. There wasn’t enough at the point where her tank was half full ( ok we could see the man at that stage, but didn’t have enough of a siren like vibe going on ). There were also a few panels where it read more like a movie script ( “She continues on to the kitchen” – should have read something like “We can see her in the kitchen now”). It is something you will need to work on if you’re to get past submission editorial review. I really did like the story though and doing it all under water was again another great way of working with the theme.
Good story but found the script really tough going. With this many entries in the competition I suddenly found myself sympathising with a submissions editor. So little time, so many scripts and then I hit yours and my eyes just glazed over. It is nothing to do with your story ( I liked the story ) but everything to do with formatting. It’s something you will need to work on and should be easily fixed.
Good story but a bit confused as to why the woman bothered with the rooftop or sniper rifle when the bomb was in the street. The rest worked very well for me but the bomb/rifle thing is ruining it a bit.
Not much else to say, I think I’ve fed back on everyone ( or at least I hope I have ). Excellent turnout and really enjoyable scripts.
@Chris2.0: Yeah the ending was definitely tricky. I wanted the cyborg's face to be completely covered, just for aesthetic purposes, but it really made it impossible for him to convey any emotion at the end there. I was trying to get across a sort of sense of bewilderment and regret at his failure, but it was definitely tough to get that across.
@Zepster: The cyborg would have noticed the bomb before the car got to it. She needed to distract it by drawing it away until she could blow up the car, that was why she was on the roof with the rifle. I was going to have some shot where the cyborg was just looking around, scanning the street for foreign objects, but I didn't have room. If I decide to revisit this I'll def keep that clarity issue in mind.
Thanks for the comments and crits!
I thought as much but then decided that her manual detonation of the bomb was too much of a flaw for that to be the plan ( had he taken her head first... ). Might have been better ( and made better use of the last page ) to have it on a dead man switch instead ( or a partner on another building detonating the bomb from there ).
Originally Posted by barrytown83
A debt repaid
Clear, consistent, and compelling, though the plot may be too straightforward. I'm not entirely sure deflecting shuriken is realistic, but it certainly is more dramatic than dodging them.
It may be more interesting if Singen encounters a greater challenge or is injured prior to the final face off. As it stands, it seems as though its predetermined he'll succeed based on the ease of his infiltration. Right now, the most interesting part of the story is the young woman in the portrait, and while that does arouse curiosity, the onscreen action could be more engaging if there were some added complications.
Fish in the Sea
This has a distinct sense of humor, and there was no difficulty suspending disbelief even with the sudden entrance of Pirannie. I did have a problem with the deathblow, as I’m not sure he would’ve been able to exert enough force to penetrate her skull. Perhaps it would be more plausible if he hit her on the head with his free arm, driving her soft palate down onto the tooth. The incorporation of the ring in the ending makes sense thematically, but his relationship with the nurse felt a little rushed. It might have been better to have him single at the end: contrasting his feelings of worthlessness after the failed proposal with his regained self-worth.
When you were writing the story, what prompts the astronaut to take off his helmet? The assumption that removing your helmet would be non-fatal is a pretty substantial thing to take for granted. The panel descriptions are very evocative, and combined with the deliberate pacing, create a solid atmosphere, but the descriptions of the astronaut’s facial reactions could use some more detail.
As for the plot, there are a number of reasons to destroy the Earth and/or humanity, but impact on nearby celestial bodies is not among the more plausible. It would be fairly easy to make it prohibitive for humanity to launch spacecraft without destroying the planet, and it seems like if these aliens are environmental preservationists, they’d take the least invasive measures possible.
For humor, you’d probably be best off going in a lilliputian direction: juxtaposing your dramatic set-up with a more patently absurd method of and rationale for destruction.
Both the killer and the heroine are lacking in depth, and there’s surprising little tension in the chase. It’s kind of like that Stalin quote, one man’s death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic; without something to individuate the characters, the particular circumstances of their deaths doesn’t really matter.
Very cute, though the ending was somewhat heavily telegraphed. When I first read it, I thought the mime had thrown Arnold into the sidewalk; I’m not sure if that would’ve improved the story, but it was a parsing issue that bears mentioning. Magical realism is difficult in that it has to go far enough to warrant being used, but be restrained enough so that the whole story doesn’t jarringly delve into pure fantasy. The magic is restrained here, but the mime could have plausibly manipulated Arnold into injuring himself in a number of non-magical ways, so I wonder if it was necessary at all. That said, this was definitely one of my favorites of this round.
I Would Kill For A Hot Dog In Times Square
This would fit right as a script for “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” or as a Goosebumps book, though again, the ending is heavily telegraphed. Many panels, the initial panel in the dream chief among them, have far too many details, and would either have to be divided or omitted completely. The first panel of page four has multiple actions, and would also have to be divided. I recommend doing thumbnails of your pages as you’re writing. The transition between the last two panels on page five are too sudden; you need at least one panel between them. Looking at the panels you drew, it seems like you could have gotten across their contents more clearly had you first written a barebones description and then gone back in to add your character’s internal monologue. As a small aside, I do appreciate the way you’ve formatted your script: it’s very readable.
The Unity Parade
The plot is clear, but there’s still a believability issue: unless this is a totally revolutionary bomb design, it doesn’t seem like the can would just be allowed to sit in the street, especially when it’s been so deliberately planted. I just assumed the cyborg was part of a larger security detail, and it seems like there’s no reason you wouldn’t have more than a few guards scanning the street. The “attendance mandatory” banner also seems a bit heavy handed and out of place; the assassin’s final smile has a similar issue. The panels are all very clear, and the action is well described, though.
What makes a man...
The panel descriptions have far too many details, especially details that are conditional on there being enough space for them. I’m ambivalent with respect to the dream sequence because I’m not sure if foreshadowing the reveal hinders or helps the story; it certainly makes me more interested in his background, but I don’t know if a dream was the best way of providing that information. Having the computer text in English is wholly unneeded, since most of these error messages can be communicated using simple symbols.
Molly's Adventure: The Kidnapping
Fairly fun and clear, though not as humorous as your previous stories, this one is well told and engaging. The ransom note, Amber Alert sign, and bleach labels are unnecessary; once you have the FBI, its’ clear that this has attracted national attention, though arguably even that is unnecessary. The basement panel adds a helpful level of menace, though it would have to be fairly large to include all of these details.
LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Similarities with the Shining have already been mentioned, but the story stands on its own two feet well enough. The headline seems unnecessary; but it might be better if there were some more pictures of people on the ship, or some other details that would suggest why she would be compelled to explore its interior. Presumably, once she found the coordinates, she could return to it with a larger group of people, but if she was looking for something or someone specific, it would be easier to understand why she went looking on her own.
Thanks all around for the crits.
@ Zepster: When it comes to pop-horror, I'm more a fan of Stephen King, but thanks. Hopefully, I'll be able to give everyone nightmares.
@Chris 2.0: I think page four is a little long, and maybe the onset of paralysis could be folded in to page three. I actually think it would've improved the story if I'd removed the first patient, and made room for larger panels on the last page, but I really wanted that vacuum tube... Well, 'murder your darlings' and all that.
@ barrytown83: clarity is a recurring issue of mine, so I can't blame it on the format; and yes, I should have cut the first two panels from the last page, though the issue of clutter is somewhat mitigated by the number of inset panels.
@ Shaun: I did want the pacing to be deliberate and avoid giving too much away before the end. In order to show a character is speaking, you really only need to show their mouth making a prominent vowel shape. Pronouns should be clear if the person has already been mentioned on in the previous panel; I was worried about how often I was using the characters names, and how grating that could be. I should've been clearer with Agnes, that is a valid point. I wanted a betrayal by authority story, and between medical crimes and cannibalism, medical crimes seemed scarier because of the greater grounding in reality.
@ barrytown83 - Not sure what you mean by abstract concepts. I did forego straight panel descriptions to give more of a "feel" for each one, which a lot of people seemed to mistake for multiple actions. I'm going to take the appreciated, though somewhat repetitive, critique as I sign that I got too heavy-handed with the style. At least you enjoyed the concept, if not the script.
@ Chris2.0 - Thank you. Some Sandman, definitely, even though it was never consciously on my mind while writing, I can see the influence on reflection. Neil Gaiman's pretty fond of the lost girl motif, I think. I'd never heard of Paprika before, but now that I have, I'll definitely check it out.
@ tudore - I do draw thumbnails as I write, and often edit them afterwards, to give to the few artists so far who have drawn from my scripts. What "telegraphed" the ending for you? Something in particular, like the shirt, or the whole mirror idea? As for the formatting, it's something I picked up reading, … DeMatteis, maybe? Someone like that. It just felt right. Glad to know that it's working, as I've played around with a lot of different styles before settling on this.
@ Inkspot: The shirt is a dead giveaway; when I saw your thumbnail, I realized you meant the artist to use that exact design, but at first I just thought you meant something similarly simple.
Having seen a number of iterations on this theme 'temptation of the innocent in a non-rational world,' the slightest hint of the trope sets of alarm bells (Narnia [the White Witch's Turkish Delight]; Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Coraline; Hansel and Gretel.) Once the mirror reappears, it's clear the entire world is hostile; when she's pulled in, its clear that it is both malicious and dominant. Once its hopeless, the reveal at the end isn't surprising. If its supposed to be apparent that she's doomed, it would be better if her last moment of joy were something more substantial or pathetic: being reunited with a dead loved one, or some such.
Heh. I did mean something similar at first, but then I started to really like the logo. When I set about drawing the panels, it was right there.
Not convinced the entire world is hostile, though. It is still a young girl's mind, regardless of what may be lurking inside. She was just unlucky enough to have found her malcontent doppleganger in the mirror rather than a Tumnus figure.
Thank you for the clarification.