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QDuck

Sooo... In an effort to curb my fail!duck tendencies I thought i'd ask something:

How do you take what you visualize and turn it into a script? How do you decide what to put in and what to leave out? I keep getting stalled at that one stage. :(

5/6/2009 #1
Jumping Jack Flash

This sounds like the sort of thing I can help with, considering how much script I write for my various comics. :D

Not sure I'll have time today, but I promise an in-depth response soon.

5/6/2009 #2
Rosestoo

First and foremost I want to admit my bias: I took a screenplay class last Spring and it practically pulled me over the bend with confusion and stress primarily caused by the professor. It sort of helped me along to a 6 month writers block that didn't let up until fairly recently.

So I have an unfair loathing of scripts.

However, there are lots of types of scripts so moving on to something useful: What type of script are you looking for? Screenplay? Play? Comic Script?

For Hard Drive Reality, a webcomic I illustrate on occasion (IE when school does not own my soul) I have my co-writer Jeni do the scripts. I know the story, but I really can't break it down from page-to-page. Once she scripts it, I can break it down into images and page layouts but without her input I fail.

On the flipside. I did a short script for my other friend Therese to draw. This, oddly enough, was perfectly easy for me--perhaps because I didn't have the story in another format before I started writing the script.

For more traditional instructions, IE class from hell, you're supposed to write the short story first (my professor was really weird and left me thinking it was supposed to be a summary of a short story) and then break it down until its only dialog and base description.

Over all, to really respond I need to know what your trying for and what style of script you're working on.

Edit: What is with this block-text fail posting?

5/6/2009 . Edited 5/6/2009 #3
QDuck

@Jack: I pretty much asked to wring you dry. ^^;

@Rose: On the 'traditional' side, I tend to do that switching the short story for a summary. It's for both comic and game projects, since both interest me. ^^; I'm sorry I brought up a bad subject.

I think my fail is extending to the thread or (more likely) FP is bein' stupid. :(

5/6/2009 #4
Rosestoo

Hey-hey---no. I just wanted to let everyone know my biases so that its not like "wtf? Crazy bitch" because I go off on random tangents. :D I just avoid the hell out of screenplays now and get cranky about them.

I will have to see if I have any of the script writing books at home. If not then they are at my other home and, well, I won't be able to acess them for another three weeks or so. I can scan/copy some of the tips and tricks I thought were good, and what some people who enjoyed the class thought were good, when I get my hands on them again. Sorry I can't be tons~ of help. I'm sure Jack will get most of it.

And, no, its just my personal brand of fail. It follows me around and eats my formatting. :3

5/6/2009 #5
QDuck

Thanks for replying anyway! :D

*here, have some cookies that hopefully don't taste like fail*

5/6/2009 #6
Jumping Jack Flash

Righto, let's see if I can be helpful!

First of all, a peculiarity of mine which is not, I assume, universal: I see my stories as movies in my head. Since you said 'visualize', I assume you do at least work from mental images, so that's helpful.

Script is a way of turning something visual into text, in such a way that whoever's interpreting it -- actor, artist, etc. -- can convert it back to visual. For discussion purposes I'll assume you're writing comic script, since that's what I know best. The more specifics you put in, the more accurate the interpretation can be, but you need to balance that with efficiency. If each panel takes a page to describe, that's getting a bit silly, but if you don't give anything more than 'John hits Joe', your artist is going to come up with something very different from what you imagined. You'll need to find your own balance there through trial and error.

It helps if you know your artist well. Since Rah and I are close friends and housemates, and have been doing Metanoia together for years, I have a very good idea of what she needs described in detail and where she only needs a few words to know what I mean. For instance, she's extremely good at depicting subtle nonverbal interactions between characters, so I know I only have to say something like 'Star tense and a bit guilty, Zan angry' and the scene will come out perfect. But vehicles are an alien world to her, so I need to tell her make and model, find photo reference, and even -- in the case of commonly used vehicles like Star's truck and Zan's bike -- get her physical models that she can draw from. When I was drawing the comic myself, the scripts were very different -- I described poses and expressions exhaustively, but barely thought about mechanical details, knowing I could work them out in the drawing stage.

As for the writing, I suggest a two-stage process: a rough draft in which you write whatever comes to mind, not worrying about length, and then a brutal editing pass to boil it down as tight as you can get it. The graphic format imposes some pretty severe space constraints. Exposition is especially difficult, and it's best to design the story so it needs as little exposition as possible. Long conversations are a heinous bitch to do. It's 'show don't tell' in its purest form, and if you're coming from prose it can be hard to adjust.

Lemme see if I can hunt up a prose example of mine and hammer it into comic script in some useful manner...

Okay, here's something out of Kastor book 2 that shows the kind of changes the comic format imposes:

If he hadn’t gotten an advance from the Silver Circle, he would’ve been in trouble. He took Charis to a cheap little noodle shop on the bay, thinking he ought not to be extravagant when he wasn’t sure what he’d need later, but the cheapness of the food was overcome by the enormous volumes Charis put away. Wheat noodles with shrimp. Rice noodles with beef. Dumpling noodles with vegetables and eel. The fact that he didn’t know how to use the provided chopsticks didn’t slow him down; he used them alternately as a shovel and a spear. Kastor was too astonished, at first, to begin on his own bowl.

When the inhaling slowed a little, he bent to his meal. He was interrupted by Charis tugging his sleeve. When he turned, Charis said mushily, “Can oo do iss?” and showed him a mouthful of half-chewed food.

“Usually I don’t,” Kastor told him seriously. “Not much demand for it.”

Charis swallowed, giggled. “Do it.”

Kastor filled his mouth with noodles and then gaped. “Gaaaah.”

More giggles. Peals of them. Kastor found his mouth too full to swallow, because his throat had closed. He’d made his son laugh. He told himself sternly that a little clowning wouldn’t make the difficulty of the situation go away. But for the moment... the noodles were so good.

First of all, I have to lose the exposition. Where Kas got his money is the kind of detail you don't have room for in comics. Graphic storytelling has to focus on the here-and-now. But Charis's excessive appetite is worth showing, even if the actual type of food he ate isn't essential. The dialogue is pretty straightforward, but since I can't describe Kastor's thoughts, I have to show his feelings with expressions and body language. It becomes necessary to exaggerate his emotions a little so they show up in a picture. Finally, timing: it needs to be compressed, because if I spare a panel for every single action, it either gets boring or creates an atmosphere of suspense that I don't want for this scene.

So after running it through the mincing machine, I get something like this:

Three consecutive panels of Charis eating, empty bowls piled higher in each one, Kas increasingly bemused.

Kas half smiling down at his bowl, picking up noodles; Charis looking over at him with bulging cheeks.

Charis tugging Kas's sleeve, mouth still bulging. Charis: "Can oo do iss?"

Charis opening his mouth wide to show mouthful of gross moosh.

Kas trying to keep a straight face; Charis swallowing. Charis: *gulp* Kas: "Usually I don't. Not much demand for it."

Charis giggling, Kas eating a big chopstick-load of noodles. Charis: *giggle* "Do it!"

Kas leaning toward Charis gape-mouthed; Charis covering his mouth with both hands, feet kicking up, convulsed with hilarity. Kas: "Gaaaaah!"

Charis laughing himself silly; Kas smiling crookedly. Charis: "Heeee hee hee!"

Charis with head down on counter laughing; Kas wibble-faced and misty-eyed. Charis: *snrk* "Heee!"

As you can see, even a really short scene gets stretched out when you chop it into panels. That being the case, a lot of the skill of scriptwriting is learning how to suggest a full story in a series of meaty little sound bytes. Each scene has to advance the story, and if you can make it do double duty, so much the better.

Of course, how much freedom you have depends on the format. If you were writing superhero comics for Marvel, you'd be trying to tango in a matchbox; you'd not only have to squeeze a full episode into -- what is it these days, 32 pages? -- you'd have to include whatever the series coordinator told you to include in terms of plot points, characters, and so forth. I gather it's like building a ship in a bottle. But for a graphic novel on the web, you have near-absolute freedom, and can sprawl out as much as you want. You could, in theory, do fifty pages of talking heads explaining the plot. But you don't want to. Because if your story doesn't work when boiled down to comics-pacing, it's not a good fit for the format, and it'd be better to do it as prose.

The kind of story that works best in graphic format, in my experience, is a relatively fast-moving one in which the reader's comprehension of the action depends almost totally on the appearance of the action, assisted by dialogue. So, for instance, Neil Gaiman's novels are easy to adapt for comics or film, because characterization comes mainly from dialogue and action, and setting and props usually look like just what they are. Whereas adapting China Mieville to comics would be an utter nightmare, since there's no way to draw his amazing settings that will convey the history, quirks, and offhand details where the real meaning lies.

That's all I can think of for now, but do ask questions, because I'm sure I've only skipped over the wave crests here.

5/8/2009 #7
QDuck

... *is stunned* I see, that's fairly similiar to how I usually try, but I do admit i'd have an easier time of it if I didn't try to have it so well thought out in the pre-script. I think I definately need to work on timing. ^^;

But for questions... I don't suppose you happen to know how to write a script for a VN, would you?

5/8/2009 #8
Jumping Jack Flash

Durr... what's a VN? Ignorant Jack is ignorant.

5/8/2009 #9
QDuck

It's fine! ^^; *is bad at explanations* Umm... short answer is a CYOA type game. Very popular in Japan. Often has porn involved but not always.

Long answer is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_Novel ^^;

5/8/2009 #10
Jumping Jack Flash

Oh, like Phoenix Wright! Seebs loves those. Well, aside from the added necessity of scripting multiple story branches, I'd guess it's more like an illustrated story than like comic scripting. You wouldn't be using the graphics to capture the action, but instead to show the character you're interacting with and the details of the setting. You have more room for dialogue, and depending on how you're doing it, description and exposition too. Sounds like a lot of fun, actually.

5/8/2009 #11
QDuck

They're fun to play but very difficult to write. ^^;

5/9/2009 #12
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