Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NOTES FROM THE EDITOR, part VII (final comments)


I've stretched this bit out for a number of weeks now. (But consider the fact that I spent from mid-December 2008 until the middle of March working on perfecting this story so that it would be ready for print in the UFO anthology from Ape).

Anyway, last time I offered up my third take on "Life is Funny" having expanded it from a 6-page story to an 8-page story in the interim, in order to expand the characterization and motivation and make it more readable for the intended audience.

This was the feedback I received from the editor:

Hey Chris,

I think we’re a little closer. I have a suggestion for page 3, panel 4. I think you could probably expand the idea of Jake and Tammy’s problems just a little more to hit the point home. Maybe one panel showing Jake out having with the guys and then a separate follow up panel with Tammy at home with a screaming baby.

I like the additions you’ve made that show the reader a little more of Jake’s motivation, but I think you’ve overcompensated a little. It’s a fine line between subtlety and hitting the reader over the head with character motivation. I think you just need to scale back a little on the “I’m sorry” and telegraphing what’s going on in Jake’s head. I don’t mean to sound contradictory to what I’ve said in earlier emails, but I think you’ve gone from “not enough” to “too much”. You just need to tighten that up a little. Maybe a few less “Tammy!” panels. Also, on page 7, panel 2, you could probably delete the caption: “They brought me back.” -- as we can already see that in the panel.

I think I need a little more of why Jake comes to the change of heart. It’s not that I want you to hit the reader over the head with it, I just need really understand what brings it about. Jake mentions that he has a boy that needs him and later on says that he doesn’t want to be like his dad. But when Jake says, “I don’t want to be my Dad”—it isn’t set up earlier in the story, so the reader doesn’t know what Jake’s father is like other than he doesn’t want to end up like him. You need to set this up or get rid of it altogether. Something like:

“When I was kid, I swore to myself that when I grew up, I wouldn’t be anything like my father. He left us when I was 10. God I hated that man. And here I am following in his footsteps. God I hate myself. “

Or alternately, or perhaps in addition to the above (not sure if you need both), you can address Jake’s change of heart with something like:

“I don’t know how long they had kept me. It could have been a few hours or several days or months, as far as I could tell. During that time I could only think of one thing: home. What were Tammy and Tate doing? Did they miss me? Who was going to take care of them? God I missed them. How could I even think about leaving them? Asshole.

If you do something like what I proposed above, you could probably cut out a lot of the dialogue on page 8 as the reader already know that Jake has had a change of heart. He could come home quietly, kiss Tate gently on the head and wrap his arms around Tammy and whisper, “I’m sorry.” She can ask, “For what?” To which Jake answers, “For everything.” And then end it with, “It’s funny how things work out.”

The above suggestions are just that: suggestions. You don’t have to take them. This is your baby. Hopefully I haven’t confused you at this point. Let me know if you have any questions.

Again, some great, detailed feedback, and note that Troy - the editor - always makes sure to let me know that these are only suggestions. Ultimately, the decisions lay with me. I took most of what he wrote, incorporated it into a new rewrite of the script, and with those final tweaks had a story Ape wanted. I won't bore you with yet another rendition of my script, but will leave you to look over the feedback and please feel free to compare it with the scripts I have offered up already. Next time I'll have an announcement on the artist working on this with me - someone with whom I was already familiar, but did not expect to hear from in the venue I was searching - along with a layout or two for the story. It looks great, and we're only at the beginning stages.


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