Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Writing Day: Cutting It Down with Costa

As I write this, the frost giants of winter have descended upon St. Louis, covering everything in ice and snow. With promises of lots of ice followed by 10-20 inches of snow, the Blizzard of Oz has set in. The city is shutdown, and my employer closed the office today. (Yay!!) I've taken this rare day off to write.

As many of you know, I'm a member of Comics Experience Creators Workshop, a virtual writers and artists group where comic creators meet to critique and support each other. (You can find out more here.) One of the cooler things about the CE Workshop is that real-live pros like Jason Aaron, Peter David, John Romita Jr., and Nathan Edmondson, join in to do guest critiques on a monthly basis. Recently, a script I wrote, tentatively titled Last Days of the Cowboy, was reviewed by writer Mike Costa (of GI Joe Cobra and Transformers fame).

I'm a big fan of Mike's work, so I was thrilled to have him critique my script. He gave me some great notes. I'd love to post them here, but then I'd be spoiling an awesome story that hasn't even been handed to the artist yet. (Maybe I'll save it for the DVD Bonus Features of some future collection!) What I especially liked was what Mike had to say about cutting down the narration in my story.

Like a lot of writers, I had an elaborate backstory for my character and I wanted to fit that stuff in to this story. So I had him narrating over a series of panels, giving us all kinds of information, when, really, the action, the visuals, were doing the storytelling. And really, as is almost always the case, the background info isn't as important to the main story as the creator thinks. (In fact, it's another story altogether--maybe I'll tell it someday.)

But Mike's comments, as well as some by the group, gave me the confidence to jettison the info-dump I thought I needed to establish the character and to go with the visuals and key lines of dialogue I need to tell this story--and only those. Mike told me to go with the visuals I had already laid out. The end result, after rewriting and retooling, is a sparse, stark script, heavy on visuals and dripping with emotional impact.

While I was in there operating, I also widened some of the action panels to make this a real artist's piece, since it is a very visual story to begin with. If St. Louis stays frozen over tomorrow, I might even start networking with some artists. Let me tell ya, this one is going to blow your mind. I can't wait for you to see it.

By the way, More Tales from The Comics Experience is still available. Get yours by clicking the ad above.

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