Okay, sorry again for the delay, but I didn’t want to short-change you, cos you did such a great job for me.
I’ll start with a few things that are probably irrelevant, but which may end up being the difference one day between someone saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a script.
Basically there’s a presentation issue, here – again, this may not matter, but if something looks unprofessional an editor may just pass it by or not read it with total concentration. So, in that vein, I would say that the formatting is really odd. The dialogue/captions have a huge left indentation but barely any right indentation. Also, there’s no differentiation between what is a caption and what is dialogue balloon. There were also quite a few typos, like the comma instead of a full-stop at the end of the dialogue on panel three page 1; or the missing “of” in panel two page 2’s “background the jewelry store.” Again, these are just little things, but I can imagine an editor saying, as soon as (s)he opens the file, “This guy isn’t a professional,” which just puts you on the back foot from the start and we all know editorial and creative decisions are very personal things. It’s silly: someone shouldn’t judge your story based on the formatting, but that’s why you should make it look professional – if there’s no indication from the formatting that this is the work of someone without experience, then that will leave only the story to be judged. As inconsequential as this feedback might be, it’s potentially also the most useful, as it’s easily actioned and is the most objective.
Another semi-objective thing I noticed (and I noticed it in another script as well) is that the panels are not necessarily clearly described for the artist. Take the first panel. “The gamblers are pros.” What do you want the artist to draw here? Maybe they’re in tuxedos? If so, then I would say it’s best to just say that. Perhaps there are there architectural differences (of which I’m not aware) between pro casinos and tourist traps? Well, whatever those architectural differences are, again I think it would be best to state them, because if I’m not aware of them I can imagine the artist might not be either.
Similarly with descriptions of intent, an example of which we can find in that same panel: “He’s trying to be a high-roller.” What is the artist meant to draw for this one? Is the artist meant to put a certain expression on the character’s face? Pompousness? If so, then to avoid the questions, you could just instead say “He has a pompous expression on his face.” (If you think the artist needs to be told a character’s motivation in order to properly render the character’s expression, then you can give both: “He has a pompous expression on his face, as he’s trying to be a high-roller” -- just as long as at some point you say what you want the artist to draw.)
Okay, that’s it for the ‘reasonably-objective’ observations. Now into the clearly subjective things, which will probably be of less help but I hope you can find something in them too. First, small things, like word choice: in one of the captions on page one, you write about “catching waves till the sun comes up.” Great line, love the analogy -- but it’s probably not a great enough line to repeat, especially in the very next word balloon. I would say you should either come up with some variation of this line, or else cull it from the balloon or the caption.
On the more substantive side, you said that you wrote the story for people who weren’t familiar with Supercrooks, but for me as the uninitiated I did get confused a few times. In particular, the captions at the top of page two leave me a bit perplexed. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to go solo” implied to me that Carmine is now, in the present, going solo again. It was only when I read further into your script that I realized this wasn’t true. Then, in the next sentence, I wasn’t sure how the word ‘solo’ was operating: that is, is Carmine saying that, during his solo days, he pulled a few solo jobs; or is he saying that, before his solo days, he pulled a few team jobs? By the time I got to “It wasn’t long after I got my start” I was already in such a temporal vortex that I could interpret this sentence in three or four different ways!
Now that I’ve read your story, I understand what these captions were trying to say – and for someone who knows the story now, it’s all very clear. But when I first read it, with absolutely no idea what was going on, I had a few different ways to read this entire caption and so that may be something you want to keep in mind if you’re writing for new readers. You don’t want to over-explain, but you want to be clear with the word-choice. So, I think something like this might have worked: “The only time I ever had to go solo was very early on in my career. I’d pulled a few team-jobs before that but that otherwise I was completely inexperienced.” That probably doesn’t fit the voice of the character, but you see how it kind of clears up the ambiguity.
Another instance where I got confused by the captions was the one where Carmine says the cops thought his thefts were a coordinated string of robberies. Do you mean that the cops thought the robberies were committed a gang or group, rather than an individual? How would the fact that Carmine wasn’t on the scene give the police the impression that the robberies were committed by more than one person?
My advice to overcome this kind of hurdle would be to get trusted friends/colleagues/other who aren’t familiar with the story to read through your script, and to let you know if anything is unclear. I can’t give better advice on this one because I notice this within my own writing: I’ll read something back after a week, or a month, or years, and go, “What did I mean here?” So I guess that’s another option, if you have the time: wait long enough that you forget what you wrote, and read it with completely fresh eyes (and be very critical of yourself). Other than that I’m stuck on this pitfall in my own writing, so I can only tell you to be aware of it – but on the bright side, I think everyone, including all my favourite writers, have problems like this. Peer review before publication is a massive part of many writers’ processes. I know on the other thread some people were saying that not all writers (e.g. Asimov) do this, and I’m sure that’s correct – but at least some great works are written this way; so, for as long as unclear phrases are an identifiable issue within your work, I’d suggest using this review process as a way of getting around it. Plus, the more feedback you get in this area, the more likely you’ll learn where you’re going wrong, too; so after a time it may not be an issue anymore and perhaps that’s the path to Asimoviness.
As for the story itself, I quite liked it – it’s a simple story, but for four pages I thought you put in a nice amount of complication. It’s sort of meant to be upbeat, with the “Don’t let failure stop you from looking for the next opportunity” moral, but you undercut all that by showing that you can be always upbeat and yet always fail. Or that, if you do succeed, you might lose all the rewards of your success anyway because you were looking out for your next opportunity. It complicates a well-known simplistic moral with a bit of reality, and that’s the kind of thing I personally enjoy. I read someone else say that they felt your story was inconsequential, and to a degree I understand that, but only to the degree that (without having read it) I think Supercrooks is probably inconsequential. That is, a mod described Supercrooks as Ocean’s 11 with supercriminals, and for me I felt that Ocean’s 11 was a bit of fluff and that’s not my bag. If that description is accurate then I think the criticism of your story being inconsequential is unfair, because I found more of consequence in your four pages than I did all the Oceans movies put together. I admit that it’s still a small consequence but if you made it too weighty or heavy you’d be breaking the spirit of the comp by going outside the bounds of the original’s tone. But I do say that without having read Supercrooks so I may be pulling this out from deeper in my ass than the rest of my ramblings!
Well, that’s a long missive, but again I really appreciate what you did for me so I hope that I was able to give you the kinds of insights that can help things along. Cheers, Warren!