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The Writing Process part 2: The Script

I decided “The Three Princes” would be written almost entirely as narration. The script would only feature dialogue during acts of violence and moments that shaped the lives of the three young protagonists. I felt the narration would give the story additional atmosphere and resonance. This tale would be told from the perspective of one of the boys, now aged and looking back.

In order for this to work I would need to develop and adhere to a style and rhythm of speech specific to my storyteller. This would be difficult to do if I wrote this script in my usual manner, which is to write the first panel’s description and then its dialogue and captions, and then move onto the second panel’s description and its dialogue and captions, and so on. I might lose the voice of the narrator if I was constantly switching from writing panels to crafting narration. (The two are very different modes of writing.) I would need to focus completely on the narration in order to define it.

The first version of “The Three Princes” was narration only. It read very much like a work of short fiction. Everything (people, places, events, dialogue, emotions, etc) was described by the narrator in his voice. As I had hoped, this style of writing allowed me to focus all my efforts on defining the narrator’s voice. This first draft was fifteen pages long and contained more than 5,000 words.

I knew much of what was written in the first draft would be moved out of the protagonist’s voice and into panel descriptions. Even so, I knew fifteen pages of text were not going to directly translate into fifteen pages of comic. I did some rough calculations and figured “The Three Princes” in script form would be twenty-six to thirty-six pages in length.

The second draft was in comic script form. I adapted a lot of information into panel descriptions. The artwork would show how characters looked, establish time and place, and would even be called upon to show readers the emotions involved in some of the scenes. Atmosphere would be a joint creation of the narration and the art.

Considerable editing occurred as I worked on the second draft. Much of what I had in my notes had made its way into the first draft, but whole scenes were discarded as I worked and re-worked the second. The sacrifices were made for the sake of the story’s pacing. Edits for length didn’t occur until the very end. I didn’t want anything more than thirty pages and I had two pages too many. Something had to go.

When completed, version 2 went to the other writers involved in this project, Ed Brisson and Dino Caruso. Ed did a great job identifying redundancies in the script, details that were given in both the narration and the panel descriptions. For example, the narration described Doherty as “thin and sickly”, but this would be seen in the artwork so I removed it. When I completed the edits suggested by Ed and Dino, I had a better script. It was still thirty pages long but was a tighter, more polished piece of work. This was version 3.

I gave this new version to my partners. They suggested some additional nips and tucks. This gave rise to version 4.

Version 4 is the working script. It will be given to the artist hired to bring “The Three Princes” to life. The script may change based on feedback from the artist, but for all intents and purposes version 4 is the final draft.

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