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I'm staying on target for all of my myriad projects and it feels great!  I'm pumped by each project and the more I dive into each one the more excited I become.  I've noticed and interesting convergence in process lately.  The editing steps and phases in my writing process are starting to gel into a replicable formula.  I'm not sure if this is the best process yet or not, but I decided I would take some time today to describe how I've been editting my comic scripts. 

I've discussed this phase several times before.  I drew this half page layout from the spine notes "buffalo chase away lions".  I start every page with a conflict and a resolution.  This page starts with the lion surrounded by cape buffalo, and during the course of the page the lion flees from danger.  As the page ends Elwood is leaving the safety of the herd, which ideally will set up the action to begin on the next page.

From here I move into my inital scripting phase which I'm going to label Plot Progression:

page 30

panel 1
Musk: Get off him.

Musk: You’ve got no friends here lion.

panel 2
Lion: Watch ya backs, ya lousy grazers.

panel 3
Musky: By sticking together we can look out for each other.

panel 4
Elwood: Did you see that kitty run?  I’ll be fine.

panel 5
Elwood: I’ve got to get this ‘car-tog-rap-her’ off my arm.

I've got potential dialogue for each panel but I know everything is subject to change.  The important thing for me is to figure out who needs to talk, and what issues need to be discussed in service to the plot.  The cape buffalo (which at this point in the scripting I was calling a musk ox, do your research!) needed to intimidate the lion, Elwood needs to feel over confident, and he needs to express dismay over the cartographer being attatched to his arm.  All these points need to be addressed, though they probably won't make it through exactly like this.  Since I've been hand lettering all of my projects recently I save my next edit for when I'm pencilling the pages from the layouts and plot progression script.

Step 2 I edit for Voice and Tone:

When I begin transferring the script to the pages I start paying attention to how the dialogue is being presented.  Does everyone sound natural?  Do characters have distinct voices?  Does the plot progression script match the feel and tone of the previous pages?  As I moved to this step in the process you can see several changes though nothing too major.  The lion's dialogue has been removed, as Timothy put it "The lions motivation is clear." There is little need to get overly wordy by having our villains speak instead of act.  I added in some dialogue to acknowledge that another light has appeared but he refuses to follow it.  The last little thing I did was take the hypens out of Cartographer.  I'm going to make Elwood a little more capable than I was intially planning, and that includes being a stronger reader.

When all of that is done and I have finished pencilling the page I reread everything carefully for step 3 Grammar and Punctuation.  I'm not going to spend any time discussing that step today.  It's not terribly interesting, and I'm hoping that everyone is familiar with this process from grade school.

My final step is the most exciting one and something that has the most direct application to Awful Lot at present.  It is the Plus 1 Edit.  The plus 1 operates on the assumption that I've never done anything perfect the first time.  In Maps, Timothy reads over the pages and then adds in his two cents.  What joke could have been more amusing.  What dialogue bubble was a bit too wordy.  What sentence wasn't clear.  As I reletter Awful Lot by hand I'm trying to insert a little more foreshadowing and one liners into the mix.  Also just tightening up some jokes so they are a little better paced or hit a little harder.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or want to talk about your process please feel free to use the comments section.

-Jon O

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