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Lesson 5: Story Length

ou broke it down into four parts: acts 1, 2a, 2b, and 3. They should be around equal length each. But how long should each part be?

That depends on the storyLoading....

Each act could be one panel. That way, you get a four-panel storyLoading..., also called Yonkoma in Japanese. The first panel sets the scene, the second panel develops a storyLoading... that happens, the third panel forms the climax, in which a surprising thing may happen, and the fourth panel is the emotional unraveling of it. You don't have to stick to it very rigidly. Sometimes, it works best if told in three panels, for example.

This advice goes against all the other advice about writing.
Each part could also be one page. How big is a page? That depends on the type of comicLoading.... Italian pocket comicsLoading... have one or two panels per page. American comicsLoading... tend to have one to six panels per page, while Franco-Belgian albums often have six to ten panels per page.

Each part could also be several pages, or they could even be a whole comicsLoading... issue or album. Or the parts could be horizontal-scrolling web pages that are approximately the same length.

For this assignment, we will take the first stab at breaking the storyLoading... down into panels. Take each part of your storyLoading..., and break it into what you think would be a good breakdown of panels.

Things to consider are the following:

1) Write the panels in a passive voice. This advice goes against all the other advice to write active sentences, but in this case, passive sentences are better because you are describing what is happening in that panel. The panel is a static thing, a still image. You are describing what you will see in that still frame. Using passive sentences will, for example, help you by preventing yourself from writing a panel where someone does multiple things. It is a still frame; they are doing one specific thing in that panel.

2) Consider starting with an establishing shot, so that the reader can see the location. You can then leave out the background in later panels and leave room for word balloons.

3) Try to break it up into panels in such a way that the panels already tell the storyLoading... visually, so that you can already follow the storyLoading... even if there is no dialogue.

4) Try to refrain from ‘calling shots.’ You can work out the camera angles and such at a later stage. Instead, do describe what you see in the order you will see it. See it as telling a storyLoading... visually, as the eye glides over the page.

5) You write the scriptLoading... panels without the dialogue because this way, you can first find out what aspects of the storyLoading... you can tell visually. If you can explain something visually, you don't need to explain it with words, and you will need less text on the page. If you start with the words on the page, you might end up explaining things with words that can also, or more effectively even, be shown through images. Start with the images, then add words where they are necessary to tell the storyLoading....

Format: right now, you are writing a scriptLoading... for yourself, so any form that is clear to you is fine.

For this assignment, you will break down your storyLoading... into panels.

I will do this course along with you, and here is my storyLoading... breakdown into panels.

Act 1

Panel: Establishing shot, the interior of an airport.

Panel: JACK, in his 40s, stands at a bar before check-in at an airport, carry-on luggage standing next to him.

Panel: Jack is about to take a sip, but he is distracted by something that is off-panel, something that is vying for his attention.

Act 2a

Panel: LINDA, 20s blonde, this stunning woman in a red pencil dress.

Panel: Linda smiles.

Panel: Linda turns and leaves with a teasing smile.

Panel: Linda in the distance.

Panel: Jack looks at her, dreamily, his drink still in his hand.

Panel: Jack finally takes a sip. A television in the background is tuned in to a news channel and they are talking about a criminal who has just been arrested.

Panel: Jack looks down.

Panel: Shock on Jacks face.

Act 2b

Panel: Where his carry-on used to be, it is now gone.

Panel: Jack tosses cash on the counter.

Panel: Jack rushes out the bar.

Panel: Jack is standing in the hall, where many travelers are walking in all kinds of directions. Military personnel walk around too, for security.

Panel: Jack frantically looks around, but he doesn't see her.

Act 3

Panel: Establishing shot, outside the airport.

Panel: Linda walks out of the airport wearing a long raincoat covering her red dress. And she wears a big hat and glasses, which cover her face somewhat. A guy walks next to her. He has Jack's carry-on suitcase.

Panel: farther away, a guy whispers into a mobile device. We see Linda and her companion walk past the guy behind him.

Panel: Police cars screech to a halt before Linda and her accomplice.

Panel: Jack comes running out of the airport, flashing his badge.

Panel: He arrests her and her accomplice, and they are led to the police cars.

Next Assignment 6: The Script

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