11 Presenting My Script

Above are fragments from three successive drafts of my script, the first two being intended for no eyes other than my own. My initial stab at luring vague ideas about my story onto paper from the fog of my imagination involved scribbling bits of dialog onto typing paper. Each sheet of paper was divided roughly into tiers of "panels" that resembled a tic-tac-toe grid. Breaking the paper down this way helped me begin to get a feel for how much space would be needed in the book for any particular incident, even though I knew that I would be using far more complex page layouts once I got around to actually drawing the pictures I was describing.

It was a great relief when, after several false starts, I finally arrived at a story that had a beginning, middle, and end. It was a terrible story, of course, but that's in the nature of first drafts! I knew that if I could just get some lumps of clay slung onto my ungainly narrative armature, the scariest part would be over. What would then await me would be the slow, steady process of sculpting: identifying what parts of my structure had merit and which parts seemed out of place, Then my job would be to burrow around in my imagination (and memory bank) in search of substitute elements that would work better than the ones that had first popped into my head. This process is never easy, but it's one I had successfully gone through before -- though never on a scale this large.

With my pencil scribbles to refer to I did two typed revisions in succession. Each was divested of a little more deadwood and flowed more naturally. My final "working draft" was formatted with stage directions like a play script. This was the version that I submitted to Mark Nevelow for approval.

LETTER TO KINNY AND ALASTAIR (February 13, 1991)

I expect a brief respite in a couple of weeks. By that time I will have turned in the script for my graphic novel to my editor at Piranha, and I’m sure it will take him a few days to react to it. ...

Notes for ATDNSIN* (April 1991)

… Right now I’m coming off the unnerving experience of pulling my Rapidograph out of its scabbard several months later than I thought I would. I expected last November to spend roughly a month nailing down a script for this monster. Instead, it took four months. It felt like writing a goddam movie script. For reasons I don’t quite understand, my script for a 205-page book requires 331 pages in typescript form, even though there are no pictures to take up space. Go figure. When I hauled my script into Mark Nevelow’s office, he almost fell over backwards. But he read and liked it and has given me the go-ahead to start drawing.

*An apazine I participated in for a while.