On the first day, the “homework assignment” was intended to simulate the process of developing a pitch, or a springboard, for a story in a particular genre. A roll of the dice was used to make a selection from eight genres – or a mix of two genres – to simulate receiving an assignment from an editor. After picking a genre, students needed to write two story springboards.
The second day’s assignment was to find someone to play the role of your editor – named Fred – and have Fred select one of your springboards, and then, in whatever format works for you, write the first page of that story.
The third day’s assignment was to make some kind of revision to your first page and then write some additional new pages, with the goal of having written half of your 5-8 page story.
The fourth day’s assignment was to make revisions and finish writing the story.
And today is the final day on which, if we’re willing, students are called upon to share their finished scripts.
That’s what this is for.
The genre I ended up with was Horror. If you take a look at this thread on Twitter, you can see all of my work to date, but here is where I’ll post the full text of the script for a story I call “Dreaming Your Life Away.”
My usual comic script writing is done in OneNote, as it allows me to sketch out thumbnails and show panel layouts next to the text, but it’s easier for me to simply share the text here.
Dreaming Your Life Away
Script by Jon Maki
Characters – Simon, our protagonist, an attractive, but somewhat uptight-looking man, mid-30s, ambiguous ethnicity – I’m open to any ideas here, but I want him to be kind of an everyman without defaulting to generic white guy.
Faith – A very conventionally attractive dark-haired white woman, late-20s, dressed in standard, if a bit tight-fitting and revealing, professional office attire.
Dee – Simon’s wife, mid-30s, similar ambiguous ethnicity, dark hair, attractive, but also somewhat gaunt, pallid, and sickly-looking; she has some (deliberately) vague, life-threatening, but manageable disease
Panel One: Overhead shot, Simon is sitting at an L-shaped desk in a cubicle towards the bottom of the panel, Faith is standing at the entrance to the cubicle towards the top of the panel, holding a coffee mug. Maybe the panel is part of a full-page shot of a cubicle farm, with all other panels floating on top of it? Simon has two monitors and a laptop on the desk in front of him, along with some photos, his cell phone, his desk phone, and coffee mug and the like on it
Faith: Hey, Simon, how’s the end-of-year report coming?
Simon: Huh? Oh, yeah…
Panel Two: Close-up shot of Simon from the POV of his monitor; Faith visible in the background over his left shoulder. Certificates and little typical cube decorations on the wall behind him. SFX: A small “BEEP BEEP” in the lower righthand corner
Simon: Just prettying up some of the charts. You know how much the execs like bright colors.
Panel Three: Front view of Faith in the background over Simon’s left shoulder, the back of Simon’s chair is in the foreground, as he’s turned himself to face her, but his head is turned slightly back over his right shoulder and his eyes are looking down at the larger “BEEP BEEP BEEP” in the righthand corner.
Simon: Do you hear that beeping?
Panel Four: Big “BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP” across the page, with an alarm clock that says 6:30 in the center
Panel Five: Close up shot of Simon, his eyes shooting open.
Panel Six: Overhead shot of Simon lying in bed. His wife, Dee, is in bed snuggling up against him on his left and reaching across him towards the clock on the nightstand, which is on Simon’s side of the bed.
Dee: mMMmmMm, g’morning.
Characters – Simon, Dee, Faith
Panel One: Simon and Dee sitting up in bed. Simon still looks a bit shaken. Dee looks concerned. Simon is wearing a T-shirt; Dee is wearing a simple slip-like nightgown.
Dee: Hey, you okay?
Simon: Huh? Oh…yeah. I just…I think I had a dream.
Panel Two: Straight-on view of both getting out of bed on their respective sides; Dee looks a bit unsteady.
Dee: Really? But you say you never dream.
Simon: I never do. Or I never remember. But I just did.
Dee: Was it bad?
Simon: No, just…VIVID.
Panel Three: In a breakfast nook, Simon dressed in office attire, in the foreground, Dee, wearing a robe and sitting at a counter with a cup of coffee in the background. Simon is holding a full bottle of pills in his hand, with most of the label obscured except, in big, red letters, “DO NOT EXCEED DOSAGE”)
Dee: So, what did you dream about?
Simon: I dreamed I was at work.
Dee: Ha! No wonder you never dream! I wouldn’t bother either if that’s what I dreamed about.
Simon: Very funny.
Dee: It’s probably just stress. You always freak out this time of year.
Simon: Yeah. But it felt so real. I thought I was there.
Dee: I know how that is. My meds give me vivid dreams. But at least I’m not dreaming about work.
Panel Four: Simon handing the pills to Dee
Simon: Speaking of meds…
Dee: Oh, right.
Simon: Okay, I’m off to my “dream job.” I’ll call to remind you when it’s time for your next dose.
Panel Five: A repeat of Panel One from Page One, caption over it, with quoted dialogue from Simon, “I’ll try to daydream about being here with you.”
Faith: Hey, Simon, how’s the end-of-year report coming?
Panel One: Repeat of Panel Two from Page one
Faith: What’s so funny?
Simon: Oh it’s…well, I dreamed about having this exact conversation.
Panel Two: Repeat of Panel Three from Page One, but Faith is smirking. SFX: BUZZ!
Faith: You were dreaming about me?
Simon: Uh, well, not about you, exactly…
Faith: You’re buzzing.
Panel Three: View from above of Simon reaching for his phone on his desk
Simon: Oh, that’s my reminder to tell Dee to take her meds. She has to take these pills, but they make her forgetful.
Panel Four: Oblique view of Simon’s face in the foreground, he looks distressed; in the background,
Faith is walking away with her back to him; Simon’s eyes are clearly focused on Faith’s tight-skirted bottom
Faith: Well, I’ll leave you to it. Tell Dee I said “Hi.”
Faith: Don’t forget that report. I’m out for the rest of the day…
Faith: …but maybe I’ll see you in your dreams.
Simon: Uhh..heh. Right.
Panel Five: Simon and Dee sitting on the couch, Dee on the right, yawning, Simon on the left. Simon looks uncomfortable.
Dee: Are you still thinking about the dream?
Simon: Yeah. Do people really do that all the time?
Dee: Pretty much.
Simon: I guess it is kind of neat. I just wish it wasn’t so confusing.
Dee: Well, time to see if you can do it again. But this time…
Panel Six: Floating caption with Dee dialogue “…try to dream a little bigger. Dream of something out of the ordinary.” A sequence of images that goes across the page, showing a close up of Simon in bed, blackness, and then an image of Faith holding open a storage closet door and unbuttoning her sleeveless blouse and giving a seductive look, then an image of Simon kissing her in the storage closet, with a final image of Faith’s head tilted back as Simon kisses her neck. SFX: BEEPBEEPBEEP in the lower righthand corner
New Character – Kevin, a nondescript white guy, early-40s, slight paunch, close-cropped brown hair, dressed in typical business attire – buttoned shirt, tie
Panel One: Side view of Simon and Kevin in a hallway; Simon looks tired, and is handing Kevin a Blu ray case, Kevin looks confused
Simon: Oh, hey, Kev – I brought in that movie you wanted to borrow.
Kevin: Uh, what? I’ve seen this. When did I say I wanted to borrow it?
Panel Two: Kevin’s back in the foreground, Simon in the background, scratching his head and looking embarrassed
Simon: …yesterday. Right? Did I…? I guess I dreamed it.
Panel Three: Kevin, looking concerned, his hand on Simon’s shoulder, Simon hanging his head
Kevin: You feeling all right, buddy? Is it Dee? Is she getting worse?
Simon: No, no, she’s fine. I just…I’ve been having these vivid dreams that feel like they’re really happening, because they’re so…
Simon: …I don’t know, normal. Realistic. Kind of…mundane. Not like what people say dreams are like. It’s confusing.
Panel Four: Shot of Faith from behind in the foreground, Kevin and Simon – Kevin’s hand is no longer on Simon’s shoulder – in the background. Faith is, as usual, wearing a very tight shirt, and the same blouse she was wearing in Simon’s dream on the last page.
Faith: Hey guys, sorry to interrupt…
Simon: What’s up?
Faith: The report looks great, but they want some more details on Q2. Can you take a look at it?
Simon: Uh, sure. Of course.
Faith: Perfect! You’re the best!
Panel Five: Simon and Kevin in the foreground, watching Faith walk away in the background
Kevin: So, if I was in your dream, was –
Simon: SIGH …yeah.
Kevin: Yeah, I bet she was!
Simon: It’s not…okay, it is like that.
Panel Six: Kevin has his hand on Simon’s shoulder again; Simon looks dejected
Kevin: Hey, they’re just dreams. They’re like a pressure valve.
Kevin: It’s a stressful time for everyone, and even more for you. So just let loose in your dreams, man.
Kevin: You’re not hurting anyone.
Five Panels, with the third panel taking up the focus of the page (See Panel Three description)
Panel One: Back of Simon’s head in the foreground. He’s holding his phone in front of him,
in a video call with Dee, who looks a bit more sickly
Simon: Time to take your pills.
Dee: I will.
Simon: I need to see you take them.
Dee: I wish you wouldn’t treat me like a child!
Dee: …I mean, I wish you didn’t have to. Sigh
Dee: I’m sorry my memory is so bad, and I get confused.
Simon: Don’t be. I love you and want you to stick around.
Panel Two: The back of Simon’s head in the foreground, Faith, in a slightly sexier, but still work-appropriate outfit, in the background, but should be the focal point
Faith: The report was a hit! The execs loved it.
Faith: We should go to lunch to celebrate!
Simon: Uhh…yeah, okay. Sure!
Panel Three: An image of Simon walking, with a background that’s a montage of images of him walking to lunch with Faith, both of them smiling and very close to each other, an image of their hands touching on the table, and an image of them in profile smiling at each other. Loose pills and “BUZZ” reminder SFX are scattered over the background. There is an image of the sun on the right, and the moon on the left. A horizontally and vertically flipped mirror image of it is right below it, but in the images of Faith and Simon walking together, they’re less intimate, in the shot of the table their hands aren’t touching, and in the profile shot, they’re both looking down at their phones.
Panel Four: A repeat of Panel Two, but Faith looks annoyed
Faith: Simon, where is the updated report? The execs are getting impatient.
Simon: What? But I thought…uh, I’m on it. Give me fifteen minutes.
Faith: Fine but get it to me as soon as you’re done.
Simon: Will do. Hey, uh, do you want to go to lunch after?
Faith: (Exasperated noise) …I mean, I guess? Just get it done!
Panel Five: A repeat of Panel One
Simon: Time to take your pills.
Dee: Are you sure? I know my memory’s bad, but I –
Simon: Just do it!
Simon: …I’m sorry.
Four panels; Panel Four is floating above the bottom right of Panel Three
Panel One: Dee, looking more gaunt and pallid in the foreground taking a pill, half empty pill bottle on the counter in front of her, Simon in the background, looking like he’s in a hurry
Dee: I think I’m taking too many –
Simon: Honey, I don’t have time for this.
Simon: I gotta…work late tonight. I’ll call you to remind you about your pills.
Panel Two: Close up of Simon’s smiling face, Faith leaning in from behind and whispering in his right ear
Faith: Hey, things are slowing down around here. Why don’t we take a break?
Faith: Maybe go for a…walk?
Simon: Sounds good. But, uh, I think I forgot to remind Dee about her meds earlier. Let me do that first.
Panel Three: Wide shot from behind of Simon and Faith leaning against a railing overlooking a pond in a typical city park. They are very close together, with Faith holding Simon’s left arm and resting her head on his shoulder. BEEPBEEPBEEP SFX in lower righthand corner overlapping Panel Four
Simon: It’s not that I don’t love her. I’m just tired. Tired of worrying about her, of having to be her memory. And just…tired.
Simon: And now this dream thing, and all the end of the fiscal year busywork, I feel like I haven’t slept in days, I think I’ve been dozing off at work, and I just don’t even know what’s real anymore.
Simon: And I do feel guilty about…this.
Simon: Even if it’s not real.
Faith: And what if it is real?
Simon: I..I’m not sure I’d be able to tell.
Simon: Or that I’d care.
Panel Four: Repeat of Panel One
Dee: I think I’m taking too many. I feel like…did you call and tell me to take my pills in the middle of the night? Was I dreaming?
Simon: Honey, I’m late, I don’t have time for your memory problems. Just take your pills!
Six panels; Panel Six is floating above Panel Five at the center bottom.
New character – Lydia from HR. Round-faced blonde woman in her late-20s; outfit is a dark blazer, dark slacks, but still kind of breezy
Panel One: Side view of Kevin approaching from the left, Faith approaching from the right, and Simon in the middle.
Kevin: Hey, Simon, did you remember to bring that movie in?
Simon: What? I thought…wait.
Faith: Simon, can I talk to you for a minute? In private?
Panel Two: Faith and Simon facing each other, Simon on the left, looking confused, Faith on the right, biting her lip and looking sad. SFX: BUZZ
Faith: This thing you’ve – we’ve – been doing…I don’t feel comfortable.
Faith: I was flattered, and…I don’t know, but it feels like you’re using me.
Simon: What? I haven’t –
Faith: I thought it could be something, but I had to finish the report for you, and your wife is sick and –
Faith: And there’s the buzzing. Go play pill monitor. I don’t want to do this.
Simon: Faith, I –
Panel Three: In the hallway, Faith is walking away from Simon, crying, but Simon has grabbed her arm, Lydia observing in the background, looking angry
Simon: Faith, wait just a damn minute! I –
Lydia: SIMON! Let go of her and come to my office.
Panel Four: Inside Lydia’s office, overhead shot, Simon at the door, Lydia walking to her desk.
Lydia: Have a seat.
Simon: Lydia, I need to –
Lydia: You need to have a seat, Simon.
Panel Five: Back of Simon’s head/shoulders in the foreground, sitting in a chair, Lydia, looking concerned, in the background behind her desk, which is covered with kitschy little objects and signs; there are big windows, with the blinds halfway down behind her. SFX: BEEPBEEPBEEP
Lydia: I don’t know what just happened out there, but we will have a conversation about it – later.
Simon: I can exp-
Lydia: Simon…it’s Dee. Your neighbor found her. She-
Lydia: Your neighbor tried calling you, but you didn’t –
Lydia: It appears she overdosed on her –
Panel Six – (Simon quickly sitting up in bed screaming)
Panel One: Shot of Simon sitting up in the bed from the side, turning his head towards Dee
Simon: Dream. Just dreaming. I…
Panel Two: Overhead shot of Simon reaching over and shaking an unresponsive Dee
Simon: Dee? Hey. Come on, baby, wake up! You can’t be – it was just a dream! WAKE UP!
Panel Three: POV is just over Simon’s left shoulder as he holds his phone in his hand
Panel Four: A view of Simon’s phone screen showing his call history
Dee 11:45 AM
Dee 1:30 PM
Dee 1:45 PM
Dee 3:30 PM
Dee 4:01 PM
Dee 5:33 PM
Dee 6:07 PM
Dee 12:45 AM
Dee 1:30 AM
Dee 2:13 AM
Dee 3:27 AM
Dee 4:06 AM
Simon: (Tailless) These…these are reminder calls. I…
Panel Five: Simon in the breakfast nook holding Dee’s EMPTY pill bottle, looking shellshocked
Simon: My dreams. Every time I dreamed that I…I did it. When was I…
Simon: Am I…when am I awake?
Simon: I’d like to wake up now.
Simon: Let me wake up.
Simon: (All lower case) …beep…beep…beep…
If you want to see more from other students, or even follow along, as all lessons remain available, check out the #ComicsSchool hashtag on Twitter.