Strangeways: Murder Moon – Page 18
Time for a breather after all that.
Commentary after the jump.
I have to say, I really liked how this last sequence played out. Probably not enough *happened* for a lot of people’s tastes, but we get a real sense of the backstory of the characters, Collins in particular, and how they relate to one another. A lot of that is done through the art. Pay attention to the expressions that Luis chooses and how he draws them. I’ve said it before. I’m not really concerned if the artists I work with are the most conventional and beautiful draftsmen (or women, since at least two of the artists I’ve hired on for THE LAND WILL KNOW–aka STRANGEWAYS 3– are of the distaff persuasion), but that they can get the characters on the page. And you do that by rendering recognizable emotions, not just action. Don’t get me wrong, action is good and fine, but it’s not the whole enchilada.
We start off with a far shot, showing the isolation of the scene, even though there’s a cheery fire burning. But we all know that when you light the scene with a campfire, you get a lot of shifting shadows that can play tricks on your eyes as easily as they can light the way. Web’s wounded, but mobile. Collins is shaken, but holding together and Father Abbot is is pretty haggard shape. The wolf could be right out there, just no way of knowing. This is far from secure.
A little more backstory sneaks in, but by way of conversation, not raw exposition. Webster knows the Sheriff of Silver Branch. Collins is an ex-Union officer, but keeps that well hidden. Neither of them is sure what they’ve just come up against or how to stop it should it show up again. All of these are critical story points that you can’t simply walk up and say out loud. They have to come out in interactions between the characters, not by way of lecturing. If I learned anything useful from the Robert McKee STORY book and seminar, it’s that you use “exposition as ammunition”. If characters have backstory or history, have them use it in their confrontations or interactions so you can introduce it seamlessly. Sometimes that works easily and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth. You’re never going to get every nuance out, so don’t try. Worry about what’s important to the characters and have them express it.
Collins might not like bragging about his past in the Union Army, but here he’s making a point that he can take care of himself and it makes more sense for him to stay back and protect Father Abbot. It works in the context of the scene, and gives the readers a look into how he works. There’s a bit more of that in the coming pages, and I happen to think that it worked out pretty darn well.
But then I’m biased.
See you all on Monday.