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The Writer's Desk: Loosely Based (Part 1)

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By Nikola Jajic—I began writing Loosely Based in 2006: during that period and leading up to the actual writing of the script, I was reading a lot of Paul Auster, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman, while also watching a lot of the old Twilight Zone episodes. I suppose the mix of these influences was partially responsible for the book going in the direction that it did.

I wanted to write a supernatural thriller, one filled with un-likeable characters getting their just do. I also wanted the book to work as a metaphor for the creative process, while also having a bit of a meta-fictional quality to it. I remember finishing the novel Leviathan by Paul Auster right before I began writing Loosely Based. Thinking back on it now, I suppose that’s why Duncan became a struggling writer, and why his creations quite literally came to life. As homage to the book, Duncan’s friend and fellow writer was given the last name of “Sachs,” which he happens to share with a certain character from Leviathan as well.

The resulting Loosely Based tells the story of Duncan Moreno, an author who gets a bit of help from a mysterious muse.

Duncan's relationship with this muse has transformed him from a struggling writer to the best selling author of The Casanova Killer. Unfortunately, it comes with a price. When Duncan's main characters come to life and confront him, all his success and fame won't mean a thing, and Duncan's world is forever changed.

Here are pages one through six of Loosely Based, excepted from the first chapter, “The Price to Pay.”


Page One (Four Panels):

Panel 1. In the first panel we see a close up of Duncan’s eyes.

Panel 2. In this panel we see Duncan’s whole face.

CAP: One week…

Panel 3. We see that he’s lying on a bed.

CAP: One fucking week.

Panel 4. Duncan is lying on a bed in a prison cell. He has an annoyed/upset look on his face.

CAP: That’s all it took for my world to come crashing down.

Page Two (Five Panels):

Panel 1. There’s a jam-packed line that’s formed of eager fans waiting for signed copies of his novel, titled “The Casanova Killer,” which is on a poster board elevated in the background. Duncan is signing copies off-panel with Maggie next to him.

CAP: One week earlier…

MAGGIE (In a whisper, off-panel): Duncan! When can we go? This is so boring!

Panel 2. Duncan is looking at Maggie while taking a book to sign from another fan who is in line. Maggie is looking away with an expression that says boredom.

DUNCAN: Keep it down, Maggie! They’ll hear you. The last thing I need is these sycophants turning on me!

Panel 3. Duncan is signing another book, Maggie is looking at him, she appears playful yet sarcastic as well.

MAGGIE: I could really give a shit. We’ve been here almost two hours already! I’m starving!

Panel 4. Duncan is now annoyed while saying this dialogue to Maggie. He’s gesturing with one hand to the line of fans waiting for his autograph.

DUNCAN: Listen Mag, this “shit” pays for everything, so why don’t you go outside and have a smoke, the line’s almost finished anyhow!

Panel 5. Maggie says this dialogue while getting up and kissing him on the cheek.

MAGGIE: Fine. I’ll be out front.

Page Three (Five Panels):

Panel 1. Trevor is handing a copy of the book to Duncan for a signature. Duncan is looking up at him as though he recognizes him.

DUNCAN: Do I know you?

TREVOR: Not in the sense that you’re implying… suffice it to say, I’m a big fan. I’ve never read of such a unique and interesting antagonist! The character of Trevor is simply breathtaking!

DUNCAN: Wow… um, thank you.  I don’t know if that’s exactly what I was shooting for, but thank you very much.

Panel 2. Close up of Duncan’s hand as he signs the book.

DUNCAN: He was certainly a unique villain.

Panel 3. Trevor has a somber, almost angered, look on his face while taking his book back from Duncan.

TREVOR: He’s no villain. I wish you wouldn’t have killed him off... Duncan.

Panel 4. Duncan, finding Trevor’s reaction strange, is giving him a quizzical look.

Panel 5. Close up on Trevor smiling mischievously at Duncan.

TREVOR: See you soon.

Page Four (Five Panels):
 
Panel 1. This panel is an establishing shot, outside of the bookstore on the corner, a pulled back [for a three-quarters] aerial shot. Duncan is leaving the bookstore where the signing took place, Maggie is having a cigarette with Trevor; they’re a hundred feet away from him, standing at the corner.

TREVOR: Well, I’m off!

Panel 2. Duncan is walking towards Maggie, who is waving to Trevor in the distance.

MAGGIE: It was nice meeting you!

Panel 3. Close up shot of Duncan with his hands on Maggie’s shoulders, as if he has just walked up on her.

DUNCAN: Hey sexy!

DUNCAN: The prisoner has just been released! Good behavior I suspect.

Panel 4. Duncan has his hands in his pockets and is looking at Maggie. Maggie is putting her cigarettes in her purse.

MAGGIE: Thank god! So, we can officially leave this dump?!

DUNCAN: Yep.

MAGGIE: Finally…

Panel 5. Duncan is looking in the direction that Trevor left. Maggie is still messing with her purse, zipping it closed.

DUNCAN: So, who was that?

MAGGIE: Just some guy... He bummed a smoke.

Page Five (Five Panels):

Panel 1. Duncan and Maggie are sitting in an upscale restaurant having dinner. Maggie says this dialogue to Duncan, who is staring at the bartender (FRANK) serving drinks and not paying attention to Maggie.

MAGGIE: I thought lace would be cuter for the invitations, but it seems kind of played out, don’t you think?

Panel 2. Close up on Duncan, he half-realizes she’s talking and responds.

DUNCAN: Huh? Yes, definitely.

Panel 3. Maggie is once again speaking to Duncan, who is not paying attention to her, he is looking off in another direction.

MAGGIE: So, instead I thought a semen cover would be more original.

DUNCAN: I’m sure it would.

Panel 4. Close up on Maggie, she appears frustrated as she is yelling at Duncan.

MAGGIE: You’re not listening to a word I’m saying!

Panel 5. Duncan is shocked; he’s focusing his attention back to Maggie. We see the bartender he was looking at in the background.

DUNCAN: Umm…

Page Six (Six Panels):

Panel 1. Maggie is still mildly annoyed. This shot is over Duncan’s shoulder.

MAGGIE: You’re such an asshole sometimes!

DUNCAN: I’m sorry baby. It’s just that bartender looks familiar.

Panel 2. Close up on Maggie she appears hurt by Duncan’s earlier indifference. It’s a pouty expression.

Panel 3. Shot of Duncan, he recognizes that she’s still upset and tries to make her feel better by being interested in what she’s saying.

DUNCAN: Sooo, you don’t like the lace ones?

Panel 4. Maggie continues talking to Duncan in the background, the bartender is in the foreground and we see them from over his shoulder.

MAGGIE: No I don’t… Well, actually I was thinking --

CAP: He’s smiling at me! Who the hell is that?

CAP: Oh god, it’s probably an overzealous fan.

Panel 5. Duncan is still looking at the bartender who is pouring a drink for someone.

CAP: He probably recognizes me from that ridiculous book photo.

CAP: I knew I should’ve worn sunglasses in that picture.

Panel 6. Maggie is smiling at Duncan, and waiting to hear his thoughts on the subject. Duncan looks worried because he didn’t hear anything she was saying.

MAGGIE: So? What do you think?

CAP: Oh shit.


Check back tomorrow for the second part of “The Writer’s Desk: Loosely Based,” which will feature pages seven through twelve of Nikola Jajic’s script and the final published pages of the comic book.

Loosely Based was published by Arcana Studio in 2010 and retails at $14.95.

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