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Wichita Lineman

Posted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:46 pm
by Trey of Diamonds
As everyone knows, the best way to get better at writing is to practice. Fortunately there are a lot of spots on the internet to practice script writing and most have some form of exercise program. Sometimes its daily, sometimes weekly, structured or freeform, but always with the idea to spark creativity.

Here is a script I wrote for a comic site called PencilJack. The exercise was to write something based on the lyrics of a song.

Wichita Lineman
By Trey Wickwire
Writing exercise for PencilJack

Wichita Lineman was written by Jimmy Webb for Glen Campbell in 1968.


Close up on an astronaut working on a piece of equipment. He should have a very fancy spacesuit designed for maximum dexterity in a construction environment. This is the lineman and he is working on a junction box somewhere on an elevator into space. He should have some tools and be using one on a part of the box. Possibly show the cables that the elevator uses to go up and down the line.

Note: The first caption box of each page is a line from the song Wichita Lineman and the second is the thoughts of the lineman.

CAPTION: I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road.

CAPTION (Thought): Ahh, here’s the problem. Prevex lock is too tight. Must’ve been that rookie they sent out last week. They’re pushing ‘em through trainin way to fast these days. If they aren’t careful the next batch won’t know how to pee in a vacuum and end up with a golden shower they’ll never forget. And that’s if their lucky, theres other mistakes that’ll end them up dead.

Further away and we can see more of the elevator lines and the sun in the distance. The sun should be shining off of the spacesuits helmet.

CAPTION: Searchin' in the sun for another overload.

CAPTION (Thought): Damn glare. Wish that rookie had screwed up on the shade side of the line. Of course it is probably the glare that made him careless in the first place. Amazing what no atmosphere really means. When you have to work in the real sunlight.


In the bottom left of the panel we have a close up of the lineman’s face, the rest of the panel is a view of Amanda, his wife back on earth. It should be a pleasant scene, maybe Amanda sitting in a patch of grass or wildflowers. Real mushy stuff.

CAPTION: I hear you singin' in the wire, I can hear you through the whine.

CAPTION (Thought): I wonder what Amanda is doing now. It’s a long way down the elevator but I know she’s there. I can feel her there, waitin.

Flashback panel with the lineman leaving for his job and Amanda crying as he goes. This one should have a lot of emotion in it. The lineman is determined to do his duty for his family even though he would rather be at home and his wife is scared for his safety in space.

CAPTION: And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

CAPTION (Thought): She didn’t want me to take this job but who can spit on that kind of money. Maybe this will be the last gig and I can hang up my suit. Me and Amanda can settle back in Wichita, watch the kids grow.


Long shot of the elevator coming up from the planet with a real nasty solar storm in the distance.

CAPTION: I know I need a small vacation but it don't look like rain.

CAPTION (Thought): Been three months since I was dirt side and I’m due a trip home but the line boss said a solar storm was brewing.

Close up on part of the elevator line as the storm comes through. Show parts of the line getting damaged, maybe broken cables or a junction box exploding.

CAPTION: And if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain.

CAPTION (Thought): Says he needs the most experienced crew up here to help the newbies. Damn right he does if this is the kind of crap their putting out.


Back to Amanda, crying. She is either on a phone or looking at a video phone as the lineman tells her he can’t come home yet.

CAPTION: And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.

CAPTION (Thought): It’s gonna break Amanda’s heart when I tell her. She was really looking forward to me getting home.

Close up of the lineman working on the damaged part of the elevator line from the previous page.

CAPTION: And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

CAPTION (Thought): She deserves better’n me. Don’t know why she sticks around but I’m damn glad she does. Wouldn’t be much reason to walk in gravity if she wasn’t there to walk with.


The lineman is inspecting his work. He should have a look of pride from a job well done. The repairs he has made should be dominate.

CAPTION: And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.

CAPTION (Thought): There, all done. Time to head in for a beer and call Amanda.

The lineman is in a bar, drinking a beer, but he has a sad look on his face. Above his head and off to the side is an image of Amanda, smiling, the way he likes to remember her.

CAPTION: And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

CAPTION (Thought): Yeah, a nice cold brew after a hard days work. Nothin better. Well, nothin cept Amanda.

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 3:30 pm
by Poisonbabyfood
Great story. I love SF that's able to keep sight of the problems people face, have always and will always faced, instead of getting lost in impersonal babble about technology and space travel.

The future, with its big, fancy ships and space stations, still has people who have to build the damn things. Workers just like those that build aircraft carriers today or toiled on the transcontinental railroad in the 1870s. Your character is working on technology that we romantically dream of, but all he wants to do is get home to his wife.

I think the stories that really speak to the reader or viewer - love, loss, hate, triumph - are the same, regardless of if they're set in 14th century Denmark, present day, the disatant future or a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:37 pm
by Trey of Diamonds
Thanks buddy, I really appreciate that. Sci-Fi should really just be backdrop of the story, not the story itself. The best stories are drama wrapped in Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror trappings.

Glad you liked it,