Ashlie, these are suggestions only. Take what you will, discard whatever else you don't agree with. Just my thoughts.
I've focused on your opening 'trippy' sequence/teaser first:CASSIDY YOUNG, 25, African-American, hipster cool-nude-basks
in the sun, on her back in the middle of a field, as she
stares wide-eyed towards-
CASSIDY YOUNG, 25, African-American, hipster-cool, basks in the sunshine. She lies naked on her back, stares up at the sky.
Now describe THE SKY. It's effectively a change of shot, so leave a line break for every new shot you see in your head.
Also, she's tripping so go to town more on describing this hallucination. This is a good choice of open, something different. I just think it could be ramped up more. You want to plant visuals more in the reader's/potential director's eye.
On first read I thought you were just describing the pink and blues of a sunset or dawn where the changing colours can sometimes be quite amazing and even unnatural in colour.
I'd focus on those colours being, 'vivid' 'too bright' 'distorted', 'undulating', moving swirling clouds etc. You need to paint the picture for your audience, while being as economical as possible. Your choice of words is key.
THE SKY swirls with vivid purples and reds, clouds move fast across (Cassidy's) her eyeline.
Btw, bolding of slugs? Yep, okay, it's become a consistent trend. I don't mind it. Bolding the character's name and other miscellaneous things throughout however - there's just so much bold a page can take before it becomes distracting. Least to my eye. Sometimes less is more. Up to you.Creatures circle
Too vague. What creatures are these? You're leaving it all up to the director here.
Example/suggestion: Images appear in the clouds, a pink elephant, a poodle, a monkey. They appear, then disappear in an instant. Cassidy smiles, squints up at the sky.
Plus, with what follows with the griffin if you set it up as harmless, comical even, the danger element with the griffin will carry much more weight. Contrast this 'lulling into a false sense of security' of the lovely rainbow scenes and images, then wham! Her next hallucination is scary, threatening, the manifestation of her real fears.
With the griffin, you need a new line. It's a new shot.
A griffin begins to
Be aware of, and avoid, 'begins to' 'starts to' 'about to'
- see below example - just write what you see, what you want us to see in that instant.A griffin swoops down, zeros in on Cassidy.just as it's about to devour her whole it dissipates into a
fluster of butterflies.
I quite like, but also wonder if a 'fluster of butterflies' is effective. The collective noun is a 'kaleidoscope' btw. But bear in mind an emotive description is often better than using an adjective that just states a fact.
And a continuation of the previous visual morphing into yet another image is key imh.
What are we actually seeing on screen with the griffin 'about to devour her whole'? I know this seems obvious to you, but you need to paint the picture more. Is her head in its gaping jaws, are claws or talons involved ? It's an hallucination but what exactly do you want to see depicted on screen.
It's an important visual which could do with some elucidating.
Make it clear then we're seeing one image (the griffin) morph into another (hundreds of white butterflies). You do this. But, it could be given more impact.
Those butterflies, (white would be nice cause they too can morph into white bunny: Dep Fuzz. You go from vivid colours and harmless, to threatening, then to the white of the butterflies which further morph into the white of Dep Fuzz. So, you also establish a visual theme.
If you want to an example of economical writing with brilliant evocative visuals you should type Matias Caruso into the search bar of SS. He's gone on to much success. Has a way with the words and he's of NESB which sometimes I feel adds to his choice of words and visuals. It's inspiring.CASSIDY
Starts to blink wildly.Cassidy blinks wildly.
& What I mentioned above: no need for the 'starts to'.
Startled Cassidy shoots up (considering the drug reference, I'm not sure about 'shoots up' but I get it. She could alternatively jump to her feet? or: Cassidy sits upright. Cassidy sits up suddenly.Startled, Cassidy shoots up
(the comma is needed after 'startled', regardless).and turns to see
Script writing often reads faster, more action packed if you delete 'and' and 'is'
and just insert a comma. I'm not saying you never can btw...
Fragments are perfectly acceptable in script writing. Just make sure the 'subject' is included in the line if it's at all ambiguous.
I reiterate what Dave said about DEPUTY FUZZ
Delete the period.
Also: instead of introducing DEP FUZZ as a character as you have done here:
MAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
I suggest you do it this way:
DEPUTY FUZZ (O.S.)
(friendly male voice)
I concur with Dave re Cassidy's naked body when it morphs into fully clothed.
Same goes here:Abandoned makeshift homes...'
Her environment/the setting suddenly changes, so ditto there. Write it on a new line. We get Cassidy's look, we see she's now clothed, and then (imagine) the camera changes POV with regard to her surroundings.
In the blink of an eye everything has changed. Of course you could do it the other way around - show the vivid green meadow morph into the slum area - nice visual easily achieved with camera effects, then go to Cassidy's actual change in appearance/different clothing. Either way the fact she's tripping is ripe for dramatic visual effects. All great adventures
must end either with death or
Ooh, really nice line. Oh my God.
Personally I'd delete (this) Dep Fuzz's preamble line.I think it's
the user who is bad not the
'I think it's often the user...'? to make it less definitive of all drug users.inappropriately cuddles him
- Okay, I'm really not sure what you mean by 'inappropriate' here.that-
Insert space prior to the en-dash tries to lick him.
Either she does lick him or she doesn't - unless he whips his head around to stop her, or bite her, in which case yes, then she tried. Get it?DEPUTY FUZZ (CONT’D)
Turn off MORE'S AND CONT'Ds in your software. Some people keep them, however imh, it's a cleaner read without them. Of course they're needed where dialogue/action continues over the page.(beat) (pause)
however you choose to write it
I'm not absolutely against them where I think they suffice. Just make sure you don't use the 'beat' in place of action which we therefore would not see otherwise. For example, if during that 'beat' a character was eyeballing the other furiously, that would be a stronger action than just as a pause. You can leave some stuff up to the actor/director, sure. If you want to leave it to the imagination and context of the scene, similarly that's your choice. Just don't use them too much.She pulls out a small mirror
and a lipstick-Blue lipstick-and puts in on.
Suggestion: She pulls out (retrieves) a small compact, applies electric-blue lipstick. Smacks her lips together. laying in the grass.
should be lying
on the grass, despite all the lyrics you've listened to. (Lie as opposed to Lay Down Sally) doesn't have quite the same ring, does it? But it isn't grammatically correct. Neither does Snow Patrol 'would you lay here...' well, actually they get it right in the chorus I think. Pet peeve of mine, I'll shut up and direct you to this link below:http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/lay-versus-lie
Not sure what I'm looking at here? Is it just text from no-one in particular?
I think I get it on the one hand... but is it communication from somebody Cassidy knows, is it a countdown? Apparently I don't get it as much as I thought.
in bold is overkill and kinda annoying to me, but you do what you want obviously.Fuzz heads into the woods
In yellow what, exactly?dressed in yellow
(what are they dressed in, a similar garment like orange-people who wear robes?)
(to the People)
(to the people)
All parentheticals are usually in lower case. This may be a typo... They pass her by.
(too static imh)
Verb choice can add a lot to the visual. Use verbs that pop.She stops dead in her steps.
She stops dead in her tracks.Deputy Fuzz is now next to her instead of ahead.
Make this more active.
Deputy Fuzz crouches stock still up ahead. Cassidy catches/rushes up to him.
Or similar.The two watch in silence as the people run over the edge of a
Edge of the mountain? Suggestion: The two watch in awe as the yellow people run to the edge of a cliff-face, disappear over the other side.
Or: ... drop over the other side. Now that's some visual.
Depends on what you actually want the audience to see at this point and what directions/alternative visual choices you are inherently giving your director. Reminded me of those zombies in World War Z. Though you wouldn't have a cast of thousands.So, are we running towards it or
away from it?
I'd ramp up the tension here. Make it more active. As if it's not just metaphorical but that what we're seeing is an active choice to be made.Do we follow them, or not?
Make it dramatic. Combine and infuse her 'trip' with reality.Running is the obvious answer; it's
hardly the solution.
Get rid of the semi-colon. They're really not needed in screenplays.
Suggestion: Running away is hardly ever a solution, is it?
or: Running away is never a solution, now is it?Running away is not an option.Cassidy appears again right where she started.
Okay, what's happened here? Are we out in the open or still in the woods? Okay, we're in the woods along a trail...
Suggestion: Cassidy bolts through the woods, branches whip and scratch her face... (give us the atmosphere you visualise)
Then further on, suggestion: Cassidy appears in the clearing, by the fork in the path. Exactly where she started.
She puts her hands on her hips, winded, defeated.How long do you really think you can go
on like this? Everybody has
their limits Cassidy-even you.
Delete the dash imh. And delete the first sentence imh. (see below)
their limits Cassidy, even you.
Sometimes less is more provides more impact.
Says me, of course. I'm a classic over-writer.
You could even make more impact by splitting it in two sentences. No dash, no comma.
Play around with it.You can try to outrun the monster
but you've already lost.
(Notions to the correct
This is about facing your demons or running away, right? Escaping reality through the next high, being in a loop.
'Retreat' sounds like giving up in this context so I'd think more on that line if I were you. About what the actual message Dep Fuzz is giving her.
This piece of dialogue just appears to me to need some more rhythm.
Suggestion:You can keep running, Cassidy. /Keep trying to outrun the monster...
Or you can face things head onand I think we both
know you're too self-involved to
Start a new sentence for more impact:
So, my first thought was: You and I both know you're way too
self-absorbed/egotistical to kill yourself.
But then I thought 'Self-involved' is a little bit too close to introspection which is usually how people are when they're depressed.
Perhaps you should use a word like 'vain' or 'egotistical' i.e., she's way too fond of life and way too attracted to the opposite sex to ever want to give up on life. Get me?Just admit you're
(Alt suggestion) No shame in admitting you're scared.You're right...I'm a fighter...I
got spark and shit...I got this.
She's determined here, revving herself up. Not sure I'd personally go for all the tapering off ellipses here which really give a slower more contemplative rhythm.You're right. I'm a fighter... I got spark and shit.
I got this!
Just clarifying too. Is Cassidy saying:
I got spark and shit
I got spark (revelation comes)
Shit... I got this!
I love the final lines of the teaser:I'm gonna be Ok right?
I'm gonna be OK, right?
I'm gonna be okay, right?
You need that comma for the pause and emphasis of her question, regardless of how you write 'okay'..
Dep Fuzz's response is priceless:
Ha! Great line.
Perhaps include an accompanying visual to go out on with Dep Fuzz. He's an animated rabbit, right? What's he doing in this moment, licking his paws without a care in the world? Staring at some other female bunny in the distance? Making a dubious face. What? His reaction face is needed imh.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
This new scene needs a stabilizer. It can't be a continuous scene, surely. New scene, new day/following week? I dunno. I do know it's abrupt. The time jump needs some establishing, even if just the sun rising, Cassidy brushing herself off, rubbing her eyes to indicate she's been up all night, if in fact it is a continuation of the previous day/night, or if it's something else.
Okay, I know I've mentioned a lot of formatting re your opening and not focused on story too much yet. I'll read through the rest and try not to dissect everything and really just give my view on story then, ok?
I do think the opening with Cassidy tripping is a novel idea. I'd just infuse it with a bit more.