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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short  ›  The Neighbor Moderators: bert
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SimplyScripts
Posted: April 21st, 2011, 11:31pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Neighbor by Zack Akers - Short, Horror - After his apology for accidentally killing the neighbors dog isn't accepted, Nick goes a little crazy. 10 pages - pdf, format


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DarrenJamesSeeley
Posted: April 22nd, 2011, 9:56am Report to Moderator
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Zack, I'm not quite sure why you feel the need to bold some actions in CAPS
Quoted Text
"Melinda closes the van door, turns, and walks
STRAIGHT INTO SOMEBODY!

Melinda drops her cellphone and clutches her chest as she
lets a surprised SCREAM slip out.


I also noted bolding of location headers (a "in" thing with some folks, I know.) and character slugs. You don't need to do that, and I would advise against it. But if nothing else, bolding of CAPPED actions and the false jump scare sticks out, and not for the better. Once there was a time when it was okay to CAP sounds. It's still legal, but rarely done anymore. But even back then, the writers didn't bold the cao sounds. They also didn't bold and cap the 'jump' moment in horrors and thrillers.

Also having INT's for sub locations inside one building isn't needed. The locations are within one general INT location.

Turn off your continued headers and footers. Less clutter.


Quoted Text
Melinda goes to walk around Nick again, but again he blocks
her way.


It reads awkward (repitition of 'again' and words repeated from the previous action but if you go back and read what happens before this, this line might not be needed.If you disagree and want to keep it, ,use different words than the previous action and drop both agains. (Also see "The door is kicked open." p7)

Watch out for the lack of  FADE IN left justified, and FADE OUT or FADE TO BLACK is fine, but not FADE TO (right justified) BLACK (right justified).

The story is bare bones simple; Nick is a psychopath who in a backstory killed his neighbor's dog, then targeted her daughter. Then he goes to kill the neighbor within a short time span. It doesn't quite work for me. It might work better if Nick wasn't being a bully-creep. I'd much rather have him act more neighbor like, because when he blocks Melinda in those early scenes his pleads of remorse don't ring true. His loud claim of the dog being in his driveway should not be more subdued.

When Nick goes into his house, the 'discovery' has a little more impact. Oddly, something's missing. I want to see something if I'm seeing a blood soaked bedroom. I want Nick to pass by or go into either a laundry room where he removes an article of clothing that he concealed while talking to Melinda (socks, for example) or the bathroom where he washes his hands a little vetter or we see blood on a towel or something. Why do I want that?

After his talk with Sara's mother he goes into his house, to the bedroom and it's blood everywhere. Yet it seems none had gotten on him.

This piece could be worked up as more thriller than horror, with a bit of TLC and some suspense it make a nice little short for what it is.

-DjS


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Zack
Posted: April 22nd, 2011, 10:49am Report to Moderator
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Original? Ha... I'll settle for stylish.

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Thanks for reading Darren, sorry you didn't enjoy it.

As for the formatting issues you have, that's just the way I write. My format is the one thing I am constantly complimented on. I know I don't write exactly by the book, but I don't really break any rules either. Sorry my use of bold and caps annoyed you.

I like you idea of Nick just walking by the bloody room at first. And in the original draft I wrote Nick was completely normal... until he stepped into his room of course. Maybe I should go back to that and take his creepiness down a notch.

As for the blood being everywhere and not being on Nick... I should have specified that the blood is dried.

Thanks for reading and I will be doing a rewrite of this.

~Zack~


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dogglebe
Posted: April 22nd, 2011, 2:53pm Report to Moderator
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Zack, I'll give you credit on writing a tight script with good visuals, but your story fell extremely flat for me.  It was just a quick exercise in gore and terror.  The characters were two dimensional and shallow; I couldn't tell you anything about them except that he's a killer and she's being chased by him.


SPOILER SPACE:


When Melinda retrieves his pistol, and approaches her, why does she put the gun behind her back?  Why hide it?


END SPOILER SPACE.



Hope this helps.


Phil


The Devil's Jokebook  
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rc1107
Posted: April 22nd, 2011, 3:22pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Zack,

It's been awhile since I've read anything of yours, so I thought I'd check this out.

Of course, I went into it knowing that it was going to be a slasher type of story, (you can't really expect much else when you have 'splatter' in your e-mail address,    ),  so I didn't really expect any great character arcs or huge dynamics in plot points and just accepted it for what it was.

For a slasher film, this was okay.  I think it was kind of regular as horror stories go.  There really wasn't too much that stuck out for me and nothing going on to keep me guessing at anything.  (It even seemed really predictable to me for some reason that she was going to kill him.)  Just a straight up get 'em in, show 'em some gore and get 'em out kind of story.

I'm not saying that I didn't like it, but it was just average all across the boards.  So, depending on what your intentions for for writing this one, I guess that can be either good or bad.  It was good if you wanted to 'get 'em in, give 'em something to look at, get 'em out', but I don't think it'll succeed in blowing anybody away.

As for the formatting, I'm part of the 'bold header' movement that everybody seems to be talking about.  I like the break between scenes it represents.  Keeps the reader aware.  I also like bolding when showing text on screen.  However, I think the bolding of your character slugs and certain miscellaneous nondescript actions got to be too much and muddled your story up more than it should have.

So, my final thoughts are that it was a pretty average story.  Nothing too memorable or remarkable going on.  Like I said, depending on why you wrote it, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

- Mark


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Zack
Posted: April 22nd, 2011, 5:35pm Report to Moderator
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Original? Ha... I'll settle for stylish.

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Thanks for reading guys, glad neither of you hated it. Yeah I agree I can add some more depth to the story and characters. I will try to flesh them out with a rewrite.

Phil, about why she hides the gun... I honestly don't know. It doesn't make much sense and I will be sure to change it.

Mark, I've been using bold in my scripts for a while now and it really helps me visualize my script... if that makes sense. lol

Thanks again for the reads. I really need to read some scripts. I've got 3 new scripts up and I haven't read anyone's work... Well. I got  all weekend so I will start reading now. Any suggestions guys?

~Zack~



Revision History (1 edits)
Zack  -  April 26th, 2011, 4:39pm
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dkfrizzell
Posted: April 23rd, 2011, 12:11am Report to Moderator
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Good writing here... The story moved along well enough, but I thought the ending a bit cliche.  Not sure what the best way to wrap it up is, but it seems a waste of a perfectly good sociopath.

Also, I think the dog killer would be more likable as a goody-two shoes.  Overtly concerned about the missing neighbor and remorseful about the dog.  A nice guy  would also contrast better with the bitchy neighbor.  He takes the tongue lashing from Melinda, tells her he will be sure to come by if he hears from poor Sara,  then goes home to admire his handy-work.

Overall, I think it needs just a little more story and character to go along with your good writing and dialog.


"You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons." - Blazing Saddles - Jim AKA The Waco Kid


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Dreamscale
Posted: April 23rd, 2011, 4:55am Report to Moderator
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Zack, my friend...listen, man...

You know I like you and want to help.  I'm literally shocked that anyone would say the writing here is good. It's not. In fact, it's quite terrible.  Literally, every mistake in the book is thrown out here.  I'm not even going to go into detail cause it's so obvious and full on display.

You name it, it's here.  No characterization whatsoever.  No story, no anything.  This is just a classic example of someone throwing some s*** up here, and it's just p*ss poor, dude.

You're such a better writer than this drivel.  I literally don't get it.  Why do you continue to do this?

C'mon, man...no more!!  I'm pissed!!!!


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Electric Dreamer
Posted: April 23rd, 2011, 10:05am Report to Moderator
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Hey Zack,

I have similar issues with this script that irked me about The Webster Family.
The thinnest of overused set ups to get people killing each other.
I find myself a distant observer with no way to get invested in your material.
If Nick were apologetic about the whole affair, that's a good start.
Perhaps turn it creepy nice, when he shows up on the door step with a new puppy.
The duality of a cute puppy in a domestic horror scenario is squirmy.
Something. Anything to escape the by the numbers set up you've got here.

Hope this helps.
Keep writing and rewriting!

Regards,
E.D.


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Zack
Posted: April 26th, 2011, 4:37pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for reading guys. Sorry this doesn't seem to be clicking with anyone. Guess I'm kinda in a rut or something.

Jeff... I guess it's a bit bare bones and simple, but is it really terrible? What's wrong with the writing? You said I did nothing right, but I think I told a short and simple stalker tale fairly well. But hey, it's your opinion and I respect it. Thanks for the read.

E.D., I love your idea about Nick showing up with a puppy! That's awesome. Thanks man.

dkfriz, thanks for reading and I'm happy you didn't hate it. I will try to flesh it out a bit with future rewrites.

~Zack~


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Electric Dreamer
Posted: April 26th, 2011, 5:29pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Zack

E.D., I love your idea about Nick showing up with a puppy! That's awesome. Thanks man.

Happy Kwanzaa

E.D.


LATEST NEWS

Clone Wife
- Rom/Com - 105 pgs.

Is optioned by Destiny Pictures!

A list of my scripts can be found here.
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 26th, 2011, 6:50pm Report to Moderator
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Zack, it's a number of things going on.

The writing isn't good. As I said, every mistake in the book is on display here...

Tons of orphans.

Overwriting of mundane, meaningless action.

Totally cliche story, setup, plot that goes nowhere.

Paper thin characters with no life and no motivation to do anything.  No one we can root for or care about, really.

Awkward action writing, filled with overly detailed writing, and goofy gore (at the end, with the final shot striking him directly in the eye).

You have those worthless "CONTINUED's" on the top and bottom of every page.

Bolded sounds and actions, as well as use of exclamation marks for not reason.

A few asides.

Repetitive writing, repetitive action.

Maybe it's just that I expect so much more of you and know you can do better...even with a cliche, mundane story.  Nothing pops here, nothing is remotely memorable.

You've got an 8 page script here, but in reality, it shouldn't be more than 5 or 6.  No one wants to watch someone talk on a cell phone over and over for no reason.

The stuff with Nick and dead Sarah on Page 3 and 4 is the highlight here, but there's not much of it and no reason why Nick would all of a sudden do this.  How does Nick, in his early 20's own a house in a neighborhood like this, populated with families in their 50's with kids?

I just don't buy any of it and that's probably why I was harsh and overly picky.  I do mean for this to help you though and hopefully you break out of that writer's slump.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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greg
Posted: April 26th, 2011, 7:09pm Report to Moderator
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Zack,

Good logline but execution could use some work.  Actually I think the logline is great.  There's so many ways you can go with that.  What I got from the story was a very "safe" feeling with lots of routine things going on.  Melinda was cardboard, the cell phone calls were meh, and the general atmosphere was more deadpan than it should have been.  But there was some notable stuff here too such as Nick's interaction with Sara's corpse - creepy.  That and I think Nick is a promising character.   You ever see the Burbs with Tom Hanks?  Nick reminded me of Hans, the kinda quiet creepy guy who winds up being a total nutjob.  Honestly though I couldn't figure out if he was supposed to be creepily funny or creepily scary...cause I thought he was funny but I'm not sure that was your intention. I think by using "Nick goes a little crazy" in the logline you have an opening for some bizarre dark humor which is what I got from him but would have liked more...if that's the route you choose to go.

It read fast but could use more.  Hope that helps.

Greg


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Zack
Posted: April 26th, 2011, 8:41pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for reading Greg. Very excited that you think it has some potential.   I will try to add some more to characters and try to "beef" this up a bit.

Jeff, please don't get me wrong. I really appreciate and respect your opinions. I even agree with you on a lot them, especially my repetitive writing. I'm simply not good with details and am ofter overly simple with my descriptions. So I always try to stretch out the details in order to lengthen the overall script a couple of pages. I know that's a no-no. So let me ask... are extremely basic and simple descriptions better than long repetitive ones? If so I think I can adapt and fix my writing.

~Zack~


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dogglebe
Posted: April 26th, 2011, 8:54pm Report to Moderator
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I don't know what Jeff is talking about, Zack.  I think the writing, itself, is good.  You just need to work on the story and characters.


Phil


The Devil's Jokebook  
An ancient relic disappears.  And Heaven and Hell will fight to get it back.


Finalist, Shriekfest Horror Film Festival screenplay competition.
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