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I probably should've put this in the WIP section. It's not really a short so much as possible parts of a feature all mushed together. If you do take a look, please bail if you're not into it (but tell me it sucks). This concept may not have legs at all, which is what I'm trying to figure out.
James: I gave it a read. Macro level first - some nit issues later.
First, each individual scene is expertly written. Descriptions and actions were vivid. Dialogue was great. In particular, the dialogue that entails the transformation of Emma from little girl to 17 year old. She is spot on is a girl and spot on as a burgeoning warrior. The opening is done so damn well. I could see this little imp playing her war games in the woods. It was utterly engaging.
All of the characters are so richly developed - even those with just a few lines.
My problem is that I don't like where the story is going. I may have this wrong so all of this will be a moot point if I do (let me know). So, it seems that her next task is going to be to tackle the Giant. And then after that - the next fable based monster and so on. If so, you really are going to have the same story arc over and over and that journey might become tedious. And those stories have no chance of competing against the opening one given the personal stakes (Emma avenging the death of her mother)
Long winded way of saying that if this was a short - it should end at the death of the woman/wolf. That would be a complete one, IMO. As a feature - it seems that we are going to be going on the same journey a few times and none of those subsequent journey's could possibly have the same stakes for Emma as the original one.
Not really my place, but this is how I would develop a feature around this.
* Opening - the same - except I would not quite reveal yet that Emma is visiting Grandma.
* Add scenes with Emma back at their home with Adrea. e.g.,
- Emma always wanting to do adventurous stuff (similar to the hinting game she played) and Adrea constantly throttling her back.
- The back story on Emma's father - who was he and why isn't he around (obviously Grannie would have to be the one that took him out).
- Tension on why she is not allowed to visit grandmother (Emma secretly visits her often - Adrea is not aware of this)
- Add John (now little - same as Emma) as a character - maybe a childhood playmate. This will make us more engaged with his near demise later on)
- Emma sneaks off to see Grandma again - Adrea discovers this. Goes to rescue her
- The scene with Emma at Grandma's discovering the horrors, the attempted rescue by battle Adrea, Emma's escape on horseback (i.e., just like you have it now).
- Emma's world in France (I would prefer a different local - see note later) taken in by whomever (characters to be developed - but they should be special caretakers grooming Emma for a mission). Something akin to legend has it that the evil being in the woods can only be killed by someone who shares the wolf's same blood)
- Emma developing her special battle skills, special magical weapons, for a mission that she doesn't quite know she is going to go on at the time
- Scenes with the terrorized and frightened village in the woods
- Her caretakers telling her tales of the terror in the woods (the horrible acts being committed by Grannie/Wolf
- As her caretakers send Emma off on her journey - they give her the red cape she came to them with.
- The Return of a now battle ready Emma.
- The accidental meeting up with John (John - you were the one we were told who was coming)
- The Demise of the Grannie/Wolf
The New World
- Scenes that shows Emma new's place in this old world (i.e., is she now the protectorate? Is she with John? Is there peace and tranquility?
- A Young Jack (of beanstalk fame) torned and ragged shows up on her doorstep. Tells her tales of the Giant. His horror much the same in theme as the one she experienced. She now becomes the caretaker readying him for his battle (years from now) much like the battle she fought.
Obviously - a tone of stuff could be added and a dozen different directions could be taken. The above is just one example of what a feature could look like.
I would consider a Super for time and place somewhere up front.
ADREA I forbade you visit her.
Are you missing a “to” here.
EMMA I’m not free. You won’t let me Do anything. Grannie teaches me to ride horseback.
I would go with taught since she is obviously an expert (as we later). I would also change this a bit to make it more encompassing. Something like:
EMMA I’m not free. You won’t let me Do anything. Grannie teaches me things.
ADREA Things such as --?
EMMA Horse riding. Weapons --
ADREA Your forbidden!
The hound advances to meet impossible odds.
Gets EVISCERATED by a single claw stroke.
Adrea strings a final arrow.
I got confused by this sequence – who got eviscerated? Sounds like the wolf as written – but it’s Adrea – right?
"France" - that kind of threw me. We were in this magical world and all of a sudden a real country.
Not crazy about the title. Too temporary in language for the ye olde tale you're telling. Something like The Journey of Red Riding Hood (just spit balling) would be better.
Anyway - really solid writing, James. Engaging as hell. I do think job one is to determine if this going to be a short or a feature.
Lots o’ feedback there that I can’t go into without just repeating, however, while I’m here I might as well throw in a few words.
I really got into the opening scenes, it felt like a version of ‘Brave’ or something along that line, and had a fun theatrical premise thrown in to shine up an old tale but, unfortunately, the horror element took me out of the read. I think you have a great character on the table here but, her rise to a martial arts style warrior of retribution got buried somewhere in the mix.
As mentioned, you might want to develop her (protag) in the first act, or have her meet a mentor that teaches her how to fight and control her temper in the second act. There was a similar issue in the Tomb Raider series where we instantly run into this cold hearted warrior that grates on us by dominating men and women alike… I just didn’t feel like following her journey after knowing she would kick my dick to dirt if I looked at her the wrong way. She needs a heart to carry us along with her motive, is all.
I think you could really develop this into something stellar, maybe inject a Van Helsing type operative, and throw in the comic relief sidekick who is the keeper of all the newest Vatican Secret Service weapons and espionage… OK, I’m reaching but, you seem to have a firm grasp of visuals and how to properly cue them with elaborate descriptions. It would be a shame if you just ended it where you did… best of luck.
This is indeed a mashup. Reminds me of ONCE UPON A TIME, the TV show. In that series, they use every fairy tale character imaginable and then some, which always makes for more than a few deus ex machina moments. Nothing like inserting a new character when the story lags.
This one does not suffer from deus ex machina-except for John. Why he should develop a conscience after all these years...well, who knows. So, I'm not completely buying that. And I think that mom in the beginning wouldn't just forbid her daughter to see granny. I think the warning would be far more dire, so when she meets the comely grannie, our heroine wonders what mom meant.
The writing is uniformly good. Scenes are concise, dialogue is saucy enough, although I didn't buy the 'shut up and drive' line, as I don't think they thought of themselves as drivers. But that's me.
Others have mentioned the missing second act where she gains her skills and her weapon. Without some explanation, it doesn't seem to wash. Yet, the constraints of the short format don't allow for a lot.
I think with some work, this could become a nice feature, a fantasy tale of revenge and coming of age.
Sorry, I should've been more clear. The October OWC gave me a vague idea for a short which quickly grew into something more intensive. But, I saw an opportunity to horribly mush an opening and later parts together, wrap it in duct tape, and still have something presentable for early feedback.
As Dave suggested, the battle with grannie will almost certainly be the climax of the film.
Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time. I know action/fantasy/horror is probably not your thing Dave so thanks for soldiering through.
I haven't done any story-boarding or anything like that yet. You've done more thinking than I have on the structure of this, Dave. Great stuff. I will take all this on board and probably end up incorporating a lot of it.
And, Canis, you make a great point about giving her a teacher that trains her and helps her evolve as a fighter/control her emotions. And there's probably going to be some comrades in arms she incorporates along the way. The giant would come in somewhere along their journey and turn out to be a scared, misunderstood creature. Emma bonds with him and he joins the group. So, he's actually a good guy, almost child-like, except gets very mad if people mess with Emma and hulk smashes their faces in.
I agree Emma needs to have more emotion, personality. I think part of the problem is a whole second act missing where she can be developed. I definitely don't want her to just be an emotionless killing machine. Hopefully, I'll be able to pull that off.
I feel better knowing there's at least a spark of something here. Thanks again. Lemme know if you guys want a read on anything.
Yeah, I'm not sure exactly how John will work into this. For the mushed up short version he was more of a convenience. Again, glad there's at least something here. It'll make the long journey of writing a feature slightly more bearable.
I feel better knowing there's at least a spark of something here. Thanks again. Lemme know if you guys want a read on anything.
There definitely is. My last salvo on this is to not bind yourself to Red Riding Hood per se. You already created a special world for the characters to live in. The story of a young girl coming back hardened and ready to avenge her mother's death is a great premise. But it does not have to be linked to Red Riding Hood. You can create your own monster and not be constrained by the framework of the fable. As a note, as I was reading I recognized the OWC fable vibe. But as I read more and more, to me at least, it was more closely akin to the journey of Arya Stark on Game of Thrones. That's a good thing. Just food for thought
Read 19 pages of it and going to finish it tonight. Very nice but I do have some reservations about the story. I read what Dave pointed out - mine are different, hmmm.
Anyway just a warning - expect the write up from me in today. And meanwhile a question - have you watched Once Upon A Time? If you havent you absolutely should. Youll love the first season. Maybe even the second.
Yeah, Once Upon A Time is about all those fairty tales characters, each episode featuring a story of one of them. THe concept is brilliant and many many stories are extremely clever. The opening episode is a hoot I think and the first two seasons were priceless. Then it went rapidly downhill as you can't milk a concept like that for too long - at least that's what I thought. Some of the stories could be called horror I guess, not many though - as they contain some gore. But it's surely a thriller with quite some death going around.
I read yours. I thought that the first 19 pages were just amazing. The Red is escpecially beautifull and I applaud all the writing - in fact I'm going to read the beginning of it again just to learn from you.
I don't know why Andrea wasn't hunting for Red's grandmother - she knew that the woman was a monster. And I think you should show Red sneak out while under constant Andrea surveilance. I think there should be a scene dedicated to that. Andrea watching Red really closely and Red sneaks out.
Red killing the thugs - a bit harsh and not ladylike even for her. Makes it strange later for John to feel something for her. And I know he does right after he meets her as later on he can't look her in the eye when sending an arrow down her back. ANd also he dies for her - that's hard to believe in as it happens too soon.
p9 lights seeps - typo
p19 - the series of shots - lack of tension here and I'm thinking these series of shots could be ommited. She met John - that didn't flow for me well and wasn't organic. I'm glad John has a motivation and all - otherwise I wanted to comment on it.
I loved the battle on pp28-32 but then the beast's head explodes and seems like that should be expected on the last page of the whole feature. So the way it's structured now doesn't work for me.
Oh, there's Red's story in Once Upon a Time and it's quite good. One of the SS writers called Red his favorite character.
Thanks for the notes, Khamanna! Yeah, structure-wise it's a mess but glad parts are working. Glad you liked Red as that's pretty important. I guess her straight up killing people not entirely in self-defense is jarring. Hopefully, with more of a gradual character evolution it won't seem so. I do want it to be pretty dark. But not depressingly so.
Oh, and I realize now the show you're talking about it. I was thinking of something else. I actually read the pilot for Once Upon A Time and once the kid showed up it actually got really interesting. I'll definitely give the series a go. It might spark some ideas on how to weave in multiple fairy tales. Thanks for reminding me about that!