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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Hell to Pay Moderators: bert
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  Author    Hell to Pay  (currently 2277 views)
Don
Posted: June 2nd, 2016, 2:43pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Hell to Pay (was Hell) by Tim Coulter and Michael Balendra - Thriller - A crooked homicide detective is murdered by the serial killer of a case he's been working. The detective finds himself inside his own hell, occupying the bodies of past victims whilst attempting to solve the mystery of the killer's identity and righting his wrong-doings. It all goes horribly wrong, and things do not end well. 95 pages

synopsis - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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-------------
You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  July 27th, 2017, 3:15pm
revised draft and added synopsis
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Nathan Hill
Posted: June 3rd, 2016, 8:40am Report to Moderator
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Gave this a read to page 10, formatting is good, your action lines idk why but they feel a bit long, try seperating them with a space to make the reading flow a little better, perhaps thats just me being picky.

The dialogue to me felt a little over the top and cheesy,like a 70s detective show and I'd much rather have more realistic dialogue and exchanges than that have cheese such as 'The Acid Killer'.


Quoted Text
to come and meet her here as she had some
information that could put an end to these
killings.


This here to me seems a little cheesy. Other than that the story seems interesting and the log line backs that up, the concept is unique. However so far, up to page 10 the dialogue is a little off but the formatting is good however one last thing...

The pace seems a little rushed as of now, there's no real introduction we're thrown uneasily head first into the murders and such, try making your intro interesting without being too full on.

Hope this helps, keep it up!
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TimC
Posted: June 7th, 2016, 5:41am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Nathan Hill
Gave this a read to page 10, formatting is good, your action lines idk why but they feel a bit long, try seperating them with a space to make the reading flow a little better, perhaps thats just me being picky.

The dialogue to me felt a little over the top and cheesy,like a 70s detective show and I'd much rather have more realistic dialogue and exchanges than that have cheese such as 'The Acid Killer'.



This here to me seems a little cheesy. Other than that the story seems interesting and the log line backs that up, the concept is unique. However so far, up to page 10 the dialogue is a little off but the formatting is good however one last thing...

The pace seems a little rushed as of now, there's no real introduction we're thrown uneasily head first into the murders and such, try making your intro interesting without being too full on.

Hope this helps, keep it up!


Thanks so much Nathan for taking the time to read the first few pages.

What you say all makes sense, and I agree 'the Acid Killer' has more cheese than a cheese lovers pizza (much like that statement).

To be honest, this is my first screenplay and all I really wanted to do was put enough flesh around a story that Mike and I both thought was original, captivating and highly complex. I did this in the hope that someone could see the story for what it was worth without getting too caught up in simple and cliched dialogue as you've so rightly spotted after reading just 10 pages. In addition, as the story is so complex, we wanted to keep the dialogue simple so as not to detract from the twists and turns the reader (and hopefully) audience will be exposed to.

I'd love for you to keep reading, as the story seems a tad unoriginal until about page 40 when Mike West first enters Hell.

Anyway, thanks again so much for taking the time to read and provide some great constructive feedback. I'm most grateful.

Tim.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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Nathan Hill
Posted: June 7th, 2016, 4:39pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Tim, read up to page 60. The dialogue seemed well written when Ryker and West had their personal interactions.

SPOILERS







I really enjoyed the twist etc. It's fairly unique this being a detective who enters the murder victim's bodies to uncover clues. I sort of saw it coming (in a way). I knew by the fact that the murders had no rhyme or reason that the murderer would be a vigilante of the sorts but I was surprised by the paedophile ring, definitely a shock. The twists will be a shock to most modern  audiences so well done.

The dialogue felt a little cheesy still in places but hey, the story is enough to reel me in, I'll read these last 20 or so pages and give you my opinion of the ending. The characters are likeable, the story moves at a good pace now and it keeps delivering on the twists. GOOD WORK.
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Nathan Hill
Posted: June 7th, 2016, 4:53pm Report to Moderator
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SPOILERS












WOW. That revelation caught me off guard. I didn't, for a minute expect Det. West to be such a dirty bastard. However, there's a big flaw with this. I do believe West being the man he is would never tell the priest such things, even if it was to repent his sins.

I liked this script though, it builds tension and is very psychological which I enjoyed. The ending is hectic but in a good way so I enjoyed it and the revelation truly shocked me.

Well done on this. Needs tweaking in areas but it was a great story, title might need a rework though, it's a bit generic.

I think you should get more involved in the site, review some shorts, some feautures and people will surely return the favour. Anyway best of luck for the future.

If I had to rate it overall, I'd give a solid 7/10 for a good story with good twists just some dialogue needs de-cheesying (yes I made that word up). And the title needs a rework plus I feel like the whole West confession isn't really plausible but it's just sort of there so ey.

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TimC
Posted: June 7th, 2016, 10:06pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Nathan Hill
SPOILERS

If I had to rate it overall, I'd give a solid 7/10 for a good story with good twists



Thanks again Nathan for taking the time to read the whole thing. You're feedback is great and we'll consider how to tighten in areas as you've suggested, although being honest, the title is one thing we're wedded to so highly unlikely that will change.

Am very new to this site, so have every intention of reading other work and becoming more active.

Tim.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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NW3
Posted: June 9th, 2016, 11:23am Report to Moderator
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Hello Tim (and Mike),

Good words from Nathan there, I think he liked HELL more than me. It's not bad for a first screenplay, although I read more than I wanted before it took shape from the logline. If you believe things don't get interesting until page 40 you should get to what happens there sooner. One way is to trim description and leave out unnecessary scenes. There are many of those, and it was difficult to follow the TITLE inserts as they related to repeated scenes.

Dialogue margins are running to the right and the PDF has (MORE) and (CONT’D) sometimes in the middle of the page, so something is off. Much of the dialogue is too long in any case. From the opening lines:

Quoted from hell_screenplay_final.pdf
                      DET. WEST
            Are you sure she has some information on the
            killings?

                      DET. RYKER
            No, I’m not sure because we haven’t interviewed
            her yet, but that’s what she said on the phone.
            She seemed to know a bit about the case. She said
            to come and meet her here as she had some
            information that could put an end to these
            killings. If some random calls me and tells me
            this with the level of detail they did, then why
            the fuck wouldn’t I believe them?



It needs (at most):


                      WEST
            You sure she has information?

                      RYKER
            She seemed to know about the
            killings with some level of detail.



Perhaps you're going for a PULP FICTION vibe here but there's no need for them to ponder the apartment number, go straight to the knock and the scream. I say this having read the whole script and I get the significance of the scene. The search of the apartment and chasing the figure runs over several pages when it could be done in one. That entire sequence is related again at the end, at least have a different perspective the second time.

I didn't find the story complex but some things could be clearer. You might change the character name Det. West to West, and keep this throughout - not JAMES (DET. WEST) or VICTOR (DET. WEST) - and his wife from Sally West to Sally. It sounds strange when, for example:

Quoted from hell_screenplay_final.pdf

  Det. West leans across the table and kisses Sally West
  tenderly on the mouth.


These are husband and wife. Since there are only the two of them in the scene, you could have "He leans across and kisses her" or just "They kiss." You don't need the whole sentence because the table is already described, and tenderness and mouth are implied. This example stands for the entire script - describe only what you need, keep descriptions brief and it makes a better read. Shortened dialogue will sound more natural: "He is a stray lamb, that has wondered too far away from the flock" becomes "A stray lamb, wandered from the flock" or just "A stray lamb."

For the story, you state in the logline that the homicide detective is crooked yet don't show it until near the end. Whose wrong-doings is he intent on righting, his own or the killers? There is no logic or reason for why West transfers consciousness to the murder victims. It's not Quantum Leap. I don't know what is achieved by having West occupy the victim's bodies when "attempting to solve the mystery" involved mostly searching drawers. You should have West use the knowledge he has to make actions that affect the crimes or change the outcome as they happen. There are glimpses of a good idea, scenes reminded me of SE7EN and JACOB'S LADDER but it needs to be a lot smarter. I didn't understand what was supposed to be happening when West became the first victim attending the mansion, I thought because of the logline it was some kind of purgatory (room 101). He doesn't rescue the young boy and James dies anyway for his sins. It seemed that the idea is the victims deserved to be killed. The killer is a psychopath. The ending made no sense.

It needs an early hook. I suggest you take the dramatic scene from page 40 and open on that, with the important reveal left for when the scene is revisited:


  FADE IN:

  INT. OFFICE BUILDING - MEN'S BATHROOM - DAY

  An EXECUTIVE splashes water on his face and stares into a
  mirror. His reflection shows a look of disbelief.

                      EXECUTIVE
            What the hell?

                                                    FADE OUT.

  FADE IN:
    
  INT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWAY - NIGHT

  Elevator doors open and detectives MIKE WEST and JOHN RYKER
  step out.

                      WEST
            You sure she has information?

  [...]



I wouldn't think you expect a producer to read your script and want to make it just the way it is, so if you expect changes need to be made there is a lot you can work with. Others will have their own ideas. Well done so far.

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TimC
Posted: June 10th, 2016, 7:33pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from NW3
Hello Tim (and Mike),

Good words from Nathan there, I think he liked HELL more than me. It's not bad for a first screenplay, although I read more than I wanted before it took shape from the logline. If you believe things don't get interesting until page 40 you should get to what happens there sooner. One way is to trim description and leave out unnecessary scenes. There are many of those, and it was difficult to follow the TITLE inserts as they related to repeated scenes.



Hi NW3,

thanks for reading and providing such detailed feedback. I agree with you on some of the points you raised with overly long descriptors and some formatting issues. I'll aim to address this in a new version of the screenplay.


Quoted from NW3

I don't know what is achieved by having West occupy the victim's bodies when "attempting to solve the mystery" involved mostly searching drawers. You should have West use the knowledge he has to make actions that affect the crimes or change the outcome as they happen. There are glimpses of a good idea, scenes reminded me of SE7EN and JACOB'S LADDER but it needs to be a lot smarter. I didn't understand what was supposed to be happening when West became the first victim attending the mansion, I thought because of the logline it was some kind of purgatory (room 101). He doesn't rescue the young boy and James dies anyway for his sins. It seemed that the idea is the victims deserved to be killed. The killer is a psychopath. The ending made no sense.


With regard to feedback on the actual story, not sure what happened in your reading of this, but West is actually in Hell post his initial death.

We wanted to challenge the clichés of hell being all fire, brimstone and demons, and therefore have made hell just an environment of suffering, in which the protagonist has no control over his outcomes. In our version of Hell, West is trapped in the bodies of the victims as we (he) knows their fate; i.e. brutally tortured and murdered. West and the audience learning the victims were themselves total bastards is just there to give motive for the murders.

The ending further represents this as he’s responsible for murdering his own wife and unborn child.

Room 101 was simply a reference to Orwell’s incredible 1984.

I’m very thankful of you reading this and providing the feedback.

Tim.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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NW3
Posted: June 11th, 2016, 8:53am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from TimC
West is actually in Hell post his initial death.


That is what I thought (purgatory) but aside from writing like really cool torture scenes involving maximum pain to the victims who probably really deserve it and shit, the three murders have no significance for West, it's his job. What you are saying is, his version of Hell is to experience painful death, over and over. But why, and why these in particular? There is no story and I'm puzzled.

I'm not going to read it again to see what it was I missed but I still say the ending makes no sense. West [spoiler] shoots his wife but he confessed that he doesn't care about her or the unborn child. The killer knows this, yet has gone about setting him up as if this culpable homicide will tear at his soul. Whoops, wrong person in the closet, shrug. In the last he is about to be murdered again so what now, go round again?

I'll give any script a chance and I did read to the end although I don't like to read torture scenes, and it seems as if you have put your minds towards coming up with the most painful torture death imaginable and written a script only to contain a whole bunch of instances. I hope not.

You guys enjoy writing and I'll accept it isn't for me. Best of luck.
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TimC
Posted: June 19th, 2016, 8:37pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks NW3. Appreciate the feedback and honesty - the screenplay is not for everyone.

Tim.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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TimC
Posted: July 13th, 2016, 9:58pm Report to Moderator
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FYI - working on an updated version that fixes formatting and tightens descriptive / action text.

Will aim to have it up in the next few days.

Thanks for reading...

Tim.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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TimC
Posted: August 1st, 2016, 7:40pm Report to Moderator
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The new version is ready...just waiting on the submissions to re-open on 15th August.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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FrankH
Posted: August 5th, 2016, 8:53pm Report to Moderator
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Tim,

Unique and interesting concept. I'll have a look at it when your revised version gets posted.

Frank


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TimC
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Hi all,

new version has been uploaded (thanks very much Don!).

I've incorporated invaluable feedback from both 'Nathan Hill' and 'NW3' to improve the overall readability and the internal turmoil that the protagonist experiences in order to better motivate actions / emotions.

Happy reading...and any feedback people can provide is HUGELY appreciated!

Tim.


My screenplays:

Hell To Pay (thriller)

Killer Crocs (working title / work in progress)
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FrankH
Posted: August 28th, 2016, 6:51pm Report to Moderator
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Tim,

A unique concept, intriguing. Logline needs some tightening.

Didn't read any other reviews, so I might be repeating what others have told you.

I recently posted my first script, so I'm new to screenwriting.
We all have our different style of writing, so these are purely my own opinions.

A few nit picks on the first pages:

P2: The 1st slug, I would use a "- HALLWAY" or "/HALLWAY", reads better.
P2: The action repeats what's in the slug/headline (maybe show us what plush of a hallway it is).
P2: Your 1st action can be as simple as DETECTIVE MIKE WEST and DETECTIVE JOHN RYKER step out of an elevator.
P2: We know we're in the hallway, no need to repeat.
P2: Would be nice to have ages and brief descriptions of the two detectives.
P2: DET. RYKER's 1st dialogue is bloated, maybe something like "that's what she told me on the phone", would be sufficient.
P2: "pauses, looking at Apartment numbers" -- I would write this as an action line.
P2: I believe in most cases, numbers (304) should be written out.
P3: I don't believe CONTINOUS is necessary.
P3: Remove "camera follows ..."
P3: I would use corridor in the slug and use mini-slugs as long as you're in the upper class apartment.
P3: I'm not familiar with the use of colon to transition ("West enters a:").
P3: Again slug is repeated in action (plush "bedroom").
P3: "Whoever owns this apartment is loaded" -- this is all telling, redundant.
P4: Instead of "going through the window", maybe use climbs out the window.
P4: Get rid of starts and begin, minimize the use of words ending with -ing.
P4: Det. West can't really see the exterior fire stairs, can he?
P5: "gains" instead of "is gaining" might be better.
P5: INT. LAVISH BEDROOM - NIGHT is a partial slug.

I read the first 10 pages and I'll plow through more pages in the coming days. I'm curious to know how this progresses.
Try to keep orphans to a minimum, I counted a dozen within the first 10 pages. Try to avoid "is" (passive) in action, also "and" in action can sometimes be replaced with a ",".

I do believe this can be tightened up a little, sometimes overwritten, too many details. Create action that gets to the point sooner than later.
Also recommend to be consistent with slugs, instead of BEDROOM DET. WEST'S HOUSE -- DET. WEST'S HOUSE - BEDROOM.

Again, these are my opinions.

Get back with more feedback in a few days.

Good work so far.

Frank


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