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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Western Scripts  ›  At Peace With War Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: February 11th, 2018, 3:30pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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At Peace With War by Thomas Tamburello - Western - "If you want peace, plan for war." 128 pages - pdf, format

New writer interested in feedback on this work


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CameronD
Posted: February 12th, 2018, 11:06am Report to Moderator
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I love westerns and as they are few and far between I try to check out every one that comes across here. I'm at work so I don't know how far I'll get but I'll leave my thoughts.

The logline needs work. The logline is not an advertising slogan for the movie, it's a brief one or at max two sentence summary of the story. This logline as is tells me zero about your characters, setting or story.

You say there are 3 small children in the wagon but only mention two by name.

"They are not far apart in age." Cut this.

"Many hearts and hands are looking after his every need to quell the fever with cool towels and medicine." You've had a few descriptions like this already and it just reads awkwardly in a script.  You are too general and need to be more specific on what is happening. For example, who's hearts and hands tend to his needs? How does a heart help? How would you even show that? Did you mean they were worried? Why not just say the Brumley women tend to Luke in a busy flurry of hands cool towels and medicine?

Page 2. If the scene is in the Brumley kitchen then include that info in your slug, not your action.

Also, lots of ing verbs. Some people don't mind them, others will. Instead of Luke feeling better just write he feels better. The women aren't preparing food in the kitchen, the women just prepare. Scripts takes place in the present and ing infers past actions. And reading on these are everywhere.

Slight concern. A lot of the dialogue is very on the nose. It's almost exposition the way they speak and nothing else. Your characters need more personality. Also show, don't tell.

Interesting. You jump 3 years from 1858 to 1862 on page 7. My question then is what's the purpose of the first 7 pages if your story starts in 1862? I understand westerns can be a slow roll but there's nothing that happens in the intro that couldn't be cut down and used right away in 1862. All I really know from 1858 is that Wash's fam is new to Texas, he was just married and it's dangerous.  

Two separate coffee drinking scenes within two pages? is there anything else to do in the west?


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CameronD  -  February 12th, 2018, 1:00pm
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CameronD
Posted: February 12th, 2018, 12:37pm Report to Moderator
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3 years pass and they are still constructing or talking about construction buildings?

Ugh. Ok. Problems. Luke's whole speech about joining the Confederacy doesn't work at all. This should be some big important moment. The moment your story really begins but it falls flat. You've spent the past 7 pages writing the story but we know next to nothing about Luke except he got sick in a wagon. We know nothing about what Luke believes or how he was raised cause you've spent the first pages of script on characters drinking coffee and building houses. And because of that Luke has to give a big hollow speech to make sense of his choice to go fight.

Your beginning seems very similar to Cold Mountain, which if you haven't seen I suggest you try to.. That film starts with Nicole Kidman's naive character moving to a sleepy Southern town where she meets Evert, a young man building her father's church. The scenery is picturesque but the lovebirds romance  is torn apart by the outbreak of the Civil War. It works well because the beginning focuses just on the two main characters and so does a good job of setting up their shared feelings  before war breaks them apart. It builds character and sets stakes.  

The writing here is not bad. Not in the least. It's actually quite good. But this scripts seems quite a bit unfocused. A script is a visual blueprint for a movie and so only needs to convey what  is shown on screen. It's also a story telling format where space is limited. You don't have half a page to describe the most beautiful sunset ever to grace Texas like you would in a novel. In a script it's the opposite in that you are trying to convey the most info you can with as little words as possible.

And on top of it all, you only really have 90-120 pages to tell that story. Because this is already 128 and judging from the first ten pages I would guess this script could be cut down quite a bit. It's said often but it's true, in a script EVERY word of dialogue, every action has to push the story forward. Otherwise it's a waste of space and gets in the way instead of helping out.

I strongly suggest you focus on the core of your story and hone in on that during rewrites. Good job on the finished western however. Keep up the good fight!


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