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Between the Bars by Matt Layden (TheUsualSuspect) - Short, Drama - Elliott is in prison for a crime he did not commit. Upon a visit from family and friends, he learns that there are far worse things in life then being in a prison cell. - txt, format
Hi, I really liked the story of this. Felt very true and was well told.
The desriptions are a little too long and you shouldn't have the child's name in capitals in the dialogue. That should only be in action and as they don't actually appear then you don't nned it in capitals at all.
Really did like it though apart from those two aspects
No need to tell Jill's hair and eye color unless it actually moves the story. You're just making casting harder.
If a character is first introduced in dialogue, don't capitolize it. You only do that in text.
Your (beat) should really be an ellipsis if any. Beats are hacky.
Okay finished it. A handful of typo's but that besides the point. Got a good laugh with Carl's last line. Elliott just seems like a total rube. Let's look at it. Luke's a two time loser and Elliott's a family man who gives up his freedom for this guy. He needs a better reason than "he's my brother." Luke needs to have something promising in his life. Either that or we have to see more of the shooting and it has to make us feel bad for Luke and make Elliott's choice justified. As it is now, if Elliott ever gets out, send him too me. I got some swamp land in Florida to sell him.
You don't need to capitalize Sam's name in Jill's dialogue. Only capitalize it in actions, that is, if you even going to show the character later.
You don't need to say "So-and-So cuts What's-his-face off." You simply do something like:
WHAT'S-HIS-FACE I can't believe you—
SO-AND-SO I said shut up!
I really hated Luke. What an asshole. You really did make him the guy everyone wanted to hate, so I'll give you props to that. If someone did that to me, though, I'd be screaming and punching the glass, maybe even admitting to the cops that it was Luke who killed him and not me (like they'd believe me though).
Besides some formating problems such as the house scene should be in a flashback, the story was kind of good. I agree with Souter Fell that their has to be a deeper reason for Elliot to make this sacrifice rather than that Luke's his brother. At that last scene, I would have ratted my brother out there and then if he ever did that. You portray Luke so negatively that I won't help him in that end scene. Give Luke some positive qualities to contrast the negative.
I think this was a good example of parallel storytelling I believe it's called. One thing unfolds, then another unfolds on top of that, and then another, etc. Things went from bad to awful to terrible for Elliott as each page went on. I think the dialogue was pretty good for the most part, though there were some redundancies in words, such as using the same word twice in a sentence by accident.
When Elliott took the heat for Luke, though...I dunno. That didn't entirely work for me. Here Elliott has a family and then he's hanging out with his troublesome brother and then takes the heat for killing a man. What did he expect would happen? What you did convey very well, though, is that Luke obviously has no heart, he's scum, and that crime doesn't pay because you lose the things that are most valuable to you.
Some of it did come off as maybe a little implausible. Mainly the fact if Jill needs somebody to help take care of her child so bad, why would she choose a known murderer in the first place? And in only a matter of a couple of hours, at that.
The scene with Carl in the prison yard is a little pointless. It doesn't drive the story at all. The only information given is that Elliot's wife left him, and we already knew that. It would've been different if you used that scene to tell us the murder flashback.
Also, the scene with Nathan is also unnecessary. The story's not about Nathan getting out in a few days. And we already know Elliot was depressed. Those were the only things you tried to express in that scene.
The writing, however, was pretty decent. A couple typo's here and there, but the story was fluent and you certainly put Elliot into a very down-hearted position. I could feel a lot of the intense anger immuting from him. I was actually kind of wondering if Elliot was going to take it out on Nathan by the end of the script.
One thing I'm kind of wondering, though, which you never answer in the story, was how long does Elliot have to serve? You have Luke say 'Don't come looking for us' at the end, so I imagine it can't be a very long time. Did he go with the self-defense angle and get the murder dropped down to manslaughter? You might want to express how much time Elliot has somehow.
That was a good story and it met the challenge. You could use a bit of tightening on your actions and to me some of the dialogue seemed a bit forced - especially the beginning which seemed soapish – but overall the writing wasn’t bad.
I thought the weakest point was the motivation for Elliot to take the fall for Luke. It was just barely plausible as it was and could use strengthening.
The ending could a bit more emotional. They should drag him back kicking and screaming. As a matter of fact it wouldn’t surprise me if he told the guards his brother did the murder. I think if his brother is leaving with his wife then Elliot no longer has to protect him. The guards wouldn’t believe him, of course.
And that’s another thing about the beginning, his wife says ‘he choose to be here’. I don’t see her saying that if she is leaving with his brother.
Anyway, I enjoyed the read. I give this a CONSIDER.
Capilization ahs already been pointed out...so i wont mention it. Also is there any specific reason you mention jills hair/ eye color. I would see that as a casting issue. If it doesn't take your story further i'd suggest taking it out.
There are minor thing in your dialogue i would change. I'd put more specifics in their speech. They all sound the same to me. (but this was written with a weeks time, so going into specifics in dialect isn't too much of an issue.
This was still good though, fit the theme of the challenge well. Great job!
Shorts: Good Golly Miss Molly No Place Like Home New Moon Rising Yuno - BRAND-*SPANKIN*-NEW! The Ballad of Uncle Sam: An Anarchists Melody Toy Soldier This Modern Love A Virgin State of Mind
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that who ever wrote this is new to screen writing... No, don't take that as a bad thing. All I'm saying is that there are a few technical issues with the format. However, everyone's already mentioned the format problems.
So I'm gonna move onto the most important part, the story. I liked it. It was well paced and the ending really stuck with me. If my brother ever screwed me like that... I'd hunt him down and skin him alive. I really felt for Elliot.
Overall, this was a good read. It's held back by formatting issues, but the story is good. Good job.
This was a cool short. It'd be interesting to see this extended to 40 or 50 pages, really flesh out the story, see where it goes and answer a few questions. Like what happens with Nathan, or what was the reason why Elliot took the heat for his brother.
There are a few problems, as others have mentioned. Mostly format related. It's definitely not terrible, but there is a room for improvement.
What is the purpose of Carl's character, exactly? He shows up for that one scene in the yard and then disappears. Maybe I missed something, but the scene doesn't seem to relate to the story in a larger context.
Anyway, overall this was a good read. Fits very well within the genre/theme so well done in that regard. I liked it a lot. Well done.
This is a fair story, but there are number of issues that need addressing.
Technical: There's the already mentioned format problems along with spelling errors (responde) and a usage error (breaks instead of brakes).
Story: Again, as mentioned above, I also don't buy Elliott's reason for taking the blame for Luke's crime. In fact, no reason is given at all. That could be solved with just one line, something like: "He saved my life when we were kids".
Writing: Frankly, it was the writing style that put me off this script the most, particularly the dialog. It seemed very "on the nose", as they say. I know it's sometimes necessary to be overly expository when writing shorts, but I think you overdo that. Also, people don't always speak in complete sentences or say exactly what they mean, yet all your characters do just that.
A good effort for a week, but the above issues hurt it. I'll give it a C+.
i thought it was interesting w/ a lot of potential. The dialogue tho was up n down. It started out flat. Rly boring, but then picked up when Carl asked Illiot if he was going to tell him why he was in prison. Illiot's answer, "I'll tell you the day I leave", piqued my interest.
What's rly at issue for me tho is that the story wasn't believable. I didn't buy the idea that Jill, who should be pissed beyond the beyonds at Luke, would run off with him. This just wasnt imo sold very well.
The formatting transgressions found here are so very minor -- those who are implying to the author that this is virtually unreadable are doing him or her a disservice.
The story, however, is another problem. It is filled with characters whom I do not believe would act the way they do. The way that anyone would. Jill, Luke, and most of all, Elliot, do not seem like real people in the real world. The script is just a construct for Elliot’s unfortunate but imaginary predicament.
Oddly, the minor conversations with Carl and Nathan were the ones that felt the most honest, and they hint at what might have been in this prison drama.
Sorry, but I just cannot suspend my disbelief for this one.