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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Balance Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: April 22nd, 2014, 5:12pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Balance by Steven Clark - Short, Drama - A soldier's homecoming surprise for his daughter's birthday is ruined when the "gift" goes missing. 22 pages - pdf, format


Visit http://www.simplyscripts.com for what is new on the site.


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

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Don  -  May 11th, 2014, 12:29pm
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StevenClark
Posted: April 22nd, 2014, 9:24pm Report to Moderator
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Hey all,

Don, thanks for the quick turnaround!  Much appreciated.

We've all seen You Tube video's of returning soldiers surprising their loved ones at sporting events, parties, etc.  That's where the idea for this story came from.  And then I thought, what if..?

Thanks in advance for the reads.  Just PM me if you'd like me to read something of yours. Glad to return the favor.  

Steve

Also...special thanks to Mark (Irish eyes), for taking a look before I posted. And to Dirk (DV44), who read this thing like four times and helped me tie up a lot of loose ends! Thanks!



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StevenClark  -  April 24th, 2014, 1:18pm
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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Posted: April 22nd, 2014, 9:55pm Report to Moderator
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Butter. Pure butter.

Hey, Steven! Always a pleasure to read your themes. For some reason, I thought you were going to go to a dark place in this, maybe it crossed your mind. Got a few down checks:

Etc.?! What the heck man! You know better than that lol.

The "cash register" line didn't go with the visual.

The capped/italicized words kinda worked. They didn't bother me, but they did.  

Good story. Why did David have a gun on him? I guess I see why, but boy that's not a good place to bring it. It needs more punch at the end, meaning it doesn't deliver. I thought it was cool to flashback, total opposites, but it took away from that awesome line, "I've been in tighter places." That was good subtext, and it felt forced when you actually went there.

The flashback needs to align itself with the theme better. Give it symmetry with the competition somehow. Not bad at all, just needs to connect the two stories together.

Stay sharp,

Johnny
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LC
Posted: April 23rd, 2014, 12:56am Report to Moderator
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SPOILERS FOLLOW:

Steven, this is impressive writing - in particular the action scenes in Afghanistan.

When I opened this up and started reading it was a little pedestrian for my liking, but once it flash-backed to the war scenes it was a whole different ball game. I still maintain the opening is a little slow, so if you could get to the crux of David's story by cutting a little bit of Katy's intro via quick images instead of that long set up it would probably work better for me, but I don't think it'd be too hard to edit a bit of that.

I'm not fond of reading critiques (my own especially ) where someone just parrots what someone else has said, however I have to say the two things that popped into my head prior to reading Johnny's feedback were in fact the same thoughts he had, these being the 'etc' thing - (easily fixed), and the 'cash register' image. I got exactly what you were going for (which is the main thing) but I think you could do better with a more eloquent analogy.

I also think you missed an opportunity with the story by downplaying part of the story and potential for suspense/drama, to a degree with David's reaction here:

'A car door SLAMS and he shoots an uneasy look into the parking lot.'

This is fine but considering PTSD and that this is in fact what David appears to be suffering from I would have had him react to it disproportionately to reflect his mental state - I mean, have him really react as if a bomb or a gun has gone off.

I think this could up the suspense even more and make us (the reader) more uneasy especially towards your denouement and that quick flash via Cassidy's V.O. where we're not sure what David is going to do. The 'loose cannon' aspect is alluded to so at least have your audience on the edge of their seats.

To reiterate: The action scenes are really terrific - great visuals at the top of page 9 with the car and:

'A thick flap of her scalp hangs off, a sickly tangle of matted hair and exposed flesh'.

You've managed to evoke a real 'Hurt Locker' vibe in the flashback war sequences. Very well done.

My only gripe, (if you can call it that), is that I think the segue into that flashback needs to be a bit more seamless and meaningful - something like the scene outside with the door slamming would work better I think, or at the very least go back to the visual of David in the box - or even just the darkness and the sound of his laboured breaths and trembling. The DISSOLVE from the Judges Table, hmm - nup.

Great work overall, Steven. I enjoyed ithis thoroughly.

And, I too am glad you didn't go the predictable and gratuitous route with the ending. I wish you well with this.



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StevenClark
Posted: April 23rd, 2014, 7:48am Report to Moderator
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Johnny,

Thanks bro. How you doin?

Etc? Didnt realize that was a no no. I'll edit it out.

The cash register line was a reference to what an old college professor said one time when describing a type of bullet--it goes in the size of a dime, come out the size of a cash register. Maybe not the best place for it here. Duly noted.

I agree with you comment about italics. Perhaps more sparingly next time, and in more proper places. Hope it didnt distract too mulch from the story.

David had a gun because he's paranoid, but like Libby said, that one line with the car door slamming could have reiterated that point a lot better.

I also agree with the placing of the flashback. It didnt have the same symmetry, but the end result did--losing one's balance.

Thanks for your notes, bud. When do we get another Robbins original? Take care.

Libby, little short on time but I'll address your comments tonight.

Steve



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StevenClark  -  April 23rd, 2014, 8:11am
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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
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Quoted from StevenClark
When do we get another Robbins original?


Ivan Kozlov works at a margarine factory by day, but by night, he's known as the notorious Yahtzee Killer... and this crazy Russian is about to roll a five-of-a-kind! Bwahaha!

Just kidding.    I don't have anything new going on, just a bunch of rewrites.
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rendevous
Posted: April 23rd, 2014, 6:29pm Report to Moderator
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Steven,

I've not read other comments. I'm lazy that way.

I don't like the etc. early on.

Short or no intros on a lot of characters. Makes it hard to picture them.

Stan Hardy! Overweight and with a grin. I'm fully expecting a skinny Oliver Laurel to appear any mo.

You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be lead.

Apart from the short character descriptions I've no problem with the writing. All seems well. The Soldier talk didn't sound quite right to me. I'm not that way inclined so can't advise how you'd improve this. But they didn't sound quite enough like soldiers for me to buy it wholesale.

'black char' was a new one to me but it works.

On about page 9 I was thinking you've two main and vastly different locales - a gym and a battlefield. It would have been nice if they was some echoing of movements or sayings. Later on I see you do this. So fair enough.

This was a good line - 'Christ, he knows that, Ferry.' - a very good line.

Finished. Overall it's a good idea. Maybe needs a bit more. Some kid falling over in gym and then David sees a soldier or civilian falling. Did feel like it needed a bit more. But overall I quite liked it.

R


Out Of Character - updated


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The Deuce - OWC - now on STS

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StevenClark
Posted: April 23rd, 2014, 8:40pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC

Steven, this is impressive writing - in particular the action scenes in Afghanistan.


Thanks, Libby.


Quoted Text
I also think you missed an opportunity with the story by downplaying part of the story and potential for suspense/drama, to a degree with David's reaction here:

'A car door SLAMS and he shoots an uneasy look into the parking lot.'

This is fine but considering PTSD and that this is in fact what David appears to be suffering from I would have had him react to it disproportionately to reflect his mental state - I mean, have him really react as if a bomb or a gun has gone off.


That's a good point.  I remember writing it and trying to think of another way to word it.  Guess that's why I spent a lot of time looking at it.


Quoted Text
The 'loose cannon' aspect is alluded to so at least have your audience on the edge of their seats.


Edge of their seats is a good thing.


Quoted Text
You've managed to evoke a real 'Hurt Locker' vibe in the flashback war sequences. Very well done.


Awesome compliment!  Thanks.  hurt Locker was not what I was going for, but if it felt like that well...who am I to blow against the wind?


Quoted Text
My only gripe, (if you can call it that), is that I think the segue into that flashback needs to be a bit more seamless and meaningful - something like the scene outside with the door slamming would work better I think, or at the very least go back to the visual of David in the box - or even just the darkness and the sound of his laboured breaths and trembling. The DISSOLVE from the Judges Table, hmm - nup.


Duly noted.


Quoted Text
And, I too am glad you didn't go the predictable and gratuitous route with the ending. I wish you well with this.


Predictable and gratuitous.  How boring can that shit get?

Thanks for reading, Libby.  Much appreciated always.

Steve



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StevenClark
Posted: April 23rd, 2014, 9:01pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from rendevous
Steven,I don't like the etc. early on.


It's unanimous then!


Quoted Text
Short or no intros on a lot of characters. Makes it hard to picture them.


That was a conscious thing, Ren.  The page count was getting high and I only wanted the main's  to be described.  However, I do agree that I might have gotten lazy.  Guess I was just more focused on story at the time.


Quoted Text
Stan Hardy! Overweight and with a grin. I'm fully expecting a skinny Oliver Laurel to appear any mo.


Another conscious pairing of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.  I had to name the guy something.


Quoted Text
You can lead a horse to water but a pencil must be lead.


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.  


Quoted Text
The Soldier talk didn't sound quite right to me. I'm not that way inclined so can't advise how you'd improve this. But they didn't sound quite enough like soldiers for me to buy it wholesale.


I did research on that.  Military speak and the like.  I'm curious as to how others feel about this, especially any ex-military.


Quoted Text
This was a good line - 'Christ, he knows that, Ferry.' - a very good line.


Thanks.  I like it too!


Quoted Text
Finished. Overall it's a good idea. Maybe needs a bit more. Some kid falling over in gym and then David sees a soldier or civilian falling. Did feel like it needed a bit more. But overall I quite liked it.

R


Thanks for commenting, Ren.  Glad you liked it.  I agree it might need something more.  Something to beef it up a bit more, because to me it felt a little hollow if that makes any sense. Perhaps some of those descriptions you mentioned would have given it a bit more depth. Def needs some tweaking.

Steve



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DV44
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Where's all the peeps? Steve put a lot of time and effort in this. I read it awhile back and really enjoyed it. Hopefully others will agree.

Best of luck, bro!
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wonkavite
Posted: April 28th, 2014, 8:03pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Steven -

Just saw this one.  Excellent writing!  I don't really have many notes on this, but the writing itself was seamless and streamlined.  Very good characterization and dialog, too. And the battle scene... very well done.  (I was ROTC, but never active - so I can't swear by the lingo.  But it feels right to me, nonetheless.)

If I were to list any "negatives", I'd say that the ending sort of petered out.  As some other reviewers have mentioned, it'd be an enhancement to tie in present day actions to bits of the flashback to strengthen the connection between the two.  (Like - as suggested - perhaps having a girl fall off a beam, mirroring how the woman falls in the line of gunfire.  Things such as that.)  And - if you could somehow tie David's last exchange with his daughter somehow into his experience, that would be even better.

But very well done.  Kudos!  

--Janet (W)
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StevenClark
Posted: April 28th, 2014, 9:35pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Janet,

Thanks for checking this out and for the kind words.

A bud of mine who read this before it was posted suggested (almost pleaded!) I tie something in from the battle scene to the final scene. I guess I should've listened, huh?

That being said, I'm sure now it'll make it into the rewrite.  

Thanks again,

Steve


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rolo
Posted: April 29th, 2014, 4:39pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Steven -

Firstly, I really liked this. Good job! I've read through some of the other comments and pretty much agree with everything that's been said. The 'cash register' line/visual seems an odd choice. But I see you explained the reasoning behind it, which makes perfect sense. Though I'm sure you'll change it?

Have to agree with LC about your writing - it's very good! And Janet is right about the ending petering out somewhat.

Other than that, my only real gripe is I feel you could make the military roadblock scene in Afghanistan a little clearer. I was never really sure if it was a terrorist attack or a terrible tragedy as a result of the language barrier?

Dobbs tells David over the radio: "man driving" on page 8 - but we never get to see the driver. Only, what I assume to be his wife and young daughter. I'm leaning towards it being a tragedy but was unsure why the car headed straight for David and the others after they fired a warning shot? And the Arabic woman's dialogue after she's been shot certainly has a hint of a terrorist vibe about it? But again, she's just been shot and seen her family wiped out, so she's bound to be pissed.

And if it was an act of terrorism - why the hell has the driver got his young daughter with him?

Sorry for harping on about this - as you can see, I'm confused?! Lol.

However, irrespective of this one detail. I imagine it would still have the same effect on David and the others given what went down - so it doesn't really impact on David's subsequent behavior or the story in general.

I've had the pleasure of reading three or four of your shorts and can honestly say that your writing is definitely getting stronger, my friend!

Sorry, I couldn't be more help.

Take care, bro

Gary (Rolo)
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StevenClark
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Gary,

Thanks for reading, pal.


Quoted from rolo
Firstly, I really liked this. Good job! I've read through some of the other comments and pretty much agree with everything that's been said. The 'cash register' line/visual seems an odd choice. But I see you explained the reasoning behind it, which makes perfect sense. Though I'm sure you'll change it?


That cash register line? Man, I kinda like it. That's gonna be a tough choice as to whether to remove that one.


Quoted from rolo
Dobbs tells David over the radio: "man driving" on page 8 - but we never get to see the driver. Only, what I assume to be his wife and young daughter. I'm leaning towards it being a tragedy but was unsure why the car headed straight for David and the others after they fired a warning shot? And the Arabic woman's dialogue after she's been shot certainly has a hint of a terrorist vibe about it? But again, she's just been shot and seen her family wiped out, so she's bound to be pissed!


You're right, it is a tragedy.  Nothing blew up, no explosives.  I was leaning toward doing something like that, but thought tragedy would be more fitting.  The car just kept going could be just a miscommunication, maybe they never saw the warning shot, stuff like that.  And yes, that woman was pissed!

Thanks for your time, Gary. Let me know when I can return the favor.

Steve


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irish eyes
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Yo Steve

I see a few things have changed since your email.

I still think it's strange that he would carry his gun into a gym. I'm sure he knows he suffers from PTSD and  jumping out of an enclosed box with a gun by his side to greet his daughter... not very smart.

Like I told you before  I really liked the Afghan scene. The description of the small child releasing the grip on the doll as it falls to the ground... very powerful
I noticed you extended that scene, still pretty visual.

Another great short from you.

Keep up the great writing buddy.

Mark


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