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  Author    Christmas Story - Filmed as Christmas Crime Story   (currently 3848 views)
Don
Posted: August 20th, 2015, 10:28pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Christmas Story by Sean Chipman & Robert Chipman - Drama - A botched Christmas Eve liquor store robbery leads down a destructive path for a cop trying to reconcile with his estranged mother, an alcoholic mall Santa, a mentally unhinged man, his vindictive fiancÚ and her secret lover. 102 pages - pdf, format

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Don  -  September 21st, 2017, 2:15pm
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Sandro
Posted: August 21st, 2015, 10:58am Report to Moderator
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The last few batches of short scripts have been quite lengthy, but this one's 102 pages. Guessing it's just posted in the wrong board?

[bert's edit:  fixed]

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bert  -  August 21st, 2015, 11:34am
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: August 21st, 2015, 12:24pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you for the upload, Don.

Guys, this is the latest draft of Christmas Story and I hope to never have to do another major rewrite again. Of course, I probably will, but this is the last version for a while.

Sandro, outside of the Shorts section (and Series, in most cases), everything else is feature-length.


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James McClung
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Hey man. Sorry for the delay. Without further ado...

pg. 1 - "Depression poster boy" - Thought about this for a second and realized I have no idea what this is supposed to look like. Best I could come up with is that he's supposed to be gothed out or something, which I imagine isn't what you were going for. Would rethink, as it really doesn't have a driving image behind it.

pg. 4 - "The light turns green." - Why not move this to right before Chris pulls into Dave's? Seems weird to mention it only to have him not move. Made me think something was going to happen, but no such luck.

pg. 5- "...looking stressed" might read better.

pg. 6 - "So, how are things..." - Maybe try a better transition than "so..."

- Strange convo between Chris and Maggie. At times, it feels very tense and strained, which is what it's meant to be, I expect. But then Maggie'll throw out a "Merry Christmas" or "Congrats." Not sure how these are supposed to read, given the sort of underlying bitterness. Sarcastic?

It's also a little on the nose, especially with words like "abandoned" or "guilty." Wonder if the characters shouldn't hold things back a little. Think people generally try to avoid making themselves too vulnerable, especially in situations like this, where these two haven't seen each other in some time.

- Wondering if you can't chip away at some of these first pages so that Chris's death occurs on page 10 or at least so that you're sort of into the scene by that point. Not trying to be a conformist here; I actually think you can do it.

pg. 16 - INT. IROC-Z - This might just be me (not a big car guy), but I found these slugs to be somewhat confusing. This particular one, not so much; I cited it because it's the first instance. Others, though, I would sometimes forget what the slug is referring to and thus lost my sense of place. Wonder if it wouldn't be easier just to write, say, INT. DAVID'S CAR. You can still mention what type it is, of course.

- Dave seems to have poured a lot of money into Sasha, and yet, there's this business of him not having a real job. He seems to be pretty well-off financially, at least based on what he explains to her about paying off her house, car, etc. What's going on here?

- Not sure how I feel about David laughing at Vincent. I mean, it's interesting dramatically, but he hasn't been laughing at any of Vincent's quips or behavior thus far or really responded to him in any way other than frustration. Why now, at his most vulnerable position, does he start to cave?

pg. 40 - "Have some faith" - Dense yet strangely specific thing to ask for, as I get the sense that Matthew is a potentially dangerous man. What's with this chick?

pg. 46 - Formatting for texts is strange. I'd try to come up with something better.

- "Thought you fell in." - I would cut this, depending on what you're after. I mean, it's a fun quip and perhaps something the character would say, but it undermines the sense of him being a badass dude who doesn't waste time on people. It indicates he's been waiting for a while, and he's clearly established he dislikes this person. Maybe he's all bark and no bite? If that's supposed to be the case, then carry on. In any case, the line makes him look like a chump somewhat.

pg. 50 - "I shit you not." - Not really hard to believe a guy would sit on his ass all day and play video games. Certainly shouldn't be for this dude.

- "Heart attack." - Might I suggest said heart attack was caused by a blood clot due to prolonged sitting? Would be a nice touch, and definitely has happened to some hardcore gamers.

pg. 56 - Don't think you could tell if the office is in a mall until Randall leaves. Nit-picky, I know, but regardless...

- Weird exchange between Randall and Mr. Barrett. Barrett seems to switch back and forth between sympathetic and dismissive

- Also not a fan of the idea of trying to work as Santa in July. Would try to come up with something more plausible.

pg. 72 - "U have 2." Would change. Nowadays, phones have autocorrect and the like, so it'd more likely be "You have too." Honestly, it'd actually be harder to write the former than the latter... on an iPhone, anyway. Can't quite speak for other brands.

- Eh. This is exchange between Jason and Heather isn't bad, but it seems strange that she'd be chatting and taking shots with him right off the bat. Maybe give one or both of them more incentive to strike up a conversation.

- Any reason Heather wouldn't just flat out give Jason the money? Definitely seems easier/safer. You can still show her disappointment in the scene.

pg. 95 - Damn. Forgot all about the envelope. Anyway to reinforce this? Might be tricky, given that so many of the scenes in the script occur chronologically before she even receives it, but it'd be helpful if you could figure something out here.

- I enjoyed the fact that the final chapter was only two pages long. Reminded me of Kill List.

pg. 100 - "Sasha's sister" - There's gotta be a better way to communicate this.

- "...as if waiting for police to arrive." Unnecessary, and sort of an awkward way to end the script. Would cut/change.

--

All in all, not bad. Interesting structure, for sure, with the circular narrative and such. It caught me off guard a little bit at first and lost me a bit in the middle, but I was pleased once I realized what you were doing. I had some trouble keeping track of characters, especially when some would go many pages without being mentioned again, but honestly, I have this issue with most ensemble pieces and still really haven't figured out the best way to approach it. The repeated scenes and dialogue were also well-done and often very helpful in clarifying what happened previously without being too redundant.

I say you lost me in the middle due to the fact that you have a very urgent and dramatic event (the killing of a cop) and for the next couple chapters, you seem to get further and further away from something really palpable and significant. You come back around, naturally, but in between, there's a lot of talk. I wasn't particularly a fan of the dialogue. It's not bad, but it's really showy and occasionally cliche, especially the character of Vincent, where every other line seems to be some kind of one-liner. The characters are well-drawn, but most of them are pretty familiar archetypes we've seen in many other movies. I think you guys ought to try to inject some more personality into the writing and try to make the characters a little more distinct. The circular narrative is an interesting device, and I think deserves more personality.

That's perhaps just personal taste though. Aside from that, I think some of the scenes go on for a little too long. The characters take a lot of time to muse on life and such. At times, the diversions are refreshing, but some of them could certainly go, or at least be condensed. Again, I think it would help the story feel a little more urgent and substantial. I also think characters are occasionally too upfront about their feelings and feel very expository. I think if you scaled some of it back, it would feel a lot more natural and also create an interesting emotional undercurrent behind the words. These days, I'm of the mind that's often what makes characters more compelling, not so much the surface.

Anyway, once again, haven't done this in a while, so I hope my words make sense. I think you've got a solid base here, and much of the meat is actually quite good. I just think some of it can be tightened up and would certainly benefit from a little more nuance and personality injected into the characters. Hope this helps.



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James McClung  -  December 29th, 2015, 12:01am
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Mr. Blonde
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James,

Thank you so much for the detailed review. I'm not going to go over all of it, because some of the things you mentioned are things I agree on already (characters and prose, mainly. Those are usually my weak points. Dialogue is hit or miss, but I know I missed on a good portion of this).


Quoted from James McClung
- Strange convo between Chris and Maggie. At times, it feels very tense and strained, which is what it's meant to be, I expect. But then Maggie'll throw out a "Merry Christmas" or "Congrats." Not sure how these are supposed to read, given the sort of underlying bitterness. Sarcastic?


It pretty much goes without saying that Chris' story and Sasha's story were the two hardest to nail down for virtually the same reason. But, yeah, it's not entirely sarcastic (she means it when she's happy for him, but she's also waiting to hear him apologize. Until she hears that, the rest doesn't matter so much to her.


Quoted from James McClung
It's also a little on the nose, especially with words like "abandoned" or "guilty." Wonder if the characters shouldn't hold things back a little. Think people generally try to avoid making themselves too vulnerable, especially in situations like this, where these two haven't seen each other in some time.


Agree, 100%. In my rewrite, the #1 thing I'm going to rework is the dialogue.


Quoted from James McClung
- Wondering if you can't chip away at some of these first pages so that Chris's death occurs on page 10 or at least so that you're sort of into the scene by that point. Not trying to be a conformist here; I actually think you can do it.


There was originally a version of this that moved quicker in the opening scene (and one where it moved a lot slower) and I was never completely satisfied with how either of them came out.


Quoted from James McClung
pg. 16 - INT. IROC-Z - This might just be me (not a big car guy), but I found these slugs to be somewhat confusing. This particular one, not so much; I cited it because it's the first instance. Others, though, I would sometimes forget what the slug is referring to and thus lost my sense of place. Wonder if it wouldn't be easier just to write, say, INT. DAVID'S CAR. You can still mention what type it is, of course.


Fair point.


Quoted from James McClung
- Dave seems to have poured a lot of money into Sasha, and yet, there's this business of him not having a real job. He seems to be pretty well-off financially, at least based on what he explains to her about paying off her house, car, etc. What's going on here?


Exposition reared its ugly head. He's burning through a trust fund.


Quoted from James McClung
- Not sure how I feel about David laughing at Vincent. I mean, it's interesting dramatically, but he hasn't been laughing at any of Vincent's quips or behavior thus far or really responded to him in any way other than frustration. Why now, at his most vulnerable position, does he start to cave?


The logic behind that one is going to be difficult to explain. Going way back in the drafts, David used to only hear Vincent as a voice in his head (he used to have a Bluetooth earpiece--that was the old title for this story, Bluetooth--and Vincent would "call" him to converse) but that changed when I decided to make Vincent a physical presence. In my head, I was trying to find a base for it. The closest relationship I could find was that of Batman and The Joker (in the comics, not the movies). That's a long-winded way of saying that David laughs at Vincent at the end because he realizes how much Vincent has broken him (and turned David's personality into Vincent's personality).


Quoted from James McClung
pg. 40 - "Have some faith" - Dense yet strangely specific thing to ask for, as I get the sense that Matthew is a potentially dangerous man. What's with this chick?


You ever meet that person in your life who's completely overmatched, but is still going to try and overconfidence (and yes, I turned that into a verb) their way out of it? That's Sasha, in a nutshell.


Quoted from James McClung
pg. 46 - Formatting for texts is strange. I'd try to come up with something better.


I got that exact same thing in a previous review and changed it from what it was, to what it currently is. Looks like I'm going to have to find a new one.


Quoted from James McClung
- "Thought you fell in." - I would cut this, depending on what you're after. I mean, it's a fun quip and perhaps something the character would say, but it undermines the sense of him being a badass dude who doesn't waste time on people. It indicates he's been waiting for a while, and he's clearly established he dislikes this person. Maybe he's all bark and no bite? If that's supposed to be the case, then carry on. In any case, the line makes him look like a chump somewhat.


This one is a little trickier than the others. As you probably saw during the montage, Winslow isn't a real hitman, he's a cop. That was a major departure from the others drafts and something my brother and I discussed several times. Originally, he was a cold and calculating hitman who had no time for Sasha's bullshit. In this draft (as a test run, but I'm going to stick with it), he's a cop and needs Sasha to give the go-ahead on the hit, so he almost has to put up with her shit. That's the only reason why he sticks around.


Quoted from James McClung
- "Heart attack." - Might I suggest said heart attack was caused by a blood clot due to prolonged sitting? Would be a nice touch, and definitely has happened to some hardcore gamers.


That was the emphasis was that it was caused by him sitting on his ass all day. I could probably find a way to include it without it being superfluous.


Quoted from James McClung
- Weird exchange between Randall and Mr. Barrett. Barrett seems to switch back and forth between sympathetic and dismissive


That was the intention. He feels bad for what he has to do to Randall, but he has to do it.


Quoted from James McClung
pg. 72 - "U have 2." Would change. Nowadays, phones have autocorrect and the like, so it'd more likely be "You have too." Honestly, it'd actually be harder to write the former than the latter... on an iPhone, anyway. Can't quite speak for other brands.


Nice catch. Some of the elements of this script haven't changed since it was originally done several years ago. I hadn't even considered that change, but since AutoCorrect is such a prominent thing now, it's probably a good idea.


Quoted from James McClung
- Eh. This is exchange between Jason and Heather isn't bad, but it seems strange that she'd be chatting and taking shots with him right off the bat. Maybe give one or both of them more incentive to strike up a conversation.


That came about as part of some criticism I received about there really being nothing but Heather in the script. It added several pages to the runtime, but it was a way for her to lead the conversation. I do have a way to make there be a better reason for that scene to be there.


Quoted from James McClung
pg. 95 - Damn. Forgot all about the envelope. Anyway to reinforce this? Might be tricky, given that so many of the scenes in the script occur chronologically before she even receives it, but it'd be helpful if you could figure something out here.


I wish I could say yes, but I can't. The only thing I can say is that, like most things in this script, it'd work better on screen than on the page.


Quoted from James McClung
All in all, not bad. Interesting structure, for sure, with the circular narrative and such. It caught me off guard a little bit at first and lost me a bit in the middle, but I was pleased once I realized what you were doing. I had some trouble keeping track of characters, especially when some would go many pages without being mentioned again, but honestly, I have this issue with most ensemble pieces and still really haven't figured out the best way to approach it. The repeated scenes and dialogue were also well-done and often very helpful in clarifying what happened previously without being too redundant.


I know it's a bit jarring and almost every review has mentioned that, but they also say (as you do) that there's no good way to approach it. I had a second way to re-orient the reader (besides the overlapping scenes), but it would've been nearly impossible. The original plan was to tell the story through music. It was going to be the thread that held the whole thing together was that everyone was playing the same Christmas music (in the diner, the police car, David's/Randall's/Jason's cars, the mall, etc) and music in one story may also be playing in another story that was happening at the exact same time. I had that in only the first draft but was told to drop it because it'd cost a fortune to license them if it got made, anyway. In some ways, I regret that decision. In others, I don't.


Quoted from James McClung
I say you lost me in the middle due to the fact that you have a very urgent and dramatic event (the killing of a cop) and for the next couple chapters, you seem to get further and further away from something really palpable and significant. You come back around, naturally, but in between, there's a lot of talk. I wasn't particularly a fan of the dialogue. It's not bad, but it's really showy and occasionally cliche, especially the character of Vincent, where every other line seems to be some kind of one-liner. The characters are well-drawn, but most of them are pretty familiar archetypes we've seen in many other movies. I think you guys ought to try to inject some more personality into the writing and try to make the characters a little more distinct. The circular narrative is an interesting device, and I think deserves more personality.


I know. My brother and I would joke about which character (if any) were the least expendable. It always came down to Chris because all of the action in the script has been completed by the time he shows up, but he's still important to it. But, in basic three-act structure, I tried to keep things as simple as possible and stick with two stories. The A story of the liquor store robbery and the B story of the arranged hit. There was even a time, on accident, where this lined up with the Beat Sheet almost page-for-page. I've certainly gotten that criticism on my dialogue consistently, so I don't know whether to be glad or not. It's good since I know it's true (everyone keeps telling me) but it's also bad because I change the dialogue in every draft and it's still no good. It's getting to the point where I don't even know what to do with it anymore. My biggest issue is that a lot of people told me, on the last posted version of this, that the dialogue was too plain and to spice it up a bit. From the sound of things here, I must've dumped the whole jar on cayenne in there. Unfortunately, making the prose pop a bit more is nearly out of the equation. It's my brother's biggest weakness and my second one. The characters, I'll give it a shot. See what happens.


Quoted from James McClung
That's perhaps just personal taste though. Aside from that, I think some of the scenes go on for a little too long. The characters take a lot of time to muse on life and such. At times, the diversions are refreshing, but some of them could certainly go, or at least be condensed. Again, I think it would help the story feel a little more urgent and substantial. I also think characters are occasionally too upfront about their feelings and feel very expository. I think if you scaled some of it back, it would feel a lot more natural and also create an interesting emotional undercurrent behind the words. These days, I'm of the mind that's often what makes characters more compelling, not so much the surface.


Would you happen to have any specific examples of which ones could be shortened? I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say that they involve Chris' and Sasha's stories. Yeah, subtext is a big work-in-progress for me. I never nailed it down the way I probably should've. I agree completely and plan to work on it. I only worry that by using too much subtext and subtlety (with the script as complicated as it is) that it might confuse and turn off the reader.


Quoted from James McClung
Anyway, once again, haven't done this in a while, so I hope my words make sense. I think you've got a solid base here, and much of the meat is actually quite good. I just think some of it can be tightened up and would certainly benefit from a little more nuance and personality injected into the characters. Hope this helps.


You were perfectly eloquent and touched on several things that I'm in complete agreement with. Thank you, again.


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James McClung
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Glad I could be off help. In response to your one question...


Quoted from Mr. Blonde
Would you happen to have any specific examples of which ones could be shortened? I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say that they involve Chris' and Sasha's stories. Yeah, subtext is a big work-in-progress for me. I never nailed it down the way I probably should've. I agree completely and plan to work on it. I only worry that by using too much subtext and subtlety (with the script as complicated as it is) that it might confuse and turn off the reader.


Definitely Sasha's exchanges can be shortened, especially the tail end of her scene with Matthew, in which you have characters comparing girls to glass bottles and guys to water balloons. I mean, some of it could've been a nice touch within a more condensed scene in a leaner script, but you've got a lot of dialogue to get through in general, and a lot of this stuff is basically musings on life. I'd say her chapter is the most problematic; Chris and Maggie's exchange could certainly be trimmed, but I don't think it goes on quite as long.


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Mr. Blonde
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I always like trying to ask questions because I don't know how people specifically review (for example, when I do it, I almost never mention anything good. The logic being that if I don't mention it, it doesn't need to change. I got the feeling from reading this that you're similar in that way). In this case, I only had the one.

Now, I have to ask. Your answer is implied, but not stated directly. You seem to think that the bottle/balloon (and, I'm guessing, the whole end of Sasha's story) thing could be cut. Would you suggest that it be cut because of how much dialogue precedes it or because it's not written well? Also, do you feel that the musings don't fit well within the confines of the story or am I just no good at them?

Yeah, that's been the most specific complaint amongst everyone is that hers goes on too long. I've been trying to work around it in the best way I possible can, but there's almost a predetermined length to it and it would be hard to shorten it without cheapening the timeline. Would you consider that to be worth it or continue trying to improve the dialogue and maybe conceal the fact that the story goes on forever?


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khamanna
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I wish you were kidding with this Christmas story, Sean) Rewriting again?

I remember liking it a lot. I'll give it a read.
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Dustin
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Took me three years to sell my first script... meaning the script was actually three years old. If you get interest in a script then it's always worth dusting it off and giving it a refresh now and again. Then go back to pitching.

If people are interested then others will be interested too. You just have to find them. Good luck.
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Quoted from khamanna
I wish you were kidding with this Christmas story, Sean) Rewriting again?

I remember liking it a lot. I'll give it a read.


Believe me, I wish I were kidding, too, Khamanna. This is the last full page one rewrite that I'm doing on it. The rest will simply be touch-ups. Oh, you don't have to. The story hasn't changed all that much. This was mostly to clean up the prose (which is still rough. It's definitely not my forte) and dialogue. It's one of those things that if you've read it once, you've read it every time. Thank you for the consideration, though. =)


Quoted from Dustin
Took me three years to sell my first script... meaning the script was actually three years old. If you get interest in a script then it's always worth dusting it off and giving it a refresh now and again. Then go back to pitching.

If people are interested then others will be interested too. You just have to find them. Good luck.


I wish I could say I have even gotten to that point. Must be a hell of a feeling. This one took three years to complete (two corrupted files forced full rewrites) and I've been rewriting it since. I haven't gotten any interest and the purpose of this rewrite was actually to enter Scriptshadow's 250 contest (but, as I found out after the fact, I can't actually contact him for some reason) but that was all for naught. I do appreciate that, thank you.


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Quoted from Mr. Blonde
Now, I have to ask. Your answer is implied, but not stated directly. You seem to think that the bottle/balloon (and, I'm guessing, the whole end of Sasha's story) thing could be cut. Would you suggest that it be cut because of how much dialogue precedes it or because it's not written well? Also, do you feel that the musings don't fit well within the confines of the story or am I just no good at them?


Depending on how you feel about the particular bits, I would cut, if not trim them. I don't want to tell you one or the other outright; you might just find a way to make them all work. What I will tell you outright is that I would make either change based on how much dialogue precedes/surrounds them and NOT because they're not written well. They're not written the way I would write them, per se, but I wouldn't say they're written poorly.

I think the musings do fit within the confines of the story, but perhaps not so many of them and not laid on so thick. Many would benefit from more of a suggestive approach, as I said earlier. I mentioned Sasha's exchange with Matthew felt particularly longwinded, but even if it wasn't, these asides still add up from chapter to chapter. Having only read the script once and in multiple sittings, it's sort of difficult to say when one is the case and when another is. That's your call, I expect.


Quoted from Mr. Blonde
Yeah, that's been the most specific complaint amongst everyone is that hers goes on too long. I've been trying to work around it in the best way I possible can, but there's almost a predetermined length to it and it would be hard to shorten it without cheapening the timeline. Would you consider that to be worth it or continue trying to improve the dialogue and maybe conceal the fact that the story goes on forever?


If I were you, I would definitely try to shorten some of the scenes and avoid trying to "conceal" anything. I'm still confident you can do it (and yes, without cheapening the timeline). However, not being you, if you indeed truly, indisputably upped the quality of the dialogue, I (or anyone, for that matter) might just be willing to forgive or even overlook the length. So yeah, if you feel confident enough that you can pull it off, I would consider trying to improve the dialogue.


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Don
Posted: October 21st, 2016, 4:51pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Christmas Story by Sean Chipman

To be filmed as Christmas Eve between December 2nd through December 14th.

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


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You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
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I'm one of those people who doesn't believe it until I see it, but this is finally heading towards a definite conclusion, where I can put this script behind me once and for all. =)


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Super news - congrats


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Angry Bear
Posted: October 21st, 2016, 7:59pm Report to Moderator
God Queen of the SimplyScriptsVerse



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Sean rocks!!!

And, rewrites pay off!!!! Lol!

Where did they find the script?  


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