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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Horror  ›  A Mother's Burden
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  Author    A Mother's Burden  (currently 784 views)
Posted: February 5th, 2017, 6:09pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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A Mother's Burden by Chris Keaton - Short, Horror, Demon - A police officer responding to a noise complaint discovers the disturbing fate of a woman dealing with a demon. 7 pages

production: This is a one location disturbing short. 3 actors. - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

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Posted: February 7th, 2017, 2:51pm Report to Moderator

Seattle, WA
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I enjoyed a few elements of this work, but for the most part, the story kind of fell flat for me.

Right off the bat, there are some missing commas and clunky sentence structure.  A trick I like to do is read the work aloud and every time you pause mid-sentence, ask yourself, "Should there be a comma here?"

But honestly that kind of stuff is minor in my book, I'm all about tone, pacing, dialogue and story.  First off, you are telling me a lot of information, but you are not showing me.  For instance, you tell me:

Constable BETTY (20s), not green but not a veteran, sits in
her police car checking paperwork. She speaks into her mic as
she looks through her windshield at a small home on the
outskirts of town.

How do I know looking at a character that she's "not green, but not a veteran."  Also, which is it, is she checking her paperwork or looking at the house?  Furthermore, you say she's in her 20's, but that only causes more confusion for how long she's been on the job.  If she's 22, I'd say realistically she'd have to be green.  If she's 29, less so.  I would carry this over to all of your characters from this work.  They are all a bit too bare in the descriptions for my taste.

You introduce Deborah as : Deborah, a 30 something pregnant woman.  Her name she be capped DEBORAH.  Also, it's jarring that you changed the age format.  You should stay consistent throughout the script, i.e. BETTY (20s), DEBORAH (30s), etc.

Good build-up when she enters the house, but again you're telling me more than you're showing me.  Then you get to the delivery of the baby and it's over in a single sentence, which derails any tension you might have achieved.  I'd really flesh this part of the story out.

A bit of a logic gap that Betty can't use her radio during the delivery, as dispatch already knows where she is, so it pulls the punch from the end.

You've got a great opportunity again to build tension once the baby is born, but you just have Deborah act and Betty react instead of building on the drama of a mother wanting to kill her newborn baby.  I'd draw that out as well.

I'm into the imagery of a room full of dead babies, so kudos to that.  It did leave unanswered questions for me though, like was Deborah killing the babies over and over or where they still-born.  Alal seemed happy that this baby was alive when he entered, but he said he knew about all the dead babies, so what was his end game?

Lastly, I was not a fan of the dialogue.  The majority felt really plastic.  For instance, your first line:

Dispatch Iím at the location. Iím
not hearing any screaming. Iím

She says three sentences and each one uses "I'm".  Feels forced.

So in summary, I'd recommend the following: Go over your action beats and streamline the clunky text for a smoother read.  Work on your character descriptions.  Stretch out some of the tension once you reach your second act and tighten up your resolution in your third.  Read your dialogue aloud with another person and work on anything that doesn't feel organic.

Just my two cents.


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Posted: February 8th, 2017, 4:16pm Report to Moderator

Don't get it right, get it written.

Independence, Ky
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A lot of telling in your descriptions when you should be showing.

Seems way to fast to have a character deliver a baby over one action line, but I'm no expert so...

A few typos here and there, nothing too distracting though.

I'm curious as to who/what exactly Alas is. Is he actually a demon? Maybe a devil worshiper?

Odd story, this one. Not really sure how I feel about it. I was interested enough to continue reading, and the ending was definitely... uncomfortable. This just needs a few more rewrites to flesh it out and you could have something really unsettling here.

Not bad.



DING DONG DITCH - (short,horror)
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Posted: February 10th, 2017, 3:35pm Report to Moderator

Giving up is not an option....

Kiwi in Ohio
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Hi Chris,

I liked the premise, not very nice, but it's a horror.....
It does need work with the writing, but thats the learning process we all have to go through...
I liked that you used a cop to tell the story, someone coming in seeing what the woman is going through.
I didnt feel comfortable with the babies being in a bedroom, id think someone would have complained about the smell by now....? Maybe they need to be in a basement where its more likely they wont be smelled by neighbours? Maybe?

Anyway, orginal and creepy story...keep at it, it's good

"Turn that off, our friend has just been killed in a fatal sunlight accident!"....

'What we do in the Shadows.'
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