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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  January 2014 - One Week Challenge  /  Madison & Church - OWC
Posted by: Don, January 11th, 2014, 6:14pm
Madison & Church by Steven Clark - Short - A boy takes a trip to the past to save his father, but soon realizes he can't change what happens next. 15 pages - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: nawazm11, January 11th, 2014, 8:25pm; Reply: 1
Something is off about your spacing, check your settings out. Everything seems too spread out.

"into the hallway" Hallway should be a minislug.

I think Devlin might have something I call the "dumbass character syndrome". He's 12 years old and I know at least when I was 12, the idea of looking both ways on the street was engraved into my mind. Especially when his friend tells him not to go any further.

Not sure if I understand the ending, the sister will become the princess?

I had a few problems with this one. This might just be me but I don't think there was enough meat to this. The abrupt cut after Devlin's death was jarring and I'm not really sure what happened there either.

Usually, you get those "somebody has to die" story in any theme with time travel so that might be one reason why this felt bland. I know there are going to be a dozen more that deal with exactly the same concept but the problem here was that it's never explored. We see one repeat but it wasn't enough to convince me he could never save his father.

I didn't like the princess part, didn't match up with the story's tone. Just not a lot happens in the 12 pages which is my biggest problem.

The writing was okay, a few strange lines but it was readable. Not a terrible effort by all means but I just wish there was more here.
Posted by: stevie, January 11th, 2014, 10:22pm; Reply: 2
Really torn on this one.

Liked it a lot and the writer crafted a good little premise. But I was confused. Did he dream about his father? If it was a alternate time line or whatever that's sorta cool. But there wasn't any time travel mission to save his dad, only the princess showing him the past.

This could be a pretty good one. It needs a rewrite to use the cool,concepts in it properly.
Posted by: Dustin, January 12th, 2014, 5:01am; Reply: 3
I was almost out at page 1 with this one... a fairy princess? Well, top marks for originality I suppose. Despite that, I find myself absorbed in this story now.

I saw it coming with Devlin having to take the father's place.


I wanted candy, but...I didn't look.
I didn't look both ways.

Not a fan of this line.

So he didn't stop his dad from dying and there was no change in the future? Where's his dad? What does Marnie have to do with it? Written well, but not a story for me over all.
Posted by: khamanna, January 12th, 2014, 9:55am; Reply: 4
Connor goes back to stop the lady from crossing the red light. But then Devlin gets hit by the car. But I don't understand how Connor reversed it. Or did he just dream it up?

Not enough of a set up for me - I'd think there would be Connor missing his father. Then he sees the fairy maybe. Otherwise the fairy's appearance is sudden and groundless up until we understand what Connor wants to do.
I think it would be much better if you forshadowed that bit.
Posted by: MarkRenshaw, January 12th, 2014, 10:15am; Reply: 5
A Fairy Princess is the Time Travel method, that is a new one but strange dialogue.  Believe in me because in a few years you won't believe in me? Odd.

What are Madison and Church? Are they people? Ah no they are not. But how are the audience to know that? They are not going to read the script. They will need something visual, a street sign or some dialogue to explain it early on. As it is the explanation arrived too late for me.

I'm confused as to what actually happened. Is the Princess his sister, did he imagine it all? What was the original outcome.

I was touched by the emotion in this one a lot. I think there's a good story here, it just needs to be clearer.  

Nice entry.
Posted by: StevenClark, January 12th, 2014, 4:23pm; Reply: 6
Hey Writer,

Not a bad effort here. I was a bit put off at first by the fairy princess being Connors source of time travel, but once the story got going it was absorbing. I'm thinking Connors trip to the past was nothing but a dream, and the sacrifice to regain his father ended up with his friend getting killed.

But at the end the father is still dead. So yes. I'm thinking dream here. However, the ending sort if veers into coming if age territory.  It read very well for the most part, and like I said, once I got past the opening, it made me want to keep turning the pages.

Congrats on getting this done!

Posted by: Gum, January 12th, 2014, 9:50pm; Reply: 7

Quoted from MarkRenshaw
I was touched by the emotion in this one a lot. I think there's a good story here, it just needs to be clearer. Nice entry.

I'm going to second that e(motion). Some nice visuals here that really played out in my head.

Good work!
Posted by: CoopBazinga, January 13th, 2014, 5:55am; Reply: 8
“A long forgotten teddy bear sits alone in a far corner.” Poor teddy, I really hope this story has a happy ending for him.

Does Connor have any blankets? It’s snowing outside and must be freezing but he’s just lying in his PJ’s… tough kid. Edit: he does have covers – how did we know he was wearing pyjamas then, he could have been commando under there!

“beautiful PRINCESS.” Oh no, I fear another Disney ending – hopefully resulting in the teddy getting some buddies.

“Don't be frightened, young one.” Really? Did he not just see what you described – who would be scared of that? She has a wand, and her hair blows in a fake breeze – he should be getting out his hand cream. ;D

Is this Tinkerbell? Her explanation for him not to be scared and how he won’t believe in her in a few years sounds so familiar.

“Time slows to a crawl as the old woman and the little boy stride safely onto the sidewalk.”

Not a great place to have slow motion – it’s quite funny actually, watching an old woman and little boy step onto the sidewalk in slow motion. ;D

“I wanted candy, but...I didn't look. I didn't look both ways.” I don’t know… would he really say this? I actually think “I just wanted candy” would be so much stronger here than explaining that he didn’t follow the kid's road safety message.

Yeah, there was a happy ending but not as I expected.

Well, another one where I’m left confused as hell. I thought we went back to save his dad and was successful, but then his dad is still dead? Where did Marnie come from? Who’s her dad? Did Joe hit Devlin? The way you worded it sounded like he did, and then there’s the old woman and the little boy who… oh, look, I was just left with questions by the end of this.

I also have to admit that I hated the princess, yes it’s different, but what sort of story has a princess offer a kid the chance to save his father and have him replaced with another child. I take it that was what she offered really, or maybe Marnie in her princess gear has some meaning?

What made it worse was that the poor teddy didn’t get an ending, at least have Marnie cuddle him or something – that’s who I feel sorry for, the teddy, sitting there all alone in the corner… where’s the teddy princess? >:(

I do think this has potential but the ending needs to be clearer for the reader to understand and the princess part needs a rethink IMO.

Congrats on completing the OWC. :)

Posted by: RJ, January 13th, 2014, 7:20am; Reply: 9
This one seemed like the ending was very rushed as I understood everything up till about page 10 where things started to fall apart.

As stated by others, I too am very confused; saving his dad which seemed like a success, but then he's dead and the friend who I thought took the dads place is also dead, but now he has a sister.

I thought saving the dad and having the sister because of it was a good ending, but then you have the scenes with Marnie and Connor talking about the dads death and then nothing is stated as to how he died in the end anyway. It is slightly hinted that it happened in Iraq, but still left unknown.

And so I guess poor Connor lost two people instead of just his dad? This annoyed me too.

I did really like this up until page 10 where, as I said, things really fell apart and left more questions that answers.

Good effort though. :)


Posted by: Forgive, January 13th, 2014, 5:10pm; Reply: 10
Well... that was a weird experience. Opening, I really liked this, the writing was clear, creative, couple of minors, couple IMO's, and I could have even gone for the Fairy Princess as even she was described crisply and succinctly.

I'm also with Mark in that I wondered if you forgot to reference 'Madison'?

But we're still good, even though I felt the accident was a bit poorly drawn -- the descriptions of Devlin, twisted legs and all meant the writer wasn't backing off, and I was thinking 'strong end, like this one' up to the FADE OUT: except there's more... and I spot it's only p.9 so the writer's going for a bit of extra fill to get the page count in ... and then?

Sorry, you got me here. Connor's father's still dead, we have a sister (who might be the fairy or might not) and she falls over, and oh, Dad was an Iraq vet and did die on that day but another way, and Marnie gets her tights rolled up (or down) and she gets a sticking plaster. Which clears everything up. The end.

Posted by: DV44, January 13th, 2014, 7:12pm; Reply: 11
Tight writing for the most part. Very good for 10 days of work. The story flowed nicely up until Devlin died then things went a bit south for me. Not to say that I didn't like where you took the story but that the story itself became a tad confusing. So the father never came back? Devlin replaced the Old woman, right? Again, I thought the wriitng was good throughout but just lacked some clarity.

Congrats on completing the OWC!
Posted by: Dreamscale, January 14th, 2014, 6:43pm; Reply: 12
Read this yesterday and didn't have a chance to post my thoughts until now.

Maybe that's a good thing, as I won't be able to go into great detail, and maybe the fact that I've thought about this for almost 24 hours will also be a blessing...not sure, but we'll soon see.

The writing style on display is actually very, very strong, but it's also a style that's very dificult to pull off, so I always recommend not attempting it.  But when it works, it definitely works.

The style I'm referring to is an almost novelistic approach, in which "things" that may not really matter are front and center and add a flavor or mood to the script that can't be gotten without such "detail".  But, on the flip side, there are numeruos "extra" lines and the script has a padded feel at times, and will always be longer than it really needs to be.  But, if it works, the script will read strong and easy and emotion from the reader can be garnered.

There's a sweetness to this tale and it makes it what it is, even though in reality, it's heavily flawed, as the logic within is incorrect and the writer made a tragic error (whether or not they realize it or care to admit it).

The fairy princess is offputting at first, but for me, could have worked, if the logic was correct, as the final scene with cute little Marnie dressed as a fairy princess takes on metaphorical possibilities.

So, what's the issue here?  Well, it's like most have brought up, but it goes deeper, because of the convesation between Connor and Mary, late in the script, in which it's made perfectly clear that Joe died in an accident, attempting to, and succeeding, at avoiding the old woman and little kid at the corner of Madison & Church.

But, Connor appeared to avert this tradegy and in the process, his friend Devlin was killed.  Most peeps then asumed something like Joe then died in a war and Marnie, kind of appeared out of nowhere, most likely the results of changing history.

But why should anyone beleive Marnie wasn't there all along?  Just because she's intro'd late and is wearing the fairy princess costume?  I don't think so.

Do we know how long ago the accident was?  How far back in time?  I don't think we do...and I think it's important.

So, until the end reveal that Joe is still dead, I was really liking this, as it just has a nice feel and flow to it.  But, as written, it really doesn't make any sense, as nothing changed that we actually know of.  Do we know for certain that Devlin is indeed dead in this new reality?  Do we know that Marnie is a "new addition"?  All we know is that Joe is definitely dead and he died at the corner of Madison & Church, bcause we get that in actual dialogue.

My bet is that the writer made a mistake, maybe due to time, and the ending wasn't what they were actually going for.  That's my hope, at least.

So many positives here but they're all wrecked by the fact that the story doesn't work as told and in reality, it really doesn't fit the OWC challenge either.

But, this writer can definitely write effectively, and for me, that's saying alot.

Congrats on entering.  Looking forward to hearing what went wrong and why, or if we're all just missing your intentions somehow.
Posted by: PrussianMosby, January 15th, 2014, 4:50pm; Reply: 13
I like the dialogue and the interactions of the characters.

If I get it right you missed the criteria, because your story was just a dream of the boy. I think you have a lot of skills about stories, but it feels like you wrote that down quickly. Like a training. Easy stuff and concept, less risk etc. I still like the things I mentioned first…

There are a lot of unnecessary things in the story. The woman and the explanation of Conner they just wanted to go to the library; Candy. Yeah maybe it's cause it's surreal, I mean the dream.

It could be easily cut at 10. I would like to read some other plays of you.
Posted by: EWall433, January 15th, 2014, 5:11pm; Reply: 14
Your first three slugs are all BEDROOM, even though it’s two different locations. Other than that the writing seems assured.

Page 2 “you’ll no longer believe in things like me”    Aren’t princesses technically real? If this were playing in front of me, I’d think she was the Tooth Fairy at that line.

Page 7 “DEVLIN: Candy.”    I think you should cut that, and his next line too.

I’m confused. In the original timeline the old lady dies. The Princess sends him back in time. Devlin dies instead. But when he talks to his mom about it she still says it was the old lady.

After reading some of the comments I suppose the dream scenario makes the most sense. My problem is 1) It isn't really clear that the dad is dead in the beginning. Maybe he was in prison after the accident. We never knew the original reality until the end.  2) I think it should’ve been more obvious that he was dreaming. Like have him walk around his house expecting to see his dad, but realizing nothing’s changed (maybe have Devlin call him up so we aren’t completely thrown).

Like I said the writing worked for me, and I was drawn into the story, but the ending was a bit anticlimactic and confusing. I don’t think this would need too much work to be really strong though.

Congrats on completing the OWC
Posted by: rendevous, January 16th, 2014, 2:57am; Reply: 15
I'm not a fan of the title, sounds like a dodgy tv cop show, but I thought I'd give this a read anyway.

Overall this was pretty good. It's a bit too vague in parts but I guess that was what the writer was going for. I found it was carrying me along well until near the end.

I'd say some parts need to make clearer exactly what is happening when. Otherwise at the end it feels more a partly glimped puzzle than a full fledged story.
Posted by: wonkavite (Guest), January 16th, 2014, 8:27am; Reply: 16
I liked this script.  Solid writing, interesting characters...  And I actually teared up a little at Mom's speech at the end.  Don't tell anyone.

BIG problem with the ending, though. In the dream - which presumably is the time travel - the old lady and little boy are saved; and Devlin killed.  How did time then change to result in his father being killed instead?

A suggestion here: have the Fairy Princess reappear in the dream, and Conor begs her to save Devlin.  Maybe she even shows him a glimpse of what life would be like if it stays as-is...  His father wracked by guilt and ultimately destroyed.  Something like that.  Anything that explains the change in the ultimate outcome.  This is a good story - most of it.  It deserves a strong, poignant ending.


--J (W)
Posted by: irish eyes, January 16th, 2014, 6:20pm; Reply: 17
page 3

A change in time, we should at least have a SUPER and the year or Connor's new age.

page 8

Unnecessary use of fade out and fade in... you could use CUT TO but IMO we know you're going to a new scene via the slug.


slightly confusing, I thought he went back in time to save his dad... then his dad killed Devlin while the old lady didn't die... but yet the dad still died and Marnie appeared.

this story needs to be more clear, you might have rushed it to get it in on time, but you left a lot loopholes.

either way it was an easy read

good job on entering

Posted by: Reef Dreamer, January 17th, 2014, 4:33pm; Reply: 18
Madison and church

I've no idea what this title means, but it sounds like an address in New York

Ok, I admit it, this is the first time I have read the other reviews, after reading, before I put my response together. The truth is I was lost and I wasn't  sure if that was me.

Start, I liked it, a sense of foreboding, of mystery, of desire.

Then...two boys go to a junction and see an accident that results in one boy being killed by a bit and run car. But this avoids his dad dying the expense of his friend??

I mean, the mother states he gave his life to avoid the woman, yet we see him not involved, because the other boy dies.

Yeah...big time confused, by what happened but importantly...the message and tone.

This is the confusing line...

"He gave his life to save them."

In what context? I am reading this that In a Previous version of event he dies avoiding the woman. If  so then the boy takes his freind there, who dies, but saves his father. But it doesn't happen?

Oh I have a headache....

Having said that, a fair effort
Posted by: James McClung, January 17th, 2014, 6:50pm; Reply: 19
I'm afraid I don't have much to add that hasn't already been brought up so I'll keep this brief.

Ending doesn't make sense. There simply isn't enough information to draw any solid conclusions to what happened, other than Connor woke up and it was all a dream or something. This is no good. I feel like this might be an issue with getting your entry in on time so if you have any ideas as to how this was all supposed to work, those still need to be figured out.

The fairy was an interesting device for time travel but I feel like there's no explanation for why she shows up or how she operates. Also no good. Her dialogue is off as well. Seems like it's trying too hard to sound old timey, mystical, or whatever. It doesn't work given the present day context.

That's all I got. I think there's a decent story here but definitely some issues that need to be worked out. Hope this helps.
Posted by: oJOHNNYoNUTSo, January 27th, 2014, 4:23pm; Reply: 20
Madison & Church

Good, solid writing.  I think I know who wrote this, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, I didn't really care much for the story in this, even though I know it would probably translate to film and become a good short.  The ending was my favorite part and gives Conner a nice theme to attach his character to.

I respect the way the writer avoided making this a "one sided" story through the plot which gives credibility to Mary's character, and makes every more rounded.  Great technique, and I enjoyed how the tales clashed.

Overall it's a decent script, just needs some salt and pepper.

Posted by: StevenClark, January 28th, 2014, 12:41am; Reply: 21
Hey Gang,

First, I'd like to thank Sean and Don for putting this on. It really is a great exercise for us writers to take part in.

That being said, thanks to all who took their time to read. Much appreciated.

There seems to be a general feeling of confusion with my entry, and I'd like to try and clear it up if I can. Connor meeting with the Princess was a dream, as was his successful attempt at saving his father. I guess I tried to convey that this in some way was the truth about what might have happened had he been on the corner of Madison and Church that day. The end result with Devlin getting hit by the car is the trade off, and the risk one takes, to try and change the past.

After the dream is reality. Mary and his little sister Marnie were there all along, though they just weren't introduced until that time. There was no need to.

Connie's father did in fact die that day in a car crash, not in Iraq. So, in essence, nothing changed, which as Jeff pointed out, really did not fit in the parameters of the challenge. In my mind I knew this, but I felt it was sufficient at the time.

As for the ending, it was more a coming of age type thing, with Connor bandaging his sisters knee, thereby he's taking over the father role of the household, meaning the HE has changed, even as the past stayed the same

Confused yet?  Good. You should be. It is often my mistake in making my shorts a bit vague, really leaving it up to the reader to take what they want from it. It doesn't often work, and leaves people scratching their heads, which doesn't really translate to a tale well told. But, it was fun to write nevertheless.

Posted by: Angry Bear, June 2nd, 2014, 1:19pm; Reply: 22
read your script. Not bad, but IMHO, and I mean humble, I'm nobody and my comments should be taken with a truckload of salt, it's way too long. I don't think this story needs to be any longer than 8 pages. 10 at the most. Some of that could be trimmed by more economical writing, but there were also some stuff that could be cut out completely. As writers, we don't like to cut a bunch of our work out, but sometimes it's needed in order to tell the story the best way possible.

This is how I saw the story. Connor has a dream that a Fairy Princess grants him a wish. He wishes for his dad  to still be alive. We go back two years. Connor and Devlin are out doing nothing in the city. Devlin gets hit by a car driven by Connor's dad. The dad survives, but now his best friend is dead instead. That's not what Connor wanted. Because his dad wouldn't have been the same after he killed Devlin anyway. He would've become a depressed alcoholic. So back to the way things were. The dad swerved to avoid hitting the woman and her kid and he dies. (must have been driving VERY fast on a city street to actually die...) We learn that Connor's mom was pregnant at the time of the accident and he actually have a 2 year old sister who wears a Fairy Princess outfit that their mother wore when she was 2. Marnie hurts her knee and Connor tends to her and gives her his long forgotten teddy bear from the beginning. It's all very nice. Characters are fine. Dialogue could use some work and at times be cut entirely, but overall, it's nice. Just too long. A 14 minute film...

You're a bit descriptive, IMO. Also not clear at times. The snow falls outside, then a few lines down, the wind howls. Doesn't give the same visuals of the snow. Little things like that.

First slug says BEDROOM. Then a few lines down, we get a mini slug that says BEDROOM. Maybe just calling them CONNOR'S BEDROOM and MARY'S BEDROOM.

Also, try to use better action verbs. Verbs that tell us the action exactly. Instead of walking slowly, maybe you can pick one of these, step, ambulate, perambulate, stride, pace, tread; foot it, Sl. hoof it, pad, ride shanks' mare, go by shanks' mare, Chiefly Scot. shank; stroll, saunter, amble; slog, trudge, plod; shamble, shuffle, Inf. galumph; lurch, stagger, wobble, waddle; sidle, slink, mince, tiptoe; move, go, advance, proceed, wend.  Now obviously they don't all mean walking slowly, but you get my point. Thesauruses are great!

I don't think you need to mention all the different planets. You've already told us it's a planetarium projector...

Is the Fairy Princess part a dream? If so, I think her dialogue should be a little more like a 12 year old. Seems the words she uses are not something a 12 year old would come up with.

I don't think we need to know the pedestrian signal has a thirty second countdown. Just a suggestion of where to cut something out. It takes 5 lines to let us know there's a pedestrian signal that turns green to GO and people cross...

Devlin's body. The young boy's legs... We already know how old he is. More unnecessary descriptions.

Maybe have Devlin call out for his mom rather than his mommy? Maybe that's just me, but a 12 year old seem too old to call out for mommy.

Good visuals on everything freezing in its tracks except the rain.

Page 9. We're back in the house now, but at what time? Present time or still two years earlier. I'm confused.

CRASH! Mary runs inside. What happened. I guess I'm dense?  ;D

Marnie speaks very well for a 2 year old.

Not sure I've read anything by you before, but you did a great job. Just needs some tweaking to avoid being longwinded.  :)
Posted by: StevenClark, June 3rd, 2014, 7:52am; Reply: 23

Thanks for checking this is out. Much appreciated

Quoted from Pia
I'm nobody and my comments should be taken with a truckload of salt

First off, you're not nobody. You're well respected round here, and a produced screenwriter. That's exactly why I asked you to check this out.   :)

Quoted from Pia
This is how I saw the story. Connor has a dream that a Fairy Princess grants him a wish. He wishes for his dad  to still be alive. We go back two years. Connor and Devlin are out doing nothing in the city. Devlin gets hit by a car driven by Connor's dad. The dad survives, but now his best friend is dead instead. That's not what Connor wanted. Because his dad wouldn't have been the same after he killed Devlin anyway. He would've become a depressed alcoholic. So back to the way things were. The dad swerved to avoid hitting the woman and her kid and he dies. (must have been driving VERY fast on a city street to actually die...) We learn that Connor's mom was pregnant at the time of the accident and he actually have a 2 year old sister who wears a Fairy Princess outfit that their mother wore when she was 2. Marnie hurts her knee and Connor tends to her and gives her his long forgotten teddy bear from the beginning. It's all very nice. Characters are fine. Dialogue could use some work and at times be cut entirely, but overall, it's nice. Just too long. A 14 minute film...

That pretty much sums it up. Everyone was so confused when they read this. Maybe the rewrite made it clearer. I dunno. I think taking it out of the genre of a time travel story lends a little clarity to it.

Nobody ever complained it was long winded. Just confusing. But I agree that it should be trimmed. When you look at it from a different perspective, I guess it needs to be more succinct and to the point. I did fill this with a ton of description as it was the first script I wrote that featured a much different style than I had used previously.

Thanks again. Salt taken.

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