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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Horror  /  Emerald
Posted by: Don, April 1st, 2018, 9:10pm
Emerald by Sean Elwood - Short, Horror - A lost man on a journey makes a terrifying discovery. 22 pages - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

Posted by: Zombie Sean, April 2nd, 2018, 11:27am; Reply: 1
Thanks for getting this up so quickly, Don.

To all, this was more of a practice of writing for me than anything else. I'm not yet sure what I want to do with this script, if anything. Just wanted to tell a story and spruce up my writing.

As always, anything helps! Thanks for reading!
Posted by: Dreamscale, April 3rd, 2018, 3:41pm; Reply: 2
Hey Sean, I read the entire script, believe it or not, and wanted to give you some feedback.

Sadly, I don't have great news here.  IMO, this is WAY overwritten, very thin in terms of story, plot, and characterization, and very predictable, making it very anticlimactic in the end.

You've got a full 21 pages of writing, but you could easily do this, without losing a single scene, in 12 or so pages.

Writing-wise, lots and lots of mistakes on every page.  Slugs are not well done. MiniSlugs not correctly used.  Almost every single opening line of a new scene repeats the Slug, which you literally never want to do.  Writing is awkward throughout.  Way too many adjectives in your descriptions.  Too many unnecessary exclamation points.  Too many transitions.  Scenes not set well visually.  Andrew's dialogue does not sound remotely realistic.

I wish I had some positives, here, bro, but hopefully this does help and make sense.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, April 3rd, 2018, 4:11pm; Reply: 3
Hey, at least you gave it a read (and read the whole thing too!)

Any criticism is constructive criticism to me, even if none of it is positive.

Thanks for the words of advice, I will see what I can do with it all. This is an early draft, so criticism is what I came here for to work on it and make it, as well as my writing in general, better.

I'd love it if you went into a little more detail and pulled examples of what I did wrong, what exactly wasn't necessary to be able to shorten it, even how the scenes were not set well visually (because, c'mon, I went into quite a bit of detail with some of these scenes), etc. Going off of what you've told me will prove to be difficult as you've given me a general idea of what to look for, but no clear direction on where to start. How are the slugs not done well? How is the writing awkward? What makes Andrew's dialogue unrealistic? How many adjectives are too many adjectives?

I can work off of what you've told me, but I'm curious as to why you think what you think, instead of just saying what you don't like without backing up with evidence as to why you don't like it.

But, in the end, a critique is a critique, and I do want to thank you for putting in the time to read this!
Posted by: Dreamscale, April 3rd, 2018, 5:07pm; Reply: 4
I will open the script up again and give you  examples of each issue I brought up.
Posted by: Dreamscale, April 3rd, 2018, 6:19pm; Reply: 5
OK, my work day is about done, so I've got a few minutes.  Here we go...

Opening Slug - RIVER.  This really isn't quite right, IMO, as nothing takes place on or in the river.

Opening line - "A very wide river that slowly carries water downstream." - First of all, you're repeating the Slug in the opening line of the passage that follows, which is a mistake, as it's redundant and a waste of words, as we know where we are, based on the Slug.  Secondly, this is a passive "sentence", and really not a sentence at all, because of your use of "that".  Using "that" also makes this awkwardly phrased.  Finally, the whole line just doesn't say anything - rivers all carry water downstream - we know this, so there's no reason to include this.

Next passage again states "the river".  You don't want to repeat things and/or use words/phrases that we already understand.

"Andrew lays..." - "Andrew lies..." - Lies/lays - read up on this.

"Heís drenched with the river water, and his skin looks pale in the moonlight."

If he's wet, one would have to assume it's because he's lying next to a river, so "river water" is unnecessary.  The 2nd part of this sentence is again overwritten -
"looks pale" - OK, if his skin looks pale, then it probably is, right.  We already know the moon is shining, so it's unnecessary.

This sentence could easily be rewritten to, "He's drenched and pale."  Or something to that point.

"A bleeding gash is on his forehead." - This is passively written again, because of your use of "is".

We could very easily combine this with the above rewritten sentence to be a short and to the point "He's drenched and pale, a bleeding gash on his forehead."

You used 6 passages to show the river and Andrew lying there next to it with a gash on his forehead, but do we really get anything extra out of this half page vs. 2 or 3 passages?  I don't think so.

New Slug incorrect - this is not an INT scene.  He's outside still.

Not sure what the "----" thing is, but if I were you, I wouldn't use it...especially not to transition into a new Slug - BUT, is this really a new Slug?  I said earlier that the opening Slug really wasn't accurate.  This river is in the woods.  Yeah, he's definitely gong into a new area, but it's actually where a Mini Slug would work well.  Lots of ways to improve this with some thought and experimentation.

The DISSOLVE TO stuff is completely unnecessary and as far as I can see, not correct, either.  But, if nothing else, you've wasted 6 lines by using them.

Your next Slug - ROAD, although technically not wrong, isn't great by any means.  And, the way he just comes to the road doesn't seem right, as written.  You know what I'm saying?  The woods can't just stop at pavement.  There is space next to all roads...maybe just a few feet on each side, but some space for sure.  You can't exit some woods and stumble onto pavement.

Look at your 1st passage here - again, you repeat "road", and you also mention that this road is surrounded by woods - we know tis already, as he just came out of the woods to get to the road.

Next passage again uses road and it's just completely unnecessary.

Final passage - "He takes it as a sign and turns left, begins his journey down the road."  There's that dreaded "road" again!  Check this out.  You can save a line by simply cutting off, ", begins his journey down the road".   And it means, and shows the exact same thing.

Nothing technically wrong with using LATER as a Mini Slug, but understand that in a filmed version nothing has really changed - you'd have to fade out and then fade back in to show the passage of time.

"Civilization at last!" - Pet Peeve of mine using an aside like this and also using an exclamation point.

The transition that leads into the next Slug is again very awkward, especially with the ---- thing.  And, how is a road different than a street?  How does the road suddenly become a street?

The 3 passages under the STREET Slug are all a waste, IMO, as well as overwritten, and visually misleading.  Check this out...

"Andrewís jogging comes to a stop as he looks at all of the
buildings." - We can't visualize this at all, as there isn't any visual info, but if nothing else, you end in an orphan and could easily have saved a line, by omitting "all of".

"He continues down the street, peeks through a window or two,
just to see if anyone is still open for business, or just
closing." - Another wasted line with a completely unnecessary orphan, but there's more - these buildings are right alongside the street, are they?  He would have to walk up to each building from the street to peek into any windows.  But the last part is a total unnecessary aside that wastes 2 whole lines and shows us absolutely nothing.

"He looks down the dark alleyways----not even a sign of a
dumpster cat or stray dog." - Up until now, you never mentioned anything about "the dark alleyways", and the last part about cats and dogs has absolutely nothing to do with anything, and is again, a useless aside.

Final line is again an awkward transition to the new Slug, based on both the use of "to an" and your "----".

Is INTERSECTION a necessary new Slug?  I don't think so, as it's still part of the street.

And, read your opening line again under this new Slug - you repeat the Slug again, and using "walks to" is just plain awkward.

That's the first 2 pages.  You could very, very easily cut out well over a 1/2 page and lose absolutely nothing.

Hope this clarifies and helps, bro.

Posted by: Kirsten, April 8th, 2018, 7:24am; Reply: 6
Hi Sean,

Even though the story is overwritten I enjoyed the slow pace at the beginning. I figured that it was an attempt at creating a creepy, mysterious atmosphere. I enjoyed the story and the atmosphere right up to the part where he is chasing Katie and she jumps off the bridge. I thought ahhh, he is dealing with his loves suicide, and maybe he is dead himself after driving his car off the road in grief...

But then I got confused and wasn't sure what was going on with him being back in town with the party goers. I skim read through him crashing his car and dying because I just wanted to know if it was going to go somewhere other than him dying. I don't know, it's probably more cerebral than my brain can handle this morning.


I really liked this action line, it gave me a good strong visual... 'Andrew BURSTS from the wall of people and stops.'

This action wasn't logical.. "Andrew falls to the ground, then looks up at the partiers
who stand before him. He clumsily stands to his feet. He walks down the cracked pathway and through the SQUEAKY front gate. He nearly stumbles into a GROUP OF PARTYGOERS,
but they pay no mind to him."
He falls over right outside the house so no party goers are on the property. So none can be standing before him at that point.

You did a good job with showing the love he has for Katie, it seemed deep and real, but when you have him calling her a bitch twice, it was jarring, very out of place, because it didn't fit his feelings. I liked the scene between him and the Mystic, very atmospheric.

I could see this taking place in New Orleans!



Posted by: eldave1, April 8th, 2018, 11:11am; Reply: 7
Sean: gave this a read.

The story confused me.  I read it twice to see if I was missing something then wrote down what I saw as the key plot points. They are:

SPOILERS

1. Andrew on the shore - head damaged.

2. Andrew walks thru an empty town.

3. Andrew finds a mysterious house - belongs to a mystic.

4. Andrew sees a mystic - divulges his lost love. Remembers something about driving

5. Andrew now drunk from spiked tea - goes to the outside, the house disappears and now it's practically Mardi Gras. Streets filled with people.

6. Sees a vision of Katie - follows her thru the streets

7. To the river bridge - she jumps off. He just misses saving her.

8. He dives in the river and finds the car with Katie - now corpse like trying to take him down/keep him trapped - he tries to escape but cant's - the car goes downward

9. Now Andrew - drunk - back on the street stumbling thru party goers - calling for Katie. Andrew finds his car at he end of that street

10. Get in it - drives it into the river - suicide.

11. But then when underwater regrets it - tries to escape - can't.  He dies.

If I got that right...

- What caused the gash on Andrew's forehead in the opening scene?

- If Katie jumped from the bridge (looking like a suicide) - why do we find her in a submerged car?

- Did Katie's suicide (or murder - not sure anymore at this point) take place a long time ago (i.e., given the deteriorated state of her body in the car)?

- Why are the streets empty and then suddenly filled with party goers?

- Why is the Mystic imaginary?

So what I get is that Andrew's heart was broken by Katie. And in a drunken stupor he takes his own life by driving his car off the bridge. Everything else is  unclear to me. Did Katie kill herself or did Andrew killed her due to his heartache? Or maybe that's all a figment of his imagination and Katie is alive and well somewhere. What caused Andrew's injury in the opening scene? etc. etc.

Hope these notes help. A long winded way of saying it's hard for me to provide constructive notes on the story because I didn't understand it. Maybe it's me and I need more coffee (early out here). Best of luck with it.


Posted by: colkurtz8, April 27th, 2018, 10:22am; Reply: 8
Sean

I dug the patient build up to this, particularly in the first 4 pages until Madam Mallory appears. Some will get fed up at the perceived overwriting but I always believe if itís well written then itís a plus and enriches the read. It helps paint a scene, immerse us in the world created in ways leaner writing cannot. I think you succeeded in that regard here.

I had to chuckle at Madam Malloryís description, I mean, isnít she your textbook, creepy old woman who may or may not be a witch or what? Just missing the pointy black hat and broomstick. The poor wretch wouldnít have stood a chance in 1690s Salem.

Iím thinking Andrew should be a little bit more freaked out by where he is and who heís with. He seems remarkably calm and assertive when asking to use the phone. Iíd be much more on edge. Then again, he does wake up in a field at night time with a gash and appears to have stumbled into some ghostly nether world so I suspect all is not ďrightĒ with him or his environs.

It amused me how when Madam Mallory starts talking rather ominously about the town having no name, being a place for lost souls, etc, Andrew just sort of ignores the implications, pretends as if its normal and enquires about a lift to the hospital. I wonder could he have more of a reaction here? Not fear, as presumably heís not taking her literally, but could he at least express incredulity at Madam Malloryís statements?

Again, I think we should get some reactions from Andrew once Madam Mallory starts going on about the cards. He seems all too willing to engage with her. Perhaps this is down to his injuries, the world in which he finds himself, maybe he is under some spell...Reading on...

ďAndrew looks down at his tea. He picks up the cup and slowly
sips on it,Ē

- Shit, bro, I would NOT be drinking that stuff. Iíll take my chances on the road, thank you very much.

ďAndrew becomes uneasy.Ē

- Only now? Iíve been on tender hooks since he entered the house. The dude is an ice man!
I love the abrupt transition from the quiet, dark house to the bacchanalia in progress outside.

Very cinematic writing throughout this I have to say. There is a lot of care and attention put into the imagery which I appreciate. It will turn others off but I could easily visualise it on screen.

From the juxtaposition of the busy town with the desolate woods to the billowing emerald figure of Katie gliding through it, to her falling off the bridge, to the vivid underwater scenes which, at first, reminded me a little of ďYou Were Never Really HereĒ or ďAll is LostĒ...until becoming decidedly more macabre in nature. This is certainly an eye feast!

So much for taking Madam Malloryís advice and following the green emerald...down to your death at the bottom of a river. I knew that bitch wasnít to be trusted!

ANDREW (V.O.)
Is this a good idea?

- Well, if this is some alternative timeline, a second chance, and your first attempt ended up with you drowned, this is probably a better option to take this time...although I can only guess where this car is going to end up...

Iím a little perplexed by how this eventually shakes out. According to Madam Mallory, he needed to accept his fate, to not resist change and follow his chosen path through instinct/intuition...at least that was the impression I got from her instructions. Oh, and if you see an emerald you are on the right path.

However, in the first instance, Andrew does just that, yet ends up dead. In the second, he chooses a different way...but still ends up dead. I thought the script would loop around with him escaping the car and ending up on the bank where it all began.

Instead, itís sort of a ďDamned if I do, damned if I donítĒ scenario so what are you trying to say here? Is it almost like a Final Destination thing where Andrewís card was marked, his days numbered, he was due to die and no amount of foreknowledge or second chances are going to change that?

If so, that is rather frustrating, a pre-ordained degree of fatalism that renders events here pretty much moot.

As youíll see from my comments, I still really enjoyed the experience for the most part. I loved the relish you took in visual terms, the forlorn tone, those pangs of regret, the disorientation of Andrewís mind frame, the quasi-gothic atmosphere.

I just donít know if it amounts to much in the end, would love to hear your intentions with it.

P.S. Looking back over the script, Iím wondering did I misinterpret the P.O.V. at the end. I originally took it as Andrew sinking down with the bubbles rising but is he ascending toward the emerald surface instead to safety? It would make more sense narrative-wise.

Even if this is the case though Iím still scratching my head as to the point of it all. Besides it having a neat circular structure, I donít really know anything about Andrew other than he misses his girlfriend and is an irresponsible driver. Yet who, for whatever reason, has been given an opportunity to enter this purgatory of sorts and get another chance at life.

Is the implication that Katie was in the car with him when he crashed? Did he drive off the bridge on purpose in a suicide mission? i.e. ďIf I canít have her, no one can.Ē Or had he already killed her? (hence the decomposition) and was essentially burying her with the car at the bottom of the river.
I donít know, just speculating, itís difficult to determine as itís currently written.

P.P.S. Have you ever seen Carnival of Souls? It feels like a major influence here.

Col.
Posted by: LC, April 27th, 2018, 6:27pm; Reply: 9
Quoted from Col:
'Iíve been on tender hooks since he entered the house.'

Damn you, auto correct.  ;D

Posted by: colkurtz8, April 29th, 2018, 1:19pm; Reply: 10

Quoted from LC
Quoted from Col:'Iíve been on tender hooks since he entered the house.'
Damn you, auto correct.  ;D


- Ha, I would like to be able to blame auto correct but I always thought it was that, not "tenterhooks".

Now I know, cheers. Everyday is a school day.
Posted by: Dreamscale, April 30th, 2018, 7:53pm; Reply: 11
Where's Sean?  Dude, bro, man...lots of peeps giving you their valuable time and no responses from you.

That's a big bummer to me.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, May 9th, 2018, 3:19pm; Reply: 12
Hi everyone! I am so sorry that I've been absent. Work has been busy and stressful for me these past few weeks and I haven't had the chance to check up on these boards in a hot minute.

Thank you to all of those who had read this short script. Your comments are all very helpful. To go into further detail...

Dreamy--

Thank you for going into further commentary regarding the formatting of my script. It was extremely helpful and I want to follow your advice to really clean up this piece of work. You've pointed out a lot of redundancies so I'm going to focus extra hard to clean those up. I want the script to read as fluidly and clean and quickly as possible. Even though you went into more detail for the first two pages, I can use your comments to clean up the rest of the script. I'll see if I can shave off some pages, too. Oh, and the "----" is a formatting error. I hate how that ended up looking. I think I've fixed it already but I'll double check.

Kirsten--


Quoted Text
But then I got confused and wasn't sure what was going on with him being back in town with the party goers. I skim read through him crashing his car and dying because I just wanted to know if it was going to go somewhere other than him dying. I don't know, it's probably more cerebral than my brain can handle this morning.


So, this story is supposed to be your typical "ghost story" where the "ghost" is in search of the love of his life, forever and ever. Kind of like the ghost of a woman waiting for her husband to return home from war. Unfinished business. A personal weight holding a character back from moving on in the afterlife. I can go into further explanation if you want.


Quoted Text
This action wasn't logical.. "Andrew falls to the ground, then looks up at the partiers
who stand before him. He clumsily stands to his feet. He walks down the cracked pathway and through the SQUEAKY front gate. He nearly stumbles into a GROUP OF PARTYGOERS,
but they pay no mind to him."

He falls over right outside the house so no party goers are on the property. So none can be standing before him at that point.


You make a great point. I'll fix that.


Quoted Text
You did a good job with showing the love he has for Katie, it seemed deep and real, but when you have him calling her a bitch twice, it was jarring, very out of place, because it didn't fit his feelings. I liked the scene between him and the Mystic, very atmospheric.


Also a good point, I'll try and make it a bit less jarring. It is supposed to be him in a drunken stupor and being drunkenly angry at her for leaving him.


Quoted Text
I could see this taking place in New Orleans!


That's where I pictured this taking place!

El Dave--


Quoted Text
- What caused the gash on Andrew's forehead in the opening scene?

- If Katie jumped from the bridge (looking like a suicide) - why do we find her in a submerged car?

- Did Katie's suicide (or murder - not sure anymore at this point) take place a long time ago (i.e., given the deteriorated state of her body in the car)?

- Why are the streets empty and then suddenly filled with party goers?

- Why is the Mystic imaginary?

So what I get is that Andrew's heart was broken by Katie. And in a drunken stupor he takes his own life by driving his car off the bridge. Everything else is  unclear to me. Did Katie kill herself or did Andrew killed her due to his heartache? Or maybe that's all a figment of his imagination and Katie is alive and well somewhere. What caused Andrew's injury in the opening scene? etc. etc.


- The gash was caused by Andrew hitting his head on the steering wheel when he crashes into the bridge barrier fence.

- So, Katie never committed suicide in real life. She actually represents the path that Andrew had taken when he was alive. Since the car went over the bridge and into the water, she jumps off the bridge and submerges underwater. Andrew was never suppose to follow her into the water, and instead, he's being lifted up into the air under the shining light (i.e. ascending to Heaven or however you want to interpret it). The fact that Andrew fights this "transformation" and jumps off the bridge into the water brings on terrifying repercussions, as the Mystic had told him would happen, and he is faced with his terrifying final moments, as well as the decayed form of his ex-girlfriend.

- The streets are empty at first because he is a ghost in a ghost town. Once he's talked to the Mystic, she sort of puts him back into the "final moments" of his life, which are: him in this town full of partiers, and drinking--mainly due to the leaving of his now ex-girlfriend, getting into his car (drunk), and ultimately crashing off of the bridge and eventually drowning.

- The Mystic is not really imaginary. More of a Guide to the afterlife. She exists, just in another realm.

So, to summarize the story: Andrew wakes up on the shore of a river with a gash on his head. He travels through woods and empty roads until he stumbles upon a ghost town, where he talks to a Mystic that eventually sends him back into his "final moments" of life, to try and rectify his poor decisions and ultimately find the peace that he's been searching for. In order to do so, he must let go of his past, or in this case, the break-up between him and Katie, and let her go in order to move on. However, he fights this "transformation" and is instead sent into a limbo of heartache and an everlasting search for his love. A modern ghost story, should you say. I hope this clears things up.

Col.--

You make some great points about Andrew's reactions to everything. I believe I was going for the direction in which you pointed out, where he's in this "netherworld" where not everything makes sense, but he's too dazed and confused to question the smaller stuff. He does come off as a bit weary when he first enters Madam Mallory's home and when he first meets her. I'll see if I can work on him being a little more cautious with what she's saying in response to his questions.

I tried to make this script very visual, imaginative, surreal, and dream-like, so I'm glad to hear that you really enjoyed the descriptions and visuals. This script actually started as a short story, so that's why there are so many visuals contained within it. I don't want to come off as too overwritten and fluffy, though. I tried my best to tone down a bit when writing this and I'm glad to hear that it's worked out so far.


Quoted Text
Iím a little perplexed by how this eventually shakes out. According to Madam Mallory, he needed to accept his fate, to not resist change and follow his chosen path through instinct/intuition...at least that was the impression I got from her instructions. Oh, and if you see an emerald you are on the right path.

However, in the first instance, Andrew does just that, yet ends up dead. In the second, he chooses a different way...but still ends up dead. I thought the script would loop around with him escaping the car and ending up on the bank where it all began.

Instead, itís sort of a ďDamned if I do, damned if I donítĒ scenario so what are you trying to say here? Is it almost like a Final Destination thing where Andrewís card was marked, his days numbered, he was due to die and no amount of foreknowledge or second chances are going to change that?

If so, that is rather frustrating, a pre-ordained degree of fatalism that renders events here pretty much moot.


As I had mentioned above, this is like a modern day ghost story. Andrew is dead and a ghost the whole time in this story, except for the third act where he drunkenly drives off the bridge and doesn't escape the vehicle as it sinks down to the river bottom. Madam Mallory's advice was to help him move on in the afterlife. She warns him that if he resists this "transformation" (i.e. from the ghost-world to wherever we go when we truly "move on"), then he will be met with unfortunate consequences. He's almost "moved on" once he lets Katie go from his grasp on the bridge and she falls into the water (him lifting up into the air, the lamp post shining down on him and getting brighter and brighter--the light at the end of the tunnel, if you'd call it), but when he jumps off the bridge and into the water, he's met with the horrifying truth of his past. The dead, decayed form of the love of his life, being trapped in his car and essentially drowning again. Because he doesn't accept his fate, and dismisses the transformation that Madam Mallory told him to accept, he's stuck in a limbo going 'round and 'round for an eternity, searching for his lost love and never finding true peace in the afterlife. Madam Mallory is only a guide into the afterlife to help those move on. It's up to the soul/ghost themselves to truly decide how their fate ends up. With Andrew, he couldn't resist letting go of Katie, so now he's stuck in this limbo, reliving his final moments over and over again. I tried pulling that off with the very last line of action, where we hear the sound of water lapping at the shore of the river OVER BLACK.


Quoted Text
P.S. Looking back over the script, Iím wondering did I misinterpret the P.O.V. at the end. I originally took it as Andrew sinking down with the bubbles rising but is he ascending toward the emerald surface instead to safety? It would make more sense narrative-wise.

Even if this is the case though Iím still scratching my head as to the point of it all. Besides it having a neat circular structure, I donít really know anything about Andrew other than he misses his girlfriend and is an irresponsible driver. Yet who, for whatever reason, has been given an opportunity to enter this purgatory of sorts and get another chance at life.

Is the implication that Katie was in the car with him when he crashed? Did he drive off the bridge on purpose in a suicide mission? i.e. ďIf I canít have her, no one can.Ē Or had he already killed her? (hence the decomposition) and was essentially burying her with the car at the bottom of the river.
I donít know, just speculating, itís difficult to determine as itís currently written.

P.P.S. Have you ever seen Carnival of Souls? It feels like a major influence here.


You interpreted the POV correctly. He's sinking down with the car, and his shimmering bubbles from his last breath are rising up to the emerald surface. The very last line in the script was supposed to be the beginning of the script, showing that he's in this limbo going 'round and 'round for an eternity.

And, he's not getting a second chance at life, but rather reliving his final moments and given a chance to let go of his past in order to move on. The third act, where he drunkenly drives off the bridge and ultimately drowns, was just to show what really happened, and the poor choices he made that got him to where he was. Madam Mallory mentions that "the universe is not completely at fault" and that Andrew might've done things to get him to his present circumstances, which was driving drunk and ultimately getting himself killed, due to Katie breaking up with him and him not being able to let go of the past.

So, no, him driving off the bridge was not a suicide mission or a way to hide Katie's body (Katie is alive and well somewhere else). It was simply his mistake from driving drunk, and ultimately gets him killed and takes us to where we are when the script first begins. Katie represents the path that Andrew takes to his final moments, and the reason it is her is because she is what's holding Andrew back from truly moving on.

And yes, I've seen Carnival of Souls and completely forgot about that movie when writing this story. I love that film! I can see how this script is influenced by that movie!



Okay, I think I've covered everything. If anyone has anymore questions or needs more clarity, I'll try my best!

Thanks again everyone for reading this! And I'm so sorry for my late response! Work should be less hectic from now on.
Posted by: Philostrate, May 15th, 2018, 2:19pm; Reply: 13
Hey Sean!

I read the latest draft of the script and liked it.

Made me think of Joe Hill stories in 20th Century Ghosts.

It is a fine ghost story with a couple of pretty good scenes that somehow stayed with me after.

It starts a little slow for my taste but then it keeps improving over and over.

I liked the whole conversation with Madam Mallory and I think the sequence where Andrew jumps after Katie is both beautiful and daunting.

I didn't understand why Madam Mallory had him drugged or drunk at first, and I didn't like it, felt kind of out of place, but then made sense with the end.

I will suggest you to cut a little the first pages to fasten the pace or introduce a hook that gets our attention and makes us follow the long travel of Andrew through the woods without hesitation (maybe he sees and follows a mysterious girl on an emerald dress we can't see?).

Nice job Sean ;)

Keep up the good work!
Posted by: Zombie Sean, May 15th, 2018, 5:50pm; Reply: 14
Hey David,

Thanks for reading! Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. I've never read 20th Century Ghosts, but it's funny that you mention this being similar to a book of short stories. This script is actually an adaptation of a short story that I wrote myself. I figured I'd give it a go and see how it would translate as a script.

It does start off slow, and now that I look at it, it's 3 pages worth of action before any real dialogue comes into play. You do make a good point about the pacing at the beginning. I'm glad that the payoff was worth the slow beginning to you, but it makes me worried that readers will get turned off by the heavy action at the beginning (and the end). While a very visual script, I don't want it to be too description heavy. So now I'm trying to think of a way to shorten everything while still get the point across, or make it more interesting so that readers don't lose interest by page 2 or 3. I like the idea of Andrew seeing something within the woods to kind of get him going.

Thanks again for reading!
Posted by: colkurtz8, May 29th, 2018, 3:42am; Reply: 15

Quoted from Zombie Sean
I tried to make this script very visual, imaginative, surreal, and dream-like, so I'm glad to hear that you really enjoyed the descriptions and visuals. This script actually started as a short story, so that's why there are so many visuals contained within it. I don't want to come off as too overwritten and fluffy, though. I tried my best to tone down a bit when writing this and I'm glad to hear that it's worked out so far.


- Yep, it was a welcome change to the usual lean, mean but often colourless scripts one reads.


Quoted from Zombie Sean
As I had mentioned above, this is like a modern day ghost story. Andrew is dead and a ghost the whole time in this story, except for the third act where he drunkenly drives off the bridge and doesn't escape the vehicle as it sinks down to the river bottom. Madam Mallory's advice was to help him move on in the afterlife. She warns him that if he resists this "transformation" (i.e. from the ghost-world to wherever we go when we truly "move on"), then he will be met with unfortunate consequences. He's almost "moved on" once he lets Katie go from his grasp on the bridge and she falls into the water (him lifting up into the air, the lamp post shining down on him and getting brighter and brighter--the light at the end of the tunnel, if you'd call it), but when he jumps off the bridge and into the water, he's met with the horrifying truth of his past. The dead, decayed form of the love of his life, being trapped in his car and essentially drowning again. Because he doesn't accept his fate, and dismisses the transformation that Madam Mallory told him to accept, he's stuck in a limbo going 'round and 'round for an eternity, searching for his lost love and never finding true peace in the afterlife. Madam Mallory is only a guide into the afterlife to help those move on. It's up to the soul/ghost themselves to truly decide how their fate ends up. With Andrew, he couldn't resist letting go of Katie, so now he's stuck in this limbo, reliving his final moments over and over again. I tried pulling that off with the very last line of action, where we hear the sound of water lapping at the shore of the river OVER BLACK.

And, he's not getting a second chance at life, but rather reliving his final moments and given a chance to let go of his past in order to move on. The third act, where he drunkenly drives off the bridge and ultimately drowns, was just to show what really happened, and the poor choices he made that got him to where he was. Madam Mallory mentions that "the universe is not completely at fault" and that Andrew might've done things to get him to his present circumstances, which was driving drunk and ultimately getting himself killed, due to Katie breaking up with him and him not being able to let go of the past.

So, no, him driving off the bridge was not a suicide mission or a way to hide Katie's body (Katie is alive and well somewhere else). It was simply his mistake from driving drunk, and ultimately gets him killed and takes us to where we are when the script first begins. Katie represents the path that Andrew takes to his final moments, and the reason it is her is because she is what's holding Andrew back from truly moving on.


- Ok, thank you for the detailed response. You definitely have this one well thought out in your head and I appreciate that. You've crammed a lot in here that I'd probably get on a second read or if I saw it on screen but as you've gleaned from my notes, I didn't grasp it fully first time around. That's probably more on me but again, its good to see you attempt challenging material.

Col.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, May 29th, 2018, 11:46am; Reply: 16

Quoted Text
- Ok, thank you for the detailed response. You definitely have this one well thought out in your head and I appreciate that. You've crammed a lot in here that I'd probably get on a second read or if I saw it on screen but as you've gleaned from my notes, I didn't grasp it fully first time around. That's probably more on me but again, its good to see you attempt challenging material.


I completely understand how this story can be confusing and would probably take more than one read to get the full grasp of it. If it's any consolation, you're not the only one who got confused by this story. The story is rather non-linear, as we jump from present to past to even further past, all while seemingly happening at the same time. I think this script would be easier to understand if it were ever filmed as it is more of a visual script than anything. I wanted to go for dream-like, which can be confusing at some times, so I guess I succeeded?! Haha. If you think about it, the story is separated into three acts (which I thought about including in the script).

ACT I - Andrew wakes up and begins his journey as a lost man, meeting Madam Mallory along the way, who informs him of his journey and how to complete it, then sending him on his way.

ACT II - Andrew continues his journey, which is now portrayed as his final moments in life, following the path that he took that led to his death, starting from the town of partiers, along the winding deserted road, and to the bridge where he is supposed to 'move on' and let go of his past. Instead, he fights the transformation and holds on to his past, throwing him into an emotional, downward spiral of horror where instead of moving on into the afterlife, he's thrown into a limbo of reliving his death of drowning and faced with the horror of his emotional baggage.

ACT III - The truth to what happened with Andrew, how he started in the town as a drunk and got into his car. He drives along the winding road before his car drives off the bridge and into the river. There, he drowns. And the final line (the OVER BLACK) is supposed to assume that he's back at the river shore to start his journey all over again. He's thrown into a neverending loop of reliving his final moments again and again. A limbo, so you'd say. As a ghost.
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