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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    The May 2021 Challenge  ›  Billy's Choice - May3
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Don
Posted: May 28th, 2021, 5:54pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Billy's Choice by Fork in the Road - A Japanese man's life might have turned out very differently.  Short, Drama


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Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  May 28th, 2021, 7:22pm
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: May 29th, 2021, 5:25am Report to Moderator
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That was well written and I love the Japanese cultural aspect and the comic book, Magic the Gathering touches. They added a nice layer to the script.

I just couldn't figure out the story. I followed it to page 2 and then couldn't quite figure out what was going on after that or what the story was. I'll check back on this to see what other people think as I may have missed something but I read it twice.


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eldave1
Posted: May 29th, 2021, 5:24pm Report to Moderator
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It’s official – creative fonts and pictures on the title page no longer forbidden. I think this is the 4th one in this challenge and I liked them all.

Error on the first header


Quoted Text
INT. HI-RISE CONDO ORNATE LIVING ROOM – DAY


Should be:

INT. HIGH RISE CONDO-  ORNATE LIVING ROOM – DAY

Same error throughout.

Supers would help you here – I have no idea the time setting for these scenes and that makes the story very confusing and disjointed.

This:


Quoted Text
beloved husband to Lauren, father to Charisma and Logan.


Is mostly unfilmable.

There's something here - but it's a bit dense and a bit chaotic at the same time. Hard to get my mind around. Like I said - I think something explaining where we are in time would have helped.

Meets all the parameters.


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Spqr
Posted: May 29th, 2021, 7:52pm Report to Moderator
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Nice. One guy, two possible futures, all of it depending on which door 16-year-old Billy chooses to enter. Though both lives end tragically, Bill at least something important behind to be proud of (his kids), while William left a comic book collection.

Working the lives backwards, but still linearly, seemed like a way to meet the letter of the challenge, if not the spirit. But it turns out that was the only way to lend significance to the choice Billy had to make.
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PKCardinal
Posted: May 30th, 2021, 1:35pm Report to Moderator
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I liked the Bill side of the story. Couldn't care at all about the William side of the story. Just had no feelings for him/his wife whatsoever.

I believe what you're trying to set up is this: Bill makes an early choice. Then we watch how both would have played out for him. Except, the William side of the story doesn't feel like how it would have played out for Bill. He wouldn't have been a completely different kind of person.

If that's what you were going for, I think it would have been far more interesting to see a version of Bill's life that was broken, but broken in a way that made sense for him.

If that's NOT what you were setting up... then I'm sorry, I completely whiffed.


PaulKWrites.com

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Zack
Posted: May 30th, 2021, 2:00pm Report to Moderator
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Don't get it right. Get it written.

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Writing is a bit messy, but nothing too bad.

Another one where the story is just lost on me. The structure just keeps pulling me out, if that makes sense. Makes it very hard to focus.

Sorry, but this one doesn't work for me. Good effort though.


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AnthonyCawood
Posted: May 31st, 2021, 7:34pm Report to Moderator
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Liked this one, two realities playing out backwards to the point where they could have diverged.

Feels a little over written in places, but only a little and made up for with two interesting version of what could be.

Good effort


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
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Matthew Taylor
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 11:45am Report to Moderator
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Hi Writer


Quoted Text
Lauren lays on the sidewalk



Quoted Text
chubby man laying in a pool of blood


I'll get there before Libby does - she lies on the sidewalk, and the chubby man is lying in a pool of blood.


Quoted Text
LAUREN
It was a fucking hate crime! They
thought Bill was Chinese...

She sobs when she turns to a somewhat chubby man laying in a
pool of blood, beaten beyond recognition. This was BILL (44),
beloved husband to Lauren, father to Charisma and Logan.

LAUREN
... and beat him to death. How does
this happen in broad daylight?!


This is an odd conversation to have whilst still lying prone on the floor.


This is a great idea, like a reverse Sliding Doors. A lot of overwriting and I'm not entirely sure why a lot of things happened - both suffer tragic endings (although the getting beaten because of his perceived race didn't really seem like a consequence of his life choices, like how William died - but maybe that was the point, I don't know. Would seem more fitting if he was beaten because he was dressed up for comic-con, some people get really don't like anyone who dresses alternatively)

This is a great idea and is worth a rewrite or two - as it is it feels messy and lacks "something" that should bring it all together.

It also makes the opening scene a little odd, looks like both timelines have merged into one, unless Lauren is talking about a different husband or the broker is talking about a different William.

Nice effort though


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Gum
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 11:57am Report to Moderator
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I really struggled to keep my bearings in this tale, had to go back and forth a few times but I think I get the gist of it. It’s thickly layered with characters, names, and multi-cultural diversity that may or may not be required to successfully move the story along – keeping it less confused that is. I get you needed a racially motivated hate crime to move the story along at some point, but there are people out there who are ignorant enough of minutia outside of their own perceived beliefs, that they would easily harm someone from just looking at them the wrong way, different race or not.

Not saying you went the wrong route, just wondering if trimming the fat in places where it’s not needed might enable a less confusing read. The script itself sends a message of morality re: the collector and the treasures pursued, but never in a sense that you should lose sight of the most important things in life, the comic can be replaced after all.

In the end, as you’ve stated here, it all comes down to choices, and I think the choices you made regarding the overall structure and story are up to par for the challenge. Best of luck.


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Cacutshaw
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 12:00pm Report to Moderator
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Man, that Billy can figure shit out better than Sherlock Holmes. I take it he's psychic.

I really dug the story of a boy having to choose two separate paths, though it's obvious which one he should lean into since the comic guy is the one with a lot more story devoted to. My only criticism is both stories end pretty badly, one a cocaine overdose and the other a hate crime. I would think Billy might try another direction unless there is something in the story limiting him to those two choices.

Still, a very interesting read that uses non-linear storytelling very well.
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JEStaats
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 6:45pm Report to Moderator
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No sh*t, there I was....

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So, I get it. You made me work for it instead of just telling us that Bill and William are the same person from the start. The reader shouldn't have to figure that out or else you'll lose their interest (see some preceding comments). That said, I liked it. It needs a rewrite to make it more clear. Funny that they both named a son Logan but with different mothers. Did they look the same (same casting?) or totally different?
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spesh2k
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 7:04pm Report to Moderator
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I have no idea what this story is about. As an Asian American, it was cool to have Asian American characters... BUT... having two Japanese Americans with essentially the same name (William, Bill) confused the shit outta of me. And then there's a young Japanese American named Billy at the end... which I didn't quite get. The actual writing was very solid, but I just couldn't follow this. I didn't see a connection to the two parallel stories. Good effort, though. It just wasn't for me, though.

-- Michael


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ReneC
Posted: June 1st, 2021, 8:24pm Report to Moderator
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I think this would have been a lot clearer if you'd just said flat out that Bill and William are the same person.

What confuses is that you have them as distinct people interacting. We see one through the window of the other's home. One refuses the insurance of the other. So this becomes an allegory, where anyone could be William and anyone could be Bill, because it isn't about who they are, it's about the fallout of that one decision made by Billy at 16.

The most interesting thing here is that both versions die terribly at 44 years old. It doesn't matter which one Billy chooses, when your time is up, it's up. The allegory becomes clear here, it's about what we leave behind. Focus on wealth and a hedonist lifestyle and you leave stuff that's priced to clear. Focus on personal fulfilment and happiness and you leave behind a family who loves and misses you but who will go on after you're gone.

The writing is good, but it doesn't quite achieve the complexity of the story. It's a high bar to reach, but worth the attempt with a rewrite. Really focus on the purpose and bring visuals that reinforce the theme. This could be exceptional with some more work.


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MarkItZero
Posted: June 2nd, 2021, 2:26pm Report to Moderator
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Writing is pretty good. I tried hard to follow this, couldn't quite get there. After reading what Rene said, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what you were going for.

In which case, I love what you're trying to do here. It's complex and wildly ambitious. Also way out of my depth.

I'll throw the obligatory give both paths a clear goal - the Spawn issue #1 comic for example. The Bill version he could be searching for this rare comic as a gift for his kids. The William version he's desperately trying to sell it to pay debts/buy cocaine. I dunno, somehow the comic could be a greater focus in both paths and give a framework you can build around.


That rug really tied the room together.
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mmmarnie
Posted: June 3rd, 2021, 11:44am Report to Moderator
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The idea here is very good. Sad Bill was doomed either way.

You describe Bill as "American-born", Japanese. How would we know that besides you telling us?

I think you chose a great way to approach this challenge, but honestly, I just wasn't pulled into either of Bill's lives. I felt bad for Bill the Dad, but still didn't really feel a connection.

Really good idea though. Just needs a bit more work to create a stronger impact.


ZERO tolerance for RUDE people.
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