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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    April, 2019 One Week Challenge  ›  Reap What You Sow - OWC Moderators: Zack
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  Author    Reap What You Sow - OWC  (currently 1021 views)
Don
Posted: April 19th, 2019, 8:39pm Report to Moderator
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Reap What You Sow by Warren Duncan (Warren) writing as A Simple Farmer - Short, Drama - Upon returning to her childhood home, a young woman recalls memories from her past. A past in which monsters were very real. 12 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  May 6th, 2019, 12:01pm
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: April 20th, 2019, 5:27am Report to Moderator
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Nice title, good logline.

The VO feels unnecessary. Be confident that what the audience will see will tell the story. VO to explain what is going on is sometimes a bad sign.

Abigail’s left hand, an obviously prosthetic hand. – Why not say, ‘wedged between the thumb and forefinger of her prosthetic hand’?

‘YOUNG ABIGAIL, 8, with both her original hands,’ reads weird. How about YOUNG Abigail, 8,   before the incident.

Then there’s the mother ‘one hand sits dutifully atop her husbands shoulder’ there’s an obsession with hands throughout this script.

I don’t get the Sowing title card.

Page 3, I think I see where this story is going but no vehicles yet

Finished it. A vehicle finally turned up at the end but there were no surprises. I worked out what was going to happen by page 3. I think the flashforward at the beginning ruins any such surprise as we know she survives, and we know she loses an arm right before the story begins.

Not a horror for me, more drama, but there was a suspenseful moment in the fields. Well done for entering.

-Mark



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IamGlenn
Posted: April 20th, 2019, 7:16am Report to Moderator
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Hi,

This one was well written, and a pretty good story. A sad one. Not much horror. I suppose the true horror is a father being capable of these offences, but it's not a horror.

Well written and good use of a vehicle.

Good luck


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currentcmine
Posted: April 20th, 2019, 12:22pm Report to Moderator
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Instead of a vehicle being the focus of a horror story, you have made a girl's sexual abuse the focus with the combine being the monster. A finely written story and one with heart.
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eldave1
Posted: April 21st, 2019, 11:25am Report to Moderator
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I friggin loved the Sow, grow, reap structure of this short along with the title cards - incredibly inventive.

The story was poignant and painful and especially well-written.

I don't have a dog in this hunt, but to me - the vehicle and horror aspects are a bit under-weighted given the challenges of the parameter.  

Outside of that - fantastic job.


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PKCardinal
Posted: April 21st, 2019, 5:38pm Report to Moderator
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"That wasn't my childhood." Nice.

This one's gonna be good, I can tell on page one.

Couple typos in first 3 pages. Not yet bothered by them.

"his hand flies through the air" Huh? Okay, I get it now. But, confusing at first. Consider rewriting the line.

("Wakey, wake --" Are you from Chicago? If you are, and, you're a diehard hockey fan, you'll understand my question... If you aren't... ignore the question.)

Okay, done.

Wow. That was really good. Only problem... it doesn't feel like horror to me. So, I'm not sure what to do with that.

Top notch, though.


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Dreamscale
Posted: April 22nd, 2019, 10:19am Report to Moderator
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Writing is good out of the gate, but gets a bit awkward near the bottom and top of Page 2.  The thing about the prosthetic hand could be written so much clearer and even save a line.  Opening passage on top of Page 2 is also very awkwardly phrased.

Page 3 - " opens the it ever so slightly" - delete "the"

"Through the ajar door she gazes into the --" - Very awkward again.  It's strange, as the majority of your writing reads so well, then every now and then, something like this pops up.

Page 5 - more and more awkward lines/phrasings showing up.  Maybe this was rushed?  Also, no horror whatsoever, other than these monsters Dad has warned of. Zero suspense in a vehicle.  Hope this changes soon.

Page 6 - "Donald’s in the middle of a bedtime story." - Lines like this are never a good thing is a script.

"He leaves to help Helen." - And this kind of line, which I'm seeing more and more are NEVER NECESSARY in a script.  You're telling us something we cannot know...but it's also something that we should assume, so bottom line is it's unnecessary.

Page 10 - "Could that be Donald?" - Oh no...don't go there...please, don't go there.  This is an aside that is completely and totally unnecessary.

OK, the end.

It's a well thought out script, and well structured, but for me, you went overboard with the changing times, and gave away what was going to happen very early on, which is a mistake, IMO.

The real problems though, are that there isn't any horror here.  There isn't any suspense in a vehicle, and for sure, very little vehicle time, period.  It doesn't qualify for these parameters, and I'm just wondering why you chose to go this route.

**



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AnthonyCawood
Posted: April 22nd, 2019, 6:43pm Report to Moderator
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This very well written, but to me it's a straight drama, a good one but doesn't really fit the parameters.

I think it's great though.


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
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ReneC
Posted: April 22nd, 2019, 10:36pm Report to Moderator
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This is brutal. It's good, and effective.

I see a lot of comments about giving everything away at the beginning, but I disagree. You set up a sense of dread that ran throughout. Yes, we knew what was going to happen, just like in those hints Zack gave us we knew what was going to happen with the shark. You told us what was going to happen right from the start, and then you made us go through it, uncomfortable in that knowing, dreading the moment when it comes. You did it very well, too.

Except, when it came down to it, you couldn't deliver because of the parameters of the challenge. This piece was brutal all the way up to Abigail losing her hand. The moment you absolutely had to show after all the lead up, her cradling her shortened limb, Donald's reaction, and you felt you couldn't, or so I suspect. A lot hinged on that.

I was okay with the V.O. at the start. It was effective and well done. The ending didn't quite sit right with me though. Maybe because of the exposition, maybe because of the time jump and the realization that nothing really came of it all. Abigail left because of the rape, but in the end you kind of proved Donald to be in the right. Donald seems to be let off really easy. He hung himself eight years later and it could have been for any number of reasons, starting with cancer from the pesticides. Now, if he'd left a note that tied directly to these events, that would have been a satisfying ending.

I have to agree that this wasn't really horror. A thriller, sure, but not horror. I don't dock for that though, you got inspired and wrote to the challenge and it's sure close enough to the mark for me.


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: April 23rd, 2019, 11:24am Report to Moderator
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Hello writer

This is a dark drama - sadly not a horror - although the father is horrific.

Very well written, structured - the title cards for the sow/harvest, etc were excellent and clever, everything really was top notch.

Only thing I am confused about, is Abigail and Helen dead? or was Abigail just injured in the accident? I think I am a bit slow on the uptake.

I'm not sure this entirely fits the challenge - outside of it, you have a great script.

You are clearly an accomplished writer.

Well done for completing the challenge

Matt


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Spqr
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A decent story that got the suspense, horror and twist right, but came up short on the vehicle end of the parameters. And I believe that setting most of the story in a vehicle was the whole point of the challenge. However,  I don't think this story wouldn't work as well in any other setting, so I'd leave it as it is.
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stevie
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Yeah this would win most other OWCs that were drama based. There is horror of course in the form of child abuse but the harvester as the vehicle is almost a throw in to fulfil the criteria.

Very well written but may not be in the voters mind at the pointy end of the week


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Dustin
Posted: April 25th, 2019, 1:59am Report to Moderator
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REAP WHAT YOU SOW

Code

An old, faded black-and-white family photo lies wedged between the thumb and forefinger of Abigail’s left hand, an obviously prosthetic hand.



This is the second sentence like this on the first page. The writing is good, but it could be tighter. You mention that her hand is prosthetic as an aside when you could just write it straight out.

An old, faded black-and-white family photo lies wedged between the thumb and forefinger of Abigail’s prosthetic left hand.

The first time you did it was in regard to the pink vanity table. You describe it in two sentences when it can take just one. This could also be an editing issue where you may not have had time to go through and tighten your action lines. I'm only pointing it out just in case you aren't aware of it.

Code

Helen dressed as a housewife should,



I don't understand this. You're the writer, describe things properly and well. I don't want to have to think for you in this regard.


A decent story, but middle-of-the-road for me.


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Britman
Posted: April 25th, 2019, 10:49am Report to Moderator
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This was well written, perhaps in my top 3 of best writing out of all the scripts read so far.

But it was light on horror and suspense with a vehicle absent for the most part. As others said more of a drama than horror so doesn't quite check all the OWC boxes for me.

Still, a nice well written story so congrats on that.


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bert
Posted: April 25th, 2019, 11:27am Report to Moderator
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This one has a lot going for it.  The structure is well thought out, and all the puzzle pieces fit together just so.

I don't have much to say -- there is very little to criticize here -- apart from niggling as to whether or not this script adheres to the spirit of the OWC assignment.  I'll leave that debate to others, but otherwise, this feels like a contender.  


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leitskev
Posted: April 26th, 2019, 1:29pm Report to Moderator
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Fantastic job!

Yes, there is horror. Both the monster father sexually abusing a child and the tractor.

Not much to add. Not sure if the moving vehicle requirement was met. The main character is never in that vehicle...well, briefly the car.

So maybe doesn't qualify, but still bravo on the work.
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JEStaats
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Is this titled 'Reap what you sow' or 'Sowing' like the title card? Hmmm.... Gotcha, chapter titles.

Well written and, farm equipment for vehicles, meets the challenge. Never a pleasant topic or subject, it is horrifying.

Well done, writer.
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_ghostwriters
Posted: April 27th, 2019, 9:11pm Report to Moderator
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Great work, writer.  A lot happens explicitly and behind the scenes in this.  Lean action/description, but has voice and nice pace. I can see all your characters. They're alive.  Nothing to rip, I'd only be nitpicking.  In the end, a story just has to work, and this does.  JMHO.  This is high up on my list.

One very small note.  based on the ending.  I could be wrong, but... I get the sense you may have been racing against the clock to get this in. -Andrea


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TheUsualSuspect
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It started out as horror with the 'monsters' in the field, but then you take that away. Even though this is really well written, you're relying too much on what one perceives as horror. The machines are monsters to the kid and in her eyes, this is a horror moment. The actions the father takes on his child are indeed horrific and again, in her eyes this is her horror story.

As others have said, this leans heavily into drama and despite having some of the requirements, it's walking a fine line.

If this were a non-horror challenge, this would be really good.


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Revision History (1 edits)
TheUsualSuspect  -  May 4th, 2019, 1:30am
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LC
Posted: May 4th, 2019, 12:23am Report to Moderator
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Hmm...

A very loose interpretation of the challenge parameters imho.

That 'hmm' above means I must confess to being heavily biased against sexual molestation/incest and child abuse tales. The only exception: Little Children & The Woodsman. Sorry, I've just reached saturation point with (viewing) this theme. As mentioned elsewhere OWC audiences seem to love this stuff - You and Reef (Bill) should get together. No offence to either of you btw, purely personal choice. Elevator Named Alice won him awards, I think, so what do I know.

A few notes/ suggestions:

Love the V.O. It works here, it's Abigail's voice, and it's not overdone.
A quite distinct American Gothic feel to the description of the photo.


I feel you have a passive way of writing (prose/verging on static) with some of your action lines. It suits the sombre vibe of the subject matter but beware of it detracting from pace. Contrasting highly dramatic points end up being inadvertently played down.

Example: His flat palm shuts her up. (that's so passive I think you distance the reader)
What we'd see: He slaps her across the face.
He raises his hand, slaps her hard across the face.

draws on some paper
Draws is enough, with textas, crayons, paint, perhaps? Perhaps have her brush dip in red paint for the beast's glowing red eyes?

pulls open the sheets,
pulls down the bedsheets

The fear on her face is evident.
Abigail’s pace has slowed significantly. She’s tired, her
eyelids weigh heavy.

Make us feel it:

Abigail, eyes wide (with fear,) races through the field, wheat whipping at her face
She pants, running out of breath,
she slows,

This section below could really be ramped up too. It's your high point of dramatic tension:

For a little girl she moves at quite a pace, the wheat whips
her face as she passes, then --

Suggestion: She's small, but she moves fast
She trips, falls hard, and cracks her head on the ground. Her
world goes black.

She trips, falls, cracks her head (on what?)
Everything goes black.
Blood runs from a large open gash on Abigail’s forehead.
I'd have her come to, put a hand or finger to the gash on her head, blood coming away on her fingers.
She lies motionless.
She lies still.
Holds her breath.
After a moment, her eyes gradually flutter open.
Her eyelids flutter. Or: She opens her eyes.
Daren't move -
The sound of the beast in the distance, gaining on her -
Her ears ring, but this slowly clears and is replaced with...
Her ears ringing.
the ferocious growl once again, it's closer still.
The ferocious growl again -
Getting closer-
Abigail tries to get up. Dazed, she falls back down. ( The world around her spins) She
tries again, but --
It’s too late, the beast is upon her.
Too late -
The beast is upon her
She turns, comes face to face with a combine harvester
She turns -
Comes face to face with -
The Combine Harvester
Its blades turning -
(describe from her POV the threshing of those rotating teeth/blades)
Drawing closer -
Abigail, rooted to the spot.
She screams -
Or:
She opens her mouth to scream.
No sound.


Likewise here:

Donald stares down in horror as he tries to slow the machine.

This is the high point of horror.
Donald's horror stricken face -
Describe the whine of the machine, the grind of gears as Donald, frantic, tries to stop, not slow it.

she makes eye contact with the driver --
With the driver?
This is her daddy at the wheel, right? Donald driving? So call him who he is to her at this moment.
Makes eye contact with her Daddy

I'm being picky obviously.
Minor pacing suggestions for suspense.

You write very well and evoked time and place and characters very nicely. I just think at certain points it calls for picking up the pace of what already is a cut above with the writing. Pun intended.

P.S. I had the same comments as others re a few other phrases which (I won't repeat) you'll probably iron out in the next draft.

Your spelling of: Mom, and pajamas, suggests U.S. origin.

I dunno about that...



Revision History (1 edits)
LC  -  May 4th, 2019, 12:43am
For clarity
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leitskev
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Just want to comment that those are really excellent notes by LC.
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Dustin
Posted: May 4th, 2019, 10:19am Report to Moderator
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Hailing from Birmingham in the West Midlands, I've always used 'mom'.


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Warren
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Take two...

So this is my… um… horror? It's clearly a drama and I know that, but this is what I came up with and I really liked it so I went with it.

I still think it's one of the better things I've ever written.

The whole sow, grow, harvest, reap follows not only the wheat’s cycle, but also the theme and cycle of the story.

Going back to something her father says about fear being a good thing that keeps her safe. In the end it's the fear of her father (the true monster) that drives her outside directly into the danger (the made up monsters) he was trying to protect her from. Then it all ties into him potentially commiting suicide because of the figurative monsters in his head ‘making’ him an abuser.

I also didn't go with one vehicle, I went with 3. The tractor, the biplane, and the combine harvester. These are the 3 monsters.

My suspense scene was meant to be at the end where Abigail is running from the harvester, but I was really hoping that the opening scene would cause the entire script to be somewhat suspenseful in anticipation of why she lost her hand.

I've made a few very minor changes to an updated draft that I've submitted to SS. I won't be making any more changes as this will clearly never be produced because of the budget.

Anyway, thanks for the reads and reviews, it seemed to be a mostly positive reaction despite this not really meeting the criteria of the OWC


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ericdickson
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I never posted my review of this but I did read and enjoy it to some extent.  And voted of course.  It feels like a Stephen King kind of vibe.  Maybe expand into a feature?  
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PKCardinal
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Nicely done, Warren. You're really cranking lately.

Maybe consider withholding the prosthetic arm as a reveal later. Showing it to us early really telegraphs the ending. If it's revealed in the final scenes, it might pack a pretty good punch.

That telegraphing was the only thing that held me back in my final eval. With that one change, I think you'd still have the foreboding that Rene pointed out, yet, there'd be some mystery as to how things play out.

Two cents.

Good luck with the script!


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LC
Posted: May 4th, 2019, 7:59pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
Hailing from Birmingham in the West Midlands, I've always used 'mom'.

Really, that's your spelling? Interesting... I thought Mom was intrinsically U.S.
Learn something new every day.

What about pyjamas, though?  


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Warren
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We say mom in South Africa as well, so it's quite natural for me to type mom without thinking about it. Mum still just doesn't sound right to me.


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Matthew Taylor
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Good Job Warren - I really liked this one.

Very clever and well written. You got talent.

Matt


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Warren
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Quoted from Matthew Taylor
Good Job Warren - I really liked this one.

Very clever and well written. You got talent.

Matt


Thanks, I appreciate it. I enjoy yours as well and thought it was going to be up the top near the end.

You're a good writer, you need to stop with the disclaimers about your ability, I think you know more than enough to be an asset to other writers on SS.


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Matthew Taylor
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Quoted from Warren


Thanks, I appreciate it. I enjoy yours as well and thought it was going to be up the top near the end.

You're a good writer, you need to stop with the disclaimers about your ability, I think you know more than enough to be an asset to other writers on SS.


That's kind of you to say. I guess it's because I haven't sold anything or had anything produced, feel a bit like a fraud giving advice to others lol the disclaimer is more of a warning to new writers who don't know me and may take what I say as gospel.



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Philostrate
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Hey Warren,

I read this one yesterday and really liked it - well written, with a crafted structure and a balanced mix of suspense and tension - but didn't comment because there was nothing left to say.

I agree that this is one of your best scripts, your writing has reached another level.

Good job!


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Philostrate
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Quoted from Warren

You're a good writer [Matthew], you need to stop with the disclaimers about your ability, I think you know more than enough to be an asset to other writers on SS.

I completely agree.



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CrackedAces
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I agree also!




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Matthew Taylor
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Ah shucks  

Thanks guys - I’ll tone down the disclaimer stuff lol


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Warren
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Quoted from Matthew Taylor


That's kind of you to say. I guess it's because I haven't sold anything or had anything produced, feel a bit like a fraud giving advice to others lol the disclaimer is more of a warning to new writers who don't know me and may take what I say as gospel.



I don't think having something sold or produced is nesassarily a gauge of talent.

For a very long time I wrote low budget horror with low budget filmmakers in mind. I think if you write enough of them, at some point you'll get something made just because that's what a lot of young, amateur filmmakers seem to want.

I'm much prouder of my dramas and comedies that my horrors in terms of the writing, but I'm also thankful that my horrors have given me a few credits and produced films.


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Warren
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 4:23am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Philostrate
Hey Warren,

I read this one yesterday and really liked it - well written, with a crafted structure and a balanced mix of suspense and tension - but didn't comment because there was nothing left to say.

I agree that this is one of your best scripts, your writing has reached another level.

Good job!


Thanks mate, appreciate the kind words


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Zack
Posted: May 14th, 2019, 8:10pm Report to Moderator
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Don't get it right. Get it written.

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Hey, Warren. I owe you a few reads, so here's one.

Really impressive writing on display here. Concise action descriptions, zero fat. Makes for a super fast read. No issues on this front.

Story-wise, this is right up my alley. I love how dark this is. I should take notes. You really draw the dad as an awful person without being too graphic. Pretty horrific stuff, here.

Like the use of a harvester as the vehicle, though I do think you could have milked the suspense just a bit more.

I also like the way you used Supers with the time jumps.

My only real suggestion would be to not reveal that Abigail has a prosthetic arm until the very end. I think it'll have more punch.

Still, this ticks all the boxes for me. Definitely one of the better entries that I've read. Great work here, Dude. I'll be coming back to this script for some notes.



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