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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    October, 2011 One Week Challange  ›  Condemned Sanctuary -  OWC
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  Author    Condemned Sanctuary -  OWC  (currently 4075 views)
Don
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 8:23am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Condemned Sanctuary by Malcom Bowman (scoob) - Short, Gothic Horror - A mother's candlelight vigil on the fifth anniversary of her son's death is interrupted by an unexpected guest. 11 pages, 5 characters, PG-13 Rating - pdf, format


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Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  October 29th, 2011, 4:56pm
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DarrenJamesSeeley
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 10:17am Report to Moderator
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Halfway in, I'm curious on how "frail" Liz gotten; on intro they are in thier 60s. The photo shows them in thier 50s.

I must say that there is a nice little capture of some goth emo here, although Tom's VOs on p4 got a bit drained. (and the diary ends on Halloween!) The conversation between Liz and Ghost had some nice moments in it, but I felt it went on a bit long. The ghost, at least, should speak fewer words. (That's my view) I'm also not into CAPS when a character shouts or italics.

Some grammar problems, ("The gang look at Christopher") on occasion but nothing too distracting, easy fixer ups.

Overall, not a bad read, but I was curious as to the time period. Some of it suggests that it takes place present day, which is fine (a gothic setting need not be in a previous century or two, 'southern gothic' and 'urban gothic' exist in some forms too) but then there's the youths ready to burn down the house...and I was with you there.
I was kind of hoping that they WOULD attempt to burn it down, while not knowing Liz was inside, but that they thought the ghost (or the ghost of the deformed child) haunted the place.

There were times were I thought the ghost was the dead son, but surprisingly, you didn't go there. (It should have been though)

While it is a biy talky, I think this is decent effort for a OWC.


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darrentomalin
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 11:15am Report to Moderator
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I enjoyed the story, the doalogue was ok, needs tightening, there is a hell of a lot that could be lost without taking the atmosphere away - the ghost's long, dramatic speaches became tiresome after a few pages.
I too was confused as to the era this was set in, the youths spoke modern "chill gramps" yet Liz uses a candle lamp?
Good work for a week.


http://darrentomalin.webs.com/index.htm

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c m hall
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 11:18am Report to Moderator
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Very good effort, for a OWC, I think.  
This story is complex and sustains the atmosphere needed to show layers of sadness in ruined lives.
Too much of the dialogue might be "scene setting" rather than genuinely interactive between characters (especially the scene between Liz and the ghost, Liz has emotional changes but mostly she seems to just vent).  Good effort, though.
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wonkavite
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 6:35pm Report to Moderator
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I think this one's got a lot of promise.  Granted, it was written quickly for the OWC.  But with a revamp, and polish - it could be something special.  And from what I've seen of the writing in this one, the guy (or gal's) got the chops to do it.

One of the bigger issues - IMO - is that the ghost is much too expository.  The tale needs to be much more subtle.  Establish in a flashback (or some other way) that Liz's has made a custom of visiting the house, and Tom's bedroom.

Show more of her pain and guilt (without her saying - "I have so much pain and guilt") that she didn't help Tom, while he was alive.  Show that she's developed a friendship of some sort with the ghost over time herself (ie: history's repeating itself.  First Tom, now Liz.)  Then - once she dies - there's the opportunity to start the cycle all over again, this time with Christopher.)

There's a ton to work with here.  Guilt, Liz's pain of loss, Tom's pain of being labeled a freak, shared loneliness with the ghost...  Add some layers and subtlety, and this could be veerrry nice.
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Electric Dreamer
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 6:36pm Report to Moderator
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This one subscribes to the literal interpretation of the OWC.
You started page one and two with the same “October leaves” deal.
Consider changing up your adjectives a bit more.
You’ve put a lot of effort into the atmosphere, too much for me.
The novelistic prose chunks my read. I struggle with it too.
Tom’s V.O. feels overly mature for a sheltered boy of 15.
The ghost’s dialogue is almost exclusively expository.
It’s talking heads syndrome, but only one is corporeal.
Thanks for playing OWC.

Regards,
E.D.


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el_syd
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 7:04pm Report to Moderator
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Liked the premise, though I have to agree it's a little too talky.  Perhaps some way of showing how the characters feel, rather than having them proclaim it might work better, especially in the case of the ghost.  There also seems to be a bit too much description for a screenplay.  Shorter paragraphs, fewer adjectives might help to tighten this up, as well as working for more subtext in the dialog.  What if they said something other than what they felt sometimes, but the way it was said revealed what they felt.

Good job, it shows promise.
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Reef Dreamer
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 6:20am Report to Moderator
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Hello Swimming Swan!

What I liked about this was the depth, the agony and the potential for conflict.

Other thoughts;

Over worded descriptions
Too many set up or exposure scenes for my taste-lots of blowing leaves!
The boy and the ghost had too much exposition
I thought Christopher could play more of a part, the conflict within
Arenas and how they cope, and we were left with him stabbed at the end which didn't seem to serve a purpose.

Good potential.

All the best.


My scripts  HERE

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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 2:16pm Report to Moderator
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This was a damned good script!!! For me, you nailed it. Maybe if I go back over it with a really fine comb I could help, but as it stands, you would have my vote.

I think it's really quite exceptional and I don't have anything bad to say at this point in time. If you have any questions later, then let me know and I'll give it another look.

I'm very impressed with this one.  

Sandra



A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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Ryan1
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 6:51pm Report to Moderator
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I have to say I'm not a big fan of talkative ghosts.  One or two words, okay.  But, when ghosts sit down for an extended chat, things get decidedly less spooky.  I started losing interest in the story as the dialogue between Liz and the Ghost went on and on.

Really went hard for the pathos in the ending, and I suppose this did fit into the owc guidelines.  Not bad, but I'd trim the ghost's dialogue...a lot.
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ReneC
Posted: October 17th, 2011, 11:44am Report to Moderator
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I like the tone, the pace is good, the action lines are descriptive and engaging. The dialogue needs a lot of work, it's on-the-nose and more like dialogue from a novel where everyone's speech is highly educated and verbose. There was no characterization in the dialogue, but tons of characterization in the action lines. There was too much exposition, some of it redundant such as Liz saying out loud that she misses Tom when it's been made painfully clear. This could be tightened into six wonderful pages, especially if you consider dropping the teenagers since they do nothing for the story at all.

You write well, you have a good sense of setting and tone, just work on the dialogue and saying more with visuals and less with dialogue.


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Breanne Mattson
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 2:23pm Report to Moderator
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Hmm. Interesting.

I’ve grown to hate descriptions that use words like varying, various, etc. It just sounds so easy and vague. Other than that little nit, the description is pretty good, although a little excessive. Closes an open window, for example, could just be closes the window.

All of the description leading up to a photo of Tom and all you can write is facially deformed? How about a better description? I know you’re capable of it.

A few grammar issues like it’s where it should be its. Not too many, though.

How can he give her a heart massage without opening her chest? Do you mean he pumps her chest?

I like the existentialism of the ghost’s exposition, but while it makes it interesting on one level, it’s frustrating on another since we don’t really learn anything about him.

Overall, I’m kind of on the fence about it. There were things I liked but as a whole it seemed a bit sedated. I think you should focus on trimming down general descriptions and flesh the ghost character out a bit more to make it more dynamic.

Good luck.


Breanne


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Dreamscale
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 2:43pm Report to Moderator
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Very over written.  Almost every sentence has an extra word or two, if not many more.

Although the action/description lines are all over written, your Slugs are under written, and lacking detail, IMO.

How many times were"leaves" mentioned in the first 3 pages?  Answer - ALOT!

I don't like the excessive V.O or the talking to herself by Liz.

The structure just seems off here and the heavy handed attempt at atmosphere isn't working for me.  I'm out on page 4.  Sorry.


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JCShadow
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 4:58pm Report to Moderator
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The story was okay but I have to say I almost bailed after just the first page. The narrative is bogged down with so many descriptive words that could easily have been left out.

I felt the Christopher character served no real purpose to the story and could have been removed entirely. The stabbing came out of left field and felt completely out of place.

I see a good story in this one if developed further.

Congrats on completing the challenge.

John



The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

Currently Working On:
The Devil's Brigade
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rdhay
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 7:53pm Report to Moderator
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I liked this one okay, but I think it has the potential to be a lot better.

My main thoughts:

The action (and sometimes the dialogue) is just too overwritten. You could easily shave pages off without losing any of the substance.

The conversation with the ghost was a bit drawn out. Combine that with the fact that the sequence goes from all action to all dialogue and it just feels like you missed the target.

I did like how you used the mother's love for her son to fuel the story, though I think you could do that a little more effectively. I imagine how I would feel if I lost one of my sons and then Liz's actions and dialogue seem a little too soft.

Good job!
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irish eyes
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 9:02pm Report to Moderator
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Pretty good for the OWC.

I don`t think the teenage kids were necessary, didn`t really add anything to the story and likewise I think Christopher should have been more involved.
A lot of long winding dialogue especially from the ghost, which loses it`s scary factor for me, the longer he talks.
Either way I made it to the end, so you must have did something right.
6/10 for me


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leitskev
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 9:36pm Report to Moderator
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If this is relatively early work, which I suspect it is, IMO you have much to be encouraged about. There's some solid writing, some decent dialogue, and you're playing with strong concepts and ideas, and the emotions they evoke.

I've mentioned this on other reviews for this OWC, let me say it here: don't describe too many things, no matter how good your descriptions. Don't try to literally create a film in our heads by describing everything pictured in it. Paint us the picture of a story, don't paint us a picture of a film. Give us what we need, let our imaginations do the rest. If we have to keep picturing blowing curtains and every other detail, it tires us out, slows us down. This was not too bad in that department, but the early pages were too descriptive, though the descriptions were generally good.

As for the story itself, I feel we need something more. Not sure what. A mother discovers a ghost, so immediately commits suicide, now that the afterlife is confirmed, so she can be with her son. I needed a more compelling reason for the suicide. And a more compelling reason why this tragedy is interesting beyond a mother misses her child.

I didn't buy the part about the kids torching the house. I really didn't buy their obsession with the dead boy.

In general, this was pretty well done. I can appreciate the effort that went into this, and I expect promising things in the future from this writer!
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 9:57pm Report to Moderator
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What if the Hokey Pokey, IS what it's all about?

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Again, I really did like this script a lot. I know, I could go over and vamp it up, but as far as my list of

ALREADY READS goes...

This one was highlighted with a yellow pen as being very good.

There's stuff like "October leaves" well, I know we don't need that. Leaves blowing in the wind tell us Fall/Autumn.

And other troubles, like the last line of Christopher's dialogue.

Still, I don't see why anyone, especially Ryan,  , should complain about dialogue with a ghost. Just because you've never been so fortunate, doesn't mean you should swipe it off like an irritating fly buzzing around. Remember Author, all of these opinions are just opinions, so don't let them affect your decisions completely. Take them, assimilate them, and discard what you don't feel is... well, discard what you don't "feel"-- what doesn't resonate with "you", personally.

Right now, I'm remembering "The Elephant Man" and I wasn't before. So it's just a thought, that you might work hard on "what kind of Freak". It's very powerful stuff and it hurts us all greatly when nature goes awry like that. We can't answer very well to such questions.

Sandra




A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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Zanej
Posted: October 20th, 2011, 7:50pm Report to Moderator
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Condemned Sanctuary
      by
Swimming Swan

Pg. 1 LIZ – “I'm not ready yet, Christopher” Christopher not needed.
Pg. 1 EXT. FIELD (2) – DUSK can just be EXT. FIELD – DUSK CONTINUOUS
Pg. 5 a series of shots could be used to explain the events in the beginning.
Pg. 8. YOUTH- “What's it look like? We heard screams in the freak house. We're gonna burn it down” Should be freak’s house
Pg. 9 instead of silent moments pass just use MOMENTS LATER: transition
Pg. 11 “Christopher tries a heart massage to resuscitate her” I would say begins CPR

I liked the whole story; it had good timing and good descriptors. I would recommend at least camera cuts between scenes CUT TO: DISSOLVE TO: ect.
I am new to screenwriting so any of my suggestions and comments please hold at a novice level, good work and thanks.
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: October 20th, 2011, 7:54pm Report to Moderator
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What if the Hokey Pokey, IS what it's all about?

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Quoted from Zanej

I liked the whole story; it had good timing and good descriptors. I would recommend at least camera cuts between scenes CUT TO: DISSOLVE TO: ect.
I am new to screenwriting so any of my suggestions and comments please hold at a novice level, good work and thanks.


Hello there, Zane!

From what I know, don't use those a lot, unless you're directing it yourself. I think it goes like:

Use with caution.

I have used DISSOLVE TO before, but I had a very strict purpose in mind.

Just wanted to bring that up.

Sandra



A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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greg
Posted: October 20th, 2011, 9:53pm Report to Moderator
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I think this has a lot of promise but also has a lot of issues.  First and foremost - this is hard to read.  Way overwritten, way too descriptive, way too sluggish.  Cut down on all of that.  

Story-wise there's so many heavy themes in here but the problem is they're not effective because possibly of a lack of pages as well as a lack of back story.  I mean, you got these kids who are burning down houses and knifing people.  IMO that doesn't stand well on its own and needs more backbone to support why these kids are so horrible.  Another thing is that I kept expecting Tom to appear...in fact, I expected Tom to be a pivotal character (as in actually in the scene, not just a VO or a back story) and I think the story would have worked better if he was.  The Ghost just doesn't do much.  He's just there.  

The other thing is I didn't like the ending at all.  Everybody dies in their sorrow.  There's no closure, there's no amends, there's nothing that was learned.  For the subject at hand I was expecting the ending to be a little more definitive, you know?  Like, I expected one of the characters to learn something, partly because I kept expecting Tom to make an appearance.  

I think you have the beginning of something good here - that's why I have all these thoughts.  Definitely a heavy-hearted story, but I think it needs more backbone.  I liked what you started and would like to see this revised.

Nice job.

Greg


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RayW
Posted: October 21st, 2011, 11:57pm Report to Moderator
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Locations & Sets -   EXT graveyard. EXT cut cornfield and farm, EXT wooded lane, EXT suburban street w/ streetlamps, EXT abandoned/neglected Victorian house. INT house throughout,
Actors  -  CHRISTOPHER (60s), LIZ (60s), Tom and ghost's voice overs, teen youths
Costumes  -  Suit for Chris, Black mourner's robe for Liz,
Props  -  custom engraved headstone, scarecrows, surveyors marking tape rolls, bundle of stakes, banner, bag of leaves, "condemned" sign, thick velvet curtains, match, candle w/ lamp, family portrait and frame, sprinkle dust, teardropper, hip flask, mattress, journal filled out, newspaper roll, switchblade/butterfly knife
Audio FX  -  wind, leaves blowing, match strike, floorboard creaks, doors opening and slamming shut, loud mocking laughter
Visual FX -  windows, doors, and curtains opening and closing by themselves, self lighting candle, ghost's dark silhouette, clear ooze/water draining down walls, ghost hand passing through her forearm, more ghost time during pg 7 & 9 monologuing, blood, ghost superimposing with Liz
Other  -  Bulldozers and heavy equipment, spray paint, big fan, extension cord/portable generator, light for moonlight through windows, MUA for Tom for photo and Liz's death, Christopher's car, lighter
Comments  -  "She shows the page to the Ghost, forgetting momentarily of his odd supernatural shape." I can't film what someone momentarily forgets, so don't create a sentence dependent upon things like that. Instead, try something like "Indifferent to his ghostness, She shows the page to it". Nice tragic ghost story. I'm pretty sure you could cut out the cornfields and bulldozer elements.



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Pale Yellow
Posted: October 22nd, 2011, 11:47am Report to Moderator
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I really liked this story. There were a few parts where I was a lil confused. It fit the OWC! Using the emotional impact of not only a disfigured son but his committing suicide was clever.

It could be tightened up. There were some grammar issues(not many). As I'm learning, the descriptive paragraphs were too chunky.

Great job.
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SpecialAgentDaleCooper
Posted: October 23rd, 2011, 11:07am Report to Moderator
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This one really does have a lot of promise. It could, with some revision and work, be potentially heartbreaking.

I thought that Tom's diary was a lot melodramatic. Hold that back a bit.

The youth behavior and the "FREAK" stuff on the tombstone and gate were also a bit much.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see frightened kids who were just going to egg a house as a joke before running away with fear coming back to burn the house down...that's kind of a stretch. I find it even more unrealistic that they returned once again to stab a man who is in his sixties.

A fourteen year old kid going from light mischief to potential manslaughter over the course of an evening is a bit excessive.

The spirit was misunderstood, and that's good that you stuck to that aspect of the theme. I just feel like this is another one of those screenplays which need a lot of polishing and tightening up - so much of the scene with the ghost could have been condensed.
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jwent6688
Posted: October 30th, 2011, 10:09am Report to Moderator
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Maybe its just the mood I'm in today, but i loved the dark overtone of this. Just holds alot of the nastiness that humans are capable of. Tom, being a freak. The kids outside stabbing Christopher.

I didn't mind the dialogue with the ghost as much as the others. I found it soothing to Liz's character. This whole piece is just sad all the way through. I got that the ghost was good, didn't really get a gothic feel from it. The repetition in the sleep well line at the end was good. The repetition of October leaves blowing in the beginning was not.

I find myself dumbfounded as why I can't suggest a way to make this better. I guess that is a good thing. I enjoyed it, its right up my alley...

James


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GM
Posted: October 30th, 2011, 1:18pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Scoob

I liked the tone however I believe this story would better as a longer short or feature. That's one of the negatives about a short: they tend to go quickly and not much gets developed i.e. how the mother just easily accepts the ghost existence. If you plan to expand this, there should be some mix of mystery and hesitation in there. Also, I'm interested in the ghost and his involvement with the parents son.

Hope this helps,
Gabe
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Scoob
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Thank you to everyone who gave a review, I greatly appreciate every one of them.

I've no complaints about any criticism, I agree I completely overdid the writing and those damn October leaves! Ahhg!  What happened there was the second page was originally the opening page and the entire script was just six pages. I wasn't too happy with it and on the final day decided to add a bit more story, and in the process somehow forgot to clear some of the build up. In fact, I probably felt I needed to add more which just bogged everything down.
I think the format went a bit pear shaped somewhere along the line too.
The original twist was meant to be about hereditary mental illness ( the ghost being just a voice in the head) but I just couldn't manage to pull it off so just went with a "family tragedy" instead.

There is also a lot of exposition that I should have dealt with a bit better - no wonder everyone wants to commit suicide after being stuck in a room with the Ghost, that thing can talk people to death!

Seriously, I am very grateful for the comments and feel I have learnt a whole lot more due to taking part and reading everyone else's scripts. Great stuff!

Happy Halloween!

Malc



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