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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    October, 2011 One Week Challange  ›  The Haunted Tale of James O'Neil - OWC
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  Author    The Haunted Tale of James O'Neil - OWC  (currently 3651 views)
Don
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 9:13am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Haunted Tale of James O'Neil by Michel J. Duthin (michel) - Short, Gothic Horror - How open would you be to fulfilling a request by a stranger with no idea what you will encounter and might risk?  An 18 century military officer, James O'Neil, explores this offer as he unravels an unearthly tale to help someone he never met. Fate sometimes works in mysterious ways.   8 pages, 4 characters, PG Rating - pdf, format


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Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  October 29th, 2011, 4:58pm
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Ryan1
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 3:41pm Report to Moderator
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This was a creepy little tale.  Fit the OWC parameters quite nicely.  You had ill-fated romance, a spooky mansion and a helpful ghost.  Wasn't all that original, and the characters seemed rather vanilla, but I did like most of it.

There was some awkward phrasing and typos throughout.  You used "envelop" instead of envelope a couple of times.  "This the same gate falling from its hinges." also read oddly.

I didn't get the woman(his mother) and her need to have her hair combed.  If there was a a deeper meaning to that, I missed it.  After the great set up by Alan that he would never enter that house again, I was kinda disappointed that the events weren't scarier once James got to the place.

But,  a nice twist having James get his hands on the will.  One question though, if the mansion was actually destroyed by fire years before, how was he able to walk into the room and get the papers?  Wouldn't everything have been burned up?  Anyway, this was a pretty good, atmospheric chiller.
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Dreamscale
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 10:22pm Report to Moderator
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I'm sorry, but again, less than a page in, and I'm out.  Too many things to go into.

Congrats on completing an entry for the October OWC!


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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darrentomalin
Posted: October 15th, 2011, 10:33pm Report to Moderator
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Nice story and I liked James.
It seemed odd that Alan pretty much forced the request upon him, if he was a ghost then why the letter to the manservant? and was he lying about chasing around town and finding James through his servant, Unless I am missing something, these earlier set ups went un resolved later on.
The hair thing was alluding to the mother being mad perhaps?
Nice details and dialogue (not including any typos).


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

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Electric Dreamer
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 1:39am Report to Moderator
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James seems to be quite the cranky fellow.
The servants seem to be getting the short of the stick a lot.
It has gothic flavors, the three year dead line was a chuckle.
I doubt you meant it that way, but the plainness of it struck me.
On page six, your slug reads: day, but the time is 12am. Mistake?
The set up was pretty clear, the plot meandered after that.
The house and the comb ghost seemed rather tepid a pay off.
Thanks for playing OWC.

Regards,
E.D.


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Reef Dreamer
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 7:43am Report to Moderator
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Hello Ophelia,

A story with potential but a few issues. My comments are;

Not sure I like your log line for a starter - quite long
The Inn - why not name it?
First line could put some off when he dines, in an inn!
Alan's dialogue seems a tad long
With the set up I found it difficult that James would accept the request so lightly
In the house and outside I did find myself a bit lost

Has potential.

All the best.


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c m hall
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 10:27am Report to Moderator
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There's a good story in here, I think you just need more than 1 week to write it.  It seems like you've got a flair for historical fiction, I suggest you expand all of the  backstories (for the dead people and the living people) and have fun with it, this could be a very entertaining feature length script.
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michel
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 4:08pm Report to Moderator
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Your logline should be shorter. Maybe you tried to explain too many things. Your story is not so bad though. Nice try....


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wonkavite
Posted: October 16th, 2011, 5:58pm Report to Moderator
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I don't know...this one seemed to hint at the possibility of so much more.  In the beginning, this worked well for me on several levels.  The writing is crisp, I liked the characters - for the first 2/3rd it felt like a nice gothic ride into an old fashioned ghost story.  (Envelop spelling issue aside).  

It fell apart for me after James left the mansion.  I was expecting something more straightforward - this one twisted in ways that I didn't expect...and that weren't satisfying (at least to my tastes)  Alan felt too real of a character to be a ghost.  And James too solid of a personality to have a hidden past.  

If I had my druthers, I'd say to keep the story through the meeting - but change it from there to a different ending.  What, I'm not sure.  But you've got a great setup and characters...they deserve an equally interesting fate!
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Breanne Mattson
Posted: October 17th, 2011, 5:09pm Report to Moderator
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I echo what others have said about the logline. Itís too long.

This has some good storytelling. Itís not always clear what exactly is going on, though. For example, I thought the key was for the desk. It wasnít until Jamesí exchange with the gardener that I knew it was for the door.

Some of the dialogue was really good. Occasionally, it was a bit clichť for movies of the period.

I thought the mad mother ghost was off the wall in a good way.

Overall, good job.


Breanne


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Scoob
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 5:08pm Report to Moderator
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I thought this was OK, a different twist to what I was expecting so I enjoyed that. Captured the mood reasonably well, although I think you need to tighten up some of it.
Quick read, well written in places, a little confusing in others.
Nice job,



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GM
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 6:20pm Report to Moderator
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Need to fix the James character when he arrives at the mansion. really out there.

Like the story but I think you should have a better beginning. Have him drunk and waking up to see Alan. Or something similar.

Also, proofread.

Hope this helps,
Gabe
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jwent6688
Posted: October 18th, 2011, 6:54pm Report to Moderator
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Can't say i was fond of the writing here. Although, what you were aiming for was quite ambitious and could work very well with a re-write. The set-up is there, albeit a little clunky. When James got to the manor, the story started to faulter for me until the end where he reads the Will. Overall, a pretty good effort for an OWC.

James


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greg
Posted: October 19th, 2011, 1:53am Report to Moderator
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I liked this.  Told a good story and had excellent use of the ghost.  There were a couple things that didn't quite come off right.  For example him brushing the girl's hair.  It just seemed peculiar that he would actually do it to some random girl walking around the place.  The other was how he found himself back at the mansion at the end.  Felt too convenient.  Need something else there, I think.  

But I did like this.  Good utilization of everything.  Some of the writing comes off awkwardly at times and there's uses of both present and past tense all over the place, so fix that up.  Otherwise a solid entry.  Good job.

Greg


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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: October 19th, 2011, 12:51pm Report to Moderator
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I feel like there's a good story here, but I personally don't understand it.

Alan comes to James in the beginning saying,

>"Forgive me Sir, are you James O'Neil?"

From this, it would appear that James does not know nor ever has known Alan, but by this:

>JAMES
Who are you?

ALAN
My name is Alan. You used to know
my father, Lord Ashley.

*There seems to be a connection. James knew Alan's father.

By Alan's request, James is to go back to Alan's mansion, into his bedroom and recover two packages of letters and a roll of papers.

So James does so. When he gets there, he all of a sudden turns all grumpy like to the servant meeting him at the door and barges into the mansion, pushing the old guy aside.

Now James, upon entering the bedroom and settling at the desk to search for requested papers and letters, now meets with YOUNG WOMAN. This is the woman Alan had explained was his girlfriend who died of, "affections of the heart". I don't know what that is, but its implicit in her desire of beauty, (I think anyways, and her obsession with her hair) and that's not a problem for me, but...

As I carry on, I'll explain where I'm confused...

Whereupon James helps Young Woman with her troubled knotted hair, she snatches the comb from him and disappears through a door that--

Subsequently is discovered to be locked tight and unmovable by James.

This frightens James and he quickly high tails it out of there. He leaves the manor, gallops away on his horse and then...

We find him in his bedroom:

JAMES' MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT

I have no idea where this bedroom might be by the slug and certainly, from the first scene, we don't know either because James was at THE INN. So, there's confusion here. Also, no description is given of said room. I have no real keen idea in my mind where his is or his surroundings rich or poor.

Then, he's at that inn again. It would seem that there's no one there. It's written that:

>no one comes in

But that doesn't tell me that no one is in there, although I wager to guess that he is, exclusively alone, at this point. If it's true, I would bring that out through his POV, having him looking around and taking that all in. Not just looking at his watch.

Ok, so now he winds up going back to the mansion and this time, it's almost the same, but this time

He sees a damaged building that was destroyed by fire. Out of the saddle pack he grabs the papers and the following appears to be the reveal:

>He walks back to his horse, opens the saddlebag, and takes the letters out.

>On everyone of them, the same feminine handwriting.

>They are all sent to Alan Ashley with an official stamp that announces: RETURN TO SENDER.

James frowns, puts the letters back into the saddlebag, and takes the roll of papers.

He unrolls it and starts to read.

This is a last will in favour of James Lloyd Ashley, son of Alan and Louise Ashley.

James notices a line where itís written: ďBecause of his motherís madness, little
James has to be left in Father Oliverís care.ď

***Now questions...

What is feminine handwriting? It says above that Alan and Louise Ashley are James' parents. If this is so, then James would have recognized Alan in the first scene as his father.

Also, seems to be referenced that James was willed The Manor by his parents, but there's also something about his mother's madness and being left in a dude named Father Oliver's care. I'm confused because of the "time element"...

When did James' father and mother die? It would seem that YOUNG WOMAN was his mother? Is she? If that is so, wouldn't he have recognized her? But I also thought that YOUNG WOMAN WAS Alan's (James' father's girlfriend). But that too has me confused because there was no "relationship" like that shown in the beginning.

The YOUNG WOMAN died due to "affections of the heart" it is described. A nice way of saying she went mad, but why? What caused her to go mad?

For me, I need the author to explain this one to me.

I feel this one needs to be reworked. There's a lot here that could be coaxed out of it.

Sandra








A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: October 19th, 2011, 3:36pm Report to Moderator
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What if the Hokey Pokey, IS what it's all about?

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Quoted from greg
I liked this.  Told a good story and had excellent use of the ghost.  There were a couple things that didn't quite come off right.  For example him brushing the girl's hair.  It just seemed peculiar that he would actually do it to some random girl walking around the place.  
Greg


See, this is the thing, Greg. I don't think that YOUNG WOMAN, was a random girl walking around the place. I think it was James' mother, which comes off as very peculiar to me, since it seemed also to me, like she was just a random ghost. For me to now try and alter that perception is very hard. I still see her as random. Even if I try and bend her into being his mother, I have to wonder what her story is because it is critical and most likely, this short is like the many others like it that are indeed not shorts at all, but precursors to features.

This one, I definitely feel that way about. I just feel really dim witted because I feel I can't wrap my head around it and yet somehow it makes sense even if I don't understand. Does that make sense? No. But that's Ok, I think at least the writer will gain insight because of it.

Sandra



A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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RayW
Posted: October 21st, 2011, 11:45pm Report to Moderator
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Locations & Sets  -   INT. 18th century inn dining hall with period furnishings, EXT & INT mansion in disrepair with period furnishings and skeleton key door (but we might be able to fudge that detail), INT. James' bedroom at the Inn, forest w/ horse trail/road, EXT convent courtyard
Actors  -  JAMES (40s), ALAN (30s),  OLD MAN (70), YOUNG WOMAN (20s) BOY (5), FATHER OLIVER (-)
Costumes  -  Period army officer uniform, Alan's attire, old man servant's attire, Young woman's white dress/gown, boy's attire, monk's attire
Props -  period table settings including lighting, silver skeleton key, wax sealed envelope, candelabra, old bed w/ period mattress and pillows, writing desk, armchair, plenty of documents to fill writing table cubbies, two letter bundles and large roll of papers, being the last will and testament, tortoise-shell comb, bible, pair of carved gravestones and crosses
Audio FX -  draft sounds
Visual FX -  superimpose a burned wrecked building over the one from the night before
Other  -  riding horse with saddle, tack and saddlebags, fogger for forest, fan for draft
Comments  - Eh... more of a morose sad tale than Gothic horror.



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rdhay
Posted: October 23rd, 2011, 8:28pm Report to Moderator
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Sorry, but I'm a bit lost on this one. The writing was okay, though you'll want to fix up your tenses. The atmosphere was good. I think you were going for mysterious, but there are so many unanswered questions that it comes off a bit frustrating.

It's got potential, though. Wouldn't mind seeing the rewrite Good job.
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DarrenJamesSeeley
Posted: October 23rd, 2011, 9:11pm Report to Moderator
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Since The Old Man stammers, I don't think the breaks (---) are all that needed in the dialog. Besides, it should be an ellipsis ...


Quoted Text
His shadow is cast on the walls by the light of the candles.


It's understood visually that we occasionally will see shadows. The only reason for it being here - is to imply a supernatural occurance, but it should be more clear on that, otherwise, it would read as unnecessary, incorrect visually or both. (Incorrect visually, meaning...it is a candlebra that is the source. It is placed on a desk, which is most likely against a wall. Since you pluralize "walls" that suggests a corner of the room. But it can't be all of the walls. Given the layout described, this would be wrong, given the placement of the desk)


Quoted Text
EXT. MANSION - NIGHT
James sprints in the alley, crosses the gate, takes the
reins, leaps into the saddle, and gallops away in the full
moon night.


Several actions for a character to do in one moment. Instead of four commas use two-

James sprints down the alley, crosses the gate.
Leaps into the saddle, gallops away.

We can assume that James will take the reins to climb up on the horse; but since you have "leaps into the saddle", it renders the previous action unnecessar. Since we can also see what is going on, we can assume that moonlight will be a key source of that light. Wasn't it a full moon before he entered the house?

Since you have FADE OUT at the end, you won't need The End.

All in all, this wasn't terrible, and I really didn't mind it. Some grammar issues aside and the stuff I mentioned above, it wasn't a bad read. It could have been better though.


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Quiou
Posted: October 24th, 2011, 4:27pm Report to Moderator
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I loved this one. The ending was great. i would not have imagined for a secound, and that's maybe why I loved your script. For me the story was original too. The ghost was well written in the story and the atmosphere was gothic IMO.
Good job.
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michel
Posted: October 30th, 2011, 2:26pm Report to Moderator
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Fisrt of all, I thank everyone for reading and reviewing this script.  I did my best to read many scripts.

It may not fit exactly the OWC, but it contained many of my favorite themes and the story is far complex than it appears. I tried to answer every questions raised in a subtle way. Never mind....


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Hugh Hoyland
Posted: November 1st, 2011, 6:59pm Report to Moderator
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Okay I had read this before like some others but found I had failed to leave a comment.

Not bad, not bad at all. It has a good Gothic vibe and all of the ingredients for a story.

There are or seem to be some sub plots that need to be handled IMO. But thats tough to really pull off in an OWC.

Good job overall and keep up the good work!


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michel
Posted: November 2nd, 2011, 4:26am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for your comment Hugh. In fact, the more I wrote, the more I thought I had matter for rather a feature. You're right, there are many subplots I have to devellop...


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