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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    January 2014 - One Week Challenge  ›  Constant Escapement - OWC Moderators: Mr. Blonde, dabrast
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  Author    Constant Escapement - OWC  (currently 6831 views)
Posted: January 11th, 2014, 1:53pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Constant Escapement by R. McManus (rendevous)  - Short - In a basement in a town a long way from anywhere a man tries to change the past to fix his present. - pdf, format

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Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  March 10th, 2014, 11:09pm
updated to add writer's name
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Posted: January 11th, 2014, 2:43pm Report to Moderator
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I like the writing style of this one. I think the best I've read so far in terms of screen-writing ability.

Yeah, I'm at page 2 and this is a skilled writer. My fear of typo's and grammar errors are now at ease and I can read comfortably. Thanks.

HG Wells, even the mention of the name sends a shiver down my spine. Thanks for that. Very nice touch. Just goes to show that the small things matter.


 Eric, in a dressing gown, sits at the table eating cereal in
a bowl.

First niggle for me. This kinda reads that he is seated at a table that is in a bowl. I think you could leave off the 'in a bowl' thing altogether. Most people eat cereal out of a bowl. It's a safe assumption Even if you wanted to leave it in, he would be eating from the bowl, not in it.


I’ve got to go to work, Eric. I
know you’re hungry and desperate to
tell me all about it. You can cook
your own breakfast and tell the dog
all about it.

I think you could cut the second 'all about it' from this dialogue. Maybe write, tell the dog instead. or just leave it at, tell the dog


He unplugs the internet cable from a desktop computer then
plugs the metal box into it. He connects the internet cable
to the box.

You could write the above in all one sentence.

I'm at page 6 and my mind is starting to wander. The initial couple of pages hooked me, now we seem to have hit boredomville, nothing is happening. That probably means the scenes are too long, or maybe even superfluous. Difficult for me to tell yet as I haven't finished.


Shit on a glitter stick.

Nice visual.


Lights on and computers fired up, Eric types and clicks
furiously with a keyboard and mouse.

Just leave it at 'types and clicks furiously'. He couldn't type with a keyboard, well he probably could, but it wouldn't be easy. One types using or on a keyboard.


He puts it into the waist of the back of his pants, adjusts
himself, thinks better of it. Pockets it in his suit jacket.

What type of gun fits in a suit jacket? Is it a derringer? Do you mean for me to be imagining a pocket gun, or did you intend for something bigger? The thing is, one wouldn't attempt to tuck a derringer into the back of their pants, I'd imagine.


Cables, wires and pipes almost cover the ceiling and walls.
In the centre of the machine is a black coffin shaped object.

Eric gets into it. As the lid closes a siren blares three
times. The machine fills with a blinding blue light.

A flash of white light amongst the bushes and trees. The
black coffin appears. It slides a few feet on the uneven
ground until a large bush stops it.

Eric climbs out, breathes in deep. Glances around. He gathers
branches to cover the coffin.

I should have brought a saw.

In the above sequence it suddenly struck me that the coffin wouldn't be able to get back. I hope this is explained later.



Is this deliberate to make the guy sound stupid?


He lets go of a whoop then glances around with embarrasment.

Embarrassment. I'm not sure he letting go of a whoop is the right way to go about it. He lets out a whoop, would read better.


A bright flash of white light and
it’s gone.


The hatch of the machine squeaks as Eric pushes it open. He
puts the gun back into the safe with shaking hands.

I'd like to know how the coffin moved without all the wires and machinery around it that is in the basement. Maybe the coffin has a battery or something. Not a big deal, just made me wonder.

Nice little story. Pretty basic... but too long. Well told for the most part. I get that they wanted their kid back and he ends up making things worse... or better. Who knows, his new chick may be freaky

This one has potential.

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Posted: January 11th, 2014, 4:09pm Report to Moderator
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Writing-wise, this is easily the best so far, but there are some isues here and there, most noteably missing commas that actually change the way the sentence reads.  A few misisng words as well, but otherwise, pretty well done.

Structurally, this is also well put together and shows attention to detail and thought.  Sometimes it's the little things that tip off a good writer and this script is full of such examples - sometimes not showing things that works well, other times emphesis on things that work to create a certain mood.

But, on the negative side, too much detail that is meaningless.  I think this story as told could easily be done in 12 pages, meaning, as written, this drags unnecessarily, even though it is well done and well put together.

Biggest problem for me is the ending, as it falls flat as written, as if you ran out of room and couldn't really develop the finale you were after.  If you removed all the unnecessary detail early on, you'd have the room you want and need to properly close this out.  It's not a bad ending per se, but I was hoping for more and left unsatisfied.

Overall, this is strong and well done.  You created real mood and created characters that were both flawed and real, who I rooted for and understood, and that's tough to do, period, let alone in a week's time.

Congrats on a well thought out and pretty well written script.

Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  January 13th, 2014, 9:36am
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Posted: January 11th, 2014, 7:59pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Perth, Australia
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A strenuous read for me this one but I’ll put that down to preference – I much prefer a leaner style but that’s hardly your fault. In saying that, it does bog down the read and that slows the pace somewhat.

This isn’t a bad story: couple loses child to some drunk driver, wife has moved on while the husband attempts to alter the past to save his child.

I do wish there was more action, did become a bit dull during the middle section and I don’t care how you put it, but reading about some guy drinking and watching television isn’t in the slightest interesting.

Some things didn’t make sense to me… who was Brandon and what role did he play? Was this to tell us that Eric was some kind of dealer? His reaction to the missing Annie after getting back was also hard to take – she’s missing, so he goes back to drinking!? Huh? This is a guy who should and is desperate to get his family back so his reaction seemed… breezy.

And the twist did lack some punch – I think it was obvious to be honest, but it may have been intended that way?

Otherwise this wasn’t bad, real characters for most part with a real problem that folks can relate to so good job. If there was a way to improve this then I would look at the pacing, and try to trim down that dull section in between time jumps – possibly another ending that will shock the reader. What if the child lived but the wife died instead – like an ironic twist for the character.

Congrats on completing the OWC.

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Last Fountain
Posted: January 11th, 2014, 10:49pm Report to Moderator

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Fast paced. Intriguing. Emotional.

First, I love how this starts with the machine. And a cool steampunk design. We also immediately know it's dangerous as he exits bloody. Intriguing right away. Especially with his first words "is he back". You got me interested from the get go.

The overall vibe was like Twilight Zone. A constantly building mystey. Is he a hitman sent to kill villains of the past? Or is he trying to correct something? I like how you made this a personal mission, trying to saved a loved one. I also liked the imagery of the coffin. He travels back because of death so it was darkly poetic.  As was the ending.

The end got me emotionally. It's so sad that he is left with only the memory of loss. He traveled through time but didn't succeed.Devasting. He still has loss. Only mememories.  And rage. And the man who was responsible is no longer. Nice use of the consequences of altering history.

I wish you told more about his daughter. Or a quick scene of him releasing his emotions. Otherwise I really enjoyed this. You kept me thinking. And it didn't get too scientific. We got the machine minus the technical details. In this case it was a good decision. You're focusing on emotional payoff. The human side. Not the sci-fi elements.

A sweetly dark poem to emotional loss.

SLIP/THROUGH - scifi noir (feature)
HOLY 3D CHRISTMAS! - fantasy (shorf)

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Posted: January 12th, 2014, 5:30am Report to Moderator
January Project Group

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I understood the idea behind it - he went back to change something and that altered the future in return.
THe idea behind it is simple and very easy to understand.
THe beginning is nice, slowly paced and well done.
But I didn't understand a lot in the middle. You describe his clothes in detail, every else, what people on the streets are doing - if you want to let us know the time changes you could just provide something small.
I don't think you need this many pages for it. Or make them more interesting - either one.
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Posted: January 12th, 2014, 12:02pm Report to Moderator
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I liked the beginning, very atmospheric and mysterious but the mystery was spread out too long, so I lost interest before it was revealed why he'd gone back in time in the first place.

This is a simply tale, which is sometimes the best way, but goes on a lot longer than necessary. I realised pretty early on after he returned he'd changed his future and his wife either no longer existed or was not his wife anymore. However I had to read through normal mundane stuff for several minutes of screentime before he realised it. Was it a positive or negative ending; depends on how hot the new woman was!

The time travel machine is never really explained, which isn't a problem but you have to ponder why his wife is working when they have the ability to make as much money as they want via time travel?

Nicely done though, well written and I liked the drunken telephone conversation especially.  

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Posted: January 12th, 2014, 12:35pm Report to Moderator
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Great stuff, my favorite so far out of about 8.

The only thing that didn't ring true was when the ironmonger asked him if his gun was a Colt, I think that would be the last thing on his mind.

But all in all good s***.
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Posted: January 12th, 2014, 10:21pm Report to Moderator
Been Around

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Well, the logline makes no sense so hopefully the script is different.

First page is very overwritten, watch out for all that unneeded stuff.

Up to page 7 so far, the death of the son would've had a bigger impact if you left out the priest scene. I get why you put it there but it takes away a lot of the surprise and mystery. The flashback with the laughing police officers was a great scene though, a perfect save the cat moment.

Don't like him talking to himself/his dog.

Machine kind of reminds me of the one from Primer.

Twist wasn't anything original, kind of expected it but besides that, this was pretty good. Writing was fine, maybe a little overwritten at times, dialogue wasn't bad either which seems to be a big problem with all OWC entries. But I quite liked this. Good job.
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Posted: January 13th, 2014, 2:55pm Report to Moderator

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This started out real good. Nice scene descriptions and setting up the mystery. A bit overwritten for my taste, but the story was taking me through it.

A small nitpick, Page 2: “ERIC: We should change that wallpaper” First I thought you should cut it because I already understood the importance of the wallpaper from your description. Now I also think you should cut it because, if Eric’s the one who can’t let go, I don’t think he’d be the one to suggest tearing down the wallpaper.

I think you may have lost momentum by setting up things you didn’t really need in the first place. I think the set-up/pay-offs of Brandon and the Priest are superfluous. We’ll still understand his reality’s been altered when he calls his wife’s office. Or when the new politician’s ad comes on TV. Heck, maybe his dog has a different name.

Once the momentum slowed down, I found myself wondering things you were probably hoping I wouldn’t ask. Like who is Eric that he has a machine like that? And why is he going back over 100 years when the event he’s looking to correct seems more recent.

Overall I liked what you were going for here. Maybe it’s because it took so long to get there, but the twist had a ‘soft landing’ for me. I thought it could use more. Like what if the new wife was pregnant? Does he stay or does he go?

Decent work though and an enjoyable entry. Congrats
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Posted: January 14th, 2014, 9:13am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

… but some dreams do

Upstate NY
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Hey Writer,

Pg 1: steam punk and Anthony Gormley? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I don't know what this means.

Lots of insects so far, a fly, a moth, a cicada, oh and a frog? Setting the scene or a deeper meaning?

Okay, this was not half bad. You could have done away with some of the exposition. The constant showbiz news on the TV was annoying. You had a very good set up here, but the ending left me scratching my head. So...who is this woman who's now his wife. Did Eric kill that man in the shop?  And if so, exactly how did this change the future?  See, the questions have no answers here, and I think they deserve to be answered. As it is it doesn't really make any sense.

Aside from that, your action blocks were written awkwardly at times and this piece could have been trimmed down. But, you still need to answer those questions!

A decent effort, though. Congrats on getting this done.


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irish eyes
Posted: January 14th, 2014, 9:58pm Report to Moderator
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There`s too much blood in my alcohol

Upstate New York
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logline... very bland

Quoted from Steve
Pg 1: steam punk and Anthony Gormley? Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I don't know what this means.

I'm out of the same loop, but google tells me it's Antony Gormley and he's a British Sculptor and as for Steampunk, it's a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery,especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century.

So that clears it up

I actually found this pretty hard read, I had to go back over a few times just to understand what was happening.


This one dragged on for me and as Steve pointed out without any suitable answers. It only picked up when he finally went back in time and obviously killed Randolphs ancestor. Then when he got home again, he spent too long wandering around an empty house looking for his "wife"

so what happened to Annie?... the priest became the billboard guy, Brandon completely changed personality  and Eric got a new wife, just don't know who she is.

Good job on entering


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Posted: January 15th, 2014, 8:47am Report to Moderator
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When I first cracked this open, I thought I would hate it, due to the dense description.  Surprisingly, I found that didn't get in the way... and I did find the story caught my attention.  Is the concept of wanting to go back and save one's son in any way unique?  Nah.  But it worked, for what it was... And the writing (despite the detail) was decent.

Until the very end, when the story just seemed to run out of steam.  The minute he couldn't find Annie, it was obvious the way this was going.  And the main issue for me was, how exactly did killing Abe's relative tie in with Eric marrying someone else?  Yes, he changed the past, but what specifically changed in the time line to have this causality?  And in time travel stories, things like that are important.  The logic (such as it is with such things) has to gell and make sense.  

This one didn't. Though if you rework the last third, this has the makings of something fun.  


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Reef Dreamer
Posted: January 16th, 2014, 5:19pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Part time writer

The Island of Jersey
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Constant escapement

There is a lot to like in this.

I liked the way you handled the setting. Nice extra touches, just a few, but enough to give tone.

The sense of unspoken loss was well handled at the beginning. Then the sense of what will he do next and how will affect them. Can they survive as a couple after the loss?

The conclusion that everything changes was a bit disappointing and to a degree doesn't make sense, but does any time travel script?

Well written, even if a little dense in places, but probably needs a greater conenction between the event and the outcome, rather than random circumstance, but then again, that's what could happen.

Not sure why he has to go back so far to stop a car crash.

Almost there.

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Posted: January 16th, 2014, 6:14pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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This was like entering a demolition derby dressed in a suit and driving a Ford Mondeo - if you're going to crash, don't bother getting dressed up nice for it.

Okay, the writing was strong, I don't think there's much doubt about that; most complaints would only be minor.

But the story hits problems shorty after the off. It's a strong start, with the lights in sequence and monitors flicking on, and the fly on the keyboard - a nice example of calling shots without actually calling them. Then there's noise, detail, suspense, and blood.

Left me really wanting to know what happened to this guy - what the story was behind all of this. All of this from dark to light, and noise and blood is all cooled down again to dark to great effect. For me, this was a real opener. And after that we should go elsewhere, to begin building up the story that will explain all of this to good effect.

...actually, we'll stay here a little bit while the wife pops in.

Then we'll do a different script about something else that doesn't really explain anything of the above, but has lots of TV adverts in it.

Sorry, but not for me - even if the story idea is neat - change one thing in the past and it changes everything in the future, it just doesn't do the set-up justice because  the rest of it's nothing to do with the set-up. JMO.
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