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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›   Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: August 28th, 2007, 9:56am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Houseboy: The Time We Were on Trial by Daniel Kreiner (EBurke73) - Comedy, Play - It's the third season finale of a show you've never seen and the girls of Sigma Kappa Pi are gonna get all kinds of kicked out unless one of them makes the ultimate sacrifice. 81 pages - doc, format


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Seth
Posted: August 29th, 2007, 2:14am Report to Moderator
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Right away, I am confused. This is a play, yet it opens with a teaser and includes credits. That said, do we open on a television? I may have missed something. If so, please let me know.

ACT ONE

Your opening action block is 16 lines long. This isn't, in terms of plays, at least the ones I've read, unusual. Still, I find it difficult to wade through; especially considering that five characters are introduced within this same paragraph. That said, you might consider breaking it up.

Much of the writing, itself, could be trimmed making for shorter, more concise sentences. For example, instead of:

"BETHANY DuBOIS, a pretty, but not gorgeous young woman standing ramrod straight and carrying herself like a woman very sure of herself.  I like the idea of Bethany in a business suit with a D PHI E pin or sign."

You might write: BETHANY DuBOIS, (20), dressed in a business suit, stands fingering the D PHI E pin on her lapel.

Unless her attractiveness is, at some point, an issue, I'd leave it out.

There are many asides -- for the reader only comments. Again, this is a play, so I'm not sure how such comments are handled. But you might consider describing Tara as having short spiked hair or short loosely spiked hair -- something that shows that she's a tad on the butch side, at least in comparison to the beauty queen that is Monica.

PAGE 3

Prosecution ... Maybe Prosecutor?

"Stage right by the cast, a succession of anyone we can get for multi-little roles.  We will need to use lights for focus."

I know you're planning to produce this yourself, so the above is fine. Still, as a reader, it's distracting to consider the fact that you'll have to employ anyone you can get to fill these roles.

PAGE 5

...so he can be with your company.  Maybe ....so he can be in your company.

Some of the humor lacks originality: Amanda Huginkiss, Crazypersonsayswhat?! Just things I've heard before.

PAGE 10

Then she'll ... should be she'd

PAGE 12

ANDY: In one. ...I didn't understand this line.

"Throughout, they circle each other, their body language telling the story of their relationship.  I'm going to lean on the actresses for this with some exceptions, and I'm sure my trust is well-placed."

Not knowing the exact nature of the relationship in question, I've no idea of what such body language might entail. I'm sure, as I read further, it'll be revealed. Still, as a reader, it's distracting. Why not just describe it?

The conversation between Monica and Tara is, to me, very confusing. I, after  having read it several times, think I understand. Still, I'm not sure.  Apparently Tara is dating Nathan who's frat brother did something, as yet not revealed, to Monica.

Agan, If I've missed something, please let me know.

Having finished the first act, I'm going to call it a night and return to this tomorrow.

Seth  


Scripts

Stranger Than Yesterday
Diplopia

And Sweetie XD


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EBurke73
Posted: August 29th, 2007, 10:33pm Report to Moderator
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Many thanks for the start.  I've not had fresh eyes look at this for a while, as my reader had gone through several drafts, so everything was already understood.

Act One does have a teaser and credits.  The conceit is that it's a play version of a television show.  I wonder if I can get away with some sort of dance sequence where the characters hold the names of the actresses and their character names.  The only problem is that every time I visualize it, it seems dumb.

Page 12, "In one." means she got it in one guess.

Darn, if Monica and Tara's conversation is still that confusing that you think Tara and Nathan are dating, then I really need to look at that.  Tara is dating Kevin, who is Nathan's frat brother.  Nathan, unless I change my mind, had raped (or nearly raped) Monica.  After Georgia Rules came out, and I saw the dangers of mixing rape into comedy, all direct references were removed, leaving an implication versus a direct statement.  However if this is at the cost of understanding, that's a problem.

I'd seen in past plays I read stage directions making the direct statements of what "we might have to do," which is the dead opposite of a screenplay, but then stage plays go to the writer first, then the director.  Removing the direct statements is probably not going to be difficult, and describing body language as opposed to stating that I would lean on the actors would look better.

So far this has been very, very helpful.


It's the trial of the minute

Houseboy - The Time We Were on Trial

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-comedy/m-1188312962/

Now available:  Houseboy: The Series
The girls of Sigma Kappa Pi have a secret...
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1197232302/
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Seth
Posted: August 30th, 2007, 12:01am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from EBurke73

Act One does have a teaser and credits.  The conceit is that it's a play version of a television show.  I wonder if I can get away with some sort of dance sequence where the characters hold the names of the actresses and their character names.  The only problem is that every time I visualize it, it seems dumb.


Yes, kind of campy -- but might be fun. Just thinking about it, could you drop a screen behind Jeannine and Barry, projecting the credits along with a theme song? I like the idea of mixing media.


Quoted from EBurke73

Darn, if Monica and Tara's conversation is still that confusing that you think Tara and Nathan are dating, then I really need to look at that.  Tara is dating Kevin, who is Nathan's frat brother.  Nathan, unless I change my mind, had raped (or nearly raped) Monica.  After Georgia Rules came out, and I saw the dangers of mixing rape into comedy, all direct references were removed, leaving an implication versus a direct statement.  However if this is at the cost of understanding, that's a problem.


I confused the names and, yes, assumed Monica had been raped. That said, unless others, too, are confused, I wouldn't change it. Having reread it, it makes perfect sense. As for removing direct references to there having been a rape, I think you made the right call. It's implied, and that's enough.


Quoted from EBurke73

I'd seen in past plays I read stage directions making the direct statements of what "we might have to do," which is the dead opposite of a screenplay, but then stage plays go to the writer first, then the director.  Removing the direct statements is probably not going to be difficult, and describing body language as opposed to stating that I would lean on the actors would look better.


Again, I'm not at all familiar with stageplay format. I do know, though, that the playwrite is king -- if it ain't on the page it ain't on the stage. It's interesting how playwrites are, in my opinion anyway, more respected than screenwriters. Perhaps their work is thought of as being more serious? Or maybe it's because plays have existed for centuries? Or maybe I'm just wrong. I don't know.

Anyway... moving on: Things pick up, become more interesting in the second and third acts.  

Tara is the most interesting, well-developed character thus far. The exchange between her and Jeannine is very humorous -- talk of hands, etc. I appreciate this sort of humor because it's organic. By that I mean, it's not something that could exist outside of this particular script. Also, at the same time, there is a seriousness about it. Well done.

I do wonder if the stakes are high enough. If they lose, they lose their sorority. Not a big deal; at least not to me. I know there is more at stake -- relationships etc., and I appreciate this, but feel there should be one,  overarching something that makes the reader care with respect to the outcome.

What that something might be, I don't know. Perhaps Barry, being an intellectual (a geek), will lose a scholarship? Whatever the case, I care about the characters, but feel their relationship will, in the end, remain intact, regardless of the outcome of the hearing/trial -- and I should, I think, care about that too.

Sorry it's taking me so long to review this. This is, though, an intricate story involving many characters. This is a plus. You've obviously taken time to develope this and, as a reader, it's appreciated. At the same time, it's definitely not a spec script or a screenplay. So I'm a little outside my comfort zone. Hence the reason this is taking so long. I will, though, finish tomorrow.

Seth


Scripts

Stranger Than Yesterday
Diplopia

And Sweetie XD


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EBurke73
Posted: August 30th, 2007, 9:18pm Report to Moderator
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Wow.  Thanks so much for keeping on.  Please don;t be sorry for taking your time on reading this, because you;ve got some very good insight going that I can digest and think about as you go along.  I'm glad things got better as we moved along.  Beginnings are a pain.  Almost as bad as middles and endings.

I'm happy that Tara came out so well.  Her character came a long way from previous drafts, considering she was two different people at one time.

Stakes with young people as main characters are tough.  And it is definitely food for thought as far as how I can up them.  Maybe I need to tease out the threat of getting kicked out more.  After all, they basically used a student for cheap labor.  I also have a brief mention that Barry might have cheated for them, which he didn't, but that could bulk up the charges as they'd have to prove their innocence.  Something to think about.

Thanks also for the support on the rape and keeping it in, but implied.  I've tried writing parts of that particular episode, and if I ever get to it, it'll still be tough, answering the unasked question that, yes, I have been writing actual episodes that will appear on the series page later.  Since this is meant to be stand alone, I wanted it out there first to make sure it could stand on its own.


It's the trial of the minute

Houseboy - The Time We Were on Trial

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-comedy/m-1188312962/

Now available:  Houseboy: The Series
The girls of Sigma Kappa Pi have a secret...
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1197232302/
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Seth
Posted: August 31st, 2007, 2:45am Report to Moderator
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Page 40

"They stand in silence for a few minutes..." A few minutes is a long time -- maybe a moment?

Page 56

Should be Perry Mason.

Page 62

Barry: "Holy exposition!" haha - There are a few of these kind of comments. I like 'em.

Page 66

If I understand correctly, Tara, if expelled, will not be eligible for the draft -- but, if she is drafted, she'll have to leave school, anyway. Thats seems about right with respect to recruiters -- they're so ethical!  Not that this is, or should be, an issue; just a general comment.

Also on this page, Barry takes the stand. I wasn't sure if he would, in fact, take the stand. As it is, although he, really, is the subject of the trial, he's, thoughout the script, sidelined -- and appropriately so. Still, I would've enjoyed had Barry questioned whether or not he would have to take the stand. This might also allow his character more of an arc. Perhaps in the beginning he doesn't want to take the stand, fearing that his manhood would, again, be questioned or assailed -- then, in the end, wanting to take the stand in an effort to regain his manhood. Just thinking out loud. Whatever the case, the story, as is, works.

Having finished the script, Tara is, as I commented before, the most developed character. The others, even Barry, but to a lesser degree, seem not to be as well-rounded, or interesting. Both Tara and Barry come complete with backstories, the others not so much. This may or may not be a problem.

What I do believe is a problem....and I know plays are wordy, but there were so many monologues that the script, at points, felt weighted.

The court room exchanges were my favorite parts, that which was in between continued to, from time to time, confuse me. There is just so much going on in terms all the various relationships. Much of this confusion could, I think, be cleared up by writing dialogue that is more concise -- more to the point.

I'm sure others will give this a read, and when they do, I hope they comment on this issue because it may be that I am simply just not able to properly review a play. That said, trust your own judgement.

I liked the ending. It was upbeat, as it should be.

Seth






Scripts

Stranger Than Yesterday
Diplopia

And Sweetie XD


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EBurke73
Posted: September 2nd, 2007, 11:51pm Report to Moderator
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You're comments were very helpful.

In plays, at least according to my understanding, has to have at least one monelogue from each actor.  Something about their needing to have something meaty in the script or it isn't interesting to them.

I'm glad you enjoyed the courtroom exchanges and the ending.  Seems for the most part, I'm riding the right track.

Woo hoo!  


It's the trial of the minute

Houseboy - The Time We Were on Trial

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-comedy/m-1188312962/

Now available:  Houseboy: The Series
The girls of Sigma Kappa Pi have a secret...
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1197232302/
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: September 5th, 2007, 5:09pm Report to Moderator
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What if the Hokey Pokey, IS what it's all about?

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Critique for:

Houseboy: The Time We Were on Trial

(*note that you might have minimal punctuation in the title, no dashes or quotations.  I'm not sure, but I had an article accepted with the above style using only a colon.)

Now, I understand that this has been written as a play and I'm not familiar with the form at all, but I feel that this is really well done.

I think it has special appeal to teenagers and under-twenty fives.

As a story, it's interesting from a character perspective as well as its consideration of group dynamics.

The comedic tone is set early and is maintained throughout; so, very well done there.

I really think that this is very close to being dressed for success.  I've made a few notes for you to consider.

Before I forget, you might want to insert a little more action references.  Also, I'm not sure about the use of italics.  They are hard on editors' eyes and should be used sparingly.  

Teaser: Too long a block.  Even if you separate it into two paragraphs, maybe try to increase some of the white space.  

Besides the teaser, just go through and check for any other long blocks and see if they might stand for some paring.

>but with a confidence built through being among sorority sisters for two years...

The "built through..." part isn't necessary.

>I like the idea of Bethany in a business suit...

Be certain.  I don't think you need to only "suggest" her attire.  Just state it as you see it.  Of course little details can always be changed--that's a given.

>I'm going to lean on the actresses for this with some exceptions, and I'm sure my trust is well-placed.

This is just excess commentary.  Kind of like you're thinking out loud.  Again, just tell it as you see it.

>Monica: [Who's frat brother - who -] should be the pronoun: [whose]

I think you might shorten the conversation with Monica and Tara.

There were times that I was a bit lost in the dialogue.  For instance, I didn't really know who Nathan was.  I felt that the characters knew what they were talking about, but I was missing things.

My suggestion would be to take out dialogue that seems extraneous.  Just be really ruthless and see if you can come up with really direct ways to convey what's happened, is happening or is about to happen.

For instance, if you need to sacrifice some of Tara's butt whooping spiel, and something else in order to gain space for more clarity somewhere else, try it out.

Again, be aware that long blocks are dangerous things.  If you need them, keep them; but be critical of how much it's contributing versus the possibility of sabotaging things.

I wouldn't make [who're witnesses] a contraction.  Just: [who are]

The "either or" for scene five isn't necessary.  Again, just be certain.  It's not as though you can't be flexible, but putting in a bunch of: "I kind of think she should be dressed this way."  And: "The curtains are drawn perhaps or maybe the stage is dark and the curtains are open..." isn't necessary.  

>You're [the on the] [on the hockey team] typos

>[Peri Mason] should be [Perry]

>Chloe: He was different [form] from the other guys...

>object to the term [eunch] should be [eunich]

In every way, I really do think this is solid writing.

Good job!

Sandra





A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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EBurke73
Posted: September 6th, 2007, 10:11pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you for reading and the kind words, Sandra!

Breaking up the blocks is a good idea.  I'm still not certain where I got the idea of using italics for scene blocks.  I could swear I saw it in a play I had read, but darned if I can remember where, so I'll be fixing that.  I also agree that I should change the notes to the prospective director to being more direct.  I can always bully the director later (the advantage of stage plays over screenplays).  When I actually put up the series, that kind of thing will not be there.

It's interesting that it's still fatty in parts.  I'd knocked 15 pages off the last draft, but it goes to show that no matter how much you trim, you can always trim more.  The only concern I have on some of the trims is that I don't want to trim into incoherence.  I think in a previous draft, Tara and Monica's arguement made more sense, but I thought it put up too much exposition.  If you have any suggestions on that, I would be glad to hear them.

I'll also try to trim some of the speeches, but in a play, actors want monologues.  It's what they look for in a script as they believe it gives their part meat.   I will have to check out some more plays to see if there is a better way to put up the monologue.

If I can get a couple more reviews, between you and Set, I think this thing could be festival ready.

P.S. I guess, considering it was mentioned, I should change Peri to Perry.  Peri is a girl's name (short for Peripergullium (sp?)) as opposed to the male Perry.  But that's more of a visual wordplay and won't matter in spoken dialogue.

Thanks again!


It's the trial of the minute

Houseboy - The Time We Were on Trial

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-comedy/m-1188312962/

Now available:  Houseboy: The Series
The girls of Sigma Kappa Pi have a secret...
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1197232302/
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ABennettWriter
Posted: September 6th, 2007, 10:27pm Report to Moderator
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What's your definition of "houseboy"??

Just curious.
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EBurke73
Posted: September 6th, 2007, 10:57pm Report to Moderator
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Houseboy - A takeoff on the sorority tradition of a HouseMom, who took care of the girls during the school year.  The Sigma Kappa Pi sorority defines the houseboy as a lad lacking in some of the higher social skills (like most boys, but to a benign extreme) cooks, cleans, helps with studies and does overall odd jobs around the house.  In retrun, the girls teach him how to become more socially adept.

This is a secret, since some might consider this, I dunno, hazing in one sense, illegally cheap labor in another.  If he keeps the secret, the boy gets to stay in the Sigma Kappa Pi house the next year, rent free and doesn't have to do the chores.  Of course, sorority by-laws say a boy can't live in the house, so he's got to keep the secret for a year, while being set up with a false address on campus (something easily done.  My brother did it to SUNY Albany a couple of years ago).

Why HouseBoy?  Houseman sounds like a super hero.  Housebrother sounds just wrong.  And none of the girls voted for Housedork.


It's the trial of the minute

Houseboy - The Time We Were on Trial

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-comedy/m-1188312962/

Now available:  Houseboy: The Series
The girls of Sigma Kappa Pi have a secret...
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1197232302/
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ABennettWriter
Posted: September 7th, 2007, 12:14am Report to Moderator
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I was a houseboy for a few months while I lived in California. It wasn't a bad gig, overall. I made some nice pocket change. Let's just say that I did more than the "few odd jobs".
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Sandra Elstree.
Posted: September 7th, 2007, 2:26pm Report to Moderator
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What if the Hokey Pokey, IS what it's all about?

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Hello Daniel,

I think it's interesting how one can extract the juice and find topnotch elements which might be lost inside of large blocks and it's a valuable learning experience for all of us.

Whether it's screen, theatre or short story, snappy is probably the key to higher quality work.

Anyways, take a look at some of the experiments I did with Bethany's monologue in the PDF I sent.

I can see her alight on stage.

The day after tomorrow, I'll study further into it.

Sandra



A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.
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EBurke73
Posted: September 7th, 2007, 9:14pm Report to Moderator
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ABSteel - I suspected there might be a job that was actually a job called houseboy.  Could you let me know what the job description was?  Not what you actually did, in case you need it for fodder for your own stories, but what the job called for.  I might be able to use that.

Sandra - Thanks again for all your help.  I looked at your ideas and I can use and adapt them.  As I mentioned in my e-mail, I'm thinking of having Bethany and Jeannine use their speeches as weapons against one another, so I can use actions to break up the text.  It can also be used for "one-upwomanship," keeping with the themes of ego and hubris that permeate the script.  


It's the trial of the minute

Houseboy - The Time We Were on Trial

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-comedy/m-1188312962/

Now available:  Houseboy: The Series
The girls of Sigma Kappa Pi have a secret...
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1197232302/
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dogglebe
Posted: October 23rd, 2007, 9:21pm Report to Moderator
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I tried reading this, Dan, but had to stop.  The reason for this is because you gave us episode 30 (or so) to read first and we don't know where we are with it.  We don't know the characters or what's realy going on.

When the series is posted, I'll take a look at it.


Phil
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