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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  In Transit Moderators: bert
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  Author    In Transit  (currently 1073 views)
Posted: December 3rd, 2017, 9:08pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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In Transit by Adam Blockton - Comedy, Drama, Fantasy - A frustrated writer's life is turned upside down when he's informed he may not actually exist but is just a part of someone else's dream. 110 pages - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

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Posted: December 21st, 2017, 10:44pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Adam,

I just read into In Transit

I like your title, although it reads more as coming from the drama front with a potential SF angle

Interesting logline. Only problem is the concept may suffer from the prejudice that stories based around writers are not overly intriguing or doing well on the markets. I'll see…

Opening shot is not as original as you may perhaps think. Reads fine but--- seen before; might turn readers off.

P3 trim dialogue and bring in physical interaction. Something, anything, visual should be in the picture of each scene, no matter how dialogue-driven or static the scene is otherwise designed.

Top p4 you must get out of this scene, extremely talking heads scenario… with borderline on the nose dialogue by the way.

How can you show what they say? Possibly start later into the script anyway; not sure...?

Top P5: better go with spelled out first name in new scenes than with He.

"I could tell them the vineyard was on Jupiter,
it would still be too earthy."

Funny line.

Bartender/Scotty - decide

Okay…  I only read first ten when I don't know if the writer is around.

I must say this gets constantly more interesting. Humor is there. Character as well; not sure about his writing background though, because he's partly behaving/talking a bit too juvenile… undecided about that yet.

Dialogue gets massively better as the story proceeds but man you need to look over that in bed scene. It really hurts your exposition the way it is right now. Too slow, too many spoken words, mostly an expositional talk. We realize how you feed us there. It needs to be more subtle and also you should have main focus on something visually there. Pictures can work as a detraction to bring spoken information across much more satisfying.

Not bad at all. You definitely are a dialogue writer and by processing scripts in that fashion I just can imagine you're partly your own worst enemy when doing so. Action is stronger than dialogue, always. Better work economically with your strength, dialogue, and it will shine much more within the overall motion picture.

Didn't get the true context of nut/tooth scene – it may be a daydreaming characterization in the vein of, say, Walter Mitty character??

Not bad at all. Some good mystery, charming parts... the exposition as a whole is good I think. I know what he wants and get a sense of the tone.

Universe opening is critical to me. Make it fast or get rid of it. We know this shot. Bedroom scene must be fixed imo.

I think I would read on if you chime in and engage on the boards. Your performance is more than solid.

Best of luck

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Posted: December 28th, 2017, 2:53pm Report to Moderator

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Hi. Thanks for the feedback! I will definitely take another look at that first scene. It does feel long. As for the opening image, there is a reason for that. Which will be kind of mirrored later on. I am actually in the middle of a rewrite as we speak.

Thanks for the tips!
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Posted: December 29th, 2017, 3:14pm Report to Moderator
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Cool that you checked in here. I'll read the script in the next days/weeks don't know how the new start will be... but I'm interested.

Re the first shot. I can understand that you give importance to it when it has a storytelling value that unfolds later... then, still I'd get through it quicker, actually as quick as possible, because many readers know this universe, zoom in shot. In that case, sense isn't always a priority because it is still what it is on first impression -> one of the most done opening shots. You know, it stays a fact. That dilemma reminds me of non-attractive titles where the authors nonetheless think their title perfectly fits the story's outcome and so they need to go with it... but what about the first impression, the point when taking a choice to watch or read? Those things work direct as triggers and not kind of backhanded if you understand what I mean.

I'll come back with some notes soon

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Posted: December 29th, 2017, 4:28pm Report to Moderator

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Great point. I look forward to your notes. Happy new year!
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Posted: January 12th, 2018, 4:08am Report to Moderator
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Hey Adam,

the script is massive, as my review is here, and I hope you already have and get further opinions and perspectives from other readers. Imo your story has immense potential and mainly delivers big time.

Continuing In Transit:

First skimmed the first 10 pages again, the bar scene is definitely great mystery…

P13 he's pretty quick convinced of Ramsey's theory - the bail should still be a moment considered as coincidence by Fred

Okay I stay on p13 - this moment does not deliver yet; we just realize how you trick us by pushing that dialogue like: Well I don't believe you but for plot moving sake, give me some more expositional information…The content and timing to go into concept at this point feels 100% correct btw. Work on delivery. I repeat myself while correcting a typo I made in my initial post: Pictures can work as a "dis"traction to bring spoken information across much more satisfying. Capture the expositional dialogue parts and place them in a moment of characters' physical movement.

It's still not "horrible" the way you do it there but if you want my precise thinking – improve it, it's possible to get a better translation there. This moment when you reveal full plot must shine imo.

P16 I looked back for a physical description of Ramsey; there's few to nothing which I find curious because he feels like an odd catalytic arc figure to your story. Maybe I overlooked some stuff…

P17 dialogue with cliché topic is dangerous dialogue IMO, with the first one in that direction (landlord banging blah) you have already made one on the border to 4th wall breaking, which I found great on its own… but then: "YUCKA
Don't you put your cliches on me!
You're the deadbeat tenant, cliche!"

this is when a reader senses insecurity in you. It's that kind of self-ironic I know I plot a movie right know, haha talking to reader…

again: Her to him you're cliché – great, didn't see that coming

Him replying: No, you're the cliché – this one takes me out because it makes me think about you, to close to 4th wall with regards to movie world reference

P18-22 Some funny stuff there and what I especially liked is that you got control over drama, and place the relationships' conflicts in there. Perhaps a bit too long it is, though. I think I'd try to get as much lines out there as possible. The structure of this scene works fine. It's just that there might be some repetitive expressions: like Paul playing the smart douche, Winnie almost flirting with him over and over,,, Winnie criticizes Fred excessively, to a degree that I question him not going for a true counter toward her, personally. His last monologue is great.

If you cut the repetitive parts there, I feel a lot of uneven parts would vanish because of the overall acceleration the story takes.

We'd still have all dramatic beats: Winnie's and Freddy's relationship probably gone. You'd also strengthen Michelle (too much background she is as is) and her protective behavior toward Winnie.

So, all in all stay as much as possible with the dramatic backbone and go with the jokes that work around that core. The rest is filler and even weakens the tension.

Whatever I said, it's overall a good scene.

In the next two-three scenes I await some payoffs and to get more orientation --  The build-up should be done now!!! Let's see.

Freddy's so pleasantly stupid.

Okay, it still lives because it's funny –

p26 dialogue Mary …She’s filling in while
Mary – deliberately or mistake?

Okay entry to second act at page 30, she takes his hand…

- Not for formulaic reasons: let it be 27 imo

Cut 2 to 3 pages of dialogue. All groundwork is good, all fine. Give it just more pacing with trimming to the very essential beats. Action, as I said somewhere above, is stronger, especially structurally more important, and it dictates the pace. So shorten the spoken parts in between to get forward.

"Is your life really that great that
you have to live it always being
afraid you could lose it?" good one

33/34 I like the whole dialogue
Still, critique stays same as above, give them something in their hands, let us see something within the picture, make something happen in the background… be visual in between and cut spoken words. It's visually too static. F.i. use the museum, crack a joke there, like, let some fool enter and accidently slam down into the Middle East or Australia miniature… big potential for situation comedy here while staying in full plot mode between Lucy and Freddy same time. Maximize and multiply experience, compress and cut dialogue.

- don't like (beat), to me it's technical intervention that distracts from story

P35 page break at mid-sentence of dialogue

The payoffs do eventually come.

"They start walking out… started raining…" not good, when using verbs better avoid combinations with the words start, begin, stop or finish; it's non-active language, waste of space, slows down the read etc…

Don't use "suddenly" either…

P48 that Ramsey says he himself made a mistake with presenting Freddy "the truth", feels like the first "little" structurally issue of the script. Plot-wise it feels as if Ramsey has constructed himself as the antagonist this way. It does not feel right to me, rather artificially made up. You may consider an alternative to Ramsey telling it Freddy as he did when you just want him fight Freddy for having that exact knowledge on the very next day. Indeed it's like a careless mistake of him which has so much weight and consequences that it feels uneven plotted in context of the story.

BTW The dialogue in that scene is much better balanced. Just analyze how your short sentences there, mainly carried by one/ two-liners, accelerate the plot here drastically and make the longer dialogue parts effectively stand out -- in comparison to those "constant" six and more liners of back and forth in dialogue scenes at other places!! Much more punch and substance here.

P57 not sure why Ramsey doesn't follow him outside; plot that better; reason why he can't go after him that moment

By the way, it's midpoint area and I'm entertained. The payoffs keep constantly coming; now even his writing background bounces back into the script etc…

For the last fifteen pages, from the point I was sold on this story, there's only one simple question I'm thinking of: Are you able to give a worthy explanation of the main mystery of 'Ramsey is dreaming'?

Everything stands and falls with that one payoff to come later. If you pull that one thing, you should get the rest in shape since there's so much substance everywhere.
((Other remark: I don't want to go into dialogue anymore. I repeated my sight over and over that it should be clear. It super-slows down the read so that the script, now, at the midpoint, feels as if I read 80 pages or more. Especially too many filler sentences that add nothing and could be cut without being missed))

@@@ addition: dialogue in second half of the script is way better balanced and far less overdone

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Posted: January 12th, 2018, 4:09am Report to Moderator
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part 2

P 60 How's that coming from Michelle?
She wasn't that present since yet ((which is a little mistake imo)) nor did she ever truly come across hostile toward Freddy yet

;-) well, forget what I've just said, I see your construction to separate them… some things are what they are. It's okay

p63 " BED, looking out the WINDOW" generally, you capitalize too many secondary items

p70 "feel like I’m talking to Danny Ocean" it's funny but nevertheless I actually wanted to say earlier to you that you have too many movie references in there. They are amusing but you however shouldn't go that route. You rather want us to forget our disbelief and find us connecting to your story than having us dragged off through pop-art references and such like.  

Psychologically, it's actually pretty close to the cliché scenario at Lucy's door that I pointed out above. Better go deep with all you got than translating that smart kind of universal entertainment knowledge into your script. A lot of writers do it and think it's creative. Good readers, however, sense it immediately and see it as bad decisions and even insecurity, blandness and more. You're no way full on this track (bad writers actually do heavily ""stuff"" their scripts with those elements) but I swore to myself, as I once realized a certain frequency occurring, that I'd call you out if it would happen one further time…

In a sense, keep only one or two references that work super well "for" you and won't distract us. When you do more in that specific area, the reader is going to call you in question, especially the motives its usage has for your story, the script they just read.

P71/72 "I wouldn’t worry about that. I
crushed three Xanax into your tea."
Safe combination?
So you want the envelope?
If there’s a combination to a safe
in it, yes."

Just funny. So, not to forget a note on the humor up to this point. It's completely up my alley, pretty diverse, spontaneous, charming, simply intelligent, and very balanced; even the flat and nuts bits are precisely working in favor of the script. All in all, I caught myself giggling more than twenty times…

p81 same issue as noted before… Just as I thought the momentum is excitingly crazy and I was so under tension wanting to read on, you throw out: Willy Wonka’s “Wonkavator”, MUZAK version of “White Rabbit” plays, BRIAN MAY, the guitarist from QUEEN…

Look, I'd want to say to you that it works, but it does not in a written story. Work differently: just describe that elevator, describe that music as the coolest goofball muzak, whatever, but just don't throw this amount of pop-art real-life references.

80-90 So, it seems everything is fine between Ramsey and Freddy… not sure if I missed something here, but imo, no matter if Freddy has had his success story now they still should have a talk about that whole dream theory and its conclusion… Why and What has happened that they now collaborate must be identifiable and entirely comprehensible. As is, Freddy just forgets and accepts; not sure if the audience can identify with his sudden almost ignorant complete turn to: "whatever master of dreams, I don't want to get behind it anymore, let's call it a win-win"

p92 how she gives him the Paul revelation feels rushed and constructed
93 just like you resolve their entire relationship here

This scene needs to be better, more subtle, and also more visual…

P95 overall structure is still great -- big drama moment at the right time, all well set-up before…

P97 ohhh, they did not have sex yet, did they? That makes the scene at 93 more grounded and balanced in hindsight. Actually, Freddy looks much better in that scene retrospectively since back then he didn't ask her precisely..

P98 another good payoff re collapsing buildings

"Well, thanks for that, Morpheus—"

p103 I hoped all along for an autonomous explanation… you're still too far in the Inception world for my taste and now there's even a lot of Fight Club ending scene vibe here…

So, Winnie (ahm, Scarlet) also accepts into dream theory?

Then that ending… You really pulled hard for a mainstream, epic, same but different style.

And I can understand that decision.

I must think about it. The problem with fiction is that it's so hard to find a logical, reasoned, and satisfying ending.

So, while they talked about it over and over, and you really tried to hammer it into my head, I'm still not sure if I get the exact rules how the dream(s) work.

And this is your main issue.

I had a moment when I thought the story experience was so strong so that I originally would have said at this place that I wouldn't change a single scene. With having read the ending and parts of third act I'd revoke my assessment.

You need to get control over the rules of your dream scenario. It's too irritating and established by spoken words. The big turning point f.i. is when Lucy gave Freddy Xanax and he had that safe opening moment. So, that was it? Now he's in control and not Ramsey… But then it's still Ramsey somehow, at least he says so in the climax…

You got a problem there!

Those rules are not clear.

Otherwise, now the positive things in short:
The script felt massive. Characters: great to awesome, simply fun. Structure: crafted very well except for the final conclusion... which hurts the plot retroperspectively. Otherwise there are constant set-ups and perfect payoffs all along the way...
Comedy: throughout enjoyable, there's so many that I see would land massively when brought to life on screen; partly there are hilarious jokes crafted by you, far superior to most of the mindless garbage out there. story: completely my taste of things. dialogue: despite of the overusing and spoken filler/obvious repetitive sentences --- it's impressive and a joy to read and follow, thumbs up

Improve: Cut 10 pages of spoken words, especially and mainly from the first half of the script. You need to imo tighten the script and clock in at 95-100. When you tighten the plot and accelerate the story, you also might understand better how that "dreamworld" works EXACTLY and what the best comprehensible and satisfying resolution is for your audience.

It's not far away, Adam. You can nail that script. This is no way in need of a page one rewrite or something, rather a thoughtful polish with deeply reconsidering the core conditions. Compress the rules of dreaming, maybe let go some complex side ideas like: who dreams first, volunteers or additionally the mass of scientific to philosophic debates about self-awareness and worldview. It somehow felt so scattered that you see I even got problems to articulate what all happened within that area.

So, probably you should rather take two three ideas in that direction that you really explore and communicate precisely.  

@ almost forgot: I would have liked a better visual description and introduction for both Freddy and Ramsey. I never was truly sure how they exactly look like

Minor tips: Not sure about the title in hindsight… could be/should be more into your genre imo: How would Lucy call that script???? (<- give it a funny perspective) ---- cut reference of him being a writer from logline, it's simply not what readers cherish in a logline (writers are seen as boring and you unnecessarily face that prejudice). You take enough risks in the story, now make it easy for you in any imaginable way.

The key will be to find the last bit that drags the fiction element away from the Inception atmosphere. It must be far more distinctive on its own and work separately as a coherent, autonomous world.

My comments usually do mirror the scripts I read in some odd way, and this one obviously runs under the name massive.

It's a good story just yet. Partly it blew me away. Make it touchable and compress it, cut the stuff that hinders us to get a full picture and be precise with the parts that help you to translate direct and unequivocal.

Best of luck with this script.

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