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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Minus Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: August 4th, 2007, 11:30am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Minus by Shannon Wells (msn) - Drama, Fantasy - As life seems to crumble before the eyes of an elusive twenty six year old school teacher, her and those around her discover true power lies in a much more mundane state...even if your abilities do border on the fantastic… 106 pages - pdf, format


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MsN
Posted: August 4th, 2007, 8:24pm Report to Moderator
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It was going to be a super powered Scarlet Johanson with a sex addiction, but even I know where to draw the line. Tee hee. Tell me what you think. Thanks.     -MsN
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dogglebe
Posted: August 4th, 2007, 9:56pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MsN
Tell me what you think. Thanks.     -MsN


You should review some other people's scripts, here.  That'll help you get your two scripts read.



Phil

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MsN
Posted: August 5th, 2007, 6:24pm Report to Moderator
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Phil, ouch. I read your script, and liked it. Some of us arent built for critical analysis. Ease up.
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ReaperCreeper
Posted: August 6th, 2007, 1:49am Report to Moderator
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If you don't comment on anyone's scripts, few  or no people are gonna read your work. It's give and take here, and that's that.

--Julio
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tweak
Posted: August 7th, 2007, 1:38am Report to Moderator
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A cure for insomnia?

The writing drags a lot.  The excessive use of BACK TO SCENE  interrupts the flow.

So let me talk about what works.  You get into the main character's head.  The conversations have some depth to them, which I found to be rare here.  But sometimes I had to ask myself if people really talk that way.

Now, let me get negative again.

Your weakness is drawn out action sequences.  They're just boring to read.

Did you notice that you put in CAPS certain directions like ENTER?  You do this a lot.  And it takes me out of the story.  The CAPS don't look necessary.

Your grammar and spelling is also pretty bad.  On page seven:

1) cant instead of can't
2) sisters instead of sister's
3) some run on sentences
4) missing semi-colons and commas

I suggest that you pick up the book "Elements of Style" and re-read your screenplay.  You can get away with a lot in screenplays, but, I think, you're going too far.

Please edit this, and I'll start again.

tweak
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NW3
Posted: August 29th, 2007, 8:32am Report to Moderator
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The spellchecker errors make it sometimes hard to read, but ignoring that, it has a promising style, particularly in some of the character interaction. The most remarkable thing about this script is the genre switch two-thirds of the way in, and that is quite entertaining if bizarre, but unlike FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, for example, the relationship melodrama to begin is so flaccid that few will stick around to discover it. A decent summary might help.

The title is good. It's not easy to encapsulate the whole script and the theme in a word. The summary is not good, I had no idea what this would be about, only that the main character is a 26-year-old school teacher in some kind of a rut. I'm not sure elusive is the word you want there. Enigmatic? Errant? Evasive? The fact that she is a school teacher is anyway ignored once she wrings the emotional charm out of Bo. It might suit if she were the sub, and Meesha had to let her go after her latest disappearing act. Is the exact age significant (in the script she is 'mid 20s')? We need to know why her life is crumbling, and what the power is; what she wants and what is stopping her. I don't understand the "mundane state", is that now or after the power kicks in? Fantastical abilities are mentioned as an afterthought; that should go up front.

I don't have time for a story analysis or breakdown on this one, but here are some thoughts as I read it. Take what you need and leave the rest.


*SPOILERS*

page 1

It's stating the obvious, but if the sun isn't up, the slug line is not EARLY MORNING but NIGHT. Even with the moonlight.

I don't know how much mail anybody gets in three days, but you could more easily set the scene with three newspapers still in their wrapper.

Are there forty or sixty messages?

It should be clear from the start that something strange has happened to your lead character in the three days she has been absent (presumably the 'elusive' characteristic). Since the first thing she does is fall into bed, you could usefully insert a scene that might be described as a dream but seems very real, containing flashes of the story to come, as you do later in the script.

page 3

End the scene after "Come with me." I have no idea why Meesha is crying, or why they hug, or what is supposed to be wrong with Tristen, or why she stares off at the kids in the playground. None of that matters. There are many scemes where the flow is slowed down in this way.

I couldn't see why Bo bonds so much with Tristen. He has a mother and father. You might suggest some psychological trauma (Daddy killed in this war that is raging throughout in the background?) that makes him rely on her. This is just one of a class full of kids after all. He could be autistic, or gifted, or special needs, or anything really that makes him a target for Havana at the end to expose Tristen's flaw.

The script meanders along until the startling incident where the mild-mannered teacher raises up the heavy piece of furniture. So the hook is the acquisition of super powers. Trishia should be shocked, stunned, crying out for explanation, but she just starts talking about the baby room.

It's not a good idea to have TRICIA as the name for TRISTEN's sister. When the conversation gets going, you know why a script needs those (CONT'D)'s that some appear keen to leave out. More than once I skimmed TRICIA'S APARTMENT as TRISTEN'S APARTMENT, and in the same way read Marcus for Matthew.

page 12

Hudina, Hudini... Houdini?

Get it proofed, it is sometimes hard to understand with spellchecker errors ("Your over due" should be "You're overdue", etc.) The random apostrophes make it worse.

page 17

You lay the message on thick where war "wages on screen a few feet from where Princess awaits birth"; we get that from Matthew's concerns a page earlier.

page 22

I'm sorry, but after all the overwrought emoting going on in the library (why a library?), when she coaxed the gun off him and Kenny popped another from the back of his pants, I laughed out loud. I can't imagine anybody taking this seriously the way it is written.

'Bo's tears' is an interesting, if sentimental device, but it soon descends to bathos the way she keeps it clutched, and when Kenny's blood is added... really, it seems like a spoof of a melodrama. Much of the dialogue aids this impression.


.                            MELISSA
.               My god, Frank...he's...dead.

.  Frank, obviously distraught, quickly changes the subject.



As you would when your son has just shot himself.

The Kenny character feels levered in to give the plot some drama. It might work if he were one of her emotionally-disturbed older students. I'd remove him completely, Tristen has quite enough to deal with atoning for Trishia.

Trishia doesn't fit the role of a sister in the script. She has the life Tristen should have, or be expected to have, if other demands were not made on her.
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NW3
Posted: August 29th, 2007, 8:33am Report to Moderator
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When her parents take her home, Tristen is put in the guest room, but here is the chance to have her back in her past, if she gets given her old room. Here she can reflect on life's mystery (or whatever is supposed to be the point of the water droplets in the shower). If the room is exactly as she left it years ago, or else totally transformed, we would know her parents attitude towards her.

There is a photo of Tristen and Kenny, why not the whole family?

The Kenny character is poor drama. Who would get beaten up so they want to kill themselves for the shame of being gay these days? He's as likely to shrug it off and audition for the next series of Big Brother.

page 26

Again there is the war footage on TV but this still hasn't emerged as the point of the script.

That POV TRISTEN over-the-shoulder shot is over-used. Direct attention with words.

The aftermath of Kenny's death is too detached. That's her mom telling Tristen her baby brother's funeral is "Tomorrow at four" like a hairdresser's appointment. The first thing would be Tristen taken iu as a suspect and grilled by the police, particularly in light of the singed books all around, the most remarkable aspect of the incident, which isn't even explored.

page 41

It's barely not 'barley', and 'vitals' are organs, not vital signs.

The business with the heartbeats is cute but I don't think will work on screen. Unless the idea is that someone in the vicinity has super-enhanced aural ability?

The intention might be to show forced detachment, but something is wrong where Matthew at the hospital casually informs Tristen her own parents are on vacation in Rome, which surely she would know before him, almost as if he's chatting instead of simply telling her her sister is dead. Find another way, such as if he mumbles about looking everywhere for a coffee machine but there isn't one, until she forces him to look at her and tell what has happened.

page 43

The dread words: BEGIN DREAM SEQUENCE

page 44

A voice on the phone says, "Don't worry, this isn't an assignment." At last, something exciting.

You could set up the situation between Tristen and Marcus in a brief scene at the beginning, perhaps as she returns home after the three days.

As the relentlessly irritating Nicholas turns up and does his 'shtick' Tristen tries not to smile but I'd expect her to try not to punch him in the face. His job is to bring the mystery behind her actions into the script (the entity, the program, the subjects). This should be done about page ten so we have something to become interested in.

for a coherent plot with sufficient motivation, either Kenny or Trishia should die, not both. It's presumably meant to be sensitive the way Tristen kisses 'Princess' but I was put in mind of ROSEMARY'S BABY and found it a bit creepy. You might hint that she is unable to bear children (curse the Military and their infernal experiments) to explain her devotion to the unborn child.

page 54

The black-suited men 'scattered out like the points on a clock' is an intriguing image. Well done.

Things really pick up with the arrival of Havana Petrikova. "I don't have authorization to engage you here," she says as they crush wall tiles. That's terrific. Possibly too many syllables to the name, I'd make it Petrovka.

page 63

Incidents come thick and fast now ("She LEVITATES a little. He doesn't notice." Really?) Imagining Nicholas is well done, the flashing light and the nod of understanding are once again highly intriguing, although by this stage far too late. There is no sense of anything like this through the first act.

You could really have something if you framed this entire script as the battle of the supervixens. Having Havana sacrifice her daughter is a bit Keyser Soze.

page 70

The Nicholas voice over seems to set the confrontation with Havana as the mother of all battles, yet we've just seen Tristen wrap a sink round her middle easily enough in the opera bathroom. Make that one a stalemate with the promise of a rematch.

"The moonlight paints the sky as a sea of puffy carpet" is painful.

Here at last Tristen emerges in her Supergirl guise. I could read a whole script of arch dialogue such as Nina sighing "Watch your @ss out there"; the humorous "Won't be hard in these pants" comes unexpectedly as if Tristen doesn't take herself so seriously after all. She has done far too much crying and soul-searching to be this witty character now, more is the pity.

In fact, this seems to be the start of a completely different script, in a whole other genre. There is no groundwork for CT camp, and simply having a sinister Army program as the driver behind everything leaves too big a leap for the reader not steeped in that kind of overused plot.

I'm not even going to address the CT carnage sequence.

page 76

I like the General's lines to the effect that: "Death is on call twenty four hours a day". That might make a good tagline to build your summary around.

I soon got used to the eccentric capitalization and scene heading fragments ('INT. CONCRETE BUS' is a classic). I was nearly helpless at the urgent lines, "They're covered in concrete. We have to get them to the beach to wash it off."

Why should Lola be German? Does every country get a super subject or just the butch ones?

I can't imagine how to make this script make sense. Perhaps Havana could be in the guise of the school head at the start, thwarting Tristen, or a nurse at the hospital causing Trivcia's death. You have the pair of them squaring up in the classic hero-antagonist face-off but this is just a back end incident, not the climax to the story.

page 84

Things get ever more outlandish as the great white shark appears. Are the sharks acting under Havana's dominion, or just doing what movie sharks do?

Meanwhile Havana is whaling on Lola. This completely skews the focus. Fine if Lola is somehow the nexus of the supergirl world, and the battle is fought over her.

page 85

As the dead whale rises out of the sea I'm wondering what happened to those sharks...

page 92

It's ASTON Martin. I couldn't let that one go.

I'd like it better at the end if we believe Tristen has vanquished Havana. As the exhausted school teacher returns to the school she learns a substitute has taken over her class, it's a shock to her and to us that Havana is in her place. The way you have it this is entirely predictable.

page 100

A beautifully singed zeppelin?

The ending is dire.

There is a lot to work on, although there is a lot to work with. I'd speed through the opening set-up to get to the Supergirl activity, with a much denser plot. You could have fun with that.
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ka3mapx
Posted: September 1st, 2007, 2:41pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Shannon,

Read your script recently and just thought I'd tell you that I enjoyed it.  I like how it takes the character on a complete journey and then some.  I would also like to commend you for finding an original way to set up a script as a family drama and then turn it on its heels by transitioning into a huge, superhero(ine) action spectacle.  Despite some confusion in the middle part....the whole scene when we first meet Nicolas and Tristen went a bit over my head the first time around, this was a good read.  What I liked most about the script, is that it had a heart.  I felt Tristen''s pain...and loved her blowout fight with Havana!!  The script reminded me of Mark Millar's "Wanted."  It's a comic series about superheroes who pull all the political strings behind the curtain.  

Needs refining, but, good work.  
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