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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Secrets and Lives Moderators: bert
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  Author    Secrets and Lives  (currently 1298 views)
Posted: January 5th, 2016, 6:24pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Secrets and Lives by Dominik - Drama - When a vicious criminal returns to town, a troubled man who took the gangster down years ago is shocked to learn that the kingpin wants him to join his organization. 85 pages - pdf, format

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Posted: January 6th, 2016, 11:48am Report to Moderator
Been Around

You know what a saguaro is?
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I found it difficult to read your work and here is a good example why:

Chad almost calms down when he unexpectedly spots a spider
climbing on his leg. The man's eyes widen as he screams in
a high pitched voice.

Chad is the subject of the paragraph. Then you interject "the man." While I can get your intent is "the man" is Chad, it's not clear writing.

Chad calms down when he sees a spider climbing his leg; he freaks out.

That's cleaner writing.

Freaks out, or something similar, leaves that acting open. Why is it important that he scream in a high pitched voice? I doubt it's important.

I know from history your script will be a difficult read and hence your story will be muddied, at least for me.
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Posted: January 6th, 2016, 9:44pm Report to Moderator

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Yeah it reads unclearly.

That second paragraph is a run-on. I don't even know what outdraw means in this context, and there's so many commas and clauses that I have no idea who "he" is until you meantion "shocked child."
And it's repetitive. You introduce Chad, but then you continue to say "terrified kid...shocked child....horrified Chad...yells at the kid." We get it, he's scared and a kid. You only need to mention it once, and you can just call him Chad from then on.

Know --> Now

You use a lot of helping verbs that you don't need. "a man starts to," "Chad starts to," "goes tumbling." Just get straight to the verb. It's shorter and has more action to it.

"Chad almost calms down when he unexpectedly spots a spider climbing on his leg." This makes it seem like he calms down because he sees a spider, because "when" sometimes works like "because." You can just separate the sentences. Chad begins to calm down. He spots a spider on his leg and screams." That way you connect the spider to the screaming, as opposed to being calm to the spider.

You call the room luxurious and tidy, then gray and unfriendly. They aren't exact opposites, but I feel like I'm getting mixed messages.

"Chad is firmly looking into the mirror as he brushes his teeth more and more wild."
This is fine, just the way it's written could be better. "Firmly looking" could be "gazes" and "brushes his teeth more and more wild" could probably be explained with a stronger verb.

"Workplace" is sort of vague. What kind of place is this? He seems sort of rich, is he working in a normal office, some hip-looking tech place, or some rich business kinda place?

You use A LOT of exclamation points. I suggest taking them out because it reads really hyper and excited.

This scene with Maddox is sort of weird. At first it seems like Maddox is leveraging their past the make Chad kill someone, but then Chad seems really into it, and it sort of takes away from the tension of the scene. It almost feels like Maddox is asking for a favor when he says "So I can count you in?"

This scene where Don places a pin on Tyler's chair makes no sense. Tyler "passes by his desk" and then somehow Don sneaks there to place a pin on it? And is he 17 or 14? And it seems like a little kid's prank, and not a teenager's.

How does the pasta get ready so fast?

Chad talks to himself too much for me to take seriously. He doesn't need to narrate every thing he thinks.

By page 16 you've introduced all these characters and they each bring up something "mysterious" from the past. I don't think it works too well. We first have no idea who the guy in the beginning was and if he shot Chad. Then we have John talking about these people he "took down" and how they're back. Then we have Maddox and this "misunderstaning." Then Katie breaks up with him and mentions his mother he is ignoring and his father that died (only to reveal that maybe his father isn't dead literally two pages later). And now another new character, Claudia, saying stuff about "betraying Otto."

I think it's great to build a little mystery and intrigue, but I feel like you're throwing a bit too much at us early on. Maybe that's a little unfair to say, since it's only 16 pages in.

Overall though, I think your dialogue needs a little more subtlety and subtext. The way they plainly dull out information or speak so directly isn't working for me.

You do have some good and intriguing bits, but you need to find a way to maximize those parts.

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Posted: January 7th, 2016, 6:26am Report to Moderator

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I can't say much about the writing. Dominik, if you are still at school there is a good chance for you to learn. You have help here.

I took a look to see if I could make sense of the logline when it turns out the vicious criminal, the gangster and the kingpin are one and the same. That's something that could be clearer.

  "A vicious criminal wants the troubled man who took him down to join his organization."

The setup does sound intriguing. We can expect the taking down to mean a prison spell with revenge to be extracted, so perhaps there is a trap with cross and double-cross. It seemed to take a long time to get the story, even 20 pages in I couldn't see what happened or where things were going.

The first scene is presented as an event that happened in the past that is possibly remembered in a nightmare of CHAD JOHNSON in the present. (He wakes, shocked.) He gets washed and dressed, and at work tells his secretary he had this recurring dream. She tells him something that makes him mad as he enters his office to find a friend who has come to tell him bad guys are back in town. Chad has a fit and the friend calms him. The secretary tells them MADDOX THORN is looking for Chad. He has come to talk about a "misunderstanding" from the past. He recruits Chad as a killer for his gang.

A teacher is challenged by the behavior of a student.

Chad meets his girlfriend at a restaurant. They break up. Returning home, Chad receives a fox in the post with a note from his dead father. A stylish woman arrives to inform him that her son is back in town.

The student is roused from bed by friends looking for fun.

The fox explores the sleeping Chad's apartment. The student gang break in and flee while Chad catches the student. Chad has a FLASHBACK to his nightmare (1993 or 2001?) where he was almost shot by a man who is killed by another kid. Chad lets the student go...

As Chad remarks on "a weird dream" I bailed. I expect these pieces come together but I found nothing interesting apart from the fox, which was bewildered as me.

For the writing, there is really too much. Some of the problems are carelessness, such as the top of page 2 where the scene should be BATHROOM. Here's the end of a key scene where issues are apparent:

  Chad nodes. Maddox approaches the exit of the room, but
  before he could leave, the man gets interrupted my Chad.

Leaving aside the typos, the writing could be clearer and you can surely see why - there are only two people in the scene; one does one thing and the other another. The rest you have is explanation. From the dialogue that follows you need only two words.

  Chad nods. Maddox turns to leave.

            Why me?

It needs something other than, "I believe we have already discussed this, Mr. Johnson."
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Posted: January 12th, 2016, 7:30pm Report to Moderator

Nottingham, UK
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I found the logline incredibly complicated, yet I started to read anyway. I guess it's because of your lovely name, Dominik!
Page 1 - I would call Chad always Chad (not the man etc), to minimise confusion.
Typo - What am I supposed to do with you NOW!?

Page 6 -
This can't be! (bites his lips) How did he find me so quick???'
Hm... I doubt very much that somebody who's hiding and don't want to be found would be whispering to himself!

I only read up to page 6. The script reads awkward. I assume it's because English is not your first language. If that's the case then we're on the same boat.

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