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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Dramedy Scripts  ›  Oh, Christmas Tree
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  Author    Oh, Christmas Tree  (currently 2245 views)
Don
Posted: November 29th, 2017, 5:39pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Oh, Christmas Tree by Marty Chartrand - Dramedy, Family - A man drags his family along on his quest to find the perfect Christmas tree. 87 Pages - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



Visit SimplyScripts.com for what is new on the site.


-------------
You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  November 30th, 2017, 12:00pm
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Marty
Posted: November 29th, 2017, 8:26pm Report to Moderator
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Hi everyone,

I must have checked the wrong box. I am interested in feedback on this.

I notified Don as well.  

Thank you in advance.
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Dustin
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 2:45am Report to Moderator
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Action speaks louder...

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Sounds like an episode of the Simpsons. Dramedies are not my thing. I can't copy n paste from your script which makes things more difficult when trying to give examples. Your opening is written a little too passively for a pro screenplay... and you're a white male possibly nearing middle age so your gender or race isn't going to save you.

The 'we are on a mission' line of dialogue is off. The 'I am not going home without a Christmas tree' is all that is needed there. I could go on but you don't make things easy.

All the best... and I mean it.


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Marty
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 8:54am Report to Moderator
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Dustin,

Thank you for your feedback.

My deepest apologies for disappointing you. It's never my intention to do so.

I would more categorize this as a family story with dramatic and comedic elements. But for whatever reason, SimplyScripts has us choose a single category. I felt if I selected, Family I would have gotten but someone gives the middle finger. A selection of Drama would have been, but there's too much comedy for a drama. Comedy, but it's too serious at times.
So Dramedy it is.

I am a thirty-one-year-old white male.
So yes, middle age is creeping on in.

As for my writing being too passive for a professional screenplay,
I think I tend to write in a style that is easier for me to write, read, rewrite and proofread.   So there is no doubt that people who tend to like the classical style of screenplays will hate it. Maybe someday I will try to write to the more basic approach of screenwriting. Eliminating ellipsis, dashes, hyphens and so on.
This will more than likely always hold me back.

But the way I look at my current state is, I am not being paid to write a professional screenplay, the reader is not being paid to read a professional screenplay, so why not have a fun read?

Maybe I'm wrong and maybe I am just a bad writer who's never going to cut it. I guess time will tell but I don't think I'm ready to give up on it. Not yet at least.

Again, thank you for your time. I appreciate it and I am sorry this one wasn't worth it.

P.S. I truly mean zero disrespect by any of this and I really hope it isn't taken that way.

All the best,
Marty

Revision History (1 edits)
Marty  -  November 30th, 2017, 9:23am
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Dustin
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 10:15am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


Action speaks louder...

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Quoted from Marty
Dustin,

Thank you for your feedback.

My deepest apologies for disappointing you. It's never my intention to do so.


As I didn't have any intention of reading the entire content anyway, I'm hardly disappointed. My interest lies in the technical aspects of your screenplay. As you're a regular member here, my intention was to help you improve your technical ability.

Your storytelling ability is already without question, I believe.


Quoted from Marty

I would more categorize this as a family story with dramatic and comedic elements. But for whatever reason, SimplyScripts has us choose a single category. I felt if I selected, Family I would have gotten but someone gives the middle finger. A selection of Drama would have been, but there's too much comedy for a drama. Comedy, but it's too serious at times.
So Dramedy it is.


All stories have these elements in them. You have romance too, I bet. If not, then your script needs it.


Quoted from Marty
As for my writing being too passive for a professional screenplay,
I think I tend to write in a style that is easier for me to write, read, rewrite and proofread.   So there is no doubt that people who tend to like the classical style of screenplays will hate it. Maybe someday I will try to write to the more basic approach of screenwriting. Eliminating ellipsis, dashes, hyphens and so on.
This will more than likely always hold me back.


You're confusing classical with modern. What I'm suggesting is modern. You need only look at the poorly written screenplays from the past to prove this.

You've misunderstood what I mean by your writing being a little too passive. I'm talking specifically about your overuse of 'ing' verbs. One or two here and there is fine, but, generally, it is more active not to use them.


Quoted from Marty

But the way I look at my current state is, I am not being paid to write a professional screenplay, the reader is not being paid to read a professional screenplay, so why not have a fun read?


The read would be far easier and more fun if more active.


Quoted from Marty

Maybe I'm wrong and maybe I am just a bad writer who's never going to cut it. I guess time will tell but I don't think I'm ready to give up on it. Not yet at least.


The old 'maybe I'm a bad writer, but...' routine. How cliche. This from being offered advice on more active writing. Please... you're better than that.


Quoted from Marty

Again, thank you for your time. I appreciate it and I am sorry this one wasn't worth it.


Just so you know, I merely offered advice on your writing as I see that you're an active member, which makes you a serious writer. As you're a serious writer, why wouldn't you want to improve your grasp of the craft?


Quoted from Marty

P.S. I truly mean zero disrespect by any of this and I really hope it isn't taken that way.

All the best,
Marty


Mate, I can't be arsed with bullshit. Saying 'thank you' and I 'appreciate' means nothing to me at all. They're just words on a page, the real intent behind them unknown. You've clearly taken my post negatively, so why would you appreciate that?


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Marty
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 10:26am Report to Moderator
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Dustin,

I completely misread the 'ing statement. I agree. I tend to do that a lot.

I said thank you because you took the time out of your day to offer feedback. That is appreciated.

I did not mean any disrespect by it.

Your status on here shows you've been around and know what you're talking about.

I'll shut my mouth from here on out and take the feedback, fix things and move on to the next story.

All the best,
Marty
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eldave1
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 12:35pm Report to Moderator
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Gave this a read through 40.

It opens a bit slow/passive (see Dustin's notes).  

Other than that, the writing from a technical perspective is very strong IMO. That being said, I think there are story telling issues.

The wife is far too stereotypical and dated. This is someone who would have graduated high school around  2000 and she sounds (i.e., her voice) so old. Shake her up. Make her a modern woman, put an IPAD and a glass of wine in her hand - basically - get her out of the 1950s. She could serve much better as a comic foil in that regard. (e.g., researching the environmental damage from XMAS trees on her smartphone, etc. etc.).   Make her a real, vibrant person. ANd now that I think of it, this may be a more interesting tale if the roles were reversed.  i.e., flip the roles of the husband and the wife.

The reversals are too mundane. First - the car breakdown. It is such a common trope and an everyday event that most folks aren't going to get why it is a barrier - especially with things like rental cars/Uber, etc. etc.  

Second - the mini-van.  The problem here is that how much easier it would be to just clear out the snow from the mini-van than it would be too take the convertible to get a tree. You don't want your viewers thinking - shit, why don't they just.....

So - yes - getting a large tree in an open convertible - funny stuff. Just get there in a less complicated fashion. They simply have two cars - a mini-van and a convertible. He goes to start the mini-van - dead as a doorknob. On to the convertible.

I am 40 pages in and I have no sense of why this tree mission is critical to him. This needs to be clear much earlier. I also have no idea what role his Dad's death played in all of this instant need for Christmas cheer and I think I need to know that as well.

So - while I think the writing from a technical perspective is very solid, the story is not holding me at the 40 page mark because I have no sense of the reason for this mission, the urgency and the obstacles set up seem mundane.

Hope this helps. I do like your style.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Marty
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Dave,

Thank for once again for the read and for the feedback.

You make some great points that will help with this story and all my future ones.

At 40 pages in, I should have you hooked not walking away. I'll work on that.

You put into great prospective what my strengths and weaknesses are. Thank you for that.

All the best,
Marty
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eldave1
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 1:08pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Marty
Dave,

Thank for once again for the read and for the feedback.

You make some great points that will help with this story and all my future ones.

At 40 pages in, I should have you hooked not walking away. I'll work on that.

You put into great prospective what my strengths and weaknesses are. Thank you for that.

All the best,
Marty

My pleasure - all the best


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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khamanna
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 3:59pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Marty,
I read the first 15.
I couldn't understand your main guys problem. I mean - I do see it in the longline but don't think it's on the pages. I see they are looking for a tree in the first two scenes - but it reads just like another regular day.
Also there's no much conflict and that spoils the read.
So he couldn't find a tree - that's no biggie, I'd think.
So he lost his dad but what's of it?
I suggest you infuse it with conflict between family members.
He doesn't have a car - how about his wife is reluctant to drive him or something.

(On an unrelated note he tells his wife "My cousin Victoria" - just "Victoria" as she knows who Victoria is)

I might be off with this review but that's how I read it. And if I missed something I'm sorry.
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Shakey
Posted: November 30th, 2017, 5:32pm Report to Moderator
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You know what? I actually learned something.

I quite literally am the new guy round here. Sniffing around the threads, trying not to lurk too creepily. So Iím sorry in advance and probably in perpetuity.

... But I notice that youíre apologising more than an Englishman for even posting a great big long script thatís clearly taken you craploads of hours and hard work to create. I mean, Iím actually English. Iíve already apologised 57 times today: I got on the tube - sorry - I walked past someone - sorry - I bought a coffee - sorry. You get the idea. But you should not be apologising for submitting a script to the vague appraisals of various typists.

I read the first ten pages. I learned: I need to break up my action paragraphs a WHOLE load more than I do currently. You do that, and it makes the whole thing a whole load more readable. I skimmed, and I understood. Sorry for skimming (Iím English, I can excuse ANYTHING). But I did skim and I still understood, because the action was simple enough and the dialogue was clear enough.

So... no more apologies. Youíve written a feature. And I learned from even the first 11%. Thank you!
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Marty
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Hi Khamanna,

Thank you for the read and for your feedback.

Because it is unlikely that people will read the whole script, I will summarize it for everyone.

A man loses his father. It is Christmas Eve. They have no tree, no decorations. No care for a Christmas. After seeing a photo of his parents and himself around a Christmas tree, he gets the idea to cheer up his mother by giving her a great Christmas. They look for a tree here and there. Thy are offered a tree. It is not good enough so they turn the tree down. They get a tree. They lose a tree. They find a tree. They lose that tree. Roy feels like he's let his mother down. The rest of the family find the original tree that wasn't good enough for Roy and bring it home. Roy realizes through this act that it was never about the tree but rather the family around it. There's a convertible driving in the snow. A broken radio that only repeats "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." A large man named Bruiser chopping down trees in the forest. Family loss. Family love.

All the best,
Marty
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Marty
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AlwaysTheNewGuy,

No need to apologize. Get yourself accustomed to the site.

The best advice I can give is you get what you put in. So offer feedback and submit.

I'm glad that you were able to find something useful out of my screenplay.

As my first feature, it's a little rough but it's okay. I will improve.

Some like my style and some don't. A lot of feedback is subjective. But very, very helpful. Breaking up your action is always recommended. You want people to find your writings to be quick reads.

Best of luck to you with your current and future projects.

All the best,
Marty
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Shakey
Posted: December 1st, 2017, 6:34am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Marty
The best advice I can give is you get what you put in. So offer feedback and submit.


Thanks!

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StevenClark
Posted: December 4th, 2017, 9:42pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Marty,

Iím on this. Iíve read 27 pages so far, a few days ago. Iím putting the finishing touches on my own family type Christmas feature at the moment, so this appealed to me.

From what I get out of the first act, Iím seeing a lot of tragedy - I think your protagís father just died? - but Iím not getting much rationale yet for this journey to go out and get the perfect tree, which I believe is because grandma is coming and he wants the perfect tree? Sorry, itís been a few days since reading. Anyway, Iíll have a better thought out opinion once I read this all the way through, which I hope to do. Cheers then.

Steve


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Marty
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Steve,

Thank you in advance for the read. It's my first "complete" feature so it's more than likely going to have some growing pains involved. Any notes you provide will help greatly during my rewrite.

All the best,
Marty
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Marty
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All,

I'm currently working on a rewrite to address the issues listed.

Thank you all for all of your time given to this script and for the great feedback I received.

Hopefully with the rewrite, I can add more character and plot development to make the script more enjoyable and have more of a meaning.

All the best,
Marty
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Dustin
Posted: December 12th, 2017, 11:37am Report to Moderator
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Action speaks louder...

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Good luck on making it to final draft.


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Marty
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Dustin,

Many thanks to you again.

All the best,
Marty
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StevenClark
Posted: December 13th, 2017, 7:47pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Marty. Donít wanna leave you hanging. Iím on page 72. Almost done.


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Marty
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Steve,

No need to apologize my friend. I appreciate every note you have. Many thanks to you again.

All the best,
Marty
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StevenClark
Posted: December 15th, 2017, 1:39am Report to Moderator
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Marty,

Okay. First, I think this story has flashes of brilliance to it. The Bruiser scene, and old lady in the monster truck. I also enjoyed the neighbors dogs, and feel you could have done much more with that! Iíd have had them shitting all over the place, but thatís me.  I enjoyed those. The rest kinda fell flat for me. Hereís why. Youíre trying to build up momentum as we go, but I think Royís motivation, needs work, as does his characterization. You never give us much of a back story on how much Roy loved his parents and thatís important. Story wise, that motivating factor - to give grandmas the best Christmas after her husbands passing - needs a better set up and more detail. Aside from grandpa dying, maybe Royís Mom always had a big Christmas tree when they were kids and really went all out, giving Roy the motivation he needs to make this the best Christmas ever. If that is in there somewhere, itís possible I missed it, it needs to stand out more than it does because this is whatís driving Roy.

Second, Iím not sure why Royís family all agrees to go with him on Christmas Eve. They all seem like willing followers, and I feel there should be a reason they should all go other than to placate their fathers whims.

This felt, at times, like Nation Lampoons Vacation. Was that a motivator?

There are certain scenes like the visiting of the three or four farms that could have been condensed to just a series of shots. It takes up a lot of space where it doesnít have to and would make for a quicker read.

There really is no b-story here to kind of interrupt whatís going on. Itís one long set up, action, then resolution, and it reads, as much as you did your best to make it quick and to the point, kinda pedestrian. There are several scenes where you could have amped up the action and brought it to a different level. Old Lady with the monster truck scene is one. I was almost expecting to see Roy and her get into fisticuffs, and was disappointed when that didnít happen. Thatís not the only way to go here, but you would have had that as well as the familyís reaction to it to write about.

However, I did like the Bruiser scene and thought you handled that pretty well.

The writing itself doesnít pop, and you use way too many asides is there to illustrate certain points when snappy dialogue and snappy writing would have done better to get your point across. Not sure what this is:

(Action)

Until,

(Then more action)

Lose it. It just reads weird and is unnecessary. I know what youíre trying to do, but, like the asides, it doesnít work and shouldnít be there. Youíre stressing the point of a certain reveal or moment with that, when snappy writing would have sufficed. What Iím saying is itís a cheap way to do it. Your a writer - a creator! Create then, think about it and figure out a way to do it better.

Overall, itís not a bad story, but it needs a whole lot more to make it great. I thought I had the ending figured out. I thought youíd go the Vacation route and have Grandma not show up at all, making the whole ordeal worthless.

All that being said, I do like Christmas stories. I enjoyed this. It was memorable in spots, laughable ( in a good way) in others. Reminds me of my first feature. I thought I had it down cold, but when I look at it a few years later I can see all the obvious mistakes and writing issues that I couldnít back then and it makes me cringe.

Anyway, take what I say with a grain of salt. Iím no Ernest Hemingway. And if you need any opinions on anything specific do not hesitate to instant message me.

Steve


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Marty
Posted: December 15th, 2017, 10:28pm Report to Moderator
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Steve,

Thank you so much for the read and the feedback. I appreciate all of it.

I agree that the characters and plot need more development. As does the need for more backstory and conflict. But more than anything, I think I need to finalize the tone and what story I am trying to tell here.

I think a major area where things went wrong for me was not deciding the kind of story I wanted to tell. At first it went from having a Hallmark feel, then a PG Christmas Vacation sort of on the lines of Alexander and the Terrible No Good Very Bad Day. When I think all the while what I really wanted to write was a darker story with more crude humor the likes of Little Miss Sunshine. But that may change again as I rewrite it. Doesn't it always?

I am working on a rewrite that will hopefully address all of its flaws while adding more plot and character development as well as added humor and drama.

All of your feedback is going to help with this.

As for the writing style, I think with most of my shorts having action heavy elements, I stuck with it instead of writing it more dramatic. Something else that was a great lesson to learn. Have style but know when and when not to use it. A time and a place.

I'll get better.

Thanks again, Steve.

All the best,
Marty

Revision History (1 edits)
Marty  -  December 15th, 2017, 10:54pm
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StevenClark
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You will get better! Good luck on the rewrite!

Steve


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HyperMatt
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I havenít read the over comments here, so apologies if I am repeating anything that has already been said.  As you say, this is a first draft, and you seem to know a lot of the issues here, but at least you completed a draft of a feature script, which is a momentous task, so congrats on that.
I think it is the perfect length for a spec script (Iím trying to aim between 87-94 for my future feature scripts as opposed to pushing 120). I like the simplicity of the story, and it is easy to follow. A family themed Christmas film is a bit corny for me, maybe if I get a family I could relate to this stuff a bit more. But there is a bit audience for this family entertainment stuff. This would make an ideal TV Christmas movie.
For the most part, I like the way you handled Roy, teetering on the edge of his sanity, his fake joviality to the family, the heavy breathing, on his obsessive quest to get a tree.  I think it really works when he is on his own. I do like that scene on 20 where the family downstairs listen to Roy come in and go straight upstairs. I do think a stronger scene is needed to make us buy into his obsession to get that tree at all costs. Beth is a very supportive and understanding wife, too understanding, the whole family is. Although the kids complain, I find it hard to believe they will go along with it as much as they do without causing a great fuss. This could add more tension and obstacles in your story.
Thing I found most interesting here is how a pretty pedestrian story is turned into an adventure. Thereís potential there. As Roy and the family go deeper into their misadventures, this really started to remind of the family from the Chevy Chase Vacation movies, the Griswolds, especially when they are wondering the forest and find the tree. I enjoyed that scene.
Roy is an interesting conflicting character, but I felt he came across as very selfish, even with the stress and grief he is suffering. I felt sorry for the shopkeeper and others that he was giving a hard time. I actually felt Bruiser came off as the better man when they have their confrontation. Although I feel a lot of sympathy for Roy when he weeps in the shower, so I guess he redeems himself, he knows he has acted appallingly. I think you could have found a better way to describe Royís final breakdown that a countdown, give the actor more to work with. I thought Grandma Mae was a bit too corny, typical grandmother.
Far too much is concentrated on the Christmas tree, you could do a lot with other Xmas objects, like the thousands of Xmas lights, you could have a lot of fun with that, I like the way you wrote it, it sounded like a swarm. Nice visual of the minivan packed with snow.
I think you could do a lot more to hook the audience early, especially the first scene. Having the family in the car bored did not seem interesting to me. You need a punch, and I would recommend you think long and hard of what that would be, something connected to the theme of Christmas? Something that puts Roy even more on edge at the get go?
The ending was a bit too cutesy and corny for my liking, especially Bethís speech to Roy.  
The way you introduce the family at the start, why do they get their own separate line? Why not introduce all the Gibbons once, as opposed to twice?
A lot of the dialogue seems matter of fact and could do with a proper going over, but that is to be expected from a first draft.
There are some redundant action lines that could just be taken out, e.g., on page 4, ĎAnd so does Royí is redundant because the next line is ĎROY; I agree.í
Watch out for homonyms (their-theyíre, your-youíre) spellcheckers are absolutely no help with these. I make this mistake all the time.
I hope you find this helpful, and good luck with your next draft.


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Marty
Posted: December 23rd, 2017, 8:15pm Report to Moderator
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Matthew,

Thank you so much for the read, the positive words, the notes, and the feedback. I really appreciate all of it.

The script definitely has it's hits and misses in my opinion. I need to work a lot of it out.

I think the tone of it changed a lot during my writing of it. At first, I thought Hallmark channel. Then, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day meets Christmas Vacation. Now, Little Miss Sunshine. I'm definitely making it darker and changing up a lot of it. I'm working on giving Roy and Beth more conflict. Making Beth more of a 2017 woman and wife. Giving the kids a goal. Making Grandma Mae less bland and portraying why a simple Christmas Tree means so much to Roy and his mother.

Hopefully, I can do that. Either way, it has been a great lesson on what to not do and thinking about the reader. When we are the writer we live with these characters so they grow to make sense in our own mind. It is our job to make them make sense in the reader's mind. I didn't do that here. I will. I'll get better.

Happy holidays and thank you again for everything.

All the best,
Marty
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HyperMatt
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With all our suggestions, donít forget your original vision!


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Marty
Posted: December 24th, 2017, 9:15am Report to Moderator
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Matthew,

Great point. One I'll be sure to take to heart. Thank you once more.

Happy holidays.

All the best,
Marty
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MarkItZero
Posted: January 2nd, 2018, 4:31pm Report to Moderator
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Marty, I meant to give at least some of this a read then Holidays happened. Are you in the middle of a re-write or moving on to something else such that I should hold off on notes?


That rug really tied the room together.
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Marty
Posted: January 3rd, 2018, 11:06am Report to Moderator
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Mark,

I'm currently in the middle of a rewrite for this script. I've received some very good feedback and notes thus far. So it's your call on whether or not you want to wait until it's finished or provide notes on the first draft. You know me, I appreciate any and all help, whenever and wherever I can get it.

Thank you in advance.

All the best,
Marty
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MarkItZero
Posted: January 3rd, 2018, 8:57pm Report to Moderator
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I'll just wait for the new draft. Good luck with it!


That rug really tied the room together.
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Marty
Posted: January 4th, 2018, 2:41pm Report to Moderator
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Mark,

That sounds good to me. Thank you in advance.

All the best,
Marty
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