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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Family Scripts  ›  Designing Christmas Moderators: bert
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  Author    Designing Christmas  (currently 1025 views)
Posted: November 19th, 2017, 12:41pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Designing Christmas by April J. Miller - Family - An insecure divorced mother goes on a reality show where she is paired with a builder to restore and decorate a house for Christmas in order to win a job and keep her children from her arrogant and rich ex-husband.  What she doesn't anticipate is falling in love in the process. 131 pages - pdf, format

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Posted: November 21st, 2017, 2:47pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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Hey April,

I just read the first ten of

Designing Christmas

a quite promising project for my taste. I made some critical comments about the writing though, don't take it personal.

Title: The direction of the title is interesting, still not sure yet if it's the final, best choice of words/wording. There might be even more potential in same/current direction…

The logline is fine, really. I'm not sure if the second sentence is needed though. I'd already expect what is said there from the first one, seems dramaturgical clear to me, especially since you effectively set it up with the verb "paired".

Page count is a problem I must say: family is probably the shortest genre of all, pretty often even shorter than 90 minutes…

Formatting looks clean and tidy. Some nit-picks:  missing colon after Fade In. I'd also get rid of the continued at page breaks. You really have our attention when looking in the script; then mentioning the story is Continued is shooting draft terminology as far as I know… P2 Typo: she’s checks p4/5: page break – as far as I know, when there's dialogue at the page break, only insert (MORE) after a "full" sentence.

Okay, all in all I'm quite interested so I read some pages and see if you're active then and so on…

Ah, almost forgot, you got no contact information on your title page yet. An email address should help to reach you if there's interest.

P1 "walks out" you forget the object here, where does she walk out… Use such possibilities for characterization (how does she live), imo, the whole shot should have more of her. It's very thin in case of an entertaining first impression. But it's still okay. I think. Although it's quite literary for screenwriting you at least accomplished to show you can write.
P2 "Failure is a bummer." is clear from what is described prior.

You throw a lot of comparisons and metaphors across the page. It's a dangerous approach because it often looks as if you don't trust your pictures as they are.

"A hug later, she" – that's passive. Let us stay live on screen…

You're far too stylistic.

Wow, it goes on. Don't take it personal but I'd make a list now of comparisons and figurative contexts used in first two pages only, to make clear what jumps on me from all sides here:

"baths the atmosphere with promises of
things to come"
"plants awaken, preparing their buds
like guests getting ready for a grand ball"
"her shaking hands nullifies an attempted air
of confidence"
"with all the confidence of a child sent to the principal’s office"
"Failure is a bummer"
"a plain brick building that resembles a prison"
"The foyer looks like a page out of Better Homes"
"lost in the moment"

That's heavy and I even left out some asides that actually didn't bother me so much…

I mean, screenwriting is a medium of using probably the most sparse and most direct form of writing. You need to analyze the list and rethink how you can speak to my mind directly so that I don't have to translate this mass of metaphors to what I really see in my mind's eyes. As is, this does not translate directly, but rather everything needs to be deciphered and thought about here.

Hope you see how it detracts from the story, which I actually wanted to experience now…

Top of p6 -- very good dialogue (background/context/subtext)
The whole dialogue in that scene does work.

P8 Hahaha, sorry but stuff like "A BMW sits in the driveway like a prize thoroughbred among draft horses" is so over the top
"a corporate executive and arrogant SOB who believes his money and position can get him anything"

You need to show us through his live-behavior: looks, posture, gesture, mimics, dialogue, clothes, actions…

"As the door closes, Kathleen implodes. Her back against the
wall, she wraps her arms around her stomach to keep the fear
from bursting out. Why does he always have to win?"

Again I needed to quote the above. It's simply too much off-screen stuff but I made my point before…

Story-wise this is very interesting. I think you know the characters very well and I'd definitely like to read on. I think you're moving very reliable in case of your topic and world.

The writing is a bit of an overkill, but I believe in the screenplay so far.

If you show up, we can exchange further. I'm convinced you're in full control over your story. The writing needs a complete new shape and move drastically toward direct and clear descriptions imo.

Best of luck

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Posted: November 22nd, 2017, 4:40pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Southern California
Posts Per Day

Read 20.

Parts are really solid. You have an easy to read style. Everyone once in awhile you go over the top. As an example, in your opening:

Quoted Text
Spring’s warm touch baths the atmosphere with promises of
things to come, while plants awaken, preparing their buds
like guests getting ready for a grand ball.

Almost kept me from reading on - too novel like.  I would just keep it simple. e.g. Spring - budding flowers everywhere.

BTW - I think it is bathes - not baths.

Anyway - will read on later when I have more time. You definelty have talent.

My Scripts can all be seen here:
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Posted: November 30th, 2017, 3:52pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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Hi, April

Read through the first 20.
My biggest grump is her husband - he's on the nose and a bit too stereotypical/one-dimensional. I'd also want more interesting lines from her. Maybe you should inject some humor in this.
But overall I liked it, the beginning of it I mean.
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