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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    October, 2019 One Week Challenge  ›  The Art of War - OWC Moderators: StevenClark
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  Author    The Art of War - OWC  (currently 715 views)
Posted: October 11th, 2019, 10:44pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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The Art of War by Nameless Jones - Short, Horror, Psychological - A late night Halloween party comes to an end, so the real fun can begin. Terror comes in grizzly fashion as the Deed's learn that secrets can lead to an early grave. - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

Visit for what is new on the site.

You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky
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Reef Dreamer
Posted: October 12th, 2019, 3:02am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Proud owner of a Simply Scripts face mask ...

The Island of Jersey
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ok, first of the OWC for me.

logline - I'm rubbish at these but I suppose was thrown by the Deeds, thinking it referred to an act rather than people. just saying.

nice and simple. clean and fast to get through. I liked the writing.

would also be relatively low budget, or easy to film.

story wise it's fine, various things are set up in advance. I suppose I felt it could be a little deeper. Perhaps finding her in the basement after a party and not hearing the noises before did make me think

but you have pulled off a decent little script which adhered to the criteria

My scripts  HERE

The Elevator Most Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville
Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final
Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards.  Third - Honolulu
Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place
IMDb link...
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 12:46pm Report to Moderator

Perspective without distortion.

Sherman Oaks, CA
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Graphic and horrifying. Sam and Sarah could use some pumping up and fewer cliches. A few typos. Tell us about texts and vids, but you don't show us. Good effort.
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 2:49pm Report to Moderator
OWC Moderator

Vancouver, BC
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It starts off slow and labored, the writing stiff and stilted. It gets better when the tension amps up and the action begins.

The action is minimal but effective. Most of the story comes through exposition, which is done pretty well. There are some false setups, but everything with a payoff does have a setup. Sarah's plan is nuts, but it doesn't stretch beyond belief, though the ducts seemed unnecessarily complicated. If she's in the basement, chances are sound will travel up the vents regardless, no need to literally hook her up to them.

There's no final twist, it plays out exactly as Sarah planned, and for this that works. Her commitment to her revenge is a powerful force that Sam has no hope against. It would have been nice to see him try something, anything, but like I said, it plays out exactly as planned and we're just along for the ride, witness to it.

The Art of War felt tacked on. I like the original title, "Don't Stick Your Dick In Crazy" (the filename).

The dialogue at the start is rough, it also gets better towards the end. Overall, not a bad entry, better than I expected when I started it.

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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 5:45pm Report to Moderator
OWC Moderator

Don't get it right. Get it written.

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The writing here is pretty rough. A lot of awkward phrasing, and some odd character introductions in the dialog. Made this one tough to get into.

Glad I made it to the end. Didn't see that coming at all. Do think Sarah should have immediately started running to the neighbors at the tail end though. But still, this one will stick with me. Good job.

The characters were good enough. Sarah was a hoot. Lol

Some good story-telling on display, but the writing itself could use a few more passes.


So, Sarah was aware of the screams the whole time. She was just lying. Not sure that meets the criteria.

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Zack  -  October 12th, 2019, 6:10pm
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 6:18pm Report to Moderator

Tucson, AZ
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This was a pretty decent effort with all sorts of crazy. I found it a bit overwritten in places but it would clean up nicely.

One nit is the scream only heard by one of the two occupants. Does it count if the one (Sarah) just pretends that she doesn't hear it?

Good work, writer. Needs a revision but has great potential.
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 6:48pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Yes, that is my real hair...

Cave Creek, AZ
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Logline is not bad at all, IMO.

Title page - Again, I am not a fan of the various names peeps use, but it is what it is, and what's with the file name of "Don't stick your dick in crazy"?  WTF?  Now, that's quite funny.

Time fore some compliments for a change.  Slugs out of the gate are good, and finally I'm not reading about a SUBURBAN HOME.  The descriptive passages about the residence are good...maybe too detailed, but not sure...let's see if any of this comes into play.

But, so far, we're off to a solid start, and I'm going to predict this is from a female writer.

Onto Page 2 and all is well, except for a little misshap on the Dialogue boxes for Frank/Man dressed as Pluto - if he's Frank, then label him as Frank right away and in all his Dialogue boxes.

Top of page 4 and I know this is well written by a good writer.  The characterization, the dialogue, the writing, all very good, and I thank you for that!

"Its distant and barely audible..." - the only typo I've seen so far - "It's".

"Sarah is leaned..." - Very awkward.

Page 5 - "...placing his hand on the on the kitchen island..." - on the on the

So, let's stop for a second - we're on Page 5 now and nothing has happened, really.  For sure, no horror, or really even a hint of horror, except for this scream "we" just heard.  IMO, this is too late for the scream, and as for horror, it ain't at all so far...not even a little hint or deer dropping.  

Page 6 - "Sam head snaps..." - Sam's

Page 7 - "Halloween decoration’s that can go on hiatus." - I don't understand.  Is the apostrophe incorrect here?

Page 8 - "Her face is beaten and her mouth firmly gagged with a piece of cloth. Her shoulder length blonde hair is matted with blood and clung to the side of her face. A strange collar with a black box attached to it is securely tethered to her neck. " - So, this my 10th read and I haven't said a single word about orphans, but I have to here.  You've got a 5 line passage and the 5th line is a lonely little orphan that doesn't need to be here.  The writing is great throughout, but shows signs of being rushed now and this is a perfect example.

Page 9 - "She grabs a the shoulder of her Coca-Cola dress and tares the strap, exposing her bra." - And another rushed sentence that wasn't edited. - a - at, tare - tear.

Page 10 - "What did you think Sam..." - Every time, in dialogue, you have to set off names and anything used as a name by a comma(s).

Page 11 - "chucks" - Chunks

Page 12 - "exit" - exits

The end.  Good! Very good.  Best so far, by a country mile.  Well conceived, well written, well planned out.  Some mistakes here and there, showed up in the later pages, maybe due to time constraints, but who cares, as you're obviously a good writer.

Great job all the way around.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.

Revision History (1 edits)
Dreamscale  -  October 12th, 2019, 7:33pm
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 7:32pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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I don't know about the title. File says something else, but I like it less. I'm actually surprised you didn't go for the most obvious title. You know..."Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"  
But anyway, let's roll with what we have.

How do I know Sam and Sarah are "smart"? What makes them smart just by looking at them? I mean, they can't even get their costumes on right.    And 'good looking' has always been an odd description. Good looking actors are not in short supply.  

Why have the character slug as "Man Dressed As Pluto' when his name is Frank? Just intro him as FRANK. But...what's up with Sarah calling him 'a pig'? and then saying "My only request tonight was no inappropriate costumes." When I first read Pluto, I thought Disney. Now I'm thinking.. The Hills Have Eyes 'Pluto'? (Michael Berryman look?)   But the comment is about CARL who we never met.  And friends attending the party would know a host's wishes.

So, ultimately what we have here is crazy woman scorned. I think it needs a bit more fleshing out, I'm not sold on it. The script itself isn't's one of the better ones thus far. I just feel a little let down I guess.

"I know you want to work for Mo Fuzz. And Mo Fuzz wants you to. But first, I'm going to need to you do something for me... on spec." - Mo Fuzz, Tapeheads, 1988
my scripts on ss :
The Art!
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 7:49pm Report to Moderator

Los Angeles
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I've notice a lot of these horror scripts use basements. I didn't know so much evil resides in basements. But  I guess it works well enough.

The first half is a bit too wordy. But once we get into the basement, then it becomes a horror story. Which makes me wonder...would it work if the basement was where the  story began?

I didn't see Alice coming. But if Sam was doing Alice and planned to run away with her, it raises a logistics question:

How did Sarah sucker Alice into the basement/ How long has she been there?

And is it reasonable to assume that in all the years he's lived there, Sam never ventured into the basement? Not once? Really?

But a decent effort at a vengeance horror story.

Now the real question is what happens when the children wander into the basement and find Alice....or Sam???
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 8:00pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Southern California
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Well written for the most part.

Was really into it until here:

Quoted Text
Are you okay?

Just the wrong dialogue for the moment. From the description - she ain't near okay - not worthy of a question and the dialogue kind of tanked for me after that. Really exposition ladened.

A solid effort for the timeframe - but for me this was a split - it eroded in style towards the end.

My Scripts can all be seen here:
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Posted: October 13th, 2019, 3:28am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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Funny how you see things in others that you miss in your own writing sometimes ...

I thought this was definitely one of the better scripts.

However, for the tone you set, all the exposition at the end was a bit scooby doo or Bond Villain. And the shock-collar thing to make him hear screams didn't make sense. The wife would just tell him to take the decorations down and there you go. So ironically I think the whole thing would be better without what makes it hit the brief ... except they would both actually hear the scream I suppose - she's just pretending not to.

Still one of the better efforts.
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Posted: October 14th, 2019, 10:11am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Sydney, Australia
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First one I've read, so don't know if it is going to be a theme, but this script is very similar to an idea I was working on (but didn't submit).

So I wonder if this will be a fairly common idea, as it felt like a natural plot line from the challenge parameters. I'll know if that's the case after reading more, of course!

Yours was better than what I was working on, however.

The execution is largely good, and the creaks in place are no doubt down to time restrictions.

For example, for me, the pacing accelerates from the point of the basement too rapidly. I had to go back and read a couple of times to get a real sense of what is going on.

If we strip it back to the outlining, the core plot points for that closing are:

1) He discovers Alice.

2) He discovers Sarah is responsible for this and plans to blame it on him.

I think that's a solid final act, but whilst I liked the general flow of the beginning, I don't really feel like we ever got a middle act to advance us to this closing, and the result is it feels a little rushed.

As for the core plot points mentioned above, here are a couple of issues I have with them.

1) I don't really feel the sense of shock at seeing Alice here. I think there needs to be some work done on that, and here you can payoff the Frank setup, which gets left as a hanging thread. I think you want to capitalise on that setup for the benefit of the story.

2) I don't really buy the knuckle injury from the saucepans. Not sure that would be sufficient for her cover up, i.e. his knuckle injuries surely would not account for her facial injuries, and when she has gone to all of the effort for a fairly elaborate operation, it feels a little unlikely she wouldn't have this covered more effectively. Also, I don't know if I bought her facial injuries being developed as quickly.

Just some random thoughts / ideas that may - or may not! - be of use to finish up.

When I was writing my own variation on this idea, I got bogged down as to whether or not to swap out the perpetrator. So in this idea, if you showed Sarah inflicting her own injuries as Sam discovers Alice (overlapping as Alice explains what has happened), we as an audience get to see the story unfold, and think we have got to the bottom of the mystery. However, this could be the moment you bring back Frank, and we now realise he plans to take them all out. Or something to deviate from what we thought was the conclusion. A sting in the tail. I feel like Frank needs to be used to better effect.

Anyway, that's just a quick idea. I liked what you did here, hence going a bit deeper into things I thought about it, and ideas on what you could do with it!

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Posted: October 14th, 2019, 4:16pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

A helluva long way from LA
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First off.  I cannot say I don't know your work from a hole in the wall.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing.  So here’s my unbiased opinion.

It's very well written and I like the dialogue. There's none of your usual curve balls thrown in there anywhere.  It’s pretty straight-forward, but here’s the catch, it works.  Though, I thought the set-up went a tad long, which dragged your initial pacing.

“The Art Of War”  Have you ever read the book?

Nothing more to offer (good read otherwise) than my disappointment about the script not reflecting the title.  I did, had to, long story.  Maybe I see things differently.


"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."

Revision History (1 edits)
_ghostwriters  -  October 19th, 2019, 2:28pm
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Posted: October 14th, 2019, 5:05pm Report to Moderator

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Hello writer,

In the beginning, it feels like you over-painted the picture of the residence.  A loop driveway doesn't add to the story, in my opinion.  The amount of land it sits on doesn't play into the tale.    

The albino pickle is funny.    

The pot crashing on his hand doesn't seem like a realistic wound.  I was confused if Sarah smashed it or dropped it on his hand.  You could make it one of those cast-iron pots.  

You definitely painted a vivid picture of Alice and the brutality she has endured.  I thought Frank was going to be the bad guy.  

I liked the creativity of Sara using a bright flashing light to subdue Sam.  Especially since you brought the "Art of War" in the mix. Know your enemy an all.
Good job and all the best!
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Matthew Taylor
Posted: October 15th, 2019, 10:02am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Shakespeare's county
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Hello writer

I told myself to stop reading....but can't help myself, sorry if my review turns out grumpy  

Why do you cap character names in dialogue? especially ones who are not currently on screen. seems odd.

Quoted Text
The basement freaks you out...
You’ll be putting all your energy
into not pissing yourself.

Lol - I like Sarah

Quoted Text
high-intensity flashlight and it
begins to strobe wildly in Sam’s face, causing him to recoil
and grab at his head.

Kudos for bringing the epilepsy back into the story and making it relevant.

You should totally have gone with the original title lol

Damn - a woman scorned and all that. Finally a story with substance

Great writing, authentic characters with lovely dialogue - you know your stuff. Really liked the story (not that much horror though)
Started slow but got there in the end

I guess I only have one gripe. If she was in the basement the whole time, rigged up and screaming, would she not have screamed during the party for the guests to hear? Seems a very odd time to go through with this plan

Anyway, this is one of the better ones

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Posted: October 16th, 2019, 3:20am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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The Coca Cola (capitalized) dress makes for an interesting visual.

Quoted Text
Okay[,] Frank...

If Solo is the brand name, it needs to be capitalized, as Coca-Cola above.

"(Beat)" isn't needed.

Neither is "(in a pirate accent)." We get it.

Quoted Text

Sam cracks the door to a bedroom.


Quoted Text
[It's] distant and barely audible

Multi-word adjectives need hyphens.

TIL what a kitchen island is.

Quoted Text
Halloween [decorations] that can go
on hiatus.

Quoted Text
He breath[e]s deep

Quoted Text
Acting quickly[,] he unties

Quoted Text
tares tears

Lots of exposition. Cut it down. You can easily remove the fourth sentence. It sounds unnatural.

I didn't get the title and was reluctant to read your script because of it. Overall, it's not bad. Just a little tune up. Good job on entering.

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Posted: October 16th, 2019, 11:33pm Report to Moderator

I wish my brain was half as wise as my ass.

Asheville, NC
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This was good. Writing very easy to read. There were quite a few typos but nothing so glaring that they took me out of the story.

I got more of a psychological thriller vibe than horror. I can relate to the woman scorned thing.

Don't have much to add that others haven't already mentioned. This is my fave so far because of the writing...

“If someone is trying to bring you down, it just means you are above them."
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Posted: October 17th, 2019, 6:27pm Report to Moderator

Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

The Great Southern Land
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Wow, this was full on. And very cliched. Sarah seemed so nice... in the beginning.

Sarah, it’s not what you think.
Ah yes, this ol' chestnut.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

I dunno... That line kinda came off as corny to me, maybe deliberately tongue in cheek? Not sure if that was your purpose.

Still, this is so over the top ala Tarantino vibe.. Perhaps it'd work as graphic comic.

Few typos. It read very fast.
I think you had fun with this.

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Posted: October 17th, 2019, 7:24pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

London, Ontario
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solid story here.

Writing was great, but had a few typos here and there.

How did no one else at the party hear Alice's screams .. how did the kids not hear them either?  You can hear one another fairly well using the vents. My siblings and I used to do that, run to different parts of the house and talk into the vents to see if we can hear each other. Considering that Alice's head was hooked up to a duct tube makes it hard to believe that Sam was the only one to hear her.

That's the only negative I have to say about this.

Good work.
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Posted: October 18th, 2019, 2:10pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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Excellent. However, there wasn’t much “Halloween” about it. Nothing supernatural or eerie, just a superb nut job getting revenge on a faithless husband.
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Grandma Bear
Posted: October 18th, 2019, 7:38pm Report to Moderator
God of the SimplyScriptsVerse

The Swamp...
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Lots of details about the house. Gives a detailed picture, but won't be followed in production.

Three pages of chit chatting. IMHO, that is too much in a short. You need to set the tone/mood early on so we know this is a horror.

Okay, cool. We got horror now! One piece of dumb comment from Sam to the woman tied up in a chair, bloody in panties and top  with some dome on her head though. Are you okay????? Seriously? Lol.

A little off the rails now.

Okay, finished. I liked it until the end. But hey, my script went batshit make no sense in the end too. So...

I thought it was well written, characters were pretty good and everything was fine until the end.

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