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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    October, 2019 One Week Challenge  ›  Paralysis - OWC Moderators: StevenClark
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  Author    Paralysis - OWC  (currently 505 views)
Posted: October 11th, 2019, 11:23pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Paralysis by Terrance Parker - Short, Horror, Psychological - A young, anxiety-filled teen has a hard time telling his sleep paralysis demon apart from mind to reality, hours after a rambunctious Halloween party. - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 1:35am Report to Moderator

Los Angeles
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Interesting premise. But you telegraph the ending early on.  Because JAX is so paranoid, anxiety-ridden, and phobic he can't tell hallucinations from reality. So we know almost from the first page he's going to do something terrible.
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 9:18am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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I agree with RolandJ. Good premise. I've suffered from sleep paralysis so I was in from the start. But the thing about dream/reality stuff is you still have to know what's going on whether it's real or not. In this case I couldn;t follow the story and don't quite get the ending.

But good premise - worth exploring!
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Posted: October 12th, 2019, 1:13pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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Hey you,

some obvious format issues from the mere look at the document - spacing, page numbers, sluglines etc… Aneres should be capped when first time introduced, wrong page break...

Look, no further words on format from my side, just... you need to choose how to look like - professional or not professional. My evaluation demands the very best of a screenwriter, including standard format. Every time again. That is my choice in this game.

Storywise, you tried but eventually didn't convince me.

You put a definite effort into single story beats. That was okay.

Then, the whole plot just didn't flow well. The dark figure, if the structure is thin as you have it here, imo, should/ rather must carry the entire script on its own - by its look, its uniqueness, my anxiety when he appears and got screen time – that didn't work as needed. The killer is no trademark so to say.  

The script simply doesn't deliver on the high level imo. That said, in my eyes, it isn't a catastrophe either. It's okay.

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Grandma Bear
Posted: October 12th, 2019, 1:37pm Report to Moderator
God of the SimplyScriptsVerse

The Swamp...
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Page 1.     Would've liked to know where in the house.

Aneres should be in all caps at first intro.

Page 3.   Lots of bickering here that doesn't add anything to the story.

Page 4.   Ideally, when you start a new scene you should use the characters names when first mentioning them, instead of just he or she. It's not a huge deal with this short, but it helps the reader know what characters are in the scene.

Page 5.   ANERES... and then the dialogue on the following page?

Page 7.   Pay attention to the characters dialogue.  Jax say's Shit! C'mon.  Aneres, answers with, Wha--?

Prior in this script, those lines belonged to the other character. They should have their own characteristics and not the same.

Page 8.   Lots of What! and Wha-- in this script. Starts to get annoying.

Again, a character's dialogue spills over on the next page without a (con't).

Page 9.   Jax turns to see a broken glass, as he picks it up.

I don't think that sentence work...

Lots of unnecessary "however".

Page 10. Policemen call each other dude? That doesn't sound very adult somehow.

Need to work on the cops dialogue, for sure...

Page 12. I would assume the cops would get shit serious as soon as they saw the dead Arenes.

Final thoughts, I liked the premise here with the sleep paralysis. I have done some research into that and watched a documentary too. Scary stuff. I do feel that great premise was wasted here though. The story itself didn't do much for me, sad to say.

I also think you should've made it about Jax and Anares all the way through, but it shifted to the cops near the end. If I were you, I wouldn't have the cops do any chit chatting or bickering. Just show up and be cops. This isn't their story.

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't really hear a scream. Unless, the wind chimes were it, in which case I'd fail you for not having a scream.

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Reef Dreamer
Posted: October 13th, 2019, 8:22am Report to Moderator
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Proud owner of a Simply Scripts face mask ...

The Island of Jersey
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Hi Terrance

Logline - written last minute perhaps. Having discovered all sorts of errors in my script since posting, I know the feeling.

Aneres should be in CAPS when introduced.

The OLD house slug doesn’t do you many favours. It s a chance to describe things. You may also benefit from a line of two to set the scene

Not really a suburban location ? Corn field ?

Not sure you pop back in a broken arm

The scene out in the field to move back in, seems superfluous

Avoid starting sentences with... then


Ok, lots of screenplay issues to address, but these can be done.

Story wise, I like the idea of the lad being haunted by a sleep demon. We can really understand that insomnia could result in images, beliefs - are they real, are they not etc all part of the haunting drama

That was the core of this script. The question is what story do you wrap around it?

To me, you then look to see what theme, or issues, would be particularly challenged by this situation - eg he has to focus clearly otherwise someone gets hurt. Thus we have conflict with his tiredness and the outcome. Who will win.

These OWC can be useful to fine tune format usegae, and story telling, so it may be a good idea to re write this as an experience.

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Private Message Reply: 5 - 19
Posted: October 14th, 2019, 12:00am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

A helluva long way from LA
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My two cents? Honestly--this didn't do much for me.  The opening, while ok, I mean, It's got a very dark, mysterious vibe. You can tell right away he’s going to go through hell.  The ending let me down. I really wanted to know how it would end, but I was fully expecting a twist that never came.  I'm wondering if you need the cops at all...

My reactions to the cops dialogue is WTF!  Which reminds me of something...

Going off-topic...

A Theory of "On the Nose" Dialogue
In life people sometimes make on the nose statements, sometimes not. Perhaps it should be the same in screenplays. If no characters in an entire script makes on the nose statements, would that feel natural? In a script with cops in it, does it sound okay for a cop to say, "don't move. get your hands up" or should they all say something like, "reach for the sky"? If dialogue is more closely tied to the individual character traits, it might help gauge how much or how little a character uses on the nose statements, trying to make it feel right for that particular character. But to go through a script and try and remove all the on the nose dialogue doesn't seem logical.

Methinks you can put too much salt in you food or too much pepper, but ideally you season it just right for good flavor. If someone tells you your food is too salty, are you going to go in and try and take out all the salt? A better solution might be to try and balance the seasoning better, but still use some salt. So when people say the dialogue is too on the nose, I don't think it's time to panic and try and take out every line of on the nose dialogue, but rather 'season' it better.

Ugh.  I dunno.  Just babbling.  Sorry.  Back on topic...

The writing could be tighter in certain spots.  I hope some of this helps.

Ps. Best of luck! -A

pps. There's probably about a million spelling mistakes above. Couldn't be bothered to spell check.  I'm still hungover.

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

Private Message Reply: 6 - 19
Posted: October 14th, 2019, 12:24am Report to Moderator

Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

The Great Southern Land
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If you haven't read it already you should read Andrea's anal spasm analogy re good writing.

One of SSers more visceral and on the money reviewers imho. And, entertaining!  

Sorry for the editorial. I'm coming back to write an actual review of this.
Sleep paralysis - great premise.

Private Message Reply: 7 - 19
Matthew Taylor
Posted: October 14th, 2019, 8:49am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Shakespeare's county
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Hello writer.

Show us stuff, don't just tell us stuff - it's fine in a novel but not a screenplay. Your words should be able to be translated to screen, some of yours cannot.

"his heart races" "his adrenaline spikes"

You open with horror! excellent! you chuck is straight into it and I like it, I know what I am getting myself involved with - too many of these have started with a boring exchange...

Quoted Text
Bye-bye last guest

That was some party

yes, but look at the mess!

I know, let's chat about it for 3 pages

So I very much appreciate you starting it the way you did.

you can do away with all the "and then" stuff like you are reiterating a story to us. Write in the now, like it's happening now, so we can just get lost in the story ourselves without all the "And then Jax did this!" - just tell us what Jax did

Take a look at your software, it's splitting dialogue across pages incorrectly.

Can you simply push a broken arm back into place?

Quoted Text
Alright! Everyone! Keep your
hands up--!

Why would he ask them to keep their hands up? he hasn't asked them to put them up in the first place, let alone keep them there... also, shouldn't a cop announce he is there, to begin with?

That last page is so bloody odd I am convinced you rushed it for the deadline. Honestly, it makes no sense. "Wakes up from the fall" why did the fall send him to sleep?, I'm pretty sure he gets up off the floor twice, then they rush outside and discover that the ground is flat?

Great start, interesting story, messily executed with an awful ending. That's my take on it lol. I think you were rushed, but after the challenge, you should revisit and finish this off properly

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Posted: October 14th, 2019, 11:30am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Southern California
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Obviously - formatting is a real issue in this one. Not close to being correct.

The scream is barely there....

But, I kind of liked the story. Didn't see any reason to put in a stranger's house though - I kept waiting for that to be part of the story - didn't matter.

Nice effort other than the format is a wreck.

My Scripts can all be seen here:
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Private Message Reply: 9 - 19
Posted: October 15th, 2019, 4:50am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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Pretty generic opening slug. Logline could be reworded.

You only need one hyphen in slugs


You don't number the first page. Never number the first page. You're clearly a new writer. What progra mare you using? At least it's 12 pt Courier.

Opening paragraph is a bit too long with too much going on. It reads like a novel. This could be three paragraphs. Very poor start.

Good rule of thumb: break up each "shot" or thought into separate paragraphs.

Quoted Text
A completely black silhouette

A silhouette, by definition, is completely black (or whatever color the artist chooses). We can already assume the silhouette is completely  black.

Silhouette and figure are pretty interchangeable. Lots of redundancy on the first page. Not good.

I would CAP the silhouette/figure.

SHOW his heart racing and his adrenaline spiking. Or else it's not needed.

You never introduced Aneres. Oh. Nevermind. You need to CAP her.

This is too poor for me to continue. Sorry.

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Posted: October 15th, 2019, 8:54am Report to Moderator
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Cast Your Fate To The Wind

Upstate NY
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I think you have the makings of something here, but just not yet. Your writing was pretty clean, and the tone was consistent if not a bit flat. Not very scary. And again, logic is an issue here, as in there seemed to be no rhyme or reason who this sleep demon was and who the hat belonged to.

Having suffered from sleep paralysis in the past, I identified with some of this. It's scary shit. But this story misses the mark.


Private Message Reply: 11 - 19
Posted: October 15th, 2019, 12:52pm Report to Moderator

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Hello writer,

This wasn't that good for me.  Formatting is off.     I assume this was your scream scenario.

Quoted Text
A slight, eerie sound, mimicking a scream occurs

Some of your action was confusing. I thought another cop fell somehow.  Then I realized it was them bumping into each other.

Quoted Text
The other police officer wakes up from the fall

Who is Steve?  I  assume  Police Officer #1.  Since they have a decent amount of screen time, it would probably help if you named them.   Good on you for writing. Just keep trucking.

All the best!
Private Message Reply: 12 - 19
Posted: October 15th, 2019, 6:54pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

London, Ontario
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The writing can use some work, wasn't terrible by any means but I think it can be tightened up a bit. Jax's wearing a depressed face and the one cop's face slowly getting ,ore frightened ... I feel like there's a much better way to describe their facial expressions. Just my opinion.

Ending had me a bit confused. Was is supposed to be one of the thieves or hijackers that were mentioned in the story, or is is actually one of Jax's sleep demons that stole the cop car?

Either way, good work.
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Posted: October 16th, 2019, 3:29am Report to Moderator

Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

The Great Southern Land
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Said I'd come back to this, so a few observations:

You describe Jax as a young teen. He sounds a good bit older than that to my ear. Plus she's teaching him to dance in a rather intimate way. I'd say that's the domain of an older teen/early 20s.

Give them both specific ages.
Aneres needs to be capped on intro btw. And she's listed as 'young woman'.? Give them ages, like I said. Your black silhouette character also should be capped. Any character needing to be cast needs  their intro capped.
It also makes it clearer for the reader who and /or what we're looking at.

Your  opening descriptions were a little confusing  rather than scary - for me, at least.

Jax feels the bruise on his arm,
Was this mentioned already? If not is should be: 'a bruise'.
Speaking of: Dislocated or broken? Either way, a good gruesome image.

It occurs to me that your character suffers not just from sleep paralysis but also narcolepsy - a sudden drop into an unconscious state. Great premise for a horror.

Lying not laying. Should be: Jax lies on the floor...

I've read this line twice:
Food and cups are stuck to the ceiling...

It conjured some supernatural surreal iimage, but it's not quite working for me as written.

...and a 10-foot pole penetrates a dangling
chandelier above.

Huh? Trying hard to picture this one too.

Yeah. Thank God I held this
Halloween party at some
random house, though.
Imagine if it was at my

Ooh, not great exposition I must say. Try something like,:

...imagine if the party had been at my parent's place.

His dancing sounds like an Elaine Benes imitation ( Seinfeld).

scare us into coming out

That'd more aptly be::scare us into NOT coming out here, wouldn’t it?

Get in closer
Suggest: move in closer, Or, just: Come closer...

But you’re awake—

That’s a pivotal moment in your script. A high revelation point in terms of the horror is now filling his waking life.
It should be the cause for a bit more focus and terror.

batten down all the hatches.
Batten down the hatches ( no need for all)

Arenes – name typo, p.12, not good. But, it happens... especially in OWCs.

muggers and hijackers
Might be scarier as: muggers and murderers.

wind chimes in the back.
Should be background.

a watch strapped to it.??
Bit of a confusing denouement for me but there's atmosphere to this and with a big more clarity and editing you could have a goodie here.

Good premise. I'd add the narcolepsy cause anything could happen during those episodes.

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