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Beneath The Surface by ? - Short, Horror - Who knows what lurks beneath the surface of the deepest, darkest waters, or what lurks beneath the surface of the darkest waters of all, the Human Soul? - pdf format
My opinion is that you have to make that kid younger. Even just by a couple of years.
At fourteen he could probably put Mama in her place. I was onboard mostly until Leviathan starts tearing into Mama's flesh and then you also add to it with the house on fire which seemed a little incongruous and over the top to me.
I like your monster idea but I'm not all that enamoured with abusive alcoholic Mama. I wish you'd made it more of a boy's own adventure.
Good job. You definitely kept me reading and your writing created a dark and foreboding atmosphere.
I suspect this is a bit influenced by A Monster Calls.
A decent effort for sure. Always tricky trying to go symbolic and deep. As it stands it doesnít quite work for me. If you lose the VO and the imagery which telegraphs the ending, this could be much more powerful. Also, him killing the mother (or himself) is the obvious ending. How else could this go? Try to think outside the box!
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OK, check out your opening passage. You're writing visually, so that's good, but 3 full lines is too much for what you're showing us. You repeated your Slug at the end of the passage and that's something YOU NEVER WANT TO DO.
Next passage is something that should be left to prose writing.
New Slug and passage that follows - Although you didn't literally repeat your Slug, you used other words to say the exact same thing the Slug tells us...on a line standing along, meaning, you actually wasted 2 entire lines, while not showing a single new thing.
2 line passage describing Andy - way overwritten, and MAMA isn't properly intro'd with an age.
Just way too many adjectives being used. Using descriptors can be good...visual, but using too many, ALL THE TIME, do the opposite, as your readers will start skipping over them, as they have lost their effect completely.
I don't know where the VO is coming from or who it's supposed to be going to, and that will most likely be a problem, but let's see.
OK, so we're in a dream now, and I'm not sure that works in such a short short, meant to be a comic. IMO, naming the monster "Leviathan" is a mistake and having it speak with Andy is also a mistake.
I always recommend setting up Flashbacks and dreams properly, and you haven't done that here at all. Putting it in the Slug itself "works", but starting a new Slug and including "END DREAMSCAPE" is a huge mistake. If you had properly set this up, you'd simply be back in the Slug that the dream began in.
There are Slug problems throughout. There seem to be multiple "CONTINUOUS" scenes going on, but you keep using "NIGHT, which is irritating. Some Slugs are full, some are hybrid Minis. They need work.
Page 5 - "The huge form of the Leviathan lumbers up path outside the house." - So, here, you're obviously missing "the" between "up" and "path, but you also end in an orphan, because the sentence itself is so overwritten.
If the Leviathan is so huge, like you keep saying, how does it fir through the front door?
Page 6 - We have a new Slug and a single passage, but that passage is 5 lines long because of the overwriting, and you include "we look back" for some reason.
This should be a very powerful last image...and it is, but you killed it with the overwriting. It's still powerful and well thought out, but just too overly dramatic.
Sometimes less is more and you need to figure that out. You've got strong story here, even if it's well trodden ground. I think you probably should have ended this a little differently...as in a final scene, maybe in a phychologist's office, because that way, the VO's you used throughout would play back and make complete sense.
Overall, I still like it. Good effort.
Grade - ***
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An issue was, at first, that Andy felt too old with 14 to not fight her himself or solve his situation in another way. Of course he later does/did so if I get the ending right, but at this first point it hurts a bit the believability.
This is done with thoughts and structured expertly. Some dialogues in the first half felt a bit 'over the top-mysterious' that it almost felt cheesy there. You could cut a bit there imo.
Otherwise, it is pretty dark and very well crafted.
Okay, not sure that this one is PG but I liked it.
It's overwritten, some action lines are way too long, and there are things that are difficult to film/draw without additional description, yes, but that's nothing a rewrite can't fix.
The story worked for me and some of the visuals were powerful. The ending was expected and not too original but did the job. The script reminded me a little of A Monster Calls, as Mark pointed out, and Sean's screenplay Where the Bad Kids Go.
A format suggestion, though. I would suggest to rewrite the Dreamscape sequence this way:
BEGIN DREAMSCAPE EXT. POND - DUSK [...] END DREAMSCAPE INT. RAMSHACKLE HOUSE, BEDROOM - DUSK
I think it would read cleaner. But that's probably just me being picky.
I tend to prioritize story over writing and this one definitely jumped into my shortlist.
This one wasn't for me. It started off as if Andy was using a metaphor to mentally escape his mother's beatings. Then it sounded like a daydream that transformed into life. It would be good if deep down the mother who was trying to beat out the father's imprint/DNA. Was in fact evil and that the beast that was summoned (I guess it was summoned), was the evil from within Andy, imagined to remove the pain that his mother was inflicting upon him.
Story wise it feels familiar, not treading new ground here, but still there's always a certain gratification in seeing bad people get their just desserts. Some passages do border on prose, which is fine, but they could do with a polish. I was a little confused - does Andy "summon" the Leviathan? What exactly does he do to bring the creature out of the water? Wasn't very clear there. While the subject matter is not really my thing, there's plenty of imagery though that would work well in comic format.
Getting drunk on cough medicine... or maybe lemon extract.
Opening shows me a (wooden) house. Lots of description regarding anything but the house. I don't even know it's decaying until I get inside. uite a few "then this happens" kind of stuff. Heavy on prose. This I suspect is going to turn a lot of people off. And yes, I am one of them. I dig me some swampmonsters, I do not dig me LSD trips. Yes, yes, no character dropped acid. I know. I know.
But somebody sure did, and it wasn't me. I'm outta here.
Unnecessary repetition in the scene headers and action lines. We know weíre inside the house, itís established in the slug.
The series of images seems only half thought out and then interrupted by the dialogue. Where are we when Andy and the Leviathan first talk?
The idea feels familiar, but I liked that you thought to throw in a hint as to why she beats him. Thereís a history here.
On the fence about Andyís age - 14 seem a little old, but then again a lifetime of abuse could destroy a personís confidence.
For what it is the concept isnít bad. Itís simple enough and could land with a degree of impact. You got my sympathy for the character with the beating so I was invested to a degree. The writing needs a clean-up, itís not helping the read. Descriptions are overdone in places but I could see this working in comic form.
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Perfect for a 6 pager! And I find 5 or 6 pages very hard to craft a complete a story within, but it's done just right here.
I believe at the end you want the audience to wonder if the monster inhabited the body of the child and empowered him to kill the mother. He of course would have a different subjective experience of that killing, because of the shock involved, so he might imagine the actual monster doing it. Or then again maybe the monster did. Good to keep the audience guessing!
The subjective part of the story leads to some questions of the voiceover. Not at all saying it was a problem, just maybe a topic for consideration here.
"For a second I regret what I have done. I try to send it back where it came from. I try to stop it. But it's too strong..."
Nothing at all wrong with that! But in this style, the boy is a distant narrator of events happing live. "For a second..."
An alternative...and not a better one, just a different choice...would be to connect more closely to the consciousness of the boy instead of using him as a distant narrator.
For example: "What have I done! Go back, fiend! I take it back!"
What I just wrote stinks, but it's just to demonstrate another possible way.
"And it's getting stronger and closer. The darkness. Closer and closer. Oh God...It's here."
A simple deletion makes it feel more live. "Stronger, closer, the darkness, closer and closer...oh God!"
By removing a few words it feels less like distant narration.
But as I said, these are choices from a range of them. I actually like the narrative filter! It feels like we are along for the ride with the narrator, all of us witnesses to the story. The narrator becomes a companion on the journey. It leaves us less close to events, but I don't mind that at all.\