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Hi guys, I'm the writer and this is my fantasy series.
I have a lot of info about me in the "getting to know you" section. I'd love to sell this series. Please read it and let me know what you think and how it can be better.
If you're gonna be brutal, that's fine, but, please try and show me how I could make it better. I'd rather hear it from you, then submit it and get privately slammed. None of us want to end up on the "don't read" list that they keep.
Yea, i seen your welcoming post, but I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. Having said that... I didn't read Episode II and I probably won't. But I did finish Episode I.
This feels more like an Episode II or III. I mean, this is the pilot; and it is here where you should be introducing the audience to your main characters and the world they live in. Plot should take a back seat in this episode.
You want your audience to tune in for the next episode, right?
Another thing, you're lacking a central character. In this case, I think you need to have someone stand out from the rest. And I'm never lost at sea, but I had to read this twice, mainly to figure out what was going on.
I took a bunch of notes, but I'm going back to tweak them. Give me a day or two, or three.
Welcome to the boards and all the best with your health.
"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."
Hmmm wow, that is really interesting. I see your point. I wanted to take a chance and do some misdirection. But, you are right, I don't have the main guys in it that much. I guess I kinda thought parts 1 and 2 would be shown together, but, you are right.
Did you like the cliffhanger?
I'm sorry you didn't like it. I will certainly think about this. I look forward to your review. This was my first attempt in years. I guess I have some work to do...
Is there anything you want read from you? I'd be happy to return the favor. If you look at some of my other reviews, I tend to get pretty deep.
Plenty of advice like this (above) and other SSers might add to this info as I'm most definitely no authority on television formatting.
Acts are commonly used in pilots, that said I notice True Detective didn't use any of that, then again it was a series created and written by Nic Pizzolatto and shown on Cable for HBO with a limited number of episodes so that well might be the reason for its unconventional format i.e., no ad breaks, no teaser, no acts etc.
Anyway, I'll post up some further comments probably tomorrow.
I'll only add this... series on TV, syndicated shows, as seen on NBC, ABC, TNT, CBS, and some other's go by the ACT I, II, III, IV, ect... structure. Mainly because of commercial breaks. There's steadfast rules for them.
On the other hand, series on networks such as; HBO, Showtime, Cinemax; one, mentioned already, "True detective." Some others'; "Californication," "Banshee," "Game of thrones," ect... no commercial breaks. Henceforth, they are structured more towards movies.
And therein lies the difference. I believe. Dan, I'll get my notes to you soon. Oh, never said I didn't like it.
"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."
Thanks so much for both taking the time to read and comment. It's one thing to read someone's stuff, but, taking the time to look up page numbers, make notes, that's a real effort and I appreciate it.
I enjoy this site, so far, b/c people are interested in helping each other out. One of my fav shows on TV is called Faceoff which is about a group of make-up artists vying for top dog. In that series, I have seen over and over that each person helps everyone else.
One episode had me in tears. One of the guys who had been so helpful for the entire season got seriously hurt and had to go to the hospital and get stitched up. He knew that his dream was over. Not so fast. Everyone there, even insanely busy, teamed up to get his prosthetics out from the molds and have them ready for him. He cried and so did I. The showmanship was touching.
I see that on here. I have yet to see a person who wants to maintain superiority over those who don't know as much. I really appreciate that.
I've written stories for a long time, but, have taken many breaks for different reasons. So, I'm behind the times a bit.
I have decided that I will make this episode the second in the series and devote an entirely new episode as the pilot. Obviously, I need to make changes, but, I do think as a second episode, it's pretty good. I agree, as a pilot, it doesn't work. We don't see the cast for most of it.
I do think the where I would put the breaks in them do work out almost naturally, but, I will keep that in mind too.
I've decided to go for that 250 contest and try to pump out a feature length screenplay. I hope all of you enter it as well.
I look forward to reading more from everyone and what you say about my efforts.
Dan, I'm going to focus on the mechanics of screenwriting/industry standard formatting etc. first and foremost. I hope you'll be patient as I do repeat myself quite a bit but I wanted to give you as many examples as possible. I hope you take the suggestions in the spirit intended.
I guess from reading this that your background is in prose, novel writing, short stories etc.
My comments relate primarily to the industry standard formatting (as I said), shortening your action/description lines, getting rid of your conjunctive words which are slowing the action and read, and some general pointers including sluglines, wrylies, camera directions etc.
Bear in mind you can break a lot of rules when you're a pro but when writing a spec it's good to stick to standard stuff.
We all go through this transition btw if we're used to writing in a different format prior.
As I read: (I have no idea why p.1 is not here btw and will include later with p.23-26 if you like).
Should be: Tailor made p.2 (thick accent) I presume p. 3 Formatting (slight indents) probs. p.4
Get rid of a lot of conjunctive words – linking words, as, is, are, etc. they’re slowing both the read and the action.
So far your descriptions are way too novelistic – and you're doing a lot of 'telling' instead of 'showing'.
Elf looks at the cauterized stumps that used to be his hands. Elf blacks out. Minotaur and Dwarf are both stunned. Both Minotaur and Dwarf’s faces widen with panic. THEIR MEN THEY FORGOT ABOUT THEIR MEN! Minotaur and Dwarf are both impaled by Eran and Rulak, killing both instantly.
That used to be, are both stunned, are both impaled, killing both instantly - it's all passive writing. You need to 'show' this action as it happens.
OWAIN Oh yeah! You failed. (Beat) I tend to stay invisible for as long as I can to use that to our advantage at the most inopportune time. You guys never see it coming.
That’s some pretty heavy exposition. You could lessen this to:
‘Oh yeah! You failed. (laughs) You guys just never see it coming.
I think it would be funnier and also have more impact.
I love the humorous touches in this btw and I’m not strictly a fan of fantasy – unless you count Game Of Thrones – I’m only a recent convert. which enables me to actually appreciate a lot of this.
Owain carefully reaches into a tiny pouch he has and pulls out this green pill.
Delete ‘he has, and ‘and’ & instead of 'this pill'a green pill
You don’t need all the double spaces following the periods btw in screenwriting.
ASSA This is war baby,
I hope this characterization (above) continues with Assa. It’s good that characters each have their own clear voice.
Wrylies are formatted (grinning) This way, above, not: ‘a few minutes. (Now grinning) about…’ Mid line of dialogue, as above. And devoid of CAPS. Oh, I see further down you are familiar with wrylies. That specific one (above) needs correcting.
‘20 of them.’ For the most part write out numbers in screenplays i.e., ‘twenty of them’.
EXT. CLEARING OUTSIDE OF TOWN BY CENTRAL TREE – DAY
That’s a convoluted slug. You've got quite a few of these throughout and you need to streamline them.
commoners clothes insert apostrophe p.7
He is the crier for King Trent, and today it is his job to hang as many signs as he can throughout his region..
We can’t possibly know that info you tell us above re him hanging the signs.
And, the ellipses needs another (.) they have three periods btw, perhaps this just needed a tighter proofread cause I see you do indeed know this already.
Quite apart from that technicality, this information is a ‘tell’ not ‘show’ - we can’t possibly know any other information in a screenplay other than what is visually ‘shown’ – you can show his tired disheveled appearance but we can only know what appears in action - and through dialogue.
Assa, Svte, Rulak and Eran are walking slowly down a stone road in the middle of nowhere.
Ass, Svte, Rulak and Eran walk slowly down…’
They all share a laugh when thinking about the elf’s fate. They laugh or chuckle.
mid 30’s is commonly now written without the apostrophe as mid 30s
ASSA (p.12) (Cuts her off) You don’t need the wrylie as the em dash (-) just did that job for you and the dialogue that followed.
p.13 Keep your action lines to a four line minimum where possible, otherwise break them up into two blocks.
lets go. p.14 needs CAP beginning new sentence. healing his instantly, (healing him instantly) I presume - bottom p.14
OWAIN (Perks up) Oh (needs a period inserted)
(beat) But, if you want the real power that we have, get the cowl and it’s yours. Totally up to you.
Indented first line prior to ‘But’ should be left aligned. p.14
EXT. CLEARING IN FRONT OF SALOON - AFTER SUNSET As said prior, see more below re sluglines/scene headers.
The saloon is packed with people from the town, who go there each night to unwind after a day’s worth of hard work. Sysmer and Rampage half-heartedly guard the door.
That’s what’s called a big ol' ‘tell’ in screenwriting. We, as the audience, will only see what you present us with and absorb other information through dialogue and action. We can’t know people go there after a hard day’s work or that they’re regulars (the ‘worth’ is not needed btw) and how do you ‘half-heartedly guard a door’? I get what you mean but you need to 'show' how and be more specific – perhaps bored expressions on their faces, or they wear sleepy expressions, or slouch against the door etc.
DYNARRE is in her early 20’s, is muscular, brunette, brown eyes, very attractive but pale, is(no need for the 'is') tenacious and intelligent. She stands about 5’4" and weighs about 105.
SAMARA is supernaturally-stunningly-attractive. She is a thin, dark-skinned, blue-eyed, brunette beauty in her early 20’s that stands about 5-10 and weighs just over 140.
To be honest that’s really laying it on too thick.
‘who stands’ not that, btw, and I feel slim is always a nicer adjective than skinny considering she attractive and stunningly so – preternaturally would also work better imh, than supernaturally.
Quite apart from that (above) you need to be creative with your descriptions – don’t give us only a bunch of physical stats. The weight and height doesn’t really belong here – I'd only write it in if they were giant or dwarf.
Ideally you want to combine a character's physicality with something about their personality/character – as with all characters i.e., ‘built like a brick shithouse’, ‘Amazonian’ - looks like she could crush a man with her bare hands and crush his spirit too… get it? Give us something of ‘character’ in that physical description.
cloak that surrounds her, bracers ‘cloak’ is enough on its own – do you mean braces? You mean a supportive structure not a drink, right? As in pants bracers?
Samara is dressed like a top tier mage complete with focus diamond on her forehead, cloak that surrounds her, bracers that seem to glow in the dark, black skin-tight gloves, and a body suit that seems to have a lot of pockets and other "mage-handy" sections, and sturdy leg guards that also seemingly glow in the dark.
Whew! You need to break up that description – it’s too long at nearly six lines. And, it’s a real wardrobe list isn’t it? I suppose in fantasy you need to describe their clothing/outfits, but I’d still condense this.
A good view of Rellik is NOTseen.
A good idea is to tell us what we CAN see rather than what is NOT seen. In shadow is enough, or shadowy figure, or figure stands in the shadows.
Disgustedly, Samara turns around Instead of this ‘tell’, ‘show’ us: ‘a look of disgust on her face’ or: ‘she curls her lip in disgust’ - keep present tense and avoid 'ly' - words/adverbs as much as possible.
Her nostrils are flaring. ‘her nostrils flare, alert to the scent of something in the air’ - keep your writing active not passive.
Anyone sense anything, magic, traps, anything? They shake their heads no. p.17
This is in a description line and obviously is a line of dialogue.
The wooden shack is unremarkable. p 17 How? This appears to be a new location btw – so the slugline should be inserted. Your slugs at the moment are too vague and/or complicated. Remember when the camera needs a new setup you need a new scene header/slug.
No sounds are heard at all. 17 No sounds from within – perhaps. Or: Eerily quiet.
The shack is pretty small. One side has a fireplace, to the left of one of the windows. In front of another window (and front door) is a table with three chairs in the middle of the room. In front of the last window are stairs that head upstairs, presumably to the sleeping area.
You can condense this easily.
Suggestion: Small and dark, to one side a fireplace, to the other, a table and three chairs. Stairs lead upstairs to another level, presumably a sleeping area.
Two people rush down the stairs. Man, mid 40’s, balding, p.18 medium build, dressed in commoners clothing, carries a sword. Wife, also mid 40’s, short blonde hair, medium build, also in commoners clothing, wielding 2 daggers.
A MAN and a WOMAN, mid 40s, dressed in commoner's clothing rush down the stairs. The man brandishes a sword, the woman wields two daggers.
Insert apostrophes ‘commoner’s clothing’.
The dialogue that follows from Assa indicates he’s not mucking about so (angrily) is superfluous.
ASSA (Angrily) Don’t lie. We know it’s here.
He takes out a few items (what kind of items?) more bricks, stones?
Rulak swings at the wife, but, she ducks and slashes him with both her daggers, but, neither she nor her daggers are a match for long. He overpowers her and stabs her.
Once again, get rid of all the ‘buts’ and ‘ands’ – insert commas in their place - doesn't mean you can never use them but overall they’re slowing the action and not necessary – neither she nor her daggers belongs in prose.
No need for the CUT TO at the bottom of page 19. In general leave camera directions out of specs. Plus this is the same location predominantly – I mean we’re still in the same house.
This location would be a mini slug i.e., a smaller location within the same larger location i.e.,
A TEEN, 15, tall, slender, brown hair, appears at the
TOP OF THE STAIRS:
Dressed in the same commoner’s clothes as his parents etc.
The exclamation mark already implies he’s yelling so do without the ‘he screams’ wrylie imh. Go easy on wrylies too in general as this can be directing.
But, dad, I can help. CAP Dad.
The 4 men start to exit the shack. (you can have them make their way to the door, or similar) but otherwise: The four men exit. (will do)
Avoid using words like ‘starts to’.
…and shoots a lightning bolt at the son.
You’ve named this character ‘teen’ and ‘son’ and 'boy' elsewhere (I think), so perhaps just stick with ‘BOY’ as his title, or one or the other. Just be consistent.
But, the bolt misses it’s(contraction of it is) target and hits the window frame instead. TYPO: misses its target – no apostrophe.
All 5 men All five men while the other 3 jump while the other three jump
(running away from the house) Do away with this wrylie as you’ve already said this in the description/action line that precedes this - that they take off running.
I regret that the greater good req, but, what is ‘req’ in this case? Typo? P.20
rise from the corpses. Rises from the corpses as in ‘a copy rises’ Edit this paragraph however cause at almost five lines it’s a little over and you can condense it easily.
EXT. CLEARING IN FRONT OF SALOON - NOT LONG LATER
EXT. SALOON – CLEARING – MINUTES LATER (perhaps?)
Keep your slugs straightforward – Interior or Exterior scene – location, start with the largest location to smallest - i.e., EXT. DAYTONA RACETRACK – PIT STOP – DAY and, most people agree with sticking to just DAY or NIGHT & either CONTINUOUS, MINUTES LATER, LATER etc. If the sun is rising or it's dusk or twilight you can write something in the description line underneath to reflect this - example: Maria and John watch as the sun dips below the horizon - or similar, you get the gist.
EXT. SALOON – DAY – MINUTES LATER would probably do it. Quite a few of your sluglines are convoluted - sorry if I'm repeating i.e. area outside, clearing in front, by central tree etc.
‘One of them says crap.’ This doesn’t belong in an action line. It’s either a character’s dialogue or it shouldn’t be there imh. P.20
ma and pa. should be capped i.e., Ma and Pa Where you can replace the word Momma or Papa with their christian name i.e., Clara, it should be capped. Example of when not to would be for example: 'that's my momma' - it's lower case here cause you wouldn't say: 'that's my Clara'.
The kid’s a bit touched in the head, he sees things. I’m his pa, these are...
‘pa’ in this case is lower case. But why does this dialogue trail off to nothing ??
Eran makes it past all of them and gains entrance to the saloon. Incorrectly indented line. P.21
Rampage quickly has his sword out of it’s sheath,... What we’ll see is: ‘Rampage draws his sword’
and carefully grabs these few words slow the action down.
Rulak charges at Rampage. Rampage blocks the attack with his shield, and manages to bash Rulak with is shield, stunning him. Rampage moves in for the strike. He is startled when delete that latter few words - Rulak recovers and gets a good strike on him, drawing blood. 'strikes him, draws blood' or at a push here as long as the sentence is active and the verb progressive you can get away with the 'ing' word there. See how it reads yourself when you remove some of those 'and' words.
Once again, sorry to labour the point but these are good examples of where: (i) your action line is too long and, (ii) you can edit this easily for a faster read by taking out the conjunctive words and passive verbs. And that’s a typo btw: ‘is shield’ should be: ‘his shield’.
Assa flings 4 stars Four stars
You’re funeral. Typo: ‘your funeral’
Svte savagely attacks Samara. How? And with what weapon? Does he bite, stab, hit, kick??
She tries to deflect his… Just as with ‘starts to’ avoid ‘tries to’ – show us what we’re seeing with her deflection – does she hold her hands up, does he grab her wrists as if she’s a rag doll?
He overpowers her, forcing her to the ground. ‘He overpowers her, forces her to the ground’ Or: ‘He overpowers her, throws her to the ground’ Or Just: ‘he throws her to the ground’ - be inventive.
HE STABS HER, FATALLY, IN THE STOMACH. Samara lies there, bleeding pouring out from the massage wound. Do away with the ‘fatally’ as this is an outcome/conclusion. Show us what we see on screen: He stabs her (where? What part of the body?) she bleeds out (I think you mean ‘massive wound’? btw.)
Rampage is distracted by the plight of his friends, and is taken by surprise when Rulak pulls a dagger from his boot and stabs him in the chest. Rampage stumbles to the ground, blood oozing from the wound. Novel writing, again. Suggestion: Rampage, distracted, turns as Rulak pulls a dagger from his boot, plunges it into his chest. He grabs at the wound, stumbles, falls to the ground. Something like that. P. 23
Ok, got to leave it there for the moment. If something is not clear let me know I'll happily clarify.
Hi LC Wow, my head is spinning right now. I can't believe I did so much wrong!!!
I am going to go through this line by line and see what you have written. I will say that I apparently uploaded the wrong Tales. Some of the changes you made I already had caught. I can't believe I did that. Lesson learned, delete all old copies of a manuscript.
You're right, I was a writer first, and fell in love with screenplays afterwards. I have written a few screenplays, including full-length.
Sometimes, I do get lost in the English language, it's so darn complicated.
Back, instead, I decided to PM my notes on episode one. Look for them. Some -- you can probably disregard now... since I decided to read episode two. I must say, it answered some lingering questions. And it was much better than the first. JMHO.
So Sysmer and his group are the good guys, but at the end of episode one, turned out to be a decent little cliffhanger... the Assa's gang. Now that I have confirmed they are the bad guys, you spend way too much time on them. You should definitely focus more on Sysmer, and his loyal followers. Throw in a little back story.
I'm still wondering why you're keeping the mysterious woman's name a secret. The story is very doable for sure. Sysmer is your main character, the bulk of the screen time should be with him.
LC covered a lot of things as far as the writing. All I'll say is this -- at the end of the day it matters far less how many words you use, than if you are using the right words.
Okay, look for my notes in your PM box soon.
"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."
I read over the story again (part 1) and I think you have a lot of good stuff to work with here. If I hadn't got into Game Of Thrones a lot of this would be double-dutch - it's definitely helped educate me in the ways of Fantasy as a genre, and I enjoy it more - still not sold on Lord Of The Rings...
Back to yours: I particularly like the humour you've injected into the story and characters, you have a definite flair for it. The character of Assa stands out for me - he's a favourite for sure. He didn't die at the end of Ep 1, did he? I hope not? One thing I'd like to see is more of the world these characters inhabit.
You were kind enough to review some of my shorts so I thought I'd return the favour. This is the only script linked in your sig so I had a look at part 1. I love fantasy, I've read hundreds of fantasy books and watched many on screen adaptations so I consider myself an expert lol.
I'll start off with the logline. It isn't really a logline and it is something a lot of screenwriters neglect. I myself have done so and it was only when it was pointed out to me I started working on (hopefully) better loglines, This article helped me - http://www.indiewire.com/artic.....t-as-your-screenplay
Most of what I was going to say about the script LC has covered in great detail and I agree with all those comments. Just to summarise what I thought when reading it:
This has all the right elements for a good fantasy series and opening with a battle is a great way to capture the audiences attention. However It reads more like a short story than a screenplay. The action includes details the audience cannot see and therefore they will not know about if this was produced. The simply rule is always show don't tell. Of course a little artistic flair to help set a scene is a good thing, the trick is to keep it brief and light.
Are Svte, Eran, Rulak, Assa, and Owain the protagonists? If they are they are not likeable. By the time they had the encounter with the Mysterious Woman I thought they were dicks that deserved to die, sorry but that's how I felt. Rampage and Sysmer are much more likeable. The title of the script is The Tales of Sysmer Zelyaeu so is this character the protagonist? If so this needs to be more about Sysmer who is hardly in it. Another option is to change the title.
The screenplay needs a lot of work but there's potential. As it was for me the problems got in the way and I wasn't enticed to read Part 2 but if you do a second draft I may well be persuaded otherwise.
Keep up the good work. Only by writing do we learn.
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