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Sic Semper Tyrannis by Robert Skotte - Short, Drama - Though based on actual events, this story is more or less fictional. It portrays the few remaining minutes of a young man's life as he is readied for execution by lethal injection. The families of his victims hope for closure while his family seek answers to the question...why? 28 pages - pdf, format
I liked your short. Overall I thought it was pretty well written, but a few things caught my eye. Hope you don't mind if I share some thoughts.
The biggest thing that turned me off was the CNN Anchor's voiceover during the execution scene. To me, a scene can't get any more tense than lethal fluid slowly moving towards a man's veins. But the Anchor's voiceover distracted me a little bit. I thought it kind of killed the tension. I did like the description of the fluids, though, as I didn't know the details of it. I would suggest mentioning the makeup of the fluids earlier in the script, so then when the fluid actually fills the tubes, we already know what it is, what it does, and the tension remains intact, if not even greater.
I thought your action descriptions could've been shortened up in some spots. I'd suggest something like these:
On p.1, it says: "The large crowd shouts and yells, the mood hostile." How 'bout: "The hostile crowd shouts and yells."
On p.1, this description was kind of vague: "Next to him sits the prison chaplain, dressed in black, holding a bible and a man in a suit and tie, typical lawyer uniform."
It sounds like the Chaplain is holding both a bible AND a man in a suit. That make sense?
How 'bout: "The prison chaplain sits next to him and reads from a bible. A sharp looking man in a nice suit watches over them."
This line kind of made me giggle, which I doubt was your original intent: "As your attorney, I must advise against this." It just sounded way too cold coming from a man who's supposedly in tears. I wanted him to talk to the Young Man as more of a friend at that point.
Other than that, I'd take another close look for misspellings. There were a lot of dropped "s"s and improper usage.
I though it was a nice piece, though. I liked how the clock factored into it. Definitely lots of tension.
Quick Question: I really like the last paragraph by the "young man" over black. Was that what McVeigh actually wrote? It's kind of chilling.
Thanks a lot for the review and for the pointers. Very useful. It's funny, when you write it you totally miss a lot of the things that the reader picks up right away. So thanks for that.
I wrote this basically over a weekend - it just sort of came out by itself. I have read a lot about the Oklahoma City bombing and I have always wanted to write a scripts about it. This was just the beginning, I am planning to write a feature length scripts about the subject but I just wanted to get something on paper, try it on for size.
The last paragraph is from the poem 'Invictus' by William Ernest Henley and it was in fact McVeigh's last 'words'...so to speak.
Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
I agree with Adam about some of your descriptions, they could be written a bit shorter.
I did like the reporters a the beginning.
Bottom of page 1 'typical lawyer uniform'...I don't think this is needed.
I would introduce the lawyer when you first mention him in the cell.
typo page 2 'the young man extend his hands'...should be 'extends'.
top of page 3 description of the house seems a bit strange.
typo middle of page 3 'do you think his dead will...' think this should be 'death'.
I say this in every review I do but I'm still not entirely sure where you stand on parenthetical's, think there for speach tone and not direction?
typo top of page 5 'what about you sister'...think this should be 'your'.
typo top of page 6 'could i've done things differently'. 'i've should be I have'.
Harley says 'ok, your gonna do fine'...I think not lol.
page 8 you put 'he leans over the young man and swaps a small patch...' should this be 'swabs'.
Whats an M2 Bradley IFV? If its a tank or something I would just put tank, or whatever it is.
typo bottom of page 10 'intravenous drop...' should be 'drip'.
typo page 13 'pronouced death...', should be 'pronouced dead'.
I liked the poem at the end, very moving.
This was a good read but you need to tighten your descriptions. The story unfolded very well, revealing facts when needed without forcing them on to reader.
Overall I thought this was very well written, good job.
One thing though, I couldn't get my head around the title 'sic semper tyrannis'. It's latin right for something to do with tyrants? Anyway it just reminded me of a song title by a band called 'Brand New' and the songs called 'sic transit gloria', which is latin for glory of the worlds or something?
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Thanks for the review. Jesus, that's a shiteload of typo's - how did I miss those?
'Sic Semper Tyrannis' means 'Thus always to Tyrants'. It's often translated into 'Death to Tyrants' which is just plain wrong.
It's quite an interesting little phrase.
- It's the motto of the state Virginia in the US. - John Wilkes Booth shouted it when he shot Abraham Lincoln. - It was written on the T-shirt McVeigh was wearing when he was arrested after the bombing.
And it sounds pretty cool too.
The Bradley IFV (short for Infantry Fighting Vehicle) is a tank, yes. But had I written tank I'm pretty sure the readers would think of it as a tank like the M1A2 Abrams. The Abrams engages its target from miles away while the Bradley needs to be up close and personal to engage (I'm exaggerating a bit here but you get the point).
McVeigh was the gunner on a Bradley during Operation Desert Storm and he did in fact kill an Iraqi soldier. He didn't shoot another tank, he shot a human being. I think it goes to show just what he was capable of with a 5,000 pound Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil (ANFO) bomb...
Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
No morning, evening or dusk, etc. Just Day or Night. Plus no (.) perdion after any of these.
Reporters at the scene, busy working the crowd." Couple things wrong with this line. A) We are currently still on this scene, so no needs to say at the scene. B) Passive sentence, working ( u use it here as a verb) is your verb and should be without the ing to make ACTIVE C) too long
Should read like this.
Reports work the crowd.
pg. inside a cell" Cell should be in heading. ie Deathrow - Cell
CAP Young man and he also needsalil description beside stoney face.
Dont use (Cont) unless dialogue break from page. Contd isnt really used anymore beside this one condition.
Most sentences so far are good but you over due some. But since this is a short, I think it is okay. but for me I would just say as much with fewest words.
Like he dsay he doesnt blink, twitch,etc... I would just say " he shows no emotion"
pg 3. You need to name the lawyer on pg 2 when you first describe him.
Can you really appeal day of your own scheduled execution? pg4 his dead" his death pg 5 trial.. u have trail
Missing DAY or NIGHT with the scene switchin from jail out to the streets
No need t state the mood. your description state the mood without saying pg 8. People start arriving. this is passive. make active. "People arrive"
Nobody says anything. if you dont indicate in dialog or " chatter " in description. This goes without saying. no nee for word use of again, suddenly, begins, starts.... action occurs in the order you place it. Rendering these unecessary words.
pg 9, you mean in front..not infront you name the reporter carol, but in dialog u use cnn reporter....
period missin on barry simcic
pg 12 it read needs ":" after it.
I wouldnt say 39yr old is a young man. But I thought it was tim, since you said who better better and who did I think was the young man. I might not have known if you didnt mention. but you do well on mystery without mentioning til the reveal.
Decently told story. I think it up the emotional impact if you went to some of the familys he killed and show they wantin him dead, vs tims parents who didnt ant their boy dead. that is only hat i would add story wise.
You wrote this pretty well, but you sentence do need some reworking in parts. It well laid out tho, you got your point across and it didnt feel rushed at all. Look forward to reading mre of your work. Def good writer on his way up.
The predicate adjective part was driving me crazy. I couldn't think of the term and had to research it. It was like something out that Jeff Foxworthy show.
This script was told from a very impartial point of view and, IMHO, it worsened the story. It was like reading a newspaper article. You really need to tell it from someone's point of view. It doesn't matter who.
You describe Nigh, twice, as being a lawyer. Don't do this. Show us he's a lawyer. I don't know what a 'typical lawyer uniform'. Chances are, however, that a lot of us wore them today.
The large crowd shout and yell--It should be "shouts" and "yells".
The stony face young man doesn't blink --
It should be either "stony-faced" or "the stony face of the young man".
Is it necessary to know which kind of ice-cream there was?
Wipe the tears from his eyes--wipes.
Robert grab them--grabs (there are many more of these types of errors throughout the script but I'll stop here)
I'd make the lawyer younger and less experienced. It seemed out of place for him to cry over a failed case.
Robert speaks way too much like a lawyer and not so much like a person to the man who's about to die and he cried over.
Sluglines should never end in periods. It looks wrong.
I'd introduce Paul, Helena, and Larry sooner if I were you. They were brought in really late.
Well, once I read the end I was kinda like "bleh". You should bring more closure to the script and its characters. Maybe a last scene showing the young man's body or something. The poem just didn't do it for me. It was a good poem, but it provoked no reaction in me at all.
On the bright side I liked Bill and Jenny and the tension building up to the excecution. Nice job.
Most technical points have already been covered so I’ll cut to how I felt after reading the piece. I really liked the subject matter and the tense build up to the execution but I found the story didn't REVEAL enough as much as I'd hope for. Towards the end I felt it moved slightly sympathetic towards McVeigh. You have to justify that somehow.
Everyone in the story seems to be asking WHY. How does his father not know? McVeigh jr. did what he did because he thought it a proper and rational cause of action. Was he insane? Was he dumb? Where did he get his extreme political viewpoint? Did it pop into his head one day?
I think your story should shed some light into the machinations behind such a terrorist’s mind. The poem at the end doesn’t, it only indicates that he still felt justified until the very end.
I think it’s a good story so it shouldn’t hold back any punches. As an Aussie I am unfamiliar with U.S anti government politics but I do remember several years ago when there was early talk about RAMBO 4. The story revolved around Rambo going back to live in the states and coerced into infiltrating a homegrown terrorist organization. Brian Dennehy’s Sheriff Will Teasle was back as an extremist member who recruits John J. Try doing that sort of thing these days. lol Now I think Rambo’s taking on the Burmese???? It's safer.