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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  The Dark'ning Moderators: bert
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  Author    The Dark'ning  (currently 4414 views)
Don
Posted: October 28th, 2007, 1:54pm Report to Moderator
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The Dark'ning by Nick Miranda - Short, Horror - Based on an original short story, THE DARKNING finds a detective interviewing a young girl about the disappearance of her boyfriend.  But a strange occurance described as "the opposite of lighning" may give the detective something else to write about in his report. (12 pages) - pdf, format


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Don  -  February 10th, 2008, 3:23pm
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bert
Posted: October 28th, 2007, 2:43pm Report to Moderator
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I originally opened this one to make sure the title was not a typo, and once I had read a bit into the story, I was pleased to find that it was not.

That initial conceit, of “dark-ning”, is good and interesting.

And I continued reading because I liked parts of this one, but I was ultimately disappointed by the ending.

About midway through I thought to myself, “I hope it doesn’t end that way” -- and then it did end that way.

This story suffers from some predictability.

There are also a few far-fetched items here in terms of police procedure, particularly those associated with the ending.  They simply clean up the blood and forget about it?  You strain credibility too much -- and you weaken the story.

Aside from having your policemen act a bit more like real policemen, there are a few other ways this story might be improved.  It would help to know how old Lindsay is, for example, and she might share a bit more of her past with the officers.  Perhaps shed a bit more light on this odd phenomenon that was “after her.”

This is supposed to be an ambiguous short -- and that is OK to a point -- but there is a fine line between ambiguous and just plain random.  I mean, why the rose?  What is up with that?

I think this story demands a few more details than what we have been given.  If you plan on a rewrite, I would recommend adding them.  Not everything, of course.  But I think a few additional pages to flesh out this “dark-ning” idea of yours would make this story stronger.


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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Blakkwolfe
Posted: October 29th, 2007, 1:46pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Nick;

Liked the short, but would have liked to have seen the initial darkening of Shawn instead of just hearing about it after the fact...I'd like to see her intial reaction to the pheonomena, then maybe the interogation scene would pack more punch...This seems like a segment of a bigger picture, which isn't clearly defined enough.

Joe


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ReaperCreeper
Posted: October 29th, 2007, 8:29pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Nick,

I liked this piece. I thought it was very entertaining and you only had 3 characters. I do, however, think it deserves to be either a  feature or just a bit longer (like 30pgs) because as it is, there really isn't much to say about it. But the story is just too good to be let go of and it still has a lotta juice to be squeezed out of it. I highly recommend you do something with this.

And I agree with both  Joe and Bert's suggestions. I think you should include Shawn in the next draft. I would've liked to see the scenario of his "taking". Maybe through flashbacks as Lindsay is telling the story?

Either modify the final scene about cleaning everything up or use it as a device to show how desperate those cops are for losing their prisoner. Because as it is, it is ridiculous and doesn't work at all.

A fine piece overall.

Keep writing!

--Julio

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mgj
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You say this is based on an original short story but you don't say by whom.  Is it your own or some published work I'm not familiar with?  Just curious since it is an intriguing concept.

As for the actual story itself, you established a good mystery here but there's very little payoff.  I'd ask you what this story is about - or more specificaly what this darkning is exactly.  I can only guess because as far as I can gather you offer very little in way of clues or an explanation.

You need to throw a few more pieces of the puzzle at us.  As is, there's not quite enough here to connect all the dots.  It's odd because your writing is very good.  It makes me think you're only giving us a portion of this script.

A few questions I'm left with:

- Why are the police so determined to cover this up?  Does this paranormal phenoenon have something to do with a past police indisgretion?  A vengeful spirit perhaps?

- Surely security cameras would be installed in the holding cell.  Why not play those back, see if they recorded anything?  I guess the darkness would keep it hidden, but still it seems a prudent thing to do.

- What is the significance of the rose and the blood for that matter?  Is she dead?  Trapped in another dimension?


Like I said this is an intriguing concept, one you can definitely work with but as is, feels very incomplete.

-Mike


"If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein
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ReaperCreeper
Posted: October 30th, 2007, 12:30am Report to Moderator
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"Why are the police so determined to cover this up?"

Gee, I dunno. Maybe because a girl just dissapeared out of thin air leaving behind only a dead rose and a pool of blood? Even if there was a past story about it, I'm sure they'd be sent to mental asylums if they said that to anyone.

"What is the significance of the rose and the blood for that matter?  Is she dead?  Trapped in another dimension?"

I don't think that needs an explanation. As it is the story is very Lovecraftian. The whole fear-of-the-unknown thing worked well here. If anything, I agree that *only* the rose should be explained.

Of course, I'm speaking for myself here and not the writer...
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mgj
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Quoted from ReaperCreeper
"Why are the police so determined to cover this up?"

Gee, I dunno. Maybe because a girl just dissapeared out of thin air leaving behind only a dead rose and a pool of blood? Even if there was a past story about it, I'm sure they'd be sent to mental asylums if they said that to anyone.



Well, I guess that's just me then.  Personaly I wouldn't risk conspiracy in some police cover-up which could send me to jail (worse than an asylum, I'd imagine).. Again, just me.


Quoted from ReaperCreeper

"What is the significance of the rose and the blood for that matter?  Is she dead?  Trapped in another dimension?"

I don't think that needs an explanation. As it is the story is very Lovecraftian. The whole fear-of-the-unknown thing worked well here. If anything, I agree that *only* the rose should be explained.


why does the rose need to be explained but not anything else?  I don't get your logic.  I ask questions like 'why' and 'how come' -  I'm funny that way - I don't need it to be all spelled out for me but I'd like an explanation, otherwise these are just random events that are taking place without any reason or purpose.






"If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it." - Albert Einstein
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Hoody
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Hey, just got a chance to read it.  It was pretty good.  Your writing is very detailed, which is great.  

The idea of the "dark-ning" is awesome.

And now the things that irked me:

The story has SO much more potential.  You hint at a lot of different things that could make the story better, but you don't pursue them.  I believe if you make this script a litte longer (20-25 pages) you could answer the question behind the pool of blood and the rose and Abernathy's recollection of how this happened before.

Another big problem with the story is the coincedence of no cameras and Abernathy not loading the tape.  Did he do it by accident or did he do it on purpose?  It could go both ways because he seems pretty determined to get rid of whole situation, which might help you dive into a deeper mystery.  

In short, this was a great idea that just wasn't used to its full potental.  There's a lot of things I would love to see fixed or answered.  As it is, it's like starting to watch "Lost" halfway through the season and trying to put it all together.

Hope this helps.


Please, read Elvis The Goat or Cold Turkey.  Thanks in advance and I'll make sure to review your script in exchange.
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nick_horror
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A big thanks to everyone who has commented.

First, let me explain that this is based on a story I wrote, which is why I felt no need to name the author.  Also, this screenplay is written so that my friends and I could go into production on it, but when I moved, it was scrapped...hence the length and beginner style of story telling.  So now you know.

I originally wrote this screenplay as a challenge to myself.  I had just seen the episode of "On the Lot" where the aspiring directors made horror films and I was a little disappointed with what I saw, so I set out to write a serious short horror film.  Thus was born the aforementioned screenplay.  What you all have read is the first and only draft.  I wanted to see your comments to find out what to change.  Now I know and I will begin working on a second draft which will bring in more of what I had to leave out from my original story.

Also, forgive the lateness of my response.  I had my wedding on the 27th and have been busy.  I am also hard at work formatting my short stories for my website in time for Halloween.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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herb_West
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Hey Nick,

I just read the script briefly. Nice fluent style of writing. You know how to set the scene.

My problems with this:

This all set up and no pay off. I don't mind randomness, but in order for a twist to work there needs to be clues along the way. Some seeds that might seem insignificant but reveal themselves to be vital.

Again, there is no motivation for Abernathie to do what he does. He is simply there to push your plot along towards it's inevitable conclusion. He is simply a function at the moment.

I would have liked for your main detective to come to some kind of realization. What if he sees something in the darkning? It will also give him an arc.

My final thoughts: This could have been 5 pages long, as your middle section becomes redundant as it bares no resonance to the main plot. If you could tie everything together, this would make the twist more hard hitting.
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This screenplay was picked up for production by Autumn Spirit Productions.  I'm very happy about this, since so many of you seemed to enjoy this story.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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DeRRBaby
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I really like this, very creative.

I wish lindsay would have explained why this "darkning" is after her. I was intrigued with the concept. I just wish it would have told more.

overall nice... I enjoyed it


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bert
Posted: February 5th, 2008, 3:59pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from nick_horror
This screenplay was picked up for production by Autumn Spirit Productions.  I'm very happy about this, since so many of you seemed to enjoy this story.


Actually, every reader thought it needed a rewrite.

Did Autumn Spirit ask for changes, or accept it as-is?


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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Zack
Posted: February 5th, 2008, 4:09pm Report to Moderator
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Neat script, Nick.

It's not perfect, but it's certinly enjoyable.

The beginning moved kinda slow, but once they started to talk about the Darkning, things picked up.

Then it ended... and I kinda felt cheated. What is the Darkning? This script begs for an answer, please give it one. You have so much potential here.

Good luck.

~Zack~


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They contacted me based on this version.  I requested to do a rewrite which added more to the story which I will post soon.  The producer liked the changes.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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nick_horror
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I have submitted the finalized version to this site that was approved for production by Autumn Spirit Productions.  So as soon as it is posted, I would love for all of you to reread it and tell me what you think of the changes.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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Murphy
Posted: February 6th, 2008, 5:45pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Nick, well done on getting this produced. I quite liked it, It seemed quite original which for a short horror must be fairly difficult to pull off, there are so many short horrors on here that follow similar themes and ideas. This worked and I can certainly see why it is being produced, 3 characters, 1 scene, not too expensive to shoot. If anyone wants to have their shorts produced I would guess that this is the way to go.

I will look out for the re-write before I make any more comments.

Cheers
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Zack
Posted: February 6th, 2008, 5:49pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Nick,

If you want more reads, you should read other peoples scripts as well.

~Zack~


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nick_horror
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So here is what I changed in this draft:

-I altered some of the dialogue to make it flow; to better illustrate that the characters are separate people.

-I added a flashback scene in which we see Lindsay interacting with her girlfriends at a sleep over and we learn some about how the Dark'ning came; this then proceeds into a scene with Lindsay and Shawn where the Dark'ning attacks the two of them.

-I added a brief statement by Abernathy which kind of ties everything together at the end.

So what is the verdict now?




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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Zack
Posted: February 10th, 2008, 6:57pm Report to Moderator
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So the Darkning is some kind of voodoo curse? Although I am glad you gave us an answer for the darkning, it seems very forced.

I can't say I really liked it anymore than the first time I read it. Actually, now I feel somewhat cheated. Sorry.

~Zack~


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nick_horror
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Do you think you could elaborate a little more?  You say you feel cheated: why?  What is it about that part of the story that leaves you feeling empty?

And the Dark'ning isn't a voodoo curse, it is kind of my imagining of a tax or a toll that has to be paid for reading that spell and calling out to the Lovecraftian god Yogsothoth.  And, no, I'm not expecting anyone to really know that.  I just threw Yogsothoth's name in there as an homage to Lovecraft and as a little inside nod to those who do recognize the name.

Having just said that, I may let Abernathy give that as a passing theory.  I think I can imagine him thinking that this mysterious incident could be seen as a tax or toll for using the dark spell in that book.




My short fiction can be seen at:
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Zack
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I guess the reason I feel cheated is because I really like the basic premise of the script, I just think you need a stronger origin for the darkning then some "spell". This is just my opinion though...

~Zack~


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mikep
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Hi Nick, I had read your first version of the script but put off posting my thoughts, and now reading your revision, I want to throw in my two cents worth.

I'm a sucker for well done Lovecraftain scripts, I've worked on my share in the past, and I loved the concept of the Dark'ning. Nice. I think Lindsay's comment " it was after Me, he just got in the way" is stand out stuff, and I think the key to a more satifying ending.

My thoughts are this - first, don't over-explain the dark'ning or it's origin. I'd remove the flashback with the spell reading, and just have Abernathy say something to the effect " i read the first statement you gave the officers who picked you up and it's just rambling, maybe you can help, you mentioned a Yog-Sototh, now what is that"  - Lindsay freezes and brushes it off ,"oh nothing, he misunderstood me, i didn't say that" -

The interrogation becomes more and more heated -I think the key to making a satisfying ending is to have Abernathy struck by the dark'ning - maybe it's offscreen as he berates and badgers Lindsay - camera is with Murphy in another room, he hears a noise, maybe like an animal growl combined with an electric sizzle, runs to the interrogation room and there's Lindsay - alone - blood and a rose where Abernathy stood - "see?" she says " it's after me....he got in the way" -   fade out -

Just a thought. I think OVER explaning is going in the wrong direction, as even for those who don't get the Lovecraft reference, it's still a paranormal event and adds a twist to the ending.

Mike


13 feature scripts, 2 short subjects. One sale, 4 options. Nothing filmed. Damn.

Currently rewriting another writer's SciFi script for an indie producer in L.A.
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Quoted from mikep
Hi Nick, I had read your first version of the script but put off posting my thoughts, and now reading your revision, I want to throw in my two cents worth.

I'm a sucker for well done Lovecraftain scripts, I've worked on my share in the past, and I loved the concept of the Dark'ning. Nice. I think Lindsay's comment " it was after Me, he just got in the way" is stand out stuff, and I think the key to a more satifying ending.

My thoughts are this - first, don't over-explain the dark'ning or it's origin. I'd remove the flashback with the spell reading, and just have Abernathy say something to the effect " i read the first statement you gave the officers who picked you up and it's just rambling, maybe you can help, you mentioned a Yog-Sototh, now what is that"  - Lindsay freezes and brushes it off ,"oh nothing, he misunderstood me, i didn't say that" -

The interrogation becomes more and more heated -I think the key to making a satisfying ending is to have Abernathy struck by the dark'ning - maybe it's offscreen as he berates and badgers Lindsay - camera is with Murphy in another room, he hears a noise, maybe like an animal growl combined with an electric sizzle, runs to the interrogation room and there's Lindsay - alone - blood and a rose where Abernathy stood - "see?" she says " it's after me....he got in the way" -   fade out -

Just a thought. I think OVER explaning is going in the wrong direction, as even for those who don't get the Lovecraft reference, it's still a paranormal event and adds a twist to the ending.

Mike


Thanks, Mike.  That is very helpful; I may bring this up the next time I talk to the producer.

I suppose that hardest thing is having some people say that they were confused with the first draft; so when I give an explanation, they seem hesitant to except my explanation.  Which isn't their fault.  I know that you can't please everyone--just read the reviews for any major movie released...well, ever.  This goes double for the horror genre.  I find fault with almost every horror movie I've seen with a million ideas on how to improve the story.

The major issue with this piece is that it has to remain short.  I think (as does the producer) that it works as a brief glimpse at something unnatural--like walking through a Halloween horror house.  The scariest things are those which you did not see clearly.  Maybe this philosophy is why I liked "Cloverfield" so much, but many people did not.  But unlike someone else's story, I seem to be out of ideas on this one.  I played around in a draft with the Dark'ning going after Detectives Murphy, Abernathy, as well as some of the random offenders in the holding cells, but I deleted those ideas because it seemed to random and would cause me to go into too much explanation.  I find the...whatever it is...should just be a simple-minded thing with only its prey in its sights.  For that reason, and that it took Shawn by accident, Lindsay was the only victim I saw.  She read from the book and she escaped.

I hope this isn't sounding defensive; as I said, I know that no one will ever write a screenplay that everybody likes.  I just want to write one that I'm happy with.  And I will be the first to admit that I like this one, but I think it could be better.  I just don't know how.  Maybe if I leave it for a while something will come to me.  But I'm hesitant because of how much the producer wants to keep it simple and short.  That doesn't mean that I will quit messing with it since the production company is letting me keep all my rights, but for now, this is as good as it will get for me.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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mikep
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No, not defensive at all Nick, no worries. You're right, you have to strike a balance between being happy with something that has your name on it and something that will appeal to an auidence. Just don't fall into the trap of over-explaining. In a short you really don't have time so that's a good thing.

Just remember, that is not dead which can eternal lie...


13 feature scripts, 2 short subjects. One sale, 4 options. Nothing filmed. Damn.

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In situations like this, I'm often reminded of something Stephen King wrote in his collection "Nightmares and Dreamscapes."  It was in the Author's Notes and it was about his story "The Moving Finger."  He said, and I paraphrase, that sometimes there is no explanation in horror.

I believe that; but I also believe that when your name is Stephen King, you can do and say what you want in your prose and people will think it is brilliant.

That is how this story first popped in my head.  I wanted something unexplainable to happen in a place where explanations are supposed to occur.  So, sometimes a girl reads from a book and unleashes a terrible curse upon herself, and sometimes a long, multi-jointed finger snakes its way up through some guy's drain.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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Dreamscale
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Hey Nick, just read your script.  I've also read all the comments, including yours.

First of all, I really liked this.  Something about it just "works".  It's very simple yet it evokes a real fear, something sinister and ominous, yet "real".  Something that we don't understand, and haven't seen before.

I agree with what you (and your producer) said about keeping it short and not adding much to it.  It works the way it is for sure, but I do have a few ideas that just may help.

I agree with a few reviewers who said they felt let down by the ending.  I did as well.  It can be improved, and here's a way to do it.

I think that Murphy should get zapped by the Darkning while Abernathy "watches" through the 2 sided mirror.  That way, the mystery continues, and the story could end in a big question mark.  You could also leave it open for more of this to play out, depending on what kind of medium you are planning on putting this in.

I don't like the police men "cleaning up" the scene and making stuff up about what went down.  I'd leave Lindsey alive and if it comes up, able to carry on the story in any way you choose.

I also don't like the rose thing.  I'm assuming that the dead rose at the end is the same one that she must have picked up after her boyfriend disappeared.  She wouldn't still have this on her in an interrogation room, and I don't think it works the first time or the second time.

Finally, I'd play up the blood level that's left after the Darkning strikes.  I see it with much more gore...more than just a pool of blood...more like a mass of steaming blood and gore.  Something horrific!

Anyway, hope this helps. I think your original story idea is great, and you've written an intriguing and scary script out of it.  Great job!

Let me know what you think.

PS  How long is this "short" supposed to be and what format will it be on?


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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nick_horror
Posted: February 11th, 2008, 10:25pm Report to Moderator
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Dreamscale,  thank you for your comments.  Every little bit helps.

As I said, I have tried having the Dark'ning go after Murphy, but it just didn't work.  I'm not above revisiting that option in the future.

And just for clarification, Lindsay never picked up the rose when Shawn went missing.  She stepped on it, saw it, and fled.  The reason it appears at the end was my way of basically saying that this is the same thing that came after her the first time, because, let's face it, some viewers aren't all there and need to be slapped in the face.

As for the blood, well, I wanted this to be PG, I guess.  Also, I was very budget-conscious when I wrote it simply because it was going to be for just my friends and I to do as an afternoon project.  And that much blood would have been a bit problematic.  And in my original draft, that I never really finished, there was a clean up scene so that I could utilize the time it would have taken to clean up the blood in a productive manner.

I was told they are looking for this to be between ten and twenty minutes (max of thrity).  And as I understand it, the film will be available online as either a download or a DVD purchase.  They producer also wants to enter it into festivals, so you may be able to see it on screen sometime.  I doubt I will.




My short fiction can be seen at:
http://www.angelfire.com/scary/nicksliteraryvault
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rc1107
Posted: February 12th, 2008, 12:00pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Nick,

I just want to start out by saying that I love the idea and concept of 'The Darkning'.  Definately very original (at least that I know of) and especially creative.  I like the three main characters a lot and got a very good gist of what they were about, so good job on that.

Somehow I missed it when you first posted this, so I can't compare that draft to this draft.

I browsed through a couple of other people's comments, from the first draft, and having read the second draft, there are still a few of the same problems.

My main problem was that the end was a little on the disappointing side.  Mainly because it was so predictable, which shouldn't happen with a phenomenon that is so mysterious.

One problem I had with the ending is the rose.  I understand how it works when Shawn was taken, because he was holding a rose.  But I don't understand how it reappears at the end when it takes Lindsay.  I noticed in one of your replies you stated that it is kind of a signature mark that the darkning leaves when it takes a victim.  If that is the case, you shouldn't have Shawn holding the rose when he's taken, because it just confuses the issue of whether it is a signature or not.

Another problem I had was when Lindsay was zip-tied in the interrogation room and she looks around and says 'I should be safe in here' or something like that.  How does she know where she'll be safe at if she doesn't even understand what is happening?  It comes off a little bit forced and gives away way too much about what is going to happen once she is left alone, which is the main problem with the ending, the predictability.

I was also confused a little bit by the message in Erica's  mom's spellbook.  How the dark spell had a note that said 'for Tom'.  Shouldn't the darkness have come after Tom, then, since the spell was meant for him?

I also believe you do give the detectives a little too much 'we-can-do-no-wrong-and-no-one-will-check-on-us' credibility in the cover-up.  You said the two are only partners, so they have supervisors that would be watching over all of them.  Especially in what seems like a small town.  A boy's disappearance would attract attention from the big wigs.  Even in a city, there'd be more than two people focused on the interview.

All this isn't to say the story is bad.  It is very good.  These are just a few things that I thought that took away from the overall experience of such a good concept for a story.  I really liked the writing.  The suspense and tension was there the whole way (minus the predictable ending).  I was intrigued and interested through the entire script.

I did notice a couple typo's, however:

Pg. 1 - 'noxious'.  Did you mean obnoxious?  Or did you mean nauseous?  Noxious is a word, but it doesn't fit the context in which you used it.  The color isn't harmful or injurious to somebody's health.

Pg. 1 - 'This is LINDSAY TOBIAS -- or what's left of her.'  -  (You might want to reword this.  It comes off like she's missing a limb or is decapitated in some way.  Simply saying she is weak or drained will get the same point across.)

Pg. 2 - 'She begins sob very lightly'.  -  (should be 'to sob')

Pg. 3 - 'He leans back and rest his hands...' - (should be 'rests his hands'.)

Pg. 4 - '...pot bell.'  -  (should be 'pot belly'.)

I know those aren't big mistakes at all, just little things that weaken somebody's writing and detract from the story.

As I mentioned before, I did in fact like this a lot, but, even like you had said, there are some things that can be done to make it even better than what it is.  I like how you want to keep working on this even after it is produced (congrats by the way), so I'm sure if you just keep pounding away at it, something will eventually pop in your head that works better than how it ends now.

- Mark


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