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The Final Pawn by Craig Ramirez (craiger6) - Short, Drama - On the eve of a critical battle at the outset of the American Revolution, three people stuggle with their devotion to each other and their fledgling nation. In the end, they find that not all is as it seems 17 pages - pdf, format
I love your writing style, and I can tell from your work that you spend time finding the right words for the descriptions.
It was a great piece, and certainly one of the better ones I've read in a while. The dialogue felt real. Was it researched at all?
It was a brilliantly realized tale. When it switched to present day, I felt a genuine sense of wonder. I hadn't a clue where this was going, then BAM. Perfect in my opinion. Reminded me of an old series I used to watch as a kid called 'Tales of the unexpected'.
I like the fact that the reader is on a trip, not quite sure where they're going. You pulled it off expertly.
A story of true valor with an excellent twist. The writing was almost too good. Puts mine to shame. I felt my heart racing during the battle scenes. I only have one question, Craig. Did you live in the year of 1777 or are you just a major history buff. You did your homework for this one. It had the same intensity of Mel Gibson's The Patriot, and Last of the Mohicans. After reading it I feel like I could go out and slay a dragon. Testosterone rush. Anyway, I'm rambling. Good job. a blip on pg. 7) ROBERT Margaret, is all right? What did that man want?
One other thing...SPOILER...I would've liked to see Margaret sitting in the audience at the end during the chess game, like maybe she was David's love interest, or muse.
Hey Craig, this was recommended to me by Craig Cooper, so thought I'd check it out.
Your writing is very strong and although some might niggle that it cuts close to 'novel', I think it's excellent. You have a great way with words that paints the scene brilliantly.
I did notice a few instances when you finish an action line with '...and says'. I think I'd lose them, they're not needed.
The dialogue is spot on, I know you've done your homework and that the time and effort you've put in has really paid off. Writing in an old fashioned language can take time, or it does for me anyway, but you've managed to hit the nail squarely on the head. It reads perfectly, well done.
The battle scenes were well described and the last moments of the charge were really quite emotional...then I was kind of taken by shock of where we suddenly jumped to.
Of course the title is a clue but I was well engrossed in the story it never twigged that they might be a twist. I'll admit that at first I was a little disappointed that the story of Paul, Robert and Maggie had it's conclusion cut a little short but then of course Paul, the final pawn, helpped win the day and took his place in...David's pocket.
I have to say Craig, this was excellent and one of the best shorts I've read here for a while. Great work mate.
Check out my scripts...if you want to, no pressure.
I liked this, but I have to say I didn't love it as much as the others. No doubt you're an extremely talented writer, and your gift for story telling is evident, and I did enjoy the twist at the end.
There were a few things to note and a few questions I had. I have to imagine that you're either a history major or professor, or a voracious reader, i.e., someone who has a great grasp and knowledge of that period, so I may be off base on some of these comments.
pg 2 - narrative near the bottom s/b "undeniable"
pg 7 - Robert's first line of dialogue s/b "is 'everything' all right"
On page 8 Robert proposes marriage as a question and with a lack of ceremony that I imagine most proposals carried during this time - I would have preferred a more "flowery" overture from someone of his stature (I realize the twist at the end would mitigate this somewhat, however the reader and audience at this point does not know the ending).
In your dialogue there is a noticeable absence of commas when your characters address others. After a while I started reading the dialogue probably faster than you intended me to. Also, the dialogue is peppered with contractions - shouldn't the more educated characters not use them?
Many of the important sounds that happen in the narrrative - for example, artillery shells on page 9 - are not capped, yet on page 12 you cap the word CHARGING.
On page 14 when Robert shouts orders to his men while a sound happens (not capped) shouldn't Robert's orders be dialogue? Or drowned out by the sound?
Also on 14 we see Margaret look through the spyglass as told strictly in the narrative. Visually speaking, should we not get a POV - SPYGLASS there?
I agree with Alfy about the "so and so says" and about this reading like a novel at times - i.e., on page 15 in the narrative when you say "the enemy reacts predictably" - I don't know what a predictable reaction for them would be.
Again, overall this is a very good piece and you're a very good writer. I think if you expand it a bit you could make it great.
Thanks so much for the read and the valuable feedback. It really is appreciated particularly coming from all of you considering that I have enjoyed your respective works.
Very interesting idea re: Margaret in the audience at the end. I would probably have to make him a little older, but def something to think about. Thanks for the idea.
Glad you enjoyed the battle scenes as I kind of got bogged down with them. Wasn't sure if they were going to work.
Thanks for the recomendation. Much appreciated.
Yeah, the Margaret Corbin character was a historical figure who actually ended up running a cannon during one of the battles of the Revolutionary War. Initially I had just decided to use the name and then as things went on it worked out nicely with her taking over the cannon.
Thanks for the read.
Yeah still working on trying to limit the "novel" writing. I think that I've made some strides from my first short, but I realize there is still much room for improvement. I think sometimes I can't resist.
I hear you on the "and says..." - I will edit.
Glad to hear that the dialouge worked for you. This was one of my major concerns.
Thanks for the read and the tips.
Interesting thought re: Robert's proposal. In all probability, you are probably right. I guess I kind of saw Robert as a no-nonsense type. The thought that he would need to be more flowery or poetic in his proposal wouldn't really enter his mind in that he couldn't imagine that Maggie would entertain other suitors. Especially not some farm boy. Good idea though - will take under advisement.
"In your dialogue there is a noticeable absence of commas when your characters address others. After a while I started reading the dialogue probably faster than you intended me to. Also, the dialogue is peppered with contractions - shouldn't the more educated characters not use them?"
Yeah, def need to do a better job with the commas after a character addresses other. CraigCooper had mentioned this to me as well. Will edit.
You are right as well about the use of contractions. Excellent point.
Also thanks for the tips about the CAPPING. Also I didn't even think of the POV, but it seems you are right on there as well.
P.S. The idea for this script actually came from a buddy of mine who knows I've been tinkering with writing. We were watching college football in a bar and he mentioned the concept. He initially suggested more of a medevial theme, but I wasn't all that familiar with the time period. I'm not a history professor by any means but I do enjoy reading history, particularly early American history, so I decided to take a crack at it.
Well, thanks again for all the input and advice. It is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the read, and please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything in particular you'd like me to read of yours.
The description is great. It does go a little overboard occasionally and could be trimmed a little but it’s better to have to trim great material than to have boring description.
P6 - There are some slugline issues. We start out outside the hospital tent. Margaret enters from the back. Then you have another slugline for outside the tent. That scene is followed by yet another slug for the exterior of the hospital tent. If the action moves from the front of the tent to the rear, you need to make that clear but you don’t need three identical slugs in a row.
Personally, I think it would be clearer and more visual to have Paul follow Margaret into the tent and talk there, then have Margaret follow Paul out on the tail end of the conversation.
P9 - Who is James?
P9 - “The cavalrymen are gone.” That’s a little too vague for me. “They’re gone” could mean they’re all dead. Could mean they ran away in fear. In a screenplay, that could mean they were transported to another dimension by aliens. You’re good with description. Seemed strange you would toss out such a vague description.
P10 - The doctor’s last dialogue just rang so on the nose for me. Margaret has the same line, “Thank you doctor,” before and afterward. Personally, I would cut out the first “thank you doctor” and the doctor’s “you’re our salvation” lines.
P13 - The aide de camp. I would just name him Mathew right from the start.
I didn’t care for the ending all that much. It was just okay for me. I liked the Revolutionary War story. For a short, I thought it was very engrossing. Then the jump to the present was in my opinion pointless. It didn’t connect to the story in any way except to help people who are too oblivious to see the correlation between a pawn in a chess game and the way “pawns” are dispatched with on the battlefield.
The chess player valued his pawn. Robert valued his pawn. None of it makes the pawn anything but a pawn, someone or something to be sacrificed for something perceived to be more important. Is that the message here? That we should all appreciate the pawns of the world? If so, that message would have been better served if you would have left the ending off altogether and added some meaningful ending to the war story. I would have found it more satisfying.
The writing is very good though. Description in particular. Well written all around really. Good job.
I liked this script alot. And the twist was a nice concept. I might have added flashbacks during the scene of David explaining how he had won. The love story ended quite abrubltly for me. Maybe you could show Margeret crying over Pauls corpse, while Robert comforts her in one of Davids flashbacks at the end. Might give the story more closure for me, I need closure!
Pg 6. I didn't understand why James made a hasty getaway, but then talks to Margaret.
Pg. 8 The marriage proposal needed more build up i think
Pg 9. James?
Pg 10 I would have liked to have seen the doctor putting more of a resistence to margaret leaving, he lets her go very easily.
But Im only nit picking really! Great script. Very touching story. I like the fact that Paul sacrificed himself for Margaret and the army. Your descriptions of the battle scenes were excellent. I can see you've put alot of effort into this. Great stuff.
I hate to be the lone dissenting voice, but I did not care for this one. I felt the writing was too heavy-handed. The laborious descriptions seemed to slow down the read.
The ending may have been clever, but it didn't work for me. I don't see the payoff in getting emotionally involved in characters and then finding out that they never existed. Not to say this type of ending would never work for me; it just didn't work this time.
Thanks for the read and the tips. I hear you on more closure, makes sense. I guess I didn't expect that people would get that involved in that part of the story. But that's stupid of me since that is the meat and potatos of the script. Will take it under adivsement.
No worries and thanks for the read. I'm still trying to find that nice balance b/w description and story telling. Hopefully I will get you next time.
From reading this and "The Loss Of Fear" it more than confirms to me that you have a firm grasp of the English language and are able to articulate yourself proficiently. However, it’s unfortunate that in this particular literary medium this can serve beneficially as well as be a hindrance. I already alluded to the over writing of "The Loss of Fear" as did many others. Fine, well expressed over writing I may add but too much all the same for a spec script.
This suffers from a similar affliction, albeit not as severe. In fact I think your prose here is exceptionally well put together while it could still do with a slight trimming. Maybe lessen the eye description as a way of discerning what a character feels or what there about. For example:
"This is PAUL GRANDER (23). Paul, rustically handsome with intelligent eyes,"
"Despite these upper crust sensibilities, his eyes indicate a willingness to fight until the end."
-- A range of emotions can be conveyed through eye "language". Intelligence, maybe but not that someone has "a willingness to fight until the end" I would classify that under un-filmable. Let his words and actions of a character portray this.
While I see what Yosef meant about "heavy handed" I think you done a decent job at attempting to accurately replicate the way people talked back then (my limited knowledge coming from documentaries chronicling that era or novels written during that time) They always seemed to talk so grandiosely and proper (a lot better the present day) making the flowery, distinguished language work fine here thus fitting the piece.
GENERAL CORBIN (CONT’D) I only wish they did not have to know war. Engineers should concern themselves with building up humanity, not tearing it down. -- Good line
EXT. CAMP - NIGHT A pastor, JONATHAN GOODSTEAD (39), stands on a crate and delivers an impassioned speech to a group of baby faced men.
JONATHAN You, men of these 13 colonies, have decided to stand as one. As free men against a King who has been led astray by thieving and bloodthirsty advisors. A King who sacrificed the love and admiration of an entire continent of loyal subjects for the enrichment of his coffers.
Paul stops and listens.
-- You should specify a change of scene here or an intercut between outside the camp and inside Paul's tent. It’s a little unclear the way you have it written. I got the impression Paul was one of the crowd but the preceding scene suggests otherwise.
"Margaret enters from the back of the tent. They briefly exchange a glance before Paul attempts a hasty getaway."
-- I don't understand Paul making a "hasty getaway" when in the very next scene he speaks to Margaret. Also there doesn't appear to be a need for the scene heading since we stay in the same place outside the hospital tent and the time is "CONTINUOUS". Please correct if I read this wrong.
"James stares across the field at the enemy." -- Who is James?
"In a flash the cavalry is given the order to CHARGE." -- Maybe have this a line of dialogue, no big deal.
EXT. BLUFF - DAY -- What do you mean by BLUFF?
"She slowly comes to and is confronted with the carnage that has been left behind."
-- Nothing really wrong with the writing here except is perhaps a little too telling rather than showing Margaret's distress through physical reactions.
"They will be on him soon." -- This doesn't read well, in that its almost predicting something that may occur rather than actually showing us what is happening, in other words, what are we supposeed to be seeing on screen. The way you have it placed as a single line in between two paragraphs doesn't help the fluency of it either. The same applies to the line "It will be over soon." below it.
Great twist at the end, I defy anyone who claims they saw that coming. Very clever analogy of the war’s unfolding mirroring the game of chess. I wondered the first time why the men had simply disappeared, when it happened the second time I knew something was up, nicely done.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed this. It was a well thought out story, rich with imagination (of course), well drawn characters and finely written as a whole.
"I mean the bluff of a hill overlooking the battlefield. I see how it's not exactly clear. I think I'll just change it to hillside"
-- I wouldn't go changing it on the basis that I wasn't familiar with the term. It doesn't seem like anybody else was at a loss with it so maybe its just me. Although it is always preferable to use simplier language where possible, I wouldn't be too hasty in altering your language style just cos of one ignorant individual such as myself.
Yeah the overwriting can be something to work on but at least you are able to write, trimming back is just a matter of changing habit and realising what to discard and what should be kept
Check out "A Seven Backed Up By a Two" if you find the time and let me know if you have anything else besides whats on your sig.