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Isolde by Gage Eggleston (AsteroidJuice) - Short, Drama - There are strange markings on the walls of Hunter's attic. They seem to lead to a secret room which contains something that Hunter never could have imagined. 12 pages - pdf, format
Seen you've been active around, and you've given some decent feedback, so I thought I'd give this a quick read.
Couple of concerns spring up pretty quick - first is the over-writing that's going on:
## There is a closed attic door could as easily be -- An attic door.
I take it the boy's on a pair of step-ladders, but I don't think you'll win friends among the prod assts if you're not referencing necessary props.
## The ladder unfurls; -- struck me as a little odd - was this a rope ladder? Maybe have the boy give it a tug?
I didn't like ## It's dark. I think there's a couple of ways to do this, but going from a single word 'dark', we have to then only work with sound - unless you tone down the level of dark - else you're describing actions the viewer won't be able to see.
The 'Yelling down ...' line didn't look good - some won't mind it, but it looks sloppy taking into account the above. As good is him looking down and just yelling - and in an action line, that simplifies things.
As well as the 'It's dark', you also have the attic as 'It's cramped', and there's a danger of pacifying too much of your writing here, as you are losing the subject of the sentence. Persistently doing this damages the writing.
The 'No dice' just doesn't work - if it has to be in, then it needs to be dialogue, either Hunter or one of his family - it just can't be shown on screen the way it's done, and is superfluous.
I didn't read any more - a script needs to be written so that its slant is visual manifestation - and yours is soft prose - fine for a short story, but not good for a script.
There's not much I can say on this one, which is a good thing.
It is a bit over-written in a few places, but only a few and I personally think you've done a great job with the writing, here. I was able to easily picture every single bit of detail. I think there's some talent developing when it comes to describing things.
I personally wouldn't just tell Isolde's story through V.O's. I would try and have a mixture of V.O's and FLASHBACKS to tell her story. Main reason for this is it gets a bit boring when we only see this through Hunter's V.O's. In addition to that, I would also like to see Isolde at some point. I think that would bring an interesting aspect to the story. I don't know, just a suggestion. Take it or leave it.
Other than all of that, I think you've written something that really had me thinking.
I agree with Simon that the writing style is more suitable for a short story than a screenplay, but with that being said I didn't find it unbearable to read. I had a clear picture of what was going on, and for the most part understood the happenings of each scene.
"No dice" on page one is extraneous for an action paragraph (also as Simon said). I interpreted literally and asked myself, "Why is he looking for dice? Cool ornaments for the rear view mirror should not be his priority," before rereading the line and realizing that it was a figure of speech.
As I was reading I appreciated the small cues to Hunter's isolation as he delved into the diary. His phone having zero messages, him always by himself whenever continuing Lorna's Tales, I felt that it was building up to some sort of connection between him and Isolde which may or may not have been met.
I didn't quite understand the ending.
Is the unfurled ladder a response to his text message? Why did "text the possibly dead girl" click in his brain as a good idea? What number did he even text? The point of the entire story failed to dawn on me due to a case of extreme bafflement upon reaching the conclusion.
Things to consider:
ATTIC HALLWAY on page three could work better as a new slug since it takes place in a completely different room than the scene prior.
BLACK (page five) should be on the left said. From my understanding that's where transitions typically go.
I mentioned earlier how the shots of Hunter in his bathroom, walking the dog, etc. all alone worked well to accentuate his loneliness, but since it didn't really culminate to anything it might have been better to simply have him read those parts of the diary in one sitting. It would also shorten the scripts, though 12 pages isn't particularly lengthy.
"He's awed" (page eight) sounds inappropriate. Maybe use "flummoxed" or "bewildered." "Awed" just has connotations of "wow that's so cool!" which would be an odd reaction to someone stating that she feels and sees her dead mother in the back room of an attic. But who knows? Hunter could have issues.
"He arrives." to "Turns it." (page nine) could be reduced to one action paragraph. The lines are all so closely associated that I don't see the need to split them.
"He has an idea." (page 12) is a bit superfluous. Jumping straight to the idea paints the picture enough that Hunter has thought of something. The reader doesn't need a disclaimer.
Overall the script read well but that's about it. It felt like a sequence of events since nothing really came together at the end, though again, that could be my fault because I'm confused regarding what even happens there.
Forgive me. I am deeply stupid.
*edit: I also wondered whether it would be a better idea to narrate the V.O.'s in Isolde's voice instead of Hunter's. Didn't reach a verdict. The jury in my head is very crabby. However I still thought it was worth mentioning because it might make it easier to empathize with her.
*edit reprise: "Eventually..." (page three) doesn't belong in a script. I get the image but it reverts to the "show don't tell" rule. Either indicate some sort of montage to lead to his discovery of the final arrow or walk us through each arrow in order to remain specific.
Signatures can be annoying, especially when they're pointless.
I'll think about the flashback ideas, Dan. Right now I'm kinda liking it as strictly through Hunter's point of view, so the shock of Isolde's true character is a bit more jarring. But who knows? I may come around; I'm a very indecisive person.
Thanks for the feedback tendai. The "no dice" thing will definitely be cut in the second draft. As for the ending, I have a real soft spot for symbolism. The very opening shot of the piece has an attic door, "closed off" if you will. But the last shot has the door wide open, this kinda represents the personality change Hunter has attempted to make. He's much more "open" now.
I wanted Hunter to be in the bathroom, walking the dog etc. while reading the diary not only because it's more entertaining for the viewer, but it provides a parallel between Hunter and Isolde as she explains that she needs to "keep busy".
I also lengthened the "hallway door approaching sequence" to match the pace. I had it very slow and ominous in my mind, so I figure longer page = more screen time.
As for the rest of the ending, I really just wanted to do something a little new with the concept. I've read/watched movies where a lonely person finds someone else to relate to, but I've never seen one where you find out the person you can relate to is a little freaky, and maybe you don't want to be like them. It's happened to me before; I just wanted to convey the feeling.
At the end, I figured Hunter just texts a random friend to start his new life. I could probably convey that better to the reader.
Don't think you're stupid! I make my stories for me, but I also make them for everyone else. Any way I can help the reader enjoy it more is an opportunity.
I've also thought about having the V.O. as Isolde. I can't quite decide either.
And how did Hunter reach the handle unless he's a six foot 13 year old?
Went into my closet and I reach my attic door just fine (I'm 5"9') so I figured the stepladder would just be an unnecessary addition. However, if that persists to irk you and others I would gladly change it for the sake of clarity.
Thanks for the spot-on analysis of the first paragraph, I really do need to tweak and shorten it. Gage
Gave this one a read last night but I’m afraid it wasn’t for me. In truth it became quite difficult to get through with all the (V.O) dialogue which at times was quite long.
Don’t get me wrong, you have a good core idea with the isolation angle. The fact that both Hunter and Isolde suffer the same affliction and there is potential to go further.
But all the long dialogue really dragged it down for me, I just feel this needs to be trimmed down. There are some nice hints at Hunter’s loneliness but I feel this side needs to be explored more… He obviously has a family around him who go to the beach and play with boogie boards and what not so I didn’t understand why he’s isolated… didn’t really see much of his world outside the book to be fair.
I have to admit at not understanding the ending either, he finds some drawings before thinking of an idea to text… someone/something? I wasn’t sure to be honest. I guess leaving the attic door open is to symbolise that Isolde and him are open to one another now… again not sure really?
The writing could also do with some work and its need to be leaner, tighter if you will. Also some of the slugs didn’t work for me and I’ve already mentioned the closet thing but this could just be a location/house thing. All the houses I’ve ever lived in, all the attics were situated in the hallway so that’s why I found this confusing.
While on the topic of the attic, jeez that was one big attic and he must have lived in a big house. There were three separate rooms and a long hallway which struck me rather odd… I’ve only ever had small attics.
There were other little elements that really didn’t appeal to me like Hunter picking up the flashlight in the morning and placing it in his pocket. He then goes to the beach, before it’s the evening and he decides to go up to the attic again when suddenly, the power goes out but don’t fear because Hunter still has that flashlight in his pocket ready. It’s almost like he knew it was going to happen so he grabbed the flashlight in advance or in this case, the writer knew and threw in a handy tool for later on.
Obviously writers do that all the time, take James Bond for instance and his trusty gadgets, but you don’t have to make it so obvious like this.
Another would be the mention that she says “so” a lot which immediately had me looking out for it. Wait for it… 2 times. I got no problem with doing this sort of thing but at least make a point to throw a few more in to be consistent with what you’re saying unless it’s superfluous detail.
Some other nitpicks would be the parenthetical (reading) which for me wasn’t needed after the first one. While on this,
I also think that having Isolde speak in (V.O) over scenes like the mowing would help this story instead of Hunter reading all the time.
And get rid of the “continued” on the top and bottom of the pages as they’re not needed.
I think you’ve got a good idea here and I can see the potential, but it needs some work in both the story and writing to push it forward.
I think previous posters have picked up on some of the issues surrounding format and style, so I’ve tried to concentrate a little more on the story here.
So you’re starting to set this up as a mystery. The locked door in the attic, trail of arrows, along with a bit of mood lightning. Okay so the mystery object is a diary -- I’m expecting something special from this diary. What follows is Hunter reading from ‘Isolde’s’ journal as he does various household chores...
I don’t mean to sound harsh but I think you have to step back here and really think about how this would look on screen. A big issue I had, one you alluded to via ‘Isolde’ was the fact she ‘rambles’. I think you could argue a key part to keeping us entertained is not to ramble, especially with this type of dialogue/monologue. We can gather in a much shorter time frame that they’re both alone and isolated.
I also wondered why the VOs were in Hunters voice and not hers?
A little further in and now he finds the key to the end room and we’re back into mystery mode... This is where the strength to this story lies... but again I just didn’t quite gain anything from the ‘locked room’ and what lay inside -- a mattress/shrine, some drawings... It came across as muddled, a lot going on but nothing to focus on and wrap the story up with.
I have to admit, I was at a loss as to what the ending meant. Who does he send the text to? If he doesn’t have any friends then who does he really expect to call? What is the moment he finally decides to turn his life around and reach out?
What was the significance of the attic light and hatch being left open?
There’s a nice idea in here somewhere: this lonely kid finding comfort in the journal of another lonely kid. The mystery angle has promise, but the set-up felt way too elaborate and disconnected from what eventually transpires, for the most part, to be a kid reading from a diary.
I think the comments on this whole thread will hopefully give you an idea of where to take this and which elements of the story to focus attention on.
I wish I could say more, but I finished this with more questions than answers.
I’d be happy to elaborate on anything if you want to PM me.
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
Seen you working hard for others so thought i would give it a read.
I didn't read the others before hand so my notes are as they go.
all the best
Isolde - feedback
Name - interesting. i have no idea what this means, probably a name, let see
Fade in on right - a frown from some Slug - closet - to me that means someone is inside a wardrobe? Sorry but i am lost as to what i am reading - does closet mean Attic? no he is climbing upwards? Just wonder if you need an extra line describing him looking for the light Branches out with a hallway - bit lost on that description Use of continuous - much debated around here but not sure its needed in this scenario Writing “on” the wall where the box “sat” - needs to be clearer, although i understand Phone - why would we expect it to ring? P3 “the third`’ how do we know there is a third, i know this is picky, but how about cant find any others Arrows - they go up a wall, then along a ceiling but point to a “small” door - ie it is below the ceiling, again this needs some clarity P4 at this point i like the treasure hunt feel, but i am a little confused, at this point, as to why a family home (where they store volley balls in the attic) has this at all - its not a new house where they havent been before. Lets see... P4 slams his door shut at night? discombobulated - bloody hell, thats a real word, catchy!! VO was a bit rambling with not much point, so far. Key at end, seems a bit obvious for the boy to notice Yup, lost me on the last part. Pages torn out - dont get that. Journal in, journal out - nope dont get that either Who does he send “hi” to - doesnt it need a number? Attic door left open?
OK. so kid finds a treasure type map of clues, that nobody else has, despite storing things in that attic. He reads a fairly dull book, discovers a room/shrine, then walks away.
If it hadnt been for speaking to his mother, then down to the beach, i could imagine him as dead himself, but not this way.
The Elevator Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards. Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
Hey guys and girls, revised script is up. Fixed a lot of formatting issues, nixed the annoying "continuous" slugs, and shortened some things for a smoother read.
Thank you to Steve, Steve, and Bill for the feedback.
Coop, as far as the attic size goes, I'm shooting this short in my attic and so I wrote the script around that. Now that I think about it, my attic is like a maze...
As for the flashlight deal, I don't know what to do here. I don't like the idea of Hunter randomly getting a flashlight in the dark, but I agree that it's a little cheap for him to take one out of the box. Maybe I'll have him take some other stuff to conceal the point.
I also tried to get rid of the "continued" but Celtx is dumb.
stevemiles, thanks for your read. You brought up a lot of good points. In my next draft I think I'll change the later portions of the V.O.s to Isolde's voice, when Hunter puts the bookmark in. This way we retain his POV but get closer to Isolde.
I think stevemiles and ReefDreamer had the same problems with the read: you didn't really see a point in it. I can see why you would think that. It looks to meander a bit, but what I was really trying to write here was a treasure hunt story, except this time there is no physical treasure, but an emotional one. I've read tons of stories where a lonely person finds someone to relate to, but a problem I've had personally with that is sometimes I find out the person I can relate to is... well, a bit creepy.
That's the twist, to me. When Hunter realizes the one person he enjoys talking to in this world is a messed up little girl. The shame that comes with that realization is the end of the false high, the twist.
This piece no doubt needs quite a bit of work before I'm ready to film it, and I thank you for helping me.