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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Silent Whispers Moderators: bert
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  Author    Silent Whispers  (currently 1408 views)
Posted: October 16th, 2009, 4:48pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Silent Whispers by Andrew Boggan - Thriller - After a series of disturbing nightmares about the brutal deaths of her friends, an intuitive teenager attempts to cheat death but accidentally finds herself playing god 79 pages - pdf, format

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Posted: November 12th, 2009, 5:05pm Report to Moderator

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I'm only half-way through and have to stop for an audition but my first bit of advice is that you are putting grown up words and phrases into kids mouths. Your main girl is 14, yet her and her friends, all talk like they are post-college.  

Please note that this is a very common problem that I have defintely been guilty of before and probably will be again.

"If somebody tells you your first script is good, it's because they are lying. It will be awful, trust me." - Blake Snyder
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Posted: November 14th, 2009, 3:56pm Report to Moderator

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Disclaimer: Talk between 2 writers should not be taken personal. In no way is anything that follows an attack against you or your craft. Ultimate goal is for you to sell your script, get an IMDB credit, and collect a paycheck . . . given my training, knowledge, and experience; this is what I think can help make your script better:

Silent Whispers – Be very careful, an oxymoron will usually come off as cheesy

Opening Image / Set Up : Nicholas drowning in the pool while Valarie is getting ready to leave . . . a very powerful statement and every parent’s worst fear . . . Problem is that it doesn’t involve your Hero (Lead Character) and doesn’t elevate the storyline. My initial thought was that “Holy crap, the kid died, bummer” Then in the next scene we see him . . . Okay, so the kid lived or is this a flashback? My advice, cut all the dialogue, cut Valarie, and literally have your opening image as Ashleigh’s vision of Nicholas drowning that you use later on.

Hospital Scene with Zach and Dr. Burwood. Doctor is talking to Zach about his wife’s condition and what happened on the flight . . . this scene set up doesn’t work at all and I would highly recommend cutting it. . Why would the Doc even be talking to Zach prior to evaluating Valarie? Also, why would the Doc be the one who is telling Zach about an incident on the plane? Raise the stakes of your conflict here and have Zach continue to get no information about Valarie. Or use Ashleigh to some how pass along information about the incident. Also, change the word “drama” to “incident” Either way, this scene is exposition. I think it is told better in a vision by Ashleigh than by a Doctor talking about it.

This occurs multiple times in the script. This is cheating, change:

Christine and Michelle walk off leaving Ashleigh to trail behind. Suddenly, it hits her!
                                                                                               JUMP CUT TO:
Christine screams while Craig beats her to a pulp
                                                                                               JUMP CUT BACK:

Ashleigh snaps back to reality like she has awoken from a bad dream.

SLOW CLOSE UP ON ASHLEIGH – This happens multiple times in your script. Don’t tell your Director how to direct the movie, they hate it! After the script has been optioned/bought/greenlit and you’ve been hired on to write revisions, and a Director has been hired . . . then you can write a “blueprint” draft with these clues in it. . . . but I highly doubt you’d be able to do that. These clues come about during the many meetings between director and writer during Pre-Production. Or once you get the funding to make this yourself or are hired as the Director too, then you can chance the script to a “blueprint” draft

Christine and Craig scene – This scene needs to be completely re-worked or cut.

ASHLEIGH knows exactly who is next to face a brutal reality, but we don’t think she dares to say who – Avoid saying “WE” at all times during your action, unless it is absolutely unavoidable. “Ashleigh knows exactly who is next but can’t face the brutal reality”

(Silent Pause)
In Action line just say: “Christine doesn’t answer her”

Reee . . . Reee . . . Reee . . - ? You’ve done this several times in your script. You don’t need to write in what your Foley Artists will add later on unless the sound is absolutely vital to what is about to happen in the scene. . . . F.E. Our heroes lay under the bed, clinching each other in fear. They hear the killer’s boot step loudly on the floorboards right next to them .Stomp, Stomp, Stomp. Hero #1 moves the blanket to see out . . . Nothing is there!  That was a piss poor example of using Foley sounds to elevate the story, but the point remains

"If somebody tells you your first script is good, it's because they are lying. It will be awful, trust me." - Blake Snyder
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Posted: November 14th, 2009, 3:58pm Report to Moderator

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Pg 39 – If our hero has a vision of a school bus crash . . . why would she then make the decision to get on the bus? Usually this is a sign of self-sacrifice; she is “offering herself” as a sacrifice to the powers that are controlling her . . . but this doesn’t happen until page
75 during your All Is Lost Moment or Pages 85-110 in your Finale . . . not Page 39 during your Fun And Games Segment / Midpoint . .  . . . There has got to be a better solution where we keep our hero safe and her visions still occur.

Page 43 – IDEA – Have Ashleigh see something in present day that triggers her vision . . . Ashleigh looks over and sees a student take a drink of water from a bottle and then BOOM, she has her vision

Michelle go and get her sister
Christine. She’s in room 2B down
the hall and bring her here
WOW? I’ll address the dialogue as a whole later, but for this one . . . . Imagine we are 2 cops in a patrol car and suddenly we start taking fire from someone and the absolute chaos of the situation takes over!!!!!! I quickly turn to you and say: “Andrew, very quickly, go to the trunk, open it and get the shotgun from the shotgun stand, rack it and take the safety off, and shoot back now!”

ZACH          CHANGE TO:          ZACH (O.S.)
(O.S)                         DIALOGUE

Pg 46 ZACH
Thanks, oh and Valarie, I love you
Careful, that’s a hell of a character curveball to throw if the Catcher hasn’t given that sign

Pg 50 – Cemetery Scene, need to add Ian and Michelle in the action of them standing around next to supportive family and relatives . . .  or walking up.  

Pg 60 – His arms are covered with thick bandages that appear to be soaked with tiny amounts of blood . . . Oxymoron, sell the image

Pg 63 – The audience sees a heavy fire and that’s it. . . yet Ashleigh talks about people burning and what not. Don’t leave your audience in the dark; let them see what she sees. The other characters just started to believe our Hero, don’t make the audience start doubting her now.

Pg 67 – Ian is now gonna be involved in the Finale?? WHAT? Come on man, a kid that was just in a horrible car accident that left him in a coma is now going to be up walking around the next day??  His character arc finished when he squeezed Ashleigh’s hand telling her he believed her . . .now leave him in the hospital to actually heal

Page 72 – Ashleigh says, “This is the only time I’m going to try this” . . . see Ashleigh Character block below please

Pg 75 – The teens make a break through LAX security, including a dude in a neck brace . . . . no way

ENDING  - I am not a fan of the Ending in any way.  It is clear to them that they have to stop Valarie from getting on the flight and they set off to stop her, okay I’ll go with you on that. But they go to LAX, one of the busiest airports in the entire world, and make a long run through security check points to the gate where they then yell, “There’s a bomb on the plane!” Damn it didn’t work, plane explodes, characters get tackled to the ground,  and in the midst of the flurry of emotions of watching a plane explode in mid-air that had your mother on it . . . that you set out to try and save . . . then this biatch Michelle is going to say, “We tried guys. We did all we could do.”  I’m sorry, but that’s the point where I literally started laughing.

Good twist with the Mother, but a solid effort way-to-late. Valarie having the same gift gives you an incredible opportunity to add more conflict to your script, embrace it!

Literal Not-So-Cliffhanger Ending – Another good twist, but I didn’t care for the results. I would have her push her off and that’s it. You killed your chance of a sequel, you killed Ashleigh’s ability to pass along the gift. I would change it to where Ashleigh wants to kill herself so that she can’t pass along the gift. Great Save The Cat moment.

"If somebody tells you your first script is good, it's because they are lying. It will be awful, trust me." - Blake Snyder
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Posted: November 14th, 2009, 3:59pm Report to Moderator

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ASHLEIGH CHARACTER – Ashleigh is your hero! She’s also your villain! Audiences cheers for heroes and they cheer for villains. But in your script, your audience will not cheer for her. There is nothing like-able about her other than her parents are going through a divorce and you feel sorry for her. That’s not enough. You want to cheer for her! You want to be behind her and root for her when she’s faced with these challenges.

Ashleigh needs a Save The Cat moment. (If you haven’t read Blake Snyder’s “Save The Cat” do so, it is amazing. He was a personal mentor and friend) She’s been given this gift where she can see people die before they do . . . yet she just lets it happen!! What a selfish little bitch! How can she be a hero if she won’t use her “special powers to save humanity!” Finally on Page 72, she says okay, I will go save my mother using my gift . . . . On Page 72 of 79 . . . . Something needs to happen way earlier where Ashleigh does something that will win over the audience and want to cheer for her. Maybe she uses her vision to save a life and it comes back and bites her in the ass later.

Audiences love villains!!! There are reasons why people cheer Michael Myers and Jason! They are so evil and want nothing more than to satisfy their blood lust. . . . except Jason finds a kid . . . and lets him go! (The ultimate Save The Cat Moment by the way!!!!) Ashleigh has the potential to be a likeable villain in the essence of her using her visions to satisfy her own craving for loss of life.

Either way, this is the biggest problem with your script and needs to be the first issue addressed.

DIALOGUE – 2nd biggest problem is your dialogue. At some points it is well crafted and then at other points it is painful.  The biggest problem is you are putting grown up words, phrases, sentence structures, etc. into 14 year old mouths. Also, every character (Not talking about Ashleigh and Christine here) sounds the same. Sometimes that is the writer’s intent to do so, but a very dangerous move.  
(F.E. I recently co-wrote a screenplay where we wanted our 2 leads to be so in-sync with each other that they could probably finish each other’s sentences at all times. Very, very dangerous move to show the effect of the relationship with the characters, does it work? maybe, maybe not)  

If you removed all the character names from the script, you would not be able to tell if Zach, Valarie, Ian, or Michelle was talking. This is an instant problem that every screenwriter, even the tip-of-the-spear screenwriters, still fall victim too and spend countless revisions to fix.

My advice is to write another draft, hire a couple actors, and have a table read so you can listen to the different ways the characters talk to each other. I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS. As an actor, I love being asked to do table-reads because it shows me that the writer is committed to working on improving their script, gives me the chance to get a free meal (poor artists are hungry, always), and it gives me a chance to act!

“B” STORY -  Your “B” Story / Love Story is the Ashleigh and Christine story, not Ashleigh and Ian.  You have great moments where it is just the 2 of them talking and trying to figure things out and it is by far the best parts of your script. I care more about your “B” story than your “A” story.  I care more about these 2 sisters binding together in the face of a divorce and their brother’s death than I do than Ashleigh being able to see a trailer of someone’s death. It’s not a bad thing, most people care more about the Shia LeBeouf – Megan Fox relationship than they do about Shia saving the world, it works! And I think you should continue with it! Maybe even switch your “A” and “B” stories

CONFLICT – Your conflict between Valarie-Zach is the most forced conflict. Their fights go from 0-60 in 2 lines, than 60-15, in 1 line, back to 60 in 1 line, and then 60-0 in 2 lines. Every fight must be built up. Whether it be a gradual build up in 1 scene or it builds up over several scenes.

The conflict between Ashleigh and Ian is okay, but gets old. Less Ian, more Michelle is my advice. Ashleigh wins a major battle of winning over her sister, but waits until the very end to win over the best friend. . . seems off-balanced . . . maybe

You failed to raise the stakes in my opinion. Your hero was never in any danger of getting hurt. Okay yes, the bus crash, but that’s her own damn fault. She never has a vision of herself getting killed or hurt and is never actually put in harm’s way.

SETTING – This takes place in LA. Paint the picture of this story taking place in LA. Describe the world that this story takes place. Your characters use the “bloody” . . . so I thought this took place in England or Australia . . . Then someone said “reckons” . . . so the South?  Then you took us to LAX at the finale and we finally learned that Los Angeles was our home.

WATCH: Final Destination – You gave us the same thing as Final Destination, but different. Good, that’s exactly what you are suppose to do . . . but instead of giving us a new exciting original twist . . . you gave us the same plane exploding killing loved ones tale.  Devon Sawa can see his plane explode . . . so what does he do? Tells everyone that the plane is going to explode and that they need to get off. (he Saved The Cat . . . actually he saved like 7 Cats, including Ali Larter. Every guy was thankful.) Find your own path with your script, don’t write Final Destination 5

WATCH: Orphan – Amazing! Wanna see how to make a creepy little girl so incredibly likeable that you actually root for her as she starts knocking people off, watch this well written and acted feature.

Again, I’m sorry. You can write better than this. You have great moments in there, try to find a way to multiply off those moments in your future drafts. Good luck and keep writing!!

"If somebody tells you your first script is good, it's because they are lying. It will be awful, trust me." - Blake Snyder
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