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Radical Forecast by Steven P. Dilworth (steven8 ) - Thriller - Four decades after witnessing a gruesome suicide, a middle-age family man risks losing everything to uncover the dark secret behind the dead mans reappearance. 101 pages - pdf, format
Yours was first on the list so I'll give this one a go. Read the first 15 pages. I'll try to do 15 pages a day when time permits at work.
First page, lots of conflict here. Boy wakes up to see some guy across the street to shoot himself. Works for me. I'd read on.
From the first 15 pages, I gather that the inciting incident is when Tom sees Renner the dead guy at the pharmacy. If I got this all wrong, let me know.
Page 3 - you repeat the line "Tom looks out the window." Maybe a different way of putting it. Not a biggie, but I'd try to avoid repeating a sentence word for word in the first 5 pages.
Pages 11 onwards - there seems to be an extra space on your periods when you use an ellipses. With all the talk about orphans in another thread, I noticed that you had an "period orphan" because of the ellipses. It's not a biggie, but it does draw attention to something not related to the narrative.
In general, it was a clean 15 pages. Nice grabbing first page. Inciting incident within first ten minutes. Technically sound.
My notes from pages 16-55. It read like a detective mystery. I liked how you got to the midpoint 50-60 and here, his relationship with his son is strained. Also, it's here the John character is revealed to show another piece to the puzzle, and finally, someone who believes in Tom's suspicions. I love how low budget this narrative is. Even film students could easily film this movie, at least up to page 60 where I'll pick up later.
Sometimes you would get into wordy action lines that can be cut further, but maybe this is due to having an early draft. For example:
"Tom's cheers fade away, as he starts to sweat. His actions become more nervous as he sees Renner disappear between two houses."
No need to mention he becomes nervous as it's shown with his sweat and Renner's actions.
More period/ellipsis orphans. Do you use Trelby? I wonder if this is a trelby thing. If it's a software issue, a double dash should be fine.
Some of the dream/flashbacks scenes I had to reread as you don't indicate that they're dreams/flashbacks. Maybe sticking a (DREAM) into the slug will make it easier to read. You don't want the reader to go back to a scene to reread it to make sure it's a dream - it disrupts the flow. Also some of these scenes are clearly just dreams (made up flashbacks) but some are legitimate flashbacks of real sequences. Or maybe I'm reading this wrong?
Also, I understand why you use a newspaper to detail events, but I've worked in a library before and most of the old stuff is either on film or on the Internet. But maybe it's a small town that still has antiquated ways?
pg 33-34 - reads to himself feels awkward. Maybe, the librarian comes in earlier and he starts saying his lines. Librarian gets confused and tells him to lower his voice. Then tells him the library is closed. Another alternative is he's tape recording himself so it's not so awkward that he's reading to himself out loud. Then he uses the tape recording as part of his "evidence collection."
pg 37 - the long VO of him reading looks/feels awkward. Maybe he skims the lines and says a few,key lines with a muted voice. It just seems weird he'll read the whole article word for word out loud. Maybe have him with a voice recorder so he's documenting his findings. Then when he meets DAvid/TOM Kemp, he'll have some documentationto show his "evidence."
pg 41 onwards - any reason why you use DAVID KEMP on dialogue and "Dave" on action lines. I think David across the board should work. Tiny detail, but some people like consistency and might hold this against you.
For me Act I ended, when Miranda made the ultimatum for him to stop the investigation. If I'm wrong, let me know. For me, the midpoint was clear and it's perfectly placed at around pages 55-60. The strained relationship with his son and the introduction of JOHN KEMP, someone who finally believes in Tom.
At page 60, I'm left thinking how did Renner survive a gunshot? Did he even shoot himself? Is the whole town "in" on it? Is this all in Tom's head? Looking forward to answering these questions into Act 3.
Page 1: "Tommy's chest heaves: He's terrified." Either make it two sentences or lowercase the "H". Page 3: Frustratingly forced dialogue between Tom and Miranda. Typical twelve-year old clothes? Page 5: Bursts (or flies) open might be better than slams open. Page 8: That first line of dialogue is literally about as on-the-nose as you can get. How many times does Miranda say Tom's name on this page? Six. Maybe it's just me but I've never said somebody's name that many times, without it being a joke, at once. Page 9: It's a little disconcerting that their bedroom carpet got more description than our main character did. "Oh wow, it's after eight-thirty. We'd better get moving." - Drop this. Page 10: "Why don't you boys go and get us some hot chocolate." - It's a question, not a statement. Page 12: The characters seem to say each other's name every single time they speak. Page 13/14: A couple times, your ellipses caused orphans. Personally, I don't know why you throw spaces between them anyway. Tom's freakout feels forced in the way he expresses it. Page 16/17: Worst liar ever. On "Moments later", use a mini slug for that. Oh, clumsy Renner, always getting his coat caught in doors. Page 18: "Who are are you?" Page 20: Holy speech, Bat-Renner! Page 21/22: Miranda's "pause" line of dialogue has about three different mistakes in it. "So" should have the ellipsis, and you have two periods instead of two question marks. That's not to mention it sounds really clunky. The world's worst liar makes a valiant return. Page 23: The dreaded "us". It doesn't bother me like it does for some people but I don't particularly care for the way you used it. Page 24: No periods after you text message prose. Page 27: It's abundantly clear who wears the pants in this family. Abundantly. Page 28: Three strikes, Tom... So, Renner's telling us that Tom should listen to Miranda? Pages 29-32: Please do something about the dialogue between Tom and the Chief. That was tough to get through and I pray that the dialogue in my story isn't that difficult to trudge through. The plot thickens... Page 33: G-D would actually be G.D. Page 35: This dialogue needs a re-write in the worst way... Page 37: Reminds me of the dream sequence in "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne". Page 40: The most important budget in history rears its ugly head. Page 41: It doesn't make much sense to call the Akron FBI office. A smarter move would be to call the Ohio Bureau of Investigation for a state case. "Sidles" = "Slides"? Page 44: Town is capitalized but shouldn't be. Page 46: Miranda is so understanding. If it were me, his ass would be out on the curb so fast... Page 51: I didn't realize if it's been like this in the whole script, but unless there's a second David in this script, when the character talks, either call him "David" or "Kemp". Page 56: This script certainly decided to take a different turn. Page 57: Oh, those clumsy Federal Agents, always getting tripped up by rugs when they're holding loaded weapons. Page 58: Kind of like a Three Stooges scene... I don't understand why he's crying about dreaming about Renner shooting J. Kemp. He's extremely emotional. Page 59: O.S. instead of V.O. Page 60: Tom fell asleep? Then, of all times? Page 61: The very top line of dialogue. What the hell? Page 64: Downtown is one word. Bob Arnold certainly knows bad news when he hears it... Page 66: Spell out the word percent. "FROM BEHIND A BUSH IN THE NEXT YARD:" That's an intriguing slugline. Page 72: David's very casual about explaining what happened to his dad. On the flip side, Bob breaks down almost instantly. Page 73: Potential surprise villain alert... Page 74: Capitalize the first time we meet Paul, whom we know nothing about. "Sargent" is spelled "Sergeant". Page 75: Sorry, Sarge, but you have no jurisdiction over a Fed... Page 76: "Believes" shouldn't be capitalized, but I know why it is. Just a fix to look out for. Page 79: Once again, when a character can't be seen, it's O.S. V.O. is primarily meant for when a narrator is talking to the audience. Page 81: Not sure I'm aware of "assent". I'd think you meant "ascent", but the context makes that line not make sense. And, boom goes the dynamite. Page 84: Sorry, Mike, but you're not being dragged there on a Saturday. Your parents would have to sign a permission slip for that. (Serious note: If you throw a scene in the beginning where they have to sign a permission slip for him to go somewhere (without stating it specifically), it could be a nice payoff revealing it as the high school). Page 86: Tom is a psychotic mess with anger issues and is severely susceptible to crying. These fucking guys like to fucking say "fuck" a fucking lot. Reminds me of high school. Page 89: Nobody unauthorized gets near the President, especially some guy who's "with them". No chance. Page 92: Tony is the most casual Secret Service agent ever. If he were a cop, he's the one I'd love to pull me over. Page 94: I love old people ex machinas. Page 96: This is a very delicate situation and must be treated as such. "Everybody get down. It's a bomb!" Page 98: This line's probably the most irritating on the page. "Yep. Now let's watch." Page 99: If there were ever a cue that a character is NOT dead, it's, "I'm just glad to know that Renner is really dead this time. Oh, listen up."
I wanted to like this and I thought the idea was good enough but this absolutely fell apart once you introduced the President plot. Everything came a jumbled mess and you had five or six characters that were complete white rice.
Now, for all the fixes I mentioned, I kept in mind that it was a first draft and tried to make references to story notes that needed fixes the most. I tried to go after dialogue less because it's probably something you'll want to work on last and that it's the thing that needs the most work. In my opinion, at least 90% of the lines need to be re-written, preferably with less exposition.
Assume that notes I didn't give are things I either liked or didn't feel was worth mentioning (small changes). The script has big problems and needs a lot of work, but you've got the groundwork laid out and I think that with time and effort, you could turn this into a serviceable screenplay. Best of luck, Steven.
Scene headings should be double spaced, found them merging. P1. when young Tommy looks out the window at the cops, needs a POV as we are now looking in on a new scene. P3. “Typical 12 year old clothes” line is too specific but without giving us any information. If you're going to dress your characters, actually describe their clothes but be aware some readers hate it. P4. spelling mistake “at he same time” P5. Maybe the flashback and scenes showing Barry shooting himself need to be more graphic so we know without a doubt he is dead. P5. Where Barry bursts through the door out of the drugstore, we were already outside the drugstore in the scene before the flashback so needs clarifying that he went inside. I think you were trying to say that he went through the in door and then chased after -Barry through the out door. By page 7 I'm sensing that Tom is severely messed up – a bit too much perhaps, the way he speaks with his wife after thinking he saw Barry is a little OTT. Dial it down this early on to give him somewhere to go later when he really gets in trouble! Just as a side note, Tommy is fairly old for a protag, he had Mike when he was 35, fairly late. It's ageist I know (I am 40 and have a 12 year old funnily enough). Most of the characters so far seem quite old. P11. Scene at concession stand is not continuous, we didn't see them go there. P13 if dialogue is broken by an action line, there should be a (CONT) after the character name to signify they're still talking (though I did read somewhere that this might be a less popular technique nowadays, I'm not sure it is). P16. Seeing Benny perhaps should be another POV minislug. P17. Tom creeps up slowly. The house Renner went behind has boarded up windows. A sheriff's sale notice in the window. We've reached a new location here so a new scene heading is required. I'm finding the use of “. . .” a little distracting, especailly in the middle of dialogue. Why are they double spaced? P20. A little problem here that I'm not sure what to suggest. Renner is still called Renner in the script but has just said he isn't Renner and named himself Bob. Does this give something away? I'll know later... P25. INT. CITY LIBRARY - BASEMENT – CONTINUOUS A misuse of continuous , we didn't follow the characters here. This happens a few more times in the script and need switching out. You're doing something I sometimes slip up on – the way people speak in the real world. Some of the dialogue is clunky but easily tweaked by reading it out loud. “cannot” – should be “can't”, “There is” should be “there's” etc. Some characters do speak without contractions (Data) but save it for a stand out character or oddball lol. I think the act1 to act2 transition is Tom now actively seeking the truth about “Bob/Renner” I want to read on and find out what happens so that's good... P29 typo - Why would you need to to know that? P30 typo “I saw that Mr. Renner kill himself” p31. Okay, at this point I'm wondering why no one has suggested that maybe Renner had a twin? P31. Typo “I think we've established he'd dead” P32. Drop the “then” from the action, “he then stalks off” reads better as “he stalks off” etc. p33. Oh dear, be careful when character's go into a monologue when they're alone. The fewer words he says to himself the better (if he has totally gone nuts at this point, throw in some fidgety eyes and strange movements to compound the fact) Am enjoying Miranda's growing hatred of Tom, she's a right bitch lol! Tom is certainly alone here! “What in Hell would you want with an old newspaper from the library?” I think she knows why at this point. P37. Is the VO trimmed as much as possible without losing the information? Big chunks of dialogue like that, especially in VO are a nightmare to get past. P38. Okay now Renner has switched to Ben. The nightmare sequence has to be restructured, a very jaunted read. P43. After poor Tom's spiral and being out there alone it's good to get someone who could help him out. P53. You call David “Dave” best to keep things constant. P55. Is David meant to have forgotten the president’s visit? To illustrate that he embarrasses his father? Surely the FBI would be on full alert and taking all leads seriously. P57. There have been a few comic touches in the script, David falling out of bed, the newspaper thing earlier etc. Tom has had a few prat falls. So far I'm getting 'thriller' and not sure these moments help with your atmosphere. P59. Not sure David would tell John about the dream. P59. Hmmm, I doubt that David would hand the investigation to Tom here. P60. Need a SERIES OF SHOTS here. P61. Bob Arnold? Bob Jacobs was introduced earlier as Renner's alias so that stopped me dead and I had to go back to re-read. You need more memorable names at least. so far we have Tom, Bob, John, David, Paul, etc. Memorable names go a little way to making memorable characters but a good name at least provides a solid start to build on. P64. Needless exposition! P70. Why would Renner risk attacking John when he has no evidence and so far has let Tom and David get away with all sorts? Seems a strange choice of target especailly when Renner already knows Tom is on to him. P80. Bad news I'm afraid, you lost me here and I started skipping here and there. Act3 needs some serious tightening up. P84. GOOD! That's raising the stakes! P94. Just a little thing - The elderly man's lines break up the tension. P94. The “Damn Silencer” line is odd. I can see why you wrote it, but put it in the action line, “A spray of blood as a silenced bullet hits Tom's arm” don't have a character tell us it's silenced, not when he's just been shot! P95-P96 the timer has lost two minutes in about a page with no scene breaks. Put in a scene break to suggest passing time or change the read out. P96. Where does he throw the bomb? That is one hell of a mighty throw if there was no casualties!!! If it had such a small blast radius, it must have been very close to the president and wasn't hidden well enough to be missed by Secret Service.
Overall, It kept me reading until about page 50. But started to fall apart about mipoint with lots of unbelievable stuff happening. Needs a severe re-write for the second half but you have some good foundations down (the family breaking apart and Tom's decent into madness – THESE should be your angles, not the FBI. David and John were non-entities and not needed). It started out quite intriguing and I wanted to read on to find out what happens to Tom and who Renner was but felt let down that it was a simple kill the president plot. It reminded me in the early pages of that Tim Robbins movie Arlington Road but then lost its way about midpoint and the ending was a let down. One major thing that bothers me is I have to agree with what David said – why now, after all these years does he re-surface. Maybe have some acts of terrorism in the newspaper articles suggesting that Renner has been very active and responsible for lots of bombings over the past 4 decades?
Well done on finishing, I think you were rushed for time by the end but worth rewriting when you have time to let it breathe.
Finally finished it. Looks like Act 3 starts right around the time John gets hit on the head. Right on cue at about page 67-70.
pg 73 - As Bob walks away, Tom keeps at him BOB ARNOLD Please Mr. Arnold, tell the others just to stay away from this. We see what he can do.
I think you meant Tom on this exchange.
The parts with John and his friends felt expositionary.
No mention of Tom's family until the end. Maybe a phone call to Miranda at least?
The part when Tom gets drunk feels like comedy relief. I'm not sure if this is intended. It only stuck out for me because there wasn't much comedy relief prior to the drunk scene.
Also, I'm not sure about FBI procedures, but I found it somewhat hard to believe that a pro FBI agent would just take Tom into a stakeout like that. I know Tom's a witness, but taking a civilian close to harm's way might not be FBI procedure.
How big is the tent? Just asking because Mike throws the bomb out of the tent. I know he plays football but I questioned his ability to throw that over the tent when I first read it.
By the end, I still didn't get how Renner survived the gunshot from the suicide. Of course, this was from Tom's memory so it might not be based on reality.
The story felt like a story of first halves. First half had intrigue and good drama built into it. Then you strayed away from the drama on the second half and focused on the mystery aspects with the underground terrorist organization. Would have been nice to add more drama or spice it up with the drama here and there on the second half.
For an early draft, it's still a clean fast read. Nice intrigue on the 1st half, but the emotional tension from the first half didn't carry into the second. I think this is where you can strengthen the story.
I started with your script today. I thought I would have time to finish it, but the phones kept ringing and interrupting me constantly. Hopefully, I will be able to finish tomorrow.
I've read the 1st 20 pages and so far I like it for the most part. You have me intrigued enough to want to continue. Which is very good of course. I find the story interesting and I want to know more about Mr. Renner.
The characters are in my opinion a little bland so far. Maybe that will change.
Your writing is okay, but IMHO could definitely be tightened up.
The following are page by page comments I made while reading your script.
Page 3. On the introduction of Mike, I would skip the 2 words " just then". It is obvious it is happening just then.
Also, your description of him doesn't really say a lot. Neither does the descriptions of your other characters. I suppose descriptions are not really necessary since a director or producer or a custom person will decide what they are eventually going to look like. However, without any descriptions at all, we are left without any idea whatsoever of the characters' personality. They are left blank in our minds until we get much further into the story and we start to see some character development. I am not good myself at writing character descriptions, but I always try to offer up something at the minimum to help the reader to form a picture of each character.
Page 4. How are we supposed to know that Barry Renner (61) is the same person as the one who shot himself in 1971? A viewing audience is not privy to his name. Not as a 20-year-old or as the 61-year-old. It's easy for me who is reading to tell they have the same name but for someone who doesn't know… Perhaps if you gave him a certain visual characteristic. Like maybe one of his arms or hands have been amputated or something like that. Something permanent so we can connect them.
Page 5. You use the description of Tom as a wild man twice in a row. Feels repetitive.
I am not sure what software you are using, but I would suggest adding another line before the slug lines. Making the new scenes stick out a little more for easier identification, you might even want to consider making slug lines in bold.
Page 6. Just a thought. Would a 12-year-old cuss at home like that? I suppose they do in some families, I just couldn't picture this family to be one of those.
Miranda takes a couple of deep breaths and counts to 10. That's a long time on screen to watch someone not doing anything. I would skip the count to 10 part. Just say she takes a couple of deep breaths to calm down or such.
We often read in scripts about people sobbing and tears rolling down my cheeks, but how often in film do you actually see a grown man crying? That action seems a little bit too much to me right here.
Page 7. Tom says Mir a lot. Almost every time he addresses her. I don't know about you, but I don't mention peoples name every time I talk to them.
Page 8. Miranda is looking for an escape route. Is she afraid of him? That seems a little weird. I mean, it's not like they are strangers. They are married. I know he is acting wacko, but still…
A lot of repetitiveness in dialogue especially using names.
Page 10. Tom hops off the bed. Mike hops out. Greg hops up. Try to not be so repetitive with certain words and names in your action paragraphs as well as the dialogues.
You gave Beth a hyphenated last name. I'm wondering if this is important, if so, how would an audience know this?
Page 11. I'm curious as to why Greg and Beth are anxious and nervous. I hope we find out soon, otherwise that makes no sense. LOL! That is answered on the next page.
Page 12. Very good going back and forth between the scenes with the men and women.
Just a suggestion, but for better affect, you could have other people around them staring at them or something. At the least the men.
Page 13. I would skip the … In Greg's dialogue. It adds an extra line with just a dot on it. Also, there should be no space between each dot.
Page 14. Greg reminds Tom to mind his language. This is what I meant with Mike cursing at home. These people are clearly not the type that cusses so it seems weird to me that he would do so at home when he is only 12.
Are you sure that panic is the right emotion here for Miranda?
Page 15. You are often telling us what the characters feel or think. Try to show us instead. The director of one of my features told me that was one reason he likes my scripts. Apparently I show rather than tell.
Page 18. Definition of creeps…
to move slowly with the body close to the ground, as a reptile or an insect, or a person on hands and knees.
to approach slowly, imperceptibly, or stealthily
to move or advance slowly or gradually
to sneak up behind someone or without someone's knowledge
No reason to write that he creeps slowly since that is what creeps means. I only mentioned it as an example of overwriting and not using the best action verbs possible.
Typo in Renner's dialogue. Who are are you?
Page 19. What has overtones?
I admit that I am a cold hard Swede, but I don't like to see Tom near tears here again. He has just been told that Renner is not Renner, but Bob Jacobs. Doesn't he realize that maybe they just look similar, but he has made a mistake? He should be relieved, not start crying again. IMHO, this is not the type of "hero" we want to see on film. Maybe I'm wrong and others would love to, but…
Let me start by saying that I'm a really picky guy when it comes to movies/feature scripts. I note down anything that I feel is important so just keep up with me. I'd also like to say that I'm totally new to this and others might disagree with my opinion.
Now, for the review! The idea you present in your logline is amazing, I love it, but the problem is your script doesn't deliver. Everything you mention in the logline does happen, but that's not the focus of the story. It was in the first half, but not later on. Like somebody mentioned above, it turned into some "Save the President!" type story.
You say the genre is thriller, but I didn't get many thrills after he starts taking the photos. That's a big problem with the script, as it's not a thriller.
As I said above, the logline, I really dig it, as the idea is great. Perfect, even. IMO, scrap everything with the FBI, John Kemp, President, terrorist. It's not needed, it really dumbs the quality of the script down for me. I was really disappointed that it wasn't some mind-blowing psychological thriller, but some Stop the Bad Guys story. Focus more on Tom's insanity, make a great twist at the end, as that's the only way your story will work IMO.
Now, I see this as the biggest problem in the script. Your dialogue, it was just so unnatural, it's as if the characters were made to say it. It felt forced, and that's one of the things which really took me out of the story. You mention their names every second bit of dialogue, and it dumbs the script down. You also state the obvious too many times, it just didn't work for me (excluding John Kemp).
The gradual build up of Tom's insanity could've flowed better IMO. At times, it would feel like he's angry and tries to defend himself when somebody tells him he's a nut, while other times he just shakes it off and tries to bullshit his way out of the convo. IMO, stick to one, and see how it goes.
I felt that the beginning needed to be a little bit longer, just so we get a better feel of Tom. You were doing great, but I think he sees Renner too early in the script. Show us a little bit more about his life, maybe some of his mates, him watching his favourite football team, anything!
The nightmares that Tom kept having in the script were really well done, I really enjoyed that, and if you do dump all the FBI and President crap, and focus on John's insanity, the dreams could work really well.
And then there's Mike, who needs to be polished a little more. For a 12 year old, he certainly is smart. Make him older, 14 would be nice. Also, you need to show a little more of the hatred building up at his father. At times, it would be that he doesn't mind that all this is happening, while at other times he'd seem really angry at his father.
Now, Mir, Tom's Wife. Hate to say this, but she came off as a total bitch, like wow. I'm not sure if you intended this, but she drove me up the wall. It's not a bad thing, but you could try and show more of her relationship with Tom before it turns to dog shit.
I can't say I hated Tom, he seemed like a nice guy, but the focus of the story sometimes shifts away from him, and it shouldn't, because he's the main character.
And with these Dream Sequences, it all just fell apart because of your setup. It felt like you just needed an excuse for Tom to do what he does at the end, which is foil the plan to blow up the president. And I don't like that, because Renner could've been anyone, it didn't matter if he was the dude who committed suicide, he could've been some Janitor who worked at Tom's workplace. That's also another reason why I think you should ditch that President and FBI stuff.
Steven, if I came off as a dick, I apologize. That was not my intent in any way. The feature was completed in 7 weeks and I know without a time limit, you could've written an awesome script. I didn't hate the script, I just thought it strayed away from the original idea, when it shouldn't, as the idea was awesome.
Congratulations on finishing a feature.
Here are the notes I took.
Page 1: Missing comma in first sentence.
Had to read the second sentence a few times to understand it, but might just be me.
"distant car tires can be heard screech to a halt" Do you mean screeching to a halt?
Hmm, I would've liked it if you dragged the convo between the officers and Renner a little longer, but it's not bad the way it is now.
Page 2: No description of the characters?
Page 2/3: So, what was it again? A dream??? Cut some of that out.
Typical twelve year old clothes? C'mon! You can do better than that.
Strange, you give Clarence a proper description but you leave out the main characters?
Page 5: Wild man twice on the same page? Try and change it up a bit.
Page 6: She ignores him while he cries? Hmm...
General Note: Cut down on the names in dialogue, just gotta remember that they know each other so it doesn't really fit if they keep mentioning each other's names.
Page 7/8: The dialogue here isn't working very well, IMO. Miranda keeps shifting her focus, sometimes she's scared, while other times she treats it like nothing happened.
General Note: A lot of instances where you could've taken "and" out. I only recently learned this but it makes the read faster and tighter.
"He doesn't look manic now." Change that.
Again, how does he suddenly go from being a maniac to "I understand, you're right." The dialogue is really on the nose, you're trying to tell us his thoughts, and it's not working for me. Why the sudden change? Also, take all those names away!
"He just looked so... Those eyes..."
Page 9: The dialogue, Steven! Why would he just wake up and tell her he didn't have the nightmare? It's just not believable, especially the way he says it. Have him say it later on, the next time he confronts his wife.
Page 10: Could use more descriptions for the Hawthorns.
Page 12/13: I think an intercut could be used here? Not sure.
Page 15: I think it would work better if Tom isn't cheering, so he's the odd one out.
Like how he sees him, great mystery there.
Page 18: Cut the second "My name is not Renner."
Page 20: The dialogue from that bit on, between Miranda and Tom, that's how it should be done. It sounded real, but everything they said to each other before that was very unbelievable.
Page 24: "normal breakfast preparations" Normal? Like cereal? Or toast? Be more specific.
I think Continuious is only used when the scene shifts to another that occurs at the same time. Not sure? Should check up on that.
Page 25: "can not remove" Cannot is one word, but IMO it would work better as can't.
Page 26: Fist pumps? It can't be that good!
Page 29: You used an unfilmable instead of a description.
Tom and Thompson?
Page 34: He yells at himself? He must be crazy!
Page 37: This newspaper is from 40 years ago? If so, I'm not sure that there were many terrorists then? But, who gives a s***!
Page 41: An FBI agent comes to him cause he gave them a little call? How would they know it wasn't a prank? Can you even call the FBI??? I'm not really sure about this, as I'm not American, but it just doesn't seem right.
Page 44: He walks in the street and somehow runs into Renner again? That really doesn't work for me. It might seem like the only way to do this, but there has got to be another way.
Page 47: You should make Mike a little older, his dialogue doesn't seem like it's froma 12 year old.
Mike starts crying! The line before that was delivered well, but if he cries right after, it doesn't match IMO.
Page 51: An FBI agent looking at the pictures? Fire him immediately!
Page 52: Keep mum?
Page 55: John Kemp, great character.
Page 67: Think you needed a POV here.
Page 72: "Dave, what the Hell happened? Do you know? The cops won't tell me what happened. " Change that.
Okay, picking up from where I ended yesterday. I only had time to make it to page 51 today. The plot thickens LOL!
As I mention later here, I do enjoy the plotting so far. I think you have done a good job on an early draft. As you get more and more comments on your script you will see what works and what doesn't. I think you'll get a good idea of what changes need to be made. I will continue tomorrow again.
Page 21. Miranda comes off a little bit like a bitch by breaking his sunglasses. They are not college students on a date that has gone bad. They are a married couple with a kid. With her acting like that, I instantly took a dislike to her.
Page 22. I'm having a little bit of trouble with Tom's dialogue. Lots of pauses and repetitiveness. I use… to show a pause or hesitation in dialogue too sometimes, however, no actor will read your dialogue exactly as written. Actors will get into character and act the way they feel suits the character best. They will decide how their character will talk.
Tom comes across as very weak here. He does not stand up to Miranda at all.
Page 23. Miranda has had enough. I think you can scratch that line.
Page 24. Tom jumps as his cell phone vibrates in his pocket. Perhaps jump is a bit strong there I would think.
Page 25. The librarian says Sir 3 times. Lots of repetitiveness again. Easy to fix though.
Do they keep old newspapers or do they keep them on microfiche? Also, would the library let things get dusty like that? Just lunatics I know, but I just thought I would mention it
Page 26. Miranda grinds her teeth. That struck me as funny. Did you intend for the audience to hear her grind her teeth? I'm sure you did not intend for it to be funny. Perhaps you could find another way to describe her reaction.
Page 26. A plate of cold food sits in front of Tom's chair. Why not write that an untouched plate of food sits there since the audience cannot see the temperature of the food. When you describe things, try to think how an audience sees it.
Page 27. Again, you have Tom shaking like a leaf. That is not how we like to see our hero act. I feel strongly about this. In my humble opinion, I think it is crucial in your rewrite to give Tom a spine. Right now he does not have one and that does not make for a good hero/protagonist.
Page 28. I am slowly growing a hatred towards Miranda. She acts like a major bitch. She sent him to sleep on the couch like punishment as if he was a dog that has done something bad. Not to mention that she throws his glass at his head. Very unpleasant person indeed.
I do like the moments where Tom takes action. I liked how he went to the library to do some research and I like how he went to the police chief. That works. We want to see our hero take action. Not just be pushed around by a bitchy wife.
Page 31. Tom seems to go from a spineless coward too crazy and back a lot. Again, I think Tom's reaction here with the police chief is a little too much. In my humble opinion, his eyes should not be that of a crazy person at this moment. It might work better if Tom comes across more as a paranoid person rather than crazy.
Small typo. He'd dead.
As I mentioned yesterday in my 1st comments, I think there needs to be something much stronger visually to link the 1971 Mr. Renner and the present-day Mr. Renner. Just having, insisting that the 2 have the same eyes is not enough. It is not enough to convince an audience or me and should not be enough for Tom either.
Page 32. I just had a thought. On this page you say that Tom shoots to standing position. I think one reason this script does not come across the way you probably intended it to is your choice of action verbs. It is super important to choose the right one. A lot of your choices makes the character's actions overreacted almost comical. It sends the wrong images to the reader. I am nobody and you should take everything I say with a grain of salt, but my suggestion would be to go over the whole script and carefully choose the right action verb. I think that would greatly improve the overall impression of this script.
Page 33. Tom seems there. Sits where? I thought this was outside in the parking lot.
No need for him to talk to himself. Instead, show us the newspaper. Let him run his finger over the important parts that you want an audience to see. Remember, show don't tell.
Question. The people at Julie called obituaries obit? I have never heard anyone call it that. If some people call it that, it still seems weird to use that abbreviation in your action paragraph.
He does a lot of talking to himself here. If you can, try to show us as much as possible rather than have him tell us.
Page 34. Tom practically rips the newspaper. Does that mean literally? He actually tears the newspaper apart?
Page 36. In my opinion, it would work better if Miranda was a little bit more compassionate instead of this bitch. I mean, if she loves her husband, would she not want to help him instead of hurting him. She should be concerned. Perhaps she could go to a psychologist and talk about him or something instead of just yelling and throwing things at him all the time.
Again, due to the character's actions, here Tom is groping down his pants, this comes off more comical than you probably intended. This is supposed to be a thriller and it is important to keep the consistent tone and vibe throughout.
I am currently on page 37 and I just wanted to let you know that I do like your plotting. I like the premise of this script. I really do. I just wanted to tell you that so you don't think I hate it. Because I don't. It just needs a rewrite.
Page 39. Here you describe Tom as being cowed and timid. Again, not something we'd like to see in our heroes.
Page 41. LATER should not be used when we move to an entirely different scene. Later should only be used when what we see on screen is the same place, just later. This slug line INT. CITY DRUGSTORE should have a proper DAY or NIGHT.
Rather strange scene there with Tom and agent David Kemp…
It seems a little sloppy for you to introduce the FBI agent as David and also use David for his dialogue, but start to call him Dave in your action paragraphs.
Page 42. Slight overreaction again I think with Tom acting hysterical.
Not sure where this story takes place, but if this FBI agent came all the way from Akron Ohio, he's sure got there fast.
Page 44. Seems rather convenient that not only is the police building near Tom's office, but apparently there is also a hardware store where Mr. Renner just happens to come out of.
Page 45. Not very smart of Mr. Renner in my opinion to buy all the supplies for pipe bombs in one place and even dumber to leave the items in the load bed of a pickup truck for anyone to see or steal while he goes into the store. And it gets even dumber when he goes to a redneck bar and not only leaves the pipe bomb material, but also that gun shop materials in the open in the back of his pickup…
Tom's conversation with Mike is a weird to me. It's only been what, 3 days, 4 days? I don't think it's time for a kid to say to his dad you never around anymore. Seems a little early for that I think. I can see if it was weeks or months, but just a few days?
Ditto that for Miranda hating him already. If she hates him already after a few days, their relationship must have been pretty rocky already.
Page 49. Again, LATER is not the right word for this slug line since the scene is entirely different from the previous one.
Woof. Quite a potpourri of thoughts and ideas but with one common thread -- this script sucks. Not the beginning, but the second half loses everyone, it seems. I am already working on a rewrite, based on technical and subjective suggestions here in this thread.
I have strengthened the dialog in the first act, delineated the dream sequences with BEGIN DREAM SEQUENCE and END DREAM SEQUENCE, changed the scene where Tom sees the older Renner to better portay Tom's position as in or out of the drug store and changed the flashback to a montage of shots so as to better show the fact that it's the eyes of Renner that reveal him to Tom (Although I considered giving Renner a hook for a hand in deference to Pia's suggestion)
I have removed what Pia saw as the weakness in our hero, and instead, he b***h-slaps Miranda, straps on a couple of Uzis and grabs an over-under shotgun, goes to the abandoned house and blows away the SOB! Just kidding, but I have removed the sobbing and changed it to just a mentally agitated state.
Also, since Miranda seems to have rubbed people in a way that I never actually anticipated, I am going to drastically alter her character as well.
I have decided that the President plot and the FBI are going to go. I haven't totally sketched it out yet, but I believe I will go with more of a pyshological battle of wits between Tom and Renner. Renner was a part of the Weather Underground, which was a domestic terrorist group of sorts, who wanted the US government to stop its Imperialistic policies. While I agree with the basic tenets of the Weather Underground, I do not agree with using terrorist tactics to achieve it. However, we will find that Tom traces Renner's actions in the past based on newspaper accounts of attacks and whatnot, and winds up going head to head with Renner as he tries to outsmart and stop him in future attacks. Which, of course, will open up Miranda and Mike to danger -- as all superheroes have to worry about if anyone finds out their secret identity.
I have also fixed my ellipses, and will be removing the majority of them before it's done.
Two people do NOT use each other's names as often as I portrayed. To be honest, I believe I know why this happened: I wrote each line as though it was a standalone statement, NOT part of an interaction. Does that make sense? Oddly enough, it does to me.
As to my usage of some words. I used these words correctly.
From Merriam Webster online -
sidle - to go or move with one side foremost especially in a furtive advance Example: He sidled up to me and slipped me a note
Assent - to agree to something especially after thoughtful consideration Ascent - the act of rising or mounting upward
I really appreciate all of the careful reading and awesome input on this. I already think the technical advice and story ideas you've inspired will make this a much better script. Hopefully even better than serviceable!
I appreciate any further input anyone has, and I am by no means done reading other scripts as well. Work has been a BEAST this week!
P.S. - Pia, the layout of this small Ohio town is based on the town I grew up in. The Police station shares the same building as the City Hall, the library sits two doors down right behind it (visible from the back parking lot), and Houglan's Hardware was right across the street. Welcome to small town America, population 18,000 when I moved out. 35, 000 now that the yuppies have descended!
I wish you had described the town early on as small town. After I read your comments that it was based on a very small town where you grew up, I could not help but think over Mayberry as I continued to read. This is script had a sort of goofy feel to it. Almost like Tom was Barney Fife. I don't mean that in a bad way.
I also read your comments where you said this script sucked. You should not feel bad, all 1st drafts suck. That is why there are rewrites left to do. To take the comments you receive an turn this into something great. As I have mentioned now several times. The story and the premise are good. Look at your story and the premise of it as a tree in winter without leaves. Some of the leaves that you put on your tree just didn't work. But that is all. You can definitely fix this one up and make it really good.
I had a lot of issues with things as I read and I had mentioned them to you. My biggest ones were the unbelievable stuff with the FBI. I like the whole conspiracy theory, I really did, but what these people did or didn't do is what made it unbelievable. The other big issue I had was with Tom himself. I did not feel he was our hero at all. Like I said more like an over the top character like Barney Fife.
I am also not sure that this was really a thriller. And as I mentioned in my comments too, some of the descriptions were over the top and made it feel comedic rather than thriller like.
Anyway, I think you should be very proud of yourself for having finished a 1st draft. You will see in everybody's comments where it is you need to fix things. Especially those that I mentioned several times with different readers.
So, here are the last of my comments and I hope that you can find them helpful in some way.
Page 54. John says, but I always believe the police were in on the fake. Now I'm not so sure. Wouldn't he be more sure now after what Tom told him?
Page 56. Okay, so is Mr. Renner going to use a pipe bomb when the president comes for a visit? Pipe bombs mostly do damage right near where the bomb it's so Mr. Renner must be planning on getting very close to the president and I am wondering how he is planning on doing that since the Secret Service checks everything thoroughly days in advance.
Another issue I'm having here is that David is an FBI agent. I highly doubt that they start chumming up with people they just met and include them to work with them especially on a big thing like this.
It would be good if you at this point added a " timeclock”. You could do that by setting a time in the newspaper article that mentions when the president is coming. And then have one of them say, for example, holy shit that's only one day away. Or something to that effect. That would help to put a little bit of nail biting to this thriller.
Page 57. David is rather clumsy for a professionally trained FBI agent…
Page 58. Tom starts to shake and has tears in his eyes. Why? Out of fear? Then David tells him it's okay. Were going to nail this asshole. Don't you worry… He sounds like he's Tom's mother and Tom is a scared little kid. Again, in my humble opinion, this does not work for our hero.
Page 59. Ah, I see you added a time clock.
Page 62. This is getting a little too unrealistic for my taste I think. An attempt on the president's life is probably considered a little bit more important than letting someone like Tom work on it with the FBI. I would imagine the FBI would absolutely get with the Secret Service and find out absolutely everything they could about Mr. Renner. what he is up to. What he has been up to lately. His past. In short, everything. I cannot imagine it only beginning agent David his 78-year-old retired dad and their complete stranger, Tom.
David says that the FBI has been contacted today and that they should keep their eyes open for anything odd. Well, they have something odd. They have a guy buying pipe bomb materials…
This is supposed to be a thriller. I have to be honest, but watching four old men in their 70s sit around and talk and drink coffee and doughnuts does not make much of a thriller.
Page 64. Small typo. So far, it beats sitting in your car…
Page 65. John says, you mean the office admit they were wrong all these years?… I would hope so. It is about the president's safety after all.
Also, why would they give an old retired FBI agent the president's itinerary? I don't see how he in any way would be entitled to that.
Page 66. Any number in dialogue should be spelled out. One hundred percent. Otherwise it throws off that 1 min. per page thing. Which is also why we use Courier font.
Again, LATER is misused here.
Page 67. Ditto that with the CONTINUOUS on this page. It is a different scene in a different place with different people. Therefore, it is not continuous.
Page 68. I could be wrong, but I don't know too many men that shave before they go to bed. When you wake up with a 5 o'clock shadow and have to shave again. Just a thought.
John hums to himself is repeated twice.
What happened here? Last I saw Dave and Tom was at the middle school where everyone was meeting up. Now they are at the abandoned house and so are apparently the bad guys as well.
Page 69. They are assembling pipe bombs in front of an uncovered window at night? I guess these guys are not the brightest crayons in the box.
Yeah, that was rather clumsy old and FBI agent to not turn off the ring tone on his cell phone went on a stakeout.
Page 71. Right now I am wondering what happened to Tom's family. Did you totally forget about them? It seems rather odd that we have not heard from them at all and he doesn't seem to care either.
David doesn't seem too upset that his dad has been beaten to hell.
I am on page 73 now. I had to take a break yesterday, we get real busy at work. So this is what I picked up today and because of your misuse of LATER, I have no idea if this is daytime or nighttime. I don't remember when I left off yesterday if it was day or night. In other words, just the next sample where it works better to simply write DAY or NIGHT at the end of the slug lines. I have no idea why people don't want to do it anymore. It makes it easier for the reader and also from a production standpoint.
Page 73. Wrong character name near the bottom of the page. Bob Arnold should be Tom.
Page 74. Now we move inside John's house. The slug line ends with continuous. So, I still have no idea if this is day or night. It's not the wrong usage of continuous, I'm just pointing out that it still does not tell me the time.
Page 75. He lunges at him. Again, I think that verb is too strong.
Page 76. I guess John wrote the name on the piece of paper? By the way, I am wondering here is David stole that piece of evidence or did that cop let him take it?
You are going to get tired of me repeating this over and over. I can't help it though. I have to. If I don't, I would feel like I cheated. Okay, now we move on to David's apartment inside the kitchen and again, your slug line ends with LATER. I still have no idea if this is day or night. I was thinking it might be night time, but Tom sits at the table with a cup of coffee and a newspaper. Hmmm, that sounds almost like morning to me. Do you see how important it is with proper slug lines? It is also not correct to use LATER here because it is a new place and a new scene.
Page 77. Okay, we go from Dave's kitchen and Dave telling Tom that they are going to sleep now. BUT, the following scene is David and Tom with 2 other FBI agents at the middle school at night!! That is not a very good scene transition. What happened between them going to sleep and the following night? A whole day went by and nothing happened? That does not work. Something has to come between those 2 scenes.
They make their way. Those words appear in 2 consecutive sentences. Try to reword that.
Page 78. Since Vic and Adam are not in the same place as Tom and Dave and their voices are on the walkie-talkie, there should be a mention of that. You can do with several different ways. One way of doing it is adding under their names (on radio).
Page 80. okay, reality check. Mr. Renner has just told an FBI agent that he plans on killing the president. Saying something like that would land you in jail right away. This should be enough for David to call in the big guns. FBI, Secret Service, anybody and everybody. It is now official what Mr. Renner's plans are. No more Dave and Tom playing around. This is too big for them obviously.
I am also curious as how Mr. Renner is planning on killing the president. I think a pipe bomb is probably one of the worst ideas ever. I could be wrong of course and this is a movie after all. I suppose anything can happen.
Page 81. Typo. Huge crown of people…
Page 82. Now they are in David's kitchen drinking coffee. What time is it now? Morning? Night?
Page 83. Tom's phone vibrates in his pocket. Do we actually see it vibrate? Probably would look, funny actually.
Page 84. Mike tells his dad that he's teacher wants to show them where the president is going to speak. I wonder why he wants to do that when they apparently are going to watch him anyway.
I have to say, that the plotting and your structure is actually fine. And this conflict here with Tom's son fits right in at this point in the story. However, it's the unbelievability of what these adults are doing or not doing that brings the script down. Like I said the premise is great and your structure is fine.
Page 85. One problem I am having here is that Tom freaks out over his son going to be at the president's speech. That's very noble of him to worry about his own son, but what about all the other kids that are going to be there? Shouldn't he fear for their lives too?
Tom sinks onto the curb and covers his head in disbelief. The only thing I have to say to that is, call the damn Secret Service!!!!!! Or the real FBI!!!! The police anybody. Somebody more competent than Tom!!!!
Now we are back at David's apartment. Tom sits at the table again now with a bunch of empty beer cans. Last we saw him he was at the library where he talked to his son on the phone. Here at the apartment we are informed that this is LATER!!!!!!!!!!!! not a very good transition again as well. We went from kitchen library back to the kitchen. Not very exciting if you ask me.
We also have another description on this page that makes this more comical them was a thriller should be. Vic and Adam almost plow into Dave. And why on earth are Vic and Adam nervous?
Page 86. Tom picks up his chair and swings it around. These 2 comes off more comical than serious. At least to me. Must also be a big kitchen to be able to do that in a one-bedroom apartment.
Page 87. So Tom got wasted in the middle of the day and he is now going to sleep again. I am not too fond of them spending so much time in a one bedroom apartment. This is a thriller with a lot at stake here they should be out working trying to prevent Mr. Renner from killing the president. Have them force Tom to sober up instead. Put pressure on him. Remind us how we are running out of time. Be clever. Get out there working. Move this story forward.
I don't think we need this many dream sequences from Tom.
Here we are again back at the apartment. Now it's night time. So what happened during this day? All I know is that Tom went to the library where he talked to his son on the phone then he got back to the apartment and get drunk and then he slept and had another nightmare and now it's night. What a waste of a day. What did the other guys do? Basically, in the last 24 hours, all we learned is that his son is going to be at the president's speech………….
Page 88. If I'm not wrong, today is the day the president will come to town and Mr. Renner will try to kill him. And what are our guys doing? They are yet again, sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast!!!
Big applause! LATER is used correctly!
Page 90. How did the chief Thompson get in looking like a Secret Service agent and carrying a briefcase? I would imagine that most of the Secret Service agents that are there would at least kind of know each other. I can't imagine it being that easy to get past Secret Service. If it was, then any killer or terrorist would just have to dress up like a Secret Service agent to get near the president.
Page 93. The president is out on the stage, the band is playing hail to the chief and there's a long line at the concession stand? Why would people be at the concession stand? Did they not come to see the president?
Page 94. So, how exactly did Mr. Renner get past security with a gun and a dark object with a digital timer?
In general i would say we need to empathise more with Tom which is key to keeping us in the script.
Try and finish the rest later.
Radical forecast - feedback
P2 bolts upright in bed. Why do scripts have this, and i dont mean just yours, it s hollywood cliche. Does naybody really bolt upright in the middle of the night? P2 No miranda, is the miranda part needed? P2 dreams - so do we conclude he has more than one type - we shall see p3 right so now its just that dream - why doesnt she beleive him, doesnt sound unreasonable? p3 dad needs a cap p4 41 years between the experiences and tom recongises him? P6 dont think you need a full slug just LOUNGE p6 Tom sits there - there not needed p7 this feels a bit over the top p8 ok the man is bothered by his dreams but rather than develop this fear, mental health issue, you start off with him already on the edge. Just saying. P9 - not sure about his reasoning for a lack of dream P10 dont understand miranda here - she just sleepy? p12 not sure on the use of continuous in genral your spacing of the dots ... is too wide p14 it spossible that Toms reaction is sensible but o me it seems all over the place. afterall the previous scene had him happy that he had no dream. woundlt the normal reaction be to pass it off, had a bad day, feeling better now etc p16 “right to a man etc...” doesnt sound good p20 exchanage with renner or whoever he is p32 important discovery - i always wonder why these private meetings take place in public , visble from a car aprk? p37 as thes eare clealry dreams then i sugegst this is in the slug as Dream sequence or something like that p40 section eight - lost me p41 would not think tom would have tried to look at the budget? we’re beginning to loose sympathy with him p42 so father and son were in FBI - how does Tom know that? did i miss something p43 i wonder why Tom is sure of the connection?
Overall - we need to feel sympathy/empathy with Tom. I feel we dont have that. His actions are hurting people, letting them down etc Its all about him.
P44 renner just happens to get his hardware from across the road? p53 not sure why dvaid would be defalted, wouldnt he be impressed, interested that the hunch he had is proving right and he has a chance on this? P56 stays at kemps house?
The Elevator Most 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
Thought I would give your script a read tonight, hoping to read all the 7WC scripts over time but with a bit of free time decided on yours.
I like the logline, sounds intriguing although I have no idea what your title means or it’s relevance to your story? Hopefully this will become clear once finished. It sounds more like a natural disaster film like “Twister” we’ll see.
These are the notes I took during the read:
P.1 “The room fills with red and blue strobe lights” Very awkward IMO.
“car tires can be heard screech to a halt.” Should be screeching or “car tires SCREECH to a halt” might read better.
“slam and faint” I don’t understand the “faint” in this sentence?
Feel the scene with the policemen and Renner needs a change of slug or P.O.V transition here.
“The policemen have a searchlight” Why would they be carrying a searchlight, it was two cars and that is some big equipment to be carrying around.
“This is your fault!” That’s a bit harsh; they’re just doing their jobs.
P.2 “INT. KERSHAW RESIDENCE - BEDROOM – NIGHT”
Okay a picky comment but I have to question this slug, it’s the same as the previous one which makes me think we’re still in the same room from when he was 6 which seems unlikely. Maybe they are and that Snoopy bedside light is still there as well.
“TOM KERSHAW” Thought he was called Tommy?
“Then she spots Tom.” The “then” is unneeded here.
“You're not getting deep enough asleep.” This reads wrong IMO.
P.3 “dream” needs to be cut down in the dialogue here.
“Just then MIKE KERSHAW” Get rid of “just then” IMO. No need to start a sentence like this and it’s wasted space.
“Typical twelve year old clothes.” Very vague and so far there hasn’t been one description for any of the characters…maybe there coming?
“Give Wagner a call” I’m sure she would call him Dr. Wagner.
“(55),” Don’t think you need a comma after you’ve done the age in parentheses.
“and ordinary” Not a great description IMO, again vague and to be honest, not very descriptive.
P.4 A nasty orphan at the start of this page which could be avoided easily, just get rid of “completely”
“MARTIN” I was slightly caught off guard here, I thought who the hell is Martin, this guy is called Clarence but you’re using his surname…why? You don’t call Tom “Kershaw”
“door at he same time.” Typo, supposed to “the same time”
“It's BARRY RENNER (61),” How would we know its Renner unless he looks almost identical to 40 odd years ago?
“Tom takes about ten steps through the door.” Might need a change of slug to INT here.
P.5 “The man is nowhere to be seen.” You’ve already stated it’s Renner so why “the man”? Why not “Renner is nowhere to be seen”
“slams open” Not sure if this is the right description, I’ve heard of a door slamming shut but open?
“tie half off” Two descriptions about his tie so far, wonder whether this will play an important role down the line or if it’s ever tied correctly.
“wild man” He’s still a wild man, lucky not “wild thing”
P.6 Your slugs feel very cramped at the moment and could do with spacing out. I’m not sure what software you use but you should be able to sort that out in the settings.
“But he looks like sh. . .” This kids 12…but a nice comedic moment.
“counts to ten” Would be a bit boring on screen…count out 10 to yourself now and image that on screen.
“She tries to act nonchalant” Why? Her husband is upset and she’s treating him like you treat a toddler when they don’t that special cookie they want. I’m confused.
P.7 There’s been a lot of repetitiveness in the dialogue over the last few pages, something to look out for.
Cut down on the names in dialogue, nobody speaks like this.
“But he's. . .he's dead” Maybe it’s me but your ellipses look long and spaced out wrong? Maybe it’s your software or something on my end…not sure?
P.8/9 I personally would try to not the dialogue go over two pages, looks messy IMO.
P.9 “Tom hops off the bed and whistles all the way to the bathroom.” I’m afraid this part doesn’t work for me. The night before he was going all Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” Now Tom is James Stewart from a “Wonderful Life” A massive turn around you’d agree.
Maybe his initial reaction doesn’t need to be as extreme and toned down to make this more believable.
P.10 “hops” Have seen this word a few times over the last page, try to mix it up a bit.
P.11 “CONTINUOUS” The slug at the start of this page shouldn’t be continuous.
“at the concession stand” Superfluous, we know this from the slug.
“Tom looks bewildered. Greg looks anxious.” Why? They’re just waiting in line, think it’s a strange passage is all.
There’s an extra space in Miranda’s dialogue on this page. “was all”
P.12 “Miranda's eyes are still on the field.” Hopefully you don’t mean literally, I didn’t know she took them out.
“Is he. . .like. . .Tom.” Pretty sure this is a question.
Not sure about the “continuous” use here.
“looking like a madman.” Or Wildman.
“Ben said you searched up and down the street like a man possessed.”
This Ben has got it pretty spot on of you ask me…I remember something about Tom walking like a “man possessed”
Also, maybe you should change the “mortified” response from both Tom and Miranda. Just a thought.
P.13 “utterly defeated.” “utter defeat” Try not to have the same description repeated like this in quick succession IMO.
Tom’s mood swings are so inconsistent, he’s becoming Jack Nicholson again.
“We just. . .”
Change these ellipses if possible, one has turned into a orphan here in the dialogue. There’s also another one on page 14. Won’t mention it again but something to look for when doing a rewrite.
P.14 GREG Tom. Language.
No! He’s a bloke, not to be sexist but this dialogue should be from one of the women. I just have never heard a guy say this.
“with my being insane!” Should “my” be “me”?
“Miranda's look of panic says she believes he's about to open up about the nightmares, and she doesn't want that.”
Sorry but this is telling in my book and I believe it’s completely unnecessary.
P.17 “Moments later, she sees him come out from behind the cars. He crosses the street and disappears between the same two houses as Renner.”
Firstly I wonder if “moments later” should be a transition. Also again I think that this should either be a change of slug or a P.O.V to break up the action.
“onto the next street.” So is he still on THORNTON ST like the slug states?
“Tom very cautiously moves down the side of the house.”
Is “very” needed here, also “cautiously”
“Cautious, Tom moves down the side of the house” or
“Tom moves down the side of the house, cautious”
Not the best but there is always a way to tighten the action.
P.18 “He creeps as slowly as he can toward the door, mimicking all of the guys he has ever seen in action films.”
This can be reworded for the better.
“Who are are you?” Typo.
RENNER You'd better say something fast man, or I'm really gonna get pissed.
He seems pretty pissed already.
P.20 “It's okay, Tom.” Why suddenly call him Tom, He’s been calling him Mr. Hampton before this and it’s always good to be consistent.
RENNER But, if you know what's good for you, don't let me catch you following me again. Ever.
This dialogue sounded all wrong, he went from fatherly figure to threatening him in a instant.
Right, I’ve stopped at page 20 tonight and will continue as time allows during the week.
The dialogue has struggled for me so far and it hasn’t helped with the continuous use of names. I would also have liked a bit more description of our protag and other central characters. The only one who got one “Martin” has been in literally one scene in the first 20 pages which seems strange.
I’ve give you a overall summary once finished but it’s okay so far, can’t say I’m immersed into the story at the moment but I want to keep reading and that’s always a good thing.
Yours is next on my list I'm a little swamped with other stuff right now, but let me leave a placeholder here and I'll review it in this window. Just don't want people to think that I"m slacking - I'm not!
I'm on page 20 and decided to go with the detailed notes for once. Overall, you have me hooked and I'm really interested to read the rest of it.
Notes: P2 "There's a blinding flash" - I didn't understand why there should be a flash from a shot. p2 "You are not getting deep enough asleep" doesn't sound smooth to me. p2 "typical twelve year old clothes" - thinking this is redundant, and many complain about the word "typical" anywhere. Also if clothes don't matter, no need to let us know. p6 "after she checks the settings on the stove multiple times" - if we don't see her checking every time, you can't write this, I think. Perhaps better be "she checks the settings once again" p8 A lot of "this can't be" talk, I think. Some of it could be cut perhaps. She calls him by his first name quite a bit. p9 Interesting change of heart, very sudden - almost like he's bluffing. p10 "Do you want first shower or me?" - at first I thought he's asking her if she wants him. Then I understood that he wants to take a shower. Perhaps better be reworded. Maybe "do you want to shower first?" p10 I think you could get into this scene late and avoid all the "hey's" p14 I think the scene with Greg and Miranda could be shortened. p17 Tom's explanation about why he needs sunglasses - I'd omit that and just leave "Be back in a minute" or something.
The rest is to follow
Here, the next 20.
Overall, I'm still on my toes to know who this Renner is. I'd suggest you add to it though - right now it's a bit too simple - he's searching for some man whose death affected him in his childhood. I'd want to know what this Renner was to him, was he a good neighbor, a bad neighbor, maybe he wasn't good to his mother (or too good to him) - I don't know, something else to add texture to the story.
p27,28 Miranda seems a bit crazy. Him being late doesn't seem enough of a reason to justify her anger. p28 I like his dream - Renner talking to him adds some substance. p29 typo "one night I was AWAKEN by police..." (maybe) Better avoid retelling - Tom has to retell the whole story to the Chief, better avoid retelling, I think. p32 as I mentioned earlier their conversation is a bit repetitive for me (Thompson and Tom) also - a small point - their names sound alike. p33 - Tom talking to himself is a bit off. p35, 36 - I wish their talk was a bit more engaging. p39 typo "I am coming to work" p40 I like Harlan and Tom together - more of a stake.
I read on:
p42 Tom tells his story to Kemp. I suggest you run through and get away with retelling that story. Sorry I can't point out the way - maybe pretend they already had a talk and start the scene from the middle?
p43 "This guy has resurfaced to do something terrible" - how does Tom know? I think this is an important moment and you really have to build to that. I wish I knew why Tom needs to know about this Renner so badly.
I read up to p70 today - I really liked the way it's going - Renner plots something against the president. I think you could set it up in the first 30 though. I wish some of it came earlier - Tom should suspect something about Renner etc. Maybe there were talks in his house about these Renner's... I like Tom and Dave work together. I like how they suspect Thompson, that they are on stake out etc. I think your script really picked up.
I'm sorry I didn't take too many notes for these pages, decided to just sit back and enjoy the read
Finished the read. I think the script really picked up after about page 60. It plays well for me - I like big plots like this one. The logistics of it didn't strike me as impossible, so the rest works.
I think the most work lies within the first part of the script. The set up should be reworked.
Good luck with it. I'd like to read your first 30 once you're done with the rewrite. Hit me if you need an extra pair of eyes.
P.20 “EXT. CITY PARK - SOCCER FIELD PARKING LOT – CONTINUOUS” This is not continuous I’m afraid.
P.21/22 Tom is stuttering a lot in the dialogue which is not helping the flow of their discussion. I would personally cut down on this for a smoother read.
P.22 “Miranda starts to get in the Escape.” I would make this clearer and say “Ford Escape” like previously.
“Mike sits in the back, oblivious with a pair of headphones on, as this confrontation carries out in the front seat.”
Need a change of slug here to show their in the car.
Tom’s story of what happened with the burglar is pretty lame but maybe it’s supposed to be.
P.23 “Miranda has had enough” Think you can cut this line as she states “she’s had enough” in the dialogue below this line. You’re just repeating information.
“I'm not telling you how it came out” What was Mike doing? I think you should change “came” with “turned”
P.24 “Miranda finishes what she's cooking. Scoops it onto one plate, and sits down to eat.”
I have to wonder what she was cooking? It may be a little nitpicky but it would help visualise the scene as she hasn’t made any for Tom?
“they both finish eating” Now I’m definitely curious to know what she cooked? She finished in like 5 seconds…must have been good.
“From here he can see the city building and the library.” Feel “from here” is unnecessary here and you and start the passage with “He can see…”
“Covertly” Strange, he’s in a parking lot, who cares what he’s doing? Even if it’s for work and he doesn’t want to be seen, won’t they see his car anyway?
“he is alone” Get rid of the nasty “is” “he’s alone”
P.25/26 This scene outside the Kershaw residence, are Mike and Miranda speaking while inside the car? If so, can we see them or should this be (O.S)? I wasn’t sure what I was visualising here, them in the car or an exterior shot of the car driving into the driveway? Maybe this should be clearer.
P.28 I think Tom is well, a kind of pussy at the moment and he needs to be stronger as a protag IMO. Something to think about because it’s hard to like him at the moment…of course that could change.
“called off sick” Think this should be “called in sick” Would read better.
Don’t think you needed to cap some of Miranda’s dialogue. I get she’s pissed.
Miranda is hot headed, reminds me of when I come home late from the pub.
P.30 “second year man to see.” Just a thought on this line of dialogue, I think “rookie” instead of “man” would sound more realistic.
P.31 “he'd dead” Typo here, should be he’s.
P.32 “and he quickly ducks in” I’m guessing this means Tom has jumped in his car which firstly causes slug issues for me but also, does he leave his car open?
“There, behind the police station, is Barry Renner talking to Chief Thompson. Their conversation is heated.”
This sentence needs to be cleaned up but more importantly it raises a plot hole for me. Tom has just told Chief Thompson he works upstairs in accounting, so why meet Renner right there outside the building, seems strange when there is probably hundreds of coffee shops around.
P.33 “Tom sits there” Sits where? In the parking lot or his car? This why I think you need a change of slug to make this clearer.
Tom is talking to himself a lot here in the library which is unusual in itself but I guess he could be going crazy right.
P.34 “Tom practically rips the newspaper” So has he ripped the paper or not?
“stuffs it down his pants.” Why? What’s wrong with his pockets?
“LATER” A lot of your slugs have been either continuous or later which is wrong IMO. You could just stick with “day” or “night” on a lot of these occasions.
P.35 “Mr. Renner” I think Tom needs to stop referring to Renner as “Mr.” It doesn’t come off as realistic.
P.36 “But then, but then Mir” I would look out for instances like this when doing a rewrite, this stuttering/repeating in the dialogue doesn’t help the flow of the script. Just a thought.
“Tom reaches down his pants” Come on, this isn’t the time! Seriously though, I think it would be best if he doesn’t pull the newspaper from his pants here, it’s not keeping in with the tone you have going.
P.37 Massive lines of dialogue although nothing wrong per se are hard to read and don’t look good on the page. I would try to shorten this.
Also have to ask about the federal agent’s statement. Surely no respective agent would give this statement as it basically tips the terrorist off. Do agents give statements themselves or would it be a F.B.I press officer or something like that. I’m not too sure to be honest. Something to think about.
“The 46 year old Tom” Why is Tom a year younger here?
“his usual dream” If this is a dream then you should think about putting a transition in like “Begin Dream Sequence” Just something to help the reader.
P.40 “frustration and” An extra space here.
P.41 “Dave and Tom” Dave or David Kemp…choose one and be consistent IMO just like with Clarence Martin previously.
“Tom pulls the newspaper out of his coat.” He’s not using his pants anymore.
P.42 “Tom squeezes the newspaper” I thought Dave was reading the paper?
“His look says he's sorry he came to talk to this crazy man.” Now that’s a look.
P.43 If Dave has walked around the corner then I think his dialogue should be (O.S)
“The clock shows two-fifteen, but Tom leaves the office.
As Tom passes Harlan's office, Harlan leans out.”
Here I think you need a mini-slug to break this up as we’re still in Tom’s office according to your original slug.
P.44 “Renner exits the hardware store with two bulging bags.” Why is Renner shopping across from Tom’s office after his and Thompson’s chat…it doesn’t make sense as you’d want to keep your distance? Stop Tom’s suspicions.
“Tom jumps in his car and peels out of the parking lot.
After about two blocks”
The slugs have been an issue for me as here we leave the parking lot but don’t change slugs. I won’t mention it again but it’s something to look at when doing a rewrite.
“site” Should be sight
P.45 What is Renner doing, would you really leave items you just bought from a gun shop which we can all assume to be dangerous in the back of your truck? He’s gone drinking in a seedy bar leaving all that material in the back? Doesn’t seem right is all.
P.48 “because of the way you've been blowing us off.” Might want to think about rewording this.
P.49 “PARKING LOT” There is a lot action taking place in parking lots…something to think about.
P.53 “Dave is deflated” Why is Dave deflated, someone is agreeing with him for the first time.
P.55 “bomb materials he bought today” Today? I thought Renner bought them the day previously?
"PRESIDENT TO VISIT AKRON" How would they not know this? It would be massive news and an F.B.I agent would know in advance I would have thought.
P.56 “I've changed the locks” Miranda is coming off as a right bitch, her husband is going through what could be a mental breakdown and she decides to change the locks. How long have they been married I wonder?
I’m not sure about Tom staying at David’s house, wouldn’t he go home and try to smooth things over with Miranda first?
“Forty-seven year” sometimes like this and others like “47” I would try to be consistent with your action.
P.57 “He trips on the rug and falls on his face.” Too comedic for your type of story, it doesn’t fit in with the rest.
P.58 “What some coffee?” Typo, should be “want”
“3” Try to write this like “three” in the dialogue for a smoother read.
“you thought you saw Renner kill himself?” Seems strange for David to say “you thought” after what his dad said before.
“What was it tonight?” Should this be “last” night as it’s the morning unless they’re trying to predict future dreams.
P.59 Don’t feel that Tom would tell John about his dream.
“That's a horrible place to protect him.” You’re probably right but that means I doubt they would ever actually hold it there.
I’ll stop at page 60 today and hopefully finish this over the weekend.
The story’s picking up and it seems that Renner is part of some terrorist group intent on killing the president. I have to ask why they would wait 41 years to do this but this may be become clear further on.
Continuing on from page 60 today, hoping to finish.
P.59 “(VO)” A picky comment but missing period here in the (V.O)
P.60 I have my doubts whether a F.B.I agent would allow his dad and Tom work on this case? It’s the president’s life at stake, just think he would inform his bosses of this new development.
“As time passes:” Should this be a series of shots?
“The KNOCKS becomes louder” “becomes” should be become.
“It's police Chief Thompson.” You don’t need “police” anymore, Chief Thompson will suffice.
P.61 “The Chief” Maybe it’s just me but I wouldn’t call Thompson just “chief” in the action. Doesn’t look right to me.
“in front it” missing “of” here in this passage.
“I fell asleep” But look on the bright side, he didn’t have another nightmare.
“Tom raps on Dave's desk.” “raps” is not a good word here, all I can imagine is Tom going all Vanilla Ice, not the image you want I gather?
P.63 what’s with the doughnuts here? Totally irrelevant and nothing to do with the story.
P.64 “down town” This is one word. Downtown.
“So far it beats sitting your car” Missing “in” between sitting and your.
“I didn't even bring anything to eat.” So all the sandwiches, chips and pretzels are Dave’s? He comes prepared.
P.65 “Talk at ya tomorrow.” Should this be “talk to ya tomorrow”
P.66 “100%” spell this out.
“FROM BEHIND A BUSH IN THE NEXT YARD” I have to say that I’m unsure about this as a slug?
P.67 “In the GREEN of the night vision goggles” I personally think a transition is in order here to address night vision goggles P.O.V.
“A dark figure” Is this the same dark figure that Dave and Tom have just seen? If so, he moves fast.
“We'll give a bit” Think you mean “we’ll give it a bit”
P.68 “John hums to himself” you describe this twice in quick succession which doesn’t look great. Cut one out IMO.
P.69 Why are they making bombs for the world to see? I mean draw a curtain, blind something to hide what’re doing.
I you had a mini-slug telling us we’re inside then maybe you need another to specify we’re outside again. Just a thought.
“Dark figures” More dark figures…thet’re becoming frequent.
P.71 No proof! I think Dave is taking this all a little too well, his dad is in the hospital unconscious and he’s still looking for clues. Time to kick some ass me thinks.
P.72 “Someone bashed him in the head with a pipe or something.” I would get rid of “with a pipe or something” as I think it was actually a pipe if I remember correctly. Also wouldn’t it read better as “someone bashed him over the head”
“Bob almost collapses” Poor Bob, he’s more upset than Dave.
“Dave helps him over to the car” When did Dave leave the car?
P.73 “These guys are really serious” He’s speaking to an F.B.I agent, not a couple of kids…just don’t think this line is inappropriate.
BOB ARNOLD Please Mr. Arnold,
Don’t think this dialogue is supposed to be Bob’s. Also in the same dialogue “We see what he can do.” I think “we” should be “we’ll”
P.74 “watching their house.” You either mean houses or they all live in the same house?
Paul isn’t capped on first intro?
“shows them” Them? Thought it was just Paul?
“from the bathroom to John Kemp's bedroom.” Do you really need “John Kemp’s” I mean we’re in his house, who else’s bedroom is it likely to be.
“Sargent” should be sergeant.
“Dave Kemp” I doubt a F.B.I agent would call himself Dave when showing his credentials. Just a thought.
P.75 “he's going to go an a tirade” typo, should be on instead of an.
P.76 Did Dave just steal evidence from the scene of a crime?
I don’t see how this is damning evidence? So Renner is written on a piece of paper, I’m sure there are a lot people called Renner.
“Wonder if she changed numbers.” He must mean Miranda? To think about it, his family have disappeared for a while and this is the first time he’s mentioned anything about them. I think Tom would be more concerned with his failing marriage.
“Believes” Shouldn’t be capped.
P.77 “On the roof” Superfluous, we know this from the mini-slug and you say “make their way” twice in quick succession. Mix it up a bit.
P.78 Vic and Adam’s dialogue should be (O.S) as they’re not on the roof.
P.80 Okay, the evidence is there as Renner as just confessed he plans to kill the President. Tell me it’s time to warn the secret service and stop the President’s visit.
P.81 “crown of people.” Typo, should be crowd.
P.82 “M'kay.” Huh? Reminds me of South Park.
I have to say that they all seem relaxed for the situation they’re in. Dave’s saying “Great, I’ll make some coffee” and then they’re all sitting around drinking. I mean they was told about a plot to kill the President the night before.
P.84 School and Saturday don’t mix, would a school really take kids out on a weekend, maybe?
P.85 “Tom sits at the table” How did he get into Dave’s apartment? Does he have his own key already? Dave better watch out, we all hear about these “Can I stay at your place for one night, please” three years later…
Why is Dave off screen? They just entered the apartment.
P.88 You have to up the urgency here in the last act IMO. Here they are again, eating breakfast this time.
“Tom works on a big plate of eggs and sausage.” Sounds great but what he should be working on his saving his son and the President.
P.89 “The President comes up out of a tunnel in the stands.” They’ve left this pretty late, the Presidents coming out…if only they hadn’t stopped to have eggs and sausage this morning.
P.90 Again, Adam should be (O.S) here on the radio.
P.94 “dark figure” Finally the dark figure has returned.
“Of all the rude, inconsiderate. I'm glad you're not my son!”
This is one of the most random/strangest lines of dialogue I have ever seen. I have no idea why this old man is here?
“Damn silencer.” He’s been shot and this his response? It’s like he’s not even concerned about being shot, more about the gun Renner is using.
“The dark figure takes off as fast as it can.” Do you need “dark figure” anymore. I think we know it’s Renner.
P.95 “Tom grabs the bomb and tries to pull it apart with no luck.” Tom seems very cool in this situation, it’s a bomb and he’s grabbing and pulling it, isn’t he scared of setting it off.
P.96 “Mike throws himself on the ground. The others follow suit.” Fuck that, run in the other direction, get as far away as possible from that bomb.
“Looks up to see the bomb arcing through the air.” How far did Mike throw it? I’m lost on where I am now.
P.97 “Dave and Adam and Vic” Replace the first “and” with a comma.
P.98 “Joint operation, my ass!” I know but let’s be honest and say it should have been.
P.100 “Now do you believe me?” What a cheesy line to finish on.
I think you had an intriguing idea, a young boy see’s a suicide but is shocked to see that same man walking around 41 years later.
Unfortunately overall this hasn’t quite worked for me for many reasons really.
Let’s start with the writing which was good on the whole, lots of white space and it read fast. My main complaint would be the slugs and the use of “later” and “continuous”.
Another complaint would be a few awkward action verbs which can turn a sentence into humorous territory.
The dialogue has issues but that’s nothing I wouldn’t expect from a first draft done in 7 weeks so something to work on.
Well it started well with the younger Tom seeing the suicide. It then moved very quick, we were introduced to the family and found out a little bit about Tom before he saw Renner again.
This was okay, a nice steady pace but I have concerns with Miranda’s reaction to Tom’s as she sees it “paranoia” This is his wife and she didn’t seem to care about what he was going through.
Anyway, we later found out about the president plot which totally changed the direction and to be honest was never explained. Yeah their a terrorist group but why did Renner fake his death and come out of hiding 41 years later to kill the President? Why not 5, 10 or even 30 years later? 41 must have some relevance but it was never explained.
The characters were pretty dumb throughout I’m sorry to say and this was the biggest issue for me. I don’t want to go into too many details but showing three F.B.I agents and Tom eating breakfast on the morning when they know there is going to be an attempted assassination on the President was one of many IMO.
In fact the whole final act could have done with some urgency from the three F.B.I. Why didn’t they call the Secret Service and warn them.
I also think it was a mistake to have Miranda totally disappear for the second half. She came off as a total bitch and then was never seen again which means she’s unlikeable and to be honest, I didn’t want to see her at the hospital at the end. Get her involved more in the second half, try to get Tom and Miranda rekindle somewhat. It might also be a good idea to give some background on their marriage because to me it came off as tenuous before all this started which would explain her reaction…but we need to know this if so.
For me this needs a lot of work especially the characters and their decisions. Also the dialogue needs work and by this I mostly mean Tom as he kept stuttering and came off too weak as a protag at times. I also think the second half needs a lot more urgency.
Finally and I can’t stress this one enough but for me we need to know more about the antag (Renner) He’s central to your story and I knew nothing about him at all. Yeah he’s part of a terrorist group but why? Why fake his death? Why wait 41 years? These are important elements for me which were never uncovered and need to be to make it stronger
I'm whipped. I've just had the truck out the garage and I've been driving it through the holes in my story. All of which are so true and so obvious upon explanation. I was just so caught up and carried away during my writing that I never really stopped to think about making any of it feasible.
Now, however, I am going back and redoing the whole thing. And I would not do this if I did not feel that this story was not worth being done. It is.
I have already built up more back story for the Antag, spent some time on his stay in the small town, his 'relationship' with the neighborhood children, and the FBI closing in on him, that will give our Protag more reason for recognizing him. Not just a hook for a hand and a peg leg. . .
Plus, we will learn of his movements between his faked suicide and when our Protag sees him. He will not be 'resurfacing', so much as being 'found out' by someone who recognizes him. He will have been a background figure (the brains) behind a number of violent acts between then and now.
Also, the FBI are going to be dropped in lew of a head to head battle between our Antag and Protag. That should add some suspense and action.
Also, our Protag's wife will be a much changed character. Much more a part of things and much more, um, un-bitch-ish. That should make things a little better, eh?
I do not have all the details worked out, but that is a start. Oh yes, I've renamed all of my charcters as well, so as not to be too boring.
I will also think-before-slugging. So everyone will know where we stand in the story at all times.
Thank you all for reading and giving all of your time to these reviews. It will be a much better piece of work for it.