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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  S.O.C. Son of Charlie Moderators: bert
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  Author    S.O.C. Son of Charlie  (currently 1533 views)
Don
Posted: July 24th, 2012, 7:23pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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S.O.C  Son of Charlie by Brianna Owen - Thriller -  A murderous cult kidnaps a young woman to convince her estranged Detective Father to admit to planting evidence against a convicted murderer. 97 pages - pdf, format


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ChazzChristopher
Posted: July 26th, 2012, 4:04am Report to Moderator
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Brianna,

On most other sites, people will read (or at least pretend like they read) your entire screenplay in order to review.  This site is a little different, in that most everyone reads a few pages, posts thoughts.  If they think it's good and/or like it, they read more, then post thoughts - and so on and so on.

I admit that earlier in my time here, I had a problem with that.  But - when in rome....

So, before I even start reading, I have time for 10-15 pages.  If I like it I plan on coming back and reading some more.  

When in Rome...

NOTES:

p.1 - right off the bat I see some formatting problems.  For instance: "August 25, 2011 - printed on screen" should simply be:

INT. APARTMENT BEDROOM - NIGHT

SUPER: August 25, 2011


Your first paragraph of description is 8 lines long and has an orphan (i.e., one word in the last line that stands by itself).  Obviously sometimes you're going to have orphans - there's no way you can not have orphans in a script.  But on the 1st page alone, you have 3.  Readers hate that stuff.  They will point out (rightly) that it adds an extra line to your script and slows down the read.  

Also, you never want to have more than 4 lines of action - and in a thriller, you honestly probably don't ever want more than three.  So, it's easy, just break down your paragraphs into mostly 3 (and every now and then 4) line paragraphs.


Whenever you introduce a character, you should always capitalize their given name.  So, in your first paragraph, it should "...a young blonde WOMAN pushes back..." this tells us, the reader, that we're being introduced to someone new.  Literally every character throughout the script should be capitalized when we first meet them.


Your second scene, you include another (Ill-formatted) SUPER.  

The question I have immediately is "is this time line absolutely important?" and if it is, then perhaps it should be written as DAY 1, DAY 2, DAY 3 - as they would refer to it in a murder investigation.  As is, these are just days that are rapidly approaching ancient.  Even if this script is pure gold and sells next week, it'll be 2014-15 before it's released, making your timeline 4 years old (i.e., ancient) by the time it comes out.  I'd suggest that unless your film is wrapped around real world events that you ditch the dates and go with DAY 1, DAY 2, etc.


Your introduction of ROBIN gives us multiple unfilmables.  How do we know she's calm and confident in her environment?  How do we know she's not when she's not in her environment?  We know that because (hopefully) you SHOW us later.  Don't tell us something you're going to show us later.  And if you're NOT going to show us later, then don't tell us anyway.

p.2 - Same thing with JIMMY's introduction, by the way.


Who is Desmond?  You introduced him as a man (not capitalized, by the way), now he speaks in dialogue as Desmond.  This is confusing for the reader and incorrect formatting.  Introduce him as Desmond instead of MAN.  No reason to keep us in the dark for half a page.

p.3 - okay, dialogue here is not very good.  Think about a real-life conversation - people rarely just say what goes through their head.

You actually start off good!  all the way till "Night of the Loveless Night".  Then it goes downhill.  Look at what you did in those first 3 lines of dialogue:

          ROBIN
Are you done with your coffee?

          DESMOND
No, not yet.

          ROBIN
"Night of the Loveless night"

Good - rapid change of reference.  She moved on quickly.

But then you have this meaningless discussion of French poetry.  It isn't bad in and of itself, but it's static, woody and doesn't feel right.  Feels false.  Here's an alternative approach to the scene:

ROBIN
Are you done with your coffee?

          DESMOND
No, not yet.

          ROBIN
"Night of the Loveless night"

          DESMOND
   (looks down at his book)
Night of the...oh, yes - French poetry.

          ROBIN
Robert Desnos - I've never heard of him.

          DESMOND
Surrealism from the twenties.

Desmond holds out his hand.  Not in a rude, manly way, but in a soft, respectful way that disarms Robin.  She takes his hand, shakes it.

          DESMOND
I'm Desmond by the way.  Your name tag
says Robin.  That still your name?

          ROBIN
Still my name.

          DESMOND
I've been coming by for the past week, stopping in
whenever I see you're here, just trying to get the
courage to talk to you.

          ROBIN
I like poetry.  We could've talked about....
    (bends down to read the book cover)
Robert Desnos.

          DESMOND
   (chuckles)
Some friends of mine are having a party tonight.
They like poetry, too.  Could you come with me?

Robin looks a little weirded out.

          DESMOND
I promise, it's no big deal - I just want to...you know
get to know you a little better.

          ROBIN
Let me think about it.

Robin turns and walks away.


To me, what this does is add texture to their relationship from the start.  It shows that Desmond is seemingly a nice guy.  It brings back the poetry angle later in the conversation.  And it doesn't have both character spurting out everything that comes into their heads.

Now, when I write an alternate dialogue, my point isn't to tell you exactly *what* to write in your dialogue but to suggest *how* your dialogue should be written.

Btw, the conversation with Jimmy that follows is as bad or worse than the scene preceding it.  Take the *how* I showed above and apply to every dialogue scene.


p.4 - more long action paragraphs.  More unfilmables - "The smell of weed fills the spacious rooms"?  What?  How do we as the reader (or the viewer) know that weed is smelling up the rooms?

p.5 - I would suggest that you go through your entire script and ditch every single piece of information that can not be put VISUALLY on screen.  You have unfilmables out the wazoo.  They have to go.  It makes for a longer read and it detracts from your story.

p.9 - why wait till page 9 to introduce MOLLY as MOLLY?  No reason to hide it from us.  Just call her Molly to begin with.

Bottom of the page, last action paragraph: Angie is nagging Hugh...

Again, unfilmable.  SHOW us the nagging!



Okay, made it to page 15.

The killing scene came out of nowhere - that is good.  The drugging scene was somewhat expected - but you know, that's part of the logline (the kidnapping) so it had to happen sometimes - I assumed it was the inciting incident.


So, what to say so far?

In spite of the egregious errors assaulting all the ways that screenplays are supposed to be written, I kind of want to read on, which is a testament to your storytelling.  You've set up a story that I want to see what happens.

however, with that said, there are SO many problems with this script that it has no chance of success as is.

But the good thing is this: grammar and punctuation and formatting can be fixed easily.  Setting up a story that makes you want to continue is either there or its not.  So, you're doing some things right - despite the things you're doing wrong.

I would highly suggest that you take 3 passes through this script, from top to bottom.

1st Pass: Go through and fix the formatting problems (no more than 3-4 lines of action per paragraph, change to SUPER, etc., the things I've pointed out).

2nd Pass: Go through every line of action/description and take out anything that can not be SEEN on screen.  I pointed out several.  There are more in these pages than I even pointed out.

3rd Pass: Go through every line of dialogue and figure out ways to twist lines around, set up things, pay them off, etc.  Just make your dialogue more "real".

Thanks for putting your script up.  Good luck!

Chazz
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