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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  The Conspiracy (was Astralman) Moderators: bert
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  Author    The Conspiracy (was Astralman)  (currently 203 views)
Don
Posted: September 30th, 2018, 11:01am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Conspiracy (was Astralman, was The Seer) by Virginia Gitari - Thriller, Action, Superhero - When the U.S Vice President is found murdered in his apartment, there is clear speculation of what had happened until a college student is arrested for the murder. 107 pages - pdf format

New writer interested in feedback on this work


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_ghostwriter
Posted: October 21st, 2018, 9:15pm Report to Moderator
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@Virginia

I've cleared sometime to finally get back to this one.  Sorry, it took so long.  Let me preface by saying... if screenwriting were classic rock, it would be ‘Stairway to Heaven.’

I understand you write novels.  if not, then please set the record straight.  The idea with a screenplay is less not more as opposed to writing in a prose style.  Look, with writing in prose one can amble along describing every eventuality, the time of day, what you smell, how you feel and what you think.  But in a screenplay you have to boil this down to the minimum and this means using abbreviation from a paragraph to a sentence.  

What a writer would write in a paragraph in a novel could easily be broken-down into a sentence or two, sometimes more depending on other factors.   I'm just focusing on the story.

I can tell you've definitely seen this movie in your head, which in itself is more than a lot of people can manage.   But these glitches in the execution are adding up to keep that vision from getting into anyone else's head.  

I would like a little more clarity upfront - who's the main character (protagonist).  At this point, I just dont know.

Forgive my analogy, but I think... any fireman or arson investigator would immediately know that an accelerant had been used to start the fire.  It always leaves tell-tale traces and also an odor.  I know what're wondering, where are you going with this, Andrea?   So glad you asked.

Okay, the death of VP Hallen Matthews.  The VP of the U.S. has a pretty tight Secret Service detail... so your asking us, OK, me to suspend disbelief.   I'm not going to say it couldn't happen that way, but from where I sit, in this day and age... is highly unlikely.  Now if this story were to have taken place some 50 years ago... I could buy it.

Having said that, I get it, this is movie, and often times writers have to stand reality on its head to make the story more interesting, interesting, but sometimes totally unbelievable.  Lots of movies have flaws, and somehow the film still manages to work.  BUT... if it were me, I would re-write that scene, make it a bit more plausible.  

But here's the kicker... and there's no way around it, this is your script, not mine.

The interaction with the Loyal State Media feels fairly false overall.  I get the fact that they're set up across from where the murder takes place, but still... one would think hotel security would have sealed off the place until the cops could get there.  Now the crime scene is contaminated.   So I can only assume that was your intention.

Okay, I stopped at page 16 for now.  Strangely enough, in spite of quite a few problems, I like the concept, and can definitely see skills hidden in what I've read so far,  but a lot here needs to be cleaned up.  Forgive my errors..

I'll pick up as time allows...

Ghostie


THE TIME GUARDIAN: DARK FRONTIER - scyfy

GHOSTS OF APPALOOSA - western

RISE OF THE AMAZONS - action, fantasy & adventure

HEATWAVE - faith-based erotic thriller

THE SLEEPING TIGER - psychological thriller
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Virginia
Posted: October 29th, 2018, 9:51am Report to Moderator
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Hello, Andrea! Thanks for that!  I didn't notice those two scenes had issues until you mentioned it. Thankyou!  I wish I could get some more notes from you. You do sound like someone with good experience in this field. I am glad you did like the concept, that's the only thing that is making me keep working on this script. People say they like the concept, but the whole thing got a lot of formatting issues, grammatical mistakes and  unnecessary details. I have been working on making it better. I guess it will take some time before I get to understand how to make it right. But I am trying, hard.
If you happen to read more pages, please do let me know what needs to be corrected.
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_ghostwriter
Posted: October 30th, 2018, 12:18am Report to Moderator
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@Virginia,

I've placed my bookmarker on page 34.

I try to make my analysis and feedback strong, so the recipients don't get a sense for what my own personal biases, tastes, pet peeves, etc... are, which makes it easier for them  to take my feedback at face value... whether they agree/disagree with the feedback, I want them to know that it's based on the feedback alone and not what they think of me as a reader.


Quoted Text
but the whole thing got a lot of formatting issues, grammatical mistakes and  unnecessary details.


These are easy fixes.  It would make your life so much easier if you got screenwriting software.  If you don't already.

I will say this, it's hard to square a circle.  You have a lot of moving parts... tons of characters.  It's like you're trying to cram so much in here.  The story feels convoluted, which I believe is making it hard for you to drive home what you intended and it instead it just is muddled.  The good news, I was never lost at sea.

The following is more stream-of-consciouness than well-thought-out... the bank robbery... do you need that scene?  In the forest, the man who tries to attack Ray and Brian.  When the FEDs show up... there's no mention of him.  Its like he wasn't even there.  What happened?  Did he vanish or run off?   Anyway, I'm not really seeking answers to those questions I just asked.  I'm only on pg34, maybe the answers are buried further in the script.

But I like to bring up questions all writers, including myself, need to ask themselves before and after writing something -- are the stakes high enough, are the characters interesting enough, is the story really appealing?  And so forth...

The issues with the script are crystal clear, but so is your passion.  

In summary, I suspect you do write novels.  If I'm correct let me say: making the shift to screenwriting is challenging, but you'll get the hang of it.  Really push yourself, challenge yourself as a writer.  It's like if you were a magician, you went into the audience and pulled a coin out of someone's ear and you looked up and expected a giant applause.  That's easy.  The easier you make it on yourself while writing, the harder the read will be for your audience.  The harder you make it on yourself during the writing process, the easier the read will be for your audience.  If that makes sense.

OK, it's late.  Like I said, I'm on page 34 at the moment.  I write my notes shorthand, so give me a day or two to decipher them, then I'll post them.


THE TIME GUARDIAN: DARK FRONTIER - scyfy

GHOSTS OF APPALOOSA - western

RISE OF THE AMAZONS - action, fantasy & adventure

HEATWAVE - faith-based erotic thriller

THE SLEEPING TIGER - psychological thriller

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
_ghostwriter  -  October 30th, 2018, 5:55am
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_ghostwriter
Posted: November 12th, 2018, 7:35pm Report to Moderator
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I am a writer first and a critic second.

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@Virginia,

Striking a balance and finding that middle ground [between overwriting and super-sparse writing] is the key to great screenwriting.

Page 22, for clarity's sake,"badge" --" budge?" Spellchecker might not catch it.

Page 16, not matches but marches

Page 27,  should be couch not coach...

Page 71, should be weird, not weard...

Page 67, page 93, these action lines respectively, need to be in dialogue....

"Make sure that gets to your other son. Or your pretty wife and your son will die."

"Hands up or I will put you down, your Excellency."  There's more.  I just wished these were the biggest complaints I had.  

Good job making Ray and Brian distinct from each other.  They couldn't be more different.  Like salt & pepper, or peanut butter & jelly, they just go together.  However -

It is difficult to be accepted by the FBI.  They take the cream of the crop and at the moment, Racheal and Martin don't come across this way... we need look no further then some of the choices they're making.

Also -- the reason your characters (more so Martin) sound like idiots is because you haven't done the work yet.  They're not real to you, so they're not real to us. They're serving a bland story function.

Clarifying note: sorry, the term "idiot dialogue" sounds harsher than what it really is (it's not a personal thing).  I probably should have used "on-the-nose" dialogue, which means the same thing, but doesn't sound as insulting.

What it is, is characters telling each other what they already know to pass information to the person who's reading the story.

VIRGINIA
"Okay, Andrea, we'll rob the store just way we planned it last night."

ANDREA
"That's right, Virginia, we'll cut the power and go through the back door --"

VIRGINIA
"-- and then we'll grab the safe, just like we talked about doing it."

ANDREA
"Right, with the winch."


That's exaggerated, but I hope it makes the point.  All writers do this, especially when they're beginning, and some of it can't be helped, sometimes, but it's something to watch out for and eliminate.

However -- since this is an early draft, I wouldn't worry too much about dialog.  During you re-writes, get a really good sense of your plot and the best characters needed for your story.  Because some of them need to go pronto.  Then go back and make your characters distinct and their dialog sound like what they'd really say, not just reciting what you need the reader to know.

One other critique: need to work on introducing your characters. The whole CAPS deal and maybe paint a brief picture of who are they, what they look like. In fact,  I always feel your core 4 characters (which normally centers around Protag, Antag, Love interest, Confidante) should have a strong descriptive opener.  Give the reader a strong impression of the characters you effectively wish them to feel strongest about.  it's a character intro... you can take liberties..

As I recap...

Let's start with the muder of VP Matthews.  OWEN's ID falling on the floor.  I understand the effect you want to acheive, but it's problematic?????????  Why?  You've backed yourself into a corner, it makes your Agents look inept.


Quoted Text
ROBY According to this gory story, it got covered by a bedsheet that was hanging. I think that's how we know if this story is true. We ask the security guards guarding the murder scene to check if there is any identification card under a hanging bedsheet.


So I'll reiterate again, I get it, this is movie, and often times writers have to stand reality on its head to make the story more interesting, interesting, but sometimes totally unbelievable.

No way it would happen like that, okay, 99.9%.  If an FBI evidence response team had conducted a search of the scene, um.. they would have found it.   If not there, then during the examination of the bloody sheet in the FBI crime lab.  Having said all that...

Yeah, it's a momentary hiccup, but it IS a hiccup.  But  if you choose not to make a course correction, then... I mean, they are killing time, waiting for VP Matthews.  Maybe Owens sits on the sofa and it falls between the seat cushions.  Yes, it's a bit of a stretch... but... surely the audience would go along with it.  It's plausible.

Perhaps Owens ID falls out somewhere else.  Maybe -- as he's climbing into a getaway car.  
Of course, you would have to adjust this bit of dialogue....


Quoted Text
ROBY According to this gory story, it got covered by a bedsheet that was hanging. I think that's how we know if this story is true. We ask the security guards guarding the murder scene to check if there is any identification card under a hanging bedsheet.  


Dunno what else to say, except for you to re-evaluate that scene.

The forest; Ray tells a dream to Brian about a boy being murdered.  They dig up the body, the Man(who killed the boy) shows up, tries to kill them.  Suddenly the FEDs show up, but the Man is nowhere in sight.  What happened to him?  I'm already in the third act, and haven't heard another peep out of him.  Readers are going to be looking for the "payoff" at some point.  Why not have the Feds nab The Man too, it would further lend credence to Ray's special powers.

Again, the same principle with the bank robbery.  In the context of driving the plot forward, it would be helpful for you to ask yourself, what is it that you're trying to accomplish with this scene?  Is it really needed?  I'm not quite sure how it fits in the overall scheme of things.

The British Scientist, it's a very interesting wrinkle...I won't offer any particular suggestions yet because I haven't finished the script... but FYI, If the British scientist being his father is not integral part of the story, then drop it.  Why?  Because it's too emotional of an issue to just "dangle" out there.  You've got to think of the "weight" it provides.  Reader's expect this to somehow be important -- and if it goes nowhere, has nothing to do with the story, then it's out of balance.  

Basically *everything* in a script is there to somehow drive the story forward. You don't want any "dead ends" where the reader is left scratching his/HER head and asking themselves, "What was the point of that?"

Then there is this matter -- when a clad of FBI Agents go to arrest Mrs. Matthews.  The place would be surrounded...yet she escapes out the backdoor.  Being that Mrs. Matthews has a plant inside the FBI, why not have him call her before the raid.  Another way to go -- maybe the place has a secret underground bunker, or passage way, or whatever.

Just something to think about.  Honestly, I think this is very ambitious but the whole thing needs an overhaul.  Ok, that's all for now, going forward, keep your narrative concise and make it as captivating as possible.  Give us a few "what the ****?" to hold our attention and pull us further in.  I'd say you're halfway there.  

This is just my humble opinion(JMHO) and that's all it is, opinion...

Ghostie


THE TIME GUARDIAN: DARK FRONTIER - scyfy

GHOSTS OF APPALOOSA - western

RISE OF THE AMAZONS - action, fantasy & adventure

HEATWAVE - faith-based erotic thriller

THE SLEEPING TIGER - psychological thriller

Revision History (1 edits)
_ghostwriter  -  November 13th, 2018, 7:27am
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