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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Western Scripts  ›  The Borderline Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: January 11th, 2009, 2:40pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Borderline by Murray Williams - Western - Retired gunfighter Alamo Brock has turned in his guns for the quiet life of a rancher.  But when his family is brutally murdered, he seeks revenge on his attackers.  Rescued by a mystical, white horse, Alamo teams up with a U.S. Marshal, who also wants justice.  But vengeance and justice are different.  Or are they?  An epic western loaded with action and suspense, The Borderline will have you on the edge of your seat from the first frame, until the final, spine-tingling climax.  120 pages - pdf, format


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DanTheScriptMan
Posted: February 19th, 2010, 3:51pm Report to Moderator
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The best piece of advice I can give you is to do research on how to write a script.  Read professional scripts.  Pick up books.  There's a whole world of knowledge out there waiting for you to tap into.  You could have the best idea in the world but have no one read it because it's not properly structured.  There's certain words you can't use.  "Is" and "Are" are the two main ones.  You don't want to be telling us what's happening...you want to show us.  

The wrong way to do it:   "The Gunslinger is walking through the town, keeping his head low, trying not to be noticed.  The locals are eyeing him as he goes."  

You can change that to:  "The Gunslinger enters the town with his head kept low.  The locals eye him from their porches, weary."

You see what I mean?  You're telling the story from an outside perspective.  It isn't so direct.  

Anyway, that's just a small part of what you need to work on.  I strongly recommend purchasing books and reading as many scripts as you can.  

Good luck,
Dan
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mattman2900
Posted: January 10th, 2011, 4:52pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Murray,

Yeah Dan is right - you need to write it directly.  There's a rule "If it's not seen or heard; it should not be written"

I'll break down a few points in the first twelve pages.  First I want to get to the story in itself, because I like to try and find where writers want to go with the script and anyone can (and will) tell you about spelling and grammar errors. I like to know what people think of my scripts in terms of stories.  Obviously if spelling, grammar and formatting are not correct it's hard for the story to go places and it's even harder getting other screenwriters to read your script.

So here we go:

I like the Title : The Borderline, in the first couple pages I knew the border plays a key part in the story.  What we don't know is border to what? Yes, you can assume when you talk of Texas that Border you are referring to is Mexico, but maybe you mean Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico.  If I missed it, then that's fine, but if not just add something.  

The opening for me didn't do much.  It's a nice sentiment to set the story, as we are looking back on a time no dissipating, but it feels like it drags a bit.  From the brief synopsis we know that Alamo's family is going to be murdered - I suspect the main plot of the story? However I'm twelve pages in  and we're still along with Alamo.  A good guideline is that agency script readers read the first 7, maybe 10 pages and if you have not 'hooked' them by then, it hits the trash. If you want to keep the Storyteller/Cowboy scene my suggestion is to open the scene with the murder - then go to the scene with the Storyteller and Cowboy.  

When using character names, like 'The Storyteller' that whole thing should go into the Character heading. For example you say The storyteller in action lines, but for the Character Heading, you title him as STORYTELLER.  It really doesn't matter which one you use - just pick one and stay consistent.

On page 7 when you introduce Alamo's daughter, you say 'little girl' - that's very vague.  Use her name and capitalize it the first time it appears in the action line.  Also tell us how old she is.  SUSIE (5). Here's a better way to write that action/description:

Alamo and Susannah both look back at the house. They Return their gaze to the chicken coop and watch their daughter, SUSIE (5) throw feed to the hens.

Susie's blond hair glistens in the sun, reflecting her blue eyes.

Page 8 - When Alamo is talking to Sam, he repeats himself quite a bit - if this is a character trait then that's okay, but if it's just small talk dialogue it may be better written like this:

ALAMO
There's been reports of cattle theft. I need to take a look and make sure our livestock has not been hit.  

You also have FIVE men arrive - is one of them Sam or in addition to Sam? Then the next page you introduce Billy Masterson.  You don't necessary have to tell us at the Five men action line, but before he speaks, we should know that he's one of the five men or if he's an additional man.  

Sam Black is a reverend - So that's good we know who is he is. But you describe his clothing as a "White father's collar" obviously we assume he's outside that he's dressed, but you never know - especially in that time period.   So just add to and say Sam dressed in/wearing clerical clothing (with collar) - That's the term most christian non-clergy attire.  

Finally, just a quick pointer.  You have a slugline that reads:

EXT. BROCK FAMILY RANCH - OUTSIDE - DAY

The "OUTSIDE" part is not necessary and it creates more work for yourself.  That EXT for 'EXTERIOR' does the job just fine.  

EXT. BROCK FAMILY RANCH - DAY

Works just fine.

Hopefully that was too treacherous.  

This definitely is a great idea, and all, but it is in need of an overhaul and rewrite.

-Matt




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