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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Western Scripts  ›  The Red Cactus Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: March 5th, 2014, 9:07pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Red Cactus by Brian S. Thompson - Western - William P. Thornbush, 58, dying of thirst under the brutal Arizona sun, drinks the liquid from a cactus that gives him a second chance at life. 99 pages - pdf, format


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CameronD
Posted: March 6th, 2014, 11:54am Report to Moderator
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Currently rewriting my own western so I was excited to see a new western up on the boards. Also I live in Arizona. Let me take a look.

The logline doesn't need William's age.

You don't need the narration (cont) between action lines. We know the narrator is still speaking. Also I would say cut the narrator. The scene would be much better if William is truly alone in the quiet of the desert, dying. Also, I don't care about that backstory.  Instead of telling me he left his family show me. Have him pull out a old crumbled photograph of the family he left. Or a certain pocket watch?

So Will gets younger from the cactus? Is there a more dramatic way to show he's gotten younger and stronger then simply looking at his hands? Fights off an animal that's hunting him? Pick up the mule? We won't know the change is more than cosmetic if you don't show us he's stronger.

So Will has a Henry rifle yet runs away from 3 charging rebels? He could drop all of them before they ever got close. Unless you want to show him as a major coward I'd say lose the repeater. Have him use his sidearm in the woods. Also I know Confederates often used captured Union weapons, but in this case it doesn't matter they have Springfield’s.

At the train station. OTHERS? PASSANGERS maybe?

5 pages in and I see you have a lot of black text. Action everywhere which a lot of readers don't care for. Do we need to know about every handshake, smile, or turn of the head your characters make? Try and cut some out. Makes a faster more flowing read.

Mandy's dad doesn't like Will? Again show us. Have the dad make a remark, put Will down, something. Don't hide the conflict from us.

Cut the scene with Will and his mother at breakfast or change it. It adds nothing to the script and just repeats info we've just learned. I know he's leaving already. Let him go. Same with the barn. Have him leave on his trip right after talking to Mandy. It makes it seem more abrupt. You've spent equal time now with him saying goodbye to mom and Mandy. Is that what you want to do?

10 pages in and I'm not sure where this is headed except Will is going to look for gold. Ratchet up the pressure to increase the stakes. Maybe Mandy’s family is bankrupt and will lose the farm? That’s why her dad doesn't like Will, he won't chip in and help, instead choosing to go look for gold foolishly. The old man's conversation on the train should be for Mandy's dad. Also for sure kill the narrator in the beginning because he is only repeating what you've shown here.  

You write pretty well and this script isn't bad but I think it could be leaner and meaner with some changes. I'll try and read some more because its a western.



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CameronD
Posted: March 7th, 2014, 6:07pm Report to Moderator
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The stable scene coming into Elko does nothing to advance your story.

Mabel - nice to see a prostitute who isn't dolled up and beautiful.

The oasis - Digging for gold already? Ok, but why not just skip the town entirely and come right here? Nothing happens in the town except we a bartender and prostitute watch Will take a drink. Also way too much description on finding the waterhole. You could say everything you need in one or two lines instead of 7 separate action slugs. Also I would not use the term oasis in your script. When I think of an oasis I think of lush green vegetation and water aplenty in the middle of a parched landscape. We don't have those out here in the South West. And if we did it would be a crowded place. Maybe change your location to a small creek or watering hole? I think that is more in line with what you are trying to describe.

We don't need to constantly know the location of Will's haversack and rifle. Especially if it never moves. Very overwritten here. Lots of text that shows very little.

You use A MILE AWAY when the cougar eats the run away stallion. Did it run away? You never say if it does. I would just make this a separate slugline like this
EXT. STALLION CARCASS. DAY

Way too many action lines start off with Will this, Will that, which makes it read more like a checklist than a screenplay.

Will really loves his haversack and rifle.

20 pages in and this script with a great opening scene has become boring. Nothing happens, there is no conflict, and I have no idea where you are going with this. The script is way overwritten. You could do everything in half the pages easily. Will has little personality and is unlikable and underdeveloped. He runs from battle, ditches his new fiancé, finds gold too easily, and seems more attached to his haversack than his girl. If this is the case now I'm not sure what to look forward to further on. I thought the first page was great but the rest needs to be reworked quite a bit. What is Will's story?    


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