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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Western Scripts  ›  Impasse Moderators: bert
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  Author    Impasse  (currently 3463 views)
Posted: August 26th, 2016, 3:57am Report to Moderator

Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

The Great Southern Land
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Not a big Western fan. Having said that Bone Tomahawk, despite some gory scenes (yes, I had to cover my eyes, and peek through my fingers) is one of my fav films of 2015 - horror/western, really.

The screenplay was up on SS for a while, courtesy of Don. Some members might still have it. Can't put a finger on my own copy at the moment.

Anyway, the reason I'm giving you this info is that it was one of the best scripts I've read and yet it too was overwritten in places. Doesn't matter cause the story is a ripper and a lot of the dialogue is golden.

I skimmed through a lot of your script, and you write really well.

The main prob I had was the time it was taking for me to get into your story. But, like I said, I'm not strictly a western fan so maybe that had a lot to do with it...

I'm guilty of overwriting too, but have learned to scale it back. The good news is if you write well to begin with, and you do, you'll soon learn to edit yourself with practice, and if you read good pro scripts you'll see how the notable pros do it. Alex makes some good points re formatting and writing shots, as does Simon re 'story' being key.

Get into your story as quickly as you can. The old adage of scriptwriting: get into your scene as late as possible,  and get out early is a good tip to remember. And every para where you see an orphaned word (only cause you do have a lot of these!) work on doing away with most.

Example of where I'd streamline:


Another day on the dusty trail. The soldiers seem a bit
less jovial and a little quieter. Three days on the trail
is evident as the uniforms are now more chalk colored than

No need for the first sentence recap. No need for reiterating 'Three days...
And 'show' rather than 'is evident'.

I'm being picky, yours will still pass, but:

I'd start with:

Thornburgh and Payne ride together.
Cherry and Lowry approach from down trail. (Do you approach from 'down trail? Perhaps: approach from behind,  or bring up the rear)
The mood is subdued, less jovial, their uniforms covered in the chalky dust and grit of the trail.

You've clearly got the writing chops, I just had trouble getting into the first 20 pages. Another opinion othrr than mine is needed on that.

My thoughts for now. Hope it's helpful.


Private Message Reply: 15 - 20
Posted: August 26th, 2016, 8:02am Report to Moderator
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Westerns are a fascinating genre.

I've been getting into them a lot recently - the range is impressive: traditional, revisionist, comedy, horror, SF - there seems little that can't be accommodated within them ("Five Card Stud", for example, is a Agatha Christie like whodunit). And they all have this common set of tropes - gunslingers, horses, stage coaches, and the rest, that the writer can use for the frame of the story.

And, of course, the themes can even be found in modern Westerns ("No Country for Old Men", the original "Assault on Precinct 13") and SF - which has often drawn on the image of the West, with settlers as colonists for example.

e-mail Reply: 16 - 20
Posted: August 26th, 2016, 10:01am Report to Moderator

Tucson, AZ
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Thanks to everyone for your comments, suggestions and encouragement. My wife compares writing to having an ugly baby that only a mother can love. In time, with rewrites, it will 'grow out of it' and become beautiful.

I'll let you know when this one grows up...thanks again!
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Posted: August 26th, 2016, 1:42pm Report to Moderator

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Cheers to a fellow western writer!

I'm at work so my time is limited, which is not fair I know to your script but I don't feel like grading papers right now so thought I'd take a look with first impressions.

Not a fan of the opening scene in that it's overly written which seems to maybe be a issue from the comments. Try your hardest to make each block of action no more than 4 or 5 lines. You have lots to cut here though. We don't need to know the color of the clothes they are wearing (clothes don't build character btw) or where their hands are. Not only are you writing your story, but in this first paragraph you are also playing the role of director and wardrobe. Just focus on action. Tell us the story. Leave out all the rest. Save that other stuff for novels.

This 1st paragraph could easily be written in 1 or 2 sentences with Meeker and Douglas staring at each other intensely.

Horse gallops, not galloping. Get rid of all the ing verbs as scripts take place in the present and not past.

You can get rid of the (OS) as that's mostly used for dialogue or sounds off camera. Why describe what the audience can't see in the first place? Or if you use (OS) simply have the sound of a loud horse gallop and stop outside the room.

"Meeker is unable to finish his command as Sowerwick yanks on the chain and Meeker falls to the floor." reads better as "Sowerwick yanks on the chain and Meeker falls to the floor." Scripts are all about word economy. Say as much as you can with the least you can.

A lot of your lines begin with Douglas this, Meeker that. It's repetitive and makes the read uninteresting. Start with action first. Flip your sentences around. For example again,
"Douglas lowers his head and lets out a deep sigh." is easily changed to

"Head lowered, Douglas, lets out a deep sigh."

Don't think you need to SUPER in the Title. This isn't a shooting script. Get rid of it.

I also don't think you need to put Wyoming into the slugline.

Especially since you mention Wymoming right below in the action. We get it. We're in Wyoming.
Write out all numbers. 50 = fifty

Now a SUPER of Wyoming again.


Who is the burly man? Dolan? The way it''s written it sounded like another character to me. Conducts inspection. Not conducting.

Sorry, I gotta get back to work now. A lot of people may not have a problem with stuff like this that may seem nitpicky but to a lot of people it's a turn off. When I first wrote my script I made all the same mistakes as everybody does so don't stress. Like you said, take this baby and raise it right. Now that you have your story written and laid out it's all about rewriting and fine tuning. Your first page needs to be your best cause thats the one page you know everybody will at least read. If I have time over the next week I'll see if I can't read a bit more.

Good luck and keep at it! You're right in that Westerns are more than overdue for a comeback! Fight the good fight! Movie reviews, news, and fun! Write a screenplay. Write. Now. Separate from your competition. Affordable SEO services Because nobody likes receiving gift cards
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Posted: August 28th, 2016, 5:32am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC
Not a big Western fan. Having said that Bone Tomahawk, despite some gory scenes (yes, I had to cover my eyes, and peek through my fingers) is one of my fav films of 2015 - horror/western, really.

The screenplay was up on SS for a while, courtesy of Don. Some members might still have it. Can't put a finger on my own copy at the moment.


I have got my hands on this and plan to have a read. Typical of the strange coincidences of life, shortly after reading your comment I saw the DVD in a local shop. I'm not a great one for gory horror, so will probably limit myself to reading the script though.

e-mail Reply: 19 - 20
Posted: September 11th, 2016, 3:12pm Report to Moderator

Tucson, AZ
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Thanks to Trelby and the numerous helpful suggestions from the masses, I believe this latest revision to be a huge technical improvement from the previous. You may notice that the tagline has been changed as well.

Read on and let's see what you think of the story!

Thanks again!
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