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Transcontinental by Josh Park - Western, Action, Adveture - A young Chinese girl, accompanied by an older, cynical cowboy, goes out on an adventure to find her father and take him away from the rough working conditions of railroad construction. 105 pages - pdf format
Oh goodie, a new western. I like westerns. I wrote a western. I like reviewing westerns. Let's see how this one starts out. I'm at work so can't read for long but I don't mind the first few pages with my initial impressions.
Logline needs some extra details as it reads very generic. adventure, older, and rough are all very plain. use some more descriptive language to describe your story. I do like the True Grit vibe I'm getting from the set up though. And the plight of Chinese railworkers is underrepresented in film.
First slug, just a front of a house. Ok, but where? A prairie? On a farm? Big city? Outskirts of a mining town? With a western I think you need to be more specific with locations cause the genre has so many locales we could be. Seems we are in a town from your descriptions but that really should be in the slug.
So it would appear Lanzou will go on a quest to rescue her dad. You need to take more time to develop the relationship between these two. Simply giving her his hat and saying goodbye doesn't cut it. You need them to share a special moment here/ Preferably one that foreshadows or sets up a story beat later on.
"Previously known as John?"Ugh. Cut.
Little confusing with Kit's sudden name change, but I get it, since she is Chinese living among westerns. Arm wrestling shows she is strong, or John is wimpy, but it's a nice intro. However the gossip between her and John serves no purpose and can be cut.
Lots. Of. Talking.
Page 12 and my time is up. You have some problems.
After the arm wrestling, this script goes nowhere. We learn very little about Kit we care about and nothing about her dad. I was waiting to see when and how she NEEDS to go save her dad and instead we get a weak reminder that rail work is dangerous. There is no stakes, no apparent danger (just implied) and no inciting incident by page 10 which is what you should aim for.
Instead of hearing 2nd hand about a dynamite explosion at the railway, how hard would it be to show us it? Let the audience see just how dangerous things were. Show. Don't tell.
There is a LOT of talking that really doesn't add or drive much to your story. This drags out scenes and slows you down. late in. Early out.
But the main issues I see is your set up. if Kit's dad willingly leaves to work on the rail, does he really need saving? You need to show more of him being forced or reluctant at least. The family is poor, about to have the farm foreclosed on and dad has to work for a season to make ends meet. Or maybe he is kidnapped somehow to work? I hate to say it, but what you have now doesn't work.
I do like the premise though. I can see this as a cross between True Grit and Mulan and that's a premise that could actually work well I think. Good luck!
Thank you! I realize that my dialogue as of now is a bit clunky, to say the least, but cutting stuff out entirely is a point I had glazed over but will certainly be doing in my rewrites. I have issues with showing danger as I wanted Kit's POV to be the dominant one for a little bit, but that might be misguided too. It may be implied that the corpses are from the same company/boss that her father is working for but I should put something in the actual opening to suggest that. Again, thank you, and I will go in with a machete into the new draft.