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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    My Work In Progress  ›  Zombie Drama Intro Moderators: bert
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DopeWriter
Posted: July 7th, 2021, 2:12pm Report to Moderator
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Going for a �day in the life� type of story here, so the entire thing will take place within a day�obviously. The purpose of sharing at this stage is to see whether or not I�m moving too fast. Curious if I should let the intro breath a little bit more, or keep it the way it is and get right to the action.

Also looking for advice on the verbiage of the action lines. If there�s too many �state of being� verbs. It�s hard to get out of the habit of using �is, are,� etc.

Either way, here it is!

OOPS! I forgot to give viewing access!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-7UsjhZ6Ke8sSx35tm6hwhy19iNBvzz3/view?usp=drivesdk

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DopeWriter  -  July 7th, 2021, 4:41pm
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LC
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Hey, DopeWriter:

Welcome to SS!
Some info for you:

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Post your logline for review here:
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...

Also, I gave this a quick read.
Is it Pilot or Feature?

It doesn't move too fast imho.
Reads pretty well, immersing us in the story right off the bat.

Will look at it a bit closer later and post a few more comments then.


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DopeWriter
Posted: July 7th, 2021, 8:13pm Report to Moderator
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Hey thanks for the links!

Its a planned feature, or maybe a (longer) short. I want to tell stories of the initial outbreak from different perspectives, and ones we havent really seen before. Weve seen cops in zombie movies, sure, but what I find most interesting is how people react initially.

By moving too fast I just meant getting into the action without knowing any of the characters.
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LC
Posted: July 8th, 2021, 6:10am Report to Moderator
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Had another read.

I think you're doing fine. By getting straight into the action we get to know the characters on the fly, so good job there.

I did balk at this line -

What I wanna know is why you'd rather spend time with me than cuddled up to that little piece of yours.

Norman is in his 40s but this makes him sound like a throwback to the 50s, like we just entered noir land. If he had survived you could have established it as an eccentricity on his part, but as is it threw me a bit and is a bit of an anachronism.

And Sherri, despite her sour epression, is described as 'perfect'. ?
She's separated from John early on, so I'm going to presume she's going to offer more than window dressing, and prove her mettle?

I like what you've written so far - like I said, you throw us into the action fast and you do it well.
I suppose I'm just wondering what this Zombie tale will bring that hasn't been done already?

I have a friend writing a Zombie movie and the setting makes it unique.
Zombie movies need something to set them apart imh.

This one was a recent favourite of mine:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10620868/

I thought the Zombie genre was washed up years ago. Just shows what I know...

Just hold on man. Needs to be offset with a comma.
Just hold on, man.

A few minor typos and 'someone else lays' should be lies, but no glaring errors that I can see.

I might have done the Intercut a bit differently, bug yours works.
Watch your orphaned lines - not a big deal as is, but just watch them.

Btw, a bit more clarity with Norman and the seatbelt. I wasn't sure the way it was written if Norman was doing one final heroic thing by locking himself into the seatbelt?

Nice work overall.
Be interesting to see where you take this further.

Read other people's work here on the forums and they'll reciprocate.


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DopeWriter
Posted: July 8th, 2021, 11:50am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC
Had another read.

I think you're doing fine. By getting straight into the action we get to know the characters on the fly, so good job there.

I did balk at this line -

What I wanna know is why you'd rather spend time with me than cuddled up to that little piece of yours.

Norman is in his 40s but this makes him sound like a throwback to the 50s, like we just entered noir land. If he had survived you could have established it as an eccentricity on his part, but as is it threw me a bit and is a bit of an anachronism.

And Sherri, despite her sour epression, is described as 'perfect'. ?
She's separated from John early on, so I'm going to presume she's going to offer more than window dressing, and prove her mettle?

I like what you've written so far - like I said, you throw us into the action fast and you do it well.
I suppose I'm just wondering what this Zombie tale will bring that hasn't been done already?

I have a friend writing a Zombie movie and the setting makes it unique.
Zombie movies need something to set them apart imh.

This one was a recent favourite of mine:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10620868/

I thought the Zombie genre was washed up years ago. Just shows what I know...

Just hold on man. Needs to be offset with a comma.
Just hold on, man.

A few minor typos and 'someone else lays' should be lies, but no glaring errors that I can see.

I might have done the Intercut a bit differently, bug yours works.
Watch your orphaned lines - not a big deal as is, but just watch them.

Btw, a bit more clarity with Norman and the seatbelt. I wasn't sure the way it was written if Norman was doing one final heroic thing by locking himself into the seatbelt?

Nice work overall.
Be interesting to see where you take this further.

Read other people's work here on the forums and they'll reciprocate.


Thanks for checking it out. So that Norman line, I wasn't at all trying to go for some noir gum-shoe thing, but it does sound like it when I think of noir. I wanted him to say something crass without being offensive, I guess.

Sherri definitely has more to do. The entire crux of this particular POV (John's) is him getting to her and their son. They're up in the southern california mountains while he's in LA, so you can imagine the trek he's about to make. She's going to have some encounters of her own, but the focus isn't exactly on her.

I'll re-word action lines to avoid some of those orphans, and I need to get rid of some of the "is's" and "and's." Also, how do you feel about this in action lines - "...is walking" versus "...walks?" Do you know what I'm getting at? I know there's a term for his, I think it's called "active" something.

Regarding Norman and the seat belt - John just told him to put it on, there was no other symbolism with the seatbelt. It was too early for anyone to realize that if you die, you turn.

My goal here is to show the initial outbreak from different perspectives. I know that idea isn't original but the types of POV's I want to do can be unique.

I haven't seen #Alive but it is in my Netflix queue.
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Lon
Posted: July 8th, 2021, 12:27pm Report to Moderator
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The plotting/pacing seems fine to me. Nothing wrong with diving right into things. We have the entire rest of the movie to settle down and get into the meat of the story.

That said, what little we see of the dysfunctional husband/wife relationship in the opening scene feels a bit generic. The old "cop's wife feels like she's playing second fiddle to the job" thing has been done a million times. Maybe consider coming up with some other reason for the strained relationship.

Action/descriptions are okay. My personal preference is short and punchy for locations, like you did with the public restroom stall. "Dark. Dirty. Graffiti-ridden." Lean and clean. I like it. Some of the action lines are a bit clunky but it's nothing that can't be tightened up in the rewrites.

Watch out for unfilmables. For instance, in your opening scene, which is an interior, you tell us we're in LA. How are we to know we're in LA from inside a house? Besides, the next scene has an establishing shot telling us we're in LA traffic. Which, incidentally, would be better if you reference, say, a landmark or road sign SHOWING us we're in LA instead of just telling us that we are. But lose the LA mention in the opening interior scene because it's useless there.

The wife's description is problematic. Telling us she's irritated is fine. Telling us that otherwise she's perfect tells us nothing. And what does "perfect" mean, anyway? It could mean different things to different people -- which is ironic, because the word "perfect" itself is most often used to refer to something very specific. Here its meaning is frustratingly vague.

Forget "perfect." What kind of person is she? Normally warm and caring but currently irritated? A stone cold harpy for whom irritation is her native tongue? Think essence. You don't have to tell us every mental and emotional aspect of her being right up front, but we do need a little something to go on. Same with your male character. "Lean and in shape"  tells us nothing about what kind of man he is.

I don't like Norman. He seems like a mock-tough guy douche bag and he says "fuck" too much. I was completely indifferent to him being bit. Was that your intention, for the writer to not like him? If not, find something to show us about him that makes him, if not likeable, then at least relatable.

Consider this: I spent many years as a social worker and interacted with the police regularly. I can attest to the fact that by and large, detectives are very intelligent people. Ridiculously perceptive, astute as hell. Funnier than you'd think, usually in a very droll manner. A coping mechanism, for all the human ugliness they're exposed to. But on the job -- be it in the office, on the street or on lunch break -- they adhere to a very strict standard of professionalism. That standard includes not using language like an extra in a Rob Zombie movie.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, my two cents.
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DopeWriter
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Theres always a weird contradiction when it comes to unfilmable action lines. Why is it ok to describe personality traits when introducing a character, but we cant say something like the air is sticky when describing action?

Thanks for checking it out, by the way. Regarding John and Sherri, there doesnt need to even be a conflict between the two. They had plans to leave on a trip to the mountings, but John got a call for a meeting he couldnt pass up. No conflict beforehand, just a wife that refuses to wait for him so she decides to drive herself. Shit, my wife would do that.

As for Norman, hes just an expendable character used to get things moving along. I didnt plan on having him purposely irritating or meant to be disliked.
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LC
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Quoted from DopeWriter
I'll re-word action lines to avoid some of those orphans, and I need to get rid of some of the "is's" and "and's." Also, how do you feel about this in action lines - "...is walking" versus "...walks?" Do you know what I'm getting at? I know there's a term for his, I think it's called "active" something...


You're just referring to active writing v passive writing specific to screenwriting.
You don't strike me as an absolute beginner to this.

You're referring to writers better using present tense descriptions, but more to the point action lines and descriptions that fly off the page:

Example:
http://www.reelauthors.com/screenplay-coverage/screenwriting-present-tense-and-active-voice.php

You have a decent grip on writing what you want an audience to see.

As far as is, are, ing words being abolished - as a general principle for the beginner to get them out of the habit of using passive language, then perhaps. But they're not banned in my book - depends on how you use them and if they add to the rhythm of a piece.

When you get to a point of being well read re screenplays, (Pro & amateur) you have to find your own style, even if it breaks or bends some of the 'rules'.

One thing that stands out is your use of pithy verbs, so you're already ahead of the game there and not falling into the beginner trap of: looks, walks, etc., which is why I'm guessing this is not your first effort at writing in general.

Could you speed things up action-wise? Maybe.

BeforeJohncanevengethisphonefromhispocket,an
elderlywomanshamblesfrombehindtherestroom.


That above might read faster without the preamble. You could instead write something like:
John fumbles for his phone...

It still works as is however.

JOHN
Pleasebackawayma'am.


Taking away the 'please' might add to urgency.

Back away, Ma'am!
Remember your comma there.

It could be argued you also don't need the preamble of: She doesn't listen. (below)
Shedoesn'tlisten,justkeepswalkingtowardthem.

Just show the action of what's happening in that instant. She lumbers or barrels towards them describes that she's ignoring the order.

Asshe getscloser,JohnandNormancanseethathereyesare
milkywhite.Theiris/pupiliscompletelycloudedover.


Perhaps John and Norman exchange a terrified or wary look.
And: Choose iris or pupil, not both.


Quoted from DopeWriter
Theres always a weird contradiction when it comes to unfilmable action lines. Why is it ok to describe personality traits when introducing a character, but we cant say something like the air is sticky when describing action?


Unfilmables, asides, are up to you.
In the case of the air is sticky for example, why not show someone sweating or mopping their brow? Why not show the steam rising off the asphalt?

Your fellow readers/writers will let you know if you're over-egging things in the unfilmable dept.
.
Like I said, imho, it's about finding your own style.

Story is key, as always.
Post a script. Get feedback. See where you're at overall. Use what you want, ignore what you don't.


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Lon
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Quoted from DopeWriter
Theres always a weird contradiction when it comes to unfilmable action lines. Why is it ok to describe personality traits when introducing a character, but we cant say something like the air is sticky when describing action?


I used to wonder the same thing. Basically, since a character trait is something that can be visually conveyed by the actor, that makes it filmable. Using my silly example above of describing a character as a stone cold harpy, that's something that can be shown through body language, tone of the actor's voice, actions, dialogue. But how can you show air being sticky?

But not every writer even bothers with character descriptions. When it comes right down to it. we learn more about the character through their dialogue and actions than can be fully conveyed in a brief introductory description anyway, so unless they possess a trait vital to the story, there's no rule saying you have to provide any kind of description for them at all.
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DopeWriter
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 12:48pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC


You're just referring to active writing v passive writing specific to screenwriting.
You don't strike me as an absolute beginner to this.

You're referring to writers better using present tense descriptions, but more to the point action lines and descriptions that fly off the page:

Example:
http://www.reelauthors.com/screenplay-coverage/screenwriting-present-tense-and-active-voice.php

You have a decent grip on writing what you want an audience to see.

As far as is, are, ing words being abolished - as a general principle for the beginner to get them out of the habit of using passive language, then perhaps. But they're not banned in my book - depends on how you use them and if they add to the rhythm of a piece.

When you get to a point of being well read re screenplays, (Pro & amateur) you have to find your own style, even if it breaks or bends some of the 'rules'.

One thing that stands out is your use of pithy verbs, so you're already ahead of the game there and not falling into the beginner trap of: looks, walks, etc., which is why I'm guessing this is not your first effort at writing in general.

Could you speed things up action-wise? Maybe.

BeforeJohncanevengethisphonefromhispocket,an
elderlywomanshamblesfrombehindtherestroom.


That above might read faster without the preamble. You could instead write something like:
John fumbles for his phone...

It still works as is however.

JOHN
Pleasebackawayma'am.


Taking away the 'please' might add to urgency.

Back away, Ma'am!
Remember your comma there.

It could be argued you also don't need the preamble of: She doesn't listen. (below)
Shedoesn'tlisten,justkeepswalkingtowardthem.

Just show the action of what's happening in that instant. She lumbers or barrels towards them describes that she's ignoring the order.

Asshe getscloser,JohnandNormancanseethathereyesare
milkywhite.Theiris/pupiliscompletelycloudedover.


Perhaps John and Norman exchange a terrified or wary look.
And: Choose iris or pupil, not both.



Unfilmables, asides, are up to you.
In the case of the air is sticky for example, why not show someone sweating or mopping their brow? Why not show the steam rising off the asphalt?

Your fellow readers/writers will let you know if you're over-egging things in the unfilmable dept.
.
Like I said, imho, it's about finding your own style.

Story is key, as always.
Post a script. Get feedback. See where you're at overall. Use what you want, ignore what you don't.


Youre right, I have been doing this for a little while, but to no real success. I just little to screw around with stories and see what comes out.
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DopeWriter
Posted: July 10th, 2021, 12:49pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Lon


I used to wonder the same thing. Basically, since a character trait is something that can be visually conveyed by the actor, that makes it filmable. Using my silly example above of describing a character as a stone cold harpy, that's something that can be shown through body language, tone of the actor's voice, actions, dialogue. But how can you show air being sticky?

But not every writer even bothers with character descriptions. When it comes right down to it. we learn more about the character through their dialogue and actions than can be fully conveyed in a brief introductory description anyway, so unless they possess a trait vital to the story, there's no rule saying you have to provide any kind of description for them at all.


I get what youre saying. Honestly, I do try and leave personality traits out of character descriptions, unless theyre feeling a certain way when I introduce them.
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