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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  The Man from Battersea Moderators: bert
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  Author    The Man from Battersea  (currently 980 views)
Posted: March 26th, 2006, 12:27pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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The Man from Battersea by Jason Young - Short, Drama - John Cook is a Flying Dutchman, doomed to a lifetime of failed relationships in the loneliness of London. 11 pages - doc, format

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Breanne Mattson
Posted: March 26th, 2006, 4:04pm Report to Moderator
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The first thing I noticed was that this script is filled with “we see’s.” Opinions may vary on this but the general consensus (and my personal opinion) is that they are very annoying and only serve to disrupt the flow of a piece. Telling me what I’m seeing is tantamount to watching a movie and having someone constantly saying, “Look at that. Look at that!” It’s disruptive.

Some of the descriptive paragraphs are getting a little up there in chunkiness.

Also, as to the casual exposition such as:

“She is JOHN’S idea of what he wants his wife to look like, and the look in her eye suggests that she knows it. But beneath the facade there is a chaos of conflicting emotions.”

I’m a reader who doesn’t mind a little of that. I think it gives a writer his/her own voice and separates writers from the formula-factory variety. But, however, I think you use this technique to such extreme that your script has become too novel-like. You tell us quite often what characters are thinking. Sometimes you tell us what they are physically feeling despite the fact that a viewer would never know this.

It doesn’t bother me to read it because I like to read novels as well but, as a screenplay, it is a bit taxing to read so much casual exposition. Streamlining material is as much a demonstration of writing skill as writing large texts.

Also, some of your description of Jinny, for example, as having a firm arse (ass), etc., sounds juvenile. The text portions of a script should be kept professional. And I can tell by other descriptive phrasing that you are capable of better than these types of juvenile descriptions.

Characters only need to be introduced in caps. After that, it just gets annoying.

You’re overusing the beat. Beats occur again and again throughout any written work. They are used in films to meter the film and for adding incidental music. In other words, often they are implied or simply understood to be there by the reader. Actually notating them should be used sparingly.

Now to the story:

John is a bit pitiful, if you ask me. I certainly wouldn’t be interested in going out with a guy who would start talking about his mother while we’re making out. And then, before our first date, started talking about marriage. And I know there are cultural differences (and times have changed) but I don’t go out with guys who give me their numbers and tell me to call them. At this point, I’m thinking this John guy is rather pathetic.

Only after the scene with Jinny does John become a character that the reader can begin to care about. You capture his isolation well, though again, you do poison it with the over exposition. This is a short story disguised as a screenplay. It took me three times the average to read this as opposed to a script of the same page count. It’s as though you took a short story and merely rearranged it to take on a more script-like appearance. That’s not adaptation. That’s just rearranging and it won’t work for a script.

I do love, love, love the way that you demonstrate racism by showing the effect of loneliness and isolation that it produces instead of the conventional methods. It’s simple and effective. I truly did feel for John when I was watching in on his life.

The biggest problem for me was that his loneliness as far as being without a female companion was made out to be due to his race without showing a character that would have been desirable otherwise. In other words, John wasn’t a man that women would find attractive no matter what his race. No woman wants a man who just starts telling you he loves you and wants you to be his wife after the first meeting. I once had an Indian man start talking to me at the airport and then ask me to marry him that day and move to India.

John comes off as one of those guys who falls in love at the drop of a hat and wants to move right into a relationship. Jinny doesn’t know John. They made out at a club and that’s it. Why should she go out with him? He didn’t do or say anything romantic. He didn’t display any charisma. He talked about his mother right off the bat. Then marriage. Instead of being a man and taking charge of the situation, he gives her his number and tells her to call him.

Then he sees her at a restaurant and immediately starts rambling about them being destined to be together. Then, when she refuses to go out with him (and why wouldn’t any woman refuse to go out with him), he accuses her of being a racist. What a creep.

If I was in that situation, I would have made up a boyfriend if I had to in order to avoid this guy. Then, if he accused me of being a racist because I wouldn’t go out with him, I would be so deeply offended I would probably tell the creep off.

I truly felt for John while watching him alone but he interacted with Jinny like a maladjusted jerk. Your hero was ultimately not likeable enough to care about and that is a fatal flaw in any story, particularly a character driven drama.

On the positive, you are actually quite a talented writer technically. I believe in time and with more experience with this particular medium, you can produce a very well written and effective piece of work. This, however, is not it.

As a novel reader, I enjoyed most of your exposition but, as script reader, I found it taxing. On film, this 11 page short would probably total five of six minutes.

I hope this helps in some way because you do have a great deal of promise, particularly as a writer of novels and short stories. This main character does need an overhaul when it comes to public interaction, though. Good luck and keep writing.


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Breanne Mattson  -  March 26th, 2006, 4:46pm
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