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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Hunan Beef Moderators: bert
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  Author    Hunan Beef  (currently 1776 views)
Posted: April 15th, 2006, 6:16am Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Hunan Beef by Spencer McDonald - Short, Comedy - Western obesity meets Eastern disipline and a Chinese buffet line. (17 pages) - doc, format

Visit for what is new on the site.

You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky
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Abe from LA
Posted: April 22nd, 2006, 6:46pm Report to Moderator
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Downey, California
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A very funny read.  I like the changes you’ve made.
The ending was a crackup.  I didn’t see that one coming.
Nice touch.
Starting in the Chinese restaurant and ending there works.


I didn’t like the reaction of Kong early in the story.  When Jimbo goes down from his allergic reaction, it seemed Kong was too flip about the matter.  Remember, there are other patrons in the restaurant.  I think it would be better for him to skip the funnies and just call the paramedics.

Going back to the beginning of the story, I like the setup with Jimbo gorging on his meals.  I do think that you went a bit overboard in describing Jimbo’s ball head and patches of hair.  I got the picture by the first line.

Why might be nice added touches would be if Jimbo was eating during his lunch break.  What if he showed up in his white business shirt?  Can you imagine the mess his shirt would be in after a meal like that?  Ha Ha.

Or maybe, give his guy a bib.  Which only catches half his splashings.

The Coke scene would work better if the drink isn’t just sitting there.  How about making Jimbo a two-fisted eater, with eggrolls in both hangs.  And he refuses to put down the eggrolls when he drinks, so he has to balance the Coke with his fists.  That could lead to the spills on the table.

I do like Kong whizzing out with that silver tray of fortune cookies.  That’s kind of comical.

Am I mistaken, isn’t Jimbo’s reaction due to eating Hunan Beef and not the eggrolls?

You can even setup the Hunan Beef, with Kong watching Jimbo eat his buffet, then casually mentioning the really spicy special…  Hunan Beef.  This piques Jimbo’s curiosity.  Maybe he’ll ask to try it and Kong might say, “No, No.  Spicy Hunan Beef very special dish. Very rare.  Not for everybody.”

Then get Jimbo all worked up.  Afterall, Hunan Beef is a delicacy that probably should not be part of the buffet line.  It’s the kind of meal reserved for big eaters.  Right?  Haha.

I enjoyed the scene in the ambulance.  I like the woman who was serious.  She is the foil to the two goofy drivers.  How about if that fortune cookie scene in the restaurant is moved to the back of the ambulance?  Let’s say Kong packed up a bag of fortune cookies for Jimbo to eat later.  But in the ambulance ride to the hospital, two ambulance workers could have a field day smoking dope and cracking fortune cookies, reading off the funny one-liners.  All those crumbs falling on fat Jimbo’s lifeless body.

I'll continue with another post.
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Abe from LA
Posted: April 22nd, 2006, 6:47pm Report to Moderator
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Downey, California
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This is part 2 of my review.

Oh, correct the spelling of chow mein.  I think that is on Page 2.

Before they paddle shock Jimbo with that defib., maybe the woman and ambulance guys can determine that what Jimbo needs is CPR.  But nobody wants to give this guy mouth-to-mouth.  Then they go with paddle blast, cause it’s better than nothing.

On Page 5, I think, Jimbo tells Dr. Wu that he loves Hunan Beef.  Did he actually have an order of beef?  I’m still thinking that he was chowing down eggrolls.  

There is still a mix of Japanese and Chinese martial arts here.
Dojo is Japanese, dojang in Korean and I think Kung Fu places are called studios or schools.

Maybe to avoid all this K/J stuff, just have Mr. Lee is creator of his own brand of All-Asian martial arts.  You know, something like Karate-Fu or whatever.  So then you can incorporate anything Asian.

I like the line early on about “getting off on the wrong foot.”  I can think of all kinds of one-liners, which you can backup with a kick or punch.  Maybe every time Jimbo spouts off a cliché, Master Lee capitalizes.  Wrong foot, a kick to Jimbo’s head.  Get the point, a jab to the gut.  Overhead my head, a punch to the head.

I think Master Lee should call Jimbo something like Big Grasshopper or Fat Grasshopper.  Just one more putdown.

On Page 8, that line about Mr. Miyagi.  Correct the spelling.

A funny thought hit me.  Because Master Lee has no students, I wondered if this could be a case where Master Lee isn’t legit.  Maybe he’s making this stuff up as he goes along.  Would be funny if Master Lee says, “Now I do roundhouse kick to fat man’s head,” but can’t get his leg high enough. He Lee kicks the crud out of Jimbo’s knee.
And maybe Lee’s got one of those “Kung Fu for Dummies” books around.
Sorry, going off on some weird tangent.

Anyway, I like the way this story went.  Love that ending with the girl.

Good job.
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Abe from LA
Posted: April 22nd, 2006, 9:18pm Report to Moderator
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Downey, California
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One more thing, Spencer.
Between the Kung Fu training sequences, maybe intersperse scenes with Jimbo eating.
You know, fast food city; Chinese, Cajun, whatever.
Then we see him training and getting worked on psychologically in the dojo, as well as eating himself to death at the corner Pup 'n Taco.
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Posted: April 24th, 2006, 9:39am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Write NOW! Perfect LATER!

Seattle, WA
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Great comments for me. Thank you. I will rework this script and see how I can make it even funnier. Also, spelling is not my strong point. I will work on that. A question comes to mind. Do you think this short is good enough to place in a contest somewhere? If it is, what would you recommend?

I really enjoyed writing the ambulance scenes and the ending most.

Thanks again for your thoughts. They are always welcome and a help to my writing.

Spencer McDonald

I got nothing.  
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Abe from LA
Posted: April 24th, 2006, 9:01pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Downey, California
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Hey Spencer,

Just my opinion, but I would not spend a lot of time working on Hunan Beef for a contest.
There are several reasons I say this, and remember, they are just my opinions.
Ask other posters what they think.

The reason I would not prep Beef for a contest are many:

It's a Short script.  you'd have to seek out a short script contest, which narrows your options.
Your script is a comedy, a very visual comedy.  I tend to think that is not what appeals to judges.
Yes, the script is fun to read, enjoyable here on the boards, but judges have a different criteria.
Judges, and i don't speak from experience, lean toward stories.  you know, personal stories.
Something with a strong central character, character arc, a situation, a strong story, etc.
Hunan Beef is mostly fun and is not dependent on character arc, per se.

Your motivation, I presume, was to entertain.
Contests look for more.

And they can be expensive.

I think you'd do better to concentrate on a new script.
You can use comedy, but I don't think many comedies win or even place in contests.
Hunan Beef is  visual, and slapstick, judges would likely
dismiss it without a second thought.

The other kind of comedy is also tough:
If it's the kind of comedy that's built around a decent story, then you have the burden of
making it funny without going over the top.

Think about it.  Would the  Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) scipt have won any contest awards if
submitted by some unknown?  I tend to think not.  but that doesn't mean there isn't a niche
for such scripts.

Hope that doesn't dampen your spirits.  you did a nice job on Beef.  i like the changes.  You say
you want to make it funnier, but I hope you mean funnier as in clever funny.
Not stupid funny.
It's already pretty darn funny.

Good luck.  Keep writing.  I'll keep reading.  And get more opinions on the contest biz.
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The boy who could fly
Posted: April 28th, 2006, 2:26pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

British Columbia, Canada
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HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, this was pretty funny, I loved the ending, sick and twisted, just like me  , I liked how the story flowed, it was an eay read and had me smiling through the whole thing, the two ambulence driver's were kinda like a white Cheech & Chong...LOL, that was great.  This was a fun read.  Keep up the good work

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Posted: April 29th, 2006, 12:01pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Better to die with vodka than with tedium!

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Hey Mc! Very nice, man!

It is getting better and better. Continue improving more and more on your talent writing and you will have a masterpiece in your hands!!! I'm glad to be your partner on this!
cheers amigo!
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Posted: April 29th, 2006, 4:28pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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Here's some format errors I found reading your script.. My thoughts regarding this script can be found at the end of the post.. Please read these:


As he chews he closes his eyes and offers up a facial expression of pure pleasure. The expression suggests that he is equating the taste of the Chinese with that of sex.

I like the facial expression of pure pleasure but not the suggests bit.

When describing a shot you need to remember this is either an action or a reaction not a suggestion. Suggestions are for novels not screenplays here Spence.. What you need to do is describe that event as it is without the word "suggest" in it, lke so:

As he chews he closes his eyes and offers up a facial expression of pure pleasure. The expression looks like what he eats is as good as sex to him.


It wasn’t a heart attack. It was
an egg roll stuck in his wind
pipe. He needs some oxygen but I
think he’ll make it. NOW STEP ON IT!

Don't use CAPS in dialogue.. Use a "!" to ephasize that the line is delivered with emphasis and this will communicate same!! Ok!! haha!!


ahhhh, the dreaded (beat) <- GET RID OF IT!!! Use (Pause) instead..

I'm getting no punctuation in your dialogue, epsecially the Chinese stuff..

AHHHHH, then dreaded (beat) again <- GET RID OF IT!!! Use (Pause) instead..

Master Lee pokes his index finger into Jimbo’s chest and pushes him off of the dojo.

The above line used "Off" and "of", I've never seen this before and reckon this is an Americanism.. No probs..

Try it like this:

Master Lee pokes his index finger into Jimbo’s chest and pushes him off the dojo.

No need for the "of" now.. It works..


Oh my God (beat) again!!!!

PAGE #11

Jimbo gives Master Lee a simple wave with one hand while still nursing his crotch with the other as he walks across the street toward his car.

He walks slow and gingerly.

Write "Nurses" rather than "ing" write "limps" rather than "walks"..

don't use "walk" find a word which decribes him as he crosses the road.

Steps, limps, struggles, wobbles - and so forth.. Find something which pertains to the action you're describing and the character's traits at the same time..

The tinted studio door opens exposing a bright sunlit day.

Jimbo walks in wearing dark sunglasses, red sweats, a grey sweatshirt, and thick sweat socks, one white and one tan.

He pushes his sunglasses up on his bald head as he walks in.

Better if you write like this:

The Tinded studio door opens and exposes a bright sunlit day.

Jimbo waltzes in he wears dark sunglesses, read sweats, a grey sweatshirt, and thick sweat socks, one white and one tan, then he pushes the sunglasses up over his bald head.

You already mentioned Jimbo entered into the studio so you can tag the fact that he pushes his sunglasses over his bald head at the end of the paragraph. All in the same shot then..

You need to find a better solution to Jimbo's reflection in the mirror, something which runs directly into Master Lee's workout in front of the mirror.. Like so:

Master Lee performs his Kung Fu moves in front of a full wall mirror. Every move looks like it has been choreographed and is preformed in slow motion. Jimbo large torso enters into the mirror reflection.

Master Lee turns around to face Jimbo..

You come back. Why?

That works now, in two shots..

Jimbo rubs his stomach in circle and speaks like an Indian chief.

You missed an "a" before the word "circle"

Jimbo rubs his stomach in "a" circle and speaks like an Indian chief.

Sorry about this but it'll make for a tighter and better read.. More to come ahhhh!!!

Master Lee stops his workout, turns and walks to the edge of the dojo.

Try not to use the word "Walk" try and find an alternative which communicates how the character moves across the floor in his studio..

Master Lee stops his workout, turns and glides gracefully to the edge of the dojo.

The above is in keeping with a graceful dancer which sometimes Kung Fu people are..

You get my meaning..

PAGE #12

What? I took off my shoes.

Yes and for that small honor…
I only hit you once.


The above three lines are perfection and I'll tell you why..

You didn't use parentheticals instead you let your dialogue speak for itself and it worked! Now you need to so the same for other lines so the lines speak for themselves without using parentheticals because they get in the way. And, actors and directors don't like them, they cross them out of scripts with a big RED FELT TIP PEN..

He walks off the dojo then turns and bows to dojo then returns to the mat.

Ouch, "Walk" again, use "steps" instead, because hs steps off the mat..

Jimbo steps onto the dojo. <- you got that one right!! Lol!!!

Master Lee steps back and claps his hands together with excitement and a twinkle in his eye.

The above is a nice desctiption of action in a shot - cool!!!

PAGE #13

Lee walks to his desk and opens a drawer then takes out a bowl of candy bars. He brings the candy to the dojo and sets it on the edge.

Ahhhhh "Walks" again..Ahhhh!!!

Here's a list of Power Verbs for you:

Walks     Steps     Ambles     Staggers     Stamps     Marches     Treads
Approaches     Tracks     Circles     Strolls     Tramps     Glides
Prowls     Treks        Patrols     Paces     Traverses     Scours     Rambles
Strides     Saunters     Straggles     Plods     Straddles     Struts     Hovers
Bowls along     Ambles     Jogs          Runs     Races     Wanders
Roams     Paces     Takes off     Strays

pick some of these next time you get the urge to write "walks"..

PAGE #13



PAGE #17

Kong reachs into his pocket pulls out a cell phone and dials a number.

You missed the "e" off "reaches"..

Not bad all in all, and a lot of improvements on your last script.. Good read.. I enjoyed the ending too.. Cool..

You need to stop using CAPS in dialogue and try and find ways of providing descriptions of action rather than parentheticals if you can, you're script will lift up a few notches if you do this..

Well done anyways..
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Posted: April 30th, 2006, 3:46pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Write NOW! Perfect LATER!

Seattle, WA
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Thanks for the editing. You rock! I will keep your suggestions in mind about the parentheticals and CAPS. I have read some professional (produced) scripts and found that the writer uses caps to indicated a different tone in the characters dialog. They also use parentheticals throught out the dialog. Just smack dab right in the middle, not even at the top of the dialog.

So each writer seems different. I do appreciate your suggestions and the use of power verbs.

Question??? Is there a website that lists power verbs in place of certain words?

Thanks, Spencer

I got nothing.  
Site Private Message YIM Reply: 9 - 13
Posted: April 30th, 2006, 4:55pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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Quoted from spencerforhire
I have read some professional (produced) scripts and found that the writer uses caps to indicated a different tone in the characters dialog. They also use parentheticals throught out the dialog. Just smack dab right in the middle, not even at the top of the dialog.

The trouble with downloading screenplays from the web, and buying them in published books for that matter, Spence, is they are shooting scripts not Spec Scripts and this is where the two differ.

In Spec Scripts it is better to show how good a writer you are to find solutions over formatting, this usually helps with the flow of the reading by reducing anything which stops or temporarily halts reading of the script. Camera angles, Transistions, parantheticals, Beats, Pauses and anything else which gets in the way shouldn't be in a Spec Script..

I see your point, and there has been a heated discussion about some of these items regarding what you can put in and what you cannot put in a Spec Script. The conventions change all the time but from my reading and the research I've conducted seems to suggest what the things I've mentioned above, if not needed, then don't put them in. If you can find alternative solutions, even creative solutions which are part of the thread of your story-telling then more the better. In fact, this is my own personal opinion, I reckon a reader appreciates Spec Scripts like this and if a reader can appreciate this then it receives good coverage and a recommendation..

Charles Deemer's Book Screenwrite: The Craft of Screenwriting, is a fantastic book which goes into formatting and discusses the very same issues discussed here..

Here's some interesting links:

Charles Deemer's web site

Charles Deemer's Literary Archive

Charles Deemer's book on line

Charles Deemer's opinion of StoryCraft software

Charles Deemer's Screewnwrite: The Craft Of Screenwriting at Amazon

Interesting web site which compares different views of formatting.

Screenwriters Web <- good site this!

Quoted from spencerforhire

Question??? Is there a website that lists power verbs in place of certain words?

The Rhetoric of Action
From the Winter, 1995, issue of Creative Screenwriting

Power Verb list which needs reworking for script useage

A good blogspot on writing screenplays

The Secrets Of Action Screenwriting (Paperback)
by William C. Martell

The above book by Martell is apparently sold out - must be good then!

by John Winston Rainey
published in Hollywood Scriptwriter June 2005 issue

Just type in google:

"Power Verbs in Screenplays"


"Action Verbs in Screenplays"

There's lots of articles and suggestions out there..

Keep a thesuarus close by your computer for quick reference..

Susggestion: make an Excel file with power verbs as alternatives to "walks" and other over used redundant words which will help to light up your screenplay writing..

Hope this stuff helps..

No problem with the editing on your script, enjoyed doing it..


Private Message Reply: 10 - 13
Posted: May 23rd, 2006, 9:10pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

I'm seriously troubled.....

Tulsa, Oklahoma
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I always enjoy a story that involves.....

fat people squeezed into karate pj's
and cannibalism.

go figure.

I noticed a few typos and such but you know that by now.  

most of the above comments have already made great points so I'll just end this by saying....

good job.

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Private Message AIM Reply: 11 - 13
Posted: May 24th, 2006, 4:39pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

I'm still SCREAMING!

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Sorry for the delay in reading the new version.

I think that the story has improved greatly from the original version and I'm not going to re-iterate the other reviews so for me, all I will say is it was good.I enjoyed it!

A spoon does not know the taste of soup, nor a learned fool the taste of wisdom.
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Posted: July 12th, 2006, 7:59pm Report to Moderator
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I just read this Spencer.

You're going to have to use my comments from Master Lee as my review and I'll just mention some of the new stuff.


You do a great job of making Jimbo totally discusting, yuck's all I can say.

On page 1 Kong says to Jimbo that he's a good customer. My neighbours own a couple of Chinese restaurants in town and according to them (they're Chinese) they hate when fat people come in to their restaurants. They always try to keep the prices reasonable and according to them, fat people eat for more than the cost of the food. Just thought I would mention that, it stuck out to me as unrealistic.

Pg2,  one skinny women - woman
Ditto that same problem on page 16

I must be really slow because I never made the connection from Hunan to human until the very end, or maybe that was just good writing on your part.

Nice job Spencer.  
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