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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Coffee & Inspiration Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: June 12th, 2006, 8:59pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Coffee & Inspiration by Mike Shelton - Comedy - A young writer with an odd case of writer's block spends the day in a coffee shop in search of inspiration, but gets far more than he could hope for when a wide variety of characters including a lounge singer, a germophobe, and an indentured servant stripper filter in throughout the night. 104 pages - pdf, format


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Shelton
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Thanks for getting this up, Don.

I wrote this as a "short feature" with an ultra low budget in mind, keeping the entire script in a single location.

If nothing else, I hope it comes out as a somewhat realistic character study, and how random everyday things can be interesting, but that's probably just the people watcher in me.

On the plus side, it gave me an opportuninty to bring back one of my favorite characters, even if it is in a somewhat different role.

Hope you guys enjoy it.


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bert
Posted: June 13th, 2006, 12:35pm Report to Moderator
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I'll take first shot at this one since I know who is "in" here and want to see what you've done with him.

SPOILERS:


*  The page numbers should also be in Courier.
*  Barb says, "...running off to the big city."  When is this set?  Is it contemporary? Where is this set?
*  For Del's intro, have the bell DING O.S., then we see him.  And describe him.  Actually, you describe very few of your characters except for their ages.  For a character-driven piece like this you should give us more.
*  Dialogue snafu for Del on page 34.  Should be "Don't know if that..."  And give Gabe a "?" on page 40.
*  On page 41, the sentence doesn't make it clear who Yago is hitting -- we assume it's Gabe, but it could also be Jack the way it's written.
*  After Jack makes his call and the guys show up, it reads as if they shoot Yago with guns.  It only becomes clear later that they didn't.  You should describe those "shots to the stomach" differently.


You've got a real knack for dialogue, Mike -- I'll give you that yet again -- it makes me jealous how easy you make it look.  But I have to say that honestly this story didn't really grab me for a good while.  I kept with it because I knew it was you, and was confident that we would get somewhere eventually -- but had this been an unknown author I probably would have shut it down about 20 pages in.

It was great to "see" Jack again, and when Hill returns, that is a pretty good payoff.  But I am feeling that it takes too long to get there.

This is 60 pages long -- and granted there is a lot of dialogue, and I suspect this would not play out at 60 minutes -- but I'm still feeling this piece could use a trim.

Maybe the feuding couple up front could be lost without losing too much of the story?

This piece is in pretty good shape, though, and works well for what it was intended to be.  Placing my criticisms aside, I still liked the story, and I liked the characters even more than story that surrounded them.

I would say wait for a few more comments before doing anything drastic to this one, though.  Another reader might not agree with me.  Wait and see, you know?


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Shelton
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Hey Bert,

Thanks for the read.  Based on what you've said, I think I kinda pulled off what I wanted, which was to make this more about the characters.  I do agree that they could probably use some more description, I just tend to avoid it unless absolutely necessary to ease potential casting.



Quoted from bert

*  Barb says, "...running off to the big city."  When is this set?  Is it contemporary? Where is this set?


This is set in the present, in a small town in the Midwest.  Not the most up to date line I know, but I was trying to imply that small town feel where nothing really goes on.


Quoted from bert

*  Dialogue snafu for Del on page 34.  Should be "Don't know if that..."  And give Gabe a "?" on page 40.


Thanks for the catches.


Quoted from bert

*  On page 41, the sentence doesn't make it clear who Yago is hitting -- we assume it's Gabe, but it could also be Jack the way it's written.


When I was reading back through this yesterday, I noticed that myself.  Thanks for confirming that it's misleading.


Quoted from bert

*  After Jack makes his call and the guys show up, it reads as if they shoot Yago with guns.  It only becomes clear later that they didn't.  You should describe those "shots to the stomach" differently.


That one I didn't catch.  Thanks for that.



Quoted from bert


* But I have to say that honestly this story didn't really grab me for a good while.  I kept with it because I knew it was you, and was confident that we would get somewhere eventually -- but had this been an unknown author I probably would have shut it down about 20 pages in.


This in and of itself was relatively difficult to write.  I kept thinking, How can I make this as close to everyday life as possible, while still making it interesting and keeping it on location.  I guess the challenge of it all was what really motivated me to write it.  I can definitely see it as being a little slow starting, and I appreciate you sticking with it.


Quoted from bert
It was great to "see" Jack again, and when Hill returns, that is a pretty good payoff.  But I am feeling that it takes too long to get there.


To be totally honest, I think he really gives the script a shot to the jugular when he shows up.  Sure, the reluctant stripper and germophobe are nice touches, but the pace really moves when he gets there, which is somewhat late, I'll agree.


Quoted from bert
This is 60 pages long -- and granted there is a lot of dialogue, and I suspect this would not play out at 60 minutes -- but I'm still feeling this piece could use a trim.

Maybe the feuding couple up front could be lost without losing too much of the story?


They could go.  Their only real purpose is to help establish Barb as an experienced "watcher".


Quoted from bert
This piece is in pretty good shape, though, and works well for what it was intended to be.  Placing my criticisms aside, I still liked the story, and I liked the characters even more than story that surrounded them.

I would say wait for a few more comments before doing anything drastic to this one, though.  Another reader might not agree with me.  Wait and see, you know?


I'm glad you enjoyed the characters.  This at least lets me know that I'm moving in the right direction.  This will probably sit for a bit to gain some more comments, before I really do anything with it.  Actually, I have no choice on that, as I'm deep into this other thing I'm working on right now, and it's taking up just about all of my writing time.

Rapture/Chris,

Thanks for looking.  I hope you enjoy the finished product.



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Combichrist
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I liked the Characters in this script, and the plucky dialouge. Found myself reading on and on, the descriptive passage just draws you into the action.

Although I was at an end as to the location of the setting. I was aware that Gabe was in Newyork, and that he thought it was not like home But I did not understand where home for him was.

All in all I think this is a great script, and found myself lost as I read on and on. Good work Mike.


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Shelton
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BP,

Thanks for your comments.  

Gabe's hometown is somewhat generic.  The only thing is really said about it is that it's in the Midwest, and it's not exactly bursting with activity.  I kind of have an underlying, uh, "submission" reason for this.  

Thanks again.


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Martin
Posted: June 15th, 2006, 6:37pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Mike,

I read this earlier but I didn't have a chance to write notes at the time, so forgive me if this review's a little vague.

I found very few problems from a technical standpoint (Bert fished out the typos I spotted)

I see you attempted something different here, and I think it worked for the most part. It's very character and dialogue driven. It read like a lighthearted sitcom/TV drama, and I mean that in a good way. In fact, with a few trims here and there, this could easily be a sitcom pilot.

You have some interesting characters, I especially liked the Bum and the germ freak. Bert's right about the introductions though. I still haven't read Jack beyond the 30 pages you sent me when it was in progress, so Jack's introduction felt kind of weak. There's a great opportunity to say something about his character in a brief intro paragraph, you can even get away with a little 'tell' here. Same goes for the other characters.

Your dialogue is excellent as usual. I'm jealous of how easily you make it flow from page to page. That's a real talent. I think it could use a trim in places, there is some repeated info in there, I'm sure you'll find that stuff in the rewrite.

I'm not sure what your plans are for this, Mike, but I'll throw out a suggestion for you: Rewrite it in a TV format, work out your act breaks in a four act structure and use that as a guide. I think it'd help you keep it interesting because the story does kind of wander at times. The structure was difficult to spot and this kind of structure might be useful to keep it on track.

Anyway, I probably had some other stuff to say, but I've forgotten it.

This was a good read. Enjoyable characters, great dialogue, a tad short on story which is probably what gave it the sitcom feel.

It was a fun read.

BTW, in Scarface, Tony Montana's Cuban. I'm sure you know this, but I remember that part sticking out when I read it. Sure, Pacino's Italian, but, well, I dunno. It's late

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Martin,

Thanks for the read, you brought up a few points that I really hadn't thought about.  Mainly, writing this in TV structure.  I don't think I've EVER actually thought about writing anythign for TV, but it's a good point.

The second thing is in the "telling".  I usually try to avoid this like the plague, but for intro purposes I think it could work.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with this one, but somebody did take a look at it, liked it, and has passed it on to their partner to check out as well.

Yeah, Scarface is Cuban

I was just thinking, smarmy, gangster looking Italian guy, and plugged in the most popular name I could think of.  Actually, this is the second script I've mentioned Scarface in, and there's a third one on the way, but it WILL fit there, I promise.

Thanks again.


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James McClung
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Thought I'd check this out. After reading a 114 action script, a 63 page drama seemed the way to go.

- I think Gabe would want to be a little more detailed in his notes. I mean, he�s writing a book here. He�s got to have the goods. Yet all he writes is 8:18 � �The Breakup.� He and Barb have already established that hushed voices and rolling eyes are telltale signs of a breakup. Wouldn�t Gabe want to include stuff like this in his notes?

- I�m starting to notice that every time a new character is introduced, they ask if Gabe is still working on his book and his response is always the same. Getting a little repetitive, don�t you think? I mean, we learn something about that character and occasionally a little something more about Gabe as well but I think these exchanges need something more. Something to make each of them different.

- Gabe�s a writer. Perhaps I�m wrong but shouldn�t writers be open to ideas? Gabe doesn�t seem to be as he is quick to dismiss or criticize Cam�s ideas. He should be questioning them, sure, but out of curiosity. His end point is valid but I still think he could come to that conclusion a different way. Just a thought.

- If Gabe is under the presumption that these guys are gangsters, why would he even think about mentioning the word �snitch�, let alone asking them if they were gangsters? Not a smart move in the slightest. The fact that they turned out to be car salesmen was funny but, again, I think you could reach this conclusion a different way.

- How does Barb have a fifty if the tip was forty five?

- Lily�s outburst comes too soon. Perhaps Del could try to get it out of her and take it a little too far. He wouldn�t have to look like a jerk. If Lily�s that insecure about being a stripper, it wouldn�t take long before she cracked but I think after being asked once is too soon.

- Lose Jack�s response to Yago�s line after getting thrown out of the diner. The Oz homage is obvious, I think, therefore Jack�s line is too much. It�s like telling a joke then having someone else say why it�s funny. So yeah. Lose it.

This was a very enjoyable read. I liked the characters and I think they were interesting enough to carry the script on dialogue alone. At feature length, I'm not so sure. Maybe. I also enjoyed the humor. A lot of great quirky situations and dry one-liners. I don't know why this is in the drama section to tell you the truth. I mean, this does kind of straddle between comedy and drama quite well but I expect most of my dramas to be comedy free. Anyway, it doesn't really matter. I enjoyed Franklin's character and the mafia/car salesmen subplot was hilarious. It was cool to get a little taste of Jack as well, even though I haven't read that script.

There doesn't seem to be a plot in sight nor is there a lot of action but you say this was meant to feel like everyday life and, to an extent, you succeeded, and I don't mind dialogue. I, myself, enjoy writing it as much as I do action and such. The whole thing kind of reminded me of Clerks in that it seemed to be a collection of quirky randomness that was amusing nevertheless. All in all, a very entertaining read. I was basically able to read this in a single sitting, which I don't do a lot. Good job, Mike.



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James,

Thanks for checking it out.

I think I had Gabe take notes the way he did, in order to keep the flow going, and to serve as basic reminders of things he sees.  The breakup?  Oh yeah, that couple that spoke in hushed tones, etc. etc.  Something like that.

Yeah, I may have gone a little overboard with asking about the book.  Just trying to establish that these people knew each other for the most part.

Gabe dismissing Cam threw you off?  Hmm.  In a roundabout way, Cam's advice was for gabe to basically write, a book.  No plot suggestions or anything, just the general format of a book.

I was a little hesitant about the snitch thing myself, but I took the chance to have a better payoff later on.

Barb gets a fifty for a five dollar tab, equaling a forty five dollar tip.

Your comment on Lily's revelation makes sense.  I just didn't want any overkill since I knew I was going to use it more later on.

I'm glad you found it to be an enjoyable read.  It was fun to use Jack again, although he's probably just a little different in this one than in his own script.  In this one he's more of a real guy, I think.

Yeah, not much plot here.  I just wanted to see how interesting I could make a real, down to earth, everyday situation.  There are a few odd quirks here and there, but it's totally possible for someone to spend some time in a coffee shop and see a great deal of this stuff.  Franklin could be a stretch, but it's still possible in everyday life.

I was a little hesitant to post this in Drama, but after looking through it a few times, I figured it was closer to that than Comedy.

Thanks again for the read and the feedback.


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Another nice one here Mike.  I really found this as an interesting read and as a character study as well.  You do a very good job of creating an entire cast of different characters with different personalities.  And your dialouge was superb.

I'm not going much into the problems I had because they weren't many and, well, everyone's already nailed them.  The one major problem I had was the fact that this story just seemed to end too quickly.  The climax was obviously Yago's "attack" at the end but he wasn't as interesting as the other characters so it just came out kind of lackluster.  I also would have loved to see the story end in the same way it started.  Gabe leaving the coffee shop and the script ends at him crossing the street like it started.  This is mostly just personal preference.  I have just always liked the idea of stories coming full circle.

In a way, this reminded me a lot of Clerks without all the obscene profanity.  That may have be a stretch but oh well...

Anyhoo, I'm just rambling at this point.  Great job once again Mike.


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Shelton
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T.I.N,

Thanks for the read, and for your compliments.  

Hmm, the ending was abrupt?  May need to go back into that.  When I was writing it, I kind of got to a point where I felt it should just end, despite it's length since things may have gotten a little old.  I would have liked to have had Jack in there a bit more though, so maybe I'll try to work that in.


Not a bad idea with having the story go full circle, since I enjoy that kind of ending myself.  The way the current ending is, I'd have to do a little bit of tooling, but nothing major.  Probably just a matter of having Gabe leave as well, or him instead of Jack, but something minor nonetheless.

Always nice to get a Clerks comparison, even if it is a stretch.  

Thanks again.


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One review for the man that would leave his wife for Rachel Leigh Cook coming up...

I have to hand it to you, Mike.  This script has got to be one of the most visually adapted screenplays I have ever read.  Every single line of it I imagined and had a real good image of.  Very cool.

This didn't even read like a screenplay.  It read like I was actually there in the diner with them.  I can't really explain it.  You did a wonderful job of describing the events and characters.

The dialogue was spot on.  Some of the best dialogue I have read.  It wasn't rigid at all and was very realistic.  Each character seemed to have his/her own style too which is always a plus.  

And on to the big man.  Jack was awesome.  He was that bad ass, swift talker that can light up any room he walks into.  I like how you had Gabe unconscious for his stories and waking up at the end, but still being intrigued with the man.  Very nice touch.

Very nice script, Mike.  I almost didn't want it to end.  For 63 pages it really moved along like a feature that did not drag.  I really can't think of something bad with this.  Other than a few minor typos, it was a grat piece of writing.

  
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Wow, thanks Guy.  So much so, that I'm not even sure how to respond to your post...lol.

Usually, I have at least one thing that I have to talk about, but you seemed to enjoy everything, so thanks.  I guess if I have something to respond to, it would be your comments on my descriptions.

I used to be absolutely terrible with them (others can confirm this) and have worked really hard to make them better and more concise in recent months, so thanks for pointing that out to me.

I usually peruse the "screenplays wanted" ads looking for an opportunity to pitch this, since I think it would make a nice low budget film, but I run into problems because of its length.  Is it a short, is it a feature?  You know.  I usually go with the latter since it's far too long to be a short.

Overall, I'm just glad you enjoyed it.  It adds more validity to my crackpot notion that I could create an interesting script that really doesn't have a plot.

Thanks again.


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Hmm, this is very interesting script. not sure what to say about it. I don't think I would care to see a movie made off this script. not my cup of tea. (coffee)  However it was worth reading this script just to see how natural, skillful dialouge should look in words on paper.

Dialouge is tough to do and it requires a lot of effort to write in a way that does not seem wooden or word perfect.  You certainly have a flare for writing dialouge that is not only natural but also unique to each character. I like that.

Franklin the clean freak  trapped in the rest room was amusing. so to was Del the cook who has nothing to cook because everyone orders coffee. These little details are excellent and makes your script a pleasure to read.

The only thing missing from your story is a . . . well . . . how can I put this? A story. You have writen a story that has no story. I only quickly glanced over the messages above before I wrote this. I think you said it was your intention to write a script that has no plot.  All this script shows is that you have mastered writing great dilaouge. But what about a plot and character?

Is this what you have wanted to write: a day in the life of a coffee shop or was this script just an excercise in writing dialouge? I am just curious.

I loved your writing and dialouge. I am keen to look at your other stuff.  


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