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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Neck of the Woods Moderators: bert
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  Author    Neck of the Woods  (currently 2184 views)
Don
Posted: June 28th, 2006, 9:45pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Neck of the Woods by Gary Kohatsu (abe from la) - Short, Horror - Two university students transport a crate of artifacts through a forest.  But on this night, the serial killer on the loose is not the worst nightmare. 39 pages - pdf, format


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bert
Posted: June 29th, 2006, 7:43am Report to Moderator
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I see you, Abe.  Wish this had gone up a little earlier when I had some time to give.

Have only given part of this a quick buzz-over for now, but I like what I see.

It's funny how the staccato style of your posts translates into your writing.

Some of your descriptions read more like bullets -- incomplete sentences that just crackle on the page -- and it really works for you.

So, yeah -- I'll be getting to this one.


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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Abe from LA
Posted: June 29th, 2006, 1:52pm Report to Moderator
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Okay, Bert.
Going on vacation for two weeks.  What timing.
So I won't be around.  

Abe
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The boy who could fly
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Hi Abe,

This was a very well written short, I would love to see this as a feature

You write your descriptions very well, very easy to imagine.

Your dialog is also top notch, it felt very real.

"You to Gidget"  HAHA, That was a great line, I also like the Mickey and Malory reference.

I loved how the story flowed and how I had no idea what the story was really about, but I did have a gut feelingwho the killer was once all the characters were introduced.

If there is a weakness it's that the characters are not very likeable, there was no one really who I wanted to see make it out alive, but on the other hand they were really well written and very drawn out.

In the end I thought this was a great short with good dialog, story, and descriptions.  Great job


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bert
Posted: June 30th, 2006, 4:20pm Report to Moderator
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Abe -- why so shy about putting your stuff out there?  Like I mentioned in my earlier post, I really like your style -- the short sentences make for a very quick read, and the piece sometimes feels as if it were racing past.

Great momentum to this one, and a nasty little story it is, too.

A lot of this is just nit-pick, but I figured I at least owed it to you to toss out absolutely every error I could spot or question I could conjure, you know?

SPOILERS:

*  Not sure I know what a "blast" of stars is.  I might pick a different noun there.  Especially since it's our very first line.  And the "meet" thing for Dawn.  I've seen that once or twice before, and I am not sure I care for it.  But I really can't tell you why.
*  "The Dead of Night" has too many CAPS in it.  
*  You have Dawn put out her cigarette after, like, 30 seconds.  They are just talking.  It's OK for her to keep smoking, I think.  "You're uglier in person" is great.  Maybe she could blow smoke in his face when she delivers this line, since she will still have the butt going.
*  U-Wee?  I know what you mean, but are you sure that's how it's spelled?
*  "...heavier than the Dead Sea" doesn't make sense to me.
*  I like how Rudy turns on Dawn on page 30.  That's pretty funny, and well within the bounds of his character.
*  On page 32, don't write it as under.  I don't think you are ever supposed to do that.  For special emphasis, use CAPS.  At least, that is my understanding of it.
*  At the very end, I don't like the way you "flash forward" with the radio broadcasts.  If you just go with a simple V.O. for these, people will still get the point that it has happened at some point in the near future.  I mean, obviously, since he is right there in front of us.  But then at the very, very end, you seem to imply something else.  That he isn't going to make it out of this desert after all.  I was a little confused by that.


So, what I really liked about this story is how there are so many twists for such a small number of characters. It seems as if everybody's motives are suspect at any time.  I particularly enjoyed that aspect of this script. TBWCF, above, makes a fair point when he claims that all of these characters are somewhat unlikable, and there is really nobody to root for, but I don't think that's a problem here.  This is a nasty little story populated with ugly people -- although I admit that I ended up liking Dawn by the time this one was over -- which says something about the way you handled her character.

The question of why Dawn was just wandering around out there, a half-mile away from where she actually wanted to be, was never really answered.  You touch on something about her boyfriend dumping her out there, but I wasn't quite clear on where you were going with that.

I suppose we could also ask why the coffin was out there -- in the desert -- buried under a few branches.  It seemed kind of odd that it was just...there, you know?  Come up with a reason.  Then have Rudy ask Dawn directly why it's out there.  And then she can tell him.  Easy fix.  I understood later that they needed to draw him out, but early on in the story, it's just too strange to buy into it completely.  Who stores stuff out in the desert?  It just seems like Rudy would want an explanation.

There is also the question of Ian.  Dawn does not want to pick up Ian.  It is Rudy's decision all the way.  So, why does Rudy want to pick up Ian?  The "what about the killer" explanation doesn't work when we find out who Rudy really is.  Why on Earth would Rudy stop to pick up anybody?  Especially a dude?  This also needs a reason if everything is to fall neatly into place.

But like I said at the outset -- all of these are fine points -- and none of these things serve to dilute the impact of this story very much.  It still works great on its own terms.

So, Abe, I suspected you knew what you were doing when you dissected my little story, and it is great to see you finally putting something out there of your own -- and to learn that you've been hiding some talent from us.

This is a really competent piece of work, Abe.  You've got great style and a unique voice.

I highly recommend this one to readers that might be looking to check out a "new" author around here.


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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CindyLKeller
Posted: July 1st, 2006, 8:19am Report to Moderator
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Hey Abe,

Just finished reading your script. I like the way you write your descriptions. You make everything so vivid.



SPOILERS

I don't want to give away much. Just want to make some comments.

I liked the way the story started out with a little mystery, then kept getting darker as the story went on.
Any one of them could have been the killer.
I liked the characters. Dawn was a bad a**.   I also liked the way Rudy interacted with her...
Refrigerator? LOL
The twists were pretty neat, visual, and life like.   I kept reading and wondering what was going to happen next, then the ending made me raise my brow and say "Whoa, cool".

This was a very entertaining piece of work.   It's nice to start the day off with a smile.

Cindy


Award winning screenwriter
Available screenplays
TINA DARLING - 114 page Comedy
ONLY OSCAR KNOWS - 99 page Horror
A SONG IN MY HEART - 94 page Drama
HALLOWEEN GAMES - 105 page Drama
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Balt
Posted: July 4th, 2006, 11:35pm Report to Moderator
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Everyone kinda went over everything so I really haven't felt the need to review this one... I just wanted to say that "by & large" this was a good script.  

I read it on the pretense it sounded a lot like a script I wrote called "WHATTA' DRAG" but it turned out to be nothing like it at all.

In my script we had 2 down on their luck thugs Hired to drag two large crates through the woods to a cemetery. They then meet a man who'd take them off their hands and In turn compensate them. However they didn't get compensated but instead got what was inside the crates...

Anyways, enough about my script... Your script is really good. I liked pretty much everything about it. The characters, the dialogue "for the most part" , the setting and the hooks you laid out... It was all really good.

When you get that from me... believe it's good.

I can't wait to read more from you, actually.
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Mr.Z
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I wonder why this one isn’t getting more reads since it’s a very solid piece of work, and I remember the author being around for some time posting detailed reviews from other scripts.

I like your writing style, Abe. Short and dry sentences, but not too dry; some “novelish” spice here and there. You’re very clever in choosing the right words for your descriptions, but sometimes you focus on this a little too much, and drags the reader away from the story (i.e. “--Speak of the devil--“).

Sharp and witty dialogue. Rudy and Dawn made me chuckle several times.

These forty pages flowed real fast, but I wonder if they aren’t too much for a story like this one. Maybe Dawn and Rudy chatted a little too much, maybe you could cut some bits of dialogue (i.e. when they tell stories to each other).

*SPOILERS*

I liked the story. Kept me guessing the whole time. Each of the characters end up being someone different; didn’t see the vampire thing coming or Ian being a cop.

You achieved a decent quota of originality with the so overused vampire theme, good job on that. And you managed to mix a vampire plot with a serial killer plot, without turning your script into a mess.

I only had a couple of minor beefs with the story.

I don’t know how you could do this otherwise but I have to tell you, in whatever movie of whatever genre, each time a character turns on a radio or TV just in time to hear news related to him or the plot, I laugh. In the bad way. Ironically, by repeating the use of this plot device you made it fit a little bit better on the script; the serial killer thing was hot on the news and the newscaster seemed to have been reporting it for a long time. So Rudy hearing such news felt less like coincidence. Still, I hate this plot device, and I think this script (or any script) will look better without it.

On  p.5 you’ve got a  “INT. PICKUP TRUCK – NIGHT” slugline followed by an identical slugline in the next scene. Makes the reader wonder why the writer is putting a new slug at all. Changing it for a “INT. PICKUP TRUCK – LATER” would look a little bit better, IMO.

Use V.O. for the voices coming out of the radio instead of RADIO.

Is “EXT. LONGBED OF PICKUP – NIGHT” supposed to be the same location as  “EXT TRUCK BED – NIGHT” ?? If they are, it’s better to use identical sluglines for identical locations.

Bert makes a good point about the “Under” in bold and underlined.

I really enjoyed this one, Abe. Looking forward to read something more from you.



Revision History (1 edits)
Mr.Z  -  July 10th, 2006, 4:28pm
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Breanne Mattson
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I think this is very well written. Technically, there’s nothing to complain about. It was obviously gone over and perfected. The grammar and spelling, etc., are superb. This is the kind of work that puts the first draft “I wrote this in twelve hours and posted it as soon as possible” scripts to shame.

****SPOILERS****

Story wise, I found it to also be very well done. Up until the vampire part, I thought it was enthralling and genuinely frightening. I’m not that hard to scare, especially alone at night, but I’m not easily scared unless something is well written and compelling. This was.

Only when the vampires entered the story did it start to lose its footing for me. One of the most chilling aspects up to that point was the realism. Once the vampires entered, it was like the realism sort of flew out the window for me. It was still very good but it had lost that certain something it had up to that point.

Here are some notes I made while reading:

Moon, like a cut tooth? -- I missed the meaning here.

I’m confused as to why Rudy keeps calling Dawn a hitchhiker when they supposedly planned to meet. If he’s supposedly there for a job, then why does he keep implying they met by sheer fluke. He calls her a hitchhiker and mentions that she’s lucky he came along. Was their meeting planned or coincidental?

I think the reasons for a coffin being hidden in the woods need to be made clearer.

Bling, a thought - I don’t understand this.

Too much cigarette smoking in too short of a period. It became rather redundant feeling.

I thought Ian was the killer because he said he was a media junkie, which a serial killer might be and because you described him much the same way as the BTK killer. Good throw off.

I’m not sure it’s best to foreshadow Gatlin’s demise with the radio non response. The very first time Ian attempts to contact him and gets no response, it’s obvious what happened. I think it would be best to not have Ian attempt to contact Gatlin until what’s currently the last time, right before we hear the static coming from the coffin. You won’t have the earlier foreshadowing but I think this is one of those rare cases where it will work best without it. That way, we’ll hear the static and have the truth lower onto us before we can deduce what happened.

The ending seemed to be a bit conflicted. Are we to believe Rudy is arrested in the near future or killed by vampires? If he’s to be killed, then why wouldn’t Dawn or Lockwood just kill him instead of setting him up?

Overall, I thought it was a job well done. I really appreciated the high caliber technical skill and crafting. It was also a good story with some genuinely frightening moments. The vampire stuff doesn’t do much for me. With the sole exception of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I’ve always found vampire stories to be a little hokey. But this is one of the better ones and the vampire stuff was part of a larger picture and with such a well written piece, it wasn’t detrimental to the whole. Overall, it was a very well written and enjoyable read. If one’s going to write horror, this is the way to do it.


Brea




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Breanne Mattson  -  July 11th, 2006, 12:44pm
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tomson
Posted: July 11th, 2006, 10:08pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Mr.Z
I wonder why this one isn’t getting more reads since it’s a very solid piece of work, and I remember the author being around for some time posting detailed reviews from other scripts.

I printed this one out last week, but I did not hurry with it, since I think I read somewhere he was going on vacation for two weeks.  

Abe, I really liked this! I remember liking the short comedy for the OWE too and it being one of my favorite entries as well.

I REALLY like your descriptions. Short, but containing as much vivid information as possible. In my humble opinion this is your strongest side.

The dialogue was really good too and seemed very authentic to me.

The story itself was very good, but in my opinion the weakest of three.
Action (description), dialogue and story.

SPOILERS:

"you're uglier in person" haha, that was great.

I know a lot was explained at the end, but one thing that bugged me throughout reading was "why was the coffin in the woods in the first place".

on page 17, when Dawn says they can't open the casket no matter what I started to have thoughts of vampires and monsters.

on page 19, for some reason I started to have these visions of Lucy and Ethel driving down to Florida. haha, I love that one.

on page 25, I was convinced Ian was the bad guy. Good job fooling me.

on page 26, I liked how Dawn all of a sudden clings to Rudy, seemingly seeking protection. (you totally threw me for a loop later)

on page 29, Your script was so perfectly formatted, spelled and grammatically correct that when I found a typo I got all excited. It's crocodile - not crocadile, haha

This was a really, really nice script.
It was a little less exciting at the end with the vampires and I think it could probably loose some of the chatty stuff between Dawn and Rudy to make it shorter. It was not bad dialogue at all, don't take me wrong, but maybe a little too much of a good thing.

Great stuff!  
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MacDuff
Posted: July 12th, 2006, 1:24am Report to Moderator
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Abe!

SPOILERS

I promised I would read your stuff and here I am. I seem to be a little behind the rest of the crew, and everyone above me has basically covered what I would say.

So, as an overall opinion: I absolutely loved the script. The dialogue was tight and perfect and the action zipped by. You definitely have a talent for quick, informative, tight sequences. It read superbly.

Like Pia, I knew right away that a coffin = vampires. But you made up for that by throwing in the other twists that kept the story fresh.

This is one of the best short scripts I've read in a while.

Congrats.


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Abe from LA
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Back from vacation on Monday.  I attended a family (wife's side) wedding in Hawaii.  It was my first time on the Islands and my only regret was that I missed my chance at tasting Matsumoto's "shave ice" in Hale'iwa, on the island of Oahu.  Mats' snow cones are the stuff legends are made of, so I'm told.
I had a plane to catch and there were about 25-30 people in line.  We tried Aoki's -- some say their shave ice is just as good as Mats -- down the road, but the line was no shorter.  Sigh.

Anyway, thank you to all who have read my short.  I'm thrilled that so many of the 'best' writers on this board are giving me feedback.

TBWCF -- You nailed something that a screenwriting teacher once told me.  As in this story, I don't write 'likeable' characters.  Not that I think it's vital in this short script, but it's a part of my game that I forgot about.
The truth is, I don't write likeable characters well.  They always read flat.  Quirky works better for me, I guess.

Bert -- The blast of stars line is a metaphor for buckshot from a shotgun.  I think.  I actually stole that from some short story I once read.  The author used shotgun blast and I shortened it to blast.
You  got me on the Dead of Night caps thing.  I was trying to foreshadow the vampire element.  Caps weren't really necessary.
- yeah, I overdid the cigarette smoking bit.  Dawn, being what she is, doesn't really smoke, so I should have had her smoke one cig.  It was supposed to be for effect.
- Dawn doesn't blow smoke in Rudy's face right off because I didn't want it to appear she was deliberately nasty.  I wanted it to appear that her antics were provoked, for the most part.
-  I have no idea how Uwee or Uee is really spelled.  As they say in J-school, if you really don't know something, write what you think and if it's wrong, you'll hear about it. -- (the days before the internet, obviously).
--  Dead Sea?  Yeah, it's a dead line.  I'll dump it.
--  the underlining of the word 'under' should indeed be caps.  I wrote it and never gave it a second thought, until you mentioned it.  Talk about blind spots.
-- The ending with the flash forward, it seems I can never get that right.  I've tried it before on something else I wrote and some people in one of my classes didn't like it because they flatout didn't know what was happening.  Hmm...

You've nailed me on quite a few valid points.  Thank you.  On other points, I'll explain that later.

-- Cindy, thanks for the read.  I really did not want to write a stereotypical "woman in jeopardy" situation.  I like strong women characters.  Always.  I guess that's why I have respect for films like "Hard Candy." And even "High Tension," although I hated the ending.
There was a chapter of Friday the 13th (I forget the number) in which Jason goes up against a young woman with telekenetic powers.  I didn't care much for the film, but I loved the premise.

-- Wow, I passed the Baltis read test.  That's pretty flattering.

I know you'd tear me a new a****** if the story didn't do its job, for the most part.
Now you've got me curious about your short "WHATTA' DRAG."

--
Mr. Z, you've probably got it right when you mentioned that it's overwritten.  It is.  I was aware of it and have been thinking about lopping off about 10 pages.  I think 30 pages is enough.

Well, the radio thing is not going to bang everybody's drum.  I've had people in screenwriting classes that practically wretch at such devices.  

I did not even catch the Page 5 int. pickup truck slug mess-up.  I'll take a look and fix that.

--  Breanne,

Yes, I put time into this story.  I totally agree with you that too many writers rush to post.  Nothing will be perfect, but for writers not to at least check for obvious typos and the like marks them amateurs.

I find it interesting that the vampire story line didn't cut it for you.  And neither the line about the cut tooth.  Yikes.  I've got to watch my metaphors and descriptions. Bert didn't like the 'blast' of stars.  

The hitchhiking thing is more murky than It should be.  My fault.  I'll explain more about this vampire thing and the subtle and not-so-subtle elements dealing with vampirism at the end of this post.

'Bling, a thought' is really just a style of the old lightbulb of an idea scene. My using that is probably influenced by Shane Black.  He got away with much worse lines back in the '80s, but yeah, readers roll their eyes over such remarks.  Mr. Z pointed out that the --Speak of the Devil-- line wasn't necessary either.

Good point about the Gatline/Static scene.  I knew I was pushing it by having Ian radio Gatlin twice.  Once is enough.  Nice call.

Pia --

Ah, but you have spotted my greatest weakness.  I am not a very good story teller.  Never have been, even while taking fiction writing courses at CSULB.  I was always the guy who wrote messy, disturbing stories that people couldn't quite figure out.

As my wife points out, I have no real stories to tell -- at least in mixed company.  I've never been one to tell stories.  never.  So, how odd that I find myself trying to write fiction.  Go figure.

Hey, I was an Ian McEwan wannabe.  He was my inspiration way back.  But HIS quirky stories worked.

Lucy and Ethel?  Haha.  I remember that episode.  Yeah, I can see how that could creep into one's thought.

Crocadile?  That stupid FD spellcheck.  Oh, sorry, I'm the stupid one here.  I think I threw that goofy crocadilly line in at the last moment and now it's biting me in the a**.

Yes, this story was too talky.  It's one of those situations where I hoped it wasn't, and when people say "hey, too much chatter," it's like the logical side of my brain says See! What'd I Tell you!!
I've got to bite the bullet and start cutting.
  
--  McDuff.  Stewart.  Thanks for your words of praise.  I was hoping you'd give me your blessings, or if nothing else, some pointers.  If much of it works for you, than I'm encouraged.

SPOILERS

I started this script in early 2005, with two thoughts in mind.  Write it cheap and then make it cheaper.

My thoughts were to see if I could sustain tension between two characters in a horror story, with a minimum of settings and effects.  Something that I could make -- if I can figure out how to make a  film.
I submitted this story to the American Gem short story contest in '05, or whatever it was called, and at the last minute, I wrote the monster scene.  I also added the Ian character because the story seemed to hit a point in which it was running out of steam.

Although I initially intended this to be a straight-forward serial killer meets vampire tale, I later switched gears and attempted to make it more of a psychological story.

Nobody picked up on the latter possibility, so I guess it didn't work.  Too many inconsistencies, I guess.

So, here goes how I wanted the story to work.

The vampires don't exist -- except in Rudy's twisted mind.  Dawn was a hitchhiker, already dead as reported on the radio.  The detectives are already dead; gunshot victims.
The whole story is about Rudy concocting some bizarre scenario to rationalize his actions -- until the end of the story, when he absolutely loses it.

He is willing to play the cat-and-mouse game with Dawn, because he wants to expose her.  A part of him knows he already killed her, but another part of him wants to believe she is a demon who has returned to life.
And he must kill her again.
He doesn't question finding the coffin in the woods, because he thinks the demons know who he is and are fleeing him. Thus vampires moving out.
He doesn't question how he and scrawny Dawn could possibly lift a casket weighing 400+ pounds, because demons/vampires have unusual strength.  She's doing the lifting, so he believes.

He justifies shooting Ian at the story's end, because the detective has turned into a demon.
When Dawn mentions things like vampires leave no finger prints and it is like she was never there, he takes that as a reason to explain how he is misunderstood -- the demons cover their tracks and make him look like the bad guy.  Hence, the years of therapy which did no good because he was never at fault.

It's kind of like taking Carl Kolchak (the Night Stalker reporter from TV yesterday) and carrying it out to a more psychotic end.  Is fighting monsters a deed bestowed upon the blessed, or the insane?

Rudy believes God watches over him and so he acts fearlessly.  But as the story procedes, his mind unravels.

As I say, the inconsistencies sink the story.  My biggest fatal flaw might be the Page One scene in which Dawn walks alone along the forest road.  I should have removed that.  Everything should be from Rudy's viewpoint.
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Mr.Z
Posted: July 13th, 2006, 7:06am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Abe from LA
Everything should be from Rudy's viewpoint.


*SPOILERS*

Now that I know that much of the story is in his mind, that sounds like a very good idea.



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MacDuff
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Quoted from Abe from LA

  
--  McDuff.  Stewart.  Thanks for your words of praise.  I was hoping you'd give me your blessings, or if nothing else, some pointers.  If much of it works for you, than I'm encouraged.



SPOILERS

No worries Abe,
I would have given a more indepth review, but I did not want to repeat what the fine folk above me already posted, especially since you are not a novice.

Now that I have read your foundation for the script though, I feel you may want to think about a small polish. If you can shift the story so that Rudy is the clear-cut protagonist, that will benefit the payoff. Also, now that we know this is basically a re-telling seen through Rudy's eyes (kinda like the movie Identity) to rationalize his actions, it may make it beneficial to clarify that by dropping some more hints that he is infact, crazy and the demons are in his head or that at the end, when you hit us with the payoff, that it is clear that he is a serial killer and the demons were/are made up.

Take Care,
Stewart


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Abe from LA
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Quoted from MacDuff
Also, now that we know this is basically a re-telling seen through Rudy's eyes (kinda like the movie Identity) to rationalize his actions, it may make it beneficial to clarify that by dropping some more hints that he is infact, crazy and the demons are in his head or that at the end, when you hit us with the payoff, that it is clear that he is a serial killer and the demons were/are made up.t


You're absolutely correct about more clues as to Rudy's sanity, or insanity.  I figure if Dawn is actually his alter ego, she might question something that he can't explain...  such as when Rudy grabs the blanket from the truck bed and throws it over the casket.  Maybe an article of womens clothing falls out.  Or something like that.
Anyway, more hints.  Thanks for the suggestion.
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