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I think that you're good at describing events and you move the script along at a steady pace. In all honesty, I didn't like the script much, but I think you're a pretty good writer, actually. The story just didn't quite appeal to me much, but I'm sure others will like it. It's a bit disturbing, which I'm sure was what you were going for.
A few mistakes I noticed:
1. You open the script with "Black", but you don't need it because your next line is of a description that we obviously couldn't see if it was black.
2. When writing the character names to indicate who is speaking, don't use a colon after the name. By just writing the character's name, it tells the reader who is speaking.
3. When you want the character to do a voice-over, don't put it in parentheses under the character's name; write it as (V.O.) next to the name (where you were putting the colon in your script).
it reads like a book trying to be a script. you have a woman who is having contractions in the bathroom. see how many descriptive lines you can cut/condense to get the bathroom scene to show us that. KISS. she makes it out of the bathroom, to the phone? scene change? she is pregnant, we are in her home, we see her pain, give her a name, right out of the gate. what is the reason you call her woman? so she can be any woman? no. give her a name. let her introduce herself. you named the kid. the other comment is right about format, but there are plenty of guides to get you through that mess. getting the story down is better than having the right format, problem is that if you have the story and you want someone to take you seriously, then you'll eventually have to get it into the right format.
"I know what you're thinking" then "how could i let myself get into this" Nope, wasn't thinking that. I was thinking, wow, she's going to have kid on the bathroom floor. So cut the "I know what you're thinking" part, and it reads better.
Well, randyshea, you hit the nail right on the head when you said it's a book trying to be a script.. I wrote this as a short story when I was sixteen. The only reason I even thought about turning into a screenplay is because I had a dream about it a couple of weeks ago.
I posted the wrong pdf. version of this script. (I would have never put my address and phone number on the net.) That's why the colons are there. The screenwriting software I have automatically puts them there after any dialogue. Sorry about that. I'll go through and edit those when I post anything else.
Usually, as a rule, I don't use camera directions (I.E.: BLACK SCREEN.) But for some God-knows-why reason, that's how I wanted to start this story off, with the woman panting as if it was a porn.
As for giving her a name, I did give her one in the short story, but I can't do that as a script for a couple of reasons. If you're watching the film, all the action only takes place with her. The only way the viewer would ever know her name is if she referred to herself in the third person. I don't think it matters if her name is Jennifer or Amanda or some other common name, it just matters that she feels alone in the world. She only named the kid because he was alive and that affected her. Herself as a person, she doesn't feel alive.
Now that I've reread it (again and again), 'How could I get myself into this?' is a pretty horrible line. I'll come up with something as a better introduction.
Thanks for reading this and once again, I'm sorry about the formatting issues. I promise not to have those when I post the next thing.
I saw that you've been reviewing a lot of scripts, so I thought I'd take a look at yours.
It's an interesting, original script. As for opening in black, I see no reason not to. It adds interest. That said, while you don't want to direct the camera, it's okay, I think, to color outside the lines once in a while -- not too often, though.
As for naming the woman, I wouldn't for the same reasons you articulate above. It simply isn't necessary.
As I for the story, there was, I thought, a disconnect between what was taking place and the comments that played over it. The woman's words seemed too coherent, too undisturbed. I say this because, given her situation, I find it difficult to accept that she'd be able to form such thoughts in an unruffled way. I wonder if you could convey what needs to be conveyed, while at the same time, doing it in a way that better reflects her situation? Or, thinking about it, maybe such a dicotomy is exactly what's called for.
Also, I was a bit confused. You shift tenses in mid paragraph. For example, you wrote, "A large part of me didn't want an ambulance there." Then, on the next line, you wrote, "I already know it's not going to survive, anyway." This caused me to question whether the voice-over was speaking with respect to a past event or a present one.
Over all I thought it was interesting. It certainly kept my attention. Some of the descriptives were very descriptive, very engaging. Others, though, were, I think, over written. You could drop a word here or there. "Giant," for example.
An interesting tale you have here. It caught me as a surprise. But there are a couple of problems I saw.
1) I think it will be in your best interest to give her a name since she is your only main character.
2) I'm not sure but shouldn't she be cut near her vagina area in order for her to give birth? Also, will she need to stitch herself up so the blood can stop rather than the blood stopping by itself? Unless there is a new method I think not.
3) Can you flush a baby down the toilet? I don't think so.
4) Extend the time frame by putting second headings such as LAter. Becuase all of this occuring in one hour or two is unreal (unless if u were heaing in that direction).
5) fix the descriptions since there are some areas that need to be visualize rather than telling. "Although seven months pregenant,..." how are we to know she's seven months pregenant? And fix some words such as "tears sprinkle down her cheeks". Sprinkle is not good.
Thanks for taking a look at this, Seth and Gabe. I like seeing what other people have to say, not only just for my stories, but this site in general I think helps any writer in the aspect of developing their craft. You can stare at your story day in and day out, then somebody comes along and notices a misspelled word in the third line of dialogue and it turns your world upside down with all the mistakes that you now realize.
As for issue #1) - I still stand firm, even though originally I did name her, I think it is the right decision not to put a name to the face. I don't think there's any way of letting the veiwer know her name without it coming off as cheesy.
Issue #2) - You're exactly right. I was only sixteen when I first wrote the outline for this, and not having any children myself, I hardly know anything about the technicallities of childbirth. (Don't ask me how I knew about afterbirth and placentas. I kind of shocked myself with that one. :-))
Issue #3) - I do know somebody who didn't find out she was pregnant until she was five months, though. Yes, she was a hardcore druggie, but she did have a healthy baby and carried him to full term. A lot of this story stems from me imagining what should've happened the way this woman abused herself. Thank God he didn't end up a 'test-tube baby'.
Issue #4) - You're giving me credit for an hour or two lapsing during the story. Hogan's Heroes is only a half-hour show. She gave birth and killed her baby within a half hour. This is a huge aspect of the story I over-looked. (Once again, I think this fits in with 'I'm staring at my screenplay for hours and hours'. Then somebody else takes a glance and points out the easiest mistake there is to see.)
Like Seth pointed out, I do see a lot of problems with the Voiceover, though. Not really with who she is or what she wants to do, but keeping the dialogue in present-tense. Rereading it with new eyes now helps me to make the story stand out a bit stronger.
Right off the bat: Have your title be in upper case letters, write in letter size 10 and always have your name be under the title. And always have a "fade in" at the start of a screenplay and a "fade out" at the end and NEVER a "fade in" or "fade out" anywhere else in the script. At least not extremely often, sometimes, maybe, when it's absolutely neccesary. Also have your page numbers be at the bottom right part of the page. You're supposed to write "day" or "night" at the end of every scene heading. Not a period.
No.. um... oh bloody hell, this is what I get for not being from an english speaking country! Never have eh... that thing that looks like two peroids on top of each other? Never have that after a characher name when they're about to speak, this is a screenplay, not a play. And don't write "voiceover" in your parenthetical, don't write "voiceover" at all. Write "(V.O)" and out it right next to the characher name as they're about to say something, not under.
"Although she's seven months pregnatn, her belly isn't very big"? This tells us, it doesn't show us, Show it, don't tell it. Tell us in dialouge that she's 7 months pregnant, not in your action paragraph.
Don't tell us what TV show plays on the tv. (not unless it's vital to the plot) That's for the director to decide. Just tell us that a TV show is playing on the tv in the background.
Why have you written "Scissors" in upper case? Don't do that.
Don't ever use "cut to:". Never.
Damned good marks for story! Low marks for format. You show REAL promise as a writer, you should definately keep it up!
When things go wrong I seem to be bad But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
Also have your page numbers be at the bottom right part of the page.
Don't listen to that...It's wrong.
Page numbers belong in the top right corner of the page. However, don't put a page number on the title page (if you can format it, start at 0 and don't show it) and if your software allows you to, you don't need a number on the first page either.
Not sure what kind of software you use, so I can't give you the hard facts for what to do here.
Let me start by saying that I have some real problems with the advice Daniel Toemta gave you. Use it with a grain of salt. Yes, you have some formatting issues, but I think you have a better idea of what those are now. It sounds like your software was the culprit for many of them. Get yourself Final Draft if you can. I'm sure there are other good ones as well, but I can recommend FD. Also, someone said something about a cut near the vagina? I'm not sure what that's all about. Babies come out of the vagina. Anyway...
I like where you were intending to go with the story (or maybe where I wanted you to go), but I think it fell short in the end. The voice over has been discussed and you seem open to revising it. I would highly suggest that. Who is she talking to? The audience? If so, why? Here we have a woman who proclaims to have nobody in her life. Nobody. She finally has someone in her life, if only for a moment, and she kills him. Maybe it was for the better, but I suspect that she would have a hard time coming to grips with her actions. I believe the VO would be better motivated if it were directed at Tyler - maybe explaining to him why she killed him.
There are some technical details I also feel you must pay serious attention to:
First off, you have a 7-month old baby that weighs only 12oz. My little boy was born 2 weeks ago, so I consider myself somewhat of an authority on pregnancy these days. When he was 7 months old he weighed 5lbs 5oz. Of course, my wife is not snorting coke on a regular basis, but nevertheless I have a hard time believing that the baby would weigh that little. That creates a 2nd problem... flushing him down the toilet. Can't do that. Even at 12oz, that would probably not be possible. Think of what a double-sided chicken breast looks like. That's about 12 oz. And the placenta is fairly large too, especially at 7 months. I think the safe bet is to scrap the toilet all together. You don't need it for effect.
Second, she has this line of VO, "Thinking back on it now, yes, I do realize that I had morning sickness in the beginning. But I thought it was just too much rum." The way she makes this statement, it sounds like she got sick only once. Unless, of course, she only drinks rum and drinks it every night. I would be less specific about the type of alcohol and revise the line to make it more obvious that it was a recurring theme - because ultimately that's exactly what morning sickness is within the first few months.
Lastly, she goes on to talk about her customers not knowing that she was pregnant. Her thought process at this point is valid - that these guys basically see her only as a piece of meat and don't even notice the most obvious things. However, the problem is how the VO is worded. You wrote, "They can't even tell what they're banging their cock up against." True! There's no way they could tell other than looking at her bulging belly. I'm not sure if you've ever had sex with a pregnant woman but it's no different. I don't mean to get to detailed about the birds and the bees, but the farthest a man's tool could ever go is to the cervix, which is closed until the woman goes into labor. This is actually what they're banging their cocks up against. The baby is behind the cervix, so it means nothing that a man couldn't tell that she was pregnant. Like I said before, the message makes sense, the facts don't. Focus on the emotional affect of them not noticing her belly.
The last suggestion I have is to do something with that last line of VO. I know you were trying to end it on a more positive note, but it seemed very contrived to me. This is a dark story. Why do I need a light at the end of the tunnel? If it were my, I'd axe it. If you do want to keep it, then consider revising the delivery. It seems like you are trying to hard for it to come off as a surprise. It's as if you are purposely setting the audience up: She says, "But I have to get my phone turned back on"... We're thinking, "Oh, that cold bitch. How could she be so emotionless?" And then, bam, "I have to leave my phone number on job applications next week." Gotcha!
Took a little bit to get going, but when it did I have to say it did engage me up until the comparably weak ending. Before that, however, there were some genuinely tense moments in there. The pacing goes from slow to fast to slow again, but the judicious use (for the most part) of action lines kept the script at an overall readable flow. All in all, a few good moments of intensity that is sure to keep the reader/viewer’s interest, but it needs something a little more. It lacks the oomph at the beginning and at the end that the middle has, and before and after the middle part kind of drags and gets a lot less in interesting in comparison.
One thing that gets in the way, having to do with the grammar/formatting, are the dashes before scene cuts ( -- BATHROOM) and then followed by more dashes (-- bare and grungy) -- just leave them out; they’re superfluous. True they don’t affect the pacing that much, but you still just don’t need them. There are some other minor mistakes here and there but nothing another revision or two couldn't help.
I have a bit of problem with the subtle scapegoating of the protagonist’s problems onto her johns, like they’re the ones somehow responsible for making her murder the neophyte. It would be better to see a more discernable character arch where it shows by the end that she suffers some consequence of what she did, how she takes responsibility for her actions, and learns something hard about the magnitude of the error of her ways. Instead, the end just feels like she’s quitting what’s she doing simply because it’s getting a little too rough and inconvenient for her.
So I’d give this a pass for its gripping middle “act” (with a fair suspension of disbelief here and there), but I would rate it higher if the whole thing was just as consistently gripping.
You mentioned this story to me yesterday and turns out someone dug it up already. That's some fortuitous timing, I didn't have to go hunt for it myself.
Another lighthearted romp with a feel good ending, good on you!
The story has narrative drive and Jennifer's voice is authentic. You drop us right in the middle of the action, I'm never lost on the page. This is good work, but I feel the final third is not a strong closer.
After Tyler exits the story, the intensity wanes. The VO starts to feel redundant, not telling us new things. The final line feels superfluous, the job application stuff, etc.
Honestly, I'm surprised, you strayed a bit here from what I like most about your work. You have a knack for intermingling the grotesque and the humane. It's damn near in every script you write. But here, I feel you didn't capitalize on Tyler and Jennifer together. I wanted some beats with her cradling him, like a mother would. Displaying a few motherly traits, like a silent wish a tainted heart makes. Something like that shows us her desire to be human. And to start down that path, she has to lay to rest her past. It's a literal and metaphorical laying to rest, all handled in one shot.
To me, that's the engine that can drive the conclusion. We see her be a "mother" for a few moments, a taste of humanity. And that leads to the desire to change her situation.
This story is damn good, but I think you're robbing Jennifer of her true power. Go all the way, even show a half broken smile as she holds Tyler. Maybe even humming a fractured lullaby as she lays him in the water. Give her that moment of grace in a deeply repellant setting. That kind of duality tears up the page and ravages the senses. Something like that, to me, says a lot more than a VO expressing the want to change.
My two cents. And yes, you did get my... 1,000th comment
LATEST NEWS CineVita Films is producing a short based on my new feature!
Not trying to be flippant or obnoxious with this comment (and it's not meant as an insult, either...trust me.)
But - between this and "A Few Will Find This Difficult" - what exactly is it with you and abortion/miscarriage stories? Admittedly, there's gore, and pain and emotional catharsis - all great things for a story. But was curious as to your thoughts on it....
BTW: I second Brett's idea to have her cradle Tyler and hum to him. It would be sick, twisted and nicely touching.