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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    February, 2008 One Week Challenge  ›  The First Step - OWC
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  Author    The First Step - OWC  (currently 2800 views)
Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 9:34am Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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The First Step by Charles Spenser Davis (Dr. McPhearson) - Short, Drama - Dialogue-driven and pointedly-paced, 'The First Step' features only two scenes, at first glance unconnected, but  by the conclusion, interwoven.  - pdf, format

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Revision History (3 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  March 8th, 2008, 4:05pm
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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 12:16pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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I personally think this might work a lot better as a short story, rather than a film.

Simply because a lot of the time, you tell what is going on in the characters' minds and you don't show it in their actions.  For instance:

  -  'Either way, in this setting, his usual demeanor is changed,'  -  This is our first time meeting him.  We don't know how his demeanor is usually.

  -  'Suddenly, an idea hits him, and things begin to make sense:'  -  It might him, but it doesn't hit us.

  -  'Leigh's words have struck something in him. Self revelation? A sense of realization? A coming to terms? We don't know.'  -  Don't question what strikes in him.  Don't tell us what we don't know.  We already know we don't know.  You have to show us what we don't know.

  -  'Suddenly, it all makes sense to Dave. By the way his eyes are darting, and
his facial expressions are changing, we see he understands what this all
means, even if we personally don't.'  -  You're telling us again what we don't know.  Show us so we do know.

  -  'he just starts LAUGHING, almost to the point of tears.. It's not a fit of insanity; it's a paroxysm of wonderment.'  -  I'm not really much of a philospher, so I'm not too sure what a 'paroxysm of wonderment' is.  So to me, to see it on screen, he's going to look insane.

  -  'Somehow, against all characteristics... He's taken the first step.'  -  That's just telling the reader, not showing the viewer.  And, to be quite honest, we don't know of his actual characteristics.  You say in the beginning it's a little uncharacteristic of him to act the way he does, and now, at the end, he's still acting uncharacteristic, so we have nothing to judge that on.

It wasn't a bad way to interpret the theme for the challenge at all.  I like how you physically used a prison cell and a metaphorical prison cell (being his marriage) at the same time.  It's just that the execution wasn't so well pulled off.

You could probably do without the camera directions in the beginning, also.  They just get in the way of getting straight to the story.

- Mark

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Zombie Sean
Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 1:01pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

A boozer, a user, and a two-time loser

Anywhere there's a zombie...
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Okay, I got really confused while reading this story. All I saw were two men talking to each other, and yet, I had no idea what they were talking about or why they were talking about it. Like RC, this is more like a short story than a script, and one thing I want to point out was that you need to have INT. PRISON CELL - DAY/NIGHT at the beginning, instead of telling us that he's in one. Your extreme descriptions of getting inside the character's minds are what confused me, because, honestly, I didn't really care what they were thinking.

And then it all came to me towards the end. I sort of got it when I finished it, but after reading RC's comment, it all connected, with the whole prison cell in the dream, and then the metaphor of the prison cell being his marriage. That's what made the ending good.



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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 1:29pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer


New York
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I liked the tale; I thought this was going to be like SAW. lol. But you took a different approach towards telling the story.

Nevertheless, you need to improve on your formating. Read some scripts here and review them since you will see what makes a story good and find your niche of writing. The dialogue was bad. All the description went into parenticals which is a no-no. Character-wise, I didn't visulaize them. But it was a good try though. No one gets it right the first time.  

Hope this helps,
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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 1:39pm Report to Moderator

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I liked it. it was interesting w/ some good lines... "I'm not a medic, I'm a maid". The one thing that rly distractedme Mr Riply said... was all the parentheticals. They were very distracting n usually unnessary.

Overall tho I did like it.
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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 1:58pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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The first thing that struck out to me was your descriptions. They're good, but you go into the characters mind. Work on format, just read a few more scipts to get a feel on whats right and whats wrong.

The paranthesis' aren't Necessary, to me they take away from what the character is saying.

EX--"(stern and unwavering) Just answer them both! ".... would it be much difference if the stern and unwavering were cut? No, so cut it. I say keep things tight and to the point.

Your story was good for me, just keep working on getting the format down. I think thats the only thing in your way of getting better.

Good luck with everything!

Good Golly Miss Molly
No Place Like Home
New Moon Rising
The Ballad of Uncle Sam: An Anarchists Melody
Toy Soldier
This Modern Love
A Virgin State of Mind

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James McClung
Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 2:38pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Washington, D.C.
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I didn't like this one. It was a very tedious read. First off, your script's littered with all sorts of formatting no-nos. People have picked up on most of them but the one that stood out to me was the font size. It looks like 10 pt. Courier. Scripts are supposed to be 12 pt. Why? So it doesn't take so long to read one page. It took a while to read this one yet I never felt like I was making progress even when I was past the halfway point.

The dialogue felt like it was written by the new Tarantino. It was really stylized but the conversation never really went anywhere. "We have no idea what these guys are talking about." My thoughts exactly. That's not the kind of stuff that should be in the action lines either. Maybe genuine action would be preferable. This is just two guys talking about nothing. The conversation is also very repetetive. The same questions are repeated numerous times for what seemed like comedic purposes. This isn't supposed to be a comedy though.

The second scene made a lot more sense. I guess the metaphor is the guy feels like he's imprisoned by his marriage. Unfortunately, I don't think you needed as much dialogue as you have to point that out.

I'd say this is a relatively well written but it's got no substance. Just an idea. The idea's all well and good, I just think it'd could've been much, much better.

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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 2:52pm Report to Moderator
God of the SimplyScriptsVerse

Buy the ticket, take the ride

That's me in the corner
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Let us start with that logline.  It is a bit pretentious to analyze your own script for us.  Tell us what the story is about.  And "pointedly paced"...what does that even mean?  Draw us in with your intriguing premise as opposed to dry exposition as to your literary intent.  

I suspect older members will recognize where this one is going quicker than younger ones.  That is not meant as a commentary on where you (or I) may be coming from in terms of the story here, but a simple observation.  About half-way through, I knew exactly where we would end up.

Part of that problem is the excess of dialogue here.  You give too many clues, and I think the story would benefit from scaling back the "dialogue-driven" aspect a bit.  For me, I would have ended their conversation at the "four words".  Everything after that detracts from the significance of this revelation.

There is quite a bit of underlining here in the dialogue.  Too much.  Yes, I do it too, even though I know it is frowned upon.  Such is the arrogance of the writer.  But I only use it if I fear the meaning would be lost otherwise, and here, the special emphasis you are placing upon these underscored sections does not feel mandatory.  Once or twice if you simply cannot help yourself, but this script is littered with them.  Particularly intrusive is your underlining of the last sentence.  Are you afraid we would miss the point?  Trust your readers more than that, eh?

Having busted on your for four paragraphs now, I did like your story, and your take on the theme of this exercise.  The writing was surely competent, and much of your dialogue worked quite well.  My take home message for this one would be a trim, less dialogue and less underscoring, concealing your intent as opposed to worrying about the lazy reader who will miss the point without your constant encouragement.

OWC Score:  80%  

Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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Souter Fell
Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 3:17pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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I have to agree with the previous posts. Decent take excuted poorly, at least in screenwriting terms. Way too much stuff that does not belong in a script. If you can't show it, don't write it. And way too much underlining and paranthesis.

Also, I believe you stretched the margins as well. My first thought was to make it fit but it still had a page and a half to go.

Read up on format and give it another go.

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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 3:40pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Oh Hi

San Diego, California
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This was frustrating to read.  The format really adds a lot of extra stuff that doesn't need to be there, and that kinda bulks this piece up more than it needs to be.  I think around the time that David realized this wasn't real, I suddenly realized what was going on.  I figured he was going to ask a woman to marry him rather than get divorced, so you caught me by surprise there.

The idea was good and much of the dialogue was nice to read, but it just goes on and on and for a short I think there was too much.  Good effort, though.

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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 10:25pm Report to Moderator
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It met the prison cell requirements and it had a surprising ending, Iíll give it that.  

Otherwise this was badly formatted, the dialogue ran on and on the nose (like a runny nose), the story was nearly non-existent, I had no real clue what the characters were about, the actions told me what to think rather than what I see, it ended by waking up from a dream, it seemed much more like a play than a movie, it had camera directions, and Iím not even sure if it was a drama.

Honestly, there was a lot wrong with this script.  I would highly recommend that you read more scripts on this site and learn more appropriate formatting from them.    

I will let others recommend to you how to fix this script but I am giving this a PASS.  Apply what you learn to the next one.
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Posted: February 23rd, 2008, 11:16pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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In the first description there is some stuff that would not be apparent on film. American, not his usual demeanor, doesnít know where he is, how would you film these?

Some of the dialogue is nice but it is difficult to stick with.

The idea works but it needs tightening up.


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Posted: February 24th, 2008, 12:34am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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This one had some major formatting issues, so much so that they got in the way of the storytelling, which is a shame because I think there is something good here It has some good ideas, but they're never properly delivered upon. This script needs work. In the descriptions, write only what the camera can record. Things like "we have no idea what they're talking about" have no place in a spec script.

Other people have already pointed out a lot of the other formatting no-no's, and I don't want to be repetative. So I'll just say that there are some interesting ideas and themes being toyed with in this piece, but the execution is poor. It was a bit of a frustrating read, honestly. Work on tightening up the dialogue scenes and correct the formatting errors and I think you'd have a better script.

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Posted: February 24th, 2008, 7:02am Report to Moderator

Newcastle, England
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Hi, this read kinda strange. The descriptions are very long and read more like a novel rather than a script. There are a lot of descriptions that aren't needed too.

I liked the whole part in the prison cell though. The dialogue was very matrix like and although it was a little confusing, it was interesting and kept me reading.

I felt let down by the ending. You had a very good build up to something monumental, and then you spent a page showing he's a loser and that he wants a divorce. I was expecting something 'out of this world' and the mundane wasn't a good surprise.

If you do a rewrite of this I'd suggest trimming down the descriptions, losing the camera angle and get your imagination going for the final part.

An interesting read though, and I'd love to read a rewrite.

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Abe from LA
Posted: February 25th, 2008, 6:42am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Downey, California
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What more can I add that hasn't already been said.
You must have a literary background, because you are a good writer.  But you have not done your homework on screenwriting format and style.
It wasn't difficult to guess where you were going.  Some of your clues were in the long-winded dialogue.
If you cut the parentheticals, scale way back on the dialogue (repetitiveness), this story could have been told in half the space and with more impact.
Story wise, not too bad.  Good metaphor, although it isn't all that unique.  The marriage/prison thing is pretty standard.  But you stick to the theme and gave us some drama.
The ending kind of lingered.  And there was something about the wife that in my opinion made it easy to say those 4 words.  She wasn't all that likeable.  And not knowing much about the husband, I wonder why he struggled with this situation.
Good try.   Learn the format and you'll be okay.
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