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Hi Shawn, just gave this a read. It really needs to be reworked to be honest with you. I'm going to be honest with what I think needs to be changed because deep down there is a good idea for a story.
The descriptions are too long. Cut them down.
'A man in his mid 20’s is walking his dog. He gets to a bench and lets his dog run free while he takes a seat on the bench. He is suddenly frightened by a voice from beside him. It’s a female voice.'
MICHAEL (20's) walks his dog. He gets to a bench and as he sits down lets the dog run free.
Just an example there how you can maybe improve the descriptions. I'd use Michael's name from the start in order to avoid the line below marked with an *.
The whole story is told through this mysterious woman's voice. That's going to be really boring on screen and to read (even with this only lasting around 5 minutes). You really need to break this up somehow, maybe with flashbacks to what actually happened.
There's a lot of things that are unfilmable as well.
'She seems very mysterious.'
'The man is confused.'
'The man is really confused. He has no idea what this mysterious woman is talking about.'
*'The man, who now seems to be named Michael is confused and is wondering how this random woman knows his name.'*
There's a few more of these and you repeat the fact that he's confused a lot.
I get what the idea of this is but there's a lot that needs tidying up. Formatting is good though.
I'm guessing you're quite new to writing so you should read a few of the shorts on here. Get a handle on the descriptions because that was my main problem when starting out too.
I'm gonna let my personal aversion toward these pointless hitman/stranger scripts shine through and come right out and say that I really, really don't like this script. First off, as I pointed out earlier, it's pointless and second, it's predictable (as these types of scripts always are). Your leading man is plywood, it's all reaction with him and zero action. The same goes for "FEMALE" whose droning monologues seem to go on forever and ever and ever (!).
This would probably work better as a Radio script cos' there's no MOTION in this MOTION picture script. It's all talk. It's all tell and no show. Its style makes the script really boring really quickly.
Also, you need to read some scripts around here (spec scripts - not shooting scripts) and learn how to write both an active but also engaging story.
And please, forget about these hitmen scripts. They've been done to death - and put in the grave with this script: The Second Draft
Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
I guess some people don't like Tarantino movies because his movies are all talk. But still. I posted another version today anyway. This has nothing to do with a hitman anyway. Hitmen are people hired by others to kill people, not a GHOST who kills someone for killing them. My 12 year old friend even understood it.
Hi, ShawnMan. The difference between this and QT is that his dialogue is good. It's clever, character specific, sometimes witty, sometimes ironic, but always good. His descriptions are spot on. He knows what he's doing, and his name lets him practically write what he wants.
The problem is that you're not QT. You're not even close. A lot of people try to be him, and I'm sure he's flattered, but they fail.
On to your script -
Your first paragraph is boring. It does nothing to set the mood or characters. QT wouldn't write that. It's devoid of the QT zing.
You don't describe anything. What kind of day is it? Do birds chirp? Is there a play area near by? Are there kids playing? What kind of dog? What's the guy look like? What kind of clothes does he wear? Is the bench new or scruffed up? Is the bench off the sidewalk or in the middle of the grass? Is it under a tree? Is it cloudy?
First line's cute. It's casual and kinda flirty.
Later, you call the woman mysterious twice. Once is enough. Twice is over doing it. Don't you have a thesaurus?
The only good comment I can say is "Thank God this is a first draft!" If this was a second or third, or even a final draft, I'd be scared. Terrified even, to think that someone can think this is a good script.
Only QT can call himself QT. Don't try to copy him. Practice, practice and practice some more and find your own voice. Write the way you wanna write. Tell the stories that you want to tell. It's going to take some time, but, if you're serious, it'll pay off.
I don't know about this one. The dialogue was pretty weak. I don't understand how a ghost could kill someone in a dream. If the girl was the ghost of the girl he killed, wouldn't he have recognized her?
I critiqued this before, but wow, more posts than I thought were lost in the 'blackout'...
I feel that the entire logistics of this piece are weak. A wordy "ghost" shoots a man for a murder he committed but doesn't remember because he happened to be hit by a car that put him into a memory-wiping coma. Sorry. I don't buy that at all.
I don't have a problem with the "a murder being avenged" plot. But when it comes to the flimsy logic this work is set upon, I have to borrow a grading scale from Zach and give this a REWRITE.
PLEASE review my first SimplyScripts submission....
This I saw a lot, I won't make a point of every time I saw so I'll just save you time with saying this once; No one "IS WALKING" his or her dog. You say walks his dog, is walking takes up script space and wastes words, it's structural issues I know, but secretaries reading these scripts catch those things and disapprove of them. Lose 'em, reword 'em and you can actually save yourself a bit of line space believe it or not.
"The woman takes her eyes off the dog and speaks again." If she's about to speak, don't waste lines by telling us that, let her speak, simple.
"There's a Better place than here." This is what I call a weak line bud, she's talking about forgiveness for a man who's supposedly sinned, more power in dialog helps quite a lot, this, I simply cannot feel, I'm sorry.
"Michael looks at her like she's crazy." A cheat right here, how do we see that in your description? Show us, don't tell us. I can NOT stress that enough for you. You don't EVER go in a characters' head, that's novel writing, you must always always ALWAYS be objective when you write scene description, 3rd person narrative, describe, nothing more.
The woman's line is WAY too long, you need to either break that up or condense, you generally want to keep a maximum when speaking a lot, between 4 to 8 lines, 9 or more, then you better add some description in between to break it up or just lose the unnecessary bits because over 8 is pushing it.
Then there's the line itself:
FEMALE There are many things we do in this life before we die. We do many good things but some of us do more bad things.
Once again, weak. You need to give her better dialog, We do many good things but some of us do more bad things, sounds both weak and not thought on very long.
When we are born we have the choice to live a full happy life or to live with misery and make mistakes you later believe to be truth of what your destiny has been.
No one ever lives a full happy life, a life of misery maybe, but I want to cut to "and make mistakes you later believe to be truth of what your destiny has been." I need you to do me a favor, read these lines aloud when you finish your first draft, and when you hear yourself saying something like that, ask yourself if it makes sense, both grammatically and scene wise.
There are only few who believe we are here for a reason while others believe life is just random details before we die. Isn’t that right, Michael?
Random details before we die? I've NEVER heard that one, and now that I have, I can tell you, I don't care for that sorta line too much. "Random details" sounds like something a kid would say about life, and even then, "details?" I cannot stress this enough, revise, revise, revise. You gotta think more about the lines you wanna give characters, otherwise it looks horrible on a script.
"Michael is in awe that the woman knows his name." Once again, how in the world do we know that? Yes it's implied but you can NOT go into the characters head, don't ever make that mistake because it looks bad and people will call you on that.
"FEMALE I know everything about you, Michael. You have your reason to live, as did I and this is where it all lead to."
Where it all leadS to, not lead. You gotta try and catch these things, because on dialg it's never acceptable ESPECIALLY on a short script because since yours is only 6 pages, you should take the time to reread your work and be able to catch these things.
"The woman just stays sitting down. The same way, the same look, the same facial expressions."
Hmm, how about:
The woman sits, unphased.
The same way, the same look, and again, she isn't sitting, she sits. Minor issue but it's a line saver. Same look, same way, is wasted space, why take two lines when you can condense to one? Remember in scene description, less is more.
"FEMALE That is where you are wrong, Michael. You were born Michael Joseph James to a Robert and Syndney James. You were born after 27 hours of labor and were a fairly big infant. You wet your bed until you were 13 and never even talked to a girl until you were 16. You grew up thinking everyone hated you but in reality, the only person who truly hated you was yourself. You barely passed high school and you fell in love with a girl after you forced a girl to have sex with you because you were too scared you’d get rejected. You also suffer from a fear of people knowing too much about you."
I recall saying something like....use 4 to 8 at most, let's take a count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...18? 18 lines? I know I said this before but come on man, you can most DEFINITELY condense this bit, and if you absolutely need every last word, break it up with some description in between, 18 line dialog for a character is absurd and you know you can break it up.
"FEMALE I can clearly see that, Michael. That’s why I am here. I am here to make you understand what happened. You will understand what happened."
FEMALE Clearly. That's why I am here, so you will understand what has happened.
From 4 lines to 2, and the message is still there. Not to sound like a broken record or anything but less is more.
"Michael makes sounds of anger."
Michael growls angrily. Makes a sound of anger is way too broad, and doesn't make sense. An angry sound is a growl, so why not just use "growl?"
CHELSEA I said ‘no’ Michael. How hard is that to understand?
Michael makes sounds of anger.
MICHAEL No one ever says “no” to me. Never.
CHELSEA Yeah? Well, I just did.
Unable to control his reactions, Michael grabs Chelsea by the throat, strangling her.
First off, Unable to control his reactions, lose that, you can not go inside your characters head, I wanted to just say that once but I can see how you may mistake this for narrative, sadly it's still omniscient, and you need to lose it.
MICHEAL Don’t you ever say that again. You hear me?
Second of all, Don't you ever say that again. You hear me?
Tired of rejection, she says no, don't you ever say that again, you hear me? That comes out all wrong. His choking seems rushed, I think a much better picture is him grabbing her forcefully and telling her that, because that isn't something immediately jump to choking with, see what I mean?
"Chelsea, unable to breath, tries to force Michael off her. Scratching and punching, but it just doesn’t work."
Fine, but it just doesn't work, lose that, a better line would be something along the lines of:
Unable to breath, Chelsea scratches and punches at Michael, but his hands stay gripped tightly around her neck.
"MICHAEL (worried) What?"
No. No no no no no. Lose the line. That's the weakest response you could ever use for a kid who just choked a woman, in his mind, he knows what he did, "What?" That's not even a proper response to the action, maybe having no dialog for after he lets go would work better, just make sure it sticks to scene.
"Michael is in tears. He stands up and just doesn’t believe it."
Michael's eyes water up, he stands up shaking his head violently.
And then you can go on with denial.
"Michael starts to move back but is too late as a gun shot is heard and Michael’s eyes go wide. He backs up a bit and she looks into his eyes with a revengeful stare."
Revengeful, what does a revengeful stare look like? Will an actor know that off the top of his head? No, so either make it more narrative or lose that bit all together.
"“Therein lies the defect of revenge: it's all in the anticipation; the thing itself is a pain, not a pleasure; at least the pain is the biggest end of it.” - Mark Twain"
This may just be me, but though that is a good quote in itself with a strong message, I fail to see how it fits in with your short. How do we see this woman was in pain trying to wreak vengeance? How do we not know it was a pleasure? It may or may not have but given what I read, I didn't catch that.
Anywho, all in all, I think this could be a rather good short script, but sadly that was not seen in what I read. It had potential and still does, I mean it's just a first draft you can always make edits and make it phenomenal, but your errors in description, your poor dialog and rushed portions really out weighed what made your story good and thus, brought down the quality of this script down severely.
My suggestions are above, I suggest you look at them and I suggest strongly you READ and REVISE please.
Thank you for your opinion. I have rewrote it again and most of what you said has been changed (before I actually read your post). A few things are still there but I could easily change them. I submitted it today so it should be replaced over the one now by next week. Anything you catch in that, please tell me. I am filming this and I do want it to be close to great before I do.
I was thinking of making a short film on 'The Bench', i now understand your making a short, would you agree with me making a short on your script? Can you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss it. Thanks!