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Fear to Tread by Michael Rome (mrome55) - Short, Horror - A team of young paranormal researchers are in over their heads when they uncover a hidden and terrifying chapter of American history in the old Brooklyn sewers. During the Revolutinary War over 4,300 American soldiers were killed in battle, but over 11,000 American sailors died aboard the British prison ships anchored in New York. 'Paranormal State' meets 'John Adams' 25 pages - pdf, format
Hi Michael - Glad to see you here, I'm new, too. Is this the same draft I read earlier or an updated one? I've got Ghost Train up, too, but it's pretty much the way you read it, with a couple of edits as per your suggestions.
There are a couple of major problems wih this script which made it a difficult read for me.
For starters, it's way too short. You took a feature length story and, essentially, wrote very brief scenes to tell it. It was rushed and seemed very incomplete. Before I could get a sense of any scene, it was over and the next one was underway.
There wasn't much cohesion to this story, mostly due to the fact that each scene was inomplete. I couldn't get into it; it was almost like reading disjointed scenes to a bigger work.
I thought your formatting was a little weird. You like starting each new sentence with a new line. And you used a lot of incomplete phrases. This made reading a little difficult. If you wrote the narration in paragraphs, instead of lines, this scriupt would probably be five ages shorter.
You spent way too much time with the opening flashback. This a twenty-five page story and it's one third over before you reveal any hint that this is a ghost story. Eight pages for a set up would work for a feature length, but not a short. You would've been better off starting with something happening in the sewers and then showing the flashback on the boat.
Your characters need to be fleshed out more. The way they are now, they're forgettable. I finished reading it a few minutes ago and I can't remember any of their names. If the reader doesn't care about the characters, he won't are what hapens to them. The story will mean nothing.
Thanks for taking the time to read my first script and for putting so much thought into it. You are probably correct that I need to work on this more, and expand it into a feature. This would give me the opportunity for more character development.
I find the historical information intriguing, so I am still motivated to keep trying.
First off, the format: this could be shortened. A lot of short sentence fragments taking up one line could be consolidated.
Other than the format, story wise, it started off very intriguing. I liked the first six pages or so. There were a few things that snagged me.
For one, I didn’t fully understand Thomas inserting a needle into an open sore of a prisoner with small pox and then sticking it deliberately into an open wound on his hand. I don’t understand why.
Adam Palmer seemed to come out of nowhere. Maybe he should be introduced earlier when Thomas arrives. I’m not sure the flashback for his character was really necessary.
Once it got to the modern era, it got very muddled for me.
Zach and Rachel’s conversation was confusing for me. She tells him there was a call from Brooklyn Public Works and he says, “Very informative,” and then apologizes. Was that supposed to have been a smart aleck remark? I didn’t get it. Then when he asks about civil servants leaving at five on the dot, she says, “Maybe that’s the point.” Then he talks about research.
Ms. Worthington is an informer, a character who’s sole job is to inform the reader/audience of some technical knowledge. I mean we’ve all had to use these characters at some time or another probably but she’s so incredibly obvious. And the history lesson includes information that isn’t pertinent to the story. It’s interesting that Brooklyn was the first settled area of New York but it had nothing directly to do with the sewer issue. Her scene feels like a history class, not like two people having a conversation. It all came off as really contrived.
The flashback of Manny either needs to be cut or rewritten. As it is, Manny shows up in the sewer, says, “Hey guys,” and then disappears. It hardly seems worth it for, “Hey guys….SCREAM!” It’s kind of like a character saying, “Hi,” and then getting shot dead, you know?
Once again, in the sewers, Zach and Rachel’s conversation didn’t make any sense to me. I didn’t understand the “fireworks” remark. Maybe I’m missing something - or maybe it’s just late and I’m tired - but their conversations are lost on me.
I don’t understand why Rachel and Zach were in the sewer before the crew were set up. They’re in the sewer, then they’re in bed, then they’re back at the sewer with the film crew.
Also, the sewer scenes were very confusing. I didn’t know what was going on half the time.
I don’t understand why Zach brought up his child to someone who wanted to kill all his ancestors. I don’t know if I’m missing something but it seems to me he deliberately placed his own child in danger. The killer wasn’t aware of his child until Zach told him.
I don’t understand Manny’s motive at all.
I don’t understand what happened with Arnold or why. If he lived until Zach’s seed was ended then wouldn’t knowledge of his child cause him to keep living?
I don’t really understand what’s going on with Arnold or Manny, whether they’re ghosts or what they are. I don’t see how someone can live for centuries and die by gunshot.
It just seemed like a very choppy and disjointed story. It had some good elements. It started out very intriguing but seemed to sort of disintegrate. It could easily be shorter and tighter. But it definitely needs to be clearer.