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  Author    Night Shift  (currently 4971 views)
Don
Posted: August 19th, 2009, 5:14pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Night Shift by James McClung - Thriller, Horror - A cynical nurse and a remorseful drunk driver investigate the murder of hospitalized patients seemingly at the hands of the doctors themselves.  101 pages - pdf, format


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-------------
You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

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Don  -  October 6th, 2009, 9:02pm
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ericdickson
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I just flipped through the first fifteen or so pages.  Some real smart dialogue and good formatting.  I can already tell you, this is definitely the best script I've read of yours.

Eric D.          
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James McClung
Posted: August 19th, 2009, 7:33pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks Jack. I've been working on this script for over a year so the dialogue should be tiptop. Spending that much time on one script can be extremely aggravating at times. I even considered shelving it once or twice but I'm glad I didn't as I think it's one of the best scripts I've written yet. It's definitely the scariest.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it.


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alffy
Posted: August 20th, 2009, 10:47am Report to Moderator
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Holy Cow...I've just noticed 2 features have been posted by you James, you've been busy lol.  Anyway I'm gonna give this a read as you've obviously put a lot of time and effort into it...and you clearly state it's your scariest!


Check out my scripts...if you want to, no pressure.

You can find my scripts here
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James McClung
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Thanks for checking this out, dude. I hope you like it. Like I said, this was a very painstaking script for me as I did a lot of things I usually don't do with thriller/horror scripts. I'd like to think it worked out in my favor. And yes, it's my scariest. To me anyway. Honestly, "scary's" never really been my M.O. Suspense, yes. Scary, not so much. I say this is my scariest because it's about real people, not faceless killers, and there's no creepy, abandoned buildings or anything. It all takes place in the "real world" and people tend to think that's the most unnerving. Still, just my opinion. Hope you like it.



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abelorfao
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Hello, James. I've just read your script and I'll post my thoughts below.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and found your script well-written. The flow and pacing were quite good and the screenplay had several memorable moments. The syringe fight especially was one of the more inventive (and gruesome) sequences I've read. Although Lydia's ultimate fate was quite a downer, it worked well within the story and any disappointment it caused was made up for in the final scene. Still, there are a few criticisms I'd like to make.

I was able to suspend my disbelief enough to accept a very small staff at the clinic, but there appears to be just four staff members on duty at all times. You may want to consider adding a few minor supporting characters or at least have some background players appear from time to time. The addition of other characters would also prevent the monotony of seeing the same five people in the clinic over and over again.

Continuing on this theme, I had a difficult time completely buying in to the first two fight scenes. Although both scenes were well-written, I couldn't help but wonder how two older people like Bryce and Judith were able to go toe-to-toe with the much younger Coop and Lydia.

As far as the overall storyline is concerned, I wonder if it would be more effective if Bryce and Judith's murderous ways were left ambiguous at first and eventually led to a grand reveal of their plans instead of being confirmed to the audience fairly early in the story.

I also think there is a lot of room to expand on Bryce and Judith's nefarious plot. Although I understood the plan, it would have been interesting to learn more about the situation they found themselves in. Why were they short on money? Why did they choose this method to raise funds? What happens to the bodies they sell?

On a nuts-and-bolts level, I noticed you occasionally restated the location right after the slugline. On Page 1, for example, you follow the INT. FRAT HOUSE slugline with a sentence that begins "The frat house interior..." You may want to rephrase these lines, so as not to sound so repetitious.

There were also several instances where a line of dialogue spilled over to the next page without a MORE or CONT'D parenthetical. You should probably just shift these lines completely to the next page.

Here are some of the things which stuck with me as I read your script.

Page 1: The phrase "surrounded by empty parking lot" should be "surrounded by an empty parking lot." The phrase "jet black hair" should be "jet-black hair."

Page 2: You may want to have Lydia answer the cell phone with a salutation first, as her immediate response didn't quite seem natural to me.

Page 8: Since Mitch would be obscured from view, you may want to rephrase the scene where his car drives away form the frat house. For example, you could say the engine roars to live and the vehicle drives away from the scene.

Page 19 and 20: At first glance, it seemed Lydia wanted nothing to do with the injured patient. You may want to make it clear Lydia does not want to deal with Bryce.

Page 21: The phrase "eighty four" should be "eighty-four."

Page 23 and 24: I assumed the two police officers arrived at Mitch's room in order to question him about the crash, which made it odd to see Mitch wandering down the hallway on his own a brief moment later.

Page 35 and 36: I wonder if Coop could bolster his point by reminding Lydia that Mitch could be charged with manslaughter or vehicular homicide and further wondering if the claim Bryce murdered Jack is a desperate attempt to shift the blame.

Page 49: The phrase "you little S---" should be "you little s---."

Page 56 and 57: You may want to consider intercutting between Lydia and Bob during their phone conversation just to keep the visuals more compelling.

Page 63: There is a missing paragraph break before Bryce's first line.

Page 69: Coop's first cue is not capitalized. Although Coop isn't able to answer the operator, it's standard procedure for the police to be sent in response to a cut-off 911 call.

Page 70: The paragraph describing Coop's death left me confused. Did you mean Coop's tongue was severed and flopped out of his mouth onto the floor, or did you mean for his tongue to stick out of his mouth as his body crumpled to the floor?

Page 75: Once again, even though Lydia is unable to dial 911, the police should already be on their way if not at the clinic already. Furthermore, wouldn't the clinic have more than one phone line? Besides, what happened to Lydia's cell phone? I know Judith made a grab for it during their fight, but there was no mention if it being lost or damaged.

I hope this response has been helpful, James, and good luck with you script.
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James McClung
Posted: August 20th, 2009, 3:37pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read, Abel!

Naturally SPOILERS...


Quoted from abelorfao
I was able to suspend my disbelief enough to accept a very small staff at the clinic, but there appears to be just four staff members on duty at all times. You may want to consider adding a few minor supporting characters or at least have some background players appear from time to time. The addition of other characters would also prevent the monotony of seeing the same five people in the clinic over and over again.


I brought this up in a WIP thread and everyone generally agreed a clinic of this kind would have a very small skeleton crew, especially at night. Pia apparently used to work at a hospital at night and she confirmed this. I've been wrestling with this issue for a while and I think I've finally got it right.


Quoted from abelorfao
Continuing on this theme, I had a difficult time completely buying in to the first two fight scenes. Although both scenes were well-written, I couldn't help but wonder how two older people like Bryce and Judith were able to go toe-to-toe with the much younger Coop and Lydia.


Could you expand on this, please? I think I know what you're getting at but I'm not positive.


Quoted from abelorfao
As far as the overall storyline is concerned, I wonder if it would be more effective if Bryce and Judith's murderous ways were left ambiguous at first and eventually led to a grand reveal of their plans instead of being confirmed to the audience fairly early in the story.


This is an issue I've struggled with for some time. Honestly, I think the story would be less interesting you didn't know there's something going on even though the reveal would indeed be stronger. I liked the idea of having characters have to tiptoe around bad guys you knew were up to no good. It really served to heighten the suspense. The original draft was a lot less subtle though. This version took more of a step in your direction.


Quoted from abelorfao
I also think there is a lot of room to expand on Bryce and Judith's nefarious plot. Although I understood the plan, it would have been interesting to learn more about the situation they found themselves in. Why were they short on money? Why did they choose this method to raise funds? What happens to the bodies they sell?


This stuff was hinted at but never spelled out. The idea was that the Savages are universally hated by their colleagues and higher ups. Rather than fire them and have to deal with a fire from their end, they've made efforts just to lowball them and make their careers difficult, probably in hopes that they'd quit themselves. Hence the issue with money. Additionally, the clinic is so secluded, they barely get patients anymore. No patients, no money. As for the bodies, they name of the company that buys them suggests they're used for experimentation or something or other. The idea is loosely based on the Burke and Hare murders of Scotland. Check it out if you're interested.


Quoted from abelorfao
Page 19 and 20: At first glance, it seemed Lydia wanted nothing to do with the injured patient. You may want to make it clear Lydia does not want to deal with Bryce.


No. Your assumption is completely accurate. Lydia hates drunk drivers and why not? They fuck up other people's lives because of their own problems. Her and Mitch eventual teaming up was meant to be a struggle of sorts. I just thought it'd make their relationship way more interesting and multi-facated.


Quoted from abelorfao
Page 35 and 36: I wonder if Coop could bolster his point by reminding Lydia that Mitch could be charged with manslaughter or vehicular homicide and further wondering if the claim Bryce murdered Jack is a desperate attempt to shift the blame.


I like this idea. I'll try to incorporate it into a rewrite.


Quoted from abelorfao
Page 70: The paragraph describing Coop's death left me confused. Did you mean Coop's tongue was severed and flopped out of his mouth onto the floor, or did you mean for his tongue to stick out of his mouth as his body crumpled to the floor?


This is probably the most problematic area of the script. In real life, if someone's strangled enough, their tongue "protrudes" from their mouth to extreme lengths people are incapable of accomplishing alive. A couple movies have done this. The Ninth Gate and Cut (Three Extremes) off the top of my head. I wanted to include it not only because it's realistic but I also wanted to top No Country For Old Men with the most brutal strangling in any movie (that I've seen anyway). It's extremely difficult to describe on paper. If you've got any tips, I'd really appreciate it.


Quoted from abelorfao
Page 75: Once again, even though Lydia is unable to dial 911, the police should already be on their way if not at the clinic already. Furthermore, wouldn't the clinic have more than one phone line? Besides, what happened to Lydia's cell phone? I know Judith made a grab for it during their fight, but there was no mention if it being lost or damaged.


Lydia's phone is broken during the initial scuffle with Judith. As for the cops, not sure if they'd be on their way. They don't know what's going on. Why would they come out. I also figure a small place like this would have one phone line with a number of extensions (like an office building). I'll look into it though.

Your comments have been extremely helpful. I'll see what I can to do incorporate them into a rewrite. Thanks again!


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abelorfao
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Hello again, James. I'll try to clarify a few of the points I posted earlier.

Bryce is described as someone in his sixties with no indication he is physically spry or imposing, while Judith is described as a thin and sickly woman in her fifties. Lydia and Coop, on the other hand, are both described as being in their late-twenties with no indication of any physical ailments or limitations.

While its true Coop is caught by surprise, I was a little puzzled with how easily Bryce was able to kill someone over thirty years younger than himself. This puzzlement increased when Bryce literally crushed Coop's throat with his bare hands. Why wasn't Coop better able to put up a fight against a sexagenarian?

Likewise, even though Lydia gets the drop on her, the fight she has with Judith is fairly even throughout the confrontation. I would be more willing to accept this completely if it weren't for the description of the latter as thin and sickly. Why can't Judith quickly subdue someone in such a frail condition, especially when she sneaks up on her and strikes the first blow?

When it comes to the 911 call, the standard procedure throughout most (if not all) departments is for the operator to immediately call the number back. If the call is left unanswered or the operator is unable to establish a connection, most police departments will dispatch a unit to the scene to determine if there is in fact an emergency.
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James McClung
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Okay. I gotcha now. In regards to Bryce, he was originally in his 50s. I bumped his age up to make him seem more like a cradle robber with Judith. Judith looks thin and sickly but both characters, I wanted them just to look ugly and beat up. They're not dying or anything. In any case, you bring up some good points. I think I'm going to give both characters exact ages the next time around so as to clear some of this up. I think both being in their 50s sounds reasonable. In regards to them actually measuring up to their subordinate counter parts, I don't think it's much of an issue. Like you said, Coop is caught off guard and the fight between Lydia and Judith really doesn't have much to do with physical strength.

As for the cops, you're probably right. Perhaps the call shouldn't even make its way to the other end. Otherwise, the cops end up getting involved anyway. I think this issue should be a quick fix whatever the case is.

Still, you've raised some very good points. Thanks again.


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n7
Posted: August 23rd, 2009, 3:37pm Report to Moderator
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Hi James,
Thought this had some really good moments. What really works is that you had a clear focus from start to finish, and revealed hints of info at appropriate times to keep my interest all the way through.

you've got what could be a really cool genre piece here that already has a built in audience for if you decide to shop this around eventually. You're big selling points can definitely be the small number of locations and the very small cast of characters that would help this get made on the cheap.

Noticed that Lydia has a boyfriend in the beginning from all the pics, but there's no mention of him from then on. I don't feel there's a need for him at all and the story would benefit by having Lydia and Coop become romantically involved or at least flirtatious. Maybe I read it differently but their relationship seemed completely platonic to me and could have used some spicing up that would add some tension and help us learn more about who they are as characters.

I was thrown off with Mitch and Lydia's relationship as well, she showed that she was an extremely caring person by going back for him, but it'll be really tough to evoke any sympathy for Mitch's character where within minutes of meeting him he's drunk driving and killing someone. No matter how hard you try there are too many people who've been affected by that in their life so the chance of people eventually wanting anything good to come from his character will probably be next to none.

I did have issues with the dialogue, felt it was way too on the nose for the most part, especially Lydia and Coop. Any subtext at all would have been fully welcomed, as is a lot of their exchanges felt like a question and answer exercise, each trying to extort information out of the other. Same for these lines between Judith and Bryce::
     JUDITH
   Has he called yet?

  BRYCE
   He’s coming tonight. I’ll need you to
   show him the new arrivals.

     JUDITH
   Why can’t you do it?

     BRYCE
   I’ve got work to do. You know that.

     JUDITH
   Why don’t you just have her do it?

     BRYCE
   Don’t start—

     JUDITH
   Don’t tell me what to do! I know
   something’s going on! BRYCE
   I’m warning you—

     JUDITH
   Don’t you threaten me!
Huge typo on pg 79, "bear legs exposed", should be bare. cont....
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n7
Posted: August 23rd, 2009, 3:57pm Report to Moderator
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Mitch and Lydia's goodbye outside the car could be tightened up. It kind of read a couple of lines too long and like I said before I didn't really understand any would be connection between them beside Lydia showing she was a caring person by rescuing him.

Loved the start of the fight between Lydia and Judith, but by the end of it it had turned into a full on fight scene from a Jason Statham flick, only with woman. Suggest tightening it up, and it would be great because the majority of the script from pg 68ish to the end is almost full on action or suspense. Less is more in this case, there's tons of exposition and mystery up to then, but the action takes center stage at this point. The reader knows at this point who the killers are, there is still the hint of mystery with what exactly is going to be done with the money/bodies.

To go back to your first scene, it set a great tone and was very brief but also very effective. Did think you could do without the figure's voice, the more mystery the better, leaving him silent would be creepier.

From a technical standpoint I'd suggest capping all sounds in the script. Throughout page 18 there were 4 or 5 sounds alone that could've been capped, from tires screeching, sirens blaring, etc. Also may want to vary some of the scenes with the "eyes bulging out of their sockets", by 3rd time it happened with Coop it lost all its effectiveness.

My favorite part of the story was with Lydia and Coop on pg 54 when they went over the hospital records, it really intensified and focused what you had going on here.
You're ending worked worked though seeing Lydia get offed was disappointing, don't know if there's a way the both characters could survive and the story still could have worked.

Think that about sums it up, like I said I think you've got a great genre flick here that maintains its focus throughout.  I only noticed one or two minor instances where the story sidetracked so that's a great accomplishment.
Lydia's a great character too, she's sympathetic, sarcastic and responsible. She's easily relatable and easy to root for. Overall just think that if you re-worked the dialogue to be less Q &A this would benefit and spaced out the fight scenes or simplified them the tension would stay stronger.

Good work, look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Nate
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James McClung
Posted: August 23rd, 2009, 8:28pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read, Nate. You make a lot of good points, especially in regards to the mystery of the story. In particular, I agree removing the figure's voice in the opening would strengthen the kickoff a lot. The rest, I'll take some time to mull over.

A few things...

Lydia doesn't have a boyfriend. She broke up with him before the story even begins. The letter she's reading is a breakup letter. Although the audience really gets to know Lydia personally, I believe she'd still be a hard person to share one's life with so my angle was the boyfriend dumped her for being "too cold." This isn't spelled out too much and I don't want to. It all just adds to her life outside the film. I do mention that they broke up upon her visit to the blood bank. I think that's enough. I am glad you liked her though. I think she's the best, most complex, human protagonist I've ever written and one of my favorite characters in general. It's taken me a while to get the hang of this "female empowerment" thing in my horror  scripts. This is the first time I think I've got it 100% right.

Mitch is a hard sell. I tried very hard to make him sympathetic without making him a crybaby. I think I did a good job even if some people don't like him. He's as regretful as he should be for his actions and tries very hard to fix what he's broke. Even if the audience doesn't like him, he still redeems himself in the end by giving his life to save Lydia's, even though she doesn't make it. I don't think there's much else I can do with him.

Lydia and Coop's relationship is meant to be plutonic. I do get a lot of suggestions to up the romance in my scripts. I don't much care for that sorta thing amongst characters who aren't actually an item. I'll save that for my romantic comedy (not a joke).

Thanks again for the read.


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alffy
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I haven’t read all the other posts James, so I appologise for any points that have already been covered.

Your early descriptions of your characters are excellent, I wonder what the significance of Lydia’s tattoo’s are though.  Also the conversation between Coop and Lydia in the car reads really well, I can tell you’ve spent time on this already.  It immediately tells us about the characters and what they believe in.

Oh, who are the savages and what’s their story?

I love the description, a horseshoe of hair!

I can’t stress enough how well your dialogue reads and it helps to give your characters their individuality.

Page 14, Lydia’s dialogue reads wrong I think, it reads ‘it won’t happen it’.  I only point this out as I don’t think Abel did.

Page 21, Jack says ‘does is still hurt, homey’. Should be ‘it’.  I don’t actually like pointing out spelling mistakes as I think it distracts from the reading, so I might not point out all the mistakes, just the ones that make the reading awkward.

I’m actually finding it hard to like any of your characters lol.  They’re all horrible people, grumpy, miserable and devious, good for a thriller though.

One thing that niggles me is that there only seems to be Bryce, Judith, Lydia and Coop in the hospital which suggests to me it’s only small, so would casualties from a road traffic accident be taken there?  Would they not go to a large hospital or is the clinic part of a large hospital?  Maybe I’ve misunderstood something or it’s an American thing?  Is it some sort of private practice?

Mitch gagging on his fingers is a lovely image lol.

Lydia changes a bit quick from grumpy bitch to sleuth, she’s got some mood swings on her but hey, she’s a woman so I guess it’s realistic.

Coop realises that the Savages are doctoring the files, no pun intended, about the patients but does nothing after, this is a bit strange to me.  Lydia has suspicions and this is a serious matter, perhaps murder so it seems strange that Coop isn’t at least interested in finding out more, after all the Savages are horrible to them and even taking part of their wages.  It could be a way to get even, maybe even blackmail them to keep his mouth shut?

I’ve noticed a couple more typos but I’m concentrating on the story, and it’s getting interesting.  I’m just over 60 pages in and still wondering what the board are all about though.  Oh hang on, right now I get it, the Savages are trying to buy the clinic but the board don’t believe they can come up with the money.


Check out my scripts...if you want to, no pressure.

You can find my scripts here
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alffy
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‘His slimy tongue lifts up the corner of her upper lip as he pulls away and cackles’, nice image.

Coop’s eye half pops out of his socket!  Nice, there’s the magic gory violence you write so well.

The fight between Lydia and Judith is brutal and very exciting, I would of thought the scissors through the hand might have got a bigger pain reaction from Lydia but I would have like to see the syringes in Judith’s neck maybe filling with blood before Lydia yanked them out, but I guess she would have had to draw the blood out.  Great action though.

After Mitch crashes the car, Lydia seems to brighten up and having struggled to speak in the car she tells him she’ll bring help and takes off.

Axe meets face in a wonderful moment lol.

I’m not sure 3 weeks is a sufficient time to recover from Bryce’s wounds but his ending is satisfying though.

I was impressed that you were able to write such a good story with so few characters.  The beginning was a little slow but the last 30 pages flew by at a rate of speed and the blood and killing was nicely done.  I liked how you weren’t afraid to kill off the characters too.  When you stated ‘this is my scariest script yet’, I did wonder if this would be the case but now I think about it, the lack of characters and the lonely corridors of the clinic do give this piece an eerie feel.

Some of your characters react strangely at times throughout this script.  Lydia starts off as a uncaring bitch, to put it mildly but then later shows her caring nurse side by helping Mitch, who she loathed earlier.  Coop seems totally uninterested by the Savages murderous behaviour at times and then intrigued to find out more information at others.  Despite these niggles I found this script thoroughly entertaining and well written.  Needless to say I enjoyed it, good stuff James.


Check out my scripts...if you want to, no pressure.

You can find my scripts here
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James McClung
Posted: August 25th, 2009, 1:44pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read, Anthony! I'm glad you liked it.

You've pointed out quite a few things in your review but there's a few in particular I'd like to address...


Quoted from alffy
One thing that niggles me is that there only seems to be Bryce, Judith, Lydia and Coop in the hospital which suggests to me it’s only small, so would casualties from a road traffic accident be taken there?  Would they not go to a large hospital or is the clinic part of a large hospital?  Maybe I’ve misunderstood something or it’s an American thing?  Is it some sort of private practice?


Not an American thing. The idea is the main hospital is in the middle of the city and deals with the majority of health issues while the clinic is located in the outskirts and meant to deal with car accidents and that sorta fare. There are actually a few of these kinds of clinics out in the sticks. The idea really came from living in Ithaca, NY for a year. The main medical center in that town is basically a small, bare bones medical clinic. You'd have to drive some ways to find one of the big ones.

But yes, the boards have "jurisdiction" over the clinic which is why the Savages have to buy it themselves if they want to continue their careers. The boards would rather just shut it down for its uselessness.


Quoted from alffy
Coop realises that the Savages are doctoring the files, no pun intended, about the patients but does nothing after, this is a bit strange to me.  Lydia has suspicions and this is a serious matter, perhaps murder so it seems strange that Coop isn’t at least interested in finding out more, after all the Savages are horrible to them and even taking part of their wages.  It could be a way to get even, maybe even blackmail them to keep his mouth shut?


I wouldn't say Coop isn't interested so much as skeptical and, as the story progresses, just flat out afraid of what could happen from messing with the Savages. He's known them longer than Lydia after all. He's really supposed to be sort of a drone worker who only wants to survive and doesn't question authority. Still, he is a tad fickle, isn't he? On the one hand, I think he'd like to watch Lydia succeed while on the other, he doesn't want her to put herself at risk.

I'll look over his character in the rewrite for any inconsistencies. I actually have a feeling his fickle nature might work for his character. I like the idea of a character torn between their own opposing emotions and that seems to be the case with Coop. Then again, you could be right; he could just be a tad inconsistent. Like I said, I'll look over him.


Quoted from alffy
Some of your characters react strangely at times throughout this script.  Lydia starts off as a uncaring bitch, to put it mildly but then later shows her caring nurse side by helping Mitch, who she loathed earlier.  Coop seems totally uninterested by the Savages murderous behaviour at times and then intrigued to find out more information at others.


Okay. We've discussed Coop. You may be right like I said. Lydia is a different story. Honestly, I don't think there's a moment in the script where she acts out of character. At first, she doesn't want to deal with Mitch even though it's her responsibility. Her emotions get in the way of that. She teams up with Mitch to solve the Savages mystery just given the evidence and her hatred for the Savages. But she still doesn't like him. Once she realizes he's been telling the truth and that he's in danger, she goes to his aid. Like I said, she's generally aware of her responsibilities and is a believer in the Hippocratic Oath, even if she's rather just turn her back. Her bedside manner does change drastically toward the end, you are correct. But consider she's just been forced to kill another human being for her own survival and lost a close friend in the process, not to mention after all of it, her life is still in danger. At this point, she's incredibly distraught and completely drops her cold, philosophical facade altogether, as I think anyone would.

I will give to you that Lydia has mood swings. In fact, you're dead on. She's a complicated girl and has to struggle with a lot of opposing feelings throughout the script. I think, for the most part though, she's pretty stable and makes decisions based on her needs presented by the world around her even if they're not always the decisions she wants to make. She doesn't really lose control until the end. After my first couple horror/thriller scripts, I've grown tired of writing "strong female characters" that are basically stand-ins for guys. I do develop them and try to make them real people but when the going gets tough, admittedly, they do kinda regress. With this one, I really wanted to write a character with real female essence and who isn't just reduced to animalistic instinct midway through. Hopefully one of the female writers around here will tell me if I've done a good job. I'd like to think I have.

Anyway, hope this clears some things up. Thanks again for the read! Always good to hear from you, dude.


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