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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror Scripts  ›  Forest Grove Moderators: bert
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  Author    Forest Grove  (currently 2492 views)
Don
Posted: January 24th, 2011, 5:44pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Forest Grove by Roy Mendez (RoyMendez1991) - Horror - The quiet town of Forest Grove is shaken up when a masked killer begins to murder the town's young high school students. 139 pages - pdf, format


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RoyMendez1991
Posted: January 24th, 2011, 8:47pm Report to Moderator
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This is my script. I know it's lengthy, amateurish, and probably cliche (although I tried to not make it too predictable).
I'd appreciate any and all comments, even if just a few pages are read for formatting errors and such. Thank you.
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SarahMiller42
Posted: January 28th, 2011, 4:39pm Report to Moderator
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I read the first few pages. I'm not a horror writer so I can't answer those questions but I did notice that you seem to use the word "is" a lot. The problem with "is" is that it takes things out of the active present and puts them in the passive. Screenplays should be in the active so you can picture things moving and happening now in stead of just watching for a distance.

For example
Jane runs.  vs. Jane is running.
Jane runs, is the more active of the two.

I liked the image of the swing, but better phrasing might be, "A lone swing blows in the soft wind." Simpler and more active.
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RoyMendez1991
Posted: January 28th, 2011, 5:26pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from SarahMiller42
I read the first few pages. I'm not a horror writer so I can't answer those questions but I did notice that you seem to use the word "is" a lot. The problem with "is" is that it takes things out of the active present and puts them in the passive. Screenplays should be in the active so you can picture things moving and happening now in stead of just watching for a distance.

For example
Jane runs.  vs. Jane is running.
Jane runs, is the more active of the two.

I liked the image of the swing, but better phrasing might be, "A lone swing blows in the soft wind." Simpler and more active.


Thanks for your feedback, Sarah. Reading the first few pages over, I see that you're right. I'll have to revise the entire script to make it flow better.
Thank you for the advice.
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Dreamscale
Posted: January 28th, 2011, 8:21pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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Hey Roy, I like your attitude and will throw you a few bones to help.  It’s rare that people accept criticism and understand they need help.  So many “writers” in here think they’re fantastic, when they’re so far from it.  Hope this helps.

What Sarah is talking about is “passive verbiage” and you do want to try to avoid it as often as possible.  Using “is” and “are” connected with an “ing” verb is the issue.  It doesn’t change the way a script would be filmed, but it is a red flag that the writer doesn’t really understand what he’s doing, and you want to avoid all the red flags you can.  Pro writers sometimes do it, but that doesn’t mean you should.  Sometimes, you’ll find it’s tough to avoid, so just do your best to write in the active tense as often as you can.

OK, first of all, your subject matter is seriously old news, as you’re well aware.  We’ve all read and seen this movie hundreds of times, so you really need a gimmick if this is where you want to go.  I don’t know if you have such a gimmick, but if it reads and plays out like I imagine it will, interest is going to be slim here.

Secondly, at 139 pages, I can tell you right now, before I read a single word, that you’ve got major problems here in your writing.  I’m sure it is way over written in terms of description and probably dialogue as well.  The old rule of thumb is that 1 page of text equals 1 minute of film, so your script would clock in at 2 hours and 19 minutes plus opening and closing credits, or basically 2 ½ hours, which is way too long for a film dealing with this subject matter.  You should shoot for around 90 pages, and if necessary or warranted, up to 120 pages, but that’s really pushing it.

Let’s see what we can find on the first few pages…

Page 1 – You don’t want to use words like “a shot of” or anything like that.  It’s amateurish and wastes space.  Also, make sure you avoid using things like “we see” or “we hear”.  No place in a script for these, although, again, you will see Pros doing this…but they can, and we all shouldn’t.

Be careful of using generic descriptions that really don’t say anything, or mean different things to different people.  “nice home”  “very bright”  “very expensive” – Provide visual details that will make your reader know exactly what you’re intending.  For instance, “very expensive” means nothing…realty costs vary wildly across the country and what’s expensive to someone fresh out of college probably isn’t to a seasoned, wealthy business professional in his 50’s.  Stick to exact details and let your readers draw their own conclusions.

Don’t repeat your Slug in the opening line of the Slug.  It’s a waste and another red flag waving.

When you intro a character, just come right out and intro them properly with their name and a brief description.  Don’t say “a girl”, “a guy”, “a person”, whatever.  Again, this is a waste of space and serves no purpose at all.

“Two hands…” – OK, listen, I understand what you’re going for here and why you’re doing it, but you want to stay away from playing director whenever possible.  This is actually a POV shot from Shannon’s perspective.  It’s not up to you to direct what will be filmed and how the shot will look.  Just tell the story and leave the directing up to the director.

Watch overuse of “beat” and understand that you’ve used it incorrectly here.  It stands on its own line like a wrylie, and in your software, should be labeled as a “parenthetical”.

I actually like the dialogue between the 2 girls.  It’s playful and comes off as very believable to me, so Kudos on that!

You need to turn off the “CONTINUED” crap on your software that’s showing up on the top and bottom of every page.  It’s a complete waste and in this case (139 pages) is adding approximately 5 pages to the length of your script!  So, the good news is that once you take these things out of here, you’re down to 134 pages…34 or so more to go!

Page 2 – Watch your overuse of wrylies.  They are irritating for readers, unless they really add something, and, they take up an extra line again.  Use them very sparingly.

“There is a POINT OF VIEW OF THE RECORDING SCREEN.” – POV’s can be effective when used when a video camera is in play, but you’ve got to format it correctly.  This is far from correct.

Page 3 – “Shannon face indicates that she realizes that Natalie is right.” – “Shannon” – should be “Shannon’s”.  The entire sentence is poor as written.

Page 4 – You don’t want to ever go over 4 lines in a passage.  It reads bulky and makes it harder to read.  Yeah, Pros do it sometimes, but you shouldn’t.  Keep every passage at 4 lines and preferably under.  The ending of this 5 liner is also poor “that Shannon walked up”.  You could actually just cut this out and you’ll be at 4 lines and have a much more effective passage.

When she walks outside, you need a new Slug, stating that we are now in an EXT scene.

Transitions like “CUT TO” and the like are pretty much a waste of space.  Avoid them unless they really add to the script…here it definitely does not.  When you have a new Slug, it’s obvious that we’re cutting from the last scene into the new one.

OK, I scanned ahead and see that your intro runs 8 pages, which IMO, is too long for what you’re attempting.   You can write this in 5 pages, IMO…and should.  It’s a good exercise for starters.  Cut this thing down to 5 pages and try not to really take out content…just take out excess verbiage and other things I mentioned above.

Hope this helps.  Take care!


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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RoyMendez1991
Posted: January 28th, 2011, 11:03pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dreamscale
Hey Roy, I like your attitude and will throw you a few bones to help.  It’s rare that people accept criticism and understand they need help.  So many “writers” in here think they’re fantastic, when they’re so far from it.  Hope this helps.

What Sarah is talking about is “passive verbiage” and you do want to try to avoid it as often as possible.  Using “is” and “are” connected with an “ing” verb is the issue.  It doesn’t change the way a script would be filmed, but it is a red flag that the writer doesn’t really understand what he’s doing, and you want to avoid all the red flags you can.  Pro writers sometimes do it, but that doesn’t mean you should.  Sometimes, you’ll find it’s tough to avoid, so just do your best to write in the active tense as often as you can.

OK, first of all, your subject matter is seriously old news, as you’re well aware.  We’ve all read and seen this movie hundreds of times, so you really need a gimmick if this is where you want to go.  I don’t know if you have such a gimmick, but if it reads and plays out like I imagine it will, interest is going to be slim here.

Secondly, at 139 pages, I can tell you right now, before I read a single word, that you’ve got major problems here in your writing.  I’m sure it is way over written in terms of description and probably dialogue as well.  The old rule of thumb is that 1 page of text equals 1 minute of film, so your script would clock in at 2 hours and 19 minutes plus opening and closing credits, or basically 2 ½ hours, which is way too long for a film dealing with this subject matter.  You should shoot for around 90 pages, and if necessary or warranted, up to 120 pages, but that’s really pushing it.

Let’s see what we can find on the first few pages…

Page 1 – You don’t want to use words like “a shot of” or anything like that.  It’s amateurish and wastes space.  Also, make sure you avoid using things like “we see” or “we hear”.  No place in a script for these, although, again, you will see Pros doing this…but they can, and we all shouldn’t.

Be careful of using generic descriptions that really don’t say anything, or mean different things to different people.  “nice home”  “very bright”  “very expensive” – Provide visual details that will make your reader know exactly what you’re intending.  For instance, “very expensive” means nothing…realty costs vary wildly across the country and what’s expensive to someone fresh out of college probably isn’t to a seasoned, wealthy business professional in his 50’s.  Stick to exact details and let your readers draw their own conclusions.

Don’t repeat your Slug in the opening line of the Slug.  It’s a waste and another red flag waving.

When you intro a character, just come right out and intro them properly with their name and a brief description.  Don’t say “a girl”, “a guy”, “a person”, whatever.  Again, this is a waste of space and serves no purpose at all.

“Two hands…” – OK, listen, I understand what you’re going for here and why you’re doing it, but you want to stay away from playing director whenever possible.  This is actually a POV shot from Shannon’s perspective.  It’s not up to you to direct what will be filmed and how the shot will look.  Just tell the story and leave the directing up to the director.

Watch overuse of “beat” and understand that you’ve used it incorrectly here.  It stands on its own line like a wrylie, and in your software, should be labeled as a “parenthetical”.

I actually like the dialogue between the 2 girls.  It’s playful and comes off as very believable to me, so Kudos on that!

You need to turn off the “CONTINUED” crap on your software that’s showing up on the top and bottom of every page.  It’s a complete waste and in this case (139 pages) is adding approximately 5 pages to the length of your script!  So, the good news is that once you take these things out of here, you’re down to 134 pages…34 or so more to go!

Page 2 – Watch your overuse of wrylies.  They are irritating for readers, unless they really add something, and, they take up an extra line again.  Use them very sparingly.

“There is a POINT OF VIEW OF THE RECORDING SCREEN.” – POV’s can be effective when used when a video camera is in play, but you’ve got to format it correctly.  This is far from correct.

Page 3 – “Shannon face indicates that she realizes that Natalie is right.” – “Shannon” – should be “Shannon’s”.  The entire sentence is poor as written.

Page 4 – You don’t want to ever go over 4 lines in a passage.  It reads bulky and makes it harder to read.  Yeah, Pros do it sometimes, but you shouldn’t.  Keep every passage at 4 lines and preferably under.  The ending of this 5 liner is also poor “that Shannon walked up”.  You could actually just cut this out and you’ll be at 4 lines and have a much more effective passage.

When she walks outside, you need a new Slug, stating that we are now in an EXT scene.

Transitions like “CUT TO” and the like are pretty much a waste of space.  Avoid them unless they really add to the script…here it definitely does not.  When you have a new Slug, it’s obvious that we’re cutting from the last scene into the new one.

OK, I scanned ahead and see that your intro runs 8 pages, which IMO, is too long for what you’re attempting.   You can write this in 5 pages, IMO…and should.  It’s a good exercise for starters.  Cut this thing down to 5 pages and try not to really take out content…just take out excess verbiage and other things I mentioned above.

Hope this helps.  Take care!


Thanks for taking the time to do an in-depth review, Dreamscale. And like I said earlier, I know it's amateurish, cliche, and lengthy. This was really just a test-run for possible later screenplays I write. I actually wrote this in five days, which I'm now realizing is probably noticeable. I'm here to learn and any feedback, good or bad, is appreciated.

I knew the length was going to be a problem and I was gonna cut it down but I figured I'd post it all so I know that when I revise it, I do it correctly. I'm not expecting anyone to read it all. I'm mostly here for formatting corrections, which you've given me. So, thank you for that.

This script needs a serious overhaul. I'm sure we both realize that. Again, thank you for taking the time to look over the first few pages. I'll be sure to revise the scripts with your suggestions and hopefully have a better and shorter script up soon.

Also, thank you for the dialogue compliment.
It's good to know I got one thing right.
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Dreamscale
Posted: January 28th, 2011, 11:28pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Roy, I'm Jeff, BTW.

You wrote this in 5 days?  Like from conception to completion...5 days?  If that's so, that's seriously AMAZING!  I'm shocked...staggered...applauding, even.  If that's the case, and this is your first venture into screenwriting, you've got a serious and MAJOR jump on just about everyone I can possibly think of.

Wow, this changes alot.  People struggle with what we call our OWC's (1 week challenge) in which we get a genre and theme, and have 7 days to write a 12 page script.  The vast majority are God awful, with mistakes on pretty much every line.  Your script was actually cleaner than the majority of features I see in here, and most take many months to write a feature, if not more.

Learn the basics here, clean up your writing and tech stuff, and brother, you are on your way!

Now, as I said earlier, this sounds and reads like a clone of Scream, which isn't good news.  If it's merely a test run, that's fine.  Exercises are a great way to practice until that idea comes to you. So, read some scripts in here, provide feedback, figure out what kind of voice and style you're after, learn form both well written scripts and piss poor ones...then, come up with an original idea, make it your own, and take your time writing it.  Cross your T's and dot all your I's in terms of plot and details.

Best of luck.  You're off to a great start, as far as I can see.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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RoyMendez1991
Posted: January 29th, 2011, 2:30am Report to Moderator
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Yeah, I wrote this over winter break (I'm a college student) and I'm recently unemployed so I didn't really have any other responsibilities at the time, which is probably why I finished it so fast. I did a brief outline in a couple of hours, and started working on the script right after. I finished it in five days, then I left it alone for a month and then reread and changed some things (mostly typos and dialogue) the day before I submitted it here.

Thanks. I've been writing unprofessionally since I was in middle school, but this was my first leap into screenplay writing. So I've had a lot of practice telling a story, just not in this format.

I was afraid it would be too similar to Scream. (I actually even made a reference to it in my script) That's actually one of my favorite horror movies, and I guess I unintentionally recreated that same vibe. But again, this was just a test run and I'm sure if I spent more time really mapping out the story and characters, I could do a lot better. Especially with the killer's motive in this script. Probably one of the weaker points, I think.

Glad to meet you, Jeff. Thanks for all the great advice.
Unfortunately I probably won't be able to really spend time on another script (at least with the focus and dedication I'd like to have) until spring break, but I'll be sure to hang around and provide feedback (mostly on content since I'm still learning formatting myself) for others.
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