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Mostly good stuff. You effectively created a spooky mood. Actually, the set up overall was well done. I am not one to go over the writing with a fine comb, but I saw no problems at all, seemed to be well done.
The biggest part of a story, and the hardest to get right, is the dialogue. This went mostly well, until the very end. These guys are paranormal investigators. They spend countless hours hoping to catch an orb on film for a fleeting second, or a strange noise that could be a voice. And then, wham, not only do they encounter a ghost, but they have a crystal clear conversation with one. That would be enough to blow their minds, but let's add in the fact that they also experienced releasing this ghost to move on to heaven, a pretty powerful moment which should have repercussions on thoughts of their own afterlife. And yet, when this life altering event is over, they talk about coffee and being hungry. It seems a little out of place. So maybe you could end this a quarter page earlier to avoid that awkwardness.
Or...you could explore some other options. Different things you can consider in a story like this. You could develop some character arcs. A non believer who becomes a believer would be the obvious first choice. If that seems a little cliche, you could work out something else.
I have not been doing this very long Catherine. A few months back I spent some time considering what makes an effective short. There's no correct answer to that, but for me, with a short we're hoping to create one lasting impression: an emotion, an image, a thought. Something. We can explore more than one thing, but we really hope the leave people with one strong impression.
A lot of things you could do with this in that regard. There are issues of guilt, justice, loneliness, the afterlife, forgiveness to name some. I think I would play around with the ending some more, and what it takes to free this spirit. Right now, this song plays an effective note, but with some tweaking you could leave us with a more memorable song.
Thank you, leitskev, for the read. I'm distressed that the ending fell flat for you, it was intended as an infusion of life, sense perception etc. for the investigators, post ghost-encounter. Also, I had hoped that Jacob's earlier dialogue had conveyed some of the emotional upheaval that you find missing in the story -- I'll give more thought to these areas, for sure, and I greatly appreciate your comments and your time.
If by ending you mean the last few lines, it was not so much flat as it seemed unlikely. I think I know what you're saying as far as heightened senses, but I still don't think they would react that way. I mean, something miraculous happens, you don't say, 'Let's go grab a bite somewhere, what're you in the mood for?' . You'd be in a state of shock. Or you might be contemplative. Especially with paranormal investigators, this being their Holy Grail.
As far as the emotional upheaval, I think I got all that. What I am suggesting is more sharpening it up for impact. Hopefully you'll get some reads from regulars so you won't be stuck with just my opinion, though I'm happy to give it.
I've seen you be very generous with your time for peer reviews. I'm pleased to have the chance to return the gesture.
Ironically, this felt like a belated submission for the last OWC. It's all one room, three actors, this would be a fairly simple shoot.
As to the story, I thought you handled it pretty well. At times, I got the impression Jacob was not a ghost hunter. Perhaps, he's relatively new at it or something.
You hinted at Jacob's past relatives being involved. I wish you had gone further with that. I'd respond to that more than the light show at the climax. A personal connection to Marie's fate would draw me in more. Perhaps showing more of a bond between Abner and Jacob could help too. It seems those two didn't know each other all too well.
Overall, this is a good read. My eye didn't wander from the page. Though the dialogue was a tad expository at times, but never overt.
I get the exotic smell tie to the ghostly presence. I liked that it wasn't explained and led to the "desire" for coffee and donuts. It makes sense to me that a supernatural experience would make one loopy. As if going out for coffee will help them "relive" the experience through the scent.
Keep writing and rewriting!
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Howdy, Catherine. Thought I'd return the favor, since you read my OWC script.
Like Brett, I immediately thought this looked exactly like an OWC entry, as it meets all the requirements. Would have been a welcome entry.
IMO, it's pretty good for what it is and what it sets out to do. I think a few more pages would have helped develop more of a story here, as well as add something to the too quick ending...as in some power.
A couple things I want to bring up, just to help, not to put down.
1) Your opening Slug is problematic, IMO. No reason for the quotation marks. By not including something like "OLD HOUSE" or the like, it's tough to visualize this room.
2) In the same vein as # 1, your opening passage is kind of a waste, as you use an unfilmable "in an old house" - but since we're in an INT. scene in this bedroom, we won't know we're in an old house, which is why I recommend setting the scene properly with your opening Slug - "INT. OLD HOUSE - MARIE LARSON'S ROOM - NIGHT"
Also, going down into your description, you don't offer any description of the physical room, and since we don't know where it is, I just see 4 walls and a door. Later in the script, you say that car lights shine through the window, so you should have described the room in a bit more detail right up front, so we know there's a window overlooking a street.
3) For me, the dialogue between the 2 men could have been a bit better,more revealing of personality, relationship between them, etc. Not bad at all, though.
4) I would have liked the backstory of Marie explained up front, before her appearance, so we have an idea what we're in for. If you had done this, I think the actual dialogue between the 2 men and Marie's ghost cold have been a bit more powerful.
5) Like Kevin, I agree that the very end is not only anti-climatic, but also a tonal change, almost to comedy, which doesn't quite work for me. Maybe if they actually discussed what just happened a little more, and you showed the wonder and amazement they just experienced, you could actually end where you did, with the coffee/hungry exchange, but as it sits now, for me at least, it came off strangely and ended too quickly.
Good effort here, though. Hope to see you in the October OWC!
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Jeff, thanks very much for the comments, the technical assists are especially useful to me. The remarks about backstory between characters and the tonal change of the ending are being given much consideration. My hope was that Abner's self-importance and Jacob's home-spun chivalry would make them somewhat comic characters (as ordinary people in extraordinary situations can seem) and that the lightness of the ending would convey their exhileration, clearly it hasn't but that was my intention.
With the ending, as I said, I think it can definitely work the way you want it to, but IMO, there just needs to be a little more "WOW" from the 2 of them, before they start talking about eating and drinking coffee.
It's a good effort, IMO.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
So this was a ghost story that was not supposed to be spooky, but light hearted?
I read something the other day that lists the most common mistakes amateurs make, and being an amateur, I paid close attention. Near the top was this: changing tone during the script.
It seemed to me you did a fantastic job setting the tone here. Granted, as a reader, I bring certain assumptions when I know it's a ghost story. But I think these are assumptions most would share. We had a ghost and two paranormal investigators, one of which seemed new and partly freaked out. Perfect.
Then we had a ghost who had been wrongly executed for witchcraft hundreds of years ago. Excellent and very consistent with the expected and, to me, established tone.
Tension is built and more productive contact is made with the ghost. And now we've added a problem to be solved, one completely consistent with the tone and direction of things: to free the ghost.
Abner brings self importance to the tale, comes off as the old unflappable expert. But in reality he's puffed himself up and has no serious experience of anything paranormal. Jacob is more sincere. He's nervous and doubtful and doesn't fight that feeling because he has nothing to prove to himself, being a veteran of hard wars. Again, a well set up drama backdrop for things.
The appearance of the ghost shatters Abner's illusion of control. Jacob, who never required such an illusion, and more honest with himself, is thus more capable of dealing effectively with the situation. Works fine.
So I'm not sure if it was my expectations that this was a ghost story with standard tension and spookiness that got in the way, or if you started out creating spooky tension and switched tone along the way. I think you have a really effective if slightly standard ghost story that's spooky and creates a crisis to be resolved. I'm just not sure I'd go light hearted in tone. But what in the bloody heck do I know!
This was a pretty good short. It kept me engaged and I blew through the pages in no time. I just have one question. Have the main characters ever encountered any actual ghosts prior to this? If not, they probably should have been more freaked out by the experience.
Thank you for reading the script, your comments are very helpful to me. My intention, about Jacob and Abner, was that neither character had experienced a "full body apparition" before. How much freak-out to show... I want the audience to believe that the characters are stunned and afraid but motivated to try to communicate with Marie -- so they push past their fear. I'm still trying to refine that part of the story.
I enjoyed the read and would love to see a revision based on your interchange above.
I don't wish to repeat other remarks but on reflection I wondered where the power struggle/imbalance between the two men had gone by the end.
It appears that abner is the boss and acts like it, although he is also inexperienced. Jaccob is experienced in other matters but is the junior. This set up seems ripe for tension and one thought it that the power is reversed at the end as a result, or the conclusion of the event, thereby setting up another struggle in the opposite direction. May add a touch of the bite that seems required.
The Elevator Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards. Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
I think this was pretty well written, and it was a decent story to boot. I was interested in it the whole way through. Marie Lawson was a very interesting character and/or apparition. I would have loved to read about her life in the 1800's.
Where this story didn't work for me though, was Abner and Jacob. It was moreso Abner that I didn't think fit. Neither of them don't really act their age. In fact, Abner comes off like he's in his early 20's. Definately not 60's. Jacob was okay, but he had his moments where he seemed extremely immature for his age, too. And, he was in the marines to boot? Definately couldn't tell that from his character.
Towards, the end, Abner and Jacob repeat themselves a lot, and that got very annoying to me. "How 'bout that, how 'bout that, I could, I could pour you --" "What ... what..." "she's... she's supposed to" "They thought... they thought wrong." "I... I apologize," "Maybe I, can I, can we guide you?" "Sure, for you, sure, sure! Heaven and angels and light, for you." "Now, now, you can't tell me" "by the power of, by the power vested in me" "Well, sir! Well... I guess" "Forgot to ask her about her dress. (incredulously) Was going to ask about her dress!" "we'll play, we can play the recording," "I could... I could sure use a cup!"
I understand they were nervous about seeing a ghost right in front of them, but I think that was too much stammering for them. It just got a little annoying and took me out of the story for a moment.
Like I said though, Marie was a very very interesting character, and the story seemed well written to me, though I have to admit I don't focus too much on proper formatting and the like.
This story definately didn't disappoint me. It's just that I think I would have enjoyed it more had the focus been more on Marie Lawson and less on the bumbling Jacob and Abner.