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Condemned by Dena Mckinnon (pale yellow) - Short, Gothic Horror - In the dark times of Christianity, both the innocent and not so innocent find themselves condemned to death. 9 pages (OWC Re-right) - pdf, format
I like the new ending, Dena. Nice little twist. I think the rest still needs a lot more polish. The dialogue in your newer feature is much more natural. Of course, this one is your first, so practice makes perfect!
So, I did not read the original version of this, but I do recall opening the file, seeing those daunting blocks of dense text and shutting it back down. People really do respond that way -- it is no myth.
But you have responded well to that issue. This reads smooth and the pages look right. I remind you here -- though we have already discussed it elsewhere -- to set your scene before tossing up the SUPER.
When you format your dialogue, there is no reason to repeat the full name of the character. Once they have been introduced, first names alone are sufficient.
When Samuel enters the jail, you should clarify that it is Bea who is unshackled. A moment of confusion there for the reader.
The escape tunnel is a bit too convenient here -- introduced too quickly -- and it seems the men would know of it. In fact, later you reveal that there is an actual doorway. Better to have it concealed somehow -- more secretive -- and then Orillia can reveal it to Bea.
On page 8 you make a small error when you go directly from your slugline into dialogue. I have read that this is not done, and that you should always have at least a little something there to set the scene. I do not know how iron-clad that rule is, but it makes sense to me, as it just looks a bit wrong on the page otherwise.
You have a nice twist at the end. I would like to see a bit more of that from Bea, just for the sake of fun, as you do bring things to a close quite abruptly after that quick reveal.
It is also (a little) troubling that your twist kind of upends everything that we are told about Orillia, and the types of women to whom she appears. I am not sure if this was intentional misdirection or oversight, but it feels a bit like the latter. You might want to adjust the backstory that Lila imparts to Bea -- turning it into a moment for a little "hidden" foreshadowing of what is to come -- which in the end is more satisfying than outright misinformation prior to a twist ending.
Overall a good effort that shows you have quickly grasped many of the basics, which is always great to see, and bodes well for future endeavors.
It's good to see you tackling the rewrite in a timely manner. Most of writing is rewriting!
I looked over my notes from the first draft. You've addressed the novelistic prose pretty well at the start.
P. 2 There's something amiss in this sentence. Bea kicks and moans like sounds as she is dragged out of the room.
Is this a new ending? I don't recall the twist about Bea. This ending undermines the "legend" you establish early on. Hence, you;re misinforming your audience as they go along. No one likes an ending where they discover they were "cheated" by the script.
Tweaking the legend could help out to this end. Not a big change. Perhaps Orillia always helps the "innocent", but woe to you if she finds out otherwise. Something like that might set up your surprise a little better.
Overall, this is quite an improvement. Keep sticking with the rewrites, it's what separates dreamers from doers.
LATEST NEWS CineVita Films is producing a short based on my new feature!
Page 1: “By order of…” This is kind of an awkward sentence. Shouldn’t it be “by the power vested in me by the Church,” or “by order of the Church Bea will be put to death for witchcraft,” or something? Surely the Church didn’t order that these men charge her, because either they work for the Church, in which case the Church is charging her, not ordering other to charge her, or they’re secular, in which case the Church doesn’t give them orders at all (or at least, they don’t openly declare it). Haha. Off to nit-picky start. While I’m nitpicking, there are lots of little things in the description that read as odd. “A door swings open” – doesn’t “the” door swing open? Or is it a random one elsewhere in the room? And regarding the slug, it’s not her bedroom. Bea Clevenger has no property and owned by her husband. “A light in the distance can be seen” – “can be seen” is unnecessary, here. I don’t usually nitpick. I don’t know why I’m nitpicking. That’s the last of the nitpickery.
Page 2: Jon doesn’t, uh, make much of an effort, eh? He runs after the wagon – why didn’t he try to stop them in the first place? Or at least say something to her as she was dragged away? At the very least, “If they let you off with just torture, don’t forget to pick up milk on the way home!” In seriousness, though, not having Jon do something is a missed opportunity to show us something about their relationship and deepen our connection to the characters.
Page 3: Would’ve liked the appearance of the ghost to be a tiny bit bigger. Maybe another opportunity to show us something about Bea, here – like she isn’t afraid, or she is, or she says something pithy. I don’t know, but I don’t feel like there’s anything to connect us to Bea except her circumstance, which is bad. Other women are chained in the cell? Surely they would have been visible, or at least audible, the night before.
Page 4: Not much tension built up surrounding the ghost before it’s reveled that she’s nice. I definitely feel that the first ghost scene should have been a big one.
Page 5: As much frustrating fun as the kangaroo court is, I think it could go even further. Ever read the Witch’s Hammer? If you’re interested, check it out. I think you can definitely afford to make Nicholas and the crowd even nastier. And for the record, they wouldn’t hang her until she confessed of her own “free will.” ‘Course, they’d torture the holy heck outta her until she confessed or died. The only way she can be sentenced to hang quickly is if she confesses.
Page 6: I’m thinking that with the relationship between Bea and Orillia the way it is, you shouldn’t have had the scene with Lila explaining everything. I think this story would have a lot more power if Bea was in the room alone, and eventually realized that Orillia was good through dealing with her directly. This would push the scare factor up early on, and then make the realization that Orillia is benevolent a lot more dynamic. Just to be clear, what I’m suggesting is that the first scene at night be made into a big scary sequence in which Bea is apparently “tormented” by Orillia – maybe she even confesses to witchery somehow because of the scene with Orillia? – and then that the scene with Lila the next day be cut altogether. Then, the scene after the trial could be the scene where Bea finally faces Orillia and learns that she’s good. Just spitballing here.
Page 7: “…focused on his deviant task.” A small thing here, but important in writing overall, I think. It’s best to avoid placing value judgements on characters within your descriptive writing. The reader may find Cullen’s task to be “deviant,” but they should arrive at this belief through their own understanding rather than being informed that it’s so. This increases the power of your storytelling by engaging the audience. It also saves space; I mean, we know this is deviant behaviour. This also helps actors out; for an actor to accurately portray a “bad” character, the actor has to be able to understand the character’s motives and believe in them. If the actor’s constantly reminded by the script that what he or she is doing is “bad,” it makes it more difficult for them to play the character well. “As your crimson blood trickles out, so shall you…” What does that mean? She’s going to trickle out? Does he mean the devil is going to trickle out of her? “…charms on all their wrists…” How many do they have? I think one thing this script needs is a review of the dialogue for what exactly the logic of each sentence is. I think it’s clear for the most part what characters mean to say, but it definitely reads awkwardly. Ooh and again, this scene should come before the trial. This would be more historically accurate and also, in my opinion, more engaging.
Page 8: Say, shouldn’t Orillia maybe have helped her escape earlier? I’m guessing that this was the only room she could escape from. In that case, I think there’s an opportunity for a great scene earlier where Orillia tells her that she can help her get out, but she can only do so once Bea has been horribly tortured, so Bea is going to have to be strong and make it through. Might add some drama to the torture scene, and generally be cool!
Page 9: Like the ending. But I guess she shoulda done that earlier, eh?
I think there’s a ton of awesome stuff in this story! What is so compelling about it, and what I think the story needs to focus on, is the relationship between Bea and Orillia. I made some suggestions above, but in the light of the ending, what I really wanted to see was the realization for Orillia that while she had been killed for being innocent of witchcraft, she had helped escape a woman who was guilty of witchcraft. I mean, that’s really interesting! But that’s where the story ends.
I think this story’s too short for everything it contains. What is needed here is focus – and I suggest on the Bea/Orillia relationship, because that’s what compelled me most about the script – and expansion of whatever area you choose to focus on.
I have to leave now but I may revisit with some further comments. I thought there was some interesting stuff here. Great job!