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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  4AM's Prologue Moderators: bert
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  Author    4AM's Prologue  (currently 1837 views)
Don
Posted: May 30th, 2013, 8:24pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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4AM's Prologue by Kevin Woghiren (quantumkw) - Short, Independent - Coming of Age story about a young adult reflecting on life's linearity and his resistance to change. 23 pages - pdf, format


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danbotha
Posted: May 31st, 2013, 3:00am Report to Moderator
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Hi Kevin,

I selected your script at random, as I tend to do when I don't see that any of the regulars have posted anything up of interest. I don't recognize the name, so I'll keep it brief for now. If you show up on the boards, I'll be more willing to provide you some extra feedback that could be of use to you.

In general, this screenplay needs a lot of work. Sorry to sound harsh, if that's the way you interpret this, but your formatting and your writing is unfortunately all over the place. Currently, if I were you, I would focus on getting your formatting down to a tee, before you start correcting your writing. Right now, I don't believe that any film producer who was serious about their job would get past the first page. This is not down to a bad story, but more down to the fact that what is presented on the page before me is not what any professional would call a screenplay. You could have the greatest story in the world and still not get your work read, simply because the formatting and overall presentation isn't up to scratch.

I'll begin with the logline. Firstly, for me it doesn't really sell your idea. I'll agree that I've seen a lot worse than this, but I'd avoid saying things like "Coming of age story" in your logline. To me, it's redundant and unnecessary. Instead, I would just write something like this:

"A young adult reflects on life's linearity and his resistance to change." - Even in that state, the logline doesn't give much details/insight for the reader as to what they're actually going to read. It's all vague. Try and keep it concise and explain the actual story involved, rather than the themes of your story. Make sense?

Then there is the actual formatting of the screenplay...

On Page 1 you open with the following:

"PITCH DARK INTRODUCTION" - I think you'll find it's more acceptable in the screenwriting community to write any scenes that occur over a black screen under a slug that reads: "OVER BLACK" instead.

Page 1: "Narration begins" - No need to write this in the description. That much will be obvious as soon as your character starts talking.

Unless this is a TV sitcom episode, I'd advise not writing in ALL CAPS in the description.

I am completely confused by the following:

                            The narrator
                            (as a baby) has
                            just woken up
                            in the hot car
                            reliving the
                            experience in
                            flashback that
                            he began
                            narrating

- What's this even supposed to be? Why is it centered?

Page 1: "THE NARRATOR (FIRST PERSON VIEW) WAKES UP DISORIENTED BY THE
HEAT AND LACK OF AIR AND LOOKS AROUND FOR HIS FATHER WHO HAD
LEFT TO RUN AN ERRAND." - Avoid writing anything that is redundant to the story. Try not to include details that an audience watching the film could not see directly on the screen. For example telling us the father has run off on an errand isn't necessary to the story. What is necessary is the fact that he is not there. I'd try leaving space for important things that the audience can physically see unfold on screen.

Other then that, there are various other issues with this one, starting with the spelling and grammar mistakes, which litter the first page. In addition to that, you should consider avoiding big chunks of dialogue that may intimidate readers who have to try and plow through your work.

Sorry to be harsh, but the formatting as a whole is all over the place, preventing me from reading into this one further.

Read more scripts and learn from this site.

Good luck and keep writing,

Dan


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RegularJohn
Posted: May 31st, 2013, 5:10pm Report to Moderator
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Every 23 months for 23 days, Johnny writes.

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Hey Kevin.

Dan has covered a lot of the basics as far as formatting goes so I won't go into that too much.

I do agree that the "coming of age" sounds a bit cliche to me and everything following it doesn't sound too enticing to say the least.  I would include a little more, maybe the spark that started the spontaneous urge to change.  As it sits there's just nothing there really.

One thing that hung me up a bit is that in your opening dialogue, the narrator talks about how his father left him in a car when he was 4 or 5 but the scene cuts to him as a "baby".  I don't if 4 or 5 is "baby" age for you but i'm imagining an actual infant in a car seat.  Just reads a bit confusing to me the way you set it up.

A lot of the capped action that follows (don't know why you're capping your action lines) is unfilmable.  Cut it down.

That huge block of narration needs to be broken up and at least mixed in with some action.  Having your character describing to us what's happening is like having a middleman in the storytelling, at least it is for me.  Why not describe what's happening yourself and have his panicked thoughts alongside the action lines?  To me it would pack more of a punch to be in the car with the narrator (I suggest naming him by the way.  It adds a more personal feeling and connection IMO) as opposed to just going off his thoughts.

Not sure why you have that note in his dialogue.  If it's set in a Nigerian street, have it there.  If he's unsure where it was, then I suppose the location of the street just isn't important.

Tag an age to narrator (I really can't see a reason why you wouldn't name him.  There must be some very important reason why he doesn't have a name or at least I hope there is.  I won't fret about it anymore).  There's no harm in a simple, "Narrator(early 20's) gets dressed."

"...dressed in a casual suit for what appears to be a date."  I'm not sure what exactly that would look like.  Maybe it's the manner of which he gets ready that would hint that he's getting ready for a date but the actual suit...i don't know.

I would stay away from specific songs unless you own the rights of the song.  I don't recognize the song but in either case, leave it up to the director and editors to come up with what's played and when.  Stick with the story.

If he leaves the apartment, it would be a change in scene or a new slug line.

I'll stop there.  Some big problems involving a lot of talk and very little action.  The action that you do have tends to be unfilmable or unnecessary.  For me this came off as you writing a story about a man telling a story which doesn't appeal to me very much.

Show his paranoia of suffocation.  Perhaps he always wears a loose tie or never buttons the top button of his shirt.  Anything to illustrate his troubled state instead of him telling us how much that experience has messed him up.  Instead you've gone the voice over route which robs us of witnessing his troubled state for ourselves.  There's nothing wrong with voice overs but a lot of times they aren't pulled off quite right and in this case, it's a miss for me.

I hope this helped.  Keep at it.

Johnny


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