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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  White Picket Fence Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: July 24th, 2013, 9:07pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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White Picket Fence by Lee Cordner (leegion) - Short, Psychological Thriller - A man who lives a charmed life experiences a psychological breakdown that unveils a dark secret about his past.  10 pagse - pdf, format


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MarkRenshaw
Posted: July 25th, 2013, 3:15am Report to Moderator
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As I read the script it kind of grew on me but as my appreciation grew so did my confusion as to exactly what was going on and when it was going on. Maybe that was the intention? It did put me off though.

SPOILERS AHEAD - In the end it was a psycho not realising he was a psycho finding out he was a psycho, reminded me of American Psycho a bit.

Apart from that there’s some odd pieces of description in the action.

A Kitchen that’s too clean for a man. Really? I know plenty of men who maintain spotless houses and I’m pretty sure they are not psychopaths.

“A nice bedroom” – Why is it nice? Is it because of the oil painting of a lion? If the specific oil painting is essential for the story, sure describe it. But if not then describe generically what a nice bedroom looks like.

“Eyes beam through the darkness, almost in a trance.” – Doesn’t really make sense and sounds like something you would put in a short story or a novel. Try to describe what the camera will actually see without elaborating too much so you end up dictating areas the Director, cinematographer will take care of.

For example in one bit you say he’s walking down the street and there’s not a star in the sky or a person in the street. OK it makes sense to have the street deserted but why is it essential to have the sky starless? You are saying they either have to wait for a starless sky to shoot this or use some CGI to makes the stars. Why?

The script is littered with references like this. I’d suggest tidying it up and making it a bit clearer what’s going on.

I hope my comments help.


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StevenClark
Posted: July 25th, 2013, 5:16am Report to Moderator
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Hey Lee,

Nice effort here.  Tried to read it nice and slow.  Noticed a few things...

pg 1  He shoots a look across his fence, where a slim, craning
neck holds a head over a hedge, MRS COLLINS (50), smiles and
waves.

"Craning neck holds a head" sounds a bit awkward, IMO

Also, in your action, you seem to have too much of this in your descriptions:  "flowerbeds HOST dead flowers," "cleaning fluids REST upon a rigind shelf," etc.  While technically it is correct, you have it in other places too.  I dunno.  Again, just seems a little awkward when used too much.

pg 5  Within a flash, like blur, she stands before him should be "like a blur."

Nothing but little things here, really.  But a nice tight story.  I definitely appreciate the attention to detail in your descriptions, however it does get a bit much.  I think the action lines can be toned down just a tad.

I think Jeremy's reaction to the realization that he is a murderer is played too calm.  Think Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart!  He went kicking and screaming when he found out who he was.

However, you stayed true to the tone you set.  But like the BANG! at the end suggests, just think the reveal could've used some of that.

Best of luck with this!

Steve


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Leegion
Posted: July 25th, 2013, 11:22am Report to Moderator
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Thanks guys.

There are some issues here, but this was merely written to get used to Celtx.

I've learnt a bit since writing this, so the descriptions from this point on will be a bit more linear.  

My writing improved some amount thanks to Jeff (Dreamscale) for my next script.

So consider this the last in which I fluff up the descriptions, haha.

Lee
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ChuckZiegler
Posted: July 31st, 2013, 4:35pm Report to Moderator
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Greetings Lee...just finished your quite intriguing short! Steve covered most of my issues but feel you could have used a few more "moments later" as you switched a scene with it only being moments later. Also could shorten the flashback to "FLASHBACK - EXT. STREET - NIGHT". Was a little confused when the car came at him and then he was somewhere else? Would love to have this expanded to a full screenplay as it has ALOT of potential and would want to know more. Looking forward to others you have written. Chuck
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Dreamscale
Posted: August 1st, 2013, 11:07am Report to Moderator
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Hey Lee, just gave this a read.

Not to be harsh, but IMO, there are many issues here.

In terms of the actual writing, I read that you wrote this as a quick exercise to get used to Celtx, which is cool.

Way too detailed in your descriptions, but the reason is that what you point out, doesn't matter in terms of the story or even the actions of any characters.  It's always appreciated when you give good visuals, but try and concentrate on visuals that matter, and/or are striking/memorable.  In a short like this, your story is gong to be what you want to concentrate on.

The story is where my real problems lay.  It's awkwardly told, awkwardly set up, and awkwardly played out.  It's also extremely cliche and doesn't pack any punch or deliver any surprises.  Bottom line, it's generic, but I think the main reason for that is your...

Characters don't deliver anything unique, don't have a unique voice, and don't do anything of much interest.  I'm talking about both actions and dialogue.  For instance, if this were an OWC, and we had 30 scripts about a psycho that didn't realize he was a psycho, could you see this standing out from the crowd?

IMO, this is a good idea to keep in mind when writing any script - will it stand out?  If so, why?  What elements make it work?  If not, why?  What is holding it back or making it run of the mill?

Make sense?  Hope so.  I don't mean to be harsh - I think you know that.  Hope this helps.


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DanBall
Posted: August 1st, 2013, 1:18pm Report to Moderator
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Well, after reading the other comments, I'm mainly chiming into say I read this.

I thought your descriptions were a bit much, but they didn't weigh or slow anything down. I'm kind of proud to say I kept up with all the scene changes and flashbacks. In the end, it did seem like a rehash of a lot of other psycho-thrillers I've seen/read just with some fancy reveals. Those get made all the time, so that's probably better than writing about, say, a Zoroastrian hot dog vendor.


"I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called 'Max'."

THE PINBALL WARRIOR (scifi, WIP, ~30 pg.)
A STAND AGAINST EVIL (short, 9 pg.)
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spesh2k
Posted: August 2nd, 2013, 3:30am Report to Moderator
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Hey Lee,

This was a decent effort. I liked some of the bloody imagery, reminded me of some old Sam Raimi kind of stuff. The story was meh. Jeremy has split personalities I guess, one of them is a killer. The other half is a decent guy I guess, and his other half is discovered through "dreams". But I didn't feel like you explored that enough, the personalities opposing each other. As is, it's very predictable.

Now the writing... there's a lot of white space, which is good, but for three pages, it was mostly scene descriptions, and you seem to move to different locations (rooms) without any of it serving a purpose. For 3 minutes, we see him get his mail, say hi to a neighbor, read a book, grab something from the fridge.

And a lot of the details you mention are unnecessary. For instance, the bathroom. It's assumed there's a toilet, shower, cleaning products, etc. I understand that the bleach may serve a purpose (a small hint to his other side, maybe he uses it to clean up crime scenes), but unless he's at the sink, or in the shower, there's no need to mention all of that.

I also see that when you describe a location, you repeat the SLUG, which is of course redundant. You have BEDROOM as the slug and describe it as a nice bedroom in the first sentence of description.

Also, noticed no description for the Ashley character other than she is 19.

Overall, not bad... as you said, it was merely an exercise in getting used to the software. But I didn't feel much suspense at all or mystery. From the moment you show Ashley in the dark room, I all ready put two and two together.

-- Michael



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