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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    2014 One + 6  Week Challenge  ›  A Time to Forget - 1+6WC - feature
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Don
Posted: August 16th, 2014, 7:35am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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A Time to Forget by Eric Wall (EWall433) - Thriller - An assassinís memory is erased in preparation for a hit on the President of Palestine, but when he begins to question his employerís motives, his mission turns into a race against time to discover his true identity. 112 pages - pdf, format

Time To Forget  First Ten Pages


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EWall433
Posted: August 24th, 2014, 3:47pm Report to Moderator
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I noticed ScarTissue post a dropbox link after his notes came in, which I already had half a mind to do. ThisÖ

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2dsxqrs7are4c2j/A%20Time%20to%20Forget.pdf?dl=0

Öis just typo corrections I noticed since submitting. A few of which irked the **** out of me. There are no changes to story or scenes in that link, pretty much just typo corrections. The changes are so slight, you could jump back and forth between the links without losing your place.
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Dustin
Posted: August 25th, 2014, 6:06am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


Action speaks louder...

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Hi mate, I'll get to this one in due course... from reading the first three pages though it looks like a fast read. Perhaps noted some areas where dialogue could be stripped (I downloaded the dropbox version), but over all this looks like it will be a good read. Looking forward to it.


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Scar Tissue Films
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Hi Eric,

I don't have a huge amount to say about this. It's well written, it's a clear story. A lot of times with pre-pro scripts, I find myself lost. Good job on that.

Starts off at an incredible rate.

Throws you straight into the action. Strong choice, although I think you sacrifice the audience's ability to relate to the main character by it being so quick. Maybe even if you had a bit more of the process he undergoes at the start, it might give us a bit more chance to "bond" with him.


Minor problems:

The part about the Funyuns. I don't know if you should be so specific about brands...especially ones that are unknown outside the States.

I'm not really buying that a nobody could get so close to the President, even if he's been given security clearance. Just didn't' seem plausible.

I'm sure you worked hard on that, but it's still a little hard to swallow.

The conversation with Kanani when he pulled the gun on him seemed weird, either he shoots him straight away, or he doesn't pull the gun.

However, the actual conversation and the way Kanani turns it around is excellent.

I like the way Adam goes on the run with Kanani.


Some excellent ideas about the back story. Very interesting.

I do have two slight concerns over the concept:

1. Not sure the Palestinian President is a big enough gimmick to make me care.
2. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is very complicated and there's a danger in making it seem simpler than it is at the end.

Overall a decent story, with some good twists and turns and an  emotional ending.


Rick

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ArtyDoubleYou
Posted: August 26th, 2014, 7:50pm Report to Moderator
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Reports suggest a strong chance of SPOILERS ahead.

This has probably been my favourite so far, with one left to read.

There's a lot of good in here. Pretty well written throughout, though I didn't read the updated version in order to keep a fairer view for when it comes to voting. But still, a pretty fine effort.

It had four characters I liked from early doors in Adam, Ellington, Kanani and Kelly. The bad guys could of come across a bit more menacing perhaps, but it didn't matter really as it's not about them.

It was full of twists and turns, especially the stuff with Lauren at the end, which I did not see coming at all. I definitely didn't expect her to do what she did with Ellington.

I only made a couple of notes of smaller issues to bring up, the first being with the funyun talk on page 11. There's a line Ellington says 'talking of attention to detail', which I thought was unnecessary as I got that she had a good eye for detail from what she said. He could of just done an impressed nod or something instead.

On page 12, you say 'Kelly doesn't flip him the bird but it's implied'. I don't really know how you imply that, so it didn't make much sense to me.

In terms of bigger issues, the talk of Lauren being raped seemed to darken the tone a bit. Up until then it was a fun ride, it just didn't feel quite in keeping with the rest of the story. Plus the reasons behind her rape, that it was the CIA or someone doing it to keep Adam quiet were a little out there. Maybe they do do that sort of thing, but I would of thought they'd rather just kill Adam then rape his daughter to shut him up.

And my personal preference is for happy endings. In a way, it sort of is I guess. But I would much preferred to have Adam survive. I get why you did it, for Lauren's sake, but having spent all that time with Adam and getting to really like him, I think he deserved better. Kanani certainly could of put in a good word for him to hep him out or something. It is just personal preference though, so you probably don't need to worry too much about it.

Like I said though, this is my favourite so far. A fine job.
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Dustin
Posted: August 28th, 2014, 5:17am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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I'm up to page 3 and wondering, if Adam has no knowledge of ever doing this before, why is he complying so quickly? Waking up just as he has, his mind would be confused. He may even believe that he dreamt it. I think Adam would need a real sense of the danger he's in before doing anything silly.

Adam has just done a street robbery. Awkwardly handled. As in, he wasn't very skilful in the take down. First of all he asks nicely for the phone. Most people wouldn't give their phones away if asked nicely, not unless (and I've witnessed this) there are intimidating factors going on. So, at this moment in time, Adam is stand-offish and asking someone as though he is impolitely interrupting their call, like he actually cares. We don't know anything about Adam at the moment, but I'm glad you're not going the all guns blazing route, seems Adam is just going to be an ordinary guy. Be interesting to see how you handle that later in the film.

Code

He releases the magazine, checks the ammo and slams it back
in. He yanks the slide and toggles the safety off and on...
He knows what heís doing.



Ah... OK. This changes things. So he's not an ordinary guy, he's a trained somebody. I hope you're going to explain how he knew the combination for the locker later and not just leave it hanging.

However, he being trained takes something away from your earlier street robbery scene. Things would have gone a lot smoother. Dragging him to the ground and then running off isn't very cool. Maybe he could choke him with his tie instead, pull it really tight, then take his phone and calmly walk away. Also make the businessman more of a dick, so he deserves getting robbed.

Code

Adam lingers on the photo, effected by it...



Affected.

Code

Behind the wheel, the Driver shouts a foreign language into
his cell phone. The back door opens and Adam jumps in.

DRIVER
No no no. You get the hell out of
here or I call cop.

ADAM
I have money.

DRIVER
Your own?

ADAM
Iíll pay double what I owe you and
double the next fare.

The Driver says something into his phone and hangs up.

DRIVER
Where to?



Why would the Driver believe him? Rather than Adam saying he has money just have him show it.

Code

Types in "www.oh3x4c7n.net"



I think an onion address would be better here.


1st ten... well written for the most part, maybe a couple of typo's, a repeated word where you've written 'the the'. I would point them out while reading but it can disrupt flow too much. Aside from that, I'm not sure what to make of it yet. I wouldn't say I've been hooked, and I think that is due to the confusing nature of Adam's actions. On the one hand I was looking forward to seeing this journey through the eyes of an ordinary joe but now it's gone a different route.

Code

KANANI (O.S.)
If I bring up boarders, Israel will
take it as a power move. There must
be no specifics today. Specifics
are divisive. We need to emphasize
what we all agree upon. Understand?



This is the second time now... it's borders, not boarders.

The whole conversation with Kanani and Adam, pages 19-20 reads very awkwardly to me. Why was Adam getting him to sign something if he's just there to kill him? Also, why did Adam almost make to run?

Code

KANANI
...Iíll require a drink.



He's supposed to be a Muslim. Quite a prominent one. You'd be surprised at just how many people don't drink alcohol. It is deeply ingrained into the western psyche to drink alcohol. Kids are trained young. Not so in other cultures. In Saudi, you can be arrested and imprisoned for drinking alcohol outside certain, special westernised areas. Indeed, you can go to prison for wearing a pair of shorts, or kissing a female in public. The female would probably be publicly beheaded or stoned to death... the male, a short jail sentence.


Code

ADAM
Make him go away.

KANANI
(finishes his drink)
No. Itís time you either kill me,
or turn yourself in. Help us figure
out who sent you.

Adam glares at him, thinking.

ARAB GUARD #1 (O.S.)
Mr. President? Are you okay?

KANANI
Those are your only two options.
Adam holsters his weapon.

ADAM
Actually thereís a third.

He moves around the desk and pulls Kanani from his seat. He
pushes him into the corner, facing the wall.

ADAM
Stay there.

Adam walks across the room and rips the curtains away from a
LARGE PICTURE WINDOW. He examines the outside area and runs
his fingers along the window frame... searching.



Kanani tells him there are only two options, so why doesn't Kanani just shout to his guards and genuinely force the hand? Instead he allows Adam to do more fannying about. I found all the chat to be a little much. It needs to happen some other way and less of it, IMO.

Code

ADAM
Once I know who I work for, Iíll
know whether or not to kill you.
Until then, youíre coming with me.



I'm not buying it. It's also difficult to swallow that he could get Kanani out on the ledge.

Code

Adam launches off the ledge, sails through the air and
sticks the landing. He turns and looks up to Kanani.



So Adam jumps first and then waits for his kidnap victim to follow him? Not to mention Kanani mentioned being scared about the jump earlier.

Why would Kanani jump? He knows Adam isn't going to shoot him. This is all very weird.

Code

ADAM
Try to draw attention and killing
you is the first thing Iíll do.



Aside from this sounding like complete bullshit, Kanani really shouldn't have stepped out onto the ledge with Adam in the first place. If you're going to have Kanani running around with Adam then it needs to be handled differently, IMO.

I'm at 27, and I'm finding Kanani and Adam's relationship extremely weird. On the one hand it seems Kanani is on Adam's side and then he's playing victim again. It needs to be one or the other, IMO. Even if a twist at the end is that Kanani is Adam's ally then it still would be a weird state of play at this stage of the script.

Code

Kanani jumps out of the car. Adam shifts into reverse...



Why would Adam tell his kidnap victim to jump out of the car then drive away? What was the point in kidnapping him in the first place? So he catches him afterwards, but he couldn't have guaranteed that. Maybe standalone it could work, but with the other stuff of Kanani on the roof and helping him out in the car park, it's a little hard to swallow this too.


Code

Yelena pockets the knife as she leaves the alcove.



Why? She's just snapped the blade off in the door, what use would it be? Maybe not to leave any evidence, but it's a little late for that, her prints and DNA would be all over the place.

I'm at 41, and it seems so far that the plot centres around an ex-CIA agent who's memory has been wiped so that he can take out the Palestinian president. Obvious questions there with all the people in the know on this thing, it would have been simpler just to use an agent to do the job. Security was extremely poor anyway.

Code

KANANI
Iíve accepted that my death will
likely be a violent one. Iíd be
surprised to live another year.

ADAM
Then how íbout you cut me some
slack and let me kill you now.



In what manner does Kanani have the say in this? He just say, OK, kill me.. and Adam will do it?

Code

KANANI
That killing for peace isnít brave,
or righteous, or even very unique.
Peace doesnít require a willingness
to kill, it requires a willingness
to die. To suffer. The irony is our
two sides spend all their time
trying to beat the other into
submission. But the winner will be
whoever acts least for the longest.

ADAM
Sounds like you might be the last
decent person left in this world.



Ew. Political opinion, preaching and cheese.


Code

ADAM
I donít see a taxi. Weíre gonna
have to steal a car.



OTN. There are a few instances of this in your dialogue throughout also exposition in places.

Code

The Henchmen exit and head off in opposite directions.

SALIL
And us?

YELENA
If Max saw FBI coming in the front
door, heís headed out the back.

Yelena puts the car in drive and pulls away.



Just another example of OTN dialogue. You could cut Yelena's dialogue and actually just cut to the back. This way you show rather than tell. people don't really talk like that, they don't reveal their motivations for every move they are about to make, not even when others ask questions.

So now Kanani is out of the picture and Adam's new partner is Ellington. What was the point in kidnapping Kanani in the first place?

Code

ELLINGTON
Yes. We caught you on surveillance
a few times over the years, but we
never saw her. My theory was
someone kidnapped Lauren and is
using her to control you.

Adam finishes with the wire and retrieves his cell phone.

ELLINGTON
The only thing that didnít add up
was how they could run a capable
agent against his will for eight
years. But if theyíve been erasing
your memory all this time...

ADAM
If itís meant to control me,
theyíll kill her off once Iím
useless.



If they've been erasing his memory what would be the point in keeping her alive? Why would he even remember he has a daughter? At this stage, I feel the daughter is a dead weight to this story. Likewise so was the whole kidnapping thing with the Palestinian president as it actually went nowhere.

Code

YELENA
Kanani?

SALIL
Negative. Just Max.

YELENA
They recovered Kanani... Wait until
heís outside, then take the shot.



Kanani has been recovered, she already knows this... so why would she expect him to be there?

Adam allowing himself to be captured just so Ellington can look less guilty, even after Ellington stupidly told his colleague he knew who Adam was, despite wanting to help him, is just silly.

So far this story seems to meander about without clear focus. Lots of things don't quite add up in this draft. I have to go out for a while so I'll get back to this script later.

Your writing is excellent and zips by at a phenomenal rate. The story needs a lot of work though.


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Dustin
Posted: August 28th, 2014, 7:01am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


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Code

YELENA
zigzags around bends. She takes out her pocketknife and
draws the blade.



The same pocket knife she snapped the blade off earlier?

Code

ADAM
What does he mean by, "finishing up
with her"?

YELENA
Warrenís paranoid by nature. Iím
sure heís just questioning her.

ADAM
You better damn well hope so.



That doesn't really ring true. After 8 years what could they possibly have to question his daughter about? Especially taking into account Yelena's reaction when it was said:

Code

YELENA
Well, we have him. Is his daughter
still alive?

WARREN
For the time being. My men are just
finishing up with her now.

Adamís eyes flare. He presses the barrel to Yelenaís head.

YELENA
For Godsake, tell them to stop. We
can still use him.



If they are merely finishing up questioning his daughter, then why would Yelena react like that? For God's sake tell them to stop stopping questioning her? They should continue to question her?

Why is Adam falling for it?

Code

ADAM
Itís okay honey, Iím here.
(to Yelena)

Let her go and you walk. I swear.

YELENA
I wish I could trust that.



Again, it's like once they become kidnap victims of Adam they are all compliant and do everything he says without even a hint of a fight, indeed, they join him, help him along. The same with Yelena when she helped him get into the compound with some unspoken threat. Now she's against him again and not trusting that he won't let her live if she releases his daughter. It doesn't add up.

Code

ADAM
Here, letís get some shoes on you.



She's 23.

Why would Adam need to shoot his daughter in the leg? Why not hit the gun? Also the dialogue afterwards is unrealistic.

OK, so everything is tied up with contract agreements not to talk to the media...

Adam sacrifices himself so that his daughter can have a new life after he messing it up in the first place. His memory was wiped and he understandably reverted to type when he started taking out all those people, however he completely changing morally is a hard sell to me.

His daughter and he are also held for 8 years working as hitmen for an unspecified organisation (that gets away with it), whereby their memories are wiped so they can have deniability in regards to hits they are tasked with. Adam goes rogue with the bad guys hunting him and knowing where he is pretty much already... why would they bother interrogating his daughter? All she had was a cut above her eye... in all that time... their torture was pretty lame.

Adam also has three separate sidekicks. Fist his kidnap victim, Kanani, then Etherington and finally his daughter, who shoots Etherington in the head for some unfathomable reason.

What I liked about this script was your action sequences. They zip along and you maintain the viewer's hold on what's going on and where, very skilfully. You also have memorable characters, each clearly defined and written very well.


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EWall433
Posted: August 28th, 2014, 12:52pm Report to Moderator
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Alright, I finally have a little time to come around to responses hereÖ

Hey Rick,


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
Throws you straight into the action. Strong choice, although I think you sacrifice the audience's ability to relate to the main character by it being so quick. Maybe even if you had a bit more of the process he undergoes at the start, it might give us a bit more chance to "bond" with him.


The one thing I put into the opening to try to establish a bit of character was something no one really seemed to pick up on in the right way (either here or in the original ten). And that moment is stealing the Business Manís phone, but waiting for him to finish the call and even encouraging him to ďtell your daughter you love her and hang up the phone.Ē This was meant to be a bit of foreshadowing and to give a subtle glimpse into Adam affection for his own daughter.

Iím thinking I might emphasize this by having Adam completely pass up stealing a phone once he realizes heíd be assaulting some dude in front of his daughter. Heíd then go on to steal one from some Tool Bag.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
The part about the Funyuns. I don't know if you should be so specific about brands...especially ones that are unknown outside the States.


Consider it changed.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
I'm not really buying that a nobody could get so close to the President, even if he's been given security clearance. Just didn't' seem plausible.


I did want to make the hotel entrance be the hard security, but once heís in the elevator with a keycard, itís just Kananiís people he has to get past. I do believe that a security team from a Third World ďcountryĒ wouldnít necessarily have the most air tight procedures. I should probably have a guard stay in the room with them though. Thereís a world of difference between being close to the President and being alone with the President.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
The conversation with Kanani when he pulled the gun on him seemed weird, either he shoots him straight away, or he doesn't pull the gun.


To me this was Adam establishing control of the situation. Kanani knows somethingís up, but Adam hasnít decided what to do yet, so heís maintaining control of the room until he figures out his next move. If I introduce a guard to the situation, this might come off better, as Adam would have to disable the guard before doing anything.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
1. Not sure the Palestinian President is a big enough gimmick to make me care.


I was hoping to make it more about Kanani himself than the position he holds. Hopefully by the end, weíd like Kanani enough to not want to see him shot dead in front of his 4 year-old daughter.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
2. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is very complicated and there's a danger in making it seem simpler than it is at the end.


To a certain extent I intentionally simplified it, but only to get it down to themes. I had no intention of getting into the minutia of the situation via borders, Jerusalem, water rights, etc. But also knew that meant I shouldnít solve the problem. Thatís why I left Kanani at Camp David. Heís got his shot. Maybe we think he can pull it out, but leaders have left Camp David before with little to show for it. The last thing Kananiís saying is actually a poetic-sounding Ďplaying down of expectationsí, so nothingís certain.

As far as themes, I regarded Kanani as being similar to Gandhi or Martin Luther King. Unfortunately that means someday some asshole with a gun is going to kill him. I was hoping to make it clear that that is an inescapable part of what Kananiís doing, because I didnít want to play down what Kananiís sacrifice entails. If I were to write a sequel to this, it would probably revolve around the successful assassination of Kanani.

Of course, thatís really depressing. So I gave the final scene a note of hope rather than a note of Ďdead man walkingí.

Thanks again for the read and your thoughts. Itís always a big help.
Eric
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EWall433
Posted: August 28th, 2014, 11:50pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Arty, thanks for the read.


Quoted from ArtyDoubleYou
I only made a couple of notes of smaller issues to bring up, the first being with the funyun talk on page 11. There's a line Ellington says 'talking of attention to detail', which I thought was unnecessary as I got that she had a good eye for detail from what she said. He could of just done an impressed nod or something instead.

On page 12, you say 'Kelly doesn't flip him the bird but it's implied'. I don't really know how you imply that, so it didn't make much sense to me.


The attention to detail line was less about pointing out how skilled Kelly is, and more about giving Ellington and Kelly a few more character notes to play with. He recognizes her skill, but heís still kinda putting her down. Plus, I like when conversations wrap around on themselves. It has a set-up/payoff feel when characters start twisting each otherís earlier statements around.

The second part was simply Kelly giving him a death stare, or a Ďfuck youí look. Maybe that wasnít the best way to word it.


Quoted from ArtyDoubleYou
In terms of bigger issues, the talk of Lauren being raped seemed to darken the tone a bit. Up until then it was a fun ride, it just didn't feel quite in keeping with the rest of the story.


Yeah, I was concerned about that. In my head I had been running those scenes as, ďShe was attackedĒ and just leaving it to assumptions what exactly that meant. Once I got to writing them though, it felt more natural to have it stated flatly what happened. I may go back to vagueness on that.


Quoted from ArtyDoubleYou
Plus the reasons behind her rape, that it was the CIA or someone doing it to keep Adam quiet were a little out there. Maybe they do do that sort of thing, but I would of thought they'd rather just kill Adam then rape his daughter to shut him up.


Iíll give this another look for clarity. When Lauren gives that explanation for her rape, Adam himself says itís ridiculous. He then gives the same reasons you did why that doesnít make any sense. Her only response is, ďWell, thatís what you told me. Unless you were lyingÖĒ I wanted that question to hang there, implying all sorts of things about what exactly Adam told Lauren to convince her to come with him. Basically, Adam believed the CIA was going to put him in jail or worse, so heíd made the decision to make a run for it. The only thing he couldnít bear to leave behind was Lauren. So he convinced her she was in danger to gain her compliance.

The only saving grace is itís possible Adam himself was mixed up enough to believe it too. But with his memory wiped heís no longer weighted down by all those pressures (he was fired, divorced, about to be prosecuted, daughter raped) and he can more easily see through the bullshit rationalizations he created to justify what he was doing.

Itís a lot to get across on the page, but that was the backstory I was trying to reveal bit by bit.


Quoted from ArtyDoubleYou
And my personal preference is for happy endings. In a way, it sort of is I guess. But I would much preferred to have Adam survive. I get why you did it, for Lauren's sake, but having spent all that time with Adam and getting to really like him, I think he deserved better. Kanani certainly could of put in a good word for him to hep him out or something.


I donít know if the above changed your opinion on that. I thought Adamís price for atonement had to be pretty steep. I also spent most of Kananiís story trying to build up the idea that he was ready and willing to die to bring about peace for his people. I like the idea that at the end, itís actually Adam who dies to bring about peace for his. So between having his memory wiped and spending the morning with Gandhi: Palestine Edition, Adamís able to look passed the rubbish in his life long enough to do the right thing.

Once again, thanks for the notes and Iím glad you appreciated it. Iím slowly but surely working my way through all of the entries, so Iíll come to yours soon enough.

Eric
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EWall433
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Hey Dustin, thanks for the read. It's taken awhile to get a response together, but I finally got some time. I'll try to just address some key questions.

First off, thanks for the onion address idea and reminding me about the Muslim/alcohol thing. I had the idea of Kanani being a bit more Western, but that's probably going too far. Showing the driver the money makes sense too.


Quoted from Dustin
Why was Adam getting him to sign something if he's just there to kill him? Also, why did Adam almost make to run?


The plan was to blow Kanani up with an explosive charge hidden inside the folder Adam has. It's explained earlier that once the folder is opened a ten second timer starts. So Adam getting him to sign something is really just a ploy to get him to open the folder. When Kanani slaps the folder down and says it's signed, Adam 'makes to run' because he expects the bomb to go off. Once that doesn't happen Adam realizes Kanani is lying to him, which means something is up.


Quoted from Dustin
So Adam jumps first and then waits for his kidnap victim to follow him?


It'd probably be more difficult to throw him. And with the way it plays out, Adam makes the right call, as he ends up having to grab onto Kanani to keep him from falling.


Quoted from Dustin
Why would Kanani jump? He knows Adam isn't going to shoot him.


I'll have to go back through this for clarity. It was my intention that Adam is willing to kill Kanani if he can't successfully abduct him. He's been given four hours and he's just trying to extend that time out so he can get to the bottom of things. If he can't extend his time, if he's forced to make a decision, then at this early stage he would've completed his mission and killed Kanani.


Quoted from Dustin
Why would Adam tell his kidnap victim to jump out of the car then drive away?


What Adam does here is a calculated risk. He knows he's about to engage his pursuers and he decides his chances of holding onto Kanani are better if he lets him out in the alley than if he takes him into a potential firefight. Once again, I think it's the right call since Yelena begins firing through the window at Adam the first chance she gets.


Quoted from Dustin
Why? She's just snapped the blade off in the door, what use would it be? Maybe not to leave any evidence, but it's a little late for that, her prints and DNA would be all over the place.


My bad. It was supposed to be a Swiss Army Knife with many blades. I got tired of calling it "Swiss Army Knife" and changed it to "Pocketknife" cause it was shorter. I was worried about the DNA thing too, then I realized that Adam's blood is all over the place. He'd probably be a more likely suspect.


Quoted from Dustin
In what manner does Kanani have the say in this? He just say, OK, kill me.. and Adam will do it?


This was a smartass comment by Adam I put there to address a question I thought the audience would be asking, "If Kanani's willing to die, then how is the threat of death effective on him." Then Kanani goes on to talk about his immediate goals and how accomplishing them will have made his life worth it.


Quoted from Dustin
So now Kanani is out of the picture and Adam's new partner is Ellington. What was the point in kidnapping Kanani in the first place?


From a story perspective, I wanted Kanani to have an effect on Adam. Adam is initially willing to kill him, but when Ellington catches them, Adam simple lets Kanani go. He decides on his own not to kill Kanani even though he's no closer to finding out who he works for. By having Adam decide this based on his own conscience rather than a discovery of new info, I was hoping to push his character arc forward.


Quoted from Dustin
Kanani has been recovered, she already knows this... so why would she expect him to be there?


She doesn't know this. She's been outside the whole time and isn't privy to any info about what's happening inside the school.

I agree that Ellington expecting to not be arrested doesn't really work. I knew I was heading for the ambush and was trying to inject some excitement into Adam and Ellington's capture rather then have it go down in a straight forward way.


Quoted from Dustin
If they are merely finishing up questioning his daughter, then why would Yelena react like that? For God's sake tell them to stop stopping questioning her? They should continue to question her? Why is Adam falling for it?


The idea was that "finishing up with her" is a euphemism for killing her. Adam's listening on speakerphone and suspects as much, so he shoves the gun into Yelena's face as a threat. So Yelena's basically saying, "For godsake don't kill her."

Afterwards with, "What does he mean by "finishing up with her?" I didn't think Yelena would just come out and say, "They were gonna kill her, but don't worry it's cool now." So she's cagey. Adam knows this (he's not really falling for anything), but it doesn't change the plan, so there's no point in pressing it. Whatever's happening to his daughter, he's gonna go in and get her regardless.


Quoted from Dustin
Again, it's like once they become kidnap victims of Adam they are all compliant and do everything he says without even a hint of a fight, indeed, they join him, help him along. The same with Yelena when she helped him get into the compound with some unspoken threat. Now she's against him again and not trusting that he won't let her live if she releases his daughter. It doesn't add up.


Everything Yelena does, she does under the threat of death...  

"ADAM: The only reason youíre still alive is cause I think you might cooperate. Wanna prove me wrong?"

That's not an unspoken threat. Nor is it the only time Adam makes explicit his intention to kill her if things go south...

"ADAM: The only consequences you need to worry about is what happens if someone hurts my daughter."

That's what he's says to her as they're entering the compound. Coming on the heels of his previous threats, I don't think the nature of the 'consequences' is all that mysterious.

And she does fight back, she just has to chose her moment wisely since she spends most her time surrounded by two armed men. Once Adam's surrounded by a bunch of thugs and she realizes that Ellington is no longer aiming at her from the rafters, she pretty much initiates the firefight by yelling, "Kill him" and running away. And the first thing she does is grab a gun and try to secure Lauren, cause that's the only way she's getting out with her freedom if Adam and Ellington survive the fight.

With the standoff, even if Adam lets her live, it would be idiotic to think that Ellington wouldn't arrest her. She killed 4 FBI agents with an M16, he's not gonna let her walk just cause Adam gave her his word. And why would he? Once Yelena hands over Lauren she has no leverage in the situation at all. To be honest, Yelena's the more trustworthy one here. Why would she kill Lauren anyway? Why would she make a lifelong enemy of someone who's clearly willing to kill her? Then again, who could let someone just walk off with their daughter like that? Hence the standoff.


Quoted from Dustin
She's 23.


She's also his daughter and just had a gun in her face. Plus, it's not like he's tying her shoes, he's just grabbing them from the other side of the room. I wanted Adam to slip into paternal mode here. I thought it contrasted nicely with what she does next. The fact that she's no longer an innocent little girl is the point.


Quoted from Dustin
Why would Adam need to shoot his daughter in the leg? Why not hit the gun?


It's probably too technical to really describe in the script. In my mind Adam is coming from the door behind her, so the gun is partially obscured by her body. She's also at least one story higher on the scaffold, with the gun resting on a work bench. This means the gun would be obscured by the underside of the bench as well.

Problem is, there's no way I can see to get those details in without the reader saying, "Why is he describing this in so much detail. Just get on with it."


Quoted from Dustin
His daughter and he are also held for 8 years working as hitmen for an unspecified organisation (that gets away with it), whereby their memories are wiped so they can have deniability in regards to hits they are tasked with.


As Lauren says, they weren't held. They worked for them. And Lauren never had her memory erased (until the end), it was Adam who 'volunteered because it paid more'. Although deniability is referenced, the main reason was Warren and his paranoia. He liked the idea of sending out operatives who couldn't be traced back to him, even by memory. Despite the stated benefit, it's actually more dangerous for the operative, which is why Warren had to pay more.

As far as the shadowy organization, I wanted to leave some things open ended and that was one of them. The immediate bad guys are dealt with, but there will always be those types of forces out there. I will say this though, Adam had some pretty compelling leads in his pocket when he was taken down. I imagine they'd have no problem finding the middle man at least.


Quoted from Dustin
why would they bother interrogating his daughter? All she had was a cut above her eye... in all that time... their torture was pretty lame.


Maybe they were waterboarding her. The reason? Warren's paranoia again. As Lauren stated, Warren suspected a double cross, which would mean Lauren was involved in it. Warren probably figured that wasn't really what was going on, but it didn't hurt to be safe. Adam was off the rails, and would likely have to be killed or abandoned. He knew Lauren would never just hang her dad out to dry, so killing her would be necessary as well. He didn't have a lot to lose by interrogating her.


Quoted from Dustin
his daughter, who shoots Etherington in the head for some unfathomable reason.


I'll be honest, I don't get this one. Lauren was a mercenary committing terrorist acts on American soil. Ellington is an FBI agent. I don't know what other thing she would've done in this situation. Ellington wasn't taking out his phone so he could call for pizza, he's was gonna tell Kelly they had succeeded and wait for SWAT to arrive.

I'll have to look over all the confusion points. I know I'll be revisiting Adam and Ellington in the school and I'll likely restructure Adam and Kanani's first meet, since I have a feeling that whatever confusion exists begins there.

Thanks again for the review. You gave me a lot to look at and consider.
Eric
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Dustin
Posted: September 10th, 2014, 1:41pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from EWall433

It'd probably be more difficult to throw him. And with the way it plays out, Adam makes the right call, as he ends up having to grab onto Kanani to keep him from falling.



I'll have to go back through this for clarity. It was my intention that Adam is willing to kill Kanani if he can't successfully abduct him. He's been given four hours and he's just trying to extend that time out so he can get to the bottom of things. If he can't extend his time, if he's forced to make a decision, then at this early stage he would've completed his mission and killed Kanani.


What a person says and what their actions tell you they will do are far different. Seemed to me that Kanani was calling Adam's bluff in the hotel room, yet Adam still didn't show he was prepared to do anything violent to Kanani. What a person says isn't enough of a threat. Kanani didn't seem overly afraid to me.




Quoted Text
What Adam does here is a calculated risk. He knows he's about to engage his pursuers and he decides his chances of holding onto Kanani are better if he lets him out in the alley than if he takes him into a potential firefight. Once again, I think it's the right call since Yelena begins firing through the window at Adam the first chance she gets.


It's the right call to let your kidnap victim go? How can he make a calculated risk whilst under fire? Kanani could have gone anywhere. Seems pointless to me to go to all the trouble of kidnapping him only to let him go as soon as there's gunfire. Also, why not try and use Kanani as a hostage?



Quoted Text

This was a smartass comment by Adam I put there to address a question I thought the audience would be asking, "If Kanani's willing to die, then how is the threat of death effective on him." Then Kanani goes on to talk about his immediate goals and how accomplishing them will have made his life worth it.



For me it doesn't work. Kanani never seems actually in fear of Adam and Adam never does anything aside from threaten to hurt him.


Quoted Text

From a story perspective, I wanted Kanani to have an effect on Adam. Adam is initially willing to kill him, but when Ellington catches them, Adam simple lets Kanani go.


I never got the sense once that Adam would actually kill Kanani.


Quoted Text
He decides on his own not to kill Kanani even though he's no closer to finding out who he works for. By having Adam decide this based on his own conscience rather than a discovery of new info, I was hoping to push his character arc forward.


Adam has decided not to kill him all the way through. He also let him go once to save him from being shot by somebody else.


Quoted Text
She doesn't know this. She's been outside the whole time and isn't privy to any info about what's happening inside the school.


She says as much in her dialogue. Here it is again:

Code

YELENA
Kanani?

SALIL
Negative. Just Max.

YELENA
They recovered Kanani... Wait until
heís outside, then take the shot.



She specifically says that they recovered Kanani, like she already knows and had forgotten.



Quoted Text
The idea was that "finishing up with her" is a euphemism for killing her. Adam's listening on speakerphone and suspects as much, so he shoves the gun into Yelena's face as a threat. So Yelena's basically saying, "For godsake don't kill her."


Yeah, I got that. My point was that it is so obvious that is what she is talking about, yet Adam hasn't clued on. He half clues on, but it isn't enough. It's obvious what she really means.


Quoted Text
Everything Yelena does, she does under the threat of death...  


More idle threats.


Quoted Text

She's also his daughter and just had a gun in her face. Plus, it's not like he's tying her shoes, he's just grabbing them from the other side of the room. I wanted Adam to slip into paternal mode here. I thought it contrasted nicely with what she does next. The fact that she's no longer an innocent little girl is the point.


He hardly remembers his daughter. His memory has been wiped countless times. To me, it comes across as bullshit.



Quoted Text
As Lauren says, they weren't held. They worked for them. And Lauren never had her memory erased (until the end), it was Adam who 'volunteered because it paid more'. Although deniability is referenced, the main reason was Warren and his paranoia. He liked the idea of sending out operatives who couldn't be traced back to him, even by memory. Despite the stated benefit, it's actually more dangerous for the operative, which is why Warren had to pay more.


Well yeah, he'd have to learn how to shoot straight again.



Quoted Text

I'll be honest, I don't get this one. Lauren was a mercenary committing terrorist acts on American soil. Ellington is an FBI agent. I don't know what other thing she would've done in this situation. Ellington wasn't taking out his phone so he could call for pizza, he's was gonna tell Kelly they had succeeded and wait for SWAT to arrive.


Well he helped Adam escape to the detriment of the FBI. I suppose he has his favourites.



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EWall433
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Quoted from Dustin
What a person says and what their actions tell you they will do are far different.


Okay, I think (I hope) I see whatís happened here and it starts with that leather folder bomb. Not understanding the folder is bomb not only has the unintended effects you mentioned, but it robs the scene of all its tension because we wouldnít realize whatís actually happening.

Adamís action, which I need to clarify, was to arm a bomb, place it on Kananiís desk and walk away with every intention of allowing it to explode. For a brief moment it appears he succeeded and Kanani will be dead in a matter of minutes. Then Kananiís 4 year old daughter runs in and jumps on his lap and starts showing off her paper hat. Since Adamís not a complete monster, he basically halts everything until he convinces Kanani to make the girl leave. Problem is, in doing this, heís given himself away a little. But he still keeps trying to talk Kanani into opening the folder and killing himself. I assumed that was the moment that would convince us that Adam would be willing to pull the trigger, since in many ways he already did. As for why he doesnít shoot when Kanani resists, itís because he realizes heís got another option, kidnap him and figure this stuff out.

As far as Kananiís understanding of the threat, it wouldnít fully come until Adam blows the hotel window open with the folder bomb. Thatís the moment when I felt heíd realize that the explosion was originally intended for him and that he might be dealing with something a little heavier than he originally assumed. Perhaps I should keep us in the room for that instead of cut away.

This could also help the Yelena situation. If we know that Adam was willing to kill Kanani despite knowing next to nothing about him, why would he not kill a fellow assassin who just tried to light him up with an M16. As for Yelenaís part, once Adam slams her into the wall and sticks a gun in her face, the first thing she asks is, ďare you going to torture me?Ē Itís not something he brings up, itís something she says. For me, that was someone who has previous experience with Adam (she calls him by his real name ďMaxĒ), automatically assuming he would torture her. And he doesnít deny it. He just skips to death threats.


Quoted from Dustin
Kanani never seems actually in fear of Adam


I struggle with this, because on one hand, showing Kanani ďin fearĒ I worry would make him seem like a coward and I donít think itís necessary. I donít think he needs to fear death to decide itís not for him. Thereís a difference between not fearing death and having no care for your life. I intended Kanani to be in the middle. Not expressing fear, but doing things out of pragmatic compliance.



Quoted from Dustin
It's the right call to let your kidnap victim go? How can he make a calculated risk whilst under fire? Kanani could have gone anywhere. Seems pointless to me to go to all the trouble of kidnapping him only to let him go as soon as there's gunfire. Also, why not try and use Kanani as a hostage?


Maybe I'm pushing it too far. What I like about the scenario is I wanted to show Adam juggling priorities. I felt he could be reasonably confident of being able to track and secure Kanani, since he only left him for about 20 seconds, and 10 of those seconds wouldíve involved Kanani running in one direction down an alley. As far as using him as a hostage, the people chasing them are a part of the hit, if Kanani had been present, they wouldíve gladly shot him.


Quoted from Dustin
She specifically says that they recovered Kanani, like she already knows and had forgotten.


Itís more her thinking out loud, perhaps for Salilís benefit. If the FBI is there, and Adam is running around alone, then the FBI has Kanani.


Quoted from Dustin
He half clues on, but it isn't enough. It's obvious what she really means.


I still stand by, he knows, makes her sweat it a bit, then goes about his business because 1) itís not happening anymore and 2) it changes nothing.


Quoted from Dustin
He hardly remembers his daughter. His memory has been wiped countless times. To me, it comes across as bulls*** .


I guess Iíll just have to eat that one since itís central to the premise. Every time he sees her picture it affects him emotionally. He later admits to his ex-wife that heís associating feelings with faces. With her itís guilt. With his daughter itís love. The idea is that some things, like the love between a parent and child, go deeper than memory. That even in the memory's absence a sort of Pavlovian response remains associated with that person.


Quoted from Dustin
Well yeah, he'd have to learn how to shoot straight again.


This is something that came up during the first ten that I decided to leave be. But since itís come up againÖ

Skills are not memories. They say you never forget how to ride a bike. Thatís because your ability to ride a bike isnít dependent on memory. Once something becomes learned enough itís pushed to a different area of the brain. Sure you can lose skills if amnesia strikes, because amnesia is often a result of brain damage and brain damage can screw you up all sorts of ways. But thereís no basis in science that I can find that says amnesia definitely will, or is even likely to, rob you of your skills.

In addition, memory itself isnít even one part of the brain. Itís many different overlapping parts of the brain, which is why people frequently lose some types of memories but not others. If every amnesiac forgot what a toilet was and how to use it, I imagine it would show up in more case studies.


Quoted from Dustin
Well he helped Adam escape to the detriment of the FBI. I suppose he has his favourites.


Ellington was demoted because he thought Adam was innocent. As Kelly notes, heís been acting on a grudge all day and is operating under the misconceived notion that if he shows everyone how wrong they were, heíll get his job back (or at least be able to rub their faces in it). Heís basically doing what hundreds of renegade cops in action movies have done. When Bond disobeys MI-5 because he thinks he knows better, people in the audience donít assume heís working for the Russians or that heís actively attempting to harm MI-5. The only difference is I wanted to turn that trope on its head by allowing Ellington to be wrong. But thatís nowhere near him being a turncoat, which is what heíd have to be for Lauren to spare him.

Lauren assumes, correctly, that her confused dad just let an FBI agent into their lair and others arenít far behind. And when they come, theyíll learn whatís really up. Hence her setting fire to all the laptops and getting out of dodge. Not to mention her stated belief that they can never go back. Adam took her on the run for a reason, and there's little she would see in the situation to convince her that that 8 year old threat has just vanished.
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PrussianMosby
Posted: October 15th, 2014, 11:37am Report to Moderator
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Hello Eric,

I'm late.

Okay, feature review, critique, discussion, feedback...

I read it straight through and it's defenitley noticeable you're not far away from a level which I imagine works in the industry, especially with regards to the given short time frame and what could happen if you write your stuff free chosen with the right amount of rewrites once.

Anyway, I start with a very negative point about your script, IN MY EYES. The title. It's noticeable you wanted to bring some depth inside, a meaning which leans on to a clever content... still it doesn't work. Titles don't work that way and you should think about your choice maybe more than anything even in a 7 week script (don't think I mentioned it in the first week, my fault, I had to name it there to bring it on the table). It's too ironic for me when I imagine to pass the movie poster of "A Time To Forget" or with regards to the pitch when you'll have to answer the producers question: "What's the title?"... Out of Robert Redford alone on a ship (All is lost), or a Polanski work or whatever... sorry, I hope you think about, cause that can damage a lot; maybe I'm wrong, though I have my doubts that I am here...

Coming to the positive stuff: What I liked most was the world of your thriller. Sure it was about hotel rooms, sedans, agencies techs, garages, elevators- all those clichťd stuff BUT- that's where those people live; hotels, cars, they spend a lot of their lifetime in those surroundings- you gave it a great flow and a fresh attempt.
I liked how you took some time and slowed down to show us the characters Ellington, Kelly, and Hoff, right to change over to Adam and his great suspense and action scene with Kanani. The little daughter in between, the escape, everything plotted well and delivered on point- suspensefully thrilling.

Second big point I enjoyed- the twist in the third act, not the plot alone, also the whole tone twisted a kind of into darkness.


Best joke:

Adam studies a subway map. He notices a PASSENGER glance at
them. He pulls out his sunglasses and offers them to Kanani.

KANANI
No offense, but I donít think most
Americans recognize me.

ADAM
Then wear them cause theyíre cool.

The above was so simple, still so unexpected, dry sense of humor, I had to laugh.


The action was good. I think it needs a lot to write long action sequences as you did here. Very skillful. Nothing more to say about that.

Before I come to the things I had some problems with, I understand your message and I think the middle east needs a few movies to help them to reflect how the world sees the chaos they  live in. I liked the distanced way on the surface you choose, because they really seem to need the message most: Don't think about to kill your neighbor at first. Let's talk. In a human sense such an easy message seem to be so complicated for that region that you should involve this theme exactly as easy as you did here- and repeat it.

Ok, let's face the problems I had.

It took me some time to understand what's that memory stuff is exactly about. I thought over it several times and what I get is: Adam's memory has been erased and same time given to a chip which can be activated to erase his new experiences by overwriting them with his old ones.

That's too passive. We don't see that whole conflict. You are guiding us via dialogue over and over to understand his feelings. Kanani for example tells him to follow his instincts and Adam explains him he knows how much a gun weights in his hands with only seeing it and so on and so on.

As writers, we see all those constructions better than the audience; mainstream movies uses those constructions over and over succesfully too, but there are some points I couldn't believe.


Kanani' and Dolores' reaction.

ADAM
I donít know where to begin...
Today I woke up with no memory.

KANANI
What exactly did they do to you?

Kanani drives along with him and he doesn't seem to want to talk about the brainwash to understand Adam. I mean what's that poison. It's high tech stuff. It's not familiar to us nor to Kanani AS you present him here.

Same with Dolores. Adam (Above) tells her once he lost his memory and things just go on.

In my view you would have to deliver more information about that crazy underground 1 million dollar gadget. It should have a shiny more crazy presentation as to pour it into Adam in the backseat of a car. That could help a lot. So, I think, if you use it, make it a bigger sub-theme, let the cops and the villains be more active involved about that magical poison anyhow.

You just haven't convince me in that case and would need another presentation to do so.


Ellington looks around the room...
Notices ANOTHER DOOR in the back.

ELLINGTON
You might have to do some running.

The above remembered me of Kanani's escape with Adam in act 1. The escape has the same structure.


Yelena starts to steal the show from Warren. This is interesting for some reasons, but Warren is too weak in the end.

Then, at 90 it changes 180 degree. I enjoyed that but the conflict between Adam and Lauren is so hard to deliver it believable. There must be so many thoughts and conflicts within Adam you just cannot bring out visual. So, you just go on and let them talk later, step by step. Don't get me wrong. I see the difficulty, still, there it lacks. Adam's inner conflict is not touchable yet. It's the way of "why don't go to the cops from the start" I think I've crtisised after the first week had passed. And that's too early and a too stable problem all the way - concerning the returning problem's structure storywise, of understanding the characters (organic?).

Out of the inner conflicts I couldn't grab, the characters were cool and stylish. Unique. Kanani, Jelena, Adam, -Kelly was GREAT, she was so different, at first I thought she's just stupid, then she gain momentum-

I think you're stronger with cutting the "medicine" angle

OR the opposite

put it into the middle of the script, make it the main theme, you know, with several characters having their memories erased and a different past which they don't know--- something like that in your way of course.

Maybe the action carries that flaw as it does in several movies.

As said: I imagine if you put your strength into a script you have a better control of, with regards to the inner conflicts of characters, OR maybe let it go all crazy, so that believability leaves for fun completely, I would have enjoyed it much more.

Though I've enjoyed this piece even the way you put it out here, quite a lot, and to the end. A better balance could multiply the fun factor easily here.




Revision History (3 edits; 1 reasons shown)
PrussianMosby  -  October 15th, 2014, 12:02pm
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EWall433
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Hey Alex,

Thanks for cracking this open. Lots of good notes here. Iíve actually been through this recently, changing some of the scenes a bit to address the comments thus far (the dropbox link may reflect that), but a lot of the points you bring up still apply.

Your point about the titleís well taken. Iím not great with titles. I usually I come up with one just to have something to call it, knowing I can change it later. Iíll keep an open mind with that.

When it comes to the way the memory drug works, you got it, but if it takes too much to process thatíll definitely be a problem. I was trying to set it up and move beyond it as quickly as possible. Adam and Warrenís group separating early on and not talking again til near the 3rd act makes it hard to reveal over time. That and thereís a lot of other info that comes fast in the opening pages.

With the other characters learning about Adamís amnesia, I was hoping to let those discussions happen offscreen for the most part. Weíve been with Adam the whole way and know everything he knows, so one wouldnít anticipate any surprises in those conversations (although I did cut out a line from Ellington that refers to the Pentagonís numerous ďmind control programsĒ dating back to the 50s). Where I do have it brought up, Iíll keep an eye on it. In the example you gave, Kananiís line seems more suited to Dolores now that I think about it.

I also accept that I leant too heavily on dialogue to explain whatís going on inside Adam. I think an actor on the screen would be able to convey a lot of this under-the-surface tension, but on the page I need to keep looking for ways to clarify through visuals and actions.

I did intend for Yelena to steal the show from Warren. When I first set out, Warren was my main bad guy. But then I thought how things would actually play out, and with Yelena in the field her role actually becomes more important. I prefer it that way, but there are some things I know about Warren now that I didnít while writing, so I should try to give him a little more definition than I have.

And Iíll admit Iíve been thinking about what this might look like if I broke it down to the level of outline and rebuilt it from the ground up. Whatís really important and indisposable vs what can be left on the cutting room floor. But for now I think Iíll try to make this version of the story as strong as possible and see how far I can push that.

Thanks again for giving this a read and giving me more to think about. Iím glad you got some enjoyment out of it.

Eric
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