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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Storyteller Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: January 21st, 2015, 5:59pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Storyteller by Richard Russell - Short, Drama - A young girl tells stories to the dying. 10 pages - pdf, format


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LC
Posted: January 21st, 2015, 9:54pm Report to Moderator
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SPOILERS BELOW:


For God's sake, give the kid some ice-cream.   Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Something you might want to think about first off: I'd rethink the logline and make it more vague and enigmatic - focus on the young girl and her 'gift' but intrigue the reader - don't give away part of what is essentially the story and conclusion.

Richard, is it that you dislike formatting or like flouting the rules or what?: no periods throughout your SLUG LINES??

If so why bother with a FADE IN and OUT. It just looks incomplete to me and rushed but I suspect that's also cause I'm so used to seeing it that way. Looks neater. Btw, along these lines you may as well get rid of 30's and just write it 30s which is conventional now.

You also need to CAP the intro of KYLE.

I think some physical descriptions of both CORY and KYLE would be nice.

This one:
'... a mix of teenage angst and confidence and always at odds with her mother.' - especially the latter part is pushing it in terms of 'telling' and you've done a good job of showing us the character of Cory to indicate this anyway. So, I wouldn't mind at all knowing how you picture her physically.

Then, she sees Mrs. Sanchez's smile, and
Cory's OK.

This line (above) 'and Cory's OK'. threw me a bit and I think it's cause it comes off (least to me) as if it's written third-person. 'Cory relaxes' or 'Cory breathes a sigh of relief' - something similar would work better imh.

'The police will be here soon... ' shouldn't that be the ambulance?

STORY:
Interesting to say the least and the story stayed with me.

Why doesn't the Mom call the doctor sooner?

The passages with Mrs Sanchez are beautifully poetic - really well done on that.

Equally as effective and nicely told is the 'story' Cory tells Kyle in the denouement.

On screen however, I feel it would be ultimately depressing and a little slow. Cory's gift has limits in terms of how much time she has to tell an individual's story and see them safely to the other side. And, she cannot predict until the last minute. What a burden. She already speaks of it as one too - not sure about the line: 'it kills me to do it, kills me' on one hand I think it's overdone, on the other hand it's the kind of teenage angst-ridden line that would come from someone that age.

My opinion is that this story would be far more satisfactorily told/seen, if the setting changes. The people at the Good Hope Hospice have her on standby. These people are at the end of their lives so the story is predictable and one-note.

How about staging the idea within a more natural and unpredictable setting - like the outside world   - a car accident, or freak occurrence of near death that occurs more through fate than old age. If some kid is stuck under a car and Cory helps that character with her gift (i.e., no time for a loved one to get there on time) then it would not only be more exciting plot-wise but your character might think differently of the gift that's been bestowed on her.

I like what you've written - it's definitely something a little left of field but for the most part it has a sedate tone to it. I'd like to see the character of Cory in a less controlled atmosphere.




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RichardR
Posted: January 22nd, 2015, 9:28am Report to Moderator
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Thank you for the comments.  They mean a lot ot me.  I'll look to formatting.  I'm not big on that.  I'm glad you liked the little story.  I have a feature length script along the same lines, but I don't think it's ready for prime time just yet.  In any case, your points are well taken.  

Thanks

Best
Richard
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Athenian
Posted: January 23rd, 2015, 12:58am Report to Moderator
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Hi Richard,

Good work! I liked both the concept and your writing.

The one thing I didn't like was the way Cory told her mother what was going to happen to Kyle. It was a little cruel and she should have expected her strong reaction (and the subsequent, time-consuming fight). Perhaps she could just make her leave the room with some excuse, or tell her to go and call 911 (as she eventually did). Just an idea.

Also, perhaps you could give an early hint that Kyle was into baseball (e.g. a bat standing nearby).

Nice script. I really enjoyed it.

Manolis

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Athenian  -  January 23rd, 2015, 1:09am
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RichardR
Posted: January 23rd, 2015, 8:53am Report to Moderator
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Manolis,

thanks for the read and the comments.  YOu're right.  The baseball theme needs a setup earlier in the script.  The conflict with mom is just that--conflict.  I'll relook to make sure it's  needed.

Thanks.

Best
Richard
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stevemiles
Posted: January 25th, 2015, 11:41pm Report to Moderator
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Richard,

engaging idea but the delivery fell short for me.  Feels like a bigger idea struggling with the constraints of a short.  

Cory’s initial reluctance feels natural -- but what kind of Mother would push her child into a situation she’s clearly uncomfortable with?

p.2 -- ‘Spare me the drama.’

Despite her ‘gift’ the idea of sending your 13 year old daughter off to witness someone’s final living moments would be pretty dramatic.  You’re placing a heavy emotional burden on a child which I’m not quite accepting as written.

Think you could rework this angle to include some external pressure (financial -- Corey helping out the family; religious -- a sense of spiritual/moral pressure to use her gift etc.).  For me it needs something to drive Cory naturally from A to B.  Reworking the family as impoverished might also go some way towards accepting the severity of the brother’s sickness and the mother’s reluctance to call in a doctor sooner.

How about some idea as to how Cory’s ‘gift’ originated?  How did she/we discover this prescience?  Doesn’t have to be much, perhaps a clue as to how we’ve reached this point and how she’s come to be entrusted with a stranger’s final moments.

Cory’s stories aside -- which worked well -- the hospice scene felt bluntly handled.  Maybe just my poor sense of humour but there’s something darkly comical in the way Cory turns up and picks out a random patient to be wheeled off for a ‘story’…  I’d consider reworking this scene to include a little more tact -- perhaps set the scene and cut to Cory ‘assessing’ these patients in their rooms.

Reminds me of the story of Oscar the hospice cat (see ‘Making Rounds with Oscar’) -- a nurse noticed that when a patient’s time was near the cat would come and curl up on the bed with them…  Can’t think how that would make you feel wondering if this damn cat would turn up at your bedside everyday… anyways...

I liked the brother angle.  Although a little too obvious as written it does add a layer of personal conflict by throwing a family member into the mix.  What was missing for me was Cory’s reaction.  Her acceptance of Kyle’s impending death and the way she told his ‘story’ left her feeling cold -- harder for me as the reader to connect to as a result.  Cory’s gift comes at a price, her emotional well-being.  Would the story be better served if we see/feel her anguish in Kyle’s final moments and the story she has to tell?

What’s driving Cory here?  She swings too easily from disliking her gift to readily accepting it -- which makes her initial reaction (‘It kills me…’) seem forced.  I’d think about what it is Cory wants (to be a normal kid?) and how that conflicts with her gift.

Again I think its a solid idea and the writing held my interest throughout.  But for me it needs more grounding, and unlike most shorts perhaps a few more pages to explore and
build more of an emotional punch into the ending.

All the best with it.

Steve.


My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:


http://stevemiles80.wixsite.com/sjmilesscripts
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: January 26th, 2015, 6:46am Report to Moderator
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Filmed as it is, I'm sure it would pick up some awards. It's nice, family friendly with its heart in the right place. It's got good tone and sensitivity.

Negatives:

Strictly speaking...I feel it lacks dramatic irony.

There needs to be more conflict in there, somewhere. She doesn't want to do it at first...but then does it and it's positive...then she can't wait to do it.  It all feels too easy...she doesn't really learn enough.

There needs to be one more thing to it. What does she suffer in return, what are you trying to say about the world in general? Get something a little deeper in there, and this could be raised to a whole new level.

Well done. Rick.
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Dustin
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 10:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
Filmed as it is, I'm sure it would pick up some awards. It's nice, family friendly with its heart in the right place. It's got good tone and sensitivity.

Negatives:

Strictly speaking...I feel it lacks dramatic irony.

There needs to be more conflict in there, somewhere. She doesn't want to do it at first...but then does it and it's positive...then she can't wait to do it.  It all feels too easy...she doesn't really learn enough.

There needs to be one more thing to it. What does she suffer in return, what are you trying to say about the world in general? Get something a little deeper in there, and this could be raised to a whole new level.

Well done. Rick.


After reading this story I have to echo what Rick has noted. This is a very interesting premise, but, like Rick, I think it needs something else to elevate it to the level it deserves. I'm sure you do too.

Sometimes I look at my own work, completely lost as to how to elevate it the extra notch it needs to go. I hope this one is in your thoughts because it deserves more.

Rick mentioned conflict. I think you could cut out a large part of the start, and begin with Mother chucking the daughter out of sickboy's room. Leave the viewer wondering why a mother would scream so vehemently at her own daughter. Maybe the boy has a contagious disease?

Then cut to the old people's home. Never mention the word story, just let the actions do the talking. We will see her tell a story. See the old lady die, but we still won't really get it. She can have the conversation with the director of the old people's home afterwards, but keep it subtextual.

Then when she gets home she manages to get to her brother's room, she locks the doors. Mom gets home, banging on the door. Now is the time for exposition. Girl tells her brother not to worry, etc... then tells him the same story. End it there. Done in 5-6 pages I reckon.

I also like the title 'Storysayer' for this.

Anyway, good luck with it.


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RichardR
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 10:33am Report to Moderator
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All,

thanks for the reads and the comments.  Seems we need a bit more conflict for Cory and perhaps more hiding of the gift and the ending.

Thanks much.

Richard
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Colkurtz8
Posted: September 28th, 2015, 9:50pm Report to Moderator
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Richard

There is a great idea at the centre of this and I appreciated the tender, nuanced approach you took with it in terms of Cory's love/hate relationship with her "gift". As fantastical as it is, one can sympathise with the burden it would have on such young shoulders (or any for that matter) but also be touched by her gentleness and humanity when it came to her actually performing it.

How she used her instincts to prioritise Mrs. Sanchez instead of Mr. Holmes was a nice touch which suggested this was a real gift rather than some gimmick to make a person’s passing more comfortable. This was effective in engaging me more with the read, in that I knew it was genuine and not mere (albeit well intentioned) manipulation.

However, I did have a problem with the Kyle part of the story. Firstly, I didn't buy that he would suddenly be on death's door like that when his mother initially said he wasn’t feeling well, it seemed too contrived in order to set up the final scenes. Yes, an unprecedented turn for the worst in a sick person of any age is possible of course but how it was handled in the context of what was going on around it didn’t ring true for me.

How about making Kyle terminally ill from the outset and framing the story’s tone around that? You would have to withhold Cora’s gift a little longer and the specifics of Kyle’s condition to maximise the impact of the ending but everything could still be informed by the fact that Cora and her mother acknowledge the inevitability of Cora having to “perform” for her brother at some point in the near future.

Yet, even when the moment comes, Cora’s Mom won’t want to accept it and you could play it out as you’ve written it with them fighting and Cora essentially overpowering her so she can tell Kyle a story. That desperate struggle provides great drama and tension in the inherent tragedy of its circumstances which is already present in the script’s current form.

Depending on how you structure the story and what information you choose to withhold/reveal (particularly in regards to Kyle’s condition and Cora’s ability) this confrontation and conflict will be something we won’t anticipate until it’s happening.

Right now, Kyle’s sudden deterioration just seems awfully abrupt and set up. Plus, Cora’s sheer indifference to the realisation that her brother is dying was rather troubling. She just calmly goes about telling her story when a few hours earlier Kyle was supposed to just have the flu or something. Yes, I get that she has been hardened by (presumably) seeing so many people pass away but this is her brother and it’s all so sudden. Even the most inexpressive of us would be utterly devastated. Cora’s lack of empathy (storytelling aside) was startling.

A small thing but where was the father in all of this? He was supposed to bring Cora to the hospice but we never see him before during or after?

Anyway, I think you have a great basis for a story here and I wouldn’t change the general narrative outline of Cora having to regrettably and tragically “do her thing” for her dying brother it’s just the way in which you get to that moment I have problems with.

Col.


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RichardR
Posted: September 29th, 2015, 7:57am Report to Moderator
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Col

Thanks for the comments.  As you might guess, it's a struggle with the brother-sister side of this story.  I'll revisit just how to frame Kyle's illness and imminent death.  YOu make some excellent points.

Best
Richard
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eldave1
Posted: September 29th, 2015, 10:51am Report to Moderator
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Richard - I gave this a read. I liked it. A couple of suggestions:

Using "CORY'S MOM" as a character name. Struck me as odd since we already know from the set up and dialogue that she is and she is also KYLE'S MOM. Long winded way of saying that I think just MOM works fine.


Quoted Text
DIRECTOR (CONT'D)
Look at me. Can you tell how long?
CORY
No. It only works at the end.
DIRECTOR
Oh, OK, thanks.


IMO - a great premise for the dialogue - a man looking for the eternal answer we all are and his response when she says she can't give it to him is almost as thought he asked her if here was any coffee left.

The ending was somewhat predictable because you foreshadowed Cory's illness. I a not one that believes every ending has to be a twist or a surprise - just well done. This is.

That being said - if you were looking for a twist - having Mom, rather than Cory, needing the story would be a good one.

Overall - I thought this was solid.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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