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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Closing Hours Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: April 15th, 2015, 4:51pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Closing Hours by Alex Wallace (xale) - Short, Drama - A man dying from cancer has a meeting with two people that may change the way he looks at what life he has left. 8 pages - pdf, format


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spesh2k
Posted: April 15th, 2015, 6:25pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Alex,

There are numerous issues right off the bat on page 1.


Quoted Text
INT. BAR - NIGHT
There is a barman behind a bar and a male customer in his mid 40's wearing a blue bandana.


1. There is no description of the bar or any of the characters. The male customer description is too vague, especially for who we assume is the main character.

2. No need to say "There is". You already imply that "there is" just by mentioning the character in the action line.

3. Is the customer behind the bar, too? Obviously not, but your wording is questionable.

4. Barman? Is that a common term? Usually bartender or barkeep. But I'll roll with it.

5. Don't mind the BARMAN as a character name but you should give male customer a name. It seems like a hassle as a reader and for you as the writer to mention "customer" or "man in the blue bandana". I see you mention his name (Ronald) on page 2... I would establish his name right away.


Quoted Text
BARMAN
That glass looks half empty.

The man in the bandana holds the glass up to his eyes and swirls what's left of his straight whiskey.

CUSTOMER
It has been for years.

Then the customer in the bandana places it in front of him slowly and gently.

BARMAN
Do you want me to make it full?


Unless CUSTOMER is obviously down in the dumps (which you don't show at all -- you choose to tell it through dialogue), why would the bartender say something like that? The dialogue doesn't ring true and comes across as clunky.


Quoted Text
CUSTOMER
Unless Dr. Jack Daniels has a cure
for cancer in his latest product I
don't see it being a possibility.
Tonight is nothing more than a
liquid fuelled mirage. Well I guess
that's the reason we drink only
difference is my problem won't
follow me to the grave it's going
to send me there aswell.


The last sentence is a run-on. I'm not a stickler for grammar in a screenplay, especially in dialogue, but you may want to reconsider that last sentence in his dialogue. You're missing punctuation. It reads very poorly. It's very on-the-nose. The exposition is too obvious. Rather than showing, you're trying to tell us everything about this character through dialogue. Not very natural.


Quoted Text
Barman places the bottle of Jack Daniels next to the customer in the bandana.

BARMAN
This is on the house brother.

The customer picks up the bottle and fills his glass to the top with whiskey.

CUSTOMER
Thanks barkeep. The only thing
better than kindness from a
stranger is kindness from a
bartender. That's my moto for
tonight anyway.


Again, poorly written dialogue.

Page 2:


Quoted Text
BARMAN
Yeah I don't know of any therapist
earning $12:50 an hour.


Not sure where you're from exactly, but I've bartended for nearly 15 years and, commonly in the United States, we get 2-3 dollars an hour plus tips. Bartenders usually make A LOT more than 12.50 an hour. And it's 12.50, not 12:50 unless you're indicating time.

More bad dialogue and lack of punctuation:

Page 3

Quoted Text
BARMAN
When you contribute to people
losing their mind, body and spirit
on a regular basis you also lose a
part of yourself with every drink
you pour until there is nothing
left inside but a faulse sense of
worth that is shattered every time
I lock those doors at night and
walk from one nightmare to another.



Quoted Text
Ronald try's moving the barman with physical force but is unsuccessful as the barman is strong.

RONALD
I have to! I came here for nothing
more than a quite drink and now
your putting me into a deeper pit
of despair which I don't need by
the way in case you didn't notice.


Ronald "tries", not "try's". Also "tries moving the barman with physical force" is poorly worded. All you have to say is "Ronald tries to shove Barman aside -- Barman doesn't budge." Or something like that.

And Ronald meant "quiet drink" probably. Not "quite drink".

I was unable to read further... there are just too many things wrong with the writing. I would suggest trying to be more subtle with your dialogue. If Ronald wanted to just have a "quiet drink", why would he completely force in the fact that he has cancer in his opening dialogue? Unless he purposely wanted to completely turn off the Barman from a conversation, he would not mention that he has a cancer if he didn't want to engage in a conversation.

Perhaps it is part of Ronald's character to sound pathetic, desperate for attention. But it is a turn off and kind of makes me dislike the character.

The key here is to show things and not have the dialogue push the whole story.

Best of luck,

Michael


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RichardR
Posted: April 17th, 2015, 9:50am Report to Moderator
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Alex,

All comments should be taken with a shot of your favorite booze.

The writing flaws have already been documented.  The English is simply not professional quality.  But those flaws can be fixed.  Let's talk about story for a moment.

What you have here is a character study.  This is Ronald's story, his interactions with a bartender and a bum.  That's the focus, and it's on a woe-is-me character trying to drown his pain and problems in alcohol.  it's a story as old as men and taverns, which is why is not all that interesting.  If you want to catch a reader's attention, you have to present something different, something new, a way to reveal the story that hasn't been seen a thousand times.  Simply put, you have to make Ronald or Joe or the bartender much more interesting, unique.  Perhaps you make Ronald some sort of genius in a particular area, and he's going to impart that knowledge to the bartender who's working his last shift.  Or perhaps, the bartender has a potion, a drink guaranteed to cure cancer, but what does it cost?  A soul? A bit of time?  Perhaps, Joe the bum offers to exchange places with Ronald.  A simple swap, Joe gets cancer, Ronald lives.  How?  i don't know.  It's a challenge to figure it out.  In any case, work on making these three characters much deeper.  Who is Ronald leaving behind?  Why is the bartender leaving?  What put Joe on a park bench?  

Best
Richard
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