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Don
Posted: March 20th, 2019, 8:29pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Special Bond by Marcela Tingle - Short, Drama - A single woman who's given up on her own life is trying to salvage her friend's life, and the consequences are unpredictable!  16 pages - pdf format

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LC
Posted: March 24th, 2019, 7:00pm Report to Moderator
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Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

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Marcela, you have no contact details (email) on your title page, no copyright, no 'may not be reproduced etc. Rectify that.

Add your email contact details and insert: (
C) 2019 This screenplaymay not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Also, get rid of (short film). It's not needed.

No FADE IN?

EXT. APARTMENTS. CONTINUOUS.
Remove the 'periods'.
Should be:
EXT. APARTMENT BLOCK – DAY

It’s a good idea you write to accepted Industry Standard, at least before you’re famous.

Watch your adding of ‘Continuous’ at the end of sluglines. My understanding is that this is only if your scene is contained to the same location and following on with no gap in timeframe.

'Continuous' doesn’t apply to what you’re writing.
Example:

EXT. APARTMENT. CONTINUOUS.
The TAXI DRIVER takes a massive suitcase out of the boot.
Jayne helps her daughter DAISY, 2 y.o. out of the car.

That'd be: MINUTES LATER or SECONDS LATER

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?m-1530315360/s-17/highlight-Continuous/#num17

Also, Mini slugs are often beneficial when your action (in this case the apartment) is taking place in a contained space.

Apartment mini slugs example would be something like:

Tina heads to the

KITCHEN

Stirs a bowl of pasta on the stove...
Exits the kitchen to -

DINING ROOM
She sets the table with the special chinaware.

A knock alerts her to the

FRONT DOOR

A MASKED MAN stands in the doorway welding an axe.
He strikes Tina hard across the head, draws blood.

Tina slumps to her knees, crawls slowly to the--

BATHROOM
A long trail of blood behind her...

INT. TINA'S APARTMENT, LIING ROOM, EVENING.
This time you use commas.

Should be:
INT. TINA'S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

(btw typo – liing/living room)

Save exclamation points for high tension moments. Reserve them, if for example someone has a gun pointed at their head:
Don’t shoot! I'll tell you everything you want to know.
Otherwise they lose their efficacy.

TINA
(urgent)
You’re overusing wrylies/parentheticals to direct emotions and and not formatting them correctly in general.

These:
(cross)
(confident)
(surprised)
(uptight)
(uncomfortable)

Etc. Are not needed.

Let your words dictate the tone and emotion, less directing.

TINA
This discussion is pointless... (turns
to Daisy) What shall we build, Daisy?
A house? A tower? A tower will be
easier.

That Wrylie above is actually fine because you use it to specify which character is being spoken to. It just needs reformatting.

Like this:
TINA
This discussion is pointless.
(to Daisy)
What shall we build, Daisy...?

Jayne trying to compose herself. Not needed imh. Perhaps choose an action instead:
Jayne takes a gulp of wine, composes herself.

TINA
Don't be silly. It's good to have
company, (looks at Daisy) isn't it,
Daisy?

Again, not formatted correctly. Perhaps instead of the Wrylie in this situation Tina hugs Daisy, winks or smiles at her.

Daisy takes one of the wooden blocks and throws it at Tina.

Nice line above. And nice change up for the scene. It alleviates too much cuteness, and it forecasts that Daisy is a chip off the old block – her father.

EXT. ALLOTMENTS. DAY
Should be:
EXT. ALLOTMENT – DAY

Tina opens a little wooden gate. She's dressed smart and is a
complete misfit in her chaotic allotment - piles of branches,
an old bath, a couple of freaky-looking scarecrows...
She unlocks the padlock on her shed, takes out an old ratan
chair and sits down under a tree. She exhales with relief.


You don’t need (adjective) 'little' gate.
Ratan (typo) rattan
And, try to condense this.

Tina and Jayne watching Dinner Date on TV.
Tina and Jayne watch Dinner Date on TV.

Perhaps ramp it up with your verb choice i.e., 'engrossed in...'

Who is it?
Jayne's husband.
Phil. Is Jayne there?

Suggestion: It’s Phil, Jayne’s husband.
Is she there?
He'll sound more in control, even threatening. The other way makes him sound tentative, nervous.


Birds sing (like crazy. )
Daisy (is playing with soil,) her clothes dirty.
(Jayne sitting nearby), looking lost.
Tina digs out some carrots.


A clear blue sky, sun shines, birdssong.
Daisy plays in the dirt with a bucket and spade, clothes dirty.
Tina weeds the vegetable patch, unearths some carrots.
Jayne sits idly nearby, lost in her own world.

Daisy's frightened SQUEALING comes out of
the shed.


Suggestion: Daisy’s frightened squeals come from the shed.

Suggestion: She lifts Daisy into her arms, walks off in a huff.

But I'll turn the lamp off...
You don't need the 'but' or the 'bossily'

just because he
has empty house!


Has an empty house (delete the !)

kitchen draws...
Kitchen drawers.

You haven't
seen them somewhere before you left,
did you? (A beat). Okay, don't worry,
they will turn up


You haven’t seen them have you?
Or:
Did you see them before you left?

You’re mixing your tenses with ‘you haven’t’ and 'did you' combined.

They'll turn up (using the contraction of 'they will’) is more natural sounding dialogue.

Your (beats) are formatted incorrectly for the phone call. Perhaps use ellipses instead.

Bottom page 8 if that's meant to be Jayne (phone call) you might consider an Intercut.
I’m thinking you meant Tina sighs. ?

Handy links below:
https://johnaugust.com/2005/intercutting
https://screenwriting.io/how-do-you-format-a-telephone-conversation-in-a-screenplay/

Unless Tina's psychic I don’t think you need:
Said in a cold, apprehensive way.

Daisy Brown. We believe her mother and
you are very good friends.


Dialogue is a little odd and less than professional for a Cop. I think the cop would start by introducing/identifying himself and then state the relationship between the two women, then bring up the missing child.

'her mother and you' is not ideal, even for dialogue for a character.

Detective Bryant, Fifth Precinct, my partner, Bill Smith
We’re making inquires into the disappearance of a child...
We believe you and the child's mother are good friends.

* Tina criticises Jayne's drinking but the description reads:
Tina on the sofa... a bottle of wine and
empty wine glass on the coffee table.


Oh fuck of. (Should be)
Oh, fuck off.

Likewise:
Oh for God's sake.
(Offset with a comma) Oh, for God’s sake.

TINA
Since when has Daisy been missing?
Suggestion: How long has Daisy been missing?(this would do away with the repeated 'since' on the next line.

2-year-old.
Two-year old.

laugh in the phone.
Laugh over, or down the phone line.

TINA
(cross)
You have to stop drinking and...'
No need for the (cross) parenthetical – let the dialogue speak for itself.

* Are you going for irony and hypocrisy cause Tina's fond of the plonk herself?

trying to make the sense of things.
trying to make sense of things

Open the door! We are the police! We
have a warrant!


Suggestion:
Police! Open the door! We have a warrant.

Terror in Tina's face.
Terror on Tina's face.

She pulls a curtain open,
She pulls the curtain open

You are barking at the wrong three
You are barking up the wrong tree.  

Go an arrest Daisy's father!
Go and arrest Daisy’s father.

TINA
I need a legal advice.

Suggestion:

TINA
I demand to speak to my lawyer.
I have a right to contact my lawyer. Or:
I want to speak to a lawyer.

Tina sits on the bed in her single holding cell.
No need to repeat 'holding cell’ you have that in the scene header.

Tina pushing Daisy on a baby swing...
Tina pushes Daisy...

I'm not entirely averse to 'ing words as long as the description is active. Example: Tina pushes Daisy on the swing, pushing her higher and higher. The little girl squeals with delight as she soars into the air. Give us vivid visuals.
I'll stop with the specific stuff now, you get the gist.

...
Onto story.

I feel this is a big story, perhaps too big, for a Short.

You’re examining big themes but you’re also keeping too much under wraps imho and 'telling' us plot points instead of showing them played out.

You cover issues of domestic violence, a character believing she can’t do it on her own without a man to look after her, loneliness, (Tina's), alcohol abuse, the choice to settle for a partner even if not a wise choice, and the implication that Daisy may be cut from the same cloth as her father – a bad seed.

The women are adversaries – too much I felt. I think you need to temper some of their exchanges, try to inject a little humour, show us the bond between them cause at the moment I'm not feeling much except that they really dislike each other.  The problem is both Tina and Jayne are not coming off in a sympathetic light. Even if Tina's goal is ultimately to gain custody of Daisy, showing a genuine relationship between the two women would have a greater impact on your denouement and shock your audience, especially if Tina was faking concern for her friend all the way along.

There are inconsistencies too. Tina drinks just as much as Jayne does. I gather this may be a deliberate choice to show irony, hypocrisy, but let us into the real character that is Tina so we can be on her side, at least in the beginning, and have her true motives revealed as a shock. The audience in this case must at least like Tina. Inject drama again by perhaps showing Tina drinking on the sly and covering it up when Jayne is staying with her and yet still being critical of her friend drinking.

When Phil shows up you could create more suspense too. Create some dread so we feel it. As is, Phil just walks away with a couple of words from Tina. Too easy imho. In doing that you diffuse the drama from the get-go. Set up the suspense. Tina tells Phil that Jayne isn’t there. Both women breathe a sigh of relief when it appears he's gone, then minutes later there’s a bang on the door. And another bang. Nothing to see in the door's peephole. How has he got into the building? Is he still out there? Tina and Jayne scramble in fear, try to keep Daisy quiet, hand over the child's mouth etc.

Follow from one inciting incident to another too. It’s plausible that Jayne would now give the reason she's moving to Gavin's because of this scene above – Phil turning up, scaring her, being a threat not just to herself and her child but also to Tina. Least she can rationalise it this way to Tina.

We want to see drama and feel it.  We feel the heat from the Cops when Tina is being interrogated but then she is quickly released. You need to add layers, create suspicion with her character and motivations, then pull the rug out. You need us the audience to question what we're seeing and hearing and who we believe, but we need to like Tina, or at least sympathise with her.  The food selfie is a good window into her lonely character but it’s not quite enough.

You keep Gavin completely under wraps. We are 'told' about him, we never see him and yet by the end his role has been pivotal - he's murdered.

We are also told the rest of the plot.

Daisy was locked up.
I'm not entirely sure what Jayne did. Is she the one who locked Daisy in the shed? Why?
Phil killed Gavin.

All are 'tells'. That might still work as reveals if you refine the structure of the set-up.

Daisy locked in the shed has potential to really shock. If Tina discovers the little girl there and the cops arrive at just that same moment (Tina looks absolutely guilty of kidnapping her) then that’s real drama, not drama told after the fact.

Daisy should be older imho to be considered a 'bad seed', four or five at least.  At two years old I don’t think she’s old enough to be showing many traits inherent from her father or for her mother to be noticing them.

Finally at the end I think your audience should see the ‘bad seed’ that is in fact Daisy, either with a final look or action -  perhaps she does something to Tina – trips her, then feigns innocence, has a tantrum throws Tina's car keys in the bushes at the park, destroys her phone etc. Something to suggest malice, evil, inherited from her father. Evil kids are great characters. So then in the final scene with Tina, the joke's on her. Careful what you wish for...

There’s potential here story wise, it just needs developing and I do feel there’s too much story packed into a 'short'.
I’m guilty of that, don't worry.

There’s a real art to scripting a 'Short' but practice makes perfect.

P.S.
Some great advice from this thread:
https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1553250388/s-0/
courtesy of Dave (eldave).

Parentheticals (wrylies) are another far too criticized tool. Apparently some folk decades ago taught people never to use them. That's horrible advice.

They can create clarity when their are multiple characters in a scene. e.g.,

DAVE is in TOM's face.

DAVE
You don't know anything about writing
(at Mary)
You agree, right?

Or save a line or two.

e.g.,

DAVE in the car. An unopened beer can is nestled between his legs.

A COP approaches, peers through the open window.

COP
License please.
(re: the beer can)
You been drinking?

Without the wrylie one would have to write:

COP
License please.

The Cop looks at the beer can.

COP
You been drinking?

Results in an extra line of action and two blank lines. The parenthetical allows you to convey in 7 lines (including blanks) what would take seven without it.
...

** Just be careful not to use them constantly to convey emotion when it's already clear from the dialogue.
They are good for example if you want to denote (sarcasm).

Anyway Marcela, I notice you actively comment on other's scripts and I wanted to give a bit back.

No need to return the favour with mine btw.

Hope some of my notes help.


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 25th, 2019, 8:24am Report to Moderator
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Good morning/afternoon/evening - Delete as appropriate depending on when you read this.

I have only skimmed through LC's comments - So apologies if anything I say is duplicated.

I too have noticed you commenting on other peoples works - So feel you deserve reads in return.
As always - below is my amateur opinion. Take or leave what you wish.

Title page needs fixing - First impressions can mean a lot.

I can see you have used celtx - but for my eye, the spacing between the new sluglines and what comes before looks off - might just be me, who knows.

All the parentheticals are distracting - The majority I have read so far are not needed. These (IMHO) are important tools to the writer to add clarity where there could be ambiguity (I.E there are a lot of characters in a scene and it is unclear who is talking to who) or to add a tone that is hard to convey in writing, such as sarcasm. But like most things, they should be used as a last resort and only where necessary - when you use them a lot, in a way you have, to me is a red flag.

A lot of this dialogue is dry - I get it, dialogue is tough as hell. Do you have friends/family who would be willing to read the lines? hearing them out loud really highlights unnatural dialogue.
I also eavesdrop a lot - best way to get a feel of how real conversations play out is to actually listen to real conversations.

Would the police call her on the phone? Doubt it, but then the next scene they are in her apartment - So them calling her is completely pointless so can be removed. The golden rules are to get in and out of a scene as quickly as we can without taking away from the story - It's also a good idea to go through each scene afterward and ask yourself "If I removed this, would it affect the story?" if the answer is no, get rid. Give us exactly what we need, no more no less.

Page 14, you have a cop enter the cell but then the lawyer starts talking without being introduced or established that they are there.

To be brutally honest - the story lost my interest on page 6 - I carried on reading because you are active around here.
There's not a whole lot of drama going on, which is a shame, because the premise has so much potential for drama. Phil showing up at the house should have been dramatic, it wasn't - I didn't feel he was a threat at all, at any point - We are told he waits outside the apartment a lot, but it doesn't bother the characters so it doesn't bother me, the audience. This is a bad guy, he is abusive, but I never fear him, or what he will do to our characters.
Are the two main characters actually friends? I'm not exactly feeling the love between them - I get more of an estranged sister relationship - As in, they don't really like each other, but they are sisters so stick by each other.
The police - Again, she is being arrested, I should be feeling the drama here, the tension "Did she actually do it? is she being set-up? will this be a miscarriage of justice?" - I didn't get any of that. - Also, if she is innocent, why did she lie to police about owning a shed? made me suspicious of her but then nothing came of it.
I am actually confused about who locked the girl up - was it the dad?

The idea is fine, but you really need to ramp up the drama, tension and the humanity of the characters.

The writing itself needs work - tightening up. A few tips below, I hope they are helpful

*Tell us once - Take your opening page as an example, she's a eating a bowl of salad, a few lines later she puts down the bowl of salad - you have now told us twice the bowl contains salad.

*Show don't tell - "Jayne trying to compose herself" "Jayne is halfway through a bottle of cheap wine" "Jayne doesn't seem to care" - all told. I'm not saying never tell, but this is a visual medium - if you can show, do it.

*Combine sentences - A lot of the time reading this, the action/description can be very start/stop. Jayne is going this STOP Tina is doing this STOP this looks like this STOP. it really disrupts the read. A good example of this is the opening of the allotment scene on page 4. see if you can make them flow together better by combining sentences.

This has a lot of potential and could be a great short with some work.

Best of luck to you

Matt


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Andrew
Posted: March 25th, 2019, 8:58pm Report to Moderator
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Sorry, jumping on here to say wow, LC!

If that review was a first date, it would literally be a proposal at the end of the night from me.

Libby, you're the best! Marcela is very lucky to get this level of detailed, helpful feedback! I hope Marcela gives you a read back!


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LC
Posted: March 25th, 2019, 9:12pm Report to Moderator
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Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

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Aww, I knew there was an extra reason it was great to see you back, Andrew.    

Marcela has been actively commenting on scripts for a while now and I think she deserved a bit extra attention for her dedication.

I don't need a reciprocal read - I need to put some new scripts up myself for that.


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Marcela
Posted: March 26th, 2019, 3:57pm Report to Moderator
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Dear LC and Matthew Taylor,
thank you very much for your detailed feedbacks. I've been reading your comments for a couple of nights now, hence the delayed reply! Looks like I really need to get rid of the parentheticals! Daisy is 'bad seed' only in her mother's desperate hours of the day, perhaps I need to make that a bit more clear!
I guess I'm ready for another rewrite! English is my second language so it may take me another decade to get where I need to be! Thanks a lot for your help guys|!
Marcela


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LC
Posted: March 26th, 2019, 5:39pm Report to Moderator
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Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

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Hi Marcela.

It may not have been your intention with the 'bad seed' element but it would make for a clever twist and shock to incorporate it and add another dimension to the narrative.

It's been remade a few times but the original and the best imho is the 1956 version:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048977/

And don't worry, you'll get it. NESB? You're doing very well, and I notice you had a script Optioned so you're on the right track.

P.S. No need to ditch parentheticals entirely. They still can be necessary in the types of examples given.


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 27th, 2019, 4:02am Report to Moderator
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Hi Marcela

No problem. A quick note on my comment - I am an amateur like yourself, so don't take my comments at face value. Hopefully, you get other comments, that way you can see if trends appear in the reviews.

Also, at no point during my read did I think "This person has English as a second language" - So I think you are already there on that front.

Best of luck to you

Matt


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_ghostwriter
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Marcela,

I think you've got something good here to work with. I can tell you've got a passion for this story, but that can be a curse. Step back and see what you can do better, and rework it.

Jayne trying to compose herself, this line is fine.   It goes to the character's inner state. That's what's so great about the camera, it captures actor's actions, their facial expressions,  movements.   Jayne is half-way through a bottle of wine.  It's fine, too.  

That stuff aside, just like thrillers, drama’s benefit from suspense, too.  For example: Seeing the woman arrive home, move around her house doing ordinary stuff while the audience gets the vibe that she's being watched, and then her being surprised, beaten, stripped and tied up by her mystery visitor, could get you something more lasting than the momentary shock value of finding her already naked and bound on the floor. The audience has a greater chance of identifying with the victim, feeling her shock at having someone violate the security of her home to attack her there.

LC, brought a flashlight onto a dark street and helped you to pave a smoother road. -Andrea


THE HUNT FOR D.B. COOPER

GHOSTS OF APPALOOSA

RISE OF THE AMAZONS

HEATWAVE


THE SLEEPING TIGER

STINGRAY: SPECIAL EDITION

"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."
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