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Kármán Line by Ward Rhoj - Short, Horror, Space - On their way to service a broken satellite in geosynchronous orbit, four astronauts experience something they can’t explain and will never forget. 12 pages - pdf format
This had a lot of promise. Although a bit overwritten, it is written well. There was quite a bit of build up with the pre-launch, launch, yada yada. The real happenings didn't occur until page six or so. I did like their encounter in the alien dungeon and operating room, I just wanted more of it.
Somewhat anticlimactic. I kinda wish we had some chest-bursting action! Well done, overall.
Predictable. Pretty straight-forward alien abduction. Not knocking it. I liked the visuals. The writing is swift most of the time. To be honest, I would probably get to them in space much quicker. Gotta agree, after all the build up, the ending was a letdown.- Andrea
"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."
Oh damn this was good but, like a few other entries , just fizzled to a tame ending! I liked the takeoff - again you need a SUPER saying where it is - ok we know its NASA but still need to have the location like CAPE CANAVERAL or whatever.
The buildup was good and even when the aliens were doing stuff to them it was still good. It was odd how so much effort was put into the writing showing what the aliens were doing to them surgically but in the end it led to zero!
I thought the metal thing that was put in them was gonna make them change into aliens when they got back to Earth and they would lead a takeover. Anyway you might've been in a hurry to get it in and panicked which happens in these challenges despite the best intentions lol.
VOICE (O.S.) Magellan crew this is Houston. Sound off on go/no go for launch. HEATHER Roger Houston. This is Magellan Shuttle Commander Heather Hayes. I am go for launch. MEGAN Houston. This is Pilot Megan Dawes. I am go for launch. KEVIN I think we’re all ready to ride up here Houston. VOICE (O.S.) Let’s keep this by the book people. KEVIN Uh. Roger that Houston. This is Mission Specialist Kevin Ames. I am go for launch. DAVID Houston. This is Flight Engineer David Flanagan. I am go for launch.
That’s a lot of time spent on them being go for launch in a short, I feel that having one person say it would be sufficient.
I think you could do a better job in breaking up your action. I'd recommend trying to keep each block to a single shot.
It's all very passively written.
For me the dialogue doesn’t fit for how I would expect astronauts to speak.
Oh no, so anticlimactic! You just started a story that we are likely never to get a conclusion to. And without the ramifications of what happened it’s just too unsatisfying.
I think there was a fair bit of stuff that could have been cut from the initial dialogue and the launch sequence to give you more pages to explore the story in more depth.
I've finally joined the party - I'm starting with this as it has the least comments.
"Houston we have a problem" - I'm assuming astronauts actually do say this when there is a problem, just seemd a little cliche.
"Without Warning" "Suddenly" - these kinds of phrases I would leave out, this is for the screen not a novel, jsut tells us what happens.
A shuttle, good choice of vehicle - and it encounters a problem - which means the vehicle is aprapro to the story - kudos.
I was enjoying it until the abduction - After that, reading became difficult. There was no real pacing in the scene - big blocks of description slowed me down. I didn't feel terror or suspense as the whole thing read a big, matter-of-fact.
Well that didn't really end did it - it just stopped - what were these experiments for? why did the aliens choose them? why not kill them like the other skeletons they saw? this seems more like the opening to a bigger story, but not a contained short.
Some awkward fisting action on the first page!! Lol.
The writing is a bit all over the place and so is the story, I suspect another new’ish writer which is fine. Read lots of scripts, keep on writing and you’ll keep improving.
For shorts, the aim is to start as late possible as you don’t have the luxury of time. In your script, you spend 6 pages of build up when you could start on page 6 and lose nothing. It then goes all South Park with alien abductions and experiments. I know it is supposed to be serious but it comes so out of left field, plus the way it is handled, it seems comical. Then the ending just trails off because there is no ending.
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I'll echo the others and say get to space faster. Way too much description for a fist bump, too much dialogue in general.
Was the glitch in the beginning a fake-out or was it related? It seems like a fake-out, and a waste of time. Another way to get to space faster is to cut it entirely.
The abduction was great, for the most part. The horror really came into play, well done. Only, I don't understand the rules of the aliens. The skeletons suggested they could be there indefinitely, that that was the fate of other abductees. Another fake out, but that was effective in the moment at least. The incisions were bizarre since the only thing that seemed important was the metal devices, which for some reason was the surgical target for only one of them. I feel like the parameters of the challenge got in the way here, that you felt you couldn't show the actual procedures in an attempt to reduce the gore factor, but it would have been better than weak exposition later.
And oh, the exposition. Everything after the abduction is just talking about it, so to end it with more talking about it was a huge letdown. That was the time for the alien plan to be revealed, or for them to come to some conclusion. Anything but the open ending you gave us.
This is one great scene bookended by poor set up and payoff. It has potential though.
The quality of work is really much, much better than it used to be when I last read OWC's. A lot of work went into this script and there's a lot of good writing. You take an OWC from say 2010 to 2015 and this would be in the top fiver percent. I have not read enough yet this week to rank it now.
That said, the story is not really gripping at this stage of the writing. Man, it's so hard to do, too. I've read only one OWC so far this time that really does hold the attention. But while part of that success is due to the excellent writing, to be fair, some stories are just easier to create tension on the page with, even if they're not really great stories.
Here the writer is attempting something more ambitious. It's a huge challenge. The writer is talented. But to make this story feel more gripping will take some more drafts.
One thing we run into a lot in OWCs, even with some of the historically better writers here, is some images that might be a little eye rolling. Like I said, some very good writers have fallen victim of it, so there's no shame in it. But once we get tentacled aliens it's going to feel a little Mystery Science Theater 3000. As soon as I saw them I pictured someone cracking, "here comes the probing". Please don't take that harshly. I think the writer is above average in skill. This is 1000 times better than the original script for Alien.
So, I googled the title and learned something, so thanks for that.
Hopefully, you're going to learn some things too.
Starting out with a 5 line passage introing 4 characters inside a space shuttle, is not the way to kick things off. You just don't want to go over 4 lines, first of all. Secondly, you want to try and intro your peeps in a more engaging manner. Thirdly, not giving us an EXT view of the shuttle, makes it difficult for us to visualize it at all. If this were filmed, no one will see the Slug, telling them where we are exactly.
"Roger Houston" - see what's wrong here? Looks like a name, right? That's because you're missing a comma between the 2 words.
Why is everyone telling "Houston" their rank and title? Like Houston doesn't know who's on the flight?
Page 1 is basically all a complete waste. On Page 2, you give us the EXT view, but you should either start here, or just ignore the entire liftoff. Once is space, you can intro your group and say they have names on their suits, so you skip that cheesy intro you have.
"...BOOSTERS from the first stage are BLASTED away from the main rocket and begin falling back to Earth but.......the main fails to FIRE and shuttle’s upward momentum stalls; for an instant, the shuttle and its rocket booster are suspended in mid-air, until they begin falling back to Earth" - This is all very awkwardly worded. You never need to use a semicolon in screenwriting. Do you really think this shuttle and rocket booster will stop moving and actually be seen as falling back to Earth? Not!
I can tell you've put some effort into this, but I'm sorry to say, the writing just isn't very good. You're missing punctuation, apostrophes, and it's awkwardly phrased and unrealistic.
Page 4 - You have 2 characters saying the exact same thing back to back - this is not engaging. This is boring. and repetitive.
I'm only on Page 6, but I feel like I've been through 15 or so pages. It's dense. Dialogue so repetitive. Just not good, sorry to say.
The abduction stuff is so crazily overwritten...well...it's crazy! a 6 line passage, a 5 line passage, several 4 line passages...all back to back, load/bloated with exact details. Talk about a chore to read! Damn...
You have the exact same Slug 3 times in a row. WTF is up with that?
I really tried, but I can't continue. So many punctuation issues and overwriting. I'm out.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Starting out I think it could use a little banter rather than all the by the book space talk. Most space movies I can think of they try to undercut the seriousness a bit so it doesn't get stale. Think of Clooney in Gravity going on about his worst date. Or McConaughey and that robot in Interstellar.
A not so great example...
HEATHER Geo-synchronous orbit is at the edge of the Van Allen Belts. That’s the farthest anyone's attempted a satellite repair. Considering the collective brainpower here, I'd say we're all doomed.
The astronauts grin and grab for the belt restraints holding them hostage in their seats.
But that's nitpick stuff, I realize you only had a week, this was good stuff. I liked that you went for something a little out there with these strange memories implanted. The actual abduction maybe went a little over the top. Perhaps the "occurrence" could be strange and frightening in a way that's not so much violence and torture.
The jargon speak between Magellan and Houston was good. I question the reason for the engines shutting off, then coming back on. No way would Houston just write it off as a "glitch." What purpose did this brief engine failure serve?
The next "day" stuff happens and they awaken in a dimly lit room, held up in the air by tentacles. Next their bodies are sliced open and bad things are done to them. When they wake up, they're back in Magellan as if nothing had happened, except that they still bear the scars of their surgery.
But they refuse to report the incident because they don't to spend the rest of their lives as lab rats. Since these people undergo more medical exams than just about anyone else in the world, how could their secret not come out?
When they're discussing the incident at the log cabin, Megan says that there's no evidence that any of it happened. What about the scars?
Though it's well written, the script needs to be tightened up quite a bit.