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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    The 2019 Writers' Tournament  ›  Deciphering Fenn - WT4 Moderators: Mr. Blonde
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  Author    Deciphering Fenn - WT4  (currently 1076 views)
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 10:48pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Deciphering Fenn by Penned by Forrest - Forrest Fenn created a riddle hidden within a poem that details his buried treasure.  Harry wants to crack the code but encounters trouble along the way. - Short, Action

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Matthew Taylor
Posted: June 25th, 2019, 5:00am Report to Moderator
January Project Group

Shakespeare's county
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Hello writer

Reading through all of the log lines - this is the one that interested me the most, so I'm starting with this entry.

The writing is a bit iffy - odd phrases, over writing - "Hard shoe souls tap on the church tiles, grabs Harry�s attention." - for example, it's oddly written, why specify it's the sole of the shoe? Just tell they are footsteps (I'm also assuming you meant sole and not that the shoe has developed a soul)

"A few moments later Harry stands up and exits." - never really been a fan of the 'a few moments later' lines - if you have to, use a beat - looks neater in my opinion.

OK I'm gonna stop talking about your writing now - as again, i'm sure I've said these things to you in previous rounds. On with the story--

I'm not entirely sure what this story is about to be honest - Rafa is bumped off way too easily and too early, and because of that you had to introduce another generic henchman later on.

Too many characters, you are trying to do too much in a 5 page limit - simpler is better. Frank at the beginning gets too much screen time when we know nothing about him, he doesn't show up again and his only job is to deliver a trading card.

Why does he need to sneak into Forest Fenn's house to get the poem? the poem is out there for the world to see, it's not private.

Your log line promised a riddle within a poem - it intrigued me - your story did not deliver. The coordinates were just written next to the poem, that's not a riddle... it's like the opposite of a riddle lol

So this treasure - people have died trying to find it, buy Harry pulls up at a cabin and a short walk later he has the treasure, it's not great watching.

Alright, this is disappointing me to be honest. It's not very focused, the action is minimal, the writing is distracting, the conflict feels forced and there's not much of a story for me to hold onto.

Good effort but swing and miss from me, sorry



Two steps to writing a good screenplay:
1) Write a bad one
2) Fix it
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Gary in Houston
Posted: June 25th, 2019, 12:10pm Report to Moderator
January Project Group

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What the what?  That was a confusing story.  You have a story supposedly about a riddle in a poem, but to the best of my knowledge, neither the riddle nor the coordinates next to the poem were utilized.

All I got from this is that Harry and Juan are after something, but we have no clue what it is. The story never really gets into that.  This needed a lot more focusing on the original premise, which was a pretty sound, but it failed to deliver on the promise of the premise.

I would argue that the trading card and the church played almost no role in the story. You may get people dinging you for that.

Best of luck,

An utterly mediocre writer who somehow still falls bass ackwards into getting some of his scripts produced.
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Posted: June 25th, 2019, 8:58pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

No sh*t, there I was....

Tucson, AZ
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A long two sentence logline...let's see where this goes.

"Hard shoe souls tap on the church tiles, grabs Harry’s attention." Soles? But it is in a church so it could mean souls. This line was distracting.

What's a mini briefcase? A satchel? Is it significant that the Babe Ruth card is red?

How am I supposed to know that he's in Forrest Fenn's house? We don't even know who this guy is? No introductions.

"Forrest Fenn’s loud snoring from the next room masks any rumbles of noise Harry’s footsteps make." Another distracting line.

That was a challenging read. Everyone and everywhere had names but, if filmed, you wouldn't know anyone or who's house/mansion they were in.

I didn't care about any character, dialog was clunky and the writing was too vague and confusing for me. The challenge criteria was met but the church was not a central location at all. It could have taken place on a park bench.

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Posted: June 26th, 2019, 5:10pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

A man who has taught his mind to misbehave

Sydney, Australia
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Hi writer,

Some really awkward writing.

Quoted Text
He begins his quest for the chest.

What quest? Impossible to transfer to screen.

To be honest I'm not sure what any of that was for. The story didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. The criteria seems barely met. The card was pointless, the church wasn’t important to the story, even the action was light on - one slow mo action sequence.

Not a fan of this one unfortunately.

All the best.

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Posted: June 27th, 2019, 2:16am Report to Moderator
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The writing is poor in this... not to pro standard. Poor grammar and poor sentence structure. Others have pretty much said the same thing.

Seems this round was a real struggle for most. At least you're not alone.
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Posted: June 27th, 2019, 10:05am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Vancouver, BC
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The writing isn't great, but it has its moments. It is cinematic, so you have that going for you.

The slow-mo flipped this on its head. Suddenly Harry was a secret agent or paramilitary or something. And he has an arch-nemesis, and he gets the drop on that guy's henchman...okay, the action is pretty decent.

I really liked using the fingerprint to 3D print a finger, that's brilliant!

What makes this fall flat for me is the MacGuffin. I assume he broke into the safe to get the GPS coordinates, which for some reason Fenn wrote down, so he's bypassing the clues and going straight to the source. Not as dramatic as solving it himself, but it's 5 pages, so I'll bite. But the treasure is just gold. Why does Juan want it? Why doesn't Rafa just kill Harry? If Harry is this secret agent or something, why does he want the gold? There has to be more to this than just money, right?

Interesting idea, and it sent me down the rabbit hole of the real treasure hunt, so thanks for that.

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Posted: June 27th, 2019, 6:44pm Report to Moderator

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Decent story with a good ending. Though the writer did the bare minimum to meet 2 of the 3 criteria, at least he gave us a church where even shoes have souls. On page 2: “He begins his quest for the chest.” We don’t see him searching for the chest, just walking into the cabin carrying it. And we never see what’s inside the chest that makes it worth killing for. And why didn’t Fern just keep the chest in his home to start with? Is there something dangerous in it?

And why did Fenn include the GPS coordinates on a sheet of paper with a poem? Were the numbers encoded in the poem? If so, we should have seen Harry deciphering it, not just punching numbers into a GPS device. And again what was so special about the envelope the Henchman tried to leave in Harry’s safe? There was a lot of movement in this script, but not enough action.
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ghost and_ghostie gal
Posted: June 27th, 2019, 9:01pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

A helluva long way from LA
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Ok, my reviews are Helter Skelter.  Sometimes I go into great detail, and sometimes not.  With that in mind, I won't delve too deep.  Really imaginative with the 3D finegrprint! So kudos.  That said, reading this was like eating unsweetened pancakes without maple syrup. Plain and unexciting.  R4 called for action.  Give it to us... and throw on maple syrup.  

I also question your use of continuous.  Not sure the trading card and church played much, if any role in this one... all I can do is echo some of what's already been said above.  Maybe R4 was a bit of a challenge for you, but it's clear you can write.

I can make a mean pasta sauce but - hey - sometimes I'm off my game.  If it's not good, it's not good. That's cool. I can always make another pot of sauce. And I certainly don't want people to smile and say it's wonderful, delicious, then rush home for the Maalox.  Best of luck!    

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Posted: June 27th, 2019, 10:10pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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Deciphering Fenn

Well, few church and few trading card here. More than that, to me this one reads like a full thriller since one bloody kill doesn't make a genre.

Despite all that, it had a nice atmosphere for my taste. Not easy to build a 'chase for the gold' scenario including different parties in only 5 pages. Anyway, the script felt quite rushed. Still solid work for my taste. I somehow liked the calm moments of the different parties just driving around and stopping by at places. It had the feeling of watching a gritty thriller that takes its time to breathe.

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Pale Yellow
Posted: June 28th, 2019, 10:10am Report to Moderator
January Project Group

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Like the title and logline but I'm not sure it goes with the story here.

I LOVE your use of the trading card being for the fingerprint. Fresh and original take.

Ok I'm getting a bit lost in the story here.

Think this one needs a little bit more work but good on finishing one in such a short time.
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Posted: June 28th, 2019, 2:18pm Report to Moderator
January Project Group

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The writing needs another re-write/edit, lets put it down to the 72 hour window...

But then the story just goes all over the place... sure there's no lack of action, but it doesn't make too much sense (to me anyway)...

And both the church AND the trading card are shoe horned in on the first page and then abandoned.

Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
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Posted: July 1st, 2019, 11:55am Report to Moderator
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I want what you promised with the title and the logline.


Love the title. Like the story that you set up with the logline. Tell that one.

As it sits, there's absolutely no deciphering going on. And, you show us the poem, but completely ignored its role in the story.

I don't say this often, and I hope you take it in the spirit it's intended. But, I'd suggest starting over with this idea. Go back to your logline and write from there. Keep a few of the elements that readers have liked (fingerprint, etc.) and build your story around the poem/treasure hunt.

Then, send it to me. Because I really want to read that story.

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Posted: July 4th, 2019, 2:18pm Report to Moderator
January Project Group

Between Chair and Keyboard
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Inventive use of the trading card, but the church here is just the one-and-done location for a hand-off. Kinda iffy on the criteria there.
Composing a poem on a tight deadline. Brave move. Doesn't seem to have any impact on the story, though.
To me at least, the action reads nice and quick. Then again, I get gored on my action writing every round, so take that praise with a grain of salt Only things I'd point out are
1. Moon should be capitalized. Spellcheck won't catch it because lowercase is correct when dealing with the natural satellites of other planets.
2. The text on signs should be part of an action block in quotes, though setting it off on its own line is probably clear enough. Just watch out if submitting something like this to a contest, the early-round readers might be looking for excuses to mark you down.
This reads like the beginning of a story rather than something that reached a resolution. I know you only have five pages, but there's nothing in what happened so far that would prevent Juan from making multiple additional attempts.
Screenplays should end with "FADE OUT" rather than "THE END". And besides, this doesn't even look like "the end" of the story.
A valiant attempt.

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Glass House (Horror anthology)

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"Kord" (Fantasy)
"Mal Suerte" (Superhero)

Additional scripts are listed here.
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