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  Author    Where Lovers Lie  (currently 308 views)
Don
Posted: October 22nd, 2019, 11:45am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Where Lovers Lie by Matthew Taylor - Short, Drama -  After a convicted murderer refuses to disclose the location of the body, a depressed man goes to extreme lengths to find his wife's grave, and hopefully, closure. 11 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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StevenClark
Posted: October 23rd, 2019, 9:01am Report to Moderator
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Matthew,

I can appreciate what you're going for here, but something is missing. It seems you take short cuts just to get your story where it needs to be. How does Henry administer the drug to Ashley? Did he have someone on the inside? Next, how is it that Henry's ambulance gets the call to go to the prison? I would think they'd have doctors on site at a prison facility. Anyway, to me those are logic holes and they take me out of the story.

Totally wasn't expecting the ending. I could see why you went that direction. It's a twist, I'll give you that.

Henry's description in the beginning -- almost sounds like he was the killer with his waxen appearance and cold eyes.

Overall, I didn't feel connected to these characters at all. I think some misdirection with Henry might be good. He's a bad person, so we need to feel kind of good about him in the beginning, not necessarily see him as a cold person who drinks when he doesn't get his way. Basically, I wanted to feel a connection to him before you pulled the rug out and exposed him for what he is.

Steve


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LC
Posted: October 23rd, 2019, 7:59pm Report to Moderator
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Matthew, as I read.
Tech stuff first:

Henry sit's motionless – typo
Hands trembling is fine.
Shouldn’t that first V.O. be Ashley’s voice?
a show home
a display home? (prob a colloquial/cultural use thing)
Hand addressed – perfect penmanship perhaps? – would add a nice touch for a killer? Except she isn't.
dashes it? A mild verb imho.
In trembling hands, he brings the glass to his mouth.
With trembling hands he...
Otherwise: hands trembling, he brings
Personal preference I suppose, but you seemed a bit concerned about using an 'ing' word here.

I know by now you've got this stuff down but it doesn't hurt to add prev discussions for clarity. Ignore what you want.

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1167319038/
I think this guy, JD-OK analysed it best.
So all in all. FIRST VERB needs to be ACTIVE. ADVERB can have ING example.
"Jack strolls down the street whistling ‘Zippity Doo Dah.’  strolls is the verb, whistling is adverb


sit's nervously typo p.2

JACKY'S a man I presume? Nope a woman it seems. Jacky with a 'y' reads as a man but,
Jacky glances at Henry like she is about to talk (speak)?

Now I'm confused: man or woman?

The graves for me. Typo should be: grave's
like beating women, don't you? Cap Like
Feint sound typo faint sound
...


FYI, about ellipses. Previously covered, in the thread below. I just thought I'd add it here if you're so inclined. I quoted my input.

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1395018709/s-0/

I'd personally use an emdash between mini slugs, not an ellipses.

En dashes ( – ) and em dashes ( — ), have slightly different uses. And, they shouldn't be confused with hyphens which are used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word

The em dash ( — ) or double en dash is used primarily when a thought is interrupted by another character butting in, or by a sound i.e., bang on the door etc. Technically an em dash is a wider line and more like the length of two dashes but most screenwriting software doesn't enable it, hence why you see so many scripts with two en dashes put together.

If you're a pedant, em dashes can actually be formatted in Final Draft but you need to enable it in every separate screenplay.

An ellipses is altogether different in purpose. It is used when a character's speech trails off. A lot of writers over use the ellipses, and a lot of writers use them incorrectly i.e., when they should be using an em dash.

Your screenplay will look cleaner if you get em' right, but the key is in being consistent with either/or.

When it comes down to it, nobody's going to give a hoot where you put your dots and dashes if your story jumps off the page but it's a good idea to know what's what.

...
Back to story. I read Steve's comments and am inclined to agree.
The ambulance scene threw me a bit.
Why not make him a cop instead?
There's a shocking (to me at least) percentage of men on the force accused of domestic violence - I know that sounds like a generalisation but it does exist. Being in law enforcement has to be the perfect cover for getting away with criminal activity.

I also thought the way it was written at the top that Henry was the accused. You've deliberately written it like that as misdirect I guess. We don't even see Ashley in that first court scene. I like that. It makes us curious. Then of course she turns out to be a 'she' which also comes as a shock.

It's a little convoluted a plot for a Short imh.

This:
JACKY
Have you erm-- Did you get up to...
Henry huffs. Jacky resumes her uncomfortable shuffling.
Henry checks his watch.
HENRY (V.O.)
I've been told you can do this.
DEEP VOICE (V.O.)
'course I fuckin' can. Who's the target?
Now and then Jacky glances at Henry like she is about to talk
but can't find the words.
HENRY (V.O.)
I've written the name down. Listen
carefully. This pill needs mixing
with one glass of water before
administration.
Henry checks his watch again.
DEEP VOICE (V.O.)
Is it fatal? Murder will cost you a
lot more.
HENRY (V.O.)
Take everything. Car, house. I don't
need them. Oh, and I need a gun.

Caused my eyes to glaze over a bit.
I'm just not convinced you need it quite as elaborate as all this unless it was feature length. Whatever happened to good ol' chloroform?

Mister Cooke? She addresses him like this, so formally? I'd rethink that choice, she's in her 30s and it sounded clunky to my ear.

Dialogue is good.
Forgetting the shovel is funny. Exactly what someone might do under the circumstances while trying to get everything else teed up.

But this is a bit disjointed.
HENRY
Really? Funny, your defence lawyer
never mentioned that part.
ASHLEY
Yea, that's what you would do, isn't it,
drag her name through mud, her family
through hell. I'm the scapegoat. You
know why she used to come here?

Ashley's response seems at odds emotionally with his question. Almost unrelated in response. It does beggar belief too that Ashley took the fall to that extent? Forensics would surely uncover she killed herself?

I didn't kill your wife,
Ashley would call her by name in this instance, or just say: I didn't kill her or: she took her own life.

It's a big story, too big I think (something I'm often guilty of)  for a Short with lots of twists and turns.
I think streamlining it might actually strengthen it.

I want to like Ashley more. Why after all that would Ashley kill herself? She should want him dead.
That ending though poetic (I love the title btw) is disappointing.

There's a nice style to this but to make it work I think it's crying out to be written as noir to make all that convoluted stuff work. It would also add humour.

The Narrow Margin
Sister, I’ve known some pretty hard cases in my time; you make ‘em all look like putty.”
https://thebestschools.org/magazine/film-noir-language/
https://www.bestmoviesbyfarr.com/articles/film-noir-quotes/2015/02


Anyway, just my observations. I hope some of this is helpful.





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Matthew Taylor
Posted: October 24th, 2019, 3:32am Report to Moderator
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Holy Cow! look at all those notes lol

Thank you both for taking the time (And to Kevin_S who has also sent me notes).

They deserve more than just a "thank you" - So I'll go through them and comment, but please know, I am very grateful.

Matt


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: October 24th, 2019, 3:44am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from StevenClark
Matthew,

I can appreciate what you're going for here, but something is missing. (1) It seems you take short cuts just to get your story where it needs to be. How does Henry administer the drug to Ashley? Did he have someone on the inside? Next, (2) how is it that Henry's ambulance gets the call to go to the prison? I would think they'd have doctors on site at a prison facility. Anyway, to me those are logic holes and they take me out of the story.

Totally wasn't expecting the ending. I could see why you went that direction. It's a twist, I'll give you that.

Henry's description in the beginning -- almost sounds like he was the killer with his waxen appearance and cold eyes.

(3) Overall, I didn't feel connected to these characters at all. I think some misdirection with Henry might be good. He's a bad person, so we need to feel kind of good about him in the beginning, not necessarily see him as a cold person who drinks when he doesn't get his way. Basically, I wanted to feel a connection to him before you pulled the rug out and exposed him for what he is.

Steve


Good morning Steve

Thank you for the read and notes - Much appriciated. I'm gonna use numbers to link to your points above (helps me keep track lol)

(1) - Busted! I did indeed take massive short cuts. I want this to be 10 pages or less (for a competition I have my eye on) - I need to rethink that part. The trouble I had was, how do I (Henry) get Ashley out of the prison in a believable manner - and in a way that is quick and budget-friendly - This part has been rewritten so many times that I can't see it with "fresh" eyes anymore. But it's good to know it doesn't quite work. Kevin has also given me an idea about that part so, potentially I can fix it in the page limit.

(2) In the UK, prisons have doctors but they don't have hospitals. So while most injuries can be treated onsite - serious issues are taken to hospital (such as an unresponsive inmate)

(3) Have a heart man, he's lost his wife lol. Joking aside, I was indeed going for sympathy at the beginning for Henry, which obviously switches around to him being a bad guy. I was hoping the fact he has lost his wife and an "evil" murderer refusing to give up her body would garner sympathy for him. But I still wanted to show his true character (violent) but tried to masquerade it as grief.... will take another stab at this part.

muchas gracias se�or

Matt


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Matthew Taylor
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Quoted from LC
Shouldn�t that first V.O. be Ashley�s voice?


Probably, but I didn't want to give away the fact that Ashley was female too early. I could have Henry read it out loud I suppose, but do people actually do that?



Quoted Text
a show home
a display home? (prob a colloquial/cultural use thing)
Hand addressed � perfect penmanship perhaps? � would add a nice touch for a killer? Except she isn't.
dashes it? A mild verb imho.
In trembling hands, he brings the glass to his mouth.
With trembling hands he...
Otherwise: hands trembling, he brings
Personal preference I suppose, but you seemed a bit concerned about using an 'ing' word here.


All good stuff thank you. but this--


Quoted Text
https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1167319038/
I think this guy, JD-OK analysed it best.
So all in all. FIRST VERB needs to be ACTIVE. ADVERB can have ING example.
"Jack strolls down the street whistling ‘Zippity Doo Dah.’  strolls is the verb, whistling is adverb


--is a game-changer for me. It's an "oooooh" moment. I never knew this, but it makes so much sense. I really hope I remember to incorporate it into my writing (and reviewing). Previously, I have told writers never to use "ING" words (because that's what I had heard), I was very wrong, but I like to think I am learning, slowly.

Thank you for sharing that thread, very helpful to me.

I am very shit at the written language - always have been, always will be. I don't get it and I don't think I ever will. I try to learn these things, and I do, but I just can't retain and use the information.
I understand that is not a good quality in a wannabee writer, but I am hoping I can fake it until I make it and will be relying heavily on the story to carry me forward rather than the quality of writing.



Quoted Text
JACKY'S a man I presume? Nope a woman it seems. Jacky with a 'y' reads as a man but,
Jacky glances at Henry like she is about to talk (speak)?

Now I'm confused: man or woman?


Yes, a woman. I was thrown because someone I know uses "Jacky" instead of "Jackie" but you are correct, I should use Jackie.



Quoted Text
FYI, about ellipses. Previously covered, in the thread below. I just thought I'd add it here if you're so inclined. I quoted my input.

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1395018709/s-0/

I'd personally use an emdash between mini slugs, not an ellipses.

En dashes ( � ) and em dashes ( � ), have slightly different uses. And, they shouldn't be confused with hyphens which are used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word

The em dash ( � ) or double en dash is used primarily when a thought is interrupted by another character butting in, or by a sound i.e., bang on the door etc. Technically an em dash is a wider line and more like the length of two dashes but most screenwriting software doesn't enable it, hence why you see so many scripts with two en dashes put together.

If you're a pedant, em dashes can actually be formatted in Final Draft but you need to enable it in every separate screenplay.

An ellipses is altogether different in purpose. It is used when a character's speech trails off. A lot of writers over use the ellipses, and a lot of writers use them incorrectly i.e., when they should be using an em dash.

Your screenplay will look cleaner if you get em' right, but the key is in being consistent with either/or.


Another one of those where I struggle to retain information - I learn how to use them, then forget. Maybe I should put up sticky notes around my writing station to remind me


Quoted Text
...
Back to story. I read Steve's comments and am inclined to agree.
The ambulance scene threw me a bit.
Why not make him a cop instead?
There's a shocking (to me at least) percentage of men on the force accused of domestic violence - I know that sounds like a generalisation but it does exist. Being in law enforcement has to be the perfect cover for getting away with criminal activity.


Yes, the scene that drags this thing down. Hadn't thought about making him a cop though (at first he was a doctor at the hosiptal, but getting a patient out become too long and complicated). Really need to put my thinking cap on for this. I wonder if I can switch perspective here?


Quoted Text
I also thought the way it was written at the top that Henry was the accused. You've deliberately written it like that as misdirect I guess.


That actually wasn't my intention - I wanted to show him in the viewing gallery surrounded by others watching the trial.


Quoted Text
We don't even see Ashley in that first court scene. I like that. It makes us curious. Then of course she turns out to be a 'she' which also comes as a shock
.

The rest was intentional though, I didn't want to show Ashley in the court knowing that the reader/viewer would assume they were male (and for production cost reasons, showing only the gallery rather than an entire courtroom)


Quoted Text
It's a little convoluted a plot for a Short imh.

This:
JACKY
Have you erm-- Did you get up to...
Henry huffs. Jacky resumes her uncomfortable shuffling.
Henry checks his watch.
HENRY (V.O.)
I've been told you can do this.
DEEP VOICE (V.O.)
'course I fuckin' can. Who's the target?
Now and then Jacky glances at Henry like she is about to talk
but can't find the words.
HENRY (V.O.)
I've written the name down. Listen
carefully. This pill needs mixing
with one glass of water before
administration.
Henry checks his watch again.
DEEP VOICE (V.O.)
Is it fatal? Murder will cost you a
lot more.
HENRY (V.O.)
Take everything. Car, house. I don't
need them. Oh, and I need a gun.

Caused my eyes to glaze over a bit.
I'm just not convinced you need it quite as elaborate as all this unless it was feature length. Whatever happened to good ol' chloroform?


Yeah, in my head I could see more of the story because I had rewritten it so much - but most of the story is missing in the final script. I'm leaning towards cutting out the ambulance scene and thinking up a new way to get Ashley out of the prison and into the hands of Henry.


Quoted Text
Mister Cooke? She addresses him like this, so formally? I'd rethink that choice, she's in her 30s and it sounded clunky to my ear.


I can see that. I wanted her to come across as nice and respectable, rather than the horrible murderer we (hopefully) think she is in the beginning



Quoted Text
But this is a bit disjointed.
HENRY
Really? Funny, your defence lawyer
never mentioned that part.
ASHLEY
Yea, that's what you would do, isn't it,
drag her name through mud, her family
through hell. I'm the scapegoat. You
know why she used to come here?

Ashley's response seems at odds emotionally with his question. Almost unrelated in response. It does beggar belief too that Ashley took the fall to that extent? Forensics would surely uncover she killed herself?


I started overthinking it. I could already hear the questions "Why would Ashley take the fall, and not let everyone know it was suicide"
And I read a lot about it. What would a family rather believe - that there loved one was killed, or that their loved one killed themselves.
When a loved one is murdered, there is someone to blame, there is some form of closure when that person is sent to prison and justice is served.
When a loved one commits suicide, the blame is less obvious and can often lead to family members blaming themselves (Could I have done more, why didn't I spot the signs etc)
I came to the conclusion that Ashley, being in love with Valerie, took the blame to save her family and friends the pain of the guilt.

Oh and the forensic. There is no body (until now) so nothing to forensically analyse  


Quoted Text
I didn't kill your wife,
Ashley would call her by name in this instance, or just say: I didn't kill her or: she took her own life.


Very good point


Quoted Text
It's a big story, too big I think (something I'm often guilty of)  for a Short with lots of twists and turns.
I think streamlining it might actually strengthen it.


Indeed. A real test for my writing skills for sure


Quoted Text
I want to like Ashley more. Why after all that would Ashley kill herself? She should want him dead.
That ending though poetic (I love the title btw) is disappointing.


Oh man, I thought the ending was the best bit lol. Ashley kills herself to be with Valerie again (She never thought she would see the grave again, being in prison and all) so being back here, she doesn't want to leave. Plus it's a final two fingers up to Henry because she gives herself what Henry wanted - to be laid to rest next to Valerie.
I'll see if I can come up with some alternatives.


Quoted Text
There's a nice style to this but to make it work I think it's crying out to be written as noir to make all that convoluted stuff work. It would also add humour.


No idea how to write noir, although I should study the style, I might enjoy it. Thanks for the links.



Quoted Text
Anyway, just my observations. I hope some of this is helpful.


All of this is helpful, not just some. Thank you so much for spending the time to read, review and teach. Much appreciated.

I know you never ask for anything in return - But if you need anything, just holla  


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Bayne
Posted: November 2nd, 2019, 3:52pm Report to Moderator
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I love the progression of the story. From the very beginning, one can sense that something dire is about to happen... but we're not sure what. That slow build and gradual reveal of information makes this a very engaging read. Good presentation also makes for an almost seamless read-through.

Two things that stand out:

1) On page three, in the ambulance cab, I appreciate the approach to having the phone conversation take place in voiceover. However,  since there is a fairly significant back-and-forth between Henry and Deep Voice, I find it awkward that we see Henry and Jacky sitting in silence for the full conversation. I think that cutting to Henry talking on the phone for part of the conversation would improve the pacing the bit.

2) I generally find myself more invested in characters that display likable qualities. My issue with Henry is that, regardless of the reveal at the end, he's presented as an unpleasant guy. As he carries out his plan, he's barking orders at people such as "get the fuck out, "get the fuck up", "fucking dig", etc.. I know that he's ultimately revealed to be villainous, but perhaps he could be presented as a man who is carrying out his plan out of necessity rather than as a desire for revenge. Almost as if he doesn't want to do it, but has no choice in the matter. That way, we as the audience will not only be curious about his intentions, but we'll also find him easy to root for. This in turn would make the reveal at the end more impactful, because the guy we were invested in turns out to be not-so-good. Something as simple as making him curse less might be enough the achieve this effect.

Happy writing!
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eldave1
Posted: November 3rd, 2019, 12:25pm Report to Moderator
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Hey, Matthew:

I think you need a SUPER somewhere for the obvious jump in time. i.e.,  She's convicted - then we have Henry in his house getting the letter from the mailbox - probably given the info later we're at least a year forward in time - I'd add something akin to that in a SUPER.

SPOILERS

The story had a clever arc - however, at least for me, there are some logic issues.  I didn't buy the premise that Helen committed suicide and Ashley chose not to mention that in her defense - the logic here is really a stretch.  I also don't get why after being so adamant about never giving the location of the grave - she does and THEN - kills herself. If she were going to kill herself, why give Henry what she has been withholding from him for so long - same with all of the details of Helen's live - just seemed odd for her to offer all of that up and then kill herself.

Anyway - best of luck with this - I think there is something here.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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AndyJ
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I liked it, I agree about the passage of time between conviction and Henry getting the letter. Speaking of the letter you say it was "Hand addressed" I presume you mean because the address was written in pen rather typed. You could just say "hand written envelope." or even mention that it had HMP (prison name) on it.

There is another bit that I presume you just forgot to add the Character name:

ASHLEY
You bullied, manipulated, abused--

HENRY
--shut up----

She chose the ground over a life time of looking over her shoulder--

HENRY
--I said shut up--

I get the "showhome" reference because I'm in the UK, why did it have to be like a show home? You could just say something like "Immaculate, nothing out of place"

I was also a bit confused and had to go back when the ambulance sped off I was wondering who was driving. Henry closed the doors, I thought he was still inside the ambulance. Maybe that was just me reading it that way but I didn't realise Henry got out and was driving.

I don't think her telling Henry where the body was is a problem, in prison she was safe, no need, Faced with a loaded gun it's a different matter. It would be good if she could kill herself but as the police get there it looks like Henry killed her. I haven't thought about how lol maybe a struggle and the gun goes off, Henry is standing there with the gun in his hand... just a thought.

Anyway just my little bit of feedback
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Matthew Taylor
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Thank you guys for the feedback - Much appreciated.

I do love getting multiple readers feedback, especially when common themes emerge (The ambulance scene and Henry not being likeable from the start) - These are the main sticking points and will be addressed in the rewrite.


Quoted from Bayne

1) On page three, in the ambulance cab, I appreciate the approach to having the phone conversation take place in voiceover. However,  since there is a fairly significant back-and-forth between Henry and Deep Voice, I find it awkward that we see Henry and Jacky sitting in silence for the full conversation. I think that cutting to Henry talking on the phone for part of the conversation would improve the pacing the bit.

2) I generally find myself more invested in characters that display likable qualities. My issue with Henry is that, regardless of the reveal at the end, he's presented as an unpleasant guy. As he carries out his plan, he's barking orders at people such as "get the fuck out, "get the fuck up", "fucking dig", etc.. I know that he's ultimately revealed to be villainous, but perhaps he could be presented as a man who is carrying out his plan out of necessity rather than as a desire for revenge. Almost as if he doesn't want to do it, but has no choice in the matter. That way, we as the audience will not only be curious about his intentions, but we'll also find him easy to root for. This in turn would make the reveal at the end more impactful, because the guy we were invested in turns out to be not-so-good. Something as simple as making him curse less might be enough the achieve this effect.


Two great points

I focused on the conversation in the ambulance scene but you are right, we would just be watching two people sitting in silence. I hoped the conversation would build some suspense into the theme - He's up to something and Jackie is in the way. But I don't think it works well.
I have completely removed this scene and I am sitting on it until a great idea pops into my head.

The swearing is a good shout as well - I make him too villainous too soon. I need to strike the balance between what his character is going through and likeability.


Quoted from eldave1

I think you need a SUPER somewhere for the obvious jump in time. i.e.,  She's convicted - then we have Henry in his house getting the letter from the mailbox - probably given the info later we're at least a year forward in time - I'd add something akin to that in a SUPER.


Fair point, that hadn't really crossed my mind. Rather than a super though, I'll probably just stick it in the letter, have Ashley comment on how long it has been.

Thanks for your input


Quoted from AndyJ
I liked it, I agree about the passage of time between conviction and Henry getting the letter. Speaking of the letter you say it was "Hand addressed" I presume you mean because the address was written in pen rather typed. You could just say "hand written envelope." or even mention that it had HMP (prison name) on it.


Good call. I really like the inclusion of the prison name on the letter.


Quoted Text
There is another bit that I presume you just forgot to add the Character name:

ASHLEY
You bullied, manipulated, abused--

HENRY
--shut up----

She chose the ground over a life time of looking over her shoulder--

HENRY
--I said shut up--


Yup, I noticed it straight after submitting. gave myself a big old facepalm for that one.



Quoted Text
It would be good if she could kill herself but as the police get there it looks like Henry killed her. I haven't thought about how lol maybe a struggle and the gun goes off, Henry is standing there with the gun in his hand... just a thought.


Funny you should say that. That is how it originally ended, but the way I had it written, it came across as a bit "off". Since I am rewriting a lot of this now anyway, will give it another crack.

Thank you all for your input. Much appreciated.

As always, if you want anything from me, just ask


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