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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Series  ›  Kindhearts - episode 3 of Horrific Tales... Moderators: bert
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  Author    Kindhearts - episode 3 of Horrific Tales...  (currently 350 views)
Don
Posted: October 4th, 2020, 12:02pm Report to Moderator
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Kindhearts by Sean Chipman (Wraparound Story Written by Sean Chipman) - Short, Horror - A troubled couple visits a sit-down chain restaurant on their daughter's 15th birthday, only to find that the restaurant harbors a dark secret. 42 pages

Epsoide Three of Horrific Tales of the Wickedly Macabre


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Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  October 4th, 2020, 1:06pm
fixed page count. Thanks Fais
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Fais85
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A small correction.

There are 42 pages, not 28.

I am digging it already. Especially the driver-passenger story. Will give my thoughts once I finish.
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Zack
Posted: October 4th, 2020, 1:08pm Report to Moderator
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Wow, this one went up quick! Thanks Don.

I've got to give a review for episode 2, then I'll be right back to review this one.

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Zack  -  October 5th, 2020, 6:33am
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Fais85
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Sean,

This was good. Enjoyed it.

The first hook point is on page 20. Before that, all we see is Nicholas's awkwardness and family arguments. While it's necessary to set-up the tone and characters, I believe that at least two pages can easily be trimmed out of it.

Greg suddenly turns into a hardcore religious man after the first hook point (Pg. 20). Before that, all he did was being cynical. We never saw him as a hardcore religious man. It will be good if we see these qualities earlier too. Just to avoid a sudden shift in his character.

While Nicholas and Greg are fighting, there must be other customers freaking out or enjoying the scene. I guess a single line mention would help the reader.

Other than that, the script is really interesting and flows well.

I am really liking the wrap-around story of driver and passenger.

Overall, it was an entertaining read.
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: October 4th, 2020, 1:51pm Report to Moderator
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Don,

Thank you very much for getting this up so quickly.


Quoted from Fais85
Sean,

This was good. Enjoyed it.

The first hook point is on page 20. Before that, all we see is Nicholas's awkwardness and family arguments. While it's necessary to set-up the tone and characters, I believe that at least two pages can easily be trimmed out of it.

Greg suddenly turns into a hardcore religious man after the first hook point (Pg. 20). Before that, all he did was being cynical. We never saw him as a hardcore religious man. It will be good if we see these qualities earlier too. Just to avoid a sudden shift in his character.

While Nicholas and Greg are fighting, there must be other customers freaking out or enjoying the scene. I guess a single line mention would help the reader.

Other than that, the script is really interesting and flows well.

I am really liking the wrap-around story of driver and passenger.

Overall, it was an entertaining read.


Faisal,

Thank you for reading. I certainly agree that the script moves at a snail's pace (to put it mildly). Horror has always been something I've struggled with, but I did my best with it. Certainly, pages could be trimmed off the first 20 and, I'm certain that when I do my rewrite, that'll be one of the first issues I tackle.

As for Greg, you're spot-on. Not a single reference before 20. That was intentional, but also probably a miscalculation on my part. I'm sure that won't be the last time I hear that it came completely out of left field and I will be certain to adjust it. Typically, I'm against writing such a  character, but I was having a good time writing him. That probably resulted in him being way overwritten, so I think I'll scale that back, as well.

Yes, you're right about other families and things like that. Writing on a time limit, I went light on prose and missed out on some stuff. That was an oversight.

Thank you for the review.


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LC
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Whew! What a mind bending tale this is.

The page length put me off at first glance but it fairly hums along, kept my interest and it didn't feel too long to me at all. Credit to you for that.

Now, what the hell is going on here?
If you don't give to the 'charity' we'll torture your kid/wife?
Seems elaborate for a small donation.

...mass-marketed love child of TGI
Fridayís and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
That's some description.

At first it seemed to me that the family were the only ones in the restaurant, or at least just them and Travis and his family?

This implies there are others though:

...while Julia looks out
into the restaurant, searching for someone.

Maybe a mention of how full or not this restaurant is?

I agree with Faisal about the religious zealot angle. Definitely need a hint of that earlier.

Formatting issues? Clearly you can tell me to go jump (and I'm a bit scared of you after reading this, so...) But the upper case wrylies, the semi-colons use, and the THEN in sluglines, and 'just then' in description - chalk them up to my bug-bears if you wish.

I don't completely understand the motivation for this elaborate 'pay it forward' torture chamber but it sure as hell was creepy and it would translate to a horror anthology very well. I'd probably be in the camp of scratching my head a bit at the conclusion of events but having enjoyed it thoroughly too.

Great job.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: October 13th, 2020, 2:46pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC
Whew! What a mind bending tale this is.

The page length put me off at first glance but it fairly hums along, kept my interest and it didn't feel too long to me at all. Credit to you for that.

Now, what the hell is going on here?
If you don't give to the 'charity' we'll torture your kid/wife?
Seems elaborate for a small donation.

...mass-marketed love child of TGI
Fridayís and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
That's some description.

At first it seemed to me that the family were the only ones in the restaurant, or at least just them and Travis and his family?

This implies there are others though:

...while Julia looks out
into the restaurant, searching for someone.

Maybe a mention of how full or not this restaurant is?

I agree with Faisal about the religious zealot angle. Definitely need a hint of that earlier.

Formatting issues? Clearly you can tell me to go jump (and I'm a bit scared of you after reading this, so...) But the upper case wrylies, the semi-colons use, and the THEN in sluglines, and 'just then' in description - chalk them up to my bug-bears if you wish.

I don't completely understand the motivation for this elaborate 'pay it forward' torture chamber but it sure as hell was creepy and it would translate to a horror anthology very well. I'd probably be in the camp of scratching my head a bit at the conclusion of events but having enjoyed it thoroughly too.

Great job.


Libby,

Thank you for checking this one out, as well. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I was waiting for a day off from work but, lo and behold, I got called in every day for the past three weeks because, of course I did. Lol. I digress.

That's where things get tricky with the page count. 35 pages of nothing but prose versus 35 pages of nothing but dialogue will have vastly different runtimes. I had hoped to kind of even mine out a bit (instead of it being 70-30 dialogue), but just ran out of time to edit. What can you do?

Oh, the plot. Yes. That's basically the deal. It's like the world's most violent social experiment. I remember when I came up with the idea, that two things both happened right around the same time to spark some creativity. I had read this joint study conducted by Harvard and Duke, which found that, if you held a donation for a charity at a customer-direct business (retail store, restaurant, etc), 97% of customers wouldn't donate to a charity if you didn't tell them what it was for. If you did tell them what it was for, the number would only drop to 96%. So, I kind of thought, "Well, what if someone's life depended on you selling this charity to someone but, even trickier, what if you couldn't tell them why? Anyway, that was the basis.

Gotta admit, I had so much fun thinking of that one description. I almost never do those unfilmable-types, so, for that one line, I wanted to get across the exact kind of environment we would be spending the rest of the story in.

Right, that's a big part of the prose which was left out. The reactions of the other people in the restaurant. Not much else I can say about that, beyond it being an oversight.

You don't have to be afraid of li'l, ol' me... There was very little horror in this script. Certainly less than Sean's and Michael's. But, those critiques... Upper-case wrylies look nicer, semi-colons are proper grammar... Now, THEN and Just Then. Yeah, those go back to my being self-taught. THEN reads better to me than CONTINUOUS, although not as commonly used, I suppose. And, Just Then, doesn't it get boring to read my prose and have every line start with a character name? What can I say? I'm bare-bones when it comes to prose and that typically becomes a detriment to the readability.

As for the motivation... =)


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Grandma Bear
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I thought this one was quite a bit longer than necessary. Lots of dialogue that doesnít really go anywhere. Also a  lot of directing to actors with the dialogue. I believe you can get rid of most of those. Most actors know what to do without being told specifically by the writer. No big deal, but I was not a fan of the time reference THEN in the slugs.

As far as the characters went, I immediately thought that it was a very dysfunctional family. I did not however see Greg as a religious zealot until later. Perhaps hint at that earlier on, but be careful not to overdo it or you risk him coming across over the top. Brett doesnít have much of a personality, nor does he have much to say or do. Heís 11 yo, but calls his mother mommy? To be honest, I think you can get rid of him or make him play a bigger part. Right now heís a throwaway character. At least, IMHO. Julia is the rebellious teen girl who sneaks off into the bathroom for a quick screw with her boyfriend. I would probably have pushed that a little further, so they almost get caught. Christina, is the sensible one, but you have to show us a reason why she went with Greg in the first place. They donít seem like a matching pair, so it stretches the imagination quite a bit.

The story itself, I think has potential. A few things need to change though, IMO, for it to work better. Nothing much of interest happen until Greg first mentions that Julia is YOUR child. After that, things get moving a little faster. I also think that the motivations for this charity need to be explained better. What is it? Money? If so, it needs to be way more than $5. What is it then? Just a reason for the manager and head chef to be able to torture people. This was not clear to me and needs to be made more clear.

Hope any of this can help with the rewrite.  

Thanks for doing the wraparound stories.  


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Zack
Posted: October 13th, 2020, 6:48pm Report to Moderator
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Alright, Chipman. You're up next.

First, thanks a ton for doing the wraparound story for this series. You've taken the basic concept I had and made it, well, interesting. Lol. The more I read, the more I want to keep reading. Well done for keeping us on the hook.

On to Kindhearts... SPOILERS!

I know you've been saying you don't think there's much horror to your episode, but I disagree. There are many different types of horror and, to me, this fits the bill nicely. Sure, it's more Exorcist 3 than Friday the 13th, but that's far from a bad thing. Kind of gives a classy feel to it, if you get what I'm saying.

I love the concept. A twisted social experiment hidden under the guise of a charity. Brilliant. And I actually really like that you give basically no answers. Makes it creepier somehow. Also really dig the characters, especially Greg. I can tell you had an absolute blast writing him. He is such a Dickhead! Nice to see the tables turned on him at the end, even though it comes at the expense of his family. Fucker should have donated. lol

I've got no issues with the way you write, either. Using THEN instead of CONTINUOUS doesn't bother me a bit. Top notch writing as far as I'm concerned.

Only issue I have is I'm not really feeling much of an '80s vibe here. Nothing really jumps out and screams '80s to me. Maybe you were going for a more subtle approach, but IMO you could have leaned into it a bit more.

And to echo the others, I did find it odd that there wasn't any mention of other customers. Seemed odd to me.

Still, this is another creative and fun episode. I'm stoked that this series has turned out so well. Good stuff here, Dude.

Revision History (1 edits)
Zack  -  October 14th, 2020, 12:36am
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Dreamscale
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And we're onto Episode 3, written by Mr. Chipman.  Let's see what we have here...

Well, I don't like to do this, but I have to comment on the title page - the font you chose is so difficult to read and makes the page so jumbled looking - I'd lose it and find a better looking font.

Let's address the wraparound story first.  5 pages, very, very little goes on. You know how many wrylies you have in those 5 pages?  16...that's an extra 16 lines!  I don't understand the random underlining.  I don't know why no one has a name, and I don't know why these unnamed peeps keep getting "the" or "a" in front of their "name" in your prose.

Not thrilled with this wraparound story so far to be honest.

OK, sorry, on to the actual Episode...

Looks like about 35 pages here.  Not sure if you guys were given page limits or ranges, but to me, this looks very dense with dialogue, including large dialogue blocks.

What is "THEN" as a time element in your Slugs?  Really odd and IMO, flat out wrong.

Page 6 - As far as I can tell, you have only 2 characters in this scene, so why in the world would you use wrylies as they talk to each other?  Seriously, I hope you'll respond, because I just don't get it.  I foresee this occurring regularly and I'm going to bet that losing all the wrylies in the script would save you close to 5 pages.

Page 10 - I'm going to up my bet to 7+ pages saved by eliminating all these completely useless wrylies.

Also, I have to say, this is as slow as a 1 legged turtle, and, sadly, all this dialogue doesn't read well, or realistically and no one seems to be a likeable character.

Page 16/17 - So, Julia just turned 15 and she's fucking another 15 year old in a crowded family restaurant bathroom?  Damn...kids today...or does this take place in the 80's?  I have no clue, as none of the episodes have used a SUPER to tell me the year.

Why doesn't the Head Chef have a name?  Is he the only person preparing and cooking food in this entire kitchen?  I don't get it.

Page 18 - WTF?  looks like a Hostel situation!  So, Nicholas is "late 20's" and his daughter is 12, so he was extremely young when he had her - doesn't make sense and he needs an exact age so it would make sense.  You get me?

OK, so now we have torture porn out of nowhere and to say this story is strange, is like saying Warren and I are close friends.  

Page 23 - Sean, I'm sorry to be blunt, but this is SO OVERWRITTEN, long winded, wryliecrazy, it's getting me crazy.  We're over 20 pages in and in real time in your scenario, we're probably less than 20 minutes in.  What I'm saying is that you're writing is probably double or even more what it should/could be.

WOW!  WTF again?  Greg all of a sudden turns into some kind of crazy religious nut, and this is taking place in a crowded family restaurant?  Are we in some kind of crazy world?  This isn't the real world...that's for Damned sure!

Page 30 -Greg says Nicholas has been bothering them"all night", but it's afternoon, based on your 1st Slug, and you haven't changed the time element.  And, they've only been there 20-30 minutes tops.  I'm so confused...

Page 35 - The dialogue and dialogue exchanges just don't make any sense.  I mean you have Greg who just became Mr. Holy, and now he's swearing like a sailor, and Christina as well, all right in front of their 2 kids, at a supposedly crowded family restaurant, where now there doesn't seem to be anyone around.  I'm so lost...

Page 36 - Security Guards?  From where?  WTF?

Why do you hate naming your characters so much?  Manager, Head Chef, Waitress, etc.  Man, my head is about to blow!!!

OK, The End.

Man, oh man, I honestly don't get what you were after here, as to me, nothing made any sense at all, and this thing is more bloated than a blood gorged tick.  I think...wait...I know you could easily trim off 8-10 pages, maybe even 15 pages and have basically everything you want still intact.

I must be missing the theme or reason behind all this, as for me, it makes literally no sense.  All this shit for $5?  In a family restaurant that peeps frequent?  And no one knows about this?

How about this?  Why in the world would this be the place the family chose for Julia's 15th Birthday?  They've obviously never been here before and that in itself is strange, or unbelievable.

Not for me, my friend, but best of luck with this and the entire Anthology.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.

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Dreamscale  -  October 15th, 2020, 10:12pm
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LC
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Sorry Sean, this is probably not constructive, but this...


Quoted from Dreamscale
...  I mean you have Greg who just became Mr. Holy, and now he's swearing like a sailor,...

- made me laugh out loud.  

I don't necessarily agree with all of Jeff's critique but the whole very colourful review made me think of the old days.

P.S. I did mean to add myself that the monetary donation amount needs upping perhaps?


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Dreamscale
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Quoted from LC


I don't necessarily agree with all of Jeff's critique but the whole very colourful review made me think of the old days.


We need to bring back the old days.

I'm still shocked how little posts and even looks this cool Anthology is getting.

Zack is up next!!!  



To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Zack
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Quoted from Dreamscale


Zack is up next!!!  



I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, based off your reviews for the first 3 episodes. Lol. But seriously, thanks for taking the time to read through these.
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MarkItZero
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Quoted Text
Kindhearts; the corporate, mass-marketed love child of TGI
Fridayís and Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Lol.

This was a fun premise. Definitely has potential. There's something satisfying about the ending. But I think there needs to be more variety and progression to the whole situation. Greg's an interesting character, he's far from bland, but we're kind of just hitting the same note for the first ten or so pages.

At the beginning, we get a sense Nicolas is doing this against his will. He walks up to the table utterly terrified. Asks for a donation, then not a lot happens until pg. 18 where it's revealed his daughter is held prisoner.

I think you need a progressive mystery. Little discoveries along the way. The son can spot a shady-looking employee eyeing him, but Greg snaps at Brett to stop day-dreaming. Then the daughter can notice the waitress sobbing and follow her to the bathroom. The wife finally notices other customers ushered out of the restaurant and they're the only one's left. Till it's the whole family practically begging Greg to see something is very wrong here.

Same goes for the interactions with Nicolas. Right now, Nicolas starts out a stammering mess so there's nowhere else really to go. Maybe he could walk up in a complete catatonic daze at first. He's in shock. It's weird and leaves the audience questioning what's going on.

Then, he perks up a bit, is almost cloyingly nice.

Then, he's panicked and stuttering when he can't get them to donate.

Maybe even outright confrontational towards the end when he's all out of options.

I will add one thing I really liked was when Greg finally agrees to donate, then it turns out he's being a lying ass still. I got my hopes up for Nicolas, was relieved, then it's taken away.


That rug really tied the room together.
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spesh2k
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Hey Sean, just some notes as I was reading:

RE: The writing. Good, overall. But a little overboard with the wrylies.


Quoted Text
NICHOLAS
But, itís for a really good cause.
For only $5 --

GREG
(Irritated)
Not interested. Thank you.


Up to this point, we already know what Greg's mood and disposition is like. So, the fact that he interrupts him (along w/ the dialogue) already implies that he's irritated.


Quoted Text
Christina gives an empathetic smile to Nicholas.

CHRISTINA
(Friendly)
Thank you...


With the description preceding her dialogue, we're already assuming that her tone is friendly. And, up to this point, she's already shown the waiter empathy, so of course everything she says to him will come across as friendly. No need to add the wryly, just a bit redundant.


Quoted Text
GREG
Put the toy away when youíre at the
supper table.

Brett looks up at Greg.

GREG
(Aggressive)
Now.

CHRISTINA
(Stern)
Greg...
(To Brett, polite)
Honey, can you put your game away,
please? Itís not polite.


No need for (aggressive), you already suggest the tone of his dialogue in the description before it. Also, no need to throw in (stern) for Christina's dialogue. And if she's turning and addressing Brett, just mention that in the action description -- "She turns to her son, softens her tone" or something like that.


Quoted Text
Christina does a faux-friendly smile at Greg, through gritted
teeth.

CHRISTINA
(Off-handed)
Itís fine, Greg.


Again, no need for "off-handed" in the wryly, the action description already suggests her tone.


Quoted Text
Nicholas tries not to acknowledge them.

NICHOLAS
(As he writes)
ďBiggestĒ...

CHRISTINA
(Chimes in)
Itís a special occasion.


"As he writes" should be in the action description. And no need for "chimes in", the fact that she has dialogue after Nicholas is trailing off already suggests that she's chiming in. Just a bit redundant.


Quoted Text
GREG
Guess Iíll be the one driving
everybody home, too.


Not sure why "home" is underlined. I know it's probably for emphasis, but not sure why he's emphasizing the word "home".

PAGE 18:


Quoted Text
Nicholasí daughter, JESSICA (12), is tied to a wooden chair.
Most of the flesh above her right knee is gone.

Above Jessica, a small bucket hangs, dripping single droplets
of ACID onto her leg.


Cool method of torture (pretty brutal that it's on a 12 year old girl). But might be hard to see this clearly on CCTV footage, unless there's someone w/ her in the torture chamber with a handheld, doing close-ups.

PAGE 23:

Hmm, I know Greg's a dick, but it's an odd time for a Maury Povich, "You are NOT the father" moment. Would be more fitting if his wife asked why he was acting like this. Maybe a, "You're not yourself" kinda line that shows that Greg isn't normally like this. Because if he's always like this, why the fuck did she get married to this monster (as she calls him) in the first place?

PAGE 25:


Quoted Text
Nicholas arrives with the tray of food and, one-by-one, hands
each plate out to everyone.


A few lines back, you already mention that he's approaching with the tray of food. I know naturally the next step would be him arriving, but there's no need for a play-by-play in real time. You can get right to him setting plates in front of everybody.

OVERALL:

Nice work, overall. The writing was good, though, as I mentioned, you probably went a little overboard the wrylies at spots. And it's a bit of a slow burn... it's written as if we're seeing it in real time almost. The drawback of that is that it kinda drags the pacing down a bit. No need to go through every little stage of the restaurant experience. You could show them watching the video as Greg impatiently rings the bell. Then show Nicholas come out (instead of showing him in the kitchen w/ the chef right away) acting nervous and being awkward. You enough scenes w/ the chef later in the script. Then, after that, their order seems to cover a lot of pages. I know you're establishing character, but kinda get the point pretty early and characters are already well established at that point. You could probably trim that down.

I loved the premise, very unique. But it's a bit silly. The thing I find silly about is that, why doesn't Nicholas just hit the button himself? Are there cameras on him? Or why doesn't he try to coax the others at the table into hitting the button and offer them that $87 bribe?

The sex thing felt weird between two 15 year-olds. And it didn't really seem to fit the story much. I guess that's why Julia would've wanted to come there for her birthday? Because she knew that Travis kid was going to be there? But why would he choose that place? Why couldn't they just meet up somewhere like 15 year-olds usually do and do sex stuff privately? Didn't really add much to the story outside of Greg's "She took after you" comment to his disloyal wife.

Which brings me to the DNA test reveal. It was a pretty awkward time to present that issue. Maybe it could be pulled off if Christina kept nagging him about, "Why are you acting like this?" Suggesting that Greg is acting out of sorts... giving him no choice but to reveal why he's in a shitty mood. Because, otherwise, why not wait until they get home?

I do like that Greg gets his comeuppance at the end. Again, I enjoyed this and though it was a super unique premise. And I really liked the dry tone to it. But I think this can be trimmed down a lot. And that whole button thing needs to be tweaked, in my opinion. Because who makes a donation before they pay? Usually, when you make a donation, it's while you're paying that you're given the option. Maybe the only way the button can be accessed is once the payment goes through? That way, we're not left thinking, "Why can't Nicholas just hit the button himself?" If that's the case, most of this story SHOULD take place at the end of dinner, close to dessert.

Anyways, great work, overall. A fun read. I just think it can be about 5-10 pages shorter. And 25 pages is a better fit if this were a horror anthology TV show episode.

-- Michael




THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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