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Strength of a Soul by Frank B. Hansen - Thriller, Psychological - In the aftermath of a horrific accident, a mute suicidal grandfather struggles to accept reality and must honor a promise to his granddaughter to stay alive and reunite his family. 94 pages - pdf format
Hi Frank, thanks for your reads. Working on the whole thing but here's my "hook" thoughts.
Page 1 - "dimples fade" is a little awkward. It makes sense what you mean but might be easier to say "her smile fades".
Page 1 - so on. Like the use of mini slugs. Efficient sluglines are my jam.
page 2 - great dialogue without anything OTN. but you cold be more efficient here. Mom makes the comparison to play-time alone, Zoe asks one question, then mum clarifies. A bit too much back and forth. Otherwise it's good. A bit too much explanatory "adults do things differently" etc
page 3 "enough to cause a solar eclipse," - huh. I mean I know you mean broad shoulders but a little purple. I appreciate nice little writerly things but this is a little too ethereal to work on the page. Just my opinion though.
page 3 - your sluglines change from the opening scene, considering this is the same house I assume. Makes things harder to follow.
page 4 - "soar" should be sore
page 6 - "He huffs a smile." not clear what this means. A huff is like a frustrated exhale. You might have better luck with "he forces a smile"
Okay I'm up to page 9 for now. Your technical writing is amazing. I appreciate any an all efficiency and you've got that down with slugs.
But so far - thriller? Your logline suggests more a drama. 10~ pages in I should be "thrilled" and although I'm not off-put or lacking curiosity, you've cut back and forth between a sad mother and daughters and sad grandad at hospital. A thriller might have a better hook - I don't know your premise beyond your logline. When I think of a thriller, I think of huge life or death stakes. This might be ok for a drama but right now you've got some (well-written) character scenes but no one is at any real risk yet.
I'm going to post the rest of my review coming days. Because you have very few line errors, I'm not going to pad out my thoughts that way anymore and just give you a bit of a general thoughts review.
good technical writing - cutting between settings early on is always hard and you've done it well
establish your genre hook (thrillers always have them!) EARLY
Look forward to seeing how you go Frank. Might have the rest of my thoughts up next few days - I've not been well so have some time off work.
The good - Frank - this is a finely written script. I'll note some good lines and technical prowess below.
Pages 35-51ish - your use of mini slugs keeps the story moving forward and helps with pacing (i'll touch on pacing later though).
Page 42 - your curt and to the point descriptions (you do this throughout) eg. these three lines "He snaps his head up, gawks at a reflection of Evelien. As he spins, foam and blood fly through the air. At the doorway, Angelina taps her chin with a finger."
They are fast, they are descriptive, and they establish a quick moving scene. That is invaluable.
As I said earlier, you don't have too many dialogue scenes that are painful or on the nose. That's another good strength.
And finally, there really is not much to say here technically. This is a well-studied script in terms of professional presentation.
The not so good -
Look. I maintain my position that the plotline here lacks the elements of a thriller. Even thought your action descriptions are strong, there's no escalation of risk, no threats to your protagonists that needs immediate action, no explosiveness (figuratively).
There is just too much "talk", particularly in the first half. I got to page 50 before I felt we were getting to some plot meat and that is much too late in a 94 page script. A thriller should not be dialogue heavy except in some unique circumstances (think "Rope" by Hitchcock).
I didn't have a bad time reading this by any means. But the reason I'm not going into depth about thematic throughline or plot technique here is because I just don't think I could do it adequate justice. You weren't able to keep me right there the whole time.
For your rewrite:
- Maintain your strengths, keep the short and sharp action descriptions in. - Either change genres or go back to treatment and add so more risk and threat to your characters to make this a thrilling thriller. - Although your strengths technically help pacing, get us to the crux of the story earlier (not page 50). Work on your hook. You have good character stuff - find a wayu to incorporate that organically into escalating tensions.
Thanks again for sharing Frank and I'm sorry if this feels not very thorough. I can't comment too much on your technical prowess because it's all there - I just think this needs another look from a plot and thematic lens.
I was aiming for a slow build with underlying hints of something weird going on and then yank it to a more exciting level during the second half of the script, maybe too slow for a Thriller. Angelina/Zoe is more of a subplot, maybe too many pages were allocated for that.
Do agree that as it stands, it might be more of a drama/mystery than a Thriller/mystery.
Your input is valuable, I'll take it into account when I do a rewrite.
A couple of things I'm curious about, cause I didn't see too much feedback from the second half of the script: Was it clear to you who Maia and Angelina were? Did you pick up on any of the hints from the first half of the script?