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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Scripts  /  Twilight's Last Gleam
Posted by: Don, December 16th, 2007, 4:33pm
Twilight's Last Gleam by Mark Claunch (mwc) - Short, Psychological Thriller - A horror novelist struggles to overcome his irrational phobia of darkness after a car crash on a deserted highway leaves him stranded on a moonless night. 10 pages - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: ABennettWriter, December 16th, 2007, 7:31pm; Reply: 1
Words that appear on screen, such as the book titles, are capitalized in a screenplay, whether you want them capitalized or not.

I don't know how I feel about it. It was really, really long. I should've zipped through ten pages real quick, but it was bogged down by a lot of useless, if pretty, description. It set the tone and atmosphere, but when you're filming, no one's going to dwell on the stars, or empty desert, or endless road. They see it, but then they want something else to see.

I don't like the title.

With a few cuts, this could be a nice read, but as it is now, it's a little heavy.
Posted by: CindyLKeller, December 17th, 2007, 8:27am; Reply: 2
Hey mwc,

I have to agree that this one took a little longer than usual for me to read a 10 page script. The descriptions were pretty thick with flowery words.


About the story itself...
I wouldn't have known the guy was afraid of the dark if I didn't read the logline.

If someone was to watch this without seeing the logline, they would think that the guy was just trying to fix his car.

You could change up some of the dialogue to fix this. He does say "shit" a lot. I'd get rid of it, and have him say something else. Let us know he's afraid of the darkness somehow AND since he's a horror writer and on prozac, well, you could have played that up a bit, too. Maybe his bottle of Prozac was empty. Maybe he began to freak out, imagining things in the darkness....  

The ending twist was pretty good.

Posted by: rc1107, December 18th, 2007, 8:25am; Reply: 3
Hey mwc,

I do agree with ABSteel and CindyLKeller in that some of the words do get a little bit flowery, and you probably could get rid of a couple of the 'shits', (it does get repetetive), but I disagree with them about everything else.

True, it does take a little bit longer than an average 10 page story, but that's because there's almost all description and no dialogue, but for good reason...he's all by himself.  Besides the couple things he mutters to himself, there really can't be any dialogue, so you do have to tell the story with words.

And I think it's a pretty good story.  Even without reading the logline I would have gotten the idea that he was afraid of the dark, not only with the imagery within the screenplay, but also him mumbling about the whackjob psychologist he talked about overpaying.

And I do agree with CindyLKeller in the fact that it was a very good ending.  I'm not afraid of the dark, but I'm scared as hell of ending up blind, and that end would horrify me even more than if a monster or werewolf had shown up.

All in all, I thought it was well written and a very good story.  I also thought that the title was very clever.

- Mark
Posted by: Gwydion, December 18th, 2007, 8:34pm; Reply: 4
It is difficult to write a complete story within 10 pages.  And you did that.  I got that he was afraid and I can buy that it's probably a symbiotic relationship with his work.  What I have a hard time believing is that if it's the dark that he fears that he wouldn't be more prepared to face it.  There are plenty of fun ways to take away his lights/security and still end up where you did.

I think this would play well on the screen, but I'm not confident that someone else could take this script and get the images on the screen quite the way you may see them - if that matters to you.  This script is definitely worth continuing to tweak!
Posted by: mwc, December 19th, 2007, 12:58am; Reply: 5
Like rc1107 mentioned. A script with very little dialog doesn't read as fast as one full of conversation.

The lack of stars, the empty desert, and the endless road were all story points. Without the total isolation and lack of ambient light, there would not be significant cause for the protagonist to be concerned, let alone to experience a severe panic attack.

I'm open to suggestions for a title if you've got any better ideas.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the story.

It's really interesting to see the different responses the script is receiving on this site, certainly different  from the other folks who've taken the time to read it.

The descriptions for instance, were pointed out as positive elements by those who read the script before it was posted here, yet the SimplyScript crowd seems to think that they are out of place.  -- Well, the reason I posted the script here was to get a different take, and it's all food for thought.

I do have to admit that I'm a little baffled by your statement that you would not have known the protag was afraid of the dark had you not read the logline.  The logline was written for SimplyScripts so everyone that read the script before had no foreknowledge of the story, yet everyone understood the premiss.  -- Without flashbacks or on-the-nose monologs, do you have any suggestions as to how to make his fear even more obvious?

The character does say "sh!t" a lot. It's one of the few words that I actually say out loud to myself.  As it is, I already have the character uttering phrases that are pushing believability. I was constantly concerned that the story might come across as camp. Back peddling to softer phrases seemed disingenuous and felt like they endangered suspension of disbelief. Thou in the long run, I'm sure I could lose a couple of the expletives without them being missed. :-)

I like the idea of the Prozac bottle being empty but freaking out about it would be too strong a reaction. -- Thanks for the good note. :-)

At one point, I did consider showing the images of his imagination but that felt like the easy way out in addition to raising the potential budget.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the story.

Like I mentioned before, it's interesting to see the widely different reactions the verbage has generated in various readers.

Part of the motivation for writing this short was to work on my "voice"  and part of that came out as what is being labels here as "flowery" descriptions. I will certainly weigh the opinions expressed here along with the counter-point provided by other readers.

Although not one has actually said that the language in the descriptions was distracting, I assume that was what was meant, otherwise it wouldn't have been brought up at all.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the story.

As a writer, I never try to direct the film on paper, instead, I see the job as to inspire the reader to envision their own interpretation of the story. I strive to make the story visual, but I want each reader to direct their own version of the film in their heads. -- Taking that to it's logical conclusion, I'd want the director (if it wasn't me) to bring their own vision to the project, hopefully being inspired by the atmosphere I invoked in the story.

The descriptions were only designed to set a mood and atmosphere not to tell a potential director how to shoot the movie. (Notice there were no mentions of camera and the only blocking was that which was needed to tell the story).

I agree that there could be more then one way to arrive at the climax to this story. I made notes on several before focusing on the one in the script.  Putting him alone in a car removed all of the convenient and clichéd alone-in-the-house elements I've seen before. -- My favorite part was that it was the character's proactive actions that sent him to his doom. It he would have just been a week character and not done anything to try and alleviate his circumstances, he would have been fine.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the story.

Posted by: ABennettWriter, December 19th, 2007, 7:22am; Reply: 6
People don't read movies. Half of your script is descriptions that take a second to see on screen. You need to describe that in a second, not with a minute or two.

This would be a lot better trimmed down to at least 7 pages, with action. Action is the key element in a screenplay. Leave the flowery descriptions to the novel or short story.

Incorporate your descriptions into your actions. Then at least they'd be moving.

Sorry to sound like a bitch, but have you tried writing this as a short story? It may work better, and you can use your talent for flowery description to its advantage.

And I'm not the person you want to ask about titles. Mine suck.
Posted by: Gwydion, December 19th, 2007, 1:38pm; Reply: 7
To clear up, and hopefully not come off as defensive, I wasn't implying that you should add in directions, angles, or motivations.  I simply meant to point out that you obviously visualize the story very well and, with the way you wrote it, I could play it very well in the "theater of my mind."  However, having directed other people's work before, I can see many potential conflicts of our visions that we have of the work.  From your reply, I would say that it doesn't concern you that much and you would be open to a different perspective.  That's good.

If you read my work, you'll see I do tend to step a bit on the potential director's toes by describing visuals that would suggest a particular angle, distance, etc.  I do that on purpose so that changes that are made will more closely resemble what I want and I am quite selfish.  Still, I don't fight changes.

The setting with the car is brilliant (no pun intended) and I would not suggest otherwise.  I hate to suggest specifics to other writers, but I mean something along the lines of him having something other than his cell phone to provide light.  For someone afraid of the dark to have to dig to find a flashlight with corroded batteries doesn't ring true to me.  I wanted the flashlight to be on in the car while he's driving, fly through the windshield during the crash, and force him to either risk going further into the darkness or go straight to the MacGuyver-esque backfire.

Your writing is decriptive, not flowery.  There's nothing wrong with using adjectives when you're telling what images and actions take place on the screen.  Pacing and tone are useful tools for writers and you use them well.  This is not a go-go-go story.  Night (the screenwriter/director, not your antagonist) is a master of slowing down, taking his time, and turning down the volume to up the intensity.  I see that in your build to the freak-out.

It's true that people watch movies instead of read them.  But, it's also true that people that make movies read them first.  Sorry to be so long winded, but this is one of the few things I've read in my short time with this site that I actually want to watch.  I think festivals would eat this up.
Posted by: CindyLKeller, December 19th, 2007, 3:47pm; Reply: 8
Hey Mark,
It was plain enough to me that he had anxiety about something. It could have been the storm, too.

I'm going to throw out a suggestion here...

I think on page 5, right before the lightning strike, you should have him say something like: This is rediculous. A horror writer afraid of the dark. I'm not afraid. I can live with it. I'll just turn around.
Something like that.
Then have the lightning strike, and him crash.

I did like the part when he was talking about the shrink.

If he's that upset, he is going to talk to himself. Well, ramble to himself.  

I really do like your script. The end of it was simply horrifying.

Keep up the good work. I'll be looking forward to reading more of your scripts.

Posted by: mwc, December 20th, 2007, 1:58pm; Reply: 9
I agree with Gwydion that while movie aren't read, screenplays are.  There was nothing in the script that couldn't be filmed (If you were thinking about the old "show don't tell" adage).

The phrasing was a matter of 'style' or 'voice' and I believe adds to the readability of the experience. You obviously disagree. But it would be hard to convince me that writing a bland script would be a better way to go.

As for writing this as a short story, that's not something that interests me.  I don't know that I've ever actually written a short story.  In fact, about the only none scriptwriting that I've done was a story poem and it ended up being reworked into a piece ripe for animation.

I just looked over the TLG script again and I just don't share your take on the amount of descriptive passages contained within it's covers. The action/discription blocks are small, each containing no more then a few lines.

It's fine with me that we approach writing from different directions. There is not one-size-fits-all approach and for that I say "Bully" or I would if we were having this conversation a 100 years ago... and I was Teddy Roosevelt. -- I feel that the descriptive verbiage helps the reader to more fully visualize the unfolding story, whereas you seem to prefer a just-the-facts approach. Fortunately. the world is a big enough place for both.

I know what you mean about coming across as defensive.  I hesitated posting any replies for fear of coming across as too defensive. I mean, I obviously wanted to hear different opinions from different people or I wouldn't have posted the script.  So it would be disrespectful to then turn around and say, "I'm right and you're wrong". :-)  Like they say, " If you can't handle the answer, don't ask the question."
- - -
The important part of someone's opinion is the reason behind it.  It's one thing for a person to say they don't like something (and if that truly is their opinion then that's perfectly valid) but without any explanation as to why they didn't like something, the opinion is of no help.

When someone says they didn't understand something, I always want to figure out why.  If there is anything I can do to clarify issues that might have been glossed over, I'll happily make the changes. But I'm not out to try and please all of the people all of the time.  If I feel that the majority of the readers understand the point I'm trying to get across, I'll keep the script as it is before I'll make a change that might weaken a story element.
- - -
Having an immense fear of the dark and not being fully prepared for it was one of the issues I actually have with the story.  The guy would probably have a flashlight in his briefcase. (He wouldn't likely be using it inside the car before the accident. He'd have the car's interior light).  But if he did have a working flashlight with him, it would have to fail. I'd need to come up with a good way/reason to limit it's lifespan. -- The idea would be to help up the believability factor by have the protag more prepared and at the same time use that device to add another set of up and down emotions to his anxiety roller coaster.

I'm not a fan of camera directions in a script. I'm sure I'd call you on that. :-)   Once I finish the reading obligations I have on other sites (I'm running a script challenge this month), I plan on reading more scripts around here. I'll be happy to read and discuss one of yours at that point, if your still around.

This was the first live-action short I've written in many, many years. It was fun to get back to the format.

When I revisit the script, I'll keep in mind that you were unclear about his Nyctophobia (fear of darkness) and see if I can find a way to help elucidate his specific phobia.

On the other hand, I could never have him say, "This is rediculous. A horror writer afraid of the dark." It's just too on-the-nose for me.  It comes across as telling the audience the story as opposed to having the actions reveal it. I'm afraid it also really stretches what someone would say to himself.  As it is, I think him talking about his shrink is pushing it, if I push any harder, I'm afraid all believability will come crashing down.

Posted by: Blakkwolfe, December 23rd, 2007, 12:52am; Reply: 10
Hey Mark,

Bummer of a situation for Stan...Seems like a guy with this paranioa would work hard to avoid driving at night, especially, on long, dark and unfamiliar roads in a thunderstorm...Could use some editing, as there's alot that is nice but is not essential to the story.
For example, the gargoyle logo.  It's a nice description, but doesn't drive the plot forward. Just a box with a gargoyle logo might be sufficient...The ending is great! Tight, suspensefull and right to the point, nothing there you don't need....

Posted by: mwc, December 23rd, 2007, 3:47pm; Reply: 11
The thunderstorm was unexpected. Forecast called for a clear night with a full moon. --  But that information was between the lines not on the page.

Facts that are sprinkled throughout the story include:
There was a full moon that night. (He complains that it can't be seen).
It takes place on the longest night of the year. (Date given on weather report).
He has a destination where he is scheduled to be the next day. (Flyer in briefcase)
He's seeing a psychiatrist. (Complains about the bad advise from the shrink).
He's on Prozac (A know anxiety rug)
He is far from civilization. (Desolate gas station and cold coffee).

Facts implied (I hope):
His psychiatrist encouraged him to make a night trip, or at least approved of it.
The thunderstorm was unexpected.
He's afraid of the dark.

I guess I'll need to sneak in a little more information into the story to help earn the audience's, suspension of disbelief. But to be honest, it kills me to have to state anything blatantly.  I'll see if I can lay in the info about the thunderstorm being a surprise as part of the radio weather report without it coming across as telegraphed.

I guess I need to be more upfront with the back-story element that the shrink encouraged the drive.

He's not paranoid, he's phobic, a subtle but important distinction. (One that I might need to make more clear, somehow).

My biggest concern is that a couple people don't get that his anxiety is brought about by his fear of darkness. If that doesn't come across on the page, it will have an even more difficult time coming across on screen. The reason for his fear must be universally understood for the ending to pay off. Yet stating it on-the-nose is NOT an option. Rehearsals with an excellent actor might help bring out some ideas but I'd really like the script to take care of the problem. As of now, a few people seem to think Stan's afraid of the lightning, when in fact it's the shadows that freak him out. I may never get 100% of the readers to make the distinction, but I'd like to get as close to that number as possible (without coping out and actually shouting out the fact).

Some of the small details are included for pacing and some for environment. The gargoyle description was to support that Stan was a horror writer and to set up the frightening bit when it is seen the second time (in the trunk).  But if that's not how it comes across then I didn't achieve what I was attempting.  Seems like you put another vote in the over-written column as opposed to the creatively descriptive one.  -- It really seems like a narrow rope to trod, to get compelling visual descriptions without distracting from the story itself. -- The role of 'voice' in a screenplay sure seems like a contentious topic around here, which means it's food for thought.

As you could probably guess, I came up with the ending first and then developed a scenario that would bring the protag to that untimely end. I'm pretty jazzed about this story and I will continue to develop it with the goal (or at least dream) of filming it one day. I think my watch words for the rewrite will need to be Clarity, Intensity, and Brevity.

Any specific suggestions you (or anyone) might have will be much appreciated. This is only a second draft and my standard operating procedure usually involves many many passes.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the story.
Posted by: dkw208, December 23rd, 2007, 4:46pm; Reply: 12

i must admit that i didn't get that the scwartz character had a phobia of the dark (i know someone else said that, too).  i didn't read everyone's comments so hopefully what i say won't be repetitive, but i thought of an idea, although i don't know if you would like it, but what if perhaps you opened the scene in the shrink's office just to introduce us to schwartz's character a little better (maybe he could even be describing something that happened to him and shows him troubled and it sets him up as a scared/timid type), and we can learn more about him and his phobias and it can end with schwartz being convinced to go on the trip-then it cuts to schwartz in his car, in the dead of night and terrified (this can also be kind of funny and ironic, and irony is always good).  this way we know schwartz a little more before his voyage, and his journey in the car will seem more significant to the viewer
Posted by: mwc, December 26th, 2007, 4:07am; Reply: 13
I'm afraid I'm adamant about keeping this a one character film.  -- Having a scene set at the shrinks office might make this clearer but it would weaken the story too much.

I need help understand how you interpreted the story.  If you did not think he was afraid on the dark, what did you think was going on?  What actions might he have done different so that you would have understood that the antagonist was darkness itself?

I guess the ending didn't make any sense to you since it requires the reader to understand that the character was afraid of the dark. What did you think was going on at the end?

Your answers will help me understand why some folks can't follow the story. -- Something I'm very conserved about.

Did you read the logline before reading the script?

Thanks for reading and commenting on the script.


Posted by: mwc, January 3rd, 2008, 3:52am; Reply: 14
I've uploaded a new draft of the script, taking into account many of the comments from this thread.

I'd appreciate it I could get some opinions concerning the changes.


EDIT: to update link to latest draft.
Posted by: ABennettWriter, January 3rd, 2008, 5:36am; Reply: 15
Why are you focusing so much on the books? It's bothering me that the text (titles, flyers, etc) isn't capitalized, but whatever.

It's better to use dashes instead of commas in sluglines. And "driving" is more of an action and not so much a shot.

"Stan peers into the night sky, it's as black as tar." That's a run on. It should be Period and then "It's...".

I think he talks too much. I might like it better if it's V. O. Most people don't talk outloud to themselves...

Dialogue shouldn't ever be separated, as it is on page 9 with the Doc.

I think it's much better. More to the point instead of the flowery prose stuff. I really liked it.

Good job.
Posted by: mwc, January 3rd, 2008, 8:59pm; Reply: 16
As it turns out as I was looking over the 01/02/08 draft today, I ended up make a few changes and corrects and then a few more until I'd changed enough to post it as a new version.

This version trims back the page count that yesterday's draft added. It also (I hope) helps to farther clear up what the protag's fear really is.

There's no need for anyone to download the 01/02/08 draft. Download this one if you are interested.

I'd be very interested in hearing any comment's anyone might have on the script as a whole or the changes is you've read the earlier draft.


Posted by: dkw208, January 3rd, 2008, 9:37pm; Reply: 17
hey mwc,

i read the draft last week so don't remember everything, but i just read the new draft.  i glanced at the logline before i initially read it, but forgot it when i read it.  i still don't know why he's afraid of the dark, and that's important info. for a viewer.  i know it's backstory, but motivation is always an essential part of character, especially when phobias and fear is involved (ex. 'good will hunting' -matt damon was like that as an adult because we learn he had a troubled childhood, from foster home to foster home, and was abused as a child.  'the aviator' - howard hughes (leo) was OCD and afraid of germs because we see when he's younger his mother raised him like that.  'truman show' - truman was afraid of the water because his dad drowned when he was younger).  look at it like this:  let's say you're watching a movie and character A says "i hate John so much".  and then someone asks him "why do you hate John?" and A says "just because", as a viewer, we won't accept that really.  but if we see a flashback of of John beating the crap out of character A, then we would undesrtand why A hates John so much, and we would believe it.  and lastly, if he is afraid of the dark, why is he driving a long distance at night on a remote highway (even if it is supposed to be full moon)?  i'm not afraid of the dark, and even i wouldn't do that.  again, there needs to be a motivation for that or a reason that the viewer will understand why he's doing that (and maybe it's because it's the next day, and there are no flights, and this was the fastest way, but as a viewer, i don't know why).  you need to flesh this out more, because at 9 pages, it feels rushed
Posted by: mwc, January 5th, 2008, 2:32pm; Reply: 18
Do you really think that a 6 minute short needs to include a backstory? Do you really feel that the audience needs to know more?

All of the examples you sited were radically longer then this story.  Do you think people would really gain anything by adding another scene? Or would it take away from the tension?

This story is very simple and I'm afraid stretching would just dilute the impact.
Posted by: Galin, December 7th, 2019, 7:41pm; Reply: 19
The link no longer works.  It's been a long time but if you're still working on this, it would be great to read the new version.
Posted by: LC, December 7th, 2019, 7:51pm; Reply: 20
Well, the original link works, just not the updated links posted...

This script is twelve years old, Galin.
Feel free obviously to comment/review whatever scripts you like but be aware you might not/probably won't get any interaction after all this time.

Or, you might entice someone out of the woodwork.

P.S. Galin, PM'd you some SS Newb links FYI, and welcome to the site. :)
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