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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  April, 2009 One Week Challenge  /  OWC - Guilt
Posted by: Don, April 11th, 2009, 9:42am
Guilt by C.S. James - Short, Drama - A guilt-ridden couple returns to the scene of the accident that changed their lives. - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: Andrew, April 11th, 2009, 11:07am; Reply: 1
To whom it may concern!

Ok, I liked this one, but - the flashbacks? I think you can lose them. For me, they add absolutely nothing to the story but make it cliche. I am thinking you probably added them to set up the surprise that Jake is paralysed - when we had been anticipating he would be dead.  However, I still find them to be unnecessary, as we've seen it so many times before. The revelation that Will is not the father is a nice twist, and added a depth to this story.

There was just too much unnecessary description there I feel, particularly on page one. Do we really need to know about the grape? Do we need to know she wipes her hands in her jeans? I didn't particularly like this:


Quoted Text
A gentle, rocky creek encapsulates the park like a tiny trench.


It just felt bloated and not very vivid.

Having said all that, I did enjoy it, but feel like there was too much here that could be removed.

Andrew
Posted by: JonnyBoy, April 11th, 2009, 11:41am; Reply: 2
Meeting the competition criteria: definitely dramatic (to the point of melodramatic). Three generations of the same family, all on a picnic, and a secret revealed towards the end. Right on the money for me - 10/10
Characters: neither Will nor Michelle were particularly interesting. Jake, however, I did feel genuine sympathy for - 6/10
Dialogue: everything happened a bit to quickly, IMO. You had five more pages to play around with the relationship between Will and Michelle, try to lead us off in the wrong direction. At the moment it's all too intense, too crammed full of drama - 5/10
Story: I think you do need the flashbacks, and I was surprised when Jake turned up (although Michelle using the present tense about his paternity alerted me that something might be up). Again, though, it feels rushed. You did a decent job at misdirection, although the importance of the new signs was somewhat lost on me. The slightly more up-beat ending was nice - 6/10
Writing/format: you're guilty of over-writing, particularly on the first page. 'Michelle slowly pushing the grape into her mouth' was really the limit, for me. You just put too much detail in. Format was fine - 5/10

TOTAL: 33/50
Posted by: JamminGirl, April 11th, 2009, 2:26pm; Reply: 3
I don't agree that it was rushed when we're speaking of a big story within a short. Shorts are just that. Short.

That being said, I didn't particularly like the minutiae in the beginning. I get that you were trying to set a oh hum marriage tone, but it was a bit... much.

This line: Will
looks up, follows the bird as it swoops down and lands on
the edge of the distant sidewalk


so their looking to bring bird trainers in then...?

And what's with descriptions like but even with her silky black hair and green eyes, are you seeking specific actors? Remember, this is not a novella.

Good twists. Nice ending.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, April 11th, 2009, 2:47pm; Reply: 4
Along with Andrew here, the flashbacks were unnecessary. They seemed too quick to actually be considered flashbacks. If you don't know what's going on in them, then what's the point? You have a kid bending down to pick something up. Okay. You have a foot slipping on a rock, a kid's gasp, a man's scream. Better, but what's going on? Also, I did feel as though you were leading up to the fact that Jake was dead, but I actually liked that you didn't go that way. It's a bitter-sweet thing. I'm happy he's alive, but also really depressed that he's paralyzed.

Your descriptions were well written, but more like a novel than a script. A word or two I didn't know, but you did a good job with visuals.

This was a really dramatic piece, but it was really, really dramatic. Almost to the point where it was, like, cheesy dramatic (especially the whole "grabs face and lip quivers") part. I actually kind of shook my head and crack a tiny smile at that part.

But other than that stuffs, I thought this one was pretty good. I enjoyed it.

Sean
Posted by: Dreamscale, April 11th, 2009, 6:58pm; Reply: 5
This was pretty decent.  Like others haev said, too much description early on, for no reason.  Too dramatic. Way too short...why didn't you add more here?  I don't understand why it is so short.  Good twist, but again, a bit too depressing and over dramatic for my liking.

Decent overall though.
Posted by: bobtheballa (Guest), April 12th, 2009, 12:32am; Reply: 6
Not much to add here. Strong writing ability on display and met the challenge requirements easily.

I'll admit you had me fooled into thinking Jake was dead though Will didn't dwell on the fact that it wasn't his kid very long. Since that was the big secret I would build on that a little more before the big reveal.

Like I said, most of my thoughts have already been said on here. A decent script for one week... good luck with this.
Posted by: ReaperCreeper, April 12th, 2009, 4:46am; Reply: 7
I liked this one. I think it met the challenge nicely. The dialogue could be tweaked a bit but it worked well within the confines of your story.

I really thought Jake was dead -- you fooled me. It is a sad thing that he's on a chair, but I guess it's better than him not being alive. I suggest you give us even more hints that he is truly dead, so it comes as more of a surprise when we finally see him.

Also, I think you should expand at least a little bit more on the relationship between Michelle and Will.  But I think, for what little time we spend with them on this short, you did a good job of conveying their situation through non-verbal actions and gestures.  

It met the challenge and the Drama was heavy enough, I'd give this a 7/10

--Julio
Posted by: Brian M, April 12th, 2009, 6:33am; Reply: 8
You got me with the twist about Jake, it's good that he's still alive. The flashbacks were short but helped build up towards the ending so I wouldn't lose them.

Michelle's revelation comes out of nowhere. I think for her to say that, Will would have to snap at her when she tries comforting him about his guilt forcing her to reveal he's not the father.

Otherwise, pretty impressive.
Posted by: George Willson, April 13th, 2009, 11:36am; Reply: 9
Well, I'll have to say I thought I knew what was coming with the flashbacks, but I was fooled. Not that Jake has a happy twist, but hey, he's not dead. It had a nice build to it, and everything unfolded little by little. Nicely done there. I didn't have a big problem with the over-descriptiveness at the beginning, except for the river trench part. That read weird. I saw the pacing in the description as you lead the reader little by little into the story. You were setting up a sort of tense moment, and it worked for me.

Where the problem came in was that pesky secret. It came out of no where, and got a quick explanation to it, but it seemed almost unnecessary. He's having a big problem with the incident to begin with, and it feels like Michelle is giving Will a chance to leave or something. Someone bringing up that kind of thing is just crappy. If he leaves, he's a heel. So he has to stay but now, with the secret out, he's just got to live with and deal with it. She might as well have kept it to herself.

Sure, the guilt thing fits, but it's just too much for the moment. He's dealing with enough to have that laid on him too. I can see him putting on a fine face now, but we'll find him hanging from the rafters later.

It was well written, but the secret itself (the point of the challenge) killed it.
Posted by: jayrex, April 14th, 2009, 5:28pm; Reply: 10
I enjoyed this one.  Good descriptions that perfectly painted a picture.  The flashbacks are fine, I can see no problems with them.  The secret was a great one as this was by far not what I was expecting.

I have no complaints overall.  Met the challenge head-on and passed.

This one's in my top three.
Posted by: Astrid (Guest), April 15th, 2009, 9:03pm; Reply: 11
I liked this one a lot too. Lots of layers. beautiful : )

Loved the ending.

Hate ta complain about any thing, but one thing that I found a little distracting (not a big deal) was the adverbs. Most of them weren't necessary.

Great job!

Posted by: Colkurtz8, April 17th, 2009, 5:54am; Reply: 12
To whom it may concern

I thought this was gonna be the standard "tortured past" piece with a big confrontation at the end, a lot of shouting, crying, etc...but it took a nice twist with the emergence of Jake over the hill as the reader is led to believe he died at this particular site. The opening dialogue was on the money when Michelle talks about boring, meningless stuff as a desperate attempt to ellicit some reaction out of Will or  make him feel comfortable when he clearly isn't.

The "secret" revealed is a little hackneyed but at the same time I never saw it coming, all credit to Will for keeping is head but you can imagine things are gonna erupt somewhere in the not too distant future.

The writing was good and the twist was there, you ticked all the boxes with this one.

Nice job
Posted by: grademan, April 17th, 2009, 12:30pm; Reply: 13
Not bad for a OWC script.  Sure it coulda been longer and some trimming done but it met the challenge. Nice ending.
Posted by: michel, April 17th, 2009, 4:50pm; Reply: 14
A quite heart rending story. It doesnt' need to be longer, though I think little Jake's accident should be more spectacular (or erased). Also, Will's reaction top Michelle's secret has to be more underlined.

One more thing, psychologically, I can't see how it could help Will to come back where the accident took place.

Michel 8)
Posted by: Sham, April 18th, 2009, 9:44pm; Reply: 15
Hello, everyone! This was my script for the OWC.

I didn't plan on submitting an entry after Phil announced the genre/theme, as drama is not something I usually write, and I haven't been on a picnic since a first grade field trip.

Having said that, I got an idea for an OWC story two days before the deadline. I figured it wouldn't hurt to at least give it a shot. I tampered with the idea, expanded on some things and deleted others. Ultimately, I was satisfied enough with my outline to actually put the script together. Flawed or not, I'm happy with the outcome.


Quoted from Andrew Allen
I did enjoy it


Quoted from JonnyBoy
Right on the money for me


Quoted from JamminGirl
Good twists. Nice ending.


Quoted from Zombie Sean
I thought this one was pretty good. I enjoyed it.


Quoted from Dreamscale
This was pretty decent.


Quoted from bobtheballa
Strong writing ability on display and met the challenge requirements easily.


Quoted from ReaperCreeper
It met the challenge and the Drama was heavy enough, I'd give this a 7/10


Quoted from Brian M
pretty impressive.


Quoted from George Willson
well written


Quoted from jayrex
Met the challenge head-on and passed. This one's in my top three.


Quoted from Astrid
I liked this one a lot too. Lots of layers. beautiful : )


Quoted from Colkurtz8
The writing was good and the twist was there, you ticked all the boxes with this one.


Quoted from grademan
Not bad for a OWC script.


Quoted from michel
A quite heart rending story.


All of this is appreciated, more than any of you could ever know. Thank you!

I'll try to reply to some of your comments and offer my own insight.


Quoted from Andrew Allen
Ok, I liked this one, but - the flashbacks? I think you can lose them. For me, they add absolutely nothing to the story but make it cliche.

I actually didn't have the flashbacks the first time I wrote it, but I came to the conclusion that some readers who hate ambiguity would at least appreciate the effort.

I think the flashbacks give just enough information so it doesn't seem like Will was just being negligent by allowing his son in the creek.


Quoted from JonnyBoy
You did a decent job at misdirection, although the importance of the new signs was somewhat lost on me.

The signs tell park visitors to stay out of the creek. I was going for subtlety, but if it's a failed attempt, I can always change it.


Quoted from JamminGirl
This line: Will
looks up, follows the bird as it swoops down and lands on
the edge of the distant sidewalk

so their looking to bring bird trainers in then...?

Budget was never my concern when writing this.

The idea behind this visual was that Will finally looks up, and the first thing he sees brings him right back down to the day of his son's accident.


Quoted from Dreamscale
Way too short...why didn't you add more here?  I don't understand why it is so short.

There's a selfish reason for this, unfortunately.

I thought the shorter I made the script, the more readers I would get from this OWC. It ultimately backfired and weakened the script, and even though I got quite a few readers, it wasn't worth it.


Quoted from Brian M
Michelle's revelation comes out of nowhere. I think for her to say that, Will would have to snap at her when she tries comforting him about his guilt forcing her to reveal he's not the father.


Quoted from George Willson
Where the problem came in was that pesky secret. It came out of no where, and got a quick explanation to it, but it seemed almost unnecessary. He's having a big problem with the incident to begin with, and it feels like Michelle is giving Will a chance to leave or something. Someone bringing up that kind of thing is just crappy. If he leaves, he's a heel. So he has to stay but now, with the secret out, he's just got to live with and deal with it. She might as well have kept it to herself.

My goal with this script was to write a story about getting over the guilt caused by bad, irreversible memories.

There's Will's guilt over Jake's accident, and Michelle's guilt over her own adultery. When you can't change the past, the only thing left to do is move on. Michelle feels that her guilt could change Will's perspective on his own, and then he can stop blaming himself for something he can't take back.

I'm confident that I can make it work in the long run, but it'll take a lot of time that I'm not ready to invest. For now, I challenged myself (the point of the OWC), and I'd like to think I succeeded for the most part.

Again, thank you!
Posted by: MBCgirl, April 19th, 2009, 2:41pm; Reply: 16
I haven't looked to see who this is by, so I want you to know I have not read any of the reviews and just reviewing as I normally would, whether I knew who you were or not.

I think you wrote a compelling story.  Some things that you can work on doing in a clean up of this script is remember to show not tell.  Descriptions can fall into that category.  Things that have to do with feelings, emotion are hard to write as they aren't something you can always show.

Descriptions for scenes should be exactly what the camera is able to show us.

I underrstand why you would write your first page or so this way as you wanted to get us into the emotional story.

You did a great job of taking us to a place of torment and I think the flash backs for Will helped to solidify that aspect.   The twist revealed by the secret wasn't a surprise for me in some ways...as that would be a natural way to remove the guilt of killing or hurting ones own child...BUT...in Will's mind, Jake is/was his child and I don't think he would get over it that easy.  I can understand why Michelle wanted to remove that quilt from him...but there could have been more there by way of dialogue between them.

Since it was a shorter script, I think you could add more in to help support his response  - just before Jake comes down the hill.

Good job overall and certainly a good effort.

Morgan
Posted by: Grandma Bear, April 20th, 2009, 3:27pm; Reply: 17
I thought you did really good with this one.

I twas heartbreaking drama.

I thought from page one that it was a couple that had lost a kid. When there was a creek surrounding the place, I assumed the kid had drowned. I'm glad you revealed things to be different at the end. I thought that made it even more emotional.

Writing was was nice too.

I don't really have anything to suggest to make it better. I think it's good the way it is. Maybe explain a little better what it was Michelle was trying to reveal as a secret...

It was a great effort for the OWC and you didn't even need 12 pages to tell the story either.  :-)
Posted by: Higgonaitor, April 20th, 2009, 10:35pm; Reply: 18
Hello!
I'm sorry, sham, I cant say I really liked this one.

I feel like its a little bit cliched, and comes off a bit melo-dramatic.

Your best bet would be to just tone this down...a lot.  Work with subtlety and ambiguity.  Try to get your audience to know the wholes tory of Jake without actually telling them.  Show them through the awkwardness between the husband and the wife, and I think it will improve your story.

As it is right now, it definitely comes off as melo-dramtic, like something from a soap opera.  Just my opinion.

Hope I helped,
Tyler
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