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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  October, 2011 One Week Challange  /  Innocence Condemned - OWC
Posted by: Don, October 15th, 2011, 9:14am
Innocence Condemned by Dena Mckinnon - Short, Gothic Horror - During the dark times of Christianity, a young woman finds herself accused of witch craft, haunted by a disfigured spirit, and destined for persecution. During her trials and torment, she discovers that death may not be the only punishment that lies ahead. 10 pages, 9 characters, Hard R Rating - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: The boy who could fly, October 15th, 2011, 4:41pm; Reply: 1
I'm guessing this is from a begginer. First off congrats on finishing the OWC, they can be quite difficult so finishing one is an accomplishment. The paragraphs here are two long, they should be broken down a bit, almost looks like a novel. The dialog was a bit too on the nose for me, and some of it just doesn't work. Still it fits the challenge and you managed to finish it, so good job on that.
Posted by: Reef Dreamer, October 15th, 2011, 4:50pm; Reply: 2
Hello Phillipe

Yeah, as mentioned above the descriptions are too long. Read quality scripts to see the difference, which to be honest I have head to do.

A few comments

It starts with 1692 - how would we know that? There is no scene intro
Characters introduced for the first time need to be in CAPITALS
Try to avoid describing the obvious eg the pastor set them up. We need to work it out from the script and the action etc

Overall this is a dark tale. It has depth and I think with re working could be a powerful piece but they to be different from the witch hunt plays etc that already exist

All the best.
Posted by: Dreamscale, October 15th, 2011, 11:27pm; Reply: 3
Sorry, I'm out again in less than 3 passages.  Doesn't work as written at all, and this is so over written, as others have mentioned.

Congrats on completing an entry for the October OWC.
Posted by: darrentomalin, October 16th, 2011, 8:40am; Reply: 4
I'm exhausted! Needs a big trim and touch up, the action blocks need serious editing.
Keep them punchy and crisp, you are not writing a novel and getting out of that habit is a hard trick to accomplish.
You obviously have a very good imagination and ideas, just need to streamline those ideas into swifter writing.
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, October 16th, 2011, 11:09am; Reply: 5
Your expository legend establishes a misunderstood ghost.
Novelistic prose is rarely a good thing in a screenplay.
It makes the read very thick and tends to make folks tune out.
Suggest, evoke, donít spill out lots of unrelated detail.
Itís a common problem most struggle with at some point.
The more you write, the less likely you are to overwrite.
Telling us a lot about a ghost doesnít engage a reader.
Show us your protag experiencing events, not talking about them.
The ending somewhat petered out for me, I was expecting more.
Pretty decent atmosphere. Thanks for playing OWC.

Posted by: Ledbetter (Guest), October 16th, 2011, 2:06pm; Reply: 6
Gave this one a try but stopped when you introe'd John Clevenger but Samual Wayman was what we got.

You also had two men on the wagon but never introe'd them at all.

The massive blocks were too much to get past as well.

Great try on the OWC.

Read some scripts and get a feel for how to tighten this up and you might have a decent enough story.

Posted by: Baltis. (Guest), October 16th, 2011, 2:18pm; Reply: 7
Page 1, 2 and 7 were like pages ripped from a novel...

Lots of asides in this one or (prose)

The thing with this one is simple... It should be cut down dramatically, tightened up or extended and written more cohesively.  Either way it's a tough read as it is.  Very weighty.

I know I've been away from the site for some time and all, but I've been entering contest and interacting with consultants much of that time -- So since when do we not need Fade out or The End anymore?   I've seen this a slew of times in the 6 scripts I've read thus far.  Strange.
Posted by: Ledbetter (Guest), October 16th, 2011, 2:23pm; Reply: 8
Good to see you back Balt-

Posted by: wonkavite (Guest), October 17th, 2011, 7:38pm; Reply: 9
Hey Philippe -

Read the script, and think you've got the germ of a really nice story here.  I get the idea that you're probably (relatively) new to writing, so throwing a few tips out for your consideration:

* The descriptions in the beginning are much too heavy.  Rule of thumb is, no more than three lines per paragraph.  If you really, really need more - chop it up into new paragraphs - each it's own set of actions.

* Also with descriptions - limit them drastically, to only what you really need (to define the action, and establish basic atmosphere.)  One small example of where you did too much: One stuffs a rag into her pretty mouth squelching her pleas.  No need to mention her mouth is pretty.  Not a big thing, but the adjectives add up, and drag down the story.

As for the story - I think you've got a great premise to start with: a woman wrongfully killed as a witch, who chooses to remain in limbo to help others like her.  That's some potentially great, rich material to work with.  Your writing is solid - I think once you streamline this a bit, it could be quite good.

BTW: the priest - IMHO - was overdone.  Fine, have them torture and attempt to kill her.  But raping her too?  That makes it much too cartoony...and actually takes away from the impact.

All that aside, congrats on the OWC - and thanks for the submission!
Posted by: DarrenJamesSeeley, October 18th, 2011, 8:31am; Reply: 10
So, if you take all the above advice and ask "would that improve the story" the simple answwer is yes. You can make action more active, get rid of uneeded stuff, and breaking up some of those blocks...and if you had done any of that to start this would be a good short script.

I liked this - but only in terms of setting and story. It falls short due to the mess. Here - let me show you something.

Quoted Text
When Bea looks up, the lady is gone and a man is unshackling her. He puts a dark bag over her head and her world goes black that instant.

She is dragged.

A short distance away he stops dragging her. The bag is
pulled from her face. Candles adorn the room all around.
There is a big cross hanging on one wall. In front of the
cross is a large stone table. She is again dragged. Once
reaching the table, the man hoists her up on the table
binding her hands and feet at opposite ends of the cold stone table. She lays on her back bound.

In walks the Pastor himself of the Church. The very Pastor
that accused her of witchcraft! He is followed by two other
men dressed in dark coats and facial masks resembling those
from an old masquerade ball.

Now, cut this :

Quoted Text
When Bea looks up, the lady is gone and a man is unshackling her. He puts a dark bag over her head and her world goes black that instant.

She is dragged.

A short distance away he stops dragging her.
The bag is
pulled from her face. Candles adorn the room all around.
There is a big cross hanging on one wall. In front of the
cross is a large stone table. She is again dragged. Once
reaching the table,
the man hoists her up on the table
binding her hands and feet at opposite ends of the cold stone table. She lays on her back bound.

In walks the Pastor himself of the Church. The very Pastor
that accused her of witchcraft!
He is followed by two other
men dressed in dark coats and facial masks resembling those
from an old masquerade ball.

Now, the grammar, some CAPS and one minor adjustment or two and you might end up with something close to this:

Quoted Text
When Bea looks up, the lady is gone and a CREEPY MAN unshackles her. He puts a bag over her head.


Creepyman rips the bag off an unconcious Bea. Candles adorn the room all around. A big cross hangs on one wall. Before them : a large stone table.

Creepyman hoists her up on the table.
Binds her hands and feet at opposite ends of the table.

Pastor Cunningham walks in. Two other men, dressed in dark coats and masquerade ball masks, follow him.

Note that if you really wanted to, Creepyman can also take off the bag AFTER he puts Bea on the table. Bea does not struggle; therefore she must be knocked out.

So you might be wondering why cut out what I suggest. Good questions. Here's answers.

- Once Creepyman puts the bag over her head, it is safe to assume that "her world goes black". Therefore, you don't need it.

- What is a "short distance away"? Next room? Next house? Since there was no slug, "short distance" means what? But it is clearly a new location, or an old one redecorated. If it is "a short distance" why bother with the bag? Creepyman (that's what I call him not to be confused with the other two that show up) can simply knock her out and carry her.

So the description sounds like a new room/place. WE, the readers can safely guess how Bea got there. The specifics aren't too important; we know she was brought there by the Creepyman.

- It isn't needed to write that Bea "lays on the cold table". Creepyman has already tied her up on the table. It is thus assumed that Bea is lying down on the table. You can't show us the table is cold either. We also already know it's stone.

- About the names. "Bea Clevanger" should just be Bea; Pastor Cunningham should be Pastor Cunninham or simply Cunningham. This elimates the line "the same Pastor that accused her of witchcraft!" - we already know it's the same person.

Later on, Cunningham says Bea has the Mark Of The Beast. Instead of 666, she only has "witch" carved into her (presumably by Cunningham)

I would like to see/ read this again when you cleaned it up a bit.

Best of luck,
Posted by: Breanne Mattson, October 18th, 2011, 9:38pm; Reply: 11
Iím seeing itís and its mixed up in probably more than half the scripts Iíve read.

This is way over described. Iím usually one of the more lenient in that regard but you devote three or four lines just to dust coming off horses.

You need to break up your description and work on ways to infer things rather than tell us every little move that characters make.

For all the opening description, you donít describe your characters in any way.

I see potential here. I think the writer will write something pretty good one day. For now, this script needs some work. Not a bad effort, though.

I like that youíre willing to go to uncomfortable places. A little more character development is needed to balance it out, though.

Good luck with rewrites.

Posted by: greg, October 18th, 2011, 10:07pm; Reply: 12
I really liked this, but the format makes it really hard to read.  Most of these bulky paragraphs can be condensed down into a line or two.  I skimmed over most of them and still got the gist of what was going on.  

I would have liked to see more initial tension between Bea and Orillia.  I just think the whole "ghost appears out of nowhere and they become fast friends" thing is played out beyond belief.  I'd like to see some more conflict between those two.

But I did like the story.  Just clean it up.

Nice job.

Posted by: Sandra Elstree., October 19th, 2011, 7:20pm; Reply: 13
This was quite a stunning read for me. I saw and felt everything. And, despite any lashing you may get for being out of "form", I still say, this was stunning. And, I must say, in my life, as a teen, (and as an adult) I have had a couple of close brushes with individuals, one, (in Vancouver when I was 16) who could have taken my life. But for some reason, I was let go. Jordon? You around? Do you or your parents remember the Clifford Olsen cases?

I was picked up by him on Marine Drive. I was waiting at the bus stop, but as a kid, I was never afraid; so I got in the car. I now know he had probably rented it from the airport rentals in Richmond. It was a big car. I remember hearing the locks click. He took me close to where I (had lived at my Grandma's on Fraser St. close to Moberly school) and parked. He reached his hand over and placed it on my thigh and slid it upwards to the unmentionable place.

I was really really scared, but as cool as a cucumber. I said something to the affect, "Why don't we get together. And something like, "What do you see in a girl like me?" Because I had braces at the time. Anyways, I did not try and fend him off. I think I talked, but I can't remember what exactly. I don't know, but about something. And I think we kissed. And he knew one of my "missions" for that day was to go to the unemployment office. And he let me go.

When I got out of the car, and walked down the street towards Fraser and then to my Grandma's, I spit! And I was so overcome. I still can't believe what happened. Wow. This is getting long, but it's on my chest. And I still think of it. How I was spared.

So when I read a script like this, although my experience wasn't as graphic, I can feel that "element of evil". Perhaps, that's why when I write, I struggle with that. Trying to loosen out that which has occurred and find meaning in it. I think Clifford Olsen wanted a "struggle" and because I wasn't struggling, that's why he let me go.

So, with that...

I say, keep writing.



On this script...

Wow, this makes my hard "R" rating look like Family Entertainment.
Posted by: rc1107, October 20th, 2011, 8:37pm; Reply: 14
Not too sure if anybody mentioned it, but this one's a little bit overwritten.  :-)

Not too pound a point home, but the descriptions could use a little separation.  It's all cluttered.  Breaking it up some and cutting the excess off, would help you tell your story a little better.

For instance, when you say 'Not far from the tree, hanging on a black iron poll along a deserted road, a sign reading ďWelcome to BarwickĒ swings back and forth.  The only sounds are the wind and the creaking of the old metal sign swinging in the windy night.'  Whoowhee that's a large mouth full.  Plus you say the same thing in the two sentences.  You can simplify it into one.  All you really had to say was 'The wind clangs a metal 'Welcome to Barwick' sign back and forth.'  It's the same exact thing, except in 12 words instead of 44 words.  And there's a lot of examples in the story that do that.

The story isn't bad, but the huge blocks of repetition kept on taking me out of the story.  

It was still pretty decent work given a week.  It just needs brushed up a bit.

- Mark
Posted by: leitskev, October 22nd, 2011, 11:02am; Reply: 15
Hey writer

Was excited to see 1692. I grew up not far from Salem, and recently discovered that where I currently live was at the center of the scare. In fact, I possibly live on land of one of the witches, certainly within less than a mile anyway. If you plan on expanding this and have any questions about the area, feel free to PM me.

The story begins effectively, though overwritten. I think you got the details mostly right. Some things anyway. I'm no country boy, but I don't think a team of horses is called a "herd". And I'm pretty sure the rifle was not invented til the 1800s. But we understood the points, so no big deal.

I'm not sure what was going on with the makeup. That kind of thing needs to be explained, I think. I don't even know what was around for makeup in those days. Probably powders and rouges in the royal courts.

The raping and the seed stuff doesn't really work for me.

I would reconsider the part at the end where the witch says just follow the path into the woods to the house at the end. This area, and I know you didn't say Salem, but her area would be similar, was all paths and woods. Maybe you could have a crow lead the way, or something.

A nice, easy story to follow. Work on making your description clearer, and I expect to see good stuff from you!

rifle not invented in 1692
Posted by: SpecialAgentDaleCooper, October 23rd, 2011, 11:26am; Reply: 16
"The horses pull at the reins and make horse noises."

This could be phrased so much less redundant and awkward. I'm not sure why this stood out so glaringly to me - but so much of the opening descriptions need some TLC.

Bea also would not have said, "Who's there?" in that time. Contractions weren't big during the late 17th century. The dialogue needs some work to cater to the setting. You have more contractions later, and one of your characters says, "Yeah," which is also a big no-no.

I also think the make-up to be somewhat anachronistic, particularly considering the Puritan nature of the settlers - at most, there were powders and lip color; not lipsticks and eyeliner.

Orillia was, additionally, mentioned to have been burned alive...and yet, you later describe her as being bruised and scarred. That's bothersome. Someone burned to death wouldn't be especially bruised...nor would they have had time to scar. Take another look at that bit of description.

You missed FADE OUT at the end.

Pretty decent work, considering you had a week to write it, but I wish you'd run spellcheck or double-checked your grammar at the very least. The dialogue, again, is the real killer - in addition to several other anachronisms.

Posted by: rdhay, October 24th, 2011, 8:52pm; Reply: 17
I like the story, but I have to admit that I saw the first page and decided to skim through the huge paragraphs. I'm sure everyone else has mentioned that you need to break up the paragraphs and cut the unfilmables (or anything that you just don't need). Other than that, I think this story has real potential.

The only let-down for me was that the ghost wasn't very misunderstood. I think making her appear evil right up until the very end would have added tension and the sense of foreboding.

Good effort on this. I'd love to read the rewrite:)
Posted by: albinopenguin, October 24th, 2011, 8:58pm; Reply: 18
tried to get through this one, but it proved a bit too difficult. a quick piece of advice that i don't think anyone else has mentioned. make sure you stay consistent with each character's dialogue. LILA has an accent at the end of her conversation with Bea but not throughout it.

needs a lot of work, but would be happy to read the rewrite. good luck with it.
Posted by: Pale Yellow, November 2nd, 2011, 1:28pm; Reply: 19
My first try at screenwriting and I'm learning. :) Thank you to all who read and reviewed this newbie short.

Today I hashed out a rewrite of my owc. I shortened all the descriptive prose-like paragraphs, tried to describe my characters better, cut a lot out, took out the rape scene, fixed as many formatting issues as possible and ended the story with a TWIST which wasn't in the first one.

I hope that when the rewrite is posted, some will read and review it for me.

Thanks again for all of your comments.
Posted by: leitskev, November 2nd, 2011, 1:38pm; Reply: 20
Let us know when it posts. I'll look, and we'll twist Jeff's arm. You might have to send him Jaeger.
Posted by: Pale Yellow, November 2nd, 2011, 2:34pm; Reply: 21
LOL Always have a fresh supply of jaeger :)
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