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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  February 2012 OWC  /  Blood Roots - OWC
Posted by: Don, March 3rd, 2012, 9:00pm
Blood Roots by 0 - Short - A young mother, schooled in the ways of witchcraft, rekindles her long-dormant power in order to save her family, but in the process releases a force that even she cannot control. - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: stevie, March 3rd, 2012, 9:41pm; Reply: 1
I think this is my fave so far. Nicely written, sparse but informative. Formatting is spot on

The only thing I can't see is stringing it out to make a feature. If you could end it somehow it would be a cool short.

Good job

Cheers stevie
Posted by: jwent6688, March 3rd, 2012, 10:07pm; Reply: 2
The writing here is tight, enviable, fucker! :-)

I feel you wrote this as a possible opening to a feature and as a complete short. It succeeds in both ways. Although, I felt the ending a bit rushed and this did seem like a bit of horror to me.

It did create intrigue. I wanted to know more about where her powers came from. Why Callie was calling to her when she was using them.

Have there ever been paranormal studies that offer this kind of reward? Serious question, I've never heard of them. Jane seems to know she's breaking some rules by doing this.

Again, why this succeeds as a short and a feature opener. Not everything is explained and could be further down the road. At the same time, it stands pretty good on its own leaving the audience to question many aspects of the script.

Good entry, Definitely up there.

Posted by: Felipe, March 3rd, 2012, 10:46pm; Reply: 3
This is one of the stronger scripts I've read here so far. It's an interesting start.

My biggest problem with it is that it feels like it stalls too much. I didn't really seem like the first scene was necessary. All we really need is for her to get to her mom's place and say they lost the house. As it stands it's redundant for her to tell her mom that when we already saw it happening. You should take some more time introducing us to the characters rather than showing us the day they lost their house. Especially since the eviction wasn't that dramatic of a scene.

The dialogue seemed a bit on the nose at some points, but definitely not in a distracting way. You're onto something here. Good luck!
Posted by: nawazm11, March 3rd, 2012, 11:38pm; Reply: 4
Nicely done, great writing on display here. Didn't have to re-read anything.

Can really see this happening, a lot of originality. Wonder where you'll take this.

One of my favourites so far, Excellent job.
Posted by: leitskev, March 3rd, 2012, 11:45pm; Reply: 5
Entertaining writing that keeps us moving on the pages. Scripts may be blueprints for movies, but they need to be read first, and it helps a ton when a writer can craft things that are enjoyable to read.

opening image: hmm, tough call. It certainly is perfectly effective at establishing the protag's situation. From that perspective, very nice. However, feature films usually are looking for something memorable, something evocative or gripping as an opening image. A family sitting around a room with suitcases? I don't know, maybe, since it has some emotional power, painting a picture of desperation. If you do take this all the way to feature development, maybe consider if a more memorable image could be created. Consider how you would describe this image in a pitch to someone.

tone: I think this succeeds in that, as we get to the mother witch soon enough. Though I'm not sure what the writer's intent is, so maybe can't evaluate until seeing the rest of the script, but for now, I'd say you hit that nail pretty effectively.

main character intro: we got what I think are 2 mains here, Callie and Jane. We have a sense of the friction between the two of them, that's well done, builds future conflict, explains some of the current predicament Jane's in. I do think Callie needs a little more color, since this script is very, very short on colorful characters. I expect Callie will be colorful, so why not give a taste in her intro? You only get one chance at a first impression.

theme and debate are not touched on yet, that I can tell.

Two issues I had: one is the skeptical researchers. I don't think it works that way. There are skeptics that offer rewards, but they don't have the funding to maintain a lab and a staff where people are tested, just to prove they are cheaters. That just doesn't make any sense. But you could change that without effecting the story. These researchers should be like the real paranormal researchers in institutions like this. They look for miniscule examples of paranormal ability. So they would be blown away by her power.

Only problem with going this route is the reward. Institutions don't offer rewards. They pay a small stipend. Maybe it's not so easy to fix.

Think about how those people, the skeptics that offer rewards, really operate. Maybe research that. I would guess they have to set something special up when someone takes up the challenge. I don't know how it works. I just don't think it works like it is here.

The second and larger issue is Jane's sudden embracing of tremendous power. That lacks credibility. But I think it could be fixed with more development. I see where you're going. Jane resists using magic to better her life for some reason. Maybe it has to do with her mother. She resists this right up to being thrown out of her house with a baby and a kid. And then, in a lab where some guy offers a reward, she finally snaps and unleashes magical fury. I think there needs to be a much more convincing transition from refusing to use magic to save your house and family to suddenly unleashing hell because some guy refuses a reward.

Final observation: there is no antagonist. Will there be one? An antagonistic force at least? Or is Callie the antagonist? If she is, that's not quite clear. If Jane's main goal is the welfare of her family, then Callie is not a barrier to that. If Jane's main goal is separating herself from magic, then perhaps Callie is the main opposing force.

Is the moment when Callie unleashes the magic an inciting incident? It doesn't really feel quite like one. I mean, she went there to do magic. She has studied magic, it's part of her being. If our protag's beginning state is what will be changed, what is the change we can expect here, and how does the inciting incident, which may be coming soon, set her on that path to change?

I think this can be a fun story to read without these issues being addressed because of the quality writing. But for this to be the basis of a film, I think it will help to take account of these problems and potential problems. All in all, a good start, though.

Hope some of these suggestions help, because the writing is excellent, so I'm on board for the rest of the trip, wherever you take us!
Posted by: Penoyer79, March 4th, 2012, 12:13am; Reply: 6
this is what im talking about.

10 pages of tidy, concised writing.... that doubles as a short or the beginning of a much bigger story. clear protag in alex.... mysterious and intriguing backstory.... and a family trait that just may have been passed on to the youngins.

11 pages never seemed so easy to get through.

awesome job.
Posted by: MacDuff, March 4th, 2012, 12:41am; Reply: 7
This was a fun read. Very smooth and quick.

The writing is succinct, descriptive; the dialogue is strong and I liked the characters.

I had concerns about a test study paying out so much money based on paranormal experiments. And since this is the angle Jane goes with to earn money, I wonder why she hasn't tried other things and why she doesn't have a job in the first place.

Small things - especially for a tight timeline - but nothing that can't be cleared up in the next few pages.

No antagonist - but again - nothing that can't be introduced in the next few pages.

Good job!
Posted by: mcornetto (Guest), March 4th, 2012, 12:59am; Reply: 8
Good Logline.  Definitely has a story and it's intriguing.  And it got me to open your script.  

Inside was the delightful beginnings of what could be an interesting script.  Good characters.  Opening signal was clear that this was going to be a Charmed-like family drama. There wasn't that much story development yet but that's what the logline is for.

I have one suggestion and that would be to lead with the best foot forward.  There's no need for her to find the ad first, just start with Jane at the Institute.  Of course this might not work with how you are planning the story - but it's a stronger start than what you have atm.  You can always do the stuff with the book after that but you want to make sure that you hook people and that scene is not just a good scene -- it's a great scene.

Hope you continue to write this. It will be a fun script to read.    
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 4th, 2012, 1:40pm; Reply: 9
Yeah...I like this.

The writing on display here is good, but appears to be rushed, probably a late, last minute entry, even, but it's from a good writer...that's for sure.

The story works for these 10 pages, and could indeed go into a feature, but I'm not 100% sure it has the legs.  Actually, these 10 pages could easily be reduced to 8, IMO, as there seems to be some clutter that doesn't accomplish anything.

Actually, I thought the first page was quite dull, and I mean the writing and what was being intro'd. Personally, if this is indeed going to be a feature, I think a few things need to happen - first, we need a much better intro of Jane and her family.  And secondly, I think the whole demonstration at the institute needs more detail and "time".  It feels kinda like the writer thought he or she needed to get this in the first 10 pages...wanted to end with this demonstration of power.

Don't get me wrong, I do like it and think it's 1 of the top 5 of the first 18 I've read.

Good job here!
Posted by: Felipe, March 4th, 2012, 1:44pm; Reply: 10
I just want to add that I like Michael's suggestion of starting at the institute.
Posted by: wonkavite (Guest), March 4th, 2012, 2:07pm; Reply: 11
Neat!  I like where this is going.  Not sure if there's enough "meat" in here for a full length - and it's certainly not complete at ten pages.  But what I read had me interested.  I cared about the characters, and didn't have a bored moment.  Kudos...  :)))  Maybe this one would be best as an extended short?
Posted by: Reef Dreamer, March 4th, 2012, 2:40pm; Reply: 12
Title - decent. The feeling of legacy and it's  consequence.

logline - again decent, well structured, balanced with a sense of how can she control this. Good work.


I know who you are...ok I don't but I have a feeling, time will tell. I'll bet myself a fiver.

Apart of well written, this has a nice flow to it. Cause and effect throughout. I think the criticisms above are fair, but you can't fail the decent display here.

Suggestions (sorry I haven't been through all the others so may repeat)

1) let her consider the decision before they are kicked out - such as an old book in a removal box. Sow the question/tension, scene one. Maybe that's where the boy first sees it and starts to ask his gran.
2) personally I would reverse the tension with her mother. Her mother wants her to stay, to show the family the "ways" but she wants to get out quickly. She just wants to do something on the sly, plus we have more for her to leave.
3) institute - how about a vetting procedure before they can take part. It doesn't  form true proof but gets her in the door and shows us what's it all about. This can be followed by a debate, does she or doesn't she - we don't have that debate and for a feature I think you should.

Good start, tidy writing just needs a tweak, but which one doesn't.

All the best.
Posted by: Abe from LA, March 5th, 2012, 6:11am; Reply: 13
One of my favorite reads thus far.
I do agree with others regarding the first page and the slow, eviction scene.
Maybe just have Jane and the kids show up on Callie's door steps.
We'll get the message.
I think the introduction of the book can be re-worked to more effectiveness.
What if Callie tells Alex a story, then backs into the book.  Something to hook him.
The institute scene I like, however, I also think the reward is far too much.
The sum should be just enough to get her back on her feet.
Or maybe the lure of the money is what the institute people use as leverage to get more from Jane.
It seems this institute could harbor a hidden agenda.  Why pay somebody so much money just to find
somebody with this gift/power.
They want more... maybe you are headed in this direction.  they could be your antagonist.
I think you have enough for a feature.
1) Alex developing a keen interest into the family past, thanks to Callie.
2) Jane's need to earn money for the family, and to get away from Callie's control.
3) The institute and whatever they might represent beyond the innocent "testing."

Great writing, by the way.  I loved the fast read and the flow.  I can see a feature in your future here,
should you decided to run with it.

Good luck.
Posted by: Forgive, March 5th, 2012, 8:01am; Reply: 14
Congrats on the entry.

Read very well, but I was a little unsure about some of the dialogue - description writing appeared to be better to me.

I like the tone and pace of the story, feels right for the context.

Might have been an idea to go back to Callie & Alex after Jane's intro to Dr Walcott? JMO.

Yeah - I liked this - Jane's really flawed and there's a lot more to know about her - I like Carrie's supporting role, the conflict between the Dr's; the Alex line will be developed, so lots going on - and it's been developed really well - use of available time on the paper very efficient.

Cleanly written, gets to the point - there's lot to be developed here. And I do think the dialogue improved as we went along (took notes as I read...).

Good stuff - one of the best IMO.
Posted by: CoopBazinga, March 5th, 2012, 8:02am; Reply: 15
I enjoyed this one, the writing is excellent and it's definitely from an experienced member, good stuff.

I liked the institute scene, think you executed it well but would have liked to have seen more of the family element before moving the story there. We seemed to get there too soon IMO.

I do like the idea of the institute being the antag, think that could play out well and even go further into something like a “Heroes” type story.

On another note, this could easily be turned into an excellent short, something to think about if you have no plans on going on with a feature.

I wish I had more to offer but this is clearly from someone who knows what they’re doing. I have a feeling this was a one off and the author has no plans on taking this further...could be wrong of course? I normally am.

Congrats on completing the OWC. :)

Posted by: Electric Dreamer, March 5th, 2012, 11:43am; Reply: 16
Congrats on getting something ready for the OWC.

P. 2
Awkward phrasing for me...
eats from a bag of potato chips
What’s wrong with just... “eats potato chips”?

P. 6
Feels a tad plot convenient this facility is so accessible.

P. 8
Jane’s explanation here clunks for me...
We’re talking about a visual experiment, try to got that route.

It all feels a bit too contrived for me.
I appreciate moving the plot along...
But I didn’t get a strong sense of character.
And the scientist exposition slowed down the read some.

Posted by: leitskev, March 5th, 2012, 6:45pm; Reply: 17
An idea:  the institute is run by those who are seriously interested in the paranormal. Whether they are more academic, or more just a group that's into it is an option.

However, the have a running deal with one of the skeptics who is willing to put up a big reward if they find someone who seems to be real.

So she gets there, and does some little thing. This convinces them to call the skeptic, and she's told she has to pass his test for the reward.

This would create an interesting dynamic in the room. You have researchers who want to believe, and are excited to have maybe seen the real thing. And you have the skeptic who is determined to prove them all wrong. Conflict would fill the air of that room.

Would be a small adjustment, would allow tension to build. This might better explain the outburst by Jane when it comes.

Good script. Just an idea. And a bump.
Posted by: grademan, March 5th, 2012, 7:50pm; Reply: 18

Congrats on a string of comments with positive vibes.

I liked this too.

I think the closing line should be spoken by the woman who�s been pestering Jane. Jane can have the visual of looking justified.

Also consider having Callie try to intervene.

Posted by: greg, March 6th, 2012, 1:24am; Reply: 19
I enjoyed this.

Solid read all around.  Would definitely continue.  Liked the subtle approach you took to the witchcraft but also liked that it felt like a show that would air on the Sci-Fi channel or something.  

Not much else to say.

Very nice job.

Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 6th, 2012, 5:33pm; Reply: 20

BLOOD ROOTS is a bloody good short and with additional work and research would make a bloody good movie.

First off I always enjoy works that are based on reality and that challenge (maybe someone remembers the name) is a real one.

Now I'll just mention a few things. If I really went over it heavily I know there would be more, but let's forget about most of that right now.

The intro needs attention.

You have Jane stroking her hair, but then you say she’s holding her baby. I doubt she’d be stroking her own hair; rather, she’d be stroking her baby. At the very least, the baby should be introd at the same time because MARLENE, the little one would be in the same shot pretty much.


>Jane turns her head, not surprised in the slightest.

Change to

Jane turns her head, unfazed.


>The door opens and Jane steps out.

*Splice it.

*Watch out for:

Jane Hobbs?

Jane nods.

***You might be getting giggles when you don’t want them.

Page 2

**Is it

Who is it?

>JANE (O.S.)
It’s me, Mom.

**Or, is it:

>JANE (O.S.)
Mom, it’s me.

**I think choose the latter.

Well done on this challenge!!!  :) :) :)


Posted by: Grandma Bear, March 8th, 2012, 1:26pm; Reply: 21
This is my favorite so far! Good dialogue especially by Jane. Good and intriguing story that ends leaving me wanting more. Congratulations on an excellent job!

Page 2 of. Seems a little weird to me that Callie would not now that Jane had been close to losing the house for some time. Unless they hardly ever speak to each other course, but if they don't then it is also weird that Jane will go to her house and expect to stay there.

Page 4. Not that it really matters, but it helps forming a picture of the receptionist if I knew what gender the person is.
Posted by: alffy, March 8th, 2012, 4:04pm; Reply: 22
My favourite so far.  

Nicely written and good story that could by expanded to a feature.  Not really anything else to say as I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

Well done, great work.
Posted by: dbailey, March 8th, 2012, 4:34pm; Reply: 23
Great writing on display, this flowed well for me and was effortless to get through.  I know most are advising against the intro, but I really liked it - I thought it painted the right picture of desperation and set the tone.

I also like the line "They stare into each other" which really summed up the relationship between the mother and daughter.  If you do decide to continue, I'm curious what their dynamic will be.  Callie clearly seemed able to sense Jane's magic and seemed none too happy about it.

Again, great job.  Entries like this almost make me glad I couldn't complete my own entry in time.  Almost ;)

Posted by: irish eyes, March 8th, 2012, 7:10pm; Reply: 24
Excellant job... One of my favorites.

It flowed very easily and your dialogue and descriptions where excellant.

It could easily be a short or the beginning of a feature.

well done

Posted by: ReneC, March 9th, 2012, 11:59am; Reply: 25
Excellent entry, this one moves to the head of the pack. Deftly written with a sure hand, a compelling story, great characterization, solid dialogue...this one covers all the bases and feels like the start of a feature.

A small stumble on page 8, Jane's dialogue slips out of character and into exposition. Too much is said about her ability, she's reluctant to be there and isn't interested in educating anyone at that point. She's going to stick to the bare minimum to get the money.

I'd definitely keep reading. Good luck with it!
Posted by: leitskev, March 10th, 2012, 6:48pm; Reply: 26
I began my re-reading process thinking I would probably vote for this to break the tie, but I had to at least give Sinister and Secret, other favs, a chance. I can't vote for M & M. I have to say, Secret impressed me. Now time for some Blood. Next up, Sinister.

I had two problems on first read: flat characters, and the Institute. Let's see how I felt in second read, and whether these problems can easily be fixed if the story continues.

The Institute of Scientific Skepticism still troubles me. BUT...I have another solution to propose. You're gonna like this one! And hey, maybe it's already what you have in mind, but this one will help if you don't.

The problem with this institute is it's hard to conceive of where the money comes from. I mean, who would fund something like that? The reward, the office, the secretary, the scientists.  It just doesn't make sense.

Unless...drum roll...someone knows there are witches out there, needs them for a certain purpose, and has set this trap in order to get them to reveal themselves.

Maybe George Soros wants to build a team of witches to do his bidding. He knows of their existence because they were chased out of Europe in WW II(in the Secret War). He has to find them, but they've gone deep under. So he sets traps like this hoping to draw them out.

The trap sprung, she gets away. But now George Soros has his men after her, and she must escape with her children. That could work out really, really well!

Ok, flat characters. Well, good writers sometimes build some color onto their characters after the bones are built. That could be easily done. And we're only 10 pages into this, so plenty of time to build characters in the coming pages.

I am a little unsure about Callie. I can buy that she has trouble with her daughter. But she's even willing to throw her little grandkids on the street. That makes her cold. Which is fine, if that's her character. But she's in there reading to her grandkid and trying to connect him to his heritage. Something isn't quite fitting at the moment. But easy to fix on rewrite.

Excellent work. Onto Sinister, then maybe Cherry.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 10th, 2012, 11:23pm; Reply: 27

Quoted from leitskev

The Institute of Scientific Skepticism still troubles me. themselves.

Hello Kevin, I just wanted to put up this link because I knew about this challenge and had written it up in my crit, but I couldn't remember its name.

Thanks to Google, I've got it:

The thing I loved about Blood Roots was it took (whether the author realized or not) from real life.  :)


Posted by: leitskev, March 10th, 2012, 11:35pm; Reply: 28
Hey Sandra

I was well aware of Randi and his challenge. But he does not, as far as I know, maintain and office with a secretary. That was the part that troubled me. Randi does not have an Institute, I don't think. I'm not sure how you schedule a test, where it takes place, who covers the cost.

I'm glad you posted that because I couldn't think of his name. He is the guy I was thinking the writer should look into, see if it fits.

Do you like my idea above? That it's secretly funded by a guy who is trying to find the real witches? I thought that could be cool.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 11th, 2012, 12:22am; Reply: 29

Quoted from leitskev
Hey Sandra

I was well aware of Randi and his challenge. But he does not, as far as I know, maintain and office with a secretary. That was the part that troubled me. Randi does not have an Institute, I don't think. I'm not sure how you schedule a test, where it takes place, who covers the cost.

I'm glad you posted that because I couldn't think of his name. He is the guy I was thinking the writer should look into, see if it fits.

Do you like my idea above? That it's secretly funded by a guy who is trying to find the real witches? I thought that could be cool.

Whoah! Freak me out!!! That's what I was thinking in Real Counterfeit Witches... "What witch is going to be stupid enough to reveal themselves?" I took a bit of a comic tone in that short, but that's exactly how I felt. What would we do? We'd put out a lot of disinformation. Make ourselves look like idiots. Who is going to believe people that do such nonsense?! ...

I love your idea. There's a whole lot the writer of Blood Roots can work with here. I'd love to take a few of these scripts in this one OWC and create a mash up.  :)


Posted by: Mr.Ripley, March 11th, 2012, 1:16pm; Reply: 30
This is great. I don't have much complaints except maybe showing Alex finding the book and opening it. That will set his curiosity more.

Other than, good 10pgs.

Posted by: darrentomalin, March 12th, 2012, 9:39am; Reply: 31
I haven't had time to read into the OWC (and my entry shows the lack of time lol) so only managed to take in a couple. I had to give this a read due to its popularity and was glad I did.  I deffinitely want to read more of this! It's a blast!
Awesome foreshadowing as to the kid's later involvement.

The genre was a little unclear, it is reading like horror, the logline would suggest so.
The scientist that giggles when Jane mentions witchcraft; these scientists have already heard lots of claims and wouldn't be entertained by someone claiming to be a witch, probably tired of it by now, plus it came across as unprofessional so I'd take the giggle out (perhaps swap it for a roll of the eyes to understate the skepticism if it's important to story to show the character's derision),

Well done
Posted by: steven8, March 14th, 2012, 4:43am; Reply: 32
Excellent.  Just plain Excellent.  Not sure if this would be a full length script, but I certainly like these ten pages.  Not a single problem with any aspect of the writing.  It is all clear and concise.  Her demonstration of her powers then demanding the check was terrific!
Posted by: cloroxmartini, March 15th, 2012, 9:50pm; Reply: 33
First ten pages, yes. Yet I want the stakes to be higher for what she is stepping out for. Losing the home is passe. Set a higher bar.

Within the story there is the tragedy and I like how the mother goes after the challenge. But now ask what happens after she gets the check. There is your second and third act. Lots to cover with this set up.

Good, but set the bar higher.
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