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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Scripts  /  No Cure For Regret
Posted by: Don, June 16th, 2013, 9:27am
No Cure For Regret by Robert L. McBride - Short, Drama - When a faith driven man has a dream, his weary wife is tasked with bringing it to pass. 11 pages - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: Loulou, June 16th, 2013, 10:28pm; Reply: 1
Hey there Robert,

I really dig the premise of this story. I almost expected something truly miraculous to happen and was surprised by the down ending (which is not a bad thing).

*SPOILERS*

I would be interested to know if you crafted the character of Erica along saint like qualities to add to the religious theme? For me, I didn't really get why she would go so far as to give birth to her rapists baby for her husband. Perhaps we need to see more of how much she really, really loves him. For me, that would be the only plausible reason why a woman would do that for a man.

Other than that, it was a good read. Well, executed and kept me interested.

Lou
Posted by: pale yellow, June 17th, 2013, 9:12am; Reply: 2
Hey Robert...

I really like this. Some of the dialogue could use some work. Typos here and there..no biggie though. One question I have....is why have the baby or even say the baby has Angelmans? It's bad enough he lost his wife but now he has a baby with AS? I don't know....some people won't know what Angelmans is...and I'm not sure it does anything more for the story. Overall I liked the irony in it. I loved the VOs...some may not agree but I thought it did the story well.

Great job.

D
Posted by: Stefan007, June 17th, 2013, 10:53am; Reply: 3
Robert,
Great story! The twist at the end works well. However I think Erica is a bit two dimensional. She comes close to challenging Paul earlier in the script but becomes a complacent character. You setup the potential for some good conflict with the idea of Paul expecting Erica to carry a child after being brutally assaulted. You can really dig deep into both characters here. In my opinion this is the meat and potatoes of the story. Erica sums up her purpose as,
ERICA (V.O.)
It was my time. I knew it was. I
didn’t want to live here anymore.
So that’s why I didn’t fight it. I
guess I did what I was put here
for: to give Paul all he could
want. And that’s what I did our
whole relationship and I regretted
it. And I believe God knew I
couldn’t live with those regrets.
And I feel that it’s a bit convenient. If you address Erica and her feelings make her a person and not just a secondary character that supports plot points, this story could go from good to a great short story. Just a few thoughts.
Stefan
Posted by: Chongamon, June 17th, 2013, 12:22pm; Reply: 4
Hey, Robert.

I really liked this. It satisfied everything I want in a good short.

I think the voice over at the end could be left out or shortened. I think it would be cool if you just cut it out and kind of obscured the ending.

I thought the break in was kind of random. It seemed like the attacker had planned this, instead of it being a random home invasion. Maybe have the Attacker take some valuables. Also, I would have the Attacker armed with something, a knife works. Another minor detail, how did Paul not feel the leftover "effects" of rape? Her torn shirt, blood on the bed, the semen from the Attacker, broken door, signs of struggle? I would think she would be too traumatized to move. Like I said, these are very minor things.  

Overall, a good story with dark themes.
Posted by: RobertMcBride, June 19th, 2013, 9:08pm; Reply: 5
Everyone, thank you so much for reading -- I greatly appreciate it.
Thanks for your suggestions, after reading these and feedback from others this may become a series that ties in together -- think "Crash" or "The air I breathe"

Actually, the story isn't about Erica. It's more about Paul and him learning to live with regret. That's why The baby has Angelmans syndrome
Posted by: Dreamscale, June 20th, 2013, 9:06am; Reply: 6
Robert, I haven't read the script yet, but the logline seems to have an issue.

"...bring it to past." - ?????  HUH?

I'll check out the script ASAP.
Posted by: StevenClark, June 21st, 2013, 4:26am; Reply: 7
Robert,
You have it a couple times in the story, as well.  It should be "bringing it to pass."  

I was intriqued by this as i'm working on a feature about a man of God.  Paul's unbridled enthusiasm and faith is just setting him up for disappointment. However, I think if the baby was healthy Paul would have still had to live with regret.  Perhaps even more so.

One of the characteristics of Angelman Syndrome is a "happy demeanor," and "frequent laughter" or "smiling."  This is in stark contrast to what Paul might have to endure as time goes on.  Yet, it's similar to Paul's enthusiastic demeanor.  A major dose of irony.  That was well thought out.  It 's just sort of a  bummer.  I think maybe his wife dying would be regret enough.  Just a thought.
Best of luck with this!
Regards,
Steve
Posted by: SilvaSly104, July 5th, 2013, 4:40am; Reply: 8
Hi Robert

Vey nice plot you have woven here. I do have to admit, I was sort of hoping the attacker and Paul had something of a connection...would have truly added a freaky twist to the plot, but the story served it's purpose well. I would suggest skimming through the screenplay again to fix some errors in dialogue, but other than that, great work :)

-Silva Sly-
Posted by: Nomad, July 5th, 2013, 3:13pm; Reply: 9
Robert,

Some of the dialogue isn't believable.  There's no reason a doctor would need to tell a woman in her 30's that, "...without ovulation, you can't get pregnant."  Most women know this.

The use of unfilmables bothers me.  The entire description of Paul is all unfilmable.  I'd rather see these traits in his actions or through items he surrounds himself with.

I prefer "continuous" or "cont." instead of "same" when describing the time.  That just what I'm used to and it reads smoother to me.

No need to type, "WE FADE TO BLACK..."  Just type, "FADE TO BLACK." for the transition.

Also there's no need to type, "We're in--"  The slugline tells us that we're in the bedroom.

What's with the use of all the "--"?

Page 6.  "--it's adds a little light." Typo?

A doctor would never say, "I don't know how to say this to you but..."  

My wife works in the Emergency Room at a busy hospital.  She and the doctors know exactly how to tell someone that their loved one has died.  It's not easy but it's a lot better than saying, "Gee this is awkward, um...you know how your wife was alive when you came in?  Well..."

Jordan
Posted by: RobertMcBride, July 8th, 2013, 12:39pm; Reply: 10
THank you all again. If you see any typos please point them out.

Jordan, thank you for reading... Plenty of produced features have "unfilmables" and those scripts are praised as GREATNESS, even win Academy Awards. I just write what's free to me. I like to break the rules at times, that's what works for me. I have my own style and it comes across well.  Thanks for the point out on Page 6...
Posted by: RobertMcBride, July 8th, 2013, 12:52pm; Reply: 11
THERE IS A PART 2... Different story BUT it all intertwines later on...
Posted by: Colkurtz8, July 24th, 2013, 5:08am; Reply: 12
Robert

Page by page notes

“This is PAUL FRANCE (30’s). He’s a hopeful guy -- faith
driven -- no such things as coincidences to him -- only
divine assignment.”

- How are we supposed to glean all this by looking at him? Only describe what the audience, not the reader, can discern. Convey his character through what he says and does, not through his character description on the page.

PAUL
it’s going to come to past. Right?

- You mean “past” instead of “pass” right?

ERICA (V.O.)
God always spoke to Paul in
visions. And they always came to
past.

- I’m curious to know what these visions are that came true. Again, it should be “pass” instead of “past”.

“A PROPHET is laying hands on her
stomach, speaking “life” into her belly.”

- I’m confused as to the nature of this “Prophet” This isn’t just a normal service led by a Priest in a church then?

ERICA (V.O.)
Don’t get me wrong. I wanted a baby
-- I want one badly. I’ve tried for
seven years. For SEVEN YEARS I did
all that was required to increase
my chances and still no luck.

- I dunno, girl, with the religious fanatic you have for a husband I’d be thinking twice about raising a family with him.

PAUL
No problem, we can go rest.

- Don’t mean to joke but is English his first language?

PAUL
Get thee behind me Satan!

- Ha, I had to laugh at this although I dunno if it was your intention. Love the song though, only became familiar with the Ella Fitzgerald version lately through watching “The Master.”

ERICA (V.O.)
You would think that I’d despise
This

- Scared/wary of him more like.

The AIDS reveal is pretty left of field, didn’t see that coming. I wonder though could you tell us through visuals rather than just telling us in a V.O.?

“Great Aunt Bernice passes out in her seat.”

- That could be an interesting visual actually. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone on screen pass out on their seat like that.

It’s a good scene too, to your credit the twist on page 4 has answered some of my queries during the previous three pages.

I would consider interspersing Erica’s lengthy V.O at the top if page four with the subsequent scene at the doctor’s.

The story has picked up considerably by page 6. However, with the title in mind, I’m already sensing how this is going to play out. Let’s read and see…

I thought the scene at the bottom if page 6 might be a call back to page one, that all the preceding scenes with V.O. were a flashback to this point again…but I was mistaken ;) Might be an idea to entertain all the same.

“Out of nowhere Paul starts rejoicing. Jumping up and down.
Thanking and Praising God”

- Sh?t, this man has gone off the deep end!

ERICA (V.O.) (CONT’D)
... And the constant questioning
about this would keep it in the
front of my mind.

- 0dd phrasing here, reads strange. Should it not be “his” mind instead of “her”? Could be rewritten as:

“...And the constant questioning of this would forever dominate his thoughts”

Perhaps too fancy, I dunno, just a suggestion.

“Erica resting on the couch -- a wet rag on her forehead and
an ice pack on her pregnant belly. She fans herself with a
magazine. Miserable.”

- To be honest, my mind was going in a different direction in terms of how this would pan out but now that you’ve gone the pregnancy route its seems so obvious. Interesting direction to go nonetheless although I imagine others won’t be as slow as me.

ERICA (V.O.)
I was depressed. This is the worst
time of my life. I didn’t want this
-- I don’t want this.

- Rather clunky, you can do better.

ERICA (V.O.) (CONT'D)
I let him guilt me
into keeping the baby –

- Can’t believe I’m sticking up for the guy but this seems harsh on him.

ERICA (V.O.)
If this is a blessing then I’d
rather be cursed. Pregnancy’s been
nothing but tumultuous. Weak uterus
-- placenta previa -- a host of
other complications –

- This reads very wooden, very on-the-nose, we’re all guilty of it from time to time. I wouldn’t so strong with Erica’s woes regarding the baby. She’s coming across as more bitter then any of the more natural emotion I’d imagine a woman in her position would feel; fear, anxiety, self loathing.

Then again, what could I possibly know about what she’s going through, it’s a hellish situation.
“DR. BRIMHALL, tall, deep voice -- picture Batman in a white
coat.”

- An odd but amusing description.

DR. BRIMHALL
This was a very difficult pregnancy
for her. During the C-section, a
large part of her heart stopped
working...

- Is it just me or is there something rather unscientific about the phrase “a large part of her heart stopped working”? Just doesn’t sound like something a doctor would say.

DR. BRIMHALL (CONT’D)
Her heart just couldn’t
keep pumping blood.

- Don’t think he’d say it like this either.

DR. BRIMHALL
(a beat, his eyes say it
all)
She’s alive -- she made it.
She’ll... She has Angelmans
syndrome which –

- Interesting choice of condition, laden with symbolism. Is it too much perhaps? Either way, can it be detected so early?

Also, Paul doesn’t seem too concerned with the baby to the point of cutting the doctor off when he mentions her condition. Not how you’d imagine a God fearing person like Paul to react.

DR. BRIMHALL
Sorry Mr. France, we can’t allow
that.

- Just for now or indefinitely? If so, why not?

ERICA (V.O.)
It was my time. I knew it was. I
didn’t want to live here anymore.
So that’s why I didn’t fight it. I
guess I did what I was put here
for: to give Paul all he could
want. And that’s what I did our
whole relationship and I regretted
it. And I believe God knew I
couldn’t live with those regrets.

- So what are we to take away from Erica’s speech here? That she gave her life for Paul, acknowledges it now as being a mistake, a waste and has chosen death to relieve herself of misspent existence?

If so, whoa that’s bleak! And this is coming from someone who writes mostly pessimistic stuff. I wonder could there be some silver lining here? Does it have to be so unrelentingly tragic? Does Erica have to be s cynical, so spiteful of the haplessly oblivious Paul? Maybe think about reworking the newborn child aspect, could that be seen as a positive?

I thought we would see some closing shorts of Paul managing, or not, with the baby but I guess this wasn’t the kind of story you wanted to tell and that’s cool too. You won’t find no bittersweet endings ‘round ‘ere!

Themes aside, the writing is pretty solid format wise, nice and lean.  The plot is tightly constructed, plenty of twists and turns which ultimately surprised me by the end despite be thinking I had it rumbled early on so well done on that.

However, I wondered about the feasibility of the AIDS element and these apparent miracles happening at Paul's command. It felt such a big factor of events unfolding yet only loomed in the background to support Paul fanaticism before being largely forgotten about. For a vast leap of faith your expecting the audience to take it only takes up one explicit scene at the doctor's regarding Paul test results. Feels bolted on purely for convenience to justify certain characterisations. Just changing it to cancer would make it more believable. Something to think about.

The dialogue, particularly the V.O could well do with some tweaking, it knocks the wind out of the emotional impact inherently contained in the script’s scenario.. Although, I do think the V.O, as a device, works well within the context of said scenario.

Overall, not a bad job. The fact that I was encouraged to take some page by page notes (positive or negative) shows that I was, at least, engaged with the story. There’s potential here.

Regards

Col.
Posted by: RobertMcBride, August 29th, 2013, 7:57pm; Reply: 13
I know it's "golden rule" to only describe what the viewer can see BUT plenty of writers -- tarantino, Darabont, the great TONY GILROY -- describe things that the viewer can't see. No one says anything when they do it so why do we nitpick each other about it? It's part of writing -- well at least my style of writing.. and it works for me.
I don't want writers to box themselves in with these rules that it cripples the story. Be free but most importantly, BE YOU.

And I appreciate everyone who read it. Thank you
Posted by: oJOHNNYoNUTSo, August 29th, 2013, 8:59pm; Reply: 14

Quoted from RobertMcBride
I know it's "golden rule" to only describe what the viewer can see BUT plenty of writers -- tarantino, Darabont, the great TONY GILROY -- describe things that the viewer can't see. No one says anything when they do it so why do we nitpick each other about it? It's part of writing -- well at least my style of writing.. and it works for me.


Somewhere out there, is an answer of "you're right" and "duh".  Remember, you are writing a SPEC SCRIPT, and could come across pretentious.  These guys are established.  You need a reason to do it.

Ponder the two examples:

Bridget opens the envelope, a sizable amount of cash inside, enough to pay a bill or two.

Can you see it is enough to pay a bill or two? No, but that information could give the reader a sense of Bridget's need for the money.

A camp rests in the middle of a sweltering jungle.  Wondering why his shirt is drenched, Bruce, big dude with even bigger tits, drinks from his canteen.

Okay, maybe not a true unfilmable.  When you have old information from a previous sentence and you want to deliver emphasis on descriptors, you could easily put "hot and tired" in the noun phrase to get rid of the unfilmable, but you also want to give a comedic tone to your sentence.

Probably not the best examples, but the point is -- only do it when it you need and have a reason to.




Posted by: RussellDavis, July 21st, 2014, 7:48pm; Reply: 15
It's a good script. You need to go back and fix some typos. Also, you may want to change using some caps in dialog. You don't need to cap them. If they are important use italics instead. Some says underlining is fine. It really depends on how anal the person or company are about that stuff. You also don't need to use Cont'd either. It looks more clean. Overall, I think you have something good here.  
Posted by: JimiLamp, July 21st, 2014, 8:10pm; Reply: 16
Whoa. Didn't expect that. Nice job. A little hard to read at spots but I guess that's what your going for. Definitely felt for Erica. Paul not so much. But it worked.

Agree some of the dialogue could use a pass. But overall really nice writing. It was unexpected, different. Atypical. I can appreciate that.
Posted by: BenKelley, July 23rd, 2014, 7:32am; Reply: 17
Hi Robert,

Good read.  I like the use of V.O.  I like that the script is pretty dark, but I think the baby should be healthy at the end so there's more hope.  

It didn't work for me that he didn't notice she had been raped until the next morning; maybe that scene when he discovers should be when he walks in the night before, instead of him being in la la land lol.  

I'm not sure everything he says or does has to be God-related.  I understand that's the whole point with him, but it'd be clear even if it wasn't constant.

BEANS and ice cream??  lol
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