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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Scripts  /  The Elements
Posted by: Don, March 19th, 2014, 5:23pm
The Elements by Marcello Degliuomini (Reel-truth) - Short, Drama - A man must fight for his survival during a harsh winter, deep in the wilderness. 7 pages - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: B, March 20th, 2014, 2:16am; Reply: 1
I really liked it.

My only gripe was I saw all the big moments coming.

But having said that I still really liked it.

Good S**t

Posted by: Dreamscale, March 20th, 2014, 9:59am; Reply: 2
Marcello, I wish I could be as enthusiastic as Blake, but I can't.

I read this last night and slept on how detailed I wanted to be.

The bottom line is that there are many mistakes on display of every kind and the writing itself isn't good, either.  The story is ridiculous, sorry to say.

Ah, man...I just don't want to spend the time going into great detail and piss you off at the same time, so I'm just going to mention a few things and hope they help you going forward.

Your Slugs are a disaster area all the way around.  Let's look at them in detail.  You start with "WINTER FOREST - DAY.  Is something technically incorrect here?  No, but this type of script begs for some details to ground it in reality, and you missed the easiest way to do that - by givng a detailed opening Slug so we know where the fuck we're supposed to be.  We've got a "large rare White tiger" walking around, as well as timber wolves, a crashed plane, and 2 dudes, who seem to be American.  Where are we?  Oh the Winter Forest.  Lay out exactly where we are when you open.  It won't cost you a single extra line, but your readers will have a much better understanding because of it.

From the Winter Forest in night, we go to a new classic Slug - "EXT. NIGHT".  Really?  Next, we go to "FOREST - MORNING".  This is supposed to be the same spot we began in, but you've changed the Slug - which you do not ever want to do - you need 100% consistency in your Slug use.

OK, from here, we go have 5 Mini Slugs of "LATER", which is too many and not accurate, based on what's happening onscreen.  Then, we go back to that new classic, "EXT. - NIGHT", followed by "EXT. - MORNING", and then 1 final, "LATER".  But, obviously, the scenes are changing and you've missed numerous Slugs throughout.

You're overwriting in many instances, underwriting in others, throwing in crazy details (the Ermine and white tiger), and then, in most instances, your writing just ain't good, bro.  I mean this over slowly and see how many immediate changes you make.

Please turn off the damn CONTINUED on the top and bottom of every page.

On top of all this, you have a 7 page script that would be literally impossible to film, unless you had at least $100,000 budget, which would never happen based on the script itself.

Sorry to be harsh, but there are just so many things wrong here.  Hope this helps and makes sense.
Posted by: NickSedario (Guest), March 20th, 2014, 10:42am; Reply: 3

Ditto ^

The dialogue's also very stiff.  Way too spot on.  Not believable.  Try using more subtext.  Say something without saying it.

Hope this helps.

I liked your comedy script I read some time ago.  The dialogue was much better.
Posted by: DV44, March 20th, 2014, 11:43am; Reply: 4
For what it was I actually enjoyed the story. A man survives a plane crash and is left to defend for himself. I have to agree with Jeff & Nick about the dialogue. A little stiff at times and I think it would be great if you could have included the size of Jeff & Bill. I say that because whose to say Jeff couldn't carried Bill if Jeff was a big man and Bill was small.

The sluglines need a little work. EXT. NIGHT -- one example that needs to change. Night is too vague. Give us a location.

I'm curious to know more about the white tiger. Was it dumb luck that the tiger helped Bill or did it symbolize something?

You have the story in place, just need to go back and do a rewrite and flesh out the errors and hopefully the story will shine.

Best of luck moving forward,

Posted by: Reel-truth, March 20th, 2014, 11:44am; Reply: 5

Glad you like it man. I was fallen into a pattern on my other shorts of always including a twist ending or big reveal.  I wanted this one to be different.


The slugs were a concern for me. Especially that winter forest opening slug. I was going to add a specific location. But I chose not to. I didn’t want to narrow it down to one specific region. I felt it wasn’t completely necessary in regards to the story.  I guess some people need to know exactly where the characters are.

I never really had too much problems with my slugs in any of my other shorts, for the most part. This one was different though. Since I had a few cut scenes., or small montage moments, whatever you call em', I did probably fuk up my slugs in this one. I even at on point went back and switched shit. So I know I wasn’t a hundred percent confident with those slugs. So I definitely agree with you on that.

I would appreciate an example on how the slugs could have been properly written.  All I know is, not to do it the way I just did it.

I had no idea the (CONT‘D) was on with celtx. I never changed anything. It was never ON in any of my other shorts. Definitely something I need to look into. Because I didn’t type that.

Now, as for my “crazy details” regarding the “Ermine” and the white tiger or just the overall story which you found ridiculous. Let me explain something. Both of those two animals were pretty much essential to the story. I’ll explain….

When coming up with this idea. I thought of a man trying to survive  the odds in the cold wilderness.  I  then came up with the title. “The Elements” Then thought for some reason on, the “Five elements”. Did a little research and came across something I found interesting in Wiki. I chose to include five elements from the Japanese philosophy. Not in there literal sense. Well actually, a few could have been double interpretation of them.

It goes like this.

Earth ---- Chi
Water ----- Sui
Fire ------Ka
Wind -----Fu
Void ----Ku

I chose to add the emotional aspect of these five elements.

Chi -- It is a desire to have things remain as they are. ( Bill does not want to move, he feels immobile.)
Sui -- Adaptability.( The ability for Bill to stand, strengthen his leg, kill, cook, and eat the Ermine for survival.
Ka--  Could actually be literal with the fire he made. Or, motivation  and desire. ( Bill’s resilience and desire to keep moving on even though he was in tremendous pain.)
Fu --  An open-minded attitude. ( Bill’s line…” I’m going home, I’m going home”)
Ku - Represents things beyond every day experiences. Also  power. The White tiger. The white tiger is well known in Japanese culture as being a symbol for power.

So as the story might have seemed ridiculous on the surface. The actual conception is deeper than it would appear.

As for the dialogue. I didn’t see anything that wrong with it. I only had like a half a page, maybe a page of actual dialogue. I guess to each is own.

I wasn’t planning on this one to be filmed to be quite honest. I mean shit, if you can find a  white tiger, theirs probably about 200 left on the planet and wrangle up two timber wolves…then maybe It’s This was just an exercise of writing.

I do appreciate the critique though.  Gotta’ work on those slugs for sure.

Thanks for the read guys
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 20th, 2014, 2:43pm; Reply: 6
Marcello, first of all, white tigers are only found in Assam, Bengal, Bihar, and Rewa.  Therse are all areas in and around India.  There have been unsubstantiated sightings in Siberia, but the reality of them there is unlikely.

So, you need probably both a SUPER, saying where this crash site is, as well as a better opening Slug, that mentions that, if you want your readers to know.

Also, having 2 Americans here probbaly needs to be addressed, as in what are they doing here?  Where were they going?  Do they know each other, or are they simply the only suvivors?  Their dialogue doesn't seem like they're very close.

As you move through a forest or any wild outside area, you really need to differentiate between the different areas,  You can use geographical info to do that, as in, "at a clearing", "near a dead tree", etc, or whatever.

You shouldn't ever use "NIGHT" or "MORNING" as a Slug, as it gives no info whatsoever, and really hurts the read.

The problems here are multiple, but in a nutshell, IMO, you should use your space more wisely on things that matter, like the relationship between the 2 characters.  The one guy who leaves and dies serves little purpose, as we know nothing about him.

Instead, you went into detail about the other guy ctaching and eating the little animal, when in reality, that stuff doesn't really matter.  Does this animal even live in India?  Are there really timber wolves in India?  When you give specific details, make sure it's accurate.

The dialogue just didn't ring remotely true. Nor did how the guy just pushes the compound fracture back and is able to hunt and walk all of a sudden.  Sure, we need to suspend belief at times, but in 7 pages, there isn't much time to do that and what we do get, makes that very difficult.

The symbolism and depth you noted is all great but doesn't come through here at all, sorry to say.  It's nice you thouight about this while writing, but if you want it to come through, you have to find a way so your readers are clued in.

Even the white tiger is a nice touch, if it was more beleivable, but the way you wrote about it, doesn't work, as you added silly descriptors that took away from any power you were striving for.

Hope that helps and again.  Hope you take this all the right way, as I know it may have souunded harsh, but my intention is to help.

Take care.
Posted by: Reel-truth, March 20th, 2014, 4:15pm; Reply: 7
In my head I did have it somewhere in Siberia. I read they’re were reports of sightings there.  Possible reports. But that doesn’t matter. It still could have been possibly true. As for the timber wolves…I might have got ahead of myself on that one. That was like a spur of the moment add in when writing. I liked the scene, so I kept it.

Oh I also know I spelled envelops…”envelopes”…Caught that after I posted. Figured I get that out of the way

I didn’t feel drowning the reader with background information on their flight plan and history between each other, and why they were there. I would have figured the reader would have picked up on the fact that there was a plane crash.

I appreciate the advice on those slugs. It helps.

About the guy who leaves and dies. I guess maybe I could have said they were brothers or something. But a brother probably wouldn’t have left his brother behind like that. And since the log line only states “A man”. The story wasn’t about the man who died. He actually didn’t serve much of a purpose, I agree. Maybe I could have taken him out completely.

It’s a little hard to get that 5 element message across in a 7 page short. Without just outright having the characters talk about it overtly.  I knew it wouldn’t have been picked up by the reader. I’ll admit it was a stretch. But it was almost impossible to clue in the reader about it, giving the context of the story. Should there have been a book in the snow that was found, entitled "The Five elements of Japanese philosophy". That would been too much.

Silly descriptions? Was the tiger on a unicycle? Did I compare him to Tony the tiger…lol. I get what your saying. Maybe you could have said "poor descriptions". It’s nice to know my descriptions are “silly” though.

Your critique does help man. And I don’t catch hard feelings.

Posted by: Dreamscale, March 20th, 2014, 6:33pm; Reply: 8
Marcello, here's what I meant about "silly" descriptions, but maybe silly was the wrong word.

"...large rare White tiger..."

"...this large beautiful white tiger..."

It may not seem like much or even remotely wrong, but using rare and large twice doesn't read well at all.  And then, using beautiful, to me, at least, is a big mistake.
Posted by: Reel-truth, March 20th, 2014, 8:47pm; Reply: 9
You’re right. Those are shitty descriptions. I don’t make excuses for my work. Whatever I post up is on me.  I wrote this in like a couple hours, a few day ago. It was actually my fastest short I’ve written to date. One draft, read it a few times, then posted. I guess I surprised myself that I got it all out of my head that fast,  that I didn’t really take the time to carefully look it and see how it all sounded.

But given the fact I’ve joined S.S and been taking this writing seriously since last summer, I do think I’ve progressed. No where near perfect,  still Longggg ways to go.

Vince Lombardi said it the best. …”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence".

-- Reel- Truth
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 21st, 2014, 9:20am; Reply: 10

Quoted from Reel-truth
Vince Lombardi said it the best. …”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence". -- Reel- Truth

Right on, Marcello...right on!  Love the attitude.

Posted by: Demento, March 21st, 2014, 10:04am; Reply: 11
I actually thought the dialogue was fine.

Action lines could use some work.

All in all, a solid effort.
Posted by: Guest, March 24th, 2014, 12:10am; Reply: 12
Dialogue needs work, but in my opinion, this could be an action driven script with no speaking words, and how cool would that be?  Jeff doesn't bring anything to the table.  Discard him.  Have Bill deal with this entire dilemma on his own.  Show, don't tell.  Plus, it'll help you immensely by getting rid of the weak dialogue.  And if you aren't so sure about your dialogue to begin with, if you think it sucks or you're iffy-iffy on it, keep your characters from speaking and instead have them commit an ACTION.  Actions speak louder than words.  It'll save you from looking like you can't write good dialogue, and, hopefully, make your scenes come across as more powerful -- helping you in more ways than one.
Like, for example, the part where the tiger comes out, chasing the wolves, and saving the day.  Bill says "thanks."  That's probably the worst part of this whole thing.  If you drop that line, the scene works ten times better.  It just comes across as goofy and silly how he reacts.  I'm sure the white tiger is probably a metaphor for something but I also think it's unusual that Bill isn't as afraid as he should be whenever this tiger is within his presence.  He's just been in a plane crash, everybody is dead, he doesn't know where the hell he is, plus he's severely wounded and bloody body parts and corpses are laying everywhere.  He's in a lethal situation with a lethal animal stalking circles around him.  I think he should have pissed himself at least once haha

Posted by: Reel-truth, March 24th, 2014, 1:07am; Reply: 13
This dialogue keeps getting brought up as being weak. Usually I agree with most of the insights here on the boards. You guys usually bring up some good points, things I miss or over look. But when it comes to the dialogue, I don’t feel that’s an area that I’m particularly weak at. So on this issue, I’m gonna ‘stick to my guns and what I feel sounds right. On that note, there is one paragraph of dialogue that I could see it being a tad bit weak. This one…

You’ll die if you stay. I cant
move. I wish I could, I just cant.
I don’t have the energy. And I cant
put pressure on this. But you can
go and find help. Do it now, while
we still have time.

Compared to the rest of the dialogue I can see where the flow of this portion of lines doesn’t fit with the rest. Still, not entirely bad. But out of all the dialogue, this would be the part I didn’t particularly feel comfortable myself. But I felt it was necessary to help illustrate why Bill couldn’t just up and leave with Jeff. So I didn’t scrap it.

As for that “ Thanks” line. The tiger was inches from his face the day before. Eye to eye. And he didn’t attack. Bill recognized that the tiger had no intent in harming him. If it did, he would have been devoured. So when the tiger saves Bill from the two wolves, Bill isn’t afraid of him. Maybe still a bit apprehensive. But he isn’t pissing his pants. Saying thanks, IMO, doesn’t come off as cheesy.  A sign of respect perhaps. I mean he did just save his fucking life. It wasn’t a coincidence. The tiger intentionally saved his life. And Bill realized that. Maybe if I added that he said the line with that sense of shock that people get, kind of out breathe…You know what I’m saying? A way of describing his emotional state, when he delivers the line. Maybe that would’ve help the reader get a better picture of how I seen that line being delivered.
Posted by: Guest, March 24th, 2014, 2:00am; Reply: 14
Or, Bill could just nod his head slightly, acknowledging the fact, saying "thanks" without the words.

Posted by: Reel-truth, March 24th, 2014, 7:02pm; Reply: 15
I guess I could have went that way too. I suppose it’s a conflict of style.  I personally would like to hear the character say “Thank you" aloud. I feel it resonates more with the scene. Slight head nod works too.
Posted by: LeeOConnor, August 11th, 2014, 6:51am; Reply: 16
Hi Marcello,

I agree with Steve here, action all the way through would be more powerful, for example towards the end this ruined/made me laugh "You want dinner? Well you’re gonna’ have to earn it." Really not necessary.
It's not terribly written but as mentioned the slugs are a little all over the shop and in some cases none existent.
There are a few typos and over writing here but I totally saw what you were trying to achieve.
I like the idea. It just needs working on a little more.

Good luck with the next draft

Posted by: Colkurtz8, August 13th, 2014, 2:38pm; Reply: 17

I like how we are parachuted straight into the action, Bill’s exposed bone, his expression of hopelessness. We know something as gone down.

Found it on a body.

- Ok, it might seem like I’m being pedantic but the words “found” and “find” have been mentioned 3 time and once respectively in the opening few lines of dialogue, something that stuck out for me. I think you could have Bill just ask “Where” and Jeff respond “On a body” before going on about giving up smoking as you’ve written it. It would sound more natural in my opinion.

There’s no point
of arguing.

- I would drop “of” or replace it with “in”

“Jeff walks away.”

- Shouldn’t there be more urgency in his exit? “Walks away” seems so casual.

“CLICK, CLICK CLICK...nothing.”

- Sh?t, after a night of trying this has passed I probably would’ve chucked it as far as possible into the wilderness by now. Would drive me crazy otherwise!


- Perseverance pays off!

Although it would require some expensive CGI the white tiger scene was effective, a nicely played dramatic moment.

Yes! Yes!. Oh god thank you.

“He rubs his hands and places them above the fire.”

- Considering he is in snowy terrain where white tigers roam I would like to see him feel the cold more through body language, facial expression, flexing his fingers, blowing into his palms, wrapping his arms around himself to insulate the heat, etc. Especially, since the primary goal at the moment is to start a fire. It helps immerse us in Bill’s plight and makes the success in starting the fire all the more sweeter when it is achieved. We really feel for him, understand how freezing it is.

I do admit to squirming when he pushes the bone back in though.

I somehow doubt it would be that easy to catch an Ermine. He literally hobbled over, poked a stick in the hole and had his meal. Just like that. I know it’s for the purposes of the story but it did seem rather straightforward. I kinda felt sorry for the Ermine too.

Also, having read on learning that he comes across the plane, it might be more dramatic if the Ermine escapes which forces him to make a move. Thus, the finding of the plane is all the more important.

”Each step painful. Each step more impossible than the next.”

- You could lose the second “each step” and put in a comma. Also, replace “next” with “last”

Perhaps put in a LATER slugline between him making a move and encountering the plane. Because, as it’s written, it seems like it crashed very close by to where he was propped against the tree. If this is the case, you have to ask why he didn’t check it out sooner for food, clothes, provisions, etc…or Jeff for that matter.

I liked him repeating his mantra through the night scenes.

“He turns the body over of the man with the blue jacket.”

- Was Jeff always wearing the blue jacket? Might be worth specifying this in the opening scene too. It’s not going to be a surprise on screen once we see it in the snow so it shouldn’t be played as one on the page either…unless he acquired nee clothing along the way.

“Two teeth snarling timber wolves, fifteen feet back, eye
down Bill.”

- And we’ve just entered “The Grey” territory, hard to not think of that film when presented with this image. I anticipated this is what Jeff referred to in the opening dialogue. Now, if only Liam Neeson were around to punch them out! ;)

“The white tiger rears up from the side of them.”

- I’m not sure I entirely buy this intervention by the Tiger, too contrived. Although, I do appreciate what you were going for, the fact that they shared a moment earlier, there is some unspoken understanding between them, the mutual fight for survival, the common enemy. Why a Tiger though? It’s a beast like the Wolf and would just as soon rip Bill’s head off. Does it really matter? I suppose not. It seems the poor Wolves get awfully bad press in films though, always the man hungry beasts.


- I wouldn’t have Bill say this. A nod would do. He should still be sh?tting it, unsure of the Tiger’s motives. I know I would. I’d be thinking the Tiger is fighting off the wolves so he can feast on me for himself!

Are we to assume that Bill and Jeff came from the plane crash or is that totally unrelated? Did he just come across it by chance?

If not, what were he and Jeff doing out there? If so, then, as I already mentioned, why didn’t they go to the plane for provisions, food and shelter straight away?
Did he get his leg injury from a previous encounter with the wolves or the plane crash?

Overall, not bad, pretty effective for seven pages. A simple story of survival in the harshest situation with a positive Man & Beast overtone, at least in regards the Tiger.

To reiterate, you could definitely play up Bill’s desperation and suffering when he’s just sitting against the tree for the first half of the script i.e. the cold, the loneliness, the hopelessness of his predicament. It’s a very sensory script as the title suggests, it’s the script’s strength, so it should be intensified to the max.

Posted by: Reel-truth, August 14th, 2014, 9:21pm; Reply: 18
Hey guys,

I appreciate you taking your time and resurrecting this one. I always like this short. I never gave it the proper attention I felt it deserved. Typed it up and in matter of hours and barely looked it over. A shame cause this one could have been actually pretty good.

It’s funny how I can read this over again and pick up all sorts of mistakes I missed the first time around.  I must have written at least four shorts this year and this was one that could have played out a lot better if it was written correctly.

I mean it had some good “Elements” to it. So after this whole feature length OWC that has completely sucked up my writing time, I’ll probably do a complete revision of this story.  Maybe expand it a little bit. That’s if I don’t get caught up in a another new idea. Either way,I’ll probably get it done some time later down the road.
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