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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Drama Scripts  /  The Book
Posted by: Don, February 18th, 2018, 5:29pm
The Book by Kirsten James - Short, Drama - A simple text book becomes more than just a learning tool in the lives of two adult psychology students.  7 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

Posted by: Kirsten, February 22nd, 2018, 9:52am; Reply: 1
Very cool, this just got optioned. :)
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 22nd, 2018, 10:37am; Reply: 2
Congrats on getting this optioned, Kirsten.

Overall, this was an OK read. It could use some cleaning up, especially toward the end, which felt rushed. I felt like this could be a little bit longer, and that it ended abruptly. I am curious as to how David is going to explain to Sheryl how he knows Gary. Maybe they could have a short discussion about him while they look through the book. I mean, the book is about Loss and Grieving, which seems very appropriate for their current situation. They could remember Gary for who he was while they go through the book and try and apply what is in it toward their loss and grievance of Gary's death. Otherwise, why is the book important in the first place? All that is shown is David handing it to Sheryl, and then coincidentally, her husband dies. But she doesn't even use the book to get through her own grievance. David, on the other hand, could talk to Sheryl and get her through the trouble, since he read the book in three days. Maybe as they're talking about Gary and remembering him, and then somehow it slips that he and David were together. This could turn into an interesting drama if you explore more and lengthen the script.

Additionally, the classroom scene I felt was a little too short too. I get that it was introducing Sheryl, but I felt as though the teacher's lecture was going to go somewhere with the term "abnormal" (which I hope you aren't referring to homosexuality when referencing the word). I did like David's response, and maybe include the class laughing or something. But why that term? What's it got to do with the story? I felt it going somewhere, but then you just end the classroom scene.

Maybe introduce Gary at the beginning, before Sheryl goes to class. Have him on the phone, and before Sheryl leaves he gets off the phone. She asks, "Who was that?" and he says, "Oh just work." and she responds with "It always is" or something before frustratingly leaving for school. Then when she comes home from school, he's on the phone again,  uses the same excuse, and then she gets on his back about it, prompting him to leave. Otherwise, this whole 'affair' thing comes out of nowhere, as well as Gary's character (and his death, too). Let Gary have a little more screen time. Show the strain on their relationship.

You've got something good going on here, and I feel it could use more work, a little bit more fleshing out, and you could have a good drama here. I'd love to see how Sheryl and David's conversation plays out once they run into each other at the funeral home. I'd love to see more incorporation of the book and its contents, as it seems to be an important token in the story, but all it's used for is being passed from one person to the next. If it's a book on loss and grieving, and our main character loses her husband, you'd think she'd use that book to help get her through her troubles. David can use his knowledge to get through his own grieving, and also help Sheryl. They could become best friends at the end of this story, coming closer together through the loss of their loved one.
Posted by: eldave1, February 22nd, 2018, 11:25am; Reply: 3
Solid - congrats!
Posted by: Kirsten, February 22nd, 2018, 11:55am; Reply: 4
Hey Sean, thanks for the read, very much appreciated.

And thanks for all your good suggestions. This is a tricky one because i'm trying to keep it short and it's a redo of one I posted a few weeks ago called The Sneeze. It's theme is based around the butterfly effect. The first version was a sneeze and a glob of mucus landing on sheryls hair in class. David is the one who sneezes. which in turn causes Gary to have an accident and die. people were too grossed out by this, so I tried to find another death causing thing....The Book :)... I purposefully called the book 'grieving and loss' to add to the twist. A simple text book, named something that they will be enduring soon, ends up bringing them together and unveiling the truth in an unimaginable way...maybe that should be the logline lol...

I do have a longer ending to this where they do find out why they are at Gary's funeral, but a very good published writer friend of mine felt it was too long. So I cut it where it was....

I like your idea about introducing Gary at the beginning, its good.

I used the term abnormal in the class scene so that people would assume it is a psych class. That was it's only relevance. Nothing to do with homosexuality... lol.. I'm gay and I'm glad you bought it up if you thought i was inferring it's abnormal. ;) I was a psych student and that question has always stuck with was the first thing that came to mind ...

To me this is a quick twist drama, and I'm finding out how hard these things are to get right in short form!

If you want to see the ending I wrote let me know and I'll post it here...
Thanks again
Posted by: Kirsten, February 22nd, 2018, 12:44pm; Reply: 5
Thanks Dave...very
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 22nd, 2018, 12:55pm; Reply: 6

That makes more sense now. Maybe start out with David at the bookstore, and he sees one last copy of Grieving and Loss and rushes to it, only to have another student take it before he does. The student, feeling generous--or maybe they're going through their own grieving and loss--takes pity on David and decides to give him the book, sparking the butterfly effect (otherwise, if the student never gave him the book in the first place, Gary wouldn't die). I dunno, just trying to tie in the butterfly effect a little more.

Quoted Text
I used the term abnormal in the class scene so that people would assume it is a psych class. That was it's only relevance. Nothing to do with homosexuality... lol.. I'm gay and I'm glad you bought it up if you thought i was inferring it's abnormal.  I was a psych student and that question has always stuck with was the first thing that came to mind ...

Haha I only pointed that out because I, too, am gay and I was like, "She better not be saying that homosexuality is abnormal!" Maybe use something a little bit more relevant, such as grieving over the loss of a loved one via breaking up a relationship. This will sorta foreshadow what will happen to Sheryl. Not necessarily the death of Gary, but if he never died then eventually their relationship would become strained due to his closeted affair and they could eventually divorce. Plus, David and Sheryl's conversation about her friend getting divorced would also tied into the lecture that the teacher has. I just thought that "abnormal" was a term that would later be revisited in the story. Maybe Sheryl and Gary's relationship is abnormal?? Or the love triangle that's currently going on (well more like a love, upside-down V) is abnormal?? I dunno.

I'd like to see the original ending that you had before you cut it. I just thought that the script ended rather abruptly and that there should be at least a page or two more of conversation between Sheryl and David. They're classmates, revisited through a friend that neither of them knew they were mutual friends with, which could spark an interesting conversation between the two. I understand why you stopped it where you did, and as a short it could be a good place to stop, but I was just anticipating a little more once they ran into each other.

You can email, PM, or post here a link to the original ending if you want. Google Docs, dropbox, etc. and post the link. I'd love to see it!
Posted by: Kirsten, February 22nd, 2018, 4:48pm; Reply: 7

Haha, I would have got my heckles up too if I thought someone was saying that about homosexuality.

like the beginning idea, it does need something added to the beginning. I think I have scenes still stuck in my head from the first draf. I put him in his car at the beginning in the original to show him with his cold and eventual sneezing episode...

I need a fresher look at did get a bit stale in my mind. I think I wanted it to end as close to the reveal as possible. I'm going to leave it for now since it's being filmed but you have given me alot of good advice. You've made me think more about an even bigger picture in this story. This is just generally good information to have when writing. So thanks for that...:)

I'm going to read your horror script over the next week... I read at night and sometimes it sends me off to sleep sooner than I like...

Heres the ending.

Cheers Kirsten
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 22nd, 2018, 6:32pm; Reply: 8

The ending was better and went in the direction that I was hoping! I wish you kept it, and then have Sheryl say her last line while still hugging David, then pulls away, takes his hand, and says, "Come on." as she leads him to the funeral home. You should've kept the ending in there, but that's just gonna be my opinion! :)

Or she doesn't say anything all, hugs him, and FADE OUT.

Either way, it's awesome that you've got your script optioned and hopefully it all works out in the end!

Thanks for giving my script a read!
Posted by: Fausto, February 23rd, 2018, 9:30am; Reply: 9
Hi Kirsten,
All my best,
Posted by: Kirsten, February 25th, 2018, 5:53am; Reply: 10
Hey Fausto, THANKYOU!
Posted by: Kirsten, February 25th, 2018, 6:04am; Reply: 11
Hey Sean

I'm glad you liked the ending.. I'm going to send to the the guy who optioned it, give him the choice to add it.
Thanks again for all your advice! I started the first 24 pages of your script last night, I'm liking it...
Posted by: RichardR, March 2nd, 2018, 10:16am; Reply: 12
A note.

If you're trying for a cause and effect script, the butterfly effect, you might consider telling this story backwards.  Every step back reveals how it pushed the future.

Posted by: Don, March 7th, 2018, 11:17am; Reply: 13
How did I miss this?!?


- Don
Posted by: Warren, March 7th, 2018, 4:50pm; Reply: 14
Hi Kirsten,

Congrats on the option.

Gave this a read, I didn’t mind it, felt like a pretty well-worn story.

It’s early here in Oz so I'll blame that, but I really struggled to wrap my head around the ending.

On two occasions you change the scene heading and use the word "he", instead of Gary or David. For me this provided unnecessary confusion. I realise you were building towards a reveal but I think in the script it should be quite clear.

Like I said, it may have just been me. I did read it 3 times before I finally got it.

I personally prefer the ending on the original script. I think the extended one is too expositional.

Anyway, it wasn’t bad. Just a little confusing at the end.

I'm guessing they have quite a budget for this? If filmed as written this would be quite expensive to make.

Look forward to seeing what they do with it.

All the best.
Posted by: Kirsten, March 9th, 2018, 7:29am; Reply: 15
Hey Richard and Warren,

Thanks heaps for the read and suggestions!

Richard, yes a good idea, these ones are fun but make you go crossed eyed trying to keep it logical... a nice challenge.

Warren, Thankyou! And sorry you had to read it 3 times, I have a hard enough time trying to get through things in the 'normal' time of day...I thank you for putting in the effort.

The scene heading 'he' thing was an unintentional stuff up from me... there was no method to my madness on that one :)

Yeah I prefer the shorter version, I just wanted it to stop close to the reveal and let the reader put the pieces together.

I'm not sure about the budget....

Anyways, thanks again!

Posted by: Colkurtz8, March 13th, 2018, 1:43pm; Reply: 16

“David walks in draping his hand through his drenched

- Is “draping” the correct verb here? Feels like it should be “dragging” or “running”.

I’m just kidding, your probably a
terrible cook anyway.

- “Your” should be “you’re”

Isn’t this a reworked version of another script of yours “Don’t let the small things get you”? Except here the faux pas is an unwieldy wet jacket instead of unwieldy mucus. Plus the book acts as the inadvertent catalyst for tragedy.

I wondered if David had experienced some personal loss or was he just reading the book for his class? His forced chirpiness around Sheryl had me thinking the former but I guess it’s actually the latter.

Again, I have similar problems with this in that the coincidence is just too contrived and convenient. However, to your credit, the book does serve as a more powerful and symbolic device to connect the characters so overall there is improvement here.

Congrats on getting it optioned.

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