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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Horror  /  Madame Dora, Clairvoyant
Posted by: Don, April 30th, 2019, 11:28pm
Madame Dora, Clairvoyant by Rob Wright - Short, Horror - A desperate young mother seeks the help of a psychic in an attempt to save her sick daughter, but there's a price to be paid. 15 pages - pdf format

New writer interested in feedback on this work
Posted by: Kirsten, June 24th, 2019, 8:47am; Reply: 1
Hi Robbie,

I'll just tell you what I know and take what you want from this...I'll give notes as I read..

When you introduce the friends they need to have a capitalized name or identity. In this case FRIEND 1 and FRIEND 2 would work because they aren't important to the plot and don't appear anywhere else.

"she is visibly repulsed by his bad breath." this is a telling me sentence, you need to show me that she is repulsed.

"Matt smiles as he passes Emma not waiting for the reply, he’s
still moving in on Drunk-Male. Emma has no time to register
what just happened but knows she shouldn’t stick around. She
walks off in the opposite direction in search of a quieter
place to wait, her legs have begun to shake."

This is too long, action lines need to be 3 lines or less. Again there is too much telling and not enough showing here. short sentences, terse description, easy to visualize and evocative verbs, write what we see or hear on screen. It has to be filmable..
The only action here is Matt smiling, passing Emma, she walks away. "Her legs have begun to shake" is past tense, watch out for that.

"Emma pauses for a moment, she too feels compelled to look back,
but doesn’t."  We can't see what her thoughts are. Maybe "Emma pauses for a moment, turns her head to look back but stops. She carries on. or however you want to write it...


'Emma watches the Large Gentleman skip away." A large man skipping is a bit too dramatic for the scene. The fact that you've shown how appreciative of her he is, and him walking away with a big smile is enough to show he's very happy.

"Amused, he side-steps around two males." Again, introduce the characters with capitals.

Okay i have to stop here... got to get to work...will finish this tomorrow :)

Posted by: Kirsten, June 26th, 2019, 8:49am; Reply: 2
Such lovely hands. Mine were once
this way too but alas, time
really does have a price.

Need to change the character name..

"her finger is drawing circles then stops,
pressing down again"   her finger draws circles then stops. She presses down again. too many 'ings' means too much passive writing.

"Her eyes are darting around the lines on Emma’s palm." Her eyes dart..

"Emma bumps straight into the person waiting outside." needs re written. We need to know there is someone there first. I get that you want it as a surprise, maybe you can write it so that we can't see who it is. And it seems strange that he would be right outside the door. or maybe he could be walking past just as she steps off the caravan steps and she nearly falls over him. Or he's waiting at the table.

"M.D looks ordinary too, she wears a dressing gown. She looks a little older, though this is largely due to the absence of her wig, her grey hair is thin, mostly scalp."  You need to write in where M.D she sitting drinking coffee, cleaning up?

Yes you was, but it was more than
that, it was like magic, you".... Yes you were..

"Emma holds out a BUNDLE OF NOTES." Need to write that she reaches into her pocket and gets them. As written It seems that she has had them in her hand all the time.

Need me? You need me? You come
see me this evening Dear." In the slugline while they are driving it indicates morning...

Matt slides down off the car as Emma approaches." Just use EXT in this instance becasue the action is happening outside the car.

"They both enter the car. Matt starts the engine, they
pull away." After they enter the car a new slugline INT. CAR - CONTINUOUS. The scene now takes place inside the car.

"Matt decides against any further retort." Show us..


Need to be INT. and A LITTLE LATER needs to be described in the action. Should be DAY.

Sound Only: Loud CAR CRASH followed by long continuous HORN." You can get rid of the slugline. And capitalize SOUND ONLY.

Alrighty, got to go again... will be back for the story.....:) :)

Posted by: Kirsten, June 29th, 2019, 9:19am; Reply: 3
Back again :)

I did notice when I went back to the beginning that the first slugline should read INT. TOWN FAIR because they are inside the fair.

Okay, so this is my run down of the story....

Emma goes to a fair with her friends, they get on a ride while she waits. Straight away she gets harrassed by a drunk guy. Matt comes along and saves her from him. She runs off to get space from the beating while her friends are on the ride. She ends up sitting at a table outside a caravan, which is the work place of Madame Dora. An appreciative customer leaves the caravan in a very good mood. Showing us that Madame Dora is good at what she does. She asks emma if she wants a reading.

Emma sees the bloodied drunk guy coming towards her with two other guys holding onto him, she decides to go into the caravan to hide from them.

Madame Dora, reads Emma's palms, emma is reluctant but does it anyway. MD tells emma there is a man in the picture, but seems saddened by how things turn out. She uses Emma's name and tries to downplay her negative reaction. Showing us that she is a legit psychic... A good set up...

Emma leaves and as she does she bangs into Matt.

Years have gone by and Emma and Matt drive to the fair once again. They discuss their situation, their daughter is very sick and Emma know from events coming true that Madame Dora might be the only one to help save their daughter. Matt comes across as very moody and annoyed at Emma.
Emma believes MD is able to do magic and can change things, like curing Emma. MD says she can't help, but does ask if there is something or someone emma would be prepared to loose to save her child. MD decides this is not a good thing and instead she does do something weird with Emma's tea leaves in the finished cup of tea emma drinks.

Emma and Matt leave, Matt suggests he moves in with his new 'friend' while emma is in a shitty with him and the situation. Emma ends up grabbing the steering wheel and cause an accident where she lives and Matt dies.
So Matt has become the sacrifice.

It's a few years later. We then learn that Emma has lived and is a healthy 10 year old who believes her father did something magical for her to save her. But he had to die. It's Ellie's 10th birthday and a clown comes to her birthday party. it gets her to make a wish, she wishes her dad was there, then suddenly we are back to the car crash scene. Where Emma is dead instead of Matt. And Ellie gets her wish.

Let me know if I got this wrong... anywhere :)

So here are some areas in the story I felt needed working on.

Matt saying they need space when he tells her he wants to move out doesn't fit the narrative, for me. Their relationship is over and he is already seeing someone else, so saying they need space doesn't make sense. It seems very obvious from their negative conversation in the car that they already have lots of space in their now defunct relationship. It comes across as if they are closer than they should be at this point.

The scene where Emma grabs the steering wheel might come off better if you show Emma acting weird beforehand i.e trance like... so we get for sure in that moment she's not in control, that it was madame dora's doing. As it is, it reads that she's doing the silent treatment and has just decided to do it herself. Or maybe this is her? Is it?

And lastly the clown scene and flashback seem to come out of nowhere. I like it but it is totally disconnected from the story. I was thinking aye? So the magic isn't over she makes a wish and now Emma dies? It would work better if there was a big hint from MD that if Emma were to go ahead with the killing off of someone the spell or whatever it is would continue on..... something like that.

Okay so even though I picked this apart (mostly formatting and some logic bumps) I really love your writing. I loved the opening scene where Emma is with her friends aghast at the huge ride... I loved the description of the fair and it was very easy to visualize. I love your visuals, like Matt sliding off the car, Emma taking MDs hand off her then leaves. You have a way of adding good action visuals to fatten up the story. Matt could have just been standing there by the car. Or MD could have taken her own hand away. The way you write adds an extra layer.
They drive past all the colorful trucks and trailors.... another good visual. They could have just been driving down the road and pulling into the fair. Your Mallory Good script struck me so well I didn't notice any errors. So there is something about your writing that I LOVE...

Anyways, I am still learning myself, so take what you want from this. If I have confused you let me know and in terms of formatting issues, it's always good to google things just to clarify...

Now I'm off to read your other script.... :)

Posted by: RobbieD, August 30th, 2019, 7:51pm; Reply: 4
Hello Kirsten,

I'm SO sorry - I missed that you had replied to this thread (no notification) - and that you had given me all this amazing feedback and constructive crit - THANK YOU SO MUCH! Really, really appreciate the time you have spent.  I'll revisit this one soon, taking on board what you have suggested as it all makes so much sense - funny how it's hard to spot it yourself when you're in the midst of it.


By way of reciprocation, I'd be very happy to try to give you some feedback on one of yours if you would like me to?  Let me know, and which one...

(I'll PM you this too, as I feel really bad for not replying sooner to say thanks!)


PS. thanks for the kind/supportive bits at the end too x
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