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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Family Scripts  /  Christmas Crystal Ball - OWC
Posted by: Don, December 19th, 2020, 1:56pm
Christmas Crystal Ball by Michael Yu (MichaelYu) writing as Window pane - Short, Family - A man saves three persons in a snowy forest at Christmas after they find a crystal ball. 6 pages - pdf format

For production consideration - No comments required
, Family
Posted by: Dreamscale, December 19th, 2020, 5:21pm; Reply: 1
I really hate to talk negatively about loglines, because they're tough, but this one is really bad.  "persons"?  Really?

OK, I'm going to leave this one to the others to discuss, but I will say "this needs quite a bit of work".

*
Posted by: AnthonyCawood, December 19th, 2020, 5:55pm; Reply: 2
Hmm, something seems off/odd with the formatting - may be the software you are using.

Careful with character descriptions, e.g. you describe Kristi as gentle and kind, but we cannot see that, especially as you then say she's exhausted - something we can can see.

The dialogue reads very stilted so I'm guessing that this is either a new writer or maybe someone with English as a second language.

For example
Not a break. Perhaps, we need to stay here for at least two hours.
Why at least two hours?

and

It seems we got lost.
Would be better as a simple 'I think we're lost.'

Loved the idea of Santa saving reindeer in the snow globe.

But then the story lost me, why would they just sit there and wait?

Saved by someone walking by who may be Santa?

This needs work bit well done for entering

Posted by: eldave1, December 19th, 2020, 7:39pm; Reply: 3
Formatting is way off - you would benefit from some screenwriting software.

Story was okay - I found the dialogue a little stilted. You did meet the challenge parameters - congrats on entering
Posted by: Cameron (Guest), December 20th, 2020, 3:53am; Reply: 4
Hey writer,

Yeah, wonít labour the points raised above re formatting. My advice is to get yourself a free copy of Celtx off the internet (the downloadable version) and start using that.

There was a story there but it was fractured by the dialogue, which needs some work.

BUT!! Donít give up hope, have a good read of some other scripts and draw from them what you like, then basically steal the techniques/style and come back swinging.

Best of luck,

Cam

P.S. review brought to you by Katy Perry...how did that slip into my Spotify??!
Posted by: Dustin, December 20th, 2020, 4:32am; Reply: 5
An obvious ESL writer here. Different from the advice so far, I'd suggest reading novels as this will help increase your vocabulary more rapidly. A broader vocab will give you richer pickings in terms of verbs and adjectives, and will also help you with sentence structure.
Posted by: _ghostwriters, December 20th, 2020, 9:33pm; Reply: 6
Well I gave that a read and didn't trip over or find anything I could offer improvement on that hasn't already been mentioned. Needs more work done, but a solid start to what could be very good little short.

Cheers,

Reggie
Posted by: MarkRenshaw, December 21st, 2020, 10:36am; Reply: 7
Not sure if the writer's first language is English or they are new to screenwriting but the way this was written seemed either could be the case. If so, I'll just suggest reading lots of produced scripts, keep on writing and well done for entering the challenge.

-Mark
Posted by: JEStaats, December 21st, 2020, 2:49pm; Reply: 8
Kudos for entering the challenge, writer. There is a lot of talent participating in this OWC and a lot of fine entries and suggestions to learn from. No better experience than entering and getting feedback. That said, try reading your entry out loud, especially the dialogue - does it sound conversational and realistic? Keep writing!
Posted by: Rob, December 21st, 2020, 2:50pm; Reply: 9
It's interesting/strange that the snow globe shows Santa putting deer into an ambulance. I guess this symbolizes the three characters who are lost. It still seems like an unusual depiction for a snow globe. Who would make such a thing?

My favorite line in this script is from Cody: "Dad, I support you."

I wish my kid would say that to me. "Dad, I support you."
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 22nd, 2020, 5:52am; Reply: 10
Hello writer


Writing aside, you need a story that makes sense, beleiveable characters and scenes that push the story forward. Below are some tips I have picked up or been told along the way

Dialogue

- Become an eavesdropper, go out in public (COVID rules pending) and listen in on peoples conversations. Pay attention to their mannerisms, how they interact, what they say and also what they don'y say - try to add these nuances and flavours to your characters.

- Read the dialogue out loud, or better yet, convince family and friends and play the characters. When you hear it played out it highlights unnatural dialogue and interaction.

- In real life, our conversations are filled with fluff "How was your weekend?" "Yeah good, thanks, how was yours" "Not bad, thanks" - In a screenplay this fluff is boring. Cut the redundant and avoid repetition.

- "Actions speak louder than words", "A picture paints a thousand words". Don't tell through dialogue if you can show through action or description.

Scenes

- Enter the scene as late as possible, and leave as early as possible

- Make it visual. It's a screenplay, tell yourself "Show, don't tell" as you are writing to spur yourself into thinking of ways you can show information rather than telling us.

- Advance the story. Make sure the scene advances the story. If it doesn't, then ask yourself if it is really necessary. Does it push the protag further or closer to their goals? Does it raise or lower the stakes?

Story

Story is king, if it's not interesting or engaging then the best writing style in the world won't get you far.

- Captivating Characters. We can like them or hate them, but we must be passionate about them.

- Goals and stakes. Your characters want something, and if they don't get it, it will be bad! Goals are the backbone and define the stakes and antagonist. Make it strong and make it clear.

- Conflict. Is at the heart of any good storytelling, your protags path to their goal should be thwart with obstacles, knock-backs and challenges they must overcome, all the while the antagonist is trying to stop them reaching their goal.


Anyway, that's just some basics to get you started I guess. Do lots of reading on the subject, there is lots of insightful information out there.

In your story, their goal is to get out of the forest - but they don't help themselves by literally staying in one place for 3 hours. If the Characters don't care enough to try and get their goal, we don't care.

They randomly found the crystal ball - this comes across as coincidence. as well as the man finding them. Too many coincidences can be off putting.

The reveal. The reveal that this guy is Santa is told to us, not revealed to us, find a way to make this more visual and less on the nose than a "Santa just saved us".

Confusing plot, it's unclear what the crystal ball is for, and what it does. Confusion can put readers off very quickly.


Good start - now it's time to build on it, learn and practice.

Happy Holidays
Posted by: SteveClark, December 26th, 2020, 4:02pm; Reply: 11
Writer,

As Iím sure youíve already figured out you need to change the font. Spelling mistakes galore - perhaps you were rushing. That aside, itís just a basic white bread story with nothing much moving it forward. All this story really had going for it was the mysterious crystal ball, which really wasnít so mysterious in the end. My advice would be to read lots of scripts. Brush up on dialogue. Youíve almost got the formatting down (save for the font), you just need to tell a better story. Good effort.

Steve
Posted by: Claudio, December 27th, 2020, 7:20pm; Reply: 12
I agree with the other folks, this felt like a newer ESL writer. That being said, great effort.

I think Matthew Taylorís advice pretty much sums everything up. Especially the part about the story being the most important.
Sometimes what helps me is thinking about a real-life experience and making it even more exciting/dramatic/funny/shocking.

Even if youíre still learning English, you can use this to your advantage! We could use more honest stories about ESL folks navigating this English-dominant world.

Great stuff, I hope you share more of your writing with us~
Posted by: MichaelYu, April 5th, 2021, 1:09am; Reply: 13
I am writer of Christmas Crystal Ball. There are a few comments on it that I need to clarify.

Logline:  This logline can tell us what the story is about clearly and in detail by using just 17 words.

Plot:  The plot was not confusing. It was easy to follow the plot.

Dialogue:  I used simple and direct method to construct the dialogues. The three persons were in trouble in the forest.
                   What they needed was to get out of it. Should they use subtext in their dialogues? Should they use indirect
                   and complicated dialogues? I think the dialogues in this script were clear and natural.

Format:    I typed this script using Kit Scenarist, which can meet the requirements of screenwriting.

Font:   The font of this script is 12. It is the industry standard.

Lots of Spelling Errors:   I failed to find them out. Can anyone help me?
Posted by: spesh2k, April 5th, 2021, 2:11am; Reply: 14

Quoted from MichaelYu
I am writer of Christmas Crystal Ball. There are a few comments on it that I need to clarify.

Logline:  This logline can tell us what the story is about clearly and in detail by using just 17 words.

Plot:  The plot was not confusing. It was easy to follow the plot.

Dialogue:  I used simple and direct method to construct the dialogues. The three persons were in trouble in the forest.
                   What they needed was to get out of it. Should they use subtext in their dialogues? Should they use indirect
                   and complicated dialogues? I think the dialogues in this script were clear and natural.

Format:    I typed this script using Kit Scenarist, which can meet the requirements of screenwriting.

Font:   The font of this script is 12. It is the industry standard.

Lots of Spelling Errors:   I failed to find them out. Can anyone help me?


A log line doesn't have to be 17 words or less. It's more around 25-30 words or less.

A man saves three persons in a snowy forest at Christmas after they find a crystal ball.

You're not supposed to give away the ending through your log line. What must this man to do save three people in a snowy forest? What's the obstacle? Is this the same obstacle that threatens the three people in the snowy forest? Is the snow the obstacle? What power does the crystal ball hold? You can fit all that information in 25 words or less. I understand English may be a second language, so I won't be too hard on you for the logline and the stilted, unnatural sounding dialogue. I know YOU think it sounds natural in your head, but it does not. It sounds like broken English. If the characters are supposed to speak in broken English, it might fit, but here, it does not. English is a difficult language because most people who speak English speak in casual slang. Here, it sounds robotic. Your use of contractions in dialogue doesn't sound natural. When people speak, they don't say "We've to leave here as soon as possible". I know it sounds like it makes sense (we've = we have) and perhaps you were told to use contractions to write natural sounding dialogue. But "We have to leave..." is more natural sounding that "We've to leave". I've never heard anybody say that. Even more natural sounding is "We need to leave" (which adds urgency) or "We gotta leave", which is more slangy but more in tune with how people speak.

I would recommend using different software, like Celtx (which is free) or Final Draft (which is not free - it's around $250). It's not the font size that's off, it's the font itself. The industry standard is Courier font (or Courier Final Draft).

-- Michael
Posted by: eldave1, April 8th, 2021, 7:39pm; Reply: 15

Quoted from MichaelYu
I am writer of Christmas Crystal Ball. There are a few comments on it that I need to clarify.

Logline:  This logline can tell us what the story is about clearly and in detail by using just 17 words.

Plot:  The plot was not confusing. It was easy to follow the plot.

Dialogue:  I used simple and direct method to construct the dialogues. The three persons were in trouble in the forest.
                   What they needed was to get out of it. Should they use subtext in their dialogues? Should they use indirect
                   and complicated dialogues? I think the dialogues in this script were clear and natural.

Format:    I typed this script using Kit Scenarist, which can meet the requirements of screenwriting.

Font:   The font of this script is 12. It is the industry standard.

Lots of Spelling Errors:   I failed to find them out. Can anyone help me?


Hmm - okay, I am going to give you one shot.  The writing was poor.  Let;s look just at your opening.



Quoted Text
INT. FOREST - DAY

Heavy snow covers the ground of the forest. On both sides are a of to trees. Snow
lands on the leaves of the trees, making the green leaves fade.


INT Forest - unless it is a forest inside a building, it should be EXT.

You never need to repeat your location in your description since it is in the header. i.e. this:

Heavy snow covers the ground of the forest.

Should be:

Heavy snow covers the ground.


Quoted Text
On both sides are a of to trees.


Do forests have sides? Or - are we really in a clearing of some sort.

This:


Quoted Text
Snow lands on the leaves of the trees, making the green leaves fade.


Is way over-written. Simply say snow-covered trees.

Just glancing quickly - three typos:

Their tired and nervous - should be They're.

No thanks. You'd keep it for yourself = You = not You'd.

Yes, talk a walk - should be take.

But here is the key thing, Michael - if you're objective was to satisfy your standards - then mission accomplished. You really don't need feedback.

I wouldn't look at it that way. I would look at it like this - 14 writers weighed in. All 14 thought that there were significant problems. Now, again - if you are looking just to satisfy your standards - no need to pay attention.




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