RJFS Writer's group!


#186

Okay, I wanted to leave some comments.

@Spica and @Exquisite_Corpse - I appreciate your feedback on DOTV so much, and you’re both absolutely right on its length. There was some totally rudderless direction at the beginning, and I’m really glad I made that rookie mistake, especially within the confines of this forum. And Lucas, I’m glad that you mentioned the reason for not including the CUT TO - you said in one sentence what took me a paragraph to write on an earlier post.

So, due to the screenplay’s length, and the fact that I really want to be able to finish this project so I can start working on the next one - I’m probably going to end up writing Down in the Valley as more like a really long first act. So it’s not going to be as expansive as I thought, and the story probably won’t take place outside of the bunker perimeter at all, but at least it will have a beginning, middle, and end. Also, I’ve realized I have to start hauling a$$ on this piece, or I’ll be writing it until the end of September. So, I’m to start finish more pages, and I’m giving myself a deadline of a month to finish it. This is a goal that will keep me on track without placing too much pressure on me to get it done. We’ll see what happens, but expect more pages to be submitted during the week.

Thank you both for your consistent feedback - it’s super motivating and helpful.

@Exquisite_Corpse on Paladin - damn, what an ending! Myrin getting sucked into the ground was like O.O. Also, I think the pacing of the scene was the best that I’ve seen you write for an action scene thus far. And I liked the ending - Myrin and Dija ride off into the sunset, so to speak. I especially liked how you reintroduced the explanation of Myrin’s background.

“Maybe people just do something for some reason one day. They look up, and that’s who they are.” – That line really got me on an emotional level, and it was such a simple, beautifully succinct way of explaining her origins, and how she ended up as the person seen in the story. Good job.

Again, congratulations on writing a full screenplay, well-bloody done. To promote your screenplay (and this thread), I would suggest editing the first entry of this thread to reflect that yes, a full screenplay has come out of this forum (we’re legit business here!). Also, I’d suggest creating your own thread asking for feedback on Paladin if you’re looking for additional critiques outside of what’s been said on this forum.

I’m really glad you stuck with the Yeshiva Gangster concept. I liked the opening, and the set up of the conflict with Avi and Sarah (establish that we are hearing the voicemail through Sarah’s phone call, not at Avi’s place, as she calls Avi on a cell phone, so we wouldn’t be hearing the voicemail pick up).

Okay, so this is probably going to sound really irritating - the one thing I didn’t like about these seven pages was the interaction between Mel and Kallie. It sounded a little flat, like there was conspicuous effort to make them sound from the wrong side of the tracks. There’s a difference between the girls trying to come off as something they’re not, and trying to make the girls seem like something they’re not.

In the previous scenes, the characters’ immediate situations affect their current state of mind, right. Monster and Rabbi are scared shitless, demanding, terrified, and angry during the robbery. Sarah is pissed off at the distance her brother has put between the family when she calls, which affects her demeanor. Maybe the interaction between Kallie and Mel would be strong if you give a context for what they are doing there, and how it affects them. How does Kallie feel about being at the funeral? How does Kallie feel that Mel is out there with her? Revealing these factors would provide information for the audience to connect with your characters. Just a thought.

I also wanted to add that I liked the character descriptions in your piece - they’re specific to the character while revealing your unique voice as a writer.


#187

New pages here:

Bottom of page 55 - 62 (look at the screenplay’s pages for this, not drive’s count).

@Exquisite_Corpse how do you make it so the new page is where the reader was last when you open the file?


#188

I think it’s a docdroid feature. When you scroll down the URL changes so you can share a specific page.
I’ll read your pages soon.


Script: A Paladin's Song
#189

Ok, just read the new pages!
I’m glad that I learned how the beginning is linked to the actual story. And I think you should change the structure.
We may follow the stories of the beginning’s guards and Doc’s at the same time, alternating scenes.

For now we start with a lot of action and we then jump to Doc’s story which is much more calm, and it contrasts a lot with the beginning, Alternating may be better for the pace.
Also we would spend more time with the guards before their death, something that could have more impact.

I don’t know if I’m clear but I think it would be better for your story.


#190

Lucas,

I totally understand with what you’re saying about the guards. I mentioned in a previous post that I decided to go into a completely different direction after the opening. The screenplay was going to be very action-oriented initially, but I decided to make it more drama based after watching the film Monsters (have you seen it? It’s made by the guy who directed Godzilla, and the latest Star Wars movie). The movie focuses on the relationship between two people as they try to escape from an alien-infested Mexico to a safe zone. After I saw it, I wanted to try and focus on character and relationships in a genre that’s normally very action-based. That was the game plan. Anyway, I’ve basically decided to throw out the opening of the story - I consider it a completely different world separate from this draft. You bring up a good point, though. If it’s not party of the story, I should probably remove these pages from the next draft I post.

Thanks for your feedback as always, Lucas. :slight_smile:


#191

So the original (editable) script file for Paladin got corrupted, and I had to reclaim it from the PDFs. As unfortunate as that was, it gave me the kick in the ass I needed to finish the revised first draft. It somehow came out SHORTER than the 97 pager I posted here. I added a scene, but it still came out to 95 pages. Anyway, that’s up in its own thread, and it took a lot of my writing energy.

What I have for you guys is new stuff. Since I’m not tied down to anything for the moment, I thought I’d get a little play out of my system and throw out a second idea:

so here we go - SPACE MONSTER - THE MOVIE https://www.docdroid.net/l56PbI2/script-space-monster-the-movie.pdf.html


#192

Five new pages here. (pages 62 - 67).
@Exquisite_Corpse I really like this. There’s stuff happening, interesting stuff. You set up what’s going on and who’s involved in this situation quickly and efficiently. Also, Iike how a lot of information is revealed, but so little is said, in the opening scene. That’s an admirable economy of words, pretty impressive.

Few things:

  1. The comments on Skip and Bren’s names, no one remembering them and being classified - that doesn’t matter. All that matters to the reader of the screenplay and that the viewer is that they have them, that we can address them by something. Saying that their names are classified as a character description doesn’t pique my interest in these people. Have that be revealed through dialogue instead, which would be a better place for such a description.
  2. CUT TO: Cockpit.
    We may agree to disagree on this, but that transition is jarring. Keep the CUT TO if you want, but keep the locations on the left side for formatting’s sake. I’m fine with getting creative with the location headers, but the conventions of formatting still have to be there - otherwise, you’re eschewing what makes a screenplay a screenplay :smiley:
  3. I feel like I’ve seen the character of Rachel before, and because of that, she doesn’t feel like as much a part of this world as much as Skip or Bren are. What kind of person would she be if she were just as jaded as them?

I’m enjoying this story a lot. Whatever you submit, I’m looking forward to reading.


#193

I read the beginning of Space Monster @Exquisite_Corpse, it was interesting.
I can’t say much when I just have the very beginning, except that you seem to know what you’re doing with those characters.
As I said I’ll read Paladin again soon.

Also @PianolasonMars I’ll read your new pages ASAP.


#194

Ok, just read the new pages, really interesting, the tension is building.
Keep writing, I’m waiting for what comes next.


#195

Cheers! Here’s hoping I can keep the pace moving forward nicely until the end. :smiley:


#196

So I read the whole Paladin script during the afternoon (new scene was great) and here are some suggestions:

•At the beginning the “rules of the tether” are shown. But at no moment said. It might be my personal stupid point of view but I think it’s better if the spectator can have a character confirm them (have them recap what happened?).

•At the end the reason of Fritz transformation etc is not really clear. We understand that he forgave her and that it freed her but it’s a bit… Confused. You wrap it all in a rush and we want more explanations. Why did he transformed? Why did he forgave her at that precise moment?

I think Dija may know that (she went to that elves school right? Don’t they learn stuffs like that?). At the camp she may hear Fritz and Myrin story. She know how to solve it but can’t say it or it may be unhelpful (you can’t force yourself to forgive). In the end she explains it. (This is just an idea heh).

For the forgiveness of Fritz you may make it happen at a moment where he is really grateful for something she did. Here he sees her arm, but is it really forgiveness trigerring?

Hope it’s helpfuuul!


#197

@PianolasonMars

Broad notes first:

I really like that it’s become an implosion narrative. The whole Locust plot seemed like the driving force for a while, but it’s actually just a catalyst for the real story. Social orders are always fragile and - in a certain sense - illusory…movies don’t explore those ideas as often as they should.

Now a negative: I feel like your characters tend to say exactly what they’re thinking, and there are a lot of really specific lines like “We’ll use these supplies for our cause” which are actually resolved with much better lines later on “Thanks for the loot, boys”. I recognize that this note is far-reaching and subjective, but I’ve seen a lot of movies whose dialog quality is diminished by simply saying too much.

Specific notes:

55-56: A weird, fiddly note, but, in rapid succession, you have two characters ask Doc “are you alright” and “are you OK”. Clearly, these lines are fine, but you might substitute a variation on sentence structure for one of them - just to clip repetition.

57: Dale is never described. I looked back over it, and his first appearance (at 24) has no description. He’s become a major character, so I feel like a little more than ‘section leader’ is warranted.

58: Kenny’s group splitting off is kind of abrupt…it happens within a couple of lines and just doesn’t sit correctly. This is a major plot point, so maybe you could add more emphasis by taking a vote or something.

62: The conversation in the corridor repeats the arguments from the campfire debate earlier. These may be different characters, but the audience is hearing the same argument twice. It makes sense to come up with a couple of different, character-specific ideas - just to shade in more of the nuance.

67: I’ve been giving your dialog a hard time today, so I wanted to remark on the line “It’s just a nose.” It’s witty and memorable…it says something direct in a really indirect way. So, ironically, the line about nose punching is not at all on-the-nose.


#198

Apologies for not responding promptly - I’ve been horribly sick all week.

Your feedback is spot on, as usual. First off, I’m not sure why writing good dialogue is so hard for me. I’m the type of person who prefers to avoid subtext in real life, maybe that’s part of it. I think I feel a need to explain what precisely is going on through dialogue, which is a really bad habit.

Regarding your note on page 58, I know what you mean. Pay off is something I have yet to master. I didn’t anticipate the Kenny thing until halfway through the screenplay, and so I didn’t have a chance to establish the seeds of it in the beginning, and establish a progression of why things happened the way they did. I guess that would be meant for the second draft, but I’d rather spot something interesting like that at the initial pages of writing to avoid the massive revisions ahead.

Also noted about the repeating conversations - thank you for making me aware.

I appreciate your eye for detail and time, Jessica. Thank you. Hope you’re having a good weekend.


#199

You might benefit from writing by an outline. I write linear, but that’s not necessarily a good decision (for me or anyone else). Linear writing is considered dangerous, and every book I’ve looked at, every professional I’ve listened to, and every lecture I’ve come across has said very flatly that writing from an outline is the only way to get anything done.

The wisdom behind outlines is that they lay out the entire structure of your story before you’ve committed time. One lecture I ran across said you should literally number some paper 1 - 40 (because the average 90 minute film has about 40 scenes), then you pencil in every important thing that happens until you run out of story.

The reason I don’t do that is that my approach is extremely character-focused…I feel like the little ‘personalities’ need time to grow before I know what they need to do. But linear writing brings big structural issues that remain deeply woven into the fabric.

Example: @Spica pointed out that Fritz’ transformation is sudden and unexplained. That’s because the original ending was TOTALLY different. They were supposed to make it to the monastery unharmed and spend half the movie walking to the other side of the world. The idea was kind of a road movie to a magical lake where restless spirits can be released to the land of the dead. No Dija, no Violet, no phoenix.

All that changed when I decided on one simple idea: Frtiz’ gang shouldn’t give up on him - it’s not in their character. I think the change ended up being really cool, and I love where the story ended up…but there are still structural problems that have to be solved in yet ANOTHER draft that will take yet another eight hours to do.

Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be about me. It’s just something for both of us to think about going forward. Linear writing breeds a lot of weird termites in your foundation, so it might be a good experiment to go from an outline.


#200

I don’t have pages for you guys this week…I’ve been outlining. Three scripts have been written linear, so I know how that process works (and I know I can get from page 1 to 100 without exploding). So I thought I’d take my own advice and try to outline. As good as it is for working through my story structure, I don’t know how good it is for the writer’s group thread as an outline is pretty bland and matter-of-fact. All of the color of a regular script page is basically drained. Also, if I plan on surprising you guys with anything in the future, feeding you the outline is not necessarily what I need to be doing.

By next week, I’ll have a complete outline for Yeshiva Gangster. If you want to see it, you’re welcome, but I think it’s probably better to wait and see some completed work. That’s coming down the pipe, and I’ll surely have actual writing for you next week.


#201

I’m interested in your outline, as I’m a very linear writer myself I’d like to see how you’re tackling it that way.


#202

I’m personally ok with waiting but I’ll read whatever you post.


#203

Apologies for the delay in response; I had a medical emergency that took me out of doing anything but sitting on the couch watching television for a week or so.

@Exquisite_Corpse Great conversation to have. I agree with everything you’re saying about linear writing. It’s rare that everything is “right” the first time. 99% of the time, you find a better ending (for example) in the process of writing your story, and it’s a beast to go back and change everything to fit the ending. The only outlining process I’ve ever done involved notecards, and it felt so forced and unnatural that I only did it once. But you’re right - I think I have to figure out some kind of outlining process; otherwise, I doubt much of what I write is going to make sense.

I’m looking forward to seeing your outline as well.


#204

I’m not necessarily ready to show the YG outline (just came up with several new ideas that need incorporating)…BUT I happened to write half a practice outline before starting YG. It’s not a film I ever intend on writing, but boxing movies are kind of a ‘platonic form’ in the sense that they use basically every textbook writing trick and consistently come out watchable.

Here’s what my outlines are looking like right now: https://www.docdroid.net/FI0WqTN/outline-shit-boxing-film.pdf


#205

Hiya,

So, this was a pleasure to read. This did what a good outline is supposed to do – it broke down scenes into their essential elements. I want to say that I primarily appreciated the humor of your piece, such as Cindy and Mik agreeing to a drink at their narcotics anonymous meeting, along with:

Mikhail vomits in a stall while Blake expounds on how well they’ve done today.

:smiley: Excellent.

I’m going to critique the content only because you might find it useful in the future:

  1. I love the cross-cutting opening. It provides momentum to the overall story, and you get an immediate sense of backstory and of the path each character might take in the movie. It would make a great opening credit sequence, which is why I was so surprised when you placed the credits after this sequence. Also, I think you don’t need to show Blake and Mikhail recovering at the same time. The audience will discover that their childhood homes are one block apart when they meet. I think that you should show Blake recovering, without Mikhail. Imagine the surprise to the audience when Blake meets Mikhail on the street (holy shit? You’re back in town? What happened to your fucking face?). I think it works better that way.

  2. Okay, so by page seven or eight of your outline, your story needs that something to up the stakes. Your story isn’t really about these guys getting good at boxing, it’s about redemption or fulfillment or whatever (the emotional goal, if you’ve read David Trottier, which you might have). How are they going to achieve that? How is boxing going to get them the thing they need? Introduce a tournament, something that can fulfill their individual goals and give them something to work toward (this could also be introduced during scene 13 or scene 17).