RJFS Writer's group!


#63

Hey yes - sorry. Like I said, I really enjoyed your script (and am a huge fan of afterlife movies in general), so I’m interested in seeing where you take things.


#64

Yo! Okay, I didn’t write much this week at all, but at least I finished the opening.


Any feedback would be appreciated - thanks!

@Exquisite_Corpse Good to hear from you! I’m looking forward to Myrin and Fritz’s character development, due to the nature of their strange situation. My only real recommendation for this week is that you describe what Muggle Fritz looks like in the screenplay - having people other than Myrin see a different form makes things interesting, but the humor of the situation is lost if the reader doesn’t have a proper visual comparison.

In terms of the elements you mentioned earlier, I think what really matters when deciding whether to use camera direction and parentheticals is the storytelling. If your screenplay “flows” better or seems more vivid because of these terms, then use them; if not, then find another way to articulate the scene. I don’t use them, as I spent many years writing prose before turning to screenplays, and feel that I’m a better writer without them. As long as these techniques are seamlessly incorporated into the writing so they don’t draw attention to themselves, fine.


#65

Hey there.

I’ve been following RJFS since it started but this is the first time I’m really on the forms. I’m sorry that I’m such a late entry to this but hopefully I can make it up, but I am at college and doing other film related projects which will need my time and attention. Hopefully I can do my part though.

I’m here mostly because I am writing my first feature length script and I’m in dire need of help at times, but also I would love to help out with other people’s scripts since we’re all on the same boat. Right?

So my script is called ‘Moonshine’. It’s a modern supernatural thriller of sort that’s mainly around a therapist called Gene Silver who is going to work at one of the first ever Lycan (werewolf) Rehabilitation centres. (I know. ‘Silver’ is the most blunt, in your face, hammer-to-the-head, last names to give a protagonist in a werewolf story but it’s a starting place.) The last thing I’ll tell you is that it’s a situation where there’s our world and then a hidden supernatural one with the wizards, vampires and such.

I have the first 9 pages written, so without further ado here they are!

Critique away!

I would have had 10 or more but I’ve ran into one of those ‘in dire need of help’ situations. I mean, I have a vague idea, Markus shows him around, he need to do something, Gene wonders about and bumps into new character, but I’m really unsure how to execute the showing him around part to get to there. Should he introduce him to the patients so we get a better idea of who they are and can humanise them more? Do I show the different parts of the rehab centre to make sure the reader knows where is where when we get to the main conflict in act two. I just can’t figure it out.

If anyone can help me figure this out I would be so grateful. Hopefully I’ll be here on Friday with a whole new 10 pages.


#66

Hey everybody! It’s feedback time!

@PianolasonMars, with The Winston Bunkers!
A thing I had to say about your script is about how you often write pretty phrases ( like “It seems large enough to devour the ashen sky, along with the hopes and feelings of everyone who’s ever lived under it.” at the end).
Although they are pleasant to read, thay are not needed. You are writing a script, not a novel, and what is important then is to make you story clear, not great to read. While writing a script, less is more. If you don’t need to add something, then don’t write it!
Another lil’ thing: next time, if you can upload your script as a PDF it would be cool, as it’s easier to keep track of pages and stuff with that format. Still not necessary so don’t make it too much of a deal if you prefer to keep it to .txt.
I’m looking forward to what comes next to your story!

Moonshine, by @TalkSweet.
First, welcome to the forums! You’re never too late.
About your script, I think you could write Markus showing the place to Gene. It would be an opportunity to show the facilities, introduce more of your universe… During the visit, you can introduce the patients too!
And you could add some sort of conflict during the tour.

And finally Paladin written by @Exquisite_Corpse
Honestly I’m falling in love with your story, I really like it.
About what’s new, if think their reaction after the fight is not really realistic, they quickly assume that their linked, they don’t seem surprised to share their wounds. Maybe write one or two more lines of dialogs? One more punch during the fight so they can be sure about what’s going on?
Also it’s weird to know that Muggle Fritz doesn’t look like Fritz, but still not knowing what he really looks like. You could describe him briefly, no?

So that’s it, keep writing everybody!

About me, I said I would probably upload a script next Friday but I have a lot of not-that-cool stuffs going on right now so not as much free time to write as I would like to, etc. I’m still (really slowly) working on my script but I won’t upload it before some time. Anyway, I’ll still try to read your script and post feedback every week.


#67

Spica,

I appreciate your feedback, thanks!
A question for you, based on the following sentence you mentioned:
"It seems large enough to devour the ashen sky, along with the hopes and feelings of everyone who’s ever lived under it."
Irrespective of the nature of the screenwriting format and rules, did this sentence help you visualize the scene, and/or establish mood and tone? Or did it seem superfluous - not on the basis of any general screenwriting rule, but simply because it felt verbose? How does the sentence read on its own?

P.S. I’ve been having trouble submitting my screenplay to Docdroid as a PDF - it won’t accept it, which is why I submit in the txt format. What screenwriting software do you use?

Thanks,
Mars


#68

Honestly I don’t think you need that sentence. It’s pretty but not helpful.

For writing I use Trelby. Could you describe more precisely what was your problem?


#69

Give Google Docs (or Google Drive) a go, but otherwise try Microsoft OneDrive.


#70

Thanks, AOShaw!


#71

When I uploaded my screenplay as a PDF, when I’d click on view file, the pages would come out as blank.
AOShaw provided me alternative uploading solutions.


#72

@heyhatti I really have no idea what you’re doing, but keep doing it because you have a style all your own….it’s like some ridiculous lovechild of Terry Gilliam and a Disney channel special. The note I have for you this week is on pacing: Everything jumps from moment to moment really quickly, and I think extending the dialog sections would help us feel more at home in the world. Obviously you don’t want to fill blank space with actual nothing, but give us a little more information on the characters by letting them voice their insane thought patterns.

@Talksweet Your concept is just plain excellent….I was a big fan of Being Human (the British one…not the weird American remake), and this fits wonderfully with the legacy in terms of telling stories in the same spirit without directly ripping off the source material. Also, there isn’t enough drama set in rehab facilities, so this is a great excuse to talk about all of those themes: Addiction, redemption etc. Your main strength is description; I love the economy of detail you have in terms of short text-blocks full of good, important information.

Your main weakness is dialog….there’s just something rigid about the way your characters speak, and I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s definitely there. A lot of writers recommend people-watching to help you with dialog, and I think it’s a good idea. Just spend some time out and about with a notebook, and write down things that people say. Shamelessly steal people’s crazy speech patterns.

@Pianolasonmars This is quality writing; as an ‘all around’ script, yours is the most unassailable in that the plot structure is there, the dialog is there, the world is there, and I care about what happens……there’s the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and there’s not much to fix with this one.

The major note I can give you is with regards to the action sequences: Your actual descriptions are on-point, but they’re not separated from the rest of the description text in any way. I’m an American, so I ABUSE CAPS to get the point across, but I’m sure you can do similar work by just separating the action from everything else. Never be afraid to give action beats their own line - because it’s known that action takes up more time on screen than it typically does on the page, so these line breaks can actually serve to increase the accuracy of your page-to-time ratio.

@Thread: One of the things that’s fascinating me about all of your scripts is the extent to which video games have become as much a storytelling influence as classic films. Doubly interesting when you consider the fact that video games typically have AWFUL writers (seriously, games industry - hire all of us to write your scripts…we could definitely do it better!)

I don’t have much written this week because I started another script (it’s for a writing seminar - a gift from my father who loves me) on top of extending the Paladin work….so I will probably have TWO scripts for you next week. Also, I’m getting midpoint jitters on old Paladin because I’m hitting page FIFTY. Which means I’m halfway done with the script and ready to start research for the next project!

I hope to see more from all of you as the little thread grows and grows!


#73

@Exquisite_Corpse thankyou so much. I’m going on a short trip, so I won’t be posting episode 2 until next friday. See you then!


#74

Here to make my weekly contribution. I’ll start with some advice: don’t leave your professional workload to the last minute. You likely won’t get pages done.

I will have pages next week. In the meantime, here’s feedback for @Talksweet and @Exquisite_Corpse:

@TalkSweet: Welcome to the forum! I also like the concept a lot; that alone is enough to keep my interest going for a while. With the werewolves+rehab combo, that could create all sorts of interesting situations, and I have a hunch things aren’t going to turn out as planned. Hope you get the chance to post again, because I’ll be reading. Your scene descriptions are great - you know how to draw attention to what the viewer needs to see without any camera direction. I have to agree with EC’s take on the dialogue, though. Just looking at the cafeteria scene: to keep things interesting, you could add some exposition that keeps the story moving forward. Besides introductions, what would these character talk about? What questions would Gene have? He’s basically our only portal into the story in this point, and through him we’re finding out the regulations and rules of this world, and little details will help the viewer orient to your story. Also, your dialogue doesn’t have any emotional rhythm. How would different character actions affect the emotions of the others? How would these emotions affect their responses? Do you think you could write your screenplay in such a way where the characters would respond differently to Gene’s new presence in rehab? How would that make Gene feel? I also have a minor critique: the lack of knowledge about the security system at the beginning is off-putting. You can’t reveal that little information about something super important in the opening scene (especially when it’s so critical to Gene’s background) without turning off the viewer. If you really don’t want the audience to know the full power of what your security does or looks like until a critical moment, then tease. But do it thoughtfully. That’s another post.

@Exquisite_Corpse Your comment made my day, on multiple levels. Thank you for the positive feedback. It was really cool to read. And holy moly, your comment about giving the action beats their own line really put it into perspective. I’ve combed through quite a few screenplays trying to get some framework as to when to create a line break, and when to continue a paragraph. Your feedback will likely help me a great deal in the future. And I’m glad you mentioned video-games. The structures of games like Mass Effect and Bio-shock are amazing, and if I work hard enough and get lucky, hopefully I’ll be able to do them justice in the future. Enjoy your writing seminar.

See you next week everybody! Thank you all for posting!


#75

Hi again!

So I read two scripts on here, which I both enjoyed, so here’s what I have to say about them.

@Exquisite_Corpse: My God, that was a great read. That character introduction was amazing, and the script in general had superb ebb and flow. I also love the twist. It threw me off when you murdered him, but that bathroom scene put a big old grin on my face. For critiques I didn’t know that Baby was a dwarf until they got to the shrine. I don’t know if he’s gonna appear again, but it threw me off because I didn’t imagine him as such so I had to all of a sudden change my image of him in my head. Overall though it was two big thumbs up.

@PianolasonMars: Also a great read. You have such a good grasp on keeping a high tension with the use of your action lines. You also made were able to give the Survivalist crew each strong personalities that when you killed them it was a genuine shock. The issue I had with your script was a lack of set up for what it all looked like at the the beginning. I’m still an amateur, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I feel like it lacked that foundation. I wasn’t sure what any of them looked like, what they wore, or even how the world really looked. Ricochet telling the story of Moses is great and all the stuff you did dialogue wise and the final action line is lovely, but I feel like I wasn’t really sure how the basic look was. Again, grain of salt, but I really enjoyed the whole grayness of this whole war these two groups seem to have.

So that’s what I think. Hope it helps. I’ll be posting my script later today.


Confidence Issues as an Artist
#76

HEY!

So I didn’t post my new pages on Sunday like I said I would, and that is a story. I had 10 new pages all written out, but then I realised that the character I was following as the protagonist just didn’t work. Why did Gene work? Because:

  1. He is to shy and nervous making it hard to have great dialogue between him and others.
  2. He knows to much about the world to have it explained to him so the audience knows.
  3. He just isn’t working.

He’ll still be in the story, but just not as the protagonist. So everything you read never really happened? But it did? Anyway I decided to do it from the perspective of a patient I was gonna introduce, so here’s the first seven pages of that.


#77

Right.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B92ANbTfQxhZaHd2WnJwQjFGUUE/view

Above is five new pages. I will respond to any scripts posted here (including yours @TalkSweet) in a few days.

In regards to my screenplay, the tone of the opening and what follows after it are completely different. I saw Gareth Edwards’ Monsters a few weeks ago, an alien movie made on a $500,000 dollar budget that was really effective and compelling, even without the presence of the aliens in much of the film. I was inspired to focus on the drama and conflict of the story, but it meant pulling away from the strong genre tone I started off with. Anyway, I’m going to have to rewrite the opening of the movie to make it more coherent with the new five pages, because I’m going to approach the story with this mindset going forward.

Also, I find writing apocalyptic/sci-fi screenplays difficult because I get so hopped up on the plausibility of the technology or the social customs. For the purposes of this forum I put those misgivings aside. The militant presence of the bunker probably clashes with the spartan conditions of those living outside it, but that shouldn’t get in the way of the story being interesting.

Hope everyone’s having a good week.


#78

Hey, could you allow downloads on your Google Drive file ?
That way I can download your script to read it offline when I have more time.


#79

Should be fixed now.


#80

@TalkSweet

I read your pages.

I think you had a more original take with your previous opening. It was a far more unique perspective on all of the tropes of this kind of genre, and that’s what made it interesting.

Three main points:

  1. The opening leaves no time for people to get oriented to your world. Maybe it would work as an episode of television, where the viewer is thrust into the action immediately, since the opening sets up the situation that needs to be solved during the episode over the course of an hour. But a movie is different. You should take the time to establish your world and your characters.
  2. If you’re going to give your characters stock names like Shotgun and Driver, do it for a reason. In my screenplay, the names fit the post-apocalyptic tone, and they happened to sound cool. They worked. In horror movies, you would never name characters Leader and Sniper. That’s a trope for a totally different kind of story, and it seems out of place here.
  3. The character of Brooklyn is all exposition. Where’s her personality? What precisely made you think she’d be any more interesting than Gene? At least Gene didn’t fit the archetype of the crazy/pursued horror movie girl that has all this horrible stuff happen to her.

You copied the character dynamics of @Exquisite_Corpse’s screenplay and the tonal elements of my screenplay without understanding why we made those choices. They don’t necessarily make our screenplays “good” or “art”. They are merely ways that uniquely appeal to us to express our stories.

None of us are published screenwriters. Nothing is sacred here. Still, I am stunned at the lack of originality in this revision. Why would you move so far in the other direction from Moonlight’s first incarnation? Because we critiqued you? That sort of critique, which we hopefully provided in a supportive and constructive way, is essential to becoming a good writer. It doesn’t mean that your work is bad, or that you’re not producing anything worthy of being read. I was genuinely looking forward to seeing what happened next in Moonlight as it was first presented, regardless of any issues of technique. Those issues were minor, in light of how good your premise was.

This forum is a place to grow as screenwriters. A place for us to write what we want, receive feedback from different, honest perspectives, and incorporate that feedback as we see fit to improve our writing. This isn’t the place to be a hack. Originality is what’s valued here, and it may be all that separates you from thousands of other screenwriters. Regardless of age or experience, Jason, you are accountable for how derivative your story is, and your choice to copy off the people who’ve worked hard to create their pages every single week interferes with the openness, honesty, and respect of this forum.


#81

I’m real sorry, I wasn’t trying to rip other people off at all.

I saw how @Exquisite_Corpse had named characters who weren’t important and that weren’t gonna be around a lot, but didn’t want to call Whatever #1, Whatever #2 and so on, so I decided to use it, but I probably should have asked about it before trying to use it. I never meant to try and take from other peoples hard work. I never even noticed that I was taking from your script. I must have just subconsciously done that.

I think I just got in my own head so much that I told myself I should just change perspective and it seemed a good idea at the time. I guess it wasn’t though. I just felt that Gene wasn’t a strong enough character, that the introduction of other characters were lackluster and my dialogue was plain awful.

Here’s the original script with the ten new pages I wrote.

It’s probably better if someone who isn’t me gives it a read. Sorry again if I have copied others work here and committed hacky practices. It won’t happen again.


#82

Oh. The stuff after page 19 is just that new revision and explaining why I made it. I was originally gonna post that but didn’t for some reason.