RJFS Writer's group!


#83

So on top of my country officiating the reign of an orange lunatic last week, two members of my family were hospitalized. Needless to say, it was a little tough to get the writing done, but I’ve caught back up!

I’ll have thoughts on all new material ASAP. Keep writing, you beautiful people!

Oh, and @TalkSweet there is NO SHAME in stealing ideas from other writers. Affectionately borrowing things that work is one of the primary ways to improve your craft (it’s part of why any screenwriting teacher will tell you to read screenplays). I’m honestly flattered that you want to steal my formatting! (however, if you steal my words, I will find you :smiley: )


#84

I’ll read the new Paladin soon @Exquisite_Corpse, I hope your family will be okay and that this orange dude doesn’t make any damage.

For what I read, let’s start with @TalkSweet’s Moonshine.
I liked that new Brooklyn version, starting with action is more exciting and introduces us to the world in an effective way. What I could say is that the flashback scene is not necessary. We already know that she is a lycan, we don’t need to see a transformation scene.
But then I read the new version of the original story and it was interesting too. The two stories are interesting but you’ll need to choose which one you want to tell for now.
About Pianolason Mars critiscism I have to disagree. I don’t think anything was copied and even if it was the case it wouldn’t be a problem, the story remains differents and you are free to get inspiration from other story. And as said nothing is sacred here, we are here to learn so if we wanted to copy something why not?
The names like SNIPER or LEADER are obviously not the real names of the characters but it’s easier to follow with these, not a problem too.
And about the character it’s normal we don’t know her personality yet, it’s the beginning of the story. I don"t think she’s really the cliche weak girl, ok she’s a girl, ok she’s lost for now… But that’s just drama.
And about the beginning of the script which “doesn’t work in a movie” I have to disagree too. It’s an opportunity for a bit of exposition of the world, and it works, no matter if it’s too fast for a movie or not.
As long as it works, it’s okay.
So keep writing the story you want.

Now let’s talk about @PianolasonMars’s Down in the Valley.
I like your story, and I’m really interested in what’s coming next. But I’m concerned about the beginning which seems (even though I don’t know where you’re going) to only introduce the bad guy and the Survivalists against Locusts conflict. It was good but do we need the sacrifice of 5 characters we started to like and their own story to introduce that?
Also you describe the scene as BUNKER but the action takes place in different rooms, you maybe should be more precise.
Though it was good, keep writing!

And what about my pages? Well, they are coming (slooowly).
Slow and steady, ok? :sweat_smile:


#85

I think it’s important that we hold each other accountable for some level of originality. Rehashing the style and tone of another person’s screenplay, however amateur, doesn’t do any service to either writer. Flattery is fine, but if we’re talking about replicating obvious stylistic elements in someone else’s work without acknowledging those likenesses, or thinking about why those choices were made, then it doesn’t forward an overall understanding of the craft, which is why we’re here.

@Talksweet, I meant no disrespect. But I value originality extremely highly when it comes to creating anything, and that’s where my anger came from. If you are seriously considering doing anything in the arts, your unique point of view will likely be the only thing that distinguishes you from the many other talented and dedicated people in your field, the only thing that ultimately makes you “worthy” of doing this for a living. Even (especially) at this stage, that uniqueness is something to be nurtured, not thrown under the bus for the sake of inspiration.

@Spica, while I welcome healthy disagreement as an aspect of these forums (and genuinely appreciate your contributions that have all but kept this place alive every week), I have to respond to your critique of @Talksweet’s screenplay, especially concerning the opening. No industry screenplay I’ve read, however low-budget, will throw a viewer into a movie so abruptly without taking at least a page to establish tone, pacing, and character. Ideally these elements are laid out slowly and carefully, so when the presence of the monster eventually disrupts the world, it’s a much more thrilling experience for the audience, because certain cinematic relationships have already been so well-cultivated. Message me if you want to see the horror screenplays I have.

@Exquisite_Corpse, I wish your family members a speedy recovery, and more sanity for you in the coming weeks.

I’ll submit my screenplay tonight, and will respond to any new submissions this weekend.


#86

@PianolasonMars - I really love how much life there is in your dead little world…apocalypse stories are very much ‘flower in the desert’ narratives, and yours hits that note really well. You also get brownie points for the fact that religious themes are always hovering around in this script; they don’t take over the narrative, there’s nothing that implies a value judgement; your characters simply contextualize their world through shared narrative and belief….like actual people! There’s something really genuine about the way the subject is handled, and I love it.

It’s sort of a reprise note, but I have more thoughts on the way your characters vocalize loss: They’re just too articulate when they tell us how many of their family members died and where and how. Grieving people often speak in super short, barely coherent sentences, and - even though you don’t want to confuse the audience - I don’t think it would be a problem to do something like write a line that’s just a list of names (people we’ve never heard of), shouted at us as if we were the ones that killed them. Grief tends to make us loud, short, and ridiculous.

Final thought is that I’m all the way on board with the Jaime plot…it seems like he’s got himself a hero’s journey to embark on, and I’m ready with my popcorn.

@talksweet - I like this version better than the first….same environment, WAY more stuff happening. I feel a lot more urgency when we start with the perspective of the patients rather than the perspective of the staff.

However, in this version I think the opposite note applies from the compliment I gave you last time: Your descriptions are a little too minimalistic here….maybe it’s that we’re jumping from place-to-place a lot more, but I don’t feel like I always know where I am and what it looks like.

What I’m really seeing is that you have two semi conflicting styles bumping around inside - one of them is this super frenetic, fast paced beat-beat-beat action style, and the other is a slow burner that is concerned with desk furniture and facial expressions. It would be really great to see these two things working together….fire and ice can do beautiful things.


#87

Because I hit page 50, it’s time for me to start thinking about the next script! So here are some loglines I’ve been kicking around, and I’d love to hear thoughts on which one you’d want to read in the future:

Yeshiva gangsters
Two friends at an orthodox Jewish high school make fast cash selling drugs to classmates in a story of money, murder, and mitzvot.

U571 + Alien
A team of researchers in hostile space encounter a ship-swallowing predator which cripples their vessel and hunts them through an asteroid field.

“Blood of my Blood”
A young chef discovers the family secret when his sister - a vampire - returns to hunt her blood relatives. Our hero fights impossible odds to save his restaurant and his family in a tale of tradition, hunter, and hunted.

Black comedy
A group of friends form an elaborate plan to murder one of their enemies, but - once in motion - everything begins to go horribly, hilariously wrong.

Farce
Two medieval clergymen accidentally break a holy relic and try to pass off a forgery to the local Bishop.


#88

Yeshiva Gangsters seems the most interesting to me.


#89

Wanted to post my five pages before the week is over: Down in the Valley

Promise I’ll provide feedback on pages within a few days.

@Exquisite_Corpse Thank you for your feedback. It’s much appreciated, and again, you hit the nail on the head concerning a screenwriting trait of which I’m becoming painfully aware: I have a problem giving exposition to the audience in a way that doesn’t seem stilted or obvious. From what you’re saying, I should pay more attention to the characters’ feelings in the moment. More expressions of loss this week (they just keep coming), and hopefully they’ll seem more real in the pages submitted over time.

Also, you had me at Yeshiva Gangsters. Please do that one.

@Spica Thank you for your feedback as well. Your comments are noted, and I’m glad you liked the 5 characters in the beginning. As I stated, I’d need to rewrite the beginning completely to match the tonal shift of the pages after it, so consider that beginning completely separate from the rest of the movie.


#90

@Exquisite_Corpse and @PianolasonMars I read your new pages and I have nothing new to say, I’m waiting for what comes next!

And Jessica, you’ll probably need to rewrite Paladin one or two times to make it as good as it possibly can be. So don’t start another project at the moment you finished that one.


#91

This week I have either a very pleasant or very horrible surprise…depending on how excited you are about new Paladin content. The reason is that a Hollywood human may be interested in reading one of my scripts! No need to be excited - they read TONS of scripts. But the idea of a Halloween sequel was floated, and I just happen to have written one of those on spec. The result is that I spent the whole week scrambling to re-write this monster into a non-embarassing first draft.

The first 42 pages are here…you don’t necessarily have to read the whole thing (I know it’s asking a lot), but I would definitely like to get some feedback before shipping this thing to someone who evaluates scripts for a living.

As for good old Paladin, I have a few new pages, but I still haven’t gotten much feedback on what I posted a week ago, so I might as well wait. No need to oversaturate you lovely people with toooooo much of a (semi) good thing.


#92

My e-book reader has given up on itself, so I’m far, far back with all my readings, but I still want to give feedback to as many of you as I think I can be helpful, when I’m able, I just have to figure out my current e-book reader situation (and possibly I have to finish XCOM :smiley: too)


#93

Jessica,

Congratulations on having someone from Hollywood interested in your script. That’s amazing.

I’m sorry for not providing feedback on Paladin. I just moved back to the states after being abroad for a while. The jet lag’s been terrible. I haven’t been writing at all.

Anyway, I read your entire screenplay. I’m not sure how much feedback you’re looking for, as it seems like this screenplay is more or less ready to send out? I’ll write down everything I have; incorporate whatever feedback you feel benefits you at this stage.

  1. Regarding the opening sequence, It works better if the newscaster voice wraps up when the credits end (not after).
  2. Look over punctuation before you send it out (obviously). Also, the use of ellipses needs to be toned down a little. I think ellipses work best when used thoughtfully. The power of silence is a marvelous thing, in screenplays and on film, and I’m worried that having characters constantly “…” all the time makes them seem hesitant and vapid…you know how stereotypical valley girls use “like” all the time? Also, it reads as an eyesore on the page.
  3. See if you can cut any unnecessary lines from your dialogue, and condense any exposition. For example, on page 11, the exchange between Briggs and Thatcher: “Come here Doctor”/“Why”/“I just want to show you something” can be cut entirely. Also, I’d suggest a montage when he talks about Myers being released from Stone’s Grove. Sounds and images (archival footage, maybe?) would make a much more powerful impact than words, in this case.

I hope I helped. Good luck, and let us know what happens with this screenplay.

The feedback I promised last week will be delivered, promise. New work from me will be posted next week.


#94

I’m really busy but I’ll do my best to read your script and send feedback as soon as I can!

Also should I watch John Carpenter’s Halloween first?


#95

“Interested” might be too big of a word…it was one of those things where someone mentioned offhand that they would love to see a Halloween sequel with Danielle Harris (who played Jamie Lloyd in '88) as the director. I said “I have that script already! Read it, read it, read it!” and got an invitation to toss my script on top of a pile of other scripts if I get it to them in a reasonable time. It’s one of those things where I’m putting my foot in the door so I can have the experience of getting it stepped on. It’s the rejection that will lead to many more rejections that may eventually lead to selling one of these word-piles. But the first rejection is a big milestone!

@Spica I’m actually curious how it would read to someone who’s never seen a Halloween movie - because (obviously) I’m a fan of this material, and it’s hard for me to get into the head of a first time viewer. In terms of continuity, it’s really a sequel to Halloween 4 (the opening sequence of my script is the ending sequence of 4), but I did write it with the hope that it would provide a story of its own as well as a lot of great fan shoutouts. All that to say: Try to read it with no introduction to the Halloween world…if you’re able to follow and enjoy the story, that’s totally what I’m aiming for…and if you can’t follow along, I need to know that too.

@PianolasonMars What a climate to come home to! You step off the plane and IMMEDIATELY it’s protests in the airport, Trump, and ubiquitous Superbowl nonsense…reverse culture shock! Your point about the overuse of elipses is painful but fair; I am somehow allergic to the simple period and usually opt to write massively long sentences by cheating with punctuation … - ; it’s a habit that is not always good when trying to be economical and precise. As for the superfluous lines, they’re there to make the dialog sound more naturally human, but it’s true that they mostly serve to prolong scenes that are already dialog heavy (in a horror script no less). For sure, I need to reduce the padding. I think the main thing that concerns me and the main question I have for the group is whether the shift in tone for the second half makes it seem like two movies welded together. That will be answered when I get the second half up.


#96

It was pretty crazy to read about everything going on overseas. Somehow, it affected me more abroad than it does now that I’m living back home. I’m trying to avoid all the Trump think-pieces (an oxymoron, wouldn’t you say?) in the media and hoping to ride out the next four years.

I’m glad you posted your Halloween screenplay. That’s cool that you already had the idea written out when someone suggested it - how often does that happen, really? Anyway, when you get the second half up, definitely post it.

Hope everyone’s week is going well.


#97

Hey, just read you script!
Nothing to say about the story, it was interesting and made sense even though I haven’t seen any Halloween.

My concern is more about the formatting itself.
You have a tendency to write as if you were the director. It’s ok for something personal but if your script is read by someone then it becomes problematic.The script is less pleasant to read.
If your movie is produced you probably won’t direct it, and the director won’t like to be dragged in the direction you want him to go.
You still can describe what you want on screen without being that obvious. For example when you want to show the page in the typewriter, instead of:
CLOSE ON: a page in the typewriter. The page reads: “Name: Jamie Lloyd”. The mechanism types out “AKA Jamie Myers”.
you can write:
There is a page in the typewriter. The page reads: “Name: Jamie Lloyd”. The mechanism types out “AKA Jamie Myers”.
That way you tell what you want on screen, but as a writer.

Still about your script being full of unnecessary elements: there’s a lot of cuts which are not needed for your story, we don’t care if Fade In or a Dissolve is used, you’re just wasting room.

Avoid dialogue parentheticals as much as possible, your dialogues are supposed to be well-written enough so we don’t need to be told the emotions of you character. And when you describe actions do it in action lines, not in the parentheticals.

A few other things: You’re sometimes not precise enough in your Scene lines. Like in the hallway outside of the meeting room, why didn’t you wrote INT. SMITH’S GROVE, HALLWAY - LATER?
You use VO for OS or ON PHONE which isn’t exactly the same.

Aaaand I think that’s all I have to say.
It may look like bad critiscism but it’s just because I didn’t had a lot to say about all the good parts, I had a good time reading.
I hope you’ll improve your script as much as you can, keep writing!


#98

Hi,

It’s been a month since any of us posted last. I thought that all of us had a really good thing going here. It’s been really cool seeing people of all levels of interest in screenwriting be inspired to write and leave feedback for others.

I haven’t been doing my part. I know that I promised feedback for @Exquisite_Corpse and @TalkSweet a while ago. I also haven’t submitted anything. Last month I moved back home after being abroad for a while. It’s been an adjustment, to put it mildly, and the adjustment has gotten in the way of writing diligently.

Even if this thread doesn’t receive another reply for quite some time, I’m really grateful that there’s a forum for people to express their creativity, passion, and desire to learn more about the craft of screenwriting, so for anyone who reads this and may be interested, whether you’re new to the thread or you’ve submitted before, you have an audience that’s interested in your ideas, willing to provide feedback, and supportive of your desire to write.

On that note…

@TalkSweet I was harsh when I critiqued your screenplay. I stand by what I said, but my response was out of proportion to the situation. I want to apologize. The more people involved in this forum brings more enthusiasm to the art and craft of screenwriting to this site in general, and we all get the chance to grow as writers that way. I negatively affected that environment here with my comments, and for that I’d like to apologize to everyone on this forum. Also, @TalkSweet, I don’t want my uncalled-for hostility to diminish your interest in screenwriting in any way.

The Brooklyn version of Moonshine isn’t my cup of tea for reasons that I explained in my previous post and should be looked at as separate from my critiques on the originality. Maybe you’re no longer interested, but I did promise feedback for your remaining pages. You also took the time and discipline to write them, and that alone should give your work the chance to find the largest audience possible.

I liked your first pages and remember them pretty well, so my feedback is for the remaining ones in your screenplay.

–I like the addition of Gene’s past. Stuff about the Arcane Wars, son of legendary hunter Sam Silver – super creative.
– A lot of exposition between Markus and Gene. Try and show their conversation through images, or enhance that conversation with cinematic devices (some montage, quick cuts). For screenwriters and directors, it’s always better to show rather than tell.
–Concerning your comments before the start of the new screenplay: I agree that Gene’s back story is great. When you say he’s not easy to relate to, do you mean as a personality? I don’t think that’s the fault of the character. In my opinion, if you have a character with a great backstory and you feel like he could be the protagonist, there’s got to be some nugget of soul in there that you could develop into a full-fleshed character that feels real. Forget about his lineage – what’s he been doing in the months and years before he entered this facility? Did he ever kill people? What are his views on all of these monsters? I think that Gene would work as a main character, although I’d give him a damn good reason to leave his adventurous upbringing to work in the therapist trade.
– I get your point about him knowing too much about the world, which doesn’t leave room for the audience to catch up. Have you thought of adding a supporting character through which the audience can get up to speed? There’s actually a screenplay term for this, where a character who’s new to the world of the movie functions as a stand-in for the audience. It doesn’t mean he has to be the main character though.
–Lastly, tone: hopefully this doesn’t contradict what I’ve said before: the tone of the action-packed Brooklyn screenplay is more engaging, because what happens is vivid and striking (the race of tackling a violent werewolf in the middle of the night; holy shit!). However, vivid and striking is different than memorable. I remembered Gene and Markus months after reading your original incarnation of Moonlight because I enjoyed their interactions with each other and the world around them. If you could combine the character development and pacing (key, here) of your first script with the action elements of your second screenplay, you’d Level Up in terms of your screenwriting achievements.

I hope this feedback helped.


#99

@Exquisite_Corpse

You’ve been slumbering, I see. Inquiring minds want to know what you’ve been up to. Did you start the second part of Halloween? Did you get any industry attention for the first part you posted already?

And what’s going on with Paladin? I really enjoyed reading your latest ten pages. The push-and-pull dynamic between Myrin and Fritz is so great, and their clashing backgrounds and points of view provide a lot of lightheartedness…it’s wonderful. Also, I’m liking Fritz’s character more and more by the page. Maybe it’s that this greedy thief is definitely out of his element with the morally sound Myrin around, but it’s really cool to see this guy’s character develop from putting him in different angles and situations. Also, I’m really excited about all the possibilities that Dija’s presence opens for Myrin…and also that Myrin has a friend, someone to talk to (the morally righteous path can be a lonely path). It’s a credit to your writing abilities that I want companionship for Myrin, because it means I care about her. EDIT: Well, I definitely wasn’t expecting the kiss to happen. Threw all my conventions out the window. I’m still excited to read what happens next.
Also, I like the descriptions of the inn; I can definitely see it on the page. Good job!


#100

Basically I’ve just had a very bad month - lots and lots of boring personal stuff to deal with that wrecked my writing schedule. Life is not always kind, but things are returning to normal. AND, during that time I did get 90 pages of Halloween re-edited, so that’s very close, and I have another few pages of Paladin written.

I’m really glad to hear that the Myrin and Fritz dynamic is working…they’re a lot more fun to write when they’re together than when they’re apart, and I think it’s because they’ve both lived secluded lives by-the-sword, and neither the peasants nor the nobles of their world have any idea what their experience is like. But they understand each other even though they come from opposite moral realities.

As for the fate of my work in the industry, I did give the entire first draft of Halloween to the producer, and the feedback was semi-positive. Basically, I got a pat on the back and a “keep writing kid” - which is good, but not particularly substantial. Still, it does demonstrate that a little poking in the right places WILL get you read by people who matter.


#101

@PianolasonMars thanks for being here! That thread is a great one, it’s important to keep it alive.
@Exquisite_Corpse it’s great to see you back even if everything is not going as you wish to.

I won’t say that I’ll post pages soon because, ok, I’m writing too slowly. But when I’m done I’ll post here.


#102

Really sorry to hear about your month. I’m glad things are returning to normal. I’ll be looking forward to writing from you should you ever decide to post again.

–Mars