RJFS Writer's group!


#123

@PianolasonMars I took the liberty of writing a sample scene as a little ode to Jaime. I think he can definitely be used well in the story!

As for more detailed feedback on the rest: (1) Teeny quibble but naming your characters ‘Annie’ and ‘Frank’ makes the whole page read “Anne Frank, Anne Frank, Anne Frank” and it feels like a weird subliminal message. (2) More fun! You’ve got a lot of death, lack, and disease in there because that’s just the world your characters inhabit, but - even under the worst of circumstances - there’s a lot of levity in the world. Give your characters a little break once in a while - they deserve it. (3) In the sequence where we learn about Jed’s death, I think you should lead with the news that he’s missing - THEN go into the emotional moment. Because we need to know what happened before we can connect with the character.

One last thing - sample scene!


#124

Just to be clear, the class in general was about history and memory, so the example about Germany was only part of the class. Further, it wasn’t my research, but came from other historians. Regardless, here are links to the 2 papers we looked at:

The Hour of the Woman
The Search for a Usable Past


#125

Interesting but unimportant to my story, I think.


#126

I just read 20 pages of Paladin, it’s entertaining and funny. I hope you don’t kill Fritz later on. I thought he was damn funny. Also, you write like a Director.


#127

I haven’t seen it.


#128

Maybe you’ve gotten enough feedback on the initial part of your screenplay, but I’ll tell you what I saw in the first 10 pages, and then maybe I’ll catch up later. First, it’s a bit too much profanity and gore for my taste, but I’m a prude compared to most. I’ll put that aside for now.

Next, I’m learning from you as far as technical details go, so I don’t have a lot to say except that you appear to have a good balance of direction and story. I don’t think the direction got in the way (for the most part), but did well at adding to the description. The descriptions are good BTW. The one detail I noticed was music, and it’s more a question that a statement. How often does a screenplay specify music? It seems that would be something left more to the music director, whereas the screenwriter should be setting the mood.

So, the opening does a good job of launching Myrin’s journey. It doesn’t necessarily connect me to the character (and in that sense the opening is more of a teaser - almost like a trailer), but you do imbue the right “fantasy” feel to it all.

After the opening, there is an emotional drop, and based on some of Myrin’s dialogue it seems that may be what you wanted. There is a sense of waste - why did she go through all that to be a deputy rounding up petty criminals? It’s very much frontier justice - no trials. And it seems the criminals have no hope of being treated well if they’re caught.

The one thing I wanted more of is to know what Myrin thinks of all this. Is it typical for a Paladin to spend some time doing menial work like this such that she expected it? Myrin appears to have a slight distaste for what she’s doing, but she doesn’t question any of it. She seems religiously devoted to something (the goddess?) though I’m not quite sure yet what it is or why she is devoted. Does she have a personal goal in doing this or does she feel she’s part of something larger? That is what I was looking for.

Finally, it appears Myrin killed the third criminal. Why did she cut him down if only to kill him? The Captain doesn’t seem at all concerned with what happens to the criminals, so why does Myrin care? Maybe that comes later in the story.


#129

@Exquisite_Corpse I read the new version of Paladin and it’s much better.
Everybody getting out of the inn makes more sense than just jumping to Myrin tied up to a tree and the fight is more enjoyable too.

I would say that “Chaos ensues” on page 62 is not descriptive enough, and you may make it more obvious that it’s the song that is turning Myrin to stone. (“Fritz, make him shut his mouth, he’s cursing me!” or whatever you can find).

Two more things:
I think Dija throws the dust too early, she may wait for someone to attack her before, to feel in danger. She wants Myrin to be safe, not to kill, right?
Also it’s not clear why Myrin didn’t use the fog power before. You may have to introduce it beforehand or explain it after. Did she knew what she was doing or was she just praying? Can she use that power as much as she wants?

And for the Jaime story it was interesting too, had a good time reading it.


#130

Thanks for all the feedback on the Paladin script. It’s a good thing for me to go back and look at the early pages to see what’s changed about my writing style in the past few months. Here are my thoughts

(1) Myrin’s motivation and backstory: She definitely suffers from a severe lack of clarity…Myrin is a wandering warrior deeply bound up with a religious tradition the audience knows nothing about, her past isn’t really discussed (she doesn’t like to talk about it), and I’ve done a lot of worrying on the subject. The debate-

Argument A, keep it vague: At the end of the day, this is an odd-couple friendship story. Every page I delay getting the two main characters together is a page they can’t spend together later in the movie…it feels like it’s going to keep going and going, but this thing ENDS at page 110.

Argument B, it’s Myrin’s story: I have a new opening sequence worked out in my head where she’s a child rescued by an elder Paladin, and we intercut the credits with a montage of her growing up (which culminates in some version of the pilgrimage sequence). This is going to include some historical background on the world, information on how the religion works, who the Paladins are, and all of that saucy nonsense. HOWEVER, if I do that, see argument A.

Argument C, half-measures: I also have sequences worked out in my head where we periodically flashback to her training as a child. This will help us cheat in pieces of the argument B scenario without taking up as much room. A knee-jerk reaction I have is that the 70s show Kung Fu used this device constantly, and there’s really no way to avoid the comparison (young grasshopper). That said, it allows me to insert more story at a lower page cost. That said, flashbacks are cheesy…

Argument D, squeeeeeeze it in: By doing a few rewrites, I could aim to only grow the script by 1-2 pages but add a bit more exposition. I’m afraid to do this kind of thing because exposition is always a little sketchy, but the information gap between the writer and the audience is kind of HUGE, and this is the least invasive option in terms of leaving the original setup intact.

Argument E, wrong format: It could be this isn’t a feature film at all. Features need to get in, get out, and wrap up. A series, on the other hand, has all the time in the world to develop characters, and - with the success of Game of Thrones - costume dramas with swords and magic are hot (for now). I could definitely figure out a way to expand the beginning, and carve this into 2 episodes (at 50 pages each). Then it would be rewrites, polish, and move on to a new project!

(2) Everything Else: She cuts the criminal down because suicide is a sin in her religion. There’s a little exchange on page 10 or 11 where she says “The life in your body is not yours to give or to take away.” It’s a nibbly little reference to the question of suicide and whether (or when) you have a right to kill yourself. I might rewrite the way she phrases her answer.

You’re right to point out that Dija’s spellcast is a little awkward…obviously I just need to stick in a couple of things to smooth over the splice (that’s - obviously - where I stuck two pieces together during the rewrite). And I’ll also throw in a few more things about the petrification spell. Fritz should say something about it - for one.

Thanks for all the feedback - it’s really helping my work improve, and I’m hoping that I’ll be ready to start trying to sell my scripts in earnest by this time next year. Feedback on LightStorm’s scritpment is coming - I have actually read most of it, but I should read it all.


#131

Maybe this would work better as a series so you have time to let bits and pieces of the background unfold. Even if you do, though, you still need an ulterior motive to move the plot along. Cinefix did a good piece on films that have done this sort of thing if you’re interested:

Had I had that background, the scene with cutting down the hanging criminal would have made a lot more sense.

It could be something as simple as she is seeking clarity, and thinks this religious journey will provide it. That would explain her obedience in the short term even if their are bigger issues at play. There’s also the Holmes/Watson kind of thing. Since your MC knows her motivation, you can use other characters to ask the questions the audience is going to ask. I wonder if you could use the opening montage to do that. I don’t think it would take extensive exposition - just a few extra words here and there.

I’m thinking I might try posting something this week … if all those silly ducks will just stand in a straight line.


#132

I can’t believe you did this. This is awesome!! You ever want to take this character and run with him, you have my permission. PS: In your hands, these characters just pop off the page.

This was super fun to read, and very helpful. Analyzing how this world looks in someone else’s care will be very instructive, and may help me hone in on shortcomings in my own writing.

I’ll take what you said about Jaime under advisement. If I don’t use him in this screenplay, I’ll remember not to write characters off so easily at first glance if I think they don’t fit.

EDIT: I’d love to see what you do in the future with your knack for creating characters. I have the feeling that if you focus your energies on developing a few major players instead of incorporating a whole bunch of personalities, you could be writing some really memorable characters in the future. Just sayin’.


#133

Hey there. Super cool to see a rewrite here on this forum. Things just got a little more legit around here.

I like where you’re heading with the rewritten scenes. The action scene seems more like a fair fight. Myrin and Dija still strike some formidable blows, and both sides believably struggle even with magic as an asset. However, it seems like Myrin barely reacts to turning into a statue…she doesn’t have a line of dialogue the entire time she’s turning to stone. I understand that she’s a warrior, but she must be feeling something. Have this influence her fighting style.
Incorporating the emotions of the characters into your fight scenes will take the action to a whole 'nother level. Actually, I think it would create another helpful opportunity for both of us if I demonstrated this through screenwriting. It was such a pleasure to read the world of Down in the Valley with your take on it - would you mind if I rewrote the action scene using the principle I just described? I’m certain that you understand what I’m trying to say, but I think it’d be a great educational opportunity for both sides if I actually wrote it out.


#134

I’ve never tried sharing from Google Docs before, so be patient with me if this doesn’t work, but here is my first attempt at a screenplay. Let me know what you think. Thanks.


#135

I am new to rocket jump forums but I would like to be a part of this writing group. I make little films on YouTube and I need practice writing scripts. I’d also like to see what you guys are writing and hopefully give some critiques :slight_smile:


#136

Welcome aboard! Since we try to keep things coming out on Fridays, today is the perfect day for you to jump on. We’ve got new stuff from Resha already, I’m closing in on page 80, and I’m pretty sure Piano will have something for us too. Also, if your scripts are for internet shorts, it’ll be fun to have a different kind of writing around here. We’ve all been trying to do feature films, but the more variety we have, the more we’ll all learn.


#137

@PianolasonMars of course you can give a go at re-writing my fight! I actually saw in a screenwriting lecture that it’s a good idea to learn how to work with other peoples’ characters - because TV writing requires you to be able to jump in and write someone else’s creation as your own on day 1.

As for Jaime, the ugly duckling is always a great character because you get to abuse him relentlessly and then transform him into a swan…that’s as Hollywood as it gets!


#138

I’d love to contribute and feed back more, but my ebook reader is still konyec and I don’t have a replacement, so my reading has suffered that. But please, keep up the good work, this is all really great :slight_smile:


#139

We’ve been slicing and dicing for two weeks, so this week is all about that blah blah blah!


#140

Just read 42 pages - where DIJA does her best impression of what seems like a scene from Hot Shots! Part Deux - the "you win" bit. I like it so far. Entertaining and funny. Glad you almost didn’t kill Fritz.

Your work has a certain Game of Thrones, feel to it.


#141

This thread’s been cooking this week! Cool. Here’s my five pages. Rewrite and feedback to come soon!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B92ANbTfQxhZMXBZQTJ2T3l6bmc/view?usp=sharing

Man, dialogue is hard for me! I’m reading the screenplay for American Beauty this week, and I just have a new appreciation for how Alan Ball writes those characters. My choice of screenplay was inspired by this video, which was super helpful for me as a budding screenwriter:


#142

@LightStorm I have read the first 48 pages of German Angst, and I have a few thoughts:

First the small stuff: On page 12 you describe an expression as “stoned” when I think you mean “stoney”. “Stoned” tends to mean “high on weed” =P . Two format issues - (1) Add in the sluglines; it’s as easy as EXT. WEIMAR STREETS - DAY. (2) You all-cap character names in all of your action text - that’s just not conventional. Characters appear in all caps the first time they appear in the scene and afterwards they’re capitalized normally (unless something special is happening that you want to emphasize).

Now for the real work -

Things I like:

The characters - These two people are (so far as I’ve seen) the only people in the script, so they need to be likable and compelling, and your’e succeeding all the way in that regard. There’s something completely comfortable yet completely uneasy about the way they interact, and it’s definitely working.

The use of location - you’ve got tons of information (some very true, some a bit twisted) that helps contextualize your characters’ thinking. Even though Tarantino’s name is prominently displayed, this feels much more in the spirit of Woody Allen: It’s an “about town” movie where we celebrate the beauty of a particular urban location through the eyes of one man and one woman…classic Woody Allen setup.

The dialog - dialog is a ‘get it or don’t’ art a lot of the time, and it seems like you get it…that’s important.

Things I don’t like:

Words, words, words - this story is dialog driven, so it doesn’t bother me that conversation is the heart of everything here…but I feel like a lot of your conversations start to go in circles after a point. Trim down the dialog so that they’re giving out the same amount of information in fewer words.

Intention and obstacle - a simple screenwriting mantra states “there should be conflict in every scene.” What this really comes down to is the idea that your characters should always have something they’re TRYING to do and something STOPPING them. Try to sneak in more of these clear intentions (Every day I eat lunch at Dave’s) with clear obstacles (health inspectors shut down Dave’s restaurant). It offers you more opportunities to do what you’re already good at - character work.

I’ll keep reading! Thanks for posting this.