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.