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Genre: Supernatural Horror
Premise: (from writer) When an angelology professor and his wife lose their daughter to tragedy, they are invited to a mysterious retreat which promises communion with the dead. The cost? Only one of them will survive.
Why you should read: (from writer): “A lean 87 pages, BETH AVEN is written for the $1 million / limited location model. In style and tone, it is THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT meets THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. It is intensely character-driven, but delivers the actions and scares inherent to the genre. At its core it is the tale of parents who’ve lost their only child, and the harrowing journey to the gates of death that will mark their lives forever.”
Writer: Sean Whitnall
Details: 87 pages

christian_bale_99Christian Bale for Daniel?

I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to read today’s script. I’m just… tired. This would appear to be bad news for Sean. But it’s also a wonderful reminder that writers are writing for human beings. They’re not writing for robots whose sole purpose is to read through screenplays. Readers are tired just like you. They look forward to finishing work, just like you. They look forward to laying down on their beds, just like you.  They dream of being in better places just like you. Which is why nothing less than awesome keeps their interest. Which is why you must write to make the reader forget about the 32 other things they have to do that week. You must dazzle them from the first page and never let go.  It’s your only chance really.  Anything less and a reader sees you as just another script to finish.

Beth Haven challenges all that wisdom by starting out with a dog murder and a four year old girl with cancer. Not gonna lie. Mental check-out countdown began when I saw that. But the thoughtful Sean Whitnall did limit his script to only 87 pages. Which means he WAS thinking about the reader at least a little bit. Maybe it’s not time to give up on Beth Haven yet.

Darma is the name of the young cancer girl. And she dies immediately after the opening scene, leaving her parents, Daniel and Irma Ventriss, to mourn. The two knew this time was going to come, making church a regular part of their routine in order to give Darma the impression that there was a life after this one.

But neither really believed. It was a just a show. And now that show was over. But then Irma starts hearing voices, Darma’s voice in particular, calling to her. She’s convinced that there’s some crossover going on and begs Daniel to look at alternative ideas. After some resistance, he agrees to go to a secluded retreat where a mysterious woman who claims to have contact with the dead will connect them with their daughter.

Once there, they meet others who are hoping for the same, to speak with their loved ones from beyond. The retreat is led by an eerie hippy-ish woman who refers to herself as “Silver.” Along with her equally trippy assistant, “Blix,” these two inform the small group that there will be a contest of sorts. Only one of them will get to speak to their loved one.

What follows is a sort of game where Silver and Blix force everyone to confront their fears, weaknesses, and failures, blunt-trauma therapy, you might call it. There’s a sex addict, for example, who must learn that his addiction to sex is what’s preventing him from becoming whole, with communicating with the other side. I think. The way these two women talk is so abstract that they could literally be saying anything. Not gonna lie. It was tough to follow.

Eventually, Daniel realizes that the strange pair are tearing him and Irma apart. He’s just not sure why. But Irma, being the more weak-minded of the two, is falling for it, and it seems like only a matter of time before she makes this retreat her permanent residence. That is until Daniel learns that Silver and Blix’s plans for all of them is much more nefarious. I’m not going to spoil anything but let’s just say, there’s demons involved. Like Silver’s going to turn into a demon. And then try to kill them. Will Daniel be able to pull his wife back to the light side and get her out of there before it’s too late? Good question. Check the comments to find out.

Okay, I’m going to start with the obvious here. You probably shouldn’t start your script with a dog murder then a 4 year old girl who dies from cancer. I still don’t even know what the opening dog murder was about or what it had to do with the story.

But it led into one of the script’s biggest weaknesses – that being the writing is too on-the-nose. For example, when you’re selling the sadness of a daughter dying, you don’t want to hit us over the head with, “Does this mean I won’t get to go to kindergarten?” Just a sad look between the two parents is enough. There was way too much of this (i.e. the parents would sleep, sadly, in the dead girl’s room instead of their own). You have to trust that the audience is going to get what you’re saying. Then you won’t feel the need to keep telling them.

Now as for the overall script, its’ a script that on the surface, I should like. It takes place in a contained area the characters can’t leave, which ups the tension. There’s a clear goal – try to communicate with their dead daughter. The stakes are relatively high. We get the sense that this is going to be their only shot at this. And while there isn’t a ticking time bomb, there’s a short time frame. So the story escalates quickly.

But there was something keeping me from getting on board. Honestly, I think it was the parents’ on-the-nose reaction to the daughter’s death. A screenplay is kind of like putting someone under hypnosis. You, the writer, are the hypnotist, and we’re your subject. If you do your job, we stay “under” the whole time. But if anything distracts us, we’re brought back to the real world. As soon as a reader’s brought back to the real world, the gig is up. It’s impossible to get him under again. And after the kindergarten line and the sleeping in her bed, that was it for me. The spell was broken.

So I can certainly critique the rest of the script, but it’s like critiquing something I experienced from a distance. I guess what I’m trying to say is, for those readers who stayed hypnotized, they may not have been bothered by the rest of the things I did. They still believed.

Keeping that in mind, there was something about the dialogue that I wasn’t connecting with. At first I thought it was the rhythm that bothered me. You know how sometimes you’re reading dialogue and the way people speak makes it difficult to read. Instead of a smooth pour, it’s more like a turbulent plane ride. As I looked closer, though, I think it was a combination of using too many big words as well as characters talking for longer than they needed to.

For example, at one point Silver says to Daniel, “You needn’t worry about the box. Something as simple as holding my gaze and yet you find it full of connotations: fears of exposure rife with secret desires, perhaps.” Daniel replies. “Or questioning a deconstructed retreat scenario meant to disarm your guests.” I understand that both of these characters are smart and speak accordingly, and we have to take into account my tiredness here, but reading through an entire screenplay of this back and forth was tough. I’d constantly have to re-read everything to understand what was being said. And the surest way to end a love affair with a reader is to write something they must go back and read again.

And then, as we get towards the end, a full-on monologue party breaks out. It seemed like every time someone spoke, it was 15 lines or more. It was just too much. And oftentimes, it could’ve been streamlined to a sentence or two. For example, on page 59, one of the other retreat members, an actor, confronts Daniel while he’s trying to steal a box. Towards the end of their argument, he says this, “I got fifty pounds of muscle on you easy, so mad props you got the balls to call me dumb to my face. Second, you’re paranoid. I work with some of the brightest minds in the industry. Folks like these are free thinkers. I get that. You don’t. I’m exposed to fringe concepts all the time. I even tweak the scripts before we shoot’em. I may not be a real detective, but my instincts tell me getting in Silver’s favor ain’t a bad thing at this point. I’m here to break through to my brother. Not your daughter. Lock up when you leave smart guy.” That’s a lot of words for not saying very much at all. And there was a lot of this.

So I want to apologize to Sean that I wasn’t full-on one hundred percent while reading this. But I’m pretty sure I’ll wake up tomorrow and still agree with these points. My big notes to him would be to trust the audience more. You don’t have to drill something into their head five times melodramatically for them to get it. Sometimes just a look will do. Also, chop that dialogue down and smooth it out a bit. In the next draft, I’d like the conversations here to be easier to read. Good luck and happy Labor Day Weekend everybody. :)

Script link: Beth Haven

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Sometimes we writers overcomplicate things. Remember that 95% of the time, saying something the simplest way is usually the best. So in that big monologue of Warren’s above, why not just write something like: “You take that box, you’re going to have to deal with me. I’m not letting you screw up my chances to talk to my brother.” Keep it simple!

  • ripleyy

    You need to trust that the reader gets what you’re trying to say and for some that’s difficult to comprehend. “Shouldn’t I make it super obvious that (A) needs to go after the goal because of (B)?”

    While the script wasn’t for me, I do think you need to understand that whatever you write, the reader will be behind you.

    If a main character wants something bad enough, you have to trust the reader that he or she will want that object of desire far more than the main character (if done right) and you don’t even need to make it super obvious four times, as long as the reader understands that the main character won’t be satisfied until a certain goal is met or a certain object is in their possession.

    I do think some of the faults the script had was that Sean maybe didn’t trust the reader that much. Why do we need to overplay a death? You do the exact opposite if you overplay a death (in that the reader feels less sympathetic towards the dying character) and the fact the dog is murdered makes no sense, as if Sean was trying to hit the reader where it hurts in order to get them to understand that a serious thing is going to happen and therefore needed to overplay death in the first few pages in order for that to work.

    That said, I don’t think it worked and I do think if a daughter is going to die from Cancer (that’s fine if you want to go down that route) but, again, TRUST THE READER that he or she will feel sympathy towards her.

    Another thing – and I think it’s more important – is that you NEED to establish the relationship between the parents and the daughter. You need to tell us WHY this death should make us feel sad, why should we feel sympathy towards the girl who dies from cancer and we hardly know her? We don’t know her pain, we don’t know who she is – even if we got a glimpse into this girl – it might make it more better but instead she dies straight away and we’re not really given an opportunity to know her, seeing as her death is the reason why the whole story happens.

    That said, I think the whole “game” thing is overplayed. This isn’t SAW, this is about two parents who are overwhelmed with guilt and they can’t get over their daughter, why the hell it turns into “Constantine” later on is beyond me.

    It doesn’t sit right with me. Even though I think the logline – and the story – has a great juxtaposition(?), in the sense an Angelology professor loses his daughter and he doesn’t believe in God.

    There is a lot of irony in that and I think that needs to be the sole purpose. This needs to be less horror and more of a character-driven piece about two parents seeking faith after their daughter dies and how they go about this.

    I wish Sean all the best but this didn’t have the full potential it deserves, it was just another gimmick where people are put into a “game” for the sake of torture and then throw in a demonic twist at the end. I, personally, think it’s a little disrespectful because this could be such a powerful film but instead its sacrificial lamb to an otherwise horror genre that’s quickly being overused.

    • C.K.

      I think the dog “murder” was a small plot point that tied in later when the girls find that place in the woods full of animal bones and the dog collar — “champion” — from the dead dog in the beginning. i figure it was meant to show what this guy — gatekeeper/durvin — was feeding on all those years…lost animals and such. anyway, that’s what i got from it.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Got a little heat the other day for not being constructive and helpful enough in my comments.

    Well, with “Beth Haven,” all that’s going to change. I’m going to be super-constructive and super-helpful

    Using the template I learned from Wednesday, here goes…

    “Well done, Sean. I read the entire thing and enjoyed it.

    You created authentic characters in an authentic setting.

    The thing that I liked the most about your story was that…..it was a STORY. I think that’s one of the most difficult things for writers to pull off. They are so focused on adding BIGGER BITE that they lose the element of STORY. For the framework you created and the characters you populated it with, this is a nice story.

    I could say the obvious things like I doubt this will sell and that it won’t be that big box office hit everyone is looking for, but that didn’t feel like your goal. It felt like your goal was to write a good story = accomplished.

    I liked the characters. I liked their relationships. Even your characters were good at telling stories. I especially liked the back-and-forth between Silver and Blix.

    Sure there are some things that need work or could be tweaked. Not ALL the characters were the greatest but that comes down to being at the point where you still have to find negatives in the script.

    Thanks, Carson, for giving Sean a chance. It did finally feel like it was time to put his money where his mouth is.

    Thanks, Sean for putting yourself out there knowing what kind of feedback may befall you.

    Congrats, man!”

    Hey, being constructive and helpful feels pretty good! I think I’m becoming a better person.

    It also makes reviewing a script a snap. I never knew it could be so easy! Looking for stuff that’s bad in a script is really time-consuming and it makes you sound like a bad person, and then people don’t like you, so who wants that?

    Oh, boy, this is great.

    I’m gonna be back next week to help another amateur writer.

    • Linkthis83

      Hey everybody, look at me. It’s your ole pal, JakeBarnes12, checking in again with some real wisdom here. Did you guys see what I did here with my review? Huh huh, did ya, did ya?!?!? You guys, I’m soooo clever. Oh, man. I really got this dude. This was his review of grendl’s script and I just copied it and pasted it here. I’m a genius. That’ll teach him to put me on blast for the useless dribble I spewed earlier this week. My apologies to Sean the writer. This post had to be about me today, buddy. I know AF is a really big deal and you deserve better, but hey, I’m JakeBarnes12 (you know, like, “I’m, Batman!”)

      Even though the guy who wrote this garbage of a review was just trying to be supportive and somewhat critical, he needs to learn that writers only learn from blunt force, obvious and douchebag writing suggestions. There’s no room in this game for SUPPORTING YOUR FELLOW WRITERS. Nope, no way. Get the weak trash out of here. You gotta slap’em in da face. SLAP SLAP!!. And yeah, yeah, don’t get me started on how Link said he’s not experienced enough to give those super critical reviews that I can, but still, whatevs!! I think I’ve made my super-obvious self promoting demonstration here. I hope you get the message Link. Don’t eff with me buddy because…………wait for it…….

      I’M JAKEBARNES12 (you know, like “I’m Batman!!!” – oh man, that tickles in my tummy when I do that.)

      Okay, homies, I’m out. Peace, love and Care Bears FO-EVUH.

      (Hey JB12, Link here. Dude, you are awesome, brother. I think you are going to be my muse. I’m not going to have time to do for the back and forth fun today so whatever you comeback with, make sure it’s refrigerator-worthy. Plus, today really is Sean’s day so I’d probably leave it at this anyway. You are an inspiration though and I can’t thank you enough. Have a great weekend, man.)

      • joey

        Uncalled for.

        I’d rather get notes on my script any day from jakebarnes12 than a guy all he can say is he likes my story and characters.

        • Linkthis83

          If my review of grendl’s script is the only one you’ve read, then I completely understand. And it wasn’t Jake’s notes that were my issue, but his delivery. I gave grendl’s script a read and just wanted to give some feedback. I’m still learning and was unaware that my review of his script is unacceptable. He was getting plenty of help from everybody else. Plus I owned my role on Wednesday and thought it was over. Until today…..

          • joey

            Then why not just say that to him and drop it?

            All that stuff where you tried to be funny about long scripts and long scenes and directing on the page was okay just made you look clueless.

          • Linkthis83

            I was being sarcastic. I agree I should’ve dropped it. It’s my own issue with people beating their chest at the expense of others. I feel obligated to step in. Jake wasn’t being helpful in his reply. He was being snarky. And I couldn’t resist today either. I guess it’s okay for Jake to be Jake and I should just accept that.

          • BSBurton

            Joey, Link is a good guy. He’s not clueless but you seem to be fairly mean lol… What’s up with that Joey?

            You know any jokes? Please, tell us a joke to lighten the mood

          • Linkthis83


          • BSBurton

            Have you seen L.A. Confidential? I love that cast, it just popped into my mind

      • Alex Palmer

        Have you noticed that after Grendl’s script was posted, he became conspicuously absent?

        And after reading his script, bitterness and cynicism has corrupted the commenters, making them more like… Grendl?

        As if the script was a vessel containing his soul…

        Like… a Horcrux.

        Duh duh DAH!

        But seriously, guys: bury the hatchet. It’s easy as hell to be in a bad mood and post something overly critical or petulant. We writers are a passionate bunch. Things can escalate quickly and, before either party has realized what’s happening, it’s a shit-flinging match.

        Come on, we’re better than this. Passive aggression should be the Max. Keep the other stuff on YouTube.

        • Linkthis83

          I thought we were done on Wednesday and I came here this morning and see this. It’s not cool. And I won’t just sit back and let him take his shots. He did it on Wednesday and today. When he’s got something useful to say, I don’t say anything to him.

        • jaehkim

          grendl posted yesterday on the superman vs batman article.

        • Poe_Serling

          With my sincere apologies to the Ancient Greek Myth: Pandora’s Box. ;-)

          Grendl emailed Carson a copy of his script with a private security link attached to the file. He made him promise never to open the file. He gave the password to Carson’s ‘assistant,’ Ms. SS, and told her to never open the file.

          Grendl was sure that Carson’s curiosity would get the better of him, and that either Carson or Ms. SS would open the file.

          Carson was very curious. He wanted to see what was inside the file, but Ms. SS said no. “You know your grendl,” Ms. SS warned, “He’s a tricky one.”

          A short time later, when Ms. SS was out picking up their daily takeout order from In and Out, Carson stole the password and opened the script file.

          Out flew all the bad things that people had never experienced before.

          Carson tried to delete the file, but it was too late. All the bad things were already out and had entered the world.

          • Linkthis83

            Dare I say, that was Poe-etic? ;)

          • Poe_Serling

            lol. Not really… I ‘borrowed’ most of the info from kids’ website on the topic.

          • BSBurton

            Writer’s shouldn’t borrow Poe! Speaking of, what does your screenname have to do with your real name?

          • Linkthis83

            I’ve always assumed it’s a combo of Edgar Allan Poe and Rod Serling, but I’ve never asked.

          • BSBurton

            I ask the tough questions link! Like what’s up with your 83? the year you were born perhaps?

          • Linkthis83

            Nope. There was a football player for the Atlanta Falcons that I was a huge fan of = Tim Dwight. He wore 83. That dude was fun to watch. He’s the style of player I’d want to be.

          • Acarl

            Oh, this has the makings of a great tale! More, Poe, more!!!

        • AJ

          Passive aggression should be the max! is now the name of my rec BBall team.

        • Jake Gott

          Grendl mentioned Billy Mumy earlier, maybe he got sent to the corn field…

    • Linkthis83

      My apologies, everyone. I should’ve just wrote:

      Really, Jake? Was that necessary?

      That’s my bad. That’s what happens when you give into an immediate reaction. Sorry to you, Sean, specifically. This is your day, man. Congrats.

      • Crazdwrtr

        don’t beat yourself up too bad. the problem didnt start with you.

        • Linkthis83

          I appreciate that. It feels like it started with me.

          • BSBurton

            Jake hasn’t written anything because he’s on here too often lol. You can’t just pop out a script like a whore can shoot out a baby.

    • gazrow

      Jake – I look forward to the day when you have the balls to put your own script out there! Though we both know that day is never going to come!!

      Meanwhile, you can sit safe in your ivory tower and impress everyone with your undoubted knowledge of screenwriting! What they don’t know (but what you secretly do) is while you certainly possess the skills to identify the flaws in a script – You are unfortunately lacking in skills when it comes to writing one!!

      Go on Jake – prove me wrong! Post a link to one of your scripts! Go on! I dare ya… I double dare ya!!

      • JakeBarnes12

        No, gazrow, it was not deleted due to a double post.

        This is the post where you viciously attacked me for supposedly being in an ivory tower and told me that I could not write scripts, despite the fact you’ve never read a single word of one of my scripts.

        The post was so full of venom and rage it was removed by Carson for violating community standards.

        For you then to tell me that my original post was uncalled for is the height of hypocrisy.

        • gazrow

          Yes. My original post was considerably nastier. And a personal attack on you, Jake. It got stuck in ‘Moderation’ for an hour or so. Then appeared word for word exactly how I wrote it.

          During that hour, I had time to reflect on my words and realized without any prompting from Carson or anyone else that I had overstepped the mark somewhat. So when it reappeared, I, not Carson, deleted it.

          I had hoped that we could draw a line under this. Unfortunately, it seems you are unwilling to do so?

          Personally, I’m done with this sorry saga and won’t be replying to anymore posts by you or anyone else on this unfortunate matter.

    • gazrow

      Jake – WTF? This post is uncalled for!

      In your own way, you’re even more of a bully than Grendl ever was! Look at your petulant response a few weeks back when folks went out of their way to explain to you why Carson was unable to do daily reviews of produced professional scripts due to legal reasons. You resorted to throwing insults around and accused folks here on scriptshadow, of having no balls because they refused to support you on the issue.

      As a long time follower of Scriptshadow, I know you to have a deep knowledge of screenwriting and the craft in general.

      However, given your rather smarmy posts of late, I think it’s high time we got to see if you can back up your undoubted knowledge with a well written script. Or do you simply “lack the balls” to post a link to your own work?

      Come on Jake – I dare ya… I double dare ya.

      Put up or shut up!!

      • drifting in space

        I don’t think we should encourage this behavior. Otherwise, everyone will start trolling around trying to get their script reviewed. You feed the trolls, they stay around. You starve them off, they disappear. Posts like his are just a black eye on what is usually a very fun site to be a part of.

        • Linkthis83

          Hold on now, if somebody else thinks I may have been wronged here, or that Jake might be at least somewhat out-of-place with his post, let’s at least hear them out. ;)

          • Gregory Mandarano

          • Linkthis83

            This reference is totally lost on me. I have no idea what you are trying to say, so I’m going to refrain from guessing and hope that you clue me in.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Just pointing out that people are comparing egos and we should try to get along by sharing a song called you don’t know me. :)

          • Linkthis83

            yeah, man. I’m going to check my ego at the SS door from now on. But it will be hard for me if it feels like someone is belittling someone else.

          • Kay Bryen

            I do think you tried to be the bigger man. Now let’s drop this and make it about Sean’s script, not the Axis of Evil.

        • Gregory Mandarano

          Agreed. Scripts should be read out of genuine interest and desire, not out of some revenge vendetta. Encourage positive constructive participation rather than infighting and unnecessary competition. Also this is beth haven’s time in the spotlight. Let’s all leave the past in old threads.

      • BSBurton

        Good point hahaha. I’d like to see his work.

        • klmn

          I’d like to see Carson’s llama-man script. Maybe he could post it so we have something to read while he eats escargot.

          • BSBurton

            What kind of script is that??? Never heard of it? Some sort of LSD tale?

          • Linkthis83

            Carson mentions that it’s a script he actually tried to write in the “About” section of this website.

          • BSBurton

            I’d say “Tried” is as far as it got lol. Maybe Seth Rogen or David Goyer could ruin the rest of it

          • Linkthis83

            I have the audacity to believe I could make that script work.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Hey, gaz, man, long time, long time.

        How’s it goin,’ dude? How are you, brother?

        Glad you made it back from Mexico. That Conchita, she was a wild cat.

        Dean sends his best but he’s gonna hang round San Miguel de Allende for a few weeks more. Follow the tracks, he says. Whatever you do, follow the tracks, but I’m not sure I know what that means.

        He said to ask you. He said gazrow would know. You know what he’s talking about?

        I swear, sometimes I think, the man’s just out there.

        I hope the work’s going well, gaz. Those galleries in New York… don’t listen to them, man. They just don’t know.

        I still remember what you said. That night in Guanajuato. 47′. No, 48′. You said, deep down they want to see us fail.

        And I said who? You remember that? Arette Blanco. Jesus, gaz. Arette fuckin’ Blanco.

        And you said, the bastards.You look up and there’s one of them, but blink, and then there’s ten. Blink again, there’s fifteen.

        But it’s okay, gaz. That’s all I want you to know. Across all this distance I’m watching out for you just as you’re watching out for me.

        I’m not going to let them get you. You said, this was later, hitching the train to Saltillo, you said they never come at you singly cause they’re cowards. There needs to be a bunch of them so one can push another forward.

        But what you gotta understand, man, they’re not real. Not the way, you, me, Dean and Sal, are real.

        So you feel them closin’ in, gaz, you see those jackal eyes glowing in the vast American night as you zoom past with the window down and Charlie and Dizzy blowin’ like it’s their last night on earth, you remember this.

        We don’t owe them a goddamn thing.

        And you want them to go away, and this is the beautiful part, gaz, you just imagine there’s this big switch in the sky and you can push that switch whenever you want.

        And you know what happens then?


        They’re gone.

        And it’s just you and the work, way it’s always been.

        Funny. It just occurred to me. I think I get it now, gaz.

        I think I know what Dean was sayin’.

        • gazrow

          Yay Jake! Good to see you finally post something of yours!

          Have to say you’ve got a pretty vivid imagination! If I was to criticize, I’d say the narrative was a little expositionary. All tell no show. The dialog while not great, was loaded with subtext! Good job! :)

          The characters were rather dull and a little one dimensional imo. All except gazrow! Man, what a great character! The guy has panache and charisma coming out of his ears! Maybe you should consider doing a sequel with just him in it?! :)

          Okay Jake, enough of the silliness. I think your original post was uncalled for. There was no need to do what you did. You’re better than that, Jake.

          Let’s all draw a line under it and move on.

          • JakeBarnes12

            I think you misunderstand, gazrow, the difference between the critical faculty and the creative one.

            You seem to have an idea that it’s hypocritical to critique another person’s performance of something you can’t do yourself.

            On a certain level, I get that it makes sense. Talking specifically about writers, this explains the contempt that writers often feel for their critics.

            But the fact is some people can write very good criticism while being unable to write good novels or poems or whatever. Those critics can bring insights to the work that may not be obvious to to the rest of us, so their work can be valuable.

            Others can write both. Umberto Eco and Henry James spring immediately to mind, but there are lots more.

            Ultimately the idea you proposed that a critic needs to “put up or shut up” and “back up” his criticism with his own creative work, while no doubt rousing to a certain sense of democratic fairness, is specious.

            If I tell you, gazrow, that your house is on fire, and you stay inside because I don’t know how to put it out, then you are a very foolish man indeed.

            What all this comes down to is that I have no obligation to show you or anyone else anything to validate my thoughts on a script. The writer can use what he or she finds useful and discard the rest.

            If I find a script boring, I’m going to continue to say so.

            When I say scenes run too long and hammer away at the same points, slowing down an already thin story, then I don’t think it takes a genius to see I’m presenting the reasons WHY I find the script boring.

            If the writer happens to agree with my thoughts, then great mental agility isn’t required to see that shortening scenes by taking out the repetition would help alleviate the problem.

          • Linkthis83

            Your analogy isn’t used correctly and is also self serving. A more appropriate analogy is if gazrow’s house (his script) is on fire and he’s standing out on the lawn trying to put it out. But he’s new at putting out house fires and what is he to do.

            Thankfully JakeBarnes12 casually strolls up to the scene, but not too close. He doesn’t want to get burned or even put himself remotely at risk. He keeps his distance all the while guiding gazrow in how to put this fire out.

            He advises to gazrow, “You’re doing it wrong. That’s not how professional firefighters put out a blaze of this magnitude. You’ve got too much fire in the lower level. The water pressure isn’t right. You’re holding the hose wrong.” And then Jake walks away. Gazrow is left with knowing all the things he did wrong but is still unable to put out the fire. He looks back inquisitively at Jake and wonders, HOW did that information help me.

            Jake walks away with a smug smile thinking “Oh dear, what would they do without me.”

          • JakeBarnes12

            In that analogy, Link, you’re at the pre-school down the block enjoying your morning milk.

          • Linkthis83

            And we have finally reached the conclusion of JB12 v. LT83. And boy what a stinker it was. Not even worth the kilobytes it was typed on.

            Jake was obviously in control and had the upper hand. He had his reputation and an army of anonymous cronies by his side and we all knew the underdog Link didn’t have a chance. It was definitely Jake’s own arrogance that did him in. While standing on the necks of his peers and shouting “I am the greatest,” Link was able to collect himself and knock Jake back to reality.

            Jake decided it still wasn’t over and he must reign supreme. So he took his fight to the streets. He decided he would reveal he was just using this site and manipulating the people. Basically calling them his puppets. He even claimed that Carson would jump at the chance to review his work.

            It was really just sad to watch Jake’s demise, once his true character was revealed to the people. You want to feel sorry for him but you know in your heart he has to learn his own lessons. The final blow wasn’t even delivered by Link. Sure he used Jake’s own analogy against him, but really, it was Jake that made the show not even remotely worth watching anymore. In the end, without any more moves remaining, Jake just turned around and mooned everyone. That was it. That was the grand finale.

            “…at the pre-school down the block enjoying your morning milk”? I sure am, Jake. When I needed your best, you gave me pre-school. Our interactions have concluded. See you around, Jakey-boy. Oh, let me guess, not if you see me first.

            FADE OUT

          • JakeBarnes12

            Wow, Link, dude.


            I’d just like to say, I didn’t down vote your latest rant.

            The part of my post to gazrow you didn’t agree with runs as follows: “If I tell you, gazrow, that your house is on fire, and you stay inside because I don’t know how to put it out, then you are a very foolish man indeed.”

            The idea I was trying to convey was that even if a person doesn’t, can’t, or won’t offer a solution to a problem, it’s still really dumb to ignore the problem.

            Or, just to make it really, really clear, even if a commenter only points out problems in a script and doesn’t offer solutions, you’re silly to discount the comments just because there’s no solutions offered.

            So you disagree with that analogy, Link, no problemo.

            But in the post where you set out why you don’t agree with the analogy, you describe my analogy as “self-serving,” suggest that I “casually stroll” up to the fire, “don’t want to take a risk,” and finally I “walk away with a smug smile thinking “Oh dear, what would they do without me.”

            That’s laying it on a little thick, don’t you think, Link? You could have easily disagreed with my analogy without reaching for the insults.

            Your problem seems to be that you think I only criticized grend’s script without offering any solutions.

            Got it.

            But this is a little rich coming from a guy who had NO CHANGES to suggest at all.

            Hence my retort.

            At least it was pithy.

          • Alex Palmer

            Holy Moley, Israel and Palestine will be skipping daintily across a meadow before this conflict is finished.

            Underneath all the bile, important points have been raised on either side.

            Here, as I see it, is the crux:

            I asked my Brother what he thought of Pacific Rim.

            “I didn’t really like it. It was boring.”

            If I’d asked him if the crisis choice embodies the protagonist’s flaw, he’d probably just ignore me.

            The majority of the viewing public, even film buffs, don’t have a handle on story construction or the basic elements of a screenplay. YET, every person on this planet has a reaction on viewing a film.

            These reactions are ALWAYS VALID.

            I believe this was mentioned somewhere earlier, but it bears repeating: if I didn’t like a movie, you can’t tell me I did.

            HOWEVER, and this is where I believe Link’s argument comes in, the fact remains that this site has a very particular target audience: aspiring screenwriters. It serves as an educational tool for the technical side of creating stories.

            There are deep cultural and psychological reasons why films take on such a particular form, but I won’t get into that. There’s a great book about the evolution of story structure and how that applies to film by John Yorke (Into the Woods) if you ever want to read it. I’m going off topic :)

            What matters is that we are trying to UNDERSTAND what people like so we can WRITE what people like.

            Therefore, given you’re such a prolific commenter (Jake), I can see why Link would criticize you for not being more constructive.

            I don’t remember what how it was worded. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. As long as he kept polite (personal attacks are just uncalled for) his method of feedback is completely VALID. However, it’s more helpful to the writer to try to dig deeper than just your emotional response.

            But I’m pretty sure this conflict has gone beyond the realms of diplomacy.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Nice succinct summary, Alex. Thanks.

            But Link keeps saying I’m Batman.

            I really don’t know what’s up with that.

          • Alex Palmer

            Yeah, I rambled a bit.

            Is this about the burning house?

            I thought spider man saved the guy in the burning house.

          • JakeBarnes12

            On the one hand I’m Batman, but on the other I’m outside the burning house with my Oxford boater and a limp wrist sipping a martini and shouting things like “run faster, my good man” to gazrow.

            It’s all gotten a bit surreal.

          • Alex Palmer

            That sounds like a 90s music video.

          • Linkthis83

            Here’s the real summary:

            1) I didn’t like your script review because of its tone, not its content. I over-reacted.

            2) You decided to use my review of grendl’s script as the basis of putting me in my place.

            3) I made no attempt at a critical review of his script because I knew there would be plenty of others to do so. Others that are more qualified than me. So I offered some general feedback.

            4) I think it’s all over with until you decided to revisit the matter on Friday at my expense, and more importantly, the AF writer’s expense.

            5) wasting of time and energy ensues.

            I will engage in no more of this. Any reply I make to you from here on out will be:

            “The river Thames.”

            “THE RIVER THAMES!!!”

          • JakeBarnes12

            I say, Muffy, met the most dreadful little man the other day. Said he knew you. Well, he isn’t our sort at all, that’s why I was so surprised. Funny thing is, the little blighter wouldn’t leave. Kept coming back. “One more thing,” he’d say in that squeaky little voice of his, “just one more thing.” He did know how to run on.

            Well, finally I just had to tell him I was going to my club. Actually wanted to know if he could come along. Can you imagine? Managed to finally give him the shake at Paddington, but it was the devil’s own job, I’ll tell you.

            Yes, indeed, well my nerves are rather shattered. You can pour a little more in than that. Much better. Shows it doesn’t pay to be too sociable. Just as well we’re off to Antibes tomorrow. Oh, I shouldn’t worry about running into him there.

            Bottoms up, Muffy.

          • Linkthis83

            “That’s laying it on a little thick, don’t you think, Link? You could have easily disagreed with my analogy without reaching for the insults.”

            I’ve described you as smug. You yourself used their word arrogant. The things you have depicted as insults were just my way of describing how I thought a smug, arrogant person would act in the aforementioned fire analogy.

          • JakeBarnes12

            I distinctly remember you slamming the door and running off to your room, young man.

            And yet here you are.


            Do you have anything to say to your mother and I?

          • John Bradley

            I was watching a replay of Monday Night Raw….but then I checked Scriptshadow. I’ve since turned off Monday Night Raw, cause this is way more entertaining! I think we are only a couple posts from insulting each others mothers! I have some popcorn and am sitting in front of my computer, eagerly waiting the next post!=)

    • Linkthis83

      Jake, I’m already over this. My apologies, man. I over-reacted to your post and I shouldn’t have. While I still disagree with how you did it, I should’ve just let it be. The one great thing about this community is that if something is out of place, they will let you know without ever being like we have. That’s on me and I extend a sincere apology.

      • Linkthis83

        Really? My apology gets down voted? Well, I make amends anyway.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Shame on you Jake. Shame. Shame. Shame.
      Bad dog. Bad dog. Tail between your legs.
      No supper for you tonight.

    • Kay Bryen

      You’re so much better than this Jake.

  • http://www.jorgeosvaldo.com/ Jorge Osvaldo

    Congratulations to Sean for getting the Amateur Friday treatment.

    For your next draft, I would encourage you to readjust the story’s structure, particularly the first 10 pages, which tend to be the only thing most people read.

    First, take out the scene with the dog. Instead, why not start with that hospital ward for terminally ill children? This setting could provide a spooky hook that is more effective because it is directly tied to your subject matter. Maybe one of the parents sees or hears something in an empty hallway in the dead of night; then they head back to Darma’s room and they interact for a page or two before she dies. Instead of talking about her imminent death, have the parents avoid the subject, showing how much it pains them to know she’s on her last breaths.

    Additionally, I would discourage the flashbacks; they strip the suspense away from your scenes. Consider writing a neat little scene where Irma starts hearing Darma’s voice. Give it lots of suspense, and maybe a jump scare; then cut to the couple sitting in the Dr. Webber’s office trying to explain what she heard.

    Make the first 10 pages as lean, linear, and tight as possible, and you will hook the reader into wanting to read more. Good luck on your next draft.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      This. Do all this.

  • Linkthis83

    I’m just going to copy and paste my thoughts from the AOW that included Beth Aven:

    Beth Aven by Sean Whitnall

    Page 0 = “Fear what calls” = not really sure what this is supposed to do or if it
    shows up later in the script. If it doesn’t, it probably should. Sounds creepy as hell.

    Page 2 = There has got to be a better way of introducing Silver to Daniel and him
    getting her card.

    Page 5 = I think instead of the students being outside his classroom door this is
    where you should put Silver. You’ve already created a spooky set up, why not have a little payoff with her introduction. Then you could establish
    this relationship more. She could give a little background on the retreat and why Daniel and Irma should go. This plants the seed.

    Page 8 = The name strikes Daniel = I think you should be a bit more descriptive
    here. I’m not sure if you’re just telling the reader or showing the audience.

    I can’t decide if the name Darma is clever or annoying (a play on Dharma?).

    Page 11 = If Daniel has an interest in going to the retreat it seems false. What do we know about the retreat thus far in the script that would make him think it’s even an option (if you use my earlier suggestion then it would solve some of this issue)? As of right now, he has a card and done a Google search. That research only yielded historic results as well.

    I think you have to include something that would give Daniel and Irma a real
    reason to go to this retreat before we get this far. Some sort of HOPE. What would be the goal of going as of right now? I have no idea, other than to get the story there. The card only says “Spiritual Grief Mastery Retreat.” Daniels online search yielded historical negatives and his talk with Pastor Burns added more negatives. What would be the point of them going?

    Page 12 = ….and now they are at the retreat. This rings false to me. I feel
    there really needs to be a story component added to show us why they would go. What do they hope to accomplish? I also feel it would be Irma that pushes for the retreat (based on her character thus far – and Darma talking to her and saying Beth). Maybe
    there should be some scenes of her finding the card, doing her own research and
    a scene that shows her breaking down emotionally and begging Daniel to go. I need more to believe in the purpose of their journey. As of right now, I don’t care about them going to Beth Aven.

    Page 18 = It’s revealed that it was Daniel that pushed them here. As stated before, I feel it should be Irma, based solely on what I KNOW about the characters thus far.

    Summary = I can’t really continue for a couple reasons. One, I don’t really care about these characters at this point. I also feel their motivations are false/inconsistent. Secondly, this story frame and set up feels so much like Antichrist that I can’t shake it.
    And I really didn’t like Antichrist. It was shot really well, but the rest of the story was not my

    I really think you should use the meeting between Silver and Daniel to create the
    REASON they should WANT to go to Beth Aven. Then after that, I would follow Poe’s suggestion building up Montgomery Durvin (which is a great freakin name for a story like this – well done!!).

    A common issue for ME in regards to a lot of the AF scripts on here =

    The writer BELIEVES their core concept is cool/unique enough to carry the story. That if they make cool/unique/bold/dark character/story choices that will carry it. They BELIEVE that the reader will hang on long enough for their big/cool/unique concept to play out…..and we (I) won’t.

    I need to FEEL your characters. I need to FEEL your scenes. I need to FEEL the motivations.

    Next week’s AF script Beth Aven is a perfect example of this. Based on the logline most people would buy in. It’s a cool concept. However, in the first 20 pages of that script the logline is basically non-existant.

    It suffered (for me) greatly in it’s motivations for getting the story to the retreat. Because essentially, there were none. There were no discussions, conversations or arguments about going to the retreat. No explanation as to even why they would want to go or should go. On page 11 there’s some history given about the retreat and on page 12 they’re pulling into the parking lot. Doesn’t work for me. No matter how cool your concept is.

    But then, I will see readers/posters giving these things positive feedback. So then I must challenge myself as to what I am missing that these others are praising. So that’s why I qualify it by saying it’s my issue. But, I think that’s what a lot of the stories are missing the majority of the time = connecting to the reader (that’s what it is for me).

  • Guest

    In my humble opinion you didn’t get heat for what you had to say but instead how you said it.

  • Guest

    This was meant for jake

  • http://www.jorgeosvaldo.com/ Jorge Osvaldo

    Also, no newsletter? I need something to read to avoid doing work on this beautiful Friday.

    • ChadStuart

      Amen, brother.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Will Hare still hasn’t transferred the money into Carson’s account.

      • drifting in space


    • Paul Clarke

      So I’m not the only one missing out.

      It better get here soon or I’ll have to work on my own script.

    • Paul Clarke

      Seriously, still nothing. Or is it just me?

      Can someone pass it on if they have it.

      • http://www.jorgeosvaldo.com/ Jorge Osvaldo

        It seems like Carson is taking the full Labor Day weekend off. At least this will remind us to appreciate those 5 amateur scripts that we get to read every week.

      • GoIrish

        Can i just get the newsletter?


      • drifting in space

        Nothing here either.

    • charliesb

      It’s raining here. I could really use a newsletter to go with my morning coffee….

    • tipofthenose

      Alright. It‘s saturday, so I‘m not stealing the spotlight anymore. Sorry but horror isn‘t for me, so I sadly didn‘t get into this weeks script.
      No newsletter and no amateur scripts. A while ago Carson said anyone can put their script at the end of their post and I will do that now. (Is that still a thing or did I miss something??? If so, sorry in advance)
      To all you people missing something to read, here is a Pilot I wrote a while ago. I would really love to hear your opinion.

      half-hour, single camera, dramedy.


      Adam loves Effie and Effie breaks up with Adam. It all gets a little more complicated when the two are suddenly the last people on earth. Or?


      • Gregory Mandarano

        Tip, I swear to you I am not trying to be rude or snarky, but give you legitimate advice. Burn it. Burn it and don’t look back. Don’t share it with people because you and I both know you can do a lot better, and you don’t want to circulate work that’s less than your best. BuT not your best in the beginning. Best after a lot of study and failed attempts. Usually writers first few scripts should never see the light of day. Don’t tell jokes in the action lines. A script is not a novel. Show us! Your dialogue needs a lot of work. You can learn a lot by reading scripts or buying carsons book. Writing is a fiercely competitive business. Like a magician you need to learn all the tricks before you can perform on stage.

        • Kirk Diggler

          I think because it’s a half hour comedy/drama that the jokes really need to be coming from the characters mouths.

          Too many action lines like this: “She bangs the door behind her. Doesn’t look like break up sex is a thing of the near future”

          There is no way to convey this to the audience the way it’s written. There is also a few instances where you use profanity in the action lines which makes no sense. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘burn it’ but a major overhaul is needed. Beside how can you burn a digital file without destroying your computer?

          You are right about first efforts Gregory, my first one is just ugly to look at and worse to read.

  • SeekingSolace

    I think the logline would sound better if written like this: “A couple finds themselves in a fight for their lives after accepting an invitation to a secluded retreat where they are promised the opportunity to speak to their recently deceased daughter.”

    I also think the story would work best as a straight forward horror flick, or a Hitchcockian, mystery, because the supernatural element ruined the script for me. It was too much at once; witches and a ghoulish Gatekeeper, I was also unsure as to what the Gatekeeper was the gatekeeper of. Is it Hell or some other-worldly place human have yet to comprehend?

    • http://www.jorgeosvaldo.com/ Jorge Osvaldo

      That’s a great logline. I have to admit that the “angelology professor” part in Sean’s logline threw me off; I had to google it because it felt like a typo.

      • Linkthis83

        It kind of reminded me of Zoolander trying to say euology:

        “Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogooly was?”

      • https://twitter.com/cmulliganauthor Chris Mulligan

        Agreed. Really disliked “angelology” even if it is a thing.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Much much better logline. And I agree with you on the supernatural elements.

    • Linkthis83

      Would it be necessary to add “A couple in mourning….?” From my basic understanding of loglines there should be some sort of adjective associated. Or in this case, we can assume they’re mourning because of “…their recently deceased daughter?”

      • Gregory Mandarano

        How about, “A grieving couple…”

        • Linkthis83

          Oh yeah, that’s way better. Print it!

  • Poe_Serling

    This is the one script that I read about two weeks ago when it was featured on Amateur Offerings Weekend. Here’s a quick rehash of a few of my concerns/suggestions.


    >>I felt some parts of the second act were extremely dialogue heavy and got bogged down in lengthy conversations about religion/the supernatural/new age lingo and other similar chitchat.

    Personally, it was a little confusing to sort out everything being said by the retreat counselors and to keep my mind on the main thrust of the storyline.

    >>Exploit the whole Montgomery Durvin angle. I encourage the writer to focus even more time and energy in fleshing out this potentially sinister character. Perhaps dig deeper into his background. Highlight his bizarre teachings and way of life in some visually exciting ways … what made him tick… his appeal to his followers… add a few unsettling touches to the isolated mountain location… more hints of what might have happened to him, etc.

    By doing this, I think it helps to increase the sense of dread in the story before the demon-fueled boogeyman appears in full force.

    >>A great example of this type of build up in a story:

    Richard Matheson’s Hell House. Here the character of Emeric ‘The Roaring Giant’ Belasco also vanished under mysterious circumstances.

    Through bits of dialogue, the setting, artwork, recordings, and so forth, Matheson does a masterful job in painting a vivid picture of Emeric Belasco and his deviant lifestyle. Bottom line: Belasco was pretty much a living and breathing monster in human form, and the uncertainty of such an evil presence still lurking about (even in a ghostly realm) is a truly horrifying thought.

    **Thanks again to writer Sean for sharing his work. I appreciated his eye for detail in regard to the marital relationship and his overall passion for the subject matter.

  • Alex Palmer

    I’ve already given some feedback on this when it was originally posted on AOW.

    Sean, you’ve got potential. Good luck on subsequent projects!

  • jaehkim

    the line “Does this mean I won’t get to go to kindergarten?” is where I mentally checked out. I don’t even think a sad look between the parents are needed. just a the three of them in a hospital room, then a funeral where a little casket is lowered into the ground.

    all the on the nose dialogue and the monologues made me feel like the story was being crammed down my throat. supernatural stories are all about the mood, which has to be very subtle. I don’t know why but I was looking for something more along the lines of ‘the awakening’.

  • drifting in space

    I echo what has already been said. I guess that’s what happens when you’re late to the party. I had a hard time getting into the story with no real drive for the parents. I mean, I could fabricate why they would want to go, but that’s not my job as a reader. The rest was pretty good writing but just TOO MUCH of it. Just needs polish, a few more drafts – which seems to be the case for a lot of the recent submissions.

  • drifting in space

    Sorry to hijack the thread, but would anyone be interested in a SS Fantasy Football league?

    • klmn

      I think we need to start a betting pool on how much weight Carson gains in France.

      • Somersby

        Was there in June. Amazed at the French diet–an abundance of ham, bagettes and cheese. Oh, and wine too, of course. Amazingly, one doesn’t get a sense that they’re terribly out of shape… Just nicely content.

        That said, I suspect Carson won’t be able to resist over-doing it. Five bucks syas he’ll pork on 5.5 kilos (about 12 pounds.) ‘Course we’ll need before and after pics. Failing that, maybe Ms. Scriptshadow can contribute before and after drawings..??

        • klmn

          It might be best if Miss SS runs the pool. I’m just hoping Carson doesn’t have to spring for an extra seat on the return trip.

    • BSBurton

      hahahah!!! Thinking outside the box! How about we all start telling jokes too? You got any good ones? I’ve never played, but it might be fun

  • Kirk Diggler

    The thing is, this wasn’t a ‘lean’ 87 pages. It was 87 pages of distended belly. Think about it. It was 87 pages of extended dialogues. Dialogue isn’t story. Look at the dialogue from Silver on Page 40. It is 23 LINES long! And it’s preceded by one from her 10 lines long. And then followed by another from her that is 9 lines long. So on page 40 Silver speaks 42 lines of dialogue broken up by two short action sentence and a one line of dialogue from Daniel. And why would Daniel just stand there and listen to this woman question the fact that he buried his deceased daughter in a manner that he saw fit without telling her to STFU? This wasn’t lean, it was skinny fat. But thanks for putting the script out there and good luck with it.

    • Mike.H

      Only Tarantino is allowed to write 23 lines dialogue; “when I was in Hanoi with your dad…” pocket watch reference.

      • klmn

        IIRC the watch sequence was written by Roger Avary.

    • BSBurton

      Good point. Way too dialogue heavy. Just look at Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises script. It’s extremely lean (and easy to find online). People need to think about how the audience and write accordingly. Don’t just write it for your enjoyment unless that’s your goal.

    • klmn

      I give you extra points for knowing the term “skinny fat.”

  • bruckey

    With a rewrite it could become like ‘Brake’ a nice little straight to dvd movie.

  • John Bradley

    So I gave the first ten pages a read and here is my impressions.

    1. I think the dog murder in the opening served two purposes. One, to set the mood the writer wanted. Two, I’m assuming (really hoping) there was some symbolism and/or foreshadowing. However, I agree with Carson. A dog murder to open a script is going to turn off 90% of your audience. Especially if you can’t connect back to it later in a concrete way. I’d lose that scene and find an alternative opening that still captures the mood and tone you are trying to set.

    2. Instead of “her head is bald from radiation therapy.” say “She is bald from radiation therapy.” Don’t repeat information. If someone is bald we assume it is on their head.

    3. I was pleasantly surprised through two pages that your action lines are short, crisp and well broken up. Good job on that.

    4. The kindergarten line is something else I agree with Carson about. Try to be specific. “Kindergarten” is on the nose and a very general statement. If you want us to connect with your characters, you need to give us specific, unique statements. Something that gives us a behind the curtain look at who they are. That statement didn’t really do it and it makes her seem like a plot device.

    5. I’m not a fan of using “Match Cut To” or Dissolve To” or any of that crap in a spec script. It does not make my read any more enjoyable and it takes me out of the story. If I was a script reader that’s not the reaction you’d want from me. It’s a style choice and you’re welcome to keep those, but my humble advice is to lose them.

    6. Try to cut unnecessary “ing” verbs. On Page 2 I’m starting to see a few pop up that could be cut. “Daniel and Irma’s heads touch(ing) tenderly side by side.” I’d say “touch” instead because ing’s are a passive form of writing. I can pick out at least 6 examples from this page, but I’ll just use this one.

    7. “We push to” on Page 2! Ugh! Try to right direction that paints a visual pictures. All the technical terms are for a director to use. There are ways to get us to image something with directing a camera in direction.

    8. A 14 line block of dialogue from a Pastor, who is a throw away character! That’s too much. We don’t need to hear him talk that long. It’s too cliche’ and impersonal. In my opinion, if you are going to have a Pastor talk, don’t let him get over 4 or 5 lines. 14 is way ridiculous.

    9. Also, Capitalize “Pastor” in direction! If someone is an onscreen character with dialogue, don’t have them “pastor”, lower case in direction.

    10. We are 3 pages in and really spent so little time with Darma. Way too little to make an emotional connection. I think you should let us get to know the family a bit more. Now I haven’t read the whole script, so I could be completely off base, but I believe you have more of an emotional impact if Darma dying were the Inciting Incident on Page 10? That’s just my impression though. I would probably care about their plight a bit more if I got to spend more than two pages with them before the death happened. It would also give us time to see what the family was like before and after, so we could feel the effect a bit more.

    11. The writing in the direction is starting to become very passive at times. Here is a list of words http://yourscreenplaysucks.wordpress.com/7-deadly-sins-of-writing/ that I am seeing littered through the script that I suggest removing.
    12. Page 3, You have “2 Women” I’d suggest “Two Women” but that’s a style choice.
    13. Instead of Student 1, Student 2 Student 3, etc…I’d add an adjective to their names so it is easier to keep track of them and not make them seem so generic. Actors, even ones who only have a line or two need to be excited about the part. Giving them all the same generic name probably wont accomplish that.
    14. Page 5, your action lines on this page were pretty crisp, minus an ing or two I would take out.
    15. Page 6, Instead of “nudging Student 2″ I’d say “nudges Student 2″…which one sounds more active?
    16. Page 6, Irma’s behavior is definitely interesting. Good job with that. I would have actually extended that scene longer. A trick I once read from Carson is make your best scenes longer and your boring/exposition scenes shorter. Your classroom scene is twice as long as Irma sleepwalking (or whatever she was doing). Why? Cut some length off the classroom scene and add it to Irma walking.
    17. Page 8, I really think you need to trim a lot of the dialogue. It just looks intimidating. I think that the space on a screenplay is about maximizing your realty. Did the 23 lines of dialogue Dr. Webber had maximize the valuable white space they filled?
    18. Page 10, I’m not sure what to make of this convo? I get the point. I don’t feel like it was thrown in there. Daniel was explaining his motivations for being at the church. But I feel there was a lot of wasted space in those massive blocks of dialogue.

    • John Bradley

      So I said that I would try to be more active on this site. I hope Sean found at least one or two suggestions I gave helpful.

    • ArabyChic

      I agree with everyone that says there is too much fat here. Though the words “get in there late and get out early” don’t only apply to scenes. They apply to the story itself.

      I actually disagree with the audience needing more time with the family when the daughter was still alive. They’re mourning a great loss. That’s all we need to know. In order to show that, you don’t need the daughter. In fact it works best if you start the story after she’s already died, IMO. If you wanted to show a glimpse of life with her, show a happy time – not her when she’s sick. A very, very (even wordless) image of this family at it’s best. After that, a quick cut to the parents at the wake, or even post wake, perhaps cleaning up after all these people have been to their house to give their condolences would set them up nicely.

      Food for thought.

      • John Bradley

        I agree ArabyChic, having the daughter already dead is a great way to start. I have a script that begins with a man coffin shopping for his family. Then you can have flashbacks of them in happier times, as long as it doesn’t break up the pacing.

      • Malibo Jackk

        People may be familiar with the famous Hitchcock example.
        Hitch was working with a writer on a script (Marnie? Not sure)
        and the writer had a scene showing the wedding and another scene
        showing the couple boarding a ship for the honeymoon.
        Hitch suggested they delete those scenes and transition to a bowl of flowers
        with water swaying around inside — as if they were already aboard ship on their honeymoon.

        There are subtle ways of showing the parents mourning. More personal ways.
        Make the audience work. Help them to use their imaginations.

        • Poe_Serling

          Yeah, Hitch wasn’t only the Master of Suspense, but also of the cinematic transition.

          My favorite and one of his most famous – the climax of North by Northwest (1959). Written by Ernest Lehman and starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.

          >>Grant reaches down to rescue Eva Marie, who just happens to be hanging on for dear life from the top of Mt. Rushmore. Then we hear:

          Come along, Mrs. Thornhill.

          Now where inside the sleeping compartment of a moving train. Grant pulls her up into a bunk with him.

          So, within less than a minute:

          1) Grant saves the girl.
          2) They’re married.
          3) And as the train rockets through a tunnel, there about to begin their honeymoon.


        • ArabyChic

          I completely agree, Malibo.

          I wanted to work for some of the information. I didn’t want to know, right up front, what exactly was wrong with this couple. Just that they needed “fixing” – theirs was a marriage in trouble, and perhaps, the wife’s mental state was in question. The whys and hows are the stuff – the question boxes, if you will – that WOULD have kept me reading. As it is I stopped at the end of the 1st act.

          Now granted, you can only keep those questions alive for so long, but they become replaced by other questions. And once they reach the camp there are natural moments where a lot of question answering can take place. They need to be introduced to the people who run the camp (which right now takes place in a group session, that’s more about comedy relief than anything else – I think this needs to be a one on one with the couple and Silver). You can tease out information organically through their interactions.

          Even the mystery of the retreat camp is given away as soon as we get there – a woman levitates, right off the bat. And not only that, no one seems that freaked out about it. So I’m not freaked out about it. It sapped the mystery and the suspense out of what could have been a very tense moment.

  • John Bradley

    Return of the grendl!!!!!!!!!!

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    The comment you left today is an utter waste of time… Not very well written, either… No name, just “Guest” (a waste of time: sorry, commenter: you never know, though – you might log in under a real name and start giving constructive feedback and people here will eventually pay attention to you some day: this ain’t it for sure…).

  • ChadStuart

    I think the length of a script depends on the genre. Billy Wilder primarily dealt with dialogue heavy scripts, which will burn up less screen time and not quite fit the minute per page rule. Action heavy scripts will be the opposite so the should be shorter so the final product is a “manageable” length. Scripts should not be judged by their length but by their content. But I do understand Carson’ point that when you’re trying to break in, the readers will judge you by your length – they’re human after all. Does that suck? Yes. But reality often does.

  • Alex Palmer

    I agree with ZomiGirl on this one, friend. Enough conflict has been caused this week by non-constructive armchair critique.

    Remember that you are posting on website dedicated to writers (aspiring or established). Knocking out a post that does to grammar what Michael Bay films do to my retinas does not help your credibility.

    The irony is that because Beth Aven’s writer put EFFORT into his script (and it shows) unlike you into your post, thus two hours of reading his spec is a better use of time than the 10 seconds it takes to read your comment.

    Sorry to be harsh, but this post serves no purpose than to demoralize a young writer.

  • John Bradley

    This comment was a waste of time. If you think something sucks, why not be specific and give suggestions to improve it? Just my personal suggestion to improve your post, which I felt was lacking depth=)

    • AJ

      Second the advice to add to the community.

    • BSBurton

      Sometimes there’s no cure for a poorly executed script. Note: I didn’t read this script. But like Norman Osborne said in anger in spidey 1 “Back to formula?!” ANd then he kills Dr. Stromwell. It might not be easy to hear, but a lot of times it’s right on the money

      • John Bradley

        Telling someone their script failed without explaining why is like beating a dog who peed the carpet without rubbing his face in it first. In both cases the dog and writer are left hurt, having learned nothing and will go on to make the same mistakes because no one calmly explained to them what they did wrong.

        • BSBurton

          It’s hard for a writer to make the same mistakes in each script. Instead of looking for user comments, inexperienced folks should read the Screenwriter’s Bible and some sample scripts. It’s easy to see what works. I also don’t agree that you can fix some scripts, but John I do agree that one should give advice whenever possible to help a writer in need.

        • Ansar M. Smith

          I like how you compare dogs to writers. Nice.

  • John Bradley

    This whole thread looks like people just trying to pee on each other’s shoes! When Carson suggested adding conflict, I don’t think this is what he had in mind.

    • klmn

      I was hoping for more conflict in the grendl review. But this will just have to do.

  • ChadStuart

    Great! Hope they helped you!

  • Linkthis83

    Honestly, Sara, today’s stuff is really my fault. I overreacted to a post on Wednesday and it has carried into today. There really are a lot of excellent and supportive posters here who would help anyone in a heartbeat. Please stay and especially feel free to comment. This truly is a good environment for aspiring writers. I’m sorry for my actions and I will be more thoughtful/objective with my disagreements in the future. Welcome.

  • jridge32

    “Her head is bald from radiation therapy. But one glance from those green eyes makes anyone believe in hope.”

    Powerful stuff..

  • Gregory Mandarano

    “I didn’t want to go to school anyway.” Better?

    • Gregory Mandarano

      But would a 4 year old quip? And can a 4 year old act?

      • Linkthis83

        I’m impressed that a 4 year old is thinking that far ahead. I don’t even do that now.

  • GoIrish

    I didn’t get a chance to read the script, but the reference to murdering the dog reminded me of a humorous scene in What Just Happened (with Robert DeNiro) – a movie about making a movie. If I recall correctly, the director in the story added a scene (against the studio’s wishes) where a dog is murdered in a long, drawn-out fashioin. The movie (within the movie) is ultimately screened at Cannes and the audience is pretty much aghast at the ending.

    Pretty funny movie – I’d recommend it if you get the chance.

    EDIT: Hmmm, just looked at Rotten Tomatoes and it only got a 51% – apparently, I liked it more than most…

    • ripleyy

      I loved that movie, it’s really underrated.

    • Poe_Serling

      A few months ago, I saw this one on late-night TV:

      Red – A reclusive man sets out for justice and redemption when three troublesome teens kill his dog for no good reason.

      Co-directed by Lucky McKee. Written by Stephen ‘The Grudge’ Susco. Based on the novel by Jack Ketchum. Starring Brian Cox.

      This one was totally off my radar, but I’m glad I didn’t flip the channel. The film turned out to be quite good – a slow-burn thriller with a great performance by Cox.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        It came out on DVD here but didn’t get very much attention which is a shame. I liked the book and really liked the movie, too (a double surprise since I didn’t even know it had been shot). Worth checking out, indeed :-)

        • Poe_Serling

          Hey MZG-

          I had a hunch that you might’ve seen this one. :-) I find Lucky McKee to be an interesting new director to keep an eye on.

          I really enjoyed his film The Woods – here ‘a troubled girl encounters mysterious happenings in the woods surrounding an isolated girls school that she was sent to by her estranged parents.’

          And his current production has caught my interest, too…

          All Cheerleaders Die – A rebel girl signs up a group of cheerleaders to help her take down the captain of their high school football team, but a supernatural turn of events thrusts the girls into a different battle.

          ***One quick suggestion: I think Carson and Ms. SS should go the Bill Murray route from What About Bob? when they hit Paris – get a couple of t-shirts with “Don’t Hassle Me, I’m Local.” This way they can blend in and avoid the tourist label from the get-go. :-)

  • AJ

    Johnnie Cochran calls this the “American Beauty defense”.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    On a side note, drifting, witwoud, jake, citizen… any of you guys get a laugh when carson began his review with ‘chomping/champing at the bit.’ We were just talking about that! Kinda makes one feel like Carson’s spying on us, don’t it? :-D

    • drifting in space

      Oh, my goodness. I didn’t even notice that, LOL! Carson’s pulling an NSA on our comments.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        I wish he put champing… QQ. <—- that means crying.

        • drifting in space

          I come from the MMORPG realm, I know all about QQ’ing. :)

      • klmn

        And now he’s fleeing to France to seek asylum.

        • Gregory Mandarano

          Come on klmn. We both know, if anywhere, he’d take a trip to Belize.

  • BSBurton

    Agree completely. On another note, where are you from grendl?

    • grendl

      New York.

      • BSBurton

        What do you do up there? I like your posts just curious about life and so forth. you can reach me at bronburton@yahoo.com if you’d rather email.

  • Lemmy



    Take your meds before you post, bi-polar boy.

  • Linkthis83

    So I’m confused. If the SS community overall doesn’t like this back and forth stuff, then why does Jake have so many up-votes?

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Dramatic irony.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Oh, puh-leeze, Link, spare us your virgin blushes.

      Time to pull back the curtain.

      If I wanted an Amateur Friday read, right now I got dozens of people BEGGING me to post my stuff. Anyone truly think Carson wouldn’t jump on it for the page hits?

      Nothing works better than arrogance to rile people up. All these writers trying to think up more and more horrible tortures to have their villains inflict when all it takes is a sneer.

      Took grendl four years of being an asshole to get to this point.

      I did it in three days.

      I got my A-list contacts so I don’t need it, but this is how you play this site if you’re smart, my friends.

      Course you also need a great script to get outside interest, which is why grendl Wednesday was never going to be more than a sideshow, but you get the idea.

      Have a great weekend, everybody.

      I’ll try to be genuinely constructive with the next script I read. :)

      • grendl

      • Linkthis83

        There doesn’t appear to be much that is genuine about you. It’s easy to do what you do. Where there are people who are willing to be open and respectful, there will always be your kind. At it’s core, this site is for folks who share a common dream or passion or appreciation for some form of this industry.

        It’s a place people can come if they want to learn more about HOW to be a better writer. A place where people can have a discussion about common interests. It’s also a place where if you feel like you could use some help on a project that you’ve put countless hours of energy into, you can ask and someone will help. And most of the time, that feedback is objective, constructive and THOUGHTFUL.

        The only thing you truly offer in your feedback is smugness. You are dismissive and belittling all the while acting like you are providing insights that are new to the writer. But you pulled the curtain back, as you said, to reveal that it was just a glorious plot. To put yourself in demand. But you don’t need it, because you already have A-list contacts. Then the truth is, you don’t belong here. If you are as great as you claim and are already on the road to destination we here aspire to, then why are you here?

        You obviously don’t need SS. You obviously are far superior in your knowledge and ability. Coming to SS is basically like slumming it for you. Do you believe it’s you who is leading the next generation of writers to the promise land?

        So far in my 7 months on this site I haven’t seen you IMPROVE anything. As far as writing critiques go, I don’t have a lot of faith in your ability to make other writers better. If I ever need a guide for a Parisian cafe tour, then you’re my man.

        There’s nothing I can take serious about you. Anything you type will be interpreted with this elitist, posh voice (….that was the year Muffy and I summered on the river Thames..)

        I will remain genuine. I extended a sincere apology to you and this is your obvious rejection of it. Fair enough. I know all I need to know about you. Especially how a no name like me got into your head and you couldn’t let it go. Your delayed rebuttal and your inclusion of “it was all part of my plan” are indicators of a man hung up on himself, and fearful he may have done himself more harm than good.

        You forgot one thing at the end of your post:

        I’m JakeBarnes12! (you know, like Batman) ;)

        • JakeBarnes12

          How do you know about Muffy?

          That little harlot.

          I expressly forbade her from mixing with the day boys.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Hey Carson,

    Guess you’ll be in Paris in a few days. Maybe you’ve already heard privately from MarijaZombi Girl, who I gather from her posts is Paris-based year-round.

    I spend part of the year in Paris but sadly won’t be there when you’re there in September.

    Figured I’d post this publicly since maybe there are a few other SS people who know the city and can add to what I’m saying here.

    First thing I’d suggest is don’t be afraid to do the tourist stuff, especially on your first trip. For example, you get good weather, then feel free to have lunch in the Tuileries Gardens — a Croque Monsieur in an outside place there will set you back around 12 euros which is typical for anywhere in the central districts (arrondissements).

    In terms of dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Cremerie Polidor, 41, rue Monsieur Le Prince. It’s a centrally located old-stye place that’s one of my favorites. You can get a good three-course meal there for around 25 euros. Eat around 9:30 or 10:00 to avoid the tourists.

    If you feel compelled to follow the Hemingway route in Paris, then your best bet is the Bar Select at 99 boulevard du Montparnasse. You want to have a coffee there, or pretty much anywhere in Paris after breakfast, order a noisette (basically an espresso with a little milk.)

    In terms of areas, well, I love the 9th arrondissement where I have my apartment, but I’d suggest the Marais, which is the gay/jewish area of the city. One of my favorite cafes there is Le Pick-Clops which does great bagels. You can find it at 16 Rue Vieille du Temple. I’m often outside there on sunny days with my MacBook Air working on a script. Fantastic for people-watching too, and there’s no people-watching like in Paris.

    Finally, everybody’s down on Montmartre as a tacky tourist nightmare, and certainly the top of the butte is pretty kitsch, but further down you’ll find rue des Abbesse, which has lots of cafes and restaurants. I know a few writers and producers in the area and we sometimes meet for lunch or drinks at Un zebra a montmartre at 38 rue Lepic.

    That’s just a few places off the top of my head. There’s actually a film/screenwriting store round the corner from my place in the 9th, but almost all the books are in French so it’s probably not worth seeking out.

    I’ll let the guidebooks tell you about museums and all that stuff.


    • Awescillot

      There’s a big chance I’m going to Paris near the end of September. This is absolutely awesome to read, I’m definitely printing this out. Thanks for sharing this (publicly)!

      • JakeBarnes12

        You’re welcome, man.

        Have a great trip!

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Hey, C !
      Yeah, I was going to send an email but I might as well add to Jake’s informative post which I second.

      Don’t be afraid of the touristy places, indeed, such as the Latin Quarter (Saint Michel, Odéon, Maubeuge, Sorbonne) where you’ll find lots of small, cosy side streets with non-tourist cafés or more correctly-priced restaurants than on the main streets. Also, if the nice weather holds up, take a morning stroll around Jardin du Luxembourg (avoid lunch hour or afternoons especially on wednesdays where kids are off school). There’s also Ile Saint Louis and Ile de la Cité (where Notre Dame is located), two small islands located right in the center of Paris which both offer calm walks down typical Parisian streets. And don’t miss Montmartre, either (forget about Pigalle – it’s vulgar and cheap, not exotic in any way).

      For a romantic evening dinner (Yes, I’m sure Miss SS would appreciate !), take a dinner boat ride down the Seine. Information is readily available as these boats also offer sightseeing rides during the day so you can’t miss the multiple stops they make and they are actually a very nice way of discovering parts of Paris (less stressful than the overrun sidewalks).
      Avoid the métro as much as possible.
      Have a great trip :-)

      Jake, what’s the address of that film/screenwriting store, please ?

      • JakeBarnes12

        Hi, Marija,

        Afraid I forget the name, but it’s on rue La Bruyère, just off Notre-Dame de Lorette.

        I’ll just add something for Carson here to keep it all in one place.

        Carson, as Marija mentioned above, you’ll be sure to visit Notre Dame on Ile de la Cité. If you’re looking for something to eat, avoid the tacky tourist eateries that you’ll see to the left of the cathedral as you face it.

        Instead, keep going with the side of the cathedral to your right and cross the bridge to what Marija mentioned above, the Ile Saint Louis. Now take rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île and on you’re left you’ll find a little place called Au lys d’argent which has great savory and sweet crêpes for only five or six euros. Further up the same street, which is very pleasant to broswe, on the right you’ll find the famous Paris ice cream place, Berthillon. Back at the start of the street, impossible to miss, is the stylish St. Regis bar. Not the cheapest, but good for a cocktail before dinner and then all you have to do is cross back over to the Left Bank (Notre Dame will be on your right as you cross) and you’ll be very close to La bouteille d’or, the restaurant I mentioned above.


      • Midnight Luck

        This is great info also Marija, will have to look up you areas also.

        Side street, off the beaten path stuff is always the best. When I lived in Santa Fe, NM, it was always the side street places that were the most pleasing, not the main street, most visited places. You can find the coolest haunts by looking just off focus.

    • Midnight Luck

      Giving this kind of help and extras is so awesome. I cannot believe 2 idiots gave a down vote for this.

      It is so great to hear some actual real world call outs for where to go in Paris, thanks for that.

      I took a year of French in High School so one day when I check out Paris I will remember these places, and maybe look you up.

      One day might actually be soon, with a trip to Italy and then a plan to swing by France.

      Thanks for the info JakeB.

      • JakeBarnes12

        You’re welcome, Midnight. Thanks for the kind words.

        I know most of Italy pretty well too as I usually visit two or three times a year.

        If you’d like some recommendations, just let me know where you’re going and I’ll probably be able to tell you about a few good restaurants and bars.

  • Yuri Laszlo

    Hello Sara, you must be new to the Internet. Please, take a seat and make yourself comfortable. I sincerely hope you enjoy your stay.

  • Steve

    The Master speaks.

    Gregory, TruckDweller, ripleyy, Linkthis83, and gazrow listen in hushed awe and nod to each other and take notes.

    One day, they dare to hope that they too will write long, vampire-free scenes with no guns, as the Master wishes.

    They rest easy that the Master says they are not Billy Mumy, though they don’t really know who that is or what the Twilight Zone has to do with any of this.

    They do know who Billy Wilder is and are a little disconcerted that the Master should compare his boring story to classics like The Apartment and Some Like It Hot. In fact, even that shitty Billy Wilder movie Avanti is better than the Master’s script, but none of them dare to raise this point lest they arouse the Master’s ire.

    Gregory, the more intelligent among them, begins to suspect that the Master might be a little deluded and possibly totally insane in comparing his shitty script to Billy Wilder, but the murmurs of the other acolytes silence him.

    As the Master continues to speak, telling them that long scripts can be short, and short scripts can be long, and sometimes you just like a script, even gazrow, his most trusted and unthinking disciple, grows uneasy.

    To him the Master is now sounding quite unhinged. When he says that a script sometimes just works, gazrow realizes with a start that the Master is only talking about his own script, only trying to paper over his own story’s horrid flaws with nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

    Finally Gregory and gazrow’s eyes meet and in that instant they share the terrible knowledge that the Master cares nothing for them and has nothing to teach them.

    The Master cares only for himself as he is reflected in his unskilled work. To change the work would be to change the Master. This cannot be.

    As the air grows more stultifying around them Gregory and gazrow look towards the door and wonder if they can slip out without anyone noticing.

    They pray that it is not too late.

  • Yuri Laszlo

    One easily solved problem in the script is that it requires huge amounts of faith from the reader/spectator. It creates a parallel world so detached from reality that it was impossible for me to keep the suspension of disbelief going for the entire length of the script. Even though the story is set against a pretty simple background (it *is* a simple story at it’s core), there are so many elements that, instead of advancing the plot, act as an obtrusion.

    I mean to say that things like Angelology, people named Silver and Blix, the whole dialogue, while not fictitious – God knows I’ve heard worse names than that – are sufficiently detached from the sort of life the protags live (that we live) so as to divert our attention. It’s a horror story with a mystical feel to it, that’s alright. We go in expecting some weird stuff, but we can’t leave thinking we were bullshat (bullshitted? Heck, let’s go with ‘deceived’) throughout the story, which is what happened here to me.

  • Linkthis83

    Well, the Ohio vote will surely be in Jake’s favor.

  • JWF

    agree with most of the comments about the dialogue – cut most of the dialogue down and the script will flow better.

  • Steve

    The acolytes looked from one to another.

    Had the Master really said “horrible worded” when even the least of them knew that it should be “horribly worded?”

    Their hands moved uneasily under their robes. The Master had compounded his mistake by not using a hyphen between “horrible” and “worded.” Of course, no hyphen would be required in the correct version.

    A terrible realization spread over them that the Master did not know this.

    And then there was the troubling fact that the Master only had one response to any criticism, which was a dull attack on the speaker’s career.

    But the Master’s career… Better not to speak of it. The Holy Contest, yes, and twice, yes, but then?

    Nothing but incense and candles and this place, the Holy Mother’s basement.

    Even Linkthis83 had his own basement.

    But they must keep faith. The Master had told them that the exposure of one of his two Sacred Scripts to the world would lead to contact from the outside world, from Hollywoodland, where they would all go when the Master was called.

    But there had been only silence.

    Truckdweller suspected it was time for the Master to write another Sacred Script. How long could the Master just wave those two around and talk about the Holy Contest and use the same old defenses when his fail… No. never even think that word in the Master’s presence.

    The Master had even met people from Hollywoodland.

    It had not gone well.

    It had been the Master’s one chance and the people in Hollywoodland did not want to work with the Master.

    The Master said it was because they did not understand. The Master said they were the problem. He said that a lot.

    But they had careers, while the Master, yes, speak the words… had none. To say that someone who disagrees with you has no career while you have no career was very, very strange.

    The Master was a very strange man.

    Was this the reason he had no career?

    Would they too have no career if they listened to the Masters words, which every day were the same and always sought explain why he had no career?

    Truckdweller saw Gregory and gazrow edging towards the door while the Master was adjusting his two VHS tapes, and moved quickly to join them.

  • Citizen M

    Billy Wilder was a writer-director, not a writer of spec scripts. He wrote long, e.g The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Wilder and Diamond:

    FADE IN:

    Engraved on it are the words: COX & CO., Bankers.
    Reflected in its shiny surface are double-decker red
    buses, and other present-day London traffic.

    An iron gate opens, and two bank guards come in. One of
    them switches on the lights. On the shelves which line
    the walls are dusty strong-boxes, document cases, wrapped
    packages, etc. The guards move along the shelves
    searching for something.

    Somewhere in the vaults of a bank in
    London is a tin dispatch box with my name
    on it. It is not to be opened until
    fifty years after my death.

    The guards find a battered tin dispatch box with the name
    JOHN H. WATSON, M.D., painted on it. They remove it from
    the shelf, set it down on a table. The box is tied with
    heavy cord, the knots sealed with wax. Strung on the
    cord is the key.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Reads great to me.

  • Citizen M

    Agreed. Comments here should be about scripts and scriptwriting, not about personalities.

  • JakeBarnes12

    I would just like to clarify I did not write this.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Astounding to discover that you have the bad habit of writing overlong scenes which keep repeating information, g.

    • drifting in space

      Give it a rest. We get it. You’re snarky. Congrats. I just feel bad for everyone that continues to feed the troll.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Sean, in league with carson’s sage advice to simplify, on page 80 don’t bother with the dual dialogue. Write it in english, and just add a wryly (parenthetical) that says (in Latin, subtitled. People overuse dual dialogue, and what’s worse is when dialogue itself is in another language. Write it in english for the ease of the tired reader and specify in the wryly what language and whether it is subtitled or not.

  • Malibo Jackk

    You might want to pack a knife.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    (In Latin)

  • klmn

    OT. I clicked on the “community” button and among the commenters, Poe Serling is number 1. Carson is number 2.

    I am number six. That sounds kinda ominous.

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey klmn-

      I’ve always pictured you as a Patrick McGoohan type – ‘defiant to imposed authority, concocting your own plans for escape, learning all you can about the Village, and subverting its operation.’

      Number 6:
      Where am I?

      Number 2:
      In the SS Village.

      Number 6:
      What do you want?

      Number 2:
      We want information.

      Number 6:
      Whose side are you on?

      Number 2:
      That would be telling. We want information… information… information.

      Number 6:
      You won’t get it.

      Number 2:
      By hook or by crook, we will.

      Number 6:
      Who are you?

      Number 2:
      The new Number 2.

      Number 6:
      Who is Number 1?

      Number 2:
      You are Number 6.

      Number 6:
      I am not a number, I am a free man.

      • klmn

        Well, now we know who number 1 is.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    I think we need to have a Los Angeles Scriptshadow Screenwriters Mixer… for those of us who live here (or those willing to come down from wherever you live)…

    Maybe even start a screenwriter’s group where you can share your scripts. I’m part of two out here already, one in Malibu, the other in Burbank, plus I’m part of a WGA Mentorship on 3rd and Fairfax, but could use one more good one.

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      Even though I live in Sweden, I think that’s a good idea. I hope you guys we’ll move forward with this.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        I’ll keep posting it. I don’t think a lot of people read it since this post is already 5 days old. But yeah, to grow you need to write write write, and have a good team of people around you who know what the hell they’re doing lol at least partly.

  • drifting in space

    With SS updates/newsletter, my life is falling apart. I guess I’ll actually go write…

  • Malibo Jackk


  • Citizen M

    They used it to wrap a baguette.

  • Citizen M

    The most important thing to remember in screenwriting is…

    • JakeBarnes12

      Hi, Citizen,

      The full quote is “Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

      He’s saying that prior to a movie’s release, no one knows if it’s going to be a hit or not.

      But when it comes to screenwriting craft, as we’ll see with Will Hare’s script this Friday, some people most definitely know something.

  • m_v_s

    I get it. No newsletter, no update = get off your ass and do some writing.


  • tobban

    Is Carson going to Paris to tie the knot? I can hear wedding bells…
    Is Carson going to make an honest woman out of Miss Scriptshadow?
    Its just something I overheard. Pay no attention to it.
    At the top of the Eiffel Tower? Never mind.
    At the Louvre? In front of Mona Lisa? Forget I even said it. Sorry.

  • Malibo Jackk

    – censored –

  • romer6

    Ok, Carson, I get it. You are freaking us out so that we can create our own conspiracy theory about your disappearance and turn it into a movie later on. Great idea!

    Done. Now come back.

  • Kieran ODea

    Carson. You’re killing me. No news letter this week? No monday article? How’s a guy supposed to get his fix if you aren’t around?

  • andyjaxfl

    Since Carson is gone for the week and we all need something to do, anyone want to vote on a new Reader Top 25?

  • C.K.

    Anybody else notice the script is called Beth Aven but it’s posted and reviewed as Beth Haven? When it was first listed the blurb said it was written for low budget model and was character driven. if you look at most low budget movies they DO have a lot of dialogue because they can’t afford to shoot elaborate effects//makeup/scares. so i read it feeling like it was that. low budget. get good actors and make the dialogue sing. yeah it can be cut here and there but i figure that’s the director’s job to get actors who make it play.