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Genre: Action/Adventure
Premise (from writer): When contact with an expedition on the trail of a mythical treasure is mysteriously lost, a paratrooper, a gentleman thief, and an archeologist must join forces, or risk losing them forever to sinister forces bent on the same prize.
About: Okay, a little background on this one. We didn’t have an Amateur Offerings two weeks ago, which left today’s slot open. Now it just so happened that Mikko, the writer of today’s script, e-mailed as I was trying to decide what to review, and reminded me of his screenplay, which had the unfortunate duty of going up against “Where Angels Die” in a previous Amateur Offerings post. I looked back at the post, saw that some folks liked it, and said, sure, let’s go with this one. And this is why it never hurts to politely remind folks about your script. You never know when someone’s going to have a free moment to pop your script open. But they won’t do it if they’ve forgotten about it.  Of course, don’t go overboard. Just a polite nudge every once in awhile will do the trick. – Note: This is an updated draft from 6 months ago. Mikko took many of the notes he received from that original post and applied them.
Why You Should Read (from writer): It received a 8/10 paid review on the Black List, but more importantly it was your post promoting the Tracking Board Launch Pad screenwriting competition that got me to enter that competition. I ended up making the Top 25 semis, but I didn’t make the cut to the Top 10. I was hoping you might give my script a go and share some insight into how to make it into a script that would’ve cracked the Top 10.
Writer: Mikko Tormala
Details: 119 pages


The Jaguar’s Fang was pitched as an adventure movie in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now on the one hand, that’s exciting. We’ve been looking for the next Indiana Jones for 30 years now. On the other, it’s a bit of a death trap. By saying your script is like Raiders, you’re asking the reader to compare it to Raiders. And that’s what happened here. I was constantly comparing the two scripts. And how do you think you’re going to fare against the best action adventure movie of all time?


But that’s not to say The Jaguar’s Fang is bad. I totally see why this finished Top 25 in The Tracking Board contest. It’s a solidly written adventure film with plenty of GSU and a professional polish to it. But there is something missing here. Something that’s keeping it from reaching the next level. I’m not sure I know what it is yet. But as I talk through the reading experience, I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

The Jaguar’s Fang is set in 1945, and focuses on a World War 2 paratrooper, Quentin Riley, who lost his best friend in battle while defending a bridge from the Germans. It’s been a year and Riley’s taken to the drink. When he learns his friend’s father has disappeared on an expedition to the Yucatan, he vows to find him and give him a letter his son wrote him before he died.

Joining Quentin is sword-fighting thief George McAllister, who gives everything he steals to the needy, and Mary Bronstall, a stowaway whose father was also on the missing expedition. Mary was supposed to stay away but the gal’s too darn feisty to obey orders.

The Expedition was looking for an ancient relic known as the Jaguar’s Fang, which is not only worth millions itself, but is supposed to contain some sort of map that will lead to endless treasures. Of course, it just happens to be located amidst the never-ending jungles of the Yucatan where many an explorer has gone to never see the light of day again.

But our crew gets lucky. They find a lost city where the expedition last camped and follow their trail (spoiler) to an underground Mayan society that is still in existence! Ruled by a barbaric king, they will need to snag the expedition members TONIGHT before they are sacrificed and get the hell out of there or have this underground city become their underground tomb.


Okay, so like I said, there was a lot of good here. We have the goal of finding this lost expedition. There’s a nice mystery. Where did they disappear to? The motivations are all there (Riley needs to get this letter to his dead friend’s father. Mary needs to save her father). And some urgency starts to kick in when another group chases them.

All of that seemed textbook to me.

So then what was missing?

For me, something was lacking on the character front. Riley felt a little bland. He was certainly active, which is good. That’s how you want your hero to be. He was selfless (doing this for his friend), so he was likable. But he lacked definition as a character. I couldn’t peg what kind of person he was (Luke Skywalker, for example, can easily be pegged as a kid with big dreams who wants to take down the Empire). And he didn’t have any personality. He wasn’t funny. He wasn’t sly. He wasn’t unique or unpredictable or roguish or selfish. He was a normal guy trying to get something done.

This is one of the scariest things about screenwriting. You can get a whole hell of a lot right. But if we’re not on board with your main character, it won’t matter.

Similarly, I didn’t know what was going on with George McAllister. At times, I wasn’t sure if this was a two-hander (two protagonists) or if he was just a sidekick. Regardless, he was too soft. He starts off as this sword-fighting thief, but then quickly fades into the background, offering occasional humorous quips. Again, we have another character who’s lacking in definition and personality. If you want to create a Jack Sparrow character, McAllister’s gotta be WAY bigger on the page. If not, I’m not sure you even need this character. I struggled to figure out what he was doing in the story.

In addition to these problems, there wasn’t anything in the script that felt new or fresh. In fact, for 75% of the story, we’re moving along a rather mundane repetitive path. We’re in the forest, we discover something minor, we hear the bad guys are getting closer, we keep moving. The underground Mayan city was the one big “Haven’t seen this before” moment, but it was too little too late. By that point, I hadn’t seen anything fresh enough to keep me invested.

And the set pieces. I mean, when you’re competing against Raiders, you’re competing against the king of set-pieces. And until the big finale, which was admittedly good, all the set pieces were tame. I’m not saying it’s easy to come up with stuff we’ve never seen before, but you have to try. You have to take chances because we readers read every day. We see the same imaginations come up with the same scenarios over and over again. You have to throw out and rewrite a lot of stuff to find those rare ORIGINAL moments. But it’ll be worth it, because your script WILL stand out when you do.

But it all comes back to the characters. If I were Mikko, I’d do a major character overhaul here. Ask yourself, if I didn’t have this wild adventure to put my characters in, would they still be interesting? Would they still say or do things that an audience would want to hear/see? Right now, the answer is no.

I was just reading the Marshal of Revelation (Wednesday’s review) and THAT script is character. Those are memorable people. I think part of the problem here is that everyone in this script is so squeaky clean. They’re so nice and cuddly. Even our thief doesn’t keep his money. He gives it to orphanages! Between Riley and McAllister, I would look to make one of these two a lot more edgy. By doing so, you’ll not only have a more interesting character, but you’ll have more conflict between your main characters (as they’ll want to solve problems in different ways), which should provide some more entertaining scenes.

Structurally, The Jaguar’s Fang is great. But until the character issues are solved, it’s going to be stuck just below “worth the read” level.

Script link: The Jaguar’s Fang

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

What I learned: I think this genre of movie needs a protagonist with more edge. This isn’t It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s is a down-and-dirty adventure film. The hero needs a darkness to him, something that manifests itself negatively. Whether he’s self-destructive, manipulative, a womanizer. Something that gives his character SOME PERSONALITY. I think Mikko tried to do this with Riley’s drinking, but it became a non-factor as soon as they went on the journey, so it never felt like a true character vice.

  • ArabyChic

    I haven’t read this script so I understand if this comes off like someone who doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about, but the reference to Raiders and the lack of tension had me thinking of another Lucas production: Star Wars.

    It’s nuts how in that movie EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER argues with another about how they live their life. Hans argues with everyone. Obi Wan tries to teach Luke while arguing with Hans. Leia tells everyone that her way is the way (Hans is just the only one that argues back). Even the droids and Chewbacca argue, even if we can’t understand what they’re saying half the time.

    Having three characters, two men and a woman, is the perfect set up for some serious arguing. Take a page out of the Star Wars book and have both men crush on her. Have her argue with both men for different reasons. They gang up on each other. While the external forces they face are fun set pieces the character elements we fall in love with are when Hans starts off selfish, but through arguing and being around these selfless people who try to change him, he becomes a hero. Leia goes from a bossy lady to the kind of melt in your arms damsel in distress she hates.

    So, again, with my limited knowledge of this screenplay, I’d say Carson’s idea (about the thief especially) feels right. Start them out so they’re purposes are diametrically opposed. Then set loose on each other and watch the fireworks go off.

    • ArabyChic

      That would be “Han” not his German counterpart.

      • Paul Clarke

        Hans was an equally interesting character until John McClane went and threw him off the building.

        • ArabyChic

          Well done, sir.

        • ArabyChic

          BTW, yesterday’s film aside, Die Hard may just be the best Christmas movie ever.

        • garrett_h

          Hans Landa wasn’t too shabby himself. That is, until Aldo Raine went and carved a swastika into his forehead…

      • Alex Palmer

        Yeah, but is he a “super” Hans?

        • ArabyChic

          Thanks for this. I was laughing my ass off.

          • Alex Palmer

            Have watched Peep Show before?

          • ArabyChic

            Nope. This is my first.

        • Streeb-Greebling

          This crack is really Moorish.

  • Matthew Garry

    I thought The Jaguar’s Fang was a fun adventure romp.

    It was the pacing though, and not the characters, that threw me off. It’s as if
    the third act is a complete movie by itself.

    There a safe lull before they take off for the hidden city. The old antagonists are
    suddenly out of the picture, and there is a whole new set of antagonists and important characters introduced.

    I’d suggest, if you are going to have a breather beat, to put it around the midpoint.
    The protagonists won and now have the location, the antagonists don’t. The heroes are preparing their expedition. An incident happens, the antagonists get their hands on the location, and the race is back on. That way the breather moment is put to good use contrasting the upcoming urgency.

    I’d also suggest to have the hidden city either appear earlier (to set it up better) or
    later (as a set-piece backdrop for a smaller third act) and keep the pressure of the
    original antagonists on.

    As far as characters go, Riley was active, likable and quarreling with the female lead. Sometimes a hero just needs to be a hero who gets the girl (to some degree) and saves the day. Anything more to make him interesting is a bonus, but I think his journey of self discovery shouldn’t get in the way of fun and adventure in this sort of script.

    MacAllister was maybe a little bit too outspoken of his being a gentleman with a Robin Hood character. Maybe he could be a little more mysterious, leading a reader to suspect he’s got an agenda all his own (he is a thief after all).

    Mary pleasantly held her own against Riley and made a pretty interesting active female lead.

    Maybe it was too much. Too much shift in focus, too much change in pacing, too many new important characters and plot devices. In short, too much diverging material to keep everything perfectly flowing throughout one story.

    But in the end, when I read about the three slots in the case’s padding and Whitmore’s big teaser, I found myself curious about the events that are yet to unfold, so well done!

  • hickeyyy

    In regards to the newsletter, I signed up but didn’t receive any confirmation email. Should I get something that said I signed up? I don’t want to miss the gift! (As a note, I think the gift could possibly be a Black List download link? One can only hope!)

    • Nate

      You don’t get a confirmation email. At least I didn’t. It might take a couple of weeks for Carson to reply. To be honest I forgot all about it until Carson sent me the newsletter a few weeks after I requested to be put on the mailing list.

    • dawriter67

      Check your spam folders, too.

    • Alex Palmer

      Dude, if you’re after the Black List scripts rochee posted the entire thing on a drop-box two days ago. It’s since been taken down, but not before a few downloads :) I have the whole thing. I can email it to you, if my email will allow me to attach that many files without crashing :P

      • hickeyyy if you would be so kind! :) I would follow you to the edges of the Earth. Or at least to Mordor.

      • charliesb

        me too pretty please. birdieey at g male dot com.
        I need the Killing Floor like woah.

        • Breezy

          Can you forward it to me too, please?
          Trying to save Alex the trouble and get it form someone he already sent it to. Thanks!
          rumandwords@hotmail. com

      • ScriptChick

        Hi Alex, I would also like to get in on this script gold mine. If you can, send it my way as well:

      • Nathan

        Could I possibly jump in on this? My email is Forever inbyour debt (or atleast your Sent Items folder)..

  • Randy Williams

    Writer really has the story telling chops, however, the script has the line, “Hold on to your knickers” with no attempt at ridiculing, sexualizing, or using that period phrase as a punch line. I think that’s indicative of the problem, personally, I see here. It’s all too nice for 2013. I agree with the review that a little “edgy” somewhere would help. Also, for me, the attempt from everyone to be so civilized in the jungle, (they even discuss it) is so annoying. If you’re going that route, I’d make Mary come with a full entourage in petticoats and steamer trunks and it slows them down and eventually she’s reduced to Miss Lonely Planet. There you have conflict. Eschewing the light tone of this all together, you could go all- out- dark on this…. The orphanages they’ve been supporting are unbeknownst to them recruiting stations for human sacrifice. Lovely, read, still. Good luck with it!.

  • dawriter67

    Here’s an idea to flesh out. In Raiders, Indy’s flaw was snakes. Marion’s flaw was that she was angry and Indiana for deserting her many years ago – she however learned to forgive him and fall in love again with him at the end – she over came her flaw. Indy faced his flaw – fear of snakes – and lowered himself into the pit. This is what makes the characters come alive and be more connected.

    • ArabyChic

      Indy’s FEAR was definitely snakes, but I don’t think that can be a flaw. Like a fear, a flaw can be overcome, but a flaw runs deeper than just a gut instinct. I’d say Indy’s flaw — which is a flaw he maintained in every movie, funny enough — is that he was a man of pure science, who had no room for faith, spirituality and the unexplained. And in each movie, he is confronted by something that pure science can not explain and must accept that some other worldly beliefs hold just as much truth as a scientific one.

      • Matty

        Absolutely correct. A character can have many fears, in fact the best characters do. And a fear can also be a flaw (or I should say, the fatal flaw – what the movie is actually “about”). You could make a movie about someone getting over their fear of snakes, but it’d be a pretty lame movie. Fear of intimacy, fear of rejection, etc. are flaws that can carry a whole film, and often have.

        But in the case of Raiders, yes, Indy’s flaw was that he was a man of science, a man who expected a rational, scientific explanation for things. So at the climax, when he closes his eyes and tells Marion to do the same, he is overcoming this flaw, now a believer of something that science cannot explain.

        But then the sequel, like most sequels, completely forget this, and have him back to the way he was at the beginning of the first film as you point out. The best sequels (Aliens, The Dark Knight, etc.) continue the journey of their protagonist, rather than resetting it.

        • dawriter67

          Overcoming his fear of snakes by descending into the pit is one flaw he overcame albeit a minor one. The fact that he was man of science – I wouldn’t say it’s a flaw-flaw in that sense :-) he didn’t let it hinder him but it overcame him at the last resort and he succumbed to their beliefs but it was weak..I felt the flaw of snakes stood out though.

          • Matty

            The way I look at it, when it comes to Raiders: fear of snakes is a characteristic, not character. Being a man of science is character. It defines him. If you had to say, in one sentence, who is Indiana Jones, you wouldn’t say “a man afraid of snakes,” because while true, it doesn’t define him.

          • ArabyChic

            Well said. No one sits around and discusses whether snakes are something to be feared in the Indy movies. But the themes of faith, religion, God, supernatural beings and unexplainable events are ALL subjects and themes that are explored through out each. They are openly discussed. They are an intrinsic part of the series. And it’s always another character who question’s Dr. Jones’ swift dismissal of it all as nothing more than ancient lore or myth.

            When something is that prevalent, and your character is challenged on it so often, it usually has something to do with their defining flaw.

  • Nate

    I might be wrong here but wasn’t this script featured in AOW a couple of months ago?

    • Citizen M

      Mikko, the writer of today’s script, e-mailed as I was trying to decide what to review, and reminded me of his screenplay, which had the unfortunate duty of going up against “Where Angels Die” in a previous Amateur Offerings post.

      • Eddie Panta

        Hey Citizen M.
        Yes, that’s how I remember it. Still, not sure why this was reviewed this week?

        • Matty

          “We didn’t have an Amateur Offerings two weeks ago, which left today’s slot open.”

          • Eddie Panta

            Thanks.I see that now…
            So when does the last batch get a review?

      • Eddie Panta

        Thanks for sending me th PDF! Much appreciated!

    • garrett_h

      Pretty sure Carson mentioned this in the review…

      • Eddie Panta

        Confused as well… Will check the review again.

      • Nate

        So he did. My bad. I never read the top part of the review before the picture, I just jump right into review itself.

  • klmn

    If Carson is going to review scripts like ROTLA he should watch some of the serials which were the basis for that project.

    Here’s a trailer for LOST CITY OF THE JUNGLE.

  • klmn

    Will Carson review the Star Wars holiday special? Is that his secret gift to readers?

    • Alex Palmer

      [x] Impressive :)

  • Stank

    I’d first like to say that I know neither the writer of A LOT OF BLOOD or the writer of JAG FANG. I also have no vested interested in either of their successes beyond the fact that I’m rooting for all of us. I have also read both scripts in their entirety.

    To me, Carson hit the nail on the head with this review. I don’t always agree with Carson (we’ll get to A Lot of Blood in a second) but I thought Carson analyzed this perfectly, as he IMHO often does. Kuddos Car Car. Do you mind if I call you that?

    My question/interest/concern lies in the fact that the last 6 weeks or so have been a lot of contained thrillers, and we’ve seen some good reviews. Submerged/A lot of Blood/ the Females offering week. Nothing amazing, but an above average amount of Worth the Read stuff. Then comes along this Action Adventure, which in my opinion wasn’t perfect but a whole lot better than some of these contained thrillers and it gets nit-picked (rightfully so) for characters.

    But what about A Lot of Blood. If we want to talk about boring characters, that script right there is the definition of it. The two leads are the same person, literally. The girl is only worth how much she can cry. We never meet the bad guys.

    The obvious response is (that script is about the mystery) but so is Jag’s Fang.

    To me, while Jag Fang had it’s share of issues, mainly it’s repetitive nature that Carson touched on, to me it was a hell of a lot better than A Lot of Blood. I mean no offense to the hard work of last weeks amateur writers, more power to you, I point this out merely to try to understand more what works on script shadow and also try to suggest maybe Carson do an article or we all discuss how to get a Worth the Read or above on a Big Action/Comedy/Sci-Fi movie from an amateur on this site.

    Ok. I rambled. To me Jag Fang was really strong. If it were me, I’d have given it a Worth the Read even with the repetition and character problems.

    • garrett_h

      IMO, trying to gauge Carson’s tastes and “crack the code” so to speak on how to get a WTR or higher from him is a fools errand.

      No offense to Carson, but he’s no different than any other Hollywood reader. He has things he looks for and just because he likes/dislikes something doesn’t mean someone else won’t come along and completely disagree (as you’ve done with Jaguars Fang). Just read the Looper and Prometheus reviews if you want an example.

      With that said, if I just HAD to try and impress Carson, I’d probably write a high concept sci-fi thriller with some type of ticking clock featuring a tortured soul protagonist (maybe even a dead/imperiled wife) and a third act twist. That still might not get his attention. Just look at his Top 25, it’s all over the genre map.

      Bottom line, just write the best damn script you can.

    • Alex Palmer

      Am I the only one who thought that “Warning Shot” (the female week one) was a really fantastic script, and possibly one of the best AOW scripts Scriptshadow has hosted?

      • Stank

        No hate at all toward Warning Shot, I haven’t read it. Just another contained thriller that got the stamp of approval so I figured it is worth mentioning.

        I don’t want to take anything away from any writer or Carson. All are to be commended for their work. I just personally feel that it is easier to get a WTR or above if you are entering with a contained thriller vs. other genre’s.

        • gazrow

          “I just personally feel that it is easier to get a WTR or above if you are entering with a contained thriller vs. other genre’s.”

          Hmmm. Not sure if that’s true. Plenty of contained thrillers have crashed and burned on Scriptshadow over the years.

          But if it is, maybe it’s because a contained thriller is tougher to write than most genres IMO. You’re limited by the number of locations, characters, budget, pretty much everything! So a script that overcomes all this and tells a good story probably deserves a WTR. :)

  • Citizen M

    I pretty much agree with Carson on this one. The underground city and the big finale were pretty good, but the rest was a little too plodding.

    For me, our guys had things a little too easy. They weren’t forced to use ingenuity and imagination to escape from peril. I never felt those “oh shit” moments so essential in this type of story, except right at the end.

    Also, they didn’t use their particular skills. For instance, McAllister is an expert swordsman, but except near the beginning, he never uses his sword-fighting skills. I expected Riley to act more like the ex-military man he is. Mary… well, what did she contribute apart from being a damsel in distress and kicking Riley in the how’s-yer-fathers?

    Given the very expensive sets this would need, i wonder if it wouldn’t be better to do it as as a graphic novel first to gain a following.

    Finally, what concerns me is the destruction of an ancient civilization, no matter how cruel. I wonder if it is acceptable in today’s politically-correct climate.

  • Tom

    There’s a lack of realism, texture and depth to this script. It’s a script that feels like it’s gone a few drafts too far. The freshness has been weeded out and replaced with functionality. Like the writer received too many “make it clearer” and “add characterization” notes. And now the script is laying there, lifeless.

    Everything feels machine-like, and therefore, not organic.

    When you read the teaser (which could be recreated, beat-for-beat, with scenes from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), it rings false. Why? First, because it’s too familiar. Second, because the soldiers are too busy explaining things to the reader. We don’t need to know that AT stands for “anti-tank.” We don’t need to know that if this bridge is taken, it’s bad news. So stop explaining it to us. Let them show us through action.

    The entire script was like that. It stops, practically turns to the reader, and tells us what we need to know. It tells us (over and over again) that Keith and Riley were BFFs. It sits down and explains the mission to us. It has characters say things like “I owe you so much I doubt I can ever repay it.” It holds our hand, and thus, holds its characters back.

    The hand of the writer is ever present. The writer gets too “cute.” Page 7, when asked about his drinking, Riley replies “Churchill and FDR got drunk. Adolf didn’t. See what happened? I don’t wanna be another cautionary tale.” Cute line. Too cute. It also has 3 lines of dialogue leading into that line, then 1 leading out. Essentially, 1/4 page is used to deliver that line. Again, this is what a script that’s too “written” feels like.

    In all honesty, RAIDERS is a tough comparison. On a script level, RAIDERS is, well, kinda clunky (*gasp!* Oh no he didn’t!). I could go into a long post on everything that is wrong with that movie. But it was fresh. It was organic. Having Spielberg, Ford, and John Williams at the height of their careers certainly helped. But things were happening in that movie that we had never seen before.

    Jaguar’s Fang feels like its scuba-diving in a swimming pool. Sure, there’s coral painted on the walls, and the pool is freshly stocked with fish, but it doesn’t compare to the depth, and exoticness of the ocean.

  • charliesb

    Ahoy, I’ve only reached page 4 so far. But I wanted to suggest paying a little more attention to some of your descriptions. For example:

    “Walker digs out a BLACK ZIPPO and throws it, but a ricochet distracts him and he fumbles. The lighter falls between them in the middle of the bridge and they stare at it in shock.”

    Would probably read better as:

    “Walker digs out a BLACK ZIPPO but is distracted by a ricochet as he throws it and fumbles. The lighter falls between them in the middle of the bridge and they stare at it in shock.”


    “RILEY wakes with a gasp, a hand reaching out. He is covered in sweat and breathes heavily. He has a beard.”

    He has a beard. LOL. (that was an affectionate LOL, not a derisive one)


    “A weathered RILEY wakes up with a gasp, a hand reaching out. He is covered in sweat and breathes heavily.”

    When you talk about him wiping the sweat off his face in the next paragraph, you can mention the beard there a little more organically.

    I’ll report back when I finish it. Good luck!

  • John Bradley

    Congrats Mikko on the review and the solid placements on Trackingb! Based on Carson’s review and advice he has given previously, I would suggest adding more conflict between Quentin and George. Maybe even making George a more unlikeable character to start. Maybe he doesn’t give his plunder away and is selfish, thus leaving room open for a solid character arc. I can see him almost as a Jack Sparrow type, the reluctant hero. Maybe I’m totally off base with that suggestion.

    • Citizen M

      Good suggestion re conflict. Another possibility is if both George and Quentin fancy Mary. Then you could have them forever trying to one-up each other to impress her.

      George only hints that he gives away money to the poor. We never actually see him doing it. So it is perfectly possible that George is revealed to be a liar and a braggart and has to redeem himself with some great act of sacrifice.

      • John Bradley

        When I write a script I always get the story where I want it before my characters. It sounds like the story is pretty close to where the writer wants it. From George’s description there seems to be a lot of room to infuse him with personality and make him eccentric. I like the idea of a braggart that would be entertaining.

  • Eddie Panta

    From middle of page 1

    Where are we? Who are we? What are we doing? What is the reaction?
    Look at how these questions are answered in the following three lines.

    On the other side of the bridge ( comma) GERMAN SOLDIERS ( what type?) and a TANK, with a MACHINE GUNNER on top, fire at ( new reaction line) the PARATROOPERS –and try to retake the bridge. ( telling, not showing… besides I assume they are)

    Try it without using “and”.
    Be more specific. i.e. Infantry, armor, etc…
    Notice above how the action verb – FIRE becomes buried in the above paragraph.

    On the other side of the bridge, a NAZI ARMORED UNIT. MACHINE GUNNERS – fire from a top the advancing tanks.

    The reaction to the firing in the next line is vague.

    Chaos. Paratroopers fight from behind cover. ( fight how?) The tank fires from the other side ( we know the tank is on the other side) and ( remove and) rubble flies around. Men yell out. ( unnecessary) Rubble flies. could be a sentence.

    Paratroopers is vague. What is the character’s reaction to the firing?

    Later on pg. 3

    A hail of MACHINE GUN FIRE from their flank cuts down the machine gunner and many of the Germans on the bridge.

    Confused cause the first Machine Gun fire comes from a flank but the previous sentence described the Germans as flanking, not the US. and it only says: Machine Gun Fire cuts down the machine gunner.. What?
    Many of the Germans on the Bridge. – also vague.

    Okay wait.. It was a surprise. It’s Roberts’ squad laying down suppressive fire from the building he pointed out to them earlier. ( who, what, when, where?)

    But this still doesn’t explain the confusion in the term ” their flank” in the first two paragraphs on pg. 3.

    When the action isn’t established through a character’s eyes, but instead described generally or wide, it takes more words and is more confusing. Besides the fact that we lose touch with the lead and do not see his reaction/emotion to the event, which is what really tells us the story…

    Bottom of page 2 ends with Riley tossing the Zippo. The smoke clears a bit.

    Top of page 3. Does not continue with a POV or a new Scene heading. Is this what Riley sees or not? What happened to Riley after he tosses the Zippo?

    The smoke should either clear or not. Clears a bit… is too passive.

    Again near bottom of page 3
    Look at the event and how it is told twice.
    Instead seen only through the character.

    Walker runs out of cover, IS SHOT, and falls prone.

    Riley is in shock, watching his best friend go down.

    Riley’s reaction is now past tense, not in the moment, and you’ve told me what happened twice: falls prone and best friend go down. This is not as suspenseful.

    Walker runs for it. He’s shot….
    Riley, in shock, watches as his best friend goes down.
    He immediately positions himself for a rescue, but ricocheting bullets have pinned him down.

    • John Bradley

      Syntax is very important with the short writing style of screenwriting.

    • Citizen M

      I had a hard time imagining that scene.

    • Malibo Jackk

      This is what you encounter in the first few pages.
      It’s the first impression.
      Rightly or wrongly, the assumption is that the rest of the script will be as difficult to read.

      • Eddie Panta

        Yes, unfortunately this is all too true. I thought the script got better. But, if you want to do WWII action in the first page, you’ve got to nail it.

        Wondering if this is the updated revised version or the same as the original entry?

    • leitskev

      I would caution against following Eddie’s advice to the point of including too much unnecessary detail. The idea in a spec script is just to give a sense of how the scene would playing out. Not that there aren’t useful suggestions here, there are. But the focus needs to be on pulling the reader into the story, not micromanaging the scene.

  • RO

    I think you’re misinterpreting what Carson wrote. George Bailey is the main character who’s likeability is beyond that of all the other characters we see in the movie. With the Jaguar’s Fang, we have a team of characters, all of which are likeable and with little to no conflict. In addition, there’s virtually no villain in the story that we see or can identity until the very end, so we are left with these characters that are only facing superficial conflict with each other until the final act.

    And following your gut is stupid, because your gut has shit for brains. Take risks and learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

    • sheebshag

      The thief is a protagonist here too? Carson thinks the protagonist thief is too nice (gives to the poor! which incidentally has a lot in common with another famous protagonist). But just yesterday, he was advocating nicer protagonists with more acts of kindness!

      Follow your gut becomes the smart choice when you’ve watched enough movies and read enough screenplays and have enough innate storytelling ability. By that point you should know instinctively what works and what doesn’t in the given context. If it feels right, it probably is. There’s so much contradictory advice floating around in screenwriting manuals and whatnot. “Make your character nicer so he’s more likable” “Make your character less squeaky clean so he’s more relatable”. There’s a tip for everything and nothing. At some point, you just gotta turn inward and trust your instincts.

      That’s all.

  • Novak

    Alex, could you send me the link to the scripts too plz? My email is —

    Thx man.!

  • Murphy

    Thanks Carson!

    Merry Christmas,


    • Matthew Garry

      A small heads up. The larger .zip file does _not_ contain all the listed separate files. Missing are:
      -Ink and Bone
      -Ipoy Master
      -(some double entries)

      • HelTek

        Thank you.

  • jaehkim

    thanks for the BL scripts carson! merry christmas!

  • m_v_s

    Merry Christmas Carson & fellow readers and thank you for the Xmas present. ;) Absolute class. Thank you :)

  • HelTek

    Thanks for the scripts in the NEWSLETTER!

    If and when I win a best screenplay Oscar my “thank yous” will be: involved filmmakers, representation, family, and then definitely Carson Reeves and ;)

  • tobban

    Thanks for the Christmas gift Carson !!! Some 75+ scripts !!! Lots to read over the holidays!
    On a geek note;
    Download the zip file first, that’s 75+ scripts in a few seconds, then download separately – and drag and drop to that created folder – these three scripts: Ink and Bone, Fixer & Ipoy master.
    You then have all scripts in the “Blacklist2013″ folder.

  • sheebshag

    “I guess it is just amazing that someone who had so much phenomenal success at such a young age, AND was working for such high profile Directors as Chris Columbus and JJ Abrahams would still fall so far. It didn’t seem to help him feel good about himself. That is a bit alarming and upsetting.

    That’s depression for ya. Real depression. Not the “I’m feeling a little depressed today” kind. Or your average winter depression. If you have a clinical depression, it doesn’t matter how much success you have. The “surroundings” don’t matter. The problem is inside you, as an integral part of you. It’s not like a flu. It’s not something you “get over”. It’s you. How do you get over yourself? Well…

    • Midnight Luck

      yes, trust me I do know all about it.

      I would never say he should have just “gotten over it”.

      My meaning was just how incredibly sad it is, that even having such immense success, it did little to help him. In my head there would be nothing greater than the success he found. And it was success based on stories (originally) about his own struggles. It would be nice if there was some feeling of hope and happiness that his own story WAS important. But in the end, his intense depression and lack of self love was too much I guess.

      He was married and had a child also, which is another thing many people associate with happiness and success (i am not one of them, I don’t think they’ve much to do with each other) yet wasn’t helpful for him either. I feel sad for him and I feel bad for his family as well.

      It’s quite upsetting all around. Makes you really think. At least makes me think.

      They have done many studies that prove, there is no correlation between success and happiness, and especially wealth and happiness, it just doesn’t exist. Someone really poor can have a bit of happiness from having all their needs met, but if they aren’t a happy person to begin with they fall back to whatever level they were at before they gained wealth (or status, fame, whathaveyou).

      Depression sucks.
      RIP Ned Vizzini.
      Between him and Paul Walker, sad times.

  • NajlaAnn

    THANK YOU for the darling Charlie Brown Christmas e-card! Merry Christmas!

  • Jim Jones Juice

    An 8/10 by a paid reader over at BL… and a top 25 in btracking… OK… so this tells me if I want someone to make me feel good, to give me some warm coverage, I’ll head over to BL, pay there pricey fees and get a good score. This script is well written-though the exposition is a tad dense-but it’s a never-to-be-made cliche. It’s not original in anyway whatsoever. Even the character names are enough to get the eyes rolling. It’s crazy for people to compare their scripts to the unique tales they try to emulate. He might have well as said it’s a story set in space… for all the commonality it has with Raiders…

    Ah well, at least now he knows who to pay if he wants the bill to be justified (that would be BL.) But of course the script is weak and has NO business getting an 8/10 in the business of Hollywood.

  • fragglewriter

    I agree with the main character needing personality (edge). I think people the fear of giving too much might turn a reader off.

  • James Inez

    I must admit, this one started off a little rough for me. But it consistently got better and better as the read went on. So much so, that by the end, I didn’t really care about the problems it had and wanted to read the sequel, (do you have it?)(can I read it?). Socrates, Diary, another adventure with this cast of characters, yes please, I really enjoyed the characters and thought they were all completely different from one another. They also felt real to me.
    The only thing I would have liked to see would be tighter writing. It’s a little passive. Also, the dialogue is a little on the nose at times.
    Really enjoyed it, though. Thanks for sharing!

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