amateur offerings weekend


James Bond has a secret.  Transformers spin-offs are coming.  The Scriptshadow 250 deadline is four months away.  Add that all up and divide it by two and you get… Amateur Offerings!

Genre: Sci-fi Thriller
Logline: When a group of dysfunctional teenagers are thrust through a gateway into a dangerous alien world, they must race to escape before the gateway closes forever.
Why You SHOULD Read: So this is screenplay number 12 for me. Needless to say, I’m really hoping this is the one. It’s the product of just over a years work. I’ve stressed and struggled to deliver an adventure that not only makes the audience clinch at their armrests, but allows them to watch relationships develop against the theme of perseverance. Thanks and good luck to the other writers.

Title: The Runner
Genre: Action / Adventure
Logline: Back-stabbed by his employer and marooned in Mexico, a tough, drug-running pilot struggles to fly himself and the family that rescued him back to America alive.
Why you should read: Growing up on the border, there are lots of crazy stories you hear about trafficking (mostly from your friends that are doing it). With this story I wanted to take a lot of that raw material and structure it with an action adventure spin and a solid protagonist while still having some of the authenticity of experience. It was a trickier line to walk than I imagined, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the script so far so something must be working. I’m excited to see what the SS readership thinks (and if they think I pulled off the balancing act) and I’m pumped to use any and all feedback to keep improving the writing!

Title: The Demon Within
Genre: Horror / Psychological Thriller
Logline: After witnessing the brutal massacre of her family and undertaking years of institutionalized psychiatric treatment, Karen Reed returns to her secluded childhood home where she discovers her parents may be involved in a devilish secret.
Why You Should Read: I’m a self-taught writer that enjoys old fashioned horror movies. I was a horror geek as a kid back in the 80’s. I used to visit the old VHS video stores, staring at the beautiful covers on display but never having enough money to pay for them, or being old enough to rent them for a night or two. When my dad would allow me to see them, he’d pay the rental fee and that movie with the awesome movie cover was mine. — The Demon Within is a throwback in someways to those moments and a homage to the 70’s ABC movie of the week. It’s House Of The Devil meets Amityville. It’s Crowhaven Farm catching up with Burnt Offerings and then inviting Rob Zombie over for a glass of wine. Get to the ending. You’ll see.

Title: Mad Muses
Genre: Sci-fi
Logline: A group of troublesome psychiatric patients band together to destroy their sadistic android nurses.
Why You Should Read: I’m in desperate need of honest criticism. I’m surrounded by non-readers or family/friends who are completely love-biased and only provide encouragement and compliments which is wonderful for my ego but doesn’t aide in my progression as a writer. Mad Muses is a lighthearted and witty depiction of mental illness, the focus is placed on character relationships and action so that even non sci-fi fans will be able to enjoy this story.

Title: Roomies
Genre: Comedy
Logline: When a sister he never knew existed claims equal rights to their deceased father’s house and promptly moves in, straight-laced Jake is determined to do whatever it takes to get his childhood home back, while the presence of his out of control sister puts pressure on his marriage and threatens his dream of the perfect family.
Why You Should Read: I’m gonna keep it short. This is what I believe to be a fun and simple story in the same comedy sub-genre as “What about Bob?”. — I was fortunate enough to have it read by a story analyst at Universal (mentorship through school) and, along with some great notes for improvement, he wrote: “What’s most impressive is that you’re genuinely funny – you’ve got that essential thing: the comedy gene.” — That’s only one man’s opinion, so make of it what you will, but this section is for me to convince you to read it, so I’ll use what I have. — I’m a frequent reader of the site and have the utmost respect for you and your knowledgeable community, and I would be honored if you would read it and help me improve this screenplay, as well as my overall writing.

  • Levres de Sang

    Love the sound of THE DEMON WITHIN. A possible contradiction within its logline: “massacre of her family … discovers her parents may be involved…” But hopefully that’s all part of some devilish twist!

    ** Carson: Pease clarify the SS 250 Closing Date as you keep telling us that we’ve got three months, but the CONTEST GUIDELINES clearly state:

    “The deadline is 11:59 pm Pacific Time, August 1st, 2015.”

    I’m really hoping that’s right and we do therefore have FOUR months! :)

    • carsonreeves1

      Man, what’s wrong with me? Why did I think it was 3 months? I must be going insane. You’re right. It’s 2 months.

      • carsonreeves1

        Just kidding. You’re right. It’s 4 months. I need to change that.

        • Levres de Sang

          Phew… Thanks Carson!

          • carsonreeves1

            And I knew you’d love The Demon Within. A big reason I put it in here is because I knew you’d like it (well, the idea at least. I haven’t read the script yet).

          • Levres de Sang

            I’m honoured!! And pretty sure Poe will go for it, too…!

          • Poe_Serling

            Speaking of Demons and such, I just recently stumbled upon a pic that I think is right down your cinematic alley.

            Demons of the Mind

            It has all the trappings of an obscure gem… An isolated European setting. Possible madness and murder in a family of nobility. A morally ambiguous doctor to find a cure… and so on.

            Though the acting and the story are just average in certain spots, the overall atmosphere and vivid imagery of the film easily make up for these other minor shortcomings.

            The project was a Hammer Film Productions from ’72, and from what I understand the pic was never really given much of a theatrical release in its day.

            If you haven’t already seen the film, it might worth checking out sometime in the near future.

          • Levres de Sang

            Thanks for your Demons of the Mind recommendation. I’ve seen a fair few Hammer flicks, but this one doesn’t ring a bell (although having just looked in Halliwell I can see that it had no less than three aka titles…!) Hammer certainly excelled at establishing atmospheric situations, but I often felt their material fell away in the second act. It’s been a while, though, so it would be good to reevaluate them.

            ** I’d been looking forward to your take on The Demon Within, but I understand just how time consuming these AOW reviews can be!

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, I used this past weekend to ‘X’ off these movies from my to-watch list:

            >>Annabelle – A few genuine scares here and there… the apartment building in the film kept giving me a Rosemary’s Baby vibe… the ending was disappointing for me. My chills and thrills rating: 2 out of 5.

            >>Hatchet III – I watched the first two, so I figured I should complete the trilogy. Extremely gory and silly… it doesn’t surprise me at all that the film series has a fan base and keeps churning out sequels.

            >>The Monolith Monsters – A really good film from Universal’s B-movie factory in the ’50s. Instead of atomic radiation dangers and invading aliens, you get an intriguing premise revolving around a natural menace brought to Earth by a meteorite.

            and on the non-horror front:

            >>Birdman – Definitely can see why it won all those awards, especially for the cinematography. Still thinking about whether I liked or not… perhaps that’s just one of the underlying goals by the filmmakers when crafting this kind of film experience.

          • Levres de Sang

            That’s a terrific effort! I’ve become testament to how easy it can be to forget that the essence of screenwriting is to watch countless films.

            Monolith Monsters is the only one of these I’ve seen! And very fond memories I have of coming across it on TV one morning during a school holiday too many years ago…

            All I saw this weekend was Ring 0 — the prequel to Ringu. There’s one incredibly spooky moment, but otherwise I felt it dragged somewhat. It didn’t altogether add up either and failed to account for the existence of the creepy video in the first film.

          • HRV

            Who wouldn’t want to read a horror script by someone with the last name Hatewood.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      You should give it a read ;) It’s a fast one and very entertaining.

  • S.C.

    First 10 pages of ROOMIES:

    Character #1: Morning.
    Character #2: How are you?
    Character #3: I’m OK. How are you?
    Character #4: You know how I am. Don’t you remember what you did?

    And so on. No laughs. Something about a blowjob. Didn’t get it.

    A clean, quick read but could be about anything. You’ve gotta grab me, dude. By the balls!

  • S.C.

    First 10 pages of MAD MUSES:

    Page 1, pretty sickening. Don’t know who to feel about that – the title suggests comedy, but you just started with stomach churning.

    Lots of ellipsis, capitalizing, not too distracting and an easy read. Maybe a little underwritten at times, like a play, all dialogue (except for the aforementioned page 1!). Some missing commas.

    Don’t really know the hook of the story by page 10. Obviously there’s a disconnect between the first scene and what follows, and that creates a mystery. But when the following 9 pages are nothing like the first, I get worried. I’m going to stop reading there.

    Writer has imagination but needs tighter storytelling.

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    I opened THE DEMON WITHIN first because the logline sounded too close to my own DEMON script for comfort (I’m seeing so many movies that are similar to my own story that I’m starting to think the universe is telling me to just drop it) but after having read it to the end, I’m relieved to find that they’re nothing alike. Anyway, I really liked what I read, Michael, you seem to have a firm grasp of your horror influences while still writing something personal. Same but different and I’m more and more okay with that on a personal level. The writing was sparse, the paragraphs were so short that they’re mostly just a line long and the overall atmosphere and character dynamic worked just fine for me. Sorry to not be a little more constructive with my feedback but I mostly react with my emotions and less so with an analytical eye :)

    • Paul Clarke

      I think you might have felt the logline sounded like yours because it’s very generic and open. It sounds like a vague version of so many horror movies, and lacks anything specific to differentiate it from the pack (doesn’t mean it’s a bad script).

      Just means the details are open so you will fill them in with the details in your head and think it sounds like yours. Kinds of like the way astrology readings are purposefully vague so that we fill in the details ourselves and convince us that it’s correct.

      I would prefer if something specific and ironic was included. Too vague in the mystery. Don’t tell us there is a mystery if you’re not willing to tell us what it is. If it’s a late story twist then it doesn’t belong in your logline anyway.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        My own logline isn’t vague and generic, it’s specific. And I should’ve made it clear that it was the content that sounded familiar, not the logline in itself – sorry, my bad. (Demon within, childhood home, family secrets…)

        • Paul Clarke

          Indeed, I didn’t mean your logline. I don’t know what that is (unless you want to tease us?).

          But the demon one was – brutal family massacre… psychiatric institute… creepy childhood home… parents with a secret…

          Seen it all before. I know it’s a homage to those older films, but it still needs to stand out from the pack.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            No teasing :)
            I’m not looking for feedback on this particular logline (for DEMON). My producer intensely disliked my first draft – not because it’s bad but because it’s got nothing to do with what he had in mind – so either there will be a page one rewrite with specific story changes, meaning a somewhat different logline than the one I have, or there won’t be a rewrite at all :/

            I always like receiving feedback and my next script will be written in English so I’ll hopefully be able to bribe some of the nice folks here on SS for a read :) But right now, I’m in a place where I don’t need any form of negative feedback… It’ll pass, it always does. Comes with the writing territory.

            Anyway, I agree with you about generic loglines :) Sorry if I came off as stand-offish, I wrote my previous comment in a hurry. It’s difficult to be specific without spoiling your story, though – it takes a lot of time and several tries before getting it just right.

          • Levres de Sang

            “My producer intensely disliked my first draft – not because it’s bad but because it’s got nothing to do with what he had in mind…”

            I’m really sorry to hear that Marija, but I suspect you’ve summed up one of the enduring dilemmas in this business. Namely, that it’s rare for the expectations of others to correlate with our own creativity — especially when there’s money involved.

            Wishing you well with the next draft whatever you decide…! :/

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Thank you :) Unfortunately, that’s not my decision. I’d like to rewrite it according to their specific wishes, so I hope that the producer trusts me enough. If there’s something to learn from my misadventure, it’s to ALWAYS keep the communication wide open and never hesitate to ask twice or even thrice so everything is crystal clear in our writer’s mind.

            As for the dilemma you mention, yes, indeed. It is so frustrating to have to write according to what sells and not be able to go our own creative ways. As an example, what French genre producers want right now is to emulate Jason Blum’s success. I can understand that from a producer point of view but I also believe that that’s not how it works. “I want his success so I’ll just produce the same kind of movies.” This means that instead of making DEMON a singular movie standing out from the rest, they want a basic, straightforward and gory film. Um, ok. But quite the opposite of what I had in mind :) I do have a few ideas for a variation on the story that will make it less personal for me (always a problem when writing for someone else) while sticking with the same premise. But for now, I can only wait until the director reads the draft and my producer decides to get back to me…

          • Midnight Luck

            Wow, you always seem to have a lot of work going on with people.
            That is really amazing. Congrats.
            I would love to know what films of yours have been made, and what scripts you have written.
            Sounds like you are very horror focused.
            I love hearing your stories about your path and where it is taking you.

            I am one SS’r who’s in your corner, and wishing you the best.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Thank you, Midnight, much appreciated ;)

            Well, I do have a lot going on now but it’s very recent, actually. I co-wrote a script with a director which became a DTV (CLIMAX, by Frédéric Grousset, released in 2010 – it’s a suspense movie inspired by German krimis and ’70s Italian/British crime TV series).

            As for CREVASSE, we’re still in pre-production, looking for a director. We do have a name now that we’ll be able to attach to the script before sending it to Canal+. Then we cross our fingers.

            And as for DEMON, I’m sincerely hoping for a rewrite – I know that I can do it. I’m still in my writer funk place, held at bay by a new story that I’m developing. It’s good to have at least one more project than the one we’re primarily working on even if it’s just note-taking. Anything to get away from the frustration and the crippling doubts :/

            I like movies in general and my preferred genres are horror and Noir. Since I started writing scripts seven years ago, I’ve written four on my own and two with directors. I’m still learning, though (taking a few online classes right now with Scott Myers from GITS), and it’s only now, seven years later, that I’m starting to instinctively apply this or that to my writing – things that are necessary to make the script work. It takes time but we all get there one day. My mantra: Patience, Passion, Perseverance. The three P’s :)

      • brenkilco

        I hate loglines and know it’s tough to get much from them. But they are the first thing anybody reads. And The Demon put me off, maybe unfairly, because the writer uses a wrong word, which right away makes you wonder how he’s going to put together the rest of his words. You don’t undertake psychiatric confinement if you’re the patient. It’s not a project. You undergo it. It’s a difficult experience and perhaps an ordeal.

        And there may be a second problem. The protag witnesses the death of her family but years later returns to her parents. How does that work? Or, more likely, is it another grammatical error? Did the writer mean to say may have been instead of may be? I’m already worried.

    • BellBlaq

      (I’m seeing so many movies that are similar to my own story that I’m starting to think the universe is telling me to just drop it)

      Naw, the universe is telling you to DIG DEEPER and keep TWEAKING!

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        Yes, that was the conclusion I came to as well ;) It’s just starting to get a little weird to see/read so many variations on the same subject. Thing is, I did dig deeper in order to make it different but that’s exactly what the producer doesn’t want. So, back to square one…

      • carsonreeves1

        I originally read this and “dig deeper and start twerking.”

        • BellBlaq

          Whatever gets the creative juices flowing, man.

    • MickeyHatewood

      Thank you!

  • S.C.

    First 10 pages of THE DEMON WITHIN:

    Something’s wrong with the formatting; is the left margin too big?

    First page hitting us with a lot of images. Then… not much. 9 pages of getting to know you, getting know all about you.

    What’s a happy feel good song? “Firework” by Katy Perry? “Shaddap You Face” by Joe Dolce? Later, there’s “an ancient ‘90s style radio plays an old ‘70s number.” Forget copyright, tell us. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by BOC?

    Not hooked on the story. Could be going anywhere.

  • S.C.

    First 10 pages of THE DRUG RUNNER:

    I must admit, I’m not sure how sympathetic I’m going to be to a drug smuggler. So far, you’ve not convinced me to change my mind. Guy talk is probably character appropriate but doesn’t endear them to me.

    Well-written, easy read. Not sure how authentic it is – isn’t this a DEA matter rather than FBI? Shouldn’t there be a task force, rather than just the FBI?

    Story’s up and running by page 10 but I’m not sure I want to be along for the ride. That’s just me, I just don’t think I can really get behind these characters. I’ll stop reading at page 10, but best of luck to the writer; he has talent.

  • S.C.

    First 10 pages of FIELDS:

    Writer makes the same mistake as many writers this weekend and other weekends: shocking opening followed by 8 pages of… I’m sorry, I’ll be honest TEDIUM.

    JAWS SCENE 1: Woman killed by shark.
    JAWS SCENE 2: Hero wakes up, gets call about missing girl.
    JAWS SCENE 3: Hero finds woman’s arm on beach.

    That’s how you do it. We find out all we need to know about Brodie (at this point, some information is held back) in scene 2, but we’re not too far from the main story (the shark).

    Well-written, quick read. “GET OUT of my field” – avoid capitalizing in dialogue.

    Read 10 pages, quickly, could read more but don’t really want to. Not intrigued enough.

    • bl2d

      I get what you’re saying. It’s probably a bad idea to just slam on the brakes after two pages of action. Hey thanks for the read.

      • S.C.

        No problem. Don’t take any of it personally, we’re all just trying to help decide which script should get an Amateur Friday review. It gets messy!

        • bl2d

          Hey as long at it makes the script better. Thanks

    • gazrow

      “avoid capitalizing in dialogue.”


      • S.C.

        Because you don’t. Underline it. Even then, no need to underline the first two words. It’s either a mistake or writer meant to use a parenthetical stage direction like (angry). Even then, no need to tell us he’s angry; we know.

        So, to sum up: “GET OUT of my field.” should be “Get out of my field!”

      • Nicholas J


        • S.C.

          Sorry, you really think it’s great to capitalize words in dialogue? Or do you just want to be opposite for the sake of it?

          • Nicholas J

            There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just a choice of style.

          • Matthew Garry

            Well, one of them is a proper use of punctuation, the other is a bad habit picked up on the Internet (plus here it’s directing on the page). It’s all about the impression you want to make.

          • Nicholas J

            Or it’s just a choice of style used to emphasize something. Not sure why GET OUT would be emphasized here and not the rest of the sentence, but to put a hard blanket statement on it like “avoid all caps in dialogue” is a bit much.

            In the end, to me, it doesn’t matter at all. Diff’rent strokes.

          • S.C.

            Just looking through the old script for THE CONVERSATION, which I don’t know if you remember, but that script is all about emphasis in dialogue. Well that script DOES use capitals for emphasis, so I guess that would be an example!

            But that script was written on a typewriter; with a computerized script written today, I’d use underlining.

            I prefer hard and fast statements like “put a period after the page number in the top right-hand corner of the page” (see MAD MUSES script) to wishy-washy weasel words like “you might want to put a period after the page number, but – hey! – it’s up to you, it’s all great in the best of all possible worlds!”

            At some point we DO have to point out standard practices. No need to call me “random guy”. I do have an idea of what I’m talking about!

          • Eric

            “But that script was written on a typewriter; with a computerized script written today, I’d use underlining.”

            Funny, that’s why I use italics for accented words. Which is what everyone does anyway…

            “you might want to put a period after the page number…”

            The only place I’ve ever seen anyone underline in that situation is in screenplays, and it’s frankly annoying. I understand why it was a thing, but it’s a thing I prefer to avoid.

          • S.C.

            The broad consensus is that italics can be hard to spot, hence the proclivity (is that the right word?) of underlining.

            I prefer italics, it’s how novelists do it, but I think underlining looks more professional in a script than italics, capitals or bold type.

            (On here I mix it up, sometimes underlined, sometimes italicized, and occasionally bold, but capitals is easier ’cause I don’t have to do the whole >/ thing.).

          • Matthew Garry

            In hard copy italics degenerate quickly when repeatedly xeroxed, making them increasingly hard to distinguish from the normal font.

            It’s not much of a concern today with digital copies, but it’s nice to have a sense of history about it.

            On top of that, underlining also looks unpleasant, making you think twice about whether you really need those words to have emphasis (you don’t).

          • S.C.

            He’d kill us if he had the chance.
            He’d kill us if he had the chance.

            I think italics look better, but… I don’t know, I’ll see how I feel when I write my next script!

            (Definitely agree that MOST of the time you don’t need to direct the actors – the above is a memorable exception – so I would recommend writing it all in the first draft then taking it all out in the rewrite when it is absolutely necessary.).

          • S.C.

            Replying to my own comment, but… that settles it. Now that I see it, that us is harder to spot than that kill. I’m underlining, you can all do what you like!

          • Citizen M

            In the old typewriter days you couldn’t do italics unless you had an IBM golfball which you could swap fonts in and out with. Underlining was used in typing where a typesetter would use italics.

          • S.C.

            Trivia question #1: What was the first novel written on a “word processor”?

            Trivia question #2: What was the first movie to have its screenplay on computer? (Hint: it was a film about computers.).

          • Eric

            I think novels are where I get it from the most. Stephen King in particular always made broad use of italics when his character’s s**t hit the fan. To me italicized font just looks stressed, and that’s what I like about it. In novels no one underlines except if it’s the title of the book, and that’s feels right to me as well.

            I understand how a limited page length can affect a screenwriter’s style, but in the modern age I don’t see as much reason to capitulate on these types of font issues.

            As far as directing the actors. I’ve always liked and tended to write dialogue where the characters repeat each other’s words, but with different words stressed to change the meaning. For example…

            ADAM: I’m here to see Mr. Kanani.

            GUARD: President Kanani is very busy.

            It’s just not the same sentence without a stress on “president”.

          • S.C.

            Just out of interest, this one uses a LOT of underlining (too much, really). BUT, the most famous line is on page 39 and is NOT underlined:


          • S.C.

            Maybe… I think you can have all caps, like, once in a script.


            I was trying to think of a scene where a guy suddenly raises his voice mid-dialogue, and I remembered this scene from HEAT.

            This is a copy-and-paste from the script:


            Don’t you even get angry?

            (to Justine)
            I’m angry.
            (to Ralph)
            Ralph, you can ball my wife. You can lounge around her $1.7 million condominium on her sofa. You can do all those things. But you do not get to watch my fucking TV…!

            Hanna lifts it off the table, spilling framed pictures. A commercial segues to a quiz show.


            This would be the same dialogue with capitalization.


            (to Justine)
            I’m angry.
            (to Ralph)
            Ralph, you can ball my wife. You can lounge around her $1.7 million condominium on her sofa. You can do all those things. BUT YOU DO NOT GET TO WATCH MY FUCKING TV!


            This would be the same dialogue with underlining.


            (to Justine)
            I’m angry.
            (to Ralph)
            Ralph, you can ball my wife. You can lounge around her $1.7 million condominium on her sofa. You can do all those things. But you do not get to watch my fucking TV…!


            Finally, this would be the same dialogue with parenthetical direction.


            (to Justine)
            I’m angry.
            (to Ralph)
            Ralph, you can ball my wife. You can lounge around her $1.7 million condominium on her sofa. You can do all those things.
            But you do not get to watch my fucking TV…!


            In the end, Michael Mann doesn’t use anything, trusting his actor (an Academy Award winner) will know what lines to shout or not. You’re right, Nicholas, it is a stylistic choice, and I suppose if you are consistent in that choice, then it’s up to you to decide. The example I gave from FIELDS (which happens on page 2) is wrong because it’s not as if the farmer is shouting the first two words, or even that they need emphasis at all.

            I know there’s a whole “everyone’s different, la, la, la. There are no rules, la, la, la” thing going on right now, but I think telling someone to underline rather than capitalize is not something I’ve dragged out of thin air, it’s pretty standard practice. Underline for emphasis, or not at all. My view, but commonly held by many.

          • Nicholas J

            As amateur writers, we don’t have Al Pacino to trust. We have our words on the page and that’s it. We have to sell our story to the reader without the use of sound and music and steadicam. If you think something needs emphasizing, then go ahead and emphasize it. If you think it’ll help the reader visualize the story, then go for it. (Within reason of course.) As long as you’re not directing every single camera angle and utterance of dialogue, it’s fine.

            But I’m also a random guy saying so.

          • S.C.

            I always imagine that Pacino or some other great actor is going to read my dialogue! Yeah, I was just using that as an example, and isn’t interesting that Mann doesn’t choose to specify how he wants that dialogue delivered? I think it is.

            There’s been a lot of to-and-fro about this, with some people saying you shouldn’t use parentheticals or emphasis to give actors line-readings, other people saying you can do what you want (same as with camera directions). It’s a big issue and I’m glad we have a place like this to thrash it out.

            Shall we shake hands and just agree that you be consistent in your style choices and leave it at that?

          • Nicholas J

            Well mostly I’m disagreeing that it’s a big issue at all. To me either way is fine. So what, you underline some dialogue, and your actor crosses it out. Big deal. At worst, a reader passes on your script because they disagree with your style. But if that’s the case, that reader is bad at their job because that’s not what they should be looking for in a script in the first place, and they probably wouldn’t be able to do anything for your script anyway.

            I think if less time was spent talking about things like this, and more time was spent on what actually makes a good story, we’d have a lot better scripts out there. But yet here I am talking about it. So yes, shake hands and move on. :)

          • IgorWasTaken

            I do all-caps in dialogue for YELLING..

      • davejc

        The rule is dialogue should be underlined, and capitalizing is reserved for sounds in direction.

        However nobody, and I mean NOBODY follows the rules for proper formatting (outside of Warner Bros. Formatting Dept.). So there really isn’t much point in making it an issue.

  • S.C.

    Read the first 10 pages of all five scripts.

    Don’t know about others, but based on the first 10 pages, I would say we don’t have a winner this week.

    One recurring problem: slam-bang opening followed by pages and pages of just ordinary life. I don’t think that’s how it’s done. Slam-bang opening followed by dragging the character into the story. Reference the opening scene by page 10.

    Lots of examples. Here’s one of my favorite movies, SNEAKERS:

    SCENE 1: 1969: Martin Brice and his friend Cosmo are caught hacking computers; Martin escapes, but Cosmo is arrested.
    SCENE 2: Martin Brice – now Martin BISHOP – and his crew break into a bank.
    SCENE 3: Martin returns to the bank and withdraws $100,000 in cash – but he’s just testing the bank’s security and he returns the money to them.
    SCENE 4: Back at the office, Martin is met by two men from the NSA who want him to do a job for them – and they know his real identity.

    A mystery opening, followed by a memorable introduction to all the main characters, and then the whole opening is tied back into the main story (Martin doing a job to clear his name).

    Obviously, not every opening is going to be as great as that, but why not?

    On a positive note, all five scripts were quick and breezy reads, with minimal distractions. Don’t be afraid to mention the names of songs, don’t capitalize words in dialogue (underline, but only when necessary). But it’s the inability of the readers to hook me in, the sense that they feel the reader is just going to read on regardless. For some readers, based on the logline, that may be the case. But none of these scripts worked for me today.


  • GoIrish

    Roomies – I read up to p. 13. I like the premise. You’ve got conflict built right in. Two of the main jokes in the first 13 pages dealt with old people sex and bodily fluids. Carson has brought this up previously (and I agree), but it may be better if your first couple of jokes were more organic, connected to the theme of your script somehow. You can sprinkle in sex jokes/bodily fluid jokes later on.
    I might read on to see if things pick up once everyone is under the same roof, but I don’t feel compelled to, which is obviously what you ‘re shooting for.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Started with this one because the logline intrigued me the most.

    Read to page 30 and would like to read more. Found this so far a breezy read with a character who is immediately drawn as endearing to both a male teen audience who likes kick-ass and a female teen audience who relishes in “misunderstood”. I really liked her.

    The first page is a bit confusing. I’d slow down just a bit and differentiate the figure from the man. Liked the “weather” on page 2. Wish more writers gave us weather. (this from a weather geek). Watch your comma use. Lack of them gets distracting.
    An anorexic playing basketball. What’s not to love? Her “inner voice” so far doesn’t have a a voice. In other words, I’m not feeling a distinct sense of humor or a unique view on things or obsession. Maybe it’s too early. But that voice, I think, really has to pop.

    Overall, so far, I’d suggest perhaps lowering her age? By page 30, get to the logline sooner by perhaps expanding Apple’s introduction and a plot to unblock the internet restrictions instead of just mentioning she can do it?
    A love interest, perhaps? So far no mention of boys by page 30 or a big hint of a girl who might have a crush on her.
    I think these mystery boxes would go a long way by page 30 to solidify one’s interest to keep going.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Decided to change my name to Tough Critic.
    Nickname — Hatchet Man.
    Or maybe — Machete.


    • Malibo Jackk

      Two brief notes:
      You use a ‘static comet’ to foreshadow something ominous to come.
      But if the reader doesn’t know the historical significance of a static comet — it won’t have the impact that you want.

      On pg. 2, you SHREEKKKK! And then tell us that you shreek.
      Would work better if you reverse the order,

      • bl2d

        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve switched those two around. Thanks though.

        • Randy Williams

          Hasn’t this script been on AOW before?

          • bl2d

            No, there was a dialogue article that used a scene from it though.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Brief, brief notes:
        Pg. 1 Kitchen scene — Every screenwriter should be familiar with A. Hitchcock’s parable about the woman washing dishes at the sink.

        Pg. 4 we’re told that two men are up on ladders putting up the wrong sign.
        And we get this:
        Don’t. Get down.
        (That’s all you need. We know what he said. But then you add–)
        Jake gestures for them to get down from the ladder.
        (It’s redundant and amateurish.)

        • S.C.

          I call those downbeat films sink to sink pictures. The wife’s home washing dishes, her mate says “get a sitter and we’ll see a movie.” She’s elated, gets dressed up and they go. What does she see? A woman at the sink, washing dishes. – Sir Alfred Hitchcock

          Never actually read that before today. Love it.

        • Linkthis83

          Out of curiosity, why should we be familiar with it?
          (I looked it up)

          • Malibo Jackk

            I always give a note to make people think.
            Then I give them a specific note.
            Some people don’t pass the first test.

            (Short on time now. But will return to edit.)

          • Linkthis83

            I didn’t pass. I didn’t find this note applicable to that scene nor to a woman at the sink today. (since this observation by Hitchcock would only be relevant to the time period in which he was storytelling – unless you’re still suggesting a woman’s place is at the kitchen sink ;)

          • Malibo Jackk

            Was going to give a longer explanation, but I’ll scrap that.
            (Was also thinking of comparing the opening scene vs BEETLEJUICE. Maybe suggest a way to improve it.)

            Hitchcock’s point is simple — don’t bore the audience.

            The kitchen scene seems to be a WHOLE SCENE devoted to chinaware — and how they feel about it..
            The scene has no meat.
            A pro would give us a scene with meat — and use what took a whole scene as merely a ONE LINE ASIDE:

            “Don’t use that cup, it’s dad’s.”

        • Malibo Jackk

          THE RUNNER
          Have to say I’m a big fan of the sign in the second paragraph of page one.–
          “U.S.A. Border.
          Illegal immigration and smuggling are a federal offenses.”

          (Another example of our failed school system.)

          • Malibo Jackk

            My vote goes to MAD MUSES.
            Only read 10+ pages — but found it interesting.
            Maybe because it was something different.
            And —
            Maybe because I’ve seen movies like THE RUNNER before.
            Maybe because THE DEMON WITHIN begins like standard fare.
            Maybe because THE FIELDS could be handled better by Max Landis.
            And maybe because ROOMIES begins with a train set and moves to the kitchen — and I don’t know why.

  • Fish Tank Festival

    Started reading through these and so far favor:


    Blew through 33 pages so far, mistakes aside. Love the writing and characters and atmosphere. Gives me a GIRL, INTERRUPTED meets FISH TANK meets ONE WHO FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST vibe. In fact, Katie Jarvis from the middle film is who I pictured the entire read.

    Agree with poster Randy that commas can be your friend every now and again. But the story is so damn intriguing to me and the writer’s voice, I could easily see this as a film.

    Good luck to you!

    • Randy Williams

      These are great notes, hope the writer takes them to heart. After reading more, I felt like rescinding my vote for it but the other scripts didn’t remain with me as much as this one did primarily because the characters here really stood out.

      • Fish Tank Festival

        Curious as to why you wanted to rescind your vote? The story does feel like it drags in the 2nd Act, however and hopefully, with Carson’s often invaluable input it could possibly transform into an indy darling.

  • bl2d

    Hallelujah, writer of Fields here, this is exactly what I’ve been hoping for. Good luck to everybody,
    looks my weekend is set.

    • Linkthis83

      Congrats, man. Hope you get some killer feedback. Was this story a Sci-Fi/Thriller when the dialogue scene was featured?

      • bl2d

        Yeah it was, thanks.

  • Caivu

    First thoughts on all the loglines before I start reading:

    Could maybe use a bit more specificity (how is the alien world dangerous? How are the teens dysfunctional?) Stargate-esque (a good sign, if so)? Clear goal.

    The Runner
    The word “marooned” could technically work in this context, but I think most people associate that term with being stranded on an island; consider changing it to just ‘stranded’. It’s not clear to me why the pilot would need to be rescued; see if you can specify that succinctly (Was he tied up? Beaten and left for dead? Literally back-stabbed?).

    The Demon Within
    I don’t think you need a specific character’s name in the logline. Are the parents dead or not?

    Mad Muses
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Blade Runner? Intriguing, but I don’t know how this’ll work. It sounds like it should be at least partially a comedy. How futuristic is this?

    There seems like a bit too much going on here for a comedy, but that’s just me.
    Doesn’t seem like another sex comedy, which is a plus.

    Congrats to all the writers this week! Looking forward to reading 30 pages of each.

    • bl2d

      Hey thanks looking forward to hearing what you have to say. As for the Fields logline the alien world is a forest full natural danger like cliffs and rivers plus it’s inhabited by different species of predatory alien creatures.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making in on AOW!

    Another breezy read. Read to page 30. I’m partially inclined to read on. There’s just a bit more I’d need personally to do so.

    There’s a few glitches at the beginning that made me pause. The cellphone rings. Where is it that we can see it, in his hand, on a table? The other is Rebecca drops the bowl in the sink. “oops”. Does it break? Another…Jake takes a “gag” out of his patient’s mouth? Sounds like fifty shades of something.

    page 11- As a daily bike rider, I just detest bike thieves to the core of my soul. Gonna take some work to make Katrina sympathetic to me. I’d suggest working that differently. Maybe the bike’s been stripped by other thieves and she takes the leftovers. No seat, bent frame. Some visual comedy as she rides away.

    Once I’m with Katrina and Hank, the energy picks up considerably. In fact, on page 14 was the first time I LOL’d. The joke with the sock is priceless. I’d suggest cutting the dentist office scene, start with cutting back and forth between Jake and Rebecca and Rebecca and Hank and show the differences there. Hank, who so far appears to be a minor blimp in the character line-up really threatens to steal the show here.

    I like the vibe of all this, lots of crackle and spark, much more like a romantic comedy to me than straight comedy, however. I would like a mystery box to continue. A hint that Katrina has a secret, perhaps that might threaten this set up, or Jake has an ace up his sleeve to derail her.

    • cjob3

      I was confused by the bowl business too.

      “Jake leaves.

      Rebecca gets up with her bowl and walks over to the sink. She pretends to almost drop the bowl.

      (to herself)
      Ooh, be careful.

      She throws it between her hands. Once. Twice. On the third go she drops the bowl in the sink. Oops.”
      She “throws it between her hands?” I don’t understand what I’m meant to be seeing, Is she making fun of Jake behind his back? This is only page four so you wanna be clear.

  • jonsanhueza

    My vote goes to Mad Muses. Thought it was the more interesting first few pages of the bunch.

    A few of the others (Demon Within, Fields) had sort of generic openers that we’ve seen a million times before.

    Roomies was alright but too many moments of talking to the audience rather than just telling the story, so it pulled me out.

    The Runner was a close 2nd, had a very polished feel to it.

    Congrats to all the AOTW writers!

  • Eddie Panta


    I liked the WYSR here. A border town story is a great topic to explore. I’m hoping it has to as much about immigration as it does drug smuggling.

    I’ve read 10 pages and want to read more… Here are my thoughts on the first few for now.

    Different parts of the cessna plane don’t need different scene headings. Cargo Area and Cockpit are in the same scene.

    Detailing the names of switches on the control panel isn’t really necessary.

    The dialogue between the pilot RIch and his co-pilot James was fine, but this is a heavy amount of dialogue to try and accomplish inside a cockpit of a noisy cessna.
    The script does indicate that they communicate via headphones but their exchanges are too detailed, too chummy and quibby for a plane ride with a stacks of weed in the cargo bay.

    The opening is basically a ten page chase scene in the air. I’m not sure if you need the intro of the FBI agents in this scene. I think it’s stopping the action. I’d suggest coming in later in the scene, without the back and forth between Rich and James.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I liked the plane chase in the beginning. I thought it was thrilling. I’d milk the audience knowing about the potential of cabin pressure problems in the FBI chase plane, however.

    I read the first 12 and gnawing at me the whole time was the odd juxtaposition of an action adventure script and a young protagonist being a drug runner. How to reconcile the lightness of action adventure and the dialogue that matches this, the lack of explicit violence I would presume for that genre with the serious of this crime? How is the writer going to make that work?

  • ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to another bumper crop of hopeful candidates.
    Let’s see if we can make this three tight races in a row.
    None of the loglines grabbed my interest this week.
    Please pour some irony sauce or A-ha! juice on those execution dependent concepts.

    My VOTE goes to: THE RUNNER.

    Read to page 10.

    Philadelphia and countryside settings really don’t mix. At all.
    It’s not rolling hills, you keep your windows up in a lot of areas.
    Kinda like NYC, you gotta play the Good Block/Bad Block game.
    Since you’re from overseas, you may not be familiar with the city.

    I’m seeing a lot of Screenwriting 101 mistakes in the opening pages:
    No need for matching bowls and cups and called mouths full of cereal.
    Spelling and capitalization errors. Word duplication within sentences.
    Missing words in your dialogue. Small talk over coffee for an opener.

    All of these red flags in two pages, we’re likely dealing with a new writer.
    In order to be taken seriously, these missteps must be fixed.
    No one wants to wade through a MINEFIELD to get to your cool story.

    Jake’s lack of basic coping mechanisms aren’t funny, they’re a tad mean.
    Why not show a man that’s MOURNING in his own way. That’s more interesting.

    For instance… Have a patient bring up his father.
    Jake must be polite to his client, even though it’s hard to hear.
    Something like that creates EMPATHY for your protag. We connect with him.
    Any human being can RELATE to PERSONAL LOSS on some level.

    Didn’t really see many attempts at humor, just a few cracks.
    That’s not nearly enough to be considered a comedy.
    Honestly, this read more like a drama or maybe a dramedy.

    Once you clean up the page, you can focus on generating protag interest.
    Erronenous signs and snapping at secretaries are AFFECTATIONS.
    I call devices like that POST-IT NOTE writing. Tacking on gags/contrivances.

    We can learn so much more from a simple appointment with an old client.
    This blog is a great resource to tackle those Screenwriting 101 issues.
    I hope you stick around, this place has done wonders for my craft.

    Read to page 8.

    Your WYSR left me puzzled, it reads much more like a comedy than sci-fi.
    Misrepresenting your genre will lead to reader confusion fast.
    If this is a sci-fi comedy or dramedy, please be more accurate.
    Creating false expectations will land your script a hot date with the trash.

    Another opening page loaded with red flags that will put off readers.
    Spelling, formatting and character name snafus bog down the page.
    Sends the message to the reader that you don’t care enough to improve.

    With all due respect, no one here is required to read your script.
    It’s voluntary, so with that in mind, you want to make it an EASY READ.
    And the easiest way to do that is to learn basic proper formatting.
    Yup, it’s annoying at times. But the hard effort tells the reader: YOU CARE.
    This site is a great resource to learn the fundamental tenets of screenwriting.

    Consider renaming MAN and FIGURE. Why not Doctor and Patient?
    You can CONTEXTUALIZE your scene by simply choosing the right moniker.
    And learn how to spell CONTINUOUS, screenwriters tend to use that word a lot.

    Five pages of arguing over the sleeping pills is way too much.
    If Harvie (odd name for a woman) really wanted to off herself…
    She could’ve just left there and walked into traffic or another pharmacy.
    The only reason she illogically made a scene, was to institutionalize her.

    When readers can proverbially hear the plot churning like that, we tune out.
    It’s a sign of an early writer struggling to connect his story together.
    You could’ve just opened on Harvie in therapy, as written it’s mostly backstory.
    We learn nothing about Harvie other than she’s stubborn and illogical.
    Opening pages are precious real estate, treat them like gold. And we’ll eat them up.
    It’s your only chance to make an unbiased impression on readers. Good luck.

    Read to page 12.

    Staccato opener feels over-managed on the page.
    Consider letting your opening scene breathe instead of image slamming us.
    You make every single image seem uber important. Too much directing.
    Openers should tell the reader the most STORY CRITICAL elements.
    Introducing us to your protag or showing us a slice of an event.
    But all the called shots didn’t add up for me.

    Also, you introduce Karen twice on the same page, but with different ages.
    Makes me wonder, are we flashing forward EIGHT YEARS. Or is that a typo.
    Since you substitute “Darkness” for all your fade ins and outs…
    Now, I’m not sure if the age thing is you taking more format liberties.
    That’s the risk you run when you hyper-stylize your prose.

    Another niggle you want to nix: Change up your character descriptions.
    Every one of them hits hair color and/or eye descriptives.
    Why bother? I doubt that’s story critical to the tale you want to tell.
    So why BURDEN the reader with information they don’t need to know.
    Find INNOVATIVE ways to introduce us to your characters.
    Show them doing something they love or hate. Help readers LEARN about them.

    Here’s an unusual blunder I’ve seen a lot lately…
    Obfuscating events in your opener that your LOGLINE already gives away!
    Why are you playing footsie with the massacre, you already revealed it.

    Consider showing us some of the horror that poor Karen endured.
    It’s the easiest way to get a reader to EMPATHIZE with your protag.
    Readers don’t connect with vertical reads, we empathize with people.
    Vertical reads can FACILITATE good storytelling, but never replace it.

    Perhaps if Karen had a STRONG OPINION about not wanting to go home.
    Karen begs the Doctor to stay, but there’s no other options for her.
    Poor girl’s been through Hell and now must recuperate in a hostile place.
    See how that one plot shift generates buckets of EMPATHY for your protag?
    I hope the next draft focuses more on character and less on style.
    Take that love of horror movies and INNOVATE your story on top of that.

    Read to page 18.

    With those quotes around “are a federal offenses”…
    It almost begs the question: Was the misspelling was intentional.
    Though I suspect it’s more likely to be just a grammar bomb on page one.
    First impressions are gold. Make a good one with readers from the start.
    You’re more likely to get thorough notes with refined opening pages.

    Your chase scene loses steam when we cut to the feds.
    We don’t know a thing about them. All they are right now is a pursuit team.
    I’m not seeing the benefits of taking us away from the drug runners yet.
    The cocaine reveal would me more effective DURING the chase.
    Compounding calamities on your protag keeps readers turning pages.

    Overall, this is a pretty good read. But Montero puzzles me.
    Why sneak the coke at all if this is all coming down to the last run he has planned.
    Consider having Montero be STRAIGHT with your protag. Over some Tequila.
    They have a HEATED CHAT over the terms of their tenuous agreement.
    As those two butt heads, the readers LEARNS so much through that CONFLICT.
    Something like that edifies the reader while it entertains our socks off.

    I’d much rather meet Sandra here. She’s much more MEMORABLE. Why?
    Cuz she’s obviously being seen here on page 16 — DOING WHAT SHE LOVES.
    She’s a fed that digs shaking down perps to become CI’s. I like her here.
    Lose her on the plane. We learn nothing about her. Stay with Rich.
    I like the meeting with Montero going wrong.
    There’s enough on the page to warrant this as a potential AF winner.

    Read to page 12.

    Wow, a dozen screenplays. Good on you for loving the craft.
    I tried to Google “static comet”, I got nothing.
    Maybe there’s a better adjective to go with your comet.
    Does that mean it appears virtually stationary in the sky?

    A sister encouraging her brother to sexually experiment.
    So that’s how it is in their family. This is unintentionally sleazy.
    The casual nature of the conversation left me a little queasy.
    And she’s also a speed demon. Little sis is all over the place.

    You slam the reader with SEVEN character intros in two pages. That’s a lot.
    Bonnie and Rosie sound alike to me. Surprised they’re mom and daughter.
    I’m assuming you’re a fan of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
    Mister Neary’s first name wouldn’t happen to be Roy, would it? ;-)

    Confession. I’m a huge Amblin nerd. They’re a great inspiration from my younger days.
    However, your story must stand on their shoulders and INNOVATE.
    Offer up a new take on Spielbergian goodness, not serve up the same old meal.
    What is it about your love of these movies that can inspire a new tale?
    How did those popcorn films help you get through childhood?
    Find a way to pass on that wisdom within an innovative Amblin homage.

    Your affection for the material is near palpable. You’ve got talent too.
    But I’ve seen all these tropes many times, you need a new wrapper for them.
    Stand on the shoulders of your blockbuser ancestors and SOUND OFF with your voice!
    I struggle with translating my love to cinema into compelling pages.
    Good luck with rewrites, you’ve come to the right place for straight talk.

    • bl2d

      Yes it was intended to mean stationary, this seems to be catching a lot of people attention, something I’ve got to change. I don’t know about “experiment sexually” it was more in reference to just dating. However I did force the word experiment because later there’s a scene where he’s doing a chemistry experiment but I can see that the word has taken on that kind of connotation now a days.
      Mr. Neary oh yeah you caught me. Huge fan obviously ,and this really was sort of an homage to that. Small town, teens who get swept up but I think I may have followed the script a little too closely. I am glad that you caught it though:) Thanks for the notes I really appreciate it.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Thought the first pages were a bit too much staccato and confusing. Thought at first there were two “Karens” and then realized that we had jumped in time. Make that clearer? My preference would be to focus on the images. The screams were actually distracting coming from all directions.
    After that, I really settled into something really compelling. Carson recently talked about the effectiveness of an impending sense of doom. This script is ripe with it. It is probably what kept me reading as much as I did, besides a convincing portrayal of a married couple. Don’t get that much around here.
    Nice visual touches and their descriptions like Jill moving about like a chess set piece on a checkered floor.
    Still, only got to page 30. I’d like to read more based on the above praise but I yearn for some real horror, some clues at this point.

  • Nicholas J

    I read the first 30 pages of FIELDS because the WYSR was solid. Brief, straight to the point, and showed that the writer had experience so I’m more likely to read it.

    I liked what I read for the most part. I can tell the writer has written their fair share of scripts. The way the action lines are presented is solid. They move my eye down the page with ease. I like the setting and the concept seems cool. It’s very atmospheric in a way. Also a big high five to the writer for creating all sorts of conflict, and then (presumably, but I didn’t get that far) forcing these characters together and making them cooperate to survive. Good stuff.

    But two things really hurt the read…

    1) Get moving. The opening was decent, and then, 25+ boring pages of people talking. Not much really happens. There is some conflict, but mostly people stand around and talk about their feelings. It’s a lot of setup and treading water. Aside from the re-emergence of this comet, there isn’t much that promises me something exciting enough is coming to make me wait around 30 pages for it. Which isn’t always a huge deal, if you can make those 30 pages of talking entertaining. But here they weren’t. Which brings me to…

    2) Don’t tell me what the scene is about. Everything here is so on-the-nose! That really kills the read for me. As an example, on page 9, there’s a scene that establishes Rosie is the new kid in town. She hates it here, but her Mom urges her to give it a chance. So what scene does the writer come up with to show us this? He has them sit in a car and talk about how Rosie is the new kid in town, that she hates it here, and her mom urges her to give it a chance:

    BONNIE: This is a fresh start Rosie. New place, new people. Who knows, you just might like it.
    ROSIE: I liked where I was.
    BONNIE: Let me give you a lesson I wish someone had given me. You can’t help anyone, if you don’t take care of yourself first.
    ROSIE: Said the lady with the old couch and broken fridge. You’re really living the dream Mom.
    BONNIE: These are nice people. Try to make it work.

    The reason this is boring is because it’s not engaging the reader. I don’t have to use my mind here. The script just straight up tells me what is happening. So instead, maybe you have something like a scene where Bonnie is setting up their new house, but Rosie refuses to help unpack boxes. So then I have to use my brain: Aha! Rosie doesn’t want to unpack because she hates it here! Now I’m engaged in the story, and that goes a long way in keeping me invested and entertained.

    • bl2d

      I’m getting killed in this first act, which is my mistake. I wanted to setup Iowa lifestyle as much as the characters in it but failed to bring the plot through. It’s disappointing because the action really starts right after page 30, but again that’s on me. Anyway I like the note about Rosie and Bonnie scene, it could definitely be done a better way. Thanks for the notes and the read.

      • Nicholas J

        Well it’s not just about “action” necessarily. It’s more about seeing things in motion rather than just telling us about them. The Bonnie scene is a good example of that. If that makes sense.

      • romer6

        I completely agree with Nicholas J and I have some points I´d like to make. First of all, I really like the idea behind this story. But I read the whole script and one of the things that bothered me the most was the slow start. Almost nothing happens these first 30 pages except exposition and on the nose dialog. You see, I am a sucker for sci-fi. Every Amateur Friday I choose a sci-fi to read if it is available. The “homage” to Spielberg here is obvious and that is a great thing. But you should start the story a lot faster. The “other world” should come on page 20 at most. Other than presenting the characters through dialog you could quickly do that through actions. On page 3, show Rosie sitting by herself at the cafeteria or something, show the bullies picking on Mark while he practices baseball by himself all geared up. Show his sister siding with the bullies against him. You could do all this in 2 pages or less. Show the kids from Chicago showing up by surprise, cut the phone scene, phone scenes are boring, very boring. Another thing that bothered me was the amount of characters in the script. Most are cannon fodder. You could cut half of them and cause no damage to the story whatsoever. And the dialogs… I don´t know, they didn´t “sound” teenagers to me. Most of the dialog felt like written dialog, not spoken. Another important thing: after they get to the “new world” everything gets really confusing. I know for sure you have this world figured out in your head. You probably could draw it to perfection on a storyboard. But you have to make sure the person who is reading is getting it also. For most of the script that takes place in this new world I couldn´t tell what was going on. I couldn´t understand how the plants behave, or the soil, or the roots, or the animals. At this point, having finished the script, I can´t really tell what that great threat was (I suppose it was some kind of animal, but I wouldn´t be able to explain it to another person, how it looked like and such). And it also bothered me that this place has no sun (is it even possible? to have life in a sunless world?) but yet it seems like a tropical setup, it isn´t freezing and it even has got a moon that shines (that would never be possible without a sun)! I know you can bend some laws of physics to favor your script but there is a limit where suspension of disbelief will take us. Now, the thing that bothered me the most of all: the tone of the script. It starts like a teenage movie, about teenagers venturing in an alien world and that is exactly the movie I paid to watch. But suddenly it gets REALLY dark. I mean, if you want to go that dark in your script you should have set the tone a lot earlier. You can´t take us on this journey and then, suddenly, make one teen try suicide by blowing his brains out, making this same teen murder others, you can´t introduce rape and drug abuse out of nowhere. If you are writing a dark setting, this should be done from the start, we must know where WE are venturing. This, in my opinion, was the greatest sin in your script. Because the story is awesome and I would be there day one to watch it. A movie about a group of teens lost in some alien world? Man, sign me up! You know your story, I can see that, I read the whole thing. I think you have gold here, I really do. It´s been a while since we last saw one of those and I have no doubt in the world it would be a success. Just keep working on it and I´m sure you will sell this script.

        • bl2d

          Thanks for the notes and the read, there’s a lot to go through here. One thing that seemed different from a lot of the other notes I’ve gotten, was the comments on world building. I was wondering, if you could suggest a script that would be a good example of effectively presenting a world/environment; because obviously that’s critical for this script. I have Avatar, but if there’s something else you can think of, I would really appreciate it. It’s nice to know that there are still people wanting to see these kinds of movies. I grew up with them and can’t believe “they” ever went away from it. This weekend has been crazy helpful, and I look forward to getting back to work on it. So thanks again for the help and the encouragement.

    • Kirk Diggler

      I agree with your points regarding this script, which does show some decent writing. However, my advice is to ditch the Rosie/Bonnie(Mom) scene altogether. Mark is set up as the main character, we have the standard ‘getting to know you’ scene with him and his sister. Why do we need another one of these scenes with a different character? The chemistry class scene does enough to establish Rosie —-

      MARK: How did you know that?

      ROSIE: Private school. Really the trick is finding just, the right amount.

      —and then — ROSIE: Yeah well back in Chicago we don’t take that sound lightly.

      So right there, she’s a city kid in Iowa, went to private school and knows some shit.
      Don’t need much more than that, pity there is a lot of filler in this scene.

      –as a non sequitur , in a script I’m working on I noticed I had a character use the phrase “Yeah, well,’ to start a sentence, just like Rosie does here. Out of curiosity, I went and checked to see if other characters spoke the same way, and sure enough, some did. So I changed it. No real point I’m making other than it’s very easy to fall into the same speech patterns for characters, it might be worth doing a word search to remove them or just keep certain patterns to certain characters.

  • Caivu


    Pg. 1-4
    -“Glidden Iowa, 1946″ Glidden, Iowa, 1946 (by “insert” do you mean “super”?)
    -“star packed” star-packed
    -This is super nitpicky, but see if you can avoid having lines that consist of just a single word (I’m looking at the word “sky” at the end of the first sentence). It results in a wasted line and could add up significantly if done too often. To fix this one, try changing “blushes” to “glows” or drop the word “static”, as comets seen from Earth look static anyway.
    -“Below cornfields littered” Below, cornfields littered
    -This seems familiar. Has this been on Scriptshadow before in any way?
    -“rolled down window” rolled-down window
    -There have been a lot of grammar errors so far, and I’m only on page one. I’ll stop pointing them out unless they’re particularly distracting, but they need to be fixed.
    -“The farmer reacts.” How? Does he shout, curse, scream? If this is intended to be something the actor can ad-lib, make that clear.
    -You don’t need to mention the shriek twice.
    -I’m not understanding the opening bit of Mark and Angie’s first conversation; they don’t sound like they’re talking to each other for the most part. Maybe have it start with Angie’s phone ringing?

    Pg. 6-12
    -I now recognize this from SS, but I don’t know from exactly which post or comment.
    -“the fully grown version of your wimpy little brother” I don’t have a brother (wimpy, little, or otherwise), sorry. Just say Neary is wimpy and awkward; that’ll save space and won’t have you making assumptions about the reader.
    -I’m not liking how pretty much every character so far has been intro’d in association with vehicles, and specifically traveling in them. Does that become relevant later? It seems boring at the moment.
    -You’ve intro’d Rosie already; no need to cap her name again.
    -The Gatorade and particularly its loose cap should be established earlier. Right now it seems like just a gag.
    -Where’d Mark get a new shirt?
    -Egyptians now. Looks like I was right about this being Stargate-esque (still a good thing).
    -Top of page 10: is Neary supposed to say astrology? It sounds more like he’s talking about astronomy.
    -Geez, how long did Neary take finding his slides? I’m not a fan of the whole “class is dismissed just as the teacher’s starting the lesson” thing. I get that it shows Neary’s absentmindedness and creates a dilemma for the students, but comes at the expense of being unrealistic and cliche.
    -There’s not been much plot so far.
    -Why are they going out to the track for chem class? Odd.

    Pg. 17-18
    -Mark’s driving Rosie home after exploding chemicals all over her? It feels like there are some scenes missing. And there’s a tornado now?
    -Bonnie’s line about spiders seems likes it’s there only for Rosie to make a smart-ass quip about it. Actually, all of Bonnie’s lines have been like that.

    Pg. 20
    -Make it clear on Daniel’s intro that he’s on the phone. Also, is he in Chicago? Make that clear from the scene heading.

    Pg. 22-23
    -Still no inciting incident, and I’m still unsure who the group of teens who get sent to an alien world are. Mark and Rosie for sure, maybe Angie, possibly the dudes from the truck earlier… I just don’t know.
    -Looks like Daniel’s going to be part of the group, but I only met him three pages ago. Most of the time so far has been spent with Mark and Rosie, and I don’t really have much of a handle on them.

    Pg. 28-30
    -Have Tim and Scott been properly intro’d? I honestly can’t remember.
    -Okay, the final group that gets transported (and lives for any significant amount of time) seems to be: Mark, Rosie, Angie, Daniel, Billy, Jeff, and Tim.
    -Page-wise and action-wise, this is a pretty good place for an act break.

    This was honestly a tough read. There are a *lot* of grammar errors; easily five per page (commas and hyphens seem to be the main issue). Every script will have its typos and things, but this is in serious need of proofreading.
    Most of the first 30 seems directionless and padded to me; there’s not much structure or characters I could get a feel for. There are apparently seven characters who are going to this alien world, but a majority of the time has been spent with Mark and Rosie, and I know only the barest of things about either of them. I know even less about Angie, Daniel, and Billy, and next to nothing about Jeff or Tim. Getting to this new world by about page 30 is okay, but there needs to be more balance between the characters, and more characterization for all of them, as well (seven is kind of a lot of characters to follow, so unless a few of them die fairly soon, consider starting off with maybe five at most). I also didn’t catch an inciting incident of any kind.
    I didn’t find this compelling enough to continue on. I remember this being featured here before in some way, and it doesn’t seem changed that much from what I recall. Is this somehow an old draft?
    On to the next…

    • bl2d

      No it’s a new draft, I’m curious about the fact that you think it’s been on here before. You’re not the first person to say that today. Back around October Carson featured a scene on amateur vs pro, I think that’s what you’re remembering… Anyway thanks for the all the notes there’s a lot to go through but it all seems helpful.

      • Caivu

        You’re right, that’s probably the post I’m thinking of; it featured the chemistry scene, right? I definitely remembered that. But I also remember reading everything up until that point. Maybe that post featured multiple scenes?

      • Levres de Sang

        Just to let you know: I’ve got a 131-page version of this script on my hard drive that I believe you posted in comments around Christmas…

        • bl2d

          Okay that explains it. I was starting to think I was losing it… Thanks

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Got to page 25 on this one. Easy read, perfect tone for the genre. Some things gave me pause:
    If this is the farmer’s property, why are those woods “foreign” to him?
    If six people went missing in that town during a freak occurance, wouldn’t everyone know that already? The teacher seems to be explaining common knowledge to the students. Perhaps use the newcomer there. She wouldn’t know about it. He can explain it to her.

    That historical fact and the tornado history seem to be more interesting than what is currently happening in the story which is not much more than exploring the relationship between these teens which was good in my opinion, but I think we need some thrills, a clue to where this is headed much sooner. At page 25, I’m fiddling in my seat. Again, Mark is a great character and I think telling the story from his point of view is preferable to moving back and forward between him and Rosie.

    • bl2d

      Thanks Randy, yeah the farmer thing just wasn’t detailed enough. I should’ve at least described the woods a little better, so we can tell that he’s not in his world in anymore. He actually ran through the portal back at the scarecrow when the world mutes, but I probably should have shown this fact in a better way. Hey thanks for the read and by the way I can promise you there are a lot thrills ahead:)

      • Fish Tank Festival

        Oh wow, I was confused by that also. Now I know when I head back into the read.

  • klmn


    Clumsy title. Rewrite.

    • S.C.

      Untitled Carson Reeves AOW submission selection.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read 15 pages of Roomies. Not much to say. A laborious set up. Scenes are dragging on longer than they should. Not much happens dramatically, and the comedy relies on gross out humor. I assume Katrina and Jake are on a collision course, why is it taking so long? What are the stakes? Non-existent so far. The logline reads like it’s just about a clash of personalities.

    What’s the overriding story? Jake has taken over his Dad’s business and is trying to get his wife pregnant and is anal-retentive. Katrina is a dead beat and doesn’t mind shacking up with a serial masturbater who also shits his bed and is content to let the smell dissipate over time instead of changing his bed sheets. There were a few funny lines, one from the old lady getting her teeth worked on, one about the red wine stains.

    Every scene so far seems like ‘this is Jake’s world” and now here is “Katrina’s world”, see how they contrast? Just wait until they get together, fireworks! This is sketch material, not the basis of a movie. At 109 pages, it’s horribly overlong for a spec comedy. Seeing how scenes are dragging out longer than they should in the first 15, I don’t have a lot of confidence the writer can move this story along effectively.

    Within the first ten pages we need an inciting incident that will bring your two antagonists together. Which means scenes need to be tightened. We don’t need a 4 page scene (at the dentist’s office) to establish your main character’s world, which followed a 3 page domestic opener. Arrive late, leave early. Get to your main conflict as soon as possible.

    • MichaelAQ

      Thank you for writing this, so I wouldn’t have to. I wanted to like this script based on the premise, but it just dragged. This script feels like an assortment of scenes to set up jokes.

      My recommendation to the writer would be to approach every scene with Jake’s short-term goal in mind, and how that pushes towards to overall goal of the script. If the scene isn’t pushing towards that, chances are it’s not needed.

    • IgorWasTaken

      That is too bad. The logline (well done) seems like a highly commercial (in a good way) story.

      Yes, there are similar films (Step Brothers comes to mind) but I think that’s a good thing.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read 17 pages of Mad Muses. There might be an interesting story in here somewhere. Maybe.

    The scene at the pharmacy goes on far too long. A 2 1/2 page scene that goes 5 pages. Then a ride in a police car and a scene at home with Harvie’s parents. Carson loves male names for female characters (not). Everything works toward her being committed to an asylum of some sort, the one hinted at in the opening page.

    Part of my problem with this script so far is we have no context for Harvie’s behavior. She comes across in some ways like a typical bratty teenager. She hates Siobhan, which I presume is her step-mom. The violent attack at the pharmacy shows us she is troubled but I’m clueless as to why. Her father sends her off to a ward, which is believable, I guess, but I’d like to know a little more of what motivates her, where she’s coming from. I’d consider reading more but I’m not dying to.

  • Caivu

    Mad Muses

    (I’ll be honest like you asked, but hopefully not too mean)

    Pg. 1-10
    -Like Fields, there are quite a few grammar errors on page 1. I won’t mention them all, but they need fixing.
    -“he opens his mouth but no words come out” You don’t need to mention that no words come out; if you don’t put dialogue for him, that’s implied. Maybe have him just gasp?
    -A Dictaphone? I get what you mean (I think) but that’s a bit of a dated term.
    -Fog pollutes the air? Fog is water vapor. I think you mean smog.
    -Grim reaper is a specific type of coat? Never heard of it. Or does the figure just resemble the Reaper due to the hood? This is unclear.
    -“her red bleary eyes, the cut on her lip and the smudged makeup.” Use these descriptions when you first intro Harvie, instead of the “three day bender” stuff.
    -Is Harvie trying to get prescription meds without a prescription? And the assistant is letting her? Why can’t Harvie get OTC sleep meds? Those work just fine (Um, I mean… so I’ve heard).
    -Harvie’s using pounds, so she’s apparently in the UK… where Nytol is OTC, right? Why can’t she just pick these up off the shelf and be on her way?
    -David should probably give a better reason why he’s not selling Harvie the Nytol; if this is really taking place in the UK, and Nytol is OTC, she doesn’t need a prescription. Why can’t he just say that they have the right to refuse service, particularly because Harvie’s acting belligerent? He mentions the amount of drugs and Harvie’s drunkenness soon after, just use that.
    -Why not have Harvie plan to steal the drugs right from the start? She’s pretty stupid to just announce her intentions like she does. This might cut some pages from this scene; it’s almost 5 pages, which is a bit much considering what happens in it.
    -Grammar errors have not slowed down.
    -Formatting error at the bottom of page 7; the scene heading is left hanging. Could be just a software or export issue, but needs fixing.
    -Consider introducing Kelsey during Harvie’s first scene; it seems like an important part of her character, too important not to get to right away.
    -Did Harvie get bailed out? Why is she at home?
    -Is there any reason why Harvie can’t start off in the psychiatric hospital?

    Pg. 14-15
    -The facility, Joney, and Dr. Marseille are coming off cartoony. It really clashes with everything that’s happened previously.
    -15 pages, nothing yet to indicate this is sc-fi (not even the rash stuff at the beginning).
    -The head doctor is meeting an incoming patient at the front gates? Um… no. I get that something’s probably off with the staff, but this still seems wrong.

    Pg. 17-19
    -“The grounds are middle earth inspired. It wouldn’t look amiss if an elf wandered out from the lush foliage or a dragon flew overhead.” Again, not getting a sci-fi vibe from descriptions like this. Feels a bit fan-fictiony.
    -“Deja displays all the typical signs of having an eating disorder.” Like what? There are multiple types of eating disorders, and they don’t all have the same physical signs. Someone with bulimia, for instance, can have a weight within normal range. This line is unclear. I’m assuming Deja’s anorexic, as that would probably give the most dramatic visual.
    -When I talked about the loglines earlier, I mentioned that this seemed like a mix between One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Blade Runner, but I think I meant Chappie instead of BR (don’t know how I mixed those up). That is, I thought psychiatric staff would be replaced by obvious robots. I’m starting to think the BR element was right; robots that look human.
    -The plot has ground to a halt for me.

    Pg. 22-30
    -I get that Bax might not be human, but why is Egypt left to give the tour?
    -Internet access I can buy. Patients wearing piercings? Not so much.
    -Patients are allowed to smoke, even with e-cigs? Okay, I’m guessing these discrepancies are just things that are different in the UK, but make sure just in case.
    -Wouldn’t a Dora the Explorer haircut just be a bowl cut? Or some type of hime cut? Both would be shorter to describe.
    -Lots of no-consequence or non-dramatic scenes.
    -Pretty big mistake on page 30 with Dr. Marseille sitting at *his* desk with a wall behind *him*. And she’s still being referred to as masculine on the next page! Oy.

    Okay, like Fields, this was really tough for me to get through due to all the grammar mistakes and typos; there might even be more mistakes than in Fields. Heavy, *heavy* proofreading is needed. This script isn’t ready on that basis alone, sorry.
    Things started off pretty well: an interesting first scene, a pretty good (if overly long) intro to the protagonist that provided some characterization, fairly quick movement… but nothing that really screamed robots or sci-fi. The psychiatric stuff was there, but I don’t think that’s enough. If nothing else, the logline should make clear that the robots are disguised as humans. “Android” is better at conveying that than just “robotic”, but all it really implies is “humanoid”, not “looks exactly like a human”.
    The plot peters out at about 18 (for me, anyway) and doesn’t come back until Harvie refuses her meds on page 28. By that point I only have a vague hint that something’s up with the staff, and had I not read the logline I don’t know if I would’ve immediately thought of robots. I scanned ahead and got sort of a Suckerpunch vibe, maybe?
    I would also suggest making the other patients more interesting. Don’t resort to cliches or stereotypes, but flesh them out some more.
    There’s plenty to work on, but I think the biggest thing right now is cleaning up the writing.

  • Howie428

    I had a bit of a tough time with this week’s scripts. There were a couple I wanted to get excited about, but just couldn’t get swept up by. After reading the first ten pages of each, I took a look at the loglines and WYSRs, and that didn’t help me pick one. Then I resorted to looking at other peoples’ responses to see if someone would make me want to go on with one of them, and got no dice.

    So I guess I’m left with voting… None of the Above.

    Sorry, here are my notes…


    Having the first two dialogues be “Morning” feels a bit mundane and the opening scene between Jake and Rebecca might also be a bit mundane.

    I read the first ten pages of this and while there are some reasonable characters being set up I’m afraid things are feeling a bit mundane for me. Nothing has happened yet that compels me to carry on.


    Nice shock value for the opening page. When I saw the eight year jump on the next page I guess I was left wondering if the opening is a bit thin to act as a teaser.

    The next few scenes set up a clear mystery and have the promise of problems to come.

    After the first 10 pages the mystery is still there and the location has some cool aspects. I know that horror stories often work with slow burn openings, but at this stage I guess I’m beginning to wonder when something else is going to happen.

    In looking at the logline for this, I notice that for me everything in the logline has already happened. I’m already suspicious of the parents, which is good set up, but for me I’d like the logline to give me a better sense of what the core story is going to be.

    I skimmed onwards through another 30 pages of this and saw some fun stuff, but it also seemed to confirm the concern I got from the logline. The dreams and conversations seem to fit with a story that’s treading water to cover thin material.


    Here is a useless nit-pick… The title page is non-standard, the first page has a number, the FADE IN: has a lot of lines, and there’s no DAY/NIGHT on the first scene heading. Before I read a word, I’m already doubting you. Then you open with a “We see,” and a “There are,” it’s like you’re trying to put me off.

    The opening scene has some interest, but I’m afraid I’m going to leave it there because the read is proving awkward. The good news is that learning these technical elements is easy enough and a process everyone goes through. Clean that stuff up and we’ll have a lot less excuses to check out.


    Fun opening exchange. I’m not sure how the FBI plane can expect to make the small plane land anywhere, surely they need a runway of some kind? Also, short of bad weather, cloud, or darkness, I guess I’m not sure how they can lose a faster plane, especially since I’d figure on radar picking them up.

    I got to page 13 and the opening scene is fun and sets up a simple risk situation for the leads. I guess I didn’t 100% buy the action of the opening and for me the material covers well-worn ground. That can be a good thing, but in this case I’m not sure you’ve got a fresh ingredient that gets me excited about this version of it.


    “INSERT: GLIDDEN IOWA, 1946” – I don’t think this is an INSERT. Also, if it is going on top of the images then it makes sense to describe what we’re seeing first.

    The teaser is fun stuff, although it might be a bit generic. Also, it might seem a bit odd that noises and an unseen threat can drive the guy away from his car and off a ridge on his own land.

    I’m on page 11 and while the character work that has been done so far worked fine, I guess this exposition dump has taken me out of things. It’s feeling like the story is kicking off slowly and even though I’m a sci-fi fan, I’m finding that this hasn’t hooked me yet.

    • S.C.

      I agree with you that, based on reading the opening pages of each, there are no clear winners this weekend. Maybe with rewrites, but not with these drafts?

      Does that leave an open spot on Friday?

    • S.C.

      Another point: I think MAD MUSES was written with word or some such program. The first page, as you pointed out, is numbered and subsequent page numbers lack a period, so instead of 2., 3., 4. we get 2, 3, 4.

      However.. I think the writer, Latoya Jennene, this is her first script and maybe she wants some feedback before spending the cash on Final Draft or Writer Duet or whatever.

      Any recommendations for FREE (or dirt cheap) formatting programs? Celtx, is that still going?

      • Caivu

        I use Trelby, which is free but pretty bare-bones (no underlining or italics, for example). I think Celtx is still free.

      • Matthew Garry

        You need to be a little tech savvy and persistent to use it, but Latex can be used for typesetting screenplays. It’s hands down the most professional and best type setting program suite available, but, like most serious software, it requires a fair amount of investment (of time, the program itself is, and will always be, free).

        • S.C.

          I use Final Draft, but I suspect there are a lot of newbie writers trying to do (final draft) screenplays with Word or some-such word processor. Bad idea. They may nor be as good as FD or Screenwriter or Fade In, whatever, but it’s better than using nothing!

          (I did once configure Word to do screenplays, and I was quite pleased with the results. However, without being falsely modest, I have the sort of mind for things like that. If you don’t, get some formatting software.).

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Brewster! Brewster!

      • S.C.

        Very underrated film. Love it!

        Why can’t there be more films like this now? Answer me, why?!

        • Gregory Mandarano

          Well this movie was a remake. Technically it’s becoming more in vogue to remake classic films. But so far it seems to be slanted more towards drama and action than comedy.

          The original was OK. The Richard Pryor version is a million times better, and is one of my favorite movies, ever.

  • Citizen M

    My vote this week goes to MAD MUSES with honorable mention to ROOMIES and THE RUNNER.


    Read to page 27. Too much mundane setting the scene. These people are always bickering about past stuff I don’t know anything about. None of them has done a single thing that makes me interested in them. They have no personality. Suggestion: introduce Mark doing something he’s passionate about.

    Events happen without much connecting logic or foreshadowing. No sign of the alien world yet. No tension. Frankly, I am not thrilled and don’t mind if the gateway swallows the teens up permanently.

    p. 7 – Rosie and Bonnie bickering about stuff we don’t know about. Not interesting. First show us Rosie doing something to catch our interest, then her problems. Now we might care.

    p. 12 – How come Mr. Neary is so friendly towards Mark? I could understand if Mark was an A+ student, but he gets F’s. As it is, it’s simply creepy.
    Again, there is too much going on without us knowing the background. Normal relationships don’t need an explanation, they’re routine. But unusual relationships need to be justified.

    p. 15 – Why does Mr. Neary inspect the starting pistol in the middle of a chemistry class?

    p. 16 – The whole chem scene is unconvincing. What’s it supposed to demonstrate? It’s just more Mark being klutzy to Rosie. We got it already.

    p. 18 – Bonnie “doesn’t have faith in that stuff.” What stuff?

    p. 25 – Was there a time jump, or is the approaching storm the same one as when Mark was on Rosie’s porch. LATER: Daniel and Billy have arrived, so I suppose it’s a week later. Find some way of cuing us in to the time jump.

    p. 26 – Why are Daniel and Billy in Mark’s truck and not in their own? Or did they get to the fair by bus or something? Show us how they arrive there.


    Is it The Runner (title page) or The Drug Runner (file name)? Please get them the same.

    Read to page 31. Well written, perhaps a little over-described. The action could move a bit faster. It seems Act 2 is only just starting. It should be a few pages earlier.

    Rich and Sandra were okay characters, but the others, particularly Montero, were rather cliché. Still, not bad so far.

    p. 7 – Cabin pressure would burst a window at high altitude, not low. Think of some other evasive maneuver. From what I know of light aircraft, a Beechcraft compared to a Cessna is like a sports car compared to a Beetle, so outrunning it takes some doing.

    p. 9 – Would an audience understand what they were trying to achieve with all the setting of transponder etc. Surely they would be tracked on US radar anyway?

    p. 16 – Sandra and Rich meet. Try and make the conversation more electric. I want to feel tension in the air.

    p. 24 – Do they grow coca in Mexico? I thought it was a S. American crop.


    Read to page 29. This is not a genre I like, but i gave it a shot. The problem is, there have been so many fake scares, I don’t know what’s a real scare and what fake, so I have no sense of a story developing. By now I should have some idea of the parents’ evil, but if it wasn’t for the logline I wouldn’t realize there was something off about them. I’d think it’s just Karen’s skewed view of life. But maybe I don’t understand genre conventions.

    p. 2 – SUPER: 8 YEARS LATER needed.

    p. 2 – Does a therapist seen once need such specific description?

    p. 3 – “The last thing she needs is seclusion.” Really? I would have thought a slow and gentle introduction to society was needed.

    p. 10 – “How can they afford…?” Unfilmable.

    p. 25 – I’m getting a bit tired of these scary visions and dreams. They’re basically cock-teasing, not real story elements.

    p. 29 – More fake scares. I’m outta here.


    Read to page 33. Really enjoying it. Looking forward to the inevitable clash between the crazies and the nurses. My main concern is it’s a little lightweight. The scenes read very fast because they are mostly dialogue, not action. So I’d say the script needs to be 110 pages minimum to have enough substance for a feature film.

    I noticed quite a few typos. Only noted the ones on page 15. Otherwise I don’t have much to say.

    p. 15 – councillor/counsellor; there/their; this who bratty kid/delete ‘who’


    Read to page 33. Not bad. Katrina is a great comedy character. Jake could be a bit more anal to be a true foil to her. For the moment he’s just a decent guy trying hard. He needs more determination to do things his way. The script needs more pace and more laughs to be considered a straight comedy rather than a comedy-drama.

  • martin_basrawy

    Off topic question:
    I’m getting ready to register my script with the WGA. I’ve written a few scripts already but this is the first time I’m registering it. Does anyone know that if I rewrite the script after registering, do I then need to re-register the new draft so that the additional intellectual property or what-have-you that I added in the rewrite gets protected by the WGA?

    • Kirk Diggler

      I used to do this. Stopped wasting my money. Everyone says a copyright is better legal protection anyway.

  • Caivu

    The Demon Within

    Pg. 1-2
    -I’m not convinced the opening scene is necessary if you’re going to just
    immediately jump ahead 8 years and change the protag’s hair color. A mystery is
    set up concerning what happened in the house, but there’s no real hook to it.
    -“A loud SQUEAKING sound snaps Karen out of her gaze.” Gaze or daze? It’s not
    been mentioned that Karen’s been looking at anything in particular.
    -“oozes Susie Homemaker friendliness and comfort” “Maternal” might convey the
    same thing. I don’t know who/what Susie Homemaker is. A wordy description; that
    goes for all the characters on this page, actually.

    Pg. 4-25
    -You could specify the genre of song on the radio.
    -The descriptions of the countryside and house seem too wordy to me.
    -“Old memories begin to return.” This would be a good spot to put in some imagery
    from the opener.
    -“A hand gently touches Karen’s shoulder.
    Karen turns, slightly taken aback.
    It’s Jill.” I’m confused by the way this is written. Pete’s already gone into the house, so of course Jill’s the only one left to touch Karen. Why would it be someone else?
    -I just saw this is 90 pages. Things seem like they’re dragging just a bit.
    -I’m noticing that there might be too many scene headings. I read “Karen breaks hands with Jill” and thought that was just an unusual way to refer to playing cards, and that the scene was happening later, when it’s really just a continuation of the previous scene. You don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) start a new scene just because characters move to the porch if they were already outside and no significant time has passed. At the very least, you could just drop the EXT or INT if you’re going to do this.
    -“livingroom” living room
    -“stampedes buoyantly” What? Do you mean “stampedes boisterously”? Buoyant would imply he’s trying to… remain quiet, I guess? And stampedes makes it sound like he’s in a rush, which he doesn’t seem to be. Maybe “stomps down the stairs”?
    -Another mystery box with the picture. Good.
    -“a bid to pacify the tame.” What?
    -“Jill, apron-clad, cheerfully moves around a black and white checkered tiled floor like a chess piece Queen as she prepares a family dinner.” So she only moves along the tiles straight or diagonally?
    Karen enters a large spacious room.” This is a bit awkward.
    -Nitpick, but you can use “sotto” when characters are talking to themselves or under their breath.
    -I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this is very visual and pretty easy to picture. Good job on that.
    Karen enters the bathroom.” Again, kind of awkward. The scene heading tells us it’s a bathroom, you don’t have to mention it in the action. And the INTs in this section can go, like I mentioned earlier.
    -“Bathed in sunlight, it looks just how it was all those years ago.” How do I know this? This room hasn’t appeared before.
    -The house tour is going on a bit too long. I’m noticing more and more unfilmables, too. Those could be cut to save space.
    -Is there a reason Karen’s so old? I get that she went through a trauma, but she seems a bit too childlike. Could she be 25? Even five years younger might help.
    -Happy families? There’s only one family here… right?
    -Exposition dump on pages 14 and 15. Look for ways to integrate information more naturally, or at least not all in one lump.
    -Whoa. Okay, that was a pretty sudden shift.
    -Ah. Nightmare, okay. How much was real, then? Did Karen dream this after dozing off during her exploration of the house? Did she miss dinner? Was *everything* up until this point a dream? This feels like a cheap scare, to be honest.
    -Odd that the postman has such a specific age. Does he come into play later?
    -The iguana also seems to have some importance later for all the focus that’s being put on it.
    -The entire segment with Dr. Black seems kind of pointless, honestly.
    -It took me a moment to realize what “shopping parade” means in this context. Not wrong, but be aware of stuff like this.
    -What’s up with all the old folks now? I’m confused.
    -22 pages in, and the first appearance of a demon (even though it’s a vision).
    -It’s him? Him who? Richard, who I haven’t seen for 20 pages?
    -Another one of those “grab the shoulder” false scares.
    -You’ve got an actual scene of a character being bored. That’s not a good sign. More things need to be happening, especially in a script of this length. Plus, this is a horror script! I don’t think your characters should have time to be bored.
    -Karen goes from turning the TV off to waking up. Was the stuff in town a dream? Was the haunted TV a dream? I don’t know. So confused.

    Pg. 29
    -Another hand-on-shoulder thing? Ugh.

    I enjoyed the writing in this; on the whole, I thought is was visual and pretty easy to follow. There are quite a few unfilmables to be cut out and standard typos and things, but nothing really that bad.
    I liked this starting out. Aside from the very first scene, it had a bit of a slow-burn start, which I didn’t mind at first, despite the short length. However, nothing really horror-related happens after that first scene until the dream where Pete murders everyone, which is kind of a cheap scene. Then Karen starts having visions of demons, but nothing happens in the real world until the TV starts turning on. I’m assuming there’s actually a demon in this story, but the ‘rules’ it abides by feel inconsistent; having it be able to cause nightmares and hallucinations and be able to interact with the physical world seems like too much. There are also lots of stock false-scare stuff (like hands grabbing shoulders) that could probably go.
    The characters could use some fleshing out, but they’re all distinct enough that I could tell them apart. There are some nice mystery boxes going on with the shed, the picture, and Pete and Jill’s (and Karen’s too, I guess) past, but I’m a third of the way through and don’t have much of a hint about any of them.
    This is the first script this week that I want to continue.

    • Kirk Diggler

      -You’ve got an actual scene of a character being bored. That’s not a good sign”

      LOL, you think?

      • Caivu

        “Captain Obvious” is one of my many middle names.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read a little bit of The Demon Within. Standard horror set up, young woman witnesses something horrific, goes away somewhere for years of therapy, released back to her parents (as a 30 year old no less?) to a secluded, creaky house in the country, no doubt horrible things ensue that test her mettle, something like that.

    What stopped me reading was the dialogue, it’s didn’t seem to be setting anything up. It wasn’t bad but it feels so been there done that. This is better left to the SS horror cabal to dissect, I just don’t have patience for jump scares and all the ‘eerie foreshadowing’ that is par for the course for these scripts.

    *****Read 20 pages of Fields. I liked the writing for the most part, but again, it’s one of those scripts that starts with a flashback opener, teasing the premise, then jumps into setting up all the characters for the next 18 pages (that I read). I liked some of it but lots seemed unnecessary. By opening with the flashback, it sort of allows you to cheat the whole notion of an inciting incident, robbing your script of any real first act urgency. I’m assuming things pick up at the county fair but my interest started to wane by then, even if the Mr Neary comet-stuff was setting up the premise.

    The ride into school took a while, with the brother/sister duo dropping tons of exposition in a conversation that i found both vague and mundane. Also found this bit here a little too Lord Privy Seal for my taste.

    Page 3: ANGIE: Yeah how deep did that “F” put you?

    Angie eyes the “F” paper sticking out of Mark’s bag.

    — you both show and tell us that Mark got an F on a paper, seems wasteful to me. Plus, why is Mark carrying around a paper with an F on it for the world to see? Granted, it’s minor stuff, but worth pointing out because it all begins to pile up.

    Regarding Rosie and Bonnie. lots of explaining when just a little will suffice. I’d argue you don’t even need Bonnie (nit to pick, she should be listed as Rosie’s Mother, pointless to give her a name if you ask me), the too long conversation in chemistry class establishes that Rosie is an outsider, don’t need Rosie’s mother giving her the ‘well i know you hate it here in buttfuck Iowa but we need to make the best of it blah blah’ speech. Do more with less, and since we get to know Rosie a little bit in chemistry I’d skip this scene.

    Of the four I read I might prefer this one (tho un-enthused to continue reading), but still need to check out The Runner.

    • bl2d

      Thanks for reading. It’s funny, I spent all that time trying to make the second and third act action sequences original then I go and totally miss the first act structure. Clearly I got carried away with trying to pound these character’s setups. Thanks again for the notes, I’ve now got an index card above my computer that reads: “do more with less”.

      • Kirk D

        Fields was my second choice. Concept has some potential. I appreciate the character stuff but I think too often people try to build character through dialogue only. Mark refusing to drag race says more than a paragraph of talk ever could. Same with showing the F. So u got it all there just need to tighten the dialogue. Good luck, maybe SS will have Fields back as a comeback script

  • charliesb


    I opened this first because I’m partial to Sci-fi, I read to the end of page 2. I would suggest reading those first two pages out loud and paying attention to the cadence. IMO you are over describing, and doing it, in a pattern that I found very distracting. I can’t focus on any of your details because everything has details.

    If I were editing this, I would pull out all of the adjectives and then only add back in the ones that are necessary to enhance the story.


    – A lone pair of headlights seemingly float within the field. – Good (though I’d remove seemingly)
    – His grip tightens on the rough wooden handle. – Not so much

    Good luck with it!

  • Zero

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to get to really read any of the scripts this weekend, so I’ll look at the loglines instead, from the bottom up:

    Roomies: Sounds like a domestic, soapy drama. Something one might have on in the background while doing chores. Not exactly a concept making me want to run to the theatre.

    Mad Muses: I kinda like the idea of evil android nurses – like a freaky hybrid of the conditions on the ship in WALL-E and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But not as hot on the group of patients as the protagonists (because there’s no irony or good values in their description currently). Also don’t get how the title connects.

    The Demon Within: Sounds a lot like Friday’s script, To Dust. Maybe I’m not the right audience for this kind of horror. But I wish there were more conflict in the logline, more hints at what will happen in the movie. Right now, the logline is all setup, no action.

    The Runner: I like this logline. Characters and goals are clear, and plenty of action is implied. Sounds like it’d be a good R-rated action flick. Love the part about him having to get back to the US, but the last part about bringing the Mexican family with him muddies the plot a little, and makes it miss my top vote by a tiny bit.

    Fields: The logline has it’s problems – no hints of how/why the teens are thrust through the gateway, mainly – but it seems to have the most commercial potential out of all of these. I’d read this first.

    So, based on the loglines alone, my vote is for Fields.

  • Randy Williams

    Yeah, I can see this as a challenge.
    The tone just feels funny for the protagonist being who he is. You could take the beginning of this and it would be a perfect start to a Lifetime movie channel movie with the female FBI agent as the protagonist. The tone wouldn’t be any different but she’d be a heroic female FBI agent with a love interest.
    Not having read the whole thing, it seems you’re hinting in your comments that maybe this guy becomes a changed man through being forced to human traffic. Perhaps bookend the script with a present day court trial or he’s telling the story to someone and we go back in time. For me that would go a long way to accepting following his criminal journey with the tone as it is.
    Good luck with it. It’s gotten lots of love and deserves it.

  • charliesb


    Read to page 17 but will probably come back to it again later. Your first 7-8 pages were tough to get through. The description was dense, but I didn’t feel like a had a good feel what was going on, or why I should care. I woke up when you mentioned the FBI partner’s name was Robert Drake since that’s Iceman’s real name :P And the next few pages of action were a lot clearer and a bit more engaging. Still I didn’t really care that these FBI agents were chasing these drug runners who were discussing getting laid in a way that wasn’t funny or interesting.

    But I did sit up a bit, when they noticed that they were not carrying weed but were in fact smuggling coke. If I were going to rewrite your first 20 pages, I’d cut the air chase. Use the dialogue in the opening scene to not only introduce Rich and James, but show us the differences between them. Punch up that dialogue, make it funnier, richer and more revealing. Find a way to reveal the coke without the air chase. Maybe James is trying to pull a picture of a woman he thinks Rich should “date” on his phone as they hit turbulence? Whatever it is, get to it faster, like in the first 3 or 4 pages. After they find the coke, they land and Rich confronts Montero. He brings up his concern over being caught with the cocaine, perhaps mentions rumours of FBI agents chasing down runners. This is your setup for the bar scene, where he meets Sandra.

    Your initial meeting between Rich and Sandra was a wasted opportunity. This scene has a lot of potential that I think you let slip by. Whether you play it that they both know who each other are (she knows he’s a runner, he can suss out that she’s in law enforcement) or that one knows and the other doesn’t, or that they both have no idea at the beginning of their conversation but figure it out by the end, this is where you tell us why we are watching a film about Rich (and hopefully rooting for him) and why we do or don’t want Sandra to catch him. Add texture here, depth, deception, flirting, truths. Make this scene pop. Reveal the stakes and theme or as Carson puts it the GSU.

    As I said, I’ll probably come back to this one sometime this weekend, I’ll add to my notes if and when I do.

    Good luck with it!

  • Levres de Sang


    Quite an assortment at the ScriptShadow table this week…

    THE DEMON WITHIN [Read: 89 pages]

    An intriguing logline coupled with a simple style and horrific opening page had me reading this one all the way through. I particularly enjoyed the 70s feel of the early scenes when Karen arrives back at her secluded childhood home. Even the names (KAREN, DR. MARION BLACK) had something of a classic TV movie vibe… Moreover, there was a palpable sense of menace that kept me turning pages; but unfortunately narrative logic soon gives way to creaks and dreams, hallucinations and lizard monsters — and consequently it becomes near impossible to know what’s real or imagined. Indeed, that whole lizard thing was the least satisfying aspect and came across like some kind of surrealist deus ex machina… The plainness of the writing itself can also be a weakness on occasion — especially during the kills which come off as too matter of fact. I also missed whether Karen’s parents really were satanists or whether it was all paranoid delusion on Karen’s part?

    All in all, this script has pages on its side and with a bit more depth (the diary, for instance) could go a long way.

    N.B. Would Karen really be released after only eight years?

    THE RUNNER [Read: 7 pages]

    This sounds exciting (I’m all for adventure) and I really wanted to like it, but I just can’t concentrate on what’s actually happening because somehow the author has made this really tricky to read. Maybe it’s the technical stuff, maybe the banter? Maybe both, I’m not sure? On the one hand it’s great that we’re introduced to characters AND being given all the airborne action, but across these pages it feels too much. I’d simplify considerably.

    FIELDS [Read: 8 pages]

    I really liked the lyrical essence of that opening back in 1946. It’s not dissimilar to an X-Files teaser and could play really well on-screen, but in all honesty I groaned when we came to the present day and the all too familiar teenagers. Perhaps I might have hung around longer if they’d been discussing something that intimated a recurrence of that 1946 incident, but as it stands there’s nothing to distinguish their conversation from the thousands of other teenage flicks.

    MAD MUSES [Read: 12 pages]

    Reads quickly and there’s a certain freshness to the writing, but as others have noted errors predominate. The split personality thing has potential and may be a better place to start — a la last week’s VICKIE. At the moment, the opening page just feels random in terms of what follows while the supermarket scene feels like something from a TV soap.

    N.B. A fair few UK scripts suddenly coming out of the woodwork.

    ROOMIES [Read: 10 pages]

    This one reads fairly smoothly and Jake the dentist seems like he could be an interesting character, but I don’t feel compelled to read any further. R-rated comedies aren’t my thing at all so I hope others give you lots of good notes!

  • Caivu

    The Runner

    Pg. 1-8
    -Nice visual opening, very atmospheric. Camera directions, but I’m willing to overlook those for now.
    -Some grammar stuff on page 1.
    -Rich’s intro paragraph is a bit wordy. Does the thermos need to be worn? Aren’t shaggy and scruffy basically the same thing? Try cutting this down to three lines. And I thought the plane was going 170; now it’s at 150 all of a sudden?
    -You’ve already mentioned that the Cessna is an 80s model, and there’s been nothing to indicate it’s not the present-day. I don’t think the plane needs so much description. Keep the dice, though.
    -Mention the co-pilot’s name and that he’s the one yelling when you first introduce him. This goes for their headphones, too; mention them earlier.
    -The banter’s just a bit too exposition-heavy, but establishes the characters well.
    -Google is telling me that a Cessna 210 and a Beechcraft Baron are pretty much the exact same length and have comparable wingspans; a Baron wouldn’t really be “huge-by-comparison’ to a 210. It’s also giving me different top speeds for each plane. Double check things just to make sure.
    -Is the bit about the Beechcraft’s top speed really necessary?
    -I’m not convinced that Rich’s pressurization plan would make any difference, or work. I also don’t buy the Baron’s windows blowing out like they do. If either of those things actually would work, then I especially don’t buy Sandra’s actions; she comes off as desperate, incompetent, and fairly dumb. Why is Rich such a big deal? Why can’t she or Robert radio someone to track them? This is a pretty good action scene, but I don’t believe anyone in it (except Robert and James) would behave like they do. If Sandra’s not tossed from the FBI for this, I’ll be amazed.
    -8 pages is a maybe bit much for two planes almost crashing. See if you can get it down to, I don’t know, 5?

    Pg. 10-13
    -Montero’s toting a Hawaiian shirt, not wearing it?
    -You don’t need to describe Bernardo as a man or Felipe as a young man; we get that from their names/ages.
    -I wish Montero were more colorful than he is now.
    -The exposition is a bit raw here.

    Pg. 15-24
    -What’s Sandra doing here, at the same bar as Rich? At least it seems she got canned, which is good.
    -Or maybe not. Or is she just bluffing? Not clear right now.
    -I haven’t mention it yet, but I think the pacing of this script is the best so far this week.
    -A bomb on board?
    -I’m kind of hoping James lives, because I sort of like the whole “James discovers secret cargo” running gag.
    -We are go for bomb!
    -Yay! Montero’s needlessly gloating! There’s the color I wanted earlier. More! More!
    -I’m liking this more than any of the other scripts so far, by quite a bit. Good early act break.

    Pg. 26-30
    -Really good tension in this scene with Montero. He’s really a hands-on guy. I’m hoping Rich braces himself against the trapdoor to keep it from sounding different when Montero stomps on it.
    -It seems like that’s exactly what happened… I think?
    -Montero seems to know that there’s a trapdoor, so why doesn’t he just lift up the carpet and open it? This could go with his “all rumors must be investigated” spiel. It would also provide an opportunity for Rich to hide in some clever way, and then Montero would leave as a result of not finding Rich, instead of being lead away by a phone call, which is artificial.
    -I have a feeling James isn’t dead.

    I really liked this. I’d normally say that the descriptions and camera directions could be pared down, but things move so quickly that it’s not too much of an issue. Consider doing that anyway, just to make this script as lean as possible.
    I’m a bit skeptical of some of the sequences in this, mainly the airplane dive scene and the trapdoor scene. There was some good tension in them, though.
    The pacing was good, I thought. Some scenes go on for too long, maybe, but nothing really dragged.
    The characters were all distinct. The Spanish families don’t seem quite as memorable, but I haven’t spent much time with them yet. I still want Montero to be more colorful and bigger-than-life. He got some of that later on, but not enough.
    I will definitely keep reading this. There’s still some things that could be polished or tightened, but I think this script needs the least amount of work of any of them so far this week. Right now, this is probably going to get my vote unless Roomies hits it out of the park.

  • charliesb


    50 pages in and no hint of your log line. Very fast and easy read, with great dialogue and clean and sometimes witty description. But I’m worried there isn’t a enough story here. Your log line mentions android robots, but I actually like the idea of a battle of wits/wills between Harvie and her stepmother. This idea that Harvie is convinced her stepmother has injured her father in order to keep her locked up and steal his fortune is clear and easy to follow. I feel like I’m always parroting Carson’s mantra of GSU. But I really stand by it. By page 50, I should definitely know what the goal of the main character is, what her problem is and how she hopes to solve it.

    A few suggestions:

    – Kill the first page and start with Harvie approaching the store.
    – Describe Harvie’s appearance a bit better when we first meet her, the comment about her hair later on made me realize I was picturing her incorrectly.
    – I didn’t follow the opening scene to her being arrested to her being at home in her room to being sent to a hospital. Make these connections clearer. She got drunk and belligerent in a supermarket and was arrested. Why is she home in the next scene? How did her father connect what happened, to her hearing voices. I don’t think you need to be on the nose about it, but some thread that connects her inability to sleep to Kelsey to her father would help.
    – Some spelling and grammar mistakes – wandering, wondering, there, their

    Good luck with it!

  • Caivu


    Pg. 1-11
    -What’s astonishing about the estate? Is it huge? Old? Painted neon green? Made of beets?
    -Is the workshop in Jake’s house? The scene heading should reflect this, if so.
    -“well-preserved, but outdated” doesn’t describe the kitchen’s age well enough. The “tastes of a quiet retired couple” could run from the 1930s to the 1960s; quite a range of kitchen styles in that time frame!
    -“At the table sits REBECCA (early 30s) relaxed and unassumingly beautiful in her newly awakened state with a pot of freshly brewed coffee, antique and fancy cups, and a matching bowl out of which she eats cereal.” This should probably be broken up into several sentences. It’s pretty wordy either way.
    -The breakfast scene needs to be punchier.
    -Wow, Rebecca’s an ass. I hope I’m not supposed to like her.
    -How am I supposed to know how much the house is worth?
    -And now Jake’s an ass, but of a different type. Wonderful.
    -Mrs Krazinski should be intro’d as such, not as Female Patient.
    -Mrs. Krazinski seems like a regular patient; I don’t think Jake need to remind her to make an appointment. Unless that’s just him being overly professional?
    -The blowjob joke goes on too long. “Jake: ‘It’s the chewing you should avoid.’ Mrs Krazinski grins. Mrs. Krazinski:’Great. Take care.'” Something like that.
    -Don’t have Charlie call attention to the joke. Trust your audience.
    -“He and spins around in his chair.” What?
    -Is there a better way to bring up Jake’s impotence than just mentioning it in conversation?
    -How did Charlie get past Inez?
    -Katrina’s line about dropping spaghetti is kind of funny. Very dry.
    -Did Katrina just steal a bike? Or does she just leave hers unlocked, and all the bikes look the same…? It’s not clear if she’s checking the bikes by pulling at the locks or looking at them.

    Pg. 12
    -I’m not getting Hank’s line about olive oil and cinnamon. What’s the joke there? I’m guessing it relates to the cinnamon buns in the next scene, but other than that, I’ve got nothing. I can’t find any mention of that combo being used as any type of cleaner. But I don’t think soda water with salt would do anything to remove stains, so maybe Hank’s just dumb.

    Pg. 14
    -And here I thought this wasn’t going to be a sex comedy. Silly me. Why isn’t there more dental-based humor? Or workplace humor? Sex jokes are out of place given your logline.
    -Hank is a cartoon character. This stuff about his beer collection is pointless. Why is Katrina still here? She got hit with a cum rag last night! There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

    Pg. 19-20
    -Is it really necessary to show them ordering?

    Pg. 24
    -I can buy that Katrina’s not very bright, but I don’t believe even she wouldn’t know what half of $2.4 million is. Now she’s a cartoon character.

    Pg. 29-31
    -What’s with the whole bad news stuff with the doctor? It’s not important. It’s half a page wasted. Why?
    -And then the doctor turns out to be fake? WHY? What does that have to do with anything? That’s almost two whole pages wasted right there.

    The humor in this isn’t focused enough on the premise. Why all the masturbation and beer jokes? Why the fake doctor scene? These just take up space. The humor needs to be more about Jake’s uptightness and how it conflicts with Rebecca and Katrina. More about the issues involving becoming a parent. More about family as a whole.
    All the scenes need to be punchier, especially the opening scenes; there’s lots of good-morning-how-are-you-oh-I’m-fine dialogue. The overall pacing seems okay, though.
    I do think both Jake and Katrina are distinct characters, but they could both use some more humanization. I’m not convinced Hank needs to be in this at all.

  • Caivu

    I vote for The Runner.

  • S.C.

    I get that point, but…. I’m not going to be the only one to spot that typo. That was my original point. The first two words shouldn’t have been capitalized. Doing all caps if a character is yelling is OK, once or twice, but too much use of capitals gives the dialogue a comic book feel.

    You must obsess over format rules; it’s one of the things that will get a script junked, no matter what it’s about. A lot of people would have thrown that script away based on that “GET OUT of my field!” line!

  • Raphael Howard

    Read the script for “Fields” in full.


    Strong introductory descriptions.
    Good setup leads to developed characters..
    Some solid action sequences.


    Drags during the middle act.
    Some writing errors early on.
    “Mark!” “Angie!” Exchange felt really silly.

    I’m giving this a 6 out of 10.

    • bl2d

      Hey, thanks for the read.

  • S.C.

    Sent! Welcome to Scriptshadow!

    • HelTek

      I’m not new to this forum so I don’t really have an excuse, but somehow I missed this years Blacklist collection going around too. If you could save me some searching time and just email it, I’d appreciated it.

      heltekmedia at

  • S.C.

    I read the first ten pages of all five scripts. Each commentator has their own approach, as you’ve probably found out!

  • carsonreeves1

    It’s four months. I screwed up.

  • Eddie Panta


    This one has the feel and vibe of a HAL HARTLEY film, people are speaking their mind, the dialogue is not afraid of being too one the nose, it’s clear that this is a film, the writer is not trying to fool anyone.

    • S.C.

      James Cameron has said you can be too obtuse (think that’s the right word) in dialogue, trying to avoid being “on the nose”. Sometimes on the nose is right.

      I love you.
      Let’s get outta here.
      I’m scared.

      I think sometimes that that excess, endless chat-chat-chat dialogue I and others complain about is a result of people trying to right around the subject, rather than just having people talk straight, say what’s on their mind.

      Dialogue should have verisimilitude – the appearance of real life, but it isn’t real life.

      • Casper Chris

        I get ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m scared’, but why would anyone object to ‘Let’s get outta here’?

        • S.C.

          “Let’s get outta/out of here” has often been cited as the most hackneyed line of dialogue history, along with “Get some sleep now” and “Head ‘em off at the pass” (mainly from loads of westerns).

          Another I could mention would be “You should’ve killed me when you had the chance”.

          But I think all those lines could work in certain circumstances. Just exercise caution. And be cautious when you exercise.

          • Casper Chris

            You cited it as an example of on-the-nose dialogue. Just doesn’t strike me as particularly on-the-nose.
            Anyway, not trying to be contentious. I get your overall point :)

  • Midnight Luck


    BAMBI fights back, “The Rock” as Bambi

    Love this.

  • Scott Reed

    My vote: The Runner

    I could see this as a pretty good movie.

    Need to tighten up the scenes (too long). Concentrate on the momentum of
    the story, not the little details. Fine details are good in sparse doses.

    Also, dialogue is somewhat on the nose, some seems forced, some not necessary.

    Overall, it keeps you wanting to read.

    on Rommies, I’d like to see the opening of the script at the funeral. That’s a setting with a lot of fuel for the fire!

  • Midnight Luck

    Vote: THE RUNNER

    good easy read straight to page 15.
    Nice opener.
    Set up well, and really good writing.
    I cannot say how well the whole script works out by the end, as I have only read to page 15. But based on that, I would read more of this one, but not of the other 4 scripts.
    The other four scripts were not up to the writing of The Runner.
    So Runner takes it.

  • Kirk Diggler

    *****The Runner gets my vote – easily the most polished script this week. Not even close.

    The Runner – give James a name that is suitable to his personality. Rich and James, two white bread names. Call him by a nickname or something with flair.

    -The ‘two plane shadows’ beat is good.
    -Nice reversal on the Rebel yell.
    -The cargo going from marijuana to coke ups the stakes.
    -Nice use of dramatic irony when Bernardo scraps Rich’s car.
    -Another good set piece with the bail out of the plane.

    After twenty pages this writer has a command of his story. Whether he can keep it up is another question, but there’s enough skill on display to send it to Carson.

  • Evangelos

    My vote is for Roomies.

  • Raphael Howard

    Read half of “Mad Muses”. It’s very much an ametuer script. That’s not to say that it’s bad – in fact, the dialogue is strong and the characters are interesting, but there are a number of basic formatting errors, and there is a slightly meandering feel to it.

    I’m giving this a 5 out of 10. Don’t get upset about this. You are talented. You just need to work on technique. Watch a few films, read a few books, write a few scripts. In time,you’ll write something special.

  • walker

    Congratulations to all the writers for being chosen this weekend. I am pressed for time and was only able to quickly glance at the scripts, so I will cast my vote for Fields by Ben Long because I have read it before. I should add that The Runner also looked pretty good.

  • bl2d

    Hey thanks for the read, this is really a great note. Dialogue has always been a struggle for me and anytime someone can give an explanation that makes everything, click so to speak; it tends to be a game changer. That’s what I’ve always liked about this site. The approach on distinct voices is great and will definitely help. Thanks a bunch!

  • Caivu

    Have you ever tried using the etymologies of names? For example, Greg would be a good name for a guard, since that name means “alert” or “watchful”. This can get corny pretty easily, or fall into that Dickens trap you mentioned, but I’ve found it useful as a starting point.
    Researching the most popular names of the character’s birth year and/or country/state can be useful, too.

    • Guest

      I really like that idea no etymologies. I think that’s a clever way to have a name that some of the same roots of the character, but without being as overt as using the actual word itself. I’m always surprised how big of an impact a name can have on how a reader sees the character, and I’m always looking for ways to figure out how to polish up naming strategy!

    • Jeff D

      I really like the idea of etymologies. I think that’s a clever way to have a name that some of the same roots of the character, but without being as overt as using the actual word itself. I’m always surprised how big of an impact a name can have on how a reader sees the character, and I’m always looking for ways to figure out how to polish up naming strategy!

      • Kirk Diggler

        Sometimes it can work, sometime sit can lead to an ‘on the nose’ sounding name for characters, like in b-movie action flicks, protags are given names like Ryder or Stryker.

        I’d go with something that signifies that James isn’t as mature as Rich with either initals (T,J,, J,R,) or a name ending in ‘y’, like Jimmy, Teddy, or Willy, or just give him a nickname that he goes by.

        • Jeff D

          That actually makes a ton of since, since for the most part the other characters serve to build the protagonists character. Doing a compare / contrast to the protagonist using the name is a cool point. Yeah, in the past I usually tried to find either 1.) something that sounded cool or 2.) something that generally resembled the character, but I like the idea of using the name to place the secondary character IN RELATION TO the main character.

  • hickeyyy

    Busy weekend so I didn’t have time to read any pages, but I’m going to cast a vote based on the loglines. FIELDS is my vote.

  • Jeff D

    Thanks for the notes here. I think tightening up description is next up on the upcoming draft, I just want to make sure I can do it without losing the sense of place / world that the story is happening in. I’ve been looking for ways to better balance that, and it seems like there’s some room to lean things out a good bit..

  • Jeff D

    Thanks for the vote! Glad to hear you liked it.

  • Jeff D

    Thanks for the vote, Randall! Good to hear that the tech / pilot jargon wasn’t too overwhelming–I’m still thinking of trimming it down a little bit since it seemed to be a sticking point for a few readers, but it’s good to know I have some flex here :)

  • HRV

    Read all of THE DEVIL WITHIN. Found the pace slow. Not much happens until late…typical slasher story. I won’t rate it against the others since I haven’t read them. Just not enough time. Here are some notes:
    PG. #
    5. Car down road line twice.
    8. Nod(s)
    11. Did Karen forget where her bedroom was?
    16. Lay(s), twitter=flutter
    20. custom(ers) No need to write an actual phone #.
    23. mum=mom (your British is showing)
    24. No need to write END MONTAGE. Next location line indicates that.
    25. Pete is an M.D. suddenly speaks like a redneck.
    30. Pours = drops or shakes out tablet
    51. as (if) it. Where’d her parents go?
    60s. Karen barricaded the door. Why didn’t she unbarricade it?
    76. Saying is: Love of money is root of all evil.
    85. Dr. Black already dead?
    I found when I got to the end I would have to go back over it to clarify what was happening.

  • MickeyHatewood

    Thank you for reading “The Demon Within”.

    I don’t want to bore anyone (unlike my script) but I would like to thank Carson for allowing my script to be available to be read. I also want to thank everyone that posted a comment on my story — I can’t respond to every single comment, I don’t think that would be useful to anyone in anyway if I did. Just want to thank you all for taking the time to do so. It’s appreciated.

    I posted The Demon Within on a separate site, similar to this ( I wont name names) sometime last year. I’ve posted the same script here.

    I received an assignment, working with a production company interested in reviving what some might call a classic horror franchise.

    Now, the assignment turned to dust after a few months — I’m to blame for that. I had to make a choice of working for money aka a job or writing with equipment I would have to sell to eat.

    So, as fate would have it, I received both offers on the same day. I chose both.

    It’s not easy… and it’s not as simple as “oh you dedicate your life to writing, you have to do that all the time”. Man, if only. You can’t write without paper, a pen or a computer, a keyboard. You can dream a lot… but you can’t write the shit down.

    Eventually, I managed both. 12 hour shifts. Talking with people/producers/directors across the globe. We came to conclusions, sorted out first two acts out.

    The reason we fell out , was I was fucking knackered. I couldn’t keep up with what was going on, and sleep deprivation is a killer.

    The third act — which they just wanted me to write, really — kind of just made no sense to me. I didn’t understand how they wanted to get from A to B and then launch a massive C. It was a personal story, then it just went berserk. They wanted me to write their story — but had problems when I objected to parts of it.

    The Demon Within is what it is, it’s not the greatest horror film of all time and it’s not the most gripping. But it’s turned some heads in the business because I know how horror films work.

    I love these type of movies. Silly, realistic, crazy, bizarre.

    Just go nuts.

  • Jeff D

    Thanks! It looks like I still have a long ways to go to get it to 100%, but I’m excited to have a clearer direction on how :)