amateur offerings weekend
I want to try a new exercise today.  I want everyone coming to Amateur Offerings to read at least ONE SCRIPT until you get bored.  Then, share the EXACT MOMENT when you gave up on the script and why.  This is invaluable feedback to writers as most writers have no idea what’s going on in the reader’s head when they read their screenplays.  I expect this to be a helpful exercise.  Also, another reminder that the Scriptshadow 250 Contest deadline is in three and a half months!  Incentive to write your asses off!

Title: The Pool Boys
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Logline: Two brothers reunite after the death of their father and decide to start their own business cleaning pools: their first real client, the mob.
Why you should read: This story is exactly like A Beautiful Mind….except it’s not….at all. We penned this script as an ode to the throwback comedies of our youth (The 90’s) . It’s got good laughs, family values and some heart….and of course, girls. (Nip-Slip on page 36, you’re welcome)
ABOUT: Steve and Tim are both unemployed, and have lots of free-time….a lot. Even so, Steve recently managed to get one of his short stories produced – Mr. Happy, which stars Chance the Rapper and premiered on VICE in March of 2015. — Tim works as a janitor at night at a very prestigious university. He recently solved an extremely difficult mathematic equation that blew away the faculty, considering he is a janitor. He is currently being groomed by one of the professors.

Title: 51 DAYS
Genre: Drama
Logline: Under siege following a gun raid gone wrong, an embattled preacher must fight to protect his flock against an army of federal agents and a rogue disciple hell-bent on ascending to power.
Why You Should Read: Because you enjoy reading screenplays.

Title: Retribution
Genre: Crime-thriller
Logline: After two teens are murdered, a Detroit police lieutenant is hard-pressed to end an unprecedented wave of retributive violence—not against the gang suspected of killing them, but against the gang members’ families and loved ones.
Why you should read: I’ve written a number of scripts, and up to this point they’ve all been fairly comfortable, meaning they were in genres I felt I could do well. Mostly light comedies and family-oriented scripts. But I had an idea for something quite a bit darker and edgier rolling around in my brain for some time now. “Retribution” is the result. — It’s probably the most complex, layered story I’ve written. The challenge for me was to make it a clear and straight-ahead story despite the complicated storyline. I’d love to hear from the Scriptshadow community whether or not they think I’ve succeeded.

Title: Rock ‘N’ Roll Termites
Genre: Family/Action-Adventure
Logline: The biggest secret in music is one of the smallest things on the planet: TERMITES.
Why you should read: Pixar meets Spinal Tap. Animation turned up to 11. That’s not to say I rocked this baby out overnight. I made countless rewrites with the goal being to get it as close to “Pixar quality” as a single writer could get. RNRT made the second round in this past year’s Austin Film Festival screenplay competition. I’m a daily reader of Scriptshadow, for many years now. I love the community and would appreciate any feedback or thoughts, especially since it has been ridiculously hard to sell/pitch/get anyone to read an animation spec. I don’t normally write animation, but this was an idea I couldn’t NOT write. And I’m glad I did, cause it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

Title: OMAHA TOWER
Genre: Thriller/Sci-Fi
Logline: The lone human attendant to the world’s first computer-automated air traffic control tower must avert catastrophe when, upon realizing the computer has rerouted two 747’s into collision course, he receives a mysterious transmission warning that if he lifts a finger to stop it, his family dies.
Why You Should Read: This script is an ode to my dad. He was a Navy pilot who later in life built his own small plane, and the hours of sitting up front with him as a kid listening to the slang-laden pilot/controller chatter on the headset burned a curiosity into me for the weird wonderful inside world of fliers. He passed away in a plane crash due to instrument failure a few years ago, and this is the kind of movie he would have dug.

  • Paul Clarke

    Good to see the SS faithful represented. Not sure about your title page font Somersby, but your writing is a joy to read. Effortless to visualize. If I find the time I’ll certainly give it a read.

    Had a quick look at the others. The logline for Omaha Tower intrigued me the most. The writer paints an interesting world, but by comparison it wasn’t such a smooth read. The opening line “The night’s first flakes flurry past holiday-lit windows.” is a tongue twister right off the bat. While the content intrigues me, it will have to wait until I can concentrate better.

    Good luck to all entrants.

  • Andrea Moss

    Title: Omaha Tower.

    Die Hard in an air traffic control tower? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY, PLEASE!

    ;-)

    • Breezy

      Yeah Im really digging the logline for Omaha Tower. And the subject matter is timely – these days commercial flight homicides land in the news to the point where I wonder how people fly without all those This Crashed That Crashed running through their minds.

      • carsonreeves1

        This is always running through my mind.

    • Paul Clarke

      Except that was Die Hard 2 – and it was terrible.

      The automated control tower adds a very interesting element.

  • Levres de Sang

    Look forward to opening OMAHA TOWER as it sounds like a fascinating update of two classic 70s thriller tropes: the airliner in peril and the creepy phone call… Love the title as well, but that logline is a bit unwieldy. How about:

    Two 747s are imperilled when a lone attendant at the world’s first fully computerized air traffic control tower is threatened by a mysterious radio transmission.

    • carsonreeves1

      Ooh, nice rewording of the logline.

      • Levres de Sang

        Thanks Carson!

        • HRV

          Yes, nicely tightened up.

    • GoJuice

      I agree with all of this post – I’m intrigued for the same reasons, except for the log line. While you’ve certainly cleaned it up, you’ve removed everything that makes it compelling. I think, with respect to all, that people like it because they already know what it’s about from the original logline posted, thus this one is ‘cleaner.’ However, think of a reader or producer or someone reading via a query for the first time. Your revised logline removes specifics and replaces them with generalizations that make it less compelling.

      Perception among people who read 50 loglines a day is that when you see ‘threatened’ or ‘imperiled,’ the writer isn’t sure what the story’s about. Again, think from an outside in. I read all of the loglines and this one is by far the cleanest as presented in Carson’s post, both from a dramatic irony point of view and demonstrated momentum. I can see the movie (it is a great throwback to old thrillers). Lone operator, computerized system (in fairness, you’ve kept this), two planes on a crash course is MUCH more compelling than ‘imperiled’ and let them crash or we kill your family is much more clear and sinister than ‘threatened’.

      You’re right that it’s unwieldy, but it does its job. Yours is a nice tease, but I can see a movie from the original. Just my two cents, feel free to give me change!

      • Levres de Sang

        You make a very valid point in terms of “specifics” and “generalizations” in loglines — especially if my version removes what was compelling about the original. Certainly not what I intended. Ultimately, I suspect loglines are one of the most difficult (and perhaps most misunderstood) aspects of screenwriting and we could probably do with another Thursday article on them.

  • HRV

    Downloaded and ready to go! Best WYSR ever: “Because you enjoy reading screenplays.”

    • Paul Clarke

      I think it’s second best. To date the best would still have to be Grendl’s –

      “Because I wrote it.”

      • S.C.

        That would actually stop me, given how he treats other people.

        Where is he now?

        • Casper Chris

          Watching from the shadows.

          • S.C.

            He’s not DRIVE ME INSANE is he?

        • HRV

          Maybe he got kicked off for nasty name calling.

      • pmlove

        My vote goes to –

        “Because it is largely free of spelling errors.”

        (quoting from memory, I hope I got it right).

        • walker

          Hey thanks, that’s more votes than the script itself got.

    • S.C.

      But I DON’T like reading screenplays. So the screenplay had better be good or I will stop reading it.

  • Nicholas J

    Logline: The biggest secret in music is one of the smallest things on the planet: TERMITES.

    …what.

    • carsonreeves1

      Hey, they’ve made crazier animated movies than that, right? And an animated mockumentary is definitely a fresh take!

    • Randy Williams

      Well, the two do have something in common. They both produce a lot of shit and then they die.

    • S.C.

      A logline should be short, but not THAT short.

    • Casper Chris

      Admit it. It makes you curious as all hell. A teaser if I ever saw one.

      • Nicholas J

        It was the first one I opened.

      • BellBlaq

        Wrong “c” word. I’m not curious, I’m confused. Those words amount to an actual story? To someone other than the author?

  • Matthew Garry

    POOL BOYS

    I stopped at page 11 because:

    -There’s no energy in the dialogue. Exchanges and situations don’t feel dynamic. Characters are relaying information as desired by the writers, they don’t feel spontaneous as if they exist outside of the frame of the story.

    -The rules of the world are not being established clearly. One character is beat to a pulp off the bat for absurd reasons. That didn’t jive with the tone set earlier.

    ( -Sloppiness.
    “HIPPY’S” -> “HIPPIES”
    “seem’s” -> “seems” )

    Specifically I stopped at,
    “Morris scans the room [..] a beautiful YOUNG WOMAN”
    The story is not for me, and this line specifically cemented my belief it’s not going to pick up, but will remain at its current level of engagement.

    Possible fixes:

    -A dialogue problem is usually a character problem. So far we have a archetypal hippie and an archetypal jerk/drunk. Try and make notable assets of any character fall outside of their “base type.” Deepen characters until they become unpredictable. An unpredictable character means your reader can’t slip ahead of them.

    -Initially design scenes to take place at a less suitable location. Rewrite them until they are funny, even in the least favourable setting. Only then transplant the scene to the most funny location, and adjust what you have. Use the set as a magnifier for what’s already present in the scene, not to draw easy laughs to wallpaper over a lack of comedy.

    • 3waystopsign

      I agree with you. I read to page 15 and skimmed to page 30. The dialogue is very stilted, it’s clear I’m reading what the writers want to say and not the characters actually talking to each other. There are also too many grammar mistakes. My vote for top offender is “lactose and tolerant” on page 29.

  • Randy Williams

    I’m a sucker for airplane movies so I think I’ll start with Omaha Tower. The logline also sounds the most intriguing and seems to promise a straightforward and not so complicated read. Not loving the title, though. Omaha reminds me of Peyton Manning.

    Since the Tower is obstinate with the attendant, how about “Control Dour”?

  • Randy Williams

    It’s “TOO much grief” ;).

    • S.C.

      President of the Pedantic Society.

      • pmlove

        My guess is President of the Dry Humour Society (I’m just disappointed the internet era has made it necessary to telegraph this sort of joke with a winky-face, for fear of being branded a ‘Grammar Nazi’).

        • S.C.

          Yeah, it’s one of the oldest jokes in the world!

          Guy #1: You’re the President of the Pedantic Society.
          Guy #2: VICE-President.

  • pirongia

    Okay here we go. My first ever script review.
    The Pool Boys –
    Opening line: Birds chip. Leaves fall.
    I know that leaves fall , but Birds Chip? Where I come from they just fly around and go tweet, tweet. I’ll investigate this and come back to you.
    Now we’ve got two guys high up in a tree and someone knocks on a door.
    What door? Trees have branches,… they don’t have doors.
    You now have a postal delivery service to a forest. I like it.
    Someone tosses a letter high up to the two guys in the tree.
    Please go and try to do this. I bet you can’t get the damn thing to travel more than 3 feet. I couldn’t.
    I got down to page 7, where the dead father is “getting ready for his funeral”.
    This I would love to see…. is he embalming himself?
    Then there’s the punch-up with the garage manager/part time cop over nothing really.
    Please guys, just think about it for a moment.
    Good luck to you
    regards
    john with a capital J

    • carsonreeves1

      Great points here. This is exactly why I wanted to do this exercise. Many writers simply don’t know they’re making such egregious mistakes. It isn’t until someone literally tells them that they’re aware of it.

  • Randy Williams

    OMAHA TOWER

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I like the style of writing here. It’s breezy, it pops. It lays down small snippets of information that quickly form an image or character. For instance a faded “World’s Best Dad” coffee cup conveys a lot about the protagonist here, I thought.

    The tone, however, I thought contrasted with the genre given. It was more action adventure in the vein of a “Die Hard” for me. Writer’s name is Willis. I wonder if that is a deliberate pen name to make readers picture this as a movie? The tone was more comical than I think a thriller should be, more farcical at times in what I read. Didn’t get a Sci-fi feel at all. So, I felt a bit let down with the switch. The only suggestion I could make on the writing is cut short a bit of the dialogue. Sometimes it runs on too long and often with no accompanying visuals to really support it. The voice, in particular, I thought, talked too much. The threat of the “unknown” was really muted that way, I thought.

    Carson wants us to say where we stopped and why.
    I stopped on page 34. I stopped because the protagonist threatens suicide here. I had mixed feelings about that. He was kind of annoying so I didn’t care if he did, and I didn’t really feel invested in him to care whether he lived. I also was feeling I didn’t care if the planes collided. I didn’t know anyone on those planes. The writer almost had me rooting for the planes to collide by making that snooty boss love technology so much that it could do no wrong. I wanted her to be proven wrong.

    I think I said the same thing last week about a script. If the setting is non-routine with non-routine characters or a mix of routine with non-routine, then I prefer being given time to settle with the setting and characters at a slower pace before hell breaks loose. If the setting and characters are routine; a coffeehouse, school, home, etc, then hell, bring on the chaos right away. I was never allowed to really settle here before the voice appeared. I was never really in that tower and almost consumed by trying to understand the attempts at hiding from the security cameras.

    Think it’s a great concept, not the tone I prefer, but a great concept.

  • S.C.

    OMAHA TOWER

    First of all, I wasn’t going to read any screenplays this weekend, but I like Carson’s challenge. And I was really determined to try and read as much of ONE screenplay as I could. Because… I DON’T enjoy reading screenplays.

    I love movies. I love reading great screenplays that might become great movies. But, generally speaking, the way most people write screenplays, I prefer books.

    First of all, I have to pick a screenplay based on its logline (welcome to Hollywood).

    The Pool Boys: Two kids become pool boys for the mob. And? No goal, no conflict, no idea WHY this will be funny.

    51 Days: Don’t get the logline. “Because you enjoy reading screenplays”. I don’t, see above.

    Retribution: GET the logline (just), but it sounds miserable and I’m not in the mood. Sorry, just being honest.

    Rock ‘N’ Roll Termites: Great WYSR. Logline a bit short; guess the writer figures the title tells you everything. Maybe.

    So I choose Omaha Tower. It’s not the most original of ideas:


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xzkVP8oJV4

    But anyway, it seems relevant with the way computers are taking over everything.

    Making notes as I read. Screenplay is written in the manner of professionals. Reasonably easy to read with a few exceptions. Mixing underlining with italics and CAPITALS, sometimes in the same piece of dialogue. I would pick ONE way of emphasizing words (for the record, I think underlining works best, but that’s a personal preference) and then stick with that.

    Also, lots of uses of ellipsis with parenthetical directions, so sometimes a pause could be…. and then sometimes it will be (beat). Not a huge problem, but it might get so.

    OK, Brad’s speech as he’s watching the kids on the camera, all that stuff about diarrhea and butts…

    I wouldn’t.

    Save that stuff for another screenplay. It’s off-putting, particularly with kids involved.

    Page 11 and more toilet stuff. Starting to get a bit fed up, if I’m honest.

    Nothing much happening either, no story. If I was to synopsize the story so far it would be:

    In the near future, all air traffic is computer controlled, with only one person left in charge. Brad McQueen is one such person. After a visit by some schoolkids, Brad finds he is out of toilet paper.

    So I’m going to stop reading for a moment to make a note… I’m theorizing that this is a script which mainly resolves around one person in one location? I’m going to scan through the script and check.

    Mmmm, I’m kind of right. More characters appear later on, some scenes aboard jets. Very EAGLE EYE.

    But here’s the thing: Eagle Eye cut between Shia LaBoeuf and Billy Bob Thornton, between Michelle Monahan and Rosario Dawson. There was a LOT of story. How much story is here? It’s just a couple of planes on a collision course.

    I like simple stories. The story I’m working on now is a simple one.

    OK, page 15 and I’ll bail. Here’s why: FreshAir. That’s from Red Eye (a favorite movie of mine, as it happens). Homage? Maybe. Or a lack of imagination?

    We have the Air Force One crashing with a passenger jet from Air Collision, the airline from Red Eye, the computer from Eagle Eye.

    There’s homage and there’s subconscious absorption of cultural references and I’m not sure which this is.

    You have to be original. You have to. This subject has been covered quite a bit.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/4b/Crowded_sky.jpg/200px-Crowded_sky.jpg

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6d/Airport_nineteen_seventy_five_movie_poster.jpg

    You need a fresh take on it.

    Advice for the rewrite: Write a better opening. This is a film about planes colliding. It shouldn’t open with a man watching telly for exposition.

    Have him be a pilot, landing a plane in an emergency. Then cut to his new job. For contrast.

    Look through your outline. Cut out any extraneous scenes (obviously). Then see if you can’t add some outside action. For example, a (female?) FBI agent tries to track down the terrorists while the hero wrestles with air traffic control. Cut between the two.

    Consider changing Air Force One to another plane with another VIP.

    Instead of colliding planes in mid-air, how about the villains are trying to crash a plane into the White House?

    New ideas. Needs some new ideas.

    • brenkilco

      Maybe the tedious opening is an homage to Airport 75 where you have to endure like an hour of Helen Reddy singing while dressed as a nun and Gloria Swanson trying to act not dead before the planes collide.

      • S.C.

        Omaha’s opening is actually tedious because I think the writer wants to get to the main story too fast. He knows he has to put something in there at the beginning, but he can’t fill it up with story because he doesn’t have much of one.

        The opening of EARTHQUAKE is very good. Ava Gardner tries to commit suicide to get the attention of her husband, Chuck Heston. Then an earthquake strikes and she wakes up! She was faking it, and Heston finds the pills in the toilet.

        That’s great writing (Mario Puzo or George Fox?), great OLD SCHOOL writing. We know there’s going to be an earthquake, we get that there’s this tense relationship between the two characters, so much stuff is set up within the first few minutes.

        Also the underrated AIRPORT ’77 – the plane doesn’t crash into over half-an-hour in. But there’s loads of stuff about the hijackers conspiring, Jack Lemmon’s new job, Jim Stewart’s daughter. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

        Story and character. Building a screenplay largely around a single character in a single location is very clever, but you’re reducing the amount of story and character, least as I see it.

      • Randy Williams

        LOL that was funny.

    • Bluedust

      Get me Rex Kramer.

      • S.C.

        He beats up a Scientologist!

  • pmlove

    RETRIBUTION

    First one I looked at.

    The concept is great. Play out Death Wish, with Bronson as the bad guy. The conflict is good and nicely underplayed, which gives it authenticity. Plus, we wisely have some light relief – although there don’t appear to be many happy relationships in the script, Marietti gives a lift to the mood so it doesn’t become overly bleak.

    I don’t think you need the scene on p21 outside the house, it’s just repeating other information we already have.

    I stopped around p29. The investigation is fairly run of the mill and, ultimately, not what I came for. I found myself scanning for the start of the revenge killings. I’ve seen scenes of chasing guys through backstreets etc before – you need to show me earlier that this script isn’t going to be a routine investigation of the two kids’ deaths.

    I’d suggest seeing if you can pull the revenge element forward and, possibly, give some earlier hints towards Marc’s character so we know what’s coming if we haven’t read the logline. Right now, he just seems like ‘absent father’ not Liam Neeson.

    Be curious to hear what others think.

    • pmlove

      Had a chance to have a look at the others.

      MY VOTE: RETRIBUTION

      A quick why on the others:

      POOL BOYS – Is that a spelling mistake on the second word? I’m normally forgiving of typos, but this is a bit much. Unless birds do chip. Stopped – p1

      OMAHA – Enjoyed the opening and the fact there was a clear theme/comment on society underlying what will become an action movie. There was a little too much of Brad fussing around in the opening. Others have commented how he wouldn’t get the job but given this seems fairly light in tone, I think you could add something like Brad being old friends with someone higher up who respects him from back in the day, coupled with the fact that nobody thinks he is necessary anyway (maybe they have outsourced all the air traffic to a third party provider and he’s literally there as the last man on the ground).

      ROCK AND ROLL TERMITES – I’m always wary of music-themed films as, inevitably they require some great music, which means you have to have some original great music, or buy some. Plus it’s hard to keep the story going if we’re enjoying a musical number. In short: not my sort of thing. Stopped p4, nothing really going on and a lot of characters / exposition. But as I say, not really my thing.

      51 DAYS – I think Caivu covers this pretty well.

  • Felip Serra

    POOL BOY

    Somehow got to page 38.

    I really labored to get to page 12. I think the beginning is muddy. The whole scene at the commune is just thrown at you and nothing is sticking, most importantly our main character Chip. He really made no impression and it took me 10 pages to “see” him. And I can’t tell whether you’re mocking such communities or trying earnestly to show what one is like, but I would pick one and stick to it.

    So why did I keep reading? I mean, I get it. It’s got a little “Savage” Steve Holland vibe, harmless and naïve. Seems good natured.

    Once we got out of the forest things improved a little. Morris was easier to see, but you’re introducing me to a drunk? Am I supposed to love this person? And they’re Dad’s dead? Can we, I don’t know, talk about this for a second? And May-May? Really!?

    In the things that should be permanently retired: Brothers who call each other “Brother” or “Bro” or (the worst) “Baby Bro”. I cringe at this shit; it reeks of “movie”.

    By page 34 I asked: Where’s the story? I’m on page 34 and there’s nothing. We’ve somehow floundered a third the way and we got two weirdoes, a dead dad, and an archaic stereotype (the aforementioned May-May).

    I officially stopped at 38. Why? Morris stalking Heather. Creepy. Then, the next piece of dialogue, from Chip: “Everything OK Brother?” (And I’m done…)

    My humble suggestion: Strip it down. You have two brothers who are kind of estranged in the wake of their Dad’s death (just like “Six Feet Under”). Start there; that small compression of time has so much life changing shit. But the pool thing, I don’t know. It’s a “small” premise. And we’re supposed to watch this on the big screen, no?

  • Felip Serra

    ROCK N’ ROLL TERMITES

    Made it to the bottom of page 1.

    Two words: Who’s Nicky?

    • S.C.

      Agree, he needs an introduction.

      Also, “Fashionably dressed termites, representing multiple genres of music” strikes ME as lazy. Slow down, take the time to describe the different termites.

      I can wait.

      • Linkthis83

        “I can wait.”

        I humorously disagree :) Since you’ve stated you don’t like reading screenplays.

        • S.C.

          Oddly, though, I could read more if people just slowed down!

          I DO like reading GOOD screenplays, just not screenplays in general. I admire people who can plough through screenplays and give feedback. I’m always looking for a good excuse to stop reading and do something else.

          There’s a lot to say about this, but I’ll save it for this weekend.

  • Randy Williams

    ROCK N ROLL TERMITES

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I hate termites. I live in a building that is invested with them. Their waste is everywhere. The landlord doesn’t care. The property is more valuable than the building. One day I’ll be able to borrow sugar from my neighbors without knocking on their door.
    I also am not a big animation fan.
    So, maybe I shouldn’t comment on this script, and I only read ten pages,
    but I will.

    Describe the termites. Does everyone know what they look like? I’m not sure I do and I live with quite a few. There is no description here. You’re also supposed to, as an animation writer, inspire the artists at every turn with how you describe characters, are you not?

    Not a fan of the voice-over here. I think you could show all that.

    I like the idea there’s these other worlds around us that we can’t see filled with characters much like us. I also like the idea of there’s a symbiotic relationship between us and those worlds. I saw this other world right away with this script, and loved it. Like the Nicky character….but the relationship with humans was muted. I wanted more.

    Why not start with a specific human, maybe a guy they feel some empathy for? A musician who always wanted to play professionally but settled for being an Orkin pest control guy? He’s having his big break, some audition for a talent show like America’s got talent or something, so they’re working behind the scenes to make his guitar sound better? He’s hitting chords but missing. They do their chewing, chords get better, audience responding…Meanwhile the bad termites are threatening to close the auditions down because some inspector is noticing cracks on the stage or something.

    Something like this would give me immediately a clear goal for the termites which I could follow and an endearing message of their empathy with a human.

    Good concept. Play with it.

  • klmn

    Carson, it’s good to see you trying something different with AOW.

    The title is better than last week too.

    • carsonreeves1

      I put some time into it this time. :)

  • Caivu

    I’ll take today’s suggestion and read until I get bored.

    51 Days

    Pg. 1-15

    -Is “minacious” a word the average reader would know? Why not just use “menacing”?
    -How does a photo of an angry man ooze shock value?
    -“heavy lines, high miles” I’m guessing this means David a a worn-looking face, right?
    -Why not intro the MAN as Elijah, and then describe him as the same man on the newspaper when he turns around? That could save space.
    -“to rival the killing machine cradled in his arms” Consider cutting this part, as it makes James’ description rather wordy.
    -Really abrupt scene transition on page 6. We hear helicopters, and then the very next scene cut to the aftermath? We don’t get to see any action at all? That’s disappointing. And I get that this group is some kind of cult, but It would be nice to know some of their beliefs by this point. The dialogue between the various members doesn’t seem cult-like.
    -Who’s Peter?
    -I’m 10 pages in and I have only the barest hint at what this Mount Ebal group believes, and absolutely no idea why they were raided by the Feds.
    -This whole scene with Rebecca feels like it should take place much later in the script, like around page 45 or so. All her accusations concern things we haven’t seen, because there’s not been enough time to see them.
    -“magniloquence” Which is something the author seems fond of, as well. Again, is the average reader going to know what that means? If your readers are Googling your $20 words, they’re not reading your script.
    -Elijah seems pretty uncharismatic for a cult leader.
    -I’m guessing Abigail was the dead girl from earlier? I haven’t seen her alive, so I don’t really care if she’s dead, quite frankly.

    Stopped at page 17.

    I think right now my biggest issue with this script is the pacing. It starts off with a pretty tense opening, but then we don’t get to see any of the ensuing firefight. Characters who end up getting killed come back later through flashbacks without any introduction of them beforehand (well, one does, anyway). After the opening there’s a lot of domestic stuff, but to me it was insufficiently cult-like or revelatory to keep my interest. Rebecca berating Elijah seems like something that should happen later in the siege, like around day 25. Having it then would allow Elijah’s weaknesses to be shown.
    Jimmy, if you haven’t hashed out exactly what Mount Ebal’s beliefs are, I’d strongly suggest you do. Make it specific, and then you can dole out that information through dialogue. If you have done this, I’m not getting a sense of it yet; it’s all been sort of generic so far.

  • Randy Williams

    51 DAYS

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Read to page 31. Nothing really stopped me there. I want to read more. I just stopped there to make a note and seemed like a good place to stop.
    I really like this. Writing is terse and powerful. Story is involving. Certainly tremendous actor-bait, I thought with the character of Elijah. A few words escaped me, “minacious”? “prie-dieu” Why use words that makes the reader feel stupid?

    The tone is one of “a dark cloud of uncertainty” I read someone else’s comments on this script and I unlike that commenter, I did not feel at all disappointed or deprived I didn’t see a battle. I LOVED that we only see the aftermath. It only adds to the unease.

    My thoughts are to make that aftermath more explicit, really show us the blood and pain, spread around the compound. Make that compound a character more than you do. Use weather against the windows, sounds of the compound. As it is now, the Feds are this dark force outside that any one of us could internalize as a dark force that haunts us. I’d push that even more. Instead of us hearing Elijah’s conversation with the Feds by telephone, maybe we only see him talking, but he fills the others in on what he said. That would add to that unease.

    On page 16, I felt Elijah’s angst was stretched a little too much there, wanted to get to some other business. I’d cut that conversation with his wife there, it’s covered ground.

    On page 31, where I stopped. The woman talks about negotiating for milk for the babies. Usually these groups are into hoarding and survival skills and wouldn’t they have a good supply of everything?

    Anxious to get back to it, but other scripts call.
    Really strong one to beat, I think.

    • Jimmy

      Randy, I just wanted to say a quick thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to read the entire script and for your kind words. I’m glad you found it worthwhile. It certainly means a lot. All the best!

  • Poe_Serling

    My pick this week: RETRIBUTION

    Clean and easy read – a professional sheen from start to finish. Engaging characters. Solid dialogue. For me, the ending packed a real emotional punch.

    The bottom line regarding this project: I thought it was just a good old-fashioned revenge thriller… with more than a few compelling twists and turns along the way.

    Personally, I liked the title font – kinda tipped me off that I was in for a gritty ride from the get-go.

    A couple of minor issues:

    >>Page 106

    MARC
    I don’t think I’m the one to *convincer* her, Lieutenant…We haven’t been especially
    communicative lately.

    *convince

    >>Page 1

    “…clambering into cabs… ”

    I always thought clamber meant to climb awkwardly upward using hands and feet.

    Thanks for sharing your work, Somersby.

    • Levres de Sang

      I also like the title font, but it’s giving me more of a contemporary horror or serial killer vibe rather than straight crime thriller.

  • Zero

    Notes on ‘Rock N Roll Termites':

    I like non-human characters, and definitely like animation, so that’s a factor. On the other hand, I’m reviewing this early in the morning as I drink my first coffee of the day.

    The logline provided isn’t actually a logline – it’s a tagline, something you’d see on a poster or hear as VO on a promotional trailer. It’s a good tagline, IMO. But not at all a logline.

    I got confused on page two. Are the termites flying? How can they lean against a wall if they’re flying? Are they just out in the open where humans can see them?

    Also confused on page four. Is Inferno a Human band or a Termite one? It wasn’t immediately clear, and only after reading on did I learn that it was a Human band. When you’re mixing Humans with Humanoid Termites, you need to take special care to identify which is which.

    ‘Let’s do our best, at being our worst.’ I don’t know how I feel about this. It’s really cheesy and common. But maybe it’ll be better as I read on?

    The author of this script should look at last year’s CANARY IN A COAL MINE script for inspiration on how to introduce a small secret town of anthropomorphic animals. CANARY also featured a singing competition, oddly enough.

    I stopped reading at page nineteen. Maybe I’m just not a music guy, but it just got repetitive and boring with this many musical references. Now that I think about it, would the audience that would want to watch a movie about anthropomorphic termites (i.e. young kids) know who Richards, Joplin and Morrison are? I really doubt it.

    Get some modern references in there! At least rock music from the last 15 years, but I’d encourage expanding into other musical genres too, like Rap and Pop.

  • Lucid Walk

    OMAHA TOWER
    You have my deepest condolences

  • S.C.

    Way OT:

    I like it. Think it’s got a lot of potential.

    But you know some people are gonna moan about it.

    • Caivu

      Something I’ve been wondering is if they just pulled relevant sound bites from elsewhere, or if Charlie Rose, Neil deGrasse Tyson, etc. actually make cameos.

      • charliesb

        I’m guessing yes to Charlie Rose, it sounds like he might be having a conversation with the Holly Hunter character.

    • jw

      Not so much moan and groan, but just ask the question WHY? Why on Earth do we need this? It’s a cash grab and there’s really no other logical explanation. The script has been around forever and off the coat tails of Marvel taking over the universe someone said, “this is DC’s moment.” And, do you notice there’s only 1 line in the teaser spoken by our main characters? This is for a variety of reasons, but what we see primarily here is that those reasons come down to someone knowing and understanding that the lines could be cheesy and/or Affleck can’t deliver them without seeming like a douche. It seems to me that based on this line it’s clear to see that they hacked Affleck’s voice to death in the studio because any natural inflections this guy makes hardly scream Robin, let alone Batman. It just seems like boring re-hash to me.

      • carsonreeves1

        You may be right but Affleck’s face looked pretty badass in this. He definitely LOOKS like Batman. When he opens his mouth, that’s another story, but hey, you can’t have it all.

    • carsonreeves1

      I talk about this in this weekend’s newsletter. Coming soon!

    • klmn

      Is that Catwoman? Yikes.

    • Midnight Luck

      Maybe I’m dense, but WHY exactly would Superman and Batman be fighting? or against each other?
      From everything I know about the characters, they have a very similar, if not the same goal in mind.
      It makes no sense to me why it would be called Batman v Superman.
      no I haven’t read the script, and maybe it would clear it up.
      But I think there is a problem from the most basic premise: It makes no sense.

      • Casper Chris

        There’s only room for one sheriff in this town.

        But yea, what a dumb cash grab.

      • Caivu

        From what I understand:
        At the end of Man of Steel, Superman gave the government an ultimatum: he’ll help them (and the rest of the world by extension, I guess?), but only on his terms. This coupled with the fact that he’s basically a god means that he’s holding the entire world hostage, especially in the event of something humans wouldn’t be able to fix on their own. If nothing else, he’s already destroyed a major metropolitan area pretty much single-handedly. Lots of reasons for him to be a threat.
        To defeat something like that, you need lots of tech, which is where I think Lex and Bruce pool their resources. Sure, Batman and Superman may have similar ideologies, but if neither of them knows that, why wouldn’t they fight given these circumstances?

        I’m probably totally off-base here, but that’s my guess.

      • S_P_1

        More than likely the underlying basis of this movie is the Batman graphic novel, Batman the Dark Knight Returns. The long running comic book debate is Batman is the superior fighter compared to Superman. But Superman is godlike in his power. Basically the writers allowed Batman to win a fight in the comics. Its the same premise in the Avengers. They build Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow up to the superhuman levels of the Hulk, Thor and Iron Man so they won’t look so underwhelming.
        Basically DC over the years has tried to retcon Superman so he won’t be this unstoppable alien super god on Earth. They have imposed artificial limits on his abilities. If they leave Superman at his full abilities that means they have to come up with superior adversaries. They would rather take the easy way out and limit what he can do.
        Only one individual successfully nullified Superman. Lex Luther turned the sun into a red star taking away Superman’s power.
        It would be a challenging writing assignment, creating challenges and opponents worthy of Superman’s ability.
        Personally the best storylines to me are when Superman gets weary of solving the world’s problems. He starts taking long sabbaticals. When he comes back he’s always disappointed things are worse. Since he’s an alien he gets to view Earth from a 3rd person viewpoint. He never has to accept the ideals of humanity. He just chooses to do so.

  • Caivu

    Retribution

    That font on the title page is one of the sillier I’ve seen. Why did you use it?

    Pg. 1-8
    -“It’s raining. Hard.” Your very next sentence makes these two redundant.
    -I like how there’s a tension underneath much of the dialogue, particularly between Marc and Tecca.
    -“Let’s call him HOODIE #1.” Maybe just a personal thing, but I don’t like lines like this. Just call him HOODIE #1 if that’s what you’re going to call him.
    -“What d’ya doing?” This is nitpicky, but when I tried saying that out loud it felt awkward. “Whatcha doing?” seems better.
    -“Hoodie #1 racks a bullet into the chamber” I’m a little confused as to what’s being described here. Is Hoodie pulling the slide back? There wouldn’t be any need for him to do that if he’s using pretty much any type of pistol.
    -Good opener.

    Pg. 9-15
    -Police procedural stuff. Domestic stuff with what I’m guessing is one of the robbers (maybe even the shooter). Not bad, but nothing in those pages is really grabbing me.

    Stopped at page 15.

    I really like the opener. There was an escalating tension to it that I think is nicely done, but the problem with this comes once that tension is released (the boys’ deaths). I just didn’t see anything to take its place. The police procedural elements just weren’t compelling enough for me.
    I also like what little I’ve seen of the characters; not enough for me to really know them or for them to be fully fleshed out, but enough to identify them.

  • Randy Williams

    THE POOL BOYS

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I’m not a fan of the splitting drama/comedy genre. Am I punished if I laugh during the dramatic parts? Reading what I read of it, I think you’re safe with just “comedy”.

    This was harmless, entertaining to a point. Not particularly funny but comfortable like some old shoes. There are long stretches of ho-hum dialogue and then lightning bolts of brilliance like the girl saying that she finds one of the guys different from most guys. “You pick up a few things in the wild.”

    Almost stopped at page 10 with the stereotypical Asian, but stopped completely at page 20. Just too long getting to the log line.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to another crop of amateur candidates.
    Apologies for being slightly absent as of late.
    Since I wrapped up my last spec, I’ve been developing a new web series.
    Might as well, it won’t be long before all the industry gate keepers proclaim…
    That you must have a feature, TV pilot AND a web series in your arsenal.

    My Vote: RETRIBUTION.
    Honorable Mention: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TERMITES.

    THE POOL BOYS
    Read to page 8.

    Oooof, those opening sentence grammar bombs are a real kick in the pants.
    Sends the message that you didn’t wordproof your script.
    Which tells the reader they’re in for a bumpy time. A big red flag.
    Industry readers will take any excuse to dismiss an unknown writer.
    Wordproofing is such an easy way to avoid the trash bin.

    Also, not encouraged by going right to an audio gag.
    That’s a sitcom trope. Not a solid way to open your film.
    We want to get cozy with your concept, not laugh track jokes.
    Same with two pages of shut eyes and talking. Not cinematic at all.

    Maybe that door isn’t such a drab barrier. It’s a hot chick with a big sword!
    And when Chip gets close, she turns into something else. He freaks!
    You can VISUALIZE something fun for the reader. Grab our attention.
    We can learn a lot about Chip by how his FEARS manifest in the opener.

    I’d rather NOT know the details of the letter. It’s a MYSTERY BOX.
    And that box would COMPEL the reader to keep turning pages.
    Don’t give it all away in a meaningless voiceover.
    Let us wonder just a little. Ponder Chip’s situation. Speculate.
    When readers are doing that, their SITUATIONAL AWARENESS skyrockets.

    I feel like Chip should REJECT this plea at first.
    Then Peacefox can impart some data about Chip’s flaw/backstory.
    He’s an authority figure. We’ll believe everything he says about Chip.
    So use your MENTOR character to inform readers about your protag.

    Morris’ reaction is so over the top and hateful, I’m done here.
    No one that upset about a loved one spouts buckets of exposition.
    When emotions feel counterfeit, readers tend to tune out.
    There’s a lot of tweaks you can make here to facilitate the read. Good luck.

    51 DAYS:
    Read to page 12.

    After two pages of decent build up, that headline didn’t dazzle me.
    It should give us some CLUE, instead of extending the reader’s confusion.
    When you intentionally do this, you’re ALIENATING your audience.
    There’s only so much of that readers will tolerate before they bail.
    Doesn’t take long for the reader to feel dumb in these situations.

    Not sure you need the opener at the gas station at all.
    I’d be more rooted in the situation if we started at the Center.
    That newspaper can just as easily be seen at their compound.
    You can save two pages at the gas station. That scene reads flat.

    Jarring jump to flash forward to mid-conflict and bodies piling up.
    I’m sure there’s tons of TENSION to be milked from the Fed’s arrival.
    That’s also a great time to learn about the details of this raid.
    Is Elijah just or just a criminal? What’s the agenda/GOAL for the Feds?
    All these scenes will naturally fill in the data that readers need.

    Cultists carrying on about a dead woman I know nothing about is static.
    Again, this alienates the reader. I’m on the outside of your story.
    You must find ways to allow readers a point of entry into your tale.
    The Feds can clue us in. We can get a DOSSIER from an authority figure.

    Until your anchor the reader in your world, we’re adrift.
    All this heated backstory-heavy cultist dialogue drives me away.
    Twelve pages of always being the least informed in a scene is enough.
    I don’t know anything about the situation or the characters.
    Most of the dialogue feel likes like a checklist of facts to be declared.
    Which you don’t need if you let the Fed’s arrival naturally play out the conflict.

    ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TERMITES:
    Read to page 15.

    If it were me, I would’ve put the contest results into your WYSR.
    Being a 2014 Screencraft Family Friendly Finalist looks pretty cool on a resume.

    I’m fine with not revealing Nicky pre-voiceover. Teasing the reveal is fine.
    But you’ve chosen a UNISEX name. So I don’t know Nicky’s gender.
    Which prevents me from “hearing” the voice of your narrator.
    I can’t tell if it’s a man or a woman. Give us a CLEAR INTRO eventually.
    Generally, it’s a good rule of thumb to avoid gender neutral names.

    The first rule of Pixar storytelling involves protag introduction.
    Showing your protag doing something they’re passionate about is great.
    Why? Because when a character EXPRESSES themself, we learn a ton about them.

    And I have to say the opening voiceover fits right in with that mantra.
    Nicky is my clear ambassador into a fantasy world with new rules.
    Very encouraging start. Not only that, I’ve already learned something new:
    Termites eat twice as fast when listening to Rock ‘N’ Roll!
    How cool is that?!? I looked it up after your cool opener.
    I hope this scientific fact actually made it into the script.

    One big potential caveat here is: Music Clearance.
    If all the songs in your tale are original, I don’t think this will fare well.
    But if you can get a known music catalog in there, that will help a lot.
    These days most successful kid franchises directly tie into pop culture.

    There’s another logic gap that came up, most guitars aren’t wood anymore.
    Sure, there’s acoustic. But those are only good for mopey power ballads.
    Not too many wooden electric guitars these days. Limits the premise a tad.
    Buddha should make clear the balance between Creation and Destruction.
    Destruction is not inherently evil. It’s a part of a greater cycle. Ditch the hate.

    Sometimes the setting confuses me. I think we’re in the human world…
    Only later to find out it’s the termite equivalent.
    I don’t think BLIND HATE is the way to go with Nicky. I’ll stop here.

    Maybe Nicky comes from a long line of Destroyers and he wants to EVOLVE.
    You see how that takes ugly HATE and replaces it with HOPES and DREAMS?
    That’s the stuff multi-platforming family friendly franchises are made of.

    OMAHA TOWER:
    Read to page 15.

    With all due respect to your heartfelt WYSR, the logline derailed me.
    Just one guy for an entire airport. I’m sorry, but that’s just silly.
    No one would ever back that plan. I would never fly anywhere near there.
    Even that robot car spec, OVERRIDE, flatlined after all that initial buzz.
    And that had a popcorn premise that I could get behind. Robot cars are coming.

    But our paranoid culture would never subscribe to something like this.
    Unfortunately, it seems your hostage crisis hinges on this absurdity.
    Not to mention it feels like an unrewarding take on Die Hard 2. Sorry.
    I love popcorn action flicks, but the concept needs a sliver of logic.
    Kind of a shame too, because you’re a talented writer.
    It’s obvious you have a passion for the craft.

    Only in movie logic would Brad be chosen to work with your supercomputer.
    No agency would select Brad. Cuz he has zero respect for the project.
    Kids on tour has been in a lot of action movies with control rooms.
    To avoid comparisons, find a way to INNOVATE from those known tropes.

    Brad wisecracks far too much. No one would put up with him at work.
    I’m sure they could find anyone with a better attitude.
    The sour old school lead is another old hat action standard.
    And the snarky seemingly omniscient villain sends me packing.

    It’s great that you love these films. I do too, author.
    But unless your tale can INNOVATE, all you do is remind us of their greatness.
    We’re thinking about Speed and Die Hard, instead of your story.

    Fun writing from a talented author, but the concept left me cold.
    Whatever’s different about your take, put it front and center.
    The automated airport plot device is just frosting on the same old cake. Good luck.

    RETRIBUTION:
    Read to page 25.

    Easy read, not a surprise given the source.
    Though it seems odd the boys don’t use Waze or some other app to navigate.
    GPS has been standard for a long time, even in my poor neighborhood.
    Irks me to no end to see a murder hinge on a logic gap and convenient timing.
    Everyone uses their cellphones or GPS device to navigate these days.

    Not sure why we needed the domestic stuff at home with the kids.
    Consider starting with the detective and then filling in the details.
    Doesn’t read like its story critical to see the entire murder happen.
    Because now, I’m ahead of the cops. I have to wait for them to catch up.
    These kinds of scenes tend to feel unrewarding to readers. Get rid of them.

    Whereas, if we arrive with the police, the reader only gets RELEVANT FACTS.
    And it’s delivered by authority figures, the cops. So we believe them.
    This take on your opener would draw me into your story. Consider it.
    Overall though, this is a solid read with a genuine crisis to resolve.

    The video content in italics is tiring. Have a cop sum it up for us, please.
    I’m not complaining about your formatting, it’s pretty clean.
    Save for a curiously thin margin at the bottom of some of the pages.
    The Burden of Investment (BOI) of those video logs was weighing me down.
    Giving us more cop time accelerates your tale and eliminates the BOI on readers.

    I recommend cutting out the opener showing the kids’ murder.
    You eliminate so many potential MYSTERY BOXES far too soon.
    And there wasn’t anything in those pages that I didn’t gather later.
    Don’t pass up this juicy opportunity to compel the reader to be observant and reduce BOI.

    And I also think it will allow you to get to the RETRIBUTION part of your tale sooner.
    It’s all over your logline, but there isn’t a single hint of it in Act One.
    However, this is the script I’d like to give full notes on for AF. Nice work!

    • Poe_Serling

      Retribution…

      “I recommend minimizing the opener… You eliminate so many potential MYSTERY BOXES far too soon. And there wasn’t anything in those pages that I didn’t gather later. Don’t pass up this juicy opportunity to compel the reader to be observant and reduce BOI.”

      Great suggestion.

      By keeping the opening a bit more murky in terms of what really went down at the convenience store, you not only heighten the air of mystery surrounding the crime but you keep the audience actively engaged deep into the 2nd act of your story.

      -spoiler alert-

      I think it would also create a greater impact with one of the bigger twists of the script – finding out that the one gang was impersonating another to pull off the robberies.

  • Randy Williams

    RETRIBUTION

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Read to page 20 and would like to read more. The writing is really sharp. Honestly, I could smell the rain in those opening pages. Visuals are stunningly evocative. I felt really bad for those boys and angry too. Viscerally, from the standpoint of vulnerability, that moved me.

    My chief concern is that I haven’t seen anything yet that surprises me. It’s standard stuff as far as the plot and dialogue. The brilliance has all been in moving me with that vulnerability and the visual description.

    Hope to read more. But, honestly, I wish this writer had written Omaha Tower.

  • GYAD

    The two scripts that sounded most interesting to me were 51 DAYS (as someone who is interested in Waco) and RETRIBUTION (as someone always interested in anything that Somersby writes).

    51 DAYS
    p.1 Calling it a “vehicle” then specifying later that it’s a “run-down station wagon” is unnecessary. Use the latter description throughout.
    p.2 Nerdy detail but back in the 90s ATF didn’t wear camo.
    p.2 “minacious” is needlessly obscure; just say “threatening” instead.
    p.3 “prie-dieu” is also needlessly obscure; just say “prayer desk” instead.
    p.3 A crucifix? Are they Catholics?
    p.6 What happened in-between the scene in the bedroom and the one in the chapel? They feel continuous but clearly a substantial amount of time has passed. This needs to be made clear; as it is we have Elijah healthy one moment and bleeding from a GSW the next.

    I stopped at page 15. At the moment it’s too much like Waco, only without the interesting details (for instance, it was key at Waco that the news vans arrived before the ATF). The big problems for me are that I don’t feel like I know any of the characters – I’m not even sure who the lead is; I though it was David, then Elijah – and that the set-up of the siege assumes that you know what happened at Waco in order to make sense. We skip from the ATF turning up to a gunfight happening off screen to a state of siege which we don’t actually see; we need those crucial scenes where the gunfight breaks out and the siege is put in place.

    RETRIBUTION
    p.0 I may be the odd one out but I quite like the unusual title font.
    p.1 Probably worth saying that the Bellwood boys are white (which crops up on p.10).
    p.8 It might be better to describe Brant as “Ojibwe Indian” instead of just plan “Ojibwe”; I know I had to Google to find out what it meant.
    p.9 “One black, one white” — I know this formula is nice but street gangs, especially in the USA, are usually mono-racial (almost certainly so if they’re wearing colours).
    p.18 I like the cashier…

    I read up to page 25. It’s professional, mistake-free and easy to follow but it feels a little predictable and slow; we’ve all seen a million of these gritty cop stories. It’s particularly hard with this sort of character-driven script because you’re in competition with TV which can take even more time over setting up and exploring the characters. What makes this stand apart from them is the concept – the retributive violence – which doesn’t turn up until page 37 (I flicked forward out of curiosity). As the script is already 113 pages long it might be worth trimming some scenes to bring that forward, perhaps from the eight pages it takes for the boys to get killed in the robbery.

    Of the two, my pick is easily RETRIBUTION.

  • Linkthis83

    RETRIBUTION

    Congrats for making into AOW, Somersby! The following is just a list of thoughts, notes, reactions, and being a tad nit picky:

    (spoilers below)

    TITLE PAGE = you used different font – big effing deal – I like it – and even if I didn’t – so effing what – it’s a title

    p1 = clambering = agree with @Poe_Serling:disqus about its usage here.

    p1 = “already creeping” = creeping

    p2 = “soon as soon as we can” = soon as soon as

    p3 = I don’t like the reason the boys exit. If Wyatt had said that dad had taken them this way before…It makes sense. I know they are kids, but it still doesn’t jive. Hell, you could even make it so Noah just needs to piss.

    p4 = “map me a way outta here.” = this also doesn’t work for me because he hands Wyatt a cell phone when he says this – which to me, means it’s a least a smart phone – which would have the ability to mark their location quickly and finding a way back to the interstate easily. Wyatt states he needs to know their current location and you use this as a wonderful way to show us the status of the environment, but getting there doesn’t feel real.

    p8 = maybe note that Ojibwe is a Native American people (had to look this up)

    p8 = After shooting Noah, why does the guy have to rack a bullet into the chamber before firing again? I’m no gun expert, but this seemed strange to me. I little research explained to me that when a new magazine is loaded into a gun, you will need to “rack” in order to load the first bullet into the chamber. After that, upon firing the weapon, the remaining bullets will automatically move into the chamber (by design).

    -a gurney with a covered body being pushed towards an ambulance (means this person is living)

    -at this moment, I dislike injecting humor here from Marietti – it just doesn’t FEEL right based on what you’ve set up thus far. Not because you can’t show Marietti’s personality, but for the sake of making us witness this tragedy.

    -This discussion of the colors and not being able to identify them feels off to me as well – gangs use bold colors – I really believe the colors would be easily identifiable – probably the ONLY real lead they would get here.

    Not matter how many gangs, I’m doubtful it there might be speculation on whether or not it was the Taupes or the Mauves

    p10 = why are we getting this info from a UNIFORM? Why isn’t it Ivestigator Marietti delivering this info?

    p10 = “Looking for a score, what else.” = I really dislike Marietti’s disposition here. Unless you are showing us he’s a shit investigator and a sweeping generalizer.

    p10 = How were both boys ID’d? I assume Noah from his driver’s license.

    -I swear to make this opening stuff more credible, you have Brant and Marietti actually working the scene trying to understand HOW these two boys were killed outside this convenience story robbery in a bad Detroit neighborhood. Then based on that deduction, that leads Brant to the sneakers idea.

    -You can even have Marietti suggesting that the boys went to a Pistons game AND decided to score drugs if you wanted. Does the one kid still have his Pistons jersey under his shirt, in the car, did he put it back on? Thought that might be a clue as well – although wearing a jersey does not mean he attended a game – unless he’s from Grosse Pointe, the game just let out, and they aren’t that far from the stadium.

    p10 = Grosse Point = Grosse Pointe

    p14 = time-stepped = time-stamped

    p14 = the gang color is Chartreuse? Perhaps I was wrong about these gangs. Hopefully the Granny Smiths don’t move into the neighborhood ;)

    p16 = who requested warehouse footage to be secured? This is one of those orders Brant should bark out during the crime scene investigation.

    p16 = does the low rider not show up in any of this footage? This is not a ding against the script/story – I couldn’t remember the angles of the cars in their set ups.

    p16 = “We’re still checking out everybody he spoke to in the last 48 hours.” = What about the last call to his mom? And you were sending a squad last night? (on page 10 a car was sent to notify the parents) They should already know the kids were in traffic at least? Deductions can be made from there – looks like kid was going to convenience store when he was shot – his brother in tow retreats to vehicle to get away = doesn’t.

    p21 = After Tecca makes a comment to Brant about losing children, I groaned a little because we’ve seen this so much. I thought about suggesting that you use this opportunity to do something new – to deliver this in a way that’s a bit fresher – I also considered that you might’ve done it on purpose – for a bigger reason – but to be truthful, I feel that there’s quite a bit in the early pages that feel similar to other movie moments (like when Marietti says “Got a name?” to Delroy later) – However, when I thought of it as being purposeful, I thought “Tecca should be the one doing the retribution killings. That would be cool.”

    p24 = “…else will too busy wiping” = will be too busy

    p26 = Is Dante Bookings the man they are looking for? At this point, they don’t know who he is. Why would they chase him?

    p28 = cops know they need more than that to build a case.

    p34 = I liked what you did and how you did these overlapping interviews with Trey and Gyro

    p41 = stopped

    SUMMARY = For some reason, when I read the logline, I thought Brant was going to be the one going around doing the killings. I have no idea why I thought that. Based on the killing that takes place while he’s at Gyro’s, I know that’s not the case. Which would then make me think Marc because you had just showed us a scene with him and a gun on the boat.

    The reason I stopped reading though, is because I am forty pages in and the hook of your story has just begun. I’m certainly not in the camp of your story having to start on any particular page, but I’m also not engrossed by what I have been reading up to this point. And it’s just now that the story is starting is what makes me want to bail. It’s like I’ve actually reached the beginning of the story.

    I feel this way also because of the fact that I haven’t bought in to Brant and Marietti as investigators. If they were actively finding and deducting things that were interesting…leading us towards stuff, then I might be more on board.

    The other part that’s missing for me is this: I felt like the death of the two boys was supposed to be dramatic for us the audience. To feel this tragedy. My opinion for an effective impact on that, someone in the story has to be hit tragically by this. A consequence of this event. The people I’ve spent the most time thus far in the story, aren’t emotionally invested. This is where I think @ElectricDreamer:disqus is absolutely correct, because we SEE all of the events the cops are investigating, there’s zero mystery. We are waiting for them to learn what we already know. Plus, we spend time with Gyro and Trey, so we also know, or assume to know, WHO was involved.

    I think you should explore opening with the murders already having taken place. The through the cops investigation, we will learn about the tragedy. You can do it more straightforward and avoid these unnecessary cop theories “Why were the kids in this neighborhood?” – it’s not going to lead them anywhere interesting when they find out and as the audience, we already know that. If you explore it through the investigation, then you can set up real, tangible events that maximize the tragedy. Have Wyatt leave his mom a voicemail while Noah is on his way to the convenience store so there is actual audio of the event. Or some distorted audio (makes it grittier – to hear part of the tragedy but not actual clear). Then we will know in the message Wyatt leaves that they stopped so Noah could use the bathroom or something and they should be home soon.

    Then we will see the video of the tragedy – heartbreaking.

    Burying the kids isn’t where the true apex of emotion is, it’s when the squad rolls up to tell them what happened – and have Brant deliver this info (and don’t have him being a pussy about it). I completely understand that part of that funeral scene is to show Marc’s emotional state and to set up the reveal for later (yeah, I peeked to see what the outcome was), but still…if you have a scene with both of them breaking down, then that’s ambiguous and lends itself to all possibilities.

    This is a lot of bold notes…I know. I tend to get this why with writers I like and solid premises. For me, the writing is there, just not this current set up of story and content. Sure hope you get the AF spot!! Congrats again.

    • Linkthis83

      (I also did some research to see if there was an actual Detroit gang called the V-Boyz. This search yielded two results.

      1) A Vietnamese gang in California called V Boyz

      and…

      2) These guys:

      • HRV

        Oh boy…

      • Nicholas J

        Thanks for not making it awkward at all if someone happens to see my computer screen while I’m browsing today’s comments, Link!

      • charliesb

        I’ve been laughing for 5 straight minutes. Like honestly WTH?! If only real street gangs had this sense of “style”.

    • HRV

      Great analysis, Link.

  • HRV

    I read all of OMAHA. The beginning could use some work. Never thought of fire hardened pine as something to equate with being handsome. The story is knowledgably written and moves one right along once it gets going, but, like others have said, we’ve seen most of this before. A couple if notes: With the window open and the alarms blaring, wouldn’t those outside have heard. How convenient that the ex can fly a commercial airliner. Sure was easy to get into that automated cockpit. Don’t remember seeing an typos or other word errors.
    Read up to page 27 of POOL. Not a whole lot going on. No big laughs. Typos and word errors.
    Read to page 4 of Termites. Couldn’t get into it.
    Read to page 14 of “51” Hard to sympathize with the government or cultists, although they did talk of being peaceful, Thoughts based on only the beginning and not the whole script.
    Read close to half of RETRIBUTION and will probably finish. Initially comes across as an extended TV crime drama episode. Found a few word errors.
    Overall, I’m going to pick OMAHA ’cause I’d like to see Carson’s take on it.

    Congrats to all for being picked.

  • Somersby

    I just want to thank Carson and all of you who took the time to look at and comment on Retribution. It’s greatly appreciated. Lots of interesting feedback—and you’ve given me lots to think about.

    Just to answer the several queries why I chose the strange font on the title page… Two reasons, really. I wanted to add a little something to set a visual tone for the script. And I was aiming to make the title look as if it had been done as a gang tag. Spray-painted, messy, yet stylish… And a little threatening. Mind you, I’m no visual artist by any stretch… and that was the closest I could come with the fonts available.

    Again, many thanks. It was a treat to be featured—especially since today’s offerings were for the Gods!!

    Somersby

    • mulesandmud

      I definitely plan to give you some feedback this weekend, not just because I like the subject, but because you’re SS OG.

      For now though, just a thought on the font issue:

      A creative title font is a wonderful thing if it really nails the vibe and genre of the script. I like your gang tag logic, but the current font reads more as blood-splatter than graffiti. It’s not quite a horror font, but definitely not gritty or street. The splatter is thin and delicate, sort of painterly, which feels tonally way off from what I’ve read so far.

      By way of alternatives, take a look at some of these, many of which are much closer to your stated intentions, and most of which are free:

      http://www.dafont.com/theme.php?cat=606

      Maybe other folks will browse and give some suggestions, too.

      • Matthew Garry

        I hear courier 12 is all the rage with writers these days. Using it also shows you’ve not been playing around too much with stuff that doesn’t really matter, wasting time that could have been used for a final global search to see if all your you’res and yours are in order, discover the odd homonym, or maybe hunt for the forgotten apostrophes.

        More serious though, I thought “Retribution” was a very solid script and stands out writing wise. The only objection I have (apart from the title page font) is that it reads like a really well done procedural that’s 113 pages long. As a pilot for introducing Brant and Marietti it works great. These characters are ready to be picked up and placed in the next episode, but as a stand alone feature, I felt it lacked that personal connection to any of the characters. And that personal connection was just about the only thing that made it different from a “Where Angels Die,” which it reminded me of, both in quality and tone.

        Then again, maybe a lot of others can connect to the characters more strongly, and it’s just my personal preference, in which case “Retribution” is pretty much done.

        Anyway, as per this week’s directive:

        I stopped at page 112 because:

        -The script ended.

        …Nice work.

      • Paul Clarke

        Sorry Somersby, I think I started the anti-font thing, which wasn’t my intention. I just meant it looked a little cheap and nasty, and didn’t reflect the tone you were after. Like you said yourself, you’re not a graphic artist. I guess if in doubt maybe leave it plain. But that link from Mules has some great fonts. I would definitely go with one of those.

        The other font reminds me too much of a school-kid trying to dress up his assignment. Having said that, by the time I’ve read the first sentence I’ve forgotten all about it. I really like your writing style. But I do agree with ElectricDreamer on how to make it more interesting, and how to get to the good stuff earlier. I would try to keep the audience’s information level on par with the investigators. Unless there are specific details that put them in danger through dramatic irony. If we know they have a fact wrong and are heading into danger, then that would work. Otherwise it’s boring to watch them catch up with the facts that we already know.

        Best of luck. I’m interested to see what Carson thinks of it.

        • Kirk Diggler

          If there is anyone always stirring up trouble on this board, it’s Paul Clarke.

        • Mike.H

          Harping on Paul a bit; THE FONT didn’t resonate a positive impression on me.

      • klmn

        I’ll open that one Sunday and give my comments, per Carson’s new procedure.

    • Caivu

      That’s the thing though. You shouldn’t *have* to set a tone with the title font; your writing should take care of that (and it did, in this case!). Even if you’re using it just for the sake of using it, why not err on the side of caution? You want there to be as few reasons for a reader to pass on your script as possible, right? Sure, some people won’t care about unusual fonts… but some of them will.

      • Bifferspice

        caution. that well known approach that all great artists had.

        if it’s a good script, it will generate buzz. if it isn’t, it won’t. bollocks to caution, and to those that continually preach it.

        • Caivu

          Absolutely writers should take risks, but those risks should be taken in the writing, not the font style. Scripts don’t generate buzz (the good kind, at least) because they use unorthodox fonts, they do it because the characters, or the story, or the atmosphere, something substantial about them stands out. Those are the kind of things we writers should be focusing on.
          I think the real reason this whole font thing bothers me so much is that the only scripts I’ve seen with different fonts for the title (besides amateur ones) are shooting scripts or published ones that come out after a film is released. Seeing it done on an amateur script strikes me as presumptuous, and I’m pretty sure none of the authors intend to send that message. But as far as I’m concerned, your script gets to use a different title font once it’s in production, not before. It’s a badge of sorts.
          I’m not mad at anyone who does it, I just don’t understand it. At all.

    • ThomasBrownen

      Re: the title page font… if you like it, use it! OWN IT. It’s your script, your choice! Sometimes we get so caught up in not breaking fifty thousand little rules that we lose sight of the fact that we’re still the authors of our work and can do whatever the heck we want with it. If you want to stand out and show off a little, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to break the rules just to show that you can. And if people give you a hard time about it, just channel your inner William Wallace and yell, “FREEEEEEDOOOMMM!!!”

      But seriously, great script! I voted for it in a comment that seems to be stuck in moderation…. Yay, disqus.

    • carsonreeves1

      For the record, the script I’m next reviewing in the newsletter, the spec sale, “Bounty,” has a big crazy font for the title page.

    • Frankie Hollywood

      There’s nothing wrong with using a different font to convey your story’s mood. It’s done all the time. If you don’t like it, so be it. But it’s not WRONG.

      The problem with using it for RETRIBUTION is that Graffiti font is inherently hard to read. I’m no expert on Graffiti, though I did watch Street Art Throwdown (my money was on Grimnasty–damn).

      mulesandmud’s font page lists @400 fonts. You could probably use about 10 of those to convey Graffiti AND have it be easy to read. BE EASY TO READ, obviously a major consideration — you don’t want the reader trying to decipher your title.

      Of these examples the only one I would consider is: A Dripping Marker. Easy to read and conveys Spray Paint. Good luck trying to read RETRIBUTION with most of those fonts. Graffiti is just a difficult font to use for a title.

      • Frankie Hollywood

        I think it looks pretty good with dripping “blood.” Makes RETRIBUTION read/stand out better, too — and it emphasizes the intent of the title, RETRIBUTION (there will be blood).

        I also lowered the “I” letters to unclog it a bit. The white bullet holes looked like crap/cheesy on a white background.

    • IgorWasTaken

      I think alt fonts for the title page can be great. But I agree with those who didn’t like the specific font you chose. My immediate reaction was ComicSans meets Handwriting.

      (Below is the title as-is, then in generally-mocked ComicSans)
       
       

  • Caivu

    Omaha Tower

    Pg. 1-11
    -The news report in this first scene gives the year, and there are probably other ways to give the audience the specific date; I don’t think you need that in the scene heading.
    -Some novelistic writing on this first page. Watch that.
    -There’s some weird stretching going on with the italics. Has the text been justified instead of left-aligned? Was this written with screenwriting software? Odd.
    -“A hand pours tequila into a coffee cup once lettered “WORLD’S BEST DAD,” now faded, and watches–” The hand watches? I know that’s nitpicky, but that’s what the sentence says.
    -Is every reader going to know what a Red is? It’s easy to guess from the context, but why not just say HD? And how is there any way to tell if bullets are steel or not? And why is that detail important?
    -“Snowier than tonight’s forecast.” A forecast which I haven’t seen, so this information is meaningless. Just have the signal get worse.
    -New Luddites is kind of a comical name.
    -I’m guessing “sandpaper maw” means unshaven? I have no idea what “handsome in the way that fire hardens pine” means.
    -“think of what it’ll do to yaw.” At first I thought “yaw” was “you” but with an accent, but I remembered Brad’s a pilot, so he’s talking about vertical rotation.
    -“salt-lick of a car” “cracked with age, shrunk with microwave burritos” I don’t think you’re doing yourself favors with lines like these. They give the script a certain voice, sure, but at the expense of clarity. I had to look up what salt-lick would mean in this context; as written, the phrase just tells me that Brad’s car runs and that’s all that’s important. A last-ditch sort of thing. But it tells me nothing about the car itself. Is it a rustbucket, with chipped paint, mismatched doors, duct tape holding on the mirrors? Is it fairly new but really cheap, the kind of car someone like Brad would look silly driving (I’m thinking Beetle here)? Is it nice but really old? That could mean a lot when it comes to character. Brad seems like a schlub, so it could speak volumes if his car is old but well-maintained, for example. And the microwave burrito line is a pretty obtuse way of saying Brad’s fat.
    -“A control tower closer to the bridge of the Enterprise than the tower of Top Gun.” “Like the monolith from 2001″ Pretty risky, reminding me of other movies/shows.
    -25000 kilowatts would be 25 megawatts, and 2 million gigabytes would be 2 petabytes. Olivia’s probably just trying to sound impressive, but that’s a bit clunky.
    -Is the biblical Aaron really the first thing a 4th grader’s going to think of on hearing a similar-sounding name? I doubt it.
    -“Clear that she and Brad are not, one might say, software compatible.” You showed that just fine with the previous sentence. The writing’s a bit too cute for it’s own good and it doesn’t need to be.
    -Brad and Olivia are baby-talking these kids a little too much. They’re treating 9 and 10-year-olds more like they’re 6 or 7. That on top of the insincerity makes this part cringeworthy.
    -Geez, Brad is such a cynical dipshit.
    -More novelistic writing. Humans are being replaced by machines and that’s bad. I get it.
    -And now Brad’s a sloppy drunk. I’m very close to calling it. And the mirror thing doesn’t make much sense if the camera can see the mirror move into position, right?
    -“You think Arin even knows you’re there?” Great line! But then you diminish it with the “Boom. Soulpunched.” stuff. Just show Brad’s reaction to this; we’ll get it. Promise.
    -What the hell is Brad’s problem? What’s the big deal about wrapping a gift with newspaper? That’s not really considered cheap or tacky anymore, and I doubt it will be in 6 years. I guess I should’ve seen this coming, what with Brad’s old TV, etc., but being this behind the times (and so melodramatic about it) is just weird for such a relatively young guy. Anyway, I’m out.

    Stopped at page 11.

    Honestly, I kept reading mainly because I found Brad interesting… but not in a good way. At first he was just a sad-sack, which is fine, but his increasing dislike of technology struck me as bizarre. I kept on until he pissed me off too much. If this hatred of new technology was just one part of him, that’d be one thing, but it seems to be his only characteristic; something might happen later with his son to flesh him out more, I suppose. I think I just don’t understand why Brad has such a problem being replaced with a computer; taking his job doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to me. Is there something else?

  • steveblair

    I tried reading THE POOL BOYS and eventually gave up on page 12 with the action line, “She’s a natural beauty, like an eight on the boner scale.” This was after giving the guys the benefit of the doubt with a typo in their very first sentence of the screenplay: “Birds chip.” I kinda wanted to keep going, but ultimately felt like the writers weren’t taking their reader seriously enough.

  • HRV

    GYAD made the comment about the sudden time jump in 51. I felt the same way, had to pause and read it over to be sure. What it could use at that point is either a TIME CUT or FADE TO BLACK, or simply a header with a LATER time, to indicate the separation. Lots of great comments, guys. Although it’s both good and bad, when you’re the writer to have your work dissected like that.

  • charliesb

    51 DAYS

    Read until page 19.
    Reads too much like a sermon for me. Stopped when I realized that Elijah was the “hero” of the story, and I hadn’t been given a reason to root for him or sympathize with him or his group. I understand the desire to start the script off with action but it might be a good idea to build up Elijah’s character a bit before the raid. Don’t allow us to define him with our personal biases against “cult” leaders, unless that works for your story.

    This seems like the kind of story where we would be following the FBI agent leading the raid, so seeing it from the other side could be an interesting take, I just think you need to make your lead more complex and “likeable”.

    Good luck with it.

  • Felip Serra

    RETRIBUTION (…sorry I’m tardy to the party)

    I’ll try not to echo too much of what was already been said. However the strengths here are evident and technically there was little I would criticize: Well written; tautly executed; transitions and intercuts that flowed naturally; character descriptions that hit like an agile marksman; an engaging enough story that had some good twists at the end. I’m happy to say, in regards to Carson’s challenge, I stayed till “The End”.

    But something was missing. And one word came to me about page 35: Drama. Very little was dramatized; much of the information came via exposition. And though that information kept me going to the end there was very little weight to it. Examples of where it did work: When we are introduced to Marc in the beginning and Tecca braces, you really felt it; what they said was actually of little consequence. Later (pg. 34?) when Rosie witnesses the murder, again, very little was shown but that feeling–of danger or dread–was felt.

    Some dialogue to illustrate further: “They don’t seem united in their grief.” “So you think someone is targeting people close to him.” “We’re on some sort of list. Some sort of revenge list.” Me, as reader and audience, already have this information, so it’s redundant to then put in the mouth of your characters. Give me the opportunity to figure it out, to engage my imagination. Leave breadcrumbs, sure, but let me find the trail.

    As an example: The funeral scene. We understand everyone’s sad. But we’re WATCHING people be sad. What if, say, after Tecca finds out she numbly wanders into one of her son’s bedroom. She still can’t process the death; she’s staring at a messy room. Instinctively, like a Mom, she would start tiding up. She’s folding shirts… Then it hits her. Her sons are dead. She has no reason to fold this shirt. That, to me, has impact.

    One difficulty you may have set up for yourself is mixing “Crime Procedural” with “Revenge Thriller”. CP replies heavily on exposition instead of drama to build to an unforeseeable conclusion. RT, on the other hand, is a dramatic story unfolding towards an inevitable conclusion. The former uses information to propel the story, the later uses emotion. This is not saying you didn’t pull it off (I think your ending really redeemed some of the earlier shortcomings) but I think it could be more balanced.

    Well. Thank you for the read. Take from my comments what you will and ignore the rest :)

  • klmn

    The one I selected to open is 51 DAYS. The logline appealed to me – with the obvious reference to the Branch Davidians at Waco – more than any of the other offerings to the gods.

    I read to page 15 – the writing was clear, except for a few words beyond my vocabulary. I just didn’t find a character to relate to.

    In my limited contact with producers, I’ve been told that audiences want to follow one character throughout the story. With the large number of characters introduced and the quick jump to the 2’nd day of the incident, the story seems rushed and unfocused.

    Maybe it would be better to show the story from the POV of one character, probably not Elijah, and to start earlier, focusing on life within the compound.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    51 Days

    This might seem like an odd suggestion, but I suggest you cut ALL the dialogue up to page 8, and have not a single spoken word in all of them.

    Delete all the dialogue, and tell me if the scenes are not MUCH better. the diaogue can be replaced with simple looks. And he doesnt have to talk into the telephone. he could just look really worried and hold the phone up to his ear as he’s dialing, then slam cut to the compound where the phone’s been dropped in haste as they start getting ready.

    boom. Gets rid of this hokey, cheesy back and forth with the dialogue and makes the entire scene that much more dramatic.

    Hitchcock said he’d write every scene in the script before he wrote the dialogue, so the scene’s worked without them. Emulate this, and see how much dialogue you can delete from your script and still get the point across. it’ll be stronger for it. But yeah, the beginning of the movie should have no words.

  • hackofalltrade

    Holy hell I’m glad tax season is over. I haven’t read or written a word of a screenplay in two plus months. I read the first 5 of each, and then 10 pages of The pool boys and Retribution. I finished Retribution this morning. I have been reading the comments so I wouldn’t be redundant and it looks like it will be a runaway winner. Lots of good feedback so far. My thoughts…

    I agree with a lot of commenters that the characters didn’t “resonate.” Now that I’ve finished, I disagree with the notion that the story should start AFTER the murder. –spoilers–Given the ending, I think you should open with Tecca. Give us a glimpse of her with one of her sons. IMO, a story of retribution is stronger if you FEEL for their relationship. Telling us on page 3 that she’s a worrier is far less effective than seeing her fondness for her boys. So I’d start out with Tecca and the older son(Noah?) at home, a quick scene to establish their relationship. An easy one is to show Tecca lovingly cooking for her boys. The younger boy could be at the game and call home to say he missed his ride home from the Palace. Since Tecca is cooking, Noah insists on going to go pick him up. It would be a tragedy for her to overcook her famous _____, yadda, yadda, character likability stuff. The opening 8 pages could be drastically cut down, and you wouldn’t actually need to see the murders happen. But then you’d care a little more about the relationship that drives the story, and in addition care more about the characters.

    Overall, I’m impressed with the writing. I think this one would be a recommend for the writer, and a consider for the material.

  • S.C.

    24 hours later… any picks for Amateur Friday?

  • brenkilco

    Read first ten pages of retribution. Well written. A few grumpy observations for what they’re worth.
    The first page. I don’t believe that a script has to and in many cases it shouldn’t begin with a bang. But it should be compelling if possible and it has to be necessary. Why do we need the first page of this script? Why couldn’t the movie begin with the phone call and the boys already stuck in traffic. The mother asks about the game so we know where they’ve been. The first page is not at all interesting so why not cut it?
    But the opening is there so consider the first paragraph. Bad storm OK. But do we need two sentences about the rain. A sentence about the lightening and another about the thunder. Rocking and splitting and pelting. Evocative is nice but I think economical is better.
    Description of the boys. Why do we feel it necessary to provide descriptions that don’t matter? The older is thin and the younger is chubby. But it wouldn’t matter a damn if it were the other way around. These are just placeholder descriptions. Isn’t it more important to know that they are upper middle class and naïve. So if we need a description at all beyond their ages shouldn’t it contain physical details that confirm who they are.
    The brief exchange between the estranged couple. Hope it matters in the story cause we’ve seen it a thousand times and it’s dull
    The kids getting off the exit. Teenagers do stupid things. But honestly damn few who’d only been driving a couple of months would get off a highway exit in a section of a city they didn’t know in the middle of a driving rain storm at night. “Who cares. It’s moving.” Why are they really getting off. Because if they don’t the movie can’t start. But is there a way to make these two a little less idiotic.
    Ultra picky but I’m bothered by the use of the word perpendicular to describe the street. I know exactly what the writer means. There is a street opposite the front of the store that intersects the one it’s on so technically this intersecting street is perpendicular to the front façade of the store. Maybe just the corner of an intersecting street opposite the store. OK skip it.
    I don’t quite get the POV of the killings. The kid in the car can see the danger but the one approaching the storefront can’t. The rain is so heavy that a scream won’t carry thirty feet.
    Last kvetch. Obvious movie lines. The detective say gangbangers have a thing for high top trainers. He says this to another cop who would already know this just like he would already know that hoodies and bandanas are the dress code in this part of town. Who doesn’t know this stuff? The audience. Shouldn’t the line be more like /The rain started late so those wet trainer prints are probably theirs.”
    Anyway, it is very well written so this is just backseat driving. Good luck.

  • mulesandmud

    Gave RETRIBUTION a look until page 21.

    Stopped after the scene where Detective Brandt and Officer Dobbs visits Tecca and Marc to tell them their sons are dead. Others have give strong general notes already, so I’d love to really focus on this beat.

    A scene like this is a critical test of a writer’s skill. We’ve seen versions of that beat many, many times before, but it remains dramatically powerful when done well. How the writer handles this moment will tell me how his story is different from every other police procedural I’ve ever seen.

    Short answer: it’s basically the same.

    The scene starts late, after Brandt has already delivered the bad news. The parents are already all cried out, suggesting that the writer had skipped the most intense emotional fireworks. This may have been an attempt to avoid a cliched crying scene, but the impression it gave me was that writer had made things easy for himself by hopping over a difficult dramatic moment and instead showing us the no-less-cliched-but-easier-to-write-aftermath, where the devastated parents take swipes at each other and the cops express perfunctory sympathy.

    If the writer wanted to avoid a why-god-why breakdown scene, he should have found a new and different reaction for his parent characters to have, rather that suggesting this major moment had just happened in the standard river of tears way, but just wasn’t something we needed to see.

    Perhaps more frustratingly, the scene also makes things easy on Brandt, which is a major red flag. By not making him squirm as he figures out how to tell these parents the bad news, we the audience are denied valuable character information. This is a strange choice because you specifically set up Brandt’s dread of this moment in the previous scene, so I really wanted to know how he’d handle it. Would he handle himself with tact and decorum? Would he just blurt it out insensitively? Would Dobbs have to be the one to say it? Not showing us the answer feels like a cheat, or a blown payoff at the very least.

    Brandt seems to be our main character at this point. This scene, like every other scene, should have been a window into his personality and the personalities of our characters. Instead, all it tell us is that Brandt is a functional cop, which we already knew. And that Tecca and Marc have marriage problems, which we already knew. And that the two kids are dead, which we already knew. And that the V-boys might be involved, which we already knew. The scene ends up feeling like exposition even though it actually didn’t provide any.

    As it stands, you might as well not have shown the scene at all. Or better yet, just show Brandt outside in his car, unwilling to go in because he’s too much of a pussy to face the parents, just like Dobbs said he was. So she goes in and leaves him there, a big strong man terrified of seeing other people cry. At least that version would give us some character information.

    I finally bailed as the cops walked out of the house and discussed the apparent rift between Tecca and Marc, which real cops might well do, but here felt like a recap of the scene we just saw, while still giving no new information about anyone.

    Seems like this one’s on track get picked for Friday, so I may read more then.

    Regardless, best of luck with it.

  • shewrites

    I am not reading any comment until I am done reviewing the scripts I open, so I will most likely be reiterating points already made.

    The Pool Boys: I’ve decided to open it in spite of the very unexciting logline because I write comedy.

    1st bump: typo on page one: “he let’s out a deep breath”. I usually don’t bring up typos in my comments as they happen even after re-reads but after the same (weird) kind happens on page 8, “Chip look’s focused”, it bothered me.

    I stopped reading on page 9 ( I forced myself to read beyond page 5 though I was already bored by then) because;

    – I haven’t laughed once (it will be interesting to see if it’s just me since comedy is subjective)
    – the dialogue feels very pedestrian
    – I didn’t find either brother interesting/compelling.
    Sorry.

    I get that the writers’ goal with these pages was to highlight the contrast so that’s a good thing.

    Suggestion 1: I would read buddy comedies with goofy protagonists and see how their differences are highlighted though their actions and how they are made funny/compelling.
    Suggestion 2: get reads from anyone you can to rate the comedic factor in your script before submitting it to SS or another site that industry professionals visit. Again, though comedy is subjective, getting opinions from a number of people will give you an idea about whether you are on the right track.
    Good luck.

  • shewrites

    51 Days: Good logline.
    Read to page 24: I stopped reading because I got tired of the talking scenes.
    What I liked:
    – page 1 pulls you right into the story with the store owner showing his disapproval of David, David’s reaction to seeing the ATF agents (mystery boxes even though soon after resolved)
    – the descriptions are evocative, the action lines efficient
    – Elijah’s inner turmoil and the conflict between him and Rebecca
    What I had problems with:
    – we are robbed of the first confrontation between Elijah/the congregation and the ATF agents
    – Rebecca’s seeming dichotomy between her first reaction towards Elijah, blaming him for the cost of his belief and then wanting him to assault the agents which would likely bring on more senseless deaths
    – after an exciting first few pages, the pace slows down considerably with one talking scene after another
    – the “absence” of the agents after they are introduced which kills the sense of danger or at lease diminishes it
    Though the writer doesn’t mention it in his WYSR, this feels, if not based on, at least inspired by David Koresh/Waco. If I’m wrong, my apologies, but if that’s the case, why not mention it? That episode in Texas’s history is compelling.

    I will go back to reading more of the script if the comments show that I gave up on it too early.
    Overall: ready good writing.

  • charliesb

    POOL BOYS

    I read up to page 8. Specifically :

    MANAGER
    As a volunteer police officer and a good samaritan, I have the right to a citizen’s arrest if I think you’re placing other’s in harms way.

    I didn’t like the opening with the hippies. I’m not sure if that scene was supposed to be funny, but I think if you’re going to make fun of Chips “lifestyle” you’re going to have to dig deeper. In the end I’d kill the whole scene and start with Morris trying to pick up his car.

    I love the idea of this scene. A man who seems a little drunk trying to pick up his car, while the clerk and Manager try to delicately stall him and eventually deny him access. But what you have seems like a first draft. Not only can this scene be funnier, your dialogue is pure exposition. I’m not trying to be insulting but the line above was cringeworthy.

    If I were going to rewrite that scene I’d start with the idea that Morris wants something and that the Clerk/Manager are going to keep if from him. List ways to make this situation as awkward (and therefore funny) as possible. Maybe Morris and the Clerk used to date, maybe they went on their first date last night and it went horribly (hence the dissolved appearance). Maybe he doesn’t have enough money on his credit card to pay for service and has to spread it out over a few credit cards. Maybe he’s not really drunk, but he’s covered in alcohol because of an embarrassing encounter that morning that he doesn’t really want to get into. Maybe the Manager is his high school gym teacher, or lived on his street when he was a kid etc etc etc. I’m not saying that any of these suggestions are inherently funny, but great comedy (IMO) is almost always deeper than surface level, it’s the stuff that’s going on in the background or behind what the characters are saying. It’s the Manager excitedly reaching for the handcuffs he’s wearing under his sweater vest as he’s telling Morris to calm down, and the immediate disappointment in his face when Morris does.

    Good luck with it.

  • Howie428

    Another difficult choice to make this week. Since the newsletter has already given the likely choice, I guess I’ll jump on board and go with RETRIBUTION.

    The first 25 pages of it didn’t work that well for me, but having seen the description of what the wider story will become, I have hopes that it’ll pick up.

    My notes as I went through the scripts…

    ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TERMITES

    Being honest, I’m looking at this one first because I have the lowest expectations for it.

    “Where TERMITES fill the expansive body of the guitar.” – I get that animations do these things, but this comes over as a bit gross to me. Termites destroy wood, so this guitar is in trouble.

    I got to page 4 and I’m afraid the thick text and my lack of connection to the material has defeated me. I know that concepts like this do get made, even if they typically come from existing IP or in house development, so it might be that I’m missing out on this.

    On the face of it, for me this concept has a Ratatouille sense about it. So a single music loving termite who battles against societal expectations would seem like an easier story to set up than one where the world is already in this wonderful state.

    THE POOL BOYS

    The teaser scene feels like just that… a tease. It threatens to have something happen in it, but it amounts to an odd guy receiving a letter and a duck whistle.

    Then having not explained much at all in the first scene, the story lays itself out over the next few pages. Now we know who this guy is and where he’s going.

    The intro to Morris is amusing, although I’m not sure he seems like the same guy who wrote the reasonable sounding letter we heard earlier.

    I’m a bit surprised that when the brothers come together things seem positive between them.

    I read the first 10 pages and I’m liking the two characters that have been set up. It might be that things are feeling a bit small at this point. I’d hope that when the events described in the logline begin to kick in that’ll escalate this.

    RETRIBUTION

    On page 4, I’m not sure I buy the trouble they have figuring out where they are. They have navigation on a phone, but can’t use the GPS to locate themselves? They are downtown, but can’t find a street name? Also, I’ve never been to Detroit but even I know that Detroit has a grid street structure, so it feels odd that a local person would get this lost.

    On page 7, so you’re in a shitty part of Detroit in the middle of the night in the rain and you decide to stop and ask a gang of hooded people for directions?

    Pg 8 – I’m at the end of the teaser and I guess it seems odd that these Hoodie’s shoot at anyone who happens to be coming by but not the shopkeeper.

    The teaser is pretty solid, but it’s also a funny kind of length. As it stands it feels like something that could have been covered in a true 3-4 page tease. Or you could give us a bit more character work, especially on Tecca, and push the robbery out past page 10.

    Pg 17 – I’m having trouble staying interested in the investigation. They are figuring out stuff we already know, on a case that is tragic but routine, and the details are coming easily to them. Those details are coming even more easily to us, since you’ve intro’d the guy who you’re suggesting did it.

    I think a big part of my problem with this so far is that the initial character work was done on two guys who are now dead. I had figured on Tecca being the lead, but we were not even shown her finding out about the murders, and we’re left with some down the middle of the road cops to take us through things.

    Pg 25 – Another fun scene ends here, however I’m not sure any American cop would say “I’m the one with the gun” to these guys. It’s an invite for them to get out their guns. Also, much of the exchange between Marietti and Delroy feels close to cliché for me.

    At this point, I’m still not sure whose story this is going to turn out to be and what I’ve seen so far doesn’t feel especially fresh to me. These kind of stories are very common on TV, including the jumping between characters, so to stand out in that field it either needs to be an amazing version of this or to have a fresh element. So far, I’m not seeing either of those.

    I just took a look at the logline and I see that you do have a fresh dimension to this. I’d guess that you can find a way to get this story aspect to kick in sooner and to avoid some of the slower aspects of your current first act.

    OMAHA TOWER

    Why does the News Anchor space out some of her dialogue? Is she spelling it out? If you want emphasis then I’d suggest underlining.

    I read the first 10 pages of this and I really like the idea of a story set in a fully automated airport of this kind. Seems like lots of potential for action and thrills. Having said that, I guess this opening ten pages has not worked all that well for me, although I realize that it might make sense for this story to start off low key.

    It’s tough to establish a dull status quo without the story also being dull. Perhaps a mini-story, or a personal crisis, or a mystery, something that we can get our teeth into over the first few pages that will carry us through to the core story kicking off.

    51 DAYS

    I read the first 11 pages of this and it has a nice tension to it. I guess I was a bit puzzled by the decision to skip over the armed assault. Also, having read the logline and seen the location as Texas, I guess I figured on this being about Waco. I’m now thinking that it’s not, but I’d suggest putting a bit more distance between yourself and that, say move it to Montana?

    The idea of telling a siege story is good. I’d suggest spending more time on the build up to the siege and the initial attack. That’s the part of the story during which we will engage with the characters and an opening battle would be a great element to build a first act around.

    • HRV

      I think the reason the news dialog is spaced out on O.T. was to convey that the TV wasn’t working right.

    • IgorWasTaken

      About “Rock ‘N’ Roll Termites” – in a way, I agree with you about termites actually being a bad thing. But I think the suspension-of-belief problem can be handled.

      Since I only got to page 7, maybe the writer does this. If not, I recommend it:

      Somewhere in the story, have us meet some “regular” termites that do destroy wood. IOW, this story is about a different sort of termite that we just never heard about before.

      You wrote:

      So a single music loving termite who battles against societal
      expectations would seem like an easier story to set up than one where
      the world is already in this wonderful state.

      Again, hard for me to say since I stopped at p7, but that is an interesting note.

  • klmn

    RETRIBUTION Read five pages, could read more. My vote for AF review.

    This is is well written. I think the opening could be tightened up – I think it would be better following the boys and introducing Tecca after the murder. I think the intercutting just blurs the focus.

    I’d like to see what C thinks of this. I think the gods will be pleased.

  • Levres de Sang

    My Vote: OMAHA TOWER

    It’s far from perfect, but the movie-scale subject matter would make for an interesting Carson review.

    OMAHA TOWER [Stopped: Page 64]

    Not the story I was expecting in that much of this is a psychological duel between Brad and the Radio Voice that keeps the reader nicely off balance and is well handled for the most part. And maybe that’s why I read further than expected despite several warning flags across the first couple of pages (“yaw”; salt-licked; as well as some oddly-spaced italics). I also groaned inwardly when I came across the well-worn single father separated from his son action movie trope; although to be fair it does play directly into the plot.

    Overall, I felt the writing itself was trying too hard to be clever/cute and this made the read unnecessarily exhausting. And yet, the essence of the story was fascinating. Moreover, from Page 17 this has the kind of GSU overload Carson adores! It also benefits from that fourth wall of “What would I do in this situation?”

    I stopped because it was starting to feel a bit too conventional once Brad and the Radio Voice were separated. Indeed, I suspect the author may be torn between trying to write something with philosophical depth (2001, THE TRUMAN SHOW) or a straight-up actioner. And, as already mentioned, the read also proved rather tiring.

    Other Notes:

    Page 2: Perhaps a missed opportunity in that you could DISSOLVE from the snowballs to a flurry of snow drifting past an EXT. of the control tower.

    Page 6: “I suppose I sit back, and… watch the planes go by.” A great line because it’s the first beat that doesn’t feel forced or like it’s come by way of something else. A wonderful image, too.

    Page 41: “Because every time, in every country, a man will save his own broken family over a thousand happy families, and you tell me: am I insane, or are YOU?” The philosophical essence of this story!

    General: I’d like to see some atmospheric shots of the snowy tower, deserted runways and red airplane lights.

    I also had time to take a quicker look at…

    51 DAYS [Stopped: Page 17]

    There’s an intriguing story here, but I’m not sure it’s being shown to its best advantage (as per OMAHA TOWER, the logline needs attention). Also, as others have noted, we seem to have skipped over a cataclysmic event? I do like the DAY 1, DAY 2 stuff as it reminds me of RINGU and adds urgency; but I stopped because I was getting the impression that Elijah will just keep mooching around the compound like some kind of Bin Laden character in-between visiting various wives/mistresses so as to reminisce (and maybe either slap them or be slapped into the bargain). Cult stories are enticing, but ultimately very tricky. Sorry I couldn’t read further, but wishing you well with this!

  • charliesb

    RETRIBUTION

    I read to page 13 yesterday. Now that it’s picked, I will take the time to finish it today.
    I stopped because I couldn’t let go of the opening. I’m not sure if you’re from Detroit, (I’m not but I’ve been there quite a few times) but the situation that set up these murders didn’t quite ring true. It’s not impossible that it could go down like that, but I think it makes the audience ask questions that take us out of the story. I think someone else said it below, but I’d cut the whole scene. Start with the Dad coming home and then move to the cops.

    Liked the back and forth with Marietti and Brant.

    About the conversation between Gyro and his mother. This is clearly a conversation that they would have had before, but it’s not written like one. I’m guilty of this too in my own writing. The way we write these conversations is what gives us the sense of history between our characters. The tattoo, the night classes, the driving around, it sounds like they just met instead of repeats to conversations that they have daily.

    Congrats on getting picked, I look forward to discussing this more on Friday.

  • HRV

    It looks like RETRIBUTION by one — based on votes that were actually specified as such. I think it can be confusing when a title is posted as the only one a reader looked at, or is the first commented on, which could then be misconstrued as a vote. Carson, do you choose only by stated votes or are other factors involved? Another good week.

    • klmn

      Don’t go into the mind of Carson!

      Go back! Before it’s too late!

      Save yourself!*

      *to be continued

      • HRV

        Beware The Carson?

  • ChristianSavage

    Could someone forward me a copy of the Scriptshadow newsletter? I would really appreciate it. My email is soulspelunker@gmail.com. Thank you!

    • ChristianSavage

      Got it! Thanks again.

  • IgorWasTaken

    Omaha Tower – bottom of page 3.

    Why: I have a hunch there’s a good script here, but the writer needs to slow down (slow himself down) and simplify the action. The action sacrifices clear in the pursuit of clever.

    A hand pours tequila into a coffee cup once lettered “WORLD’S
    BEST DAD,” now faded, and watches–

    A hand watches?

    Normally I ignore that kind of small mistake, but it’s repeated multiple times.

    On TV: RED-quality phone footage of PRESIDENT TANYA MAYNARD…

    Don’t Red Cameras produce good video? But then it’s also “phone footage”. And it’s on an old TV. So what’s the “RED-quality” reference for?

    BRAD MCQUEEN, on the wise side of 40 with eyes to belie it,
    handsome in the way that fire hardens pine.

    Do his eyes belie his wisdom or his age? Or both? I’ve hiked through pine forests and worked with pine wood, but I’ve never heard that “fire hardens pine”. Maybe it does. But again, that’s more “clever” than clear.

    Cacophonous with controllers SHOUTING over each other…

    Do you really need “Cacophonous”?

    OLIVIA NEWSOME, early 30s, Ivy League cannonball…

    I had to slow down to figure if that’s a reference to her girth or personality. I think it’s the latter, but why slow a reader down just to be clever?

    And finally –

    A control tower closer to the bridge of the Enterprise than
    the tower of Top Gun. Sleek servers glow cool blue. Pylons of
    hard-drives twinkle more bulbs than the 30 Rock tree…

    That opening sentence isn’t a lot of help re what I’m supposed to be seeing. And “pylons”? Seems to me most people see that word and envision a plastic orange traffic cone. Now maybe that’s why the writer used that word – i.e., this is an air traffic control tower. Still, it doesn’t work for me.

    • Levres de Sang

      Excellent notes! You’ve expressed perfectly what I was vaguely thinking during these opening pages. If the subject matter hadn’t been so intriguing I would have bailed too. Things do become clearer from Page 17, but there lies the danger in such an approach…

      • HRV

        Many have commented on the “salt lick of a car” …it’s winter, he hasn’t washed the car so it’s covered in road salt/deicer.

        • IgorWasTaken

          Thanks. Normally I read through the comments before I post; today, clearly I didn’t.

          Now if I read more of the script, I may find that this description of Brad’s car is a sign that he’s not tidy, and that that’s important to his personality. But if it’s not important in that sorta way – if it’s merely a window-dressing detail – then IMO it should be dropped.

          Still, seems to me it would make a better impact on the reader if it were more straightforward.

          • HRV

            Actually, that clarification hadn’t been stated early, but I thought it would help. Agree, too much extraneous info. slows down the read.

          • IgorWasTaken

            “Simile”, IIRC. I happen to be fine with those, but mostly just as an extra.

          • HRV

            Thanks for that. I couldn’t remember the correct term. That’s exactly what they are, extras.

  • IgorWasTaken

    ROCK ‘N’ ROLL TERMITES – page 7

    I stopped at page 7 not because the script stopped me, but just because (for now) I get enough of a feel for this.

    I really hope this is a good script. I love the premise and the opening. But the writing of the opening needs some tweaks that will help the reader a lot – though they are small tweaks.

    This is inherently a script in which we not only meet new characters and a new story, but also enter a new world. And so of course we need to learn about that world. While a lot of the visual details in the opening pages are what I think should be on the screen, I still think you need to consider if there are too many details for now.

    For example,

    BUDDHA, a plump termite holding a clipboard,
    and wearing stacks of MALA BEADS around his neck like
    Mr. T wears gold.

    Do we need to know they are MALA BEADS? Do they have to be all caps? IOW, if we skim past “mala beads”, does that matter?

    Just consider: The more things you ALL CAP, the harder it is for the reader to notice the truly important items.

    Anyway, maybe have so many details is fine. But even if so, I think the writer needs to help us with better presentation.

    I am not a proponent of “white space” just for the sake of white space. And I am not a stickler for using ALL CAPS just for sounds and for character intros only. But more timely breaks in paragraphs and fewer ALL CAPS could make the opening pages a much better, clearer, easier read.

    We meet LOTS OF CHARACTERS in the opening pages. And there are LOTS OF SOUNDS. And LOTS OF THINGS.

    And so, it’d be great if the writer would helps us out by NOT CAPPING anything but sounds and character names. And breaking up paragraphs each time there is a new camera angle.

    We soar over a wooden arch girder engraved with musical notes
    and the words: MUSIC BOARDWALK. LIFE IN HARMONY.

    Please put words in actual quotes. Because elsewhere on this page you use ALL CAPS IN ITALICS for sounds. And for this text that we see, maybe even give it its own line and centered.

    When we finally meet NICKY, who’s doing the V.O., it should be written as a bigger deal. As is, it reads –

    INSIDE, standing on the window sill, looking out past the
    dense crowd at the STAGE, is the termite who snuck in:

    NICKY, a mischievous, musically obsessed TEEN TERMITE, who
    wears a Slash-like top hat, faded jeans, a sleeveless T-shirt,
    and a naively excited expression.

    Maybe instead:

    INSIDE, standing on the window sill, looking out past the
    dense crowd at the STAGE, is the termite who snuck in:

    Our narrator, our hero –

    NICKY, a mischievous, musically obsessed TEEN TERMITE…

    I’m assuming he is our hero.

    INSIDE GUITAR. Termites dressed in wild, colorful rock attire
    scramble to work on the innards of the LIVE GUITAR, which is
    cavernous in some areas…

    When I see INSIDE GUITAR, then LIVE GUITAR – both in ALL CAPS – I apply my sense of script grammar and so my first reaction is: They are two different guitars. But then I realize they are the same guitar.

    As for more paragraph breaks –

    Nicky looks over and sees Torch rushing toward him. Panicked,
    Nicky RIPS his claw out of the wood, causing hairline cracks
    to spiderweb throughout the body of the guitar.

    NICKY
    That’s not good.

    Torch looks up to see the cracks spreading across the wood.
    He looks down, filled with rage, but *** Nicky is gone, making a
    break for an exit.

    *** – That’s where I think you need a line break because it’s where a new shot begins.

  • shewrites

    My vote goes to Retribution.
    Good logline. I don’t think it needs anything after “violence”. Doing away with the second part of the sentence will keep us in the dark about the reveal regarding the gang members’ families and loved ones being the targets.

    What I liked/loved:
    – the writing is top-notch, the descriptions are strong and the action lines burst with energy.
    – The characters’ voices are distinct.
    – The plot flows in a very engaging way.
    – I love the aspect that the targets of the retribution are the families of the suspected offenders vs the offenders.

    What I was less crazy about (SPOILERS AHEAD):
    – It’s clear fairly early on that the boy’s mother is the perpetrator.
    – Once we figure this out, a lot of the suspense is gone.
    – Though it makes sense on some level, it was very hard for me to buy that the mother would kill innocent people in order to give the alleged killers a taste of their own medicine

    Suggestions:
    – to mislead readers (me), I would set up the mother in such a way, perhaps in the course of defending a client, that we could never believe that she would resort to violence
    – I think the conflict between her and her husband – her blaming him for the deaths of their sons- could be mined/exploited more. Perhaps the mother even tries to frame her husband and/or when he figures out that she is the vigilante, he tries to get her to stop but she won’t and he’s conflicted about turning her in or not.
    – instead of suicide by cop, in my opinion, it makes more sense if it’s a straight forward suicide after she accepts/realizes that her husband can’t be blamed, that she went after the wrong relatives but the main reason was that she couldn’t live with the fact that she became her monster and is not any better than the people responsible for her boys’ deaths. As it is now, she only commits “suicide” because she went after the wrong people. There’s no remorse that she killed innocent people.
    In the end, I still think Retribution felt like a professional script. Very well done!

    • charliesb

      Reading your suggestion about how to improve the “mother” storyline. I’m reminded of the film IN THE BEDROOM. Basically the father in an attempt to get revenge for the murder of his son, tries to convince the murderer that he needs to leave town to give his wife some peace of mind (hiding the fact that he plans to kill him and dispose of the body) we are lead to believe that he is doing this on his own. Throughout most of the movie we saw the mother’s anger and grief over the loss of her son, but the father remained rather calm and comforting which of course made it all that more shocking when he killed the guy. But the absolute best part (for me anyway) is after it was all done and he comes home and gets into bed, like he’s done nothing more than gone for walk, his wife turns over to him and says “Is it done?” My young mind was blown. It suddenly felt a lot less like revenge and a lot more like murder, which had me leaving the theatre feeling unsettled.

      I think RETRIBUTION needs to create this type of feeling as well, I haven’t finished it yet, so maybe it does. In fact let me do that right now.

      • shewrites

        I remember watching In The Bedroom and how strongly affected I was by it. Perhaps subconsciously it inspired some of my comments.

    • Somersby

      Thanks, shewrites… And to everyone who offered feedback on Retribution. Some really good ideas here. Lots of excellent things to ponder from many of the SS contributors this weekend. I really appreciate it.

  • IgorWasTaken

    About Rock ‘N’ Roll Termites. Howie428 mentions in the thread that he has trouble with termites being a good thing. I agree that that’s a problem – but one that can be handled.

    Since I only got to page 7, maybe the writer does this. If not, I recommend it:

    Somewhere in the story, have use meet some “regular” termites that do destroy wood. IOW, this story is about a different sort of termite that we just never heard about before.

  • charliesb

    OT: Sorta

    Looks like Carson missed one trailer in his roundup. Fox dropped the final Fantastic Four Trailer (the this is what the film is about version).

  • carsonreeves1

    I personally find it a little pretentious, and I think a lot of other writers do as well. I don’t like quotes either.

  • Somersby

    Agreed. Good example, good point.
    … Sorry for the bleeding eyes. :-)

  • shewrites

    Thanks for the clarification, Jimmy. I get where you are coming from. Yes, it is tricky to reel in the reader without giving out too much in the first pages. I will read the rest. I like that Rebecca is the one who wants to throw out Elijah as I thought it would be David. Well done.