amateur offerings weekend

This is your chance to discuss the week’s amateur scripts, offered originally in the Scriptshadow newsletter. The primary goal for this discussion is to find out which script(s) is the best candidate for a future Amateur Friday review. The secondary goal is to keep things positive in the comments with constructive criticism.

Below are the scripts up for review, along with the download links. Want to receive the scripts early? Head over to the Contact page, e-mail us, and “Opt In” to the newsletter.

Happy reading!

TITLE: Wonder Woman
GENRE: Action Adventure, Action Comedy, Superhero and Comic Book
LOGLINE: Amazon Warrior Princess Wonder Woman enters the world of men to stop Doctor Psycho and his evil plans for a never-ending world war, and maybe find a little love too.

TITLE: Paralleled
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Thriller/ Character Drama
LOGLINE: An emotionally unstable neurosurgeon undergoes an experiment with parallel realities and fights different versions of himself to find a dimension where the wife he put in a coma is still healthy.

TITLE: Anyway But Dead
GENRE: Action/Adventure, Crime
LOGLINE: Two corrupt police officers are marked for death after stealing five million dollars belonging to a vicious crime lord.

TITLE: Abstract
GENRE: Drama/Dark Comedy
LOGLINE: A man on the brink of suicide stumbles upon a homeless art prodigy who will physically die if he stops creating art.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ (from writer): “I’m a 22 year old screenwriter who has been writing scripts since I was 13 — started with pen and paper. I’ve had three shorts produced, the latest just screened at the Cannes film festival in France,and I’ve had one feature optioned. So why am I here? I love your opinions, and this a script I’ve had offers on, but could never come to an agreement.”

TITLE: Evacuation London
GENRE: Sci-Fi
LOGLINE: As London is nuked in a last ditch attempt to fight off a sinister alien force, a young gang member and his reluctant travel companion must fight their way through the underground system to safety.

  • Paul Clarke

    Abstract:

    Read to page 15. Nothing had really happened. Didn’t care for the main character, made the writer feel like the pretentious one. Too cool for school.

    Plenty of red flags, spelling, typos, formatting issues, amateur techniques. Writing to us in the description and a voice over? Surely the use of one negates the other. Moved on.

    Anyway but Dead:

    Well written. Writer had a clear understanding of what constitutes a scene. But they’re not overly original, and worse they become repetitive. We understand the cops are dirty. No need to show us three times. Have them collide with the money earlier. Although it did make me read past page 15.

    Personally I would have preferred it if Blake had got away. Thought he had lost them, then ran into the dirty cops. Who take his money, not knowing who’s it is. Maybe even have them take it without realizing how much is there. They think they’ve scored a few grand so they go party, slowly realizing they have millions and are in deep shit. By taking money off such dangerous people we lose empathy for them. We can put up with them being dirty cops, but not putting themselves in so much danger.

    I’d also give the cops some redeeming qualities. No save the cat crap, just make them good at something. Maybe Shawn is a really fast runner and is actually catching the guy at the start.

    Made it to page 21: Interested to read further, but no longer care what happens to Shawn and Frank.

    Evacuation London:

    Fourth line “In the sky above their heads, a huge INVADER SHIP hovers in the sky, eerily silent.” I know it sounds picky, but my expectations are now very low. Where else could the sky be but above their heads? And then you write it twice. Surely even the laziest proof read would make it through the first page. It’s not like that’s a minor typo. I’d focus
    more on describing the ship. How is it different to every other space ship we’ve seen in movies?

    Further down the first page “Dennis crouches by the rear door to a shop.” – I’m far from a literary Nazi, but try reading that out loud. (Yea, yea, I’m sure these notes are full of errors that someone will now point out, but this is just a comment on a blog not a finished script ready for the world to see)

    Combine that with terrible dialogue and I’m out at the end of page one. Sorry.

    Paralleled:

    Eye catching title page – Shame it’s so hard to read the title.

    Interesting. I’m having a little trouble visualizing how this would look on screen.

    Some descriptions are confusing. For example, on page 5 Vera leaves with Robert but then talks Angus like she’s in the room.

    Will the different realities be shown on screen? If so then write it thusly. Otherwise you shouldn’t really include them in the text.

    Read through to page 15. Interesting. A real mind-warp. I’m just not sure how well it would play out in a movie. Anything that requires that much explaining is going to be a hard sell. Source Code worked but was in comparison much simpler. Inception worked, but the only way Christopher Nolan could convince the studios to make it was to sign on for an entire Batman trilogy. He had the power to make any movie he desired, and even after its success at the box office, the production companies considered it a fluke and went back to the remakes and prequels. Still this is probably right up Carson’s alley.

    Wonder Woman:

    – P3-4: Dialogue is becoming repetitive. There shouldn’t be an island there — got on the first go.

    – … and they keep talking. Just land the damn plane. The dialogue is setting the tone as super cheesy. I hope that’s what you were going for. Either way it’s probably not a very popular choice.

    – Last week one of the script shadow faithful corrected my spelling of lightning. By page 6 you have spelt it three different ways. Obviously two of those are incorrect.

    – “Her eyes are full of fright, and yet calm.” – You’re going to need one hell of an actress to pull that one off.

    – Made it to page 13. Should have been there by page 5. Nothing but repetitive on the nose dialogue. Not my thing I’m checking out. And given the current trend toward making super hero movies more gritty and realistic, I’m wondering who this is targeted at. I can’t see anyone making it in a million years.

    I’d say a split between Anyway but Dead and Paralleled. Depends if Paralleled can bring the crazy idea to life. In the end, neither one has me chomping at the bit to read on. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled lately.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Great post as always, Paul.

      Your analyses for me are usually the high points of the weekly amateur script trawl.

      • Paul Clarke

        Thanks Jake.

        The secret is it allows me to procrastinate from doing my own writing, without feeling as guilty!

  • ChinaSplash2

    Well, it’s finally happened.

    I thought we had a winner before with Dioxide/Doxide, but that just turned out to be a transcription error and some kind of woefully misguided phonemic pun.

    But now at last we have a screenplay that actually fucks up on the very first word of the title. Well done!

    • Paul Clarke

      I take it you mean Anyway but Dead.

      Thought it might be a clever twist. If it is I couldn’t work it out.

      • Michael

        Paralleled is spelled “Paralelled” on the cover page. That can’t be a play on words, so I think it’s the winner.

        • ChinaSplash2

          Two winners in the same week!

          Our cup runneth over.

        • Paul Clarke

          Ha, I couldn’t even read the title page. It was so warped.

  • TruckDweller

    My vote’s for Paralleled. Read the first twenty and I’ll probably read the rest even if it isn’t chosen.

    None of the others caught me after the first fifteen. And Wonder Woman? Considering this is the most well known super heroine around, the writer should probably be aware that every word will be critiqued under the guise of gender politics. Unfortunately, it did not fair well.

  • Jonathan Soens

    “Paralleled” sounds like a winner, just based on the loglines.

    You’d have to come up with a way to show some of that stuff on-screen so it works well, but that’s not impossible. Don’t know how many people in here have been watching NBC’s “Hannibal” show, but they came up with a nice way of showing how Will Graham inhabits the mind of the killers. He just closes his eyes, we hear a kind of clicking/tinkling sound, and there’s a pendulum made up light that sweeps across the screen. And that’s it — that’s how they convey his “mechanism” for going to that dark place in his mind. And then when he opens his eyes he’s inhabiting the role of the killer in a recreation of the crime. It goes to show that sometimes you can solve those kind of problems with a relatively simple trick.

    I also think it would be an appealing role for actors to get to play multiple versions of themselves. Not to mention, for many actors, the prospect of there being two of them on-screen at the same time is probably appealing.

  • OGTI

    Had a quick read through all of the offerings and Paralleled managed to hold my interest the longest before putting it down.

  • Citizen M

    After Friday’s excitement, back to normality. I vote for ANYWAY BUT DEAD. It has a hackneyed premise — crooked cops steal money from bad guy — but the execution is good and left me wanting to read more.

    WONDER WOMAN 109p by Geoffrey Uhl,

    (Should we even be reading this? Unless the writer has the rights (unlikely), it can never be made. In fact, no one will want to read it in case they get accused of plagiarism later.)

    After 25 pages: I couldn’t get into this. The descriptions, such as what the inside of the plane looked like, were too sketchy to form a mental picture. An aircraft is a Faraday cage, so lightning stays on the outside, it won’t affect those inside. There’s an island no one knows about where they find naked Wonder Woman who has amnesia. There were henchmen who said nothing, women who were one moment in cages and the next strapped into seats, Savvas who knows all about Wonder Woman on landing but was never told anything. She is dressed in a blanket the whole time but no one makes jokes about it. People constantly refer to events that happened off screen in the past which is like watching two people reminisce and not knowing what they are talking about — boring. Wonder Woman varies between innocent and worldly-wise. I don’t know whether Wonder Woman or the pilot Steve is the protagonist, and I don’t know what either of them want or what the stakes are. No mention of the evil Doctor Psycho yet. There were too many typos.

    Suggestion: The writing is okay, but the storytelling not. Do a page one rewrite, or better, move on to the next project.

    PARALLELED 102p by Denis Nielsen

    After 25 pages: Tricked-out title page and too-clever epigraph put me off before I even started reading. After 25 pages I am royally confused. There’s a machine that brings alternate versions of people from different timelines. (Don’t know if they vanish from their own timelines.) The plot seems to be: Dr Angus injures his wife with his experiment, faces a hearing for misconduct, and plans to usurp an alternate self and find a timeline where his wife still lives. But this is written too confusingly. Nothing is set up. We don’t know whether Dr Angus loves his wife. How he feels about the court case. That young Vera has feelings for him. Why Dr Robert is so angry. How duplicates feel when brought to this timeline. What they hope to accomplish for this research. It’s a case of jumping into the story too quickly. We the audience need to be told what they are trying to achieve, why they want to do it, and what the implications are, as well as how characters feel about each other. That requires a lot of set up and exposition. Without it we are baffled. Also, too many characters were punching walls and tables. Cliche. And you don’t put magnets on your head for a CT scan, they are built into the machine.

    Suggestion: The writing in this script describes images as the writer would like them to be seen on screen, not what is actually going on. It’s another version of directing on the page. Not saying “we see…” or “long shot” but directing nonetheless. But it is the writer’s job to tell the story so we can understand it on reading it. It is the director’s job to tell the story so we can understand it on seeing and hearing it. Tell the story more plainly and let the director decide the specific image he will use to get the effects needed.

    ANYWAY BUT DEAD 112p by Daniel Alexander and Frank Guido

    After 25 pages: I suspect the title should read ANY WAY BUT DEAD. Yup. ‘Stonewalls’ and ‘backseat’ should also be two words. Writer’s got a problem with spaces. But the story is lively enough, if rather gory. Starts with a torture scene where bad guy Corso stubs a cigar out in a guy’s eye. Cops Frank and Shawn are doing minor shakedowns then hit a mother lode of cash after a shootout. The cash belongs to Corso. I think they’ve hit a mother lode of shit-storm. Not very original, but quite entertaining so far. I’d like to read further.

    Suggestion: Make roles distinct, for more conflict. Frank gambles on the O’s, Shawn on scratch cards. Make one gamble on everything, the other hate gambling. Bad guy Marco drives the SUV on the way to the stakeout, bad guy Harris drives back. Make Marco the only driver, let the others criticize his driving.

    ABSTRACT 97p by Michael K. Snyder, based on Some truths. Some lies.

    (Read this online because my antivirus software warned me the download was on a dangerous page. Mediafire is crap.)

    After 25 pages: This is the kind of indie hipster drama people make jokes about. Luke works for his late father’s gallery and is a failed writer. He is not bringing in new artists so he smashes stuff and drinks whiskey and takes cocaine as a result. Luke is separated from his fiance. The female manager belittles him in front of other staff members. He screws the young intern then is shitty to her. He meets a bum Warren, who paints, even at night, and talks him into being represented. My problem is, I don’t feel Luke’s pain, or know what he wants or what the stakes are. I want to give him a kick up the backside and tell him to stop whining, go to gym, and man up. It’s all rather dreary and I don’t see much chance of things getting interesting.

    Suggestion: This might be better left as a novel. Or take a tip from Kaufman and invent a successful twin brother. Or someone like Jay Gatsby. It’s a world most of your audience won’t know. We need another character to illustrate what Luke aspires to.

    EVACUATION LONDON 92p by Phil Hurst

    After 25 pages: This is the one I wanted to read, based on the logline. But I was disappointed. The setup is okay. An alien spaceship hovers over London (think District 9) and the invaders are turning humans into green-eyed Controlled. The authorities plan to nuke London to destroy the craft. But the story fails on the details. Teenager Dale is dressed in a dead policeman’s uniform. Why? He loses his brother to a booby trap meant for aliens while burgling a shop. Why are they burgling? We need more details of life in London. Dale breaks into a home, steals jewellery, and meets teen Freya. Her father returns, and the script starts going off the rails. Raj is a sergeant in the Home Army. He carries a gun but it’s not clear if he’s in uniform. Unbelievably, Raj assumes Dale is a real policeman and gives him a gun and orders him around. Equally unbelievably, Raj won’t listen to a word of objection from his daughter, who has sussed dale out as a bad ‘un. They fight through Controlled to the tube station. It’s not clear to what extent London is damaged. The lights seem to be on but not the water. Most of the population is evacuated. We don’t know how many remain, or why Dale and his brother didn’t evacuate. Dale and Freya are in hiding as the nuke goes off and Controlled swarm in, and I don’t really care what happens to them. Dale is an opportunist and petty thief. Freya has a bit of spirit but not much personality. Although they live in dangerous times the writing is flat. There’s no life, no crackle, no excitement, no tension, and I cannot picture the London they live in. I’m not even sure what they are trying to do. Get to the evacuation zone, I expect, but I have no idea what obstacles and dangers face them, or what they hope to attain if they succeed. Like the other scifi script this week there’s not enough exposition.

    Suggestion: Read some good alien invasion scripts before rewriting.

    • m_v_s

      It’s a little corny and on-the-nose at times but Anyway but Dead gets my vote too.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    I vote for Paralleled, partially because Carson and the nine other Carsons in parallel realities are going to have ten headaches trying to write the review.

  • Citizen M

    I want to raise a pet peeve of mine. The use of the word “smirk”.

    It’s creeping in more and more. It was used fifteen times in three different scripts this week. And I don’t think writers are using it correctly.

    A smirk is a smile evoking insolence, scorn, or offensive smugness. — Wikipedia

    Here is a picture of a man smirking. As you can see, he is a nasty, ferrety type of individual. He is also a convicted child molester. His smirk is saying, “I may be in handcuffs. I may be off to jail. BUT I FUCKED AN UNDERAGE GIRL AND YOU DIDN’T. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

    Smirks should be reserved for the lowest of the low. Weaselly little scum enjoying their moment of perverted triumph just before they are squashed like the vermin they are.

    Above all, a hero should never smirk.

    • Sly

      “I may be in handcuffs. I may be off to jail. BUT I FUCKED AN UNDERAGE GIRL AND YOU DIDN’T. Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

      I’m pretty sure you’re now on a list somewhere for typing that out…

      O_O …

      And me too. Shit!

      • Joe Marino

        HAHA!

    • IgorWasTaken

      OK. Pet peeves are pet peeves, and once we have them, they never really go away, even if we decide with the thinking side of our brain that they should. And yet, I shall now try to convince you to let this one go.

      I agree with you about “smirk” in everyday parlance. But in script grammar/jargon/convention, in my experience the word “smirk” is used as a generic term for – “The character’s facial expression changes in a way that reveals his reaction to what he just heard/saw.” Usually it involves a sense of amusement, but not always.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Words have both denotative AND connotative meanings, Igor, and they certainly can’t mean anything you want them to mean.

        Trust me. I’m a cunning linguist.

        Sorry.

        Anyway, “a smirk” or “to smirk” is almost always used pejoratively and it certainly involves a smile, so your made-up explanation “a character’s facial expression changes in a way that reveals what he’s thinking” is way too broad.

        Merriam-Webster defines the word as “to smile in an affected or smug manner.”

        And there is no special screenwriting usage of this word.

        People who smirk you usually want to punch in the face so I wouldn’t normally use it for heroes.

        The exception is many of Bruce Willis’ screen characters who smirk. Bruce pulls off the incredibly difficult act of making us root for cocky characters, and he achieves this because in classic movies like the original “Die Hard” we sense the vulnerability behind the show of cockiness.

        • IgorWasTaken

          If you’re saying that words have constant meanings, regardless of the setting, I disagree.

          Look at the law. Words that mean one thing in everyday parlance mean something quite different in the law. For example, in some areas of the law, “including” means all those things following the word “including” but no more (i.e., nothing that is not mentioned), while “comprising” means all the things following the word “comprising”, but possible other things, as well.

          The word “love” can mean myriad things, depending on context.

          Of course, script grammar is different from regular grammar. For example: sentence fragments and comma splices. And in the broader, technical sense, “grammar” encompasses the rules for using language. And in script grammar (or “script-grammar”), I contend that the word “smirk” encompasses more than the meaning given in a dictionary of everyday usage.

          • JakeBarnes12

            The verb “to smirk” has no legal, screenwriting theory, or other specialized jargon usage.

            None.

            Therefore your points about other words with such usages do not apply here.

            This is about semantics, not grammar, so your point about grammatical rules being bent in screenwriting has no relevance to the meaning of words used to describe actions in screenplays.

            Yes, the verb “to love” can mean several things.

            The verb “to smirk” however, is simpler because it describes a physical action, though one of course that suggests an attitude; smugness, arrogance.

            This particular verb used in narratives (stories, including screenplays) to describe an action, and that action is “to smile smugly.”

            That’s it.

          • IgorWasTaken

            JB wrote: “The verb “to smirk” has no legal, screenwriting theory, or other specialized jargon usage.”

            More ex cathedra?

            You need to look up the word “grammar”.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Now you’re just being snide and rude.

            I understand it’s because you have no reasoned response to any of my points, but it’s still uncalled for.

            Why should I need to look up the word “grammar,” for example? You’re the one who mentions grammar in a discussion about semantics.

            Further, what do uses of “Day” and “Night’ within a screenplay have to do with the meaning of “to smirk”? None.

            Have the maturity to admit when you’re wrong about the definition of a common word.

          • IgorWasTaken

            JB wrote: “Why should I need to look up the word “grammar,” for example? You’re the one who mentions grammar in a discussion about semantics.

            It seems you’ve taken exception to my inclusion of “semantics” under the umbrella of “grammar”.

            But consider – Earlier in this thread, you cited Merriam-Webster. That suggests you accept them as an authority on these sorts of things. And so, if you follow this link to it’s page on the word “grammar”, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grammar , you will find, inter alia:

            grammar
            noun (Concise Encyclopedia)

            Rules of a language governing its phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics…

            “… and semantics“.

            QED

          • JakeBarnes12

            I’m afraid you’re oversimplifying, Igor.

            I use a dictionary definition for a simple verb like “to smirk,” a definition that proves that you’re wrong, by the way, and you then proceed to argue from the assumption that dictionaries are equally adept at providing good definitions for fields of academic study.

            Then again, I can’t really blame you. This is not your field.

            Suffice it to say that while arguments have been made within the field of linguistics for semantics to be classified as a part of “grammar,” this is a widely rejected argument.

            Regardless, the point remains that you were citing examples of “comma splices” and “sentence fragments.” This has nothing to do with semantics, which concerns itself with the meaning of words.

            In this case, the verb “to smirk” is not used any differently in screenwriting than in everyday speech.

            You have failed to give any example of this “special” screenwriting use of the word because you can’t.

            Others have also pointed out to you that you’re using the word in the wrong way, but you refuse to listen.

            Fine. It’s your problem.

          • IgorWasTaken

            JB wrote: “… and you then proceed to argue from the assumption that dictionaries are equally adept at providing good definitions for fields of academic study.

            As was explicit in my post, the dictionary cited an encyclopedia.

            JB wrote: “Then again, I can’t really blame you. This is not your field.

            Or, maybe it is.

            Besides, beware the man of learned letters, for he may know not how to properly arrange them.

            JB wrote: “Suffice it to say that while arguments have been made within the field of linguistics for semantics to be classified as a part of “grammar,” this is a widely rejected argument.

            “Suffice it to say…” Wow. How compelling. No authority, just more ex cathedra.

            “Suffice it to say…” Indeed.

          • JakeBarnes12

            All you can do is try to shift attention away from the fact you don’t know what “to smirk” means.

          • Jaco

            Way to jump the smirk shark you two. Now get a room.

            *smirk*

          • JakeBarnes12

            Best offer I’ve heard all day. :)

          • Yuri Laszlo

            I think your use of ‘smirk’ in that post is incorrect.

          • IgorWasTaken

            JB wrote: “Further, what do uses of ‘Day’ and ‘Night’ within a screenplay have to do with the meaning of ‘to smirk’?

            Stumped you on that one? Huh.

            See, in everyday parlance, 7PM is “evening” or “night”, and 5AM is “morning”. But in scripts, 7PM is “DAY” if the sun is up, and 5AM is “NIGHT” if the sun is down.

            And this time of year, above the Arctic Circle, it may read midnight on the clock, but it’s “DAY” in a script. And by convention, people get that.

            IOW, those are just two (other) examples of how some words are used in scripts in ways that are quite at odds with how they are used in everyday parlance.

        • IgorWasTaken

          BTW, what word do you use for this type of facial expression:

          When a character’s reaction is – “Uh, my darling daughter, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, because you are an idiot, and you make me wonder if I really am your father, but in a moment, when I find the right, gentle words, I’m gonna tell you that maybe we need to find a solution that is perhaps a bit better.”

          Or – “Uh, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, because you are an idiot, and in a moment, when I find the right words, I’m gonna tell you how truly idiotic that idea is.”

          Me? I often go with “smirk”.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Thanks for providing examples, Igor.

            Probably the best fit to describe those looks is a “grimace.” You might need to add a modifier in some cases such as “embarrassed,” though probably not necessary.

            But, no, “smirk” would not work there unless the character were smiling smugly about the other person’s stupidity.

            I’m afraid you’ve been using a word that doesn’t really fit.

            You’ll find that if you read more and wider in English it will great improve your sense of a word’s meaning and appropriate situations to use it.

          • witwoud

            I agree. Unless the Dad were an utter asshole he wouldn’t smirk at his daughter’s mistake. He might do so with his pompous brother-in-law, however. A smirk always has a sense of triumph and one-upmanship about it.

          • IgorWasTaken

            witwoud wrote: “Unless the Dad were an utter asshole he wouldn’t smirk at his daughter’s mistake.

            Perhaps. And yet, it happens all the time in comedies with dysfunctional families.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Witwoud’s point is that your proposed usage of “smirk” doesn’t fit the example.

            So that’s two people telling you you’re wrong.

            If you want to continue embarrassing yourself, go right ahead.

          • IgorWasTaken

            This part of the thread started out with Citizen M writing: “It’s creeping in more and more. It was used fifteen times in three different scripts this week. And I don’t think writers are using it correctly.

            A few things about that. First, he has the good manners and grace to note, “And I don’t think writers are using it correctly.” IOW, it’s his opinion. A fine opinion. I just happen to disagree, as I posted back to him.

            He also wrote: “It was used fifteen times in three different scripts this week.” Now, I don’t know the specific scripts he’s citing, so maybe I’d agree with him as to those; maybe not. Either way, right there are 3 people who apparently use “smirk” to me something other than what’s cited in an everyday-parlance dictionary.

            In any event, while we both seem to appreciate the use of words, we have a difference of opinion as to how some of them should be used.

            More significantly in this context, you seem more focused on what words mean in the abstract, while I’m more focused on their context, on going with the writer’s flow. As long as I get it, I don’t care so much if the word was a bit off, or it a better one might have been… better.

            When I use “smirk” in a script, I mean “an odd look”, leaving the rest to the reader to discern from the context. And from many scripts I’ve read, I see that other writers do the same.

            If you have a computer folder filled with scripts in pdf, especially scripts written by pros, use some search software that will batch-search the word “smirk” in all of them. Or not. But FWIW, that’s often how I discern how language is used in screenplays – and when I am writing a screenplay, I only care about how words are used in screenplays (even if such usage would be off/wrong/totally wrong in any or all other contexts).

          • JakeBarnes12

            Final attempt:

            1. When you use “smirk” to mean “an odd look” you are using the word incorrectly. This is not a matter of opinion in the same way that you cannot use “to sit down” to mean “to take one step sideways.”

            When you read other scripts and you think that this is what the writer is doing, you are wrong. You are misreading the script because you yourself don’t understand the word.

            It’s a free world, you can write as imprecisely as you wish, but know that your reader will think that your character is smiling in a smug, condescending, etc. way. The connotation is almost always negative.

            The sensible thing for you to do is to readjust your usage of the word.

            2. You keep saying that you’re only interested in how words are used in screenplays, as opposed to everyday life. If thousands of common words like “to smirk” had different meanings when used to tell a story in screenplays (or novels, or short stories) versus other areas of life, no one could understand what the heck was happening in a screenplay! They would have to learn a whole new language.

            But even if this claim were true, in this particular case the verb “to smirk” and the noun “a smirk” are used no differently in screenplays than they are in everyday usage. They have the same meaning.

            Best of luck with your writing, igor.

          • IgorWasTaken

            I mis-wrote.

            As I suggested in my earlier posts, but not this time, I should have written this time, “an odd look, with a sense of amusement”. Not that that makes a difference to you, but FWIW, I thought I’d correct my error of incompleteness.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Huh. I suppose I’ll just have to live with your being unimpressed with my command of the English language.

          • ChinaSplash2

            I’d probably go with ‘indulgent smile’ and ‘nervous grin’, respectively.

            Also, when did comma splices become OK in screenplays? Sentence fragments, sure, but comma splices? I’ve never heard that before.

          • IgorWasTaken

            INT. JOE’S APARTMENT

            Joe trips as he runs into the kitchen, grabs his gun from a cupboard, runs out.

          • ChinaSplash2

            That’s not a comma splice.

          • IgorWasTaken

            OK, I’ll bite. What do you think a “comma splice” (or “comma-splice”) is?

            AFAIK, it’s independent clauses connected merely by commas – i.e., w/o a conjunction. That example meets that definition.

          • ChinaSplash2

            I’m sorry; this wasn’t meant to be a trick question.

            Your definition of comma splice is correct, but you seem to misunderstand what it means. The example you gave doesn’t contain independent clauses and in fact illustrates asyndeton — which is perfectly acceptable anywhere, and indeed very common in screenplays.

            A comma splice would be, eg:

            Joe trips as he runs into the kitchen, the gun falls out of the cupboard.

          • IgorWasTaken

            OK. Well, I see examples like yours all the time in scripts. Here’s an example from the first pdf I just opened:

            Wolfe helps Titmus run, Carter keeps close to their heels.

            That’s from “LINE OF SIGHT” by F. Scott Frazier.

            As for the word, “asyndeton” – Thanks. I’ve never encountered that before. When I looked it up just now, I found that at least one language expert says that that is a type of comma splice.

            Ward Farnsworth, “Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric”. (Here’s the link to Google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=1tmyiqjvpnYC&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=asyndeton+%22comma+splice%22&source=bl&ots=yuiWWRQJm2&sig=OWC7hZm2zH8nnMi7zakSg-6KrcQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qoXHUZPNHs-04AOe8IGoBg&ved=0CEgQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=asyndeton%20%22comma%20splice%22&f=false )

            Asyndeton also can be used to link entire independent clauses that might have stood by themselves as sentences – the “comma splice” despised by many grammarians but which has rhetorical value when used judiciously; much of its value arises precisely because it violates grammatical convention.

            As it happens, maybe that last point applies to the same sort of usage in scripts.

          • ChinaSplash2

            That’s a great example! It clearly ‘violates grammatical convention’, but I have to admit it totally works — and I’d even say it works better than using a technically correct period.

            Most of the comma splices I see — and I’m seeing a lot of them in all kinds of writing these days — are run-on sentences of the ‘bad’ kind, though. And as your man Farnsworth suggests, it probably doesn’t hurt to make sure your rhetorical credibility is already established if you want your comma splice to be seen as a stylistic decision rather than a blunder. This is not a stunt for beginners. I think it also helps enormously that in this case, the comma is linking two short, parallel clauses in an action script.

            Still, you’ve certainly shown that a comma splice *can* work — and can sometimes be very effective too. Thanks!

          • IgorWasTaken

            your man Farnsworth

            I love that. Maybe a movie title: “Our Man Farnsworth”

            And CS2, thanks for the conversation.

          • ChinaSplash2

            I thought it was a good conversation too. Until you went back and fucking edited everything.

            Why would you even do that? (Rhetorical question. I’m gone.)

          • IgorWasTaken

            Sorry for any offense. I did tweak a few things immediately after my initial post, but I certainly didn’t knowingly do it after you posted. If I did, I apologize.

            AFAIK, the only thing I changed after anyone’s post was a mistake I admitted to. But if/when that ever happens, I don’t delete my mistake; rather, I change the mistaken part to strike-out text. For example, here’s where I said I made a mistake: http://scriptshadow.net/amateur-offerings-weekend-16/#comment-939745385 And here is the post I corrected with strike-outs: http://scriptshadow.net/amateur-offerings-weekend-16/#comment-939687072

            Again, if I did do any after-the-fact changes, that timing was unintentional, and mea culpa.

    • Jonathan Soens

      Mmm, I dunno. I’m sure I’ve had my heroes smirk in things I’ve written.

      But only when I’m using that word to convey something other than a plain smile.

      Like, if they’re doing something mildly wrong that they know they shouldn’t really be doing (abusing their power, or kind of taunting/mocking someone).

      Or if what I’m trying to say is that they “smile smugly” or “smile knowingly.” And I just cut it down to “smirk” because I don’t want to use two words to say that they’re smiling kind of obnoxiously when I feel like I can accomplish the same thing by just using the word “smirk.”

      • witwoud

        James Bond smirks.

      • IgorWasTaken

        “smile knowingly” – I use “smirk” to suggest that very sort of look all the time. Unless I need to specify “knowingly” to ensure I’m being clear to the reader.

        In a way, “smirk” is often an alternative to “a beat”, but with some minor specificity. It’s there, in part, for tempo. IOW, there are times in the script where I can envision a character smirking, but it’s not specified on the page; other times, it is specified. IMO, oftentimes the difference is the tempo of the scene.

        • JakeBarnes12

          According to Igor, a “smirk” is an alternative to a “beat.”

          Igor continues, “it’s in there, in part, for tempo…. The difference between a character smirking and not smirking oftentimes is the tempo of the scene.”

          Indeed.

          Please continue to write these smirking characters of yours, Igor.

          I have no doubt your scripts in their turn are enjoyed by smirking readers.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Thanks, I shall continue to write them. And more significantly, I shall continue to read them in scripts written by pros.

    • Paul Clarke

      So half an hour after reading this, I was actually doing some writing. Got to a scene with the villain. Typed out ‘deviously grins’.

      Deleted it. Typed ‘smirks’.

      Brilliant. Still not sure if it will have the desired effect. I feel the urge to write ‘smugly smirks’. Just to emphasize the idea.

    • IgorWasTaken

      M, if you’ve read any of the posts dangling from your “smirk” post, or even if you haven’t… On the subject of words being used in screenplays for non-standard meanings, I read this at “another screenwriting forum”, and after some research, I believe it’s true:

      In scripts, the verb “clock” is regularly used to mean something that AFAIK no dictionary says it means – “look at”. As in, “A hot girl enters the bar and Fred clocks her.”

      • witwoud

        That meaning of ‘clock’ is chiefly British. It’s in the OED.

        • IgorWasTaken

          Interesting. Thanks. I could not find that meaning – to look at, check something/someone out – at any on-line dictionary. But, I’ve seen it used that way in a number of pro scripts, which worked for me.

          The only British use I found on-line was at Merriam-Webster: “chiefly British : attain, realize — usually used with up |just clocked up a million … paperback sales — Punch|”

        • Citizen M

          I have certainly heard ‘clock’ used for ‘take a look at’. It’s a slang word in that application.

          urbandictionary: “clock” 1) To regard an act or object.

          In fact, I thought the Spike Lee movie “Clockers” referred to gang members on lookout duty. I was wrong, even though I’ve seen the movie. On checking IMDb I see Clockers refers to drug dealers who work around the clock on an organized schedule.

  • kidbaron

    Gave WW a shot even though I had this sinking feeling it was just fan fic… Yeah, it didn’t work for basic reasons. Why would a writer put the time and energy writing spec from a known property? DC and WB won’t look at it. Aren’t you better off showing off your originality and creativity?

    • Joe Marino

      It makes sense. Remember, Carson is doing a Star Wars week, too. Hollywood has been trying for decades to get Wonder Woman off the ground but never can seem to get the script right. From a marketing standpoint, imagine the boom that would occur if THE NEXT BIG SUPERHERO BLOCKBUSTER was discovered via Scriptshadow. That would single-handedly throw SS to a WHOLE new level I don’t think we can even begin to imagine. It’s smart business. If Hollywood can’t find the right WW script, maybe SS can.

      • kidbaron

        Very true. And a few years ago when Joss Whedon was in the news for working on a failed Wonder Woman script 2 other writers made a sale of a WW script based in the WW II era because the producers wanted to bury it.

        I’m a fan of the comic and character. The George Perez run post-Crisis On Infinite Earth is a high point of the comic’s history. John Byrne’s and Greg Rucka’s runs were decent, too. I read the new New 52 run for 12 issues, but got bored with it.

        I read 25 pages of this and the story seem more concerned with Steve Trevor than Wonder Woman. If you’re going to break in with a Wonder Woman script wouldn’t you want to be able to show that you can write the character instead of making her a second fiddle to Steve Trevor?

        • Joe Marino

          It just goes to show why the story has proven to be so difficult to crack, even for the most hardcore of professionals like Whedon. The only time I’ve seen her done right was in the 2000’s animated Justice League show. But even then, she didn’t have to headline.

    • Jonathan Soens

      I actually thought it wasn’t uncommon to use known properties when you’re trying to get attention as a writer.

      Haven’t there been comedy writers who got attention by sending someone a script for “The Simpsons” despite having no affiliation whatsoever with the show?

  • andyjaxfl

    I thought the amateur scripts had to be original ideas and not based on books that you didn’t own the rights to, or comic books and other properties owned by studios?

  • GoIrish

    Made it to p. 26 of Abstract. Chose it primarily because it was described as a dark comedy (in part). I wasn’t really getting that vibe, so I decided to stop. It read more as a drama (perhaps the dark comedy aspects come in later). One suggestion for the writer – he may want to reconsider the voice over or at least minimize its use. It felt a little strong.

    Made it p. 14 of Evacuation London. I found the premise interesting, but there needs to be a little more focus on clarity. I realize England may have a different definition of “yard,” but in America it would typically be associated with lawn/trees in the back of someone’s house. So, it was a little surprising when the “crouches by the rear door to a shop” line appears. I was wondering where this building came from. While the use of “yard” is perhaps fine, it may be helpful to let the reader know there is a building in the yard initially. Also on p. 1, we’re introduced to Dale and then we get the line “in the sky above THEIR heads.” Where we’ve only met one character, it felt odd to use “their.” Dale and Dennis then enter the shop. (spoiler) When Dennis dies, Dale flees the shop and winds up at Freja’s house. Dale, Freja, and her father Raj ultimately leave the house and take cover in the same shop that Dale entered initially. Felt a little circular.

  • Trent11

    ABSTRACT – Someone needs to tell this writer that he wrote a SCREENPLAY, not a NOVEL. The majority of the action lines are character’s thoughts, which will never appear on screen. This equates to totally irrelevant (wasted) space on the page. Put me off right away, and I could never take it seriously as a screenplay.

    • Avishai

      So, are you saying that Abstract… deals often in the abstract?

  • kenglo

    Just from the loglines –

    Paralleled – Great Premise, high budget

    Anyway But Dead – Pretty good premise, easy to produce

    Evacuation London – Great premise, high budget, BUT – can we love the gang banger and companion?

    Wonder Woman – eh? Also, wasn’t Dr. Psycho in the old Sega Sonic game??
    Abstract – I don’t get it. But hey, I hated that Eternal Sunshine thingy too, so maybe it’s me.

    • kenglo

      Reply to meself –

      Evacuation London – lot of rookie mistakes on the first two pages, and it just jumps right in there, no explanation as to how and why they are where they are. Leaving it to the reader to figure it out.

      Paralleled – WOW. Lose the Title page! Other than that, by page 3 I was pretty fascinated. Will read this one for sure.

      Anyway But Dead – K reading this, nothing is standing out. At bit long in the tooth as far as dialogue, but I will continue.

      My vote so far, PARALLELED

  • A_Wood

    TITLE: Wonder Woman

    Lost me at the logline.

    TITLE: Paralleled

    Again, lost me at the logline. If the logline is this confusing, I can only imagine what the script reads like.

    TITLE: Anyway But Dead

    After finding out that the first word of the title was wrong, I didn’t go any further.

    TITLE: Abstract

    The logline made me want to open the script.

    I read until page 25. Didn’t care at all for the protagonist or what happened to him. I had no reason to root for this guy. The writing is good but there were too many times it read like a novel for me. “His eyes stare at the keys. Fingers tremble over them, afraid to strike. Afraid of what he may expose.”

    Also, the exposition was a little heavy handed. “It’s not like your father left you and your mom his fortune — he gave it up to charity, remember?”

    TITLE: Evacuation London

    Best of the loglines. Again, made me want to read the script. Great start! It made me want to keep reading. Do pay attention to the other comments here. There are several typos and the redundant sky reference is bothersome as noted above.

    I disagree with describing the spaceship hovering over London. That’s the job for the visual effects people. Unless there is a specific story reason for a spaceship description, leave it out, it’ll just slow down the read.

    My vote goes for Evacuation London.

  • Poe_Serling

    Based only on the title and logline, I might go with Evacuation London. Kinda gives me a Quatermass vibe – aliens in London and the nearby English countryside.

    Those into classic science fiction horror, the Quatermass films from Hammer studios make for an entertaining movie marathon on some lazy Saturday afternoon.

    >>The Quatermass Xperiment (in US – known as The Creeping Unknown).

    >>Quatermass 2 (in US – known as Enemy From Space) My personal favorite. It’s an underrated paranoid film in the vein of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    >>Quatermass and the Pit (in US – known as Five Million Years to Earth).

  • rsuddhi

    The most intriguing sounding script based on the logline alone is Paralleled, but the execution has to be spot on, otherwise it has the potential of being a huge mess. Plus, we all know how Carson feels about these types of scripts.

    However, I’m personally drawn to Abstract, not only the logline, but the writer. There are some similarities we share (minus the optioned script part) – been writing since I was 15, had a short produced; of course Michael is a lot further along than I’d like to be. I opened it up and read the first 10 pages. It was well-written, and we set up the main character well. Only issues is the VO might go on for a little too long, almost the whole first 10. I stopped there for now, but it looks like this could be a good script to show off some nice character development. I’ll root for this one.

  • Avishai

    I’m curious about the Wonder Woman one, because it leads to a lot of questions. Chief among them, does it ever pay to write a spec based on a major property? I’m guilty of trying my hand at a few of those, but I never expected to sell any of them. They were exercises. What are the benefits of writing for a character you don’t own?

    • Will Vega

      I was told by Franklin Leonard personally that you can, but unless you know the people who own the rights you can only use it as a writing sample. So if it’s a kickass script based on a property you don’t own, the script may not get picked up but you might get assignments based on the quality of the work.

      • Avishai

        That’s interesting. I’d like to know more about that. I assume that despite the fact it might earn a writer assignments, it’s probably not encouraged to write specs based on pre-existing material instead of original concepts?

        • Will Vega

          I think it’s more beneficial, cause if you write a kickass spec you made up yourself or own the rights to they can buy it on spot and have something to work with.

          • kidbaron

            Look at what folks do to get on TV shows. They are judged by the specs they write of the hot shows on TV. If you want to get on the hot cop show, give them the spec you wrote based on SouthLAnd or The Shield. So if you look at it that way… sure.

          • Avishai

            That’s something I didn’t know. Specs based on TV shows, to get work on TV shows? Fascinating.
            Another reason I would like to see Carson tackle this: He has the Star Wars spec month (week? day?) coming soon. I would love to know what writers who create Star Wars specs are expected to do with them once they have them.

          • Will Vega

            Yeah, it’s true. It’s how you get into the NBC, ABC/Disney, CBS, and Warner Fellowships. I wrote one recently and sent it out to two of those.

            The idea is if they like the script, they’ll buy it from you and hire you as staff writer if you get the tone and style of the show. The scripts that stand out are the ones that do that and also manage to push the content a little further, hopefully to a place where the showrunners haven’t thought of yet and also fits into the show perfectly.

            That’s how dudes like Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad) got gigs. He wrote a spec for the X-Files and they ended up buying it and making it into an episode. Became writer throughout the show’s tenure.

          • Avishai

            This stuff is really intriguing. Thanks for telling me about it.

          • Will Vega

            For sure! TV is the way to go nowadays, though I prefer doing features. It’s worth looking into.

          • TruckDweller

            I’m really not trying to be argumentative. Perhaps there are a few sales for 3k from those programs. Let me just layout what I know and Avishai or Mr. Vega can add that to their knowledge or disregard it as they see fit.

            1. The current recommendation to get read for television by a show runner or a tv prodco is to write a pilot. This is for outside of those fellowship programs. It is not true for all showrunners but has become true for many that they prefer reading something original. Either way, if you’re establishing yourself for television, you should have a number of pilots and a number of specs under your belt. If you’re in Los Angeles, there are many opportunities to go see your favorite television writers speak. Go to these. At some point, they will invariably be asked if they prefer to read specs or pilots. Listen to their answer, write it down, then write what they want. Most tend to say pilot now in the hour long drama world, but not all.

            2. Do these pilots by amateur writers get made? Yes. They know you’re green but there are producers out there they will pair you with. There are also showrunners that they will feel comfortable pairing you with. Pilots get you meetings and contacts. Specs, not so much. I know this from advice as well as personal experience. Hopefully, the ScriptShadow community will know it by experience soon when the elusive pilot week finally happens.

            3. A word on the fellowships: Lately, most of these have become staffing programs. They exist because they have a near 100% track record of getting their student/clients staffed on television shows. Awesome, right? How do they do this? They select candidates that already have the contacts and the experience to be a professional writer, they just may lack the luck component. The closer you are to having made it already within television, the more likely you are to be selected. This is especially true of the arguably most prestigious ABC program where they recently added the rule that they are no longer taking agent letters as your recommendation. Also, at least one of their selections for this past year was previously in the NBC/Universal program before. You are competing against near professionals that are all very good at what they do. If you’re just dabbling in television, you won’t win the big ones. My advice would be to start looking to work in a writing department as a writer’s P.A. or apply to the Nickelodeon fellowship. You need to pad your resume with as much writing oriented TV as possible for the best chances of winning those contests. If you don’t believe me, each year the fellowships hold conferences around Los Angeles. Go to them. Report back what you’ve learned.

            4. As for the sue/3k portion, I personally don’t know any stories of people getting 3k for a spec. If it still happens, that’s awesome. I have a Parks and Rec and a Raising Hope this year that I’d be happy to get 3k for since the alternative is saying “hooray for practice.” From the meetings I’ve attended and advice I’ve received from professionals, I’m unaware that your submission to a fellowship will ever be looked at in this manner. The release form they give you to sign is pretty boiler plate. Same release you would sign if you submit any material to them outside of the fellowship. I’m not saying it can’t happen, I just don’t know of any recent incidents where it has. I’d love to be proven wrong with recent examples if you know of any.

          • Will Vega

            Neither am I! I was just sharing knowledge I received from other working TV writers about the subject. It’s hard to know whether a person is just having a discussion or being defensive by just words alone.

          • TruckDweller

            If you’re applying to those Fellowships, you absolutely have to choose a show that is currently on the air. More to the point, they will never ever buy these episodes and air them. They’re purely contest pieces. It would be extremely rare for a television spec to be read by the show runner or writers of the show you specced specifically for legal reasons. Vince Giligan got his start in ’95 and I’m afraid those chances are now minuscule if not gone completely.

          • Will Vega

            Yes the show has to be at least on the air and in its second season or more. And yes they do buy them. It’s actually rare they would air them just the way you wrote them. If they like the general idea and its adequate in its execution, they’ll buy it for a paltry sum and rewrite it themselves.

            In the release forms you sign before you send in material, it specifically states they will buy the script should they choose to. The price is locked at 3k. And it also says if they happen to come up with something similar, I cannot sue them. That’s how this whole thing works. Legally speaking, its just much easier to buy the script than rip it off and not compensate the original writer. Especially new original material.

            It is true Gilligan was already in the business before he wrote for X-files but it still happens. While networks are looking for pilots and new material, they rather get that from proven showrunners and producers than nobodies.

          • MaliboJackk

            I have a pet theory that anyone could have written an episode for the X-Files.

          • TruckDweller

            Nowadays, TV writers are encouraged to write pilots. And you rarely see anyone write show that has been off the air or has been cancelled. Oftentimes a show runner will refuse to read a spec of a show that is too close or similar. They want to hear your voice and imagine what that can bring to their show.

            It’s interesting to me that TV is running one direction while features seem to be heading in the other direction. I imagine the truth behind the reasoning lies in the financing and distribution outlets.

  • kidbaron

    Carson,

    I’ve been reading bits from Lynda Obst’s new book, Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business, and a few articles asking if it’s still worthwhile to write original specs. With the Wonder Woman spec and your Star Wars contest where you think if you find a great Star Wars script you can get Disney interested…

    Those two things got me thinking about TV and how folks get hired to write shows. They are judged by the specs they wrote of hot shows. You want to get on the new hot cop show send the story editor your SouthLAnd or The Shield specs. The new sitcom? Then send over your samples of 2 Broke Girls and Hot In Cleveland.

    So nowadays if you want to write Marvel’s new Doctor Strange movie, send them your Wonder Woman and Indiana Jones specs? Is that becoming a new way to get looked at?

    Seeing where the studios are nowadays is that a smart thing to do, i.e. write a spec based on characters owned by corporations? But would the right folks take those seriously or dismiss them as fan fic?

    Is that a Thursday article?

    • Jonathan Soens

      I think, at the very least, there are people who will read something based on a known property just out of curiosity.

      For instance, when Carson asked for submissions for TV pilots, I wrote something involving Walt Disney World. Now, I’m under no illusion that my script would ever be bought and turned into a TV show.

      First of all, only a Disney-affiliated network could even produce such a project, so the market is tiny right off the bat (eliminating almost all of the networks from consideration).

      But, so many people have been to Disney World or Disney Land, and not many movies or TV shows have been shot there (except when a “Roseanne” or TGIF type of ABC show would do an episode where they go to Disney World), so I thought people might read it just out of curiosity.

      Additionally, I figured that if I worked for Disney (or the Disney Channel or ABC or ABC Family), I’d certainly read almost any Disney-related script that came along just to see what’s what. Really, no matter where I worked, if there was a script floating around that was related to my employer/company, I’d probably read it just out of curiosity.

      So, I can understand thinking, “Well, this won’t get bought and produced. But it could conceivably get some eyeballs on something I’ve written, which would be a victory for me.”

  • Citizen M

    Later, Grendl scares Carson and Miss Scriptshadow.

    • Poe_Serling

      By the recent swing in up-votes, I think someone might just have a major crush on you.

  • Kieran ODea

    Got to page 58 in ANYWAY BUT DEAD.
    Had some funny/interesting parts but overall the whole thing got a bit repetitive.
    Has potential.
    Wasn’t a huge fan of some of the writing but it was still good enough.
    Not sure about the others but ANYWAY BUT DEAD wouldn’t be a bad pick for friday.

  • Andrew Yoo

    So when does the flashback end????
    Jk.

  • D.A.

    Any Way But Dead writers here. Thanks to those who read. There’s definitley some rough spots in the script for sure. That’s why we wanted to send it out here to get feedback. After working on the damn thing for so long you start to go crazy with it. Any suggestions and comments are absolutely appreciated. Taking a break from it to work on a few other projects. So we’ll be checking back in to see what you guys got for us. Also looking forward to reading the other projects this week. Sorry about the title error too. How the hell did that slip through the cracks?

    • Nate

      I enjoyed it. It was a fast read. Wasn’t quite expecting the Shawn and Gibbons team up which is nice. One suggestion. Perhaps you should kill Shawn instead of Frank.

      Frank is the one who wanted to steal the money and Shawn reluctantly went along with it. As it is I couldn’t really connect with Shawn or Frank. Even though they
      had families I still found them to be complete assholes. They would steal money from gangbangers, get handjobs from soccer moms and just be total tossers. And that’s the reason why I didn’t feel anything when Frank died.

      So I think if you kill Shawn off it will provide enough motivation for Frank to go after Corso as one final act of redemption. He’s already dying so he might as well go out guns blazing, right?

      Keanu Reeves character in Street Kings is a perfect example of how you make the corrupt cop a likeable protagonist. He was a dick at first but he became very determined to uncover the reason behind his ex-partner’s murder. Because of that you didn’t really care that he was corrupt. Deep down he was still a cop. He still wanted to do some good in the world.

      I didn’t get that with Frank or Shawn. They honestly felt like gangbangers dressed up as cops. You don’t actually see them do any police work. Which made them unbelievable.

      Also I think Shawn should be a rookie cop whose father was Frank’s ex-partner. Because he’s a rookie whose dragged into stealing the money, we’d feel more sympathy for him when he dies (that’s if you choose to do that). You could explain that because he’s known Frank for a long time, he knows he’s not exactly straight.

      It would make the audience feel sorry for both characters. Shawn because he wanted nothing to do with it anyway and Frank because he’s just unwittingly killed the son of his best friend.

    • TruckDweller

      Nice. If this isn’t selected for Friday, I’ll try to give the entire piece a read and get back to you here.

    • Kosta K

      You got my vote, but you have to cut the scene where Desilva bursts into tears. Women are not going to respond to that very well. She comes off as a badass when she’s introduced and was the only likeable character in my opinion. I suggest you keep her breathing a bit longer.

      Also, maybe cut down on the body count a bit. Seems like you’re looking for big set pieces, but all you got is basic 80’s shootouts. Maybe make the gun-fights smaller, more personal and gritty – they’ll be a little more believable and more budget-friendly.

      • D.A.

        We sincerely appreciate the feedback. There’s a lot of tiny issues we have with the script….but since we’ve gotten interest from a respectable (low budget filmmaker) we want as much assistance in having a polished peice of work to show him. The DeSilva crying bit was definitley a topic of debate. But we felt it kinda fit with the character….she’s playing a hardass who really isn’t fit for the role but tries anyway and we figured showing a quick moment of that tough shell cracking was…different I guess….I don’t know…us lowly wanna bees trying to add layers I guess. And Gibbons is totally a little bit of Mike from BB….but mostly envisioned as Bruce Willis in the role…This is just awesome people are reading our stuff. Sorry this one is a bit average and cliche or whatever but the one we’re banging out now is anything but….can’t wait to see that one on A.F…..thanks guys. And CARSON..help make us stars brother!

  • klmn

    OT. Important newsflash for Carson:

    http://news.yahoo.com/hostess-twinkies-return-shelves-july-15-163913503.html

    Now maybe Miss Shadow can get a break from her kitchen duties.

  • IgorWasTaken

    Jim, thanks. But most of what I’ve posted here is based on what I’ve read in scripts others have written. Yeh, I do it, too, but it’s based on what I’ve discerned to be a convention. And as Citizen M wrote, he saw the same thing in 3 recent scripts. So, if I’m wrong, it seems I have company.

    Oh, and to reiterate a correction I posted elsewhere in this thread, I use smirk to mean “an odd look, with a sense of amusement“.

    And as I suggested to JB, if you have a computer folder filled with scripts in pdf, especially scripts written by pros, use some search software that will batch-search the word “smirk” in all of them. You still might disagree with my assessment, but that was my process.

  • lonestarr357

    I’m 25 pages into WONDER WOMAN. What, no ‘Diana’? No hidden society of women? No action of any kind? Don’t get me wrong: I’m tickled whenever I come across calling card scripts featuring pre-established characters (BLOCKHEAD, that Calvin and Hobbes script…forget the name, but it’s at the Tracking Board), but, so far, I doubt I’d see this in a theater.

    • Geoffrey Uhl

      Did you know there’s not an ounce of action in Die Hard until 20 pages in? Must every movie nowadays start with Indy running from a rock? This is a slow build, that builds and builds, which I guess I’m now starting to regret. Perhaps it was my fear of going all Transformers.

      • TruckDweller

        Keep in mind, the bulk of us read only 15-25 pages when we have this many scripts presented to us. In a different setting, you may get a different read. However, and this is an unfortunate truth of commercial film, most opportunities come across in situations like this. So until you make it or have credible contests or contacts under your belt, the hook in the first act becomes really important. You do have a hook – “Wonder Woman” – but that comes with a lot of baggage. Everyone has expectations and opinion of where they want to see this story go. The counter to this is to try to do something unexpected and fresh with the character. Perhaps you did do that as the script progressed, but it wasn’t apparent in the first twenty pages.

        Anyway, it’s important to keep the industry in mind if you decide to revise this piece and know there needs to be a strong hook ideally by page 15. You can get rid of it after someone buys it or you have some power representation but until then, you do what you need to do to get complete reads.

        • Geoffrey Uhl

          Great to know. Thank you!

          Unfortunately, the last act is the absolute best, and completely insignificant if no one gets there. However, the action does begin at page 26. Cutting ten or even five pages out of the front could help, plus some cleaner writing. Don’t think it’ll happen, too much other stuff to do, this is probably where this script dies.

          Sadly, I could see this being a great movie, with a great lead in to an even better second film. Steve Trevor will essentially BECOME THE BAD GUY. Is this script there yet? Absolutely not. I need to tone down some things, up some others. I need to get better. But with this story being the property of others, I really can’t spend any more time on this.

          • TruckDweller

            That’s probably the right attitude. Keep this in your back pocket and after you have a sale under your belt you might be able to pitch your take to Warner/DC and get paid to rewrite this. Good luck on your next endeavor!

  • Paul Clarke

    I was certain I read somewhere that Wonder Woman was in preproduction? But now I look I can’t find the details anywhere. So I guess you still have a shot.

    Congrats on the positive feedback from the Black List. My biggest issue with it was the tone. It felt very campy. Too much Richard Donner Superman, and not enough Christopher Nolan style grittiness that we’ve come to expect. Even a more humourous superhero like Iron Man still requires a serious tone these days. I just wasn’t getting that here.

    It could be that I simply don’t know the character’s history. But then again, neither will a large portion of the movie audience.

    On an amusing side note: I saw an article where they showed that the porn parody version of Wonder Woman had a much more impressive outfit and general production values than the last cheesy remake.

  • kenglo

    Has anyone read EVOS by Chip Riggs? Now THAT’S some Sci-Fi.

    • Joe Marino

      I remember you mentioning that one via Zoetrope! Has he sent to SS yet?

  • K.B. Houston

    Abstract

    Really love the tone and direction the writer went with here. He has a voice. Yes, he writes a lot, some of it unnecessary, but a lot of amateur scripts I read on this site lack a distinct and intriguing voice. This script needs a lot of work but I really respect his style. You can tell he writes with his heart.

    Only made it about 20 pages in, but a few things I noticed:

    Too many dashes. On just the second page alone there’s EIGHT three-dash “superdashes.” This isn’t even real form of punctuation — at least not one I’m aware of — so I’m not sure why the writer is using it. It’s bulky and distracting.

    Excessive narration. I’ve been seeing this a lot lately in comedy scripts. You should rarely, RARELY use narration that doesn’t describe a scene or tell us something about the character. Phrases like “What a night” don’t do anything! If he had a really crazy night, SHOW US through ACTION or DIALOGUE! But whatever you do, don’t just tell us! Sorry to pick on you Michael but this is something that has been bothering me lately.

    I come from a writing background and love simplicity. You can never go wrong with it. But I also really like reading verbose scripts as well — as long as they’re done properly. This script has too much unnecessary narration. It’s like reading a journal. You can’t do this and expect to sell. Big time execs don’t want to read a journal; they want a good story with strong characters and funny dialogue. Next time try to insert your personality into your characters and their actions, not in the script itself.

    • Michael Snyder

      Thank you so much for this feedback!

  • Joe Marino

    Ummmm… Grendl? Hi. Don’t haze me, but I have a feeling you’re not actually reading the comments you’re replying to. You seem to be reading too much into comments and taking everything we say as being an insult to you. Like, with me before, and now with Ken. He’s commenting on what struck him as being worthwhile, same as you always do. I fail to see how he’s curtailing opinions. Also, we definitely view scripts that are made/get Oscars differently than we do the ones written by amateurs trying to break in, right? So why does his opinion on “Eternal Sunshine” matter? I think it HELPS that he mentioned that because then, when readers read his opinion on why “Abstract” didn’t strike him, they know that he’s not a fan of Kaufman-esque work (whereas they might be and thus, armed with that information, will move on to other opinions).

  • kenglo

    LMAO! Ur funny Grendl…It won best screenplay – I didn’t say the screenplay sucked, I said the movie sucked. But the point is this – an opinion is an opinion, nothing more, nothing less. Just because I don’t like sappy love stories doesn’t mean you can’t (U R more than welcome to them, in a unisex sort of way), and just because you’re the grand ol’ great writer that you are (in your own spotless mind) doesn’t mean everyone else’s stories are whacked. Alas, I’ve been in too many battles with folks like you, so I retrogress. Have fun playing by (or is it with?) urself. U can delete if you wish Carson. And I apologize.

  • Citizen M

    Given that WW is a fantasy, I suppose the lightning effects and the mystery island are acceptable. I would like the story to be told from her POV earlier, though, because she’s the hero. Maybe show only cockpit scenes in the beginning, with cries from the henchmen and girls heard through the cockpit door. Make us wonder who they are. Then after landing show us the inside of the plane from WW’s POV as she gets on board and we realize with her it’s human trafficking.

  • Poe_Serling

    Five Milion Years to Earth is from ’67. Doubt if Carson could get his hands on that one. In fact, it’s probably the type of script that’s gathering dust in someone’s attic, etc.

  • kenglo

    A
    pair of genetically-enhanced CIA assassins (“Evos”) finds themselves on
    the run after a mission goes wrong and must protect a young girl with
    extraordinary abilities from their employer and a group of Evo
    mercenaries, both of whom want to take control of her abilities and turn
    her into a weapon of mass destruction– or kill her.

    • Geoffrey Uhl

      Sounds like to Firefly or Firestarter.

      At first I read it wrong and thought the Evo mercenaries were the one’s who had her and were trying to turn her into a WMD. Now that could make for an exciting new premise.

      • kenglo

        But this one’s got CIA agents morphing into disguise and a world threat. By page 1 1/2 you know this is ‘different’.

  • Geoffrey Uhl

    So I have a question. In my Wonder Woman script, everything in the beginning is orchestrated by Wonder Woman. It’s never totally revealed, but hinted at later and quite honestly, should be pretty easy to figure out.

    At one point I started off with Wonder Woman standing on the beach with a second Amazonian, watching the plane coming in, and saying something cheesy like, “It’s time we saw what these men are made of.” I cut it. It gave everything away (as well as looked super lame). Instead, she now arrives like the terminator, out of a bolt of lightning and mud.

    Is it better to start out in the know, with as much info as possible? Or being in the dark and having things reveal along the way and only when necessary? And we’re talking Action/Adventure film here, not Mystery.

  • Joe Marino

    Grendl, I didn’t say negative comments were only from haters – I said that the writer should take what he needs and leave what he doesn’t think will add to his vision. Now if it was a bad script, sure, negative criticism is amazing and the script will surely benefit from that. But when the script is VERY solid and is getting the right kind of attention, it’s best to not change the recipe that’s already working too much, you know? Now there are people commenting on this script that have valid points (and even you, okay?) that Alex may want to take into account. But overall, it’s obvious he knows what he’s doing and therefore knows his story better than any of us. Several of these comments have suggested huge rewrites that would drastically change the story and could threaten to dilute the very element that’s allowing it to make the rounds. Now I think that it’s amazing and humbling that so many talented people in this community (including you) take time out of your day to read these scripts and try to help the writer. But when you do, it’s important to bear in mind that, sometimes, suggestions just aren’t going to connect with the writer. I love this community, dude. I would never suggest that you shouldn’t convey your opinion. I actually thought you were quite tame and positive here, considering your typical behavior. I doubt you can deny that there are times where SS members go out of their way to be downright cruel and troll-ish with a script instead of caring, helpful, and constructive. I hate that. I hate when writers project their own bitterness, envy and anger at the world towards an amateur writer. It’s unnecessary and that assuredly isn’t what SS is about. When I speak of ignoring opinions entirely, I only speak of the trolls who have absolutely nothing to offer the writer or the writer’s vision. I hope that clears my end up, dude. I bear you no ill will at all, regardless of what you may think. I respect your desire to educate. I like what you say with “you have to please yourself, first and foremost as a writer.” That’s a great view to have, especially when you’re a good writer. But there’s no need for personal attacks. We obviously agree that no one’s better than anyone else and that we’re all in this together. Peace, dude.

  • Joe Marino

    Exactly! Glad he showed how it’s done with Avengers. I’m sure DC is piiiiiiiiissed that they missed out on nabbing him while they could. Still, having Nolan/Goyer is NOT a bad alternate.

  • Jonathan Soens

    I don’t see how that could be true, that you could only show the script to the people who own the property. Not an expert on copyright law or anything, but I’m rather certain you can show a script to anyone regardless of what intellectual property is contained in the pages.

    I’m not sure about selling it. But showing it to people seems like it would be entirely allowed.

    In fact, you might have a harder time showing it to the people who own the property, because they might have a policy about refusing to look at those kinds of materials just to prevent any lawsuits over similarities between their own scripts/movies and anything written by the amateur.

  • Stank

    Only had time to read 3 this week so I picked the three I was most interested in.

    WONDER WOMAN: I was out by page 8. It was just unprofessional. The plane scene had action lines that were wordy but not descriptive. I know I should have probably given this one a longer shot, but by page 8 I was completely turned off.

    PARALLELED: One version of me in one reality that is perceived likes this one, the other version of me in this reality doesn’t. For me it was sooooo close to being good. I liked the complexity, I was excited to learn more… but eventually, I just didn’t care about the characters at all. So while the story had me, the characters didn’t and ultimately I put it down around page 20.

    ABSTRACT: I like weird stuff. I only made it to page 30 (I plan on finishing) and this wasn’t that weird but I liked it. I must say it almost lost me in the 4 pages flashback to him and his wife that was a little melodramatic and full of exposition, but once I made it through that I was on board. This one I want to finish when I have more time. The only other thing besides the flashback that bothered me was the writers style. Things like he looks at the painting that is more expensive than his ring… thank god. That kinda stuff was in here a lot and it bothered me.

    Over all my vote goes to ABSTRACT.

  • Joe Marino

    Okay, I see your points, dude. But… can I say something regarding structure? I mean, yes, TYPICALLY your hero walks out having vanquished the villain and saving the day. But what Alex did was something different and risky.

    Now we all have movie elements that excite us or turn us off – and one thing I always love in a script is when it takes a turn I NEVER was expecting.

    Now maybe this is a bias, but killing Parker and then having Marcus kill Horatio was a HUGE “wtf” moment for me and I LOVED that the script made me feel that. I love traditions and normal structure choices as much as the next guy, but when someone comes along and makes a decision that’s a total curve ball, I notice, y’know?

    It’s also an ending that feels “authentic.” Not cookie cut to look like the way an ending should look. But a dark, gritty “this is life” type of tragedy. The hero does everything he can to be the hero, but in the end, it isn’t enough – an outside influence has to step in. See what I mean? It sees a typical trope (hero saves the day) and runs in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

    That ending turns this script (which was already fantastic) into something else. It doesn’t play by the rules. It doesn’t give you what you want. It ANGERS you. I was ANGRY that Parker died that way, I was ANGRY that he didn’t get the girl. And knowing that I was feeling those emotions? That told me all I needed to know about the script. It takes something special when you are ANGRY – not at the writer – but that the character didn’t get the happy ending. 9 times out 10, we just don’t care.

    Hope that makes sense. I DO see what you’re saying, Grendl, but I think a case needed to be made for an ending that doesn’t give the cookie cutter climax that 95% of movies have. Unpredictability is a powerful thing.

    • kenglo

      Yeah, I hate the cookie cutter crap we get in ‘American’ films. I prefer the ‘Asian’ films where EVERYBODY dies, and you’re numb from it all, but pleasantly satisfied.

      • Joe Marino

        Korean films are the best.

  • Joe Marino

    Oh! And also, yes, Alex might end up having to change the ending when it gets to production time. But as of right now, that ending might be a huge selling point in getting actors/directors/studios interested. They see so much of the same so often that I bet this will hit everyone hard.

    Consider, just for a moment, “Se7en.” That ending, that climax… TOTALLY un-Hollywood-like. HUGE risk. When Pitt/Freeman joined up, production wanted to change the ending because it would “alienate audiences” in its unending darkness. But Pitt? He said he would leave if they change one iota of that. So they didn’t. And look what happened – the climax of “Se7en” is the stuff of legends. It changed the cop vs. serial killer subgenre forever by elevating/transcending that tired trope.

    Maybe the ending for “Angels” will get changed. But maybe not. It might not be happy/typical, but it DOES hit you in the gut. Same with “No Country for Old Men” (which plays to your protagonist rule a bit more than “Se7en,” but I hope you get what I mean).

    But from what else you’ve said, I think the big difference between you and I regarding this script is I felt Parker earned being a hero. He was, ultimately, unsuccessful – but he did everything in his power to be one. He became that angel who just can’t pull it off. His death bothered me emotionally because of its tragic hopelessness. And you know what? It’s an ending that will stick with me.

    And isn’t that what movies are all about? Give you an experience that you won’t forget? It’s a memorable romp of darkness. And I think that’s why it will get made. It’s the experience that’s going to stick with people, whether in a angered way or a woah way.

    But yeah, if you don’t think the character earned it, that’s the chief problem. But, as you said, can’t please everyone. We just do the best we can with what we have. I do hope Alex goes far with this.

  • kenglo

    “Alex didn’t take my points into account.
    He said I was trolling, making manifestos and pounding people over the head with my points.
    Which I wasn’t.” ~

    I re-read your original post, and you are correct. You were not as bad as Alex (or I) made it sound. Some people (like my older brother, LT. Colonel Marines, retired) can sometimes come off as condescending and NOT KNOW IT.

    Your thoughts on the script have merit. It’s quite evident Joe and I, as newbie amateur writers, have had a lot of experience with some folks “pounding people over the head” with their points. Speaking for myself, I never in my life for as long as I remember, could stand by and let someone else get bullied. Maybe it is something I grew up with (my brother, my father). I blame society for all of my issues!

    In the end though, I just laugh.

    I look forward to following your comments, and possibly meeting in the future. You have a LOT of great thoughts on structure, through lines, etc.

    Yo JOE! Page 7!!

  • Maggie Clancy

    I only got about 15 pages into abstract – all the woe-is-me, drown-myself-in-booze-and-drugs just reeked of student film to me. The voice was strong, the premise just reminded me of all the black and white shorts that opened with a lit cigarette I watched in film school.