Okay folks. Doing something different this week. Many months back, I had people on my mailing list send me their best scenes from their current scripts. The plan was to read them all, then review the full scripts of the best scenes. Due to a couple of factors (the primary one being that I didn’t find anything that blew my socks off), I’ve changed my mind. Instead of reviewing the entire script, I’m only going to review the scenes. I realized that in all the reviewing I’ve done on this site, I rarely analyze and break down individual scenes. And obviously, with scenes being the primary building blocks of a screenplay, that’s kind of absurd! So this week, I’m going to review five scenes, and then, whichever one gets the best feedback, I’ll review the entire script. Let the fun begin!

Genre: Action/Sci-Fi
Premise: (from writer) ALIENS meets THE MATRIX as a troubled soldier leads a group of mercenaries into a hostile, alien dimension to retrieve an ancient artifact. Against his wishes, his estranged father is along for the ride and is the only one that can lead them out.
Scene setup: The writer’s setup is too elaborate to include, but basically we’re in a gigantic alien hive lit by a river of flowing lava.
Writer: Logan Haire
Details: 7 pages


Download and read the scene here.

As I started reading the scenes for Scene Week, I learned the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in a long time. Let me set the scene (heh heh). I was at a café for reasons beyond my control, and so had to read some scene submissions in a busy place with people constantly walking in and out of the door just a few feet away from me. It was Distraction Nation. Which meant I had a hard time concentrating.

So I’m trying to read page after page but something’s always happening. A click. A bang. A loud laugh. Something always caused me to jerk up, to see what was going on.

That’s when it hit me.

When you write, you have to write in such a way that the reader CAN NEVER LOOK AWAY. You have to make it IMPOSSIBLE for them to look away, no matter what kind of distraction pops up.

I remember reading a book a couple of years ago – “Before I Go To Sleep.” It was told from the perspective of a woman waking up with amnesia who was in bed with a man she didn’t recognize. She was scared, confused. She needed answers. She realized this wasn’t the “long night out, wake up the next morning” type of forgetfulness. This was a deep forgetfulness. Something bigger and more terrifying. Then, when she walked to the bathroom, when she looked in the mirror, she almost fainted. She saw someone 15 years older than herself staring back at her. Why the hell did she look like this?? The scene continued like this and even though I HAD to go to sleep because I had a big day the next day, I couldn’t stop reading!  I NEEDED to figure out what had happened to this woman.

I felt the same way when I read The Disciple Program and Django Unchained. Tyler and Quentin wrote these scenes that you just COULDN’T look away from, even if you wanted to. They pulled you in and never let you go. Sadly, I can’t say a single scene I read here (out of hundreds of submissions) compelled me to keep reading. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of SOLID scenes. There was a lot of professional-level writing. But again, there was nothing that made me want to read the entire script.

For that reason, I think it’s best to look at this week more as a learning experience than a “These are the best!” set of posts. The truth is, I haven’t spent a lot of time breaking down scene-writing on the site. So I’ll probably learn a few things myself.

As such, even though I know it will make the comments section messy, feel free to pitch your scene (and provide a link to it) if you felt like your scene was INDEED “Must Read” worthy. If a bunch of commenters verify that, yes, your scene kicked ass, I’ll be more than happy to review it. So again, I found about 20 decent scenes that were all of similar quality, and I’m basically picking at random between them for the 5 reviews.

For those who didn’t read the Harbinger scene, it’s basically about a group of military dudes who find themselves in some sort of alien hive. As they’re walking through this thing, they see the aliens (or demons, as they’re known) skittering through the hive walls, watching them. What starts as just watching, slowly evolves into an attack, and our guys start running and shooting in a desperate bid to save themselves. They even enact a “nano second skin” that can’t be penetrated as part of their defense. But with the demons are growing in number and with our team running out of solid ground, even that may not be enough.

I chose this scene because, while it didn’t do anything mind-blowing, it was a solid action scene that kept me entertained, that I could visualize, and that I could imagine on the big screen.

The first thing that stuck out to me is something that barely ANYONE did with their scene submission, and that’s create suspense. We see the shadows of these demons running through the hive walls as our military group is walking. We know it’s only a matter of time before they come out. So we’re on edge. That anticipation is getting us all antsy, scared of WHEN they’re going to attack. That’s how you want your audience to be. All antsed up! You never want them to be relaxed.

You know when you have one of those impossible days? You have to write, work, read a friend’s script, pick up your dry cleaning, get your girlfriend a card, pay a few bills, be home for the cable installation, etc., etc.? Add to this that you woke up late. So you’re already behind on the day. Just the thought of doing all these things in such a small amount of time stresses the hell out of you. I want you to imagine that feeling. That’s the kind of feeling you want your reader to have when they’re reading your script! They have to feel like there’s so much that needs to get done and there’s no way your characters can do it.

I also like how this scene builds. It progresses. It isn’t just stagnant and one note like a lot of the scenes I read. Aliens start slinking out of the hive, bit by bit. So the threat is getting more intense. In other words, the situation is DIFFERENT from how it was one page ago. And the threat will be even worse one page later, growing again.

I also like how when the action begins, it’s told inside 1-2 line paragraphs (with an occasional 3-liner). I see a lot of bad action scripts that pile in 3-4 line paragraphs one after another during huge action scenes. If stuff is supposed to be happening fast on the screen, shouldn’t it be happening fast in the reader’s head? To do that, you have to keep the lines short and sparse.

Likewise, Logan’s prose was very clear. And you may be saying, “Shouldn’t that be a given?” The answer is yes, but it’s something I saw a LOT of writers in Scene Submissions struggle with. And here, it’s INCREDIBLY important, because we’re talking about an alien world, an alien setting, multiple characters, and a lot of action. It’s easy for a reader to get confused if a writer isn’t doing his job.

My worry here is that the scene (and concept) is too familiar. It’s a lot like a video game (Gears of War for me, and of course, Aliens on the film side), and the lava stuff reminded me of the dreadful CGI ending to Revenge of the Sith. This kind of stuff seems like it shouldn’t matter. But it does. Anyone who reads your script is going to get a little weary if it’s too similar to something else. We want to see originality, something new and different, and that’s not what I got here. When I said earlier, “None of the scenes I read propelled me to want to read the scripts,” for Harbinger, is was that “too familiar” feeling that did it in.  I’ve been in this world numerous times already.  So why would I want to revisit it?

With that said, I might give it 10 pages. Logan has proven he can write a scene. And for that, I have to give him props.

Harbinger Scene Link

Harbinger Script Link

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read (barely made the cut)
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: I didn’t see this in Logan’s script, but his sparse writing reminded me of it. — Isolate character names during big action sequences to create more of a “vertical” read. A “vertical” read just means that a lot of the text is near the left side of the margin and all the action lines are sparse, allowing a reader’s eyes to fly down the page “vertically”). I don’t like to see this used just anywhere in a script. But it’s a GREAT approach to adapt for action writing. For example, instead of:

Jetson lands hard on the concrete, shaking the room. He spins his gun out of his holster and shoves it into Frank’s face. Frank stares down the barrel of the gun, half an inch from his nose.

You’d write:


Lands hard on the concrete, shaking the room.

He spins his gun out of its holster, SHOVES it into Frank’s face.


Stares down the barrel of the gun, half an inch from his nose.

  • Steffan


    I’m a long time reader (and have actually been reviewed on the site before) and usually I agree with you, but I disagree with what your goal was in reading these scenes.

    You say above that you were hoping to find a scene that would engender this feeling of “I’ve gotta read the whole thing, right now! I. Just. Can’t. Stop.” But, I don’t know if that’s actually possible when reading a single scene… especially one that might happen in a second or third act.

    What it seems your looking for is narrative drive. Does this scene propel you forward? Does the scene have an engine that works beyond its confines?

    I don’t think that any scene–taken out of context–has that possibility.

    I think back on the one acting class I had to take as an undergraduate to fulfill an elective slot. We got that tan covered book filled with monologues and scenes. I read through them and with many I thought, “I want to read this play.” I never said to myself, “Oh snap! What happens next?”

    I think the reason for that is when you’re reading a single scene (possibly out of context)–one of the only things you can glean from the text is the writer’s “voice”. Her tone. His pacing. Diction. Syntax. Things of that sort. Narrative drive? I think you’re asking too much. I don’t think it’s possible. I think that if you had read a middle scene from Django you’d tell yourself, “Holy hell! This Quentin guy can write! I want more of him.”

    I’m feeding my one year old as I write this so I really don’t have the energy to speculate why this is so, but I tried to think of a counter argument… and I came up with this.

    You turn on HBO and there’s a movie on of which you’ve never heard. Something really cool happens. The first thing you think in that moment is not, “I wonder what happens next.” (Notice it’s not narrative drive you’re thinking about.) What you think is, “How long has this movie been on? Is it worth watching it all the way through now or should I wait until it starts up again?” I know those are pre-DVR types of questions, but what I’m trying to get at is this: I couldn’t think of a counter argument. Even when you WATCH something, I think your thoughts always go back to narrative drive and if you want to feel the full weight of it you and I and everyone who watches movies knows that you need to see the whole thing to experience that.

    Imagine reading a scene/watching a scene from the second act of Good Will Hunting or Shawshank. You’d think they were really good, but it takes watching that opening image/scene to the end to really capture what, I think it is, you’re looking for.

    -Steffan DelPiano

    (writer of “Inhuman” http://scriptshadow.net/amateur-friday-inhuman/ )

    • lysdexicuss

      Agree with everything you just wrote, Steffan. I would love to see Carson do a breakdown of Shawshank because it is atypical in so many ways.There are no clear goals, there are several plot-lines & stories, it is long and rambling, but the final product is uber-satisfying. Anything from that movie out of context could not/would not stand alone without the befores & afters. There seem to be so many successful exceptions to the ‘rules’ of screenwriting, they ultimately rob all those rules of their supposed power.

    • K. M. Atogi

      Great comment Steffan. I will have to read Inhuman for sure now!

    • YohannDookeyblue

      Hey Steffan, I couldnt agree more. Although Im very glad to be featured on the site, it’s kind of a blessing/curse right now, and I feel like if people will give the first ten pages a try, they will understand and like the scene that much more.

      Granted, Harbinger is a scifi/action movie, but it still has substance and an actual plot. I feel like I should give people an overview, so here it goes –

      Michael believes his father, Alan sabotaged an experiment (or artifact) and in the process killed dozens of people and himself. Likewise, Alan believes his son Michael is dead, so they’re shocked to find that each other is alive. To make matters worse, Michael is leading a mission to retrieve the artifact that his father sabotaged so many years ago, but Alan is the only one who can operate the artifact, so Alan is ESSENTIAL to the mission.

      So there’s plenty of external and internal conflict. The story is moved along by action, and introduces us to Michaels crew, who board a ship and are rocketed downward into a void (caused by Alan’s sabotage) and into another dimension – once they get there they are besieged by demons, and it quickly becomes apparent this place is quite literally HELL. So they must get out, but they must use the power of the artifact and Alan’s knowledge to do so.

      So that’s a LONG logline I guess. I truly appreciate being featured on this site, but its been a rough day, I have an 18 month old so i feel you on that Steffan (not an easy job!) Also this disqus comment system is JACKED and frustrating while I’m trying to campaign my script, take care of my kid, and my wife who is 37 weeks pregnant!!!

      So I IMPLORE people to read the first 10, if it doesnt grab you, fine, it’s not your thing… but if you like action/scifi I think it will. And i welcome feedback and notes of course!



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

      It really is another AOW… because he picked the five scenes he didn’t like enough to read the script… but enough to review (or liked barely enough to review).

      And then he leaves us to pick the scene we like the best (or the scene that hints at the best story).

      I doubt he even read mine lol which is okay, because that script has changed since I’ve sent that scene in, which has now been months and months ago now.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Reading scenes in isolation is tough. So much has already been set up. When will Remy confess his love for Zero? Will Michael stop beating his wife? And can Alan confront his alcoholism?

    Or not.

    Action writing here is good, but as Carson pointed out, feels very derivative. Bunch of cyphers blast monsters as seen in a million meatheaded militaristic video games and movies.

    On the one hand I liked the dermi-shield idea because it means we get a fight IN lava, which I haven’t seen before and since the dermi-shield only lasts a short time, that adds urgency to getting out of the lava.

    On the other hand, the dermi-shield means they’re protected, which LESSENS the tension.

    But you write a scene like this, you’re gonna get compared to the gold standard and unless you’re working on a whole other imaginative level than this scene, you’re gonna get fraked. The gold standard is of course the Marines go into the Alien hive in a little-seen flick called “Aliens.”

    In “Aliens” the marines have no dermi-shield. They can’t shoot because of some plot device about hitting nuclear cores or something, so all their ammo is collected. And they don’t know what the fuck they’re up against.

    Then we have the cross-cutting to Ripley and the incompetent commander. They’re not listening to Ripley’s warnings, she’s removed from the situation, knows, like the audience, that some very bad shit is about to hit the fan, and can’t do anything about it. Then when the attack starts we have UTTER FUCKING CONFUSION. Soldiers screaming, helmet cams shaking around and going to white noise, someone FIRING A WEAPON which could blow them all up, soldiers getting disoriented and losing their way. Ripley finally taking over to try to save the survivors. Fuck me. I’m getting keyed up just thinking about it.

    That scene is the mother of all clusterfucks and you evoke that scene, you’d better have something better, more original, than a standard cutscene from Gears of War.

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      This is the perfect review of that scene. Spot! On!

      • JakeBarnes12

        Thanks, movienerd.

        I think i’d drunk a little too much coffee when I wrote it, though.

  • ximan

    “There was nothing that made me want to read the entire script.”

    I know a GREAT script when I read it. And I know the script I submitted for scene week is Bad. Ass. So if Carson read the scene I submitted and wasn’t compelled to read on, that can mean only one of two things:

    1) He didn’t read my scene.
    2) I chose the wrong scene for him to read.

    Still crossing my fingers for a review……I think :)

    • wlubake

      Glad to see you haven’t let it affect your confidence! Take him up on his offer and post your scene for the masses to read.

      • ximan

        If I’m not one of the lucky(?) ones by Friday, I will :)

    • Frankie Hollywood

      I concur, ” I can’t say a single scene I read here (out of hundreds of submissions) compelled me to keep reading.”

      Also possibilities 1) there’s either a lot of shitty Amateur writing going on or

      2) selecting one scene “randomly” isn’t the best gauge to determine overall quality.

      I also agree with Matty, “First Five Pages Week” would be better. Everyone “should” at least give you that.

      Oh well, guess I’ll have to wait for the Bluecat results, which are soon.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Tiger blood!

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    I honestly think this should’ve been like “First Five Pages Week” or something. That’s a) an important part of the script… crucial pages where you need to hook the reader and b) the beginning of the script, thus you have context.

    I can’t imagine that trying to analyze a scene taken out of any given part of a script is a very fruitful endeavor. It’d be like watching all those scenes in movies that ever made you cry without watching everything before them. What effect do they have then?

    Like Steffan said, reading a scene out of context won’t really tell you much more than showcasing the writer’s voice. It can tell you how good they are with the mechanics, how good they are with dialogue (though even that is still context dependent to a degree)… you’ll obviously get a feel of how professional of a writer they are. But that’s really it.

    • Panos Tsapanidis

      I agree with Matty on this one. To me, reviewing loglines would be something much more useful, because it’s an evaluation of the concept/idea/hook.

    • klmn

      Perhaps First Five Pages is the next contest.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        It should be! Five pages isn’t much longer than most single scenes, and could be shorter actually. First ten pages would honestly be better, but that would be a lot of reading. Five pages is still plenty to at least display voice/talent and make them want to keep reading.

        I’ve gone through about 14 blacklist scripts (that I haven’t read at all), and just picked random scenes and read them.

        Not a single one made me want to keep reading, or start back at the beginning.

        I think it was a flawed idea to begin with, unless someone submitted the first scene of their script.

        • Malibo Jackk

          A scene challenge could work.
          I can think of a few amazing scenes from movies.

          Aliens: The scene where the team is gearing up for action — and getting under each others skin. (probably a grendl favorite)

          The Devil Wears Prada: Normally a movie I would have no interest in. But there was one amazing scene. And the screenwriter had trouble with it. She was eventually told — THERE ARE NO NICE PEOPLE IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY. And, consequently, you get a scene where the girl (the protag) confides in someone she thinks is her friend that her work is hard — but doesn’t get the reaction she was expecting.

          But such scenes are limited by definition.
          A sequence would have worked better. Or perhaps part of a sequence — say limited to three – four pages. (Otherwise Carson might find himself reading 25 pages.)


    • Poe_Serling

      “… reading a scene out of context won’t really tell you much…”

      Gotta agree with the majority here.

      I read the featured scene and kinda got a vague feel for the setting, the characters, and what was going on action-wise.

      So, I went back and decided to read the script’s first ten pages or so… Then I reread the scene again.

      BAM! It’s like putting on a pair of new eyeglasses for the first time. Now you have a better picture of how the ‘scene’ fits into the overall storyline, the dynamic between Alan and Michael, and so forth.

      **The script gave me a bit of a Mutant Chronicles vibe with the giant hole in the ground and an army of underworld mutants to battle.

      • SteveCanaryWriter

        I totally agree w/ how reading out of context will diminish your reading of it. I like the action and description to this scene. I especially liked the father/son relationship. The only thing I didn’t get was the “tiny conglomerations of metal spew forth from the skin.” I couldn’t tell if they were on the heroes or the demons. Otherwise good scene.

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      First 5-25 pages is what amateur weekend offerings are to most people though. Kind of redundant.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        Yeah, but AOW is based on pitches. Something like first five pages week means Carson reads all of them (I think? I believe that’s what he did with scene week anyway). So you get through on the merit of your writing, not your “why you should read” or your logline.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Good point Matt. The one things I’ve learned from being around this site is that if you don’t grab a reader in the first 10 (honestly 5 is more accurate), you won’t grab them at all. HELL, the FIRST PAGE you write better be interesting!

  • walker

    I read the scene and I thought it was pretty good; decent action and the lava lighting the cavern is an interesting visual.
    But I must say that I noticed 9 grammatical errors in this 6-and-a-half-page scene. I realize screenwriting has some pretty flexible standards for grammar, and perhaps, as an editor and copywriter, I place too much emphasis on this aspect of the so-called “craft”. But we are supposed to be writers. Our presentation is the only thing that is fully within our control, and I am baffled as to why so many screenwriters think it is unimportant or not [x] worth the effort.

    • walker

      Feeling that I may have been harsh on the author, I went back and started to read the script from the beginning. There are at least 8 mistakes and/or necessary edits on the first page alone.

  • gazrow

    “feel free to pitch your scene (and provide a link to it)”
    Hmm… why not? Here goes…

    Title: Male-Order Bride
    Locale: Bible Belt
    Genre: Broad comedy
    Logline: A homophobe gets more than he bargained for when his mail-order bride turns out to be a gay Russian man.


    • wlubake

      Love the title.

      • gazrow

        Cool. Thanks!

    • walker

      Good title, good premise. The scene was entertaining and had some funny moments.

      • gazrow

        Thanks for the positive comments. I’m particularly pleased that you felt it had some “funny moments!” Not sure why, but I have this crazy inner urge to try and make folks laugh! :)

        • walker

          I don’t read many broad comedies, and am not qualified to critique them, but your clever premise and title made me click the link. BTW in line with my other nitpicking comment about errors today’s scene, I noticed one typo in yours “give” for “gives a wave” on the first page.

          • gazrow

            Thanks for spotting the typo. I always run spell check and read through several times, but always manage to miss something! :)

          • walker

            I only mention it because it is on the first page of the scene. I am a professional editor and missed two in the script I submitted to last year’s Nicholl. Obviously why I didn’t advance.

          • gazrow

            LOL. You’re right – typos are never good. Especially, on a first page!

          • walker

            Just to be clear, I didn’t submit a script with two typos on the first page! Two typos in the 109-page script. Still, obviously why I didn’t advance.

          • gazrow

            LOL. I was referring to me not you!

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Hey Gaz :)
      Have you done a rewrite on this script ?
      I remember liking it a lot and laughing throughout :)

      • gazrow

        Hey Marija :)

        Not a full blown rewrite. But definitely been tweaked a couple of times since you read it. Glad you liked it as much as you did! :)

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          I haven’t slept in over 24 hours, and I definitely read that as “twerked a couple times…”

          Need sleep, good Lord.

          • gazrow

            LOL. I’m betting the lack of sleep is because of the writing contest?! Good luck with it! :)

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Yes it is, and thank you! Just finished the very first draft last night. Or early this morning I should say.

          • gazrow

            Great stuff! :)

    • JakeBarnes12

      Anyone posting a scene, how about you do yourself a favor and provide some context? Tell us approx. where in the script the scene appears, who the characters are, and a line or two about what’s happened so far.

      Gary, I read the scene twice but had some problems in places understanding what was supposed to be happening. Maybe some/all was due to lack of context, but here’s one reader’s reaction anyway.

      0. Restaurant. What KIND of restaurant? Is it a diner? Fancy up-market place? Gay guy gets Zach a drink later in the scene — suggests it’s not a Denny’s. Help us VISUALIZE the scene.

      1. You introduce the waitress as Somebody Johnson. At first I thought this was a mistake. You hadn’t thought of a first name and so planned to replace it later. But then you wrote her initials were SJ. I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be funny? If so, what’s the joke?

      2. I see what you’re going for with Ferrari in a dress, but even though you try to limit the metaphor with “great bodywork, incredible drive,” I SEE an upright Ferrari in a dress, and a Ferrari has straight lines, but sexy women have great curves. I suggest turning it into a simile. “She’s like a Ferrari — great bodywork, incredible drive.”

      3. It seems that for the joke to work you need to set up at the start of the scene that Zach and Gluts are sitting SIDE BY SIDE in a booth. Then it makes sense that Zach is looking a little off to one side at the blonde and Gluts is looking straight ahead to the “Little Gay Guy” at the next table. If they’re sitting OPPOSITE each other, it doesn’t seem to work.

      4. You underline “he’s” in the line, “He’s bald.” Dude, if you’re delivering the line, it’s “bald” that gets the emphasis, but take the underline out. We get it.

      5. Maybe this is clear from what becomes before, but Gluts says “A gay guy and a straight guy can just be friends you know. Sex doesn’t have to get in the way.”

      I’ve no idea what Zach means when he responds “No, you didn’t?” Gluts didn’t do what? Then Zach says “how many times is that?” What? Gluts has befriended thirty or forty gay guys? And then Gluts says “two hundred and forty nine… It’s a classic.” He keeps befriending gay guys?

      The context for this exchange is Gluts talking about gay guys and straight guys being friends. When I say context, I mean, that’s what comes directly before so I assume this exchange relates. I am totally fucking lost.

      6. Yeah, then the exchange continues about “When Harry Met Harry.” Is Gluts gay? He talks about his ex-wife.

      7. Here’s the big one. Unless this is the first scene introducing Zach and Gluts, it seems to contain nothing which moves a story forward. There’s no PLOT here. It’s just some very broad sketch material.

      The premise sounds promising, but it’s all in the execution. Broad comedies like “American Pie” and “There’s Something About Mary” succeeded because they also had HEART. At least in this scene, there’s little in attitude to distinguish Zach and Gluts and nothing to make me want to root for either of them.

      Every single scene in a screenplay must push the story forward, otherwise cut it. This reads to me like a scene that could be cut.

      • gazrow

        Thanks for taking a look. Good point about providing some context.

        As for Somebody Johnson – her name’s not meant to be funny. Just a little unusual. We learn the the significance behind her name when she’s asked about it at a job interview: “Dad spent his entire life trying to be “somebody” – ended up a nobody. Made me a SOMEBODY the moment I was born!”

        “I suggest turning it into a simile. “She’s like a Ferrari — great bodywork, incredible drive.” Good point. Thanks!

        “7. Here’s the big one. Unless this is the first scene introducing Zach and Gluts, it seems to contain nothing which moves a story forward. There’s no PLOT here. It’s just some very broad sketch material.

        Actually, the scene serves several purposes. We discover the protagonist, Zach is a homophobe. He meets the love interest (SJ). One of the main themes is touched upon – Can a gay guy and a straight guy be friends without sex getting in the way?

        ” there’s little in attitude to distinguish Zach and Gluts”

        Well, one’s a homophobe and one’s not. One eats chicken salad and one devours pancackes with lashing of syrup! :)

      • Kirk Diggler

        You sure know how to cut to the heart of it. Excellent point about context. It seems posting single scenes is pointless unless the writer wants to give a little blurb about what led up to the scene. It can be confusing, since we really don’t know much of anything about the character relationships.

    • wlubake

      I really liked some of the jokes in the scene. I agree with Jake that I was confused who Gluts was in relation to Zach. That “No you didn’t” back-and-forth had me scratching my head too. Context should help, I’m sure.

      My biggest comment would be to take this to your closest gay friend and make sure they don’t find it offensive. Not anything that Zach does, but the behavior of the gay characters in your movie. This scene in particular has Zach being hit on, while with someone else, by a random gay guy in the restaurant. He uses over-the-top sexual language. This might happen at a gay bar (or in a heavily gay neighborhood), but it feels somewhat unrealistic in the setting of a restaurant. I’m no expert, but I recognize that’s its enough of a PC mine field to get an authority’s opinion.

      Good luck!

      • gazrow

        Thanks for your input! The scene was purposely written to be a little O.T.T. As rightly or wrongly, I felt it was needed to show how much Zach changes by the end of the story.

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      Fun scene. Starts really strong. Has some great visual moments (Reaper replacement moment is classic). The characters are well drawn. Even chuckled a couple times. Nice stuff. The writing does get a little less clear, I thought, the further into it I got and just kind of lost what momentum it started with. But not bad at all.

      8/10. Thanks for sharing!!!

      • gazrow

        Cool. Glad you liked it! :)

    • A Tribe Called Guest

      For the logline: Maybe add an additional character description to Zack? He seems kind of like a beta male in that short scene. Something like:
      “A lovesick homophobe gets more than he bargained for when…”

      • gazrow

        Good suggestion. Thanks. :)

    • Sullivan

      This reads as very tired as though it were written in the 70s before people had any idea who gays really are. It hits every negative stereotype and I found no humour in that at all. If you’re going to go this route, you should be SUBVERTING those tired clichés in some way–make the audience think you’re doing one thing, then twist it so it comes back on them and/or your character. THAT takes far more work and wit, to be honest.

    • Linkthis83

      I think the patron’s line would be better if it were just:


      Looks like he’s over his phobia.

      I wouldn’t know table numbers at a restaurant and it feels crisper and to me, funnier.

      • gazrow

        Hmm. Can see what you’re saying – certainly worth considering! :)

        • Linkthis83

          You have the most gracious style of disagreement I’ve ever seen.

          • gazrow

            LOL! :)

  • wlubake

    Would someone mind shooting me the scene by email? My work computer denies Sendspace. Much appreciated. Email is my disqus handle @gmail.com.

    • wlubake

      Got it. Thanks.

  • Alex Palmer

    Off topic, but I recently watched this entertaining lecture. I found it helpful to get back into the writing zone.

    • Guest

      Thank you for this

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    This “vertical” read as Carson calls it appears in Tarantino’s Hateful Eight in a few occasions. I didn’t realize it ’till I read it hear from Carson, that it’s indeed a useful tool.

  • davejc

    What’s a scene? A time and place? Or a camera shot? Can a scene intercut between two locations like a telephone conversation? Whatever. I submit my entry:


    • Em

      I hope Carson gets to read this. It has speed, urgency, energy – all things that, unfortunately I found lacking in the Harbingers scene. Not meaning to be negative about another amateur’s effort, but I didn’t even find Harbingers well-written – a lot of places I was reading stuff twice – and that sorta kills an action scene.
      Davejc’s offering certainly has that ‘I-want-to-read-more-factor’ that Carson’s searching for.

      • davejc

        Thank you! That was very nice of you to say.

      • davejc

        Here’s the rest of the script if you want to read more :)


        • Randy Williams

          Read some of this. Reminds me when they say on American Idol, “we could listen to you sing the phone book”. Your writing definitely is a soothing balm for sore eyes, but I could only get to page 25 of this. So dialogue heavy, yearned for more mood setting visuals (you do describe this as mysterious) and a big incident of some sort to break the squabbling rhythm by that page What was the point of Arizona? That definitely could be cut.

          • davejc

            Hi Randy
            Thank you for your kind words and good advise. I know and I apologize for the heavy dialogue. It’s only because my influences are films like V for Vendetta, Fight Club and Pulp Fiction, films with lots of characters and are 95% dialogue, monologue or voice over. I realize that puts my scripts at a disadvantage but its those parts of writing I enjoy the most. But yeah breaking it up with a big incident is a great idea.

            To answer your question, Arizona is part of a larger strategy to gain custody, a strategy which is becoming more and more common in custody battles (I’ve personally seen this tactic used in several friends custody battles and Katie Holmes is a famous example of how it’s done). The majority of states no longer award custody to a single parent. So a whole cottage industry(books, legal specialists, seminars & blogs) has grown up around teaching these strategies. This script is a Juvenalien Satire in that it attacks social institutions such as the no fault divorce industry, and in the tradition of that most famous satirist, Jonathan Swift, the story uses supernatural elements to accomplish its end.

            Thank you for the read and I apologize for the long winded reply :)

    • walker

      Hey, I checked out your scene. Generally very fast paced and intriguing. There are formatting issues and some less than optimal word choices, but it definitely piqued my interest.

      • davejc

        Yeah I get mental block sometimes when choosing words and phrases. So they aren’t always optimal. I know that. Thanks for the compliments.

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      Good scene over all. I agree with Walker (and you) the main point of focus should be word choice and phrasing on your next couple passes. You need to clarify and communicate pace just a little more. Best way to do this: Focus on VERBS! Really make it active and frenetic with your verb choices. “Is” and “are” are death. “-ing” I didn’t notice as much, but beware of that one as well: use sparingly, especially in action scenes like this one. And if you haven’t yet, a really good thesaurus is a must have. The ones on Final draft and Word only go so far. The ones you pay for, there’s a reason you pay for them.

      But over all – I’d give it a solid 7/10.

      • davejc

        Thanks, that’s some good advice. I use to have a really good thesaurus, hard bound. I don’t know where it is now.

    • Dep Sign

      Definitely has tension and pace. The dialogue needs some work though, some of it sounds like stuff we’ve heard in a thousand similar movies.

      To be honest I’m not able to judge properly, since I was confused after I finished reading the scene. Since this is not an opening scene, a logline/short paragraph setting up the scene/providing context would have been useful.

      The ending was a WTF? moment for me since I thought this was an action/thriller up to the end when fantasy elements emerged.

      • davejc

        Hi Dep

        I was under the impression Carson’s idea was to look at the scene as a stand alone and see if that triggered an interest. But I see now the featured author set it up with a premise. To set this scene up requires a lot as the dozen characters present were developed over the course of the script. Here’s the logline:

        “A mysterious room in the cellar of an old New England mansion may hold the solution for an emasculated father and his adventurous daughter to end a contentious custody battle that is tearing the family apart.”

        And the quickest way (I’m at work))) to set this scene up is with the previous scene:


  • MWire

    This story reminds me of the old original DOOM game with boiling lava and suits that would enable you to temporarily walk across it.

    But it’s a decent action scene and props to the writer. However, I’ll offer up some suggestions for improvement.

    1. Dialogue – Most of the time these guys sound pretty badass but every once in a while they’re pushing the exposition so much that they come off pretty bland. For example – early on, Alan says “Yes, they attacked us when we opened the rift.” Not very colorful is it? How about something like “They kicked our asses when we cracked open the fucking rift.” Or if Alan isn’t the swearing type “When the rift blew open, they wiped out all but three of us.” I’m not saying my examples are sparkling but just don’t sound like Mr. Spock.

    2. Exposition – Too much of it in a battle scene. Sure you’ve got to explain about the big bugs and the skin armor and so on but do that before you get to this point. I doubt that in Afghanistan, in the middle of a fire fight, anyone says “Your body armor will protect you from small arms fire and shrapnel.” Nano shouldn’t be explaining how you get a new epidermis at this point.

    3. Alan making his big jump. – To me, this looks like an opportunity to add some real tension. You’ve taken the trouble of adding CLOSE ON ALAN but you don’t do much with it. Maybe Alan is afraid that he won’t make it. Maybe he’s a little gimpy from the previous scene but didn’t let anyone know it. Maybe Michael (or Micheal depending on which line we’re on) for the first time in years, is actually concerned about Alan. This could be a great EMOTIONAL moment but as it is, it’s just showing the action.

    4. Word choice – for the most part pretty good but a couple of words jumped out at me and I think there might be a few more.

    Armada – It might be just me but when I see the word armada, I think of ships not nasty critters. How about swarm?

    Fulgent – Do people still use this word, Hell, it’s got a squiggly red line under it right now.

    The last time I heard this used, W.C Fields said “What a gorgeous day … what a fulgent sunshine … fulgent sunshine,
    yes … ’twas a day of this sort, the McGillicuddy brothers murdered
    their mother with an axe!”


    Anywho, good job on getting Carson’s attention and a worth the read on your scene. Feel free to ignore my advice. Lots of successful people have.

    • wlubake

      I really agree on #4. The word armada kept pulling me out of it. I really think the dialogue pulled me out too. Some of it may be explained through character, and we are just missing some of that background.
      Also, Alan states: “However, they feed on energy. Our energy.” We only see this once in the entire fight scene (while Alan is under the lava fighting some demons). If this is their defining characteristic, it needs to be organically built into the action.
      Finally, I really worry about how filmable an under-lava fight scene could be. Water works great, because it is transparent. They are fighting in opaque liquid rock. How is that supposed to be filmed? It’s cool, but I think all you can do is have them go under, while the other soldiers wait for them to resurface. They need Alan, as Carson states he’s the only one who can get them out. They should all be on edge to make sure he makes it. Michael especially.

      • MWire

        Ohhhh, you really nailed it on the opaque lava point. That scene can’t work at all can it? I didn’t think of that one.

        I also didn’t care the ‘feeding on energy’ bit. First of all, it sounds like a 1950’s concept, but even worse, it doesn’t make much sense. You’ve got a hot lava bed rolling along right outside of your hive. That’s all the energy you could ever need. Energy isn’t some kind of new age mumbo jumbo. It’s real. The author needs to think about this one a little bit and come up with something else that the evil demons could steal from us. Or do they even need to take something from us? Go rattle a hive of bees and see what kind of reception you get. Can’t tell with reading only one scene.

  • wlubake

    I’ll join gazrow and share a scene for feedback. I actually didn’t submit this because the full script isn’t where I want it to be yet, but I’d love feedback on the scene. This is the opening scene, so I won’t give you any background other than the logline:

    Guardian Angel: A woman protected her whole life by what she believes to be her guardian angel must unravel the secrets behind her protector when it starts hurting the people
    closest to her. (Horror/Thriller)


    • Malibo Jackk

      In the log line, I would use a comma after “woman” and after “guardian angel”
      otherwise it would sound like an awkward sentence.

      (Sorry for my own awkward sentence.)

      • JakeBarnes12

        No, Malibo, that’s wrong.

        It’s a defining relative clause so you don’t use commas.

        Do a Google search for an explanation.

        • Malibo Jackk

          Will do but
          thought it was the same as saying —
          A woman, (who) protected her whole life by what she believed to be her guardian angel, must unravel ….
          In other words, the woman must unravel — not the guardian angel.

          • JakeBarnes12


            Look it up.

        • wlubake

          Jake – I agree that is grammatically correct. I really appreciate Jackk’s feedback, though. Loglines are one of those places where clarity might trump grammar. I’m inclined to leave it as-is, but will consider Jackk’s suggested change.
          That may be a point worth discussing. Which do folks think is more important: clarity or correct grammar? I used to edit a professional journal in grad school and became a grammar slave, but have started leaning toward clarity, especially when dealing with creative writing such as screenwriting.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Hey wlubake,

            It’s pretty simple.

            Your logline should be a grammatically correct sentence, unlike your screenplay’s action lines, which can use sentence fragments, etc., for effect.

            Your logline is perfectly clear as it is.

    • MWire

      Just read it. That’s really good.

      Nice job.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Nice opening scene :)

      I liked the atmosphere and the urgency here so I’m curious to read the rest.
      Good luck with it.

    • walker

      I agree with the others that this is a very good opening. It could use a little polishing to truly maximize the effects of the atmosphere and pacing. But nice job. Incidentally, I think the logline gives away too much and should say something like “when the people closest to her start getting hurt.”

      • wlubake

        Thanks. I appreciate the feedback. The script definitely isn’t set up to withhold the source of violence. However, I’ll consider whether this adds intrigue while getting across the same point.
        I’ve always been a proponent of not withholding too much information in your logline. To me, if your hook is a guardian angel hurting others, than you want to make sure a potential reader gets the full effect of that in the logline.

        • walker

          Actually I positively suck at loglines so I don’t know why I am giving you advice.

    • JNave

      Very nice opening scene. Great concept, too, with the scene setting it up nicely.

    • gazrow

      Really good opening scene. my only gripe is with the formatting. For me, there are too many CONTINUED’s – they’re at the top and bottom of every page. Maybe, it’s just me, but I find them a little off-putting. Other than that, good job! :)

      Also, you need to lose one on page 2.

      NURSE JANICE (CONT’D) (cont’d)

      • wlubake

        Yeah, I think I need to adjust some settings in Celtx. I do the (CONT’D) as part of the character name when an action line separates a character’s dialogue. I think Celtx does it a page breaks. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the heads-up.

        • walker

          Scene continueds are not necessary in specs, they are more appropriate for production drafts.

    • Jaco

      I think the concept you have is a good one – but, for me this scene failed to deliver.

      The only gripping part of your pages was the very end (discovery of the baby by the rescuers). To me, all the stuff with the driving, the hospital, the storm . . . all those moments were unnecessary foreplay and didn’t really do anything to propel the story forward. I haven’t read the rest of the script – but are any of the characters you introduce in the beginning crucial to the story? The Mom? The Dad? The doctor? The nurse? Do they reappear later?

      Was this script written for that Industry Insider contest? (the storm kills the parents one). If so, I can see why you showed the Mom and Dad dying . . .and the storm. However, I think that might be constraining you though.

      What happens if you re-do this opening so that it occurs after the storm has already hit and it’s a Search & Rescue operation going through the rubble? You could pare it down to one or two pages and have that “oh shit” moment come faster . . . plus you’d start off with a much stronger Mystery Box . . .who’s this baby, where’s she come from, why is she the only survivor . . . .

      I’d also work on making the writing leaner – lose adverbs . . . lose the writerly phrases . . .

      Anyways, thanks for sharing and good luck moving forward.

      • wlubake

        Thanks for taking the time to read it. Don’t know that I’ll answer all those questions, but I’ll try to get some of them.
        1. Not written for a contest. No prompt was involved in the creation of this scene.
        2. The baby is the only character with continuity to the rest of the story. She grows up to be our lead. The rest of them died.
        3. I’d agree that this may not “move the story forward”. It is intended to act like a cold open would, while giving us backstory on our main character. She’s an orphan (obviously) who grew up in the foster system. Her flaw is that she doesn’t feel she has a place or purpose in the world that lives up to her miraculous first 5 minutes of life.
        Sorry it didn’t work for you. I’ll definitely go back and look at chopping down some of that writerly language. I’d like the scene to be about a page shorter personally.

        • Malibo Jackk

          The driving force (on reading the scenes) seems to be
          — What will happen to these people? Will the baby be saved?
          To me, the story is being driven forward. Works for me.

          Look at the recent Superman movie with all its back story
          You could have cut most of the opening and just have the baby shoot off into space and be discovered in the crashed alien module. Then explain everything at the same time that Superman discovers his true purpose.

          It’s somewhat of a stylistic choice, IMO.

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      Best scene of the day. Slightly overwritten. But really strong stuff with great build up and visuals. Nice job!


    • Dep Sign

      Good Writing. Descriptive and set up the tone and atmosphere (of the script I presume) well. The tornado was a nice touch to add a ticking clock/tension/back story to the birth scene.

      So yeah, an opening scene that sets up the script well. If I was a reader, I would read on, based on the strength of these pages. Well done.

    • Guest

      Yeah it was pretty good. I was intrigued right from the logline though. And I want to know the rest of this story from this scene. From the time you added the tornado, I needed to know what was going to happen. So good job! and good luck with the rest of the script!

  • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

    Again. Not sure what constitutes “a scene” but thought I’d throw one up here.

    TITLE: Untitled Feme Fatal Screenplay

    SCENE: A fun take on the “wake up in the middle of no where with no idea what is going on” scene.

    WHY YOU SHOULD READ: This is a screenplay I’ve been struggling with for a while. Have put it down and picked it up more times than I can count. But if people like what this is, then maybe it’ll give me motivation to get it to where needs to be. Thanks guys and gals. Love this community. The feedback here is open, honest and always pretty right smack on.


    • walker

      That would be “femme fatale”. Unless you are saying she wakes up in the middle of nowhere to find that her “m” and her “e” have been stolen.

      • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

        Thank god for the edit button. One thing Disqus gets right ;)

        • walker

          Oh man, now that you have corrected that and ruined my very clever joke (notice that “m” and “e” spell me?) I feel like I owe it to you to check out your scene. Except first I have to go visit my sister, I am already late and she will redefine femme fatale for me if I don’t hurry up. I will read it later and comment.

          • walker

            Hey movie nerd, I read your scene and thought it was quite good. I do have a few quibbles, if you wish to discuss them you may contact me at walker.mjh at gmail. I make this offer because I don’t like being second-guessed by rude grandstanders such as the punctuation-and- courtesy-challenged Chad Johansen, who took issue with my pointing out that today’s scene was absolutely rife with errors.

    • Dep Sign

      This was a nice opening. Quick pace. Tension. A twist. Little bit of humor. Well done.

      Honestly, I can’t say it blew me away with originality, but it was well put together. If I was a reader, I’d read on.

      A few notes. Almost ten pages in and not sure who the main character is Bo Peep/Jessica?

      Also, I think you meant LARA Croft shorts on pg.8, unless Laura Croft is some famous fashion designer I’ve never heard of (though I’m not an expert in stylish shorts so what do I know?)

      • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

        Also not a fashionista, and my spellcheck didn’t like “Lara.” Changed it. Good spot.

        Yeah. It’s one of the MANY things I’ve struggled with, that change of focus confusing the audience here as to who this whole thing is supposed to be about. It’s tough because I want that twist, but there’s these expectations we’re supposed to deliver on. I decided to go with the twist. Not sure if that’s right or wrong, but there it is.

        Thanks for the feedback!

    • gazrow

      Overall, this scene is well written and creates an intriguing mystery: Who is DEEP VOICE and what does he want with Jessica?

      That said, I did have a few issues with it. For example – we open with this:

      The bar has been hit by orange and black decorative vomit.

      Now, because this was a bar, I immediately imagined that some of the patrons had had one too many and um… decorated the place with the contents of their stomachs! Thankfully, the second sentence made it clear that we were in the midst of a Halloween costume party. Even so, I’d change that first sentence.

      No need to include camera angles such as this:

      [CLOSE UP:] Stan the pirate’s face– Beard slightly smeared and eye patch still on– By all accounts he appears unconscious.

      The fact that we’re on Stan’s face indicates a CLOSE UP.

      However, by far my biggest issue with the scene is its tone. It’s a really tough ask to have us take Little Bo Peep’s (Jessica) predicament seriously – when both she and Stan are dressed in funny costumes! Not only that, you have a pink dildo that is really a cellphone! Now, in a comedy, that may work, but it weakens the suspense and reduces the tension concerning the bomb strapped to Stan’s ankle when you have this:

      Stan gets the shovel in position to kill the woman, hoisting it over his head with dildo scrunched between his shoulder and ear–

      If you’re going for a dark comedy rather than an action thriller/mystery – then maybe it could work? At the moment, it reads as neither really IMO.

      Good luck with it!

      • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

        Great notes.

        Yes. Definitely a dark thriller/comedy. Will take a look at tone. Thanks!

  • hickeyyy

    I humbly submit my (rather long-ish) scene for consideration.

    Title: Monty
    Local: Grand Rapids, MI
    Genre: Action/Comedy
    Logline: A lonely office-worker is forced to enter a dangerous and bizarre criminal underworld after his dog is kidnapped
    Setup: This is the majority of Act 1 in one scene. What you need to know going in is that Schroeder is the protagonist. His dog has been stolen by a criminal. This is their first meeting.


    • Randy Williams

      Criminal underworld stories are usually not my cup of tea, but THIS scene gets my vote. The best one I’ve read today.

      • hickeyyy

        Thanks for the kind words! I appreciate it!

    • Malibo Jackk

      A lonely office-worker finds himself involved with a dangerous and bizarre criminal underworld after his dog is kidnapped.
      Not sure why — but this seems to make the logline (and story) seem more involved and interesting.
      But hey, it just one opinion.
      While I like the concept, forcing someone to do something to get his dog back.– comes off sounding like too simple a story.

      I like what you’ve written.
      Have you seen Seven Psychopaths?

      • hickeyyy

        Thanks! I haven’t yet seen it, but I’ve heard really good things about it.

  • carsonreeves1

    Stamina is actually a little better. Not at first, but now that the sugar is out of my bloodstream, I feel a lot better. :)

    • klmn

      One more question. How many times have you had to take a laxative?

      • davejc

        Yay! I haven’t heard that song in years. I still have “I put a spell on you” on my ‘puter.

        • klmn

          “I put a spell on you” gets some radio play every Halloween. His other songs get no respect.

  • JakeBarnes12

    I’ll try to check it out if I have time, Logan.

    Good luck with the project. Hope the exposure leads to some bites.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Hey, thanks for the kind words, KM.

    I totally agree about internal and interpersonal conflict. I think doing that well can really elevate a script.

  • gazrow

    Firstly, sorry for offending you. Now, if I may, I’ll try to answer your questions/statements as honestly as I can.

    “What is the purpose of this scene other than to explore your homophobic-schoolyard-gay trash-talking immaturity?”

    Believe it or not, I am not, nor have I ever been homophobic. The purpose of this scene is to establish that the protagonist in this story is, unlike me, a homophobe.

    “the whole purpose of writing a scene is to advance the story and show us what your characters are like: how do they react to the world around them..?”

    Well, I think this particular scene does exactly that. The protagonist is a self-confessed homophobe and we see exactly how he reacts when a guy tries to pick him up.

    I think its worth pointing out that Zach’s, best buddy, Gluts, chastises him over his outdated values. Similarly, the love interest, who happens to have a gay brother, proceeds to knee him in the nuts for his ante-gay attitude.

    “Why is it relevant that they are homophobic..? I bet you can’t think of a good reason… because there is no reason other than the demonstrated fact these shallow chaps are total a**holes”

    Well, actually I can, the script is called Male-Order Bride, the protagonist inadvertently marries a gay Russian man. Now, I ask you, where would the conflict come from, if a straight guy inadvertently married a gay man?

    But more importantly, while you perceive this script to be ante-gay (perfectly understandable I guess from the one scene that you read), it is anything but, and the protagonist eventually realizes the error of his ways (his character arcs).

    SPOILER – the script ends with the town’s first gay wedding.

    • Randy Williams

      As good as the rest of your script may be, and I’m hoping it’s great and best of luck with it, I think the scene you chose to share is the one that will never make it on screen. The gross jokes aside, does it matter how he acts when a guy tries to pick him up? Another gay guy might react in the same way. All straight guys would not react well in most instances. So how does that show anything?
      Second, you’ve risked alienating the audience from your protagonist by making him so unlikeable. Noone is born being homophobic. It’s a reaction to some insecurity and the need to maintain control. Your protagonist seeks a partner, seeks love. Show in that scene how being insecure and having to maintain control doesn’t lead you on the path to love. There can be a gay guy he reacts negatively to, but the essense of the scene are the protagonist’s emotional restraints, not toilet humor. Just my take.

      • gazrow

        Thanks for taking a look. You makes some good points.

        That said, I still think seeing a self-confessed homophobe being dropped on his head – knee’d in the nuts – whilst choking to death, is funny! :)

    • Guest

      This reads as very tired as though it were written in the 1970s before people had any idea who gays really are. It hits every negative stereotype and I found no humour in that at all. If you’re going to go this route, you should be SUBVERTING those tired clichés in some way–make the audience think you’re doing one thing, then twist it so it comes back on them and/or your character. THAT takes far more work and wit, to be honest.

  • Dale T

    “When you write, you have to write in such a way that the reader CAN NEVER LOOK AWAY. You have to make it IMPOSSIBLE for them to look away, no matter what kind of distraction pops up.”

    As I’ve learned from many years of studying storytelling, good stories have a way of immersing you into their world. It invokes you into its story, like a dream where you’re whisked away into another dimension as your physical body is sound asleep on your bed. If you’re not swept up from under your feet, you’re not into the story, and all of a sudden your mind is looking for something else to amuse itself with.

    This almost sounds like this should be a practice for those reading screenplays; purposely situate yourself into an area chock full of distractions and gauge your interest level with how well you’re able to subconsciously drown the outside world out.

  • Dale T

    Another post, and since it’s already so late in the day it’s probably not going to get read by a lot of people, but I see what Carson is trying to do here. Ever had a moment where you’re channel surfing, and you land on a show dead in the heat of things without even knowing the context of the entire situation? So much has happened, all the set up explained in the parts you missed, and yet for you particularly the only thing you can go by is the strength of that one scene you just hopped into. And yet you couldn’t stop watching?

    I’ve had that a couple of moments before, and I’m thinking maybe this is what Carson is trying to accomplish; is a writer’s ability to spark intrigue solely on suspense enough to keep readers tuned in?

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    What? Who said only some of it needs to be good?

  • YohannDookeyblue

    You make a very good point Mr. A. ,and thank you for the kind words! I would like to invite you and anyone else to read the first ten pages – the link is up top. I feel it does a much better job of setting the story, and highlighting the characters.

  • YohannDookeyblue

    Gee, tell us how you really feel!! But hey sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea. Please read the first ten pages, and if you still feel the same way, then…. well, that sucks.

    • walker

      Wow, kind of a rude dude. But he says there “is no story whatsoever” and then says that “what was there was needless (redundant…)”. That is a tautology, either there is a (needless, redundant) story or there is none whatsoever. And then there is the comical misuse of the word “breech”, he means “breach”. I think Mr. Ryan is a little too big for his breeches, but I do wonder what kind of amusing mistake he will come up with…next.

  • walker

    I believe Carson offers proofreading services by the sugar-free Lauren Jefferson.

  • Dan J Caslaw

    Way to jump down his throat, dickhead.

  • MWire

    Sorry for the late post but my home computer has some issues with Disqus and I have to use the one at the office.

    I’ll stand by my statement that Alan’s dialogue was dull and here’s why.

    Having been in both the military (Army artillery) and the sciences (degree in geology) I can assure you neither group speaks in the way that Hollywood would have you believe. Just as Roman Centurions didn’t have British accents, soldiers and scientists are not required to speak like their stereotypes.

    That said, authenticity isn’t totally required in a script. We’re dealing with the illusion of reality. As long as the guy who shelled out hard cash for the privilege of dropping his butt in movie theater seat is good with it, then I’m fine with it. It’s all about entertainment and let’s keep this guy entertained.

    So, if Alan, the stereotypical scientist, says “They attacked us when we opened the rift.” it very well could be totally within his character to say it like that. But it’s still boring.

    What you want is a phrase that instills fear in our movie watcher. He goes to the movies not just for the popcorn but also for an emotional experience.

    There’s a hoard of big nasty bugs coming to rip out the hearts of the good guys. A frightened Marine shouting “We’re toast man.” has a lot more impact than a stoic scientist saying “They attacked us when we opened the rift.”

    What I’m trying to say is that if Alan really would speak like that, maybe his character could use some adjusting. Add some spice to him so that you could give him a better line. Make him three dimensional. He should be a real human being who’s very scared, no matter his background, when faced with his own grisly death.

    BTW, I do agree that there’s entirely too much profanity in the movies these days but it’s not going to go away any time soon.

    • K. M.

      Hey MWire.

      Thanks for the response.

      To be honest, you didn’t say anything I disagreed with. I also don’t think you’re responding to the issues I had with your original post. But I believe that’s my fault and I will chalk it up to the length of my first response but you might’ve missed my points.

      I didn’t like the dialogue and I agree, it is dull. I also don’t have an issue with movies laced with excess profanity. I have an issue when excess profanity is confused as great dialogue. The writer’s line of dialogue for Alan wasn’t compelling but one of the examples you gave simply added “asses” and “fucking” and I simply felt like I had to weigh in and say that it wouldn’t solve any problems if the writer took that approach.

      My examples on content (as a factor of dialogue) were just to elaborate on what I meant by content. Not saying that your field of study mandates the way you speak, only saying it can influence. I work with nuclear reactors in the US Navy. I can assure you any stereotype concerning diction or syntax in my speech probably don’t exist. I can also assure you that the way I talk about something or engage with it is likely influenced by the monotonous work I do every day. Whether it be I’m terse and precise with word choice due to the fact that I’m tired and/or used to giving short and easy orders OR that I tend to talk about the functional aspect of things. Those are influences.

      I don’t think the animal behaviorist example I gave was stoic or indicative of a scientist by some stereotypical view. It was short and created an emotion of fear that someone could grab onto (“don’t look ‘em in the eyes”) and it relates to their profession in that they think of the aliens as animals who have animal-like responses (eye contact=threat).

      So although your penultimate paragraph sums up my exact feelings, I think understanding the person’s job and background is part of the process of creating a three-dimensional character that can deliver strong lines of dialogue and not an arbitrary no-matter subject as you say. For the audience, sure. But I think you’d agree with me that all the hardships a writer goes through are partly so that Joe Schmoe’s butt in the theater can enjoy his popcorn and have a good time.

      Also, I think I understand why you’re bringing authenticity to the discussion but again, I don’t disagree with you and I didn’t make a mention to authenticity in the absolute sense. I mean, this is a film about aliens in hives in volcanic mountainsides. If I was concerned about authenticity I would’ve started there. But like you say, the illusion of reality is important and a great way to create that is by having interesting characters with more than “fuck” and “shit” in their lexicon.