Genre: Drama
Premise: The members of a small Irish town housing a supposed Lochness-like monster in their lake find their world turned upside-down when an American documentary crew arrives to find out if the monster is real.
About: For those of you who don’t visit Scriptshadow regularly, there’s a commenter named Grendl who has basically spent the past year terrorizing every writer who’s ever had a script reviewed on the site. He angrily bashes everybody’s work. To his credit, though, despite blasting almost every screenplay written after 1979, he’s always been game to having his script reviewed on the site. In the past, I’ve declined because I didn’t want to reward the class bully (and because he used to send me rambling e-mails about how I was the world’s worst person). But Grendl’s exhibited some good behavior recently, so I finally said, why not? Let’s give him a shot.
Writer: Grendl
Details: 126 pages

grendl week

Many of you may think this is an opportunity to finally say to Grendl, “See, you don’t know everything after all! [x] part of your story is boring. [y] subplot doesn’t make any sense. The dialogue in scene [z] was on-the-nose.” Indeed, there will be a large contingent of readers who have been sharpening their knives for this moment, and they plan to use them. And I won’t begrudge them of that. He’s earned every attack he’s going to get.

But I’m not going to be one of those people. I haven’t even read the script yet (I’m going to after I write the intro). But I can promise I will try my best to put all the baggage aside and judge the screenplay on its merits alone. If it’s good, I’m going to say it’s good. If it’s bad, I’m going to say it’s bad. There is no agenda here. More than anything, there’s curiosity. What does the man who hates everything write about? What kind of story will he tell? It’s time for Scriptshadow Nation to find out!

[Carson reads script]

Real Monsters is about the town of Delphi, a tiny dot on Ireland’s map. The town folk here don’t do much other than drink beer and talk shit about each other, mainly because the town is dying. Liam McIntyre, the town’s lone pub owner and therefore, its unofficial spokesman, spends the majority of his days coming up with excuses for why he can’t pay the bills.

This angers his 26 year-old spitfire of a daughter, Katelyn, to no end. The woman’s been cleaning up his messes for long enough now and she’s just about fed up with him. One more mishap and she’s off to America, a place where someone can actually make something of themselves.

Her plan is interrupted by two visitors, however. A newly married couple and a documentary crew, both – ironically – from America. Heading up that crew is 38 year-old Michael Weiss. He’s got a bit of dashingness left in those 38 years and decides to use it to snag the unobtainable Katelyn. But she rebuffs him like a Scientology pamphlet, leaving him with little left to do in town other than drink Guinness at room temperature and work.

The reason the Americans are here is the only reason anybody still comes to Delphi – Haddy. Haddy is the local Lochness-like legend who lives underneath the huge lake adjacent to downtown. Michael’s documentary team is the first to come here and give the legend a serious scientific look. That’s making some of the locals nervous, especially Liam and his buddy Jerry, two men who know the truth about Haddy– that she ain’t real. Therefore, they sneak out to the lake late-night and throw in a homemade rubber “lake monster hump” in hopes of keeping the lie alive.

Except when someone’s got a boat with a dozen industrial-level lights on it, hoaxing becomes a lot tougher, and Team Liam gets caught. The jig is supposedly up. Until town-members stumble upon the real reason for the Americans’ visit, a shocking twist that will force them to make a choice about the town that just may cause its demise.

If you’re like me, you were half-expecting some sort of weird viral thing to happen mid-way through Real Monsters. 17% of me honestly believed that Grendl might be the monster living underneath the lake. And that the monster had written a script. And there was going to be some Youtube link at the end of the screenplay that led to a video of a sea-monster twerking to Miley Cyrus’s latest song telling me that unless I gave his script a “genius” he was going to road-trip it to the Pacific Ocean and eat me.

But that didn’t happen. What I was left with instead was a quiet character-driven script about a beautiful Irish town trying to stick together when they’re invaded by rich Americans. The $64,000 question then: WAS IT ANY GOOD!?

Well, yes and no. Grendl does a nice job establishing not only this town, but the relationships within the town. I never once questioned the authenticity of any of the town or characters (or their dialogue), and even believe that Grendl may now live in this town. That’s how specific and detailed it all felt.

I also liked what he did with the main character, Katelyn. We really feel this woman’s need to pull away from her deadbeat bar owner dad and spread her wings before it’s too late. And that push-pull relationship was the main reason I rooted for her. Once you have a reader rooting for your main character, you’re in pretty good shape.

Here’s my issue with the script though. There’s not enough story here. Outside of Katelyn and her father’s relationship, and Katelyn and Michael’s relationship (to a lesser degree), there weren’t a whole lot of things to keep you invested. I didn’t dislike any of the locals. Like I said, many of them exhibited genuine authenticity. But I didn’t really care about them. I got to about the 80 page mark and thought, “Man, I’m tired. I wanna go to sleep.” And that’s always the true test of a writer. When they’ve got you late in the second act – one of the most difficult places to keep a reader invested – that’s when you truly know you have a great script.

Now Grendl offered at the last second to send me a hastily revised 111 page version – presumably because the backlash that was sure to come from a 126 page script finally hit him – but hurriedly cutting 15 pages at the last second never resulted in anything good, so I advised against it. Still, I think that version would’ve played much better.

The opening voice-over with Liam floating Gaelic prose over shots of the lake may have seemed like a good idea when you had an entire day of writing ahead of you. But that kind of stuff plays differently when a reader is barreling through your script. I was bored by it. And then every dialogue scene felt like it went 15-20% too long. Characters always felt like they were repeating themselves instead of just getting to the point and moving on. “You gotta do this.” “No, I can’t, you do it.” “No, I don’t want to do it. Shouldn’t you do it?” “I did it last time.” “Maybe I should do it.” This isn’t literal dialogue from the script, but that’s how it felt a lot of the time – people just carrying on conversations that should’ve ended long ago.

I was just about to hit “skim” mode on page 85 (or 90?) when we have a big twist that launched us into a much bigger final act than I was expecting. That kind of jolted me awake and carried me to magical number 126. The twist (or double-twist) wasn’t bad but I’m not sure it totally worked. There was something a little safe about it. You know how those good twists get you all revved up and excited, eager to mentally go back through the story to see how it all plays with this new information? This twist never made it that far back. It was kinda like, “Ooh, cool, a twist,” and then you moved on.

If I were Grendl (and dammit, am I happy I’m not), I’d bring this down to 110 pages. Focus on the love story between Katelyn and Michael more. Get to that way earlier than page 50. Downgrade the involvement of some of the less important characters, like Paul, so you can spend more time on this relationship. And I’d say take a few more chances. This is that cute little script you read and say, “Not bad,” at the end, then put it down and forget about it. You never recommend it to anyone because there’s nothing big enough or exciting enough in it to recommend. It’s a well-told story, if a little long, but that’s it. In order to stand out from the pack, you need more than that.

In the end, I’m a little surprised by this effort. I guess I was expecting something… more Grendl? Darker? Riskier? Controversial? This is such a soft story. I never would’ve predicted that. But Grendl’s got some talent. It’s hard to argue against that. And that talent nudges Real Monsters up to a “worth the read.”

Script link: Real Monsters

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

What I learned: Soft, kind, gentle stories are tough to sell on the spec market. Even the best of them. Not many people are looking for that middle-of-the-emotional-ladder type screenplay. They want the kind of stuff with more extreme emotions, whether it be crying, fear, thrills, or anger. That’s generally what I’ve found.

  • Abdul Fataki

    I feel like you gave it a ‘worth the read’ just to show people you don’t hold a grudge against. If this was anyone else you would’ve probably given them a “wasn’t for me”.

    …..oh my god….what was that….

    ….am I slowly turning into the new Grendl?

  • GordonGekko

    Grendl should review his own script. Lol.

  • tipofthenose

    Well! Do you know how it is when you watch a movie on DVD and after an hour you feel like, this is going nowhere and you stop it and it has only been 20 MINUTES!!!! That‘s how it felt to me.
    Yes this is a grendl script and everybody wants to get back at him, but it wasn‘t like that. The writing was okay, AND THAT WAS IT.
    There were way too many protagonists! I didn‘t know who I should root for. I didn‘t even know who was who anymore:

    Liam, Harry, Paul, Katelyn, Warren, Sondra, Jerry, Joy, Brittany, Laura, Bobby, Jack, Terry, Quinn, Michael, Mickey, Margaret!!!!!! Did I miss any???

    Why don‘t have like KATELYN‘S DAD and DRUNK GUY and so on…
    And it did not even feel like an ensemble piece, so please make clear who we are supposed to follow. The characters were colorless and the many names very confusing. I never knew who was who.
    Dialog was going on for ever and every scene was just talking heads.
    Wow! The weird thing while writing this is, I keep on forgetting what I read. Sorry but the whole story had nothing new. Until page 30 this is NESSIE just with another name. This sounds and feels like an old black and white movie that you watch on sunday afternoon. Where is the hook? Where is the new angle? What is it I am supposed to get excited about. If the big revelation is a sea monster, then this isn‘t for me. AND if this is going into some super cool new direction, then please tease us a little bit. Gives us a hint that this is going for something awesome. Actually up till this point I don‘t have a clue what the story is about. Is it about a young woman trying to get out?? Is it about a pub trying to survive?? Is it about a young American couple and the problems of a young marriage?? Is it maybe about NESSIE?? (Yeah this is the Nessie story, sorry it just is) Or is it about mean scientists trying to kill a poor monster??? Or is it about some poor drunk guys whom no one believes??? WHAT IS IT ABOUT?? I am on page 38 and I have no idea!!!!
    Right now I just keep on reading cause it is a Grendl script. Is that an achievement?? I don‘t know? Sad thing is, everybody is probably out to destroy him. I wouldn‘t like to have that reputation!
    But like I said earlier, the script has no big plot holes (there is no plot yet), I get the charcaters (they are very flat and generic. Just your average Nessie movie folks) and I get what the big mystery is: Is there a sea monster? So yeah, it is clearly written but that is it. This is no story for me and there are no protagonists!! It is empty. And Grendl is the one always praying: Thou shall not bore your reader.
    Sorry mate, I am bored.

    I am on page 47 now. NOTHING has happened?????????????????????????????? Sorry the Grendl factor is running out!
    And now we have dialog like:

    MICHAEL (CONT’D)
    You saw that video didn’t you?
    KATELYN
    No…I…well, yes.
    MICHAEL
    You have to come with me now.
    KATELYN
    Paul’s expecting me back.
    MICHAEL
    I’m afraid it’s too late for that.

    Who talks like that? Where is the conflict? Who is Michael? What is the plot?
    I am afraid it‘s too late for that!

    • tipofthenose

      UPDATE: Grendl has never been mean to me and I hold nothing against him. I even sometimes really liked his comments. So to me Grendl is just like every other writer.

      @Carson: Worth the read for a 126 page script (Sorry but we never got the 111 page version) with a twist at page 85???????? How did that happen????????

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Every other writer doesn’t have all our addresses and phone numbers and names from all our scripts. Shhhh.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    I have to applaud Grendl on one thing in particular that Carson pointed out, and that’s of the authenticity of his characters and location. I felt myself there in that town and believed in the portrayal. I also was quite fond of the literal story telling in the bar, which were what i thought the most entertaining and thus strongest scenes. I wasn’t too fond of mentioning musical cues in the beginning but that’s a minor gripe. I think carson hit the nail on the head when he said this was not the script we were expecting. I know I was shocked. I didn’t even like my first read by because I was pissed grendl gave us a boring character story destined to be starred by chief obrien. But then I read the other 5 aow scripts and returned to lemon6, i mean Real Monsters, where I thought to myself, damn I may not love grendl’s script, but I’ll be damned if every other writer for week couldn’t learn some.valuable lessons by reading it. Worth the read is my rating too, and I do think the writers of apollo and second should pay real close attention to what good dialogue looks like. I’d like to see grendl tackle a script with more meat and potatoes. He’s certainly got the chops for it.

  • Solid Snake

    What I like about the script :

    – it takes the time to build characters and personal relationships.
    – likeable characters
    – great and funny dialogues

    What I didn’t like :

    – story takes too much time to start.
    – the voice over at the beginning, I don’t think it would work on film.

    – Haddy is just not important enough in the story.
    – I felt like some of the tension was forced and some characters were overreacting, especially Katelyn.

    Overall I think that once it get a better pacing and a more focused plot it could become a nice comedy, a la Ken Loach.

  • Solid Snake

    By the way good on Carlson for reviewing his script considering his history with Grendl, awesome attitude.

  • jlugozjr

    Well written, especially the dialogue. Quick and intelligent exchanges between characters. Grendl clearly has talent, so congrats on a story that surpasses many of the amateur friday scripts that Carson reviews. I read to page 75 and skimmed the rest.

    Pretty slow start, the inciting incident didn’t occur until page 30 when we see the monster. And even that was just a glimpse. The story is a straight drama. Not a thrlller, comedy or horror and I’m assuming this was written as a spec. So this maybe a hard one to sell. I couldn’t imagine what the trailer would look like. Or the movie poster.

    In a business where concept is king, what does this script offer? Who is the target audience. I would guess over 40. I’d compare it to GRUMPY OLD MEN as far as the demographic it appeals to. That movie was a success. Maybe Real Monsters will be.

    The writing felt professional, but the story just collapsed as soon as the BIG TWIST was revealed.

    SPOILER. SPOILER.

    So the Americans who visit this town are actually a film producer and an actress.

    They want to “stage a sighting”, make a movie and build a theme park based on this monster. The twist is a sort of ridiculous. Here’s why.

    Story logic and character motivations.

    1. If they’re here to make a movie, why the secrecy? When Steven Speilberg was shooting JAWS I’m sure everyone in Martha’s Vineyard knew about it. The answer is: without the secrecy, there’s no TWIST. It’s a gimmick.

    2. Warren’s motivations. Warren wants to build a theme park based on this monster? And he’s ready to invest in a castle? The movie hasn’t even been shot and he’s aready predicting a massive hit. What if the move flops and he’s left with a castle and a theme park?

    3. Liam’s motivation. Is this hoax really bringing in that many tourists. No, it’s not. But his actions play out like it is. In JAWS we SEE how many tourist show up. We SEE the business that supports the locals. We don’t SEE Liam’s bar filled with tourists. Just locals. So what is the point of this hoax of his. It’s not working. Hasn’t been for a while.

    4. The scene where two boys throw a firework into the bar and it EXPLODES. What? I have played around with fireworks and usually they make a loud POP or shoot out sparks, but in this scene the ceiling caves in, windows blow out and the bar is engulfed in flames. What the hell? Was it dynamite? The answer: the writer needed to get Liam to a hospital.

    5. Why did the monster attack Liam. Warren says “No. Not attack.” but rather “my engineers got a little overzealous.” and “who did what to whom and why is irrelevant.”

    Wrong. Reread the scene. Liam was clearly attacked. The writer just doesn’t have a reason for the attack that makes sense.

    The writer is talented, but this is a pass for me.

  • Alex Palmer

    Please note: I got to page 47.

    I agree with the other commenters about the authenticity of the screenplay. Still, I’d feel a little patronized if the only thing people were complimenting is the dialogue.

    The reason the dialogue seems a cut above the amateur crowd is because Grendl created good characters. The major parts offer enough depth to interest professional actors, and isn’t that already half the battle? (More than half if it’s a drama).

    Pity that the rest of the script is worse. I’m sensing the consensus is “not enough conflict”. I’d argue that although there IS a decent amount of conflict, its not focused or framed around anything concrete.

    Reading the logline leads one to believe that the whole documentary crew aspect of the plot is extremely important. And this seems like a good way of motivating the factions to oppose the tourists. So why has none of that really happened yet?

    Like Carson, I’m surprised about the subject matter of the script. When I’ve read Grendl’s comments, I always assumed his own screenplays were about as conventional as Lynch’s or Kaufman’s (who he seems to cite frequently). And there is an element of auteur ship in the script, mainly visible in the way he seeks to control every element of the movie, from soundtrack to editing. But at the end of the day, this is a hint at Grendl’s softer side.

    Under the harsh, scaled exterior, he’s just like us, folks.

    I’ll get back to the script and try to finish it. But ONLY because it’s a Grendl script. Otherwise I would have already filed it off as a [xx] wasn’t for me. Maybe I need to read Lemon 1 – 5 to understand.

  • Poe_Serling

    My ScriptShadow bucket list:

    [ ] Enjoy a beer or two with MaliboJackk on the front stoop of his bamboo hut.

    [ ] Watch a Russ Meyer flick with klmn.

    [ ] Hear a few more details about Kay’s paranormal experiences.

    [ ] Get gazrow to do a rewrite on his Mrs. Satan script and reintroduce her to the SS faithful.

    [ ] Reserve a copy of Ms. SS’s cookbook “G – ooey, S – weet, U – nhealthy Snacks for Your Favorite Blogger.”

    .
    .
    .
    .

    [x] Stay in the good graces of JakeBarnes12. For example, no vote padding schemes and other nefarious activities.

    [x] Witness the transformation of MZG into a gelatinous space pod creature.

    [XX] See grendl’s lake monster script get reviewed by Carson.

    Now back to the business at hand: Real Monsters.

    To be perfectly honest, the main drawing card of this
    project was always the lake monster… at least in my desire to read
    it.

    So, did the script succeed in satisfying my pseudoscience sweet tooth? Absolutely. But here’s thing – the lake monster
    angle wasn’t the sundae but only the cherry on top.

    Let me explain…

    Though I don’t usually gravitate toward this type of script/film, I really
    enjoyed the overall story. I found the plight of the villagers and the ensuing
    romp that arises from their decades-old hoax to be a charming,
    original, and even a somewhat heartwarming tale. Hey, who knew grendl was
    such a sensitive guy!

    For me, the descriptive lines/dialogue
    painted a vivid picture of the quaintness/quirks/etc. of living in a
    small village like Delphi and the surrounding Irish countryside.

    I felt the character interplay was topnotch, especially in the
    banter/dynamics between Liam and his daughter, Kateyln. Also, nice touches in
    regard to the often subtle humor involving the other colorful residents of the
    village.

    Loved the knowing nod
    to ‘Jaws’ near the end where the politician in the movie promo utters, “I’m sorry, Seamus. But tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day, and those pubs will be open.”

    Finally, I appreciated the pace of the story and how it
    unfolded in a deliberate manner (unlike about 99% of the go-for-broke films of today).

    Thanks, g, for sharing your work.

    • Linkthis83

      My ScriptShadow bucket list:

      [ ] Get on Poe_Serling’s bucket list.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        #weregonnaneedabiggerbucket

    • gazrow

      Hey Poe –

      Funny you should mention Mrs. Satan – I was reading through some professional coverage of some of my older scripts and came across this for Mrs. Satan:

      “the basis for greatness is there. It’s just around the corner.”

      To be honest, it blew my mind!

      Maybe Mrs. Satan deserves to be resurrected and given a new lease of life?! :)

    • BSBurton

      What have you written Poe?

      • Poe_Serling

        Mostly horror. And to change things up a bit, sometimes I’ll tackle a thriller/suspense script with a horror bent. ;-)

        Thanks for asking.

      • Poe_Serling

        Here’s a quick reply to your other ? which seems to be stuck in moderation hell…

        Some possible ways to get your scripts out there:

        >>Target the prodco’s that make the sort of horror films that you feel matches up with your project(s).

        >>Target the agents/mgrs. of other writers that seem to work in that specific genre. A great source for their names/loglines/etc. are the annual Blood List and Black List.

        >>Enter some reputable screenwriting contests, especially ones that may have a separate category for horror. We saw where yesterday’s writer Jon Bokencamp got his career going with a win in the thriller category of the Fade In contest.

        >>Submit your script to Carson for one of the possible 5 slots for Amateur Offerings Weekend. See the link above. You never know if an industry person might be looking in when you script is being featured.

        A few of my personal favorite horror films: The Haunting (1963), The Innocents (1961), Night of the Demon(1958), Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, The Changeling (George C. Scott).

  • cjob3

    I thought this script seemed familiar. Turns out, the first five were up on Done Deal about a year ago. The thread started off pleasantly, but things progress predictably…

    http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=69024&highlight=monsters

    • AP

      OH my gosh that thread is hilarious. Starts a little slow and dull, w/ halloweenjak (Grendl?) being considerate and respectful — even thankful of people commenting. Then (I guess based on past history) a couple guys make some douche comments — but not horrible. And it’s like a frigging switch gets flipped. Halloween not only starts going off on them, but on people he had previously thanked for comments, then bringing in others like Jeff Lowell — I was just picturing a Linda Blair transformation.

      “Why thank you, I see your point. How kind of you to comment. Well yes, that is a note I should consider you motherfuckingcocksucker. How dare you say sentences should end with a period you hackfuckinghackwhofuckshacksallfuckingday. Blaaahhhhahhhh”

      ^^ Pretty much how it all started to read to me in the end.

      • Linkthis83

        He was probably just testing his dialogue skills. Doing character research. How do people react if I say this? Okay….and now what if I include a major dose of obscenity? Ohhhh….interesting.

    • gazrow

      Not sure why you felt the need to do this? To me it feels like telling tales out of school. Hopefully, it wasn’t motivated by jealousy due to Grendl finally getting his day in the Scriptshadow amateur spotlight?

      • cjob3

        No, I didn’t mean it like that at all. I’m glad Carson reviewed Grendl’s script today. For better or worse, Grendl’s been a HUGE contributor to this site and he certainly earned his day in the sun. And I admire Carson for giving it such a fair shake. I just thought it was interesting and on-topic to see how others responded to his work, and how he responds to them, much in same way he does here. I’ve never had an interaction with Grendl but I do admire that he doesn’t hold back and says exactly what he thinks. That takes guts. Frankly, I agree with some of the things he said about his critics in that thread. (though I may have phrased it in a nicer, more cowardly way.) I’m sure he stands by it too. And good for him. But I’ll take the link down if you think it’s in poor taste. Like I said, when I opened the script I immediately flashed back to this thread. I remember it vividly from a year ago because I never saw such a positive thread turn so violently. This business depends so much on ass-kissing, it’s refreshing to see such a fearless rabble-rouser. I hope to be able to say exactly what I mean someday.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Oh, dear. Someone’s a little insecure.

      Grendl also hijacked an Amateur Friday thread here a few years back to post his other script, “Undertow.”

      While it’s pretty bonkers, at least it’s a lot more interesting than this one, if only for the strange, out-there dialogue.

      I was one of those who downloaded it and took the time to make a few critical comments.

      You can imagine the result.

      Can’t remember now when that was. 2010 maybe?

    • Citizen M

      Turns out, the first five were up on Done Deal

      I thought it was called lemon6 because it got six lemons at RottenFruit dot com.

  • ximan

    Carson. I agree with you on everything. You are my JJ Abrams. But to say that you were bored by Grendl’s friggin gorgeously written intro is just unacceptable.

    But I still love you.

    Congrats Grendl. I haven’t finished the script yet but I find it really charming so far. Kinda like that Neil Jordan film Ondine in its tone, but I think the monster adds a really cool edge to your story over theirs. I think if you extend the monster mythos until the end, it would give the story that extra umpf Carson is alluding to.

    Like, what if while going out to fake the Haddy, the REAL Haddy shows up?! That’s what I was expecting, but again, I haven’t finished the script so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. But if that’s what the twist or double-twist ends up being, then I think I love this script already.

  • RO

    I have no online relationship with Grendl, but I have read his rants and arguments/debates with others here at SS and at times found them amusing.

    I’ve seen a few movies like this one before, recently The Beast of Bottomless Lake, a Canadian flick from 2010. Granted it was a mocumentary but I noticed some similarities between that and this script. The documentary crew. The conflict regarding a conspiracy or secret and horrible people doing it for horrible selfish reasons.

    While the characters were well developed, I found there to be too many of them as well as being very unoriginal and uninspiring. In fact I was frequently reminded how I’ve seen a much better version of this almost exact type of father/daughter relationship in Star Trek: TNG in the episode “Up the Long Ladder”. So that kind of turned me off the script while reading.

    It was also very roundabout. Even if this is trying to be a slow paced story similar to pre 1980s films, it’s still pretty slow for that decade and earlier as well.

    I cared as much about the town as the majority of the people who lived there did, which really isn’t much. If the town’s struggling and needs tourism or any outside investment, they’ve made no effort to fix their situation aside from searching for it in the bottom of a pint. They all seemed to live meaningless and empty lives, which got me to relate to Katelyn but her story was also sort of wandering about.

    Personally I found that this story failed to make me care about the characters, their situation and because there was virtually no plot there was virtually no reason to invest in this story.

    The only real positive I can think of for this script was the theme of: “If your home town sucks and everyone in it is a drunkard, leave and life will get better.”

    That’s just what I got from reading this.

    • ThomasBrownen

      “The only real positive I can think of for this script was the theme of: ‘If your home town sucks and everyone in it is a drunkard, leave and life will get better.'”

      Yeah, this sort of bothered me. A script like this has to have a really good theme, but at the end, it never really came together for me. Part of it was a story about lying, part of it was a story about Katelyn growing up and leaving. But is that really such a happy ending? Her father had issues, but I’d have preferred to see those issues resolved, and they finally have a good relationship. I think dramas like these tend to work better when you have option 1 (stay in town and be depressed) or option 2 (leave town and be happy, but leave your family and friends behind, and make them sad and depressed). Both of these options have drawbacks, so the story can then conclude with option 3 (???), which is something the reader didn’t see coming, but gives us the best of both worlds. E.g., maybe Katelyn’s father finally fixes up his act, and takes over the idea of setting up a theme park (without it disrupting the town’s quiet nature) and Katelyn is able to live her own life and fulfill her ambitions by helping him do that without having to leave her friends and family behind. I dunno. But I’m not sure the ending to this story resolved all the relationships as well as I would have liked.

  • ripleyy

    I read most of this script but unfortunately it couldn’t hold me any further than page 30. 126 pages is a death sentence, and there was a lot of dancing around (metaphorically speaking).

    The script needed a bite and ironically it didn’t have a bite to it at all, it was tender, soft and most importantly it was too “safe” like Carson said.

    That said, Grendl – and this may anger some people – has some serious talent. I cannot ignore that. He has a beautiful way of writing, he understands character and dialogue – in the end, Grendl has a professional touch. That’s frustrating.

    To put this into perspective, it’s like the school Bully is secretly an amazing cheerleader and you’re the rookie who has been bullied by this person.

    Still, it didn’t catch my attention. It needs a really big bite to really snatch the reader, to beg them to read more, but what I got instead – in the space that I read – wasn’t that.

  • Linkthis83

    Well done, grendl. I read the entire thing and enjoyed it. As others have noted, you created authentic characters in an authentic setting. The thing that I liked the most about your story was that…..it was a STORY. I think that’s one of the most difficult things for writers to pull off. They are so focused on adding BIGGER BITE that they lose the element of STORY. For the framework you created and the characters you populated it with, this is a nice story.

    I could say the obvious things like I doubt this will sell and that it won’t be that big box office hit everyone is looking for, but that didn’t feel like your goal. It felt like your goal was to write a good story = accomplished. (I could’ve done without the musical conducting, but I get why you did it. Plus, when you see a scene that vividly, I’d probably encourage you to add it.)

    I liked the characters. I liked their relationships. Even your characters were good at telling stories. I did the literal LOL at “fowl play.” I especially liked the back-and-forth between Liam and Jerry (a little Grumpy Old Men vibe).

    Sure there are some things that need work or could be tweaked. Not ALL the characters were the greatest but that comes down to being at the point where you still have to find negatives in the script.

    Thanks, Carson, for giving grendl a chance. It did finally feel like it was time to put his money where his mouth is.

    Thanks, grendl for putting yourself out there knowing what kind of feedback may befall you. And if after this, you go back to some major diabolical rantings, then that’s just a real douchebag move. I’m not asking you not to be you (if the rantings are at your core), but it doesn’t really feel like it after reading that script. Congrats, man.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Jesus, that was dull.

    I vowed to myself I’d read the first thirty pages of Grendl’s script before checking out Carson’s review. Didn’t make it. Got to page 20, was pretty bored, read Carson’s review, a mercy “worth the read,” nice of Carson, then struggled to page 30, saw that the interminable bar scene still hadn’t ended, so soldiered on to page 33 where I closed the document with relief.

    A few random thoughts.

    1. First thing a reader sees of our script pdf is our page count and title page.

    If an amateur script is 127 pages long it almost always means twenty pages can easily be cut and that the writer hasn’t yet learned how to write tight scenes that keep the story moving forward. How true this was here.

    It may seem trivial, but if your title page isn’t formatted correctly and uses non-standard font, as Grendl does here, it does not proclaim you a maverick genius. Maverick geniuses tend to impress readers with the content of their script. It just suggests you’re a noob who doesn’t know any better.

    2. Readers are all looking for one thing; an INVOLVING experience. Use of “we see,” camera directions like “angle on,” and descriptions of musical cues put us in a movie theater.

    Great writers use vivid language to put us in the story.

    3. Your reader is not stupid. If the basic relationship is that a daughter is being kept from leaving town by her selfish father, most of us can pick up on that very quickly. Once we’ve got it, we’re ready to see what happens next. If you keep hammering away, making the same point, we’re going to get bored.

    4. I know this is a controversial statement, but dammit, I’m going to say it anyway. Start the scene as late as possible, leave as early as possible. Shocking, I know.

    Second only to Grendl nudging us about the same points (she’s being kept in town by her irresponsible father. Geddit? Understand? Sure? Want me to explain it one more time? You at the back — were you sleeping? Let me recap) was the dreary length of his scenes.

    Yes, the dialogue sounds authentic (except “fook all” on page 5 means the opposite of what Grendl thinks it does), but what does it matter when it drones on long after the scene should be over?

    Look at a professional script and note the length of most scenes.

    5. On a related theme, this is THE MOVIES. Save the talking heads for your next radio play.

    6. Thirty pages in, we should know what a story’s about. I’m even surprised to read that Katelyn is the protagonist. A more experienced writer could have set this up much faster and posed intriguing questions that would make us want to keep going.

    7. Ultimately, the concept itself is fairly ordinary. We’ve all seen movies about towns with legends of strange creatures before. Would this logline have stood out on Amateur Weekend? Doubtful. You need something fresh in those first thirty pages to distinguish your script and can’t just rely on a twist towards the end.

    Grendl can certainly write, just not necessarily screenplays.

    • Linkthis83

      So these are the types of posts/rants I can’t stand. They are neither helpful nor constructive. You are basically screaming at AMATEURS to stop being AMATEURS. If it’s so easy to stop being an AMATEUR, then why are there so many? So here is my useless reply (because my ego wouldn’t let me walk away).

      Jesus, this post was dull. You should’ve just wrote “Hey, I’m JakeBarnes12, look at me. It’s hard work being critical and condescending simultaneously, but dammit everyone, I’m going to shoulder this load.”

      You vowed to get to page 30 and only made it to twenty. Well…you tried. That’s all I can ask. But wait, you got a second wind and you ‘soldiered’ on? That’s good news. And may I add, very noble of you. I appreciate your service to this community.

      Now on to ‘7 Things I Hate About grendl’s Script that I’ve Disguised as 7 Useful Tips for Beginning Writers.’ Note: each tip is loaded with condescension because these are things ALL writers should already know – I’m looking at YOU, grendl.

      1) 127 pages is too long because that’s what a reader looks at first. Aren’t readers paid to read the whole thing anyway? And if said AMATEUR script is this long it means that they haven’t learned how to stop immediately being an AMATEUR. Got it. Oh, and don’t be a noob maverick with your title page. Stick to the standard format. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted reading a title page. This is pure gold here and I’m only on tip #1. (yes, i get it’s about not deviating from the norm before we get to the story)

      2) Great writers use vivid language to put us in the story? So no great writers have ever used ‘we see’ or ‘angle on?’ Oh they have, but we are AMATEURS so we shouldn’t do that. Okay, so write like a pro, but like a pro that doesn’t use these directions.

      3) There are no stupid readers = Got it. I shouldn’t unconsciously beat you over the head with a theme I think is important to the story. That’s a lot to ask, because I am an AMATEUR and I wanted to make sure you understood. Because I think the reader is an idiot and it has nothing at all to do with that I’m an AMATEUR. There’s no chance that others read my work and suggested I emphasize it a little more. Nope, I did it solely because I think readers are stupid.

      4) Get in late and leave early. Wish you would’ve followed that advice for this tip. That was like 13 lines, and that doesn’t include the spaces.

      5) THIS IS THE MOVIES? We want to see and occasionally hear? But what if I like stories that have a lot of dialogue? What if that’s the core of the story and where we learn the most from this tale? So nobody uses lots of dialogue? Wow, that is useful. I almost made the mistake of having characters carry this character-driven story.

      6) This tip is an easy one = more experienced writers set up stories better. Be more experienced, starting now. This tip will take you places you never thought possible.

      7) This concept is fairly ordinary and you’ve seen it before? Oh, okay. So all the stories out there are completely original and extraordinary and not like anything else? Oh, okay. My first thirty pages need to be fresher? Oh, yeah, like tip 6: write like an experienced writer would write, not like an AMATEUR.

      Oh, and one more thing. Include a half-assed, insincere sentiment at the end.

      Um, thanks for the tips. I feel like a better writer already.

      • martin_basrawy

        I just grabbed some popcorn. this should be good haha…
        nah seriously though, I can see both linkthis83 and jakebarnes12 points of view. whatever grendl’s reputation is (I’m unaware as I rarely post here) there has been a lot of constructive criticism today, and it’s not even 11am on the east coast. Could that criticism be worded better? sure. But I do think jakebarnes12 has a lot of valid points. I myself checked out of this script around page 45.

        • Linkthis83

          It’s not that I really disagree with Jake’s points. It’s the delivery of them. And it seems like the biggest nugget of all is always the paradoxical advice = experienced writers don’t write like this. That’s not even a tip. It’s an observation and a reflection of the writer’s current status as a writer. Telling an AMATEUR that he’s an AMATEUR isn’t advice nor is it helpful in anyway. And it’s on a website for AMATEURS. So it’s not even insightful.

          • tipofthenose

            Well, it’s what grendl does.

          • Linkthis83

            Oh, well, if grendl does it…… ;)

      • Kay Bryen

        Now now boys, play nice. Honestly I didn’t have a problem with Jake’s notes, because half of them are what Grendl himself already knows and preaches. I’m sorry that you found Jake’s tone “condescending”, but as amateurs we’ll get notes with much more blunt force trauma than this, and a good writer will separate the coke from the snow.

        On another note, I think you’ve just overthrown Grendl in a bloodless coup as SS’s resident lampoonist… and I mean that in a good way :-)

        • Linkthis83

          It was my ego, Kay. My ego wanted to write all that. I resisted at first and then thought it would be a more entertaining read. Honestly, I really want to be thoughtful and objective with my replies. And it wasn’t his points, it was his delivery. But it was my issue. I hope that came across. Jake’s post was about Jake, not giving blunt advice. I wanted to walk away, I really did. I had the actual thought “No good can come of this.” Then I clicked “Post as Linkthis83.”

      • Poe_Serling

        lol. From my above list, you must’ve skipped over this one for some crazy reason::

        [ ] Stay in the good graces of JakeBarnes12.

        • Linkthis83

          Poe, you were in my head as I was writing this. I read your post and then got to Jake’s and thought “well here’s my opportunity to find out what Poe was talking about.” So I decided to poke the bear. But sincerely, I felt the post wasn’t helpful and couldn’t resist.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Ah, I get it. You find my review of grendl’s script too critical.

        Maybe I should try to write a review more like yours.

        Let’s have a look at a few extracts from what you wrote, just so I’ll have a model to base my future posts on so they’ll meet your standards of helpfulness and constructiveness:

        ” I read the entire thing and enjoyed it.”

        “The thing that I liked the most about your story was that…..it was a STORY”

        “This is a nice story.

        “It felt like your goal was to write a good story = accomplished.”

        “I liked the characters.”

        “I liked their relationships.”

        “Thanks, Carson, for giving grendl a chance.”

        “Thanks, grendl for putting yourself out there.”

        “Congrats, man.”

        Uh, well, and thank you, Link.

        You’re obviously a very nice person, but think I’ll stick to my original post.

        • Linkthis83

          I didn’t find yours to be too critical. I feel that you weren’t imparting us with as much insightful/helpful advice as you cloaked it as. What value is there in telling someone that a professional writer does this or doesn’t do that. That doesn’t tell them HOW to improve.

          It’s easy to take the approach you did. I don’t claim to be an expert on story improvement so I refrain from acting like such. I like to see potential in stories and find what I like. Then I provide my feedback while always owning that it’s my opinion. If the writer benefits from it, great, and if not, then no big deal.

          You took the lead on being the expert here. As you conveniently pulled excerpts from my review, I think you’d be impressed with how I responded to your reply offering critical observations. My real intent was to point out that your teaching method COULD use a little refinement. I never disagreed with your points, just wanted to offer some other perspectives other than the narrow one you provided. And, I opened with that it was my issue. I don’t expect others to own their role, but I will own mine.

        • Linkthis83

          Also, when crafting a criticism, you should show both sides to help with credibility. I also wrote in my review:

          “I could say the obvious things like I doubt this will sell and that it won’t be that big box office hit everyone is looking for, but that didn’t feel like your goal.”

          “Sure there are some things that need work or could be tweaked. Not ALL the characters were the greatest but that comes down to being at the point where you still have to find negatives in the script.”

          I’m also aware that I’m not experienced enough to tell him HOW to do this. So I refrain. I don’t have the experience you have, and I also have yet to figure out how to implement tip #6 = write like an experienced writer. However, I also don’t think ALL writers make great teachers. And also, given your knowledge of how these things work and how important feedback is, your response to my post is surprising. I thought you’d be open to feedback yourself. Especially packaged in the manner I wrote it. I was naive enough to think you might appreciate it a little.

          • gazrow

            You probably don’t know this, but there’s some history between Jake and Grendl. Maybe I’m wrong, but I took Jake’s review/comments as nothing more than a few cheap shots disguised as supposedly helpful advice! :)

          • Linkthis83

            I did not know that. Which is probably why it makes sense that I used the words disguised and cloaked when describing his post.

            Although, if they were just cheap shots, I would’ve expected him to just say that when I ranted. Be he did not. He stood his ground.

          • gazrow

            I doubt he’d ever admit to it even if they were intended as cheap shots! Perhaps the advice was meant to help new writer’s, but I can’t help feeling it was also an opportunity for him to have a dig at Grendl!

          • Linkthis83

            Fair enough. I appreciate you helping me get some context here.

            EDIT: Yep, gazrow. I think you are right. I just re-read Jake’s reply to my post. He went ahead a clued me in (I missed it) AND defended his post. That’s my bad (the missing part, anyway). Thanks, man.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Gazrow, I have to say, I’m gutted by your lack of faith in my integrity.

            I think you know that everything I do, I do for the good of the SS screenwriting community, which I love like my own deformed and mildly mentally challenged child.

            Sure, a few people suddenly disappear from our little site after disagreeing with me, but let me assure you, they’re happily vacationing in Belize.

            I’m positive you’ll get a postcard from them any day now.

    • Linkthis83

      The simple translation of my passive aggressive response = If this were my screenplay and you gave me those notes, I wouldn’t know how to implement them (except for page count and title page). I wouldn’t know how to make my story better. All I would know is that there are things that need work and I made amateur mistakes.

  • RafaelSilvaeSouza

    As this is a character-driven screenplay, let’s start by talking about the characters. The commenters are praising the characters, but except for a couple, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. They’re good, but not great. And there are so many characters… and they kept appearing and disappearing from the screenplay, until I gave up trying to figure out who’s who. I focused on three or four with the most screen time and let the others roll by. That made for a very confusing ending with both Mickey and Michael at the lake…

    Now, the plot. It seems like grendl didn’t have an outline — not my style, but it’s not a problem, if the writer knows where he’s heading. Unfortunately, grendl didn’t.
    It seems like he was coming up with stuff as he was writing. “Well… I have no idea what to do now… what if I make Michael the love interest?” Things just happen, and most of them don’t make sense — like the whole theme park stuff.

    Also, yes, what they do is not a very nice thing… but calling the screenplay Real Monsters? It’s naive. If there was a pedophile or a rapist in there, yeah… those are real monsters.

    I was also annoyed by some problems with locations without slugs, and things like Katelyn running from Michael’s dinner table to the corridor, only to suddenly be back next to the table.

    All that said… I gotta admit it: grendl is a hell of a writer. Each scene is strong on it’s own — but without a proper outline, they don’t hold up. He also understands dialogue and conflict. He knows how to pace each scene — not a whole screenplay, though.

    If he just focuses on his story, cuts the number of characters and doesn’t stray from the story to tell an anecdote… he’s going to be unstoppable. As it is, it wasn’t for me.

  • ThomasBrownen

    First, I think Carson gave a really fair review to grendl. He had plenty of incentive to trash him, but his review pretty much corresponds with mine, so I think he was fair.

    But this probably only clocked in at a [x] wasn’t for me, although I think the writer has talent. The first 60 pages were too long and under-plotted, and I had trouble even deciding who the main characters were. I think some of the scenes could be shortened, and some of the characters could be reduced.

    Then I got interested around page 60. Watching Katelyn’s father fake the monster and deal with the dilemma of lying or saving his town was an interesting one. I got really into it, and in large part I think that’s because the characters were well done. The town and the characters all felt like real people, and grendl deserves credit for that.

    Ultimately, however, I started to lose interest again in the last part of the script. The tourist-is-really-a-famous-producer twist made me sit up and pay attention, but it seemed a bit too far out there. And the ending seemed to predictable after that. I dunno, maybe it shouldn’t have seemed predictable, but I just thought, “well, here is the part where they finally do something and take out the “new” monster.” And that’s more or less what happened.

    Overall, I just thought the story was rather uninspired. Not much going on, and even the good character work couldn’t make up for it. Still, the author has talent, and I’d be curious to see if he’s written anything else.

  • bluedenham

    Well. I was all prepared for some kind of hard-hitting, horror-laced story that might (or might
    not) show traces of brilliance. What I got instead was a mild, charming, slightly boring story about the inhabitants of an Irish village and a riff on a Loch Ness–type mystery hoax.

    I swear I’ve seen this before, although I can’t put a name to it. It also reminds me very much of the successful British TV comedy, Monarch of the Glen, which is about Scotland,
    not Ireland, but still….

    Overall I’d say this has very good character development and dialogue, and the story ties together nicely. And in a very strange turn of events, the second half is better than the
    first. I really began to enjoy it after page 60, when all the various stories began to pull together.

    But the first half is really slow going. The introductory scene at the lake is very nicely rendered, and the development of the characters is lovely. But by page 50, nothing had happened. Nothing. Oh, yes, some annoying American tourists drop by, and the pub owner’s daughter gets a job painting up at the castle, and her best friend leaves for
    America. That’s about it.

    And I wasn’t sure until around page 50 who the protagonist was. It’s Katelyn! And then, big development, Katelyn discovers the tricked-out boat by page 60 or so. Wow, that’s a stunner (not). Ah, finally, some action on pages 65 and 66. A dramatic rescue! But the hoax backfires! Things pick up a bit from there on out. I actually like the rest of the story. Very nice ending.

    I appreciate the fact that this is not some gun-toting hero action-packed whizerramma, I really do, but I didn’t feel any dramatic tension until far too late.

    And it seems slight, somehow. We don’t have GRU, we don’t have an easily identifiable
    protagonist, we don’t really have anything to make us want to sit through that
    first hour.

    It would work really well as a Monarch of the Glen episode, though.

  • fragglewriter

    I think the What I Learned tip is good advice if your looking to earn top dollar for a spec script and get known. But I also believe that a story like this would be good for a new writer as it’s low budget and will not the writer known in the industry which would lead hopefully being able to write a big budget blockbuster movie.

    I read until page 28, and stopped cause I’m at work and want to finish writing an outline for my own script LOL. But based on what I’ve read so far:

    -I liked: the V.O., imagery, characters, the writing
    -I didn’t like: too many characters, unless they pay off at the end. Can you cut the character count down a bit? ex: The hairdresser (can we find another way to get this point across)

    But other than that, from what I read, it was good.

  • ChadStuart

    My first thought upon finishing this is that it’s not the kind of script that sells, it’s the kind of script you have to make. Especially in today’s market. If the writer is very passionate about this story, he will find a way to make it.

    A script like this lives and dies by its characters and dialogue. Does this script have great characters and great dialogue? Well, yes and no.

    The dialogue is very evocative of the setting. There are some issues where words are in one line spelled phonetically for the accent, and then spelled correctly later, but I’m the type of reader that forgives that (some others are not). There’s also at least one scene that works only on the page but would never work spoken (the whole foul/fowl thing). The problem with the dialogue is that it doesn’t push the characters forward very often. Too many scenes felt like they were spinning their wheels with the only purpose of the scene to show off the color of the town. But after page 30 that wasn’t necessary anymore. I began to become very impatient with the scenes after that and put the script down three times before I could finish it.

    I think this is because the characters really aren’t fleshed out very well. If a character is well written, you can understand all of their choices. You feel it’s consistent with who they are. You might not have made that choice yourself, but you understand why the character did. I never got that here.

    Let’s take Liam. His motivation is to save the town by propagating the myth of the monster in the lake. By beyond keeping his pub filled with customers, why does he want to do that? What’s his inner motivation? I believe an old coot would perpetrate a hoax like this, but I want to know why THIS old coot would.

    Then there’s Katelyn. I’m gonna have to be real blunt with this, so I apologize up front, but she’s just a raging bitch for 80% of the story. That’s not character, that’s just a mood. It’s one note. It’s also a very high pitch note that became very fatiguing to read. This becomes a serious problem when she becomes the romantic lead. Why? Because it spoils Michael’s character. Why would he pursue this, forgive me again, bitch so hard? Because she’s pretty? That makes him pretty shallow. What’s in his past that would make his so inextricably drawn to this woman who is just angry all of the time and rebuffs his advances repeatedly?

    It’s okay to not have a relationship work out. I felt like, at the end, when Liam quickly mentions that Katelyn is still dating Michael that it was only because that’s how movies end and not because these two characters would actually mesh. It wasn’t sold to me. These two had nothing in common except that she’s a girl and he’s a boy. Yes, relationships should have conflict, but there should be more than conflict. Eventually, two characters should reach common ground and learn that they share some of the same values.

    I also wasn’t sold on the resolution to Katelyn’s character, i.e. that Michael “figures out” why she’s so angry and just blurts it out and that somehow awakens an epiphany in her. That’s too simple. A simple solution to a character flaw reveals simple characters. You really need to dig deeper into these characters and come up with something that’s both more complex and evocative of the entire story you’re telling.

    When approaching your next draft, I’d keep this one thought in mind: how do my characters’ play into the greater story I’m telling? This script is all about this little town. It’s about respecting history. So how does Katelyn wanting to leave play into that?

    My advice? She doesn’t. Leaving town is a cliche character motivation, not to mention it plays against your theme.The central conflict should be between Liam and Katelyn about the future of this town. One wants to continue this myth about the lake monster, the other doesn’t and wants to expose the hoax. They both have a deep love for this town, but different visions for it. Forget all of this nonsense about the movie because it’s showboating. If you have dynamic, interesting characters you won’t need all that nonsense at the end about blowing up a fake monster (none of which worked for me). It only seemed like it was included because the writer wanted a “big finish”. The conclusion needs to be about this relationship between father and daughter. That’s where your fireworks will be, and if you build the tension properly then you can have a big finish that’s just two people who have been at each others throats learning to love each other.

    This story is about people, keep your focus on that. The movie nonsense and the reversal from a documentary to a feature film pulls the focus away and creates a tone problem.

    Then, give a story to each of the supporting characters. The B and C plots should not be about this movie that’s being made (I still don’t understand why they had to be secretive at first and pretend to be a documentary if they’d already shot pieces of a movie enough for a sizzle reel) and be about these wonderful people you have populating the town. Basically, how does this conflict between Katelyn and Liam affect them? Do they all have differing ideas about the future of the town? I think a documentary is a fine catalyst to bring this all up, but you don’t need the “twist” that Warren wants to turn the town into a theme park. It was not very authentic.

    Just one more thing. When does this story take place? I don’t remember a date being given, but it’s obviously not present day because Richard Harris is still alive (unless the Innkeeper is very unaware of that fact or a bad bullshitter) and there’s no modern technology like cell phones. I don’t mind if it’s set back in the nineties since this feels like a mid-nineties character piece like “Brassed Off” or “Waking Ned Devine”, but you need to ask yourself if it needs to be. What does that add to the story?

    With all of that said, good luck with your rewrite.

    • SinclareRose

      Great comments on Katelyn’s character. I didn’t see it while I was reading because I felt that was just her, but yeah, she’s not nice, almost ever.
      I made a mental note to ask about the time of the story when I posted a comment earlier and totally forgot, but when does it take place? The 80s? 90s?
      The guy who turns out to be making the movie is staying at the Inn with his ‘wife’ when they have a sighting of Haddie. And then they take out a camera and run out of film.
      Really? Where’s the digital camera and/or cell phone.
      It has to be an earlier decade, right?

  • gazrow

    Hey Grendl –

    Well done for finally getting your script reviewed here on Scriptshadow! Also, huge congrats for achieving a coveted: [x] worth the read

    As a long time poster myself, I’ve had the occasional skirmish with you, though I’ve always had the good sense to back off eventually! LOL.

    Before I discuss the few pages I read, I should probably point out that I petitioned Carson months ago during an AOW to review your work (not that he listened – unfortunately, I don’t have any pull around here!) so I obviously have no ax to grind with you personally.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been crazy busy this week, so only had chance to read the first twenty five pages of Real Monsters. Plenty of folks (including Carson!) have complimented you on your characters and dialog which is great!

    One thing I noticed in particular, especially between pages 10-25, was that the story was all most entirely dialog led. Other than a two line description of the lake, there were few, if any, striking visuals to speak of.

    It’s not meant as a criticism of your writing, only to point something out you may wish to address with this script and your future work. God knows,my own writing suffers from been dialog heavy and only recently have I started to try and think/write more visually.

    Congrats and good luck! :)

    • MWire

      One thing I noticed in particular, especially between pages 10-25, was
      that the story was all most entirely dialog led. Other than a two line
      description of the lake, there were few, if any, striking visuals to
      speak of.

      Agreed. As I was reading the script, it struck me that it might work better as a stage play.

  • Charlestoaster

    Real fast because I’m late for work:
    – I think Carson hit it on the monster’s head with his review.
    – I was expecting the second twist in the twisty 3rd act but not the first one, which was cool.
    – On the second twist I kinda wanted it to turn into an Irish Godzilla but I know that would’ve been the worse choice ever considering everything that happened before hand.
    – loved the line about starving kids on the street.
    -Thought the warning in the SS newsletter wasn’t needed.

    • J. Lawrence Head

      Irish Godzilla – big huge dragon/dinosaur coming out of the like with a green hat, hunting down the humans who still had guiness and jamieson’s in their system so it could cure it’s monster hangover…..

  • MWire

    A pleasant little story that goes on for far too long. Good characters, good writing but no originality and nothing to separate it from the herd.

    [x] Not for me.

  • kenglo

    Carson hit the nail on the head again – excellent writing, excellent story telling. But waaay to long. Some parts were repetitive, and like he said, the dialogue just kept going and going, throwing a a quip that I can see/hear Grendl himself saying. But as mentioned in all the posts, I couldn’t wait for something to actually happen. I got to the part where the boat went up in flames and the real Haddie stood up. If there is a great twist later, I’ll continue on. He actually gave me the script a few weeks ago before Carson’s announcement, and just to be honest, talking to Grendl one on one and not in places like this, he seems like a pretty cool dude who knows STORY. I remember an article by Carson about writing vs story-telling. Grendl, hats off. Just need more friggin’ BLOOD and GUTS, HADDIE rippin’ a head off, or something, like MONSTER PROBLEMS! Good job, well worth the read.

  • drifting in space

    Grendl, I promise I will read the rest of your script this afternoon and give you a proper review. I finished the first 15 or so and agree, you’ve got some talent. I am definitely picturing what you’re setting up. That being said, I was a TAD bored by it and fell asleep on the bus into work. Not your fault entirely, it was 5:45 AM. After reading Carson’s review along with the comments (that are constructive anyways), I am curious how the rest plays out.

  • leitskev

    I don’t know if I am the only one having problems…but please! No more freaking Mediafire links! Man, I remembered that tedious and virus laden site from years ago, so I was reluctant to go there, but since it was Grendl…

    Anyway, I went and opened the link the other day, and I can’t stand reading the script in that display format of theirs. So I actually signed up an account hoping to get the PDF…nope. Couldn’t get it. And now, when I go to the link I can’t even open any version of the file. In fact, I signed in and all I got were some suggestive pictures, which I assume Grendl had nothing to do with!

    So I’m afraid I only got to read 20 pages. Can’t we just use Dropbox or something? I refuse to waste another minute with Mediafire.

    As far as what I can remember from the first 20 pages, I have to admit I was not thrilled with that VO. And it should be noted that I am not against VO. In fact I am generally in favor of it. But this VO struck me as rather long and not in any way entertaining. Long and not entertaining is not the way to start a movie or a script. The long VO setting up the story is something I see a lot in amateur scripts, and to be honest, that’s the impression this introduction left with me.

    I have great admiration for Grendl’s intelligence and script knowledge, and it was only based on that that I had some confidence to keep reading. And indeed, the writing improved substantially after this VO. The character dialogue felt authentic and organic.

    I meant to come back and finish, but could not access the script. So I can’t give more detailed remarks. It sounds like the rest of the story is rather well done! So I would humbly suggest working on the VO. Not losing it, but shortening it, and maybe spicing it up a little so it doesn’t have that ‘once upon a time’ feeling. Just my thoughts, thanks for having the courage to submit, Grendl.

    • ChadStuart

      Nope, didn’t have that problem. I’m not a Mediafire member and when I clicked “Download” it downloaded for me.

      • leitskev

        Tried again, nothing. Got some advertising windows to open. Selling me travel insurance. And you have to be careful not to click the wrong thing. What a monstrosity of a website.

        • Linkthis83

          Do you want me to email it to you?

          • leitskev

            Yes please! Then I will give our good comrade a fairer review.
            Leitskev@gmail.com

    • drifting in space

      I agree on the mediafire thing. That site is a haven for malicious attacks. Dropbox is waaaaaaay better and opens right IN the PDF.

    • SinclareRose

      I agree with the Mediafire comments. With SendSpace I could open it right on my iPhone and it would ask if I wanted to open it in my Kindle. So great. Now I have to download it onto my computer and email it to my Kindle. Yeah, I’m lazy.
      I agree that Grendl’s intro was very off-putting. I couldn’t believe, after all of his comments, that he would write camera directions and music cues. It was superfluous and seemed contradictory to past posts. But then I read past that and I got better. Only a few more moments of direction.

  • SinclareRose

    Just finished reading. Had a pretty busy week, but I wanted to read Grendl’s entire script due to his scandalous past on SS. I had to see if he could walk the walk.
    He seems to be ambling on down the road.
    There is definitely a story there, and he was able to tell it very well. I enjoyed being taken to this small town in Ireland, and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. Although he does tell a good story, he may have taken too long to get to the point of it. Scenes took longer than they should have, which I have no doubt he addressed in his 111 page rewrite.
    I felt the characters were real and could be genuine people anywhere. They were described well and written well. I did think Katelyn would end up with Paul in the beginning, even though he was ten or so years older than her. When Michael showed up I felt sorry for Paul. Maybe the love interest came a little too late in the story. I believed their characters until, and I may have missed this in a slug line (sometimes those are too easy to skim over), they were, SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, in bed together on the second (?) night. And how much time passed before Michael confronted Katelyn about her mother? The next day? That felt extremely forced and so did that argument.
    Those boys were mean and really needed an ass kicking. It may have been fun to see the real monster scare them at the end, then have the duck show up.
    I liked most of the dialogue. The Irish characters all had their Irish accents, and I could feel them. Katelyn had that red-headed Irish heat, but I know she has dark hair. “Black Irish beauty.” Some of the lines and scenes were pretty funny too. The ‘fowl’ line, the scene where everyone looks at the tourists at the bar after they mention the Loch Ness Monster, and the lines between Jerry and Liam with the garlic on the door.
    I felt this script was a good read, but it wasn’t a page turner where I had to find out what was going to happen next. I had to keep turning the pages because I had to find out when something was going to happen. I guess I am desensitized to action because I just wanted more of it in this script. I see that it’s a character driven story, and I understand that. I guess my brain is programmed to want more action.
    I wish Grendl the best of luck and would love to see what he comes up with next. Sans the lengthy disclaimer.
    An aside: I just figured out I’m a huge idiot — Every time I read the word ‘lough’ I would come up with a different pronunciation for it: low; loff; lug; etc. I guess I’ve never seen the word before. Looked it up at Dictionary.com to hear it pronounced, and it’s ‘lock.’ Yeah, I feel stupid.

  • Kay Bryen

    If this script were a person, it would be one of the residents of Delphi who are too safe to venture elsewhere. I don’t know what will kill me first, the lake monster or the irony…

    Is it competently written? Absolutely.
    Does it have heart? Absolutely.

    Is it authentic? Absolutely not.

    Listen, just because something isn’t American, doesn’t make it Irish. You could’ve set this story in England without changing nary a word.

    Technically, this was always going to be “worth the read” by virtue of it being a Grendl script alone. But if I’m being honest I much preferred his “Undertow” because – pretentious though it was – it took a chance, it had fur on its nuts goddammit!

    Unless you’re writing a TV movie, this is too safe — a lake monster that doesn’t rock the boat, or even ripple the surface.

    The sad part is, I would’ve loved to see Grendl tear this one a new one :-(

  • crazedwriter

    Congrats Grendl on the Worth the Read.

  • Linkthis83

    I gave in to doing what I already know is unnecessary to do. But I also feel like standing up for writers and their work. Or at least giving some feedback to someone on their self-constructed platform. One day, I’m sure I will be doing it to you. Hell, I had one all written out for you when you were going off during the AF submission Gideon. But I was able to let that go for some reason.

    • John Bradley

      Carson should have charged money to view this back and forth, I would have easily paid $20 to read this post today!

      • Linkthis83

        $20 is probably a tad too steep for an indirect clash of egos. It should probably be more like $15.50. That feels about right ;)

  • klmn

    Congratulations on the “worth the read.”

  • Linkthis83

    I was just being facetious. I assume anything anyone says about grendl carries a percentage of merit based on his own postings. I’d say it to him and he’d probably agree (or vehemently deny :)

  • Kay Bryen

    I never thought I’d see the day… Karl, my one-time favorite commenter four years ago!! How are your two little redcoats? And any updates on your scripts?

    Even if you sink back into the ether, I’m just glad you’re alive; I was really worried about you.

  • jaehkim

    I got though the first act so far and pretty much agree with carson’s assessment.
    when the first scene on p3 in the pub went into p9, I knew this was going to be filled with long scenes with a lot of dialogue.
    second scene – p9 to p13. I’m sorry but at this point I started skimming the dialogue.

    p17. finally some character development. is katelyn the protagonist? it’s hard to tell due to all the dialogue from different characters. I know this is an assemble piece but katelyn feels like the main character and I wish the story was told more from her perspective.

    a lot of characters. I get a feeling of great world building and I can really picture myself at the town, but it comes at the expense of individual development. I would focus on katelyn more. I know it might make the script read like some gerald butler romantic comedy, but at this point I don’t know what characters to really invest myself in.

  • Lisa Aldin

    Congratulations Grendl! I haven’t had the chance to read, but I am intrigued by the story.

  • Jaco

    Having read another script of grendl’s a while back, I already had preconceived notions going in. Unfortunately, those were realized.

    You write too much.

    Consequence: A rambling, boring story.

    However, congrats on being able to connect with some readers – as we all know, this is such a subjective thing.

    My advice – move on. Keep writing. Keep trying. Maybe go through the comments you’ve made to other writers over the past year and see if you are really practicing what you preach.

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

    I read the first fifteen, agree with Carson.

    People seem to be lambasting “long scenes with a lot of dialogue.” That’s certainly the case here, but you should really dig deeper than that. Such scenes are not inherently bad. Open up Sorkin’s The Social Network and read that 8 page all-dialogue opening scene. It’s phenomenal.

    The problem isn’t that they’re long dialogue scenes, the problem is that the writer doesn’t know how to use those scenes. They’re filler here. Which is why Carson, in the end, felt that there wasn’t enough story. Long dialogue scenes are perfectly fine if a) you use the dialogue to reveal character and b) you have conflict – each character wants something, and what they want is not the same, and is often contradictory. See the previously referenced Social Network scene. It amazingly introduces us to the pompous, egotistical, almost ADD mind of Mark Zuckerberg. And the conflict is obvious. That’s why Sorkin could sustain our interest for 8 pages of nothing but sitting at a table talking.

    For the record, long dialogue scenes are not bad. What’s bad is not knowing how to use them.

    • JakeBarnes12

      How many people you think can write gripping, character-revealing eight-page dialogue scenes like Sorkin, Matt?

      Sam Shepard, check. David Mamet, check. Pulitzer prize winning dramatists.

      Guy who wrote “Saw,” not so much.

      Doesn’t that opening scene in the Social Network immediately come to mind precisely because it is rare to see such scenes in Hollywood movies and even rarer to see them done well?

      Now in the amateur world, of which I am a proud part, may I add, you see them all the time — from writers who don’t know any better.

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

        Does it matter? What you just said isn’t a case against my statement(s).

        • JakeBarnes12

          It’s like telling everyone to jump off the Vincent Thomas bridge cause you knew a guy once who survived.

          ‘cept without the broken limbs ‘n’ drownin’ ‘n’ stuff.

          i.e. Really bad freakin’ advice for most people.

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

            Did I ever say people should do it? Did I ever recommend it to amateur writers?

            All I said was that long dialogue scenes are not *inherently* bad. People act like they are. They aren’t. The reason they usually suck isn’t just because they’re long, or just because they’re dialogue…. a long “action” scene could be just as boring.

          • AJ

            I definitely think the only way to learn to do it well is to practice. I understood the sentiment Matty and agree 100%.

          • JakeBarnes12

            When you come on an amateur writer site, Matt, and may I just reiterate, I’m a card-carrying love-the-life amateur writer, and say that long scenes with a lot of dialogue are not inherently bad, how exactly do you think said amateur writers are going to take such a statement, especially from a Hollywood insider such as yourself who’s got insider experience of the business?

            That’s an endorsement, my friend.

            That’s a Hollywood reader offering carte blanche to us to create monstrously long rambling scenes of stultifying boredom.

            Sure you said “what’s bad is not knowing how to use them.” You think any of us don’t think we’re the exception to the rule, the guy who can do it?

            You love us, man, you want us to write well, you tell us two pages and out, because that’s what really works most of the time.

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

            I’m not going to tell anybody not to do something if it can work. I’m going to warn them of the pitfalls, why it doesn’t usually work, why it’s damn hard, and then wish them well.

            I didn’t tell anybody they *should* do it, and I didn’t tell anybody they *shouldn’t*. It is an endorsement in so far that I don’t disapprove of someone trying it. But I’m also not recommending it. Call that what you will.

            The point of the original post – which you’re missing – is that there are stigmas surrounding certain techniques, styles, etc. that focus their negativity in the wrong place. It is not helpful to discard something entirely that has been proven to work simply because it is hard to make it work. What *is* helpful is to point out why it fails most of the time. That’s what I was doing.

            Writers make careers by standing out. They stand out by taking chances. And you can’t take chances by doing what “works most of the time.”

          • JakeBarnes12

            So let’s say we take your Hollywood Insider advice, Matt, and work really, really, really hard on our writing-eight-page-scenes skills.

            I mean, us amateur grunts are bustin’ our balls for weeks and months on those eight-page bad boys, cause as you say yourself, they’re really hard to do well.

            But, okay, phew, I’ve done it. I mean, I’ve studied Mamet, Shepard, and Sorkin until I can recite every one of their long-ass scenes and now I too am ready to join the Pulitzer-prizing winning dramatist club.

            So how many of those eight-page scenes should I put into my script?

            I mean, I put fourteen of those muthas in there and, well, that’s the whole darn script!!

            So maybe I better scale that back, put in, what, two? Would three long scenes kinda drag?

            So what the heck do I do for the rest of my opus?

            WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY???

            Most scripts consist of two-page scenes??? Are you sh*ttin’ me???

            You mean I just busted my balls working on this incredibly difficult to master skill that frankly only Aaron Sorkin has ever done in any recent freakin’ movie and it was one freakin’ scene so look up anomaly in the dictionary, sport, and now for the rest of the time I gotta master getting all that drama and character and tension into TWO PAGES???

            Well, okey dokey, then.

            Think what I’ll do instead is spend my amateur time working on packing drama and tension and conflict into TWO-PAGE scenes because that’s what almost every professional script sold in the last twenty years consists of.

            Somehow those scripts managed to stand out with stuff like fresh concepts, strong characters, and compelling plots.

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

            If what you gleaned from my comments was that I suggest you work really really hard on writing long dialogue scenes, you’re entirely missing the point, and I’m not going to explain it again.

            Good luck, sir.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Look, Matt, I appreciate this is dragging on, so I’m going to clarify my problem with your initial post and leave it there.

            You know that the vast majority of professional scripts consist of half-page to three-page scenes with two-pages being a rough average.

            You must also know that many amateurs tend to write long. In most cases it’s not a prize-winning dramatist like Sorkin masterfully crafting a slow-burn scene, it’s a guy who’s working on his first or second script and thinks he needs five to eight pages for a scene when he NEEDS TO LEARN HOW TO MAKE IT MUCH SHORTER.

            So when you finish your original post by writing “For the record, long dialogue scenes are not bad. What’s bad is not knowing how to use them” then I agree with you, but I also think that you’re sending the wrong message to that guy, because he’s already writing those long scenes and, through his lack of experience, he thinks he does know how to use them.

            I know because I was that guy. I bet you were too. And some people reading your words are still that guy.

            The advice that is going to serve most writers most of the time is work on writing shorter scenes, somewhere in the two-page range.

            That’s all I wanted to say.

          • Midnight Luck

            I LOVE George Bernard Shaw, and one of my favorite quotes is:

            “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”

            I believe there is mastery in being able to shorten everything. Come in really late, go out early, say what you are trying to say in the least, yet most effective words.

            I once wrote a short for a contest that needed to be 12 pages. It came in at 43 pages…. then it took me two months to bring it down. It was one of the most amazing lessons I have ever been through. And it MADE my script nail the mark.

            Now I in no way mean that long dialogue is bad. It can be done, definitely. But you REALLY need to know what you are doing. The opening scene of SOCIAL NETWORK does stand out. It sets up the entire story in one scene. We get all the info we need for what is happening, what is coming, and who the characters are. In a great scene, and flies by, as it is so damn effective.

            I also think of TRUE ROMANCE and Tarantino’s scene with Dennis Hopper being grilled by Christopher Walken. That scene is famous, and looong, but amazing. It keeps you thrilled, is full of intrigue and tension. It clicks along and never bores. All the dialogue is spot on.

            If you know how to make the scene PLAY, then writers should give it a try. But really work at making it do what is needed for the scene. Don’t just have it be 2 pages of blabbing idiots smoking pot, full of dick and fart jokes with buddies in an apartment.

            Scenes need to be full of tension, character development, and intrigue. And dialogue scenes are no different.

            In the end, though, for most writers and most scripts:

            Incredible skill is at play, when a writer figures out how to say the most with the least.

          • Linkthis83

            Matt, your communication skills are superb. Whether it’s positive, constructive feedback or just stating your position. Not only is it [x] impressive, it’s simultaneously [x] worth the read.

          • Linkthis83

            Don’t go down this road, Jake. There’s no need to put your self-professed expertise in question. You’ve got enough anonymous support to where you don’t have to validate your points to anyone.

            With that being said, I probably need to find my passport. I have a feeling I’ve got an unscheduled trip to Belize in my future.

      • drifting in space

        That’s like, exactly what he said.

      • Citizen M

        I don’t want to end up as roadkill in this heavy comment traffic, but as someone who has called for longer scenes I’d like to restate my position.

        Too many amateur scripts restrict their dialogue to just the amount of talk needed to move the plot along or convey the information the audience needs. That’s too two-dimensional.

        In reality when people meet, particularly if they are strangers, there is an attempt to establish themselves in the social pecking order. It’s done very subtly, and of course in the flesh we get other cues such as body language and wealth displays in choice of clothing etc. In a script, we basically only have dialogue to suggest this jockeying for position.

        When friends meet, their social positions are already established, so no need to feel each other out. But there is a need to act in character and confirm one’s position so as to reassure the other party that all is still as it was, social dominance-wise.

        I’m not talking about making longs speeches here. It’s just a sentence or two. But it gives a vital third subtextual dimension to the proceedings.

        • JakeBarnes12

          Sure. Sometimes scenes need to breathe. Depends if there’s a lot of action or dialogue, etc. It’s possible to cut too much.

          I agree you don’t want just plot-generator dialogue — dull.

          I usually write a lot of dialogue, just let it go on, looking for some good stuff, the rhythm of the scene, and then cut it down later.

          It’s usually pretty easy to get it within two pages but spilling onto the third page is no problem.

          Once had a five page scene in an early script. Our one five-page scene. That was crazy. Thought we needed it all. That was just lack of experience on our part.

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

            I actually institute the same tactic of writing – which is to overwrite, and then cut it down later. My theory is that you’ll always write some crap, some good stuff, and some great stuff. So if you overwrite, you can later cut out the crap, and still be left with a decent amount of good/great. Just a theory though.

            Some scenes simply need to be longer. In one of my scripts that I’ll be submitting to AF soon, I have a 7-8 page scene that has been universally considered the best scene in the script – and we’ve gotten a ton of coverage on it, so that universal is a lot of damn people. That scene was originally actually shorter. It’s become longer out of necessity to build tension; you realistically can’t do some types of scenes, especially suspense, in 2 pages. That said, all of the other scenes are half to three pages in length, that’s the exception.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Sounds like you’re about to join the Sorkin club, Matt. :)

        • steve

          Movies aren’t real life, thankfully. They’re the illusion of real life, stripped down the what’s interesting and necessary to tell the story. Not even reality TV is real life, because real life is quite boring, which is why we like movies.

    • Jonathan Soens

      I think people who want to break the “rules” that great writers get away with breaking need to examine how much work and skill goes into writing something that is able to get away with it.

      I recently read that piece titled “How to Write An Aaron Sorkin Script” by Aaron Sorkin. He took the long Jeff Daniels monologue from the opening minutes of “The Newsroom,” and he broke it up into chunks to show the reason he wrote certain parts of it the way he did. It was interesting.

      Part of his analysis explains how he looks at a speech in terms of a musical piece, so some of his comments seem to be about the art of appealing to the ears/mind/emotions of the listener in a purely auditory way. But he also gets into the nuts and bolts of what certain lines accomplish as far as the story or the character, or just keeping things fresh.

      So he’s giving a running commentary on the monologue he wrote, basically saying: “This part has the character dismiss the other speakers, making him the only person left to talk. And then this part works to show how crazy-smart this character is, for him to be able to cite all these facts and figures off the top of his head. And then this part is to establish the music and rhythm of his oratory, because he’s about to go on a tear so I need the listener to get sucked in by the music of his voice. And then this part is where we slow down and show his thoughtfulness and pain, so he’s not ranting angrily. And then this part takes us back to the original question that prompted the whole thing, because this is is a natural resolution or conclusion. And then, just to acknowledge the epic monologue he delivered, I have the character turn to the moderator and ask if his answer was enough.”

      The problem with trying to break the rules is that most writers just don’t know how the great ones get away with it. They’re too focused on the fact that people get away with it at all, and not nearly focused enough on how they get away with it. They don’t play on that level yet. You can point to dialogue-heavy Sorkin scripts, but when you try to write something similarly dialogue-heavy there are probably two things holding you back:

      1. Your dialogue probably isn’t accomplishing the things his dialogue is accomplishing. Your dialogue is probably just a rapid-fire delivery of a bunch of lines you thought sounded cool. Your speeches are probably just meandering self-important rants. (But this can be fixed once you know what you’re doing. Eventually, when you get better at it, you should be able to tell the difference between empty dialogue that just sounds good and hefty dialogue that actually carries its own weight.)

      2. You might just not have the ear for dialogue that “sings” the way Sorkin’s words do. Call it poetry or music or rhythm or cadence, whatever. Some people can write write rat-a-tat dialogue that crackles. Some can only write words that are spoken fast and work towards a purpose, but they don’t really crackle. Some can write a speech that soars and sings, and some people write speeches that just bore or anger the reader/viewer/listener. This probably can’t be taught, although Sorkin touches on some of the tricks and flourishes for establishing rhythm and choosing words in a way that will hold the listeners’ attention.

    • steve

      It didn’t sustain my interest. I bailed on that talky POS script.

  • klmn

    Now that grendl has defeated Carson in single combat, what will be the fate of Scriptshadow? Will everyone live happily ever after?

    Or will a new villain emerge to terrorize the site? That’s what I’m hoping for.

    • crazedwriter

      maybe there will be a lizzard comeback!

      • klmn

        I miss his posts.

    • ripleyy

      Cyborg Grendl.

    • Paul Clarke

      ‘Have you ever seen the “Terminator”?’

      • klmn

        Many times, including its original run in theaters.

        It’s funny that you mention that one- I have my own robot script that will be done in two weeks. No time travel in mine, though.

        • AJ

          Because… it takes place in parallel dimensions?

          • klmn

            No, just robots (and people) here on earth. I’ll post a link to the script if anyone here wants to read it.

          • AJ

            I would definitely check it out sometime this weekend.

          • klmn

            Thanks, but it won’t be done for two weeks.

  • craktactor

    Okay. To echo Carson, that opening VO sequence could and should go bye-bye. It doesn’t really offer anything to the story, especially seeing as how the “story” of Haddie gets told by Mickey in the bar.

    Tonally, I liked it. It was reminiscent (to me, at least) of Waking Ned Devine and Local Hero. And that’s never a bad thing.

    As for the dialogue: it’s not bad. Not great, but not bad. The use of certain words (ie: “fook”) instead of the more familiar usage (which you DO use with some characters) came off as “trying too hard” . I get what you were trying to do, it just didn’t work. Not for me anyway.

    One aspect I always find problematic with specs, regardless of the level of writing, is the overt “directing” some seem to utilize. And you do utilize that in this. MED SHOT, ANGLE ON, LONG SHOT, and the like don’t belong in a spec. There’s a billion other ways to convey those “shots”. You’re a writer. You know better. I know you know better. It reveals a laziness on your part. And as I just mentioned, you know better.
    Overall, the story is fun. A quick read too. But I’m partial to all things Irish, having spent a good chunk of time there over the past 30 years or so. I’ve been in little villages like Delphi. And drank in all of them. Pubs like the Doral are everywhere. And Guinness tastes the same in every one of them. ;)

    So there you go.

  • Somersby

    I enjoyed this one a lot. Very reminiscent of films like “Waking Ned Devine”, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”, “Saving Grace” and even “The Full Monty”. A pleasant change from the hard-action flicks typically favoured by Carson. I’m glad to say this one has no guns, no aliens, no zombies and no time travel.

    Monsters, yes… but definitely of a different ilk.

    As others have pointed out, the script has a lot of heart. It’s also gentle and atmospheric. Not an easy thing to capture. Nicely done, Grendl.

    I have only two comments—both echoing what a few others have already stated.

    Katelyn needs to be fleshed out. At the moment, she comes across as the angry shrew. She has some redeeming characteristics, but her likeability is just too well hidden. If Michael is going to fall for her then he—and we—need to see a little more of what draws him to her. We see her vulnerability and we can understand why she has her guard up, but seeing some charm, humour or sexiness a little sooner in the script would go a long way to making us root for them to get together.

    The script needs to be updated to include digital cameras and cell phones, especially since (spoilers!) the automatronic lake monster is about as high-tech as you can get. Reference to Warren and Sondra calling ahead from every gas station (instead of a cell phone), puts the story in the late 80s or early 90s.

    Other than that, and maybe trimming it down a few pages—light comedies seldom go over 100 – 110 pages, it’s in pretty darn good shape.

    Definitely [X] worth the read.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Wait, you talkin’ about the TITLE PAGE???

    You sayin’ it ain’t in your fancy-schmancy “courier,” whatever that is? Don’t use words like “font” round here, college boy!

    What kinda elitist society you tryin’ to set up?

    Everybody round here knows exactly the same as everybody else and anybody takes on book-learnin’ airs, we got a wall we use for people like that.

  • John Bradley

    I have been waiting for a grendl review on here god dammit! He is truly a Scriptshadow outlaw! Congrats Grendl on getting a Worth the Read!

  • Trek

    Congrats Grendl!

    I’d say Carson’s review is sound (I haven’t finished the script yet, but did start it after receiving it in the newsletter). I for one loved that opening narration at the beginning. And I also disagree with Kay’s view that it could have been set anywhere. Keep in mind, there are somethings in film that can only be visualized once it’s seen on screen. The difference in settings between the UK and Ireland are one of those. Granted more Irish-centric dialogue could have been added, but that’s really just a nitpicky thing for me.

    Overall though, I’d say great job. Hopefully we’ll see another Grendl script reviewed in the future. :)

    • Linkthis83

      I too enjoyed the opening sequence. Isn’t there a chance if you try to go too authentic with the dialogue you may lose the reader? Also, once it was established that it was Ireland, every piece of dialogue I read had the accent associated with it in my head.

      • drifting in space

        Too authentic and you wouldn’t understand a word they say.

        • Alex Palmer

          As much as people deny it, viewers like to work for their entertainment. Hell, part of the fun with watching The Wire was wondering what the hell everyone was mumbling. :)

    • Poe_Serling

      I agree. I thought the opening worked on more than one level:

      1) the VO was an effective way to introduce the audience to the unique Irish locale and a bit of the lake monster history.

      2) another clever touch was having the aerial shots fly over the countryside and village before landing into the water as a duck.

      But why a duck? Well…

      3) Being a major pseudoscience enthusiast, that particular species of bird is tied directly into the truths/myths/etc. associated with lake monsters and their brethren.

      Most scientists say ‘lake monster’ ripples are actually ducks and other large brids landing/floating across the water, but viewed from a distance they might appear to be a serpent-like creature moving across the surface of the lake.

      There’s also a bit of dialogue in the first pages of the script about the lake’s duck population dropping by 60% or so.

      Once more, you hear those in the know saying that Nessie and his ilk couldn’t exist in places like Loch Ness because of the limited food supply to feed such a creature. So, within the parameters of this story, the missing ducks would be another hint that a monster could possibly be living in the depths of the water and a needed link in their food chain to survive.

  • Citizen M

    I read all 126 pages. I’m sorry Carson didn’t review the shorter version, because the current script is obviously over-long.

    Like Carson and most commenters, I thought this was a sweet story with none of the bile one expects from Grendl.

    The dialogue was good, but there was too much which added nothing to plot or character. Some of it was funny. I wanted more humour. The genre is listed as drama, but I think quirky comedy is the way to go. “Loch Ness” with Ted Danson was drama. Similar setup with American coming to lake with monster and conflict with the locals, but it goes in a more dramatic and thoughtful direction. “Real Monsters” tends more to physical comedy.

    There is scope for combining characters. They were all pretty interchangeable. Between the three painters, the roofer, and the cabdriver, they all sounded much the same and fulfilled the same role. Mickey the fisherman was the only standout among the minor characters.

    I would have liked more background on the romantic lead, Michael Weiss. He lives in a castle with a butler and drives a Porsche 911. Is the guy a millionaire or something? What does Katelyn see in him? I don’t believe a film crew lives like this. If they took over an old warehouse on the docks and fitted it out it would be more believable, as well as solving the problem of transporting their equipment as one commenter pointed out.

    There should be more conflict. In these small places there is usually a clash between the old guard who want things to stay the way they are, and the modernisers who want development.

    The twist was fairly predictable. I pretty much figured it out long before the end, and I don’t usually. So to send the audience away satisfied think it is necessary to wrap the story up neatly with all problems solved and everybody happy. But this doesn’t. I wanted Katelyn and Michael making a new life in a revived village. Instead, they are not even together and Katelyn is unsettled in the USA.

  • Citizen M

    Karlos! Nice to see you. One of our most thoughtful commenters, and still as sharp as ever. Like Kay, I’m glad to know you’re alive. Hope you’re doing well.

    Say, has a Bodhicat ever crossed your path in the last few years?

  • jlugozjr

    Very few people are commenting on the BIG TWIST. (the theme park) Did anyone read past pg. 30? Does anyone really care?

  • crazedwriter

    Grendl on Grendl? Love it!

  • Spitgag

    I have no G bias whatsoever. Most of the time, I think he makes decent points even if his personal style is polarizing.

    I also enjoyed his last script. I don’t remember the title but it was a crazy, surreal, Alice in Wonderland thing that took a ton of chances with a killer voice.

    This one, however, felt overwritten, unfocused, and was a slog.

    How this got a “Worth The Read” completely baffles me. Is there a new (lower), SS standard in play now? No, that can’t be it since AM scripts have gotten better – actually way better – over the past yearish. It must be that you only need a coherent screenplay with three acts with some decent scene work but it’s totally ok if your Act 3 is a sucky piece of shit.

    Really????

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    Haven’t read the script so I can’t say anything about it nor complain or agree with Carson’s rating. Though, I got to say that I don’t agree with the way grendl got a review. Not a personal thing. I’d feel the same way for any other commenter that got his script reviewed this way.

    Grendl could easily get many people to read his stuff by:

    a) Adding a link to his script at the end of his comments. Would he get honest feedback? Not by the majority, but I’m sure there would be some people here who’d do that and that Grendl could sort out what’s true and helpful and what’s not.

    b) By submitting his logline to the AF. I’m sure the SS community would vote to have his script reviewed, so they can have their “revenge” of course, but, still, he’d get a review.

    On the other hand, this is a community and as it happens with every community, all people are equal, but some are just more equal than others.

    At least, I hope Carson’s review was helpful to the writer and it will help him become better.

    • drifting in space

      I think a lot of people were chompin’ at the bit for him to post a script, especially folks newer to the site. We got what we wanted from the elusive but ever present grendl, and now we’ll slip back into our normal SS routines.

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        Yeah, something like that. :)

      • Gregory Mandarano

        ‘Champing’ at the bit. :-) Don’t mean to be ‘that guy’ but now you know.

        • drifting in space

          Learn somethin’ every day!

          • witwoud

            It’s chomping. Don’t listen to that guy.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Gentlemen, gentlemen, put away those knives.

            Both forms are possible.

            I know this because the internet knows this.

          • Citizen M

            It’s champing. Don’t be a chimp/chump <– pick one. ;-)

    • Crazdwrtr

      Quite frankly I don’t have a problem with how Carson chose this script. Because he has done so much to offer exposure to so many. This is Carson’s site afterall, and he can doe as he pleases. Grendl obviously has made AF submissions. (The vote by the masses thing is fairly new and just started this year.) Carson used to just choose whatever he wanted, and apparently he chose that route for Grendl’s script.

      • Jonathan Soens

        It’s tough to get worked up about.

        Maybe there’s a jealous part of me that wants to say, “So this is the basis on which we’re handing out reviews to amateurs now?”

        But Grendl’s been doing his thing for awhile. I don’t think anyone is honestly thinking: “Oh, that’ll be my new scheme. I’m going to invent this persona and I’m going to play that role for 4 years and finally sucker them into reviewing my script as a result.”

        No, the path Grendl took isn’t exactly a repeatable blueprint for successfully finagling a review here.

        Added to which, Carson has used unique criteria or angles for picking scripts to review in the past, so it’s not like this is new. I remember he went out of his way to choose a script one day from someone who was explicitly claiming their script was better than another script. He thought it would be a fun (or fresh) way to approach the amateur reviews for one day, and it was.

        When you’re churning out material 4 or 5 days a week for a website, you can either do the same thing all the time or you can shake it up and try different ideas. Much as people like to complain any/every time Carson deviates from a routine, I appreciate that he’ll have an idea pop into his head and he’ll run with it to see where it leads. It’s one of the things about ScriptShadow that has sucked me in. I don’t need a rigid structure so that each week is the same as the week before and the same as the week that will follow.

        I’ll say this: There are other websites I visit who also send out a newsletter. Lots of them sit in my inbox unopened because I know basically what they’re up to on any given day or week without reading their newsletter. The ScriptShadow newsletter never sits unopened in my inbox.

        • sheebshag

          Actually I think SS’s somewhat rigid structure is one of its strengths. I mean, there’s a schedule. It’s not just “random” postings like many other blogs, even blogs on screenwriting. I think it’s great that Carson follows a set structure and then SOMETIMES shakes it up a little bit. It’s a perfect balance between predictable and chaotic.

        • drifting in space

          This FTW.

    • klmn

      Evidently the secret is to write rambling emails to Carson telling him how he’s the world’s worst person. And when you stop, Carson will review your script.

      Carson, prepare for the deluge.

    • Citizen M

      Grendl has contributed a lot to this site. I have no problem with him getting special consideration. He’s earned it. Many AF writers are people we’ve never heard of who make no comments, not even to say thank you for reading me.

      Love him or hate him (or her), at least he’s visible and you can engage with him, if you dare.

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        Carson wil review whatever the hell he wants to review for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean I agree, but that doesn’t mean also that Carson should act according to my opinions.

        If Carson reviewed a screenplay from Matty after his contribution with that article I’d be 100% okay with it. But I guess what someone perceives as useful contribution is totally subjective.

        I’ll just ignore the “if you dare”. You can probably realize now how stupid it looks.

        • Citizen M

          What’s stupid about it? I’ve had a couple of run-ins with Grendl and ended up beaten and bruised. An angry Grendl is a ferocious beast.

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            That’s what bothers me. Rewarding a commenter for being this way. I’ve been wrong a lot of times in my comments and there were always people that corrected me in a very decent way (maybe you were one of them, too. Can’t remember.)

  • drifting in space

    This is the greatest thing I have ever laid eyes upon.

    • garrett_h

      Easily the best post in Scriptshadow Comment History. Better than anything bodhicat or Karlosd ever wrote.

  • gazrow

    Hey Karl –

    Good to see you make an appearance!

    Take care.

  • JakeBarnes12

    That was way better than the script.

  • jlugozjr

    Grendl, what’s up with the firework that EXPLODES and burns down the bar. Was it dynamite? Please explain.

    • sheebshag

      I believe a bottle of alcohol was involved. If I recall correctly.

      • jlugozjr

        Nope. I reread the scene. Liam is passed out on the floor, the firework drops down and rolls toward his head, but stops when it bumps into a beer keg.

        It “EXPLODES”, caves in the ceiling, blows out the windows and causes the ground to “QUAKE”. Bar burns down. Somehow Liam survives.

        Grendl?

        • Citizen M

          Must be one of those IRA fireworks.

  • Acarl

    I have to say to Carson:
    Great, great, fucking great, programming over the past two weeks. The two
    part interview with Alex Felix, the insider column by Matty and then the
    fantastic build up to the Grendl review in the newsletter—well done! Your ratings (if you were a programming director) would get you a 50K bonus at most networks.

    The most unique thing about these past two weeks is that we,
    the captive audience at SS, have benefitted from the simple notion that one
    learns more when at play than at work. I, for one, have learned much over the past 2-3 weeks…not that I don’t always learn plenty while here at SS Academy…

    Thank you, Carson!

  • ArabyChic

    What moron gave this a “down” arrow? Was it YOU, Grendl?

  • Montana Gillis

    This was well written and the characters and location came to life for me… But I checked out after 40 pages because it was not a compelling story. Grendl could be one good concept away from selling a script, but it won’t be this one.

  • witwoud

    This reads like a prolonged Guinness advert. Sorry, not for me.

  • Midnight Luck

    Two days ago I read to 12 pages in, and sorry, but honestly it was rough getting even there. I am going to continue, but at this point I have absolutely no idea or memory of what it was about. Someone talking in voiceover for what seemed an eternity, and then a bunch of people talk / sparring in a pub I think? or something? 12 pages and I couldn’t tell you much about it. Maybe this is for a purpose? but I really don’t see what that could be.

    As I said, I will continue, but something needs to start soon, or I will be out by page 25 or 30.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Try for 33.

      That’s where a really long pub scene ends.

      You’ll be none the wiser story-wise, but you’ll glow with a sense of personal achievement for sticking it out.

      Or you could chuck it and watch “Local Hero” and marvel at an early appearance by Malcolm Tucker.

      • Somersby

        Let it go, Jake. You’re acting like an effing 8-year-old.

        • JakeBarnes12

          Seriously, man. Watch “Local Hero.” It shows how to do charming and meandering right.

          • Somersby

            Jake, you’re miffed that Grendl disagreed with you sometime way back when. Don’t pretend you’re a knight in shining armour coming to the rescue of some other commenter. Own up to your own stuff, man.

            I don’t have an issue with you. You’ve been a long time commenter on this site and although I haven’t always agreed with you, I have appreciated your participation and your insights.

            But you’ve chosen to childishly drag this personal vendetta with Grendl into the public square. Regulars readers and contributers to this site aren’t interested in your mean-spirited reviews based solely on your animosity towards Grendl. They’re interested in constructive feedback. Yet you’ve hijacked this thread for one purpose and one purpose only–to put Grendly in his place.

            Not cool.

            I think you owe the regulars an apology. But I’m not naive enough to expect one.

            As Kay says, you’re better than that. At least you should be.

            I expect you’ll have some sort of vitriolic response to this, but I really don’t care. I’ve been contributing to this board for over 3 years and have never felt the need to respond to such ridiculously adolescent comments until now.

            What’s that tell ya?

  • sweetvita

    I read grendl’s script before Carson committed to the review. At that time, it was called something else. And grendl, not that you care, but I like the other title name – I think it fits the story expectation better. Anyway, I was transported right into that Irish village and was caught up in the characters’ world. I could visualize the surroundings and what was happening. To me, the world and the characters felt authentic. I enjoyed the read.

    And happy that Carson gave grendl his moment with his script. Because as acerbic as grendl can be, he is faithful to review others’ scripts, as is other people in this community are, too.

    Touching on a topic of times past, it would be great if Carson had a “play for pay” day set aside. It would be to review scripts by people in this community who take the time to consistently and thoughtfully reviews others’ scripts.

  • Jaco

    I find it interesting that your post critiquing your script is actually better writing than the script itself. Figure out why and I think you will be in line to level up.

  • klmn

    I like dialect in films. The Butcher Boy is a great example.

  • Linkthis83

    I’ve never watched it so any lingo I used is purely coincidental. Which lingo was it?

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

      Going to Belize = being murdered…

      …in Breaking Bad lingo

      • Linkthis83

        That makes sense now. I was using a quote Jake made to gazrow about other posters going to Belize.

  • Kirk Diggler

    My two cents. I thought it was a quaint little (but long) screenplay, perhaps better suited to another time. It would be a tough sell these days in the world of Michael Bay B.S. Compared to a lot of amateur screenplays I’ve read in these parts, it had a great deal of polish. I found the dialogue and descriptions very well done, even if some of the local characters were a little too similar in some respect.

    Some commenters have found Katelyn to be harsh, going so far as to call her a bitch. I disagree with this assessment. Much of her anger was righteous indignation, particularly as it is directed toward her father, a bit of a ne’er-do-well. It seems Katelyn wants a better life for herself but either doesn’t have the courage to go for it or feels a familial obligation to stay in town and watch over her hapless father. I liked her and thought she was strong and opinionated, not a bitch at all. She probably just needed some romance in her life. And that was where Michael was supposed to come in. And that is one of my criticisms. The was no real resolution to her character onscreen, Michael guy wasn’t so bad after all. Well, maybe Grendl didn’t want to find himself penning anything that could remotely be called a “Romcom” and so avoided having a happy ending onscreen. But what is the point of formulating characters that we’re supposed to care about if you end up giving them short shrift in the end? I would have liked to have seen something hopeful regarding Katelyn.
    As for the rest of the story, perhaps it just needs a little more oomph. Maybe the producer (Warren) and the actress (forgot her name) really should be married and not have ulterior motives. Maybe Warren is a billionaire hotelier who comes to Dephi to think about building a brand new 5 star resort, but needs to be convinced there really is a monster before he commits funding to the project. Have more than just Liam and Jerry involved in the scam, get some of your other old codgers trying to fake the monster, only their a little inept, and perhaps Jerry is working to sabotage the fakery because he’s worried a new hotel would put his little shambled place out of business. Michael can still be a documentary producer who simply wants the truth and he could end up being a thorn in Liam’s side as well. This could lead Liam to actually push Katelyn towards Michael in an effort to distract Michael from uncovering their fake Nessie. Which could lead to Katelyn becoming suspicious as to why her father suddenly wants to improve her love life. I thought Grendl handled the comedic aspects of the script fairly well (dialogue wise), but their is room for some physical humor with the fake Nessie and boats and cold water and drunkenness and what-have-you. Just a thought….or two or three. Anyway, for me I also give Real Monsters a “worth the read” but with definite room for improvement. Thanks for sharing your script.

    • Citizen M

      p. 108 – JERRY: My real wife is… should be WARREN (CONT’D)

      I wasn’t clear on why Warren needed to pose as a tourist with his fake wife Sondra, or whether Michael was clearly associated with the Larkspur project. We meet the trucks of the Larkspur project passing through Delphi on p. 9, but we don’t know where they go to. If they go to the castle, have an establishing shot where the trucks are parked outside the castle, and let us see Larkspur staff at the castle. If they go somewhere else, what is Michael doing all by himself in the castle with only a butler?

      Maybe we also need to see how they get from the castle to the boat. I must say the geography and the Americans’ backstory weren’t clear to me so I rather skimmed over them. If I were in a more critical mood I’d make a fuss about it.

  • Malibo Jackk
    • Citizen M

      aka 50 Shades of Grendl

      In a sea full of danger, passions run deep.

      “He slid his hand up the small of her back, feeling the tension along her spine under his splayed fingers. With his other hand he combed through the hair near her temple feeling the heat of her scalp and the silky coolness of the strands spill over his fingers like silk.

      “Her tongue glided against his, hot and sensual. His body responded, but he tamped it down. This was all about Teal. All about just one glorious, sensual kiss.

      “Her shaky sigh rasped his nerve endings, but he didn’t exert any more pressure, didn’t delve any deeper, not until Teal pressed closer, tilting her head back and opening her mouth to hint He felt the rapid, manic beat of her heart against his chest as she kissed him back, her palm on his chest.”

      Whew! *fans self*

      • Malibo Jackk

        Pure grendl.

  • peisley

    I pretty much agree with Carson and don’t know if I can add much more. A good grasp of atmosphere and character and he definitely cares about things working right, but the story kind of fizzes out. It’s that old phrase about raising the stakes. I don’t think there’s enough dramatic fire. Setting it in Ireland is a hard sell, at least in the States, but he’s probably well aware of that. I sense Grendl’s holding back. Which is why everybody’s so surprised it wasn’t more in-your-face. He’s got the goods, but needs a more intriguing concept. Don’t we all? Anything else in your cave, Grendl? Definitely would like to read something more.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Just disappointed in you, g, for writing something so boring.

  • Citizen M

    start off at the castle maybe with a group of mythbusters watching Liams’ footage of a monster, commenting along with his VO

    That’s not a bad idea. Have the film crew split into an A team and a B (black ops) team. The friendly A team to get decent footage of the monster for the TV program. The secretive B team to launch an artificial monster, unknown to the A team and the villagers.

  • humwawa

    B.S.

  • klmn

    I haven’t read the novel or the script, but I did enjoy the movie.

  • BSBurton

    I’m the same way as far as sharing work (we invest so much time in these babies, why let them and risk elements being stolen?). I assume you’re living in California?

    How long have you been writing Salem? I’m looking to sign with a couple agents right now but I’m doing it all long distance because of the business I’m running.

    Oh, did you have a translator for negotiations?