Welcome to the 1st edition of “Comments of the Week” on Scriptshadow. This is where I turn it over to you guys, the readers of the site, to do my job for me! “Best Comments” will not be a weekly thing, but rather something that pops up every now and then. If you want to be included, offer a strong take on an interesting topic. You guys often say things way more profound than me, so it’s only natural that we share these comments with the masses.

We’ll start with a great exchange after my review of the TV Pilot, Rush, courtesy and Gyad and Larry.

I have to say I’m getting burnt out on morally dubious protagonists. Sure, as script readers the “edgy” character appeals to our jaded palates but there have been so many of late that seeing a morally upstanding hero in a (non-network) series is becoming unusual.

This is a good point. I’ve been telling people that this kind of character is the way to go when writing a television series. But are we becoming so inundated with them that they’re losing their luster? Either way, I liked what commenter Larry had to say about it…

Agreed. What makes shows like Breaking Bad or Walking Dead awesome is that people do bad things but for GOOD/honorable reasons. This Rush guy seems just to be out to make some cash.

I hadn’t thought of that it that way but it makes sense. Morally ambiguous or not, we like these characters better if they’re doing these bad things for good reasons. Though it should be noted that Walter White stops doing what he does for good reasons in the final two seasons. Then again, because we took that long journey with him, we still wanted to see him succeed, or maybe come back from the edge.

This leads us to our next observation from Adam Parker, a response to my review of The Martian. The discussion had to do with Mark Whatney being a flat character and did we care about his journey enough to stick around for the whole ordeal?  Some commenters said we did because Mark’ life was on the line. To which Adam responded…

The main conflict (or narrative question) can NEVER be “Will the Main Character survive?” the answer is always YES.

While Adam’s statement isn’t true in all respects, the point he makes is a good one. 99% of the time, the main character will survive. So it isn’t enough to ONLY hinge your movie on that question. Instead, you should try and ask a deeper question. Like with Gravity (as some other commenters brought up), the question wasn’t only “Will she survive?” it was “Did she want to survive?” She’d lost her daughter and she was struggling with whether life was worth living. You’re always trying to find that deeper question to explore to give your story that added layer of depth.

Moving on to something way bigger in scope is the question of, what the hell is going on with the spec market? I honestly think Transcendence really fucked us. That was going to be the one original property that had a chance to stand up against these monster IPs. When it tanked, it scared the crap out of everyone. I still think the spec market will come back, but let’s not forget that there are new options being presented to writers. You have the ability to write something and publish it within 30 minutes on Amazon. That’s huge. Here’s Logline Villain’s thoughts on the matter…

Instead of adapting another’s book, one might consider writing his/her own book and then holding firm on scribing the adaption (e.g., Gillian Flynn – “Gone Girl”). Granted, the work has to be scooped up first, but that is always the requisite for breaking through in any writing platform.

Has it reached a point where penning a novel may be the aspiring screenwriter’s best opportunity to break through with ORIGINAL material? With self-publishing, the ‘net and Amazon, there are more avenues than ever to promote one’s novel – it worked out swimmingly in the case of today’s featured “The Martian“…

I suspect a market correction will come one day – where spec scripts are again in vogue – but is it worth crossing one’s fingers until then? I know, if it’s the next Chinatown, it will sell as a spec…

In the meantime, what’s more important? The end result or how one gets to the end result…

The egg must figure out a way to become a chicken. And the lion’s share of these adaptations are going to established chickens…

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

But before you close Final Draft forever, heed PmLove’s response…

I remain unconvinced. We can spend our lives chasing our tails over a breakout novel or script, either way it’s still tough to be the goose that lays the golden egg. There are so many $0.99 self-published books it’s hard to see the wood for the trees – I’d want more compelling evidence to say that self-publishing a novel is more likely to lead to a screenwriting breakout for original ideas. I’d say you might be barking up the wrong tree.

A great point. The grass is always greener on the other side. I’m sure there are writers over on NovelShadow saying the same thing. “There are so many books out these days, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. I should just go to Hollywood and write a screenplay. All the movies there suck. I know I could do better than them.”

We’re going to finish with a couple of thoughts from Nicholas J, who always seems to have well-thought-out takes on the days’ article. The first is a reminder of the importance of concept, which is easy to forget.

I think there’s a very good argument to be made that concept trumps all. Given the choice between a great script with a ‘meh’ concept and an average script with a great concept, I have to think the majority of people who make movies will take the high concept. You can improve the execution of a great concept, but you can’t really infuse a great concept into a script that doesn’t have one.

That last sentence is the golden nugget. I was just dealing with this recently with a writer. We were doing everything in our power to give his logline more kick. But the reality was, his story wasn’t unique enough to create a compelling logline. That’s not to say the script won’t be great, it just makes things harder for him since he’ll get less script reads. This is why I tell people, if you have a choice, give us a hook in your concept, something you can write a logline around. Because once you dedicate yourself to something and the months (or years) go by, you’re less inclined to give up on it, even if you know your concept is weak. You have too much invested to move on. All of that could’ve been avoided with a simple two-minute decision at the beginning of the process: “Is this a good concept?”

And here’s Nicholas’s negative take on last Thursday’s article about “Exceptional Elements.”

It’s not that the average writers have accepted mediocrity, it’s that they are average writers.

That’s kind of like saying a college quarterback that never reaches the NFL is worse than Peyton Manning because he’s accepted mediocrity. Sure, Manning worked hard to get where he is, but so did the other guy. Manning just has the better combination of skills necessary to succeed. Manning is just better.

It’s the same thing with writing. There’s a reason that a microscopic percentage of aspiring screenwriters find worthwhile success. Writing something great takes an exceptional combination of unnatural skills. But the most important skill to have is creativity.

Creativity can’t be learned. Have you ever played a board game like Balderdash or one where you write photo captions? Some people, no matter how hard they try, are never able to come up with something good. Their minds just don’t work that way. Chances are their minds are better suited for something else like mathematics or memorization. I have a friend who is a genius when it comes to how things work. He’ll take one look at an HVAC system, tell you what makes it inefficient, and what possibly could be done to improve it. (Though I have no idea if he’s right or not since I don’t understand a word of it.) But ask him to look at a photo and come up with a funny caption and his brain short circuits.

This is what results so often in those average scripts. It doesn’t take a creative mind to love movies. And it doesn’t take a creative mind to love writing. So a lot of people attempt to write movies despite not having an ounce of creativity. This is why you see so many knockoffs in the amateur pile.

The writer loves mafia movies so they think, “I’m going to write a mafia movie!” They sit down to write and think of all the mafia movies that they love. They pull elements from each, whether consciously or not, and end up writing a paint-by-numbers version of Goodfellas. They’ve failed to put any actual creativity into it, and yet they don’t even realize it.

On the other end, you have those crazy scripts that don’t make a lick of sense. I mean, it’s great that you came up with a movie idea about a dog that goes to shark heaven, but that idea is fucking stupid. You see this a lot with amateur scripts where the writer throws crazy elements at the page, thinking it makes their script original and awesome, but it just ends up as a confusing mess to everybody that isn’t the writer. This is a result of the writer forcing creativity when they have none, or having a lot of creativity but not knowing how to harness it into something sensible.

So not only do you have to be creative, but you have to find the right balance of your creativity. You have to know how to fit it into a genre, or at least something that people will understand and want to see. You have to know how to dial it back and amp it up when necessary. You have to give it structure.

And I’m sure there are plenty of pro writers out there that don’t have much creativity either. But chances are they won’t continue to be successful for long, and may find other opportunities in the business that suit them better. And once you’re in the business, as we all know, you don’t have to write the next ETERNAL SUNSHINE to make a sale. But if you’re still looking to break in, you better be on your A-game, and your A-game better come with a rollercoaster of balanced creativity. Nobody breaks in with paint-by-numbers Mafia Movie #253.

Or, you could know somebody important. That works too.

What do you guys think? Do you agree with Nicholas? This comment led to others asking, “How do you know if you’re exceptional or not?” Doesn’t everyone think they’re exceptional? Isn’t that why so many bad scripts get submitted everywhere? I guess by breaking things down into manageable chunks, I was hoping it would be easier for writers to see what their strengths and weaknesses were. But if you’re new to the craft, it’s hard to have any reference for what “exceptional” is. You don’t know what you don’t know.  So I’ll leave it up to you guys. How does one know if their work is any good outside of the obvious (impartial feedback)? If you give us a good answer, you might find yourself featured on the next “Comments of the Week!”

  • bookfan

    Carson said, “It feels like this huge collective of screenwriters has accepted mediocrity.”

    As we see above, a commenter had to set him straight: “It’s not that the average writers have accepted mediocrity, it’s that they are average writers.”

    Carson, I’m glad you’re highlighting someone explaining this point to you, but man. You’ve been doing this forever, yet you always seem to get so much wrong. You often have to have commenters explain very simple things about writing to you, or point out plot holes you missed, and you make assumptions all the time that are so off the wall about what a writer thought he was doing or was trying to do.

    “It feels like this huge collective of screenwriters has accepted mediocrity.”

    It feels like you’ve run out of steam with the site.

    • Guest

      Your very first comment was to criticize Miss SS’s work.
      Your second comment assails Carson and the site in general.
      So this “bookfan” profile is solely for the purpose of propaganda. I don’t think, and neither should you, that anyone will take you seriously.

      • bookfan

        Many of us are not happy with the site. That’s not a shock to Carson. Have you been on Twitter? The vast majority of people over there do not like Carson one bit. I’ve been a supporter and a detractor, but lately, his act is wearing thin.

        As for Miss SS, if you’re putting yourself out there in a public forum, you’re going to have to take some criticism. I don’t think any of it was out of bounds. There are plenty of commenters in these threads who agree that her take on the material was not up to par. Thankfully, I believe they have a posting history that would satisfy whatever your pre-requisites for a valid opinion might be.

        • astranger2

          As for Miss SS, I believe she issued an unwarranted apology… and took her share of criticism well… not that it was valid, regardless… who are you???

          • bookfan

            I’m a new commenter. Nice to meet you.

          • astranger2

            If you sincerely mean that, nice to meet you… but your only having posted three times, all viciously attacking Carson and the lovely Miss SS… makes you seem like a scumbag troll… if I am mistaken, I apologize…

          • bookfan

            As I say below, how can one construe any of this as as “vitriol” or “viciously attacking”? Again, Carson has not endeared himself to anyone in the film business except for a few managers and agents. Many others speak out about him, and quite intensely, too.

            “The lovely Miss SS”? “Scumbag troll”? First, you sound like you’re from the 1940’s, and second, this is Scriptshadow we’re on. If I said he belongs in prison, that would be tame compared to what respected people say about him every day.

            Regardless, it is nice to meet you.

          • astranger2

            “Sound like I’m from the 1940s?” Wish I, and others, had that style of class… although your comments warranted the “seems” like a scumbag troll remark… I don’t usually like to wallow in the sandbox with ad hominem insults. You can find someone else to sling mud with… you have a good day…

          • BSBurton

            why the 40’s? You must like midnight in paris then? :)

          • astranger2

            BS, do you only read the last post, and not the preceding ones that actually make sense of the following remarks? As I often do that myself, I guess I can’t point fingers…

            Regardless, good to see your sideways profile here as always…

            These wart-ridden trolls… are… tiring… and infinitely insipid…

            Nice to see your Paul Giamatti profile once again… ; v )

          • BSBurton

            I like the sideways picture reference lol. And I read as much as I can :)

          • Casper Chris

            Oh come on, the “let’s all hate Carson” shtick is so yesteryear.

            Carson has changed the approach of the site a lot based on the criticism he received from the professional screenwriting community. He’s not doing anything illegal and I feel the current iteration of Scriptshadow is a nice compromise between making the world of professional screenwriting more accessible to amateur writers and respecting the work of the pros. I’d imagine some pros just can’t let it go though. Besides, they’re probably not interested in their little niche world becoming more transparent and accessible. Why? They don’t want more competition.

            If you’re on the outside like many of us, why would you side with that kind of mentality? Hell, should I ever become an insider (a professional screenwriter), my stance on this won’t change. I’ll remember how it was to be an outsider and I’ll remember how much I learned about the craft, how much inspiration and motivation and insight was gained, from my days spent on Scriptshadow.

            Scriptshadow is essentially to the world of screenwriting what film critics are to the world of filmmaking (and then again, Scriptshadow has diversified and compromised quite a bit). I’m sure there’s filmmakers who hate certain critics too because they received a bad review which went on to adversely affect their box office etc.

            So yea, of course Carson has “haters” on Twitter and elsewhere. Don’t be a fucking parrot.

          • bookfan

            The guy posts people’s scripts every day, without permission. He says impossibly stupid things about their writing, and what’s supposedly not working. And if he’s a great film critic, why does he hate on many shows that people and critics adore? It goes well beyond True Detective.

            That said, if you’re learning from him, that’s great. I applaud you for getting the most out of this site that you can. There are tons of positives here. I start with that assumption.

          • Casper Chris

            Actually he doesn’t. He doesn’t share their scripts. The only scripts he shares are the amateur ones, those submitted to the site.

          • BSBurton

            Lol, welcome to the battlefield

        • Guest

          The point was you created a profile for the sole purpose of propaganda, going form article to article ONLY to criticize.
          That’s why your posting history was mentioned.
          It looks like you created the profile with an agenda.
          And nothing you said above defends that…
          In fact it supports the notion that you’re a poster boy for dissatisfied readers

    • astranger2

      I’m not sure what purpose this vitriol has? But as with any product, if you don’t like it, quit buying…

      • bookfan

        Vitriol? You know where you are, right? My comments are quite tame compared to some of the things Carson says or alleges about writers. There is a reason why people speak out against him every single day.

      • Randy Williams

        Scriptshadow is a product, like any brand.

        Good brands have a story. Coke is all about spreading worldwide cheer. Apple’s is an exclusive right to creative technology. “James Cameron” is about creating new technology to enhance story telling.

        I haven’t read any of Carson’s scripts, but as a brand maker, he’s one hell of a story teller.

    • Awescillot

      It’s still just one man’s opinion, on his own website, explaining things in his own way, highlighting the things he personally finds important.

      Sure, one man can’t always be right. But I think that’s inherent to the craft everyone’s studying and practicing here. A creative art form and its interpretation are always subjective, and that’s no less the case here. I mean, take something a newbie would expect there to be a consensus about, like a script format (at least I thought that would be pretty much the case when I started reading). People here are able to argue about what works and what doesn’t, day and night.

      The guy isn’t here to write an objective essay each day, summarizing the state of play on a subject in an academic way. He throws out his own opinion in the comment pool, and naturally, people are going to bite. The concept behind today’s article highlights just that. If Carson would consider his articles as the way these things should be interpreted, he would only post the comments that agree with him.

      In any case, strong opinions are what drives this site, in my opinion. Both from Carson and from the commenters.

      If you take everything what Carson writes to be true, or simply take everything he writes as the be-all-end-all of screenwriting, you can pretty much post that reply of yours underneath every single article posted on this site.

      You can’t expect to learn half there is to be learned, just by focussing on Carson’s assumptions. In many cases, they jumpstart a discussion on a subject matter by the commenters here, which is where the added value of this site lies. The intereraction between those two don’t lead to the one true answer to the question being posed, but sheds light on all the different perspectives of that subject matter. Screenwriting is adapting, as you have many things to take into consideration. No one here can tell you how to exactly reach your goal, but they can point you into a certain direction that will be more suitable to reach your goal, depending on what you’re trying to achieve in whatever genre etc.

      So would I personally want Carson to be right all the time? – Ahw hell no. I wouldn’t know if he’d be wrong or right anyway, because screenwriting isn’t an exact science. Let him be ‘wrong’, because if enough people think he is, the more valuable the discussion becomes. The day Carson writes “Jaws sucks, as well as Star Wars, for this and that reason.” is the day you’ll have a field day in the comment section.

      If you’re just stating that he’s run out of steam because people successfully rebut certain statements he made, you’re kind of missing the point, in my opinion.

      • bookfan

        The conversation around the posts and strong opinions drive this site, I completely agree with you. I agree that Carson is one man, and has his opinions.

        “It feels like this huge collective of screenwriters has accepted mediocrity.”

        I posted this because lately, Carson’s been saying a lot of really questionable things that have me scratching my head. When Carson wrote all of his scripts, was he accepting mediocrity, or was he just a bad writer? Carson should know this about the “huge collective,” even if he didn’t know it about himself.

        • Awescillot

          I haven’t read any of Carson’s scripts, but I do remember him stating on occasion that ‘back in the day’, he used to make a lot of mistakes in his writing. Whether he was just a bad writer or accepting mediocrity is something he can only determine by looking back with the knowledge he has now, doing so from a different perspective. But that’s besides the point.

          I can understand why a first impulse would be to say something like “Well, you weren’t such a succesful writer yourself, so who are you to say something like that?”, but I wouldn’t consider that a valid argument. I don’t believe the ability to write a decent script is a prerequisite to analyze a script, or the script market, for that matter. Just because he wouldn’t be considered a ‘good writer’, doesn’t mean he’s out of place to make such general assumptions, as it says nothing about his capibility to analyze scripts or the market in general.

          I can see why you’d scratch your head when you read an assumption like that, though. But if his statement is about trends in the script market, it’s better to counter him by coming forward with something else that characterizes the market at the moment.

          • bookfan

            Not what I was saying at all, and I was quite clear in my explanation. You missed what I was saying the first time as well.

            Carson’s assumption was that writers have accepted mediocrity, and that’s why they don’t find more success. I’m simply saying, when Carson himself wrote, was he accepting mediocrity, or did he simply not have writing ability? He should know that about himself — that he wasn’t accepting mediocrity — if he can’t tell that in general about writers. And he should know that about writers, that they’re giving it their all, even if he weren’t a script guy. It’s just common sense.

            You keep thinking I’m making this very basic points. People covered the “What do you know, Carson??!!” angle a long time ago. I’m asking how an “insightful” guy actually think that writers are accepting mediocrity. One of his commenters pointed out how that quote makes no sense, and Carson highlighted that person’s logic. But that logic should have been common sense before Carson ever started this site. You guys think he makes all these insights, but I have to disagree. I think he says a lot of things that people having been taking issue with lately.

          • Awescillot

            I guess it’s unclear to me what you’re actually trying to get across here.

            ” He should know that about himself — that he wasn’t accepting mediocrity — if he can’t tell that in general about writers. And he should know that about writers, that they’re giving it their all, even if he weren’t a script guy. It’s just common sense. ”

            I’m sorry, this is just confusing.

            I’m glad you’re able to get this off your chest though. One guest voter seems to agree with you, so you have that going for you.

          • bookfan

            It was a little confusing. Simply stated, he believes that writer’s are accepting mediocrity, and that’s why their scripts aren’t good. I think that anyone with common sense would know that writers aren’t accepting mediocrity, they’re just not that good.

            From there, I’m saying that Carson, having admittedly written a serious of bad scripts, should know from his own experience that he wasn’t settling, he just wasn’t writing well enough. And this isn’t an isolated incident. He puts forth theories about what P.T. Anderson was thinking, how Rian Johnson has plot holes in Looper, and both his personal attacks and egregious mistakes have been called out time and time again.

            As for your snark…only one guest voter agrees with me? There are several writers, producers, managers who take more issue with Carson on a daily basis. They curse him out, make fun of him, go after his personal life…this is quite tame by comparison.

          • Awescillot

            Well that does clarify what you posted earlier on. In any case, it’s open to discussion. Irregardless of what Carson says, you might have writers who ‘have what it takes’ but just don’t put in the effort, and on the other hand have writers who simply don’t have what it takes, and can’t pull it off however hard they try. Not trying to prove a point here, but whether you say it or Carson does, stating that something is a trend (or common sense, in your case), is a bold statement that naturally attracts criticism.

            The snark wasn’t intended as ungrounded sneer. I just thought it was a bit funny that you posted here that a lot of people think likewise, but you were only backed by an anonymous upvote.

            Alright, now everyone keep calm and watch the world cup.

          • bookfan

            Thanks for trying to see my point, even if you do or don’t agree with it. That’s all I can ask.

            I thought the snark was unfair, given that we’re on the SS site itself — people are going to be supportive of Carson. I didn’t think it was baseless to say that other share my views. There are more people that think Carson’s views on screenwriting are worthless and dangerous. I don’t agree with that at all.

            But we can both agree to enjoy the games.

          • ripleyy

            Well Blake Snyder was a masterful screenwriting guru but his screenplays were awful (“Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot”? “Black Check”!?) so I think what you’re saying about Carson being a “bad writer” is irrelevant. You can be a great art critic, but you might be a horrible painter.

            “And he should know that about writers, that they’re giving it their all,
            even if he weren’t a script guy. It’s just common sense.”

            Carson, as a critic, knows that everyone who comes onto this site and submit their work is doing their best – it’s the whole point of “Amateur Friday”. It’s a way for writers to submit their own work, and for Carson to give feedback and say what is right and what is wrong. If something isn’t up to standard, or the best the writer can do, he’ll say, so I’m a little confused myself on what you’re trying to get across with that comment?

          • bookfan

            You’re comparing Blake Synder to Carson?

          • thedudespeaketh

            You guys? You guys?? You guys??? You should stop writing about what other people might or might not be thinking just to prove your point when it comes to Scriptshadow. I’m sure you know that behavior is often found in grade school. It’s synonymous with name dropping and is frowned upon on most parts of the planet.

            I have no problem with you disagreeing with Carson. I have a problem with you disagreeing and suddenly you suspect that everything he has ever said on the craft of screenwriting should be thrown out. Please tell me that this is not the case. Because it sure smells like it.

            I just can’t get my head around the fact that when I was a little boy and I pissed on the toilet seat for the very first time, there could have been a slight possibility that my father, who was a stern and forbidding old man, could have dismissed the gazillion times I had aimed straight. But even he knew how many times I had left the bathroom pristine and dirt free. Not for a second did he entertain the thought of committing me to pissing in the freezing basement for the rest of my childhood.

    • ChadStuart

      At the bottom of every review Carson includes a “What I learned” section. He’s admitting that, like us, he’s still learning the craft. I don’t think he ever pretends to know all the answers.

    • Nicholas J

      I made the comment not because I disagreed necessarily, but because I felt like Carson was missing the reason for what he was seeing.

      This is like when people make fun of sports commentators for saying something stupid — YOU try talking for three hours straight about a baseball game a hundred times a year, I guarantee you’ll say some stupid, incorrect, or just plain weird things.

      Carson puts his opinion out there five days a week year round and rarely misses posts. That’s a lot of wordage. I’m amazed that he doesn’t say stupid things more often.

      • Jarman Alexander

        “If you’re a person who says things, eventually one of those things will be stupid.” — Anyone realistic

      • carsonreeves1

        I contend that my stupid to non-stupid ratio is 37-63%. :)

        • Nicholas J

          Well that’s an F, but if we grade on a curve I’d say it’s more like a B-.

  • peisley

    I’m reconsidering following this site after the latest posting of Grendl’s work. Not for the quality of his work, which I haven’t read, but the fact that apparently many have tried to get a review and haven’t, while Grendl has succeeded in getting more than one. I suppose it could be considered winning by intimidation, which I’m not begrudging Grendl for, but it does make me wonder where Carson is coming from.

    • bookfan

      I’ve been critical of Carson below, but let me defend him here. Grendl has a lot of good things to say, so people probably want to know what he’s working on.

      The bad review must have been hard for him to read, but a lot of people liked it, so I hope he looks on the bright side. I’m sure he won’t be reviewed again for a long time. I also understand your frustration, but I see why Carson would pick it.

      What’s your script about?

    • leitskev

      Grendl contributes. He can be a little out there, but he’s never dull and his points are usually interesting and occasionally spot on. Nothing wrong with rewarding people who contribute on that level.

      • ripleyy

        He’s quite an intelligent individual and knows more about screenwriting than most amateurs, even if he, himself, has his faults. If you’re good like Grendl, or if you make good enough points on a daily basis, you can easily bypass AF.

      • Randy Williams

        I like it too, well, it seems to me, don’t know for sure, that Grendl’s scripts are not being “developed” elsewhere, with other forum members giving notes, mentors pushing it along, languishing for years on hosting sites. If they’re not completely fresh, he seems like the kind of writer who would be always tinkering with them, like “Tow” does have a new beginning.

    • Casper Chris

      People, the quicker you learn that this screenwriting gig is at least 50% marketing, the better. Grendl just gave you a valuable lesson: Find a way to stand out. Hell, bad publicity is often better than none.

      Also, again, Grendl has received 2 reviews (different scripts) in four years of actively participating in this community. During that time, he’s established himself as someone who knows a lot about the craft and as someone who can definitely write. So when you pick out a Grendl script, you know it’s at least going to be interesting, potentially great. That’s branding 101 ladies and gentlemen.

      Besides, feel free to post your scripts in the comment section. That’s what Bifferspice did and it got him a Carson review soon after based on the favorable reactions of other commenters.

    • Citizen M

      The record holder for number of scripts on AOW or reviewed is probably Patrick Connelly with four. He got the exposure from quality of writing, not quantity of commenting.

    • thedudespeaketh

      This post reminded me of the time I was considering Patty Montalban, a dark long-haired girl back in seventh grade. She wasn’t attractive or anything, kind of spooky looking, but she always smelled like violet candy, those purple little square things. God, how I often dreamed how she and I would become one. I mean, I did everything for her, lied, decoyed, homework. You name it. I did it. I gave that little girl all my money. It wasn’t much. Just a few bucks from a paper route I had. But I had bigger plans, looking toward to the future when Patty and I would be married and I’d come home and give her my whole paycheck, you know, that type of shit.

      Oh, yeah, she was suppose to be my zenith. Life was fair. That was until Tommy Davenport came to our school. He was a loser times ten, an absolute zero. The kid was known for sleeping in his seat, his bushy read hair all over the desk. He was freckled-face and funny looking and he couldn’t speak two words together without sounding like a grumbling Neanderthal.

      Unfortunately, for me it only took one word. One word and he destroyed my life. Matter-of-fact, it wasn’t even a fucking word. And I’ll never forget the moment. Patty was passing out papers and came upon his desk. I could see as clear as day, his usual grade, a big fat red F. He looks up at Patty and grunted, “Yo!”
      One goddamn word and he put a sparkle in her eye as big as sunshine. I was heart-broken, crushed, and forgotten.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that Grendl is akin to little Tommy Davenport. When it comes to getting your screenplay read, the procedure “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” does not apply. Neither does fairness.

  • leitskev

    I like the idea. All kinds of material to be tapped for new discussion.

  • JakeBarnes12

    We may need to be exceptional writers, but asking ourselves if we’re exceptional is the wrong question.

    For all of us on a mainstream Hollywood script review site, the crucial question is am I capable of writing a screen story that Hollywood will buy?

    That’s it. That’s the goal.

    And there is only one real way to gauge that.

    How many meetings have you been to?

    That’s it.

    When they call you in for a meeting, that’s when they’re actually interested in you as a writer in general and/or your script in particular.

    That’s where you’re going to sell and pitch other ideas and that’s what you need to be doing to have a career as a professional screenwriter.

    If you’ve been doing this for a number of years, written and sent out a number of scripts, and you haven’t had meetings, you need to seriously ask yourself if you really have A) the commercial ideas and B) the execution skills to attract serious Hollywood attention.

    That’s the thing I love about this game. It’s the great equalizer. They don’t care who you are, where you’re from, or what you’ve done, long as you show up with a story that they think will make them money.

    • Bifferspice

      what about “how many of your screen stories have hollywood bought?” wouldn’t that be another way?

      • JakeBarnes12

        I’m talking to everyone here like me and you who hasn’t sold anything.

        • Casper Chris

          Or an Academy Award.

          • JakeBarnes12


    • Randy Williams

      We have a new member of our screenwriting group. Old guy who wrote for TV in the 70’s. He had no intention of being a writer, he was a doctor, but was invited to a party of mostly writers in New York. They assumed he was a writer, but then he told them, no I’m a doctor. Then you have to write the doctor scenes in our soap opera, they said.
      The rest was history.

      If you’re in the room, and have the goods, you’re in.

      • JakeBarnes12


  • bookfan

    My ethics? You’re on Scriptshadow. The place that has been condemned by countless respected voices for a lack of any ethics at all.

    Also, your posts are all over the place. Unfounded accusations and odd word choices, you’re patronizing towards women, now these strange Bible references…

    • Matthew Garry

      As far as I’m concerned you’re more than welcome to voice any opinion, negative or positive, but please lay off the weasel wording (“many of us”,”anyone in the business”,”people”,”many others”,”countless respected voices”).

      If you want to make an argument either way, construct one; don’t just conjure up some interpretation of what unverifiable people may or may not be thinking.

      • Guest

        I’ll hijack “don’t just conjure up some interpretation of what unverifiable people may or may not be thinking.”

        Like some poster boy

      • bookfan

        You guys are blind by your devotion to Carson. It’s obvious because you use words like “weasel” and “ethics,” yet ignore the fact that we’re talking about Scriptshadow here. You don’t need to look far to find “many of us”, “anyone in the business”, “countless respected voices”, etc. This stuff is common knowledge at this point.

    • Altius

      bookfan, YOU’RE on Scriptshadow. What are you doing here?

  • SinclareRose

    Always a critic….
    I guess if you want to start your own blog, because you can do better, of course, no one’s stopping you.

  • Scott Chamberlain

    “But if you’re new to the craft, it’s hard to have any reference for what “exceptional” is. You don’t know what you don’t know. So I’ll leave it up to you guys. How does one know if their work is any good outside of the obvious (impartial feedback)?”

    The paradox of incompetence – the traits that make you competent are the same that allow you to identify competence. And we’re all (mostly all) biased in favour of our own competence.

    This is why sites like this (and Triggerstreet, my initial haunt) are important. Exposure to others’ work – the good and the bad, the pro and the amateur – is a great way to get a reference point. It’s hard to grow without opening your work to criticism, or exposing yourself to what others are producing. When I lectured and marked student papers, those who complained most bitterly about their mark were simply unaware of how poorly their work stacked up against the fellow classmates.

    One thing that makes this blog (in)valuable is the sheer amount of scripts Carson has read. (‘Course it was more valuable back in the day when Carson review unmade industry scripts… ) Any systematic attempt to evaluate and explain what works and why from such a mountain of slush has merit. It’s easy to break in with a mediocre script. It is surprisingly difficult to write even a mediocre script.

    Screenwriting is, and will probably remain, the hardest thing I have ever tried.

    • Ange Neale

      Screenwriting makes Middle East peace process diplomacy seem like a cinch.

  • Dale T

    Wanted to comment on the self publishing aspect of the article since I’m a self publisher myself (here’s my opportunity to shamelessly promote my lone book out on the market, The Root of Writer’s Block, check me out).

    Self publishing isn’t about hoping to be The Hunger Games, it’s about being the next Stephen King. It’s actually no different than regular publishing and people are starting to realize and respect self publishing more and more. When people are out at Barnes and Nobles searching through books they aren’t looking at the titles, they’re looking at the authors and then the titles.

    Same thing with self publishing. And pretty much every writer related job.

    You can’t expect to publish something on the merit of its quality by itself, you’ll have to build your brand up like it’s a business. Most self published authors usually don’t take off until their fourth book.

    If you guys want to take self publishing seriously you’ll have to treat it like it’s a serious competitive market, because it is.

    By the way, NEVER sell your book for .99 cents. All you’re telling people is “my book is worth this much in quality.”

    • leitskev

      Thanks, Dale. I’d welcome any more advice you have on self publishing. Are you sure about the .99 point? I’ve been scanning through Amazon for a couple months, and buyers seem willing to try out a new writer at .99 if the concept grabs them. I think you’re right that you need more than one book. To me, a 400 page book selling at .99 seems to not work, because it does indeed send the wrong message. Likewise, those 10 page stories for .99 seem like bad value. But books like Wool that are short and .99, like 50 pages, people seem willing to try. If enough people try it and leave a good comment it has a chance to build momentum. Any other advice for a nuub like me?

      • Dale T

        It’s acceptable in two cases, short stories, and if it’s an old story from the author and he’s trying to expand his fanbase. Still, I’d place it at 1.49 at the least. There’s a negative connotation that’s been built around seeing a book that’s priced at .99 cents. Our very first thought when seeing that is that it’s cheap and there’s a reason for it, no matter if the concept is grabbing and/or the author is established already.

        Might as well make a little more money out of it.

  • Casper Chris

    Yea, indeed. But if Carson was serious about “making a short film”, maybe he’s become entrenched in that. I can’t imagine making a serious short film while at the same time maintaining the level of blogging that Carson does on a consistent basis. Just the idea is exhausting to me (having made a short film myself).

  • Stephjones

    Sites like this can become a dumping ground for frustration and disappointed hopes. The thing that elevates Scriptshadow, in my limited experience, is that the site’s creator is very present and active. Even Miss SS took a turn in the barrel on the site’s behalf. That matters.
    I’ve only been screenwriting 4 years. My first screenwriting site was TriggerStreet. That place was like family and I made valued connections( friends) and learned the basics. I still haunt the place but it’s lost it’s shimmer for me because the admin seems to have abandoned the site. It now seems to just limp along although it’s still a place you can get some feedback on a new script and, as Scott says, read the works ( good and bad) of others.
    But all of these sites have a natural ebb and flow. Members come and go, based on need and interest. Some of the topics discussed seem to endlessly recycle but the main value of this place is to connect with like minded folks and discuss the shit til the cows come home. That’s the fun part. If it degenerates into mostly pissing matches and flame wars the negativity will outweigh any positive aspects and the site will become popular for it’s train wreck value and the talent will move on, because who needs extra drama in their life?
    There’s no particular reason for my post. Just waiting for my morning dump before me and my vagina go about our normal business of the day.

    • ArabyChic

      Keeping regular is very important.

  • Logic Ninja

    Re: knowing whether you’re exceptional.
    Unfortunately, it’s gonna take a little work to know whether any of us has really got the chops. Sure, Mom told each of us we were a unique snowflake; sure, she fawned over every half-baked book report our pens could produce. And sure, we were better writers than the other kids in high school or college. But our status as nazi-killers is still amateur. And a little sweat is generally required to go pro.

    Imagine you’re Peyton Manning. But you’re Peyton Manning in middle school, and you happen to be an overweight, out-of-shape couch potato. In order to know whether a pro footballer lies within that flabby, pubescent frame, you’ll have to work. You’ll have to put in the time, and that time is gonna be YEARS.

    Likewise, if you’re a screenwriter, you’ll have to write three or four scripts before you have a CHANCE of churning out something good. You’ll have to read hundreds of scripts written by amateurs and pros alike. You’ll have to buy a couple books on writing and dissect them. And–by the way–after putting in all this work, you might still suck.

    But you’ll have to learn not to give a shit.

    Then, after putting in the work, how do you look yourself in the mirror and know whether you have become Peyton Manning?

    Well, here are a few gentle guidelines:

    1. Have you developed any weird theories about why nobody in Hollywood is doing anything right? Do you intend to shake up the system with your first spec? Go sell shoes.

    2. Are there typos or grammar errors in your first page? Get a copy editor or go sell shoes.

    3. Have you received any positive, professional feedback on your work? If not, go sell shoes.

    4. Does your latest script contain elements of irony, including at least one ironic situation which is set up in the first act, and doesn’t pay off till the end? If not, you aren’t necessarily consigned to the shoe sales department. But you need to bonk yourself on the head with a hammer a couple of times. And then write the next one better.

    5. Does your latest script contain set-ups and payoffs? If not, go sell shoes.

    6. Does your latest script contain at least two elements of mystery which propel the audience to keep reading? If not, go sell shoes.

    7. Are you writing outside of any known genre? Go sell shoes.

    8. Do you find yourself limiting the complexity of good writing to a list of attributes that somehow delineate between good and bad? Go sell–dammit.

    Would you like that in a size 8?

    • Casper Chris


      Sure, there are prodigies in sports. There is that occasional b-ball player who picks up a ball at a tender age and shoots and simply “notices the ball goes in every time”. There are prodigies in music (Mozart et al). But there are no prodigies in writing. None.

      That’s why, when I look at someone’s screenplay and I feel a lack of creativity, I don’t say to the person, “it’s not that you’ve settled for mediocrity, it’s that you’re simply a mediocre writer”. I tell them to push themselves. Of course Nicholas J is right in that, if they don’t have it, they don’t have it and probably never will. But sometimes they do have it, even if all visible indicators point to the contrary, it simply lies dormant within them. And that’s why you must, not only do a lot of legwork in learning the craft, but also really push yourself with your creative choices. To some extent, creativity can be honed. It’s like a muscle. The more you use it and the harder you push yourself in using, the better you become at being creative. This has been proven by cognitive science.

      • Paul Clarke

        So called prodigies like Mozart and Tiger Wood simply started earlier. They’d done their 10,000 hours by the time they were teenagers.

        If you want to be successful at something, you have to put in the work.

        • Casper Chris

          Mozart was playing several instruments and composing at the age of 5. Ifthat’s not prodigiousness, then nothing is. Of course he had to work to realize his full potential, but it would take the average talented musician 10,000-20,000 hours to reach Mozart at 1,000. Look at Mozart’s sister. She received the same musical nurturing as Mozart from a young age, but while she struggled with her piano lesson

          His astonishing readiness, however, did not arise merely from great practice; he had a thorough knowledge of the fundamental principles of composition, as, upon producing a treble, he immediately wrote a base under it, which, when tried, had very good effect. He was also a great master of modulation, and his transitions from one key to another were excessively natural and judicious…*

          The thing about writing is that it requires a certain amount of life experience to do well. And 10,000 hours won’t cut it.

    • Mr. Blonde

      I’ll be honest. I disagree with the notion that someone needs to churn out several scripts before they write a good one. Maybe it takes several drafts of a script to make it good, but automatically saying that their first three or four scripts are going to be no good (especially after reading other scripts and books) is very short-sighted in my humble opinion.

      • mulesandmud

        Or long-sighted, no?

        Accepting that there are exceptions, screenwriting is a craft, and like any craft, mastery or even journeyman competence takes time. If your first script feels like the best script you’ve ever written, that’s because it is.

        It’s not about whether those early scripts are any good; it’s about perspective. Imagine a person doing something EXACTLY ONCE in their life and then assuming they know enough about it to decide how well they’ve done. That sounds delusional. Why is screenwriting any different?

        • Mr. Blonde

          Well, if you’re going by what Logic said, he said that you won’t have a chance of writing a good script until you’ve done three or four. That’s my point is that he’s basically saying it’s impossible when it’s not. If you care about the quality of what you’re putting out, take the time to make it work and then write it, you’ve really upped your chances of it being good. Odds are, it will be. I’ve seen people’s scripts where they are good on their very first one.

          • mulesandmud

            I can’t speak for Logic, but I mostly think he’s trying to dispel the notion that screenwriters are somehow exempt from paying their dues. It’s a painfully common mentality.

            Debating whether first scripts can be good or not (of course they can) misses the larger point: if you want to be a screenwriter, be prepared to put in the time, and then some.

          • Mr. Blonde

            That’s a fair point and one I can get behind. The harder you work, the better you’re going to get. Hopefully, you improve with every new script, but it does take that time and effort to make it happen.

      • Logic Ninja

        Hey Mr. Blonde!

        On the one hand, you’re absolutely right–there are exceptions to every rule, including all the above (for instance, most Tarantino scripts have typos on every page, including the first). Sure, there are brand-new screenwriters who manage to pull together something good (and with a name as full of ridiculous hubris as “Logic Ninja,” I should probably have acknowledged that possibility, haha. I didn’t even realize how awful that name sounded until my wife pointed it out; but by then I figured, oh well).

        On the other hand, I think it would benefit every writer to assume they aren’t the exception to ANY rule. Even the one-in-a-million prodigy whose first script is genius could benefit from practice; two scripts down the line, that screenwriter will be a super-genius AND used to the idea that screenwriting is hard work.

        • Logic Ninja

          By the way, in my experience, any writer smart enough to write a good script first time round, is smart enough to pretend to themselves they’re not the exception to the rule. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, for instance, waited three years before submitting anything to Hollywood.

          So anyone who thinks he’s the exception, isn’t.

          • Mr. Blonde

            I’m laughing so much right now. Not at you, though, it’s just something ironic I’m thinking about. It’s like you’re an accidental mind reader. =)

        • Mr. Blonde

          I wasn’t even thinking of Tarantino (or any pros, for example), I was literally looking at amateur scripts I’ve been asked to read. I mean, you definitely see stories from time to time about people selling their first screenplay and all that stuff (we all know that sales do not necessarily equal good writing, but they can), but usually people keep writing and don’t try to sell their first script immediately so you rarely hear about that first written script because they kind of bypass it. Now, it is kind of hard to have this conversation without bringing up Tarantino, so I’ll say this. Every writer has one glaring weakness. The idea is to try to cover up that weakness by accentuating your strengths. His bad writing format (honestly, it’s a good problem to have) is off-set by his ability to have interesting, dialogue-heavy scenes.
          In regards to your name, I see nothing wrong with it. And, if people have a problem with it, just tell them you picked it the same way David Lynch came up with the title “Lost Highway”.
          I still can’t agree with that line of thinking that you want writers to assume they can’t be the exception to anything. If they get in the habit of thinking they’re nothing special, what’s the point of trying? It’s one of those either-you-are-or-you-aren’t things. If they’re thinking they are, they won’t be. There’s a big difference between stroking your ego and believing that you have the talent to be different, to be new, to be special. And, that’s what we’re talking about. Maybe somebody is that special on their first script and they only get better. That’s a possibility and if the odds are one in a million, why can’t that one be them?

    • BSBurton

      Good post LJ.

  • Casper Chris

    At least I have the guts to post what I write.

    To be fair, you do it under a pseudonym.

    If you had the balls to actually post with your real name (like me) — and I will be posting my latest work here soon — you wouldn’t be slinging insults every which way like a bile-laden lawn sprinkler. That’s the one aspect of you that I think you could tone down. As for the rest? Keep at it.

    • Midnight Luck

      And yes i dont use my real name, but i also dont use it as a shield, or SS as a forum to tear down others or beat up on everyone i can.

  • Citizen M

    In case you don’t get the newsletter, Anonymous, Carson is open to suggestions. Make a contribution instead of a snarky comment. Propose a topic.

    “Thursday — An article about the business or screenwriting. Have questions or
    suggestions? I’m open to them. E-mail me at Carsonreeves1@gmail.com

  • Midnight Luck

    Yes, we all follow you because you are so brilliant and important right? No i dont follow you, and like i said before, i could care less what you have to say. You think your words are full of wisdom and that you are God-like because you beat up on and put every single person you can down.
    That is weakness.
    Strength comes from lifting others up and helping.
    All you do is lash out when you feel your frail ego is hurt.
    You may think i am a coward because i havent posted work to Carson or AoW. You are WRONG.
    I have been published, and been payed for it. Just not for screenwriting, yet.
    I have no fear at all when it comes to most everything, including writing. I have seen more than a simpleton like yourself can even faintly dream of.
    You can think you are a big man for having posted your work, but i would say all your work was at least ten rewrites away from even being ready to have another person look at it. For all your self appointed supposed knowledge, you seem to have difficulty with even the basics of writing.
    And i have posted writing during scene week, where you needed to pounce on it (as you always do) because Men Don’t Talk to Each Other At The Urinal? Says who? One of my favorite produced scenes from a produced script (and there have been hundreds ive seen of talking happening at urinals) is when Alec Baldwin rubs Stillers ear while they talk at the urinal, then he smacks him on the ass, in ALONG CAME POLLY.
    Anyhow, arguing with you is like masturbating with a cheese grater. Might seem interesting at first, but is just painful and dull. You never take in anyone else’s thoughts, you are just in love with your own voice.

    • C

      “I have seen more than a simpleton like yourself can even faintly dream of.”

      Reminiscing about the days in your community college screenwriting class?

      • Midnight Luck

        Yep, those were some fresh times.
        Thanks for paying attention.

    • BSBurton

      Lol, funny. Gotta agree with the 10 rewrites. Maybe 4 though, 10 is harsh!

      • Midnight Luck

        I know there are many, many writers who feel their work isnt ready to be seen until they have done 10, 20, 30 rewrites.

        Ten doesn’t seem too bad.

        • Ange Neale

          Feels like I’m pushing on for 30, but for easily the first dozen I didn’t know what the hell I was doing until I figured out where to start getting really useful feedback.

        • BSBurton

          I think anyone should have a good draft by 4. If someone does 30 rewrites, they should do something with their time.

    • Jarman Alexander

      … Alright, good things. It has became one of my favorite sign-offs.

  • BSBurton

    Days like this should happen more often: WHy not keep it shorter like:

    “What did everyone think of the original Matrix? GO!” And let the commenters run the day. I’d prefer that to rehashing the same articles. Only so much can be said Carson and you deserve a break!

    • Hadley’s Hope

      Or to tread much more dangerous waters…

      What did everyone think of the Matrix sequels?

      Confession: I actually like both Reloaded and Revolutions. Even going so far as to admit that I enjoyed Revolutions more than Reloaded, which I have found is an extremely unpopular opinion. Maybe my sense of story really is complete shit?

      • BSBurton

        Reloaded amped up the action (loved the pole coming out of the ground). The problem was that they made Neo too powerful in the final moments of the first film. They tried to add stakes in Reloaded by having him fight 3 agents, then get a punch blocked and say, “Hmm, upgrades.” That was the first issue.

        The BIGGEST problem was that whole nonsense scene with the Architect. When the terrible revelation came that they’d destroyed the city 7 times before, it was a big plot hole. The secret human city of Zion was supposed to be hidden from the first film. but according to the architect, they always knew where it was because they’d reset it before. WTF lol.

        Another problem was that the whole second film focused on Neo’s fear for Trinity’s death and then he saved her. How did he do that by the way?

        Then they KILLED HER in the 3rd film!!!! My friend pointed that out and it was pretty damn dumb.

        Also, I think the whole Zion battle in the 3rd film wasn’t that interesting. It was pre Transformers but just wasn’t as interesting as the matrix fighting. The final battle i loved though. The stakes, the music, the fact that Neo accepted death. That was cool, very cool!

        Overall, the sequels had some good moments and nice touches but too many flaws to be good. I own them all on blu ray, but the first one is the only quality one.

        Same with X Men 3. loved the first two, but the third was a Train wreck. I hope there are no errors in the post but i am swamped this morning and didn’t reread for problems!

        Thanks for engaging in this convo! Fun stuff

    • Magga

      I love the articles, but you could make the case that you can have more than one post per day without much work. “Discuss this” or just leave an open post so the contributors can talk about off-topic things every day.

      • BSBurton

        We need fewer articles and more script reviews. Some articles are really good but when i see one that doesn’t interest me, I don’t join in on the discussion. I think more volume will come to the site if there are more days open to free comments

  • carsonreeves1

    I’ve decided to delete all conversation in regards to Grendl’s script as it’s not relevant today. That can be discussed in yesterday’s thread, however since it’s gotten ugly, I’ll only be posting comments that are respectful on both sides. :)

    • peisley

      I guess I miss the earlier days of the likes of Bhodicat (sp?) where there was a lot of insight, but they were also hilarious.

      • Midnight Luck

        Bohdicat was awesome.

      • Citizen M

        Typical Bodhicat comment:

        I hate to sound like I belong to some “Save the Cat” cult, but Blake Snyder had a clever tip about writing scripts with multiple characters. I think he called it the “Eyepatch and a Limp” tip. Basically, he said you should give each character some unique physical quality (like an eyepatch or a limp, duh) to help the reader tell them apart.

        Of course, even this technique can quickly become tiresome if you have too many characters:

        ZIT-FACE rounds the corner, racing past PEG-LEG, MOHAWK, and LOBSTER BOY.  Up ahead, TATTOO GUY shoves BIG-BREASTED GIRL into the back of a black sedan. Grinning malevolently behind the wheel is ALBINO MIDGET DUDE. And so on…

    • Stephjones

      That’s just great, Carson. Now my ” vagina ” reference will be taken out of context. It’ll just seem weird. Thanks a lot.

      • Citizen M

        Me and my vagina,
        Putting out to sea.
        Ploughing through the waves
        On the Sea of Caribbee.

        I love you, little veejay,
        With intensity,
        But if we go to Davy Jones,
        You’re going down with me.

        • Stephjones

          Wow. Citizen M! That’s awesome! Thank God my little veejay is only ploughing through…waves.

  • Midnight Luck

    But the comments which were removed were about the past weeks postings.
    I guess there is no free speech
    Or saying something honestly
    Especially if G might get upset.
    I never get involved with any kind of confrontation,
    But the one time i say something that might be construed as negative,
    My comments get dumped
    After 6 years

    • JakeBarnes12

      It’s not a reflection on you.

      • Midnight Luck

        Nah, just felt the irony, the one time i posted something possibly confrontational and it got eliminated.

        • JakeBarnes12

          You were just defending your corner.

          To be clear, it wasn’t about what you posted.

          Have a great day.

      • Midnight Luck

        Though, I’m not sure what it is a reflection of.

    • Casper Chris

      Did things get ugly while I was away? The comments section looks like a graveyard. I hope it wasn’t my lawn sprinkler comment that set things off, but I suspect it was…

      • Midnight Luck

        I didn’t see your lawn sprinkler comment, so i dont know what was said,
        i think it was my cheese grater comment.

  • Totally

    Moderation city, man

  • cjob3

    Speaking of great quotes. Just came across this gem on Rotten Tomatoes. Might be my favorite review quote ever:

    “Sitting through Transformers: Age of Extinction is like binge-watching the death of the human spirit.” -Devin Faraci

    • Kirk Diggler

      This one is good too.

      “Transformers: Age of Extinction isn’t a bad movie; it’s the worst possible product of a big Hollywood system drunk on a cocktail of fermented nostalgia and rancid profiteering while driving movie-going into the ground.”

      • Ange Neale

        Maybe Lindsay Doran should get final cut on every movie that could potentially do more harm than good to the industry.

  • Midnight Luck

    So Adam’s and your response to the question about the Protagonist definitely surviving isn’t how i would take it, instead for us the reader or viewer, we need to BELIEVE they will survive no matter what. Tthe writer must make us believe because we love the Protag and want them to survive. But in the end, in our hearts we know, that just like with life, we don’t control what happens and that we don’t actually know if they will. Our belief they will survive trumps our reality of knowing they may not.

    So even if they do end up dying at the end, some part of us knew that might happen, so we don’t like it, but it is still truth.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Usually its better when the protag or secondary protag character survives. Imagine if Han Solo or Lando died at the end of RotJ.

      • Midnight Luck

        I am talking about the assumption and belief we have about the character.

        SPOILERS…….. BELOW
        I mean we all have a belief and assumption about Walter White. We BELIEVE he will live because we love his character, but we also know the reality of cancer, the meth culture he is in, his brother in law and the DEA. We know in reality he might die, but we dont want it, and the writers have orchestrated it so it doesn’t seem possible.
        But when he does die, we aren’t that shocked, because it is a truth told from a real perspective of the story and life.

        I don’t believe 99% of Protags must live. Some of the greatest stories end with death. Thelma and louise, Butch Cassidy (assumed), Seven, on and on. But we believe they will make it. So build that absolute surety in the reader that they wont die and they will trust. But if you chose to kill them off, if you have setup a slight possibility beforehand, it will work as truth, it wont ring false.

    • Citizen M

      I think we need to believe that the protagonist will struggle mightily and do everything possible to survive, if they are currently in a life-threatening situation. We hope they will survive to the end, if we like them.

      If the protagonist was e.g. a kamikaze pilot we might want them to die, but in a glorious way. If they are terminally ill, we might want them to die, but at peace and reconciled with [whatever]. If they are suicidal we might want them to die and make life better for other people, unless it’s a comedy, in which case we want them to eventually realize it’s better to survive.

      But really, all we are invested in are the next few minutes of film, the next few pages of script. We want to know how they are going to deal with whatever confronts them at this moment. A “drive to survive” can be assumed, because it’s common to everyone. Any other desire or emotional need needs to be set up.

  • klmn

    OT. For anyone trying to write sitcoms, here’s a possible concept.


    • Casper Chris

      Even the title is in there.

      Ralph Bracamonte says it’s all a nanny nightmare.

      • witwoud

        Very funny. I don’t think it’d do for a sitcom though. It’s too mean-spirited. The characters in a sitcom always need each other, however badly they show it. Here, it’s the opposite; the only thing they want from the nanny is for her to go away.

        • klmn

          There is some cosmic justice involved here. A cheap-ass couple wants someone to work for no pay, just room and board. Instead they get someone who doesn’t work, just stays in her room and eats their food.

          • witwoud

            It’s a very funny story, don’t get me wrong. I just can’t see it as the basis for a sitcom.

            It’s more like a black comedy. Actually — dunno if you saw it — there was a film like this a few years ago called Duplex, in which Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore buy a house that comes complete with an old lady tenant. So they try and kill her. Terrible film.

            EDIT: But I’m sure it could be made to work. ;)

  • Casper Chris

    Peeps. I’m looking for the name of an American sitcom (I believe it’s airing now). As a foreigner I’m a little out of the loop here, but it was recommended to me a while back.
    All I remember is that the name contains two names, one female name and one male name.
    Matt and Mary
    But that’s obviously not it. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismulligan/lunch-meat?ref=live Chris Mulligan

      Mike and Molly.

      • Casper Chris

        Bingo! Thanks.
        I wasn’t that far off! ;)
        Going to check it out. Any verdicts?

        • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/chrismulligan/lunch-meat?ref=live Chris Mulligan

          Haven’t watched it. Seen a bunch of promos, but never an episode.

        • witwoud

          It’s funny. Not at all ground-breaking, but a cheerful, likeable, well-made sort of show. Definitely worth a watch.

    • Linkthis83

      Mike and Molly?

  • witwoud

    I wish there was a ‘Novelshadow’ — I’d be all over it. I know there are a gazillion novel-writing sites out there, but they mostly seem stuck in creative-writing mode, and rarely get around to discussing the actual craft of novel writing. They are all about letting your imagination wander free and getting in touch with your inner goddess, rather than how to write a compelling story. That’s why I like to hang out here despite primarily being a fiction writer. (Plus, the free beer. And the people are cooler.) I suppose there’s a risk of finishing up with a screenplay-like, three-act, beat-sheet driven sort of novel, but what the hell. It worked for J.K. Rowling. ;)

    • Nicholas J

      Where is this free beer you speak of and how do I get some?

      • klmn

        It’s at Carson’s apartment. But I can’t tell you where. It’s like a treasure hunt – you gotta find it yourself.

        • witwoud

          Yup. Just one tip: You’ll need to bring something which weighs the same as a case of beer. A bag of sand will do.

          Oh, and wear running shoes.

          • Ange Neale

            Or do a ‘Mission Impossible 1′ thing like Tom Cruise and bungee down from the air conditioning ducts. Surely Carson’d give points at least for the re-creation for anyone caught in the act.

        • Nicholas J

          Okay, cool. I’ll swing by tonight after work. I work late though, so I can’t stop by until around 3 AM. But I don’t want to wake him, so I’ll just climb in through the window. And yeah, don’t tell me where the beer is I’ll just dig around for it.

        • Hadley’s Hope

          Perhaps if you showed up with some burgers to trade for the beer?

          “Carson, I got these In-N-Out cheeseburgers man. Please man… I read your script.”

  • Sharpshooter

    What a groovy question, Inquisitor.

    These movers and shakers in the Industry really take time out of their busy lives to comment about this site – on a daily basis no less???

  • Malibo Jackk

    My apologies to everyone.
    The copy of THE NICE GUYS (April 14, 2003)
    does not contain the amazing opening scene
    that I heard at the auditorium “table read” two years ago in Austin.

    If anyone has an updated copy —
    malibujackk at gmail dot com

    • august4

      What’s the amazing scene? (briefly describe) I found it on “Write to Reel” …There’s a bunch of scripts on there.

  • Midnight Luck

    No, i get what you mean and agree. I read the simple sentence Carson put above and extrapolated a different, or much more complex meaning to it.
    Your breakdown of what your bigger conversation must have originally been is perfectly clear. Thanks.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    I agree.

    Good stuff sir.

    Reminds me of my grandma telling stories about her trip to Norway. She added in trolls and other mythical beings which I believed were things she actually saw (I must have been about 5 or 6 when she came back and told me tales about the trip). That made an impression on me at a young age.

  • sotiris5000

    The main conflict (or narrative question) can NEVER be “Will the Main Character survive?” the answer is always YES.

    I disagree. We all know that the main character will survive, but we are still interested, we still feel the tension and the threat. When I was watching Gravity I knew she would survive, but I was still on the edge of my seat. Same as with a rollercoaster, you know you’re going to get out of it, but it doesn’t make it any less scary.

  • http://j.nelsonleith.com/ John Leith

    Am I missing something, or are all these comments about how to win the proverbial game? Instead of this bottom-up approach of finding ways for individual writers to “be successful” in the film industry, maybe we should be considering top-down ways the film industry could become better at identifying (and selecting) good writers.

    Two pennies on the table.