I didn’t like The Reversal. As I tried desperately to settle into the first 10 pages, I realized that I was reading everything twice, sometimes three times. I couldn’t tell if I was distracted or not into it. The Reversal feels like a some sort of neo-punk semi-futuristic episode of NYPD Blue with characters spouting cooler-than-thou lines, all in an environment alien enough that everything has to be described extensively. I think it’s this description that was driving me mad. I don’t really care that the pink girl dressed in fishnet stockings is shooting down aqua-blue viles of an uknown substance. I fully acknowledge, however, that this is probably a taste thing, and there are plenty of people out there who ,will be into this. Unfortunately I wasn’t one of them.
The overall story of The Reversal is quite grand and a little difficult to digest. In the year 2027, all the water’s been evaporated on purpose so that the leaders of the world can control the water supply, allowing them to keep the populations under control. If people need water, they’ll do whatever they’re told. Okay whatever. Anyway, our “hero”, DENNIS, a cop, starts investigating a series of murders where the left arms of the victims have all been torn off. Coincidentally, Dennis knew all these men. They were soldiers in his company. So now we think whoever’s killed everybody else is trying to kill Dennis. The reason (“spoiler” here – and I may be off on this cause it was so laborious reading this thing) is that all of the company members were secretly encoded with a way to bring water back in the upper epidermus level of a skin patch on their shoulder. That’s why the arms are chopped off.
Anyway, the whole thing felt like some sort of bad B-Movie sci-fi noir detective crap. Everybody’s got 5’oclock stubble. Everyone speaks in gruff voices. Only one small area of the room is ever lit. Gahhh!! I couldn’t take it anymore. As I stated before, part of me believes that my dislike of the script is a preference thing. Someone recommended it to me so obviously there are people out there who are into this stuff. This is one of those scripts I can’t dismiss out of hand without telling you to read it and form your own opinion. It’s distinctly stylized, and it might be your kind of style.
What I learned from The Reversal: This is probably the most opinion-related lesson that I’ve offered, but it’s one I learned personally after sending out a few sci-fi scripts. When you’ve created an imaginary or futuristic world, don’t spend too much time describing that world. Set it up as best you can. Sprinkle in the important visual images here and there. But keep the focus simple and on the story. Even though *you* believe your world is awesome enough as to be described in illicit detail on every page, the reader is here to enjoy a story. That’s where you should spend the majority of your effort.