Genre: TV Pilot (Fantasy)
Premise: In a distant post-apocalyptic future, a young man in a mountain community begins to wonder what life is like outside his closed-off world.
About: Not much is known about this one other than AMC has shot the pilot and, presumably, will bury him this weekend. It’s being produced by Ridley Scott, which is a great sign, and written by long-time TV writer Jason Cahill. Cahill’s worked on a lot of big shows, including E.R., The Sopranos, Fringe, and AMC’s newest hopeful, Halt and Catch Fire.
Writer: Jason Cahill
Details: 54 pages – 3rd Draft (September 27, 2013)

AlexRussellCarriepremiereLSAPPhoto_article_story_largeFast-rising actor Alex Russell will play Aethys’ best friend and rival, Roman.

Miss Scriptshadow and I have finally bit the bullet and started watching Game of Thrones. We realized our failure to get past five episodes in our last attempt had to do with us trying to “surf and watch.” Game of Thrones isn’t a “surf and watch” show. You have to be paying 100% attention 100% of the time or you very well may miss that Feargor is Tybo’s cousin, married to Calgo, whose dead wife, Sheeba, was a Tragdorian, and who’s brother Lingnotro is the secret heir to the throne of Six Whistles. If you don’t know that, it’s impossible to appreciate the show. And thusly, we’ve had no choice but to become hardcore viewers.

This segues idyllically into today’s pilot because, just like Thrones, there’s an extensive mythology and a lot of weird names and family connections to keep track of. We even have a giant page of character breakdowns before the script begins. Indeed, there’s quite the burden of investment required to enjoy Galyntine, but if you keep your sneakers on and fight through the thick bush, you eventually come upon a beautiful view.

Welcome to Mount Galyn, where a “large” community of 500 residents resides. The year? Who the hell knows? But we get the feeling it’s far enough out from the 21st century that little of that world remains.

The people of Mount Galyn are all about living off the land. You know those annoying cis-vegans that make you feel bad for even looking at a cheeseburger? These folks make them look like dog-butchers. They pick berries, they pick leaves, they hunt. But that’s it. You’ll never find the Galyns farming or processing anything. These are simple people who stick to a strict lifestyle.

Enter 23 year old Aethys, who’d had a rough life. As in something chopped off his arm when he was a kid. You’re not too desirable to the ladies if you can’t hunt. And so Stumpy must watch everyone else have the fun while he wonders if there’s a better life out beyond the mountains.

Aethys’ best friend, Roman, is his polar opposite. He’s big, strong, handsome, and routinely brings back the biggest elk. Their alliance is an unlikely one, but they’re both outsiders in their own way (Roman was an orphan).

The one thing besides Roman that keeps Aethys going is Wylie, his forever crush. And despite not being able to Facebook flirt in this world, it’s looking like he might actually get her. Maybe good guys DO finish first. Pfft. Yeah right!  When Roman is shockingly rejected by Aethys’ sister, Essyn, Roman surprises everyone and takes Wylie instead! Ouch, talk about putting a damper on a bromance. Wylie the hell did he have to do that?

That’s the last straw for Aethys, who finally decides to get off this mountain. But even his first steps into this foreign land are met with shock. Something is down there. Something big and complicated and advanced. Maybe Aethys didn’t think this all the way through. But before he knows it, it’s too late. The new world makes its first bold move, changing Aethys forever.


Sometimes you read things where you know right away, “This writer knows what he’s doing.” There are people out there who will say that’s not true, that everything’s arbitrary. “One guy will hate your script and another will love it,” they argue. That’s not true. There’s a bunch of gunk filling up the Hollywood sewers that everyone can agree is terrible, stuff written by people who don’t know the craft. Only after that do you get to the arbitrary choice level.

Galyntine is the perfect example of a “some will love it some will hate it” script. I can see people reding this and going, “What the faaaahhhh??” And others going, “Holy shit. Genius!” But whether you like Galyntine or not, you walk away knowing Jason Cahill knows what he’s doing. I didn’t know anything about who wrote this beforehand. I didn’t know if he was a 30 year veteran or a first-time writer. But after a few pages, I knew this guy could write.

This is the next level of “taking a chance” TV. They said a zombie show was risky for a TV show. But people knew what zombies were. They said a big fantasy epic was risky for a TV show. But we’ve seen versions of Game of Thrones before (Lord of the Rings). In all these other “risky” shows, there were at least reference points. There’s no reference point for Galyntine.

This world is part futuristic, part ancient, part magic, part fantasy, part apocalyptic. Weird creatures. Futuristic nano-machines. It’s weird stuff.

In one of the early scenes, there’s an elaborate hunting sequence where our mountain hunters have set up pre-established trampoline-devices so they can catch the high leaping mountain elks. It’s like an operatic ballet, the way it’s described. And I know, just off that sentence, how goofy it sounds (Miss Scriptshadow: “That sounds stupid”), but Cahill makes you believe it.

Once we get to this “town,” the specificity in how this world is described – the rules behind hunting and foraging and weaponry construction and how to live off the land without destroying it – you can feel the depth here. You can tell Cahill has thought endlessly about this world.

In fact, the mythology was so specific and so extensive, I had to look up what material the script was based on. I was shocked when I googled it and NOTHING CAME UP. Galyntine is completely original. This has to be the most extensive mythology I’ve ever seen in script form that hasn’t been based on a book. I’m betting that Cahill’s been working on it for years. I bet you this was turned down everywhere until the TV boom arrived.

But Galyntine isn’t a slam dunk. Whenever you’re talking extensive mythologies, you’re talking about a burden of investment. You’re talking about setting up shit and describing shit.  When you write a sci-fi, fantasy, or period pieces, you’re allowed to be extensive when describing this stuff.

In fact, it’s encouraged. Galyntine doesn’t work if every action paragraph is one line (i.e. “Hunters prepare for their prey in the forest.”) It’s the specificity of the writing that brings the world to life, that gives it depth. Here’s the paragraph that Cahill chooses instead…

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 12.49.19 AM

You can see how much more you gather from this description.

With that said, you can’t overdo it.  Writing in fantasy is not a license to go description-crazy. You must find balance. Personally, I find that the more words a writer uses, the more insecure they are about what they’re saying. They’re using their paragraphs to figure their thoughts out, and therefore the paragraphs come off long and unfocused. Screenwriting is about finding those perfect “power” words that say what twenty words couldn’t.

“The top of his leg pale and sickly, the open wound discards his fluids haphazardly,” isn’t as good as a simple “His severed leg GUSHES blood.” We get “gushes.” I could have some friends over and engage in a 3 hour discussion about what “discards his fluids haphazardly” means and not come to a conclusion (note: I’m actually read that phrase before).

But getting back to the story, the idea with sci-fi or fantasy is you have to get to something identifiable sooner or later. We’ll give you some time to set your world up. But if you don’t give us something relatable at some point, we’re checking out.

At its core, the Galyntine pilot was a simple story about a boy who wanted a girl. His best friend then betrayed him and took her (something else we identify with) and he became frustrated with his lot in life (something else we identify with) and wanted to see what the world was like outside of this bubble (something else we identify with).

The reason to create identifiable and relatable situations in a fantasy story is because everything else is so foreign. I’ve never lived on a mountain. I don’t hunt elks with trampolines. I don’t understand weird “land” politics about where I can or can’t walk because the ground is sacred. But I know what it feels like to be rejected. I know what it feels like to want something more. That’s why that character stuff is so important to get to in your pilot.

Galyntine is a hell of a unique property. It’s so different that we’ll have no idea if it works until we see it. If it’s shot like Revolution, cheesy and cheap, it’s doomed. But if the production is approached with the same level of love and passion the script is written with, it could be incredible.

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

What I learned: I see this a lot and it always irks me. While almost all the writing here was strong, this one line stood out to me as a no-no: “A NOISE punches the air.” A noise punches the air? What noise? What does a “noise” sound like? A noise can be 15 million different sounds! Instead of saying a “noise” is heard, tell us what the noise is! A “deep throbbing bass” shakes the ground. A “LOUD SCREECH” shoots through the hallway. A “PIERCING HIGH-PITCHED ALARM” assaults the cockpit crew. Noises need to be described.

  • Ali Griggs

    Thanks for the review Carson. Would some kind fellow send me a copy of this script? I will be in their debt. Email is Thank you.

    • kent

      As will I. Kentlmurray at comcast dot net. Thanks

    • Casper Chris

      This sounds right up my alley. Would love to take a look too if anyone has it.

    • wrymartini

      Excellent stuff, by the sounds of it. I’ll build several houses of worship in honor of whoever sends me a copy. wrymartini2000 at gmail dot com. Many thanks.

    • Scriptych

      I fifth that motion. You would be my personal internet hero. Sgkelly2 at gmail dot com. Thanks so much.

  • Chy85

    With the right lead & budget could be interesting. Sounds very much like a TV version of ‘Monster Problems’.

  • Jarman Alexander

    “A NOISE punches the air. Emotions are felt.”

    I get it.

  • Steffan

    True Fact About Steffan:

    I watch Game of Thrones standing up so that I can assure the proper amount of focus is being given.

    • brenkilco

      If you were a binge watcher that would really show devotion.

      • Steffan

        Haha! I am! I don’t have cable so I download it on iTunes when they become available. I like the show (don’t love it), but binge watching that behemoth is the only way its bearable–it moves at such a glacial pace most of the time.

    • klmn

      You should watch it sitting on the throne.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        Not if you are a fan of Tywin Lannister.

      • Steffan

        I have only one throne in my house and the bathroom is no where near the living room.

        • Hadley’s Hope

          Matthew McConaughey in EDtv had this problem all worked out.

          Something about a mirror in the bathroom, propped up just right so that it caught the reflection of the TV screen from the other room.

  • brenkilco

    “The top of his leg pale and sickly, the open wound discards his fluids haphazardly,” isn’t as good as a simple “His severed leg GUSHES blood.” ”

    No it isn’t as good. And more importantly it isn’t the same. First of all a person may appear sickly. Not sure a portion of a leg can. Discard is the wrong verb. Do you discard blood? Discharge is what the writer means. And what fluids is he talking about? Is the wound supperating or bleeding? And while biological functions may be irregular they are not haphazard because they are governed by biology. It’s not that the sentence is wordy. It’s that it’s lousy.

    “Screenwriting is about finding those perfect “power” words that say what twenty words couldn’t.”

    Sound advice. To which should be added, but be careful. If diamond hard precision is what we should be aiming at why do so many scripts seem vague and impressionistic? One reason I think is that at a certain point the writer starts sacrificing clarity for brevity. It’s tough to find one word that will do the work of twenty. But it’s relatively easy to find ten that will do the work of twenty. It’s when you start to sweat to turn the ten into five that the problems occur. Economy and brevity are not the same.

    • Steffan

      In so many ways screenwriting is the closer to poetry than short fiction and The Novel and I think you nailed one of the main connections here, bren.

  • Randy Williams

    I like how in scary stories the word “noise” itself generates the emotion of something beyond our understanding, beyond our control. If the camp leader around the campfire is very specific and says, “We’re walking through the dark forest when suddenly!…. we hear the snap of a twig” it’s not as frightening as, “suddenly!… we hear a noise. With the crack of a twig, we can start to conjecture, it’s an animal, someone following behind. A noise could be anything and the unknown is much scarier.

  • IgorWasTaken

    On page 1: What the heck is a “Tesla-like sled”?

    • brenkilco

      It’s what you hitch to a reindeer with an Edison-like nose.

      • IgorWasTaken

        OK, that is funny.

        Apart from that, I would still like to know: What is a “Tesla-like sled”?

        The full sentence is: “The boy hangs the carcasses on
        the frame of an oddly sleek, Tesla-like SLED.

        And then, down the page: “The boy looks left. It’s as if a
        FREIGHT TRAIN leapt from the snowbank and tore through
        the sled. There’s a splintery HOLE in the frame.

        Giving (a generous) benefit of the doubt to the writer, the best I can come up with is this: A thing that once was a Tesla car, and now it’s just the body, no wheels.

        Either way, did “Tesla-like SLED” stop or confuse anyone else?

        • brenkilco

          Clueless. Is he just trying to suggest its streamlined. A Tesla looks like any other sedan to me. Or does it look like the sort of gizmo than Nikola might have come up with?

    • wrymartini

      I, too, would love to read page 1. And indeed the rest. If you’d consider sharing it with me, at wrymartini2000 at gmail dot com, I’ll be forever in your debt. Thank you.

  • Scott Strybos

    Game of Thrones is a show I have never watched and, even with full knowledge of the critical acclaim and praise from literally everyone I know, I still have no desire to watch.

    An internal struggle rages inside because I do feel I am missing out on great writing (and acting, directing, etc…) but I just can’t get excited enough to watch. Because there’s wizards, right? And witches, and spells, and dragons, and fairies (not the gay kind, the mythical being kind). With goblins and trolls. I just don’t like the fantasy, Lord of the Rings stuff.

    I think I will just have to wait until I meet someone who forces me to sit down and watch after they gasp when I tell them I’ve never seen a single frame of the show.

    Has anyone been watching that new show on AMC Hell and Catch Fire… is it any good? The commercials look interesting.

    • Rzwan Cabani

      GAME OF THRONES would be perfect for someone like you. If you hate all that fantasy shit — the show gives it to you so sparingly and rarely that you crave it. Put me down as #1,452 to recommend it — just try to resist the cliffhanger at the end the pilot — the rest will be history.

    • Logic Ninja

      Watched the pilot the other day, just to see what all the fuss is about (fantasy isn’t generally my thing, with LOTR for an exception).

      Plenty of conflict, lots of darkness…but the darkness seemed a bit purposeless. Like the show had nothing to say. Felt like the writers thought, “Incestual rape?…Well, whyever not? It’ll provide plenty of conflit, reveal one character’s flaw and another’s pain. So heck, let’s toss it in there.”

      Sure, it was smoothly written and well-acted; sure, there was plenty of conflict and enough complexity to attract fanboys…but something felt absent.

      I think that absent ingredient is a message.

      FIGHT CLUB, for instance, is probably darker than GoT (though more self-conscious), but that darkness has a purpose: a message about the systems and rituals we take for granted, like a fish that doesn’t know it’s in water.

      GoT, though? Couldn’t say. So all the rape and violence felt like nothing more than a cheap gimmick.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        Fight Club is a happy rainbow compared to Game of Thrones. I’m pretty unflinching when it comes to both darker storytelling and gore/violence, but there are times when GoT is just too much. Especially at two certain points, once during season three and again during the recently concluded fourth season. I almost stopped watching the show.

        I love Fight Club though. A great dark but funny film.

        • Logic Ninja

          I guess by dark I don’t mean containing horrifying material; I just mean tonally dark. FIGHT CLUB questioned the very fabric of its world to deliberately unsettle the viewer, and to pose the question: Why don’t we question ours?

          Sure, you could show babies being raped–but that doesn’t mean you’ve gone tonally dark (though it probably does, haha).

          • Hadley’s Hope

            It is definitely dark stuff.

            Game of Thrones basically says, “heroes are fucked, it’s the bad guys who are smart and come out ahead.”

            George R.R. Martin also seems to love killing characters as well.

          • Logic Ninja

            Dude, I’m halfway through already. I couldn’t resist!

      • Nicholas J


        Or if you don’t want to read, here’s the most relevant bit, from GRRM himself (NO SPOILERS):

        “To omit [rape and sexual violence] from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil.”

        That last sentence is Jaime Lannister in a nutshell.

        • Logic Ninja

          I’ve read this quote before, and I like it a lot! I guess it expresses my contention a little more succinctly; to GRRM, a story in which the horrors of war are derived from orcs and Dark Lords is (he seems to be saying) dishonest–but to me, that is the whole subtlety of story-telling.

          Accuracy and honesty are not synonyms; were we mere historians, and recounted every fact as they had occurred, we might still be dishonest to the meaning of those facts. Stories about orcs and Dark Lords are not lies we tell ourselves, convincing ourselves the evil is external; in a way they isolate that evil and remind one that it is not a thing to be accepted.

          Tim O’Brien, author of THE THINGS THEY CARRIED (a war story about Vietnam) seems to be writing his autobiography about his Vietnam experience–and he did, in fact, fight there. But he chooses not to recount his actual experiences, but rather to manufacture false ones. In subsequent essays he explains this choice, saying that to relate the events as they occurred would have been to lie about them.

          In the same way, showing rape and sexual violence, to me, can turn the role of storyteller to that of historian. If our goal is to precisely recount what, exactly, goes on in war–why not write a WWI biopic?

          I feel GoT has fallen into this trap. Everything felt a bit too on-the-nose, too contrived, too forced. I could feel myself thinking, “Rape in three…two…one…yup, called it.”

          Of course this is only my opinion! If I were given a staff writer’s job on GoT, I’d say, “Thank you, kind sir, may I offer you my firstborn son as a slave? And please never read past Scriptshadow comments.”

    • Nicholas J

      There is actually very little fantasy involved. It’s mostly about things like corruption, power, political scheming, war strategy, royal family relationships, revenge, etc. I like to say it’s Braveheart meets Sopranos.

      Do you like character depth and development? Yes? Then watch it.

      • brenkilco

        It’s starting to reach a point of terminal sprawl. And based on the last episode the heavy duty fantasy is about to kick in. And what’s with those white walkers? we’ve been waiting for them to show up for three years. Slow as Molasses north of the wall.

    • charliesb

      The problem with GoT, is that for every great episode, character, story, there is an equally boring, or nonsensical one. There have been brilliant moments and there have been times it has barely kept me awake.

      Much like with something like Lord of the Rings as much as I appreciate it as a whole, I often have to remind myself that there are going to be moments that only die hard fans are going to love.

      Also, there is very little magic, wizards etc in the show (as of yet), there’s a few “zombies”, and a smoke monster, but barely. This is War of the Roses set in a mythical world. Lot’s of backroom dealings, war, murder and sex.

      • Nicholas J

        That’s one thing I think is great about the show and contributes to its mass appeal — the fact that there are so many different complex and interesting storylines. What you find boring, another person may not, and vice versa. Whereas with something like Breaking Bad, if you aren’t into the whole meth storyline there’s not much else to stay around for. Places like The Wall and King’s Landing on Game of Thrones could have enough story to carry a show all their own.

        • Hadley’s Hope

          I was really getting tired of The Wall stuff, but the last several episodes with all that stuff really paid off nicely.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      I am really enjoying Halt and Catch Fire. It’s funny you called it Hell and Catch Fire, because I am getting the sense that one of the main characters is symbolic of a Satan-like angel’s fall from grace.

      AMC sort of sold it as “the next Mad Men” set in the early Eighties with computers. While that is not a bad comparison, I kind of feel like that also sells H&CF a bit short. It does some of the things Mad Men does, but differently (example: oppressed homemaker wife, suburban dissolution). It may be that as a child of the Eighties I just dig the world of computers more than the swinging Sixties advertising setting of MM. I do really like Mad Men a lot too. It isn’t as good as it was during the first four seasons, but still worth a watch nonetheless.

  • Scott Strybos

    Based on this review, Galytine is a script that sounds great but that I will not be asking for in the comment section because I am excited to watch the pilot (and series). I haven’t heard of this show until now but it does sound like a lot of fun. The new Lost, maybe?

  • Jim Dandy

    Carson, I hate to be one of those annoying Grammar Nazis, but it irks me that you keep confusing WHOSE with WHO’S. WHO’S is a contraction of WHO IS. Whereas WHOSE is an adjective (as in “whose brother”).

    • Scott Strybos

      “Grammer Nazi” is an overused term that has become a cliché. And as writers we must always avoid clichés. I propose, instead of Grammar Nazi, we all start using Grammar Kim Jong-Il .

      • Jim Dandy

        Sorry to be a Grammar Kim Jong-il, but you spelt GRAMMAR wrong in the first sentence.

        There – I am the first person to use the term Grammar Kim Jong-il.

        • Scott Strybos

          Grammar is a word I misspell often. I always want to use an “e”.

          • Jim Dandy

            Well then, it’s off to Grammar Prison Camp for you!

          • brenkilco

            I understand Kim Jong-Il would often misspell grammar. I mean문법. And he would execute people who called him on it.

          • MGE3

            A Grammar Gulag if you will…

          • Randy Williams

            That one time at Grammar Prison Camp. I learned about dangling participles and direct objects in the showers.

        • IgorWasTaken

          That would be a “Grammer, Kelsey”.

      • Bluedust

        Wouldn’t it be Grammar Kim Jong-un? I mean, to stay current on your grammar tyrants.

    • Breezy

      Writers need the Grammar Nazi… I just call them editors and spell-check. I extend my right arm to you. The only annoying ones are on youtube harassing people over misplaced apostrophes, commas and other typos.

  • Mallet

    Sounds like it is a “re-imaging” of L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth.

    Heroic Character from a post-appocolyptic future who lives in a remote mountain village with no contact with the outside world, ventures down the mountain and discovers that everything he was taught and grew up believing is wrong.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      Then the cavemen learned how to fly Harrier jets.

      • Mallet

        Yep. Because of a super hi-tech learning machine that downloaded the info right into their brains. Much like learning kung-fu in the Matrix.

        And in this series, I’d bet before the first season ends, the main character in will be firing laser weapons and flying ships or doing other far future tech stuff, despite growing up as a caveman.

        • Hadley’s Hope

          Yeah, BF Earth and its cavemen fighter pilots was a bit much, but then sometimes you just gotta go with it for some sci-fi stories.

          You’re probably right about the whole fantasy turning into John Carter/Luke Skywalker laser gun slinging antics. That is probably why these sci-fi & fantasy combos are rare. They are hard to do. Especially hard to pull off on film. One element probably will win out over the other. Will it be the sword and sorcery or the lasers and robots? Star Wars just happens to be one of the few examples that gets it right and where one side of the genre pie doesn’t spill over into the other and ruin the flavor. In Star Wars, the fantasy and sci-fi elements are extremely complimentary towards each other.

          I suppose a lot of the superhero stuff that is so popular these days also qualifies as a sf + fantasy mix. Thor is basically alternate universe hopping Norse fantasy. Except he exists in a fictional universe where a smart ass millionaire wears robotic power armor. It all just kind of gels together into a big mess, but it works. The key is that the Marvel flicks always focus on Earth and saving the “average everyday citizenry” as opposed to saving some random backwater planet no one knows much about. It will be interesting to see how Guardians of the Galaxy fares if it goes more cosmic and becomes less Earth-centric (I’m betting it doesn’t and it ends up hinging on saving Earth from alien baddies).

  • klmn

    “A “deep throbbing bass” shakes the ground.”

    Yeah, it’s about time this guy made a comeback.

  • Poe_Serling

    For those writers who like to take a scientific approach to their work: The Periodic Table of Storytelling.

  • Linkthis83

    Below is the link to an “audio illusion” that was posted on John August’s website. Very cool.

    Link to the article on JA =

    • Poe_Serling

      A link from link. Very cool indeed!!!

      On the visual side of things:

      I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

      Real Paragraph

      I couldn’t believe that I could actually understand what I was reading. Using the incredible power of the human brain, according to research at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be in the right place. The rest can be a total, mess and you can read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole. Amazing, huh? Yeah and I always thought spelling was important! See if your friends can read this too!

      • Hadley’s Hope

        No problem.

        That’s how I normally sound after a night at the pub.

      • TomG

        Wow, amazing post! I wonder if texting like this could make people smarter. Bad spellers rejoice.

        • Poe_Serling

          Yeah, it’s exercise for the brain. ;-)

  • Tailmonsterfriend

    >When you write a sci-fi, fantasy, or period pieces, you’re allowed to be extensive when describing this stuff.

    I found that incredibly heartening. As it happens, I write scifi, and I encounter this exact problem all the time: how much is too much? How much is too little? If I want to describe, say, the Santa Monica flood zone (global warming’s a bitch), can I condense that important first impression into three lines, or should I indulge and go for the full five line wall of text including the dinghies puttering through canals that used to be streets?

    One cheap scifi-specific trick I’ve found is to use specific materials as shorthand. What I mean by that is that instead of describing in great detail what (for example) the super futuristic boardroom looks like, I focus on small details that sell the scene for me. Nanocrystal glass. Conference table made from cloned teak. Also works for clothing, vehicles, hair styles, gadgets, creatures… It saves me space and it saves the reader having to slog through endless dense paragraphs.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      “Also works for clothing, vehicles, hair styles, gadgets, creatures…”


      SHANTAY DUNE, mid 80s but looks 21, walks in like she owns the joint. Pulsating razor-fro highlighted with an infestation of neonfly. Get too close and the whole thing might go up like an old bug zapper cranked into overdrive during a locust swarm.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    post apocalyptic sci-fi + fantasy reference points:

    STAR WARS (original trilogy)
    Luke lived in the run down dystopic shadow of The Empire. The Force = space magic.

    parts of CLOUD ATLAS
    The far future stuff with Tom Hanks talkin’ all funny and stuff.

    Upcoming STAR WARS-like video game from the creators of HALO. Space wizards and space magic (Tyrion Lannister — aka Peter Dinklage voices a little AI companion robot that the player carries around with them).


    Galyntine scares me a bit. It sounds like it has elements of all the current post apocalyptic shows (The Walking Dead, Falling Skies, Defiance) plus the fantasy element so popular due to Game of Thrones. As a sci-fi focused writer who plans to write a spec pilot in the not too distant future, I fear audiences will say “meh” to anything new in the genre if it comes after Galyntine (if Galyntine becomes a big hit). Then again, Halt and Catch Fire is a show I’m really enjoying yet it seems no one cares for it. It was put out there as the next big thing on AMC, basically as the next Mad Men and no one gave a hoot. So who knows?

  • Jonathan Soens

    The “surf and watch” thing is too true. That’s a sticky subject in my house.

    Any time I try watching something good with my wife, once she starts asking me to rewind it because she missed something, or once she asks a question that makes it obvious she hasn’t been paying attention to basic plot points, I usually give up on watching it with her anymore.

    My wife’s inability to tear herself away from her phone/tablet/laptop screen is 100% of the reason why she still watches absolute garbage any time she picks a TV show or movie, and why she can’t seem to follow good storytelling.

    Unless she has the on-the-nose musical cues she gets from the worst kinds of programming (soap operas for dumb teens or reality shows), she can’t follow anything. She needs whimsical, tinkly piano music to tell her somebody is being goofy or irreverent. She needs dramatic music to tell her when something emotional is happening. She needs the music to completely drop out to let her know that somebody just committed a big awkward faux pas, and people are about to get catty.

    If she can’t follow based purely on casually listening to musical cues in the background, then the show hasn’t been dumbed-down enough for her.

    Of course, she’s smart enough to follow good storytelling when she pays attention. She just never wants to pay attention.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      I surf on my tablet during commercials, except HBO and Showtime shows don’t have them. So for those I watch without touching or looking at the tablet or phone.

  • Hadley’s Hope

    “A fear with a script like this though is that potentially its written merits are irrelevant, and the market for fantasy shows is saturated right now. Potentially as in the form of a market of literally one fantasy property at a time.”

    While I try out many different shows, both on TV or through something like Netflix, I do fear what you say is true. Especially for sci-fi and fantasy. I don’t know what it is. It seems people will watch cops/detectives, lawyers, and medical dramas until the cows come home, but more than one space opera or horror show in the same season? That seems like a much harder thing to make a go of, especially if there is already a super-popular show in that sub-genre on the air and into multiple seasons.

    “They are also like drugs in that for if you have found your thing and are happily strung out on it, you don’t have much interest trying in any others.”

    I pity anyone attempting to mount a zombie show in the wake of The Walking Dead. Is there even a point in trying to do that now?

    • charliesb

      There are actually a couple of other Zombie shows on (or in the works) – In the Flesh, Z Nation – at the end of the day, good TV is good TV. We’ll watch True Detective even though it’s another cop show, because it’s good (though Carson disagrees) television. Finding a new angle, casting great actors or finding that unique and engaging character arc/story is more important than the genre for television.

      • Hadley’s Hope

        In the Flesh looked interesting. That one is a BBC production or from the UK?

        You’re right. I’m probably just over-worrying. Find a story concept you love, populate with well drawn characters, then write it while not forgetting to have fun with the whole darn process.

        I suppose the network/studio exec, producer, and script reader mentality often wanders into my head. We always hear how this is hot while this other genre is dead (until it isn’t). They deal in concepts and trends, while writers deal more in character and setting. Sure we need to be aware of how marketable our concepts are, but at the end of the day a lot also comes down to luck and timing. I’d hate to spend a ton of time writing about something that doesn’t interest me, just because I “think” it is marketable and what will be able to sneak past the gatekeepers.

        • charliesb

          I always try to start with that character that I love and then see if their story can be made with a higher or “hookier” concept, sometimes it’s not as hard as it seems. If you look at Breaking Bad, the concept is actually pretty simple: man dying of cancer needs a way to make money for his family after he’s gone. There are so many ways that could have gone (and probably still have found some success) that don’t include cooking meth in an RV in the middle of the desert.

          The Leftovers is similar. A show about people dealing with the deaths of their loved ones has the potential to be interesting. But swapping out these deaths with a quasi rapture, makes it “high concept” and a much easier sell.

          At the end of the day. People watch tv, because they fall in love with, (or sometimes love to hate) the characters. We tune in week after week because we connect with these people and their stories in a way that a two hour experience in the theater is rarely able to produce.

          Last week someone in the comments was talking about the show Spartacus. The show was often over the top, filled with gratuitous and often ridiculous sex and violence, but IMO was one of the best character pieces I have seen on television in a long time. Especially the first season. After watching it, I feel like I can create full character descriptions of each of the main characters and many of the secondary ones as well. Each character felt solid and fully formed with back stories, wants, needs, insecurities etc. For a show that seemed to be about boobs and beheadings it paid an extreme amount of detail to character design.

          Basically what I’m saying is I don’t think it has to be one or the other, you can take less flashy characters and build a world around them that features a higher concept hook, or you can take an extremely high concept show and still populate it with characters that are complex and feel real. When it comes to TV character is everything.

          • Nicholas J

            Last week someone in the comments was talking about the show Spartacus.

            That was probably me!

            IMO was one of the best character pieces I have seen on television in a long time.

            The character work is pretty damn good, isn’t it? I love how they design the arena battles to be the culmination of major events for many different characters, and not just the ones who are fighting. And since there is always a lot riding on the fights, it elevates them (and the show in general) to more than just mindless violence.

          • andyjaxfl

            I’ve only seen Season 1 of Spartacus and loved it. I was expecting a cheap 300 knockoff and ended up with something much richer than most are willing to give it credit for. I’ve had a hard time restarting it since Andy Whitfield passed away though…

          • Nicholas J

            Ha, I made nearly that exact same comment the other week. Since then I’ve started Season 2 Gods of the Arena and like it a lot so far.

          • andyjaxfl

            I’m going to move it to the top of the ol’ Netflix queue.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            Me too. I’ve seen a few episodes of the first season, and liked what I saw so far.

          • charliesb

            I cannot rave about this show enough. I know they are replaying it on Syfy channel (not sure where you live) but I did read that a lot is being cut.

            The first couple episodes of Season One are a little weak, but from “That thing in the Pit” on it’s amazing.

            It’s a great example of making your protagonist and your antagonist likeable. Ultimately you want Spartacus to win, but you can’t help but enjoy every moment Batiatus is on screen.

            The same thing happens in Season 3 (the second strongest season) Crassius is a force, he’s intelligent, honourable and a great fighter and leader. If you’re familiar with the story of Spartacus you know how it turns out, but watching these two match wits is still very entertaining right up until the final blow.

          • Hadley’s Hope

            I have a few TV ideas. One with a big ass high concept hook and mystery box, but no characters just yet. Another with a pretty good hook and an interesting main character. A third idea with a good balance of both high concept and character. I really like the first “high concept” idea though. Just need some characters. I’ll have to let it simmer in the old brainpan for a bit.

  • Nicholas J

    In the script I read they do through flashbacks.

  • Breezy

    Everything is compared to Game of Thrones for one reason or the other. I read a review where the journalist says Legend of Korra is like a Game of Thrones for kids. Another compares celebrated anime Shingeki no Kyojin to Game of Thrones for its nihilistic theme.
    Sup with these bloggers and journalists?
    Next I’ll hear how some hot new show is reminiscent of Game of Thrones because it has wolves in its first episode. It’s at the forefront of everybody’s mind.

    • Hadley’s Hope

      Seinfeld is like Game of Thrones with comedy and commercials. Except instead of trying to gain power over other lords and nobles houses, they don’t really do much of anything.

      Rome on HBO was a good show as well. It was Game of Thrones before there was Game of Thrones.

      • Breezy

        This ‘game’ show is notorious

    • Gregory Mandarano

      My tv pilot is like game of thrones, and it has wolves in the first episode. :-D

  • Breezy

    This is on the OT but somehow seems appropriate…
    Old vid on nazism in the English language.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    I enjoyed the ASOIAF books so much, that they inspired me to write my own fantasy novel.

  • Malibo Jackk

    (can’t seem to stay on topic)

    There was a guy on this site who talked about his King David script some time ago.
    Ha ha he he ho ho. Who would buy a script like —
    Ok. A KING DAVID script sold. To be produced by Ridley Scott.
    (written by Jonathan Stokes)
    Was wondering? Same guy? Different guy?

    Not sure what to think.

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey Malibo-

      Is this it…

      “I agree (in general) that 130 pages is a red flag, but that’s not ALWAYS the case. My 130 page script on the life of King David is the best thing I’ve ever written (according to my rankings in Nicholl) and that only covered like the first 15 years of his reign!!”

      From the writer of Dark Matter, which had its AF review on 3-17-14.

      **Looks like two different writers to me.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Haven’t heard from the x-man in a while.
        Admire anyone who tackles big ideas
        — whether it be DARK MATTER or KING DAVID.