Thread: The First Night

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    Quote Originally Posted by dtroop506 View Post
    It's okay everybody. I can clear this whole thing up with two words.

    Bad reefer.
    Hahahaha. Nice.

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    Senior Member STYLZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Las Vegas, Nv
    I'll be honest, I didn't get the Alien content either. I thought "this must be an exhibition entry" which was solidified by the 9 page length. Thought it was a well executed horror short. As such...I love the style and I'm not even into horrors that much. So on that note. Good job.

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    Senior Member Russell Moore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    West Michigan
    I found your writing style easy to read, the descriptive blocks of text broken up well, setting a nice pace and I got all the information I needed in a nice concise manner.

    I wasn't sure what was going on all the time, but sometimes that's a good thing. The first transition from her bedroom Day to her bedroom Night was a little confusing, because I was under the impression they were leaving, so it could be that night, so what night was it? Maybe it was just me.

    I'm a sucker for weird, creepy events, so I got sucked into Shelby's little horror trip. I do wish there was some element of the story that indicated that there was alien involvement, it felt more demonic or supernatural. But I always like it when someone gets a machete in the head. Thanks.
    the writer formerly known as "Conlan Forever"

    Need a short script?
    Have an idea? Want to collaborate? Contact me.

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    Thanks for reading. Appreciate the comments.

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    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Wherever I hang my head in despair
    We'll jump right in ...

    This …


    A framed array of artwork line the walls, partially
    concealing the water stains that leak out like veins.

    Do you mean an array of framed artwork? Drop ‘the’ from water stains – and water stains don’t leak. They are the result OF a leak. Lose the ING.

    Maybe …


    An array of framed artwork line the walls, partially
    conceal vein-like water stains.

    This …

    Unlit candles on every table top and about the floor, lining the edges of every wall.

    How many table tops are there? This is a bedroom, so maybe say ‘surface’. Also, you used ‘line’ in the first block, so look for another word here – or there. Maybe use cover the walls.

    Let’s switch ‘line’ for cover and drop array. It’s inferred.


    Framed artwork covers the walls, partially conceal vein-like water stains. Unlit candles on every surface and along the baseboards.

    34 words down to 19.

    This …

    SHELBY(17) digs through a pile of clothing on the bed.
    Tossing each article carelessly about the room.

    Toss the ING on toss, trim the fluff to get …

    SHELBY(17) digs through a pile of clothes on the bed, scatters it.

    I took out ‘room’ since the slug covers that info.

    So, your opening text (before the first dialogue) added up to 51 words. This is 31.

    This …

    MARGE(42) stands at the doorway. Shelby’s mother, tall and

    LYLE(11), Shelby’s younger brother joins them.

    Are they wearing tags that say MOM and LITTLE BROTHER? Remember, a script is written for a viewing audience. DO NOT write for a reader.

    When writing a screenplay, you need to keep two things in mind: cinematic vision, and all the folks that need to access the script for information on where to pull cable, where to set up lights and a boom, what color of cloth to buy, and how much hair fluff to bring.

    Onward …

    Should be ‘in’ the doorway. And keep your physical intro stuff together.

    Like this …

    MARGE(42) tall and thin, stands at the doorway.

    LYLE(11), joins them.

    I see this catywumpas intro biz a lot. A good ‘rule of thumb’ is to keep physical characteristics together (age, size, race, piercings, scars, etc), and mannerisms/actions/habits, etc together (leans, scratches, trembles, sloppy dresser, suave, slutty, nail biting, etc)

    From there you can add nuances to really drive home a visual on what this person might look or be like (like Melvin in 'As Good as it Gets' a real pain in the ass to everyone he’s met)

    This …

    Shelby doesn’t respond.

    Mom, she isn’t listening.

    This is redundant. Lyle pretty much tells the viewing audience that Shelby isn’t responding, so have Shelby do something different.

    Shelby tosses a few more clothes.

    Mom, she isn’t listening.

    This …

    Shelby throws a glare Lyle’s way.
    Marge stops, turns to Shelby.

    How does one throw a glare? Marge stops? Stops what? Standing? And wasn’t she already facing Shelby? Did she change positions when Lyle said four words?

    Hmmm. Try …

    Shelby snarls.

    That’s all you need. I have a clear picture in my head.

    Again I will harp on this ‘write for the viewer, not the reader’ bit. If you tell me Marge is standing in the doorway, addressing Shelby – and this is JUST BEFORE Lyle showed up - then a few seconds later she’s turning to face Shelby, I have to stop the film I had going in my head and get everyone back into position. Arg.

    This …

    Shelby’s defiance lightens. Replaced by a softer shock. Lyle adopts the same look.

    A softer shock? Not sure what you mean. Also, you use UP 5 words to tell me Lyle does the same.

    This …

    Marge moves down the steps.

    What steps? Are their steps in the bedroom? I’m the lighting dude or dudette standing here with an armload of cable and some lights trying to figure out where the steps are, and I’m thinking to myself ‘who’s the ass that wrote this thing?’

    I think you meant to add a slug here. Marge would likely be INT. UPSTAIRS HALL

    This …


    This is called an ASIDE. Avoid them when possible. I think in over 200 shorts and 50 features I have only used it twice. Once was like this …

    ASIDE: the following conversation is in French, subtitles

    This way I didn’t need to do (In French, subtitles) after every character heading (there were 20).

    The other was …

    ASIDE: dance choreography by LV

    Not reading ahead in your script, my first thought is there is a creative and cinematic SOLUTION to this. If not, then simplify to ...

    ASIDE: Shelby's dialogue is V.O.

    This …

    Shelby opens her eyes and looks about. A sea of blackness.

    In my mind’s eye I see this blackness moving beyond the walls of the bedroom. Yes?

    This …

    Her eyes shut. A faint crackling is heard. Spurious. She
    breathes heavier. Opens her eyes. A sea of blackness.

    Her eyes shut? Do they have minds of their own?

    This …

    A siren blares. An unbearable screech. Panicked. Desperate.

    The siren is panicked and desperate?

    I like the way you broke this into short, choppy bits, as I think it will create a cadence similar to Shelby’s breathing, and is very effective. Maybe add …

    A siren blares. An unbearable screech. Shelby blinks. Panicked. Desperate.

    This way you give your adjectives to whom they belong.

    This …

    Shelby cannot control her breathing.

    This is a classic tell, don’t show slip-up. Dump this for something visual.

    This …

    The sound cuts off as sudden as it began.

    What sound? Do you mean the siren? Maybe just say the siren stops. ‘As sudden as it began’ really adds nothing. It’s clear it was a short burst.

    Here again …

    Shelby’s eyes open.

    Are the eyes in control here? Always try to keep an agent causing something to move or change shape, direction, etc (active tense). If I read ‘the door closes’ I am wondering by who or by what. Think static and kinetic. Kinetic needs an agent - most of the time anyways. In a suspense, you would use someting like 'the door creaks open' so to create mystery. 'A plane falls from the sky', 'leaves fall from the tree', etc. Or you could say 'A breeze blows leaves from the tree' to create a clear agent.

    Try ...

    Shelby opens her eyes.

    This …

    The visage of a forsaken realm. A fog of darkness trailing
    as far as the eye can see. No horizon in sight.

    This part is redundant …

    Trailing as far as the eye can see. No horizon in sight.

    Not sure I can envision ‘a fog of darkness’ A shroud, maybe.

    Try …

    A forsaken realm shrouded in darkness.

    If it’s dark, there will no horizon or ‘as far as the eye can see’ to see.

    This …

    Shelby tries to slow her breathing.

    Can be Shelby calms.

    Going forward, there is lots and lots of this. Unclear explanations using far too many words and prose to convey a visual sequence of events.

    Like this …

    Shelby screams and cries, but her pleading reaches no ear.

    This belongs in a novel.

    Okay. Read it. Where are the aliens? In her dream? Lost me.

    I think this could be chopped to 5 pages and be far more effective. The over and over of the screaming and and screeaching and now louder and now softer and louder again is endless. It loses its punch when it's overdone. There is power in silence.

    And things like this …

    Fenced yard door jarred open,
    violently dislodged from its hinges.

    Followed by …

    She walks past the gate

    Then …

    The backyard door lies devastated on the floor, leaving only the gaping doorway.

    Is the gate and the fenced yard door and the backyard door the same thing? One is ‘violently dislodged from its hinges, another ‘lies devastated on the floor’. Really? I can see Shelby lying on the floor, devastated. But the door?

    This …


    She pleads. Over and over.


    She can see candles lighting the room, and a glimpse of a

    Lyle is a HE. Is ‘she’ pleads a tipo? You follow the second Lyle HE with She sees a candle. It’s a typo or pronoun confusion. If you move from a male dialogue to a female action, then intro the female by name.

    Like this ...


    Shelby can see candles lighting the room, and a glimpse of a body.

    In all, I just didn't get what this was about. I think it opens with a clear direction, but then goes off in some dream tangent. What caused it? The stress of changing locations?

    I would really like to see you develop solid cinematic dicipline when writng. The way you can match dialogue and text with the rhythm of the story works very well. I don't see it often in writers. Just don't bury that big plus in sea of gibberish.

    Last edited by alex whitmer; 06-29-2012 at 07:45 AM.

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