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    Fan Fiction
    #1
    Senior Member KurtF's Avatar
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    Here's a piece I wrote for fun back in 2015. It's a Spiderman script, which I originally thought would follow the Andrew Garfield films, hence Spiderman being older, going to college, etc. The Tom Holland films have gone in a different direction, putting our hero back to high school age, and so this piece doesn't really fit anymore. Still, I had fun writing it, and thought folks here might get a chuckle and maybe see some technique that might be useful, i.e. - dialog, using broken scene descriptors to indicate edits, and the overall flow of character and plot to build tension.

    Drums of the Hunter.pdf

    Enjoy and feel free to comment and critique. This material is all based on characters owned by a major studio. Consider it a work of fan fiction. Thanks.
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    Senior Member KurtF's Avatar
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    Wow; 700 views and zero comments. Tough room! LOL.
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    Rockin the Boat
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    You just found out that people don't like to read ? Many people ask for feedback on their script/video - and some get offended by criticism... I always remind them - or if they didn't know, inform them - of this reality. Nobody likes to read - executives don't like it, agents don't like it, and even creatives don't like it (Warren Beatty hates reading screenplays - and those are screenplays submitted to him for a role!). So you are g-d lucky that anyone bothered to read, and comment, and you are offended?? Are you out of your mind?? What execs and agents do is push it off on their poor assistants to read and do coverage, and then half the time the agent or exec will skim the coverage not even reading that fully. Last year I had a conversation with a very high level exec (VP of a big production company) and he told me how he reads scripts. Now, mind you, by the time the script reaches him, it's been vetted by multiple people - he isn't reading trash or some random submission. The biggest takeaway? SKIPPING. That's what happens. Dense paragraphs of text in a screenplay? SKIP. More than 4 lines in a paragraph or in a dialogue spoken by a character? SKIP. He sees a full page of descriptions, even if it's in paragraphs of 2-3 lines? SKIP. So you know why so many successful screenplays look like swiss cheese - pages with single lines interspersed with sparse dialogue. It gets worse. If he kinda thinks he knows where the scene is going? SKIP. And the most brutal? Often it'll go like this - read first 2-3 pages, SKIP 20 pages, read a page see if it grabs, no - SKIP another 30, or just go straight to the last 2 pages. Now, I write - so I fully understand how dismaying it is for a writer to work hard on a screenplay and carefully consider all kinds of things and diligently pick words and so on - and then the exec/producer/agent basically SKIP over the whole thing.

    And you know what? Even though I write, and understand all the effort that goes into it... I too skip. But it's a time issue. Unless a screenplay grabs me with an iron grip in the first 1-2 pages, I will simply not go on. I put it down and move on.

    The same with movies - and this is distributed movies, I'm not talking about some movie someone shot and is submitting - there are thousands of them. Within 5 minutes or less I will move on if it doesn't grab me. Sometimes I bail already during opening titles. Just a small example from yesterday - I bailed on all these within minutes - Shaft (2019), The Poison Rose, A Host of Sparrows, Blitz, Angel Face, Escape Plan. Here's a little experiment that I run from time to time - I ask myself "what if I'm wrong and the film/script gets better?", so I deliberately watch a film or read a script to the end. So far - and I've done this for a long, long time - I have yet to be wrong. You develop experience, you know what you like, you recognize the tell-tale signs of suckitude and you just get good at evaluating in super fast time.

    And isn't this true for pretty much everybody? Doesn't everybody bail on films, books, whatnot? Unless you're trapped in a theater - and I've left those too (although not often).

    Now you say 700 views. But how many of those actually downloaded your script? I bet you very few. Because PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO READ. And of those that downloaded it, how many read to the end? So is it surprising that you get no comments.

    But here, see, you wrote an additional post, and I decided to bite.

    I downloaded it.

    I read 2 pages. I bailed. Why - first, this is really not a genre I am into, mostly because it's rare that I find a good one (Batman 1987, The Dark Knight, Deadpool - those are exceptions). So already the script was facing an uphill battle.

    Page 1 - I read the first two paragraphs. Then I hit the 3rd, and my eyes started glazing over... I'm really not interested in intricate little details of gobs of glue and lines of webbing and... snore. Give me some frakking reason to go on, examining spittle like stuff close up - no. I read on - spider moving, snore, moving - now going BACK UP - I'm about to give up. I don't enjoy spending my movie time watching a fly walking about either... unless it's under tremendous tension in a super stylish movie: opening scene Once Upon A Time In The West. Here there's no tension for me, or reason that I can see why I should follow a bug's progress. YOU GAVE ME NO REASON. Sergio Leone did. But OK, keep reading. Spiderman is sleeping?? So am I - reading this. How the heck is that inspiring that Spiderman is asleep?? Snooze. This is not a strong opening. The convo in the cruiser is not interesting - standard, blah. They take off and BANG Spiderman on the head, thus waking him up... terrible. That's just a terrible Spiderman. He takes off, on a new mission, but I don't care anymore because I doubt this sleepy Spiderman is going to be inspiring or those cops are going to anything interesting, given how expected and boring their conversation is. And so I bailed.

    So - honest feedback. Read 2 pages. Explained why.

    Honestly hope this was helpful. Best of luck.


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    Senior Member KurtF's Avatar
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    Very helpful. Honesty is the best policy. And no, I don't mind the criticism. Thanks.
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    Fantastic. You have the right attitude. And because of that, I'm gonna do you a solid. When I was just starting out, I wished someone would re-write my stuff to illustrate how things could be done. So that's what I've done for you - I've taken those two pages I've read, and I've done my version.

    So I tried to follow your design as closely as possible, but in such a way that it would make me want to read it instead of bailing. I compressed your 2 pages into 1 page and a paragraph. I wrote it in Final Draft, so it's formatted correctly to be 1 page plus one paragraph on page 2, and I copy and pasted it here, adding page numbers on top:

    PAGE 1

    FADE IN:


    EXT. NEW YORK CITY - BUILDING ROOFTOP - NIGHT

    The rooftop neon sign flashes randomly, in broken
    spelling of long lost meaning.

    A razor blade stuck in base of the sign reflects the
    flickering light. A spider is moving precariously along
    the blade, slices off a leg and falls. A long way down...

    EXT. BUILDING FIRE ESCAPE STAIRCASE - CONTINUOUS

    ...it plops on the face of SPIDERMAN, lying sprawled
    awkwardly on the landing of the building fire escape.

    Spiderman comes to. He gets up with difficulty, grimacing
    in pain as he puts weight on his injured leg. He touches
    the back of his head, looks at his hand - blood.

    The window of the apartment opens and two cops, GIANT
    COP and COP TWO, 40’s, climb out onto the fire escape.

    GIANT COP, seven feet tall, is holding what looks like a
    firehose attached to a big backpack. He sees Spiderman.

    GIANT COP
    Police..! Stop..!

    But Spiderman vaults over the side, holding onto the
    railing and swings onto the landing below.

    GIANT COP immediately leans over and opens a valve - a
    massive flame shoots from the flamethrower, with Spiderman
    barely escaping as he tumbles down the staircase.

    The cops give chase. Spiderman shoots a web toward the
    next building staircase and swings away.

    The cops look around disoriented. They didn’t see how
    Spiderman disappeared. They look at each other.

    GIANT COP (CONT’D)
    He didn’t buy that we were cops.

    His partner, fake Cop Two, tugs on Giant Cop’s uniform
    and gives him a meaningful look. The uniform is much too
    small. He looks like he’s wearing kid’s clothes.

    PAGE 2

    EXT. NEW YORK CITY - BUILDING ROOFTOP - NIGHT
    Spiderman is looking for something on the rooftop. He spots a small silver revolver, and a woman’s purse.


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    Commentary and Explanation.

    As you can see, I cut the initial descriptive paragraphs. I do the setting in one sentence. I prefer a rooftop instead of a random alley as you have it - much more NY with a chance to see the cityscape - and the neon sign is not of an anonymous business as you have it, but a broken flashing one, giving us an immediate feeling of urban alienation, crime and grit. One sentence. Boom, done. It screams NY - cityscape from rooftop and fire escapes - yours could be set in Philadelphia. Then I get to the spider - I don't follow him aimlessly up and down a bunch of lovingly described snot - I immediately stick him onto a razor blade - now I watch him with tension... and he loses a leg! and falls! Something happened to the damn bug. And he fell to wake up Spiderman. The bug had a function it woke up spiderman - what function did your bug have? And irony - a spider woke up Spiderman. And my spider had - symbolism - he lost his leg, Spiderman has an injured leg, both fell. My bug had a reason for being - what about yours? I also followed your design with Spiderman being out - only mine is knocked out, yours is sleeping... tell me, which sounds more appealing? In one case I've immediately set up a mystery as to how he got injured - your superhero is a sleepy joe, no thanks, way too passive. You have two cops in a cruiser. I have to cops - who are characters - one a giant! - and they're not in a cruiser munching on burgers, but popping out of a window with a flamethrower. And TWIST - they are not even real cops. Which set of cops sounds more interesting? Your cops engage with Spiderman super passively and accidentally - they don't even know it. Mine confront him with a flamethrower, hunting him ("Drums of the Hunter"), wanting him dead. Which is more involving, do you think? And all on page one. I have set everything in motion, and I don't even need page two - but I gave it one paragraph - setting up another mystery with a sexual connotation and violence - woman, gun, crime - purse.

    My aim was to immediately involve the reader - I've set up several points of interest - why was Spiderman injured - I WANT TO KNOW. Why is he being hunted by two cops - I WANT TO KNOW. The cops are FAKE and vicious, have a flamethrower - I WANT TO KNOW who they are. And what is the deal with the gun, and woman's purse abandoned on top of a New York building - I WANT TO KNOW!

    Note the contrast - my one page has already swung into action with a massive three back stories - Spiderman's injury, Fake Cops hunting him, woman's purse and gun. What have you set up? Nothing. Spiderman is sleeping(!!!). The bumbling cops merely wake him up - not even knowing it, and why does he need to be woken up?? He starts swinging into action finally - following a cop car that got a call. Tell me what pulls you in more, and what makes you want to keep reading. We've learned nothing from your set up. With mine, we have several urgent mysteries - that need solving because they imply violence we've witnessed (toward Spiderman - his life is in danger!), and violence implied (toward Spiderman - his injury; and woman's abandoned purse and gun). All in one page and one paragraph. You took two full pages to... what? What you basically did is to say "here's another day for Spiderman", and "wait for more pages to get to the meat of what's happening in THIS episode/movie". It was an intro of sorts that introduced nothing, but a sleeping superhero. We learned nothing, but used up two pages.

    We can also discuss mood and tone. Yours is jokey - with, to be honest, pretty low key "humor". I prefer to set up something darker, grittier and more urban-crime-danger.

    Again, this is just something that I whipped up quickly for the sake of illustration, following your design closely - neon light, spider, Spiderman out, Spiderman swinging into action. But as you can see, even the same design can be done differently. In one case a reader bails, in the other, keeps reading because they have mysteries that need solving!

    The cardinal rule of all art - whatever it is - is to ENGAGE the audience! Ask yourself - did you engage the audience? Which of these versions engaged the audience? And that's your answer.
    Last edited by OldCorpse; 06-30-2019 at 04:38 PM.


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    Senior Member KurtF's Avatar
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    Ok, a lot to absorb. Let me try to some up:

    1 - No Passives. No passive characters, situations, or story elements. If it isn't aggressively moving the story forward, fix it or loose it.
    2 - Nobody reads - so, short, punchy sentences. Engage the audience from the start, and engage multiple ways.

    I'll try to fold that into my work. I do tend to clear my throat a bit before I get rolling. Thanks for the example and the commentary. Very useful information, and not just for me, I'm sure.
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    This is not a good place to get people to read or comment on scripts. Go to a script writing forum or better yet, go find a local script writing group on Meetup and get a face-to-face workshop for your script


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    Quote Originally Posted by KurtF View Post
    Ok, a lot to absorb. Let me try to some up:

    1 - No Passives. No passive characters, situations, or story elements. If it isn't aggressively moving the story forward, fix it or loose it.
    2 - Nobody reads - so, short, punchy sentences. Engage the audience from the start, and engage multiple ways.

    I'll try to fold that into my work. I do tend to clear my throat a bit before I get rolling. Thanks for the example and the commentary. Very useful information, and not just for me, I'm sure.
    Yes, at a minimum, that would be of benefit. There are of course other heuristics, like the advice often given to screenwriters regarding the story or a scene - get in as late as possible into it, and get out as soon as possible. That means you’ll always be in the middle of the action. I don’t want to hear how the universe was built and then how life came about on the earth and how humans evolved and how Bob and Alice were born and only then what the argument between Bob and Alice was about. I want to get to the scene when the argument is already raging! And I don’t want to stay in the scene until Alice and Bob die and then the earth is consumed by the sun, and then there’s the heat death of the universe. Get in as late as you can stand it, and get out as soon as you possibly can - that way you engage them immediately and keep them hanging on to see what happens next.

    But perhaps one could boil it all down to even a simpler directive - “ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE”. It seems commonsensical, but properly understood, it reveals its power. Basically, whatever you do, even at the idea stage, you just keep asking that question - does it engage the audience? And if the answer is “no”, think of why “no” and how do you turn that into a “yes” - it could be through coming up with a new idea, or through modifying the idea, doesn’t really matter, your aim is always to get a “yes” in answer to that question. The mistake people make, is in thinking that engagement will come later - and so when asked “does it engage” they’ll answer “that’s coming!” And that’s the wrong answer - it’s only yes, or no, not “later” or anything else. “Later” is how you get to, as you put it - very eloquently, btw.! - “throat clearing”. Throat clearing is not something I want to hear - imagine that a singer is going to serenade you, and you’re listening to the CD full of anticipation. Can you imagine if the first thing you heard is “harrumph” “haarrr, tfu!” and only then the first notes. Terrible! Unacceptable! Same here. So keep asking that question “is it engaging” constantly, and only accept yes/no answers and act accordingly.

    A film - novel - music - those are linear art forms. You go from one moment in time to the next. If every moment you present is engaging to the audience, then when you string it together you’ll have engaged the audience 100% of the time. Aim for that.

    This is sometimes misunderstood as everything having to be a non-stop car chase and explosions. Err, no. “Engage” is just that - involve the audience. Clearly, you can involve the audience through other means than an explosion! Yes of course you can have “quiet openings”. Of course. But it must still contain something that engages. The other thing is setting expectations. Say a movie starts with someone sleeping - and... that’s all that happens... for like 5 hours! Guess what - it can work! That’s in fact the entirety of the Andy Warhol movie “Sleep”, that shows a man sleeping for 5 hours and 21 minutes. It’s an art film - and guess what, people watched it, and screened it at parties and it worked. Because going in, you knew it was an art film, so your expectations were set right. Doing the same film and misleading people to think it’s an action film, and you’d have riots at the ticket booth of people demanding their money back. Same film, different genres, different expectations, different outcomes. That was one reason I didn’t like Spiderman sleeping for no reason that I could see.

    Your audience entrusts you with their time. It’s a privilege. Be respectful of their time, and give them every reason to be happy that they gave you their time. Engage them.


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