critique advice/feedback - first steps into the story

Basically I have lots of ideas and at times it gets really hard - the lines between reality and fantasy/fiction. The automatic/ouija writing part is what drives you insane. It's unpredictable, it's scary, but at the same time it's beautiful. It's true creative freedom and flow. But like I said it's unpredictable. At times it's hard to believe that the things you write is part of you. It's like a whole different person is writing for you. I'm trying to find that balance between me having the control of writing and also learning to just let the story go itself. It's complicated, but I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about.

Here's the intro to screenplay - it's messy, not perfect, but I'm mostly just trying to get the idea out of main story. Like how to start the story, how to switch between scenes. How to make scenes visually fitting one after another. How to properly blend scenes together and not go to far into too much details of scenery changes and all that. Like not writing too much, but at the same time telling the exact emotion and view. You know what I mean. I have lots of pictures with the vibe or idea how it should look like, but I'm still struggling between the balance of screenplay and storyboard. Like how much one or another should tell and how they both should complement each other. I mean at times I wish I could just add picture to the screenplay, yet it be from my mind or real one. But I guess that part is left for storyboard.
So yeah, any advice would be appreciated and I hope you can get the idea from the story. It basically has a strange 1950, 1960 vibe to it that I'm still trying to capture fully. Also the poster picture is kinda conflicting with the main story vibe, but at the same time it fits. It's just that I can't really find the proper vibe or balance between - from the picture it looks like it's a scary one, but in the screenplay it's more like sunny. Overall it's a horror, but I don't know - I'm trying to make it in a strange way. Dark, but still bright. Messed up, but still not the typical way with showing everything right in the face. Less gore, but more mystic. It's a mess, it's a chaos, but that's the beauty of it. Right? :D
 

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onebaldman

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I don't want to download a PDF to my work computer, so could you just write a logline or synopsis about the plot?

If you haven't crafted one of those yet, sometimes doing that helps me explain my own stories to myself. Pretend you aren't confused, or worried about anything. Just write a logline, and see what takes shape.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Code:
Written by Susan Rainter
EXT. OUTSIDE THE STREET - SUNNY DAY
The place outside is modern, the 2000-2020’s, but with a
twist of old world feel outside.
Sun is shining, the weather is sweet. Typical day - people
going by, nothing much happening really. The JOHNNY is
walking on the side of a street, near a park that’s filled
with tree’s.
He keeps on going and going, till he suddenly stops.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE STREET -- CONTINUOUS
JOHNNY suddenly see’s a picture on the street. It’s black and
white with a visible tear of age, vintage style.
JOHNNY picks up the picture (CAMERA FOCUSED ON JOHHNY FROM
BACK AS HE PICKS UP THE PICTURE, THEN SWITCHING TO SHOWING
PICTURE)
It’s a women - 1960, 1950’s type of classical. All hair grown
out, shining, natural.
As JOHNNY looks into the picture, he suddenly see’s a strange
movement. THE EYES are shaking/moving. It’s like they are
blinking back and reflecting the view from one side of the
world to another. THE INTERNAL PICTURE WORLD reflecting THE
REAL WORLD.
JOHNNY can’t believe the things he are seeing. He thinks it’s
a hallucination.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE STREET - SWITCHUP
Suddenly there’s a strange blur passing by JOHNNY’S eyes. THE
BLUR is comming from picture. It’s like THE PICTURE is
suddenly drifting and becoming alive.
*
CAMERA FILTER SLOWLY CHANGES IT’S COLOUR AND EVERYTHING
BECOMES KINDA BLACK AND WHITE, BUT WITH A BIT OF COLOUR. LIKE
TEXAS DESERT in 1960 movies, a bit of FEAR AND LOATHING IN
LAS VEGAS VIBE TO IT.
2.
*
As this strange sensation happens, suddenly THE WORLD outside
begins to change. It’s like time travel. Suddenly everything
becomes black and white, vintage style. There’s no type of
colour as we see in modern day. It’s a typical movie feel.
Classic country, desert colourish feel.
EXT. SWITCHUP TOWN
As the time and everything suddenly changes around - THE
PICTURE disappears. It’s falling into THE DUST, as being
followed by a strange BLUR to it. It’s like THE PICTURE fades
away and disappears.
JOHNNY (INTERNAL)
What the fuck was that?
Am I dreaming? Is this real?
FUCK (shouting loudly to himself)
This can’t be happening.
As JOHNNY is being surprised he suddenly remembers - this is
what he was thinking about, this is what he was dreaming
about all the time. It’s what he was writing about. It’s all
about what he was doing all the time.
It’s like suddenly all the fantasies become alive. It’s like
a twist between reality and fantasy. In his mind he thinks
he’s insane, but in reality he see’s THE WORLD as an old
place.
This is his reality for now, as he keeps on struggling to
adapting to it and accepting the fact that something
unexplainable just happened.
JOHNNY (INTERNAL) (CONT'D)
Fuck, damn, son, bitch ass
mothafucka.
I think I’m poppin beans our some
shit, but god damn son I’m trippin
ballsack.
Well... it is what is is lol.
I guess it’s time to find some
bitches or some shit idk bruh.
EXT. LOUD ALLEY OF HORSES
As JOHNNY keeps on walking and wondering, analysing what just
happened he remembers the face of the picture. He can’t quite
recall it, but if he saw it he recognize it in a minute.
2.
3.
JOHNNY (INTERNAL)
Who was she? Was she a ghost? Am I
being transported into some kind of
ghost world through the picture?
JOHNNY (INTERNAL VOICE 2) (CONT'D)
I think so...
Must be one hell of a trip though.
Well it is what is is, better of
dead then.
* LOST PICTURES
* PICKING UP/FINDING PICTURES AS STORY GOES ON
EXT. LOUD ALLEY OF HORSES - FAR AWAY DISTANCE SECTION
Meanwhile, as JOHNNY gathers his thoughts and looks up in
distance (CAMERA ANGLE CENTERED, FOCUSED ON JOHNNY LEFT,
MIDDLE SIDE OF THE SCREEN)
He lifts his head slowly and looks in distance
EXT. LOUD ALLEY OF HORSES -- CONTINUOUS
Scenery changes, as JOHNNY look in distance. Suddenly he
see’s a far away desert, surrounded by nothing.
* CAMERA SWITCHES BACK TO FRONT VIEW OF JOHNNY, LEFT/ MIDDLE
ANGLE.
Suddenly there appears a strange blur, human reflection on
the right side of screen, far away distance *
It’s a ghost, or atleast that’s what it seems to be, you
can’t really tell who is that, it has no face or anything.
Just a reflection of someone passing by slowly and
disappearing.
-------------------SCENE PART I ENDS--------------------------
3.
 
Thanks sfoster!
Actually when I start to think it's pretty hard to come up with a logline, because you can either make it sound mysterious or straight up. And in my case I don't know.
"Mysterious time travel journey through haunted pictures"
"What would you do if pictures came alive?"
"When it all melts - what do you see?
"When it all melts - can you see it?
or
"Can you see it?"
idk, the mystery part mixed with a decent poster could catch the vibe and eye of people, but then again I'm not sure how the story really goes or how it should go.
There's too many directions, but the main idea is that there are pictures that are haunted, people being stuck in pictures. Melting effect or the whole idea of it is that it can be simple picture, but with melting effect it suddenly becomes alive - eyes changing look direction, suddenly seeing different facial expression/vibe and so on..
It's really hard to put words together and drift from creative madness to technical side - at times it can make you realise that it's all just bunch of nonsense and it's not real, but then again it can become so alive that it just terrifies you and you truly believe that everything you write in screenplay is real.
 
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onebaldman

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Thanks for sharing @sfoster

Well, your uncertainties are coming across in this as well. So that piece you shared, that seems like a personal notes or journal entry, not an actual scrip or plot outline.

Take out all your questions to yourself in it, and explain the character a little more. There is no context for him, so when he talked... I literally laughed out loud. (Not in a rude way, it just seemed funny he would talk that way. Is he really dumb or not educated? Who talks like that when they are losing color from their world?) He doesn't fit in with the rest of the outline.

From what I can tell, you've got an interesting scene... He gets cursed by an old photograph, and transported into the photograph. But outside of that, what's the goal of the story? Is he going to be trapped in there? Is there a way out? Is the ghost a cursed soul? How long has the ghost been there? Is the ghost someone else looking at him after he disappeared from the other world???? And now they are looking at the photograph? Wouldn't that world be color?

You have a ton of development and backstory plotting to do before you worry about anything else.

Right now, all you have is a scene, but you are trying to develop your story around it. That's fine, but you have to make more scenes just as captivating and interesting that can tie in.

(This could also be a language thing. So I may be unable to help, because it says you are from Latvia. Is English a secondary language for you? If that's the case, it may just seem like your writing is different because you aren't explaining in a way I understand?)
 
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Yeah, character part was confusing for me too - story has a classy vibe to it, but character acts like a clown. Overall it feels like I'm writing explanation of something all the time without character dialogue.
Thanks! Will try to come up with more clear vision and update.

And yeah, English is my secondary language, sometimes I write way too poetic and philosophic, but overall it's fine. I get you, hope you get me :)
 
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Does movies really need to have character all the times? How about having a some kind of internal character that's now shown, but everyone can feel him. Like you are the character itself - the person who is watching it. It's strange, there are many ways to play around with it. In the end "the character" who's is not shown appears as a black silhouette from the back, no face shown - just a full blown mystery kept the whole time.
It just feels strange for character to appear in the first few stages of story, where he is still alone and haven't met rest of the characters. The dialogue part is the hardest.
 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Your lead character doesn't have to be in every scene, but that's why you develop supporting characters.

The only way of having interior monologue in a screenplay/movie (as far as I'm aware), is via voice over.
And that gets old fast.

So figure out who your other characters are, how they relate to your main character, and what everyone's goals are.

Then work from there.
 
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I think internal type of dialogue is more like video game type of thing. Like in Amnesia Dark Descent - you never really see character, you never really truly understand who he is. There's just pages and voices all over the game. You never really see any other characters, but you can feel the sensation of something unknown. I guess the unknown is the character itself in that case. Pretty twisted :D
 
Susan,
I read the piece and that's my frank impressions.
1. you have to decide the genre first. Horror, or romantic fantasy? The scenes in the draft may lead to both directions, but it is only you who can decide. So decide first.

2. There is a number of time travel movies and stories, starting from Wizard of Oz and Wells' Time machine, and once you put it in the script, it is a fantasy genre. I think personally that fantasy is quite hard to write because, unlike reality, you have to design the internal set of rules for the fantasy world (eg what can be done and what can't be done in the imaginary world) and adhere to it. Thats much harder, than staying in reality, because reality rules are pretty much given and you can focus on story alone (which is pretty hard too!). Fantasy, however, requires, as I mentioned, designing set of rules, in which the story develops, so it creates additional problems for script development.

3. Assuming you want to do the fantasy, you have to be be consistent with rules you wrote. Failure to be consistent with your own rules will ruin the story.

4. Time travel stories are inherently difficult to deal with because of the "butterfly" effect. Some writers do it to a great effect, but you will have to deal with continuity problems and parallel worlds (because of changed past). You'll have to design a way out of it. I recall a movie, called incidentally "Butterfly effect" :), which dealt with the problem and, in my opinion, masterfully, as they showed that the butterfly effect, indeed, ruins all possible worlds which are related with it, but the script writing conclusion is that starting from scenes in your PDF it definitely smells like a time travel story, in which time plays an exceptionally important role. I would recommend your South Korean TV series "W Two worlds" which covers a similar access to another world (not 60s, but modern time), a parallel world, with some great story, but even they had a great difficulty managing the issue of the parallel world.
 
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Thanks for advice!
Yeah, it's time travel, but more like from modern times to past, so it's one point time change. Then the story continues in different time, place, century etc. From there the environment changes as story continues - certain elements twist and distort the environment, so it feels like time travel in a way, but more like world view changes around while time stays the same.
 

onebaldman

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From what it sounds like, you are really focusing on the visuals more than the story.
While that works, especially when designing something just for style points... I know from experience style doesn't equal good compelling tales.

If you want to write scripts that will get made, focus more on the characters.

If you are just writing for mood/fun, focus on style is fine.

That might be why you are unsure where to go with this, because you haven't learned anything about your characters and their own personal stories before writing about the world?
 
Thanks sfoster!
Actually when I start to think it's pretty hard to come up with a logline, because you can either make it sound mysterious or straight up. And in my case I don't know.
"Mysterious time travel journey through haunted pictures"
"What would you do if pictures came alive?"
"When it all melts - what do you see?
"When it all melts - can you see it?
or
"Can you see it?"
idk, the mystery part mixed with a decent poster could catch the vibe and eye of people, but then again I'm not sure how the story really goes or how it should go.
There's too many directions, but the main idea is that there are pictures that are haunted, people being stuck in pictures. Melting effect or the whole idea of it is that it can be simple picture, but with melting effect it suddenly becomes alive - eyes changing look direction, suddenly seeing different facial expression/vibe and so on..
It's really hard to put words together and drift from creative madness to technical side - at times it can make you realise that it's all just bunch of nonsense and it's not real, but then again it can become so alive that it just terrifies you and you truly believe that everything you write in screenplay is real.
I like to think there are TWO kinds of loglines... Many moons ago, I came up with what I call, the COMPASS LOGLINE. A simple logline that keeps your writing on track with your story. You write it down, stick it in front of you and look at it every once in awhile as you write to help keep you ON TRACK.

Then there's the MARKETING LOGLINE which is more what you're doing here... Try not to use that to explain your story because you're not there yet and you also run the risk of hammering your story into place of a marketing outline which could easily take you to a different place ENTIRELY and not where you originally wanted to go.

What you've got here? At least to me? Is somewhat of a BRAIN DUMP. Some interesting things happen but so far? Not much of a story. I'm not much of an outliner myself but I always know what my basic story is going to be along with who's going to be my protagonist. If this is something you're planning on making in the future? You can obviously write it any way you want but if you're planning on eventually putting it out there in the market to sell? You're gonna have to tighten it WAY up. Lots of overwriting in there... Which is fine for a first draft. Whatever gets it out of your head and onto the page is always good but after you've banged out a first draft? You'll have to go back in and cut and compress like crazy.
 
Yeah, character part was confusing for me too - story has a classy vibe to it, but character acts like a clown. Overall it feels like I'm writing explanation of something all the time without character dialogue.
Thanks! Will try to come up with more clear vision and update.

And yeah, English is my secondary language, sometimes I write way too poetic and philosophic, but overall it's fine. I get you, hope you get me :)
Just a polite reminder that a script is not a poem, doesn't need to be written in poetic language etc. It is the story which may be poetic, but not the script itself, which is a series of condensed dialogues and description of actions - that description never looks like a poem, at least as far as I remember, it is more like: John fell as Alice entered the room :), now why John fell will be clear from the dialogue and scene description, perhaps the reason was that John liked Alice so much, maybe he was drunk as hell, or maybe Alice was his ex, looking for him to pay settlement money!

Second, what you have presented is not a story per se, but a kind of single scene. All those incredible twists and plots you mentioned are perhaps in your head, but not at all on the PDF :) so you have to realize that generally no one understand what you intend to do, and, thus no one is able to help you with any advise.

Thats' why outlines are so important, rather than a description of single cool scene without background or overall story arch, which itself is rather worthless.
 
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