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critique dissecting my short screenplay

so i'm new to screenwriting and i just wrote a very short screenplay and to improve i would LOVE if you guys could shred it into pieces. thanks for your time.
 
Hey Dan, there's some great writers here who can give you a real helping hand with your writing. I'm not an expert but can give you some of my initial thoughts.

First off, you could do with running a spell-checker over your work and also check the capitalization of your words.

The other main thing that stands out is the over-instructing in your descriptions. Take this piece for example -

"he starts drinking it while looking out the window. after a short while he sees VICTOR coming towards the coffee shop, he smiles and waves at him. victor enters and walks towards hector's table, then joins him."

It's not necessary for your story to describe every small detail like this. The Actor should be allowed the freedom to play out certain things as they see fit, does he need to drink from his coffee here for your story to work? Probably not. And certain things are redundant, we don't need to know he walks to the table, we will know he does that if he joins him at the table. Just as an example, you could write the same thing as -

Hector spots VICTOR through the window and waves. Victor enters and joins him at the table.

Also, avoid using actions in your (parentheticals). If the story needs an action, describe it in the Action segments. A lot of them like "(smiles)" and "(filled with joy)" could probably be left out altogether. The need to act it this way should come across in the dialogue.

The dialogue itself isn't too bad though in my opinion, although it could probably do with a bit of a polish. Keep going at it man!
 
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Hey Dan, there's some great writers here who can give you a real helping hand with your writing. I'm not an expert but can give you some of my initial thoughts.

First off, you could do with running a spell-checker over your work and also check the capitalization of your words.

The other main thing that stands out is the over-instructing in your descriptions. Take this piece for example -

"he starts drinking it while looking out the window. after a short while he sees VICTOR coming towards the coffee shop, he smiles and waves at him. victor enters and walks towards hector's table, then joins him."

It's not necessary for your story to describe every small detail like this. The Actor should be allowed the freedom to play out certain things as they see fit, does he need to drink from his coffe here for your story to work? Probably not. And certain things are redundant, we don't need to know he walks to the table, we will know he does that if he joins him at the table. Just as an example, you could write the same thing it as -

Hector spots VICTOR through the window and waves. Victor enters and joins him at the table.

Also, avoid using actions in your (parentheticals). If the story needs an action, describe it in the Action segments. A lot of them like "(smiles)" and "(filled with joy)" could probably be left out altogether. The need to act it this way should come across in the dialogue.

The dialogue itself isn't too bad though in my opinion, although it could probably do with a bit of a polish. Keep going at it man!
thanks for the feedback! it means a lot :) it will definitely help me improve.
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
Good advice from Jkds.

"He starts drinking" and "starts drinking" has no place in a screenplay.
You should write what is seen on the screen. He either is drinking or
he is not drinking. He is either eating or he is not eating. Try not using
"ing" when ever possible. "He drinks", "He takes a bite.", "He shoves a
fork full of pancakes in his mouth."

I agree with Jkds - you are over-writing. Try not to write too much
"business" for your characters. You dialogue is good. You just need
to clean up the screenplay. It's a very specific type of writing.
 
First off? As just a simple short script that one might direct on their own? I think what you have here is fine. I really don't know of any short scripts that get sold as specs. It may happen from time to time on a really low scale but it's not something writers tend to pay their bills with... i.e., it's mainly for fun and again... Probably something they hope to make on their own.

When you make a short OR feature film on your own? With your own money? You can damn well write your screenplay any way you want... There are no rules.

Having said that? You are asking us to shred this to pieces. Hopefully, it's to learn how to step it up a notch especially if you intend to eventually start writing feature specs. If NOT, then maybe we can all learn a little something anyway.

As @Jkds already pointed out, you definitely have some problems here... I looked at what you've written it as I would look at any feature spec script since you asked us to shred it to pieces.

Right off the bat? You don't give us anything about your master scene location except that it's a coffee shop and that it's morning. Normally? We'd expect a little bit of description of the PERSONALITY of said coffee shop. Is it like a Starbucks? Is it like a little Bohemian place that caters to locals? What kind of vibe does it give off?

Next? You're not Capitalizing the first letter of the words in your sentences. Sound trivial? It may but I know plenty of people in the industry who would look at this first page and toss the script without reading the rest of it just because you're not following basic English sentence structure.

After that? The format is incorrect. To me? It looks as though you have four blank lines under the master scene location heading. Traditional format says either two or three MAX with two being the usual number.

After that, HECTOR has no introduction other than he's just sitting there. You didn't give us even a glimpse of WHO Hector is.

In the same action paragraph, you keep using present progressive verbs i.e., sitting, eating, and eating (again). Here's the deal with present progressive verbs when it comes to screenwriting... When writing a spec screenplay that you intend to eventually send out to the market? It's always BEST to use the PERFECT action verb for a character's action. This may sound like I'm splitting hairs or that I'm being too nitpicky and? This would be true IF this short script was just something you were going to make on your own with some friends. In fact? Had you said anything like that? I wouldn't even chime in on the writing because it just doesn't matter.

When it comes to writing a spec screenplay however, it's best to use the PERFECT or MOST EVOCATIVE action verb for a character's action and actually write that verb using present tense. You've used sitting here but it's best to use sits. You've used eating in this script but it's best to use eats.

The next problem is all the misspelled words you've got in this thing. There's A LOT OF THEM. No offense but if you're going to ask us to look at something you've written, it's polite to rewrite and polish before asking us to take a look. This comes off like a very fast first draft to me and if that's true? It's not really ready for any of us to read. Just running a simple spell check would have made the read a little easier.

I get what you did at the end... Hector wrote the novel that he gave to Victor to read. That's your climax. Victor has no idea Hector wrote it and I imagine Hector was HOPING for a better review from his friend and didn't get it. I think as a short, this could work but it also feels like two heads talking here. Not really a lot going on.

I could keep going on but it would simply be to keep pointing out all the same kinds of problems I've already pointed out so why beat a dead horse.

Let me finish up by saying... I assume this is your first crack at writing any kind of screenplay so for that? I applaud you. You took action. You have a solid idea and you began fleshing it out and even more important? You stood up and shared it with people who can help you improve. I applaud that as well.

Bottom line?

All writing is rewriting. Good luck!
 
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First off? As just a simple short script that one might direct on their own? I think what you have here is fine. I really don't know of any short scripts that get sold as specs. It may happen from time to time on a really low scale but it's not something writers tend to pay their bills with... i.e., it's mainly for fun and again... Probably something they hope to make on their own.

When you make a short OR feature film on your own? With your own money? You can damn well write your screenplay any way you want... There are no rules.

Having said that? You are asking us to shred this to pieces. Hopefully, it's to learn how to step it up a notch especially if you intend to eventually start writing feature specs. If NOT, then maybe we can all learn a little something anyway.

As @Jkds already pointed out, you definitely have some problems here... I looked at what you've written it as I would look at any feature spec script since you asked us to shred it to pieces.

Right off the bat? You don't give us anything about your master scene location except that it's a coffee shop and that it's morning. Normally? We'd expect a little bit of description of the PERSONALITY of said coffee shop. Is it like a Starbucks? Is it like a little Bohemian place that caters to locals? What kind of vibe does it give off?

Next? You're not Capitalizing the first letter of the words in your sentences. Sound trivial? It may but I know plenty of people in the industry who would look at this first page and toss the script without reading the rest of it just because you're not following basic English sentence structure.

After that? The format is incorrect. To me? It looks as though you have four blank lines under the master scene location heading. Traditional format says either two or three MAX with two being the usual number.

After that, HECTOR has no introduction other than he's just sitting there. You didn't give us even a glimpse of WHO Hector is.

In the same action paragraph, you keep using present progressive verbs i.e., sitting, eating, and eating (again). Here's the deal with present progressive verbs when it comes to screenwriting... When writing a spec screenplay that you intend to eventually send out to the market? It's always BEST to use the PERFECT action verb for a character's action. This may sound like I'm splitting hairs or that I'm being too nitpicky and? This would be true IF this short script was just something you were going to make on your own with some friends. In fact? Had you said anything like that? I wouldn't even chime in on the writing because it just doesn't matter.

When it comes to writing a spec screenplay however, it's best to use the PERFECT or MOST EVOCATIVE action verb for a character's action and actually write that verb using present tense. You've used sitting here but it's best to use sits. You've used eating in this script but it's best to use eats.

The next problem is all the misspelled words you've got in this thing. There's A LOT OF THEM. No offense but if you're going to ask us to look at something you've written, it's polite to rewrite and polish before asking us to take a look. This comes off like a very fast first draft to me and if that's true? It's not really ready for any of us to read. Just running a simple spell check would have made the read a little easier.

I get what you did at the end... Hector wrote the novel that he gave to Victor to read. That's your climax. Victor has no idea Hector wrote it and I imagine Hector was HOPING for a better review from his friend and didn't get it. I think as a short, this could work but it also feels like two heads talking here. Not really a lot going on.

I could keep going on but it would simply be to keep pointing out all the same kinds of problems I've already pointed out so why beat a dead horse.

Let me finish up by saying... I assume this is your first crack at writing any kind of screenplay so for that? I applaud you. You took action. You have a solid idea and you began fleshing it out and even more important? You stood up and shared it with people who can help you improve. I applaud that as well.

Bottom line?

All writing is rewriting. Good luck!
wow, thank you for spending the time to help me. this was extremely helpful. yes this is my first attempt at a dialogue driven screenplay and thanks to you and the others who have commented i learned more than i thought i would. thanks again.
 
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