critique Feedback - Plot Development for a Love Short Story

Hello friends,

I am writing an original short story and would love some feedback. I know the formatting needs work, and the scenes are misplaced in places, but I will fix that in future revisions. What I am wondering is how to improve the STORY. I was hoping to make it a 10 minute short but I guess I could change the length if it improves the final screenplay.

I have "some" ideas but worry it would take away from the simple story I have created. I have a tendency to add too much fluff, especially in my dialogue. I really value the breadth of knowledge on this forum so any feedback would be amazing.

Also, some suggestions for a cool Logline or better Title are welcome!
 

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I thought about adding a scene before he comes into the yard sale:

Muriel is painting outside the nursing home and her son visits him. She is nearly finished it and doesn't have a frame. He tells her he will keep his eyes open for one....

Then I can have a logline such as:

"A son finds a frame for his elderly mother's painting, and opens a window into her past."

Something like that...
 
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1) First thing that doesn't feel right to me is why are we watching Robert drive his car? Is he LOOKING for a yard sale? Is this what he DOES? Or, is this a random event? What causes him to stop? Was it something in the yard? Was it because he loves to look for old things? Just wondering about this right off the bat.

2) Bradley checked himself into a nursing home a FEW days ago and this woman is already selling his shit? LOL. I've actually seen this happen several times in my life i.e., people dying... People going to the hospital or nursing home and nobody sold their stuff at a yard sale THIS FAST. Not that it's wrong but just doesn't FEEL right as I read it. It immediately made me feel an immediate DISLIKE for the Woman selling Bradley's stuff. And? If this is a very minor character (the Woman), then why go to the point of having me feel anything about her? That's wasted emotion. I'm not saying everyone will feel this way but these are the thoughts that immediately came to me as I was reading through.

3) You GOT me with Muriel being Robert's mother... Good one! Now I'm INTERESTED. The way you TRANSITIONED into that scene was very good. It actually took me a second or two to realize this is just Robert visiting his mother in a nursing home. I guess you could say it caught me OFF GUARD in a good way. The end of this scene is good too. It's obvious Muriel is the girl in the old picture yet, she doesn't want to admit it to her son. So NOW? We KNOW there's a STORY in here somewhere. Good job!

4) Not so sure about the ending... I think I get what you were going for i.e., that Robert's going to figure out a way to bring his mother, Muriel to Robert's nursing home and reunite them. To be honest? I kind of felt CHEATED here. I want to SEE that reunion after everything else I've read so I can FEEL GOOD about this story. I really didn't like Robert's WINK WINK attitude in this scene.

5) How to improve the story... If Robert is out looking at yard sales because that's what he does say... Like on Saturdays? I'd have him drive by a few and or even stop at a couple so you establish this isn't just some huge coincidence and that this is what he DOES. *NOTE: I just read your second post that sets up Robert looking for a frame. I think that will work fine and make this feel like less of a coincidence. I like the idea of Muriel painting too... Maybe she's painting a floral very similar to what Robert brings her? Just a thought.

5) I did not go into any of your dialogue or formatting or action sentences since you already know about those problems.

GOOD START!
 
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sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
i dont think that youre using locations correctly..

it starts off inside his car but that doesn't tell the producer where the car is or what we see out the windows... your script is starting off a bit frustrating because its impossible to produce without reading further ahead and then moving backwards and deducing the scenario.

Give us the information we need to film it right off that bat. ext residental street. dude is in his car.

And then what happens next? You tell us we are in the middle of the street but just a couple sentences into the scene and we are in someones yard for a yard scale. shouldn't this scene header be yard ? everything takes place in a yard and you've named your scene header after a street bc the dude has to park his car first before he walks there.

and yes you run the risk of an editor starting this scene with the dude looking at a painting and cutting out everything before that.
 
Thanks for the awesome feedback ... I am well on my way with a major rewrite:

To your points:
1) I will add a scene prior to him driving around ...visiting his elderly mom who is finishing off a painting of a landscape scene (similar to the one in the yard sale) ... he sees some old frames in a box and thinks there may be something there his mom can use.

2) I also want to change the situation .. the woman is Bradley's daughter and she is helping her father clear out some of his belongings. Incidentally, when I was younger, my parents bought a home and it was full of old things and they were abandoned by previous owner. Old photo negatives and I remember a dried rose between written pages along with old newspapers.. A real trip to the past...I remember feeling sad going through the personal artifacts of lives gone by. The woman in he home was very old and passed away shortly after the house was sold. Sadly we got rid of a lot of the stuff as there was nobody to take it. That came to my memory while I wrote that scene.

With regards to the story, I want to establish a romance between the woman and Robert. She will be so impressed by his sensitivity to her fathers belongings and how he cares for her Mother....Also, Robert mistakes it is a yard sale but in fact she is preparing the home sale by collecting her fathers belongings for storage. The yard sale sign was intended a few houses away ...honest mistake! She is so impressed by Robert she offers the painting to him ..hoping to strike up a conversation ... needs work but its a starting point.. She will be a shy, never married woman (think Rocky's wife before they met shy awkward ... he is a widower whose wife has died of cancer (think good will hunting .. unable to put chips back in the table)

3) the ending i will redo will be about the son and daughter (now emotionally attached to each other but unwilling to take it further since they dont want to be hurt again) ... they will be conflicted not to reunite the two elders since they fear it will overwhelm them and it may be dangerous given their frail health...I also will make the Bradley a somewhat fragile character and when he came back from the war, he was a broken man, institutionalized and took years to recover...He told his family to tell Muriel he was dead to spare her from his mental illness

The ending will be a theme of love conquers fear, and the two main characters finally allow themselves to love again and agree to bring the elders together after Bradley is close to death...They feel it is the last chance for them to meet


I see a few opportunities to use some themes like in shawshank redemtion ... but instead of hope, love overcomes the prison of fear ... jus some thoughts
 
i dont think that youre using locations correctly..

it starts off inside his car but that doesn't tell the producer where the car is or what we see out the windows... your script is starting off a bit frustrating because its impossible to produce without reading further ahead and then moving backwards and deducing the scenario.

Give us the information we need to film it right off that bat. ext residental street. dude is in his car.

And then what happens next? You tell us we are in the middle of the street but just a couple sentences into the scene and we are in someones yard for a yard scale. shouldn't this scene header be yard ? everything takes place in a yard and you've named your scene header after a street bc the dude has to park his car first before he walks there.

and yes you run the risk of an editor starting this scene with the dude looking at a painting and cutting out everything before that.
As mentioned scenes are misplaced and formatting is a problem .. I will deal with that later...it doesn't change the story which is what i am trying to iron out.
 
My brother was a painter and once I retired from the Navy, I helped him out on larger jobs... For awhile, he was painting very large estate homes in the Bay Area (California). I cannot tell you how many times we arrived at these homes with tons of personal items just thrown into a pile in the driveway. Either the couple had died OR the last living spouse had died and the children of these people didn't want ANYTHING. They had people come in and just clear EVERYTHING out and toss it in a pile. Things like crocheted blankets and handmade wooden items by the husband. Lot of trinkets that obviously had an interesting history to them. Just a lot of very personal effects. I get throwing out things like coffee makers and crap like that but many of the things I've seen were family heirlooms that had been handed down through at least a couple of generations.

All of it very sad to witness.

I like you changing the Woman to being Bradley's daughter... Makes more sense now. I'd still not do it quite as fast as a few days after he went into the nursing home though... Just feels terrible. Maybe he's been in the nursing home awhile now? How would that CHANGE the story?

Not so sure about the Robert and the Woman worrying about their parents reuniting... These two people are much older... I can see younger people possibly worrying about this kind of thing but people in their 60s? They may not have that much time LEFT so why NOT reunite them? Now you've got two love stories going on.
 
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Not so sure about the Robert and the Woman worrying about their parents reuniting... These two people are much older... I can see younger people possibly worrying about this kind of thing but people in their 60s? They may not have that much time LEFT so why NOT reunite them? Now you've got two love stories going on.
Yes, that's the idea of reuniting them later...they are so consumed by the fear that they forgot how to live... the old couple is approaching 90's .. essentially the old man is on his death bed so its really just a final good bye
 
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Let me ALSO say here that it's REFRESHING to SEE someone taking critiques like this so well. Gotta tell ya... I've tried to help MANY a screenwriter out over the many years I've been doing this PROFESSIONALLY and it never fails to amaze me how TERRIBLE so many people professing they want to write movies take criticism. LOL.

So good on ya...
 
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