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...
 
I liked actually the original story and pacing (approving all the advises given). I thought however that Richard had too much time to go between the nursing homes, as to speak, that's a bit off. The story was good but I can't imagine how the story will develop in a good way. Romance between Richard and the Bradley's daughter seems to be unnecessary and forced. We have only two possible outcomes - either mother and Bradley meet or not. And then it is sorta difficult to develop further in an interesting way..It is a romance, but well past its time so it cannot be truly romantic script - if you understand what I mean... or maybe a story of reconciliation and forgiveness (rather than romance).
 
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The idea behind the romance between the younger two was to involve the son in the story much more than he is.

As the protagonist, his character is pretty flat and I was hoping to show him as a lonely man who ends up helping others more than himself, perhaps at the expense of his own lonely existence or fear of following his heart...but he feels he is ready to move on

The daughter would follow a similar script and through each other they learn to love again after having lost it from some tragic or difficult circumstance...She is more fearful, however to love again ... but her arc is to eventually accept love, not fear ...

BUT THIS IS LEARNED THROUGH THE DEATH OF HER FATHER ... here's how ...

The older couple ... i am planning on them never meeting again, or at least not for a long meaningful way... despite efforts by the son to bring them together because the daughter fears the shock of a reunion would be too much for his frail health to take....

There will be a scene where he suffers a heart attack when presented with some emotional news and the doctors tell her he isn't capable of handling SHOCKING news of ANY kind and so she is reluctant to tell him right away..she says to buy time and this waiting game adds tension between the son who wants to reunite his mom with her father but she says its not the right time.

the aiting game is symbolic of her own reluctance to accept love, regardless of her fears of being hurt again. When she realizes her error in not uniting her father with his lost love, it makes her evaluate her own fears and to take the chance to love again

at least thats what i was thinking of ...
 
Well, I thought its going something like that, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation etc. It is not a love story, neither romance. So it what I meant there is no good development in it. I mean, Richard and daughter could meet anyway, not necessarily through the painting. So after all, all this painting and old memories are not really important. Equally could then omit Bradley and mother altogether and just focus on Richard and daughter (hope mother and daughter have names) so it will be kinda Madison bridges story only for 40 old something. And why they both are so lonely and cannot have normal relations is unclear as well. I mean, yes they both could be shy and introvert, so this is really a story of two introverts. I guess there are people who like such stories though it will develop then at turtle speed (cause both are closed). I just wrote what I think about it, hopefully you are not offended.
 
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Well, I suppose an alternative approach would be to focus on the love story between a much younger Muriel and Bradley. I think the story would make most sense if it were retold through the eyes of Bradley, so he then becomes the protagonist instead of Robert.

I would still set up the MYSTERY of the letter and hidden photograph, as I have done already, but allow most of the story to be retold in the past, similar to the way Rose retells her story of Jack Dawson in Titanic when she is asked about a rare diamond:

In 1996, treasure hunter Brock Lovett and his team board the research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh to search the wreck of RMS Titanic for a necklace with a rare diamond, the Heart of the Ocean. They recover a safe containing a drawing of a young woman wearing only the necklace dated April 14, 1912, the day the ship struck the iceberg.[Note 1] Rose Dawson Calvert, the woman in the drawing, is brought aboard Keldysh and tells Lovett of her experiences aboard Titanic.

The ending would return us back to the current day and I would use same ending as I have in the short story
 
Well, I suppose an alternative approach would be to focus on the love story between a much younger Muriel and Bradley. I think the story would make most sense if it were retold through the eyes of Bradley, so he then becomes the protagonist instead of Robert.

I would still set up the MYSTERY of the letter and hidden photograph, as I have done already, but allow most of the story to be retold in the past, similar to the way Rose retells her story of Jack Dawson in Titanic when she is asked about a rare diamond:



The ending would return us back to the current day and I would use same ending as I have in the short story
I think that's may be a better approach though
 
I really hate it when I write a story and then discover another one that exists just like it... Well, as I was reading mine to an Indian friend, he mentioned another short story that was identical to it ... Here it is on YouTube ....


They even live in a nursing home!! How uncanny is that? But I am sure this has happened to a few of you writers out there ... LOL ... Truly nothing original under the sun :)
 
I read through the YouTube comments ... and to add insult to injury, this movie appears to be taken more closely from an even earlier short story by arnold fine ...

Pavit Verma
3 months ago
The story seems to be a copy of ‘Letter in the Wallet’ by Arnold Fine, published in the September 1980 issue of the Reader’s Diges


Too funny ....
 
I suppose, but it is kind of discouraging to write something that's been done SO SIMILARLY before ... That said, I think the movie is more of a flat out rip off of the short story ... If it isn't, well that really is an amazing coincidence :)

The real lesson here (for me, at least) is to thoroughly research "original" ideas before putting pen to paper.
 
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