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treatment Need help with PLOT and TREATMENT

Hello...I have a rather interesting request.

I am trying to write a drama about two identical twins that grow up to be teens, but unaware that they have been separated (either at birth or very shortly after). Originally in my first draft (attached), the mom takes her twins home thinking that they are fraternal twins but there is a mix up and the identical twins get split up in the hospital. I have since rejected that as it is just too far fetched to be taken seriously. Feel free to read the attached treatment.

Jkds kindly read the original draft and correctly told me this is too far fetched. He suggested the adoption angle.

Here's one suggestion - When the twins are born following a complicated birth, one is diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. The Doctor tells Caroline the boy may well need special care and is unlikely to survive through childhood. Faced with the prospect of life as a single mother caring for a sickly child, she makes the difficult and somewhat selfish decision to put the ill child up for adoption. She can't bear the thought of spending years nurturing the child knowing they will soon die. It's at this point then that a mix-up takes place (perhaps the diagnosis is put on the wrong child's medical notes) and the mother inadvertently gives up the healthy child. It would serve as an interesting subplot then, as when Kevin's condition is finally re-discovered as a teen, the mother realises what must have happened and that her other son is probably out there somewhere, still alive. In the hospital then, when everyone sees Hugh and Kevin are identical, the mother breaks down and confesses to the adoption. This seems to me a cleaner way to do the "reveal" than them all trying to piece together what happened all those years ago with the hospital mix-up. Although the audience would be able see it using a flashback, the characters themselves
would just be guessing as to what had actually transpired.

You can still keep Connor in the story, just make it so that he is a year older than Kevin and that the father dies shortly after the mother falls pregnant for the second time. This would add credence to the mother's decision to give up the one son since she already has another young child to care for and is struggling to cope following her husband's death. You could also make it so that Hugh's adoptive mother realised that there has been a mix-up but chose not to say anything (You'd think the adoption agency would have to had let her know the child was ill and needs treatment which tests would later prove to be incorrect). It's partly due to this guilt of not owning up that she tries to make amends by offering Hugh's heart to save Kevin.

Another option is that the twins' biological mother dies or puts them both up for adoption and that they then get homed with these two separate adoptive families.

Would really love any input from the forum to improve the plot ... thanks!


  • STORY IDEA.pdf
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Staff Member
I think it would be far more interesting if she takes the noble route: puts the healthy kid up for adoption because she fears that the sickly child will take all of her time and money, and the healthy child would get short-changed along the way. She moves across the country to avoid the two interacting. She never tells the sickly child that he has a twin, because she doesn't want him to feel guilty about sucking up everything she has.

Years later, the two find each other - perhaps in college? Despite having been adopted by a nice family, the healthy kid still resents her, and now the sickly (recovered) kid does as well, combined with his guilt.

They all struggle to resolve their needs and resentments. How do we ever know what the right thing to do is? And is there really a right answer?
Thanks for chiming in. Someone who takes the nobler route would put both twins up for adoption and the less nobler one would put the sick one up for adoption I would think,

An ideal scenario I am looking for is one where the 2 mothers and 2 misplaced twins are oblivious as my story works best where the audience believes both mothers care about their children.

It is a story about sacrifice
Why do you think it's nobler to put both twins up for adoption?
No, I agree. That doesn't sound particularly noble.

Sorry to butt in Constantin, but I think it may be helpful to explain that your story is only really about the one twin and his family for the most part. The twin brother and his other family only really come into it as part of the second act conclusion by which point both twins happen to be dying. The major twist being that neither the audience or the protaganist knows about the identical twin until that point.

In essence I think what you are asking for is some sort of credible suggestion for the backstory twist "reveal" to explain how they don't know about one another. Correct?
Hi Jkds, yes, exactly! I did attach the first draft which you read for context but unfortunately it is just under ten pages so a bit much to read!

As for why I stated it is nobler is actually based on reddit forum where a real life young teen wants to give up one of her twin boys because she isn't able to adequately support both kids and having two babies was something she didn't anticipate. She wanted just the one child

The comments came through essentially telling her that splitting the twins was the worst option and suggested either she keep both babies or adopt them out as a set. Adopted individuals also agreed that the betrayal of being a rejected twin would cut both ways and she would regret it later in life when both boys discovered that they were separated.

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Staff Member
I understand your point re the value of being adopted together, but a sick baby is far less likely to be adopted than a healthy one.

Requiring both to be adopted together - when one is sick and the other is not - could very possibly end up with both languishing in the foster care system.

That may not be as much of an issue in Canada, but in the US there are over 400,000 kids in foster care.
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Hmmm ... so let me see if your idea can be played out a bit further ...

  1. Father and mother have identical twins
  2. One twin is diagnosed with a congenital heart condition
  3. Father dies and family situation is troubled financially, emotionally etc etc
  4. Mother is unable to cope with both twins on her own and she is alone
  5. Decides to put the healthier one up for adoption because the other one is less likely to be adopted
  6. Keeps it secret from both twins and asks adopting parents to do same
  7. Mother with sick child gets cancer and is dying
  8. The two mothers meet again when both boys are in same hospital
  9. The healthy twin taken off life support after 3 day coma due to car accident
  10. Other twin has heart failure and survives due to transplant from other twin
  11. Mother of dead child adopts other teen when the other mother dies of cancer and appeals to her to adopt
Is that the idea?

Maybe the protagonist is the sick twin in foster care ... That is an angle I never considered also


Staff Member
Separate from that adoption of twins question, I did read your treatment.

[wrote the following before I saw your note above, which I think goes in a good direction]

My suggestion is that you consider making it a rare genetic disorder that the mom, Kevin, and Hugh all have.

The mom is in the leading hospital for the treatment of that disease, and the adoptive parents of the missing twin bring him to the same place for treatment. That's how they finally meet. I would suggest having the mom's disease progression be much further along than the twins' so they don't die yet but have a fatal prognosis.

In the interim, though, Hugh has the opportunity to meet his birth mom before she dies, and the two identical twins have the opportunity to build a relationship, even though it will have a limited life, like them.

This could be made even more poignant by the fact that Kevin, who isn't her biological son, is spared the disease.

Full disclosure - my sister died of a miserable disease called Multiple System Atrophy, which is basically what it sounds like. When she was healthy, years earlier, she and her then-husband adopted a baby boy. He was 13 when she died, and she was glad to know that he wouldn't/didn't inherit the disease (limited knowledge means doctors still don't know if it can be inherited). It's the kind of happy/sad issue that I will someday use in a screenplay myself but you're welcome to use any of it if it helps.
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Thank you for the post and for sharing this with the forum. It must have been so difficult for everyone involved. My mother died shortly after going into a coma for 2 days from her brain swelling after a bad fall. There was also blood vessel damage and her condition deteriorated rapidly but I can remember seeing her eyes tear up near the end as though she was aware of us but was unable to communicate with us. That really was hard to see.

Perhaps that was in my mind as I wrote parts of my story. I never thought about that until now

I was hoping to keep as much of my original story as possible but was curious about this as I am not sure I understood it 100%

This could be made even more poignant by the fact that Kevin, who isn't her biological son, is spared the disease.

In my story, Connor is the biological son of the other mother who he doesn't live with. Kevin is the biological son of the mom who dies of Cancer/genetic disorder and they live together ...

Are you saying Hugh and his biological mom has the genetic disorder but Kevin (the other biological twin) doesn't? I would think if they are identical twins, they would share the same disorder
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Staff Member
I think these things like your mom are impact what we choose to write whether we're aware of it or not.

The way I was seeing it was like this, which I realize mucks around with your set-up. So just some thoughts, mostly with the goal of giving a believable way that the separated identical twins end up in the same place.

Conor and Kevin live together as "fraternal twins" but the actual identical twin of Kevin is Hugh. Hugh has been raised in a different family entirely.

Kevin and Hugh both inherited the mother's disease, and meet when Hugh is brought to specialist hospital for treatment.
Conor was raised by the now-dying mom, but was really the son of the family who raised Hugh.

The mom (birth mom to Hugh, birth mom & functional mom to Conor) dies during the movie, but the others are still alive.

This gives multiple family stressors to resolve:

Kevin and Hugh meet as dying twins. How do they live their life for the little time they have?

How do they maximize the relationship with the dying mom for the little time she has?

Conor is healthy but now resentful of the attention Hugh gets, and for the fact that he has been raised by the "wrong" mom.
How do the 3 boys build a complicated relationship among themselves?

How does the family who raised Hugh feel about Conor?
Do they continue to have a relationship with both boys?
Thanks for all the wonderful feedback

I have decided on the following
  • Poor family somewhere in India or Pakistan have twins
  • Mother gives up one of the twins to her close brother whose wife is unable to conceive and wants him to be a father and adoption in this rural town is unheard of and they are too poor anyways
  • They live close by so the birth mother believes she will be near both boys and the adopting brother agrees to help the other boy with medical costs as he has a bad liver or heart or some other illness. He has a bit of money but not much but helps where he can
  • The adopted mother is the resentful type and mean and doesn't want her husband helping her sister financially. She betrays the birth mother by going to Canada sponsored by some family member there and forces the brother to choose between going to Canada with her or staying in the village caring for her sister's child instead.
  • Brother is torn but leaves with his wife and adopted son
  • Adopted Mother cuts all ties to birth mother and lives life as though the boy is her own flesh and blood and brother is the meek type goes along. Boy in Canada. The twin in Canada is none the wiser
  • Birth mother does not have the means or wherewithal to fight this witch so keeps the truth from the boy as to not upset him. The father is also upset about the situation
  • The Adopted family comes back to Pakistan many years later for a visit of the mothers in-laws and they are in a horrible accident as they are arguing whether they should visit his sister. The father is injured, the mother dies and the boy is in a coma
  • The other boy's health condition worsens and they are in same hospital
  • The rest of the story is similar but in the end, the brother repays his sister back by donating a vital organ to her sisters teen son before returning back to Canada

How does that work?
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Crikey, that's a lot of work you are putting into making this twist work. Are you moving the story half way across the world to a poor country in order for it to sound like a noble deed when she gives her child away? Why does it suddenly need to be in India?

To me, it seems the problem is you've envisioned the twist of the story and want that to remain exactly as it is, but there's a major plot hole in it regarding how the twins don't know about each other. You need a solution that sounds credible in the context of the genre but for some reason WITH the caveat that it doesn't make the mother look bad in any way.

I'm not sure why it's so important that the mother appears saint-like in this story, she's not even the protaganist. There's a lot of ways to play it if you allow her to be somewhat culpable for how the twins are separated and I think they would make more sense.

Mara offered a great alternative plot and I suggested a minor compromise to your story by putting the mother in a difficult situation after the birth which could be atoned for later in the story.

It just feels like you're building a new house around the fireplace you don't want to get rid of. To be honest, I prefer the the first draft even with the far-fetched baby mix-up backstory.

I respectfully disagree. I think the new story as I have outlined plays extremely well to a Bollywood type script and so I am marketing it around that angle. The situation is very realistic as I have laid it out and filled with it with dramatic themes and still keep intact some of the other ideas in my original narrative.

I will draft out the screenplay as I have presented it here and see how it goes but do appreciate all of your wonderful comments and feedback.
Just an update on this project which I shelved awhile back and have since brought back to life... I have rewritten the entire story in a much better way I believe. It is a very long (15 pages) but currently having an original screenplay written off this outline. Thanks again to everyone who helped me along the way...


  • Cradle To Grave Outline.pdf
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Hello...I have a rather interesting request.

I am trying to write a drama about two identical twins that grow up to be teens, but unaware that they have been separated (either at birth or very shortly after). Originally in my first draft (attached), the mom takes her twins home thinking that they are fraternal twins but there is a mix up and the identical twins get split up in the hospital. I have since rejected that as it is just too far fetched to be taken seriously. Feel free to read the attached treatment.

Jkds kindly read the original draft and correctly told me this is too far fetched. He suggested the adoption angle.

Would really love any input from the forum to improve the plot ... thanks!
There are plenty of Korean kdramas with such plotline. You're Beautiful (Korean drama), Who are you? - School 2015, King Eternal Monarch (on Netflix), etc.

Not the same plot ... Not even close :) Let me see the other one.​


Ko Mi-nyeo (Park Shin-hye) has lived at an orphanage with her twin brother, Ko Mi-nam, since childhood after their father died. Years later, Mi-nam becomes a music idol and Mi-nyeo lives in a junior nun dorm to fulfill her dream of becoming a nun. One day, Mi-nam successfully auditions for and wins the "A.N Entertainment" vocal auditions to join the musical band A.N.Jell. However, he must leave for the United States in order to correct his botched plastic surgery. Mi-nam's manager, Ma Hoon-yi (Kim In-kwon) approaches Mi-nyeo and requests her to pose as Mi-nam for a month till he recovers. Mi-nyeo is against it at first, but eventually agrees, as a path to fame would give the twins an opportunity to find their mother. Thus, Mi-nyeo poses as her brother and joins the band A.N.Jell, where she meets its members: the arrogant Hwang Tae-kyung (Jang Keun-suk), the gentle Kang Shin-woo (Jung Yong-hwa) and the bubbly Jeremy (Lee Hong-gi).

At first, Tae-kyung is against Mi-nam's addition and makes her life hard, while Shin-woo and Jeremy are friendly to her. Eventually, Tae-kyung discovers that Mi-nam is a girl and threatens to reveal it, but Mi-nam manages to win him over. Through their interactions, Tae-kyung began to develop feelings for Mi-nam. Shin-woo and Jeremy also developed feelings for her, even though the latter thinks that Mi-nam is a boy. As Mi-nyeo struggles to hide her secret from the media while performing with A.N.JELL, she discovers her mother's past, which is somehow connected with Tae-kyung.
Yes, these sorts of stories are contemporary retelling of "The Prince and the Pauper", but I think my particular plot is unique enough that you cannot say its a complete clone (which unfortunately wasn't the case another story I wrote "Forgotten Photograph" about a man who unites old lovers from a lost photograph.

But I will check out the other movies you mentioned.
Checked out the other two also. The latter is nothing like my story. I bet Bollywood has even more such plotlines concerning twins than even Korean ones!

But I do like my premise of how the babies get switched. A lot better than what I had thought of originally when I shelved the story. I will most likely convert the screenplay to a Graphic Novel if it doesn't garner interest as a film.

I also will change the title... Was thinking of "CRADLE TO GRAVE"
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