story ROSHAMBO - An idea for a limited 5 episode series

I have injected a scene right after PAPER gets off the phone with SCISSORS after his truck has stalled...CLIVE is in PAPERS office closing the receiver asking what's wrong ... PAPER tells him more delays and how the timing is bad and he is already losing money as it is .. .CLIVE offers to help out with this latest delivery problem and then says to PAPER....You should reconsider my smuggling idea ... you won't have to worry about stuff like this ... we can make this work ... PAPER refuses setting up a future scene where the bankruptcy becomes almost inevitable and then finally he gives in to CLIVE's proposals...
So what is motive behind Clive’s intentions to setup the smuggling ring? Also, why don’t let Paper have a normal bankruptcy? Importantly, why Clive needs Papers? Make those things natural
 
Paper has the perfect cover as a trucking company owner and also provides funding for safe houses and such...Clive's motivation would be profit driven as I cannot see any other motive
 
So after some time away from the project, I have started to work on PAPER'S backstory. I decided to introduce PAPER'S successful brother into the story. There is a rift between them when his brother tries to help him with the failing business. PAPER turns him down, setting up the situation where he spirals closer and closer to bankruptcy and to save face will resort to human smuggling and prostitution ... I am attaching here the brief encounter between PAPER (Bill) and his brother ... Any critique would be appreciated as I struggle with dialogue...
 

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You need to give Bill an introduction, you describe Felix quite well but we don't know anything about Bill other than he's in the room. Same with Hayden. Tell us something about their appearance, age, demeanour. Unless of course this is just one scene and the pair are going to be introduced in an earlier part of the story.

The bit about Hayden bolting to the door seemed a little odd, maybe consider have him nervously shuffle past a staring Felix or something like that if the point you are trying to get across is that Hayden is worried about Felix's view of him.

The dialogue is ok but it's a little "on the nose" in places, could do with being a bit more natural. The part about Hayden having been re-hired for example just didn't seem like a natural exchange, the exposition about "we fired him years ago" is clearly there for our benefit and not something that would likely be said out loud. Both parties know he was fired, and when he was fired. I might say it something like this after Hayden exits.

FELIX
What the hell's he doing here?

BILL
He's a good worker.

FELIX
He's a scumbag! Jesus, I bet the Old Man's turning in his grave.

BILL
Well he's not in charge any more, is he? Look, what do you want Felix? I got shit to do.

I think it gets the same message across in fewer words, and we can read between the lines that their father must have fired him some time ago. And that the father is now dead. And that Bill is now in charge and has re-hired him.

One other thing, is that I'm struggling a little bit to understand each brother's personality and the dynamic between the pair. Their tone kind of flip flops throughout. Bill initially appears flummoxed when Felix enters, almost worried. He is defensive and feels the need to explain everything to Felix, before then turning nonchalant. Then he becomes quite aggressive but then goes back to defensive and having this need to explain himself to Felix again. For me, it would make more sense for Bill to be quite dismissive of Felix from the start, keep his answers blunt, like he doesn't give a damn about Felix's opinions.
 
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Sorry, I should have stated this is just a scene introducing Felix. Hayden and Bill are, indeed introduced earlier in the script.

I actually changed the "bolts to the door" bit kind of late and didn't really know how to rewrite it...essentially, he is uncomfortable his older brother and late father hated his guts...

I really struggle with the dreaded on the nose dialogue and have been told this many times. I mean I even pick up on it when I watch movies and yet I repeatedly am guilty of it over and over. Your suggestions are a huge improvement but I think I will need to work on that part a bit more.

The relationship between the brothers is one of tough love coming from the older brother who feels responsible for suggesting Bill take the business over ... He has a delicate game to play not to alienate Bill too much but when he realizes Bill has become too possessive of the business, he resorts to taking him down a few pegs.

As for Bill, he is trying to desperately transition from a sibling living in the shadow of is very successful brother and being his own man, but shades of his inferiority still show through...I guess I didn't do a good job of conveying that.

Loved this critique. Thank you so much! Back to the drawing board :)
 
No need for the drawing board. Think you just need to spend a bit of time developing your characters. Do a synopsis for each of them, and maybe one of those questionnaires. You need to be able to think like your characters and the dialogue comes so much easier then. If you imagine a conversation between yourself and someone you know well, based on a particular scenario, I'm sure you'd be able to write out the entire exchange very easily and the dialogue would be natural and realistic since you know how each of you speak, what you'd say, how you'd react etc.

A good exercise is to get to know your characters by just writing out a scene at random. One which has no real plot and you don't intend to use. Just pick a scenario where we can get an insight into their relationship (like the brothers going to buy their Father's headstone for example) and just write out their conversation. Think about how each player in the scene reacts to the others. Who is the more confident, shy, charismatic, angry, depressing, talkative, well-spoken, negative, positive, boring, interesting, funny etc. By not having to worry about the goal of the scene or a plot, you will learn a lot about your characters, and maybe even be able to use some of it in a scene later on if it's any good.

Another tip is to base you characters upon people you know, or a particular actor or famous character. Knowing them inside out, it's easier to imagine what they would realistically say in any given situation. You want your characters and their reactions to drive the story forward rather than them just being tools to tell the story. So just have in your mind what the main "conflict of the scene" is going to be about and the goal of the scene (what plot point does it convey, what has changed by the end of the scene that affects the story), and then try to let the conversational exchange in between come naturally. Rather than think, l need to mention A, B, C etc here for exposition and to set up the story, as this can often lead to the characters becoming robotic and lacking a distinct personality.
 
On another note, Bill's character reminded me a little of Frank Sobotka in The Wire in some places when he is being a bit more aggressive with Felix. His story/situation in the series is somewhat similar to your guy as well.
 
i've never seen the wire but a friend of mine told me it was good...It isn't on netflix i dont think, unfortunately...I am gonna try that exercise again. Another problem I seem to have is all my characters sound the same...Malkovich? Malkovich Malcovich?? Malcovich!!!
 
i've never seen the wire but a friend of mine told me it was good...It isn't on netflix i dont think, unfortunately...I am gonna try that exercise again. Another problem I seem to have is all my characters sound the same...Malkovich? Malkovich Malcovich?? Malcovich!!!
That's where the synopsis comes in handy. The exchange between Bill and Felix here sounds extremely similar to the one you posted previously with scissors and his friend in the bar. Even down to the friend/brother taking them to task over how they're treating their girlfriend/ex. They could almost be the same characters. Spending some time up front mapping out each character will help your story (the plot of which is actually quite good) immeasurably.

Give each character unique flaws, strengths and personalities. Make them contrast and complement one another in different ways. Make one a loner/loser. Another a hothead. Another a moral person down on their luck. I'm not saying use these examples exactly, but make them contrast enough so that each has a different story to tell, and that when they cross paths, their interactions are interesting. We know that they have a common theme (down on their luck and desperate), but you just need to do a bit more to make each character unique and interesting enough to warrant their own individual storyline. Make the audience invest in riding the story with them, rooting for their success or failure. Endear each of them to us in different ways (humour, sorrow, injustice, likeability etc.) But do each story from a different aspect.
 
i've never seen the wire but a friend of mine told me it was good...It isn't on netflix i dont think, unfortunately.
No, I don't think it is on Netflix. It's on Amazon Prime but costs extra and I think it's on Hulu but I'm not familiar with that platform to know the costs or if they do free trials. Would recommend watching it though to anyone looking for good examples of how to do gritty dialogue and portraying severely flawed characters in a way that makes you engage with them on different levels.
 
No, I don't think it is on Netflix. It's on Amazon Prime but costs extra and I think it's on Hulu but I'm not familiar with that platform to know the costs or if they do free trials. Would recommend watching it though to anyone looking for good examples of how to do gritty dialogue and portraying severely flawed characters in a way that makes you engage with them on different levels.
Or there's some good clips on YouTube and some of the scripts available online if you're interested. They manage a lot of exposition in these scenes without making it sound unnatural.
 
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That's some kind of performance! I'll have to watch more of it. Yeah, I see it...lots of information dumping. I'll leave my scene for a couple of days and reread it with the ideas you've given me and see what I can do with it.... Thanks again man, real solid advice!
 
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