How would you rewrite this scene?

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  • How would you rewrite this scene?

    I just wrote this scene this morning and something about it bothers me. Is this scene clear enough? The scene takes place in a camp in spain.

    SUPER: 1840
    EXT. MAIN HOUSE - PORCH - NIGHT
    Scorching flames incinerates the main house. Black smoke surge up the sky. Suddenly, BANG! Buckshot goes off. A GUARD crashes through the door, lands hard on the porch. Blood leaks out of his abdomen.

    Mr. BUNDY, 60, cuts and bruises are etched on his face. Blood oozes out of the bullet wound on his leg. A machete sticks out of his chest.
    He limps out of the burning house, musket at ready. He walks down the porch steps, into the front yard and he sees corpses littering the ground.

    He comes up to A 9 YEAR OLD BOY sitting by a WOMAN'S CORPSE, sobbing. He trains his rifle at the boy.
    Suddenly, BANG! Mr. Bundy topples on the ground, blood leaks out of his head.
    ABRAHAM ANDERSON, 40s, emerges from the bushes, a musket in his hand. Abraham dashes to the boy. He picks him up and runs off into the dark.

  • #2
    Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

    Uh - you have a couple of issues here. One is that the language usage is incorrect in more than one instance so that distracts. Should be "smoking flames INCINERATE the house" for one thing, and "Black smoke SURGES up TOWARD the sky".

    Also, the machete in the chest is a bit over the top and came across to me as funny. He walks down the porch steps? With a machete stuck IN his chest? Unless you're going for funny, I'd adjust that in a big way.

    I'm not sure what feedback you're really looking for - it's definitely intense but out of context, other than to say it's just written poorly, it's hard to say much else about this snippet.

    Julie Gray



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    • #3
      Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

      Not only that but you have at least a couple pages worth of script crammed into too short a space.

      Each camera change should have it's own line, like this:

      EXT. MAIN HOUSE - PORCH - NIGHT

      Scorching flames incinerate the main house.

      Black smoke surges up toward the sky.

      Suddenly, BANG!

      Buckshot goes off.

      A GUARD crashes through the door, lands hard on the porch.

      Blood leaks out of his abdomen.


      Keep in mind that one page of script roughly equals one minute of screen time. Get a stop watch and go over the scene in your mind, just as you imagine it would be filmed -- think of every movement and line of dialogue, ect. as though it were in real time. When you're done, check your watch. Does it come close to the number of pages you used? This isn't an exact method, obviously, but if you start as way off as this it's a way for you to see how much you have to stretch a scene to give it the correct amount of time per page count.

      A big mistake by new writers is to describe a fifteen minute car chase (or whatever) in a couple paragraphs of prose that only takes one page of script. Then you end up with a ten hour movie on 120 pages (two hours) or so.

      Read scripts that are similar to yours in genre and see how they do it.
      Last edited by suzeaa; 01-03-2008, 03:48 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

        How much or how little you break it up is purely a style thing. It gets monotonous when you break things up shot by shot. Doesn't leave room for any variety or rythm. And it feels too over-directed.

        Here's a quick example. I break things up into cinematic chunks, but I don't indicate every shot.

        EXT. PLANTATION - NIGHT

        What we can see of the main house is in flames. Black smoke surges into the sky.

        The BLAST of a musket. A SOLDIER stumbles out the door and collapses on the porch. His hands feel at the gaping hole where his belly should be.

        The Soldier looks up in panic as DAN BUNDY steps out the door, expertly reloading his musket.

        Bundy steps past the dying soldier without a second glance. He's got his eyes on something else...

        The front yard, littered with dead bodies. A YOUNG BOY sits by a woman's corpse. He's sobbing.

        Dan trains his musket on the Boy.

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        • #5
          Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

          I agree with Alt - it is a style thing. And that is not the problem with that scene. The action lines aren't too long or too dense, they just aren't written very well. No offense, poster - you may be very new to screenwriting and we've all been there. Keep up the hard work and do read some produced scripts

          Julie Gray



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          • #6
            Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

            A hard rule I try to live by is to never, ever use the word "suddenly" in the action lines.

            But then... MMV.
            "Forget it, Jake. It's Hollywood."

            My YouTube channel.

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            • #7
              Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

              Suddenly isn't a problem. Unless it's emblematic for overall comic-booky writing, where everything is

              SUDDENLY - Susan GASPS - can it be CONOR DE WITT? Her corsett heaved when out of the corner of her eye a wild goat raced toward her and suddenly she lost her footing because

              oh it just hurts. dumb example. But suddenly is fine - I mean, things happen suddenly. It's really fine. I'm working with a script right now - a major, major project and there are action lines that say:

              The couple resumes kissing, very hot heavy - just not past PG-13.

              LOL - but you know, that's reality.

              But you know, Signal - I've rethought it - actually for very new writers, avoiding suddenly might be a good self-discipline in order to avoid writing over-wrought or sloppy action lines. But once you've got the screenwriting thing figured out, it's no biggie.

              Julie Gray



              Comment


              • #8
                Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

                I agree. I just broke up your blocks of copy as a START. There's definitely more that needs to be done. (Boy, do I have a hard time rewriting other people's work!)

                Finding your footing as far as how much description you write is one of the things that you have to decide as a writer. Some writers are way too sparse while others overwrite like crazy!

                Like I said, read scripts from the winners in a like genre to yours and see how they do it. Somewhere between those writers and your own vision you'll begin to develop a more proper way to write prose. (Then you've got to work on dialogue, pacing, character development, tension, structure...) And after all that you should also be able to write something that's exciting and original as well.

                Reading plenty of books on it won't hurt you either. There's loads out there.

                That is, if you're still interested by then! It's hard work. Good luck.

                (and personally I try and keep ALL 'ly' adverbs to a minimum. It's easy to overuse them.)
                Last edited by suzeaa; 01-03-2008, 10:39 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

                  Hey thanks for the input everybody!!!

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                  • #10
                    Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

                    What if the reader doesn't know what BUCKSHOT is?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How would you rewrite this scene?

                      Originally posted by Jamesfox View Post
                      I just wrote this scene this morning and something about it bothers me. Is this scene clear enough? The scene takes place in a camp in spain.

                      SUPER: 1840
                      EXT. MAIN HOUSE - PORCH - NIGHT
                      Scorching flames incinerates the main house. Black smoke surge up the sky. Suddenly, BANG! Buckshot goes off. A GUARD crashes through the door, lands hard on the porch. Blood leaks out of his abdomen.

                      Mr. BUNDY, 60, cuts and bruises are etched on his face. Blood oozes out of the bullet wound on his leg. A machete sticks out of his chest.
                      He limps out of the burning house, musket at ready. He walks down the porch steps, into the front yard and he sees corpses littering the ground.

                      He comes up to A 9 YEAR OLD BOY sitting by a WOMAN’S CORPSE, sobbing. He trains his rifle at the boy.
                      Suddenly, BANG! Mr. Bundy topples on the ground, blood leaks out of his head.
                      ABRAHAM ANDERSON, 40s, emerges from the bushes, a musket in his hand. Abraham dashes to the boy. He picks him up and runs off into the dark.
                      hey James any relationship to Michael J.?

                      I'm surprised no one pull appart your small page and showed it to you... lets do that.

                      characters:
                      BOY(9)
                      A. Anderson(40's)
                      Mr. Bundy(60)
                      Guard

                      In the scene you have a house burning. A gunfight happening and a child that is in danger. A hero that rescues the boy.

                      you're introducing characters and conflict. why?

                      Do you know why mr. bundy wants to burn the house and kill the boy?

                      What's A. Anderson association to the family, child?



                      Just from my quick read I would focus on the child in danger. Seems like that concludes the scene and the true objective - save the child.

                      no reason to use a super. And why the fvck not, I'll re-write.

                      ---------

                      EXT. SH!T, NOT SURE WHAT TYPE OF HOUSE - BURNING - DAY

                      Flames exhume from every corner of the house. Smoke billows.

                      The front door bursts open and a GUARD carries ELLIOT(9) and the boy's dead mother. He takes three steps on the front poarch.

                      And collapses to the ground. The boys grabs his mother's life less body.

                      Face to face. He cries out and in horror and grief.

                      A shadow of a figure, BUNDY(60), stands in the doorway to the house. Flames excite behind the figure of all evil.

                      He takes a step forward onto the porch. A machette stuck from his chest is ripped out by Bundy and tossed to the ground.

                      It lands next to the boy, as he looks up.

                      Wild Bill Bundy scopes down on the boy with his musket.

                      Eye to eye. Elliots tears visable. Bundy squints. His trigger on the musket back.

                      BLAM. Elliot shutters. A small red hole appears in Bundy's head. He collapses.

                      Elliot turns to the front yard. ABRAHAM ANDERSON (40's) aims his musket at the ghost of Bundy. He lowers his musket.

                      ELLIOT: grandpa!

                      ANDERSON: comon boy. Hurry up!

                      Elliot lets go of his mother and runs towards Anderson.

                      Another SOLIDER comes out of the house. BLAM. Elliot turns back.

                      ANDERSON: nothing left for you there boy. Comon.

                      Anderson grabs his HORSE's reins and pulls himself up.

                      He grabs Elliot and brings him up onto the horse.

                      Anderson turns back to see the burning house and his dead daughter.

                      ANDERSON: Bundy the only ones to eat well tonight will be the vultures.

                      --------

                      See how I place the audiences attention on the boy and his reaction to the violence. The audience with empathize with the child.

                      Also, I CAP'D the horse.
                      But this wily god never discloses even to the skillful questioner the whole content of his wisdom.

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