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  • #46
    Re: ...

    this thread is like a years worth of jellybeans but you have to eat them in a day.. you'll get sick if you read the entire thing in one sitting.



    • #47
      Re: ...

      JoeNYC (and others, of course),
      Considering the difficulty of spotting problems in five pages, what do you think is reasonable to expect from that forum?


      • #48
        Totiwoss, the quality of the feedback depends on how experienced the reviewer is and how much time and effort they have to put into the critique.

        Keep in mind, the writer who asked for reviews isn't paying for it, or swapped his own time and effort in an agreed exchange for it, so, no matter how small or big of a review he receives, it should be appreciated.

        So, let's say the reviewer is quite experienced and has the time to give the pages a thorough going over.

        What you can expect is:

        First, an overview (general comments) about the pages before the reviewer gets into the specifics.

        Next, the reviewer would discuss any major elements that apply to the 5 pages in detail:

        Tone: For example, the different tones of comedy, "Bad Santa," "American Pie," "Legally Blonde." A writer can't stray too far from the boundaries of tone because of audience's expectations.

        The audience that want to see movies like "Legally Blonde" and "Sweet Home Alabama" may not like the lowbrow humor of "American Pie," so one needs to be cautious about mixing tones.

        Characters: The reviewer is looking to see if there are distinct differences between the characters. Are their actions and dialogue in step with their motivations? Is there conflict between characters? Are their character traits, goals, etc. well defined? If you were reviewing the complete script, you'll also see if there's dimensionality and change.

        Dialogue: Does it move the story and/or character forward? Does it correspond with the character's world? Is it fresh? Is it tight or overwritten? Point out good lines and bad.

        Story: Is it focused? Are there any plot holes? Was it set up right to make it believable? Is it logical? Is the pace sluggish? Is it fresh? Is the narrative powerful? Probably not enough pages to discuss the sub-plots.

        Structure: If the pages include a turning point, is it strong? Is the scene constructed properly? Is there a good balance between EXT. and INT. scenes?

        Is it formatted correctly according to the industry standards?

        Point out any speed bumps that'll slow the reader down. You want the reader's eye to be able to zip down the page.

        Proof spelling and grammar (I proof thoroughly, so if there's a spelling error I want it pointed out).

        Any help with word choices. For example, the writer might have a child say a word that doesn't ring true for his age or context of plot.

        Did the writer create the necessary emotion for the scene?

        Any unnecessary details in the description? For example, if a character is meeting someone in the park to exchange an envelope, it's unnecessary to describe the style of fence that surrounds the park, or what type of trees are in the park, etc.

        Is the writing telling, when showing would be more interesting and entertaining?

        Any necessary line editing, etc.

        The best way for a new writer to get a feel for reviewing pages is by looking at examples. So, if any new writer is interested, continue on and I'll paste a past review I did for one of the DD members who posted his opening 7 pages for feedback.

        MY FEEDBACK:

        I found your pages interesting. The images that you create are exciting.

        I'm going to go over the major editing first:

        You have a unique voice, but in your rewrites you need to concentrate on clarity. Others already gave you some examples about this, so I'm not going to cover that.

        I am going to point out fat and some other stuff later in the minor editing portion of my feedback.

        You open your story in a crowded business district where people go on with their routine, and then things speed up: the day crowd changes to the night crowd, night turns to day and repeats.

        As we shoot out into space, Earth stands lit up with millions of lights across continent after continent, revolving from night to day and back.

        Then Earth slowly fades to black. A pinpoint of light emerges and we follow that back to Earth until we come to a door.

        I feel you have a lot of stylistic visuals going on and little substance, which weakens your opening.

        To make your opening stronger, I suggest you should focus on either the downtown business district or the shot of Earth, not both.

        This brings me to ask, why is the story opening with the downtown business district? Does the story take place in this part of the city? Is this the neighborhood where Monica lives and/or works?

        If the business district isn't important to the story, then I suggest you should open in Monica's neighborhood.

        For example when the V.O. talks about "The ones you look through at the grocery store. The people you learn to ignore when they say hello..." you can show the meek looking around with frightened eyes, etc.

        Or you could open with a shot of the world instead. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about:

        EXT. SPACE

        Earth shines like a blue marble in the middle of blackness.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA (V.O.)
        * * * * Most people can stand before the
        * * * * mirror and find that feeling of
        * * * * familiarity with who they are. What
        * * * * their past created and what's left
        * * * * undone as fate has it's way with them.

        Blackness creeps across Earth.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA (V.O.)
        * * * * Then there are those who'll never
        * * * * have a grasp of any of it. Those
        * * * * are the ones that live their lives
        * * * * in fear.

        The entire world fades to black with the exception of a pinpoint of light. Speeding towards it, its size and brightness increase.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA (V.O.)
        * * * * They don't understand the darkness
        * * * * that forces them into their homes.
        * * * * All the self-taught agoraphobics
        * * * * who end up dying alone with no one
        * * * * to give a fvck but the landlord who
        * * * * finds the body and bitches about
        * * * * months of unpaid rent.

        The pinpoint of light now becomes a door, barely ajar. Blinding light floods out from the other side.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA (V.O.)
        * * * * The misery of it is that the one
        * * * * person who could save them...
        * * * * never arrives.

        The door slams shut. Darkness.

        When you introduce Monica in her apartment, you don't mention any religious artifacts like a cross or statue of Jesus, etc.

        I think you should include this to show she's a believer, so it wouldn't be jarring when she breaks out in prayer.

        I thought it strange that Monica was doing the V.O. about people being scared to be out in public places and stuff when she appears to be one of those people.

        I would think if Monica does the V.O. it would be more personal to include herself and not just speak of "Those people," "For them," etc.

        Notes on minor editing that I'd like to suggest:

        "The suits. The bums. A mixed mass of people..."

        -- You mention specific and general. You should pick one or the other:

        The suits. The bums. The construction workers. All in a rush to get on with their routine.


        A mixed mass of people and cars in a rush to get on with their routine.

        "Gangs and groups"

        -- Don't know exactly what you mean by this. Could mean biker gangs, street gangs, etc. You would need to use a different choice of words.


        -- I'll bet the majority of reviewers don't know what this word means. You should use simpler words. In fact, the simpler words that have the same meaning as "carrion" are more vibrant and exciting.

        "Pulling back we float away above the city..."

        -- "We float away," indicates pulling back, so "pulling back" can be deleted. And replace "above" with "from."

        "Light floods in from the other side."

        -- It should be "Light floods out..."

        * * * * * * * * MONICA (V.0.) (CONT'D)
        * * * * For them there's little hope.
        * * * * * * * * (MORE)

        -- You repeatedly use (CONT'D). Delete them. They're not necessary. The reader understands the speaker continues; besides it'll be less wasteful and cleaner without them.

        Instead of breaking the dialogue with (MORE) at the end of the page, move all of it to the top of the next page. Again, the page would be cleaner and less intrusive without (MORE) popping up every so often, breaking the dialogue.

        "...her darting blue eyes..."

        -- I hope it's important to the story that a producer has to hire an actress with blue eyes. And if it's not important, don't include it. Don't give me information that's not necessary.

        "The cat takes to the counter..."

        -- The cat? What cat? You never introduced a cat. Also, when you do introduce the cat into your story, you should be more specific instead of using the boring and generic cat.

        What's up with the "cat takes to the counter"? Is the cat attractive to the counter? You should use more stronger, expressive verbs.

        Since the cat is important to express some information to the reader, I would cap his first appearance.


        A portly TABBY (ROSCOE) leaps onto the counter, knocking a fork to the floor.

        "Her heart jams into her tonsils as she spins toward the noise."

        -- This is perfect. No fat, strong, expressive verbs and it's colorful.

        New writers always hear the phrase, "Say more with less," so they think a sentence like this is overwritten because they can express she's frightened in a shorter sentence.

        They don't realize they're butchering the writer's voice.

        When every word does necessary work, and it's necessary information that needs to be expressed to the reader, then it's not overwritten.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA
        * * * * Roscoe. Jesus.

        The cat leaps up against her leg and voices an apology.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA (CONT'D)
        * * * * They're full, Turkey. See for
        * * * * yourself.

        Rubbing against her legs, Roscoe proves a pain as she reaches for the fallen utensil. Trading famine for companionship, he makes for his over flowing bowls of food.

        -- With Monica being a religious woman, she wouldn't use Jesus' name in vain like this.

        When Monica says, "They're full ... See for yourself," I didn't know what she was talking about.

        The description after this didn't flow with the dialogue. Now, this is a perfect example of overwritten description. The information in this description, with the exception of the bowls of food, isn't important to express to the reader.


        * * * * * * * * MONICA
        * * * * Roscoe!

        Roscoe rubs up against her leg and purrs.

        * * * * * * * * MONICA
        * * * * They're full, Turkey. See for
        * * * * yourself.

        As Roscoe licks his mouth, he waddles toward his over flowing bowls of food.

        "...she pulls her hand back to regard the yellow..."

        -- "regard" sounds stiff. How about "watch"?

        "A smile. One of enjoyment. It touches her eyes."

        -- You showed with "smile" that she's happy. It's unnecessary to continue with "One of enjoyment."

        What's "It"? I have no idea what subject the pronoun "It" represents, and I don't understand what you're expressing with "touches her eyes." You need to make this clearer.

        "She grabs it again, a bit further back, and bites..."

        -- The description with "pot" is a couple of paragraphs back, so I would use the word "pot" in this sentence instead of "it."

        "a bit further back"

        -- As far as I can tell, it's not important to specify where she grabs the pot, so this is unnecessary information and should be deleted.

        "Replacing the pot she regards the burn with fascination, almost wonder, before she takes the bowl and a spoon into...


        And seats herself at the table."

        -- The word "before" throws all of this narrative off. You can't write that a character is going to do one action before she does another and leave it like that.

        You need to write out each action that the character does as it's happening.

        When you change scenes by highlighting part of a sentence, use ellipsis at the end and beginning of the break to indicate the sentence continues, and don't cap the beginning of the second part of the sentence because it's not a new sentence.


        Replacing the pot she regards the burn with fascination, almost wonder. She takes the bowl and a spoon into...


        ... and seats herself at the table.

        "As she prays and the apartment darkens."

        -- Replace "and" with a comma.

        "Outside the day sends sheets of rain at the world with fury."

        -- If you want an outside shot, you need to use an EXT. scene, or you can just describe the rain pelting the windows, something like that.

        "The cat looks up at her voice and..."

        -- Delete "at her voice."

        "A ghost"

        -- Delete this. Don't tell the reader it's a ghost. Let the reader do what the viewing audience must do, and that is to use their imagination to figure out what was that vision.

        "Agaisnt... us..."

        -- Don't cap the "A" because it's a continuation of a sentence.

        Example: ... against... us...

        You need to go over these pages and the rest of your story and work on your description in order to achieve a clear, concise and powerful read.

        (cut out the white space at the bottom)


        • #49
          A year's worth of jellybeans...

          And y'all wonder why I wanted to add some levity.

          I got dizzy just scrolling through that last post

          PS: In all seriousness, the central issue about format gripes versus story gripes has gotten a very impressive study here and you should be commended.


          • #50
            Okay, that's Buzz74: B-U-Z-Z74.

            Another name marked down on my sh!t list.


            • #51
              bzzzzzzz lightyear.


              • #52
                "why get so worked up about what someone thinks on a message board."
                this is an important statement.

                a message board is not reality. it's populated almost w/o exception by aspirants. the steady push/pull of the great debates ("we see" or not? directing on the page or not? parentheticals or not) continues on and on and on despite the fervor of those in the pro or con column who seem to convince no one except themselves. these debates only occur on the message board and hence should be taken w/ a healthy dose of salt


                • #53
                  There are some people, actually a majority of people, who are incapable of being writers. Sure they can put together a complete sentence, never misspell a word but their work remains uncompelling. they lack a fundamental ability to percieve what makes or what it takes to write compelling work.
                  And their feedback reflects that.
                  Which is not to say that those things aren't important, they are, but being able to talk about arc and character is a little more important.

                  now, can those people learn to look at those things, character and arc? sure, it's just a question of how much hard work they want to put into it.