Results - Halloween 2013 contest

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  • Results - Halloween 2013 contest

    And here are the results for the 2013 Halloween short script contest.

    1st place vote earns 3 points, 2nd place earns 2 points, 3rd place earns 1 point. Some folks couldn't make the voting, so the 3 bonus points for voting rule kicks in to balance this.

    Code:
                                         1st 2nd 3rd Vot Total
    HELLOWEEN - polfilmblog               1                3
    Devil's Mountain - Kowalski               1   3        5
    The Cutest Little Thing - ewtaylor            2        2
    Spider - ewtaylor                                      0
    Potter's Field - bioprofessor         1   1   4   1   12
    Motivation - Southern_land                3       1    9
    The Beans - silverlynx35                      3   1    6
    Doughboy - Jon Jay                    3   2       1   16
    Steve - Rich Weems                    3   2   2   1   18
    The Dead Watchers - Jai Brandon           1   3   1    8
    Molly - Mr. Earth                     2   1       1   11
    Coffin Creek - Dan Goforth            4   1       1   17
    The Taker - Road Warrior                          1    3
    The Bell - Road Warrior                           x    0
    The Reunion - Foxhound                1   1       1    8
    Butterflies - Karl Larsson                1   1   1    6
    Cinemassacre - Dr. Gonzo                      1   1    4
    Picky - bmcthomas                     1       1   1    7
    Satan's Moon - Colin Holmes           3   3       1   18
    Best Halloween Ever - Mark Twain Weck             1    3
    Versus - Ire                              1       1    5
    Requiem - Charles Burden                  1       1    5
    Danse Macabre - ReneC                 1       1   1    7
    Mating Call - dpaterso                    1       x    2
    Congrats to the highest hitters, Colin Holmes and Rich Weems for "Satan's Moon" and "Steve". Well dones for 2nd and 3rd place also go to Dan Goforth for "Coffin Creek" and Jon Jay for "Doughboy".

    Regardless of points and placement, congrats to everyone for writing to theme and deadline.

    Thanks also to LMPurves for taking time to read and vote.

    Any problems or errors, let me know ASAP and I'll fix.

    Y'all are invited to discuss entries here and post any comments if you have 'em.

    For posterity, the contest entries thread is here.
    Nobody knows nothing, and I'm nobody.


  • #2
    Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

    For my first effort at one of these things I'm pretty happy with third.

    In terms of feedback I'll wait and see how much other people add, as I suspect I'll just duplicate a lot of comments. Overall two things surprised me. Firstly, a lot of the entries felt very similar in 'voice'. I know we all go on a bit about the value of voice, but looking at the results I'd say the ones that stood out seem to be the ones where the writing had a sense of personality, a feeling that they couldn't have been written by someone else.

    The other thing - and this really struck me as odd - not many of the scripts were scary. Or even tried to be scary. I see this a lot in comedy scripts as well, where there are gags, but the actual writing - the A/D, the pacing - isn't funny. It was a useful reminder to me that you have to use every element of the writing to work the premise of the story.

    A brief word on Doughboy: this was an idea I had years ago. I pitched it to my wife, who said 'Great, but it would cost a fortune to make.' So I forgot about it until now. So the (massive) benefit I gained from this was actually sitting down and writing the f**ker. Still unlikely to ever get made...

    Thanks to all who read, voted, and especially the guys who organised this.

    JJ.

    PS: with my director's hat on, I'd have gone for Picky...
    Last edited by Jon Jay; 11-08-2013, 01:26 AM. Reason: added PS
    My stuff

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

      Here goes nuthin', these are my opinions only, I had to be a little picky in order to whittle entries down to just 3 choices.

      After a couple of read-throughs, I found myself voting for:

      1st - HELLOWEEN
      2nd - Versus
      3rd - Devil's Mountain


      1. HELLOWEEN

      Good visual read, imaginative, I thought this was a contender as soon as I read it. The cut-off and the unrestricted budget (!) make me think it's part of a feature-length screenplay. Still, gets a vote.

      2. Devil's Mountain

      Yeah pretty good, Scott and Trevor seemed to merge a little for me, and I think the owner could have easily been the one who showed the unwitting victims the way to their doom, but it wrapped up well and caught the horror mood, gets a vote.

      3. The Cutest Little Thing

      Nicely done, like a little Weird Tales vignette, though it occurred to me that Fluffy didn't have to change into anything to accomplish what he does. So that made the weird element feel kinda gratuitous.

      4. Spider

      Reads well, good menacing built-up from Craig and a creeeepy little basement scene, which is maybe missing Craig's reaction to seeing the horror. Interesting how Alvin's having the trap ready swaps their roles, Craig becomes the victim I almost feel sorry for. Alas other entries got the votes.

      5. Potter's Field

      No negative vibes intended, the kid POV and interplay didn't do it for me, things picked up when Aloysius appeared, but Dead-Eye Deacon seemed like a shoehorned-in horror element, whose demise came too easily.


      6. Motivation

      Good thriller beginning and a fun twist on the zombie thing, although those darn wrylies killed it for me towards the end, not sure if they were experimental, if so then thumbs down from me.


      7. The Beans

      This certainly has paranormal content but I found it didn't have any resonance for me, kids + gratuitous ghosts trying to tug my heartstrings, it seemed a little too Disney for my liking.


      8. Doughboy

      Not an unpleasant read, creepy Weird Tales kind of vibe, good use of props, didn't grab me enough to vote for it, though.


      9. Steve

      I love this woman, she needs her own spin-off movie, she even overshadowed the talking mutt, but that's okay 'cause that was kinda gimmicky anyway even if it was well executed.


      10. The Dead Watchers

      Not allergic to this but nor did it grab me, possibly due to a sense of too much banter and not enough horror content soon enough. Its turning into a training scenario seemed an overfamiliar trope.


      11. Molly

      Kinda ewwww for my tastes, but ignoring that, this felt like a compressed Stephen King style horror short, with an unlikely McGuffin dispensing justice to the nasty people. Kinda ewwww closing shot, too! Wrong kind of horror.


      12. Coffin Creek

      I thought this was a nicely done, menacing set-up... which oddly enough didn't really go anywhere except to prove reader expectations wrong. They are really just friendly folks who happen to fish using a coffin.


      13. The Taker

      I'm not sure if I really got this one.


      14. The Bell

      I'm not too keen on kids POV but there was a 1970s BBC vibe about this that made me keep reading. I thought it could've gone somewhere and included scenes that played on the increasingly disturbing psychological effects of the bell, but it just seems to cut out, maybe the page limit took the author by surprise, I dunno.


      15. The Reunion

      Some fun horror-ish stuff happens, but oh that smushy ending! Too inexplicably magical for me. There's also the question of what Joe would have done if the boys hadn't just happened along?


      16. Butterflies

      Nicely done and suitably tragic, but at least she went out happy! I don't think you needed to show her sucking on the barrel, but shrug, each to their own. Compared with other entries there wasn't as much genre content.


      17. Cinemassacre

      Reads well, high marks for horror butchery but the character interplay didn't quite ding my bell, just a little too familiar maybe. Tough luck for Jessica, why do the good-lookin' women always pick the lunatics? Gotta say, the "she's definitely dead" line was too much, I chuckled.


      18. Picky

      Fun read, amusing but not really horrifying. On a positive note, at least they didn't turn into cannibal gourmets, as I half-expected.


      19. Satan's Moon

      I liked the read, but saw a couple of problems. Fatman gets his revenge, but the sacrifice reveal pretty much comes out of nowhere without any warning or build-up. He also lets other dudes die horribly while he waits for the "right moment" which doesn't exactly endear him to me or make me root for him. So I enjoyed it up to a point.


      20. Best Halloween Ever

      I thought this was pretty divorced from Halloween despite the title, the idea's fun but it didn't quite gel for me. It also left me with the slightly disturbing thought that the author just ran some kiddie smut by me and I didn't notice on first read. I mention this in case it sparks a "Whoops, maybe something to avoid!" thought.


      21. Versus

      Entertaining little romp, some good lines, I think you could have done a bit more with the monsters and their breaking out, and not had such a "saved by the cops/army" ending, but still, gets a vote.


      22. Requiem

      Good read, the con-men didn't surprise me, but I thought the ending could have been more twisty and dark if the wife had been waiting there, knowing what was going to happen. But that's just a brain fart. Overall the horror levels didn't go high enough to catch a vote.


      23. Danse Macabre

      I enjoyed the read, but had the thought that it's really hard to set up a vengeful return like this within such a short space, set-up is pinched and pacing doesn't get much of a chance to come into play. I'm not sure if I got the music and the dancing, or why people were being slaughtered. But still, it's a suitably horrorific bloodbath and ending for the unfortunate (?) Vaughn. Alas other entries got the votes.


      24. Mating Call

      Mine, literally finished at the last moment, I didn't think I was going to make it, I was still giving this a sanity-check read even as I started to post the other entries! To my mind nothing I wrote ended up better than Halloween contest entries I'd submitted in the past, I very nearly recycled one of those instead. Maybe I should have, only 1 vote, I suck!
      Nobody knows nothing, and I'm nobody.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

        Congratulations to the winners, and to all those who entered. Thanks to Derek and Road Warrior for moderating this exercise-contest - or whatever you want to call it .

        After a quick read through all the entries, I culled the field and selected my top four with two main criteria/questions in mind:

        (1) Did the story hit an emotional chord (i.e. fright, comic, sympathy, etc.)?

        (2) CHARACTERS vs PLOT (related to #1). Did I feel for the characters and what was happening to them? Did they seem real and have depth? Were the characters key to the story, rather than simply one-dimensional placeholders? Did the characters drive the plot (good), or the other way around (bad).

        My top four picks (and comments)

        1st: Coffin Creek
        Tone was consistent with touches of suspense and humor. The characters were distinct and felt real and important to the story, rather them just being puppets to fill space as the plot unfolds. Good flow/pace. Story climaxes at the right time with the coffin opening – lots of suspense and a nice and funny twist.

        2nd: The Reunion
        A bit like a Scooby doo episode with the sci-fi and horror, but again, we care about these kids; they seem real, not too far-fetched that kids would let their curiosity get the best of them and get in trouble because of it.
        Not sure about the warm, fuzzy emotional ending. For some reason, I was expecting something creepy to happen or be revealed that hinted that the new day care was not all what it seemed to be. Pacing was good; action sequences inside the creepy store. “It’s chaos”- yep, I could really see the mayhem on the screen. Some OTN dialogue.

        3rd: Devil's Mountain
        Good irony - Two unsuspecting theme park employees become the garish main attraction on Halloween. Some nice dialogue set ups between the owner and workers that pay off later. The tension and suspense was nicely amped up toward the end. I really didn’t care about the characters, other than they worked well as victims. Probably the main issue that kept me from placing this higher.

        Honorable Mention: Cinemassacre
        A classic (and maybe clich├ęd) movie house turned house of horror tale, but I though it was executed well, and it is more than just a psycho slashing people – it’s driven by rage and intense jealously and therefore struck an emotional chord that kept my attention. Of course, the big question with these stories is, why didn’t someone immediately call the police?

        About my entry "Potter's Field." This was a bit of an homage to Gates Brown ('68 Detroit Tigers DH) who died recently. Brown's death, my love for baseball, and the haunting memory of visiting a local cemetery and learning about a potter's field set off in a far corner of the property, provided the key elements of my story.
        Last edited by bioprofessor; 11-08-2013, 03:17 AM. Reason: Cleaned up rough notes to make more readable

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

          I'm surprised our hosts didn't do better. I was so close to giving "The Bell" a 3rd place vote becasue of that endearing stuttering kid, but I went with "Steve" literally at the last second -- you're welcome Mr. Weems.

          I loved Mating Call. It got one 2nd place vote from me. It was so stupidly funny -- Yip Yip LOL. And that mindless exposition at the end had me cracking up -- "Yes this is telling instead of showing, but it adds atmosphere" ROFL. Who knows, maybe on a deep down psychological level I just voted becasue it had a fox.

          Finally, Jon Jay got robbed. His writing, though florid, was superb. Ubervisual. Go easy on the hyphens though
          I'm never wrong. Reality is just stubborn.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

            As Derek said, congrats to all for participating and hammering out pages! Super congrats to the winners for standing out in a sea of entries. Here are my massive amounts of comments for you to disagree with, haha.

            STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I am not a screenwriting genius (though I do consider myself a creative one). I haven't yet sold a screenplay and have never taken a single screenwriting class. Take what I say not as gospel, but as one man's opinion. Also, these comments are not created equally: some are much more in-depth, while others are brief in comparison. Understand this is a product of the writer's work inspiring me to write more, not a conscious decision to write less. Evaluating these entries took tremendous effort on my part, so I do hope you all appreciate the feedback, even if you don't agree with every point I raised. With that said, let's get to it!

            HELLOWEEN - First impressions: a little overwritten. TONS of characters being thrown at me. The major problem? I didn't entirely understand what was happening. Were these demons fighting to flee Hell? What was the significance of the bubble? Does this bubble encapsulate Hell? Turns out this entry wasn't a short, but rather the beginning of a larger piece of work. This would be okay, as long as I walked away from the story with knowledge of what was going on, or what was to come, but that didn't happen here. It might play out great in the end, with all of my concerns being answered, but unfortunately I wouldn't make it to that point. I didn't find the writing particularly strong enough to give the author the benefit of the doubt. Representing the opening to a larger piece of work, these pages should have been clear enough to understand what was going on and strong enough to entice the reader to read further.

            *3RD PLACE: DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN - Had reservations about the opening conversation and what it related to in the overall scope of the story. Having concluded the piece, my fears were confirmed: the story about stealing food from the dumpster in no way related to the whole. Take it out of there. That will also rid Trevor of incriminating himself. Another no-no. In a short, space is precious. Everything should be relative, or tie-in, in some way.
            When the boss came in and had a seat, I was turned off by the blatant exposition about the ride and the dummies. It's fine if it comes across in a conversational manner, but this expositional dialogue was in here for the reader, not for the characters. Of course, being a Halloween entry, I was fully expecting these two to end up as the dummies, and my expectations were met. However, the fact that I was able to stay ahead of the writer didn't subtract from my interest in the story. I loved the grim ending. I won't even call into question the murders/missing people this ride must be responsible for, or any other logical issues pertaining to their deaths, my main complaint was that the story needed to open with something relative to the situation AND the blatant exposition needs to be hidden better. In an opening relative to the story, the background of these boys -- and why they wouldn't be missed if they went missing -- would've been covered. Throughout their conversation we'd learn why they'd be the perfect candidates to serve as dummies. Anyway, I dug it and felt it was worthy of a third place finish (though it was challenged mightily by the other Honorable Mentions).

            THE CUTEST LITTLE THING - First impressions: campy, but fun. When the neighbor, Mr. Grimms, rubbed the photo and laughed maniacally, I couldn't help but think of the villain from "Inspector Gadget." You know, the unseen guy who sits in that chair and strokes the cat? Felt veryyy similar.
            "Couldn't stand the thought of my little fluffy getting pounded." Nice play on words there. What torpedoed the read for me was when she decided to go take a shower while a man was still in her home. No way. I can suspend belief to a certain point, but that's asking a lot. If the writer is female, I'd ask, "have you ever taken a shower while alone in your home with a stranger present?" After this scenario, things started to happen which only raised more questions: what is this cat? Where did it come from? How long have these two been neighbors? Why has Grimms targeted these 13 women? Why Heather in particular?
            I realize it's hard to accomplish a fleshed out concept in 8 pages, but unanswered questions -- at least for me -- are generally tough for me to look past.

            SPIDER - Something about the set-up didn't ring true to me... Alvin so easily accepting a stranger into his home. Craig so ridiculously nosey and suspicious. Why is Alvin speaking to a potato and what does he mean by, "I won't make it"? What does a meteor strike have to do with anything? In addition to these questions, there were also TONS of directions on the page that I wasn't in agreement with: Craig smiles, Alvin smiles back. Craig looks at him, Alvin stops smiling, Alvin looks worried, etc. So much of this when it wasn't necessary.
            Was there no smell emanating from the severed heads and body parts in the basement? What does the title mean? If Alvin isn't serving meat for dinner, then what's he doing with all that meat in the basement? I would also take out the Halloween reference as it felt like a last minute throw-in; it didn't organically tie-in to the story in any way. Had lots of unanswered questions in this one, so I wasn't able to fully appreciate the story.

            *1ST PLACE: POTTER'S FIELD - I felt this tale had the most "togetherness" among entries that were closest to a fully fleshed out story (well, except for my "The Dead Watchers" entry, muahahaha). Okay, folks, in all seriousness, I didn't walk away with tons of unanswered questions. However, there were still some I would've loved to have answered. I'll get to those in a bit...
            Technical issue: I was momentarily confused with the transition to the Baseball Field. The scene before, Gates was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling. The very next scene we're at a baseball field. Easy fix: if the words in Darious's prayer in some way relate to the "help us" discovery at the field, his words could resonate with Gates, who immediately sits up, throws on some shoes, and grabs his baseball. In this situation, the reader would know "we'll be going somewhere shortly," and the transition would be a little smoother.
            Another issue I had was the appearance of the apparition, Aloysius: Gates and Jose were far too accepting of this spirit. If I looked up and found a ghost speaking to me, I'm taking off in the other direction and not looking back. Maybe curiosity gets the best of me and I return later, but I gotta let a situation like this marinate before I'm so quick to accept it. I realize I'm saying, "I, I, I" in addressing my reaction, but I think the reactions for most other people would be similar. Other questions I wanted answered:
            How did Jose leave Gate's side and sneak behind Deacon?
            Have you ever heard a story in which ghosts are allowed to kill the living?
            These questions are a little different from the ones I had for many of the other entries, so when you add competent writing, original ideas, and a clear beginning, middle, and end, it only felt right to give Potter's Field my first place vote.

            *HONORABLE MENTION: MOTIVATION - The way the dialogue came across in the beginning, I was confused as to what was happening, and had to go back and re-read to get a hold on the action. When Edgar told Bobby to "put down the food. Quietly." while holding a shotgun in his hands, it made it seem as though there was a double cross of some sort, when in reality, Edgar just wanted Bobby to put the groceries down so the trio could run away. There's a much clearer way to handle that exchange; most notably, let Bobby do whatever Bobby wants to do. Whether he tries to carry the groceries, or puts them down in exchange for his gun, Bobby's choice doesn't affect Edgar's safety. Why do we need characters telling others what to do, if those commands don't directly affect their own safety, or the safety of the group?
            I was also disappointed to find these guys didn't think as a group. No collective brainstorming of ways to get out of perilous situations. Throwing the can of food across the parking lot, smashing a window on another vehicle, should have been the FIRST thing to come to mind. I know it's what I was thinking when they were arguing about taking or leaving groceries. If these guys were to outsmart their brainless counterparts, they could've escaped with the groceries in hand AND refrained from firing a single shot.
            The most interesting and original idea to this piece was the Zombie Vision. It put a fresh twist on what otherwise could've been a ho-hum story. I liked living in this POV, knowing that these guys didn't lose conscious thought just because they were transformed.
            I had this entry on my short list of third place finishers and had to designate it with an Honorable Mention tag.

            BEANS - First impression: "why does chronological age matter?" Seemed like an entire paragraph devoted to who was the oldest, with all of these names being thrown at me at once, when it could've simply played as:

            Four teenaged/pre-teen/prepubescent boys walk along a woodland trail.

            STEVE, leader of the group, turns to the others as they
            approach a ridge overlooking the town of Monroe, Washington.

            STEVE'S DIALOGUE

            LARRY, [his description here], scoffs...

            LARRY'S DIALOGUE

            STEVE'S DIALOGUE

            KENNY, [his description here], trails the three by several
            yards. He shouts from the rear...

            KENNY'S DIALOGUE

            Etc., etc., etc. Rather than lumping everyone into one paragraph, give them each an introduction before they become meaningful characters. It'll be easier to remember them that way. As for the rest of the story, there was something about jumping from night to night that doesn't sit well with me. Is there any way to condense these multiple nights into one, solitary evening? The urgency of the scene leaves when time elapses and in between nights I'm wondering what your characters are doing. What are they talking about when they're living out their lives? What stories are we missing during the day?
            The way the old man had four beans conveniently laid out for the group also seemed a little staged. If they're so precious -- and they are since they allow him to speak with his deceased son -- they shouldn't be so readily available and out in the open. We're talking about items that, unlike jewelry, can't be replaced! Give them a location, not necessarily a safe, that tells me old man Beans cares about them.
            If this was the Nicholl, my PS would read, "this entry was in the next group after Honorable Mentions."

            *2ND PLACE: DOUGHBOY - Definitely the most disturbing entry; and I mean that in a good way. First impression was that it started out with a Stepford Wives kinda vibe and I was drawn in by the oddness of it all. I was engrossed throughout the entire read, but came away with no idea what the story was about. Talk about questions left unanswered! But somehow, someway, the writing and oddity of it all was strong enough to garner my second place vote.
            Who is Boy? Was Girl his sister? Why was Girl seemingly oblivious to her brother's powers (?) and her surroundings? Almost felt as though Girl hadn't been around Mother and Boy and father gave her permission to stay for the weekend. If this was the case, so many answers would be satisfied by her curiosity for Boy's room, her lack of awareness in the house, as well as her lack of understanding about who (or what) she was up against.
            What about these strange figurines? Where did they come from? Why does Boy have them? How are they able to turn living things into plasticine, or is this the work of Boy? What is the connection between these figurines and Boy's insatiable hunger?
            Why does Girl get a kick out of torturing Boy with smells of bacon? Her behavior just seemed so odd and unprovoked. And if she has been in this household with Mother and Boy, she'd know not to cross Boy. She'd fear him. Yet there she is, crushing his figurines and torturing him with smells of bacon.
            Why did Mother leave Girl alone with Boy if this outcome was a possibility? Mother's hands are made of dough, she knows Boy is capable of turning Girl into plasticine. She acted so shocked and horrified after discovering the new version of Girl, that I wanted to ask her, "what did you expect?!"
            Despite the story flaws, I felt the writing was compelling enough to earn my second place vote. I could easily see the writer writing something along the lines of Insidious. There's a twisted, creative mind at play here and that's a dangerous tool to have!

            *HONORABLE MENTION: STEVE - I liked this serial killer tale told from the POV of Steve (the dog), but unfortunately, there wasn't anything there for me to *love*. The meat of the story is pretty straightforward, a tale that has been told numerous times. The originality comes in the form of a talking dog and to a lesser extent, a victim who knows how to fight back. Speaking of the woman, I liked her fight and was rooting for her in the beginning, but when she cracked Steve's back, I found myself rooting for Steve and his caretaker! The writer deserves points for making me care about the characters in such a short amount of time and it's a testament to the strength of his/her craft.
            On a technical note, I would definitely lose the bit about, "nothing but Steve time now," because the transition to your very next scene was a little jarring. The expectation was that we were about to get to know Steve in some way, but in the next scene, time has elapsed and he's asleep on the couch. There was no "Steve time" for the reader, so to speak.
            There weren't any glaring holes, or questions left unanswered in this one, but at the same time, the level of difficulty wasn't as high as my other top three vote receivers. Since the story is mined from extremely familiar ground -- a male serial killer who murders females -- it wasn't entirely original. Aside from Steve's POV, it lacks that one extra punch to take it from "good" to "great." If you're going to write a familiar short story, it's going to need as many new and fresh ideas as possible to make it sparkle. Something as simple as a nerdy female serial killer who only kills geeks/nerds would be different. It would also give her depth and history as a character. Why does she hate fellow nerds? An ugly female serial killer who only kills pretty girls? Or vice versa? I don't know, just brainstorming for originality here. Steve was a start, but he wasn't enough. On the strength of the writing, this story deserves an Honorable Mention and it was one of the few on the cusp of receiving my third place vote.
            Last edited by Jai Brandon; 11-08-2013, 04:35 AM.
            FADE IN:
            PERSEVERANCE OVERCOMES ADVERSITY
            NEVER FADE OUT.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

              MOLLY - Probably the strangest entry... A quick note on a technical issue: going through the entry for a second time, I didn't even notice that Mark's name appears while Molly and the customer are exchanging words. Should MARK have read MOLLY? Specifically the lines, "nobody ever looks at those things..." and "mostly so old people won't freak out..." There are a few things off with the introduction of these characters and Mark needed his moment in the sun (his introduction) before speaking. Was he standing next to Molly the entire time? If so, why? What is his role in this store?
              As for the actual story, it was definitely original, and though I'm supposed to suspend a level of belief, I couldn't buy that Molly wouldn't do what 99% of the other people in this world would do, having just pulled a creature out of her face: rush to the emergency room. Even in horror flicks, you still want to keep reactions consistent with real life. The horror films that fail to do so, are the ones that have people groaning in their theater seats -- ie. "let's split up"/investigating murderous noises/or other "stupid people" moments.
              Why was Pete's sperm toxic? Why was Molly so comfortable around these foreign, grotesque worms? Though Mark and Pete needed their comeuppance for what they did to Molly, I didn't think DEATH was a suitable punishment. My feelings for Molly went from empathy to detest by the time the pages were over and I'm not sure if that's what you were going for. Points for originality, but there were too many issues left on the table in this one.

              *HONORABLE MENTION: COFFIN CREEK - Another one of those stories vying for my third place vote. Way to play against expectations! As a Halloween/horror themed writing exercise, I kept waiting for the evil in this story to emerge. I thought we were headed for an explosive ending and I loved the tension throughout, but once the end hit, I was left with an unsatisfied, "blue balls" feeling. I think the story was missing one key element to push it into greener pastures. More on that in a minute, but for now, the build up...
              First, since when have we become so cynical? Katelin gives Elmore ZERO benefit of a doubt and was ready to mace him... for... what, exactly...? I would bring her reaction down to something a little more subtle. Perhaps she removes the mace, but doesn't yet threaten this guy who could be an answer to her undesirable situation. Even in all her bitchiness, she doesn't want to cut off the arm that could pull her to safety.
              Elmore also has to be a human bat to hear Katelin murmuring to herself, in a closed car, down a path, away from where he was sitting. How is this even humanly possible?
              I'm not sure how much Leroy adds to the story. In fact, he was more of a distraction than anything. He didn't add to the tension of the scene, because I had no idea what he was doing. That's fine if I think he's up to no good, in which case tension would be heightened, but his presence here was never foreboding. Just seemed like a gentle giant who liked the NYE Times Square Ball Drop.
              Leroy's discovery raised more unanswered questions: why was this coffin in the water? Who does it belong to? Why is there a gigantic catfish inside? Is this a country bumpkin fishing technique?
              I don't know if the writer fully utilized the entire 8 pages, but to curtail the "blue balls" effect, I think the ending ABSOLUTELY needed the evil that was missing throughout. All along, expectations were reversed, which gave the script a strong showing, but capping it off without a final twist/reversal left it short. Consider:

              ELMORE (CONT'D)
              That'll be the wrecker. Can I
              interest you in a catfish dinner?

              Her turn to smile. She notices that she's still holding the
              mace canister. She drops it in her purse.

              KATELIN
              I think I'd like that. Happy
              Halloween.

              ELMORE
              Indeed it is.

              Elmore's smile deteriorates. He SHOUTS...

              ELMORE
              Drop it!

              KATELIN
              What?

              LEROY (O.C.)
              Oooh, this the fun part!

              After a moment, sounds of metal CRASHING, TUMBLING down a ravine;
              SPLASHING into a body of water.

              LEROY
              There it goes!

              Leroy LAUGHS maniacally. Katelin's face registers primal fear.
              She musters up the courage to ask...

              KATELIN
              What was that?

              ELMORE
              That'd be the ball dropping.

              Elmore smiles devilishly.

              [end]

              Had the ending included a final twist/thematic reversal, the piece absolutely would have taken my number one spot. As it is now, it deserves an Honorable Mention for being in the running for third place.

              THE TAKER - Dear, father, I have a confession to make: I have literally NO IDEA what was going on in this piece; even after a second read to write the notes. For starters, the staccato writing style was a problem for me. I also didn't know who these kids were, what purpose the character capsules served, or what I was supposed to take away after concluding the read. The dialogue was often unrelated to whatever statements made before, so it was difficult to get a grasp on what was happening. Please tell me the significance of:
              Bradford, England 1991...
              Halloween Night...
              Doesn't mean anything to me; but I am an American, so if this was a big event in world history, chalk it up to ethnocentricity. At any rate, apologies for not being able to provide helpful notes, but I just don't understand The Taker. At all.

              THE BELL - First impression: what was the writer trying to accomplish with the opening scene? Is the game of Jacks while seated on the Deakins' porch important?
              I hope so.
              What does the "strong" conversation at the breakfast table have to do with the story? Will it tie-in, in some way to events that are to come?
              I hope so.
              Is the classroom scene that took up so much room in this short relative to the overall scope of the story?
              I hope so.
              Having concluded the read, I see that each and every one of those hopes were doused with a 5 gallon bucket of water. I said it before and I'll say it again: space is precious, especially in a short. Use it wisely! I feel we could have started the story at this point...

              EXT. SHAW'S LANE, OPPOSITE THE SCHOOL, LATER

              Willie sits swinging his legs whilst watching Meadows try to
              buttress in a spider that keeps running from him.

              ...and lost absolutely nothing. The subsequent conversation between Meadows and Willie is also the first moment we realize that Meadows has a stuttering problem. It wasn't there in the beginning and it wasn't there at the end, so it was pretty inconsistent throughout. Usually if a character has a specific trait, such as this one, it's used advantageously at some point (either positively or negatively); but here, it never factored into the story's equation. Just seemed tacked on to Meadows's character.
              Miss Trimm, Withers, Mr. and Mrs. Sandhurst, the Teacher, and the kid, weren't justifiable characters. They could quietly exit stage right and we wouldn't miss them at all.
              Also didn't understand the *need* to go up to the Church just because it was abandoned. What was the purpose? The motivation? When they arrived, they were only lounging around, so it's not like they went to accomplish a task. EDIT: after reading a third time, I did catch that the two were waiting for midnight, but it was never properly set-up in the pages before. Or if it was, it was buried somewhere, so their motivation wasn't clear.
              Alas, I couldn't get into this one. With the wasted space and the lack of a clear story line, it just didn't appeal to me.

              THE REUNION - First impressions: three characters given to me at once, when it's easier to serve them up individually, before each of them speaks. See the advice I gave for Beans. Toby's first line of dialogue was very OTN, so the author is already losing the battle to hold a reader's interest. It'd be better if you were to chop that line altogether. We miss nothing if it's gone. The subsequent gay talk was a little questionable, because I'm 93.72% sure it has nothing to do with this story. Remember, space is precious. Just about every line should serve a past, present, or future purpose. There is no purpose if we're talking about "Green Lantern's gay, Aquaman's gay, they're all gay," etc., etc., etc. Banter is fine, but not if it's unrelated to the story.
              The second red flag was Mike belittling Toby for holding onto a locket given to him by his deceased mother. I can't speak for everyone else, but if my friend's mother was deceased and he carried a locket in remembrance, there's no way I'm telling him, "dude, leave that thing in the house. She died, get over it." Talk about insensitive.
              How did these boys get into the store? Was the only obstacle a rusted security gate? I must have missed the part about busting through a door, or crawling through a broken window.
              The dialogue needs many more passes. Too many unnatural sounding exchanges. "Toby, get your iPhone light out" would sound immensely better as, "one of you got a light?" This even gives you room for play time:

              "Uh, we don't smoke."
              "No, stupid! Like a flashlight or something."
              Toby whips out his iPhone.

              "Stop it, Mike. You're scaring me." Please, please, please, can we eradicate this line ASAP?! Kids don't admit to being scared (or sleepy). If they are, they'll generally deflect their fear, "you're not scaring anyone." OR they'll just choose to remain quiet.
              Seemed strange for Joe to be waiting around in a room when time was of the essence and he needed mass to complete an inter-dimensional exchange. He should be out trying to find someone who had the proper weight, rather than sitting around hoping for some kids to break and enter into his place. No way he knew he'd be guaranteed company. Why? Because there was candy on the shelves? Don't think so.
              Also can't get on-board with how the locket unexplainably developed some sort of spiritualistic power. These ideas MUST be hashed out through proper channels: plants/set-ups/etc. It's illogical to spring them onto a reader, "just because."
              At least I didn't have any complaints about the story being too difficult to follow. I always knew what was going on, but going forward, I'd say to work on dialogue and eliminate any "just because I want it to happen" moments. There are rules to follow, even in fantasy, and everything must always abide by those rules.

              BUTTERFLIES - In many ways this tale was reminiscent of many of the other entries in this competition: competently written, but missing a spark, or an idea of some kind to push it over the top. Something that allows the piece to shine amongst its peers. Of course this is just my opinion and I wouldn't be surprised to see it finish with votes. It did have some redeeming qualities.
              The opening started pretty strong. Nice visuals. The only thing missing was a moment for Ella to stop and take in a passing breeze. I don't mean this literally, of course, I just wanted to convey the tranquility felt while reading.
              The first problem began when Olivia showed up. The problem wasn't that she was there, the problem is she didn't have a reason to be there. Olivia is nothing more than a plot device, created to explain Ella's situation to the reader. I understand Olivia doesn't visit Ella often, so if she does visit, it HAS to be with purpose. Put simply, if Ella wasn't holding onto dear old dad's shirt, what would Olivia do or say in the opening of this story? I'll give you a hint, it ain't pretty:

              OLIVIA
              Hi, mom.

              ELLA
              Olivia! It's nice to see you. Have
              you come for dinner?

              OLIVIA
              No, I was stopping off on the way to
              the store. Brad... You know... I'm
              sorry, mom.

              ELLA
              That's okay.

              OLIVIA
              I'll try to come back next month, if...
              when work settles down.

              ELLA
              That would be nice. Go, go, go!

              OLIVIA
              Toodles.

              You see? Subtract the convenience of mother wearing the shirt and it's clear Ella's daughter has no purpose here. "Hi, mom. Bye, mom. See you in a month." doesn't make sense. Now, if she was there for a specific reason, she would show up for that purpose and then you'd have the added benefit of having her set mother straight. She would be less plot device and more human being.
              After concluding the story, I liked the twist, but sadly there wasn't enough meat on this chicken bone. The twist alone isn't enough to carry the story, there has to be more to it. More ideas. In its current state, I'd have to question the Olivia character altogether. She serves absolutely no purpose and can easily be eliminated without losing much. How do we integrate her into the story while developing secondary ideas? You brought up an inheritance. Use that as motivation! Perhaps Olivia is the culprit for her father's mysterious disappearance and somehow guilts Ella into thinking she's the one responsible. "It was YOU! You pushed him away! YOU!" Instant conflict. She wants her mother gone so she and Brad can get the inheritance. She's going to be the villain in this tale and attempt to drive Ella straight into the ground. We'd have characters to root for and characters to root against. This B story can run concurrently with your A story. Mother admires the butterfly, convinced the little guy is Scott. She reaches for a GUN, places the barrel in her mouth and -- Given what happens in the B story, this is an ending for you to finish. If this was the Nicholl, my PS would read, "this entry was in the next group after Honorable Mentions."

              CINEMASSACRE - Full disclosure: I recognized this piece as Dr. Gonzo's entry from 2011, titled C I N E P L E X. I had too many other scripts to tackle, with notes to give to each of those writers, so I didn't go back to re-read an entry that had previously been discussed and had already received notes.
              FADE IN:
              PERSEVERANCE OVERCOMES ADVERSITY
              NEVER FADE OUT.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                PICKY - Like Butterflies and a few entries before it, this was another story that was competently written, but was missing that extra spark to push it over the top. It's refreshing to read dialogue that sings and the writer clearly knows what he/she is doing in this area, so kudos. Now for the issue at hand... There isn't a single set-up, plant, pay-off, or twist in this story. No reader rewards. It's TOO straightforward. Is there any meat we can add to this tale? (pun intended) Let's see...
                This is an eating group, yes? The dilemma in coming up with a new idea, is that every single one of these characters share the same problem. They're all "discriminating" eaters. There's not many other places to go with that. Except... What if a new guest shows up right around the time Carolyn begins to apologize to the group? Hopefully this new guest will be the spark the story is missing. Let's meet PETE...

                Janine reaches for something in her pocket.

                Stephen hums something that sounds like "Warriors,
                come out to play..."

                CAROLYN
                Look, I didn't mean - I just...
                I'll go, okay? See? I'm go--

                PETE (O.S.)
                Excuse me?

                The group diverts their attention to the entrance.
                A portly man occupies the doorway: PETE (30s).

                PETE
                This the room for that eatin' group?

                STEPHEN
                It is.

                PETE
                Great, I'm Pete. Been lookin' for
                you guys all night.

                Pete walks in, absorbs the tension in the room.
                Finds the group bearing down on Carolyn.

                PETE
                Am I... interruptin' something here?

                CAROLYN
                Nope, I was just leaving. Nice meeting
                you all!

                Carolyn dashes through the door like her hair is
                on fire.

                PETE
                Cute girl.

                The group studies their new target: looks as though
                he's straight from the backwoods of Louisiana.

                JANINE
                Tell us, Pete... What is your
                position on our fear of food and
                how it's relative to fear of change?

                The fire breathers wait with anticipation, menacing,
                hoping for a reason to crucify the new guest.

                PETE
                Fear of food? You guys kiddin'?!
                Shucks, I wish I could stop eatin'!

                What did Pete just say? Confusion overtakes the group.

                GREG
                Wait. What?

                PETE
                Yeah, I mean, I wish I could stop
                eatin'. I'm burnin' a hole through my
                pockets faster than a California wildfire.

                Confusion amongst the four.

                DALE
                I think you're in the wrong room,
                pal.

                PETE
                This ain't "I'm An Inmate In The Kitchen"?

                JANINE
                No, this is "Welcome To Food Freedom." A
                group for the discriminative eater.

                PETE
                Huh. Well that's strange.

                GREG
                (to Pete)
                What's it like?

                PETE
                What? Eatin' everythang in site? Aw, it's
                Hell, son. Can't turn nothin' away. Ain't a
                piece of meat my taste buds don't like.

                STEPHEN
                That's crazy.

                PETE
                Yep. And you wanna know the craziest?

                JANINE
                No, we don't. You can stop right there.

                DALE
                Yeah, we don't need anymore of your story.

                PETE
                My story?
                (chuckles)
                Oh, I ain't come to tell no story.

                GREG
                Well, what did you come for?

                Pete whistles. In seconds, THREE TEENAGED BOYS
                enter the room, all strapped with CROSSBOWS.

                JANINE
                What is the meaning of this?!

                PETE
                I means to save some money, that's what
                this is.

                STEPHEN
                Wait. Are you saying--

                PETE
                Just realized today... There's a whole lotta
                meat out there that ain't been tapped yet.

                Pete smiles. The group GASPS in horror.

                [the end]

                To come up with that ending, I had to think of an idea, opposite your script's situation, that would hopefully be the missing piece of the puzzle. If everyone in the room was a picky eater, in order to flesh the piece out, one individual would have to have trouble turning food away. You could take the Pete character and make him a sophisticated, soft spoken weirdo. Whatever. However you approach the character, he is the "yang" to the script's "ying." An idea that would've vaulted the script into a top 3 placement. Of course this is only one man's opinion and others may like the original ending better. In its current state, if this was the Nicholl, my PS would read, "this entry was in the next group after Honorable Mentions."

                SATAN'S MOON - I like a story that influences a reader to think one way and then plays against that expectation. We had that here with Satan's Moon. It was one of the more difficult entries to execute. Borderline impossible actually. I didn't have any issues with the story until the Fatman joined in on the witches incantation. That's when the fun started...
                By virtue of Fatman's knowledge of his situation, a million questions immediately followed this twist.
                Okay, maybe not a million, more like 999,999. At first I thought it was cool that Fatman was a repeat customer and then the dreaded "L" word slapped me across the face: logic. Let's start at the top... Knowing what I know after concluding the story, exchanges like the following don't make much sense in context. Just to remind our audience at home, Chelsea and Samantha are on the prowl to find a virgin male:

                SAMANTHA
                Is this fan-f***ing-tastic or
                what?

                CHELSEA
                Can we just get this over with?

                SAMANTHA
                If we can't get you taken care of
                here - tonight - it just can't
                happen.

                CHELSEA
                That's encouraging.

                I won't question Chelsea's lack of patience, though a little odd, but I will question Samantha's declaration, "if we can't get you taken care of here - tonight - it just can't happen." Just what did she mean by this statement? Did I miss something here? What in the world leads Samantha to believe, unequivocally, that they're in a den of virgin males? You're trying to mislead by having the reader think Samantha's mission is to get Chelsea laid, but at the same time, knowing what I know and going back through the pages, it's a pretty blatant cheat. There were a few of them in this story. Also, what's up with Chelsea's sarcastic quip, "that's encouraging." Perhaps it wasn't meant as sarcasm and if that's the case, then there's some genius level writing on display here. More sarcasm that [maybe] wasn't intended to be sarcasm:

                CHELSEA
                I bet you're a virgin too, huh?

                The look and falter give him away.

                FATMAN
                Ha! Of course not.

                CHELSEA
                Perfect. Just perfect.

                The only way Chelsea's words make sense is if we take them at face value. I'd ask the writer to be honest: is this what you intended? Or was it meant as sarcasm? If it wasn't meant as sarcasm, then Chelsea's impatient, bitchy character, becomes even more problematic to diagnose. Also struggled with this situation:

                SAMANTHA
                Who wants to party?!

                5 hands go up. Fatman drops his beer. More idiotic
                howling. Two of the Zombies bump and grind with Samantha,
                her red cup sloshes as she hoists it high.

                CHELSEA
                Really? These guys?

                SAMANTHA
                You don't think?

                No. I don't. There's nothing about the actions of inebriated, idiot dudes that screams "virgin." We KNOW alcohol leads to lower inhibitions and stupid decisions, so I'm pretty sure these are the types who would screw Medusa if given the chance. Oh, I found another cheat:

                SAMANTHA
                Got mine. Where's yours?

                CHELSEA
                He'll be back.

                Chelsea gestures to the wavering, plastered Zombie
                Samantha is wearing.

                CHELSEA
                You think?

                SAMANTHA
                He'll do.

                CHELSEA
                Something tells me he's not
                exactly "the one."

                SAMANTHA
                He's good practice.

                Chelsea rolls her eyes.

                Knowing the girls' hidden agenda, this type of exchange makes very little sense in the context of the story. "He'll do"? I guess these girls don't take their witchcraft seriously.
                What did Samantha mean by "he's good practice"? Why does Chelsea have a lingering attitude, which would imply she has no interest in the rituals, only to be front and center leading the charge at the farmhouse? She's a very wishy-washy character. What makes this piece nearly impossible to execute are the following four questions:
                1) What are the odds of randomly picking the fatman again?
                2) Why wouldn't the witches verify that their sacrifices were all in fact, sacrificed??
                3) Why are they sacrificing dudes without 100% certainty of virgin status?
                But the BIGGEST question of them all:
                4) What has Todd/The Fatman been doing for an ENTIRE YEAR since these girls tried to kill him???
                The author deserves credit for attempting a story that plays against expectations, while delivering an unexpected twist, but I think he/she bit off a little more than he/she can chew in this one.

                BEST HALLOWEEN EVER - This was a disturbing piece. And not in a good way. The writer has kids assuming the roles of adults, and with the risque adult theme, that wasn't cool to visualize. Keep in mind these characters are 4 and 7 years old:

                LISA
                You'll love it. Morning-glories
                every morning. Diamond-cutters and
                blue-veiners all day.

                INT. KIDS BEDROOM - NIGHT

                Lisa is sitting up in bed. Eddie straddles her legs.

                EDDIE
                How do you feel about incest, Husband?

                LISA
                I'm feeling it right now, Wife.

                Lisa pulls Eddie closer. They peck. Soft. Sweet.

                Yuck. The whole thing felt like some kind of parody, like the writer entered the pages looking for shock value rather than a piece he/she spent valuable time constructing.
                Bazza and Shazza? And their profanity laced "F**k America" tirades? The only thing I get when I walk away from this piece are a 4 and 7 year old spooning in bed and F**K AMERICA! That basically sums up this entry. By far my least favorite of them all.

                VERSUS - I'm not sure how the title relates to the story, but this was another entry where I wasn't entirely sure what was happening and more importantly WHY it was happening. What are these Alphas? Why are they in existence? Are they home grown experiments, or aliens from above? I'm going to take a stab at it, since the author didn't provide me with a single shred of background information: the Alphas are home grown creatures, cultivated by the government for purposes of combat in times of war. There, I feel better now.
                The first half of your story should have served the purpose of explaining what they are and how they escaped. The current first half was cluttered with so much incidental information and characters: Jooj, Con, Abby, Kimmie, Claire, Aliens, that it sent my head into a tizzy. (is that word still around?) If I have to ask a question as simple as, "what are these Alphas?" the very creature in your script, then we have major problems.
                It's cool to be ambitious, but not at the price of an inorganic, or all too simple, unexplained story line: creatures escape/kids hang out at Starbucks/kids attacked/military saves the day. That's the entire story right there, with no other depth, or thoughtful background information. I don't care about frappucinos, Con lying about being a junior, a faulty headset, the fact that there's no soy, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, or whether or not Con has his pubes yet. All of this only gets in the way of the story and robs you of valuable time you could've used to give the reader pertinent background information.
                The only instance where things started to get interesting was when the creatures showed up. That's something the reader can hold onto. Something that has purpose and merits the space. The end was so rushed and abrupt, that I'm sure almost everyone walked away from this tale with an unsatisified feeling. There were just too many questions left unanswered. Too much space wasted.

                REQUIEM - I'm always on-board with stories born out of scam, only for the scammers to get a dose of harsh reality. I liked the set-up here with Blake and Adam, my only criticism at the outset was that these two should've dressed the part. No doubt they're probably charging Mrs. Riley a pretty penny, so the duo should've showed up in professional clothing; not in a faded Nintendo hoody. Would've made the piece that much stronger when they rip off their snazzy duds after Mrs. Riley's exit and dress down to what they're usually comfortable wearing. Commit fully to the scam, boys!
                Was thoroughly turned off by Blake's "this could be the real thing" speech. It had no merit and totally came out of left field. Besides whatever literature he half-heartedly read in the past, there was nothing leading up to this moment that would suggest Blake believes this job is nothing more than just another con. It was expositional dialogue that served the reader rather than the characters.
                The ending is what totally derailed this story for me. What became of Adam? He completely disappeared after Blake left to play the piano. What is an "immaculate hand with varnished nails" supposed to mean? Is this the hand of the ethereal man? Is his opening of the door an indication that evil has been released into the world? Actually, I have no idea if the man is evil. He traded places with Adam through a mere touch, so naturally this would also raise questions about what powers he possesses in human form. But more importantly, what is his motivation for returning from the afterlife? Who is he? Too many questions left unanswered in this one. The ending only brought forth more questions, instead of resolving issues, so there's much more work to be done with this short.
                FADE IN:
                PERSEVERANCE OVERCOMES ADVERSITY
                NEVER FADE OUT.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                  DANSE MACABRE - This tale was... different. I usually like stories that think outside the box, but in the end, I think this one suffered a little from tonal issues. It started playfully, with a wise-cracking vampire, a pet mummy, and a Monster Mash boogie. By the way, I had no idea what to make of the crowd throwing darts at the mummy's forehead; did this signify they were aware of their real monster counterparts? From here, the story got strange...
                  How did Monster know the amulet's exact location and how to access it? Why in the name of all that's Holy would Lord Vaughn keep such a powerful item in an easily accessible area? With just a little knowledge, ANYONE at this party could've pulled off Monster's destruction. It's not like this amulet was locked in a safe and secure area. I understand that Emily hates Vaughn for what he did to her, but I don't know, something about a lack of history between the two didn't allow me to fully embrace her decision. If Vaughn and Emily had lots of love for one another and always got along (at least for the most part), then I'd be 100% against the allowance of her father's death. If the two had a rocky relationship and Lord Vaughn was a terrible father, then I could understand her hatred. The way the story plays, it seems like Vaughn loved Emily with all his heart; so much so, he couldn't bear the thought of losing her, so he brought her back to life. I felt sorry for Lord Vaughn in the end and walked away with hatred for Emily. True, Vaughn is probably wrong to enslave these monsters, but at the same time, he's keeping the evils of the world at bay. The moment the crystal was crushed, all hell broke loose, and the monsters returned to their murderous ways. With that said, I give the author props for creativity, and wouldn't be surprised if this earns points among the voting contigent; but alas, it wasn't a story for me. However, on the strength of the writing, if this was the Nicholl, my PS would read, "this entry was in the next group after Honorable Mentions."

                  MATING CALL - It took awhile, but after the third read I finally understood this story! Yayyy! I had all sorts of questions I was going to unleash, but I just had to read it over and over to get the gist. Still have a lot of questions, but at least I know Charlie's identity. He's a murderer. He killed "what's-her-face," built a brick wall in the cellar and stashed her body behind it. All well and good, but first question: who has a party and fails to keep an adequate supply of booze on hand? Was this a BYOB party? Nitpicky observation, but it's a question for the basis of a bigger problem: knowing he had a secret hiding in the cellar, why in the world would Charlie hold a party at his place?! The worst part isn't that he keeps a freezer full of alcohol down here, it's that he keeps a freezer full of alcohol in this sketchy cellar AND decides to throw a party in which there's no alcohol. C'mon, man! Guess where his guests are eventually going to roam? That's right, to the UNLOCKED cellar! Of course I have to question:
                  Why build a wall to stash a body?
                  Why host a party at a crime scene?
                  Why leave the door to the cellar (where you're hiding the body) unlocked?

                  I wasn't at all a fan of this paragraph:

                  Charlie figures it out. Whoever was entombed here slipped
                  out of their manacles, using blood as lubricant, and pushed
                  until the wall gave way. Yes this is telling instead of
                  showing, but it adds atmosphere.

                  No it doesn't. It doesn't add atmosphere at all. It's just a cheat. I think the writer had trouble conveying this information through visuals, so he/she just threw it onto the page. Sorry, but that's lazy. The setting and set-up were also lazy. Here's a better idea: Charlie's friends are throwing a party next door. There's alcohol, but not the kind Charlie's roomate likes. He gives the key to a girlfriend, she goes next door (to Charlie's place), and makes a trip to the cellar. She notices the strange wall, but thinks nothing of it. She takes the booze back to the other house, has a brief conversation about "the creepy cellar" and "what are you guys building down there?" followed by the roomate's confusion. She then proceeds to shake her booty to the next song playing on Pandora and forgets about her trip to the stash zone. Here's the catch: Charlie isn't at the party next door. He's too busy building that wall to hide "what's-her-face" in the cellar. To make it creepier, he was in the shadows while his roomate's girlfriend was gathering booze. Now there are many ways to take the story from here. You could have the roomate know that Charlie killed this woman, but didn't know he was stashing her in the basement. Maybe the roomate doesn't know anything at all. Maybe he knows everything. Maybe he purposely sent his girlfriend to the cellar so that Charlie could kill her, but Charlie had a change of heart. Whatever. In those scenarios, it'd be clear who Charlie is. I struggled with this piece so much because it took me awhile to figure out exactly who Charlie was. In the first two reads, the thought of him being a killer never crossed my mind, because who would host a party at a place that houses a dead body? The author didn't give us a single hint of evil in Charlie's character. Another issue was the Vampire Lady; she hogged so much of the spotlight, that the reader was never afforded any "get to know 'psycho Charlie'" time.
                  There was some writing skill on display in this piece, along with some funny moments (the Headless Horseman), but the effort was just *meh*. Last question: yip, yip?
                  FADE IN:
                  PERSEVERANCE OVERCOMES ADVERSITY
                  NEVER FADE OUT.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                    @Foxhound: You're too kind. But the hyphens aren't going anywhere I'm afraid. They just work for me.

                    @Jai: it's funny, I would have put money on Potter's Field being your script. As soon as I read it, it reminded me of other stuff you've posted.
                    As for mine, glad you found it disturbing! You're right in that it doesn't make any sense at all if you actually think about it logically, or look for any meaning - I was really just going for a kind of modern fairy tale that exists in its own little reality. Kudos for all that feedback - hope folks find it useful.
                    My stuff

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                      Congratulations to each of our winners. Well done guys!

                      Thanks for the feedback, and esp. Jai's - beyond the call of what may be expected or even anticipated!

                      I may have to explain The Taker, and even The Bell... after that, wholly anticipated dud performance, but...

                      However, on a another note...

                      As the contest was nearing it's close, an interview was held, or do we say, a few answers were sent over in response to a few questions, asked by Script Magazine, about this little affair, our contests, exercises, competition, what are they called? (as comically noted by Bio).

                      I'm not quite sure when that will appear, but it's just a chatty account of what we've been up to in here over recent years.

                      Unfortunatley, I struggled because of time-restraints to give enough time to the scribbling, but wanted to concentrate on the contest with the time I had to spare - hyping it, checking in, talking boll**cks, and such like as per usual.

                      The most important element for me is that others submitted some good work, supported it, and hopefully had a good time... of sorts!

                      And now that it is moving along smoothly as an occasional throwdown - it seems, we've had a bumper crop of entries this year, at our next innings, I may be able to settle down and do some "real writing", instead of my confused efforts in here.

                      It was notes, really, but I'll explain what I was up to later... perhaps it would have worked with time.

                      I dont know for sure, however with Script Magazine, in the blog section, I understand... three of us contributed and that will have been edited I presume?

                      So you'll probably find out that I trained and entered a career as a lawyer, construction and engineering, and that I once worked in law enforcement... very briefly.

                      I gave some basic information, I don't think that I mentioned that I saved somebody's life once, or that I've seen a plane crash involving somebody very famous, but I think I did mention something about friends of the family having a meal with Clint Eastwood, or that I've met the guy who made Michelle Pfeiffer's Bat Woman suit... I was fishing around for a few interesting things to say.


                      The latter being the extent of my only Hollywood encounters and one of those was through an intermediary.

                      I haven't contributed to such a process or magazine before so it was a scramble to pull a few details out of the proverbial hat...

                      A few comical things happened along the way, over the last few weeks, internet access in the UK is sometimes poor, it's either that or a brand new laptop I have is playing up, the processor is very slow and sticking and kicks me out. Typing this isn't easy.

                      I attempted to submit the information to Script Mag for example after writing out a full Word Document, for the q and a's ---- and I lost all of it... and so had to answer the questions as an email and off-the-cuff to boot, on my rattling old silver laptop with steam vents.

                      It was all kind of funny.

                      if it hadn't felt like torture at times.

                      Anyway, back to the feedback section...
                      Last edited by The Road Warrior; 11-08-2013, 07:06 AM.
                      Forthcoming: The Annual, "I JUST GOT DUMPED" Valentine's Short Screenplay Writing Competition. Keep an eye on Writing Exercises.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                        First of all, Road Warrior and DPaterso should get mulligans on their entries for being so generous with their time (and patience) while I was querying them for the article - smack in the middle of the contest. They were both gracious and, let me say, a joy to "converse" with. More info on that article coming soon to a DDpro forum near you...

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                        • #13
                          Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                          Jai Brandon set a standard for depth of commentary that alas, I am not going to meet.

                          Congratulations to the winners!

                          My top three were:

                          1) Coffin Creek
                          2) Requiem
                          3) Cinemassacre

                          Clarity, ease of read, and confident, assertive writing were my criteria.

                          For all the discussion about limiting entries to one per person, it really wouldn't have made much difference, would it?

                          I found the reading overall to be quite a chore. I read them all, quickly, and didn't see anything that stood out as really good or really awful. Then I went back and re-read, stopping as soon something, anything, bothered me. Now, reading the comments of others, I realize that there were many entries I simply forgot I had read. I have new sympathy for people who have to do this everyday. Several scripts ran together in my head.

                          Two that did stand out for not-so-good reasons were Molly and Best Halloween Ever. I thought they tried too hard to be gross or shocking or both. For Molly - one Freudian slip spooge joke would have been plenty. For Best Halloween Ever - the child porn (with bonus incest) just felt deliberately provocative. I felt myself not wanting to be appalled, because that was so clearly the desired reaction.

                          As for my entry, I realized once I started reading the others that I didn't have a prayer. Macabre isn't really in my wheelhouse. It occurred to me this morning that perhaps if there were quick inserts when the characters are discussing their food issues - Greg sees a jello cup filled with ground up fish bits, Janine sees sauce as a bowl of slime, etc. It would have upped the creepy factor and maybe given the audience some level of pity for the characters, seeing how they see food.

                          But I also realized that there are things I just can't do as a writer, and it's okay to know your strengths and play to them. I'm me, I'm twee, I should get used to it.

                          Thank you, Jai, for the extensive commentary and John Jay for the directorial pick. (I expect that had as much to do with budget as anything else!)

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                          • #14
                            Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                            Two things I did in my entry that I usually don't have a problem doing in my writing:

                            1) I failed to write a strong, captivating opening.
                            Reading all the entries, I can easily see how the opening banter would glaze over a reader's eyes; especially having read however many entries before it.

                            2) I didn't go big enough.
                            I think this is relative to the weak opening.

                            Every time out, it's a lesson learned. I too was surprised I didn't find too many straight horror scripts, but if I had to do this exercise again, I absolutely would've went that route. Something dark, unnerving, and frightful; with reasons #1 and #2 by my side.

                            Here's an interesting idea: is it possible to write a horror script, but without the use of the supernatural/monsters/slashers? Hmmm...
                            FADE IN:
                            PERSEVERANCE OVERCOMES ADVERSITY
                            NEVER FADE OUT.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Results - Halloween 2013 contest

                              @RoadWarrior - I liked The Bell, it was one of the many milling around under the top three. It had a cool M R James vibe to it. My only reservation - and there were a few like this - was that it set up a myth, had people doubting the myth, then showed the myth was true. I was hoping for that extra beat that would make me go oooooh. But I felt the writing was good.

                              Like others, I just didn't get The Taker. I've lived in Yorkshire since the mid-90s, kept thinking there was some news story I'd forgotten (I even Googled it and just got loads of rugby league pages)... but nope. Didn't get it.

                              @bmcthomas - maybe you're right re: budget! But I genuinely felt this is the kind of short film you'd see online, recommend to friends. It could maybe do with some tinkering - like you say, something to give insight into how they view food. But it was one of entries that seemed to have that all-elusive voice behind it.
                              My stuff

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