Highly engaging characters. Entertaining dialogue. So so story. In a work like this, so much depends on the execution—particularly the acting—it’s hard to assess whether the screenplay succeeds or not. For the first half of the read I thought the script kept going off-story. Once I realized that perhaps this was intentional, I adjusted my expectations for narrative integrity and began to appreciate it for some of its other qualities.
The characterizations in this screenplay are fairly superficial, though effective, because they are so engaging and likable. Sonny and Tina, and to a lesser extent Nakamura, are good examples. Satin’s characterization is much less effective, as she emerges as a major player late in story and then most of what we know of her comes from her rant against men, which is not well supported by the material that precedes it.
I’m hard pressed to describe what this screenplay is about. Satin’s rant is the closest thing to a statement of theme in the script that I could find. At least she’s talking about something. Or is the theme expressed in the perpetual quibbling of Louie and Zig? None of this pertains much to Sonny, the protagonist. He’s not Sam Spade, who believes that if someone kills your partner, you do something about it. He’s not even the Dude, who insists “This will not stand.” So what does Sonny Kopoho stand for? He may be a likable, funny and engaging main character. But not enough to carry a 108-page screenplay, without knowing his driving goal or what matters most to him.
Fortunately, there’s Tina. She’s enough to make me want to see the movie. The setting for this story is another positive. I’ve never been to Hawaii. But I imagine it as the perfect backdrop for this story.
For the most part, the authors employ a very effective and witty writing style. But sometimes it is unnecessarily confusing. In many instances you opt for cleverness over clarity. This can make for entertaining reading, but does not always convey a clear sense of the motion picture you envision.
I don’t have much in the way of suggestions for this script. The structure seems very loose to me. But I couldn’t make recommendations about that without ruining some other part of the story. For instance, the scene in the End Zone. For the most part it was very entertaining. But halfway through, I was wondering what this has to do with anything. Should you get rid of it or cut it down? I don’t know. It could end up being one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie if it ever gets made (it certainly contains some of the best trailer moments). Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that.
Thank you for a mostly enjoyable, though somewhat rambling read. My notes below were written as I read. Take them for whatever you think they’re worth.
p. 1-10 – The first ten pages need work. Too much talk, much of which is confusing or irrelevant. I was confused by the transition from bar to office back to bar. Fortunately, something happens on page 9 (a robbery). Until this development, I was tempted to set aside the screenplay.
p. 10 – Sonny asking the cop “Can I go pee?” makes him look like a wimp. He redeems himself somewhat by calling the cop an idiot.
p. 24 – Something very unsavory about Sonny squeezing the Dangler’s breast. I’m not sure anyone wants to see the “hero” of a story do this, even for the sake of a kind of funny one-liner. If you must have him do this, maybe you could have him “places hand on her breast,” which is a lot less creepy than squeezing it.
p. 27 – “And a strip search!” – Not so funny the second time.
p. 36 – This scene was pretty funny up until the “gay divorcee” remark. Maybe Sonny has had too much to drink, but as a joke it misses the mark. Not sure why Frederick takes a swing at him.
p. 38 – Get rid of the “Tina” parenthetical and describe the action in a way the reader understands. I.e., “The Latino introduces Sonny to his oversexed girlfriend, Christina, a hot little packet of crystalline powder.” Maybe that’s not so good. But you get the idea.
p. 32-40 – The long scene at the End Zone has some funny moments, but does nothing to move the story forward (the introduction of the Latino/Tina subplot could have been handled in half a page or less). With no real purpose to the scene, all the gay humor begins to feel gratuitous.
p. 44 – Denmark… rotten… Bad.
p. 46 – “You mean that fella’ who trusted a ghost and ended up dead?” - This line reads like a mini-editorial from the writers, not something anybody would actually say.
p. 46 – No need to translate for Sonny.
p. 56 – I realize Sonny is a drunk. But the naked, drunk and stoned riff seems to stray pretty far off topic. What happened to the story?
p. 64 – What is the party in the hotel room about? The ice dilemma is not holding my interest. Girl-on-girl action, slightly more interesting. But is this connected to the story in some way?
p. 75 – “I love John Travolta.” Come on. Everybody knows that was Robert DeNiro.
p. 88 – I don’t know about this… Cute twist. But it’s so unbelievable. It’s just too obvious that Sonny wouldn’t kill Tina, even if she was the evil one. It might work better if they both knew it was a game and the reader was the one in the dark. Or perhaps if Sonny didn’t go so far as to think he killed her. Maybe he would throttle her and slap her face, while Tina would be thinking that was all part of the act.
p. 91 – The Hui parenthetical is unnecessary. Let the reader figure this out through context.
94-95 – Not sure about the plastic surgery angle.
p. 104 – What is all this hatred of men about? It feels like you are introducing a new theme (antithesis?) in the third act. How about introducing the reader to these ideas earlier in the story. Actually, the whole third act feels like it came out of nowhere.
Review of: HAWAIIANSTEIN
reviewed by jayb on 12/23/2011
Review ID: 4056970
Other Reviews by jayb 97
A review of Crossing Overby jayb on 07/03/2014The excellent premise is what induced me to read this script. It sounded like it could be a funny and entertaining read, and in parts it really was. The concept of a gay ghost coaching an insecure and sexually inexperienced straight man on how to get laid, while racing against a supernatural clock to solve a murder, is full of comic potential. There were definitely some... The excellent premise is what induced me to read this script. It sounded like it could be a funny and entertaining read, and in parts it really was. The concept of a gay ghost coaching an insecure and sexually inexperienced straight man on how to get laid, while racing against a supernatural clock to solve a murder, is full of comic potential. There were definitely some funny parts, and the principal characters were likable. But CROSSING OVER reads very much like a first draft, written by someone with a good comic sense and decent writing ability, but not a lot of experience writing screenplays.
It is too long and there is far too much dialogue. A script in this genre should come in at less than 110 pages and ideally less than 100. You can easily get to those numbers by cutting down the dialogue. Most talking scenes are two to three times longer than they need to be. I’m serious about this: you need to cut down the dialogue by at least half (probably more), then go back and flesh out the rest of the story with solid action and description lines.
Some of the jokes are very good. Others bomb. Getting the comedy right is largely a matter of repeated rewriting – pruning and refining jokes with each revision, then testing them out on multiple readers. I have indicated some of the bits I thought were funny to give you an idea of what’s working. There were a lot of jokes that didn’t work for me, but it’s probably less helpful for me to tell you which ones, because they very well may work for other people. The fact that I mention any jokes at all is a good sign. Your comic sensibility is a lot more developed than most people attempting to write comedy on this site. It’s better than that of many people currently writing for Hollywood. That’s not to say there are not a lot of jokes that fail. There are. But you prove you can be funny. Now you just have to figure out how to get rid of the unfunny stuff.
One area where you seem to struggle a lot is writing dramatic dialogue. When your characters aren’t being funny, they are often saying some artlessly on the nose or overly sentimental. To make matters worse, they go on saying it over and over again. Once your characters have expressed a feeling, point of view, or thought they don’t need to say it again. Chances are, they don’t need to say it all if they can express it through action or in dialogue through subtext.
Another problem is that parts of the story are confusing or implausible. This is a supernatural comedy, so the reader must be willing to make some concessions on realism. But bringing the two main characters back to life at the climax via a defibrillator, one from a gunshot wound, is asking too much. Other times I was just plain confused about what was going on. What you provide too much of in the way of dialogue, you withhold in descriptive narrative and action. Movies have to move in order to move us. You must show the reader more of what is going on in the story, not just tell us about it via dialogue.
Regarding character, the protagonist and his allies are likable, but I think you need to define the antagonists – Anna and Wilmot – better and introduce them as opposing forces earlier in the story. Wilmot, especially, seemed to be a one-dimensional cliché. I did not understand what motivated him and had a hard time believing he would behave the way he did.
This screenplay had a lot of flaws, such as one usually sees in a lot of first drafts or beginning efforts. But the concept is much stronger and a lot more marketable than most of the unproduced scripts I read. CROSSING OVER shows a great deal of promise and the good news is that all of the problems I mention here can be addressed and fixed with repeated revisions and increased skill.
No cover is an instant negative. Whether true or not, it suggests that the author is not familiar with formatting conventions.
p. 2 – Moving in scene quickly establishes that Steven has issues with his masculinity.
p. 3 – Steven has a sympathy-inducing save the cat moment on the school bus.
p. 4 – Mrs. Baltrim’s speech about love, respect, guidance and believing in yourself is too contrived. She is a totally disposable character and I suggest you cut this scene which adds little of value to the story.
p. 5 – What happened to Steven’s eye? Did Bernhard hit him? If so, why not show it?
p. 5 – “Do you need to see them?” This line is an obvious set-up for Bernhard’s homophobic remarks that follow. The problem is that it doesn’t flow from the character.
p. 5 – Steven visits a magic shop… I feel this needs some setting up. People in Steven’s situation don’t usually go to a magic shop to solve their problems. I think you need to place him there by some form of accident.
p. 6 – Don’t reference popular songs in your script. Readers will assume you don’t have the rights and are therefore an amateur. This is the third strike for your script. The first is the lack of a cover and the second is the excessively long page count. These are little things that tell an experienced reader that the author is not an experienced writer. My natural inclination is to stop reading here, but I’m curious to see how the premise plays on, so I will read a little further.
p. 7 – Steven gets slapped for making one rude remark to Wilmot’s ten. Good.
p. 10 – Good introduction of Marcus.
p. 14 – “Look. I want to be a real man.” – Too on the nose.
p. 16 – Steven moves too easily from incredulity over Marcus’ ghostly status to looking for remedies in the book of spells. Both he and the audience need to see irrefutable proof that he’s a ghost before we move on to acceptance. Then he needs a settling in period while he adjusts. This is where you and the audience get to have some fun with the premise, so milk it for everything it’s worth. We want to see comic stuff here that we’ve never before seen in any ghost movie. Make us wonder.
p. 17 – Steven agrees to take dating advice from a ghost? This is too much, too fast. He needs to show some reluctance here – what Blake Snyder calls “Doubt” or Joseph Campbell calls “Refusal of the Call.”
p. 20 – Good comedy here with the Waiter mix up.
p. 22 – Marcus starts to work on Stevens flaws. Good.
p. 24 – “Housewives”… Good. The Cyrano de Bergerac thing is working well so far.
p. 26 – It looks like Wendy is shaping up to be “the One.” This is a mistake in my opinion… Better to show us one or two quick dates first that end in disaster. More comedy that way.
p. 27 – Jeopardy… This is good because now Steven is succeeding on his own, despite getting contrary advice from Marcus. But it’s coming too early. He is succeeding with Wendy because she’s different from other girls. First, we need to see him fail miserably with one or two of those girls so we can see how much Wendy is the right girl.
p. 31 – Muppets… Good.
p. 35 – Now we have our ticking clock. Good.
p. 39 – The magic mirror is a cool idea, but so far I don’t see what it has to do with the story. Meanwhile, this scene is going on too long and there is far too much talking, not enough action. They’re talking about the mirror and then they suddenly switch to the topic of who killed Marcus. This scene needs to be cut by half.
p. 41 – Matias is Castillo’s son? If there was a kid on the school bus whose father was about to be executed, everybody on the bus would know about it, including the driver. You’re already stretching credibility by having Steven know the son of the guy who is accused of murdering the man who’s house he now lives in. You can make this easier for the reader to accept by revealing this information up front – for instance by having Brett tease Matias about his father’s impending execution.
p. 42 – They can’t be serious about phoning in a false confession. Are they idiots?
p. 42-49 – Another example of a talking scene that goes on way too long. There is nothing more boring in a movie than watching two characters have a phone conversation for two and a half minutes with nothing else going on in the scene. Then we get this long exchange with Madonna, which seems to be going nowhere, until we realize that she’s the potential vehicle for Steven to lose his virginity. Somehow it feels wrong to switch from the life and death stakes of Castillo’s pending execution to the relatively trivial matter of Steven’s virginity.
p. 49 – Good complication with the addition of Molly.
p. 50 – I don’t get the Gloria Estefan reference.
p. 52 – The Wizard of Oz reference is good, but again there’s too much talking in this scene.
p. 53 – What exactly is Molly’s status? Is she actually dead, or merely kidnapped and in some kind of limbo state of soul? You need to be absolutely clear about this if you want the audience to care about what happens to her. If she’s not actually dead, you must also explain why she appears as an apparition to Steven and Marcus.
p. 58 – The diabetic coma explains why Molly was in a near death state, but I think you need to clarify this much earlier on.
p. 59 – Some confusion here. Doesn’t Wendy know that Steven saved Molly? Why doesn’t she just tell that to Wilmot?
p. 65 – Good bit with the truth serum turned on Wendy.
p. 72 – Anna turns the tables on Steven by trying to seduce him. Good.
p. 75 – Ann appears to be setting Steven up. Good.
p. 77 – Dialogue in this scene is really on the nose. Pillow talk is really hard to do – especially in a comedy. I’d be inclined to go with some level of disconnect or incongruity in this scene.
p. 82-83 – I don’t understand what’s happening here with the ghost verification proof. I think you need to clarify.
p. 84 – The reveal that Anna is a witch doesn’t really work for me. I think you need to do a better job of setting it up. Why doesn’t Marcus know this about the woman he was married to? There is a lot of magic in this story that seems to randomly come together by coincidence. You need a unifying principal that brings it all together, otherwise you run the risk of invoking what Blake Snyder called “double mumbo jumbo” (or in your case triple mumbo jumbo). In my opinion, Ana has to emerge much earlier as the antagonist of this story and her magic needs to drive all that goes wrong for the protagonist and his allies, including the curse. This is something you can reveal over the course of the story, but you need to lay the groundwork right from the start.
p. 85 - Steven asks a valid question. How could Marcus not know? His reply is inadequate.
p. 88 – The point here is that Steven has undergone a transformation into a man. This is good, but it needs to be conveyed with more showing and less on-the-nose telling.
p. 108-109 – The conversation about trust goes on for too long and is too on the nose.
p. 111 – How does Wilmot know how the murder weapon got into Steven’s trunk? I don’t understand the magic here. Unless Wilmot has first-hand knowledge of what happened, isn’t the truthful answer to Wendy’s questions “I don’t know”?
p. 113 – None of this is making sense to me. What is Wilmot’s place in all of this? Is he allied with Anna? Why would he shoot Steven and try to shoot Wendy? And the business with Steven emptying Wilmot’s gun of bullets is just plain unbelievable and silly.
p. 114 – How did Wendy become an apparition and why is she naked? All the other ghosts appear to be dressed (I like it that she’s naked, but don’t understand the logic of it).
p. 115 – “I know.” Lame.
p. 116 – “What the hell happened to her?” That’s what I want to know. Did I miss something?
p. 119 – I’m not buying Anna’s transformation. You need to work a lot more on this. Part of the problem is that the character transformation is all explained in dialogue near the end of the script and it’s all very on the nose. You need to do less telling and a lot more showing.
p. 122 – This scene doesn’t make much sense. Steven has been shot and they bring him back to life with a defibrillator? They already tried that trick on Wendy, for reasons that are not really clear to me. And what is Wendy doing in the hospital room with Steven, if she only just had her own near brush with death? Wouldn’t she be in ICU recovering?
p. 126 – He arrives long enough to marry Wendy, then his heart stops again? From a gunshot wound? This is really too implausible.
p. 130 – How come we never get to see Matias’ reunion with his father? This seems like a loose end.
A review of The Killing Kind ver 3.5by jayb on 04/04/2014THE KILLING KIND is a cops and mobsters story with a strong sense of place and interesting premise – the kind of story I want to love, despite the many clichés that abound in this genre. The best thing going for this script is the premise: an honorable tough-guy cop is assigned to protect the Mafia hit man who killed his family. Unfortunately, the story structure does not... THE KILLING KIND is a cops and mobsters story with a strong sense of place and interesting premise – the kind of story I want to love, despite the many clichés that abound in this genre. The best thing going for this script is the premise: an honorable tough-guy cop is assigned to protect the Mafia hit man who killed his family. Unfortunately, the story structure does not do justice to the power of that premise.
The main character, Tino, does not articulate a driving goal until page 77, when he connects the death of his family with the hit man turned informant, Vincent Donello. This would normally be your turn into Act II moment if it were not occurring in the final quarter of the screenplay. Everything before that feels like an extended set-up. There are a lot of details which add local color and nuance to the characters. But none of that matters if you end up putting the audience to sleep. The pacing of the first 75 pages is in my opinion much too slow for a mainstream feature movie.
It’s a sign of real problems with a script when whole scenes and conversations can be cut without any significant impact on the plot and story (I point out several examples in my notes below). Structurally, you story consists of a very long and tedious first act, followed by a much faster third act, with no second act where you develop the problem posed by the premise and complicate the life of your protagonist.
In the first 25 pages we are led to believe that the story is going to be about Tino and Danny finding out who did the murders at the Russian coffee house (unoriginal and boring). The next 25 pages are about finding an informant to turn evidence against the mob (unoriginal and slightly more interesting). It’s only in the last 35 pages, the final act, that the real story emerges: an honorable cop who must protect the man who killed his family (somewhat original and a lot more interesting).
Consider this alternative: Open with the attempted hit on Donello, assign Tino and Danny to protective duty, and have Tino realize in a moment of epiphany that Donello was one of the men who killed his family. Now you have a strong second act dilemma over whether Tino should kill or save the man he’s assigned to protect. You need a strong second act of at least 55 pages (and probably longer), that fully exploits the inherent conflict, internal and external, implicit in the premise. This is what engages an audience.
Act III is the strongest part of this screenplay, as the pace picks up and we see the principal characters forced to make difficult choices. Unfortunately, the plot begins to fall apart just at the point where the pace picks up and the story improves. First, there is this police conspiracy which seems to come from nowhere and frankly made no sense to me. Second, is the reversal in Danny’s character, which did not seem properly foreshadowed.
One thing you get right is many of the details of the world your characters inhabit. There are moments, particularly near the beginning, when the details ring true with the note of authenticity. But authentic details don’t make for a compelling story. You also need a coherent storyline that draws the reader into the internal and external conflicts of your characters. Add a theme to give the conflict meaning and you’re on the way to getting your screenplay made into a movie.
I hope this doesn’t come across as overly harsh or negative. You have a good premise and seem to know the world you write about. I think you’re looking at a total page one rewrite. But with the right attention to structure, pacing and dialogue, you could have a viable story. The most important thing is not to get discouraged and to keep working at it until you get consistent feedback that people love your script (in this business “like” is not enough).
p. 1-3 – The story begins with a dramatic event, which is good. But I had a hard time following the action. There may be too much attention to detail in the action lines and not enough interaction between characters. Also, you introduce eight characters in the first three pages, which is too many to keep track of in an opening sequence.
p. 8 – The scene with the Old Woman doesn’t work for me. I’d steer clear of phonetic spellings in dialect. But if you’re going to do it, you need to get it right and be consistent. Better to capture her ethnicity in her word choice and grammar, and leave the accents to the actors.
p. 12 – I’m not picturing the wall full of photos in Tino’s apartment. Do either of them have families of their own? Or are these their childhood families? In either case, it’s kind of weird for Tino to have hundreds of pictures of Danny’s family on his wall without having more context about their relationship. Anyway, the transition from old photos to flashback is not so original.
p. 14 – What is the purpose of this scene? Duke and Vic are minor characters. Why are we watching them talk about coffee?
p. 28 – No reaction to the news of the death of a brother officer?
p. 29-30 – What is the point of this exchange of dialogue between Vincent and his son? Fathers and sons might talk that way in real life, but this is dull stuff to have to listen to in an action crime drama.
p. 31-33 – Soracci comes across as a real numb nuts in this scene. How did he get to be anybody important in the Family?
p. 33-37 – It’s ok to add some local color, but this scene goes on too long without advancing the plot or adding to the story.
p. 37 – The phone conversation is disorienting because you don’t tell us they’re talking on the phone.
p. 37-39 – This scene is a good example of what’s bogging down your screenplay. You take more than a page and a half for a scene that should take less than half a page. Anything longer than that must have very entertaining dialogue, which this scene doesn’t have.
p. 40 – You missed an opportunity to add some action to your screenplay by showing Jimmy getting killed in jail, instead of having him die off-screen from an overdose.
p. 45 – Famous Five Karamazovs – you devote half a page to a throwaway line that adds nothing to the story.
p. 49-50 – Why would Jovica assume that Tino has Donello’s prints? He’d have to be pretty dumb not to question that. Jovica needs a better reason than that to go after Donello.
p. 51 – And Soracci is going to go ahead and whack him? Why? Even Mafiosi need motivation to kill people. They don’t just go on the word of a cop who’s setting them up. They need their own reasons for killing someone.
p. 52 – A stone cold mafia hit man who thinks he’s just been given the keys to Queens is going to leave the party because he told his wife he’d be home early? I don’t think so.
p. 58-63 – This scene goes on much too long. Strictly speaking, it isn’t even necessary, as you can have Danny ask Tino, “How come he asked for you on the protection detail?” T: “He said he liked the way I handled that Jimmy Rio thing.” The audience can figure out he cut a deal – they don’t need to see the details.
p. 63 – Tino and Danny take custody of Donello. Cut out all the unnecessary dialogue and this would be your natural turn into Act II at page 20. Everything before this feels like the Act I set-up to me.
p. 70 – I’m not sure who the “saving kind” would be in Tino’s world. It sounds like your hinting at a theme that never gets developed.
p. 72 – Why would Tino be shocked that someone like Donello killed his own father? And why is Donello telling him his life story?
p. 75 – The dialogue in this scene is dead on the page. Here are two guys on the same team who are in conflict with one another. The length of this scene (one page) is perfect. You can build on the inherent dramatic potential by turning up the emotional volume. Tino and Evans talk like they’re having a discussion. What you want are two testosterone-charged alpha males going verbal head-to-head with one another. Tino’s final gesture of tossing the keys on the floor makes him look like a sulky little bitch.
p. 77 – Tino articulates the goal that drives him – to get revenge on the people who took away his family and took away his life. This is first act stuff that does not belong in the final quarter of the story.
p. 78 – “Because it’s my job. It’s what I’m good at…. etc.” Danny is speaking in cliches instead of from the heart.
p. 80 – Why would hired killers take the time (and rope) to tie up the Clerk, when they’re just going to kill him anyway? (OK… we later learn they’re cops, which may explain something. But it still doesn’t explain why they let him live after seeing they’re faces.)
p. 84 – Johnson asks if the killers are cops, Tino says they’re not cops and Donello says Reese is a cop. I’m confused.
p. 86 – Now I’m really confused. If Spano’s a bad cop, why does Tino tell him to put on the vest before he shoots him? This makes no sense to me. The audience needs unequivocal good guys and bad guys in this scene. Why is Tino even talking about vests?
p. 88 – Why doesn’t Donello know what borough they’re in? Has he been blinded or something?
p. 90 – Everybody thinks Tino staged the attempted hit? He freed the Clerk, warned Johnson, and saved both him and Jenner. Isn’t Johnson still alive to tell everybody what happened?
p. 99 – Tino just remembers that Donello was one of the men who killed his father? Did he know this all along? Or did he just figure it out? If the latter, why did it take so long? What jarred his memory. The story is making less and less sense to me. I think it would be more dramatic to show the discovery – have Donello do or say something that gives himself away, then show Tino’s reaction as he realizes Donello is the killer.
p. 108 – How does Danny allow Donello to get a draw on him?
p. 111 – The ending is a cheat. I don’t doubt that Danny in this situation would have killed Donello. But then why was he trying to talk Tino out of it moments before? You seem to be playing with audience expectations, rather than showing these actions coming out of character.
A review of The Rebellious Sonby jayb on 11/06/2013Here we have a unicorn for a narrator who seems intent on taking the road less travelled by his kind – not to be known as a warrior or a healer, but as a worker. This is definitely not the expected choice for his species and it makes for an interesting premise for a short whimsical piece like this. The story hinges on the narrator’s choice of a human. So why is it such a... Here we have a unicorn for a narrator who seems intent on taking the road less travelled by his kind – not to be known as a warrior or a healer, but as a worker. This is definitely not the expected choice for his species and it makes for an interesting premise for a short whimsical piece like this.
The story hinges on the narrator’s choice of a human. So why is it such a poor choice? Of all the farmers in all the villages he visited, Greg seemed the most “willing.” But if his aim is to be a working horse, why not choose the farmer who seems most driven or faces the most desperate situation? I don’t even know what willing means. Willing to exploit him? Open to his magic? This lack of clarity detracts from the story.
Perhaps the point is that the unicorn is young and a poor judge of human character. First he misjudges Greg who later turns on him. Then he misjudges the knight, who turns out to be the nobler of the two main humans in the story. Perhaps he seeks nobility through work, only to find that menial labor can brutalize one more than it ennobles.
He misjudges the knight, dismissing him for not having a dedication to work. His assertion that “Working with the harshness of nature is far more testing of the soul than seeing if you’re able to kill someone” is a fallacy, because in truth the harshness of nature is nothing more than the killing of one being by another. I believe this is the point of the story. The Rebellious Son, like many rebellious young men, is foolish and arrogant until he experiences a disillusionment that casts the experience of his forebears in a different light.
Is this a fair summary? If so, I think it would help if you clarified the reasons for the narrator’s initial choice of Greg. Was it because he watched him laboring in the field and thought he was the hardest worker? Because he mistook Greg’s brutish connection to the soil for a form earthy nobility?
At the end, we get some insight into the narrator’s state of mind when he gazes on the knight’s “noble steed” with envy. This seems a clear indication that Rebellious Son regrets his choice of humans. This is good. Take some time to show how the narrator made such a poor choice at the outset and the ending will have even more emotional impact.
“kind of stupid” – this has a contemporary sound that breaks from the more archaic tone of the narrative voice.
Is the text in parenthesis part of the story or a note to the writer? I think it’s the latter. It’s definitely worth weaving this idea of the horn purifying the soil, as it fits with the theme of the story. Just as the ground horn purifies the soil, the narrator believes that he can purify himself by working the soil, as he believes Greg has done. Of course this will turn out to be an illusion. Menial labor is not purifying in this story and Greg is anything but purified by his encounter with the unicorn. In fact, it makes them both even more brutish. Greg has become murderous and vindictive and the unicorn has become envious and has lost his horn.
“vaunt” – I believe this word is used improperly here. I get the meaning, but it’s a distracting usage. Call him “vauntful” if you want to use this archaic word as an adjective.
“equestrian” – this word pertains to riding or to riders, not to the ridden. read
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