OMEGA COMPLEX makes a great first impression. The first ten pages were very well written. You did a good job of establishing the futuristic setting for this story, with a minimum of exposition and lots of impressive visuals. At first, I felt like I was in the hands of a seasoned pro and was wondering if I would be able to give a constructive critique. As I got deeper into the human side of the story, I saw there would be opportunities for me to comment. But I want you to know that the opening pages were among the best I’ve read on TriggerStreet.
You do a very good job of not overloading the opening pages with exposition. This is the sign of a professional writer: to show, not tell. Unfortunately, this fundamental rule was not adhered to throughout the script. You are very good at depicting the visuals and mechanics of space and spacecraft, but seem to falter with the more subtle mechanics of human relations. I neither understood nor accepted the many turns in relationships between Hank and just about other significant character in the story.
It’s good that there is conflict between characters. But much of this conflict is not emotionally plausible. For the love story at the heart of OMEGA COMPLEX to work, the reader has to see Kelly as a fully realized human being with a realistic emotional life. This does not happen because, like Hank, she is not a fully realized character. Both of them speak about their emotions, as opposed to speaking through them.
The relationship between Hank and Deadeye was even harder to follow and accept. Conflict between characters is generally a good thing, but this relationship took too many turns from suspicion, to betrayal, to trust, and back to betrayal. After a while I gave up caring, as Hank seemed not to learn from his mistakes.
I commended you above on keeping the first ten pages mostly clear of exposition. At the other side of this issue is the reader’s need for clarity as the plot progresses and gets more complicated. Most writers on this site err on the side of providing too much information, so I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but there were times I was confused about what was happening. The assault on the Eagle Station is an example. As the action gets more complicated the descriptions are less precise and I became confused. There are examples of this in my notes below.
In contrast to the opening pages, the ending was disappointing, even disturbing. I could not accept that Hank would continue to harbor romantic feelings towards a being with its wiring and circuitry exposed, no matter how pretty its face. I think this ending would be a lot more palatable if Kelly were depicted as more humanlike in her emotions as well as her internal composition. But honestly, a love story between a human and a robot is a tough sell, no matter how fully realized you make her character. A story like this almost demands a tragic ending.
OMEGA COMPLEX is well written in parts. Particularly the beginning. You also have a fairly solid concept. The story is intriguing and with the right budget the visuals could be stunning. But you must strive for greater depth of character and emotional realism for this story to work for me.
p. 10 – “I built it, asshole” – I’m wondering what the inventor of such an important and advanced technology as the Omega CPU is doing piloting a cargo ship. Sure, he’s down on his luck. But is that an appropriate skill match?
p. 19-20 – It’s a little unclear what’s happening here. Is Deadeye firing on Hank? Why? What does Hank mean when he says “Bastard’s using as bait. Trying to get a clean run.” Wait… I get it. There are machine turrets on the asteroids firing at both ships. Is there a way to make this clearer? Maybe a more detailed description of the Asteroid Bastion on page 19 and a better overall set-up of the assault on the Eagle Station are in order. This entire sequence might be entirely clear on film, but is somewhat confusing on paper.
p. 23 – “How’d he get past the turrets?” – Is there no kind of warning system to alert these guys that intruders have broken through their defenses?
p. 26 – I’m confused again. Why does Deadeye fire on the Dancing Queen? Is he mad because he was left behind or is there some other reason? Why didn’t Hank try to save him? I’m thinking these guys just have a natural enmity towards one another, but it would help to understand this better.
p. 28 – It’s kind of weird to hear the artificial intelligence stutter. Maybe do this in a parenthetical instead… “(fading)” or “(faltering)”.
p. 31 – Kelly easily saves Hank and the ship in the less than a page. This is a let down after Hank has opened the Pandora’s box of Kelly’s coffin and you have missed a good dramatic opportunity to add tension and draw out the scene.
p. 34 – Hank’s sex pot remark is not that startling or funny. I can’t see Kelly loosing it and spitting chocolate milk, no matter how human her personality.
p. 37 – Deadeye is still alive. I still don’t understand what happened back at Eagle Station. Also, why does Sheng give Hank two hours before he chases him down? Why not just give the order and put the attack into motion? I believe you get more tension that way, rather than putting it off to the very near future.
p. 44 – Hank is attacked by fighters, presumably sent by Sheng. I’m a little troubled by the cause and effect here. Hank decides to unpack Kelly and then makes a second decision not to put her back in the coffin. At that point he is clearly violating Sheng’s instructions and an attack is warranted. But how does Sheng know this? I think a more dramatic sequence is 1) Hank decides not to repack Kelly; 2) Sheng finds out and orders an attack; 3) the Dancing Queen is attacked.
p. 50 – Confused again. Didn’t Sheng order the attack of the fighter ships? So why are they talking like there’s still room for negotiation, giving Hank 12 hours to return the cargo?
p. 63 – It’s not clear why Hank does not turn Kelly over. Is it because he still hopes to claim payment for delivering the cargo to Sheng? Or has he grown attached to her? I’m thinking it’s the latter, but you have not sufficiently established that that this is the case. Right now, it just looks like he’s putting himself to great trouble and risk for no apparent motive.
p 67 – Hank and Kelly escape too easily from the Swordfish. It’s highly improbable that they could just fire up the Dancing Queen and fly out of the bay without more trouble. Try making the escape from the Swordfish a lot harder to heighten suspense, then reveal that Charles wanted him to get away.
p. 69 – This is great drama here. Perhaps the dialogue could be better, but the emotional conflict in this scene is excellent. Hank has fallen for a robot. On the one hand, he feels like he can speak to her anyway he wants. On the other hand, he can’t let her go. I feel this aspect of the story needs to be developed, so I would take more time earlier in the script showing how these feelings emerge in Hank. The scene is very well done, but I wonder what Rachel is thinking about all this. Would she make a jealous comment after Hank and Kelly kiss, so that Hank has to temporarily shut her down? Just a thought.
p. 71 – It’s not clear why the government wants all bots out of space. Did I miss something? I also don’t understand why Kelly would be one of the last bots in space. Wouldn’t of outlaws like Sheng resist the ban and try to keep lots of bots employed in space? Seems to me there would be a thriving underground of bots. What’s so special about Kelly? Maybe that she has a survival instinct. But I don’t understand how that makes her precious.
p. 74 – Hank isn’t really proposing to team up with Deadeye, is he? The turns in this relationship don’t make sense to me.
p. 75 – “In time, she’ll leave, like they all do.” Bots or women? He seems to be talking about bots, since the next thing he says is “She’ll outlive you.” But I don’t imagine many other bots leave their masters. Deadeye’s dialogue on this page is self-pitying and on the nose. It doesn’t seem consistent with his character thus far.
p. 76 – Hank says Deadeye has his word. That’s risky, because it means that he’s either not a man of his word or he is about to betray Kelly. Neither alternative makes him look good. If he really is going to turn her over, how did he get to that point after having sex with her? Was it solely the shock of seeing her connected to a cable? That’s not enough to precipitate such a strong emotional turn.
p. 77 – I think it’s a mistake to have Kelly and Rachel mind meld or whatever it is they do. This just feels tacky to me and unintentionally comic. Rachel’s last line of dialogue is terribly trite.
p. 78 – I assume that Charles is following Hank to Sheng. Hank is no doubt aware of this. But would Sheng be stupid enough to fall into that trap? I’m wondering how this will be resolved.
p. 87 – Some very on the nose dialogue about Kelly on this page. Also, if Kelly were composed of steel and circuits as Deadeye claims, it would be pretty creepy for Hank to develop an attachment to her. In a world where space travel is common, wouldn’t a robot or android be composed of more lifelike materials?
p. 91 – “You’re the only one who can alter the virus code. Omega is your baby.” – Hokey. I’d expect a president to sound more sophisticated than this.
p. 96 – Of course Deadeye can’t be trusted. It is impossible to sympathize with Hank in this situation, because he is plainly a fool for having trusted him again. The multiple turns in this relationship stretch credibility.
p. 98 – What shouldn’t Deadeye do and why does Hank even care at this point?
p. 101 – Great job on Sheng’s death. Very well done.
p. 105 – I don’t think the happy ending works for this story—at least not for me. It just feels wrong for the story to end with a kiss after we’ve just seen the circuitry in Kelly’s abdomen open and exposed. I can’t feel good about this union. It might be different if she were composed of something more organic than circuitry and steel. But this feels wrong.
Review of: Omega Complex
reviewed by jayb on 09/27/2011
Review ID: 3962867
Other Reviews by jayb 80
A review of Heroes Never Dieby jayb on 06/11/2013HEROES NEVER DIE starts out with an intriguing if somewhat hokey first act, but after that it slowly unravels. What I liked most about this script are the characters. I like the offbeat superhero personas you’ve come up with. They’re corny for sure. But so is the entire superhero genre. Tragedy, Renaissance Man, Macabre and Lionheart are a lot more fun than most of the... HEROES NEVER DIE starts out with an intriguing if somewhat hokey first act, but after that it slowly unravels. What I liked most about this script are the characters. I like the offbeat superhero personas you’ve come up with. They’re corny for sure. But so is the entire superhero genre. Tragedy, Renaissance Man, Macabre and Lionheart are a lot more fun than most of the superheroes in movies today and you manage to come up with some cool and innovative powers for them, such as Lionheart’s flail.
The premise is also good. A father who brings his son’s favorite dead superhero back to life is a great idea. But by the start of the second act it feels like you’re on shaky ground and by midpoint the entire story has fallen apart. I could not identify with Tom’s urge to kill Renaissance Man, there is too much boring dialogue that has nothing to do with the story, and heroes and villains both are much too nice and patient with Tom’s inept efforts at super heroics.
Thematically, none of it makes sense. You seem to set up the hint of a theme in the early pages, when Kelly complains that Tom escapes into a fantasy world of sports, much like Danny escapes into his comics. But this never gets dealt with in the main story.
The only character with a plan and a goal is Renaissance Man and it’s a weak one at that – to kidnap a kid from another dimension to discover the identity of his arch rival. Why does this matter? It’s not enough to drive the plot.
The twist ending was fairly good, but lacked emotional impact due to the poor pacing, staging and dialogue.
You have a good premise and some interesting characters. But you must work on the basics of story structure and scene construction if you want to get any traction with this script.
p. 1. – Tom is tired of reading comics in character to his 10 year old son. This is good. You’ve established a conflict between father and son right on page one.
p. 3 – Good glimpse of something paranormal here.
p. 5 – More conflict between Tom and wife; financial woes.
p. 6 – Good parallel here – father and so both escape to their separate fantasy worlds – comics and sports.
p. 7 – “How did you like football practice?”… This exchange feels contrived.
p. 10 – We seem to have the inciting incident here on page 10, where it belongs. That’s good. However, the ring/cocoon thing occurs before a crowd of people. Almost too much magic, too public, too soon.
p. 11 – “Where am I?”… Lame.
p. 19 – “world’s biggest lawsuit”… There’s something inauthentic about Tom’s reaction to this bizarre new world. It feels like he’s taking it too much in stride. I’m not getting a clear feel for his personality. An extreme situation like this should push him to his limits so we can see more of what he’s about.
p. 19 – The bit on the chandelier is good.
p. 20 – Falling through the floor also good.
p. 25 – The explanation for the existence of comic books in our world is really hokey, but it works so far. I’m thinking that your best bet is to play this up for comic effect.
p. 26 – It’s not clear why RM would go after Danny now. Perhaps because Danny has a superior knowledge of comic books. But how did RM select him out of all the comic fans in our dimension? Are there Tom and Danny correlates in RM’s dimension? Hopefully, this will all be explained in time.
p. 27 – Awkward repetition here… This is the second time Tom wakes from unconsciousness in Cerebrums presence.
p. 30 – Are Cerebrum’s comments about Tom worrying about his son based on having read his mind or simple observation? It’s not clear, which since he seems to make this comment apropos of nothing.
p. 31 – Where’s the fifth quintuplet? I count only four.
p. 32 – The long digression on the Courageous siblings is becoming tedious.
p. 33 – Blur cheats at cards. Good.
p. 34 – Who is Tragedy and why is Macabre in chains? This scene is disorienting.
p. 39 – When did RM grab Danny? It’s usually a good thing to enter scenes late, but this is too late. You’re leaving gaps in the story.
p. 40 – Nice touch with the Southern drawl leaking through.
p. 40 – It makes no sense for RM to take a break here.
p. 43 – Tom’s transformation to Lionheart and Brawn’s acceptance of him go a little too easily.
p. 45 – Why are they sitting down to talk?
p. 50 – It’s good to have the kids teach LH about his super powers. But why didn’t Brawn tell him about the flail? An innovative way to get around, by the way. Nice.
p. 54 – Tom tells his son that he’s not going to help Macabre because he’s not a superhero. Then he turns around and helps him anyway. I liked it better when Tom was refusing to help. He needs to be reluctantly pushed into heroism.
p. 54. – “Do you have anymore of those grenades?” – They’re in the middle of a fight; no time to speak in full sentences. A simple “Grenade!” will do, or he can merely signal.
p. 58 – Who’s Ricky?
p. 59 – Why use subtitles in this scene when you can make the Gardener speak in English? Much cleaner that way.
p. 62-65 – The dialogue in this scene is very poor. First they argue about the suit, then about Tom wanting to kill RM. Why would Tom care? The scene makes no sense and is completely unnecessary.
p. 71 – Why would Ronny cooperate with them?
p. 75 – Macabre isn’t mad that Tom hacked his network? These guys are way to patient and nice to him.
p. 76 – Back to the same super tedious argument. Tom would have to be some kind of psychopath to insist on killing RM before the fact. I don’t understand why this is even an issue.
p. 83 – So Tom decides not to kill RM, threatens him instead, and RM says “I’m sorry” and promises not to harm Danny? This is really lame. Hopefully there’s a better resolution than this yet to come.
p. 86 – Lord Lightning is back to tie up that loose end. Good.
p. 90 – “I surrender.” Another wimpy supervillain.
p. 92 – It seems to me that Danny would want to stay in the other dimension until there was clear resolution about his father. If it were me, Macabre would have to force me into the transporter, kicking and screaming against my will.
p. 93 – Why is there a funeral for Tom? The last anyone in our world saw of him he disappeared in a cocoon. That’s an unresolved loose end, because I doubt anyone will believe Danny’s version of what happened. read
A review of When Women Ruled the Earthby jayb on 06/05/2013This is an ambitious project, but needs a lot of work to bring to market. It’s hard enough to sell a spec script in this genre, but impossible to do so when the supposed good guys indulge in an orgy of rape and murder of women and children in the Act III catharsis. The concept for this story – a Old Testament-like world where an enslaved race of men rise up against the dominant... This is an ambitious project, but needs a lot of work to bring to market. It’s hard enough to sell a spec script in this genre, but impossible to do so when the supposed good guys indulge in an orgy of rape and murder of women and children in the Act III catharsis.
The concept for this story – a Old Testament-like world where an enslaved race of men rise up against the dominant woman warrior caste – could be the best thing about this script. Instead, it’s the worst, the way it’s executed. There are parts of this screenplay that are bound to offend large numbers of people, but for the most part it’s just plain silly. You can get away with bad dialogue (of which there’s a lot in this screenplay), an unconventional meandering story structure (also the case here), and clichéd typecast characterizations (ditto). But one thing you must have in epic fantasy is a convincing, fully realized world, as in Lord of the Rings. This place where women rule the earth is no such world.
I had so many questions about the world of your story, that I could never actually put myself in it, which is why people watch this genre. How are children conceived and raised? When are the men separated? How do they feel about their mothers? Do they know their fathers? Why do men outnumber women? What do they do for sexual gratification? How do the sexes deal with the whole sexual attraction thing when they’re at on-going war with one another? This is what makes the concept so intriguing – we want to know the answer to these questions. None of this is adequately explained. Instead we get mass rape and murder at the climactic ending. I realize there are many Old Testament parallels in your story, and in the Old Testament this is how many stories end – with bloodlust and revenge. But modern Western audiences no longer seek or find satisfaction in this kind of story.
A movie like this will cost a lot of money to produce. To attract that kind of money you need to demonstrate the ability to attract an audience from all four quadrants. That’s not going to happen unless you figure out a way to present this world in way that is internally consistent and palatable to a mass audience.
p. 1-2 – Very cinematic opening. Good descriptive writing.
p. 5 – Why do slaves outnumber women 3 to 1?
p. 1-10 – Good job of setting up the story. The dialogue and basic story so far are pretty cheesy. But structurally it works so far. You’ve done a good job of setting up your fantasy world, though the world itself is morally and aesthetically offensive.
p. 16 – “We are at the Queen’s mercy, because we allow it. We outnumber them. We are stronger them. If we rebelled, we could be free men.” – Abram makes a good point here and unless you can answer it quickly with a counter argument, you don’t have a story. By the standards of human history on our own planet, it’s ridiculous to think that women could enslave men like this. So you better explain how it has happened on this planet or quickly lose your audience.
p. 18 – How is it possible for Abram to kill the Elders so easily? There is something I don’t understand about this world. What makes the men so passive? And if other men are passive, what makes Abram different? The writing so far has been good, but the entire premise seems silly to me.
p. 19 – This feels like a big mistake to have your protagonist use murder and treachery to foment a rebellion. It reduces him to the same level as the Queen, making him very unlikable and unsympathetic.
p. 21 – The scene in the altar room is unintentionally comic. The oracle says in effect ‘I told you so.’ But why is she laughing and joking? Does she know the rebellion has actually begun?
p. 23 – Interesting choice to kill off the only character to emerge as a potential protagonist. Normally this would spell disaster at this stage of the script. But there is an epic quality to this story, which makes it feasible. You need a real hero to emerge now.
p. 24 – The birth of Kande’s son begs the question of how children are normally conceived and born in this world. You better explain this quickly.
p. 25 – It’s totally implausible that the Oracle and Queen would let Trilya leave with the baby still alive. I don’t care if they did it in the Bible. You don’t get to be get to be a domineering queen and enslave the entire male sex by being that stupid.
p. 30 – Why do the prisoners descend on Akira? This world doesn’t make much sense to me.
p. 31 – Given the fact that the Queen is in her mid-50’s to early 60’s, this scene does not titillate the way I believe it is intended. Perhaps you should explain by what magic the Queen’s body is still “firm and golden.”
p. 31 – Re. Darius… How does a man slave get to be in his 80’s in this world? He must have some kind of magic, as demonstrated by his ability to rip into the flesh of a goat with his fingernails. But if the men also possess magic, why aren’t they able to challenge the magic of the women? This world makes no sense to me. What is it that enables the women to enslave the men who outnumber them.
p. 32 – It’s not clear who Zalike is referring to. Kande? Not possible if she’s older than the Queen. The exchange about her age is confusing.
p. 36-39 – The dialogue in this scene is very on the nose. And I’m not buying it that the Queen would kill Kahlia but allow Primo to live.
p. 47 – Why would Kande believe any differently than her mother and the rest of the women in her world? You need to account for such a radical departure from the norm.
p. 48 – How does Trilya get away with teaching Primo to ride in broad daylight? Wouldn’t this arouse suspicion with the other women?
p. 50 – Why does the Queen think that Primo’s not a threat? This is preposterous considering he’s already killed five women.
p. 55 – No real emotion in this scene when Kande reveals that Primo is her son. Primo’s pouty speech at the bottom of the page comes across as unintentionally comic. None of this makes any sense because the reader still doesn’t understand the relation between the sexes in this world. Why would Primo assume that mothers or fathers care for their children, when there is no evidence of that happening to anyone else?
p. 56 – Primo has access to weapons. Wow, these domineering women sure are stupid!
p. 57 – Totally on the nose declaration of love from Trilya. Where does this come from?
p. 66 – Interesting variation on the creation myth. This part of the part of the story is worth salvaging.
p. 69-70 – This long montage is boring and unnecessary. And what about Trilya, who once carried his unborn child, now dead. Has he forgotten her so quickly? Like father, like son, I suppose.
p. 80 – One must assume that Tahlia was allied with the Queen. Otherwise their armies would still be at war. I can’t see Akira reassuming power so easily because surely there would be a faction among her people who would wish to remain loyal to the Queen. Either that or the Queen’s army would be there to enforce allegiance.
p. 83 – This is too late in the story for the hero to be learning new skills like how to hunt.
p. 88 – Why did Akira’s tribe welcome Primo, but not the other men?
p. 90 – Another long montage. I still feel this is too late in the story for the hero to be training. Ninety pages into the screenplay he should be fighting, not still learning how to fight.
p. 92 – God speaks in clichés (“I am who I am”)
p. 95 – Wouldn’t the women have more work to do with all the slaves gone? Who’s going to grow crops, raise and slaughter animals, repair roads and buildings?
p. 96 “This isn’t her fault?” – Why has the Queen suddenly decided to defend her daughter?
99-104 – The battle sequence is for the most part well written.
p. 104 – The killing of the children is realistic, but makes it hard for the reader to identify with the slaves and rejoice in their victory.
p. 105 – There was a lot of rape in the Bible, too, but it’s a no-no in terms of your story’s marketability.
p. 107 – Now we see children being raped. This is going much too far. read
A review of Brokenby jayb on 09/15/2012Featured Screenplay on TriggerStreet and good showings in multiple contests… BROKEN has garnered a lot of positive attention. For some reason, I did not connect with it. Apparently, a lot of other people did, so maybe it’s just me. But I felt it was a good concept poorly executed. The premise is right on track, pushing the protagonist to care for his childhood abuser,... Featured Screenplay on TriggerStreet and good showings in multiple contests… BROKEN has garnered a lot of positive attention. For some reason, I did not connect with it. Apparently, a lot of other people did, so maybe it’s just me. But I felt it was a good concept poorly executed.
The premise is right on track, pushing the protagonist to care for his childhood abuser, after he’s been rendered helpless by a stroke. But it was hard for me to identify with Daniel, and all the other characters were ciphers, clichés, or shallow cutouts.
Daniel does not strike me as someone who has experienced genuine childhood trauma. He exhibits some of the outward signs of childhood sexual abuse, such as low self-esteem, sexual dysfunction and compulsions, and substance abuse. But he hits the wrong emotional register, striking me as more histrionic than genuinely traumatized. He lacks the guardedness and emotional numbness and dissociation you might expect to see in someone who was abused as a child. And where is the avoidance behavior? This might actually be the point of your story, forcing the protagonist into a situation he would much rather avoid. I suggest you go further in that direction, using the first act to establish the extreme measures he will take to avoid facing the pain and trauma of his past. For this to succeed, you must provide him with a much more compelling reason to move in with Kevin and help with his care. I also believe it’s a mistake for the story to begin with him in a support group. Placing him in the group at the start, trivializes his pain, making him look weak and histrionic. If you want to keep this subplot (and maybe you shouldn’t), let the events of the story push him to face his pain and seek the healing of a group because he can no longer deal with it on his own. That should be Kevin’s role in the story, to push him to seek help, not for Daniel to already be engaged in that process.
The other problem with Daniel is a storytelling issue and ironically results from too much realism in this character. Daniel is a passive protagonist. That part of Daniel’s character is realistic from a psychological point of view. But it makes for difficult storytelling.
Through the first half of the story, Daniel is a whiny, fearful, reactive baby who cowers at the feet of the women around him and does whatever they tell him to do. The one driving goal he has in life – to write a book that might help him come to terms with his abuse – gets redirected by his editor. This is as you might expect it to be for someone traumatized by childhood abuse. But it tends to get in the way of the story. The scenes where he gets pushed around by Marina are especially cringeworthy. Some of them felt real. But I really wanted to shake him by the shoulders and tell him to grow a pair. That’s good in a way. But I think it needs to be balanced by more sympathetic qualities, of which Daniel currently has almost none. It would be nice if we could see him doing something that didn’t revolve around his emotional issues and that could cast him in a more positive light. I didn’t think much of the support group subplot. It might be better to put him in an unrelated situation, such as volunteering at an animal shelter, where you can explore the same themes through the subtext. OK, that’s a cliché. But hopefully you get the idea… Cast him in a more positive, sympathetic light in some environment not directly related to his personal experience with abuse. Instead of a support group leader, make Jen a hot veterinarian. Think about it. Subtext is the key to make this work.
Regarding the changed book assignment, it might be better to have Daniel come up with this idea after he moves in with Kevin. His book, his goal, he should drive it. Anything else makes him look weak and not worthy of a reader’s emotional investment.
Lastly about Daniel, his arc was presented in a way that was inexplicable and unbelievable. Victims of abuse are generally very guarded. There is nothing in their experience to make them as gullible and naïve as Daniel is portrayed when he suddenly believes in Kevin’s redemption. The transformation occurs so rapidly as to make it even more unbelievable. It’s a neat cinematic trick to externalize the transformation in the toy, but psychologically, it makes no sense at all. Transformations occur within a character. I didn’t get much sense of what was going on inside of Daniel.
As for the other characters… Kevin is too pathetic to make an effective antagonist. I didn’t know what to make of his apology and I totally didn’t believe the transition from stroke victim back to masturbating pederast. He didn’t strike me as a real person in any way at all. And what’s with the “eye” instead of “I”? Is there a difference in pronunciation?
Susan was another highly problematic character. In family situations like the one depicted in this story the most obvious question is, What were the parents doing? In BROKEN there are strong intimations that Susan is implicated. But I never learned why or how. Daniel makes a cryptic remark at the end that he knows what she did to Kevin. But either I missed something or he’s implying that she somehow abused Kevin. I’m not sure. This could have been inattentive reading on my part. But it seemed to me that her words and behavior were out of synch with the information available to the reader. I like subtext in a story. But it feels like something’s missing (or maybe I just missed it, which is certainly possible).
Of all the characters in this screenplay, Marina is the most irritating. Some audiences love characters like this, but I think she’s a total cliché. She behaves nothing at all like a real CNA and the three word sentences are incredibly annoying and nothing at all like the speech of most Russian immigrants.
The writing in BROKEN is mostly very good, with the exception of dialogue, which tends to be on the nose and expository. Also not enough variation in speech between characters (except, of course, Marina). The description is very good. Almost at the pro level.
All the flashbacks interrupt the narrative flow. I also feel they cheapen the story. We get to see Kevin being a bully to Daniel. But there is no emotional force in a brief scene of an 18-year old dangling an 8-year old over the side of a house (page 26). I believe it would be a lot more effective and horrifying to leave most of this to the imagination. The dreams sequences were not much better. They add nothing to the story and disrupt the flow.
p. 1 – Ominous opening. The imagery is effective, but it took me a moment to visualize because of imprecision in the language. A parachute canopy is not a wheel and nylon is in no way a fabric.
p. 3 – The chair flip seems overplayed to me.
p. 7 – Not a big deal, but the email messages are a clumsy way to do exposition on his financial situation. So far, the writing is for the most part professional. It reads like a real screenplay.
p. 1-10 – Not a lot to like about Daniel. He’s an underpaid deadbeat who writes the wedding column for a Chicago paper, cheats on company time, attends a woman’s support group and frequents prostitutes. Worst of all, he drinks rainbow sherbet shakes with vodka! Everything about him screams victim. The only positive information we have about him is that he has a goal to write a book about pedophiles. There’s enough of a hint of trauma around him to keep me interested, but I’m still not with this character at this point in the story.
p. 11 – The dialogue in this important scene is a bit on the nose.
p. 16 – “Find a study on reconciling sickos with their victims.” Josh just happened to hit on the very approach to this subject matter that’s most likely to put the protagonist through paces. I don’t believe it. This premise feels like it’s coming from you, the author, not the characters.
p. 18 – Smashed mirror is a cliché.
p. 18 – “ex sister-in-law” – no one talks that way. Just call her Molly. People will figure it out.
p. 19-21 – I’m not connecting with the emotion in this scene. The conflict seems forced, not felt.
p. 22 – Daniel comes across very poorly in the group scene. Full of self-pity and rage. That might be real, but not very sympathetic. He is shaping up to be a very hard to like protagonist.
p. 28-29 – This is an effective scene where Daniel takes the pistol to Kevin’s head. Perhaps that’s because Daniel is finally asserting himself as a protagonist.
p. 31 – Daniel is looking passive and helpless again. He surrenders his gun to Jen and his booze and pills to Allison. He needs to man-up: be an armed and drunken maniac or get his shit together. But don’t leave this crucial decision in the hands of the women in his life.
p. 32 – Now another strong woman is telling Daniel what to do. I can picture Daniel freezing at the prospect of sticking his abuser with the syringe. It feels real. But it makes him look so weak. You can turn this scene around by having him jab Kevin intentionally hard with the syringe after Marina calls him a baby. Marina scolds him for being too rough. He snarls at her, “Fuck you, you’re a paid attendant,” and storms out of the room, self-satisfied with the sudden enlargement of his gonads. Maybe you are saving a transformation for the end of the story, but the audience need hints of it earlier on, or they will lose all sympathy for your protagonist.
p. 34 – Dr. Haines does not talk like a real doctor. On what basis is he predicting a significant recovery? Kevin is still practically a vegetable. No doctor is going to risk encouraging false hope without very tangible signs of improvement.
p. 42 – “My job is to do no harm.” – On the nose. Plus, I can’t imagine a doctor speaking that way to the relative of a patient, unless they were close personal acquaintances.
p. 43 – “Eyem Shurree!” – This verges on the comic. Not sure that’s the impression you want to create with an antagonist in a story of this type.
p. 48 – Daniel getting pushed around again. When is he going to stand up for himself?
p. 54 – Who does Marina work for? No way her agency is going to forego the opportunity to bill for home services as long as insurance is paying the bills. Send in a replacement for a week who sits around watching TV and ignores the patient. That would be much closer to reality.
p. 55 – I’m not buying Daniel’s sudden conversion one bit. I can see this as a cynical ploy to sell his book. But no way is he going to undergo any kind of internal transformation based on events so far. All indications are that Kevin is still the sociopathic pedophile he always was and if Daniel was really his victim, he would surely know this. At this point, I wonder if you are working for a twist where Daniel puts his trust in Kevin only to have it betrayed once more. If that’s the case, it won’t work.
p. 56 – It’s good to see Daniel taking the initiative at last, even if it’s for the wrong reason. That’s the good part of this scene. But you really cheapen it when Jen reacts by slapping him. This response is totally at odds with reality.
p. 65 – I don’t get this. Daniel writes about his story as if it happened to someone else? That seems incredibly foolish to me. Would he really do that? Why even write the book?
p. 70 – For Kevin to give Ricky the same toy as Daniel, the two boys would have to be contemporaries. That’s impossible given the ages of Kevin and Mrs. Cantorship.
p. 87 – Josh’s turn to hostility feels forced. You should establish him as more of prick at the start if you’re going to have him behave this way so near the end.
p. 90 – Daniel’s failure in bed with Jen feels real, but it’s a real downer for your protagonist so near the end. I believe a scene like this would work much better earlier in the story. Somewhere slightly past midpoint, perhaps.
p. 90 – I don’t see much of a connection between the study and the parable of the scorpion and the frog. Anyway, the parable has become such a cliché, you really should consider taking it out.
p. 101 – “I know what you did to Kevin.” Not sure if I know. Did I miss something? Maybe she abused Kevin, or let her husband abuse him. I’m all in favor of hidden meaning. But it might help to clarify a little more here. read
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