FLOOD OF TEARS
It’s an OK story that lends itself to some great opportunity for drama, but unfortunately only really changes gears once. My biggest problem was continually being pulled out of the story by undeveloped characters using undeveloped dialogue and the drama being forced onto me.
I do however think these problems can be fixed.
Writing style is stronger in the beginning. Great prose and vocabulary use. Couple of great lines of big print that I thought the writer really nailed. Unfortunately, this slowly fades as the script wares on until it feels like everything is in slow motion and the writing feels like it is on auto-pilot.
In my opinion there is too much setup. 28 pages of not much happening feels like too much for my liking. And by this I don’t mean bring the wave earlier, I mean find more reasons for me to keep reading (watching) as things happen between the characters. I never really felt a sense of, “what’s going to happen next?”.
The characters are all floating through life and most feel like they are there to serve the screenplay. I would suggest compressing lots of the opening into maybe just one family dinner, as you already have it, but start there. The family is getting everyone together for HARRY just before he goes away. That way you can get all the locals there and everything can still happen as is, but you can get about 15 pages into 8. And instead of hanging out in this little town watching people go to work, we get Harry on the plane faster and experience a journey.
Maybe then you can use that time to develop one of the more important relationships, Harry and Sumalee and allow them to experience some challenges together. It’s all a bit easy for them at the moment.
Two people from completely different backgrounds that really want to be together and they just kind of get everything they want, until the wave. It’s too easy.
The one highlight for me was on page 28 when Sumalee says I don’t want to get married – My interest was spiked. But this scene also felt forced. It didn’t read like two people coming together. It felt like two characters hitting beats. And then that dramatic question that was asked, was answered within two or three pages. Once again, it was too easy. The family just packed up and left? The fiancée didn’t put up a fight? Her mother didn’t try to stop her? I know her family are mad, but the writer didn’t let me experience that, and therefore feel for Sumalee. Instead I was ‘told’. The worst way to experience drama.
Feels very forced (I know I keep using this word, but it’s the best way to describe the feeling) and in some places much too ‘obvious’. Too much is being literally said. Characters are saying things that to me, they would not say. I don’t hear different voices from different characters, I hear what the writer thinks they would speak like.
Research can fix this.
I do think however the family are, for the most part, pretty close. But a lot of the other characters feel caricature.
Eg from just one page.
Father to elephant trainer “I’ll sue!” – Would he really say that? Sounds like an over zealous American out of a movie from the 80’s. Or to use this point again, what the writer thinks he would say. I know it’s a tiny bit-part from a small role character, but if he is not important enough to take the time to make him feel real, then he is not important enough to be there. And you should ask, does he need to be?
Two surfers – “Fucking Ularu mate” In my experience they would call it Ayres Rock. (Maybe now I’m just being picky though).
They are speaking like characters, not people. And I found this to be the case a lot throughout.
I think one big thing that researching your characters more and giving them words to say not lines to read is that the writing, and the moments between the people will become more interesting and also genuine.
The characters, unfortunately, lack character.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Just a few examples of things I found that bothered me.
PAGE 30 – The conversation with Sumalee - Would Sumalee open up to Harry that fast? (Forced). Perfect example of characters hitting beats, not people experiencing a moment. If you work that scene harder, you could get some push and pull going between them. At the moment they feel victim to the writer. Get the writer out of there and let the characters explore that moment. Yes Sumalee wants to tell someone, anyone, but would she jump straight into it? Harry seems like the type of guy that would want to see if someone is OK, so maybe that could instigate the conversation.
Also, might pay to throw a choice in there for Harry. So he went to the store not just for toiletries, but something to take back to the hotel room to relax. Say it’s his favourite snack, ice cream or something, so when he hears her sob he looks at the ice cream and actively makes the choice to delay his own desires to help someone else. He could end up sharing it with her to make her feel better.
Then they talk.
But it doesn’t happen straight away.
And harry hiding her? Need to work this more as well. Doesn’t feel real. Yet.
One issue I have is that at about page 47, this went from a ‘melodrama’ to a ‘disaster flick’… Which is fine, but it did stand out to me and took me out of the story.
PAGE 59 – “And the camera is flung wide” [I write this with a wry smile] Don’t be that writer that’s starts directing on page 59… ☺
PAGE 65 – This is the third time you’ve listed irrelevant, unimportant items… Is it really important to the story? I get it. The water is full of stuff. I don’t think you need to waste this much page listing irrelevant objects. Crunch it into half a line of big print and be done with it. Or at least have him interact with it so it has a reason for being in the writing in the first place. Once you’ve established the water is full of ‘crap’, you don’t need to keep going on with it.
PAGE 70 – 73 – Three pages of people finding out what we already know? Too many… Compress this stuff. We don’t need to hear it over and over again, we just witnessed it. Is it crucial to the story that we see all these people find out? Why not get the important people (family) around a TV and have them all see a news report at once? And maybe juxtapose that with a pleasant moment so I can really feel how these people witness this moment.
PAGE 97 – 99 Harry tells two different people in two different scenes he is going back… Once is enough. Pick which one you like better and work that one.
Congrats! You got to the end. The hardest thing to do.
But at the moment, for me, this story needs work.
There is a perfect opportunity to make this a great family drama flick, and Harry an engaging, compelling character that faces incredible hardships both emotionally and physically through the process of finally restoring his family and shedding some demons. But I don’t think that is happening yet.
All in all, and I may not have focused too much on the good, but there is a lot in there and in my opinion, this is a great place to build from and refine.
I do understand I may not be the target audience for this project, and if you take offense to anything listed above, know that I am just trying to help. So you just take what you like and ignore the rest!
Thanks for the read!
Keep working it until it works.
Other Reviews by Reeder Righter 6
A review of Guernicaby Reeder Righter on 10/19/2011Nice little short. I needed to watch it twice to 'get it', but once I did I think you got a lot across in a very little time, which is great. Second time around I also paused it and read the letters. Which was actually heaps of fun, as it felt like being a fly on the wall. Maybe some of the shots could have let me in more? With a story like this, and being so short, you have... read
A review of Das Scorpionby Reeder Righter on 10/19/2011After watching three times... Firstly, the good; I think you definitely captured the ‘strange’ vibe. Kids playing in the garden, creepy face paint. It’s all done pretty well. It’s very abstract, and if you are into that kind of thing, this is great. I would love to see how you would handle a more structured story. For me though, at first I wasn’t sure if this was a comedy... read