Six friends, three summers, one mystery...
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A story about a boy who loves books and a strange and magical bookshop he discovers, one with a dark secret. It begins on the boy's first day at a new school. And it ends - well, it ends with another beginning. Like all good stories...
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Reviews of Mr Hamilton's Bookshop 31
by Braxcugs on 08/08/2011FADE IN is on the wrong side of the page. Not a problem. Let's get on with the story. Again from page one: “EXT. STREET - DAY An ambulance races to their rescue.” Maybe I missed something, but all I can see from the description of the scene is an ambulance racing down a street (having changed scene it's not the same street). Leave it to the imagination of the reader that... FADE IN is on the wrong side of the page. Not a problem. Let's get on with the story.
Again from page one:
“EXT. STREET - DAY
An ambulance races to their rescue.”
Maybe I missed something, but all I can see from the description of the scene is an ambulance racing down a street (having changed scene it's not the same street). Leave it to the imagination of the reader that it's heading “to their rescue”.
Always from page one:
“...exhausted by the weeks of worry over her son…”
I guess the author has (already – we are only at page one) an issue with unfilmables. The rule is simple: a script is made of action and dialogues. In this scene we have a worried mother sitting across the room in front of a policeman. That's it. Nothing more and nothing less.
Weeks of worry have passed by? You can use a super: “After weeks of worry” or a narrator. Let this info (if important)come out of a dialogue. Or else: leave to the immagination of the reader that weeks of worry have passed by.
Page 3: “In the distance, SIRENS WAIL...” (why sirens in all caps?) Always from page 3: ALFIE and SOPHIE ASHE are in all caps for the second time. Also BRENDAN pg. 8. Again WILL pg.26.
I guess the author is missing some of the basics in screenwriting. Introducing characters for the second time (this is what happens when they are again in all caps) is confusing and a waist of time (for the reader).
On pg. 6 we have underlined words. Again pg. 9...11...12... On page pg. 16 we switch to bold letters. The author seems not to have a clue of proper screenplay formatting. Maybe he should have read a book on this topic (or made some reaserch on the net) before writing a screenplay.
Pg. 7 “Only Sophie hears the DOORBELL ring downstairs.” Sorry but on screen this doesn't make sense. There is a “doorbell RING” and how are we supposed to know that only Sophie hears it? She's the only one to turn her head? She's talking and suddenly stops? She asks if someone else heard the doorbell RING?
Pg. 13 – Sorry but the dialogue seems everything but a conversation between teenagers. They all sound alike, no distinct voice. Dialogue is everything but credible.
Pg. 23 “He continues browsing. On closer inspection, there are
shelf-talkers which indicate how the books are arranged,
but these are not the usual bookshop categories (Fiction,
History etc) but more esoteric, imaginative ones: Great
Journeys, Magical Discoveries, Lovable Eccentrics. Within
each section is a range of types of book: novels, poetry,
This would sound perfect in a novel but it is just not visual for a screenplay. Have no idea how a camera could pan the way the author described the scene.
“Alfie PAUSES by a section labelled The Rise of Evil. From
here he TEASES OUT A SMALL HARDBACK called The Reluctant
Hero, a World War II novel.”
Is “a World War II” part of the title? If not it's an unfilmable for the umpteenth time.
BTW I give up making comments on formatting, unfilambles, etc. My best guess is that this story was at first a novel. Too bad the author didn't take the time to learn the basics of screenwriting before uploading his script.
Slugs: please avoid all these “LATER”, “DAWN”, “EVENING”, “FADE to whatever”, “SAME TIME (?)” etc. Please use only Day or Night.
pg 27 “Sophie says goodbye to Carol and closed the door. Now only
she, Will, Brendan and Alfie remain.”
Maybe “closed” should be “closes”.
pg. 34 “Alfie looks haunted and exhausted. He’s been reading all
night and has been spooked by the tale of the monk.”
I know I promised not to make comments on unfilmables, but this is too much. We take a look at an exhausted main chacter and know what he did all night? In a script?
pg. 39 “Sophie sits down opposite him. Alfie thinks about moving -
then decides he can’t be bothered.”
Same as before. People in scripts just don't think. It's action and dialogues. Only action and dialogues. Please.
Pg. 41 “Frank didn’t know Alfie knew about this...”
We have a character that doesn't know what another character knows..??!!??(Sorry but this goes straight in the Guiness Book of Records of poor screenwriting).
We have passed page 50 and nothing has really happened, except lots of dialogue. No antagonist, no act breaks. Maybe this could be a good novel, maybe it could work as a play. A screenplay should catch the reader's attention in the first 10 pages.
The rules of the game in a script: they should all be revealed in the beginning. On page 75 we continue to receive new rules, often in contradiction with previous ones. This is really confusing.
Only a few considerations on the story:
The whole thing of disappearing (airbrushed) doesn't make sense to me. Again the rules are not clear.
Alfie disappears and his mother doesn't come to help reaserch? Three teenagers disappear (and at the end we learn many others before) and the police don't make any reaserch in the bookshop?
Most of all the plot of the car crash doesn't make much sense. The father goes in jail for a crash and he wasn't even driving??? The band plays at night, the guitar player leaves together with Frank and Tom and nobody notices? He gets out of a car crash with one dead (and the other badly injured) without a scratch to connect him to the car crash??? Sorry but this goes way beyond a normal suspension of disbelief.
Sorry to be so negative, but I really believe the author should go back to square one with this script. First of all learn the basics of screenwriting (as proper formatting). It is important to understand that a screenplay is action and dialogue.
Characters should have proper arcs and distinct voices.
Thanks for the read and best of luck with your rewrites. read
by Gary Mark Lee on 07/11/2011I really liked this story, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not? I’m and older guy and have seen a lot of movies and love stories that have likeable characters and interesting ideas, this script had that. I reminded me of “The Neverending Story” with a bit of “Harry Potter” thrown in. It all took place in England and that’s fine but I did have a bit of a problem... I really liked this story, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not? I’m and older guy and have seen a lot of movies and love stories that have likeable characters and interesting ideas, this script had that. I reminded me of “The Neverending Story” with a bit of “Harry Potter” thrown in.
It all took place in England and that’s fine but I did have a bit of a problem with the British references to things like “Eight form” for school years and a few other things, it’s not a big deal but for international markets they will want to clarified that.
It started a bit slow but built up to a BIG finish, but the problem that you will run up against with producers and such will be the lack of action for the first 60 pages, not a lot happens other then characters taking and setting up the premise for later in the story. With today’s teen audiences they want some kind of happening about every 10 to 15 minutes, and they are not big readers. I love books and old book stores, but like I said I’m older and not a part of the face book and instant gratification that’s so popular today. I think you might have to cut down on the talking a bit and bring in the magic faster.
The plot was very good but a bit complicated, I lost track of how things were working now and then and had to re-read some things, it was all worked out like a good detective novel but your aiming for a younger audience and they might not follow along so easily.
Your lead Alfie was good but I wanted a bit more of his back story and his age seemed a bit old for a story of this type, at age 16 most guys are obsessed with girls and not with reading. I would also like a bit of romance between Sophie and Alfie to and some spice to the story.
The flashbacks added info and I liked the Old Monk a lot, and him meeting with the Asian holy men was really great, it added weight to the story and I’m as sucker for Old Monks in movies.
I can see form the amount of downloads that you’ve already gotten a lot of info on formatting and typo’s so I’ll skip all the technical stuff.
As I said at the beginning, I really liked this script, it was interesting and had tons of imagination, your only problem with be your target audience, will it be older or younger, did you try to satisfy them both and therefore cut your idea in two?
Hard choice’s to be sure, a good book will grab you on the first few pages, I would punch up the beginning with some action, maybe a flashback of the Old Monk, and then go into the story.
You did a good thing, I enjoyed the read and found lots between the pages, count me in for your bookstore. read
by Johnmattb on 07/11/2011Well, this was not what I expected. I was kind of looking for a light-hearted children's adventure, a sort of literary focused Willy Wonka style romp. The title, in fact, put me in mind of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, which I never saw, but looked sprightly and cute. So it was a surprise to get into the heart of this thing and discover that it's a much darker story than... Well, this was not what I expected. I was kind of looking for a light-hearted children's adventure, a sort of literary focused Willy Wonka style romp. The title, in fact, put me in mind of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, which I never saw, but looked sprightly and cute. So it was a surprise to get into the heart of this thing and discover that it's a much darker story than expected, more in line with the Twilight Zone than Roald Dahl. It does maintain it's kids movie vibe, and it obviously never goes into serious horror territory, but the themes and concepts explored here are more like Being John Malkovich or even a preteen version of Clive Barker.
I found it to be a very engaging read. No lie, a lot of the time I kind of have to force myself to push forward in a script. I'll know pretty much everywhere a story is going and lose interest. Not here. This is a seriously unpredictable yarn, and this is it's biggest strength.
Where it threatens to lose me, and something I think you might want to be conscious of, considering the target audience for this, is that there's a whole lot of information to be doled out and explained, and most of the time, the characters aren't willing to divulge much of it. It makes things more mysterious, but also more confusing. I'm not saying it was tough to understand the concepts at play, but it is a daunting amount of mythology to piece through, and looking back at it now, I'm not a hundred percent sure I could articulate exactly how the book curse works or why the Hamiltons need to break it, or what the kids interest was to begin with. Simplifying the concept would be my goal, in large part because its a kid story. Also, when the nature of the reader was revealed, I was slightly disappointed that this wasn't going to be the love letter to reading I thought it would be. Reading actually ends up being something of an isolating curse in its own right here, which I think is not the intention. I'd love to see the Call of the Wild or the Invisible Man used as more than props. Added to this, on its face, I'm not quite sold that reading biographies of normal people would be more engaging than classic literature at all. I'd like to know more how those books read.
The characters all have arcs and plotlines, but not a ton of liveliness. Now granted, they're all bookworms, but a bit of humor might have gone a long way. The one character I wasn't engaged with at all was Frank. There was quite a bit involving him in the third act that was completely removed from the much higher stakes conclusion in the library of eternity, and I just didn't care about it all that much.
I don't really feel at all comfortable making suggestions about what's marketable, because I have no authority at all on the subject, but I was struck by how tough a sell this might be. It looks on the outside like part of the YA Harry Potter crowd, but it's very much it's own weird thing. Instead of magic, there's a lot of scenes of people reading books, and reading them so much that the tedium drives them to madness. There's nothing wrong with this per se, but it could make the selling of it tougher. Personally, I also spent a lot of time trying to wrap my brain around the metaphysical implications of these books existing, and I think it's maybe more of a mind fuck than the script allows for.
The structure and pacing are all solid. Again, I flew through this. It was a very entertaining read, and it did a number on my head, a bit. Where I would go would be to simplify it. Best of luck, you've done a very nice job. read
by thomastrace03 on 07/09/2011Mr. Hamilton’s book shop was a very fun read. You have a great concept and a captivating plot. However, the story can be confusing and unclear at times. If you clear up the confusing elements of the story, I think you will have a solid script. Like I mentioned, your premise- a group of teenagers discover a magical bookshop where the books you read reveal the past and future... Mr. Hamilton’s book shop was a very fun read. You have a great concept and a captivating plot. However, the story can be confusing and unclear at times. If you clear up the confusing elements of the story, I think you will have a solid script.
Like I mentioned, your premise- a group of teenagers discover a magical bookshop where the books you read reveal the past and future life of the previous owner- is high concept. People will hear this premise and want to read your script. Job well done on that.
You also have a very captivating plot. You do a great job of presenting the reader with questions that he wants to find the answer to: what is the deal with the book club? What is so special about these books they are reading? What is going on with Mr. Hamilton’s bookshop? You don’t present us with the answers to these questions immediately which keeps us the turning the page. Job well done on that, as well.
There are some plot turns and elements of the story that are unclear to me. For one, I thought being a “reader” was a special gift that only a few possessed. When Mr. Hamilton tells the backstory involving Donald and Daphne it seems as if everyone will possess the abilities of a “reader” as long as a spell is whispered before they read the book. I don’t understand why Alfie doesn’t believe Mr. Hamilton at first when he tells him that he will vanish from existence if he reads his own book. Alfie has already found out that these books possess other magical abilities. Why is it so hard for him to believe that they possess another one? Why do the kids think that reading the Robert Jones story will prove that the curse does or does not exist? You make it seem that they will know that the curse exists if they read that Robert Jones vanished because he read his own book. But they have already read Graveline’s story- which states the he vanished because he read his own book. So based on your logic they should already believe the curse exists because they read Graveline’s story, right? These are a few of the questions that I had while reading your script. I figured others out after deliberating for a while. I thinks its fine to have a fun complex plot but you don’t want to make it complex to the point that is distracting and takes away from the entertainment value. In a sense, your story reminds me of Inception and the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. I spent so much time trying to iron out the logic in those movies that I wasn’t able to just sit back and fully enjoy the ride.
The car crash subplot doesn’t seem realistic to me. It seems a little too convenient that the dad can’t remember anything about the crash. Not even that he wasn’t driving the car. Why did Frank do jail time? Why did the cops think he was driving recklessly, was he drunk? Why did they even think he was driving? Why did the friend leave the crash scene? Was he drunk or doing something illegal? The way in which Frank remembers what really happened the night of the crash also seems too convenient.
Lastly, I think you should dial down the novelistic nature of your writing. As you probably know, if the camera can’t see it you can’t write it. Not a big deal for me but according to the screenwriting gurus it’s a no-no.
As I said I think you have the potential to have a very strong script if you clarify some the confusing parts of your story. Good luck to ya!
by wanderingmbhorn on 07/09/2011This screenplay is quite special, as you really delve into the power of stories in a way that is both enjoyable and special. The story reads like a mix between classic children's tales, such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events. It's dark, while also reveling in child-like, whimsical fantasy. Really something special, to say the... This screenplay is quite special, as you really delve into the power of stories in a way that is both enjoyable and special. The story reads like a mix between classic children's tales, such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events. It's dark, while also reveling in child-like, whimsical fantasy. Really something special, to say the least.
That said, I did not choose to write this review without critiques, as there were areas that I thought could be cleared up here. If Alfie's father is (supposedly) responsible for Tom's death, why is Alfie with him and not Jackie. Wouldn't she be rewarded custody? There needs to be an explanation behind why he is not with her.
You've created a world in which reading is lost and computers have taken over here and, at times, you allude to the school being against books, as if they are dangerous. This is a powerful tool in Farenheit 451 and it has the ability to work here, however, you must focus on why the school thinks they’re bad. As of now, high schools still assign reading, it’s not looked down upon yet. Without an explanation as to why reading is looked down upon in this fairy-tale, the plot device is just a trope.
You have the opportunity to do something visually impressive early on here that I think you totally miss out on. Alfie is reading these first few books and you just show him reading. Don’t just show it, show us snippets of the story inside. Eventually, you do this with the story of Gravelaine and later books, but you miss the opportunity to accomplish it early on with the first two books Alfie reads.
Your story seems like it takes place in another place or another time that is a fantasy and not modern. It has a fairy-tale meaning to it. Thus, I feel that the constant use of cellphones or computers just doesn’t fit with the tone of the story. It would be like a cell phone being used in Harry Potter, you know what I mean?
Lastly, I think you hit a lag prior to your finale. Towards the ending, in Mr. Hamilton’s bookshop, it’s essentially just Sophie, Brendan, and Alfie complaining and re-hashing how they were put in their miserable situation. It’s a lag in the story and it’s not a good way to wrap things up, it’s like you’re limping to the finish. Thus, I’d suggest lessening this section to shorten the story and race to your finish.
Back to positives. Throughout, your dialogue is crisp and to the point while your characters are quality and three-dimensional, very impressive. All that aside, I was most impressed with how you build Alfie and Frank's Father-Son relationship. The fracture and awkwardness is clear and almost palpable, very impressive. I even like the cool, Back to the Future type ending, which fits the story nicely.
No title page
Pg. 3 – realizes, with a z
Pg. 4 – louder, not more loudly
You should always have a period after Mr., but you do not, throughout
Pg. 22 – Shouldn’t it be ‘Joseph’s?’
Pg. 78 – Stories, not storeys
Again, I cannot stress how much I liked this. Rarely is there a story that can be both magical for children and engrossing for adults and, despite some adult themes here, I think you accomplish this quite nicely. As an avid reader, this spoke to me personally and, as you can see, I have few critiques, this is close to perfect.
Good luck and keep writing! read
by brrose on 06/28/2011I love books. I think most writers are first readers. I've been hoping to catch up with this script for a while as I was hooked by the premise of a boy with a love of books who stumbles across a magical bookshop. It may not be the biggest hook for many but it was certainly up my alley. I wasn't disappointed and I think you've crafted a wonderful story here. After reading your... I love books. I think most writers are first readers. I've been hoping to catch up with this script for a while as I was hooked by the premise of a boy with a love of books who stumbles across a magical bookshop. It may not be the biggest hook for many but it was certainly up my alley. I wasn't disappointed and I think you've crafted a wonderful story here.
After reading your script, I can't help but wax sentimental about the state of these small book shops with dusty books on the back shelves. In the US, they've been folding like a stack of cards to the point where they don't really exist anymore. While this script has been posted Amazon.com announced their sales of e-books topped hard copy book sales for the first time ever. If a bookstore doesn't offer fruit slushies, fancy lunch panini's or have an affliation with Starbucks, it's a serious flaw in their business plan nowadays. This is punctuated by the fact that when I take my kids to the bookstore, they run right past the books and want to know what I'm going to buy them in the toy section. Grrrr!
One of the reasons I bring this up is I wondered how a younger audience would respond to this story as they don't have the shared experience with these bookshops that you and I have. Ipads, kindles, smartphones, gaming, laptops - yes. Old books with yellowed pages from the neighborhood independent bookstore- they would have no idea what that looked like, smelled like, etc. This piece felt nostalgic to me and I LIKED that but it also made me wonder who exactly is your audience?
First of all, I'll make formatting comments to get them out of the way. Your writing is too good to present it in a non professional manner. FADE IN: should be at left margin. I wasn't a fan of all FADE TO BLACKS, FADE UP ON's, etc. in the middle of the script. I like one FADE IN to start and one FADE OUT to end but that's me. I didn't understand all the CAPS. They should only be used for technical instructions, SUPERS, possibly titles, character first introductions, and optional for sounds. Continuous should only be used when there's NO time lapse (there's a time lapse p27).Try to stick to DAY, NIGHT, or possibly CONTINUOUS in slugs. I've never seen SAME TIME (P 39)and how could anything be shown same time unless it's split screen? You have a couple of 4+ line paragraphs that would look better broken up but they were few and far between. DISSOLVE TO:'s do not designate a flashback. Flashbacks aren't formatted properly- FLASHBACK should be in slugs and the body of flashback shouldn't be italicized. pg56 - - means interrupted speech and it's redundant to put (interrupting) parenth. in the next line. A couple times I though your wrylies were not needed - p105 (pleading) is another example- that scene is all set up and we know he's pleading. Ok is a word= okay. Been told no bold- pg 16 - just put in quotes (like the bookmark reads: "HAMILTONS..." Trottier's Bible (where I get this stuff) says book titles in quotes with CAPS, not italics. Don't need CONT'D in dialogue unless it carries over from prev. page.
pg 2 think we should have some kind of time designation in the slug indicating we went back in time to St Joseph's. Confusing to read the first time.
pg 3 really like your tagline about "it ends with another beginning. Like all good stories." That belongs on the movie poster! Nice bookends (excuse the pun) with narrator at beginning and end.
pg 6 Alfie's book list is great device. gives him motivation. BTW, I love how you took care to keep a book near Alfie at all times. A reader really gets a sense of this kid's love for books through the visual, not by him saying, "I love reading!" When he wants to join the reading group, I said "of course he does". Good writing!
pg 10 no strong antag has been introduced (Will doesn't cut it- we should know the REAL antag by now). I'm thinking Alfie and the gang should have a brush with Mr Hamilton in the first 10 pages and then Alfie goes back alone like he does around in the early 20's.
pg 13 Alfie's taking risks- He takes the book from Sophie's bag- protag taking action- good!
pg 21 More action by protag - visits the bookshop.
p26 Ah he takes the bait (the book)- he made the wrong choice and it was consistent with the character you've established. Good structure/ good storytelling.
p30 raising the stakes with reveal about reading own book.
p54 good midpoint with "false victory" when he executes plan with Tom's old book. Leads to much more trouble.
p54 Why not write "A SHADOWY FIGURE of an old man lurks behind Mr Hamilton." saves a line and avoids all those meaningless words.
p67 not quite sure why Alfie got cursed when he reads Tom's book. I assume it's because Mr Hamilton wrote his name on the inside cover.
p81 love all the trapped readers- good idea!
p82 good low point.Nobody can ever leave unless curse is lifted. Impossible odds.
p90 wait there's hope! they have a plan.
p91 Teasing us- nice job. there's no hope again.
p92 Have to say, the Brendan suicide read flat to me. Seemed random and Alfie's only reaction was shaking his head and then Brendan's never mentioned again. This is a good plot point but undersold. Can we know that he's turning things around and his life is beginning to show more promise so I can feel worse when he dies? Can you somehow motivate his actions more with some inner demons that get the best of him? Something that Sophie and Alfie (and the audience) worries about and when he jumps it confirms their worst fear about what he's capable of.
p101 great Alfie/ Hamilton showdown scene- well done!
p104 I wonder what jackie's role is in Alfie's life. She's an underdeveloped character to be taking up such prime real estate in your script. Why is he living with Dad? Did I miss something?
p105 Why doesn't Alfie talk to his dad? It can't be because of the Tom accident because he lived with him many years afterwards. Why would he assume this episode was his dad's fault when he has no memory of what happened? I guess I could see Jackie blaming Frank but something didn't feel right there for me.
p106 loved the found paper. I'll also say this script is filled with similar little treasures that are so effective and it's a pleasure to read a script from a writer that sweats the details of a story.
p108 It's just too convenient Frank had complete amnesia for so many years and all of the sudden remembers EVERYTHING, then Frank and Jackie cuddle. I like happy endings but too much movie magic for me on that one.
Overall, this is a great script and your sense of story and character is very strong. I enjoyed it very much and wish you the best with it! read
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 06/28/2011“Pure Entertainment” “Family Fun” “Diamond Characters” OVERALL I didn’t believe I could read a screenplay this fast. One of the most interesting screenplays I’ve ever read and I’ve read quite a few. Although at times I felt like I was reading a book more than a screenplay however I could totally see this script becoming a great family film. CONCEPT I felt as if the concept... “Pure Entertainment” “Family Fun”
I didn’t believe I could read a screenplay this fast. One of the most interesting screenplays I’ve ever read and I’ve read quite a few. Although at times I felt like I was reading a book more than a screenplay however I could totally see this script becoming a great family film.
I felt as if the concept was more or less about family. I felt that was constant throughout and well integrated with the storyline revolving around books. From page one I could see the story building from these two ideas which made reading the screenplay very smooth, delightful and filled with anticipation.
What more can I say, the story was engaging at every turn. I though the exposition was done very well as we needed it to understand more about the story. The relationships were precious. They felt real. I won’t waste any time reiterating everything that I though was great about them.
What really impressed me were the final events of the story. To clarify, the way I took it was Mr. Hamilton strongly felt that ALFIE was the one to find the second spell to free everyone because he fit some description of a character in the original spell book, to the point where he became blinded by desperation. But who knows if ALFIE was really the one or not, instead the story ended in different, non-predictable route which I thought was excellent.
Just one thing I thought for their age they could of reacted a bit more nonchalant about the kissing but that’s just my humble opinion. It didn’t take away from anything.
The structure to me was on point although some may not agree with me. I clearly understood all the different locations, flashbacks, camera angles etc… just fine.
Found some mistakes, there may be more.
PG 72. STAMPS/ should be/ STOMPS
PG 85. The turn to go / should be/ They turn to go
The dialogue was great; to me it displayed all of the character’s personalities very well. Alfie’s arrogance, Sophie’s stubbornness, Will’s envy, Brendan’s coolness etc…
THANKS AND GOOD LUCK read
by gridlock on 06/27/2011Excellent writing! This story sucked me right in, and held my attention throughout. Even with all the rules you broke. Sorry I don't have much to offer in the way of advice, I think this is ready to send out for sure! (even with my minor nit-picky notes, below) Notes as I read through: Excellent opening. It’s well written, and sucks me right in from the start. I can’t wait... Excellent writing! This story sucked me right in, and held my attention throughout. Even with all the rules you broke. Sorry I don't have much to offer in the way of advice, I think this is ready to send out for sure! (even with my minor nit-picky notes, below)
Notes as I read through:
Excellent opening. It’s well written, and sucks me right in from the start. I can’t wait to see what happened to Alfie and Sophie.
When you use numbers in dialogue, they should be spelled out (sorry, I’m a hopeless format/spelling/grammar Nazi). Bad habit, but at least it’s useful ;)
You don’t need to use (CONT’D)’s when a character speaks twice in a row. It’s distracting, and generally preferred that it only be used when the dialogue carries over to the next page.
Great stuff with the kids in their own little groups, and the teasing of each other. Very realistic.
Don’t put action in parentheticals! (looks around the group)
I’m really getting curious to know what all this “reader” build-up is about.
Wow, almost up to the second act turning point, and you still have my 100% interest.
You’ve got some unusual formatting going on, and action/description lines that are way too long – but THEY WORK! (not often you see that). Anyway, I’m not knocking off points for that.
Interesting, having the book take on the former reader’s life story. Never seen that done before.
Page 26. You’re missing a period in the dialogue.
Page 30. This just keeps getting better and better! Sorry for the glaring lack of constructive criticism, but this is really very well written.
Page 30. You have Alfie speak simultaneously, but you don’t indicate with who.
Alfie discovers a way to find out more about his brother Tom’s death. Pretty interesting stuff.
I live the kissing scenes! Fits great for the age group.
Page 106. What does scrawled in biro mean? read
by annerocious on 06/26/2011This screenplay has a very auspicious feet-first beginning and many things work for it. The b-story about the lost soul father, the conceit of a magical English bookshop, your technical excellence, and the clever final challenge at the end to undo the a-story in one fell swoop. Those are all sound and strong. The third act is full of interest and action and intriguing visuals... This screenplay has a very auspicious feet-first beginning and many things work for it. The b-story about the lost soul father, the conceit of a magical English bookshop, your technical excellence, and the clever final challenge at the end to undo the a-story in one fell swoop. Those are all sound and strong.
The third act is full of interest and action and intriguing visuals as well, but that is in stark contrast to the body of the story. I wouldn't presume to say that this is more of a novel than a screenplay, but it is useful shorthand for the idea that this draft does not tell your story visually. Most scenes are of people reading or explaining the story's main device to each other, which is necessary because its logic isn't easy to grasp.
This leaves you with better than half a screenplay that is flat exposition. Which nevertheless left me with many questions. I understand that a magic book was written by a woman 200 years ago and that because of that, some people are born able to read the books that are brought into this shop, and if they read a book in their special way they are actually reading the life of the book's previous owner. But it seems that in doing so, they overwrite the previous owner with their own story, so that no one would be able to read the same inner story twice, but that logic doesn't work all the way through, meaning that every book Alfie brought into the shop would become his story, so the shop would end up with hundreds of Alfies, or how Alfie could read Violet's War without it being Sophie's story, as she had bought the book. Also, though the reading group is all able to read these stories, only Alfie is referred to as a reader, so I didn't know what he could do that was different than what they could do. Or why there were readers in the library who obviously weren't able find the spell. It was fascinating to find that there was no Violet's War ever written, but then that doesn't show up again and isn't explained and the other books are all familiar titles.
Also, it is not explained why the life stories of avid readers are so much more interesting and absorbing than fiction to these school kids.
It is my opinion that the device needs some streamlining so that it does not need so much explaining and can be expressed in a visual way, and that many of the talking scenes about how it works be rewritten to include more to look at if this is to succeed as a screenplay.
The simplest solution, I believe, is to have Alfie put in physical danger much earlier in the story so that some of the explanations can be done in scenes of conflict and peril, but that is your choice.
It is confusing that Frank has a memory loss that is unrelated to a storyline that is about memory loss in other ways, it feels like a coincidence.
The remarriage of his mother isn't addressed at the end, so that feels like an open end. Are they reunited as a family or no?
There is plenty of room in the world for more kids' adventures, especially about magical bookshops, and Alfie is a wonderfully odd little duck as a character. That being said, all your kids spoke in the same (rather grown-up) voice, so mixing it up there would add some texture to the dialogue.
by Pmitch on 06/26/2011Sophie Ashe tells Alfie Ray about a magical bookshop where you read a book and your story is left in the pages. Alfie longs to find out about his brother who was killed in an auto accident. His father deals with the agony of not being able to remember the accident. The once catch is that you are not allowed to read a book with your own story. I thought this would be one of... Sophie Ashe tells Alfie Ray about a magical bookshop where you read a book and your story is left in the pages. Alfie longs to find out about his brother who was killed in an auto accident. His father deals with the agony of not being able to remember the accident. The once catch is that you are not allowed to read a book with your own story.
I thought this would be one of those many stories about spells and magic that everyone wants to read because it is more entertaining than reading books about good old values but I was taken by surprise. There is a nice subplot about about a car accident and a father dealing with the loss of his son. The son does his best by falling into his imagination and discovers something interesting in the process. This is a good story to help children and parents who are dealing with tragedy. I would be interested in how the author came up with this idea. The writer has some great writing skills. The script has good character development and dialogue. The structure is well done.
Suggestions for improvement: Have more scenes where Frank talks to Jackie about the loss of their son. Show more the pain and despair. Have more scenes and dialogue with Jackie. I felt like I did not know her. The Inspector appears at the start of the script and disappears. Is this an ongoing investigation into the accident? How does the bookshop look in the 1860's (add some more detail)? Too many lines about how if Alfie reads the book about his life, he will vanish. Show more the deep hurt in his life and need to know the truth which drives him to do it.
Overall, this script was a good effort and interesting idea.
- Writer: Hugh Brune
- Uploaded by: hughbrune
- Length: 110 pages
- Genre: adventure, children/family
- Bio: Novelist and screenwriter. Formerly 'one of the best young writers we've got' according to the Big Issue in the UK. Now middle aged with two kids (the younger of whom just got her first short story published aged six) and doing TV work for money and spec scripts for fun. I live just far enough away from London to keep myself sane.
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