Feedback is the combined scores and remarks from 2 judges.
On a scale of 1-10, 1= poor, 10= excellent.
Writing Essentials = 9
Spelling, grammar, punctuation = 10
A low score indicates that there are enough errors and typos to possibly affect the overall impression your script makes. Be sure to proofread carefully. You may benefit from having a style guide handy as you work, such as Strunk & White’s Elements of Style (available here: http://tinyurl.com/swstyle ) or Modern American Usage (available here: http://tinyurl.com/amerusage ).
Notes = The screenplay has been very well proofread. No typos/errors were noticed or distracted from the read. Well done!
Format = 9
A low score indicates that the author should consult a format guide. We recommend “The Screenwriter’s Bible” by David Trottier (available here: http://tinyurl.com/trottierbible ).
Notes = The scene format is accurate and professional. However, be sure to capitalize the characters’ names when they are first introduced. On page 3, “Henry Vaughn, Sr.” should in CAPS. On page 5, “Charles ‘Tuna’ Manero” should be in CAPS, and so on for any new character throughout the script.
Narrative = 10
This score reflects the degree in which the author paints pictures with words concisely and creates an appropriate/effective tone for the script.
Avoid overly verbose narrative that resembles a novel vs. a screenplay. Script narrative is concise and to the point, while being vivid at the same time. Study the pros to see how complex imagery is expressed in short, punchy sentences.
Notes = The writer is adept at describing the characters with strong visuals while remaining concise. The narrative that introduces Henry provides a vivid picture of his character with descriptive phrases such as “man’s man” and “goofball show-off”. Each characters’ mannerisms are also well-conveyed, especially the difference between Sam’s slightly cold demeanor and Thomas’s friendly one. The locations and settings are adequately described as well.
Scene construction, placement, and rhythm = 8
This score reflects the degree in which the author exhibits a sense of rhythm and timing. Whether the scenes “come in late and leave early” – letting the audience catch up or infer what is going on, rather than over-explaining and rehashing moments/ideas. It reflects the effectiveness of the script’s pacing.
Notes = The first scenes in Act One move briskly, but the scene on pages 20-26 is a bit too lengthy. Although it’s good to show that Henry is convinced the pill made him gay, Henry and Sam’s conversation is unnecessarily repetitive. Sam’s insistence that the pill has nothing to do with Henry’s new attraction to men should be stated quickly, thus getting to the point of the scene (Sam’s invitation for Henry to join Sam and his boyfriend at the Hippo). It’s also problematic that as the script progresses, the scenes tend to get shorter. This should be reversed — the scenes in Act Three can be slightly longer than those in the first two acts.
Dialogue = 9
Natural/realistic dialogue = 10
This score reflects the author’s ability to create dialogue that has the simple ring of truth. Screenplay dialogue should sound like eavesdropping on real life, with the complex and messy patterns of speech we hear every day. A low score indicates that the dialogue was stilted, wooden, formal, or overly verbose.
Notes = The characters’ conversations have a natural cadence to them. The dialogue sounds realistically casual, especially when Henry and his teammates talk to each other. Henry’s initial conversations with Sam and Thomas have a believable awkward quality as Henry involuntarily insults them or makes uncomfortable comments about homosexuality.
Vibrant/fresh/original = 8
Creating a distinctive voice for each character = 9
Be sure to use dialogue as a means of characterization. For example, a bully might interrupt everyone all the time whereas a shy person might speak in short, mumbled sentences. Be sure to give each character their own quirks, rhythms and speech patterns that illuminate something about who they are on the inside. No two characters should sound exactly alike.
Notes = Henry’s personality is apparent in his dialogue, and it’s evident that life has been fairly easy for him as a ballplayer. The writer does a good job of conveying Henry’s passion for singing. We learn more about Henry’s character as he slowly lets his guard down and begins to express his hopes and dreams to his friends and Hank.
Sam and Thomas have very well-written dialogue because we are able to tell which character is speaking even without looking at their character heading. Sam’s dialogue is sarcastic while Thomas veers towards a kinder approach.
Alice’s dialogue could use more nuance. Apart from her love of stand-up comedy, we don’t learn much about Alice via her dialogue. Her line about getting implants is funny, but Alice loses some of this sharpness as the plot progresses. It’d be better for Alice to retain this straightforward, no-nonsense humor because then she’d be able to put Henry’s “problem” into perspective when he begins to whine too much.
Avoiding overt exposition = 10
Be sure to avoid exposition in dialogue. Rather than explaining things outright, find more creative ways to impart information. We recommend that all authors read their work aloud with a friend or fellow writer. Any lines that sound more like pronouncements for the audience’s sake should be removed or reworked to sound more natural. Recommended reading: “Creating Characters: Let Them Whisper Their Secrets” by Marisa D’Vari (available here: http://tinyurl.com/dvaridialogue ).
Notes = The writer does an excellent job of avoiding overt exposition. Information is conveyed in a natural manner during the characters’ conversations.
Characters = 9
How compelling is the protagonist (scale of 1-10) = 9
Notes = Henry’s asthma is a good way to show his self-consciousness and fear that his teammates may discover his secret. It makes us realize that if Henry is so scared for any of his teammates or fans to find out about his health issue, he’s a hundred times more fearful for anyone to think he might be gay. Although Henry’s initial behavior around Sam is insulting, Henry becomes a likeable character as he bonds with Sam and Thomas.
Even though Henry ends up not being gay, the writer might still explore the idea of his “overcompensation” regarding women. Consider further connecting this to the fact that he has long buried his true dreams. Also, there might be more to show why Henry finally realizes that Alice is a great woman.
Is the character arc well-rendered = 9
Be sure to give your lead character a strong arc illustrating how their journey has changed them internally from the beginning of the story to the end. These changes should be incremental, logical based on the character’s experiences, and illustrated through behavior. Giving your character a strong arc enhances the overall impact the story will have on the reader/audience.
Notes = Henry’s struggles are set up well and we see that he’s headed for an emotional upheaval. Although Henry sees the happy couples around him at the Gay Pride Parade, his consummation with Thomas seems a bit rushed. There should be a few more scenes before this that show Henry and Thomas bonding, and Henry feeling more comfortable overall with the idea of being gay. Some of these scenes could also help to show Henry building the courage to perform.
Vivid and distinctive supporting roles = 10
Notes = The writer does a good job of giving each supporting character a separate personality. It’s a nice surprise that Thomas works in the medical field with Sam, since this connects their two characters in career as well as friendship. Henry’s teammates also have distinct personalities, exemplified by their various reactions to one of their teammates, and perhaps Henry, possibly being gay. Kyle is intolerant from the start, while Tuna is more accepting, especially when he tells Henry “I don’t care, you know” (page 80). It’s a fitting turn of events that Tuna is the one who ends up coming out.
Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger (available here: http://tinyurl.com/segercharacters ).
Plot = 8
Rate how engaging or engrossing the overall concept is = 8
Rate how well defined the plotpoints and Act breaks are = 9
Act One, how well are the characters and conflicts set up = 9
Act Two, does tension mount? Is the midpoint effective = 8
Act Three, is the conclusion emotionally satisfying = 8
Screenplays should have 3 clear Act breaks with plotpoints that fall at specific intervals.
No matter what genre you’re working in, applying these techniques will help give your script a more engrossing overall dramatic arc. Recommended reading: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (available here: http://tinyurl.com/svthecat) or Story by Robert McKee (available here: http://tinyurl.com/storymckee ).
Notes = The writer does a good job of setting up the plot quickly and immediately grabbing interest. Henry and his teammates’ homophobia is well-conveyed in the brief opening scenes of the script. It’s endearing to see Henry become comfortable around Thomas and Sam. Although we are sad that Henry and Thomas do not end up together, it’s evident that the experience has made Henry a better person.
Although the writer shows that Henry strives to be “macho” in his baseball career, the threat of his being gay needs to produce more tension for his sports career. Some fans may be bothered, but there are many public figures who are “out” and still respected. The idea that Henry may be gay would be more suspenseful if he had a job where his anti-homosexual viewpoints are what make him popular or successful (such as a politician). Then Henry would really see how his opinions affect and hurt others. We aren’t suggesting changing his career, but find ways to up the tension around this issue in his profession, keeping in mind that audiences and fans are increasingly comfortable with (or at least less outwardly bothered by) gay celebrities.
On page 18, Henry becomes anxious when he realizes that he finds each of his teammates attractive while they’re exercising. It may push the bounds of believability that he would be aroused by every one of them. This makes it seem as though gay men have no particular preference or type, that they’re attracted to any man they see. It’d be better if Henry discovers himself staring at certain men, but not every man. It might even be funny to see which ones are a turn off to him.
Be careful to avoid a preachy tone. When Henry upsets Sam and Thomas by saying that he doesn’t “associate with that kind”, the subsequent scene between Henry and Thomas (pages 71-74) sounds too much like a “be true to yourself” lesson as opposed to a scene where Henry and Thomas continue to get to know each other. The second half of the scene is better when Henry expresses his desire to be on stage Try to rework the scene to focus more on this aspect as well as Henry’s apology.
There are two engaging subplots that might be further developed — Henry’s relationships with Alice and Hank. Since Alice ends up being Henry’s love interest, the writer could show a stronger bond between Henry and Alice in Acts Two and Three. Even though Henry is “temporarily gay”, there could still be flirtation and attraction between the two characters (or at least one-sided, on Alice’s part). Additionally, Henry and Hank’s entire relationship is over the telephone — it’s not clear whether this is because Hank doesn’t live nearby or because they simply are not emotionally close. But it’d be good to have at least one or two scenes where they address each other face to face.
Originality = 8
Author exhibits a fresh and original style = 8
Characters and situations are unique = 8
Author creates innovative visual imagery = 9
Rate the level of lasting impression the story leaves = 8
Notes = The idea that Henry comes to terms with homosexuality without actually being gay makes the plot original and engaging, because most scripts with similar storylines contain a protagonist who is gay. In this script, it’s nice that the writer shows it really doesn’t matter whether someone is gay or not — it’s tolerance that matters most. However, the script doesn’t break new ground regarding the script’s gay characters, since most of the scenes revolve around a drag club, a Gay Pride Parade, etc. To make the script stand out a bit more, why not have Sam and Thomas invite Henry to join them for a sports game or movie — something mundane that Henry already enjoys, which would surprise him.
Marketability = 9
The script has an easily defined hook (10 = yes, 1 = no) = 10
Script has potential to attract top talent to the roles = 9
Has a target audience = 8
Has potential in a particular market = 8
An excellent resource on this topic is Michael Hauge’s Writing Screenplays That Sell (available here: http://tinyurl.com/haugesell.
You might also be interested in a directory of Hollywood contacts that you can query once you’re ready to start marketing the script: http://www.3dollarhollywooddirectory.com/. )
Notes = The screenplay is easy to pitch and summarize, and comedies are always a marketable genre. Although the script is lighthearted, it does touch on some issues that could be a bit controversial — can someone be “temporarily” gay? This may bring up various debates about whether homosexuality is innate or can be altered, which an agent or producer might shy away from for a mainstream film. But the good-natured humor and style of the piece will likely overcome these qualms.
Thank you very much for sharing your screenplay with Script Savvy. We hope the feedback and recommended reading will be helpful in moving your work forward.
Writing Essentials = 9
Dialogue = 9
Characters = 9
Plot = 8
Originality = 8
Marketability = 9
TOTAL SCORE = 52