The Review is IN

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.

Recommended reading:
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 ).
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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

NOT a good way to start the day

Dear Linda,

We are getting ready to announce the July Contest results on the website, but before we do I wanted to give you an update on your feedback.

All scripts for July have been read and judged, but we are still in the process of combining, proofing, and sending feedback. We hope to finish this process within a week.

As you may know, we experienced some staff turnover last month that resulted in getting behind schedule for June. Once we fall behind, it is very difficult to catch up since there are no breaks between each contest. But rest assured we are doing everything we can to get caught up for this month and onward.

We sincerely apologize for the delay, and are working very hard to get your feedback to you as soon as possible. Your patience and understanding is truly appreciated.

Your participation in the contest is very valuable to us and we want to return quality feedback that will truly be of help to you. Please bear with us as we work through this challenging time.

Sincerely,
Donna White, Coordinator

www.ScriptSavvy.net

HERE’S AN IDEA – let’s not wait until the deadline PASSES and then say “Oh by the way, we’re not gonna make the SECOND deadline that we promised you after we missed the first one. Our bad.”

They did announce the winners. I’m not one of them. I’m not surprised. But I am shocked at how hard this hit me. I haven’t been thinking too much about this review, but I guess I was more stressed out it than I thought. And I believed them when they said they would meet this deadline. I was very keyed up and stressed out when I got out of bed at 5am because, good or bad, I EXPECTED MY REVIEW.

Finding out I DIDN’T WIN and not getting the feedback makes me more scared than ever. I already sent this script – without paying the extra feedback fee, last year and I didn’t win then, so I shouldn’t be suprised. I’m not surprised. But it still hurts.

This contest is monthly one and usually has 150 -175 submissions with 4 winners.

Suddenly, all the doubts and anxieties come slamming back.

If I can’t beat 175 writers, how will I ever beat the 50,000 other writers who register scripts with the WGA every year?

Only another Wannabe can truly understand how I feel right now. Too bad I don’t know any.

The Scary Part of Writing

Getting reviews is no doubt the scariest part of being a writer, at least for me. The main reason I started this support group for Wannabes is to have other Wannabes share their experiences on the rough road to success, like facing scary reviews of the work that they slaved over.

Sadly, no one is doing this.

The message boards were designed for actors to post about auditions they go on – vent went they don’t go well and celebrate when they do. Musicians could post about their frustrations in not getting good gigs and brag when they finally get a good one. Other writers were supposed to write about their own experiences with getting reviews.

The idea was for me to reach out to other Wannabes to find out I’m not alone in this.

Turns out, I guess I am alone. Of course, there must be thousands of people going through what I’m going through. I just can’t find them. I don’t know where you all are. I’ve gotten hundreds of comments on my blogs so far. ALL of them, save for less than 5, are spam. This is hard for me to accept, because it’s just another form of rejection.

I’m expecting to get one review on my script this week – possibly two. It’s times like this that I really wish I knew someone – anyone –even a stranger – who really, truly understand how hard it is to wait for a review. This review will come from a contest called Script Savvy. This is a script I wrote about two years or so ago. It went through many reviews back then, but I’m sending it for another review now because I plan to write the same story as a novel when I finish the current script I’m working on.

The script – called QUEEN HENRY- is my very favorite. I feel it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. I’ve written about the script on my blog before – it got HORRIBLE reviews at first and I worked on it until it was good enough to be a Finalist in a small contest in 2007. It’s one of the few scripts that makes me feel good every time I go back to read it. I’m proud of it. I just have this gut feeling when I read it – this one is good.

Which is what makes it so hard went it doesn’t get a good review. The most recent draft has gotten mixed reviews – it was a Finalist in one contest. A producer was not impressed, saying it didn’t “dazzle” him. Another contest reviewer said it should have been a drama. It’s gay-themed, and he felt it should be written as a serious issue. He actually said it was not something to make light of.

I’ll repeat that, people. He said I should not make light of the issue of being gay….

Seriously, if it’s one group of people who know how to poke fun of themselves and their own struggle – it’s gay people!! Jewish people, too, for that matter.

Anyway, after not sending the script out for years, I entered it in a contest – reviews to be sent out Tuesday, August 31. Then on Friday, August 27, I get this email from a production company, out of the blue:

“I received a query letter from you a few years ago regarding QUEEN HENRY and for some reason, I couldn’t throw it away. To be fair, I don’t think there’s even a slight chance that I will get the film made, but I’m still interested in reading the screenplay as a writing sample.”

Odd, to say the least. Does he mean he personally does not have the power to make the film because he works in the mailroom? Or does he mean, given the subject matter, he doubts he could get it made? I did once have a producer chastise me for writing something like this because it is no longer “relevant”. He asked if I had a gay son or something, because he said no one cares if you’re gay anymore…

This man probably lives two streets away from San Francisco and has not watched the news for the last decade, given the white-hot button issue of gay marriage and DADT, and the fact that the entire country is split down the middle when it comes to gays…

Sorry for the rant (says the blog writer to the gaping, empty hole in cyberspace…though I will give a shout-out to the two people I know who read the blog – Hi Debbie and Zann!!!), but as you can see, reviews of Queen Henry have been all over the map. It just figures that, after all these years of no reviews on the script, on the one week that I’m expecting a contest review, a production company pops out of the woodwork asking for the damn thing.

This could be an exciting week or a hell of a downer. Either way, I will tell you the truth about the reviews. Stay tuned.