Hi all.

Today we’re taking a look at that fiend of the forum, CE Martin. If I remember correctly, CE comes over to us from novels, and by what’s he’s written here I’ll argue he knows how to craft a good story.

Mythical by Charles Martin

Two teens find the burnt corpse in the desert that turns out to be an undead super soldier. Can they help this soldier regain his memory and complete his mission from beyond the grave?

Script Pitch

Several friends are out in the desert on a motocross vacation.

They stumble upon a boat and a dead body, with a problem being the nearest body of water is twenty miles away.

A storm approaches and our characters head back to camp, but the downpour is absorbed by the corpse who regains life and stumbles into their camp.

After downing another cooler of water, it turns out this super soldier, Antaean, can’t die so our two main characters, Jimmy and Josie, attempt to help him figure out what happened.

The three take Jimmy’s truck back to the boat, to a gas station where they skirmish with two red necks, and finally the mall.

It’s here that Antaean remembers he’s a soldier on a secret mission, stalking a shape shifter before he can kill the vice president, who’s rumored to be a sure thing for president come the next election.

Walking away from the help of his old army colleagues, because he can’t be sure if the shape shifter infiltrated his old division, Antaean takes the kids with him in order to stop the shape shifter before it’s too late.

Away we go.

1.) Can we visualize the description?

Yes, but it’s a bit on the long side.

As I mention in most of my reviews, blocks of action/description should never be more than four lines long.

There were several cases in this script where they were five or more lines, and a simple solution is to just break them up.

A BETTER solution is to go back and eliminate things that aren’t needed.

Page 3:

Josie looks back to Antaean’s body, then jogs over to her
motorcycle. Jimmy hands her a helmet. Josie gets on her
motorcycle then puts it on. The group start up their
motorcycles and ride off. The rain is very heavy now.

Could easily be:

Rain pours.

Josie takes a last look at Antaean’s body, then puts on her helmet and rides after her friends.

Another long description at the bottom of page 19, but I did notice it elsewhere, so take a second look and fix it.

Remember, WHITE SPACE is a writer’s best friend as it keeps readers reading.

Another big problem right from page one:

6 motocross riders are racing their motorcycles through the
desert…

Should be:

Six motocross riders race through the desert.

No one ever “is doing” anything. They do them. And while we’re there, spell out numbers.

Page 2:

Josie’s gaze is interrupted by a splash of water on her cheek.

Should be:

A SPLASH of water interrupts Josie’s gaze. OR A SPLASH of water on her cheek breaks Josie’s concentration.

This was problem that occurred more than once, so go back through and change any present progressive to present tense.

Shape Shifter

I know we discussed this in the forums a bit, when you were asking for the proper way to do it, and I think finding that Terminator 2 script was right on.

I had no problem following Ketzkahtel as he shape shifted by doing the “Ketzkahtel/Cook” format. I wanted to let you know this, as it worked great.

The two biggest problems were stated above though, so go back through on a proofread, and see what else you can streamline to create more White Space.

5 out of 10 points.

2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?

Surprisingly, yes. I have to say, with some of the questions being asked by CE in the forum, I was a bit nervous this was going to be a rough one.

A few things did stick out though.

Numbering each scene before the scene heading. This isn’t needed and was a bit distracting.

Using the scene heading is fine, and numbering the scenes generally only happens once a script heads to production, and it wasn’t done properly anyway. (As long as you are under 110 pages and have a scene heading every couple of pages, you’re fine.)

One page 23 the director’s jargon just became too much. Stick to a plain description of the scene as if it were being looked at by an outsider.

Like I’ve said numerous times before, directors get to pick how we see your story, so unless you’re ponying up the millions of bucks it’d take to bring your story to the big screen, don’t step on his or her artistic toes.

Everything else was pretty on the mark though, and easy to follow.

OH, 94 pages? Beef that up a bit, to make this is a decent action film.

7 out of 10 points.

3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?

The dialogue was just okay.

There were parts in the script that had a lot of exposition.

Now I know Roy chants “Incluing!” But I wanted to see more of it. There’s a part in Jimmy’s truck (page 57-58) where they talk about Ghost Walkers and astral projection. Instead of talking about it, it’d be MUCH easier and exciting to see it happen. (Using the X-Men style astral projection, where forms appear as see through human forms is an easy way to do it.)

This is a MOVIE, and SEEING it is much better than HEARING about it.

More exposition should be drawn out in the form of a puzzle for Antaean on who he is. Beating up on the kids with martial arts, but wondering why he knows how to fight. Maybe he has a tattoo or a picture that leads them to the Korean War veteran.

Don’t drag it out, but don’t give it away instantly either. Make the characters work for the answers.

I noted early on page 5, the characters keep repeating Josie’s name as they talk. Leave this out. You want us to know the character’s names? Once is enough, whether it’s during an introduction to an undead soldier, or sternly scolding a character for not wanting to help.

Antaean’s character was decently defined, and I got he’s kind of a nice guy, but likes to tease. (I actually saw the Arnold being a perfect fit for his one liners.)

On Jimmy, I’d clean up his dialogue as he seems almost too big of a sissy in some places. I do however like how his concern for Josie shows through his hesitation.

Josie is alright, but her, “I want to help him” stuff seems too good to be true. She should have more questions initially, as the guy did just magically return to life.

It wasn’t horrible, and nothing really stood out as “on the nose” so the one tip I would give is to keep it economical.

If dialogue runs over two lines, question whether or not it can be cut back.

(BTW – Page 32, Josie has a line that’s absorbed some dialogue too.)

One last thing to note, the final fight scene between Antaean and Ketzkahtel should be broken up with some dialogue.

There’s literally three pages of description broken up by, “Mark!” That’s intimidating to read, so see where you can scale that back, or maybe put in a super villain monologue to break it up. (Just don’t overdo it.)

4 out of 10 points.

4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium chosen in which to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?

It’s definitely a movie. The action scenes, the shape shifting, and the really cool way Antaean comes back to life would all make for a worthy theater experience.

10 out of 10 points.

5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s ideas, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?

I like the world the author presents.

I’m reminded of Jordan’s Jurassic Park review, where he talked about magical realism. This story had that.

There’s magic in it, and even past super heroes, but it’s very close to our world.

The one thing I’d like to see, is more of that brought out into the story instead of just talking about it.

8 out of 10 points.

6.) Does the script have a hook?

One of Roy’s perfect “coming in late” type scenarios.

There’s a group of kids motocrossing out in a desert, but CE doesn’t waste a lot of time with it. He has them reach the top of a hill and look down to see…

A wrecked boat in the middle of a desert.

Not only is the boat wrecked, but there’s a dead body next to it, with two huge holes, one in the head and one in the chest.

Burnt weapons and ammo surround the body, giving us a “WTF?” feeling.

Aside from a few present progressive mistakes, it’s very well done.

15 out of 15 points.

7.) Is that hook effective?

The characters begin to debate on page 3 about what a boat is doing out in the middle of the desert.

Ultimately, it starts to rain and the kids willingly leave the body to the elements, except for one of our main characters, who feels a familiarity about the corpse, but ultimately follows her friends.

We’re then treated to a cool scene where the dead body absorbs the moisture in the rain and begins to regenerate itself, becoming the soldier Antaean.

The kids have a bit of exposition back at camp, as their relationships play out, then head to bed.

Antaean naturally observes their campfire and heads towards them, where he drinks more water and becomes uber buff.

The kids wake up and try to fight him, but he can’t be injured or hurt, so they agree to help Antaean with a bit of convincing from Josie.

All in all, it wasn’t bad, but the main problem is there’s too many characters. Any time spent on developing a relationship to a character that doesn’t show up later is a waste of a reader’s time and will only make them mad when there’s no pay off later.

I’d greatly suggest cutting the cast back here dramatically, and keep the action between Antaean, Josie, and Jimmy.

10 out of 15 points.

8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?

A lot of the structure was good. We had most of the plot points we look for in a story, but too much of it was either exposition or convenient for the writer.

The midpoint is good, where we find out Antaean was on his mission to stop Ketzkahtel, a shape shifter who wants to kill the Vice President.

Unfortunately he only talks about it while he, Josie, and Jimmy eat at a mall food court.

This, I’m assuming, is a super hero action movie. So a big opportunity was missed for action here.

I understand the need for the flashback, to describe how Antaean came to be, but you need to introduce him in the present time, and do it early.

It’d be MUCH better if Ketkahtel comes to find Antaean in the mall or something similar, and is trying to kill him, but Antaean can’t remember why.

Him crashing into a chinese quick serve in the food court, then having the dragon sign fall on him, MUCH better way to have his memory suddenly jogged then to just have him look at it.

I already mentioned the ghost walkers too, and a great way to keep us in the dark is to have our group of three run from both the ghostwalkers/telepaths AND Ketzkahtel, so we’re not sure who’s good and bad.

The other thing is I think there was a missed opportunity to develop the Jimmy loves Josie story (or B story). You laid the groundwork for it, and it would have worked, but it was abandoned until the end when it was too late.

By the way, Jimmy CAN’T die. At least not in the manner you left him. He needs a heroic moment if you’re going to do this to really have the maximum effect. You gave us a soap opera death, where we don’t see him die, nor do we see him being put in the grave. In Hollywood that means he’s not dead. (I know Antaean references this fact for a sequel, but you have to treat this like a contained movie. Sell the spec script first, then you sell the sequel.)

I LOVED the idea that Jimmy and Josie were supposed to be safe with the Secret Service agents, but essentially were delivered right into the hands of Ketzkahtel. This sort of idea of having the EXACT opposite happen from what’s supposed to keeps us on the edge of our seats, so good job there.

Last point I’ll make is the ending. It stinks. A HUGE epic battle for the main villain to just get away. People will NOT like it, especially since you more or less take the easy way out to make way for a sequel after several pages of intense fighting.

There needs to be some way for Antaean to win, like perhaps Ketzkahtel can only die in his most powerful form, the dragon.

Not sure how this would work or come out, but there needs to be a better sense of closure instead of, “I’ll get him eventually.”

Know when to get out. It’s better to end your story early leaving people wanting more, then end it late, and they walk out, more concerned with going to the bathroom.

3 out of 10 points.

9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?

Starting off, too many characters initially. We have 3 jocks that basically just stand around, and can be morphed into one person.

On top of that, they’re all closely named with a Josie, a Jimmy, and even a James. (Same as Sunday’s review, the author got his own characters confused and used Joey instead of Josie on page 41.)

I’d REALLY argue to cut these down into just Josie and Jimmy. Jimmy likes Josie, and it’s untold whether she returns his feelings. This should be played up, and creates more tension if the two of them are on the trip alone.

Since the initial group leaves, and it’s unclear whether they report to the cops or not, they’re unimportant, so drop them and play to the strengths of your story.

Maybe even have Jimmy steal Antaean’s necklace or something, and Antaean takes it back during the water scene in a way that embarrasses Jimmy.

The same can be said for all the agents at the end of the story. If an agent doesn’t have dialogue (or important dialogue) keep it Agent 1, Agent 2, etc. Only name the important ones, like the two in the elevator with Josie and Jimmy.

How was Antaean familiar to Josie? That was never answered. She was a relative of Ketzkahtel, fine, but that doesn’t instantly translate into knowing Antaean. The ball was dropped here.

There was a convenience plot point where Antaean knew Ketzkahtel would be a secret service agent. How did he know this, other than he just does?

Page 78 there was a problem, in that Josie and Jimmy are in the custody of the secret service, and the elevator door opens with them fleeing into the arms of two more secret service agents. WHY would the agents outside the door aim at the other agents and not the kids running from them?

These kind of problems were present in the script and are missed opportunities for more conflict.

Also, WHY did you just let Antaean and the kids walk away in the mall? That was a HUGE cop out. Sure he outranks the Major, but doesn’t having amnesia make one “unfit for service” and essentially take rank away? CE, you should have done more with this.

To make it more believable, make the army want to get Antaean back before Ketzkahtel kills him. Sure, they can’t kill him, but Ketzkahtel can, and that’s a big problem assuming they just lost an entire squad to the shape shifter.

Similar to question 8 though, there was a framework in place to keep this moving, and appeal to a majority of moviegoers, they’d just come out scratching their heads on why CE took it so easy on his characters.

4 out of 10 points.

Conclusion

Sure there are some structure and formatting errors, but overall the story is a good one with a solid premise.

A few of the areas that need to be cleaned up are focusing on the main story, and making it as hard as possible for Antaean to remember what his mission is, and then making it even more challenging for him to complete it.

A lot of the initial characters should be dropped also so we’re only presented with the ones important to the story.

The structure is in place, and I’d argue CE is a story teller that can cross the finish line, he’ll just need to make sure he does it by including a few more screenwriting beats, and do it without us realizing it.

Total 66 out of 100 points.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the review- much better than I feared.

    I really appreciate the perspective- it’s hard to write something like this when I have a sequel so firmly planned out. I’ll note that originally I wanted to do a screenplay about Antaean, no kids, and the mission. But it was just too short. So I incorporated the amnesia, ressurection angle to mix it up and give me a full length story. But then I had too much and wanted to save a lot of it for a sequel.

    I FINALLY get the tense thing. You explained it masterfully. I now know how to fix that.

    The scene numbering… I’m confused. Should I have no Act or Scene breaks anywhere?

    I think you’re spot on on the twists. Way too many for this. I think I’ll just cut out the Josie-is related thing and save it for the sequel.

    Yes, I gave Jimmy soap opera death. Originally I had an epilogue scene where you see him basically put in suspended animation and saved for a sequel. It just made the whole thing too unwieldy so I axed it.

    My sequel plan also involves the shapeshifter getting away and coming back for revenge with a twin brother/shapeshifter. I suppose in the interests of a more satisfying ending I can just kill the shapeshifter here and figure out how to bring the brother along in the sequel.

    94 pages is too short? Zoinks. I was really trying not to turn this into one of those long, boring, 2 hourish movies. There’s plenty I can add in.

    You want more superheroes? You got them. I had a whole sequence in mind I chopped for brevity’s sake.

    You didn’t like the Mall? I thought it was a clever twist on all the countless Mall scenes we get that erupt in action hero violence. Here, the hero doesn’t have to put people in the hospital- the folks trying to secure him know how dangerous he is, so he just bullies his way out. I figured no audience would see that coming- they’d EXPECT a huge fight. Didn’t work, hunh. Rats. I guess it’s time to hurt some people.

    Axing the four jocks would probably speed things up a bit. Wish I’d gotten that little nugget of advice BEFORE I started novelizing this. I also liked the implication of Josie’s oddness. One chick hanging out with five guys. (Remember the stun gun in the mall)

    I was also wondering about the final fight scene. I suppose I could work in some cheesy, 80s-ish Ahnold dialog between the combatants as they fight. That was my original idea but I thought it was too cheesy.

    Finally- do you want to see Jimmy die? I mean, I could easily work that in- even let Josie see him get his heart ripped out. I liked the what-happened-to-jimmy aspect, so I could spring it on the audience once the dust had all settled.

    Thanks for the review- it definitely helps. A lot. Screenplays are easier to write in one respect, but they don’t you narratively explain aspects of the story like a book can.

    I’ll polish this up this weekend and put up a new version with your suggestions in mind.

    Thank you very much!

    • CE,

      You’re very welcome, and thanks for writing a cool story.

      I don’t want to see Jimmy die, so much as I want to see him mortally wounded, but Josie’s called away to help Antaean kill what hurt Jimmy. This gives us extra tension, and then you can have your body bag moment. (It’s also loose enough that we wonder, “Is Jimmy dead or isn’t he?”) Leaving him in the elevator then saying he’s dead was too much of a , “WHAAA?!” moment.

      Don’t think CHEESY dialogue, think GOOD dialogue. Something that fits the scene and Ketzkahtel’s character WHILE ALSO breaking up that wall of text.

      94 pages isn’t bad, but with an action movie carrying it to 110 is better.

      Remember anything you add (like extra super heroes or fight scenes) MUST fit your story, and not just feel like it was added for the sake of beefing up the page length.

      As for the sequel, make sure to give this story a definite ending before trying to continue it. (Think of all those Bond and Indiana Jones movies you mention in the forums. They all have a satisfying ending while leaving us yearning for more.)

  2. “Page 78 there was a problem, in that Josie and Jimmy are in the custody of the secret service, and the elevator door opens with them fleeing into the arms of two more secret service agents. WHY would the agents outside the door aim at the other agents and not the kids running from them?”

    Uh… there were two dead agents laying in the elevator and the shapeshifter was covered in blood. I need to rework that scene description, I guess.

  3. Thanks, Hank- I really appreciate your input.

    I already have plotted out the repairs- lengthening it. There will be more action at the mall.

    The ending will be an ending with the dragon shapeshifter DEAD. I think you’ll enjoy it. Hell, now that I thought of a better, more finale ending (that doesn’t preclude a sequel) I like it a LOT better. Thank you! Now to get through the rest of the workday then go home and write this sucker up!!!

  4. You’re wrong about present progressive. There’s a reason it exists in English, and occasions when it’s appropriate in screenwriting. Your suggestion fundamentally changes the nature of the action.

    Simple present implies a completed action; present progressive/continuous obviously does not.

    For example, compare:

    Claire washes the dishes.

    The doorbell rings.

    with:

    Claire is washing the dishes.

    The doorbell rings.

    In the first, Claire has washed the dishes; they’re done when the doorbell rings. In the second, the doorbell rings while Claire is washing the dishes.

    But don’t take my word for it.

    • Atlas,

      First off, welcome to the forum and thanks for joining the discussion. (Your link to Mr. August’s site is actually a great preview into Roy’s review of one of his scripts for tomorrow.)

      As with all of our reviews, we invite readers to review a script and tell us where we got it wrong.

      I’m sure CE would very much like for you to point out where he got it right, especially on the present progressive.

      • I didn’t know there was a link to the script on the forum. Might be helpful to put that at the top or bottom of a review.

        • Mine are always at the beginning of my reviews (check the top). It’s Roy’s you gotta hunt for, but that’s how he gets people to read them all.

          • You’re right, the link is just in a dark blue that doesn’t stand out on my laptop’s screen.

    • Simple present implies a completed action? Interesting… Is this how it’s done in screenwriting? I didn’t know…

      I mean, technically even the present perfect aspect in English does not imply a completed action…

      See, this is the stuff I need to know lol…

        • Yeah, I think there is some implication from the way the inital statements were phrased that the present can imply the past. I think Mr August is making a vanishing point here:

          “But what I like about present progressive in this case is that it implies that he’s been doing this for a while, and that he’s not completing the action in this moment. Consider the difference between these two sentences:

          Mary is cutting coupons.

          Mary cuts coupons.

          With the second one, you get the sense she might have put the scissors back in the drawer and moved on to something else. Or that her coupon-cutting is something she routinely does, perhaps as a character trait. (“Well, you know Mary. She cuts coupons.”)”

          The key is the “not completing the action in this moment”. While there is a way to interpret the sentence– Mary cuts coupons– as meaning: Mary, exactly in this moment, just finished cutting coupons, I don’t think you get there in just those three words. The story has to be longer than just– Mary cuts coupons.

          More like:

          Mary cuts coupons, until the doorbell rings.

          For sure, the present would have to work really hard to just imply the past. I have to say, I would be very interested to see how that kind of sentence looked.

      • Absolutely. Simple present tense denotes an action that is complete at end of the sentence. That’s how screenwriting works.

        Jeff opens the door.

        Is the door open at the end of the sentence? Yep. So the action of opening the door is complete.

        • So, you mean to be talking about the individual “lengths” of the actions of the verbs themselves?

          I don’t think you should be that sweeping, with the present tense– even when confining youself to the craft of screenwriting. Some verbs have short lengths, others don’t. It can’t be true that every action in a present tense construction ends with the period. No one would ever move forward in the story.

          Jeff aims at the robber.

          Unloads all six chambers. The robber hits the floor.

          Under that interpretation of the present tense in screenwriting, we’d know that something other than Jeff’s shooting at the robber killed him because Jeff stopped aiming before he started firing.

          Opens is, however, a great example of a short-length verb. As are: shoots, explodes, drops, and countless others within which the entire action of the verb is completed in a small period of time. (In other words, much much less than the time used up in a standard three minute scene.)

          For the record, though, I don’t think washes dishes or cuts coupons, are examples of these “short-length” types of verbs. These are actions which (in the real world) usually occupy the length of time of a standard scene in a film. It would be, I think, normal for the reader to assume that the action of “washes dishes” and “cuts coupons” continues until it is replaced by another action in the description.

          For sure, though, a door is open after it opens, that is true 🙂

          • You’re conflating the act of aiming with the act of maintaining the position of the gun. The action of aiming the gun is complete at the end of the sentence because he moves the gun from not-pointing-at-the-robbers to pointing-at-the-robbers. After he aims, the gun is aimed. After that, it’s maintenance of position, which is understood by the reader since no repositioning is mentioned.

            “It would be, I think, normal for the reader to assume that the action of “washes dishes” and “cuts coupons” continues until it is replaced by another action in the description.”

            You’re welcome to disagree with both me and August and write as you wish, but I think you should be prepared for some confused readers if you do.

        • I can see though how some verbs would denote a longer action.

          Woman cuts coupons.

          Daughter enters from the stairs.

          In my mind the woman would still be cutting coupons, but hey, if that’s how they do it…

          Among linguists there’s a saying that “Language is going to the dogs.” This feeling is shared primarily amongst the prescriptive grammarians. Interestingly enough, most linguists are
          descriptive grammarians. They only care to see how language evolves and try to keep up,
          rather that trying to shore up the tide of people “speaking incorrectly” and “ruining it.”

          Is this feature of screenwriting so important that it must be prescribed uniformly in every
          instance? Is it a top down feature? Would every expert in screenwriting tell me the same thing?

          I’m not ‘challenging’ you or your knowledge. It’s just a question intended for interesting conversation…

  5. Atlas,

    Just read Mr. August’s discussion, and I like what he “is saying”, lol.

    I won’t count myself a grammarian, but the subject does interest me. Especially, what we mean by certain grammatical constructions.

    Most of the time you can avoid present progressive by joing the two verbs in question around an adverbial clause as in:

    Claire washes the dishes, as the doorbell rings. Or, while, or when, or even, then, the doorbell rings– depending on what you want to emphasize in the simultaneous actions.

    There are times when putting something in the present progressive obscures the meaning of what you’ve written. Mr August uses the example:

    Mary is cutting coupons. Vs. Mary cuts coupons.

    He argues the second carries with it the sense that Mary may no longer be cutting coupons.

    But, if I say: Mary walks down the street.

    There is nothing in that construction which implies that she ever stopped walking. We might forecast, in our minds, out to the end of this proverbial street, and imagine Mary stopped. But, in the sentence as written, Mary will always be walking.

    So, in the sentence Mary cuts coupons, I’d argue that, if that sentence were all there were to the story, Mary would always be cutting an infinite supply of coupons. Even though we forecast ahead that the limited time we expect the coupon cutting to take, means she may very well already have finished, we’d better serve the meaning of her story by imagining an imposing stack of newspapers, in my opinion.

    I do think your example does get at a time when the present progressive is appropriate. If one were to try and translate the grammatical construction “is + ing” into another language which did not come with the convenience of present progressive, you’d have to use something like, continually. In other words:

    Claire continually washes dishes.

    The doorbell rings.

    That’s a tortured way of writing for sure.

    In general, we don’t bother pointing out the present progressive unless it’s overbearing.

    Would love to hear your take on this, as it’s rare that anyone is willing to talk grammar 🙂

    (Also, I believe in Hank’s discussion one passive voice construction seems to be labeled as a present progressive.)

    • “(Also, I believe in Hank’s discussion one passive voice construction seems to be labeled as a present progressive.)”

      Always with the nitpicking…

  6. Hank, Roy, after your very helpful review this morning, I plotted out what needed fixin, came home and hammered it out. I absolutely love the new ending. Thank you for that- I wasn’t happy with the old one. I think may have also packed in a more emotional bit. Also, cause Hank demanded it, I worked in some magic, an ex-superhero for my hero, Antaean, to fight with. I did keep three of my four extraneous opening characters, cause I just liked that bit. But I gave them an additional scene.

    I regretably did not break the 100 page barrier. But I really believe any other inserted scenes would be padding.

    Thanks so much for your help- not only do I now have a better script, but now I’ll have a better book as I work on the novelization to put up on Amazon’s Kindle Publishing site.

  7. “You’re conflating the act of aiming with the act of maintaining the position of the gun.”

    There is a degree of semantic hair-splitting there that is beyond my ken 🙂

    All we ever meant was to be careful with overusing the present progressive. That still seems like good advice. And, as my review of Big Fish, I think, makes clear– John August is not someone to disagree with on the subject of screenwriting.

    About the present implying the past in screenplays, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    • “…gives his blessing to this monumentally silly discussion.”

      I enjoyed the discussion for most of its “length”. We were getting close to things that I think are cool to talk about. Like how, when pointing at a collection of objects and saying “that thing there”, most every time the “that thing there” is understood correctly by the hearer.

  8. This is not a discussion of grammar, it is a discussion of usage. Moreover, it is a discussion of usage within screenplays. Narrow? I don’t know, do you have a micrometer handy?

    I am very interested in screenwriting, and very serious about it. But I have not succumbed to the delusion that it is some sort of venerable literary tradition. Frankly there are no rules, and the conventions are barely established.

    These kind of minute considerations can be profitably discussed. But this particular script has more global issues. This particular discussion lacks perspective.

    Finally, the citation of John August’s popular blog as if it was an authority on these issues is beyond absurd. As someone who has worked as an editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, I am actually offended by that level of superficiality and, frankly, laziness, among writers.

    • So did you read this script? What were your thoughts on what I said?

      (And don’t pick on Roy for thinking grammar is cool. He butt dialed me once, and he and his wife must have been going at it, cause his voice was all throaty saying, “Conjugate that verb for me, baby…CONJUGATE IT!”)

    • I didn’t cite August’s blog as an authority on grammar or English–just what is acceptable usage in screenwriting. I don’t think that’s controversial to the slightest degree; certainly it’s not “beyond absurd.” In fact, what’s absurd is the declaration that linking to an A-list professional screenwriter’s discussion of the exact issue in question as it relates to screenwriting is absurd.

      Do you have an actual point of contention with what August said, or are you just being a snob? (Judging from the pointless name-dropping of the OED, I bet on snob.)

      It’s curious that you find this discussion “monumentally silly” yet you seem unable to restrain yourself from joining it–or, rather, commenting on it, since you haven’t actually contributed anything of value or interest.

      • Hey Atlas you are right. My tone was rude, sorry about that.

        I am really not snobby at all, with the possible exception of frequently.

  9. I am a veritable grammar geek. Semantics, syntax, philology, etymology. I think feminine names with a lot of vowels are sexy, and, sadly, I am not even joking about that.

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