An excerpt from my script review for Searching (2018) which will be available 06/03/19:

2.) Plot Stability

From the get go we’re thrown into the “computer style” that plays out like an early 90s live action PC game.

(Outside Xbox recently did a few videos on these.)

What I didn’t like was the writers went a long way to get us to Pam’s death during the intro. Part of me was okay with it, because I felt like I knew her a little and felt sad, but another part of me was annoyed that they used up a decent amount of pages for a setup to a classic Disney film.

And again, it was difficult to mentally picture all of this action on the computer screen, especially wondering why so many people were Facetiming instead of just calling.

(No one in this universe had a Samsung phone? How did they handle that?!)

But at page 21, we get Margot calling 3 times to a zoned out David…and are told something’s off.

Please don’t do this. If you need to spell it out this directly for your reader you’re probably not doing your job.

Or, and in this case, if you are you’ve just given us irritatingly redundant information.

The rest of the plot does a good job of setting up the mystery…

Margot vanishes with only $2,500. She doesn’t have any real friends. She has this mysterious online life David doesn’t know exists. And lastly, has had secret rendezvous with Uncle Peter.

Everyone is a suspect. No one is a suspect. She’s either dead…or ran away!

We’re unsure, and that’s not a bad thing.


Telegraphing the Twist

In youth sports there’s a saying, “Don’t telegraph the pass.” It refers to the idea that little kids will usually look directly at the person they’re passing a ball to.

This is a topic we’ve covered before, but it can greatly affect your story (usually by ruining it) if you’re not careful.


Page 73:

What did you do after? Once you
found out.

Vick thinks about it. Then-

I told the neighbor that I founded
the charity and thanked her for the
money. It’s ‘,’
by the way.

Those few lines right there concluded a story BUT told me exactly what happened to Margot and why Vick was helping.

You should never ever spell something out like this, and may only include similar entries if you’re going to make your main character smart enough to catch it AND give us multiple supporting roles where characters have similar entries.

This way we’re curious about each and every lead and we’ll need to track them down.

By having Vick state the above, I knew her son’s name is Marvin (someone David calls initially) and that he went to middle school with Margot and had a crush on her there.

And this is from an objective observer, not a man who thinks his daughter was kidnapped.

NOTE – Margot’s fate did surprise me however.

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