HomeScript ReviewsSunday Spotlight - Hank's Review of First 15 of The Playground

Sunday Spotlight – Hank’s Review of First 15 of The Playground


Hi all.

You’ve read Roy’s review of Brad’s first 15 revised pages, so thanks for coming over to mine.

Keep in mind we haven’t really discussed this, so hopefully we’re not at polar opposites on the review.

(This should be intresting, and scary for ROy as he’s convinced I’ll contradict everything he says.)

Part One: The Writing (Is every word a conscious choice?)

Let’s be clear. This is definitely a Roy section. I will try to answer these first few questions as best as I can, but know I’m playing out of my league.

A.) Are there zero typos?

I think I noticed three typos, tops. (He’s lenient on unfilmables, I’m lenient on typos.)

One missed period.

One case of “was was.”

And the last one I didn’t write down. (I forgot I was supposed to be keeping track.)

8 out of 10 points.

B.) Are there zero grammatical errors?

Again, I’m not as big a grammar fan as the Royster, but I did notice this little nugget.

Page 7:

Aven, however, was was fixated on the woman next to Mr.

I believe it’s the passive past tense (that sounds silly, so Walker or Roy correct me if I’m wrong), but it comes off weird.

Should be:

Aven fixates/stares at the woman next to Mr. Scott.

I might even argue that it could be “is captivated by” as that would give it more oomph. Although he can’t captivate, but I guess she could.

9 out of 10 points.

C.) Are there compelling sentence constructions?

Roy, we need to find new questions for me, as I don’t have a clue what this means. (And must have glanced over it when I read the questions initially.)

Good news for Brad though, since this version was much faster than the original I read.

10 out of 10 points.

Part Two: The Dialogue (Does it “sound” natural?)

A.) Is there as little exposition as possible?

This was good.

I think the brief bit of exposition was right at the end, where Elle is explaining how her husband died.

Another bit was when Clara sits down to lunch with Aven.

Neither of which was too much, and both cases are crucial to the plot.

10 out of 10 points.

B.) Does the script set up the individual voices of the characters? Verbal tics, etc…

Elle – Enjoys life, which contrasts to her brother, although she may be putting up a front.

Aven – A bit of a downer, who obviously misses his brother-in-law, and is scared of life.

Clara – Similar to Elle, but not quite there yet. She’s trying to figure out how to get the most out of life. (And will Aven be a part of that?)

So far, so good. And I like how the kids don’t really speak unless spoken to. (You can always tell a Milford Man.)

10 out of 10 points.

C.) Are opportunities being sewn in to the characters for subtext later in the script?

The main thing I noticed, which came out on page 15 was the whole Henry situation. That will probably be important.

Then the other important subtext is going to be the romance between Clara and Aven.

10 out of 10 points.

Part Three: The Story (Is it interesting?)

A.) Is the groundwork being laid for future reveals?

Like I said above, obviously Clara and Aven are going to get together, or try to…

Also, with Aven doing all the drawings, he’s going to come out of his shell (or be forced to).

Remember grandpa? The flying E? Magic!!!

There was good stuff here, but not A LOT of it. That’s VERY important.

We don’t want to FRONTLOAD our scripts, trying to see what sticks. Everything flows nicely, and I wasn’t hit with sensory overload.

10 out of 10 points.

B.) By page 15, do we know what the engine will be?

Yes, but here (and I mentioned this to Brad early on) I think we need to get to it.

Now Brad did a better job in this version than the one I initially read, but I think we need to get to Aven being a party pooper sooner.

I’m not a fan of the wasted scene of Aven telling Elle, “I met a girl.”

This serves no purpose, since we already know he likes her from a previous scene.

It’d be much better to have Clara come to dinner, probably even inviting herself. This way Elle’s caught a bit off guard (conflict?), and we can get to the “Aven killed Henry” bit sooner and completely before page 15.

(Or actually not get to it yet at all, see part D.)

5 out of 10 points.

C.) Does the engine make sense given the protagonist’s flaw? In other words, will the protagonist have an arc?

Yes. Aven is afraid of life.

His cubicle is lifeless despite him being there for three years.

He doesn’t go out.

He bears his sister’s awful cooking since it limits him to a world of safety.

All in all he’s self punishing due to Henry’s death, and it gives us a great starting point for him to change. (Despite some of our readers thinking arcs aren’t importnat.)

10 out of 10 points.

D.) Is there a specific inciting incident (catalyst) by page 15?

Now that I’m forced to answer this question, no.

We find out on page 15 that he’s the reason his sister is a widow, and she doesn’t fault him for it, but does that force him into a new world?

No, it doesn’t.

As I mentioned above, perhaps this bit can wait until later, and page 15 would be better spent with what’s going to start us on Aven’s journey.

I’ll be interested to see what Roy says about this when I finish, but for me I can’t agree that his falling asleep at the wheel (remember his dream and the picture?) is a true inciting incident.

1 out of 10 points.


MUCH better job on these first 15 pages.

I actually like Aven as a character, and although I think he’s a bit of a sissy, I’m looking forward for a chance at redemption.

There’s also a bit of magic set up that lets me know more’s to come.

Good job, Brad.

Total 83 out of 100 points.

PS – I apologize for any typos myself, as Spell Check seems to be broke on Word as I typed this.

Hank’s Typing Skills

5 out of 10 points.

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  1. It is really lamentable that there are so few comments so far, especially because a comparison of the two drafts clearly shows how valuable this exercise can be.

    By focusing on the real world story and just teasing the magic, the author has transformed the script. I actually think the first 15 could still be improved, but this version feels like a script that actually might sell.

    So Brad is getting a great rewrite, and Hank and Roy are proving that this kind of workshop concept is effective. But why should other writers take an interest? Well, personally I find it refreshing and helpful to be able to consider some of these nuts and bolts screenwriting issues without regard to my own stupid shit script.I mean, I’ve been slogging through The Usual Suspects 3 for years now.

    Anyway, that is admittedly beside the point, so I will offer something concrete: a joke.

    Hank rightly notes that haunted Aven is a little distant, even to the audience. At the bottom of page 8 there is the following exchange:

    He points back to the cubicle he is standing in. Clara looks
    into the cubicle.

    Are you new, too?

    I’ve been here three years.

    Three years? It looks like a jail

    Kind of is.

    That is a little on the nose, thematically, and also makes Aven seem a little mopey. Maybe if Brad went with something like:

    Three years? It looks like a jail

    Yeah, well, except for the possibility of parole.

    He could evince a sense of humor (to attract Clara, this is their first meeting) while still reinforcing his underlying sadness.

    Just a suggestion.

    Anybody get the concrete joke thing?

    • “It is really lamentable that there are so few comments so far, especially because a comparison of the two drafts clearly shows how valuable this exercise can be.”

      Meh, it’s my review. I’m used to Roy getting the spotlight.

      “But why should other writers take an interest?”

      Because if this process works we’ll definitely be looking for other scripts to use to repeat it. Also, it’s rumored that if Hank and Roy ever start a paid notes service they may be using these same questions.

  2. walker,

    That one revision to the dialogue improves Aven’s entire character dramatically. Excellent notes, sir.

    Thank you.


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