HomeScript ReviewsThe Circle - Avoiding Plot Pitfalls

The Circle – Avoiding Plot Pitfalls


An excerpt from my script review for The Circle which will be available 05/01/17:

2.) Plot Stability

Delivering on the premise.

A woman lands a dream job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, only to uncover a nefarious agenda that will affect the lives of her friends, family and that of humanity.

This is kind of what bugs me on some recent projects, even some of those on the Black List. The logline promises the moon that’s never properly developed in the story!

The above premise sounds good, right? It has the appeal we mentioned in the marketability section.

Unfortunately, the story starts out going the thriller route, but then Mae actually SUGGESTS the nefarious agenda that leads us into the second half of the story!

Before we get too far, one major flaw I had was I didn’t understand what The Circle actually did initially. Ty created some software or algorithm that’s a search engine?

Is the company more Google than Facebook then?

That then led to everyone having Circle Accounts? (Google’s pipe dream of having us all use Google+ instead of Facebook, like Bill Gates’s desire to topple Apple with The Zune?)

Okay, I’ll set that aside for the sake of the plot.

Essentially everyone has one account for EVERYTHING, right?

I’m sorry. How stupid is that? I mean, imagine if your banking, credit card, social security, etc. info was all stored on one account? That’d be a security NIGHTMARE!

There’s a reason sensitive shit like this should be separated out.

Sorry…the plot, right.

Okay, Mae goes to work for Goo…er, The Circle, and Tom Hanks in unveiling new satellite Go Pros (the first of many “too convenient” products consumers just accept), that are easily mounted anywhere and everywhere. Seems fun.

Anyone and everyone can access them too, completely linking the world! We all get to share in each others’ experiences! YAY!

Except, no. You wouldn’t legally be allowed to broadcast videos of people without first receiving their consent.

i.e. You couldn’t take one of the cameras and put it outside of your house for “bird watching” and just happen to catch the exact angle of your hot neighbor sunbathing by her pool, while also streaming it to the entire world.

See the legal issues that are just skipped over?

Oh, but we’ll do a bit of skipping of our own too!

What I liked initially was this whole “cult” setting for The Circle campus.

It was weird. People were too nice, your preferences and locations were tracked, and Mae felt uncomfortable with it…until she didn’t.

Your character can’t realistically do a 180 without some information earlier supporting that option.

Catching her stealing a kayak suddenly makes her okay with recording her entire life?

Mae is suddenly all “secrets are bad”?! No…not unless she presented evidence of that earlier on in the story.

(Like her being voyeuristic, and it causing problems with her family. Oh, and posting a picture of something on Face…er The Circle, isn’t voyeuristic enough.)

Bailey presents the idea of “closing the Circle” (i.e. making Mae a steroid injected Youtuber), and drinking the Kool-aid, Mae out of the blue has ZERO apprehensions about it.

It didn’t make sense.

Secrets are lies?” Who the fuck buys into that noise?

And a simple question brings the whole house of cards crashing down…

If Bailey was so PRO transparent, why wasn’t he, and the other wise men, the first ones to go?

But that rational question is never even asked…

Tip: Have characters ask these kinds of rational questions in your script AND give them rational reservations. It leads to conflict with other characters, which is what storytelling is all about.

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And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.


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