An excerpt from my script review for The Tax Collector which will be available 08/24/20:
2.) Plot Stability
The idea we’re going to focus on here is the importance of getting to the “good stuff”.
There was too much time spent setting up Michael’s life at home to later contrast what was going to happen in the second half of the story.
That is an important contrast to highlight, but the key word there is “highlight” not “focus”.
Knowing nothing going in, I hit page 9 and was confused as to what this story was even about, since all we’re given is internal family drama while discussing a girl’s Quinceanera.
And aside from a throwaway line about the sister-in-law’s bad blind date, it’s kind of boring.
We don’t get any subtext until around page 13 when Michael’s talking with his sensei who insists “he’s happy here” leading us to believe there’s a history he’s not sharing.
This part is good, but it’s more and more subtext dripped out in an extremely short script at only 90 pages (not counting the cover page).
The interesting part of the story is when Conejo shows up, threatening the Wizard’s control over Los Angeles.
This conflict doesn’t officially kick off until around page 60, when Conejo delivers Michael his uncle’s severed head.
That leaves us only thirty pages for the main conflict of the script!
So instead of a well drawn story, we get quick skirmishes where people just die, and quickly for the sake of page count.
Creeper, this badass soldier who is described as unstoppable?
Captured and hammered a few times before having his head stomped in.
Not to mention the scene prior to that where Michael assembles his “army” of hardened soldiers from the armed forces…who are instantly gunned down by Conejo’s men in under half a page.
And those same soldiers who did the previously mentioned gunning? They’re taken out by these random gang members Michael assembles later. Another “less than a page” bit of action.
(However we are treated to this overly drawn out fight sequence between Conejo and Michael…after Gata is eliminated with a mere two bullets.)
The lesson to take away from this is properly formulate your story.
Understand what the main draw is, and make sure to accommodate for that with a deserved portion of your page count.
You’ll inevitably need to establish your world early on, just don’t focus too much of your time doing so, and if possible include hints that make us curious for what comes later.
Being that you’re probably not David Ayer, you can’t assume half-assing your ending will be enough to get an option or purchase on your project.
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