An excerpt from Reals’ script review for Harrow Alley which will be available 03/16/18:
What Needs Work
— Wow. HUGE chunks of text. I realize this was written at a different time, but steer clear of this in your own writing because I got a headache just looking at some of the pages.
— Pg. 1 – It would have been nice with a scene heading to signal what time period this story is taking place – by page 13 it becomes abundantly clear as they mention the Black Plague, but making your reader guess about things like this isn’t a good idea because it slows the read down and isn’t being used here for some surprise revelation related to the plot at all.
— Pg. 5 + 6 and 8 – I feel like the conversation between Fielding and Ratsey is kind of derivative and, for a script that is stretched so long, it might be worth cutting this down a bit.
— Pg. 10 – We have the same (long) text three times which takes up most of the page, just write it like this:
Lero, lero, lilliburlero, Lilliburlero bullen ala – Lero, lero, lilliburlero, Lilliburlero bullen ala.
The VOICES increase in speed as Ratsey dances, until the noise is nearly deafening.
This will save you page count, time, and tedium for your reader.
— Pg. 16 – Be careful with the duel-dialogue. Sometimes it works, but often it is more confusing or disturbing to the flow of your story than it is worth. You can format it similar to this and save yourself space:
RATSEY & DAN
(At the same time)
I committed my first crime. // I don’t care if I goes to hell for this.
— Also, there are no time designations on the Scene Headings, so we are not sure if it is night or day.
— Pg. 24 – I also don’t understand why we have nearly a third of a page of “Street calls” – just random things heard called out on the street with no application to the plot or our characters.
— Pg. 27 – This is getting ridiculous, there is no way you can read all of that. This seems more like it was written as a novel than a screenplay.
— Pg. 30 – Already I am struggling to finish this — there are no characters I care about or connect with and the read is a slog because of the walls of text and abuse of duel-dialogue.
— Pg. 35 –
Not with proper handling, A woman, a dog and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be.
I know this was written in another time and the story is set far in the past, but I can’t imagine this line being used now.
— Pg. 37 —
(A word about Harry’s residence: below the shop and storehouse on the ground flooris a cellar with a wash-room and a store-room; to the rear of the shop is a garden with a stable for the coach and horses; the middle floor has a large dining-room, a kitchen, two small bedrooms – one of them Prothero’s – and a ‘house of office* or privy; the upper floor has a fine parlor, two bedrooms, a storage room and a little ‘closet* or study; sleeping cubicles for the cook, maidservants and ‘prentices are in the attic.)
A note here for clarification is fine, but keep it to one or two lines. Otherwise you are hurting your reader more than helping them.
— Pg. 43 – Is Ratsey supposed to be our comic relief character? Because I don’t find him charming or funny and we are wasting a lot of time with his bad jokes.
— Pg. 48 – I’m struggling to see a major plot thread or to find a definitive story in here. Right now it just seems like lots of people worried about the plague, which is fine, but that isn’t a movie.
— Pg. 51 – You should also be wary about the songs/poems. This script has far too many (one is more than enough). One poem, once or twice is fine – especially if it is a horror story with some creepy mantra or a children’s film with some chant. Animated films are a different story (especially those with soundtracks) but this is not one of those.
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