Free Script Feedback: Stakes and conflict are mandatory

B. O'MalleyFree Script Feedback0 Comments

Free Script Feedback on your First 10 Pages logo

Free Script Feedback logoPetal Pluckers by T. Carroll

Read the pages here.

Format looks good. Lines read easily.  Nothing smacking of amateur on first glance.

But what I know about your character Daniel by page 10 is very little:

He takes care of his dad, or at least cooks for him, he’s an introvert, (but not so much that he can’t have a casual conversation with YOUNG ADULT FEMALE on the phone), he’s attracted to gorgeous women,  he sleeps on the bus, and he’s bored by his professors (except for Prof. Bramble.)

Here’s the problem:  By page 10, we should know a LOT more about Daniel than all that.  Most importantly:  what’s his problem?  What forces are aligned against him or weighing him down?

Is it boredom?  Hmmm.  Boredom isn’t something I want to see a character wrestle with for 2 hours.

Is it his blank transcript?  Fighting a blank transcript is a hair better than fighting boredom, but man, I sure don’t want to watch that movie.

But what if….

1) You set up that he hates _________________ (fill in the extracurricular activity of your choice)

2) He isn’t bored by all of his classes, but some sort of super student who thinks he’s on a surefire course to some elite, awesome college?

3) Then  he gets sideswiped by Miss Watts, who tells him his application to that college just got rejected due to lack of the diversity you mentioned (clubs, activities, etc.)…

4) Then what if he had to do what he absolutely hates (see what you filled in the blank for #1) within 2 weeks to get into that elite college?

All I mentioned above:  I’m being cheeseball and off-the-cuff, but you get the idea. STAKES.  PRESSURE. CONFLICT.

Those things are MANDATORY by page 10, and they go hand-in-hand with knowing who your character is by page 10.

Instead of this:

Daniel skims through the contents of the refrigerator. He inches his hands through the food and pulls out a container full of leftover chicken.

Moments later Daniel is microwaving the chicken. Containers of vegetables are stationed on a side counter, waiting to be microwaved as well.  The microwave BEEP BEEP BEEPS.

Do this:

Daniel rifles through the fridge.

He nukes some leftover chicken.

Pare down Prof. Moreau’s lecture blurb.  By this point, we get that he’s being bombarded with lectures.  Big blocks of text be daunting, and readers start to drift/skim. Don’t let them.

Also, instead of this:

Daniel is more alert than before. His gaze follows a youthful woman dressed casually but not out of place within the professional world.

PROFESSOR BRAMBLE, the gorgeous woman aforementioned, travels along the circle of desks, eying every student.

Do this:

Daniel looks alert.

His gaze follows PROFESSOR BRAMBLE (35) – gorgeous, professional but casual.  She walks the desks, eying every student.

Ditch the CONT’D’s.

Also, ditch the scene #’s . (Unless this script is already in preproduction)  Let the UPM or production office line the script. Scene #’s can confuse newbie script readers, and you want to eliminate as many variables as you can when getting your script out into the world to be read.

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