Two Full Pages of Notes

I paid for the rental of my corner perch at the bar with two pints of beer over the course of three hours. That’s how long it took for me to read a 101 page screenplay while providing detailed notes.

I enjoyed the experience, but greatly disliked the script. Two full pages of notes. All of them serious criticisms of the work. I’m debating whether I should even provide them to the writer because I don’t want to be a dick.

Here’s an excerpt;

“WHY IS STU A CHARACTER IN THIS SCREENPLAY? MOST OF HIS SCHTICK DOES LITTLE TO ADVANCE THE STORY. Cut everything from this screenplay that doesn’t advance the plot. Need to develop the B Story to a far greater extent. You can do this by cutting a ton to Stu’s schtick, or by developing Stu into a much more dynamic character.”

There were many scenes of pure exposition throughout the plot. Major conflict is resolved through coincidence on three occasions. Characters take significant action without any clear objective.

I really don’t know what I’m going to tell this guy without sounding like an ass. He wrote and rewrote a 101 page screenplay – a significant accomplishment. That’s a ton of work! Problem is, it’s terrible.

I tried hard to think of ways the story could be salvaged, but there are no easy solutions. The rot is in the bones of this story. To fix it would be to start from scratch – perhaps with a new writer.

That last sentence made me cringe at myself. How do I help this guy? I really want to help him, but I don’t want to blow smoke up his ass either.

Maybe I’ll ask him to start with a single scene. Stu tries to pick up the girl in the bar. Two characters. Give them BOTH strong objectives, and give them tactics. Have them claw with their fingernails to achieve their objective. No one leaves the scene until one of them wins, and one of them loses.

I suspect if he can write that scene well, he will learn much more about his story, than he ever will from reading my two pages of notes.

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