Comments Made During the Contest
Adam Grage (Level 4)
This was going well with the beginning adding alot of questions which presented a intriguing start. But with the Reporter coming into the story to just tell us everything it kinda fell apart and became predictable.I would nix the reporter and focus on Sarah and Jessica to tell their story. Would love to see any rewrites of this one.
Austin Bennett (Level 4)
Chilling. Excellent dialogue. The descriptions weren't perfect, but you've got a great, consistent atmosphere.Excellent job.
Bill Delehanty (Level 4)
I think I understand the story, the multiple characters did start to confuse me. If it's just a news reporter saying stuff, no need to make her a separate character, would have worked fine if it was just coming off a TV set. Also try and find a way to tell this story without a TV reporter telling us it, that falls under the "show don't tell" aspect of screenwriting.
Brad Huffman Parent (Level 4)
Creepy but predictable. Good depiction of the emotions of the parents. Felt real. Not sure what I think about having the reporter pretty much tell us what happened. Feels like a cheap and easy way to tell, not show. The story had a certain kind of atmosphere until then, dark, gritty, emotional, giving us little bits and pieces to make us wonder what's going on. Then you just have the reporter standing there giving us all the info we need. Really weakens the impact.First 3 pages bordered on very good, page 4 took me out of it, but then it came back with a nice ending.
Brian Wind (Level 5)
I did not really like the title or feel like it fit the story. The writing, formatting, spelling, grammar were all good but I felt like the story was predictable very early on. The only unforeseen twist was that there were more than two girls but as the reader we have no emotional attachment to the others and therefore I felt like the ending lacked any sort of punch. Pretty good stoyr, just a little predictable.
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)
I thought this was good, although I did guess the ending at the beginning. You built up a picture of distress very well. I was once given constructive criticism about me using 'tears rolling down a face' to express sadness. I agree now that it's very cliched and I try to be more creative. I wasn't at all sure about using the Fox reporter at the end to reveal what had happened (even though I knew it already) It seemed like a sell-out and of course wouldn't be visually exciting - like watching the news on TV rather than a film.I'm wondering if you could think of a more cinematographic way of getting the information across?I liked the ending - very good.
Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)
Very well done. This was so sad and haunting. Strong writing with a really good story.My only suggestion for improvement is that it seems a bit unrealistic that they actually are loading a moving van 2 days after the discovery of the tragedy. Going to stay with family or friends or even in a hotel I can see, but not already moving out.Still, with only 10 to go, this is the best I've read so far this month. Definitely think this will be a contendermml
Chris Messineo (Founder)
This was a wonderfully creepy story. I especially loved the ending with the girls coming out of the darkness (it gave me goosebumps).The section with the newscaster feels a little clunky to me. I wish there was a better way to get out all the exposition, particularly through visuals, perhaps through the two girls.Still, your craft is very good and this story was definitely haunting.
Dan Lennox (Level 5)
What a powerful story you have here. I thought you did a very good job of building up the tension and maintaining a sense of mystery until the last page. The final page was also well written. I liked how you used the reporter to reveal what was happening. We all know to show instead of tell, but here it worked well. What really made this so powerful was when the six girls appeard at the end. Kind of left me thinking if the investigators were going to find them or not.The only observation I have concerns some of your dialogue. On page 2 when the woman brings Mark some coffee, her dialogue is a bit on the nose. I would loose the "Hey Mark". The same goes for the next line as well, instead of "How's Laura", I would have just said, "How's she doing?", or something like that. It just seems less mechanical and more natural.Otherwise, a very good job in telling a powerful story.
Dawn Calvin (Level 5)
This script kept me engrossed. I could picture the whole scene. I think it moved along at good pace and kept me glued to the page. The writing style was clean and refreshing to read.You should do very well with this!
Elizabeth Hamlett (Level 2)
This is a haunting story. You effectively conveyed everyone's pain. Your ending was very good, it was sad that there were so many little girls. My only suggestion is to double check your spelling and grammar.Very nicely done.
Erenik Beqiri (Level 3)
Now this was a great script. I was expecting a script like this here and here it is. I loved the way you described the story. It kept me interested. What can i say more?Great script!Cheers
Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)
Yours is the second of two interesting scripts that make a great study of the art of the TWIST. The first script I read hid the "truth" about its main character so thoroughly that the first part of the script was a little dull. In your script here, as soon as Sarah dropped "You'll get used to it here." (within thirty lines of Fade In), it was pretty clear that Jessica was dead and kind of trapped in some sort of ghostly dimension away from her grieving parents. I don't think you hid REALITY well enough.Not to say that I didn't find the six girls coming out of the shadows to be creepy, or that I wasn't curious about HOW Jessica died...but a great TWIST in a script is about balancing ILLUSION and REALITY. You set out your illusion very convincingly so that your audience completely believes it, then you let reality peek through here and there and then BOOM, reality comes crashing in. You just let reality come flowing in to the script too early in this one and it drained a lot of the suspense and tension out of an otherwise well written script.
Ian Cowell (Level 2)
This is a fun story ;0)Although well written, there were no surprises in this for me; I was hoping for a twist or something it all seemed a bit obvious. If you want the fact that there are more kids in the attic to be surprising I would suggest that the reporter doesn't flag this beforehand.
John LaBonney (Level 4)
Very well written! Even though I kind of saw the resolution coming, I enjoyed this script and could see it being a great short movie.
Kathleen Clevenger (Level 4)
What a gut wrenching story! Your description of Laura was extremely moving. As soon as you described the dad, I knew Jessica was dead. Your description of Sarah and the other girls "in tattered clothes, with vacant eyes" made me think they were trapped in some sort of hell. And having Jessica be separated from her parents, and having to see them mourn, seemed very cruel. Personally, I'd like to think murdered children's souls go to heaven. I was hoping for more action in your movie. Would Dad come back to be with Jessica? Would Jessica find some way to go with her parents? None the less, you painted a very moving emotional portrait of what it is like to lose a child in tragic circumstances. Good job.
Kenneth Hurd (Level 4)
Haunting. Very well done. As I was reading it, I was constantly trying to figure out what was going on. You had me in suspense through the end. Good job.
Laureen Muller (Level 4)
Story line was excellent, a little more of play time between Sarah would have made for more conflict within the story for the newly ordained ghost of Jessica. Coming to terms with the loss of her family and discovering her new friends could have used a little more focus. More dialog of Jessica trying to figure out a way back to her parents, or crying for them would have demonstrated more inner conflict. The ending was great, answering the question "were there only 2?". You captured a good story line in a short time. I really enjoyed the read and the writing was good.
Leigh Fenty (Level 3)
Wow. That was a hard one to read. Well written though.
Lewayne White (Level 4)
Creepy, particularly the final bit with the extra girls.
Margaret Avnet (Level 4)
I think you capture the emotions of everyone very well in this story. From Jessica to her parents. You pulled me further and further into the script with each passing page, an excellent trait for a screenwriter. You did an excellent job with this script.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5)
I really like this story. I do have a few comments to make, though.I think your dialogue needs some work. It doesn't sound natural, but that just takes some tweeking.I'm a minimalist when it comes to character descriptions. I feel that, unless you have a specific reason for describing hair color, skin tone, etc., you should leave it out. Your girls needed their ages given and their dishevelment. Maybe you have a really good reason for describing clothes and hair color and I just don't see it. Maybe you want it just so. All I'm suggesting here is that you leave some things open ended.This is a really nice piece of work. Good job.
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
Your plot seemed familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place where I heard it before. I saw the twist coming, but there was a nice unexpected touch with the other girls showing up at the end. If you wanted to keep the story the same, I would expect a few more added personal touches. It's hard to establish emotional characters in a couple of pages, but perhaps changing their personalities would make the characters more memorable and also acheive emotional sympathy. There also might be a better way of revealing the girls' death than through a reporter. I'd rather it was from visual information (for instance, seeing the other children dead or bloody), or delivered by an already established character. It wasn't bad, but I would rate it higher with some retooling.
Michael Leath (Level 3)
So, I am sitting in my writing room, cave-like bathed in darkness as I read scripts and review. I come across yours.As I started the script something inside remined me of another story I read in a graphic novel a very long time ago. Nothing in your story is similar, but something grabbed me and said - way station after death.Then I read the passage about the mother and I felt I had this story nailed. But forgive my little trip down ego lane. Because your story was so much better than what I anticiapted.It went by far too quickly. When you find something so very entertaining, you want to savor it. I gorged on this and ate it up too fast. I read it a second and then a third time. It never lost its magic.The writing was flawless - except the last line of the talking head. I felt that didn't ring true. Something about what she said sounded odd. Yet it is the absolute crux of the story and everything hinges on that comment. Amazing. But it didn't matter if that line seemed inconsistent with what a talking head would say, because this story had me by the throat and wasn't going to let go.I am reading down the last page after the comment about, "will they find other girls," and I am thinking, wouldn't it be clever if another girl appeared in the attic.Then your ending. Wow!!!! It said everything in so few words, and as I sat in my chair amazed at your story I had a chill run through me.This is writing! This is story-telling! You have a wonderfully delicate touch and move the story along so effortlessly. This could have been so much less if the writer were heavy-handed. But the way you told the story was so spot on with its structure that I didn't want it to end.One fabulous story!
Michael Rome (Level 4)
Really enjoyed the story and ending. Just to spice it up a little more, perhaps one more element of conflict might work. Maybe something like a 'fight' or argument between the two girls in the attic.Only saw one typo: "Investigators are searching property now, hoping of course, they don’t find anyone else."Wonderful job.
Neal Barringer (Level 0)
A ghost story. You foreshadowed it perfectly.Plot: I was engaged from the beginning.Character: one, maybe two, too many for a five-page short. I couldn't keep up with everyone moving from scene to scene.Setting: I liked your choices to move about the neighborhood.Point of view: seemed to move about alot. first, we're looking through Jessica. then, Mark across the street. and, Laura in the U-Haul. then, police and reporters. Style, tone, language: in screenwriting, eliminate -ly adverbs. instead, find active verbs to take their place. for example, the first paragraph - "darkens the trunk making it suddenly appear sinister." rewrite - "A shadow darkens the trunk making it look sinister." my mind's eye added lightning to added to the sinister image. You used the style of a novelist throughout this screenplay.Imagery: for the most part, I saw every image clearly while reading.the ending wrapped up every point so I wasn't left with any unanswered questions.Notea about formatting:- don't put a page number on the title page or the first page. especially don't number the title page with a 0
Patrick Sweeney (Level 4)
Very well-done. Strong story, good twists. Dialogue & action text are clear & crisp. Format is good. Great final line.The only thing holding this script back is that it's a little predictable. I figured out they were ghosts about halfway through, the only twist I didn't see coming was the additional girls. You might go for more of a shock by telegraphing the twist less, or find a way to pile on the dread & tension as the reader goes on, hoping to be wrong.
Paul Williams (Level 5)
A little predictable, I knew immediately that Jessica and Sarah were dead, I don't know if that was supposed to be the "reveal" at the end, but it was a little obvious.Overall, well written, easy to follow, formatted correctly, etc.
Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)
This didn't really work for me. It was obvious where this is going from quite early on although the twist at the end is nice. Using a TV reporter to fill in all the details seems kind of easy. The story feels one dimensional and reads quite slow."A shadow momentarily darkens the trunk making it suddenly appear sinister." - I think I know what you mean by this but it seems like an odd line requiring acting from the trunk!"JESSICA CAMPELL" should be CAMPBELL."He glances over at Laura who appears catatonic." - I do this all the time. In a script people don't "appear" to be things, she "is" catatonic.
Pia Cook (Level 5)
This was good.I figured right away though as soon as she looked out the window that she was dead.The ending felt a little bit like you were piling things on. I would have liked it better if we the audience find out that there is a killer and child molester next door, but the rest of the world doesn't still don't know. Would be a lot more chilling if we knew what happened, but can see that this will most likely go on. Maybe show a new family moving in with a daughter about the same age...
Robert Newcomer (Level 4)
Dreadfully good. Very depressing, and the tone is consistent throughout. The whole story is easily visualized with gray overtones. The writing is tight.The only thing that kept this script from earning a top score was the reporter from "Exposition News".The only cliche I like less than that is a room full of newspaper clippings -- telling the story one headline at a time. I mean, honestly, who would really maintain such an incriminating collection? But I digress. Had you found some other, more visually compelling means to deliver that backstory about Ted Jackson, this script would have been most excellent.It missed that mark for this reader by mere inches.
Rustom Irani (Moderator)
The long news reporters exposition at the end didn't quite work for me.Also I was immediately clued in to Jessica being dead when we see Sarah. You have a good idea here but instead focus on throwing clues when it isn't really necessary. Sure the scenes might be dramatic but ask yourself how many films have shown us parents bereaving a dead kid?You can instead show what life with the dead girls is gonna be like. Since you choose to focus on the paranormal, why not show them getting revenge or warning another girl from experiencing the same fate.My advice. Expand this to about 10-15 pages. Condense the five pages you have here into two or three and clue us in to the child murderer through a different way. Use the premise of the dead girls to resolve the plot and this will be a winner.Keep writing.
Sally Meyer (Moderator)
Very creepy story. I thought you packed a lot into five pages and the story kept my interest from the beginning. I think this would make a very good short. I like the eeriness of it, and the drama and sadness of Jessica as she watches her parents drive away.Nice work.
Shaheryar Ahmed (Level 3)
I really liked your story. Creepy and morbid at the same time. Not to forget that it is sad. Actually I think it is inhumane. I really liked the premise of the script. The tone was really nice and it had a weird feeling from the get go. Other than that the feeling of the mother is understandable. Very surprising actually. I didn't thought that she was dead or even Sarah was dead. Really nice workings of the story. Other than that I really think that the ending was really good. It is like on the brink of horror. I was just scared by the end of the script. In my mind I was thinking that how can someone be so inhumane. Really nice.
Stan Askew (Level 3)
This is well written, and pretty successfully does what it sets out to do. If there's a problem with it, though, it's that the story with the characters who are actually ghosts is kind of hackneyed these days. Since 6th Sense. Frankly, it was predictable way too soon. The dead characters idea has been done to death. Execution? Fine. Good. But the concept maybe deserved more thought prior to launch.
Stephen Brown (Level 5)
I think this is the best one I've read so far and I've only got 7 left.The concept of this is very, very good. I don't know how original it is, but it felt like it was an original take on it.This would look exceptional on screen if you got the right calibre of actors -- which would be a struggle, I think.Despite one or two typos this gets my first EXCELLENT, mainly for the story.
Stina Carlstedt (Level 3)
The writing was good and descriptive, and there was agood balance between the relatively slow action of the parents leaving the house, and the quicker recap at the end with the news report which I thought worked very well. But, if felt like the story had been told before. I didn't really feel connected to the parents or Jessica and I needed more manipulation of my feelings to share in the loss of either.
Tony Oldham (Level 4)
I thought this was very good. It was quite moving and you get a strong sense of the little girls tragedy.It follows along reasonably well to the last page and concludes ok.There's a few format issues, splitting dialogue across the fourth and last page, and I think some of th edescriptive blocks could be tightened slightly. But overall, for me I felt this had a very good story and it was moving. Very Good.
William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)
While not the most uplifting story, I thought it was well done. "Woman" with coffee is not needed. That scene feels awkward. The story is best told with the silence of Laura and Mark along with the Jessica's pleas.The attic was very solid with Jessica and Sarah.The trunk -- could be a trunk for each girl, burie in the yard in the trunk, the one in the attic for the new girl that would come after Jessica. Just an idea.
Comments Made After the Contest
Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 9/1/2008 12:11 AM
Congratulations on your first top three finish. I really enjoyed this script and the ending will be stuck with me for a very long time. Truly haunting.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 12:55 AM
Wow. To say that I'm surprised this story made it to the top three is an understatement. I'm glad it was so well recieved. Thanks for all the great feedback. I truly feel that this site is turning me into a better writer. :)
Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus) ~ 9/1/2008 1:21 AM
I'm not surprised at all. Thought this was yours and thought it would win. Great job. Give us another one.
Stephen Brown (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 1:22 AM
Well done Marnie. This was probably my favourite.
Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 1:49 AM
Congrats Marnie! Nice job!
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 9/1/2008 1:56 AM
Many congrats Marnie, I really enjoyed this one, it was very haunting and visual.
Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 9:50 AM
I told you the steroids would worlk. Now all you have to do is increase the dose. :)Congrats!
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 10:18 AM
Matias, I actually WAS on steroids this month. I had a ridiculously bad case of poison ivy and the DR. put me on Prednizone for 6 days!! How funny is that? But I guess that would reflect on my Sci-Fi SP actually. :P Thanks for the kind words everyone. :)
Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 12:06 PM
Marnie's Sci-fi script was written on steroids! DQ! DQ!:)
Pia Cook (Level 5) ~ 9/1/2008 11:34 PM
Congrats on second place!!Well done! :-)
Leon Canty (Level 0) ~ 9/2/2008 10:46 PM
Great screenplay. Reminds me of the one currently being developed by Peter Jackson, Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones". Was this inspired by it?
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 9/2/2008 11:09 PM
Hey Leon. Thanks. And no, not inspired by anything but my demented imagination. A few readers mentioned that it reminded them of something, I wonder if it's this one. I'm not much of a reader (I read SP's...not many books), but if Peter Jackson is involved I'm sure I'll see it in the movies. :)