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Please read the rules below before posting. We're taking turns to post text, and text posted out of turn will be hollered.

The discussion over at the "Is being Troperiffic a Bad Thing?" thread got a few of us seriously talking about starting a full-fledged, free for all dedicated ConCrit thread. Thanks go to your friendly neighborhood Herald, Chihuahua0, for giving this the go-ahead smile

This is how it's going to work:

  • This thread is for helping people improve as writers. Please stay away from needlessly gushing or needlessly being mean when handing out criticism.
  • No mentioning your own work when giving out criticism. This is to prevent "Let's talk about ME" derails.
  • Feedback will be given to one person at a time. We're taking a deliberately slow pace; a person's turn to get feedback is generally supposed to last a week, but we're not ending someone's turn until they get feedback from at least five different people. On the other hand, the person getting feedback can end their own turn if they figure they're done.
  • When a turn ends, we wait 12 hours to see if anyone of the people who have just given feedback wants to be up next. If they don't, we pick the person up next from the feedback request list.
  • Yes, it's okay to point out spelling and grammar errors made by the person you're giving feedback to.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the original verse of a piece of Fan Fiction up for feedback, pretend it's a piece of original fiction and criticize accordingly.
  • If and when you step up to receive feedback:
    • Post actual writing (not world-building, concepts, layouts, character lists and so on).
    • Be specific in what you are looking for, or at least mention what is troubling you the most.
    • Fan Fiction is fine, but take into account that anyone not familiar with the source material will judge your piece "blind", essentially by the same standards as original fiction. This means you might get called out on flaws that fan fiction usually gets away with in practice, perhaps even justifiably so. Just like any other kind of criticism, consider it or ignore at at your discretion.
    • Be ready to hear some things you probably didn't want to hear. This should go without saying, but, please: No being bitter, being sarcastic, calling people out for "going too far" or otherwise expressing disapproval of the criticism given to you. If you think people are being unfair to your writing, make your case civilly.

With that said, I suppose we can begin and see whether this goes anywhere. The first person to respond with a post to the extent of "I'll go first" will go first.

edited 17th Feb '12 5:07:01 PM by TripleElation

GoldenCityBird from the UK Relationship Status: -not set
Nov 28th 2022 at 1:12:46 AM

You just have to refine your research somewhat. Focus less on Anime as a whole, and instead look closer towards the Isekai genre that makes up the core of the story.

Additionally, you say you're taking inspiration from Blazing Saddles, but that movie does things differently: many of the characters don't take themselves seriously (with even the sane ones providing a lot of humour) and doesn't have a myriad of characters from other movies, and the shout-outs there are are almost all played for humour (wheras you seem to be putting them in without jokes).

TRS Wick Cleaning
AdeptGaderius Otaku from the Anime World Relationship Status: Anime is my true love
Dec 20th 2022 at 4:27:48 AM

I've done housekeeping for the Con Crit Thread sandbox and placed a new entry in it. It's been roughly two or three weeks since the last critique on this thread, and it's time to move on to the next entry on the waitlist.

The Rescue of Paradise: A Fantasy Adventure RP
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Jan 1st 2023 at 9:24:58 AM

And now, for "Prodigious Paragons."

I see that I have critiqued this before (twice). I also see that you have attempted to follow my advice at several points, which has improved your story. Good job. There are still areas that need work, though. Because you seem to have addressed some of the simpler issues that I raised the last time, I am going to offer more complex and nuanced advice now.

1) Your opening scene still isn’t detailed enough. What does the spaceship look like? The Nebula? This is important because the opening scene determines whether or not anyone sticks with the story, or changes the channel to something else. And with science fiction, we need to know which set of aesthetic choices you are making. From the rest of the script, it comes across a little bit as “Star Trek for pre-teens”, so you need to describe the ship and the antagonist with that in mind. Those choices will then inform the animators regarding how to make anything else look, including the character designs and the interior scenes.

2) Your scene descriptions need work. For example:

“Orlando steers the cruiser nervously while Miranda hastily uses the control panel for assistance. There are sounds of blaster fire in the background.”

Some advice about script writing: you have to focus your descriptions on the visual, even more so than in prose writing. The script is intended to contain instructions to the animator, so that person can correctly illustrate what the audience sees. Here is a better, clearer set of animation instructions:

“Orlando gazes at a viewing screen and holds a steering mechanism in his hands in a nervous manner. The screen depicts the nebula seen in the opening. Miranda is sitting next to him in front of another control panel, working with the controls. She is very tense.

F/X: Sounds of blaster fire offscreen.

You see how that works? The very next sentence:

“Orlando uses the dashboard panel to project a holographic display. He opens a program by inputting the dashboard panel.”

Is frankly terrible. Does he push a button, move a lever, wave his hand over the panel? These are aesthetic choices that help set the overall tone for the work as a whole. But even more importantly, a holographic image of what? From his next action, it sounds like a computer desktop, but you don’t say that. The animator will hate you.

I’m not going to go paragraph by paragraph, I think you get the idea.

3) Now the dialogue, which seems awkward and clumsy. At points, I don’t understand what the characters are saying. For example:

“I’ve never expected our adventure in the Vast to turn unexpectedly dark.”

That’s kinda formal and clunky, but could easily be fixed by adding in an article or two: “I never expected our adventure in the Vast to turn this dark!”

Note that I have not merely corrected the grammar, I’ve added emotion. This dark (exclamation point) makes him sound worried, yet excited. He’s expressing feelings, so the audience can identify with him more.

Another example:

“Get it together, Miranda! We’re adventurers; we’re not meeting terrible fate in another world!”

I’m not sure what he is saying here: did he mean that they would meet their fate in another world, which makes the situation sound very epic and exciting; or that they would not meet their fate yet, which sounds brave and determined?

Again, notice that I am focusing on the feelings he is expressing, the actual facts of the situation are secondary.

In general, your script would benefit by being run through a grammar checker, or better yet a native English beta reader with editing skills (you can hire those online). But think very carefully about what the characters are feeling.

Which brings us to:

3) Characterization

I see that Orlando and Miranda, and esp. Miranda, have been further developed as separate characters. I now feel that Miranda has her own voice, and a personality trait that marks her as different from Orlando. That is very good. But in general, I still feel that these two characters are underdeveloped. I don’t know if you use character template sheets or not (it’s a good idea) but if I had to describe Orlando I would call him “heroic” and “decisive”, which is good so far as it goes. Miranda is clearly “sensitive” and “caring”, as evidenced by her crying in the middle of a battle. But she goes after her friends when they are in trouble, so she’s also “loyal”. Orlando doesn’t, which leaves him seeming a little “cold”. But for an introductory scene, not bad.

I also see that you added an entire new sequence of scenes, focused on Vivian and Lloyd. Before, they were just people in the background, but now that they have their own scenes we the audience need to get to know them. What are their distinguishing characteristics? How are they different from Orlando and Miranda, and from each other? You need to decide, and then incorporate that into their scenes, either in form of actions or dialogue.

By the way, there is a mistake in your scene sequence. At the top of page 6, Miranda exits the cockpit. Two scenes later, labeled “The Prodigious Cockpit”, Miranda puts on her exploration suit. She can’t do anything because she isn’t there. I think that’s a good decision, by the way, because it makes what happens to Miranda and the other two a mystery (I am assuming that they don’t really die and you bring them back later).

Finally, I want to offer some feedback on-

4) Scene Structure.

Sometimes we refer to a “tight plot”, which is a plot in which every detail furthers the plot somehow, however indirectly. “Tight writing” also applies to scene structure as well, esp. in scripts. A well written scene goes something like “Scene description sets up the action, something happens, the protagonist reacts to what happens, the character’s reaction causes something else to happen, the character reacts to that, and so on” until the scene is over. In other words, everything happens due to something that happened just before it.

Your second scene is pretty tight, but could be tighter. The scene plays out something like “Scary nebula attacks the ship, Vivian and Lloyd try to defend the ship, scary nebula attacks Vivian and Lloyd, Vivian and Lloyd crash into the ship, Miranda tries to go help them, Orlando attempts to escape the scary nebula by flying into a wormhole, abandoning his friends.”

That leaves a lot out, but in terms of details essential to the overall plot, that’s most of it. There’s a gap, though, in that Orlando trying to escape into the wormhole by initiating the sequence isn’t a direct result of anything that happened just before that. He could just as easily have taken this step earlier, or later. Ostensibly he does this because V and L have just crash landed in the docking bay, but it would be even tighter if Orlando was reacting to something that happened just then. Somebody acts, and he reacts. And fortunately you have something that you can use, which is Miranda attempting to leave the cockpit. If Orlando initiates the escape sequence in order to prevent Miranda from leaving the cockpit, by not giving her enough time, you have a very tight sequence of action and response. This picks up the pace, and creates more drama. He fails, of course, and later on, in another scene, this failure can have emotional consequences for him. It will likely affect how he reacts to friends and enemies in the future (so, it has an effect on the plot). It furthers his characterization, and presents emotional stakes that arise from decisions that the characters make in your story. That allows for a deeper, more meaningful narrative.

But it’s just some advice, so take it or leave it as you like.

All right, rather than going on to the rest of the script, I think that’s enough for now. If you like my advice regarding your first couple of scenes, then obviously you should apply it also to the rest of the scenes.

The story itself is rather good, and I hope you keep working on this. I look forward to reading the finished product, good luck with it.

"Respond to demands with silence, respond to challenges with questions."
AdeptGaderius Otaku from the Anime World Relationship Status: Anime is my true love
Jan 1st 2023 at 3:32:00 PM

@De Marquis:

About the dialogue:
It's still my weakest aspect yet. While writing dialogue has much improved compared to my earliest attempts in scriptwriting, that is The Cavern/Into the Dark Unknown, and the earlier drafts of Prodigious Paragons, it still needs improvement.

The reason why the dialogue is sometimes clunky, formal, stating-the-fact and overly loquacious because I was taught in writing essays, not creative writing. Plus, I stopped watching movies and animated series after a certain point to focus on essay writing.

About the scene descriptors:
Writing scene descriptions, especially the backgrounds and its associated objects, is limited because space that can be used for the plot is a premium and it's important to keep the script readable. As a result, I can only offer vague details in the form of a feeling.

As stated previously, I was trained in writing essays, not full-length scripts. I only learned scriptwriting by imitating excerpts of film scripts that I found and read off the Internet.

The Rescue of Paradise: A Fantasy Adventure RP
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Jan 3rd 2023 at 3:22:36 AM

Good scriptwriting is harder than simple prose, I think.

Here is some simple, yet effective advice regarding writing dialogue.

Here's a bit that I think is esp. appropriate for your work:

"Give each character a unique voice (and keep them consistent)

If there is more than one character with a speaking role in your work, give each a unique voice. You can do this by varying their vocabulary, their speech’s pace and rhythm, and the way they tend to react to dialogue.

Keep each character’s voice consistent throughout the story by continuing to write them in the style you established. When you go back and proofread your work, check to make sure each character’s voice remains consistent—or, if it changed because of a perspective-shifting event in the story, make sure that this change fits into the narrative and makes sense. One way to do this is to read your dialogue aloud and listen to it. If something sounds off, revise it."

And here is a really good guide to writing scene descriptions in a screenplay. Best piece of advice?

"How do you write scene descriptions in a screenplay? You write scene descriptions in a script by explaining the location, action of the character, and the characteristics of the people of that scene in the most visual way possible."

And finally, I think you need help writing emotion effectively. Sometimes, your characters seem flat and superficial. The reason, I think, is because you don't action to express your characters emotions effectively. Each character should engage in different actions that are typical for them, because that expresses how they feel. This article will help you.

"How do you write emotions in a screenplay? Through character action. You write emotions in a script by writing in an action line, an action a character would take associated with said emotion."

I hope that some of this was helpful.

"Respond to demands with silence, respond to challenges with questions."
MsOranjeDiscoDancer from Revachol Relationship Status: Seeking boyfriend-free girl
Jan 5th 2023 at 9:06:26 AM

just to jump on the "unique voice" bit:

in film school, one of my professors told us to cover up the character names and have someone (or you, because scriptwriting is a lonely profession at times) read one dialogue aloud

can you immediately tell it's something a character would say and not what another char would? is it important and stands out from, say, some background character discussing something else?

it's better to have someone else read a character's lines but in general even you reading them aloud works

it also helps cut down on something that would sound, as the kids say, narmy

hail, holy queen of the sea, you're whirling-in-rags, you're vast and you're sad
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Jan 28th 2023 at 4:13:27 PM

A critique of "Murmurs" coming up soon.

"Respond to demands with silence, respond to challenges with questions."
DeMarquis Who Am I? from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Jan 29th 2023 at 12:17:47 PM

Ok, so the latest round of feedback on "Murmurs":

I think you have progressed to the point where overall general advice on the work as a whole is no longer required. You should take it as a sign of your improvement that I now feel ready to give feedback on a scene by scene basis. I can't do the entire 95 page script, of course, but I am willing to review the first dozen or so pages of it, which should be enough to give you an idea how to improve every scene. OK, here we go:

Page 2; Santhy’s Bedroom:

“Santhy walks to her personal washroom.” When she walks into the shower from her bedroom, this creates an additional, unnecessary scene. The shower itself is unnecessary. Just cut that part and combine the two bedroom scenes.

“She slightly recognizes the girl in the photograph.” Telling, not showing. We can’t visually see “slightly recognizes”. Describe the change in her facial expression. You don’t have to be super detailed, just some general guidance for the Director/Actress.

Page 3; Classroom:

Again, you need to describe the scene, incl. the students there (what are they doing? How do they look, sound like?).

Here you are introducing some new characters, including Leonard Ng, Melissa, and Pascal. In each case, they need identifying visual characteristics or mannerisms that give clues to their personality.

For example, Leonard seems uptight and authoritarian. His appearance and personal mannerisms should reflect that. White shirt buttoned to the collar, glasses with thick black rims, lips tightly pursed, like that. You should spend some time thinking about how he reads the poem (don't just have the students do it, you need to reveal some aspects of Ng's personality and this is the perfect opportunity to do so). I myself can think of at least two approaches: 1) Stiffly in a monotone, consistent with his appearance, or 2) Suddenly empassioned, hinting at a different personality underneath, and perhaps a secret. I personally prefer the second, but it's up to you, perhaps you can think of another way that appeals to you better. Whatever you decide, use the opportunity to develop Ng's character a little.

Pascal seems like a little twerp, yet neither girl calls him out on it. Later, we will see some evidence that Santhy and he are friends. A little bit of foreshadowing of that would be appropriate here.

You dont do much with Melissa except have her express her fear and anxiety, which is appropriate so far as it goes, but I think she needs a little personality. How she expresses her fear and anxiety should reflect on who she is as a person. So—in your mind, as the author, what kind of person is she? How can you use her mannerisms to express that?

Page 6; School Cafeteria:

Again, you need to describe the scene. Remember that you are giving instructions to the production team. They require some guidance. What does this space look like, sound like? Ask yourself how this helps set up the overall tone of the rest of the scene.

Now Pascal and Santhy are acting like friends—are they? If so, then he should act like it. A little bit of sensitivity toward her could help explain the basis of their relationship.

Reading a physical newspaper still seems out of place in a modern school. I get the drama of a newspaper slamming on a table, but a tablet would be more consistent with the time and place.

I like that you changed the girl’s dialogue to be more casual and young-adult, and that Pascal is more formal and objective as a character than they are, but if S and P are friends in some sense (and if they aren’t, why is he approaching her at lunch?), then he has to loosen up somewhat. Perhaps he can express some familiarity with S’s interests and feelings. “I know you like this kind of thing” in reference to the news article, and “Are you ok?” when she looks anxious.

Santhy needs to react a little more. She was assertive with Melissa (talking to her during class, and inviting her over to her house), to be consistent she need to be a little more assertive with Pascal. This will also make the scene a little longer and more interesting.

Page 7; Hallway: Several problems here.

Introducing Carol, the police detective. The audience doesn’t know this about her yet, but you need to provide some clues in her appearance. Female police officers in the US wear slacks, “Tuxedo” is the wrong word, I think you meant “Sport Coat” (the kind a man might wear with a tie), she might be wearing an off-white blouse or maybe a turtleneck under it, and you might want to give her a feminine touch, such as a pearl necklace or some such. She’s obviously wearing formal attire, yet with some individuality to it: a typical female professional.

Introducing Harris: no janitor could get away with what he does here. Just whistling alone could get him fired, let alone comments like that. That doesn’t mean that you can’t depict him doing these things, but the audience is going to want some reason why she doesn’t just turn him in. Perhaps she can respond with shame and embarrassment instead of anger and defiance. That would provide a motivation for her to keep his treatment a secret, and leave the audience with even more antipathy toward the character.

If you go this way, it will create a contrast to her more assertive behavior in earlier scenes with her friends. I think that’s a positive—it makes the harsh treatment she received from Harris seem even more harmful, to have such an effect on an otherwise vivacious young woman. Play it up.

Page 10; Kwok residence:

Who is Santhy introducing herself to? It doesn’t seem plausible that Melissa’s parents do not know who their daughter’s friends at school are, and the police officer has already met her (unless this is formal polite behavior, since they weren’t introduced. If so, you should make that clearer).

What follows this is an “exposition dump”, where a character describes things for the audience that the other characters in the scene should already know. It comes across as a bit clumsy here because I imagine that the audience will have guessed most of this already. Perhaps it would be a little smoother if Carol instructs Melissa to fill Santhy in. Then there is Santhy’s reaction to being told:

“My mind is just processing the events that transpired.”

Nope, not a natural response at all, esp. for a teenaged girl. “Oh my God, Melissa!” would be more in character. Santhy should be asking Melissa if she is ok. It would make more sense if it’s Santhy and Melissa who hold hands. The main reason to have Santhy in this scene is to help inform the audience regarding the advancing plot, but that’s not the only reason. We want an emotional reaction here, to create a feeling of drama and to help promote a rising sense of suspense later on. This is heavy stuff, and some character in the scene should express that, so the audience has someone to relate to. That character is Santhy. So play up her need to connect to and support her friend. Feel free to have Melissa cry in Santhy’s arms, with the sympathetic adults looking on.

Page 13; Flogging Room

Scene description! It makes a great deal of difference to the tone of this scene whether it takes place in a dark, dank space of shadows, or an antiseptic white hospital room with overhead florescent lighting, or some other aesthetic. Pick something and describe it.

I am assuming that we do not see the Assailant’s face, since that would give the reveal away, but you should still state that in the scene description.

Page 14; Santhy’s Bedroom

Too short, you need to do more with this scene. What you are doing here is making clear to the audience that there is some sort of connection between Santhy and Nancy. We need more of a reaction from Santhy. Perhaps she can finish the scene with some shocked monologue in front of a mirror, or something like that. Whatever approach you use, Santhy should express a combination of disbelief, belief, fear and optimism. “How do I help you?” would be a good line here.

Page 14; School Entrance/Sandwich Bar

I don’t know why this conversation is divided into two different locations. It will be easier for the audience to follow if it isn’t. You could pick to sidewalk in front of the school, or you can pick to sandwich shop, or some third location, but you should probably condense these two scenes into one.

Pascal, I see, is back to being an ass. I think it would be more consistent to have him express himself in a more sensitive way toward the end of the scene, as he prepares to hand Santhy the card (by the way, I find it intriguing that he apparently carries the business card of a therapist around with him). He may not believe her, but he can be nice about it. He thinks she needs help, and he wants her to get it. By the way, I don’t think there is any compelling reason to keep the card hidden from the audience. Revealing it at the end of the scene, as Santhy examines it, provides a nice sense of closure, and makes sense of Pascal’s actions.

I think that’s enough for now. I can’t review all 95 pages at this level of detail, and I’m starting to repeat myself enough that I think you can extrapolate the advice I’ve given so far to the rest of the work. Besides, this review is long enough already, and I’m getting tired.

In general this is a very strong work. The characterization is strong, the plot is reasonably tight, if a bit predictable, and the setting is detailed in a consistent way. I’m going to read the rest of it, even though I might not write up any more comments, it’s that engaging to read that I want to see the rest of it. I think you should keep working on this until you are satisfied with it. I wish you luck.

If you have questions about specific aspects or scenes in your script, please feel free to ask me here in the thread, or by PM.

I might go ahead and provide some more overall feedback at a later date, but I’m not sure right now when I will have the time for that.

Edited by DeMarquis on Jan 29th 2023 at 3:28:21 PM

"Respond to demands with silence, respond to challenges with questions."
AdeptGaderius Otaku from the Anime World Relationship Status: Anime is my true love
Jan 29th 2023 at 3:15:41 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

I reedited the few scenes based on your advice. The scenes should probably flow better now. Right now, I am working on another script, but I will revise on the Murmurs script for the time being if I hold the time.

For you, feel free to read more about the script. You'll notice major and heavy changes applied to the script during the re-write. If you have the time, post your feedback either on this forum or in the PMs.

The Rescue of Paradise: A Fantasy Adventure RP
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