I've been writing short stories and poetry for years. In the last couple of years have started learning to write screenplays. I have a vault of half finished/just started projects and am on a mission to complete them all, and write some new ones, before I die!
Concept - Good Characters - Fantastical and larger than life. Story - Two fallen angels Shemhazai and Azazel battle Enosh, a human Mage who fights them to save his wife's life. Plot/structure - Good versus evil.A moral lesson about the evil of excess and debauched living. Scenes - Generally structured okay, some formatting errors. Theme - Strength comes from inside. Family is everything. Genre - Fantasy Pacing - It moves along at a good speed Tone - Like a biblical tale Dialogue - used to represent the types of characters speaking. Marketability - depends on how it's marketed probably - no expertise in this area Writing style - Unusual. Very descriptive and evocative. Formatting/presentation/grammar - Some formatting errors. Sentence structure and use of language makes understanding challenging in places. Title - First Mage - appropriate Final rating: pass Thank you for telling this story! It's a heady tale set in an unfamiliar location (I live in the UK) with exotic, bold characters, the archetypes of good and evil that battle for their lives and the lives of their people. The action starts on page 3 and continues apace throughout. We're immediately made aware that Enosh is the first mage of the title. He's descended from angels (I think) and has great magical prowess, and much physical skill in battle. He loves his wife and protects the innocent. When he first encounters the two fallen angels, Shemhazai and Azazel he makes of them mortal enemies when he slays their serpent and demonstrates to them how powerful he is. As at least some of the characters are based on existing legendary beings (the two angels,) there is little here in the way of character development and depth. They are primeval forces fighting each other, which is fair enough. The story moves on with good pace and each scene brings more and more surprising elements to the story. A strong and respected wife for Enosh, battle trained and capable villagers, suicidal grassland warriors, were-hyena's, a succubus, angel born giants, serpents made our of smoke, elementals, sword fights, magic and sorcery, huge battles and transformations. There's something here to satisfy every fantasy fan. The use of short sentences in the action sections effectively draws the reader on and the tension that builds throughout the script works with the story really well. The use of language is really interesting. The tone and style is almost archaic in sections, but modern in others, use of tenses is abstract and the sentence structure isn't always as expected. Sentences are full of colour and vivid descriptors and have interesting rhythms. I spent some time on google looking up words I didn't know the meaning of and finding locations on the map. I have learnt a lot about Ethiopia, and surrounding areas, so thank you for that! This overall result is an engaging, if unbalancing read the first time through. What is immediately apparent is that the story is written as a book to be read, despite being formatted as a screenplay. The writers style works really well as a piece of fiction. In a screenplay it doesn't work well. Action sections need to convey the action. That's it. For example: p24 - The angels look below their flight, looking at something in the red-tinged water. A dead body, floating in the Gulf of Aden, recently killed. Their eyes are drawn to more bodies washing down the deep water basin, a hundred, a thousand. Could read: The angels fly across the Gulf of Aden towards Perim Island. In the waters below float thousands of bodies, the water around them red with blood. The writing style informs so much of the feel and flow of the story this is probably the main thing to address in the next draft. On the second and third read I got more confused about some of the story elements. p2. Enosh's grandparents are angels. What are his parents? Is he part angel too? p2. Who is his uncle? How is he corrupt? What bearing does this have on the rest of the story. p3 - Enosh's grandparents give him the leaves of life and the fruit of knowledge that has been bitten to the core to expose the seeds. Why is it bitten? Who by? What does it mean? Is it bad? p3 Enosh is given 'A knighting. A mission. A charge.' To do what? To keep the items safe? To use them? p3 - Where is this medieval city? p6 - Enoch fights the 2 angels with his staff, sends out streams of energy that binds them. How did he get his powers? From his grandparents? From the fruit? They attack him with fire, he throws up a force field around everyone. Who is everyone? p9 - Enoch says to Noam 'It's getting harder. This time two of the fallen were there.' What's getting harder? Why does he travel? What does he do? p9 - Noam is surprised her sister is as far south as Howick Falls. Is this where the fight with the angels was? p9 - Noam says 'That one just about drives me crazy. You wouldn't believe what she plans to do with those children from the Middle River. She hasn't even chosen a mate and she wants to surround herself with kids!' This section of dialogue feels so out of place it stands out. The use of words is too modern, out of keeping with the tone. p11 - Naaham is the most jarring character in the story. What is her point in the story? Is she here to represent the evil of woman? She is wearing red underwear. Why? A stereotypical modern vibe out of keeping with the story. If she's a dark goddess she should dress and act like one. Show her evil by her actions. p13 - a harem of women appear for Shemhazai. From where? p13 - Naaham takes Azazel to a tent. He says they found powerful human who probably got power from the First. Who or what is the First? How did he get the power from them? She asks if it will interfere with their plans. what plans? p14 - He tears off her veil, she strikes at his face with her nails but doesn't damage him. Does she miss? Does he heal super fast? p15 - Shemhazai hears them have violent sex as he stands over a pile of naked women. Literally? Not clear if an orgy is ongoing, or over. There's the body of a dead woman there who's been raped. Naamah leaves the tent after Az orgasms. She goes to Sham, flirts. She and Sham start to have supernatural airborne sex in a sickly purple light which transports them to Shams hut. Is all of this necessary? Who are writing this story for? What are you trying to show with this scene? p24 - use heading of Perim Island not Bab Al-Mandan strait - it's confusing The 2 angels watch thousands of dead bodies float past in the sea. Where are these bodies from? The battle with Enosh and the villagers? How? Ethiopia many kilometres away? p26 - Naamah takes Azazel off to a tent to have sex with him. Shemhazai is jealous, sexually assaults the woman Naamah was just abusing. Again, is this violent sex necessary to the story? p27 - Later - piles of burned male bodies and desecrated female bodies litter the island. Why? Whores - why whores? - why not slave women? - are forced to 'tidy the mess - what does this actually mean? by black eyes silent huge men. Who are these men? Why are they on the island? Are they moving the bodies somewhere? Burning them? Naamah sits astride a mule and watches, probably naked, maybe covered in body paint and/or blood. She forces a whore(there's a lot of these about) to perform oral sex on her as the 2 angels fly towards her. Why? Again, what audience are you pitching this at? That whole section is very confusing! p38 - Enosh says the grasslands queen gave the angels people for blood. On p36 he says she gave the angels blood? What is the significance of this and how did she do it? p39 - Enosh tells his group 'One day, the promise of a Seed will burst and blood will be the price. It always has been. But only then, only that one will have the ability to control that wildfire magic in blood. The enemy, they burn through too much and kill too many of us for their purposes.' I don't know what this means. I suspect it's pivotal. p40 - who are the cowed men? What's happening on this island? p50 - 'to see a smoky trail of blood in the dirt like an oil spill. An unholy umbilical cord still attached.' Where is it attached, back to the water? p51 - Naamahs wings grow into huge vampire wings, light branded into her blood (don't know what this means but it sounds good) p55 - Lake Assal - Ethiopia - full of Nephalim, which are the giants the angels grew on their island. How did the get here? How did Fonna get here? What is the point of Fonna? p67 - In the village Noam wakes. Everyone delighted. She starts a fire. The scar left by the leech blade is black and covered in yellow green web. When an elder woman comes to help her, she snaps her neck. Now I'm totally lost! What happened here? Is she poisoned? Why did she kill the old woman? p68 - What's the scary significance of the seeds being lose? What are they? what do they do? And why are they found in Europe and America and East Asia when the story is set in Ethiopia?
The first 30 pages of The Creepers reads like the start of a traditional horror thriller - a disparate group of people go into what they think is a non threatening situation which turns out to be exactly the opposite and nearly everyone dies a horrible death - but as the story progresses it veers into the format of a much slower moving, supernatural horror until right at the end, where it vacillates between the two as if the writer isn't sure whether they are writing a 'seven go in and none come out' shocker; or a slower, more supernatural/psychological horror. If it's a shocker - the audience expects shocks and fearful murder throughout. Currently the first scare doesn't happen until p22 - p25, which is almost a third of the way though the script. Why not set the tone straight away? Start with a big scare. Make it a good one. And keep the scares, and the deaths, coming. That's what most of the characters are there for! As it stands there are eight potential victims but no-one actually dies until four pages from the end of the story. Put more scares and deaths in earlier, build the tension. Spread them out, make them memorable, shocking. Be creative. That's what drives the action in a horror forward. Shocks and death. If it's a supernatural/psychological horror, structure the story differently so that it sets audience expectations correctly. There's no need for a team of victims. Just Devon, a couple of supporting characters, Mildred and some pissed off spirits. Decide - who's the main protagonist, what's going to happen to them, how's it going to happen, why's it going to happen and how are you going to make the audience care? Here are a couple of things to have a look at when deciding which way to move with the story for the next draft. Decide what kind of a haunting is at the crux of the story. This will helps decide what kind of scary stuff happens next. At the moment: p12 - things going missing, moving about = poltergeist Knocking on doors = poltergeist Disembodied voices saying specific things = spirit haunting p14 - faces in the walls, on the floor = spirit haunting p22 - disembodied shadow, ghost or zombie = the undead p58 - Mildred is now a zombie = the undead Mildred - an old lady who called the team in because she was scared, but doesn't seem at all frightened when they arrive. Why would she still be living in the house? Is she nuts? Could she in league with the Creepers? Where did she get all that cash from? Would she really be using Facebook to contact Autumn if she's the kind of woman that doesn't like banks and lives in a shack in the back of beyond? How and when does she become a zombie? p52 to p62 - We learn about the DeWolfe family and their history, who the Creepers are and what they want. This section is written with the most passion, attention to detail and conviction out of the whole script. If land theft from local people in Alaska is the story that you want to tell, use that as the starting point. Forget traditional horror, go for a supernatural/psychological thriller. p58 - what happens to Greg after he sees Mildred? Is he dead? How does he die? Why don't we see it? p66 - This scene is really jarring. It's out of character for the stone cold self absorbed character you've created in Devon to call her mum now. And where has this critical dream come from? It's a different dream to the one she had on p37. Maybe you could introduce her mum or references to this part of her back-story earlier in the script, to prime the audience. p68 - There may be a better way of getting across the shock that she's a DeWolfe. A phone conversation out of the blue about something as emotional and life changing as being adopted under macabre circumstances feels wrong. p70 - the team are now zombies. How did they die? When did they die? Then, after they've killed Devon, which we don't see, if the bodies of Mildred and the team are found by the police , presumably no longer zombies after achieving their goal of dead Devon, they wouldn't still be there to kill Ronnie a few months later when Ronnie returns. p73 - If the spirits were after revenge on Devon, who is dead, and the police took away all the zombie bodies, who or what killed Ronnie, and why? Characters Devon - the main protagonist - is the most developed character. She's an unlikable, cynical, heartless, self serving mercenary bitch, perfect for a horror movie! This is established from page 1 and reinforced, mainly through the use of dialogue, repeatedly throughout the story. But there's not a lot to like about her, and no chance for her character to develop. Why is she such a bitch to everyone? Does she have any redeeming qualities? Why should we care about her or what happens to her at the end of the story? Have a look at the rest of your characters. Troy - ex-partner/victim Ronnie - the sensible one that gets away/victim Autumn - victim Greg - victim David - victim Shelly - victim Mildred - victim Why are they there? What does each of them bring to the story? If they're just there to get dead that's fine, but make them get dead in a surprising and interesting ways. If they're there for another reason, love interest, enemy, friend etc, then make that clear and give them a bit more depth. Dialogue There's a lot of dialogue, particularly exposition dialogue. This slows the pace right down, which is not ideal in a horror movie. Look at the use of exposition dialogue, especially in the last 20 or so pages. From p58 on it's mainly static dialogue as the characters work out who's haunting Mildred's place. Is there another way to deliver the necessary reveals with more impact? Show the historical scenes rather than describe them, show photo's/documents? Generally speaking the conversational dialogue flows, David and Autumn works well, but it doesn't ring true when some of the characters are speaking, Mildred and Troy for example. Once the story is nailed down and the characters more fully developed it's likely the dialogue will hang together better.