The 10-Page Torture Test
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Author Topic: 15PTT: Seventeen by M84  (Read 1811 times)
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Rollercoaster on fire
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« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2016, 05:35 PM »


[I see I missed another misspelling of JULIE top of this page.  Suggests M84's not using Movie Magic or Final Draft, where character name typos rarely slip through.]


"Guides" is okay but, again, lacks conviction.  Rob's sole mission at this moment is to get his sister to safety -- and fast.  There'll be no gentle guiding.  "Yanks" connotes the same unrelenting grasp without stating "Rob doesn't let go of Julie."  Other strong verbs I considered: "tows", "hauls", "drags".  I figured "drag" to be a tad excessive, even in this situation.


Didn't want to repeat "Loner" is all.


LOL, this sentence is a clattering trainwreck -- but still delightful!  Because you feel the writer going flat out, exhausted and energized, trying to keep pace with the story spewing from their creative wellspring.  This kind of first draft writing makes me smile.  When a writer is in this enviable fugue state all is forgiven so long as they funnel that stream of images onto the page.  Capture first, clean later.

So, the first problem with the sentence is "them" and "they."  We must carefully manage reader focus during these fast action scenes.  That means careful placement of pronouns.  Use them only after establishing the nouns they replace.

In this instance, the pronouns stand for Rob and Julie, but it's not clear, because we didn't re-establish that we're back with those two.


Near the exit, Rob and Julie get swept up in a wave of fleeing clubbers.  Rob takes a last hard look at Cabo's table, considers Julie, and decides.  His hand at her back:

ROB: Come on, let's go!


And we'll quit there.

Overall?  I like this story.  Not a lot happened, but I like what's there.  It feels like this could go places.

Problems?  Plenty.

Top of the list is structure.  Hook is the invitation to the party.  [CORRECTION!  The hook is the descent into NY streets and the attack on the street kids.  But it made so  little impression on me -- with its unremarkable, detached antagonist POV -- that I forgot all about it!]  Perhaps moving the supermoto biker intro to the front serves as a better hook.

Inciting incident is the attempted murder of Cabo.  All of this should fit into 12 pages-ish, ahead of a 1st Act turning point around p.24.  I can tell you the inciting incident ends on p.17.  That's far too indulgent.  In the next draft the writer should savagely trim these opening pages to reduce page count.  Brutal, but necessary.

Grammar, punctuation, typos -- standard problems afflicting early drafts.  A persistent disregard for the fundamentals marks any rookie screenwriter as someone who's arrogant, oblivious, or NFG (no fucks given).  If you're the first, your name better be Tarantino.  For the others, commit to improving your craft.  Keep three browser tabs open:,, and for researching grammar rules you don't understand.

And we're done here!

Thanks for reading.  Thanks to M84 for the pages.

Coming soon: a different kind of 10PTT starring two drafts of the same iconic movie.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2016, 06:32 AM by Pitchpatch » Logged

Junior Agent

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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2016, 05:23 AM »

Thank you Pitchpatch for taking the time to analyze my 15 pages!! Very helpful stuff here! Great lessons in structure and formatting along with insight on how a reader would interpret these pages. Again, thanks! (excuse grammar I'm going to free-write this)

I have already begun updating scenes and writing notes on possible structural fixes. Ex. To address the Rob(Julie's brother) intro issue - I'm thinking of adding a line of dialogue on page 6 when Julie walks into her apt.. like have the mother say "Your brother passed by and asked for you" then have Julie roll her eyes or something.

I'm also thinking of adding the aftermath of the opening flyby attack- show the bloody crime scene and have Rob investigate. Probably pop this scene in before Julie goes out to the club.
I.e. Police yellow tape. Red and blue lights from parked cop cars. Introduce Rob as he investigates bloody aftermath etc...

This would potentially fix Rob's intro, support the hook, and up the stakes early... Cop lights might serve as a "visual flourish" since Red/Blue/Pink Lights bounce off our 4 dirt bike riders when they enter the club a few scenes later.
**Just an Idea, I'll have to weight this scene out against the rest of the script to see if it works.**


The picture you added! (for pages 4,6, and 7) Yes x1,000,000! It's like you picked those images off my brain. ( I guess that's what a screenwriter feels like when they see their movie properly made)

Regarding revisions:
Page 1- Yes! I love the rewrite/reformatting it reads a lot better. This is definitely a keeper, minus a few changes I'll likely make. I did want to "misdirect" the audience a bit and play off the usual "city skyline establishing shot" thing to then reveal it's a living POV shot. As you said I have to articulate that on the page.

Page 13 (note 48)
Wowww absolutely love this revision. I love the way this reads. I'm talking about the "22 lines sans white space" version. I think this is a moment where we should indulge and take as much space (time) as needed. This works really well.


I'll try to add more comments soon! Again, this feedback has been invaluable.Thanks Pitchpatch! The first 15 pages came back from the torture test literally red and blue... bloodied and bruised. But as they say, "That which does not kill us..."  

« Last Edit: June 08, 2016, 11:54 AM by M84 » Logged
Rollercoaster on fire
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2016, 06:03 PM »

Hey there, M84.

Thanks for the feedback on my feedback.  (Got ourselves a classic feedback loop.)

Great to hear you've got (a) no ragrets, and (b) fresh ideas cooking.  It's a real thrill for me to watch writers conceive a scene and watch them nurture it through to maturity.

What I like most about these 10PTTs -- and revision writing in general -- is the puzzle aspect.  It's like Scrabble.  In this case, there's a sentence with words expressing an idea, and you score on how vivid, clear, and memorable the idea is.  Say you read a sentence and you score it a 26.  It's an okay score.  No one will fault you if you settle for 26.  But what if, after more careful consideration and experimentation, you see another configuration yielding a better score?  What if there's a 38 waiting for you, if you're willing to put in the extra effort?

For me, that's how the process feels.  (The irony for rewriting is, longer isn't necessarily better; discarding words usually gets you a higher readability score.)  I'll always want the 38.  I don't care if it's in my writing or another's.  That 26 won't do if I smell a 38 waiting around the corner.

Sometimes I know how to nudge a sentence closer to 38.  Sometimes I don't.  So long as that sentence reaches 38 -- by my hand or yours -- I can rest easy.  Well, at least rest momentarily.  Because there's always the next sentence.  And the next.

So, yeah.  Your pages took some hits, bounced off the ropes, but they stood their ground.

I didn't escape unscathed.  I never do.  I beat myself up doing these 10PTTs.  The conceit of it, the arrogance, the self-importance.  The audacity of meddling with another writer's words.  What gives me the right?  What do I presume to know over others?  By what yardstick do I claim to know better?  It feels shameful at times.  What do I know, really?

I know something.  I know a 38 disguised as a 26 when I see it.  I know when I see that shit going down, imma take a running tackle at you, 26.  You'll go down a 26, but you'll get up as a 38.

Rewriting, folks.  It's a strange, wonderful game.


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