Samples of Development Script Notes Page 2 

One section of suggestions to VP of Development for another thriller:

This story’s nucleus is a viable thriller prospect; the plot simply needs to be deepened, calling for a more shocking twist.  If the boyfriend, Steve, is going to be a surprise to us as the actual schemer and villain, then that revelation needs to be camouflaged much more carefully.  If Martha is going to suspect him and have nightmares showing him as an enemy, then the author has to convince us at one point that Steve is not involved in evil doings, thereby misdirecting us by apparently putting him in, first, the spotlight of suspicion, followed by one of vindication.  The problem is that we are on to him from the beginning, particularly because we’re alerted by Martha’s hallucination and overt suspicion of him.  It is somewhat surprising when we realize that he is in cahoots with the wife of the corporate crook, but it’s not enough of a twist to give us that “gasp payoff.”

A recommendation for a true twist would be if somehow Martha’s rescuer and lover, Harold, turned out to be part of the conspiracy (now that would be a shocker).  This would show the true cunning nature of Steve as he was using Barnett to chase Martha into the clutches of Harold, who was set to kill her out in the middle of nowhere on the ocean.  (In that regard, the attempts on her life could be revealed as being not meant to actually kill her, but merely to scare her towards Harold, to whom Steve knows Martha will run.  We would enjoy being fooled when we realized that what we have been witnessing has not been what it seemed.)  This “shapeshifter” motif (Harold turning out to be an antagonist, most likely a greedy one) would definitely affect an audience when it realized, along with Martha, that there is now absolutely no one whom she can trust.  We’d have our eye on Steve and trying to figure out how far the conspiracy extends and never see the improbable become a fact:  that Harold is a player in that conspiracy.  Another possible plot twist idea could be the resurrection of Harold at the end as he teams up with Martha on the island to outwit and overcome Barnett, Martha and Harold having faked his death at sea, knowing that they would have been eventually hunted down and killed, fleeing on the ocean, and therefore devised a plan to lure Barnett to the island, thereby giving Martha a much more active role in the third act rather than having her merely running for her life.

The dialogue needs much more nuance.  Martha’s words need to be warmer and more realistic in order for us to get to know her a little better so that we can care more about her besides being a woman on the run.

Once we know Steve is the “bad guy,” his demeanor and dialogue should reveal his true dastardly and sly persona, the one he has hidden all along.

Consider showing Steve being arrested, allowing us the visual pleasure of seeing the mastermind apprehended. 

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