Friday, October 26, 2012


A woman with a history of paranoia suspects her apartment neighbor is a killer.

How It Works

Email Rob the first ten pages of your feature length screenplay (in pdf. format) along with a logline and title. Every Friday, one of our reviewers (or guests) posts one writer's work along with notes and a:


Trash It (Start over.)
Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work.)
More Please (I'm hooked. What happens next?)
Somebody Shoot This!

Readers then comment on your work.

Pitch your screenplay to the world with the new First Friday Free-For-All.

Interested in access to the writers' lab (for more discreet feedback) or being a guest/ regular reviewer?

This week Heidi took a look at the 1st 10 pages of Jae Kim's The Songbird

Characterization: Jane is an interesting character, although I don’t feel like her character is consistent. The logline suggests that she suffers from paranoia; however, her behavior in the script isn’t always in agreement with that. She seems rather bold and is too approachable. The secondary characters like the apartment manager and her neighbors seem to know what’s wrong with her, but it isn’t clear. I feel as if I’m watching Jane through a murky fog over loch ness. I have difficulty connecting to her, which is a warning flag for me. If I can’t connect to her, why should I care what becomes of her. I would suggest doing some deeper research into the psychological diagnosis of paranoia to better create your character. I’ve marked a few character issues in the script as well. Setting: The setting is also oddly void. What city hosts this story? Are there any landmarks to mention making it more vivid? It is easiest to look at setting as a separate character as a writer. Describe it as well as you should your main character, in this case Jane. I also felt that you didn’t use all five senses to describe place, people and things. A script’s job is to tell a wonderful story, but a writer must show the story to readers (producers/agents). Your sentences are very telling and it pulls away from the showing aspects. Granted though, you have a wonderful start. It isn’t finished though.

Plot: The plot is slow to start and a bit uneven, but out of all I have mentioned it is in the best shape. Remember the three-part page formula (30-60-90) concept of screenwriting. Most people will give a film thirty pages to ensnarl them, but if you haven’t done it by then you are endanger of losing them. A screenplay is set up to happen in THREE distinct acts. Each of these acts should fall about every THIRTY pages. An example would be, the 1st act should climax at page 30 or so, the 2nd at page 60, the 3rd at page 90, and the final few pages should wrap it all up neatly and give the viewers hope for the characters they have fallen in love for the last hour and a half. I’d double check that my screenplay follows this simple formula. Overall: I send you kudos. This script while certainly not complete is a healthy draft. There is plenty here for you to move forward on, and you should.

My official rating: Take Another Pass. I wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors.



  1. thank you so much for your insight Heidi. You have pointed out a lot of thoughtful issues for me to work on, and I promise I will take them to heart and make this script into something great.

  2. Hi Jae,

    Here are my notes:

    p.2 Jane says "Hey" to Dan, mirroring his greeting. Having her say "Hello" might be superior, as it would reflect her age better.

    p.6 You need to capitalise "dr. Newman".

    p.8 The "can't" should be "won't" in Charle's and Jane's conversation.

    This is an interesting piece; a contained psychological thriller (I presume). The early writing is almost haiku like in its brevity and clarity. After that though we get four long conversations, which are largely dedicated to delivering exposition and which totally lack drama.

    Your dialogue is much weaker than your description because it is almost all exposition: the new neighbour, Jane's desire for grandchildren and so on. I didn't believe that these were human beings at all.

    In particular, they lacked separate characters. I assumed that Jane would be lonely (suggested by the pill-popping, the emptiness of her apartment and her hobby of making birdhouses) and that this would set up the main question of the script; is her new neighbour a killer or is age and loneliness threatening her grasp on reality. However, in the first 10 pages, Jane has conversations with five people (Dan, Lisa, Charles, Michelle, Lloyd), and appears to be familiar with her neighbours and building staff.

    The lack of drama in the dialogue means that the conversations are pretty dull and that there doesn't really appear to be anything in these first ten pages that is particularly interesting.

    I haven't read the entire script, so I may be wrong in saying this, but I think you need to remove most of these friendly relationships. If the key question is whether the main character is going mad, then she needs to be really lonely: divorced or widowed, her children don't call, badly acquainted with her neighbours (lacking the confidence to speak to them), and possibly on hostile terms with her building staff (perhaps they think she is an old coot who ought to be kicked out to make way for new - and better paying - tenants).

    Such a lonely woman would be immediately sympathetic and would provide greater grounds for questioning her sanity. It would create a more hostile atmosphere and suggest danger or drama in the future. It could also create mysteries (how did her husband die? why don't her children call?).

    By no means is this a very bad piece; it is just that your writing skills are better than your skill with dialogue and characters (providing I've guessed correctly).This was a quick and easy read. I also thought your concept was good (and cheap - which producers will like). With some improvements, I can see this film being advertised in cinemas.

    Good luck!

  3. thanks for your suggestions and input. I was really having a hard time with this script and needed some honest second opinions. I think I'll definitely explore the lonely, friendless protagonist aspect.

  4. I can say that was a breeze to read.

    I was a little confused with the character description of your protagonist. It was this line -- "A house of cards built on concrete." I am not sure what that is supposed to mean at all.

    I wasn't sure if the brevity of description per line was going to pull me in or push me away. I concluded that the very short lines of description did not push me away. But I did wonder if it was necessary or added to the tone/pace of the story. I guess it helped with the pace because it was a breeze to read.

    I liked the air of mystery concerning Jane's unspoken problem that is hinted at.

    I did not learn or get too much from all the conversations other than there is a new mysterious neighbor, Jane has some mysterious issue about her, and she wants grand-kids. So, maybe that dialogue can be trimmed down.

    All in all, I would keep reading. The main reason is that only a little bit of the story has been setup and I would need to continue reading to see where the story is headed.


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