Friday, January 11, 2013

I AM CARLY CHEN by Jimmy Zhang

No review this week, but Jimmy Zhang is looking for feedback on the 1st 10 pages of
I am Carly Chen.


  1. Jimmy,

    Enjoyed reading your 10 pages. I like the protag right off the bat, am interested in seeing what happens to her. We learn a lot about Carly and her father in the car scene. Nicely done. The strongest scene for me was Carly trying to sing in the club. Most of us can identify with the reluctance to bare our talents in public for all to judge. Only extroverts need apply.

    I have three suggestions. One, start off with the stage scene. The opening you have - Carly in her room - is nice, but it's very soft, more a character view than anything else. We learn she loves to sing, but there's no conflict, implied or real. Unless her singing is fantastic and grabs us by sheer vocal force, there's nothing grabbing us into the story. Once we see her fail on stage, you can introduce her father and Jeremy.

    Two, reduce the amount of description. In some spots, you have 5-6-7 lines of exposition, which, I think, will turn off readers. They love white space, i.e., pages with 2-3 lines max of action/description or dialogue.

    Lastly, a minor suggestion, don't use so many parentheticals. I know some readers don't mind, but my view is they don't add anything and run counter to keeping things as tight as possible.

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks Jeff, for your kind words and constructive critique. And thanks Robert, for posting this.

    I'm definitely most concerned about your first two points--you're not the first person to think the beginning is 'soft' in a Ive-seen-it-before kind of way. There's definitely concern there. So I'm glad you like Carly's failed open mic scene--I will try presenting that scene first.

    As for description I cut them down as needed.


  3. Hello Jimmy,

    Well done for getting on Feedback Friday. I think your script is interesting - because Asian-American scripts are so rare - but has a few major flaws. The most obvious is your over description. It takes you 9 lines to describe Carly's bedroom when you could just as easily have written: "A typical female college student's room; textbooks next to nail polish". A side effect of this is that within the first ten pages we only have a tiny handful of scenes.

    Some of the writing also seems a little over-obvious, especially the lectures by various professors on p.4; I simply didn't believe a professor would say those things, in that style. I'm also slightly worried that I can see the plot - a straight drama about growing up Asian-American - and that there won't be anything to surprise or entertain later on.

    This leads to my final problem with the script, namely conception. The last Asian-American film I saw was "Ping Pong Playa" which wasn't very funny and didn't do very well at the box-office. Unless you intend to film this yourself, I have to wonder if there is really a buyer or an audience for this sort of film.

    However, you do have some good scenes (in the car and in the club), there is a commendable lack of spelling or grammar mistakes and your story is interesting in an anthropological sort of way. Good luck!


Please make constructive comments. Anything mean spirited or malicious will be removed.