Sunday, November 19, 2006

Readers have been Aroused...

Here's a sampling of the feedback I've gotten about my feature screenplay Arousal:

I was held captive throughout and didn't put it down.... The story line and plot kept my attention from page one to the end. —J.M.

Gross, disgusting and horrifying... An entertaining read.... I read it from start to finish nonstop because the story moved along so well.... definitely marketable. —G.G.

A solid script that stands a good chance of being a successful film.... the story had me fully engaged by the end. —R.C.

Huge potential.... has enough sex/nudity to get you 3 consecutive NC-17 ratings without parole. —D.R.

With the right actors, even on a shoe-string budget, this baby will become a cult classic because it is well-written and entertaining.... one of the finest horror films I've ever read... I would buy the DVD for $15.99 if it went direct to DVD. —J.L.

Marvelous, simply marvelous. I love your writing. —M.S.

You have the three major items that make a horror film for me: gore, nudity, and the use of alcohol or drugs.... it kicked into overdrive and you had my undivided attention. —L.I.

A really interesting and good script.... the ending was pretty awesome. —W.R.

I'm not usually a fan of zombie movies, but this one is original enough that it's more than just a zombie movie. —S.C.

There were moments when I jumped, moments when I exclaimed, "Oh my God!", and moments when I was so scared that I looked over my own shoulder. —C.L.

I enjoyed it. Especially the ending! Brilliant. —A.R.

Intrigued by the premise... —S.D.

You are a sick sick puppy and obviously have some issues to work out. Having said that, I must say I loved all the really dark and disturbing aspects of the script. —P.N.

I really got into the script... never got bored. —T.T.

Thrilling... —A.S.

I was trepidatious, nervous, nail-biting and excited-scared... —Z.B.

As you can see, the response to Arousal's early draft is overwhelmingly positive, which is always nice to hear because it means my many months of "dark room ponderings" haven't been completely for naught...

However, not all Arousal's feedback is laudative, and the constructive comments are an ideal jumping off point to hone Arousal into something even better. Reader feedback is like a film's test audience—it identifies which parts are universally loved... and universally loathed. Certainly, I have a vision of the story I want to tell and I want to get as close to that vision as possible, but I also don't want to tell a story that makes every reader throw the script across the room after reading the final FADE OUT.

A great story is like a musical piece—it should make almost every reader feel some sort of resonance by the end, even if that resonance is dissonant only to them. Not everyone is going to appreciate acid jazz or house music or thrash metal, but they should be able to see there's something appealing about that brand of whimsey to other people. Brazil, for example, has an ending you either love or hate—likewise, some readers are not going to like Arousal. My focus, then, is about how uneven that love/hate ratio is, and whether I can live with that margin.

One of the best uses for feedback is uncovering all the "false notes", the weak links in the chain which yank the reader out of the story: flat dialogue, clumsy plot development, improbable setups or payoffs, typos... all these jolt the reader and ruin the story's pace and tension. Thanks to all your wonderful feedback, most of those weak links have been mended, for which I'm extremely grateful; when you start to know a script inside out, your eye skips right over the most obvious problems. When we finally roll cameras next year, all you feedback readers can be assured a place on the IMDB as a story consultant! I couldn't have done it without you!!!
Saepa stilum vertas, iterum
quae digna legi sint scripturas.

Turn the stylus frequently if you wish to write
something worthy of being reread.

—Horace, Satires, vol. 1, X, p. 72-73

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