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CS Open, Round 1: Scores and Comments

September 28, 2009

So we’ve gotten scores and feedback for our scenes. I can’t find anything in the rules that says I’m not allowed to share, so…

Undying Devotion

Structure Score: 21
Dialogue Score: 21
Style Score: 20
Originality Score: 22
Total Score: 84

Judge’s Comments: Imaginative scene that never really comes together for the reader.  The shift from ‘spirit world’ to ‘human world’ is a bit disorienting early on and the dialogue seems a little heavy-handed and talky.  Lots of action makes for an exciting climax but overall, we’re fairly confused as to what exactly happens and who the characters all are.  Lots of cool stuff here – it just feels like it needs to be reined in a bit.  Good luck.

Hm. Well, I can agree with the reader that the dialogue is “heavy-handed and talky.” I wasn’t thrilled with it either — unfortunately, my feeling was that it was necessary to help the reader understand what the hell was going on (which it still, apparently, failed to do).

I don’t really agree with the rest of the note, as I think what’s happening and who the characters are is all pretty well laid-out in the talky-ass dialogue. Either way, you’d think we’d have gotten more points on style even if s/he found the substance questionable.

Solid State got a better response, but still rather less than I would have hoped:

Structure Score: 21
Dialogue Score: 22
Style Score: 21
Originality Score: 24
Total Score: 88

Judge’s Comments: Very cute, original scene with a never-before-seen setting. The idea that an iPhone could contain a little ‘App City’ and have characters who are all applications and such is truly unique. The dialogue is cute with references to our current pop culture, but a clear story never really takes off. The deception thing never really comes out and the stakes of possibly being deleted in the end feel a little forced and convenient. The final note is exciting but overall, we crave something a little more developed. Good writing and good luck.

I don’t want to sound like sour grapes here, but I’m not sure this reader knows what s/he is talking about. The idea is admittedly less than “truly unique” — as I pointed out last time, it’s basically ReBoot and/or Tron. I really don’t see how we could have made the “deception thing” clearer without becoming “heavy-handed and talky.” I think it’s pretty clear: Shazam has been impersonating the Genius and Pandora has called him out. Even if you don’t understand what those things are, it’s A pretending to be B and confronted by C.

Never comes out? That’s the only thing that happens here.

The reader does make the point that several commenters made, and that I myself pointed out regarding the scene, which is that the deletion feels like it just swoops in at the end rather than being a driving force. The suggestion made to have this conversation take place while running through App City to escape a wave of destruction might have done better — then again, it might have been judged “disorienting.”

Apparently the highest score received by any entry is 97. I would be very interested in reading that scene, or another scene scoring in the mid-to-high 90s, to see what kind of work gets such high marks, because it seems difficult to satisfy these fellows.

Still, Solid State got a decent score, primarily in originality. If either one goes through, it’ll be that one.

If neither one goes through…well, I think from now on we’ll stick to competitions that judge an entire script instead of isolated proto-scenes.

From → writing

8 Comments
  1. Ray permalink

    “If neither one goes through…well, I think from now on we’ll stick to competitions that judge an entire script instead of isolated proto-scenes.”

    That makes a lot of sence. Still, I think its really powerful what the two of you did with the limitations that you had.

  2. Are U kidding me? Seriously?. Is this the feedback from judges on Undying Devotion?
    “Judge’s Comments: Imaginative scene that never really comes together for the reader….” (What reader? Are we reading the same thing?)
    Sid came to get rid of two ghosts (Mary and her father) called by Jeremy who failed at his first attempt of evicting them by trying to lie to Mary. But now Jeremy clearly has a change of heart. (What is not understandable?)
    I mean ,when you first posted the scene I went directly to the PDF document skipping your description of the work to avoid having a preconceived notion of the scene, and I found it not only entertaining and original but also gripping and needless to say that by the end I was at the edge of my seat and felt utterly disappointed at the fact that there were no more pages after the last.
    The distinction of the “human world” and the “spirit world” is central to the scene and Sid’s view of the “spirit world” from the “human world” vantage point is pretty clear to understand, for him this entities are formless annoyances to get rid of. (And I even imagined Sid afterwards having a near death experience that would let him see the beauty of the “spirit world” embodied in Mary that he is trying to abolish).
    Not only that but I was already visualizing the scene with the VFX needed and the camera angles and even suspense/action music and sound effects were popping in my head as you described the chase.
    Granted the reader can not read it as someone reads the Sunday paper and we have to focus from the first cue but that is the exactly the point and the reward is a rich texture of dialogue and action.
    Either the judges are older than generation Y to get it or were saturated with hundreds of scenes to give it a proper read.
    My feeling is that, this same judges would have passed on “Star Wars”, “The Matrix” or “Memento” if given those scripts.
    And “Solid State” looks like so much fun. The anthropomorphism of the apps and the prospect of app city (that should have been shown) is great.
    Furthermore thinking the possibilities like say this apps having to find a solution to their problem by teleporting thru bluetooth to a MacPro Notebook and overcoming all sort of foes in order to bring back the piece of code needed to save the iphone, are hard to resist.
    Of course I am not talking about putting this things in one single scene but highlighting the originality of the ideas conceived and how they can relate to very entertaining stories.
    Keep it up and thanks for sharing.

    • Either the judges are older than generation Y to get it or were saturated with hundreds of scenes to give it a proper read.

      I thought the same thing at first, but then that doesn’t explain their acceptance and understanding of “Solid State.” Different Judges, maybe? Maybe “Undying Devotion” came at the end of a long day, and the judge had no more patience for any script, a la High School English Teacher?

      I was pretty disappointed as well. I thought Undying Devotion was stellar, with the only critique being a bit heavy on the dialogue.

      I can’t shake the feeling that the Judges didn’t seem to understand the concept of the competition at all. They only somewhat understood the elements within the scene, and appeared to not read through the scene’s entirety, skimming at best (again, a la High School English Teacher)… and seemed to expect a complete story arc, apparently thinking the competition was for a self-contained short instead of a scene within a larger script…

  3. Ray permalink

    lol. I just relized something. What “reader” was that guy talking about? Isn’t it suposed to be “viewed?”

    • dorkmanscott permalink

      He was talking about himself in the third person. He’s not viewing anything, he’s reading a scene.

  4. KevinD permalink

    FWIW, I got a 95. Email me if you want to see my scene. I don’t know if it’s kosher to publish it or not until the cut is made. I have no idea what kind of curve they’re working with.

  5. Josh permalink

    It’s great that you are sharing your experiences. It helps the whole writing thing feel much more communal.

    My scene scored a 93, which I am happy to share once the competition comes to an end. Let me know if you’re interested.

  6. ratna permalink

    Well, I have to say that I really agree with Lisandro Di Marco, especially:

    — I was at the edge of my seat and felt utterly disappointed at the fact that there were no more pages after the last. —

    Also, I felt that you were able to embody quite a bit of emotion, even though it was such a short snippet of a larger story. That is not easy, and I felt it was quite gracefully done, too.

    fwiw … from yet another self-appointed critic. 😛

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