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Thread: Writing Contest #112 - Dystopia

  1. #91
    Quote Originally Posted by FreshNightmare View Post
    Thanks MisterPants and Shaun for the help!
    I will be reworking my use of space/panels, and clearing up that 3rd page.
    It is light on plot, which I struggle with. I'll stew on it...
    Light on plot isn't a bad thing if the characters are compelling, imo. I'm really curious why Roman won't eat meat and, as I said in my crits, would be interested in seeing him in this story as someone who is desperately clinging to his old identity for a sense of stability as the world comes down around him.

  2. #92
    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun View Post
    Quicker deadlines works for me, Chris. I have a tendency to put stuff off.

    Here's mine,

    Life Events

    PG 1

    PN 1
    It’s a beautiful sunny day in a clean, idyllic park. Smiling families picnic and fly kites.

    “Who’s next?”

    PN 2
    JOHN CONDIT (white male, 37) walks through the park. He’s dressed in a light colored suit but clashes with the happy families. He is burdened by several large paintings under his arm.
    I'm not sure what this means. Is he angry?

    “John Condit. Office Manager. Single. No kids.”

    PN 3
    Angle on one of the paintings under John’s arm, a painting of a similar idyllic park scene.

    “Looks like another hobbyist.”

    PN 4
    John has his back to us and is crossing the street towards a neo-classical governmental building. The streets are clean and reminiscent Rockwell’s America. The cars in the street are futuristic and sensible.

    “Another? Don’t these people value their lives?”

    PG 2

    PN 1
    John Condit stands in a dark room flanked on either side by his paintings of idyllic daily life. A holoscreen projected above him displays his various social network feeds. A collage of photos, John looking awkward at a party, John sleeping at his office cubicle, John in a painting class. Each photo has reaction icons at the bottom and corresponding number of responses.

    I took up painting this year, I think these show my progress.

    PN 2
    We’ve swapped angles to John’s POV. Five Council Members sit behind podiums in the darkened room. Chief among them is the MODERATOR, a handsome man in his mid 40’s, confident in his power. The rest are mixed races and ages, but one is a black female council member named PARKER in her mid 50’s.

    We’ve reviewed your feed, Mr. Condit. No engagements, no promotions, really no meaningful life events at all this year?

    PN 3
    On John, nervously gesturing to his painting of a boy and his father on a sailboat, both wearing fake, almost disturbingly blank smiles.

    But, I have new hobbies. And I took another writing class.

    PN 4
    On Parker, swiping a floating multi-touch interface holoscreen with disinterest.

    Your third year in that class and you still haven’t been published?

    PN 5
    On John imploring us, his hands outstretched in frustration. John’s blowing it and he knows it.
    This is something I see a lot of people do and that I struggle with as well. It's going to be really hard, if not impossible, for the artist to convey this. If it's significant, I'd have one of the council members tell him to take a deep breath and continue because he hasn't blown it yet. That way we know that he's anxious and things he's blowing it in a way that doesn't rely on having an incredible artist drawing your story.

    My father died in March, don’t I get a bereavement period?

    PN 6
    On the Moderator, looking almost bored, leans his cheek against his fist.

    We had to terminate that policy. Too many people were murdering their loved ones to remain in the collective.

    PG 3

    PN 1
    On the holoscreen above John; the photo collage has changed photos, now we see John practicing the flute, in an archery class, whittling wood.

    “You’re a hobbyist, Mr. Condit. Every year you pad your feed with silly diversions.”

    PN 2
    On the Moderator, looking serious.

    You know we have limited resources in the collective. Anyone who doesn’t post significant life events each year has no place here.

    PN 3
    John rushes forward as two large bailiffs race to restrain him.

    Don’t send me into the Wasteland! Please--
    (linked – burst)
    I beg you!

    PN 4
    The bailiffs have John by either arm and are dragging him away from the council members, who are all on their feet in alarm.

    I have friends who get married just to divorce the next year. All to post a life event! You must see it.
    They’re hamsters on a wheel!

    PN 5
    We’re stationed over the council member’s shoulders, now seated, as the bailiffs drag John out the door.

    At least they’re moving, Mr. Condit.
    The council finds you are not living your life to its potential and must be purged.

    PG 4

    PN 1
    The Moderator and Parker stand in front of a large wall in a wooded area. They’re dressed casually both in sunglasses. Two armed guards stand beside them, also in sunglasses.

    It’s still shocks me that some people would rather die than live a meaningful life.

    PN 2
    John walks toward us, his head bowed. He has changed into dark clothing and wears a backpack. He’s flanked on either side by armed guards wearing sunglasses.

    PARKER (off panel)
    I only wish we had learned the secret to utopia before destroying half our world, sir.

    PN 3
    The Moderator and Parker have parted for John to pass. The wall behind them is in the process of opening to allow John out. Through the crack in the wall we see only light. John covers his eyes, having never seen sunlight this bright.


    PN 4
    The Moderator hands John a black book. John, still dazed by the light, looks surprised by the gift.

    Die well, John Condit.

    PN 5
    Parker leans in close to whisper to the Moderator.

    What’d you give him?

    A journal. He liked to write.

    PN 6
    On John walking towards us through a scorched desert wasteland, devoid of life albeit a few skeletons. In the distance behind him the massive wall of the collective and buildings therein. We should be able to make out the refraction on the dome that covers the collective, protecting the inhabitants from the strong sun.

    “Maybe in death he’ll find the meaning his life lacked.”

    PG 5

    PN 1
    John treks through the desert, his sleeves torn off and used as head wraps. He still wears the backpack but it looks less full.

    JOHN CAPTION (in handwriting on lined paper, from his journal)
    Day 9. Water ration gone. Endless desolation. Did the Moderator think it would be ironic if I used this pencil to kill myself?

    PN 2
    John kneels beside a stream, whittling a stick. He’s shirtless, his face is scruffy and he looks trimmer.

    Day 21. All my hobbies seem to be coming in handy.

    PN 3
    John fires a bow and arrow at a fleeing deer. His pants are cut short, his chest broad, his beard thick.

    Day 45. Radiation levels must be low. Flora and fauna seem healthy.

    PN 4
    On John, lounging beside a tree at dusk. He’s dressed in animal fur. A small campfire burns beside him. He writes in his journal with the nub of a pencil.

    I’ve lost track of the days. The Moderator must know the truth of the wasteland. Far from a waste, for me it provides what I've always wanted…

    PN 5
    Tighter on John, the journal resting on his lap, his hands by his side. His head back as he drifts off to sleep, a genuine smile curving his lips.

    …An uneventful life.
    This is ****ing amazing. Really and truly, what a mother****ing homerun.

  3. #93
    Quote Originally Posted by Almayer View Post
    Sorry James. I've made some room now, please try again! The inbox with max 10 messages is really poor
    There are people here who have been sent more than ten messages? omg I'm so unpopular

  4. #94
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Los Angeles, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Dredd View Post
    It's a solidly written story, very easy to follow as a reader, but it feels like nothing really happens. He comes in, orders a water, gives two fugitives a chance to surrender, kills them and then leaves.

    As it is, I feel like there's no reason for it to be set in an irradiated future with mutants and if you took these elements out you'd be left with a really straightforward cowboy scene that is pretty much standard in every western movie.

    I like him ordering a fresh water, not the shit the wasters get. That was a really nice touch.

    EDIT: just read further into the thread and saw it's part of a larger story, which makes my crits somewhat irrelevant. As a reader, though, I would suggest you have something unpredictable happen in the scene because this feels like it's the most standart cowboy scene there is.
    I appreciate the feedback. I was trying to make it stand alone as well as be part of a bigger storyline. I am working on a series of stories called Tales From The Wasteland. I will rewrite and try to add a little more to the next version.

  5. #95
    Thanks for the feedback Joseph Dredd,

    You're dead on about the wording for, "John blowing it". I need to tell the artist how I envision showing that. Probably sweat running down his face. Also, I should be more clear on the park scene on 1.2; instead of poetically implying things I need to be specific. I struggle with that at times.

    I really appreciate your taking the time to read all these scripts and give feedback. It's super helpful to get an artist's opinion!

  6. #96
    I don't know why. I was finding this script hard to follow because of the way it's structured. Will go back and reread it before I vote.

    Speech Balloon - Ria

    is a lot harder to read than

    Ria - speech balloon

    imo. I was pulled out of the script because I was constantly double-checking who was speaking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris2.0 View Post
    And here's my entry...

    Like I've said previously - changed this so many times... Originally I had the main characters discuss their plans in her apartment, but had to cut for space. Also cut the bit where there was a different leader of the rebels, and then he's ripped to pieces by the masses when they find out the power is off and that they'd slowly die - that's where the "As long as you die first" line came from.

    Just not sure about the final line of dialogue - should I cut this? And too much dialogue on some other pages...


    A woman, working to overthrow a totalitarian regime, is tortured after she's caught. She claims innocence, but The Man (and video evidence) says otherwise. And The Man has robot torturers to assist him. But then the bots power down, just as they were about to torture her again, and she frees herself. She takes out The Man, and then has to wait for her partner in crime to open the door, for them to rule this brave new world together.


    • The woman – Ria – skinny from malnourishment. Short hairstyle. Helena Bonham Carter if you want.
    • The Man – older male in his 50’s/60’s. Sam L Jackson if you want.
    • The bots – headless/faceless bipedal bots.
    • The Manageress – Ophelia - older female in her 40’s. if you want.
    • The Elder – Barain Obhu – the last president of the country that used to be the USA, now only one city remains of this. (Morgan Freeman)
    • Ric – Ria’s brother - Rico Wayd. (Edward Norton as a skinhead with a beard)


    • Inside a torture chamber in the building’s sub-basement.
    • Flashbacks to the Frail Elder car wing of a high-rise building.

    Page 1 (4 panels):
    Panel 1
    Establishing shot of the city of the future skyline with its gleaming towers and what looks like cloud cover, but actually smog. This is a backdrop panel, so art should bleed to the edges of the page – from the skyline above, and then the dirty, smoggy street level of the underclasses. This panel goes to the bottom of the page, showing section of city from the top to dirty bottom. The other panels are stacked below this one. If space allows there can be flying cars above, but normal wheeled cars below at the bottom of this backdrop panel, maybe with a police drone or two. Note to colorist – was thinking of having this take place at sunset or rise, so lot of yellow, gold/orange/red colors above, going down to darker greys and blues below.

    1. Caption (top left):

    NewTopia, the only remaining city in what used to be the USA.

    2. Speech balloon (no tail) - Ria (right side of panel):

    No! Not agai--

    Panel 2
    Extreme close-up on Ria’s face, as she’s in the chair, screaming. There’s a metal cap on her head, similar to this (, just a bit more streamlined. Wires force her eyes and mouth open, and there are metal tendrils going into her mouth.

    3. SFX (around the tendrils in her mouth):

    4. Speech balloon - Ria (burst):

    Panel 3
    Zoomed out, we see Ria and we see she’s actually strapped down into a reclining metal & plastic chair – similar to this (
    https://burrellosubmarinemovies.file...errogation.jpg ). Behind the chair, on the left & right of it - we should see 2 bots – faceless, standing by. At the foot side of the chair we see The Man sitting in a chair, looking at Ria & talking. We see what she’s wearing – a long grey bodystocking, covering her torso, shoulders and upper legs. With probes and wiring going into the chest and stomach area of the clothing she’s wearing.

    5. Speech balloon - Ria:

    6. Speech balloon – The Man:
    Ria, I can make it stop anytime…

    Panel 4
    POV from above, showing Ria and The Man, as well as now 2 bots. Ria’s talking, looking at The Man.

    7. Speech balloon - Ria:
    I’ve told you everything… I swear…

    8. Speech balloon – The Man:
    Oh, I’m not quite so sure.

    9. Linked speech balloon – The Man:

    10. Linked speech balloon- Ria (burst):

    Page 2 (6 panels):
    All the panels in this page should have wavy/different panel borders from the last page, to indicate this is a flashback.

    Panel 1
    Panel showing Ria and a manager of an old-age center where she’s found work. They are standing in a non-descript office. The manageress is dressed in a pantsuit. Ria is dressed in a white disposable caretaker’s/nurse’s outfit.

    1. Caption (top left):
    I…I…started at the Frail Care wing just after the New Year.

    2. Speech balloon – The Woman:
    Looks like everything’s in place - DNA samples, background checks and contract.

    3. Linked speech balloon – The Woman:
    You’ve been hired to look after our eldest resident.

    4. Speech balloon - Ria:
    Yes ma’am, thank you ma’am…

    5. Linked speech balloon – The Woman:
    Follow me…

    Panel 2
    The manageress and Ria are now standing in front of an elderly African-American man, who is sitting down. Go for some Morgan Freeman if you want, just more wrinkled and wisps of white hair on his head.

    6. Speech balloon – The Woman:
    Here he is – Mr Obhu

    7. Linked speech balloon – The Woman:
    He does not care for assistance by robotic help - that is why you are here.

    Panel 3
    Ria is bending down to be closer to eye-level with the elderly man, her hand reached out to his. His hand is not raised yet.

    8. Speech balloon - Ria:
    Good afternoon, sir.

    9. Speech balloon – The Woman:
    Don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t acknowledge you--

    Panel 4
    Over the shoulder shot from behind Ria showing the elderly man, his hand now grasping hers.

    10. Speech balloon – Elder:
    Now, now Mrs O…

    11. Linked speech balloon – Elder:
    I‘ll shake hands with just about any…person.

    12. Linked speech balloon – Elder:
    Just not the damn robots you keep on bringing to take “care” of me…

    Panel 5
    Panel showing Ria taking a tray with plates still overflowing with food into the kitchen, where bots are working. Should be fairly modern, so lots of white tile and stainless steel. A waste chute should be visible on the right-hand side of the panel, labelled as such as well.

    13. Caption (top left):
    The worst wasn’t the treatment I got, but having to throw out real food day after day…

    14. Computer lettering over waste chute door:
    Food waste

    Panel 6
    Panel showing Ria (in dirty street clothes, wearing a big patched trench coat) walking away from the building, but at ground level – so dirty and smoggy. The building behind her, shining in the dirtiness, is where she works. And the entrance should be protected by 2 bots on either side of the metal doors, similar to the ones shown before. Above the entrance should be the words - Cloud Towers. On the right-hand side of the panel please show the waste spout from the building where she worked. And there’s a small crowd of people waiting around this, with plastic bags and bins. On the building there should be cameras and in the sky around the building there should be flying drones, taking pictures and video of everything.

    15. Caption (top left):
    …while people were starving outside...

    16. Caption (below previous caption):
    And constantly living in fear...

    17. Computer lettering above entrance:
    Cloud Towers

    18. Speech balloon – Crowd:
    Mommy, I’m so hungry…

    19. Speech balloon – Crowd:
    Quick! Get it before the recycle bots arrive!

    20. Computer lettering over waste spout:
    Food waste

    21. Caption (top right):
    So just why did you work there at all?

    Page 3 (7 panels):
    Only the first & fourth panels to have a wavy/different panel border - to indicate these are flashbacks.

    Panel 1
    Panel showing Ria standing by huge floor to ceiling windows, still dressed in her white disposable caretaker’s/nurse’s outfit, looking out at the clouds (smog actually) just beneath the floor she’s in. This makes it look like she’s above the clouds.

    1. Caption (top left):
    It was…the view… It felt like I was…up in the clouds.

    Panel 2
    Back to the small room, similar to the last panel on Page 1, Ria lying down, strapped in, while the old man on the right of the chair slams his fist down on the chair Ria is lying on. The bots should be at least partially visible at the top of the panel.

    2. Speech balloon – The Man (burst):

    3. Linked speech balloon – The Man:
    We have the video footage!

    4. SFX (where his fist strikes the chair):

    Panel 3
    Close-up on Ria’s face as she acts surprised.

    5. Speech balloon – Ria:

    6. Linked speech balloon – Ria:

    7. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    I’d never…

    Panel 4
    Back to a flashback panel, showing Ria near the sleeping Elder & she has his wrist/hand in hers, as she places it on a handheld device with LED lights and with a square fingerprint reader on the top. Note to letterer - on the right of the screen I’d like a bit of text pasted, to show a log of sorts.

    8. Tail-less speech balloon – The Man:

    9. Linked tail-less speech balloon – The Man:
    What did you upload?

    10. Computer lettering – to the right of the panel:
    2036/02/13 @ 23:17:34
    Fingerprint authenticated: Barain Obhu
    File uploaded to ClouDrive

    Panel 5
    Back to normal panels from here on, with a side-view of Ria, still strapped in the chair, and The Man, shouting at her.

    11. Speech balloon – Ria:
    Nothing! It’s not what it looks like!

    12. Speech balloon – The Man:
    We’ll have to see about that!

    13. Linked speech balloon – The Man:
    Bots! Code 007.

    Panel 6
    On Ria again, as she shouts when the 2 bots move closer to her.

    14. Speech balloon – Ria (burst):

    Panel 5
    Small inset panel of Ria’s face as a sharp object draws blood on her cheek.

    15. Offpanel speech balloon – Bot (radio):
    Starting incision on subjec--

    Page 4 (6 panels):

    Panel 1
    Panel showing Ria still strapped into the reclining chair, but the robots that were flanking her chair has now powered off! So they’re in the process of bowing down from the waist, going into power-down mode, so need some motion lines for this. Their long, thin robotic fingers are still spread out over Ria’s lap and arms. And now Ria has a smile on her face, as she’s been waiting for this to happen. On the right side of the panel The Man is still sitting, shocked. The lighting in this panel should be darker than the previous or next panels.
    I feel like a BOOOOOOP sound effect inserted into the motion lines of the bots getting depowered would help convey that they were depowered.

    1. SFX (near Ria’s hands):

    2. Speech balloon – The Man:
    What the hell just happened?

    3. SFX (near the man’s pocket):

    Panel 2
    Close-up on The Man as he answers his phone – he’s standing, and with his back turned to the chair. He’s holding the phone in front of his body, busy with a video call, and is illuminated by the glow coming off his phone. The phone should be like Tony Stark’s phone in Iron Man 2, just to show this is not the same time period as now -

    4. Speech balloon – The Man:
    What?! Explosion at the power plant?!

    5. Linked speech balloon – The Man:
    Dammit, she wasn’t working alone!

    Panel 3
    Close-up on Ria, as she’s loosened herself from the chair. And in her hands, we see pieces of the bot’s tentacle fingers that she used to slice the straps holding her.
    I'm unsure how we would tell she has used them to cut herself free. I think we need to see one cut manacle hanging as she uses her free arm to cut her other arm free.

    6. Speech balloon – Ria:

    7. Speech balloon – Ria:

    8. Speech balloon – Ria:

    Panel 4
    Ria is coming closer to The Man, who’s still standing on the right of the panel. She’s holding up one of the tentacle fingers up at him.

    9. Speech balloon – Ria:
    So, my little upload finally worked…

    10. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    The power’s off - no one’s coming to rescue you…

    11. Speech balloon – The Man:
    But the air, water and food systems… The security systems - we’ll all die!

    Panel 5
    Close-up on The Man, as Ria is using a piece of the bot’s tentacle fingers to give the man a similar cut to his face that she got!

    12. Speech balloon – Ria:
    As long as you die first…

    13. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    This is payback for everything all of you has ever done to me…us...

    Panel 6
    Insert panel, with just the lettering below arranged from top to bottom.

    14. SFX:

    Page 5 (4 panels):

    Panel 1
    Similar panel to P4, panel 1, but now The (dead) Man is lying on the chair, with the tentacle knife sticking out of his forehead. Robots still bowing, offline. Ria is on the right side of the panel, holding The Man’s phone in front of her & dialing. She is illuminated by the glow coming off it as well.

    1. Speech balloon – Ria:

    2. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    Hey little brother…

    3. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    D’you think the oppressed masses will buy this look?

    Panel 2
    Panel showing a video-chat app-like window, with the main screen showing the person Ria is talking to Ric, her brother. Then a smaller window on the right of the screen/panel shows Ria, with her bloodied face. Note to letterer - above this side window there should be some call-related data info, to be done by computer lettering.

    4. Speech balloon – Ric:
    Ria, where the hell did they take you?!

    5. Speech balloon – Ria:
    The Cloud Tower sub-basements, and pretty sure there are a lot of other persons of interest here as well. Not that we'll be freeing them of course...

    6. Linked speech balloon – Ric:
    Everything is going just as you planned – with the bots and life support systems off, the people are rising up…

    7. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    Great. I take it you still have full access to the system through the virus I uploaded?

    8. Computer lettering – above Ria’s chat window.
    Location: Unknown
    Name: Riannon Wayd
    Age: 29
    History: No crimes, no misdemeanors.
    DNA check: Confirmed.

    Panel 3
    Ria is standing by the exit door of the room, with her hand on the handle. Next to it should be a fingerprint reader, with a sign on it that shows it is still “Locked”.

    9. Speech balloon – Ria:
    Let’s meet at the Power Plant, to livestream switching on the power – then we’ll be the ones ruling.

    10. Linked speech balloon – Ria:
    Ric, open the door.

    11. Computer lettering (over fingerprint reader):

    Panel 4
    Close-up on Ric, smiling.

    12. Speech balloon – Ric:
    Sorry sis, was just thinking about that…

    13. Linked speech balloon – Ric:
    Why shouldn't I be the ruler? Something I’ve learned from you, big sis – you always looked out for yourself, the rest of us always came second...

    14. Linked speech balloon – Ric:
    And one more thing - watch out for the bots, when the power comes back on, they’ll resume with their last command.

    The End
    Interesting story. Is she supposed the hero? I thought she was, until the brother said he learned to be evil from her.

    I feel like the twist ending could use a different twist, but I'm not sure what to suggest. It seems like you were building up to something epic, but finished with some petty backstabbing between siblings. Since we never saw the brother earlier, it lacks some power, imo.

    I also feel like it's pretty essential to the story that the old guy was the last president of the USA. It would answer a lot of questions the readers might have. Does the script ever reveal that the old guy was the last president? I don't think it does.

  7. #97
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    South Africa
    Blog Entries
    Hi J Dredd, thanks for the crit! We missed you this time around - hope to see you next time...

    Good point on the Speech Balloon - will change my script template to reflect this in the future. Actually busy with a 5 pager for an Australian artist at the moment, so can do it there, will upload the script for a crit/review when done...

    Good idea with the "BOOOOOOP" SFX - I pretty much suck at this, so any/all help's appreciated.

    And good catch on the cutting the manacle - will update my script.

    I think the confusion comes from all the various changes I made to the story - at one time she was supposed to be the unwitting accomplice to a slogan-spewing commie-wannabe, and then when he reveals that he knew that knocking out the power was going to kill them all, she was supposed to be leader of the pack to kill him.

    Yeah, good twist endings can be hard... Another one i had planned was to have the rebel mob break into the building, and then find all the human rulers dead, so the remaining humans was ruled over by the AI and robots for countless years...

    And no - didn't really go to much into the backstory of the old Prez, so that's a good indication to either skew the story more to him, maybe making him the torturer? Or work him into the ending somehow. Or cut out what we have of him and her together, then can spend more time on her motivation to do what she did, as well as her brother, and maybe the torturer?

    I need to cut down the characters and/or story in future - to be able to fit something where one can have at least limited character development & some changes at least. I liked what Shaun did with his Life Events story, and he put in some pretty good commentary on society's preoccupation with social networking status...

    In any case - will come back to this after the 5-page Genship AI vs precog/superspeed heptapod aliens story!

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