When writing (and let’s face it, any endeavor) you always want positive feedback. It fuels you to keep going, knowing you’re on the right path.
Like when a cute chick smiles at you in the food court, or the Subway sandwich maker says she loves your tie or you get lucky at Giant and choose the line with the hot cashier…… I think I might have issues with women and food…
… anyway… I entered one of my shorts into the BlueCat Short Screenplay competition and here is the feedback I received.
Archive # 119, Reader # 5074
“Two Guys, a Girl, and a Parking Space” is a fantastically written short, and it features a vibrant, hilarious sensibility that makes for a tremendously fun read. The dialogue is exceptional and the tone is wonderfully assured; the short is fast, funny, and extremely memorable.
The use of Downtown Joe as a recurring gag is brilliant, and his signs act as wonderful mini-chapter markers as the proceedings unfold. Dan, Chris, and Nadia are all beautifully rendered characters, equal parts sympathetic and fun to watch. While a little thin on plot, the script’s focus on finding a parking space is an incredibly relatable “real world” problem, and it is nice to see it dramatized to such an extent that the audience actually cares about the trio successfully parking their car.
The short also makes great use of locale as an element, and Downtown Baltimore works well as a backdrop for the comedic proceedings. Still, despite its many moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity, “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Parking Space” is ultimately about Dan’s emotional journey, and it is comforting to know that the writer is wise enough to supplement the well-crafted comedy with actual emotionality.
The reader also commented on the ‘thin’ plot, which I knew going in. This was a short that I had intended to film myself – and wanted to keep at ten pages to make it manageable.
The script’s biggest problem is its lack of plot, as the central conflict of Dan and Melissa is not exactly strong enough to act as a solid throughline. While the emotional fallout of Dan and Melissa’s fight works well to underscore the comedy, it’s not the best driving force for the narrative, and it almost gets lost in the shuffle at times. Also, the short ends without any real change for Dan, and it’d be nice to see him change/learn something by the short’s finale. Yes, he explains that he’s “learned a few things today,” but this moment – though funny – feels forced and is not enough to function as true catharsis. Everything else about the short is working exceptionally well, but because of the other standout elements, the plot’s lack of substance is painfully obvious. Still, given the obvious ability of this script’s author, there is little doubt that “Two Guys, a Girl, and a Parking Space” will continue to improve over the course of future revisions.
I centered the plot on ‘Dan’ and his motivation to attend a party because of a falling out he’d had with his girlfriend and a promise to meet her at the party. This was the throughline but I didn’t spend the lion’s share of focus on that ’emotional’ motivation — but as the reader recognized, I understood its importance to the script.
I wanted to end the short on a joke, that satisfied the surface question — will they find a parking space — and not on whether Dan reconciled with his squeeze — the emotional journey. It was a choice, mostly to keep the story at ten pages or so. But the key part is that I made this a choice. I knew the limitation and ‘thinness’ of the plot going in.
The fact that the reader saw this too, makes the praise for the other parts of the story/characters/humor, that much more impactful to me.
And yes, I will now rewrite the short to fulfill the promise of the emotional journey and make this a “complete” story.
It feels good to get positive feedback — but even more so when it guides you to improve your craft and in this case, a specific story.
Thank you reader #5074!
(You can read this short in my Writing Samples, it’s the first one).