Thursday, November 07, 2013

(Rookie) Short Script Review: All About Janet

Premise: (from writer): A woman is driven to end her terminally ill husband's life.

Written by: Dustin Bowcott

Technical: 10 pages

"All About Janet" short script link here

I picked this script at random and didn't read through it first. A writer can learn as much from terrible scripts as they can from great scripts (if not more). And short scripts... they're tough to write!

"All About Janet" is overwritten. It's awkward, clunky, and unnatural. I mean yes, Janet's initial interaction with Martin is shocking and stirring. But other than that, Janet's f-bombs (and other foul language) are the most stimulating part of the script. Janet, as a character, comes off as very phony. Just because she has a rude attitude, and says some appalling things, that doesn't automatically give her personality. Des' dialogue (and entire being) is equally painful ("You know why I'm here." "You don't have to you know." "You already know what I mean.") As for the ending, I don't know what to make of it. My vague guess is that Des is actually Janet, and Janet is actually demented, or something along those lines? Even that doesn't sound right at all.

When I read a work that's terrible, I usually find myself thinking something along the lines of, "Just because you write it, that doesn't make it so!" For example, just because a writer writes a baffling ending (like in "All About Janet") that does not automatically make it thoughtful, or ripe for discussion. The sign of a horrid writer is someone who has the worst taste. Because the best writers have an exquisite pallet for good drama. Good writers don't give in to hype, or pressure. Good writers know where their instincts are strongest, and when they need to bring in an outside opinion.

So as a good writer one should know what is universal, and timeless, and good, but at the same time they must block out the world, ignore what everyone says, and only listen to themselves. Sound like a contradiction? Figure it out, and you'll be the next Stephen King.

Trying to critique a script like "All About Janet" is impossible. It's like trying to appraise the singing voice of a mute. A contradiction, to be sure.

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