While I did spend a portion of the 4th of July Weekend partaking of bar-b-que and fireworks, I did also manage to get a couple of scripts out for feedback from new readers. The results came back quickly and were very favorable. No one had any questions about "The Calling." As you may recall, I had several earlier readers express a certain amount of confusion over the ending. One potential producer even indicated he passed on the script because of the 'wild and out there' ending. After some revision on the the third act, I submitted the script to the ScreenCraft Horror competition. Due to the pressing nature of the deadline, I was unable to get any reads before submitting. I was relieved to find the new readers had no questions/issues.
I even pressed the readers and they expressed surprise that anyone would be confused by the ending. Once I explained the previous ending, they all said, "Yeah, that does sound confusing." So, hopefully I've corrected the problem and I can turn my attention to other problems, namely "Come Ups."
The new readers found "Come Ups" to be very enjoyable, quick paced and a little different from the standard, run-of-the-mill action-thriller. They all particularly seemed to like Tyler's death and liked the twist ending where no one gets the goods or the girl. What they didn't like or, to be more precise, whom was Shep. It's not that they disliked him; he just wasn't a typical hero. He wasn't trying to overcome some great obstacle or save someone or take down the bad guys; he was just an average ordinary guy who got caught up in an extraordinary situation that was beyond his control. In the case of one reader, that's exactly what she liked about Shep. He wasn't Indiana Jones taking on the Nazis; he was just Shep who wanted to be left alone and was forced to deal with something he didn't want to be involved with.
That's exactly what producers and agents always say they are looking for: something fresh or a unique take on an old idea. He's not a typical hero. He stands in opposition to what is expected from our heroes while not being an anti-hero either. It may be the very uniqueness of the character that is the problem. He may be too ordinary, too real. It's not that he's not likable, but that he is simply uninteresting, and an uninteresting character is a writer's greatest sin . . . or is it? Maybe he's only uninteresting because he's not interesting in the way we think our heroes should be. Or it could be that if he doesn't have a bigger stake in the story, how can the audience be expected to have a bigger stake?
I'm going to have to take some time and really rethink/re-imagine Shep's role in this story and see how I can revise this script. It seems to be on the verge of being something marketable, but it falls just this short. Between "Come Ups" and "The Devil's Tramping Ground," I should have plenty to work on during my retreat.