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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sympathetic Villains and the Good Idea Fairy

20th August 2016

Hay (Person),

After looking at your comments from the other day I’m starting to wonder what it is you intend to do with my script. If the intent is to sell the property then what you’re selling is the overall concept, and the changes you suggested really are a poor fit for that goal.

If a contract had been signed and a director then felt that the villains were too sympathetic then not only would I need to make that change, but I’d get paid to make that change. The other alternative is that they hire a script doctor to make changes, and I have no creative control. Regardless, this change would not alter your pitch for the script and that’s what’s important.

Normally a sympathetic villain is considered a good thing for a script. The audience needs a strong reason to stay invested in the characters on screen. Sympathy for a villain that you clearly want to lose is very powerful.  Removing that will have a negative impact on the work.

If there is one thing that can kill a good script it’s more good ideas. In the United States Army they call this the “Good Idea Fairy”. You’re making cookies and you get the idea to add walnuts. Now that’s a good idea. Then comes along the “Good Idea Fairy” and tells you to add raisins. Well, that’s a good idea too. Then that good old Fairy says “how about some nutmeg?” Not a bad thing either. The only problem is that if you add as many good ideas as you can think of you wind up with cookies that taste like everything and nothing all at once.

Now I’ve gone over the script hundreds of times and I wrote it in a class with a professional screenwriter. It’s rather tight and adding anything needs to be taken with the idea of adding action without taking any away. I’d say the first half of the script is kind of slow, and I’d add action to that if I could, but there is no more room for exposition.

The origin of the “Walker” or “Grass Man” is a point best left for a sequel as well as the larger evil controlling the villains. For that matter, it should be understood that Karl is at the end of his strength by the time this is over, and I have written ideas for a sequel that point to him having been in a coma for a few days after this event.

His powers are somewhat new to him and the need to have them is where they come from. Thus a well thought-out battle will definitely fight the action of the script.

At the end of the day you need to remember that you’re some fellow who hasn’t given me his real name with a nebulas goal for my work.  If your goal isn’t to get this script sold and in production than this isn’t worth the time.


Richard Leland Neal

Monday, January 2, 2017


7th December 2016
Mr. (School Official),

If I may express myself neatly, I attended a class entitled “How to Become a Professional Film and TV Writer” and after several hours I felt no closer to that occupation than I was before the class. Further along those lines, the professor of this class was a Hollywood agent and not a writer.  It constitutes a conflict of interest for me as a writer to pay an agent for anything other than selling a script.

I’ll grant you that this was a free class, but before I got in the door I found something was not right with your program. Then I would have to point out that I checked the facts reported in the class and found that some of them were inconsistent with information on If you want my money I expect the professor to do their homework just like the student. Failing to check facts is like failing to read student work. This would be the very basic requirements for teacher and your professor came up short.

Then we have your professor telling the class about the most prominent script she had sold. She mentioned that she had been asked for a similar script by other studios and complained to them that they had not wanted that script when she offered it to them. I would expect the professional agent to sell the studios what they want. If you want a car this week and come in next week asking for an SUV the dealer is not going to get huffy and complain about what you asked for last week. They would just be happy to sell you whatever you want.

I could go on about foul language and inappropriate jokes, but let me hit it from another angle. The best advertisement your program can have is success. If I had attended that class and gone on to be a professional writer you would have a clear example of your classes paying off. Further, I would then have the money to invest in more education. In the contrary, if I knew how to look for work as a writer but failed to obtain it my next question would be ‘why’, leaving the need for more education a possibility.

In short, I wasn’t happy with your program when it was free and now you fail to understand why I’m not paying for your services. If Hollywood were populated with your students and they spoke highly of you things would be different. However, I have no faith in your program as an investment.

I would recommend you contact me when you’ve made major changes to the quality of your education and have another free class for me to examine. In the mean time your extended deadlines only prove to me that classes are going unfilled and that other students have the same skepticism.

Kind regards,

Richard Leland Neal