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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