Copyright © 2014 by Michael Ray Brown. All rights reserved.
“First rate analysis at a cut-rate price.”
— Creative Screenwriting
Creative Screenwriting magazine reviewed 24 script analysts in its cover story for the March/April issue of 2003. The report’s author, Nancy Hendrickson, placed Story Sense in the “Highly Recommended” category, and rated it the #1 “Best Buy.” This is her review.¹
¹Reprinted with the permission of Nancy Hendrickson Riley.
Since this review was published, we have expanded our analyses to include detailed page notes and format notes, making this an even better value than before.
Read the full text of Michael Ray Brown’s analysis of the script Triple Witching Hour.
You can also view his Development Notes as a PDF file (60 KB). Or, if you prefer, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…” to save the file to your computer.
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Brown never questioned the necessity of keeping the Medina plot, nor did he mention that the FBI disappear from the script after identifying Yasmin, leaving Kevin as the lone investigator. However, he did pick up on and address just about all the discrepancies in tone and many of the credibility gaps — the implausibility of a Muslim group’s leader being female, the fact that Saul and Debby’s faking a crime to make Kevin look good is far-fetched on several fronts, that Omar tries to choke Kevin when he has been ordered to kill him and make it look like an accident (“it seems unlikely... that your average police detective would accidentally choke in the line of duty”) and much more.
Like other analysts, he objected to the coincidental quality of Kevin’s first meeting with Bev, but went a step further, offering a clever solution that would keep what worked from the original scene while making it more organic: “It might seem more natural if he were to first meet her at her office. However, if Bev knew from the start that Kevin was a cop, she might not even allow herself to flirt with him. Perhaps this stumbling block can be overcome by having them ‘meet cute’ while he’s on his way to her office, unaware she’s the person he’s coming to see about obtaining the ‘Mole People’ records.”
Recommendations: First rate analysis at a cut-rate price.
“This weakens the reader’s identification with Kevin. One might argue that jumping back and forth between terrorists and cops enhances suspense, but that’s not necessarily the case. Suspense exists when the protagonist has a clearly defined goal, a goal formed by information that something of dire consequence is about to occur. It’s the apparent hopelessness of achieving this goal in relation to a ticking clock that results in suspense.”
Brown was also very clear about what to do with Yasmin and her terrorist cohorts. “All their scheming, along with Yasmin’s efforts to dispatch weaklings within their ranks, does little to advance the plot.... If we learned about the terrorists at the same time Kevin learned about them, we would identify more strongly with him and be drawn into the story more deeply.”
While many of the analysts thought the solution to making Yasmin more real lay in showing more of her or making her more empathetic, I tend to agree with Brown’s very different assessment: “While it’s certainly important to flesh out the villains and give them an emotional connection to their scheme, the shift of perspective entailed in Yasmin’s flashback tends to make her empathetic, a quality that would more appropriately be reserved for the hero or heroes.”
The service we got: Development Notes, which included seven pages of typed notes, notes written throughout the script, and a phone consultation, which he tapes and sends back.²
Other services offered: One-hour verbal reports with general suggestions for improvement. An hour-long consultation on an outline or treatment.
Impressions: Sometimes it’s not just what an analyst knows or how observant he is, but how well he expresses his observations that makes the difference. Brown writes intelligently and coherently, his command of language helping to illuminate his command of craft.
“The number of personae introduced within the first twenty pages is so large it’s difficult to grasp who is supposed to be the main character.… Trouble is, much of the story is told, not through Kevin’s eyes, but through an omniscient point of view.
Michael Ray Brown
P.O. Box 3757
Santa Monica, CA 90408
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