General Analysis

Feature Film

There’s a killer opening hook to this screenplay. All of the elements you could possibly want in an Action hook are present. The incidental characters we meet in this scene are nonetheless sharp-tongued and funny thanks to some truly enjoyable and well-crafted dialogue. The action is described skillfully and indicates the strange excitement of the rising island, and the potential, mysterious horror of the fact that something seems to be alive on it. There is destruction, violence and mystery in addition to humor, humanity and drama. When the scene ends, I was thinking, “What the heck is going on?” – not in a confused way, but in a way that made me turn the page to the next scene as quickly as possible to find out. Highly effective work in this first scene!

The set up and the first act break hit the perfect beats between inciting incident and the character’s call to action. Caleb, the story’s central character is developed in such a way that his willingness, even if it is reluctant willingness, to embark on what may seem like a fool’s errand makes perfect logical sense. He is a drunk, a gambler, and an all around miserable failure that happens to have a deep knowledge of mythology and lore of legendary “lost” cities. His desperation is what makes him the perfect candidate for the job. Though the writer convincingly portrays Caleb as a bit of a sad sack, he also manages to make him somehow likeable, which is tantamount to this story working. His character begins in a place, also, that has the potential for a lot of improvement, redemption, or transformation over the course of the story arc. The inciting incident is John’s offer to take Caleb to the City of Caesar’s, and the act break comes when Caleb decides to take action and accept the offer. With all of this combined, the first act sets the story on its way with a strong push. The only thing I noticed on which the writer could have been clearer was the fact that John was preparing to film a show about the city for a network – I didn’t understand this until page 27, when they had already gotten on the plane to go.

When Amy is recruited to join the group, I felt a bit disappointed that the writer didn’t allow the audience to see how she was finally convinced at the moment John and Caleb give her the pitch. Instead the writer chooses to cut away at this moment to John’s admission that he chose Amy specifically for her and Caleb’s history. I think that her recruitment was stretched out a bit longer than necessary. Rather than showing Caleb her picture on the plane, it may have been more interesting from a dialogue and relationship standpoint to have John ambush him with Amy in the bar. This way, their dialogue could be relied upon to tell us their back-story, but to do so with greater emotional impact, and more powerful fireworks. Once they calmed down somewhat, I the writer could have shown us the pitch that convinces Amy to join the crew. The writer is using all of the right elements in these scenes; I just didn’t necessarily feel like he utilized them to their maximum effect. Rather than accomplishing her intro in two scenes, the writer takes three. Generally speaking, if you can achieve the same or better effect in fewer scenes, it’s good to do so. As a result of this sort of scene structure, it did feel as though it took the characters a bit too long to reach Brazil. As enjoyable as the team’s introductions were, and they definitely were, they should have been accomplished in a little bit less time.

As the crew arrives on the island, the action does indeed start to pick up quite enjoyably. When the story reaches its midpoint, a few developments have added some menace and some mystery to the proceedings. The writer has a great instinct for when to drop a few new dangling carrots into the story in order to keep the audience on its toes. For example, John and Stephen clearly have an ulterior motive for visiting this island. The writer gives stronger and stronger hints at this motive before finally using the reveal to great effect later. Also, the boat’s captain, in trying to bail out the leak fails to notice some scurrying figure(s) on the deck. This reminds us of the figures we glimpsed in the beginning and let us know that there was far more to come before the characters reached the end of their journey. And, finally, the crew discovers fresh corpses in the cave wearing U.S. Air Force uniforms. The writer simply did a lovely job keeping the action taut and suspenseful throughout the trickier sections of the second act, holding up the midpoint of the script with a dramatic turn in action to draw the story ever closer to the climax.

When Nick leaves the characters on the rock face above the lake to die, I was surprised by this turn of events. It seemed to come out of nowhere. Stephen, who disappeared in the cave, seemed to be the shifty one along with John. Nick was portrayed as an adventurer, but there was never too much of a hint that he was also ruthless. I think that the writer could have created a better lead-in to this moment than he did, so that it would have more of a feeling of pay-off when Nick gives into his character’s less desirable instincts. And whereas Nick’s character gained these characteristics later in the story, I felt that the writer also could have done more to bring some of the dimensionality he created for Caleb into the scenes on the island. I felt like certain aspects of his personality – his self-defeatism, his alcoholism – weren’t factored into his behavior after they landed. The action was intense and perfectly suited to a good, rollicking adventure story, but the characters were sometimes lost in the action.

Finally, I think it would have been fun to have learned a little more lore about the City of the Caesars than we do in this draft. The appearance of the creatures with “deep water gigantism” is fun, but it might have been cool for the ancient residents to have beefed up the proceedings with some good traps or something – anything to tie their lore with the action.

TV Pilot

I thought that the writers chose an interesting subject matter on which to base this pilot. I think that the inner workings of a talent agency could definitely provide enough material to support a series. New clients and new projects have the potential to create endless story lines. The writers also provide us with Choate and Andover, both young people involved in the business, and their uncle who runs the agency as the primary characters in the pilot. I think that the dynamic definitely works between the characters and the setting, so overall, the writers are off to a good start.

Though this is the pilot, and we are tasked with getting to know the characters, the writers should take care to avoid awkwardness in providing exposition. I think that Andover’s failed attempt at comedy worked, because the broken suitcase distracted from the fact that we were being provided with back-story. However, I thought that Forest’s “How could I forget my famous niece Choate, soap star, future Oscar winner!” was quite awkward. This felt primed for exposition rather than a natural-sounding bit of dialogue from uncle to niece. I would suggest that the writers find a more casual way to introduce Choate to the audience. Even a simple, “How’s life for my little soap star?” sounds more natural. I felt the same when Forest says “And my unforgettable though not yet famous nephew, Andover!”

I was a bit confused that the kids didn’t know that Forest worked for the Brownstone talent agency, or that they had taken over the building. If Brownstone had tried to pitch representation to Choate several times, it seems likely that Michaela would have utilized the family connection to try to get her signed, and less likely that Forest wouldn’t have mentioned it and hoped to be hired (as a receptionist) on his own merit. Also, if the kids didn’t know that Brownstone now owned the building or that Forest worked for the agency, the writers could have made clear that it had been a while since they had seen or talked to their uncle. I felt that more of this episode than necessary dealt with explaining why Forest hadn’t mentioned that he was related to Choate. These sections, for me, slowed down the comedy and the action. I think that the writers could have dealt with this in a more concise manner.

In general, it often felt that the writers were reaching a bit too far for the comedic antics in the script, and weren’t doing quite enough to develop characters that an audience would want to tune in to each week. I didn’t feel like I had a very good sense of either Choate or Andover other than a short list of their quirks. Andover is always sort of manic and enthusiastic, but I didn’t get any sense of what he was thinking, or what he may have felt inside. Choate is portrayed as having a bit of an inflated sense of self-worth. These qualities, while they may lend themselves to wacky comedic situations don’t amount to much more than a two-dimensional shadow of humanism. Without characters that are endearing and identifiable to the audience, quirky comedy is not enough to hang a whole series on, especially if one of the main comedic scenes involves imaginary floating alien dog poop. The kids’ mother just left them for a bit, dropping them off with their seemingly estranged uncle to live in an office basement or conference room. However, I never got much of a sense of how this made the twins feel. Their reaction to their mother uprooting their lives and dropping them off at Brownstone was incredibly laissez faire. Having characters that show so little emotion makes the rest of the script feel hollower than it should. At 43 pages (more on this later), the writers have more than enough space to do a bit more character work.

In terms of the script length, it is unclear to me whether the writers have written a long half hour sitcom, or a short hour long comedy/drama. I feel like the set up and the content of the script is probably more suited to sitcom length, in which case the writers would need to cut it down by 20 pages to format it for commercial television. If, instead, the writers desire to make an hour long show, they’ll need to add about five. As I said above, those five pages could be a great opportunity to do more with the characters. Cutting the script down to a half-hour format, however, might also give the writers to make the script leaner in some of the places where I felt the script was dawdling, such as the above-mentioned scene where Michaela expresses her surprise at Choate and Andover’s presence in her office.

In general, I thought that the story arc of the pilot was not as strong as it should have been. The story read more as a collection of comedic vignettes than a solid three or five act plot structure. There was no clear central conflict in the episode to guide the action, and therefore, most of it felt manic and a bit sloppy. The pacing was alternately slow and rapid, and I think that much of this is due to the lack of a foundation in the plotting. I think that in future rewrites, it is important that the writers strip the story down and examine its structure, creating the important moments in the plot that should occur before the commercial breaks that will instill a desire in the audience to tune in again when those breaks are over. The action lacked the cause-and-effect scene progression that a central conflict might help provide. For example, Choate arrives at Brownstone to live, doesn’t seem to have luggage or need to unpack, but goes directly into just deciding randomly to audition for a combat bra commercial. If she is a serious actress, or at least a self-styled serious actress, this seems like an odd choice for her to make. Also, the fact that the kids dive right into business in their new office home lends an air of unreality to the proceedings as well. It is not enough to collect several wacky comedic moments. The writers need to structure these in a way that is grounded in some sort of realism that showcases the characters’ reactions to their new surroundings.

Feature Film

I think that the writer is wise in her instinct to create a framing device to this story that begins toward the end of the story, developing a sense of mystery about how the story will eventually get into that courtroom. However, instinct aside, I think that it’s important that there is enough in this scene onto which the reader can hold. I found the two brief scenes – one of a rat in a maze, and one in a courtroom sans discernible dialogue – more puzzling than intriguing. In the writer’s description of Kurt’s court table, she mentions “Lena Schuld’s empty chair.” At this point in the script, we have no clue who Lena Schuld is, so I think that it might allay at least some confusion if the writer simply describes an empty chair, without the possessive. Besides the confusing aspect, a writer should take care not to describe anything that cannot be surmised visually anyway. Later, it will become clear that Lena Schuld is the one missing from the chair. In the meantime, the writer might consider providing a bit more dialogue to entice the reader into continuing with the story. She should aim to give just enough of a glimpse of these 2006 events to lead the reader into believing that the ending is serious and interesting enough that the story that leads to it must also be interesting. I didn’t quite get that sense in this opening, though I know that the intention for me to get it was there.

Despite some flaws in the character introductions which I will mention shortly, I felt that the writer showed great tenderness for Monika and Kurt during the scenes of their courtship and early marriage. Though Kurt had painful secrets he needed to reveal, I liked that Monika always took them in stride, and allowed her love for Kurt to remain unwavering. I felt that this added heart to the story, which did create a feeling of endearment in me as a reader. However, aside from this heart and this tenderness for the characters, I thought that the writer’s execution of the characters’ story in the first section of the screenplay was rhythmically problematic. The writer has the characters going through some tough emotional times, but the reader never gets much of a chance to settle with them and see how those times affect the characters, because as soon as they appear, the writer jumps to another scene from their relationship. In general, I felt as though, rather than getting a full picture of how these two characters constructed a life together, I was being given a book of their life and then given only a moment to flip through it and pick up some key points. I felt that this Cliff’s Notes approach to storytelling did the story a disservice. When Kurt tells Monika that he is a cross-dresser, she takes this admirably in stride, but as soon as the initial revelation happens, she leaves for Canada and we don’t rejoin them until her return. Personally, I would have been interested to see how she and Kurt navigated the times where they were trying to figure out how to allow his cross-dressing to be more comfortable between them – perhaps the first time he wears women’s clothes when he is with his wife, rather than waiting until he starts to take estrogen to show how this interaction might be. This jerky, terse, collection of scenes feels jarring. It makes it difficult to get to know the characters in a way that allows the reader to fully connect with them. The writer should allow them to stand still for a while. It is not as important to hit every point of their life as it is to convey a feeling of that life in select scenes, especially when that life is as complicated as this couple’s.

Part of the problem of flipping through scenes so quickly is that it requires too much exposition in the dialogue to denote the passage of time. Too much exposition in dialogue makes for stiff, unnatural-sounding conversations. For example, on page 26, Kurt and Monika are in a paddle boat celebrating their anniversary. Kurt says, “We’re old people. Twelve years.” Monika replies, “Seventeen years together.” This is the kind of dialogue that, if you’re not careful, can take the audience right out of the story. It feels less like dialogue that people would speak to each other naturally, and more like dialogue that they are speaking only for the audience’s benefit. Clearly, both of them are well aware of how many years they’ve been together, so these statements feel forced. Without scenes that are chronologically continuous, this happens too often, giving the writer one more reason to settle more firmly into the story’s natural progression, as opposed to flipping from one Very Important Relationship Moment to the next.

As the story goes on, I felt like I was missing more and more. Monika goes to Miami, leaving Sara with Kurt and Reginald. But since we’ve only caught glimpses of Sara’s life up to that point, I didn’t quite understand why Kurt had become such an angry, terse father, and was downright baffled that either Kurt or Monika would let a convicted child molester stay in their home with their child no matter who he was or what his sexual preference. These moments desperately needed more insight into the characters’ inner worlds and thoughts. I started to feel like I was really losing my grasp on who these characters where and what made them tick. While Kurt fails to bond with Sara, there is nary a mention of his transexuality. To me, this is the most complex and interesting part of the story, and I would’ve liked to have seen the writer maintain her focus on this as the primary spine of this plot. Everything should relate back to this very singular, confusing, and frightening experience for both Kurt and Monika, because this is what sets these characters apart from run-of-the-mill struggling couples. Since we don’t know what is going on in Kurt’s mind and heart, he just comes across as a puzzlingly mean individual after his children are born. He is so uniformly unpleasant, in fact, that it is equally puzzling, even before the sexual abuse allegations, that a supposedly highly intelligent woman like Monika wouldn’t leave him for being such a horrible, mocking, and cruel husband. The fact that Molly tells her, essentially, that Kurt has ejaculated in her mouth and Monika refuses to divorce him because she doesn’t “believe in it,” lost me entirely. I didn’t feel that I had enough of an insight into Monika’s resolve to stay with Kurt to feel any sympathy for her as a character, so her escalating troubles from that part became hard to focus on. Furthermore, as the characters become more puzzling, they become less interesting. As their behavior starts to frustrate me, I root for all of them less, and want to discontinue reading. It is one thing to tell a difficult and sad story, but it is extremely hard to keep an audience’s interest in a story this downbeat when there are no characters they feel they can identify with.

Extended Analysis

Overview: This script had some good moments that I felt show that the story has promise for future rewrites. I believe that the stronger scenes in the script indicate that the writer has all the tools necessary to dig deeper in this story and uncover a potential for a meaningful and easily identifiable tale of redemption. Overall, however, the subject matter feels a little under-explored to me. But, I do think that the writer lays the groundwork for a rewritten script that could handle this subject matter in a much more complex manner thematically. I felt, throughout, that the writer wasn’t embracing her characters and the emotional minefields of their inner-selves with the kind of bravery that this script seemed to be begging for. What I see in this screenplay is that, at heart, it is a story about fear. For Bianca, it is a fear that her outer beauty will never be enough to find her a place in the world. She has been crippled by her appearance so long that she has never taken a good look at her inner self long enough to develop any sense of worth based on qualities deeper than those on her skin. Kate has spent so much of her life protecting Bianca from Bianca’s fears, that she has become just as isolated. She has played shield, savior, and begrudging guardian for Bianca, and in the meantime has never had to look deeply at her own need to embrace the larger world. In many ways, the two characters are feeding each other’s dysfunctions in a manner that can only be described as codependence. ALL the characters in this story are broken in some way, and by attempting to hold each other together, they become unable to act for themselves.

In the next rewrite, if the writer were to focus primarily on developing a more pronounced character arc for both Kate and Bianca, the script would make great strides toward reaching its potential. Really digging deep into these characters’ motivations, as though they were real people with complex emotions that the writer knows intimately, would make for a more memorable story. The more the characters tap into the audience’s own fears and emotions – the more they are just like us – the more the story starts to become one that rings of deep familiarity (in a good way). I think that the writer is scratching all the right surfaces, but just hasn’t quite taken that bold, decisive dig into the depths.

I had a similar feeling reading this script about the writer’s sense of comedy. The script reads more like a drama to me than a comedy. The main thing separating it from a serious drama would be that there are several scenes where characters behave in extreme and exaggerated manners. Although extreme behavior can indeed be funny, it needs more than extremity to be so. There are passages of dialogue and turns of events in the script that show me that the writer has the chops to work out the kinks in the comedic timing and presentation, but it didn’t quite reach its goal in this draft for me. However, I will discuss this a bit more below.

Opening Scenes: I think that there needs to be greater insight into Bianca developed through the writer’s description in the first scenes. There is a general lack of comprehensive description here. When reading the first several pages, I wasn’t sure if Bianca’s oddness is supposed to be seen with sympathy or disgust by the reader. Is she mentally ill or is she just extraordinarily vain? Kate is described as being always responsible, but she doesn’t seem, even at age 30, to have developed a way to deal with Bianca’s quirks. If they are always together in pictures, hinting that they are always together in life, you would think that they would have developed a better system by this point in life. I wanted there to be a more definitive presentation of the sisters’ roles in their relationship as well as a better understanding of how they came to live the way that they do. This is not a typical sisterly bond that these two share, and since it is odd and unfamiliar, the writer needs to guide the reader into their territory carefully and with an aim to create understanding and sympathy.

Also, knowing that this is supposed to be a comedy, I was taken aback by how uncomfortable I felt reading the first several scenes. I found both sisters to be very strange and sad – Kate has given up her life to pay for Bianca’s unnecessary plastic surgeries, and Bianca has big time body image dysmorphia. Where does the comedy come into this? If this is to be played for laughs, the writer needs to work on her description to indicate how the reader should respond to these scenes. The description could highlight the ridiculous, rather than the tragic. The way the description exists in this script thus far, the writer has been indicating the desperation of Kate to be noticed by the pastor, and Bianca’s inability to interact with the world because of her crippling negative self-image. Instead of focusing on these elements in a straightforward manner, the writer could, for example, choose to describe Bianca’s behavior with a little more of a hint at what exactly Bianca sees when she looks in the mirror. If the writer tells us that Bianca is a perfect 10, but what she sees when she looks in the mirror is the image of something akin to Walter Matthau with Tammy Faye Bakker’s makeup, the idea of this is so absurd that we get that the writer is viewing this disconnect from reality with a sense of humor. The writer really needs to work on the tone of these first few scenes in order to bring out the comedy from the get-go.

Later in act one, on page 27, Kate calls someone named Emmy to tell her about Bianca’s disappearance. It is clear from the one side of the conversation that we hear that Emmy has rescued Kate from several false alarms from Bianca before. Who is Emmy? It would be good prior to this to introduce Emmy and to understand that Bianca has threatened to kill herself before when Kate refused to answer to her whims, and that Emmy has already given an ultimatum about helping out in these situations. The writer could even make a montage flashback in act one to all the times Bianca has tried to pretend like she was committing suicide. And if those attempts were completely overblown and absurd – farcical – the comedy could be enhanced. Then we would also know exactly what Kate has been dealing with, and also understand that she has played along with this for too long already.

Plot and Protagonist Character Arc: As the script progresses into the second act, I think that seeing more of a smooth character arc for Bianca is imperative. It would be preferable if Bianca went from being disgusted entirely by the people she is helping at the cottages to actually finding unexpected friendships and satisfaction in hard work over the course of the entire second act. If the writer makes it too easy for her to come to this state of being, we are less likely to grow fond of Bianca, because there isn’t a buildup of trust for the character.

Bianca seems to adapt to life at the cottages a bit too easily. Since the writer has introduced her as a person who is so scared of what people might think of her that she can almost never go outside, and one that has never held a job, I think that the writer should make this adjustment much more difficult for her. She has to touch people, and get dirty, and think always of others before herself. Given how she treated her sister, I would imagine that this kind of forced denial of her own self-centered world view would be very alien to her. The writer makes it seem like it is an annoyance to Bianca, whereas the prior characterization indicates that it would probably be crippling for her. An option that the writer could embrace, alternatively, would be to dial down Bianca’s phobias in the first act. Making her simply shamelessly vain and self-absorbed might create more believable character parameters than the writer’s decision to make her degree of body dysmorphia so severe that it makes her also somewhat agoraphobic. It feels, to me, that the writer is trying to saddle Bianca with too many setbacks for her redemption to appear reasonable. While comedy can sometimes work best when it is taken to the extremes, you also have to be careful that the extremes don’t hinder credibility so much that the character loses the audience’s sympathy.

One moment that stands out for me is on page 68, when Bianca accepts a ride to go into the city. There are two issues here: 1. Bianca is afraid to go out in public and having the public see her looking unattractive. The writer has mostly dropped any specific reference to Bianca’s vanity or self-image issues since she’s arrived at the cottages. Though she shows reluctance to get in the van, she does so with very little deliberation. Just months ago, she was paralyzed with fear to leave the house. The writer needs to address this issue and her healing more specifically than she is doing in this draft. 2. Bianca is aware that she is in hiding from men who might want to kill her if she is found. Going into town may not only affect her phobia but it should also affect her fear for her own safety.

However, I think that the fiesta scene, once Bianca rejoins the part, is nice. I think that this is the right timing for us to see that she is finally becoming comfortable in this group of misfits, and that she is gaining some affection for Chris, and vice versa. Chris’ notation of her growing muscles is significant in that her stronger body parallels her stronger inner self. This is a good touch. While I think that the arc leading up to this moment could be better formed, I do think that the writer shows good instincts in placing this scene exactly where it exists in this draft.

As the climax arrives, I found myself really enjoying the final melee between the Sunnyview residents and Hickson and his thugs. The idea of Meredith driving a van as a potential deadly weapon was one of the moments that led me to recognize the writer’s potential for comedy. The description worked well visually, and the pace of the scene was spot-on. My one suggestion is that when Bianca is nabbed by one of Hickson’s thugs on page 93, the writer make it more of a feasible surprise for her. If she saw the Nail It! van approaching the cottages, as we are led to believe in the prior scene, I would think that she’d be a little more urgent in getting out of there than she is. She takes way too much time telling Meredith what has happened. If she is truly afraid that they may kill her, it is far more likely that she would run like hell. It would be more believable if the audience saw the Nail It! van, but Bianca didn’t.

Dialogue: Mostly, I thought that the dialogue was fine. I think that with work on the characters’ inner lives in future rewrites, the writer will naturally create enhanced crispness in the characters’ dialogue. In this draft, I seldom found anything distractingly out of place, but did appreciate a handful of sharp moments of repartee. For instance, I liked the line on page 68 when Kate’s car is found, and Brock says “You see the Lord does answer our prayers.” Kate responds: “Well, yeah. But he’s pretty slow on matching plates, apparently. Three months!” That is the kind of banter that I want in a comedy. This shows that the writer has a sense of dialogue and comedy to work with.

This line in particular made me think that it might benefit the writer to look at the characters’ voices in the earlier part of this script and figure out how to potentially make at least one character the one in the story who “tells it like it is”. When you have a story that relies on an audience believing some fairly incredible circumstances, one way to increase the suspension of disbelief is to have a character that voices any potential skepticism before the audience has a chance to do so itself. Brock, Kate, or even Meredith could be this character, and I think it would really aid the credibility of the plot. This line is a perfect example of how this kind of skeptical dialogue can aid not only in the likeability of a character, but also in the insertion of a good comedic moment.

Character Relationships and Supporting Characters: I think that the writer could spend some time digging a little deeper into Kate and Bianca’s relationship. It feels from Kate’s “rescue” of Bianca from Sunnyview, that Kate might need Bianca more than Bianca needs Kate. The writer might want to lead up to this scene with more of a hint that the relationship between the sisters is a co-dependent one. Furthermore, if Brock is less of a jerk in the beginning – bulldozing over Kate’s attempts to get attention – his and Kate’s relationship could start to grow in Bianca’s absence. What is Kate all about? The writer isn’t giving her personality and her inner-life much attention in this script. I think as a subplot, it might be interesting if Kate’s fear was getting involved in a real relationship with a man. If the writer is more subtle in act one about Kate’s interest in Brock, and less inclined to make Brock seem like a heel, this is a quality in Kate that could be developed in interesting ways. Could it be that Kate is using Bianca’s problems to shield herself from the possibility of love? This kind of a subplot would give this screenplay so much more emotional juice, because it would make Kate, now a very important supporting character, instead a secondary protagonist.

Also, the writer flirts with a romantic connection between Bianca and Chris, but truthfully, I wanted that to see the end sealed with a kiss. I think that the fact that Chris finds Bianca beautiful even when he first sees her covered in dirt and with tangled hair should factor into a meaningful conversation. Given that Bianca has these issues with her appearance, it makes sense that she’d be reluctant to become romantically involved when she thinks she must look ugly through others’ eyes. A moment between Chris and Bianca, where Chris – poor eyesight and all – lets her know how beautiful he thinks she is on the INSIDE would be really nice in this script. This would underscore some of the thematic points that I think the writer is missing out on in this draft of the screenplay. A more focused approach to presenting Chris and Bianca’s growing feelings could draw out Bianca’s realization that she is more than what people can see on the outside. If she has been saddled for so long with such a crippling fear that she doesn’t look good enough to live in the outside world, Chris could be a great sounding board for what might have started this fear. His love could also be the healing balm that seals her growing self-esteem.

As a supporting character and potential love interest for Kate, Brock is not very sympathetic. He is terse and unhelpful to Kate and seems interested in Bianca only because she is good looking. This doesn’t really scream “Christian virtue” to me. He’s not too charitable and helpful for a pastor. This makes it a little difficult to believe him as a character. I’d think that most pastors could at least fake charity. Also, it makes it difficult to believe that Kate would be romantically interested in him, and even more difficult to root for her success in snagging him in the end.

Finally, what exactly was Hickson up to anyway? Where was he taking Bianca in the end? He refers to her as “cargo,” and insists that she look good. I was totally confused as to what he had been up to all this time. He demands that Lulu return some sort of tape to him (which I assume is what we see her tuck into Bianca’s bag in act one), but the writer never goes anywhere with this. Hickson seems to have forgotten the tape entirely after this one mention. If it was enough to threaten Lulu about, it must have been important, so the writer might want to clarify what kind of funny business Hickson was perpetrating. A mobile salon is interesting, and potentially suspicious as a front for something illegal. Hickson’s behavior certainly indicates that something illegal must have been going on. The writer should be careful not to leave this thread dangling. If he is to emerge as an effective antagonist, we should probably have a better sense of his motivations.

Miscellaneous Notes: p.38: When Hickson shows Kate the makeup items he found that Bianca left behind on the bridge, she asks him how he found them and where. Hickson doesn’t answer her, but just gives her his card and says to call him if she finds her. Why would Kate call him when he hasn’t been helpful at all? Why wouldn’t he give Kate the info she is asking for if it might help Kate lead Hickson to Bianca? This scene doesn’t seem to make logical sense.

p. 95: Kate says “Bianca never saw a crime in her life. She’s too selfish.” This feels like an awkward statement. It would feel more effective if Kate said instead, “Bianca couldn’t have seen a crime, she hasn’t seen anything but herself her whole life.” That makes more sense and also taps into Kate’s resentment better.

Chris sprints through the forest to chase the thugs who have kidnapped Bianca. In his intro we are told that he doesn’t see very well, and once they get in their own van to follow Bianca, his vision once again seems to be an obstacle. However, I’m not sure that someone who can’t tell the difference between a farm truck and a nail salon van could effectively run through a forest that must have downed trees, brush, and rocks obstructing his way to the road. The writer should make sure and work on character consistency here.