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Thread: Meet Cute

  1. #1
    Rogue Mutt
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    Meet Cute

    This is going to be a little awkward with the lack of formatting on this site. (You can read the whole thing with proper formatting at http://roguemutt.wordpress.com) So for the opening I'll point to the paragraphs that are narration with a > and the rest of it is from the movie script Tom is writing.

    EXT. SECOND CUP CAFÉ – MORNING

    An empty patio outside a coffeehouse. There are round tables of various sizes with wicker-looking chairs around each table.

    Only one table is occupied. A Latina woman occupies one chair with a cup of coffee. She’s reading a book—a mass market thriller. Her name is—

    >I had to stop as I considered what to name the character. Peering over the top of my laptop’s screen, I studied the woman sitting across the patio. The shape of her nose and the warmth of her eyes resembled Penelope Cruz—at least in my mind. That would be a good name for her, unless I thought of something better later.

    Her name is PENELOPE. While she reads the book, she drums her fingers on the table, as if she’s waiting for something to happen.

    Enter from the left an adult golden retriever. The dog has a leash attached, but there’s no one holding it.

    The dog gallops towards Penelope, who pays it no attention. The dog leaps up at her playfully, its wagging tail batting the coffee from the table.

    TOM—


    >I stopped again, wondering if it was really a good idea to name the character after myself. I glanced over the laptop again, where Penelope was still reading her book, unmolested by any canines. Well, why not? I could do a global replace later.

    TOM comes running in from the same direction as the dog. He’s wearing a T-shirt and running shorts from his morning jog.

    TOM
    (exasperatedly)
    Max, down boy! Leave that nice lady alone.

    Max the dog is licking Penelope’s cheek while she is stroking his yellow fur and smiling. She’s dropped the book to the ground.

    PENELOPE
    (laughing)
    No, it’s all right. I like dogs.

    >I groaned at this. A dog? What was I thinking? This wasn’t supposed to be Must Love Dogs. And a golden retriever? Everyone would think I was ripping off Marley & Me.

    >I leaned back in my wicker-like seat and sipped at my cup of coffee. Turning away from “Penelope,” I stared at the traffic plodding through the Financial District. At this time of day most everyone jamming the crosswalks and hunched in the cars, buses, and taxis was wearing business attire. I grinned at this, still wearing the T-shirt and running shirts I went to bed in. My meeting down the road at CBC headquarters wasn’t scheduled until after lunch, so I had time to waste on my hobby.

    >After a wave of business attired people went by, I noticed a man sitting on the edge of a flower planter. From the torn army jacket, camouflage pants, and greasy beard, I knew he wasn’t bound for any meetings. Must be one of the homeless guys who dot the sidewalk. I always thought Canada was such a clean, neat country, but there are still plenty of bums around. At least they aren’t as aggressive as in Detroit; when we had a meeting there I started to wish I had one of those Taser things to keep the panhandlers away.

    >A new idea popped into my head. I turned back to my laptop and deleted everything from when the dog ran into the scene. This new idea would be much more intense. Always good to start with a bang, to get the audience right into the film.

    Enter from the right a homeless man in filthy army jacket, camouflage pants, and T-shirt with wild, greasy hair.

    Penelope is still innocently reading as the homeless man snatches her purse from the table. He runs off to the left while Penelope throws down her book and leaps out of her chair.

    PENELOPE
    Stop! That’s my purse!

    Off-screen is the sound of a punch followed by the homeless man groaning. TOM enters from the left. He’s holding up Penelope’s purse and smiling warmly.

    TOM
    I think you dropped something, ma’am.

    PENELOPE
    Oh thank you so much!


    >I had to stop myself yet again, letting out a louder groan. The real Penelope turned to glance in my direction; I hurried to look back down at my laptop. Beating up a purse snatcher would be fine if our hero was wearing a cape and tights. This was supposed to be a romantic comedy, not Spider-Man 4. Come on, think funny! Funny and cute, but not too cute—just cute enough so the audience will be rooting for them without getting diabetes.

    >“There you are!” Natalie blurted out. She sat down without asking at my table, obscuring my view of Penelope across the patio. In her dark blue suit and white blouse, Natalie didn’t look any different from most of the people walking around the Financial District at this hour. She took a sip from her Starbucks cup and then shook her head. “They say it’s the same Sumatra blend as in New York, but I swear there’s a difference.”

    >“It’s probably in your head,” I said. “Are you sure you should be drinking that here?” I looked back into the building, at the little Chinese lady wiping the counter, waiting for her to come racing out to scold Natalie for drinking the competition’s coffee on her patio.

    >Natalie snorted at this. “Like she’s even going to notice.” She took another sip of her coffee and then set it aside, making a sour face. “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the meeting?”

    >“It’s not until two o’clock.”

    >“They moved it up to eleven. Don’t you remember? I sent you the Email last night.”

    >I checked my Email and lo and behold, there was Natalie’s Email about the change in meeting times. I had forgotten to check my work account last night; I was watching Casablanca for the two hundredth time on Turner Classic Movies. I could watch that with no sound and recite every line of it. I peeked over Natalie’s shoulder at Penelope and thought, Of all the coffee shops in all of Toronto and she has to walk into mine.

    >Natalie snapped her fingers in my face. “Hey, Earth to Tom. Were you listening?”

    >“What?”

    >“The meeting, remember?” Natalie picked up her cup of coffee and then nodded slightly towards Penelope. “She’s waiting for her boyfriend.”

    >“How do you know that?”

    >“Women’s intuition,” Natalie said and then sipped her coffee before remembering that she didn’t like it and setting it aside.

    >With timing like in a movie script, a handsome young man sat down at Penelope’s table a moment later. From the way they hugged and kissed, it’s obvious they weren’t strangers. I looked away from them, focusing on my laptop as I put it back into its case.

    [The story continues at http://roguemutt.wordpress.com] BTW, did you notice any present tense slips in the narration? The last story I wrote was present tense so I've had trouble mentally shifting gears back to past tense.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: Meet Cute

    Drat, I just wrote a long and beautiful and helpful post and forgot to copy it so that my forays away wouldn't cause a notice of hacker attempts and the loss of whatever I wrote.

    So, Rogue, please believe that what comes next was much better than before I lost it.

    I really like the concept. You give the reader two avenues into your MC's head.

    I don't know how long the piece is, but, for me, you took too long to give me the beginnings of an understanding of your real Tom. He's wishing to be a lapping retriever and a jock/hero for a woman. He's making fun of business-attire guys, but, presumably is in business attire himself for the mysterious meeting. He's poking away at his hobby on the laptop and not checking email. He worries that N's contraband coffee cup will irk the owner of the sidewalk cafe. That's a bunch of conflicting info about Tom, which is cool, but by this point in the story -- unless it's long, like 7,000 words plus -- I think I should be grabbing better.

    If I knew what he was wearing than I'd have a better idea what the imagined jogging hero's outfit meant to him and what the suited drivers mean to him. If I knew the spread between the real woman sipping coffee and the imagined script woman was, I'd know more about him. If I knew what he thought and felt when N comes up and takes a seat, I'd know more about what he wants and fears. There's a certain level of holding back that's intriguing, but here I think we need a few more clues to guide us toward your objective with Tom's character. Does that make sense?

    I'd encourage you to start with the real Tom rather than the written script because it feels a bit like one of those head fake, dreamsequence openings for me. If we see real Tom first, eyeing the 40-plus woman with Payless shoes and a romance book in her hands, THEN see him write about a 20-something Penelope with Franco Sarte shoes and Tolstoy in her hands (or whatever serves your purposes), then we get a nice snapshot of Tom's status compared to Tom's aspirations/dreams. You' know? Place us first, then place us again. But I do like the dual places you put the reader with the alternating real and script scenes. Rich ground, just want you to sow and reap it a bit more.

    The present/past stuff is easy to sort out, and I'm sure you can do so easily once you decide what you want for the feel. I do like the notion of keeping the script in present and the real action in past.

    There's some line editing stuff I'd recommend, but I think you've got a couple large blocks to drag around before you want to worry about the little things.

    Great concept. Good start. Just make it do more. My best advise after my better advise went skydiving.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Meet Cute

    C K Wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------
    >
    > I don't know how long the piece is, but, for me,
    > you took too long to give me the beginnings of an
    > understanding of your real Tom. He's wishing to
    > be a lapping retriever and a jock/hero for a
    > woman.

    Thanks, but I'm pretty sure doesn't want to actually be the dog, which is why he names the dog's owner after himself.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Re: Meet Cute

    Rogue,

    All that heavy thinking and I get a thanks-but.

    Sulking.

  5. #5
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Meet Cute

    You're sulking? Look how many crits I got to how many Raven got. Gee, not like I've ever done anything for you guys...

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Re: Meet Cute

    Well, then why dismiss the only one you've got SO FAR with a thanks-but? You think that's encourage to other folks?

    You are very giving of your time; you're often helpful. I'm not really sulking, but I did get the message that our minds don't think enough alike for me to be of much help to you and that I shouldn't bother in the future.

  7. #7
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Meet Cute

    I was just pointing out that I don't think he wanted to be the dog as you said. The rest of your stuff about shoes and whatnot did give me an idea to revise the first Tom paragraph to move up some personal information about him to put the story into better context. So thanks for that.

    Only one table is occupied. A blond woman occupies one chair with a cup of coffee. She’s reading a book—a mass market thriller. Her name is—

    >I had to stop as I considered what to name the character. Peering over the top of my laptop’s screen, I studied the woman sitting across the patio. She looked like Penelope back when we met at a college party. Except that she wasn’t hunched over a toilet in a frat house, throwing up while I held back her hair. I probably should have taken that as a sign.

    >Today was the first anniversary of our divorce being finalized. We had been separated for three years before that, most of that time spent saving up for the lawyers. By then Penelope had already moved on to greener pastures. But since this was my script, I was free to do some revisionist history.

    Her name is PENELOPE. While she reads the book, she drums her fingers on the table, as if she’s waiting for something to happen.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lea Zalas's Avatar
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    Re: Meet Cute

    Rogue,

    I'm not an expert, but here's a couple of comments on things that caught my eye while I read:

    While she reads the book, she drums her fingers on the table, as if she’s waiting for something to happen. How about: As she reads, (you already stated in the previous paragraph that she was reading a book) she drums her fingers on the table, as if impatient for something to happen. (This is just a suggestion - is she waiting or impatiently waiting?)

    >After a wave of business attired people went by, - Does this have to say "business-attired" or could it just say, "After a wave of people went by,"

    "I think you dropped something, ma’am" Sounds a little smarmy. Could he see her and ask, "Is this yours?" If he's looking for something cute, but not too cute to hook them, he could say, "Is this really yours? You wouldn't mind if I check inside and verify that?" She could act exasperated, but at the same time hopes that he just wants to look in her purse and get her name without having to ask for it.

  9. #9
    Member
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    Re: Meet Cute

    I'm not going to be as harsh as others because this is clearly a work in progress, so I'll limit it to the two following comments on the above:

    "I think you dropped something, ma’am" - don't like it. I get the feeling 'ma'am' is MUCH older. This could me a cultural thing, in Australia we rarely say ma'am and if we do, it'll be to someone much older than ourselves. (I even take offence when someone trying to sell me a new mobile phone deal over the phone calls me ma'am)

    The other comment is the 'business-attire' - I agree, it doesn't work but it could if we knew HIS uniform of choice. As you have pointed out, you'll be looking at that anyway.

    Aside from that, I see it being while enjoyable and 'catchy' so I'd encourage you to keep working on it. I've read some of your extracts before and you have a natural talent for writing so I am sure you'll make this flow just as well.

    Raven

  10. #10
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Meet Cute

    BTW, do you suppose it's a double standard that when people critique I'm not supposed to get mad or anything but if I don't thank them hard enough or long enough they can get mad at me? I guess thick skin is only supposed to go one way.

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