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How to do a script analysis? What would a script editor do?
This is a raw version of the opening scene for a 1-hour TV pilot.
- See if you can pick out all the errors.
- How is character development?
- What about the dialogue?
- Consider how you might improve on this version.
Note: WordPress is unable to format to Final Draft, hence the formatting is slightly off. However, for our purposes, this is an accurate enough presentation.
INT. TRONIAN STARSHIP – BRIDGE
AUTMANN (CAPTAIN) KRYLEON sits in the center of the bridge.
Surrounding him are other Tronian aliens, each at their stations.
Tronian aliens are humanoid, have bony ridges on their skulls and their skin often has mottled patterns of darker pigmentation.
The ship is being rocked and buffeted hard as it comes out of a very rough patch of space.
Everything smooths out and each of the crew visibly relaxes.
The forward display shows a star field.
The helmsman makes his report in the melodious formal tones of the Tronian aliens, sounding faintly Germanic.
Autmann, we have cleared the particle
storm. Instruments returning to
Excellent. Where in Veruum are
Unknown. Projected calculation
time: six sentauns.
Kryleon sighs in frustration.
Sir, there is a living planet on
Kryleon perks up.
Living? How far?
Three days. Scan shows it to be
heavily inhabited by a level six
Level six? Is that even worth
They may not have star travel but
they are not far off. We should be
able to get the materials we need
Very well. Set course and let us
see what we find.
Kryleon stares at the forward display, the Sol star looking a little bigger and brighter than the others.
The crew on the bridge becomes very busy, each working the controls at there station.
Updated 20 May 2016:
Considering that this is the very first scene of a pilot episode for a TV series – the opening could be more cinematic.
The scriptwriter has given the captain, (“Autmann” – in the Tronian lingo) a name – Kryleon – and as he appears in the very first scene, one can assume he is an important character – perhaps even the protagonist or antagonist.
All the other characters do not have names. The scriptwriter refers instead to their job functions – helmsman, navigator and science officer. This is a hint that these are bit players. Or, it could be an oversight by the scriptwriter.
Without access to subsequent scenes or better yet, the first Act, it’s difficult to draw conclusions.
These restrictions notwithstanding, I shall draw my own conclusions. You feel free to do the same.
31 May, 2016
Here is my revised version. You’re welcome to suggest improvements.
THE TRONIANS EXT. SPACE - ESTABLISHING A bright spot in the ocean of speckled black. Faraway rumbles. Bright flashes of light. A cosmic storm rages. Space debris shoot past. A silvery speck emerges, FILLS the screen and careens away. A SPACESHIP! INT. TRONIAN STARSHIP – BRIDGE Flashing lights and KLAXON alarms punctuate the ship’s dim interior. Gradually, the buffeting smoothens and the mayhem dies. LIGHTS come on. The CREW are humanoid – TRONIANS – bony ridges on skulls and light skin with dark mottled pigmentation. CAPTAIN KRYLEON, lithe and well-toned, has the bridge. CAPTAIN KRYLEON Damage Control, report! Kryleon’s voice is Germanic. An equally nasal voice comes over the intercom. DAMAGE CONTROL (O.S.) Electrolyser mains inoperative. Backup holding for now, Captain. EXCO BARAGA We need to put her down, Captain. EXECUTIVE OFFICER BARAGA is a burly battle-scared Tronian but with a kind face. The crewmen turn, expectantly, to their captain. Kryleon feels their intense gaze but deigns not to notice. The forward display panel shows a STAR FIELD. CAPTAIN KRYLEON So, this is Veruum. What’s there? SCIENCE OFFICER LUTZ, young and geeky, reads off his screen. S.O. LUTZ A sol star, sir. Coordinates 76-45. Distance, 24 sentauns. A green planet appears on the wall screen. CAPTAIN KRYLEON Nothing nearer? S.O. LUTZ It’s the only inhabitable planet in this solar quadrant, sir. Lutz works his touchscreen. S.O. LUTZ (CONT’D) The planet is home to a simian civilization, sir. Level six. CAPTAIN KRYLEON (to Baraga) All this way to visit a zoo! Baraga's shrug says they don't have a choice. S.O. LUTZ Sub surface pingbacks indicate they’ve the minerals we need for our repairs, sir. Kryleon throws a look at Baraga and nods. EXCO BARAGA Okay, put her down! And try not to punch another hole in her belly. The crew gets busy. CAPTAIN KRYLEON (CONT’D) Green planet. Are the inhabitants green too? S.O. LUTZ Take a look, Captain. The screen shows HUMANS on earth. FADE OUT
Updated 31 May 2016:
Over the next few days, in the comments section below, I shall post the rationale underlying the revisions. Considering that screenplays are highly subjective, you might not agree with all the points. Nevertheless, at the very least, these serve to pique interest and provide a second opinion to any screenplay.
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