BlueCat feedback on Tailor at Loring’s End screenplay!

As with the Adonis script, I submitted my Tailor at Loring’s End screenplay to the BlueCat Screenwriting Contest at well. I was nervous at first that the feedback on this one was taking so much longer to arrive, but I finally got it the other day. I am pleased to say that it was quite positive as well! Though this is the first screenplay I ever wrote, the story idea was a solid one, and I have revised it many times. It made it to the Quarter Finals of the Big Break contest last year, so I had some confidence in it.

“What did you like about this script?

The Tailor at Loring’s End is as lovingly crafted and detailed as the debutante dress that is a center piece throughout the film. It deftly takes the audience back into the luxe and mysterious past of a powerful family, giving a really rich and suspenseful tone to the story.

Sometimes flashbacks can be clumsy, but The Tailor at Loring’s End uses them well. Not only do the flashbacks carry the same rich tone as the present, but the two stories parallel each other while still allowing for each of the characters to show their own personalities and uniqueness.

The idea of a powerful family betraying their country during the war is a great one, filled with complications and opportunities for conflicting emotions for all the characters. Do you cherish your father for building an empire? Or you despise him for then betraying the country in order to continue his legacy? Do you reject the idea of classism or do you relish in its bounty? This is also seen in the setting; there’s a sense that Lorings End is both very airy and light while being repressive and cavernous.

The side characters of The Tailor At Loring’s End are really great additions to the story. Della, Kenneth, and Crier are all vivid and unique, putting all their separate know how in order to help what is good. There is a satisfaction in a team that helps out two young lovers and inquisitors, despite their aged wisdom knowing that the world is more complicated than it seems. Della fills in as an excellent maternal figure to Tom and Crier is charming due to both his bumbling nature and commitment to the job.”

The core of the story, the themes, and the supporting cast are what this reader responded to most strongly, which I’m very happy to hear. They picked up on the purpose of the team drawing together to fix things in the end, as well as how the flashbacks were designed to parallel and compare with the modern-day story. I knew all that, the plot, themes, and setting were the parts I was most confident in, but it pleases me to hear that a reader responded to them.

The negatives were not extremely negative, but they were a bit perplexing to me.

“What do you think needs work?

There could be a little more development on both Tom and Alice. They are the focal pieces of the script and the audience’s heroes, but it’s hard to truly describe them outside of their external journey. What makes them unique, the only people capable of figuring the Loring mystery out? While the backstory of Alice and her family is the main plot of the story, what about Tom? There are mentions of his past; learning from his talented mother, leaving a more commercially successful shop to make dresses. These things could be developed more. Where is his father? Did he go to school? Has he travelled at all? Who is Tom outside of a talented tailor?

As for Alice, does she go to school? Is she trapped inside the estate both physically and mentally? Does she have any hobbies, particularly any hobbies that she might share with Tom? Her bond with her family is the initial element of the mystery so unfolding her relationship, both emotionally and historically, with each member of the Lorings would make the story even more compelling.

Establishing their personalities more, their wants and desires outside of the family mystery, could really heighten the tension and further push the audience’s want for the two of them to somehow be together.

It was a little unclear if Kenneth knew of Reginald’s betrayal and wanted to expose him or if he just was still lovesick over Bethany. There are two very different motivations for both reasons. If Kenneth needed the papers to prove that Reginald was a traitor, it seems that he would have been trying to convince the public of this for years, and not just after Emma’s death. If he was searching for the papers in order to investigate Bethany’s mysterious death, this would be a bit simpler.”

I’m of several minds about this. On one hand, I’m a bit skeptical of the criticism that Tom and Alice are not strongly defined enough, as three of my professors saw this script and none of them found the leads to be too thin. In fact, rather hilariously, Barry Brodsky, the teacher I wrote it with initially, gave me the exact opposite feedback– he found Tom and Alice compelling, but thought my supporting cast like Della and Crier to be lacking in dimension. An unfortunate feature of making art is that there is no uniform standard by which to grade it, so it’s common to get educated opinions formed from two entirely different impressions. On the other hand, defining characters for people who are not in my head has been a problem in another thing I’ve been working on recently, enough that I’m inclined to worry it’s actually a problem.

Because I want to progress in the contest, it probably doesn’t make sense not to make the attempt to edit and resubmit to improve my standing, even though I’m not entirely sure I agree with the critique. And I’m not sure how to go about making it clearer. I don’t think just sticking in answers to a lot of those questions is the way. “Where’s Tom’s father?” He’s dead, he’s not important to this story. (Also I notice you don’t mind that Alice’s mother’s not dealt with, probably because I dealt with her father to your satisfaction. Moms being important is weird, dads being important is normal, amirite? :-P) “Does Alice go to school?” She just got out of school, I’m pretty sure that’s mentioned in a line and not that important anymore.

Bleh. I’m probably just being defensive. I am prone to that. I just wish I could more clearly envision way to fix that problem (if it really exists). I find “define this character more” to be particularly hard note to address, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because they seem plenty clear to me, and I don’t know why others can’t see it. But it’s worth making the attempt. The other note, about Kenneth’s motivations/knowledge being made a little clear, is a fine one; concrete and easy to take, so no problem addressing that there.

As I said, I’m mostly happy with this feedback, and if it’s this positive it’s probably got as a good a shot as any in the contest.

God willing, Tom, Diana, Alice, and Aidan will take this contest by storm! 😉

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