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"Germaphobe" by Kristen Alario

Logline: A day in the life of germaphobe.

Genre: Comedy - Family

Cast Size: 3

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: Even More of Less is More (Jun. 2011)

Contest Scores
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Comments Made During the Contest

Audrey Webb (Level 5)

I like the way you show us she's a germaphobe from the get-go...opening the door with her sleeve pulled over her hand. The pay-off (her getting a cold) didn't really work for me. She gets a cold...but it's a bit of a "so what" feeling. There wasn't a surprise along the way.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

First image of the page was a slap in the face; all that text! I'm reluctant to start reading. You probably already know, and others will say so too; action paragraphs longer than four lines are usually not a good idea. Leave some white on the page so it is an easier read.

Claire desperately tries to avoid the flu, but contracts it anyway. A "bad things happen to people" story, and not really a really bad thing to happen to some one, given what people in war zones and third world countries have to put up with. Wars, poverty, malaria. Claire gets a mild case of the flu.

I have a hard time rooting for her. She's this neurotic person. I'm almost glad she gets the flu anyway.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4)

I felt sorry for this poor woman with everyone snotting all over everything and her being so careful not to touch anything.

It was kind of funny because it didn't matter and she got sick anyway. She even washed her groceries, haha.

Maybe you could rename this "How Stella Got Her Cold Back." ;D


Bob Johnson (Level 4)

Neatly written, no formatting issues, spelling and grammar was good.

I have been in food houses/shops where the employee's personal hygiene has left a lot to be desired, this piece left me cringing at my experiences.

A little descriptive but done well, didn't quite get the ending.


Brian Howell (Level 5)

This is my interpretation... It doesn't matter what you do to protect yourself from 'germs', you will still get sick. Is that about right? I hope so, I love that as your premise. Now to the execution of this premise.

This is very dense and wordy. Much of that is due to passive writing. Sentences like: "While waiting patiently in a checkout line with a cart full of groceries, Claire notices the checkout CLERK (20's) is sick." could be tightened into something more like this: "Claire waits in line to checkout with a load of groceries. The CLERK (20s) appears sicker than a dog." I'm not sure how many words that example cuts out, but the point is to give the action as we see it. Some of the minute details that you describe could also be cut in order to streamline the action blocks. That was the first thing I noticed when I opened this: a lot of words and not a lot of white space.

Another issue related to the same example I mentioned above. My wife has moderate OCD in regards to germs. If the clerk was visibly sick, as you make it seem, Claire would have opted for a much longer longer because she would have noticed this right away. Those are things germaphobes look for. The plausibility factor went down on that, but it is easily fixed by having the clerk go on break right before Claire gets to checkout, replaced by a sick clerk.

The last thing I'll mention is that the ending lacks a punch. It just kind of ends. I feel like it needs a little stronger juxtaposition with the body of the film. Maybe she can be talking to someone on the phone and offer her theory as to why she got sick, something to bolster-up the ending.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was written and formatted pretty well. It could have been tightened up a bit.

Try to limit your descriptions to 3 lines, 4 at the most.

The story here didn't really do much for me. Basically a germophobe is surrounded by germs and gets sick. I don't know. It needs more to it. That's just way too basic to make for a compelling story to me.

Overall, this could be tightened up and could use a better a twist. Nice work and good luck!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

This has potential but I thought all the scenes were too much alike and that your descriptions tended to be overlong and repetitive too.

For example - Claire looks around for an escape but sees long lines behind her in each lane. She looks at her watch and looks frustrated.

Three looks! Try to vary your vocabulary to make the read more interesting.

I felt the set-up was good but the ending fizzled out.

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

Well written and I think the scenes would play well on the screen. I was disappointed in the ending, though. Not sure what it should be but seems to be played a little safe.
Noticed one typo that was a little distracting in a one-pager.

Good job, a better ending would have made it one of the best I've read this month.

Best of luck.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

Ok, so she was a germaphobe, but gets sick anyway. Your action blocks are thick and can be trimmed and condensed while still having the same impact. I did wonder why a germaphobe would take candy from a candy dish or was that how she got sick? Overall good job.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I really like what you're trying to do here, but I think you have two issues.

One, I don't think Claire is being unreasonable in this story, except for when she opens the door. Everyone is being rude and is spreading germs - so it kind of takes away the impact of her being a germaphobe.

Second, the ending/twist isn't particularly satisfying. She gets sick, but I don't know if that is enough to make this a story.

I think with a small rewrite this could be very good.

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

You did a good job of making me feel sorry for Claire. It looks like she had good reason to be a "geraphobe". But the story is Claire is afraid of getting sick and then she gets sick, which is a little thin, in my opinion.

I think it might have been more fun to read if the description would have been broken up with a little more dialogue. As it is there's a lot of black (long paragraphs), on the page, which makes it a little heavy to read.

Thank you for entering. Good luck.

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

This is a little more short story format than screenplay format. Especially with the numerous overly long action paragraphs. I know you’re trying to fit all of this on one page but it really doesn’t read as a screenplay.

Rather than tell us she waits “patiently,” show us what she is doing so that we know she is waiting patiently. And why is she waiting patiently? She’s had a tough day so far and now she’s in a long line so maybe she really isn’t being patient. Seems you’re trying to make her something at this point in the story that she really isn’t.

Be sure that action lines describe what the characters are doing, not what they are thinking.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

Only two lines of dialogue in this. That is not much. But we have lots of blocks of other action to read!

I think the following could get tightened up a bit:

Claire (30's) opens the door to her tidy office by using her
long sleeve shirt over her hand, careful not to touch the
door handle. She puts her briefcase down and grabs a piece
of candy from a candy dish when her SECRETARY (50's) enters
with a stack of folders.

CLAIR (30) opens door with her sleeve. She drops her briefcase and picks up some candy. Her secretary comes in with an armload of work.

That is just an example, lots can be tighted up with this work and it will be much cleaner.

The audience doesn't need to be told everything and we like to figure stuff out.

Good luck.

Denise Jewell (Level 5)

This could have been in the comedy contest. This is funny and surprising. I would like more concise descriptions. The length bogs down the flow.

Derek Anderson (Level 4)

Just a day in the life of Claire before she gets sick.

It's well written, but maybe if you would have focused on just one of those moments and expanded on it, then it could've been more intriguing. It could also use more dialogue to break up the blocks of text.

It's a good from me.

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

That first sentence introducing Claire is a bit clunky, and could be tightened up.

I don't see what the story is here. A germaphobe gets sick? That's it? I really don't get the point. Nothing unusual, no twist, nothing funny, nothing sad. Very pedestrian. If you did have a twist/punchline you could fit it in by cutting some of the set-up. Of course a rewrite won't have the one page limitation.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

In the interest of disclosure, let me get this out of the way: I'm not a big fan of MONTAGE one-pagers. Most montages are born from the author's belief that the narrative requires more back-story and character development than can be gracefully fit into a traditional layout. That one scene just won't cut it. But GREAT scenes are the ones that establish a TON about a character in a single situation...a single location.

And look at your three establishing scenes (office, deli, store), what is established in the second two that wasn't completely established in the first? There was no progression, know what I mean? Your story stayed in one place for those next two scenes.

I think it's important to ask yourself what statement you want to make here. Were you trying to show the FUTILITY of remaining germ free? Were you looking at the humorous IRONY of illusive cleanliness versus the reality of filth?

Nail that down my opinion...don't shy away from showing it in a continuous situation. You basically did it in the first scene!

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

A woman is sickened by the sick people around her.

Only two lines of dialog and they could be done away with. Simple setup, simple ending. Would have liked to see the woman show some aggressiveness.

Good job.

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

I don't think the title is accurate for this story. Anyone would be grossed out by most of the things she witnessed. A germaphobe would be grossed out by things that would not bother most people. And the fact that she really got sick means she wasn't just being paranoid. Your action lines explain the action well but are a little too long. They read more like a novel than a screenplay. They shouldn't be more than three or four lines long and you have four that are longer than that. Also, by tightening up the action lines, it gives you more room for other things. As an example "As Claire stands in line to order a sandwich, she observes the shop EMPLOYEE using his bare hands to wipe his sweaty brow." could be "Waiting to order, she sees an employee wipe sweat with bare hands." The meaning is the same but it is only slightly more than half the length. There are only two lines of dialogue but they are fine.

Heidtmann Oppong (Level 4)

Nice one there! Pulled me back to 5th April 2010 when I also experienced Claire's condition. When it does happen to you especially when you are not in your element, it does sucks. You keep saying:"Is there no rational human being around here?" Realistic script.

Enjoyed every bit of it. Congrats!

James Hughes (Level 5)

The description sections are pretty densely packed. You could probably break this apart to make it easier to read but then it would go past 1 page. You could probably trim stuff out though to get it back to one page. Do we need to see her put down her briefcase or grab a piece of candy herself? Also, you could just say Int. Grocery Stor Checkout Line - night and then get rid of the first sentence up to the comma.

The ending feels a little flat for me. The reveal at the end seems to just happen, is there a way to rework this to make it pop some more? Is it ironic that she is sick after being so careful, the message being that there is nothing you can do about it? or is she sick because the people around her were all sick? it would be ironic if nobody was sick around her from what we could tell and, after all her carefulness she still gets sick. The way it is written, she is just overpowered by the sheer number of people being sick all day long around her.

James McConnell (Level 4)

I'm not sure about this story and what the moral of the story was. What point is the writer trying to get across? The action could be leaner and made for a long read for a one page short. This could have been a quick, pithy screenplay with a series of quick shots. Why not play around with the character and give her some contradictions? Make it ironic. What if she was a germophobe working as a nurse? What if by not using hygiene requirements in her own job, she is then spreading deadlier diseases herself? This is a good premise and has a whole host of opportunites.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Okay, the washing food was absolutely hilarious and you had me. I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen at the end... but then you just ended it. She became sick? I don't understand where the story lies there. A germaphobe becomes sick. She didn't learn anything or nothing was accomplished.

I was hoping the ending was going to be as clever as the whole script.

Another thing, you have blocks and blocks of action. I know this is a one pager, but the challenge is to write a really good screenplay in one page. The story isn't the only thing that makes a screenplay a good one. Structure as well.

Jem Rowe (Level 4)

This was ok, there isn't much I can fault it on technically, the writing was smooth and understandable, but the story struck me as extremely unambitious. So, a germophobe does everything she can to avoid sickness, but ends up sick. I can see the irony here, but it's so raw and central that it doesn't pack any punch at the end of the script. I hope that makes sence :S

A "Good" from me, you've got the writing skills, but I'd suggest you chase a bigger idea next time

Jo Gates (Level 4)

The story doesn't seem to go anywhere. I'd summarize it as, "Although she tried to avoid getting sick, she got sick." The scenes are described clearly and the writing is good, but it doesn't capture. If this were the first page of something more, it could have potential (perhaps she finds she likes being sick and taken care of, which would be a great conflict for a germaphobe). As it is, the whole story isn't here.

Josh Gonzalez (Level 3)

Where is the catalyst? What was resolved? Claire is a germaphobe. She works at an office. She goes shopping and gets sick. That's it? There has to be some sort of conflict for this to be a story. Claire has to move or be moved by something. You have a good character now throw something at her that will rock her world and see what she does.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I think it's a nice set up - it would be interesting to get into germaphobe's shoes for once. I was waiting for a pay off. I think you need a punchline at the end, kind of left it open or maybe it's just me. Since it's a one pager it could use some tightening perhaps. for example "looks at her watch and looks frustrated" could be just "looks at her watch frustrated".

Kisha King (Level 4)

The story is told perfectly. I can completely and clearly see everything in your description. Plus it is crazy what goes on out there with germs. I like the story because there are many people like this and I feel like you gave me a small journey through the life of a germaphobe.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Poor Claire. Suffering from a slight case of obsessive-compulsive disorder it seems, and then she ends up catching something from likely the Secretary, Employee, or Clerk. The description of her encounters are well done and relatable. Good visual details in the three locations.
Might not need to end with Claire channel surfing. The image of her propped up in bed coughing, with tissue and cough syrup nearby, may be stronger and serve like punctuation.

Lewayne White (Level 4)

It does indeed seem like a portrait of a germaphobe, though I'm not sure there's much story to the piece.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

The title's good.

Spelling and punctuation seem fine. You've written this like a short story, though. The action segments are too long - four lines is considered the limit - and they read more like paragraphs. You don't need to have perfect sentences. Edit the words down so that the idea is there, the image is there in the reader's mind, in about the time it would take to watch it happen on screen.

The story itself isn't very satisfying. The ending is a bit anticlimactic.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

This is a good comic situation, but I don't feel as if it really told a story. I like how despite her precautions she still got sick at the end, but there's not much more insight than that into who she is.


Michael Alberstadt (Level 4)

You have a good, engaging story here.

The descriptions are really wordy--probably because you're trying to show a lot——but they need to be tighter. A six-line description will make most reader's eyes glaze over.

If Claire is a neatnik, wouldn't her secretary know that?

I found the ending to be rather obvious. Of course she's going to get a cold. What COULD happen to make the ending more startling? Brainstorm other options before you begin your rewrite.

This is one of the better concepts I've read so far. Now reach and make it sparkle!

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

This is a nice observation on a tortured group of people. It makes me feel sad that some people have to live like this. I wonder if the preservatives in the chips and chemicals in the cleaners affect her immune system.

But I suspect that to inspire this kind of thought after reading this piece was part of the initiative.

Good work.

Nicholas Ziolkowski (Level 4)

I definitely would like to see a little more happen with Claire. I think it'd be a nice treat to explore of her phobia in terms of how she even has to get ready to leave for work, as opposed to just little snippets of people being sick and things of that nature.

Also, I'd work on trying to cut back on the big blocks of text. I know this contest was very limited in terms of length, but I think that helps force us to really find the meat of the story.

Good job.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5)

Claire is a germaphobe, however, all the things that gross her out are actually pretty gross even to non-germaphobes. If a cashier sneezes in his hand instead of elbow a lot of people will be grossed out. If someone makes a sandwich in front of me and wipes sweat off their face, you think I'll be okay with eating this sandwich? No way! My point is if Claire is a germaphobe she should be absolutely ridiculous on this subject, let's say she wouldn't seat at a table to eat the sandwich because she thinks about how many people sat at this same table before her. Otherwise, she shouldn't be called this name.

Another thing, your action lines are not lines at all, they are chunky paragraphs. Thing them out.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

So she gets sick in the end anyway? Expected a bigger twist, like her living as a slob or something, or being a sewage inspector, I dunno.

Interesting wording and very visual, your ending is unfortunately a bit of a let down.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I have to admit, part of me identifies with Claire.

This has a anticlimactic fell to it and I think that's because Claire doesn't arc very much. She was right all along and didn't learn anything.

Your narrative paragraphs are too thick and you're using too many words to convey minor character actions.


Pete Barry (Level 5)

Poor Claire. You just can't win. Though I suppose it's not too bad: if the payoff is, she gets sick, welcome to everybody's world - sometimes, you just get sick.

The initial setup contains some flawed logic: from the title and Claire's doorknob avoidance, you've set up the character's neurosis. The very next thing she does is take a piece of candy from an open dish on a desk. I don't know if the candy is supposed to be hers and hers alone, but usually candy dishes are public property, or at least exposed-to-air food. I can't see a real germaphobe having one, and it blows the conceit in the first paragraph. And these days, you're not going to find a sandwich shop guy making a sandwich with bare hands: the FDA would shut you down.

Some of the language could be a bit more elegant: flashing an "I'm going to kill you" smile is not only awkward but hard to imagine. Doubled up words like "looks at her watch and looks frustrated" make for bumpy reading - in fact, Claire "looks" at a lot of things in the script. Ultimately, I don't have much sympathy for her - she just seems angry at everybody, and she doesn't change much or even get much of a comeuppance.

It's a decent idea at the core, now you've just got to develop it a bit more.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

I'mactually pretty close to being just like Claire. :).

I really enjoyed reading about all the disgusting encounters claire had during the day. I just wished for a different ending than the "she got sick anyway" ending you have now. You can get a cold through airborne bacteria. What Claire didn't like was other people's disgusting germ spreading behaviors. Would have been funnier IMHO if she had got hurt or something while avoiding the germs of others. I'll vote good on this one.

Good luck.

Robert Newcomer (Level 4)

This one is teeters on the edge of being too verbose, and it lacks a good payoff.

For example, you describe Claire opening the door with her sleeve, then describe how she is careful not to touch the door handle, which seems repetitive. Similarly, "She looks at her watch and looks frustrated" is a wasted sentence here.

Small things, of course, but this writing is dense for a script -- and a whole feature written like this would feel like a novel.

But I was amused at Claire's plight, and the thought of her washing her groceries was a good one.

But the end carries no punch. I have no alternative suggestions off the top of my head, but the current ending is a let-down to a decent set-up.


Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I was hoping for some sort of twist at the end, but really this story is pretty much on the nose. No matter what Claire does, she still ends up getting sick. But there's no real punch to the story. It was sort of matter of fact. Not really strong enough for a short film.

Sean Chipman (Level 4)

There were also a large amount of problems with this script, too.

I wonder if it was a stylistic choice to use the less common spelling of germophobia instead of what you did use. It's also not the proper medical term, but most people know it was germophobia so it's not big deal.

However, story-wise, there were issues. Germophobics would almost never be caught dead in a place as public as a supermarket. Never. More than likely, they'd take some of their disability money (which would be likely for them to have, unless they have a stay-at-home job, which your main character doesn't) and call a store and have them deliver the food to their place.

But, forgetting all that, you used paragraphs of prose. It was literally like reading a book. Almost all of them were five or six lines. They should really be shorter; no more than three if you can avoid it and you should be able to.

I'll just avoid the fact that your story really doesn't have much of an ending. I get it. She got sick despite her precautions. But, the character still didn't experience anything new.

There's no way I can't give this story this.


Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

This was a nice slice of life and there are definitely germophobes out there - the part about the sweaty sandwich maker grossed me out. And although well written, this read more like a novel than a script. I would have preferred to see less scene changes and more relationship between Claire and her co-workers to accomplish the desired result. The ending was weak, it needed better set-up, like Claire has a big day tomorrow so in addition to being germo-phobic it's important that she does not get sick.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

You forgot to give this story an ending! So she gets sick at the end, so what? What does the character do about it? You had a pretty good arc going there but it was cut off with the abrupt end.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

This feels like like a single set of scenes from a larger script. I say this because there really is no point to what is on that single page. No beginning, middle and end.

Also, your tracts of description are far too long. You need to practice your word economy.

Tom Ianieri (Level 1)

Not bad at all and I think I can relate to Claire's plight, been in her shoes (not literally) a thousand or more times and just didn't know if I should feel pity for the poor person toughing it out and doing their job to make a living or if I'd smack them with a fresh package of celery or just clear the store and go elsewhere. The no dialogue tells us what Claire is thinking and having to take a deep breath and deal with the sick folks around her.
Nicely done.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

Great setup but no payoff. She can't just get sick. There has to be something that's worth the risk for her to get ill.

You write well, but we need a climactic finish.

William Flink (Level 3)

Title is good

I guess you'll be hearing this a lot though, your descriptive text is too thick, usually I believe it's 3 lines max. So try slim it down. Obviously much easier without the one page rule.

Story is kind of thin but straight. I don't feel I get enough "personality" out of the main character, what I see is that she's got a phobia/compulsion, which you do portray pretty accurately.

The ending is good but not too surprising, as this is pretty typical for people with this compulsion "no matter how hard you try, you'll still get sick sooner or later" ~ I hear this all the time myself.

I'd say slim the descriptive text down. Increase the interaction between the main characters and her surroundings, a response from the sick staff in the store for example.

Comments Made After the Contest

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