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"Layne in Chains" by Mike Senkpiel

Logline: A young man is warned of the danger in looking for his missing father.

Genre: Drama

Cast Size: 2

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

Contest: Two Strangers (Mar. 2012)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Interesting title.

You might want to establish the rainfall before we meet Layne.

"Layne looks angry and hurt" You're telling us not showing us. What are the features of someone angry and hurt? Clenched fists? Pursed lips? Narrow eyes? Folded arms? You have a great example with "Layne pauses, looks down, taps his heel."

Layne has a tough exterior. I don't picture him tearing up in front of a stranger.

The ending feels out of place. Layne leaves on a positive note, yet for some reason he gives in to doing drugs with his father?

The end monologue is too long.

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

The pace was a bit slow. No real surprises or suspense. The writing was actually really good in my opinion. I thought the descriptive writing was done really well. I have this feeling that you had a better ending in mind, but you went with the lengthy dialogue at the end because of space...if I'm wrong then I apologize.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

A rhyming title!

A little bit of a theme in this contest! This is the third story about absent the way, that's not a minus point, just an observation.

Well, I thought this was very good right up to the last very long speech, which disappointed me. After a very good opening four and a half pages, it's a shame to finish on a piece of pure exposition - which was also predictable, when I think about it.

Chris Setten (Level 4)

I'm a big Alice in Chains fan so I get it. I thought the writing was excellent for the most part. The story was solid for the first three pages and you inserted a nice reveal with the grandfather identifying himself as such. After that the story unravelled and fizzled to the end. You need a punchy ending and more of a story. You're writing skills are solid.

Christina Anderson (Level 4)

This is not a whole story. There's a beginning. An ending. But no middle-- no substance.

Nor does the ending reference the beginning-- that meeting with Bob meant nothing to Layne, so why should it mean something to us?

Darren Seeley (Level 3)

Nice attempt, but I had a tough time buying the story. A real tough time. Am I supposed to believe these two people have never met or corresponded before this story? It would be one thing if Layne did't know where to find his father and his lead was a grandfather he didn't know. But...the cruical line is that his father left with he was seven years old. Therefore, he would know something about his grandfather and the grandfather would know something about him. It doesn't really work - and it shows in the script.

The last scene is confusing. It felt tacked on and now we find out Layne did drugs with his father. It comes right out of left field, and seems forced.

A few margins are off as far as techs go.

David Serra (Level 4)

Lots of missing script uses of: BOB/LAYNE (Con't), LAYNE (V.O.), and a few uneven sentances.

I liked the idea of this piece but I think it needs to be fixed and strengthened up a bit.

Denise Jewell (Level 5)

Clever title and clever idea. I looked up the story and see some of your details seem to be right on the mark, but the story overall is imagined. I like the idea very much, and the conversation with the grandfather is wonderful. The final "suicide note" does seem almost cliche'. I didn't find anything online that verified he actually wrote such a note, so I'm guessing you created it. Real or created, I think the last page hurts the overall story. I think you could have shown us this somehow without the text - perhaps a scrawled note from his father that says "Need cash for another bump," along with maybe pictures of him with his band and maybe a paparazi photo of him and his dad super high with a caption that says "Like father, like son."

I also think you could tone down the "on the nose" dialogue from the grandfather and be more subtle. But overall, this is a good read, and would make a great little short film.

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

Layne in Chains/Alice in Chains. A cautionary tale and not that bad, but the big block of dialogue at the end was pure exposition. There could be other images to show his progression, but the challenge makes it difficult. Good job altogether.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

The story had me until the end. The ending was too much “on the nose” dialogue. The writer should try to find another way to SHOW the ending.

A couple of comments...

When Layne is first introduced his hair and eye color are not mentioned. Hair color is mentioned on page one but eye color is not mentioned until a later page. If it makes a difference to the story, mention these things when the character is initally introduced. Otherwise, don't mention them at all.

Less is usually more: “He looks back the way he came.” Consider instead: “He looks behind him.”

Be careful with pronouns. Especially when there are two characters in a scene that are the same gender. Example: “Bob returns and throws Layne a towel. He turns off the TV.” The way it is written, “he” could be either Bob or Layne

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

A young man receives a warning about his drug addicted father

ENDING: The ending soliloquy does not mesh well with the prior story style. Reads better without it.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

VG. Your descriptions are superb!

Personally I would have liked it better if the scenes were swapped. If we saw the sad present day and ended on the flashback because that's more upbeat. I like end things on a good note and really his grandfather tried to give him good advice.

I just saw Moneyball and believe what they said about it's always what's last that people remember you by. Gotta win the last game of the season. So you gotta end the script on a high note.

Kelley Allen (Level 4)

Very touching script. A few suggestions: 1) You wrote an excellent description of Layne halfway through the script. You should move that description to the very first time we are introduced to Layne. 2) Would love to find out more about the grandfather in 2002. Perhaps add a little twist in there. It's needs a button to tie up the ending.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

It's touching but I think there's exposition in it. They jump too fast to the real talk. I wish I learned all the detail about his father gradually. The last part - it shows the danger of drugs, Layne has been a lowlife all these years just like his father - I wish you build up to that. Somehow I didn't know it was about the danger of drugs, I thought it was about abandonment.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

A sad story.
The interaction between Layne and his grandfather may be the story's strength. The two characters are different generations, and their contrast could be exploited a bit more. Perhaps one of them needs to talk less to emphasize the other; maybe Bob since he's older and likely more accepting that his son is no good. Layne is only 17 and could pursue information about his father from his grandfather more aggressively.
Not certain that Layne's lengthy dialogue in 2002 is necessary. It seems to reinforce what Bob warned the youngster about -- His father will "drag you into the hole with him."
Catchy and memorable title.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

I really liked where this scene was going until the final monologue. It's interesting to see how this character changes, how he ends up becoming his father, but it has far less impact to have it narrated to us instead of showing it.


MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

This is strong. Some powerful moments in here - when he refuses the hug.

I wasn't sure where it was going and it surprised me which is always good.

You mention Layne's smile on page 3 and I think you should put the teeth bit in there, it feels really out of place where it is, takes away from the emotion of the scene and pulled me out of the story. I realise why you need it but I think it needs to be done more subtly, or even if you need it at all.

The sudden chat about the audition and standing up tall and strong feels a bit odd too, like you got rushed towards the end to fit everything in beefore he monologue.

very good though, your characters are well drawn.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5)

The title is good.

At times your dialog is too blunt. At the end you made a huge information dump and it quite ruined the story.
His Grandpa says don't look for your father because he's on drugs and will pull you into it. But Layne reunited with his dad anyway. It makes me wonder what's the whole purpose of the scene where Layne meets his grandfather? Maybe start the story where Layne is famous already and his dad knocks on the door? Maybe that's where all the juice?

Pete Barry (Level 5)

This is plain spoken and fascinating, but by the end it fizzles a bit. I love long character speeches, and you earned one, but I'm not if what older Layne has to say sheds any light on Bob or anything that came before. Still, I like the conflict and drama that's inherent in the situation, not forced upon the characters by trumped-up dialogue.

The dialgoue falters occassionally, mostly when Layne admit to "getting high". It seems brazen to admit this to an old man who's just castigated his father for being a drug addict. I almost wish they had more to say to each other, but the ending is powerful enough.

This may sound incredibly stupid and petty, but the sheer number of long-a vowels I encountered at the beginning of this (Layne in Chains - Plain Grey House - DAY) made me laugh and somehow reminded me of My Fair Lady. ("Layne in Chains Stays Mainly on the Plain").

Nice job.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

The pacing and formatting is good. The spelling is good too.

A son finally finds his father when he meets his grandfather, but then he fails to listen and gets what his granddad warns him not to get into. The conflict is strong and it has a strong message. You did well telling us that he doesn’t know him, and he can do whatever he wants, and fails to believe in his grandfather.

I would cut the long line of dialogue at the end. I think you could give us a montage after the flashback and show us that Layne is doing drugs (without actually showing us that he is with his father), and then write a dialogue subtext about him not listening to grandpa.

Your actions are well told and the visuals unfold it as I read along the dialogue.
Your characters are developed, and I spent enough time with Layne and Grandpa. I just wish that you didn’t tell us what he has done at the end of the story. This would make the story a bit stronger, and it may be an excellent read. You also executed the flashback really well, and the settings you put the characters in aren’t that bad.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I'm not sure what to grade this as. I did feel a connection with Layne and his story. But the script was really full of exposition, and no showing. You could have shown us Layne's story visually, but you chose to tell it through Layne and Bob's words to each other. That doesn't work nearly as strongly as showing him. Show his father leaving him, show him trying out for the rock band. Show Show.

The ending was really a downer. I wanted Layne to have become someone, and made something of himself unlike his father. But this long monologue of what had happened to him was just very sad, and it went on way too long. I think just a short one line sentence could have been so powerful.

Try and say more with less words. And please consider Layne having a good arc, where he changes, so that the story makes us feel it was worth reading / watching.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

This was well written, and it was moving along nicely for about four pages. Then, just as it seemed like it was heading for a nice rewarding finish, it shifted gears...and got all weird. It seemed like Layne and his grandfather were starting to bond, and I was expecting to see how their relationship would play itself out on the last page, but Layne (for no apparent reason) turns on his grandfather. Why? What was that all about?

Then, in the denouement (which is actually a long-ish speech by Layne), we find out his father ultimately came back into his life and turned him into a drug addict. Huh? What a strange ending. I guess the moral of the story is "Listen to Grandpa."

I really enjoyed the first four pages, but I was very disappointed by the ending.

My score: Good.

Comments Made After the Contest

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2012 1:05 AM

Thanks everyone for your time. I wasn't sure if this worked without having all the information. I guess not.

I imagined this back story after reading Layne Staley's last interview, which I included almost verbatim at the end. It is incrediably tragic and affected me deeply, so I had to write about it.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 5/12/2012 7:45 PM

I didn't know that you could write a story based off news. Isn't that copyrighted or is it fair use?

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4) ~ 5/14/2012 9:16 AM

IMO, you can write anything about anything until someone objects. Then you have to work something out. In this case, I would just remove the script if someone threatened copyright infringement.

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