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"Hindsight" by James McConnell

Logline: A Stranger must convince Joe not to get into his car for the sake of both of their lives.

Genre: Drama

Cast Size: 2

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

Contest: Less is More (Nov. 2008)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Alan Webb Munoz (Level 3)

I would have liked a little more of a hint about who the stranger was. Just a couple of lines would do it.

Amanda Sidorowicz (Level 4)

This is very good. Format is great. Dialogue is really good. The concept is awesome. I like how the story finishes, and the reader/viewer is not left with a cliffhanger. It tells a complete story. Very nice.

The only problem I see is when Joe is described (pathetic, loser of a man). I've always been taught to show and not tell in descriptions. The way you did it looks good and sounds good, so I say go with it... it's just not what I've been told.

That's about it. By the way, awesome title.

Ammar Salmi (Level 5)

A stranger from the future tries to stop a tragedy. I liked the plot. I liked the way you told it. The surprise element is missing here. What we read is what we get. No twists, no hidden facts. Don't be so straight while telling a story. Keep it mysterious at some level.

Good luck

Ashley Croft (Level 3)

Umm, too simple. I know it's a one pager contest but you gotta really find a way to make it deep and profound and I found this to be far too one dimensional, nothing popped out.

Audrey Webb (Level 5)

I'm not sure that Joe has a chance for redemption here. The stranger kills him and I guess that prevents anyone else from being hurt. I think a happier ending might have emphasized your point more strongly.

Austin Bennett (Level 4)

What's the sign say? In a screenplay, you need to be specific enough that the reader gets an impression. Don't let the reader assume anything. Is this a western bar? Is it a gay bar? Is it a hole in the wall, troll bar? Is it a Friday night hotspot?

As written, the Stranger shoots Joe, and then says, "Damn you for making me do this." It's present tense. He should say the line first, then shoot, or say the line while shooting. I know it's a nitpick, but it's something small that'll make the script read better.

Overall, I thought the story was good. I think the Stranger could've tried harder. He can obviously kill, so he isn't "God". Why not have the Stranger physically pull him from the car, or at least push him away from the car? Something besides killing him right off the bat. There's not enough conflict. And I think there's room for it, too, if you cut out other things.

Bill Delehanty (Level 4)

When you first describe Joe, how do we know he is a loser? Because you're telling us? Figure out a way to show this. I thought this was going to be a guardian angel type of thing, but it turned out to be some stranger killing someone who killed a family? Unless I'm missing something. Decent writing though, keep that up.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

Well, this one seemed like there was potential for something cool but it ended up confusing me. Who is the stranger? Why would he issue a warning before killing someone? Why would the stranger kill Joe for seemingly no reason? And when he says "I know you've regretted getting in to that car, regretted the aftermath.", it doesn't flow well or make any sense. Joe isn't in the car yet so how has he regretted it or the aftermath if it hasn't happened yet? It could just be that you put it in past tense when it should have been in present, but it just wound up making the whole story confusing. It had potential, raised some interesting questions, but then failed to answer any of them. Nice effort, but needs some polish.

Bryan Mora (Level 4)

Descriptions are good, but reading into it i found these odd:

"Joe staggers to his car, almost unable to walk. He fumbles
for his keys, begins to unlock his sorry excuse for a car."

Try to save space, Either Joe is staggering or not. No need to add almost unable to walk. At least take out the almost. Be clear on what you want. Also, what exactly is a sorry excuse for a car? Is it busted up? Try to be specific.

Now with your story. A lot questions come up. When the stranger passed the newspaper i originally thought JOE killed them in a car accident(while intoxicated) and the stranger was coming for revenge. But nothing was clear.

If i were watching this onscreen i'd honestly find it a waste of time. A one pager is supposed to be tight and a full story. This wasn't.


Calvin Peat (Level 4)

This script is simple and impactful. It's reasonably well-written, with effective, straightforward exposition.

The Stranger's first line is unexpected, and really grabs the reader's attention.

I like how the Stranger throws the newspaper onto the hood. It works cinematically, and it gets the exposition across quickly and simply.

However, if the Stranger knew so much, why didn't he just go to the police about Joe? Also, Joe's actions are somewhat stupid, although maybe that's the point.

"JOE (20s) a pathetic, loser of a man," should be "JOE (20s), a pathetic loser of a man,"

"the STRANGER (60s) silver haired man with a tired haggard face" should be "the STRANGER (60s), silver-haired man with a tired, haggard face".

"Joe slumps back dead" should be "Joe slumps back, dead".

I like how there are little hints scattered throughout that the Stranger might regret his actions; as if, in the back of his mind, he's wondering whether the ends really do justify the means.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

This was clever - I found it quite confusing, but clever. I think the ending was very abrupt. Maybe if, in the newspaper we see a picture of Joe? I don't know.

This was well-written. Well done!

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

Cool story, but who is the old guy. Was hoping for at least a clue at the end. Figuring he was related to the earlier victims.
Nice that you set it up to seem as though the old man is telling the future, when in reality it's the past.
Think you need a bit more set-up, but this was good. Enjoyed it.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

A scene in the life of. It's hard to contain an emotional complete story in one page. I think the story was good. I thought it would have more punch if the time traveler turned out to be himself. I'm guessing this was a longer piece that was pared down to one page. Don't feel bad I did the same thing.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I think this is a great setup for a longer story.

Unless the stranger is Joe (in some form), but if that is the case, you need to show us some sign of that. Perhaps Joe recognizes himself or the gunshot wounds them both.

Your craft is very good, but with the story as it is now, I left with a few too many questions.

Dan Lennox (Level 5)

This wasn't bad, I just thought it was a bit predictable from the start. I also found some of the dialogue to be a bit on the nose and cliche at best. Who is this stranger and what is his motivation for being the perverbial "do-good'er"? I don't think this is bad, just a little flat and common.

David Birch (Level 5)

formatted well...nice dialogue...some things to like here...what you don't need is "almost unable to walk"...staggers covers it...opening slug might better read EXT. NEON BAR SIGN - NIGHT...flickers, then goes dark. just a thought...solid overall effort...

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

I like the story in general. There are some things I would edit out to snap up the script. For instance, a little thing: once you’ve said “Joe staggers to his car …” I think the “almost unable to walk” phrase says the same thing and adds nothing new to the action. Why not combine the two phrases and quicken the pace of the read. Don’t tell us the same thing twice.

I wished at the end that Joe would drive off, complete his terrible mission. That I think would have ended the story on a more staggering note.

Again, I like the story. And thanks for having a story, something a number of the one-page scripts lacked.

Dean Lines (Level 1)

I quite enjoyed this. You certainly set the scene very quickly and the characters were well defined in just a few sentences. A one page script has to be tough. But I do think knowing the title beforehand defiantly helps out things together for the reader. It's an extra clue as to what's going on that I may not have got from the script itself. If that makes any sense.

One critisism I could give would be in the writing of the action lines. Especially at the start. A little too much repetition of words. I know it sound silly but that always pulls me out right away. Joe/Joe, Car/Car could become Joe/He and Car/Vehicle quite painlessly and lose a minor unneeded annoyance instantly.

Other than that, well done on a nice tragic little tale told in a ridiculously short space of time.

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

So does the stranger know the future and that Joe will drive drunk and kill these people? The writing is tight, visuals precise, but this reads more like an extreme viewpoint, or ad for MADD than a cohesive story. You obviously know your craft but this overreaches a one page story, although I'm sure you will disagree for some reason. There are strong feelings and a statement here, but that doesn't make it a story. I didn't feel anything but hatred for drunk drivers which could be the goal of this short.

A small technical note: How do you begin to do something, you either do it or don't. Begins to needs to be shown. Is the key in his hand? Does he stick it in the lock? How do you begin to unlock a car.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

Well written. Can't decide if I like it or not but it held my attention to the end. I guess my problem is I'm not sure if I understand the story.

Javier Torregrosa (Level 4)

It started off interesting and it was getting better sucking me in. Then the ending was like, why did he do that? It doesn't make sense. A warning to prevent a mistake that sounds separate from the event itself. The stranger seemed to lose it and kill Joe for no reason. The title is misleading as there is no hindsight. It just sounds silly in the end. A plausible reason at the end would of finished this nicely. I definitely think there is scope for a bigger story here. If you expand on this I can tell that without the restrictions that this possible can turn out to be the story you want it to be. Then again, I maybe wrong.

All the best.

Jim Brown (Level 3)

I like the gritty feel of this story: it's like Early Edition noir. And by not spelling everything out, you left the mystery in it, while still getting across what happened.

It's limited in its emotional impact: I didn't really care about the characters.

Joel Davis (Level 5)

Nice descriptions. Kind of a dark "Ghost of Christmas future" feel to it. The newspaper is a little too expository and over the top, if there was a more integrated way to show us the possible future (maybe simply a flash-forward), then I think this would be a strong piece.

John Brooke (Level 5)

Death as a silver haired newspaper man delivers tomorrows news today. A wonderful theatrical device you’ve created here. Ah, Enter divine intervention out of the barrel of a revolver. Point blank, no argument. Told simply and dramatically.

I liked the Stranger dialogue line: “Damn you for making me do this.” as he shoots and kills Joe.

Jon Hill (Level 4)

Random thoughts:

I think it would be better if the newspaper headline read something like: “DRUNK DRIVER KILLS EIGHT PEOPLE” – just be a little more direct.

Why does the Stranger have to kill Joe? Is it better that one man die instead of eight? Couldn’t the Stranger just have shot the car tyres instead? Perhaps the story would have more impact if the driver had killed the Stranger’s family.

Your story is good but it only seems half there.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

I enjoyed this script much. I feel like the stranger was actually a Joe from the future who was given a chance to travel back in time and rectify his dark deed of the past.

Tight writing, sparse and proper descriptions, and an excellent dialogue made this script an excellent one pager. The newspaper was an a very well used device. I can't say anything else other than Excellent work!

Oh, great title by the way.

Kathy Thomas (Level 3)

I really liked the premise of this story. I just felt that I was missing information. Who is this Stranger? Is it Joe from the future? Hence the title. I don't need it to be there in my face but just something. Maybe in the dialogue.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

Oh, if only you'd included a future date on that newspaper! Oh, oh, oh! Without that vital piece of information, the Stranger just looks like a lunatic instead of a creepy pre-cog out of "Minority Report". It sucked all the juice out of your obviously well-worked script.

The other point is Joe's young age. He's a "pathetic loser of a man", but yet he's only in his 20s. I normally think of "pathetic losers" as in their 20s, sure, but if you tack the "of a man" phrase on the end of it, I instinctively think of an older hobo in his 40s or 50s. Just a thought.

Very good.

Lewayne White (Level 4)

Decent story. Seen variations of it before, but this one is well-enough done.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

What do you mean by your opening? Is the sign neon and only some of the letters are lit up? If that's the case you might want to use the name or what the glowing letters spell out as part of the story. Maybe something like "End of the Road..." whatever. If it's fluff, cut it down or out.

Watch the use of commas. It's something to work on. I overuse them myself. They take up less room than "beat." ;)

I like your story. I'd like it more as a 5 pager. It's okay the way it is, but it doesn't feel totally complete.

Good work.

Marla Brecheen (Level 4)

Is this a future situation or did it already happen? That is what I was confused at. Great pacing and storytelling. It does also feel like it was just a beginning of something more.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Wouldn't that be great if all drunk driving fatalatiees could be intercepted like that.

Interesting idea. I like the concept. Not sure about the stranger though. was he human? Was he a ghost? I would have liked some kind of explanation on who he was and how he happened to have a newspaper from the future. Without something it was just too unbelievable.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

Your story of vigilante justice stuck with me long after I read it. I liked how the car crash was set up, never actually being said, but easy to deduce. Maybe I was expecting more from the ending, but him just shooting Joe felt unsatisfactory.

Also, the stranger - he was much more interesting than Joe. I really wanted to know more about him, how he can know what Joe felt about the accident.

"Joe faces the STRANGER (60s) silver haired man with a tired haggard face."
This sentence doesn't make sense. Imagine it without the brackets:
"Joe faces the STRANGER silver haired man with a tired haggard face."

I would suggest "Joe faces the unfamiliar silver-haired MAN with a tired haggard face" as a replacement.

Martin Lancaster (Level 4)

Good concept, but I feel like I've seen it before. The omniscient stranger, the "how do you know my name?" It all feels very familiar.

Good story but not the most original.

Matt Johnson (Level 3)

This is certainly an odd one. A very out there yet plausible story. I could see this turn into a pretty good 120 paged script. Thing is though, it needs more hmmmm something different, an element that can make it stand out from the others. A very interesting plot though, good job.

Melissa Mitchell (Level 4)

Beginning, middle, end, and conflict. That's an accomplishment in a 1-page script. I liked that you showed us the real story and that we also understood a backstory. This is very straightforward, no surprises, no character arcs (granted you only have 1 page), so I felt no payoff after reading it. I didn't like the stranger's last line because the stranger made a choice just like Joe did. Decent work, though.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

This set my imagination racing and came up with the Stranger being a time travelling vigilante who stops crimes before they happen by wiping out the perpetrators. You leave the audience to fill in the blanks which creates a much bigger story than what's actually on the page which is very clever for a 1 pager and I applaud you.

My one piece of advice would be with your description of Joe, you write something that wouldn't translate onto the screen without a description:

'a pathetic loser of a man' - I would suggest writing a visual that tells us he is a loser i.e : Joe, blind drunk with a bloody nose and vomit on his shoes is thrown out of the bar.

I've just clocked your title so I'm guessing the stranger is Mr. Hindsight - I like it.

Neal Barringer (Level 0)

I was entertained by this one-pager. I think it will play well on screen. it seems, to me, to be very cinematic. It is a complete story with introductions, some conflict, and a resolution. the resolution was surprising and satisfying. I can't find anything I would change about it. and, I don't see anything that needs improvement.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I'm a little lost with this one...Is this Stranger like a Charles Bronson, running around, preemptively killing drunk drivers?

Is he from the future? How does he know Joe's name?

Excellent screenwriting with tight action sentences. Formatted correctly, didn't detect any typos.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

This is not bad but for me it is one of the entries this month that is not quite a complete story. You have set up an interesting paradox with a moral dimension and I was expecting it to end with something that shows the story looping around. Perhaps you have done but very subtly.

If the Stranger had bullet wounds appear after he shoots and had instantly decomposed to a rotted corpse then I think this would work well because the looping paradox would be clear to see.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

Pretty good and well written.

My only gripe here would be the third shot fired by the stranger. After the stranger says "damn you for making me do this" the following shot just seems like overkill and diminishes the role of the stranger. IMHO.

Raymond Belair (Level 3)

Almost, but not quite. Without knowing who or what the stranger is, this falls flat. Joe doesn't have a real choice to make - he's drunk out of his skull, so he can't be expected to make a rational decision with any kind of judgement. If the stranger confronted him before he went into the bar, it might have been more convincing. Why couldn't the stranger just take away Joe's keys, or disable his car? Too many loose ends and too much left unexplained for this to have any meaningful impact.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Interesting take but the headline confused me. If the stranger shoots Joe dead, does that not alter the future and thus the headline as well. Those people won't be killed. At least that's what I thought you were going for. The Stranger needs a clear voice. At first you allude to the fact that Joe does drive away (then kills people recklessly). The voice tells him he lives to regret it -- then the voice changes the course of history by killing Joe -- maybe it would be better to leave out the line - 'I know you've regretted getting in that car.' Does it matter that the Stranger is 60's with gray hair? Why not give the Stanger a name? Like the title but given the title and the set up, the ending didn't work for me.

Rob Gross (Level 4)

Cool title. This script was very clear and tightly written. I liked that you simply called the stranger a "stranger". Good, vivid description of Joe leaving the bar. A nice one pager. Well done.

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

Was the older stranger, Joe from the future? He regrets that after being drunk he's gonna cause the accident and kill innocent children.

But then this is the paradox with time travel or alternate reality, or meeting your other self kinda scenario.

It is obvious that Joe is very much alive, as we can see by his future self. And now future Joe kills present Joe. So the newspaper headlines changing would be a better clue than the other Joe disappearing.

Now I've confused myself.

The title hints at this, the bar sign, would have been nice to see rather than describing some letters are missing.

All in all, this needs more work than a set-up kinda scenario you have created. Single page stories that have a complete plot are tough to write.

I don't think I did that great a job either. But I can tell you, some have pulled it off.

This one needs a five page count, at the least.

Write on!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

Interesting story. I see what you were trying to do. I am not sure if I'm buying it though. I like the idea of the stranger, (I assume some sort of angel?) trying to stop him from getting in the car, so he won't kill himself and others, by driving drunk.

But then when the stranger kills Joe, that just didn't make sense to me. This left me with a lot more questions than answers.

Sasha Clancy (Level 4)

Good story. You build it up nicely. I like your minimalist descriptions. You don't waste any words but still make yourself very clear. Good job. However, I got the feeling this was the beginning (or perhaps end) of something bigger not an entire story. From the story, I wasn't clear as to whether Stranger is a good samaritain taking filth off the street or if it's a "person" from the future coming back to keep something from happening. I know from the title, it's the later but it would be better if you could make it more clear in the story.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

A good, interesting story. Every person who's lost a loved one to a drunk driver wishes this could be true. My only comment is that it could use a little polishing in punctuation and word selection. For example, there's probably a more eloquent way to say "The letters that aren't broken turn off." And no comma is required in "a pathetic, loser of a man." These may seem like nit-picking comments (and they are), but those are in the first two lines of the screenplay, and you know what they say about first impressions. But, nit-picking aside, this is a good little piece. A complete story in one page. Good job.

Shaheryar Ahmed (Level 4)

Your story was not clear to me and I guess that did not live upto the part of the contest. Other than that the idea behind it seems to be very confusing. Who is the stranger and why did he just vanished like that. The newspaper headline. What about it? I guess he was thrown out of the bar because he was over drunk and must have been doing something. but the thing is what and who is the stranger. is he GOD??? an angel??? Confusing?

Shane Shearer (Level 4)

A much more climatic way to have ended this would be to have him go ahead and drive off, fulfilling the legacy of the newspaper article. It just seemed tacked on for Joe to be shot by the stranger, his gun falling to the ground, and him disappearing into thin air, all the while his gun is still on the ground. That leaves too many metaphysical questions behind, for instance: was he a ghost? was he from the future? how can he disappear, yet his gun is tangible? What was the point of the newspaper article if the stranger was just going to kill him anyways.

None of this should be taken as concrete. It's just my personal opinion, as a potential audience member. These are just the questions I'd be asking after viewing this.

Other than that, it's not poorly written or anything. Just needs some minor rewriting work and you'll have it!

Stephen Brown (Level 5)

Pretty sweet. I liked the idea of the premise here...and the mystery behind what's really going on doesn't harm it. It's intreaging and I'd have liked to know more, which I think is a good thing.

The above also counts against it though. To really stand out in this competition, I think you need to have a clear premise and a complete story. I think you only have the premise here. Still GOOD though.

Stephenie Ruffin (Level 4)

I thought this was just okay. The first line I think you could simplify. In the story, you bring out the mystery, but when the story ends, the mystery still remains. Who is this stranger? How does he know Joe's name? What is his purpose? I felt it was too convenient to have the stranger just disappear in the end. I thought your dialog was good but towards the end, I thought your descriptions were a little choppy. (Fair)

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Cool twist on the paradox of time travel. I suggest making the Stranger somehow recognizable "hey, do I know you, you look familiar" so we get a stronger sense of what's coming.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

I love the vague backstory that's hinted at in this story. I'm guessing Joe was a drunk driver at some point. I thought the Stranger's dialogue was a little too stiff, perhaps a bit too fatherly and all. Some of your writing was a little off, nothin major.

Teo Gonzalez (Level 4)

I have to say, your story is very unresolved. We want to know, just as Joe, who is the stranger, how does he know what he knows, and why does he does what he does.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

This type of script is right in my wheel house... unfortunately, I think it could have been handled a bit more adeptly.

Drunk or not, everyone takes a gun aimed at them seriously. I think the OLD JOE should have explained who he is, why he's there... not threatened the gun outright. Try to convince a drunk man of something, have real tension build... then, when reason doesn't work, shoot with no warning.

It just felt too rushed, too predictable.

Tommy Merry (Level 4)

Good stuff

one point that was confusing was the sentence:
"I know you’ve regretted getting into that car, regretted the aftermath. "
did you mean to say
"I know you’ll regret getting into that car, regret the aftermath. "
If not, it doesn't make any sense to me.

What you wrote implies that the stranger already Knows what Joe's going to do
which would make him some kind of angel, and angel that toting guns ;-)

Unless its a trip into the past by a vengeful angle thats hellbent on
stopping a drunk from a potential accident that kils and innocent family,
and if that's what your going for its a BIG reach, for me to swallow.

That sentence aside, Good work!

Wes Worthing (Level 5)

Well, this one is up to the reader/viewer to interpret; is the stranger someone who can predict the future, or is from the future, or is psychotic? If the stranger is legit, then Joe will still regret getting into the car although the other 7 people will still be alive, so the Stranger wasn't there to save Joe as much as save the others. Since you described Joe as a "loser of a man", then it's hard to root for him, so I don't really care if he dies or not. But maybe that's beside the point, perhaps you want this to lead to discussion and opinions, so here is mine: The Stranger is genuine, he kills Joe because his family are the people Joe killed in a drunk-driving accident. If you don't want to end this totally subjective, then maybe ending with a closeup on the newspaper that has a picture of the Stranger and his family.

William Coleman (Level 5)

I am confused by your script. Is this some a kind of morality play. if so, its logic eludes me. The STRANGER shooting drunken JOE sidesteps the moral issue you are dealing with and muddles what I think you are trying to say. That is, somewhere inside of all of us there is a voice telling us not to do something that might be fatal to us or others. Having the Stranger shoot Joe lets Joe off the moral hook and denies him a choice, a choice we all make. This infers there are a lot of Strangers running around shooting possibly lethal drunken drivers. Otherwise your script is clear and moves along nicely.

There is another possibility to me and that is that the Stranger is taking revenge for something Joe did in the past. This would work better, but it is not clear which way you are going with your script. If you are going this direction your script makes a little more sense. I like ambiguity and loose ends and unresolved endings, but I am not sure where you are going with your script. You write well. Focus more on what you rerally intend to say.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

Who's the Stranger? You built something up really well, but there's no payoff for the Stranger from the future. The Stranger can't be Joe because this is worse than the time-traveling "Grandfather Paradox" - if Joe kills himself, he will never exist ever on any level.

"A bar’s sign. The letters that aren’t broken turn off." Which letters and does the bar have a name? A clever name can be truly revealing.

How do we know that Joe's "a pathetic loser"? That description works for a short story, but not for something an audience will see on screen.

William Dunbar (Level 5)

Not sure what was going on here. Obviously the stranger is trying to stop him from doing something he's already done, but who is the stranger anyway? I think there's too much here to fit in one page, and you need a little more space to tie everything up. It's a good idea, though, if you can put it all together well.

William Flink (Level 3)

Nicely written, I like how you write for example "his sorry excuse for a car", makes me picture his car without you having to feed me with specific details, and you did it with only 6 words.

the story is pretty straight on, simple, but it works. There's somewhat of a depth to Joe's character revealed when the stranger throws the newspaper onto the hood. That stranger could as well be a psycho as he could be some sort of angel or time traveller and I like that that is kept open, that it's not thrown in our face.

Zhibo Lai (Level 1)

My interpretation was that the message of this story about a stranger trying to convince Joe not to drink and drive.. Looks like the newspaper article was result of Joe's drunk driving accident and Joe is about to do it again. This is what I got from a 2nd reading. Good work.

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