What works: There is a potential here for an Alfred Hitchcock type thriller in which an innocent man gets involved in something way over his head and has to use his wits to get out of the mess he’s found himself in. One of the best scenes that demonstrates this is on pg. 49, where * pretends to be a customer in order to get away from *.
I liked * as a prophetess and thought she was an intriguing little personality. She’s mysterious, yet fun, and is effective in her little scene with *. Also, the idea that she purposely died to save * is intriguing. The use of * is also interesting and the ending of *’s death and the parallel to the story of Appointment in Samara holds potential and does contain a certain poignancy.
There were certain individual scenes that worked. The */* scene when the conversation turned and it became clear that * was giving * a personality test (pg. 19).
There were times when the contrast between the *’s philosophy and modern technology were effective, such as bikes able to get farther faster because they’re not hampered by traffic; * frustrated with the computer in the hospital (pg. 25—a good parallel to frustrations with calling customer service and only getting a recording).
The use of *’s Catholicism is a good idea.
The characters, though I had some reservations, do generally talk like people and have a basic personality.
Good scenes and lines:
D-Clone Labs: We Bring Good Seeds to Life is very clever
Appointment in Samara movie, a nice touch
Don’t get Mad, Get Even
What doesn’t work:
The author should consider changing the date from 2020. 2020 is very close to now (or at least close to the year when the movie will get made, assuming it takes five years to get made and released from now). The author might consider making it 2050 (as a variation of 2005—re, 1984 was written in 1948) or something similar like 2500.
The first issue the author might consider is that he may not have found his story or conflict yet because there seems to be a lot of stories and conflicts and I’m not sure the author has found the way to tie it all together. There is the conflict between *s and * over technology. There is the serotonin deaths. There is the * preaching that there is a second coming. There is * being the chosen one. There is *’s story, giving birth to another chosen one, which may be slowing down the plot because it doesn’t interact with *s enough. There is * wanting * out in order to tear down the building his office is in. There is the parallel to the story of Appointment in Samara. I had a hard time pulling all these different strands together. And the author might consider that he may be over complicating the plot unnecessarily.
One of the problems here may be that the story right now is not really about people, but about an idea (or ideas, which may be an additional problem). The main difference between this and a Hitchcock film is that for Hitchcock the character came first and the idea (or maguffin) came second. Another difference is that here the maguffin is very important whereas for Hitchcock it was very unimportant and it could be anything. It’s fine for the maguffin to be as important as the characters, but the characters still need to come first.
I’m not really sure I got to know * all that well. There were moments (such as when he and * talk about the eviction; he and * have their scene; some of the * and * scene in the elevator), but the rest of the time, he seemed a bit nebulous and it also took a long time for me to get to know what I did about him. Even in some of these scenes, at times * seems to say things (like his comments against technology and comments against “Christian Punk”) that the author wanted him to say, not that he would say. This was also true for some of the other characters. In the end, I never knew why he was so opposed to technology, why he repaired watches (which is technology), why he was so isolated and kept to himself so much, why he didn’t want to take up the *’s generous offer and move. I also didn’t feel like I got to know * much better. I also didn’t know why she was so against technology. It may also be unclear why * works for the * if he believes in a different religion.
The author talks a lot about religion, especially Christian religion, but I had two difficulties with this. One, here religion permeates this society in such a way that it doesn’t now. Everything revolves around religion, from street preachers, to stores, to TV shows, etc. It may be unclear why the U.S. has undergone such an extreme religious “conversion”.
Second, like the plot, there seemed to be a lot of different strands of religion and this sometimes confused me. For example, there seemed to be three or four different beliefs in a second coming of a Messiah. There was a street preacher in the beginning (but I wasn’t totally sure what his Messiah was about). There was * trying to protect * because he’s the chosen one. There was the * belief in a second coming (I never really understood how a second coming worked into * or how it benefited them). There was * giving birth to a Messiah, but I wasn’t sure how he was going to be the Messiah.
People are going to assume that * is Scientology and that * is someone like Tom Cruise. But there seem to be important differences, as well, and the author may need to address this.
Also, when it came to *, by pg. 30 I didn’t really understand what was so awful about their beliefs. One: I was never quite sure what their beliefs were. The only mention of them is * who said their goal was to avoid suffering (as opposed to Catholicism, but it may be unclear what is so bad about this) and that * is trying to avoid paying taxes. But since the author hasn’t demonstrated that it isn’t really a religion, it may be unclear why they should have to pay taxes. The author seems to also want to draw a parallel to * and modern technology, i.e., * is bad because modern technology is bad, and I didn’t really see the parallel, why * supporting modern technology is bad (or that they particularly support modern technology any more than any other organization). At this point, the author may be depending too much on the audience drawing parallels to * and Scientology, but just drawing the parallel isn’t enough. The author really has to demonstrate there’s something wrong with *.
Also, the author might consider that at this point, the followers of * seem to be very happy, together people, while * and even * seem rather sad, isolated people. Is this a conscious choice?
* is a good character, but at this point she may come too much out of nowhere, and the author may want to do more with her introduction (pg. 13). She may work fine, but it’s something to consider. And it is suggested that the author dramatize her purposely walking in front of the *and *’s car. I was never quite sure how the watch fit in.
From a plot standpoint, for me the story doesn’t really start until pg. 47, when * has to flee for his life. Up til then, * didn’t seem to have a goal or do anything.
I was also unsure about the scene on pg. 53, that it quite works yet.
On pg. 95, * comments about the heifer being genetically engineered as if that would mean it doesn’t count as part of the prophecy of the second coming, but I’m not so sure.
The ending with *, though it has a poignancy, puzzled me. It may be unclear why * was surprised to see her in the hospital. The hospital is not so far away from where he was to meet her that he should be surprised. In Appointment in Samara, death saw the hero in a totally different city.
Other things to consider:
Surveillance cameras: consider leaving off the ostensibly to enforce traffic regulations—there are cameras around and they are very clearly for surveillance
It may be unclear why the billboard says The Messiah is Coming (who would pay for that ad) or what the payoff is
Are we suppose to know this is * (on the earlier billboard, it doesn’t mention a picture of *)
It may be unclear why the Talk Show Host only compares * to Catholicism; that would apply to most Christian religions and would also be in opposition to most Eastern religions, if not Islam
I wasn’t sure what the robot meant by “One of you gentlemen not eating?”
It is suggested that * call the police for *
It may be unclear that * is being disingenuous when she seems to be against messing around with nature
It may be unclear why *’s going to the hospital, or why would she go to a * hospital
How did the doctor and nurse not see *
Small detail—Immaculate conception refers to the birth of Mary, not Jesus
I was unsure why the author continued to list specific ads in the elevator
This reader didn’t understand the relationship between the experiment on the cats and *’s belief that SS is purposely given to people so that pills will be sold to combat it
It may be unclear that the audience will recognize * as *; it may be unclear why * doesn’t ask why * brought up the accident
Christ rose on the eighth day?
The purpose of this scene may be unclear
Why would it be hard to get a picture of *
Why did the transmission go black
It may be unclear why * couldn’t miss her just because she’s pregnant
Why is the baby black.
I can make certain suggestions, but first I need to understand what you are trying to do with the Second Coming.
The most important elements for me that you might consider focusing on:
The central maguffin here seems to be this Serotonin Syndrome and it is suggested that the plot revolve around that.
The watch having something important that the * needs.
The need to tear down the building.
This would mean consider dropping the conflict over technology between the *s and the *. The conflict might instead be over medication. It may also mean dropping the Appointment in Samara parallel and the focus on the Second Coming. Or finding ways to bring them into the picture.
Focus the plot by focusing on the character of *. I would first suggest he not be the Chosen One and never be referred to as that. *’s baby should be the chosen one. Then he’s a relaxed, rather happy go lucky guy who hates the rat race and has simplified his life. Maybe his father committed suicide because of pressure from modern times. Maybe he just got fed up. But he likes to ride his bike, read, visit art museums, walk along the beach.
It is suggested that that * not be a watch repairer, but he goes to a man who is a watch repairer. It’s this guy who doesn’t want to sell to *. Maybe he finds the man dying and the man gives him something before he dies that the * needs, or can implicate the * in something. Or the man dies, but leaves the building to *, asking him not to sell it to the *. * gives him the watch, which may have something important in it that the * wants. When * won’t sell, they set * up as the murderer of the old man and he must flee for his life.
It is suggested that * be *’s aunt, that that’s why * goes to the hospital and that * and * become more involved after *’s death (such as * takes * to the doctor’s office).
Have the Appointment in Samara refers to * not to *, but * will have to be a bigger character.
Think Alfred Hitchcock