End-Stop;; a messy love story with humor, heart, and offensive poetry

As part of the entry fee for the 2023 BlueCat Screenplay Competition, I received a screenplay competition analysis for my script End-Stop;; back on Sept. 13.

I didn’t share it then because I thought it gave away too much of the movie and I was concerned about ruslters … and that potential producers might not like the idea of a project’s insides being posted for all to see.

But, after a month of consideration, I figure it’s alright.

For one, it’s some of the most positive feedback I’ve gotten on a screenplay.

And, really, while the analysis discusses some plot points and character arcs, it wouldn’t ruin the viewing by reading about it ahead of time.

That, and I’m just so damned excited to share this story.

Couple notes about the screenplay:

Main character RASCAL is a poet, and the script is titled after the poetry term “End-Stop;;” … the semicolons represent he and his wife lying in bed. Something he explains in the eponymous poem he reads to his audience.

Yes, Rascal is inspired by poet Charles Bukowski. But Rascal is his own character.

Also, if the screenplay reads like a stage play, there’s good reason for that. The script is inspired by stage-to-screen adaptations like August: Osage County, The Father, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

In fact, it’s written as a three-act show in nine scenes, which all take place in a historic theater in my hometown of Bay City, Michigan. Locations include stage, backstage, the greenroom, and establishing shots of the theater’s facade.

As far as the BlueCat reader feeling the screenplay doesn’t have much plot? I disagree. [And so does the reader in their own synopsizing.]

End-Stop;; is the story of an irrascible alcoholic poet giving his last public reading on stage while his backstabbing wife RAINY, the other main character, airs her husband’s dirty laundry to a gossip blogger backstage. The script is filled with comedy, sadness, and a number of shocking twists and turns.

Anywho, if the movie is ever produced, I’d love to see it shot at the historic State Theatre in Bay City. See Library of Congress picture below

Historic Bay City State Theatre in Bay City Michigan. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith

Screenplay Competition Analysis

Written by an anonymous reader for BlueCat
This analysis is included in its entirety—the good and the bad.

What did you like about the script?
This is a comedy about a famous poet who finds out that he is dying halfway through a live performance.

Rascal is an alcoholic curmudgeon who takes pride in skewering his audiences and his long-suffering wife, Rainy.

He’s nihilistic, offensive, and witty.

I liked him a lot.

Backstage, Rainy meets with Madison, a young blogger, who proceeds to interview her about Rascal’s career.

When Madison tells Rainy that Rascal plans to divorce her, Rainy divulges that Rascal is dying.

Madison posts the news, which quickly goes viral.

The audience informs Rascal, who was previously unaware of how sick he is, and Rascal and Rainy afford themselves a dose of honesty previously unthinkable to both of them.

Rascal sheds his nihilism and insulting demeanor, and he and tells his audience to go out and live life.

He becomes emotional and recites one final poem, which he titles “End-Stop;;”.

Backstage, Rainy goes into detail about how Rascal came to be famous.

Rainy then gets a phone call from Rascal’s doctor informing her that his test results were flawed, and that he’s not dying after all.

Rainy realizes she has given away too many secrets, and she physically attacks Madison when the latter refuses keep the interview off the record.

Madison leaves to publish her story.

Rascal and Rainy share a rare moment of affection and resolve to take a vacation together.

This is a hilarious script with fantastic depth of character.

It takes place almost in real time.

The old couple is bitter and believable, and there’s a great deal of fun in witnessing them trade insults back and forth.

I liked that the script is a meditation on fame, art, and our expectations of celebrities.

Rascal, Rainy, and Madison are likeable and highly flawed individuals.

The ending is moving.

What do you think needs work?

Although the story has excellent characters full of depth and extremely impressive dialogue, there’s very little action that takes place.

This feels more like a straight play than a feature. There’s very little plot and a great deal of talking. Scenes stretch out to ten pages or more.

Much of the dialogue consists of characters trading barbs back and forth, and at times it can feel that this goes on too long, especially at the beginning of the story.

Rascal talks to himself at one point, and it doesn’t quite feel natural even if he is a poet.

Madison and Rainy’s dialogue is sharp and witty, but at times Madison doesn’t act like a journalist.

After a short time, she becomes very willing to trade insults with Rainy.

Rainy, for her part, condescends to Madison for almost the entire interview.

It seems strange, because Rainy says any number of things, even before getting into Rascal’s humble background, that could land her and her husband in trouble.

It’s as if Rainy doesn’t care at all what Madison thinks, but she should be aware that Madison does have some power as a journalist.

It’s also questionable why Madison would do a story about Rascal, and yet be interviewing his wife, not Rascal himself. She misses his performance to talk to Rainy backstage.

Rascal discovers this might be his last performance and his behavior is sure to be outrageous and newsworthy, but Madison isn’t curious as to what’s happening, opting to stay and to talk to Rainy.

As an influencer and blogger, Madison doesn’t seem to be a fan of or care about Rascal’s work, and therefore her audience wouldn’t care either.

She points out that there are few young people in the audience, and Madison’s audience would be a younger one.

She leaves without pressing Rascal to comment on his performance or the things that his wife has said about him.

It also isn’t entirely believable that Rascal wouldn’t know anything about his medical condition.

Husband and wives can make informed choices about one another’s care, but Rascal would have some idea about the severity of his own ailments based on the type and number of tests that his doctor would be running on him.

His doctor would be recommending treatments, discussing lifestyle changes, and having other conversations that wouldn’t all be left to Rainy.