'A Non-Zero-Sum Game' by Michelle Hood


A young man struggles with his conscience in the presence of evil.
'A Non-Zero-Sum Game' by Michelle Hood
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Comments: 13
  • #1

    Leilani Holmes (Monday, 03 June 2019 20:33)

    Loved the dialogue in this, I thought it was really strong, as is the clipped ending. If you wanted to make it read a little smoother, I think you could streamline the action a little, and I don't think you need the first sentence, but overall justice is done I think! :)

  • #2

    Teodora (Monday, 03 June 2019 23:22)

    That was very strong indeed. The only thing that bothers me is why is he killing them when the end of the world is coming anyway? isn't he aware of that?

  • #3

    Harriet Riley (Tuesday, 04 June 2019 18:41)

    Nice concept, very strong. Very grim. At first I thought Casper was the couple's son, so I think the one small change that would help readers understand this piece better is including ages for Vivian and Donald, that way it's clear that they are the parents of a small child.

    One other suggestion, maybe make Casper calculating and cold, like an executioner, rather than drugged up and enraged. I like the way you currently have it too, so this suggestion is just an option to explore.

  • #4

    Michelle (Tuesday, 04 June 2019 20:30)

    Thank you for your comments everyone. Harriet, you were right to think initially that Casper might have been their son, the twist is in the reveal of the name badge at the end, but I agree adding ages for all the characters would help. Hopefully we can submit the redrafts!

  • #5

    Josephine Samson (Tuesday, 04 June 2019 21:52)

    I like the way you made us think Casper was the son and then the twist reveal at the end, but he fact that Vivian says his name through the gag in the beginning hints that they know him somehow so my only question is why would he shoot them like that and what is his relationship to them?

  • #6

    Dylanne (Wednesday, 05 June 2019 15:00)

    I like the way you introduce Caspar and the surprise we get when he takes us back to Vivian and Donald - nice. Your action and dialogue are crystal clear except I had to re-read the first line three times (maybe specify 'sink-plug'!). I enjoyed the moment where he bends to inspect the chipped table and I didn't see the twist of him being a case worker coming so well done (and I really liked it) but a couple of questions. Where would a 'case worker' get a gun? The abuse case doesn't sound uncommonly extreme (tragic to say I know) so what is it about this particular case that moves him to spend his last hour dealing with it?

  • #7

    Deborah Espect (Wednesday, 05 June 2019 16:50)

    This raises some questions but I don't think they necessarily need to be answered! Sometimes it's about what's not being said, and some things are good if they're up to personal interpretation, depending on the context (and personal taste of course).

    I really like the fact that we were led to think he was killing his own parents; and, as I understood it, that even though he knew the end was nigh, he still wanted to avenge the child, in his own way.

    I agree re: the first few lines, I struggled a bit visually, but easily fixed :)

  • #8

    Thandi Lubimbi (Wednesday, 05 June 2019 20:03)

    Wow! That was a really good read. I did not see the twist coming at the end, I just assumed it was the kid taking revenge. Very well written.

    The only issue was the first two lines. I needed to read it twice to get it l. Maybe change that bit as it takes away from an amazing script.

  • #9

    Michelle (Wednesday, 05 June 2019 20:28)

    Thank you all for taking the time to read.. obviously in a situation like this nobody wins, hence the title of the script, it's simply an avenge piece.. no gain. Casper is/was Danny's case worker so Vivian and Donald will have met him several times over the years during investigations into Danny's abuse, but that's a subtle detail. Having already submitted three scripts to the competition earlier I had wanted to try something a little bit different. I quite enjoyed writing it!

  • #10

    Michelle (Wednesday, 05 June 2019 20:53)

    Also, I agree with the notes about the first lines.. I have revised it and hope we get a chance to submit new versions. Thanks for your comments.

  • #11

    Bianca (Thursday, 06 June 2019 13:13)

    Michelle :) I like the genre, however I was a bit confused whether Caspar is their son. I get that you wanted to plant a twist, but his line ‘I’m sorry you were never there for me’ and the fact that Vivian knows his name threw me. Also I wonder where Danny is or what happened to him? I don’t think he needs to be drugged, it leads the reader to think he’s unstable. It would be maybe nice to find a way to make clear that this is no innocent couple, before we meet them (description of the place, anything lying around which could be suspicious) and also through a different way than dialogue. I would love to see Caspar’s badge since the beginning. You could still make the twist work. Otherwise evocative visuals, well done :)

  • #12

    Courtney Gayle (Thursday, 06 June 2019 16:36)

    I liked it, I understood why he was on drugs. He was an abuse victim, finally on his last legs. I got the feeling after reading this a couple times this is something that's been building up to for awhile.
    The writing was very visual, and I thought it was a nice touch, teasing his change of mind before he ultimately did it.

  • #13

    Navdip Sandhu (Sunday, 09 June 2019 16:36)

    Hi Michelle,
    Great effort. Unlike some of the comments here, I got those first two line straight away and pictured it. I wouldn't change it.
    I get the feeling of Casper taking justice into his own hands and I empathised with his.
    I just feel there should be some more relation, or mention, of the end of the world, and it will then fit in well with Impact 50. And also how does Casper know Vivian and Donald? That's not very clear.
    I hope this helps.