Abstract Creatures by Juno Dante Night | Script Revolution

Abstract Creatures

When an emotionally disturbed young woman meets a fame-hungry psychiatrist, she is thrust into the spotlight through a best-selling book, risking her sanity and anonymity.

Type:

Status:

Page Count: 
43pp

Genre:

Budget:

Age Rating:

Based On: 
The book SYBIL EXPOSED by Debbie Nathan
Synopsis/Details: 

Royalty Free Stock Photo by Dark Indigo, courtesy of Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-red-lipstick-2892943/

1974—Seasoned Hollywood screenwriter most known for Rebel Without a Cause, STEWART STERN is offered the task by Lorimar Productions, Inc. to pen the teleplay to the best-selling book Sybil by PROF. FLORA RHETA SCHREIBER. The book claims to be a true story detailing the unique psychiatric case of SYBIL ISABEL DORSETT, a pseudonym for a woman that experienced such unspeakable abuse at the hands of her mother as a child that her personality split into sixteen other selves.

While a harrowing tale, Stern has a psychiatric background and questions the voracity of the story’s claims. Traveling to New York City, he meets the outlandish character of Flora where he grills her on the glaring inconsistencies present in her book. Insulted by his honest criticisms, Flora stands by that the story is not a hoax and presents him with authentic tapes of Sybil’s therapy sessions given to her by DR. CORNELIA “CONNIE” BURWELL WILBUR. However, Stern is only given access under the oath that he not publicly reveal the patient’s true identity: SHIRLEY ARDELL MASON. He agrees and is stricken by what he hears on the tapes, though he is reasonably skeptical. Unable to talk to Shirley herself who wishes to remain hidden from the public eye, he decides to speak to Connie, the woman who treated Shirley for more than two decades.

Meeting Stern in the heart of Los Angeles and unlike her writing partner Flora, Connie is grounded, clinical, self-assured—and highly persuasive. According to her, Shirley merely showed up one day to her office as the childish, angry personality named “Peggy Lou.”

1954—Shirley, a graduate art student at New York City’s Columbia University is a troubled woman. Her childhood under a suffocating Seventh-Day Adventist household in the idyllic small-town of Dodge Center, Minnesota was indeed a lonely one. Neither of her elderly parents, WALTER WINGFIELD MASON and MARTHA ALICE “MATTIE” ATKINSON understood her odd obsession with “losing time” or her compulsive handwashing whenever she touched ink as she feared she would contract cancers or diseases. Nor did they approve of her rich imagination for inventing stories with her dolls Peggy Lou and Peggy Ann or speaking to fabricated companions named Vicky and Sam—all works of the Devil.

With her mother now deceased and living away from her father, Shirley’s episodes grow stranger still: she often “comes to” in unfamiliar locations she has no memory of ever traveling to. When she takes up therapy with her psychoanalyst Dr. Wilbur, an old friend from her time spent in Omaha, Nebraska, she is diagnosed with amnesia.

Then, Connie introduces Shirley to hypnosis, barbiturates and the famous case of Eve White, the pseudonym of Southern housewife CHRISTINE “CHRIS” COSTNER SIZEMORE, treated by DR. CORBETT H. THIGPEN and DR. HERVEY M. CLECKLEY for a rare disorder then known as “multiple personality.” Under the influence of “truth serums” and hypnosis, Shirley begins to present what Connie names “alternate, independent selves” and due to Connie’s suggestions, she recalls horrific scenes of sexual torture her mother Mattie inflicted upon her, events she has allegedly repressed.

Connie realizes that Shirley is no ordinary patient. Convinced Shirley’s tales of horrendous trauma can very likely be real and the root of her fragmented multiple selves she believes Shirley has, Connie entertains the idea that Shirley, like Eve, can make medical history through a mass-marketed book. In the process, she sacrifices her patient’s privacy and ultimately her freedom to live without scrutiny for public consumption. Although, Connie presumes Shirley can surpass Eve in the realm of iconography when she claims to meet not three alternate personalities, but sixteen—a phenomena which until then has never been recorded.

Thus, unravels the curious case of Shirley Mason.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Coverage Excerpts:

“I think it’s a really good writing sample. I don’t know how easy it would be to market this, but it feels like—if you sharpen the focus and tighten up the dialog—it could work as an HBO drama. The real problem is, no one is going to know what it’s about until they get to page 25. You need to figure out a way to hook readers (viewers) with Sybil’s multiple personality dilemma before page 10.

“It has a lot of potential, but you need to put the reason you wrote this story into the story, and make sure people will want to read/see the next episode.

“It is a good piece of dramatic writing. It is a TV show I would be interested in watching. But, I feel it needs a lot of work. I may be wrong in my conclusion, but for me, this screenplay has great potential, but doesn’t quite live up to it’s subject matter.

“The problems I had with your story are not simple structural, format, wordsmithing problems (although I do think [many] of your word choices seem vague or lazy). Nor did I have problems with your characters or dialog (although I do feel some of your dialog sounds labored or false).

“Although I love puzzles, the author needs to convey more than just a jumble of scenes. The protagonist may be split like shards of glass, but the author is responsible for crafting the story pieces so they fit together in a meaningful way. Better yet, she needs the pieces to fit together in a way that feels planned and inevitable (like a jig saw [sic] puzzle designer).

“Abstract Creatures is an interesting read by a smart author. But, I want to read a compelling story. A fascinating story. If you are going to risk losing my attention by writing a complicated storyline, you must do it with perfect clarity. You are walking a tightrope. You are performing a high wire act. You need to enthrall your audience. Good writing is too low a benchmark for your story. I want to gasp.” —Frank “Leslie” Davis (Apr. 2020)

Submitted: April 12, 2020
Last Updated: March 22, 2021

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The Writer: Juno Dante Night

Born Katherine Elizabeth, I prefer to write as Juno. I am an asexual lesbian (and chronically insomniac) writer of short stories, novels and scripts (34% Italian; 65% other European rubbish) who spent five years studying filmmaking and screenwriting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas under the mentorship of such personalities as David Schmoeller ( Puppet Master ) and Elvis Mitchell, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in July 2017. Although I've had my fair share of struggles battling obsessive compulsive disorder and clinical depression and was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at fifteen, my ambition far outweighs the negatives. Due to my life experiences and expansive family history... Go to bio

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