Thanks for the add. I've been a 'fan' of Jack for years now -- if that's the right word! -- and stumbled across this brilliant site while doing some research. In my limited spare time (kids, work, etc.!) I write TV and movie screenplays. I've had a couple of things optioned in the states, but nothing that's yet been produced. Anyway, I've recently finished a 12 part TV drama series based on the exploits of Jack, but am considering turning it into a novel, or a series of books, or even just floating it online as a script if it doesn't sell; which given the state and ferocity of the TV pilot market it probably won't. I'm just trying to gauge if you think Jack still sells, or has it been done to death now? Would the below logline interest you, intrigue you, and/or compel you to read/watch it? Does the self-made cover entice you? Additionally, if anyone fancies reading a couple of 'episodes,' you'd be more than welcome; I've attached the pilot to this post (I think!). Thanks for taking the time to read.
TO KILL AGAIN
A London detective is sent back in time by the US government to apprehend and return for trial the world’s most infamous serial killer: Jack the Ripper. When the Ripper escapes and the murders begin again, the detective must hunt him down and discover the real reason for his capture; and how Jack the Ripper is the only man on earth that can prevent a devastating global war.
With the sci-fi element, maybe make "Jack" an original character-- 21st scientist or doctor who fled to the past and is killing victims to isolate something that could be tied to the global catastrophe that threatens the present.
Jack the Ripper is an enigma. He's bigger than the Whitchapel crimes, really. He's become a legendary symbol of pure evil... And also used to sell books and t-shirts. We don't know who he is, and are perhaps reluctant to admit he might have just been one of us.
--------------- Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.
I wouldn't look too hard at people not responding quickly to your post. There is a market out there for Ripper-related television. The BBC is running a show called Ripper Street presently that follows Inspector Edmond Reid in the years after the murders took place, and in addition there is definitely a place for Victorian England representations given the success of various Sherlock Holmes titles that have been playing recently. I honestly wish you luck in your effort.
I haven't finished reading your pilot. I'm at the bit just before Dyson goes back. Personally, I think it's been a worthy read thus far and intend to finish it.
Please allow me to offer you some comments, the kind I suspect any litterary agent would provide you with regarding the plot.
For the moment, let's put aside the quantum mechanics time travelling theory and the 'grandfather paradox' which even if it could be possible would only work at the photon level and not at a higher one.
The problem many would have with 'Time Travelling Ripper Hunting' is that knowing the murder locations, approximate times of death, any hunter would have waited for JTR and caught him before the first murder. Now Dyson arrives on the night Stride is geting killed and does nothing about it! No explanation of the bad time sync!
If Dyson knows where the Ripper lives, why didn't he just get him and bring him back. What makes him sure the Ripper will still be at the same address? Instead, Dyson tries to convince Schwartz to inform the police, prefering to catch himself the Ripper but only after he would have killed Mary. Why alone, why wait til the end? No clue whatsoever!
The POTUS calls upon Dyson because "there’s no one else more qualified on the subject within a police department anywhere in the world" although nothing leads us to valid that claim prior to that statement besides a short mention of the Ripper on page 5 ("You’re London’s leading authority on something nobody gives a **** about").
One last question, even if the USA managed to invent the time machine, why the hell is the POTUS asking Dyson to catch the Ripper instead of informing the British police authorities? I think only Americans enjoy seeing movies where only Americans can resolve a problem. Investing in the myth of the American Heroe is a risky business!
I maybe wrong but Edmund Reid was in charge of the investigation, Abberline coordinating things between Scotland Yard and H division.
I must however say I really enjoyed reading the pilot. The introduction of the characters is quite well done besides the point made above. The rythm is good although we only get to the beginning of the core on page 34. I'm aware it's the first episode, but I reccommand reviewing its time mapping allowing the eventual viewer to get a quicker idea of what might be going on, without falling into the 3 act quicksand pit.
Please don't take it bad. I know quite well how demanding writing a fiction is. I'm only 'words' away from finishing a historical fiction involving JTR after having gone through 3 complete re-writes, beta-reading with the help of a couple of professionals and more to be done soon, etc. Don't worry, the plot has nothing to do with time-travelling.
Never doubt about the need you have to write. Only you can make the decision to carry on or not. So trust yourself and keep doing it.
Thanks for posting your screenplay on the forum. That takes some intestinal fortitude. Hercule Poirot is correct - if writing is what you desire to do best...
You obviously know where you want to take your story, and you seem to have nailed down its direction. Opening on Polly Nicholl's murder is smart, and there seems to be some inspiration re: her dialogue.
Unfortunately, my list of Moans & Groans runs deep. I offer them constructively even if they come across bitterly:
1. not very big with the shades of race - "Japs", profiling your antagonist
2. don't like your protagonist at all. He's a tool who has to one-up everybody & wins too many of the exchanges. He doesn't like anyone, so why would anyone like him? He doesn't have to like the President, but he shouldn't be able to get over on him. Much more effective if the exchange had occurred like this:
Dyson: Can I call you Joe?
President: (smiles curtly) No, you may not. (continues affably) blablabla
3. There's no establishment of the story of Jack the Ripper prior to his arrival in London88. The audience has to know the details of Jack the Ripper to understand what's going on. Most people think of Jack the Ripper as a bogeyman who killed 1500 prostitutes during Charles Dickens time (an exaggeration). They wouldn't know Schwartz from Stride.
4. The marvel of time travel is glossed over. There's no sense of amazement of what the East End is during the Victorian era. No gas lamps on Whitechapel Road or hawkers or intimidation by the population. He just shows up & gets stabbed.
5. I'm guessing that the murders pick up again in modern day times. But the story rushes over the C5 without much regard (exception being, Polly Nicholls). It's putting you perilously close to Time After Time.
A FEW SUGGESTIONS
1. Make your protagonist a woman, like this Sara character. She could be a relative to someone familiar to the case. It could be part of the time travel aspect, like "We want to send you back in time because your great-aunt was a neighbor of Mary Kelly; and part of time travel permits you to take over the body of previous relatives."
2. Increase the suspense of it being a one-way ticket. As in, "If you're not standing at Spot X on Nov 15th, 1888, your aunt will recover her body, and you'll be lost to time."
3. I would keep the car blowing-up scene. That way, you could explain it as "If your lost to time in 1888, you'll just end up being a woman who died in a car explosion in modern times, who we altered time to save for the purpose of going back in time ."
4. Give her an artifact as part of the time travel process. She has to be holding a gold watch on Nov 15th, 1888, and the watch just happens to be the same one Jack the Ripper has obtained 'somehow', and is wearing the night of Kelly's murder. Thus, her imperative need to apprehend him.
5. Also, making her a woman has other advantages in that Jack the Ripper may be inclined to murder her because she is 'his type'. The story of Jack the Ripper has no knights in shining armor saving the day.
6. Make the East End part of the story.
Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for your kind words and input. There are a couple of things I have since addressed that cover a some of the points you both mentioned, and there are a few things that are resolved as the plot builds and grows from episode to episode.
One question for you gents? Were you compelled and intrigued enough to read more? I mean, you're more than welcome if so, there's twelve parts of this beast! But as it stood, did it interest you enough to think 'Oh, I'd like to watch that/read more of it'?