WHEN STAINED GLASS SHATTERS
FAMILY DRAMA CRIME YOUNG ADULT FUNNY
Josette M. Chambers
I wrote WHEN STAINED GLASS SHATTERS, a parable within several parables, to inspire a conversation about raising our children, social justice and mental fragility. Narrated by Chao (pronounced “Chow”) Graham, a young Black ballerina/"collateral victim of violence," the story is told in flashbacks.
Chao is at the beauty shop getting her hair done for her high school graduation when she has a "mini-breakdown." Her mother, Ronni, a "big law" attorney, normally would have handled that minor detail. But she's dead.
Chao, with the help of her grandparents, finally talks "it" out and comes to grips with her mother's murder for which she's blamed herself the past five years. She realizes she's become the perfect ballerina in an effort to escape from her guilt.
Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley and Palo Alto) California.
Based on a True Story
Plot - Premise
Plot - Other Elements
Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Twist
Mature Audience Themes
Main Character Details
Name: Chao ("Chow") Graham
Age: 13, 18
Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Gracious,Visionary,Unapologetic
Additional Character Details
Name: Veronica Graham
Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Educated,Romantic,Skillful,Outspoken,Selfless,Blunt,Sophisticated,Leader,Insecure
Additional Character Details
Name: Wesley Broderick
Key Traits: Aggressive,Charming,Masculine,Villainous,Heartthrob,Sarcastic,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Educated,Narcisstic,Sexy,Secretive,Sophisticated
Additional Character Details
Name: Nathan "Granddad" Graham
Key Traits: Masculine,Funny,Outspoken,Decisive,Strong Moral Code
WHEN STAINED GLASS SHATTERS (WSGS) is a legal thriller/treatise on "collateral victims of violence" that's everything but typical: a Black female lawyer's life and death are described via flashbacks and through the eyes of those who know her well, particularly her only child, Chao, who has found an extraordinary way to cope with the trauma of losing her mother. She's focused on becoming the perfect ballerina. In a word, "Black stories do sell, and we're living in a moment when those stories don't need to be diluted for nonblack people to want to tune in. Even when the news...tell[s] us otherwise, there's not an insignificant amount of people who are willing to consider the perspectives of a culture other than their own, at least on screen and in fiction." "People Who Aren't Black Really Love Atlanta, Insecure and Black-Ish," SLATE (Aisha Harris, 2/16/2017). There's no reason to believe that the market for the film adaptation of WSGS and follow-up projects will be any different.
Chao suppresses her guilt of thinking she caused her mother to get killed. She throws herself into becoming a ballerina, but her grandparents help her really process the trauma of losing her mother. Chao looks back on memories of her lawyer mother and after getting to read her mother's diaries along with the support from her family she finally starts to heal. After healing internally, Chao is able to enjoy the success of her hard work as a dancer.
Authors Writing Style: GOOD
Franchise Potential: FAIR
Accuracy of Book Profile
The logline does not reflect the narrative and is better suited as part of the development pitch. Giving a two sentence summary about the narrative (usually what the character wants versus what the character needs aka outlining the internal and external conflict) helps the audience more quickly understand the overview of the story. The genre is also noted as a comedy and the story is mostly a family drama. The development pitch also talks about how the story is a legal thriller but the flashback aspect makes the narrative lack tension as to the fate of the mother.
Draw of Story
The logline that Chao has become a prima ballerina because training helps her escape the guilt of blaming herself for her mothers death is compelling. It outlines her triumphs and her sorrow leaving room for two different progressions of the plot.
The flashback structure takes awhile for Chao to really start processing her mother's death so certain remembered flashbacks are confusing as to their significance. Indeed the mother's character is being fleshed out but in terms of plot points scenes are unclear.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The hook is that Chao feels responsible for her mother's death which was a risk of her mother's job as a prosecution lawyer. Chao can't enjoy her accomplishments until she forces herself to acknowledge her trauma and start to heal no matter how successful she becomes at accomplishing her goals.
The storyline has a supportive family and a strong internal conflict so it could have a large audience if given a clearer structure to create more tension in the story. The narrative has teh ingredients for solid family drama or coming of age teen drama.
This is unlikely to have awards potential given that the trauma of the loss is less focused upon than the flashbacks. While the social issue of the collateral victims of violence it is touch upon, the exploration doesn't go far enough to be notable for most nominations in acting or writing. However, if taken in a more religious direction based on the the connection with the family, it might have awards within that sector.
Similar Films/TV Series
FRUITVALE STATION, IF I STAY, THE PREACHER'S WIFE, EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, BROTHERLY LOVE
What’s New About the Story
The uniqueness stems from Chao processing her mother's death and realizing its not her fault, by focusing less on Veronica in the past and more on Chao's emotions, the mother's death will have more meaning and impact as will the flashbacks.
Chao is headstrong and driven. Her grandfather is patient and stalwart, but also authoritarian. her grandmother is fiery and free-spirited but generous.
Uniqueness of Story
This has potential but the tension is hard to relate to through the mother's perspective in being in the past tense and the flashback heavy structure in order to establish the emotional investment create odd pacing towards the tension of the death.
Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio
WORK IN PROGRESS
While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.
Tips for Improvement
Selecting flashbacks that compliment Chao's internal conflict transformation and making her the main plot that more focuses on her trauma rather than focusing on creating emotional investment in the mother will greater fulfill the purpose of the theme of collateral victims.