For those who usually critique screenplays, what are some of the most common mistakes made by screenwriters in their scripts?
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Formatting, grammar, way too descriptive...this list could go on. There are usually a ton of mistakes (I find if I read 100 scripts, the majority of them either have mistakes or they are just awful).
That's for sure, Gianna. All the bad scripts are 'A' reason why GOOD scripts don't get read.
As Gianna already stated, FORMATTING!
I once tried reading someone's screenplay, they darn near cursed me out for trying to help. I suppose they felt I was insulting their work. I was only trying to help. lol
worked with one of the writters of the marx brothers films. Nate used to tell me "you must always really like someone in the story, hopefully the hero, in the your story",
These things do not always work: A good story demands a good screenplay, a great script is not always a good story. Always have the market and hooks in mind. Lastly, sequels and remakes run out of momentum - a project has a life and rarely an afterlife.
Having the market in mind is the worst thing that you can do! The types of movies being made now have probably been in production for several years. So, while the trend of new releases may be the same, the production companies are not looking for that anymore. If you have a great story to tell, tell it... don't rely on what the "current trend" is.
Aside from formatting, one common mistake: nothing happens until it's too late. You can't wait until the midpoint or end of Act 2 for your big climax. Place it in the beginning. That way, it forces you to top it off with every step and make the story bigger and bigger. You can't let your reader, producer or audience wait until the end (or almost the end) for something to happen or everybody's gonna pass on your script.
Thanks Ray: No one says today's market trends. It is the audiences needs that matter. Avoid statistics and trends - I suppose this is a gift few have. But the film that gets made is often up to the eccentricities of investors, they follow trends.
Not understanding the importance of the second act. The first act gets the audience to sit in the seats, the third makes them leave happy. The second act makes them STAY in their seats. As for trends, I can tell you there are companies that look for scripts that mirror current films. I've seen at least ten companies looking for scripts based on fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood. Yes, movies out now may have been in production for years, but some companies are looking for a quick chance to ride the wave of what's hot now.
I read a lot of scripts. For me, basic formatting is the biggest mistake. New writers tend to use 'produced' scripts as a guide, and that is way out from what they need to focus on. The second biggest mistake, is taking too long. Get in late and out as early as possible. If I have to read 'The sun streams through a window, as BOB wakes' once more I'll throw my computer away. lol
jaclyn i soooo agree with you. the way film is now it has to be a roller coaster from begin to end. Ohthe old days when the story moved. now no such luck!!!!!
I have seen formatting become more consistent lately. Maybe I've been lucky... But what gets me is consistent spelling errors. My pet peeve is the word 'loose' consistently used in place of the word 'lose.' But there are others...
Diane, I agree, formatting is getting better. I see that too,but maybe that is because I've moved homes... .not sure. Spelling and grammar I am not so hot on, but if there are really glaring errors on page 1, that has to be off putting.
The common downfall of screenplays that I've witnessed is one dimentional characters and over used stereotypical characters. Such as the doughnut eating cop. If characters are flat then so is the screenplay.
michael i see your point to a point, The actor needs to bring whatever is missing to the table, The director also will polish the penny, We as writers can do so much as putting the clay on the table buuuut the film-makers make the Sculpture.
michael i am finishing my script, need 3 weeks and i will send to you , it's all sterotypes. Believe me you will like it and laugh!!
I agree with Michael, I see that all the time. Writers don't want to put their characters through hell and things are too easy for them. As well as formatting is a huge issue.
Directing on page. Writers write, Directors direct and Actors act. Brevity to a reader is bliss