All The Things That Are Wrong in Your Screenplay

Hello, dear writers of the world! This is from a post I did on my first blog for writers about 7 years ago, but as I was about to write about things that go wrong in scripts today I came across it so I'm sharing it here as everything still holds true!! 


I used to be a script reader for the studios---in other words, if it didn't get past me, it didn't go anywhere. 


My biggest issues when reading scripts are:

STORY There needs to be a story-period. It has to have a strong beginning, middle, and end.

No amount of special effects is going to help that no matter what Disney, Sony, and other big studios show you. It's one of my biggest pet peeves when people tell me they love a film and I ask them why and they say the 3D was awesome, or the FX were awesome.

A screenplay needs to have a solid story.

Why are you telling this story?

What are you trying to say?

Why is this important to you?

Ask yourself these and more questions, and then you should have a good story.

And STOP reading every screenwriting book on how to write and just tell a good story, get that done first, then you can go in and tweak to industry standards.

Second biggest mistake. CHARACTER. You have to have strong characters that have strong intentions, needs, wants, actions, and dialogue.

This is non negotiable-period. All your characters must have a different voice and they must all have their own needs AND everything they do MUST move the story forward.

Don't ever write anything because "wouldn't it be funny if" or "It would be cool if".. No no no no.. don't do it.

Female characters in your script---this next tip affects both men and women.

MEN don't put them in if they don't move the story forward just to have your hero getting laid, it's boring and overdone and contrary to why you went to films in high school, it does not sell tickets.

Don't put a female in just to please your girlfriend. Put her in because you NEED her to TELL THE STORY. See how it always goes back to story? If you do put in a female character, please make her realistic. Look around you, who are the women in your life? How would they act in a situation? Write that.

WOMEN stop writing female characters just because you think we need more. Ugh I am so sick of this too. I am sick to death of reading bad scripts with a woman lead that makes no sense. If you want to write a strong female, then write her, you are a female this shouldn't be so hard and yet it seems to be that more and more scripts are written by women about women just to put a woman in a script. Sigh.

STRUCTURE didn't I just say it didn't matter? No, I said it's second to story, but it must be there. Read scripts, tons of them, and format them correctly.

There are a million things that can go wrong with your script, or right with it, so just think before you submit about these things and things on that list, but don't get so bogged down either that you never show your work to anyone.


Meanwhile, here is a FREE dialogue guide to help you make that dialogue amazing. 

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Thank you for reading!! 

XO Stephanie


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