Learn from other people’s mistakes

When the Australian Writers Guild NSW organised a night with prominent script editors, one of the questions to the panel was about the most common mistakes.

From the answers I have compiled the list below, together with ten common problems from my own experience. These are not just issues with scripts of my clients, but problems occurring in many – if not most – screenplays sent to me for financing and/or production.

Script Editors’ Top Ten:

– long descriptions
– lack of practical insight
– too many characters
– too many subplots
– over-writing
– passive protagonist
– weak antagonist
– not enough obstacles
– absence of logic
– breach of genre rules

Karel’s Top Ten:

– weak protagonist
– lack of conflict
– lack of subtext
– lack of turning points
– shifting point of view
– on-the-nose dialogue
– too clever dialogue
– direction from the page
– lengthy scenes
– bad use of parentheses

Half of my list I consider structural problems. They are issues to be addressed during the story development, i.e. before you even write your screenplay draft.

If you are about to write a draft or have just written one, you might want to have a look at the screenplay checklist (Premium only) in which I focus on a number of problems that may occur in the writing of the draft.

Screenplay Checklist (Premium) >>

About the Author

Karel Segers

Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in international movie rights acquisition, script development and production. He has trained and consulted to filmmakers all over the world, including award-winning screenwriters, and Academy Award nominees. Karel founded this website, as well as Logline.it!, ranks among the most influential people for screenwriting on social media, and speaks more than a handful of European languages (which should come in handy in his present hometown of Sydney, Australia).

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