Common Screenwriting Issues

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In my travels through the internet, I happened upon a beautiful infographic explaining some of the common pitfalls of screenplays. Of the 300 scripts that the scriptreader read, only 8 were recommended for studio development, and 89 were to be considered (as long as they were fixed).

203 of the scripts were passed over altogether. That means that 203 rejection letters went out to 203 screenwriters.

Having been on the recieving end of rejection letters, I wish to applaud the scriptreader for his or her work in creating the infographic above. Because too often, a rejection will simply state something like, “We’re sorry, but your work was not chosen for development at this time. Better luck in the future,” which isn’t all that helpful if you want to know why it was rejected. The info given in the graphic details the ways in which a written piece, be it screenplay or novel, can be better written and more acceptable for publication.

I’m not going to insult your intelligence and list them all out here (you can look at the graphic to your heart’s content), but I am going to talk about the first, and more prevelent, issue listed: The story begins too late in the script. I want to mention it because it is something that I have struggled with in my novels. Where do you start the story? How long before the main action do you introduce the character? Do you lead with action or backstory? Setting or character? And in the case of a post-apocalyptic world, do you show life as it was before the bombs went off, so readers get a sense of what was lost?

I never know where to start a story. Even when I’m relaying something verbally, I find myself starting a story, then stopping to say, “Well, I should have probably told you about…”

Oh well, now that I have this list, I can keep an eye out for the rest of the issues listed as well. I’m sure that the first one won’t be the only one I’ll need to tackle.

Fellow writers, with which problem from this list do you most often struggle?

Average joes, which movies out there slipped through the cracks and were made with the “story starting too late” problem?

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