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All The Things That Are Wrong With Your Screenplay In One Handy Infographic

A professional scriptreader read 300 screenplays for five different studios, all the while tracking the many recurring problems. The infographic he made with the collected data offers a glimpse at where screenwriting goes wrong.

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If selling a screenplay were easy, all those people crowding coffee shops with their laptops would be millionaires, or at least optioned. It's not easy, though. So many factors that are totally out of the writer's control tend to combine and form a phalanx keeping him or her out of Hollywood. One thing that certainly is up to the writer, however, is whether the screenplay sucks. A new infographic offers some hard-earned insider tips about pitfalls the novice scribe should avoid, in order to refrain from sucking.

An anonymous professional scriptreader read 300 screenplays for five different studios recently, all the while tracking the many recurring problems found along the way. If it's frustrating experience to bang out a screenplay without much experience, just imagine what it's like to read some of these hastily banged-out doozies, one after the other. Eventually, the person doing so organized all the data into a handy infographic that could be read as a diagnostic on where screenwriters go wrong.

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As featured on screenwriting forum The Blackboard, the infographic presents all manner of information on the settings, genres, and characters that could use a bit of finesse. If it has ever even crossed your mind to attempt to write a movie someday, you should definitely read the following list of frequent script problems, and peruse the rest of the chart above.

  1. The story begins too late in the script
  2. The scenes are void of meaningful conflict
  3. The script has a by-the-numbers execution
  4. The story is too thin
  5. The villains are cartoonish, evil-for-the-sake-of-evil
  6. The character logic is muddy
  7. The female part is underwritten
  8. The narrative falls into a repetitive pattern
  9. The conflict is inconsequential, flash-in-the-pan
  10. The protagonist is a standard issue hero
  11. The script favors style over substance
  12. The ending is completely anti-climactic
  13. The characters are all stereotypes
  14. The script suffers from arbitrary complexity
  15. The script goes off the rails in the third act
  16. The script’s questions are left unanswered
  17. The story is a string of unrelated vignettes
  18. The plot unravels through convenience/contrivance
  19. The script is tonally confused
  20. The protagonist is not as strong as need be
  21. The premise is a transparent excuse for action
  22. The character backstories are irrelevant/useless
  23. Supernatural element is too undefined
  24. The plot is dragged down by disruptive lulls
  25. The ending is a case of deus ex machina
  26. The characters are indistinguishable from each other
  27. The story is one big shrug
  28. The dialogue is cheesy, pulpy, action movie cliches
  29. The script is a potboiler
  30. The drama/conflict is told but not shown
  31. The great setting isn’t utilized
  32. The emotional element is exaggerated
  33. The dialogue is stilted and unnecessarily verbose
  34. The emotional element is neglected
  35. The script is a writer ego trip
  36. The script makes a reference, but not a joke
  37. The message overshadows the story