How to Avoid the 10 Most Frequent Screenwriting Mistakes

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Writing is a difficult task, most of the time. You have to be alone, create something with value from all your jumbled thoughts, and you can get stuck staring at a screen for hours. It can be emotionally draining. That means writing a screenplay is enough to be proud of on its own, and the good news is that it gets easier with time. There are some mistakes in particular that all screenwriters make and that you can avoid easily if you’re aware of them.

1. Spelling Mistakes

Even if your screenplay is fantastic, you’ll make a bad first impression and turn off your readers if you have spelling and grammar mistakes. Don’t assume that your writing software on your computer will catch all your mistakes, either. Take the time that you need to review your document and catch the mistakes you might have missed. Or you can use help of online services like BigAssignments, StateOfWriting and PaperFellows. It will also help you locate mistakes in your script that you didn’t notice in the first read-throughs.

2. Poor Formatting

Screenplays are quite strict in the formats they have to follow, and you must learn it as a screenwriter. All aspects, including the font and spacing, must be correct so that your readers can get through it quickly and easily. The script should be in Courier, and the dialogue and parentheticals indented. Character names must be capitalized the first time they’re introduced. 

3. Relying on Tropes

If your characters are too cliché and rely on archetypes (villains without a soul, fools, a damsel in distress, etc.) it will make for very boring reading. This is especially true when writing marginalized characters who often end up like stereotypes or caricatures. Create organic dialogue and scenarios to make your writing more authentic.

4. Not Outlining the Story 

According to Philip Greene, a screenwriter at Assignment Help and Essay Help, “you should start with an outline of the story and make sure that each of your scenes has a goal in developing that storyline. If you don’t have arcs and character progression, your screenplay will become boring and you won’t tell a story.”

5. Bad Dialogue

Writing dialogue in any context is quite tricky. If it is too much like regular speech it can be pointless or boring, but if it’s too formal it becomes unrealistic. If your conversations aren’t subtle or too long, and your characters don’t sound like real people, your whole script can be negatively affected. Keep your dialogue to a minimum – essential plot development and character building.

6. Directing Scenes

You’re not the director, so don’t explain the shot in your script. The screenplay is the blueprint for the setting, dialogue, and plot. Don’t spell out the movement of the camera and don’t explain to actors how to deliver lines. 

7. No Conflict 

You shouldn’t handle your characters with kid gloves, and give them what they want. You have to create conflict for your characters so they truly experience a struggle. You also don’t want them to struggle endlessly, there needs to be an end in sight. 

8. Weak Ending

Tanya Freeland, an editor at Boom Essays and OXEssays, “one of the worst storytelling mistakes is not having a good resolution to a story. Be sure that your story arcs are all completed, but not too easily so that there isn’t enough struggle to make the end worth it.”

9. Start with A Bang

You might wish to have a slow build to a great finale, but your script needs to grab people’s attention in the first few pages. People in the entertainment industry don’t have time to get through from start to finish, so have a great beginning or your amazing ending will never be read. The best way to do this is to create realistic, relatable characters, a good world to believe in, and an important struggle. 

10. Not Rereading

It’s normal that you make mistakes. Everyone does, so don’t assume you wrote the whole script without one mistake. Reread your script to check our errors, from spelling issues to camera direction, to the consistency of the story. Read the dialogue out loud to make sure it’s believable. 

About the Writer

Aimee Laurence, an editor at Write My Research Paper and Review, shares her writing and editing tips with her audience. She enjoys turning people’s work into masterpieces by increasing their writing skills. She also edits as a freelancer for Marketing Essay Help.

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