COMMON MISTAKES WHEN WRITING A SCRIPT

Published: 19th March 2012
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COMMON MISTAKES WHEN WRITING A SCRIPT

Every screenwriter makes them. But to ensure your screenplay or teleplay gets the best chance it deserves, you need to be aware of the most commonly made mistakes in screenwriting:

1. Avoid Expositional Dialogue
"Say what?" you may ask... Well, expositional dialogue is saying TOO much. It feels forced, unrealistic and makes your characters seem plastic and unrelatable. While we understand the need to show clarity in your script, after all, a confused reader is not a happy reader, but there is a way around it.

For one, SHOW, don't TELL. Try to add visual clues wherever possible in your script. Remember, you are writing for a visual medium, ie. Film or TV, so you should write accordingly. Instead of having your character speak, think about whether they can DO something to create the same effect. Or maybe all you need is a shot of a piece of scenery or prop to get the point across... Sometimes the silences in a film are the most powerful.

Another way to overcome tedious dialogue is to read it out loud yourself (or better yet, ask your friends to do a table read for you). That way, you can hear it for yourself, and pick up on the bits that sound fake. Having friends with different personalities can also help you write for your characters more realistically. Ask them for their opinions on what the character would say, and how they would say it... You'd be amazed at how much you can learn from just listening and watching people interact.

2. Industry Correct Format
It should be something that goes without saying, but you'd be amazed at how many scripts with the incorrect format are submitted to production companies and screenplay contests. You are trying to make a good first impression (something that is vital for the emerging screenwriter). You don't want everyone to think that you're a newbie amateur writer who doesn't know what they're doing, even if you in fact are. Correct formatting instantly spells professionalism. No matter how good your story is, if you've used parentheticals wrong, capitalized the wrong words, or your dialogue isn't in the correct margin, your script could easily be overlooked and put into the trash.

Don't let your efforts go to waste and invest in a good screenplay writing software, there are plenty of good ones on the web, some are even free! See our resources link below.

3. Spelling and grammar errors and general typos
Something we all should have learned in grade school, but unfortunately a lot of us still have spelling and grammar mistakes in our scripts, - a lot of the time it's without us knowing! When you've read and re-read your screenplay a million times, you can become so accustomed to it that you fail to notice the small errors or typos. If you feel you've reached this stage with your script, where no matter how many proof reads you've done, you or someone else still spots spelling mistakes, you may want to consider hiring an editor or reviewer if your literary genius friends and family members won't do it for you for free. There are a lot of script reviewers out there, shop around for the ones with the best reviews or recommendations.


4. Boredom Check
No one wants to read a boring page, let alone a boring 120 pages! So spare us the ordeal and make sure you ONLY include the most interesting scenes and dialogue possible. While it is important to keep things realistic, it’s more important to make things INTERESTING! So if need be, let your reader suspend some disbelief in trade for an exciting read. If you think you can get away without saying something, or showing something, then CUT IT! We want to be glued to your script, make every line, every word count! REMEMBER: If you don’t need it, lose it!

3. Get an Honest Opinion
Yes, you’re gonna be biased about your own script. You’re gonna think parts are funny where others don’t. You’re gonna think it’s the most exciting script since Jurassic Park… and you’re probably gonna disagree when someone tells you… YOU’RE WRONG! Best advice, get someone else to read it and let them give you their honest opinion. Try get someone that knows you as little as possible, because lets face it, your friends, your spouse and your parents are gonna be biased too!

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