10 Mistakes Nearly Every Screenwriter Makes

 

10. Getting tunnel vision.

Even if a particular idea or concept is cool, leave it out unless it serves your story.  You may have lots of ideas that seem important at the time, but keeping a consistent tone is more important to your script as a whole.

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9. Putting the cart before the horse.

You haven’t even sold the script and you’re already cutting action sequences because of budgetary concerns? Not a good idea. Story comes first.

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8. Taking every note, rejecting every note.

Writers are notorious for having low self-esteems and inflated egos. That’s why it is important to listen to the people who read your work, but to recognize that no one knows the story you’re trying to write better than you do. The difference between professional writers and amateurs is that professional writers are able to find the note behind the note.

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7. Losing sight of what makes the story interesting.

Imagine Jurassic Park without dinosaurs or Dawn of The Dead without a shopping mall. Keeping in mind what makes your story unique is crucial to delivering on your promises as a writer. When you lose sight of that you get, well… aliens where aliens don’t belong.

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6. Writing stereotypes instead of characters.

As film aficionados and book readers, we all know a cliché when we see one on the screen, but sometimes it’s harder to recognize in our own writing. The reason writers often use stereotypes is because the writer is lazy and stereotypes are easier to write. Don’t fall into this trap. Characters should be real people with actual motivations. 

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5. Writing bad dialogue.

It’s no crime to write bad dialogue on a first pass, but it is pretty unforgivable to not change it after repeated readings. If it helps, read your work out loud or have someone else read it to you. Avoid dialogue where characters say exactly what they are feeling. If your story’s any good, the themes will be too complex for the characters to express anyway.

 

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4. Sweating the small stuff.

Writers are notorious for obsessing over the little details, especially when they are starting a new project. When you’re writing a first draft, leave your perfectionism at the door. Title your script something “Crappy Draft Jr.” and embrace the suck.

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3. Over-complicating your plot.

Two hours isn’t enough time to cram an entire “Game of Thrones” novel. Pace yourself and focus on the central themes that made you interested in writing the script in the first place.

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2. Letting facts get in the way of a good story.

It’s important to write from experience – whether you’re writing sci-fi fantasy or a coming-of-age drama, it’s important to not get mired down by the facts. Keep what’s important to your story and lose everything else.  You’ll handle the facts during the rewrite process.

 

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 1. Being afraid to rewrite.

It may seem obvious to some, but all writers edit and rewrite their work. This isn’t to say those stories you hear about Cabin in The Woods getting written in a weekend are false, but rewrites are a necessary process. A first draft can be banged out in a short time if the mood is right, but a rewrite can take years.

 

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