I love infographics. Once you get past the cute/interesting stuff in this one (most of the submitted screenplays were, apparently, 107.2-page repetitive, stylized slasher films in which good triumphs over evil, set in the present in anonymous small towns with male hero, male villain, and underwritten female roles, written by men), you get to the crux of the matter.
The problems, which comprise the right-hand half of the infographic.
Yes, I think the separate listing of “problems” funny, given that the description I’ve just gleaned from the left-hand half. But I digress.
Here are the top three:
The story begins too late in the script.
The scenes are void of meaningful conflict.
The story is too thin. (tied with, The script has by-the-numbers execution.)
This infographic, made by this company, is the aggregation of information derived from this article, which is linked to this list of common writing mistakes “to avoid” – as if one would choose embrace the others. Oh. People do, according to the infographic.
IMHO (or IMO, perhaps, I’m feeling a bit less humble than outraged), the most important mistakes in the latterly linked list are items 6, 7, and 13.
6. People say exactly what they mean.
The Black Board article goes on to reference the writing of subtext, but that’s only one of the problems with many writers’ dialogue. If acting comprises objectives and tactics (and life comprises figuring out how to get what you want), how often does one succeed by walking up to the person who holds the key and saying, “I want this, give it to me”? And even if that tactic does (occasionally) breed success, how boring is that? The linked advice, “When someone comes into your office, it is always the third thing.” is pretty well guaranteed to produce the #2 reason scripts are rejected (“The scenes are void of meaningful conflict,” in case you’ve already forgotten).
7. The actual action of the scene is unclear.
If you don’t know what you’re writing about, why are you writing?
13. No major conflict.
Look, it’s all good and well to want to write, and to write, but DO NOT ASK A READER TO READ SOMETHING SO INCOMPLETE AS TO HAVE NO MAJOR CONFLICT. WITHOUT CONFLICT, THERE IS NO DRAMA. Or, as I’ve said it before.
So perhaps, before you send your precious script off to glut the inboxes of those who might be able to get it produced – the underlying topic of this and the linked articles – think about whether it’s even produceable and whether it says something we haven’t heard or seen before, something that may contribute to life on the planet and not just, like the lottery ticket in your pocket, to you.
See? Overlapping problems.