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classic script mistakes

Script Mistake # 5: The Journey

So here we are again… Structure. Oh, come on. You must have known THIS was coming (oo er). I’ve already written about fatty dialogue, don’t care characters, murkiness and abrupt genre/tone change. It was only a matter of time! ; ) There are many ways bad structure can screw up a script. I’ve covered most of them on here, but the one I see time and time again is meandering structure. In other words, characters do one thing… Or another thing… Or another… For seemingly no particular reason, at least at first; sometimes for no apparent reason at all. This… Read More »Script Mistake # 5: The Journey

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Script Mistake # 4: Fatty Dialogue

We all know the scripts that have dialogue that goes a bit like this: “Who am I? I am your husband, her brother and that kid over there’s father. We’ve been married for fourteen years, but your persistent amnesia dear wife has meant I have secretly been having an affair with your sister (that woman over there) and I fathered all seven of her children without you even having noticed. And by the way, can someone get me some coffee? I only like it black because that’s the way I had in ‘Nam, a place I will never forget: I… Read More »Script Mistake # 4: Fatty Dialogue

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Script Mistakes # 3: Abrupt Genre/Tone Change

SPOILERS: DUSK TIL DAWNImagine you’re a script reader. You’ve just started reading a gritty realist drama about a girl whose family life is pretty rough, maybe somewhere up North or in the boonies down Sarf somewhere. The pace is pretty nice, characterisation’s rounded, dialogue’s okay. Nearly twenty pages in, you’re beginning to understand the focus of this girl: she’s going to run away to London, sure there’s a better life for her there (only you *just know* it’ll be even worse). This is the sort of stuff that would light Ken Loach’s fire, no question. Then you get to the… Read More »Script Mistakes # 3: Abrupt Genre/Tone Change

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Script Mistakes # 2: Don’t Care Characters

SPOILERS: ALIEN TRILOGY Some characters are indelible. They leave their mark, as if they’ve been seared on to our brains lasting even though S/FX, technology, props or sets may end up looking dated. Sometimes it’s because of their integrity and survival instinct, like Ripley. Other times it’s because their self denial reminds us of what WE should really be doing too, like Miles in Sideways. Sometimes it’s because they’re a classic hero, protecting the innocent like John Book in Witness; other times it’s because they are both protagonist AND antagonist like Riddick. Often a memorable character is memorable because they… Read More »Script Mistakes # 2: Don’t Care Characters

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Top 5 Script Mistakes # 1: Murkiness

In response to a variety of emails asking me what mistakes/issues I see most often in spec scripts (TV or Film), here are my thoughts… I’ll try and do another “Research or Die” by the end of the week. Enjoy!—————————————————————————-Sometimes I’ll find myself writing in development notes that I’m not *really* sure what is going on in a story. No doubt this will be extremely odd to a writer who can see the action clearly in his/her head – and indubitably this is most often why a writer will accuse a reader of “not reading properly”. After all, if YOU… Read More »Top 5 Script Mistakes # 1: Murkiness

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