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Jag snubblade över detta på nätet och tänkte dela med mig till er :)


Det är från: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133480


Heya, guys. I'm new here, but I thought y'all would like this article (which you can also read at my Script A Wish Blog). I've read literally thousands of spec scripts, and there are a surprisingly small amount of mistakes that writers commonly make...




I read screenplays for a living. Hundreds and hundreds of screenplays.


There are times when I sit down, curl back the title page over the brads, and know from a split-second glance at the first page that this script will be totally and profoundly unsellable.


Other times, it takes longer.


But when it comes to mistakes that writers make, it's true what the TREMORS poster (and, yanno, Ecclesiastes) said: There's nothing new under the sun.


It's sort of heartbreaking, seeing the missteps that cause aspiring screenwriters to faceplant just as they're extending their hand to Hollywood.


Writing a spec script consumes months, sometimes years. Yet all that head-and-heartache often seems to come undone around a shockingly common choir of faults.


Want to know how to sell a spec screenplay? Perk up your ears, kids. These are, in no order particularly, the top five mistakes that spec screenwriters make.




MISTAKE #1: They use camera directions.


Let me simultaneously grab my megaphone, bullhorn, soapbox, and bully pulpit, and trumpet this announcement once and forever:




(And by this, I mean both explicit camera directions and implicit camera directions: Using "IMAGES OF" or "WE SEE" is every bit a camera direction as "CAMERA TRACKS.")


The use them is a cardinal sin, especially in this age. Like the use of "beats," scripts used to have more camera directions. But with the rise of The Director, they have been eliminated from the words on the page. Essentially, it pisses off a director when you tell him how to shoot the movie, and it confuses actors because they don’t care about camera directions.


Yes, I know: You've read William Goldman's screenplays—even the ones written today!—and he uses 'em. You've read David Koepp's, and darn it if there weren't a crap-ton of camera dictates in WAR OF THE WORLDS.


Well, allow me to kill the suspense: You are neither William Goldman nor David Koepp.


Don't take that as a snarky way of putting you down. It's not.


But the fact is, those men are established, and what goes for them does not go for you. They can write whatever they darn well please and get away with it (Exhibit A: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL… Sigh.)




MISTAKE #2: Lack of character development; or, conversely (but just as damningly), too much character development.


It's obvious that not letting us know who your characters are is a Grade A way to shoot oneself in the foot.


But how, you ask, could there be too much character development?


a. The script tells us things that are not absolutely necessary to the story.


b. The script attempts to establish the characters—particularly the protagonist—in the first act, supplying a clunky, lumpy, exposition-thick characterization for the first thirty pages. This is something that, if you get, could change your writing life entirely: You do not have to let us know who you protagonist is as a person at the very beginning. Give us hints, yes, by all means; artfully give us those glimpses of his soul that make an audience lean forward in a kind of joint empathy for this person on the screen. But the process of the ENTIRE STORY should be a gradual drawing away of the curtain, the true character of a person revealed (and changed) through their actions and reactions across the grand span of all three acts. (The Unknown Screenwriter has an amazing .pdf available for download on this very subject. Read his blog. He will change you.)




MISTAKE #3: Poor formatting/description.


I admit it: This one's a bit of a cheat. I can actually think of several different errors that fall under this category. Here are the main ones:


a. The writer simply has no knowledge of the screenwriting format. You've seen these scripts. Messed-up margins; improperly used slugs. I see this and I know, as John August once said, This guy's an amateur screenwriter; he's not an ASPIRING screenwriter.


b. The descriptions are too long. Ever seen those soul-crushing eight-inch-thick scene descriptions? Me, too. They're why I have to wear glasses.




MISTAKE #4: The script's premise is a retread.


I know what you're thinking: Can't SPEED/DIE HARD-on-a-[insert-location-here] still sell?


Oh my, yes.


Just Google Michael S. Palmer's ALTITUDE, which was actually pitched as SPEED-on-a-plane. But, guys, that's just shorthand; he didn't copy SPEED in any way. (In fact, ALTITUDE is a terrifically fun thriller that owes as much to Richard Preston's horrifying books on viruses as it does to any Willis or Reeves thriller.)


Look, I know you love THE GOONIES. I know you (err, maybe) adored CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC.


But if you want to sell a screenplay, please do not, for Jehovah's sake, write another corny Suburban-Kids-On-An-Adventure. (All other things aside, unless you've got an adult starring role, it won't get made these days)


And do not pen another script about a spoiled girl going through heartache, losing her job, losing her dog, losing her man; fighting back; going skydiving; finally landing that dream gig, and realizing she does, goshdarnitall, have what it takes.


Again, I'm not trying to be mean here. I'm trying to give you tips so your writing can improve. Because real screenwriters improve with everything they write.


And the way they do that is, they take chances.


You might feel safe ripping off BoxOfficeMojo's latest #1. But the truth is, never taking risks is the most dangerous thing of all. It means you'll never grow. And I hate to be bringin' the bad news, guys, but never growing means never selling a script or getting an agent.


Ripping off ideas speaks to cynicism, yes—the idea that you can manipulate the audience with a pre-programmed material.


But on a deeper level, it speaks to insecurity.


It shows you're not writing from the gut-level up. You're writing with mere ink, not lifeblood.


You're writing, if anything, from your left-brain, from your wallet (which—Irony speaketh!—will probably remain empty until you stop writing with one eye on what Nikki Finke thinks the next trend is).


The lesson here? We all know how important it is to create a high concept premise for your spec screenplay. But even more important: Come up with one that doesn't instantly invite a (pale) comparison to a genre standard bearer.


And now, for our final mistake...




MISTAKE #5: The script has nothing to say.


A little more ephemeral, but profoundly important nonetheless.


Seeing this one in action always makes me sad, because I happen to think that all great storytelling springs from theme (more on that another time).


Most spec screenwriters—even the ones that are almost there—seem to disagree.


Guys, you've gotta have something to say.


As a writer, it is your duty to venture out into moral or philosophical netherworlds and come back with your new conclusions, with possible new Truth unearthed. Because regardless of how awesome the plot twists are; how witty the dialogue; how spectacular the action, without a powerful theme, I can almost guarantee that your script will become, as I've often heard execs lament, "just another spec."


This goes along with writing what you think will be popular—not writing from the core of who you are.


Noah Lukeman said something in his brilliant THE FIRST FIVE PAGES that altered the arc my own life as a writer more than nearly anything else: "When agents say they want a writer 'with a voice,' we're not just referring to the way an author chooses his words. We want people with a unique way of viewing the world, and something of substance to say about it."


He was talking about novel manuscripts, but I think we can all quit picking nits for a second and acknowledge that it's basically all the same storytelling beast.


What do you care deeply about? What infuriates you, or makes your spirit soar?


Write about that.


No, your spec should not be an on-the-nose spiritual journey. But even DIE HARD had something to say about the boundaries of love, and how it can make us do stupid/extraordinary things (running on glass, anyone?).

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Absolut, detta är väl det som alltid tjatats om. Men lik förbannat så är de alltid lika aktuella :) Tänk också att detta är skrivet av en lektör som erbjuder sina tjänster, men ändå så försöker han ju ge gratistips att detta borde man ta sig förbi innan man skickar ens till en lektör ;)


Om man läser vidare i tråden på det forumet som kommer mer läsvärt också.

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