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Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

I know you look at a lot of scripts.  What is the one thing that will kill a screenwriter's chance of selling a script?

Shemar


This week's answer: 

"One Thing-king"

Well, one thing would be for the screenwriter not to put his or her name on the title page.  It would be hard to contact him or her to tell him or her that a producer is interested in buying the script (from him or her).

Assuming you're referring to what one thing in a screenplay would prompt me to not consider it as a viable one, I'd have to say that there's always more than one thing about a script that can send it not to the "consider pile."  So many story elements have to be taken into consideration:  structure, storyline, character development, tone, pace, etc.  But one major "thing" is if the dialogue is stilted, awkward, and generally not pleasant to the ear (or mental ear -- whatever that is.  I guess that's an ear that really doesn't hear, but one one imagines hears.  And that last sentence is a perfect example of "stilted" -- and even worse than that.).  Another "thing," and this is a "thing" that many neophyte writers (no, I'm not talking about writers who come from the planet, Neophyte), is the mistake writers make when they describe action without showing how characters, especially the protagonist, react emotionally.  Also, another "thing" that exposes amateurish writing is a lack of skill in blending narration with dialogue.  Another "thing" is the problem of scenes not being sufficiently enthralling, often lacking conflict, tension, and nuance.  One more "thing" that a weak screenplay will often display is a lack of cinematic sequencing, stringing sentences together that create the illusion for the reader that he is feeling as though he is, in a sense, watching a movie (a mental movie.  One that can be heard with mental ears and watched with mental eyes.)

Now all we all need is mental free movie tickets.  

DcH

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