Q/A: 10 Common Screenwriting Mistakes

Q: What are the most common errors new writers make with writing a screenplay? - Hog Muffin

Thanks for your question Hog Muffin (I’m guessing that’s your pen name).

The 10 most common mistakes I see over and over from new writers are:

  1. The protagonist lacks a clear goal.
  2. Incorrect formatting and too many camera directions.
  3. Poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  4. No character transformation.
  5. All the characters sound alike (which happens to sound just like the writer’s “voice”).
  6. Not enough conflict and action.
  7. The stakes aren’t high enough.
  8. The scenes (and overall story) lack direction, they meander without purpose. The scenes don’t move the story forward.
  9. The story is derivative and predictable – everything presented has been done before and done better.
  10. Poor dialogue: on-the-nose, overly long passages, too much exposition. 

My advice: learn the craft of good screenwriting by reading successful scripts (try to read several each week), stay focused and on-track by writing from a detailed outline, and continue to edit, revise, and repeat.