The Biggest Trends, Themes and Problems with Today's Screenplays, All in One Image

The Biggest Trends, Themes and Problems with Today's Screenplays, All in One Image

Feb 03, 2014

It’s sometimes said that being a screenwriter is one of Hollywood’s most thankless jobs, but without a solid script most films will quickly go off the rails — or worse yet, never see the big screen. An anonymous professional script reader read 300 scripts for five different studios and decided to take notes on the trends and problems common across the board. They created a handy infographic to share the results. Since most writers crave feedback, this should come in handy for you budding screenwriters out there. Here are the top 20 issues, which we spotted on io9:


The story begins too late in the script
The scenes are void of meaningful conflict
The script has a by-the-numbers execution
The story is too thin
The villains are cartoonish, evil-for-the-sake-of-evil
The character logic is muddy
The female part is underwritten
The narrative falls into a repetitive pattern
The conflict is inconsequential, flash-in-the-pan
The protagonist is a standard issue hero
The script favors style over substance
The ending is completely anti-climactic
The characters are all stereotypes
The script suffers from arbitrary complexity
The script goes off the rails in the third act
The script's questions are left unanswered
The story is a string of unrelated vignettes
The plot unravels through convenience/contrivance
The script is tonally confused
The protagonist is not as strong as [he or she needs to] be


Other facts charted here are a little discouraging. Out of those 300 scripts, 203 received a “pass,” and only eight got a coveted “recommended.” Most writers were male (270 versus 22 female scribes), and most of the projects were testosterone-sounding stories with “macho action-movie names.” Interestingly, the genre that received the most submissions was horror, which makes sense since many now-famous filmmakers first found their footing there. Overall, the infographic offers some helpful tips for the novice screenwriter and a clear picture of the direction one should take when approaching a new writing project. If you’re a seasoned script reader or a screenwriter who has something additional to offer, feel free to chime in, below.

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