10 Worst Offenses in Spec Screenplays

I spent years interning/working in TV/film and there's a reason why people don't want to read spec scripts... Because 99.99% of them are godawful. Here are some of the worst offenses.
  1. 1.
    Female characters that exist purely to prop up an otherwise uninteresting/abusive/"troubled genius" male protagonist. Often gratuitously nude & without any desires/needs of their own, they are cardboard characters written by writers who don't understand that women are people, too.
  2. 2.
    Antagonists/opponents with no real reason to obstruct the hero from achieving his/her goals.
  3. 3.
    Protagonist is passive toward reaching his/her goals.
  4. 4.
    The plot is thin; the script is just people talking in rooms without any purpose/reason to be there.
  5. 5.
    Lack of introspection/judgment on behalf of the protagonist: he/she chases after a goal without any solid reason to do so.
  6. 6.
    The protagonist has nothing to lose, and therefore, there is no dramatic tension.
  7. 7.
    Supporting characters exist purely for comedic relief or as sounding boards for the protagonist.
  8. 8.
    Scenes start too early and end late; there is small-talk and narrative drive is unfocused or just not present.
  9. 9.
    The protagonist reaches their goal but it's entirely unearned or the audience doesn't care because they've not been made to feel invested in who the protagonist is.
  10. 10.
    Things just "happen" defying all logic, characters are introduced as plot devices, or writer employs a deus ex machina to wrap things up in a way that would never actually happen.