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.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.Antagonists/opponents with no real reason to obstruct the hero from achieving his/her goals.
- 3.Protagonist is passive toward reaching his/her goals.
- 4.The plot is thin; the script is just people talking in rooms without any purpose/reason to be there.
- 5.Lack of introspection/judgment on behalf of the protagonist: he/she chases after a goal without any solid reason to do so.
- 6.The protagonist has nothing to lose, and therefore, there is no dramatic tension.
- 7.Supporting characters exist purely for comedic relief or as sounding boards for the protagonist.
- 8.Scenes start too early and end late; there is small-talk and narrative drive is unfocused or just not present.
- 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.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.