Rookie Screenwriting Mistakes

May 17, 2011 at 10:07 am

Rookie Screenwriting Mistakes | Screenwriting Blog

EXT. GARAGE

That’s what I wrote…  The main character in my short screenplay leaves his house and enters the garage to talk to his father.  The scene takes place INSIDE the garage.

To be clear about my embarrassing mistake, it should be INT. GARAGE.  Ouch.

As you can see, I’m highly critical of myself and every writer should be to some extent but rookie mistakes make me crazy. Absolutely crazy.  Virtually every single book about screenwriting has a section on avoiding amateur mistakes.  These simple beginner errors cause your hard work to end up in the garbage or set on fire.

I’m both an aspiring screenwriter and a human so I’m no stranger to mistakes.  I’m not perfect.  It’s one thing to mess up their and there (so long as you catch it) but it’s quite another to mess up the simple things like SLUGS!

INT. GARAGE, INT. GARAGE, INT. GARAGE…

I think the reason I’m so hard on myself in this case is because I sent the draft containing my mistake to family and friends.  I had done my revisions for grammar, spelling and format and was confident it was typo free.  Then I spotted it.  To be fair, none of them read screenplays on a regular basis so the error won’t stick out but readers and producers will spot it just by glancing at the page.

It’s like my job as an editor in television.  Every element I cut and send to air HAS to be perfect.  Every so often, something sneaks by me and it drives me nuts.  9 times out of 10, audiences won’t catch these tiny blips but I do.  I catch them on other channels all the time.  I’m paid to be a perfectionist.

The point is, if your draft is good enough to send to family and friends it should be good enough for the pros as well.  It should be perfect.  You may not catch every single mistake you make but these types of errors can be avoided with proper patience and dedication to every single word.  Actually, I kind of like the sound of that.

DEDICATE YOURSELF TO EVERY WORD

Your screenplays are calling cards and should display every ounce of your talent.  Nobody wants to have a reader distracted by simple grammatical errors.  Those should be easy to spot but don’t stop there.  You never know where rookie mistakes like EXT. GARAGE are hiding.

Let your story shine through.  Don’t cloud it with mistakes.

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Rookie Screenwriting Mistakes | Screenwriting Blog | Dedicate Yourself To Every Word

How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make is one of my favorite books about screenwriting.  It holds nothing back and shows you countless rookie mistakes you can easily avoid.  It’s the most influential book I’ve read in terms of format and structure.

Check out my full review of the book here.

XTRA | Rookie Photoshop For Movie Nerds