When Is It Time To Pass On A Screenplay?


A PASS grade on a screenplay is not like a pass grade in school. Screenwriters want a RECOMMEND. Or at least a CONSIDER.

1) YOU CAN’T FIGURE OUT THE TYPE OF STORY IT IS

Oftentimes these appear as a series of loosely connected scenes or ideas without a clear through line. The genre, tone, premise and characters are poorly defined. This suggests the writer hasn’t fully figured out their story yet. At times the story stalls until the middle of the script, when it may get some traction.

2) EPISODIC NARRATIVE

The scenes segue into others without raising the energy level. Events just happen rather than happens for a reason.

3) SCRIPT LOSES ITS WAY

This ranges from the original story setup going off the rails to forced/ contrived story tangents in the story. The script doesn’t answer its central question.

3) UNNECESSARY SCENES

They don’t propel the story or reveal character. They are often missing conflict and read flat. This may symptom of the writer wanting to fill pages rather than create a lean story.

4) NOT ENOUGH STORY

There isn’t enough plot trajectory to sustain a feature length script. It may be the concept isn’t fully developed. This can lead to unnecessary scenes on the page.

5) POORLY DEVELOPED PROTAGONIST

It is unclear what the main character actually wants and why they make the choices they do. Their logic can be mercurial or muddy.

6) UNMOTIVATED ANTAGONIST

In many respects the villain is the most important character in your screenplay because they test the limits of the main character. Scripts can read flat if we don’t understand what drives your antagonist. The driving force behind your antagonist should have as much validity as the protagonist.

7) STEREOTYPED CHARACTERS

The characters are so predictable and boring, there are no surprises. Although the dramatic functions of your characters should be clear, they should have at least one unique trait.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Kevin Ndango says:

    This article has taught me somuch as a writer and I shall rewrite my scripts as I keep having them PASS by industries.
    Before I used to think that maybe it is because I am an african writer or because I don’t live in USA or europe or maybe I am a new writer or haven’t no credentials in writing yet hence make it difficult to breakthrough. Meanwhile the note has shown me all that is needed (some corrections).
    I will welcome anyone to who will suggest me industries or websites I can submit my scripts for free. That person can write me directly to kevinndango@gmail.com

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