Honestly, it is royally painful for me to see what crap in independent horror ends up getting distribution and what doesn’t. Mostly what I see is the filmmakers seem to act like the script is an afterthought. So many times I’ve ended up wasting my time watching stories full of stereotype characters, cookie cutter plots, and just plain boring and uninspired storylines. Even the supposedly SUPERIOR horror socials tend to push their own egos over substance, emotion strength, and backstory.
Since 1983 when I worked on Star Trek II and III with Harve Bennett and also wrote the Camp Crystal Lake novels I’ve have had a slew of budding writers and screenwriters come to me for advice and to learn the craft, and I do say CRAFT, of writing both books and screenplays. This craft is nothing to take lightly and is something that takes work to develop. It is through ignorance and a lack of understanding that bad books and films with weak plots and characters are put out on the market and cause the fans to waste money and time on lack luster stories, with lack luster characters, that tank.
Below is a list that every aspiring screenwriter needs to burn into their brains.
This list comes from experience of what doesn’t work. If certain people would get this stuff into their shallow ego case brains, I’d have nothing to say against them other than they are jokes when it comes to being human beings….LOL.
But check this out:
This list comes from Joe Berkowitz, a professional script reader. I know this myself and beat it into the minds of any budding script writer who comes to me for help.
1.The story begins too late in the script
2.The scenes are void of meaningful conflict
3.The script has a by-the-numbers execution
4.The story is too thin
5.The villains are cartoonish, evil-for-the-sake-of-evil
6.The character logic is muddy
7.The female part is underwritten
8.The narrative falls into a repetitive pattern
9.The conflict is inconsequential, flash-in-the-pan
10.The protagonist is a standard issue hero
11.The script favors style over substance
12.The ending is completely anti-climactic
13.The characters are all stereotypes
14.The script suffers from arbitrary complexity
15.The script goes off the rails in the third act
16.The script’s questions are left unanswered
17.The story is a string of unrelated vignettes
18.The plot unravels through convenience/contrivance
19.The script is tonally confused
20The protagonist is not as strong as need be
21.The premise is a transparent excuse for action
22.The character backstories are irrelevant/useless
23.Supernatural element is too undefined
24.The plot is dragged down by disruptive lulls
25.The ending is a case of deus ex machina
26.The characters are indistinguishable from each other
27.The story is one big shrug
28.The dialogue is cheesy, pulpy, action movie cliches
29.The script is a potboiler
30.The drama/conflict is told but not shown
31.The great setting isn’t utilized
32.The emotional element is exaggerated
33.The dialogue is stilted and unnecessarily verbose
34.The emotional element is neglected
35.The script is a writer ego trip
36.The script makes a reference, but not a joke
37.The message overshadows the story
You see, if Jen and Sylvia Soska understood this American Mary would not have tanked at the end or been a convoluted mess. But that is my over three decades of experience and as a writer and screenwriter talking….