For intrepid screenwriters, eager to hear what’s expected of them from actual industry professionals, Film Courage must surely be one the great resources on YouTube. The channel boasts a large collection of video interviews, mostly with writers, espousing their ethos and advice. The video below is a compilation of screenwriters remarking upon typical mistakes in their profession.

Learn tips like:

Don’t mumble about this being your first pitch, or how much you admire the work of those listening to it, or how long you’ve been preparing for this moment, just get to the goods.

Don’t neglect to provide the protagonist of your story with a visible goal which they want to cross. Typically, the depths of character, plotting, theme, etc. will fall flat without an actionable goal for the protagonist to reach or fail to reach.

Never forget that you are writing for an audience. That doesn’t mean that you need to tell a story suitable for a mass audience, but it does mean that you must always consider how the next beat in the story will play to an audience unfamiliar with the shape of the story as a whole, your purpose in telling it, all the things you as screenwriter take for granted and carry with you, potentially forgetting to place them organically into the plot.

Write what you know, but be careful not to assume that just because an experience was powerful for you, that a personal story will translate to audiences.

Don’t leave hurdles out of it. Having a straight ahead, no fuss objective for your characters can get boring, and so, avoiding overcomplication, be mindful of potential obstacles you can place before them.

If someone reading your script does not understand its purpose, it will not magically come together once translated to the screen. If anything needs to be explained, re-write it straight away.

Just because your protagonist embodies the theme, that does not mean you can leave supporting characters out of it. Without some connection to the heart of the film, your side-characters will be missed opportunities.

Don’t mistake activity for action. Action involves intentional acts taken by a character, purposefully aiming to change something or reach their goal. Action would be something like going to a party, or taking a walk in their garden. These are things we do in normal life to keep busy, but in a story, actions must be at the behest of a desire.

For instance in Superbad, the boys don’t go to the party because it would be fun, but because they feel it’s their last chance to reach a level of social tolerability that has been heretofore denied before leaving for college. It is not an activity they partake in, but an action executed with a mind to improve their lives.

There’s a lot more where those came from, and more still on the channel. Click through for a horde of insights.

22 Screenwriting Mistakes from Film Courage
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