Things In Your Script That Turned My Hair Gray (Part I)
There are a bevy of repeated awful things that I keep seeing in screenplays, that have left my dashing brown waves a dull gray... oh, who am I kidding. My dad started to go gray in his 20s, and bald a few years later, so I'm not doing so badly.
But I'm constantly amazed at the amateurish things I see a lot of in scripts, and I'm not talking about the really amateurish things, like character names that keep inexplicably changing throughout the script, or a character's name on the bottom of one page and the dialogue on top of the other. That is basic stuff -- if you aren't reading your screenplay over before it is sent out, you have more problems than this blog can ever help with.
Still, as nagging things occur to me, I'll post them, just to get them off my chest. Here's a few --
THE MAIN CHARACTER'S LIFE THROWN INTO CHAOS BECAUSE HE OWES A BOOKIE MONEY. Really, how often does this happen, particularly nowadays, when the bookie has gone the way of the beehive? But it still pops up in screenplays all the time, a thin excuse to drive the action, while generally by the end the main character's gambling problem isn't even dealt with. Instead, it's cue hulking guys named Rocco, who bang on the door while the main character dives onto his fire escape, or flees down the stairs with the befuddled love interest.
NAME-CHECKING THE SCRIPT YOU'RE STEALING FROM. It's dumbfounding how often I come upon this. Generally, the writer will take big plot hunks from a popular movie, and then have the characters talk about that same movie during the script, as if this somehow makes it okay -- as if it's somehow a "homage" if you acknowledge it. It's not. Even all the Die Hard ripoffs had the class not to have the characters talk about Bruce Willis during the movie.
If you are doing a movie about single girls looking for love, don't have them mention "Sex In The City". Please. Please. Please.
SEEKING LAUGHS IN A CHARACTER FORGETTING ANOTHER'S NAME. Yeesh. This is generally the bottom of the barrel in terms of seeking humor, when a character purposely or forgetfully calls a character by a bunch of different names. "Chip!" "My name's Bob". "Bart!". I know, itt has been done in movies a lot, but as a source of humor this is marrow that has been pretty much sucked dry.
FART JOKES. If you haven't come up with the greatest twist in fart joke history, don't go there.