How Many Pages Before A Reader Detects A Bad Screenplay? – Naomi Beaty

Film Courage: When you’re reading screenplays from unknown writers, how far into the screenplay do you know whether it’s good or bad?

Naomi Beaty, Writer, Screenwriting Teacher and Consultant: I think problems can show up very easy in a script, but they don’t always. Some scripts have a great set-up, they have a great first act and they have the right pace right away, they get the story rolling, and we feel like things are happening, we’re invested. Then in Act 2 things fall apart basically like if their protagonist stops pursuing the goal, we don’t really know what’s going on. I guess the answer is if a script has global problems that sort of cover the entire script then you will probably know within the first five pages or so. Definitely I think if it has major structural problems with all the structure, overall structure as a whole, I would say by page 15 or so you know that there’s a problem because you’re waiting for something to happen and one of the most common problems is that nothing is happening, like it’s just not getting going. I would say you can know right away…you can know pretty quickly that a script has some issues or needs some work. But I would say you can’t always tell what a script or often you can’t tell what a script’s issues are until later, until you’ve seen sort of what they are trying to accomplish or gotten a true sense of what the story really is or what they’re going for and a lot of times you don’t have that sense of what they’re going for until later in the script, until towards the end of Act 2 at least…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

 

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Related videos:

The Problem Isn’t Access, It’s A Bad Screenplay by Peter Russell

Why Screenplays Go Bad In The Second Act by William C. Martell

What Must Happen In The First 10 Pages Of Every Screenplay by Michael Hauge & Mark W. Travis

99% Of Screenplays Are Rejected After The First Scene by Corey Mandell

Mistakes That Screenwriters Make On Page 1 — Shannan E. Johnson

What Screenwriters Get Wrong On Page 1

11 Minute Rule Screenwriters And Filmmakers Should Know — Shane Stanley

 

 

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