How To's | Screenplay Doctor | Screenwriting

Five Reasons Why Your Script is Getting Rejected

31 Jan , 2011  

Written by Susan Kouguell | Posted by:

Tired of rejection letters? Find out what may be behind them. To have your screenplay questions answered in an upcoming issue, e-mail screenwriter@newenglandfilm.com.

There is nothing more frustrating, depressing, aggravating — fill in the adjectives — than getting a rejection letter from an agent or production entity.

Remember that film executives and story analysts are visual readers. What does this mean? This means that when readers receive your script, the chances are very good that they will quickly flip through the pages to see what they actually look like before they start carefully reading each word of your screenplay.

What do readers not want to see?

  1. Incorrect formatting. This is a sure sign that you are an amateur and that you are not respecting the time of the reader. You can either purchase or download free screenwriting software.
  2. Pages upon pages of dialogue with no action paragraphs. Characters should not be static, talking heads. They should move around, pace, scratch their head, and so on. These brief actions should help to inform the reader about who each character is.
  3. Endless action paragraphs. Beware of being too dialogue-heavy, but also of being too description-heavy. Pages upon pages of action paragraphs that contain unnecessary details and exposition are viewed by film industry folks as a waste of ink and a waste of a reader’s time. Readers will quickly lose patience and skim these long-winded paragraphs.
  4. Camera direction. Camera angles are an immediate red flag to readers, who understand all too well that prospective directors do not really want your suggestions on how to direct the movie.
  5. Too many pages. Keep in mind that generally one script page equals one minute of film time. Typically, a script should not be more than 120 pages, but 100 to 110 pages is the current recommended length.

    Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell, teaches screenwriting and film at Tufts University, and is chairperson of Su-City Pictures — a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990. She is the author of The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! www.su-city-pictures.com; su-city-pictures.blogspot.com/

    You can follow my Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page to receive more Savvy Tips about how to write, structure, and sell your screenplay.


Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell, teaches screenwriting and film at Tufts University, and is chairperson of Su-City Pictures -- a motion picture consulting company founded in 1990. She is the author of The Savvy Screenwriter: How to Sell Your Screenplay (and Yourself) Without Selling Out! www.su-city-pictures.com; su-city-pictures.blogspot.com/ You can follow my Su-City Pictures, LLC Facebook fan page and SKouguell Twitter page to receive more Savvy Tips about how to write, structure, and sell your screenplay.