Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

Reasons Why Your Script Has Been Rejected

Every screenwriter experiences rejection. There can be numerous reasons why a screenplay gets rejected. Sometimes it has to do with small details not reflective of the script, and other times it's because of larger glaring issues with the script. Screenwriters should be aware of the possible reasons their scripts are being passed on. So, keep reading to find out why your script has been rejected!

Reasons Why Your Script Has Been Rejected

Why was my script rejected?

When a producer or industry executive declines to read your script or says it's not right for them, they'll often do so without explanation. That leaves you wondering … what the heck went wrong? Here are a few reasons why someone may have rejected your screenplay.

Scene descriptions are too long

I've been guilty of this one! Readers want to be able to breeze through a script and have visuals instantly come to mind. If they have to read through long scene descriptions and wade through various details, they will feel like the script reads slow and that it's not very visual. Nothing strikes fear into a script reader's heart more than seeing huge blocks of scene description. Aim to break descriptions up. Try using two sentences at a time for descriptions. Go for the broad strokes instead of the small details.

The first ten pages don't pull a reader in

Your first ten pages of a script must do a lot of heavy lifting. They need to excite and entice a reader to want to know more. They also need to adequately set up the premise of the story, as well as the conflict. If the first ten pages of your script just mill about without driving us toward the greater story, it's time to do some rewriting!

The logline is more compelling than the script

A logline is a one to two-sentence description of your script. For some people, they're easier to write than a screenplay; for others, it's difficult to summarize a whole script so briefly. I've seen great loglines that impress more than the script itself, which is not what any writer wants! If your logline works better than your screenplay, it's time to consider what makes it so great and edit your script to reflect that.

The script has too many typos

You always want to proofread your script multiple times and have friends or other writers give it a proofread as well. A script with too many errors looks unprofessional and can be enough reason for a studio to pass.

Your script has too many characters

When reading your screenplay, you never want the reader to feel confused or like they're struggling to keep up. A script with too many major characters makes readers constantly flip back pages and refamiliarize themselves with who's who. This is made worse when characters are not written in a way that easily distinguishes them from one another. Try to cut down unnecessary characters and consolidate others for a less confusing read.

Not enough conflict

Conflict is the driving force of screenwriting. Mastering conflict is something that every writer gets better at over time. You want your script to have as much conflict as possible because that fuels the story and prevents it from feeling stagnant. You want your script to build and build as it goes on. You don't want odd moments that read slow or pointless. It's important to do a readthrough of your script to gauge the conflict and if it's working or not.

The text looks busy

When trying to emphasize a point, the writer often capitalizes or bolds what they're saying; overuse of this can be distracting. No reader wants to look at a page full of ALL CAPS or many exclamation points. Use emphasis sparingly; save it for when it's needed.

You sent your script unsolicited

Please don't send a script to agencies or production companies without them requesting to read it. If you want to get somebody interested in reading your script, try sending out polite query letters to your person of interest.

Your screenplay isn't the right length

The average feature-length screenplay should be between 90 to 115 pages. If your script is over 125 pages long or under 80 pages, it can signal that it's either overwritten or underwritten. This isn't always true, but it should be something writers consider if their script is rejected.

Final Thoughts

Those are some common reasons why your script might have been rejected! It's good for writers to be aware of these types of things so that they can edit against them. Now that you know that long scene descriptions might result in someone passing on your script, you can correct it. I hope this blog helped, and happy writing!

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