To give you a helping hand, we thought we’d look back at the submissions to our Fall Contest and tell you what we learned from them – giving you a valuable insight into what works, what doesn’t, and what you need to do to really succeed in our contests and the wider industry! Here are our insights…
- We’ve been seeing a lot of historical dramas lately, which is great because it’s always a popular genre with both audiences and critics! However, remember that we’re always looking at the past through the lens of the present. Make your script relevant to what’s happening in modern times and it’s much more likely to grab our attention.
- Biopics also proved popular in our Fall Contest. Telling the story of someone famous (or who’s flown under the radar) is a great concept for a script, but remember that it still needs to be a story. Too many of the biopics we read simply recounted every event in their subject’s life instead of shaping them with a meaningful structure. The result is that all the events in these scripts had the same dramatic weight – no matter how big or small!
- Subplots matter. If you don’t have any at all, your script can end up feeling thin; concentrate on them too much, and they can take over your script and make it lose focus. We encountered both of these issues with the submissions we saw, so make sure you keep the focus on your main story while also thinking of how the subplots can support and enhance it.
- On a similar note, every scene should move the story forward in some way and serve a particular function in the overall script. Even some of the very best scripts in this contest contained scenes that went nowhere and added nothing, and could easily have been trimmed. Building your world and characters is always good – we need to care about them to care about the story! – but make sure those scenes are relevant and don’t kill the momentum. And if they do? Cut them!
- Make sure you’ve got a unique selling point! We make a point of this every contest, but it remains relevant. A number of scripts were well written, strongly structure, had engaging and likeable characters… but lacked the spark needed to truly succeed. Don’t give us something we’ve seen before. Try to stand out from the crowd!
So there you have it: the most common issues we saw among submissions to the Fall Contest. Hopefully they’ll help as you prepare to submit: the standard deadline for both our current contests is December 20th! Check out our recent Insights article into making sure your script is ready, too.
And if you’re already ready, click HERE to submit to our Winter Screenwriting Contest and click HERE to submit to our Romance and Comedy Award!