8 Screenwriting Cliches to Avoid

By January 4, 2014Blog

V Renée over at No Film School recently shared some great infographics of movie clichés.

Screenwriters could always use a reminder to avoid these over-used clichés, even though you might successfully use one or two of them. V Renée points out that clichés are sometimes useful as placeholders, but if you find one of these in your script, think carefully about replacing it with something more original.

Here are 8 screenwriting cliches to avoid whenever possible:

  • Villains with terrible accuracy. This makes it easy to get your hero out of trouble, but an easy escape should never be your goal. Your hero should have to struggle as much as possible to keep the audience emotionally involved.

  • Surveillance vans disguised as flower delivery. Find a new method of surveillance. There are plenty in today’s world.

  • Villains who explain their plan to the hero. This goes in the “makes things too easy for your hero” category.

  • Computer geeks who can hack anything. Depictions of hacking in movies have always been unrealistic. Surprise readers by actually doing research into how hacking really looks.

  • Cars that don’t start. Sure, things like this make it harder for your hero to escape, but it’s been used so often that it’s a joke. Find other barriers for your hero to traverse.

  • Guns that don’t need reloading. They may keep up the pace of action scenes, but audiences are smart enough to notice unrealistic guns.

  • Housekeepers that become romantic interests and live happily ever after instead of staying housekeepers. In the real world, people don’t jump up in social class as often as they do in the movies.

  • Lines like “It’s showtime!” Sure, sometimes real people speak in clichés, but that doesn’t mean you should use tired lines in your writing.

Let us know about your pet peeve screenwriting clichés in the comments or on Twitter!

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