What’s One Similarity Between Screenplays and Novels?

I’m reading a book called, The Writing of a Screenplay, by Andrew Robinson. I met Andrew at the Florida Writer’s conference in Bradenton, FL a few weeks ago. Here’s a bit of his bio from his website HERE.

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“Take time to watch this trailer too. You won’t be disappointed.)

I love how simple Andrew’s screenplay book outlines the do’s and don’t’s of writing a screenplay–something I have absolutely no experience with. This type of writing is so different than writing novels or short stories.

However, there is one thing that’s similar about screenplays and novels–cliches. Writers use them even when they shouldn’t.

Andrew gives the following examples of cliches, and I laughed at each one. How many times have I written scenes this way? How many times have I read these types of scene in books or stories? Too many to count.

  • The killer will talk to the hero rather than just shoot, thus giving him/her a chance to escape.
  • The fruit stand/truck in a car chase always gets hit.
  • The killer in the backseat won’t be seen by anyone getting in the car.
  • The gun is never loaded when it’s most needed, and the person using it never checks it beforehand.
  • The open window/door never has the killer behind it, he’s right behind the girl when he turns around.
  • A cough is a sign of a fatal disease.
  • Bombs always have multi-colored wires and a clock to count down to zero.
  • Aliens are almost always the same size and shape of humans.
  • Women and children always trip and fall during a chase.
  • Dying people always get their last word out, unless it’s the identity of their killer.
  • At some point, people always split up, and end up getting picked off one by one by the killer, assassin, SEAL, team, or whatever.
  • Elevator shafts, duct work, ventilator shafts are always clean and well-lit.
  • Teens in a horror movie always get killed if they have sex and/or do drugs.
  • The hero and villain, fighting man-to-man, will not be helped by an of their minions.
  • A simple blow to the back of the head will knock someone out, but they can always run through a hail of bullets unscathed.
  • Kids and teens know more than adults.
  • Numerous name brand products will be on prominent display.
  • When police tell someone to “Freeze!” they never do, and they always get the drop on the cops.
How about you? Have you used any of these cliches in your writing? Did they make you laugh?

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  1. Charles Baucum says:

    Another cliché that I am getting tired of is variations on “Why won’t listen to me!” and “You don’t understand!” I can’t count the number of bad stories I’ve read, and films I’ve watched, where the conflict hinged on someone utterly failing to get to the point while nattering on at length about why you don’t know what they know. Just once I’d like to see someone just say “Don’t open that! There’s a live panther inside!” and then worry about whether the other guy understands or believes him.

  2. The Writing of a Screenplay by Andrew Robinson sounds great. I’m going to recommend it to one of my friends who has moved into writing screenplays. Thanks for sharing!

    And I did chuckle at some of the clichés . . . I only used one . . . The very first one, lol–but I think it works. Heh. And I should be so lucky as to have some big company want to pay me to place their product in my work! 🙂

    • Hi Ev – I agree about placing products in my book. Hey, if they want to pay me I could go along with that. Ha. But I think I’ve used many more than one of these in my writing. Not anymore though. Not after reading this.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you’re writing a ton.


  3. Hi All! Well, it’s wonderful to see people enjoying my book and getting some use out of it. If any of you have questions or comments about writing, please feel free to contact me. I’m always willing to talk about writing and help fellow writers develop their craft.

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