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At ScriptArsenal, some of our analysts also read for prominent screenwriting contests. After reading dozens of scripts for a prominent contest (and hundreds for previous contests), here are some things to avoid for screenwriters looking to advance in screenwriting contests. Crazy opening sequence plus “Five days/two weeks/seven years/etc. earlier.” This is a cliché that is incredibly popular. It shows up (anecdotally) once in every four or five screenplays. That’s an unbelievably high rate. The story starts at some moment of high tension, typically one from later in the screenplay, and then jumps back to “Two weeks earlier” or some other...

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