I got a hold of Paycheck, the 2003 John Woo film. I'd only seen it a few times. As I was watching it last night, I thought, "Objectively, with my current skills, I'm not capable of even coming up with a story this good...and this isn't that good." "Hold on," I said to myself immediately. "If you're able to see the mistakes here, then it follows you should be able to avoid similar mistakes in your own stories." So that's what this thread is about: how bad and even ugly stories can teach us to avoid the mistakes and tell a good one. For example: In Paycheck, the main character reaches for the right prop at the right time for the right purpose, but there's no reason for him to do so. He's in a futuristic setting in FBI custody, the room has filled with smoke, and his first instinct upon escaping his restraints is to...put on sunglasses? Yes, the sunglasses help him see the room clearly, but we weren't shown that he knows that. We have no reason to believe that reaching for the sunglasses would be something he'd think to do. These sunglasses are obviously a specialized, futuristic gizmo, because regular sunglasses won't help you see in a smoke-filled room, so we had the opportunity earlier for the main character to say, "What, I have firefighter's smoke glasses? Why?" That would have played better, and shown us that he recognized what the sunglasses could do. Then when he goes for them immediately after escaping the chair he's been strapped into, it makes sense. Instead, he fumbles around in the dark and puts on the glasses. It's a little too convenient. What bad moments in stories have you seen, and how would you correct them?