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Old 09-10-2005, 01:19 PM   #1
Deus Ex Machine
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Default First Ten Pages

I wanted to add this before the thread was closed.

I thought it was interesting that in another thread on what makes for good first ten pages of a script how Chris Lockhart's comments were very similar to the comments of the CBS executive posted by Natpal.

"Your script must be involving from line one. Your main character must grab my attention the moment he opens his mouth. I must know who and what the story is about as soon as possible. Immediately thereafter, I must feel that your main character is interesting enough to attract a star. If your story is not moving by page ten, neither I, nor any other reader will continue reading. You may think that it's not fair for you to work for a year on a script, then have it dismissed by an executive in five minutes. You may think rules are made to be disobeyed. You may think you're original when you do things differently. I hate to tell you, but you're wrong. Be original in your content. A script is a blueprint for a movie. As such, it has to fit the needs of a movie. It must satisfy basic requirements, and because of the fierce competition, it must do so straight up."

Chris Lockhart said:

My advise if you're writing a SPEC:

I would suggest opening with an interesting
visual capsule - something that helps set
the tone and (even) theme of the story.

Create a memorable scene of introduction for
your protagonist - a scene that can - at least -
inspire your reader to identify with the hero.

Make the world interesting. Explore the story
and character set-up through conflict.

Often, in opening scenes, writers do not use
conflict to set up story and character elements.
(They wait until the major conflict of the
narrative is introduced later.)

As an example, we meet the hero's family at
breakfast - as they sit around and talk and
eat. This could be boring.

Use conflict to explore the family. This does
not mean they have to fire guns at the
table. Use conflict that befits the situation
and allows the audience to understand who
these people are - and how their dynamics
affect the protagonist.

Carefully choose what goes into the first
ten pages. And be sure to raise story
questions that will create intrigue and

Finish up with the "inciting incident" - the
scene that first makes the character and
reader aware that a big problem waits

This should provide enough fodder and
momentum to get the reader into the
next ten pages.


...a screenplay is not the sum total of its words,
it is the sum total of its construction.

Unlike a novel - which is written to be read.
A screenplay is a blueprint written to be
filmed. The "words" (with the exception of
dialogue) are never truly experienced by the
intended audience in the way they are in a
book. (This is why writers like Faulkner failed
as screenwriters.)

There is a difference between being a writer
and being a dramatist.

There are more writers in Hollywood than
there are dramatists - which is why most
scripts fail and why most "writers" are not

(It is a little detail often overlooked.)

So shutting down a script at the end of
page one because it is not well written may
prevent the reader from uncovering some
great drama.

I've had this experience MANY times.

A BEAUTIFUL MIND is just one example - a
script with unspectacular writing that housed
some excellent drama and compelling

Fortune favors the bold - Virgil

Last edited by Deus Ex Machine : 09-11-2005 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 10-11-2005, 06:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: First Ten Pages

Thanks for the post!

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Old 11-18-2005, 03:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: First Ten Pages

Have you seen the Michael Hauge article called "Opening Scenes: Force the Reader to Turn the Page?" It's a great piece about grabbing the reader in the first ten pages. It was originally in Screentalk and they've since taken it off their website, but you can still read it on my site at

Hope you like it.
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Old 11-21-2005, 01:58 AM   #4
David Alin
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Location: La Mirada, CA
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Default Re: First Ten Pages

There is also a good read (finally) from the CS (Creative Screenwriting Expo 4) in LA by Kark Iglesias "Writing for Emotional Impact", I highly recommend this read. There's also DVD's on his instruction as well.

He mentions that not only the first 10 pages,but every scene and every instance should intrigue the reader to want to know more!

D. Alin
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