First Ten Pages



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  • 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

    Last edited by Deus Ex Machine; 09-11-2005, 08:59 AM.
    Fortune favors the bold - Virgil

  • #2
    Re: First Ten Pages

    Thanks for the post!



    • #3
      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.


      • #4
        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
        D. Alin Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Basically) [Skype me at "Buyitpc" - I will surely love to talk!]