What pulls you in the first sentences?

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  • What pulls you in the first sentences?

    I have never understood this statement...

    "Your story should grab the reader and pull out their guts in the first ten words. It used to be the first ten pages, and then the first ten lines, but we live in fast-paced times. Well-compensated executives do not have the luxury to read twelve, fifteen, or even fifty words before finding out if your story is any good."

    What pulls someone in, within the first couple of words/sentences? I mean...that seems kind of silly...

    Can someone elaborate on this?

  • #2
    Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

    "when you go on a set the easiest way to find the director is look for the guy doing nothing"

    same kind of quote. is the director really the one who is doing nothing? off course not. but what it means in practical terms is this.

    script 1:

    FADE IN

    A light on in a room, we see clothes, a pizza box, and sneakers and ADDY SHAW, 22, a handsome boy, with a strong chin

    script 2.

    OVER BLACK

    The faint sound of a leaky pipe... DRIPS.... one after another...

    DRIPS

    OUT FROM A WRIPPLE OF WATER

    a bathtub, over flowing, a NAKED WOMEN, wrinkled and bloated from the water bobs, her head face down.

    the above example is from a crime story i've been writing on the side and i think it does a great job of using sound and images to set tone.

    vig

    vig

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    • #3
      Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

      Clearly an exaggerated point designed to reinforce the idea that we writers cannot afford to waste a single word, especially those that will be seen first by those whose opinions matter most. While it's certainly unlikely that you can get a good grasp of the quality of the story when reading so few words it's definitely possible to get an indication of the quality of the writing itself in the first few paragraphs. I mean, if you go to a bookshop and pick up a novel by someone you've never heard of how much do you read before it goes back on the shelf? I'd say I get through maybe a paragraph before I'll know if I'm going to buy it. There's far too many others to choose from to waste any more time on it. (A slightly stretched comparison but I think it's somewhat fitting.)
      Just my 2 cents,
      XL
      twitter.com/leespatterson

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      • #4
        Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

        To me, you have to sell me on the title page.

        So if you don't have the right name or address, i toss your script into the trash.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

          I tell you what pulls me in with a single word.

          Hamboogul's blog pulled me right into this thread. Show don't tell.

          Right there, one word--Ikaika.

          I'd pay money for that. Course I'd have to but that's beside the point.

          A very good example of what works. And yes, I do love helping the children. Children know during a trailer if they want to see a movie. They either say "We gotta see that" or "That sounds stupid." One or the other. Same with readers.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

            "call me ishmael"
            ...it's like a battle between motors and horses, like technology vs. horse.

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            • #7
              Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

              Originally posted by henehsea
              I have never understood this statement...

              "Your story should grab the reader and pull out their guts in the first ten words. It used to be the first ten pages, and then the first ten lines, but we live in fast-paced times. Well-compensated executives do not have the luxury to read twelve, fifteen, or even fifty words before finding out if your story is any good."

              What pulls someone in, within the first couple of words/sentences? I mean...that seems kind of silly...

              Can someone elaborate on this?
              Source, please. Sounds like a bit of a parody of screenwriting rules.


              Which is unfortunate, because I'm 50 pages into writing my own parody screenwriting book.
              It's a celebration, bitches.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                The action has to start and it has to start 5 seconds before the first page. Start in the middle of things and explain as you go. Tell the story they won't want to put down.


                Every book you are loathe to put down or movie you can't stop watching suceeds at this and everyone you can walk away from fails.

                Tell an engaging story from the first word. Be good and don't wait ten pages to start being good.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                  I looked back at all my scripts and the first ten words or so...I think part of it is that I never start at the beginning. I always start during something so that the reader is already in the midst of action and the story and now said reader is interested and paying attention simply because they are piecing everything together to figure out what is going on here. The challenge after that is keeping their attention.

                  I agree that that rule you read is just an exqggerated point that you need to catch your reader quickly if you want it to be a positive read.
                  ~* Kelsey *~

                  http://kelseytalksaboutmovies.blog.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                    It's an attempt, with some hyperbole, to to emphasis how important every word, every line is. You should be telling your story in as compelling and interesting way as you can, right from the first word on the page.


                    It seems rather obvious to all of us because we are all so great, but some writers don't seem to grasp that there is no room in a screenplay for navel gazing or meandering into a story, or that you can properly communicate your story in a compelling and interesting way with flat generic uninspired writing.
                    Fortune favors the bold - Virgil

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                    • #11
                      Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                      Kelsey's approach always works well--someone's in the middle of doing something.

                      I've read hundreds of pro and non-pro scripts, and I've never been grabbed by the first ten words. I've been turned off by the first ten words, many times. Poor grammar, spelling, or diction will do the trick. An image I've seen a million times will also do it.

                      One in about twenty scripts grabs me by the end of the first page. One in ten by page 5, a few more by page 10. If it hasn't grabbed me by page 10, it won't.

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                      • #12
                        Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                        Conflict in progress.

                        I have a script that opens with:

                        Slap!
                        A red hand print on JASON BOLT's face.

                        Then gets us right into the break up of Bolt's relationship... a big arguement that exposes Bolt's emotional problem wich will be explored in the character arc.

                        Grab any book by Richard Stark (Don Westlake) and read the first sentence. One recent book started with a sentence that went something like this: "When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage breaking a man's neck." Hard not to keep reading after that.

                        Poe said you keep or lose your reader with your first words... and that was over 100 years ago. Nothing has changed since then.

                        - Bill
                        Free Script Tips:
                        http://www.scriptsecrets.net

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                          First 10 words, huh. Wouldn't be like saying that your opening image must be so strong that it is more powerful than all of the other screenplays out there? First 10 pages is extremely reasonable. If you haven't grabbed the reader by then, it's going to be very hard to do so. I don't know about 10 paragraphs, I never heard of that one.

                          I have heard that the best way to start a scene is at the end of it. Have them short and sweet. Say for example Lil' Johnny got a new bicycle for his birthday and wanted to go for a bikeride, so his mother lets him. So he's out riding his bike. He stops at a light, looks for traffic, etc., passes his school, waves to some friends...getting kinda boring, huh? Here comes the climax of the scene: Johnny, safe and sound on his bike, thinks it okay to cross the street, so he begins pedalling, but then the HORN of a truck wails through the air, Johnny turns, his eyes bulge, the truck looms over him...you get the picture. Start the scene at the end. Yes, I heard this one many times.

                          But, here is my question. In one of my scripts, the story begins with three friends drinking at a pub, they leave for home, one friend goes to his apartment. While there he is murdered. I take three or so pages to get to that point, and I don't know if I am starting at the end of the scene of in middle. Say if I wanted to start at the very, very end of it, I could just have him being found the next morning, or the police show up, or in some other way...but the reason why I am beginning my scene the original way is because I want to convey a sense of comfort, safety, within this community, and then BLAM the killer comes in and seizes his first victim. All that safety and comfort was thrown out the window.

                          What do you guys think?

                          Austen.

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                          • #14
                            Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                            But some movies/scripts are meant to start in the middle of something, it wouldn't be the same. Take quiet movies, for example, like You've Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle, I still think judging a screenplay by the first few lines is just plain ridicoulous, you don't know what its leading up to! I understand a few pages into it, or maybe a few paragraphs....

                            thanks for the replies.

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                            • #15
                              Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

                              i think it is hard as bejessus to write.

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