What pulls you in the first sentences?



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  • #16
    Sleepless In Seattle

    FADE IN:


    A card: Chicago.

    He's in his thirties. His neck is pinched into a crisp
    dress shirt and tie. His expression is vacant, faraway.
    A breeze blows but he doesn't react to it. In the
    distance the architecture of the Chicago skyline.

    Mommy got sick and it happened
    just like that and there was
    nothing anybody would do.

    And pull back to reveal:


    Next to Sam is his son Jonah, age 9. Sam's hand is on
    his shoulder. As the mourners go past and each takes a
    turn shoveling a clod of dirt into an open grave.


    Okay, it may not be the first word or the first sentence, but in less than a quarter of a page, I'm wondering how we're going to have a love story when this guy has just lost his wife... and has a son to raise by himself. For a rom-com, that's opening with conflict.

    And that's a shocking way to start a rom-com! The death of the protag's wife.

    Your script starts with the first word... and you'd better involve us on the first page or you may not get the reader to the second page.

    - Bill
    Last edited by wcmartell; 06-21-2005, 05:23 PM.
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    • #17
      Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

      I'm bored easily, yet the most elementary story line (well written) can keep me reading. First page has to be VISUAL. I want to see what the writer writes. I'm a believer, I want to be optimistic about the pages, compelled by the story, but that first page better have my interest immediately - in story, vested in character or the writing has snap at me.

      Last few scripts that wowed me drew me into the story because I was finding out info as the characters were - I never felt like I was ahead of the story. It all starts in those first few lines. Every word matters

      And Bill - get the Ephron out of here with that shine


      • #18
        Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

        Look, why not just do this: go and download the first 10 pages of say 10 scripts you can find online. Pick across genre: horror, some action, even a rom com (gasp!), and read 'em. You'll see a pattern begin to emerge.

        I've done this countless times, just as an experiment. If you come to a script that really thrills you, well, download the rest of it, and read it after you've finished the rest of your "10's".

        It would be a good use of your time, and it's a great learning tool (in my opinion).


        • #19
          Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?


          good writing is recognizable immediately. so is bad writing. i don't need more than a few words to know what kind of writer i'm dealing with. if this seems silly to you, so be it



          • #20
            Re: What pulls you in the first sentences?

            It's stone cold fact you have 2 to 3 pages. It sounds incredible, but people who know the craft and read scripts professionally simply don't need a lot to identify polished and intelligent writing.

            Most will give a lot more rope if they were significantly intrigued by the logline or concept just to see how and where the story goes.

            Try to see yourself arriving late for a film and sitting down just as the credits roll, having no idea whatsoever beyond the title what the story is about. Think about how judgmental YOU are in this situation in deciding whether or not you feel intrigued by the film...

            Is it really bad acting and cinematography, or does it open with cliqued scenes, characters, and immediately drone dialogue seemingly pulling you into a story you already know where it's going....usually nowhere. Worse, without any real action or drama to pose important questions, you are thrust into the protagonist's personal life before you are able to care about what their internal dilemma is related to.

            Learn to detest an uninteresting opening sequence in your script as much as you do in the theatre.

            Also, note how many films open with effective voiceover overlaid with effective visuals to draw you dead into the story......effective V.O.

            2 centos
            Last edited by filmcarver; 06-26-2005, 07:58 AM. Reason: addition, spelling