// February 3rd, 2013 // On Writing
Make the first 10 pages of your script rock!
by Glenn Magas
You can improve your chances of getting past the ‘reader’ and getting your script into another door with a ‘green light’ or into the final rounds of a script writing contest by nailing the first 10 pages of your script. I mean NAILING IT! As in – making the first 10 pages of your script ROCK!
This is a essential writing tip on getting attention from the reader – and eventually – the audience!
Script Readers can read several scripts a day. That’s their job. They may be assigned more scripts than you and I can handle to read in a screenwriting competition! If they come across a poorly formatted, it ain’t gonna go anywhere. Make it a non-compelling script with great formating – ain’t going anywhere. Most… actually ALL script writers know if your script is worthy of the next round just by reading the first 10 pages.
Have a checklist – if your script does not have the following important fundamentals needed in a great script in the very first 10 pages – rewrite it. Here are the three must have things that need to be ‘nailed’ in the first 10 pages of your screenplay in order to make the first 10 pages of your script rock!
- Who is the main character?
- What is the genre?
- What is the story about?
Can you read the first ten pages and convincingly tell what the story is about while leaving a sense of intrigue so the reader/viewer wants to stick around? If not, they are not going to stick around in the movie theater and the reader isn’t going to give it a green light.
In the first 10 pages of James Cameron’s “Avatar” tells us:
- Who the main character is: Jake Scully, a beat up army vet in a wheel chair. He’s tough, has a spinal injury and is miserable! But he’s still a fighter, and he can take on anyone with two good legs while he is confined to a wheelchair. There’s a whole lot more subtext that really makes Jake deep. As a reader, you’ll pick it out and read ‘more’ into Jake just by the first 10.
- What is the genre: Action, SciFi, Futuristic – How does it do this? Look at page 5
INT. CRYO VAULT
JAKE’S POV — A TECH in medical scrubs FLOATS WEIGHTLESSLY
toward us. Wherever we are, we’re not on Earth.
- What is the story about: Science is way ahead of its time. People have been hibernating in a Cryo Vault for 5 years in an “INTERSTELLAR SPACECRAFT”. We are introduced to aliens, winged-creatures and a “human colony.” It is a military operation on a different planet – 5 years of distance travelled.
I mean how on-the-nose is this? It’s cliche but effective. There’s no guess work – we are telling you right on Page 9:
“You are not in Kansas any more…”
Then Page 10:
Out beyond that fence every living thing
that crawls, flies or squats in the mud
wants to kill you and eat your eyes for
So we are 5 years traveled, another planet, aliens and military. Put those three things together, what do you think the story is about?
Avatar is a great example that something big, in a planet far away, is going to happen to a compelling character like Jake – and it’s right on the page. Would you want to read on? Would you want to watch it?
Avatar’s opening weekend gross says people did! $77 million domestic opening weekend gross!
Think – I’m going to make my first 10 pages rock! It is a great way on improving and writing a movie script!
It starts with the reader – if you can get the reader to get to page 20 without them even knowing it, you’ve got a great start to your script! Make the first ten pages ‘rock’ and guarantee your script will get a read and of course, move on to the next round or onto the producer’s desk!
Read the Avatar Script here:
Avatar – undated, unspecified draft script by James Cameron – hosted by: 20th Century Fox – in pdf format
In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na’vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.
“Non Screenwriting books for Screenwriters”
“How to write a movie script – Break all the rules!”