Sometimes the thought of writing something terrible prevents me from writing anything at all. But the feeling doesn’t last, A) because I’ve trained myself to break through that barrier, and B) because I don’t get paid if I don’t write! The latter is very motivating, but not something that most screenwriters can rely on regularly. No, your inspiration must come from yourself. So, what do you do when you can’t seem to get past your screenplay’s title page? New York Times Bestseller Jonathan Maberry has some advice for how to start a screenplay and write the perfect first page, and it begins with letting go of perfection.
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So, let yourself off the hook! According to Maberry, who also won a Bram Stoker Award (okay, I’m listening!), setting the standard of “perfect” in your writing is self-defeating, because no work is ever perfect. Even HE has looked back on his first New York Times Bestseller and wanted to change things.
What to include on page one of your screenplay:
A compelling location
A first moment to hook the audience (see below)
Words with purpose that set the tone for how the story will unfold
An introduction to your protagonist
Set the pace of the script
Now that you know how to start a screenplay, revise the first page keeping in mind these ten ways to really hook your reader, according to writer Ann Garvin for Writer’s Digest and adapted for screenwriters.
10 ways to hook your reader:
Begin at a critical moment
Add an unusual situation
Include an alluring character
Include the antagonist
Create a change in emotion
Add irony or surprise
Make the reader curious
Apply the dread factor
Keep the dialogue or action compelling
Ready to move past page 1? Don’t miss out on these ten tips to write the first ten pages of your screenplay. It’s a must-read, because you need to make the first ten pages count.
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