Sometimes readers will toss your screenplay on page one. Why?
Writing is one of the hardest endeavors out there. You don't always get it right on the first try, but thanks to rewriting and reworking, you can get the job done. Nothing feels better than handing in a completed draft and relaxing...
...until you get that pass.
Those passes can come at you quick.
It seems now more than ever, people are judging scripts by how well they do on the first page.
So, even if you're working hard to grab the audience in the opening scene, many times that's not good enough. There are so many scripts floating around the internet that now it really comes down to page one to prove you're a competent writer deserving of the job.
Check out this video from Film Courage below to learn how to do that. Then, let's talk after the jump.
What are Some Page One Problems in Writer's Screenplays?
One that grabs the reader right away and transports them into your imagination.
But lots of first pages take people out of the read right away. So, let's go over a few strategies to show how you can get past page one and hook them into the story.
One of the major problems people have is that they start with a scene that's cool but it means nothing to the story. It has insane visuals but nothing builds off of it. We don't get any sense of the world or characters.
So if you want to start with a set-piece, see what that can say about the story. Can you plant things that pay off later?
And if not...what can you say about the characters?
Your fist page needs to introduce your character and give us a reason to care about them. If we aren't using those pages to build the story about them, then it's a waste. I want to know what skills to expect from them and I want a hint at what their arc could be.
So, when you get to that opening page, think about the character we are set to meet.
Who are they? What motivates them?
What will make us empathize or care about them from the start? And how does the world they inhabit view them?
And that brings us to the world they live in...
Questioning the World?
Worldbuilding is one of the hardest things to do. And when your reader gets to the first page, they need to clearly understand what's happening in the world. Is this our world or an elaborate fantasy? How can you use those pages to keep them interested and understanding of how things happen?
Can people fly? Are there elves?
What's the time period?
When you conquer these ideas and set these expectations, you'll have the reader excited about what can come next.
What's next? Get our free screenwriting eBook!
So much of what we're talking about on No Film School when it comes to screenwriting is summarized in our new eBook. It also helps guide you through a 10-week writing plan that will get your script actually finished.