In our last blog post, we addressed the “myth” or rather FACT about the first 10 pages of your screenplay. No, they are not ALL that matter, but they are certainly the most important ones when it comes to getting your entire script read. For more information on this, check out our previous blog: “Debunking the Myth: Are the First 10 Pages All That Matter?”

Now that we have a good understanding of their importance, let’s take a look at a few ways we can ensure these first few pages of your script shine!

  1. Set up the world your story takes place in.
    • Give your readers some context. Set the scene. Where are we? Does the story take place in present day? What do we see? Are there any events that have recently taken place that we should know about?
  2. Introduce your main character(s).
    • Provide your readers with a solid first impression of the character(s) that we will follow through the story. Who are they? What do they look like? What are their wants, needs, and desires? How do they behave? Make sure not to overdo on the descriptions. Keep it concise.
  3. Establish the genre
    • Start to establish the genre of your script. Be clear, and be consistent. Don’t make them guess. Let your readers start to envision where the story could go based on the genre.
  4. Create a conflict.
    • Draw your readers in by creating conflict early on! This is often referred to as the “inciting incident.” Start to push your story forward by creating a problem that will need to be solved over the next ~100 pages.
  5. Share your voice.
    • This is your time to shine. You are finally in the reader’s spotlight. Do your best to promote your unique voice as a writer in the first few pages. Readers appreciate and take notice of fresh, exceptional voices, so even if they are not excited by the story right away, they may continue reading simply because of your voice.
  6. Connect your story to your logline. 
    • It is likely that a reader that has made it to Page 1 of your screenplay has already read your logline. Make sure that you somehow connect what’s happening in the first 10 pages to the story you previewed with your logline. Give them what they signed up to read.
  7. Use proper formatting, spelling, and grammar. 
    • Format, format, format! There is no worse way to make a first impression than by failing to follow the industry standards for traditional screenplay formatting. And, of course, be sure to check for any spelling and grammar mistakes. These are big red flags that could cause of reader to turn away immediately.
  8. Avoid overwriting. 
    • Find the balance. Do not pack your first 10 pages with dense descriptions or too much dialogue. Provide your reader with just enough of everything – action, description, and dialogue. Make it an easy and enjoyable read. White space on the page is your friend!
  9. Produce a distinguishing factor. 
    • As discussed in our previous post, there are hundreds of thousands of completed scripts floating around reader circles. What makes your story different? Create a distinguishing factor about your story, your characters, your world that sets your story apart from all of the other scripts the reader has read that day.
  10. Make them CARE!
    • Readers are looking to be hooked! For many of them, it is their job to find the next great script. Make them care about your story. Make them empathize with your characters. Make them understand the world. And most importantly, make them continue reading by crafting a set of 10, flawless pages!

Cheers to you, writers! May your first 10 pages be some of the best you have ever written.

-Alli Unger, Director of Community Outreach

Questions, comments, or concerns? Please share them below in the comments!