ARE YOUR FIRST 10 PAGES GREAT?
I am having a blast writing my new feature screenplay and I couldn’t be happier with the first 10 pages. I sincerely believe it’s the best opening I’ve ever written. However, that doesn’t mean the pages themselves are great. I think it’s safe to assume that every screenwriter has a soft spot for their work but writers tend to scrutinize every single word regardless. You have to. It’s the only way to make it the best screenplay you’ve ever written. You have to go above and beyond.
I took a step back from my ‘wonderful’ pages and asked myself if readers would love them as much as I do. When I start thinking like that it brought a lot of flaws to the surface.
One character in particular has a very peculiar gift that is extremely difficult to explain on paper. It’s easy to visualize it but describing it efficiently wasn’t easy. As I read my pages I discovered that I may not have conveyed what I wanted to accurately. I had to find a simpler yet stronger way to show off what he is capable of.
The next thing I realized was a major action sequence felt rushed. Overall, the scene is exciting with a couple great twists but the language needed an upgrade and the pacing fell flat towards the end. I also wanted to build in a moment where my main character’s major flaw is exposed. Setting up a quiet moment in the middle of an action scene is tricky. The idea was there but I didn’t feel like I executed it well enough.
Coming up with those changes made me smile. I was already happy with my first 10 pages but going over things carefully brought about some much needed tweaks that made them even better.
Sometimes, I’m afraid that I’m being overly critical but it’s 100% worth it if the changes feel right. The first 10 pages of a screenplay are absolutely crucial. My new screenplay takes place in a vastly different world and getting people into that head space while introducing new characters has to be handled delicately.
Who knows if I’ve succeeded…
The point of all this? You may be happy with your first 10 pages right away but that feeling could blind you from some necessary enhancements. Take a step back and read your opening again. Is it entertaining? Does it kick start your movie? Is is really everything you wanted it to be? If the answer is honestly yes then pat yourself on the back but more than likely it’s no. Especially on your first draft. I may have fallen in love with my first 10 pages but overall I barely scratched the surface of what this movie could become. All I have to do is dedicate myself and work my ass off until it’s perfect.
I’m happy with the pages and for now, I have to go with my gut and move on to the rest of my first act. There is a lot more work to be done. The next scene I have to write honestly intimidates me because it sets the entire story in motion… The pressure is on.