What Not to Do in Your First 5 Pages

This article from MovieBytes.com gives some simple, practical advice for how not to give away your inexperience in the first few pages of your writing, the pages that every reader is going to judge you on and possibly not read past. Take a look:

Five pages.  That’s what you get. You spend six months on that spec screenplay and the reader at the agency-manager-prodco-contest is giving five lousy pages before he makes a judgement.

It’s an outrage! Blame it on Attention-Deficit-Disorder, the Twitterverse, the 24/7 news cycle…but guess what?

A good reader can recognize a poorly written script within five pages or less. Sometimes it can be seen on Page 1.

Here are a couple of traps to avoid:


    “The Chow Chow sadly waddles up the plush scarlet-carpeted, serpentine-twisting rug, woefully stopping under the plumb Ming Dynasty vase, dumbly lifting his hind leg…”

    You’re writing a screenplay, not the Great American novel. That means not killing the reader with purple prose. Just because you can write effective adjectives and adverbs doesn’t mean you should. When it comes to pumping up screen direction, ask yourself: Do I need it?

    How do you know if you need it? Ask: How does it advance character or plot?

    It’s Page 1 and you’ve got that Chow doing his business on the purple plush carpet. I know you’re going to be able to tell me how this advances the protagonist’s character, right?

    This is not to say you can never use an adverb or adjective. You just have to pick your spots.  If it’s a scene where a character grabs a coffee at Starbucks, as a reader, I really, really don’t care about the faux fireplace flame warming the caramel brulee latte drinkers. If, however, my protagonist has been estranged from his father for a decade, some extra detail about the scene where they reunite would be welcome.

    See the difference? Be an adjective and adverb hater.

Read more here.

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