Film Courage: Can you give an example of what needs to happen in the first three pages of a screenplay?
Cody Smart, Writer/Script Doctor/Teacher: I love that because I teach a class on Getting Your Script Contest Ready. In this class we focus on the first three pages and how important they are. It used to be that you needed something amazing to happen in the first 15 pages of your script but an audience’s attention today with social media and everything online is much briefer. You need to grab their attention right away, hopefully on page one, not even page three. That page one needs to be amazing and I always say that that page needs to show either your protagonist or your antagonist in action. By that obviously I don’t mean a giant explosion. You could be writing a dramatic piece that doesn’t have that. It’s more about showing who they are by what they’re doing, not just describing it.
I don’t like slow openings where they’re just waking up, going through their morning routine and on page three then they leave the house and something happens. Give me something right away. Show me who they are but what they’re doing, don’t just describe it. You can get away with giving us a description when you first introduce your character and you’re writing their name, their age and a little something about them but if you’re also showing us who they are maybe they’re in the midst of an interesting conversation debating something exciting, you’re showing us…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
Cody Smart is an independent writer and script doctor from Chile. She holds degrees in English Literature & Linguistics, Screenwriting, Development and Producing. She worked as a script analyst for Sony, she’s a judge for multiple script and film competitions, she’s written some award-winning shorts, she’s head of the coverage department at a script hosting site and she does a bi-monthly vlog with tips for Screenwriters for Story Data. She takes pride in helping writers take their work to the next level.
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