Your script’s first ten pages have to pop. Why? Because that’s all the time you have to catch the attention of the reader. Each page is supposedly worth one minute of on-screen action. How many times have you watched a movie or TV show and after the 1st ten minutes if it didn’t grab your attention – you changed the channel or left the theater? I’ve done it dozens and dozens of times. My time is a precious commodity – if it doesn’t grab my attention from the start – it doesn’t deserve my time.
I know – sounds harsh. But that’s how much patience I have to spend. Industry professionals have less patience than I do. Therefore, you have to grab their attention ASAP.
By the time a reader reaches page ten, he/she should have:
- Met the main character (by page one).
- Heard about/met the antagonist (by page five).
- Introduced to the main character’s sidekick.
- Smile over your inciting incident (by page three).
- Established tone, pace, setting, and what to expect from page eleven to FADE OUT.
But what happens by the end of page ten?
I call it the “Oh Fuck Me” part.
Meaning whatever happens on ten sends the main character off in a direction he or she wasn’t thinking about from pages one to nine.
At Page Ten
- In SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – Clarice has met Dr. Lector and is having her first unnerving experience with him.
- In LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Frank is trying to bond with a family he doesn’t really know while Olive is about to discover her involvement in the beauty pageant.
- In TWILIGHT – Bella sees the Cullen family.
- In DIE HARD – John is at the Nakatomi building & as he’s checking in realizes that his wife uses her maiden name.
In each of those movies, the main character/s are kicked in the butt by a twist. When they woke up that morning they had no clue how their life was about to change.
That’s what you need to do in your script – make sure by page ten your main character is having a “Fuck Me” moment with a twist that is sending his or her life in a direction that wasn’t even on their radar when he or she woke up that morning.