GETTING THE READER’S ATTENTION: Facebook discussion


What do you think is the single most important thing to get a reader’s attention in the first ten pages of a script?

    • Personally a strong opening or a rapid twist of events in the first 10 minutes.


    • I think the first ten pages should be a mini script within the script….really play out something great to dare the reader to put it down.

    • I think there’s got to be some kind of strong hook to entice the reader to keep going. But that hook depends on the type of story. Tim and Wilton have defined it well. The best I can do is describe it as a ‘moment’ when the reader might say to himself, ‘what the hell is that about?’ And that moment keeps the reader interested in finding out more.

    • Howard Casner Great characters. Readers will give the writer a great deal of leeway come plot and structure if the characters are so interesting or believable or realistic, that they want to find out what happens to them. People often won’t believe me, but characters are far more important than structure and plot to keep a reader reading in the first ten pages. I assert that no matter how strong the hook or rapid twist of events there are in the opening, if the characters aren’t there, it won’t matter. But if the characters are there, the reader will go along with openings that are hookless and don’t have a rapid twist of events. Sorry to disagree so strongly. That’s just been my experience.

    • I agree with Howard. Some scripts and movies have started out slow with more character focus only to ramp up with plot beyond that. I’ve used both approaches but still focus on a character that I hope will want people reading onward to see what happens to him/her.


    • Howard’s right about engaging characters, but they need a strong plot line as well. So in the first seven to ten pages, there needs to be what I call a first scene reversal.

      The script opens with the protagonist after a goal. But somewhere in those first pages there is an incident, occurance, or event that nudges or sometimes pushes the protagonist off the path of pursuing the original goal and onto a new path going after a new goal.

      IE: Mrs. Mulray walks in and asks Jake to find out who the blond haired woman is that her husband has been with. Clarise Starling is given an “interesting errand” to interview Hannibal Lecture. In my favorite film for this centruy Winter’s Bone, Ree learns that if she doesn’t locate her father and get him to trial, she will lose her house and she and her family will have no place to live.

      It doesn’t have to be a Indiana Jones or James Bond opening, but it must have enough of a reversal that we as readers and audience want to stay around to find out how what will happen next and how the new goal might be achieved.

    • Although I agree with what most of you have been saying about strong characters, I have to say that stating a solid theme, whether it be through characters or visually, will suck in a reader.
      Have a couple of cool characters chatting with some quick sharp dialogue and you’ll definitely get some attention. Take the same characters, or even less interesting ones, and throw in a solid theme and I bet every time a reader will prefer the latter.
      Take the opening to the movie Schindler’s List for instance.

    • ‎1) Killer opening scene; 2) A protag that A-listers will fight over; 3) proper formatting, structure, spelling and grammar or it goes no further.


    • ‎”I wonder what’s going to happen next”


    • A strong, innately dramatic character demonstrating a forceful personality factor in an intense situation. That creates a character to care about and makes the audience wonder what he/she is going to do next in this time and place. I have yet to see a really good movie or read a solid script that those two factors didn’t immediately bring to mind the story theme, Marty. Doesn’t matter if it’s comedy, drama or a juvenile cartoon. Gotta deliver the three-way punch up front.


    • “If you don’t show me the next page, I’m going to die!”

    • Sorry, I had to bail right in the middle of my last comment. My point was to raise a topic, a point, an argument- state an interesting theme that someone is dying to sink their teeth into, and you’ll have a reader “interested”. It’s not just a character that talks cool, but what the character is saying or doing. Or what you’re showing the audience.

      A shark attack, and a cop responding to the call. He’s not interesting yet, it’s too early in the story for us to know much about Brody (Jaws).

      Or a man getting dressed up and pinning a Nazi pin on his suit and going out to impress some Nazi brass, then Jews being rounded up and hearded off. We don’t know that Schindler is a great character yet that is going to have an epic character curve. But the theme comes right at us and compells us to continue readin/ watching.

      A hobbit, who wants nothing to do with “adventure”, but is drawn into one by some dwarves and a wizard. Sure, it’s interesting to hear about a hobbit, probably because we’ve never seen one in real life, but it’s when the hobbit is drawn in to doing something that up until then would be unspeakable that it really becomes interesting (The Hobbit).

      I have to say theme. It has to be there, with or without characters, to get a readers attention. Of course we all have different opinions, and that’s what helps us to improve on our craft.

    • For me it’s definitely that opening or dialogue that draws you in from the very beginning. I’m reading Blade by David S. Goyer — and it hooks you page 1.


    • I think that ties everything that everyone has mentioned into ‘one thing’… and I think that’s what it takes.

      now, I just wish I was capable of doing just that!

    • A combination of Tim and Howard’s point… Strong opening scenes is what builds your protag and characters. Through strong visuals you draw in the reader and help them to better understand and connect with your character. I also agree with Marty, some of the best movies I’ve seen reveal theme from the very beginning. I especially like how the Artist portrayed strong scenes, characters and theme without any dialog. Unless the dialog is superb, too much of it in the first ten minutes and no action, risks boring the audience. That’s just my opinion, we’re all different.


    • Good writing, no typos.

    • Memorable writing, strong characters and an interesting, original storyline that keeps you turning the page. Sex helps too.

    • Howard Casner–you need to see the movie Sullivan’s Travels.


    • Howard and all others: Everyone needs to see Sullivan’s Travels.

    • Howard Casner As the dialog goes: “But with a little bit of sex.” “Yes, with a little bit of sex. But I don’t want to overemphasize it”.

    • A gripping sequence that hurls you into disquiet.

    • A good story
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