Scriptwriting: Avoid the Page 10 Rejection

I came across this posting (http://candidcoverage.blogspot.com/2010/03/avoid-page-10-rejection.html) on James Jordan’s Candid Coverage Blog (http://candidcoverage.blogspot.com/).

This posting explains why moviemakers reject many scripts within the first ten pages. He then provides 20 tips to avoid that. His focus is on selling a script to a Hollywood studio, but I think many of the tips are useful, even if you are going to be making your own movie.

A few years ago, I submitted my script The Anger Trap to a screenplay completion. I was disappointed with the comments I got back because it seemed to me that the reader hadn’t read past the first ten pages. After reading this blog, I can see what I was doing wrong.

I have taken two of the tips to heart so far.

Tip 9 says that you should introduce your protagonist by page three.

I am still working on my outline, so it is too soon to know how long each scene will be, but I did make some estimates. My protagonist shows up in the third scene, so I need to keep the first two scenes to less than a minute each. I was planning to have the first two run longer than that, but I know that I have to keep them short.

His tip doesn’t say anything about the antagonist, but I assume that introducing him early is a good idea. I already have him showing up in the first scene.

Tip 11 says that by page ten the script should have revealed the main issues of the story.

This is where I think The Anger Trap went wrong. I don’t give any indication of where the story is going until page six, and it doesn’t really become obvious until page 20. I had already been thinking of moving a later scene to the beginning of the film for a possible rewrite.

When I went over my outline, I felt that I had the main issues on the table by the end of the seventh scene. I will need to keep the first few scenes very short to have that done in the first ten pages. I may need to move some of the minor events to later in the script.

All of my major characters, except for one, do show up in the first ten pages. I revised an early scene to introduce Lucas’ boss, James Wilson, within the first ten pages. Introducing the last character in the first ten pages would be a problem though. I think I can leave her introduction until later in the script. I saw it done in The Night of the Generals (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062038/).

1 Comment

  1. James, glad you found this article helpful for your rewriting. Thanks also for the plug! When I have some time, I’ll be posting more new entries to my blog, so be sure to subscribe. I will also be posting clips from my interviews with Oscar-winning writers Tom Schulman and Steve Zaillian as well as some interviews with producers and series television writers. Visit my blog: http://candidcoverage.blogspot.com/

    Good luck with your project! God bless!!!

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