Being a screenwriter is not easy, especially if you’re just starting out. But the question you really have to ask yourself is: how do you become a good screenwriter?

There are countless books and articles on this subject, but I want to point out one thing that no one ever seems to mention. It’s the most important part of your craft and without it, your story will fail.
 

How To Start A Script The Right Way

What Is Starting a script?

The first step to creating your script is to decide on the format you want to write it in, whether it be scene headings and dialogue or just dialogue lines.

If you are writing a screenplay for submission for a competition or an agent then it is best to stick with the format that they request.

After deciding on the formatting of your script, you will need to decide how many characters there are in your story and how many pages each character will get.

For example, if your main character only speaks once on page 51 then they may not need their own page headings or title page, but someone who has lots of dialogue throughout may need their own page layout.

 

 

Starting a film script is like setting the stage for an unforgettable journey.

It’s where we breathe the first spark of life into our characters and plot.

We’ll guide you through crafting that compelling opening scene, ensuring your screenplay grabs attention from the get-go.

Stick with us, and we’ll show you how to turn that blank page into the beginning of a cinematic masterpiece.

The Importance Of A Strong Opening Scene

Crafting a strong opening scene serves as the hook that lures viewers into the world we’ve created.

It’s our first and often best chance to capture an audience’s attention and set the tone for the entire script.

   

In film, the opening acts like a doorway, inviting the audience to step through into the story we’re telling—it needs to be irresistible.

Consider classic openings like the underwater menace in Jaws or the epic space battle in Star Wars.

These films master the art of the start, engaging audiences from the get-go and planting questions that demand answers.

They show rather than tell, establishing conflict and characters through action and visuals.

A compelling opening sets up the stakes and introduces the protagonist in a way that feels both fresh and inevitable.

Let’s break down the essentials of an impactful start:

  • High stakes – ensure viewers understand what’s at risk,
  • Emotional connection – give us someone or something to care about,
  • Show, don’t tell – use visuals to convey your narrative.

Entering the scriptwriting process, our focus should always be on creating a start that’s as engaging as it is necessary.

Each frame should drive the story forward, beginning with the very first one.

It’s about making promises to our viewers—promises that the forthcoming journey is worth their time and emotional investment.

Remember, our screenplay competes with countless others for attention.

Ensuring the opening scene ignites curiosity is part of the magic formula for captivating viewers.

By honing this crucial part of the script, we set ourselves up for success, keeping audiences glued to their seats and eager to see how our story unfolds.

Finding Your Story And Theme

Discovering the core of your screenplay often begins with identifying a compelling story and the underlying themes.

It’s about finding that unique idea that resonates and exploring it through the conflict and journeys of your characters.

   

Themes are the backbone of your narrative, the glue that holds the story together.

They provide depth and meaning, making your screenplay not just a series of events, but a reflection of life and human nature.

Some classic themes in cinema include the struggle between good and evil as seen in The Godfather, or the resilience of the human spirit like in Shawshank Redemption.

When we start with robust themes, we give our screenplay a strong foundation.

To uncover the themes that will drive your screenplay, use these pointers:

  • Reflect on what moves you – is it love, justice, survival?
  • Consider what message you want to convey – what should the audience take away?

Once your theme is in place, weave it into every element of your script:

  • Character arcs should echo the theme in their personal growth.
  • Set pieces and locations should highlight the theme visually.
  • Dialogues and interactions should subtly reinforce the theme without being on-the-nose.

Understanding your characters is key to bringing your theme to life.

Flesh out characters in ways that allow them to challenge the theme, embody it, and transform through it.

This brings authenticity and complexity to your narrative.

Viewers connect with characters that they see parts of themselves in.

   

Our job is to create multi-dimensional characters that act as conduits to the theme.

Remember that themes can evolve as your story unfolds.

Staying flexible allows for organic growth in the storytelling process.

The importance of theme in filmmaking cannot be underscored enough – it is what will make your film relatable and memorable.

Developing Engaging Characters

Creating characters that resonate with audiences is as crucial as the theme itself.

Great characters come to life when they have compelling desires, face significant obstacles, and undergo profound transformations.

We understand the importance of constructing believable character arcs.

These arcs serve to engage viewers and provide a scaffold for the story to unfold in a compelling way.

To achieve this, we recommend starting with a clear understanding of these key points:

  • Who is your protagonist, and what is their goal?
  • What are their flaws and fears?
  • How will they grow or change by the film’s end?

In crafting these individuals, we draw from our own experiences to lend authenticity to their behaviors and choices.

Characters must feel like real people with backstories that inform their actions within the scope of the film.

Another element we focus on is dialog.

The way characters speak should be distinctive and reflect their personality and background.

Subtle nuances in language can reveal a lot about a character’s history and mindset.

When writing dialog, also consider:

  • How does the character’s speech pattern change in different situations?
  • What do their words reveal about their internal conflicts or priorities?

We also place emphasis on interactions between characters.

These dynamics not only provide insight into individual personalities but also how they affect each other, propelling the story forward.

Characters should challenge and impact each other, and it’s through these interactions that themes can be explored and the narrative can gain depth.

Remember, characters don’t operate in a vacuum.

Their relationships with one another can define or redefine the plot, creating an interwoven structure that keeps viewers engaged.

Noteworthy characters from films like The Godfather or Fargo showcase how intricately developed personas can leave a lasting impression.

They become iconic, stepping beyond the screen and into viewers’ imaginations as if they were real.

By focusing on these aspects of character development, we enhance our storytelling and the viewer’s experience.

Crafting An Attention-grabbing Hook

Every great film starts with a hook that seizes the audience’s attention.

It’s that critical moment where we reel them in and set the tone for the entire script.

A compelling hook not only captivates viewers but also establishes the stakes of your story.

We’re here to help you master the art of the opening scene that makes an unforgettable first impression.

Crafting a hook often involves introducing a key element of the plot or a glimpse into the character’s world that is both intriguing and unique.

Our goal is to create that spark that ignites curiosity and leaves the audience wanting more.

Consider the iconic opening of The Godfather – it’s not just a scene, it’s a statement.

To ensure your hook has maximum impact, focus on these key components –

  • High Stakes: Present a situation where there is a lot to lose or gain.
  • Mystery or Conflict: Introduce a puzzle to solve or an immediate conflict.
  • Unique Setting or Scenario: Offer a glimpse into a world or situation the audience has never seen before.
  • Engaging Tone: Set the mood, whether it’s tense, eerie, or exhilarating.

Remember, the hook is about more than just shock value.

It should be deeply connected to the theme and central conflict of your film.

It’s a promise of the journey the viewers are about to undertake, a journey we must ensure is both compelling and irresistible.

From Jaws to Inception, the films that have left their mark started with hooks that were impossible to ignore.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to designing the perfect opening.

But, by concentrating on the emotions we want to evoke and the questions we want to raise, we can craft a hook that is both reflective of our film’s heart and powerful enough to draw an audience into the world we’ve created.

Structuring Your Script

After crafting an attention-grabbing hook, the next crucial step is developing a solid structure for your screenplay.

We can’t overstate the importance of a well-organized narrative – it guides the audience through the story smoothly and keeps them engaged from start to finish.

A typical screenplay follows the three-act structure, but it’s not the only way to tell a story.

We also explore nonlinear narratives and experimental formats, which can add a unique twist to your film.

But remember, no matter which structure you choose, clarity in the storyline is key.

In the first act, we set the stage by introducing the main characters and the world they inhabit.

This act should establish the protagonist’s normal world before the inciting incident thrusts them into the central conflict of the story.

Let’s not forget, the first act ends with a plot point that propels the story forward.

The second act, often referred to as the development or confrontation phase, raises the stakes.

It’s where we jump deeper into the plot and characters.

We also often use subplots to enrich the main narrative and add complexity to the film.

During the third act, everything that we’ve set up in the first two acts comes to a head.

The protagonist must confront their biggest challenge, and the various story threads begin to converge.

This act should escalate towards the climax, delivering a satisfying resolution to the narrative.

  • Compelling characters – they drive the story and engage viewers,
  • Clear inciting incident – it sets the narrative in motion,
  • Rising action and stakes – they maintain audience interest.

While some scriptwriters may deviate from this traditional blueprint, it’s still useful to understand the fundamentals before experimenting.

Films like Pulp Fiction and Memento are excellent examples of non-traditional structures that captivate audiences through innovative storytelling techniques.

By paying close attention to pacing, we ensure the story unfolds naturally.

Each scene must serve a purpose, whether it’s revealing character details, advancing the plot, or setting up future events.

Editing is also a crucial part of structuring your script.

It’s through careful review and revision that we ensure each line of dialogue and every scene contributes to the overall narrative.

How To Start A Film Script – Wrap Up

We’ve armed you with the essentials to embark on your scriptwriting journey.

Remember, engaging characters and a gripping hook set the stage for your story’s success.

A solid structure, whether it’s the time-tested three-act format or a more unconventional narrative, serves as the backbone of your screenplay.

It’s the pacing, purposeful scenes, and meticulous editing that will elevate your script from good to unforgettable.

Now it’s your turn to bring those blank pages to life with a story only you can tell.

Trust in the process, let your creativity flow, and start crafting your masterpiece today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes A Screenplay Engaging?

Engaging screenplays often have well-developed characters and an attention-grabbing opening hook that draws the audience into the story right from the beginning.

Why Is Structure Important In A Screenplay?

Structure in a screenplay is important because it organizes the narrative, making it easier for the audience to follow the story and for the script to have a satisfying progression and climax.

What Are Some Common Narrative Structures For Screenplays?

Some common narrative structures for screenplays include the traditional three-act structure and nonlinear narratives, each serving to create a different storytelling effect.

Can You Briefly Explain The Three-act Structure?

The three-act structure includes:

  1. Setup (introduction of characters and the inciting incident),
  2. Confrontation (rising action and stakes), and
  3. Resolution (climax and conclusion).

Is It Okay For Scriptwriters To Deviate From The Traditional Structure?

Yes, it’s okay for scriptwriters to deviate from traditional structures, but understanding the fundamentals of narrative structures is beneficial before experimenting with variations.

What Should Scriptwriters Focus On Besides Narrative Structure?

Besides narrative structure, scriptwriters should focus on pacing, ensuring each scene has a purpose, and careful editing to refine the script.