Monday, December 21, 2009

TODAY'S NUGGET: #scriptchat Follow Up - 1st 10 pgs.

Last night, I got a call to join a Twitter chat on the 1st 10 pages.

(This group, #scriptchat, gathers every Sunday night at 8 PM EST for a discussion. There’s an European version at 3pm EST. Yesterday they encouraged the participants to call their reader friends to join and answer questions. Hence, my call to join. Unfortunately, I couldn’t post due to a glitch. )

As I read the transcript (, I saw that everyone knows the 1st 10 pages should hook the reader, set up the universe, the rules, and the tone.

But I didn’t see any answers HOW to do it.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have an example of what I think development folks generally want (though I can’t speak for anyone but myself.)

Yesterday, I helped a fellow writer who was having difficulty with the 1st 10 pgs. of her rom-com.

Here are the questions we went through that might help you as you write:

1. What is your main character’s biggest flaw?

The writer said her character was a workaholic. “Hmmmm… that’s a little vague. Drill down to more specifics,” I said. “The flaw is the key to the conflict, the structure, the dialogue.” We batted more ideas back & forth. Finally, it surfaced that this character was selfish. Ah-HA! That’s a very personal flaw, and more specific than ‘workaholic,’ which could mean a million things.

2. What do you want people to think when they meet your character for the first time?
A - Do you want to fool them?
B - Do you want to see him/her as he/she really is?
C - Do you want to show that this character wears a mask?

The writer chose B – she wanted to show the real character, not a mask.

3. How can you show the audience the character’s flaw and introduce you to her problem?

The writer wanted to tell the audience this character had very unrealistic and selfish expectations of others. The story begins with her getting dumped. So we brainstormed different ways to get dumped while being selfish.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: The 1st 10 pages are important because they show the reader why they should follow this character for the next 90-120 pgs.

Things to do: Challenge your characters. Show their flaws. Give them hard obstacles.

Things not to do: Too much narrative setting up the universe. Too much useless action.

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