As regular Bang2writers know, I frequently talk on my Twitter feed as @Bang2write about the first ten pages and how cliches so often rear their ugly heads there.
Genuinely, cliches in your opening pages are the fast track to losing a reader’s interest. I can’t stress this enough.
It’s not hard to see why
If a reader is treated to the same *types* of events, characters, moments and dialogue over and over again (and they are), why would they recommend a screenplay??? It really is as simple as that.
Human beings prize novelty and originality. That’s just the way it is. We can fight it or we can find new and intriguing ways of presenting our stories.
But it’s easy for the likes of *me* to say this … I see those cliches in the spec pile, every day. How can writers keep track of those all-important cliches, in one place?
So two writers, Whitniverse & Lupiilu threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to write the most cliched opening of a screenplay, EVER – based on my experience of seeing said cliches in the spec pile.
How could I refuse??
So, here it is as a 3 page PDF.
This spoof script is based on my experiences as a script reader … So if you like it/find it useful, please make sure you share it with your writer friends!
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Roaring – it’s all so horribly true! Takes me right back to my days screening writers for production companies and evokes that feeling of just wanting to put your pen right through your eye from the banality of it all…
Haha, yep – not only have I wanted to stick that pen in my eye multiple times, I’ve written all these cliches in my own screenplays at some time or another! 😉
Nice. Sounds a bit like too much ‘Hero with a thousand faces’ is entering your world.
Hah! True. And Vogler, Snyder, McKee, Field … etc! There is not any such thing as a template or formula for the perfect screenplay. There is only story. 🙂
..and from Roger Ebert’s wonderful book “the Bigger Little Book of Hollywood Cliches..
Obligatory Unrelated Opening Crisis : In any big budget action movie, the spectacular title sequence never has anything to do with the rest of the story
But where’s the “six weeks/months/years earlier” title card?
Le gasp! What an oversight!!!
yes, it should have started with a prologue where the Main Character is being traumatised as a child … before waking up from that nightmare haha
Plus a dead wife or sister, of course!
And yet… a good proportion of what appears on TV still seems to cling to cliche.
Yep, they can do … higher standards are expected of specs, I’d wager. It’s like you wear a suit to a job interview, yet wear jeans to work.
I can remember watching the remake of ‘Assault on Precinct 13’, and when Ethan Hawke’s character wakes up I turned to my friend and said: “If he reaches for a bottle of vodka I’m turning this off”.
He did. I did. Never watched it again.
I was already skeptical because the original is in my Top 10 films ever, but that was one cliche too far for me!
I quite enjoyed that one if I remember correctly, haha!
Awesome! I would have loved:
LEAD CHARACTER (V.O.)
Instead of showing, I’m going to list all my feelings here. Plus, my ex-girlfriend/boyfriend is an ass. But the new girl in my life who is too hot for me will be mine. (The last sentence only works for male leads).
Haha yes I did think about that last one, but wanted it to be unisex 😉
I feel like I just ate a bad burrito.
“File Not Found.” (Dead link to three-page script PDF.)
Haha, im cringing as some of my stuff is the same. Have you got an example of good script openings?
Absolutely. One of the best openers I’ve seen in a good while is SINISTER (2012). Take a look at the first ten minutes. It starts with a shocking image, then relatively ‘little’ happens in terms of actual horror BUT we discover all we need to know about the characters, the scenario they find themselves in and there’s some great foreshadowing too. A brilliant example of ‘slow burn’ narrative techniques, without relying on out-and-out cliches, stale tropes or cheesiness.
Are you Joking Lucy ? SINISTER’s first 10 pages are verbose,has oodles of unoriginal dialogue, and is a tedious lesson in bloody awful exposition.
Evidence, if evidence was needed, that the Hollywood “bubble” and those leaching off it, are going to continue pumping out feeble re-hashes of old movies, while continuing to loose it’s share of potential audiences to video games, and cable television. Both of whom have considerably more creativity and originality than mainstream TV channels and movies.
They all seem determined to aim most of them at half witted teens or demented parents, who just want to put their kids in front of something inane for an hour and a half, so they can sleep.
Well if you say so hombre, must be true!
Hey! You stole the first three pages of my first 250 screenplays! 😉
oops sorry 😉