Powerful ways to start a story

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PowerDeo

Guest
Maybe give some backstory first in the beginning. But not much at all and keep it real unclear and mysterious by using dark colors for the BG n short shots from all differant angles. Then directly after that a chase scene would really heat things up.
 

cybersarge

New member
Our do a bit of both? Have chase, blow something up and have it as part of the backstory of your main character. Great way to have an undercover cop get some respect or have a detective go after the bad guy because the bad guy blew up his partner or something?

Over used I know but an excellent way to start a story.
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
How your script coming along?

How your script coming along?

So how's your intro going? Did you get a rough?

My two cents is to start by writing 3 different intros, so that you don't have to feel like you're married to one idea, or feel like it's etched in stone and what follows next "has just got to be." In this fictitious world of yours, the "book" isn't written, you're writing the book, as well as everyone's destinies. So, take control.

Don't let silly drafts control you or your story.

Writing 3 intros might inspire additional drafts and options. Go ahead and write more intros - why not? I think you'll then start to feel yourself finding the answer to your question of what should be the opening scene. Allow yourself to get into the organic process of it all, and let the decision of what should be the opening scene come from you.


P.S. Make it an action scene, whatever it is :) Don't let it start dead in the beginning.
 

temerson

New member
The trick to writing the introduction to your movie is to write it in a way that intrigues people enough to stay sitting for the entire movie. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean an explosion or a chase scene, but anything that is high drama (even if it is a comedy).

The worst openings in movies? The "beginning of the day" where you see your character get out of bed, brush the teeth, put the clothes on, eat breakfast, etc. etc. Now, if you put a twist on it where there is a payoff at the end of the sequence -- like if he wakes up an the woman he is next to is dead, and it turns out he's a serial murderer who sleeps with his victims. I don't know, just throwing that out there.

In any event, the litmus test is "Is this opening worth the $8 I paid to get in?" The first ten minutes of a movie should be worth the money to get in and see it. The rest is the icing on the cake for the audience.

The first ten minutes can be used for your set-up but, once those 10-15 minutes are up, you better be knee-deep in story. Get a DVD player with the counter on it, and watch the beginnings of movies. Watch to see how long it takes between the intro and the beginning of the story. "Wanted" is about 15 minutes, "Good Will Hunting," about 20. The intro sets up the world that your characters live in, who your characters are to start, and that there is conflict. The details come later.

Watch a lot of movies. Time the intros. See what they do. Dramas, action movies, comedies, romances, they all have different kinds of introductions. But they are always high drama, and make the audience immediately act in a visceral way.
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
This is exaclty how the movie " The Devil Wears Prada" starts.

This is exaclty how the movie " The Devil Wears Prada" starts.

"The worst openings in movies? The "beginning of the day" where you see your character get out of bed, brush the teeth, put the clothes on, eat breakfast, etc. etc."


This is exaclty how the movie " The Devil Wears Prada" starts.
 

temerson

New member
I never said that this kind of opening doesn't get made. I'm just saying there are more creative ways to open a movie. Let's face it -- inventiveness and creativity have never been good ideas to make movies. Just look at all the straight-to-DVD sequels and remakes that are coming out.

And why did "The Devil Wears Prada" opening work? I'm going to guess that it had something to do with model-type girls being filmed in their underwear. But, I digress...
 
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ijp_writer

Guest
depends on story, length, and genre

depends on story, length, and genre

a powerful start? i'd say it depends on story, length, and genre. is it possible to have too exciting of a beginning?...and then, make the mistake of not pacing it properly, and boring the audience during the next scenes, middle of story, and ending?...
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Tell The Story

Tell The Story

I think the starting of a story or movie is about where you are going with it. What are you going to do with that scene and the information? Something being buried could be really boring. However, it has a significant role and when it is dug up later it may have dramatic impact and be a part of an exciting climax that creates a gestalt.

So, it has to do with what comes next and the promise of what comes next is told in the moment and what is told in the moment will begin to relate more and more to what came before while it tells of what is coming next.

If the character is starting out in bed with an exclamation when the alarm goes off and then a dash to the bathroom moving fast and rushing her hygienic personal duties it tells something about what is coming next and creates the foundation for the next scene... like rushing through the fast moving New York City streets.

So, to repeat it again in other words, I think the starting is about where you are going with the story. In regards to the pretty girls I think they are attractive but not really the reason the starting scenes work. In fact they really are a part of the story in “The Devil Wears Prada”. The conclusion is something along the lines of there is deeper meaning and a truth in life above the pretty and the glamorous, right?
 
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Screenwritergal

New member
The almighty hook

The almighty hook

Like others have suggested, hook your audience right from the start. Make them need to know what happens next.

My screenwriters' group broke up and I've been lost without them. We were serious writers (leader was Emmy winner, others took courses), shared ideas, crit each other's work...without worrying of getting ripped off, became good friends etc. Some good times and material was had there. However, the "seek and ye shall find" routine landed me here and I feel I've found a new SP writing home. You guys rock with your genuine zeal for the craft and for helping each other. I'm going to like it here. And if you don't mind, I'll tell the others who've yet to find a decent SP writing home. Good job, gang! Thanx! :-D
 

Screenwritergal

New member
Powerful/Starts II

Powerful/Starts II

Not to steal Toby's Thunder but rather than start new thread, I thought to post related question here. Please see if the following works:

My mystery/comedy opens with a short scene (about six lines). Male character sits in the shadows on a plush bed. He is holding a note. INSERT shows it's a threat. BACK TO SCENE - He sighs, crumples note.

Next scene is also short, about 15 lines, this time with dialogue.

Question: Is it okay to start a feature or MOW with two short, present day scenes before going into story? I need to set up dilemma of both key characters before starting in. Not flashbacks so I thought it'd work (I heard FB's are only to be used when absol. necessary). Feedback welcomed.
 

Bfischer

New member
Strong Intro

Strong Intro

Here are two examples of openings that I have recently used.

In a horror script I recently finished the action starts off slowly. The intro describes the main character in his office getting ready to leave for a week long vacation when his boss stops him right before he is about to leave to do his month end review. While this does not scream HORROR to a viewer/reader, it sets up my character for all the non-stop action that is coming up.

In a story that I am working on, a crime drama, I have the big heist happeing in the beginning of the story. I do this because this event needs to happen for the story to happen. After this event I can work on character and story, but I first need this event because without the big heist there is no reason to tell the story.

I guess the best way I use to figure out my intro is to decide where in the lives of the characters I need to introduce them to make the story interesting and relatible. Finding that right spot can be difficult but I usually find it when I have the whole story either written out or outlined.
 

jodymichelle

Senior Member
When is it good to re-invent forms?

When is it good to re-invent forms?

If you started with 2 short present-day scenes, you talked about what would be the benefit of that,... if those are a couple of the "positives"; then what would be a couple of the "negatives"?

It's okay to try breaking scriptwriting rules sometimes. It's okay to try doing unusual things never done before.

This still can't escape my mind -- I remember before Quentin Tarratino's "Pulp Fiction" came out, I read quite a number of screenwriting books and articles that basically said that you can't and shouldn't do certain things with scenes and characters because it just won't work or be accepted. I remember when I first watched "Pulp Fiction" in the movie theatre, I thought to myself, darn those books! And since then, a number of movies have borrowed from the format and style of "Pulp Fiction". (And whenever you see those movies, you don't think, ohh-ahh-cool,... you think "Pulp Fiction".)

When is it good to re-invent forms of writing?

Not to steal Toby's Thunder but rather than start new thread, I thought to post related question here. Please see if the following works:

My mystery/comedy opens with a short scene (about six lines). Male character sits in the shadows on a plush bed. He is holding a note. INSERT shows it's a threat. BACK TO SCENE - He sighs, crumples note.

Next scene is also short, about 15 lines, this time with dialogue.

Question: Is it okay to start a feature or MOW with two short, present day scenes before going into story? I need to set up dilemma of both key characters before starting in. Not flashbacks so I thought it'd work (I heard FB's are only to be used when absol. necessary). Feedback welcomed.
 

T.R. Locke

New member
Whatever You Do, Don't Do What I Did

Whatever You Do, Don't Do What I Did

Hello writers! I'm writing a crime screenplay. The plots, characters, etc. are well planned. Ready to write my screenplay after research and brainstorming, I was clueless on how to start my screenplay. A series of scenes? Montage? A simple establishing shot?

Please gimme some ideas on how to start a screenplay powerfully.
I just joined this forum but I thought this was an interesting thread--whether the original poster is still wondering or not. Of course, he may be headed towards rewrites so I'll just share my thoughts anyway...

Try starting the screenplay at a point where one of two things happens--you have the inciting incident or you have the main character in his original state. In essence, start at the beginning.

Many films you'll see will have two starts. One is meant to generate interest, then the real one comes on later. Think Matrix--the Trinity scene at the beginning piques your interest, and makes you go "wow, cool." It starts the movie in that we learn there is something weird going on and there are people (agents) chasing a phenomenally talented flying lady, but it's not very clear what that is until much later. The real start happens with Neo sleeping at his computer--the hero in his pre-hero world.

Hundreds of films start this way--a kind of slap in the face that lets the audience know to sit tight during the slower parts because really cool stuff is coming or that there is a mystery to be solved. Law and Order does that with the dead body found at the beginning of each show. Similar beginning, different story each time.

Many other films start with the day-to-day, even if it's mundane. Such a beginning can create suspense as the audience waits to see what is going to happen to kick-start the story. During that time we should get to know the character and hopefully either like or hate him.

But what you don't want to do is what I did.

Prior to my getting my first Literary Agent, I decided to write my film by beginning with the dramatic climax of the film--when the lead character is suddenly and viciously attacked by his friend. The scene was very violent and shocking. At the point where the lead is passing out, I used Flashback to relate how he got into that situation. It read very well. The screenplay made it through the semi-finals of the Chesterfields Film Co Writer's Film Project and landed me a manager and attorney representation.

Agents however seemed a bit cold on the script. William Morris and CAA gave it "recommend" coverage, but passed. What was wrong?

When I landed my agent through the help of my manager, I learned what was wrong. It couldn't be sold. What held readers' attention and made people cry when they read it disappointed different production companies for different reasons. Why?

Here's what my agent told me:
"The film starts violently, which works for producers who want to make a violent film. But then there is no other violence in the film until the end. Those who want to make a violent film would be disappointed in the lack of violence and find it too intelligent. However, those who want to make an intelligent drama would never read past the first violent scene."​

That revelation blew my mind. I never thought someone would simply stop reading a script if they thought it wasn't what they wanted. As soon as we made the change (started the movie from the beginning without using flashback), a production company came on board.

What people don't often tell you about films is that it's not always how good the script is, but whether someone will make it--whether it's marketable. That's why so many scripts follow the same formulas today--because it's not about being the coolest or the most creative, it's about being able to sell it. It's something I wish I knew before I moved to Hollywood. It took me years of frustration to learn.

I hope it saves you that frustration.

Good luck,
 
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Kim Welch

Senior Member
What is going on in the social political environment

What is going on in the social political environment

powerful ways to start a story might be effected and or determined by the current social political climate or environment.
 
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