By Danek S. Kaus
A powerful opening is essential for success in screenwriting. If you look back on all the classic movies, as well as your own favorites, you’ll probably realize that every one of them had a great beginning, something that pulled you in right away and kept you watching.
The first article on how to start writing your script covered beginning with an action sequence, a day in the life of your main character and a “real beginning,” such as the protagonist arriving at a new destination, starting a new aspect of their life or a new person coming into his or her life.
Here are some more great ways to open your screenplay:
MONTAGE – a montage is a series of brief scenes, usually without dialogue, that can indicate the passage of time or the state of affairs of something. For example, if the story is about a down and out baseball team, you could show a batter striking out, an outfielder dropping the ball, fans booing, a newspaper headline about the slump, and so on.
NARRATION – You might begin your screenplay with the protagonist or another character doing a voice-over (V.O.) about the situation, how the main character arrived at this point in their life, etc. In the delightful “A Christmas Story,” about a 10-year-old boy named Ralphie who obsesses about getting a BB gun for Christmas, the adult version of the main character is the narrator, speaking in the past tense.
The narrator could also be simply a narrator, not a character in the screenplay. The narrator’s opening should be used sparingly, but it can work very well for some movies.
FORESHADOW – In some movies, the opening scene is used to lay the groundwork for what is about to come. In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first installment in the “Lord of the Rings,” we learn about the creation of the Ring of Power and how it was used to control then subdue the great kings of the time, turning them into specters, forced to do the bidding of the dark lord. When humans recapture the ring but then lose it, the memory of the ring and its evil powers is lost for thousands of years. Until it reappears in the hands of an unlikely hero, a hobbit.
Add these openings to your screenwriting bag of tricks, and you’re well on your way to writing successful screenplays.
Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter with two more films in development, one of them based on a book. Several of his original screenplays have been optioned by movie companies. He can adapt your book into a screenplay [http://yourbookintoamovie.com] and also do a Professional Screenplay Analysis [http://yourbookintoamovie.com/Services.html]
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