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Tackling Your First Ten Pages: STC Podcast Episode 1

ADVANCE YOUR STORY

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screenwriting podcast episode

Which part of a screenplay is the toughest to crack?

That’s the question that launches our inaugural episode of the Save the Cat! PodCATS podcast. (That’s a mouthful; let’s just call it the STC podcast from here on out.)

The STC podcast isn’t new, exactly. There was a previous run. Those episodes are still up on the Save the Cat blog archives. But it had been on indefinite hiatus, and the fine folks at STC recently decided to reboot the franchise, so to speak. And they asked me to co-host along with Jose Silerio! So here we are, with our pilot episode.

We kicked off the new series talking about which beat or section of a screenplay seems to throw the most challenges at writers. We don’t have any hard-and-fast numbers on this, but both Jose and I have worked with a lot of writers over the years so we’re drawing from our own experiences.

And, let’s be honest, every part of the story comes with challenges. (If it were easy, everyone would do it, right?) But a couple of them stand out as perhaps more formidable than others.

Why is the midpoint so hard to figure out?

Midpoints can be tough, I think partly because writers often try to beat out their stories chronologically. When you’re in the planning stages, figuring out what needs to happen at each major beat of your screenplay, it can make more sense to work out of order. Particularly with the midpoint. It helps to know the beginning and the end before trying to plant another tentpole between them.

Or is the set up the toughest section to tackle?

The first ten pages might be more important than you think, and we go into the myriad reasons why. These include needing to grab the reader’s attention, as well as providing necessary story context, and beginning to build the bond between reader and main character so there’s an emotional connection to the story, too.

We also touch on the issue of clarity. It’s the biggest clue to whether you’re reading a professional script, or someone who’s still trying to get a grasp on the craft of screenwriting.

But first, just write your screenplay

A final thing to keep in mind: the first act (and every part of your screenplay, really) has a lot to accomplish. But thinking about ALL THE THINGS and trying to hit all of those targets at once is only going to make the writing process harder and less fun.

A better, more sustainable process? Write a draft. Let it be messy and imperfect. Make it a little better with each pass. Use the articles, checklists, guides, books, and all that information about screenwriting to help you evaluate what you have on the page, and improve it. But while you’re writing, just write.

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ADVANCE YOUR STORY

Starting a screenplay? Pitching a project? Write a logline that launches your screenplay with this free 15+ page guide - including 8 logline templates. Enter your email address below and get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe