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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21 Responses to How To Write The Most Cliched Script Opener EVER

  1. Michelle Duffy says:

    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…

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      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! 😉

  2. Hammers says:

    Nice. Sounds a bit like too much ‘Hero with a thousand faces’ is entering your world.

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      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. :)

  3. Phil Peel says:

    ..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

  4. Gavin Whenman says:

    But where’s the “six weeks/months/years earlier” title card?

  5. 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

  6. And yet… a good proportion of what appears on TV still seems to cling to cliche.

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      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.

  7. 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!

  8. L. Fabry says:

    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).

  9. jguenther5 says:

    I feel like I just ate a bad burrito.

  10. Felicity says:

    “File Not Found.” (Dead link to three-page script PDF.)

  11. Mike says:

    Haha, im cringing as some of my stuff is the same. Have you got an example of good script openings?

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      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.

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