Six Things Agents Want on Page One

By February 19, 2019 No Comments

This is good news and this is bad news, but 90% of agents know whether they’re going to sign you or not by the end of page one. And 99% know by the end of page 10. So you’ve got to really blow them away right away and here are 6 things to help you do that.

1. One Element They’ve Never Seen Before

Seems easier said than done? Not really. This can be anything: a vivid character description, a unique joke, a witty line of dialogue, a crazy setting, a weird structural thing. Want to know something that doesn’t work? Morning routine montages, unrelated horror movie cheap scares, tons of action, boring voiceovers, and other clichéd openings lead the agent to think the whole script will be clichéd. Spend time thinking of one unique thing – you can do it and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Challenge yourself creatively.

2. White Space

A dense first page means a dense script means a lot of work and getting home to the family late. Keep the first page quick and you’ll have the agent on your side.

3. A Clear Genre

Sure, it’s fun and tempting to write in multiple different genres, but you know who goes and sees genre-blended films? Only other writers, and there’s not enough of us to keep theaters afloat. Show the agent you know how to write in a genre right off the top, because that shows that you’re a professional.

4. Format it Right. Spell it Right.

Want to make a typo? Fine, just don’t do it on page 1. Make sure your formatting is conventional. Enough said.

5. Do Your Research

Nothing kills a script faster than something that feels un-researched. Writing an action movie? Know your guns. Writing a corporate thriller? Research the industry. Writing a cop movie? Look up the radio codes. If the research isn’t put into the story, it will immediately show in a big way.

6. Your Page Count

Technically this is on the last page not the first, but whoever is reading your script is going to scroll to the bottom. Try to keep it between 95-110. Never go over 120 unless your name is Quentin Tarantino or Aaron Sorkin.

If you hit all six of these things, we can’t promise you’ll get signed, but at least you’ll make it past the first page. A good first impression is the most important thing you can do with your script. And remember: write always.

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