November 23, 2014 by bck1402
I made another little graphic ad for my book… This one attached to reminders that Christmas is a month away, and my book would make nice Christmas presents. That was on Facebook, and now here. <heh>.
Illustration was hand-drawn on paper, and everything else was done with various apps on the iPad… which gave Syndi-Jean the red underline in her name and never went away even after exporting it to the album.
Also, have got reviews for Mockingjay I and John Wick over on the Reviews Link page.
~And now, back to the article at hand… more as a response to this.
Trying to get the right opening can be quite a challenge at times.
Is it a constant struggle for us?
We all want that awesome opening, set up something that will grab your audience and ask them to pay attention. Most publishers will ask for the first 30-50 pages of our manuscript, to be viewed as a sample and they’ll decide from that if they want to read more. That opening can be oh-so-important.
Aside from currently reading through and editing the two books left for The Syndi-Jean Journal, I’ve also been writing something else. Heading off in a wholly different direction, I figured I wanted to try writing a script for a B-Grade Monster Movie. The one where there’s some strange creature attacking a small population and several people have to step up and try to take the creature down. Y’know, the stuff Sharknados are made of… not that I’m trying to tap into that shark zeitgeist. (Ghost Shark, Snow Sharks, Sand Sharks, Two-Headed Shark Attack, etc)
Ironically, my inspiration is from the grand-daddy of the shark movies, Jaws!
We’ll get back to that in a while.
The opening scene of a movie is meant to ease the viewer into the world of the story. Many will kick off by introducing you to the character (the original Halloween comes to mind). Some may set the scene with the situation at hand while others may throw you into the movie and the fill in the blanks with flashbacks. No much different than in books, right? First chapters and all.
As a recent example, Interstellar opens with a test plane crash, a dream/memory of the lead character, along with some old folks talking about the state of the world long past. We then see Cooper’s family life, the man he is and the world he inhabits before anything else.
Alfonso Cuaron had that magnificent opening in Gravity that set up the characters very quickly before throwing them into a mad situation and just rolled on ahead from there. Cuaron’s foundation building for Children of Men is equally impressive, introducing us to the main character and the world at hand (politics and all) in one fell swoop of a tracking shot. See here for a better write-up.
Speaking of single-shot openings, I still love the opening for Strange Days (dir: Kathryn Bigelow) which throws us into the world via the technological MacGuffin that becomes central to the plot.
For a monster movie, I don’t think I need to be that deep. Jaws! opens with kids on a beach, two go off swimming; one is attacked by something underwater while the other passes out on the beach.
As I said, inspiration. I was thinking visual set-up. I knew the location where the story would mostly take place, and I wanted to have a little of the lay of the land. AND I had to have a creature attack. So here’s my opening scene for the script I’m working on (hope to finish by end of year). Mind that it’s still a first draft.
The blue sky. The blue sea. An almost invisible horizon.
We pull back and the horizon seemingly pulls away.
A speedboat pulling a skier zooms by.
In the opposite direction is another speedboat pulling a para-sailer just a little further out.
A couple of jet-skiers cross the scene.
The pull-back doesn’t stop as we see a flotation barrier enter the screen, followed by swimmers and bathers frolicking in the water.
The beach comes into view as more people are running towards and into the water, a jogger goes by.
As the camera continues to pull back the beach scene becomes wit and there are sunbathers, and kids building sand-castles, couples on a blanket, a group of three tossing a frisbee, a bunch of kids kicking a ball around.
A little further in and it becomes clearer that this is a tropical beach with a tiki bar off to one side under a tree.
There are tented shades where some families rest.
A couple on horses go trotting by.
The camera shifts a little to the side, still pulling back and we’re getting the lay of the land.
Just away from the beach is some grassy areas where there is a playground for kids with slides, rockers and a jungle gym.
Beyond that seem to be a more adult version, with a rock climbing wall, archery area, and what may look like a team-building activity zone.
We can even see the building – a resort-like hotel – with its open bar/restaurant. People are dining or relaxing there with some courteous staff milling about.
The camera isn’t so much pulling back but moving now as foliage comes in around the sides and a path gives way to a road-like paved track.
We pass a couple of cyclists, some people walking at various intervals.
For a long while, we’re still tracking along the path. We can see that the path branches off several times, some with arrows indicating other sightseeing opportunities. We don’t see anyone for a spell before we pass another cyclist, and a jogger.
The camera slows down, keeping track with this young woman jogging along the path. The cyclist overtakes her, ringing the bell as a signal and giving her a wave. She waves back, with a smile. Earbuds in her ears indicate she wouldn’t have heard him, we may even hear some rocking fast beat music that helps her keep her pace up.
It’s also obvious she’s been jogging for a while now. She slows down and then comes to a stop, checking her pulse first, using her digital device as a timer or calibrator.
She puts away her device and moves over to the side of the path, puts her foot up on a rock to check her laces.
She is startled when there is rustling before her.
She is taken aback at first, and the rustling continues… Enough to make her just a little curious to peer a little.
The rustling gets a little louder and she steps back.
She gets yanked, feet first, into the brush. She screams and screams, struggling to get free.
She gets yanked away hard and fast. The screaming stops.
A light rustle, then stillness.
It’s a while more before another jogger passes by, very obviously oblivious to anything that’s happened, listening to his music that’s obviously loud.
From there, I get to our main characters. No point delaying their entrances anymore, right? That scene alone might take a couple of minutes, probably no more than five.
There hasn’t been any work for a while, but I’m keeping busy with this.
What kind of opening do you go for in your writing? Do you set up the world? Your Characters? The situation first, perhaps? What comes to mind as a cool opening, either in book or movie… or any other format?