The First Act: Starting Strong

This quick article from is a useful tool for planning out your first act. These basic guidelines are hardly hard and fast rules, but they are the tried and true standards for getting your story rolling:

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. He did this in the dark, which makes it even more impressive. As a scriptwriter you need to make an equally impressive start to your writing project if you want to create a masterpiece.

In Act I you begin with a main character whose life is about to be turned upside down, and who’s going to be pushed harder than ever before. Pushed so hard that his outlook on life will change forever.

The Ten Most Important Pages of Your Script

The first ten pages you write in your script are without doubt the most important. You need to grab the reader there and then or else they will put your script down and move onto the next script in the pile.

Elements of the First Ten Pages

In the first ten pages you will want to setup the following:

The Main Character

Exactly who is your main character? What are his strengths? What are his weaknesses? Does he live a jet setting lifestyle or does he life revolve around his desk job? Whatever sense of normality your main character has is about to be torn apart.

Location and Mood

Where does your character reside and how are the conditions? Does he live on the peaceful beaches of Hawaii or the cold, dingy streets of Philadelphia? Imagine if Rocky had been set in Hawaii, the movie just wouldn’t have worked on the same level.


By the end of the first ten pages it should be clear if your movie is an action flick, a romantic comedy, horror or other.

The Premise

The premise is the basic story. For example you could describe Rocky as the ultimate underdog getting his one shot at glory against the boxing world heavyweight champion.

After the first 10 pages there are two more important plot points in Act I:

The Inciting Incident

So far the first ten pages have told the viewer of the main character’s life. Well now is the time his world is going to be thrown into chaos. A major problem occurs which the main character will have to resolve for their life to return back to normal. Your main character should have the motivation and will to achieve this goal by doing anything imaginable.

Plot Point I

Nearing the end of Act I, around page 25, another huge event happens – Plot Point I. Thus far the story has been driving along and now is the time a tyre blows and sends the car careering off in another direction. The event will test your main character and challenge them to answer “how far will you go to achieve your goal?

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