It is as true with people as it is with the first sentence of your work — it quite literally sets the stage for a lasting opinion.
With the introduction to an extract - it is the first time an audience gets to see what the extract is about. It fast-tracks us to where this sample of your work begins and leads into two or three sentences that provide background details about your script.
It is an opportunity for a writer to illustrate where their extract comes within the body of the entire script. Used effectively it can also create the entire atmosphere of the piece - horror, comedy and thriller. It is not about a writer saying what they want to achieve or why they were driven to write the script but about contextualising the extract.
Think of the intro as a prologue to the extract.
- It must engage the listener - think of the first line of your intro as a hook that draws the audience in. It is your big chance to be so clever that your everyone's eyes are locked on the performance and ears are pricked up to your words - waiting to see what will happen next.
- Explain where the extract comes in the script - is it the beginning, middle or end of the script. Don't refer to act one, two or three - give us drama, conflict, comedy. Tell us what has happened before so we understand the lead up to this scene. Be brief.
- Allow the personality of the piece to come across - creating humour, tension, suspense where needed.
- Start with the title, genre is and where it is set - dates, country if relevant.
- Don't use it as a homage as to why you wanted to tell the story. Create the set up, atmosphere and flavour of the piece. Keep the energy of it high.
- Do say if it is based on a true story, inspired by real events or based on a book. This allows the audience to relate to it.
- Once you complete a first draft, go back to re-construct your introduction - be sure to check your it relates to the extract and the treatment — then double check your first sentence to give it some punch.
- Don't tell the audience what to expect but write it in a way that makes them want to sit up and watch what you have written.
- Keep the intro to 100 words. It should be written in third person, prose and present tense.
- Should your extract be an amalgamation of scenes that have been adapted for the showcase then here is where best to say it. You could say something along the lines of: This extract has been adapted for the purposes of this showcase. Bridging narration is being used to link non-consecutive scenes which show... and describe the story strand.
My writing quote of the week: