I thought it would be cool to share the first lines of dialogue from all the screenplays that I have written so far. The absolute first lines of any screenplay are almost always set up lines of narrative – not always the most exciting lines to read. What follows are almost always the first line of dialogue. There have been many famous first lines of dialogue in film. Mine are not nearly iconic, but they are original and they lead the reader (audience) onward.
“Andy! I’m not telling you again…!” From ‘My Mother Wants to Meet Anne Murray’: Andy’s mother is about to barge into his bedroom to wake him up for his job singing at an old folks home. What awaits her is a shock.
“Rebecca, slow down. What’s the hurry?” From ‘Final Decree’: Rebecca’s mother urges her to eat more slowly as Rebecca scarfs down her dinner – rushing to go star gazing with her friend Bobby. A short time later Rebecca discovers a new planet.
“Damn it!” From ‘Lost Together’: Waking up from a drunken stupor, Will realizes his car is stuck in the mud on the side of the road. As he leans over the trunk, he sees bloody hand prints on the car. He opens the trunk and sees a dead body.
“Maaaaxxxxx… You killed me Max!” From ‘Why Won’t You Die Miss Tutley?’: In an opening dream sequence, Max is chased and terrorized by his teacher Miss Tutley through a cemetery.
“Shut up you stupid dog!” From ‘Postal’: A mailman is having a bad day on the job. After discovering his wife is having an affair with his best friend, his son is an internet porn star, his step-daughter is his son’s manager, his physiotherapist is running an escort agency and his union is a cult – he has a run in with his wacky customers and a dog.
“Let go you stupid boy!” From ‘Sally Turple’s Revenge’: Racing out of a Hollywood Hills mansion, a teen and an ex-con wrestle for a gun. A woman dressed in an evening gown bashes the ex-con over the head with a People’s Choice Award.
“Terry! Come back here!” From ‘The Seventh Saint’: A woman walking her dog near a pond calls after her dog as he bolts from her to investigate what turns out to be a body in the pond.
“Max! Max, where are you going?! Come back here!” From ‘Stanley’: Similar to the opening of ‘The Seventh Saint’, a dog leads a woman to a fatal discovery.
"Geez Teddy, slow down. I’m wearin' out my dishcloth here. Poor little dishcloth." From 'Bob's Burgers - Manic Mailman Monday': Linda Belcher wipes the counter of Teddy's bits of food as he wolfs down a burger.
"So hot... Marge, bring me a beer!" From 'The Simpsons - I Doodly, Doodly, Doodly, Doodly Do': Homer, in a hammock, yells at Marge to bring him a beer.
It was amusing to see the similarities in all of the first lines of dialogue from all the screenplays I have written. They all have a sense of urgency and it’s very clear that there is some action going on. That’s a good thing. Somebody or something is causing some action to occur – pushing the story forward. There is nothing static about the dialogue. It is begging for something to happen. I like to start my screenplays in the middle of some kind of action or a situation. That way, the reader (and the audience) is right in the middle of it and their attention is grabbed and held. Even dramas, which are very hard to begin with action, can benefit from this type of setting.
When I started screenwriting, dialogue was the hardest part for me to master. Dialogue in my very first draft of my first screenplay was horrible. After writing several dozen drafts of various screenplays in my portfolio, I now feel very comfortable with it and it comes almost as natural as plot, story and characterization – which I was always very good at to begin with.
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