SCREENPLAY.today How to Write a Screenplay
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Well, it depends on the length of your screenplay.

If your screenplay is 240 pages, your first turning-point is going to be coming a lot later than if your script is 80 pages.

But, for this site, I’m assuming you’re aiming for roughly a 100 page script. Most places will tell you that 120+ is OK, that’s not really the case.

I know an film producer who wants everything in the 90 to 110pg range. Well, actually, 90 isn’t even the lower-limit. They’d love anything that could be shot in 70 minutes (the lower-limit for a feature film). That’s because, all things being equal, it costs more to shoot 101 pages than it costs you to shoot 100. Each additional page adds money to your budget.

So, try to aim for 100 pages in your screenplay, give or take 10. So, 90-110pg total.

That way, you will end up with roughly a 90 minute film. On a side note, Tv networks love that length, as they can add half-an-hour of commercials and fill a 2-hour block with it. If you’ve got a 110 or a 135 minute movie, all of a sudden they need a 3-hour block, which turns viewers off. So, tv-networks much prefer shorter movies, around 100 pages or less.

I know a lot of different producers who will throw indie screenplays straight into the trash if they’re over 130 pages. The longer lengths are pretty much reserved for really famous writers/directors who can get these films made just by their clout. You can’t do that.

The First Act:


The Second Act:


The Third Act:

You are probably going to have trouble in three main areas:

  1. Your first act will be WAY too long
  2. Your second act will be WAY too short
  3. Your third act will suck

Let’s look at these areas, one by one…

You have so much to do in your first act, so much to cram in there, that it’s not uncommon for your first act to end up being 40 pages long (if not a lot longer). First acts are always way too long.

You’ll need to edit it down and edit it down and edit it down. You’ll need to condense everything until you have only the most important information (while still retaining interesting and natural-feeling scenes).

The good new is - while you fight to get your first act down to size, you’ll be stream-lining everything. The dialogue will end up being concise and to the point. The story will be straight-forward. No tangents. No extraneous fluff. You won’t have time or space for anything that isn’t important. You’ll be fighting for every inch - which means that each bit of dialogue will be finely-crafted to get across only what you need to get across.

When you finally get it down to size, first acts tend to be phenomenal!

But, the opposite happens with the second act. As I’ve shown you before, when people have an idea for a film, they usually only have the first turning point and nothing else. That means that the film they’ve had in their heads for months - is really only 20 minutes long. They have absolutely nothing beyond that first 20 minutes - except for the climax.

So, they are faced with 60 blank pages that need filling - with absolutely no idea of what to fill them with.

As a result, second acts tend to be way too short, not to mention just god-awful.

Writing a screenplay is hard work. And, people tend to flag-off during long projects. Almost any screenplay has at least 500 hours of work in it. And, as I mentioned above, almost all the effort is put into the first act.

This means that, by the time most writers reach their screenplay’s third act, they are burned out. Completely burnt out. So, they tend to rush the third act, just to finish it.

No joke, the scripts I usually see probably have 1/10th as much time spent on the third act as the first. Avoid doing that.

How Long Should My Acts Be? Writing Your Acts: Page-Counts

Screenwriting 101:

PROPER SCREENPLAY FORMAT

SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE

SCREENPLAY TEMPLATE

SAMPLE SCREENPLAY PAGES

BEGINNER SCREENWRITERS

FILM SCHOOLS

SCREENWRITING DEGREES

SCREENPLAY STORY STRUCTURE

HOW LONG SHOULD EACH ACT BE?

THREE ACT STRUCTURE

START WRITING NOW

STORY-STRUCTURE TEMPLATE

THE FIRST TURNING POINT

THE SECOND TURNING POINT

PROTAGONIST’S CHARACTER-ARC

GET COVERAGE


FORWARD

We should probably take a moment and discuss page-counts. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Hollywood wants a highly-structured screenplay from you. Your script has virtually no choice but to be in a three-act structure. But, it’s worse than that. They want each act to be roughly a certain size. So, what size should your first act be? Your third? How many pages?

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