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Screenwriting Tips

Expert screenwriting tips by working screenwriters

Size matters: Keep to 95-110 Pages For Spec Screenplays

The golden rule for spec screenplay size is 95 to 110 pages. You can go over but avoid going much over, 115 pages should be a maximum.

Most pro screenwriters write very tightly - they avoid being verbose or including unnecessary info, scenes or dialogue.

Screenwriting is not novel writing. Novel writing tends to be very verbose, very detailed - you can describe scenes and people in exquisitely eloquent detail. If that's your forte, consider novel writing or use it when relevant (within a screenplay) and avoid it were not.

Some pro screenwriters have a somewhat verbose style (not novel verbose though) - Michael Mann (Heat is 157 pages), John Gatins (Flight is 150 pages), Quentin Tarantino et al. They are exceptions to the rule and since they're well established with hundreds of millions of box office revenues behind them, they can pretty much write however they want. Although they tend to be verbose, they know the art of screenwriting and avoid including unnecessary info, scenes and dialogue.

Reservoir Dogs

Your script's longer: what to do?

A great story can be told within 95 to 110 pages.

If your script is longer, ask for an objective opinion on what could be cut - is every scene, every piece of dialogue, every description necessary? Do they drive the story forward, have plenty of emotion/conflict/drama or give important character info or backstory? If not then consider cutting or shortening them.

Too many non-pro writers simply don't understand this - some find it impossible to cut down their 120 page epics.

Unfortunately the reality is that 99% of these epics, would be much better slimmer.

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