Length of Script



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  • Length of Script

    What is the current preferred length for an adventure script? Mine is 126 pages. I was just informed that it should be from 88 to 100. Should I have two versions available?



  • #2
    Why two versions? It's it's perfectly feasible for you to edit down, by all means do so. It'll probably make for a tight read. There's nothing more disheartening for a reader than to flip open to the last page and see that it exceeds even the customary 120-page limit.

    I'd say keep it between 100-118.


    • #3
      if it needs to be 126 pages, then it does. 88 to 100 is pretty short (not necessarily too short, but certainly too narrow a range and on the short end of it). you can probably play with margins and such and get it down to 120 (final draft sets dialogue at three and a half inches wide, for instance, and since i write long i always set my dialogue paragraphs at four inches wide; final draft leaves a one inch margin on the right, mine is a half inch... and no one cares), but if you can't, so what? i've talked to agents and managers, most of whom say between 90 and 135 (135 at the extreme end, mind you, and it better not have fat). but i know an agent who had/has -- the agent either didn't tell me or i forgot -- a client who wrote a four hundred page script... and the agent told him he was crazy... but the guy wouldn't cut it and it was good, and the agent sold it. and it was a made into a miniseries for tv, though that wasn't its original purpose... it was simply rewritten for that purpose.

      i any case, 126 is not 400 -- and the only reason that such a length will get in your way is if it's not a strong script. if there's fat, cut it because it's in your best interest to do so -- and more importantly, it'll make the script better, and that's never bad -- but if there's not (though there almost always is), don't.


      • #4
        I've heard between 100-115 is preferred.

        I would guess that anywhere between 90-120 won't really raise any red flags.

        It would probably be best for you to cut your script down under 120 pages, and you can probably do so without cutting any scenes if you just work on wording action lines more concisely and fine-tune some dialogue.

        In the end, though, 124 pages won't matter if the script is perfect.


        • #5
          A lot of comedies and horrors are seen as perfect within the 90-100 page range.

          I shoot for 100 pages on each of my scripts and if I go up to 120, fine. I would agree that going below 90 is a gamble though.



          • #6
            actually, yes so. i didn't say 90 - 100 was too short, i said the range is too narrow. longer scripts are out there and they sell all the time, and some scripts need the length to tell the story properly (which is why is said range is too narrow). if you're gonna say something is not so, at least know what you're disagreeing with.


            • #7
              I just noticed that the Nicholl Fellowship guideline is that all submitted scripts should come between 90-120 pages.

              That's not to say that 90-120 is necessary. It's just safe.


              • #8
                Length of script

                Thanks you guys,

                I managed to chop off 3 pages. I'll prune with caution right now, as I have a modest budget from a European producer.

                All I need is an American prod co, 6 main players and a director...and financing.

                Dumb me, I thought the writer was suposed to write, What do these other people do?

                Thanks again,

                Old Joe


                • #9
                  Re: Length of script

                  don't submit a 370 page script.

                  trust me on this.

                  unless of course it's really good.


                  • #10
                    Re: Length of script

                    I knew a guy who had both time and money on his hands who decided to write a script--a Western, in fact. One day some years ago he handed me this huge package: his screenplay. It was 475 pages long. That translates into an approximately eight-hour flick. Ain't happenin'.

                    I flipped through it, nodded sagely, and then, eight months later, he called to tell me he'd turned it into a novel. An 1,800-page novel. As someone with experience in publishing novels and dealing with editors, I gently told him that no editor would consider a novel of that length. I suggested he spend three or four months trying to cut it down, preferably to somewhere around the 350-400-page range. Two weeks later he called me:

                    "I did it. I got it down to 900 pages."
                    "Still too long. But I'm curious. How'd you do it?"
                    "Easy. I printed it out single-spaced instead of double-spaced, and used both sides of the paper."

                    True story.


                    • #11
                      Re: Length of script

                      It's not necessarily how many pages you have, it's how many white knuckle, can't-put-it-down pages you have. For the action genre, especially.

                      What worked for me was to get a cork board and put every single scene on index cards. That way I could visibly assess the entire story and see what was needed and what wasn't. What scenes were off the spine? What talking head scenes could be replaced? What scenes could be combined? Sometimes we give too much information when the story requires that we tease just enough to keep them going. You always want them turning the page to see what happens next.

                      I wouldn't fudge the margins - there is usually enough fat that can be cut that will inevitably make the script stronger and tighter. Sometimes you have to cut your favorite scene or a character or subplot you worked hard creating. It hurts, but it's a necessary sacrifice.

                      Terry Rossio write an excellent article on the checklist to keep in mind as you write/rewrite:


                      If it takes 120 some odd pages to do that, then fine. No one here would know unless they read it. But my guess is you could probably get it to be 100-110 and not sacrifice anything that couldn't stand some sacrificing.


                      • #12
                        Re: Length of script

                        As people have said 370 is probably too long, best to keep it under 350 if you can, unless of course it's really, really good.

                        Honestly though, not that I'm a reader but if someone sent me a 400 page script I'd probably start a blog called 'screenplays I love':P


                        • #13
                          Re: Length of script

                          I can't imagine having the chops to write a tight 370-page script. I mean, how the hell do you structure something like that? Yikes.

                          I think conventional wisdom is that anything between 90 and 120 won't raise any eyebrows. However, I'm sure that a tight 140 is better than an anemic (or bloated) 110.


                          • #14
                            Re: Length of script

                            The fact of the matter is...

                            If you are unrepped...


                            You are submitting a SPEC SCRIPT...


                            The genre is NOT comedy...

                            You had better aim for around 115 pages.

                            Anything between 110-120 is okay, but outside of this, you are relly not doing yourself any favours. Check other movies in your genre and their run-times.

                            Whatever your script's current length, I GUARANTEE that you can trim it to 115 pages.

                            Hell, once you make a sale and are repped you can submit 130 page scripts all day long. But right now...a 130 page script yells AMATEUR!!