This week's Answer:
Todd, no need to fret all that much
when it comes to the number of pages in a screenplay.
Remember that content is what you want to be
focusing on, and not hobbling yourself with the concern
about what the final page number will be.
As a general rule, comedies are shorter than
is the golden 120 pages (but who’s that golden these
maybe Oscar, himself.
And even he is not close to being 100% so.) The 120 concept makes the act breaks easy to delineate:
Act I, 30 pages; Act II, the next 60, and the third
act picking up the last 30.
But stories need to “tell themselves” and
sometimes don’t fit into the 120 template, needing a
little (or a lot) less or more page terrain.
My advice is to just let your entire
story pour forth, play with it, sculpt it, enjoy
the process of bringing it from your creative depths, that
imaginative, unique right-brain part of you that has no
care about page numbers.
Then bring in the editor-left brain aspect
of your mind, the part that can use your script length to
help you assess it in terms of time passage, for that is
what you must ultimately do:
set your story along some kind of timeline.
The lights go out and there is a limited
time within that dark theater to get your story across.
A story must go through transitions; characters
must transform, we must undergo a change as we
passively sit and watch in the theater.
And change denotes a passage of time.
Looking at page numbers throughout the script can
assist you in marking your story changes, shifts,
accepted school of thought is that something substantial
needs to happen by page 10 that will strongly affect the
course, this is a relative statement, being that, if your
script turns out to be a tight 90 or so, then you might do
well to bring about your “inciting incident” a little
earlier than the 10-page point. Actually, in that case, it might be better to shoot for page
7 or earlier being your starting gate for your story’s
never let the numbers of the pages interfere with the
words on them, but, rather, use page numbers as milestones
or road signs that aid you in locating where you
are in your story. And
page numbers, like road signs, can be very helpful when
visibility is low or when you’re feeling rather lost.
(Looks like I’m getting to the end of this first
page, which must mean something... although, I don’t
know what that is... Oh, yes:
Time to sign off for now.
My last advice is to go ahead and write yourself a fabulous page-turner.
Just don’t worry all that much about what numbers
are on them.