Your questions answered by a  Hollywood professional

A bit of Hollywood humor 

Updated March 26, 2007

Screenwriting Help E-Mail (Previous)

Updated every Monday, one selected e-mail will be posted and answered here each week. With many years of experience in the film and television business, I look forward to providing answers to your questions (often with a humorous eye) about screenwriting or the entertainment industry in general.  Please send your e-mailed questions to: Script Advisor.  You may also wish to visit our Screenwriting Help E-Mails - The Archives.

This week's question: 

Can you please say how many pages does a teen slasher horror script normally runs to. Is it 90, 95, 100 or 110 pages? Thanks.

Mark T.

This week's answer: 

Page Counting:  It's A Dirty Business But Somebody Doesn't Have To Do It

Mark, I appreciate you contacting me.  You may get different answers to your question from various sources.  Here's what I have found:  All those page numbers could work, but it's usually best to have a little more than a little less.  90 pages is very tight.  It can be done, but if the director or producer (or caterer who has an in with him) wants to slice (good word for the genre) off some scenes, you could be scrambling at three in the morning, trying to come up with some more material.  110 might be a tad long, but it's very hard to say, being that each page may be "differently dense" in terms of words-on-page, varying according to the amount of dialogue versus description.  (In this corner, we have Dangerous Dialogue, and, in the other corner, Deadly Description!)

If it's a fast-paced teen horror, you could shoot for 100.  But if you hit 110, so be it.  A story editor once told me to not worry about the number of pages.  I have found that it can become an obsession that takes the writer out of his creative story stream (I just made that phrase up and may trademark it and hundreds of other script consultants -- and there are that many and more -- can use it and pay me royalties so I don't have to worry about how many pages my next screenplay is).

Oh.  But, be careful that you don't go past 110.  I recently finished a teen supernatural horror (although I think there is some slashing in it, I decided not to call it a "teen supernatural slasher horror" because it has to many "s"'s, and nobody would know what it was, anyway) and I believe it is over 110 pages (but, then again, Final Draft might disagree with Movie Magic Screenwriter regarding that observation.  In the first corner we have Fantastic Final Draft and in the...).  Now that you've written me and brought up the subject, I find myself reluctant to check.

There could be a scary caterer waiting on the other side.

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