Notes from a Screenreader: Size Matters

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

Your page count is the first thing that happens to a reader after your title. Somewhere in the 90s is ideal, but a good script at 110 is fine. How can you tell if you need 110?

I will give you a thousand dollars for every page you can cut before you submit.

  • Don’t repeat your beats. Axe scenes that accomplish nothing new. If you have three scenes that demonstrate only how beleaguered your protag is by the boss, either get rid of two of them or add more story-driving plot to make them important.
  • No reporting. Read your draft for incidents of characters reporting off-screen conflict to each other. Those conflicts are more fun to watch than hear about. They also take up less space.
  • Less describing is more engaging. Personality is great in action lines; a good voice is a pleasure to read. Things that aren’t pleasant to read include large blocks of text that set the stage in a way that is absolutely unimportant to the story.

If your pages are vibrant with drama and conflict and a relentless pace, your page count is not important. But 99 times out of 100, you can do more with less.

— ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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