Screenwriting plots, acts, scenes, subplots… Where does it all end for screenwriters? Let’s break it down. A screenplay consists of one main story with a distinct setup, middle and resolution. How do you know if there is too much or too little plot in your movie script?
Keep your screenplay lean and clean
SCREENPLAY PAGE COUNT
Is your film script around 100 pages long? You may be on target, except with comedy scripts which often clock in at around 90-95 pages. If your screenplays are over 110-115 pages long, you may be trying to pack too much story in them. If they are under 90 pages, they are probably not quite feature length.
Generally, this occurs around the page 10-15 mark. If yours occurs on the first or second page, there may not be enough setup plot. Are there enough scenes to setup your story and the payoff later? If not, add them. If your inciting incident occurs at page 30, you may have added too much unnecessary or inconsequential detail in your movie script. If you cannot justify the position of your inciting incident, you may have entered the story too early or too late.
The resolution is the natural ending of your story. Screenwriters sometimes write a few more scenes afterwards to show the hero in their new world, but don’t drag it out. If you have another action sequence after the logical end of your script that lasts for 5 or 20 pages, cut it out.
PLOTS & SUBPLOTS
Screenwriting conventions generally state that there should be one main character and one main plot. You may also add 1 or 2 subplots to add dimension and entertainment value to your screenplay. These are usually main character interactions with a secondary character. They should always intersect with the main storyline.
If you have 3 or more plot lines, you may be trying to stuff too much story into your screenplay. If your subplots don’t involve the main character in some way, they may actually be parallel plot lines that detract rather than add to your film script.
MULTIPLE MAIN CHARACTERS
Okay, apart from dual protagonists and ensemble cast films, your screenplay should only have one main character to keep it clean. If you’re adding pages to service too many characters, excise them.
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