Continuing with the theme of scriptwriting, set by a previous post, let’s touch upon a few “must know” / “must do” notes. The dry yawny stuff. But totally relevant and required.
Here are some quick [painless] facts:
Fact: Scripts/screenplays are typed on 8 ½” X 11” white paper. Who knew it’s supposed to be 3-holed (obviously not me, LOL). As I’m assuming you’re simplifying your life by using software like Final Draft, I’ll refrain from margin dimensions and page numbering (zzzzzzz).
Fact: Courier 12 is the font of choice in the great U.S. of A. Why? Interesting enough, it’s all about timing. One script page with this font = 1 minute of on-screen time.
Fact: The average feature film script is between 95 and 125 pages long, (with an average of 114). Dramas are generally longer than comedies.
Fact: Scripts are written in three acts. (If you’re really curious, go on-line to check the actual number of pages per act in relation to a given genre.) The first introduces characters and situation(s) and sets up the plot. The second provides challenges and obstacles, and character development. The third presents resolution.
Fact: Action is written in present tense, active voice. (Tom watches furtively from behind a curtain as Cecilia takes aim.)
This circles back to editing (something I thoroughly enjoy, though there can be some agonizing this-really-needs-to-go moments). Check for dull dialog, nonsensical actions or reactions, flat characters. Watch the number of scenes—is each one moving the story/plot forward? If not, delete it. You want a clean, crisp script . . . just as you want clean, crisp writing (be it a novel, article, or post).
All the dos and don’ts truly comprise a [big, fat] book. But if you use scriptwriting software, you’re halfway on your exciting quest. The rest comes from doing due diligence and practice. Get feedback, too; don’t be scared to show your work to friends and colleagues.