In today’s blog (part two of last week’s Story Tip Tuesday about episode length), I will try to answer a common question, and that is, 'How many pages should my script be?' As I mentioned last time, the first thing you need to know is the running time of your episode. The good thing is, the rest is simple math!
If you’re writing a live-action script, the easiest way to determine page count is: one page equals one minute of screen time. That means if you’re writing a 22-minute episode, your script should be approximately 22 pages. If you’re writing a 26-minute episode, your script would be roughly 26 pages, and so on. Keep in mind that this is only a guideline, but when it comes to a live-action script where a director will be hired to decide on much of the action, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb. My live-action scripts tend to be a few pages longer, mostly because I tend to write a bit more action and also want the pace to be a bit faster.
So I thought after several weeks of diving into the philosophical side of the creative process, it was time to get down to the nuts and bolts of a topic that I’m often asked to address – how long and how many pages should a TV script be?
Well, it all depends on who and what your script is for. Is it for a channel such as Disney or the BBC, or is it for Amazon or Netflix? Is it for adults or is your episode for kids? Is it a period drama, a prime-time comedy or an educational pre-school show?
It’s important for you to know the answers to these questions since each channel, each genre and each target age will have very different requirements. The great thing is, you can get hold of this information easily.
If a producer has hired you to write a script for either a new or existing show, then he or she will tell you what they will need. They may want you to deliver a half-hour script, which can be anything from 22 to 28 minutes based on commercial breaks. If it’s a kid’s show, chances a...
A question that I’m often asked is, “How do you write an adaptation?”
Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact answer to this question, nor a ‘paint by numbers’ method, since a writer’s job is to embark upon each new project and create something fresh and unique.
But after over twenty years in the business, many of which have been spent adapting book properties for both TV and film, I do have some tips that I hope will help you approach this challenging but hugely creative and exciting task.
The first one is, never assume you can simply take a story from a book and transfer it directly onto the screen. You can’t. And if you do approach an adaptation in this way, chances are you will fail. A book is filled with details, textures, subtleties and characters’ inner thoughts, while film is a journey told through action.
Your job as a writer is to capture the heart and soul of a story, to be true to the characters and the essence of the journey, and to bring it to new life. Oftentimes, this requires...