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Ratio of Action/Description to Dialogue


#1

Final Draft offers this nice statistical feature that gives you the amount of headers, action/description, dialogue, parentheticals in percent.



Now I realize that there is a difference if one is writing an action script or a comedy. I also know that a lot of screenwriters frown upon heavy description. Still because I also have taken a few film production classes, I think in pictures and tend to describe more. I know that’s not the best approach to a spec script but compromising too much would result in me losing all fun in writing.



To cut all this short, what do you think, how much of each should be in the screenplay?



Mine have slightly above 50% description/action and 35% dialogue, the rest is, one shouldn’t actually believe: headers.

Btw. I know that’s not easy to say unless you have already finished a screenplay AND have a software that gives you those figures …



Something else: in my humble opinion, nothing on the screen can elicit emotion better than good acting and actions in general. No need to actually talk all the time. In fact, if words are sparse, they become way more effective and have more weight. Escpecially for suspense that should be the motto.


#2

I don’t think it’s something to generalize or discribe in figures. It so much depends on what story you’re writing and to what amount the description really is important for the film crew. After all, you’re not writing a novel where you have to help the reader make up the story in their own fantasy.

After you’ve written say, a paragraph of , description, read it again and consider what really is important in order to have this filmed the way you want it. Sometimes there’s a lot of stuff you write in there that you think is important but doesnt help the process of capturing that on film - at all.



when i wrote my road movie 2 years back, the script i ultimately lost unfortunately, i did so many drafts, and many of them resultet from faulty descriptions. they were either lacking information or had too much unnecessary ones


#3

Generally, the dialogue should take up anywhere between 10 to 25% of your screenplay. Action/Description should be at least 50%


#4

[quote=“deliveryman”]
Generally, the dialogue should take up anywhere between 10 to 25% of your screenplay. Action/Description should be at least 50%
[/quote]

excellent and I was already worried I would have to much description, phew…



PS: hey deliveryman, I sent you a yahoo instant message. You seem to have quite some experience in screenwriting. That’s good,

I want to pursue that path too. So far I got 2 scripts plus I’m working on the idea to a third one. I might decide and post some parts in this forum some time later.


#5

With my script I tried not to be too dependent upon description. I remembered I had to convey emotions and mood and so many other things with dialogue. To give the actor something to work with, like subtle body language and an interesting character. You can’t do that all with description. But you can with hinting at body language and dialogue. I used this with STEVI. I think it came out pretty well.


#6

Ugh. If I ever read a script where the writer describes subtle body language… I’d throw it in the trash can.



Just tell the frickin’ story. Do you honestly think the actors would follow your directions on what their body language is suppose to be like? I’ll tell you write now, the first thing they’d do it cross it out. Actors even cross out more parentheticals. It’s up to the actors to convey emotion through the screen through subtle body language, not you.



And by subtle, I mean subtle. Something like, “crosses his legs.”


#7

I could take that personally, but I wont. I don’t think STEVI was trash worthy. and neither did others on zoetope and trigger. I got some good reviews. But you are entitled to your opinion. :stuck_out_tongue:


#8

LOL my script so far is 76% action 17% dialogue

Only one use of profanity.

I’m only on page 7 yet I have about 20 minutes real time I bet.

Guess I’m not good at describing.


#9

I’m about

907 action

795 dialogue

51 profanity


#10

When I said I’d “throw it in the trash can” I didn’t mean literally.



What I’m trying to say is, when trying to sell scripts – and they see stuff like that, a red flag goes off in their head. That’s all.