Before we begin learning how to write a screenplay we must explore what a screenplay is and what a screenplay is not.

A little background information:
On average, one page of a screenplay is equal to one minute of movie screen time. The average movie drama is two hours long or a 120 page screenplay. A horror or comedy movie is usually around ninety minutes or 90 pages of a screenplay. An action / adventure film will sometimes be longer. For our purposes, we will say that the average screenplay is 90 to 120 pages long.

With that information in mind, let’s look at what a screenplay is not.

Many novels are adapted to the Silver Screen, so isn’t it an easy step from novel to screen? No, it is quite hard to translate a novel into a compelling film. A screenplay is not a novel. If we were to go by page count alone, even a short novel is over twice the size of a screenplay. But how else is a novel different from a screenplay?
Old books with magnifying glass
When you write a novel you have the freedom to write long passages of description, pages of flowing dialogue and chapters upon chapters of the character’s inner thoughts. You do not have those luxuries when writing a screenplay. Description must be concise. Internal monologues do no work as well in movies as in novels. In a movies you show how a character is feeling and what they may be thinking.

Screenwriting is a visual medium. You are creating scenes that will be transformed to the movie screen. Writers hear the old adage: ”Show Don’t Tell” many times, no matter what they write, but it is never more important than in screenwriting. The screenwriter creates scenes for the silver screen, not the mind’s eye.

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About The Author


John Morgan Risner

John has been featured in several magazines and television programs including Great Day Live and ABC News with Diane Sawyer, talking about screenwriting, movie making, the James Bond films and the Oscar nominations. John is also a film historian, specializing in horror films and is an expert on the James Bond films and novels.

John Morgan Risner is available for speaking engagements and seminars for writing groups,workshops and retreats, comic and movie conventions, and of course screenwriting and film festivals. Please send an email to for rates and scheduling.

In his role as senior story analysis and head writer at Screen Writer Ink, John has over ten years as a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analysis, Story Consultant , Writing Mentor and is a Screenwriting Instructor at two major universities. This experience combined with his Degree in Screenwriting and Film Production, plus experience as a producer, director and actor, makes John uniquely qualified to analyze stories and screenplays to provide guidance to writers and producers looking to create high quality marketable novels and screenplays .

The expert staff at Screen Writer Ink not only provides writing and mentor services to writers, but also manuscript analysis and editing and full screenplay analysis and coverage. Screen Writer Ink is available to producers and production companies for rewriting assignments, script doctoring and complete screenplay creation.

Specialties: Screenwriting, Producing,Ghost Writing, Directing, Story Creation , Acting, Writing, Film Production, Speaker, Instruction and Analysis.

Please send an email to for further information

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