How Many Scenes in a Screenplay?

The basic number of scenes within a script will vary with genre. Keep in mind that each page of script represents approximately one minute of screen time, with the average scene not to exceed three pages. Keep in mind that most scripts submitted, also genre dependent, come in between 100-110 pages.

The more talky the genre, such as romantic comedies and character dramas, the longer the scenes (three pages plus), and thus overall you’ll have fewer scenes within your script. I’ve heard that these scripts generally average 60-90 scenes (when production numbered), which gives the writer plenty of room to have those key 5 and 6 page scenes, if they need them.

Conversely, an action, action-adventure or thriller script, where people aren’t talking so much as running around, will have many more scenes, because a scene might constitute an eight of a page or less. These scripts can have 90-120 scenes or more, depending. I’ve written a couple of thrillers and when production numbered, they seem to come in around 160 scenes.

When you’re beginning the outlining process, if you write your scenes on index cards, I generally find that 10-12 index cards per act section (act 1, first half of act 2, second half of act 2, act 3) is generally sufficient material. If you write a treatment based on the cards and hit 10-15 pages, you’ll have enough material to get through a first draft. Then comes the fun part: rewriting.

6 Responses to How Many Scenes in a Screenplay?

  1. Eric April 20, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Thanks. I’m outlining my 2nd script now, while taking Al Watt’s 90-Day Screenplay course, by conference-call phone meetings. Today we begin our first draft.

    I feel complete with my Act 1 outline, and it has 12 scenes. Becuase I have lots that I left out, my Act 2 cold eaily avoid the old ‘act two doldrums.’ That’s my intention, of course. I’ve got Act 3 almost written, as part of a 15-page treatment.

  2. Monica April 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Hi, Eric, thanks for the status update on your script – and GOOD LUCK! It’s a standard pitfall that many writers don’t pay enough attention in the outlining process to Act 2 and then they get there and it’s a desert. I would make sure you have at least a couple of synopsis pages on Act 2 before you go to page – otherwise it might be a long, dry haul to your midpoint and beyond. Have fun with the writing!

  3. shyamprasad January 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    thank you madam, i received how many scenes in screenplay

  4. Monica January 24, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    Thanks, Shayamprasad! How is the writing coming?

  5. Alan von Altendorf August 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    Aghast at the idea of more than 40 scenes for most spec scripts. Eighth of a page? Worst possible thing to mention to noobs.

    There is a disciplined method for using Scene Cards that focuses on dramatic action. See Screenplay Form & Structure

  6. Aadhi September 2, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Amazing information for all aspiring script writers. I can understand how the scenes-stuff works… but can you please elaborate the importance of ACTS ?