Question for Screenwriters

How does a screenwriter work on a screenplay draft in Scrivener without a page count? I understand when you are writing you could export to FD8 and see where you are at but for actually writing the project don’t we all pace out a scene as we are writing it by how long or short it is?

I love Scrivener and am trying to figure out how to make it work for myself but I have to believe this would be a problem for all screenwriters. Hard to keep track of where you are without a map and would it be like being in a desert without a map without page numbers?

Thanks all.


Hopefully some screenwriters can help you out with working in the current version, but in the next version of Scrivener, there will be a page layout feature, specifically to address this problem.

Hi Michael,

You seem to have posted about Scrivener’s “page count” in several different threads now (for instance, double-posting on the same day: ), and I have answered at least two separate enquiries from you on this exact topic in e-mail recently. The answer remains the same. :slight_smile:

As I explained in my e-mail to you, even if Scrivener did have a page layout view (as 2.0 will), it won’t correspond to the page count in Final Draft anyway, given that you work in “chunks” in Scrivener, so you would mostly only ever view a few pages at a time in Scrivener rather than the whole screenplay. (Also, Scrivener won’t do the fancy stuff such as keep character names and dialogue together - again, as I said in my e-mail to you.)

Perhaps other screenwriters will reply to this thread and tell you how they work, but hopefully that will then lay this issue to rest, as your persistent repetition in e-mails and posts that you need a page count and can’t work without one in Scrivener will not hurry its implementation in Scrivener. We’ve already established that there will be a page layout view in Scrivener (added precisely because screenwriters need an idea of the “page unit”), and I’ve also explained how it may not equate to a proper page count and is just there for a rough idea. Scrivener will never be a replacement for dedicated scriptwriting software such as Final Draft and is not trying to be. Scrivener is never going to be a page layout program. Scrivener is for the drafting stage before format-finessing. There are plenty of programs that do the other stuff; Scrivener is for the stage before. As I’ve explained this all before anyway, I’ll make this is my last comment on this topic. :slight_smile:

There’s no point trying to force Scrivener to work for you - if you can’t work without a page layout view, and you don’t work in chunks, then you would be far better off working in Final Draft 8 all the way through.

On a sidenote, please do not cross-post the same topic in different places, as it makes my job a lot harder and is against the forum rules.

Best regards,

Thanks Keith. Did not mean to waste your time. Was really just frustrated and hoping to get answers from the community. Won’t happen again. Thanks for your time.

Thanks Michael. Hopefully some screenwriters will answer, and I will try to answer even more fully than I already have when I get back. I’m on holiday at the moment so receiving a bombardment and trying to deal with everything rose my blood pressure more than it normally would. :slight_smile:
Thanks and all the best,

Keith is right.

Also, I call bullshit on that whole page-count target thing, especially in early drafts of a screenplay, which are the drafts for which Scrivener was designed. You can get a good gut feeling for the pace of your script by reading and rereading, and if you’re unfortunate enough to be working with a producer or (God forbid) an agent who still treats Save The Cat targets as dogma (Catma?), you can finesse that once you get to Final Draft. Shoring up widows and orphans alone can alter a draft by 10 pages, and there’s always a way to rephrase a stage direction more concisely, or vice versa, if you’re short. (It’s little housekeeping tricks like this that give the lie to STC page counts – how can you claim to have a formula that incorporates page count if you can change 10 pages into 7 or even 5 without changing the actual content of what’s to be shot?)

I guess I’m just saying that, in my personal experience, when I’m feeling hung up on something like page count in Scrivener (it’s happened), I’m actually hung up on something else, like story.

Thanks for the reply. I’m so damn torn. I love Scrivener and am trying my best to make it work. Don’t you think working in “chunks” is what every writer does? Or maybe I’m not clear on how “chunks” apply to screenwriting. Generally we outline, then outline index cards/scenes, then write from that. Each scene or index card is a “chunk?”

OK this is a total kluge but it works out pretty good - for my writing style and this screenplay at least. … 49swc1.jpg … 5rq8ra.jpg

Go by the Pages (paperback) number and tweak your words per page a little for your own style.

I can’t see any reason this wouldn’t scale reasonably to 5 or 10 page sections. And so what if it’s 10% out? The words on the page affect the pacing much more than how many there are. I myself have been known to be a page count bore at times but even then there were limits.

Hope this will tide you over until 2.0

RTJK - thanks for your response. I’m more concerned with as a go along than final page count ie; whether a particular scene I’m writing is four Final Draft script pages or 2.5 means a world of difference in writing a screenplay. But, I’m just beginning my new project so I will take a look and what you’ve sent me and hope 2.0 comes sooner rather than later. BUT, I’ve been assured by Keith that 2.0 is unlikely to solve this page count problem. I reserve the right to say it doesn’t work until I actually see 2.0. My feeling is Keith loves writing and writers and wants something that will work for all types of writers (NOT KISSING UP KEITH JUST STATING THE TRUTH) or he wouldn’t have brought this program to the world. I really do love Scrivener and I think I’m going to try and make it work. As I said, the last piece of the puzzle is the page count. If we ever get that than the screenwriter will have the all in one we desperately want but will never get. As a talent manager I get about 15 screenplay submission from all over the world daily. Most are sent in Final Draft. You have to think if I’m getting 75 screenplays a week sent to me and I’m one person than there are a lot of screenwriters out there. I can’t imagine all wouldn’t want to use this program. In fact in my dreams I see Scrivener as the program choice of all screenwriters and Final Draft incorporated into Scrivener. That way, FD does not loose their business and instead the two as one make a stronger force. Keith is a gifted programmer for sure. His attention to detail and his response to his users is unbeatable. Anyway, just doing some procrastinating here. Thanks for your response again.


I used an 80 page script I had handy and tweaked the words per paperback page figures until they came out to within 3% of the correct value. Any variation between pages at finer granularity (such as 2.5 page sections) would presumably be more than overcome by judicious editing of a word or two per paragraph. This you should do in Final Draft.

Fair enough. As you know if you were writing a film script and it ended up at 80 pages you would be in real trouble at about 20 pages short. That’s what I’m afraid of. There has to be a way to guide yourself so that does not happen. Maybe 2.0 will help that.

That’s got to be the most arrogant and ignorant thing I’ve heard anyone say all week. I’m not even going to trouble you with my credentials or any further response. Good luck with your agency.


Not defending MAK at all, but is it possible you are misunderstanding each other? Too me it was obvious that you used a handy file that had a known FD length to see if you could get scriv to have the same resulting page count. I don’t think you ever explicitly said anything to the effect that it was completed or in draft or just a random assemblage of words. Might there be room there for a misunderstanding?


Folks here are helpful. Most are what I would consider professional writers of one type or another. Quite a number are screenwriters. Two of the folks that I would consider more reputable in their field are suggesting that you are looking at the problem, or even the usage of scrivener incorrectly. It seems to me that instead of telling them that they are wrong, you might want to ask them how they approach scrivener usage differently than you. It might be that their success is based on a different “method” than the methods you know.

Just a thought for you.

Did not mean to offend anyone. To clarify I was just saying that if you finish a script and it’s 80 page that standard acceptable industry length feature script is more or less 95-15 now. So if I finished that short I would have trouble going back and trying to make up the pages. I’m clearly just asking for experiences and sharing mine. I’m not sure what was arrogant about that. For me, if I finished and then exported to FD and it was 80 pages I would be in trouble because I would not be able to easily make up that amount of ground. As for Final Draft. I just stated that if one guy like myself is receiving so many script submission that we can assume that Final Draft has been used in nothing more in the final formatting stage. Giving props to Scrivener it shows me there is a huge force out there of screenwriters who would love an all in one (which will never happen). Again, I thought I was saying how great this is.

Jayson, I appreciate your stepping in with a level head. And that’s all I intend to do. Share and experience. So if someone says they did it their way and it worked I’m not attacking by saying I don’t understand how they do it that way and that in my experience it would be difficult. All honesty I would love to use Scrivener to do it all and anyone including RTJF who gives me hope that I can make it work, that’s a good thing.

RTJF - I apologize if I offended you in anyway. Not my intention at all. In fact, after reading your thread yesterday I started my new project and said I was going to start it and try and use Scrivener all the way through. So thank you.


Clarification to all reading this thread:

I love Scrivener. I think this community is the best. Like many screenwriters I had and issue with page count. I expressed it (a little too much) to Keith and got my answer. I’m not going to push that anymore. All I was asking fellow screenwriters in an open dialogue was there experience using Scrivener and my concern. I, like you, am always striving to do better. I also am thrilled we have this program. So in case you read this thread and were offended in anyway please know that is not the spirit of the conversation. It’s to share our knowledge and feel free to be honesty with our experiences. So as let’s all move forward and keep the positive vibes flowing.

“as some point the other guy will use the bathroom, have to eat, sleep or have sex. that’s when i catch up.” - Jay Leno

But look at his picture – he doesn’t have a head!

I’d like to say that I saw that and wrote that on purpose but I did not. Noticed it after I wrote it.

Indubitably, my patient, Jaysen, is a paragon of levelheadedness, albeit a levelhead that is upside down, and back to front.
Do take care
Dr Mulality

Not everyone writes the way you write.

In my work, page counts are important, from the very first draft. I need to know how long a scene is running, and how far I’ve padded out an Act. Before Scrivener, I would write each scene in FD in a scratch document, so I could see the actual length of the scene I was writing. Then I’d paste it into a master file of the draft. Since I was already working in chunks, using Scrivener suited me well.

I’m very grateful that Keith has added the Page Layout to the next version of Scrivener.

Exactly. When I’m under the gun, I break down the chunks even more. I end up outlining each scene and brainstorming moments and lines that will fit in the scene.

Scrivener is great for this.