In the screenwriting software ‘WriterDuet’ there is a tool for shortening the length of a screenplay (a task screenwriters are always involved in). The tool is really simple, you set a parameter, say, two spaces, and the software runs through the screenplay looking for any pieces of text that are breaking over multiple lines, that could be reduced to a single line if the margin was moved / extended by two or fewer spaces.
Eg. A line of dialogue in a screenplay cannot be longer than 30 spaces long. The tool runs through the text and finds a line of dialogue that is 31 spaces, and therefore split over two lines. It suggests you make the margin of the first line 31 spaces, rather than the standard 30. The text then fits onto one line, and you’ve just made the screenplay shorter by a line.
I have a feeling this would be quite easy to set up as screenplay format is so fixed, but I might be missing something. Any help with this from the developers would be really useful.
I am puzzled by the rationale you have offered for the desired feature. I imagine that when screenwriters are pressed to shorten a screenplay, what is wanted is that they really shorten it — its running time — not that they reduce its page count by fiddling with the margins.
The feature you would like to see may have some perfectly legitimate use/ratonale, but being responsive to the frequent demand on screenwriters that they shorten their screenplays is surely not one of them!
FWIW, margin cheating is a poor solution for shortening a screenplay. If any buyer is seriously interested in your script, one of the first things they do is send the script to a script typing service/department and have it reformatted to their approved specifications. That will tell them the true page count. If they are interested in the script, part of the conversation will be about the extra 5-15 pages you need to really cut out before they can make the film.
Some screenwriters use the WB margins because Warners and several other studios use them as a house standard. The WB margins make your script longer, so they force you to be even more economical.
The best way to shorten your screen play is – to rewrite it. Look for ways to reword a sentence so it fits on one line instead of two. Cut a scene. Cut a character. Cut a subplot.
If L&L is going to spend time improving the screenwriting features in Scrivener, I’d prefer they fix the cut & paste problems in Screenwriting Mode, rather than add a Shorten Script mode.
My $.02. YMMV.