• Wondering which camera, gear, computer, or software to buy? Ask in our Gear Guide.

misc Ask Us Anything About Screenwriting

Could you say something along the lines of "B is incredulous at A's ignorance"?
Yeah, I came up with the same word yesterday ... This is what I wrote


1619653416860.png
 
I'm taking a class on Script Doctoring this term. This week's assignment is to pick a scene or sequence from the multi Academy Award winning screenplay, The Martian and make it better. Uhhhhhh. I've seen the movie and read the script. I thought it was brilliant. At no time, while reading or viewing, did I think to myself, "Oh, I would have done that this way." My only thing would have been that I wouldn't have had all of the camera directions in mine. Any ideas on how I can take an excerpt from a work I really like and seek to elevate it?
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I remember thinking when I watched it that it was too damn long - I'm not a fan of 2 hour 24 minute movies in general.

But aside from that, the cast was amazing. Is there any character that you would have liked to see more of? A character who might have added something terrific to a specific scene or sequence? Or a character that isn't seen in the movie that you would have liked to see?
 
My wife thought it was boring. She isn't a fan of sciencey stuff. Plus, she asked, "How many billions of dollars is Hollywood going to spend rescuing Matt Damon!?" I'm going to give the film another view and think on your suggestions.
 
tenor (3).gif

Have this guy pop out on Matt Damon growing his potatoes!
Yeah and he can say "How do you like them apples, Matt!" as he's blasting him.

A French word for potato is pomme de terre, which literally means "apple of the earth".
 
Last edited:
Haven't read all your replies but - best paid places to shop a screenplay without 'representation'?

(Or paying for nonsense from people in the industry who are already getting paid and want extra to 'read' your script.)
 
Hi, I have a question about the use of semi colons, commas, newlines and double dashes to separate text within action lines. What are some general guidelines used by writers with respect to these? Take this snippet from No Country For Old Men ...

1639498789394.png

The placement of -- when introducing Anton Chigurh's name is interesting as is the style employed by the Cohen brothers writing. I really love this simple bare bones writing, completely devoid of excessive capitalization that is often seen in other screenplays.

But why use -- here and not a comma? Is it for emphasis? For example, I might have written it as:

The prisoner, ANTON CHIGURH(35), gets out of the police car...
 
This is how I've written for as long as I remember having seen it early on in screenplays I read in the 80s. My personal opinion and observation is that when used correctly -- it EMPHASIZES -- what's in between these double dashes. Much like using an Em dash in fiction writing but screenwriting software doesn't allow the use of an Em dash so we double up on the hyphen or dash mark.

It's used to subconsciously to manipulate the reader to understand that whatever's in between those double hyphens or dash marks is IMPORTANT to the overall story.

Just my take of course.
 
Last edited:
This is how I've written for as long as I remember having seen it early on in screenplays I read in the 80s. My personal opinion and observation is that when used correctly -- it EMPHASIZES -- what's in between these double dashes. Much like using an Em dash in fiction writing but screenwriting software doesn't allow the use of an Em dash so we double up on the hyphen or dash mark.

It's used to subconsciously to manipulate the reader to understand that whatever's in between those double hyphens or dash marks is IMPORATANT to the overall story.

Just my take of course.
Also remember... The Coens don't really write specs. They write for themselves most of the time although they have done some script doctoring here and there. When you write for yourself, you can write any way you want i.e., not capping Chigurh's name. I've seen probably ALL of their screenplays over the years and many do not even use the courier font.
 
Last edited:
Good point about writing for themselves. That does affect the material I'm sure. Maybe the extra time spent on polishing up the screenplay is traded for the filmmaking aspects of the project.

And even then, preparation can be quite varied between filmmakers since not all directors prepare the same way.

Some are extremely prepared before shoots while others, not so much. For example, some NEED detailed storyboards for all but the most trivial scenes while other director's feel they are not necessary or end up taking multiple takes before settling on something they like. Got to be careful however as this can put a strain on those working along side the director. I read somewhere that Stanley Kubrick was pretty tough to work with because he was such a perfectionist.

As a student, I actually prefer studying from screenplays written by the filmmaker as these do not often veer too far from the film (but not always), so the student gets a good translation between the two mediums. For me this is important when comparing the pacing between the written page and the time spent expressing it in film.

Cohen scripts are great in this regard; very terse writing when the scene is quick (as above) but quite detailed when the scene takes a bit longer (such as the scene when the deputy gets strangled). They are quite selective when to add or omit descriptive details in their screenplays based on the pacing of the film.

Aside from dialogue, I find proper pacing is really tough to execute in a screenplay
 
Hi again,

I have a question about breaking dialogue between two scene locations. Do we do it like this with ellipsis, or describe it all in the action lines without interrupting the dialogue? Also, is ellipses to be used here instead of double hyphens? I use -- for interruptions but this really isn't an interruption :)

Thank you in advance...

1639591171053.png
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Hi again,

I have a question about breaking dialogue between two scene locations. Do we do it like this with ellipsis, or describe it all in the action lines without interrupting the dialogue? Also, is ellipses to be used here instead of double hyphens? I use -- for interruptions but this really isn't an interruption :)

Thank you in advance...

1639591171053.png
Not a pro but i believe they would use SAM (CONT'D O.S.)
 
Ahh.. I have stopped using CONT'D from advice given in another thread :) I actually don't like CONT'D and this is why I left it out, but maybe this is the best way...
 

Constantin-Reply.png

Off the top of my head... This is how I'd handle it...

The elipsis DOES signal the reader that the dialogue is ongoing... You can also use the elipsis with action to do the same thing.

No need for CONTINUOUS or (CONT'D). Less is more with specs which are meant to be read. If there's NO REASON to slow down the read? Don't do it. Readers KNOW the scene is continuing without CONTINUOUS. Readers know the dialogue is continuing without (CONT'D).

I just assumed this was a spec... If it's to actually shoot? Write it any way you want.

Also? You ORPHANED the INT. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS by placing dialogue right after the scene location heading. Never orphan a scene location heading.

Last but not least? I used secondary scene location headings instead of master scene location headings as what you wrote didn't FEEL like the very beginning of the script.

*NOTE: The only time I DO USE (CONT'D) is when the software splits the dialogue at the bottom of a page and begins on the new page.

*NOTE: Oops. Forgot the "l" in talk. LOL. I did this very fast.
 
Last edited:
Hi again,

I have a question about breaking dialogue between two scene locations. Do we do it like this with ellipsis, or describe it all in the action lines without interrupting the dialogue? Also, is ellipses to be used here instead of double hyphens? I use -- for interruptions but this really isn't an interruption :)

Thank you in advance...

1639591171053.png
A double hyphen is correct as there in no pause.
And since there is no pause, you must use CON'T to weld the broken sentence. Whoever told you otherwise was wrong. It needs to be in there for post.
Ask yourself, what will it mean to the editor? "..." might mean he needs to snip the dialogue and squeeze in a few frames extra frames to fit the pause. CON'T enables him to see instantly that the dialogue slips seamlessly from scene to scene.
 
Top