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format OFF SCREEN and CON'T on same CHARACTER Line


How would I format the O.S and CON'T together on same line?
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Really? I have seen it stated otherwise ... in trottiers book and also here...http://www.scriptologist.com/Magazine/Formatting/Formatted/formatted.html ... Would there ever be a situation where two or more items appear where the CON'T ?....are you saying it moves into parenthesis?
No offense but just because screenwriting software uses (CONT'D) by default doesn't mean you actually use it... Professional spec scripts stopped using (CONT'D) almost 20 years ago. It's just another example of overwriting these days. You may see it in a shooting script but that's a shooting script and (CONT'D) signifies that the same scene is still in play.
Actually, Celtx does not add it by default.

I added it here because it's part of the same continuous line of dialogue between two SECONDARY LOCATIONS. I actually hate using (CONT'D) myself but thought it was just proper use of formatting in this case.

I was unaware it's no longer used much in speculative scripts! That's good to know :)

I checked google on how this is used in screenplay software and here's what one contributing author of such software thought about it:

Is automatic (cont’d) a bug or a feature?​

February 23, 2015 Apps, Formatting, Highland


That is kind of what I have in my own script above but I will refrain from using it altogether if its OPTIONAL.

Thank you
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I'm going to disagree with @Unknown Screenwriter. I believe that scene CONTINUEDs fell out of favor. Those appeared at the bottom of the page when a scene continued onto the next page. I believe dialog CONT'D is still very much in use.
LOL. (CONT'D) hasn't been used in about 20 years. People see them it in shooting scripts and THINK they need them. They are NOT needed at all.

I've never used CONTINUEDS in a spec and I've been writing them for over 30 years. LOL.

You can disagree all you want... I wouldn't have written it if it weren't true.

I wouldn't expect anyone not writing specs and selling them or anyone without representation to know about this little piece of trivia. No harm no foul. Again, most screenwriting software BY DEFAULT, sticks (CONT'D) in there automatically so a lot of people use it inadvertently... But today's reader is all about the WHITESPACE. They certainly do NOT need to KNOW -- because you put it there -- that a character is CONTINUING their dialogue... LOL. That's ludicrous.

The only time you use it is when you've broken dialogue off at the bottom of the page and continue it on the next page but that's a completely different beast.

Don't believe me?

Read about it:

Reader Question: What about using (CONT’D) in separated dialogue?

Discontinue CONT’D

When to use 'MORE' and 'CONT'D' in Screenplays

Will you find some sites where writers say to use them? Absolutely. Most talk about using them so the eventual actor knows they are in the same scene. LOL. Again, to me? This is also ludicrous.

I'm sure if I sit down and really search hard, I could find even more examples but I really don't need to since I'm not the one using them.

It's not a make or break thing... So many newbies and professionals that do NOT know how to turn off (CONT'D) in their respective screenwriting program use them so a lot of readers get (CONT'D) blindness.

Some do NOT however... And hate seeing it because IT'S OBVIOUS.

Do what you want to do. I wouldn't waste my time explaining it here however, it it weren't true. LOL.
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I certainly was not arguing for people to use CONT'D. I think the arguments made in the links @Unknown Screenwriter make the case that it's superfluous in most cases. I was arguing that the use of CONT'D has not fallen out of favor in the way that CONTINUED at the bottom and top of a subsequent page has.

From the first link in @Unknown Screenwriter's references:

"The Continuing Use of CONT’D

I’m still seeing a ton of people using “(CONT’D)” unnecessarily in their scripts, so it’s time for a quick rant post."

My observation is the same. I still see a ton of CONT'D in spec scripts as well as shooting scripts (I do love reading scripts of my favorite movies, not that I have a ton of shooting scripts I work with). I don't think I've seen CONTINUED used in years.

I would suspect it is because it's the default for screenwriting programs like Final Draft. However, @Unknown Screenwriter's 2nd link suggests it may be appropriate in some cases. The article doesn't say don't use it, it just says it's bad form to leave it turned on automatically. The article says it depends on the script and if it's going to distract from the reading (like when you have a film that has a lot of one person speaking).

Personally, I think spec screenplays should be clean and easy to read and CONT'D can certainly be a distraction, but I would probably use it for dialog that crosses pages or maybe possibly if dialog is separated by an expanse of stage direction -- which would be in contradiction to keeping the spec script clean, but it is a hypothetical possibility.

So, I'm not sure I saw an answer yet... IF one were to use CONT'D and it's for dialog that has moved from on to off screen, what would the proper formatting be? Is it as @mlesemann suggested that the O.S. moves to the parenthetical position?
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most screenwriting software BY DEFAULT, sticks (CONT'D) in there automatically so a lot of people use it inadvertently...
I'm relatively certain this is the only reason it's still around; I personally have no idea how to turn it off in Final Draft.

I've just spent ten weeks in a TV writing course and re-read a lot of my favourite recent pilots and sure enough they pretty much all have the famous (infamous?) default (CONT'D) on dialogue.
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This is my last beat-down on the dead horse...

In my second link above, the author of that post referenced a book called: The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style written by Christopher Riley. This is arguably the de facto standard when it comes to screenplay format. The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier comes in second and The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats: The Screenplay by Judith H. Haag comes in third.

There are a couple of other books out there on formatting screenplays but these three above are what most writers use... Professional writers seem to be more drawn to The Hollywood Standard... Probably because the author was a professional script reader for Warner Brothers for something like 15 years or so. From what I understand, he even wrote and sold some specs.

Most newbie screenwriters seem to end up with The Screenwriter's Bible. Nothing wrong with this book for most formatting issues and if you know anything about David Trottier, he approaches the craft with logic... i.e., as long as you can come up with a way to format something and it's completely understandable by anyone in the business reading it? Go for it.

Sometimes, there are simply no rules or so many rules, you can pretty much get away with anything as long as it's CLEAR and CONCISE as to what you're actually TRYING TO GET ACROSS TO THE READER.

The plain and simple fact is that most people wanting to write screenplays read SHOOTING SCRIPTS. Why? Because they are freely available online and in script stores in Los Angeles. Even most of the scripts at the Writer's Guild West are shooting scripts. Shooting scripts are the scripts most newbies learn screenwriting from -- NOT SPEC SCRIPTS. Screenwriters rarely write shooting scripts. These are usually co-written by the director and cinematographer. Shooting scripts always include formatting practices that a spec script should NEVER use.

So why do so many people wanting to write screenplays read shooting scripts? Where are you gonna find a spec script? I'm lucky... I have a lot of them. I like reading specs WAY more than reading shooting scripts as one of the many ways to learn screenwriting. You'd be surprised at how different the two mediums really are. A spec script is written to be READ. Sure, you'll want the reader to simultaneously run the movie in his or her head while they read but make no mistake... It's written to be read.

When something is written to be read? You want it to be a fast and furious read so that the reader reading it, simply cannot put it down. You want them to keep turning the pages and read to the end without stopping... Without taking them OUT of the story. As I said before... Some script readers have (CONT'D) blindness... They're so used to seeing it, they hardly notice it anymore. There are in fact, a lot of these kinds of blindess examples when it comes to reading screenplays. This is but one of them.

My personal take on writing specs is to remove or change ANYTHING that MIGHT take a reader out of the story. One of my personal pet peeves is overwriting. 99 out of 100 specs I read from people trying to break into the business are WAY overwritten and while I would never see a (CONT'D) and officially call it overwriting? That's exactly what it is to me. My take... Being in this business for a very long time is simply this... Why give a reader anything that might take them OUT of the story even if it's for a second or two? Hence, why I don't use (CONT'D) when one of my characters continues on with his or her dialogue after some action/description. When it's OBVIOUS? I see no reason to include it.

Out of all the specs I've written and work for hire gigs I've gotten? I've never used it once and nobody has ever even mentioned me not including them. LOL. And? I doubt they ever will.

To me? It's just another piece of unnecessary content that the reader will most likely keep looking at as they do their read-through. Will they mention it? Probably not but a reader who doesn't like seeing them? Could that possibly influence their opinion on your spec? Most certainly. In fact? They might not even be able to actually be specific as to why it was a difficult read. I've seen hundreds of pieces of coverage over the years where the reader giving the coverage just seemed to have a difficult read overall but wasn't super specific as to why. You do NOT want a reader to give you that kind of coverage. 999 times out of 1000 if you get a PASS on your spec? You're DONE when it comes to THAT PARTICULAR studio, producer, agent, or manager.

So to me, it comes down to WHY TAKE THE CHANCE? If a reader doesn't mind seeing (CONT'D)s or has a blindness to them, what problem would there be by completely eliminating them?


And as far as I'm concerned... There is NO flipside. I cannot imagine ANY professional reader dinging a spec because of its LACK of (CONT'D)s. LOL.

But back to The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style written by Christopher Riley... Again, this book and its author is arguably the de facto standard reference manual when it comes to spec screenplay formatting. I personally know 7 professional readers and I heard about this book YEARS ago from 3 of them.

One of them that I know has a website... He's not one of the 3 that told me about the book but I did find this on his site:

The Top 5 Most Common Script Formatting Errors

His comment at the very bottom pretty much says it all as far as I'm concerned. He and his people do this for a living just like Christopher Riley did and in his book, Christopher Riley says specifically about using (CONT'D)s, "no longer standard practice in Hollywood and hasn't been for at least 20 years." Originally published in 2005.

But by all means... Leave it IN if that's your preference.
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As a newbie, I think I have been too easily influenced by the screenplays I have downloaded from the internet which tend to be shooting scripts. That said, there's a temptation (at least for me) to write almost as if I am the director. For example, the scene snippet I provided dialogue above could have easily been written sans the (O.S) and it still works, but my intent was for the reader to "see" the scene AS I INTENDED IT TO BE SEEN.

I completely agree, however ... that the ULTIMATE GOAL is for the script to be a PAGE TURNER ... where the reader wants to keep reading ... So after all that is said and done, the screenwriter has to decide (given the tools at his disposal) how to best go about doing that.

In that vain, it seems to me scriptwriting is more of an art than a science ... KNOW WHEN TO BEND THE RULES.
FWIW, the biggest ‘tell’ of whether you’re reading a shooting script is the scenes being numbered. Scenes are always numbered for shooting scripts.

I’m also not sure that the idea that the script is completely re-written by the Director and Cinematographer, or that camera angles etc. are added to the script itself is necessarily common anymore (especially for TV), however it does (or can) happen.

Two pilots I read recently that were the ‘spec’ versions of the scripts were for The Newsroom and This Is Us.
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