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format specific characters

When one character is talking to a specific character within a group. How is that done?
On another forum it was suggested to be done like this.


(to jake)

What are you drinking?

That seems awkward and like too many spaces to me.

Appreciate any advice
What do you mean by spaces? In screenwriting software, those lines would go one under the other without any real spaces between the lines if that's what you mean.

Technically I would say that formatting is correct if you need to make it obvious which member among a group is being addressed i.e. using (parenthesis). Though it's not always necessary if it can be implied from the situation or response.

Alternatively, to make it clearer in your example, I would simply add the addressing action to the preceding "action" text and say it like this -

...John looks to Jake.

What you drinking?
What was suggested in another forum was that those spaces be put there deliberately.
No, if you are using screenwriting software, it will automatically format it with the correct indentations and spacing. So what you've written above, when typed into the software, appears like this -
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IndieTalk's Resident Guru
What was suggested in another forum was that those spaces be put there deliberately.
Hi James.

Glad this forum (Jkds) could help you through this. Not all forums are created
equal. Another thing you should do is read several screenplays. That can
really help you with format issues - among other things. How many screenplay
do you read?

In general it's best to put action in the action line rather than in the
parenthetical - as Jkds already pointed out.