The disappearance of punctuation

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  • The disappearance of punctuation

    Hi all,
    I hope this is in the right forum topic.

    I am confused by this new thing about how punctuation offends the younger generation. Also, as new screenwriters of the younger gen come along, if they are cancelling punctuation, what happens to scripts? Will there be no punctuation in the future? Will there be only run on sentences? (which in my school days would get me an F real quick)
    And speaking of school, what will they teach kids in the future if they cancel punctuation?

    I think right now it is just limited to offending young peeps on text messages. I was floored when someone I sent a text to told me that periods in sentences are offensive and insulting and how dare I do that.
    I even saw that Chuck Lorre recently wrote on his blurb he writes at the end of his tv shows about the disappearing question mark.

    What is happening in the world when a simple thing like punctuation offends and insults people now?
    (sorry if my periods and question marks offends anyone)

  • #2
    ... Huh?

    No offense, but this post gives some serious "Old Man Yells at Clouds" vibes.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with Darthclaw. All writing should follow the basic principles of punctuation. Notice I said "principles," not "rules," because punctuation is mostly (almost entirely) based on sound reasons, not on arbitrary rules.

      I am unaware of what is actually taught in schools these days, but I know that it cannot be anything as rigorous as what we had in school (and even later in college, too).

      "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

      Comment


      • #4
        Punctuation is still taught in school. Not to worry.
        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

        Comment


        • #5
          I wouldn't worry about it. If someone is offended, why would you care? My daughter is 18 and she uses, "ur," "ikr," and other shorthands. Not worried that we'll see that in any kind of textbook, novels, news, or screenplays.

          I did read an annual black list script recently that didn't have periods at the end of sentences. It was still a fine read, but I did think about it as I read, which means that lack of punctuation was minimally distracting. I didn't remember the writer, which was probably the reason for doing it.
          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
            I wouldn't worry about it. If someone is offended, why would you care? My daughter is 18 and she uses, "ur," "ikr," and other shorthands. Not worried that we'll see that in any kind of textbook, novels, news, or screenplays.

            I did read an annual black list script recently that didn't have periods at the end of sentences. It was still a fine read, but I did think about it as I read, which means that lack of punctuation was minimally distracting. I didn't remember the writer, which was probably the reason for doing it.
            Hi finalact, which script was it, out of curiosity? I know Nightcrawler took some liberties with what's considered standard screenplay formatting, and I personally loved it.

            Comment


            • #7
              I have to correct myself. I found the script and it is actually one of my favorites. It's funny because when I think of this this script I didn't remember that it didn't have punctuation. But I do recall reading a script without punctuation. Strange...

              COBWEB written by CHRIS THOMAS DEVLIN

              It is a creepy, very well written horror story that is similar in style to Walter Hill's ALIEN. Most paragraphs are a single line. And still, it's tight. That in itself is a lesson in economy.

              If you need more PM me.

              And to clarify, the lack of punctuation is only in the action lines.
              "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Anagram View Post

                Hi finalact, which script was it, out of curiosity? I know Nightcrawler took some liberties with what's considered standard screenplay formatting, and I personally loved it.
                Could you cite an example or two (or three 🙂)?

                I am a believer in standard formatting (with flexibility for difficult or unusual situations).

                "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ComicBent View Post

                  Could you cite an example or two (or three 🙂)?

                  I am a believer in standard formatting (with flexibility for difficult or unusual situations).
                  I'm sure Anagram will jump in at some point soon, but Gilroy used large bold text in various instances for signs, banner text on a TV screen and in particular on page 34, for example, he used exceeding larger and ever "growing in size" font to emphasis stronger & more intense words a character is looking at. Very unconventional.

                  From page 34:

                  KILLING ...
                  VICTIM ...
                  SHATTERED ...
                  BLOODY ...
                  BOTCHED ...
                  SCREAMS ...
                  KNIFE ...
                  BRAINS ...
                  OFF-DUTY ...
                  CRAZED ...
                  Will
                  Done Deal Pro
                  www.donedealpro.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                    I have to correct myself. I found the script and it is actually one of my favorites. It's funny because when I think of this script I didn't remember that it didn't have punctuation . . . And to clarify, the lack of punctuation is only in the action lines.
                    If I had a script like this in my hands, and I wanted to use it, I would have two options:
                    1. Give the script back to him for correction; or
                    2. Rewrite the script myself (which I would almost certainly do).
                    The fact that a script gets translated to the screen in the form of action and dialogue, without audience knowledge of the script, is no excuse for submitting a spew of words and phrases. Punctuation evolved from a need for clarity and order. It is not the product of some sexually frustrated eighth-grade English teacher with a pencil stuck through her hair bun.

                    "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Done Deal Pro View Post

                      I'm sure Anagram will jump in at some point soon, but Gilroy used large bold text in various instances for signs, banner text on a TV screen and in particular on page 34, for example, he used exceeding larger and ever "growing in size" font to emphasis stronger & more intense words a character is looking at. Very unconventional.

                      From page 34:

                      KILLING ...
                      VICTIM ...
                      SHATTERED ...
                      BLOODY ...
                      BOTCHED ...
                      SCREAMS ...
                      KNIFE ...
                      BRAINS ...
                      OFF-DUTY ...
                      CRAZED ...
                      Wow! Yeah, that's pretty unconventional. But that is how he wanted to do it.

                      I am not opposed to flexibility or even unconventionality if they help and are not needlessly distracting. Honestly, I do not think that what he did here would meet those criteria, but ultimately it is the writer's choice. I think that some writers "break the rules" (and there are no rules, we all know) because they want to be rebellious and want to flaunt their rebellion in an adolescent manner. I am also thinking here of that old observation, "Whom are you trying to impress?" I think that in many cases the honest answer would be, "Myself."

                      "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        An example...

                        PARENT’S ROOM

                        EYES stare back Peter, illuminated by the hallway light

                        THE CAT glares at him from the foot of the bed

                        He ignores it and slowly, cautiously walks to the side of the
                        bed where


                        His MOTHER sleeps

                        Peter gently tugs on her bedsheet

                        But she remains asleep

                        So he places his hand on her shoulder and shakes her

                        Finally, she opens her eyes and sees her son silhouetted by
                        the hallway light


                        MOTHER
                        Peter?

                        PETER
                        Can I sleep with you?

                        Silence

                        MOTHER
                        What’s wrong?

                        Peter hesitates

                        He looks to the hallway, then back to his Mother

                        PETER
                        I heard something.
                        ************************************************** ****************
                        I break the rules all the time. I've used different fonts to designate a stylize signature you WOULD see on screen. I've used cascading indented descriptions to create suspense, building to a moment like a jump scare.

                        And you're right, ComicBent, the honest answer is I do it because I want to, and it establishes MY vision. I do hope it affects the reader the same way it affects me.

                        That's the idea, anyway.
                        FA4
                        Last edited by finalact4; 12-05-2020, 04:04 PM.
                        "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                          An example...

                          PARENT’S ROOM

                          EYES stare back Peter, illuminated by the hallway light

                          THE CAT glares at him from the foot of the bed

                          He ignores it and slowly, cautiously walks to the side of the

                          bed where

                          His MOTHER sleeps

                          Peter gently tugs on her bedsheet

                          But she remains asleep

                          So he places his hand on her shoulder and shakes her

                          Finally, she opens her eyes and sees her son silhouetted by

                          the hallway light

                          MOTHER
                          Peter?

                          PETER
                          Can I sleep with you?

                          Silence

                          MOTHER
                          What’s wrong?

                          Peter hesitates

                          He looks to the hallway, then back to his Mother

                          PETER
                          I heard something.
                          ************************************************** ****************
                          I am curious about this quote. Was this copied and pasted as it is with the partial sentences and gaps, or were the parts between the dialog all one paragraph?
                          If it is verbatim what it looked like in the script, I would worry the writer was trying to "fill the script"; in other words, trying to stretch the pages to a feature length requirement because they didn't have enough content by adding gaps between each sentence and breaking up a single sentence into 2 lines with a gap between.

                          If I were a manager/agent, I would worry about a script that was filled with this style of writing because to me it looks like the writer doesn't have enough confidence in themselves to fill each page with writing and instead tries to lengthen the script by putting a lot of gaps and short sentences and partial sentences to make space like the above quoted example. Sort of like when kids used to have to write a 5 page paper in school and some would write huge so it would take up the same amount of pages with less writing.

                          I personally am the type of writer where I fill each page with writing, and not just writing just so I have something there, I make sure everything belongs in the script. But I know each writer has their own style and I am not trying to shame or say anything ugly about whoever wrote the script that the example was quoted from. Just giving my own opinion.

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                          • #14
                            If I were a manager/agent, I would worry about a script that was filled with this style of writing because to me it looks like the writer doesn't have enough confidence in themselves to fill each page with writing and instead tries to lengthen the script by putting a lot of gaps and short sentences and partial sentences to make space like the above quoted example. Sort of like when kids used to have to write a 5 page paper in school and some would write huge so it would take up the same amount of pages with less writing.
                            Well, you'd be wrong.

                            This was the #9 script on the 2018 Annual Black List with 29 votes. This is exactly how sparse a writer could be to be very successful. It's a very good screenplay. It's all about the story. I think more people would agree with me that it takes a confident writer to know that they can execute a story with so few words and paragraphs. It's exactly what Walter Hill did with Alien.

                            A screenwriter's goal should never be to "fill a page with writing." That's the antithesis of screenwriting.

                            This is exactly how it appears on the page.

                            This writer is repped by Bellevue. He has 2 agents from UTA. Lionsgate is the financier and it is currently in production, so a few people in the industry disagree with you-- something to consider perhaps? It's really all about the story, not the writing. That's the bottom line.


                            PE: you're right, though. I did fix the dialogue because it auto-filled a space between the name and the actual dialogie. I highlighted the two paragraphs that auto-filled a space between the first and second line of the same paragraph.
                            Last edited by finalact4; 12-05-2020, 04:18 PM.
                            "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by finalact4 View Post

                              Well, you'd be wrong.

                              This was the #9 script on the 2018 Annual Black List with 29 votes. This is exactly how sparse a writer could be to be very successful. It's a very good screenplay. It's all about the story. I think more people would agree with me that it takes a confident writer to know that they can execute a story with so few words and paragraphs. It's exactly what Walter Hill did with Alien.

                              A screenwriter's goal should never be to "fill a page with writing." That's the antithesis of screenwriting.

                              This is exactly how it appears on the page.

                              This writer is repped by Bellevue. He has 2 agents from UTA. Lionsgate is the financier and it is currently in production, so a few people in the industry disagree with you-- something to consider perhaps? It's really all about the story, not the writing. That's the bottom line.


                              PE: you're right, though. I did fix the dialogue because it auto-filled a space between the name and the actual dialogie. I highlighted the two paragraphs that auto-filled a space between the first and second line of the same paragraph.
                              I appreciate your response, although to just come out and say I am wrong is not the best way to respond. As I said in my post, it is my opinion and I even said I was not trying to shame or hurt anyone's feelings. Plus, I would never just out and out tell someone they are flat wrong, that is rude.

                              Yes, Walter Hill did a great job writing Alien with few descriptions, however, he did use punctuation and complete sentences where needed. He would not, did not break a sentence apart in the middle for no reason.

                              Case in point from the example you posted with high praise:

                              "He ignores it and slowly, cautiously walks to the side of the

                              bed where

                              His MOTHER sleeps"

                              Why is this sentence broken into three parts? There is no reason for this.

                              Here is an excerpt from Hill's Alien script:
                              FADE IN:

                              EXTREME CLOSEUPS OF FLICKERING INSTRUMENT PANELS. Readouts and digital
                              displays pulse eerily with the technology of the distant future.

                              Wherever we are, it seems to be chill, dark, and sterile. Electronic
                              machinery chuckles softly to itself.

                              Abruptly we hear a BEEPING SIGNAL, and the machinery begins to awaken.
                              Circuits close, lights blink on.

                              CAMERA ANGLES GRADUALLY WIDEN, revealing more and more of the
                              machinery, banks of panels, fluttering gauges, until we reveal:

                              INTERIOR - HYPERSLEEP VAULT

                              A stainless steel room with no windows, the walls packed with
                              instrumentation. The lights are dim and the air is frigid.

                              Occupying most of the floor space are rows of horizontal FREEZER
                              COMPARTMENTS, looking for all the world like meat lockers.

                              FOOM! FOOM! FOOM! With explosions of escaping gas, the lids on the
                              freezers pop open.

                              As you can see he uses full sentences and punctuation, but even when he uses partial sentences they make sense and have meaning. This is what I am talking about.

                              I do agree with you that story matters, however, format matters as well. As far as your opinion that filling the page with writing is the antitheses of screenwriting, that is your opinion but I tend to disagree with you on that. Screenwriters should write, not hint around at what they are trying to convey within the story. When you read Hill's script, you are there. You can feel the cold, you can hear the machinery, etc.

                              There are many screenwriters who put a lot more into their scripts and there is nothing wrong about this. Quentin Tarantino, whether you like his films or not, is an example. When you read one of his scripts, like Inglorious Basterds, you are there. You feel the sun, you smell the grass on the farm, you feel the palpable tension within the words on the page. Just like story matters, words matter as well for they are the story.

                              Plus, as far as me being wrong about managers/agents passing on a script with broken sentences, no punctuation, etc., I know several that will stop reading a script if they get to one typo not to mention formatting/structure issues. But, I am sure that there are some that would be fine repping someone who writes so sparsely they break sentences apart with gaps.

                              In my opinion, comparing a very, very sparsely written script with a Walter Hill script, is like comparing a singer who uses auto-tune to Freddie Mercury. The auto-tune singer may be popular and raking in the money, but take the auto-tune away and you get flat and sharp off-key notes with no artistry. You take away everything else around Freddie and he could still belt it out beautifully.

                              Walter HIll's" sparseness" is still very well rounded and a world that you can almost touch, feel, hear, smell, etc. There is a difference between writing a script with only a few words and writing one using a few well chosen words.

                              Each to his own and I always wish for each screenwriter to have their stories told and their characters come to life.
                              To quote the Klingons.....Q'aplah!

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