Breaking up dialogue and voice over by the same character in the same scene



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  • Breaking up dialogue and voice over by the same character in the same scene

    Hey there. I'm looking for advice on how to execute dialogue spoken by one character preceding voice over spoken by that same character in the same scene.

    It feels weird to write something like:

    I'm stumped.

    IRWIN (V.O.)
    You could say that again.

    But it also feels weird to always add a line of directive in there to break it up? Is it even necessary?

    I know there are no hard and fast rules, but could def benefit from some points of view.

    Last edited by irwinpfletcher; 01-02-2021, 03:44 PM.

  • #2
    What you have there is more or less what I'd do. It's as straightforward an approach that I can think of.

    I'd also say breaking it up is on the more necessary side because it offers clarity. Combining in-scene dialogue with voiceover in the same line of dialogue sounds too messy and potentially confusing for the reader.


    • #3
      Hi irwinpfletcher, I agree with Prezzy, no need to overthink this. The way you have it above won't bother any reader, and will help with the clarity.


      • #4
        The way that you did this in the first post works fine, and in fact it is the best way to handle the situation unless you have a real need for an action line between the two instances of dialogue.

        That was a good question, because people who are new to screenwriting really do worry about this kind of thing.

        A good principle: Don't worry so much as long as everything makes good sense.
        Last edited by ComicBent; 01-03-2021, 01:40 PM. Reason: I can never get it right the first time.

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


        • #5
          Irwin, that's exactly how I did it in a show I created about hearing the inner thoughts of the characters, and no one was ever confused.

          If it's a device you use throughout, you can set it up with a short stage direction the first time you hear your character's thoughts. Something like:

          Of course I know how to use that.

          But while he's saying that, he's thinking:

          JOHN (V.O.)
          Which end do I even hold?!