Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

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  • Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

    I have two situations:

    #1

    A guy is walking out of a bar with someone and he wants to call out to a friend to follow them, so I just write:

    "Guy #1 and Guy #2 start for the door. As they are passing the bar, Guy #1 calls out to Guy #3 to follow them."

    Is that ok, or do I have to actually format it as dialogue?

    #2

    The other situation I have is that one guy is talking for a long time to Guy #2 and in the midst of this looong bit of dialogue he just says sorry to Guy #3 and I put that into action. Like this:

    Guy #1
    (to Guy #2)
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue

    As Guy #3 joins the group, Guy #1 turns to him and gives him a quick "sorry," then turns back to Guy #2 and continues.

    Guy #1
    (cont'd)
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
    dialogue, dialogue, dialogue

    Again, is that ok, or should I format the sorry as dialogue?

  • #2
    Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

    Whatever leaves the lips should be in dialogue, except for grunts or groans or whimpers or screams etc.

    Occasionally, I'll put in "she mutters indistinctly" in description, but that's it. That is, how would you write it, otherwise? "mmsssdddssmmm"?

    Also, you can put "he nods" (acquiesces) in description, instead of a dialogue of "Okay".

    But we can't be afraid of dialogue or description or any elements of a script; I say that as a writer who's notorious in trying to find ways to shorten everything.

    But each element is an opportunity to do something wonderful and amazing!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

      I wouldn't exactly call either of those dialogue examples "inconsequential".

      Guy #1 calling out to Guy #3 to follow them has, presumably, the actual consequence of Guy #3 following them. Also, there's myriad ways to ask someone to follow, so how it's to be said needs to be written - not least for it to fit with the character of Guy #1, and the nature of his realtionship with Guy #3.

      In the second situation - where Guy #1 says "sorry" to Guy #3 - surely it's significant enough (to his character, and their relationship) for it to be written as dialogue? And I'm wondering what exactly is his reason for saying it? So perhaps a parenthetical could be useful?
      Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
      "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

        Originally posted by Dimitri001 View Post
        I have two situations:

        #1

        A guy is walking out of a bar with someone and he wants to call out to a friend to follow them, so I just write:

        "Guy #1 and Guy #2 start for the door. As they are passing the bar, Guy #1 calls out to Guy #3 to follow them."

        Is that ok, or do I have to actually format it as dialogue?

        #2

        The other situation I have is that one guy is talking for a long time to Guy #2 and in the midst of this looong bit of dialogue he just says sorry to Guy #3 and I put that into action. Like this:

        Guy #1
        (to Guy #2)
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue

        As Guy #3 joins the group, Guy #1 turns to him and gives him a quick "sorry," then turns back to Guy #2 and continues.

        Guy #1
        (cont'd)
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
        dialogue, dialogue, dialogue

        Again, is that ok, or should I format the sorry as dialogue?
        Here again to ask basic questions whose answers you can obtain from the Internet or a rewarding book? No one can spoon-feed you everything you need to know about these things; at some point, you have to do some work of your own to learn them.

        The answer to your questions here is “Dialogue.” If a character says it (and there needs to be an excellent reason for it), then it goes in the script as Dialogue. That is a basic Screenwriting 101 lesson. If the dialogue you want to include is “inconsequential,” then why are you including it as dialogue? Besides that, how else will an actor know where are their lines of dialogue in the script?

        The answer to all of your screenwriting questions is: “Study screenwriting—on the Internet or from courses, read books on screenwriting, and read all the scripts you can find, produced and unproduced.”
        Last edited by TigerFang; 05-24-2020, 08:06 PM.
        "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

          Originally posted by TigerFang View Post
          Here again to ask basic questions whose answers you can obtain from the Internet or a rewarding book? No one can spoon-feed you everything you need to know about these things; at some point, you have to do some work of your own to learn them.
          The thread the OP is posting in is literally called BASICS, so I'm not sure you can fault him for that.

          That said, I do agree with the gist of what Tiger's saying: like everyone else that writes scripts, READING SCRIPTS will help you absorb basic information in a manner that will help as you write. This is Scott Meyers site where you can download scripts to read. https://gointothestory.blcklst.com/s...s-9313356d361c

          This is John August's screenwriting io info where you can look up formatting stuff. https://screenwriting.io/

          Or someone mentioned Dave Trottier's formatting book too, in another thread. That's also good.

          Trying to write with only the barest of knowledge means you are making things harder than they have to be. Take the time to read some stuff. This is a marathon not a sprint.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

            Originally posted by Dimitri001 View Post
            I have two situations:

            #1

            A guy is walking out of a bar with someone and he wants to call out to a friend to follow them, so I just write:

            "Guy #1 and Guy #2 start for the door. As they are passing the bar, Guy #1 calls out to Guy #3 to follow them."

            Is that ok, or do I have to actually format it as dialogue?
            Guy #1 and Guy #2 pass by Guy #3 at the bar as they walk to the door.

            Guy #1
            (to Guy #3)
            You. Come with us.

            The three guys go out the door.


            Originally posted by Dimitri001 View Post
            #2

            The other situation I have is that one guy is talking for a long time to Guy #2 and in the midst of this looong bit of dialogue he just says sorry to Guy #3 and I put that into action. Like this:

            Guy #1
            (to Guy #2)
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue

            As Guy #3 joins the group, Guy #1 turns to him and gives him a quick "sorry," then turns back to Guy #2 and continues.

            Guy #1
            (cont'd)
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue
            dialogue, dialogue, dialogue

            Again, is that ok, or should I format the sorry as dialogue?
            Guy #1 speaks to Guy #2.

            GUY #1
            Blah, blah, blah. Blather, blather, blather.

            Guy #3 walks up to Guy #1 and Guy #2.

            Guy #1
            Blah, blather, blah, blather --
            (to Guy #3)
            Sorry. A minute?
            (back to Guy #2)
            Blah, blah, blather, blather.

            As a rule, parentheticals aren’t my first choice, but here, they work.

            Look at your thread in “Writers & Scripts”. There’s a good script suggestion I’ve posted there for you to see how this type of dialogue is handled in a screenplay. Look for a scene early on where the crew are talking over one another and there’s no dialogue for it until the Captain squelches their heated discussion.
            Last edited by TigerFang; 07-07-2020, 12:04 PM.
            "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

              Dialogue is dialogue. It is formatted as such.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                The only time I do it (and even this may be once or twice a script) is if we are hearing some random words or phrases being shouted out in a crowd by some unidentified person in the crowd. Where it's more action-y than a specific line attributable to a character who is appearing onscreen to speak it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                  LIBRARIAN
                  You want all the material requested
                  by the White House?

                  PULL BACK TO REVEAL

                  WOODWARD and BERNSTEIN standing there. The nod. One of them
                  maybe says "yessir," the other maybe "please." The LIBRARIAN
                  moves out of his office into a corridor. They go with him.
                  No one else is around. The LIBRARIAN looks at them, quickly--

                  LIBRARIAN
                  All White House transactions are
                  confidential.

                  from "All the President's Men" (1976) by William Goldman.
                  Check out the results of the Valentine's Day short script contest in Writing Exercises forum

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                    dpaterso - How the heck are you able to recall an example such as that?

                    It's interesting to see that William Goldman couldn't always punctuate correctly.

                    Someone should re-imagine Woodward and Bernstein as avenging superheroes in this Trumpian era.
                    Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                    "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                      Originally posted by Crayon View Post
                      dpaterso - How the heck are you able to recall an example such as that?
                      Beginner's luck!

                      It's interesting to see that William Goldman couldn't always punctuate correctly.
                      Given the era, I'd say there's a high possibility that's a transcript, someone else retyped it.

                      Someone should re-imagine Woodward and Bernstein as avenging superheroes in this Trumpian era.
                      Bob Woodward's still doing his best to expose incompetence and corruption in the White House.
                      Check out the results of the Valentine's Day short script contest in Writing Exercises forum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                        LIBRARIAN
                        You want all the material requested
                        by the White House?

                        PULL BACK TO REVEAL

                        WOODWARD and BERNSTEIN standing there. The nod. One of them
                        maybe says "yessir," the other maybe "please." The LIBRARIAN
                        moves out of his office into a corridor. They go with him.
                        No one else is around. The LIBRARIAN looks at them, quickly--

                        LIBRARIAN
                        All White House transactions are
                        confidential.
                        Hmm ... I don't see any punctuation problems here. The comma before *quickly* is not necessary, but I would not quarrel over it.

                        *The nod* is probably supposed to be *They nod*.

                        The quotes "yessir" and "please" are not direct quotations of someone speaking and do not require an introductory comma or colon.

                        The use of the comma and period inside the final quotation mark ("yessir," and "period."), even when the quoted material is only a portion of the sentence, is the American standard. Personally, I do not like it, but that is the way it is. The British standard is to type "yessir", and "period". (assuming that you use American double quotes).

                        I do not see any other possible issues.

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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                          ComicBent - My comment on punctuation was only regarding that comma and that period being inside the closing quotation marks. I was not aware that that's the American standard. It's certainly a curious one. Objectively, it makes no sense.

                          I suppose that the comma before *quickly--*, unless it's got there erroneously, is so that the *quickly--* applies to the delivery of the dialogue with the *look*, rather than to the speed of the *look*. The double-hyphen right after *quickly* also suggests the same.
                          Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                          "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                            My comment on punctuation was only regarding that comma and that period being inside the closing quotation marks. I was not aware that that's the American standard. It's certainly a curious one.
                            Yeah, that is what I thought you meant.

                            You are correct that it is a peculiar standard. I do not like it, and I avoid it by either italicizing individual words instead of putting them into quotes, or by following the British or other European practices (with an explanatory note about what I am doing).

                            Consequently, for the standard American:

                            That famous word was "rosebud."

                            I might write any of the following:

                            That famous word was rosebud.

                            That famous word was «rosebud». (French)

                            That famous word was »rosebud«. (German)
                            That famous word was "rosebud". (German)

                            In the nonfiction book that I am currently writing, I use the French quotes and keep the periods and commas outside the quotation marks in such circumstances.

                            The simplest answer to the problem would be for me to use the British system of putting periods and commas outside the quotes when the quote is only a part of the whole sentence. But I prefer not to use the British system because people who know the American system would think that I am ignorant of the correct.

                            A great many years ago I taught English at the university level. My students invariably were puzzled by the American standard, and some even tried to argue with me by pointing out that the quote was only part of the sentence and that it made no sense to put punctuation inside that final quotation mark. But that is just how it is.

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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Can brief, inconsequential dialogue be put into action?

                              ComicBent - Thanks for the clarification. My apologies to Mr Goldman.

                              I'm wondering if the American standard means that there could be times when it's unclear if a complete or partial sentence is being quoted, eg:

                              [American standard] Officer Doolally pulled out his gun and said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock." Then he smirked, slowly raised the gun and said: "And there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can." Thank heavens, his threat was cut short as a paddle steamer fell on him.

                              [British standard] Officer Doolally pulled out his gun and said: "I'm gonna shoot you dead, Miss Poppycock,". Then he smirked, slowly raised the gun and said: "and there ain't a goddam thing that anyone can". Thank heavens, his threat was cut short as a paddle steamer fell on him.
                              Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
                              "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

                              Comment

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