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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Probably a stupid question but... Moderators: George Willson
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  Author    Probably a stupid question but...  (currently 381 views)
Tyler King
Posted: August 4th, 2017, 10:07pm Report to Moderator
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Is this formatted correctly for this particular piece of narrative action...?

"Towering corn stalks (merely ominous silhouettes in the pale moonlight) surround a Chevy Cruze parked on the cornfield's narrow dirt path."

My question would be about what is in between the parentheses. Or should it read, with commas, instead?

Or even - with dashes - instead...

Or maybe written in a completely different way altogether?

I hate that I'm so damn anal and nitpicky about screenwriting format. It's the damn OCD in me I swear. I mean - obviously it's a good thing (being aware of correct formatting)... TO AN EXTENT!! But sometimes I can get a little overboard and it drives me insane to the point where I'm literally going back and rewriting what I've just written, and spending HOURS, rather than progressing... I HATE THAT!

Or should I just stfu and write?

Arggg... SO frustrated.

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Tyler King  -  August 4th, 2017, 10:23pm
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Tyler King
Posted: August 4th, 2017, 10:19pm Report to Moderator
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And the only reason I'm asking this (somewhat) stupid question, is because I personally think it reads better with parentheses, but maybe that's just me. I just don't want to leave it like that if it's not correct format. But then again it seems like everyone kind of has their own format... to an extent. Blah.
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Warren
Posted: August 4th, 2017, 10:46pm Report to Moderator
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Definitely not brackets, I don't think they have any place in a screenplay other than in a wrylie.

I'd personally go with commas but I don't know if there is a right answer. Brackets really mess with the read though.


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Tyler King
Posted: August 4th, 2017, 11:08pm Report to Moderator
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Ok, see, glad I asked. The reason I used brackets at first is because it's not really SHOWING what is there, just showing what it LOOKS like, if that makes sense. But thank you for the advice.
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Anon
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 4:36am Report to Moderator
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Dashes are technically correct for adding information into a sentence. According to my ex-English english teacher dad anyway. So i'd write it like this -


Towering corn stalks - silhouettes in the moonlight - surround a Chevy Cruze parked on a narrow dirt path.



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Tyler King
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 7:34am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Anon
Dashes are technically correct for adding information into a sentence. According to my ex-English english teacher dad anyway. So i'd write it like this -


Towering corn stalks - silhouettes in the moonlight - surround a Chevy Cruze parked on a narrow dirt path.





Oh ok... well thank you. Would it be wrong with commas? It does take up a tad bit less space than the dashes. Like I said this is just one insignificant question out of all the millions, and more bigger ones, I'll come across over time. It just goes to show just how anal I am about correct grammar and format. Ugh.
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Dreamscale
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 9:09am Report to Moderator
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I agree with Warren completely - no parenthesis in screenwriting.

To be 100% clear in what you're trying to show, I might even write it so that it says something to the point that the towering corn stalks appear as silhouettes in the moonlight.


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eldave1
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 9:53am Report to Moderator
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I would not use parenthesis (and I mean that) in writing descriptions (because they serve as a distraction) when conveying a message



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Tyler King
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 12:49pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks, you guys. I really appreciate the help!
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Anon
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 5:53pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Tyler King


Oh ok... well thank you. Would it be wrong with commas? It does take up a tad bit less space than the dashes. Like I said this is just one insignificant question out of all the millions, and more bigger ones, I'll come across over time. It just goes to show just how anal I am about correct grammar and format. Ugh.


No one would blink an eyelid if you did use commas. And you could. But the dash method is supposedly specific for adding detail to a particular thing. And that is what you were doing. Wheras commas could be listing totally different things. For example -

He stares at the table - lacquered mahogany - and makes a decision.

Or

He examines the table, chair and plate then makes a decision.

But that's if you want to be anal and mostly there's no need IMO. If there's one format where technically correct grammer goes out the window it's a screenplay. Make it up as long as it flows. Most people reading it won't give two shits about you breaking the rules as long as it reads well.

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Tyler King
Posted: August 5th, 2017, 5:56pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks man!
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LC
Posted: August 6th, 2017, 4:59am Report to Moderator
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Yep, just write.  

Tyler, ditch the brackets, ditch the dashes. This is a screenplay so I'm not saying never use a dash, but go the commas for the majority.

Also, note the difference between screenplay formatting guidelines and grammar, and punctuation. You seem to be talking about punctuation and syntax (the construction and structure of a sentence) more than anything.

A character's dialogue can be choc-full of bad grammar btw.

NB: 'merely' and 'ominous' do not go together.

Try separating the images into shots in your head. What you've got there is all too much imh.

Keep it simple. Do we see it all at once? The sky, the corn fields, moon overhead, and the parked car?

Suggestion: Towering cornstalks, ominous in the pale moonlight OR: silhouetted in the moonlight.  

.......

By the by:

An emdash/en dash and ellipses are used for two different purposes in screenplays:

The dash interrupts dialogue below a:

BARRY
I'll have you know -

Barry lunges at Rick, his face beet-red. Rick eyeballs him.

RICK
You'll have me know what exactly?!

Similarly an abrupt stop in dialogue, broken with a dash can be caused by action - a slammed door, crack of thunder etc.

Ellipses are used for trailing off of thought:

BARRY
(to himself)
Jeez, a blind date. I dunno...

Barry stares at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, runs a hand through his hair.

Rick passes the doorway, gives him a friendly jab in the arm.

RICK
Chill out, mate. She'll be just as shit-scared as you are.

You may know this already. Just adding seeing as you were querying brackets, dashes, mid-sentence.


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Tyler King
Posted: August 6th, 2017, 6:49pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC
Yep, just write.  

Tyler, ditch the brackets, ditch the dashes. This is a screenplay so I'm not saying never use a dash, but go the commas for the majority.

Also, note the difference between screenplay formatting guidelines and grammar, and punctuation. You seem to be talking about punctuation and syntax (the construction and structure of a sentence) more than anything.

A character's dialogue can be choc-full of bad grammar btw.

NB: 'merely' and 'ominous' do not go together.

Try separating the images into shots in your head. What you've got there is all too much imh.

Keep it simple. Do we see it all at once? The sky, the corn fields, moon overhead, and the parked car?

Suggestion: Towering cornstalks, ominous in the pale moonlight OR: silhouetted in the moonlight.  

.......

By the by:

An emdash/en dash and ellipses are used for two different purposes in screenplays:

The dash interrupts dialogue below a:

BARRY
I'll have you know -

Barry lunges at Rick, his face beet-red. Rick eyeballs him.

RICK
You'll have me know what exactly?!

Similarly an abrupt stop in dialogue, broken with a dash can be caused by action - a slammed door, crack of thunder etc.

Ellipses are used for trailing off of thought:

BARRY
(to himself)
Jeez, a blind date. I dunno...

Barry stares at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, runs a hand through his hair.

Rick passes the doorway, gives him a friendly jab in the arm.

RICK
Chill out, mate. She'll be just as shit-scared as you are.

You may know this already. Just adding seeing as you were querying brackets, dashes, mid-sentence.


Yes I did know all of that, but thank you!! I really appreciate the reply/help!
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Ares
Posted: August 7th, 2017, 12:04am Report to Moderator
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"Towering corn stalks, merely ominous silhouettes in the pale moonlight, surround a Chevy Cruze parked on the cornfield's narrow dirt path."
I get the picture just fine. I would say 100% filmable.
But on the other hand, I am a crazy guy with Synesthesia, so...
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CameronD
Posted: August 7th, 2017, 6:57pm Report to Moderator
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Silhouettes in the moonlight, tall corn stalks surround a Chevy Cruze on a narrow dirt path.

As others have said, () are a no no. Try to work your visualization into the description as best you can.


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