Monday, March 1, 2010

Old School Rules

Recently, I was corrected for correcting a script's format because the writer didn't put (CONT'D) next to a character's name when their dialog was split by action or description instead of another character's dialog. For instance (and forgive the poor alignment but you get the drift),

It was the best of times.

An arrow flies through the window and thunks into the door near Tom's head.


It was the worst of times.

Apparently, it's old school now to include the (CONT'D). Ok, fashions change, times change, whatever. Here's the thing: the reason to put (CONT'D) is so that the director, the producer, the actors and the readers know that it's the same person talking without interruption. It's an easy way to be sure that you haven't skipped a line of dialog somewhere by accident. It also confirms that the writer hasn't made a mistake and accidentally mislabeled a line of dialog meant for someone else. The down side? It forces the writer to type 8 more characters. Wait, that's not exactly right. Most script writing programs do it automatically. In fact, to turn it off is an extra step so the argument that it's more work falls short.

Virtually all of the good pilot scripts that I've read this year include the (CONT'D). As a part of the script format, it makes sense, it helps the production crew and it doesn't cost the writer anything. If there's a reason NOT to do it, please respond and let me know, I'm dying to hear it.

Bottom line, if it's good enough for Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, it's good enough for me.