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Question about Parentheticals

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Lalafulton View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 4:59pm
Hi all!

I am really enjoying reading through all of your scripts, there are some extremely talented writers here! 

I had a question about formatting. Some of you may have gotten this note from me on your script but I've noticed it in so many of the scripts I've been reading I thought I'd pose it to the group. My question is -

How does everyone here feel about using parentheticals and do the judges care about them at all?

Every single one of my teachers and mentors have always told me to only use them when absolutely necessary and if you are going to use them it should be to distinguish a bit of dialogue that could possibly be read multiple ways. For example when something is sarcasm or said specifically to one person etc. 

It's considered frowned upon to use parentheticals to describe action because they give direction to an actor, same way you wouldn't write camera movements in spec either. I myself forget about this sometimes and include them in my scripts by accident.

SO, I'm wondering if this is anything that you or the judges would care about. I'm obviously not an authority on screenwriting, far from it, so I don't want to nitpick if it's something that doesn't really matter. At the end of the day a good story can outshine formatting.

It's just one of those things that's been drilled into my brain and I'm having a hard time letting it go.

Okay, I'm gonna get back to reading all your amazing scripts!

- Chloe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vernacula Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 5:19pm
Hi, there! I try to use them very sparingly. In this particular contest the judges will ding you for overuse and misuse, so when I beta I do try to address parenthetical issues.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lalafulton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 7:06pm
Originally posted by Vernacula Vernacula wrote:

Hi, there! I try to use them very sparingly. In this particular contest the judges will ding you for overuse and misuse, so when I beta I do try to address parenthetical issues.

Oh so they judges do care about that? Okay great! That's good to know. 
I was starting to feel bad for zeroing in on this one thing but if it's actually helpful feedback I'll continue doing it.

Thanks for weighing in!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Scarlet Screenwriter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 7:26pm

I can't remember the last time I used a parenthetical ... even in a feature ... usually just when a character is speaking a foreign language or something ... otherwise, I'll refer to them in the preceding action text.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cheezopath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Nov 2017 at 9:47pm
If I need the character to do a thing while they're talking, I'll use one. It's fine to do this with regular action lines instead, especially if it's complex or detailed action. Honestly the most utility I get out of them is compressing the page length when I'm out of space. Like most things, someone telling you never to do something is probably wrong. Probably a case of less is more though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote linfin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Nov 2017 at 12:06pm
I agree with the 'more is less' approach. Usually I only use them when what a character says is slightly removed from their action. I use bold for emphasis more than stuff like (excited) (nervous) (happy). If it's an obvious inflection I leave them out. Let the actor do the work for you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote JeffreyHowe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Nov 2017 at 1:40pm
I use them in one of three ways:
Before dialogue
1) Non-standard line delivery that could not reasonably be deduced from context, or which is not up for debate: this can include shouts, whispers, stage whispers, sarcastic et al.
2) Indication the line is delivered to someone new to the conversation or otherwise not contextually obvious. This can also be mid-dialogue, which is a special case of 3.
Mid-dialogue
3) To provide a covering action for a beat, a la Screenwriter's Bible.

Generally I'm with linfin--if at all possible trust your actors (and director).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote NilesPerry Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Nov 2017 at 1:20am
Parentheticals are another form "directing on paper," essentially.

You're telling the director how to direct the actor, and you're telling the actor how to do his/her job.

 If used, they should be for very specific directions that the actor might not perceive from reading the rest of the script.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote hwoodwritr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2017 at 2:39pm
Most actors I know ignore parenthetical directions that are intended to tell them how to do their job. I was taught that if I have to do that I haven't developed the character well enough for the actor to figure it out. In one of my early classes the professor called me out when I had a female lead sobbing in a parenthetical. He said, "Suppose Meryl Streep decides to do your script? Are telling me that you are going to tell her how to act? Seriously?"
Right, Prof. Point taken.
I only use them for brief stage directions that are not apparent by a shift in the dialog or in the action lines. For example:
                                               JOHN
                          Jane I love you over the moon.
                                  (draws his pistol)
                          But you are driving me nuts.
In this example, I would only use the parenthetical if he was NOT going to shoot her. If he was going to  shoot her, I wouldn't telegraph it by showing him drawing the gun. Instead, the next action line would be:

BANG! Jane's eyes widen in shock and she collapses.

John holsters his pistol.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zblugg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2017 at 3:42pm
I'd like for someone, ANYONE, to remind me to come back and read this thread prior to starting Challenge 2, please.

Thanks.
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