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Dialogue Placement Question

Discussion in 'Basics' started by itlc82, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. itlc82

    itlc82 Bronze Member

    If I want to describe a character's actions while the character is in dialogue, does the descriptor go before or after the dialogue in question?

    For example:

    Johnny grinned as he spoke through clenched teeth. His eyes were narrowing into a threatening glare while sweat dripped from his nose.

    BLACKJACK JOHNNY
    I've never killed a man, Renzo. No,
    I make sure they all live. So they can
    tell their kids what terror looks like.


    Is the description of Johnny supposed to occur before or after he speaks to Renzo?

    (New poster lesson 1: Indentation doesn't work. Sorry!)

    Thanks for your help!
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
  2. HollywoodScribe

    HollywoodScribe Bronze Member

    You can put it before.

    The harsh truth is, by the time the script is in the hands of the actors, on set, under the direction of the director, the specific facial expressions will not really matter. If you feel you must include such details you can. And it might be better to put them before the dialogue just as you have it in your example. Try it after. Then come back to the script after a few weeks and see if it works for you that way.

    There are no "rules" for this - this is the choice of the writer.
  3. www9370

    www9370 Bronze Member

    I agree, but before works good for me in most cases...
  4. stijnhommes

    stijnhommes Bronze Member

    I would post such descriptions before the dialog. It makes things easier for the actor and that is what the script should really be all about.
  5. HollywoodScribe

    HollywoodScribe Bronze Member

    I respectfully disagree.

    The script will go through many drafts and changes before an actor reads it. The script should be written for the first readers; the "reader" who covers it, the agents, the producers, the director.

    If the direction, "Johnny grinned as he spoke through clenched teeth. His eyes were narrowing into a threatening glare while sweat dripped from his nose." was not there at all, the actor will still make a choice how to deliver the line and how to use his mouth and eyes.
  6. stijnhommes

    stijnhommes Bronze Member

    The original question was whether these descriptions should go before or after dialog. Whether it should be there at all is a whole different question, which I feel should probably be covered elsewhere. (I do agree with you, that usually actors can make a pretty solid decision based on the lines.)
  7. ed earp

    ed earp Bronze Member

    Hi I'm Ed

    Yes the description occurs before the dialogue.

    There is no real need to describe everything in detail. Its up to you but i don't see any real need to do this.

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