Many thanks to Bang2writer Mohammed, who’s been in contact this week with this writing-related query:
Can I ask how to format this correctly: someone is reading a letter out loud, and the voice of the letter writer cuts in to finish the letter. I’ve done plenty of hunting around but I haven’t found anything on it.
Like many screenplay formatting questions beyond the non-negotiable ones (such as font, size, margins, etc) there’s NO fancy or specific way to signify an interruption in dialogue.
Instead, it’s more about ensuring the reader can follow. Nothing more, nothing less. So, with that in mind, I would probably do the above like this:
What’s more, you can use this whether people are in the room with the speaker, or if it’s a disembodied voice cutting in.
By the way – I see these two dashes A LOT these days, so I’d wager they’re ‘the norm’ to signify interruptions. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid parentheticals like ‘(cutting in)’ or lines of description for this wherever possible … It takes up needless space and may create useless script fillers.
IMPORTANT: Avoid ellipses (the ‘…’) altogether as this can mean ‘pause’ or a character losing their train of thought, etc.
For more on screenplay format, check out my epic rundown of the issues I see regularly and what to do about them in The B2W Format One Stop Shop.
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