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This week's question

Do I have to worry about commas when I write a screenplay?

T.B.


This week's Answer: 

Counting and Counting on Commas

Yes, T.B., you do. And not only commas, but watch out for those periods and sneaky semicolons; not to mention those exclamation points that will get you every time. And keep your eyes trained up above for those quotation marks. Single and double.  And I'm not even going to talk about the colon that will take you out at a moment's notice. And definitely don't be "hooked" by a question mark or you'll never get out alive.

The truth is you will need some punctuation to help the reader understand your sentences and dialogue, but the comma is disappearing and is being used much more sparingly in screenplays (and novels) these days. The semi-colon is almost extinct. A good rule of thumb for when to use commas is, if you read a line of description or dialogue  and even you don't understand what you just wrote...

...you might need a comma.

Doug Herman

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