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Home » Archives » August 2006 » It's Advice
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08/15/2006: It's Advice

I have a friend who is a wonderful screenwriter. The dialogue sparkles, the stories glisten, the jokes are sharp and the emotions strong. So what pulls me out of it every time? Apostrophes. I know it seems trivial, but I think the incorrect placement of apostrophes drives many of us crazy. Am I right? Show of hands.

Here's the problem, of course. We all know that apostrophes mark possessives. So why isn't "it's toy" correct? It all seems so counterintuitive.

Well, here's the insight that finally helped me. Think of possessive "its" as the ungendered version of "his" and "her." Note that they don't have apostrophes either! It's a set! An unapostrophed set!

In fact, throw "your" in there too! Now you won't get it mixed up with "you're"! And... look! "Their" -- that's a possessive pronoun too, and there's no apostrophe! Now you won't spell it "they're"! It's not random! It's consistent!

I have no idea why more teachers don't teach it this way. I find it very illuminating.

Double check your apostrophes and other punctuation pitfalls before you turn in any spec. Crazy as it seems, it will be worth the effort. Nothing will get between the reader and the script.

Carry on.

Lunch: escargot and a butter lettuce salad. Mmmm.

P.S. I got the most wonderful note and Tshirt from Steven at the great Spamusement.com site! Thanks so much!


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