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Home » Archives » July 2007 » Taking a Look at Your Appendix
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07/30/2007: Taking a Look at Your Appendix

I talk a lot about how important it is to learn from the examples provided by produced scripts. In fact, I think studying their structure is a much better way to learn structure than learning a bunch of rules is. It's like learning a language for the first time. No one ever shows a baby a list of rules and then asks them to produce grammatical sentences based on them. Instead, babies are given lots of example sentences and, when they make their own, they do so based on what they've heard. The rules don't predate the language, they're extracted from the language later.

However, there are a few things that are included in produced scripts that you won't want to put in your spec: cast lists and set lists, primarily. And, every now and then, you will come across a produced script with an appendix. This is almost always done in a very specific situation. Sometimes you will need, say, a news broadcast to run in the background under a scene, or a speech that rambles on behind your main characters as they talk. All of this dialogue needs to be written for the purposes of production, of course, even though it is not the main auditory focus of the scene. Often, it gets written out and attached to the back of the script as an appendix, or on pages labeled "additional dialogue." (By the way, writing stuff like this is a kind of secret joy for me, since it's a chance to be a writing chameleon, emulating newscaster-speak or politician-speak for paragraphs on end.)

You don't need to do this for a spec. Ever. You can simply indicate that the broadcast plays on, or the speaker drones on, without giving the content until perhaps a specific line catches a main character's attention. If the speech is important, of course, you can use dual dialogue to get it into the main body of the script, although this should be used sparingly.

Just like a real appendix, a script appendix just isn't that necessary, and should be cut out.

Lunch: chilled cucumber salad, Vietnamese summer rolls


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