An excerpt from my script review for Manchester by the Sea which will be available 12/06/16:

5.) Format

.00025% of the human population has a disorder with their Corpus Callosum, the part of the brain that connects both hemispheres.

When we read half of our brain absorbs the information, then sends it to the other half to be digested.

People without this connection don’t think that way, and in some savant cases, like Kim Peek who was the basis for Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, a person is able to speed read using the right eye to read the right page, and left eye on the left.

Dual reading, essentially.

Why do I bring this up?

With such a large percentage of the population NOT being able to read two pages (or columns of text) simultaneously, why in the Hell would you want to overburden your reader?

You want your script to be a streamlined read, providing easily absorbed information, NOT forcing a reader to decipher two individual columns of dialogue and how/where the characters are talking over one another.

This script was a decent 113 pages, but arguably a third (if not half) of the dialogue was set up as dual dialogue, which if broken out appropriately, would have bumped that up past 140 pages.

(*Professional guesstimate by yours truly.)

There are certain techniques or styles we’re told not to do, and if we must, use them sparingly, but this script throws that logic right out the window with a big old, “Fuck You!”

“But my characters are talking over and interrupting each other!”

Really? This 90 minute movie is going to have 60 minutes in it of people constantly talking over each other?

Yeah, that won’t get old.

(Not having seen the actual movie, I’m assuming this was all cleaned up. My argument is in reference to us, the writers yet to be discovered! We shouldn’t emulate this style.)

And interrupting? There’s a standard way of doing that, using two hyphens and then the interrupting character speaking below in a separate entry of dialogue.

Two benefits there. Whitespace AND the reader mentally digested the scene easily.

This is a professional writer we’re talking about here too, not my 10 year old son who suddenly discovered Final Draft has a “dual dialogue” feature, using it every chance he can, but based on the script you couldn’t tell the difference.

Don’t believe me? Find the script and jump to page 34, reading the argument that happens between Lee and a family blocking the road with their car.

If that doesn’t twist your brain into a knot and make you want to throw the script out, then pray you find professional readers with as much patience to read your spec script if it contains this kind of overly complex filler.

Using cheap parlor tricks (like dual dialogue) doesn’t make you smart, writing a compelling story does.

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