3

When writing a script where you have two (or more) people talking at the same time, how is that formatted? Side-by-side columns? Some other vertical grouping? Notes? Does it vary?

Examples would be most helpful.

5

There are a number of variations that are recommended in various on-line screenwriting guides, including side-by-side or linearly but using a directive like 'during'

At Story Sense they say

When writing dialogue in two columns to indicate simultaneous speeches, the left margin of the first dialogue column must be inset slightly. It must not start in the same column as the action or description margin.

That is all the information they give (no examples).

Screenwriting.io just says that most screenwriting editing software will format it for you as side-by-side.

When two characters are talking at the same time, it is referred to as “dual dialogue,” and the two speakers’ text blocks go side-by-side.

Most screenwriting programs have an option for this.

Again no examples.

At Screenwriting Goldmine, they suggest using 'during this' as a directive to the following dialog to say that it should be spoken simultaneously.

Lazy Bee Scripts says to use 'at the same time' and gives an example:

Eric: (At the same time as Jane.) Come on, Jane, you've known for weeks that he was coming, there's no point in making a fuss, just relax and let's hear what he has to say.

Jane: (At the same time as Eric.) He can't come in. Not with you here, Fred. You've got to do something. Anything! Get in the cupboard!

None of these looks like a satisfying explanation to me.

3

Side by side dialog. The screenwriting programs have a command to move selected paragraphs from inline to side by side. Very straightforward.

1

I've seen this done either as a directive in the dialog, or as an action description beforehand. It's such a rare case though, that I'd be surprised if there was a clear standard for it. I haven't seen the side by side column thing out in the wild, but I'd wager the meaning would also be pretty clear if I did.

So, I've seen:

                        AMY
                Look, you really can't bring
                my mom into this, it's not fair.
                She's never really said anything
                bad about you, you really have to...

                        JOHN
                   (simultaneously)
                And your mom's is better? Let me tell
                you, this is a hundred year old family 
                recipe and I'll be damned if you're going 
                to feed that crap to Jack...

JACK drops his toy audibly in the doorway.

...or...

AMY and JOHN begin yelling at each other simultaneously

                        AMY
                Look, you really can't bring
                my mom into this, it's not fair
                she's never really said anything
                bad about you, you really have to...

                        JOHN
                And your mom's is better? Let me tell
                you, this is a hundred year old family 
                recipe and I'll be damned if you're going 
                to feed that crap to Jack...

JACK drops his toy audibly in the doorway.

... both of which were self evident to me when I read them.

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