I'm not sure whether this is the stackexchange website for this, but I'm in the process of writing a play for a competition. The main character often has asides (where she expresses an idea or thought to the audience directly without the other characters hearing her). I'm not sure how to exactly to insert/present these. Any insight on the matter could be helpful.

By means of example:

AL (Rolls eyes) I still don’t trust you, or your story. But, follow me. (Starts walking towards the stairwell)

CANDI (Aside) That was easier than I thought. My dad always says that the hardest part is getting your enemies to let you in. But, I’m already half way there. The only one that’s suspicious of me now is Al, but I can handle him. I sense he’s already loosening up. Something tells me choosing allies is going to pose a greater challenge.

AL (Calls over his shoulder) If you don’t want to come, I have no problem telling Caster you lost interest.

Is this the correct way to present an aside? If not, what is the proper way to do that to avoid the audience's confusion?

  • 2
    For clarity, why would the audience be confused by how you present an aside in the script?
    – Weckar E.
    Aug 3, 2017 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


Convention is a little unclear on this, as they are not terribly common in modern theatre. That said, I've seen two methods used: Either it is a stage direction like you've used it, or -- and this is what I see when a writer is particularly fond of using them often and the constant direction would get repetitive, or the character slides between diegetic and non-diegetic vocalisations mid-stream -- is to make any asides italicized.

Source: MA in Playwrighting

  • By "cursive" did you mean "italicized"? Maybe this is a difference between British and American English. In AmE, "cursive" refers exclusively to a style of writing done by hand, not typed. Feb 23, 2018 at 21:38
  • @ToddWilcox Yes
    – Weckar E.
    Feb 26, 2018 at 15:48

I am not a playwright and don't have experience in that genre.

But I did format a play anthology for an ebook recently.

The convention that I noticed was to put in parenthesis immediately after the speaker's name any short description of how the line ought to be delivered.

Then I indicated stage directions (i.e., movement, props, etc) on a separate line in parenthesis -- centered.

But sometimes I broke these rules a bit. For example, when the manner of delivery changes midspeech, I indicate it in parenthesis after the sentence in the same paragraph where this happens. Also, if there was a quick gesture between sentences, (i.e., holds up sword) I sometimes just ran it in the same paragraph of dialogue. I don't start a separate paragraph.

Sometimes if there's a distinct narrative break in the speech or a dramatic pause, I will put the break in a separate paragraph -- and occasionally put the stage direction, description of manner of speech in a separate paragraph.

In one play, I made a separate paragraph with the stage direction (beat) within a very long dramatic dialogue.

I don't think there is a hard and fast rule (unlike screenplay writing for instance). It might be helpful though to see how Project Gutenberg formats their plays.

Some examples of how PG formats their plays. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/844/844-h/844-h.htm and https://www.gutenberg.org/files/10623/10623-h/10623-h.htm

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