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In formatting a script/screenplay. How do you handle greetings and goodbyes when there are several people? I can think of a few ways to handle it and don't like any of them. I was wondering which is best and if there is a better way that I'm not thinking of.

1) Writing in the action that people are saying their hellos or goodbyes. This seems like a cheat and doesn't give enough direction.

INT. FRED'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

Fred, Jim, and Jill are sitting on the couch. Bob, Frank, and Susan walk into the room.

Everyone says "hi".

2) Write each person's dialog. This seems unnatural and it takes up half a page for something that would take a few seconds of screen time.

INT. FRED'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

Fred, Jim, and Jill are sitting on the couch.

Bob, Frank, and Susan walk into the room.

BOB
Hi, everyone!

FRANK
Hi, all.

SUSAN
Hello.

JIM
Hey.

FRED
Hi.

JILL
Hi.

3) Combine all characters. This also seems unnatural, having all characters say the exact same greeting at the exact same time.

INT. FRED'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

Fred, Jim, and Jill are sitting on the couch.

Bob, Frank, and Susan walk into the room.

BOB, FRANK, SUSAN, FRED, JIM, and JILL
Hello.

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3

Frequently, greetings and farewells are simply left out, for time compression in the screenplay. Every second counts. Watch any sitcom, like The Big Bang Theory; and this seems natural enough.

Also often, the greeting is given by one person with a comic line, insult, or reference to what is already happening in the room or something that we saw happen earlier.

Do not get hung up on "realistic", every line of dialogue should advance the plot or atmosphere, and greetings and farewells almost never do, unless they are foreshadowing something else. They are a formality; and discarded.

If you really feel your greeting/farewell is a necessity, put it in the action directions; "friendly greetings," and the actors or director will fill this in with whatever.

If you have a plot point to make or emphasize in a greeting, do that: ROGER "Hello everybody, except you, Diane."

Actors and directors do not expect to see them. Notice how they jump to conflict fast:

Mike and Jill walk into the room.

BOB Hey Mike, what was the name of that bar we went to in Frisco?

JILL (to Mike, suspicious) When were you in Frisco?

MIKE (firmly) Never. I have never been in Frisco.

Bob grimaces.

BOB Right, right, that was Mark.

MARK (alarmed) Nope. I have never been in Frisco.

SUSAN You were born there, you idiot.

See? No greetings.

Instead of "Hi" "Oh Hi" "Let me ask you a question." "Shoot!" "Which do you like best, the red tie or the blue tie?"

Jump to: "What do you think? red or blue?"

No greetings and few words.

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  • thanks. thinks sounds right. I think it's a question of what's realistic vs what's cinematic. I'm moving from writing scripts to shoot myself where I am lax width the formatting to trying to write more professional scripts, and I think I was going overboard. – wannabe writer Jul 31 '17 at 3:50

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