I'm speaking of more than one action line with no other text between them. I guess I'm asking if this is done because they relate to very different actions or actions of different people, etc. please ask if this is a little confusing.

Cute toddler girl in playpen putting on make-up with an ink pen. We hear sexual grunts and heavy breathing as she is unaffected, appearing to stare into the aluminum foil covering the window, using it as a mirror.

Bathsheba POV shows foil-sealed window up against the playpen. She reaches on top of a dresser next to the window, her hands investigatory across the top finding a glass unicorn and a snow globe near the edge. She reaches as far as she can almost falling out of the pen and when she's side-tracked by noises outside of the house. She reaches toward the window peeling back a piece of foil revealing a man in a windbreaker walking an uncooperative chow.

  • 1
    can you provide some examples so we have some text to analyze? Sep 8, 2017 at 9:57
  • OK I've added a bit, as I looked back I looked at other scripts and they do it too....
    – Matt
    Sep 8, 2017 at 10:47
  • Matt, can you please format your question so it becomes more easily apparent which parts are examples and which are question body? Use > to begin lines with sample text or enclose brief samples with ticks ( ` ).
    – user26338
    Sep 8, 2017 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


Screenplays have very strict formatting conventions. These serve two purposes:
1) They make the screenplay easy to read and understand for people familiar with the conventions.
2) They make a reasonably consistent connection between screentime and script length.

In this case the convention is a new block of text when you switch the person being focused on, the camera angle or from action to dialog (or vice versa). You can also make a break when one action completes, and another begins. It makes the script easier to read.

However, it's a little unclear whether your example is a shooting script or a screenplay. If it is a shooting script the change in camera angle is not formatted properly. If it is a screenplay, you would generally just write the actions, and not put in things like POV changes unless they are very important (those are usually decisions left to the director).


It is difficult to tell from your question and examples, but generally different action lines are similar to paragraphs in prose: There is no hard and fast rule for when they break off; it is basically at the end of one thought or description, and the beginning of another thought or description.

In film, something that would or could or should be shot with its own camera deserves a 'break' to a new paragraph. In your prose, the toddler putting on makeup is a scene by itself. The break would be appropriate here because the POV and camera angle changes; we would CUT TO BATHSEBA POV here (although I note, this is not exactly written from that POV, since she cannot see the unicorn or snow globe).

I would say that after "she is sidetracked" might demand another camera angle and focus to the outside of the house, with the man walking the dog, and therefore deserve its own break.

Be more specific than "noise outside the house", that could be a jet plane or a bus passing by. It is BARKING, or a man SCOLDING somebody, or something like that.

A break does not have to demand a new camera angle; it can be a natural pause in action or the start of a new action.

Roger stood on the sidewalk watching the stock ticker roll by. It had to come up sooner or later.

Finally, there it was: XYZ, down 40% now. He SIGHED, closing his eyes for a moment, then turned his back on the marquee, unsure where to go next.

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