This is a brief example, but it gets the point across ...

deep in thought Bathsheba shakes off her zoned thoughts by dipping her brush into the green paint and beginning on the canvas with her three friends looking on intently

In a time-lapsed fashion, the view circles around her and we see a baby being pushed in a stroller, two large Labradors on leashes drag their slight owner, and a saxophone player playing with much skill as he stands behind his open instrument case.

this is all interrupted with a CRASH.

Can I use human audible sounds in the action line capitalized? I.e.

Bathsheba SCREAMS as she is thrown to the floor


he SNORED loudly

Or must EVERYTHING “verbal” be used in dialogue underneath a character’s name?

Are ALL character parenthetical EXCLUSIVELY used for “wryly’s” or can they ever include a slight description of what they are doing at the self-same time such as:

(face in hands)



2 Answers 2


The first part I can't see anything wrong with except that most scripts I have seen contain more detail. For example, where are the dogs being walked, what time of day is it, who is pushing the pram?

I don't understand why you want to capitalise the words (all capitals is usually very annoying), but there is nothing wrong with including the words themselves.

I can't see why you wouldn't include acting directions in the way you illustrate. However, if they are important and not really obvious from the rest of the script, I would not make them too brief.

I can't say I am an expert, but all of the film and television scripts I have read contain very little dialogue and a great deal of description of everything else. This is the opposite of stage scripts.

  • 1
    The capitalized words imply sounds.
    – Matt
    Oct 3, 2017 at 11:46
  • I get the sound bit, just not the capitals. Oct 3, 2017 at 13:35
  • @S.Mitchell The SCREAM and SNORING or most other everyday sounds (the breaking of a glass, footsteps, creaking hinges, etc) would be foley, meaning reproduced in the studio and added to the film later. Normal microphones are there to record speech, not everyday sounds we expect. The foley sounds important to the story line are capitalized because this brings attention to them as elements of work that need to be done. The author thinks it is important for a man to snore loudly. Bathsheba screaming (or coughing, sneezing or moaning) requires her acting, but is wordless & not dialogue.
    – Amadeus
    Oct 3, 2017 at 13:50

@S.Mitchell's answer brings into focus for me that I have to be careful that I'm not giving "acting directions". As a writer, I think it must be implicit within the story and characters - the way they are drawn. I understand how difficult it is to make the leap from writing a lot of needless say wrylies or he coughs/she cries.

For instance: If we've reached the point where something truly bad has happened, indeed, there may be no words or tears, but mere shock and we can get the heck out of the scene as fast as possible.

  • Welcome to Writing.SE! Please be aware that this is a strict Q&A site, not a discussion forum; answers should focus on answering the question rather than responding to other answers. I think this is able to stand as an answer in its own right, so there's no problem, it's just something to bear in mind in the future.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 1, 2023 at 22:27

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