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I see sentence fragments all the time in online scripts, so I assume it’s okay.

But there are a number of articles emphasizing the importance of grammar in screenwriting.

So, which ones is it?

(Idk if it matters - but I’m writing a spect script)

Thanks.

Marcus

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Sentence fragments are okay, dialogue does not have to be grammatical (it would likely be unrealistic except for a grammarian; few people speak grammatically correct sentences all the time).

What you want to avoid is blatant grammatical mistakes that would make a reader stumble and lose the flow of reading.

Pro readers are not checking your grammar! They are checking to see if your story reads smoothly and holds up and is taking them for a ride. Bad grammar may interrupt that experience. Sentence fragments do not necessarily, if they feel like part of the ride.

So I would use them for emphasis only. Do not use them as shorthand to try and pack a lot of character description and camera direction into the exposition and still make it look short. That won't fool anybody, and will seem amateurish, and will break their flow and ruin the ride.

Use them as emphasis, or perhaps to give a sense of rapid action. I might use them for the latter in a cluster, but wouldn't use them more than a few times in the script. If you feel like you must, you are probably trying to control too much and write too much that isn't your job, it is the job of the director or various effects people.

  • Wow. What a great response! Thank you! But with that said...Isn’t the point of using fragments to save space, cut down on unnecessary words, and make for an easier read? Thanks again! – Marcus Meier Nov 25 '17 at 22:23
  • No, the point of fragments is to represent clipped language, a person’s frame of mind or identity. This is for dialogue, however, and dialogue only. Scene descriptions MUST be grammatically correct and unfragmented. This is what they mean by “rules.” In dialogue, the rules are different. – August Canaille Nov 26 '17 at 1:38
  • No. If you are doing it for that, don't. It reads too choppy. It is for dramatic effect. If you are only doing to the cram more in, you need to cram less in. You are over-describing, over-directing, over-explaining. Unless it is important to the plot, visual elements are for the director to imagine, expressions and gestures are for the actors to develop, and you should not be describing any mood or attitude or feeling you cannot photograph. This is not a novel. Never use them to cram more in. Stop trying to specify so much. – Amadeus Nov 26 '17 at 4:35

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