Via Twitter, I got a question about the variations on “continued” you often see in screenplays.
The first form, a contraction of the word, is widely used to indicate that the same character is speaking after an interrupting bit of scene description. Almost every screenplay you read will have it.
What’s wrong? Why are you smiling like that?
Under the table, the dog begins licking the arch of Tom’s foot.
Do you need any h-h-h-help with dessert?
Most screenwriting software will automatically generate the (cont’d), and you should let it. It’s standard, and particularly useful for actors. It’s your choice whether to have it be uppercase; (cont’d) or (CONT’D) are both fine. Pick one and stick to it.1
A related situation happens when a block of dialogue needs to extend off the bottom of the page. Screenwriting software will offer to put a (more), with a matching (cont’d) on the next page. Let it — though you might also consider tweaking the lines so that the dialogue doesn’t break there.
A second form of continued happens when a scene spans across multiple pages. If a scene continues off the bottom of a page, most screenwriting software will offer to put CONTINUED: at the top left of the next page, next to the scene number.
I have been nothing but myself since the day I was born. And if you can’t see that, it’s your failing, not mine.
You don’t need it. Turn it off.
The only time to use these continueds is when you’re headed into production, complete with a shooting schedule and scene numbers. They help reduce confusion when you have colored revision pages. Beyond that, they’re clutter. Get rid of them.
The final form of continued happens in scene headings. Some screenwriters use CONTINUOUS to indicate that action is ongoing despite changes of location:
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
Mary searches for Rex, checking under the bed.
INT. BASEMENT – CONTINUOUS
Tom WHISTLES, shaking Rex’s favorite toy.
I’m not a big fan of this use of continuous, because it’s all too easy to forget what time of day it’s supposed to be. In the (rare) cases in which I need to clarify that the action from one scene to the next is continuous, I put it in brackets.
EXT. BACKYARD – NIGHT [CONTINUOUS]
Rex digs his way under the fence.
- You may run into situations in which a character is both speaking and giving voice-over in a scene. Your software might try to flag those voiceovers as continuations of the character’s normal dialogue. Don’t let it. ↩