How to write thoughts
Category: Scripts and Tips
Posted by Kevin Kearns
Created 3 years, 1 month ago
Views: 78
Replies: 5

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East York, PA
Hi guys, I'm just starting work on a new screenplay that delves into the mind of a man who has an extreme paranoid personality problem. The film is going to be relatively dialogue light, and I'm hoping to have the guys thoughts be narrated throughout, developing his problem as the film goes along. What I'm wondering is if I should include these thoughts in the screenplay, and if so how, or if I should just add the thoughts in later, in post-production (This is actually going to get produced by the way, that's why the latter is an actually an option). Please keep in mind that this is not a narration from a later point, these are actually thoughts occurring in the present tense.

Anyway, if you guys know of any official way you're supposed to do this, I'd appreciate any help. If I'm just going to have to wing it, however, just let me know so I can get working. Thanks!

United Kingdom
I suspect if he's narrating, you'd put the lines in the script in the same way as any other character doing a voice-over. Just name the character as "Dave (V.O.)" or similar, and write his lines in with the rest of the dialogue.
Write what the audience will see/hear.

If we hear "Dave's" thoughts... then it's dialog that must be included in the script. If the character speaks the words out loud, use normal formatting. However, if it's just a voice in his head that only he and we hear, you'd use "V.O." formatting.

If the audience doesn't hear these thoughts, then you'd better hope what we see on screen does the job to convey what you're trying to get across because you'll never want to just write them as action lines.

Final point... if you're filming the script yourself, it doesn't matter because you'll know what's going on and how it should be filmed. If you're anything but the director, no matter how involved, your script needs proper formatting otherwise you'll risk your thoughts for the scene being misconstrued by the director... (not that they won't change it as they see fit anyway)

East York, PA
Thanks for the advice. I am co-directing this film, so I guess it shouldn't be a huge problem. The thing is, when we have an audition and choose actors, we have a very limited shooting schedule, so we want them to have a good idea of how the film's gonna be made when they read it ahead of time.
Anyway thanks, so much, I can get started now, haha.
Hi Kevin,

In addition to the previous comments, yes "(V.O)"'s need to be there. However, I would recommend you finish your script first, before any shooting or audition. This is a major pitfall anyone could fall in to, and choosing the actors without knowing the story or having completed the script may lead you to get great people to work with you but that eventually won't be ideal after your start production.

See examples like Spider-man 3. They starting shooting the movie without completing the script, and have to work twice as hard and make corrections on the run. We all know what happened next.

At the same time, during an audition for Green Lantern, Bradley Cooper made his interpretation of the hero with a Christian Bale-ish Batman-ish monster voice, and got turned down. Because, the director already knew what he wanted because he had a script.

My point is, I do not know what stage your movie is right now, so I don't want to sound picky and whatnot, but these are my thoughts. I hope I can help you!


PS: DEXTER TV series are actually a great source for your movie and your research. Dexter have on-going thoughts and talks to himself a lot during each episode, and they are a crucial part in the construction of his character.

New Orleans, LA
V.O.'s -- V.O.'s -- V.O.'s

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