Screenwriting: Understanding Page Breaking

When it comes to making page breaks in screenplays, screenwriters can't simply follow the formats of fiction and non-fiction manuscripts. Page breaks in screenwriting involve a bit more work, and screenwriters must follow all the screenwriting protocols even when it comes to page breaks.

Step 1: Using Page Breaks in Screenwriting

When screenwriters make a page break in screenplays, oftentimes a shot or even a scene is not completed. Yet, while most people know when reading a standard manuscript that they simply just have to turn the page, screenwriters need to alert their audience that the scene is not finished.

To do this, screenwriters must use the direction (CONTINUED) in order to let readers know that the scene or shot is still continuing. The format for the direction is parentheticals around the word, and the word continued in all caps just like above. This direction must be placed in the lower right-hand corner of the script.

For an example, see below:

                It's time to go.


Step 2: Inserting a Page Break in Stage Direction

Stage direction explains what a character should be doing while they are speaking certain dialogue. But, when a page break happens during the middle of a stage direction, screenwriters should only add the break after a complete sentence.

If the last sentence is not complete, screenwriters should move that sentence to the next page and stop at the end of the previous sentence. To alert that reader that the stage direction is continued on the next page, the screenwriter again has to use the (CONTINUED) direction.

Step 3: Inserting a Page Break After Dialogue

Screenwriters should try to avoid breaking up dialogue. If they must, however, screenwriters again should only break up the dialogue at the end of a complete sentence. Yet, screenwriters have to do something different when it comes to dialogue.

When a screenwriter has to breakup dialogue, they need to add the (MORE) after the dialogue, and this needs to be formatted about four inches from the left-hand side of the page. The direction needs to be directly underneath the dialogue, and the direction (CONTINUED) also needs to be used at the bottom since the scene is continuing.

Further, on the next page, screenwriters need to add the direction (CONT'D) after the name of the character's name. And, this direction needs to be on the same line as name.

For an example, see below:

                It's time to go.


______________________________page break_____________________________________


                                                JOSEY (CONT'D)
                I wish that I didn't have to.

Step 4: Why a Screenwriter Should Always Format Their Screenplays

While these directions may seem redundant, screenwriters should always follow the standard formats for writing screenplays. Directors, producers, actors or whoever is reading the screenplay generally only want to have to skim it. That is if they even want to read it at all.

Most screenplays are simply thrown out without even being looked at. There are just too many out there. And, most major Hollywood players don't want to have to wade through the screenplays that they have. Screenwriters shouldn't give them an excuse to flatly throw away their screenplay.