All About Interruption
If you want to signify an interruption in your spec screenplay’s dialogue, you have come to the right place. Many thanks to Bang2writer Mohammed, who’s been in contact this week with this writing-related query …
Can I ask how to format this correctly? Someone is reading a letter out loud, and the voice of the letter writer cuts in to finish the letter. I’ve done plenty of hunting around but I haven’t found anything on it.
Like many screenplay formatting questions beyond the non-negotiable ones (such as font, size, margins, etc) there’s NO fancy or specific way to signify an interruption in dialogue.
Instead, it’s more about ensuring the reader can follow. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, with that in mind, I would probably suggest Mohammed signifies an interruption like the below …
So, as you can see the the two dashes above (ringed in red) signify the INTERRUPTION.
What’s more, you can use this whether people are in the room with the speaker, or if it’s a disembodied voice cutting in. I would venture it’s a good idea to avoid parentheticals like ‘(cutting in)’ or lines of description for this wherever possible … It takes up needless space and may create useless script fillers.
Remember, there is NO SPECIFIC WAY you ‘should’ signify an interruption in screenplays. If any reader or feedback-giver penalises you for the above, they are talking crap. You can do it whatever way you want. All
All that said, I see these two dashes A LOT these days. I’d wager they’re ‘the norm’ to signify interruptions. So you should not go far wrong doing it like this.
Avoid ellipses (the ‘…’) altogether as this can mean ‘pause’ or a character losing their train of thought, etc.
For more on screenplay format, check out my epic rundown of the issues I see regularly and what to do about them in The B2W Format One Stop Shop.