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#192897 - 08/30/10 12:24 PM spacing conventions
Susan G Offline
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Registered: 08/30/10
Posts: 2
I am a former teacher and a writer of lessons for youth. I am trying to track down a new writing convention in spacing sentences.

When I was young, back in the days before White Out, the rule was this: 1 space between words, 2 words between sentences and 3 spaces to indent paragraphs. It was simple and easy to remember.

Nowadays, all over the 'net, including Wordsmith, the new writing convention is one space between sentences. It seems to be a new rule: 1 spacebar between words and sentences and 1 carriage return between paragraphs. ("And what the heck is a "carriage return" anyway?" say the kids. )

Am I correct in this observation, or is something else happening? Are people still following the old rule or is some feature of the internet daemon shortening the spaces between sentences?

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#192898 - 08/30/10 12:33 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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I learned it the way you did. Happy I am not teaching anymore.


Welcome
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#192899 - 08/30/10 01:13 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
TheFallibleFiend Offline
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Registered: 01/23/02
Posts: 1523
Loc: Virginia, USA
I learned the same thing. What changed it was not the Internet, per se, but the instantiation of proportional fonts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing
"With the introduction of proportional fonts in computers, double sentence spacing became obsolete.[13]"

... and later ...

"Most modern literature on typography says that double spacing is wrong,[18] but some non-typographical sources indicate that it could be used on a typewriter or with a monospaced font.[19]"

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#192900 - 08/30/10 01:15 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Originally Posted By: TheFallibleFiend
I learned the same thing. What changed it was not the Internet, per se, but the instantiation of proportional fonts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing
"With the introduction of proportional fonts in computers, double sentence spacing became obsolete.[13]"

... and later ...

"Most modern literature on typography says that double spacing is wrong,[18] but some non-typographical sources indicate that it could be used on a typewriter or with a monospaced font.[19]"



Fascinating, thanks.
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#192907 - 08/30/10 07:36 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: TheFallibleFiend]
Faldage Offline
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Originally Posted By: TheFallibleFiend
I learned the same thing. What changed it was not the Internet, per se, but the instantiation of proportional fonts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing
"With the introduction of proportional fonts in computers, double sentence spacing became obsolete.[13]"

... and later ...

"Most modern literature on typography says that double spacing is wrong,[18] but some non-typographical sources indicate that it could be used on a typewriter or with a monospaced font.[19]"


This rationale makes absolutely no sense to me. If the reason for double spacing between sentences was to make it easier to see that it was a space between sentences the fact that the double space in a monospaced font is greater than that in a proportional font would make it more critical to double space in a proportional font. The period would seem to be more easily lost in a proportional font since it takes up less space than it would in a monospaced font. It seems to me more like it is just the fashion in house style and for some reason has gained the status of inviolable rule.

Personally I find double spacing between sentences in proportional fonts much easier to read.

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#192910 - 08/30/10 09:38 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Avy Offline
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Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
In some softwares, pressing space twice after a word automatically inserts a full stop/period.

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#192916 - 08/31/10 06:42 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Faldage Offline
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I hadn't seen that one. HTML generally compresses two or more spaces to one unless you add explicit non-breaking spaces.

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#192918 - 08/31/10 07:23 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
zmjezhd Offline
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HTML generally compresses two or more spaces to one unless you add explicit non-breaking spaces.

Some applications, like FrameMaker, also get rid of the "two spaces" unless you muck with the defaults.

A convention is just that. Conventions change. Gone today are the mid dots and virgules of the days of yore ... It's amazing the things we cling to learned in our adolescence.
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#192922 - 08/31/10 12:40 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Susan G Offline
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Registered: 08/30/10
Posts: 2
Thanks, everyone. You are wonderful. I did come to the right group for help. Susan

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#192926 - 08/31/10 01:27 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
beck123 Offline
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Registered: 02/22/10
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I was told a few years ago at a seminar that our habit of double spacing after a sentence was a carry-over from the manuscript/codex days, which, in my experience, is exactly the opposite of the truth. Not only were these ancient texts not double-spaced between sentences, they used NO spaces (and often no punctuation) between sentences. So this may simply be an evolving convention with no rational source, driven by the same fewer-keystrokes-is-better mentality as "Im 1 and ur 1 2" [period intentionally missing]
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#196917 - 02/02/11 04:27 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: beck123]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Just noticed this old thread, well not so old, but not
current, as it were.

When I was taught typing back after the dinosaurs left, we
were taught to double space at the end of each sentence, and
at the end of each paragraph, creating a nice white space
between paragraphs. Paragraphs were indented also.
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#197636 - 02/23/11 02:39 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: LukeJavan8]
Tromboniator Offline
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Loc: Alaska
I learned that paragraphs should be indented with a tab set at five spaces. I'd say that conventions are not universal, so please yourself, to the extent that tools and bosses allow. I follow conventions that make sense to me, or that I haven't thought about, skip those that don't.

I usually indicate paragraphs these days with double returns (not carriage returns) with no indent, but there are times I indent, and sometimes even use both methods. Amount of indent, if any, I determine by eye. Most of the publications I set up or write for are programs for performing arts, and I have nearly free rein.

Peter

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#197639 - 02/23/11 08:16 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
zmjezhd Offline
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I learned that paragraphs should be indented with a tab set at five spaces. I'd say that conventions are not universal, so please yourself, to the extent that tools and bosses allow. I follow conventions that make sense to me, or that I haven't thought about, skip those that don't.

I think one should be consistent in the proper context. When I lived in Germany I slowly became aware of how different their typewriting conventions were from ours. They would double space letters to indicate emphasis, whereas we would underline a word or phrase. Then there's the whole punctuation inside or outside of the quotation marks (or whatever punctuation is used to indicate reported speech). Having worked as a writer for over twenty years, I am happy to follow the written conventions of those who pay me at the end of the week. Another great convention is whether to use a serial (aka Oxford) comma in lists of three or more words or phrases. People really seem to get bent out of shape on that one. The humorous thing, to me, is that these orthographic conventions are pretty much arbitrary and historical in nature, but we all like to think that something we've been doing for years has purpose and meaning, and that the language would suffer without it.
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#197641 - 02/23/11 11:15 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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I learned 5 space indentation at the beginning of each
paragraph as well. Also double space between paragraphs.
I suppose that was pretty much standard back in typing
classes back in the day.
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#197642 - 02/23/11 11:18 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: zmjezhd]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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They would double space letters to indicate emphasis, whereas we would underline a word or phrase.

We also learned to double space after the period (.) of
one sentence before beginning the next sentence. The
punctuation inside or outside a quotation is another
interesting thing. Also use of semi-colons was intriguing.
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#197649 - 02/24/11 01:43 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Avy Offline
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Posts: 724
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator

I usually indicate paragraphs these days with double returns (not carriage returns) with no indent, but there are times I indent, and sometimes even use both methods. Amount of indent, if any, I determine by eye.

This is the first post I am writing from work. This is work related anyway: so no guilt trip here. Is the modern way not to have an indentation in the beginning of the paragraph. I have stopped indenting the beginning of a paragraph for sometime now and had not even realise this. I learnt paragraph indentations in school. Did this become obsolete when computers arrived?
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator
Most of the publications I set up or write for are programs for performing arts, and I have nearly free rein.
Peter

Also now snucking in one non-work related bit: The publications you work on could not be scripts then. Plays and film scripts are hugely formatted. You have US and UK formats with character names in the middle or at one side, proper place for directions etc. etc. I prefer the UK format.

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#197650 - 02/24/11 06:15 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
Tromboniator Offline
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No, I have not worked on scripts. As an actor, I have to say that I find putting the character name in the center is ridiculous. Whoever established that format was not an actor. Or not one I care to work with! In fact, it seems that format is more important than content. What a world.

Peter

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#197654 - 02/24/11 09:16 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
zmjezhd Offline
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As an actor, I have to say that I find putting the character name in the center is ridiculous.

It's pretty much standard in all of the screenplays I've ever seen. It's also a convention that a page maps to about a minute of film time. Remember, in filming the 1 to 3 minutes of actually usable footage per day of a typical Hollywood film that means one to three pages of a screenplay being consumed.

Whoever established that format was not an actor. Or not one I care to work with! In fact, it seems that format is more important than content. What a world.

The format developed over the years and during the the studio period in US film productions. I'm pretty sure it was a long and slow process and not just anybody is responsible for it. The major advantage of the screenplay format is there is plenty of white space to utilize for additions and director's notes. In fact, screenplays change a lot during the filming of a movie. Plays not as much (except for new ones).

In fact, another convention of screenplays is that any changes made are printed on differently colored paper (more of a teleplay convention), so people know at a glance when something has been added. Those additions get added to the scripts in the morning and often change the physical page count.


It is indeed quite a world.
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#197656 - 02/24/11 11:08 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: zmjezhd]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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I learned something here: a page amounts to a minute.
You see scripts in producers hands and wonder how much
they actually use. Makes sense now.
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#197673 - 02/25/11 12:41 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: zmjezhd]
Avy Offline
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Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
The major advantage of the screenplay format is there is plenty of white space to utilize for additions and director's notes.
Is that the reason? I could never figure out why they formated it this way. Now I know.

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#197677 - 02/25/11 09:56 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
zmjezhd Offline
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Is that the reason? I could never figure out why they formated it this way. Now I know.

Again, I do not know if that is the reason the format developed, but I have observed that all that whitespace gets used by writers, directors, actors, et al.
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#197679 - 02/25/11 10:56 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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I guess I am learning that too. I've wondered.
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#197683 - 02/25/11 11:07 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: zmjezhd]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Not that this has anything to do with screenwriters, but
I've notice news anchors have lots of white space, sometimes
a half page or more, on the paper in front of them during
a news broadcast.
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#197697 - 02/26/11 02:03 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: zmjezhd]
Avy Offline
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Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
Originally Posted By: zmjezhd
... but I have observed that all that whitespace gets used by writers, directors, actors, et al.

Is white space more important or the unrestricted back and forth of the dialogue?
Isn't it better to read:
"I don't care."
"F*** you!"
Instead of reading this :
"I don't care."
Mark
"F*** you!
Doesn't it dilute the tension?
[Just askin]

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#197704 - 02/26/11 06:19 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
Tromboniator Offline
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Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
In a play or movie the tension doesn't have to show up on the page, that's what actors and directors are for! The sooner the actor gets rid of the page entirely, the better for everybody.

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#197706 - 02/26/11 07:33 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Candy Offline
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Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 1705
Loc: down under
Because I use a computer and often 'borrow' passages from other material, I tend to select 'word wrap' in my word documents. This lines up words on both sides of the page and I notice that it tends to make subtle 'extra' spaces between words in a line so words are not 'split' unnecessary. I think the end look is neat.

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#197711 - 02/26/11 08:38 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Candy]
Faldage Offline
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Originally Posted By: Candy
Because I use a computer and often 'borrow' passages from other material, I tend to select 'word wrap' in my word documents. This lines up words on both sides of the page and I notice that it tends to make subtle 'extra' spaces between words in a line so words are not 'split' unnecessary. I think the end look is neat.


This will hold if you have chosen right AND left justification. The spaces are spread out equally. It can be a pain if you are in an environment that has long strings of characters giving you three of four words in a line and what looks like eight or more spaces between the words.

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#197719 - 02/26/11 01:24 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
zmjezhd Offline
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Is white space more important or the unrestricted back and forth of the dialogue?

Well, one might as well ask if a play (dramatic performance) is the play (the script). To me a text is a pale representation of the piece performed.
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#197771 - 02/28/11 03:22 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Avy Offline
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That is true, I guess.

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#197780 - 02/28/11 11:06 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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When you watch the 'extras' on a DVD, and an actor says
something like: "They gave me the script, and I read it,
and I knew it was for me", I've often wondered if they
loved the script alone, or if they saw themselves doing
the part and making it their own?
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#197847 - 03/02/11 08:28 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: LukeJavan8]
bexter Offline
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I remember reading an interview with an actor once where he said (I'm paraphrasing here) "well my mate, he gave me this script and it said - scene in bar, talk, offense, bar fight (improvise everything else) - and I was well up for that, so yeah that's why I chose to do this film"
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#197856 - 03/02/11 09:10 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: bexter]
Avy Offline
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Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
Talking of actors and pubs: this is Al Pacino's favourite joke as told by Johnny Depp: a skeleton goes into a pub and orders a beer and a mop. ROTFLMAO
Edited to add: this joke has such pathos.


Edited by Avy (03/02/11 09:14 AM)

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#197858 - 03/02/11 09:18 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
bexter Offline
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HAHA I love that joke...I have heard it but couln't remember how it ended...I always forget to say the mop but I start laughing and people look at me funny - they think I am laughing at a skeleton in a bar...
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#197862 - 03/02/11 09:56 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Avy Offline
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Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator
In a play or movie the tension doesn't have to show up on the page, that's what actors and directors are for! The sooner the actor gets rid of the page entirely, the better for everybody.

Hi Trom. Just asking: when tension does show up on page, do you as an actor get put off. Do you think the writer is treading on your territory. I"m asking because I have till now thought tension in written dialogue is a good thing. I want to know whether I was wrong in thinking that.

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#197874 - 03/02/11 11:15 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Avy
Talking of actors and pubs: this is Al Pacino's favourite joke as told by Johnny Depp: a skeleton goes into a pub and orders a beer and a mop. ROTFLMAO
Edited to add: this joke has such pathos.



ROTFLMAO; I think we had this before on the site, but
I forgot what it means. I don't text and that may be the
reason.
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#197877 - 03/02/11 11:23 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
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#197883 - 03/02/11 11:42 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Buffalo Shrdlu]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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If I had access I'd give you a button reading:
"Luke's Translator". Thanks.
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#197949 - 03/03/11 02:57 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
Tromboniator Offline
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Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Avy

Hi Trom. Just asking: when tension does show up on page, do you as an actor get put off. Do you think the writer is treading on your territory. I"m asking because I have till now thought tension in written dialogue is a good thing. I want to know whether I was wrong in thinking that.


I'm not quite sure if this is what you are asking:

ROLLO: (Stunned, eyes widening, he slowly sets his coffee cup onto the table) You told her what?

is too much from the playwright. In a screenplay? I don't know, I've only done one movie, with the writer in the lead role and buddies with the director.

ROLLO: (Stunned) You told her what?

is probably too much: the dialog makes it obvious, and it's up to the director and the actor how best to fit it to the style of the production.

The way it actually looks on the page is irrelevant. As zmjezhd says, the text is just text, not a play, any more than a score is a symphony. It's a map, not the terrain itself.

My favorite director usually tells us to ignore the playwright's stage directions.


Edited by Tromboniator (03/03/11 03:10 PM)
Edit Reason: Addendum

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#197953 - 03/03/11 06:34 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Interesting contrast.
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#197956 - 03/03/11 07:27 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Avy Offline
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That I agree with. The writer has no business writing stage directions anyway -IMHO. I meant the tension in the dialogue - in writing the words of the dialogue to create tension/emotion. Sometimes the words of some playwrights are so strong I wonder if they leave no place for the actor to work. Do you prefer dialogue that works just for the plot rather than strongly suggests the character because character is what you will do and the strong suggestion in the words of the dialogue gives you no room to experiment. It is easy for a writer to nail a character so that there room left for pluralism.
If I am not clear enough, I'll just drop this.
I enjoyed reading your example. Funnee. smile
I wanted to ask another question about acting, and acting is about words and langauge...

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#197957 - 03/03/11 07:31 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Me too, I think theater is fascinating. Ask away, Avy.
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#198315 - 03/15/11 06:56 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
Tromboniator Offline
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Originally Posted By: Avy
That I agree with. The writer has no business writing stage directions anyway -IMHO. I meant the tension in the dialogue - in writing the words of the dialogue to create tension/emotion. Sometimes the words of some playwrights are so strong I wonder if they leave no place for the actor to work. Do you prefer dialogue that works just for the plot rather than strongly suggests the character because character is what you will do and the strong suggestion in the words of the dialogue gives you no room to experiment. It is easy for a writer to nail a character so that there room left for pluralism.
If I am not clear enough, I'll just drop this.
I enjoyed reading your example. Funnee. smile
I wanted to ask another question about acting, and acting is about words and langauge...


Five years ago I got to play Lear. I really resent how much the playwright limited my scope!

Whoa! I guess I've been gone a while. I've been busy at the high school, assistant director of this year's musical (RENT), which happens in ten days. Schools are closed this week for "spring" break.

Avy, Yours is a very complex question, and I've been flip-flopping on an answer. I think where I come out is that a character with lots of information provided is just a different kind of challenge from one who hasnít. If the character is muscle-bound by the writing, probably the whole play is like that, and thus not very good. I don't think I've ever been cast in a role in which I felt that it wouldn't really matter who played it, that it would always come out the same, if that's what you're asking. In general, the more lines I have the more information I have about the character. Depending on how I approach it, that could mean less space to work in or more material to build with. The latter, I think, is the healthier, more fruitful attitude. That's the key: the attitude that the actor brings. Regardless of the role, you work with what you're given. Again in general, the roles with more lines, or more lines spoken about them, are the ones more central to the action, so that the plot action is driven by who they are, how they must act, so in that sense the writing is limiting, but in a positive way. The so-called minor characters (I'm a very egalitarian person: I do not believe that the the larger the role the more important it is. It is the same with the people playing the roles; and I despise actors who think they're inherently superior to, and more intelligent than, the shy young woman who's running the sound.) have to be built in a more round-about way. If the playwright gives you:

Mitzi's hotel room. A knock on the door. Mitzi sighs, throws back her Scotch, opens the door.

OFFICER CRAIGMEYER
Ma'am, the sergeant would like to see you down in the lobby. Five minutes.

That's all there is of Officer Craigmeyer. Say that the role has been given to a 60+ year-old male who can pass for late 40s. That limits the character far more than the playwright did, but tells us nothing about how he should deliver his one line. Almost anybody who can speak English could deliver the line and the play would go on, but if it's done without a sense of the character it'll stand out as a bad moment in the play, possibly the only thing the audience will remember. The actor has to put the cop's world into that line: he played football in high school; got kicked out of Harvard for some unproven infraction; twenty-five years on and off the police force; this is his first week back at work after recovering from a shooting; he hates women, and his sergeant is a woman. So, as we see, is Mitzi. All these things, and a zillion more, can contribute to that one line, none of it from the playwright, but it has to be believable, has to fit the play.

All for now: past my bedtime.

Peter


Edited by Tromboniator (03/15/11 06:58 AM)

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#198334 - 03/15/11 10:31 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Avy Offline
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Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
Peter, I want to thank you for the time you have taken out to answer. You post is HUGELY helpful and most importantly encouraging thanks.
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator
Again in general, the roles with more lines, or more lines spoken about them, are the ones more central to the action, so that the plot action is driven by who they are, how they must act, so in that sense the writing is limiting, but in a positive way.

Thanks for anwering this. This is what I wanted to/needed to know.
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator

The so-called minor characters (I'm a very egalitarian person: I do not believe that the the larger the role the more important it is. It is the same with the people playing the roles; and I despise actors who think they're inherently superior to, and more intelligent than, the shy young woman who's running the sound.) have to be built in a more round-about way. If the playwright gives you:

Mitzi's hotel room. A knock on the door. Mitzi sighs, throws back her Scotch, opens the door.

OFFICER CRAIGMEYER
Ma'am, the sergeant would like to see you down in the lobby. Five minutes.

That's all there is of Officer Craigmeyer. Say that the role has been given to a 60+ year-old male who can pass for late 40s. That limits the character far more than the playwright did, but tells us nothing about how he should deliver his one line. Almost anybody who can speak English could deliver the line and the play would go on, but if it's done without a sense of the character it'll stand out as a bad moment in the play, possibly the only thing the audience will remember. The actor has to put the cop's world into that line: he played football in high school; got kicked out of Harvard for some unproven infraction; twenty-five years on and off the police force; this is his first week back at work after recovering from a shooting; he hates women, and his sergeant is a woman. So, as we see, is Mitzi. All these things, and a zillion more, can contribute to that one line, none of it from the playwright, but it has to be believable, has to fit the play.
What I really liked about this is not only have you said how to do a background study but you have made the studyt relavant to the plot by having it explain or connect to the brief one line interaction between the cop and mitzi. The words are plain the tone would be perhaps derisive. Wow! Learnt something there.
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator

All for now: past my bedtime.

Peter

If I weren't lame, I would have been an actor and benefited from this as an actor too. Thanks Peter.
NB: although they say writing is an extension of acting. I noticed the lines of the cop do reflect the study. They are curt and would fit perfectly. How I enjoy this beautiful dance of writing and acting! Thanks again.


Edited by Avy (03/15/11 10:39 PM)

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#198336 - 03/16/11 06:41 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Avy, just to be absolutely clear about it, I'm not a professional actor, but I've been well and truly blessed by circumstance with phenomenal opportunities and extraordinary mentors (and not just in acting: music as well, both vocal and instrumental) so I've had lots of experience preparing roles large and small.

As fate would have it, most of my roles have been big, juicy ones, and that is my preference (this does relate, kinda, to part of your question), probably because I'm lazy. In the first place, if the playwright does most of the work to create a whole character, I can spend my energy on embellishment and fine-tuning (and learning lines), whereas a smaller role requires more invention and imagination: hard work. It's also easier to get into character, go on stage, and stay there than it is to go on, do a short scene, go off for a while, do it all again, and yet again. Especially true, I've found, when playing with young (teenage) and inexperienced actors who have lots of energy but haven't mastered focus. I love them to pieces, but when I come offstage to card games, discussions of video games or social life, pranks and horseplay, I have to find a quiet corner to hide in. Actually, I've gotten good results from rational requests for peace based on the fact that old guys like me require ten minutes of absolute silence to remember what the next scene is!

I find it interesting that the most common question I get from non-actors is, "How do you remember all those lines?", and of course the correct answer is that fear of going blank onstage is a powerful motivator. I have friends with whom I've done shows for decades who do small roles magnificently but who balk at large roles because they fear the burden and responsibility of the memorization. To me it's just a matter of dedicating time to it, and before I retired the most productive time I found for line study was during my twenty-minute walk to work in the morning. But I find that the sooner I get the words into my brain, the more I can experiment with how to say them, which the playwright can never dictate. Yes, I have memorization techniques, and the basic one is repetition, but with a strong emphasis on meaning. It scares me how many times I've played scenes with people who get the words perfectly, but don't know what they've said.

Ah, here I am again in the early morning hours, eyes drooping, winding down after a choral rehearsal, an hour and a half up the road, for Beethoven's Ninth. I apologize if this rambles and blithers. You're very welcome for my previous post. I'm delighted that you found it of some use. I enjoy the chance to step back and look at the things I love to do, and I adore your questions.

Peter

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#198338 - 03/16/11 11:05 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6705
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
I find comfort in the words you say about repitition.
I found the more I was in education that this is a
factor that just seems to have disappeared in many aspects
of the learning process. True, there are areas where
it is still active, but things like memorization of
poetry has disappeared. I truly wonder if the "times
tables" are still taught.
_________________________
----please, draw me a sheep----

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#198345 - 03/16/11 05:00 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: LukeJavan8]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Luke, I don't know if it's my brain or my methods, but the material I memorize does not stay with me. A couple of months after I've finished a show the lines are essentially gone, at least from conscious recall. I have once repeated a role, after many years, and it was spectacularly easy to re-learn the lines, but they certainly were not there on demand. Some actors can quote lines from plays they did decades ago; I am not one of them.

Peter

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#198349 - 03/16/11 08:46 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Avy Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
Are there some types of dialogue that you find easier to learn than others? Are there some playwrights whose dialogue you like and others you don't?

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#198362 - 03/18/11 03:01 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
I suppose that the closer the speech is to my own style and vocabulary , and the more logical the flow of it, the easier it is to learn. The difficulty with, say, Shakespeare is that so many social, political, technological, and linguistic changes have occurred since he wrote that the dialog requires more research, study, and interpretation than something from the last fifty years. Dialog (I guess that's a US spelling) and monologue (my spell-checker insisted) that consists of non sequitur, lists of names or events, long, rambling rants that seem to follow no particular logic are very difficult, but I've gotten pretty good at devising mnemonics, such as a word or phrase that will cue the order of the first letter of each item in a sequence.

I would be hard pressed to give an example of a playwright whose dialog as a whole I don't like; in the first place, I admire people who can write plays, so I figure they had a reason for writing them as they did; in the second place, much as it shames me, most of the plays I've read are the ones I've performed in, and by the time I've learned the dialog I've lost most of the objections I might have had at first reading. As some of us do, I rebel at certain constructions, particularly if I think they are gratuitous, as, for example, a character saying,"He was just laying there" rather than "lying there." If there is no compelling case for the character to employ that usage other than that's the way the playwright speaks, I will twist the director's arm to let me change it. There are almost always places in any play where I am uncomfortable with a playwright's choices, but I generally try to adopt the attitude that my job is to make the best of what I'm given. On the few occasions in which I've gotten to speak with, or even work with, the playwright, I've usually gotten permission to make whatever changes I can reasonably defend.

Avy, I hope you don't feel that I'm dodging your questions. They're quite challenging, and I'm doing my best to come as close as I can to an answer. I've never really analyzed my experiences in this manner. I just love theater(re), and do it every chance I get.

Incidentally, in case you don't get around to asking me about my best theater experiences, let me mention three: In 2003, my two daughters, then 20 and 21, directed me in Lysistrata; in 2009 my eldest daughter directed me and my second daughter in The Importance of Being Earnest; and in 2003 and 2004 I performed in a musical written (book, music, lyrics) and directed by a very dear friend who among other things has been a carpenter, a cowboy, a radio news director, and a brilliant saxophonist, about a group of old guys in a local (Alaska) rock band who decide to buy a bus and go on a nationwide tour. It is astounding how much talent there is in our tiny town, and in my very own family. Did I mention that I'm quite proud of what we do here?

I should mention that the musical was called The Electric Rolaids Antacid Test.


Edited by Tromboniator (03/18/11 03:07 AM)
Edit Reason: Add title

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#198363 - 03/18/11 06:04 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator


I should mention that the musical was called The Electric Rolaids Antacid Test.


Love it!

As for lay vs. lie, in my experience that's the way most people say it these days. It doesn't seem to me that your job as an actor is to be an arbiter of word choice.

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#198372 - 03/18/11 09:59 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Faldage]
Avy Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
I think a writer approaches a character from inside out and an actor from outside in. Both have to come to a consensus on the character. The char IMO is created by both the actor and the writer. Although the writer chooses the words, a clever writer will know that he does not own the character and will worry whether the he is at odds with the actor in his take on the character.
Peter, you said there were places where you were uncomfortable with the playwrights choices in dialogue; has there been any instances where you were uncomfortable with the playwright's choice of action for the character? Have you ever had your study of a character not fit one action that the writer has him do. I am not asking for specifics. I do not think you are dodging my questions. I am learning a lot by your posts. For me this opportunity is God sent.
Thanks for telling me your best theatre experiences. I might have missed that question. I am afraid I am being very selfish with my questions. I like lysistrata. I studied it as a "play about war". Lucky faldage. I will not ever see that musical, but as they say never say never.

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#198390 - 03/19/11 05:33 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Faldage]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Faldage


As for lay vs. lie, in my experience that's the way most people say it these days. It doesn't seem to me that your job as an actor is to be an arbiter of word choice.


We all have our quirks and foibles, and many of them are pretty harmless when we indulge them. One of mine is to be word-perfect in my delivery of lines in a play. I scarcely think that a rare act of rebellion constitutes being an arbiter of word choice.

In my experience, directors are fairly free with changing words, deleting or transposing sections of dialog or whole scenes; some actors paraphrase liberally. I'm not terribly ashamed of altering one little vowel sound.

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#198391 - 03/19/11 05:57 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Avy]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Avy

Peter, you said there were places where you were uncomfortable with the playwrights choices in dialogue; has there been any instances where you were uncomfortable with the playwright's choice of action for the character? Have you ever had your study of a character not fit one action that the writer has him do.


Being uncomfortable with an action is a far cry from not having it fit. If the play is going to work, then all of a character's actions have to fit, no matter how convoluted the shaping process. It's my job, with or without the director's help, to figure out how to make it fit. It doesn't have to be rational: the character may not be rational; but the actions have to fit the character, the character has to fit the actions. If I can't justify my character's action, then I'm not reading the character right. That, in conjunction with figuring out how the character says the lines, is far more work than the memorization of lines or blocking.

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#198447 - 03/22/11 04:04 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Candy Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 1705
Loc: down under
Talking about plays, acting and getting words perfect, Peter
Luke thought you might be interested in this.....

NEW TURBO ENTABULATOR




Edited by Candy (03/22/11 08:11 AM)
Edit Reason: re posted data

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#198454 - 03/22/11 07:23 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Susan G]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Interestingly, that link takes me to a Gmail error page; however, a Google search found it. There are several versions to choose from, but it's a rather nicely done bit of work, whichever you choose. The fellow has done his homework on getting the lines right, but I think he needs to spend more time coordinating the parts he mentions with the diagram and the model. sorry, but I've been in directorial mode for the last several weeks, and we're getting down to the nit-picking stage.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I enjoyed it.

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#198455 - 03/22/11 08:04 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
Candy Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 1705
Loc: down under
Originally Posted By: Tromboniator
The fellow has done his homework on getting the lines right.....



And so have you.

I don't know why the link isn't working because it did two days ago...maybe its because it came from my email, I don't know wink
but glad you enjoyed it. As soon as I saw it I said 'Peter should see this'.

I have tried to fix above post/link

As an actor..it must be the hardest to deliver a 'deadpan' performance and carry it off.

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#198458 - 03/22/11 10:49 AM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Candy]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6705
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
I think of teleprompters.
_________________________
----please, draw me a sheep----

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#198465 - 03/22/11 03:53 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Candy]
Tromboniator Offline
old hand

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 845
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: Candy


I have tried to fix above post/link

As an actor..it must be the hardest to deliver a 'deadpan' performance and carry it off.


Thanks for fixing the link: I liked that version more than the ones I watched last night, especially the second speaker's reference to a WUPD2 (whoop-do-doo). Apparently those people recorded versions for a lot of different companies. Luke, they may have used a teleprompter or similar aid, but as often as the description of the device was recorded, I would guess that the fellow knew his stuff. It's difficult to pull off some of those nonsense words and phrases without great familiarity.

Yes, Candy, delivering ridiculous material is quite a challenge, particularly if it still seem funny after many repetitions. It's hard enough if an audience starts laughing, but if a fellow actor loses control (unforgivable!) it's a severe test. I would think that doing a performance for video would be difficult because those off camera would not be under the same constraints as those on, so that even if they managed to stifle audible outbursts, the actors could still see their physical responses.

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#198466 - 03/22/11 04:52 PM Re: spacing conventions [Re: Tromboniator]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6705
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
Sorry for the mislead. With teleprompters I was speaking
more of politicians, and we know they don't rehearse.
_________________________
----please, draw me a sheep----

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