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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Q. When one is trying to get the most out of their page count and there is the occasional widow (single word that takes up an entire line) that won't go away, is it OK to occasionally change the dialogue right indentation to accommodate an extra character or two?
No. Of course not. I don't know what you're talking about. Cheat the margins? How dare you. I am shocked, shocked that you would even consider such a thing!

UPDATE: As some readers have pointed out, the better thing to do is to trim unnecessary words elsewhere. Read the dialog out loud. You'll often find you can trim a lot of it.



I think now the question is whether or not that was sarcasm...because as much as it might be, there's also a chance it wasn't.

*goes away and acts confused*

By Blogger Nicholas, at 11:54 PM  

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

I find that, with widows and orphans, there's usually a word or phrase that can be excised in the offending section to shorten it down. I find the necessary tightening of the prose this requires to be easier and better for the work in the long run than tinkering with margins. YMMV.

By Blogger M J Reid, at 1:05 AM  

For the most part, I could care less about the sentence/paragraph orphans.

As long as my page sticks an event at the bottom of the page that gets the reader to turn it.

I like hammering the bottoms of the pages.

There's also an added benefit to orphans. If you've written an action block heavy page, they help add white space -- which in turn helps the read.

But too many, does start to look like you're trying to cheat page count.

By Blogger James, at 5:59 AM  

I had a friend who was kicked out of the WGA for margin futzing. But she did it twice in one script, so it was really like a cry for help...

By Blogger taylor, at 2:02 PM  

They kick you out of the WGA for altering margins?! Did she extend it right across the page or something?

By Blogger Will, at 2:26 PM  

Will, please turn on your sarcasm detector.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 2:42 PM  

Oh, it's on, it's just always faulty.

By Blogger Will, at 4:08 PM  

I was teasing. I'm just not very funny. Sorry.

And, to be fair, I'm far more creative at managing page real estate than I am at actually generating readable content. I don't know many writers who aren't.

By Blogger taylor, at 2:24 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger sex, at 3:22 PM  

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