Writing Plays/Screenwriting/Emdash punctuation

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Question
Hi Barry. Is it proper to use a punctuation mark when an emdash is used. i.e.
         GEORGE
         Will you answer my question? --

         GINO
         You will have your answer when I
         decide to give it to you.

Is the question mark and emdash used appropriately in my example? Thank you very much.  Dave

Answer
Hi Dave,

I'm on the road, and I've only received this a minute ago.
         
It isn't customary to use the em dash after a punctuated sentence as in--

         GEORGE
        Will you answer my question? --

If you wish to indicate a pause between the two speakers, it would be appropriate to frame it in one of two ways:

1.
         GEORGE
        Will you answer my question?
A beat.

         GINO
        You will have your answer when I
        decide to give it to you.

2.
         GEORGE
        Will you answer my question?

         GINO
         (a beat)
        You will have your answer when I
        decide to give it to you.

BTW, I try to avoid giving my characters names beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. I've found that readers get confused as to who is who.

If the above is from a screenplay you're writing, you might want to consider renaming one of the above characters.

Wishing you success with your writing,
Barry  

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Barry Pearson

Expertise

I`m a credited writer on nine feature films. My latest movie, IRON ROAD, which stars Peter O'Toole and Sam Neill, opened as feature, then aired as a four-hour miniseries on network television. Sun Li, the Chinese star, won the best actress award at the Roma Fiction Fest recently. www.ironroadthemovie.com) I’ve produced more than 300 episodes of television drama, including 13 episodes of Deepwater Black, and 106 episodes of Katts & Dog (Rin-Tin-Tin, K-9 Cop in the U.S.). I've answered over 1200 All Experts questions!

Experience

I've been in the business of writing and producing feature films, television series, and MOW's for over 20 years. You can check me out at this URL http://www.createyourscreenplay.com/aboutbp.htm

Publications
You can find my books on Amazon. See DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR STORY (http://tinyurl.com/StoryStealers)which is a stripped-down readable summary of copyright, full of entertaining anecdotes and real-life examples. Read about the true horror stories that clearly show you what you need to do to avoid the misfortune of having your literary material stolen. Find out: * How to take simple inexpensive steps to protect yourself, before, during, and after you write your literary work. * How copyright law applies to writers of literary works. * How literary works enter public domain, and how you can use it to your advantage. * What aspects of literary works are protected by copyright, and what aspects are not protected. * How to create documentation that will prove your copyright entitlement in the event of an infringement on your rights. * How you can protect yourself if you are contracted to write for television. You’ll also get a FREE sample of an Option and Purchase Agreement, a contract used in the acquisition of rights in a literary property—a contract that you and your lawyer can customize for your property. Written by a writer, for writers, Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Story will help you protect yourself against plagiarists and anyone else who might infringe your right of sole ownership. ------------- Also on Amazon, my book of four short stories, THE TWENTY-BUSHEL RACER. A man’s redemption from bitterness enables him to become a loving father. A teenager discovers the importance of his attachment to the people in his life and the place where he is growing up. A man, who has for years considered himself a coward and a betrayer of his comrades, musters the courage to stand up against a pair of would-be assassins. Two young men, who grew up in the same town, meet unexpectedly, reminisce about a girl they both loved when they were boys, and unveil a truth that changes both their lives.

Education/Credentials
Master of Arts degree (Drama)

Awards and Honors
Among my awards are Best Screenplay, Best Picture, at the International Film & Television Festival of New York for THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDWIN ALONZO BOYD, Best Screenplay, Feature Film, at the 12th International Film Festival in Sitges, Spain for PLAGUE, and a Special Jury Award, Feature Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival for PLAGUE.

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