Twenty four words you can't say in Final Draft

One of the last things I do before I consider a script ready to send out is run a global search for my personal list of proscribed words. These words are not forbidden because they are naughty – it's a script, fuck that – but because I use them too often.

We all have such words. Most of them stand in for the pauses we add to our everyday speech. We want pauses in our dialogue, so we stick 'em in there too. Problem is, different readers use different words for their pauses, and most readers add the pauses in their own heads and don't need those words. Though we sprinkle our everyday speech with well's, oh's and you know's, a page of dialogue studded with those words causes pain. As I mentioned in a
previous post, dialogue needs to sound like real people talking – only better.

Everyone has their own habitual vocabulary. That's one of the ways literary forensic types determine disputed authorship. Though you should make your own list of dangerous words, here's my version:

Actually, usually, a lot, like, always, very, well, here, yeah, hey, ok/okay, maybe, just, oh, pretty, guess, more, quite, bit, you know, right, even, of course, so

Though I search for every word, I don't remove every instance. People use these words. Dialogue without them might sound strange. But it's eye-opening to skip from instance to instance and realize how often the words pop up. Though I don't remove them all, I remove enough. Sometimes I get a page less script for my labor. Hey, that's actually worth it, you know?

Here's another note. While running this search, do a quick scan of every incidence of your/you're and make sure you've got them right. No, you are not ignorant for mixing them up – it's something your typing fingers do without consulting your brain. But you LOOK ignorant if they remain wrong in your finished draft.


Larry and Jen said...

Can you use George Carlin's 8 words?

eamenes said...

If you're writing a currently-popular hard R comedy, I think you are required to use them :-)