Character, Dialogue & Parentheticals



Celtx’s Auto Formatter will take care of most of the heavy lifting when it comes to correctly identifying and formatting your characters. When the “Character” element is selected from the Element dropdown, your character names will be correctly situated in the middle of the page and will appear as in all caps - this is industry standard. 

As well, once you enter a character name, smart suggestions will make it available to you to autofill when you begin typing that name again, and all of your identified Characters will be automatically tagged in your Breakdown and be added to your Catalog.

*This option to automatically tag your characters can be disabled under the Breakdown Settings.

Voice Over, Off Screen & Off Camera Characters

Sometimes you’ll have Characters that don’t appear on screen within your scene. Examples of this are Voice Over, Off Screen, or Off Camera characters.

A Voice Over Character is someone that doesn’t appear in your script at the time they’re speaking, but is often someone the audience is familiar with. This can be a narrator who remains unseen throughout the script, or a character that makes an appearance in another scene. They are identified by typing (V.O), (VO.) or (V.O.) after the name of the Character.


Off Screen and Off Camera are often used interchangeably and indicate that a character who cannot be seen is speaking, but is still in the same physical location. Off Camera was used primarily in the past, but has been seemingly replaced with the Off Scene more recently. They are identified by typing (O.S), (OS.) or (O.S.), or (O.C), (OC.) or (O.C.) after the name of the Character. Whichever you choose, make sure that you’re consistent in which one you use if they appear more than once. 

*The option to automatically tag these in your Breakdown is Off by default, but can be included by turning these options on within the Breakdown Settings.


Once you hit Enter after typing in a Character name, Celtx will intuitively assume that the next thing you will write will be Dialogue, moving your cursor to the correct position and format in the middle of the page beneath your Character name. 

When writing Dialogue, it’s important to keep the traits and personality of your character top of mind. You want the words of your characters to be authentic. Ask yourself, would someone really speak this way? More specifically, is this something that my character would truly say? Conversations and exchanges should flow naturally between characters and add to the story as it moves along. Along with Action, Dialogue is the most effective way within a script to capture the attention of your readers and move the story along. 

Dual Dialogue

There may also be times when two Characters within your script are speaking at the same time. To accomplish this within your script, you’ll want to use Dual Dialogue. This formats your Dialogue side-by-side, allowing the reader to understand that it’s being spoken at the same time. To do this, select the “Edit” dropdown > “Format” > “Dual Dialogue” and enter the prompted information.


Parentheticals are also a tool in your Writer toolbox, and are an option for selection under the Element Dropdown. This refers to written direction on how a line of dialogue is delivered, and is indicated in brackets between the Character name and Dialogue.. 


As the Writer, you’ll have an idea in your mind of how conversations and exchanges will take place and sound, and a Parenthetical can be used to indicate this. However, it’s important not to “over-direct” in these cases. Used too frequently, they can be disruptive to the narrative the reader is creating in their head, and leaves less room for the eventual Actor to make the role their own.


Next Up >> Acts

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