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Intercut Sequences That Are Not Phone Conversations

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Intercut Sequences That Are Not Phone Conversations

Postby Garbhan » Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:34 am

I understand how to format an intercut sequence for a phone conversation(mostly dialogue) but what about something like the following:

A cop looks for something in his car, which is parked in front of a house.

At the same time:

More cops chase a suspect through the woods behind that house.

We go back and forth a few times between these scenes. Cop #1 eventually ends up behind the house too, where he meets the other cops who have now caught the suspect. Finally, they all end up back at the car in front of the house.

Do I format it like this?:


Cop A and Cop B chase the suspect around the back of the house.

Cop C heads for the car. INTERCUT WITH:


Cop A and Cop B chase the suspect, dodging trees left and right.

Cop C looks through the trunk of the car. He finds what he wants and heads for the back of the house.

Cop A and Cop B sprint hard and take the suspect down. They cuff him and walk him back to the house. They meet Cop C.                dialogue

They all head back to the car.


Do I really only put the scene headings once?

I'm worried that switching back and forth between the action(rather than dialogue like in a phone convo) is confusing.

Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated!

- Ruth
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:55 am

Intercut Sequences That Are Not Phone Conversations

Postby nissim42 » Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:23 am

Hi Ruth,

E-mail me at [email protected], put "excerpts" in the subject line and I'll send you formatting samples from my book  HOLLYWOOD SCREENPLAY FORMATTING MADE EASY.

In your example, you have two choices:

A.  write the scenes with normal scene headings for each cut, or

B.  establish the two scenes with a scene heading for each, and write INTERCUT in caps in

action format or general format if you're using Final Draft, and then continue to describe the action.

I strongly recommend you never use CONTINUOUS, CONTINUING,SAME TIME, or any other item at the end of your scene heading.  It makes added work for the production planning, and it confuses many readers, who stop and try to puzzle out what it means.  It's also considered by many readers to be "show-offy" and pretentious.

You only need four times of day to tell your story -- DAY, NIGHT,DUSK, DAWN -- and one of these should be at the end of every scene heading.  

The action sequence you've described here is, in my opinion, too short to use the INTERCUT style.

I don't think INTERCUT style would confuse the reader, because the reader is tracking the characters, Cop A,B, and C.

You should be wary of writing "shoe leather" action.  By that I mean action that shows *nothing more than* characters wearing out their shoes(or the tires on their car).

"They cuff him and walk him back to the house" is such a description, and so is "They all head back to the car."  Unless there is an important dialogue exchange that goes on while they walk. Better to end the scene where they take him down, and cut to Cop C at the car already when they meet him.

I hope this helps.

All the best,




[email protected]
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:31 pm

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