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Being Punctual

Air Date: 12/28/2023

Being Punctual


In case you haven’t noticed, many episodes of this podcast have been about acting choices we can use to create our characters. We’ve shared the value of vocal pitch, the beauty of pace and making moments with beats. The last of these tools in our tool kit is often overlooked and underappreciated. I’m talking about the writer’s emotional/technical shorthand found in every script. That is, punctuation. The title of this episode is being punctual but that has to do with time. But you’re already here which means let’s put a period on this introduction and exclaim, “This is Casting Actors Cast!”


The value of punctuation when working on a script:

1.    Writers contribution to interpreting the character’s persona

2.    Guide to understanding how the dialog fits the context of the scene

3.    Demonstrates the rhythm of the story/character

Punctuation that matters

·       The period-Beat/Gear change

·       The Coma- Thought shift add on to the main point

·       Exclamation-Emotional and energy demonstration

·       The Ellipse-Unspoken expectation or pause in thought

·       Italics- Unique interpretation or heightened focus 

·       Parentheses- Occasionally used to show completed thought not said

Methods to work with punctuation

1.    Read the dialog and punctuation out loud

2.    Employ gear changes whenever the punctuation is seen

3.    Use punctuation as emotional guideposts

Issues with being overly focused with punctuation

1.    Becomes about the dialog and not bout the character

2.    Sometimes the punctuation can get in the way of the character

3.    Once the writer’s intention is understood, move into your own creative choices


No matter what you are working on, be it an audition, classwork or just reading a new script, make sure you really invest in the technical shorthand the writer is providing. Punctuation can offer valuable insight and meaningful understanding to the story being told. You will save yourself a ton of frustration by including these little symbols with your already creative process.


Jeffrey Dreisbach, Casting Partner, McCorkle Casting LTD-New York, NY

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