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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Overly Common Screenplay Spelling Error

When someone shakes in fear, anger, or disgust, it is called shuddering, not shuttering! You can't imagine how many times I've seen this mistake made. And when it happens a number of times in a single script, you know it has to be a foolish error, not just a typo.

Bottom line? If you're not great at spelling (or grammar for that matter), don't rely on the built in spell-checker. Have someone who knows what they're talking about proofread the damn thing!

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Blogger Melanie said...

Amen, brother. I proofread textbooks for a living, and I run across this kind of thing all the time. There's even a poem out there circulating on the net about the perils of spellchecking. Here's the first stanza (enter any line as a Google search and you can probably find the whole thing):

Eye halve a spell chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Spellcheck programs only make sure that a word appears in the dictionary. They can never make sure that any given word is used properly.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Ha ha! I love that Melanie! I'll have to find the whole thing. :-)

2:22 AM  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"When someone shakes in fear, anger, or disgust, it is called shuddering, not shuttering!"

Maybe it's implied that the character is part camera?

My number one peeve is the mix-up of the character "nodding" when the author meant for the character to say no and "shakes his head" when the writer meant the opposite.

The Missus drubs me on compound words when she proofs my work, I'm too lazy to look them up in the dictionary because I have her as a fallback.

6:23 AM  
Anonymous Chris Soth said...

Or is that fall back?

shuddering/shuttering seems just to be based on a homonym...as so many are...all part and parcel of the dynamic between written and spoken speech, the most aggravating thing being that if enough PEOPLE MAKE THE MISTAKE for LONG ENOUGH, it becomes common usage, is put in the dictionary and is considered "correct"...here's a few I've had to fight out w/writing partners:

...do you flesh out or flush out a character or story beat? Is the image adding flesh to bone, or causing the hidden and needed knowledge out of the underbrush?

When someone refuses to pay on a bet are they "welshing" or "welching"?

A skilled cheater at poker is a "card shark" or "card sharp"?

A temporary, slapped-together, unsound rigging for a mechanical or structural device or element is that "jury-rigged" or "jerry-rigged"?

Some of the above have a right/wrong answer, at least one, both answers are correct...

WORST OF ALL...when you are taught one thing in school...it's drummed into you...you get it right, but then you get old and THE PEOPLE MAKING THE MISTAKE, THE ONES WHO DIDN'T GET IT....WIN!

I mean, it just becomes part of common usage. It was DRILLED into my head:

"All right"...it's two words, not one. That's what I got in school. Not anymore. God I feel old...


It's in the dictionary like that now. So, we just lower the bar to all those who couldn't get it in 8th grade english. You win, we'll spell it your way. Now, my way, the RIGHT WAY is still acceptable...thanks for accepting me for passing the same spelling quiz you all failed, you common users!

But, it's a living language, right? You can't fight city hall and the Random House Dictionary.

More homonym pet peeves:


I could of told you that'd be a problem.

Some of you missed that one...now take a look at this:

I could've told you that'd be a problem.

Yes, could've is a contraction of "could have", "could of" is grammatical nonsense, tho' a homonym for a sense-making grammatical phrase.

We all miss them...and it's fine in our blogs, but not in our scripts...


10:07 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Good ones!

Chris, you actually remind me of two others I hate. First, on the confused between two:

I always argued with a professor in college about deep seated vs. deep seeded (and now I can't even remember which is right, and they both make sense to me for different reasons).

But most of all, I hate when people write/say, "I could care less." Well then go ahead and care less! Maybe that means you actualyl care about this quite a bit! The phrase is, "I couldn't care less," people! As in, I care so little about this, it would be impossible for me to care any less.

But in this cae, I do care, so I guess I not only could care less, but if you're right about the changing language, perhaps I should care less, as well.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous chris Soth said...

I go for "deep-seated", but hadn't even thought of the other...

...but "could care less", yuk!

But how we gonna win? I cling to the way I learned it...and it just makes me feel OLD.


10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love making the spell checker 'learn' all the swear words, and for some reason it doesn't like Cadillac.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Eleanor said...

The one that drives me nuts is when people use wake to mean something going ahead of someone/thing.
A wake follows behind a ship, people.
Just like staying awake to hold a wake happens after the person you're mourning is dead, not before hand.
Sorry, rant over.

4:52 PM  

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