I want to take on some of the more questionable and tricky details of script formatting within the next three installments.
Ted appears anxious, eyeballing the luggage. Thelma rolls her eyes.
The first example is wrong because for several reasons, one of the most important being that the parenthetical is used to give SHOT INFO. Another big reason is that, when using a ( ) under a dialogue header (character name), you must keep it specifically about THAT particular character.
Parentheticals are used to describe (short) actions that characters may simultaneously perform as they speak, but that doesn't mean that you can slip a whole shot in and get away with it. It can sometimes be an hard call, but the key idea to keep in mind is KEEP IT SHORT if you're putting it in parentheticals.
**Parentheticals can also be used to show who a character is talking to, or how they're speaking, ie; sarcastic, mockingly, etc.
In the second example, the smooth flow that should be on hand in every script is kept in tact. The flow of a script is highly important, and something as 'detail-ish' as a few extra words in paretheses can throw that off. Parentheticals also take up space (space is vital in a script), and they can force your actor(s) to feel as if they have no creative control over their character and interpretation. So while they are an important and helpful element in a screenplay, they're also more trouble than they're worth if over-used or used wrong.
Using VOICE OVER (V.O.)
One element that I see very misused is the Voice Over (V.O.). It too utilizes the parenthetical, but it is a vital element all on its own.
Here's an example of correct usage of Voice Over:
Shirley takes a seat on a nearby park bench. Steven follows.
They're very simple to use, though very important. Its also important that you use them correctly and don't confuse them with Off Screens (O.S.).
Using OFF SCREENS (O.S.)
OFF SCREEN is an element very similar to (V.O.), but the rules that determine which to use is what sets them apart.
Both elements utilize parentheticals, and both are used when a character is speaking but is not seen. Unlike (V.O.), (O.S.) implies that the character can be heard, is nearby, but is not on screen.
Here's an example:
Laura is comfortable on her bed with her journal.
Laura, come on downstairs and eat
Laura turns up her radio, drowing out her mom's voice.
Laura, don't make me come up there!