WRYLIES (she wryly mentions)…Avoid using them.

“Wrylies” are the name given to those parenthetical phrases that come between a character and his/her dialog.

They are sometimes used by a writer in an effort to tell the actor how to say the line. This is never, ever a reason to use a Wryly.

Telling the actor how to say a line is not the writer’s job; it’s the director’s.

Example of what not to do:



Yeah, I bet.

Besides, your writing should have already communicated exactly what the talking character’s emotional state is.

If you need a Wryly to accomplish that, there is something mightily wrong and you need to rework the piece, not add a Wryly.

A Wryly can be used when there are more characters in the scene – Bob, Chuck, Lily and Shannon – and you want to let us know which specific character the talker is talking to –


(to Bob)

Yeah, I bet.

Or a Wryly can be used, rarely, rarely, rarely to tell the manner in which a character is speaking.  And if that’s the case, use a Wryly ONLY if it’s not obvious by what’s happening in the scene.



Yeah, I bet.

Again…the screenwriting mantra comes into play… “Show Don’t Tell.”

When a writer uses Wrylies to communicate his characters’ emotional conditions and/or in an effort to tell the actors how to deliver their characters’ lines, that writer is telling not showing.

If a writer has to use more than one or two wrylies in a screenplay the overall writing style and character development is not conveying what it needs to.

2 thoughts

  1. I’m liking your writing tips so far. This was a handy one. It’s hard to know if reader is on board with the story and characters sometimes. So I don’t know if wrylies are needed in those situations. I like your advice though. Use them when it is not obvious emotion has shifted in conversation. Thanks.


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