Style Sheet

Or, the saga of the humble comma

No one has actually ever asked me about this, but I've thought about it a lot and thought it might be handy to actually write this stuff down, as much for my benefit as yours. So, here's how the synopses are (theoretically) organized and written down. Please keep in mind that I didn't have a style when I started writing these, and although I've tried to go back and make the earlier ones consistent, I've just not had the time to re-write them as thoroughly as I'd like to (yet), and there are still lingering whoopsies.


I get all my information off the screen first, and from other sources second. I have been known to add tidbits gleaned from reading, the Rysher Site and other sources, but most of those go in the comments sections. I don't have scripts, and although I've recently gained (somewhat spotty) access to the closed-captions, the written dialogue is still generated by me sitting down with a set of headphones and the rewind button.

Here's the generic template for each synopsis:

Production No.
Table of Contents
Act One
Act Two
Act Three
Act Four
Next episode
Author stuff


These are listed in the order and format in which they appear on the screen. Why so picky? Because the order in which actors are listed is often the subject of hot contract negotiations, as is whether or not a credit appears last, and as "so-and-so" as "so-and-so" or not. Yep, it's that important, so I keep it as it's written on screen as much as possible. Information in parentheses is not from the screen, and is generally gleaned from the dialogue, or (as a last resort) the Rysher Site (useful information most of the time, but they've got this problem with proper names and spelling . . . Nicholas "Les" for goodness sake!)

Directors, writers, and production numbers are copied right from the screen, nothing special there. (The clever among you will have probably noticed that we use the episode number to generate our file names.) Production numbers are in the final credits, in case you think you've been missing them.

While I'm at it, here's a quick run-down of the scheme of said production numbers. Yes there is a scheme, and once you know it you can get a surprising amount of info from the little critters. Here's the number for the episode "Methos" (just as a purely random selection, you understand . . .): 94316-60. The numbers are broken into four sections as follows: First two numbers, production year. Next number, season. Next two numbers, script/production number. Last numbers, episode number. (Like this: [94][3][16]-[60]). So, Methos is part of the 1994 season--i.e. the third season of Highlander--, and is the sixteenth episode produced in that season, and is the sixtieth episode of Highlander overall. Those of you who know about all the hoopla surrounding the episode "Revelation 6:8" can now see the significance of its production number: 96512-100. Anyway, just some random trivia.

Table of Contents

I have basic rule for this: if there's a caption on the screen, I put it in the Table of Contents. This rule was sorely tested while doing "The Stone of Scone" (Twenty, count 'em, twenty links), but I stuck to it grimly nonetheless. Mostly, though, this just means that there are links to the Teaser, Acts 1-4, the Tag and the Flashbacks, which is all you really need, after all . . .

Teasers, Acts, and Tags

Don't ask me where I learned this, because I don't remember, but it's a common practice to refer to the sections between commercials as "Acts." The short bit that precedes the credits is called the "Teaser." (In the first three seasons of Highlander, the credits came first, then the teaser, and then the first commercial break, but now the credits follow the teaser.) The closing scene, especially if it's set apart from the fourth and final act by a commercial break is called the "Tag" (though I've heard some refer to the final scene of the fourth act, whether set off by commercials or not, as the tag). Many shows use scenes from the upcoming episode in the place of a filmed teaser, and Highlander is actually one of the few shows that has a real honest-to-goodness tag, though some shows run tags as they run the credits. So, there will always be six basic divisions to the body of the synopsis: A Teaser, four Acts and a Tag.

Dialogue and Text

Dialogue follows a basic format:

Speaker's name in boldface and how they said it or what they were doing preceded by a colon: "What they said in double quotations."

As for writing the actual dialogue, I do my best to write it down exactly as it's spoken, but there are a couple of things I try to do. First of all, these are written to be read, and I feel that it behooves me to make them, well, readable. Therefore, I try to avoid writing "gonna" instead of "going to," "gotta," instead of "got to," and so on. I do, however, use oddball contractions like "I'd've" and so on. I guess my rule is no "made-up" words, but contracting "real" words is okay. As for punctuation, I try to use it rhetorically, i.e. commas for brief pauses, periods for full stops, and elipses for long pauses. (Unfotunately, when I first began doing them I used elipses to indicate gaps in dialogue, where I omitted sections for brevity. I did this from "Judgement Day" up to about "The Messenger," and I'm working on filling in those gaps. Sorry if this causes confusion.) At the same time, I also try to make the punctuation "grammatically" correct, so that it's easy to read as well as conveying the sense of the pace of the dialogue. Why yes, I do juggle chainsaws in my spare time . . .

Naturally, all the above applies to ideal situations, when there aren't extraneous boxing matches, revving motorcycles, and actresses with horrendous diction to interefere with the course of true transcription. If I can't hear what's going on, I have a couple of ways of dealing (apart from tearing my hair and frothing at the mouth: that's for special situations, like Act Two of "The Ransom of Richard Redstone." But I've of course forgotten all about that by now). Usually, I simply insert brackets and question marks at the appropriate place, like so: [??]. [??] means that I simply have no clue what the heck the person is saying. Now, if I think I know, I'll type in the words, but enclose the dubious sections in brackets, like this: "[It's your problem] if you're seen here." If it's a proper name or foreign word that I'm not sure I spelled correctly, I'll write it without brackets, but put a question in parenthesis, not brackets, after it: Spinoza (?) (In some spots I used (sp?) instead. Same thing.)

Now that even the brand-new episodes are close-captioned, some of the guesswork has been thankfully eliminated, especially since Highlander seems to be one of the few shows where the dialogue is transcribed word for word. But I still rely first and foremost on my own little ears, and I use the captions as a means of checking myself. This means, sometimes, that the captions and I simply don't agree. When that happens, I write down what I think I've heard, and put the close-caption version in brackets following, like this: "It'll pay handsomly, at least two pounds a week." [CC: "2 bronze a week."]. I'm told, by the way, that these discrepancies are often the result of last-minute script changes, so it's kinda neat to see here and there where little changes were made.

In general, the text apart from the dialogue is just descriptive: How Duncan said, "Okay," the expression on Methos's face when he's crabbing at Duncan, occasional idle drooling, etc. This is more subjective than the dialogue, but again I try to write what I see without over-interpreting. If I have a short comment to make that doesn't really flow with the narrative, I'll set it off in square brackets and usually append my name just to be perfectly clear that this is me speaking, and not anything happening on the screen at the moment. Basically, I use this when I've got something to say that doesn't justify a whole paragraph in the Notes section. If it is a longer comment, I just stick it at the end and put a [see Note] message at the appropriate spot. The stuff in the brackets ranges from the serious, such as praising kind folks who've contributed tidbits, to the frivolous. There's just no telling what I'll be moved to say at any given point, I guess.


It's not like I don't interject my own comments throughout anyway, but here's where I dump all the remarks, trivia, and miscellaneous tidbits of information that may (or may not) be of interest apart from just the descriptions of the action. Most of this stuff is either a) behind the scenes stuff that I've heard from lurking on various groups and from idle surfing, or b) personal opinions that don't really fit into the context. I don't put it down unless I believe it to be true, but I don't have any inside track or special sources. (If I did, I wouldn't have to resort to naming characters "Sunshine" and "Fido," sigh) These notes are, for the most part, just my extremely humble opinion, as always.

Date Revised

This is about the "Last Rev" at the bottom. The linked letter-and-number is the actual dating system, which you can find out about by clicking on the link. The calendar date in brackets is the translation of that. Why am I mentioning this? Because I had no clue that the funny little letters and numbers meant anything until--after I'd been doing the HTML for several months--Ian mentioned that I hadn't been changing both sets of dates when I'd revised. I'd just been changing what looked, to me, like the real date and ignoring the other stuff. Anyway, it's kind of a neat little dating system, so check it out if you're curious.

Well, that's it. Hopefully this has been helpful. Any questions, mail me and I'll do my best to enlighten . . .

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These pages are written by Jinjifore and are translated into HTML and maintained by Ian.
©Copyright 1997 by Jinjifore
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Celtic clip art courtesy of the Celtic Art Web Page.
Last Rev: CCH [ 12 Dec 97 ]