How to Write Parallel Action in a Script

Parallel Action in a Script

Two or more action sequences are happening at once. Exciting. Reminds me of every single Cristopher Nolan movie. 

But how would you write this in a screenplay?

How to Write Parallel Action in a Script? You write parallel action into a screenplay by writing the two scene headings for the action’s locations and descriptions. Then, you write “INTERCUT” to indicate you are cross-cutting the two places together. Finally, when you’re finished, write “END INTERCUT.”


Jesse grabs her purse. She sprints for the door. 
Rod dashes down the street. He whips out his cell phone and dials.
Jesse's house phone rings. She ignores it. She turns the handle of the door. 
Rod gets the voice mail. 
Jesse, don't leave. They know. Stay there, can you hear me. 
Jessie waddles back from the door. A suited man stands in the doorway.
Rod hangs up and high tales it. 

What if you had three things happening at once? You would write:


Simple. Right?

In scripts and movies, most intercutting happens in a phone conversation but can be done with action all the same. The options are endless. It all depends on your creativity. 

When it comes to action, it’s best only to use this technique in high-pressure situations in your screenplay. No one wants to see parallel action of a gas station stop and a man watching TV. 

Parallel Action Script Examples

Like in all action or thriller movies, parallel action can increase tension and help the reader imagine what will happen next. Let’s see how it’s done in some popular scripts.

The Matrix Screenplay (1998)

In this script they use the INTERCUT WITH:

But its only after introducing both scenes.

The Matrix Movie (1999)
The Dark Knight Screenplay (2008)

In this example they write it as an action line.

I’m showing you these alternatives examples to prove that it doesn’t matter how you write it as long as it’s clear to the reader what’s happening.

Now its time to hear from you:

Did I miss anything?

Why are you writing parallel action?

What moment in your screenplay is it for?

Whatever your answer is, let’s hear it in the comments below.

How to Write Parallel Action in a Script
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