Time for a pop quiz about using numbers in your dialogue.
Part 1 – Regular Numbers
Is the following usage correct?
I can live for 2 months on a good compliment.
It’s actually incorrect. Numbers should always be spelled out, as follows:
I can live for two months on a good compliment.
Part 2 – Times
How about this example? Is it correct?
You are going to bring me my coffee at precisely 8:45 A.M. Is that clear?
Nope, that’s wrong too. All times need to be spelled out in dialogue. A correct version would be written as follows:
You are going to bring me my coffee at precisely eight forty-five A.M. Is that clear?
Hey don’t get mad at me, I didn’t make up the rules. Actors don’t like to read numbers inside of dialogue. They can disrupt the visual flow of words and make the dialogue harder to memorize… or something like that.
The Exception – Years
In The Screenwriter’s Bible, Trottier says you can use numbers for years. So the following would be correct:
No, my brother is nineteen, not twenty. And my grandpa was born in 1920.
How’d you do on the quiz?