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Some time ago Έρικ Κωνσταντόπουλος (Erik the Outgolfer) mentioned the following in the chat:

I've noticed there are both and , sometimes on the same question too!

Both tags have neither a tag wiki excerpt nor a full tag wiki, so it's hard to see what the difference is. There are 26 questions tagged with and 38 questions tagged with , which suggests that people are more frequently using the word "script", especially because 13 questions are tagged with both tags, which is half of all questions tagged .

As there was no reaction in the chat I started to look through the question and it seems to me like should be made the synonym of .

What does the community say? Is there any difference I am missing? If so, could someone update the tag wikis to make it easier to see what that difference is and look through the questions to see whether they are using the tags correctly?

  • When one tag is an initial substring of another, it's better to just merge. If somebody types "script" then "scriptwriting" will come up (assuming that's the tag we keep). Maybe what we really want is scripts. – Monica Cellio Apr 11 '18 at 16:24
  • I agree with @MonicaCellio about using the plural form. – a CVn Apr 11 '18 at 16:49
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    Please don't do the plural form!!!!!!!! Tags for forms of writing are all singular: novel, not novels; short story, not short stories, etc. Why should we label a question about writing one script "scripts"? It makes absolutely no sense at all. – user29032 Apr 11 '18 at 18:23
  • @Cloudchaser On most sites of the network you will see plural tags being used for countable nouns and singular for concepts (see a recent discussion about Insects on WorldBuilding for example or simply the tags on WorldBuilding, which show things like "biology", "culture" and "aliens" or "shapeshifters"). – Secespitus Apr 11 '18 at 18:37
  • @Secespitus Novel, play, etc. are concepts. It's "playwriting", not "playswriting". Questions here are about "how to write a novel", not "how to write novels" (because if you know how to write one novel you know how to write many). Novels are like bicycles: You don't learn to ride bicycles, you learn to ride a bike. The one bike that is representative of them all. So again, please don't make the tags plural! That's nonsense. Questions here deal with "the novel", that is, the concept of the novel. Dealing with novels is for Literature.SE. – user29032 Apr 11 '18 at 18:46
  • @Cloudchaser Changing the tag to plural was not originally my idea, so I don't see why you would say "again, please don't make the tags plural!" And by the way: tags for forms are not all singular. We already have plays, not play for example, or comics, not comic, websites, not website... There are already quite a few plural tags that might have to be update if the community consensus is that these should be singular, not plural. Currently it's a mix. – Secespitus Apr 11 '18 at 19:08
  • @Secespitus The "please again" was directed at everyone who might be reading these public comments. You are not the only audience here. – The name of the medium is "comics". It has no singular. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comics : "The English term comics is used as a singular noun when it refers to the medium and a plural when referring to particular instances, such as individual strips or comic books." – play should be singular, as I have explained. The plural is a mistake, in my opinion. – user29032 Apr 11 '18 at 19:16
  • @Cloudchaser Comments are to ask for clarification, not to preserve some part of a discussion for future readers. They could be removed at any point for any reason. As you haven't pinged anyone else that had commented I therefore had the impression that you were talking to me. If you want to make sure that future readers see your opinion about not changing the tag to a plural form you should write an answer or start a new meta discussion about this topic. – Secespitus Apr 11 '18 at 19:29
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    The SE-wide norm is for plural tags for countable nouns. I hadn't noticed the extent to which we do not follow that, so we can address that separately. Meanwhile, what about screenwriting, which is bigger than either script or scriptwriting? Not all scripts are for the screen, but maybe we should ditch the "script" idea entirely in favor of screenwriting and playwriting and whatever else applies? (Is there a tag for game scripts? Should there be?) – Monica Cellio Apr 12 '18 at 17:42
  • @MonicaCellio Currently we have videogame, which is supposed to encompass game scripts. Wikipedia lists video games one medium that belongs to screenwriting. – Secespitus Apr 12 '18 at 18:13
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Agreed, there's no substative difference between the tags. Let's make a synonym of and set up a tag wiki. How about something like:

Writing for plays, films, comics, radio, or other similar media.

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    I just looked through our tags and we already have a tag for playwriting... and one for plays that only has two questions, one of which is also tagged playwriting. comics is also present already. The rest seem to be not already encompassed in other tags. Maybe we need to think about whether we want to tag with [...writing] or just with [...] in general. Thanks for the suggestion of a tag wiki! – Secespitus Apr 11 '18 at 13:38
  • No, let's not synonymize substring matches. Typing "script" into the tags field will find "scriptwriting" anyway, so there's no gain there, and every synonym is a little (even if tiny) bit of overhead. – a CVn Apr 11 '18 at 16:47
  • Why can't we just get rid of the scriptwriting and playwriting tags? I mean, we're Writing.SE, so every question about script or play will be about script- or playwriting. – user29032 Apr 11 '18 at 18:28
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    I think the script tag itself is a bad idea, because there are too many kinds of scripts. Screenplay, stage play, and musical or musical theater would be reasonable types of writing that all involve scripts but are very different in many ways. If someone has a question about how to write a script, we are going to need to know which kind of script and then we can tag the question appropriately, and if there is no general "script" tag but there are three tags for the types of script, then that will encourage/assist tagging it better in the first place. – Todd Wilcox May 11 '18 at 18:45
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The substantive difference I see is that "scriptwriting" is actually more restrictive than "script".

In film, what a person writes is called a "spec script", what the director uses is called a "shooting script".

See for example: 5 Key Differences Between Spec and Shooting Scripts

In particular and most important,

In spec scripts it’s never a good idea to include camera directions (PAN, DOLLY, TILT UP, ZOOM IN ON, CRANE UP, etc.). It’s the Director’s job to interpret your screenplay and come up with their own shots.

That isn't it, the spec script does NOT contain scene numbers, the shooting script does. And there may be other notes in the shooting script as well, and other sections. For example, the author of a spec script does not write how the title sequences will work, or even suggest it. Those are marks of an amateur.

Our current distinctions may not be clear, but I think "scriptwriting" may be questions about crafting a spec script (to be sold) while "script" might question the meaning of notations, acronyms, or symbols or special effect notes used by directors in a shooting script.

I don't know but a similar distinction might apply to Stage Play scripts, the director may add directorial notes to his copy of the script (although camera angles aren't needed of course, certain stage directions seem likely).

  • From what I've learned so far, there are multiple types of stage play scripts and the conventions on what goes in them and how they are formatted are often very different between screenplays, stage plays, and musical theater. Which is why in another comment I suggest there should be no "script" tag at all. Now whether there should be separate tags for "spec script" and "shooting script" - I would say that's too granular but that's just me. A question that mentions writing a shooting script in the body that is tagged with "screenplay" seems reasonable to me. – Todd Wilcox May 11 '18 at 18:49
  • @ToddWilcox If that is too granular (probably so), then I'd rather have the broader generic "script" than "screenplay". Scripts can include, for example, radio advertisements, commercials of 15/30/60 seconds, work scripts (non-entertainment speeches or presentations or product demonstrations). That said, most writers here are aspiring fiction writers and might appreciate something more specific than script; like screenplay or stage play. – Amadeus May 11 '18 at 19:01
  • Yes, to me "script" too broad, but I do see that trying to have a tag for each kind of script might get onerous. That said, it might not be necessary to distinguish between advertisements, documentaries, journalism, and fiction in script types. That is to say, I wonder if a TV show script is very different from a TV advertisement script. The medium makes a very big difference, so I expect a radio advertisement would have a script that is pretty different from a TV advertisement. – Todd Wilcox May 11 '18 at 19:07

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