Screenwriting Basics - The Slug LineThis article explores the basic formatting rules for the screenplay slug line.
It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of correct formatting when writing a screenplay. One of the key components in screenplay formatting is the slug line.
In a screenplay, slug lines are used to denote the beginning of each a new scene. Each slug line contains three pieces of information.
1. Whether the scene is an interior or exterior location.
2. The actual location of the scene.
The time of day during which the scene takes place.
Every slug line should begin with either INT., which stands for interior, or EXT., which stands for exterior.
The next elements of the slug line is the location. This is where most people run into problems.
Rather than: JERRY’S GRUNGY APARTMENT COMPLEX
You might write: TENEMENT
Only write the essential information.
There may be an occasion where a screenplay has more than one similar location. In this event, it may be necessary to include additional information to distinguish one location from the other.
Still, always keep things simple.
The last element in the slug line is the time of day. Common times include: DAY, NIGHT, AFTERNOON, MORNING, EVENING.
While other times, such as DUSK, are acceptable, it is important to remember to keep things simple.
Below is an example of a completed slug line:
INT. TENEMENT - DAY
Notice the single dash between the location and the time of day. Other punctuations have been used in the past, however, currently the single dash is the most widely accepted.
There are two ways slug lines are sometimes modified.
When the action of a film happens in different places within the same location, it may be necessary to indicate that each place is distinct and within the primary location.
The CORRIDOR verses The BASEMENT of a TENEMENT.
There are two common ways including this in the slug line.
The first is to write the specific location, followed by a comma, then the general location.
INT. CORRIDOR, TENEMENT - DAY
The other way of doing it is to place a single dash between the specific location and the general location.
INT. CORRIDOR - TENEMENT - DAY
Both methods are fairly common.
The other way to modify a slug line is to replace the time of day with a indicator of time passage. Either: CONTINUOUS, or MOMENTS LATER.
If the action from one scene to the next is continuous, such as a character exiting one room and entering an adjacent room, it is acceptable to replace the time of day with CONTINUOUS.
INT. CORRIDOR, TENEMENT - CONTINUOUS
Also, a short passage of time can be indicated by replacing the time of day with MOMENTS LATER.
INT. CORRIDOR, TENEMENT - MOMENTS LATER
This should be used sparingly.
One important thing to remember when writing a slug line is to keep it simple. Slug lines serve a purpose by giving the reader a point of reference for each scene, but should be written in a way not to draw attention to themselves.
Content Source: Bukisa - Screenwriting Basics - The Slug Line