Wednesday, November 26, 2008  

Tips on Slug Lines

Scene headings or slug lines, as they are commonly called, are a widely accepted convention of “spec” or “master scene” screenplay form. Over the years, I’ve found that new writers frequently have confusions and misunderstandings on the subject, despite having read a basic book or two on the craft aspects of screenwriting. Hence, the reason for this article.

Every time the “where” or the “when” of your story changes, it’s expected that you’ll reorient the reader as to location and time of day with a new slug line. A slug line is composed of three parts:

1) INT. or EXT.
Is it an interior or exterior scene?

The physical location or name of the set where the action of the scene takes place.

Usually simply DAY or NIGHT.


Whether a scene is INT or EXT is to some degree relative. In truth, some of your INT scenes may be shot outdoors and some of your EXT scenes shot indoors against a blue screen. For the sake of simplicity and consistency, I recommend that if the action takes place IN something (a building, a car, a spaceship, etc.) label the scene INT. If the scene takes place outdoors, and not in something, label it EXT.

It’s generally considered poor form to use INT/EXT in combination in a slug line. If the action of a scene shifts from INT to EXT, or EXT to INT, write a new slug line. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re inter-cutting rapidly between an INT and an EXT location, chances are you’re usurping the job of the director by writing HOW your story should be filmed rather than simply telling your story in a compelling fashion.

Scene locations should be specific and descriptive. “INT. RESTAURANT”, is a poor slug line in that it’s neither specific enough, nor descriptive enough. Slug line locations such as, "INT. WANG CHOW’S CHINESE JOINT” or, “INT. BIG ED’S GREASY SPOON DINER”, being both descriptive and specific, are far more visual in the impact they have on the reader.

Be consistent in your description of scene locations. Once you’ve labeled a location as JOE’S BAR AND GRILL, it should not mutate into JOE’S RESTAURANT, and then later, THE BAR AND GRILL ON 8TH STREET. After your screenplay is sold, it will be broken down by location and time (day or night) for budget and scheduling purposes. (Obviously, it’s far more efficient to shoot all scenes taking place in the same location at the same time.) Be kind to your readers by labeling scene locations in a consistent manner.

Avoid presenting extraneous information in your slug lines. (EXT. SANTA MONICA PIER – 1912 - POURING RAIN – DAY) Remember that the audience will never see your slug lines. If it’s important, and not self-evident, that it’s pouring rain and the year is 1912, find a way to present that information via action or dialogue in a filmable way.

Keep your slug line extensions simple. Ninety-nine percent of the time, “DAY” or “NIGHT” will suffice. And again I would remind writers that the audience won’tl ever see your slug lines. I know of no good reason to indicate action is consecutive by using, “CONTINUOUS” as a slug line extension. If action is “continuous” it should be self-evident.

Are some very good high-priced writers non-conventional in their handling of slug lines? You bet! But keep in mind as a new writer, if you follow the generally accepted conventions of screenplay form and format, you’re far less likely to distract the reader from the tale you seek to tell.

Lynne Pembroke and Jim Kalergis

About the Authors:
Lynne Pembroke is a writer, poet, screenwriter and owner of, with over 18 years of experience in screenwriting and screenplay analysis helping individual writers, screenwriting competitions, agents, studios, producers and script consulting companies. Services include screenplay, TV script and treatment analysis, ghostwriting, rewriting and adaptation of novel to screenplay. Jim Kalergis is a working screenwriter. Visit for details.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008  

The Free Screenplay Contest

The FREE SCREENPLAY CONTEST is presented by - The #1 site for screenplay contests. This contest is open to all writers age 18 and over and features cash prizes and industry contacts to winners. There is NO entry fee for mailed entries and a $5.00 service fee for online entries.

Deadlines and Fees
Description Date Fee
Final Nov 30, 2008 -

1st Place - $250 cash prize and submission to 5 studios / producers / agents
2nd Place - $100 cash prize and submission to 3 studios / producers / agents
3rd Place - $50 cash prize

Screenplay - Feature ,Screenplay - Short

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Detective, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Musical, Mystery, Myth, Political, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, War, Western

-Screenplays must not have been previously optioned, produced, or purchased prior to December 1, 2008.
-Screenplays must be original work of applicant(s).
-Winning screenplay submissions written by 2 or more writers require all awards to be divided equally among the writers.
-Screenplays must be in English.
-Entrants must submit the first 10 pages of the screenplay ONLY! Finalists must then submit the entire screenplay.
-Cherub Productions is not responsible for screenplays lost, stolen, or lost in shipping.
-Multiple submissions are accepted but each submission requires a separate entry form.
-Screenplays must be between 90 - 125 pages.
-Judges decisions are final.
-Entry must be postmarked by midnight December 1, 2008.
-Each submission must be accompanied with an entry form. There is no entry fee for mailed submissions.

**There will be a $5.00 processing fee to submit online. Please contact to submit your entry online.

Finalists announced: Dec 30, 2008
Winner(s) announced: Feb 14, 2009

Monday, November 24, 2008  

The EXPOSURAMA Screenplay Contest

The Exposurama Screenplay Contest offers great prizes to its writers, but what sets us apart is our commitment to getting our writers the exposure they deserve! How do we plan on doing this?

* WIN $1000.00

* A Hollywood billboard featuring all of our Winners!

* A full-page ad in a major industry magazine featuring our winners, their log-lines, and the contact information of their choice!

* Agency review and consideration!

* A press release featuring our winners distributed to 200,000+ industry professionals! (Production Companies, Directors...)

* Memberships to screenplay promotional sites!

* A commitment to having as many producers, directors, and agents on our judges panel as possible each season!

* Winners featured on our site with contact info...