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Screenplay Editor’s Checklist

This article is intended to serve as a shorthand reference that can be used while writing a screenplay.  It is also the checklist that we refer to when we are double-checking a screenplay’s format during the editing process.

 

Slug Lines:  Use ALL CAPS for the first time these four are mentioned: PROPS, SIGHTS, SOUNDS, and CHARACTERS.

 

    1)  After a character has been introduced in a slug line, write the name in any subsequent slug line as “Jim Johnson” or “Bartender” (in the case of a character without a proper name).  In other words, use lower case after the initial introduction of a character.

    2)  As with characters, use lower case for a prop, sight, or sound in a slug line once it has already been introduced.


Slug Lines are defined as
the text that appears in all CAPS at the beginning of a scene.  They are scene set-ups that quickly describe the location and time of day.
 
For example:  EXT. AUDREY'S PORCH - AFTERNOON

(Note:  Sometimes slug lines are abbreviated and simplified to read "LATER" or "WAREHOUSE.")


Scene:
   A scene is defined as an event that occurs entirely in one location or at one particular time.  Anytime there is a change in either location or time, a new scene is created.  This is always delineated by a slug line.



Action:
   This is the scene description, the character movement, and the sounds as described in a screenplay. The action usually follows the slug line.

For example:  The POPPING sounds of cooking can be heard as AUDREY fries catfish in a SKILLET on the STOVE.

 

 

Narrative (dialogue): Use ALL CAPS for CHARACTERS every time they are speaking in dialogue.  Do not ever use all caps for anything else, such as emphasis in dialogue. 


Additional notes:


    1)  Slug lines should contain as little “direction” as possible—they are to be used primarily as set-ups for scenes.  Motives, emotions, etc. should be expressed through dialogue.  Descriptions are necessary in slug lines, but should be concise.

 

    2)  Check the entire script for inconsistencies in characters’ names, places, and the use of punctuation ( … ) to indicate interruption in dialogue.  Also check to be sure “continued” is used consistently when a speaker continues a dialogue.

  

   

 

 

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