Learn & Become A Better Screenwriter
What makes up a screenplay page? What does it look like?
Here are simple descriptions of the elements of a screenplay page:
Slugline – Also known as Scene Heading, a Slugline is the first element of a scene and gives the reader information that orients us in terms of place and time. It includes an abbreviation for whether the shot is Interior or Exterior (or both), a specific description of a place, and then an indicator if the scene takes place during the Day, Night, Dawn, or Dusk. Sluglines are capitalized.
In Open Screenplay, the slugline will be contributed by users during the Scene Outline Phase. In the Script Phase these sluglines will be carried over to the Script Contribution box.
Action Line – The second element in a scene, Action Lines are written in sentence form and describe important aspects of what we are meant to see in the scene. They are used to describe people, places, props, and sounds, indicate who is in the scene and what they are doing, and include any other important piece of information necessary to the scene.
Character Name – Identifies which character is about to speak and is centered and capitalized above the character’s dialogue.
When used in action lines or within dialogue, only the first letter of the name is capitalized.
During the Character Phase in Open Screenplay you will be able to suggest a Character Name and also the Screenplay Display Name. The Character Name is the full name of the character. The Screenplay Display Name is shorter and is the name you want the reader to associate with your character. This is used for simplicity and fluidity when reading a screenplay.
Character Name: John C. Smith
Screenplay Display Name: could appear as “John,” “Smith,” or “Mr. Smith.”
Dialogue – The lines that characters speak. There is no limit to the lines that can be spoken by any character at any time (though it’s best if they are to the point, of course).
Parentheticals – Usually located between a character’s Screenplay Display Name and their lines of dialogue, Parentheticals are a word or short phrase placed within parentheses that helps the reader understand a specific intent regarding the line or lines of Dialogue. It can be a small piece of action/choreography/specificity or can sometimes will indicate the intended meaning of the line if it’s not easily understood by itself (such as sarcasm).
Transitions – Specific instructions on how to go from one scene to another, editing-wise. They appear at the end of a scene on the right side of the page. Cuts, fades, and dissolves are the primary transitions. Transitions are used less frequently in modern scripts compared to scripts from the past. For this reason and to eliminate confusion regarding their use, please note that transitions are not available in Open Screenplay’s Script Contribution Box.
MORE and CONT’D – These items are used to indicate breaks in either dialogue or scenes, and are exist to help the reader’s understanding of what they’re reading. MORE is used at the bottom of a page to indicate a piece of dialogue is flowing over to the next page. CONT’D is short for “continued” and indicates that the same character is speaking again after a line of Action has interrupted their dialogue. Once the Script Phase is finished, Open Screenplay will automatically generate MORE and CONT’D where required.