Screenplay Workshop Notes: Week #4 – Scene Description Writing and Formatting

This was an exciting week in class for me because I received feedback on my treatment for Hot Cold, the feature that I’m writing for the workshop.  I was elated to get some many great pieces of feedback and suggestion.  The biggest revelation to me was that people had interpreted many setting/world rules without my injection; they’d come up with their own excuses for how the world worked.  And that was great for me because I’d spent little time establishing the rules for the setting, and some of the things the class came up with were better than what I would’ve used!

Jill, the class instructor, had some great notes on my third act also.  She pointed out how the main character isn’t driving the action as much as he should be.  She also told me I should reference the move Witness for a climax that would work better for what I’m wanting from the character.

One disappointing but useful piece of feedback was that most people didn’t seem to like the last scene as much as I’d wanted.  The last scene is really the only piece of the story that I’m married to, so it’s great to know that I’ll need to rework some earlier scenes to make that last scene pay off better.

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Jill also lectured a bit on proper script formatting.  Admittedly, I thought I knew everything I should know about formatting, but I sat up in my chair when she started telling us about mini slug lines/William Goldman Slug Lines.  Those have long interested me and it’d been difficult for me to know if they were universally accepted.  For example, a scene might pick up space in a bank robbery and instead of writing:

—  INT. BANK, FOYER – DAY

Sonny leans in to talk with the negotiator.

INT. BANK, OFFICE – DAY

Sal leans over with is uzi to see what Sonny is doing.  —

Instead of rewriting that new slug line for the office, you could simply write:

— SAL

leans over with his uzi to see what Sonny is doing.  —

Those slug lines can really slow down the pace in some of my scripts and its nice to see a different way of organizing action.

 

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