Lightning flashes

JONATHAN It's moving in this direction, Professor LaRue. In five minutes, we'll be in the center of the storm.

The five easy pieces of the format make perfect sense when you remember that a screenplay is a story told to be seen in scenes for the screen.

1. The scene heading or slug line—all CAPS, flush left with the left margin— tells where and when a scene happens:

INT. LaRUE'S MANSION—NIGHT

This is the master scene heading, and the action and dialogue can flow uninterrupted. Occasionally you may want to use mini slugs—POV, BACK TO SCENE, INSERT, INTERCUT—which appear in CAPS flush left. Mini slugs— especially a character's name or an object used as a mini-slug—have spawned a lively new style of screenwriting known as writing down the page or detailing, which Matt Stevens and I used in our feature, Behind the Eight Ball:

EXT. BOOKER JUNIOR HIGH LAWN—DAY

Conrad's car shoots across the lawn.

MRS. MCFADDEN

steps in front of Conrad's approaching car. And puts her hand out like a traffic cop.

CONRAD

tries to slow down.

CONRAD

Get outta the way! Get outta the way! MRS. MCFADDEN

lifts her chin. No way she's getting out of the way!

She leaps up on Conrad's windshield and hangs on like a suction-cup Garfield!

CONRAD'S POV—Mrs. McFadden's face pressed against the glass.

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