Posts Tagged ‘that post show’

What’s a Slug Line Anyway?

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Recently our friend Stu Maschwitz blew us away with the surprise release of a screenwriting app Slugline.

You can hear more about it here: and read more about it here:

I guess you could say my first forays into cinema where through writing. There was a point some years earlier up the road (before I found editing) that I was sure I was going to be a screenwriter. The trouble was I never fully got up to speed on the craft. I never even learned the proper formatting for a screenplay. I just assumed somewhere up the line, I’d figure it out. I had a lot of other misconceptions then too but I still hold on to a hope that one day, I will write some damn fine movies.

To that end, last year I finally bought Final Draft. I even installed it! I used to subscribe to Creative Screenwriting too. Most of them lay around, still in their plastic wrappers. I used to go to Jeff Goldsmith’s Q & A screenings a lot. Those were and are most educational and I recommend them to filmmakers of all disciplines. I have a few books on writing and on screenwriting too. On Writing by Stephen King is my favorite. (Full disclosure, it’s the only one that I read completely.) I also at one time subscribed to this great screenwriting newsletter from the site Chris Soth sends out some great info in his newsletter. I recommend signing up for it.

The Slugline app sounds so elegant and fluid that I almost expect that once I use it, nothing will stop the stream of mind-blowing films that will flow from my “pen”. I’m half tempted to hold off until I get (they make) an iOS version to see how it would really work on a novice (who likes to jot things down on his phone all the time). The Slugline webpage also has some great tutorial information on screenwriting. Check out:

Coincidentally, this week Chris sent out the following “SLUGGIN’ IT OUT” email newsletter with some great information on slug lines. With his permission, I present it to you now:

Hey Gang,

So, a brief one this week on “slug lines”.

Slug line is slang, by the way, for what
would technically be called a “location line”.

But to be honest, I’ve never heard ANYONE
call it a location line, with the exception of
Final Draft Software. The term of art that
seems to be most bandied about the
screenwriting community is definitely
SLUG LINE. So, what is it?

(I promise my more experienced readers,
I’ll come to some slightly more unusual
information soon)

The Slug Line is that line, ALL IN CAPS,
that tells the location of the scene beneath
it. Tells whether the scene is set outside
(EXT. for “exterior”) or inside (INT. for

Like this:


Chris works on his laptop. The newsletter is late.


Now, here’s the part I learned at USC that
I’ve never heard anywhere else.

How do we arrange these slug lines. Here’s
the trick:

Slug lines go from:


So, what you want is to set the scene as quickly
and easily and with as few words as possible. And
your reader is hoping to GET the scene as fast
as possible, so, based on their knowledge:

They can stop reading as soon as they know
where they are. Take this as contrast:


Ok, that’s an exaggeration, I’d never
let a slug go to a second line, but my
point is, you can go as far as you need to
make sure your reader knows where they are
(literally!) Versus:


…etc. You’ve read this far…and you STILL don’t know
where you are, do you? And you’re confused,
it starts w/an interior, then goes to outer space…

…whereas doing it the other, way, no problem. The
office is on the lot, in Burbank, which is situated
in the USA, etc. But it happens to be an interior.

And how’s stuff at YOUR office? How’s the
screenplay coming? Could you use a new approach
to story? Come check out what we have for you at

Thanks “A Million”,

Chris (It’s OFF THE HOOK!)


So there you go! Happy writing y’all!
–Eric Francis Harnden