Scene Heading – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Screenwriting Glossary Terms

I. What is a Scene Heading?

A scene heading, also known as a slug line, is a brief description at the beginning of each scene in a screenplay that indicates the location and time of day. It serves as a roadmap for the reader and helps to orient them within the story. Scene headings are essential for organizing the script and providing clarity to the reader.

II. How to Format a Scene Heading?

Scene headings are typically written in all caps and are centered on the page. They consist of three elements: the INT./EXT. prefix, the location, and the time of day. The INT./EXT. prefix indicates whether the scene takes place indoors (INT.) or outdoors (EXT.). The location should be a brief description of the setting, such as “LIVING ROOM” or “PARK.” The time of day should be either “DAY” or “NIGHT.”

III. What Information is Included in a Scene Heading?

In addition to the location and time of day, scene headings may also include additional information such as specific details about the setting or any special requirements for the scene. For example, if a scene takes place in a moving vehicle, the scene heading may include “MOVING CAR” to indicate that the characters are in a car that is in motion.

IV. Why are Scene Headings Important in Screenwriting?

Scene headings are crucial in screenwriting because they help to establish the visual and spatial context of the story. They provide important information to the reader about where and when each scene takes place, which is essential for understanding the flow of the narrative. Scene headings also help to guide the production team in planning and executing the scenes during filming.

V. How to Use Scene Headings Effectively in a Script?

To use scene headings effectively in a script, it is important to be concise and specific in describing the location and time of day. Avoid using vague or ambiguous descriptions that may confuse the reader. Additionally, make sure to use consistent formatting and style throughout the script to maintain clarity and readability. Scene headings should be used to create a visual and immersive experience for the reader, so be descriptive and vivid in your language.

VI. Examples of Scene Headings in Popular Screenplays

1. “INT. HOGWARTS GREAT HALL – DAY” – from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
2. “EXT. BEACH – NIGHT” – from La La Land
3. “INT. THE MATRIX – DAY” – from The Matrix
4. “EXT. TATOOINE DESERT – DAY” – from Star Wars: A New Hope
5. “INT. THE BATCAVE – NIGHT” – from The Dark Knight

These examples demonstrate how scene headings are used in popular screenplays to set the stage for each scene and provide important context for the reader. By following the conventions of scene heading formatting and including relevant details, screenwriters can effectively communicate the visual and spatial elements of their story to the reader.