Why Do Screenwriters Argue Over Format? – Jay Fingers

Jay Fingers, Novelist, Journalist, Editor, and Screenwriter: If you’ll notice my slugs are bold and underlined.

Film Courage: Can you explain why screenwriters should not use bold slug lines?

Jay: No, I think screenwriters should use bold slug lines.

Bold slugs is one of those things I know I’ve talked about (formatting, bolt slugs) is one of those formatting things that really riles people up especially on social media (especially on Twitter). We get into these formatting wars, what’s acceptable, should you bold your slugs or should you underline them or should you I don’t know, it’s just all sorts of like craziness. Bold slugs I don’t think are a big deal I. like to use them. I just think that it makes the page look better, it clearly separates different scenes. Aesthetically it’s pleasing to me but if you choose not to bold your slugs or underline them then that’s fine. That’s not a big deal.

This is to go back to something I said earlier, I think a lot of the formatting wars stem from people wanting to do their own thing instead of adhering to an established format. People get the advice all the time Don’t make your descriptions or your action lines too long. We don’t want paragraphs and paragraphs of description. That’s not how it’s done. But someone will say pull a page from the Chinatown script and say But look at this, this is Chinatown Oscar-winning script and classic film and there’s paragraphs of action. In my mind I’m like Well, number one it was written in the 70’s. I’m sure Robert Towne wrote that like 72-73 because the film came out in 74. Number two, it’s Robert Towne…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


Jay Fingers is a novelist, journalist, editor, and emerging screenwriter. He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, before attending film school at the University of Miami. After college and working in Miami Beach’s nightlife scene for several years, Jay moved to New York City — Brooklyn, specifically — where he wrote four books: Guestlist, Kisses for Tati, Orange Mound and Manhattan Sweetheart. Deciding to fully pursue his lifelong screenwriting ambitions, Jay relocated to Los Angeles, where he currently lives and has been tirelessly working on spec scripts. 








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