BOLDED SLUGLINES of ULTIMATE PRAGMATISM

Scott sparked off a debate over at Go Into The Story regarding the use of bold for sluglines. This is a subject that was also mentioned on Bitter Script Reader’s blog, and it seems that there is a lot of discussion regarding whether or not it’s proper to use such a function. Personally, I think that if Final Draft gives me the ability to use bold that means there’s a place in a script for it to be used. I also spend a lot of time, far too much probably, thinking about writing as it is read from the page. That’s why I’m annoyed when people double-space after a period.   Like that. My feeling is that if there’s a space it’s telling the reader that we require some kind of a pause because we’re either revving up for a new topic, a new idea, or a new fragment of some kind, or that the writer somehow got winded and needs two full spaces to catch his or her breath. But that’s what’s wrong with my brain, it transposes motive to inanimate objects.

I like using bold. It makes the page look crisp. I also like highlighting any major actions. I feel like if a script reader is going to skim instead of read what I’ve written I should do him the favor of providing highlight for what he needs to know. Because if there’s one thing he should take away from my script it’s that JOHN PUNCHES JACOB IN THE FUCKING HEAD!

But that brings me to what I don’t like in scripts – all caps. When I read a script I picture myself sitting at a desk, which I usually am, and on the other side of that pdf file is the guy who wrote it. And while I’m reading it, I pretend that he’s reading it aloud to me. So when we come across a section in all caps I imagine this person curling their hand into a fist, slamming it on a table or something and screaming at me to emphasize that, holy shit, something important just happened. I also picture the person’s voice changing. They go from casually smooth to sounding like an eight-year-old playing with a Godzilla toy. GODZILLA DESTROY, RAWR! ALL CAPS.

I think that genre is the most important aspect to consider when making these kinds of decisions. For a Drama, Mr. Invisible Script Writer man really shouldn’t be yelling at me. He should be cooing me with his gentle words of love and loss and conflict. In fact, I think if you’re writing a drama you should find a function that allows Courier to turn into cursive. That makes me think of Victorian England which tells my brain that we need to put on our weeping caps. If you’re writing an Action thriller, I think I should see bolded ALL CAPS quite frequently. It lets me know that we’re in some serious fucking shit here… it also makes me picture you doing the hand-slamming thing or maybe throwing a cup of coffee in my face which is pretty action-packed. If I can picture you screaming at me and throwing any beverage in my face I’m completely sold on your action story.

I also think ALL CAPS should be allowed for words which are larger than life. For example; DEEP THOUGHTS of GREAT IMPORTANCE! See what I did there? Now you know that these aren’t just regular thoughts that might serve some minor purpose in the universe, but that the things being thought of in this blog are jewels being spelunked from the bottom of the brain and that their existence is detrimental to man’s survival. And if you make it bigger it emphasizes that point even more.

Also, I think every script should come with a picture of somebody handsome paper-clipped to it. Preferably well-dressed. Your script could suck fierce but if I see this I’m gonna think, now who’s this guy?:

In fairness, “this guy” is a sexual predator from New York City I found on Google Images. But still, you get the idea. He keeps his hair and is wearing a button up. He doesn’t seem like a basement-dwelling Diabo Cody hating freak. Let’s give ’em a call, eh?

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