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Writing Plays/Screenwriting/formatting hallucination in screenplay


Rob Writer wrote at 2015-03-05 07:22:17
I went to college for screenwriting and have written quite a few screenplays and teleplays. I'm currently working on a feature that deals with hallucinations, and may be able to help you out, if you still need.

There are a few problems with your scene. First, the slugline doesn't make sense. If she rides her bicycle in the street, then it would be:

EXT. CITY STREET  - DAY or EXT. SUBURBAN STREET - DAY (Depending on what kind of street it is.)

Writing INT. BICYCLE - DAY insinuates that she is physically inside the bicycle. The slugline specifically lets the producers/director, etc. know where the scene is taking place, whether it's day or night, and whether it's inside or outside.

Also, the key with scripts is to always show, not tell. You don't want to say "she is hallucinating that she is eating ice cream with her boyfriend in a shop." You want to show it. And since the scene you've set up is outside, in the street, you need to establish a new slugline to show her in the ice cream shop with her boyfriend. This way the director knows that he/she needs a new set with an ice cream shop. Also, if you haven't shown her boyfriend in the story yet, you need to introduce him as a character, with his age and description. You also don't necessarily need to state that he's her boyfriend. We'll get that from their dialogue/how they interact with each other.

With all that in mind, your scene should read more like this:


Jill rides her bicycle. Traffic builds.

She stares off into the distance.


Jill sits in a booth across from DANNY, 20, handsome and charming. They gorge on a banana split together.

Jill giggles and ice cream drips down her chin.

Danny wipes it with his finger and kisses her.

A HORN blares.


Horn still blares.

Jill jumps, almost losing control of her bike, then pedals away from the traffic jam.

Always keep in mind that you write what the characters do, not what they think. If you want to show the audience what's inside their head, then do just that. Show. Each scene in a new place needs a new slugline.

I hope this helps.

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Donald L. Vasicek


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