Remember with screen direction, you want the eye to roll down the page, to make the script a “page turner.” How do you do that? Go vertical. Keep the reader’s eyes moving vertically down the page. For example, from Seven:

He reaches to the nightstand, to a wooden, pyramidical metronome.

He frees the metronome’s weighted swingarm so it moves back and forth.  Swings to the left — TICK, swings to the right — TICK. Tick… tick… tick… measured and steady.

Somerset situates on the bed, closes his eyes.  Tick… tick… tick.  The metronome’s sound competes with the sound of the car alarm.  Somerset’s face tightens as he concentrates on the metronome.  His eyes close tighter.  Tick… tick… tick.  The swingarm moves evenly.  Somerset’s breathing deepens.

Tick… tick… tick.  The car alarm seems quieter.

Tick… tick… tick.  Somerset continues his concentration.  The metronome’s sound seems louder.

Tick… tick… tick.  The sound of the car alarm fades, and is GONE.  The metronome is the only sound.

Somerset’s face relaxes as he begins to fall asleep.  Tick…tick… tick…

The “tick tick tick” device is terrific. It moves your eye down the page, makes you wonder what’s coming next.

Another method of shaking up the reader visually is…


Condensing screen direction offers the reader a more visceral experience, faster, raw and more exciting. While I don’t use this style, it’s totally viable, as here from Alien 3 (Walter Hill & David Giler draft):

26.          INT. ASSEMBLY HALL    26

Four stories high.

Minimal electric light.

The assembled prisoners move into position…

Hang from railings


A convict population of 25 men.

She struggles for control.


Her eyes fill with tears.

Eyes brimming, Ripley spots the remains of Newt’s cryotube.

Faceplate is broken.

Probably happened in the crash.

There’s a strange discoloration on the metal below the faceplate.

She leans forward, running her fingers over it…

He hears something in the darkness to his left.

Stopping, he sees a recessed storage area built into the wall of the


A gurgling sound is coming from inside.

Curious, Murphy moves closer.

Stopping before the recessed area, Murphy peers inside.

Sees the Alien —

Still fawn like, but growing

Time stops a second.

Suddenly, the creature — spits acid in Murphy¹s eyes…

Clawing at his face, flesh tom away from his cheeks —

Murphy reels backwards.

Smoke pours through his fingers.

Screaming, he slam s into a wall and staggers backwards into

The fan…

Which rips him to pieces —

In a blink of an eye, the walls of the Air-duct are splattered

with his remains

The fan CLANGS to a ringing stop as Murphy¹s  skin fouls the blade.


Sounds don’t need to be capitalized. Older scripts often did cap them: “The Chihuahua BARKS.” Again, no absolutes. There are scripts littered with WHOOSHES! SLAMS! BAMS! For example, this from Hellboy:

Leaving a trail of blood, Broom crawls to a dead G.I. and grabs a grenade from his belt.

TCHKKK!!! Kroenen extends two gleaming blades from twin steel bands on his wrists and takes on an entire group of soldiers, mowing through them with swords spinning like deadly rotors. The steel chops clean through their weapons.

Broom pulls the pin and throws the grenade at the generator.

CLICK-CLACK!! It wedges itself between two moving tie rods.

Kroenen squeals and — retracting his blades — lunges after it. The gyrating rails slice through his leather jacket. As his fingers reach the grenade, it EXPLODES!!!

Kroenen flies through the air, hitting a stone wall, where two long pieces of shrapnel pin him like an insect.

Another rail plunges — FFFFT!! like a javelin — into the earth right next to MATLIN.

Here, it works. But many scripts don’t have a single FFFFT! This is a stylistic thing. If you want to cap sounds, cap ‘em. Just be consistent with your choice.

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