Direction Basics

In most cases, Direction immediately follows a Scene Heading.

Purposes of Direction:

  • Describes the action of a scene
  • Gives more detail with respect to the setting and mood of a scene's location
  • Introduces and describes characters and/or tells which characters are in the scene
  • Cues sound effects
  • Describes camera movement (although, hopefully not by calling out camera shots)

Here is an example of Direction below a Scene Heading:

Formatting Rules:

  • Margins: Direction starts at the Left Margin (1.5" from page edge) and runs to the Right Margin (1" from page edge).
  • Double-space before, after, and between Direction paragraphs. Single-space within Direction paragraphs.
  • Each Direction paragraph should be no more than 4 to 5 lines long. Break up large Direction paragraphs.
  • Capitalize Character names of characters with speaking roles the first time they are introduced.
  • Capitalize most sound effects and camera cues.

In the example above, SOBBING is capitalized because the person making the sound is offscreen. Had the person crying been on screen, then it would have been in lowercase.

Notice also CAROLINA ORTIZ in ALL CAPS. This must be her introduction into the film.

The example above is broken up into two small paragraphs rather than one paragraph that would have broken the "4 to 5 lines" rule.

Basic Writing Rules:

While the purpose of this page is to discuss formatting, here are some writing rules to keep in mind with respect to Direction paragraphs:

  • Always write in Present Tense.
  • Write in Active rather than Passive Voice.
  • Use Action Verbs. Avoid "to be" verbs and verbs ending in "ing" if possible.
  • Avoid long, exhaustive sentences that overflow with description. Brevity is key.