A common refrain before telling a story is, “Let me set the scene.” And for good reason! It’s called context. Before an audience can follow along with a story, they need to know where in the world—real or imaginary—it takes place and when it takes place, as subtleties such as day and night can dramatically change how a person processes what they are reading or being told.
Hence, scene headings. Also commonly referred to as sluglines, this script template element, written in capital letters, informs the reader to the where and when of the screenplay.
An example of what a slugline might look like is: “AMITY ISLAND BEACH – DAY.” In a succinct manner, we now know exactly where the following scene is taking place and when.
This is also the perfect time to point out that the Screenwriter must create a new scene heading each time the story moves to a different location . . ..