Glossary of some terms I use


  • Alt: An alternative joke or moment for a script. Example: TED: Great idea… not! (alt) That’s like the opposite of a good idea!
  • Bottom of the scene: Refers to stuff that happens near the beginning of a scene.
  • Call out: Moments where dialogue or action underlines unusual behavior. Could be a mention, or even a character making a dubious expression. (see also: justify)
  • Choreography: Needless description of things that don’t merit it. Example: He opens the box. He takes out a cracker. He lifts it to his lips. He eats the cracker VS He eats a cracker from the box.
  • Conceptual Specificity: Moments in the script that could only be achieved
  • Editorializing: Moments where the script betrays the author’s unvarnished point of view. Example: The two thugs attack Ted, acting real sneaky like all people from Boston are.
  • Externalizing: Taking an abstract idea like “he’s the kind of guy who’s a bully, but a suckup to superiors” and actually demonstrating that behavior in a scene.
  • Fluff: Unnecessary space filler.
  • Function: What the line is literally there to do. Usually a placeholder. Example: TED: I must express that I am the President. And also a caring dad.
  • Justify: A way of explaining unusual behavior. Example: TED: I know it seems unlikely that he’s never used a phone, but you gotta understand, he grew up Amish.
  • Slugline: Another name for scene heading. The things that start with INT. or EXT.
  • Top of the scene: Refers to stuff that happens near the beginning of a scene.  (see also bottom of the scene):
  • Unfilmables: Moments in a script that could on
  • World building: Moments where the script explains the rules and politics of the setting as opposed to advancing the story or characters.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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