Thank you for keeping your site up to date and offering so many great resources, not the least of which: your scripts. I have read your scripts, Rawson Thurber’s Dodgeball, and many others.
I have a question on the usage of slug lines and pacing.
A quick example:
carefully turns the dial a tad.
Hums, LIGHTS UP!
grins and turns the
REMOTE to the maximum level.
I am afraid I am overusing this technique, but would like your professional opinion.
Yes, you’re overdoing it, at least to my taste. I suspect you could find successful screenwriters who write very much the way you describe, but to me it feels like padding.
Just as you wouldn’t want to read a solid page of 12-pt Courier, you don’t want to read a series of short sluglines. There’s no flow. Think of these short sluglines as punctuation, little guides to help you make your way down the page.
Use a slug only if we’re going to be looking at something new to the scene, or if we’re cross-cutting between simultaneous action. In your example, “TOM” is the same guy both times, and “THE MACHINE” is probably already established in the scene.
After a slug, I usually start the next line lower-case, particularly if it’s the continuation of a sentence.
Try to have at least three “normal” lines between slugs.
Avoid mixing slugs and dialogue. It gets messy on the page.