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William Akers – Only one line space after FADE IN: ? Aug 27

Screenwriting: Modern CraftWhat the eff?

So I was happily writing an article about common mistakes people make on the first page of their script, when I recalled a suggestion by William M. Akers, that I’d previously written about.

In his great book, “Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 ways to make it great,” he advises the following (on page 203):

… take a gander at the fact that FADE IN: has one space underneath it. If you’re like me and you have two spaces above every slugline (or “Scene Heading” in Final Draft) then you’ll need to adjust the very first slugline so FADE IN: only has one space below it.

Good advice right? Ever since reading his book, it’s bothered me whenever I’ve seen the double line spacing after FADE IN:

But here’s the problem… I can’t find any real world examples of this rule having been implemented! NOT A SINGLE ONE. At least not from professional or production scripts, or spec scripts that later sold.

Instead what I found after going through my script library was:

  • When scripts have two line spaces above the scene headings, there are two line spaces after FADE IN:
  • When scripts have one line space above scene headings, there is one line space after FADE IN:

Sorta logical really. Hmm…

What do the screenplay formatting guides say?

Here’s what I checked:

The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier

The Hollywood Standard by Christopher Riley

Curiously, neither formatting guide offers any insight into the line spacing that should come after a TRANSITION. And definitely nothing prescriptive of a single line space after FADE IN: (At least nothing I could find.)

To top it off

You’d think if there were an industry standard for such a thing, the screenwriting program, Final Draft, would automatically correct the error for all of the transitions. But alas it does not.

What do you do?

I want to hear from you. Do you follow William Akers’ rule (i.e. one line space after FADE IN: even though you have two line spaces above your scene headings)? Can you cite a non-amateur script example of Akers’ rule being followed?

Mr. Akers — if you happen by this site, I’d love it if you could send me an email to discuss, or post a comment below, to explain the discrepancy.

Does anyone else obsess over these kinds of details like I do?… On a Friday night… [cough]

Guru Quote: William M. Akers Oct 01

“A lot of this book, you’re welcome to take with a grain of salt. Disagree with me if you like. Cast aspersions on my character if I say something you think is moronic. But, whatever you do, don’t be boring. That’s the only inviolable rule. If a scene, or your idea, or the main character is ever boring, stop writing until you figure out a way to un-boring it.

This is tough, especially if your tale is autobiographical.”

- William M. Akers, Your Screenplay Sucks: 100 Ways to Make It Great

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