Odds are, you’ve heard of Scrivener, even if you haven’t tried it. You’ve probably also read the late Blake Snyder‘s classic guide for writers, SAVE THE CAT. RU’s tech wizard Pat Haggerty shares his unique perspective on the two at Romance University today.
Two weeks ago I wrote my first article about using Scrivener for all of my writing projects. The response was incredible to that article I thought I would take it another step and write an article about how I use Scrivener to write a screenplay. If you already use Scrivener you will not see anything new here, but if you want to learn a little more about the Writer’s Writing Software, then this is the first is a series of articles that will show you much of Scrivener’s screenwriting capabilities.
For the last couple of years I’ve been boring anyone who’ll listen silly about Scrivener, an app which is now my weapon of choice when it comes to writing anything at all. I’ve become something of a stuck record on the subject. Well, tough, because I happen to think Scrivener is a truly wonderful program and I’m going to continue singing its praise from now until the end of time.
[Preface - I am not in anyway affiliated with Litterature & Latte, nor am I getting any money from this. I'm simply an enthusiastic fan. Judging by reading some of the blogs, Scrivener has many].
I first heard about Scrivener about three years ago in an interview with novelist and screenwriter Neil Cross, perhaps best known as the creator of the BBC series Luther. He said he writes everything in Scrivener, both novels and screenplays, only exporting the work to Microsoft Word or Final Draft when he had to deliver. Being a big old geek when it comes to writing software I took his enthusiastic recommendation on face value and promptly downloaded the trial version.
The couple of hours I spent with it afterwards were an absolute nightmare. I couldn’t get my head around it. It had a couple of obvious attractions (more on that later) but it just seemed to me to be an unholy faff and, after a couple of attempts, I gave up. Whatever it was he saw in Scrivener, it clearly wasn’t going to work for me.
I’ve never been so happy to be proved wrong in my life.
If you’re writing a short film script, chances are your main occupation is studying. You know, film school. Perhaps it is only a hobby, you want to put an idea out of the paper, shoot that bastard and exhibit to your parents at Christmas’ Eve. If you’re writing in a regular text editor, then i feel sorry for you, because your formatting is possibly wrong. Yes, are you aware that writing for movies rely on a very specific format? In the case you don’t, google “screenwriting formatting” or something similar, you’ll find plenty of options. I never wrote about formatting and this ain’t the moment, because you may download a screenwriting software to do the drill for you. Just like that.
In scriptwriting mode, Scrivener automatically adds character names to the auto-complete list as you write. While this is for the most part convenient, it can prove to be a pain if you decide to change a character’s name, or accidentally type something formatted as Character & Dialogue instead of, for example, Technical Directions, as it will still be added to the list and appear in the options list every time.
If this happens, and you’re like me and want to keep things neat, you might feel the need to prune your auto-correct list. To do this, from the Menubar select Project/Auto-complete List, then in the pop-up window simply edit the list and click Save.
While I’d heard and read a fair amount of commentary about Scrivener — most of it positive — I knew as much about that program as I did about Celtx. Fortunately, right on the home page for Scrivener there was a big, above-the-scroll button labeled “Read More About It,” which, miraculously enough, took me to a page that explained what Scrivener does. (This now counts as a minor miracle in the modern age of attitude-driven technology.)
Here’s a quick primer on using Script mode in Scrivener.