Screenwriting With Scrivener

The popular writing app excels at scripts.

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Scrivener is more than just a fantastic tool for long-form writing. It’s also an affordable way to create properly formatted screenplays.

To get started, Choose File > New Project and select the Screenplay template under Scriptwriting. Then check out these five Hollywood-friendly features.

Nail the concept

Corkboard mode offers a bird’s-eye view of your script’s structure. It’s a quick way to get your ideas in order and flesh out your story.

In this mode (go to View > Corkboard), every scene document shows up as its own index card. (Press Command-N to create a new one.) Here, you can title each scene and add notes. Dragging cards to organize them also conveniently changes the order of each document in your project.

View your notes, locations, and more while working on your script.

Know your character

Having trouble keeping track of all your characters and what they’re up to? Click Characters in the sidebar to switch to Characters view. As you add new characters and record details about them, you get an index-card overview of each.

And if you’re having trouble coming up with original names for your characters, Scrivener can help. Choose Edit > Writing Tools > Name Generator. Pick your criteria (gender, nationality/ethnicity, and more) and the app generates a list of potential options, ranging from common to obscure.

Format on the fly

Script mode (under Format > Screenwriting) helps you automatically style your script in the industry-standard format as you type. For example, enter a scene heading, and the next line will be a Character or Action line (press Tab for the former, Enter for the latter).

Can’t remember which key to press to get the element you want? Scrivener’s footer bar shows the possible options based on the current line’s style.

Scrivener lays out your scripts in the industry-standard format, but feel free to play with the particulars.

Dig into dialogue

To see the dialogue you’ve written without other elements cluttering the view, enable the Linguistic Focus tool (Edit > Writing Tools) and choose Direct Speech—this highlights spoken parts and dims everything else. Or choose to highlight specific parts of speech to reveal words or phrases you’re overusing.

Publish perfectly

Once you’ve completed your master screenplay, you can combine everything into a single document (while keeping your source documents intact) by choosing File > Compile To. Choose the standard Final Draft format if you’re sending it to industry vets, or export to PDF, Word, Kindle, ePub, HTML, and a slew of other formats.