Alternatives on a line by line basis?

I’m a television writer and slowly over a few years have made the full switch from FDX to Scrivener. But
there’s something I keep finding myself wanting and wanted to see if maybe it’s a feature hidden
somewhere or maybe someone has a work-around…

…but I’m often in the situation where I want to have an easy to store “alternatives to a line of dialogue.”

Generally, I deal with this inside the script like:
I’m a line of dialogue.
I’m an alt line of dialogue.

But sometimes that gets unwieldy if I have a lot of them. And messes up the page count as eventually I’m
going to have to settle on one line. It’s like what I want is a kind of mini-snapshot that would
apply to a unit smaller than a document.

Is that supported in any way by the software?

You could highlight the text and create an inspector comment with the alt dialogue. Click on the current text, and you’d see the alternative text in the inspector. Swapping out isn’t going to be super convenient, but it could be done.

You could also split off that part of the scene (adjust your scrivenings separators to avoid increasing page count) in to a separate document temporarily, and use actual snapshots for alternate text. Once you’ve settled on your final choice, you could then merge the document with two surrounding documents.

You could put the alternative lines in Annotations. Those will still show up in the Page View page count, but you can tell the Compile command to strip them out and then print to PDF (or whatever).


All of these are solid workarounds. Thanks!

I’m going to play around with them a bit and see how they feel in practice. i’ve
tried a version of splitting off into a separate document before but ended up getting
bugged by the number of documents it generated. Though suddenly, I’m wondering
now if I couldn’t solve that by nesting them and keeping the nests closed. I need to
look at how it treats nested documents but if I keep sub-documents hidden in the
binder (just by keeping the tree closed, I mean). But that might work out better
a second time if I play around with some settings.

And the inspector comment has definite promise too! I have never used them before
but they seem like they could definitely be used as a sort of clunky-but-basically-works
mini-snapshot at the individual line level of a document.

Thank you guys for the help!

Okay, I think splitting the lines into separate documents, making them sub-documents
of the scene and then viewing the scene in scrivening mode comes pretty darn close
to an ideal solution.

This is very minor and I think I can live with it but is there any way to eliminate the
little right angle foot brackets that show up separating documents visually in scrivening
mode? As far as I can tell, my choices are that separating line (which is far too intrusive
for a screenplay) or these brackets. But what I really want is to not see any visual
indication that there’s a seam there at all. I want to view a scrivening as if it’s a single
unit document (without even those lightweight brackets).

Is there any way to accomplish that?

If not, I still think this is the right way to solve it. I tried it once in the past but at the time,
I was holding the documents in a folder and that was introducing an extra blank line at the
top in scrivening mode which was definitely a non-starter.

It’s funny how sensitive a screenplay is to formatting quirks but it’s real. It’s the number
one barrier I have in convincing other writers to adopt it. The thing that tempts them is
the ability to easily save and manage things on the scene level via snapshots. But the thing
that it’s hard for them to overcome is getting used to some extra work to get the screenplay
to show up exactly the way it would in FDX.