Character, Plot, or Setting Outlining from document

Hello. I’m new both to Scrivener and to this forum, but not to writing. So I have a story I’ve been working on for some time now, and the screenplay version of it is fairly well formated. I have, for instance, a number of Character cues indented just so, all in caps, etc. Is there a way for Scrivener to select all the character names and generate an outline based on them? A list of all the characters in the screenplay? Or how about a list of all the different sluglines, to get an idea of how the story flows among its various settings?

What are some other ways, in Scrivener, of generating outlines and other structure helps from an existing story or screenplay?

Also, as I said, I have this formated screenplay, but Scrivener didn’t recognise the different formating elements in the imported document. Is there a way to tell the program that everything that looks like x and such is a slugline, or whatever? If not, I imagine I’d have to go through the script paragraph by paragraph, updating the styles. Is it worth it? shrugs

I look forward to y’all’s responses!

BTW, it’s a gift for the fiancee, and I hope to be able to teach her how to use it soon after we’re married next month.


Generally, you use the outliner view to generate an outline. There is no way to get a list of characters or anything like that from what you have typed in, though. To get an outline, what you usually would do is start chopping up your work using “Split at Selection” - splitting into scenes or whatever, so that each one appears in a different document. Then you could auto-generate a synopsis for each scene using the button in the inspector, and observe what you have so far in the outliner.

As for the format, you just need to go to Text > Scripwriting > Script Settings… and create a script format that matches the formatting of the script you have imported, so that it recognises the elements. There is info on doing this in the Scriptwriting section of the Help file.

All the best,

Hi MongooseDelta

You say that:

It might help to know the source. Was it generated in Movie Magic Screenwriter 6? Final Draft? Montage? whatever.

Did you try EXPORT-ing it from the source app as an RTF?

Try that little trick and then see if you can IMPORT the rtf file into Scrivener.

Please let us know if that works.


Thanks y’all, those responses were instructive, and I’ll give them a try. I probably need to split my story up into these seperate documents for working on it, anyway.

The screenplay template I’ve been using is, I believe, an Open Office native template, with macros linked to styles and toolbar buttons for each of the screen play elements. One would hope that whomever generated that template, and whomever generated the screenplay format in Scrivener were on the same page as far as what the industry standard is. But if not, I can have fun modifying the existing template to reflect the information I’ve received, and I will try the exporting of the Open Office document first. I’ll modify this post once I’ve done so to let y’all in on how it worked.

Hi MongooseDelta,

It might be worth trying search. It is at the top of this page.

Try ‘script template’ and ‘screenplay template’ and ‘import screenplay’ in the search panel and click the second search level.

There have been lots of posts dealing with the issue and there might just be one that suits your needs. Certainly worth a try.

I would just export it as an RTF and import that into Scrivener then do a bit of fiddling to correct any elements that had not been properly converted.

Just for info, Final Draft is reasonably Scrivener friendly. then I guess, if you had FD you probably would not have used Open Office. So RTF - way to go!


No love. It all looks right, but the various elements don’t show up as whichever elements in Scrivener, when I first export from Open Office to RTF, and then import the RTF into Scrivener.

BTW, since we’re going back and forth here, is there a program I could use in conjunction with Scrivener to generate an outline from selected screenplay elements within an existing screenplay? (since it would take quite some time to do that using scrivener)



Did you catch the template section. … php?t=1915

The BBC script formats include British and American script layouts.

Might help.


I’m the sole developer of Scrivener, so it is me who created the screenplay templates in Scrivener (the only template to come with Scrivener that has been created by someone else is Antony Johnston’s comic script template).

The main screenplay template was based on industry standards as given to me by a Hollywood screenwriter. You can also use the Final Draft format, which recognises Final Draft documents imported as RTF.

However, because of the precise nature of the element recognition code, it is highly likely that if you import from a different program with any very slight variations, the format won’t be recognised.

But really, this isn’t a problem. As I said in my previous post, all you need to do is set up your own screenplay format in Scrivener that will recognise the elements of the document you have imported. It’s a bit fiddly, but you only need to do it once and then you can use it for every script you import. And also as I said in my previous post, there is a whole section in the Help file on how to do this - please see “Importing a Script from Final Draft and Other Programs” in the Scriptwriting section of Scrivener’s Help.


I apologize, KB, for not responding to your previous posts. I was addressing one suggestion at a time, begining with those that looked to be the least amount of work. I’m sure your methods will be quite effective, and I do plan to use them. Thanks.

I do intend to try to make this easier in the future, too, for instance by having a button in the Script Settings panel that would get the settings from the currently selected text in the editor. This is a bit fiddly, so I’ll probably slot it in for 1.2 or 1.3.

You do that, and I get a third party confirmation that it works, and I’ll buy the proggie without the trial period.

If I see something in there about world building, or to assist in developing more complex characters or plots, especially for novel writing, that’ll help sway me to pull out the check, as well. For the moment, I’m still exploring, and will probably buy it at the end of the trial period. It looks like a very nice proggie, especially for a developer willing to respond to people like me on message boards. Those are just some things I think would make it even more immediately appealing, unless they’re already there and I just haven’t found them yet. So thanks for your hard work, and I hope you keep it up.

Incidentally, what I did about the outlines I was talking about was that I went back into Open Office, selected all instances of the “character” style, copied and pasted. Just had to delete redundancies, and I had my list of characters. Same concept with the slug lines. Import those two docs as references into Scrivener, update the scrivener styles to match those I’ve been using, and split the documents every so often, and I’m good to go.