FD8 + Scrivener: Up is down, black is white...

When I sit down to work these days, I have one goal: Make Pages. I hunker down for four hours at a time and just crush it – making sentences one after the other until the whistle blows. I abandoned all formal outlining, preferring instead a sketchy, back-of-the-napkin daily battle plan, sometimes with as little as a single sentence to guide the day.

To stave off the panic that comes with totally letting go, I also re-introduced a “Draft 1.5” period in the evening – a little time devoted to shuffling and editing and thinking about the stuff I’d done during the day. I love this step, because it frees me from that kind of fiddling while I work, and it sets me up nicely for the next round.

I started doing all this with a small notebook to my left, and Scrivener in front of me. And almost right away I discovered that, in Crush It mode, Scrivener wasn’t really working for me. (Yikes!) The problem wasn’t anything major. It was part software limitation, part the guy at the keyboard – i.e. Scrivener’s lack of instant autocomplete + my need to fuss with the binder while I work – that was slowing me down. And what’s worse, I’d recently done some revision work in FD8 and discovered that I absolutely flew in that environment! But… but… I’m not that guy, right? I wanna be a Scrivener guy!

My first thought was to jump on this forum and beg Keith for better autocomplete in Scriv. Which would have been a stupid waste of time: Scrivener isn’t made for that kind of thing, nor should it be; Keith doesn’t have the time for that kind of thing, and probably wouldn’t do it if he did have time; and begging for it online is just a way to pretend to address the problem without actually fixing it.

So a made a radical (and, it turns out) great decision: I now write during the day in Final Draft 8, save the day’s work with the date as the name of the file, and export that chunk seamlessly to Scrivener, where I can Draft-1.5-it to my heart’s content. My Scriv binder is now overflowing (bonus: I also have a pretty accurate day-to-day page count). FD8 has become, in essence, full screen mode for me – all of its auto features are my version of distraction-free writing.

Anyway, I guess the lesson I take from this is that by making an app that doesn’t much care how you work, Keith has managed to make an app that works however you care to. I’m really grateful for that – thanks Keith!

Hi Sean,

I’m glad you found a workflow that works for you. I suppose given that FD has been refined over many years for scriptwriting, it’s not surprising that it is better at the actual business of writing the script.

On the other hand, Scrivener 2.0 will have better auto-complete - although now is the time to tell me exactly what you mean by better auto-complete, so I know we’re talking about the same thing, and of course, you could have just hidden the binder or entered full screen mode while you worked. :slight_smile:

All the best,


First of all, just want to make sure you know that my post wasn’t meant as anything but praise for Scrivener. It wasn’t a complaint or a passive-aggressive feature request (though I am not above those things), nor was it a Dear John letter to Scriv. My blood is still 99% Scrivener Kool-Aid. (I hold 1% in reserve for… well, I mean, I drink, so…)


What I mean when I talk about auto-complete is simply that Final Draft has automated a ton of the repetitive typing inherent in screenwriting – like, totally automated it, made it go away. When I tab from action to character, the character name is waiting there for me, grayed out until I press return. FD is even smart enough to guess what character that should be, and is often right – even when it’s dialogue between three or four people. If it guesses wrong, I just have to type one letter before it corrects it to the right name. (Lazy screenwriter tip: try not to have two character names that start with the same letter.) Also, the name list is generated from the character tab – the first time I type a character’s name into the script, FD puts it on the list.

Actually, now that I think about it, it’s the entering that list of names that bogged me down a bit in Scriv. It’s a pain to have to stop work to do that, and while I could certainly pre-load the list before I begin work, it’s those on-the-fly characters with the long names that kill me. If Security Guard #1 has to talk more than three times in Scrivener, I actually change his name to Bob and find-change him out later.

The current auto-complete system in Scrivener is really very easy to use, it’s just a couple of clicks too many when I’m trying to Just Keep Typing All The Time. Again, I’m not petitioning here. Would I love an FD style auto-complete in Scrivener? Of course. But I’m sure that’s one of those massive coding quagmires you always talk about.

As for the other part of your post, I actually do close the binder or go full screen – I was just trying not to completely blame Scrivener. See, I try to be nice, and I get crap. Great. :smiley:

Yet no one yawned… You must be doing something wrong.

One addition 2.0 has is “Add Selection to Auto-Complete List” in the ctrl-click menu. So you can select a character name and add it to the auto-complete list via the ctrl-click menu.

It may be possible to add a “Append new entries to auto-complete list” option to the Script Settings panel, though, something you would then have checked for the Character element. That might not be too difficult to add - although Final Draft would still be far better at all the other stuff, obviously, as it’s dedicated and has been refined over many years, and I wouldn’t want to try to persuade anyone not to use it as a writing environment.

All the best,

The contextual “Add Selection” feature is welcome, and I love the idea of assigning everything in the character element to the list – that would be great! Even if it was a key combination that did it – type in a name in the character element, and command-whatever sends it to the list.

By the way, I didn’t mention before that importing .fdx files has been absolutely flawless. I’m building a nice stack of documents in my binder, and revisions in Scriv are, as always, a total pleasure.

Importing FDX documents will be even better in 2.0, too. The way you’re using it, it won’t make much difference, as you are importing a scene at a time. But in 2.0 you can import and split a script, and have all the scenes broken into separate documents with the summaries from FD intact. (Export will transfer the synopses in Scrivener across to summaries in FD, too.)
All the best,

Actually, this makes a big difference. I’m importing one big chunk at a time – I don’t stop to make a new FD document at each new scene. The more power I have to split scenes into more defined chunks, the better. When did you say 2.0 will be out?

Based on the progress I made this week, I’d say sometime between Skynet going live and Cornwall getting a heatwave.

So, 1997? Third quarter maybe?

When Skynet goes live, you’ll get your heatwave, Keith. In fact, anyone not wearing two million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day, get it?

(Wow. Didn’t even have to look that one up. That’s a little depressing.)

That was when it was originally scheduled, remember? But Kyle Reese’s actions haven’t destroyed Scrivener 2.0’s actions entirely, just delayed it.


But as for 2.0… Now I under-starnd vy humans cry.