Final Draft Dialogue Features

Dear Keith,

I work as a screenwriter/director and have recently been introduced to Scrivener for Windows, which I found extremely helpful for so many reasons.

I have been working on Final Draft for years and I’m very much used to its formatting system. However it has no decent outlining/organization features. The binder & outlining system in Scrivener is just amazing, so the only things that keep me working in Final Draft are mainly the dialogue features:

  1. In a conversation between 2 characters, every time I press enter, FD automatically guesses the name of the interlocutor without having to type the beginning. That saves a huge amount of time and makes writing dialogue very organic. That is the one feature I would die to see in Scrivener since it’s really the main reason why I still work in FD.

  2. When I add a character name somewhere inside my text on the middle of the page/or at the very bottom, the page shifts/scroll abruptly and I must scroll down again to find out where I was. Also in normal mode (non full screen) my writing is always very close to the bottom of the screen while I would like to keep lots of white space under my text as I write.

  3. Finally, the biggest issue right now is the inability to import fdx files. It seems like there’s no other way to import an fdx screenplay with Scrivener recognizing the formatting? So at the moment I can’t transfer my 107 pages medieval script into Scrivener which basically means I have to keep working in Final draft. :cry:

Many thanks in advance for your reply/comments and for creating Scrivener - I already use it on a regular basis for structuring text documents and I can’t wait to be doing the same for film scripts.

Best Regards,

Hi Jeremy,

Great to hear that you’re finding Scrivener useful!

One thing you have to bear in mind is that Scrivener is not only a scriptwriting program, but a general writing program for many genres and types of writing. This means that it’s not always possible to include very specific screenwriting features such as this one. Because script formatting can be set up to be used for almost any format, Scrivener doesn’t really know that a “character” element is for characters - it has no concept of such a thing, but rather this is just a format that has been assigned the name “Character”. Thus there is no way for Scrivener to monitor and guess character names, because it has no concept of such a thing. I’m not saying that this will never come to Scrivener, just that it would be very difficult under the current system.

If I understand correctly, turning on typewriter mode should address this - Format > Options > Typewriter Mode.

FDX import (and export) will be coming in the next few months. It has long been part of Scrivener for the Mac, but it got pushed back from the original release of Scrivener for Windows owing to time constraints. It’s definitely coming, though.

Thanks and all the best,

Hi Keith and thanks for your quick reply,

  1. Argh. Too bad. I was hoping it would be an easy one to add. I’ll have to keep switching between FD and Scriv and forget about my dream of organizing everything under the same roof :cry: I’m hoping there’s still a chance to see this feature someday.

  2. Just tried Typewriter mode but I still have the same issue. Every time I’m entering a new character name and press enter, the cursor DOES place itself ready to write the dialogue but I’m being sent back to the very top of the document!


Hmm, (2) sounds as though it might be a Windows bug - I’ll get Lee or Jennifer to take a look at that.

All the best,

Ditto points 1 & 3 above. I just got turned on to this software. I’ve downloaded the demo and I dig it. But those exact two points are the only things keeping me from buying it immediately. Interoperability and the ability to import/export a common format, and the name auto-completing. The latter seems like a silly little thing. But when it’s handled well it really is magical in terms of the software getting out of your way and letting you flow in the writing, which is what good writing software is all about.

My other pet peeve is when editing and for example deleting or adding hard returns in existing text, sometimes the text will ‘inherit’ the all caps from say a “character” format type or something. If this was a block of “action” text, now you have to reassign it as an action, then go up to the menu and go Format > Convert> To Lowercase, then go back through and re-capitalize everything that needed it in the first place. It’s a bunch of tail-chasing that is no fun b/c the software is actually converting your text to all caps, as opposed to just ‘displaying it’ as all caps when an appropriate format type is selected. Figuring out the most seamless editability of the screenplay format is critical, so as few issues like that occur as possible.

I feel like Scrivener does so many more things right than Final Draft but the things that Final Draft does right are basic and critical to writing screenplays. I wish you could have a party and make beautiful software babies.

Totally agree. Matching the basic formatting features of Final Draft would instantly make Scrivener the best soft to write a screenplay. Make it happen!