Research - Writing - Editing

In response to a request for how I use Scrivener with Screenwriter Pro I sent this to the person who asked me and the thought struck me that it might be useful for other users of Scrivener.

So here it is - as is.

Hi xxxxxxxxxxxx,

I use Scrivener, MacJournal and Screenwriter (replace macjournal with your favourite data gathering app. - ie Devonthink, Yojimbo, whatever) I consider the combination to be about the best possible package. My work spans novels, documentaries and television dramas in different genres all in progress at the same time. I just can’t keep all of the bits and pieces in my head at the same time - and yet, after I have had my intravenous caffiene shot in the morning, when I pick up my previous writing in a project, if I can’t ‘get into the story head space’ really quickly I have to abandon the session. You know what I mean - the space where the words all merge into a sort of hypnoidal state and it is possible to have a conversation with your characters, or at least work improvisations with them. That space where as a writer you enter your story world. (It’s odd how many writers have done some theatre work and have the ability to do improvisation).

So I have rough technical bits, such as the layout of the flight deck of a Tiger Moth aircraft in MacJournal with the specs that it can only fly so many miles on a full tank. This is really critical to the plot of the story because it means that the hero has to put it down in that distance and be able to refuel. But what if the baddie’s henchman is lying in wait and …

So Scrivener then allows me to work the story up in a rough form and then finesse it bit by bit into a more refined state. Then I say such things in Scrivener as:

In Scrivener then, the next step is to turn this character direction into more direct first person stuff.

Then - this is still pretty blocky and sitting in a halfway world between a script and a set of directions for me as a writer. I then just highlite each bit of text and mark it as character, action or whatever NOT editing it (still in Scrivener).

Then I do a quick edit:

This is all done in Scrivener - now it is ready to drop into Screenwriter with everything falling into its proper place. Of course, the real writing still takes place in the final editing stage in Screenwriter - the bit where you realise that hiring a Tiger Moth for the duration of the movie is probably way outside the budget and you … Oh no!!! @$&k.

I use a 24" monitor so I can have my Macjournal stuff up on the screen with my Scrivener stuff, and my Scrivener stuff with my Screenwriter stuff. Scrivener is the bridge for storyforming between my raw stuff in MacJournal and my properly formatted script in Screenwriter. I have actual examples of this process as screen-grabs. If only I could post them on the Scrivener board, it would be so obvious and probably helpful to others.

Hope this helps a bit.


First, a confession.

I am pre-Scrivener. I have yet to Scriven. Scrivenment lies in my future.

Actually, I have to upgrade to 10.4 before I can run it, which I can do tomorrow. It seems though to be pretty much what I’ve been looking forward to for ages, with the additional boons of a great community (like my other two software cornerstones, Mellel and Fastmail), and a Brit developer.

A couple of things LL mentioned rang bells with me. Yes, there’s a headspace to get into and mostly I have to write my way into it by brute force; and yes, improvising is good for writers. It’s something about bargeing your way past instant instinctive critical analysis, I think.

Since Other People’s Writing Methods are inexhaustibly interesting, this is how I’m currently working on drama-ry stuff. (Corporate docs and co-written comedy are a different ball game).

Having figured out a rough half dozen beats of plot, I outline them in Omnioutliner, and put in sub beats. Then I do some fleshing out of characters, maybe in OO, maybe in Mellel. Then a six page synopsis/treatment. Then a long, long prose version of the plot, almost a novella, also in Mellel, then a detailed script breakdown, either in Melle or OO: three lines per scene covering, where, who, and what it has to cover. Then a script. Then another draft of the script…. then another draft of the script…. then another draft of the script…. then another draft of the script…. then another draft of the script…. then another draft of the script….

From what I’ve scene, Scrivener will be able to cope with most of that, won’t it? Farewell to Word and Final Draft agonies forever…