screenplay files and compile

hello. my questions concerns using scrivener for scriptwriting …

I’m wondering how do you all recommend breaking up scenes? should each scene be its own file? can scenes be strung together as one file? or is this really subjective - ie if i have ten short scenes that are for example, one action sequence i could write them all as one file. on the other hand, if i want to be able to move them around, it’s best to keep them separate?

is the real point of scrivener to keep it all separate and rely upon the compile function?

i find it difficult to work when i can’t see previous scenes or pages? but doesn’t this defeat the whole premise of compile?

and if ultimately this is all going into final draft (let’s say v8) which is the better way to do this?

I’m starting a new project - i have all my outlines, notes, etc in scrivener - now it’s time to write, and I haven’t decided should i stick to final draft or write in scrivener

thanks, sam

I’m going to leap in here, though there are others better equipped to answer from experience. However my answer is “Whichever way suits you best personally.” That said, I would have thought that the flexibility of having each scene in it’s own document has a huge amount going for it …

… and of course you can use “Edit Scrivenings” to load all the scenes in the sequence at the same time in their order so that you can work on the ones that you want to see together as if they were one document.



Mark has answered the main thrust of your question, really - you can split things up (or not) however you want. You could have some action scenes all together in one file, and other, longer files split up separately. And you can view them all together using Edit Scrivenings, which is sort of a temporary compile for viewing and editing - it doesn’t really merge the documents, but makes it look as though they are part of one document for editing purposes if you want to see them together.

And if you write some scenes together that you later want to split, you can always use Documents > Split at Selection to split them up. (Or Documents > Merge to merge together some documents on the other hand.)

As for the best way of getting the script out to Final Draft 8, this is easy: just use FDX export. Scrivener 1.51 exports directly to the Final Draft 8 native format, so this is a no-brainer if you are using FD8 these days, fortunately.

Hope that helps!

All the best,


I use Scrivener mostly for material that ultimately turns into a script. As Keith says, it’s up to you, ultimately. Scrivener’s big strength is that it lets you work in lots of ways and stays out of your way apart from when you don’t want it to, which is a helluva trick.

I don’t get too hung up on one scene/one document; I tend to have one document per beat, so some are literally a line and others are ten pages. Whatever size chunk I feel most comfortable working with, really.

If you want to split documents into two, apple-k’s your man.

In terms of general workflow, I gather pdf’s, webpages, audio files etc. in the ‘Research’ section, hammer out notes and outlines and stuff in the Text bit. I don’t really use the outlining stuff much, it’s all a bit organised for me. Scriv projects are just about keeping material together for me. Then I create a folder in which I have one document per beat of screenplay, and as I’m working I have the window split so I can see my longish treatment which I work off at the same time. The screenplay window isn’t generally in layout mode, but I’ll switch into it every so often to check page count.

If I want to export or print, I use ‘compile’, pick up the file in Nisus Express or NeoOffice or whatever my WP du jour is, and do tedious things with styles for several hours.