Screenplay Writers

I wanted to create a topic for people to exchange ideas on how to use Scrivener and perhaps other applications through the process of developing a screenplay.

I’ve just started working with the latest beta of Scrivener.

Over the past year, I looked at all the Usual Suspects and selected the following applications.

DEVONthink: For gathering a database of reference material (text files, web pages, multimedia files).

OmniOutliner: For developing the story structure. I considered using SuperNotecard instead of OmniOutliner but didn’t like it’s Java-based user interface.

Ulysses: For writing the film treatment. I really like the user interface and design of Ulysses. And fell in love with Full Screen mode writing! My wish list was for the browser to have a folder structure. And I even asked the developers to add screenplay formating. I dreamed about being able to write a screenplay in Ulysses, but alas it was not to be.

And so I continued my search for screenplay software on OS X …

Final Draft: I’ve used it since version 6, upgraded to version 7 (worse), but am trying really hard not to go there. After working with native OS X applications, it feels like a time machine taking me me back to the 1990s. If I’m going to spend many hours a day within an application, this is NOT where I want to be working.

Celtx: Still in beta, but I don’t like the Mozilla-based user interface.

Mellel: I created a screenplay template for Mellel. After turning on the Apple Aqua interface, and turning off the Toolbar and Paragraph Ruler … I’ve really enjoyed working with Mellel. The user interface is clean, and the Outline Pane is rock solid for navigating and changing the sequence of a screenplay. However, there are two problems that prevent me from continuing to use it: 1) You have to manually insert Scene Headings into the Outline by way of the mouse and Insert/Auto-Title; 2) I haven’t figured out a way to successfully get the screenplay text out of Mellel and into Final Draft, and have it maintain the correct formatting.

Montage: I’ve beta tested Montage off and on since it first showed up. It’s native to OS X, which is nice, but I’m not particularly pleased with the design. For one thing, I’m not a big fan of floating palettes, and would prefer having the Scene Navigation on the left side of the window. That space seems wasted with the View Icons. Since Views are available in the Menu and with keyboard shortcuts, why not put them in the floating Palette instead? It’s still got some development issues, but I’ll keep checking it out.

TextMate w/Screenplay Bundle: The documents import correctly into Final Draft, but there is no outline for navigating or reorganizing the screenplay. You could create separate documents for each scene heading or sequence in the screenplay, but doing so increases the labor of writing and getting the text into Final Draft.

It seems that Scrivener can now take the place of how I’ve been using OmniOutliner, (SuperNotecard), and Ulysses. And I’ve taken documents written in Screenplay Mode and successfully imported them into Final Draft. It’s tempting to consider writing the rough draft in Scrivener. But it doesn’t have an auto-complete feature, which requires you to fully type repeating Character Names and Scene Headings.

I’d be curious to hear thoughts and feedback from others who may be using Scrivener in the development of a screenplay. And how that may integrate with other applications.


Been at this game for years. After trying a zillion applications I use just Macjournal, Movie Magic ScreenWriter 6 (soon to be released - absolutely brilliant now at beta 6) and Scrivener. That’s all I really need. I also use a pdf version of early form stuff for Producers. Nothing else is really necessary.

Also try here: … .php?t=419


I use iKey and create text shortcuts using Ctrl+Opt+Cmd-[character’s initial], i.e. Ctrl+Opt+Cmd-S for “Svarthövde”.


I looked at MMS a year ago, but never pursued it for the same reasons I don’t like working in Final Draft … it not being native to OS X.

I presume you are a beta tester …

Do you know if the forthcoming version 6 is native to OS X, or is it another port from the Windows/OS 9 code?

Since the current update is 4.8.x, and there doesn’t appear to have ever been a version 5, I’m wondering if they decided to build version 6 from the ground up and make it native to OS X.

If so, that definitely will get my attention.

And thanks for the previous feedback!

Thanks for the tip. I’ll take a look at iKey.

LL, like Gerry, I’d love to hear more about this version - specifically if it’s OS X native. Are they still looking for beta tester? how close to release? Cheers!!

Yes I am a beta tester. It is absolutely fantastic and will read files from earlier versions. This one is a pure industry professional heavyweight.

The Screenplay form that Keith has included in Scrivener will drop Scrivener files into MMS6 (as far as I have tested, both as copy-paste and as export-import files. The formatting, so far as I can tell, is perfect.

I can not speak about beta testers with any authority. I do not speak for the developers. It seems that they really looked for industry professionals from the outset and beta testers were invited to participate. I believe I was invited as a result of my work and as a member of the AWG. Who knows? The beta testing has been extremely rigorous over about a year (on OSX and Windows). All beta testers had to sign a very powerful confidentiality agreement, so there is very little I can say, other than Scrivener is a real soul mate with MMS6 and it might be worthwhile keeping an eye on their site:

Their forum is here:

Thanks LL for the info - I’ll keep my eye on that website. Can you tell me, though, whether it’s native OS X? Or would you have to shoot me after telling me - not that I’d mind :wink:

katz, i assume you’re asking whether the interface is a cocoa one?

Yes indeed :smiley: Now that I’ve grown accustomed to cocoa interfaces, anything else feels rather retro, if ya know what I mean. :wink:

My lips are sealed katzenjammer.

I think I saw a site, in the last couple of days, that was selling the earlier version and promising a free upgrade to v6, only one site, however, it will be UBiquitous when it is released . That has to mean something. I just had a ‘senior moment’ and forgot what site it was!!!

Retro indeed! And that’s being kind.

As an example, the biggest problem I have with Final Draft is the rendering of text. FD doesn’t use the Quartz text engine of OS X (which all Cocoa apps do). After having been spoiled by the look and feel of text and graphics in native applications, I find it uncomfortable to stare at FD documents for hours at a time. I don’t want to work in that kind of environment. So for the time being … I’ll go ahead and cross my fingers in the shape of MMS.


Lord Lighteningeth, dost thou know when MMS6 shall make an appearence. Sooneth? Latereth? :wink:

Hi katzenjammer,

I’m not able to give forward information because it could have a market impact for the developer, but I can espouse the virtues of the product. SCW6 is one application that really delivers on its promises for day to day screenwriting. When it does appear, soonish, you will be gobsmacked at just what a perfect companion it is for Scrivener. The format process Keith has included in Scrivener will allow you to use Scrivener for all your early coffee stained draft work and just transfer the RTF when you need to do a final pristine format for presentation to a commercial producer. Remember, SCW6 is an Academy Award winning product - pure, top of the tree professional. It says a lot about Scrivener that it is such a perfect fit with SCW6.

Your patience will be rewarded before too many moons have passed.

All right, color me an idiot. But I am a professional screenwriting human who digs Scrivener, and just wants ooooooone tweak to the screenplay format.

All I want, basically, is to change the default that when you hit Enter] in Action style, you automatically jump to Character. I just want to type another paragraph of Action (this is a very, very standard thing to do in a script, btw, multiple paragraphs in action.)

Do I need to go jump to iKey, or can I reset that as an option, or even just using a key-shortcut to a style to adjust this?

There is anotherthread regarding this request that was just responded to by Keith.

I don’t write screenplays myself but have tried to learn something from screenwriting methods and how to books for use in writing nonfiction narrative and learning to think in scenes. anyway, I just came upon this quote from the screenwriter Peter Barry, who wrote the BBC production The Last Enemy (this is from the program website), currently airing on this side of the pond, and I thought it might be relevant to Scriveners who, like me, need a reminder to use the Corkboard:

"How do you get all the plot elements to mesh?

I worked as a film editor for a number of years, and I tend to plot on 3x5 cards. I sit at a very large table and move the cards around, working out the plot without getting involved in too much detail of writing, so I don’t fall in love with anything. When I’ve got a large structure, I can see how it breaks down into episodes. At that point I start writing the scripts."