Screenwriting Elements change on their own

Dialogue script elements can sometimes change on their own into a different element. I think this only affects Dialogue, which can become Character or Stage Direction elements. How it happens: I’m working in one document in a project, go work on a different one, come back and a line of dialogue has changed to a different element. Clues: usually this is the last line of dialogue in the document, but I just now returned to a document to discover that the last 8 characters had their dialogue changed to Character – without being converted to capital letters. How I fix it: I close the project and re-open it. That lasts for a good long while. This has happened in multiple projects for months now. A quirky bug!

As I keep working on this project, documents I’m not looking at will shift. It might happen 10 times in a day. If I re-open the project – sorry, I misspoke – this does not fix the problem.

The following examples all happened today. The character name CODY has shifted so it’s flush left because it has become Dialogue when it was once in Character format:
Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 2.43.14 PM.png
In the same project, here’s how dialogue changes into a Character element sometimes, when it’s the last line of a document (though not always):Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 2.47.11 PM.png
And here’s one where dialogue has become a Character element, but is not the last line and oddly it does not become all caps:

I spend time every day fixing these things and have to do a check before I compile, or it will compile this way as well.

Not a solution but a workaround:

I avoid problems with Scrivener’s script-processor by writing and editing script pages in WriterSolo, the free, non-cloud version of WriterDuet.

WS is the only script processor I’ve found that can round-trip with Scrivener via cut and paste and retain all formatting.

I do all the organizational work in Scrivener, make a blank Screenwriting document, and then write the pages in WS. When I’m done, I select all and copy, and then use Edit>Paste Plain Text As Screenplay in Scrivener to paste the pages into the Screenwriting document.

When script pages need editing, I select the text in Scrivener and copy, then paste into a new blank document in WS. Then repeat the process to put the changes back in Scrivener.

WriterSolo is also a solid screenwriting app and as I mentioned – it’s completely free. Give it a try.

Here’s a variation of the problem that’s repeatable:

Go into a Scriptwriting document.
Make a page of lines: Character, Dialogue, etc.
Highlight as one group: a Character, a line of dialogue, another Character and another line of dialogue.
Be certain the the final paragraph mark of the last Dialogue line is NOT highlighted.
Hit Ctrl-Command-8 to add a footnote. Type something in it.
Move to a different document. (not sure this is necessary)
Close & re-open the project.
The last line of dialogue is now Character and indented and not capitalized.

I can’t add another step. I now write in Scrivener then transfer to Final Draft and most problems are solvable.

Yeah, I get it, but that feeling will subside after a while.

From my experience, any problem having to do with Scrivener’s text engine is not going to get solved any time soon. The way you decribe the issue, it seems very similar to the problems I found when cutting and pasting screenplay paragraphs in Scrivener. They shift format as well.

The reason this happens is that unlike Final Draft, WriterSolo or every other screenwriting app I know of, Scrivener doesn’t have a purpose-built script-processor. They use the Scrivener RTF text engine, which relies heavily on Apple’s frameworks. The glitches having to do with formatting and trailing paragraph marks appear to be problems in Apple’s code, not L&L’s. Which means Apple has to fix it, and I wouldn’t hold my breath.

L&L was nice enough to add Paste Plain Text As Screenplay, which lets you paste script pages from most dedicated screenwriting apps:

I recommended using WriterSolo because it can accept copied text from Scrivener, and turn the RTF into properly formatted script pages, so you can round-trip back and forth between the two apps. Then you can finish up in Final Draft. This is my workflow as well, FWIW.

Yes, it’s a clunky, cumbersome workflow. It’s a testimony to the power of Scrivener’s other features, that we’re willing to jump through these fiery hoops to be able to use it to write screenplays.

Interesting. If you wouldn’t mind, can you be more specific about your workflow? Do you outline/write in Scrivener, then copy to Writer Solo, then to Final Draft ? How and why would you move back and forth between Scrivener and Writer Solo? And avoid formatting issues?

Uh-oh. Looks like that company doesn’t make Writer Solo anymore…

Sure. I break a story/outline using MindNode,Dynalist,and Scrivener.

These three programs offer three different ways to brainstorm and organize ideas. Scrivener for prose, Dynalist for outlines and MindNode for mind-mapping. All three can export and import OPML, so I can eventually bring them all into Scrivener.

I start working in Scrivener in normal word-processing mode. I do brain-dumps, writing freely about anything and everything I can think of about the film. Then I break the long prose document into separate ideas using Document>Split With Selection As Title.

I look at these on the Corkboard as a bunch of index cards. I make some folders to organize the cards. The folders may be acts, characters, action sequences – whatever the cards require. I file the cards accordingly.

Later, after brainstorming in Mindnode and Dynalist, I’ll import their OPML files into Scrivener. I’ll pull apart their structures and take the key ideas into the existing folders in Scrivener. Sometimes, I’ll take time when I import them to flesh out the ideas in Scrivener, writing more details on each index card.

I’ll often do the heavy lifting on the structure in Dynalist, because it’s so nimble at outlining. You can focus in and out quickly and easily, and it supports tags so you can quickly look at all your notes about a particular character or subplot. Dynalist requires an internet connection, so if I’m disconnected for some reason, I use OmniOutliner instead.

At some point, I’ll bring the outline into Scrivener, and fine tune it using the Binder and the Corkboard. I tend to write scenes of about 2-2.5 pages long, often in a sequence of two scenes about 4-5 minutes long. Since I organize my scripts this way, Scrivener is a good fit.

By the time I have all 48 index cards figured out an organized, it’s time to write the draft. I open the card for the first scene and put it on the left side of the screen, and open WriterSolo on the right. Looking at the notes in Scrivener, I type the 2-2.5 pages of the scene in WS. In WS I can redraft, edit, cut and paste – it all works great.

When I’m done with the scene, I Select All and copy the pages. Then I go to Scrivener, and in the Body of the index card, I make sure it’s set to Screenplay Mode and I use Edit>Paste Plain Text As Screenplay to paste the pages from WS into Scrivener. All the formatting comes across.

Then I go on to the next scene.

I do all my script typing in WS, and paste it into Scrivener. As long as you use Paste Plain Text As Screenplay, the formatting should come across just fine.

If I’m reading some script pages in Scrivener and I want to change something substantial, I copy it and paste it into WS. I make my edits in WS, then paste it back into Scrivener.

I try to do 90% of my typing in WS. Scrivener is fine to make minor tweaks, like changing a misspelled word. Anything more substantial, I just use WS.

Maybe you looked in the wrong place. Website is up:

I use the downloadable app, instead of the browser app. Either is fine.

Does that give you a better idea of the process?

I just wanted to encourage you to email your issue to support, with a link to this thread. Sometimes the developer spots threads like these, especially the unanswered ones, but as soon as there is more than 1 post, it is often safe to assume that the user community has helped solve the issue, so they move on to other discussion threads.

This looks like a bug to me, and I’m sure it can be fixed if you can help the developer reliably re-produce it on their systems. That’s always the issue though; it sounds like this happens while you work, but not consistently? Can you start a blank project and make it happen with a series of easy-to-follow steps?

I applaud your optimism, but I have sent a number of similar reproduceable bugs to L&L over the years that they say they cannot fix. As explained above, the bugs are in Apple’s text frameworks and are beyond L&L’s reach.

Maybe this is different, but it seems quite similar.

The screenwriting mode is not built into the Apple text engine. The fact that it can be triggered by Scrivener losing and then re-gaining input focus sounds to me like it’s triggering a change in the script writing element. This is a far cry from smart quotes going the wrong way after an em-dash, which is a known issue with the text engine. That kind of thing can be reproduced in Text Edit. If you could reproduce the script-writing element changing from character name to stage direction in Text Edit, then I’d agree, but you might have trouble finding Text Edit’s script writing mode. :wink:

The bugs I’ve reported to L&L that they have said are unfixable all relate to the Screenwriting mode failing to preserve formatting.

I hope you’re right, and that they fix this bug. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen.

Yes, that is a very clear and easy to reproduce problem, I’ll let Keith know about it. We got a report about this (perhaps from the same OP) but haven’t managed to get a reproduction. I’d have never thought to only select up to the last letter of the dialogue like that!

You mean the one that can be entirely avoided by triple-click selecting (which is oodles more efficient for selecting lines) and/or using Paste and Match Style? If I recall correctly all of those can be demonstrated in TextEdit as well, so you’re right about us being unable to fix them. They are annoying, yes—but they are annoying to those who do not write scripts as well. Even I run into them from time to time, and I don’t even care about formatting and use Markdown to write! But like I say, they are very easy to avoid.

As I said above, I adore Scrivener’s organizational power, or else I would not jump through flaming hoops in order to use it to write screenplays.

That being said, Scrivener performs poorly in comparison to other screenwriting apps. I wish L&L would bring Scrivener’s screenplay processing up to professional standards, but they won’t. I understand their reasons. If it were my software company, I would do it differently. Alas, it is not, so I must cope with the given circumstances.

That’s not quite a ringing endorsement for Scrivener, is it?

Like a lot of screenwriters, I want a writing experience as free from annoyance as possible. I’ve built my workaround with WriterSolo and Keyboard Maestro to be fairly quick and smooth.

I find pasting pages from WriterSolo less vexing than tiptoeing around the peculiarities of Apple’s text frameworks. I’m grateful for Paste Plain Text As Screenplay; that makes my workflow possible.

You do a wonderful job supporting Scrivener. You’re just trapped with the consequences of relying on Apple’s frameworks.

I don’t think many people find the problem nearly as troubling as you do. :laughing:

Why should it trouble me? I have a workaround.

It would be great if OP’s bug gets fixed, but I suspect it will be a very long wait, if ever. Most likely it will be blamed on Apple’s frameworks.

That’s why I suggested the workaround with WriterSolo to the OP.

Well, it often happens to the last line of dialogue, but not always – as in the examples provided. It just keeps happening. What’s more, if I close a project and re-open it, the odds are good that the same lines that I just fixed will be the ones that have gone awry again. I’d send you one of those documents from the project if you could tell me how.

Thanks for the offer, I’ll keep it in mind if Keith can’t get a reproduction from the notes already sent.

That makes sense to me. This is a bug that knocks out some formatting when certain conditions are applied to the text. If you leave those conditions in place then we would absolutely expect it to keep happening over and over again. Ensuring your notes do not extend over multiple elements of the script should avoid it entirely.

Most of the time, there are no comments or footnotes involved. The text changes to another story element on its own, most often the last line of a document – but certainly not always.

That’s a variation I wasn’t aware of, I don’t understand how that would happen sometimes but not always, to the last line but not always the last line. Is that a way of saying it can happen anywhere at any time? If so that would be most strange, since script formatting isn’t different than any other kind of formatting in Scrivener. We’d have reports from people all manner of formatting vanishing over time and so forth—and all I’m aware of along those lines are a few rare reports like this that impact scripts. There must be some predictable condition acting upon the text, even if it doesn’t look like it—comments may only be one trigger, what other kinds of things do you use?