Script mode sometimes shifts element format

I’m working on a screenplay at the moment, the first time I’ve tried using Scrivener for this particular task. It’s great, but one thing I’m noticing is that text formatted for one particular element can often switch to another element – for example, I’m finding that text set as a DIALOGUE element is sometimes spontaneously switching to CHARACTER element. It doesn’t do it visually whilst I’m typing; the glitch only becomes apparent if I view the text in a different way, for example, if I switch from the regular editor to Composition mode, or if I export the draft to Final Draft and open it in that application. Has anyone else noticed this? It’s annoying to keep having to go back through reams of text putting things back to their correct elements (keyboard shortcuts make it less of a chore than it might be, but still).

That’s definitely not a normal scenario you are describing. I don’t recall any reports of this, and have never seen anything like it myself, but I can think of ways in how it could happen. Here is how Scrivener works in regards to elements. Unlike dedicated scriptwriting software like Final Draft, it doesn’t assign the element to the range of text. Rather, it is more like how Word might approach the problem, but assigning the formatting attributes that uniquely describe that element to the text, then recognising it as being that element, for its formatting attributes. So when you set something to Dialogue in Scrivener, you are just invoking a macro that sets the text to be formatted in the way a dialogue element is formatted on the paper. When you later open that text file in Scrivener, it scans through the document matching certain formatting rules to the text, and those pieces of text that match will show up as being “Dialogue” or whatever.

Thus, if the formatting of any text is disturbed, the “assignment” to an element will be broken. If it is disturbed in such a way that it ends up being precisely like another element’s formatting definition, then it will appear to switch to Character—however given the infinite latitude of changes in between these two variables, it is more likely that something that has had its formatting damaged will end up being marked as “General”, which is the catch-all for anything Scrivener cannot recognise.

So perhaps there is something specific in the way you are exporting, or in your settings, that is causing formatting to be disturbed by processes that otherwise ordinarily shouldn’t do so. I’m afraid I’m at a loss as to what those could be. Switching to composition mode has nothing to do with formatting text (save for in the most passive of ways: the changing of the container the text is presented within). Given how strange that is, I would recommend just resetting your software to factory default and see if that gets rid of the problem. You can do so by saving your preferences with the “Manage” button in the lower-left of the preferences window, and then using the /Scrivener/Reveal Support Folder in Finder menu command. Close the software, navigate up two folders from where that command opened a Finder window, locate the “Preferences” folder, and then move the com.literatureandlatte.scrivener2.plist file you will find there to the Desktop or the Trash.

Now restart the software and create a new blank project. Enable scriptwriting mode, and see if the problem reproduces. If things work, then proceed upwards from there. Open the existing project and see if it works fine. If that works, then use the Manage button to reload your preferences from the saved file and test again. Hopefully you can end up with an identical working space but with the gremlin removed.