Scrivener, the iPad, a lost screenwriter


I admit: I’ve become addict to Scrivener for screenwriting. Once an avid user of Celtx, I discovered I can no longer go back to its much rougher interface and limited organizing tools. Scrivener might “not be meant mainly for screenwriting”, but it is a joy even in this case.

The problem is, that I cannot find an easy way to exchange screenplays between it and the iPad. I found a wonderful strategy for prose and essays (PlainText, MultiMarkDown syntax, Dropbox), but nothing for screenwriting.

The most similar app to Scrivener, on the surface, seems to be Index Card, that is also well integrated with Scrivener. But I would be happy to understand if there is some alternative strategy for exchanging documents. Maybe a minimalist one, like the one implemented with PlainText.

Best, Paolo

Maybe I got an answer from Scrivener’s own user manual. The trick is in using the various import/export features of Scrivener.

  • Export: from Scrivener, export the script as a TXT files, with straightened quotes and flattened ellypes and en/em-dashes. This would generate a single, long plain text file that can be edited with any text editor. And probably correctly interpreted by Celtx or Index Card for iPad.

  • Import: from Celtx for iPad export as a TXT file. In Scrivener, import it as a Plain Text Formatted Screenplay, and let it split the document in scenes.

If this worked, it would probably be the correct way of bouncing screenplays from the Mac to iPad and vice versa. However, I found the following issues:

  • Celtx scenes are recognized as Shots and not Scene Headings by Scrivener (Import > Plain Text Formatted Screenplay).

  • Plain Text formatted Scrivener screenplays are recognized as a single, uninterrupted line of text by Celtx (Import Script), and any character exceeding the base ASCII set are replaced with something odd.


are you aware that there will be an iOS version of Scrivener soon? (well, not sure how soon, but eventually…)

Yes, and I’m waiting for it (even if “soon” may mean several months). But I’m not sure screenwriting will be introduced at first. In any case, not today :slight_smile:


Exporting to an external, synchronized folder from Scrivener, and then editing the exported plain text files in PlainText, resulted in something odd. In PlainText, the files seem to be “flattened”, with all indents gone. On the contrary, when returning to Scrivener you are happy to discover that all indents have been preserved, and the clever way of recognizing script elements by analyzing the indents has preserved the screenplay’s structure.

But all lines that have been edited in PlainText have been flattened. Therefore, their indentation (and structural role) removed. Script elements have to be manually reapplied. So, probably this method is not working.


Are there any scriptwriting applications on the iPad that read FDX files? I thought there was at least one, and the folder sync feature does support .fdx as an option.

Further research: try Screenplay and Script Pros. As seen here. The writer professes to preferring a Dropbox workflow, so they might work with that (I didn’t check them out though to see if they support full Dropbox folder and file navigation).

Ioa, thank you for the hints.

It seems that Screenplay’s development is dead, and no iPad app is available. There are two apps left: Scripts Pro and Celtx Script. Celtx for iOS only seems to save in its own format. As far as I understand, Scripts Pro exports in the txt, celtx or fdx formats.

This inport/export flexibility, added to the fact that Celtx seems to only work in portrait mode, and the elegant presentation of Scripts’ next release, makes me tend to want to purchase Scripts Pro. I’ll then do some tests with importing/exporting in Scrivener.

EDIT: With Scripts Pro, inport/export of FDX files works fine. It seems that, at the moment, this is the most compatibile combination for screenwriting on Scrivener and the iPad.


Paolo —

You know about Fountain, right?


Speaking of Fountain… :wink:


Thank you very much for pointing me toward Fountain. I totally missed this synthax, and it looks like the way I was trying to go. I suspect that Scrivener and Writing Kit could work fine this way - assuming Scrivener can support Fountain’s synthax.

I must still understand if Writing Kit supports text broken into several different files, as PlainText does, so that it can easily match Scrivener’s way of breaking a project. In this case, it would be a good compromise between the simplicity I love in PlainText, and some handy features more.

In the meantime, it seems that Scripts Pro and Scrivener are a good match via the FDX file format.

Cheers, Paolo

(PS: The sample text in Writing Kit shows a tale about gasoline at $4. It is €2 now where I live, so dystopia is near…)


You’re welcome! Fountain really is an exciting development. Just to give you a sense of my Fountain workflow:

I’ve been collecting plain text scrivenings (using the Fountain syntax) in Scrivener for weeks now, sometimes writing right in Scriv, sometimes on the iPad with any number of text editors (now that Byword is on the iPad, it’ll be that), occasionally jotting down a scene or two on my phone. I format by importing with an app called Fade In, which looks nice and is obsessively supported by the developer.

Truth is, though, for most of it, Final Draft imports Fountain pretty much perfectly, using the “convert text file” feature that’s been there forever. Some weird stuff (forcing a nonstandard scene heading with a period) doesn’t work in FD, but that’s an edge case.

Happy writing,


It doesn’t support Fountain yet in the sense that its internal scripting system can be translated to and from it. It of course “supports” it in the sense that it also supports writing in (Multi)-Markdown or any other plain-text marking system like that. You just type according to the rules and you are working in Fountain. But like I hinted above, we are taking a look at Fountain and testing out some theories with it, so we might have something better than “just type it out” in the future.

If you wanted something right now, you could maybe set up a custom scripting template to generate Fountain using the basic scripting engine. Not sure if that would be worth your time though, as with Markdown, it is really easy to just type in this format in the first place.

Thank you everybody for the nice hints. I’ll be happy to follow the steps of integrating Fountain into Scrivener. At the moment, I must say that the partnership with Final Draft has produced the great result of making easy the exchange of data with Scripts Pro (and probably other screenwriting software). It works really well.

While based on a proprietary solution, it is there, and there is no reason not to use it. Scripts Pro seems to have a nice future planned by its author. I feel right with it in my Scrivener workflow.


And hopefully within the year much of this will be moot anyway. :slight_smile: Scriptwriting in Scrivener for iOS is a planned part of the product. The existing workflows would remain for those that prefer other apps of course.

Yummy! :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m as excited as anyone for Scrivener to make it to iOS, but in the meantime, this is how I work with .fountain files:

-start with a regular external folder sync in scriv (dropbox)
-open txt file in Writing Kit…
-Now I need the file to be a .fountain file in order to be able to preview it in Writing Kit in screenplay form, so I hit change extension then change it to fountain…
-then before saving it, I change the extension back to txt

Scrivener won’t recognize a .fountain as a true .txt file and will put it in a trash folder after sync if it stays a .fountain. I would have bugged Keith about a way to make scrivener recognize a .fountain as just another txt file as it seems like that would be super easy to do, but in reality, due to the complexity of the way scrivener names the files, I think that it wouldn’t be as easy as just telling scivener to treat .fountain like .txt (hope I’m wrong about that, though. would be nice)

As for Paolo’s happiness with Scripts Pro with FDX, I did like that, too. Not quite stable enough for me to be able to trust it entirely. However, I did find that the new version of Storyist (1.2) on my new iPad seems like the total package. It has been completely stable for me, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I also need their dropbox syncing, as I got tired of how wonkey the Scripts Pro syncing was. It is a couple bucks more than Scripts Pro, but Storyist does look like a near perfect FDX editor now.

Fountain sounds awesome. I wonder if there’s an ETA for seeing this in Scrivener?

ETA? Try the latest public beta. :slight_smile:

Folder sync now allows you to set a custom output extension for the plain-text format.

Thanks, so excited! So it can export FDX into fountain formatted text, or does it just changes the extension?

No, it just changes the extension. :slight_smile: My earlier comments on Fountain support stand, including the one where a pure Fountain workflow, where one compiles as a plain-text document in the end and then converts that to FDX for the final work, is natural and feasible. One of the advantages of formats like Markdown and Fountain are that you can use them anywhere and end up with a professional result when you are ready to convert it.