Slugline Screenwriting App


Has anyone tested/taken a closer look at Slugline
It’s a new screenwriting app by the people behind the text based screenwriting language Fountain and the Highland app.
It’s an app for writing. So, it’s not a place to store notes, research material, the kitchen sink etc. I’m curious as to how it would be possible to integrate Slugline in a Scrivener-based workflow, or if such an integration adds anything.
It’s a lean, sleek, good looking application (if fairly expensive for what it is), and I like the fact that it’s based on a plain text format, which makes for easy sync with iOS devices.


My quick review (based on an hour of messing with it):

If you’re already writing in Fountain, Slugline is a very nice option. For a 1.0, it seems well-tested and quite thoroughly thought out. You can do all the Fountain-y things you want, including the Markdown-like stuff like making words italic etc.

Dropbox integration is easy, though there’s a permissions bug that will tell you that you don’t have permission to autosave to a dropbox folder, which is apparently getting fixed.

Saves files as .fountain, which can be easily imported into Scrivener.

Cursory observation about import into Scrivener: appends imported documents with a red note at the bottom that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 1.01.28 PM.png

Is that an endnote? I don’t know about such things.

The trick of the thing is that, when you type in Fountain, Slugline “pops” each element into screenplay format. The “popping” is fast and responsive. Here’s a qualm: If you spend your day looking at the screen, is the constant shifting of text from the left margin to the appropriate screenplay margin going to get annoying? I don’t know. **

When you open the preferences menu, it says “I prefer to write” and has an AGREE button to dismiss the box. And that’s it. Which would be cute if it weren’t bullshit — because while there are no actual preferences under Preference, there is a Document Settings menu under File which gives you a few, yes, preferences. All of which results in the preferences simply being in the wrong place, all for the sake of a joke that doesn’t quite land. Fucking screenwriters. :smiley:

Autocomplete works well.

There’s an outlining bar on the left (optional), which does outlining in the exact wrong way if you ask me, but it does its own thing really beautifully, and if I learned it, I’m sure I would love it. coughFargo is awesome*cough.

You’re right, Mats, Slugline is expensive. It’s only $10 less than Scrivener! And it doesn’t export as anything but .fountain, so if you want to save your script as something else (other than a PDF, I guess), you’ll need to re-open your document in something that reads Fountain and can export as, say, .FDX (like Scrivener). Slugline does give you the option of sending your document directly to Highland for conversion. Thing is, Highland is already $20, so now you’re at $60 for the suite.

It sounds like I’m down on Slugline. I’m not. It’s actually quite wonderful, and it really does feel like “the new way to do things” in the screenplay app space.

If it’s a choice between Slugline + Highland vs. Final Draft, it’s a no-brainer. Even at $60, you’re WAY ahead on cost (let your producer spring for FD.)

But Slugline + Highland vs. Scrivener? Hmm. Scrivener’s screenplay mode and export options do everything the other two do, albeit the other way around. Plus, at the end of the day, you have Scrivener and all the other things it can do. So it comes down to how you want to write. Which is great — options are cool. I can see myself writing scripts in Slugline, and I’m sure it will be a great experience. But I collect these apps like barnacles, and since I’ve already sprung for it, I’m now looking at it as a sunk cost. Which is probably the wrong business school term, but whatevs.

I think my reaction to Slugline is the same as my reaction to Ulysses III: “This is AMAZING! Gosh, this guy did a great job! Why do I need it again?”

[size=85]** Theres a part of me that thinks the real “just write” app in this space is Highland by itself, which does much of what Slugline does without the “popping” thing. And I haven’t even mentioned Fade In, which is a hell of an app![/size]

Thanks Sean for a great review. No, probably it’s not a Scrivener killer. I still have all my research etc. in Scrivener, and Scrivener can do everything that Slugline can do. But still. Like you I have difficulties saying no to an elegant app, I like working in Fountain and I already have Highland, so I’ll probably add Slugline to my application folder.


From the Slugline help page:

The fountain format uses square brackets to mark notes that shouldn’t show in the final output.

I think these text markup languages are a great idea, but perhaps they need a formal settings block that gives the name and version of the application they’re intended for, along with the setting itself.

Now obviously, being a competitor to Slugline I am totally biased - I’ll admit to that - but I have tried very hard not to be in a review I just posted up:

Review of Slugline

Honest. :slight_smile:

I must say though that I do not like this Apple-backed trend of not offering a demo version to try out before you buy. I mean, for a £0.69 iPhone app you don’t even blink, but $40 is a very nice Thai buffet for two in Banbury “for a punt”.

All the best,


fair and honest review, considering where you come from. Agree fully that $40 is too much for just taking Slugline for a spin.
I’m sure Slugline is not for everyone. In your review you write:

Fair enough, but it’s me. I for one like to be able to write on the go. (On my iPad, can’t for my life understand how anyone can accomplish any creative writing on an iPhone, but I hear that some people do). I quite like the Fountain “just write” approach, even if I wouldn’t give up Scrivener’s support for more extensive meta-data, research, linking and non-linear restructuring.
(Also, I should add, Slugline is not the simple text-app that one can get the impression it is from your review. If you start a project in Slugline and accept (or even like?) to work in a mark down format, Slugline offer some very useful outlining, synopsys and commenting tools.)
You also write:

Might be so, and if that is the fault of Slugline to FD/MD is not mine to judge. But for Scrivener users that for one reason or other (maybe they just want to change the view, not much happening in a writers life :wink:) want to incorporate Slugline in their workflow, it should be noted that Scrivener imports and correctly formats Slugline files, and Slugline accepts Scrivener script files exported to Fountain.


Oh I completely understand the need to be able to write on the go. That’s not the point I was trying to make (and may have emphasised it incorrectly when I said in my review:

…when I said “that writer isn’t me” I didn’t mean in terms of writing on the go. I meant in terms of writing in plain text in the leanest of ways. I apologise if that didn’t come across correctly.

Apologies again. Yes, absolutely it has some good features as you mention but the “simple text app” I was referring to was really in terms of the actual file handling - i.e., you’re dealing with just simple text without any reference material being possible etc.

To me that’s a step back because even writers who still write with typewriters use index cards or something to visualise the story. The “simple text app” I was referring to was that you are left with just the page in front of you to write. But of course, that may suit some. I completely understand that.

Well, Slugline, obviously. :wink:

Sure. Noted. But whilst Movie Draft cannot currently save as .fountain (just hasn’t been at the top of my priorities but I will get round to it), it can open .fountain files - or .fdx files, or .rtf files, or plain text files - my point being, an app should be able to open work you’ve created in another application to get you going - even if it’s just plain text. Admittedly I wasn’t thinking of Scrivener users in articular when I wrote that review but screenwriters in general, most of whom use Final Draft or some derivative. I just think it wouldn’t have taken much for them to have incorporated a robust Plain Text import feature or the “industry standard” Final Draft .fdx format just to let users start from where they left off (if they didn’t previously use .fountain or Scrivener that is, of course. :wink:).

Thanks for taking the time to read it though and to feedback. I appreciate it.

All the best,


There’s an app called Highland which can convert between different script formats. I suspect that’s what many SlugLine writers will use to go back and forth. It can even convert PDF files, which is a pretty good trick.

I would add that you can also use external folder sync in Scrivener to work with .fountain files if you really want to.

What interests me most about Slugline (I downloaded it yesterday) is that I think it points in a good direction for our iOS screenwriting mode. We’ve been thinking of using .fountain as the internal basis for our iOS screenwriting mode, and Slugline is an interesting way of editing Fountain files.

All the best,

I’ve taken a much different approach, lately, to my screenwriting. I’m normally a “keep my notes in Scrivener” and “write the script in Final Draft” kinda guy, but recently that’s changed. I’m writing a new script with a writing partner. He does most of his writing on his iPad with an external keyboard. Suddenly, that’s made sharing notes, and .fdx files kind of a bitch.

So, we’ve recently started writing the script in fountain and notes in markdown*, just so everything is transferrable across any platform we need. When Slugline came out, I picked it up and was immediately in love with it. For me, it outlines perfectly, just the way I do on paper. And I love being able to set it up quickly to outline, then just write inside the outline. Save it to a shared dropbox folder and my partner just pops it open in Writing Kit and keeps right on going. When we’re done, just pop it into Highland and do the final formatting in Final Draft.

Sure, I could do the same in a bunch of other programs, but this one just feels quick and easy, for me. I never thought I would have to worry about mobile writing, but it’s really been an interesting challenge and Slugline has filled the role of dedicated fountain writer.

And…I just like it. It’s a nice program.

  • We use Ulysses III for the notes. Not quiet as elegant and still has some issues with external sources, but it works well enough.

** I spoke too soon about Ulysses III. We had to scrap it because of how poorly it deals with external sources. Every time you start up the software you have to manually reconnect to any Dropbox folders.

Side Note: I found that writing in fountain also stops you from worrying nearly as much about all the stupid little formatting rules (which, as well all know, aren’t so much rules as “guidelines.”) At least that’s the way it’s been for me. Even on a first draft I was always just as focused on formatting as I was on writing. Not anymore. Now I write and worry about all the other crap later.

It’s quite liberating, actually. :smiley: