Tweaking formatting on imported text

I have a stage play imported into Scrivener from Movie Magic Screenwriter. I imported it into US Stage Play.

My problem is that the spacing between character name and dialogue is wrong*, as is the spacing between dialogue and action. I tried using ‘convert formatting to default text style’ but that doesn’t produce the desired result.

I have read that some users of Scrivener have produced custom formats for their stage plays. Is there a way I can customise this imported text to look the way I want it to look?

*‘wrong’ means it will either show me double space or no space, whereas I want single space. And what’s really bizarre is that if I try to remove one space of the double spacing between a line of dialogue and a line of action, it punishes me by encasing the dialogue in parenthesis which don’t go away if I add the spacing back in.

Given the inconsistency, it sounds like you might have some linefeeds in your document, as well as the more traditional paragraph breaks. I would turn on invisibles (Format/Options) and check around the lines that are coming up double-spaced vs. those that follow the standard of no space. Linefeeds, or line breaks, look like an arrow pointing down and toward the left. Paragraph breaks (what you should see everywhere) look like the paragraph (pilcrow) symbol.

As for adjusting what a script settings look like, you can do all of that in the Format/Scriptwriting/Script Settings... window. You’d probably want to click on “Character” in that, activate the “Paragraph” tab, and set Spacing to 2. I’m not quite sure if that is what you mean though. That will insert an empty line between the character name and the dialogue—what I myself would refer to as double-spacing. Maybe by “no space” you mean something else entirely—like the lines are overlapping each other?

Many thanks for your suggestions, much appreciated.

I looked at the invisibles and saw nothing but pilcrows. No linefeeds anywhere. So I had a go at adjusting the script settings, and that was disastrous. I thought I’d got everything changed correctly but have made it worse, and the damage can’t be undone. Very disheartening. I have spent more time trying to tweak the format than actually writing, and am further back, not further forward. What do you think – cut my losses and simply write it all in Final Draft?

PS You’re quite right; by ‘no space’ I meant ‘single space’.

You should be able to step back to a prior backup, before changing the script settings. Go to the “Backup” tab in preferences and click the “Open backup folder…” button. Now here you should find the last five versions of your project (probably zip compressed). Just copy drag (hold down Option) those out to the Desktop, and unzip them all to find the one that pre-dates the script settings change. It’s a good idea to manually back up a project directly for making a global change to it like script formatting, and project replace—that way you know for certain there is a solid up-to-date backup. Relying on automatics can be risky if you don’t know when the last one was triggered. To do that, use File/Back Up/Back Up To.... This will ask you for a location to save a duplicate copy of the project in its current state. Now you can safely experiment without harming the original. If you need help on using backups, check §7.8 “Backing Up Your Work” in the user manual PDF—and in particular, on restoring from backups, in §7.8.4 (pg. 67).

I’m sorry that you’re still having problems but it’s hard for me to say what they are when all I know is that. Perhaps if you could send me a copy of the project and the original script you were trying to import, that would help.

Alternatively, since it sounds like you do have a copy of Final Draft, you might get the MMS file to it, save as FDX and then drop the FDX into Scrivener (in fact if you use the File/Import/Import & Split... menu command, the program will offer to automatically cut the binder input up by scene). In general the FDX ↔ Scrivener route is much better than MMS because there is real format support rather than a sketchy conversion process via plain-text.

Many thanks for this. I did eventually find a workaround, or rather my husband did. He noticed that where I was unable to bend the formatting to my will, Scriv had coded the elements differently to what I intended. Specifically, stage directions had been coded on import as dialogue, and vice versa. So I went through each affected scene and changed the formatting. Tedious, I know, but it worked.

So, job done. I really appreciated your offer of sending you the affected scenes, and I’m glad I won’t have to trouble you with that now. As for using FD and MMS, I only ever get MMS out when I’m writing a stage play as FD is not interested in supporting stage play writers; you can’t start a new scene on a new page in FD, for example, or at least you couldn’t last time I checked. But in truth I hate them both when compared to Scriv. The only reason I was in this mess in the first place is because I started writing the stage play in MMS, afraid the stage play format in Scriv wouldn’t compile properly. After writing a few scenes I realised I missed Scriv’s features too much. Hence this changing horses malarkey. Here’s hoping the compile is smooth and easy…!

Again, I do appreciate your help. Many thanks.

Yeah, that’s the slow but sure way of doing it. Sorry it took so much work to get the script in. Theoretically, a faster way is to use Format/Scriptwriting/Script Settings... to get all of the element formatting settings matching the document you are importing. The settings in that window are what Scrivener uses to recognise elements—purely on their formatting. So if the formatting is set up to anticipate every detail of the imported script, in theory it should result in zero extra work from you. But sometimes it’s easier to just plough through like you did, especially if the imported document isn’t consistent or there are several different script styles coming in that need to be adapted and so forth.

As for compiling—you should be okay. You may have noticed we even have a US Stage Play official starter project template, as well as of course the script format itself as a selection in the Format/Scriptwriting/ sub-menu. You should be able to compile an industry standard script at the end of the process. If you started with that project template you may not even have to do anything special at all.

Anyway, you’re welcome!