Format A Plain Text Script For Scrivener In Seconds

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You know the situation. You have a screenplay in plain text format but what you really need is the screenplay format to work with in Scrivener.

If you’re only working with one scene, manual reformatting isn’t that much of a problem. But imagine defining the screenplay elements (character, dialogue, …) for a whole script! Your time is better spent writing.

If you are working with Final Draft this is not really a problem. You can import *.txt files as a script and it usually works pretty good.

Import txt file as script in Final Draft - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Import txt file as script in Final Draft
Final Draft import txt file as script result - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Final Draft import txt file as script result

But if you do the same in Scrivener it doesn’t give you a satisfying result. As you can see here it messes with your dialogue.

Messed up dialogue in Scrivener after txt import - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Messed up dialogue in Scrivener after txt import

But there is a quick and easy solution for this, without the need of extra software. Scrivener is able to handle fountain files. Fountain is a plain text markup language for screenwriting.

You can read more about what fountain is and how it can help you in the screenwriting process here.

But for now, it’s enough for you to know that it exists and that Scrivener can handle the format.

Let’s say you have a screenplay formatted like this:

txt script file in ScrivenerConvert plain text to script format in Scrivener
txt script file in Scrivener

But what you really want (without manual reformatting) is this:

Scrivener script format - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Scrivener script format

This is how it works.

Export the script from Scrivener as a *.txt file. (Don’t export it as fountain here or it will mess include extra empty lines where you don’t want them. Exporting in fountain is useful if you already have a formatted script). If you already have a *.txt file to begin with you can skip this step.

Export script as txt file - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Export script as txt file

In the finder, go to your exported *.txt file and rename it to *.fountain.

Rename txt file to fountain - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Rename txt file to fountain

When this dialog box pops up, choose “Use .fountain”.

Click "Use Fountain" - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Click “Use Fountain”

Now you have two options:

1. Drag the file into your scrivener project.

Drag the file into your Scrivener project - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Drag the file into your Scrivener project

2. Import the file into Scrivener via the >File>Import function.

Import file back into Scrivener - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
Import file back into Scrivener

What you get is a nicely formatted script with all the elements in the right places. And it only takes you seconds to do that.

Scrivener script format - Convert plain text to script format in Scrivener
End result after import

 

Did that work for you? What kind of reformatting issues do you have? Are you working with fountain files?

Drop me a line here. I’m curious…

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Bela!

    Is it possible to number scenes in .fountain? Have you ever found a way to do it? I’m using Scrivener and Highland.

    Thank you very much

  2. Thank you again, Bela. It works fine; but i’m afraid that my question was not clear enough.
    What I was looking for was a sort of auto-numbering feature, like the numbered list in word processors, which adds numbers after setting the first one every time you write down a new scene.
    Maybe .fountain based softwares cannot manage that.

    My compliments for your site!

    GUILLERMO

  3. Thanks, Guillermo,

    I misunderstood you there. Sorry for that. I haven’t found a way to do automatic scene numbering in Highland. I guess since fountain is based on plaintext this is one of the limitations that you have to accept. Or maybe it will be included in a future update of Highland.

    What you could do though if you just want to count your scenes real quickly is import the fountain script into Fade In (you can download a free trial that can do pretty much everything from http://www.fadeinpro.com). Fade In has (automatic) scene numbering.

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