Fade In Screenwriting Software Wishlist

Fade In LogoI spend a lot of time fretting about the tools I use for writing, never quite content with any one tool. Mostly I use Scrivener for all projects, then exporting to Final Draft for completed first draft screenplays. Scrivener works very well with FD8, which is incredibly important. Final Draft 9 is likely to drop any week now, but I keep looking back at other options. CeltX doesn’t play nicely with Final Draft, which is a deal-breaker for me. Adobe Story is still tempting to me, but the free version has no offline option (I write on the move more often than not) and the paid option is a monthly subscription which will quickly eclipse the cost of even Final Draft. And then there’s Fade In Pro. A mere $50, a responsive development team and frequent updates. But, it’s not quite 100% there yet, I’m not quite ready to jump. So, I created this wishlist for Fade In:

  • Index Cards: Being able to directly edit the index card contents, without a keyboard shortcut, would help a lot, as would easier organising, and formatting of the cards. Scrivener does this very well.
  • Reports and outlining options.
  • Scrivener Import:

Fade In ImportOne of the strengths of Fade In is the extensive list of import and export options. However Scrivener projects tend to laid out in multi-level structures, one ‘file’ per scene perhaps. However, Fade In only imports one file at a time, so I have to export a Scrivener project as an FDX and then import that, rather than the Scrivener project.

 

  • Meta Data:

Adobe Story's scene meta-data

Oh please, bring me the meta data! Adobe Story does excellent scene meta-data, I’d love to see something more like that. Running time, both calculated and manually adjusted, time of day, story day, shooting information etc. Also, there’s already a character and location database, but why not have those link to character/location profiles? Similarly project meta-data, like synopses, loglines and pitches; it’d be hugely advantageous to have those all in one file, rather than store those separately in Scrivener or Word files.

Link: Vertigo Comics Scrivener Template

Scrivener is great for writing comics, but every comics company or imprint seems to have its own standard layout for comic scripts, similarly to how every TV show and production company has its own screenplay format. To help, Sean E. Williams, co-creator of Artful Daggers and writer of Fairest #15-20, has shared his template for writing Vertigo Comics.

Vertigo Comics Scrivener Template

Final Draft 9

Final Draft Logo

Final Draft is the venerable, respected, industry standard script writing software. It’s getting a little dated now though, version 8 was released in 2009 and was last updated to version 8.03 in 2011. Since then we have had a press release in 2010 telling us that Final Draft 9 was imminent and that it would be rolled out together with Final Draft Connect. The latter was to be their cloud-based integrated collaboration tool, a very useful feature and which would have looked innovative in 2010, rather than following in the footsteps of CeltX, its pseudo-open source rival. Instead we’ve had a launch of Final Draft’s iPad apps, the Reader and the Writer, to mixed reviews.

This just in! Final Draft 9 to be released in 2014. More details at that link.

It could well be though that version 9 is finally imminent, judging from this message on the official Facebook page:

Final Draft Facebook May

 

 

So there you go: not before July, but definitely in 2013. Furthermore, Final Draft 8 is on sale for $50 off until the end of September 2013, pointing at an Autumn 2013 release for Final Draft 9.

From updates elsewhere, Final Draft 9 will include Full Screen and Retina support for the Mac, and Ribbon support for Windows, as well as Final Draft Connect cloud features. Also, the FDX file format will be updated to FDX v2, which will apparently be backwards compatible. Hopefully they’ll also include some of the slick features of the excellent Fade In, such as their extensive, if inconsistent and error-prone, import options:

Fade In Import

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of some interest to me would be if FD9 were to implement some of the wonderful cross-media planning features of Scrivener, or the excellent scene meta-data features of Adobe Story, both features that are apparently present in the beta of Final Draft 9. Loglines, scene meta-data, a character arc tracker, synopses, all of these things are due to be a part of the new, and backwards compatible, FDX file format.

Personally, I do all of my planning, plotting and writing of ‘draft zero’ in Scrivener, regardless of whether it’s prose or screenplay or a comic script. But screenplay formats need to be that much tighter if they’re to be sent out to anyone else, so I export the draft script from Scrivener as an FDX, import it into Final Draft 8 and let it correct and verify the format. The page counts are generally pretty close though, as I use Courier Final Draft as my font for all scripts across all software.

Update 25th September 2013: Added Beta details from alt.screenwriters.

Update 6th February 2014: Since Final Draft 9 was released on the 6th of January, I did a side-by-side comparison between FD9 and Fade In Pro.

Scrivener and Dropbox

I have two important tools that I use for writing, setting aside an internet connection, Spotify and Twitter. The first of these is Scrivener, software for writing and structuring writing, which allows me to easily break up and structure writing, as well as keeping details of background, characters, locations, loglines, pitches etc. It also has a pretty good scriptwriting mode for the writing of dramatic scripts.

The other tool I use is Dropbox, which not only backs up my documents to the cloud, it also keeps my myriad of computers in sync. This enables me to close an active Scrivener project on my home computer, open either my work or personal laptop and carry on working, nigh seamlessly.

However, as I discovered this morning, it is very important indeed to close the active Scrivener project and allow the sync to complete before re-opening the project elsewhere! In the past I’ve had minor inconveniences where I hadn’t closed down properly and Scrivener informed me the project was already open elsewhere. This was annoying if I wasn’t anywhere near the offending computer, but at least it was manageable due to Scrivener warning me of the problem.

However, sometimes the original computer doesn’t successfully sync, perhaps due to an unplanned shutdown or system crash. Since Scrivener is then not actively open on the original computer, it is then tempting to ignore the warnings on the second computer and re-open the project and sync changes back to Dropbox. When, however, the same project is re-opened on the original computer Dropbox isn’t sure which is the correct version and, in an attempt to avoid overwriting unsynced changes, saves copies of the files with the text ([computer name]’s conflicted copy [date]) appended to the filename.

Unfortunately, these conflicted copies can break Scrivener projects, which relies on files being in the right place. Scattered conflicted copies makes Scrivener think something is wrong and it refuses to load the project, claiming the project file can’t be found.

If you don’t have a recent full backup, here’s the way to correct this: Delete every conflicted copy. In some cases, if you have made different changes on different computers, you might have to decide which version of a file to keep in the Files/Docs subfolder, but other than that there should be no files named ‘conflicted copy’ remaining. You may find, if you have moved documents in the structure, that you have to re-move them, but that’s a tiny inconvenience, all your work is retained and nothing is lost. Once all the conflicted copies are deleted, you should find that Scrivener can load the project without problems

Scrivener 1.0 for Windows Released

At last, writer’s tool Scrivener is out of beta for Windows environments, as announced yesterday by developer Literature and Latte. I’ve been using the beta for some time now and have found it an invaluable tool for the writing, planning and organising of stories. While it’s mainly geared towards prose, it is perfectly well suited to other forms of writing, providing templates for comics, stage and film scripts; it’s no Final Draft, but it works pretty well as an interim tool for those people unable or unwilling to pay the high costs for that professional scriptwriting tool. But while Final Draft is without peer when it comes to scripts, it has no features for the tracking, writing and plotting of novels or short stories. This is where Scrivener excels. And at last it’s no longer available solely for the Mac.

In addition to the Windows release, Scrivener is also available for Linux, which suits me well as most of my writing is done on my trusty netbook which runs Linux Mint, and all versions of Scrivener are compatible with each other.

(Note: This is not an advert of any kind, and I’m not affiliated with Literature and Latte, I just really like the software)