Simplenote for writing screenplays

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  • Simplenote for writing screenplays

    Okay, ComicBent got me looking at the Fountain syntax again. And Evernote's recent changes got me looking at Simplenote. And the two together appear to make an excellent screenplay writing combination. Fountain syntax reference is available at: http://fountain.io/syntax#section-overview

    Simplenote is a plain-text, note taking application that runs under Windows (version 7+), Mac, Linux (64 bit), Android, iOS, Kindle Fire and on the Web. It offers nearly instant synchronization between devices -- and sharing (collaboration) between writers. (Just add your partners email address as a tag -- the one he/she uses for Simplenote -- and synchronization is almost instant. You could open a separate note just for chatting, it's that fast.) Notes can be sorted by tags and searching is extremely fast. You can also post notes directly to the web (and supply a link). Simplenote notes are encrypted when synchronized. And Simplenote keeps backup version of your notes so that you can "slide" back to an earlier version if necessary. (In the Windows and Android version it also has a nice Dark Theme -- "night mode" -- that is not available in the web version -- but I imagine it's available for Linux, Kindle Fire, Mac and iOS also.) https://simplenote.com/ But mostly it's a great way to write in Fountain format, and then cut and paste into a formatter of your choice. I've been using it in conjunction with both YouMeScript and Afterwriting.

    I've mentioned YouMeScript in another thread. Notes pasted from Simplenote in Fountain Format are displayed in screenplay format. From there they can be downloaded (exported) as a Fountain file, Final Draft .fdx file or plain text. (Soon you should be able to export to PDF.) They can also be saved to Google Drive.

    Afterwriting (www.afterwriting.com) is specifically designed for writing in Fountain format. It has its own Editor (to where I've been pasting from Simplenote), but it also formats to PDF and allows PDF or Fountain downloads. Files can also be saved to DropBox or Google Drive -- and, once you've synchronized it to your online storage, auto-save can be set up. It can read Fountain and Final Draft (.fdx) files. It also has breakdown reports, and (what the author calls) "useless stats." It also has Night Mode. And, although I see no way to collaborate with it, you can download Afterwriting and use it offline (via your browser). You can even watermark your PDF file if you want. You can also print directly from Afterwriting.

    So, anyhow, more free ways to write screenplays. No way -- yet -- to produce formatted text files for posting in Done Deal, so I still need Trelby for that (at least), but it's always nice to have new options.

    One thing I meant to mention -- at least in the Windows version of Simplenote, there doesn't appear to be a spell checker. The Android version has it --and the online version uses your Browser spell checker. But none in Simplenote for Windows (at least not in Windows 7).
    Last edited by Centos; 07-30-2016, 02:01 AM.
    STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

  • #2
    Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

    I downloaded Simplenote about two weeks ago but (for various reasons) have not installed it yet. Here is why I downloaded it.

    I use a wonderful note-taking program (for Windows only, unfortunately) called CintaNotes, which is an application based on SQLite, a database. I have been using Dropbox to house the database, so that I could take notes on any of my computers and have them go to the same database. I was also using Dropbox for the usual purposes.

    About a month ago, Dropbox stopped working on my desktop computer. I went to the Internet and found that many people have this problem, or something similar, and no solution seems to be reliable. Dropbox still works on my laptops.

    Anyhoo ... CintaNotes will also sync through Simplenote if you have the commercial version of CintaNotes, which I do. (By the way, the free version is fantastic, and I bought the lifetime commercial version a couple of years ago mainly because I wanted to support the program, not because I was going to use the additional features.)

    Yesterday I made a ten-hour-long abortive attempt to install Windows 10 on the last day of its "free" status. I waited until the last day because I did not intend to upgrade. However, I thought that a clean install of Windows, in the form of Windows 10, might fix the Dropbox issue, which has become a real problem for me. But for about ten hours I watched spinners turning with messages like "Please wait ... This will take a few minutes." And I have been using computers for thirty years and know what I am doing. It may be that all the Microsoft servers were overwhelmed by last-minute people like me.

    So now I am moving to Simplenote for syncing my CintaNotes database. For my other Dropbox needs, well, I do not know yet.

    Back on topic ...

    I am glad that Centos is taking a closer look at Fountain.

    I am planning to use Scrivener now for my writing, and I created a Fountain template for it, which is very simple. It just uses a pre-set paragraph style that is just like what you get with a text editor. You capitalize everything yourself and hit ENTER just as you do when you post something on this board (word wrap is on).

    You can include notes and synopses with the appropriate codes.

    You can then import your Fountain text into whatever program you like.

    "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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    • #3
      Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

      Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
      I am planning to use Scrivener now for my writing, and I created a Fountain template for it, which is very simple.
      I think I'm going to start using my Alphasmart Neo for most of my writing. It gets me away from the computer and its distractions. Since I can use the Fountain Markup, it really doesn't matter where I type my scripts. Neos are really a good, cheap writing machine -- now about $27 on eBay ...

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEO-AlphaSma...6hAl6wGLaIlkFw

      They work on 3 AA batteries and last about a year on those. No backlight, so I might have to get a clamp-on light for it if I want to use it in the dark. Just hook it up to a USB cable and send the file into Simplenote or directly into Afterwriting. Pretty smooth.

      I notice the Windows version of Scrivener is now down to $40 -- Mac version is at $45 -- but there are discounts for students and, if you have the Mac or Windows version, you buy the other for $15 off.

      If they had a Linux version I might be tempted to give them a try -- though the complexity of it kind of hurts my head.
      STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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      • #4
        Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

        Hmm, I checked the Internet, and apparently Scrivener dumped its Linux version (which was in beta) back in January.

        But, curiously, the newest update, from two weeks ago, clearly says Scrivener for Windows & Linux in the <Help< window.

        Anyway ...

        "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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        • #5
          Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

          Don't put all your megs in one dropbox - as my old yogi used to say.
          Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
          "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

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          • #6
            Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

            Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
            Hmm, I checked the Internet, and apparently Scrivener dumped its Linux version (which was in beta) back in January.
            Apparently they have given up on it. But they are allowing Linux users to download and use the two (now) non-expiring beta versions ... 1.9.0.1 and/or 1.7.2.4.

            So I've got 1.9.0.1 downloaded and installed -- but, to be honest, I have no clue where to start and a 300 plus page manual to read. It's like looking at the blinking lights of the original Star Ship Enterprise and being told to flick the right switch to track a Klingon vessel while simultaneously putting the coffee on to boil.

            I'll take a closer look at it, but this seems like a lot of work. Since so many people seem to love Scrivener -- I'm just curious, what's the attraction? What should I be seeing other than the blinking lights?
            STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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            • #7
              Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

              Centos,

              I understand your reaction to Scrivener. It is intimidating.

              You asked, "What is the attraction?" If the Linux version includes the tutorial, you need to go through the tutorial, and go through it slowly, just to get a sense of everything that you can do with Scrivener. Do not try to learn everything as you go — you cannot learn it all on one pass. You can only get a sense of the possibilities. But you will not feel quite so lost after you go through it.

              There is a long version of the tutorial, and a short version. I went through the long version, and I spent about three days doing it. However, I am essentially stupid. Some people may go through it in three or four hours. It might be better to do the short version of the tutorial to avoid being overwhelmed. I do not know.

              What you will find out is something like this: Scrivener has three areas where you work or store things.

              (1) The Binder. It is located at the left. This is a lot like a file tree with folders and subfolders and files. You can add folders and files, and rename them. There is also a Research folder and a Trash folder.

              (2) The Edit area in the middle. Lots of things go on here, including your typical writing and editing. You can also make this area show a corkboard with index cards on it.

              (3) The Inspector is at the right. It is probably not open until you click on the "i" icon. You can do various things here, like synopses and notes. It is a complex area. However, as with most features of Scrivener, you do not have to use it.

              Scrivener is something that you gradually learn to use. Fortunately, you do not have to master the program to start using it.

              You can do many neat things with Scrivener. For example, let's suppose that you have the manuscript of a story or novel that you are using to write a screenplay. You can put some tags like ### at the end of chapters, and when you import the novel, Scrivener will put it into a folder and break the manuscript up into individual sections, in individual files, like scenes in a screenplay.

              Then you can split your editing screen into two parts, with the novel in, say, the upper portion and your blank screen (for the screenplay) in the lower half. You can select a chapter in the novel by clicking on its chapter name in the Binder.

              You can keep all kinds of resources available in the Binder in the Research folder. Maybe you are writing a novel or a screenplay that depends on some historical research. You can access this material by using the files in the Research folder, or you can keep links to outside files or things on the Internet.

              (I am doing all of this from memory, and I really have just started learning Scrivener, so I apologize for any mistakes that I make.)

              Of course, you can prepare notes and synopses and put them into the Inspector at the right side of the screen. You can also tag things with metadata over in the Inspector, but all of that is still just blinking lights on the Star Ship Enterprise for me, too, since I am still a novice.

              Finally, I intend to order the For Dummies book on Scrivener. It is several years old and is mainly for the Mac version, but it will show you what the program does. The Dummies book is Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez; it is available through Amazon and through Abe Books.

              Crayon,

              No, I did not put all my megs into Dropbox. I have been using computers for thirty years.

              "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                You asked, "What is the attraction?" If the Linux version includes the tutorial, you need to go through the tutorial, and go through it slowly, just to get a sense of everything that you can do with Scrivener. Do not try to learn everything as you go — you cannot learn it all on one pass. You can only get a sense of the possibilities. But you will not feel quite so lost after you go through it.

                There is a long version of the tutorial, and a short version. I went through the long version, and I spent about three days doing it. However, I am essentially stupid. Some people may go through it in three or four hours. It might be better to do the short version of the tutorial to avoid being overwhelmed. I do not know.
                I don't know if the tutorial is included with the Linux version or not -- I'm guessing it might be as (I think) this is basically Scrivener for Windows 1.9.0, but compiled for Linux. I did watch some videos on YouTube (there's a lot of them) so I think I get the basic gist now of the three sections. Still can't quite figure out how to type in screenplay format -- but I'm guessing it's kind of like a screenplay macro for Word. My main issue is that I could use Evernote (or Simplenote) for outlining and research and just type in Trelby or (in Fountain format) just about anywhere. Scrivener might be too much of a tool for me. But I do see a lot of people like Scrivener -- so I'll look for the tutorials and put at least some effort into learning it. Thanks.

                As for the older Scrivener Dummies book, it looks like the basic functions of Scrivener haven't changed much over the years -- it's just that they've added more features as they've gone. I might look at the Dummies book also -- but sometimes those books detail the obvious so much that they're tedious to read.
                STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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                • #9
                  Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                  Centos,

                  Do not talk yourself out of trying this fantastic program.

                  Here is the deal about the screenplay format. You have two ways to do this.

                  (1) Create a Scrivener project with the Screenplay Template.

                  File > New Project
                  Select Scriptwriting > Screenplay

                  Your Edit window will have a little pop-up down in the lower right that lists the various Elements, like Action, Character, etc. You can use it to override whatever element/style is current in your document.

                  If you have just typed some Dialogue, and you hit Enter, the program automatically selects Action (just like most screenwriting programs). If you want some more talking, you hit Tab, and the Action element changes to Character name. When you type the speaker's name and hit Enter, the next style is automatically Dialogue.

                  It is all just like a screenwriting program.

                  (2) You can switch to Screenwriting mode.

                  This is a really neat feature. If you are, say, writing a novel or a treatment, and you suddenly have an inspiration to do a scene, you can switch to Screenplay mode within that same file - or you can click the <+< at the top left to create a new file in the Binder, and then switch to Screenplay mode.

                  You change to Screenplay mode in two ways: The easiest is to use Ctrl+4. You can also use Format > Screenwriting > Screenplay. You can literally switch to Screenplay format right in the middle of a chapter that is not a screenplay. The switch is a toggle - you have to switch out of it when you are finished.

                  OTHER ISSUES

                  At the top left, just left of the Italic, Underline, Bold icons, you will see some things that relate to line spacing and presets. I find these to be a little cumbersome, but they are really all right once you get used to them. I will not even try to explain them. I will tell you that as you work with them to create some formats to apply to individual paragraphs, it will look like you are collecting a whole long list of formats, some of which were not right, so you tried something else, and after a while you have a lot of these. However, my recollection is that these unneeded formats disappear after you close the project and reopen it. Creating presets is something that I have done in a couple of templates that I created, but I do not remember all the steps. It is something that you will grasp as you work with it.

                  Try Scrivener, and do not expect to understand everything right away. Just keep working with it.

                  "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                    Okay, thanks ComicBent,

                    Company is coming so I really haven't had much time to test Scrivener but your advice got me to the actual screenplay "mode." What I was doing wrong before was opening new text documents under the Screenplay folder rather than under the Scenes folder. Once I opened a new scene (using CTRL-N) in the Scene folder it automatically opened in screenplay "mode." (I don't think "mode" is the right term, which is why I put it in quotes.)

                    CTRL+4 works well to toggle between the two "modes." Not that I -- for my uses -- would probably need that feature, but I'll explore it a little more (there's probably something I'm missing).

                    I tried "compiling" a few scenes to various formats. Exporting to .fdx format imports well in Trelby, but in Fade In: a one page "script" gets mangled. It shows the scenes, but I can't find the actual text -- and one page expands to 12 pages? But .rtf format works well (as you mentioned) so, if I used Fade In:, I would just compile to .rtf.

                    I'm going to continue playing with Scrivener -- I still think it's probably overkill for me. I'm not a professional or aspiring screenplay writer and about the only thing I do with my scripts (or snippets) is post them on Done Deal, so my needs are not very extensive. But I'm beginning to understand the attraction. The price is certainly reasonable for what you get.

                    I will say, that I'm not really fond of working on "chunks" (scenes) instead of a full document -- and it seems like the Scrivener way of doing things requires too much using of the mouse. For example, when I hit CTRL+N, I'm prompted to name the new scene. I do so, hit ENTER and, instead of going into my scene so I can start editing, the cursor just kind of disappears until I mouse click on the editing pane. It would be nice if it just went directly to the new scene (maybe this can be customized?).

                    It would be nice if Scrivener would allow a "chunk" of several scenes -- instead treating each scene as a document. I would like to be able to type ext. and start another scene like they do in other screenplay formatters. (EDIT: Actually this "feature" is not so much a "nit" for me. It's kind of a pain to write a short two paragraph scene and have to treat that as a separate document.)

                    These are kind of nits. I can see that -- if I was writing a full novel or screenplay -- having the ability to place everything in one place could be useful.

                    As I said, I'll keep trying it out.

                    EDIT 2: I see you can force a new scene into a "chunk" by clicking on the element "chooser" in the bottom right corner. Again, it would be nice if you could use CTRL+S instead of having to use the mouse. But at least it's better than not having that choice at all.
                    Last edited by Centos; 07-31-2016, 08:19 PM.
                    STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                      Centos,

                      Your description of exporting and importing was confusing to me, but I think that you were saying that this does not work:
                      Scrivener --> (exported to) .fdx --> (imported into) Fade In
                      I do not remember whether I have done an export to .fdx from within Scrivener. I will try an experiment to see if your problem occurs when I try the process.

                      However, .fdx created in Final Draft imports perfectly into Fade In. I have done that countless times.

                      I will report back.

                      UPDATE:

                      (1) Yeah, you are right about the process of:
                      Scrivener --> .fdx --> import into Fade In.

                      Somehow the Scrivener-produced .fdx does not work with Fade In. However, I also observed that if you open the .fdx in Final Draft, save it from within Final Draft, and then import the .fdx into Fade In, everything is perfect.

                      I will report this issue to Kent Tessman (the programmer) about Fade In. I do not know if he will want to address it, since .fdx files are expected to come from Final Draft and Fade In has no problems with those files.

                      (2) I tested the ability of Fade In to import the Scrivener .scrivx file, and it worked perfectly. That is really what you ought to do anyway: just import the .scrivx file directly.

                      Thanks for the information on that.
                      Last edited by ComicBent; 07-31-2016, 10:40 PM.

                      "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                        Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                        UPDATE:

                        (1) Yeah, you are right about the process of:
                        Scrivener --> .fdx --> import into Fade In.
                        Somehow the Scrivener-produced .fdx does not work with Fade In. However, I also observed that if you open the .fdx in Final Draft, save it from within Final Draft, and then import the .fdx into Fade In, everything is perfect.
                        I had the same experience when exporting to .fdx from Trelby. That file imported fine into Fade In or Scrivener.

                        Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                        I will report this issue to Kent Tessman (the programmer) about Fade In. I do not know if he will want to address it, since .fdx files are expected to come from Final Draft and Fade In has no problems with those files.

                        (2) I tested the ability of Fade In to import the Scrivener .scrivx file, and it worked perfectly. That is really what you ought to do anyway: just import the .scrivx file directly.

                        Thanks for the information on that.
                        Probably won't be a high priority issue for Mr. Tessman. As you say, reading the .scrivx files directly works flawlessly. The only problem is that it will only allow you to import one "document" (scene) at a time (at least that's been the case in my limited experience). So, if I was going to import a whole script into Fade In from Scrivener, I would probably compile it as .rtf -- as imports from .rtf seemed to work very well also.
                        Last edited by Centos; 07-31-2016, 11:29 PM.
                        STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                          The only problem is that it will only allow you to import one "document" (scene) at a time (at least that's been the case in my limited experience). So, if I was going to import a whole script into Fade In from Scrivener, I would probably compile it as .rtf -- as imports from .rtf seemed to work very well also.
                          You appear to be correct, Centos.

                          I cannot get Scivener to compile individual scenes into one big screenplay in .scrivx format.

                          I thought that doing it from "scrivenings" mode (all the scenes put together) might do it - but nope, it does not.

                          Curiously, it compiles everything into one long .rtf file just fine, as you said. So we can use .rtf. I still wonder if we are doing something wrong.

                          "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                            Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                            Curiously, it compiles everything into one long .rtf file just fine, as you said. So we can use .rtf. I still wonder if we are doing something wrong.
                            I definitely wouldn't doubt that I'm doing something wrong. My ignorance of Scrivener is pretty much complete. But it's really not a huge deal either way. Compiling to .fdx works (with the Fade In exception that I'm guessing will be fixed soon) and compiling to .rtf works fine in all tests I've run. And I'm guessing most people don't worry so much about all this anyhow. Most people who use Scrivener probably compile to PDF or .fdx (and import the latter into Final Draft).

                            I don't know if I'll use Scrivener for screenplay writing (at least until I really write a full length screenplay), but I've had an idea to compile some of my short stories into a self-published eBook and Scrivener looks like it would be ideal for that. If I actually use Scrivener for more than testing, I'll probably just buy a Windows license. That's what some of the Linux users suggest doing on Scrivener's forum. It seems fair.
                            STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Simplenote for writing screenplays

                              Centos,

                              About making an ebook ...

                              I love fiddling with ebook creation. I have worked with that a lot.

                              You know that I am enthusiastic about Scrivener. But the formatting abilities of Scrivener are not up to those of word processors or those of desktop publishing programs.

                              Let me advise you of the very best way to create ebooks, and I am including Scrivener in this process only because of its enormous power as a way to organize your writing (once you get past the steep learning curve). Except for the Scrivener involvement, here is what I have been doing for years.

                              (1) Use Scrivener to write your manuscript.

                              (2) Export to .rtf or .docx. I exported from Scrivener to .docx just now, and it worked fine in the following step.

                              (3) Use Atlantis word processor (see at end of these steps) to import your .rtf or .docx file.

                              (4) Atlantis is a Word-like program. It is a lot like Word was in the XP days. With Atlantis you can create a template with a few styles that will cover everything that you need.

                              (5) Apply your styles to your manuscript. Because in a short story or a novel virtually all the paragraphs are the same (a first-line indent), you can apply that style to everything, and then very quickly apply any other styles to the other paragraphs.

                              (6) Use Atlantis to save the manuscript as an ebook. You will get an .epub, and you can easily add a .mobi. The .epub code that you get from Atlantis is efficient and readable. It is easy to tweak it if you need to.

                              That is an overview, and it is pretty complete.

                              I recommend that you check the epub with the free Sigil. You can run the final result through the free Calibre. For creating formats other than .epub, I advise using Calibre, which does good conversions.

                              About Atlantis ... It costs only $35. It is great. It has a free trial. It is Windows only, though some people run it under Wine. Sigil and Calibre are available in Linux.

                              "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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