Bells and Whistles

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  • Bells and Whistles

    Throughout the years I have answered many questions here about problems that people have had with their screenwriting programs and with other software issues (e.g., file conversions and PDF creation).

    Many features of screenwriting programs are "bells and whistles" — advanced features that people do not use, either because these features are rarely needed or because people do not know about them.

    I thought that I would write two or three articles about some bells and whistles that people may not know about. I will focus on Fade In, but I may refer to similar things in Final Draft at the end of an article.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    A PDF version of this article (with graphics) is available on my website. It provides some nice illustrations of the steps that I can only describe in words here on the board. The PDF version is strictly about Fade In. The PDF file is not indexed. You have to type in this address to get it:


    http://www.rolandstroud.com/FadeIn/FadeInAltParags.pdf

    - - - - - - - - - -

    BELLS AND WHISTLES #1

    Alternate Paragraphs

    Those Problem Paragraphs; or
    "I Just Can’t Get It Right"


    We have all been in the position of not knowing exactly how to describe something or how to present some dialogue in the best manner. You know what you want to say, but you cannot express it with precision, or it sounds awkward.

    For convenience, let’s call this kind of text a «problem paragraph», and let’s name it Paragraph A.

    You tinker with the wording of A, and you come up with a different version, which is Paragraph B. You like some of B, but it is still not what you want. So maybe you create a Paragraph C. It is pretty good, but A and B also have some strong points.

    What do you do? You decide that you ought to continue your work and come back to the problem after you have more of your script finished. This is a wise decision, because later developments can provide insight into how you ought to handle earlier text.

    Can I Save My Golden Words?

    You want to save the different versions of a problem paragraph and decide about them later, maybe after you have a better sense of where you are going. So the question is: How can I conveniently save these paragraph versions?

    Through the years I have tried several approaches.

    I have kept a second file, which I used as a clipboard for unused materials.

    I have performed a cut-and-paste operation to move paragraphs into storage at the end of the current document.

    I have even left several versions in place in the current document, with the various paragraphs in brackets or commented out with C-style /*comment*/ codes.

    But none of these methods was entirely satisfactory. The presence of all that repetitive text on the page is really messy and distracting.

    'Fade In' to the Rescue!

    Fortunately, Fade In provides an excellent feature that lets you save your paragraph versions in a way that is not at all cumbersome. You create "alternate paragraphs" as you work.

    As always, an example explains best. I will keep the directions very simple, and I will only give two versions. In this case, the paragraph is dialogue, but you can have versions of any paragraph element, not just dialogue, and you can create more than two versions.

    Let’s suppose that I have a speech by MRS. SCALIA. Here is the original.

    Code:
                             MRS. SCALIA
               Don’t worry about that, dear. I’ve 
               known him my whole life. By the way, 
               we own the property where he has his 
               clinic. You just let me arrange things 
               for you. I’ll bet I can get you in to see 
               him tomorrow afternoon.
    I decide that this speech is too wordy. Also, I want to identify "him" as DR. OSWIN for greater clarity. And I want to delete the reference to who owns Dr. Oswin’s clinic, because later the heroine is going to see a sign at the clinic that identifies the corporate owner. In the context of everything happening, that sign raises a sense of mystery and threat. The story dynamics are better with no prior reference to clinic ownership. To create my alternate paragraph, I take the following steps.
    • I right-click the dialogue.
    • I see a pop-up menu that has an item Add > Alt. I choose Alt.
    • The paragraph is automatically selected. It is ready for editing. I am going to use a greenish-gray color for the font to show selection.
    Code:
                             MRS. SCALIA
               Don’t worry about that, dear. I’ve     ②
               known him my whole life. By the 
               way, we own the property where 
               he has his clinic. You just let me 
               arrange things for you. I’ll bet I 
               can get you in to see him tomorrow 
               afternoon.
    • A small gray circle with a number in it appears out to the right of the paragraph. That number corresponds to the number of paragraph versions available. The numbering scheme starts with 2, because I am about to create version 2 from the original version.
    • I edit the paragraph. I do not have to worry with saving anything. Any edits that I make are part of alternate 2.
    Although Fade In does not use highlight colors for alternate text, I am going to use colors for illustration purposes, so that the reader can better follow the changes that I am making. The material to be deleted is in red, and the material to be revised is in blue. My version 2 will include deletions or changes as marked with those colors in my original, presented here.
    Code:
                              MRS. SCALIA
               Don’t worry about that, dear. I’ve
               known him my whole life. By the 
               way, we own the property where 
               he has his clinic. You just let me 
               arrange things for you. I’ll bet I 
               can get you in to see him tomorrow 
               afternoon.
    So I make my changes to the original paragraph and end up with the following for my alternate 2. The deleted text is gone, but the revised text is in blue.

    Code:
                              MRS. SCALIA
               Don’t worry about that, dear. I’ve
               known Dr. Oswin my whole life. You 
               just let me arrange things for you. 
               I’ll bet I can get you an appointment 
               with him tomorrow afternoon.
    This new version of the dialogue is my alternate 2. It is available for me to select if I want to use that version in my screenplay.

    Adding, Deleting, Managing Alternates

    Cycle Through the Alternates. Whether I have two, three, or four alternates, I need to be able to display each of them individually. The first step in managing the alternates is to place the cursor over the tiny circle containing a number. When I do so, the circle changes into several symbols: left and right arrows, and plus «+» and minus «-» signs.

    To cycle through the alternates, I use the arrows.

    Add an alternate. If I want to add a third alternate (I have not typed it out yet), I click the plus «+». The paragraph is automatically selected again, and I can edit the paragraph as my alternate number 3. I do not have to save it.

    Delete an alternate. If I want to delete an alternate, I cycle to it to display it. Then I click the minus «-».

    Display all the alternates. If I want to see all the alternates (which can be really helpful when more than two are available), I right-click on the paragraph to pop up a menu. I choose Alternates > Show All Alts for Element.

    Doing this displays all the paragraph versions in one paragraph, with two forward slashes // between them. I have color-highlighted the two alternates of the paragraph, though Fade In does not do this.

    Code:
                              MRS. SCALIA
               Don’t worry about that, dear. I’ve 
               known him my whole life. By the 
               way, we own the property where he 
               has his clinic. You just let me arrange 
               things for you. I’ll bet I can get you 
               in to see him tomorrow afternoon. // 
               Don’t worry about that, dear. I’ve known 
               Dr. Oswin my whole life. You just let me 
               arrange things for you. I’ll bet I can get 
               you an appointment with him tomorrow 
               afternoon.
    You can edit any of the versions right in place here. Changes are automatically saved.

    If I want to hide the alternates again (with only one of them still displaying), I right-click the paragraph, then select Alternates > Separate Alts.

    If I have made any changes to any of the versions, those changes are retained.

    You should try playing around with this great feature in Fade In. You will quickly figure it out, and you will realize how powerful and helpful it is.

    * * * * *

    For Die-Hard Final Draft Users

    Yes, I will mention a similar feature in Final Draft, because I know that some of you will be clutching your laptop with Final Draft on it when Jesus returns for the Rapture. You should know, however, that I have it on good authority that Jesus, who dabbles a bit with screenwriting, switched to Fade In a couple of years ago. And rumor has it that he is revising a screenplay about the disciples, titled "The Magnificent Eleven", after it only received a 6 on the Black List and was judged to "lack authenticity". He is currently seeking representation.

    Final Draft allows the writer to create dialogue alternates. But, strangely, it does not allow alternates for any other paragraph type. This is really curious, since you would expect that a writer might want some alternates for action.

    Anyway, here is what you do in Final Draft 10.
    • View > Show Alts.
    • When you click within a dialogue paragraph, a «+» appears out to the right.
    • Click the «+» to create an alternate. The current dialogue disappears. It is still there, but the space goes blank for you to type your new version.
    • Type your new dialogue.
    • Out to the left there is a set of arrows (left, right) that you use to navigate from one version to the next or to the previous.
    • A «+» and a «minus» appear at the right. These are for adding a version or deleting the currently displayed version.


    (Follow me on Twitter: @RolandRayStroud)

    (* Tags: stroud screenwriting software bells whistles fade_in fadein alternates versions *)
    Last edited by ComicBent; 07-19-2017, 01:05 PM.

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

  • #2
    Re: Bells and Whistles

    As usual, Comic, you are fantastically helpful. This is a great function I had no idea existed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bells and Whistles

      Thanks, ComicBent! I have FD10 and was wondering if there was a way to do this. Too bad it's only for dialogue.

      Late Night Writer

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bells and Whistles

        Hey, thanks. I went to FadeInPro, saw all the celebrity endorsements and then the newer, higher price. Still a good deal at $80. I guess the increase came with version 3. Look forward to more of these articles.
        STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bells and Whistles

          Thanks, all.

          I was not sure what kind of response this project would generate.

          I am working on Bells and Whistles #2 right now. It should be up in a day or two. I put in a lot of time on any "how to" article to try to make things clear. It is a bit difficult without having graphics, but I will also put up a PDF with graphics on my website for each article.

          For the record, I have no financial involvement in Fade In. I only know the developer (Kent Tessman) online. If I see any problems, I send him a bug report. I do not find many. I also follow his tweets (@fadeinsoftware). He tweets a lot about many issues, not just his software.

          I did not know until recently that Fade In had gone up in price. Honestly, I cannot fault Kent for this. The program is still a remarkably good deal, especially when you consider that you can use it on all of your computers. I cannot overstate how important that is to me. I have three computers, and I have Fade In on all three. I use all three in different settings (one for the desk; one for the couch; one for dragging to work or taking on trips).

          ----------

          NOTE: I have just started tweeting, and I do not tweet much, but you can follow me on Twitter: @RolandRayStroud

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

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bells and Whistles

            Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
            I did not know until recently that Fade In had gone up in price. Honestly, I cannot fault Kent for this. The program is still a remarkably good deal, especially when you consider that you can use it on all of your computers. I cannot overstate how important that is to me. I have three computers, and I have Fade In on all three. I use all three in different settings (one for the desk; one for the couch; one for dragging to work or taking on trips).
            No argument there. Fade In Pro is improving all the time and getting big endorsements now. I just hadn't gone to the site for a while so it took me by surprise. I guess I had figured it would be priced $50 for the duration. Using one key on all your computers is a huge benefit. None of the problems with an one of your allotted activated installs of Movie Magic Screenwriter or Final Draft being lost due to a hard drive crash. (Yeah, you could explain and get an extra install, but it's so much nicer when you don't have to.) All the best to Kent, he's worked hard to make Fade In Pro what it has become. I pretty much agree with you, this is (or will soon be) the standard in screenplay formatting software.
            Last edited by Centos; 07-13-2017, 03:35 AM. Reason: Mistakenly typed Final Draft instead of Fade In
            STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bells and Whistles

              Centos, I know that you meant Fade In and not Final Draft in your last post.

              It is amazing how that happens. I have done it, too, but I always recheck to make sure to catch any slips. It is sort of like the Obama/Osama thing that was a constant trap for years.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bells and Whistles

                Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                Centos, I know that you meant Fade In and not Final Draft in your last post.
                Yep. Corrected in the original now. I tried Final Draft's demo but never really liked it. (In my Windows' days I was a Movie Magic Screenwriter fan.) I think the last demo version of Final Draft I tried was 5 or 6. Both Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter seem to be an afterthought to their publishers now. Updates seem to be few and far between. If I was actively writing screenplays I would probably be using Fade In Pro -- though I kind of like using Jstar and the Fountain format. (Not that they couldn't be used together.)
                STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                Comment

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