Three Ways to use 'Afterwriting



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  • Three Ways to use 'Afterwriting

    Three ways to use 'Afterwriting

    'Afterwriting allows you to write in Fountain syntax and format to screenplay format in PDF. There are three ways to do this using 'Afterwriting.

    The first way is to simply go to (online) and use the built in editor (or copy fountain formatted text into the editor) and save as PDF — either to your computer or to one of the online storage sites supported.

    The second way is to download the full website (afterwriting) and run it locally in your browser. This allows you to write and convert your Fountain formatted files to screenplay formatted PDFs when offline. (This just requires downloading a ZIP file, unpacking to its own directory, and clicking on the HTML file inside that new directory.) You'll find that zip file when you click "i" for "information" at the website. There will be a link under the Offline heading for the download.

    (In both of the first two options you can also read Final Draft (.fdx) files and convert them to Fountain format or PDF, you won't be able to do that with the third option.)

    The third way is to use 'Afterwriting is from the Command Line Interface (or CLI). This way you can write in a text editor, save to a file in Fountain format, and — from the command line – convert to PDF. I've tested this both in Linux and Windows 8.1 and it's actually a little easier to install in Windows. (Not much difference.)

    For Windows ... from the Information page at 'Afterwriting you'll find this link ...

    At that page you'll find that you need to download and install Node.js, which is found here ...

    If you don't already have a CLI (command line) Git client you'll need it — you can get one and install it from here ...

    And now you're ready to install the CLI version of 'Afterwriting by typing (or copying) the following into your command line (or shell) ...

    npm install afterwriting -g

    Once that's completed, you can test your installation by typing ...

    afterwriting --help —> which should show your options for using 'Afterwriting

    At this point you type the following from the command line ("FileName" stands in for an actual file name) ...

    afterwriting --source FileName.fountain --pdf (if you just want to keep the same name for the PDF file). If not, type ...

    afterwriting --source FileName.fountain --pdf NewFileName.pdf

    This will default to A4 paper and a title page ('Afterwriting supports standard Fountain title page format, so if you haven't set up a title page in Fountain Format, you'll get a blank page.) You'll also get a single space between Scene Headers and the following default options ...

        "embolden_scene_headers": false,
        "show_page_numbers": true,
        "split_dialogue": true,
        "print_title_page": true,
        "print_profile": "a4",
        "double_space_between_scenes": false,
        "print_sections": false,
        "print_synopsis": false,
        "print_actions": true,
        "print_headers": true,
        "print_dialogues": true,
        "number_sections": false,
        "use_dual_dialogue": true,
        "print_notes": false,
        "print_header": "",
        "print_footer": "",
        "print_watermark": "",
        "scenes_numbers": "none",
        "each_scene_on_new_page": false
    If you live in America, or any place where A4 is not the standard paper size, you'll probably want to change the defaults. This requires one more step (and one more option in the command line).

    First you'll need to create a configuration (text) with the .json extension. I just name named mine afterconfig.json. (I actually have two configuration files, one to print title pages and one that doesn't print them.) Copy and paste the above options into your text file (include the little "curly cue" brackets).

    Looking at the code above, you can probably see what you need to change. I changed "print_title_ page" to "false" (in one of the two files), "print_profile" to "usletter", and "double_space_between_scenes" to "true."

    Once that file is edited and saved you now enter ...

    afterwriting --source FileName.fountain --pdf [optional new name] --config afterconf.json

    The configuration file options are explained at the GitHub site linked above.

    One more command line command in 'Afterwriting is "Overwrite," as in ...

    afterwriting --source FileName.fountain --pdf [optional new name] --config afterconfig.json --overwrite

    I don't quite see the need for this option because, without it, 'Afterwriting will prompt you to overwrite the file (or not).

    The above site sometimes shows "node awc.js" instead of "afterwriting" for the command name. As far as I can tell, this NEVER works.

    PDF files "printed" with 'Afterwriting have the identical structure to files printed with Screenplain (when all options are the same). The advantage of 'Afterwriting for PDF is that it prints with the darker Courier Prime instead of the standard Courier font. The disadvantage (in my opinion) is that 'Afterwriting uses Java whereas Screenplain uses Python.

    I have not tried Screenplain's CLI version on Windows yet. Probably will just to see if I can make it work. (Not even positive it's supported in Windows, but I think it is.)

    One more thing ... I'm not exactly sure what the "split_dialogue" does, but with it set to true (which is also the default the 'Afterwriting site) it doesn't break up elements. And, I should mention, if you're using either Option one or two (above) you can change all these settings by clicking the Gear icon at the top. You'll probably want to do that because 'Afterwriting online and offline also defaults to A4 paper.

    EDIT: Can now confirm that Screenplain CAN be installed on Windows (probably anything with Python, including Mac). EDIT 2: pdftotext can also be run on Windows. EDIT 3: Well, pdftotext installed but it's not doing a clean PDF to formatted text conversion on Windows (loses a lot of the layout). So I can't recommend it for Windows at this time. (See below.)

    EDIT 4: If you want pdftotext for Windows (a version that works) you need to go to this site ...

    ... and download the latest software and extract the files to a directory. I no longer remember how to put DLLs and EXEs in the Windows path, so I'm just copying them all to the directory I'm converting PDFs in (you'll find these files in the Poppler's BIN directory). It works just as well as the Linux version (which means that – sometimes – the Character names get a space or two off – other than that it outputs a formatted text file well (for the most part, a mirror image of the PDF file).

    I've had enough Windows for a day ... or a week ... or a month. I just wanted to see if these command line utilities would work in Windows and they do.
    Last edited by Centos; 04-04-2018, 06:45 PM.
    STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.