Reformatting from left-justified

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  • Reformatting from left-justified

    Hey all! Been lurking for a bit.

    After thirty years obsessing over feature films (and a background in writing), I finally put in the legwork and wrote my first feature. It took four drafts and a year-and-a-half of sweat equity.

    Honestly, I have trouble reading traditional script format due to the wildly fluctuating justification, so I wrote the entire thing left-justified in OpenOffice.

    I'm about ~3 days away from completing it, and I realize no one worth anything will take this seriously unless it's "properly" formatted.

    Can someone recommend the most cost-friendly and easiest way to do this? I can do it all by hand, but it'll take a couple days of useless, manual work that probably won't even look perfect in the end.

    Feels silly to buy Final Draft just for this one purpose.

    I have *some* industry contacts and am very excited to start sending this out there. I did a beta-read round and got very positive reactions.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Re: Reformatting from left-justified

    You can download free trial see if it will help you format it, although I suspect you will have to tab stuff around.

    https://www.fadeinpro.com/page.pl?content=download

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Reformatting from left-justified

      Great, thanks for the tip! I'll try this out in a few days and see if it helps. As long as it looks good and saves me some hours, then I'm happy.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Reformatting from left-justified

        There's also,

        http://www.celtx.com/
        http://www.trelby.org/

        which as far as I know are still free.

        And then there's Screenplain,

        http://www.screenplain.com/

        which takes plain text and converts it to a screenplay.
        Check out the results of the Valentine's Day short script contest in Writing Exercises forum

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Reformatting from left-justified

          i'm curious, you only plan on writing one script? have you been writing in courier 12pt? how have you been keeping track of how many pages it is?

          is it an open office file format? you might have to convert it to another file first (rtf, doc, txt) and then convert it to a screenwriting program.

          i believe Trelby and Celtx are still free, i don't know their capabilities of converting files.

          any "free trial" is going to limited functionality.

          you're going to have to do some research to determine which software will allow you to import/export your file with as little work as possible. you don't want to buy something only to discover you have to re-enter every word.

          good luck.
          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Reformatting from left-justified

            Hello Merrick,

            Movie Magic Screenwriter (even the old versions, you can buy used -- cheap) do a really nice job of getting it right. Sometimes it asks one or two questions, then it flows right in. I've done whole, flush-left scripts with only four or five tweaks.

            That's if you did the slug lines right. EXT., INT, etc. And if you did CAPS for characters.

            It's actually pretty cool to watch it figure it out.
            "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Reformatting from left-justified

              Honestly, I have trouble reading traditional script format due to the wildly fluctuating justification, so I wrote the entire thing left-justified in OpenOffice.
              Buy 'Fade In'. I think it is still $79. Free upgrades. You can use it on all of your computers. Check the website.


              It sounds as if you have, in effect, created a script in Fountain format.


              All you have to do is save the .odt file (Open Office) as text.


              Then give the text file a new file extension, '.fountain'.


              Then Import the .fountain file into Fade In.


              Do not shell out the money for Final Draft. Seriously, just do not do it.


              If you have trouble, send me the script in Open Office format, and I will save it as a text file and then import it into Fade In as a .fountain file. But you will need your own paid-for version of Fade In to print without watermarking.


              Fade In is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I use Windows. I am assuming that you do, too. I am not sure that I can help if you are using another operating system.


              My email: [email protected]

              NOTE: I should have added that if you buy Fade In, you should also download the free fonts (Courier Screenplay, Courier Prime) from the website.

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

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                Originally posted by Merrick View Post
                I'm about ~3 days away from completing it, and I realize no one worth anything will take this seriously unless it's "properly" formatted.

                Can someone recommend the most cost-friendly and easiest way to do this? I can do it all by hand, but it'll take a couple days of useless, manual work that probably won't even look perfect in the end.

                Feels silly to buy Final Draft just for this one purpose.
                Sounds like you've basically written in Fountain format so this should only take a few minutes (maybe half an hour) to format. Definitely no need to buy Final Draft (or any application).

                Here's what Fountain looks like (ignore the writing, it sucks)...

                Code:
                EXT. THE GREAT OUTDOORS - DAY
                    
                GOOBER and his friend GIMP are hiking along a trail, munching granola bars. Goober is oohing and awing at the scenery.
                    
                GOOBER
                You don't find these kind of views on computer screens.
                
                GIMP
                Actually you do.
                    
                GOOBER
                Well, not up close and personal.
                    
                Gimp smirks.     
                
                GIMP
                Apparently you don't have the Virtual Real Real 4000 v.2 hooked up to your computer.
                (pause)
                Unlike me.
                    
                GOOBER
                Just take in the smells of the mountain air-
                    
                GIMP
                -I have, using my Virtual Scent WafterMatic add-on for my Virtual Real Real 4000 v.2. Only works on the Virtual Real Real 4000 v.2, version 1.0 will never get it.
                    
                A FURRY CRITTER scurries across the path.
                Sluglines (Scenes) start with INT. or EXT. (usually, there are exceptions detailed in the Fountain syntax guide at https://fountain.io/syntax).

                Each element is separated by one line, except Dialogue (and Parentheticals) stay next to their Character (as shown above).

                Transitions start with a "greater then" sign as in...

                Code:
                > FADE OUT:
                Action paragraphs are as shown above. Just normal paragraphs separated by a space from the next element.

                Once you've gotten your script into this format, you save as plain text with the "fountain" extension and import your Fountain file into any application that understands the Fountain syntax.

                'Afterwriting is a free online service that will do this. (Just be aware that's it's based in Europe so defaults to A4 paper but can easily be changed to Letter paper.)

                https://afterwriting.com/

                Once you save to PDF, you'll see something like this.

                Code:
                EXT. THE GREAT OUTDOORS - DAY
                
                GOOBER and his friend GIMP are hiking along a trail,
                munching granola bars. Goober is oohing and awing at the
                scenery.
                
                                      GOOBER
                          You don't find these kind of views
                          on computer screens.
                
                                      GIMP
                          Actually you do.
                
                                      GOOBER
                          Well, not up close and personal.
                          
                Gimp smirks.     
                
                                      GIMP
                          Apparently you don't have the
                          Virtual Real Real 4000 v.2 hooked
                          up to your computer.
                                (pause)
                          Unlike me.
                
                                      GOOBER
                          Just take in the smells of the
                          mountain air-
                
                                      GIMP
                          -I have, using my Virtual Scent
                          WafterMatic add-on for my Virtual
                          Real Real 4000 v.2. Only works on
                          the Virtual Real Real 4000 v.2,
                          version 1.0 will never get it.
                
                A FURRY CRITTER scurries across the path.
                You'll want to look at Fountain.io to see how to add a title page.

                You can also import your Fountain formatted script into Trelby, KIT Scenarist or WriterSolo (all free to download) and save to PDF from there.
                Last edited by Centos; 08-03-2019, 01:53 AM.
                STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                  Originally posted by finalact4 View Post
                  i'm curious, you only plan on writing one script? have you been writing in courier 12pt? how have you been keeping track of how many pages it is?
                  Complicated questions!

                  I thought this would be my one and only script. Along the way, I came up with several other ideas I'd love to write.

                  I have a completely different career and do not need to make screenwriting my job. So, it was more of an opportunity to do something I've really wanted to since childhood. And frankly not sure I'd want to do this as a profession, as the time constraints don't seem attractive.

                  Simple answer: I don't know.

                  About the page count, because this isn't meant to be a career, I just wrote what I wanted. I am aware that page count is significant in getting financing. Some of my final stages are hacking out as many pages and lines of dialogue as possible while not changing the meaning. I tried doing a rough "translation" to script format along the way for a reference. If it's accurate, it puts my script at a bit over 200 pages. Yikes, I know.

                  I'm hoping in these final stages that I can shrink it to around the 180-page level. I think the material supports a three hour film but not more.

                  Regarding everyone else's replies. I'm blown away. So many good suggestions here, and I can't thank you enough. I was only aware of Final Draft. But I'm sure something here will work.

                  I wrote it in the kind of format you see in printed plays so it was easy for my beta readers.

                  Character: "Dialogue dialogue blah blah."

                  With some simple Find->Replace functions, it can easily be changed to the fountain format mentioned. Slug lines don't exist yet but I put slashes (/) and line breaks between scenes, and a short description of location. So, that's also a very easy fix.

                  Very appreciative! And if all else fails, I'll drop a message here.

                  Since some of these suggestions rely on demo versions, I'll wait until the very end. I'm punching up some of the last lines of dialogue I wasn't satisfied with, hacking away at a couple scenes I think aren't 100% yet. Couple more days, and I'll migrate to script format.

                  Thanks all!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                    it's fine to not know, for sure. it's just if you're going to continue to write screenplays, software takes a lot off your mind-- makes the journey easier.

                    typically scripts fall in the under 120 range. not always, and, of course, there are exceptions. Sorkin writes long drafts, for example, but he's Sorkin, so...

                    self-editing is a valuable skill.

                    i will say that you're probably going to be surprised how much longer it will be when you add sluglines/scene headers.

                    however you progress, good luck and congratulations on completing your first script. it's commendable.
                    FA4
                    "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                      Hey there, thanks!

                      What I was trying to say is that I already have a line for each scene which is dedicated for slug lines (just a /, no markings of location). So, I think that won't add anything. The greatest amount of pages will grow from -

                      Character: "Dialogue blah"

                      to -

                      CHARACTER
                      Dialogue blah

                      My brain works in the way that this is easier. I have used Final Draft long ago, and it was extremely helpful with formatting. But that attempt got me to page 5 or so. This attempt got me all the way.

                      I totally understand about the page count and how it affects sales, etc. No one in my beta read group said they felt the script was too long. But once I bring it out for financing, I know that will be the first thing. It's a character-heavy, dialogue-heavy film. It's not lean, but that's part of the atmosphere, and I think it works to its advantage. It could prevent a sale, I'm aware. But at least I wrote what I wanted ...

                      Statistically speaking, it's currently a 35000 word script with around 130 scenes. From what I've read, that's long but not in the realm of ridiculous.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                        Originally posted by Merrick View Post
                        Statistically speaking, it's currently a 35000 word script with around 130 scenes. From what I've read, that's long but not in the realm of ridiculous.
                        Sometimes you see a "how many scenes should my screenplay have?" question thread, but there's no definitive answer to that one. No one uses word count as a measurement.* We're all aiming for 100-120 pages, with 110 reckoned to be a good general target to aim for, because that's what everyone expects to see. Then again, stories about 140-page screenplays being optioned appear every now and again. I guess that means if your writing and your story are amazeballs, no one's going to care how long it is. Or maybe they will. I wait with bated breath to find out how long your screenplay actually is, lol.

                        If I had a file with Character: style layout, I'd search/replace ": " with "^p" (without the quotes) which might save some typing, assuming you're using Word or similar editor that understands ^p means paragraph break control.

                        Import options in screenwriting packages expect to find CAPPED character name followed by their dialogue followed by a blank line.

                        * just out of curiosity I exported a couple of my screenplays to txt files and checked the wordcount... both contained around 20k words. Which probably means nothing.
                        Check out the results of the Valentine's Day short script contest in Writing Exercises forum

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                          Thank you! Yes, I understand I'm over the expected limits. And I understand word count and scene count are not norms of measurement. I did some searching anyway to see what others reported in the hopes mine was within the realms of reasonable.

                          I'm also not married to the studio system and would be fine with seeking private financing. Which is a real option if I get "this is great but unmakeable."

                          I've got 3 scenes to fix now and then a quick, final gloss over everything and it's in the bag. I'll let you know how long it is.

                          My fear is 220+ pages, hah. My goal is 180. Maybe Courier New pt. 11?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                            Originally posted by dpaterso View Post
                            * just out of curiosity I exported a couple of my screenplays to txt files and checked the wordcount... both contained around 20k words. Which probably means nothing.
                            I checked the one feature screenplay I've actually written, which is slightly over 100 pages, and its word count is almost 17,200. So I think you 20K for 120 pages (or so) is a pretty close "norm."

                            BTW, Free Screenwriting (https://freescreenwriting.com/) or WriterSolo can give you the word count directly. It's a feature no one will probably ever use, but I used it for this specific word count.
                            STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Reformatting from left-justified

                              A few years ago we had a similar thread about word count. Nearly everyone dismisses word count as irrelevant. However, it does, in fact, correlate reasonably well with page count.

                              When I ran my test a few years ago, I took a number of scripts, imported them into Final Draft (for which I retained the default settings), and then did a statistical analysis of total word count and total page count.

                              Naturally, the results showed significant variation, but the results were still helpful.

                              The data and the conclusions:


                              n = number of sample scripts = 35
                              mean (average) words per page = 198
                              median number of words per page = 194
                              standard deviation = 20.7 (let's just say 21)
                              lowest number of words/page (average for script) = 164
                              highest number of words/page (average for script) = 233
                              range between lowest and highest number of words/page = 69

                              If your script has 35,000 words, and if you format it in a standard way, I would estimate that it will be about:

                              (35,000 words) / (198 words/page) = 177 pages

                              With the standard deviation, you might get something between 156 and 198 pages.

                              Of course, really dense pages or skimpy pages will affect the count dramatically. This calculation will not hold if you have lots of "black" (dense description or action), or lots of "white space" (short, telegrapic action paragraphs of one or two lines, or page after page of terse, one-line dialogue).

                              Also, and this is very important ...

                              If you format your pages in a word processor with Courier New, you will probably increase your number of pages enormously. Word processors handle Courier New in a way that increases the line spacing; consequently, you end up with a lot more pages than if you format with Fade In, Movie Magic Screenwriter, or Final Draft. And do not use Courier New for any screenplay, ever. The line spacing may be fouled up, and the appearance will certainly be too anemic. Use the free Courier Screenplay, Courier Prime (both available for free from the Fade In website), or use some other Courier that is darker than Courier New. If you have access to Final Draft, that font is all right, too.

                              And never change the font size in an attempt to meet the goal of a set number of pages.

                              Let us know if you need help.

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

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