Writing a Screenplay in Scrivener

Two weeks ago I wrote my first article about using Scrivener for all of my writing projects. The response was incredible to that article I thought I would take it another step and write an article about how I use Scrivener to write a screenplay. If you already use Scrivener you will not see anything new here, but if you want to learn a little more about the Writer’s Writing Software, then this is the first is a series of articles that will show you much of Scrivener’s screenwriting capabilities.

Creating Your Project

I’ve been working on a page-one rewrite of one of my ideas for some time and I have been working on some plotting issues. After much thought and planning I have come up with the basic story and it’s now time to move forward and start building the screenplay in Scrivener. The first step is to open the application and create a new project file.


As shown above there are a number of different options available when creating a new project. The scriptwriting option includes a number of different screenwriting formats available. The one we are going choose the the screenplay template. It will ask you for a filename and once provided it opens the template and you’re ready to get started.


The first file you are shown is a fact sheet about the format. Take a moment and read it over. Once you have read it you can either delete the file or keep it. For the time being let’s keep it in case we have any questions. Below the information page is the Screenplay folder (as known as Draft or Manuscript under other templates) this is the folder you will place your completed screenplay so that it can be compiled when you’re complete. Currently there is a folder called Scenes and a document called Scene in the Screenplay folder but we’re going to change that shortly. Front Matter is your screenplays title page. This is a template sheet and the title and your name are filled in when you compile with the project’s metafile information. Scroll down and you can write in your contact information. Characters and Places are folders where you can build your character profile sheets and your location profiles. Below that is the Research folder. One of the strengths of Scrivener is the ability to import just about any file type into a project. If you find some information about a illness the Hero suffers from on a webpage you can import the website into the project for further review later. Photos of a key location can be put in either Research or Settings. As you build your film these folders are going to get full. When you first begin there is a Sample Script document in there. Again, read it and delete it if you wish. The Template Sheets folder holds the two different pre-built sheets – a Character and Setting Sketch. You can add other documents to this folder and mark them as templates based on your needs. Finally the Trash is, well, the trash. It works the same way as the trash can on your computer.

Where should I begin?

The first step is to import any information you may already have about your screenplay into Scrivener. I have a 12 page outline already written out of my new screenplay so I need to bring that into Scrivener. I currently have that stored in Evernote so I’m going to just select the entire note and copy it and then create a new document under the Research folder and paste it in. One of the other things I’m going to do is import the previous version of the screenplay. I don’t expect to refer to it much as the new story is dramatically different then the original story but with Scrivener you now have the ability to keep all of your drafts together within a single application.

The next step I do is set the Meta-Data of your project. PROJECT > META-DATA SETTINGS opens the window where you have a number of different options. First is the Project Properties where you key your name and your project’s name. This information will then appear on the Title Page. You can also create now categories and statuses for your project but we can do these as we proceed. A Category could be used for plots and sub-plots or character appearances or for when specific information is revealed to the audience. A status is used to keep you on track when writing your screenplay such as Work in Progress or Third Draft.


Here is what my binder looks like. I’ve imported 9 different versions of the screenplay. You can see the different icons used between versions 1 − 7 and 8 − 9. The yellow icon for versions 8 and 9 show that the file is written in Scrivener’s screenplay format while the white icons denote just a document (these files were originally written using Microsoft’s Word and then imported and converted to Apple’s Pages and finally imported into Scrivener. Under the Screenplay folder I have created three sub-folders, Act One, Act Two, Act Three. In an upcoming article we’ll import the story cards I’ve been working on using Index Cards for iPad in Scrivener.

In the next article we will discuss the Character Sketches. Happy writing.


3 responses to “Writing a Screenplay in Scrivener

  1. Pingback: Writing a Screenplay in Scrivener | Everything Scrivener·

  2. Pingback: First Draft in Scrivener | feekwrites·

  3. Pingback: 9 Business Apps I Use Everyday In My Video Production Business • Filmmaking Lifestyle·

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