First Draft in Scrivener

For the past two weeks I have found myself with some time on my hands and it has been wonderful. I’ve spent much of this newly found time working on my screenplay. If you’ve been reading my blog for a few months you might remember an article I posted a couple of months ago where I adjusted the Scrivener Screenplay template to my liking. At the end of that article I had promised an article about character creation, well I’m still working on that one, but in the mean time I have been building my screenplay in my modified Screenplay temple. I can’t sing the praises of Scrivener enough. It is an incredible piece of software that I highly recommend if you do any sort of writing at all.


Above is a screenshot of the First Act of my screenplay Brierwood 2013 (working title). This is where the power of Scrivener comes out. The left side bar is called the Binder and like the regular 3-ring binder you used to use in school this binder holds your paperwork. The Screenplay tab holds your screenplay. Here I have divided into three different folders, Acts One, Two and Three. Within each of these folders are pages. The yellow icon shows which pages have been written and the white cards shows which are still just cue cards. The Front Matter is the front cover of your screenplay which pulls your information from the meta-data of the screenplay. Next is the characters folder and you can see I have a list of character pages where I keep the details of the characters.

As I write the screenplay these cards can be very easily moved around, pulled out or completely replaced without loosing any of the content on them. For example, the card labelled “JONATHAN’S FAMILY” has been written since the screenshot (above) was taken and I’m already not happy with the scene. The cue card description of the scene reads:

“Jonathan sits with his family in a very large dining hall. His father talks about the arrangements for his mother’s 50th birthday as well. He also invites Jonathan to the Royal Ontario Museum for a launch event. Jonathan declines but told otherwise”

Yet when I came to write the scene last week I changed the location to the backyard. Jonathan’s father, William, is sitting on a outdoor chair painting the trees in his backyard. I wanted to show his interest in art and I thought making him a painter would show that quickly. The problem when the scene that I see is there is no conflict. Every scene must serve a purpose and include a little conflict. Conflict is story and story is conflict. This is where writing in Scrivener is a benefit. At some point (sooner rather than later) this scene will be redeveloped and rather than rewriting this story card, I will create a brand new one and move the original ineffective scene into a new folder elsewhere in the binder. Nothing is ever lost or destroyed and I can go back to review it at any point.

From Concept to Final Draft

On the right side in the middle is the General section. This area allows the writer to assign both a Label and Status to a story card. In the image the card is marked as “Concept”. Once I have written the script for the sequence I change the Label and the Status to read “First Draft”. As the screenplay is written each scene will be re-written, edited, reviewed and finalized. There is a Label and Status for each of these and the author has the option to add additional labels as needed.

It the Labour Day long weekend and I need to get back to my writing, so I’ll talk to you again once the First Act is complete.


3 responses to “First Draft in Scrivener

  1. Couldn’t find an email address on your About Page and I’d rather not post this on twitter.

    There is a public community for Scrivener Users which although hosted on Google Plus does not require a Google Plus account to visit. We have over one thousand members. There are a few screenwriters and playwrights although the majority are probably novelists or aspiring novelists.

    The URL is:

    I had wondered at the spelling of the word Labour in your last sentence until the comment thread on your about page clarified that you are Canadian. I was relatively certain that the UK does not observe Labour Day this weekend but once I saw that comment thread everything became “crystal clear.”

    Its ironic that a holiday which originated due to protests by workers who felt that among other things they were being compelled to work long hours should now be a day when writers feel that they can put in a great many hours working. One man’s holiday is another man’s opportunity.

  2. Pingback: First Draft in Scrivener | Everything Scrivener·

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