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User Guide

Using Scrite

The UI of Scrite has changed a lot since we first published this user guide. While much of the content is still relevant, the screenshots are out of date. We will be updating this page soon to match the current status of the app. Until then, please oblige errors on this page.

Table Of Contents

    Getting to know the user interface

    When you first start Scrite, you will be presented with a main window that looks like this.

    Scrite is designed to look very similar to a video editor. The three main areas of Scrite are as follows

    1. Structure & Notes Area: This area consists of two tabs: structure & notes.
      1. The structure tab provides a canvas on which you can create scenes. The scenes you create on the canvas may or may-not make it to the final screenplay, but they are nevertheless captured on the canvas as raw materials for your screenplay.
      2. The notes tab provides a way for you to create and tag notes against the entire screenplay, or a specific scene or against specific characters in your screenplay.
    2. Editing Area: When you select a scene on the structure tab or in the timeline editor, this area will present a scene editor to you. In this area you can type the content of your scene(s) and format various paragraphs as action, character, dialogue, shot or transition.
    3. Timeline Editor: You can drag and drop scenes from the structure into this area. Once dropped into a timeline, the scene becomes part of your screenplay. At any time you can move scenes back and forth to change the sequence in which your scenes appear in the screenplay.

    Structure tab

    The structure tab provides a way for you to create scenes and capture the structure of your screenplay. If you have just installed Scrite, you will notice that the structure tab comes with a graph-sheet-like-UI.

    On MacBooks, you can use the trackpad to pinch zoom in and out the canvas. On Windows, you can hold the Control key while scrolling the wheel up and down to zoom in and out of the canvas. Or you could use the zoom buttons next to “Add Scene” to zoom in and out.

    A graph sheet, by its very nature, presents two dimensions to us in the form of X and Y axes. Screenplays are multi dimensional in nature. Obviously every screenplay has a time dimension. The story of any screenplay unfolds over a time axis. In addition to time, there are character, space/location and arc/thread/track dimensions. There could be even more dimensions than the ones listed here.

    The Structure canvas allows you to pick any two dimensions and map scenes across those dimensions on the canvas. For example:

    • You can think of structure as a time-vs-location graph. Imagine that the time extends on the X axis from left to right and on the Y axis we have various locations. Placing scenes on the structure allows you to visually capture scenes the way they show up in time-vs-location axes. Scenes that show on the left of your structure occur before the scenes that show up on the right of your structure. While the scenes may be sequenced in your timeline in any order, visually the structure allows you to capture how they show up on clock-time of your story. If you are a fan of non-linear narration, you can sequence them differently on the timeline editor and explore various ways in which you can present your story to the audience.
    • You could think of structure as character-vs-location graph. If your story narrates the life of characters residing (or stuck) in different parts of the world, then you can create scenes and place them on the structure canvas in that way. While you can sequence scenes any which way you want; the structure allows you to capture how they show up in character-vs-location dimension.

    The app will eventually provide tools to precisely capture the axes and their metrics, but for now the structure is just an open canvas.

    ProTip: If you don’t like the default colors for canvas background and grid, you can click on the settings button in toolbar and change it to any color of your choice.

    Creating a new scene

    To create a new scene, simply click on the “Add Scene” button in the Structure tab and select from any of the colors presented to you in the menu.

    The mouse pointer changes to a cross-hair cursor. You can then click on an empty area in the structure canvas to create a new scene.

    Each scene can be described using a short text paragraph. Most screenwriters prefer to create one line descriptions for their scenes before they fill out the details for their scene. That one line description can be typed into the scene block here.

    You can create additional scenes on the canvas by clicking on the Add Scene button and selecting the same or different color.

    There can be one active scene in the structure. You can click on any element to make it active. Active scenes are highlighted by using a subtle shadow under the scene.

    Pro Tip: Rather than clicking on the “Add Scene” button and selecting a color to create a scene, you can simply click on an empty area in the canvas and press the N key on the keyboard. A new scene having the previously selected color will be created directly under the mouse cursor.

    Color coding your scenes

    As you have already noticed, scenes can be color coded. Color coding a scene helps you to visually differentiate different tracks or arcs in your screenplay. For example: if you are writing a murder mystery, then the scenes that describe the actual murder can be in red color, the scenes that show police investigating can be in brown (or Khakhi) color, the scenes that show intimate moments between the hero and heroine in your screenplay can be in magenta color and so on.

    At anytime, you can change the color of your scene by clicking on the hamburger menu button that shows up next to the actively selected scene on structure.

    You can also delete a scene by clicking on the “Delete” item in the menu. By default scene headings are enabled for all scenes, but you can turn them off if you like. More about scene headings in a later section.

    Arranging scenes in structure

    Scenes can be freely moved on the structure canvas, although they snap to a grid that is 10 pixels in size. As mentioned in a previous section, you should place your scenes to help you capture the structure of your screenplay.

    If you want to move a group of scenes, hold the Control key (⌘ key on Mac) while you drag a selection rectangle around the scenes you want to move.

    You can then hold the selection rectangle and move all the scenes under it in one go.

    Adding scene content

    You can click on any scene in structure tab to open the scene editor on the right and type content in it. You will notice that the background color of the scene editor will be same as the scene color. This helps you to get into the “zone” of your scene while you type content for your scene.

    The first thing you will notice in the scene editor area when you click on a scene, is the scene header. Initially the scene header would read “INT. SOMEWHERE – DAY”. You can click on the scene header to alter it.

    You can use Tab and Backtab keys on your keyboard to switch focus between various components of the scene header.

    When keyboard focus moves to the editor area under the header, you can start typing your scene content. By default the paragraph style for scene content would be “Action.” But you can switch paragraph styles by clicking on buttons in the toolbar above the editor.

    Clicking on any of the paragraph style buttons will change the style of the paragraph under the cursor in the scene editor. You could also use keyboard shortcuts to change paragraph styles.

    • Action (Control+1 / ⌘+1)
    • Character (Control+2 / ⌘+2)
    • Dialogue (Control+3 / ⌘+3)
    • Parenthetical (Control+4 / ⌘+4)
    • Shot (Control+5 / ⌘+5)
    • Transition (Control+6 / ⌘+6)

    ProTip: You will notice that the editor provides auto-complete suggestions for character, shot and transition elements. These suggestions are shown in a tooltip directly above the cursor. You can hit the tab key to accept the suggestion in your scene.

    Adding scenes to the timeline

    As mentioned in a previous section, adding scenes on structure doesn’t include them in the screenplay. This means that they wont show up in a PDF export of your screenplay. To add a scene to the timeline, you have to drag the scene by the icon on its bottom right and drop it on the timeline.

    Notice that as scenes are dragged and dropped to the timeline, flow lines with arrows show up in structure to highlight the flow of scenes in your screenplay. The benefit of this would become even more clear when you are working on non-linear screenplays. As your story moves back and forth in your screenplay, you will see the flow lines going back and forth in your structure.

    Changing order of scenes in the timeline

    Once you add scenes to the timeline, you can change the order of scenes in the timeline by simply dragging scenes by their bottom right handle and dropping it to their new location.

    When you change the order of scenes on the timeline, the flow lines readjust themselves immediately on the structure.

    You may have already noticed by now that scene selections are synced between timeline and structure views. This means that any scene you select on the timeline, will automatically be highlighted in structure and vice versa. This ensures that you don’t lose context of your scenes at anytime.

    You can remove a scene from the timeline, by clicking on the hamburger menu button towards the top right corner of the scene and selecting the “Remove” option.

    Adding a scene to both structure and timeline

    Sometimes you may want to simply write scenes one after the other, without having to create a scene in structure and then drag & drop it to timeline.

    By clicking on the “Add Scene” button in toolbar, you can straight away add a new scene to both structure and timeline. Scrite will place the cursor directly on the scene editor, so that you can edit your scene.

    Clicking on this button will create a new scene in structure and also insert it into the timeline after the currently selected scene in the timeline if any. If no scene was selected in timeline, then the new scene will be appended to the end of the timeline.

    Creating loops in your structure

    Many times you may want to revisit a particular scene several times in your screenplay. In Vantage Point, the opening scene is revisited after the story is narrated from each of the 4 main character’s point of view. Suppose you want to write a screenplay for a film like that, you may want a single scene recurring multiple times in your timeline; thereby creating a loop in your structure.

    To create a loop, you can drag and drop a scene multiple times into your screenplay, as shown in the screenshot below.

    Notice how the opening scene titled “Inciting Incident” shows up thrice in the screenplay. This is a kind of story where we show an opening scene with an inciting incident and then take “Loop 1” to show events leading up to the incident from one point of view. We then show the inciting incident again, to take “Loop 2” where we show events leading up to the inciting incident from another point of view. We then finally show the inciting incident once again and move on to the grand conclusion.

    Notice how all three “red boxes” in timeline are shown as selected along with the corresponding “red box” in structure. Again, you are not losing track of the context of your scenes.

    A key benefit of such a software interface for loop structures is that, you can now edit the loop scene on the editor in any one place and notice the same text show up in all references to that scene, within your screenplay.

    Its now also possible to notice how the structure powerfully captures the “shape of your story.”

    Act, chapter and interval breaks

    Many screenwriters follow the three act structure. Some of them are also particular about defining interval breaks in the screenplay itself. You can add these breaks in the timeline by clicking on the “Add Break” button in the timeline editor and selecting the type of break you want to add from the popup-menu.

    Zooming in/out the timeline

    The width of scene rectangles in the timeline editor is proportional to their size. You can zoom in / out the timeline to get a more proportional view of the timeline.

    Above is snapshot of the timeline from the screenplay of Shuddhi, a state award winning Kannada Film written and directed by Adarsh Eshwarappa. The size of the scene blocks in the timeline showcases their length relative to other scenes. For example, Scene #3 is slightly bigger than other scenes but not as big as Scene #6.

    Splitting scenes into two

    When you select a scene in Structure, you will be presented with a scene editor for that one single scene. Whereas when you click on a scene in the timeline, you will be presented with a scene editor for that scene in the context of all other scenes in the screenplay.

    You can choose whether you want to edit a scene independently or along with other scenes in the timeline.

    When scenes are edited in context of the screenplay, one additional functionality becomes available. You can right click near the cursor on editor and select “Split Scene” option to split a single scene into two across the cursor.

    Once the scene is split, you will now notice two scenes.

    By default Scrite copies scene heading from the original scene into the split scene, but it will alter the suffix to “LATER”. You can click on the scene heading and alter all 3 fields if you want.

    You will also notice that the structure of your screenplay will have altered as well.

    Before split
    After split

    ProTip: Instead of selecting “Split Scene” in the context menu, you can simply place the cursor at a point in the scene and hit the Control+Return on Windows, ⌘+Return on Mac to split the scene across the cursor into two.

    Capturing notes

    You can capture your thoughts, ideas and research regarding the story of your screenplay or for a specific scene or for specific characters using the Notebook tab.

    The notebook tab contains another tab view inside it. By default this tab-view has one tab for “Story”. Here you can capture notes related to your entire story.

    Another tab gets automatically created for the current scene in the timeline editor. In this tab you can capture notes for that particular scene. For example, you might want to capture notes regarding camera angles or color palette or reference reading or discussion notes etc.

    To create a note, simply click on the “Add Note” button and select a color for your note.

    Each note has a heading and content.

    You can change the color of your notes using the hamburger menu on the top left of the note, or delete it entirely using the delete button. Any number of notes can be created in each tab of Notebook.

    In addition to these two tabs, you can create one tab for every character in your screenplay. Click on the “Add Person” round button below the scene tab to launch the character selector dialog box and select one or more characters to create a tab for.

    Character names are automatically picked up from character elements across all scenes in your screenplay. You can simply select or or more names and create sections for them.

    Against each character, you can now capture additional notes. Character notes could be things like backstory of the character, or notes that you may want to pass on to the actor who will play the character. It could be anything that may not show up explicitly in the screenplay itself.

    ProTip: Character notes can be bundled along with character reports. More about reports in a future section.

    Typing in multiple languages

    Scrite supports typing in multiple Indian languages. It uses a 3rd party OpenSource Library called PhTranslator to provide this feature. To switch between languages, click on the Language icon in the toolbar and select from the languages in the menu.

    Another way to switch between languages is to press the keyboard shortcuts mentioned on the menu. For example on Windows Alt+K sets the active language to Kannada. On macOS ⌥+K accomplishes the same thing.

    Scrite provides support for transliteration, as opposed to translation. This means that you can type phonetically in the language you select and Scrite will transliterate whatever you type into the selected language.

    Transliteration takes time to learn. If you are unsure of how to phonetically translate a specific word, then you can lookup the alphabet mapping here.

    Most screenplay writers write in just one language. Sometimes they use two or at-best three languages in their screenplay. Remembering keyboard shortcuts for switching between languages is unproductive. You can configure Scrite to simply switch between active languages using the F10 key. For example, lets say your screenplay uses English and Kannada. You can launch the Settings dialog box by clicking on the Settings button on the toolbar.

    In the “Active Languages” group, you can check languages that you want to cycle using the F10 key.

    For the first version, we decided to provide built in transliteration engine rather than going with a hosted transliteration service, like Google Translate, because we felt that many screenwriters prefer to disconnect themselves from the world while writing. So we cannot assume the availability of Internet while typing. In a future update, will provide the option to switch between the built-in translator and Google Translate.

    Loading and saving files

    Once you finish writing your screenplay, you can save it to disk by clicking on the “Save” button in toolbar. To save into another file, you can click on the “Save As” button.

    Scrite files use .scrite as extension for its files. They are basically binary JSON files that describe the structure and content of your screenplay document.

    In a future update, we will provide the option of digitally signing your Scrite documents so that you can control access as a part of Digital Rights Management settings. That way you will be able to write your screenplays and securely share it with specific people, knowing that the people who receive the document will not be able to “forward” it to others without your consent.

    Scrite remembers up to 10 recently opened files, so that you can reload them using the “Recently Opened” menu.

    Backups folder

    Each time you save your Scrite document, a backup of the previously saved file will be stored in a Backups folder. This folder will be available in the same path where you have stored the Scrite file. There is no limit to the number of backups saved in this folder. You can manually revert to a backup or delete backups whenever you want.

    Configuring auto save

    By default, Scrite automatically saves files once in every minute. You can change the auto save duration or completely disable auto-save if you like.

    Exporting screenplays

    You can export your screenplays written in Scrite to Final Draft, PDF, HTML, Fountain or Text File Formats. To export your screenplay, you can simply click on the “Export” button in toolbar and select any of the formats in the menu.

    Note: As of 0.2.8 Beta, import and export menus are bundled into a single menu.

    When exporting a Scrite document, only the scenes in the timeline are exported in the sequence in which they occur. Nothing related to notes and structure are exported.

    Upon selecting any of the options in this menu, you will be presented with a dialog box where you can configure name of the exported file. By default the the exported file will be in the same directory where you have stored the Scrite document.

    You can click on the button with three dots (…) next to the file path to select another directory or filename for the exported file.

    Paragraph styles

    A screenplay text consists of the following types of paragraphs.

    • Scene Heading
    • Action
    • Character
    • Parenthetical
    • Dialogue
    • Shot
    • Transition

    Each paragraph has its own formatting style. For example, character paragraphs are center aligned and use bold font, action paragraphs are justified. Scrite comes bundled with default format styles for each paragraph for on-screen display and printing, but you can customize them if you want.

    Notice how you can configure the block width, margins, alignment, color and font of each paragraph. While we do not recommend changing the paragraph styles, it is useful to know that the option exists.

    NOTE: Courier Prime is Scrite’s default font and is bundled along with the binary packages of Scrite. It’s a free font package and can be downloaded separately from Google Fonts also. This font is used for on-screen display and PDF export. Scrite defaults to Courier New for HTML export.

    Configuring headers, footers and watermark for PDF export

    Headers, footers and watermark can be configured for your PDF exports.

    The default options works for most purposes. However, you can configure it separately if you want.

    PDF export

    Screenplays exported to PDF format can be opened in any PDF viewer. The default paper size of PDF pages would be US Letter. Left and right margins will be 0.2 inches in size, top and bottom margins will be 0.1 inches in size. The creator meta-data of PDF files will be set to “Scrite” and the version number using which the PDF was generated.

    HTML export

    Screenplays exported to HTML format are generated in a way that makes it easy for you to embed the screenplay into an existing HTML document or as a stand alone document. Exported HTML files can be configured to retain color information also export fonts for use in the HTML, in case you have used Indian languages.

    When you select Export > HTML option, you will get a dialog box as follows.

    By default the languages you select as Active in the Settings dialog box are checked and “Export with scene colors” is checked. Upon clicking “Export” the HTML file will be exported and the file’s location will be shown in a window.

    Note: If you have exported HTML with fonts, then the fonts will be saved into a fonts folder within the same directory as the HTML file. The HTML file itself will contain CSS code to ensure that it uses those fonts while rendering the HTML.

    ProTip: Open the exported HTML file in Microsoft Word, for sharing your screenplay with others in DOCX format.

    Final Draft export

    Final Draft is an industry standard software for screenplay writing. While we would love it if you can write your complete screenplay in Scrite, we understand that some of you may want to create your first or second draft in Scrite and use Final Draft to finalize your work. Many other third party screenplay writing apps support Final Draft format. For example, Causality supports importing of screenplays which are in Final Draft format.

    Screenshot of Shuddhi screenplay in Causality. The screenplay was exported to Final Draft format using Scrite and then imported into Causality.

    Fountain export

    Fountain is a simple markup syntax for writing, editing and sharing screenplays in plain, human-readable text.

    Support for Fountain format in Scrite was first suggested by Kushal Kumar M, a hobby screenplay writer. Since the time he made the suggestion, we have since received more requests for supporting this format. As of Scrite-0.2.15-Beta we have basic support for importing and exporting to Fountain format.

    When Scrite screenplays are exported to Fountain format, it generates a simple human-readable text file like this.

    Screenplays in Fountain format can be opened in many screenplay writing software. For example, there is an app called beat for macOS that supports this format. Fountain files created using Scrite can be opened in beat for example.

    Text export

    Many screenplay writers and reviewers still prefer the old-and-gold-text format. Scrite can export screenplays to a .txt files and preserve alignment and block-width aspects of paragraphs in exported text files. When Export > Text is selected the following dialog box will be shown.

    By default, exported text files have 60 character width. But you can configure it to any other value, between 30 and 150. Upon clicking on the Export button, the screenplay will be written into a text file and its location will be shown.

    Other formats

    In a future update, we will support exporting of screenplays to Celtx.

    Exporting the structure of your screenplay

    You can click on the “Export > Screenplay Structure” menu item to export the structure of your screenplay to a PDF file.

    The exported PDF will contain one single page with just the contents of your structure tab.

    Import

    Currently Scrite allows you import screenplays in Final Draft, Fountain and properly formatted HTML file formats.

    Note: As of 0.2.8 Beta, import and export menus are bundled into a single menu.

    Importing from Final Draft

    Final Draft files imported into Scrite will create a new scene for every scene heading element encountered in the input file. Scenes are placed in a predefined format on structure, without paying any attention to its actual structure.

    Screenplay exported from Causality to Final Draft and imported into Scrite.

    HTML import

    Scrite supports importing screenplays from properly formatted HTML documents. Such HTML files must be in the following format.

    <html>
        <head>...</head>
    
        <body>
            <!-- scene headings must have class set as 'scene' -->
            <p class="heading">INT. SOMEPLACE - DAY</p>
        
            <!-- action paragraphs must have class set as 'action' -->    
            <p class="action">Maruti, his wife and daughter select ice-cream flavors at the counter. His wife and daughter sit down at the table adjacent to the full-glass-frame window by the road. Maruti pays the bill and joins them.</p>
    
            <p class="character">...</p>
    
            <p class="parenthetical">...</p>
    
            <p class="dialog">...</p>
    
            <p class="shot">...</p>
    
            <p class="transition">...</p>
    
            ....
            
        </body>
    </html>

    Only HTML files that are presented in this format are currently imported by Scrite. If your HTML is in another format, then you may want to manually alter the format (maybe using a shell-script) before importing it in Scrite.

    Do you have any suggestion on improving this? Get involved.

    Importing from Celtx

    While Scrite does not support importing from native Celtx files, it is possible to export to HTML from Celtx and then import that HTML into Scrite.

    Importing from Fountain files

    Screenplays in Fountain file format can be imported in Scrite for further editing and study.

    Support for Fountain format in Scrite was first suggested by a hobby screenplay writer called Kushal Kumar M, when he tried out Scrite-0.2.8-Beta. We have since received more requests for supporting this format. As of Scrite-0.2.15-Beta we have basic support for importing and exporting to Fountain format.

    Below a screenshot of Scrite showing screenplay imported from a sample hosted on Fountain’s website here. Its screenplay of a feature film titled “Big Fish”.

    Importing from Word

    If you have a screenplay in Word format, or perhaps RTF format, you can export the screenplay as a text file and then import it into Scrite using the Fountain import option. Watch the video below for details.

    Generating reports

    Scrite generates comprehensive reports by parsing your entire screenplay. Currently the app generates two kinds of reports

    • Character Report
    • Location Report

    Additional reports will be added in future updates. To generate a report, simply click on the “Reports” button on the toolbar and select from a list of reports presented to you in the menu.

    Character report

    Scrite allows you to extract character reports from your screenplay. A character report consists of notes and dialogues for one or more characters in your screenplay.

    Character reports can be handed over to the artist who portrays that character, so that they can study their character and prepare their lines before coming for the shoot.

    Notice that reports use the exact same page settings as PDF Export.

    Location report

    Location reports provide a summary of scenes at various locations in the screenplay. Such a report can help with production planning and scheduling.

    Get involved

    Scrite is an open-source project and it can surely use your participation. You can participate in the development of Scrite in several ways.

    • Software Development: Scrite is developed using Qt 5.13.2, the world’s leading cross-platform UI development framework. If you are a Qt developer, then you will feel right at home. To contribute patches to the code,
      • Please visit our GitHub repository and clone a copy of the code to your computer.
      • At some point, we will be providing comprehensive developer documentation, but for now the code itself is documentation. Kindly read the code and understand how Scrite works.
      • Pick up a feature or bug filed in our GitHub page. Implement the feature or fix a bug and submit a patch to us at scrite@teriflix.com.
    • Testing and QA: At the moment testing is mostly done by users of Scrite, which is great. However we would love to have people who can commit some dedicated testing focus on the app. If you are a software testing professional and would like to help us out with testing, please write to us on scrite@teriflix.com.
    • Feature Requests: If you are a writer, director or anybody who professionally works with screenplays and wants to suggest a feature; you can do so using the form below or writing to us on scrite@teriflix.com.
    • Marketing and Adoption: While we do our bit of marketing at TERIFLIX, the Scrite project could surely do with more marketing and adoption. Here are some of the ways in which you could help us with marketing and adoption.
      • If you are a writer and/or director, please use Scrite in your writing process and include an acknowledgement about it in your films. Let people know that you have used this app.
      • If you know writers and/or directors, please recommend Scrite to them. We would love to record a video episode with them and host it on our website and social media platforms.
      • Present Scrite at Film Festivals: If you like using Scrite and also like the way in which it is progressing, please take time out to present Scrite at Film Festivals near you so that more people may become aware of it. If you would like us to come and present Scrite, do write to us on scrite@teriflix.com.
      • Post about Scrite on Social, Print, Radio & Film Media. Don’t forget to tag #TERIFLIX and #Scrite in such posts.
      • Even if you are not a writer, use Scrite, create a screenplay and share it with your friends & family on Social Media, tagging both #TERIFLIX and #Scrite. It will help more people become aware of the product.
      • Submit a screenplay: If you are a professional screenplay writer and would be kind enough for share your screenplay with us, we would love to host it on our website for others to download, read and study. It would be great if you can download screenplays of a cult film and make it available to us in Scrite format. Screenplay for Memento on Scrite anybody?

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