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ross_h

.fountain for novelists

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I didn't pay much attention to the .fountain support in v1.3. I've always liked the idea of the markdown type metatagging you can do in plain vanilla text files, but I'd rather just write than worry about formatting the text until much later in the process.

 

One thing that has kept me from using Storyist is the prorpietry format of the storyist project files. I want to edit a manuscript on my PC as well as my iPAD, bouncing between the two via Dropbox. As I don't own a MAC, I don't have any way of accessing my files outside of my iPAD. Yes, I could just export as a text file, but that would mean I'd lose any metadata (such as synopses or comments) when I reimported the file.

 

I then started experementing with final draft format, still a propriety format but one at least that several 3rd part editors can import/export. But I finally tested out .fountain and was delighted to find out that Storyist parses the text file and allows you to work as if it was a normal screenplay document. It also saves your synopses and comments, as well as the index cards when you export as a .fountain text file.

 

Now it's not perfect. I found in a simple test that I'd loose my first synopsis and index card label when I'd export then reimport the file. Corruption seems to increase if you keep simply exporting and reimporting, probably due to the heuristic contextual processing of screenplay elements that don't have definitive tagging. It als doean't seem to support the section tag ("#") which I'm sure everyone recognises from the novel manuscript format.

 

However, it does seem to be a nice way of using the features of Storyist (excluding index card colors) while remaining in plain text format. I wonder if this import/export ability could be extended to the novel format and not just the screenplay. In fact, maybe it would be better to have a subset of .fountain tagging that could be done to novel manuscripts rather than potentually accidentally tagging upper case words as action or dialog:

 

Scene Headings (index card labels). Start line with a period -

.The Factory

 

Notes. Encase note in double square brackets -

[[this is a note]]

 

Synopses (text on index cards) - start (and end?) line with equals sign.

=this is a synopsis=

 

Sections. Use # symbol at start of line (up to 3 deep) -

#Chapter 1

##Beginning

###Intro

#Chapter 2

 

Other formatting commands could be added, for bold or italic text for instance, but anything not tagged would be considered body text.

 

Most of this can of course be done right now, just using the screenplay template to begin. However I think having a subset of fountain available to use (that won't confuse body text with screenplay tags) I think would be very useful.

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Hi Ross,

 

Thanks for the request.

 

I do think a simple plain text markup syntax for novelist similar to Fountain would be a nice addition. However, I'm not sure adding proprietary extensions/restrictions to an open format would be appreciated. Markdown would fit the bill if it supported comments and synopses.

 

As you mentioned, the current Fountain implementation does most of what you want. The section symbol causes heading-level styles to be created for the document, and you can use the synopsis and notes syntax to add comments and index card summaries. The downside is that to add the equivalent of Storyist sections, you'd need to use the scene heading syntax. Also, body text is assigned the Action style, which may or may not bug you.

 

-Steve

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Hi Steve,

 

yes I agree that fountain gives pretty much all I would want, more so than markdown. Unlike markdown, fountain does do some contextual parsing based on capitalization and line spacing rules (rather than tags) which may cause some issues in importing/exporting of a more loosely structured non-screenplay manuscript.

 

My thought wasn't to define a new syntax but to maybe allow for a more limited import/export using a subset of the fountain language; only those hierarchical elements that are actually defined in the manuscript with the rest assumed to be (action?) text. Still a valid fountain file, but one without any the screenplay specific elements.

 

The scene heading syntax for Storyist sections didn't bother me (a small price to have labeled index cards) although I failed to get heading-level sections created by the # symbol, although in my brief test I didn't center the symbol.

 

Defining the body text as 'action' may work better than 'unformatted, which is how I tried to do it. I will do another test tonight and see if I can get it to work.

 

I'd still like to be able to do this from a novel document setup, rather than having to use the screenplay onscreen keyboard but it's something I can certainly live with if I can get my test tonight to work.

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Had another play with this tonight and it seemed to work vey well using scene headings for index card labels and actions for body text (especially as it automatically defaults to action after a scene heading). I even got the nested sections using the heading1 - 3 style to work.

 

I did however find one or two issues.

 

The first scene heading while remaining in the manuscript view, loses its name (becomes "Introduction") in the index card view. The synopsis is also lost, although the comment I added was still there. I deleted the FADE IN: to create this first heading, maybe this was a mistake.

 

 

Comments, where blank lines between comment lines either didn't export to fountain (only the first line did, this happened once but I couldn't get it to happen again) or hitting enter at the end of each line exported as a space. Importing had the same issue where the fountain syntax wasn't strictly followed, where the comment in square parentheses below wasn't interpreted as a comment but as normal text:

 

----

 

His hand is an inch from the receiver when the phone RINGS. Scott pauses for a moment, suspicious for some reason.

 

[[This section needs work.

 

Either that, or I need coffee.Definitely coffee.]]

 

He looks around. Phone ringing.

----

 

...the 'blank' line splitting the comment actually containing 2 spaces, as per fountain syntax.

 

This also happened with synopses with either linefeeds or blank lines although I don't think there is a way to have blank lines in synopses using fountain so that's hardly surprising.

 

Otherwise, it worked better than I expected. Very happy.

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I did however find one or two issues. The first scene heading while remaining in the manuscript view, loses its name (becomes "Introduction") in the index card view. The synopsis is also lost, although the comment I added was still there. I deleted the FADE IN: to create this first heading, maybe this was a mistake.

 

Fountain defines the text before the first scene or section as the title page, which doesn't support comments or synopses. Storyist doesn't support importing one Fountain file to two project files (title page + script), and includes this content as introductory material. Just add a scene or section before your first comment or synopsis and you should be fine.

 

I got the following exported Fountain text when adding a chapter title to your example:

 

 

# Chapter 1

 

His hand is an inch from the receiver when the phone RINGS. Scott pauses for a moment, suspicious for some reason.

 

[[This section needs work.

 

Either that, or I need coffee.Definitely coffee.]]He looks around. Phone ringing.

 

 

 

Obviously, this is a simple case. I'd be happy to take a look at a more complete example if you'd like. Note that for compatibility reasons, Storyist uses the same Fountain parser as Highland, so you should see similar results there.

 

For those that are following along and are interested in experimenting with Fountain for novel writing, here is a short sample:

 

 

#Chapter 1

 

.Scene 1

 

= This is the synopsis text for the scene 1 index card.

 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum lobortis, sem condimentum mattis ullamcorper, sem lectus elementum felis, ut aliquet quam tortor vel orci. [[This is a comment]]

 

.Scene 2

 

= This is the synopsis text for the scene 2 index card.

 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum lobortis, sem condimentum mattis ullamcorper, sem lectus elementum felis, ut aliquet quam tortor vel orci. [[This is another comment]]

 

#Chapter 2

 

.Scene 3

 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum lobortis, sem condimentum mattis ullamcorper, sem lectus elementum felis, ut aliquet quam tortor vel orci.

 

.Scene 4

 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum lobortis, sem condimentum mattis ullamcorper, sem lectus elementum felis, ut aliquet quam tortor vel orci.

 

 

 

which results in the following when imported into Storyist:

 

FountainNovelTest.png

 

-Steve

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The title page support makes sense, however I did created the initial screenplay document in Storyist rather than starting as a fountain text file, which puts a FADE IN: automatically as the first line. I edited this to be a scene heading (and added the other parts of my test) before exporting to Dropbox as fountain. Turning this first line into a heading would be a more than acceptable solution.

 

The split-line comment syntax I tested I took straight from http://fountain.io/syntax, which I would assume to be official. But I mentioned it more because of the way Storyist has you typing notes in a virtual stickynote, that is is very tempting to make your note more legible by using separate (and the odd blank) line as you would with a bullet point list. While not essential by any means, it is the only practical part of this that the organization isn't retained between Storyist and fountain.

 

Well that and index card colors. I experimented a while ago with a python script and the Index Card iOS app to convert between the apps simple xml format and a pseudo fountain-type plain text syntax. I'd tried with Storyist but found the .storyist xml too complex to decode and to duplicate in plain text. By adding the color after the index card xml name (for instance, ".Scene 1[blue]"), I could easily retain any coloring I had done in the app and even add some if I could remember the colors when working in a plain text editor.

 

Unfortunately I ended up experimenting with python more than I did with the app and while the index card and colored synopsis display is excellent, the actual synopsis and body text input leaves a lot to be desired. Not something I would want to write for long periods with, certainly. The recent addition of fountain support brought me back to Storyist, and the workflow I had originally wanted to pursue but found I was unable to in the otherwise excellent app.

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Storyist 2.1 now supports fountain files for novel writers. To get this working, you need to add:

 

Type: Novel

 

...at the start of the plain text .fountain file you want to use. When you import this file into Storyist, you will get the novel keyboard layout (and not the screenplay one).

 

.

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Storyist 2.1 now supports fountain files for novel writers. To get this working, you need to add:

 

Type: Novel

 

...at the start of the plain text .fountain file you want to use. When you import this file into Storyist, you will get the novel keyboard layout (and not the screenplay one).

 

.

 

 

Thanks Ross. Yes, this is available in Storyist for iOS 2.1 and the soon-to-be-released Storyist for Mac 2.4.3.

 

I've posted a quick tutorial here.

 

Thanks for the request!

 

-Steve

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