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Writing in the Screenplay Format
Writing in the Screenplay Format

Screenplay block types, formatting, and dual dialogue

Alice DuBois avatar
Written by Alice DuBois
Updated over a week ago

Introduction

Scripto combines the collaborative powers of Google Docs with the screenwriting power of Final Draft. The program allows you to create scripts that can be written in real-time with any number of collaborators.

Screenplay Block Types

Every chunk of text in a script is called a "block." Each block has a type. Based on the block type, Scripto knows how to format each block of text, automatically applying the correct alignment, margins, casing, and text formatting.

You know how character names appear in all caps while lines of dialogue are normal sentence case, and they have very different margins? All that formatting gets handled automatically just by assigning the right block type.

These are the block types that exist in the screenplay format:

Scene Heading is for describing where a scene is taking place. Eg. INT. OFFICE - DAY
Action is for action that can be seen or heard but isn't spoken by a character.
Character is for the people speaking in the script.
Parenthetical is for instructions on how a line should be delivered. Eg. quietly
Dialogue is for characters' lines.
Dual Dialogue is for two characters speaking at the same time.
Transition is for transitions between scenes. Eg. CUT TO:
New Act is for marking the beginning of an act.
End of Act is for marking the end of an act.
General is for text that doesn't fit into any other block type.

When your cursor is in a text block, you can determine its type by looking at the gray icon displayed in the left margin.


How to Change Block Types

You want to write easily without breaking your flow to think about formatting. Scripto predicts which block type you need based on context, and makes it easy to change the type if the default is wrong.

There are a few ways to change the block type:

1️⃣ TAB key – Press the TAB key repeatedly to cycle through the likely types.

2️⃣ Keyboard shortcuts – Each block type has a keyboard shortcut. (⌘1 for Scene Heading. ⌘2 for Action. And so on)

3️⃣ Block type menu – You can open the block type menu by clicking on the icon in the margin (or pressing ⌘K). Then select the block type that you want.

In some contexts, Scripto can guess which type you need based on what you've written. For instance, if the first thing you type in an empty line is ( Scripto realizes you want a Parenthetical block and updates the type for you.

Note: Shows on our paid plans can customize the default formatting for each block type.


Bold, Italics, and Other Text Formatting

You can manually apply bold, italics, underlines, strikethroughs or all caps formatting to any text in the script.

Scripto supports the standard keyboard shortcuts (⌘b to bold text, ⌘i will italicize text, ⌘u will underline text). There is also a text formatting menu in the upper tool bar.

To force text into ALL CAPS, click the up arrow. To revert back to mixed case click the Undo button or ⌘Z.


Dual Dialogue

How to type dual dialogue 

1. Choose "Insert Dual Dialogue" from the block type menu.

2. The format for dual dialogue will be set and you will see that the cursor is slightly left of where a single character lives. Type Character 1's name and press "Enter/Return" to type dialogue for Character 1.

3. Once you've typed the dialogue for the Character 1, press "Enter/Return" twice. This will move the cursor to Character 2.

4. Once you've finished typing the dialogue for Character 2, press "Enter/Return" twice again to exit dual dialogue. 


Page Breaks

If you want to start an Act or Scene Heading on a new page, you can manually insert a page break either from the block type menu or with the keyboard shortcut Command + Enter.

If you prefer to write in a continuous view without seeing dynamic page breaks, you can switch in pageless view by clicking the icon on the left side of the status bar (beneath the editor).


Manual page breaks will be visible in pageless view.

IMPORTANT

- Switching to pageless view is a personal view preference that only applies to the person who sets it. It will not apply to the document globally.
- The preference will persist across any document that you open – until you switch it again.

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