Why you should be writing in Fountain

If you’re writing a short film script, chances are your main occupation is studying. You know, film school. Perhaps it is only a hobby, you want to put an idea out of the paper, shoot that bastard and exhibit to your parents at Christmas’ Eve. If you’re writing in a regular text editor, then i feel sorry for you, because your formatting is possibly wrong. Yes, are you aware that writing for movies rely on a very specific format? In the case you don’t, google “screenwriting formatting” or something similar, you’ll find plenty of options. I never wrote about formatting and this ain’t the moment, because you may download a screenwriting software to do the drill for you. Just like that.

If you owe a mac and is really committed to get into the industry, you could ask your parents to pay the trifle of 250 USD for Final Draft, which is the industry standard. But you don’t have that kind of money, do you? And if you had, you’d waste on girls and booze. Then you could use Celtx, which is a cross-platform production application, with screenwriting included, and FREE. Within Celtx you have a problem as it doesn’t export as FDX, which is the Final Draft extension, only PDF, but besides that, i have my own issues with both applications and these screenshots will illustrate to you.

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 31 08 AM   Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 52 22 AM

Simply put: Celtx is ugly and clumpy. Besides that you don’t even have much of a choice to customize the layout. Final Draft looks better, looks essential, you may just start writing. Plus that its customization options are much better. When it comes to writing, i always prefer to keep it as clean as possible so i may focus on, you know, writing and shit. This is the best i could do to change the layout of these applications to let them as distraction-free as possible:

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 33 09 AM   Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 36 31 AM

You can’t deny that Final Draft still looks much better, it is like an invitation to write. But do you wanna know how do i write my screenplays now? Like this:

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 5 37 34 AM

That’s an application called iA Writer, it’s not a screenwriting application, but a distraction-free tool. After all that mess about formatting your screenplays, as you may check, i couldn’t care less about it. That’s because i use Fountain, which is not an application, but a syntax. Think of it as a language, like HTML or bbCode, but it has its origins on Markdown. Due to his nature you may use Fountain within ANY TEXT SOFTWARE. I chose iA Writer, but you may write your screenplay on Notepad/TextEdit if it pleases you. You’ll spend less time learning Fountain than you did trying to make a SUM work on Excel. As long as it writes, it may write a screenplay. Fountain gives you the freedom to write a screenplay in the application that fit you mostly and this is important because you must use the software that makes you more comfortable as possible. One of the creators of Fountain, John August, has posted a workflow from one of his readers which uses iA Writer, Scrivener and Highland. I’ve been testing it myself and it is lovable. If you don’t know Scrivener, it is the writer’s Photoshop. Costs 45USD, but worth every penny. Highland converts Fountain files into FDX or PDF and vice versa. It is free while in beta, but John August himself stated that it will be charged fairly whenever it goes live.

Another advantage of Fountain is that as a plain text, you may write it from your mobile, your uncle’s house. If there is a computer there, you have good odds to dig up some screenwriting time. Thanks to its format, Fountain makes it easy to send your screenplay to your friends and crew.

Celtx may be free, but Fountain is freedom. Freedom to choose your software, your workplace, your workflow. It’s about the job fitting for you, not the opposite.

4 Responses to “Why you should be writing in Fountain”


  1. 1 Jim McQuoid (@shizzster) November 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for the write-up. Trelby is a cross platform, free and open source screenwriting application that supports Fountain import and export. Try it!

  2. 3 chartographer December 9, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for mentioning Scrivener! Just letting you know that the next release will have full Fountain support, and thus Fountain -> FDX.


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