There are many different ways to get your writing down on the page. From Microsoft Word and Apple Pages to specialised minimalist writing apps like Ommwriter and iaWriter, or even the old fashioned method of writing everything by hand in a notebook. I’ve covered writing apps in an earlier post if you’re looking for something new to try out. Writing is a personal business, as is finding the write method for being as productive as possible. I can certainly appreciate the benefits of nice stationery and a decent pen.
But what about digital options? I’ve become a huge fan of fountain and markdown formats over the last year or so. For those not in the know, markdown is a writing format that allows you to use any text editor and type, type, type without having to take your hands off the keyboard. Basically, it means that any formatting you need to do like headers, bold text etc can be completed with keyboard shortcuts.
Fountain meanwhile uses the same principles for writing screenplays, putting the emphasis firmly on your writing rather than formatting. Which, let’s be honest, is always a pain when it comes to a screenplay. Rather than having to worry about where to place a character name or a scene heading or a direction on the page, fountain does all the hard work for you, leaving you to focus on putting words to the page.
It’s all about their simplicity. Plain and simple. Sure, you can get things like markdown +, which gives you a few more formatting options than standard markdown. This could be a little much at times however, so I try to stick with basic markdown for most of my writing needs.
The beauty of the format too is that you don’t need a specialist writing app to use markdown or fountain. Any text editor – even the basic text editors that come preinstalled with your computer – can be used to write in markdown or fountain. In essence, it means that I can write anything I like in any available text editor and at any time, then import it into an app that formats the content and saves me a lot of work. Quite frankly, it’s been excellent so far. While I still use the likes of Pages and Word on occasion, the majority of my writing still takes place in a markdown or fountain compatible app. All of this was written in Ulysses (http://www.ulyssesapp.com/), for example.
So rather than worrying about the formatting of my document or script, I just write. Pure and simple, without wanting to use a Hear’Say pun. If you don’t know who Hear’Say are, don’t worry – not many people do and it’s not going to improve your life if you seek out their music. Anyway, I’m getting stuck on the pop music point – moving on.
If you want to read a little more about fountain and markdown formats, I can recommend visiting the following websites:
If you find that you can wrap your head around the syntax, you’ll likely never look back. Hope you get something out of this as I did.