Last month, I wrote about the retail version of screenwriting Mac App Highland from Quote-Unquote Apps, based on the Fountain markup language. The major selling point for Highland is its ability to melt PDFs into Fountain-based text files that can be edited and exported as either formatted PDFs or Final Draft (.fdx) files. Today, Slugline arrives, a new screenwriting Mac App now available for purchase that is also based on Fountain. What is Slugline's major selling point for screenwriters? Simplicity.
For a quick peek at Slugline and what it offers in the way of a streamlined screenwriting app, check out the company's video below:
The creators of Slugline, Stu Maschwitz and Clint Torres of Act Focused Media, have kindly provided No Film School with a review copy of their app, and after taking it for a test drive for a few days, I'll post a more thorough review. In the meantime, let's talk about what Slugline has to offer.
First, for longtime No Film School readers, you may recognize Stu Maschwitz's name (if not, know your history). Stu collaborated with screenwriter John August to develop the Fountain markup language. Not surprisingly, John August and his Quote-Unquote Apps partner Nima Yousefi are part of the Slugline advisory team. You see, Slugline isn't a competitor product to Highland. Rather, it's a companion product. Don't believe me? Just ask John August himself:
Also, Slugline isn't trying to replace screenwriting applications designed with all of the production bells and whistles in mind. Instead, Slugline wants to be the app you use when you write your first, second, thirteenth, and fortieth drafts before you need to share it with the full production team.
Perhaps the most important feature of Slugline is the full-screen mode, which lets you remove all distractions from your screen so you can focus on the writing. This, in combination with the simplicity of the formatting, is where I think I'll find the most value with Slugline.
The concept of Fountain as a simple, future-proof way to write screenplays has also intrigued me, but I'm personally not a big fan of writing in a plain text editor. I'll admit it. I like a little bit of formatting in my GUI. Slugline looks like a marriage of the two: use Fountain's rules and Slugline intuits how to format your screenplay while you write on the screen in real-time. Nice. Oh, and you can use Courier Prime. Even better.
Now, this does mean a little retraining of the brain. To use Slugline, you need to know how to write in Fountain. Fountain understands the formatting rules of screenwriting (INT or EXT means a scene heading, character names are in UPPERCASE, the next line after a character's name is dialogue, etc.). Using Fountain's rules, Slugline lets you format by typing. For example, to italicize, use *asterisks*. To bold, use **double asterisks**. To underline, use _underscores_. Don't want to type to format? Fine, Slugline will let use you use ⌘I for italics, ⌘B for bold, and ⌘U for underline.
While Slugline is a Mac App, you can save your files to a cloud service, like Dropbox, and open them with any text editor to keep writing in Fountain format. This means you can use iOS text editors like Byword and Elements to continue writing on your iPad or iPhone. Slugline creators think even DroidEdit Pro on Android may open and be able to edit Fountain files from Slugline.
Slugline also offers outlining capabilities plus the ability to add notes to yourself in the middle of your screenplay. Since I have used completely separate tools for each of these capabilities (namely, pen, paper and notecards), I'm not sure I'll be using Slugline for my outlining and notes, but it's good to know it's there.
I'm in the rewriting phase of my current script with some serious work ahead of me this coming week. I plan to translate my script from .fdx to Fountain using Highland, then opening the Fountain file in Slugline to check out the new app. After using Slugline for a few days, I'll post a more specific review.
Want to try it yourself? You can buy Slugline now in the Mac App store for $40.
What do you think about Slugline from this initial announcement? Do you think this is the Mac App for screenwriting that you've been looking for? The screenwriting app you never knew you needed? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments.