Welcome! This guide was written to help experienced screenwriters transition to Arc Studio from another screenwriting app, like Final Draft. We’ll go over the main features of Arc Studio and link to other guides where you can read about the subjects in greater detail.
Also, we’re happy you’re here! Arc Studio was created because we felt screenwriters deserved a better tool to help tell their stories. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let us know. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn we actually listen.
- Getting started
- New Script
- Importing an existing script file
- Writing flow
- Adding “Start of Act” and “End of Act” elements
- Changing script elements
- Via the element menu
- Via keyboard shortcuts
- Via element mode letter shortcuts
- Customizing Elements
- Focus Mode and Sprint Timers
- Keyboard Shortcuts (Quick Reference Guide)
- Exporting your script
- Collaboration and getting feedback
- Draft history, revisions, and tracking changes
- Outlining with the Plot Board
- AI Research Assistant
- Multiple Windows
To start a new script, navigate to the Desk and click “New Script” in the top right. Fill out whatever information you want in the pop-up window and click “Create script.”
Importing an existing script file
If you want to continue working on a script you’ve started in another app, don’t worry. You can easily import FDX, PDF, Fountain/Text, and Word files into Arc Studio. All you have to do is drag and drop the file onto the Arc Studio app window. (You’ll see a notification pop up at the top telling you to “Drop files to import…”
Alternatively, you can click “New Script” and then “Import” and choose the file on your computer. Then click “Create script.”
The basic writing flow on the page will feel comfortable and familiar if you’re moving from Final Draft or another screenwriting software. (Below we’ve gone into some detail on the flow, but the quick version of this is it’s very similar to what you’re used to.)
i/e.turns an Action element into a Scene Heading.
- After you write the location, hit
Tabto go to the time of day.
Returnto jump from the scene heading to a blank Action element below.
- Once you’ve written a Scene Heading (or Character name), Arc Studio remembers it and the auto-completer offers it as an option as you’re writing the script.
Returnin an Action element takes you to another Action element below.
- You can change this and go from an Action element to Character element instead. See: How Do I Change the Script Flow?
Tabin a blank Action element turns it into a Character element.
Tabin a blank Character element turns it back into an Action element.
Tabafter you’ve written the Character name takes you to a Parenthetical.
Returnafter you’ve written the Character name takes you to a Dialogue element.
Tabin a Dialogue element to go to a Parenthetical.
Returnto go to another Character element.
- If you prefer, you can change this and go from a Dialogue element to an Action element. See: How Do I Change the Script Flow?
Returnto go from a Parenthetical to a Dialogue element.
Adding “Start of Act” and “End of Act” elements
You can add act breaks to your script by switching to the “Television screenplay” elements template. Read how to do that here.
Changing script elements
You can change an element in a few different ways:
Via the element menu
Click the element icon in the margin to the left of the element you wish to change. This opens the element menu. Select which element you want to change it to.
You can also access the element menu by holding down
Ctrl on Windows).
Via keyboard shortcuts
When you open the element menu by clicking on the element icon (see above) you’ll see a list of keyboard shortcuts for changing the currently selected element.
Ctrl instead of
Cmd on Windows)
Via element mode letter shortcuts
If you hit
Return on any empty element, you’ll open up the element mode shortcut list. Type the appropriate letter to change to your desired element.
Focus Mode and Sprint Timers
Enter Focus Mode when you want to eliminate all distractions and get into the zone. Just click the Focus icon in the bottom left, or use the shortcut
You can set a sprint timer by clicking the clock next to the Focus icon and selecting a time. Toggle on “Nag me when I don’t write” if you want to be nudged back on task.
Keyboard Shortcuts (Quick Reference Guide)
The only shortcut you need to memorize is
K on Windows). This launches the Quick Reference Guide. You can search all the possible actions you can take in Arc Studio and see the keyboard shortcut for that action so you can learn it for the future.
Exporting your script
You can export your script by clicking the Export icon in the top right.
Collaboration and getting feedback
Since we’re cloud-based, Arc Studio makes it easier to collaborate and get feedback on your scripts. For more info, check out our detailed guide:
Draft history, revisions, and tracking changes
Arc Studio’s cloud-based approach gives you powerful tools to help you keep track of all your revisions and changes:
- Instead of folders full of files, all your drafts are in the app and accessible with a single click. Since the drafts are connected you can see what’s changed between the drafts and even bring back work you cut in an old draft.
- Instead of having to email files with elaborate naming conventions between collaborators, everyone comes to the app where your work is centralized.
- We keep tabs on everything in the background so you can’t forget to track changes.
To learn more, check out our comprehensive guide:
Outlining with the Plot Board
The Plot Board helps you figure out and organize all the beats of your story as simply as pinning index cards to a corkboard or writing on a whiteboard, but without the risk of a rogue shoulder brushing against the board and destroying your work.
- Organize your story beats with drag-and-drop cards and structure them in apps.
- You can collect notes on your story elements (characters, storylines, and locations) and tag the relevant beats with those color-coded elements.
- You can read and revise your story structure in paragraph form with Outline view.
- The Plot Board is connected to your script so all your notes on the beats, characters, and storylines are right at hand when you write your scenes. You don’t have to switch between different screens or reference your notes in another app.
For more information, check out our comprehensive guide:
AI Research Assistant
Arc Studio has integrated an AI research assistant so you can get answers to your questions without getting lost down an internet rabbit-hole. Learn more here:
To open a second window, hold down
Shift and click on whatever you want opened in the second window.
Access your Settings by clicking the gear icon in the top right. View all your settings by clicking ‘All settings’ or with the keyboard shortcut
, on Windows).