How to write a radio script in Fountain

Aside from writing a bunch of books and short stories, I also write fiction podcast scripts. Luckily, the fiction podcast space isn’t so rigid as other industries, but still, there’s a few conventions I stick to in order to make everybody happy.

I write all of my fiction podcast scripts in Fountain. It’s free, portable, literally, and can be converted to almost anything, even Word files.

Sidebar, [try the Audio Drama directory or the Fiction Podcast directory.

This isn’t going to be a guide on Fountain. The Fountain syntax is the best place to learn how to write in Fountain. This is a testimonial as to what I do after the writing process.

Because I’m blind, writing in plain text and then formatting it later is the best workflow. If you’re a visual learner, fountain isn’t the best thing for you. It’s plain text with special characters.

You can write text with any program, on any device, so why not take advantage of that portability?

The challenging bit comes in after I’ve written a fully-fledged script.

I write in LibreOffice and even Word with some special autocorrect keys set up. For example, if I type, BBL, it transforms into, "I’ll be back later."

I’ve added a bunch of autocorrect entries to help with capitalization and dashes and similar, so, for example, if I type, EXT/, it transforms into EXT. LOCATION — TIME and it does it in all caps.

The script is the easy part. I just open my program of choice and start typing.

Saving in Fountain.

When I’m all done, I make sure to save it as a .fountain extension.

For a step-by-step on how to save a document as a fountain file, do the following.

  1. Finish your document.
  2. Press Control, S, to bring up the save dialog box.
  3. Be sure to save the extension as a .fountain, dot Fountain, file. Instead of .ODT or .DOCX, save it as a .fountain file.

alternatively, you can save it as a plain text file and then change the extension name later.

  1. Finish your document.
  2. Press Control S, to bring up the save dialog.
  3. Save it as a .TXT, dot T X T, file.
  4. Go to that TXT file you saved, hit shift F10, go down to, rename, and then change the extension to a .fountain file, dot fountain file.

Writing and saving is the easy part. It’s the formatting and submitting process that’s the most time consuming, but even that can be streamlined a bit, especially in my case.

I don’t write in online editors like Google Docs because I’ve found it to be very slow and clunky, plus, it doesn’t have a robust autocorrect system the way Word and LibreOffice do. Their autocorrect system is very basic and most of the time doesn’t even work.

But Let’s get to the meat of this post, the formatting and conversion!

Formatting a script using Pandoc and other tools.

A lot of tools can open, and read, fountain files, so, in most cases, you can save your script in a Fountain file extension and send that over. The producer can open the script in anything they want and it will come out nicely formatted. For those times when they insist on another format, though, that’s where the below comes in handy.

Even though Fountain is very portable, not every podcast producer I’ve worked with could open Fountain files or even work with Fountain files, so I needed a way to convert the Fountain file into Word format.

There’s a fantastic open source tool to convert Fountain into HTML and PDF but it doesn’t support converting to Docx format. Plus, even if Word can open PDF files, it just isn’t a solution for everybody. PDF doesn’t work well with screen readers unless tagged, and, this is just my personal opinion, it’s very clunky, bulky, and, ironically isn’t all that portable in my opinion. I like lightweight documents and lightweight workflows and PDF just doesn’t cut it for me.

That being said, if your producer wants a PDF file, Wrapped will be everything you need and you can stop reading!

If you need a way to convert Fountain into Word, Pandoc can do this with a custom interpreter.

First, you need to get Pandoc for your operating system and install it.

Pandoc can convert a whole bunch of things, so I’d encourage reading the user’s guide to Pandoc if you want to explore other capabilities.

Then, you need to download this custom interpreter for Pandoc to convert Fountain to Docx files.

If you don’t know how to download github repositories, expand the code, button, and then click on download as Zip.

Unzip the file, and then make sure to put your script into the unzipped folder.

Using Pandoc, navigate to where you unzipped the custom interpreter that also contains your script file.

Run this command, replacing the input and output file names as needed.

pandoc -f fountain.lua --reference-doc fountain-ref.docx sample.fountain -o sample.docx

One thing to know about the instructions, I don’t know why, but they didn’t work unless everything was on one line for me.

For example, the Windows code only works if you have it on one line, like this.

pandoc -f fountain.lua --reference-doc fountain-ref.docx sample.fountain -o sample.docx

That’s it! While it’s not as quick or fluid as sending over a Fountain file directly, this will make sure your scripts look fabulous while writing everything in plain text.

Thanks for reading, support me financially and or Send your reply link via email so it can appear on my reply page.