This piece was written in May 2018 and since then I have had a few significant technical problems with Highland 2. I still think it's good but it hasn't reached it's potential yet and tech support is not as attentive as it could be.
I've been using Highland 2 for the last week or so and have moved both my current projects into it, alongside a studio re-write that I've ported in from Fade In.
I’m a recent convert to Fountain. When I first came across the format, I couldn’t see the advantage of having to type things (like space-dash-space to enter time of day) instead of using shortcuts and I missed all the bells and whistles of the more commonly used apps. But, thanks primarily to Slugline’s constant updates and improvements, I soon came to appreciate that writing in Fountain was more like an analogue system. Like pen and paper (or a typewriter) the bit of extra work actually gives the brain a little space to think. And because you’re always on the page rather than rooting around in menu systems or playing with card layouts, it’s actually easier to maintain focus on the work. I also grew to love being able to just type out any thoughts I have, either after an “=“ or between double-brackets, and know that these would be visible to me as I’m writing but invisible in the final output. Not having to go elsewhere to throw an idea down for a later scene is incredibly valuable.
And now enter Highland 2, which is John August’s upgrade on the first Highland and is not only a marked improvement on the first iteration but a game-changer, I think, for fountain as a whole. Highland 2 is beautifully designed and an absolute joy to work in. Within a day of buying it, I’d moved my two ongoing scripts and a studio re-write into it and, as of this moment, it’s hard to envisage ever going back. Sure, I’ll still use Fade In for final formatting and Scrivener for more complex projects where I’m mixing between prose and screenplay format but for straight script writing, I haven’t enjoyed using any software as much as I enjoy Highland 2.
That’s not to say there aren’t issues; the .highland format will, I’m sure, be amazing when it gathers a little more support but for now I’m keeping all my files in .fountain so that they can be worked on via Slugline on portable devices. The Highland format has huge potential but it’s not yet being realised. Also, I would love not to have to hit “return” twice when moving from, say, dialogue to action. Slugline took care of that problem a while ago, so I’m hoping Highland will follow suit in due course.
These are minor gripes right now, with a piece of software that retails for way less than most of its competitors and has so many great features built in that are useful without distracting from the task at hand.
If I were to write A Working Guide To Screenwriting Software today, it would be an awful lot shorter; it would just read “Get Highland 2”.