Cue: a markdown-style language For Storytellers

Download from GitHub

Introduction

Cue is a Markdown-style language for writing stories for print, screen, and stage. Because Cue is just plain text, it can go anywhere: Google Docs, Microsoft Word, post-it notes, napkins, or even your phone.

Cue began as a tool for writing radio-dramas, but during development the rules proved so flexible that the scope quickly changed. Cue is simple enough and powerful enough that you can use it for novels, plays, and comics, without having to bend the language in a way it doesn't support. This gives it a distinct advantage over Markdown, a language designed for writing webpages, and Fountain, which is designed for writing traditional screenplays. 

Syntax

Cue is designed to be intuitive and invisible whenever possible. It should look more or less exactly the same as when it's printed on a book or in a script.

Headers

Headers are marked by one of these four keywords and an identifier:

Act I
Chapter 1
Scene The First
Page 💯💃🎉

For headers that use a non-standard keyword (or that don't have an identifier), you can force a header by inserting a period at the beginning of the line.

.Prologue

Optionally, you can give each header a title by adding a hyphen.

Chapter I - An Unexpected Party

Description

Unmarked text is treated as ordinary description.

Jack went to the store to buy some milk, but he came home with a Jack Russell Terrier instead.

Or, if you prefer a screenplay-style of prose:

The door opens to reveal Jack, both arms wrapped around a nervous Jack Russell Terrier. There is no milk to be seen.

It inherits a similar inline syntax to Markdown.

Emphasis is marked by *asterisks*.
Links to images and other embeddable files are wrapped in [brackets].

Cues

The real power of Cue comes from the way it treats dialogue. Fundamentally, dialogue is just scene description targeted at a single person. This targeted direction is called a cue.

Jack: Whatever's written here is meant specifically for me.

Other cues can be targeted at other people and departments. Indeed, any part of the mise-en-scene can have a cue if it suits the writer and production team.

Audio FX: This is a cue for the audio department.
Cut to:

That last line is an example of a self-describing cue. It doesn't need any further description because the cue name is the description.

Cues that are meant to overlap with each other can be marked with a caret.

Jack: This is a line of dialogue.
^Jill: This is a line meant to be spoken at the same time.

Lyrics

Cues that are meant to be sung are marked with a tilde.

Jack: ~This is a song
~That extends multiple lines
~And in theory could go on forever...

Facsimiles

The begining of a letter (or sign, et al.) is marked with a right angle bracket.

> Dear Mr. Potter,
> You are out of eggs.
> Love,
> The Dursleys

Whitespace

Note that whitespace in Cue is generally ignored, allowing you to align lyrics and cues however you please.

Line spacing is also simply a matter of taste.

This is line #1.
This is line #2.

This is line #3.

Thematic Break

A line of three or more hyphens becomes a break.

It was the last she ever saw of him.
---
Five years later, Buttercup was betrothed to a prince...

Comments

Comments can be extremely useful for sharing notes with yourself and your collaborators, without those notes appearing in the final project. You can add a comment to the end of a line using //.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.// consider revising

Ending

Every great work deserves closure. When you've reached the end of your story simply put:

The End