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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

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If you were to design new screenwriting software what would you want it to include

Hey Guys,

I'm sick of screenwriting software, there has been very little innovation in this space since the release of final draft pro. Commercial software is over priced, and the different packages are a cookie cutter copy of each other. Most have terrible usability and try and tie you into a writing process that is not natural or organic. It's not even worth checking out the free ones.

I was wondering if any writers out there could tell me what you want out of screenwriting software? Questions to think about are outlined below:

What's your current software?
What irks you about it?
What do you like about it?
What features would you like to have?
How do you work (outline everything, work with a writing partner, write by the seat of your pants, etc)?
How does your workflow and requirements change from the planning and rough draft stages to the final draft?

Please take some time and think about what you would require from the ultimate screenwriting software package, no feature is too large or small.

If you want to go into more detail than you feel comfortable disclosing here please email me at ryan@disordinary.com, all correspondence is of course confidential.

Thanks

- Ryan

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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Shifty
From: Oamaru
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 874

Don't really have to think about it much :)
I've just finished my SIT course on screen writing and we used nothing but MS Word or the Mac equivilent.
first off it's a brilliant course and I recommend it totally.
Starting off I had real difficulty, I'm not one for hotkeys but i persisted and now I can write correctly formatted scripts as easily as touch typing.
There's no need for fancy software, you can do everything on Word, you just have to plug in the correct hotkeys for the various sections of the script and away you go.
As i say at first I hated it but after a while it becomes second nature and the way it's laid out on the page actually starts to make more sense the more writing you do as it's easier to see what isn't working and what is. Also it's easier to disregard big chuncks of stuff you've written if you quickly want to recheck or rewrite something concerning just one character.
Simple is best.
Remember there is JUST ONE standard form of script format that is accepted everywhere. Learn it and use it because if you send a draft script off to a professional script editor they won't look at it unless you have the correct formatting down pat.
My advice, throw away the software, all you need is Word and 4 hotkeys, if you spend any money elsewhere you're being ripped off.
for the life of me i can't understand how any software could help you write better or easier. Writing comes from the heart and having a totally fucked up imagination.

I write solo, no one could stand working with me and i probably couldn't stand working with them. :)
Just trust yourself Ryan and quit pissing about with people trying to suck you in selling snake oil.

2013 - Nimlin Productions - Full House - Obsessive Relationship Movie
2012 - Nimlin Productions - Hira's Tree - Urban Legend
2011 - Divide That By 9 - No Country For Fake Women - Crime
2010 - Off To The Accountant Films - The Meek Shall Inherit - Twin Movie - Regional Finalist
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clang
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 197

Any specialist software would need to prove itself better than good old Word, simply coz Word is so convenient and I use it for all my other writing.

One feature I'd definitely like is better collaboration tools, either for co-writing (I'm apparently not quite as obnoxious as Shifty :) ) or comments from production staff etc - Word's Track Changes tool is great, but can't really handle comments upon comments upon comments.

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Thanks Guys,

But there is a benefit to screenwriting software, with Word its had to keep an overview of the entire screenplay. Something like Word is great for the first draft, but for subsequent drafts, rewriting, etc. It's important to have some sort of structure.

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Clang, have you ever had experience with Final drafts collabowriter feature?

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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Shifty
From: Oamaru
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 874

in reply to clang:

(I'm apparently not quite as obnoxious as Shifty :) )

Hey I'm not obnoxious I'm just your everyday arsehole with a god complex.

Does make you wonder though just how did writers get on when all they had to use was typewriter, obviously there hasn't ever been a decent script written before Windows hit the market. :)))))

2013 - Nimlin Productions - Full House - Obsessive Relationship Movie
2012 - Nimlin Productions - Hira's Tree - Urban Legend
2011 - Divide That By 9 - No Country For Fake Women - Crime
2010 - Off To The Accountant Films - The Meek Shall Inherit - Twin Movie - Regional Finalist
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clang
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 197

in reply to ryan:

Nope, have heard of but never used Final Draft. Its _apparent_ downside is that it's only designed for screenplays, whereas I'd prefer something equally suitable for writing articles, short stories, novels etc. That's just me - someone who mainly writes screenplays may well love a more specialist tool like FD.

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Hey Shifty,

Of course screenplays were written without software - they required alot of paper and planning. I'm just saying - for me at least I like to bash out a first draft then when it comes to rewriting the script I'd like tools to help me structure that first draft for subsequent drafts.

Clang: Final Drafts main downside is that its a basic bit of software that costs $200 US. Just out of curiosity, if you want software with better collaboration features than word why don't you use google docs?

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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Craig Parkes
From: Auckland
Since: Mar 2011
Posts: 135

Haven't really been playing with CeltX for a while, has it become problematic as the 'free' alternative?

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Shifty
From: Oamaru
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 874

You know this is kinda interesting, I'm actually really confused as to just what these tools are? Seriously.

I come up with an idea, play about with it in my head for a bit. Figure out where it starts and where it ends and then think okay how do I get from one point to the other. Then I imagine all the characters, put myself into their personalities then I think to myself "am I the only person on the planet that would find that funny?"

If all that fits together I write, I read, I refine.
Every word of dialogue I write or read I am that person whether it be Claire the checkout girl or Bob the bastard.

It has lead to some interesting afternoons when in typing away in full flight I've been humping myself furiously in a brothel :) But that's another story. :)

So just what the hell are these tools, for the life of me I just can't imagine a piece of software that'll help my imagination believe (as in my curent story) I'm a 4ft 8in 14 stone nyphomaniac scientist who's being rogered by a 6ft 6in gangly co worker who's testicals have been schrivelled by radiation and is having to use a strap on test tube as an alternative.
If there is such a piece of software, I probably wouldn't use it, more fun to imagine it myself. :)
However it does interest me just what this software is supposed to do.

2013 - Nimlin Productions - Full House - Obsessive Relationship Movie
2012 - Nimlin Productions - Hira's Tree - Urban Legend
2011 - Divide That By 9 - No Country For Fake Women - Crime
2010 - Off To The Accountant Films - The Meek Shall Inherit - Twin Movie - Regional Finalist
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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Nope its not about helping creativity but helping you organise thoughts.

I saw a piece of software that forced you to outline all the scenes, create all the characters, assign relationships between each character with multiple places to add information detailing how the characters relationship changes throughout the screenplay. Assign characters to each scene outlining their goals, actions, how they change, etc. All this before you can put pen to paper.

Some people might find this setup logical and useful, to me its a severe creativity killer.

Screenplay software helps by taking away the little annoyances such as formatting, it auto types in things that it can such as int,ext, scene slug lines, character names. It tracks information so if you are working on one character in particular you can tell it to generate a report on all scenes containing said character, etc.

As you say there are lots of tools for actual production, scene breakdowns, A/B Revisions, etc. But there are lots of time savers that help writers.

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Hey Craig,

Celtx is great, however it's not really free - some features require paid addons, some require a celtx account. It is also half baked and too many resources are being allocated to services that celtx makes money on to keep working on the core screenplay application. It's a whole lot of half baked extras on a half baked product.

The best free one is adobe story but this is only free until 2012, from then it will be $29US a month.

It's also lacking features.

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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Shifty
From: Oamaru
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 874

Nope its not about helping creativity but helping you organise thoughts.

I haven't had an organised thought since I was three, I'm not sure i could actually cope with one. :)

I'm not sure any of those features would help me, maybe the character report one but i seem to be able to remember what and where a character is heading (lord I hope that's not a sign of an organised thought).

By the sounds of it though there are as many problems it creates as it solves so why bother. Perhaps I'm just old fashioned and stuck in my ways but if it works for you then use it.
As for the auto sluglines etc my keyboard is setup so as I'm writing it's F7 for character name, F6 for a wrylie, F5 for dialogue, F4 for action and F3 for slugline, couldn't be simpler.
That being said I'll put on a brew, have a fag and get back to being a nympho :)

Thanks for the info though.

Nice to see the board actually being used though and hear to from a few of you out there.

I wonder how Hamlet would have turned out if Bill had Final Draft :)

2013 - Nimlin Productions - Full House - Obsessive Relationship Movie
2012 - Nimlin Productions - Hira's Tree - Urban Legend
2011 - Divide That By 9 - No Country For Fake Women - Crime
2010 - Off To The Accountant Films - The Meek Shall Inherit - Twin Movie - Regional Finalist
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NITRO
From: Wellington
Since: Mar 2011
Posts: 383

Multi user Object level check-out/check-in is the only feature I would really like to see added to celtx. If it had that it would go from great to phenomenal overnight.

Especially for the price!

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

Would you want check out / check in or collaborative real time editing such as in google docs?

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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CraigWB
From: Auckland
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 420

Being a mac user I'd just like the lion version to drop the scroll bar area and make the toolbar which I hide anyways made thinner.
If I wanted to think up some crazy feature It would probably be some form of script analysis which churned the script and gave you a feedback report afterwards which detailed wether or not it made sense and was any good, this feature could work well for 48 hours.

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undeadbus
From: Dunedin
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 71

in reply to ryan:

Would you want check out / check in or collaborative real time editing such as in google docs?

Depends on who you are working with, doesn't it?

I'd say build in both. Let the user decide which type of editing they will allow for that script in a preferences / options screen.

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ryan
From: Wellington
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 237

How about the ability to fork a script so that you can seperate it into two working documents with the ability to merge it at a later point?

Was RyanM on the old forum.
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Rocket Boy
From: Christchurch
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 43

There has been development of a simple formating language for writing screenplays that gets around the whole issue of what software to use.

Basically you write in a plain text editor using formatting commands so the screenplay can quickly and easily be converted into a proper format for distribution.

Since you are not working in a particular software package you have more freedom.

The formatting language is called 'Fountain' and an example of a converter (for Mac) is 'Highland'. Details of Fountain & Highland are here, and there is a lot more about it here at Prolost

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c0ina
From: Auckland
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 297

what's wrong with what stu maschwitz and john august are doing?

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c0ina
From: Auckland
Since: Apr 2011
Posts: 297

oh shame, i didn't read matt's post immediately above mine. can't delete post haha.

sorry matt, haha.

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