Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Screenwriting Software?


So the other day a co-worker popped into my office to tell me that the printer in his Department wasn't working. No big deal... I pressed the "online" button and presto! My work was done. However, on our way out the door he said "Oh, I meant to tell you that my son likes to screenwrite plays...". I guess he had seen the Website but had no idea I was a hobby writer. I always have time to chat about writing, so I asked the question "What does he like to write?"... I had a moment, I saw Bill Engvall in my minds eye, and the words Here's your sign" echoed through my head... "Movies!?!?" he replied.

He went on to tell me that his son had just finished writing a script for a feature length film, about 53 pages he said. "It's really good!" He exclaimed. Excited, I asked what it was about, and he said Pirates. Ask any of my friends... I LOVE PIRATES! I enquired about the plot, and how long it took him. That's when things got interesting. He said it took him a little over a year to get it all done. I wasn't going to comment about how long it takes to write a script since I'm still working on one I started nearly a year ago... But I did say it sounded a little short for a feature. Lowering his head, my coworker said. "Well, he got pretty frustrated because he was doing it in a word processor and was struggling with it". OMG! I couldn't imagine trying to write a script without some sort of program specifically for formatting and editing. What a nightmare! Now, don't get me wrong, it can be done. I'm sure it was in the days before Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter, but geeze! Why would you do that to yourself????!?!?!?!?!?!?

Go and buy some software! Buy it right away! Don't spend hours bashing your face on your keyboard because "for your convenience" your word processor is guessing what you are trying to do and changing all you tab stops and options. Don't do it! Just go... If you can't go directly to a store, eStore, or other retailer... Look on eBay for a used license... BUT buy the software. As an indicator of how prolific the use of these programs are, I would say that 95% of the contests I've entered accept .fdr documents. For that matter... So does the Writer Guild online script registry!

No wonder the poor guy got frustrated. Probably cut his script short to get away from it. Anyway, I suggested to my Co-worker that if he wanted to encourage his son, he should invest in some of the software for him. I gave him a list of the products and websites he could visit for some demo software. To be honest though... it's what you're comfortable with. If you are comfortable bumbling around in a word processor then by all means, do what you do, and don't give me a second thought. My experience has been that I spend more time being anal about the formatting of a script when I'm not using a particular package that the writing suffers. And it doesn't always need help to suck! So, I'll take one less headache, and a ounce of additional focus any day.

I also sent him back to for a look at the download section where I have posted my story outline worksheets, character development sheets, and a few other things that could help.

You should check them out too!!!!


- G

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