Paula Landry, MBA, is a writer/producer and consultant helping writers create strategies for INSPIRation, MOTIVATion & ACTivation to excel, improve storytelling, fusing business & creativity. Landry creates media business plans, marketing plans, movie budgets, coaching artists and teaching film business classes at NYU, SVA, Wagner College and MCNY. She’s co-authored This Business of FILM; and Sell Your Screenplay; and is the author of Scheduling and Budgeting Your Film. Connect via LinkedIn, @paulalandry on Twitter, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook #filmdreamers #mediaentrepreneurs #aflickchick
Can new screenwriting tools, like software, improve your writing to further boost your career? You’ve probably heard the phrase a million times, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!’ Yet how do we know if something is broken until we attempt to fix it? How about to start we just look in the toolbox.
3 Ways A Writer Can Improve Today
Consider 3 ways to possibly improve our writing, today! (Why wait?)
- How do I do what I do? Is it the best way for me?
- Could I improve it?
- Then at least take a look at how we do things. By things, I’m referring to your writing and creative process, including tools, your work and flow. It’s hard to always know if we’re right, unless we take a look at ourselves.
MovieQuote: Food 4 Thinking
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’
Bama: “It’s like when I'm right I'm right, when I'm wrong I could been right, so I'm still right cause I could’a been wrong, you know….”
So let’s start right there, what the heck IS your writing process?
- Do you use certain screenwriting tools, trigger, or times of day to create?
- Are the chunks of time categorized in any special order?
- Do you have accountability partners?
- Are you logging or journaling your progress or have specific goals?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, mommy pants. No, wait listen for just a sec, here are some ideas, take, them or leave them, but just consider that there’s a faster, better, cheaper way to accomplish your writing. These are:
Paula’s Process TIPS for Progress
You need tools and a process to excel. If the above questions fill you with a red hot shame, or a produce a blank stare, or artsy-flavored anger (“I can’t possible quantify, qualify or justify my genius!” As you flip your head in that aqua fedora storming out of the room), then you need an attitude shift.
Paula’s Process TIPS for Progress, Part 1. Which Screenwriting Tools Work Best?
You may be using the same tools, screenwriting software and the same old, same old - but let's get fresh - these particular screenwriting tools may not be serving your needs. Shake it up. Let’s start with your tools. Do you need to write on the go? With paper? Do you ever use a speaking, voice transcription feature on your phone?
New Screenwriting Tools: Software
Thanks to technology, there are more filmmaking and screenwriting tools than ever before so we have more choices. I’m not saying to get rid of what you’re using right now, just test some new programs and platforms to see if they work for you. NOTE: This is in no way an excuse to put off your actual writing work, therefore, don't make a meal out of it, try 3 this week, and 3 next week, etc.
Screenwriter Collaboration and Backups
How about a collaboration tool? Where are you backing up your work (you ARE backing it up, right?) in the cloud? Time machine? How about trying a cloud-based, online writing program with an auto-backup feature (mmm). There are more screenwriting programs than ever, those that intersect with a screenwriting method, rely on any text-based application, and often with simple, distraction-free modes to help focus the writer’s attention.
Personally, I think it’s easy to get stuck, and occasionally some new tool brings a sheen to my daily routine, or opens a new way of thinking so let’s keep things fresh and sample new technology from time to time.
Screenwriting Tools: Software, Apps and More
This is the first list of 13 programs (let me know your favs). The second group I'll post next time. These programs offer proper formatting, export to .PDF files, and most provide a variety of other tools such as reports. There are many differences between them, such as the user interface, variety of tools, and numerous import/export file format options, so it’s worth checking out the free trial period to see if they suit the needs of you and your project.
Final Draft software - Screenwriting software with story development, index cards, character arc and scene navigation tools, reports and a read aloud function. Considered the industry standard.
Celtx - Cloud-based screenwriting software with tools for outlining, adding notes and various media and offers easy collaboration features. It has grown from screenwriting to adding breakdown, scheduling, budgeting functions, as well as production reports, collaboration tools and storyboarding.
Truby's (Write A) Blockbuster - Screenwriting software with structuring, premise, character creation, rewriting and genre-specific tools. Created by screenwriting consultant John Truby, compatible with his method.
FadeIn - Screenwriting with numerous functions including a variety of output formats, scene timing, extract and join pages, dialogue tuner and session statistics. Offers index card, organizing, color coding, bookmarks and one-liner features to move and rearrange scenes. There’s a distraction-free mode.
Highland - Exports to FDX, imports from pdf, provides easy navigation and user-friendly formatting tools. Dark mode for late night writing, distraction-free mode, create markers to add ‘bookmarks’ enabling you quickly jump to specific sections.
Fountain - A minimalist writing app focusing on writing first, formatting later; enabling you to write in any text editor on any device. Developed with screenwriter John August, this is a plain text markup language that, due to its flexibility, developers are using as a foundation for new screenwriting programs and tools.
Movie Draft - Screenplay program with multiple views including individual scene view, outline and index card navigation, color-coded editors, and a scene timer. Includes a library of visual icons to use for navigating your story. Non-linear writing and editing functions, TAB and ENTER formatting.
Scripts - (iTunes) IPhone and iPad movie script writing app, scene numbering. Compatible with several different file formats. Dropbox integration, dictation support, offers image attachments to use for navigating your story.
Logline - Logline is a Mac based, plain-text, Fountain screenwriting and outlining app that lets you see the structure of your screenplay. Provides a variety of background visuals.
DubScript - A screenplay app to write, read and edit scripts for Android phones and tablets.
Adobe Story - Cloud-based screenwriting subscription service. For an additional add-on, Adobe Story Plus offers collaboration, scheduling and production reports.
Writer (iTunes) Mac-based screenwriting app based on the fountain language with outlining features, automatic formatting, exports to a number of formats.
Which are your favorites? I’d love to hear what you think, about the tools, your writing, films, progress & process! Contact me any time, and please ping me online, I’m in the midst of a transition, more about that soon.
But I’d like to leave you with 2 free offers: the offer one free coverage report for your synopsis or treatment (under 10pp) – we’re running a lottery from the first 25 people who email me in the next 2 weeks and 1 Free Ballpark Budget (low budget projects for scripts under 90 pp) since I do budgeting for TV/film/video/media - I will create a ballpark budget for the first 25 people who email me in the next 2 weeks. (email@example.com) Thanks so much for taking a look - Rock Your Writing!
INSPIRation, MOTIVATion & ACTivation for #creativentrepreneurs
- More articles by Paula Landry
- Don't Be a Writing Tool - Know Them! A Breakdown of Screenwriting Tools You Need to Know
- Balls of Steel: Writing Space + Writing Routine = Progress