TRUE INDIE: Prewrite review - A Visual Writing Tool That’s Well Worth Taking A Look At - Script Magazine

TRUE INDIE: Prewrite review - A Visual Writing Tool That’s Well Worth Taking A Look At

Rebecca Norris reviews Prewrite, a screenwriting app and visual writing tool to help writers stay organized and combat writer's block.
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If you’re like me these days, trying to navigate writing multiple projects and homeschooling a child while your sanity hangs on by an ever-thinning thread, then you need help. Something to keep your work organized and on track, so you don’t waste a minute of your precious writing time.

Enter Prewrite.

Prewrite is a visual writing tool, created by a screenwriter, to help combat writer’s block, so you never have to waste time staring at a blank page ever again. It allows you to fully outline your story, scene-by-scene and act-by-act, adding visuals along the way. Once your idea is fully fleshed out, you can quickly export your completed outline to Final Draft so you can jump right into writing your script.

The app allows you to view your story as a timeline, index cards, or in a traditional page view, as well as to organize and flesh out your characters, view story stats that reveal patterns in your story, and share or export your work.

You can use Prewrite for free for one story; for unlimited stories, a Premium option is available at $9.99 a month. Additionally, a team package is available with consulting and custom modules included.

Cool, huh? Let’s dive into the details and see what Prewrite can do for you.

See your story

In the Timeline view, you can both add new scenes and shift around the order of scenes, as well as flesh said scenes out with elements such as story beats (from Save the Cat, Hero’s Journey, etc.) and images to help with your visualization. Prewrite allows you to choose from an impressive collection of stock images through the integrated Unsplash search engine, or you can add your own.

Prewrite timeline

Timeline view in Prewrite

Another fab feature is that Prewrite allows you to assign a level of emotional value to each scene, which pays off later when you can visually assess whether or not the reader will be taken on a complete emotional journey in your story.

It’s notable to mention that you don’t have to build your story from scratch scene-by-scene. If you already have a completed draft of a script, you can import a Final Draft or PDF file and still benefit from the tools in Prewrite.

In the Cards view, you can view your story laid out in traditional index card fashion, as well as see which characters are in each scene and what the emotional value of each scene is at a glance.

Cards view in Prewrite

Cards view in Prewrite

Page view allows you to see your story laid out in outline form, complete with story beats and other useful information.

Page view in Prewrite

Page view in Prewrite

There are example stories in the Library, as well as a Help and Learning section available to help you catch onto how to enter a story into the Timeline and toggle between the different views.

Build character

The Characters function is one of the most unique features of Prewrite (IMHO.) You can search for an image of most any actor through The Movie DB, which is integrated into the app, or you can upload your own images as well. Adding in your characters allows you to insert them into each scene that you build on the Timeline, allowing you to easily track each character’s journey in your story and how many times they appear in your script.

Choosing actors to portray your characters can help tremendously with visualizing the action of each scene while you write. In addition to assigning images, you can also fill out each character’s age, demographics, want, and need, further fleshing out your characterization and your story as a whole.

Check your stats

Clicking on Story Stats reveals a wealth of information about your story. You can break down your script in multiple ways, including gender representation, racial representation, settings, tone, and plot threads.

Story Stats in Prewrite

Story Stats in Prewrite

You can also assess the overall tone and emotional value of your story, helping to increase the quality and viability of your script before you even start writing it.

Share well with others

One of the most useful features of Prewrite is its ability to export your outline directly into Final Draft. It works seamlessly—once you’ve built your story scene-by-scene, you simply click to download it to Final Draft and voilà! A complete outline pops up in Final Draft, ready to go.

Additionally, you can create a link that you can use to share your story via email or on social media.

Room to grow

One feature I would love to see on Prewrite is the ability to download your completed outline from Timeline, Cards, or Page view to a PDF directly from the app, so you can preserve the visuals. That way you could easily email outlines, images and all, to collaborators, producers, managers, etc., and you could print them as well. It would also be a helpful feature to be able to move the index cards around in Cards view and Page view to switch the scene order.

I had the opportunity to chat with David Rogers, co-founder of Prewrite, and he mentioned that their team is always working on improvements and additions to the app. They’re very open to suggestions and ideas, and respond quickly to communication from Prewrite users, which is fantastic to hear.

The bottom-line

As a screenwriter with multiple projects in the works, Prewrite has been a lifesaver. It helps keep my thoughts and ideas straight during these chaotic times. And since I need to leave the house in order to get any work done (to which any working mom with toddlers can attest), Prewrite allows me to have my outlines organized and available on-the-go so I can jump right into to work as soon as I hit a coffee shop. With both free and paid options, it’s definitely worth any screenwriter’s time to take Prewrite for a spin.

Start building your story at www.prewrite.com.

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