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I've been on a quest for the last few years to find a screenwriting app that didn't suck.

First, there's Final Draft, the market leader. People have hated Final Draft for years. The support sucks, and their major version releases are always massive bug-fests. Not to mention, the performance of the app is slow, and it doesn't feel like an OS X application. It's Carbon and doesn't use OS X's spellchecker or Cocoa typography, so the font has a grainy look to it that's hard on my eyes after I've spent three hours churning out twenty pages of script. It's just not a very friendly OS X app.

Now, when Montage was announced, I was ecstatic. It was advertised as a a fully native Cocoa screenwriting app. I (and many others) was hoping for a modern screenwriting app to blow Final Draft out of the water. But since the first beta release, I've been very disappointed. First, the interface is pretty bad and not what I was hoping for. The app wants to be everything and actually has pages for research, notes, contacts, synopsis, and more. Look, I have note-taking research apps, thank you, and they're much better than what a screenwriting app is going to give me. I also already have an outlining app that's going to do outlining much better than it ever will. It feels like there's a lack of focus in Montage.

As for the actual screenwriting part of Montage, every single beta I've tried screws up its formatting when I type a few sample scenes. It's up to beta10 now, and it's still a mess. Montage has a Script view which is the standard word processor like Final Draft, and a Scenes view, which starts off with a cool idea. You create the script scene by scene, and can name the scenes. They're displayed in pretty rounded rects. But both Script and Scenes view are a mess. In Final Draft, if I type "int," Final Draft knows I'm starting a slugline and automatically creates that element. Montage does the same thing but puts the cursor before the "t" for some reason instead of after, so when I'm typing out a slugline, I always end up with "IN. SCENE NAMET" because I'm not paying attention to the fact I'm screwing up the INT. It also uses a non-standard method of inserting parentheticals on dialogue. There are many other quirks (renaming a scene in Scene view is weird).

I started my own app, learned how to use the Cocoa text system to create multiple pages like every word processor has (you know, with the gray space between the page ends, etc.). Got far enough to have some very basic element formatting. But I just don't have the time with my crappy day job to actually go through with the whole thing. I had all these great ideas for the interface and functionality.

I want a straightforward app with a script view (no weird abstract Scene views). I want to be able to create colored markers to the left of my pages to define my own sections in the script, like markers in Logic or Cubase, but with start and end points. I want to be able to reorder these sections on a whim, mark them visible or invisible, store them in a scratch bin for later use, etc. I want an app with a notes pane like Pages, with a yellow "sticky" with a line pointing to the section of text attached to the note. I want the ability to create a mini-database of authors with contact information for scripts with multiple authors, tracking the changes each one makes. I want the ability to record all changes and revert to a previous snapshot of the script at any time and view all the changes since (like Wikipedia pages). I want to be able to export to XML. And so on.

I so dearly wish this dream app would come to exist. If not by OmniGroup, who? Does anyone know of a Mac screenwriting app that doesn't suck? :(

Last edited by bonch; 2006-07-13 at 12:48 AM..
 
bonch,
I have to say that I agree with you, though the new version of ScreenWriter (aka Movie Magic ScreenWriter) is actually pretty nice. It's currently in beta testing, and I am very happy with the improvements.

It's Mac and Win (originally Mac), though the Mac version if further along in the beta process. They will have a Universal Binary available when they release the new version later this year.

Here's a link for the current version (which is nowhere near as good as the next version). They have a free demo download:
ScreenWriter web site.


James B
 
I've used Screenwriter, and it's got nothing like what I'm wanting. For example, I want to be able to create a named "section" out of a block of script elements and move it around in a playlist-like window, allowing me to rearrange a script's story on the fly by dragging sections around.

I want to be able to store different versions of a section in a scratch bin that I can swap out at will (I rewrite scenes, but I like keeping the alternate versions for comparison, so why should I have to store them in a separate scratch file?), have an individual edit history for each section ala Wikipedia that would let me go back to a specific date in time to see what the text in that section looked like and which author made the changes, and so on.

Using that built-in edit history, I want to be able to spit out any version of a screenplay at will ("You want to see what the script was like at 6:00 PM on February 2nd? Hold on, I'll tell OmniScreenwriter to spit out a PDF of the script from that date"). I also want to be able to designate named states for the screenplay, so that one evening I can mark my screenplay as a "Second draft," which would act like a bookmark in the edit history that I could refer to in the future ("Give me a copy of the second draft version of the script, I want to compare it to the shooting draft").

Essentially, I want screenwriting software that lets me organize my script and control it in ways no other screenwriting app currently does. I want to be able to mark out all the sections of my script by act, midpoint, turning point, etc., as well as sub-sections within those sections (funny part, sad part, introduction of so-and-so, etc.), ad infinitum--dividing the story up into smaller and smaller manageable bits. I also want tons of metadata tagging on these sections so I can easily categorize and search them. Right now I use OmniOutliner to plot out my stories, and tying into that as a starting point to begin writing would rock.

There are so many ideas I want to see in screenwriting software that would be such a huge miracle for the way I work. I hate that I don't have the time to follow through with it in Xcode and make a ton of cash. :) So I'm begging, PLEADING that OmniGroup does something like this someday. It should be a piece of cake to manage a 160-page first draft screenplay, and I want an application that lets me do so. Just thinking about this imaginary app excites me.

Last edited by bonch; 2006-07-22 at 04:16 PM..
 
Quote:
For example, I want to be able to create a named "section" out of a block of script elements and move it around in a playlist-like window, allowing me to rearrange a script's story on the fly by dragging sections around.
I hear that something like that may be available in the new version of ScreenWriter, and if it is it works great. ;)

As far as the "edit history", that's a great idea (I use OOP for that as well). You should submit your feature request to the folks at ScreenWriter. They have been very responsive to users with this upcoming version.

They have an ezBoard: ScreenWriter @ ezboard


James B

Last edited by WrongSizeGlass; 2006-07-23 at 07:31 AM.. Reason: Edited to correct 'tense' and poor grammar.
 
Is there a feature list for the next version of ScreenWriter? Screenshots?
 
Quote:
Is there a feature list for the next version of ScreenWriter? Screenshots?
Not yet. Those who are beta testers are under an NDA and cannot disclose details about the release.
 
Hello folks,

I am also an aspiring screenwriter and I came across an app that I think is a contender to become the killer app in regard to any type of authoring software.

It is called "Scrivener" and it is available for a free 30-day trial download and then the app is like $30 after that.

It just hit v1.01 - I know it sounds new - but I have been using it to develop my outlines and scene cards and it is a breeze. It completely kills the status quo (Final Draft and Movie Magic) and it makes the process of moving from outline to scene cards to authoring really nice and easy. And anyone who has been to or worked with Robert McKee will know that "writing from the inside out" is the only "proper way" to write good scripts. While that may or may not be true, whatever your writing technique, this app has a lot of promise.

It does need some more work in terms of templates and being able to build custom formats but I am sure that will come in time - especially if the user community grows.

One last thing, this app was developed by a writer who spent several years trying, like all of us, to get the existing apps to do what we wanted and after seeing what everyone wanted, he pulled the trigger and developed his own.

Download and have fun - oh, and HAPPY WRITING!!!

http://www.literatureandlatte.com
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleding
Hello folks,

I am also an aspiring screenwriter and I came across an app that I think is a contender to become the killer app in regard to any type of authoring software.

It is called "Scrivener" and it is available for a free 30-day trial download and then the app is like $30 after that.

It just hit v1.01 - I know it sounds new - but I have been using it to develop my outlines and scene cards and it is a breeze. It completely kills the status quo (Final Draft and Movie Magic) and it makes the process of moving from outline to scene cards to authoring really nice and easy. And anyone who has been to or worked with Robert McKee will know that "writing from the inside out" is the only "proper way" to write good scripts. While that may or may not be true, whatever your writing technique, this app has a lot of promise.

It does need some more work in terms of templates and being able to build custom formats but I am sure that will come in time - especially if the user community grows.

One last thing, this app was developed by a writer who spent several years trying, like all of us, to get the existing apps to do what we wanted and after seeing what everyone wanted, he pulled the trigger and developed his own.

Download and have fun - oh, and HAPPY WRITING!!!

http://www.literatureandlatte.com
I was going to suggest Scrivener ... it's not a fully-fledged screenwriting app and never will be. Keith, the author, developed it for his own novel-writing purposes but has included a number of "Text Modes" which include "Screen play" and "Stage play", the latter for both US and UK markets. Version 1.02 is due out very soon in which he has apparently responded to requests from professional screenwriters to fix the maximum line-length in Screenplay mode, plus a way to calculate and mark page-length to match Hollywood requirements.
It only came out as a commercial version ($35, a steal) at the end of last year/beginning of this year, but its version number belies its maturity as an app.
Bear in mind that it is intended to do the drafting of works; it is not a word-processor and he never intends it to be. Having created the text, the intention is that you should export the result to your favourite Wordprocessor, Page Make-up software ... or for screenwriters something like Final Draft for detailed formatting. That said, and without analysing your needs in detail, I think it meets most of them. Notes, keywords, tags, Status marking ... easy to split your text right down to paragraph/speech size chunks, and then view and edit them as a continuous text ... move them around ... snapshots to preserve the current version ... full-screen mode to write without distraction if you want ... Small footprint, fast to load and to work.
Don't just download it ... also go to the Forum; very active with a number of professional screenwriters, both Hollywood and UK, participating. Also novelists, translators, journalists, academics ... people writing doctoral theses ...
My principal use is for editing translations ... you can split the screen, so in the one app I can have the original text and the translation I am editing open side by side ... unbeatable.

Mark
 
Disclaimer: I am not a writer and have not evaluated this software with the criteria in mind that would be important to writers. I just like keeping on top of Mac software releases in almost every category.

And so, I mention this here because it doesn't appear to have been mentioned in this thread and it's relevant and it's freeware.

http://celtx.com/
 
Thanks justG. I updated my .98 version to .991 :)
I was also going to suggest Scrivener. Another one that comes to mind is NovaMindís ScreenWriter module.

Disclaimer: I have very little experience with these.
I use NovaMind for other purposes such as brainstorming, as well as in conjunction with Merlin 2 for Project Management.

Version 2 of Writerís Cafe is supposed to come out soon:
http://www.writerscafe.co.uk/

Jerís Novel Writer may also be an alternative. I havenít used it for a while now.

So much software, so little time. :)
Right now I just focus on learning the software I truly need for my workflow. Eventually Iíll get to play with the fun stuff.
 
 


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