Screenwriting software and assistance in writing novels, scripts, etc.

Writing stories is a rather complex task that requires to process and store a lot of information: summaries of plots and sets of characters, notes on the space and time, the themes, the valuesdialogues, style, redacted parts etc.

The authors therefore encounter a problem with the organization of work.

Fortunately there are a number of screenwriting and writing assistance softwares, either specialized or underhand.

To manage a writing project

Microsoft OneNote for writing a novel or screenplay

SoftwareMicrosoft OneNote
EditorMicrosoft
PlatformMac, Windows, Linux
Software type / usageNotes management

Microsoft OneNote is an Office Pack software and is used for organizing notes and information, in a notepad system having tabs that have pages and subpages – a large, well-organized writing space!

This software is very useful during the research / brainstorm / elaboration / development phase, because unlike all 2D word processors, which remain purely linear, OneNote makes it very easy to create, manipulate, mix, delete frames of texts, lists, to add diagrams, to classify notes taken by notebook then by tab then by page then by sub-page.

Microsoft OneNote allows you to keep daily writing logs.

writing journal allows you to develop your materials on a daily basis while keeping track of the creative process. We can come back to it days or years later, and find the thread.

Microsoft OneNote is a good place, more than Microsoft Word, to keep such a diary, because thanks to the immediate accessibility of pages, we always have the place we are looking for just a click away: we can zap from one page to another, make an outline in the diary, develop an idea in a page, then come back to note the result of the working session and define the next steps in the diary.

Microsoft OneNote allows you to structure the documentation of a story.

It suffices to devote one of the notepad tabs to documentation, then to create pages in this tab on each aspect to be treated.

And to store, classify and develop the documentation of a novel or screenplay writing project, using tabspages and sub-pages.

Microsoft OneNote allows for brainstorming.

Its very intuitive text frames are very practical for jotting down ideas in bulk and then associating them, developing them, integrating them elsewhere once developed.

Microsoft OneNote makes it easy to write.

The word processor is even very practical for impulsive, spontaneous writing, since with one click you can start entering text anywhere on the page, then easily manipulate this text, crop it or integrate it.

You can easily devote a tab to writing a particular part, then use one page per scene. It is more convenient than managing Microsoft Word documents.

To develop a story project

Dramatica Story Expert / Dramatica Pro – dramatic writing assistance software

Software Dramatica
Editor Write Brothers
PlatformMac, Windows
Software type / usageDramatic writing

Specially designed for assisting dramatic writingDramatica, rather ugly graphically, is quite interesting from the point of view of dramatic technique, even if its methodology is not classic.

Dramatica makes it possible to deal with almost all aspects of a dramatic development: building the timelines, building the characters into systems,  and editing text.

In addition, each software subsystem is accompanied by very educational mini-tutorials illustrated with famous examples.

On the other hand, Dramatica is very rigid in its concepts, and its methodology turns into a ridiculous obsession.

Thus in the “ Master Story Engine” module, dozens of parameters can be adjusted…

Dramatica Expert 5

Dramatica Expert 5. Master Story Engine

The problem with this plethora of parameters is that most of them will never get used, or that most authors never treat them so formally: it is artificial and overly technical.

In the “Plot Progression” module, you can visualize your stories as stages and transitions between these stages.

Dramatica Expert 5

Dramatica Expert 5. Plot Progression

All the modules use the same kind of concepts which are at the same time very abstract, impractical, incomprehensible, and impossible to remove.

In short, Dramatica has very good ideas – the idea that you can formalize the construction of a story – but loses its way in the imposed and rigorous use of a fanciful narrative theory.

Databases

Database – OpenDB, Access, Filemaker etc. – as long as you know how to make and manipulate them, can help you build your own custom system of story development.

To preview a story with an animated storyboard

Powerpoint / Slideshow softwares for writing novels, screenplays, stories

Slideshow softwares can be useful to help building and visualizing a scenario step by step. We will thus be able to follow the story slide after slide.

You can do one file per plot, then integrate everything into a general file, and review and edit the story that way, very intuitively.

It can be preformatted like a card system.

It can also be used to manage characters sets.

To maintain and organize lists of characters, themes, plots

Mindmap Manager to write a screenplay, a novel

Mindmap Manager is a “mind map” tool that can be used to create, manage, prioritize and relate data fields.

It is very practical to structure lists of themesactionscharacters, and to confront / compare them, by connecting them.

To create a timeline

Microsoft Storyview

Storyview is a software specialized in writing timelines.

You can prioritize a story by actssequencesscenes, and plot points.

The problem is that this software has many flaws: it is ugly, rudimentary, not very ergonomic and not customizable.

To really develop a text in this interesting hierarchical form which permanently retains the overall coherence, you have to constantly scroll across the screen, twist your neck and adapt the scale (which often makes the text difficult to read, which ultimately makes the function of little use).

Corel Draw as software for scripting a story

It is basically a vector drawing software

But it can be used to

  • stage character sets in graphic form (very useful to visualize what we imagine)
  • create event timelines
  • create a map of places and their staging during the narration
  • etc…

To write a story, a novel, a synopsis, a treatment, or a script

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word gives writers, screenwriters, and other authors advanced features that can be used in writing a novel or screenplay.

SoftwareWord
EditorMicrosoft
PlatformMac, Windows, Linux
Software type / usageWord processor

From linear 2D text to 3D editing

Microsoft Word is the word processor we all know.

Problem is, it’s seemingly limited to linear 2D text – sentence after sentence, page after page.

Fortunately Microsoft Word offers a mode as interesting as little known: the “master document” mode.

Build a synopsis or a process with the “master document” mode of Microsoft Word

For long projects, authors often encounter a practical problem: that of finding their way around too prolific documents of several hundred pages.

The “master document” mode allows you to integrate the content of a Word document into another Word document.

If you modify one of the documents, it will be automatically updated in all the other documents that call on it.

Thus, we can create a general master document, which imports several master documents corresponding to the chapters of the story, which import several master documents corresponding to the sequences, which finally import simple documents which correspond to the scenes.

It is therefore possible to write your story at any scale without having to manage an enormous document: at the level of a scene, a sequence, a chapter, or all of the work.

You can also create master documents which integrate the parts of a plot :

  • We then create a new master document that integrates the sequences and scenes of various plots, in the order of the desired final cut!
  • If we want to ensure the coherence of a plot, we go back to the document which imports all the parts (on the left above).
  • If we want to ensure the consistency of the final story, we go back to the master document which integrates all the parts in the desired order! (right above)

For example, imagine you’re writing a story in Pulp Fiction : told in the disorder.

  • It will suffice to write it in order, cutting it into parts.
  • All these parts are imported into a master document composed in chronological order.
  • Then these parts are imported into another master document compound in disorder.
  • So we can have the same story in order and out of order – and if we change a word in one document, it will also change in the other document.

Write from a synopsis or treatment

If we have a story outline, a synopsis or a treatment, we can obviously take these instructions in Word, assign them a particular style, and use them as a basis to write the details of the scenario or the step-by-step novel without departing from the outline.

Templates for Word

To write professional audiovisual scripts, there are templates for Word.

These templates are stylesheets that will facilitate the very strict formatting required for a movie or TV movie script.

To find these templates, search Google for something like “microsoft word screenplay templates”.

To write an audiovisual script in the standards

Final Draft – script / script writing software

Final Draft is a word processing software specialized in the writing of audiovisual scripts to professional standards.

And nothing else. It just makes it possible to respect the typographical conventions of the industry concerning the titles, the names of the characters in the dialogues, and other instructions.

This standardization, which may seem futile, has its importance in a sector as professional as the audiovisual industry: a scenario presented to standards ensures that a script page will last one minute on average. From there one can calculate many parameters that matter for the organization of the production, in particular an estimate of the budget.

If we do neither TV nor cinema, or not in this way (Jean-Luc Godard would have found nothing to do with it), Final Draft is useless since it has no function of conception of story.

Adobe Story – script / screenwriting software

Adobe Story – now abandoned by Adobe – only offered a kind of word processing for scriptwriting and rather limited to audiovisual production.

SoftwareStory
EditorAdobe
PlatformMac, Windows, Linux
Software type / usageScript writing

So, no management of character systemsactantial roleschronologiesediting, and no pedagogy. Very disappointing. From such a brand one could have expected the succession of Dramatica. Anyway, it is dead.

Final Draft, for the same use, provides better service.