Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » Scriptware

Scriptware took the exact opposite path than its major competitor, Final Draft. Since Final Draft ignored the PC market until recent years, Cinovation jumped in with its screenwriting software originally designed exclusively for the PC. Now, the software developer released a Mac version and hustled to work the bugs out so writers on both computer platforms could enjoy its ease of use.

And, Scriptware delivers. It will flawlessly keep your script within acceptable industry format. The program knows to switch from character to dialogue, from transition to slugline, etc.

Scriptware even allows you to adjust these automatic functions. For example, when writing character dialogue, the program usually jumps from character element, to dialogue, then back to character, ad infinitum, until you're done writing dialogue and return to action, slugline or transition. But, you may wish to go back to action after every bit of dialogue. Scriptware allows you to adjust such functions.

Scriptware offers an extensive menu of list options (character, transition, shot, etc.). These lists work much like Final Draft's SmartType lists, keeping track of your character names and setting locales and guessing at them as you type. The lists allow you to add and delete items as you move through your script and kill off characters or cut locales. Scriptware even allows you to rename characters throughout the entire script by merely changing their entry in the character list.

The Scene Shuffle functions of the program allow you to view every scene in a script in an extended list of sluglines. Move a slugline up or down on the list and the corresponding scene moves with it in the actual script.

Many of Scriptware's features resemble those in its major competitor, Final Draft. A few of its tools even surpass BC Software's efforts (such as easier dual column dialogue functions and more malleable list functions). However, Scriptware also suffers from some odd bugs, especially in its PC version.

In an unusual oversight, the PC version of Scriptware I work with lacked an "undo" function. While Final Draft's Mac and PC programs each offered multi-level undo ability allowing me to reverse automatically a mistake made even several minutes prior, Scriptware forced me to back up and manually fix whatever error I made. The Mac version allowed me the freedom to screw up here and there with a generous undo function.

Also, the PC version offered bugs while transitioning text files into a script-formatted document. I tried taking ASCII file notes and offering them to Scriptware to chew into a screenplay. The elements came out in the right order, but chunks of my notes disappeared. I ended up having to find the missing bits and retype them. Again, the Mac version seemed to correct the problem.

Andrew Brislin, educational sales representative for Cinovation, explained that Scriptware started out as a DOS program and advanced to meet the challenges of new operating systems.

"Our Mac version is reasonably new," Brislin said. "Since it debuted in November, 1997, we've had great feedback on it."

He added that the magazine, Mac Addict, recently gave the Mac version of Scriptware a top rating.

"Sales are going well on both platforms now," Brislin said.

Since Scriptware worked the bugs out of both its PC and Mac versions, it will give Final Draft and ScriptThing all the competition it can handle.

To order the latest edition of Scriptware, click here.

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