Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » StoryCraft

StoryCraft offers the most academic and holistic view of the creative storytelling process. While it is the least movie-centered of the three products, its theories and techniques still apply to any storytelling genre and can definitely aid film and TV writers.

This elegant program was designed to teach perfect pure storytelling, not necessarily just motion picture or television scriptwriting. While it can be used for the construction and perfection of novels, novellas or short stories, StoryCraft operates under the theory that stories are essentially universal between the disciplines.

StoryCraft calls itself "a complete course in story writing," turning any word processor into a "story processor." And, it delivers exactly that, helping any writer to take any mere idea and make it into a full, living, breathing story.

The software package uses the Jarvis Method to teach story writing (named after one of the program's creators; Writer's Guild member, John Jarvis). A professional writer and storytelling teacher, Jarvis maintains there are only 14 basic story types. StoryCraft identifies those story types, so you can determine where your story fits. Then, StoryCraft lists the 12 Structure Steps for each of these story types, guiding you through exactly what you need to make sure your story works on every step.

Jarvis focuses on the Five Elements of Story Crafting; Story Concept, Story Category, Story Type, Story Components and Story Structure. The software guides the writer through each category

StoryCraft sticks mainly to the mythological approach to storytelling and analysis. Made popular by the work of Joseph Campbell, the mythological theory maintains that all stories have universal elements that grow out of our collective life experiences through the ages. By following the Hero's Journey model, a writer will develop a story that's structurally sound, as determined by thousands of years of tested storytelling!

The look of the Window's software is simple, but effective. While Dramatica or Blockbuster might be more focused on the requirements of Hollywood writing, StoryCraft is a worthy addition to any writer's software library because it sticks to the time-tested models of effective plot.

While all three of these programs offer individual benefits and reliable performance, the buyer should realize that they do not do magic. We do not yet have computers that can actually conceive and tell an effective, meaningful and touching story. We don't have CPUs with imaginations or taste. May the writing heavens help us all when we do because storytelling remains one of the most essential, wholly human endeavors.

These software products cannot aesthetically or creatively judge your scripts. If your imagination invents a silly, ineffectual character or present a clunky, dull story, it doesn't beep and send up a red flag or 3D rendered versions of Siskel & Ebert to warn you. These programs are strictly garbage in, garbage out. But, they do help you to steer you away from conceiving weak story lines.

Those writers fortunate enough to enjoy the benefits of a formal screenwriting education (through a film school or university writing program, for example) will not get quite as much out of these software products as script writers newer to the game. Formal college-level or advanced professional writing schools most likely offer most of the same theories and teach many nearly identical techniques.

However, any of these three products would greatly benefit the more novice writer or the professional scribe looking to transfer from more traditional disciplines (such as novel writing or journalism) into the more rigidly structured and less forgiving world of screenwriting.

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