Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » Writer's Blocks

Writer's Blocks helps any sort of writer organize and develop his or her material. Much like the older StoryVision or the now out-of print Three by Five from BC Software, Writer's Blocks allows a writer to arrange ideas graphically, providing a nice left brain, right brain interface!

The designers at Ashley Software offer no illusions that Writer's Blocks is a product created exclusively for screenwriters. They openly admit a writer could work on his or her screenplay, book, speech, research paper or any number of projects with their software. But, we'll focus exclusively on how Writer's Block benefits the movie and TV writer!

Writer's Blocks uses text blocks that a writer manipulates to form structure or order within a written work. Back in the golden days of screenwriting, when writers still used pen and ink or manual typewriters, they would use large cork bulletin boards and a series of 3x5 inch index cards to arrange their ideas. The writers would sketch out a scene (a single narrative unit within a script) on an index card and pin it up on that big board. Then, they could move, resort of throw out a card as the scenes came together to form a movie plot.

Writer's Blocks offers an electronic version of the old index cards. Each card can hold a concept, scene, character description, plot point or other story telling element. The cards can move on your screen, shrink or grow in size or change color. A writer can edit sort, number and print the individual cards or block or get an overview of an entire design. The program also offers separate function such as text search/replace and a spell checker.

After a quick and easy installation process, Writer's Block offers a simple user interface with both pull-down menus and point-and-click buttons. The entire screen effect is reminiscent of most major word processors for Windows. A writer may choose to employ columns across the screen where the blocks can pile up or stretch out. While the columns option offers easy, graphical guidelines for index card organization, the columns can also be hidden for a more wide-open, free-wheeling approach to block ordering.

Every new Writer's Block is a small document, as if you were actually using a word processor to write index cards. The size, color and font of each block remain totally adjustable so you can vary or reunite the appearance of your outline. You can edit one block or several at a time using standard point and click/highlighting controls. Anyone with a standard PC and Windows knows that procedure instinctively, making Writer's Blocks an easy to use and intuitive program.

Once you complete a card, it becomes a block, or a separately moving unit on the screen. You can add as many cards of as many types as you need. Then you arrange them any way that works best for your script's scene order, act breaks or potential branches. The program offers automatic functions for numbering, sizing and centering your various blocks.

Moving and rearranging blocks is as simple as drag and drop editing. While the old-timers had to pull out those thumbtacks and reshuffle their index cards on that corkboard, you need only point and click a mouse. If you would like to clean up your design, Writer's Blocks comes with a handy Arranging button on the screen that immediately separates and orders the Blocks into columns.

To demonstrate the relationship of scenes or character to one another, as in an interactive narrative flow chart, Writer's Blocks users can link blocks together with on-screen lines. These can prove useful when looking to unite elements in your script overview or to indicate the flow of scenes as they branch throughout your story. Lines are easily formatted for your personalization using different colors, arrowheads, line widths and types (such as dotted or broken).

Writer's Blocks allows a writer to print your work as individual, actual size blocks, as an outline or on actual perforated index card stock available at many office supply stores. Blocks are printable in black and white or color, depending on the technology at the writer's disposal.

A writer can also print as an outline or chart. These are printed in column format. If the entire branching design spreads out over more than one page, the software immediately breaks up the entire chart onto several pages for the user to reassemble as one larger, mosaic document once complete.

Finally, once a writer masters all of Writer's Blocks features and completed the entire design of a story, he or she can not only print the individual index card blocks or produce a complete, broken down overview of the entire plot design. In addition, the program allows importing of all blocks into a single, complete text document for importing to most word processors, even Final Draft, Scriptware, ScriptThing or Movie Magic Screenwriter.

A simple, yet effective product Writer's Blocks gives the harried screenwriter a useful tool to aid in the creative process. More importantly, Writer's Blocks offers the opportunity to keep ideas straight and scenes flowing amidst any number of potential creative brain storms.

To order the latest edition of Writer's Blocks, click here.

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