Screenwriting Software – Celtx vs Final Draft

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When writing a feature screenplay, there are certain things you can do to make your life easier.

Whilst there is no escaping the hours, days, weeks and months of plot planning and writing the actual thing, making sure you have an easy work flow can save hours in re-writing notes and copy and pasting scenes from one document to another. Here’s what was happening to me.

Firstly, when writing shorts, I was using Word. Don’t do it. It was a big mistake – and pretty much made because of my ignorance to screenwriting programs. These programs  will save you time which should be spent concentrating on your script and not fiddling around with whether your text should be in capitals, centred, or whatever else that may crop up.

So I began browsing the web for such a piece of software. Firstly, I turned to Final Draft. It’s the industry standard and comes with all the right perks you would want from this kind of software. Suddenly, all that wasted time was behind me, I now had a writing program that was aiding my ability to write a screenplay. Now all I needed to do was download the App so I could write on the go too. Err…Argh.

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That’s right, Final Draft doesn’t do a phone app. Until last summer, they didn’t even have a writing version for the iPad. This made me angry on two levels. One, you’re supposed to be the leading program in your field and yet you don’t have a phone app version of your software. Two, you don’t have a phone version of your software, but you do have a iPad version??? Would it have killed you to have made a slightly smaller model? I can’t imagine its a giant leap in technology considering 90% of all apps do it.

This led to irritating problems. I would find myself writing in iPhone Notes, emailing myself, transferring it to Final Draft, spending an hour sorting it out into the correct tagline, action or dialogue function, before I started with the evening’s actual writing. My efforts to save time dwindled away. I began looking for something better.

Celtx is a screenwriting app. It’s also a desktop program and a web-based piece of software. It literally lets me save on my laptop, walk out the door and carrying on writing on my iPhone (lamp posts not withstanding). I could even write at work in my lunch break from the computers there. It has intelligent typing, allowing you to switch from Action, Dialogue and Character mode through the ‘Enter’ key alone. It also has a nifty index card screen as well as sophisticated production notes windows for you to compile production information as well as photographs of filming locations. It’s phone app isn’t perfect, it is a tad fiddly, but it will save you time and allow you to get on with the most important aspect of screenwriting; THE WRITING!  It’s also only a third of the price of Final Draft too (approx £9).

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So to sum up in an Ash-from-Evil-Dead metaphor, Celtx is like a boom-stick, blowing away my practical screenwriting issues like a she-bitch from hell…