WRITING: My Writing Tools – Screenplay (iOS App)

Writers can be very picky with their software. Long gone are the days of typewriters; now, we can carry screenwriting software in our pockets. We can type out screenplays sitting on the bus, walking down the street, anywhere. Even the fumbling required for pen-and-pencil drafting is gone. For a while, though, I didn’t take advantage of this because I’d yet to settle into the screenwriting app I had access to: Screenplay.

Now that I’ve started using it more frequently, I find I’m writing at a speed possibly comparable to that with a laptop, and enjoying it very much. Details after the jump:

Screenplay is an iOS app for iPhone and iPod Touch. It’s the first-ever screenwriting app for iOS and is now officially a partner with Final Draft, according to their page at the App Store.

How Does It Work

    

The app opens with a list of your screenplays loaded onto the app. As you can see above, in addition to Knockout, my feature film project, I’ve got some X-Men fanfic projects going as well as a pair of my pilots, Wreckage and Black Dog. Of the above, only 4 originated on the app. I’ll talk a bit more about how importing works on the app later, but I will note that it’s seamless, and quite impressive.

You start out with the list, and the options running along the bottom: New Script (speaks for itself), Import (a .fdx from Dropbox), and Options (shown above). By hitting the Edit button in the top right corner, you can either quick-delete a script (cap 2 above), or tap the file to rename it (cap 3 above). You can have the app Auto-Open Last Script, you can Lock Screen Alignment and you can choose your Selector Alignment in the Options tab (cap 4 above).

  

Once you get into the script, it gives you an easy-to-navigate scene list. You can search, make a New Scene, check out a List of Characters, and Export (cap 1).

Once you get into the script, the method of writing is pretty interesting, and takes some time to get used to. You navigate your script with the selector, which allows you to either add an element, whether in between current ones or at the beginning/end (cap 2 above), or select an element and edit it (cap 3 above). When writing, at each line, you tap which type of element the line you’re working on is, and it formats it for you. One limitation is that it doesn’t recognise elements beside others, like (V.O.) on the same line as the Character element.

In the top-right corner, there’s a button to see the scene in the context of the whole script (as seen in cap 4 above).

And finally, Importing and Exporting. This app used to host its own service, but it now runs its file uploads and downloads through Dropbox. This is very useful for those with the DropBox app, as you can upload things to Dropbox and switch apps to check it’s there, or look through your Dropbox before you try to hunt something down in your Screenplay browser. Knowing that everyone doesn’t necessarily use Dropbox, you can also export the file to email.

One limitation, which is probably frustrating for those without a constant net connection, is the inability to import and export directly from the computer.

Importing is pretty painless. If you have a Wifi or data connection, it doesn’t take long, and you can import .fdx files or .txt files from Celtx. It doesn’t seem to be compatible for other programs and, thanks to its partnership with Final Draft, I doubt it’ll develop in that direction. Because of its connection to Final Draft, though, .fdx imports and exports are pretty painless. So far the one bug I’ve noticed is that exports to Final Draft are missing page numbers, though I’m sure I just have to dig into the settings to fix that.

There isn’t, as far as I can tell, a way to prep a title page on Screenplay as there is on Final Draft. That said, if you import a script into Screenplay then export it back to .fdx, it doesn’t drop the title page you make in Final Draft, which is handy.

It would be fantastic if you could export to PDF. I hope that’s in the works.

The Result

There are a few holes in this app’s functionality I’d love to see filled, as I mentioned above, but for a screenwriting tool for on the go, it works pretty seamlessly for me. Getting used to the button-tapping is about as simple as it is to get used to the menu-selection of elements in Final Draft.

I’m happy with it, though if that changes, I’ll update you guys. Have you used it? What are your thoughts? How about other screenwriting apps?

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