Every screenplay I’ve worked on has demanded very different things from me. Sometimes I need to be home blasting some Derek Webb, other times I need to be out and about, writing wherever I can find a quiet spot.
I need the flexibility to move at a moments notice, and that means having the right iOS apps on hand to keep the creative process moving. I’ve complied a collection of apps I’ve found useful while writing, a few of my gripes, and a new alternative that could transform the way people write on their iDevices.
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes
When Google Wave finally bit the dust (a moment of silence, please ……………………….. ok) I needed a place to stick all my random ideas. Evernote is the perfect on-the-go note pad; stuff all your random ideas, pictures, and sound bites into one spot, and have it sync with other devices.
As I’m out and about, I can effortlessly gather and catalogue all the random bits of inspiration I encounter on my iPhone, then sort it all out and start my outline on my desktop at home. The app and basic account are both free, so give it a shot.
Feeling a little lost? I HIGHLY recommend Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials. It’ll get you up and running in no time.
I’ll be honest, I’m more of a tactile, physical worker. I like to doodle, write things with exaggerated LeTtErs, and I love the feel of paper in my hands. When I use index cards to organize a story, I like to actually use index cards. There’s something engaging about sitting on the floor with an ocean of cards around me, waiting for me to run my fingers through their waves.
All that, of course, would be ridiculous in the middle of a Starbucks. No. When on the run I turn to Den Vog’s fantastic Index Card app. It’s feature rich, well thought out, easy to use, and (if I can use this word again) tactile. I prefer the iPad version to the iPhone, as you get a bird’s eye view of your cards where you can drag, drop, and rearrange to your heart’s content.
If you’re working primarily from your iPhone, this is the app for you. Instead of typing across and down a page like a word processor or Final Draft, Screenplay has you start by creating a scene. Upon opening that scene you are prompted to create virtual blocks of either dialogue, action, characters, etc. Once you’ve added the desired block, you then open it to edit it. Lather, rinse, repeat.
It sounds like a whole bunch of extra work, but it’s actually very intuitive and adept to the nature of the iPhone. I haven’t used the iPad version, but I believe it works the same way.
Universal iPhone & iPad
View in iTunes
This, in theory, is as close to Final Draft as you’re going to get on an iOS device ( I stand corrected ). Scripts Pro has been my go-to screenplay writing app for a while. It works as expected. You type, hit tab, type some more, type INT, type type type…and Scripts Pro handles the correct formatting. Easy peasy, right?
Well, no, not really. Once your script got longer than 5 pages all hell broke loose. Scrolling was buggy, page breaks were buggy, typing became buggy, and the whole thing crashed at the drop of a hat. Lame sauce. There’s a fancy new update I’ve meant to try, but one big, important factor has kept me from doing so:
Editing long text documents without a mouse sucks.
<rant> Ok, so when Apple first introduced the iPad they made a big hullabaloo about how the iPad adapts to you and how you work, rather than forcing you to adapt to it. Excuse me, but did the idiots in marketing forget to try word processing? Why on earth can’t I link up a bluetooth mouse? I know that defeats the purpose of the touch interface, but the stupid thing is supposed to adapt to me, right? Nope. I gotta adapt to it. Ugh! </rant>
In lieu of that, Apple seriously needs to make this happen:
Anyway. For a while I’d given up on finding a happy medium and had gone back to writing almost exclusively on my desktop… until now.
The Secret Screenwriting Alternative
Allow me to introduce you to Fountain. It’s not an app, but rather a shorthand system for writing screenplays. I don’t want to get into too much detail here, especially since I haven’t had a chance to put it through its paces, but you should check out Stu Maschwitz’s post on prolost.com. He gets into the nitty-gritty, and even recommends a few apps.
The benefits of Fountain are:
- It’s not app dependent. You can write Fountain markup anywhere; phone, pad, or computer. Therefore, you don’t have to buy expensive apps that may or may not work the way you want.
- It doesn’t have the same heavy overhead that FDX compatible apps will have, which means fewer crashes, smoother editing, and less punching holes in walls.
- It’s open-source goodness, which means there are all sorts great apps and services being built up around it, like Screenplain, which will convert your Fountain file into FDX or HTML.
That’s all for now. I would love to discuss writing on iOS some more, so if I’ve missed your favorite app, or you think I’m an idiot, jump in on the comments!