Screenwriting apps can format your masterpiece and transfer the results between your smartphone or tablet and your desktop computer.
WHEN you are a writer, inspiration often strikes when you are not near a computer. Apps can save the day for screenwriters who do their work on the go.
Fade In Mobile is one screenwriting app that I immediately liked. It is free on both iOS and Android, and, unlike some of its rivals, it has been recently updated and should work smoothly on the newest devices. It is a no-nonsense screenwriting app, designed specifically to make it easy to get ideas out of the writer’s mind and into the script.
This means its interface is unfussy, with few bells and whistles apart from features that let you write or edit screenplays with standard formats that describe how the page is set up and how character names are displayed.
This kind of writing environment helps keep me focused. But if you need to be able to make notes or keep descriptions of the characters or lists of scenes, this app is probably not for you.
Fade In Mobile lets you import and export files to Dropbox so you can get to your screenplays on other devices or the company’s desktop screenwriting software. One big downside: Your files are saved in a proprietary format that is probably not compatible with other editing software.
The free edition of the app allows you to work on only one script at a time. The full version allows more scripts and lets you import screenplays written in other file formats, but it costs $5 both on iOS and Android.
A great alternative on iOS is Scripts Pro. Like Fade In, it does an excellent job of keeping scriptwriting and editing straightforward.
The Scripts Pro interface is uncluttered and mostly shows the script you’re working on and the on-screen keyboard. A nice touch is being able to quickly tab through your script, and a handy suggestions prompt appears when you’re typing something like a character name you’ve already entered.
Better yet, the app supports editing of files saved in other formats, including plain text files and files from the popular desktop scriptwriting software Final Draft. You can even transfer files to and from the app wirelessly using iTunes transfers and Dropbox. It’s not the most feature-rich app in the world, but its aim is simple and it does its job well. A $12 price tag may be its only sticking point.
On Android, there’s a free alternative to Scripts Pro called DubScript Screenplay Writer. It has a clean editing interface and uses a scriptwriting standard called Fountain to format the text you write. This means you can type in plain text format as the script forms in your mind, entering character names and so on without having to stop and let the app know that “Arthur,” for example, is a character name.
Once you’ve finished writing, the app automatically tries to identify things and then formats the script by indenting lines. Add in extra features like a customizable interface and the ability to read scripts aloud, and DubScript looks impressive. It may be great for beginning screenwriters.
MyScreenplays is another Android app worth looking at, not least because it’s free. It’s not quite as full-featured or good-looking as DubScript, but it does have some good tricks, like being able to auto-indent and auto-format some parts of your script.
Plus, it has a feature called nonlinear editing, which lets you move sections of your script around when you’re editing. It also exports scripts in files compatible with Final Draft.
Finally, check out Celtx Script. Screenwriters will recognize this brand from its desktop apps. It’s a good-looking and full-featured scriptwriting app that is compatible with script files you’ve written in its desktop versions. The app can synchronize your files so edits and adjustments you make when working on one device will appear on a different one. It costs $5 on iOS and is free on Android, but it may be best suited for more experienced writers.
Timeline is a new kind of news app that stands out from many rivals in the app store by adding context to news stories. Instead of mere headlines and facts, the app curates current news stories by adding relevant historical facts. You may be surprised how it makes you think differently about headline news. It is free on iOS.