Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

Writing Software

I was looking for info before buying an upgrade to the latest version of Final Draft (decided against it, no advantages over the version I’ve got) and came across a link to this free writing software recommended by many.

Haven’t tested it, so don’t know if it’s as good as they say. One thing for certain is that it’s not industry standard and scripts would have to be converted to PDFs before being sent out (as opposed to Final Draft files, which just about every production company has the software for). But having managed without dedicated screenwriting software for a dozen years before switching, I can testify that a program taking care of layout while you focus on the writing is a Good Thing.

If you’ve tried Celtx and have an opinion on it, feel free to add a comment.

9 responses to “Writing Software”

  1. I use Celtx now and I love it. And it'll do a pdf version from your draft. It takes a little time to figure it out but there are lots of forums on it.

    All I can say is study the tabs very carefully on both sides & on the bottom. But… heresy… I prefer it to Final Draft which I never found warm and fuzzy.

    n.b. This is not product placement.

  2. I believe Steve sends me scripts written in Celtx and converted to PDFs, and they always look fine to me!

    When I was handling scripts at Scott Free (ie printing and distributing them to heads of depts), it didn't matter too much whether they were in FDX or PDF format, although it was sometimes handy to be able to alter the title page in FDX to reflect the draft number and date if the writer hadn't done that already…

  3. Sounds like the only real drawback would arise in production, if the various departments aren't using Celtx's own integrated suite of tools to extract and rearrange the info they need.

  4. This sounds quite good.
    I am presuming you guys know about Scrivener from Literature and Latte. What do you think of Scrivener compared to Celtx – particularly when it come to novel writing, rather than script writing? And Scrivener can export to Final Draft.

  5. I got in touch with CeltX a couple of years ago when I was working at the BBC, and they implemented BBC-style radio format for me.

    (I did try getting in contact with Final Draft too, but they never returned my email.)

    As far as I'm aware CeltX is still the only script formatting program to support radio scripts.

  6. I've used (and taught the use of) CeltX for several years. In some respects, it's better than Final Draft, but with recent software revisions it's tried to become all things to all men and risks becoming difficult to learn.

    I've mostly used it for writing short films. When I used it for writing TV episodes, I found it didn't really know how to deal with Acts (Act 1, Act 2 etc). Getting it to do a page break, and place an Act header in the right place took a bit of slight of hand. So if episodic TV is important to you (as I guess it would be), you might want to test this aspect first of all. (They may have fixed it in the latest updates, but I'm still using an earlier version.)

    I have a question, though: if you already have Final Draft, why would you want to change to something else? FD may be a bit clunky sometimes, but it does what it does very well and with minimum of fuss.

  7. As far as I have seen, it is highly beneficial in production for the production co to have an FDX copy for amendments, suggestions etc – if they don't have one (eg they only have a PDF), it can sometimes fall to a hapless intern or runner to retype the entire script into Final Draft, or at least do a massive copy/paste and then trawl through to painstakingly fix formatting!

    Of course, the writer might never be aware of this, but it's a pretty epic task!

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