Tag Archives: Software

Writer Duet: A Great (Free!) Solution for Screenwriting on a Chromebook

When I first got my Chromebook, one of the first things I wanted to do was find a screenwriting app that would let me write plays and screenplays as easily as Final Draft. (Final Draft, for my non-writer readers, is the industry standard for writing in either format.) While there were a few online environments that allowed you to write in screenplay format, they were a) expensive and b) unwieldy.

A quick refresher: because Chromebooks operate in an online, Linux-based environment, it’s difficult to find software that’s compatible with special formats. While most well-known screenwriting software has versions compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, so far there’s been very little in the way of creating specialized software for Chromebook. At one point I heard that Google was working to make any app available for their ultra-lite notebooks, but to date there doesn’t seem to have been much progress on that front.

Anyways. I’m working on a sitcom pilot, and one of the practical challenges I’ve had to work with is making my edits to the text. My Windows laptop, which is limping along with the help of both external mouse and keyboard, has my copy of Final Draft on it – but at this point, the program runs so slowly that it’s frustrating to use.

I printed out and edited my script the other day, and was dreading finding the time to break it down into manageable chunks to input the changes.

Enter this morning.

I decided it was worth taking another look for screenwriting software that was compatible with both Final Draft and Chromebooks this morning – after all, the software scene is constantly evolving – and after some searching, discovered two things:

  1. My initial Chromebook write-up is one of the first page of results on the topic of screenwriting on the platform (yay!) and
  2. There is now a workable – and highly functional – Final Draft alternative for writers who are familiar with how that software functions but want to write in an online (Chromebook-compatible!) format.
A blank template for screenplays on Writer Duet.

A blank template for screenplays on Writer Duet.

This alternative is called Writer Duet. And it’s unbelievably powerful, incredibly well-designed, and completely intuitive for anyone who’s already used to writing in Final Draft. It imports and exports to multiple standard screenwriting format, doesn’t require knowledge of markup or formatting, and best of all?

It’s FREE.

That’s right. FREE.

Sure, there’s a paid version (which, at $99 for a lifetime membership is a bargain) but so far the free version looks and feels just like writing in Final Draft.

This morning, while lying in bed icing my back, I was able to edit a 46-page script in a fraction of the time it would have taken on my laptop. There was no lag inputting or processing commands as the document got longer (which has been an issue in Final Draft), the formatting is highly intuitive (perhaps more so than FD), and the output is easily downloadable and back-up-able. Signing up took less than a minute. Imports of documents in .fdx were flawless (.pdf imports less so, but you shouldn’t be saving in-progress docs as .pdfs anyways). The program was so easy to use that I almost immediately recommended it to a friend of mine who’s taking his first shot at writing for the stage. (He was confused by it, but it took me a few tries to get used to FD, so I’m not counting that against Writer Duet at all.

If you’re interested in writing in stage or screen format, and don’t want to shell out $125+ for Final Draft, check out Writer Duet. If you’re on a Chromebook and despairing because you can’t find an elegant solution to the issue of formatting your stageplays or screenplays, check out Writer Duet.

I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

 

Please note, this is not a sponsored blog post, I am endorsing this program because it’s amazing and if you want to write in screenplay format for a Chromebook, it is far and away the best solution I’ve found to date.

Tracking eBook Sales With Authorgraph

paring down my libraryIf you look off to the right of this blog, you’ll see a drop-down menu from Authorgraph, a service that lets authors sign digital books. I joined up after reading about it a couple months ago, but have been — shall we say — underwhelmed by the number of readers who want to take advantage of the service. As they say on Shark Tank, I’m not sure this is a problem that needed a solution. Whether this is because people are still being educated on what a “digital author signature” looks like or because my readers just aren’t interested, who knows, but I’ve definitely given some thought to taking the plug-in off my page in order to open up some valuable sidebar real estate.

The other day, though, I got an interesting email from the service. It let me know how my books were faring on the Amazon sales ranking lists. One had gone up by several thousand places, another had fallen – and since I haven’t seen other places where this tracking-over-time has taken place, I thought it was interesting that this has now been added to the service.

Amazon Sales Ranking is calculated every hour or so and can fluctuate wildly. Since most self-published books don’t sell over 200 copies within their lifetime (I’m happy to say all but a couple of mine have exceeded that level) selling just a few copies a day is enough to drive a book up by thousands of “ranks,” and checking in on a sporadic basis doesn’t guarantee an accurate picture.

So while its primary use – as a tool for connecting with readers – still hasn’t proven itself to me, Authorgraph’s ability to provide authors with ebook tracking data has definitely become a significant reason for creating and maintaining an account with the service.

The Facebook Detox: Reconsidering What I Need From Facebook

After reading articles like this (http://www.danah.org/papers/talks/2010/WWW2010.html) and this (http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.readwriteweb.com%2Farchives%2Fwhy_facebook_is_wrong_about_privacy.php&h=01a8d), not to mention loads of others, I’ve been getting more and more uncomfortable with continuing to use Facebook as my main social network. It’s been occupying a lot of the time I spend thinking about the internet (which is, let’s be honest, just plain a lot of time). Out for drinks with a friend on Friday night, it turned out both of us were having similar misgivings about Facebook, and both of us are starting to think it’s time to move on. Our reasons for wanting to go are the same: increasing discomfort with Facebook’s privacy policies and Mark Zuckerberg’s increasing megalomania are losing our trust – which, as has been said again and again, is one of the only real currencies Facebook has when it comes to its users.

More interestingly, from my perspective, the things keeping us from leaving the service are the same, and boil down to two main points:

  1. We don’t want to lose our data
  2. Fear of slipping away from access to mainstream internet use.

 

As someone who has always been ahead of the general internet curve when it comes to adopting new services, I’m not too concerned about the second point. Since 1993, I’ve been using the internet to connect with niche interest groups from scifi fandoms to geography-based communities.

To me, the first point is my immediate concern. I want to leave Facebook, but I have taken literally hundreds of phone photos over the last few years, and now it seems like getting those photographs is going to involve manually clicking through each album and saving them to hard disk. It’s a step I’m almost ready to take, but it seems surprising to me that nobody has created a program that will take my data from my account and zip it into a nice, neat folder.

Knowing that an easy way to download-and-delete my profile information probably isn’t going to come along any time soon, instead I decided to at least limit the potential for Facebook to keep invading my life: I deleted the Facebook app from my iTouch on Friday night and haven’t missed it since.

My rationale is that now I have to go to the facebook website – a practice which served me just fine for the first three years I was on the service – and make the effort to engage with the platform, and this may refine and improve the quality of the time I spend on th service, while discouraging me from placing extraneous data there just because it’s the easiest way to quickly share information.

As for the bulk of the links my facebook friends have been enjoying (or not) on my site? Well, I can still link all that to Twitter, where I don’t share nearly the level of personal connectivity with my readers on an ongoing basis (even though you guys are awesome, you’re still part of the Internet at Large and I’m trying to be smart about that!).

Ever since I first downloaded Semagic, I’ve been trying to balance my use of apps with my use of website; this has become harder since the rise of Apple’s App store/iTunes, but for people like me who like to immerse ourselves in as much of the internet as we can, taking a step back from those apps may offer an option  

By Sunday morning, I’d refocused my idea of using Facebook for what I wanted to use it for – keeping an open line of communication with people I care about having in my life – rather than what Zuckerberg and the rest of the company want me to use it for – putting every detail of my online life in one easily accessible place. Did a major friends-list cull, taking out those people who don’t really use this as a method of keeping in real contact, or the people whose lives (I’m sorry to say) I’m just not that in need of constant awareness of.

Moral: One way to take a step back from computer/internet overuse/addiction is to go back to using websites rather than apps to access your information. It forced me to slow down and reconsider why I want to be using Facebook – which, I’m confident, will ultimately improve my use of the service as and if I continue to use it.