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Script Formatting Software

Script Wizard Script Formatting Software
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"Script Wizard Takes Care of Everything Except the Writing Part"

Excerpted from Video/Tape World - January 1995

by Sam Scribner

"There's this wonderful button at the very beginning of Script Wizard, an add-on scriptwriting software program for Microsoft's massive Word for Windows, that says, 'Start Writing.' Now, wouldn't that be nice. Just click on a button and start writing. Ah, if only life were like that. But that's pretty much all there is to getting Script Wizard up and running: Click a button . . . start writing.

...Script Wizard Software has developed a state of the art program that offers several scriptwriting formats that work inside Word For Windows. Basically ... idiot-proof. You open a file, go to the Scripts Wizard template and choose a script style. The formats include feature-length screenplays, episodic television, sitcoms, daytime soaps, radio shows, variety shows, award shows and side-by-side A/V shows. Then you either Start Writing (my personal favorite) or Import Document, which allows you to bring in a script written on another software program like Word Perfect. From this point on, it's pretty much click and type, using specialized tool bars which are designed for each application.

God is in the details and that's where Script Wizard's strengths lie. Script Wizard is intuitive to the screenwriter in many subtle ways. For instance, you don't have to live or die by the mouse if you don't want to. Every command also comes with a simple shortcut key for formatting. This is good because most of us writer types tend to be 'typers' rather than 'mousers.' If you hold down the key and hit a number like I or 2 you'll be into a slugline with either 'INT.' or 'EXT.' The and 0 keys will take you to the character position and so on.

However, now that I'm beginning to warm up to the mouse, I've found a few treats on the custom tool bars at the top and bottom of the screen. The most usable commands in a screenplay are within clicking reach, like 'INT.,' 'EXT.,' 'Action,' etc. Ninety-five percent of the transitions that you will use to go from one scene to the next are 'CUT TO:' or 'DISSOLVE TO:' and there they are right in front of you. If you want to transition with a 'SMASH CUT TO:' then you click the TRANS button and type. OK, maybe this a pretty obvious example, but what's not so apparent is that you find yourself writing a lot of (O.S.) for 'offstage' and (V.O.) for 'voiceover' directions in a script. Both of those buttons are also up on the tool bar. Stefani Warren really understands the inherent nuances of screenplay writing and has designed lots of little touches into the Script Wizard program.

The Speaking Character Window is another nifty device. You can put your character Aunt Polly into a little window in a corner of the screen and just click on her whenever she speaks. Aunt Polly's name appears in the character position and the cursor is below it ready to take her dialogue.

There is a Notepad, which you can keep in the background to stash notes, scenes or dialogue that you might want to use later. A File Backup and Copy command will save your script on both the hard drive and a floppy disk when you close out your writing session for the day.

...Let's talk about the A/V template for a moment, because that's an important feature for a lot of writers who work on corporate shows. Script Wizard has the side-by-side, double-column format for visual and audio, including special tool bars for working in this style. All the commands that you need are at your immediate disposal. You can go from a cell in the video column to the audio cell in the next column with either shortcut keys or by clicking on the tool bar. What's really cool here is that the A/V format is offered in both portrait and landscape.

During the writing stage, Script Wizard works in Work File mode. In other words, you write and the program structures your script in the format you've chosen. You can print out the script for editing and proofing anytime you like.

But down the line, you're going to have to deliver a polished script with proper page breaks, page numbers, etc. At this point you go to Printing File mode and Script Wizard will go through your script to determine the best place to create a page break and automatically add in (MORE) and CONTINUED: at the bottoms and tops of pages. I should add that the Page Break procedure is available for all formats except the two- and three-column A/V and Story Board formats.

In a submission screenplay, scene numbers are not necessary. Scenes do not get numbered until the project is green-lighted, at which time they are given locked-down numbers. During revision, scenes which are dropped have OMITTED next to the locked number and new scenes are given A/B identifications, such as scene 74A, 74B. Script Wizard is designed to number scenes for the production company, and handle A/B scenes and pages as changes are made throughout the shoot.

This program will also generate dialogue sides for casting directors. description/ action excerpts for costumers, location managers and stunt coordinators and Shot/Scene Lists for production managers.

If you are working in Word for Windows and are frustrated with futzing around with screenplay formatting, Script Wizard is a powerful tool--smart, intuitive and comprehensive in the ways of the scriptwriting process. But mostly. it's very simple to run, which is what I like most. Now if I can only find that little Start Writing button inside of me."

Note: We've gone through numerous revisions/upgrades since the above review (and see other reviews by clicking here), constantly updating our software as new technologies and new script formats and standards necessitate updating.