Screenwriting

Welcoming Amazon Storywriter

Thank you, Amazon. I’m impressed. This time more than ever before. (And I haven’t even seen The Man In The High Castle yet.)

A couple of hours ago, an e-mail popped up in my inbox under the subject line “Announcing Amazon Storywriter.” The link took me onto a web-based word processor specifically designed for professional screenplay format.

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As I’m preparing to teach an ‘Introduction to Screenwriting’ course next month, and in my past experience, free templates and softwares somehow always manage to get my students in a wide array of troubles, I decided to give it a shot. And it’s just great: Simple, smooth, intuitive, and practical.

Its simplicity is difficult to rival. I’m a faithful Final Draft user, and while Storywriter doesn’t bring any additional features such as those classic scene-cards —which, by the way, I only ever use on paper, never on a screen, but which are also available on the Amazon web-based software Storybuilder, its clean, blank screen is immediately appealing and no side-windows are there to bother you or distract your gaze from the page.

Typing on it is smooth like a hot knife on butter —excuse the cliché— and it automatically saves your work as you type, indicating the status “Saved” on the top-right corner of the screen. Remember, this is a web-based service.

The formatting tools function in a super intuitive manner that probably drinks from other, time-tested softwares. For instance, my instinctive motion to hit the Tab Key in order to switch from ‘Action’ to ‘Character’ was met with, guess what, exactly what I expected. And when I hesitated for a second, I just displaced the cursor to the right-side bar and clicked on what I wanted.

To top it off, Storywriter includes a number of small, but highly useful features. You can save drafts at any time that are kept separate from the main, “auto-saved” document. The different versions are listed underneath the main title of each script on the dashboard, allowing you to access them easily and go back in time through your writing. You can import a script —in this case, I uploaded the PDF of a feature I wrote back in 2012— and in a matter of seconds, you get it converted into an editable file saved on the cloud. And of course, exporting and downloading in various formats is also possible. Fantastic stuff, as you can see.

Only a few details —and not unimportant ones— remain to be clarified:

  • Where is the installable app for offline writer? I searched through Amazon Apps with no luck.
  • Is there also —or will there be— a mobile App to allow script reading, or maybe even minor revisions on the go?
  • Will other functions be included, such as shared documents that can be edited simultaneously a la Google Drive?

In any case, I just wanted to give credit to Amazon for yet another fantastic move in the business of creating narrative content, besides the Amazon Studios portal, or the Storyteller tool for creating and animating storyboards (which unfortunately was recently suspended), and the open-submission policy of TV pilots and feature film scripts.

So, thank you, Amazon!

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