If you're not typing out your masterpiece on screenwriting software, you're wasting valuable resources on stupid things. Like most of my screenwriting friends, I can come up with any number of reasons not to write. I gotta check my email. I gotta "research" by watching some lousy TV re-runs. I gotta scrub my toilet before I can actually sit down and get creative.
The new mantra is to get rid of all distractions. Any reason not to write becomes a reason not to write well. Of all the things that could stand in the way, fiddling with margins and formatting is the worst thing I deal with. It makes me not want to write. On the other hand, my friend Terry loves to dork out on technical stuff. He adjusts and shuffles his script until it looks just perfect. Admittedly, he has some great looking scripts, but the time he spends on making it look good could be time well spent on fixing the problems with his story.
This is where I have to say that screenwriting software is a must have. Don't waste a single moment fiddling with the technicals when the only thing you should ever be thinking of is how to write the perfect script.
The industry standard is Final Draft. Everyone talks about it. Everyone uses it. I would have to say most scripts are made using it. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Get the screenwriting software the pros use and at the very least, your script will look technically immaculate. You don't even have to wait for it. Right now, you can Download Final Draft 8 Mac/Win from Unbeatable Sale and have start screenwriting right away. As soon as you get serial number via email, you're off and ready to go.
Final Draft is an intuitive piece of screenwriting software with a powerful spellchecker. It can auto-fill in scene information and character names making the writing process a dream. Basically, if you know how to hit tab and enter, you'll have a script written in no time. Get Final Draft and you've taken the first (and possibly biggest) step in becoming a screenwriter with the best piece of screenwriting software out there.
The cool thing is that it also has a giant backend where you can converse with other screenwriters and get pointers from the pros. I can't say I've ever used it, but it looks cool and sometimes just talking about your script with another writer will give you inspiration in strange places.
A Cheaper Alternative to Final Draft
Final Draft is a pretty expensive piece of software... You just wanted to become a screenwriter only to find out that all of the screenplay writing tools required are going to set you back a few hundred dollars.
Don't let this page discourage you. Here's a shortcut for screenwriting software to at least get you started. If your computer already has Microsoft Office installed on it, then you can use the Screenplay writing add-on for Microsoft Word. It helps you create perfectly formatted scripts without setting you back a couple Benjamins. Not only are you creative, you're also brilliant!
Of course, you can just start typing away in Word or some other word processor. There is a specific template on how to set your margins, but you won't find it here. I'm not trying to be rude, but when you get into the minutiae of screenplay writing format, you're dorking out too much on the technical aspects of writing when you should be putting all your efforts into actually writing a brilliant screenplay.
In other words, the computer hardware and the screenwriting software is all there so you can get straight to work. How many people do you know who have started their screenplay? How many do you know that have actually finished them? Let nothing stand in your way!
No typing required!
I really wish I would have found this years ago. What I'm talking about is Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software. I know what you're thinking, "I tried that years ago and it totally sucked!" Or maybe, "I talk funny. It would never be able to figure out what I'm saying." Yes and No! Old voice recognition software was clumsy and dumb. With the newest version, Dragon has really created a piece of screenwriting software that actually works. The magical thing is that it doesn't matter how strange your accent is, before you even start writing, it has you read a few short paragraphs and learns the way you talk by assigning your voice pattern to words already in its database! Visit the Nuance store today and get yourself a copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking!
The longer you use Dragon Naturally Speaking, the more accurate it gets. If You hate typing, this software is the perfect thing for you. And if you think the way I do, you can never type as fast as you come up with ideas. I always miss a few of the last things I thought of and I'm forced to sit there and try to remember. Not any more!
If I have to complain about Naturally Speaking; there are two problems. The place you are doing your dictation has to be relatively quiet. The microphone hears and tries to interpret everything. So you can't have girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, kids, dogs, etc. coming in and making noise. Also, the microphone headset they send with the software get pretty painful to wear after awhile. Go to a local computer store and buy a nice padded one and your sore ear will thank you.
Generate tons of ideas
As good as your ideas are right now, they can always be just a little bit better. I found StoryCraft Story Creation Software and I can't believe how helpful it is. Whenever I get stuck, I fire up this story software. After a few clicks, I'm back on my path! It's like having a creative psychologist asking interesting questions that fire up your brain. It helps you figure out new ways to show common situations.
Story idea software is great because it doesn't interrupt the flow of ideas. You might come to a point in your screenplay that just doesn't play right or takes the script reader out of the story. Believe me, this is a bad thing. Writing should flow and reading it should be effortless.
Let screenwriting software guide you
There you go. It is possible to write a screenplay with none of these great tools. Given the massive mountain of scripts that get rejected, I am a firm believer that nothing should get in your way when you're writing your script. Put every last ounce of effort into your story and let the screenwriting software take care of the rest.