Saturday, February 9, 2008

Screenwriting software

I've become interested in screenwriting, lately. I've always imagined the novel I'm writing as a movie and hoped it might become one, someday. But the dream of writing a screenplay was always a distant hope, something that, in my mind, was far off in the future. That was before.

Yesterday, a friend at work gave me an idea for a great movie script (and more importantly, permission to use the idea, since my friend is not a writer). I decided I can't put my dream of screenwriting off any longer. It's time to learn how. So, naturally, being a computer-oriented writer, the first thing I did was to order some screenwriting software.

It was a toss up between Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter (MMS). I did the prerequisite research, and went with MMS. Being fairly Internet savvy, I surfed the web for a great deal, and found one. The full retail price of MMS v.6 is about $250.00. I found it for half that. $130.00, including shipping. I bought the student version, which reportedly has all the same features. Now I can't wait to try it.

I know almost nothing about screenwriting, not even how to format the page. But that's why I bought the software. It should make the job of learning how to write screenplays far easier. I've read a couple of books on the subject, with titles like, How To Write and Sell Your Screenplay. But reading about writing - and writing - are very different skills. I've learned that in trying to write my novel.

I look forward to getting acquainted with the software. When I've had a chance to nose around in the program for a while, I'll write a review and post it here, in case anyone's interested in knowing more about MMS.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Computers - arrgh!

I wonder if I'll live long enough to see the day when computers can diagnose their own software troubles and fix themselves. It would save me an enormous amount of time if they could.

I love computers, and consider them indispensable to writers. But I swear I spend more time resolving problems and squashing computers bugs and backing-up files than I do on the thing for which I bought my computer - mainly, my writing.

In the course of learning about computers, and in an effort to become a proficient computer user with an eye toward using them effectively and securely for my writing, I've purchased and outgrown several computers. I've recently advanced to Windows Vista on my latest computer, a fast Dell Inspiron E1505 notebook computer, which is loaded with Norton's latest and best security software. And it's a great computer. With all its security features, the Dell has proven to be the perfect computer for my online activities, such as writing this blog. In fact, it's so nice that I don't like to take it with me to the coffee shops and libraries where I do much of my writing. I'd rather keep my Dell safely at home.

So for my regular writing chores, I find myself using my obsolete Hewlett-Packard Windows XP computer. I say it's obsolete because that's what HP's tech support person called it, recently, when I phoned for the upteenth time asking for help with yet another bug. This time, they wanted to sell me another HP computer to replace my "obsolete" model, rather than service the XP system yet again. But no way would I buy another HP after the trouble I've had with that obsolete model.

For the first year I had it, the HP was away to the manufacturer's repair center more than it was in my hands. This last last round of repairs, affected over the past few months, included the installation of a new motherboard and hard drive, because the old ones had died. I can't imagine that anyone has ever replaced more parts on a computer than I've replaced on that danged HP. But I've now replaced about everything that could possibly break down on it, so it's basically a new computer. And I've invested a fortune in the darned obsolete thing and believe that the only way I can ever get my money's worth out of it is to just use it until it wears out. I hope to get a few more years worth of service out of it, at least. By then I may not feel that I've wasted my money in buying it -- as I do now.

So the HP has become my knockaround computer. I take it on the bus, tucked away in my backpack, and to the library and to coffee shops. At this point, if I break it or if someone steals it while I'm in the bathroom, I think I'll be relieved to be rid of the thing, wasted money notwithstanding.

And in addition to the hardware problems, there are the usual Windows snafus and maintenance issues. I spent most of this weekend debugging software issues with the HP computer, backing up files on both computers, ordering more memory for my Dell (It seems Windows Vista needs 2 Gigabytes of memory, minimum.), and updating software, such as my antivirus program. -- I didn't get any writing done!!! When will I be able to work on my work, instead of working on my computers to get them to work the way I want them to so that I can do my work?

This is not why I bought a computer. I didn't want to become an computer expert, I just wanted to write. But unless you can afford to hire your own IT technician, it's necessary, these days, to learn to be an effective computer user if you want to write. Or at least, I believe so. It's unfortunate, but true.

That's why I'm eagerly awaiting the day when my computer will be able to either repair itself or tell me what it needs and which button I need to push to fix it -- preferably only one button, which I will press from a semi-reclined position, George Jetson style. Maybe then I'll be able to get some work done.

The only question is, will I (or you) live that long?