Mobile Apps for Writers

These days many writers rely on their mobile devices, their phones and tablets, rather than (or in addition to) more analogue stationary. Anything to get ideas down on the move with a minimum of effort and inconvenience. So I’ve gathered a list of mobile apps that I find useful to this end. I’ll apologise for the slight iOS bias in these, it’s not that I think one platform is necessarily superior to any other, but it just happens to be the one that works for me. Some these aren’t free, and there are cheaper alternatives for most, but again they’re the ones that work for me.

Dropbox

(Cost £0. Available for IOS/Android/Windows Phone/Windows/Mac)

Dropbox is really just your basic minimum, it’s a syncing, backup and file storage solution. Install it on your computer(s) and it’ll keep the folder synchronised across everything and make the files available to your on all your mobile devices. You can also share people links to files or entire folders, rather than sending documents backwards and forwards. Importantly, some apps listed below also allow direct access to Dropbox, meaning you’re not linked into any device specific ecosystems for file access and sharing. While the basic Dropbox package is free for 2Gb of storage, you can get 1Tb of storage for £7.99 per month.

Drafts

(Cost £7.99. Available for iOS only)

Drafts is sadly iOS only. All Drafts does is give you a blank page to create text notes, and that really is all. It gets you in fast, files your snippets away, and then gives you the opportunity to transfer the notes to social networks, Dropbox, Evernote or a variety of other destinations by a powerful series of tools. Drafts also support Markdown, for those people who use that. Use it when you need minimal friction between your device and the words battering away at your brain.

Evernote

(Cost £0. Available for IOS/Android/Windows Phone/Windows/Mac)

Evernote is a great way of organising all those little snippets you acquire over time, the little notes and photos and ideas and documents. All can be tagged and sorted and organised, making it easy to find those ideas again when you’re looking for a specific note or some inspiration. I use it by using the web clipper to clip web pages I find as I browse, sending notes from Drafts and using IFTTT to sync favourited tweets and photos.

Microsoft Word

(Cost £0. Available for IOS/Android/Windows)

As opposed to Drafts, Microsoft Word is a fully fledged word processor, and the mobile implementation, especially for tablets, is pretty good. It can even open documents from Dropbox and save them back there. Much as some would like to leave the hegemony of MS word, people are still going to use it and so we need to be able to open and edit the documents.

iAnnotate

(Cost £7.99. Available for IOS/Android)

There is a lot of competition amongst mobile PDF annotation apps, but my vote goes to iAnnotate. It does the job well, and is incredibly useful when someone inevitably send you a PDF of their work to review. It too can open from Dropbox.

Fade In Mobile

(Cost £3.99. Available for IOS/Android)

I’m a big fan of Fade In screenwriting software, and the mobile implementation is pretty good as well. And, it too can open from and sync with Dropbox.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus

(Cost £2.99. Available for IOS/Android/Windows)

The M-W dictionary and thesaurus app is excellent. There are cheaper versions out there, and even British English specialised dictionaries, but I find that M-W blows them away, and also differentiates between British and American usages.

Do you have any others you can’t live without? Any replacements for any of the above, or comments on the ones I’ve chosen? Let me know!

Screenwriting Back To Basics

Last year, Scott Myers of Go Into The Story posted up a series of articles that were useful but I felt didn’t get as much traction as I thought they deserved. So, for your reading pleasure, I present to you Scott’s complete Screenwriting Back To Basics series.

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 1: Writing Scenes

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 2: Protagonist Metamorphosis Arc

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 3: Plot = Structure

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 4: Character = Function

Screenwriting Back to Basics, Day 5: Reader Identification

 

Review: Big Hero 6 & Feast

Sometimes fortune can smile on you, and a meander past BFI Southbank and a peruse through the available films led me to successfully enquire about the scant remaining tickets. And so I found myself in NFT1 on a Sunday afternoon with an auditorium full of exciting young people for a preview of Big Hero 6.

Feast DogAs has once again become a tradition with Disney, the film was preceded by a new short film, the Oscar-nominated Feast. Disney uses these animated shorts as a testing ground for talent and technology, and Feast continues this as Paperman did in 2012. It’s a charming dog’s-eye tale of food and love, and it utterly delighted the audience, myself included. Considering though that Disney doesn’t see their animated shorts as commercial endeavours, it’s a shame they don’t do more to make them publicly available once the film festival screenings are over.

But the main event was Big Hero 6 itself. Some people have described it as ‘Frozen for boys’, in that both cover the theme of siblings and dealing with loss, but it didn’t have that feel for me. While the theme may have been a match for Frozen, I thought it felt more like How To Train a Dragon crossed with The Incredibles.

Based on one of Marvel’s more obscure properties, this is ostensibly a superhero team origin story, though this is an aspect of the story that is rapidly glossed over. Something I’m not too unhappy about, after all, aren’t we all a little saturated with origin stories?

It allows Big Hero 6 to focus on what Disney does best when Disney does it well: the emotional journey and general cuteness. In this case they have done very well indeed. There’s no doubt that with inflatable ‘personal healthcare companion’ robot Baymax, whose walk was modelled on that of baby penguins, they have created an endurable character, utterly different from other robots and from its Marvel origins. And the slightly trippy emotional climax at the end hugely affected the audience.

After the film, which the mostly younger audience loved, there was a Q&A with director Don Hall and producer Roy Conli. There was some curated talk about creative process which was good, but the questions from the audience were worth waiting for, once they got restricted to the under-12s. My favourite was by a little girl who was baffled as to how the humans were made to fly for the film. Director Don Hall did a sterling job answering the question in such a way that didn’t dispel the illusion that there was no difference between animation and people than can fly.

I’m not sure Big Hero 6 will attain the popularity of FrozenTangled or the peaks of Pixar’s output, but I enjoyed it and, more importantly, its target audience did too.

Screencraft Competition Dates 2015

To allow you to plan your submissions to Screencraft’s various screenwriting contests, here are all their dates for 2015:

SHORTS SCREENPLAY CONTEST
JANUARY 19 – APRIL 6

COMEDY SCREENPLAY CONTEST
JANUARY 28 – APRIL 11

HORROR SCREENPLAY CONTEST
MARCH 17 – JULY 1

PILOT LAUNCH TV SCRIPT CONTEST
JUNE 1 – AUGUST 31

ACTION & THRILLER SCREENPLAY CONTEST
JULY 15 – OCTOBER 15

SCREENWRITING FELLOWSHIP
OCTOBER 1 – DECEMBER 10

FAMILY SCREENPLAY CONTEST
NOVEMBER 4 – DECEMBER 30

Coen Brothers Scripts

Poster No Country For Old MenAll screenwriters are always advised to read as many screenplays as possible; who better to learn from than those who have gone before us? And who could deny the impact the Coen Brothers have had on filmmaking?

So, it is kind of the brothers to make their screenplays available on their website.

Therein you’ll find the scripts for: A Serious Man, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, Blood Simple, Burn After Reading, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Intolerable Cruelty, Ladykillers, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Millers Crossing, No Country For Old Men, O Brother Where Art Thou and True Romance.