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Can anyone recommend a simple script template?
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Total posts: 245
Joined: 10 year(s) ago
Posted 9:03 PM Mar. 16, 2010

Can anyone recommend a simple script template?

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I've been writing scripts for a long time and I have yet to find a solution to the problem of clients messing up the formatting. As I see it, there are five alternatives.


1. Have them buy, or buy for them, dedicated script-writing software like Final Draft (for screenplay format) or Final Draft A/V (for two-column scripts). This won't eliminate the problem but it could minimize the errors . . . assuming they take the time to learn the software.


2. Use Celtx, a free, cross-platform script writing and formatting program available at http://www.celtx.com/. It has templates for a variety of scripts including stage plays and comic books, but not two-column scripts. This has the advantage of not costing anything, but still has the same difficulties as #1.


3. Use a template for Microsoft Word. I, personally, don't like Word very much, but the latest versions aren't as clunky and awkward as its predecessors. There are templates for any type of document you can imagine available, including screenplay and two-column script formats. Click here for a Google search for two-column templates and instructions. I don't recommend this, since it's too easy to change the formatting in Word and then "messed up" is a mild description what can happen. I don't know of any template without this problem.


4. Create an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) version of the script. I believe there are "collaboration" features in Acrobat like highlighting and attaching notes. The advantage is that the reader can't change the document's format. The disadvantage is getting the client to learn the software.


5. Have the client print the script, mark it up with pen or pencil, then send it back (via fax if necessary . . . do we still send faxes?). This is slow, clumsy, and somewhat prone to errors, but at least it leaves the script format intact and requires no new knowledge on the part of the client.


It may sound like I'm coming down hard on clients. That is not my intention. They're busy people with concerns of their own, and I think it's unfair to ask them to learn a new piece of software just to accommodate their video producer.


As a non-theatrical writer, I use Final Draft A/V 2.5 for two-column scripts. For clients who insist on revising a digital document, I export to Rich Text Format (.rtf), which can be read by Word and various other formats. When the document comes back, I just put up with the messed-up format in the name of keeping things moving.


I'd love to find a better way, too. You can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes longer.

Bill Doorley
Writer/Producer