updated 05:25 pm EDT, Thu July 24, 2008
F. Look: NovaMind Platinum
Writing a script for a movie, TV show or the stage isn't easy. While there are plenty of scriptwriting programs that format text automatically, few of these help you to think creatively about your story in the first place. To handle both sides of the equation, you may need to use a screenwriting module like the one in NovaMind Platinum.
The program relies on the concept of a mindmap, which lets you input ideas and organize them visually with shapes, lines and arrows. Unlike an outline that forces linear thinking, a mindmap lets you incorporate ideas as they come to you, regardless of their position in a final written work.
What makes NovaMind unique is a feature called script mapping. Few writers start their scripts at the beginning of a narrative and work progressively towards the end; somehow though, that's how most scriptwriting programs operate. Adding, deleting or rearranging scenes involves cutting, copying and pasting.
With script mapping, you first pick a mindmap template. NovaMind provides plenty of standard maps that you can use as-is, or customize with your own colors and graphics.
After choosing a particular style, the next step is to jot down ideas for your story in any order that you want, beginning for instance with a middle scene, and then jumping to the chronological start. This generates your initial mindmap.
The power of the program comes in writing your actual script. In most word processors, the longer your script becomes, the more unwieldy it can be to jump from one line of text to another, in turn making it cumbersome to rearrange, delete or modify scenes.
Under NovaMind, each idea in your script map can launch a window for entering as much (or as little) of the script as it represents. Instead of forcing you to scroll up and down through an entire document, script mapping lets you focus just on the scene you're working on.
By simply shifting the order of ideas in a map, you can rearrange scenes in your script without clumsy cutting and pasting. If you have ideas for alternate scenes, you can label them as such and store them alongside existing ideas. When printing your final script, all you have to do is select which versions you want to include.
Such flexibility is unusual or unheard of with traditional scriptwriting programs. As a result, NovaMind is a tool that liberates, instead of contrains, non-linear thinking and workflow.
Best of all, the program can save your script in the two most common formats: Final Draft and Movie Magic. If you have scripts stored in either format, you can import those scripts as a new map.
The program costs $250, which makes it comparable to both Final Draft ($229) and Movie Magic ($249.95). If you've been searching for the ultimate scriptwriting utility, NovaMind Platinum may meet your needs.