Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teaching an Old Writer New Tricks

I will be the first to tell you that I am an infernally stubborn creature.  I am also often flummoxed by technology.  My profane vocabulary gets quite the workout daily as I struggle with my computer.  You’d think there was a fight worthy of Mad Max’s Thunderdome going on from the sounds of banging, cursing, and shouting coming from my desk.  Taking these things into account, you can imagine I am not far removed from writing with stone and chisel.

 I do resist change in many cases, so my husband was quite surprised by one item on my Christmas list this past year.  I asked for scriptwriting software, specifically Final Draft.  I kept hearing it was the be-all and end-all of writers both experienced and just starting out.

Scripts and screenplays follow very specific guidelines in formatting.  So specific, that if you don’t get it right, no one in Hollywood, Bollywood, or even small industrial film companies anywhere will take you seriously.  They will laugh, crumple your hard work into tiny little balls, and practice their aim with the wastebasket.

Mind you, I was perfectly comfortable manually inserting tabs, margins, and all that kind of thing.  I could format for film or television in my sleep.  Yet it is a time-consuming process, slowing the flow of idea onto screen.  So I took a deep breath, calmed my ‘if-it-ain’t broke-don’t-fix-it’ mentality, and put this supposedly amazing software on my wish list.  I was apparently a good girl last year, because Santa brought the goods. 

Trembling with nervousness as I always do before launching myself into the great unknown, I loaded up the computer with this program.  Then I opened it.  Then I started typing. 

And lo, there were no sounds of cursing.  No thuds of my fist pounding the desk’s surface in frustration.  No threats to the computer of seeing it crash through a window.  In fact, I believe I might have heard a choir of angels singing.  They should have been; this software deserves praise from On High. 

I am in heaven.  I, the woman who still doesn’t quite understand how to use her phone to text or take pictures, who only just this past Christmas got her first tablet (it was a tech two-fer this year), I was delighted with my gift.  My words poured from the keyboard and the software automatically formatted for me.  I sat there stunned.  I wept with adoration.  I’m now a true believer.  Well, where the scriptwriting program is concerned, anyway.  I’m still lost when it comes to most everything else.  Thank heavens I have an expert in the house (aka, my seven-year-old) to sort that stuff out.

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