How do most screenwriters write their script?
For some, the idea of handwriting can make for a more organic approach, similar to the idea of actually holding a book in one’s hands as opposed to reading off an e-reader. The tactile feeling of holding a pen, allowing your thoughts to traverse the page without the rigidity of type, one can understand how this would have a much more freeing feeling. The process certainly has much more of an art to it incorporating one’s personal style without the conformity of margins, new lines and fixed fonts.
While scripts are eventually set in a very stylised, routine and organised fashion in order to represent certain industry standards and be taken seriously, the art of actually getting there can be a wonderfully eclectic process. The tension between adhering to certain frameworks and formulas versus trying something unique, different and original exists in a similar way to how freestyle handwriting and typing contrast.
While handwritten screenplays and novels have a much more old school and creative feeling, there are plenty of benefits to typing. Being able to use a typewriter has a certain nostalgia, yet weighing it up against the ability to make instant edits and evolve your screenplay without having to reprint it all the time just makes it more convenient. Having a preset typeface, the option to adjust the spacing and page setup comes with a certain freedom of its own.
Another aspect to consider is that the uniformity of it all contributes to a more organised flow of thought and ideas. Keeping a digital copy means that it can’t be burnt, lost, stolen or easily damaged. The handwritten screenplay seems quite archaic by today’s standards, which is probably why most people tend to sit behind a laptop rather than a typewriter or with a pen and paper. Perhaps the planning phase is better expressed through pen and paper, yet the actual writing part comes more easily in front of a word processor.
An improvement one could consider would be to return to the more natural, organic feeling of writing is speech recognition software. The technology has come a long way since its inception, has a built-in spell check and allows the author or screenwriter to present a much more casual tone, which would benefit the screenplay’s realism. Having to speak every line, will give the script a much more organic and spontaneous tone simply because things have to be spoken as a conversation rather than typed mechanically.
When people first start using speech recognition software it may seem quite foreign and difficult to compose one’s thoughts out loud. The idea of typing, correcting and editing one’s work and thought seems much easier to do with the keyboard. However, one needs to remember that even the input process of using a keyboard took days, weeks and months for one to become adept. The same can be said for composing one’s thoughts out loud.
Products like Dragon NaturallySpeaking have become critical in the legal and medical industries, or for anyone that really needs to generate text. With many academics being pressured to produce more research papers, the idea of being able to dictate instead of type hunched over a keyboard is becoming more and more attractive. Even for supervisors, who have to make in-line comments to provide valuable feedback to students trying to complete their masters or doctorate degrees, it almost becomes a necessity. While not quite as popular at the moment, the software should be adopted by screenwriters and authors. There are already several instances where authors have actually written novels using speech recognition software, but for some reason it hasn’t become the norm.
There are many factors at play, including the transition phase and what one is used to, with many returning to their old habits after struggling to get the program to work efficiently. The software requires some massaging in order for it to work optimally, usually on the back of some training and recommended settings, allowing the user more freedom and independence, customising the product to meet their needs and including words that are used in their sphere.
While it takes some getting used to, it’s the kind of thing that should become more mainstream, allowing people to actually sit back in their chairs rather than hunched over typing in a very unnatural position. Avoiding repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and generating text much faster than typing for most people, it seems like a no-brainer.
The software is becoming much more accessible, more accurate out-of-the-box and even more cost effective, making it seem only inevitable that it should eventually go this way. Mobile phones and speech recognition built into many applications make the concept seem less foreign and with the advances in technology with most new tech products coming with built in speech recognition capability, it seems only like a matter of time before we all start operating like Star Trek command.