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Contour was developed in collaboration with Emmy Award-nominated Jeffrey Alan Schechter; Contour is a proven, fill-in-the blanks story development system that has generated millions of dollars worth of writing assignments and script sales. The software uses the same character-based structure that most every blockbuster movies uses to create well-written stories from Fade In to Fade Out. Contour shows exactly what elements need to be in a script, never leaving the question, "what comes next?"

Minimum Theory, Maximum Story

Unlike other story development systems which are either so complicated that you more...

What's New

Version 1.2.8:
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion compatibility.


OS X 10.6 or later

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Contour User Discussion

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Hastings Member IconReview+1

I have been using Contour 1.2.8 to organize screenplays. It's especially helpful if you've read My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by Jeffrey Alan Schecter. I read Story by Robert McKee before Schecter's book, and Contour also works for that, but it you'll get more out of it if you've read Schecter's book.

Schecter's book helps you think about how to organize your screenplay, and Contour makes it easy to implement that organization. It has a lot of example movies that show you how the concepts become concrete. The final product is a treatment.

Contour is intended for the writing of a two-hour movie, but I am using it to plan a serialized TV show because it's helping me to round out my characters and organize a season. At some point I may need to take the organization out of Contour to organize one-hour shows, but I may not need to. At any rate, Contour will have helped me cover all the bases of effective storytelling.

It has an internal database to record and organize those ideas that come to you in a flash. The database has a simple, one-window interface. Contour also has a button that displays your treatment as a whole and lets you edit it, helpful for when you want to focus on the flow of the entire story.

I always try to describe a flaw when I write a review, but I can't really think of one.

Reply1 reply
Version 1.2.8

Thanks for sharing your experience with Contour in a way that gives me an idea what it does and what to expect from it. A lot of members here on MacUpdate seem to be panning the Mariner software for various reasons of their own, few of which seem justified or rational.

I already have licenses for much of Mariner's software. We all know that they have an aggressive marking program which results in an email offer of one product or another, often bundle, at prices that ultimately turn out to be 50% of the retail prices. The latest offer is a three-element Novel Writer's bundle and a Screenwriter's bundle.

Contour and Persona are common in each bundle; StoryMill and Montage are the variables. Since I already have a license for StoryMill, I will be buying the ScriptWriter's bundle.

I have read many books on writing and screenwriting, but I have been out of the game for awhile for various reasons. After I complete the website for the distribution of an eBook I wrote, I will be at the point of developing a new project (while managing the website and its content updates). One of the project I am considering will be a screenplay based on the contents of the eBook, a nonfiction series of events in a story that is not yet over. Else I would be, too.

I don't want to have to re-read all the scriptwriting books on my shelves or attend yet another seminar. I've done all that. But I don't have, nor do I want, a collaborator. But I would like someone, something to interact with, as I go deep into my mind to ferret out the details and create the structure of the screenplay(s) that I may finally get around to writing.

If, as you imply, Contour—and for that matter, Persona and Montage—can be my "collaborators" in the sense that they will stimulate my thinking about anything related to crafting my screenplay, whether that be characterization, plotting, structuring, organizing, and even formatting, then I will consider the money I spend on these programs to be worthwhile indeed.

For creative people ideas are everything. They come from everywhere, if we allow ourselves to be open to receiving them. If I sit down with a real person as a collaborator, and if I write anything that is remotely related to a conversation we had about a project that I was contemplating, and if what I write gets transformed into a screenplay and then into a movie, you can bet that my "collaborator" will find some eager attorney who will pester me and my producers with a claim for compensation based on a charge of intellectual property theft. Who needs the hassle?

If I can get a remotely similar degree of stimulation from a generically based software program who helps me to cover all the bases that I should be considering when writing my story, it seems to me that, for only $25 and no risk of being sued in the future, such software could become my new best friends.

I cannot, of course, how well my new best friends will fulfill my expectations. People write their comments to essentially express their appreciation or their disappointment. In my experience, the greater the amount of expectation one places on another with whom one enters any kind of relationship, the greater the risk of being disappointed. Psychotherapists make a good living withholding this essential insight into the nature of the human character, until their clients run out of money and they feel compelled, out of compassion, to spill the beans before terminating the client, or risk witnessing the client terminating herself. So, I will keep my expectations low.

And, if I happen to glean just one good idea from my interaction with software that can't possibly let me down—because it has no personal agenda to grind other than the ax I give it (BTW, that's how relationships between real people work!)—it will have been love at first launch.

Drea 23 Member IconComment+6
Drea 23

I just downloaded Contour and I am thrilled and relieved to have found a program like this. I have never reviewed anything here before. I will be back with tangible details in a week or so. But when I saw the beauty and clarity of Contour, something in me wished to communicate, to others, to give it a try.

I can, far too easily, make my novels and stories wonderfully arcane and complicated. With Contour, I can easily discern what esoteric and decadent details will weave into my story beautifully, and which will distract from the quintessence of what I am wishing to share.

Well, I will return, with more clarity but no less enthusiasm after I dive more deeply into the profound gift that is Contour. Mac Journal is also brilliant. More soon.

Write well,


Reply0 replies
Version 1.2
Lord-Lightning Member IconReview+301

Mariner have done a fantastic polish of an excellent application previously known as Totally Write. Contour takes a 44 beat structure (called Plot Points) across a standard Feature Screenplay format. Beginning with a set of smart questions based on Dr. Carol Pearson's "The Hero Within" it guides a writer through the essential steps of a screenplay form Plot Point to Plot Point. It also lends itself to a perfect fit with a range of other professional applications such as Montage, Final Draft and Screenwriter Pro.

One of its as yet unsung abilities is in Adaptation. Any book or other text, such as a stage play, could be easily worked through Contour so that only the key plot points are written up and developed in Contour then passed over to a screenwriting application for further development.

In a nutshell, if you have an idea that that you want to take all the way to a finished screenplay then Contour will give you a rock solid structure for a 120 page script. There can be no more 55 page fizzers with Contour. Highly recommended.

Reply4 replies
Version 1.0

This guy is a Mariner shill. Check his profile for his intrusive reviews of everyone else's writing apps to advertise Scrivener/Storymill.


Er... I agree Lord Lightning is rather enthusiastic about Scrivener. But Scrivener is nothing to do with Mariner. So the "shill" libel seems ill-founded.


Uncoy claims that I am 'shill' for Mariner and Literature and Latte. Well, an enthusiast for solid applications that enable the writer's craft - yes. Unashamedly! Both Contour and Scrivener are genuine breakthrough applications in their fields and have helped writers ate all levels. Look at the list of published authors who use Scrivener for example. There is nothing much else around to enable structuring a well told story of the calibre of Contour - if there was I would be happy to point out its strengths and weaknesses so other MacUpdaters could get a feel about its value.

But, if you use the Oxford Dictionary definition of Shill then I don't meet the criteria - shill, n. slang (chiefly N. Amer.).
[Perh. abbrev. of shillaber.]

A decoy or accomplice, esp. one posing as an enthusiastic or successful customer to encourage other buyers, gamblers, etc.

However, if an application meets my standards and I feel strongly about it I think I should be free to say so. If it is a dog and makes claims that testing does not support, then I should be able to say that too.

Many, many working writers will happily endorse the outstanding apps from Mariner and Literature and Latte and post warnings about lesser apps. However, you are correct, in that these are no more and no less than another working writer's considered opinions. You are also correct to hint that others may find these lesser apps useful. So I would endorse your implied exhortation to actually download and try the Demo versions and spend your 'hard earned' on the apps that work best for YOU.

Contour and Scrivener do for writers exactly what they claim - day after day after day, so paying for them is an investment in your career as a writer.


In reply to uncoy.

My point about recommending beautiful apps for writers should be set against the writers who have already adopted Scrivener and Contour. For example: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/testimonials.php

Can't see your name there...

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Version 1.2.8
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Version 1.2.6
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Current Version (1.x)


Downloads 10,613
Version Downloads 1,367
License Demo
Date 21 Oct 2012
Platform Intel 64 / OS X / Intel 32
Price $49.95
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