Script Studio at v1.0.1 costs a shirt-load of dollars for what is simply an update to version 4 of Movie Outliine 3. However, it has two brilliant functions that compel a novelist, short story writer, playwrite or Screenwriter to try it out. Firstly the beautiful Courier Nuvo font is so much better than Courier or Courier Prime and secondly because of its core outlining function based on Alexander (Sandy) McKendrick's work at Cal Tech called Step Outlines.
What is a Step Outline
“Steps” are “events” in a timeline of your characters’ histories in your story. Which means that each step in a step outline can consist of more than one scene in your eventual screenplay. So a Step Outline is a writer's sketch (an illustrator would use simple pencil sketches ).
Benefits of Step Outlining
By creating a step outline, you will create a much stronger story structure than you would have by simply sitting down to write a 90-page script and seeing where it takes you. And most importantly, you will save a whole lot of time in the rewriting stage of your project.
Why Step Outline
There are a few different writing software options that accommodate Step Outlines so adroitly - Script Studio is among the best because it folds in so many other writing functions - such as character development and so on. But at the end of the day you can use any word processing or screenwriting software to make a step outline. Scrivener and Fade In are among the best.
What Does a step Outline Look Like?
It looks like a series of paragraphs, each separated by a single white space. But little tricks in Step Outlines, such as writing a scene header at the top of each paragraph to help you to organise your thoughts and remember what has happened earlier in the story. This process is actually formatted in Script Studio - it is meant to work that way and has a core function to set it out perfectly.
Synopses of Action
What you write into those step outline paragraphs is important. Think of them as synopses of the action which occurs in a larger scene, or in several smaller, connected scenes. You don't include dialogue. Script Studio helps you to be economical in your writing, and try to get the general idea down as quickly as possible and move on. It stops you wasting time nitpicking every little detail.
For the first pass, just get the ideas down.
How to use your Step Outline
Count your pages. Assuming you have set your document format with 1-inch margins all around, and you are using a 12-point type (preferably Courier Nuvo), and you have numbered your pages, then you are doing it right. So, count your pages. If your total is somewhere between 12 and 15 pages, then you have a step outline which will most closely translate into a 90-page script.
Once you are thinking in terms of story steps you are truly thinking in terms of plot and plot points. And that is where I take my Script Studio work back to Scrivener (for novels) or FadeIn (for screenplays).
At the moment is about the buggiest software I have ever put on my computer and the company are still a bit defensive about their new baby. That said, I think I'll persist with it to help me with character development and step outlines but do my actual writing in Scrivener or FadeIn.