Celtx the Screenwriting Software

I do the bulk of my writing using Celtx. I call it screenwriting software, but it is intended for much more than that. I just have only so many hours in a day, and can’t work on comic books, novels, plays, and radio scripts all at once.  I use it for screenplays.

Celtx does a fine job producing a script that is ready to be shared with the world.  The formatting is accurate and correct. It does all this in a fast and convenient manner. Considering it is free to download, I love it.

When creating a script, the software cleverly recognizes that hitting ENTER or the TAB key will toggle through different line styles for scene heading, action, character, or dialogue. This makes for fast and efficient typing.

The only complaint I have is that there are no keyboard shortcuts for choosing the style of a given line. This comes into play when I import a block of text and want to convert it to a script. I often have to revert to using the mouse to choose a style which gets a little clumsy. But I’m being picky.

To format a script, you do have to be connected to the internet because, apparently, the software retrieves formatting information from a secret consortium’s server bank. Or something like that. But it works, and on those rare occasions I don’t have a connection, I do something else until I am back on the grid. It’s a nit, and I just keep moving along.

Celtx also has options for sharing scripts using version control software (CVS) and is tightly integrated with the server system to pull it off, and adds nice window dressing and multi-user capability for a nominal fee. If you are collaborating, or just want to save your ass when your laptop fails you, Celtx Studios is the answer.

I have been using it for two years now, and I have used it on Windows machines and my Ubuntu laptop. I really like it, and I am willing to risk sounding like a fantard to let others know. So there.

High Concept in Film

To describe all that in a single sentence is the Zen riddle of a lifetime.

I am working up ideas for a new script, and I am going for “high concept.” I’m finding it very difficult. Most of my ideas thus far have not been high concept. I have heard various versions of what high concept means, but the one I heard today may stick.

High concept means:

  1. Great Title
  2. Fascinating Subject
  3. A Strong Hook
  4. Broad Appeal
  5. Described in a single sentence.

My approach to a great title is something that is catchy, clever, and intriguing.  It must suggest something new and yet be familiar at the same time.  I look for puns, but maybe that’s part of my problem.

A fascinating subject might be the toughest challenge.  The subject material has to get you through 15,000 words of dramatic action.  It must be something people want to experience.  It must be familiar enough to be recognized, but not so familiar that the audience knows all about the topic.

A strong hook means piquing the interest of the audience early in the drama so that they are engrossed throughout, and perhaps long after so that they tell their friends.  It also means surprising them beforehand so that they are compelled to pay money to watch the story unfold.

Broad appeal means that you have the greatest potential for paying customers.  As the author, you may care more about the story than about the number of tickets sold, but if you can’t sell tickets, you won’t be in the business.  Harsh and irrefutable.

To describe all that in a single sentence is the Zen riddle of a lifetime.  It turns generating ideas about Hollywood style genre movies into an art with demands similar to Haiku–limiting the number of words available means that each one must count and do double duty if possible.

I haven’t found an easy way to do this.  I’m grinding them out, and hoping for the best.