This Tuesday I reach into the toolbox and pull out... Storyist, for the iPad. Last week I talked about how the nifty, trendy, costly little contraption from Apple has become indispensable to my writing, this week I'll share the app that has made it so. Indispensible, that is.
To be quite honest about things, Storyist is far more important of a tool than the iPad, but, of course, won't run on my Seiko so it gets the number 2 spot. I understand that there is a Mac version of the program too. I haven't used it but if I had a Mac I definitely would. Storyist is that good.
What makes it so good? It works.
Storyist is, at its core, a word processing app for the iPad. You can write anything you want using Storyist. It's not as powerful as the top desktop applications are today, but you can do everything that the early generations of Word Perfect, WordStar, or even Word could do and you can do it more easily. No dot commands or obtuse menus.
The formatting required for writing screenplays is very exacting and Storyist handles it all. Switching between action, characters, dialogue, sluglines, or anything is simple and intuitive. The transitions are customizable to fit your writing style. It has an "auto-suggest" that manages to be helpful without You can type the first couple of letters of a character's name and up pops the whole thing. What a time saver if you have someone named CAPTAIN WILLIAM "BUCK" ROGERS with lines in every scene. (If his name was ANTHONY “BUCK” ROGERS then you’re probably writing silent film… okay, it wasn't that old.)
Wait! That’s not all. There are project templates for Screenplays, Novels, and “General” – which is just a blank file. The template project files set up the formatting for industry submission standards and provide the organizational folders you will need to hold your "story sheets" - notes that are specific to characters, scenes, settings, plot points, or what have you. The story sheets are a great way to organize your ideas and all tie in to each other. It sounds complicated but it isn’t. You can even include photos if you want – to remind you of what that perfect setting looks like or if there's an actor who looks exactly like Gil Gerard.
There is also a notecard feature. The notecard feature in Storyist completely changed how I wrote long fiction. It's why I was able to churn out a "way too long but finished" 172 page first draft of my first screenplay in a month. The notecards tie directly to the main body of the text. Sluglines serve as card headers. You can put notes on the cards to describe the scene in you have in mind and then move on to the next. You can write in any order. You can color code. You can rearrange - and when you rearrange the card, the entire section in the main file moves too! You don't miss bits and pieces. That's especially important for the iPad where you don't have a mouse. The note card feature is available in any of the templates so if you are writing a research paper you have the same benefit.
You can share files from Storyist directly with iTunes and Dropbox. It will export in all of the standard formats (including .PDF) plus Final Draft. It also IMPORTS Final Draft format and text files. I happen to like that since I use Final Draft on my desktop. I import a lot of text files too – mostly scripts that I’m reading that aren’t in PDF (which I read using the Nook) because it’s easy to organize them and I can make notes.
I have also tried the "Novel" template and it works. There isn't as much in it compared to the screenplay template, but then, you don't need as much. The writing is very easy, I didn't spend my time fighting with a program that was creating lists and bullets or reformatting my text all of the time. That’s what makes it such an amazing tool. In 15 minutes you’ve learned it and then the only thing you ever think about is what you are writing.
Storyist is not a free app, but at $7.99 it is a bargain if you have an iPad and do any sort of writing. The $40 for Final Draft is a rip-off. Forgive me for being blunt. There are a couple of free or nearly free screenwriting apps but they aren't worth the trouble. Storyist is seamless. I've been using it for nearly six months and still love it. Sometimes I'll even work from the iPad in Storyist when I'm home and have access to "the big guns" just because it's so basic and effective.
Buying Storyist gets the zombie pass because if you write and have an iPad it's a... "no brainer." I am so hilarious.