Write screenplays with Kit Scenarist

Centerpiece

The Script window is the heart of the program. Here you can see one way that screenwriting software makes your work easier. On the left side of the window is the overview with the scenes; here you can simply re-sort the order using drag and drop. On the right there are buttons to format elements directly. In the center is the area for writing.

Since you start with an empty document, the program knows that a Scene Heading is missing – pressing the spacebar immediately prompts the program to suggest appropriate words for a heading.

If you want to insert the Scene Characters, click on the corresponding button on the right; otherwise just start writing – the program formats your input automatically.

It's a good idea to record the Scene Characters, though, because there are always scenes where characters appear but have no dialogue – for example, when a character witnesses an action because they need to report on it later on. Among other things, the Statistics module lists Scene Characters with and without dialogue.

The software also offers the possibility to compare versions, but only if you saved them manually. Automatically saved versions are left out here for some unknown reason.

If you use the Character button, the software will immediately offer the characters known so far, whether from the research or from the roles mentioned so far. This saves you a good deal of typing and makes your writing more efficient.

After the Character, the program will switch to the format for a dialogue and then back to Character the next time the Enter key is pressed (Figure 5). You can start a new scene manually by clicking the corresponding button or by using the shortcut Ctrl+Enter in the line. For more keyboard shortcuts, refer to Table 1.

Table 1

Kit Scenarist Shortcuts

Format

Keyboard shortcut

Scene heading

Ctrl+Enter

Scroll

Ctrl+E

Action

Ctrl+J

Role

Ctrl+U

Dialogue

Ctrl+L

Stage Direction

Ctrl+H

Shot

Ctrl+P

Transition

Ctrl+G

Do not print

Ctrl+Esc

Lyrics

Ctrl+K

Figure 5: The heart of the program, the screenplay view, formats all parts of the script according to the specifications from the template.

Statistics

Although most of the overviews offered are more useful for the later implementation of the script, they can already be of some help in the writing process. In particular, it can be tricky to develop a script that meets specific targets for running time. The use of clearly defined formats helps to estimate the approximate length, and Kit Scenarist even helps with this as you write, displaying the time for each scene as well as the total time in the upper right corner.

Kit Scenarist provides overviews of the distribution of dialogue among characters (Figure 6). It also shows the locations, as well as the overall structure of the script – that is, how much dialogue, how much action, and how much stage direction or other elements it contains (Figure 7). This will help you find places you could restructure or perhaps cut to reduce the length of the screenplay.

Figure 6: The Cast Report shows the number of scenes in which a role appears and where it has dialogue.
Figure 7: Kit Scenarist provides extensive statistics, including a summary report that provides great detail about the script's structure.

The last module gives you the ability to restore backup versions. Kit Scenarist saves the current document every five minutes by default unless you change this.

Conclusions

I did have some difficulty with a few aspects of the program. The developers seem unfamiliar with many of the mechanisms used for free software in general and Linux distributions in particular. When I contacted the developers to suggest that it was inconvenient to have to regularly check the website to see if a new version was ready, there was only a reference to new websites that offer push messages. The fact that dictionaries can be installed and updated as files via the distribution seems completely unfamiliar to the developers. They also struggle with security issues: In my experience, none of the packages on the project's download pages were signed.

However, if you can live with these issues, there are many reasons to like Kit Scenarist. It offers a tidy user interface, and all the important functions are present and work excellently. While there are some less useful components, such as the card overview, and many of the statistics are not especially helpful during the initial writing, the program is still quite practical, and far more convenient than a word processor.

The Author

Sirko Kemter uses screenwriting in language classes to get young people interested in reading and to teach them the function of grammar.

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