Word Processor Wish List

There’s no word processing software dedicated to playwriting. There are several screenwriting apps that have stage play templates, but they’re somewhat inadequate.

Over the years, I’ve used: (here goes) Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, FadeIn, Celtx, and Highland. I’ve also written plays in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, and Libre Office (Writer). I’ve written one rough draft by hand. And would do it again. Admittedly, the typing up part is boring.

Currently, I use a combination of FadeIn and Libre, and my workhorse computer is a Framework 13 laptop running Linux Debian 12x. I jumped to FadeIn, in large part, because it develops for Linux. Yay them. The vast, vast majority of my pieces have been written in Final Draft and OpenOffice. Both have served me well, but I became disaffected with Final Draft because of its slow, ridonculously pricy, and unimpressive upgrades. I switched from OpenOffice to Libre — both free and open-source — because the OpenOffice project has been more or less abandoned. If you’re unfamiliar with Libre, check it out.

But what do I want?

I want a playwriting app with a character page feature (not a title page feature I have to tweak). I’d also like a dedication page. A scene listing page. Even a bibliography page.

I want a playwriting app with highly customizable elements in addition to the standard and modern templates. In the theatre world, standard format is pretty much passé. Look at the formatting of younger, great playwrights and you’ll see what I mean.

I want a playwriting app that, like any old word processor, can insert footnotes. (And maybe even pictures?)

The character page ought to have drag-and-drop elements. What I frequently need to add, for submissions, is a synopsis section.

This wish list is one reason why many playwrights simply write in MS Word! But the advantages of script-specific apps are too good to let go of: automatic continuing of dialogue being the biggest one. But their analysis features are also terrifically helpful.

My dream playwriting app could also export to standard documents formats, such as .docx. It would be able to melt PDFs and create editable PDFs. It would have a musical format. And a BBC radio format.

While I’m at it, I might as well wish for an app that has built in encryption features.

Because the playwriting market is so small compared to the screenwriting market, I may have to learn how to code. Dare I? I don’t know. One option I’ve begun to look into is building an extension for Visual Studio. A screenwriting extension called BetterFountain, of course, already exists. The question is, How many people are willing to work with markup language like Highland uses? Not many! The masses want what-you-see-is-what-you-get interfaces.

Now, theoretically, this ought to be easy. The code for all this is lying around in the open. It hasn’t been done because it wouldn’t be really, really lucrative. It would be a passion project on behalf of the theatre community.