In our recent post featuring a video interview with The Spectacular Now screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the writing partners explain that they collaborate on their screenplays from separate locations with Weber in New York City and Neustadter in Santa Monica. With the Internet, Dropbox, Google Docs, email and any other number of file sharing tools now available to us, long-distance screenwriting partnerships are certainly more common. Final Draft and Celtx both offer screenwriting collaboration tools, but both applications have their limitations. If you and your writing partner need real-time screenwriting collaboration capabilities over the Internet, the new WriterDuet may be the app for you. Oh, and it's free.
Thanks to Craig Mazin for mentioning WriterDuet as his One Cool Thing on this week's episode of ScriptNotes. Personally, I write my screenplays alone, but I recognize that someday, I may end up partnering with another writer or director to work on a screenplay. Quite possibly, that collaborator may not live in the same town, so online screenwriting collaborative tools certainly intrigue me.
Both Final Draft and Celtx have versions of collaboration tools, but their capabilities are limited. Final Draft offers Collabowriter, but it doesn't allow simultaneous writing and editing. One writer is the host who sends an IP address to a guest. The guest can then see the host writing in the screenplay, but if the guest wants to edit something, the guest has to request control from the host. Celtx offers online screenwriting collaboration through its Celtx Edge cloud-based subscription service for $9.99/month or $69.99/year. Celtx lets multiple people edit a screenplay simultaneously, but they have to work on separate scenes. Celtx doesn't seem to provide online collaborative editing of the same scene at the same time.
Enter WriterDuet, a new, free online collaborative app that allows multiple writers to collaborate on a screenplay online in real time. Collaborators can write and edit any scene simultaneously and see the additions and changes of their partners as they happen on the screen. WriterDuet can import PDF, Final Draft (.fdx), Celtx and Fountain formats, plus export to all of those same formats as well as Word and text formats. All changes to a script are autosaved and users can archive a specific version of the screenplay at any time.
WriterDuet provides the standard screenplay formatting tools, using both a toolbar and the tried-and-true Tab key to allow writers to move between screenplay elements. Command and Control keys show keyboard shortcuts to the screenwriting elements and editing tools. WriterDuet also offers group chat, video chat and text chat with collaborators. Users can track who made each change line-by-line. Collaborators can invite reviewers to read their screenplays and add notes.
WriterDuet uses SSL security and generates random access codes that collaborators use to share with each other. Only the writer and the people the writer chooses to access the screenplay can see the file.
WriterDuet is free, but is currently only available online, which makes sense for an online screenwriting collaboration app. WriterDuet is developing a desktop version that will allow offline editing, and will charge money for this version.
Is WriterDuet the online screenwriting collaboration app you need? How does WriterDuet compare with your current methods of online screenwriting collaboration? Take WriterDuet for a test drive at its website, then share your thoughts and comparisons to your screenwriting collaboration workflows in the comments.