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Adobe Story First Look Preview

It's a great way to develop and write screenplays, teleplays, and video scripts - and is a 'cloud computing' app! By Heath McKnight

Adobe Story is the newest application from the company that brought us Photoshop and other great apps. Adobe Story is a great new way to develop and write screenplays, teleplays, and video scripts. It's a fully featured app that is highly compatible with many of the popular screenwriting and pre-production software. Best part? It works "in the clouds," ie, it's Internet-based as well as a standalone app.

Adobe was kind enough to allow me to use Story for this "first-look preview," and I immediately jumped in with a project I'd been wanting to develop for a few years. It's been close to three years since I made my last feature film "9:04 AM" and two years since we shot my last short, so I'm ready to write!

The layout is very simple: You create a new Project or a bunch of Projects (which are under the Categories--you can create these as well) which you name, and inside of there you can create and develop Character Bios, work on the Synopsis, and write the Script (yes, it does the proper formatting for you, just like the popular screenwriting apps!). You can also easily collaborate, which I'll talk about a little later.

Adobe Story

"Create New Scripts, Character Bios and Synopses in Adobe Story.

Yes I know most new screenwriting apps, or a group of apps that work together, feature multiple ways to work on scripts, but there's nothing quite like Adobe Story. Plus, when I started writing 14-plus years ago, I was using Apple's ClarisWorks! By 2000, I was using ClarisWorks and Final Draft. As recently as three to four years ago, I was using Final Draft, Microsoft Word and Excel, Email, and more to develop and write screenplays, so this is great!

Anyway, if you're like me, you use the Syd Field ( approach to screenwriting. I've been using this method of three-act structured scripts since I was in college years ago, and it suits me well. So what's really cool about working with Adobe Story is I can have one place to work on everything. As I mentioned above, it's great using Adobe Story instead of using multiple writing apps to work on character development, plot, and so on.

For the script I'm developing, I've only had the smallest of ideas for what I want the movie to ultimately be, so I was able to work on the plot and really flesh it out, along with the characters, the story structure, and more. I had written a scene in Final Draft 8, one of my favorite writing apps, and so I decided to just upload what I'd done (about five pages) to Adobe Story. I was able to continue working on the script from there.

What's nice for this "cloud app" is that I can save by hitting Command-S (in Apple), instead of having to use File, Save inside the web app (which you can also do). Unfortunately, in other "cloud apps" such as Google Docs, you have to stop what you're doing to do the File and Save, which always slows writers down. I'm a keyboard shortcut kinda guy! Same with Printing (Command-P), new documents, and so on. Very cool! Plus other functions, like Edit (Undo, Copy, Paste, etc.), and View (Zoom In/Out, Formatting Toolbar, Full Screen, etc.).

By the way, I'm still early in the process of working on this screenplay, so I'm sorry I'm not quite as open as to what the movie will be about. But I think it's going to be very cool and will hopefully have a nice, wide appeal! Plus, there are "Authoring" tabs within each project, so if I have the Script open and I forget where the action's going next, I can click on the synopsis tab and get back on track. Or if I start to lose sight of the characters, I can click over to the character tab(s) and review. Screenwriting takes a lot of organization, and having it all in one place vs. several different documents and writing apps is what makes Adobe Story so strong.

You can use the Outline view to see what scene you're on, use colored Character dots to see character's names and use the tool tip. You can use SmartType to simplify what you're writing, so you're not constantly hammering "Int. Office - Day" over and over again. Plus, you can create Bookmarks so you can go back to certain moments to work on them more.

Sharing and Exporting
Once you're done working on it, you can Share (found under File) with whomever you're collaborating with, or you can show off the script and such to cast and crew but keep them from making any changes. You can add an email of who you'll Share with, and indicate if they're a Co-Author, Reviewer, Reader, or Tagger.

Share your work from Adobe Story.
If you're ready to export, you can do so as a CSV, PDF, Final Draft 8 document, Adobe Story script, or a plain old text document. If you're doing pre-production work, you can export the script in the mega-popular Movie Magic Scheduler. In the future, there are also possible export options including an OnLocation XML file (to use Adobe's excellent OnLocation production app) and a Word document.

Plenty of Export options.

Integrating With Adobe Production Premium
You'll be able to integrate your script with Adobe Production Premium via Adobe Story metadata, helping to streamline the workflow. Stay tuned because I'm going to try this out in the future.

Adobe Story is probably the EASIEST way to collaborate, but first let me explain how I currently collaborate on scripts and how it's really a nuisance: The way I work with a co-writer is I will normally write an entire draft of the script, sometimes a few drafts, sometimes just the first rough draft. I will then send my co-writer a copy of the document and add the date in the name of the document (example: "904am_7-15-05"), along with the character bios (which I sometimes do as one document or multiple ones), synopsis/plot, and so on. It can add up to several email attachments! My co-writer will do a Save As and add the new date in the name, and work on it and send it back via Email for me to do some revisions, and so on. After a while, if we have a whole ton of these titled/dated copies of the script! The final one I'll call Final and date it. Pain-in-the-neck, huh? Not too efficient if one of us forgets to re-name it.

Here's how Adobe Story kicks so much butt when it comes to collaborating: it's cloud-based! Whether I've developed the story and characters alone along with writing the first draft or two and am ready to give Co-Author permissions to my fellow writer to start revisions, or if we're developing everything together, it's so easy via the Share function that I talked about above.

Adobe was kind enough to allow one of my collaborators, Jeremiah Hall (, to work with me on this review. Jeremiah and I have been working together for close to nine years. Whether he's co-writing a script, shooting my film, doing graphics, co-producing, etc., he's one of my go-to guys. So how'd it go for us, and what do we think?

It's darn simple to create multiple projects in one category, so if we're both working on our current movie, I can be working on a short script that I only want him to be a reviewer on, and he can do the same, too. Or we can keep it top secret from each other, in case one of us decides the movie is so bad, the other will laugh and point. Maybe not that harsh, but we're each others' best and worst critics.

We both love Final Draft, but Jeremiah found himself using the screenwriting software that's part of Adobe Story more and more. I'm still working on the character and synopsis developments, so I haven't gotten completely used to working with that yet (hey, cut me some slack--I'm a 9+ year Final Draft user). And if you want to keep using your favorite screenwriting software, that's okay--just upload new versions and export the Adobe Story revisions. Which can add up in the multiple copies department. Also, if one of us is writing and the other decides to see what's going on, he or I can see changes happen as the other hits Save.

The only thing I'd be worried about is the tendency to want to go back and revise what my co-writer is revising, and not moving forward enough. It's a problem for writers: you re-write your beginning over and over and never get to the second or third acts and finish a first draft then work on the revisions. But that's a personal issue for me, not a problem within Adobe Story.

But what I love best of all is that I'm not sending multiple attachments of the script, synopsis/plot, and character bios. And no re-naming the screenplay with the date and having a whole ton of those floating around, clogging up the hard drive. It's all done within Adobe Story! All in all, Jeremiah and I loved collaborating with Adobe Story. Soon, I'll be working with my other collaborator, Grant Balfour (

With the release of the Adobe Story Public Beta, others will be able to check out all the terrific functions, "cloud" apps, and the ease-of-use of working with this groundbreaking new program. For more information, visit Be sure to check out Windows and Mac system specs and browser recommendations under the technical requirements.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:screenwriting software, adobe story preview, filmmaking,

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