Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Mac OS logoImage via WikipediaDear You--

The following came up on the Linkedin writers' group 'Writing Mafia' today. 

Mac or PC for Screenwriting?

Hi to you all, 

 Whilst I realise that, ultimately, it is the text that must sell your work, what is the groups opinion on the best tools to help you get there? 

1. I need to buy a new laptop and although never having previously been a mac user, I quite fancy a macbook pro. Is there any justification for the extra expense? - Other than it can run Win 7, what would be the point when any new laptop will do this. 

2. What are the best tools on the market for screenwriting on either platform. Bearing in mind that most of my cash will be going on the laptop, suggestions for free tools are be as welcome as those for full commercial packages. 

 3. Any other writing tools you'd like to suggest? 

Many thanks, 

Victor O'Reilly • Mark— 
My credentials re computers are that I have no natural aptitude with them but know I need them so both use them and follow the field with something akin to a sporting interest. I have also managed to write eight books on them (one a NYT Best Seller) – and in the process to have gained hard won experience. For various reasons, mostly to do with affordability and my investment in software, I have stuck with PCs – and I regret that decision. Here are my thoughts from over two decades in the trenches: 

1. You should, without hesitation, opt for a Mac. All my writer friends who use Macs seem to have less trouble and be more productive than those who use PCs – and that has been the pattern for years. True, PCs have now become more usable with the introduction of Windows 7, but the Unix based Mac OS remains an innately superior operating system. 

2. Macs tend to dominate in the creative area because they have long been superior graphically and in multi-media generally. Whereas you may think multimedia unimportant if you are solely working with words, you will still find that you will need optimum multimedia capabilities if only because the overall trend is in that direction. 

3. The choice of Mac model is up to you but whatever you chose, buy plenty of memory. It’s the cheapest way of improving performance. Macs utililise RAM more efficiently than PCs but I still recommend 8MBS even though the standard is pretty much 4MBs right now. 

4. Add a second screen. It means that your main machine doesn’t have to have a large screen and yet you have the convenience of one when needed. 

5. There isn’t as much software available for Macs as with PCs, but the quality of Mac software can be higher and there is more than enough there for your chosen field. I would recommend Scrivener for general word-processing use and preliminary screenwriting, Final Draft for the product you intend to submit, and possibly DevonThink as your database. 

I’m currently overhauling my web site but it will contain an updated Writing Advice section when it is finished – and I will continue to recommend good software and anything else which may help my fellow writers. As my good friend Norman Wilson likes to say, “Pay it forward is good practice in our game.”

Veronika Kaufmann • Bottom line, you have to love your computer. At least it helps me. I love my mac. And since I come from the film industry, am used to macs. Mine is a purely subjective and emotional viewpoint. I love my computer. And I look forward everyday to using it. Doing research is simply more enjoyable on a mac. It may seen innocuous and silly, but if you search for stuff, and get awesome crystal clear pics, it makes the task that much more fun. 

Regarding software: Victor already mentioned the status there. Again, bottom line: its not about the fancy software that formats your script or novel. Word does the job in both cases. It's about the idea and how well written it is. No software can replace the editing and copy editing process. For that, you need human eyes regardless what fancy software you have.

Good luck and enjoy your new laptop.

Victor O'Reilly • Mark-- 
I agree with Veronika completely - and she conveys the tone better than I did - and the fact that Mac users tend to love their computers is no small matter because they love them for very good reasons. As for the software, of course you can get Word for the Mac - and you may prefer to go that route - but I mentioned Scrivener because it is written specifically for a writer in that it integrates a database and allows you to sort your ideas. Also, it is cheaper. As for browsing, e-mail and the like, I have switched to Google for as much as possible recently and am very pleased. And don't forget backup. Here the best way to go is via a cloud based system such as Carbonite. Also backup up on a thumb drive. 

Happy to answer any further questions. Every success @VORAuthor

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1 comment:

  1. I have to agree. I've been a PC user for what seems like millenia- and that was just restarting the damn things while I waited for them to get over their latest hissy fit. I've never had the available cash to spend that bit more on a MAC, mainly because until recently I was given a PC laptop as part of my work, but I will make sure I do next time. I see friends who have the MAC and very few problems with viruses or software breakdowns and I'm jealous.