When it comes to screenwriting software, there are lots of options on the market. But aside from assuring proper format or making exporting easy, very few options allow you to collaborate with other writers. WriterDuet solves this by allowing any number of people collaborate in real time and see each other’s changes.
Affiliate Disclosure: I was super excited about this screenwriting software. And I reached out to the CEO to find out how I could become an affiliate (and receive compensation to promote WriterDuet). That started a dialogue which led to the interview I’ve included below:
Jason Brubaker: Today, we’re talking to Guy Goldstein. Guy is the founder and CEO of WriterDuet, a really awesome collaborative screenwriting software program. If you’ve ever tried to write a screenplay, I think this tool will really help you. So tell me a little bit about how you got started in this whole thing. I mean, you are a self-described ‘want-to-be screenwriter’ yet you’re running this really cool tool, to help other screenwriters succeed.
Guy Goldstein: Yeah, unfortunately, along with want to be, not very talented would also describe my screenwriting experience. So I was writing for a few years, trying to see if I could get into Hollywood but at the same time, I’ve been a computer programmer since I was 13. I got a job doing software, and decided I just wanted to make tools for myself.
Screenwriting Software: Why WriterDuet Is Awesome
Jason Brubaker: So what was the first thing that you built?
Guy Goldstein: The first thing I built was not Writer Duet, the first thing I built for writers was something called Read Through, which allows you to hear computer voices perform your script and that was just written as a thing for myself, so I could I listen to my own scripts and other people’s scripts in the car rides that I was taking in L.A which could take anywhere between 20 minutes and 3 hours.
Jason Brubaker: That’s sounds like an awesome way to read scripts!
Guy Goldstein: I could get through a lot of scripts that way. And different computer voices would read each character, so you would wind up having a few people interested in it. So I ended up making it as a real product. It had the ability to have humans record their lines so you could actually have a full cast of people recording scripts, and that got me down this direction. That product itself is now plugged in inside Writer Duet, but Writer duet was the one that actually caught on.
Jason Brubaker: And by caught on, and you don’t have to get into any specific numbers, but I imagine you have a pretty good user base at this point.
Guy Goldstein: We have hundreds of thousands of users on WriterDuet. And we have a very dedicated, passionate user base. We don’t advertise. We just make the product and assume that screenwriters like it enough to tell their friends. Fortunately, we’ve gotten pretty good traction that way.
Jason Brubaker: Is that because you’re very open to feedback from screenwriters?
Guy Goldstein: Yes. I’ve been part of some screenwriting communities where we get a lot of feedback, and that has been why we’ve grown. We have developed the product based on the writer’s feedback and experience.
Jason Brubaker: Early in my career, I would scour the internet for free screenwriting software. And invariably, there was a lot of stuff that you could plug into Microsoft Word, but those solutions were just never quite there. And then the other screenwriting software was just so cost prohibitive. So I was stuck. What I find interesting about WriterDuet is, it is online based. So what does it take to get started with WriterDuet? Is is affordable?
Guy Goldstein: There is a totally free version inside WriterDuet, and we want to keep that so writers are able to write. You should be able to get started. And to your point, there are plugins for Google Docs or Microsoft Word that will make your document pretty much look like a screenplay… Or at least close enough that you can feel like a screenwriter, but what they don’t do is really emphasize the writing process.
Jason Brubaker: What do you mean?
Guy Goldstein: Like how easy it is to just hit ‘tab’ and ‘enter’, and basic commands that other screenwriting programs, along with WriterDuet have. You shouldn’t be fidgeting with templates. You shouldn’t be using programs that are annoying or non-intuitive. And when you don’t want the distraction of other tools, you should just write. You don’t want to be constantly hammered by technology, you’re in a creative process that has nothing to do with technology.
Jason Brubaker: But WriterDuet offers much more than just easy functionality, right?
Guy Goldstein: We first make it really simple to just start writing. Get something that looks like a screenplay and has all the professional formatting you need. And then on top of that, we try to have all the tools available when you need them.
Jason Brubaker: Like what?
Guy Goldstein: Like you never think too much about, “Do I have backups of every version of my script?,” until you realize you don’t. We have tons of backups to avoid that kind of situation. But even as simple as, “Hey this line used to be funnier, and I don’t know what happened.”
Jason Brubaker: So you can find previous drafts?
Guy Goldstein: Maybe you have a hundred backups of that script, but how are you going to find the version of that one line that was funnier? That’s one of the things WriterDuet does really well. You can go back in time to any version of a line, of a scene, of the entire script. Export it from date time without even knowing that you are doing that. It just happens automatically.
Jason Brubaker: What about Collaboration?
Guy Goldstein: Same thing with Collaboration. Other screenwriting software claim to have real time collaboration, but if you’ve used them, they kind of take you away from the actual writing experience that you want to have. WriterDuet is online. It also works seamlessly offline. You can write without internet connection for as long as you want.
Jason Brubaker: And if I understand it, WriterDuet also works across devices.
Guy Goldstein: You can write on your phone… You can write anywhere, and as soon as you have internet connection, its going to automatically merge all the changes. It’s going to automatically merge everything so you never have to think about technology. We try to take that part just out of the process. You just write and everything else just works.
Jason Brubaker: So painting a picture, you mentioned that collaborating with other writers, happens in real time. So I could be here in Los Angeles writing part of the exact same scene as you? And we would see each other’s changes in real time?
Guy Goldstein: Exactly, and you could be on the same page and you could be on completely the same line, you can be on opposite ends of the script, you can scroll independently. It’s not like screen share or something like that where you’re stuck together. You can write at the same time, or at different times. It’s going to say exactly who made what changes, when.
Jason Brubaker: So you’re always on the same page with your writing partner….
Guy Goldstein: For example, I could say: “Hey, what did my writing partner do yesterday?” And without having done any work, I’ll see exactly which changes he or she made. So the collaboration aspect is why we had name the screenwriting software WriterDuet. But that was just the starting point for me because I knew it was problem we could solve really well.
Jason Brubaker: And what about imports, I have a bunch of screenplays that I wrote in other competing software. Am I able to import those into WriterDuet?
Guy Goldstein: Absolutely. As a professional screenwriting program, you have complete compatibility with Final Draft. They are the industry standard at this point. And what we say is, “Yeah, they are the industry standard. But as long as you can write in their format, it’s not going to really make a difference when you submit a script.” So we import and export the Final Draft format extremely well, including all the revision marks, all the margins, the notes you’ve added, locked pages, omitted scenes… All the production level and professional stuff you need.
Jason Brubaker: And what about those of us who create schedules and budgets? Do you offer tagging?
Guy Goldstein: We do offer tagging. We’ll export the tags in the fdx format, just like Final Draft does. And then you can import into your scheduling software… And boom, you’re good.
Jason Brubaker: What if all I can find is a PDF document of some script I wrote years ago?
Guy Goldstein: We also import and export PDFs, so you could even take a pdf you generated years ago and just have it lying around on your computer and you’re like oh crap… I don’t even have an original document for this important document! And WriterDuet will become completely editable with all the formatting preserved in most cases. WriterDuet can even take a script you’ve written in a text editor, or Word or something… And just copy and paste it. WriterDuet will automatically figure out the formatting!
Jason Brubaker: And then moving forward, what plans do you have on the horizon?
Guy Goldstein: In the next version, we’re completely re-writing for way more flexible formats… So you can see any review of your script. You’ll see all the scenes… But you’ll be able to break that into the outlining phase, where you can brainstorm about characters and concepts. Like super high-level treatment stuff, to get people creative and make that a really smooth experience.
Jason Brubaker: If somebody wants to get you know, started with Writer Duet, where would they go?
Guy Goldstein: Visit WriterDuet.com and create an account. It’s totally free to sign up, you don’t need to do anything like 30 seconds you’re in, you’re starting to write, you can import a script from another format just to try, you can export it back out, if you don’t like Writer Duet. So, we try to be really low barrier to entry. We obviously do have a paid version that keeps us in business, so we accept that people will upgrade once they see the value in Write Duet, but to get started and just write a script you don’t need to pay or do anything just jump in there and start writing. If you can’t figure it out in about 2 minutes, email us we’ll help you out it’s probably going to be a pretty easy experience trying Writer Duet for the first time.