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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Free and online writing tool


Zhura has been around for a couple of years now. But it doesn't seem to have caught the imagination or moved on too far. It is an online scriptwriting tool. So, like Final Draft, it does your layout for you. But your script is kept online so you can access it from any web PC in the world and it also allows you to collaborate on the script with other writers.

All good features! In short - a screenplay specific version of GoogleDocs.

So why hasn't it caught on more then? My take on it is that script writing is a very solitary, unsharing type of writing. Even if you write with a partner you tend to do it behind closed doors. The film / tv making stage, when you get to it, is such a team effort - everyone gets involved. So the writing is THE time to just get your head down and work privately, consider ideas and battle cliches.

Having said all that - consider the benefits of using a tool like this if you had a writer, a co-writer, a producer and a development person having to work to a tight deadline.

But then also consider the chaos.

So the jury is out for me. And I guess for others too. If anyone has used this (or similar) websites to write a script then leave a comment. Personally I have only used such tools for pitch documents and other supplementary materials.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've used many different programs for screenwriting, including Zhura. (i.e. Celtix, FD7)

Though I agree that the writing process is a solitary effort, the benefit a site like Zhura has comes after you've written your script...it is it's community.

See, you needn't use their software (which I rarely do) to post work, as it is easy to upload. If you created it there with their software, you needn't keep it there either, as it can be exported into different formats.

In my experiences with screenwriting websites, it is both the quickest and easiest way I've found to have work reviewed and commented on by other fledgling writers.

Until something better comes along, I'll certainly be haunting their site.

Emma Valentine said...

I've been a user on Zhura since summer of 2008. I came to it, curious, but with absolutely no skill or knowledge (and I mean absolutely nothing). Since then I've received praise from Chris Bidmead, former script editor and screenwriter for Doctor Who. I've also had two of my scripts on the top rated list on the site.

That's all within a couple months. I'm awed at how supporting and fast-paced the community is. It's that kind that you grow attached to; that if you're gone for a couple weeks, you better tell ahead of time, or people are going to get worried.

But don't come here just looking for support. Sure, you'll make lots of friends. But there's some tough love that goes around. Picking apart scripts is inefficient to sugar-coat; so if you can't take criticism, then you best not even be in the business.

This is a great site. Of the four artistic online communities I'm a part of, Zhura is my second priority (the first being deviantART). I owe a lot to it.

Chad Fleagle said...

I'm not exactly sure how long I've been a member of Zhura. It's a great site for those who want to learn the trade of screenwriting. Not only does the site provide a very useful screenwriting software, but you can use it free.

What more can one ask for?

The Community on Zhura is top-notch. I've had two scripts of mine in the Top-Rated list and many more have been rated very well. I wouldn't say I was an amateur when I came to Zhura, but the site and members have greatly aided me in honing my scriptwriting skills.

As my friend Emma stated if you cannot accept serious criticism then maybe the business isn't for you. The community members will let you know your strengths and weaknesses. You'll thank them down the road for being hard and showing you the correct path.

I would recommend Zhura to every writer or scriptwriter looking to get honest opinions on their work.

We as writers always need a second pair of eyes to read our works. I highly recommend you join the Zhura community. We'll welcome you with open arms and all the experience we can share with you.

Ezekiel Kristek said...

I've been a member of Zhura for a little over 2 months, now. When I joined, I had an idea of what to look for in scripts, but was not nearly as rounded in the formatting process as I am now after becoming an active member. I have two scripts on the top rated list currently, and though I don't take that to great heart, it certainly does make one feel good to know that people are enjoying what you are writing.
What I like most about Zhura is that the comments and criticisms that I have received for the most part have been completely non hostile. The members here are very friendly, but we do still at the same time give and receive very constructive criticism... it's not all just "oh this is great, good job." There's a ton of great formatting advice and storyline suggestions being thrown into the mix as well.
This site is an excellent way of becoming more familiar with the process, learning skills and growing with them, and even making friends! I've met many people on here who I feel comfortable sharing my work with.

Jim Bennett said...

zhura.com is the premier site for online screenplay writing and collaboration! I've been a member since about May..ish. In that span I've written 2 features and working on my 3rd. I've written quite a few sketches as well. What makes this site about perfect is that you get instant gratification on your work. People really pay attention to when you make changes to your work and comment as you progress. It really is awesome!

Anonymous said...

zhura fkin SUCKS

mehurtin said...

I started out when Zhura was little, and I have watched it grow as I have grown.

The site and its community are second to none, and a lot of us work together to make our work better.

When I joined zhura, I had been writing for years, and helped form a film company which filmed a short of mine in 2005.

I had also attended various film schools, and done creative writing in college.

Zhura helped back up all that I had learned and kept me creative and free flowing.

With the support of everyone there, a script of mine was polished and sent off for competition in september, and I am waiting to hear from them.

Being part of the community at zhura has not only kept me going when I have had writing blocks but has introduced me to some great people.

It's worth a shot. Why not try writing there. It isn't such a lonely process any more.

Good luck and keep writing.

Dawn Chapman

Anonymous said...

LOL at "anonymous". You've definitely never used Zhura.

I've been using Zhura for about 5-6 months now and I have learned SO MUCH in that time.

I was just getting started with my writing and I think others will agree that I've come a long way.

Not only does it offer FREE software for writing in correct script format, but the community itself is filled with other writers, some very experienced in screenwriting.

Also, you'll find actors, producers, directors, and editors if you are looking for help on a project.

The message boards are top notch and it's very easy to navigate through all the features.

Want a few extra features, with more to come very soon? Sign up for a Zhura Pro membership for as little at 6 bucks a month and get some cool exclusive features.

I'd recommend Zhura to EVERYONE looking to network and also hone their skills as a writer.

Jeff Brown said...

Whoops. It chose anonymous by accident. My name is Jeff Brown and I'm not afraid!

lol...

laurence timms said...

I had a try of Zhura. Apart from the daft name ('zuh-hoora'? 'zee-hewra'?) it does what it says. Scriptwriting, formatting, collaborating. Fab and ace.

Trouble is, I don't do all my scriptwriting on the computer; often it's scribbled in notepads or on bits of paper. Or the back of my hand. When I am on the computer, I'm not always connected to the interwebs, so a scriptwriting website isn't going to cut it for me.

If I was collaborating on a script then it'd be the dogs nuts. I can vouch for this: co-writing a script just using MS Word is a pain in the arse.

I will take another look at the community aspect of Zhura, though. As anon said, it's handy for getting reviews.

David Lemon said...

Hi Tim
haven't used the software as I'm a final draft veteran and see no need to change. While I therefore can't comment on the software, part of me does find worrying the idea that it may encourage producers to take their lead from the online nature of it and:

1/push for unrealistically deadlines;
2/ start overwriting work in progress rather than wait for the traditional back and forth.

As you know, I'm not some precious writer living in a garrett waiting for his muse, but I think sometimes there are benefits all round to being offline while you write and having just a little space.
That said, the benefits of a community of fellow writers can't be underestimated.

Tim Clague said...

A good point from David about working at the sharp end there. Still, I think I may give it a go and see what develops. And report back here!