Miz Mulligan Reviews Celtx BookComplications Ensue
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Friday, May 13, 2011

The publishers of the eBook Celtx: Open Source Screenwriting Beginner's Guide asked us for a review, so Miz Mulligan reviewed it:

The book is written in such a way as to walk you thoroughly through each step of the software. In that respect, I found it well written. Earlier versions of the Celtx application I used were very intuitive, but this book would be a good companion for the absolute beginner. It can carry over for more intermediate users as well, in terms of how to use Storyboards and different projects other than your standard screenplay format. If you aren't familiar with how to load and install software, the author also does an excellent job of giving you all the details about Celtx and the pitfalls you might run into.

The problem with building a book around free software like Celtx is that the developers can release fairly frequent updates and the book can become obsolete quickly. The author does say that there was a new product release around the same time as the book release, and he goes on to highlight the minor changes. I used an older version of Celtx and I still recognized everything in the book, which is nice. So, even though there may be updates, I imagine this book will hold up well for future releases, until they decide to do a major overhaul of their product.

The guide is written in a very loose language format. In some sections, the author writes as if he were talking with a friend. I'm not a big fan of this type of language for a “technical” manual. For someone just starting out, it could be a bit more easy to digest. However, if you just want to know “how” to do something, it can get in the way if you want to quickly find out what it is you want to accomplish.

The order of the chapters aren't necessarily how someone just starting out would use the product. If you were to follow the book exactly, as outlined in the Table of Contents, I'm not sure how many screenwriters would go to the trouble of using the Storyboard feature before setting up a project. For example, Chapter 4 – Tools for Getting Organized and, Chapter 5 – Tooling Up for Scriptwriting, would have been more useful before Chapter 3 – Visualizing Productions Ahead of Time. In all the time I used Celtx (about 4 years), I never once used the Storyboard feature. But, everything is in there if you need to reference it at a later date, which is very helpful.

I do like that it's a book not just about the Celtx software itself. The author has made every attempt to describe other things required to write a screenplay - story and character elements as well as treatments and step outlines.

Overall, the content and know how to use Celtx is all there in a easy to read format. The only serious drawback: if you're someone picking up Celtx for the first time, but have been screenwriting for a while, there is information that you will find redundant.
You can download a free chapter here.



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