Over the last 20 years, over 15 screenwriting software tools have been made for writing movie scripts. Screenwriting software is a tool for screenwriters to write their scripts.
It allows them to create outlines and organize their ideas, as well as make changes in the script once it’s been written. Screenwriting software also makes it easier to format the document and add images, music and other elements that isn’t possible to do when writing by hand.
Screenwriting software can be used in different ways, depending on what kind of writer you are. You may just want to use it as a brainstorming tool or keep an outline of your story, or maybe you’ll use it throughout the writing process.
Regardless of how you use it, screenwriting software can help you improve your work and make sure you don’t forget anything important along the way!
Screenwriting software is basically a computer program designed to help you write scripts for movies or TV shows.
It’s primarily used by professional writers who want an easier way to organize their ideas and write scripts efficiently, but there are also some great programs for beginners who want an all-in-one solution for writing, formatting, editing and sharing their work with others.
There are many different types of screenwriting software available today; those like Final Draft or Celtx have been around for decades while there are other software that are relatively recent.
Benefits of using script writing software
As a screenwriter, you have to know your stuff. You need to know every possible way to get your story told in the most effective way possible.
Screenwriting software is one of the best tools available to writers that want to write smart, compelling stories. Screenwriting software can help you keep track of all your characters and their relationships with one another, so you don’t forget who’s related to whom and why.
They can also assist in writing scripts quickly and easily by allowing you to focus on the story instead of having to type out each word manually.
Script writing software can create scripts that are easy for others to read and understand because they’re formatted correctly according to industry standards.
If you’re a screenwriter, you know the importance of being able to write quickly and efficiently. You need to be able to write a full script in a short amount of time, so that your ideas don’t get lost or forgotten. If you have been struggling with this problem, we have some good news for you!
Screenwriting software can help increase your productivity by allowing you to write faster and more easily. Screen writing software makes it easier to write and format your screenplay. You can use it to create a script from scratch, or you can import text from other sources.
The software also allows you to add images, music, and video clips to your script, which can help you keep track of what’s going on in the story.
Some screenwriting software even lets you record yourself speaking each character’s lines so that you can hear exactly how they would sound—and then export that audio file as well as the written dialogue into your script.
Screenwriting software also helps you create a storyboard for your movie. This is a visual representation of each scene in the script, showing how shots will be filmed and edited together.
It’s like a map for filmmakers—it shows where they should go to get the shots they need and helps them stay organized while they’re filming.
If there are scenes in your movie that have been shot already but haven’t yet been edited together into one cohesive piece (called an assembly edit), then using screenwriting software can help make sure those shots fit together smoothly when they’re finally put together.
Which Screenwriting Software Should You Use?
There’s a lot of screen writing software out there, and it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Obviously, the best screen writing software would be one that is well-suited to your needs and gives you room to grow and expand as a writer.
Whether you are a professional and experienced writer or a complete beginner, screenwriting software can assist you in a myriad of ways. There are a lot of different options out there, each accompanied by their own sets of pros and cons.
Usually, when writers are on the hunt for the “best screenwriting software” what they do is to look at the features that each of the software offers and decide which ones are most important to them and which ones aren’t as exciting.
Then, they try out the free version of each of these so that they can decide which one feels the most intuitive and fulfilling.
While this is a very effective method for choosing a software, conducting such research can take a lot of time and introspection.
To make it simple for you to decide, I have listed some free as well as some paid screenwriting software that you can use to write screenplays. Most of there are used avidly by professionals as well as amateur screenwriters.
This list will save you from a lot of research, so without further ado, let’s dive in to explore some of the best screenwriting software.
- Arc Studio Pro
- Final Draft
- Movie Magic Screenwriter
- Writer Duet
- Fade In
- Kit Scenarist
1. Arc Studio
Founded in early 2019, Arc Studio Pro is freshly designed screenwriting software that abjures almost every hassle that you come across while writing your screenplay. In addition, its professionally industrialized formatting is a boon to the raconteurs of today.
In a cut-throat competition of literary creation, Arc Studio provides even novice screenwriters an upper hand in writing down their wildest stories with eminent story-building devices incorporated within the software.
Features of Arc Studio:
- Import PDF / Documents / Files
- Track Changes
- Version Control
- Collaboration Tools
- Speech to Text
- Insert Images
- Alternate Dialogue / Lines
- Tagging / Filtering
- Integrates with: Artlantis and Rambox.
- Online Support
It has 3 plans available.
- Free version.
- Monthly Plan: $69/year (It offers a lot of features except real-time collaboration)
- Pro Version: $99/year (real-time collab, history)
I have used Arc Studio for mine as well as my friends’ screenplays and short stories and it was incredibly helpful and easy to use. You can check out the comprehensive Arc Studio review to further come to a conclusion.
2. Final Draft
This software is not for the faint-hearted. But if you are pro and serious about making a career in screenwriting and want to be the next Aaron Sorkin of Hollywood, this is the software I would gravely recommend.
Many Oscar-winning screenwriters like Guillermo Del Toro, Doug Ellin, and Soffia Coppola use it.
It really is the “Big Daddy” of screenwriting and is used by the best in the movie industry.
Features of Final Draft:
- Enhanced Beat Board
- Use multiple lanes to organize your screenplay’s structure.
- Nigh & Focus mode to eliminate distractions.
- Track changes. tTokeep a record of edits to your script.
- Real-time collaboration with partners.
- Speech to Script using Mac’s Dictation feature
- Adjust the size of beats in the Outline Editor.
- Insert images into your beat board.
- Alternate Dialogue to store different versions of lines.
- Add comments to your script as ideas come to you.
- It has a free 60-day trial too.
- It costs $199.99 for digital download.
- The educational license cost is $9.99 (only for educators).
This is the first software I used when I started writing 8 years ago. And guess why I chose it? Yeah, because it was free to download.
Currently, it has 6 million users. Now this software is on the cloud and hence it only has a paid version. It is built by the same people who built Mozilla Firefox.
Still, it is way cheaper than other software like Final Draft and can be used by professionals and amateur writers alike owing to it’s impressive and friendly user interface. This makes it very easy to use.
Moreover, it is not limited to screenplay. You can also write novels and plays with the help of this software. Sometimes I even use it to write TV Commercials.
Features of Celtx:
- Screenplay & Stageplay Editor
- Multi-Column AV Editor
- Screenplay Offline Mode
- Script Insights
- Revision Tracking
- Shareable Link
- Script Import
There are 3 pricing plans.
It is currently giving 50% off on all of its plans.
- If you buy the bundle plan (Video + Game Production) then it costs $22.50/month.
Another software tool used by the biggies in the industry to make Magic happen on screen is the Movie Magic Screenwriter. It can be compared to the Final Draft software on many levels.
Some people also use it to write their research paper assignments & submissions.
However, It is very expensive compared to Celtx and has fewer features than Final Draft.
Features Movie Magic:
- Navigate through your document by Outline, Scenes, Notes, and Bookmarks.
- Full-featured Outlining
- Easily track all revisions from spec to final shoot script.
- Updated spell-check dictionaries for American English, British English, French, German, Italian, and 3 more languages
- Import Text Feature lets you import screenplays already written in Microsoft Word or any other word processor.
- 8 Instructional templates (including stageplay, screenplay, sitcom structure, and classic film structure).
- 10 industry-standard Blank templates8 Instructional templates (including stageplay, screenplay, sitcom structure, and classic film structure).
- 10 industry-standard Blank templates
- The latest version is the Movie Magic 6 priced at $149.95.
- An upgrade costs $89.95 (Windows & Mac)
- The 6.5 upgrade costs $69.95 (only for Mac)
Free Trial Version
Founded in 2013 Writer’s Duet is a perfect screenwriting software made for collaborating with fellow screenwriters. It includes real-time co-writing, in-app text, and video chat.
Writing is rewriting, so instead of copy-pasting every time, you can save templates, and integrate beat sheets, treatments, and outlines. It is a highly recommended screenwriting software for beginners as well as intermediate-level screenwriters.
Features of WriterDuet:
- Real-time co-writing
- Intuitive commenting
- In-app text and video chat
- Seamless integration and organization of beat sheets, treatments, and outlines.
It offers 3 free scripts upon signing up.
Following are the pricing plans if you buy the yearly plan.
- $5/month billed annually for Plus membership.
- $7.42/month billed annually Pro membership.
- $9.92/month billed annually Premium membership.
Jason Hellerman, a professional screenwriter has similar views on Writer Duet.
6. Fade In
Since its release, Fade In has become one of the most popular screenwriting software among professionals and amateurs alike.
It supports writing A/V scripts, and collaboration options & has a thesaurus. A very useful feature that other expensive software tools like final draft, Celtx, and Movie Magic Screenwriter, don’t have is its full-screen mode.
It even has ePub export and scene timing support which no other software listed above has.
According to author AJ Detisch, this software has a cool feature which is the action-to-dialogue calculator within their script statistic reporting tool.
- Free Trial for some days.
- The regular Price is $79.95.
- The future updates are free for a lifetime.
If you are still not convinced about the versatility of the Fade In screenwriting software, have a glance over the ultimate comparison of Final Draft vs Movie Magic Screenwriter vs Celtx.
7. Highland 2
Highland 2 is a screenwriting software developed by John August.
He hosts one of the best screenwriting podcasts called Scriptnotes with his co-host Craig Mazin. Scriptnotes is a very informative podcast for screenwriters and is worth listening to for anyone looking to break into Hollywood.
Highland 2 is screenwriting software that stands apart from others because it is made for writers by someone who understands the writing process and how difficult it can be.
Highland 2 offers features that other screenwriting tools don’t. For example, the software has a Gender Analysis feature that tracks the genders of the characters and how many lines they get.
This can be used to ensure that all genders are given a roughly equal amount of speaking lines.
Features of Highland 2:
- Scripts are automatically formatted as per industry standards. (Without writers having to specify elements like character, action, dialogue, etc.)
- Character highlighting.
- Different background themes.
- Five PDF templates.
- Gender Analysis.
- Exports/Imports to/from Final Draft.
- $69.99 for Highland Pro.
Pros of Highland 2:
- Offers unique features that other software lacks.
- Very accessible to writers.
- Has a UI that motivates writers to work.
- Highland Pro allows users to avoid the repetition of words.
Cons of Highland 2:
- Available only for Mac.
Free Trial Version
Launched in 2007, Scrivener is more of a book-writing software. It definitely has all the features that screenwriting software demands, however, it is more popular among authors and novelists.
Interestingly, you can get the feel of a typewriter while using Scrivener screenwriting software. Moreover, while constructing an engaging narrative, you can put different pieces of a story or a long text together easily.
The unique corkboard feature is a personal favorite among most authors writing in any genre.
You can use it for screenwriting no doubt. Joanna Penn’s review of Scrivener notes that Scrivener helps writers to become proficient.
Joanna is a renowned blogger and author, who has published more than 26 books so far.
It has a 30-day free trial.
- The Windows and Mac license costs $45.
- iOS license costs $19.99
- You can also buy a bundle for Mac & Windows at a discounted price.
Studiobinder is a leading photo, video, TV & film production management software. The wide approach to screenwriting has allowed Studiobinder screenwriting software apart from screenwriting, it also includes a production calendar, and film crew management feature.
You can write with partners, share scripts, and receive feedback instantly. Easier to organize screenplay versions, and convert scripts written in other software like Final Draft. You can go from a script to pre-production in just one click.
If you have a production company then this is the perfect tool for you to manage scripts, crews, and people involved in your project.
Features of StudioBinder:
- Call Sheet Builder
- Call Sheet Templates
- Script Breakdowns
- Script Sides
- Film Crew Management
It has 2 pricing plans. Individual Plans & Company Plans
- Individual plans per month (shown above) costs $29, $49 & $99.
- Company Plan per month costs $249 onwards.
There is a free forever plan which doesn’t offer much.
10. Kit Scenarist
This is by far the best free version of screenwriting software for writing screenplays. It has taken the place of Celtx in its early years.
With over 10 thousand screenwriters using it, Kit Scenarist is for not just amateurs but has proven to be the best screenwriting software for many industry specialists. It is available on 5 platforms namely Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android.
As it’s open-source software, the team behind Kit Scenarist is constantly updating this tool.
The team has made it available in 3 versions (all absolutely Free).
- Beta version: To download, use & give feedback so they can improve it further.
- Stable Version: Perfect for use
- Mobile Version: Write scripts, and notes while you are traveling.
I definitely recommend using this software.
Free & Paid Version
Developed by the team at Hollywood Camera Work, who are experts in making software for filmmakers, this is totally different from the other software tools above.
Causality is the first screenwriting software that is a game-changer in some ways. It helps to plot as well as write your story at the same time.
You can visualize your story in a much better way than all other paid screenwriting tools.
It has 3 plans available.
- Free version: You can save & export your script if it is under 10 pages.
- Monthly Plan: $5.99/month
- Pro Version: $279 for a permanent license with free lifetime updates.
I think you should definitely try it even if you are a pro & using any of the other paid software tools.
Is It Necessary to Use Screenwriting Software for Writing a Script?
Of course, you can write a screenplay or a TV Commercial in MS Word or Google Docs, however, it is highly recommended to use software to get an understanding of the camera angles that go into it (and a whole lot of other things).
Trust me it makes a HUGE difference!
One of the reasons is, even if you wanted to write a script for a movie you wouldn’t have a proper idea of writing the correct angle of a particular shot.
Even if you have a very remarkable idea for a movie (along with the wonderful action sequences you have written), your script will not be formatted properly, according to the standards set by the industry.
So, your chances of landing a script in the hands of a producer will be gone down the drain.
Screenwriting software helps write, format, edit & print screenplays according to the strict guidelines in the television & movie industry.
While it is not necessary for every writer to use scriptwriting software, most of them prefer to use them. Let’s admit it, it’s not a cake walk to write a script from scratch all by yourself, you’re gonna need all the help you can get. This is exactly what scriptwriting software provide.
How To Decide Which Software Is Perfect for You?
The best way to settle on a script writing software is to start by evaluating your own needs. The ideal software for you can depend largely upon what your writing style is, your preferred genre, your organising needs, budget etc.
It mostly depends on what features you are looking for in a script writing software. While there are also some free screenwriting software available for use, it is often considered best to invest in a paid software that has more easy-to-use and customizable features.
Paid software often gives you a lot more insight into areas for improvement and what your strengths might be. It shows you what you need to nourish and hold onto as well as the habits you may need to leave behind as a writer.
However, for someone pursuing screenwriting as a mere hobby or someone on a budget, a free software, although a bit more complicated, might be the perfect way to improve their writing skills.
Although there is no definite “best screenwriting software”, the above mentioned software are the most efficient ones for beginner writers and professionals alike. It doesn’t matter if you consider writing a hobby or a career prospect, these software will be by your side, no matter what.
It is important to note that the best screenwriting software would differ from person to person, as do their needs.
Tips for Using Screen Writing Software
When you’re using screenwriting software to write a script, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, don’t rely on the software to do your thinking for you. The software is there to help you create your script, but it is not a creator, nor an editor. It is only a facilitator.
This means that you still need to use your brain and creativity to make sure that what you’re writing is making sense and flowing smoothly.
Next, don’t let the software take over too much of your creative process. It’s great for keeping track of all of your ideas as they come in, but if you allow it to dictate what happens next in your story, then it will be boring, predictable and unoriginal.
It is prudent that you are hands-on throughout the whole experience and the script remains yours. Anything that you write should retain your essence.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not rely on software to provide you with specifications. If you want an estimate of how much time a scene might require or some other details from the software, it may be best to keep your expectations low.
If I’ve learnt anything from past experiences, it’s that you can not expect technology to give you the answers to everything. Even if they do have the answers, they may not be very accurate or reliable.
Finally, don’t forget to stick to the basics! Make sure that every character has a name and a personality; make sure their dialogue sounds natural; make sure that their actions are consistent with who they are as characters; make sure that their emotions are clear through their actions and words.
Without clarity in the basics, you can not have a good script. These are the foundation for your story. If the foundation is shabby, the story would come out unclear and even confusing at times.
Whichever software you choose, make sure it doesn’t stifle your creativity and has a distraction-free setting that allows you to get your work done.
Well, aspirations are immense but working towards them needs sheer dedication and script writing software must not be a reason for you to quit. Even if you have very little money to buy screenwriting software, you can still write a professional screenplay by using these tools & achieve your dream of becoming a screenwriter.
Writing a screenplay is not difficult but telling a story is. Thus, one must understand what is the first thing to work on before jumping into the vast world of screenwriting. As soon as you figure out the genre of your screenplay, the motive of your story and the will to proceed, finding a good screenwriting software will not be difficult at all.
That concludes the article for the top screenwriting software tools right now. If you haven’t yet started writing, click on one and start writing.