If you’re a filmmaker at any level, you know there are many scriptwriting software options out there to aid your writing process.
Why use screenplay software? If you want to be taken seriously as a screenwriter, you need to follow standard screenplay format. Screenwriting software takes care of formatting so you can focus on words, characters, and story — the actual creative work of writing. All you need to worry about is crafting compelling scenes.
We’ve put together the definitive list of script writing software. Check out these options, pick what works for you, and start writing your screenplay right away.
BEST ScrEENWRITING SOFTWARE
Looking for a free, professional screenwriting program you can use right now, no strings attached? This is the option for you. Just sign up (5 seconds) and start writing your screenplay.
It's intuitive, easy to use, industry-approved, and lets you focus on writing instead of formatting. Plus it's free, which is why it's number one on our list.
Actually, more than that, StudioBinder screenwriting software is one component of the full StudioBinder suite of features. StudioBinder is an end-to-end production management platform, so if you want to write a script that ultimately moves into preproduction and production, you'll have that option as well.
With a few clicks, you can use your screenplay to auto-generate shooting schedules, shot lists, storyboards, and call sheets. Build and manage production documents, share anything with your team, let collaborators comment and edit, and maintain all your contacts in the software.
Or, if all you want to do is bang out a spec and sell it for a cool mil, that works, too.
Script Writing Software
You can’t discuss screenwriting software without mentioning Final Draft 10.
It’s been an industry standard for decades, and has been used by top writers and filmmakers.
And its features show why:
Its SmartType function remembers scene elements like characters and locations, which you can reinsert as you write.
Final Draft 10 also includes robust tagging and reporting tools. This means you can break down scene elements (actors, wardrobe, props) to feed into production reports later.
It also includes organizational tools like Story Map (for outlining), Beat Board (for beat sheets) and Alternate Dialogue (for storing additional dialogue options).
Even if you’ve got a keen sense of writing dialogue, it can a great help to give yourself options later on.
Other Final Draft 10 features include real-time collaboration, an index card view to aid scene arrangement, over 100 templates, and a mobile version (sold separately).
Final Draft writing software has just about everything you need, barring some pre-production tools like storyboards, and shot lists.
But if it’s out of your price range ($249.99 at the time of of this writing) there are other robust options to consider.
Like Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter is well-known in the industry, and is the preferred screenwriting file format of the Writer’s Guild of America West.
If you want a high-end screenwriting software used by top names in the business, this is a good choice.
Its feature set is powerful, diverse and includes formatting for film, television, plays, books and even comic books.
It includes a custom NaviDoc interface, which juxtaposes your script with organizational materials like outlines, scene cards and more.
It also comes with real-time collaboration, professionally authored templates, an index card view, revision tracking, breakdown reports and more.
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, Celtx is one of the best options.
It’s a cloud-based screenwriting tool that boasts 5 million users. It comes with a wide variety of template formats and you can convert them from one to the other.
If you’re working from an existing script, it offers a variety of import formats including PDF, Final Draft, and Microsoft Word documents.
Among its other features, Celtx screenwriting integrates with other pre-production tools like call sheets, storyboards, shot lists, and a scheduling solution.
It also allows for collaboration, although it’s not real-time (you will need to refresh to see a collaborators edits).
This is definitely a solid (and more affordable) alternative to Final Draft.
SCRipt writing apps
As its title suggests, this is a great screenplay writing app for remote writing partners.
But WriterDuet offers more than real-time collaboration. It also includes an in-app chat box and a commenting feature (which can be private or shared).
It also has an admirably thorough revision tracking feature, which breaks down script changes by calendar date.
Other cool WriterDuet features include asset tagging, mobile integration, templates, alternate dialogue storage, draft saving and organization.
SCREENPLAY SOFTWARE list
Highland software works with the Fountain file format, a text-based file compatible with several of the best screenwriting software options.
Fountain documents are plain text, so when you write one you don’t fiddle with formatting, and can write it anywhere (GoogleDocs, NotePad, etc).
That’s where Highland’s free screenplay software comes in.
Highland is a formatting tool that takes in the Fountain file and exports it to Final Draft or PDF.
It will also import Final Draft or PDF files and “melt” them down to the universal Fountain format.
Highland software was developed by top screenwriter John August (“Big Fish”, “Go”) with the goal of getting writers focused on the actual writing as much as possible.
SCREENwriting software options
Fade In is a more affordable alternative to Final Draft and Movie Magic screenwriting software, and comes with many of their features.
It offers robust customization tools, so you can very hands on with the format of your screenplay (including margins, spacing and the like).
It also gives a script breakdown tool, index cards, templates, revision tracking, and reports including cast reports, dialogue reports per character, and more.
One really cool Fade In feature is an action-to-dialogue calculator within their script statistic reporting tool.
You’ve probably heard to “show don’t tell” as you write, but this will actually quantify how well you did it.
SCRipt writing apps
Scrivener is more than just a screenwriting app. It's a full word processor designed for novel writing, articles, flyers, brochures, you name it — oh yeah, and also screenwriting.
The Scrivener specialty is longer writing projects (like screenplays!) and it automatically outlines your work, which is a nice touch.
SCREENPLAY SOFTWARE comparison
Thanks to Russia, here's a free open-source screenwriting solution.
It's basic, bare-bones, utilitarian, and gets the job done (like space station Mir). The open-source nature gives it a punk rock vibe, too.
Screenplay Formatting Basics
As you tour different kinds of screenwriting software, think about how you plan to use them. Will you collaborate with others as you go? Will you roll right into production after you’re done writing?
Whatever you decide, it couldn't hurt to get a primer on screenplay formatting. Odds are, if you choose the right script writing software, formatting won't be a major concern. Still, it's critical to understand what belongs where, and why. Check out our guide.