You know it’s time to look elsewhere when Google Docs just doesn’t cut it anymore. In this guide, let’s look at some of the top screenwriting software to bring your brilliant scripts to life.
What makes a good screenwriting software?
The best screenwriting software is both simple and advanced when you need it to be. Here are the features we recommend.
Editor: Great screenwriting programs feature sleek, modern editors. Choose a scriptwriting app that helps you write effectively. Look for features like keyboard shortcuts, focus mode, and precise formatting.
Note-taking: There’s a lot going on in a writer’s head. An ideal screenwriting program lets you effortlessly jot down notes for specific sections of your scripts. You should be able to find them in the project catalog within seconds.
Script development: Pick a screenwriting program with a built-in visual corkboard. It helps you plan scenes and track characters, all from a single platform.
Mobile app: Inspiration can strike any time, from chilling at a cafe to waiting in line for your favorite avocado toast. Opt for a scriptwriting program that offers a mobile app, so that you can write your screenplay on the go.
Import and export: Each screenwriting software boasts unique features, so you might end up using more than one. Make sure these programs are compatible in terms of file format. You should be able to import your scripts from one app to another.
Top screenwriting software
1. Storyist [Mac]
Storyist’s fourth iteration introduces multiple improved features.
You can quickly access your recently edited scripts both in the app and directly on your home screen. Press and hold the icon, and Storyist will show them right away.
The editor is also impressive. With Smart Text, you can auto-complete and transition to your character names and locations without having to type them again.
Storyist is only available on Mac and iOS.
Pricing: Free in viewer mode. To edit in Storyist 4, you need to purchase a license for $59 (a free 14-day trial is available).
2. Final Draft [Industry standard]
Source: Final Draft
A favorite among Hollywood heavyweights, Final Draft is the industry standard for all things scriptwriting.
Users like the precise formatting, Beat Board, and Alternate Dialogue.
Once opened, Final Draft 12 formats every section of your scripts, all the way from the scene headings to dialogue. With the beat board, you can organize your research and plot points visually.
Reckon you’ll have second thoughts regarding a character’s line? Store your unlimited lines in one location within the screenwriting software.
Source: Final Draft
Pricing: Free 60-day trial. Final Draft 12 costs a one-time payment of $249.99.
3. WriterDuet [Affordable]
WriterDuet is ideal if you’re not ready to spend money on your first screenwriting software. You get your first three scripts free with no time, page, or import/export limits!
Users also love the prompt customer support and built-in collaboration tools.
There’s the in-app text and video chat for one-on-one and group collaboration; and a comment tool where you can color-code your feedback, export them in PDF, and more.
Another stand-out feature of WriterDuet? Its mirror scroll tool, which allows you to follow your co-writer’s edits in real-time.
Pricing: Starts free, with paid plans scaling from $5.99/month when billed annually.
4. Celtx [All-in-one]
Celtx is jam-packed with advanced collaboration tools.
With Managerial Control, you get to choose who can access your top-secret scripts. Lock down project sharing, set permissions, and offload freelancers when their contracts end.
Its multi-column AV project type tool streamlines your workflow. You can write, create a storyboard, and map out a shot list within the same document. Celtx even includes built-in budgeting systems, schedules, production catalogs, and call sheets.
It’d be criminal to describe Celtx as a screenwriting app. What it really is is a full-on film production suite.
Pricing: Free 7-day trial, with paid plans scaling from $7.50/month for the first year.
5. Scrivener [Organization]
Do scenes and images come to you in random bursts? Then, you’re going to like this.
Scrivener’s corkboard will automatically rearrange your manuscript when you reshuffle your index cards. Outliner works on a drag-and-drop interface—organize your screenplay with folders and subfolders easily.
You can even view multiple documents side-by-side. Scrivener lets you split four documents open in a single interface.
When it comes to clean-cut organization, no screenwriting software does it better than this baby right here.
Pricing: 30-day free trial available. Paid plans begin at $19.99 (iOS) and $49 for macOS and Windows.
6. Fade In [Dialogue]
Source: Fade In
Fade In is excellent for all things dialogue.
Without question, its top feature is Dialogue Tuner.
You can edit a single character’s lines in one place (and in sequence!) to make your dialogue consistent. Fans love using this popular feature, especially when polishing their drafts.
Pricing: Free trial with limited features (no online real-time collaboration and watermark on any printed/PDF output). The premium plan costs a $79.95 one-time fee, with templates and fonts and free updates for life.
7. KIT Scenarist [Open-source]
Source: It’s FOSS
KIT Scenarist is a free and open-source screenwriting software that offers four main modules: Research, cards, scripts, and statistics.
The statistics module is an interesting one. It shows you the percentage of your characters’ activity throughout your entire script. KIT Scenarist also provides scenes and locations reports.
Users often praise its minimalist interface. If you want to access detailed information on the fly, try it today.
Pricing: Free. If you want to connect to the cloud service and synchronize your scripts between devices, plans start from $4.99/month.
8. Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 [Ease of use]
Movie Magic Screenwriter may look outdated, but it makes up for it with its ease of use. Users like the zero learning curve—It takes only seconds to grasp how it works!
Features-wise, it offers a complete American English thesaurus and spell check for other languages, including French, German, and Norwegian.
This screenwriting software also integrates with Outline 4D (formerly known as StoryView 2.0), a visual outlining and timeline tool, and Dramatica, a story development app that helps you structure your plot and build characters.
Note, though, that Movie Magic Screenwriter doesn’t offer a mobile version.
Pricing: One-time fee of $149 for a limited time.
9. Highland 2 [Writing-focused]
Want to write without getting distracted by excessive features? Highland is for you.
Enter your character’s name in uppercase, and the line below it becomes a dialogue. Turn on live margin mode, and Highland will automatically indent. Suffice to say, this user-friendly screenwriting software provides many writing-centric features.
Use Navigator to reorder scenes and sections quickly, and track your edits in different colors and stars on Revision Mode. With Gender Analysis, you can analyze the gender breakdown down to the dialogue and interactions.
Highland is not available on mobile, but the developers have added it to their roadmap.
Pricing: Starts free, with the Pro plan scaling at $49.99.
10. StudioBinder [Scheduling]
StudioBinder boasts a splendid screenwriting app. Its intuitive and sleek editor offers unique features like Renumber Scenes and Script Versioning. Best of all, it’s free.
But its main stars are the call sheets and shooting schedules tools.
StudioBinder’s call sheet delivery is on another level. You can follow up with all stakeholders by email and SMS in a single place. With schedules, it’s easy to reorder scenes and add day breaks and notes within the platform.
StudioBinder doesn’t offer a mobile app, but it is mobile-responsive.
Pricing: Starts free for screenwriting software, with paid plans (including call sheets, shot lists, storyboards, and shooting schedules) scaling from $25/month when billed annually.
Pick the screenwriting software that brings your scripts to life!
These scriptwriting programs are an exciting bunch, aren’t they? Screenwriter, filmmaker, you name it—there’s something for everyone.
Hopefully, this guide has helped narrow down your choices.
If not, let’s quickly recap each screenwriting software app’s unique strengths.
- Storyist is great for Mac users. Auto-complete and transition character names and locations. What’s cool is that you can easily open recently edited scripts directly on the home screen.
- Final Draft 12 is excellent for formatting your screenplays. Its beat board and alternate dialogue tools are unparalleled.
- WriterDuet is the most affordable screenwriting software on this list. Get your first three scripts for free with zero limits!
- Celtx is a complete film production suite with built-in budgeting systems, schedules, call sheets, and more.
- Scrivener is the reigning champ in organizing. Reshuffle your index cards, and let it automatically rearrange your manuscript at the same time.
- Fade In is ideal for polishing dialogue; it lets you quickly edit a single character’s lines in one place.
- KIT Scenarist is free and open-sourced. The statistics module displays the percentage of your characters’ activity throughout your entire script.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 is ridiculously easy to use. It also integrates with other scriptwriting-focused software such as Dramatica and Outline 4D.
- Highland 2 lets you write with zero distraction. It’s the only screenwriting software in the market that tracks the gender breakdown of your scripts.
- StudioBinder offers outstanding call sheets and shooting schedules tools. It’s the film production software to use if you want to keep everyone in the loop.
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