Screenwriting software is a valuable tool in a filmmaker or screenwriter’s arsenal.
It’s helpful whether you are a seasoned professional or a novice wanting a break into the film and entertainment industry.
And this industry has always been in demand and will continue to be, given the rising popularity of video streaming platforms. It is providing opportunities to global talents, and if you are skilled (and lucky), you may taste success sooner.
That said, you would never want to miss any opportunity, especially if you’re a beginner. And it would help if you had a lot of practice, writing skills, and a useful set of tools like screenwriting software to help you create that masterpiece that can make you the next Christopher Nolan. Who knows?
So, let’s understand what this software is all about and how it can help you.
What is screenwriting software?
Screenwriting software is a tool that makes your scriptwriting smoother, easier, and cleaner with suitable formatting and correct usage of grammar and language. It helps you compose, edit, format, and print your scripts for television, films, video games, and more.
In reality, strict formatting guidelines prevail in the industry. So, if you start your script with any tool like Microsoft Word and present your first draft in production houses without proper formatting, your script may get tossed. Or, if you are a filmmaker, things can go messy this way.
But don’t worry; you won’t face this issue if you use professional screenwriting software which eliminates manual formatting. Instead, it helps you meet the formatting guidelines while offering plenty of features like intuitive editor, multiple language support, speech-to-script, auto-save and backups, and much more.
It also keeps you organized and motivated by pulling you out from writer’s block so you can spend your time doing what you love: writing.
So, let’s explore top screenwriting software in the market for filmmakers and screenwriters.
With distraction-free writing, stress-free collaboration, and story-building capabilities, Arc Studio is more than just an industry-standard formatting solution. It is a complete screenplay software that makes everything seamless, from designing the outline in an exciting way to quick production.
Access the scripts from different devices as everything is in the cloud, and it works both online and offline seamlessly. It comes with an auto-save along with automatic script backups to the cloud and your device, so you never lose your work. Besides, Arcs Studio offers automatic revision tracking to bring back your deleted texts.
Arc Studio provides you with an exciting feature: Plot Board that helps you build your story’s structure with solid foundations, and you can reference the outline while writing for more convenience. You also get improved design with intuitive shortcuts, intelligent formatting, and a simple interface.
Collaborate in real-time as you work with Google Docs and arrange your beats intuitively in act columns to change the structure with drag-and-drop. You can also export and import easily in multiple formats, including .fdx.
Create films, ads, videos, and games with Celtx and enjoy its impressive capabilities. Its connected workflow offers superior collaboration from conceptualization to capturing the content on the camera, ensuring your team stays informed, organized, and engaged.
Celtx allows multiple members to work in various docs simultaneously, including collaborative script editing in real-time. In addition, it offers easy shortcuts to make things faster for you, and its fully-featured modules can guide you through the final phase of production using the most flexible and extensive toolset.
Take your script anywhere with you and work on it as Celtx is cloud-based and backs up your projects automatically in the cloud so you can access it anytime and on multiple devices with security. Besides, they safeguard your scripts and documents using their industry-standard security practices.
Celtx organizes every step from starting to production in a centralized, interconnected place to remove the legwork from the process. It also has multiple production tools like industry-grade script editors for story development. Moreover, create stories visually, shot-by-shot with extensive storyboarding modules to organize sequences, integrate images, and block shots.
You get index cards integrated into the script editor directly with a time-tested, classic approach to write a fantastic story. Celtx also provides in-line script breakdowns that help you quickly identify stuff you require for production. Furthermore, you can organize your project’s props, talent, crew, equipment, locations, and wardrobe in one place.
Manage your production expenses, track actual expenditure, and generate budget reports using unique AICP cost templates or industry-standard templates. In addition, provide your camera crew with shot lists consisting of the cinematic blueprint of shot descriptions compiled with an effortless point-and-click interface. You can also create shooting schedules with auto-populated strip boards and distribute call sheets efficiently.
The powerful yet minimalist software of WriterDuet is one of the best scriptwriting tools, which makes content creation, outlining, editing, and collaboration superbly easy. Discover suitable formatting, reports and stats, compatibility, and production tools with any file type virtually.
The software helps you brainstorm, create, and organize content using scene cards, mind maps, and other tools for different parts of your script. WriterDuet is cloud-based screenwriting software that comes with a mobile app and offline-online desktop app and offers automatic sync.
The software is crafted for real-time collaboration and comes with features, including co-writing, in-app video and text chat, and intuitive commenting. All these capabilities make WriterDuet a perfect solution for sketch groups, writers’ rooms, and anyone seeking collaboration and feedback in their written work.
WriterDuet also helps you format effortlessly, produce custom templates, customize workflows, save revision drafts, or lock pages with just a click so you can dedicate more time for writing instead of managing tasks. It also organizes and integrates your outlines and beat sheets to increase your focus on writing the story.
About 95% of television and film productions trust Final Draft for their screenwriting projects. It is industry-leading software that helps blow life to your stories and offers unique content to guide you.
Here, you’ll learn the basics of formatting your screenplay, how to write your characters, and more. Moreover, they provide you with 300+ templates for teleplays, screenplays, comics, stage plays, graphic novels, and immersive storytelling.
The software helps you brainstorm, outline, visualize, tag, collaborate, customize, and report your write-ups effortlessly. It provides you with a limitless space to arrange your ideas visually and personalize them. You can plan sets, store research data, and use flow lines to connect different elements, color codes for reference, and more.
You get streamlined writing and editing tools such as focus mode, speech-to-script, tracking changes, inserting images, SmartType, importing PDF, alternate dialogue, and other tools like format assistant, auto backup folder, reformat tool, revision mode, tags mode, etc.
You can also take Final Draft’s screenwriting fellowship to join the panel of established writers to discuss their experiences with the fellowships they undertook and get more insights that can help shape your career.
Final Draft supports Mac and Windows and offers a mobile app for iPad and iPhone, which is available separately. The pricing of Final Draft is also affordable, currently costing $99.99, but its regular price is $129.99.
Write, collaborate, and share professionally formatted screenplays with StudioBinder. Write natively with its pre-production planning tool that helps you transition smoothly from script to shot lists, shooting schedule, and breakdown points.
This all-in-one writing cum production planning software lets you make changes in your scripts as you go. Also, you can sync or resync scripts anytime to update each detail instantly. In addition, StudioBinder allows you to start pre-production a bit earlier to expedite the shot with more clarity and make creative workflows.
The software can auto-format fonts, margins, and other screenplay elements based on industry standards. Features such as keyboard shortcuts, auto-saves, and auto-completes help you spend more time storytelling. Besides, StudioBinder’s easy-to-use toolbar and clean interface make your job faster.
Whether your script is stored in Fountain, a Word Doc or PDF, Final Draft, or any other software/file, you can seamlessly import it to StudioBinder to continue writing. Also, save time by sharing this document with anyone, take notes, and allow others to view, edit, and comment while streamlining the production pipeline.
You can organize drafts and revisions quickly with optimum efficiency using a sidebar and automatic color coding and save the scripts in the cloud with total visibility on versions. In addition, StudioBinder is entirely free to use, so you can create any number of projects you want.
Scrivener is a platform that brings together your notes, write-ups, and research in one place. It has familiar tools for writers and integrates them to help you start your first draft and complete it sooner for production.
The software is handy for screenwriters, best-selling novelists, non-fiction writers, journalists, lawyers, translators, and students. It is designed for lengthy write-ups and dismisses page fright by letting you compose the write-ups in any order you want with any size of sections.
Work out every fine detail of your plan, carve out your draft, and then restructure it beautifully. Scrivener integrates all your write-ups in an effortless project outline to make your script’s overview easy with simple clicks and drag-and-drop.
Scrivener always keeps your research material at hand, and you can easily open it next to your write-up. You can also scribble the description of an opened photograph, transcribe interviews, create notes of a web page or PDF, or check the script’s consistency by taking a reference of a previous chapter with the current one.
Share all your writings with the world easily through self-publishing, printing, or exporting to different formats like PDF, Word, plain text, or final draft. Helpful features in Scrivener are text editing with italics, bold, highlighting phrases, annotations, comments, images, lists, tables, and formatting presets.
Scrivener includes a corkboard that helps you work only on the synopses written on the cards that you can move and arrange the manuscript automatically, as all the sections are attached to a single virtual index card. You get templates and icons, split editor, full-screen writing, metadata, collections page, backups and auto-saves, and snapshots. It is available for macOS, iOS, and Windows at present.
The free, feature-rich, and multi-platform screenwriting software of Trelby is simple, elegant, and fast to make your screenwriting process a smooth journey, and it is also configurable. It has a powerful screenplay editor, enforcing correct pagination and script format, spell checking, and auto-completion.
Trelby behaves well on multiple platforms and generates identical output no matter what platform you use. You also get multiple choice views such as WYSIWYG mode, draft view, and full-screen view to complement your writing style, in addition to extensive character name databases with 200k+ names from different countries.
The software can generate various kinds of reports for scenes, locations, dialogues, and characters, and Compares scripts and visualize the changes between different doc versions. Besides, you can easily import formatted text, Celtx (.celtx), Final Draft XML (.fdx), Adobe Story (.astx), Fade In Pro (.fadein), and Fountain (.fountain). Also, export files in PDF, HTML, formatted text, RTF, .fountain, and .fdx.
Trelby comes with a built-in PDF generator that you can configure and embed your selected font. It also supports PDF generation with customized watermarks to help track the shared files. Moreover, Trelby is free and has a GPL license, and it welcomes screenwriters and developers to contribute and make it more helpful.
Fade In is an advanced professional screenwriting solution used for television, motion pictures, stage plays, video games, and more. It is fully-fledged for writing your screenplays and comes with a comprehensive list of tools for outlining, navigating, organizing, and managing revisions and rewrites.
Its universal application interface provides the ultimate experience and runs on Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iPad, and iPhone. It handles script formatting and transitions automatically from scene titles to dialogues and action as you write. It also features an extensive range of screenplay styles.
Control different aspects of appearance and page layouts and tweak line lengths. The software includes an autocomplete feature that tracks location and character names to provide suitable suggestions as you type. You can also customize, rebuild, and sort locations and characters.
Collaborate in real-time with multiple members irrespective of their location and reflect changes instantly. In addition, Fade In allows you to insert images into your doc directly within the screenplay or title page. You can also organize the screenplay by color codes, index cards, scand enes and introduce plot points, characters, themes, sequences, and other elements seamlessly.
The Navigator allows you to view the script, sets, nested sequences and create links and bookmarks for reference. Other capabilities include full-screen mode, multiple file support, powerful rewriting and writing tools such as Dialogue Tuner for consistency, easy revisions, tagging, reports, breakdowns, cloud storage, and more. It runs on both desktop and mobile phones.
Made for writers by writers, Highland lets you write without any stress about formatting or margins. and can figure out whether an element is a dialogue, character, or action. Its user interface is configurable for any mood or preference and comes with customizable editor tools and themes.
Highland 2 offers gender analysis to break down the gender of the characters in your story. It can also allow you to explore the possibilities if you flip a character’s gender.
The software edits and opens in .fountain, .txt, and .markdown files quickly, and you can convert texts to .highland and vice versa. You also get screenwriting tools like Navigator for sections, notes, synopses, and scenes and the Bin to store your text, apart from live margins and revision mode.
You get more features such as 5 PDF templates for the screenplay, manuscript, and MLA report; 2 editor themes in classic and dark modes, watermarked PDF, character highlighting, sprints, automatic text backups, customizing location and time, and knowledge base support.
Visit Screenplay.com to find some screenwriting software to ease your writing, organizing, and sharing process. It offers four different versions of Movie Magic Screenwriter:
- Movie Magic Screenwriter 6: This is award-winning software that you can use for writing your screenplays, teleplays, stage plays, musicals, short stories, novels, comics, and more. It is compatible with macOS 10.14 Mojave and Windows 10 and includes Mac Screenwriter 6.5 and Windows Screenwriter 6.0. It costs $124.95 for 3 activations.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 Upgrade: It is an upgraded version of Screenwriter 2000/4.x and its earlier versions. It is compatible with macOS 10.14 and Windows 10 and includes Mac Screenwriter 6.5 and Windows Screenwriter 6. It costs $89.95 and comes with 3 activations.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter 6.5 Upgrade for Mac: It needs Movie Magic Screenwriter 6’s serial number for the upgrading. It is compatible with macOS only, including macOS 10.10 to 10.14. It costs $69.95 for 3 activations.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 Academic: This is also a fantastic screenwriting tool for teachers and students. It is compatible with macOS 10.14 and Windows 10. It costs $99.95 for 2 activations. If you want to order it at this price, you ought to be a full-time teacher or student at an accredited university, college, or high school and must provide proof for the same.
Choose Scrite to write your next best-selling book or blockbuster as this software provides a productive, engaging, and fun way of completing stuff. It offers index cards to help you map your screenplay’s structure and organize the cards into acts.
Use color codes index cards for better visual clarity. Always keep up with the big picture by visually capturing the story flow, whether you write a Rashomon, linear, or non-linear content. Additionally, you can use annotations to organize your ideas in a single place.
Scrite follows industry-standard formatting, supports multiple Indian languages other than English, and lets you track screen time, characters, and page count in each scene. You can also map relationships between different characters visually in the screenplay, making it easier for readers to grasp the complexity of the characters.
It allows you to take notes for the story, characters, and scenes distinctly, and you can also include them in your reports to communicate well with the production team. Furthermore, generate reports for complete scenes or dialogue of a specific character, location, or time.
The Scrited Tab is a helpful tool to sync film playback with the screenplay effectively. In addition, Scrite lets you download screenplays of famous films and then read them right from the app and import and export your write-up to popular file formats. It is available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Storyist is a robust writing platform for screenwriters and novelists. It helps you trace your settings, characters, and plot while keeping your writing accessible and organized to increase your focus on crafting the story.
Storyist provides you with a rich editor that supports headers, footers, style sheets, images, and comments to help you create beautifully formatted screenplays and manuscripts. It also comes with templates that can make your work easier.
Sketch out stories with index cards and have a complete overview. Next, you can refine the story with settings, characters, and plot and can also display the index cards opened next to the manuscript while writing. Storyist organizes all your screenplays, manuscripts, research work, and other relevant pieces and stores them safely in the cloud for easy access.
Causality is an excellent writing and story development application that revolutionizes how you tell your story while providing you a 360-degree overview of every detail, irrespective of its complexity. Create your stories like Legos over a gamer changer whiteboard that keeps on updating your script.
Big goodbye to story plot holes as Causality is smart enough to understand the causes and effects of various elements in your story, and therefore, informs if you break your rules.
You don’t have to go under an extensive rewriting process as Causality makes it natural to tie all the storylines together beautifully and ensures every element is there in the story for a reason. It works in small plot units called snippets with little texts, expressing a character or plot.
Causality is excellent for writing a novel, screenplay, graphic novel, non-fiction book, and movie story and gives you complete control over your story. It supports writing in 100+ languages (including Klingon), checks spellings, and comes with innumerable fonts that render identically on any platform.
Slugline is a unique screenwriting app that figures out the formatting while you write and comes with a robust outline builder, color-coded notes, and a timeline. In addition, they have introduced Slugline 2 for Mac, which is free to download and involves no watermarks.
The software has a dark mode and new design to uphold its simplicity while offering access to quick formatting options, the Timeline, and drag-and-drop Outline Navigator to overview the screenplay pacing and structure.
Compare the document in real-time as the software tracks all the changes. It puts an asterisk next to a modified text that you can click on to see the differences. Slugline uses the Fountain format that works with everything, and you can also export and open Final Draft files.
Other features of Slugline include A4 paper support, multi-colored notes, easy title pages, Courier Prime Sans font, scene numbering, auto-save, document setting preferences, and more. In addition, Slugline 2 is compatible with iPad and iPhone and lets you sync files on iCloud and Dropbox.
It is free for the first 6 pages and then costs $49.99 to unlock the Unlimited Writing features and FDX exporting.
As a screenwriter or filmmaker, your focus must be on writing your script instead of getting into the pesky business of formatting. Screenwriting software not only does that but also provides a lot of capabilities to produce an error-free, clean, and adequately formatted script that you can feel confident about.