To become a full-time screenwriter in this day and age all you need to start with is screenwriting software and a literary agent. In this article, we have broken down the best screenwriting software out there to help you decide which would best suit you.
What is screenwriting software?
Screenwriting software helps you format, write, and edit your scripts. It allows you to write and format your scripts in the correct format and additional tools ease the process and make it more efficient for you as a writer.
It helps you as a screenwriter to meet the high level of formatting to meet the industry standards. The benefit of using screenwriting software to Google Docs of Microsoft Word, is that it automatically formats your work and saves you time and effort moving forward.
Now with relative ease, as a screenwriter you can add action, character dialogue, loglines, headings, descriptions, transitions, and plenty more.
In fact, with the latest screenwriting software, it offers additional support with storyboarding and planning. Creating a 360 experience on the platforms to get your tv program or film made to the best spec possible.
To help you decide which would be the best screenwriting software for you, we have laid out an overview and key features of each screenwriting software in depth.
Check it out below!
READ MORE: What is Script Writing?
What is the best screenwriting software?
Here we breakdown the best screenwriting software, the key features for each piece of software, and their costs.
Celtx is one of our favourite pieces of screenwriting software due to the depth and diversity it offers. It’s a cloud based piece of screenwriting software with over 6.2 million users.
Celtx is the complete package as it offers more than the standard screenwriting software, it includes pre-production tools to set up your storyboarding, shot lists, and budgeting. A huge benefit of Celtx is it is cloud-based allowing you to access and work on your scripts from absolutely anywhere and any machine.
Celtx is ideal for screenwriters who are looking to keep pre production all in one space. Computer game writers will also benefit with it’s in-depth computer game collaboration tools and screenwriting package.
- Allows you to work completely offline
- Simple and easy to use operating interface
- Supports production schedules
- Completely stored on cloud-based solutions
- Tagging functionality, so writers and directors can tag elements in their scripts
- Tailored workflow for teams
- Pre-production software all wrapped up in one place
- Supports real-time collaboration so everyone can add notes and changes within the same document at once without overwriting
- Doesn’t allow scripts in the PDF format to be exported without an OCR conversion
- It used to be free of charge.
- The copy and paste functionality is a bit glitch and can cause formatting issues within your document
How much does Celtx cost?
Celtx has three different prices, one for video production, one for game production and the other pricice point is for both. The costs are as follows:
- $30 a month for the video production package.
- $30 a month for the game package.
- $50 a month for both packages combined.
Trelby is an open-source and free screenwriting software and operates on Windows and Linux (sorry Apple users). Trelby allows both screenwriters and developers to collaborate to ensure the screenwriting software is constantly being tweaked to make it easy to use and meet the needs of the screenwriters.
It’s the perfect fit for any screenwriters starting out, or a production company in its infancy to help reduce the costs. This is why we’ve included it in our best screenwriting software breakdown.
- Built-in screenplay editor with an easy to use interface.
- Allows you to import from a huge variety of file formats. Including Fountain (.fountain) Final Draft XML (.fdx), Celtx (.celtx), Adobe Story (.astx), and Fade In Pro (.fadein).
- Has a built-in character name database
- Different views to choose from
- System requirements are minimal, making it easy to run on different platforms and computers
- Script comparison: Trelby has the ability to compare scripts
- No Italics, Bold or Underlining options
- Available only on Windows and Linux
- Updates can be years apart
- Only supports in the English language
- No online collaboration mode
How much does Trelby cost?
Trelby costs absolutely nothing as it’s an open source software.
Final Draft is a screenwriting powerhouse, which has won a multitude of industry awards and has featured prominently since it’s initial release in 1990.
Final Draft comes with an in-depth range of tools with advanced brainstorming tools combined with collaboration tools. The advanced features will help you build a script and supporting material to the highest standard in the industry.
One element of Final Draft we find incredibly useful is the ability to customise “beats”. This enables you to create character arcs and set up story maps.
- Automatically formats your script to the industry standard
- Final Draft provides tools to plan key milestones and story plots
- Allows keyboard shortcuts, ideal for improving your screenwriting efficiency
- 100+ templates to choose from
- Over 90+ languages supported
- Final Draft backs up your files automatically
- Revision mode allows you to see changes made and revert if necessary
- On the expensive side
- Have to buy the latest edition to stay updated, unlike cloud-based screenwriting software
How much does Final Draft cost?
Final Draft currently costs $199 but can fluctuate between this price and $229. If you already have a copy of Final Draft you can upgrade for $79.99.
Fade In has been around less than a decade, but this takes away absolutely nothing from this screenwriting software. It’s on of the best screenwriting software out there at the moment. It’s highly compatible and works across Windows, Mac and Linux – and not to mention, it’s incredibly affordable.
Compared to Final Draft ever so often, it offers real-time collaboration, automatic industry formatting and unlike Final Draft, Fade In offers free software updates. Fade In offers an action-to-dialogue calculator, complete image support and to top it off their interface is of the highest quality.
Fade In is an ideal screenwriting software for screenwriters working in the film industry full time, as it allows your thoughts and ideas to integrate into their screenwriting with ease.
- Offers an action-to-dialogue calculator
- High spec interface that’s easy to use
- Offers cloud Storage, work on your scripts on any machine
- Complete image support
- Free updates to Fade In
- Page Only mode, no more distractions
- Automatic script formatting
- Autocomplete module for writing, similar to the Google auto-complete module
- Free version has the Fade In watermark
- Script compatibility with other screenwriting software may be an issue
How much does Fade In cost?
Fade In is exceptionally priced at $79.95 for a one-time fee. A great price that includes every additional software upgrade Fade In makes.
Highland 2 is a screenwriting software that sometimes slips from the radar when it comes to the best screenwriting software. Not because it’s bad, but simply due to Final Draft and Celtx dominating the market. However, Highland 2 is an exceptional piece of screenwriting software and this is why it’s included in our list: The Best Screenwriting Software.
Highland 2 offers a highly adaptable interface which allows the writer to solely focus on their screenwriting and scripts with the easy to use navigation and sleek design.
Highland 2 is specifically designed for Mac users so we’d definitely recommend this for screenwriters who specifically use Mac. Due to the ability to use imagery, it’s used often by bloggers who want to write scripts and even articles paired with images before setting live. You can develop your own themes as well, which is a handy add on.
- Has a cool “Sprint” feature which enables you to track the time spent on your script
- The first scriptwriting software to offer a “gender analysis” tool
- Automatic formatting, to ensure your script is formatted to the industry standard
- They have the best customer support out there for screenwriting software
- Design your own themes with the Pro account
- A huge amount of keyboard shortcuts, ensuring you work as efficiently as possible
- Only available for Mac users
- Free versions covered in watermarks
How much does Highland 2 cost?
Highland 2 currently costs $49.99 – a great price for an excellent and intuitive piece of software.
StudioBinder is a modern screenwriting tool popular with filmmakers alike. It’s modern interface and smooth usability are one of StudioBinders top selling points.
StudioBinder is an excellent product for production companies due to the pre-production tools it has to offer to complement their screenwriting software. It comes with excellent software to help photo and video production companies timetable and manage their workload. It’s the full package.
StudioBinder is mostly suited to larger production companies looking to have their pre-production projects all stored in one central system. Spotify and many of the larger production companies are huge advocates of StudioBinder with its well-built software.
- Has a built-in, detailed, and intuitive shot list and storyboard builder
- A drag and drop builder to customise your individual interface
- Messaging feature to allow you to message and update all parts of the production and crew members
- Create customised call sheets for your production team and actors
- Very expensive
How much does StudioBinder cost?
StudioBinder is split into individual pricing and business pricing. The individual pricing starts at $29 a month for their “Indie” package, $49 for their “professional” package and $99 for their “Studio” package. The business pricing tier starts at $299 and tops it at $1499 per month.
WriterDuet is a relatively unknown piece of screenwriting software. It’s an incredibly effective screenwriting software used primarily for screenplays and computer game scripts.
Possibly the best feature is the opportunity to edit in real-time as a collaboration, multiple people can write and edit on the same document at the same time. This is ideal for screenwriting duos and screenwriting companies as it allows you to work at the same time on the same, singular document eliminating the issue of saving over one anothers work.
It allows you to backup to cloud based storage (G Drive, Dropbox iCloud, etc.), so your scripts are always backed up and safe.
- Provides tutorials to its software
- Completely integrated SSL – Scripts are never shared without permission, reducing the chance of them being leaked
- The ability to track all of your edits
- Supports multiple devices, and mobile – if you fancy adjusting your script on the go
- Allows you to add multiple plugins to customise the program to your liking
- The free version isn’t maintained as well as the paid versions
How much does WriterDuet cost?
WriterDuet costs $11.99 or you can pay a reasonable $199 for a lifetime subscription to WriterDuet.
Scrivener was originally released way back in 2009, it’s an in-depth screenwriting software used by filmmakers, screenwriters and novelists.
It offers cool perks like adding notes to your scripts, editing multiple documents at once and works across a multitude of platforms.
Scrivener is more suited to technical and novel writers, due to its range of tools and sometimes complex interface.
- A user-friendly interface that’s simple to use
- Built-in corkboard to rearrange and sort your files
- Video tutorials to help you improve using the software
- Import files from all different document writing programs
- Familiar text editing and tool functionalities.
- Takes a while to get to grips with the software
- You have to pay for some of the updates
How much does Scrivener cost?
Scriveners cost is dependent on the platform on which you buy it for. Starting from $19.99 on IOS to $45 on Windows.
That’s all from us! We hope this article was of help! If you are looking to improve your screenwriting or filmmaking skills, why not check out our articles below: