Are you looking for good screenwriting software to help you improve your craft?
You can find screenwriting software that meets your unique writing requirements regardless of your skill level.
However, maybe you’re overwhelmed with the abundance of options and can’t decide which one to use.
Don’t worry because I can help you.
I’ve compiled a list of the best screenwriting software to make your process easier and more efficient, whether you’re just starting or have been writing scripts for years.
Table of Contents
What Is Screenwriting Software?
Here’s a quick primer on what script-writing software is.
Screenwriting software is a tool for composing screenplays and scripts (similar to word processors). Regular word processors (like Microsoft Word) can’t meet the needs of screenwriters.
There are several characters in a screenplay, so screenwriters need quick shortcuts to type their names. The same goes for screenwriters, who have to take notes, collaborate with other writers, and need quick access to outlines.
The macros in Microsoft Word make it easier for screenwriters to use these features, but it’s time-consuming. A dedicated scriptwriting program gives you all the features and benefits you need to make great scripts quickly.
The best thing about screenwriting software is that it comes with templates, making writing much more manageable. You just pick a template and edit it.
With the best screenwriting software, you can stay organized, save time, write faster and neater, and focus on essentials instead of worrying about technical details.
How To Choose the Right Screenwriting Software
The list below isn’t exhaustive. The best screenwriting software is not limited to Scrivener, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Highland, or KIT Scenarist.
Even without a tool, it’s possible to write screenplays and scripts, but it’ll be tricky if you’re not using the right screenwriting software. It’s the way the industry works.
Knowing your project requirements and interests will help you pick the right screenwriting software. So before you choose a screenwriting program, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you looking for templates to help you get started quickly?
- Is this your first time writing a screenplay?
- Do you have other scriptwriters working on the script with you?
- Do you work alone?
- Are you into production management?
Answering these questions will help you choose the best screenwriting software.
18 Best Screenwriting Software (Paid and Free Options)
Here are my top screenwriting software picks.
Arc Studio Pro
Want to improve your screenwriting prowess? I recommend Arc Studio Pro as the best solution. It has quickly become the new industry standard for screenwriting software–making it my top tool for screenwriters.
It’s easy to format to industry standards with Arc Studio Pro‘s straightforward, distraction-free writing interface.
It has an intuitive interface and a free browser version. Plus, it offers an easy-to-learn, user-friendly experience. Professionals and beginners alike will enjoy using this screenwriting software.
Arc Studio allows you to collaborate with other writers in real time. You can also export your screenplay as a PDF or .fdx file to share it with other authors who use different applications too!
From the cloud-based software, you can access and write your screenplay via the downloadable software (Mac and PC), your browser, or your iOS mobile device.
Besides that, it has automatic cloud storage, so you can save it to Google Drive or your hard drive and access your screenplay from anywhere.
Additionally, Arc Studio Pro has a great outline tool for writing stories and figuring out what characters’ arcs should be. However, if you need production tools like coloring pages or starred revisions, you won’t find them here, but the Arc Studio Pro team promises they will come soon.
Arc Studio is free.
You can upgrade to the Essentials version for $69 (annually) or the Pro version for $99 (annually) to enjoy more features.
If you’re interested in screenwriting for film and TV, check out Final Draft, the industry-standard software most professionals use. If you want to spruce up your scripts, Final Draft is your best bet!
Initially released in 1990, Final Draft is a multi-award-winning screenwriting software. It won an Emmy Engineering Award in 2013, and since then, popular entertainment productions like Netflix, NBCUniversal, Paramount, ABC, Pixar, etc., have used it.
This program offers many features that make it a good choice for screenwriters who want to use the same industry-standard program as major TV shows.
In addition, its SmartType feature allows you to reinsert scene elements, like characters and locations, as you write.
Final Draft also has tagging and reporting tools to break down scene elements (actors, wardrobe, props) for later use in production reports.
It has other features, like Story Map (for outlining), Beat Board (for beat sheets), and Alternate Dialogue (for storing more dialogue options). If you’re good at writing dialogue, you can use its revision mode to keep track of all the changes as you go.
The other editions of Final Draft include real-time collaboration, index cards view, over 100 templates, and a mobile version (sold separately).
In terms of writing software, Final Draft has pretty much everything you need except some pre-production tools like storyboards and shot lists.
As of this writing, Final Draft costs $64.99 if you upgrade to version 12. If it’s out of your budget ($159.99 for the licensed version of Final Draft), you’ve got other screenwriting software options in this list.
Users say KIT Scenarist is the best screenwriting software program.
You may never have heard of Kit Scenarist before, but it is one of the best free screenwriting software available today.
One feature in the screenwriting program caught my eye that no other program has: a clock that estimates how long your screenplay will last. You’ll see how long the software thinks your scene will run in each scene heading.
While this isn’t a feature that renders all other screenwriting apps obsolete, it’s a unique feature we haven’t seen before and could be helpful, especially for writers who tend to write longer-than-average scenes. Also, it helps you gauge your script’s pace quickly.
It’s easy to use and lets you focus on what matters most: writing the script. There’s nothing clunky about it.
Kit Scenarist’s downside is that it’s still in the beta stage, so you might run into some bugs here and there while the programmers still iron out the software.
However, Kit Scenarist can be the perfect screenwriting software if you want something new and free with some unique features.
Although the program is free, you can pay for dedicated cloud storage (by subscription) and get a mobile version to keep writing your script on the go.
Subscription prices depend on how many months you purchase:
- One month – $4.99
- Two months – $9.99
- Three months – $14.99
- Six months – $27.9 (with a 6% discount)
- 12 months – $52.9 ( with a 12% discount)
If you’re writing for your next blockbuster romance, Fade In is a great, affordable, and professional tool. You can get a demo version of the paid version, which has the same functionality.
Fade In includes everything you need to write screenplays, stage plays, radio plays, graphic novels, and more.
With features like supporting multiple languages, an action-to-dialogue calculator, and suitable for rewrites and revisions, it’s quickly becoming the industry standard.
In addition, it can handle multiple file formats, like images and PDFs. If you save your script as FDX, you can send it to someone who uses Final Draft.
It’s popular in the film industry and works on Mac, Windows, Android, Linux, and iOS. A full-screen mode is also available.
You can use the free version if you are just starting, but it only allows you to work on one script each time. If you’re working on more than one script, Its paid version will cost you $79.95.
When it comes to free and open-source screenwriting software, I recommend Trelby. Being able to work on Windows and Linux is also a huge plus. You can also try this program out before committing to more expensive software.
Among the scriptwriting software on this list, Trelby is the only open-source option. Any user can configure the program’s code to add or remove features. GitHub makes it easy to contribute to its development, too.
Trelby is easy to use and can import Final Draft software, Celtx, Fountain, and Fade In Pro. You can also import screenplays from Adobe Story (another popular screenwriting software).
This software does not include other features like budgeting, cast lists, and other related pre-production tasks, so it may not be the best.
Trebly’s straight up and clean. It’s perfect for people who just want to sit down and write.
Trelby is 100% free.
Highland is a simple script-writing software for Mac users. The Highland screenwriting software uses Fountain file formats, a text-based format compatible with many popular screenplay software like Final Draft.
Developed by screenwriter and author John August, Highland 2 features an easy-to-use interface designed to address the challenges of screenwriters while focusing on the actual writing process.
You can easily drag and drop scenes, notes, sections, and synopses in the navigator. Using the bin, you can keep your backup plot ideas, improvisations, and alternative ideas.
A live margin lets you see your formatted screenplay, while the revision mode tracks your changes in different colors.
Highland converts Fountain files and exports them to Final Draft or PDF. This screenplay software is suitable for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Highland 2 has a free version with basic screenwriting features. If you want advanced features, you’ll have to pay $49.99.
WriterDuet is the scriptwriting software you need if you like real-time collaboration. You can work on a screenplay with another writer in real-time, seeing their changes as they happen. Additionally, you can leave comments for each other and see who made what changes.
WriterDuet is a dedicated screenwriting software for writing and editing screenplays and other media. It is suitable for professional screenwriters who work with writing partners.
With WriterDuet’s easy-to-use interface and distraction-free writing, you’ll be able to focus on your writing. This software goes beyond real-time collaboration, though. You also get an in-app chat box, video chat, and commenting (private or shared).
A revision tracking feature breaks down script changes by calendar date. Among the other cool features of WriterDuet are asset tagging, mobile integration, templates, alternate dialogue storage, draft saving, and organization for drafts.
When writing scripts with WriterDuet, users can save their scripts in the FDX format.
95% of Hollywood studios, producers, and production companies use this format. If you receive a script request from an industry professional, you can send it quickly.
WriterDuet offers a free plan with limited features. Paid plans start at $9.99 monthly and provide complete access to the basic features. Premium plans, which cost $13.99 monthly, will give you access to all the advanced features.
Like your wall of index cards, Milanote lets you see your story structure at a glance.
Milanote lets you drag and drop critical parts to rearrange them as your story unfolds, making it the perfect companion to your script.
You can organize your research, ideas, characters, and outline on one interface. They’ve got tons of templates to help you get started.
Milanote is available on the web and on macOS devices. You can also record ideas on the go with their accompanying mobile apps.
Milanote has a free plan. You’ll have to pay $49 monthly if you work with writing partners. If you prefer to work alone, the price is $9.99 monthly.
Movie Magic Screenwriter
Movie Magic Screenwriter offers the best user experience for professional writers thanks to its customizable features and tools. By automating the editing process, writers can do it seamlessly without worrying about technical stuff.
Hollywood pros have used Movie Magic Screenwriter for decades. Its latest version, Movie Magic Screenwriter 6, has all the screenwriting tools you could ever need.
It’s simple, easy to learn, and doesn’t require screenwriting training.
Movie Magic Screenwriter offers you a paper manual, an electronic manual, sample documents, and a 35-page production guide to help you get started.
There are free online videos and a free demo version to make it easier to use.
The regular version of Movie Magic Screenwriter costs $249.95 and works on any device (Mac or Windows). The Academic version costs $99.95, while the Upgraded one costs $89.95.
Unlike most free screenplay software on this list, this free app offers a visual way to check the beats of your screenplay rather than conventional movie scripts.
Causality helps you build a story on a macro level.
Causality’s Story Sequencing Engine can analyze your story’s events regardless of its complexity. It can uncover plot problems you didn’t consider and suggest more logical sequences.
There’s one drawback to Causality’s free version: the writing is limited. You need the paid version to unlock unlimited writing and other features, such as exporting and printing.
Prewrite is another visual outlining tool instead of traditional free screenwriting software. Perfecting story structure is a big part of it.
Among screenwriting programs, Prewrite allows you to view and analyze your work before exporting to Final Draft or any app that opens .fdx files.
You can search within the app for inspiring commercial-free images from Unsplash and The Movie Database to make your scenes and characters come to life.
With Story Stats, you can see INT vs. EXT, time of day, location, and which scenes specific characters appear in together. You can import an existing script to refine it if you’ve already started from scratch.
Prewrite has a free plan, but the Pro plan (monthly) and Team plan (monthly per user) cost $29.99. The Premium plan costs $14.99.
Celtx is a cloud-based software facilitating real-time collaboration between users on the same project.
It offers a wide range of features for screenwriters. Celtx has millions of users worldwide, and many consider it one of the best screenwriting apps.
Celtx is a screenwriting and pre-production software that allows users to create screenplays for films, televisions, stage plays, games, podcasts, and documentaries.
In the film industry, it’s one of the most famous professional screenwriting software.
This app is for you if you want to collaborate on a script in real time.
While some features require you to pay a monthly fee, Celtx is a suitable choice if you need an application for writing and formatting text according to industry standards.
There’s also a place to upgrade your subscription. I recommend the Pro version for unlimited scripts, full co-writing capabilities, full access to your script history, total customizability, and production tools.
Celtx is available on all devices, letting you write at home or on the go.
Celtx has three pricing plans.
- The Writer plan costs $13.49 monthly.
- The Writer Pro plan costs $22.49 monthly.
- The Team plan is $53.99 monthly.
Celtx bills all plans annually.
Scrivener isn’t just a screenwriting app. It’s a full-featured word processor for writing novels, articles, brochures, flyers, and more.
Scrivener is among the best screenwriting software tools for novelists and screenwriters. You can organize notes, drag and drop documents, and edit multiple documents simultaneously.
This software is valuable throughout your writing process.
With Scrivener, you can add footnotes, use MathType, and refer to a research library. Thus, this is an excellent screenwriting software tool to have if you’re writing a historical novel, a fictional film, or a non-fictional book.
Best of all, you can use it for project management. It can also mimic a typewriter, ring binder, and scrapbook. There are also templates for writing general and academic non-fiction, like scientific and medical papers.
You can use Scrivener on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Linux.
You can try Scrivener for 30 days for free, then purchase it separately for a one-time fee.
- iOS – $19.99 to use Scrivener on iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, requires a Dropbox account.
- Windows – $49 (standard license) and $41.65 (educational license)
- macOS – $49 (standard license) and $41.65 (educational license)
Page 2 Stage
Besides being one of the best screenwriting software on the market, Page 2 Stage supports multiple languages.
You had to pay for the Page 2 Stage in the past, but now it’s free. It’s available in thirty languages, which gives it an edge over other software on the list.
For example, if you’re Turkish and looking for a free screenwriting program, this might be for you.
If you use British, Australian, or Canadian English and want to ensure your screenplay conforms to American English, this program’s language capability can help.
The only downside of Page 2 Stage is it only runs on Windows.
Page 2 Stage is a completely free screenwriting software.
DramaQueen is a free screenwriting software for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
This software is compatible with Final Draft, making it a good option if you want to import, export, and format that way.
DramaQueen has a few handy features, including structuring a story into steps, auto-formatting, an ideas panel, and drag-and-drop navigation.
The idea panel is valuable for consolidating and editing your research and ideas.
It’s free to use DramaQueen, and there are no limits on how many scripts you can upload or how long you can have your script up for use.
Interested in free, professional screenwriting software? StudioBinder’s free scriptwriting software is an excellent option for filmmakers or writers. You can start writing your screenplay as soon as you sign up.
StudioBinder offers a great, free cloud-based screenwriting tool similar to WriterDuet. If you’re looking for a fast, clean program on which to write, you might be interested in this one.
StudioBinder’s writing software is just one part of the complete package.
It’s an end-to-end production management platform that lets you create scripts and move into pre-production and production.
Using your screenplay, you can automatically generate shooting schedules, shot lists, storyboards, and call sheets (create and send personalized call sheets and track RSVPs).
You can customize call times and upload attachments. The software also allows you to build and manage production documents, share anything with your team, and let collaborators comment and edit.
StudioBinder’s free screenwriting software lets you manage contacts, add tasks and prepare unlimited call sheets. However, you can choose from three pricing plans if you want more features.
- Indie – $29 monthly
- Professional – $49 monthly
- Studio – $99 monthly
With Slugline, you only have to focus on the writing while it handles everything else. This program uses Fountain, a plain text format that preserves screenplays on any device. Simply open the application and start writing – no manual or training is required.
Slugline is known for keeping everything minimal. Those who hate screenwriting’s technical process will love Slugline. It makes the entire process organized and clean, from scripting to outlining, synopsis, and notes.
The Fountain support makes Slugline the most accessible application for screenwriters. Due to its simple, elegant, and attractive interface, it’s excellent for new screenwriters.
It takes care of everything in screenwriting and gives writers creative freedom and time to concentrate solely on the writing.
You can download Slugline on macOS and iOS.
- Free Version – You can write up to six pages, so you’ll never need an upgrade.
- Upgrade Version – Upgrade to unlimited writing for $49.99 monthly.
Storyist isn’t just a screenwriting tool. You can also do research and plan, write, and edit screenplays. Although it’s only available on macOS and iOS, it’s still worth mentioning.
Storyist is writing software offering the smoothest screenwriting experience from the first draft to production. With its neat and structured system, you can save time, track your performance, and create without distractions.
It organizes the screenwriting process from pre- to post-production using text, outline, and storyboard features.
There’s a one-time fee of $19 for iOS devices and $59 for macOS. A free trial is also available for Storyist.
Features To Consider In Screenwriting Software
Whether free or paid, the best screenwriting software should have these features.
You need to format a script properly if you want it to look professional.
The best screenwriting software will have templates for different types of scripts and let you customize the formatting. It’s a quick and easy way to ensure your writing meets industry standards.
Story Development Tools
A good story takes time, effort, and creativity. Consider software that offers character profiles, outlines, scene cards, and other tools to help you turn your story ideas into a finished product.
You can use these tools to prepare your script for submission or production.
You need feedback from others to ensure your writing is the best it can be.
For quick and easy access to notes from editors and producers, look for screenwriting software that offers real-time collaboration tools, such as online chat or document sharing.
Automation and Templates
Most writers who write for films, television shows, or other production companies use specific templates.
The right software should provide these templates automatically or let you create your own. Automating auto-completion and spellchecking features can save you time when formatting your script.
Scheduling and Budgeting
When planning and organizing productions, look for software with features that help you manage these tasks.
Use the right tools to easily track all the scriptwriting and filmmaking details.
If your goal is to write excellent scripts, the right screenwriting software can make a significant difference.
To quickly prepare your script for production or submission, look for script formatting, story development tools, collaboration tools, automation templates, budgeting, and scheduling features.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is the Best Screenwriting Software?
It depends. If you’re serious about screenwriting, you should buy professional software since it has more features.
However, if you’re just getting into screenwriting or on a budget, the 18 best free screenwriting software options I’ve picked above are a great place to start.
What Software Do Scriptwriters Use?
The software writers use in the scriptwriting process includes screenwriting programs such as Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Fade In, and more.
How Do I Use Screenwriting Software?
You need to download the screenwriting software, install it, and follow the instructions.
What Is the Best Free Script Writing App?
If you’re looking for the best free scriptwriting app to get started with your screenwriting project, Trelby is the way to go.
It’s completely free but boasts all the features of commercial screenwriting software.
Trelby lets anyone looking to kick-start their career in Hollywood produce professional-looking screenplay documents.
However, picking the best free screenwriting software tool depends on personal preference—every writer works differently and has varying needs.
Do research, try a few programs, and see what works best for you and your process.
What Are the Benefits of a Paid Version Compared to a Free Version?
If you choose a paid version over a free version, you will receive more privacy, security, and customer support. Plus, paid services are less likely to contain viruses or malware than free ones.
How Do I Back Up My Work?
You can back up your work with any screenwriting software. However, some may not be automatic. If you want to close the program or shut down your computer, you must use this feature every time.
Can You Write Scripts in Microsoft Word?
Writing a script on Microsoft Word is okay, but screenplay software like Final Draft is better.
Do I Need Screenwriting Software To Write a Screenplay?
Not necessarily. If you want to write a screenplay, you can just use word processing but ensure you format it correctly to make it look neat and professional.
What Should You Look For in Screenplay Software?
Before buying any screenwriting software, there are many things to consider. Script format, automatic backup, ease of use, and operating system compatibility are the most crucial factors.
The Bottom Line
I hope my list of the best screenwriting software programs made it easier for you to find the one that best matches your needs, goals, and budget.
Don’t be afraid to start writing once you find the right script-writing software. It could lead to your next big break.
If you want to improve as a scriptwriter, do what others do and learn about style and tone in writing.