Nowadays, for a career break as a screenwriter, you are no longer required to brush your elbows daily with producers. All you need is a computer, a literary agent, a knack for writing, and the best screenwriting software to kick start your writing career.
Thanks to streaming moguls like Netflix and Amazon Prime, there is a high chance that, with a little bit of luck, you can see your script on the big screen.
To help you with this, we have created a list of the best screenwriting software that you can buy in 2022. We have divided our article into two sections; one for free and one for paid screenwriting software.
Check them below, pick what works for you, and start writing engaging scripts right away.
Best Free Screenwriting Software (Free & Free Demo Version)
Popular among many professional screenwriters, StudioBinder is our top pick for the best screenwriting software.
This software is more of an end-to-end production management platform. That means it will take care of all your screenwriting needs starting from pre to post-production of the project that you are working on.
Just sign up and use its services for free.
Once you are a member, you can just focus on your writing, and the intuitive software will take care of the formatting part. This implies that your script file will be modified into an industry-standard shooting script, which will be further broken down into scene-by-scene shooting schedules, call sheets, timelines, and milestones.
Additionally, your screenplay can also be used to create shot lists, storyboards, and even call sheets.
Because it’s cloud-based software, it allows real-time collaboration with your team to create and share documents while giving them access to edit and comment on the shared files.
With the real-time collaboration tool, managing cast and crew also becomes really convenient.
This is one of the screenwriting apps you can get started with today.
Next on our list is another free cloud-based writing software called WriterDuet. This software allows you to collaborate with your team using premium features like real-time collaboration, intuitive commenting, and in-app chat and video call options.
Apart from that, it combines and rearranges your beat sheets, characters, and plot outlines to save you from unnecessary copy-pasting while rewriting a draft.
WriterDuet allows the import and export of files in the Final Draft, Microsoft Word Documents, PDF, and Celtx formats. It also creates a mind map, scene cards, and tools to deal with every aspect of your screenwriting process, which you can later customize and manage.
WriterDuet is not completely free. Although it offers a free plan, it has three paid plans. The free plan does all the features but with certain limitations.
However, if you prefer working on your own and the collaborative feature is of no use to you, opt for WriterSolo instead. WriterSolo is a completely free subsidiary of WriterDuet.
It offers an easy-to-use interface and basic features to solo scriptwriters.
Both software come with full SSL Certificate integration, ensuring a secure and encrypted connection to keep your script super safe.
WriterDuet is one of the best screenwriting software around, easy to use and affordable too in the long run.
Of all the best screenwriting software that made it to our list, Causality is perhaps the most unique.
It is different, in the sense that it presents you with beat boards, a visual format of your story. No matter how layered or complex your plot is, Causality will rearrange your plot as you move your beats along the visual narrative.
The rearrangement is done based on three components: the script, the story development, and a timeline.
When you start visualizing these components and the overall structure, it becomes easier to shape your ideas into well-rounded plots.
Causality will automatically evaluate the actions of your story as you write to figure out possible loopholes and plot errors. It will also provide smart suggestions for a rational action sequence.
There are both free and paid versions available for this software. The free plan has limited features, minus collaboration tools and reporting tools.
Overall, Causality is perhaps the best screenwriting software for dedicated script and screenwriters, not really for other content creation.
Auto-formats of scripts into a standard screenplay
Provides scene sequencing, character notes, and team collaboration
If you’re on a budget, Trelby can be the best screenwriting software to use, for free. It is an open-source screenwriting software, open to further development.
Trelby was previously known as Blythe.
The intuitive interface is fairly easy and clutter-free and allows you to customize it as per your writing needs. As the company itself advertises, this screenwriting software is “infinitely configurable.”
It encourages screenwriters and software developers to contribute to the software, which allows for continuous improvements and configurations.
Trelby has an integrated screenplay editor that enables features like spelling check, auto-formatting into standard scripts, page order, etc.
You can trust this screenwriting program to assemble all your documents into reports based on scene, character, location, and dialogue. It will also allow you to compare all your drafts and identify the changes.
But, for Mac users, there is some bad news. This otherwise great screenwriting software doesn’t support the Mac OS yet. The system requirements are such that it supports most old systems. Other than that, this is the best screenwriting software to use for free.
Trelby is working to include Mac support but it is still in the early development phase. You can check this out if using Trelby on Mac is imperative.
Infinitely configurable and intuitive UI
Create and use custom watermark
Script comparison tool allows comparing two PDF scripts
Developed by the screenwriter John August (Go, Aladdin, Big Fish, and Frankenweenie) himself, Highland boasts of features that any screenwriter would fancy.
The screenplay software comes with multiple screenplay templates for novel writing, scripts, plot outlines, stage plays, and much more to choose from. But there is one severe limitation. It only runs on Mac. No Windows, Linux, or mobile support.
Highland supports the Fountain file format– a plain text markup language often used in screenwriting. This allows the writer to access and edit their drafts from any device or any software meant for editing files (e.g., Google Drive, NotePad, Microsoft Word, etc.).
The algorithm will ensure that you stick to the chosen format so that you can just focus on the writing. Your Final Draft and PDF files will be automatically converted to Fountain files upon importing.
Highland comes with an expansive character database, which will allow sorting characters by order of appearance or the number of dialogues they deliver throughout the work.
Additionally, features like Night Mode, Gender Analysis tool, Multi-language Support, and sprint timer make writing more convenient and fun.
Highland is a top script writing software with a few tricks up its sleeve, especially in collaboration.
Just that this is Mac-only!
Based and built on set Industry Standards and protocols.
It is a cross-platform, pre-production software that enables you to organize and map your ideas into a plot narrative. For dramatists, novelists, authors, and screenwriters, this feature becomes a boon.
It allows real-time collaboration among the multiple writers as well as the production team over one ‘master file’ thereby reducing the number of documents and the hassle of their management.
This master file is later broken down and rearranged into scene summaries, characters, locations, and sets. This feature-loaded software has a rather simple user interface that allows you to fully focus on the writing process.
One of the most useful features of Celtx is its visual storyboard. You can choose from a plethora of images and drop as many figures or objects you want in the shot, and then layer them into a scene.
This helps the visual planners to get a better understanding of the screenplay they are working on.
Our next pick is Scrivener, one of the top contenders in the screenwriting software market.
This software brings together the traditional methods of scripting and all the features of the convenience of modern-day digital writing.
It provides tools to mimic a ring-binder, a typewriter, and a scrapbook– something the old-school professional writers ought to cherish.
The convenience of using this particular software is that it allows simultaneous writing. You can view and edit two pages at the same time, that too, on a single screen. It also provides the option of toggle between two screens, making multitasking a piece of cake.
Scrivener comes to the rescue of all non-linear writers who come up with multiple ideas for a plot segment. It comes with plenty of screenplay elements, the best of which is “CorkBoard”. It permits the writer to rearrange their plot simply by dragging and dropping the files at the desired spot.
Apart from that, importing documents from different word processors is also relatively easy. But in case you should face any issue, feel free to refer to its in-built video tutorials, which will walk you through all its features and functionality.
Wide variety of writing and editing tools
Affordable yet feature-loaded
Clubs all features on one platform for quick reference
For Windows, the bill is $45/m and for Mac users, the software costs $19.99/m. However, if you are a student, you can avail certain discounts.
Used by all the major production houses such as Netflix, Paramount, Pixar, and NBC Universal, Final Draft is one of the best screenwriting software out there.
The fact that Final Draft won the Primetime Emmy Engineering Award back in 2013 is a testament to its qualities. So if you want software that is up to film industry standards, this is it.
First launched in 1990, this software has had numerous updates, and the current one is its 11th release.
What makes Final Draft 11 a popular choice is its advanced visualization and brainstorming tool. It allows multiple members to participate in the process of writing in real-time.
If a visual storyboard is not enough, you can further make use of a “beat boards” tool. This software offers you the option of customizing and organizing your ‘beats’.
Once you are done organizing, you can leave the formatting to the software. Your visualizations and beats board will be combined in your script, which will be further auto-formatted as per industry standard screenplay format.
Other noteworthy features of Final draft 11 include auto file back-up, a ‘Revision Mode’, multi-language support, call sheets, auto elements tagging, and a ‘Night Mode’.
Save variations of a line using ‘Alternate Dialogue Storage’
Offers multiple keyboard shortcuts
Fonts in 95+ languages
Speech to script support
A digital download of Final Draft 11 costs $199.99 with a 1-month pre-purchase trial. However, if you are a teacher or educator, you can purchase an educational license for just under $100.
If you are looking for scriptwriting software that will offer you value for your money, Fade In will be your go-to option.
Compared to other premium writing software, Fade In provides all essential tools and its own unique features but at only one-third of the price.
Fade In is widely regarded as the best screenwriting program for motion pictures. Popular screenwriters, like those of The Last Jedi or Rogue One, swear by this screenplay software, and we’ll tell you why.
It provides automatic formatting of a script into the industrial format, real-time collaboration, sync with the cloud, auto-complete typing, script breakdown tool — all over a user-friendly interface.
Other essential screenwriting tools such as the index cards and templates for writing, story maps, reporting, editing, and recording do also come out of the box.
However, Fade In has its own unique tools such as the Dialogue Tuner, which keeps track of overused words or terms. It ensures that a character maintains a consistent voice and the action-to-dialogue calculator analyses ratios with ease.
Using this software, you can import files in several screenwriting formats such as Final Draft, Scrivener, Celtx, and Adobe Story. Additionally, you can export files directly as PDF.
Organizing scenes, sequences, and key plot points by color
Uses open file formatting for greater compatibility
Built-in ‘Distraction-free Mode’
Supports multiple file formats
It has a one-time price of $79.95, inclusive of all future version upgrades. However, for students, it costs $49.95 only.
The mobile apps(iOS and Android) cost $4.99.
A free version with basic features of the software is also available, but it watermarks all the PDF to be exported, something common with other paid screenwriting programs with free versions.
Movie Magic Screenwriter is perhaps the oldest and most trustworthy screenwriting software, with its first version dating back to 1983.
Known as the only true market competitor of Final Draft 11, Movie Magic Screenwriter is equally popular amongst professional screenwriters as Final Draft 11.
This software offers almost all the features and tools similar to those of Final Draft 11. However, the only point of divergence between the two is that Movie Magic Screenwriter uses a NaviDoc interface that maps out the plot outlines, scenes, notes, and bookmarks on the sidebar.
This allows you to simultaneously glance at them as you continue working on the script.
With hundreds of writing templates to choose from, this software also offers import and reformatting options for Microsoft Word documents, PDF, and RTF formats. These files are then auto-formatted to meet the Hollywood film industry requirements.
If you are looking for the features of Final Draft 11 but do not wish to burn a hole in your pocket, Movie Magic Screenwriter will do just fine.
Highly functional auto-formatting Tool
Thesaurus for multiple languages
Receive continuous and free updates
Movie Magic Screenwriter charges a one-time fee of $249.95 for both Windows and OS. Prior to purchasing, one can also check the software out with a 14-day trial of the free version.
Important Features Of Screenwriting Software
The best screenwriting apps will help you turn your raw script into a scannable and digitally comprehensible screenplay.
Use these pointers to pick your free or paid best screenwriting software from above –
The most important feature to look for in any screenwriting software. An easy to use interface means the software is developed for screenwriting or content creators in general, whether it’s free or paid. Your sole focus should be on the writing process. The Movie Magic Screenwriter has perhaps the most intuitive user interfaces.
Preloaded Screenplay Templates:
Some of the best screenwriting software comes preloaded with industry-standard templates. You only need to choose the right template and the screenwriting software will do the rest. This saves you a lot of time and effort, which you can then divert towards the creative aspect.
Satisfying everyone with your screenplay is tough, but with screenwriting software, this gets that much easier. Through real-time collaboration, screenwriters and production team members can work together in real-time to write the perfect screenplay.
Aside from these “Big Three” features, there are plenty more screenwriting software tools that are helpful. Some of them are listed below:
A rich text editor module.
Alternate Dialogue Storage.
Supports Multiple file formats to import scripts from any source.
Supports Multiple Languages and fonts.
Auto grammar and spelling checks.
Cloud sync services.
As the user, you know best about what features you do and do not need. But, in our opinion, the “Big Three” and the eight basic ones are a must-have before you start writing.
Choose One, Start Writing!
All these programs are meant to do the same things but each offers something different than the other.
While Movie Magic offers better revision tracking but Final Draft 11 brings Android and iOS support.
Out of the free screenwriting software options, Studio Binder is the complete production package, something even Final Draft and Movie Magic lack. Celtx has the best screenwriting software mobile apps on both platforms.
Having said all that, this list is in no way definitive. There are plenty of other screenwriting software options out there. This is simply a list of what we think are the best options right now.
Choosing the right one for yourself will depend upon a number of personal and subjective factors. So, try any of this screenplay software and see what fits your requirement better. Cheers!
Can I Use Microsoft Word As A Screenwriting Tool?
Yes, you can. You can write a script in any writing software including NotePad, Google Docs, etc. However, it is not recommended. These word processors cannot turn your raw script into a film industry-level screenplay. You should only use professional screenwriting software for screenwriting.
What Software Does Script Writers Use?
Scriptwriters can use a single script writing software or multiple software at the same time. Most writers use free software in the early stages of writing and then move towards paid software to apply the finishing touches. The most popular paid tools used by scriptwriters in 2022 are Final Draft 11 and Movie Magic Screenwriting.
Is A Screenwriting Tool Worth It?
Yes, definitely. Screenwriting is a tricky business. The biggest production houses in Hollywood have certain formats they want their writers to follow. You can’t format, edit, and compose a screenplay as per those formats manually. A slight mistake and these film industry giants will bin your idea.
Screenwriting software tools help with formatting while you focus on the writing. If you don’t have the money, use a free version.
Do Writing Software Guarantee Success?
No. But using writing software to morph out a high-quality screenplay out of a rough script will increase the chances of your big break. Success still depends on your writing and story-telling skills. The writing software is just a helping hand.