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Discover top screenwriting software programs in 2021 to create and write your scripts from these 15 paid and free script writing software for screenwriters.
Whether you're looking for the best screenwriting software, the most popular script writing software, free screenplay software or details of the current screenwriting software available to produce and collaborate on scripts, check out these 15 top screenwriting software (free and paid).
1. Final Draft
Originally released in 1990, this is probably the program for writing scripts if you learned screenwriting while you were at college. They most probably had it installed on the in-house computers but then told you to download Celtx, its rival, for free.
If you want to know which screenwriting software do professionals use, Final Draft is often classed as the most popular script writing software used by professional screenwriters and is considered the industry standard when it comes to screenplay writing software programs.
Since this is one of the OG scriptwriting programs, you can expect it to have everything and then some – and you’d be right. It has the industry standard formatting options and can advise you of errors, give you prompts, and encourages you to learn the ins and outs of stage direction.
It can detect grammar and spelling errors just as quickly as it can import or convert documents. It really is the proverbial ‘daddy’ of the scriptwriting program world.
2. Studio Binder
Coming in hot on Final Draft’s heels, StudioBinder is a top screenwriting software that has the versatility that other programs lack because they constrain themselves to being desktop based.
If you want a great scriptwriting program that you can use on the go, or on your way to and from the day job, for example, then this is the one you need.
Technically, StudioBinder is an end-to-end production planning software system. It can do everything from schedule collabs with others to planning out your production in baby steps.
This script writing software is very popular, and where Final Draft is highly recommended for writing scripts overall, StudioBinder can be beneficial for managing your TV, film or stage production and making sure that everything is on course.
All time-served writers have used Celtx at one point in their careers. In the early days, there was Final Draft or there was Celtx, the free/cheaper version. Back then it was buggy and didn’t contain certain features, such as spellcheck. A decade later and they have seriously upped their game.
Celtx is a cloud-based screen writing software that works across a range of operating systems, comes with a desktop and mobile version, and has a fairly low subscription should you choose to extend your free demo.
It’s one of the best in the business, containing format choices, saving options, and all the necessary Word-style functions you need in the script writing process.
If you're looking for free screenplay software to get started writing and creating scripts, consider WriterDuet.
For writers looking to write and edit screenplays, this script writing software prides itself on being intuitive, modern and user-friendly.
This is browser-based scriptwriting software and ideal if as a scriptwriter you want to be involved in cloud-based collaborations. If you are partnering with contributors or collaborators around the world, this interface allows everyone to get on, and stay on, the same page.
5. Fade In
Fade In has risen through the ranks to become an alternative screenwriting software to Final Draft. Back in the early days of scriptwriting software, Final Draft ruled the scene. Fade In was created to be a stripped back, easier to use version.
It has the format that script editors everywhere love, will teach you the industry standards as you use it, and comes with an easily accessible interface.
As detailed on their website, the difference between the paid and free versions are “The free downloadable demo offers the same functionality as the full version, aside of real-time collaboration. It will also pop up an occasional purchase reminder after 10 pages, and includes a watermark on print/PDF output".
6. Movie Magic Screenwriter
If you want an all-inclusive, film-based scriptwriting tool, then the Movie Magic Screenwriter program is a great piece of software.
This top screenwriting software focuses on those who want to write for pop publications. If comic books, graphic novels, movie scripts and fanfiction are your thing, this is a great choice of script writing program.
This particular piece of kit has reportedly been used to type up more than a few Hollywood hits. It has an auto format feature that immediately arranges everything into industry standard content, so what you present is what the producer is used to seeing.
It even helps you to organize data and collate research, which is a nice touch. Unlike other organizational apps, though, the focus here is on your writing, not the features.
7. Highland 2
Although you can only use Highland 2 on Mac, this program makes scriptwriting easy. It has so many shortcuts that the keyboard-focused writer will love. It lets you cut, paste, copy, add, edit – and everything else you can do in a writing program… but it puts it into the right format, so you don’t have to.
They do a lot of research and are always releasing new updates, which is a good sign of a well-entrenched firm.
Notably, Highland 2 screenwriting software has a muted, toned-down feel to the user interface; all of which lets you really focus on making each word work.
8. Kit Scenarist
KIT Scenarist is a great script writing software program that all writers love, mainly because it’s free but also because of its research and development department.
They have around 3,000 active users at any given time as writers around the world are logging in. It features wide compatibility, a research collation station, translation to and from multiple languages, and even has a management system for organizing and tracking your characters.
You can upload or connect with the Cloud if you pay for the subscription fee, but it’s one of those programs that is so useful, once you try it you will probably buy it.
It gives you analytical feedback on your story, which is something you don’t find very often. And also, they have flipped an SEO strategy around to be used for scriptwriting… it’s a thoroughly clever move.
Trelby has gained international renown as a free, open sourced software system that helps every writer achieve their script formatting desires.
This free screenplay software has a great PDF generator that lets you export those finished files into an easy-to-access format. In addition, it has integrated collaboration capacities should you want to invite someone else to share the workload.
Other standout aspects of Trelby are the side-by-side document comparison options, the fully customizable interface options, and the low RAM requirements needed to operate it.
Trelby is fairly advanced for a free scriptwriting software program so be prepared to be surprised.
Scrivener is a writing tool that lets you collate all of your research for a script into one handy platform. It will take images, other scripts, notes, pieces of dialogue that you wrote on a post it 6 years ago and pinned to the fridge… anything you like. Once amalgamated, you have all your research in one place, and you can easily retrieve it.
With Scrivener, templates come as standard and formatting is customizable, although not fully.
It is best used by those fastidious plotters who want every detail of their characters and script to be explained. If your character’s motivation is what motivates you, Scrivener is the best script writing software for you.
ScriptBuilder is an innovative script writing app developed by a writer who wanted somewhere to collate all of his thoughts on one project, at once.
Thus, it contains sections for helping plot, ideas for making characters more realistic, advice on areas that aren’t structured very well, and all the rest of the functions you would expect from an Apple-worthy app.
Unfortunately, ScriptBuilder only comes with compatibility with iOS, making it out-of-reach for other users. On the upside, it’s a handy on-the-go tool that lets you keep track of all those ideas that occur at any time and any place.
Storyist is a fantastic screenwriter’s tool, particularly if you are involved in adaptation work. We all know that adaptations stray from their originals all too easily. The phrase “the book was better” is the pinnacle of this idea.
Storyist allows you to extract and review what you are doing, making it fantastically useful for anyone making a script from a manuscript, poem, or anything else.
Storyist contains a varied mix of templates that lets you play to pre-existing settings. This just takes one more thing to worry about off your list.
As a scriptwriter, you are always looking for formatting flaws. If you have this kind of template in your back pocket, you have more time to get on with the fun part – the writing.
Visual learners will love the Causality format. This user interface allows you to plot out your script via storyboarding. This makes for a fully visual experience, capable of communicating ideas out to your director, team or clients at a simple glance.
Causality will suggest links for you, spot flaws, and can even identify the odd plot hole… not that you have any…
The basic version is free, but you will have to pay to unlock the higher-end features. Nevertheless, Causality is favoured by artists and graphic designers who need to tell a story.
If you think in pictures instead of words, it might well be the script writing program you need.
14. Page 2 Stage
Similar to Final Draft, Page 2 Stage came early to the scriptwriting software race. Set up in 2004, they have had a long time to make the tweaks needed to create scriptwriting tool perfection.
Page 2 Stage is a free open-source script writing software program.
Available in 20 languages, this experienced program lets you edit everything you need to from one interface. It comes with auto-save (every writer’s best friend). There is a grammar check built in, you can view up to four pages at once, and it even lets you zoom in and out.
What more could you possibly want from a completely free, open-sourced screenwriting software program? There aren’t a lot of fancy extras, but it does the job it was created for, well, for free.
The Slugline software system for script writing is a thoroughly no-frills approach. There is no glitz and glamour with this writing program. It fades away all distractions, brings up a template centre screen that is already formatted, and encourages you to write.
There are two types of scriptwriters: those who respond well to a blank page by filling it with words, and those who freeze at the sight of a blank document. If you are the former, then Slugline is going to work wonders for your focus levels. If you are the latter, this is not the scriptwriting program for you.
Whether you're a new script writer or if you wanted to research more about which screenwriting software programs are available, I hope this list of 15 top free and paid script writing software has helped to inform your choice.
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