Buyer's Guides

The Scriptwriting Software Guide (2021 Edition)


Our scriptwriting software guide gives you the lowdown on available screenwriting programmes – so you can find the perfect partner for your writing process.

In this section, we’ll look at some of the big players that you should be aware of. But remember: it’s important to find the scriptwriting software that works for you and your needs – not to follow the crowd.

  • Celtx is another big player. It started as desktop software but now exists in the cloud. This means you can enjoy real-time collaboration on various parts of the pre-production and production processes, like screenwriting, budgeting and scheduling, keeping the whole team in sync. It’s a subscription-based model, starting at $15 per month.
  • Fade In entered the screenwriting software fray in 2010 but has quickly emerged as a popular choice. It’s considerably cheaper than other options with a one-time $79.95 fee, and it’s used by professional screenwriters like Rian Johnson (Star Wars) and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl).
  • Final Draft is widely considered the industry standard for budding screenwriters. This scriptwriting software emerged in the early days of computing, way back in 1990, and is firmly established as one of the best screenwriting software options around. It doesn’t come cheap, though. You’ll pay a one-time fee of $249.99 for the pleasure of using it.
  • Movie Magic Screenwriter has been a mainstay in the scriptwriting programmes lineup since appearing in 1996. It doesn’t come cheap, with a lifetime fee of $169, but it’s trusted by Hollywood pros like Manny Coto (24) and Paul Haggis (Crash).
  • WriterDuet offers apps for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android. If none of that works for you, you can use it online. Oh, and there’s a free trial. So it’s not surprising that this programme’s become such a success among scriptwriters. The only kicker is the price: it’ll set you back $89 per year, which can mount up if you’re in this game for the long haul.
  • Arc Studio Pro is modern, thoughtful screenwriting software which helps you stay focused, collaborate, and craft beautiful stories.
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Free software

If you’d rather keep hold of your hard-earned cash for now, there are plenty of free scriptwriting software options – many of them as full-featured as the paid alternatives.

  • Causality is free software that gives you a visual overview of your script, helping you to get a handle on complex stories.
  • DramaQueen is another solid free screenwriting app that lets you import and export in a variety of formats – from plain text to Final Draft files (.fdx).
  • Dubscript is a free Android app. It’s less feature-rich than other free screenwriting software but could be perfect for writing on the go.
  • Highland is free software exclusively for Mac users. It plays nice with other formats, including Final Draft files (.fdx), and was the first screenwriting app to include gender analysis – so you can see the breakdown of male and female characters in your script.
  • Page 2 Stage caters for Windows users. Formerly a paid app, it’s now available free to all, although its design looks a little dated.
  • Trelby boasts a simpler, more modern look for Windows and Linux users. While it’s simple, it still offers many of the features of paid scriptwriting options.

Trial software

It’s worth noting that some of the popular scriptwriting programmes offer free trials. These differ depending on the programme, so make sure you read the small print.

  • Celtx lets you create up to three projects with its free version (more info).
  • Fade In offers a full-featured demo, but it’ll give you a purchase reminder after 10 pages, and includes a watermark on print / PDF output (more info).
  • Final Draft offers a free demo with all the features for 30 days (more info).
  • Scrivener lets you try the product for 30 days of actual use. So if you only use it for three days in a month, you’ll have 27 days left (more info).

Pricing models

If you plan on using your scriptwriting software for a few years, it’s important to think about the long-term costs of whichever screenwriting program you go for.

With a one-time fee of $249.99, Final Draft looks like a pretty expensive option. However, if you pay £89 per year for WriterDuet, it’ll be more expensive than Final Draft when you use it for three years on the trot.

Think about how much you’re going to be using your scriptwriting software (do you just need it for a one-off stage play?) and factor that into your decision-making.

Beyond Scriptwriting

Most of the programmes mentioned in this post are pure scriptwriting software. If you’re looking for something that offers more bells and whistles for story development – like call sheets, storyboards, and shooting schedules – then you might want to investigate Celtx and StudioBinder. Both offer different pricing models depending on which features you need.

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Scriptwriting Software Directory

Writing and story development app that gives a visual overview of your work
Mac Windows Free (limited) Paid
Pre-production software for creating and organising media projects
Mac Web based iOS Android Paid
Writing software for scriptwriters and novelists
Mac Windows Linux Free
Simple software for beginning screenwriters
Android Free
Multi-platform, feature-rich software for screenwriters
Mac Windows iOS Android Free trial Paid
The leading name in screenwriting software
Mac Windows iOS Free trial
Slick, attractive Mac app for screenwriters and novelists
Mac Free (limited) Paid
Multi-platform screenwriting software
Mac Windows iOS Android Paid
Retro-looking screenwriting software that doesn't offer support
Windows Free
Polished writing app for all kinds of writers
Mac Windows iOS Free trial Paid
Minimalist screenwriting app minus the bells and whistles
Mac iOS Free trial Paid
Powerful, attractive screenwriting app
Mac iOS Free trial Paid
Screen shot 2019 03 27 at 16.51.06
Video, photo, TV and film production management software
Web based Free (limited) Paid
Elegant, multi-platform, feature-rich screenwriting programme
Windows Linux Free
Collaborative scriptwriting software with a hefty price tag
Mac Windows Web based iOS Android

Find Your Perfect Writing Partner

Before you dive in and splash out for some expensive software, are you sure you need it? Lots of professional screenwriters start out writing in a basic word processor – like Google Docs or Microsoft Word – to test the water.

If you want a script format that you can import to another programme at a later date, check out Fountain. It’s free, open-source, plain text markup language for screenwriting. And it’s also the basis for apps like Fade In, Highland, and Slugline.

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