If you want to break into the movie industry anywhere, you need to use the right software to format your script. This applies to both amateur storytellers and professional screenwriters.
Screenwriting software isn't cheap, however. And you don't want to waste money buying the wrong app.
To help you out, we've found the best screenwriting apps for Windows and Mac. Each of these are great choices to start your next script project.
1. Final Draft: The industry standard software
Final Draft is the industry standard script software. It is used by 95% of film and television productions, including the BBC, Netflix, Hulu, and Disney. If you're a professional screenwriter, most people expect you to use Final Draft.
But that expectation drives the price up; Final Draft is one of the most expensive script writing apps on this list. But it does deliver that price with a number of impressive features.
Choose from over 300 templates including scripts, TV plays, comics, plays, and more. Use virtual brainstorms to beat up your story. Then get the words on the page with Final Draft's innovative SmartType, Speech to Script and Alternate Dialogue features.
Learn how to analyze and understand films before you write your script to make sure it is as professional as possible.
Download: Final Draft for Windows | macOS ($ 249.99, free trial available)
Use this award-winning software to write your screenplay, play, television play, musical, comic, or novel. It's easy to use and has brainstorming and outline tools, plus 100+ templates to get you started writing as quickly as possible.
With text-to-speech you can hear your script read aloud. Auto backup means you no longer have to worry about losing your job. IPartner allows you to collaborate with your writing partner online no matter how far apart you are.
Movie Magic Screenwriter has everything you need to get from the story idea to the specification to the script. If for some reason you don't like Final Draft, this is a highly regarded alternative.
Download: Movie Magic Screenwriter for Windows | macOS ($ 249.95, free trial available)
3. WriterDuet: Cloud-based, collaborative scriptwriting
WriterDuet was designed for collaboration. Enjoy real-time co-writing, intuitive commenting, and in-app text and video chatting while working remotely with a writing partner.
As a cloud-based script software, you can access your WriterDuet projects anywhere via an internet connection, on your desktop or on your mobile phone. Use it for everything from outline to rewrite, with useful tools like scene cards, tagging, and effortless formatting.
WriterDuet uses a subscription-based pricing model with more features at higher levels. But you can also start by writing your first three scripts for free, or sign up for WriterSolo, WriterDuet's non-cloud-based cousin.
Visit the WriterDuet website for a premium subscription starting at $ 7.99 / month.
4. Fade in: Cross-platform and affordable
Despite its long official name, Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software is an optimized app that still manages to offer all the functions a professional writer could need.
Use it to write anything from a movie to a radio play to a video game. Browsing through pages is easy with Fade In's auto-complete. And when it comes to rewriting, Dialogue Tuner lets you view and optimize all of a single character's dialog in one place.
Fade In gives you these professional tools at a much cheaper price than Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter, and even includes free updates. It's also available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and iPadOS.
Download: Show professional script software for Windows | macOS ($ 79.95, free trial available)
5. Celtx: The complete pre-production suite
With Celtx you can work through your script from pre-production to recording. Use this pre-production suite to beat up the story on flashcards, write the script, run breakdown reports, make recording lists, and print a script.
By making the film yourself, you'll find out how to make video footage more cinematic.
Celtx reflects industry-standard formats throughout the process. You can even collaborate with your team by editing multiple documents at the same time or editing a script together in real time.
Because Celtx is another cloud-based app, it's available anywhere on any device. You don't even have to worry about losing your documents as Celtx automatically creates secure backups for you.
Get started with Celtx for free or sign up for a premium subscription to unlock more features and unlimited projects.
Visit the Celtx website for a premium scriptwriting subscription starting at $ 15 per month.
6. Highland: Write scripts for free on a Mac
Highland was developed by John August, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish and Aladdin. He is also co-host of the script podcast "Scriptnotes". And you can use Highland to work on anything from a script to a novel to a school newspaper.
Unlike other screenwriting apps that use the Tab and Enter keys to toggle between character names, dialogues, and action lines, Highland recognizes what you're trying to type and automatically formats your writing.
Use the Navigator sidebar to see your script at a glance and jump to the section you need to work on next. Then turn on revision mode to see changes in different colors.
Highland is only available for macOS. However, you can download it and write professional scripts for free. A premium upgrade is available for additional functions.
Download: Highland for macOS (Free premium version available)
7. Trelby: Write scripts for free on Windows
Trelby is fast, easy, and clean scriptwriting software that can be used to format professional-quality scripts. Best of all, it's completely free and works on both Windows and Linux computers. Unfortunately, Trelby is not available for Mac.
Choose from Design View or What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) mode when using autocomplete, spell checking, and smart formatting to finalize your script.
If you're struggling to find character names, you can access Trelby's database of over 200,000 names from around the world for inspiration.
And after you've completed your first draft, use the scene, location, character, and dialogue reports to inform the next rewrite. You can even compare script versions for a quick overview of any changes.
Download: Trelby for Windows (free)
And if you know how to format a script …
Any of the above scripting apps make it easy to write a script in the correct format. However, if you don't mind doing a little work yourself, you can write your script in Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs instead. You just need to know how to format a script first.
Of course, these apps don't have all of the features you get with industry-standard script software, but they're a great way to get started without having to spend any money.
How to format a script in Word, Pages, and Google Docs
Studio managers won't read your script if it's in the wrong format. Most writers spend hundreds of dollars on software to make sure their script is formatted correctly.
About the author
(148 articles published)
Dan writes tutorials and troubleshooting guides to help people get the most out of their technology. Before becoming a writer, he earned a BSc in audio technology, oversaw repairs at an Apple store, and even taught English in China.
More from Dan Helyer
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