Alright, let’s get the cameras rolling! If you’re a screenwriter or filmmaker, you know snagging the right screenwriting software is a total game-changer. It’s like having an extra set of hands helping you outline and piece together your story, making the whole creative gig a lot smoother.
But here’s the real talk—most of the scriptwriting software programs out there are not designed or helpful for everyone! In fact, some might just have you running back to the good old pen and paper (I kid!)!
Celtx is my overall top choice for screenwriting software.
It’s easy to use, formats your script perfectly, is cloud-based, and includes many premium features like story beat index cards and character lists!
Arc Studio Pro
Arc Studio Pro is our runner-up for screenwriting software.
It doesn’t have quite as many features as Celtx, but the software is more affordable.
Trelby is an excellent option for those who need a free screenwriting software program.
It is a bare-bones program and lacks many of the story structure features and character lists of other programs.
SudoWrite is a new storytelling-focused AI writing assistant.
It can assist you with creating characters, settings, story plots, and even dialogue! The AI gives you feedback on your creative stories.
ProWriting Aid is a great choice to add to your screenwriting software stack.
While it will not format your screenplay, it is specifically designed to check your story’s spelling, grammar, tone, and style!
As a screenwriter and indie filmmaker myself, I’ve tried many different screenwriting software programs over the years. Sometimes I’ve needed to use the screenplay software that a film production uses already (if I’ve been hired to work on an existing script), and other times I’ve gotten to choose for myself.
Based on these experiences, this article will take a look at the nine best screenwriting software programs in 2023. I’ll review each program and explain why it made the list.
Whether you’re just starting out in the scriptwriting world or have been at it for ages, come along, and let’s find that perfect software to get your stories rolling!
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- Arc Studio Pro
- Final Draft
- MovieMagic Screenwriter
1. Celtx – Best Screenwriting Software Overall
Celtx is my top choice for the best screenwriting software. It has a great free plan, makes your scripts look professional, and allows you to go from storyboard to script to call sheets and production management in one software program!
Celtx is a collaborative screenwriting software program that has been around for over 15 years. Celtx has several features that make it ideal for writing screenplays, including the ability to format text quickly, create and navigate through outlines, and add images and other media. It is cloud-based and allows for lots of collaboration among scriptwriters.
If you're looking for a powerful and easy-to-use screenwriting tool, Celtx is a great option. Here's why:
- Streamlines Your Workflow: With automatic formatting and revision tracking, Celtx's screenwriting app simplifies the screenwriting process. You can easily keep track of changes and revisions, making the writing process smoother and more efficient.
- Ensures Accessibility: Whether you're a Windows, Mac, or Linux user, Celtx has got you covered. Its multi-platform availability ensures you can always access your work, no matter where you are or what device you're using.
- Offers Flexibility in File Formats: The ability to download your scripts in multiple file formats provides flexibility and convenience.
- Promotes Collaboration: Celtx isn't just a screenwriting software; it's a collaborative platform. It allows you to track changes, making co-writing and revising scripts with partners an easy and straightforward process.
- Provides Value for Money: With affordable pricing and a free trial period, Celtx offers great value. You can test it to ensure it's the right fit for you and then enjoy its benefits at a cost-effective price.
The free (Writer) plan of Celtx now offers access to all project types (film scripts, TV scripts, video games, comic books, and stage plays). It comes with online Script Editors with auto-formating, making it easier and more convenient for users to write professionally formatted scripts.
Celtx is less than $15 per month and has a free trial period, so you can try it before you pay monthly. There is even an option to pay for a whole year and get up to three months free!
If you're looking for a top-notch screenwriting tool, Celtx is definitely worth checking out. Its extensive feature set and affordable price tag make it the perfect tool for any screenwriter in the entertainment industry.
2. Arc Studio Pro - Best Budget Version
Arc Studio Pro is a great program if you are on a strict budget but want to write a well-formatted script. It has a forever-free version, or you can pay a small fee for more features.
Arc Studio Pro has everything you need to create standout scripts—from tools for in-depth character development and storyboarding to automatic formatting. Dive right in with various helpful templates and enjoy its user-friendly interface. And the best part? It's reasonably priced. Arc Studio Pro is your go-to for bringing stories to life, particularly if you're on a budget!
This software is the perfect tool for screenwriters who want to get the most out of their work. Here are just a few of its top features:
- Flexible screenplay format: Arc Studio Pro allows you to write in any standard screenplay format, making switching between different software programs easy.
- Real-time collaboration: With it, you can invite other professional screenwriters to work on your script in real time. This makes it easy to get feedback and make changes on the fly.
- Built-in note taking: Arc Studio Pro includes a built-in notes tool to keep track of ideas and inspirations as you write.
- Powerful story development tools: Arc Studio Pro includes everything you need to develop your story, from the premise and character development to scene planning and outline creation.
- Export to PDF: When you're finished writing, you can easily export your screenplay to PDF so it's ready to send to agents or producers.
Arc Studio Pro is highly affordable. It even has a great free option! The plans include the following:
Free: Create up to two screenplays with the free version of Arc Studio Pro. Know that your scripts will be watermarked when you export them as PDFs and that collaboration features are disabled with the free version.
$69/year "Essentials" Plan: Includes unlimited scripts, advanced formatting, and the ability to use the program as a desktop or iPhone/iPad app.
$99/year "Pro" Plan: Includes all of the features of the Essentials plan, plus collaborative screenwriting tools, custom formats, and more!
Arc Studio recently added an AI research assistant to its software, so you can ask it questions and get ideas while you work on your script! They also make it easier to navigate among different sections of the site (i.e., your script, outline, and plot board), and they improved the collaboration features.
Arc Studio Pro Pros
Arc Studio Pro Cons
For screenwriters, the right software is crucial. Arc Studio Pro stands out for its user-friendly interface, comprehensive screenwriting tools, and affordability. It's an excellent choice for bringing any story to life on the big screen without straining your budget!
3. SudoWrite - Best AI Script Writing Assistant
Sudowrite is great for creative writers who want to try using AI to help them with aspects of the screenwriting process. While it can't write a whole script for you, it can help with outlining and brainstorming ideas, plot points, and characters.
SudoWrite is the perfect AI writing assistant and AI script generator for screenwriters looking to improve their productivity and creativity. With its powerful Artificial Intelligence engine and easy-to-use interface, SudoWrite can help enhance your workflow by providing expert-level formatting, revision tracking tools, and personalized content in a fraction of the time it would take to create it yourself.
- Unleash Your Creativity with AI: Sudowrite's powerful AI engine isn't just a tool, it's a creative partner. It expands your initial ideas, helping you explore new narrative paths and deepen your storytelling.
- Easy to Use, Easy to Love: Sudowrite's intuitive user interface makes it quick and efficient. You can spend less time figuring out how to use the software and more time doing what you love: writing.
- A Second Pair of Eyes on Your Work: Sudowrite acts as a "beta reader," providing feedback on your stories and screenplays. It's like having a trusted friend always ready to give constructive criticism and help you improve your storytelling and writing skills.
- Try Before You Buy: Not sure if you'll like using an AI writing assistant? No problem! They offer a free trial period to test the basic version before committing to a subscription.
- Recent Updates (2023): A great new feature called "Story Engine" completely rethinks the writing process. It's designed to guide you from an initial idea to a fully fleshed-out screenplay, story, or novel in just a few days.
Sudowrite has recently updated its platform with improvements to the Story Engine and outlining options. The changes, inspired by user feedback, offer detailed Chapter Beats, better character recognition, faster generation, and a variety of outline styles (i.e., "hero's journey," "romance").
SudoWrite has three pricing levels:
Hobby & Student: $10 per month
Professional: $20 per month
Max: $100 per month
SudoWrite is a great AI writing assistant for screenwriters. While it certainly can't write a whole script for you, it can help give you ideas for the story, plot points, characters, settings, and even dialogue. SudoWrite also acts as a "beta reader" for your creative works and can give feedback on your screenplays.
If you haven't used an AI writer before, it's worth giving their free trial a try to see if you like using it!
4. Trelby - Best Open-Source Screenwriting Software
Trelby is a free, open-source screenwriting software program. It looks a little dated, but it does the job. However, I think one of the free options listed above is likely a better option for most people.
|Best For||People who appreciate open-source software|
Trelby is a free, open-source screenwriting program that makes writing screenplays easy. It's an intuitive and user-friendly platform that lets you create scripts efficiently.
Trelby has robust features, including auto-complete, find and replace, formatting options, revision tracking, scene numbers, character navigation, PDF generation, customized templates, and more.
- Effortlessly Edit Your Script: Search and replace words, phrases, or large sections in a snap, saving you time and effort.
- Professional-Looking Scripts Every Time: With easy formatting options, make your script look polished and adhere to industry standards effortlessly.
- Never Lose Your Progress: With the revision tracking feature, confidently navigate different script versions, comparing and reverting when needed.
- Navigate Characters Like a Pro: Jump to desired script sections in a breeze by selecting characters from a handy sidebar list.
- Share and Print with No Fuss: Turn your script into a neat PDF in seconds, ready for sharing or printing.
- Latest Updates (Version 2.2): Trelby added "undo" and "redo" capabilities, better-looking tabs, more font choices, and import support for Fade In Pro and Adobe Story.
Trelby is open-source and free for anyone to use!
Trelby is a top pick for screenwriters seeking a free and straightforward tool. Packed with versatile features, adaptable templates, and the ability to convert scripts to PDF quickly, it's ideal for everything from short films to grand epics.
5. ProWriting Aid - Best Grammar, Style and Tone Checker
ProWriting Aid is a great program to use alongside screenwriting software. It is great for checking the tone of your script, as well as your spelling and grammar. It's very useful for analyzing all kinds of writing!
ProWriting Aid is a comprehensive writing support tool designed specifically for fiction writers. It offers writers an array of features to help them improve their work and make the creative process faster and easier. With its AI-powered suggestions, ProWritingAid can check grammar, spelling, clarity, and consistency and offer analysis of characters, plot points, and scene structure.
- Error-Free and Professional Writing: AI-powered suggestions ensure your script is polished, error-free, and professionally written, allowing your unique storytelling voice to shine through.
- Real-Time Storytelling Analysis: Immediate feedback on characters, plot points, and scene structure helps you create engaging narratives with strong character development and well-paced plots.
- Monitor Your Progress: Comprehensive dashboards provide a clear view of your writing journey, encouraging consistent progress and helping you stay focused and motivated.
- Streamlined Editing Process: Excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation checking with auto-corrected suggestions save you valuable time on editing, allowing more focus on creative brainstorming and story development.
The Premium version of ProWritingAid now includes a Tone Detector - perfect for checking how others will feel about your written work! It also now checks for overused words - with the Premium version, you can even give it specific words you'd like it to check for in your writing.
ProWriting Aid Free:
- Gives you access to 19 writing reports
- Ability to edit 500 words at a time
- Use online only
- No word limit
- Available on desktop computers
- Integrate with MS Word Processor, Google Docs, Chrome, and Scrivener
- $30 per month if you pay monthly, or only $10 per month if you pay yearly!
ProWriting Aid is a great AI-powered writing assistant for screenwriters who want to have a polished and spelling/grammar-error-free script! It gives excellent suggestions for clarity, tone, and style for fiction writers.
6. Final Draft - Most Popular with Professionals
Final Draft stands out as the go-to industry standard software for screenwriting in the entertainment industry. With a comprehensive set of features, it offers everything from templates and automatic formatting to advanced story tools and collaboration capabilities.
Used by professionals to craft award-winning films and TV shows, Final Draft ensures your screenplay aligns with industry formats and offers unique touches like integrating audio elements. Its robust remote collaboration tools further make it a favorite for writers looking to brainstorm and work together from afar.
- Screenwriting templates and tools for professional writers
- Powerful collaboration features for multiple screenwriters on a project
- Finishing touches allow you to add audio and other elements to your script
- Industry-standard format for professionals (used by 95% of professional filmmakers)
- Track changes within your screenplay with ease
- Has a character name generator and story map tool - so helpful for newer screenwriters!
Final Draft last released an update in early 2021 - Version 12 of its software. They made improvements to their 'beat board' for easy story organization, and added beat flow lines, an Outline Editor, and adjustable goal ranges to help you achieve your screenplay-writing dreams!
Final Draft is $199 for new customers. If you have an older version of Final Draft, it is $79.99 to upgrade to the newest version.
Final Draft Pros
Final Draft Cons
Final Draft is the industry standard for a reason. It's packed with advanced features that make screenwriting easier, faster, and more professional. The software includes templates for various types of scripts, such as movies, TV shows, and stageplays. It also features an outline view, allowing writers to see their story's structure at a glance.
In addition, Final Draft can automatically format scripts to industry standards, making sending them to agents and producers easier. Overall, Final Draft is an essential tool for any serious screenwriter.
7. Scrivener - Good to Help You Organize Your Story
Our second screenwriting program on the list is Scrivener. Scrivener is a word-processing program that is designed specifically for writers!
Scrivener has many features that make it ideal for writing screenplays, including the ability to easily format text, create and navigate through outlines, and add images and other media.
Scrivener allows users to view their work in several ways, including as a traditional screenplay or storyboard. This makes it easy to see the flow of the story and make changes as needed. In addition, Scrivener can export scripts in various formats, making it easy to share work with others or get it into the hands of Hollywood professionals.
- Designed specifically for writers
- Easy to format text, create and navigate outlines, add images and media
- It can be used to export scripts in a variety of formats
- Scrivener lets you break your script down into scenes so you can easily rearrange and restructure your story as you write
- Scrivener's Corkboard feature allows you to visually organize your scenes and ideas so that you can see the structure of your screenplay at a glance
- Scrivener's built-in research tools make it easy to find the information you need to bring your screenplay to life
- Scrivener's outlines and templates help you to format your script correctly and stay on track as you write.
- Is a specialized tool for novel writing as well as screenwriting.
Scrivener is $49 for either Mac or PC (or $19.99 for iOS). They also have a free trial that is good for 30 days.
The Scrivener software is updated every few months. They are currently on Version 3, which was originally released in 2021. The latest updates have improved the text-to-speech feature, making it more adjustable, as well as fixing a few bugs in the software.
Scrivener is a powerful screenwriting tool that helps you manage your ideas and get your script written quickly and efficiently. If you're looking for a screenwriting tool that will help you write a great screenplay, Scrivener is worth checking out.
8. Squibler - Good For Those Who Write Both Novels and Scripts
Squibler is a screenwriting program that bills itself as “the easiest way to write a screenplay.” The software has some features designed to make the writing process more accessible, including an interactive outline tool and the ability to share work with others.
- The software is designed to be easy to use.
- Has screenwriting templates for various genres (adventure, comedy, action, etc.)
- Helps you format your screenplay effortlessly
- Has desktop and cloud versions (Final Draft is desktop only)
- Co-writers have an easier time writing a script together via the cloud-based software version of Squibler
Squibler has a 14-day free trial. After that, it is $9.99 per month. Squibler is a very affordable screenwriting software!
Squibler is a powerful and versatile screenwriting software that offers many features and tools to help you write your next great screenplay. With Squibler, you can easily create and manage characters, locations, and scenes and track storylines and subplots. Additionally, Squibler's storyboarding feature is invaluable for visualizing your script and bringing it to life.
Whether you're a seasoned screenwriter or just starting out, Squibler is the perfect tool for helping you bring your story to the big screen.
If you're looking for a screenwriting software option that's both professional and easy to use, then StudioBinder is worth looking into.
If you're looking for a great tool to help you write a screenplay, look no further than StudioBinder. Here's why:
- StudioBinder is used by professional writers and filmmakers worldwide, so you know it's a trusted and reliable tool.
- It's easy to use and navigate, so you'll be able to get started writing your screenplay right away.
- Many features and resources are available, so you can customize your experience and find exactly what you need to write the best possible screenplay.
- We love the storyboard feature for planning movie scenes!
StudioBinder is $29 per month, so it is one of the pricier options for indie screenwriters.
StudioBinder software makes it simple to format your script according to industry standards and also provides a wide range of features that make the writing process more efficient and streamlined. For example, the software includes tools for organizing your research and notes and a built-in storyboard function that makes it easy to visualize and plan your scenes.
StudioBinder is also constantly expanding its functionality, with recent additions including a calendar for film and television productions and a budgeting tool. All in all, it's an excellent choice for any screenwriter who wants to get the most out of their work.
10. Movie Magic Screenwriter - Best Buy-It-Once Software
As any screenwriter knows, having the right tools can make all the difference in creating a great screenplay. Movie Magic Screenwriter is a popular software choice for many writers.
Here are just a few of the reasons why Movie Magic Screenwriter is fantastic for writing a screenplay:
- The software is very user-friendly, and even those without prior experience can quickly learn how to use it.
- The built-in formatting templates ensure that your screenplay will always meet industry standards.
- The software includes many features, making it easy to customize your workflow.
- Customer support is outstanding, and you can always get help if you encounter any problems.
- The software is designed to be used by people who have never written a screenplay before, so it's very user-friendly.
- It includes a storyboard feature that allows you to map out your story visually and an outlining tool that helps you keep track of your characters and plot points.
The regular price of the Movie Magic Screenwriting software is $249.95, but they sometimes have specials on the software. There are three activations per purchase included in the price. This is a buy-it-once type of software rather than a monthly subscription, which appeals to many screenwriters.
Movie Magic Pros
Movie Magic Cons
Movie Magic Screenwriter is a popular software program that offers users a wide range of features. One thing that differentiates it from other similar programs is its focus on helping writers format their scripts according to industry standards.
This can be a valuable asset for writers new to the business who want to ensure their scripts are as professional as possible. In addition, Movie Magic Screenwriter also offers several other helpful features, such as story development tools and character profiles.
11. Fade-In - Best Budget Buy-It-Once Screenwriting Software
Fade In may be the right screenwriting software for you! With a powerful feature set and an intuitive user interface, creating professional-quality scripts with Fade In is easy. It also supports industry-standard script formatting, revision tracking, collaboration tools, and more. Plus, you can try out the basic version for free to see if it's right for your needs before committing to a paid subscription. With its great value and capabilities, Fade In is a top choice for experienced and aspiring screenwriters.
- Comprehensive support for industry-standard script formatting
- Intuitive user interface and robust feature set
- Revision tracking and collaboration tools
- PDF generation capabilities
- Option to try out the basic version for free before committing to a paid subscription
- A variety of templates are available
Fade In has a great free trial option. If you love the software, you can buy a copy for just $79.99. This includes all future updates to the program as well!
Fade In is the perfect screenwriting software for experienced and aspiring screenwriters alike. With industry-standard formatting, powerful features, intuitive user interface, revision tracking tools, and the ability to try out the basic version for free before committing to a paid subscription, Fade In offers unbeatable value for any screenwriter.
Screenwriting software is software designed explicitly to write screenplays. It can be used to format the screenplay to industry standards and add Slug lines, action descriptions, and character motivations.
This software can also help you collaborate with other writers, track changes, and manage revisions. In addition, many screenwriting software programs have a built-in storyboard feature that allows writers to visualize the film or TV show they are creating.
All screenwriting software programs will help writers create well-formatted screenplays ready for submission to agents, industry professionals, and film studios. Screenwriting software is an essential tool for any aspiring screenwriter!
Why Use Dedicated Screenwriting Software?
- Formatting: The film industry is particular about how scripts are presented. Dedicated screenwriting software ensures that your script automatically aligns with the industry-standard layout, from margins to spacing. You can focus on your story, knowing it looks professional and adheres to the expected standards for a script.
- Scene Navigation: Whether you're sketching out the structure of your story or writing a specific scene, having great navigation tools is invaluable! Screenwriting software often comes equipped with intuitive features to help you effortlessly jump between acts and scenes.
- Character Database: As you breathe life into many characters, it's super important to keep track of their quirks, backstories, and relationships. Dedicated software often includes a character database which allows you to store, manage, and reference character details.
- Dialogue Focus: Dialogue drives the narrative in screenplays. With features that spotlight dialogue sequences, screenwriting software lets you visualize exchanges more clearly, ensuring that your characters' conversations are engaging and authentic, and progress the story in a realistic way.
- Revision Tracking: Writing is rewriting, especially in screenwriting! With built-in revision tracking tools, you can easily monitor changes, compare different draft versions, and revert edits when needed. It's like having a time machine for your script's evolution.
- Export/Import: Your script will likely need to be shared, reviewed, and perhaps even presented. With versatile import/export capabilities, screenwriting software ensures your work is accessible across different platforms, be it in PDF form for a producer or a Word document for a co-writer.
- Collaboration: Filmmaking is a team effort, and scripts often benefit from multiple eyes and inputs. Some screenwriting tools come with collaborative features that allow multiple people to co-write, comment, suggest changes, and refine the script together. It bridges the gap between isolated writing and collaborative creation.
Neil Chase with award for screenwriting
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best free screenwriting software?
Many types of screenwriting software are available, and the best one for you will depend on your needs and budget. If you are looking for a free version of a dedicated screenwriting software program, then Trelby is a great option. Trelby is known for its user-friendly interface and powerful screenplay formatting features. It also has a built-in beat board to help you keep track of your story's structure. Arc Studio Pro also has a free version, with limited features.
What is the best screenwriting software for Macs?
There are a few different options for script-writing software available for Mac users. If you want to start writing, one of the most popular is Final Draft, which offers a wide range of features and an intuitive interface. Alternatively, MovieMagic Screenwriter is another popular option, known for its ability to format scripts automatically.
What is the best screenwriting software for beginners?
Regarding screenwriting software options, a few different programs are popular among beginners. One popular option is Final Draft, a paid program widely used in the industry. Another screenwriting software option is Trelby, an excellent free, open-source screenwriting software program for those just starting out writing scripts. My favorite software option for beginners, though, is Celtx.
What screenwriting software does Hollywood use?
Final Draft is Hollywood's most popular screenwriting software. Not only does it have all the features you need to write a great script, but it's also easy to use and quite affordable. Plus, it has a built-in script editor to make changes to your script on the fly. However, my personal favorite is Celtx, which I think is the software for you if you're serious about screenwriting. It has better features than Final Draft, in my opinion!
Celtx vs Final Draft
When I think about screenwriting software, two clear leaders are Celtx
and Final Draft. Both programs offer a powerful set of features, but they approach screenwriting differently.
Celtx is more focused on collaboration, offering tools that make it easy for writers to work together on a script. Final Draft, on the other hand, is designed for solo writers who want a more traditional screenwriting experience.
In terms of features, Celtx and Final Draft are fairly evenly matched. However, Celtx has a slight edge when it comes to price, as it offers a low-cost monthly payment option that includes all of the features needed for screenwriters. Final Draft, on the other hand, has a higher-cost one-time purchase fee.
Celtx vs Studiobinder
Two popular types of screenwriting software are Celtx and Studiobinder. Both of these programs offer a variety of features that can be beneficial for screenwriters. Celtx is a lower monthly cost program that offers a wide range of features, including the ability to collaborate with other writers and the ability to format scripts according to industry standards. Studiobinder is a more expensive option that offers more advanced features, such as the ability to create storyboards and schedules.
The best screenwriting software programs can help you write your screenplay faster and with fewer errors.
Any of these programs should do the trick if you’re looking for a program to help you focus on your writing and make the process easier.
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