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14 Best Screenwriting Software (Free And Paid) For Screenplay Writers in 2021

by Tracy Jackson

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best screenwriting software

Writing screenplays is no longer a distant dream. As a screenwriter, all you need is the best screenwriting software to ensure that your writing process is smooth and your final production is top-notch.

So, how do you find the best screenwriting software tools?

If you’re just starting your career, how do you get script writing software within your budget?

In this post, I will talk about what screenplay software is, what are the benefits of using professional screenwriting software, and which are the best screenwriting software available today.

I will also talk about the features you need to look for when you are choosing script writing software.

So without wasting much time, let’s begin!

Disclaimer: If you buy something using the links in this article, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Know that I only promote stuff that I use and trust for the sake of my readers and the reputation of this site.

AdvertisementsBest Screenwriting Software

1. Celtx

2. Fade In

3. Final Draft

4. Highland 2

5. KIT Scenarist

6. Movie Magic Screenwriter

7. Page 2 Stage

Advertisements8. Scrivener

9. Slugline

Advertisements10. Squibler

11. Storyist

12. Studio Binder

Advertisements13. Trelby

14. Writer Duet

What Is Screenwriting Software?

Before we see the best screenwriting software, let’s first briefly take a look at what script writing software actually is.

Screenplay software (or screen writing software) is a tool that helps screenplay writers write professional screenplays and scripts without much hassle.

Unlike a word processor like Microsoft Word, screenplay software has specialized tools that help with the various aspects of the screenwriting process.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Screenwriting Software?

There are many benefits of using the best screenwriting software to write scripts.

Here are some of the advantages of using screenwriting software tools:

  • Spell check and grammar corrections to make the writing process smooth
  • Premade screenwriting templates
  • Simple and intuitive user interface
  • Drag-and-drop screenplay builder
  • Real-time collaboration with other multiple writers and users
  • Quick access to scenes and other resources
  • Ability to add notes or comments
  • Story maps
  • Ability to export and import scripts
  • Cloud-based software integration with third-party apps
  • Compatibility and synchronization with multiple devices

Best Screenwriting Software

Now that we’ve seen the basic features of industry-standard screenwriting software, let’s look at some of the best screenplay writing tools that will help you through your screenwriting process.

Advertisements1. Celtx

Best screenwriting software -  Celtx

Celtx is a cloud-based script writing software that has more than 6 million users worldwide. It is one of the best screenwriting software you could invest in as a screenwriter.

Celtx is designed for large teams with multiple users who would like to collaborate and access files from one source. This screenplay software has an incredibly user-friendly and intuitive interface that helps newbies who want a simple platform to start writing.

Key Features

  • Easy collaboration – multiple users can access and work on documents in multiple file formats simultaneously.
  • Fully featured modules that will guide you through the production process.
  • Cloud-based screenwriting tool – automatic backups, access from multiple devices, and security features.
  • Scriptwriting editors
  • Storyboarding modules
  • Call sheets

With advanced features and a free demo version (14 days demo), Celtx is a great choice if you are just starting out.

Pricing

Celtx pricing starts at $7.50 per month for 1 user and goes up depending on the features you want and the number of users that will use the platform.

2. Fade In

Fade In

Fade In is one of the most popular screenwriting software tools used by writers in various industries such as motion pictures, video games, television, and radio.

The script writing software offers support for multiple languages and has tools for different tasks such as outlining, organizing, and navigating.

Key Features

  • Extensive formatting capabilities
  • Autocomplete typing
  • Collaboration
  • Image support
  • Organization and navigation
  • Support for multiple file formats
  • Revisions
  • Breakdowns, reports, and tagging
  • Cloud-based software

The screenplay software also has screenwriting apps that allow users to access files from their mobiles.

Pricing

You get all of Fade In’s features for a one-time payment of $79.95. They also offer a free trial version.

3. Final Draft

Final Draft

Final Draft is one of the best screenwriting software used by 95% of film and television productions. This script writing software has won multiple awards, including the Primetime Emmy Engineering Award, and is used by big names like Netflix, Paramount, and Pixar.

Final Draft has a huge list of industry-standard features, making it suitable for a wide variety of writers no matter what field they may be in.

Key Features

  • Final Draft paginates your script to industry formats
  • Over 300 templates for screenplays, teleplays, comics, and stage plays
  • Brainstorming and visualization tools
  • Outlining, reporting, and tagging tools
  • Enhanced Beat Board for visual organization
  • Outline Editor for high-level outlining
  • ScriptNotes to add comments

This screenplay software has an easy-to-use interface with real-time collaboration and other advanced screenwriting tools for script writers.

Pricing

Final Draft starts at $199.99 for a full license. It also offers a 60-Day trial.

4. Highland 2

Highland 2

Highland 2 is professional screenwriting software that is currently available only for mac users. It has a simple user interface that is easy to navigate.

This script writing software offers professional screenwriters high customizability and has one of the best screenwriting apps.

Key Features

  • The Navigator – allows you to drag and drop scenes and sections
  • The Bin – store bits of text you want to keep handy while you write
  • Live Margins – the screenplay software automatically detects the need for formatting changes and applies them.
  • Gender Analysis – the screenwriting tool allows you to track the gender dialogue break up in your screenplay

With Highland, you will not have to worry too much about margins and formatting. This means you can focus entirely on the writing.

Pricing

Highland 2 has a free version that offers all the basic features. The paid version (Highland 2 Pro) is priced at $49.99 and offers users all the features.

5. KIT Scenarist

KIT Scenarist - Home | Facebook

KIT Scenarist is one of the best screenwriting software to use. This script writing software is free and open-source, allowing a great deal of customization for screenwriters.

KIT Scenarist is an industry-standard screenplay software that is used by over 10,000 writers around the world. It provides regular updates to users each month.

Key Features

  • Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android versions
  • The research module allows you to gather all research material in one place and manage lists of characters and locations
  • The card module gives you a high-level view of your story development
  • Statistics and detailed reports
  • Rich formatting tool with screen editor so you can start writing without distractions
  • Script export in multiple formats

Pricing

KIT Scenarist is a free, open-source screenwriting software available on the internet. However, to use the cloud-based services, you will need to pay a monthly fee after a 30-day trial.

6. Movie Magic Screenwriter

Movie Magic Screenwriter

Movie Magic Screenwriter has been around for decades and has won many awards. This is one of the best screenwriting software that has all the basic features a screenwriter can think of in one platform.

Movie Magic Screenwriter offers a manual, sample documents, and a pdf production guide to helps new users get acquainted with the script writing software easily.

Key Features

  • Award-winning software for writing screenplays, musicals, novels, short stories, and more
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Powerful production tools
  • Over 100 templates and tools for brainstorming, outlining, writing, and rewriting screenplays and scripts
  • Easy revision tracking
  • Full production tracking reports and breakdown reports
  • Script tagging for exporting into Movie Magic Scheduling & others
  • NaviDoc technology allows users to create a script outline, add notes for production, and customize their documents
  • Real-time collaboration tools

Pricing

Movie Magic Screenwriting Software is one of the highest-priced screenwriting programs and does not have a free plan.

Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 for Windows/ MAC starts at $149.95.

7. Page 2 Stage

Page 2 Stage

Page 2 Stage is one of the oldest script writing software and was released in 2004. The screenplay software offers services worldwide in multiple languages (30+).

It is a completely free screenwriting tool that was designed to help screenwriters in the screenplay and film industry.

Key Features

  • Options to work in pages or in a continuous flow
  • Full editing capabilities in each of its four views
  • Grammar check and automatic corrections
  • Auto-save

Pricing

Page 2 Stage is completely free and is available for download on Windows.

8. Scrivener

Scrivener

Scrivener is one of the best screenwriting software options available today for authors. This industry-standard script writing software brings together all your research, writing, and notes for easy organization and access.

Scrivener screenplay software is compatible with Windows, MAC, Linux, and iOS.

Key Features

  • User-friendly interface
  • File imports from various locations like Word processors and extensions (Microsoft Word docs, text files, PDFs, etc)
  • Rich text editor module
  • Drag and drop Corkboard to help users organize files for revision tracking and story development
  • Video tutorials to help users get the most out of the tool

Pricing

Scrivener’s price depends on the platform you use it on. For Windows and MAC, it costs $45 and it costs $19.99 for the iOS version.

9. Slugline

Slugline

Slugline is one of the best screenwriting software to use for screenplays. It has a very simple user interface that allows you to just open the app and start writing.

Slugline script writing software helps you avoid all clutter and focus on your writing. It is most suitable for beginners who do not want to waste time on the technical aspects of screenplay software.

Key Features

  • A4 paper support
  • Easier title pages
  • Courier Prime Sans for writing
  • Multi-colored Notes
  • Scene numbering
  • Formatting helpers
  • Preferences for new document settings
  • Auto-save all the time

Pricing

Slugline is available for MAC as well as iPhone and iPad. It is a free download and does not include watermarks until you pass page 6. At that point, you can upgrade to Unlimited Writing for $49.99.

10. Squibler

Squibler

Squibler is another one of the best screenwriting software with an easy-to-use text editor for screenwriters. It is one of the best screenwriting software options because it has more than 30 screenplay templates that writers can use.

The drag-and-drop editor of this screenplay software allows users to add headings, beat boards, and other elements with ease.

Key Features

  • Simple user interface
  • Drag-and-drop editor
  • 30+ screenplay templates
  • Real-time collaboration features
  • Great for film, video, and game production

Pricing

Squibler offers a 14-day free trial after which Squibler Pro costs $9.99 per month.

11. Storyist

Storyist

Storyist is the next best screenwriting software on this list. With Storyist, writers can work on the entire story development process from research and planning, to writing the final draft.

Storyist software is film industry standard and offers users the basics of editing and formatting, unlike other screenwriting software.

Key Features

  • Cloud-based script breakdown tool
  • Color-coded index cards
  • Story development modes
  • Dark mode for writing
  • Screenwriting templates for all genres
  • Import and export screenplays in multiple formats
  • Autosave
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Revision mode

Pricing

You can buy Storyist for a one-time payment of $19 for iOS and $59 for macOS.

12. Studio Binder

Studio Binder

If you are looking for the right screenwriting software then you must consider Studio Binder. Studio Binder offers screenwriting apps for a streamlined and standardized workflow.

This screenwriting program is cloud-based and helps users organize everything from pre-production to post-production in one platform.

Key Features

  • Full-featured call sheet software including builder and templates
  • Shot Lists
  • Storyboards
  • Shooting Schedules
  • Script Breakdowns
  • Production Calendar
  • Screen Writing
  • File Sharing

Pricing

Studio Binder has a free forever plan with limited features. Its paid plans start from $29 per month.

13. Trelby

Trelby

Trelby is another great scriptwriting software you can use for free. Trelby is a free, open-source screenwriting software and is constantly updated by developers.

With all the features of a basic screenwriting platform, Trelby is a great tool for beginner writers to get started.

Key Features

  • Simple and customizable user interface
  • Multiple views
  • Screenplay editor with script format, spellchecker, and pagination
  • Available for use on multiple platforms
  • Character name database with over 200,000 names
  • Detailed reporting
  • Import and export in multiple formats

Pricing

Trelby is free, open-source software.

14. Writer Duet

WriterDuet

Writer Duet is another one of the best screenwriting software that writers use for screenplays. Writer Duet can be used for writing as well as editing videos and gaming.

Writer Duet allows real-time collaboration with multiple writers in different locations. Like other screenwriting software, Writer Duet also comes with pre-existing templates, an outlining tool, and tagging features along with other advanced features.

Key Features

  • Cloud-based screenwriting tool
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Customizable with plugins and scripts
  • Pre-existing templates
  • Tagging and outlining features

Pricing

Writer Duet has a free plan with limited features. Paid plans with more advanced features start at $5 per month (billed annually).

How To Choose The Best Script Writing Software?

We’ve seen the best screenwriting software available online. But how do you choose the one that is right for you?

It can be overwhelming to look at the lists of features and pricing of the various software that can help you write your stage plays.

To choose the right screenwriting software for your needs, you need to first pause and take a look at what those needs really are.

1. Do you like the idea of using templates for your screenplays? Templates can save you a lot of time and streamline your writing process.

2. Are you collaborating with other writers or stakeholders who would like to edit or comment on the writing? Choose a tool that offers real-time collaboration with multiple writers.

3. Are you a beginner? Select a software that has a user-friendly interface so you won’t have to spend too much time finding your way around the tool.

4. Before you start writing, would you like to import scripts from an external source? Many tools allow you to import and export scripts.

Once you’ve made a list of all the features you would like to have in your screenwriting software, it becomes easier to choose the best one for you.

However, do keep in mind that not all your ideal features may be available in any one software, so choose the one that is closest to your ideal.

Best Screenwriting Software – FAQs

1. What screenwriting software is the best?

That depends on what features you would like to have in your software. The best screenwriting software according to you may not be the right tool for another screenwriter, so the answer is subjective.

However, based on popularity and reviews, Final Draft, Movie Magic, and Squibler are some of the top screenwriting software that writers prefer.

2. What screenwriting software do professionals use?

The screenwriting programs that most professional writers use are those that I’ve mentioned above: Final Draft, Movie Magic, and Squibler.

3. What is the best free screenwriting software?

Many screenwriting software offer a free version or a free plan. One of the best free screenwriting software is Trelby – an open-source platform.

4. Is Final Draft better than Celtx?

Once again, it depends from writer to writer. Final Draft and Celtx are some of the best screenwriting software available, but each one has a different purpose.

In my opinion, Celtx was built for beginners who need the basic features of screenplay writing software at an affordable cost.

Final Draft, however, has better script text input and has a quick auto-fill that can help you figure out which character speaks next in a script.

Final Draft also creates better PDFs than Celtx.

5. Can you write a script on Microsoft Word?

You can definitely use Microsoft Word to write scripts, but dedicated screenwriting software is by far the better choice because of all the specialized features they come with.

6. Do I need screenwriting software to write a screenplay?

Not necessarily. You can use regular word processors to write your screenplays as long as you make them look professional and organized.

Conclusion

Professional screenwriting software can save you time and make your screenplays look more professional and organized.

Some screenwriting software also allow for pre-production and post-production tasks – all in one platform.

Is there any other screenplay software that I missed putting int his list? Leave a comment and let me know! 🙂

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