Gone are the days that screenwriters need to be based in Hollywood. The streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and countless others produce their own films and revolutionize the film industry.
Now is one of the best times to be a professional screenwriter; whether you’re a new writer to the film industry writing your first script or a seasoned screenwriter, there’s no doubt the industry is booming.
You only need a few things to get yourself established, a laptop, a flair for words, some screenwriting software, an agent, and a pinch of luck!
Just searching ‘Software Script Writing’ in Google will generate you a ton of results, so to narrow your search and save you time, we’ve picked some easy to use options for writers.
In the modern film industry, it can be tough to know what the best screenwriting software is. To allow you more time to focus on your scriptwriting, we’ll provide a crash course guide to the options to keep your efforts on your script and not research.
This guide will look at some of the frontrunners in the scriptwriting software marketplace and provide you with a better understanding of the best screenwriting software in 2020.
What is Screenwriting Software?
Screenwriting Software or Scriptwriting Software allows you, the writer, to perform necessary tasks with ease, from your formatting to editing, to composition, to printing scripts for TV, movies, and games.
This software for writing a script aids you in meeting the strict criteria the industry requires while simultaneously checking the grammar, language, and spelling.
Correctly utilizing screenwriting software means you can eliminate the need to manually format your writing to ensure your script is in line with the industry’s standards.
Using simple shortcuts and hotkeys, screenwriters can easily add dialogue, slug lines, action, transitions, parentheticals, characters names, to their script.
Despite this, it can sometimes be a struggle to find the best screenwriting software for your needs, so we will be looking at some of the best and easy to use programs.
We have picked a range of free screenwriting software and paid options; both sides have a range of features and benefits, so we’ll break down 11 of our recommendations.
What is the Best Screenwriting Software in 2020?
Below we will look at the best screenwriting software or script writing software; depending on who you speak to, we’ve compiled a list of 11 of the best options on the market.
1. Final Draft
One of the oldest and most reliable screenwriting software in the industry, Final Draft, has won multi-awards since its initial release in the nineties, used by screenwriting industry giants such as Pixar, Paramount, Netflix, ABC, and more.
- Advanced team collaboration tools such as visualization and brainstorming
- Story maps allow you to connect beat boards and visualizations into your script writing
- Automatic script formatting in line with standards
- Visually plan plot pots and milestones
- Store as many options of alternate dialogue as you need
- Hotkeys and shortcuts allow you to switch between action and dialogue quickly
- File back-ups to ensure you never lose your scripts
- Revision history helps for taking script through production
- Support for text-to-speech
- Works with around 100 languages
- Compatible with iOS, Windows, and OSX
- 100+ templates to start from
Anyone looking to use the industry-standard in screenwriting software.
Final Draft movie screenwriter is a premium class leading screenwriting software that has helped create some of the best scripts in recent years. If you want to use the same software as major industry players, this is your best option.
Final Draft has a current sale price of $199.99 for the digital download which grants two activations per fee.
Final Draft offers a month’s free trial for writers to test out. You can buy an education license if you’re in education for a promotional price of $99.99.
In the running for the best screenwriting software available for writing and editing scripts and similar projects to gaming to video editing. WriterDuet is a flexible platform that has a diverse range of options and tools to suit writers’ needs.
WriterDuet is great for writers who want real time collaboration working across several devices and locations, available as a premium feature and not with the base software, but definitely worth it.
- Highly customizable with various plugins available to install
- Free to sign up
- Works with a wide range of formats
- Enables changes in script template
- Supports multiple browsers and mobile devices
- Cloud backups via Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud and even local capability
- Full SSL certification integration (scripts only shared via guest codes or writer request)
- Flawless online and offline services
- Advanced edit tracking
- Easy to use and intuitive interface
- Free built in tutorial (makes learning effortless)
- Limited to three free scripts (additional scripts need active subscription)
- Focused on ‘Pro’ subscriptions
- Offline collaboration isn’t available (real time collaboration requires internet connection)
WriterDuet works best for writers who need real time collaboration while working on projects. Due to its structure, WriterDuet can also be great for educational tutorials.
As alluded to above the free version allows for three free scripts, anything after that you’ll need to switch to a paid subscription, of which there are three with their own benefits:
- Plus version – $7.99 a month
- Pro version – $11.99 a month
- Premium version – $15.99 a month
Annual billing of any of these will reduce the plans by 38%.
One of the most popular cloud based screenwriting software with media pre-production capabilities too.
Over 6 million users globally use Celtx to help them create quality content quickly and the cloud based element is a real selling point to any mobile screenwriter.
Powerful tools and reports can help you take advantage of important changes to your script and grant attainable production insights.
- Easy to use and short learning curve
- Online and offline capabilities with apps for Android, iPad and iPhone
- Work off a single master file for easier organization
- Support for strip-boards and production calendars
- Lets directors and writers tag elements within the script
- Cloud based solution
- Created for real time collaboration
- Team tailored production workflow
- All in one pre-production management
- Rich text editor for novel writing
- Free version no longer offered
- Copy and paste functionality is a little flawed
- Scanned PDF scripts are not exported without being converting to OCR
- Leans more to pre-production
Celtx is flexible and versatile for any screenwriters and can turn scattered thoughts into robust plans with ease, very viable for novelists and playwrights too.
Celtx has three pricing plans for different uses, scriptwriting, video production and game production, each with their own unique features tailored to their market.
Scriptwriting Plan – $20 / month
Video Production Plan – $30 / month
Game Production Plan – $30 / month
You can save up to 33% when paying for the year.
Educational discounts are offered via customer support.
4. Fade In
Since its release in 2011, Fade In has cemented itself as a leader in the screenwriting industry. Fade In is used across the film industry due it being compatible with Mac, iOS, Linux, Windows, and Android.
Fade In has seen popularity is partly due to its competitive price point and excellent range of features, such as multiple language support, action-to-dialogue calculator and great functionality for revisions and rewrites.
In the modern screenwriting software world, Fade In is being compared to the industry leading Final Draft software and is pretty comparable.
- Automatic script formatting (in line with industrial standards)
- Real time collaboration (great for remote work or team projects)
- Full image support directly into the document
- State of the art universal application interface
- Built in autocomplete typing feature (makes live suggestions)
- Full screen and page only mode to allow no distractions
- Free software updates
- Cloud based storage service
- Multiple file format support (HTML, text, etc.)
- Free version has a watermark
- Potential for compatibility issues between working in or out of the film industry
Screenwriters who want their thoughts and software to be seamlessly integrated. Fade In is mostly used by major motion picture screenwriters in the film industry.
Fade In can be used for free for a short trial time, after that you have to purchase it with the one time fee of $79.95, which is very competitive in the industry.
In addition, the future software updates will be free.
Some might know Trelby under its previous name Blyte, Trelby is a free open source screenwriting software, at the time of writing it has Windows and Linux support and is available on Github.
Trelby is under General Public License (GPL) and is very welcoming of screenwriters and developers who want to improve the platform through collaboration. Furthermore, the built-in PDF generator is highly customizable.
- Very customizable and configurable
- Great user interface and user focused design
- Compatible with range of platforms
- Multiple view choices
- Built-in ability to compare and contrast scripts
- Advanced reporting (character, scene, location and dialogue)
- Plethora of importing file types (Final Draft XML, Fade In Pro, Fountain, Adobe Story, Screenplay formatted text, etc.)
- Fully built-in character name database
- Specifications to run are low so can run on old systems with ease
- Ability to create PDF with customizable watermarks
- Flexible and versatile system
- Revision tracking feature is a little lacking
- Support is minimal due to being a free software
- Not compatible with OSX (only on Windows and Linux)
- No collaboration option available
- Lack of bold, underline or italics options
- Only supports English language
Perfect script writing software for both individual writers and screenwriters who are on a budget due to the software being free. Great for education, tutorials and demonstrations too.
Trelby is an open source screenwriting platform so is entirely free and can be accessed via Github.
Scrivener is a viable script writing software tool which started in 2007 and aims more towards authors and novelists; despite this it is still one of the best screenwriting software available on the market.
Offering a ton of features such as organizing notes, editing multiple documents at once and drag and drop capability. Scrivener is compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, and Linux.
Some more unique highlights are the project management functionality and ability to mimic a scrapbook, a ring-binder or a typewriter.
- Footnote support and ability to reference a research library
- Good clean interface and user friendly design
- Traditional text editing and formatting options
- Switch between section editing and whole document editing easily
- Ability to import your files from word processors and extensions (PDF, Word, text files and more)
- Corkboard tool that allows drag and drop rearranging (like digital index cards)
- Groups all features into a singular platform for easy reference
- Import and export your own font
- MathType integration
- Video tutorials to aid in understanding the software
- Month free trial period
- Steep learning curve compared to most script writing software
- License doesn’t carry across platforms
- Some updates are paid
Scrivener has a lot of features that make it one of the great screenwriting software options for non fiction, historical, and fiction writers, with templates for general writing and academic non fiction too.
The price depends on which platform you are working on, it is available on Mac, Windows and iOS:
Mac and Windows version – one time fee of $45
iOS version – one time fee of $19.99
7. Movie Magic Screenwriter
An award-winning software, Movie Magic Screenwriter is perfect for screenwriting, comic books, stage plays, novels, musicals and academic texts. It is one of the best screenwriting software on the market and has a free demo for you to try.
Movie Magic Screenwriter has a series of online videos to help you learn its tools and features and get the most of the script writing software.
As the name suggests, Movie Magic Screenwriter helps you draft movie magic and has been used in the film industry for such scripts as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series.
- Real time collaboration tools built-in (great choice for teams)
- Very flexible and intuitive (designed with ease in mind)
- Intelligent formatting automatically formats scripts to current industry standards and required fields
- Features use color-coding for easy organization and use
- Ability to tag locations and characters (when exporting to a scheduling program)
- High customization (layout, interface, and look)
- Has a range of professionally curated templates
- Uses NaviDock tool to contrast your script using a plethora of factors
- Text-to-speech feature
- Note organization and index cards tool that allows simple access, viewing, scripting and organizing of your ideas
- Movie Magic Screenwriter is one of the most expensive script writing tools on the market
- More focused to larger clients
- Features aren’t as detailed as competitors like Fade In or Final Draft movie screenwriters
Unsurprisingly, Movie Magic Screenwriter is focused on and best for the film industry. It is definitely aimed at the larger market due to the higher price so can alienate smaller companies or individuals.
Movie Magic Screenwriter has a variety with all but the academic version giving 3 activations per purchase (academic is 2).
Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 starts at $100 (MMS 6 upgrade starts at $89.95)
Movie Magic Screenwriter Academic starts at $49
8. KIT Scenarist
A lot of professionals see KIT Scenarist as one of the best screenwriting software in the industry and provides a very full screenwriting package and experience.
KIT Scenarist is open source so is one of the best free options itn the script writing software arena and with its high level of customization it’s not hard to see why it’s become so popular.
Novelists and authors worldwide like using the software and with regular updates it's a great option for a lot of different people.
- Windows, Mac, iOS, Linux and Android compatible
- Hosts built-in statistical tools
- Has a rich formatting tool and script editor to help you focus on your writing solely
- All in one research module (manages your character list, stores a range of materials and collects necessary information)
- Works with multiple languages
- Light and dark theme available (increased flexibility for night working)
- Can export your script in different formats (Docx, PDF, Fountain, and FDX)
- Card module aids in building story development and gives you visualizations
- Set and character management integration
- Real time collaboration only available with subscription fee
- Cloud service also a premium feature (after one month free)
- Suport for mobile devices (iOS and Android) isn’t free
Very comfortable working on high level scripts for feature length films or television or used by authors or novelists.
Writers working in multiple languages and with statistical analysis requirements will feel right at home.
KIT Scenarist is free but as mentioned above has limited features outside of the paid plan subscription option (starting at $4.99 a month).
StudioBinder is one of the more contemporary solutions on the screenwriting software market, recognized by its modern style and user focused interface.
Positioning itself as a production management software in video, TV, film and photo, StudioBinder has carved out its own niche in the industry. This means it has a range of customization options for photo and video production companies and individuals to pool their resources into an over-arching platform.
StudioBinder has a ton of companies around the world who use the software, it is used by gaming leader Blizzard, but one of the most recognizable users of the platform is music industry giant, Spotify.
- Free plan can be used indefinitely
- Simple drag and drop interface
- Import scripts and tag elements (such as: wardrobe and props) with script breakdowns
- Ability to add personalized call times and upload attachments (personalized call sheets)
- Powerful shot list and storyboard builder
- Send and collate messages to vendors, clients and crew simultaneously
- Seamless production workflow in one platform
- Used by industry leaders so has great support and updates
- Provides one hub for a range of tasks
- Pre-production planning solution brings the script to pre-production easily
- Price is not great for smaller businesses
- Software is made for seasoned professionals
- Steep learning curve and lots of options to choose from
Best suited for the larger companies or high end professionals working on big budget productions and projects.
Alienating smaller companies or individuals due to the high price point is hard to justify the spending, however the free plan is a viable option for academic or educational uses.
As aforementioned StudioBinder has a free version that can be used without a trial period, whereas the paid options are broken down by company plans and individual plans.
Company plans are broken down again into three sub-plans:
Agency (3 users) – $249 / month*
Production Company (6 users) – $399 / month*
Enterprise (Unlimited users) – Starting at $1499 / month*
Individual plans are also split into three sub-plans:
Indie (10 projects, 50GB storage) – $25 / month*
Professional (25 projects,75GB storage) – $42 / month*
Studio (Unlimited projects, 100GB storage) – $85 / month*
*All six options are eligible to save 15% if done yearly.
10. Highland 2
Highland 2 is a very clean looking screenwriting software designed to be Mac compatible, it has a user focused interface with simplistic navigation to help you focus on your writing without distraction.
Highland 2’s high customization options and capability makes it an excellent solution for teams and individuals that have varied requirements.
Highland 2 free is workable but has limited features, thus it's more of a high functioning demo and for the more advanced features, you’ll have to look at the paid option.
- Automatic formatting mode (save time and focus on the writing)
- Sprint feature allows you to keep track of time while you’re working
- Regularly updated so always competitive and in date
- Gender analysis tool (first to utilize this)
- Great free plan with some useful functions
- Automated plain text backup (frequency manually set)
- Class leading customer support
- Design your own themes when using the pro plan
- Multitude of keyboard shortcuts
- Stratchpad tool acts like digital index cards or beat boards (leave notes on your script)
- Only compatible with Macs
- The free option has watermarks on PDFs
- Issues with dual dialogue in PlayScript mode
As alluded to before, it's targeted at Mac users and is a viable solution for bloggers and individuals who are always looking for images.
The software boasts numerous shortcuts that are great for beginners in screenwriting and blogging.
Highland 2 offers both a free and a paid version, the free has basic capabilities and features and makes for a good way to test out the software, so most will lean to the paid version for $49.99.
11. Page 2 Stage
One of the veterans in the screenwriting software industry with the original release in 2004.
Page 2 Stage is still one of the best screenwriting software available with a reasonably global audience because of the over 25 languages offered. Page 2 Stage started as a paid platform but is now a free screenwriting software.
- Easy to use interface
- Up to 200% zoom
- Build In Grammar Checker
- Limitless copy protection (can be installed on as many devices as you need)
- Auto-cheat feature (set your page numbers required)
- Multiple viewing types
- Auto-save means every 10 minutes, work is saved or after 20 seconds pause of typing
- Demo available to test out capabilities
- Extensive features page to help you decide
- At the time of writing, not available on Mac/Linux, only Windows
- Free screenwriting software so doesn’t have robust customer support
As it's a free version of screenwriting software, it’s best for script writers working on a smaller budget. Great for educational, demonstrations, or tutorials and one of the best screenwriting software for beginners.
Free open source screenwriting software available to download online.
So, what's the best script writing software?
Although picking the best screenwriting software won’t automatically make you Tarantino or a Coen, it will help you draft movie scripts, further yourself in the industry, and import and export your ideas from your head to the page to the screen.
Picking the best features that fit the options you need is the best way to select your script writer software, whether its free screenwriting software, or paid options, your script will be much better with the right choice.
Needless to say your situation will help dictate your choice of screenwriting software options, whether thats on the grounds of price, functionality or tools. Any of these script writing software are viable choices for anyone writing a script for any industry or scale.
But without further ado, our recommendation, and winner of the best screenwriting software 2020 is – Final Draft.
Thanks for reading our comprehensive guide to the best screenwriting software 2020, hopefully you have all the information to narow down your search!
Do you use a script writing software we didn’t mention above? We would love to hear your suggestions and recommendations.