Screenwriting software is a rapidly growing market that’s expected to reach $235.8 million by 2026. As a screenwriter or scriptwriter, you need a specialized tool to help you in writing killer screenplays efficiently.
If you are a screenwriter, having access to the right screenwriting software should be your top priority. Why?
Because it has now become an industry norm. When all the other screenwriters are using tools and software to write better scripts, you have to use the best screenwriting software to be at the top.
This article covers everything you need to know about screenwriting software, what features to look for when choosing one, and a list of the best screenwriting software to help you choose the right one.
Let’s get cracking.
What is Screenwriting Software?
Screenwriting software is a writing tool (like word processors) designed specifically for writing screenplays and scripts. Normal word processors (e.g. Microsoft Word) can’t handle the special needs of screenwriters.
For example, screenwriters deal with several characters and they need quick shortcuts to type character names. Similarly, screenwriters have to take notes, collaborate with other writers, and need access to outline quickly.
Microsoft Word has macros that make it easier for screenwriters to use these features but it’s a painful process. Dedicated screenwriting software provides you with all the features and benefits that you need to produce awesome scripts quickly yet comfortably.
Most importantly, screenwriting software comes with templates that is a huge plus. Templates make writing super-easy. Select a template based on the script type, make the edits, and you are done. Having the best screenwriting software will help you stay organized, save time, write quickly, and focus on what’s essential instead of dealing with the technicalities of the tool.
Features & Benefits of Screenwriting Software
Screenwriting software offers you with several features and benefits that make them essential for writing screenplays and scripts. Here is an over of the major benefits that you should expect to see in the best screenwriting tool:
- Easy-to-use interface that requires minimal or no training
- Ready-to-use templates
- Outlines and mind mapping assistance
- Story maps
- Drag-and-drop builder
- Real-time collaboration with other writers and stakeholders
- Distraction-free writing
- On-screen sidebar to quickly access characters and scenes
- Note-taking tool
- Auto-correct, spell check, and grammar recommendation
- Quick draft import and export
- Sync and integration with third-party apps (e.g. cloud services)
- Multiple device support
Here are the top three features that you must consider before choosing any screenwriting software:
Screenplay templates help you plot your story quickly. Templates provide you with the basic elements of a screenplay that you can tweak as per requirement. For instance, you'll find headline, action, character names, dialogue, transition, shot, and other elements in the template. This saves a lot of time and makes your job easier.
2. Ease of Use
If it requires training and you have to spend a lot of time learning how to use a screenwriting tool, it isn’t worth it. The interface and layout should be simple and easy-to-use. This is one of the core features that you should look for in a screenwriting program.
The user interface should be self-explanatory with icons and buttons clearly visible. A graphical interface is ideal with a drag-and-drop tool.
Real-time collaboration is an essential feature that you shouldn’t miss. You have to collaborate with fellow writers, editors, and several other stakeholders during the writing process. Collaboration feature helps you collaborate with peers within the screenwriting software, you don’t have to use another tool. This keeps everything streamlined and organized within a single platform.
You also have to take notes (private and shared) related to characters, story, outline, and writing projects. The easier it is to take notes while writing, the better.
What screenwriting software features you prefer is more of a personal choice, but these three features should be your top priority as it will prove handy in the long run. So always look for these three features when evaluating software options.
The Best Screenwriting Software 2020
Here is an overview and review of the best screenwriting software available in the market to choose from in 2020.
These include both free screenwriting software and paid ones. Let’s dig in.
Squibler is the #1 and top-rated screenwriting software that has a powerful yet easy-to-use text editor for screenwriters. It comes loaded with 30+ screenplay templates that help you in getting started hassle-free. The drag-and-drop user interface makes it extremely easy to add headings, beat boards, and other elements. With its collaboration feature, multiple writers can work on a single story simultaneously. This saves you from the hassle of sending story to multiple peers and then waiting for them to add their section.
- Easy-to-use scriptwriting software
- Drag and drop interface
- Distraction-free mode
- More than 30 templates to choose from
- Powerful built-in collaboration feature
- Comes with several handy tools for writers such as plot generator
- Works on web, pc, Ipad, IPhone, and Android
- Integrates seamlessly with Google Drive and Dropbox
- 30-days free trial
Squibler screenwriting software is an all-purpose platform that is suitable for all types of scriptwriters, authors, and fiction and non-fiction writers. It is perfect for screenwriters who need easy-to-use and reliable software to produce quality content with peace of mind.
Squibler is multi-purpose feature-rich screenwriting software that’s a perfect choice for any writer. It has all the features that you need in the best screenwriting tool. It has templates, easy-to-use, and has amazing collaboration and note-taking features.
Importantly, you can try it free.
2. Fade In
Fade In screenwriting software that’s specifically made for motion picture screenplays and is perfect for writers who are associated with the film industry, television, and gaming. It comes with a lot of handy features that make it suitable for scriptwriters of all genres. It is a cross-device software that works on Mac, Windows, mobile, and Linux.
- Simple user interface
- Supports multiple languages
- Real-time collaboration
- Autocomplete tool
- Distraction-free typing
- Support multiple file formats including images and PDF
- Works on Mac, Windows, Linux, and mobile
- Support for cloud services
- Comes with a free demo
Fade In is suitable for screenwriters who are working with film, TV, or gaming industry. The tools and features support motion picture screenplays.
Fade In screenwriting software is the best choice for people who work within the film industry. The real-time collaboration and its rewrite and revision tools help several people work on a single story simultaneously.
You can grab its free demo and check it out, but you won’t be able to download or use any content developed with the demo version.
3. Final Draft
Final Draft screenwriting software is best in the game. It is extensively used in the entertainment industry and it has won several awards over the years. It has more than 300 templates to choose from that make your work easier than ever. You can use Final Draft on Windows, Mac, and mobile devices making it a perfect multi-device software.
- More than 300 templates
- Story mapping tool
- Beat boards that let you visually organize ideas
- Distraction-free writing
- Speech to script tool
- Real-time collaboration
- Easy-to-use interface
- Powerful formatting options with revision mode
- 30-day free trial
Final Draft is best for the motion picture market. It is widely used by leading TV shows for screenwriting so if you are planning to write stage plays following industry standard for a television show or a Hollywood movie, Final Draft is your best bet.
Final Draft screenwriting software is professional and reliable that is used by some of the leading companies like Netflix, Pixar, and BBC. If you are working in the motion pictures industry, it is a great option. However, it is expensive than most of the other software in this list.
Good news: You can try it free for 30-days and see how it goes for you.
Looking for a free screenwriting software? Trelby is one of the best free open source programs for screenwriters. Being an open-source scriptwriting software, Trelby is updated and improved quite often by developers. Based on input from screenwriters, the software gets regular updates. It is multiplatform that works on Windows and Linux.
- Easy-to-use interface that’s like any text editor
- The interface is configurable and can be customized as per need
- Multiple view options
- A comprehensive database of character names
- Supports multiple file formats including PDF
- Import and export files in a wide range of formats
- Free for life
Trelby screenwriting software is flexible, customizable, and free making it a perfect choice for writers who are on a budget. It is suitable for new screenwriters who are just getting started and don’t want to spend money on screenwriting software.
Trelby is open source free software that’s exceptionally easy-to-use. It doesn’t have any learning curve. You can find scripts and codes free of cost on Github. However, it doesn’t offer you features that you'll find with some of the other screenwriting programs on this list.
If you are a newbie screenwriter, using Trelby should be your preference as it will give you a good idea of what your requirements are and will help you find a better paid screenwriting software in the future.
Celtx is a multi-purpose scriptwriting and production tool that is designed specifically for large teams and companies that want to plan, write, and shoot with from a single platform. The interface is user-friendly and straightforward making is easy for screenwriters to get started. It offers several tools that help with writing, script format, production, cost management, reporting, collaboration, and more.
- Simple and intuitive user interface
- Real-time team collaboration
- Supports storyboard and index cards for story development
- Works offline
- Revision tracking
- Multi-purpose software that also supports production and budgeting
- Supports team and multiple members
- 30-days free trial
Celtx screenwriting software is suitable for screenwriters who work within a team. It is mostly used for pre-production by companies that wish to handle everything from scriptwriting to production management.
Celtx is a powerful and feature-rich screenwriting platform that comes with an easy-to-use interface. It is a multi-purpose program that is focused on both screenwriting and production management. As a screenwriter who is working alone on a single project, it doesn’t turn out to be a great option.
If you are working with a team that is interested in production management too, Celtx will work great. You can use its free trial to explore features and interface.
WriterDuet is simple yet effective screenwriting app that is focused on real-time collaboration. It was developed in 2013 as a collaboration tool for writers. It has now transformed into a full-fledged screenwriting software. It comes with templates, outlining tool, and tagging features. It is a cloud-based software so you can access it from anywhere in the world.
- Real-time collaboration
- Easy-to-use interface
- Customizable software that comes with plugins and scripts
- Comes with templates
- Ability to create your own templates and workflows
- Tagging and outlining feature
- Can be used from any device including mobile and offline desktop app
- Comes with a free plan
WriterDuet screenwriting software is best for professional screenwriters who work with writing partners. If you have a team of multiple writers and you want to write and edit script simultaneously without ruining other’s work, this is the software you must use. Real-time collaboration is its real strength.
It is a simple and easy-to-use screenwriting tool for teams. It offers almost all the essential features that you need to write great scripts. However, it is most suitable for real-time collaboration for scriptwriting and sluglines. You can use it for collaboration and simultaneous writing, editing, and revision.
You can try WriterDuet free and see how it works for you. However, the free version comes with limited features, so you'll have to switch to a paid plan to fully explore all the features.
Choose the Right Screenwriting Software
It isn’t impossible to write scripts and screenplays without a tool, but it will be one heck of a task if you try doing it without the help of appropriate screenwriting software. That’s how the industry works.
Selecting the right screenwriting software will get easier if you know your project requirements and your personal interests. Here are a few basic questions that you should ask yourself before choosing a screenwriting program:
Do you want to get started quickly and need assistance with templates?
Are you a newbie screenwriter?
Are you working on a script with multiple other writers?
Are you working alone?
Do you want yourself involved in production management?
Your answers will help you select the best screenwriting software from the list above.