Best screenwriting software (free & paid)

As I mentioned before, writing a script requires a very specific format. In order for it to comply with industry standards and for the different production departments to understand it. This format can be created in almost any word processor. However, there are certain specific screenwriting software options that do the formatting for you, allowing you to focus on the writing and giving you one less thing to worry about. Let’s take a look at some of them.

screenwriting software

Different screenwriting software options cater to different needs, think of what your project needs when choosing the best for you.

1. Celtx

My personal favorite. Celtx is a web-based application with a free and a pro, paid version. While the free version is great for writing, the paid version offers a number of features for project management. Such as budgeting, scheduling, and storyboard creation. Prices vary from 7 to 22 USD a month, depending on features and the number of projects you can create. They also offer special prices for companies and schools.

Celtx is a great tool to start with little to no investment. It’s also great to work with other team members through their cloud-based collaboration feature. They also have mobile apps and a free 14 day trial. Take a look at it here.

2. Final Draft

The industry favorite. About 95% of well-known production companies use it and love it. Naturally, Final Draft offers many more professional features for both screenwriting and project management. It allows you to add images, scene descriptions, and also has a collaboration option. It is software that you need to license and install, and although they offer a 60 day trial period, there is no free option after this. 

The pricing is where Final Draft gets a little bit tricky, with a regular price of 259 USD for two activations (two devices). They also offer iPad and iPhone apps, not included in the PC license. They usually run offers and you can get it for around $149.

I personally used Final Draft for a while, until my Macbook outgrew it and I had to buy the upgrade. That was when I discovered Celtx and decided not to invest any longer, but like everything, it’s up to you. They do offer special discounts for current users who are upgrading, students, military and first responders, and companies.

3. Movie Magic Screenwriter

Another industry favorite. Movie Magic is very well known for their options on budgeting and scheduling, however, they also have screenwriting software that has their own fans. It’s also an installable piece of software, easy to learn and use, and the go-to of the American Writer’s Guild. 

Aside from the price, which is also rather on the expensive side – ranging from 100 – 249,95 USD, a downside to Movie Magic is the lack of compatibility with newer iOS versions. The latest version of Movie Magic is only compatible with Mojave 10.14. They do include a free upgrade to Big Sur when the time comes, but it’s not available as of yet.

4. StudioBinder

Similar to Celtx, it offers a wide range of writing and producing tools for free. It’s easy to use and allows collaboration. There’s no need to download or install software and you can edit and export existing scripts in any format.

5. Fade in Software

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone/iPad, and Android. Fade In offers a much more affordable alternative to Final Draft and Movie Magic. Allows collaboration, image support, and additional formatting options, and offers cloud storage.

At 79.95 USD and with free updates, Fade In is certainly worth checking out. You can do so here.

There are obviously many other options out there, so there’s probably no such thing as the best screenwriting software. Think about your project and your writing routine and I’m sure you’ll find the best for you.

Happy writing!

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