Screenwriting software can't make you a better writer, but it can make you a more efficient one.
It's crazy to me that people used to sit on old dos computers and try to type screenplays. Nowadays, there are tons of options when it comes to the best screenwriting software, and one I have been using for the last few years stands out to me. I like the way Highland 2 was developed and continues to grow thanks to its intuitive solutions and programming from an actual screenwriter.
But it only works for Macs so apologies in advance, PC users.
So today I wanted to highlight this software, why I like using it, and why I think it has the best price tag and value of any software on the market.
What is Highland 2?
Highland 2 is the Mac writing app from acclaimed screenwriter and novelist John August. August is the mind behind the scripts for Big Fish, Frankenweenie, Go, and Aladdin. Highland has a distraction-free design that allows users to focus on what's important: writing. The reason I use Highland 2 is that the software allows me to switch between what I'm writing no matter the medium. There's a template for scripts, novels, outlines, and much more.
When I'm writing screenplays, all I have to do is think it, type it, and the algorithm formats it for you without hitting 'tab' a dozen times. That way all I need to do is get my idea onto the page. And I'm a nerd and love that I can customize the colors of everything or flip it into "night mode" if I am putting in some late night hours.
They also have this cool feature called write sprint, where I can turn on a time and focus on writing. The feature keeps track of how many pages and words I crank out during my sprint session. I love challenging myself in productivity, and I even will challenge friends. I usually lose.
Highland 2 has been featured in many publications including the New York Times as a revolutionary tool for writers. In a recent article on the software, they focused on the applications new "gender analysis tool" which helps writers analyze who's speaking in their screenplays. The idea came from writer Christina Hodson, who approached John August with the request for the upgrade.
That marks another thing I love about Highland 2; it's always changing for the better. The software continually has updates for useful tools and modes, because it listens to what writers need on set, in real life, and for day to day work.
Highland 2 has become a favorite among top writers such as Academy Award-winner Phil Lord. “Highland is just a cleaner, purer way to be creative. My mind is calmer and less cluttered when I use it because I can write prose so easily and jump to dialogue when that’s more intuitive.”
That's a stellar endorsement, but what about people not writing scripts?
For novelists, Highland 2 helps you get from outline to finished manuscript faster than ever. Its innovative, purpose-built tools help you stay organized and focused. For everything else, Highland can be your all-purpose writing app. It’s used every day for school papers, comic books, pitches and blog posts. “Highland has changed my entire way of working with scripts. I use it every day,” says David Wain Writer/Director/EP of Children's Hospital.
“We tried Highland for the first time when we began writing our screenplay for The Spy Who Dumped Me and loved it immediately. It allowed us to not get hung up on format, Final Draft’s inevitable glitches and all the other distractions that get in the way. The work just flowed. It allowed us to focus on just the writing and nothing else. It’s sleek, simple and user-friendly. We are full converts and Highland evangelists,” says David Iserson & Susanna Fogel.
What's it gonna cost?
Here's the best news I have for you. The free edition of Highland 2 is a generous trial: there’s no time limit, and it is possible to write entire screenplays in it. You can save those scripts to PDF, too, though you get a Highland 2 watermark on each page. To get rid of those things, all you have to do is pay $50, and you gain additional templates beyond the standard screenplay and manuscript. Plus no watermarking.
That's a steal.
What's next? Try our story map!
Now that you have the proper screenwriting software, it's time to work out the kinks of your story.
We all know writing a screenplay is incredibly hard. While it gets easier as you go, every story is a new battle. When I sit down to write, I chase treatments, beat sheets, and outlines before I open my screenwriting software to tackle the story.
One thing that's always helped me is thinking about the writing process like a search for buried treasure. Mostly because I love a good treasure hunt movie.
Anyway, I worked hard and came up with a Story Map that I try to fill out before I write every spec screenplay. Try making your own in Highland 2!