11 Amazing Screenwriting Software Solutions (with FREE Options)

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Script writing software can be pricey and confusing. How do you know which screenwriting software is right for you? Let's break down some popular options together. 

So you want to be a professional screenwriter, but you’re struggling over which scriptwriting software to use? Unfortunately, no writing software will make your writing better, but some might be more tailored toward your needs on the page. There are lots of software options in the world of movies and lots of those options are good for various reasons. Script writers have to choose software wisely. 

In my decade of writing scripts, I’ve used each of the screenwriting programs imaginable. I’ll take you through the eight best scriptwriting software solutions I’ve found on the market, and we’ll list the pros and cons of each.

Let’s smash cut to the details on which script writing software is the best! 

screenwriting software
Which scriptwriting software will you choose?

Screenwriting Software for Beginning Scriptwriters

There are a handful of free scriptwriting software options, but which is the best free software? We'll give you the options with some pros and cons for each, and hopefully, you'll find the best fit for you and your writing style. Script writing needs to be second nature, so pick a program that makes you feel comfortable. 

Free scriptwriting software allows you to test your skills without becoming fiscally invested in the medium. So what are your best screenwriting software free options?

If you're here to learn how to be a screenwriter, you've come to the right place. Unlike other aspects of filmmaking, screenwriting is free. Your original ideas are the ultimate ticket, and all you have to do is get them onto the page and in the proper format to start to show them to people. 

But wait a minute, you need software to get a script looking sharp and ready for executives...software that could cost upwards of a few hundred dollars. That's some bullshit. 

The Best Free Screenwriting Software Solutions

1. Fade In 

This is the screenwriting software used by Craig Mazin, where he put all the Chernobyl characters into the fight of their lives. It's an efficient software that's less buggy than the competition and offers professional standards at every turn. It works for Mac, Windows, Linux, among other formats. 

What Comes Free? 

Right now, the demo version is free to download. If you like it and conquer writing short films within it, you can consider upgrading for the price of $79.95. 

Free Script Writing Software

2. WriterDuet 

Recently updated with offline writing capabilities, this software makes it easy to collaborate with a partner. This is a pared-down version of the software that has fewer frills, more practical applications like revisions and outlining. 

What Comes Free? 

You get your first three screenplays on here for free. That's pretty great. After that, you're paying $11.99 a month or $89 a year to write. 

Free Script Writing Software

3. Kit Scenarist 

Welcome to the open-source screenwriting software solution. The nice part is that the program can export scripts in the formats PDF, FDX, Fountain and even DOCX, so it works to industry standards for scriptwriting software.  

What Comes Free? 

Everything. There is no paid version of this software. You can totally donate! But they wanted to have something everyone can use for free and they accomplished it. 

Free Script Writing Software

Pros: You can map stories, use index cards, lots of available features in the free version. 

Cons: This is still very much a beta program, so testing and bugs will be on-going. The payment version is a monthly service, which means that over the course of time you'll be paying way more than these other "one-time" purchase programs.  

4. Highland 

The brainchild of John August, this professional screenwriting application is used by lots of A-list writers seeking an alternative to Final Draft. Recently updated with revisions mode, it does everything you want in software with the stroke of one key. Still only available for Macs though. 

What Comes Free? 

There's a free demo that lets you produce pages, but the upgrade only costs $49.99. It exports to FDX, PDF, and is incredibly useful. It's one of my favorite tools because of how easy it makes writing your story within scriptwriting software. 

Free Script Writing Software

5. Trelby

This is a fully free screenwriting software solution. It doesn't have the frills, but if you just want to sit and write, this might be the application for you. 

What Comes Free? 

Everything. There's no paid upgrades here, just tools for writers trying to break into the industry. 

Free Script Writing Software

6.  Microsoft Word / Pages / Google Docs

Welcome to the beginner screenwriter’s crutch. Pages and Word come with your computer and they’re a great place to play around. If your aspiration is to become a professional screenwriter, then you have to be willing to put in the work. Before you learn script format, it’s best to just hang in there, work out dialogue, work on your voice on the page, and experiment.  The screenwriting process can be arduous, dip your toes in the water here. 

Pros: It usually comes free with your computer or Google account. There are no limits to what you can write, and you can learn the basics for telling your own story.

Cons: You’re not going to learn anything about format, it’s not for professional screenwriters, and there are limits to the formatting you can achieve on the page.

7. Celtx

Okay, you’ve graduated past the options that comes with your computer. Now it’s time to learn to format and see your ideas hit the page. It’s exciting, but it’s probably not time to commit to paying lots of money for a program. Celtx is a great choice. Come here to learn.

Pros: It’s free, and free is fantastic. You can learn to format from the ground up. There are lots of paid upgrades that can help you budget and even shoot your first script.

Cons: It’s less intuitive than other programs. You can save different files, but most people in the industry aren’t looking for Celtx files when they want to budget and breakdown.

Options For Professional Screenwriters

Now that you know about the free options, let’s look at some screenwriting software that cost a little more than free…sometimes hundreds more…but they’re what you need to be a professional screenwriter

8. Final Draft

The company's tagline is “the industry standard,” and it’s impossible to ignore Final Draft’s relevance in the marketplace. Final Draft is used by lots of professional screenwriters, but it’s not the be all, end all. Still, it’s a useful tool with lots of templates for different formats, and using it does make you feel “cool.” I know it does. I remember the first time I used it and what I wrote and how "professional screenwriter-y" I felt.   

Pros: The “.FDX” format is universally used by lots of professional productions. Revisions Mode makes it easy to track changes.

Cons: At almost $250, it’s easily the most expensive program on this list. Sure, lots of people use it, but it does have problems with crashing. Plus, upgrades sometimes phase out old files.

htt://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTIAaJaNZio

9. Movie Magic Screenwriter

This is a highly intuitive software that also works in tandem with one of the most popular budgeting software. Movie Magic is also reliable, easy to use, and consistently updates with useful tools. It’s popular in lots of writers’ rooms as well.

Pros: You can change the layout and interface to keep your screen clean and clear. You can collaborate with other writers in real time.

Cons: It’s not quite as popular as Final Draft, but it’s just as expensive. 

10. Highland 

It always makes sense to listen to the advice of a professional screenwriter. John August created an option that addresses most writers' wants: something simple that just lets the writing flow. All this for a low price. We covered the new update of Highland 2, it has extensive templates and lots of great tools for screenwriters. There's a new update out in May of 2019, so we will keep you posted as they add more to their software and it becomes more intuitive.  

Pros: You can customize the layout, use different colors, and export in lots of different formats. Plus, John is constantly creating updates that are drawn from what people suggest and need.

Cons: There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles, so if you need an option that also does budgeting and other accouterments, this isn’t the program for you.

11. Scrivener

There’s a good chance that you’re going to be writing other things besides screenplays. This software has templates for all kinds of writing. It’s specifically designed for authors and stretches toward film and television.

Pros: If you decide to step out into novels and novellas, this is a great choice. It can be used for a wide array of writing. Plus, it has an excellent outline feature.

Cons: Because it’s not strictly made for film and television, there are lots of gaps when it comes to cross-compatibility, general use, and practicality.

What's Next? Writing Your Script!

As I mentioned in the opener, none of these programs is going to turn you into a professional screenwriter overnight. These can help you format and get your voice on the page, but the secret to success is writing and rewriting.

Next up, we suggest you take our free screenwriting seminar! There are tons of screenwriting programs out there- ones that can help you learn how to become a writer, but ours is free, and you just have to follow along week by week and within 10 weeks you'll have a rough draft! 

The truth is it doesn't matter what software you use to do your writing; only that your writing is good! Pick which program works best for you, and then use it A LOT. I’m excited to see what you will write next.

Your Comment

19 Comments

I use Fade In and just wanted to give it a vote of confidence.

I saw Rian Johnson post a screenshot on Instagram of his, in progress, screenplay for Star Wars using some software I'd never seen before. Looked it up and gave it shot. Very happy and don't see myself using anything else ever again (especially since a one-time price means lifetime free updates).

September 28, 2018 at 2:32PM, Edited September 28, 2:33PM

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Scott Cassidy
Director
136

That's awesome about the updates - Rian is a great person to model yourself after.

September 28, 2018 at 6:51PM, Edited September 28, 6:51PM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer

I've adopted Fade In as my regular screenwriting software too, and I have Final Draft - never use it. Fade In is, for me, much quicker to use.

Fade In can import and export Final Draft files, fountain files, and a bunch of other formats. You can generate all sorts of reports (maybe not as many as Final Draft - I haven't opened that in years so I've forgotten what it's capable of). The support for Fade In is really good too. I found a small bug that involved the file names of exported files. It wasn't something that broke the software, just a minor thing. I let them know about it and got an email back that same day letting me know it'd be fixed in the next minor update, and it was.

With Fade In playing nicely with Final Draft files and being a heck of a lot cheaper, I don't have any need to go back to Final Draft.

October 5, 2018 at 11:02AM

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You said for Movie Magic Screenwriter --

"Also, there's no website for help or support."

I don't find that to be true.
Movie Magic Screenwriter has a Support & Help website that's very easy to find.

http://www.write-bros.com/
http://support.screenplay.com/

It has been around for years.

September 28, 2018 at 4:19PM, Edited September 28, 4:23PM

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B Sharp
Writer/Actor
108

Good to know - I'll adjust the article!

September 28, 2018 at 6:51PM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer

I think it's a bit unfair to only include WriterDuet as a free program. Yes, they provide a fully functional free version if you are ok with staying online – but they also offer a desktop version, that has the cloud sync and collaboration features, but works perfectly fine offline and alone.

I use WriterDuet, but have never used it to collaborate. It is a fully featured, slick and modern screenwriting program on par with Fade In.

September 28, 2018 at 10:07PM

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Has anybody an opinion about dramaqeen?
https://dramaqueen.info/about-en/?lang=en

September 29, 2018 at 12:57AM

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Jens Koenig
Engineer
180

Highland is Mac only btw.

September 29, 2018 at 2:05PM

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I recently had to choose a scriptwriting program for my company and ultimately chose Celtx. The deciding factor was Celtx's full suite of pre-production tools that all integrate with its scriptwriting. Being able to generate shot lists, schedules, call sheets, and sides that are all automatically updated when a scene is added to the script has saved me TONS of time. To my knowledge there isn't another software that can do this. If anyone knows any let me know!

September 29, 2018 at 3:28PM

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I believe Movie Magic has similar capabilities, but I've never had to use them.

October 2, 2018 at 8:17AM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer

Arc Studio Pro is a new option with some pretty cool features. Been using it and so far so good. I was using Highland before that. Highland is great but if you're not on a Mac...don't worry about it. lol

October 2, 2018 at 11:23AM

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Great article! A question i have if im writing novels n novellas reality fiction n want to turn my novels into screenplays , is script studio a good softwear?

October 8, 2018 at 1:29PM

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I don't think it matters unless you want software that can handle writing all three mediums. If so, try Highland out and see if you like their templates.

October 8, 2018 at 7:36PM, Edited October 8, 7:36PM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer

I'm hearing a lot of good things from some pro WGA writer friends of mine about Script Studio because of its ability to outline and structure. I checked out the demo and like what I see so far. The dual dialogue function is the best I've seen. It used to be called Movie Outline but was relaunched with a new look and name last year. It's a bit pricey for me right now but I might buy on Black Friday if they run a deal.

November 3, 2018 at 7:25PM

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Nice - I'll have to check it out

November 5, 2018 at 8:52AM, Edited November 5, 8:52AM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer

very nice article. and the software too. thanks for it.

Augenus.com

April 16, 2019 at 12:37AM

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Such an important software you share here. Thank you, admin. We are also developed some photography business related software for photographer or movie maker. We developed Zip Code Finder Tool for you visit https://azipcode.com

May 2, 2019 at 2:22PM

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Robert Wadra
Editor
88

Jason, have you ever heard of youmescript.com. I just wrote my first screenplay on it and was wondering if you had any thoughts on that screenwriting software?

June 20, 2019 at 11:02PM, Edited June 20, 11:02PM

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t.grantrubin@gmail.com
Screenwriter/Director
74

Never heard of it! Will have to check it out!

June 22, 2019 at 3:27PM

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Jason Hellerman
Copywriter
Writer