10 Best Screenwriting Software for Beginners to Professionals

Here we have 10 of the best screenwriting software perfect for beginners and three great for professionals.

How do we know this? I’ve been screenwriting for 5 years. I’ve personally tested each software during my years of writing and found these to be the best.

What’s the best screenwriting software? The best screenwriting software is Arc Studio because of the beginner-friendly interface and its auto-formating options.

We don’t tell you all the features because most programs provide the exact same thing so we give features unique to each program in these reviews.

best screenwriting software for beginners

Here is a quick guide of the three Best ones out this list:

Screenwriting SoftwareFree or PaidBest for
Arc Studio Free and PaidBest for Beginners
Screenwriters
Final Draft 12 Paid Best for Professionals
Screenwriters
Scrivener Free trial and PaidBest for Transitioning
Novel writers
WriterDuet Free and Paid Best for Colaborations
Fade In Free and Paid
TreblyFree
DramaQueenFree and paid
Movie Magic Screenwriter Paid
Highland 2 Paid
Celtx Free and Paid

1.) Arc Studio

The chances are that you have never heard of Arc Studio before.

Why?

Because it’s the newest software for screenwriters on this list, but I love this screenwriting software.

Arc Studio took a look at other screenwriting software and came up with a design that sets it apart from older options. A purposefully minimalistic interface uses color to keep the software fresh while still distraction-free.

A simple bar on the left of the screen helps you nativize all the essential tools a screenwriter could need without drawing your attention away from your script.

Even better, if your schedule only leaves the nights available to write, then a dark mode limits your eye strain, letting you comfortably write for longer.

Industry-standard formatting is made easier with automatic shortcuts, limiting the amount of effort you must put into correctly formatting your script. Yes, Auto formatting. Amazing

If you want to practice formatting the script yourself, you can alter your skill level in the software, and there will be less help from Arc Studio, giving you the freedom to practice.

There is a whole range of story-building features within Arc Studio to help you navigate your writing process. Helping Arc Studio is very beginner-friendly because it enables you to create a coherent outline and beat board without leaving you in the dark on how to do so.

However, what sets Arc studio apart is its Arc Mode.

In Arc Mode, you will see a colorful timeline of your screenplay to add your beats and scenes. And hey, it’s pretty! This is the ideal tool for someone who is still trying to understand how beats and rhythm play into the structure of a screenplay.

Editing is made more accessible as it includes essential features from other software, such as revision history.

A new editing feature /” is the bin (yes, really) as you can access anything you have deleted from your screenplay at any point.
Oh, and the best part? As of right now, it’s completely free!

Arc Studio Pros and Cons

  • Minimalistic design
  • Dark Mode
  • Auto Formating
  • Arc Mode to see the beats of your screenplay
  • Works offine
  • Upgrades are free
  • You can export your file for other screenwriting software (Fountain & Final Draft only)
  • 2 scripts only in free mode
  • Minimalistic design
  • Dark Mode
  • Auto Formating
  • Arc Mode to see the beats of your screenplay
  • Works offineUpgrades are free
  • You can export your file for other screenwriting software (Fountain & Final Draft only)
  • Collaborate with others
  • Custom Formating
  • Beat cards outline mode
  • Unlimited scripts
  • Veiw older versions of your script

The newest software is untested by most screenwriters.

2.) Final Draft 12

Final Draft is software made for screenwriters wanting to work in the film industry seriously, and it comes with an arsenal of essential tools.

Did you know 95% of Hollywood uses Final Draft? It’s the industry standard when it comes to screenwriting software.

The most helpful feature in Final Draft is its automatic formatting software that makes slug-lines, dialogue indents, etc., based on dedicated keyboard shortcuts. Paired with an intelligent type that fills in character names, locations, etc., Final Draft ensures that your script meets industry standards based on previous mentions.

As a beginner, Finals Draft’s reporting tools, as well as the various tagging options, may not be necessary to write your script but can give you insight into what your script contains.

While these features are not unique to Final Draft, they are straightforward to understand.

A distraction-free mode forces you to focus on your writing.

It also has a speech-to-text tool that allows the program to read the script back to you. So you can hear the flow of the story and any typos you might have and find opportunities to make your dialogue pop.

Organizational tools help to shape your script. And viewed while you are writing to keep you on track with your narrative.

Your beat board can be re-arranged if you suddenly have a change of heart during a scene, so you don’t have to flick between the different modes.

While it may be the software most associated with screenwriting, Final Draft is no longer the only industry-standard option for writers. Still, some prefer to bite the bullet and pay out for Final Draft to ensure that they can create an industry-standard script.

  • Minimalistic design
  • Dark Mode
  • Auto Formating
  • Arc Mode to see the beats of your screenplay
  • Works offine
  • You can export your file for other screenwriting software (Fountain & Final Draft only)
  • Collaboratw with others
  • Custom Formating
  • Beat cards outline mode
  • Unlimited scripts
  • Veiw older versions of your script

I couldn’t find any

3.) Scrivener

Scrivener is not just a screenwriting software its a software for all writers.

What’s excellent about Scrivener is you can turn your books and stories into screenplays. Yes, if you are traditionally a novelist or a big idea person, it helps you layout your writing into script format from your book.

Start by outlining your document.

Then you can place your words in the scriptwriting section of the application.

It even teaches you screenplay format as you write so you can get to know it first hand.

Regardless of what types of scripts you write, Scrivener has an abundance of templates tailored towards the needs of a screenwriter. You also have the choice to import existing scripts from PDFs, Final Draft, etc. These imports convert into the format of any template you are using.

Scrivener is software for long-haul writing, focusing on both the planning and writing stages of a script.

A corkboard mode takes you to a beat board where you can arrange your scenes or sections with a simple drag and drop. Here you can also set a character target for each section of your script, helping you focus on complicated characters’ arcs and motivations.

To keep your writing organized, you can create multiple folders and subfolders so you know exactly where to find various scenes and notes at any given moment.

Scattered through the software are places to view your script synopsis, general notes, and other bits that you may need to look back at while planning and writing.

Scrivener enables autosave and back up onto your laptop, keeping any changes or corrections you make to your script safe.

They also keep hold of the various versions of your script so you can keep track of the multiple edits you make.

With so many functions, tools, and features available to the writer, Scrivener can appear complicated to a beginner.

That’s why when you launch the software for the first time; Scrivener provides a detailed walk-through of all its features that you can assess at any time.

  • Write Novels, plays, screenplays anything
  • Organize everyhting with one program
  • Works on all apple and adriod devices
  • Index card mode
  • PDF scanned scripts needs
  • No longer free

One time payment

$49 (macOS) and $45 (Windows)

4.) WriterDuet

Collaboration is a key part of screenwriting, especially so when you are just starting out and want someone with more experience to help guide you through the process.

I use Writers Duet to write with my friend on a film coming out in 2022.

Its free version for most is the only thing you need.

As is clear from the name, WriterDuet was designed to be the perfect collaboration software. However, it has evolved into one of the best screenwriting software on the market, and it is worth looking at.

You will revise your script time and time again, no matter how experienced you are, but keeping track of those revisions as a beginner can be confusing. WriterDuet generates a precise, dated breakdown of your script’s changes so that you can look back at and see exactly what you changed and when.

WriterDuet uses a cloud storage system that makes collaboration easier when you are on the move. Even better, buying the pro version means that you can access your work offline!

There are a variety of customizable templates. Or, if you are still unfamiliar with the correct formatting of different scripts, then you can pick a template that fits your needs and customize it later.

As is to be expected of WriterDuet, the collaboration tools are the stars of the show. Send your writer buddy an email invitation, and you can both start writing and editing any section of the script.

While you can certainly work with your collaborator in real-time, any changes made by other writers will be highlighted. You can take a break and keep track of the edits created.

The user interface of WriterDuet is simple – almost underwhelming. As a beginner, you may find that to be a good thing.

Other screenwriting software can overload your screen with tools and navigational options but WriterDuet strips writing back to its basics while still providing enough tools to help you write your story.

  • Ouline tabs
  • Cloud based
  • Collaborate with as many writers at a time
  • The phone app crashes
  • Freezes sometimes but always backs up your saved point.

Free plan

Up to 3 projects
Cloud access
Unlimited import and export
Revision tracking and history

Plus – $9.99 per month

Unlimited projects
Collaboration
Word tense check
Desktop app

Pro – $11.99 per month

Statistics and reporting
Access to production tools
Deleted text revision

Premium – $13.99 per month

Automatically translate contents
Multiview tools

5.) Fade In

A lot of screenwriters use Fade In as a cheaper alternative to Final Draft.

Just like other screenwriting software, Fade In automatically formats your script based on your chosen template.

Smart type is also enabled so constantly writing reoccurring places and characters won’t interrupt your workflow. However, it is not as advanced of a feature as Final Draft’s smart type.

It is true that there are certain expectations of how a finished script should look, but that doesn’t mean you can’t break the rules a little! Fade In’s customizable formatting tools allow the writer to change margins, font size, etc. like you can do in Word. The array of templates that are provided are all also customizable.

Something that is unique to Fade In is the action-to-dialogue statistics tool.

One thing that screenwriting books will always tell beginners is to show not tell. However, if you have never written a screenplay before then it can be hard to see if you have told too much.

Fade In’s action-to-dialogue tool gives you a statistic of how much action you have in your script compared to the dialogue. You can use the tool to see if you have too much dialogue in your script and figure out where to change some of it into action – showing not telling.

The dialogue that you do use in your script should be consistent with the character you use, which is another skill that beginners may struggle with.

A dialogue tuner offers alternative dialogue for you to use with each character that may be more in line with how your character has acted or spoken earlier in your script.

When the editing stage comes around, you can use virtual index cards to change the order of your scenes within your script. Simply re-arrange the index cards and Fade In will automatically complete the scene changes in your actual script, leaving you more time to edit.

  • Automatic script format help
  • Autocomplete typing feature
  • Page mode for no destractions
  • Free cloud storage
  • Free updates
  • watermarks free version

Fade in the desktop app – $79.95 one-time payment Access to everything

6.) Trebly

Perhaps the most interesting software mentioned, Trebly has a unique creation story that elevates the needs of current screenwriters.

Completely free downloadable screenwriting software. As such, it is software that is constantly being updated by developers to be bigger and better.

The improvements are based upon input from the users who are predominantly screenwriters themselves.
Any tools, formatting styles, or templates that a screenwriter may find help their writing can be suggested to the developers and may be included in the next update.

There are many ways that the interface can be used. To name just a few of the options: draft view, multiple view, and full screen. You can choose how you view your interface depending on how you prefer your workspace to look.

A compare view mode is particularly useful when it comes to revising your script as you can see what edits have been made between the two versions of the same script.

Trebly is a multi-platform software so no matter what device you use it on, your script will look the same.

And, because it uses an interface that is stripped back, using Trebly on different devices remains simple and easy. Ideal for beginners who may not have a dedicated screenwriting laptop or device.

Of course, Trebly uses industry-standard formatting with similar auto-complete tools like Final Draft and Fade In. It also uses powerful spell-checking software to ensure that your script remains professional.

As far as importing and exporting goes, Trebly holds its own.

As a beginner screenwriter, you are going to work with people who have used Final Draft most of the time. Luckily, Trebly allows writers to both import and export a script in the Final Draft formats so that your work opportunities are not limited.

There is no hidden cost with Trebly either as you can export an unlimited amount of scripts without a watermark or any lock features.

  • Almost no System requirements Easily ran on any windows computer.
  • Only on Windows no Apple
  • You cannot bold, italics, or underline anything

FREE BABY YEA!

7.) DramaQueen

There is no question that DramaQueen is home to the most impressive document import system currently on the screenwriting market.

For all writers as well as screenwriters.

Final Draft, Word, PDFs, and a whole load of other file formats can be imported into the DramaQueen software for free.

The software can recognize scene divisions and will create an outline from your scenes, saving you the hassle of doing it yourself.

DramaQueen can also read a Final Draft document and pick put the locations and characters to transfer them into a new script breakdown in DramaQueen’s software. But, most impressively, the software transfers any notes that were made on the Final Draft script onto the new script.

With the option to change your script’s background color, text color, and a whole lot more, you can create a layout that you feel comfortable writing in. Imported documents will also adhere to any changes that you have made.

If you are starting a script from fresh, then DramaQueen can help you speed up the writing process by recognizing the previous line of script and auto-formatting the next.

There is no need for you to figure out formatting keyboard shortcuts as DramaQueen figures it out for itself.

Writers can also structure a story from scratch using unique in-software tools.

Any research materials, inspiration images, or shot types can also be collected and stored in one place for you to refer to during your planning and writing.

Like other software, you can generate script statistics and reports to help in the next stage of production. However, unlike other software, there is no limit to the number or length of projects that you can use the software for.

So, if you want to write a TV series, then you can do so while still accessing statistics and reports for each episode.

  • You can import anything from the final draft
  • You can customize anything in this program down to the color of it.
  • Unlimited scripts for free
  • For a free software this good whats a con really

DramaQueen FREE Unlimited projects

Final Draft import
Idea collection panel
4 formatting techniques
Media storage

DramaQueen PLUS 3 – $99 one-time payment Script structure

guidance
Customizable layouts
Revision tracking and comparison

8.) Movie Magic Screenwriter

There is an array of reasons that Movie Magic Screenwriter is the software preferred by the Writers Guild of America (West).

More than 100 templates that have been constructed by professional scriptwriters give writers a starting base for a whole array of purposes – from film to graphic novels.

8 of Movie Magic Screenwriter’s templates are instructional, with the sole aim of educating beginners on how to properly use the software and format their own scripts.

As well as these, the software has a vast collection of example scripts from a range of media. Users can look at these scripts as case studies or for inspiration.

Getting into that writing flow can be difficult, but Movie Magic uses a NaviDoc interface that lets you see all your planning documents like your scene cards and outlines while you write. If you find all the additional documents to be too busy and distracting, then you can easily customize the interface to make you feel more comfortable.

You can also use colors to categorize any notes you may make throughout your script which disappears as soon as you begin typing again.
A speech-to-text feature allows you to give your hands a break without having to halt progress on your script! Don’t worry if the feature causes spelling errors as Movie Magic Screenwriter is fully equipped with spelling and grammar checking software, preventing embarrassing spelling mistakes.

A dictionary and thesaurus are also accessible through the software to help you expand your writing possibilities.

Collaboration is made easy with Movie Magic Screenwriter via its online method. If you are connected to the internet, you will be able to work with other writers in real time.

Movie Magic Screenwriter provides script reports that match what is expected in the film world.
Call sheets, script breakdowns, etc can be generated automatically with color codes to help the production team navigate your script. Using software with color-coded breakdowns is a great tool to have and will help the filmmaking process run way smoother.

  • Easy to use Templates for begginner writers.
  • Example scripts already in the program.
  • Text to speach writing.
  • High price but at least its a one time payment only.

Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 – $169 one-time payment Access to everything

9.) Highlander 2

Any aspiring screenwriter will know of John August (he made Charlie’s Angels, Corpse Bride). August developed Highland as a screenwriting software focused on writing rather than the intricateness of formatting and structure.

The layout of Highland is purposely kept very simple with the writing screen being the focus of the software.

Keyboard shortcuts and entirely customizable interface themes mean that you can create a workspace that isn’t overwhelming.

Even the revision and note-taking modes are customizable! You can colorize your revisions so that they are easier to compare with later edits. Any notes that you take can also be organized using an array of colors.

A navigational bar to the side allows the user to keep track of any notes, outlines, and scenes without having to flick between documents.
Scenes can also be re-ordered through the navigational bar with a simple drag and drop. These scenes will then be automatically changed in your script, saving you a lot of tedious work in the long run.

There are 14 templates available to get writers started. 4 of those are script-based. Another 1 is a treatment template for when you start thinking about pitching your story.

Highland was the first screenwriting app to include gender analysis in its reporting arsenal. Along with a word analysis tool and the ability to retain throw-away ideas in the bin section, Highland offers all the tools a screenwriter could need to create an easy editing process.

Try not to be too overwhelmed by all of Highlands’s features. When you open up a template, a mock script will load which acts as a tutorial on how to use both the interface and your chosen template.

Perhaps the most satisfying part of Highland though is its goal setting. It can be hard as a beginner to motivate yourself to write that first page, but Highland lets you set a page or word count goal for each script you write. Every time you complete that goal, Highland adds it to a statistical report so that you can look back and be proud of how far you have come.

  • You can track your work time with the sprint feature
  • Gender analysis feature (Test how many speaking parts you have for each character)
  • Self design your own personal screen theme
  • The free version is watermarked
  • Mac only

Highland Basic Unlimited number of projects

Highland watermark
Access to 5 templates
Navigational tools
Light and dark themes
Gender analysis

Highland Pro – $69.99 one-time payment Access to all 14 templates

Watermark free
Revision mode
Word analysis
Customizable themes

10.) Celtx

Even though it is a software mainly used by pre-production companies, Celtx provides writers with various tools to help them navigate the writing process.

No one expects you to understand the structure of a script when you first start writing. Celtx lets teach you how a script is supposed to look and flow via its array of pre-loaded templates.

If you decide that your story is better as a TV script rather than film halfway through writing, then you can quickly switch over to a new template. All of your writing will automatically convert into the new format without you having to re-write the whole script.

Do you write better when you have visuals? No problem! Celtx allows you to seamlessly drag and drop images into your script, providing you with a dedicated space to visualize how a specific shot needs to look thoroughly.

Or, if you don’t want the images in your script but want to keep an image close at hand, you can use the visual storyboard feature to plan out your script shot for shot. This is a great tool to use when still learning how a script translates to the screen.

Instead of limiting your work to one device, Celtx operates through a cloud database, meaning that you can continue writing on any device. Depending on the plan you choose, you can also access your work offline. Perfect for when that inspiration strikes and you’re stuck studying in the library.

Celtx splits its tools into three categories: write, plan, and shoot. Every category contains all the documents you may need to take your story from script to screen.

Most of the production documents are automatically filled out as you write your script. So, half of the work is already done when you are ready to move on to the next production stage. This makes it perfect for beginners who want to try writing and producing their work.

  • Almost no System requirements Easily ran on any windows computer.
  • Only on Windows no Apple
  • You cannot bold, italics, or underline anything

FREE BABY YEA!

Concluison

Again my recommendation is Arc Studio for the best screenwriting software for beginners. It has been by far the best experience I’ve had so far as a screenwriter. With Final Draft being the best for professionals.

I want to hear your thoughts:

Which of the mentioned software do you use the most?

Is there any other screenwriting software you would recommend for beginners?

Whatever your answers are let’s hear them in the comments below.

10 Best Screenwriting Software for Beginners to Professionals

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