Celtx, Fade In, Final Draft, WritersDuet, with all these options it’s easy to wonder which are the best screenwriting software currently on the market.
As you know, writing a screenplay is not an easy task. As a writer, you’re too busy focusing on characters, story, and plot to have to think about formatting. That is when screenwriting software extremely become useful and time-saving.
But screenwriting software aren’t only great to do the formatting for you, they’re also a great tool to easily show you the number of lines you have per character, your act breaks, the number of scenes you currently have in your screenplay, and a lot more.
In our opinion, the all-time best screenwriting software is Final Draft. It’s easy and intuitive to use, and 95% of the entertainment industry chooses it. While pricing might be expensive, they constantly have special offers that are worth checking out.
But let’s take a look at more details of why that is and at the many other options you have available to write your award-winning screenplay.
1. Final Draft
Final Draft is the software everyone uses in Hollywood. It’s easy to understand and easy to use.
It comes with over 300 templates from graphic novels to features, TV, plays, and many more. The wide variety of templates makes it an incredible library of content for you to discover and have fun with.
Additionally, Final Draft offers beat boards to manage your notes easily from one place and visual story mapping, which are incredible tools. In fact, Final Draft offers the most complete Beat Board where each beat can be connected and color-coded. The Beat Board also has an option to outline your entire screenplay easily in a few clicks.
If you co-write, Final Draft works great while being used simultaneously from two different computers.
Final Draft also offers apps for iPhone and Ipad. You can sync between your laptop and the app to make sure you stay up to date on your current screenplay.
On the side of your script, you can also add script notes that appear as flags and can be read by anyone who opens your screenplay on their laptop on Final Draft. These notes are a great way to collaborate on your script with others or to make sure you remember a change you want to do in your next rewrite.
When it comes to typing on Final Draft, the software has an option for you to simply use the tab and enter keys to write your script the quickest and easiest way possible.
And maybe one of our favorite tools is the automatic backup folder that Final Draft has which allows you to protect your work with automatic file backups. There have been too many horrifying stories of screenwriters who lost the entirety of their work. That’s why we love automatic backups.
Lastly, with Final Draft, you are sure that if you have to send the working draft to a director or producer, they will be able to open the file and work from it since every working filmmaker has Final Draft in Hollywood. And if you’ve ever had a movie or show in pre-production, you know that color-codding in pre-production is a must!
As far as pricing, Final Draft is an expensive software. It’s actually the most expensive of the bunch. We would advise you to know for sure that you are committed to your craft before investing in Final Draft. The pricing starts at $199.99 with the special price, but they state online that their regular price is $249.99
If you are currently a student, you can get a great discount on Final Draft and pay only $99.99 for the full software. Additionally, you can update the software for a fee of $124 with every new update available.
You can check pricing for Final Draft and get it here.
Celtx is the software many screenwriters start on. It cost $10 per month and offers a 30-day free trial.
Celtx lets you arrange your scenes in index cards and gives you the possibility to track your revisions from one draft to another, which is a highly valuable tool.
It’s important to note that writers have reported having issues sometimes with Celtx when saving the file in PDF. The PDF format seems to cut some of the bottoms of the Celtx pages and create issues. Our understanding of why this has been happening is that Celtx seems to make the pages size smaller than usual screenplays do.
It’s also important to note that many writers have complained about Celtx having issues handling revisions or keeping track of them. It’s a much simpler software than Final Draft and has a lot fewer features available for writers.
It also takes more steps on Celtx to be able to create certain things that are easy on Final Draft such as front covers.
If you’re starting as a screenwriter or simply want to check out Celtx, you can do it here.
WriterDuet is mostly focused on real-time collaboration since all its settings and tools are geared toward teamwork.
An example of this is that WritersDuet offers text messages and video chats within the app.
To make it even more practical, this software is not tied to only one device like the others but it is accessible from any cloud to make collaboration extremely easy, even on the go.
Since WriterDuet is all about “gaining time” and “making things easy” they even offer the user the possibility to back up their script to Dropbox in one click.
WriterDuet comes with a free version that is quite limited. The plan to get access to all the collaborative features starts at $15.99 per month.
Check out WriterDuet here.
4. Fade In
Fade In comes with most of the options that other software have and supports many different templates. Additionally, Fade In is available in several languages which is an option that most software do not offer.
It’s also important to note that Fade In is the only software that has an app specifically for Linux users.
However, writers have reported that it takes them some time to they’re navigating Fade In’s interface with ease.
Fade In also offers an option to autocomplete typing which is a tool that completes sentences for you. The goal is to have you spend less time typing and more time writing.
As far as pricing, Fade In is free for the basic version. If you want to purchase the software, it will cost you $79.99 per license and doesn’t offer month-to-month subscription fee options.
Find out more about Fade In here.
5. Movie Magic Screenwriter
Movie Magic Screenwriter has been around for a long time. It has many features that the other software offer as well but the user interface shows quite an old-school design. We’re far away from the sleek Final Draft user interface.
One of the great features Movie Magic Screenwriter offers is spell check dictionaries for multiple languages. So it might be an option for you if you write screenplays in multiple languages.
Another great addition Movie Magic Screenwriter offers is that they let you see your script alongside your notes and scene cards, which makes it a lot easier to follow through your outline and notes when you write versus having to go from the script to the beat sheet.
However, it’s been reported that Movie Magic Screenwriter has a very unresponsive technical support.
Price-wise, Movie Magic Screenwriter costs anywhere from $169 to $249 with special prices for students.
If you’re into classics and want to try this one out, check Movie Magic Screenwriter here.
Squibler is the newest kid on the block. It’s an application that lets writers write screenplays and novels only.
Squibler is not using any tools that help manage the writing of your script. On the contrary, they took a stand by wanting to be purely a creative software for writers.
In order to focus on the creative aspect, they have put their efforts into a powerful script editor tool, and comprehensive lists that are all about the creativity of writing a screenplay or novel. Squibler also has an option that lets the writer journal on the app, something that again is very geared toward the creative aspect of writing versus the managing of it.
One of the big problems that have been reported with Squibler is that their font is not the industry standard of Courier size 12. That is seen as a big problem since a change in font can be quite unsettling for readers.
As far as price, Squibler has a 14-day free trial and then comes in at $9.99 for a monthly subscription plan. You can check more about Squibler here.
So Why Is Final Draft Still Considered The Best?
You’d be right to think “why does it matter since everyone wants to read the script in PDF anyway?”
The problem isn’t so much when the producers or filmmakers read your script, but once it enters production. When a screenplay enters production, the people involved will want to have the Final Draft version (especially the director), and that is when you will encounter issues with not having Final Draft.
Additionally, Final Draft is one of the very few software where you almost don’t need to use your mouse or menus, which keeps most writers in the simple flow of writing. With that application, it’s all about the shortcuts!
If it seems too expensive – which is understandable – we advise you to keep a look at their website. Final Draft offers special prices on a regular basis that might be worth it for you.
Final Draft is known as the number one selling screenwriting software in the world used by over 95% of the entertainment industry.
One of the reasons why Final Draft became the leader of all screenwriting software in this industry, is because they were the first ones to offer special rates to students, which is an incredibly valuable marketable asset. This has made a lot of students and schools download Final Draft. And those people never left the software, making it rise to the most used screenwriting software in the world.
Happy writing, where we focus on what matters most and let our software do the rest!
Article by Lena Murisier