10 Best (FREE & PAID) Screenwriting Software in 2021 – Definitive Guide

The screenwriting software is designed to understand the Screenplay Language and improve efficiency as well as the speed of writing.
Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Script writing in Microsoft Word, Text Editor and Notepad is possible! But that is not the best way, if you are a serious screenwriter.

The Corey Mandell says, every year there are millions of people who choose writing as their career but only 20% of them (approximately 200,000) are truly committed enough over the long haul to put in the countless hours of hard work required to succeed.

And, as written on Scriptmag, only 2,000 writers (one percent of 200,000) able to write really good-to-great scripts, and another 8,000 writers (four percent of 200,000) put out good scripts.

In order for you to be successful, a dedicated Screenwriting Software can help a lot. It takes care of script formatting and lets you focus on writing so that ideas will flow from your brain to the page as easily and fast as possible.

Why to choose a Screenwriting Software?

This software is designed to understand the Screenplay Language and improve efficiency as well as the speed of writing.

One of the main reasons for having this software with you is the availability of bunch of templates that makes life easier.

Basically, a Screenwriting software is capable of Auto-typing, Spell and Grammar check. But in contrast to the common word processing tools, it is capable of

  1. Automatic script formatting based on screenplay language
  2. SmartType
  3. Outlining
  4. Mind mapping
  5. PDF import and export
  6. Revision history
  7. Storyboards
  8. Progress tracker
  9. Report generating tools
  10. Cloud storage
  11. Real-time collaboration with your team
  12. And more….

BOOM! Lot of features, I know!

So understand that normal word processors cannot withstand the special needs of a Professional Script Writer.

Overall it is an excellent tool to write error-free and compelling scripts as fast as possible.

Benefits of using a Screenwriting Software

They offer intuitive and easy-to-use interface with complete knowledge of scene headers, “Int” and “EXT”.

Ex. If you will type the name in all caps, the software understands it as a character name. So, getting the text in the center of the line and automatically entering next line as a dialogue.

Scriptwriting Software Interface - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com
Screenplay Language Formatting

You can quickly map ideas, analyze, and organize scripts. Few Screenwriting software on this list comes with Production Management Suite for the people with additional responsibilities.

In this article, we have rounded-up the list of best Screenwriting software designed and used by professional scriptwriters.

List of Screenwriting Software

  1. Final DraftBest Overall
  2. Movie Magic Screenwriter
  3. StudioBinderBest Free
  4. CeltxEditor’s Choice
  5. HighlandBest for Mac
  6. Fade In
  7. WriterDuetBest for Team Collaboration
  8. Trelby
  9. Slugline

Now without any further ado, let’s start,

1. Final Draft

Final Draft - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Discussion about the best Screenwriting Software is incomplete without mentioning the Final Draft. It is the film industry standard for script writing!

Final Draft was launched back in 1990 by scriptwriter Marc Madnick and software engineer Ben Cahan.

This software has attracted a huge fan base and every Screenwriting Software in the market is compared with Final Draft in terms of functionality to see if it is meeting the industry standards or not.

Is it Worth trying?

With Final Draft auto-formatting of scripts is a breeze. It offers SmartType feature that display a dropdown menu each time you type initials of a scene header, location, and character name.

Also, it includes around 300+ templates!

The Final Draft has an intuitive interface with auto backup, real-time team collaboration, alternate dialogue, story map, beat board, and more to organize your script ideas.

This program can be used in pre-production management as well.

It packs special reporting tools to analyze actors and scenes. The price of this software is $249 (one-time purchase). If you wish to test the Final Draft, then there is a 30-DAY TRIAL version available.

Benefits

  • Compatible with Windows & Mac OS
  • Team collaboration
  • iPhone app
  • Production management tools
  • Excellent reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • No Android App

2. Movie Magic Screenwriter

Movie Magic Screenwriter - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Movie Magic Screenwriter is the biggest rival of Final Draft. They both offer very similar features!

Together they are known as the “Big Two” of the industry. It is the oldest software launched in 1983 sold by Write Brothers. Formatting movies, television, novels, stage plays and even comic book scripts is a breeze.

This Movie Magic Screenwriter is the winner of Academy Technical Achievement Award for screenwriting software.

Is it Worth trying?

It will automatically format your script to industry standards.

In contrast to Final Draft’s organizing tools (story map and beat board), the Movie Magic Screenwriter offers a custom NaviDoc Interface to outline and display notes, scenes, bookmarks, etc.

There are hundreds of templates for stage plays, teleplays, musicals, comic books, novels, short stories, etc.

Movie Magic Screenwriter can be easily synced with other production management programs.

Benefits

  • Compatible with Windows & Mac OS
  • Team Collaboration
  • Production management tools
  • Excellent reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • No Android & iPhone app

3. StudioBinder

StudioBinder - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

This Screenwriting Software is a new rising star in the film industry.

StudioBinder is an all-in-one solution to manage photo, video, TV, and film production workflow through a centralized location.

Sidenote: As this is a Web App program, you can access it through the Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.

It offers excellent production management and reporting tools.

Is it Worth trying?

With its easy-to-use and intuitive interface writing and syncing your scripts is a breeze.

StudioBinder is excellent at managing locations as well as cast and crew, sending call sheets, and team collaboration.

This software is capable of tracking script elements like scenes and character names. So, making it very convenient in breaking down the script and creating storyboards.

Script writing service is FREE. But, if you wish to use their Production Management Suite then you have to pay monthly charges.

Benefits

  • FREE
  • Web app program
  • Team collaboration
  • Excellent production management suite
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • You must be connected to the internet to use their Web app

4. Celtx

Celtx - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The Celtx stands for Crew, Equipment, location, Talent, and XML. It is an impressive tool for taking a film from script to shoot.

In the initial days the it was a free Screenwriting Software. But today, to enjoy their services you need to pay $10/month.

Along with the screenwriting, this software is highly popular as an excellent real-time team collaboration tool.

Is it Worth trying?

The Celtx can import scripts from PDF, Word Document, and other screenwriting software like Final Draft.

It packs auto script formatting, revision tracking, script breakdown, storyboards, index cards, and offers an excellent customer support.

You can use this software as a budget-friendly alternative to the Big Two, Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter software.

In contrast to the Final Draft which is available at $249 for lifetime, the Celtx is a monthly paid software service and will save your money if you plan to use a professional-grade screenwriting software for the period of one or two months.

Benefits

  • Budget-friendly
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS
  • Team collaboration
  • Production management tools
  • Reporting tools
  • Andoid and iPhone app

Drawbacks

  • We didn’t find anything!

5. Highland 2

Highland 2 - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Highland is a FREE screenwriting software and compatible only with Mac OS. The intuitive and easy-to-use interface of this software has attracted a huge fan base.

Highland’s Fountain file format can be opened and edited in any Text Editor. This feature makes Highland standout on this list.

You can use Sprint Feature to track how much time you take to get the job done.

Is it Worth trying?

Script auto-formatting with Highland is a breeze!

You can drag and drop scenes and notes for re-ordering them, create alternate scenes, breakdown scripts based on character names and gender, track revision, etc.

The PDF you will export will be watermarked in the free version.

The premium version of Highland costs $49 (one-time purchase) and offers perks like priority email support, ten built-in editor themes, 14 screenplay templates, etc.

Benefits

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Extremely easy to use
  • Compatible with Mac OS
  • iPhone app
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • Not compatible with Windows OS
  • No Android app

6. Fade In

Fade In - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

Fade In is an another budget-friendly alternative to the “Big Two” (Final Draft & Movie Magic Screenwriter).

You can download a fully functional demo for a limited time period. Premium version for desktop is available at the price of $79. To enjoy this software on your phone you need to purchase Android or iPhone app separately for $5.

It comes with the image import support which let you insert images into the document.

Is it Worth trying?

Similar to other screenwriters on this list, the Fade In offers auto-formatting, auto-typing, revision tracking, script breakdown, Cloud backup, and real-time team collaboration.

Also, it boasts few unique features like Dialogue Tuner for keeping consistent character voice, action to dialogue calculator, overused word counter, etc.

With an impressive easy-to-use interface, it also offers a bunch of useful templates for getting started quickly.

The Fade In can import scripts from Rich Text and other screenwriting software. You can export scripts into PDF format and Open Screenplay Format XML.

Benefits

  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS
  • Team collaboration
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • Mobile app needs to be purchased separately.

7. WriterDuet

WriterDuet - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The WriterDuet is popular as the best screenwriting software for team collaboration. Several people can work on the same line and see the changes in real-time.

It has a unique chatbox and commenting feature for flexible real-time communication with teammates.

Sidenote: This is a Web App program, you can access it through the Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.

Is it Worth trying?

The WriterDuet offers auto-formatting, revision tracking, asset tagging, alternate dialogue storage, Cloud backup, etc.

It is an excellent tool for teaching institutes!

WriterDuet is available for FREE with limited capabilities. To fully enjoy their service, choose from one of their paid plans starting at $7.99 per month.

Benefits

  • Web app program
  • Excellent team collaboration
  • Android and iPhone app
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • You must be connected to the internet to use their Web App

8. Trelby

Trelby - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The Trelby is a popular script writing software launched back in 2003 as “Blyte”.

In 2011, the owners renamed it as “Trelby” and made it an open-source software.

Is it Worth trying?

Trelby is free and beginner friendly. It offers an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.

Like most others on this list, the Trelby offers industry-grade automatic script formatting, auto-typing, spell checking, revision tracking, a full-screen mode, etc.

You can generate reports on character names, scenes, locations, and dialogues.

It allow you to import scripts from Final Draft, Celtx, Fountain, Adobe Story, and Fade In file formats. And export into PDF, Rich Text, Fountain, and HTML format.

Benefits

  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with Windows and Linux OS
  • Reporting tools

Drawbacks

  • Not compatible with Mac OS
  • No mobile app

9. Slugline

Slugline - Best Scriptwriting Software - ULTRAdvice.com

The Slugline is an excellent Screenwriting Software for Mac users. It is not compatible with Windows OS.

This software is developed with writing in mind, so it doesn’t include any production management features.

Is it Worth trying?

The program offers an extremely easy-to-use, intuitive and ready-to-type interface.

Although Slugline cannot compete with other Screenwriting Software on this list yet it is an excellent choice for beginners. The program uses the popular Fountain file format. You can have it on Mac as well as on the iPhone or iPad.

Script writing up to six pages is free! For scripts that are longer than six pages you need to pay $40. The iPhone app is available at the price of $20.

Benefits

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Compatible with Mac OS
  • iPhone app

Drawbacks

  • Not compatible with Windows OS

Conclusion

When it comes to Screenwriting Software, the “Big Two” is inevitable.

  1. Final Draft
  2. Movie Magic Screenwriter.

We highly recommend you to opt-in for Final Draft if you are taking script writing very seriously.

Celtx, and Fade In are the budget-friendly alternatives to the “Big Two”.

If you are looking for screenwriting software with the excellent Production Management tools, look no further and go ahead with StudioBinder.

Let’s wrap-up,

If you think I am missing any fantastic Screenwriting Software worth mentioning on this list, then comment below. I will look forward to adding it to this list.

Ryan Krock
Ryan is a tech enthusiast working for a Robotics E-commerce Company. He is an engineer and team leader. Loves to read the news, share his expertise and write. By being a technology geek experimenting with the mechanical and electronics stuff around him, he has gained a plethora of knowledge about how things work (and how to make things work!).