Are you trying to jumpstart your creativity by deciding which is the best screenwriting software for you?
I’ll say it now. Professional screenwriting is 100% necessary.
If you’ve used a program like Microsoft Word or AI writers to write your script, it’s almost certain your masterpiece won’t even get a second glance, let alone be read.
Production companies want your writing in an industry-standard format, and for that you need a proper screenwriting app coupled with a grammar checker.
Furthermore, word processors simply don’t have the right features for creating scripts, and don’t forget about proofreading the work as well.
The software isn’t designed for this purpose and lacks everything you need to think creatively, organize and outline your ideas, and develop your story workflows.
I’m currently writing an award-winning (maybe), blockbuster (probably) script and decided to thoroughly test five of the best screenwriting software tools.
You know what?
The writing process became SO much easier AND a lot more fun.
So, if you want to write killer screenplays check out the features and tools you are missing out on.
What is the best Screenwriting Software of 2023?
There’s loads of screenwriting software out there but these are my top picks for 2023:
- Best for beginners: Celtx
- Best for PC: Final Draft
- Best for iPads: Arc Studio
- Best Free: WriterDuet
- Best for Mac: Fade In
Best for Beginners
Discount: Save 10% by paying annually
Promotion: Try for free with 1 project
Celtx at a glance 👇
- Industry-standard script writing software
- Compatible with Max iOS and Windows devices
- Easy, intuitive platform that is quick to pick up
- Frame scenes with the storyboard feature or plan beats with index cards
- Powerful pre-production tools like shot lists, scene by scene breakdown, and location scouting
- Perform real-time collaboration with other writers and simplify script changes with revision tracking
- Use the platform for film, games, education, and business
Celtx Outstanding Features
Celtx is an industry-standard, cloud-based platform and is trusted and used by millions of writers. It has loads of tools and features at your disposal to take you from idea conception right through to production. Most notably, its collaboration ability really shines.
The interface is simple and intuitive so you can get to grips with it right away making this an ideal screenwriting tool for newbies.
✅ Full Collaboration Capabilities
Celtx has been designed for collaborative writing and thus has a lot of collaboration features that make it simple to do so. It’s cloud-based so anyone can work on it anywhere in the world.
Script anchored feedback lets others see what you think of specific sections of text while you can view and access full revision tracking. If you need to revert back to a previous version of the script – no problem.
Use the Presence Awareness tool to see who’s working on the script in real-time and fully control editing and sharing permissions.
✅ Index Cards
Versatile index cards let you create and organize notes onto a virtual corkboard. Drag and drop them at will to quickly rearrange them as you brainstorm.
If you’re in the beginning stages of story development and are creating a story outline, this is a fab tool for getting rough scenes together. Sort your notes in a general section or arrange them by scene.
You have an unlimited amount of cards at your disposal so you can let your ideas fly.
- Writer: $14.99/mo or $13.49/mo billed annually
- Writer Pro: $24.99/mo or $22.49/mo billed annually
- Team: $59.99/mo or $53/mo billed annually
Try for free with one script, three PDF exports, and limited commenting.
Customers say this is a great and affordable platform for screenwriting that’s perfect for beginners to this world.
They love how easy it is to operate, the collaboration tools and helpful features such as auto-formatting.
Is Celtx worth it?
Overall, Celtx is a comprehensive screenwriting program specifically geared towards the new user. I think you get a huge range of tools at your disposal for a low price making this a great value product.
Even its advanced features are simple to grasp and you can immediately start the creative process without having to jump through hoops trying to understand how it works.
Best of all you can give it a try with one of your scripts for free. Why not give it a go?
2. Final Draft
Best Screenwriting Software for PC
Discount: Currently on sale for $159.99
Promotion: 30-day free trial
Final Draft at a glance 👇
- The number one selling industry-leading software used by 95% of the film industry
- Full pagination for correct industry formats
- Over 300 templates for screenplays, teleplays, comics, immersive storytelling, graphic novels, and stage plays
- Compatible with Mac and Windows or use the mobile app for Android, iPad, and iPhone
- Beat board with limitless space, outline elements and outline editor for brainstorming and script outlining
- Scriptnotes for adding comments on the fly
- Unicode support in over 97 languages
Outstanding Features & Recent Updates
Final Draft is at the top of its game and has perfected its features to become the leading software used by Hollywood production management. It has recently upgraded its platform to Final Draft 12 which includes a massive range of new and improved features.
If you get hit by creative inspiration while on the go, you can use the Final Draft app and never miss an idea. Plus the range of trademarked tools make writing faster, more creative, and fun.
✅ Huge Range of Templates
Final Draft has a huge range of templates which are already formatted and set up, ready for you to write in. There are currently over 300 to choose from and the platform has just introduced templates for podcasts.
Whether you’re writing text for screenplays, teleplays, comics, immersive storytelling, graphic novels, and stage plays, you can get started quickly with a Final Draft template.
✅ Final Draft 12 Upgrade
The Final Draft upgrade has introduced loads of smart features to make writing lightning fast. It includes an auto-format feature which formats your text as you write. The new SmartType tool lets you input commonly used words without touching the mouse.
All the original Final Draft features have been enhanced and improved plus you have the addition of Send to Script on the Beat Board which automatically transitions your outline into the script. You can now also replace characters or words with one click on the Beatboard among other great new abilities.
For the full rundown of all the awesome new features, check them out here.
Final Draft Pricing
- Final Draft is available for a one-off fee of $249.99 (standard price). However it is often on sale.
- If you want to use it for Android and iPhones, the app costs $9.99
- If you already have and use Final Draft, you can upgrade to Final Draft 12 from $64.99
Try before you buy with a free 30-day trial.
Final Draft Reviews
Reviews say this is a super comprehensive platform with a tonne of awesome features.
They love that they can access the same software used by industry professionals and appreciate the abundance of templates
Is Final Draft worth it?
Final Draft is the gold standard for budding and professional filmmakers alike. While the platform is user-friendly, the sheer amount of features may not be so beginner-friendly and require more of a learning curve.
However I love the app and think this is a great addition to the tool. For the one off cost (that is pretty cheap) I’d say you can’t do much better than Final Draft.
See for yourself how good Final Draft is and sign up for the 30-day free trial.
3. Arc Studio
Best Screenwriting Software for iPad
Price: Free (paid plans also available)
Discount: $70 off Pro plan for students
Arc Studio at a glance 👇
- Industry-standard formatting included
- Clean and simple interface with autocomplete and shortcuts for quick writing
- Automatic backups and revision tracking
- Cloud based software for full on and offline working capabilities
- Arc Studio Plot Board for structure building and outline referencing
- Virtual writers room for collaboration and idea sharing
- Free plan available that lets you create up to two scripts
Outstanding Features & Recent Updates
Arc Studio is a popular screenwriting software that likes to keep things simple. While it has everything you need to create perfectly formatted scripts, you won’t find an overload of features to distract you.
The software supports old file formats too so if you have an ancient script you want to revisit, you can get it up and running easily. Using drag-and-drop you can create your story maps and boards in moments and color code them for ease of reference.
The iPad and iPhone app also lets you create on the move.
✅ Distraction Free Interface
Arc Studio prides itself on providing a super streamlined, clean interface that minimizes distractions as much as possible. You have minimal options on the left while the full-screen text page allows you full immersion into the task.
If you want to switch to the storyboard or other area, you can hit the option on the left and you’ll switch to this task.
✅ Auto Formatting and Shortcuts
Studio Arc auto formats as you write, runs spell check in the background and auto-saves.
You can also create keyboard shortcuts and dropdown menus so you can input common words, character names, and phrases without having to manually type them or search for the info.
When you get to the end of your docs, the editing required is extremely minimal so you’re pretty much ready to go.
Arc Studio pricing
- Free plan: Up to two scripts with watermarked PDFs
- Arc Studio Essentials: $69/year with all tools and unlimited scripts
- Arc Studio Pro: $99/year with all tools, unlimited scripts, and collaboration abilities
Arc Studio reviews
(Source: Apple App Store)
Customers love having the ability to create scripts and screenplays anywhere on their iPads and iPhones. They love the friendly support team and how easy the platform is to use.
Is Arc Studio worth it?
Arc Studio is worth it if you are a Mac or iPad user. Unfortunately, right now, there is no Android version of the app available.
If you’re looking for something uncomplicated that just lets you write, this is a neat and inexpensive platform to use.
Give it a whirl and sign up to its free plan.
Best Free Screenwriting Software
Price: From $9.99
Discount: Save 25% by paying annually
Promotion: Free plan available
WriterDuet at a glance 👇
- Free plan lets you get started without using a credit card
- Industry-standard software used by over 1 million writers
- Real-time collaboration with text and video chat included
- Write on the same script simultaneously as other
- Full revision history, individual line history and an edit-by-edit timeline
- Import scripts from other writing platforms such as Scrivener, Squibler, Studiobinder, etc.
- Listen to your script out loud with computer generated voice
Outstanding Features & Recent Updates
WriterDuet has an impressive array of features and most can be used for free for your first three scripts.
The real-time, simultaneous collaboration feature is a real time-saver since you don’t need to wait for someone to stop writing before you start.
You get full flexibility over file types too as you can import or export virtually any kind of file. Perfect if you’re working with someone using outdated software.
✅ Listen to Your Script
Distinct computer voices will bring your script to life and allow you to hear it out loud. This helps you understand what your words sound like in a real situation and makes it easier to adjust your scripts for a more natural flow.
✅ Simultaneous Collaboration
Most screenwriting tools have a degree of collaboration but WriterDuet’s simultaneous writing features really stand out.
Two of you can work on the same script and view the changes being made in real-time. A handy chat box allows you to give instant feedback to each other.
If you work remotely, this is super valuable for efficient working.
- Free plan: Get started with no credit card required. Develop up to three scripts with limited tools
- Plus plan: $9.99/mo or $7.49/mo paid annually. Unlimited projects and real-time collaboration
- Pro Plan: $11.00/mo or $8.99/mo paid annually. More control with editing, writing, and revising
- Premium: $13.99/mo or $10.49/mo paid annually. All tools at your disposal
Reviews say this is one of the best and most affordable writing softwares available and that the free plan is the most generous.
Is WriterDuet worth it?
If you’re stepping into the world of screenwriting for the first time, this is a great way to get a feel for everything for free. There’s a whole host of tutorials available to help you understand what’s going on so you can play to your heart’s content.
However, I’d say that overall Celtx is better than Duet for beginners so once you’ve got the feel for writing with the free version, you might want to move over to Celtx.
That’s just my opinion though, so why not find out for yourself with the WriterDuet free plan?
5. Fade In
Best Screenwriting Software for Mac
Discount: Currently on sale for $79.95
Promotion: Free version available
Fade In at a glance 👇
- Industry-standard software developed by a writer for writers
- Compatible with all Apple Mac devices, Windows, and Linux
- Fade in mobile app for Apple and Android devices
- Auto-formatting and transitioning and autocomplete typing
- Full image support
- Use index cards to organize, mark and color code significant sequences, plot points, themes, characters, and other story elements
- Cloud storage and open file formatting options
- Page only interface for minimal distraction
Outstanding Features & Recent Updates
Used by a multitude of professional writers, Fade In was designed and developed by screenwriter Kent Tessman who knows exactly which features and tools writers need.
The platform is a no-fuss, easy to use and efficient tool for fast and creative writing.
✅ One-Off Fee
Once you’ve bought and paid for Fade In you have access for life at no extra cost. Better still, you automatically receive all improvements and feature additions for free.
For example, check out the above image. These were all the improvements and additions for October 22. These updates seem to occur on a bi-monthly basis.
Overall, this is one of the most affordable, fully-equipped writing platforms available.
✅ Full Image Insertion Capabilities
A nice feature is the ability to add images to your script. Whether you want a nice visual for your title-page, or to enhance the scenes by inserting images into your scenes, you can easily do it with Fade In.
This helps visualize scenes better and brings them more to life.
Fade In pricing
Fade in costs $99.95 for lifetime access. It’s also often on sale for $79.95 and you can also take advantage of a free trial.
Fade In Reviews
Customers love how good value this platform is and the range of tab-based autoformat options you get. They also think the interactive scripts with image and video capabilities are a nice touch.
Is Fade In worth it?
If you’re on a budget and want all the features that are missing with free software, Fade in is for you.
It’s got everything you need for full script breakdowns, outlines, ideas, and more plus some decent additional features to enjoy.
Why not get started for free with the Fade In trial?
What is the Best Screenwriting Software?
The best screenwriting software is a specially designed word processor specifically for writing screenplays.
It consists of a platform with tools and features that allow you to write, format, and organize your ideas and transform them into a screenplay that conforms to the industry standard.
Key features to consider when choosing the Best Screenwriting Software
There is an abundance of screenwriting software options out there but many lack the tools you need to be productive when writing screenplays.
When choosing the best screenwriting software, look out for the following features.
1. Is it Compatible With Other Screenplay Formats?
It’s standard practice to send your screenplay to other people for feedback and insight as well as producers and other professionals. Therefore the script format must be compatible with other types of screenwriting software.
When looking at options, choose a screenwriting program that states it is compatible with other programs so you can be sure others will have no problem accessing the document.
2. Does it Conform to Industry Standards?
Your screenplay won’t ever get read unless it conforms to industry-standard formatting and pagination. You must therefore ensure that any software you choose, clearly says it meets these standards.
3. Does it Aid The Creative Process?
Screenwriting tools should be easy to grasp and use. If they’re cumbersome and complicated, you will spend more time frustrated rather than being creative.
Most screenwriting platforms offer a free trial so take advantage of a few to see which user interface you prefer.