The 5 Best Scriptwriting Softwares 2019 (FREE & Paid)
INT. COMPUTER DESK – DAY
A NEW SCREENWRITER, young and ambitious but looking haggard, stares blankly at his computer screen, desperate to get started.
But the writer doesn’t know where to begin, or what application to open. Hopeless, he’s about to turn off his computer when…
Suddenly, their favorite online blog, SODA PDF BLOG, begins to enlighten the downtrodden writer.
SODA PDF BLOG
You’ve arrived at our best scriptwriting software review of 2019! Make sure to choose the right one for your skill level and goals. It could be the difference between landing in the read pile or the trash.
Hesitant, the New Screenwriter considers.
Erm, I don’t really know what I want. I need to know about price, features, and usability. Did you cover that?
Soda PDF BELLOWS gingerly as it beckons you to read further.
SODA PDF BLOG
Of course we do! These are the best script software out there. Your scenes, characters and plot lines will basically write themselves…sort of!
Awesome! I’ve been looking for a new scriptwriting software to instead of ‘Word’ for the longest time! You’re a life saver!
They embrace. New Screenwriter, thanks to his favorite blog Soda PDF, lives happily ever after. THE END.
How We Chose the Best Screenwriting Software
Features are what make the difference between becoming the next Francis Ford Coppola and staying “Budding young screenwriter”.
50,000 screenplays are registered each year with the Writer’s Guild of America. What’s going to get yours noticed?
Every program can format a script. But what about pagination, collaboration, and templates?
What about index cards?!
Features aren’t everything though. In fact, as a new writer, they might even hurt you. You can’t write the next Godfather if you can’t figure out how to format an action line.
We also focused on price, usability, and support among other things. Some screenwriting programs are great for films and others are better for video games.
Our top selection is far and away the best screenwriting software online these days, and if you’re serious about standing on stage at the Oscars, it’s worth the (Heavy) investment.
Without further adieu, the award for best screenplay (Writing software) goes to…
#1: The Best Scriptwriting Software 2019 – Final Draft
- Price: $249.99
- Free Trial: 30-day
- Best Features: Story map to plan better and write faster, unrivalled collaboration, seamless User Experience
Final Draft’s tagline sums up why this is the #1 software for screenwriting: “Used by 95% of film and TV productions”.
If we could marry one movie script writing software, it would be Final Draft. It’s patient, kind, loyal, and visually stunning.
No other software has won a Primetime Emmy for engineering! Features like Story Map, Beats, and drag-n-drop editing make writing and mapping out your story arc a breeze. All you do is add words, which should be easy enough for a scriptwriter to handle!
All this comes at a price though (Don’t worry, we have suitable and affordable alternatives below).
Some of the best features are:
- Auto formatting (Pagination, action, etc.)
- 300 templates for film, TV, stage, and even comics. Yes, it’s also a comic book screenwriting software!
- Real-time collaboration (Not common)
The instant formatting, collaboration, and templates collectively have one HUGE benefit for screenwriters: Brain saving.
Instead of wasting time wondering how to format, waiting for a co-author (That never shows up), or wondering which structure works best, Final Draft does it for you. You can save all that brain power for writing.
This sounds complex. Is Final Draft too complicated for new screenwriters?
No, absolutely not. Check out how clean the interface is:
Used by 95% of the film industry, this program is clean, simple, and full of features. Final Draft is the software for serious screenwriters. Hands down.
DID YOU KNOW?: The average length of a script is a shade over 106 pages, with horror being the shortest at 98.6 pages in length (SOURCE).
#2: Affordable Alternative to Final Draft – Movie Magic
- Price: $169 (PayPal Accepted)
- Free Trial: NO!
- Best Features: Side-by-side outlining/writing, simplicity, professional samples for inspiration
Movie Magic is about 30% cheaper than Final Draft, and still has all the features you need to crank out a Hollywood level film script.
If you’re still a starving artist, Movie Magic lets you keep enough cash in your pocket to buy noodles for the week (Talk about this in 10 years in an interview when you’re famous).
It’s endorsed by the Writers Guild of America East, so you know it’s still mega-quality.
Unlike Final Draft, Movie Magic displays your script alongside the outline, helping you quickly keep track of plot, character, and even individual scene arcs. Tracking the progress of each scene will help you write a smooth, logical narrative (So many new writers screw this up).
Why is Movie Magic endorsed by the Writers Guild of America East?
One word: Simplicity. No other software gets you from FADE IN to FADE OUT faster. Check out the bare bones interface:
Integrated outlines, index cards, script comparison features, and clean templates make writing your script fun and easy.
The coolest things are the sample screenplays and narrative arcs from pros. If you’re ever stuck, just use them as inspiration and you’re good to go.
Pet Peeve: We really don’t like the interface. It’s not bad, but it just looks like a 1990’s version of MS Word. That could be a good thing though.
#3: Budget Screenwriting Software – Fade In
- Price: $79.95
- Free Trial: Free demo version
- Best Features: Simplicity, auto-fill, distraction-free writing
There used to be only 2 big names in the scriptwriting software game.
Fade In has changed that, and Hollywood has quickly taken notice. Recognize any of these movies?:
- Rogue One
- The Last Jedi
All written with Fade In. Just sayin’.
This new entry into Hollywood has two major advantages over most other screenwriting programs: Focus and Pricing.
It’s less than half the price of Movie Magic and a full THREE TIMES cheaper than Final Draft.
And, of all the programs on the list, this one has the cleanest, most modern interface:
On top of auto formatting for smooth transitions, it even keeps track of character names and locations for as-you-type auto-completion. Remember when we said your screenplay will basically write itself?
We were talking about Fade In.
Of course the drawback is it doesn’t have as many features or tools for storyboarding, note taking, or collaboration. But that could be an advantage for new writers.
For one, the program basically NEVER crashes, and second, there’s very little learning curve.
Fade In is just affordable, powerful, distraction-free screenwriting. Check out the no-distraction writing mode:
#4: Best Free Software – Trelby
- Price: FREE
- Free Trial: N/A
- Best Features: Script stats, personalization, price
On a real tight budget? Trelby is the best free scriptwriting program out there.
It’s also the only open-source scriptwriting software on the list. In case you aren’t familiar with that, open source means that it’s not under copyright, and ANYONE can add on.
That means there are tons of awesome updates to extend the functionality, and a community of Trelby-holics to help you get the most out of the program.
Can you really write a good screenplay with free software?
Yes, of course you can. Trelby has everything you need to write a Hollywood standard script:
It also has some neat features:
- International name database (Now you’ll never struggle to write in a Russian villain)
- Scene reporting for review
- Complete personalization (You can change what the Enter and Tab buttons do)
Our favorite feature – aside from the price – is the Stats function. This breaks down everything from how many lines each character has to a graph that shows when each character is active in your script.
And all for FREE!
Of course the drawback is it’s pretty limited compared to paid programs, and the interface isn’t as easy on the eyes. Also, this is a big one for us, there are no BOLDS, UNDERLINES, or ITALICS. That, and there’s no collaboration.
Trelby is great if you need something free and love personalizing every little button. But we highly recommend going for a paid program if you can spare the dough.
Here’s another app that didn’t make the cut, but is worthy of your consideration just in case you want an alternative to test out for your scriptwriting needs.
Oh, and if you’re into writing for video games too, then you’ll find this app particularly helpful (and perhaps that will be another blog topic we’ll cover in the future!)
Celtx – A Complete Re-imagination of Scriptwriting
Celtx is more than a scripting program. It’s more than production software.
It’s a total re-imagination of storytelling as we know it. This is next-generation production at its finest.
This totally cloud-based system is an all-in-one solution for writing, planning, and collaborating. It’s really more like a futuristic VR script project management program than a screenwriting software. That’s why we weren’t sure where to even include it on this list.
Listen to this quote from the site: “Our new Game & VR editor enables writers to easily create nonlinear, decision-oriented narratives of unlimited scope”.
Honestly, THIS is probably the best video game scriptwriting software out there, especially for creating decision-based games.
As far as movie making goes, check this out.
This one tool lets you:
- Create an industry-standard script
- Plan with storyboards
- Break down the script and manage production
- Plan different shots and angles
- Schedule everything. Literally everything
- Plan a budget and stick to it
Check out the Storyboard capabilities:
In that way, it’s both an amazing screenplay writing program and complete overkill in one go. If you’re just starting out, this is way too much to write a screenplay. You’ll never be able to figure it out.
If you’ve got some experience or are a pro looking to expand their game – or a teacher (Celtx is popular with schools) – Give it a try. At $15/month, it doesn’t cost much to take a shot!
The best scriptwriting software comes down to your budget, needs, and quirks. Do you need all the bells and whistles or do you just want to focus? How experienced with screenplay software are you? How much money do you have to burn?
If you’ve got the money, we highly recommend Final Draft. Or, if you prefer the free-ish versions, try Fade In or Trelby. And for those looking to get a little wild, try Celtx.
And if you want to add comments to your script, or secure your screenplay with a password, or if you want to turn your script into a PDF, then be sure to check out Soda PDF for these features and a whole lot more!
Let us know which one helped you write your script, and give Soda PDF a shout when you’re famous! Try a FREE version of our PDF software today and see how we can help!