Screenwriting Software Comparison
There’s a huge variety of screenwriting software nowadays. All of it does its best to free you from the daunting writer’s chores, like having to think about font sizes, margins, spacing and whatnot, and let you concentrate on the creative part of the process. And although Romeo and Juliet was written just with a help of a parchment, some ink and a quill, Shakespeare didn’t have to give in his plays to studios, deal with producers, follow the writer’s guild standards and so forth.
Hence, let’s try to compare the most popular screenwriting programs
to see which of them suit to the maximum your personal resources and writing style.
If you are really reluctant to pay for the screenwriting software, you can, by trying really hard, turn your Word into one. Sort of.
Well, Word is the most popular word-processor. And by following a set of tutorials you might create your own template (the custom one isn’t very helpful) by setting up margins and spacing manually and then punch them in with the help of hotkeys you’ve created. But that’ll be the most you can get out of it.
109$, comes in the package with Microsoft Office. But most possibly you have the latter installed already.
Pros: Great for word-processing. Availability.
Cons: Almost everything else.
You surely can use Word as a scriptwriting tool. But unless you want to waste your time and stain your nerves, stay away from it.
The biggest player on the market so far. The slogan says “Just add words”, and it’s very true. The two commands you are going to use for the most time are TAB and ENTER. Final Draft takes care of the rest, and offers, if needed, a wide range of additional tools.
Other than elegantly formatting your script, adding all the MOREs and CONTINIEDs, Final Draft auto-fills the sluglines and character names that were already used, offers a handy Outline and Index Card views and many more. ScriptNotes feature lets you hide your ideas directly in the script and open them in a pop-up window. CollaboWriter lets you work on the same script online with other writers. And there’s even a huge base of character names (there are 90.000 of them), in case you’re having a hard time coming up with one.
The most powerful and exclusive feature here is undoubtedly Tagger 2 that lets you break down the script for all the production departments. The report function is extremely useful. There’s also a great function for revising the screenplay after it’s been locked - new content will be added in distinctive colored pages.
249$ (199$ when on sale)
Pros: Contains all the necessary features for maximum work efficiency.
Cons: The price is surely unacceptable for aspiring filmmakers.
Highly customizable and compatible with multiple devices and formats, Final Draft is a sure choice for professionals. Expensive, but worth every single dime.
Movie Magic Screenwriter
Second of the two mastodons in the scriptwriting software business, hard to differ from Final Draft by the amount of possibilities offered. If you ask around, industry professionals will be praising one of those, depending on which one they are used to be working with.
Besides doing all the formatting for you with the abovementioned ENTER and TAB system, creates an outline of your script, lets you navigate easily through the scenes and change their order. Has an excellent built-in dictionary. Comes with an iPartner tool to collaborate with other writers through internet in real time. Also contains a comprehensive Cheat function, that gives you an ability to slightly change margins and spacing while still staying within the guild standards. Another very useful feature helps you write a two-character dialogue with ease, just by pressing the SHIFT+TAB combination.
Besides a set of handy functions, like creating breakdowns for various crew members and color-coded revisions, can export your script for further dissection in the dedicated production software.
199$ (169$ when on sale, 120$ for the academic version)
Pros: Fast, easy and configurable.
Cons: Can become a bit convoluted when writing a feature with many scenes.
A very versatile piece of software indeed. All minor differences aside, choosing between Movie Magic Screenwriter and Final Draft is a matter of taste.
Arguably the most widespread scriptwriting program which is virtually free. Of course, you can buy a Plus version for 15 bucks to get access to the additional options, as well as purchase mobile apps, but it’s not at all necessary.
Easy formatting - just as with the big-time software. Multiple templates of formats that can be converted into one another. Auto-fill function and index-card view. A possibility of online collaboration. The rest of the tasty writing features are hidden within the Plus version, like different views of a story outline, to get a different perspective while writing.
All the set of features here, including the ability to import storyboards, create script breakdowns, call sheets and many other scheduling documents. It is possible to go all the way through production just with the tools CeltX offers. But not recommended.
0$ (15$ for the mobile apps; 10$ per month for the full-featured online workspace, subscription to cloud services and such)
Pros: Has all you need to format and outline a script. Simple and free!
Cons: Most production tools are there, but still greatly concede to what the big players have to offer.
Probably the best choice for newcomers. Great for scriptwriting, equally unsuitable for everything else.
If you’re still unsure as to what piece of screenwriting software better fits your needs, you might want to look into some of the most promising newcomers on the market, namely: Adobe Story, Trelby, Fade In, Dreamascript and Movie Draft.