Script Writing Software: 5 Apps Better & CHEAPER Than Final Draft

Formatting a screenplay can be rough unless you write in an application that does it for you. This is where script writing software comes in. Now when working with script writing software the most important thing is that it saves you time so you can focus on the creative process.

Here’s a quick guide to five script writing programs I recommend.

Best FREE Script Writing Software: Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio goes beyond industry-standard screenplay formatting with beautiful design for distraction-free writing, creative story-building, real-time collaboration. Arc Studio can do everything Final Draft can do and so much more. And best of all, there’s a totally FREE version for browser-based screenwriting.

Click Here: Arc Studio Pro (Free)

 


The HartChart Storytelling App

A Dynamic, Everyday Writing Tool Created by Master Screenwriter James V. Hart & Francis Ford Coppola

Created by famed screenwriter James V. Hart, the writer behind films like Steven Spielberg’s Hook, Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula and Robert Zemeckis’ Contact. The HartChart is an indispensable story mapping tool to provide a practical, easy to use solution to your blank page fears and writing struggles. Import your existing scripts or start from scratch on a new story. As the HartChart enables you to analyze and visualize your character-driven narrative it will lead you through a process that helps you build a great story to a satisfying ending… every, single, time.

Click here for HartChart App ($89.95/year)

If you want to go deeper down the rabbit-hole with James you can check out his award-winning masterclass below.

Click here to gain instant access James V. Hart’s HartChart Masterclass


Highland:

Highland is the award-winning screenplay editor that lets you focus on the words, not margins. Designed by screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory) and his team, Highland is the better way to write movies and television. You write. Highland handles the formatting. Along the way Highland turns your words into a perfectly-formatted screenplay, ready for export as an FDX or PDF.

Quickly toggle between your text and your screenplay preview with ⌘-E, seeing your work in progress without your hands ever leaving the keyboard.You’ll love working in an editor designed for writing, not for mimicking a printed page. John August speaks in great detail on why he writes in Highland on his excellent podcast: ScriptNotes

Future-proof screenwriting

Fountain screenplays are simply text files. They’re never locked in proprietary file formats or dependent on obsolete software.

A screenplay written in Fountain will always be readable in any text editor, freeing you to write anywhere and on any device. It’s as easy as writing an email.

Notes you’ll actually use

Fountain notes live inside double brackets [[ ]] inline with your text. Hit ⌘-Y to quickly create a note in Highland. You’ll never miss a reminder, or lose an idea behind a tiny icon.

Learn more here: Highland & Fountain ($29.95)


Script It!

script-it-boxshotScript It! is the lite version of professional screenplay development software Movie Outline which was created by a produced writer to take the complexity out of the screenwriting process. While Movie Outline can be used by both the novice and professional writer, Script It! has fewer features but is ideal for the first time writer learning the craft of screenwriting. Both programs use the simple technique of step-outlining to build your screenplay scene by scene, allowing you to focus on each key event of your script without losing sight of the bigger picture.

Industry Standard Script Writing Software & Formatting

Focus on your screenplay and let Script It! handle the formatting through “Tab and Enter” keyboard shortcuts. Auto-complete guesses character names as you type dialogue, suggests scene headings and transitions and automatically paginates your script to industry-standard layout. Script It! also auto-converts elements as you type, so if you enter a scene introduction or transition, the text will change to the correct element, saving you even more time.

Outlining & Story Organization

Many novice screenwriters make the mistake of leaping head first into a full screenplay without taking the crucial first step of outlining their story – otherwise known as “step-outlining”. A step outline is essentially a step by step breakdown of your story into key events and this means that each “step” can consist of more than one “scene”. Script It’s intuitive design helps you build and navigate your outline, script and notes step by step through an AV remote-style console.

Glossary of Screenwriting / Filmmaking Terms & Definitions

For beginners learning the craft of screenwriting, or professionals with limited understanding of film-financing and production terminology, Script It! has a glossary with over 250 screenwriting and film-making definitions. As a screenwriter, you never stop learning and there is no substitute for reading shooting scripts of produced movies which are now freely available in PDF format on the web and can easily be downloaded for reference. You can then compare various writing styles and see the professional use of terms contained in the glossary.

Overall Script It! is a great software for screenwriting. For more info goto: Script It! ($49.95)


Scrivener

scrivener, script writing software, screenplay software, screenplay formatting software, screenplay, screenwriting, screenwriter, Fade in, Celtx, Script It!, Highland script writing software, Save the Cat Software, Aaron Sorkin, John AugustScrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

Writing a novel, research paper, script or any long-form text involves more than hammering away at the keys until you’re done. Collecting research, ordering fragmented ideas, shuffling index cards in search of that elusive structure—most writing software is fired up only after much of the hard work is done.

Enter Scrivener: a word processor and project management tool that stays with you from that first, unformed idea all the way through to the final draft. Outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your writing and compose the constituent pieces of your text in isolation or in context. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write—it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.

Scrivener puts everything you need for structuring, writing and editing long documents at your fingertips. On the left of the window, the “binder” allows you to navigate between the different parts of your manuscript, your notes, and research materials, with ease. Break your text into pieces as small or large as you want – so you can forget wrestling with one long document. Restructuring your draft is as simple as drag and drop. Select a single document to edit a section of your manuscript in isolation, or use “Scrivenings” mode to work on multiple sections as though they were one: Scrivener makes it easy to switch between focussing on the details and stepping back to get a wider view of your composition.

With access to the full power of the OS X text system, you can add tables, bullet points, images and mark up your text with comments and footnotes. Format as you go using the format bar at the top of the page, or use any font you want for the writing and let Scrivener reformat your manuscript after you’re done – allowing you to concentrate on the words rather than their presentation.

Who Uses Scrivener?

Scrivener is used by all sorts of professional and amateur writers, from best-selling and aspiring novelists to Hollywood scriptwriters, from students and academics to lawyers and journalists: anyone who works on long and difficult writing projects. While many other writing project management tools impose their own workflows or limit themselves to fiction-writing, Scrivener recognises that all writers of long-form texts often face similar problems, and provides an array of flexible tools that allow you to do things your way, no matter what kind of writing you do. Those currently using Scrivener include:

    • Screenwriters
    • Playwrights
    • Novelists
    • Short-Story Writers
    • Comedians
    • Journalists
    • Academics and Students
    • Comics and Graphic Novel Writers

Click here for Scrivener ($45.00)


BONUS: Save The Cat! The Last Story Structure Software You’ll Ever Need

save-the-cat-3_mediumThis is not a script formatting software but a hell of a story structure app. Structure your screenplay the Save the Cat! way, with the method used by one of Hollywood’s most successful spec screenwriters. Based on Blake Snyder’s best-selling book, Save the Cat! The Last Screenwriting Book You’ll Ever Need, this revised and updated software guides you through the complete story development process, step-by-step, from title to logline.

Use The Board, the fabled device seen in executive offices all over Hollywood, which allows you to “see” your movie when you create moveable, numbered, color-coded scene cards before you begin writing. The Board is broken down into four rows, 10 cards per row for a total of 40 (though you can add more) — a good average count for the number of beats in the average movie.

The Beats and Beat Cards – The scene cards that are automatically created for the 15 beats remain linked to the beat, so if you change the description for the beat, the description in the card changes—and vice versa. Plus, you can use these additional, optional beat cards on the Board from Save the Cat!® Strikes Back

      • 3 Set-Up Cards – one each for “At Home,” “At Work,” and “At Play”
      • Debate – “Home” and “Work”
      • Fun and Games – 4 cards, alternating between B Story and Fun and Games
      • “Internal” and “External” cards for Bad Guys Close In
      • 5 Finale cards for the elements of Blake’s Five-Point Finale: “Gathering the Team,””Executing the Plan,” “The High Tower Surprise,” “Dig Deep Down,” and “The Execution of the New Plan.”

Click here for more on: Save the Cat ! The Last Story Structure Software You’ll Ever Need ($29.95)

I love Save the Cat. Check out my mind-blowing interview with Jose Silerio from Save the Cat: IFH 071: Save the Cat – Screenwriting Story Structure Made Easy


Take a listen to the #1 Screenwriting Show on Apple Podcasts.

Oliver Stone, (Platoon, Scarface, Wall Street)

Eric Roth, (Forrest Gump, Dune, Benjamin Button)

John August, (Aladdin, Big Fish)

James V. Hart (Hook, Dracula, Contact)

Jim Uhls (Fight Club)

What Script Writing Software do You Use?

Everyone has their opinions on which is the best script writing software. I’d love to know your opinion. What do you like? What do you use? What doesn’t work for you? Let me know in the comments. Happy writing!


SCREENWRITING RESOURCES

  1. Bulletproof Screenplay Script Coverage Service – Get Your Screenplay Covered by Industry Pros
  2. The Foundations of Screenwriting: Writing for Television & Netflix
  3. BPS Presents: Writing for Emotional Impact (FREE AUDIOBOOK)

REAL-WORLD STREAMING SCREENWRITING EDUCATION

  1. Indie Film Hustle TV (On-Demand Real-World Screenwriting Education)
  2. Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
  3. The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters

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Please note some of the links on this page are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase or use a service. Understand that I have experience with all of these services, products, and companies, and I recommend them because they’re extremely helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to buy something.

 

 

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8 Comments

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