How To Choose The Best Screenwriting Software
There's a little moment of anxiety that happens when a new screenwriter falls in love with the craft of screenwriting. It revolves around one question: How do I write a screenplay?
Do you write screenplays as a hobby? Is it your goal to be a professional screenwriter? Many new screenwriters fall somewhere in between, so choosing the right software can be a bit difficult. Read on for an analysis of the many options available. But bear in mind - at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you use, so long as it works for you and your creative process.
Here are 3 things to consider when choosing screenwriting software:
- Can it play friendly with other screenplay formats? If you want to send your script to a friend or a producer, will they be able to use it with their own software?
- Does it actually conform to industry-standard pagination and formatting (many cheap options do not)
- Is it intuitive and easy to use and does it facilitate your creative process?
Fair Warning: After trying many different screenwriting software options and even partnering with some of the most popular ones, the team at ScreenCraft unconditionally recommend WriterDuet ScreenCraft Edition - one of the best screenwriting applications (and there's a free version)! WriterDuet is relatively new to the industry, however it is already used and loved by top Hollywood professionals, such as writers of Kung Fu Panda, Community, Now You See Me, Men in Black and many more!
We are so impressed with WriterDuet that we have bundled our educational resources!
So, we may be a little biased, but read on for our analysis...
WRITE LIKE A PRO
The popular choice of the pros and aspiring amateurs alike has been the same for years: Final Draft. It's the most widely used screenwriting program available and for good reason. It's been around since the dawn of computers, and it's an application that takes formatting out of your mind leaving only your masterpiece behind. It also offers advanced features for productions. Having said that, Final Draft also has a lot of haters because it is an old program built on outdated technology. And why pay a hefty $200+ for a program which doesn't usually sit right with beginners who are just diving in. Thankfully, there are other high end programs in the pool. They're the ones floating somewhere between the shallow end for price and the deep end for features. Programs like WriterDuet, Celtx, Fade In Pro & Movie Magic are lower cost options that pack the same punch with minor differences here and there.
For the last two years we’ve been keeping our eyes on all the different screenwriting software options. In fact, in past years we’ve partnered with a couple of the most popular platforms, including Final Draft and Celtx - and we respect their products and the talented teams behind them. However we believe that screenwriting software should facilitate your creative process in the most intuitive and easy way while also delivering a professionally formatted screenplay according to Hollywood's longstanding industry standards. That’s why we’ve partnered to create WriterDuet ScreenCraft Edition, the most advanced screenwriting software available.
Want to try WriterDuet? Sign up here.
FEATURES, FEATURES, FEATURES!
What about base features? Every program will format your script, but what about consistent pagination and collaboration? What about switching from one format to another? Some come with tons of templates for every format you can think of. This is especially important if you plan on writing for television.
Do you like the idea of developing AND writing your screenplay using the same software? Make sure the software you choose includes outline features, index card and scene list options. There are also plenty of specialized apps (especially on mobile devices) that take you step by step through the development process. Check out Save The Cat or Truby Blockbuster for examples of this. You can also pickup apps like Character by Rhys Griffiths to help you hone your characters or Index Card to plot out your script scene by scene.
Full featured programs provide dictionaries and thesaurus support in addition to character name libraries and spell check. You'll also find unique format checkers used to eliminate extra line breaks and other common errors you may have missed. Looking to analyze every detail of your script? Higher end programs like Final Draft and WriterDuet offer a full range of reports that break down scenes, locations, characters and more.
Here are 4 things that the free version WriterDuet ScreenCraft Edition can do very well:
- Professional formatting & pagination – this is very important, and WriterDuet does this very well. In fact, a script written with WriterDuet can be saved as Final Draft format and opened in Final Draft (and vice versa) for seamless editing, while preserving all pagination and formatting.
- Import/export all major formats – you can play friendly with all major file types including Final Draft, Celtx, Fountain, and you can event import PDF files for full editing, all while preserving formatting and page count!
- Infinite, automatic revision tracking – this is an amazing feature! Gone are the days of saving countless versions of your script. With revision-tracking, all changes that you or a collaborator makes to your script will be tracked, and you can scrub back to any draft date or time to see earlier versions of the script.
- Seamless online collaboration – perhaps WriterDuet’s most celebrated feature. You can type with a partner on the same document in real-time (like Google Docs meets Final Draft). And best of all, you can share ideas via text chat or video chat while you write together. We’re thrilled to be facilitating creative partnerships around the world!
How some of the other software options fall short:
- no real-time collaboration
- no industry-standard pagination
- no import/export all other major formats
- not free
- no real-time collaboration
- no automatic revision-tracking
- no automatic backup to the cloud
- doesn’t work in other non-roman alphabet languages
- no import/export to all other major formats
- no split screen view with 2 or 3-wide script pages. (With WriterDuet you can view prior pages to the left, and pages after to the right, and you can scroll these pages independently to look up/down without changing the position you’re editing, or scroll them together!)
- no grammar-checking. (WriterDuet will tell you when you likely screwed up it’s vs. its, your vs. you’re, affect vs. effect, etc., along with its regular spell checker. And this feature is available in many different languages!)