Which screenwriting software is right for you?
Final Draft is the “industry standard” screenwriting software, which means that at a certain level in Hollywood, almost everyone uses it. But at $249.99 for the standard version, Final Draft is much pricier than many other software options.
Final Draft is buzzing with great features. The software formats your screenplay for you as you type, and using its “Return/Tab” system you can easily move from action lines to dialogue. Final Draft also has a “Smart Type” feature, so it will remember locations and character names for you and fill them in as soon as you start typing. The ScriptNotes feature allows you to keep track of your thoughts as you write, and “CollaboWriter” helps you work remotely with a writing partner. For those of us who have procrastination issues, “Writing Management” tracks your time goals, keeping you in check. There are multiple ways to view your script, either by scene headings alone or by “Index Cards” if you want to see a digital overview of your whole script. Final Draft comes with dozens of templates for different kinds of scripts, including teleplays.
Final Draft also offers much cheaper iPad and iPhone versions ($19.99) so you can seamlessly move between devices.
Final Draft has phone, email, and live chat support via its website.
Bottom line: If you’re willing to shell out the cash, Final Draft is the way to go. And if you only work on your iPad, Final Draft for iPad is a great cheap alternative.
MOVIE MAGIC SCREENWRITER
Movie Magic Screenwriter is also considered an “industry standard,” although its not quite as ubiquitous as Final Draft. Though their listed price is $249.95, there’s a seemingly unending sale version for $169.99.
Movie Magic has many of the same extras and features as Final Draft: auto-formatting, Index Card scene view, “Screenwriter’s Notes,” script templates, and iPartner, which allows you to work remotely with a writing parner. Movie Magic also has a somewhat complex feature called “NaviDoc” which lets you track your workflow with a customized script outline. Finally, Movie Magic has an auto-save feature, which is a really helpful way to ensure that you save all prior versions of your script.
The Movie Magic developers, Write Brothers, offer lifetime support via phone and email.
Bottom line: Movie Magic is not as robust as Final Draft, though the price point is more appealing.
Guess what? Celtx is free! Well mostly. Celtx offers a totally free desktop version, or the more popular Celtx Plus for $14.99. They offer a personal or team online workspace with cloud features for an additional monthly fee.
Like Final Draft and Movie Magic, Celtx has multiple templates, a collaboration feature,
Celtx also has a few cool features, like “distraction free” writing mode, and a writing session timer. They know we’re one click away from browsing cat gifs… If you’re into bells and whistles, Celtx allows you to attach all kinds of files to your project (including media) and offers various ways to keep track of scenes, characters, locations, and props. You can move seamlessly between Celtx applications on different devices, although the iPad and iPhone versions are missing some helpful features. The “Master Catalogue” feature, which allows you to keep track of characters, didn’t make it to the mobile app, for example.
Celtx is an online platform, which means you have access to a whole online community of writers, including Project Central entries and discussion threads.
Celtx offers email and live chat support on their website.
Bottom Line: This is top-of-the line for free software, and the online platform gives you a variety of ways to connect to a larger community. It’s not quite as user-friendly as Final Draft, but it’s free!
Writer Duet is also an online platform, with a bare-bones free version and a popular $89 pro version. Students get a discount: $49 for the pro version.
Writer Duet prides itself on real-time collaboration: any number of writers can contribute to the same document at the same time, and you can also use their chat, text, and note features to stay in touch.
Writer Duet has great script outlining capabilities, which allow you to use digital index cards to prepare your script before you start writing. Writer Duet allows you to import scripts from other platforms, including Final Draft and Celtx. This can be very helpful if you’re working with a collaborator who’s using different software. Writer Duet has a great autosave feature, and mouseover tips throughout the program.
Bottom line: Writer Duet has a ton of great features for writers collaborating remotely. But if you’re working alone and want to keep things cheap, stick with Celtx.
Writer Duet offers email support.