Back in the day, screenwriters had to hack out their scripts on clunky manual typewriters or write them longhand. (Some writers, like Quentin Tarantino, still do this). Then when word processors came into play,
But then someone had the brilliant idea to have a word processor that was SPECIFICALLY FORMATTED for screenwriting. No more having to hit Tab a million times to line up a character name. Or type that character name a million times, for that matter.
If you’re about to write a feature film script, I’d highly recommend getting a screenwriting program.
Here are the ones I have used:
Final Draft is the industry standard for screenwriting software. I used Final Draft 7 for years on my old Gateway laptop. It’s easy to learn and is MUCH faster than trying to write a screenplay in Microsoft Word.
The current incarnation (Final Draft 9) has some mediocre reviews on Amazon. The computerized index cards seem unnecessary. I prefer to use old-fashioned paper index cards for outlining.
If you had to have ONE screenwriting software, Final Draft would be it.
The only real drawback? It’s expensive. If you’re not serious about knocking out screenplays, shelling out $170 bucks is silly.
On the other end of the cost spectrum is Celtx, which is completely free. (Though they do have a curious $9.99 monthly subscription for their production software)
It’s a cloud-based system, which means you have to be logged into their website to do any changes.
This is actually the FIRST screenwriting software I used, nearly a decade ago. Starting out, it was pretty cool to see how to format scenes and actually knock out a draft. And it was free, so there was no buyer’s remorse.
It’s pretty clunky and honestly, not that great. After discovering Final Draft, I never used Celtx again.
Fade In is a relative newcomer to the script software game I’ve been using it for the past couple years and have been very impressed. The best part? It’s a fraction of the cost of Final Draft.
It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Final Draft, but that’s completely fine with me. The minimalist full screen lets you write, instead of getting distracted by a million different options.
Another cool thing is that Fade In connects with Dropbox automatically, so you can sync your files to the cloud easily.
It really depends on your situation.
– If you aren’t sure that you’ll even write one screenplay, try out Celtx.
– If you are definitely writing a screenplay and want something simple, use Fade In.
– If you have plenty of cash and want the industry standard, go with Final Draft.
But if you had to pick only one, I’d say Fade In. It’s reasonably priced, performs well, and exports to Final Draft.