Script Writing Software: 3 Programs Cheaper And Better Than Final Draft

If you want to learn how to write a screenplay, at some point you’ll need script writing software.

When it comes to script writing software/screenwriting software, I have three apps to recommend.

Here’s a quick guide to the best screenwriting software so you can choose what’s right for you.

My Philosophy on Screenwriting Software

In a nutshell: time is a writer’s most valuable resource.

Therefore, script writing software should save you time: it should be easy to learn and use, bug-free, and reliably updated.

NOTE: what follows is my opinion, and I am not compensated for these recommendations.

That said, here are my choices for the best screenwriting software.

Best Free Script Writing Software: Celtx

Celtx script writing software

celtx script writing softwareCeltx is free and over 3,000,000 people are using it (according to their website).

Celtx is fully-featured, cloud-based screenwriting software that can also be used for storyboarding and production. Celtx offers a few subscription choices, one of which is the option for a free subscription.

Celtx is not only my top choice for the best free screenwriting software, it’s also my choice when a filmmaking team needs to collaborate on the script as well as budgets, schedules, shot lists, and more. Celtx is only $9.99 per month for the additional storyboarding and production features. Celtx integrates with iOS apps such as Index Cards, Script, Shots, Scout, and Sides.

Best Inexpensive Script Writing Software: Highland


Highland is a minimalist, distraction-free software that utilizes plain text. This means that your script is readable in any text editor and can move easily on and off of any device.

Highland also exports to and imports from FDX and PDF, provides notes inline with text, and has markers and page-jumpers to navigate within a long document. Highland’s lead developer is top screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory). Highland is $29.99.

Best Full-Featured Screenwriting Software: Fade In


Fade In renders text crisply, supports unicode (text in other languages) and dual dialogue, and allows you to find/replace and undo just about anything.

Fade In has fully functional syncing iOS and Android versions, and is updated for free by a capable developer who also writes and directs films. Fade In is also the choice of top screenwriter Craig Mazin (Hangover 2, Identity Thief). I should note here that John August’s podcast Scriptnotes (which Mazin co-hosts) has gone into great depth on software. Fade In costs $79.95 and offers a free trial.

Why Not Final Draft?

Final Draft is the industry standard and because of that, you should know what it is. However, it is not my top choice because it can be expensive to purchase and update, can be buggy, and I’ve had too many writers complain about the program crashing (though I haven’t experienced this myself).

Other Popular Options

There are lots of other screenwriting software programs such as:

Diversity in the world of script writing software is a great thing and I’m sure there will continue to be innovations, advancements, and more script writing software options.

What is Your Favorite Software?

My awesome readers are spending a lot more time working with script writing software and are more tech savvy than I am. I’d love to know your opinion. What screenwriting software do you like? What do you use? What doesn’t work for you?

Let me know in the comments.

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Discussion About Script Writing Software: 3 Programs Cheaper And Better Than Final Draft

  1. Lois

    I use the free version of which was recommended to me by my university.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Lois. Has it worked well for you?

      • Lois

        It’s similar to Celtx with cloud-based saving and a feature where you can hear your script being performed. This is part of the free version. I think it’s easier to use than Celtx and it’s working well so far.

    • Tom Frode

      I will try that one. my university recommended Celtx..

  2. Kevin D.

    I use Fade In now. I really like it except for some reason it won’t automatically capitalize the first word of a new sentence if you have to delete the word after you type it.

    That’s a little annoying.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Kevin. Anyone found a fix for this?

      • Rowland

        I’m a newbie. Tried Celtx when I realized too late that Scrivener doesn’t handle page breaks well. Celtx did something that I THINK is incorrect (like I said, I’m a newbie). At the start of page after a page break when dialogue continued for a “character CONT’D” it wrote “character CONT’D CONT’D” which I don’t believe is correct.

    • sydney

      Kevin, have you contacted Fade In’s folks about this? They’re usually pretty good at taking care of customer requests.

    • Fleurette M. Van Gulden

      Where the sentence ends with a period, use space bar twice then enter/return. This takes you to the new sentence or paragraph and automated uppercase. This would be in the action element, all other elements navigated from the formatting commands like Scene heading, character names completes in uppercase.

  3. Thomas Ruggiero

    Thanks, Stephanie. I am using Final Draft and it has some restrictions if I want to use another computer. Thanks for the info.


  4. Kelly

    Writer Duet is wonderful and always updating. Love it way more than FD.

  5. Richard Jefferson

    Another great topic! When I get this question from clients I am going to send them to this blog. Thanks Stephanie!

  6. David Phillips

    Scrivener has limited capabilities when it comes to actually writing formatted pages (I prefer Screenwriter, but haven’t checked out the newer, less expensive offerings as yet). However, Scrivener is SUPERB for research & outlining (!), and/or writing manuscripts for research papers and novels. Highly recommended.

  7. Erica Maier

    Just started using WriterDuet, too and love it. Upgraded to Pro version already.

  8. Steve S.

    I purchased my Movie Magic Screenwriter program in 2003, and it continues to serve me well. Perhaps this was before the advent of the free programs you mention, but as one whose technophobia often becomes the stuff of legend, I have found Movie Magic Screenwriter easy to use and the support staff quite responsive. I haven’t upgraded it either nor do I plan to do so anytime in the near future.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I’m resistant to technology changes too, so glad to hear it works well for you.

    • Mark Martino

      I purchased Write Brothers Movie Magic, i.e., Screenwriter in 1998. I dabbled in a few other screenwriting applications including Celtx, Story, Final Draft, and Highland. I liked Celtx and Highland. I’ve written scripts for commercial and informational videos using Word just because that’s what the client used. Painful. If I were starting now, I might go with Celtx. It being more web based has advantages and disadvantages, but it is free.

      I still prefer Screenwriter. I have a BSEE and was a hardware and software engineer for 30 years so I don’t think my preferences are biased by technophobia. In the future, if I need to write anything besides narrative features and shorts, I may try another application.

    • Claire E Robertson

      Same here. I bought Movie Magic in September 2000. I’ve had to wrestle with downloads when switching to a new computer system from my old Windows XP systems but it works great for me so I’m basically refusing to upgrade to the expensive newest version of it. Why fix what isn’t broken? I did have to try and show that I could use Final Draft when I took a college course over a decade ago but my instructor was so impressed with how well my work looked in MM that he allowed us to choose which we preferred. The majority of the class chose MM over FD. Bottom line on it was that we really didn’t need a lot of extra tools to do basic things like using an index card feature. Both programs have it but MM is a lot simpler to use than FD and you really only need to remember where your tab, enter, and down arrow keys are in addition to where your alphabet keys are once it’s set up for your own writing style. Happy to report, I can type over 200 words a minute without having to look at the keyboard. Useful since the letters often fade fast on every keyboard I get. The addition of being able to import a word processing document and then quickly convert it into a screenplay format means I’m unlikely to want any other screenwriting product in the future. I can also use MM budgeting and scheduling with it, too.

  9. Paul Singh

    Hey Steph, I think I’ll stick with Final Draft. I’m not a screen writer but in my degree program we all are using it. It works very well to tag items that then can be used for budgeting and scheduling software. So I guess I’m going to stick with FD.

    Hope the New Year brings you much success and happiness.

  10. Melinda Smith

    I use and love Fade In. So much better than Movie Magic, which is what I used previously (I’ve always preferred Movie Magic over Final Draft). It even has a dual-column A/V template, which is really handy if you do commercial video scripting (although I prefer the way Celtx handles the A/V format). Fade In also imports and exports to Final Draft (among many other file formats), so even if you’re working with people who require a Final Draft file, you’re not stuck having to use it. Aside from Fade In’s seamless functionality, I also appreciate that it doesn’t look like it was time-portaled in from the mid-90s.

  11. Lisa

    I use Final Draft and Scrivener because they integrate between the programs. I also like Scrivener for writing articles and formatting e-books.

  12. Rob Ripley

    What a serendipitous post, Stephanie. Over the holidays I started noodling around with Fade In. I’ve been a Final Draft user for over a decade, but can no longer abide by the $100 upgrades every couple of years.

    Anxious to hear about your – and anyone’s – experience with Fade In. While so far it SEEMS to do everything I want it to, the devil is, as they say, in the details. Would love to hear about any stumbles your readers have had with Fade In.

    As always, thanks for the great info!

  13. Irene

    I used to be a Final Draft Fundamentalist, but when I needed to collaborate with people I don’t see very often, and when I began looking around for ways to write without having to put my beloved laptop at risk in the wild, Fade In and Celtx came to the rescue.
    I have to admit that Celtx is slowly winning me away from Fade In, however. I’ll miss the $ I spent on Fade In, but Celtx is so easy to use.

    I’m also a big fan of Scrivener, but I use that mainly for non-screenwriting purposes, probably because I began using it to write and compile ebooks for Kindle. It’s a monster of functionality!

    What level of familiarity would you recommend aspiring screenwriters to have with Final Draft?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      While I’m sure some people would disagree with me, I don’t think aspiring screenwriters need to have much familiarity with Final Draft other than to know it exists. Yes, it definitely is what productions use, but as there is a long way between writing a script and getting a movie made, I don’t think expensive screenwriting software should be an impediment. Is there a chance that you would have to convert your script into Final Draft if the movie goes into production? Yes. So you have to spend a few hours re-entering your script because you’re movie is getting made? That is work I would personally be happy to do.

      • Irene

        Great point! Having to convert my script for that purpose would be the opposite of a problem for me.

        Knowing how to use Final Draft really came in handy when I worked an internship, but that was a while ago, before all these cool new programs existed.

        Based on all the glowing reviews, I’m going to check out WriterDuet now!

      • Leanna Adams

        Writerduet allows you to upload a Final Draft, Celtx, pdf, doc etc into it. It’s my favorite over others because I can see my partners writing in real time. They can see me when I’m in there. So I’ve had the ability to write with others who live far away from me. Maybe other sites allow this now, but they weren’t when I was shopping around/testing them out. The formatting isn’t always perfect in WriterDuet after an you upload (esp. if the previous doc was a pdf etc, but it’s pretty good to get started). And you can download out of it (once you pay into the paid service, I believe there is still a free trial version) into PDF, Celtx, Final Draft, etc. Very convenient for sharing with others who don’t use Writerduet or have Final Draft yet.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Good to know, Leanna. Thanks. I’ve got WriterDuet on my radar!

  14. DarkKnigt

    Hello Stephanie,
    I think a great one, and very very cheap one has been forgotten here:
    Every nice feature is present, and the collaboration is so easy ! I just love it.

  15. laurie

    I use final draft and have for years. In general my mantra is if you want to play with the big boys than you have to use their toys. It really is the go to for production. One of the more memorable moments at Austin’s festival this past fall was watching the FD boys debate another program. They license to entire crews and have to contract with the production that they will support them.
    That aside, I can tell you as a coverage reader as well as a writer, I can instantly recognize when someone is using another software. or worse — WORD. It SHOULDN’T get in the way of a story but when you are reading upwards of 10 scripts a day at times, you get into a cadence of scene breaks and formatting that is automatic in FD and can vary (in line spacing and margins) in other programs — it seems nit picky but it does take you out of the story.
    When you are an established writer (like Gilroy on Nightcrawler) you can get away with breaking the norm, but in the meantime I say stick with the standard.

  16. Jon Miles

    i have FD, but I’m frustrated by the lack of web / cloud support. Looking forward to checking out all these options. Thanks for posting this, and for all the replies.

  17. Davie

    I think Writer Duet is a terrific piece of software and it’s developer Guy is great at helping you out if you have any problems. There is a great free version so try it out. Go on.

  18. John

    I use the free version of WriterDuet and it’s excellent. Definitely the best free screenwriting software around. I had issues with all the other “free” screenwriting programs. Will upgrade to WD Pro soon.

    There’s a great quote on the WriterDuet website from Ed Solomon, writer of MEN IN BLACK and most recently NOW YOU SEE ME:

    “Writer Duet is the most intuitive, most user-friendly scriptwriting software I’ve ever used. And it’s truly amazing to be able to write and share screens with one, two, or many different people at once. … I wish I’d had this earlier in my career. I can’t say enough good things about Guy Goldstein and Writer Duet.” – Ed Solomon (Men in Black, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Now You See Me)

    • Stephanie Palmer

      One more vote for WriterDuet!

      • Vic Vaughan

        I’m so glad you started this thread, Stephanie, and especially delighted to read the spin-off comments about the collaborative process. It seems there are loads of people co-writing, and I’m definitely going to give Writer Duet a shot. Thanks again!

    • Onez Rashid

      advantages of celtix over other software,,,,,?

  19. Flax

    I’m really enjoying doing my outlining work in Movie Outline 3. They have a screenplay function too but I haven’t been able to try it yet.

  20. David

    Speaking as an (DGA) Assistant Director and Unit Production Manager, Celtx makes our job quite challenging. The greatest issue being that it cannot easily export to any other program. So while a writer may find it wonderful (and free), script breakdown for scheduling and budgeting becomes a nightmare. All the slugs, sets, characters and locations need to be reentered manually into a scheduling and budgeting program. Celtx claims to have an all in one solution and can provide many production reports, but it simply doesn’t provide the horsepower needed as a day to day production tool.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Really appreciate your perspective, David.

    • Maria

      Hi David! So what do you use that’s more friendly to what you need?

  21. Mitch

    I’m just trying out Celtx and though the pre-production tools are great, the scriptwriting software has a real problem importing scripts without screwing up the apostrophes. This wouldn’t be a biggie if they had a Find and Replace function, WHICH THEY DON’T, which I find hard to fathom.

    • Renee

      The find and replace function is under the edit tab.

  22. Kelly Atkins

    Celtx is my favorite, too. I agree with your comment … there are many steps between writing and making a movie. So far all my time is spent writing. If I need to change software or reenter when I sell or get hired…will do, no problem!

  23. Ryan Patch

    I think that the best piece of software out there right now if WriterDuet. WriterDuet is an incredible piece of software that does all of the the things that final draft does, better, plus an incredible real time collaboration capability. In my opinion, it’s really the only viable choice for writing partnerships, and perhaps the best choice for single writers. It’s way more fully featured that the free version of Celtex. It has the PDF reading capacity of Highland, but it’s also cross platform, which Highland isn’t. I have not tried Fade In.

    The lead developer on WriterDuet, Guy, is also extremely accessible and always has responded to my questions or feature requests.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Ryan. WriterDuet is certainly getting a “People’s Choice Award” so far.

  24. W. Keith Sewell

    I am currently using Celtx and have been satisfied with it for years, except when trying to write in 30min sitcom format .. everything has to be done manually. I’m interested in trying out ‘Writer Duet’ after all the glowing reviews here…

  25. ginger

    I use Movie magic and just started on Scrivener for self publishing. I have noticed recently MM’s spell check leaves a lot to be desired. Many newer words related to technology have to be “learned”.

  26. Douglas Westfall

    Having used many screenwriting software programs over the years, I was surprised to find Celtx offered many of the features the expensive programs do — yet it is free. The cavet here is they do charge for additional production-level modules yet the direct benefit is anyone can get started in screenwriting at a professional level at no cost.

    All of our screenplays have been imported into Celtx since 2010 and I have requested all of my students to do so as well. I highly recommend Celtx for anyone who is writing.

  27. Sally


    — Do ALL of these program save in Adobe Acrobat for a standardized pdf?

    — Can the pdfs of those scripts be “read” in the other programs? Example:
    When a Scrivener or FADE IN script’s pdf is sent to a production company, can
    the production staff member use their software to “read” the cast numbers & #
    speeches and the Int.- Ext. locations list?

    I noticed that David, a DGA, indicated that they don’t all import. Writing with free scriptware is fine for beginners, but when you are seriously submitting, you have to understand that the pdf has to allow for the programming that provides for script breakdown so the production company can identify COST factors like cast size and locations with a couple of taps of the keys. If the script is being submitted to actors, they want to know how many scenes they appear in and the number of speeches they have to “guessimate” their value to the project.

    I use Movie Magic . . .

    • Sarah Gabrielle Baron

      I also use moviemagic. I love the monthly newsletter I get from them (tips from ‘screenwriter bible’s David Trottier). It imports from pdf and word just fine. It has a LOT of bells and whistles I don’t know how to use yet. It has templates from all the majors, and all the formats. It is constantly saving for me in a ‘timed backup’ file, so if I forget to save or the power goes out, a recent version is safe. I’m so happy with it, I’ll likely buy it again. I don’t know why no-one really uses it…it’s great!

  28. William H. Morris

    I compose in Open Office. I’m used to it and it’s free including occasional updates. I gave up on Final Draft a long time ago. It had become over-featured but under performing. I have Celtex but I’ve noticed when I import a file from Open Office Celtex sometimes blows the formatting which defeats the purpose of importing the file. So for the most part I use a free screenwriting template I found which is basic but does the job. That’s what I use.

  29. DaveKarner

    I’m using Adobe Story. I like what Stephanie said about the program not getting in the way of writing. I’ve found that good software makes your writing faster. I also would be pleased as punch as to have to spend the weekend moving my script from Story to FD after making that sale deposit. Cheers to when that happens!

  30. Charu

    Hi Stephanie

    I think professional writers cannot NOT think of compatibility with the production office and those who give notes – readers, execs, producers, directors..
    Here in Mumbai I have been writing a TV show for the last six years in MS Word because that particular production company has its own format and production office requirements.
    I use FD and Celtx for writing features. I prefer FD despite its high cost and occasional bugs because I just feel more safe about of my work. (I have this phobia of scripts getting stuck in ‘retrieval hell’ in hopeless recesses of crashed hard disks or ‘cloud bursts’ or getting ‘locked up’ in a free / trail software etc etc etc 🙂 )
    But currently am writing a feature for a company using Celtx because the producer has ‘political issues’ with using expensive writing software.
    One software that I really miss is SOPHOCLES. Did anybody on this thread use it? It was so good and it’s a pity that they discontinued their service.

    • Tad

      Sophocles was a revelation for me. The developer was a great, responsive guy. It had the personal backing of several A-list screenwriters. Unfortunately, it was so good that rumor has it that FD purchased, then disappeared this wonderful software. And that’s exactly what happened: both developer and said software vanished in short order.

    • Larry

      Charu and Tad, you are the first writers I’ve known of who’ve worked with Sophocles. I used to use it, and yes, it was really very good. But now I’m stuck with a handful of scenes and sequences that I can’t get back because nothing I know of will open the files. I know — eggs in one basket.
      I hadn’t heard the FD sabotage rumor, but it could explain how Sophocles dropped into a black hole so abruptly. Although till now I’ve thought of FD as inept rather than underhanded.
      After an upgrade this summer, FD wouldn’t recognize my “customer number” and now the program won’t open. Their phone helpers agree that I’m entering the right data, and they say they’ll get back to me with even better help. But as of late fall they haven’t, they don’t.
      Now I’m back to using Fade In; I’m very happy with it. It exports and imports a variety of file types, including fdx. But I also save everything as a PDF and keep paper copies.
      I recommend the free version of WriterDuet to my students; they usually prefer the better-known Celtx. It’s slightly buggy on my MacBook so I don’t use it.

      • sydney

        My first screenwriting program was Sophocles, and I miss the hell out of it. I still have a copy on my machine that works. I’m currently using Fade In, which I find more responsive and easier to use than Final Draft, for what it’s worth, and it’ll import and export all the other formats, so I’m happy with it, but still miss Sophocles… sigh.

  31. Chrid

    Great article! I found and use Celtx but didn’t know about the other two. I keep looking for a software package that reads aloud dialog. years ago I was sometimes lucky enough to find a group of actors willing to read my script out loud and put feeling and character into after they had read the script and the result was an incredible high to hear your own words and spot things that worked or didn’t work well. I highly recommend anyone who can find a community theater or group of actors willing to do that for an afternoon quite valuable!

  32. Anthony

    This is a subject that could go on and on ad nauseam.
    Just go take a look on different threads about screenwriting on Stage32.

    I’d call this the ghost topic. It will always come back.
    Personally, I stopped using Celtx because it was a pain to use during the rewrite process.
    And to be clear I used Celtx since the beginning. There are bugs in the editor which prevent
    you to have a perfect formatted screenplay, this year I called it quits.

    So I put my hands on Scrivener, set it up with two different templates depending on the project. Movie Screenplay / TV Bible

    And the finishing line so to speak is made on Final Draft and/or Trelby which is remarquably handy for a free software.

  33. Anthony

    Also, one last thing to bear in mind about Celtx. You can get an editor that you install on your computer. That’s the one I used. It’s a great start I’m not denying it.

    You also now have the possibilty to do all your preproduction via their web services.
    I think the tricky part with what they offer you for a fee per month is that it is a closed service.

    You can do everything on their web platform but if you want to get out, and put your script, your data, your schedule, your budget on another piece of software, you’re gonna waste a lot of time trying to export things correctly. In effect they discourage you to do that, they want you to stay.

    So after due considerations ( should I stay or should I go) I said, that’s enough for me. I want to be able to carry my data on any file format I want without any restriction. So I can deliver them to other people.

    Hope this will help, but hey don’t take my word for it! You can try it.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Very helpful. Thanks, Anthony.

    • Paul Zagoridis

      Amen! I have used and recommended celtx especially to film school students. But I can’t anymore because the closed system locks the data in. Having said that, if it is ONLY the script by all means use celtx. But if that’s the case why not use WriterDuet or even a text editor in Fountain format? WriterDuet will even convert that to fdx

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Thanks, Paul.

  34. Michael

    Great article. I have used Final Draft for years and it has served me well. However, always willing to try something new. Will like to try Fade In. The cost seems very reasonable. It almost seems that Final Draft gets such a sanctimonious treatment. As long as it looks good to producers and agents, and it is easy to use, sounds like a winner.

  35. John Edwards

    Hey Steph,

    Once again, a great and useful post. I used to use Final Draft and discovered Celtx after my laptop was stolen.

    I, too, think it’s hard to beat for the money. I’m also a fan of very stripped down software: in fact, I just used MS Word with a screenwriting stylesheet on the past.

    I think there’s a danger of getting distracted by the bells and whistles (as if writers needed more distraction) and soon we get so caught up with the tool we forget about the work.

    That being said, Celtx’s features are incredibly useful and easy to use. For that reason and the cost it is my go-to writing program (after pen and paper).

  36. Greg

    Slugline is incredible to use. One the best.

  37. Chris Derrick

    Once I tried FADE IN’s trial, I never went back to Final Draft…

    As others have said, in revision mode FADE IN colors the script pages, that’s not only cool, but it prevents you from working on an outdated draft.

    It supports Courier Screenplay and Courier Prime much better than Final Draft, and that’s been a blessing on the eyes.

    I haven’t used the iOS version, but I need to.

  38. odocoileus

    Been a Movie Magic user for 8 years. Still love it. But I’ve been flirting with Fade In because it has a mobile version that allows smooth transfers between my PC and my Android devices.

    For my Android devices – phone and tablet – I’ve been using DubScript. It allows me to write scripts using the Fountain markup language and see them displayed in screenplay format. But Fade In works perfectly with Fountain files, whereas Movie Magic doesn’t quite get to a hundred per cent compatibility.

  39. Courtney

    I still use Final Draft (and will continue to use Final Draft) because I feel it works better than all the other programs I’ve used (including those listed, especially Celtx). Once you get to know Final Draft inside and out, it has all the same functions as any other program out there and a lot more. It’s also more compatible with many of the programs needed for pre-production outside of the writing process which helps take the script form the page and put it further into pre-production without the hassle (MM, SSP, etc).

    Honestly, I think it’s all just preference.

  40. Writer

    It’s hard to take a list seriously in 2015 and say Celtx is the best free screenwriting software. It is not. That’s not even subjective. List the features head to head. Stability. Developer support.

    WriterDuet is hands down better, and competes with the other paid packages really well.

  41. Paul Thurston

    I’ve used Movie Magic for years and never looked back. Exports to PDF look good, spellchecker works for Spanish and English, formatting on the page can be changed at will, will read your screenplay back to you and you can assign voices to different characters, can copy a script format that you may have setup before and apply it to a new script at will, can setup the Flypage any way you want, search and replace forward or backwards for whole words or any string of words works great, and it unfortunately allows you to cheat really well too (which I do not approve) but some folks sometimes need to condense a 120 page script down to 100 pages without deleting action or lines. I’ve used versions of this software since 1997 and can’t recommend it enough. It works really well.

  42. Ross

    Good article! With so many options out there, good discussion about tools to help writers increase productivity/quality is helpful!

    A couple important requirements a screenwriting package needs to provide:

    First and foremost – storytelling! Index cards and a notebook aren’t terrible, but there might be ways for technology to help. Software designers, I don’t want to figure out a new, complex UI or programming language (I have Maya for that). My needs are very simple: help me lay out and organize my story! There are many fine software packages out there, but the best I’ve found for this purpose by far is Scrivener. Truly a simple, elegant tool that costs a whopping $50!

    When the story is up and running, then it’s time to look at other packages – FD is king here, but MM et. al. are right in there, too. Formatting is crucial, and this is where software can really come it in handy. Why formatting is so important is all the breakdown/pre-production work that’s required by other departments. FD and MovieMagic Screenwriter play very well with many scheduling and budgeting packages that every line producer and AD uses. I hear Celtx does too. Accurate revisioning during the prepro process can be greatly streamlined with a good package. FD is obnoxiously and needlessly expensive, but it is quite the formatting tool. Have to say I’ve never tried Celtx in production.

    In my case, I do the bulk of story design with Scrivener and format with FD (prehistoric version). Work gets done snappy-like, unless there’s a hitch with the cognitive process. (:

  43. Denise

    Great article! Another vote for Movie Outline 3 which rocks! It really does offer so much more than all the other software mentioned. I’m surprised there’s only a few screenwriters here supporting it. Maybe they need to up their marketing budget!

  44. alex katsanos

    You could check out slugline.


  45. Pieter Pretorius

    Start to work on Celtx and found it great

  46. Michael

    Love me some Scrivener. The interactive note card layout that allows you to move scenes/chapters about is perfect for both my scripts and novels. Outlining couldn’t be easier and more engaging. As well, you get multiple licenses, so you can toss it on to your laptop, your workstation, etc. For the price, it is supreme in my book and its design and function are both unending gifts to the wants and needs of the writer.

  47. Silvia

    Hi Stephanie,

    I have been a loyal Final Draft user since for many years. I started with Final Draft 4 I think . I am now using Final Draft 8. I still love it and as you mentioned it is the industry standard.

    That said, I have experienced crashing with FD 8, (I literally almost started crying last night when it crashed). Even though I have it set on ‘auto save’, it still crashed. (SIGH).

    I would also like to mention that I am also registered on Celtx. I am especially thrilled with it’s relatively new ability to allow us to ‘cut’ and ‘paste’ our scripts into its program.

    As I said, Love me some FD! But, I have been very blessed to be able to get my hands on it. If that were not the case Celtx would be my #1 choice.

    ‘Write’ On!

  48. George Washington

    I started using a free screenplay template for Apple Pages that works between Mac and iOS devices. While it is compiled according to Final Draft’s Cole & Haag standard, it doesn’t feel as buggy and features a much better spell checker. It can be downloaded here:

  49. Jeff Guenther

    I tried an Open Office template, early on. It could make scripts, but it lacked full functionality. I finally got a discount copy of FinalDraft through my school and loved it from the start. It’s the real deal. I’ve never had it lock up, though occasionally it pauses, which may be more a function of my computer than the software.

    Sometimes free is too expensive. I have no fears of submitting a script file in FinalDraft format. My feeling is that it’s still the industry standard. And it works. BTW: agents and others can tell if an RTF file was not created in FD. There’s an easy way to check.

  50. Earl

    Runs on Windows. Mac. Linux. iOS. Adroid.
    Can be run from flash drive or any browser via Cloud.
    Able to store multiple versions and various data related to the project in one file.
    Navigation window with file & folders capabilities.
    Can be saved/retrieved directly to/from Cloud. (Multiple versions)
    Character description templates.
    Lots of pre-production tools such as Scheduling, Storyboard.

    No onscreen WYSIWYG.
    Inaccurate onscreen page numbering.
    No page locking.
    No revision page colors.
    Allows sentences or dialog to be run on at page breaks. (period or no period)
    Does not import Final Draft files.
    Not able to navigate to note locations by clicking on the note.
    Screenwriter 6
    Error checking.
    Prints sides.
    Navigation menu makes it easy to go to notes, scenes, bookmarks.
    Colored text.
    Advanced production features.
    Great support! Either by email/web page or phone, I Always got help a timely manner.
    No Linux or mobile application.
    Does not import/export Final Draft files.
    No Full Screen mode.
    Cannot be run from a flash drive.
    Navigation menu does not have file/folders capabilities.
    Fade in Pro
    Runs on Windows. Mac. Linux. iOS. Adroid.
    Able to import Celtx, Final Draft, PDF files.
    Retina display with OS X.
    Able to export Final Draft files.
    EPUB export
    Adobe Story support.
    Fountain support.
    Scrivener support.
    Constant updates.

    No web version.
    (Versions – 1.2.464 >) Needs Mac OS 10.6 Intel or better.
    No tagging/breakdown capabilities.
    Dictionary/Thesaurus (Online only)
    Cannot be run from a flash drive.
    Navigation menu does not have files, folders or notes capabilities (Like Celtx, Storyist)
    Wish there were more quick launch icons to create Notes, Synopsis, etc. (maybe Right-Click does this?)
    Launch icons too small. (at lease on my netbook)

    So… My number one software remains MM Screenwriter 6.
    (I never totally trust web based only apps, (especially after what just happened to Scripped!)

  51. Gloria

    Very interesting article. I really am looking for something other than MS Word to write my scripts, so based on you analysis I think I am going to try Celtx. I will let you know how it goes.

  52. C.L. Pike

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’ve tried both the free and paid versions of Celtx and it just bums me out. It’s clunky, it freezes, can’t get it to move scenes around easily – I’m not even that fussy about technology. If I can find a workaround, I’m good. The good news is – I was reading the comments and decided to give Writer Duet a try – voila! Success! Love it.

  53. JD

    I normally use Scrivener, but I was considering using John August’s markup system, just to see how I liked it. Also free, and apparently imports/converts easily to FD, the industry standard.

    Before that, I used FD (a long time ago). I was fine with it, but that was apparently before they introduced crashes as an um, “undocumented feature.” Heh.

    I trust NOTHING to the cloud. Back. Up. Your. Stuff.

    Also re the standard: whenever I output a complete draft, I compile a copy in FD mode and CHECK it. Ditto when exporting into PDF. Errors can occur. Adjustments will be made.

    I’ll probably get FD again, just b/c it is the standard.

    Don’t let haste, sloppiness or cheapness hinder the potentially very important eyeballs reading your work! Output to the industry standard (whatever that is where you are) and make sure your work is 100% when it goes out.

  54. Joel Mphahla


    I am currently using Fade In trial I find it easy to use and has the function that are easy to navigate and user friendly, to date I have not find any challenges.

  55. Topher N.

    I got Fade In last year after using OpenOffice Writer for about 3 years with all kinds of custom formatting, which worked but was really time consuming. Fade In is great, you can create Reports for Locations, Cast and other stuff as well as export your script as a PDF with watermarks and I highly recommend it.

  56. Pauline

    I’m starting a creative writing module at university. This includes writing scripts for radio, theatre and film. I use Word as the processing tool and have to submit assignments as Word documents. I am looking for script writing software that is compatible with this regulation, All the information so far seems to suggest these software packages are separate. Can any of them intwegrate with Word?x

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I haven’t done that, so I’m not sure if they do. I suggest checking the specs or testing it out during a free trial to see if one will work for your needs.

    • Paul Zagoridis

      That’s the trouble with university, they have standardised across the university. However NOBODY in the film industry uses Word as it’s too easy to screw up. You can use WriterDuet to output to RTF and then into Word.

      Some production companies will use Word internally, just as some will use Celtx, or EP or StudioBinder or…

      But the international standard script format is Final Draft .fdx which can be tagged and imported (as a .sex file!) into Movie Magic Budgeting and Movie Magic Scheduling.

      So that means that whatever you use to write your script, it must be capable of ending up in .fdx

  57. Robert

    I’ve tried all of the screenwriting programs (and I do mean ALL of them). I used to use Final Draft but got sick of how buggy it was and paying for updates. Movie Magic Screenwriter is just too old at this point. Celtx is clunky, Adobe Story is clunky, and I wouldn’t trust either of those. I wouldn’t trust ANY cloud based program or website. Scripped disappeared and took all the scripts stored there with it. Friends of mine use Writer Duet because it’s free but it’s been down a LOT lately, and when it’s down you can’t get your work. Highland and Slugline are sort of cool but they’re not really full screenwriting programs. They’re kind of like half screenwriting programs.

    I bought Fade In (ONLY fifty bucks!) and have been using it for a while now. So long Final Draft.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      You have tried them all, Robert. Really appreciate that you’ve shared your experience. So helpful.

    • Guy Goldstein

      WriterDuet creator here, just wanted to address the point you mentioned: AFAIK we’ve had two non-trivial times offline in the past year, and nothing was lost, we were back up in a few hours. I’m working on solutions to avoid that happening again.

      But there’s an easy solution to avoid Internet problems with WriterDuet: buy the Pro version, which works seamlessly offline. You’re comparing it to paid programs – yes the free version has a limitation, but that should be expected. A lot of programs don’t have fully capable, unlimited free versions at all.

      You say you’ve tried all the programs, but it sounds like with WD you just took your friends’ experience (which seems like it was good except one or two brief holdups). Give it a try yourself, I am confident you will be very impressed! I believe the Pro version is hands-down the best option out there.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Thanks, Guy!

      • Aslan Hollier

        I will say that I use Writer Duet 90% of the time and Celtx 10%. I’ve had no problems what-so-ever. It just took me a bit to adjust to the latest Writer Duet updates, but it’s better now.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Thanks, Aslan.

  58. Joseph Lombardo

    Hello, I’m interested in trying the Fade In software. I haven’t written for many years and so a lot of this is new to me. When I last wrote I did so in Word. As far as Fade In is concerned I’d like to know if this is a program that I can save on my computer or do I have to save into some cloud somewhere. I really don’t like the idea of my work drifting around someplace. I’ve read up on Fade In and haven’t seen anything mentioning this. Can anyone tell me about this please? Thank you

    • Stephanie Palmer

      With Fade In, you can save your work to your computer and it is an option to additionally save your work to the cloud.

  59. Mic Worthy

    I use Sophocles screenwriting software, which dates back to 2007 when the final Beta version was released. It is a very good program and inexpensive. It still holds up today on Windows 7.

    For more info:

  60. David Speight

    Hi. I’ve gone from Final Draft 6 to Scrivener to Final Draft 9. As a novelist and screenwriter, Scrivener was the best choice. It was great for organizing the chapters of my book into folders using a left pane, and then also organize the screenplay on the right pane. This made it extremely easy to convert my novels to screenplay format. even though I am using Final Draft for the rewrites, I would feel equally comfortable continuing in Scrivener. The other advantage of Scrivener is you can use it on an unlimited number of devices (my example: 1-work/2-home/2-laptops) where FinalDraft only allows 2 total installations.

  61. Patti Meyers

    I’ve used Celtx in the past…not thrilled. I have FD9 now…had FD6…and it’s the industry standard. Not familiar with Scrivener but might look at it cuz I write novels too.

  62. Paul Jones

    I use Scrivener, which I think may get the formatting just a little bit wrong, but it functions like a studio and lets your organize your project in lots of interesting ways, and it exports to Final Draft anyway so who cares about formatting? It’s also an all-in-one word processor, and I write in several mediums so I like having all my work contained in one software

  63. Gerald

    I’ve used mostly Final Draft. I’ve never had a serious problem with it. Although, I had an earlier version that didn’t save the text fully at times. I’ve upgraded once and haven’t had any issues since….so I’m not really inclined to purchase anything else or even upgrade.

    Right now for me, it’s getting the story structure down and haven’t really experienced a screenwriting program that can do that.

  64. Adriel

    After Celtx deprecated the local install version for the online Celtx Studio, I move from Celtx to FadeIn Pro, which is by far the greatest screenwriting software for Linux out there, it was a blessing in disguise. The paid version it is worth it. The only thing I miss from Celtx would be the reports, shooting lists, etc that you can do with Celtx.

  65. ronbrassfield

    Where’s Movie Outline in this discussion? Very worthy package which has been around about seven years now, as shown by Final Draft v. 9 evidently copying some of its features. I started out with Scriptware, which stopped updating with Windows 95 and does not seem to network, as in “I’m out on the deck with my laptop and I want to work on the script stored on my desktop’s hard drive.” It still works fine, though, given those limitations and it never had installation limits. Movie Magic 6 does the networking just fine, and I believe it will install on three PCs. Movie Outline integrates character- and scene-building features into its interface and stacks up quite well against the big boys of the marketplace, but it only allows installation on two PCs. I never even considered going to Final Draft after its late-90s crash-prone version upgrade, and some of the users here seemingly could relate, judging from their comments. Its “industry standard” promotion seems to have been most effective in making it the leading seller, though. I always envision Final Draft users as also wearing those black baseball caps with the word “Writer” printed on them.

  66. Michel R.

    Ugh Celtx. I wasted so much time with Celtx. It makes me depressed when aspiring screenwriters on message boards and Twitter advise others to use Celtx.

    When I discovered Fade In I switched to that.

    I almost bought Final Draft instead, but luckily the high price kept me hesitating until I found Fade In which can do everything Final Draft can and more.

    I’ve been happy with Fade In ever since.

  67. Harry Husted

    I have used Final Draft from day one and still use it. I think it is great. Had no problems with it. Easy to use. Would recommend it to others as a screenwriting program.

  68. A J

    I use Final Draft and Scrivenor for most of my work because of the interoperability between them. However, I am frustrated by the delay in getting an iPad version of Scrivenor out.

    Started playing around with Storyist. They’ve introduced a Scrivenor type workflow in a similar fashion to Scrivenor and have an iPad version to boot.

    But for finishing work. Final Draft. Delivering a script that can be opened in other apps is where the filmmaking process becomes collaborative.

  69. sydney

    I started out with a really great program called Sophocles that, unfortunately, went face-down in the soup quite a few years back. I switched to Final Draft which is a good program, but too expensive and yes, a bit buggy. I now use Fade In and have to say if you want a full featured screenplay writing program that is mucho affordable, powerful and updated for free, check it out. It will do everything you need done as a scriptwriter without a lot of bells and whistles that frankly, you will prolly never need. And, as they used to say, all good screenplays begin with FADE IN.

  70. Steve Schaefer

    I’m retired and over the years have written several magazine and technical articles, and am how experimenting with Action & SF novels. Over the years I have tried many author software products, but settled on what works best for me – being MS Word & Excel.

    This may sound crazy to writers unfamiliar with the products, but I find they are very useful – maybe because I have used them for so long.

    I’ll explain how I use them – so other authors will be offered another solution.

    Excel: I use this to setup a Timeline of events in a story; as most stories unfold over many days, weeks, months, or even years. On the main page I divide up the columns on the 1st row as follows:

    Under Slug Line, Action, Parenthetical, and Dialog. Dividing the 2nd row as follows Under: Slug Line: City, State, Country, UTC, Local Date, Local Time, and Location.

    Under Action: Focus, Group, Item, Character(s), and Action.

    Under Parenthetical: blank

    Under Dialog: Blank

    Additional Columns: Notes, URL Resource 1, URL Resource 2, and Expert Comments.

    Word: Google “setting up a script format using MS word” and follow the instruction on how to create document that uses the “Alt” plus another key to format a movie script. This allows you to set each line as needed, and also with automatically jump through Slug, Action, Character, Parenthetical, and Dialog; as long as you don’t want to skip around or use more than one of each type as you write.

    Since most authors already have MS Office, I believe these two programs work well together and offer a low cost solution to writing.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Steve!

    • Syb

      Hello Stephanie,

      Are you aware of any great stage play script formatting programs or apps? I can no longer open my Final Draft 7 since it “aged out” of the system. And people are saying the latest version for the ipad doesn’t format stage plays correctly.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        I’m sorry, Syb. I haven’t used stage play formatting software. Any readers have a suggestion or recommendation?

      • Ghassan

        FadeIn Pro has several stage play templates, and they work very well. You can download them from the website after you install the software.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Thanks so much, Ghassan.

  71. Jesse

    Brainstorm Pro is a free writing software that can help scriptwriters discover new ideas they may never have thought of. It also has built in translations if that helps anything.
    Marketers, fiction writers and even poets are using this software…but what about scriptwriters?
    Hopefully a few will.

  72. Nicola

    hi, I used Celtx because it was free but if trying to write for TV like I want to do, its a nightmare because it has no ability to do page breaks at the end of an act. If you want to write for US TV that is a must.

    So I’m giving fountain a try so I’m writing in TextEdit and then importing it into which formats it for me. I would get Highland or Scrivener but I’m poor and don’t want to pay money.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks for your insight, Nicola.

    • Komi

      Scrivener is like $40. It’s so very cheap and well worth it in the long term – I use it for screenplays and novels and I can’t imagine not having it as my go-to writing program. I also don’t mind using Celtx but if you want a program that allows you to do TV, then Scrivener is great. Don’t mind the price tag – invest in yourself!

    • Wayne

      For tv four-act structure. I understand that after act four is a tag. Like a teaser at the end. But on scripts I’ve read. After act four, it ends. I dont quite get it.

  73. Malcolm

    Since when is Celtx “free”? They give you a 15 day “Free Trial”…and then you pay.

  74. katrina

    what is the best software to use – one which I can download onto my computer and work offline? I will be going on a writing holiday soon where there will be no internet. I am writing a musical

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I’d vote Highland or Fade In. Others may have suggestions here. What would you use, readers?

  75. @NickFromHamburg

    It may be worth it tracking down an older version (installer) of CeltX. They were computer-based, not cloud-based. And free.
    I found its overflow of features (mine actually has the production tools included) to cluttery. So far I’m writing on Final Draft 7, but will change over to Fade In when I get my new computer in Autumn.

  76. Petra

    Just like in the graphics industry, there is no one stop shop. Photoshop is for image work, Illustrator for single page layouts and graphics, InDesign for multipage layouts, etc.

    With Scriptwriting, I’d make similar distinctions. You need something for
    1) outlining / arranging scenes
    2) writing the actual scenes
    3) collaboration (sending out, highlighting, adding notes etc)

    I don’t think there is a software that does all three well. Some try all three, but something is always buggy or crudely made. My recommendations are an individual solution for each step.

    1) Outlining
    Remember, Pixar spends 3 years outlining and 1 year scriptwriting. ‘Numbers’ by Apple is best for that extensive work. It’s a spreadsheet software like Excel, only free and better. At a certain point you need to create a horizontal axis to align scene cards on, or to match them to whatever story beats (Snyder, Truby etc) you want to hit along the way. There aren’t many ‘offline yet portable’ row and column options where you can enter anything along a flexible x and y axis, even add images. The alternatives are actual post-its on your wall, or cloud services which don’t work offline.

    2) Everyone who has been involved in any kind of production workflow knows that it’s best to eliminate file conversion. Something always goes wrong. Stuff gets lost or corrupted all the time. For writing, Final Draft is the thing, because you can start and end there, no matter how many rewrite/sharing versions in between. Everyone serious has it. And come on, it’s not expensive. Ask a freelance designer shelving out 50 bucks a month for the standard set of work tools. And for the crashing of FD: hitting ‘command (or apple) s’ every 5 minutes like a nervous twitch, and general file versioning have to become your friend. If after a writing day you haven’t saved 3 versions, one at 12, one at 4 and one at 8, you’ve got a problem lined up in the foreseeable future. If one version becomes corrupted, you have one not too old to fall back on. In hectic work environments, saving a copy every hour is good. I know people in the 3d world who save a new version every ten minutesor after each setting. There is no way around versioning. Files will get corrupted.

    3) For sending around stuff and commenting, there is no way around Adobe Acrobat (PDF). Whoever can’t read/comment it with their software can get the free Adobe Reader. But it’s a one way street. I haven’t seen a software able of converting a PDF back to a really intact editable version. Something always goes wrong during conversion. PDF is the only serious format for reading, sharing and collaborating, but then this ‘viewing and commenting’ version is useless and it’s back to the live Final Draft version.

    Hope that makes sense. I’m not a pro writer but an Information Architect and perfectionist when it comes to planning and production control. (can you tell?)

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Super comment, Petra!

    • Paul Zagoridis

      Final draft is terrible for team writing. Collaboration is buggy as it gets. I’ve seen teams use Google Docs and Fountain markup effectively. But you’re 100% correct about different tools for different needs.

  77. Daneeta Loretta Jackson

    I used Celtx free version for many, many years, and I liked it for writing. I found the additional features a bit clunky, but I used them as I wanted to do everything in the same software. When everything changed with the paid version, I hung on to the free model for a while. When I switched from FCP 7 to the Adobe cloud, I thought I might try Adobe Story to keep workflow simple and minimize cost (Story is included in the cloud). Story is OK for writing, but the other features are clunky and buggy and seem not to be developed from a production POV. Still struggling along with it because I am a Adobe cloud convert, but I wish it worked better.

  78. LB

    Does anyone know if it is possible to integrate Dragon with any of these software programs? As a performer, I often think aloud. I try not to do this in public. Mainly, I want the option as I heal from an injury. It would allow me to move forward more easily and quickly with less ouch! Thanks!

  79. ew

    i know of several people in the industry who insist you need Final Draft. Major studios/production companies they insist use FD and when they need to do breakdowns, plan a budget, whatever, a FD file is a must. Not a PDFS file. But I currently can’t afford it. It cost more than I make a week. If you are an a indie producer who does everything yourself, directing, editing budgeting, it probably doesn’t matter what you use. But no one wants a producer refusing to read something b/c you only had a PDF copy and not a Final Draft file to send them. Which I guess can actually happen.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Yes, it’s common for industry pros to recommend FD, but there’s no actual need for the program to be able to work with FDX formatted files. You do not need Final Draft to submit/receive files in Final Draft format. You can use Fade In or Highland (both of which I recommend) and either can transform a PDF into an FDX.

  80. Todd

    I’ve been using Fade In for several years and have written 4 specs with it. You can’t beat the initial price and the updates are free after that! They’re also very quick to respond if you have any questions. I highly recommend it.

  81. Val D Phillips

    I tried Celtx for a while, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to do a hard page break, which for a TV script is essential. I also found it impossible to move text in and out from other programs. Am I just technologically idiotic?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      No, you’re not an idiot at all. I don’t know the specific answer, though one of the smart readers of this might. Anyone know the answer?

  82. Alicia Agramonte

    I personally have used Final Draft for a while. However, I started collaborating for a few projects and stumbled onto which is free and offers real time collaboration. It also allows for export and import of celtx and final draft files. For a one time fee, you can use their desktop and offline features along with a couple other goodies but a lot of the program can be used for free.

  83. Nicolas

    I’d recommend Slugline for the Mac (, It’s based on Fountain (as is Highland) but helps you with formatting and outline.
    I recommend it heartily.

  84. Steven

    I have a licensed copy of Final Draft, but I much prefer Fade In. The Android apps work well with the Windows version, and the Dropbox integration has been a lifesaver. If the prices of Fade In and Final Draft were reversed, I’d still use Fade In.

  85. Jonathan S

    None of this takes into account AV scripts, the TV documentary (and commercials) two-column format. FadeIn sort of does it, as does Celtx (but you can’t see it). The only halfway satisfactory dedicated software was the now discontinued Final Draft AV. Which was buggy and crashy and inflexible. But at least it existed. Word tables are disastrous, as Audio and Video move out of sync all the time and formatting just goes all over the place. So – an appeal to all developers – give your software an edge that all the other programmes don’t have, and include a decent AV format.

  86. Bennnie Woodell

    When I got a new mac a few years ago, my copy of Final Draft was not compatible anymore for some reason with the new operating system so I had to buy a new version, which was expensive. I never really cared for Celtx so I looked around for another software and found Fade In and have been loving it ever since. It’s my top choice as well!

  87. Chalmers

    Alicia saved my life. Writer duet does more than I expected, and costs nothing. Better than the old Celtx significantly for my drama scriptwriting. A silver lining to the collapse of my hard disk, finding writer duet.

    Stephanie Palmer, you too deserve a standing O. Without your evaluation, I don’t find Alicia’s comment.


  88. Todd Thorpe

    I’ve been using Fade In for several years and I’m a huge fan. Don’t know much about Final Draft, but from what I can tell, Fade In gives you the same features for a fraction of the price.
    Plus the updates are free.

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  90. David Hall

    Final Draft. So easy, so good. I don’t care about the price tag because screenwriting is my life! If you go into business for yourself in almost any other field there will be start-up costs. Anyway, in the last five years I think FD has crashed maybe once.

    YMMV. Good luck all. Happy screenwriting!

  91. Phil

    In all honesty, for all the bells and whistles these softwares have, I almost always end up drowning in mountains of paper notes and I still haven’t finished a single project in 25 years of writing because I’m too disorganised if not too fussy about HOW I organise.

    Frankly I find the organisational tools in these softwares to be somewhat disorganised in and of themselves with a billion tweekable windows that get in the way of each other (a complaint I have about all software, to be honest), although CeltX and Fade In definiatly are the best of them for what I need, and even then, I can lose myself all too easily and end up glaring at the monitor as if it is in some way responsible.

    What do I need? Ah, just a moment. Yes, I am hoping a passing software developer will read this coment.

    I need fixed windows and symetry. That is a fixed work space in the middle (I don’t care about autoformatting, we don’t need that crap,) above the workspace is a fixed window with the hook, eg “This is a story about a failed scientist who has spent the last 15 years trying to make good on his backup plan of writing for a living. While his style is good according to everyone else, he thinks it’s crap and can’t organise himself for toffee!”

    Below the central work space would be a fixed window for notes. On the left a fixed window for scenes or chapters, depending on what I’m writing and on the right a fixed window for characters and temprements.

    To give me something with millions of customisable windows often ends up with me spending hours trying to find the most esthetically pleasing form for the best possible organisation.

    • Wayne

      I had the same issue with a project. Had notes everywhere. So I put them on notepad and separated each section with zero’s. thats my system. And saved all the work on several files. then put them in a folder. Then make a back up. a master copy of the story. Then made key indicators of where everything should go. Like. 1a. After removing the areas. It will build up. Then when you finish. Handle the formatting. As for all the paper notes. Put all related notes together. Then allighn them into the storyline. Copy type the result. And save it. Move onto the next one. It does take time. Hope this helps.

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  93. Norm

    I downloaded Celtx and for my needs it seemed to do the job just fine. However a few days went by and I tried to return to my script. Celtx could not find the script files and I do not seem to be able to get any tech support other than a few suggestions from the web. Even though the solution seemed to be clear the browser cash, which was done. Nothing. The treatment came up fine, but a lot of work went into outer space. I wonder if anyone else had any such problems.>

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Very sorry to hear it, Norm. I hate when that happens! I haven’t experienced this, but perhaps others have. Please chime in if you have a suggestion for Norm.

  94. J.J. Maxwell

    I have recently started to write a script from my first book in a series of children’s science fiction adventures – Helen James & The Yunkery Problem. I found Trebly and with a little ‘suck it and see’ I have started to move forward. The one thing I have found is that I look at the story in a completely different light. Trebly is a very easy system to use and amendments can be made quickly. I am not in to all it’s features but I will get there.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Glad to hear about what has been working for you, J.J.

  95. Murat

    I have an older version of Celtx that came with an installer (free) which isn’t much different than the cloud version. I wrote my short films all in Celtx so far and I’m quite happy. I can export my script in PDF. I’m Turkish and it does support certain Turkish letters that don’t exist in English alphabet when exporting in PDF, which is especially important for me.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much for sharing, Murat. Good to know.

  96. Donny Broussard

    I am a software junkie. I try all of the software that I can get my hands on. However, I use Final Draft because in the end most people have that software and instead of exporting a Final Draft file from another program I feel like I might as well just start and end in the same one. I also don’t think it’s all that expensive as far as software goes, but that is just my opinion.

    I do enjoy Highland, but as a Writer/Producer that is often finding ways to do my own films, I find it handy that Final Draft has the tools I need built in for breakdowns, reports, and tagging.

    Great list! I love the site and look forward to many more years of reading.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Donny! I really appreciate comments from software junkies like yourself as you have tested lots of the options.

  97. Klyf Kai

    Hello Stephanie. I came across your website while originally on Amazon. I then decided to look up other screenwriting software and eventually ended up here. Your site is a goldmine! I’d like to know how much your course is and also how much you charge for consultation. Thanks.

    Klyf Kai

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Klyf! At this time, I am fully booked and not accepting new consulting clients. You can find the information about the courses I offer and their prices in the Store.

  98. Vikram

    Hi Stephanie, I am a complete newbie to film script writing, but would like to get the right software at the very beginning (so I don’t get forever put off).

    I have a set of questions, if you mind answering. I’ve nudged towards the Slugline for the Mac (yet to purchase it).

    1) Is exports and imports from FDX and PDF possible with Slugline?
    2) Is various other languages options available on Slugline or any other software (such as Hindi)?
    3) And finally I like to start of with Treatments or Outlines, does Slugline have this option? (Do you recommend any other software)


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Vikram,

      These are good questions. I haven’t used Slugline, but here is a link where you can ask these questions:

      • Vikram

        I’ve posted the questions to Slugline, awaiting their response. For the mean time which script writing software do you recommend for newbies.

        Many Thanks,


      • Stephanie Palmer

        Start with Slugline as that appeals to you. Then you can upgrade to Fade In or even Final Draft if you get into screenwriting more seriously. As you’ll likely learn soon, the hard part of screenwriting isn’t learning or using the software. The hard part is conceiving and writing a terrific script– the software is secondary.

  99. Marina Michaels

    I love WriterDuet ( It has a paid version with extra features, but the free version is awesome. My favorite feature is the ability for two people to be on Skype and writing in the same script at the same time.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Glad to hear from another fan of WriterDuet- especially for those who write with a partner. Excellent!

      • nanlogical

        Thanks for this. Really, really useful information. I am struggling with the view about making lots of noise pre-launch. How do you reconcile the possibility that someone( with more resource for example) could think wow, what a great idea, and then go and create something similar and beat you to the punch?

      • Stephanie Palmer

        I wouldn’t worry about it. Other people have their own ideas. In general, they aren’t looking to steal yours – and if they like it they might option it (this is typically what happens). Keep in mind that what is valuable is the execution, not the idea itself.