Formatting a screenplay is A LOT of work. Theoretically, I suppose you could do it in a word processor, but it would take ten times as long and drive you crazy.
That means screenwriters rely on software to do the heavy lifting so we can focus our energy on the important parts (you know, character development and story arcs and stuff).
Final Draft is the industry standard when it comes to screenwriting software. It comes with all the bells and whistles, including integrated planning and outlining features.
For professionals, it’s a must-have. But it comes with a hefty price tag of more than $250.
For up to date information and pricing, visit: https://www.finaldraft.com/
For a lot of beginning (and even experienced) screenwriters, that price tag is prohibitively expensive. There are some great free and lower-cost alternatives out there. Let’s look at some of your options:
Writer Duet offers both a free and paid version. For free, you can use their online portal to write, save, and export a small number of scripts for an unlimited amount of time. Using their desktop application and collaboration features requires either a monthly subscription or purchase of lifetime access.
For up to date information and pricing, visit: https://writerduet.com/
Celtx used to focus only on scripting and be a free download. Now, they’re positioning themselves as a complete script-to-production service, with monthly or annual subscription fees.
For up to date information and pricing, visit: https://www.celtx.com
This app is currently free in the Mac App Store. It’s a robust writing app that handles more than just screenplays. It’s compatible with Microsoft Word and Final Draft.
For up to date information and pricing, visit: https://quoteunquoteapps.com/
What to Look For
When considering a Final Draft alternative, look for programs that allow you to save, share, and export your screenplays.
At a minimum, you must to be able to:
- Save your scripts
- Export pdfs and Final Draft files
Pdfs will allow you to quickly and easily share your work with anyone (including entering contests, which I’ll discuss later). Exporting Final Draft files will allow you to move your work to Final Draft when the project takes off. It will also allow you to collaborate with other screenwriters using Final Draft.
Some nice to have, but not absolutely necessary, features include:
- Working on multiple scripts at a time (so you can save different drafts if you decide to make major revisions)
- Planning and outlining tools
- The ability to leave notes and comments in the script