By Beverly Peders
Professional Screenwriting Software:
Arc Studio Screenwriting Software – Free & Premium
This is a user-friendly, intuitive and beautiful screenwriting software that’s free – and it has an impressive downloadable desktop version and a mobile app if you decide you want to pay for the premium version. You can collaborate in real time, and it automatically backs up your screenplay to the cloud. What makes Arc Studio unique is that the minimal distraction-free user interface so you can focus on the storytelling and let the professional Hollywood-standard formatting take care of itself. We love this software! Also, full disclosure: WeScreenplay has partnered with Arc Studio because it’s such an innovative new software – so if you decide to purchase the Pro version, we’ll get some financial benefit. But even if we weren’t incentivized to recommend Arc Studio, we’d do it anyway because it’s that good. You can sign up for free here.
Final Draft Writer – iOS – $19.99
If you write your scripts on a Mac or other Apple product, you probably already use Final Draft. This app requires that you already own it, since it needs a script to be downloaded for it to be edited. The actual Final Draft program (for Windows and iOS) will cost up to $250 for the first download if you’re not a student or teacher. Upgrades cost around $100. It’s a big price tag for a great product. If you have the program already and want to edit on the go, this app may be a good bet (although many of the cheap apps previously listed also take Final Draft documents) The Final Draft Reader (also iOS only) is completely free if you just want to read your scripts and take notes from mobile devices.
This is a great web and mobile-friendly screenwriting software that’s free. You can write, share, and collaborate in the cloud to create professionally formatted screenplays. What makes StudioBinder unique is that the script is tied to its various production planning tools. So once the shooting script is ready, you (or the production team) can generate and collaborate on script breakdowns, shooting schedules, sides, shot lists, storyboards, call sheets, tasks, and other team features, all in one place.
WriterDuet is quickly becoming the new standard for screenwriting. It combines the power of cloud-based word processing with the necessity for industry-standard, secure, and intuitive screenwriting software. It combines natural process and user-friendliness for a unique and refreshing way for writers to collaborate, whether in real-time or in non-linear workflows. It has features that are vital for teamwork in scriptwriting. It’s a well-created gem, and a must-have for writing teams.
One of the more well-known mobile apps complete with a website version too, that includes script writing as well as collaboration with the film-making process is Celtx Script. It has auto formats for screenplays, A/V, stageplays, audioplays, and even comics. You can leave comments or notes for yourself or writing partners. The full online product that includes storyboarding, scheduling, budgeting and more has a 15-day free trial (or 3 projects), however it costs from $14.99 to $39.99 a month (with membership) depending on what features you want access to. As a free screenwriting app with diverse formats, it’s a great tool. If you really fall in love with it, there are even more choices with their site that can expand what you can do to make your story a reality.
Scripts Pro – iOS – $9.99
An iOS-only app for film and TV screenwriters may seem not worth the price, but it’s an app made just for screenwriters, unlike Storyist. Everything is industry standard and the format is easy with a simple toolbar. You can export your drafts to email, Dropbox or even iTunes. It’s even compatible with Final Draft, Fountain, and Celtx. Scripts Pro, also promotes a clutter-free working set up to help you focus on your writing and has a reader preview mode that is helpful when you need to take a step back and edit.
Storyist – iOS – $14.99
While Storyist is praised in many novel-writing circles, it has expert screenwriting capabilities. It also includes auto format but only for screenplay. However, there are outlining options, storyboarding with index cards, collage view (for more visual storyboards), character and scene sheets, notebook, and sharing abilities. While this works best on desktop as it might be helpful to have many windows open, it also works on mobile for the writer on the go, or when your laptop dies. The price tag, while being a bit steep, allows you access to a lot of the fun tools mentioned but also helps you to stay organized and can be used to edit scripts from Final Draft.
Be Focused App – iOS – Free
This app was recommended to me by one of my screenwriting professors to help with time management. I was having issues with keeping myself from getting lost in the research black hole. This app allows you to schedule your time with short breaks to keep yourself on track with your writing. You can schedule a thirty minute block of writing followed by a five minute break with the next thirty minutes for research and then a bigger ten minute break. However you decide to schedule it, as long as you keep to it, it should help you improve your writing.
Music is everything to me when I write. Spotify, unlike Pandora, allows you to make playlists with their selection of music and can even create radios based on your playlists to introduce you to more music. You can start from pre-made playlists or genre playlists or find playlists other users have made and work from there. However you wish to approach making your soundtrack, I believe Spotify is the best (and free!) place to start. Here are some of my music selections per genre I listed, but don’t let these suggestions stop you from finding what music you think works best.
Weekend Read – iOS – Free
The best way to get better at writing is to get reading. There’s a (free) app for that! Download screenplays (pdfs, Final Draft, Fountain, and more) into this app and have a screenplay-friendly reading ability. There are multiple websites like The Script Lab where you can download scripts. If you’re constantly on the go, just put them into your Weekend Read app and read without having to print out hundreds of pages and no paper cuts!
Having trouble keeping track of characters and ideas? Lists for Writers can track all possible things to remember about your character and more. While it’s not specifically made with screenwriters in mind, it has a helpful dictionary of words that may come in handy from animal sounds to fight and combat vocabulary. It helps organize all your story information in a color coded app which you can keep with you in any device it’s downloaded on.
Index Card – iOS – $4.99
For those visual people out there, there’s an app for organizing your scene notes and storyboarding note cards on your phone. Index Card makes it easier to plan and organize your story with pictures, text, and a cork board background to make it feel real. If you like having physical notecards, it can be cumbersome to carry them with you at all times so perhaps you could keep back ups on your phone in case you lose them to. Index cards can really help with story development.
While there are many apps out there for writers and screenwriters alike, these seemed to be the most promising. If you’re looking for more online sources, check out this article for more information on websites.