Every writer has their own method for brainstorming, outlining, writing, editing, and sharing their work. Trial and error will help you discover your preferred tools and processes. As technology evolves, there are always new and emerging tools to explore that might help you take your screenwriting – and your business as a screenwriter — to the next level.
Here’s a rundown and review of some of the best online, mobile, or cloud-based screenwriting tools recommended by writers.
Table of Contents
There are a lot of different screenwriting softwares out there, but Arc Studio has one feature in particular that is useful: it allows multiple users to edit a document, just like in Google Docs. Whether you are writing with a partner or sending your script to a reader for feedback, this is a game changer.
Final Draft really is the industry standard when it comes to screenwriting software. It also has a mobile platform that allows you to write and edit your screenplay on the go, send or share your files between multiple platforms, and always be on the same page with Dropbox and iCloud.
Final Draft is an expensive option, but because so much of the industry uses it, your draft will be formatted and easy to share with collaborators.
WriterDuet was created to make it easy for writers to collaborate on the same project. It also has a free version that allows writers to work on up to three scripts but for collaborations and pro tools, you’ll need to purchase one of its packages (monthly, annual, or lifetime).
Most screenwriters I spoke to, myself included, utilize Google Docs for their outlines, character sheets, and show bibles. The easy storage file system and editing potential makes it so convenient.
Meanwhile, Google Spreadsheets make it easy to track things like contest submission deadlines, projects submitted, and so on. I also make my film budgets in Google Spreadsheets.
Google Presentations are just like Powerpoint or Keynote, but stored online — I use them to create pitch decks, press kits, and lookbooks.
Dropbox is a helpful working-file storage system. Many writers store their working drafts (and previous versions) on Dropbox to easily open the file and continue writing from any device.
Evernote is a great note-taking system. It allows you to create “notebooks” and store your “notes” in a visual filing system, while also tagging your documents with search words.
I personally use Evernote not in a creative way, but in a record-keeping way. I track contacts that I’ve met, meetings I’ve had, and essentially keep a journal of professional pitches: date, who I met with, what project I pitched, etc.
Script Coverage & Notes
When it comes to script coverage, WeScreenplay offers many benefits. First of all, there are three packages to help you get as specific as you need for your project. All coverages include a 72-hour turnaround so you can get notes quickly. You also get qualitative notes, which help you compare your progress and see where you’re performing compared to other writers. The Bespoke and Comprehensive packages also offer a Marketing Blueprint that is custom-tailored to help you meet your goal for the script. You’ll be able to choose from one of four options:
- To use as a writing sample to find representation or submit to a competition/fellowship
- To self-produce (financing already in place)
- To self-produce (still seeking financing)
- To sell to a studio or producer
The Marketing Blueprint is a unique feature that can really help emerging writers, especially ones who are as yet unrepresented, utilize their script to advance in their careers.
The Black List offers two main functions. First, it provides coverage on a script as well as a competitive rating that helps industry professionals find and read the script. Second, it hosts an annual list of its top performing feature screenplays for the year. Scripts that make it on that annual Black List have gone on to win Academy, Emmy, and Golden-Globe Awards as well as launch writers’ careers. When writers pay for hosting (and coverage) on the Black List, it becomes easier for competitive scripts to be found by buyers, producers, and reps.
Scriptnotes is a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. Hosted by professional writers John August (Aladdin, Big Fish) and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl, Hangover Part II), Scriptnotes covers everything from the business of screenwriting to common screenwriting questions to providing actual feedback on listeners’ scripts. It’s a must-listen.
An official podcast of the WGA West, 3rd & Fairfax includes conversations with notable writers making their mark on the industry. Learn about your favorite shows, award-nominees, and industry trends.
Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, The Middleman) and Jose Molina (Sleepy Hollow, Firefly) are two of the most generous leaders in the writing community when it comes to sharing their time and knowledge. This podcast includes their hard-earned experiences and straight-shooting advice on breaking into television (and staying there).
Remember, to be a successful screenwriter, you will not just have to write great screenplays. You will have to be savvy about the business, your own record-keeping, self-promotion, networking, and collaborating with others.
Luckily, you can use the tools above to stay organized, informed, and productive like the professional you are!
Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!