What’s the best screenwriting software out there? It’s whatever brings out the best in us as individual artists. I bounced around a few different bits of screenwriting software and my happy place (just like Niel Cross, the writer of Luther staring Idris Elba) is developing in Scrivener and polishing in Final Draft. I only know that works for me because I went out of my comfort zone to try other options. Given that screenwriting software is so easy to pickup and use, we really owe it to ourselves to experiment with what’s out there.
A lot of people push others into buying Final Draft and using that since the proprietary xml derived file format it uses (.fdx) is an industry standard that plugs into many other production and scheduling programs. However, there is no industry standard for writing stories and pretty much everything out there can output perfectly in .fdx format, so no writer should fear they can chose the wrong software to work with. Plus it takes about five minutes to pickup and learn a new program. Seriously there’s nothing to fear. People make way too big a deal about this.
You do need to be using screenwriting software however. The automating formatting will make your life a lot easier and help ensure the output of a professional looking pdf file.
When DO you need Final Draft? The moment you go pro is the time you absolutely should have it installed as you’ll most likely be making revisions back and forth with a producer or doing rewrites on set. You can also get the app for your phone/tablet allowing you to open and edit files on the road. For what it’s worth, I did onset rewrites for Break Even on an iPad with a Brydge bluetooth keyboard.
As far as all options go, here are links to everything I’m aware of in no particular order and without agenda;
- Arc Studio
- Celtx Studio (has a free trial period)
- Fade In Pro
- Final Draft
- Highland 2 (free but watermarks your pdf files)
- Movie Draft
- Movie Magic
- Raw Scripts.com (free)
- Script Buddy
- Script Studio
- Trelby (free)
- Writer Duet (free for your 1st three scripts)
- WriterSolo (free)