Our recommended overall best screenwriting software is Arc Studio Pro, Final Draft and Sudowrite. We reviewed the top screenwriting tools, taking into account depth of features, collaboration, ease of use, value and, of course, customer reviews.
Best OVERALL 🥇
Great for collaboration, easy export of industry standard files, and a free version.
Best FOR TEAMS 😀
Very intuitive to use, and helpful tutorials for beginners.
Best for CREATIVITY ✅
AI generated suggestions, powerful brainstorming tools and a full feature free trial.
Screenwriting is one of the world’s most competitive creative industries.
According to salary.com, the average screenwriter earns around $62,000 per year. Getting noticed is difficult, but it becomes even more so if you’re making mistakes with formatting or storyboarding.
Getting the right software will add a layer of professionalism, but how do you make a choice when there are so many free and paid tools to choose from?
We can help – let’s get started.
- What Is The Best Screenwriting Software?
- What Is Screenwriting?
- What Is A Screenplay?
- What is the history of screenwriting?
- How To Learn Screenwriting
- How To Get Into Screenwriting?
- Final summary: Which is the best Screenwriting Software to Use?
What Is The Best Screenwriting Software?
Just to recap, our top three options are:
Below is a more detailed breakdown of each screenwriting software. Here’s how we got to our top three.
1. Arc Studio Pro
What Is It?
Our favourite screenwriting software is Arc Studio Pro.
It is a screenwriting all-in-one software that is used for screenwriting and script development.
It’s great for allowing several people to collaborate on the same document. It offers features such as script formatting, outlining, note-taking, and collaboration tools.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Arc Studio Pro?
Let’s start with the pros.
- It is designed to streamline the screenwriting process, allowing you to easily organize and structure ideas, and collaborate with others on the same project.
- It is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and it supports industry-standard file formats such as Final Draft, PDF, and others.
- The software offers free and paid versions. The free version has limited functionalities compared to the paid version.
- Online and offline collaboration, with simple design and lots more resources that make it easy to start.
What are the cons?
- The free version is fairly limited with only two scripts enabled.
- It’s a bit of a learning curve, which can take a bit of time to get the most out of all the features. It’s not too hard to intuitively figure out how to work it, but there is a process.
- It’s designed to have the depth of features for professionals, which means that individual screenwriters might find it a little daunting to use first up.
Is Arc Studio Free?
Yes and no. There is a free version but you’ll probably want to pick the essentials because it shoots up from two scripts to unlimited.
How Much Does It Cost?
Essentials is $69 per year, Pro is $99 per year. Worth checking the site regularly though, because this is constantly changing.
Our Overall Verdict
Arc Studio Pro
An excellent screenwriting tool, with an easy to use interface, fair pricing and ideal for both beginners and larger teams.
An incredibly intuitive piece of screenwriting software that’s easy to use and brilliant for formatting professional looking scripts, while collaborating with teams.
2. Final Draft
What Is It?
Final draft is such a popular piece of software that other brands allow it to be easily integrated into their own, boasting of seamless handovers.
The features of final draft are famously easy to use, while it offers multiple imports from other formats. You can work on several projects at once and you’ll never have to worry about formatting.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Final Draft?
- There is excellent versatility across formats, and each have professional look and excellent formatting.
- The design is intuitive, and the emphasis on white space makes it feel clean and easy to read / write with, encouraging users to go with the flow.
- There are tutorials about how to navigate the features, which is a real plus in getting to grips with it.
- The shortcuts and keystrokes help you get thoughts down quickly, so you don’t have your flow interrupted when you’re ‘in the zone’.
- Extremely user-friendly which makes it popular for both businesses and beginners.
- Some users take issue with the pricing point, explaining that there are free tools that do a lot of the simple features. However, final draft does boast impressive flexibilty.
- Cross platform compatibility, with issues occasionally reported on Windows.
- Frequent updates, which means that different collaborates might be using different versions of the software.
Is Final Draft Free?
There is a free trail of Final Draft.
How Much Does It Cost?
Here is the pricing table for Final Draft.
Our Overall Verdict
An excellent screenwriting tool, with an easy to use Final draft is the industry standard for a reason, it’s an excellent piece of software for funtionality, ease and flexibility.
We slightly prefer the design and pricing of Arc Studio, which is why that’s our number one.
However, Final Draft is still a very good option.
What Is It?
Sudowrite is a software tool that is excellent for creativity thanks to its clever AI suggestion feature. It’s perfect for overcoming writer’s block and offers a full featured free trial, but can take time to set up properly.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Sudowrite
- There are features that offer users a different level of control and experience.
- Excellent for creativity and to stop you getting ‘stuck’ when writing.
- AI generated suggestions.
- Labs for experimenting with ideas.
- A user friendly on boarding process (online tour of app after signing up).
- Powerful brainstorming tools, reasonably priced (plus free trial is available).
- Easy to navigate with a smooth design interface.
- As with many software tools, people always cite the price as an issue – it really depends on the depth of features you’ll benefit from.
- Can take time to set up the AI properly.
- It’s missing a plagiarism checker which is always a concern with AI.
Is Sudowrite Free?
Yes, there is a free trial.
How Much Does It Cost?
Try for free. Three paid tiers – $10 per month to $100 month (depending on number of AI generated words)
Our Overall Verdict
An AI powered writing assistant developed especially for screenwriters that is perfect for overcoming writer’s block and offers a full featured free trial, but can take time to set up properly.
Those are our top three, what are the best of the rest?
WriterDuet is another popular option for aspiring and established screenwriters. It also publishes to industry standard, boasts good compatibility and has a nicely designed interface which is intuitive to use.
5. Movie Magic Screenwriter
Movie Magic Screenwriter is used by many professional screenwriters. It includes a range of formatting and writing tools, as well as collaboration features and integration with other industry-standard software.
6. Adobe Story
Adobe Story is a cloud-based screenwriting software that is popular for its collaboration and integration with other Adobe products, such as Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing.
7. Fade In
Fade In is a screenwriting software that is known for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive set of formatting and writing tools. It is used by many professional screenwriters and is available for both Mac and Windows.
What Is Screenwriting?
Now you’ve heard about the best software, what about the art itself?
Screenwriting, put simply, is the craft of writing scripts for film, television and any other visual material that appears on film – YouTube, Streaming platforms, etc.
A screenplay is produced by a (hopefully skilled) screenwriter as a written document that describes the story and characters, and outlines the actions and dialogue of the characters.
What elements does screenwriting include?
Screenwriting is the art of piecing everything together, from a compelling narrative to a well-rounded plot, and characters that the reader will really, really care about.
Part of the skill is to format and arrange the script so that producers and filmmakers can realize their vision by bringing it to life as it was intended.
Screenwriting is part creativity, part writing, part plotting and part understanding the industry well enough to execute it.
Film and television production process play a huge role, and newer media like YouTube and TikTok is transforming how we see scripts, write scripts and communicate stories with our audiences.
What Is A Screenplay?
A screenplay is a written document that describes the story and characters of a film or television show.
It’s the blueprint for a film or television show, and is used by filmmakers, producers and directors to bring the story to life.
How do scenes work in a screenplay?
A screenplay is normally divided into multiple scenes, which are specified by a scene heading that includes the location setting, and time of day.
Then comes the detail.
Each scene is further broken down into detail about visual actions and spoken dialogue. You need to both describe what is happening in the scene, as well as how the characters are moving, and what they might be doing.
The reason that screenplays are written in a specific format is to make them easier to both read and understand.
In capital letters, you’ll have the character names, what they say, action descriptions, and scene headings.
Screenplays are normally written by multiple people (a writing team) who collaborate on their creative work usually using a type of cloud-based software which shows their input and saves work automatically.
What is the history of screenwriting?
Screenwriting nowadays has a modern ring to it.
However, it goes all the way back to the very early days of cinema.
Early cinema and the first screenwriters
In the 1920s and 1930s, screenwriting became a higher profile creative craft, with the establishment of screenwriting guilds and the development of standardized formats for screenplays.
The Hollywood studio system, played a fairly significant role in shaping the entire screenwriting process, where writers often started working in teams to develop and revise scripts.
Mid century shift
In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a shift.
The rise and rise of independent cinema, and the emergence of amateur filmmakers created a real emphasis on personal expression – and originality in the craft of screenwriting.
In the 1970s and 1980s, home video (their version of TikTok), plus cable television, opened up new opportunities for screenwriters, and led to the creation of a vast range of film and television content which aimed to push the boundaries.
The screenwriters of today
Today, screenwriting continues to evolve and change with the times, with the rise of streaming platforms and the increasing importance of digital media the challenge for writers is different – and will continue to develop alongside new platforms for audiences to consume.
How To Learn Screenwriting
Screenwriting comes down to many skills, some which can be learned, and some where you’ll have to lean on experiences.
The education route
Many schools, universities and collages offer screenwriting classes or workshops run by experts in the field. It’s a great way to get started with the fundamentals and crucially start getting feedback.
Once you know the basics in formatting, story structure and plot, you need to practice relentlessly.
The best way to start is by writing short scenes or exercises to get the hang of the way individual scenes hang together, and then work your way up to writing a full-length screenplay.
Learning through others
One of the best ways to learn screenwriting is to read as many screenplays as you can in your spare time.
There really is no substitute for this.
It will help you get a sense of how professional screenplays developed and inspire you for your own writing.
Pay attention to the storytelling techniques used in films, such as plot twists and subtle character arcs. Think about how everything was created deliberately, and how the writers laid breadcrumbs for people to follow and pull them deeper into the story.
Be self critical
You must get feedback from other writers, professionals, or friends and family that know what you’re trying to achieve. They’ll help you to identify good bits, bad bits, and which parts of the plot should undergo rewrites.
Make sure that whenever you submit work for others to read that you put time into proofreading properly.
If you haven’t got someone to help you do this, then you might want to lean on a proofreading tool or app to help you make sure your screenplay is error free.
Ultimately, you’ll get out of it what you put in, so approach it with an open mind and get sharing.
How To Get Into Screenwriting?
Screenwriting is like any creative pursuit. It’s competitive.
What you shouldn’t do is pander to the widest possible audience, because then your work will lack impact. Hitting a niche that you truly understand is fine.
After that, you’ll need to create connections.
Go to film festivals, free networking events, creative talks, casual drinks. You could even consider paying up for membership of professional organizations, where you’ll meet likeminded people.
Above all, make sure your work is perfectly ready for consumption – which means it needs to be proofread accurately and formatted correctly.
Once you’ve learned and honed your craft, you might consider getting represented by an agent or manager. Their job will be to get you in front of the right people, who will know how to crack the industry.
Final summary: Which is the best Screenwriting Software to Use?
We’ve been through a wide range of screenwriting software programs that are popular among professional screenwriters, depending on their teams, programs, formats and level of experience.
Most professionals use one of the options we listed above, with a slight slant towards Final Draft, which has a truly vast array of collaboration features.
Our personal recommendation would be Arc Studio, because of its price point and interface – but ultimately it’s up to you!
We hope you found this article useful – let us know which software you think is the best, and don’t forget to subscribe to us on social @softwarepig.