A good screenplay is one of the first steps in creating an acclaimed film, and writers at every level deserve industry-quality software for their creative process. Where to find the best screen writing software? There are so many options that it can be overwhelming, with each app and service packed with features that potential buyers must sort through.
Classic industry favorites like Final Draft and Celtx, for example, offer different tools than newcomers like Arc Studio Pro, and many of those options come down to personal preference and the writing process. Some writers may prefer software like Studio Binder, which allows writers to plan and design every step of the production process. Others may prefer software like Squibler, which is more focused on writing and the writing process. It’s important to invest in the right screenwriting software so you can follow the writing process that works best for you.
To help discover the best screen writing software for your needs, we’ve listed the top options available and their prices, which can be confusing. For comparison, the one-time purchase prices are translated into what the monthly cost would be if the software were purchased monthly. So for example, Final Draft is normally purchased for a one-time purchase of $200, but that price put in terms of a monthly subscription would be around $17 a month. We do the same for annual subscriptions, so the annual recurring price and what that price would be if the subscription is monthly are shown.
Final Draft is almost identical to screenwriting. It is loved by big industry professionals like Jon Favreau (The Mandalorian), Christopher McQuarrie (Top Gun: Maverick) and Sophia Coppola (Lost in Translation). In my opinion, the biggest draw of Final Draft is the formatting support that the software provides. Users can ensure that their scripts are formatted to industry standards with features such as Tab and Enter, the Reformat Tool and Format Assistant.
Final Draft can be purchased with a one-time payment of $250 (although it often sells for $200), which translates to a monthly subscription price of $21 a month for a year. It is important to note that Final Draft software upgrades are not included, and the current price to upgrade from Final Draft 11 to Final Draft 12 is $100.
Screenshot by Josh Goldman/CNET
Studio Binder is a solid catch-all option for writers interested in the directing and producing processes. It has features that truly support every stage of production with tools to create and manage call sheets, shooting scripts and more. Personally, I use Studio Binder for my own projects, and as a short film maker, I really appreciate that Studio Binder has all the tools I need.
One of Studio Binder’s biggest draws is its wealth of free content. Not only does the software have a competitive free option for those not willing to commit to a paid subscription, but Studio Binder also runs a blog full of valuable filmmaking information by breaking down the famous script, scenes and procedures.
Currently, four different subscription packages are available, including a basic free option; the Indie package comes at $29 a month followed by the Professional package at $49 and the Studio package comes at $99 a month. Those willing to commit can opt for a one-year subscription that can save you a few bucks on each package. The Professional Package is the best option for indie filmmakers, as it allows you to access all the most important parts of the production without some collaboration features and the ability to create custom branding found on the Studio package.
Squibler is writing software that values the writing process above all else. Although it doesn’t have the extra bells and whistles of others on this list, it does have powerful features focused on making the writing process more efficient. One of the most compelling features is the Editor mode, which allows writers to have insight into their progress. Squibler is also one of the cheapest options coming in at around $10 a month.
Arc Studio Pro
Arc Studio Pro is a new entry with some unique features. Built by writers for writers, it offers a wealth of tools to help writers produce industry-standard screenplays. A unique feature is the Plot Board, which gives writers more control over storyboarding and outlining as they write. Its formatting shortcuts are very helpful when writing to a deadline, too.
Currently, Arc Studio Pro offers three options for subscriptions: a competitive free option, an Essentials package for $69 a year ($5.75 a month), and the Pro Package for for $99 a year ($8.25 a month). The Pro Package is the way to go. For a little extra each year, you get some powerful features like The Stash, which allows you to delete parts of your screenplay without completely erasing it.
Celtx is another well-established software in the screenwriting world and another solid choice for writers who want to do it all. Celtx stands out by providing some powerful editing and resizing features. Unique features like Read-Through, which reads your script back to you so you can hear the dialogue you wrote and Script Insights which shows real-time writing statistics so you can make changes based on your productivity.
There are monthly and yearly payment options for Celtx packages. The Writer Pro package is about $25 a month or an average of $22 a month for an annual subscription. Celtx’s Team package is $60 a month for a monthly subscription and $54 a month for an annual subscription. The Team package gives you more access to features specific to producers, such as budgeting tools and scheduling features. Celtx’s Screenwriting Package is the way to go if you want solid screenwriting software.
Writer Duet is highly collaborative software that allows screenwriters to collaborate anywhere in the world. The most impressive collaboration feature is the ability to video and text chat with your writing partners while you’re all working on the same project. Writer Duet also has robust import and export capabilities, which means users can bring in other projects from other applications and export their projects to many different file types, which makes it easy to share projects with colleagues.
Writer Duet also has annual and monthly payment options and four different packages: Free, Plus, Pro and Premium. The free package, like most, offers the least features but fair competition. The Plus package is $10 a month or an average of $6 a month for an annual subscription. The Pro package goes up to $12 a month for a monthly payment schedule or $8 a month if you pay for the year and gives users a good portion of available features.
Paying for the Premium package is worth the additional cost of $14 a month or $10 a month if you pay for an annual subscription, as it gives you access to all available features, including all the amazing features of the collaboration.
Fade In is another industry favorite that focuses on bringing consistent performance to your writing process. There aren’t many fancy extras here, but there are some unique features from the rest of the market. Dialogue Tuner, for example, lets you edit all of a character’s dialogue at once so you can check for consistency and overused phrases. Fade In is one of the cheaper one-time payment apps on this list, coming in at $80, which drops to less than $7 a month for a year. Since it’s not a subscription, though, it’s only $80 and you’re done with free Fade In updates.