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Your screenwriting software options
Does screenplay formatting terrify you?
Are you afraid that your script’s appearance will make you look like an amateur? Or, even worse, a hack?
The Sci-Fi Maker Film School is in session and here to help!
In this episdode of the Sci-Fi Maker Show, we talk about screenwriting software. Including:
- Microsoft Word
- Final Draft
- Other options
Screenplay formatting can be intimating. Don’t get hung up on that.
It’s important to use the correct format even if you are going to produce your script yourself. Experienced cast and crew are used to working with that format.
Available for Windows and Mac for about a hundred bucks. There is a free trial available, too.
You can buy Microsoft Word as part of the Microsoft Office Suite or standalone.
You may already have Word. If so, there are templates, macros, and styles to assist with screenplay formatting.
It isn’t as elegant a solution as Scrivener or Final Draft, but many working screenwriters use Word.
I interviewed Kent Tolbert on the show recently and he’s doing just fine with Word. And he writes a LOT of scripts!
However, Word feels “corporate” to me. It is designed for business.
Also, different versions of Word have different looks and feels. It drives me crazy!
My favorite features are often cleverly hidden when I upgrade.
Also, when Word documents get large, Word gets wonky. I often encounter formatting problems and mysterious text changes.
Navigation with long scripts can be challenging.
If you already have Word, try the screenwriting templates, styles, and mactos.
It may be all you ever need for writing your scripts.
Available for Windows and Mac for $45. A free trial is also available.
Scrivener is a powerful tool for all kinds of writing.
It has a reputation for being hard to learn. I did not find that to be the case after watching a couple of instructional YouTube videos.
Scrivener has a lot of features to help writers organize their writing and research.
It is organized around projects. Inside each project you keep your scenes, notes, research, and pictures (if needed). You stay inside Scrivener during research and writing.
You can name your scenes, tag them, and move them around. It is very flexible.
Outlining tools are available, including a cork board with virtual index cards.
Scrivener allows you to write your script in screenplay format easily.
It is easier and faster than Word.
Scrivener has the most features, but you won’t use all of them.
You can output your scripts into Final Draft 8 files. That’s pretty handly.
If you do other types of writing, in addition to scriptwriting, Scrivener is probably the tool to beat.
Don’t be intimidated. Lots of writers swear by it.
Available for Mac and Windows for about $170. A free trial is available.
Final Daft is considered the industry standard for screenplay software.
It is easy to learn the basics of Final Draft. You can start writing almost right away.
I learned how to use it by watching a course on Lynda.com.
Not everyone loves it, but I do. It makes it easy to just focus on writing the script.
It has outlining features that work well and make it simple organize and reorganize your script.
Although it doesn’t have as many organizing features as Scrivener, it does offer more script formatting.
As the “industry standard,” Final Draft has many useful features designed for working scriptwriters.
It lets you creating shooting scripts with numbered scenes.
It also lets you lock down the script and manage script changes and versioning.
Final Draft is easy to use, yet powerful. If you become a working screenwriter, you will not outgrow it.
Final Draft is also available for iOS – $15 for full-featured writer and free reader software. Find out more here.
Many screenwriters swear by Fade In as an alternative to Final Draft. It costs about $50 with a free trail for Windows, Mac, or Linux.
There are many other software solutions for screenwriting.
I recommend using the most popular writing tools for a few reasons:
- There are more online resources and users which means you can usually find a solution for problems you encounter.
- The companies behind the more popular writing tools are less likely to go out of business.
- Co-writers are more likely to use them.
Don’t obsess over software options. Pick and tool and write.
More Sci-Fi Maker Film School goodness.