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Screenwriting software are word processors specialized to the task of writing screenplays. The need for such programs arises from the presence of certain peculiarities in standard screenplay format which are not handled well by generic word processors. A good example would be the formatting and revision-tracking requirements of shooting scripts. The page-break constraints imposed by standard screenplay format are also difficult to implement using standard word processors.
Most of the major screenwriting programs are standalone desktop applications. These include Celtx, DreamaScript, Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software, Final Draft, Scrivener, Montage, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Storyist, Movie Outline, Page 2 stage, Plot Builder, Practical Scriptwriter, Script It! and Sophocles.
There are also mobile screenwriting apps which run on mobile devices. This type of application allows users to create new scripts as well as import existing scripts from major screenwriting programs such as Fade In, Final Draft and Celtx. This includes Scripts Pro. Other solutions include web applications which run in a web browser with no software to install. These include ScriptBuddy, PlotBot, and WriterDuet.
There is also a plain text screenwriting syntax called Fountain, co-developed by screenwriter John August, which enables writing screenplays in any basic text environment, be it dedicated writing software, email or theoretically even any text that can be identified and recovered through OCR.
Many other programs are available as add-ins for generic word processors such as Microsoft Word. An example is Script Wizard. There is also a package for LaTeX called screenplay, as well as a template for Pages.
The first screenwriting software was a standalone script formatter, Scriptor, from Screenplay Systems. It took a text file generated by a word processor and inserted the proper page break tags. When used in conjunction with a TSR program such as SmartKey or ProKey—keyboard utilities that assigned a sequence of commands to keystroke combinations—the "dot commands" that Scriptor required could be inserted semi-automatically. Additionally, keyboard macros could be programmed to properly indent and enter abbreviations—allowing a user to customize the working of the word processor.
SmartKey was popular with screenwriters from 1982–1987, after which word processing programs had their own macro features.
An update to Scriptor understood the style sheets used in Microsoft Word for DOS. And so the need for key macro programs was lessened. Scriptor's limitation was that once formatted it was difficult to re-import the resulting text back into a word processor for further editing.
The next generation of screenplay software hooked into Microsoft Word. Warren Script Application was initially released as a set of style sheets for Word for DOS. It was updated for Word for Windows circa 1988. gScript, a shareware script formatter/template, was released via CompuServe in 1989. It was included on the disk accompanying the book Take Word for Windows to the Edge, published by Ziff-Davis in 1993. It was subsequently updated and released commercially as ScriptWright.
This third generation of screenplay software consists of the standalone script writing programs such as Movie Magic Screenwriter, Final Draft, and Cinovation's Scriptware.
The latest generation adds online storage and collaboration.
List of software
- Adobe Story - An online collaborative suite by Adobe for screenwriting. There is a paid monthly subscription, but a free limited option is available.
- A free screenplay template for Apple Pages that conforms to the formatting standards specified by Cole and Haag. For more information, follow external link below.
- Blockbuster by John Truby - Screenwriting software for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.
- BPC-Screenplay - Screenwriting software for Microsoft Windows.
- Celtx - Free to register, but requires paid subscription for the full collaborative version. Browser-based, with apps for Mac OS X, IOS, and Android. Includes a mode for comic book script-writing.
- DramaQueen - Screenwriting software for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux. Available as free, plus and professional version.
- DubScript - Free mobile screenwriting reader/writer for the Android (operating system). DubScript uses the Fountain (markup language) for writing and displays Fountain (v1.1), Final Draft, Celtx, and Trelby files. Imports Final Draft files and exports to Final Draft and HTML. Ad supported w/ads removed by in-app purchase.
- Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software - Professional screenwriting software for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux, with mobile versions for iPhone, iPad and Android. Imports and exports Final Draft as well as most other major screenwriting software formats.
- Final Draft - Professional screenwriting software for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.
- FiveSprockets - A discontinued free, online, collaborative story-development and scriptwriting web-software.
- Highland - A plain text screenwriting app for the Mac created by screenwriter John August.
- Logline - A screenwriting and outlining app for the Mac that uses the plain-text Fountain markup language.
- Montage software - Popular screenwriting software for Mac only.
- Movie Draft - no longer in support - non-linear screenwriting and play-writing software. Available for Mac and Windows.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter - Integrated professional screenwriting software. Available on Mac and Microsoft Windows.
- Movie Master - Professional screenwriting software for Windows only. (discontinued)
- Movie Outline - Professional script writing and story development software for Mac and Windows.
- Page 2 stage - Free open-source software, designed specifically for Windows. Available in a variety of languages.
- Pago - Powerful, open source screenwriting plugin for the Vim text editor.
- Plot Builder - Visually organize and write your screenplay in industry standard format. (For Windows)
- Plot Control - Start from any point in the creative process and create a fully developed outline of your screen story using Reelwriting.com's 8 Core Elements of Successful Movies.
- Plotbot - Free, browser-based screenwriting software with an eye for collaboration.
- Practical Scriptwriter - Professional script writing software for Windows. Formats cover Film, Stage, Radio and TV.
- Scenarius - Free software for professional film writers. During the creation process. Currently only in Polish-language version.
- Scripped - Professional browser-based screenwriting text editing software. (now defunct and no longer accessible)
- Script It! - Screenwriting software for writing and outlining movie screenplays, stageplays and novels.
- Scripts Pro - Popular Apple app for iPhone or iPad scripts-writing and editing of various scripts formats (.TXT, .FDX, .CELTX).
- Scriptware - Screenwriting software for Windows and Mac by Cinovation, Inc. Last updated in 2000.
- Scriptwriters' Toolkit - A low-cost set of 14 macro-driven professionally written templates for MS Word on Windows, covering many UK (BBC) and US script formats.
- Scrivener (software) - A powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents for Mac OS X and now on Beta for Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux.
- Slugline - A minimal distraction-free screenwriting app for Mac OS X, which uses the plain-text Fountain format.
- Sophocles - commercial story-development, scriptwriting and scheduling package (discontinued)
- SpecScripter - specscript writer, story development and screenplay critiquing software.
- Storyline Creator - Software for Mac OS and Microsoft Windows for drawing storylines based on characters and events. Allows quick drafting for ideas. Also has a free version.
- Story Touch - Professional screenwriting software for Mac OS and Microsoft Windows. Story Touch is a complete software for dramatic development, allowing you to write and analyze your script at the same time. It has a free version.
- Rough Draft - A discontinued but useful free software with the standard formatting for writing scripts.
- screenplay - A macro for writing screenplays using LaTeX or TeX, a free and open-source typesetting program. Available on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other platforms.
- Trelby - A free and open source screenwriting program currently available for Linux and Microsoft Windows, with a Mac OS X port on the way.
- WriterDuet - A free real-time collaborative screenwriting program that lets any number of writers (privately) work on a script, immediately seeing all edits. Converts from/to other common screenplay formats.
- www.afterwriting.com - Free, online screenwriting tool for screenplays written in Fountain markup language.