Whether it’s a summer blockbuster or a low-budget indie, if you have an idea for a film, you have to get it down on paper. Unfortunately, writing for the screen is chock full of formatting quirks and peculiarities. This can make writing a screenplay without dedicated software incredibly tedious. Luckily, technology can help you focus on story rather than formatting. This can spare your sanity, especially when you’re trying to pen the next box office smash. While programs like Final Draft are widely considered the industry standard, it can be a pricey investment.
Luckily, you don’t have to let an empty wallet stand in the way of your Hollywood dream. There are a ton of software options out there that can help you automate the formatting process. We’ve done the hard work for you and sniffed out the best screenwriting software that you can grab for the low, low price of free.
Trelby is a free, open-source screenwriting software platform that is super simple to use. It automatically forces the correct industry standard formatting, so you can jump in and start writing. Trelby also intelligently alternates between sluglines, action and dialogue.
In addition, Trelby supports importing text from a variety of popular formats including Celtx, Final Draft, Fade In and Adobe Story. Trelby can export in RTF, HTML, Final Draft and Fountain. Finally, it can also generate watermarked PDFs. Currently, Trelby is only available for Windows and Linux.
Celtx is an acronym for “Crew, Equipment, Location, Talent and XML,” referring to all of the areas that Celtx can help bring your vision to life. In this regard, Celtx is different in that it doesn’t position itself solely as a screenwriting solution. Instead, Celtx is a cloud-based pre-production suite. It enables users to collaboratively work on story development, storyboarding, scheduling and more.
Celtx offers different packages which include different tools and features, but these all come at a price. If you’re just interested in using Celtx for screenwriting, you’re in luck. The “Basic Scriptwriting” package is completely free, all you need to do is sign up.
3. Page 2 Stage
Page 2 Stage is a screenwriting tool that started life as a commercial product. Currently, however, the software is completely free to use. Like the others on this list, Page 2 Stage supports common script formats for film, television and stage. In addition, it offers a unique feature which analyzes your script to generate a report on the flow of dialogue and scenes.
Since it has been abandoned by its developers, Page 2 Stage has no support whatsoever. If you do decide to give it a try, make sure you enter the username and password provided on their website. Otherwise all of the scripts created with Page 2 Stage will feature an ugly “Demo” watermark.
If you’re after a mobile solution, DubScript might be what you’re looking for, provided you have an Android device. Featuring a clean, easy-to-use interface, DubScript auto-formats your writing as you type. You can import scripts from Final Draft, Trelby, HTML and plain text. Save your screenplay as plain text, Final Draft, HTML and PDF.
All of DubScript’s features are enabled in the free version of the app; however, it is ad-supported. In addition, the free version of the app puts a small watermark on generated PDFs and printed hard copies. To get rid of these annoyances, you’ll have to pony up a monthly fee. Sorry iPhone users, DubScript is not available for iOS.
5. Amazon Storywriter
Amazon Storywriter is a cloud-based screenwriting app. Like the others on this list, it auto-formats your text into appropriate screenwriting conventions. Since it is cloud-based, you’ll be able to access your scripts on any device and easily share them with others.
With the help of the Chrome app, you’ll be able to work offline and easily sync your edits once you get back online. When you’ve completed your script, you can use Storywriter to submit it directly to Amazon Studios. With a lot of skill and a little bit of luck, your script might find its way to their development slate!
Have we missed your favorite screenwriting tool? Which dedicated screenwriting app helps bring your ideas to life? Let us know in the comments!