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Best FREE Screenwriting Software in 2022…PERIOD!

A welder cannot build a bridge without his torch. A rockstar can’t have a solo without his guitar. A screenwriter cannot write a script without screenwriting software.

Today we’ll look at five of the best screenwriting software programs out there in the market in 2021, and the best part, all of these choices are FREE.

Maybe you’re a first-time writer looking to try and bring the film you see in your head onto the page or maybe you’re a seasoned writing veteran looking for new software to try out. Well, let’s look at some of your best choices.


Arc Studio

Arc Studio is one of the best new screenwriting software options. It offers an easy-to-learn, intuitive interface with professional features and a free browser version (yes, totally free). It’s a great screenwriting software for professionals or beginners. One of the great things about Arc Studio is you can collaborate with other writers in real time, similar to Google Docs. You can also export your screenplay as a PDF or .fdx file for easy sharing and collaboration with other writers who use different software.

The cloud-based software allows you to access and write your screenplay from the downloadable software (Mac and PC), or in your browser, or from the iOS app on your iPhone or iPad. And it has automatic cloud storage with the ability to save to Google Drive or your hard drive, and access your screenplay from practically any device that has an internet connection.

Arc Studio also offers a great outlining tool for breaking your story and crafting your characters’ arcs.If you need production tools like colored pages and starred revisions, you won’t get that with this tool, though the Arc Studio team says those features are coming soon.

Cost: Free, with option to upgrade to the $99/year Pro version. You can download the software here


Celtx

Celtx is screenwriting/pre-production software designed for creating and organizing media projects in several different formats, film screenplays, television screenplays, stage plays, games, podcasts, and documentaries.

It is one of the most well-known screenwriting software in the film industry.

With many collaborative features built into its code its perfect if you want to collaborate on a script in real-time.

There are some features that require you to pay a monthly fee to use, but if you’re just looking for software that’ll allow you to simply write and have things in the proper industry standards when it comes to formatting, you can’t do wrong with Celtx.

Celtx is also available on all devices so it makes writing at home or on the go possible.

You can download the software here


WriterDuet

WriterDuet is screenwriting software for writing and editing screenplays and other forms of mass media.

Initially released in 2013, this software has been getting more recognition as time has moved along and is a favorite among up-and-coming filmmakers.

The software is powered by Firebase. This allows users to write together in real-time from multiple devices.

WriterDuet is an online-based program but recently the software has been given some off-line features that are free to use.

While it’s not false advertising to say that WriterDuet is free, there are some stipulations to the free title.

Unlike some other programs, WriterDuet allows its users to write their first THREE screenplays for free. After that, you either have to pay a per-month price or an annual free.

With that said, if you are a first-time writer, it’ll take you some time to fully finish your first –second – and even third screenplay. By that time, you may decide to invest some money into a full version of this software or go with a competitor.

Scripts written with WriterDuet allow the user to save their script in the FDX file format which 95% of Hollywood studios, producers, production companies use, so if you get a script request from someone in the industry you’ll be able to easily send the script in the proper format.

You can download the software here


Fade In

Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software or simply known as Fade In is screenwriting software for crafting film and television screenplays, stage plays, radio plays, graphic novels, and more.

The look of the software is very watered down allowing the user to simply focus on writing their script.

While the software is free, you can only work on one script at a time unless you want to pay a fee to work on more.

If you’re just getting your feet wet in screenwriting, the simple free version will do its job just fine.

You can save your script in FDX format as well, which means you can send your script to someone that uses Final Draft and its compatible.

With the software available for both Mac and Windows users, you don’t have to worry if it’ll work on your device.

You can download the software here


Trelby

Trelby is a free and open-source screenwriting program that provides a simple, uncluttered interface for writing scripts.

This is the only open source screenwriting program we have on this list. This means any user can edit the program’s code to add new features or take away ones. This is how innovations are made.

If you’re looking for software that not only allows you to write your script but also does other things like budgeting, create cast lists, and other related pre-production tasks, this isn’t the software for you as this software has none of those features.

Trebly is designed to be clean and straightforward. If you simply want to sit down and write, then Trelby is perfect for you.

Kudos to Trelby for being 100% free. There are no extra features that you have to pay for.

You can download the software here


Kit Scenarist

This is completely free screenwriting software that you may have never heard of before because it’s still in beta, but available to download now.

It allows you to export for Final Draft, Word DocX, and PDF files.

A major feature that caught our eye that no other screenwriting program features, is a clock that gives you an estimate of the duration of your screenplay. Each scene heading includes time for how long the software believes your scene will run.

This isn’t a feature that makes all other screenwriting software obsolete, but it’s a unique feature we haven’t seen before and could be useful, especially for those writers who tend to write longer than normal scenes. It’s also a great tool in quickly assessing the pace of your script.

The layout is amazingly simple and allows the user to focus on what’s most important, writing the actual script. Everything looks clean and sleek.

While the program is free, you can choose to pay for dedicated cloud storage and also buy a mobile version of the program for your phone so you can continue writing your script no matter where you are.

The only visible downside to Kit Scenarist is that since the program is still in the beta stage you may run into some issues here and there as the programmers are still working out all the kinks to the program’s code.

But if you’re looking for something brand-new, free, with some unique features, this could be the perfect screenwriting software for you.

You can download the software here

Celtx Screenwriting Software Review: Is It Worth It in 2022?

Celtx Screenwriting Software

There are a ton of screenwriting software options out there in the world. With so many to choose from it can be hard to decide which is the best one to use.

While, Final Draft is considered the industry standard screenwriting software tool, used by 95% of productions in Hollywood, there are other options that do the same job, and better yet, are free.

One of those options is the free screenwriting software, Celtx. Today, we will take a look at the software and give things a breakdown to see if this is software that you should download today.

One thing that needs to be mentioned before we fully dive into this article: DO NOT WRITE YOUR SCRIPT IN A WORD DOCUMENT!

Being a screenwriter that works with a lot of first-time writers, this is something I see happen all the time. Writers who have written their script in a Word document.

If you would send your script to a producer or production company and they saw that your script was in a Word doc, there’s a 100% chance they’ll never open it.

Why?

It shows a lack of basic knowledge of how screenwriting works. A script is extremely specific in the way it’s formatted. While, yes, you can break the mold on how to tell a story, all formatting is pretty much standard.

Your script must have:

  • Proper scene headings
  • Action lines.
  • Character Names
  • Dialog
  • Transitions (sometimes)

If you don’t know how to format correctly, something you can easily learn, then you probably didn’t take the time to learn how to write a compelling story. A producer doesn’t have enough time as it is, so don’t waste more of their time by not doing your homework first.

The good news? When you use screenwriting software, the software is designed to format things automatically for you, so you can spend less time on the way a script looks and spend more time on just telling an engaging story.

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Price

As stated before, a great reason to download Celtx is that the software is free.

You don’t have to spend any money to get your ideas on paper. With Celtx you can download the software and immediately get to work.

With that said, if you’re looking for some in-depth features, Celtx has them too, but you’ll have to pay for those extras.

If you want to do more than just simply write a screenplay, like write a budget, put together shot lists, scheduling, and more, then you’ll have to pay, per month, for those features.

These extras start at around ten dollars a month.

Collaborative

Celtx has a lot of collaborative features that allow many people to work on the same script together. This is great for films that are going into production as everyone involved can see the script, make changes to it, leave notes, and more – all in real-time.

This is a great tool for student filmmakers.

Not Perfect

Every new screenwriter should have some knowledge on how to format a script properly so if your screenwriting software isn’t working correctly, you’ll know how to make changes to get things looking and working correctly again.

While Celtx handles formatting well and is almost close to industry standards, the software still isn’t perfect.

The software will place (continued) on top of every new page, which isn’t needed.

Parentheticals in dialog should be on their own sperate line, which the software doesn’t automatically do.

Title pages are also a place where formatting can be a little different than industry standards, though to be fair, a program like Final Draft doesn’t handle title pages 100% correct either.

Conclusion

As an up-and-coming screenwriter, Celtx is a great option for you as it allows you to jump right into things and start writing. The icing on the cake is that its free.

Using Celtx will make you look more professional and will help you stand out from the thousands of other writers out there that choose to write their screenplays in Word Docs, really setting themselves up for failure before they even have typed…

… FADE IN.

Verdict

Recommend (especially for first-time or new-ish screenwriters).

You can download the Celix software here

What is Script Writing? Beginners Guide to Writing a Screenplay

“Screenwriting is the most prized of all the cinematic arts. Actually, it isn’t, but it should be.”
– Hugh Laurie.

This quote is perfect and a hundred percent true. When it comes to film and television scriptwriting, the writer, known as a screenwriter, has the most important job in the whole filmmaking process.

Maybe, though, you are not familiar with what Script Writing is and why screenwriters are so important.

Have no fear, that’s what we’ll dig into today.

What is Script Writing?

Every film or television show that has ever been produced first started off as a script.

The script is the film (or television show) in written/text form. Scene by scene playing out on paper.

Every action. Every image. Every line of dialogue. Every plot point. If it’s on the screen, it came from the script.

In the most basic set of terms, a script is the blueprint for the film you’re going to bring to life.

In the world we live in today, some people may think that the script isn’t the most important part of the filmmaking process (looking at you major studios). Some will say that if you can hire a talented actor, that actor can elevate a poor script into a good movie.

Or someone might have the thought that if the film can just attract an A-list director, they’ll be able to fix problems with the script.

The only issue is, a poor script will never turn into a good movie, because the script is your film’s foundation, and if that’s not solid, your film will never be strong enough to stand on its own.

With that said, on the other side of the coin, if you have a solid script, your film will only improve when you add talent in front and behind the camera.

We as an audience can overlook bad acting and crappy special effects if we are engaged with the story we’re watching. If we have a connection to what we’re seeing on the screen, we’re more forgiving for those other flaws because the story we’re following makes sense and we’re invested.

There’s no other form of writing quite like screenwriting (aka scriptwriting) because there are certain things you have to be able to do that you don’t necessarily do in another form of writing, like when writing a novel.

In a script, you must SHOW and NOT TELL.

This means, any information that you are going to share with the viewer must be done in one of two ways;

  1. Visuals
  2. Dialogue

If you haven’t pick one or the other, your script has been written incorrectly.

A lot of first-time screenwriters get themselves into trouble when it comes to this because they believe that they can write their script just like they would a novel.

That is WRONG.

The great thing about writing a novel is that you can really get into a character’s head. The writer can tell you exactly what that character is thinking/feeling. The character can express themself to the writer in a very personal way.

The write can reveal information to the reader that has nothing to do with the story but gives the story context. The writer can change perspectives and get into the heads of several characters in the story.

If you are writing a script and looking to write the script correctly, you can’t do any of that.

If you need to key the audience in on something you either have to show it as a visual, or a character needs to say it as dialogue.

Unlike a novel, which we the reader hold in our hands and read for ourselves, the script is never seen by the viewer. The viewer only sees and hears what is taking place on the screen.

Also, unlike a novel, everything written in a script has to be written in the present tense, as the action taking place on the screen is happening in real-time whereas a novel can summarize the events that have taken place.

This can make conveying information to the audience exceedingly difficult as a screenwriter and can lead to what we call “heavy exposition”.

You ever watch a film or television show and come to a moment when it feels like a character is just telling you, the viewer, things you need to know because they’re important to the story? That’s exposition. It feels forced if not done properly.

Think of your favorite and least favorite film and television shows. What did you pick as your favorite? What did you pick as a film you hate? If you analyze things closely for a moment you’ll realize, that while you might hate or like a film because of an actor, or who directed it, you’re remembering the film as a whole based on the story it told.

If I were a betting man, I’d say that the difference between your favorite film and a movie you hate, comes down to the story, and that is all on the screenwriter and how he wrote his/her script.

Script writing has many elements to it and can take a while to learn how to do all those things correctly. It can take even longer to become good at it. But it is also one of the most rewarding writing mediums there are.

I’d like to close out by writing a little scene to show as an example of what I’ve talked about here today when it comes to writing a screenplay compared to a novel, and how you SHOW in a film and TELL in a novel.

First, we’ll write a very quick scene as if it were inside of a novel.

Novel

Mike paces the room back and forth. He’s covered in his own sweat from having just come from the gym, a place he goes every day for at least two hours.

As he paces the room, a familiar face, Jill, enters the room with him.

Jill’s face, filled with a giant smile. She looks at Mike slightly confused having not expected to see him at this moment. She’s very thankful that she decided to come to the living room by herself.

Just moments earlier, she told her boyfriend, the man she’s cheating on Mike with, to not come out to the living room with her to investigate the noises she was hearing. If he would have come with her, Mike would certainly find out about her cheating ways.

“I didn’t think you’d be here till later tonight”, said Jill. “I was feeling restless and just had to see you right now”, Mike replied.

Jill starts to get butterflies in her stomach. What could Mike need to see her right now about? Does he know she’s cheating on him? She starts to lose her smile as she waits to hear what else Mike has to say….

Now, let’s write this small scene like we would in a screenplay and not a novel. Remember, all the information we need to convey must be in visuals or dialogue to tell our story.

Screenplay

INT. HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – DAY

Mike, paces the room back and forth. He wears his gym gear, holds a large,
almost empty, bottle of water. His face covered in sweat.

He stops pacing as he sees, Jill, joining him in the room.

Jill greets him with a big smile on her face.

JILL
What are you doing here?

Jill looks slightly behind her where the bedroom door is slightly cracked. We see a
shadow on the wall moving around. Appears to be in the shape of a man.

MIKE
I was feeling restless and just had to talk to you right away.

Jill’s eyebrow slightly raises. Her smile starting to fade away.

JILL
(nervous)
About what? Is everything okay?

Mike stops pacing the room. He looks towards Jill. He goes to speak when…
he sees the shadow from inside the bedroom with his own eyes.

MIKE
I knew it!

As you can see, we wrote the same exact scene as in the novel, except we didn’t tell the audience any information. Instead, we used visuals and dialogue to tell all the important information to the audience.

We do not tell the audience that Mike has been at the gym for hours. We show that he’s wearing gym clothes, he’s sweating, and almost out of water. As the audience, we can take this information and figure out what it must mean.

Personally, this is an aspect of screenwriting that I LOVE. Finding the right way to share information with the audience. The more you learn the art of screenwriting the more creative you’ll find yourself presenting the information.