Best FREE Screenwriting Software in 2021…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.
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.
Cost: Free, with option to upgrade to the $99/year Pro version. You can download the software here
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John August, (Aladdin, Big Fish)
Jim Uhls (Fight Club)
Daniel Knauf (HBO Showrunner)
Online Screenwriting Courses:
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
- The Script Lab Workshops
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- How to Write a FAST Screenplay
- WGA Presents: The Art of Screenwriting
- Screenwriting Masterclass: How to Write Fascinating Characters
- Screenwriting Masterclass: Craft Complex Characters
- FREE 3 Part Screenwriting Video Series Taught by Oscar® Winning Screenwriters
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Fade in Screenwriting Transcript
Creating screenplays really is its own form of writing, and dedicated software makes life a whole lot easier. Fade In is a great affordable and professional tool for writing your next summer blockbuster, a period romance. We’re going to take the next few minutes to show you how to get the most from it. After launching fade in will provide you with a blank generic screenplay document. Now that’s fine if that’s what you’re writing. But if you’re drafting a different format, choose File templates new from template and choose the appropriate one from the list. You can also download alternate templates and install them via the file templates, manage templates window. The magic of screenwriting software like fade in is the automatic formatting.
Let’s take a look. Typically you’ll start a scene by specifying whether it’s an interior or exterior. As you start typing fade in anticipates what you want. You can use the arrow keys to select if there are a list of items with simply press enter to automatically type the highlighted one. Here we’ll then type the location, then a hyphen, and then start typing evening.
As soon as Faden suggests evening, we’ll press Enter to accept. To the right you’ll see the Format tab showing you what style of formatting is being employed for your current line of text. When we pressed enter fade in automatically switched from the scene heading to the action format, since that’s commonly what follows a scene header. Of course, if for some reason you need to switch directly to a character speaking, you could select that formatting option instead. After typing the name of the character, pressing return will automatically switch you to the dialogue format ready to type the characters lines. Simple. Of course having to click over to the format bar every time you want a custom format could get tiresome. Instead, hold down the Alt key on a PC or Command key on a Mac and press the number keys to switch between the different formats.
As you continue to build your scenes, you’ll see that fade in automatically creates a list of scene headers, and you can double click to jump between them. But that’s not the only convenience when working with scenes in phaedon. It’s common for writers to block out the scenes on index cards. You may leave the third scene on written while you focus on later scenes and then come back to it. Fade In actually works the concept of index cards right into the writing process.
Choose documents, index cards, and fade in switches to a view of your script laid out with one index card for each scene. You’ll see here we have three scenes we’ve already written along with the second scene that’s currently just a heading placeholder. Double click in the body of an index card to add a scene synopsis and any notes you want to jot down. You can also set a color for the card that will appear in its top right corner both here and in the navigator window.
Of course, you may want to start the writing process in this view as you organize your story. Right click between two cards and choose Insert index card to add a new one. Right click and choose cut to remove one you can drag to rearrange the cards. Of course remember this will also change the order of the scenes in your actual script. To return to the standard script view, just the Select index cards at the bottom of the Navigator, a show button gives you the option to include the top line of the synopsis from the index card in the navigation listing. It’s a good idea since the scene headings themselves are often repeats if you’re reusing locations.
In fact, you may want to choose Show synopsis first, for a more helpful navigation entry. By default fade in list the page count for each scene. But you can also list time in minutes and seconds based on the industry rule of thumb, one minute per page. We’ve already seen the Format tab at top right. But there are additional tabs for characters you’ve added to your script so far, your locations and other scripting shortcuts. The items listed in these tabs are what will autocomplete as you type. For example, let’s say we plan on having multiple scenes in the master bedroom. We simply add it to the list here in the locations tab. Once it’s part of the list, the next time we type in M after an interior or exterior master bedroom is included as an autocomplete option.
The other tab has Well, all the other stuff. Let’s say we have a lot happening at noon, we’ll go to the same times and add noon as a time. Now after masterbedroom, we’ll add a dash and then start typing noon. It’s there waiting for us in order complete, and we can use the up and down arrows to select between it and night, pressing Return or Enter to come in. Sometimes you’ll end up writing a character out of your script entirely. Maybe you added a French maid and then decided it was too offensive a stereotype to your French audience. To avoid confusion when you’re counting characters later, click the rebuild button. Faden will scan your script and include only characters currently appearing in the script in the resulting list. And should you decide that calling your heroine Gruen Hilda is not going to track well with your audience. You can rename her in the characters tab. Faden will ask you to confirm that you want to propagate the changes throughout the script.
Welcome to the Quickstart tutorial for writer duet screenwriting software. Let’s take a tour of the writer duet layout. on the page itself, you’ll find that you have everything you need to start writing. Type I n t.or e x t.to. Start a new scene automatically. Use Enter to create new lines and tab to navigate between common line types like action, character and dialogue. For more about screenplay formatting, check out the formatting guide under help script examples formatting.
Although I do definitely recommend just giving it a try, First, select the comment bubble to the left of your active line to add comments, image or video links or to check or restore the changes that have occurred for that line throughout the scripts history. Now let’s take a quick look at the left sidebar we’re ready to do it has all of the tools and features that you’ll need. When you open the menu panel, you can explore the menu options or search using the features search bar, you can navigate to Tools like the Outliner time machine, and you can manage tags, revisions, reports and more. In the menu, you’ll also find the Customize window where you can adjust functions, the display formatting etc. The portfolio panel allows you to open your portfolio and create new projects. You can also manage the documents associated with your project. For example, double click the title page to open it.
From the menu on each dock, you have options to rename, copy, merge documents, or even create views within your documents.
In the Project panel, you can change project details and select the template for your document. Ready to do it auto saves to our servers to allow you to work with others or across devices in real time. In the Save widget You can also find save options under Save as or you can export to any relevant file type. The cards panel displays your content and card form, jumped to a card by clicking the arrow icon or seen number in the top right corner, tag or color a card. Focus on a card to isolate that scene or remove a card to delete that scene. All within the menu in the upper right corner of each card.
Click hold drag to move cards to new positions that will be reflected in the document. The private pad widget is a space to collect private notes as you write. If you share the project, no one else will see these private notes. The share panel has everything you need to start and manage collaborations, view add or remove collaborators or edit their permissions when necessary with a number of options. Since ready to do it is sinking in real time. You can write at the same time on opposite ends of the script, or even the same line. Next step, the comments in chat panel here. All the comments made in the project are sorted in chronological order by default, you can reply to comments from the option that appears on hover. You can also edit color, resolve and remove comments.
The chat widget allows for group and individual chat, chat or video chat with contacts by clicking on their name. Under the Menu icon find options to review their live or past changes or follow along as they’re working with the mirror tool. The line types and tools panel lists all of your line types to switch between as needed. In the tool section beyond tools for editing. As you write, you have tools for importing and exporting your script formatting tool dialog and full screen mode. In the bottom left corner, you can open up the layouts widget and choose from a variety of layouts like focus, which strips away any distractions and lets you focus on the page.
Writer duets layout is highly customizable. widgets can be added and removed or dragged anywhere to fully customize your layout. You can even customize the colors under customize display. In the profile and notification panel, you can manage your account information. Under account you can update your avatar email password and subscription.
The notifications widget will notify you of collaborator activity, such as New comments on the script. This is also where you can upgrade your subscription we recommend right to do at Pro for unlimited scripts, full co writing capabilities, full access to your scripts infinite history, total customizability and production tools. That should be everything you need to get you started. With any more questions you have, check out the knowledge base in the menu under a help knowledge base to explore the details and intricacies of all of our features. And please always feel free to reach out with any questions. our support team is here to help. So get in there and start writing.
Arc Studio Pro Transcript
Hi, Ted Wilkes here with art studio. And in today’s video, I’m going to walk you through some of the tools within the software, which will help you in maximizing your productivity when you come to tackle writing your next screenplay. So the first thing I want to share with you is the writing schedule, which sets of writing reminders for you which assist in shaping the writing habits you want to build, and keeps your momentum going when you’re working on a project.
In this instance, I’ve selected every day, which means if I haven’t written anything by 6pm, that day, art studio is going to send me a reminder email, which is going to give me a little nudge to jump in and get some pages written. Now, although writing every day, even just for 10, or 20 minutes is a great way to ensure that you are forming a lasting habit with your writing. I know that it’s often hard with other commitments to dedicate yourself to that regime. So art studio lets you set your own writing schedule, which suits you and allows you to create writing goals which are attainable for you.
Another function that you can use is the Send me progress reports tool. And if you check this arc studio will fire over an email to let you know how many pages you’ve written at the end of the day, and start counting up the writing streak that you’re on. This is a great habit forming tool, as it allows you to really visualize the progress that you’re making on a screenplay.
If you do miss a day, which is going to happen every so often. arc studio will keep the writing streak that you’re ongoing and you’ll be sent a nudge email to get back on course, it’s only if you miss two sheduled writing days in a row, they go straight will be reset to zero, which becomes a great motivator to be certain that you are forming that all important writing habit. Now the next thing I want to show you is focus mode. So here we are in a script. And if I go down here and click this symbol, it will hide all of the UI and allow for you to more easily get into the flow of your writing. This is sometimes enough for you to be able to get on with some distraction free writing.
If you want to go a little further, you might want to explore using the Pomodoro technique where you write for a fixed length of time and then take an allotted break. This can be a really effective way of breaking down a larger task into manageable chunks. intimates and springs are a popular way the professional writers use to maintain maximum creativity and productivity.
Just down here you can activate a time target which sets you off on a writing sprint of anywhere from 10 to 120 minutes. Another little neat trick is that you can have art studio nag you when you’re not writing by checking this function on so that if you do get distracted by something else, and you navigate away from your screenplay for 30 seconds, you’ll get a little nudge which directs you back to getting on with your work. When you finally hit your writing goal for this particular sprint.
You are then prompted to take a short break so that you can recharge your batteries and get ready to take on another sprint. You can like this video and subscribe for more screenwriting tips or you can find out more on our website arcStudiopro.com
Okay, so you don’t have $300 that you want to spend on Final Draft. You’d rather use that on equipment for your short.
Oh,my internet is broke. Let’s try this again. Let’s throw it into the gulags and we’ll put trilby there we go tr e lb why, and it’s brought up this is a free program for writing your, your scripts, it can be a feature a short whatever you want. Free of charge, it’s good. Okay, so we’re gonna go to [email protected] and we’ve got Windows and Linux sorry Mac users
There’s probably other programs just type in free script writing software for a Mac and you’ll find something but this is just for Windows it looks like I thought that a Mac version try Celtics see if they have a Mac version. Those difficult to find the download the free download for Celtics, anyways, geysers, getting started guide, full documentation, all sorts of stuff. Anyways, click next trilby will be placed on my computer. So you can use it for free to write my Oscar winning script. It’ll take a little while depending on your computer. This should be quicker than that. Done. All right,click finish, finish. And we’re going to go and have a look where did it put it on my computer? There it is. We’ll click that. And there we go. got trolled on the computer. Now the magic happens.
Okay, let’s go through everything we can do here new, open, save, save as close revert, import, export, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, settings. Okay, undo redo copy, paste, copy system. We got some stuff in here. We’re just going to go through this. And just let our brains let it sink in a bit. We don’t have to know what everything does. But we’re just going to go through here. Script report location part. This is advanced stuff. We don’t need to know this. We just want to write our script. Alright, commands manual and about. Alright, so let’s just start here. I haven’t used this in a while guys. So this is going to be rusty. I’ve been using Celtics a lot. But I find again, it’s hard to find the free download trilby makes it super simple that I use trilby for years. So I recommend it. So let’s see. Let’s type in a scary funny thriller. Okay, so that’s the title. Huh? It’s all coming back. Man. Okay, that’s not working the way I want it to. So let’s just randomly hit the keyboard. Alright, so let’s go to new there. I want to clean fresh slate. All right, let’s discard the changes. Go to let’s just look through these new script. Open script. Save, save as script setting. Right close script, sledding the sink into my brain so I can remember. All right, global settings. Alright, so we’re, what am I looking for? I’m looking for the title. And I forget how to do it. But I’ll remember Okay, over there. There it is. Action. And scene. So we’re on scene mode. As you can see, it says scene over there a man. I’m going to call this thing a man saves the world. Okay.
Okay, now I’m in character mode. So, you’ll see in the top right hand corner, you can click Okay, so I clicked I wrote Trevor. And now I’m doing the dialogue. So after you hit enter, it goes into dialogue mode. As you can see, it says dialogue.
I will save the world says Trevor. Alright, now we’re back into character mode. So I have to come up with a new character. who would it be?
There’s a character when you hit enter goes a dialogue. And when you hit tab, it goes to action. Oh, Jackson is is the new character but there was a slash which I got rid of. That would be that would probably imma save the world that would probably be wise.
I like living. Period. Hit enter. Now it goes back to character mode. But now as soon as you hit the T tripper pops up, you hit enter and it goes right to dialogue mode. So it goes really quick here. Trevor goes as do I he likes to live.
But not the But Doctor Who? Who’s the bad villain antagonist, Dr. Smash Earth Dr. Smash earth but you It seems Dr. Smash Earth has new weaknesses. There we go. Oh, it’s getting tense. How can they beat someone who has no weaknesses? Alright, Dr. Smashmouth. Now this is I’m in character mode right here. So it will remember that I wrote dr smasher right here. I hit Enter right into dialogue mode.
Alright, so we have three characters in the memory right now. So as soon as you type like oh yeah, I went to action mode there guys I hit enter and now this is action so it writes it sort of more to the left. Dr. Smash Earth shoes no shows. Dr. Smash Earth sneaks in and what?
What does he do? He jumps, jumps or jumps out of the darkness. There we go.
Oh, oh, I spelled it wrong. It’s going to our desert heroes. That’s how I spell the wrong spot heroes, right? That’s fine. Whatever. You get the point. That’s action. All right, I hit t all of a sudden Trevor shoots up, hit enter. This is going quickly. Oh, my doctor. Smash. Oh, not him.
But just smash of exclamation mark, enter Jackson. In the flesh, oh, the flesh. Alright.
It is heating up, folks. Alright, so we are again, hit enter. go right into dialogue mode
Speak of the devil. Alright, so you guys get the point. He just sort of put in the character. It remembers the character. Oh, now I wrote the end. It’s sort of thinking it’s a character. But what apps you guys get the point. It’s very quick. It’s very simple. We’re going to save as it will be called a trilby file tr e lb y. And you can put it anywhere in your computer. Know how to save the Earth. There we go. Alright, so it’s very simple, very fast. Each What?
Okay, whatever. So each page represents about a minute of screen time. So you’re using this. So you’re gonna find out how long your script is. So in the class I’m teaching, they’ve got three to four minutes to make a short. So this program will let them know how long their scripts going. Yeah, so that’s about it. Now, if you have a lot of action on the page, it won’t represent like one minute. But for dialogue, one page equals one minute, approximately.
Alright, so I’m going to go in here. Oh, this is the PDF that I made, and try to change the title. Let me try to remember how to do that. Oh, it’ll come I’ll remember. But for right now, I’m still it says untitled screenplay. I would love to change that. Let’s look through the settings here. Hmm, where are you? I want my name in there. Where spell checker barbapapa? I don’t know. We’ll we’ll have to keep digging here. I will find it. I will not give up. I won’t leave you guys hanging. You need a good title page. All right, so let’s go back in export. Is it in here somewhere? There’s the PDF that I made.
Now this is what you would send to your actors. Production Manager, cinematographer, whoever you make the PDF, you attach it to an email. You’re good to go. free of charge. All right. Where is the setting? I mean, crazy. It’s in here somewhere. It’s gonna be easy. settings new. Not in there. Keep digging. Select all those. Let’s see. No, that didn’t work. I selected the scene though.
Let’s go to the next thing.
layout. What’s that do? Not what I want side by side. I don’t know what half these things? Do. I just use it for the basics. Aha, we found it. Do you see that? title page. Okay. So by default, it’s untitled screenplay. You’ll want to change that unless your short is named untitled screenplay. It could happen. The man who saved the earth, then your name, my name here. You change that unless your name is My name here. I don’t think that could happen.
Now let’s go to your email. Because maybe you want to send it off to an agent. They aren’t able to get a hold of you. And you can put your phone number in there but I’m not going to. So the man who saved there is by Travis Gordon. Then instant classic Oscar winning. Alright, so export, you’re gonna make a PDF here. So anyone who has Adobe Acrobat, it’s a reader. There’s free PDF readers you can use as well. But most everyone on the planet can open it most times it’s the industry standard.
Alright, see open in Acrobat, and we’ve got the title. Everything looks good. Got the script. Good to go. Time to win an Oscar. I don’t know. I’m just feeling it here. Not really. So that is that. So that’s how I use trilby. The basics. You want to save your file. I recommend actually doing different versions. So it’d be a man saves the world. And then my next draft is the man saves the world version two and then on and on and on. Anyways, guys, thanks for watching. I will talk to you later.
Good luck, guys.