Screenwriting : Screenwriting Software by Paul Williams

Paul Williams

Screenwriting Software

New member of Stage32 with a question on software for screenwriting. Do you use it? Should you use it? If so, which software is worth a look? I am a copywriter by profession, so my daily grind includes writing for lots of different media in lots of different formats. Included in this is writing for TV. However, writing a 60" TV script is very different to writing a screenplay, so I'm looking to get my head into this new world before I dive in. Or should I just dive in insert winky thing ?

Paul Williams

Thanks for the reply. I'll check out any different software that people may recommend I guess. Cheers.

Michael Leahy

Apart from anything else, you'll have to share your script at some stage. And the people in the business are particular about formats. They tolerate Celtx but prefer Final Draft. One of the reasons is that it's easier to go into production from a well-formatted script that have to re-type everything in pre-production. I've noticed, however, that Celtx files can be converted to FD, but have never done it myself.

Paul Williams

Yeah, that was my main concern Michael. Thanks.

Marvin Willson

Final Draft.

Wade Taylor

The best software I would suggest is Final Draft. If you are short on money, you can use a free screenwriting software website called You just sign up and you can use that until you can afford something else.

Robin Chappell

I have used Move Magic Screenwriter for the last twelve years, and I prefer it to Final Draft (which, yes, I know many people consider to be the 'Industry Standard'). MM also has the capability to convert scripts into formats compatible with FD, as well as PDF's for sending. I have completed seven scripts (and portions of another 30 more), and I can't tell you how much easier it is to just start writing and not to have to worry about formatting. Please don't even think about not using screenwriting software, whether MM or FD. Otherwise, you're just not working professionally. You don't still use a typewriter to write with, do you? (Apologies if you do.) Spend the $150. (for the professional software). You'll find it will help immensely.

Paul Williams

Thanks for all the comments. I know where to start looking now. PS - No I don't use a typewriter. Though the idea of using one is appealing in a retro kinda way.

Michael Lockett

From experience I wrote my first screenplay in WORD and had to make sure I formatted everything correctly just to have a chance of it not ending up in the circular filing cabinet. I got Final Draft 8 almost 2 years back and couldn't be happier. What you spend (which isn;t much) is totally saved up in the countless hours in time checking and rechecking styles and names etc. and adding in all the little things that make something actually shootable.

Marvin Willson

LOL@Typewriters. Good luck with that. For those of you who don't know, if you sell a screenplay and it actually gets in to production, it has to go through many stages... 1) REWRITES - Unless you are producing/directing it yourself, the script WILL be changed, by the producers and the Director, don't argue or fight it, just trust me. 2) BREAKDOWN - The script has to be dissected for locations and timeframes, props and actors. 3) SIDES - Every day on set, the day's shooting scenes have to be printed out for cast and crew. So now you see, typing a script would not be a good idea.

Marvin Willson

Good call Martyn. I also have used Scrivener.

Paul Williams

Remember, I am British, y'all need to turn your sarcasm scanners on. I'd never use a typewriter of course. No, no, no. I much prefer a pen and paper.

Ron Brassfield

Movie Magic Screenwriter has total application stability, whereas I've heard many complaints on message boards over the years from its users about the lack thereof in Final Draft. Here's a head-to-head comparison showing features of MMS vs. FD, showing that it's a far superior value in features. And a former Final Draft user switching to Movie Magic expressed his take on the situation very well, here: For my part, I'll say that I think I like (excepting a couple of minor feature inconveniences by comparison) Movie Outline even better than Movie Magic. But I use both, and the difference seems to be in how well-developed my plotting already is before I type "Fade In." When it's more amorphous in my mind, I go to Movie Outline, as it's better for helping you develop your story as you go along than either of the others. As far as I know, all three of these do a perfectly formatted script export, but I can only speak for the latter two, as I've always bypassed Final Draft and I don't intend to own a copy of it unless it's given to me, and then I'll only use it if the producer, for some perverse reason, insists on it.

Sandy Brownlee

I most definitely use screenwriting software. I know most people seem to like Final Draft - so I broke down and bought it, after using Movie Magic for years. No comparison. Movie Magic is much easier to use. I find it's much more intuitive and much more friendly in connecting to other programs. I have no idea why people think Final Draft is the gold standard... probably because they've never used Movie Magic.

Serge Batyrshin

I use Celtx and pretty happy with it!

Rob Parnell

There comes a time when you're shaking hands with a producer - about to collaborate on making your screenplay when the inevitable happens. They ask: "Could you just email us over the Final Draft version of the script for our costing people." Nuff said, I think!

Darren Brealey

Movie Magic Screenwriter. I gave Final Draft a wide berth when they refused to provide me with an upgrade to the official software I had already and paid for. I was willing to pay for the upgraded version. They wanted me to buy the new version afresh, instead of buying the upgraded version.

Richard "RB" Botto

I work exclusively in Final Draft, although I have many friends who swear by MM. Most producers, managers, and agents simply want a properly formatted pdf. Both programs allow for that. BTW...Just a reminder. The Writers Store has been kind enough to offer all 32'ers a 10% discount on all screenwriting software and other products. Best of luck to all.

Heidi Rena Norrod

It really depends on how much money you want to invest in software. If money is no object, I'd suggest Final Draft, but if you just want to try something out, I'd suggest Celtx. I discourage using MS Word completely.

Malcolm Carter

Final Draft all day EVERYDAY, yes it's expensive, but if most of the industry is using it, it's worth the money, and you really don't have to get the updated version when they come out, because ONE version of FD is enough, I purchased my final draft version five years ago, and still use it, so it's worth the investment

Brendan Thatcher

I use Final Draft, and I love it. It formats automatically, and is easy to use.

Michael Gibrall

I use Movie Magic Screenwriter. Final Draft is also top notch. Whatever you do, buy one of these software packages, or there is a version of the Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter applications for the iPad if you have one. You can even go on eBay and buy a dated version of one of these software packages. I'm still using Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000, and it's been great.

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