All the free screenwriting software available right now
Script readers can quickly tell when a screenplay hasn’t been formatted correctly and with that comes the immediate recognition that it’s been written by an inexperienced writer. Not the best first impression you want to make if you’re trying to break in. You’ve got to show you’re taking the profession seriously, and that means using screenwriting software. And why wouldn’t you? It does all the work for you when it comes to page layout.
But screenwriting software is expensive, I get it.
It’s a lot to fork out if you’ve just started out and perhaps aren’t quite committed to the craft. I hold my hands up and admit, I’m a Final Draft fan. It’s the screenwriting software I learned to write scripts on, and if it ain’t broke, I don’t need to fix it. So, yes, I’m a little biased, however, there are plenty of other options out there that do just as good a job.
Excluding free trials, here’s a list of every free piece of screenwriting software currently available (as of May 2023).
(N.B. take "easy to use" with a pinch of salt here. Those are the software developers words, not mine.)
WriterDuet - This cloud-based software offers a free version as well as paid plans. The free version allows for up to three scripts and has basic features such as real-time collaboration, revision history, and export options.
Pros: User-friendly interface, great collaboration features. Cons: Limited features in the free version, some formatting issues.
Celtx - This cloud-based software offers a free version as well as paid plans. The free version includes basic scriptwriting and pre-production tools, including scriptwriting, scheduling, and storyboarding.
Pros: Comprehensive pre-production tools, scriptwriting templates available.
Cons: Limited features in the free version, can be slow to load.
Trelby - This free, open-source software offers basic screenwriting features such as formatting, scene headings, and character names.
Pros: Simple and user-friendly interface, supports multiple languages.
Cons: Limited features compared to paid software, not as many export options.
Dubscript - This screenwriting app is designed specifically for writing screenplays in the correct format for film and TV. The app is available for Android devices and is simple and easy to use.
Pros: Free to use; user-friendly interface; allows for easy sharing of scripts.
Cons: Limited features compared to other software; only available on Android devices.
Page 2 Stage - Available for Windows and Mac, this free open source software has a simple, easy-to-use interface that allows writers to create and format their scripts easily.
Pros: Free to use; simple interface; allows for easy organization of scenes and characters.
Cons: Limited features compared to other software; not as widely used as other software.
Fountain - This free, open-source markup language is designed for screenwriting. It can be used with any text editor and allows writers to write their scripts in a simple, easy-to-use format.
Pros: Free to use; can be used with any text editor; simple and easy-to-use.
Cons: Limited features compared to other software; requires knowledge of markup language.
Arc Studio: This handy screenwriting software allows you to create and edit scripts in real-time collaboration with other writers.
Pros: Collaborative feature, user-friendly interface, and free.
Cons: Limited formatting options compared to other screenwriting software, not as well-known.
Casuality: This is cloud-based, which means you can access your work from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s a new kind of writing app where you develop your story visually, giving you an incredible overview of even very complex stories.
Pros: Cloud-based, automatic saving, easy to use.
Cons: Limited functionality, may not have as many features as other paid screenwriting software. The Free version comes with a 10-page limit.
Kit Scenarist: Kit Scenarist is a free and open-source screenwriting software that allows you to create and organize your screenplays with ease.
Pros: Open-source, free, available for multiple platforms.
Cons: May not have as many features as other paid screenwriting software, not as well-known.
Milanote: Milanote is a free screenwriting software that allows you to create visual and organized notes for your screenplays.
Pros: User-friendly interface, allows for visual organization, free.
Cons: Not specifically designed for screenwriting, may not have as many features as other screenwriting software.
Prewrite: This screenwriting software focuses mostly on the outlining and planning stages of screenwriting.
Pros: Helps with the outlining process, free, user-friendly interface.
Cons: Limited functionality, may not have as many features as other screenwriting software. The Free version comes with a one story limit.
StudioBinder: StudioBinder is a screenwriting software that offers a free version with a 1 project limit. It seamlessly connect scripts to the world’s leading production software to create an 'All in one hub'.
Pros: Professional features, available for multiple platforms, the free version is suitable for basic screenwriting needs.
Cons: Limited features in the free version, the paid version is quite expensive compared to other screenwriting software.
“BY screenwriters, FOR screenwriters”, YouMeScript is a free collaborative screenplay, script, and screenwriting extension for Google Drive. YouMeScript correctly formats the screenplay including auto-formatting pasted text
Pros: Allows for real-time collaboration with other writers, easy-to-use interface, allows for import/export of scripts in various formats.
Cons: Limited formatting options and features compared to paid software, can be glitchy at times.
This open source multilingual screenwriting app is for Mac and PC. All features are 'Free to use' for registered users, but eventually, there will be a paid version as they move out of beta and launch the 1.0 update.
Pros: Offers a unique "Structure" feature that helps with outlining and organizing story elements, supports multiple languages, and allows for real-time collaboration with other writers.
Cons: Limited formatting options compared to other software, still in beta version with some bugs.
So, while yes, there’s a ton of free screenwriting software out there, (not including free trials), some are certainly better than others. They may not have all the bells and whistles of paid software; they can still be a great way to get started on your writing journey. Obviously, it's important to consider what features are most important to you and to test out different options to find the one that works best for your needs.