What is Screenwriting Software?

Thousands of unsolicited screenplays are mailed to Hollywood every day hopeful writers looking for their big break. This excludes scripts written successful writers, directors, and actors from within the industry. With such fierce competition, an unknown author needs every advantage he or she can get. Before even reading a single word, submitting a screenplay that is not properly formatted signals to the Hollywood reader that the writer is inexperienced. It’s possible that this is why so many aspiring screenwriters have turned to screenwriting software.

Screenwriting software automates the process of formatting a screenplay, allowing the writer to write in industry-standard format default. Writing a screenplay with screenwriting software is a breeze thanks to shortcut keys and other conveniences. There’s no need to write macros or rely on manual tabbing or guesswork because master scene headings or slug lines, character names, action, and parentheticals are all preprogrammed.

There are several screenwriting software packages available, but the industry’s two most popular are Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter (formerly ScriptThing). Scriptware, Sophocles, and Page 2 Stage are just a few examples of other screenwriting software. Whatever your preference, good screenwriting software will make it simple to type your script, allowing you to focus on the writing process.

The ability to plot out the screenplay structure, scene scene, using “virtual index cards” is a useful feature in some screenwriting software. This gives you the ability to rearrange scenes and events to see what works best. A text-to-speech module for assigning voices to character names and hearing dialog spoken aloud may also be included in the package. A spell checker and thesaurus are included as standard features.

Some software packages also include production tools, such as the ability to number scenes and keep track of revisions. Although tracking revisions is useful for writers working through drafts, most production features are geared toward the actual production process and will not be required for a writer working on spec scripts, or scripts written on the spur of the moment. A new writer may naively number scenes in the mistaken belief that it will make the screenplay look more professional, when in fact it will reveal the writer’s inexperience.

A writer can use closely related software packages in addition to screenwriting software to define and develop characters and storylines. Although some of these software packages include scriptwriting capabilities, the emphasis is on the creative side, or story development tools. StoryView, StoryCraft, and Dramatica are a few well-known and popular examples.

Each writer must identify the tools required to complete the writing process. One package may be ideal for some people, while another may find it distracting or difficult. The majority of story development and screenwriting software packages provide free trial versions.