View Full Version : Anyone tried screenwriting softwares ??

12 December 2004, 02:56 PM
I'm interested to know if screenwriting softwares are useful (especially for short films) or just some word-like gadget...
I found 2 of them on over the net like Final Draft ( and Movie Magic Screenwriter. (

They seem to be very professional software as the price and the screenshot show...

Personaly when i have an idea i begin to wrote it on a simple piece of paper then i develop it with Word...

So is it interesting ? If you have other names and you find them good feel free to share with us...


12 December 2004, 03:28 PM
Hey Cipher,
Having taken both screenwriting and directing at my university, for writing a script, we used the Scrennwriter's Bible by David Trotter (3rd Edition ISDN: 1-879505-44-4). For my Directing class, we used Directing-Film Techniques And Aesthetics by Michael Rabiger (3rd Edition ISBN: 0-240-80517-8).
Though the programs you mentioned seem to be the most used, I would highly recommend learning the basics of script writing structure from the book. That way you will have alot better understanding of what those programs offer as far as options go. I have messed around with the demo of Movie Magic, and at first, all the options it offers was a little overwhelming till I learned how to write in school. The industry is pretty set as to how a script is expected to be structured, and just what content it should have, depending on whether it's a draft (you should end up with many drafts!) , a final draft, or a shooting script. Read the book several times! Then you'll know alot more clearly how to proceed with your idea. I mention directing because theres alot that goes on with a script once it has reached a director, and having an idea of how a production works with a script will help you to better retain the "spirit" of what you first put on paper. A director takes many libertys with a script, so do not get too attached to it! By the time it's a shooting script, it's not yours anymore anyway, unless you do the whole production.
I hope this helps your venture some. Good Luck!

12 December 2004, 10:35 PM
Having written tons and tons of scripts for various media (comics, film, TV, animation) I have to say that I'm still in love with Word templates. I've tried Final Draft and a lot of the freeware programs out there, and nothing beats the simplicity and variety you can get by building a good template. Not to mention that if you're in the middle of a script for a short film, and then you decide that it's getting a little long, you can just adjust a few parameters and viola! Full length script format.

The only downside to this is that you do have to know the many many quirks of each format. I have a standard format I use for my own work, but when I'm submitting it to a company, the first phone call I make is to the submissions department to find out exactly which script format they use. It can vary company to company.

12 December 2004, 11:49 PM
Besides using Word templates, I use a program called Sophocles, It has a few analysis tools without getting too cumbersome. It was easy to learn.

For me, the oddest story development software has to be Dramatica, Its story theory is so complex, it's literally about as difficult to learn as a 3d app.

12 December 2004, 12:11 AM
I use SceneWriterPro from (

Nice and cheap, and the way scenes are handled makes it easy to manage your plot, jot down notes, and find the scenes you want to work on. I find it much easier to use than a word processor.

12 December 2004, 06:20 AM
I've tried just about all the storywriting development softwares out there, and most of them are very limiting or too tedius to use except for one, but I forget which one. LOL The fact is, if you couldn't write without one, you won't be able to write with one either. No software will turn you into a good writer, all they do is help you organize and brainstorm ideas and story detail, but if you don't have the talent or good taste, all you're doing is polishing turd anyway. Writing and music absolutely takes raw talent, more so than art or photography. One simply cannot be taught to produce excellent works in writing or music, but most people can be taught to turn out some pretty decent photography or artworks.

As far as screenwriting softwares go, they all have their pros and cons. I tested all the major ones out extensively, with two rising to the top--Final Draft and Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000. Sophicle has interesting features, but overall lacks compared to the stronger two. Other than these three, all the other ones I tested shouldn't even be bothered with unless you can't afford the better ones.

12 December 2004, 09:14 AM
Great, a lot of ideas in there right now that's cool !

As i could read, screenwriting softwares are good tools to organize and give a shape to the writings...
As i'm still a self taught/futur student i will take a look at the Bossgator's book advices in order to learn more about theories and principles... and then if i need a software i will go for them but they first seem very useful for profesional in the industry and not necessary for a student like me...


12 December 2004, 10:41 PM
Microsoft Word works fine. I've used some screenwriting programs and in the end even textpad will work as long as you can get soemthing down...

12 December 2004, 03:26 AM
I don't know about these "pros" programs but what I do know is that when I have an idea I will write down what the basic "units" are and then develop my character or characters. When I have all that onto paper I will open my very old friend microsoft word and then I'll start writing.

Then I will take my script appart and outline the shots and camera angles.

Now if anyone could come up with a "sceneStoryboarder Pro" I'd be very grateful because that would save me countless hours on storyboarding :beer:

12 December 2004, 02:43 PM - Very good screenwritting program

12 December 2004, 05:15 PM
Writing and music absolutely takes raw talent, more so than art or photography. One simply cannot be taught to produce excellent works in writing or music, but most people can be taught to turn out some pretty decent photography or artworks.

I don't agree. I think you're biased because you are more professionalized in photography and art so you see the ordered matrix more readily in those fields. what people see in your art work as raw talent, you recognize as a compunded series of techniques which have become second nature to you. The very same is true in music and writing, there are formulas and techniques behind everything. I ran a professional music studio for 5 years, making music for TV commercials and radio as well as regional record labels. Anyone with enough time and motivation can learn the series of techniques it takes to make great music. I believe the true genius behind the genius in any artistic field is being able to find the time and motivation to push for the highest levels.

Talent is a formula.

Anyway, on topic. I use Final Draft, and it's worth it because it increases your speed. And speed increases your quality because the more interations you can make of reviewing your work, the better it will be. When you write, write fast.

12 December 2004, 05:50 PM
Talent is a formula. I don't know. I'm a firm believer that formula is the death of talent. Formula is what's killing Hollywood & TV. You CAN teach somebody to write. You just can't teach them to be creative.

Anyway, back to the subject... I use MS Word. Programs like final draft are good, but I prefer to go it alone, as I know the basic writing conventions for screenplays.

12 December 2004, 10:17 PM
Any FREE Mac OSX stuff for screen writing. I really new in this area of conceptualization so any app that would speed up the process is a big help.

12 December 2004, 12:55 AM
I used MS word for awhile and really couldn't get into I went with Final Draft and I love it. Its really easy to use and even easier to learn. I haven't written anything in awhile tho but yeah, Final Draft is a great program.

12 December 2004, 05:00 AM
I don't know. I'm a firm believer that formula is the death of talent. Formula is what's killing Hollywood & TV. You CAN teach somebody to write. You just can't teach them to be creative.
But remember that sometimes working within the confines of a formula or system can be a breeding ground for creativity.

12 December 2004, 10:12 AM
Here's a link to some free MAC and WINDOWS script templates provided by the nice people at the BBC.

12 December 2004, 01:31 PM

The nice people at the BBC provide these free script templates:

12 December 2004, 12:24 PM
Hmm.. looking at your original question about screenwriting sw for SHORT films, I think it's almost overkill to use a "real" screenwriting software, unless you're gonna be sharing the script w/ lots of other people, or pitching it to a major studio and needing to look "professional." Also, short CG films tend to have limited dialogue (Pixar shorts usually have zero w/ the exception of "Boundin'"), and most of these sw are geared towards dialogue writing. So I think MS Word or your favorite word processor may be good enough. In my personal experience in shorts filmmaking, I've always put the emphasis on visual storytelling... which translates to lots of time spent in conceptual drawings, storyboarding, and animatics rather than dialogue. This is probably because animated shorts tend to lend themselves to this.


12 December 2004, 02:21 PM
Mine has just a couple of dialogues but it has a lot of monologues :beer:

Anywayz. I think SamChen has a point. If the script is going to be used only by the people working with you and will not be shared with "pros" I don't see the need for a screenwritting software :wavey:

12 December 2004, 08:40 PM
The software for screenwriting is there for putting your words into a pro format that people in the movie buisness,if it is not formated correctly and submitted to a reader,it will 99,9% be bin`d,no matter how hard you have worked on it,if you are lucky to give it to the top guy,the chances are he will give it to a reader to look at it,and the it will be bin`d,type it up in word by all means but forwarned is forarmed,also final draft does do short scripts even if it was 1 page long.

Also a reader could be anyone, a receptionist,a friend,lover,not the guy who you will want to read it.....and you will find out that they also write scripts,as does everybody,and if they have a laugh at your great idea,but not formatted correctly....guess where your script will end up?

01 January 2005, 11:30 PM
I'd say Final Draft.... but that's because my exposure to Screenwriter renamed all of the folders on my computer when I tried to uninstall it. Talk about a moment of panic... I had to rename them all from memory... NOT FUN.

I will never use a Movie Magic product on my own machine again.

01 January 2005, 06:40 PM
I don't know. I'm a firm believer that formula is the death of talent. Formula is what's killing Hollywood & TV. You CAN teach somebody to write. You just can't teach them to be creative.

You can't teach someone to be creative, but you don't have to. Everyone is creative by nature, and if they could get their technique to a very high level they'll be sure to pipe it through their own creative channels. It's kind of like, everyone can speak the same language, but no two people sound the same.

I also agree that formula is the death of talent - in the way that it's applied widely in Hollywood and especially TV, on a film like 'National Treasure' for example - but that's not really what I mean when I say that Talent is a formula. I'm saying that I believe that the chain of events that lead to what we commonly consider as genius in current society, is probably less mysterious than we make it out to be most of the time. We treat genius almost like religion and place it on this pedestable that's indescribable, and unattainable for most - either you have it or you don't and know one knows how you get it, such that 'talent' is to creativity much like 'faith' is to religion. You've just got to have 'faith' in religion, but if you try to go further and be critical about breaking down exactly what that 'faith' is, you've crossed the line. That's okay for religion, but it shouldn't be that way in the creative industry. I think we should continue to push the line to define the building blocks of what 'talent' is, instead of accepting the mysterious "You've got talent, or you don't." Just remember each generation aggressively gains new knowledge and dispels ideas which were once mysteries. Talent is just one of those mysteries that will eventually be dispelled once we have more and more insight into the workings of the human mind. I'm not saying that individuals will no longer shine far and above the rest, but I believe it will increasingly less of a mystery as to why they shine and how they got there.

Yes, Hollywood uses formulas, but the formula they have is an oversimplified one and that's why it doesn't work. Using this as an example you can look at a film that turned out brilliant and if you look at the factors that went into it it will be clear why that film shined. Extra time taken to develop the storyline. Care taken to deliberately "break" the established Hollywood formula. Attention to keep the atmosphere current. A director with experience but also with a hunger specifically for that project. Good catering which made for a synergistic chemistry among cast and crew throughout the project. All the elements adding up to result in a brilliant film. A formula which is more complex than the one Hollywood tries to apply, and not necessarily one that is reproducable (but maybe), but a formula nonetheless.

Look at Pixar. 100% track record making brilliant films. They've got some kind of formula which is at work.

01 January 2005, 07:26 PM
My favourite of the free software available is Celtx. It's quite user friendly and has some nice features.

One feature in particular is that it allows you to host your script in their database (privately or openly) so that you can share it with others, or work on it with someone via the site.

It also allows you to attach sample movie clips, sound files, and pictures to your script file.

The only downside i've spotted so far, is that you cannot create a cover page for your script with it. However, you can easily fix one up in word and print it seperately, so it's no big deal.

It works with mac and windows, and it is still in development.

You can download it from

01 January 2005, 04:49 PM
Hi Nudnik,

Thanks for the heads up on celtx, i'm going to give it a try.

01 January 2005, 11:50 PM
I agree with lunatic, it's the artists raw talent that is the most important, software won't make it easier. With that said, I have to saythe programs we keep hearing about (especially Final Draft) are good, but frnakly have too many bells and whistles for me. I use a small, portable (i carry it on my flash drive) and FREE program called Rough Draft. This little programs helps with the formatting of novels/plays/screenplays and has a couple of really useful features. A lot of people like the "press a button and check everything" approach to software. Me, I like the, "help me format and write it easily and I'll take my highlighter and pen to it afterward". I guess it all depends on what you want.

You can find Rough Draft at:

01 January 2005, 02:42 AM
Also, be advised that you might find some differences between the UK and Hollywood accepted formats... margins and such.So even with the free apps, make sure they're capable of delivering the end result that you're going to need (or be able to export it to what you'll need).

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