Tools for Screenwriting

Beginning screenwriters often want to begin writing screenplays but don’t know where to start. They want to create professional looking scripts but don’t want to shell out large amounts of cash for Final Draft (the industry’s standard scriptwriting software) — nor should they. There are a few free screenwriting programs available for the budding screenwriter, but the major two are Celtx and Adobe Story Free.

Two Free Screenwriting Software

Capture_Celtx1.)  Celtx has risen to be the most popular free scriptwriting software out there. It has evolved from its simple beginnings as a stand alone desktop software for writing plays and screenplays to its current flashy form, which includes cloud storage and online collaborative tools. It has templates for stageplays, screenplays, audio plays, and comic books. For extra features, users will need to purchase the full version — but the free version works fine for most people.

Capture_AdobeStory2.) Adobe Story is a more recent screenwriting software, launched in 2012 as part of Adobe Creative Cloud. The free version allows users to write basic screenplays and has tools to track and organize the progress of their work. Since it’s free, it limits users to the screenwriting format and requires a subscription to write stageplays and comic books. But since it’s part of Adobe Systems, users of the cloud can access free versions of Adobe’s other softwares (such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, After Effects, Premiere, and Muse).

Examples of Scripts

Capture_IMSDbJust as reading more books allows writers to write better novels, reading more scripts will help in writing better screenplays. Two reliable websites to find sample scripts for free are Internet Movie Scripts Database (IMSDb) and the Daily Script. IMSDb, from my experience, is the most reliable website for scripts and has the most titles available–from old classics to some recent blockbusters. It is constantly updated, often publishing the scripts of movies that have just come out.

Regardless of which website you use or where you find a script, be aware that sometimes you’ll get a transcript instead of the official script. Transcripts are generally just written by viewers, while an actual screenplay is written by a hired screenwriter and is the document that producers, directors, and actors look at when creating a film. You can generally tell the difference between the two by the lack of details on the setting and camera angles in transcripts, while official screenplays include those details and more (they will also usually contain copyright warnings). It’s good to stay aware of these differences because a lot of website creators use the two terms interchangeably, so looking at the actual document is the best way to know if it’s the real script.

With these free and accessible tools, anyone can start writing scripts in no time. So, get writing! But to actually get your writing produced for the big (or small) screen you’ll need to network like crazy–finding a director, actors, a film crew, and have your own equipment of cameras, lights, and settings. Good luck and keep writing!

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