Who has time to format margins and check for typos? You’ve got a movie to make, after all. But your script will never progress beyond a reader’s desk and into a potential financier’s hands unless it is created using the industry-standard format. Although you should know the rules by heart, these programs can help you avoid mistakes with relative ease—and not a lot of dough.
Celtx (FREE; www.celtx.com) • Celtx will coax you through any and all of your pre-production needs—creating industry-formatted screenplays, storyboarding your entire flick and even putting together schedules, call sheets and shooting reports. The user-friendly interface is mixed with just the right number of options to keep your script professionally creative.
Contour ($49.95; www.marinersoftware.com) • Developed by Emmy-nominated screenwriter Jeffrey Alan Schechter, Contour is a story development system designed to turn your movie idea into a solid outline with the same kind of character-based structure that today’s most successful screenwriters use. Contour guides you through the crucial elements that must be part of your story outline and explores the major storytelling secrets needed to craft a highly marketable movie (i.e. how your protagonist’s journey can be expressed through archetypal themes). All you need is a great idea!
Final Draft ($249.00; www.finaldraft.com) • Creative energy is the only prerequisite for using Final Draft, which formats everything from character names to page numbers to industry standards. Plus, with the international edition, there are more than 15 languages from which to choose. All that and easy compatibility with both Macs and PCs, so switching between computers is easy.
Truby’s Blockbuster Software ($179.00; www.truby.com) • Learn how to turn original ideas into fleshed out storylines ready for the big screen. Blockbuster guides you through the best techniques of character development, scene order and the essential 22 building blocks of every great story, as well as the six steps to writing a dynamic script.
Master Writer ($199.00; www.masterwriter.com) • Struggling to find the perfect word or phrase to make your script truly sing? Enter Master Writer. The program features an array of searchable reference dictionaries under such categories as word families, parts of speech, phrases, rhymes, thesaurus and much more. Also included is a project database, which organizes all of the information related to your script in a helpful way. With a rich and seemingly endless source of descriptive word possibilities, Master Writer ensures you’ll always be able to find unique, creative language to improve your masterpiece.
Montage ($99.95; www.marinersoftware.com) • Montage was built to be intuitive in order to save screenwriters as much time as possible. That intuition makes it so you don’t have to type a character’s name over and over, or change the font every time a character opens his or her mouth. Montage offers advice at every turn and also allows to you send and track your script to hundreds of included industry contacts.
Movie Magic Screenwriter ($199.95-$209.95; www.screenplay.com) • Ten minutes of fooling around and a solid knowledge of the Tab and Return keys are about all you need to start your screenwriting career with Movie Magic Screenwriter. Writer-directors in particular will benefit from the program’s many production features, including production tracking and breakdown reports.
Movie Outline ($199.95; www.movieoutline.com) • Movie Outline takes the complexity out of the screenwriting process. The program is based on the principle of step-outlining, which allows scribes to easily plan and organize their script structure, develop characters and format their screenplays, scene-by-scene. With an array of unique features and helpful advice (including instructions on how to color-code your structure and isolate dialogue and voice-over), Movie Outline provides the tools you need to help make the transition from initial outline to final draft.
Power Structure & Power Writer ($99.95-$129.95; www.powerstructure.com) • Whatever your creative issues might be, Power Structure is committed to solving your writing problems. The program helps to outline and organize your good ideas, thus turning them into a great story. The system operates on nine views critical to your story and, as you write within each view, your story improves. Power Writer features fully integrated outlining and story development tools so you can focus on writing your script. Outlines, notes, ideas, character arcs and much more are always in sync with the actual text, regardless of how much you edit or rewrite.
Save the Cat ($89.95; www.blakesnyder.com) • Created by successful writer-producer Blake Snyder, Save the Cat helps to structure your screenplay by developing a powerful log line and title, choosing one of 10 genres with recognizable traits to help you write (Monster in the House, Dude with a Problem, etc.) and a fill-in-the-blank beat sheet featuring the 15 key beats for every screenplay (Opening Image, Theme Stated, Set-Up, Catalyst, etc.). Also included is a version of “The Board,” the infamous device seen in studio execs’ offices all over Hollywood, which allows you to “see” your movie (broken down into a four-row chart) before you begin writing.
Scripped (FREE; www.scripped.com) • This screenwriting software separates itself from the pack with its own brand of Internet-based script creation. Rather than limiting yourself to one computer, Scripped gives you the opportunity to log in from any Internet-ready connection and get to work—which is great when you’re writing as part of a team. No need to worry about the safety of your projects, either; all accounts are private and no one will have access to your writing except little old you.
Write Brothers ($199.95-$269.00; www.write-bros.com) • Write Brothers has a software solution for just about every common scribe affliction: Dramatica Pro asks questions specific to each story so writers can be sure their plot and character development are on the right track. With StoryView, writers can organize their ideas in a way that makes sense to others, so that the script you imagine doesn’t stay locked in your very own brain. MM